Categories
Rants & Raves

Some new video with my 5d Mark ii

Yes, i know, the Canon 5d mark ii is not news (more than 3+ years old), and all you serious pros or enthusiasts with $3,500 USD to burn are now into the mark iii and its amazing low-light capabilities and improved whatever.  But for me, the 5d mark ii is the new thing, as the used market for these has brought the price down to the range of mere mortals like me (never mind that after I added the fine piece of 16-35mm 2.8 glass, the price was back up into the ridiculous range)… so, in celebration of my late arrival to the awesome party of full size sensor DSLR video, here’s a few recent videos including some low light interior stuff at the buuteeq office in ballard, where we pump out great hotel internet marketing SaaS love!

And by the way, when you hear the cow-bell ring in the last of these, that’s the sound of a buuteeq customer signing up… music to my ears even when I hear it on youtube (kind of the pavlov dog magic tone for all of us at the buuteeq office)

Categories
buuteeq

Google SEO as “GOSO” – A Segmentation Chart

Stop calling it SEO.  What we really mean to say when we say SEO is “Google Organic Search Optimization”–so i’m going to start calling it that, GOSO.

I studied history in college and remember (perhaps incorrectly?) that the 13th century philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas characterized people as having various tiers of spiritual and intellectual access to god: some experiencing the church teachings as literal narrative, others as parable, and at the purest/highest echelon, altogether different divine connection.  GOSO similarly has different levels of access and understanding, divided into 2 major groups.

infographic illustrating the different types of SEO vendors


GOSO Group 1: Folks that know
There are only 2 tiers of folks that really know how things work, current and former employees of Google, and people you will never meet, as follows:

  • Secret Society GOSOites (insiders).  These are the several 1000 Google employees that work on the actual algorithms and on any given day, as a collective consciousness, could tell us all *exactly* how the system works and how to create content and what tactics to take on the web to *guarantee* success.  (note that any single member of this tribe actually does not have full consciousness… it really requires a hive mind to grok at this point!)  Members of this group have never, and will never, speak about specifics on the subject of GOSO’s true inner workings.  Spokespeople for Google such as the excellent Matt Cutts (his blog here) talk about GOSO and give guidelines, but these become the least-common-denominator best practices that everyone (who is competent) follows, thereby creating a series of hoops that we all must jump through just to get back to the starting line, and thus largely removing any real positive impact from following them.  I call this the GOSO Tax–it is web development, copy writing, and significant time and energy that must be invested just for table-stakes… to actually get ahead, you need to go further, and will have to look elsewhere.  Unfortunately every business owner I know has to deal with this hidden but significant tax, or suffer the consequences of *really* tanking and getting NO organic traffic.
  • GOSO Ninjas.  Just like a real Ninja, you’ve never heard of, seen, or talked to a GOSO Ninja.  By their very definition, these people are unknowable.  Here’s why.  These are the folks that have reverse engineered or otherwise figured out (albeit sometimes just for a window of time, before google employees track down and close the loophole) how to *print money* with GOSO.  Just like a alchemist that has discovered how to synthesize solid gold by mixing water and sand, a GOSO Ninja has access to the arbitrage that comes with knowing how to really manipulate SEO rankings and by extension, to drive meaningful volumes of clicks/traffic which is a commodity that can be turned into ready cash.  GOSO Ninjas work for *themselves*… printing money for *themselves*… and they keep all knowledge about GOSO strictly for *themselves*.  If you discovered a limitless well of solid gold, would you charge $150 USD an hour to teach other people how to extract gold from the well, knowing that in doing so it would only take a few extra folks tapping into your well before the well would be sealed off by Google?  Or would you be greedy, and just pull gold from the well for as long as you could… maybe take several trips a year to exotic luxury islands and enjoy your Ninja-ness?  Oh, and anyone that claims to be a GOSO Ninja is a fool, because they don’t even know what they don’t know, which is that they are NOT.  1st rule of GOSO ninjadom, you don’t talk about GOSO ninjadom!!


GOSO Group 2: The unwashed angst ridden masses
Everyone else, including myself and all of my friends that work in tech (especially those that work at google but not in the search algorithm group, because they know what they don’t know!) and every vendor i’ve spoken to who is a “GOSO specialist”, and every competitor i’ve competed against–all of us, without exception–are members of a collectively “in the dark” group of folks that don’t know how GOSO really works!  What separates us is to what extent we portray ourselves as something other than what we are, divided approximately in these sub-tribes:

