Montana Again

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Rest Area Interstate 84, exit 188, Hermiston, Oregon, December 16, 2016

   I passed this rest area just before the exit to my assigned fuel stop.  When I got to the truck Stop, there was a line of trucks backed up on the ramp up to the fuel islands,  The road was gravel with frozen slush and trucks were slipping around like so many novice ice skaters.  A rig coming out stopped and the driver put down his window, as I did in response.  He tells me to avoid the place unless I need fuel.  I did need fuel of course.  I am instructed to buy fuel here and there is no escape, but I thanked him for trying.  To say this did not bode well is to belabor the obvious.  Why did he stop to speak to me specifically, ignoring the others in line?  I can only guess that he was once a driver for The Company, like myself. 

   When the column of trucks moved forward, my wheels slipped.  I had locked the differential and so had all eight drive wheels spinning.  Fortunately, no one was yet behind me.  I let the whole rig slide back a bit and then steered off the  frozen slush ruts to newer snow, a trick I had just recently learned while walking to rest area bathrooms.  That made some forward progress possible.

  Most of my readers are unfamiliar with icy sidewalks, so while I am on the subject of walking on ice, it also pays to take small steps, keep your hands free to wave around for balance and don’t let anyone rush you.  I was exiting the commuter train station in Oslo, Norway once  (I worked for a Norwegian company, then). All the locals were in a hurry to get somewhere and I was swept up in the crowd.  I made a faux pas (French for “stupid mistake” – I never learned Norwegian) and I slipped on that invisible trap they call black ice.  I landed on the back of my head.  Lucky it wasn’t some important part.  It must have looked bad because a woman screamed.  I told my coworkers about it and for the rest of the week, they watched me for demented behavior – more than usual, that is.

   The fuel islands were chaos.  The truck ahead of me could not gain traction and he finally threw his tire chains under his wheels to make it to the pumps.  He wasn’t the first one to try that.  When I got to the pumps, I found some poor miscreant’s set of tire chains frozen in the ice.  I managed to fuel the tractor and pull up past the islands, to find what military men call a Charlie Foxtrot.  As I am sure I have mentioned before, this is a mnemonic phrase for an abbreviation of a “colorful” (obscene) expression for a massively confused and disorganized collection of human activity.  I did not take any pictures, because no one likes to be recorded in their misery and because I was busy struggling to get by, myself.

   After fueling there was a bottleneck to exit where six lanes converge to one and trucks attempting to park are sliding around blocking the way.  Forty five minutes later, I was back on the entrance ramp, but exiting.  I wanted to warn the poor fool I saw entering, but I was in no mood to stop.  So, I just made the sigh of the cross at him (May God bless you, my son).  He was probably wondering what I was trying to tell him.  I am sure it occurred to him a bit later. 😉

   There might have been a space I could have snagged by blocking the flow, but I wanted out of there.  Dante’s Inferno includes a section of Hell where sinners are imbedded in a frozen icy plane and this was beginning to resemble same. 

   I intentionally reversed my course (a trucker taboo) on the Interstate, found an overpass and returned to this rest area that I passed before.  There were two other trucks with three spaces between them.  I pulled into the center one.

I84RestAreaSereneScene.jpgAbove:  The serenity of the Rest Area contrasts with the Dante’s Inferno of the Frozen Truck Stop

 

I promised Montana pictures and I have not forgotten.  Events accumulate quickly in this Walkabout and I struggle to keep up. Things worthy of notice happen while I am remembering events of days past. Hence, this method of the standard font when remembering and the italics to describe what is happening in the moment.  If it confuses you, imagine how I feel!  About half the time, I can’t say what State I am in (other than that State of Confusion).

I am a bit like Columbus.  He did not know where he was going, didn’t know where he was when he got there and didn’t know where he had been when he got back.

MoonnOverMontana1.jpg

The Moon over Montana, setting just before the sun rises behind me.

MoonnOverMontanaMountain2.jpg

Arriving at those distant mountains seen before.  The sky brightens with the dawn

GnarlyMountain.jpgGnarly mountains garnished with fresh snow

Outcrop2.jpgAn outcropping of rock too steep for trees interrupts the forest.

