Saturday, August 11, 2012

Bulletins From BA #03

Bulletins From BA #03
11 August 2012

¡Hola! there… Rodger French here.

Submitted for your consideration: Some miscellaneous, perchance diverting newsy items, with a “hat tip” (h/t) to a few of our steadfast readers. Disfruten (Enjoy).

This Week in Adult Education… Español lessons are paying off big time. I have recently added the following muy useful phrases to my repertorio: “Perdóneme, mi español es patético.” (Pardon me, my Spanish is pathetic.); “Lo siento, tiene el numero equivocado.” (I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.); y “Por favor, cuidado con la caca de perro.” (Please, watch out for the dog poop.)

Incidentally, I have it on good authority that the choice of “Argentine” vs. “Argentinian” when referring in English to a citizen of Argentina can be a delicate topic. So, in the interest of etymological diplomacy, I consulted several allegedly reputable sources. Though by no means unequivocal, the consensus is that Argentine is the correct demonym (noun) and Argentinian the correct adjectival form. (h/t: Lisa Q.)

Sports Report… The Olympics were not quite as big a deal in Argentina as in Los Estadios Unidos (EE.UU.), but coverage was still extensive, especially for basketball, field hockey, and tennis player Juan Martín Del Potro. But the most impressive athlete I’ve seen here was a young hombre in dark clothing on roller skates delivering a pizza while talking on his cell phone. At night. In the rain. I gave him a 9.5. (Would have been a 10, if he had been wearing sunglasses.)

Breaking News… The American Embassy has been relegated to 2nd Place in the ongoing “Ugliest Building in Buenos Aires” competition. Your new leader? La Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) de la República Argentina. A building designed in the “brutalist” style. Truly.

Fun Facts About Animals… The carpincho (capybara), source of fine pelts for deluxe fashions (re: Bulletin #02), is the world’s largest rodent. They are gentle, gregarious, semiaquatic herbivores, typically weighing up to 68 kilos (150 lbs.). In Venezuela, carpinchos are harvested for food during Lent, owing to a 16th century Papal dispensation classifying them as “fish.” Or so the story goes. I think they’re cute and I want one. (h/t: Megan R.)

Speaking of wildlife, the parks of Buenos Aires are home to several species of parrots. We haven’t done our birding due diligence yet, but there are a boatload of green parrots (technically, parakeets) inhabiting the trees around the embassy, just hanging out and yakking it up; which is very entertaining, by the way. I suspect they’re talking caca about the perros.

Musical Notes… (sorry, can’t help it)… Osvaldo Pugliese (1905-1995) was a legendary pianist, composer, and tango orchestra leader. He is so beloved among porteño musicians that any bad mojo, in which they believe mightily, can be repelled by saying “Pugliese, Pugliese, Pugliese” muy rápido. (h/t: Jeff H.)

Finally... The first (and smaller) of our two shipments from the States has arrived and our joy knows no bounds. Well, some bounds, but at least I’ve been reunited with my trusty toolbox, Anne with her good kitchen knives, and we now have bath towels that actually absorb water.

[Sidebar – For the uninitiated, FSOs (Foreign Service Officers) and their families newly arrived at post are issued a “Welcome Kit,” a giant footlocker chock full of household stuff. It’s actually a very nice service and we are sincerely appreciative. That said, some of the items are of better quality than others; for instance, our ironing board has a major dent in the center and a port list. Not good. But, it is a crisis of luxury, so we make do. And when the last (and exponentially larger) of our two shipments finally clears customs, we’ll pack up the ol’ WK and bid it a fond adios.]



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