  • GOSO Coaches.  These are the benevolent and generally well meaning folks that know what they don’t know, and limit their GOSO services to “coaching” and providing guidance and best practice advice, largely if not entirely by repeating what they have learned from staying very current with Google spokesperson guidance for best practice.  The information that GOSO Coaches peddle is public domain knowledge, but requires a lot of attention to detail to track (as Google is making changes all the time), and requires a lot of content management and technical maintenance:  keeping web pages up to date with different metadata and HTML & CSS code syntax, recommendations on keyword sets to focus on for success within your specific geography and business sector, writing good copy that is both structured for human beings and also for Google robots that will index the page, and most importantly, good old-fashioned marketing which encompasses visually appealing and subject-compelling content that human beings will actually click on, blog-about, refer to their friends, tweet, and otherwise celebrate.  This last piece is the stuff that dreams are made of (good content) and if a GOSO Coach can be in your corner helping you to be better at these tasks, then they can be an invaluable partner towards your business’ success in organic traffic.  The best GOSO Coaches are the ones that tell you in so many words “hey, i’m just a coach–i’ll work with you, we’ll do some good stuff together, i’ll tell you what i’m doing and bill you for those hours with a clear statement of work, and together we’ll carefully monitor the results in meaningful terms (money you are making selling your product is the best!) and evaluate this investment as we go along together, because there are many ways you can spend your hard-earned money, and GOSO may not be appropriate at all for your business.”
  • GOSO Charlatans.  These are folks that charge by the hour and suggest that through their efforts they will be able to “make you a first page result”, or suggest vague goals such as “improve” or “gain traffic” without any hard numbers or metrics.  They will never actually tell you what they are going to do, how they are going to do it, and most importantly, what the cost/benefit analysis is of actually succeeding.  They instead suggest that GOSO is a dark art that involves secret skills that they command.  What GOSO traffic/benefits are even possible within your particular business category/geography?  Would success achieving those ranking and traffic results warrant the investment, and how does that ROI (return on investment) calculation compare to OTHER investments that could be made that might be more easily tracked, measured, and perform better?  These considerations rarely enter the discussion with these folks–because for them GOSO work for GOSO sake is the real agenda… and there is always work to be done when there is no clear metric for success, and no transparency into the work!  Here are some tell-tell signs that you are talking to one of these folks:
    • they claim to be a GOSO Ninja (remember, if they are talking about being a Ninja, then they aren’t–why would they waste time talking to you?)
    • “i’m an expert and will improve your results”–highly suspect because if they were really self-aware they would say “I will try to improve your results but can’t guarantee anything because GOSO is an unknowable black art!”
    • “I can’t tell you what i do, when i do it, or how i do it–because xxxx”–where xxxx is any excuse of any kind–there is NO legitimate reason why a vendor doing hourly labor work as a service would not be able to fully document their activities.
    • They report on their success/progress with statements like “we are making great progress, we have moved from position X to position Y in google results”–(one possible exception is where Y is the number 1, 2, or 3.)  Even if you are getting ranked in the top 3 positions, reporting the “ranking on the page” as the primary measure of success is disingenuous, because SOOO many factors are involved and the direct activities of your vendor are probably only one small part of that success.  It is more likely that the New York Times wrote an article about you or your customers are raving about you on Facebook or Twitter, and that is what drove your breakthrough–and any social media driven SEO vendor would be characterizing your success because of their work for you in social metrics, not in page rank slots!  “Page rank slot up/down movement” is the stuff of charlatans and fools.
  • GOSO Factories.  These vendors provide a laundry list of “things we will do for you” that are easily done automatically by computers, or that can be outsourced to low-skilled technical labor in a far away exotic land.  Here you are getting what you pay for (i’ll give them that), but what you are paying for is a whole bunch of meaningless stuff that Google has already completely negated and made pointless.  Anything, and i mean *anything*, that can be done systematically to improve your GOSO performance is something that Google must ignore, because it gives too much leverage to someone to go build a systematic GOSO distortion engine.  “we’ll submit articles with great links to your site to 1000s of blogs”, or “we’ll register your business with 100s of online directories of businesses”–these are two classic “we will do something measurable” offers that are 100% worthless, worse, they can degrade your performance because Google can identify the massive scale/automation at play and Google doesn’t like to be manipulated in this way (it’s too easy, they’d rather leave that to Ninja’s who work much harder at it!)
  • GOSO Fools.  These are vendors that don’t know what they don’t know but have no sinister intent.  They often will refer to online experts as sources to credit their activities and tactics, but unlike coaches who go straight to the source (Google is the only source!), they will quote 2nd and 3rd degree references much like when we were in high school and used Encyclopedias for a quick fix of “expertise”.  The heresy of “such and such SEO expert” (usually a GOSO Charlatan or other Fool) is foolish testament, unless they are preaching the one true faith–the inherent *futility* of GOSO expertise to begin with!  Again, if it was knowable and scalable, Google has already closed the gap–so fools are simply trading in the lowest-common-denominator of best practices, but representing this information as something special and valuable, when it is not.
  • GOSO Laypeople.  This is the majority of the online community, of both creative and technical web professionals as well of the business owners and marketing professionals that they serve.  They are either angst ridden about the subject of SEO, and in search of a Coach… or they are at peace, comfortable in their bliss of unknowingness and spending their karma points on other things (SEM perhaps!).

Epitaph

Nobody reading this  post (which should have been interpreted as intentionally faux-serious-silly) should feel offended by my segmentation except for the Ninjas (who don’t like their existence to even be mentioned).

My favorite reading from others on this subject

One of my guiding lights on this subject has been the phenomenal journalism on this subject that the New York Times has published over the past 18 months.  While SEO-beat journalist David Segal doesn’t use my terminology–the characterizations are here; some of my favorites:

Categories
buuteeq

2011 Trotamundo Trips from buuteeq-ers

buuteeq just completed our first year with commercial service and it was really a great 2011.  The company and product are continuing to evolve rapidly, and there are lots of new faces on the team.  One of the unique benefits of working at buuteeq is an employee travel benefit we created called Trotamundo, which encourages all team members to visit hotels and see the world on the company’s dime.  The idea is that we all need time out in the wild interacting with hotels–where they will engage with hotel management to learn more about operations and distribution challenges and where we each can formulate opportunities for buuteeq to further add value in the hospitality industry.  Upon return from their trip, buuteeq-ers have to write up their findings, both for our blog and in presentations internally to the rest of the team.  Here are some example Trotamundo trip reports from last year (on buuteeq’s blog):

Dean’s Trip to Maui

Our sales veteran sales exec (first to join in North America) Dean escaped to Hawaii. He stayed at Ho’oilo House b&b who’s owners he had previously met online in the PAII forums. He signed them up for our free Facebook app, and they graciously invited him over to enjoy their hospitality. Instead of crowded beaches, Dean opted to visit more private, spacious areas so he could better absorb Maui’s breathtaking scenery.

Dennis’ Trip to Napa Valley

Dennis, our CTO, traveled to Napa valley where he explored the amazing vineyards of warm and sunny California. He stayed at the Napa River Inn, which is one of our free Starter clients that enjoys our Facebook app. A highlight of his trip was taking his kids to Safari West, a wildlife reserve in Sonoma. He got to see over 400 animals roaming free. Some of them were so bold they came right up to the car, which scared his kids a bit.

Leo’s Trip to San Pedro de Atacama

Leo, another one of our sales rock-stars, took his Trotamundo in san Pedro de Atacama to enjoy some peace, quiet, sun and breathtaking scenery. One of the highlights of his trip was eating pizza and drinking pisco sour at the Geysers of Tatio, a natural wonder of Chile. While there he stayed at Don Raul, which became one of our paid customers and currently enjoys our digital marketing.

buuteeq’s blog has dozens of these type of travel-logues and other updates about buuteeq, as does our About page which enumerates other benefits at our unique, pro-travel (friendly) culture.