RiverDirtyWindshield.jpgA river crossing.  Please excuse the dirty windshield.  Some of the most impressive views are not available for photography since bridges and the winding mountain pass roads require two-handed attention.  This one was an “easy bridge”.  I remind the readers that the walls at the edges of bridges and scenic steep drop-offs are about three feet tall.  That would stop a passenger car from careening over the edge.  But, my Decaton cargo is stacked on a trailer floor that starts at about three feet above the ground and continues to a height approaching fourteen feet.  It would easily careen over the wall and into a river or over a thousand foot cliff.  The wall, in fact would only insure that the rig would tumble into the abyss, rather than merely plunge into same.  Therefore, I must admit that many of the most stunning vistas pass unphotographed while I strangle the steering wheel with both hands!

NationalForest.jpg 

Through a National Forest.  

RiverValley1.jpgThe river shares the valley with the highway.

RestArea.jpgA snow covered rest area somewhere in the middle.  I should make notes of where these pictures are taken.   So quickly pass the miles and the vivid scenery that time and place are soon forgotten.

      

A Study in Contrast.  Very black cows on very white snow

MontanaSnowMoonlit.jpgMoonshine on the snow illuminates the landscape in a soft and eerie blue light.  I am not sure what caused that streak, just left of center.  I am sure it is not a comet, because I’ve seen a few.

MontanaSnowValleyMajestic2.jpgOut of the mountain pass into a valley.  The photos just do not convey the majesty of the vista that reveals itself to me as I descend.  It was far more breathtaking than what you see here.  I guess you just have to be there in person to get the full impact.  You may begin to understand what drives me to travel.

EndMontana.jpgThe mountains loom over me as I glance (keeping eyes mostly on the road) up at them.  I am only half-joking when I say that I could have sold tickets for the trip I made across Big Sky Country.  The photos may hint at that awesome beauty, but far more vivid images remain only in my memory.  This is a sign for Exit Zero, at the Western end of Montana. 

 

Over The Road

Steve

Whence Electricity?

SteveTrucker2    DreamVacations    June 15, 2018

The word “whence” is a Middle English term that means “from where”.  Use of this word has the advantage of eliminating dangling prepositions (as in:  Where does electricity come from?) and avoidance of sounding like Yoda (Comes from where, electricity?).

A great many people have the idea that it is possible to eliminate “fossil fuels” and nuclear power from our energy supplies and that “electricity” is the means by which that will be accomplished.  That “Renewable Ideal” is founded upon a grand misconception and a stunning lack of common sense – as will become apparent while we contemplate  this question: “Whence Electricity?”.

The Reality as it Exists (2016)

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory does a survey of US energy use every year.  The results are published in a flow chart that requires considerable snaky-eyed concentration to understand.  But, I eyed the 2016 Livermore data for you to make this simple pie-chart of electricity in percentage by source:

All graphs are generated by the author and the numbers are from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories

WhenceElectricity
Figure 1:  85 percent of electric generation is from “fossil fuels” or nuclear power plants

Note: For purposes of this report, commercial sources of energy are capitalized – as in the graph above.

The most obvious lesson here is that Coal, Natural Gas and Nuclear power (with a tiny bit of Petroleum) provide the vast majority – some eighty five percent – of electric generation in the US. The remaining 15% that might be considered to be “environmentally correct” – we will refer to them as “Renewables”.

If you did not know this before, you will be further surprised that the amount of “Fossil Fuel” (and Nuclear) to be replaced in the electric grid is just the beginning of the task.

Limitations

There are some limitations that characterize the sources called “Renewables” that must be considered.

