Saturday, January 24, 2009

hey gravy, i made us an email account awhile back so I could load whole albums up there for you, and would you believe it, but someone out there got mmmgravy@gmail before i did. wild. anyway mmmgravy is the very top secret password so don't give it out k?

The first album up is one of my favorite folk albums discovered last year, Great Lake Swimmers' second album, Bodies and Minds.

You won't be thunderstruck by any means, but its very well-done, honest, low-key stuff and there a couple songs that you'll love (start with Various Stages), so at the very least it will help you get some work done. probably about an MMGravy.

go here:

download this:

which is a really fun african, hell, I don't even know, hiphopish creation that just makes me dumbhappy and helped me pull off a herculean finals feat. mMMGravy

everyone is welcome to post there. gmail only seems to be able to handle 3 songs these days per email, hence the replying. also, we could use the email account to have secret ongoing discussions, which is apparently what all the coolest sites do.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Guatemala is Good

Just got back from Guatemala. It was good times. Click on the title for some Flickr photo goodness. Long windedness ensues below.

We left Milwaukee really early on the morning of the 31st and made it to Guatemala through Houston by early in the afternoon that day. It's about a 4.5 hour flight-- just about as long as it takes to get to Las Vegas from here. The difference between the two is night and day. From Guatemala City, we took a chartered bus to Antigua. This is a town that European tourists and hippies LOVE because it is actually one of the best-preserved Spanish colonial towns in the world. Cobblestone streets and all that. Also 2 volcanoes, 1 active. The arch you see in my pictures is in Antigua. The town was nuts because of New Year's. Our local guide, a British expat by the name of Don Mike, explained that at midnight the town is "like bloody World War 3 broke out," and he was right. I have never seen so many fireworks go off in my life! We also saw a guy wearing a truss shaped like a bull running through town spewing fireworks everywhere. I have a picture of that on Flickr.

The next morning we took off to the site of a bridge we would help to construct. This is in Cuatro Centro, Quiche. It's a 3 1/2 hour drive over some bumpy dirt roads to get there. We stayed for a week with the people to help get things started, with a brief stopover in La Garrucha (my water project) to take some tests and measure the flow rates from the new spring boxes. No pipe yet-- but we are hoping for this week. We also got to go to the market in the nearby big city of Joyabaj, which was pretty cool. We checked out a couple of sites for schools that another team will be building in May. The new schools will be a major improvement over the tin-roofed, cornstalk-walled schools that house 90 kids in a single classroom.

After we finished work on the bridge, completing the footings, abutments, and sleepers that other groups would use to finish construction, we returned to Antigua by way of Mixo Vijeo. This is the ruins of a Mayan fortress constructed in the 13th century and burned by the Spanish in 1525. No giant man-eating plants, I'm afraid, but some very cool pictures.

The morning of my final full day in Antigua was spent scaling an active volcano with a guide. We got to see molten lava up close. Some guy even lit his cigarette off of it, and a couple of Germans peed in there for good measure. Being good Wisconsinites, a couple of members of the group drank a Gallo (Guatemala's beer of choice, tastes kind of like crappy Miller Lite) at the top. Then we went and ate pizza because we were all sick of tortillas and beans.

Yesterday was spent traveling. We got our flight from Guatemala City to Houston just fine, but customs was backed up and slow as hell so it was an epic sprint through the airport to meet our jet to Chicago. After all of the customs shenanigans, we had 20 minutes to get from Terminal B to Terminal C via Terminals D and E. I was running with my passport between my teeth, my shoes in my hand, and my belt tied on to the back of my backpack. At one point I outran one of those little golf carts and some dude cheered. Working for a week at altitude (approx. that of Denver) will do that to you!

Hope everyone had a safe (yet drunken) New Year! How did everything go?