Categories
Microsoft Silverlight & Expression

Silverlight RIP : allegorical thoughts from 2004 strategy presentation

With the announcements this week at Microsoft’s Build event (which I only fleetingly caught news of via twitter reposts), and the apparent complete end/unwind of Silverlight… i was nostalgic for my time working on it and associated initiatives at micrsoft for 6 years; i had a recollection of having written a email to friends talking about the profound experience of presenting on the strategy to the sr. leadership, and thanks to google mail search, was able to uncover the email and thought i would share it here. To the 1000 or so fellow employees and additional 10s of thousands of customers that worked on the initiative, it was fun while it lasted… here’s my thoughts from late 2004:

Hi. It’s 4ish on a Friday afternoon. The weather is foggy, but mild in temperature. I’m parked in my car, sitting in the passenger side front seat, typing on my laptop. Out the front window I have an expansive view of Greenlake, which directly in front of our house (although I’m parked down the block by the aquatic center). The reflection on the glass flat surface of the lake creates a beautiful image of gray hues that blend sky and lake into one smeared image that evokes my idea of what having poor eyesight must be like—everything is somewhat blurry, yet the impression is clear, just as in a water lily painting from the French school.

I pulled over while on my way home so that I could type these thoughts to you. I had two very important revelations today that I wanted to share, on this, the eve of the end of the year. This has been a very big year for our family—the move to seattle, the new job for me, the changes for cristina as she explores her role as mother and possible return to work in the coming year, the boys growing and changing each and everyday…. Today was my last work day at the office for the year as we will be taking the next two weeks off to visit family in california. As many of you know, today I had a big meeting with the senior folks at work, to review the strategy around the products that I have been working on; the preparations for the meeting involved several weeks of non-stop meetings and preparations amongst a core team of about 10 folks in my general organization; for the big event today, three of us were included in the meeting, where 60 slides, comprised of all of our best thinking and multiple iterations of analysis and investigation, were condensed down into 5 slides (and the fourth slide had only 20 words on it, so really it was 4 slides). For those of you that don’t know, “slides” is late 20th century parlance for a Powerpoint unit; powepoint is the corporate software tool used by everyone to make presentations… I suppose the word slide refers to some distant long lost process of creating images on transparency paper which could then by light projected onto a screen (way before my time!)? So, needless to say the meeting was quite interesting… actually for me, it turned out to be very very interesting, in a totally unexpected way! But, before I get to that thought (one of two I want to share), I want to tell you about something else first:

On my way home, immediately after having left the big meeting, while trying to grapple with the strange feelings of bewilderment and awe still swirling through my system from the events experienced on the top floor of the biggest building, I was listening to Caetano Veloso on the CD player. The song playing is probably called “Maria Brethania”, although I can’t be sure and can’t find the cd case to confirm. Caetano is singing about his sister (of the title), who is an equally famous Brazilian singer. I’ve been reading a biography of Caetano Veloso that my Aunt/Uncle Howard & Elaine gave me over the summer, and in its pages I’ve been learning about the relationship between caetano & maria. How curious that two very close in age siblings would both emerge, with their own completely unique styles and poetic voices, as among the most important musical artists of Brazil? In this song Caetano sings beautifully in English, about a desire that Maria would “write him a letter to tell him some things”; but “she has given her soul to the devil, who has given it to god, but she has bought a flat by the sea”. I was puzzled by these words, and was meditating on their possible meaning. Are they estranged, and he is reaching out to her to reconnect, through song? Is he speaking of his love and admiration for her, and what an inspiration she has been to his artistic voice? (she had commercial success before he early in their careers, in spite of being the younger sibling). Fascinating stuff… at least to me! Caetano is such a beautiful person, I recently saw him in Paris performing at the Chatellete theater in center of town—he sang interpretations of English songs that he admires, in English, such as Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”, and Nirvanas “Team Spirit”… not exactly the material you expect from the “bob dylan of brazil”, but it really showed me the depth of his artistic capability—the man is truly a gorgeous ball of conglomerated high density beauty! Cristina and I (and Joaquin & Lisa) saw his sister Maria perform in Rio de Janeiro a few years back… wasn’t the best show, we arrived 20 minutes before the end after getting lost several times on the way there… so I can’t say too much about my awe for her; but Caetano absolutely worships her and in his book speaks of her constantly as a parallel spirit in his life, a mirror that constantly reveals to him his own essence.

So I wanted to tell you this—Caetano is beautiful. His music is beautiful. Listening to his music makes me very happy. Through his lyrics just now in the car I had an entire introspective moment, drowning in the thoughts of the relationships, the literal and emotional significance layered in the song to his sister. These thoughts, this joy, while in bumper to bumper traffic on the evil bridge known to us Seattleites as “the floating bridge” or “520” (may she be dammed, it takes me 60 minutes to travel 4 miles each day over her treacherous surface). And I was wondering… does the“escape” offered by this song, which is “taking me away” from the traffic jam… is it really an escape? Or is it more of an “entrance”… something that is taking back to the real, to the fundamental, to the shared experience of human existence? At this moment it seems to me the later. And this brings us to my second thought of the moment:

The Big Meeting. Wow. It happened in a flash, took only 25 minutes, but in some ways felt like 2 hours, like it was in slow motion… like everything that was said had been scripted meticulously and was super loaded with double and triple meaning. As I said earlier, we prepared for 100s of hours, we wrote 100s of slides, and we condensed everything, every ounce of it, into a reduction of crytalized thought made up of a few 100 words on just 5 slides. For you to understand what I experienced, I have to tell you about a movie I watched the week before when Tata was visiting—Elizabeth (1999). I think you’ve all seen it; 1500s, England, Elizabeth is queen, but there is treachery and intrigue all around her as the protestant/catholic contingencies vie for power, she considers marriage to various suitors including the Duke of ‘Orange (“voila, I am oh-ranje…”) and the King of Spain… anyways, if you haven’t seen it rent it, very good. There are numerous scenes at the palace where the queen is surrounded by dozens of hanger-ons… her maidens, her advisors, the lords, etc. etc. She gets conflicting advice constantly, is not sure whom to trust, and in the end learns that she must become a “virgin” and trust only herself, goes on to be a damn good monarch and leaves England rich and supreme ruler of the world by the time of her death 40 years later. Picture the court, full of various senior advisors at all time of day; the handlers, the guards, the food preparers, the jesters, the generals, the suitors, the lawyers from parliament, the bishops from the churches, etc. etc. Rooms meant to hold 20 people comfortably, stuffed to the brim with randoms jockeying for position and favor. Ok, with that image in mind, you are now with me as I enter the room for the meeting. I’m on the top floor of the castle.. I’ve made it past burley looking guards (plain-clothed, but clearly members of the elite secret society that protects the emperor at all times… always watching, anyone who comes near him), and I enter into “the room” (I’ve been invoked via email from the lieutenants, “come in now”). At the war room table, the wise old men—the lords and earls who have divided the empire and constantly fight amongst themselves for position. Around the central arena, the second tier gathers in clusters, looking for lines of sight to the center of the discussion… the King & Queen. I take my seat in a back row, about 10 feet from the royals. My lord reads through our slides. The royals ask some questions; some of the questions are directly relevant and show a shrewd ability to cut immediately to the critical issues, a legendary and evidently true (as witnessed by myself) power, evidence of the divine relationship of the royals to god himself. There are other distractions, about what’s on the menu for dinner for example, or how the peasants are doing in a certain district… not really relevant, but for some reason of interest to the king on this particular day. Might the king know something that others in the room do not about those particular peasants? When I hear mention of a certain vassal, I smile knowing I have gained important strategic favor with an ally in the room, for it is I who suggested that certain vassal should be mentioned in light of a certain strategic anecdote—I’ve curried favor! I introspect—might every single thing said in this meeting have similar political/relational relevance… is the entire discourse just a series of very tightly networked impulses? The events continues to unfold, the results are very favorable. Prior to the meeting my team and I gathered a list of 3 key issues that might become sinkholes during the discussion… turns out none of the three, nor any others, are raised. We are finished early, with only one suggestion for additional thought regarding whether or not our plan of action might not actually destroy the state of Monrovia. Says the king, “what about Monrovia… might it be better to ask Monrovia for help in raising an army, as opposed to destroying Monrovia and taking its women and children?” There is silence in the room… glances are exchanged, knowingly, amongst those who covet Monrovian brides… ahh, we shall have them, indeed…