Hydro-Electric Generation (Hydro)

Hydro is a simple, inexpensive and reliable source of electricity that – unfortunately – has lost its “Green Credentials”.   Environmental “wisdom” doesn’t like those dams on rivers and they are now “all-in” on tearing them down.  Hydro is dwindling slowly and can be expected to die a slow, lingering death by Green politics.  You may think of Hydro as “Renewable” and that’s fine.  If you want to claim it is reliable, this reporter will disagree.  Your Humble Narrator once visited his in-laws in Bogota, Columbia (he’s a diplomat).  They had rolling black-outs because their Hydro projects were suffering from an extended drought (and funds for electrical development that somehow were mis-directed to politicians’ pockets).  Blind luck that the Bogota (La Ciudad de Nuestra Señora, Santa Fe De Bogota) has a climate mild enough to do without power at home for 8 hours.  Kerosene lamps, candles and propane stoves were enough to get by.  Business is another matter and the streets of the Capital were filled with gasoline generators running furiously outside the buildings and snaky extension cords going inside.  Hydro requires back-up – even if ad-hoc.

Biomass

The source of Biomass in electricity generation is mostly industrial and agricultural waste that is burned to generate electricity.  Those sources exist because engineers are making efficient use of what would otherwise be an expense nuisance. Most of those opportunities have already been realized, but you may count on that increasing as industry itself expands.  Ethanol and biodiesel are generally not used to generate electricity but do make up a small percentage of transportation fuel (which we have not addressed in this electric discussion).

Geothermal

The U.S. has the most Geothermal generation of any country and it is still quite small when compared to the total.  It could be expanded, but since it typically involves drilling holes in the Earth, fracturing and using groundwater for a working fluid (unlike petroleum operations), it is also in danger of losing its “Green Credentials”.

Wind

Wind is currently subsidized by tax credits and production mandates which make them quite profitable to build.  There are major windfarms now under construction.  This author has seen fields of hundreds of turbines now being erected in Texas and Kansas – as well as a vast staging yard with parts for hundreds more.  Wind provides the dominant part of growth in Renewable generation.

Solar

Photoelectric and solar-furnace generation is small but growing, though not as quickly as Wind.

ConventionalANDGreenGrowth
Figure 2: Current “Conventional Electricity and the growth of Renewable

Wind and Solar provide pretty much the only significant growth in Renewables. And that growth amounts to: 0.29 Quadrillion BTUs per year.  You see that growth rate graphed as a vertical green bar (i.e., flat green square) next to the orange bar representing 2016 total Conventional electricity capability that the Renewable Ideal would have us replace.

To examine what this “replacement” will require, we will assume that

  1. Electric Demand will not increase (except for all that transportation now fueled by Petroleum).
  2. That ONLY Gasoline and Natural Gas will be replaced. This allows us to avoid the obvious problems in making electric airplanes, trains and ships.  The alert reader will point out that ships and trains already are propelled by electric motors.  And, the author will point out that those vehicles get their electricity by burning Diesel fuel.
  3. That Wind and Solar plants either last forever or for 50 years (both are unrealistically long).

The graph below shows the timeline for replacement of the Conventional Electric Generation (orange line) and for replacement of both that and the Gasoline and Natural Gas transportation.

TimeBeforeGreenReplacement
Figure 3: Current Electric capacity (orange) plus Gasoline transport (yellow).  Assumed Green growth (green – doh!) and green growth with 50-year lifetime (blue).

The orange line represents total “Conventional” electric generation for 2016 and we have assumed that will not increase.  The yellow line is the total of Conventional electric and Gasoline energy expended in the Transportation sector.  We have assumed that neither of these will increase.  The green line represents Renewable generation increasing at the same rate as the last two years – when it has been quite actively increasing at unsustainable rates.  It is assumed that Renewable installations last forever.

In that case, full replacement of Conventional generation can be had by 2109 and replacement of that plus Gasoline and Natural Gas by 2169.

If – on the other hand – it is assumed that such installations last 50 years (a bit more reasonable, but again, overly generous) the years of both “replacement” points can be changed to “never” – as indicated by the blue curve.

There is More

Wind and Solar – which make up the Lion’s share of Renewable growth – are intermittent by their very nature.  Solar interruptions are mostly as predictable as the sunset and cause about a 60% full-blown outage every single day.  Wind on the other hand, can fail you at any moment  –  either by calm or storm.  Your Humble Narrator has seen whole wind farms in Wyoming standing idle in the fierce winds that frequent that state.  They would have been torn apart in the shifting, gusting conditions if they weren’t locked down.