I’m in the parking lot. Dazed. What has happened? Why this feeling of confusion. I listen to Caetano, I have my introspection on music and traffic… and then, I understand. The big meeting makes sense to me, I know why I feel like I do.

Very few people know about my deep spiritual convictions… turns out, I am quite spiritual (at least I consider myself so). A principle tenet of my faith goes something like this: the human experience, normalized across small variations in color and intensity, is essentially universal. I believe that whether you live today and are rich, or whether you lived in 500 BC and were poor… you essentially are watching the same movie. Happiness, pleasure, fear, pain, angst, loss, acceptance, and ultimately death… these are and other such words describe the essence of what we all experience in life. But life is better today than it was 100 years ago, some might say? Women are better off! People live longer! There is less war and disease, more justice, better quality of life!! Well, in my opinion these are misguided and poorly-informed assertions. When history is taken into account in full spectrum, these variations blend into the background, much as greenlake and the horizon blend together in the misty watercolor before. Just within my short lifetime we’ve seen the oscillations that can occur in areas such as civil rights, sexual moirés, religious influence in civil life, disease, racism, and dozens of other indicators of what we think defines the human condition. When you average these out, across hundreds or thousands of years, the resulting value is a constant! I’ve had a few personal experiences that have re-enforced for me this constant. Seeing my children born, especially cristina’s birth of Caetano, out of hospital in a completely raw/natural form. The death of my beloved friend Goodwin, and the ensuing feelings of loss. Watching the sunrise over the dunes of morocco, the intense contrast of colors provoking a natural high that I still remember. The pure bliss of looking at the stars and feeling directly connected to the entire material universe, from the vantage point of the back of an open top truck, at 10k feet of elevation in the andes mountains, after having literally walked across a deserted border crossing from Bolivia into Chile..

Being in the present of the king today connected me to the times of Queen Elizabeth; to the experience of being in the presence of the most powerful, wealthiest person on the planet, in the company of her entourage and advisors, and witnessing the curious machinations of men. Politics, power, influence, favor… these were all peddled, on a grand stage unlike none other I have personally experienced, but not in the least unlike the scene that has been played out across human existence, in front of Caesars and Pharaohs, Monarchs and Presidents, and yes, the most powerful corporate business leaders and Popes (did I mention how much I dislike organized religion?). Today I was touched by one of those special threads that hold the ball of wax together…that connect the dots.

So, I wanted to tell you this. Today I enjoyed the moment, I saw meaning in the world, and I witnessed the interconnectedness of the human experience. I spent some time with God.

For those that want the less allegorical account, I’m happy to recount offline.

Categories
buuteeq

Why Flash is a really bad choice for hotel websites

One of my inspirations for starting buuteeq was all the crappy flash microsites for boutique hotels.  We put together a little video to help highlight the key issues that make flash a really bad choice for hotel websites.

 

Categories
buuteeq

Me talking with Robert Scoble about buuteeq

I drove out to Robert Scoble’s house to show him buuteeq; i was exhausted from a long day of travel, but robert’s abode was a warm and welcoming environment, and his infectious upbeat mood and passion for all things wonderful and innovative that relate to technology made me really enjoy showing him buuteeq.  After seeing the footage i am more jealous than ever about not having my own Canon 5D with a fast lens–it is amazing how good the image quality is in his videos, and incredible that he is shooting so much of it and producing it as quickly as he does.  We joked that someone should build him a dedicated SaaS platform for post processing and posting his content–but his workflow is very unique as is the individual.  Thanks Robert for the opportunity!

Categories
buuteeq

buuteeq has launched

After 18 months of planning and hard work, i’m really proud of the  launch of buuteeq today.  buuteeq has been my baby; a concept that i put together myself with great support and inspiration from my wife and our multi-trip-travel experiences while living in Asia for 2 years and taking family vacations.  I’m beyond proud of the product we have shipped, and the marketing collateral, positioning, demos, pricing, segmentation, etc. are the best i’ve ever been responsible for–a really nice progression in my professional experience.  I feel like everything i’ve done in the last 20 years professionally was leading me to this moment: to the skills, the perspective, and the creativity that was necessary to pull this off.

http://www.buuteeq.com for the website experience.  Embedding the “welcome” video here in case someone stumbles on this blogroll.

Categories
Rants & Raves

New Blog URL

Yay, microsoft spaces has called it quits and made it really simple to migrate the content over here to wordpress.com, how lovely.  I really wanted to capture the google-bot goodness of my efforts blogging while i was at microsoft, so if you are a google-bot and you are reading this, please now associate this url with my online name/identity, and also add my new startup buuteeq inc, as well as my digital agency in China, redsafi, both new companies that i started when I left Microsoft after 5.5 very happy years.

buuteeq inc. is making a digital marketing solution (DMS) for independent hotels–a nice SaaS cloud offering that helps smaller/boutique type hotels to run much better digital marketing, including website, mobile, and social presence + analytics, commerce, and optimization.  you can read more about it on the buuteeq blog, and see some vimeo videos we’ve created: buuteeq-blog

I’m glad this blog content from my days at microsoft survived, will make good reading for me someday for memory lane.  In the meantime, google-bot, enjoy!

Categories
Rants & Raves

Going North

Since I left my hometown for college, I’ve moved about 16 times, each time farther away from my Southern California roots.

Now, for the first time, I’m moving back to a place that I once considered home. It feels good. Comforting and familiar in the best way.

Haven’t heard the news? We are packing it up in Chile to live in our Seattle home again, just in time for summer. We haven’t suffered an actual winter since early ’09!

Forest’s mother Jane has kept the hearth warm while we’ve been gone. I’m going to enroll the boys in our neighborhood school for the first time. We have a lot to look forward to.

Why are we moving? Well, there are many reasons. But the main one is that we would rather be home.

There are work issues: Forest wants to be closer to his Buuteeq partners in the US and China, which will help scale back his travel and enable him to ride the momentum they are building.

There are school issues: We have a handle on what our kids need, and have more familiarity with the resources available in the States. Caetano needed a new school, and rather than go through a lengthy process of exploration, admissions and guesswork, we want to take this important step to a place that makes more sense for everyone.

This Chile sojourn was only meant to last a couple of years. After almost one year here, we came to a crossroads that forced us to stop and evaluate our priorities as a family. Our feelings have changed. We’ve gotten the travel bug out of our system. The flow is taking us home. It’s all good!

We will miss the kids gaining total fluency in Spanish, which is just around the corner. They have learned a lot though. This country is beautiful, and we got to live for a few months in Pisco Elqui, a magical place that my heart never left after we moved to Santiago. I’m sad to leave this amazing house behind, with the park-like yard and view of the Andes mountains and sturdy construction that survived a huge earthquake. Our maid, Aurelia, has spoiled us with outstanding Peruvian cooking and helped me in so many ways. We found a lot of great new friends. Hopefully, our favorite Chileans will come to visit us in Seattle. Chileans with means to travel love to go abroad–because when you live in a small country locked in by sea and a huge mountain range, the world doesn’t exactly come to you. We came though.

See you in the Northern Hempisphere!

Categories
Rants & Raves

Kids, Autumn

The season has definitely shifted into autumn, and I’m enjoying the view from our backyard. A little sprinkling of snow on the Andes, crisp air and golden leaves. I’ve always loved fall and the vibe of structure and productivity, change and beginning.

It has been a long transition for us to finally arrive at a peaceful rhythm of school and work. The earthquake kicked us into the distinct mode of get-to-it-ness that has swept the nation. All over the country, Chileans work on reconstructing of roads, homes, churches and businesses.

Meanwhile, our kids are working really hard in school, learning Spanish, and projects at home.

Carlos is amazing. He is so happy, and has surprised me so much this year, really jumping into this reality with a great attitude. Sometimes he misses his old school in China, but as he gets used to the Montessori environment and learns more Spanish by the week, he finds more to like about it. He’s kind of advanced in math, and as it is nonverbal, he continues to make progress. But he also has to do lots of reading, writing and verbal expression to the class, rising to each occasion. It surprises him a bit that he can now understand the Spanish comic books we bought months ago. Now he is writing his own comic book in Spanish, a farce with an anti-Indiana Jones crime fighter who keeps losing his hat. Carlos claims to be motivated solely by money as he wants to sell these masterpieces, but Forest and I are just thrilled that he likes expressing himself this way.

Caetano just turned 7! We had a fun little birthday party with three friends–all bilingual boys. He had to learn the guys’ names to invite them, and realizing he does have buddies helped his attitude about school…a little. Forest and I have had many meetings with the teachers and after about a month we all decided that he can’t handle being at school for an 8 hour day. No surprise there. I didn’t really anticipate however that we would be going back to a pre-school schedule of 8:30-12:30. After lunch he is just a general nightmare to have in the classroom. So now I pick him up, we eat at home, do homework and some Spanish work from a Kumon tutor that meets him twice a week. We do craft projects, bake, read, play a game. Whatever we want! Last week we went to a park in the city and rode bikes for 2 hours. Sometimes he just plays on his own, building a fort out of cushions or curls up with a book. He started an art class that he loves. The school asked us to take him to a psychiatrist to asses whether he has ADHD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder or what. We’ve been down this road before. Same issues all came up in Beijing. I’m doing everything I can, and we are really having a lot of fun. In his own way at his pace, he’s learning a lot, and chattering a lot in Spanish. Funny thing is that he doesn’t have a problem with hyperactivity or defiance when he is in the smaller classes after school. Hmmmm.

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Rants & Raves

Fantasy Freeway of Fast Fun

So I’ve always had this fantasy of being able to drive on a freeway that goes directly from my front door to the front door of my office. The fantasy was intense in san francisco when i had to comment 1hr and 45 miles to redwood city and i had lots of time to think about it while on 280. The fantasy peeked when i lived in Seattle and had a 1hr+ drive to go a mere 12 miles over that bastard of a bridge known as 520, at a snail’s pace that felt Ike the traffic one encounters leaving a MLB post game parking lot. In china i had my first taste of the fantasy with a nearly complete freewAy in the sky, however the illusion was broken by a very gnarly traffic light that was in fwront of our house and could easily a chew up 15 minutes (albeit my private driver suffered the stress whilst i read e nyt aon my iPhone!). However now in santiago the dream has become reality: from my house to my office in Vitacura is a solid 30 minutes of driving, but with an a average driving speed of 75 miles per hour on an awesome freeway at is new, empty, and only marred in perfection by therecent earthquake damage that is under repIr for an eventual return to near virginal purity. What it confirms to me is this–the stress of commuting in a car is exponentially inverse to the average speed of travel.

This posted from my new iPad, my fingers hurt from pecking at the screen for this much text,

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Rants & Raves

Road Trip to Mendoza Argentina

So it was easter week here in lovely christianized south america, and Cristina was itching to get out of dodge so we opted for what we thought initially would be a proverbial “3 hour tour” to cross the Andes mountains over to the Argentinian side of the border, and the fabled city of Mendoza which is famous for wine and great steaks.  Looking at the map it looked like 3 hours of driving, but we added a safe 2 hours to handle the vertical since we would be going from about 3,000 ft to about 10,000 ft at the pass, plus dealing with the border crossing itself.

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Ice-Cream argentina style—really, really good!