Intermittent energy sources are dependent on other sources of generation.  The most clearly relevant of those others are Coal and Gas.  Nuclear has so long been long demonized and over-regulated that it will, at best stay constant, and will be of little help in backing up Wind and Solar.

One might come up with the idea of more Renewables as backup.  It does not require much thought to see the flaw in that reasoning.

What that means is that Conventional sources of electricity simply cannot be replaced unless you can convince every electric customer to live with intermittent service. That did not happen in the aforementioned Bogota example and will not happen here.  However, the attempt would make for Gargantuan sales of home generators – make mine a diesel, please.

Conclusion

So, the “All renewable” points in that graph are nothing less that Absolute Fantasy.  Wind and Solar must be backed up completely (that is to say 100%) with Fossil Fuels or Nukes!

Even if we imagine that windmills and solar panels last forever – after 90 to 150 years of hideous expense, there will be just as much “non-renewable” electric capacity as before.  The difference will be that the non-renewable plants will mostly be wastefully idling, waiting for the Sun to go down or the winds to calm.

Hasta Luego,

Steve

P.S.  Some of you are saying, “What about batteries, then?”

First off, you sound like Brits.

Second, I will address this in “Around Robin Hood’s Barn in an Electric Car – Part Two”

One, Two, Three, Etc.

For Saturday June 9:        One, Two, Three, Etc. is an arts and craft company that offers Peruvian  jewelry, ornaments and accessories at local Craft Shows and Farmers’ Markets.

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Proprietor Maria is also a Dream Vacations travel agent.    Saturday, June 9 find the company at the Energy Corridor Farmers’ Market (E.C.F.M.) at 14710 Grisby Rd.
Houston, TX 77079 near Highway 6 and the Katy (I-10) Freeway.  Please see the map below.     Drop by and have a look, after Nine AM.

(It may enhance attendance to  know  that there will be a beer festival nearby).  😉

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One Climate Fact – Introduction

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    Once, I accepted – without examination – the idea that human activities might cause Global Warming.
   A Geologist colleague did not debate me, but rather challenged me to research the topic and come to an informed  conclusion.
   He was right and I am a Geophysicist with the tools, talent and temperament to do such  research.  That was over twenty years ago and I have since “done the math”, “paid my dues”, “done the due diligence” and examined the facts.
   My conclusion is that the idea of Man-made climate change is a political fiction.
   If I can get people to sit still and listen to me present the facts for an hour or so, I can show them (with facts, charts, graphs, data, references and quotes) exactly how I came to that conclusion.  That has happened a few times.  But, most people do not or will not willingly sit in a room and listen to a lecture.  It’s too much like going to school and they spent a large fraction of their youth doing that and most of them don’t want anything to do with further such activity.
   So, I have come up with this idea.  Take ONE FACT about the subject and present it with clarity and completeness.  Then, do that again with another fact.
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The Grand Ice Age

SteveTrucker2    DreamVacations OneClimateFact 

Not long ago, one of my Road Trip Interest Group members (you know who you are) asked this question:

“When was the last Ice Age?”

The term “Ice Age” is somewhat ambiguous. Fluctuations in the Earth’s climate are extreme and take place over many periods of time.  There have been eras when the Earth was completely devoid of ice.  There have been other times when all the Earth’s oceans had completely turned to ice.  So, when was the last “Ice Age”?

The most recent time that has been referred to that name was the “Little Ice Age”(LIA).  When exactly that was depends on who you ask.  The chart below defines the LIA as being between the years 1400 and 1800 AD.  This was a time that saw mountain villages in Europe consumed by glaciers.  The “Frost Fairs” on the frozen River Thames in London happened at these times and the story of Hans Brinker, likewise.  There is ample evidence of the LIA in art, literature and history.   Below is a graph of results for last two millenia of proxy derived temperature differences.  You see the Little Ice Age as well as what came before.

Timespan:  2000 Years

MWP_LIA
Figure 1: The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA).