Before we left, we set out getting the paperwork in order for our party—both passports for the people and documentation for the car.  This led to a goose chase to track down about 5 different documents that we needed to procure for the car, including a sworn affidavit so we could leave the country with the car since the car is in my uncle’s name (we couldn’t buy the car when we arrived because we needed a RUT #, another wonderful paperchase unto itself); we also needed a international insurance policy (which we bought at a department store akin to Macys), and we needed to find the equivalent of the car’s pink slip (which had been mailed to us in a non-descript envelope that luckily we kept out of uncertainty, about 4 months earlier), and as luck would have it, it was also the time of year to renew the car’s circulation papers.  On the passport front Emilio had to leave the country and come back as he has been here for 180 days without exiting, and we had to dig up and find our “residence permit in transit” papers to show that we are ok to be here for more than 180 days which it has been since we arrived.  Alas, we found everyting, a miracle unto itself, and promised to set off FIRST THING in the morning on Friday so that we could avoid the expected crushing traffic at the border from other weekend trippers heading over in search of great steaks!

imageChecking out the wares at the night market in Mendoza’s Plaza 

A lazy morning and late departure later at 9:30am (as opposed to the goal of 7am) and we had a lovely drive up the valley which is really amazing in how quickly it rises, getting narrower and crazy steep very quickly and culminating in a series of switchbacks that traverse the last 1000 meters of vertical rise in a mere few miles, culminating in a tunnel that goes through the border and into argentina.   The Chilean side topography and flora are completely different than the argentinian side, so it is very dramatic to emerge from one side of the mountain on the other—most notably, the slow and undulating slope down from the mountain on the argentinian side hints of the less violent nature of the mountain formation on that side of the tectonic action.

Then our “3 hour tour” illusion was burst, as we pulled into the joint border processing center, about 5 miles past the border, where we pulled into a nicely compacted line of cars that turned out to be a 2.5hr snail crawl into a large building where no less than 5 different government functionaries stamped and reviewed our various documents—the car getting the worst of it (are there a lot of cross border car thefts?)  The kids were remarkably fine with the long drive in the car, kept busy by Little Lulu books and their Nintendo DSs + some Simpsons episodes on the iPod. 

The remaining drive down the valley and into Mendoza was lovely, along really pretty river terrain but with worsening traffic as we connected with the Mendozino day trippers who had escaped to the mountains for some hiking and river rafting.  We arrived at our hotel after 6pm, a solid 10 hr drive (including a break for lunch).  Yikes!!!  Much more than bargained for.

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Of Mendoza, i’d say: beautiful, large european style promenades, gorgeous old homes throughout town, great outdoor restaurants and ice-cream shops, bustling nightlife (of course!), and delectable Steaks and Pasta!  Really surprised us how nice the city was, significantly more interesting and entertaining than a similarly sized chilean city would be.  The wine culture there has developed a nice tourism halo around it, with lots of wine tours and foodie activities (we were with kids so didn’t fully appreciate).  We had a great saturday walking around town, must have done a good 10km of walking total—kids were troupers although their feet hurt at the end of the day.

imageLovely Mendoza streets, lined with trees! 

And for the ride back—in terror of facing a long border crossing and Chilean car traffic returning from the long weekend, i forced the family to get up and be in the car by 6am, which turned out to be fantastic as we had NO traffic, no wait at the border, and made the return trip in 5 hrs door to door!  I wouldn’t do the drive again on a holiday weekend, ever, as we heard that the border can take 5 hrs to get through just in immigration/paperwork and i think that would have really driven me over the edge of sanity.  Definitely would return to Mendoza, our visit was too short.

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The ice-cream shop had 6 different variations of Dulce de Leche—just like Eskimos have lots of words for snow, Argentinians like their Dulce de Leche ice cream!

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Rants & Raves

Electricity, Electricity!!

Electricity is a great thing, especially when it powers the pump that draws water from the well deep in the earth beneath your home owners group’s shared property.  The swimming pool showers, toilet refills, and dish washing was getting really old. A world without electricity is now much easier for us to imagine—it is one devoid of light in the evenings, of iphone charging during the day, of VOIP telephony to talk to business colleagues in China and the USA, and without the joy of LED powered LCD monitors full of lovely images to watch. 

Carlos had done a unit of inquiry at his 2nd grade class in Beijing last year, and they talked about electricity in other ways—but somehow i think the Chilean Earthquake lesson on electricity was much more compelling?  I know he and his brother will remember the earthquake more for it’s lack of electricity than for its overpowering rattling forces and shattering windows.

Kids are now in school (day 2) and dealing with the crash course of being surrounded by spanish speakers all day long; not loving it so far but who could.  I do think they will adapt quickly, and we should be enjoying spanish only chit-chat in 6-8 weeks time.

Here’s some photos of our house and neighborhood with earthquake destruction (which I hadn’t been able to upload easily without, electricity…)

Here’s the living room window blown out by a collapsing bar.  This and our smashing TV set were the loudest of the glass breaking events in the house proper:

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Many of the walls surrounding farms in our neighborhood were knocked over in long stretches, sometimes for several hundred yards at a time, like this one just down the street.  Good thing it didn’t fall into the street, as that would have cut off our access to get food/water!

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And here’s the toxic cloud of muck created by a explosion at a nearby chemical plant.  The gray cloud is dark dark dark black in a properly exposed photo, and the clear white sky on the horizon was the otherwise clear sky that day.  i’ve been itching my skin ever since, wondering if we have real chemical/toxic exposure!

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Rants & Raves

5 days, no electricity yet :(

So i wanted to start with something positive, so here is a nice picture taken earlier this (southern hemisphere) summer by our friend Jeannie Duisenberg who visited us for a lovely week together with her partner Rich Hlava.  We had so much fun with them, we were sad to see them go!  One of our two kittens is pictured here with us, her name is Bilz.image

Bilz is sister of the other cat, Pap.  Bilz y Pap is a duo of “fantasy drinks” (aka sugar water with carbonation and lots of synthetic coloring) that are homegrown Chilean brands, just like Inka Cola in Peru (which has a coloring additive that is banned in the united kingdom from studies that show that it makes young kids *crazy*).  Here’s a picture of Bilz & Pap cartoon characters, that proudly rep the sugar water to young children and parents everywhere in Chile.  We liked them so much, and the kids the sugar water, that we named the kittens accordingly.