These are differences in temperatures derived from examination of cylinders of ice drilled out of an ice sheet. Where that zero axis falls depends on how much time is included in the graph.  So, these data do not tell us what a thermometer would have said then.  But, the historical record tells us that during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) Greenland was occupied by an agricultural civilization where none at that level of technology would be possible in today’s climate.  In Alaska there are glaciers that have retreated from the Little Ice Age and uncovered immense tree-stumps still rooted in the ground.  There are no such climax forests there today.

mendenhall_Tree_Stumps
Thousand-year-old tree stump uncovered by the Mendenhall Glacier’s retreat from the Little Ice Age

They date to about one thousand years ago.  So, we know for a fact that the temperatures were warmer then than now.  There are some who imagine that this was only the case for the North Atlantic.  But, Alaska is not on the Atlantic, is it?  And ice cores from Antarctica tell pretty much the same story.

The time before the LIA was much warmer than the climate today.  The MWP was, itself just another in a series of warm periods, starting with the Minoan Warm Period and occurring roughly every 1000 years.  Below is a graph of oxygen-Isotope proxy temperature anomalies.

Timespan: 11,000 years. 

GISP_Holocene_Anotated_NO_CO2
Figure 2.  Greenland Ice Sheet Project (GISP) temperature differences derived from ice cores.

The last “Ice Age”  (without the “Little” modifier) is to be seen at the extreme left of the Holocene graph in figure 2. It is more accurately referred to as a “Glaciation” and is a part of a (roughly) one-hundred thousand-year oscillation of extreme cold followed by short periods (10,000 years or less) of warm weather.  This cycle is revealed, among other places – in the Vostok and EPICA Ice Core Projects in Antarctica.

Timespan 450,000 years

EPICA_VOSTOK_Annotated
Figure 3.  Antarctic Ice-core derived temperature differences.

You see that our current situation is an “Interglacial” age called the Holocene Climate Optimum that comes after the “Ice Age” (Glaciation). The Eemian which came before that Glaciation is another Interglacial in a long series of same, stretching back half a million years – at least.  The Holocene appears to be significantly cooler than the previous Interglacials – all of them.  (Put that in your “Global Warming” pipe and smoke it! 😉 )

While the future is not yet determined, it looks very much like the Holocene is about over and the next Glaciation is soon to be expected.

But, in all of this, there is still ice at the poles and on mountaintops.  The Glaciations seem to be the rule and the “Interglacials”, the exceptions.  Could we not say that the entire timespan above was a part of a larger “Grand Ice Age” with only the interglacial times interrupting?

What happens if we widen the time span?  Below is a graph of ocean sediment-derived temperatures.

Timespan: Five Million Years.

Five_Myr_Climate_ChangeAnnote
Figure 4.  Temperature differences derived from ocean sediments

The fact that those hundred-thousand-year cycles of the previous graph are seen lends credibility to this “proxy” of temperature.  Notice those thousand-century cycles are a recent phenomenon (relatively speaking) and followed a period of 41,000 year cycles.  Before that was a much warmer time.  There is fossil evidence that those were times when there was little or no ice on Earth at all.

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-12378934

Be warned that they will bring up “Global Warming” even though they can’t point to five-million-year-old Ford Explorers or make any reasonable defense of “Man-made Global Warming”.   -Steve

Quote about Antarctica:

“She recalled: “We were high up on glaciated peaks when we found a sedimentary layer packed full of fragile leaves and twigs.”

“These fossils proved to be remains of stunted bushes of beech. At only three to five million years old, they were some of the last plants to have lived on the continent before the deep freeze set in.”

The “deep freeze” referred to is when we live now!  

WELCOME TO THE GRAND ICE AGE!

It may surprise you to learn that you have been here all along.

Hasta Luego,

Steve

Ice Age Now and I-90 Rocks

I am doing research for yet another article that takes me to  Ice Age Now the blog of Robert Felix (Ice Age Bob).    Bob’s current first page features a video from YouTube called I-90 Rocks.

I have driven this route a couple of times, but I wish I had seen this video before, just so I could have appreciated the Geology I was passing through.

 

https://www.iceagenow.info/ice-age-lakes-between-seattle-and-the-cascades-video/

 

The Grim Lessons of Charles Whitman

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Your Humble Narrator is not on his normal literary “turf” and hastens to get back to more light-hearted prose.  He hopes his loyal readers will excuse this short tour past the “dark side”.  The story may be found at AmericanThinker.com.  Click the link below the next paragraph.

This story has haunted me since I was a student at UT Austin. The “incident” happened some years before I arrived, but it still hung over the campus like the shadow of a certain Clock  Tower.  It was brought to the forefront of my conscience in 2006 in a Texas Monthly article on the 40th anniversary.  From that and what I already knew, there seemed to be some lessons that we had not taken to heart. The idea incubated in my scatter-brain mind for the next 12 years…

The Grim Lessons of Charles Whitman

 

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A Long Time Ago in Argentina

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[In 2002, I was back working in Houston, but I was still sent to  South America, occasionally.  But, this particular post has to do with a private trip we made first to Peru where my wife’s family lives.  It was a convenient place to let the the two young sons visit their aunt,  uncle and grandmother while the wife and I sneaked off to Argentina for a week. the prices I quote seem ridiculously cheap and not all of that is inflation from then to now – as explained in the text.  I was writing “Ten Things You Should Know When Visiting (Blank)” articles, in those  days and I just hit a big vein of them in a long-untouched directory copied faithfully from computer to  computer over the years.

I can’t find any pictures of this particular trip and I think we were in a video camera phase at that time.  We still have the videotapes somewhere, but we never look at them.  Someday we will transfer those to digital media and look at the young strangers who took that trip so long ago.  Meanwhile I have scarfed a couple of “file photos” just to break up the text.  I have put in a few modern remarks which are set off from the 16-year-ago prose with brackets [like this].

  Ten Thing You Should Know When Visiting Buenos  AiresBuenosAires9deJulio

  1. The streets and freeways are quite clean, which is unusual in this part of the world. As in many cities there are “recyclers” who comb the garbage for anything of residual value but, astoundingly, they clean up after themselves with brooms and extra garbage bags.  This is probably because the Argentinos like to think of themselves as displaced Europeans.  I myself have higher ambitions than to be a European. [With no offence to my European friends intended – this was before I met y’all 😉 ]. The hotel even has European bathroom fixtures, complete with bidet.  Do you know anyone who actually uses a bidet?…’cause I don’t.

 

  1. The streets are about a bus and two cabs wide and that’s what one usually finds in the width of the street. That is, except for Avenida Nueve de Julio [Ninth of July Avenue] which is the widest in the world, they say.*   The sidewalks are about three feet wide – barely enough room for two to pass without stepping into the street.  And ye had best not, if ye want keep yerself in one piece, ’cause the buses zoom by, with inches to spare, at ridiculous speeds.

*[That’s it in the picture above.  If you see 10 pictures of Buenos Aires at random, five of those have this street in them]

  1. The buses themselves are 80 cents (of a Peso) and the machines you drop your coins into actually make change. Best to get a seat if you can’t reach the grab bars, ’cause these vehicles spend most of their time in robust acceleration followed by vigorous braking. For variety there are sudden lurches to the left and right.  I never found a bus schedule but the hotel staff, store clerks and food servers are most helpful in this subject, as many of them probably depend on busses.  There is a Metro (a subway, I mean to say), but I didn’t manage to see any of it.

 

  1. As usual, no one is marching in the street, screaming anti-American threats. The anti-American mindset exists mostly in the imagination of the press (that includes the US media), some perpetual malcontents who manage to get a lot of face time on TV and a few asinine dictators who would be universally hated in their own country if they could not whip up an anti-American frenzy as a diversion. I won’t mention names but two of  them rhyme with Bastro and Busien.  If you’re still worried about it, pretend to be from New Zealand.  Most folks don’t even know where the heck that is.  If you meet an actual Kiwi, you may have some explaining to do.