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Ok, with that positive story off my chest (so that this blogroll doesn’t become all doom and gloom), i’ll update you that we are in the minority of Santiago residents that still don’t have electricity, ending day 5 and soon to be going on day 6 since the earthquake.  Thank god for our pool, which is providing lots of water for washing dishes and for the toilets, as well as a natural bath of sorts, albeit highly chlorinated.  We’ve burned through our candles, so I’m off to get some more for this evening.  The kids have been going to bed early with the sun, which is a plus as we get ready for the school year which starts monday (Was supposed to start today, but was moved out because of the quake, since our school, like many, was out of electricity for a while).  Otherwise, we continue to be safe and thankful!

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Rants & Raves

Chilequake Day 3

We’ve been without water and electricity the last few days.  As there is no electricity in our general part of the city (the north) there is also no gas at the stations (no pumps), so we’ve been mostly home bound.  At the house we have the swimming pool water to use for flushing the toilets and for washing dishes, so we’ve been relatively well off.  We bbqed the defrosting meet from the freezer so it wouldn’t go bad, and we have plenty of fruits and vegetables.  We were down to our last bottle of drinkable water, but on a excursion to the ‘hood we found a store open and were able to re-supply with plenty of water.  We’ do have gas for the stove, so we’ve been able to eat well.  We have candles for the evening but basically have been going to bed with the sun.  The moon has been full these last few days, which has made the nights calming.

The aftershocks are very frequent, surely we must have had 50 or more by now… they come with such frequency that sometimes we don’t even bother to mention them.  They are thankfully all smaller and decreasing further in intensity each time they appear.  Sunday morning there was a aftershock that was pretty long, and we jocked that “in a normal climate, that would have been a big one”… we later heard that it was a 6.0 and was nearby in Valparaiso, indeed, a big one by normal standards but for us that is now a baby-quake!

Our immediate family and friends all seem to be fine—we don’t have good phone access as our cell phones are dead.  Today i’m at a relative’s in Santiago so that I can call family in a few hours (when pacific coast wakes up), and reports are that by and large folks are ok, even our cousin and her 6 children from Curico, which is very very close to the epicenter.  Their town (Curico) got pretty flattened, but their house and the houses of their friends and colleagues from the farm were thankfully all ok.

Unfortunately some of our extended family were touched by this tragedy in the worst way possible–a cousin lost two young children to a tsunami wave, they were very close to the epicenter vacationing.  We will try to go to the mass this weekend with other family members.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles.

Thank you to everyone that has emailed us with concern and well wishes—it has been very comforting to receive your notes.  Chile is generally well prepared for earthquakes because they are so common here, but even with great construction codes the devastation is palpable, even though I have seen almost nothing on the television or web (as we have been without electricity), so at this point you all know more than we do.

Forest, Cristina, the boys, and Tata Emilio who is with us.

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Rants & Raves

Earthquake madness

We were awoken last night by the 8.8 earthquake that hit chile. We ran to our children’s rooms after we realized it was not the usual 10 sec shaker which is so common here given the subduction zone of the pacific and continental plate here which among other things produces the Andean mountain range with dozens of sub 20,000 ft peeks. We huddled under the doorways with a kid each in hand. Thankfully our house survived structually, although we could hear shattering glass throughout the house. It seemed to go on forever, reports say 90 secs but if you told me it was 5 minutes I would believe you.

Afterwards we gathered outside in the yard with Tata Emilio who is with us. We managed to get back to sleep eventually and rode out the aftershocks which were impressive unto themselves and super frequent, just had a biggish one again a good 9 hours later.

Our house suffered some damage including lots of blown out shelves, smashed tv, some shattered windows, 18 inches of the pool water level tossed out, etc etc but nothing important, we are thrilled to be safe and to learn that all of our immediate family is as well. However we got news of an immediate horrifying tragedy in our extended family involving loss of life of young children, a visceral reminder of the seriousness of the situation and i’m sure of similar news that will be affecting many folks here and where tsunami lands.

Thankyou to all ofour friends and family that have written with concern and well wishes, we will update more when can, for now we have no phoneor electric or water and cell phone battery is almost dead. Prayers to all those affected. Much love, forest and Cristina and the boys.

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Rants & Raves

Buying a car in Chile–why Latins get called “Lazy”

So i’m trying to buy a car in Chile, and i’m running head on yet again into some of the basic cultural differences between the hyper efficient commercial society of the USA and China (in this regard, China is really on the same page as the USA), and the much more casual and laid back experience of commerce here in Chile.  Here are some maddening and frustrating examples of where my expectations are not in alignment with the society:

  • Closed on Sundays.  Sure, that might be a day when car buyers might flock to showrooms in the USA, but apparently here neither buyers nor sellers want to be bothered on the day God told everyone to relax.  Too bad for me and my family, who drove into town in hopes of taking a look at some cars.
  • Closed at lunch!  Yep, you heard right, at lunch time, the sales guys are all “out to lunch” so to speak, so my phone call to the Audi, Volkswagon, Subaru, and Mini dealers were all in vain.  At least the VW guys answered the phone and told me “sorry, we’re at lunch”, where as the other dealers the phone just rang, and rang, and rang… amazing!  They don’t even have their crap together enough to put a answering machine on the line so they can capture the lead!  When are car buyers supposed to go shopping if not at lunch during the work week, or Sunday on the weekend!  lol
  • Not really interested in negotiating!  So i get a quote for $19m pesos for a Subaru Impreza WRX (about 35% more than the USA), which is fine, so i think “well, i’ll do some comparison shopping and see what the other dealers in town say?”  So i call another dealer, and he tells me he doesn’t have the car in stock, and that he can offer me the same price.  I say, hey, the other dealer has the car, i test drove, and that’s the price he’s giving me, to which he said “ok”.  The guy had zero interest in talking to me about making a deal… this flies in the face of every single ounce of capitalist/commerce instincts that are born into us in the USA.  He didn’t even try to tell me that he could (a) make a better price, (b) offer better service, (c) get me a color or features that I might want more, (d) offer to be friendlier or anything else he could make up.  Nothing… he just said, “ok”.  And that was it.  There’s no real competition here, there is basically a monopoly in every industry, so the Subaru dealer brings X cars to the country each year, and all are sold at good margin, so there’s no incentive to compete with eachother… nasty stuff!
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Rants & Raves

The Eagle Has Landed

Well, time to cool our heels for awhile, stop moseying.  It feels like we have been on perpetual vacation since June.  But now we are settled into an AWESOME colonial-style furnished house in the country outskirts of Santiago. We are a good 20 minutes outside the actual capital and have again found ourselves in a rural part of the world that feels like another era.  It’s like being in a Latin American tele-novela without any actual drama other then where in this big house are Caetano’s shoes when we need them.

No housewarming barbecues until Forest returns from his looong cold trip to Beijing at the end of the month.  Kids don’t start school until March, so it feels like an endless Summer for the Keys.  We are having a great time and have been enjoying the family visits from the States (Andy Casanueva family, Joaquin, Emilio who is staying with us for awhile), re-encountering semi-locals like Maria and Randy, and catching up with the Chilean family.

In case you are wondering how Carlos is taking this all in, here are some words from the little 8.5 year old man himself:

So how was it leaving pisco elqui?

Thumbs up. Well, thumbs to the side because in Pisco Elqui, you can walk to the ice cream store by yourself.  You can walk to school, and back, it’s peaceful and quiet.

Leaving was okay because now I don’t get to walk to the ice cream store, but it was a boring lifestyle.  i didn’t have a book to read (Carlos blew through all the books we brought down for him within our first month in Chile and has been on a steady comics diet).

After Elqui, you spent some time at the beach in Zapallar. How was that?

That was pretty good, we got some Christmas Legos which was our daily play for awhile. Seeing the family was good, fun.  The best part was the presents that they brought (and 100 lbs of Legos we’ve accumulated over the years).  The beach was pretty fun, but not fun to go there every day (we were there for about 2 weeks).  if i could play video games for 3 hours every day, then eventually i would get bored.  Anything if you do it too much it will make you bored.  At the beach i just sat there.  We had some water guns, played with Camila, but I spent 40% just lying there (doesn’t it sound like torture?).

The food?

The food in Chile is not really the best.  I miss Chinese food, dim sum.  The chinese rice.  (For the record, the rest of us like it pretty well).

How is the new house in Chicureo?

It’s pretty good.  It’s fun. We have a separate gaming room with lovely couches, two bean bags. My room is great, it has a nice desk, nice lamps. A big closet with room to store Legos.

How about your summer camp?

Summer camp stinks. i’d rather take up my day with other things, not necessarily video games.  Like jogging, or taking a bike around the neighborhood. Taking a bike around anywhere. Playing Legos, doing the geography book or math book. Other exercises.

But don’t you do some of those things in camp?

In camp, when we go to the pool, you can’t just go for 40 minutes.  you have to stay for an hour and a half, or get out, and sit there.The fact that I am trapped behind metal bars, forced to do activities, without the freedom to just jolly run off from camp when I’m tired, doesn’t work. There’s so many kids, it’s crazy.

I want to go to school. I’m bored of summer, it’s way too long.  I just hope it’s fun.  The small presentation I got, being there for half a day, didn’t give me the full picture.

I think it’s going to be okay.  As for the Spanish, I think in maybe 5 months I might be speaking fluently.  When I start actually going  to school, i might have the opportunity to learn  something.

How much Spanish have you picked up?

Since when I came to Chile i didn’t know anything, I think I have learnt 10% of what there is to know to start speaking fluently.

I miss WAB (Western Academy of Beijing). Back then I hated it, but now I think it was a stupid thing to hate it.  I got told off a lot (so it seemed to him at the time), but other then that it was pretty fun.  I miss my friends.

Will you make any friends here in chile?

Maybe. The kids don’t ask me more then what’s my name how old I am and what school i’m going to.  They don’t ask if I’ve been anywhere else.  I can’t learn spanish if no one talks to me.

They’re talking to you. You just don’t understand everything yet.

Everyone talks so fast.

They do. You’re doing great.

Categories
Rants & Raves

Santa @ the Beach in Southern Hemisphere

In what is clearly the most damning evidence that Santa Claus and Cristianity in general are ill suited to southern hemisphere culture, we are enjoying the pagan winter equinox festival which coincides with the coldest and darkest season in europe, summer equinox style at the beach in Zapallar with family.  Balmy days, sun setting at 9:30pm, and santa arriving at the beach do deliver colorful balloons at sunset while the kids scream and go crazy—good times!

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Happy holidays everyone!

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Rants & Raves

Roads

Only one road goes in and out of this town.  No one goes to work in an office. Kids don’t play organized sports of any kind, and although there is a big open dirt field to play futbol, hardly anyone does. There are three nice bars and 2 divey ones. Everyone hates the foggy coastal city La Serena. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t do some kind of art, craft or music. You can get Pisco Sour flavored ice cream. When we need to buy one or two things for a meal, we go to the local almacen that has stuff behind a counter. When we want to stock up on meat and produce, we drive 45 minutes to Vicuna, a bigger town that has one store for veggies, one store for meat and dairy, and one for dry goods like beans and rice.  The kids get a comic book  and use their pocket money to buy "Gogos," the latest craze in small, collectible plastic playthings, or maybe we’ll indulge them with a Bilz, the Chilean "Bebida de Fantasia," a bright red soda that tastes like heaven.  We are always happy to come back to the warm embrace of the dry hills that envelope our valley cabana.

In the Greek classic the Odyssey, and in Tennyson’s poem "the Lotos Eaters," Odysseus and his men get mired in a land of languid air and intoxicating flowers which the sailors want never to abandon. Why go back to a land of toil, they ask, when one can spend days looking at the view? From their awesome terrace? Drinking wine and eating cheap avocados every day?? To hell with the crappy internet connection. Oh, wait, what was I talking about? The Land of Lotus Eaters or Pisco Elqui?

We settled in here 2 months ago, and have been loving it.  However, when the boys break for Summer vacation in mid-December, we will take off.  We spent the last month diligently researching areas to live for the next couple of years, and it was a hard decision to rule out Pisco Elqui, on the grounds that Forest’s business will be very hard to manage out here with the internet infrastructure being sub-optimal, adding time to international travel (it’s another 1-hour connecting flight up here from Santiago and only one a day).

Staying with the "Ch" theme, we will move to Chicureo in January:  20 minutes outside the capital, semi-country, semi-urban, great Montessori school, lovely house with big yard.

I’m sad.

I feel like Robert Plant when he sang "Baby, you know I’m gonna leave you. I’m a leave you in the summertime. Leave you when the summer comes along."

People have asked how we are able to do this. Move around. We have our methods. But it isn’t so so so easy.  My feelings get all stirred up. I cry. We talk. And then we ramble on.