 

  1. The best bet for changing money is the ATM’s with several networks. They’re called “multicajeros” (mool tea kah hair ose…accent on hair).  Look for the symbol of your particular network.   You get the latest exchange rate and they are to be found in banks with armed guards standing politely about, the better not to worry about muggers.  I never have any trouble with muggers, but I am six foot three and probably weigh twice  what you do.  There are lots of armed guards in Latin American countries and they are, generally speaking, polite because they have a strong sense of self-confidence.  It has to do with the Uzi and the flack jacket.  It pays to be just as polite to them.

 

  1. Prices are (by law, apparently) quoted in Pesos. The symbol for Pesos is “$”.  You might have thought that was for dollars.  Apparently it began with a really skinny “P” over a regular uppercase “S”.   When, rarely, prices are quoted in US Dollars, a “U” is added before the “$” and an extra “$” is appended.  Like this:  U$$   Prices are, to say the least, astounding just now (July 2002).  Some examples of ridiculously affordable purchases: Lunch for two in a rather pleasant sidewalk cafe consisting of steak and side dish with beer and dessert:  $20  (remember – that’s  U$$ 5.63).  High quality leather jacket: $400 (about U$$ 113).  Tango show, dinner and drinks for two in a really plush dinner theater:  $220  ( U$$ 62).  I got a hand-out for a burger joint that priced the bacon double cheesburger with fries and a drink at less than one US dollar.  I was too busy at really plush dinner theaters and rather pleasant sidewalk cafes to actually eat there.

 

  1. One thing you never make fun of in Argentina is the Tango. Don’t worry – I didn’t learn this by painful experience, but rather by simple observation. The Tango started about a hundred years ago as a saloon dance and has evolved into a refined art form that is most highly regarded.  There are “Tango Shows” in elegant theatres where the dancers on stage perform energetic, kick intensive maneuvers that would quickly start a fist-fight on any pubic dance floor.  Instead of the original one guy with a guitar, there is an orchestra with a string section, a piano and two accordions.

BA_FOuntain

[I remember this fountain, which we saw on a bus tour.  That must be the Capitol Dome behind it.  Another  bus tour took us to a Dude Ranch where Gauchos did horse-riding tricks and there was a period house with clothes and furniture of the Early 20th Century.  It was there I met the only black  man in Argentina (a tourist from Nigeria, it turns out).  He asked me to take a picture of him with one of the hats in the exhibit.  When he put it on, the “spittin’ image”  of Nat King Cole looked back at me.  It was quite a vivid impression, like having seen a ghost.  You  can tell, because I remember it to this day in 2018.  The picture below is the real Nat, of course.  That man could sing circles around most vocalists of today.  He was also an accomplished piano and banjo player.  If you can find it on Netflix or at the Redbox, watch the movie “Cat Ballou”]

NAT

  1. Another thing (or rather, person) you don’t make fun of is Eva Peron. A First Lady of renown in the fifties, she has achieved a status of near-sainthood. If you can get through a day in Buenos Aires and not see a picture of Evita, then either you were not paying attention and are in serious danger of being hit by the busses I mentioned, or you don’t know what Eva Peron looked like.

 

  1. There are several pedestrian streets referred to as peatonales (Pea at tone Al ess…accent on Al). These are of course lined with “retail opportunities”.  Evidently there is a long tradition of “barkers” (I don’t have a Spanish equivalent for that) who stand at strategic spots and talk up their establishment and hand out…well…hand-outs.  There are also people who want to “talk” to you for just a minute (I’m not sure what they’re up to and I don’t want to find out).  And, of  course, the depressingly common occurrence of street beggars.

 

  1. Don’t call home from the hotel, because they are not participating in the “ridiculously affordable” phenomenon – not on phone calls, anyway. There are telecom shops called “Locutorios” (Low coo tore ee ohs…accent on tore) where you are assigned a phone booth with a chair (they want you to be comfortable). Rates are usually posted on the front door and are reasonable.  You make all the calls you like, your accumulating charges appear on a digital readout and in the end you pay at the counter.

Buenos Aires is in the midst of a short window of opportunity for affordable travel. Argentina was well-known as an expensive place before and  I expect it will return to that status when the economy recovers.  I reckon I’ll check the news for the latest country to declare bankruptcy before I plan my next vacation.

Hasta Luego,

Steve