Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! {+ Oct. Photos!}

Tonight Gigi went trick-or-treating with her best neighbor friend, Keira! They were adorable!
Here they are this afternoon in their matching pumpkin shirts, and then later this evening dressed up as a Chargers cheerleader and a 50s girl {note: it's virtually impossible to get these two to smile at the camera the same time!}.

Gigi finally got the hang of it after a few houses. She liked carrying her little bag of treats around, and had fun examining "her" loot. :)

One of our neighbors was nice enough to give the little girls Teddy Grahams, so we let Gigi have a "treat" when we got home! {p.s. This picture shows the first time she said "cheese" when posing for a photo!}

October was a fun month in Colorado, and included two of Gigi's other best friends, Wyatt & Brooke's birthday parties!
Here are the rest of the month's pictures:
http://flickr.com/photos/bennettars/sets/72157608547716184/

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Argentina - La Tierra de Bife


Hola, friends and family. As some of you know, I recently traveled to Argentina for a business meeting. I am used to going to Alabama and Mississippi, so this was a pleasant deviation from my normal trips. The company I work for, United Launch Alliance, will be launching an Argentinian satellite on one of our rockets so I got to go down there to support a meeting with the spacecraft manufacturer.

The meeting was held in Bariloche, which is in the northern part of Patagonia. Bariloche is roughly opposite from Denver in latitude across the equator. We had to fly from Denver to Atlanta, Atlanta to Buenos Aires, and Buenos Aires to Bariloche. The flight to Buenos Aires is 10 hours, but my company's travel policy allows for flying business class on international flights so I was able to sleep in my seat that folded almost flat. My travel plans gave me two days in Buenos Aires - one on either end of the trip.

I knew very little about Argentina before I left for this trip so I did some cramming with one of those travel guide books (I think it was Frommer's). While those books have a ton of great information, you really don't get a feel for a foreign place until you are actually there. Here are a few examples of guide book tourism versus the real thing (I am paraphrasing the guide book versions, but you will get the point):

1. Transportation
Per the book: Traveling by car in Argentina is much more dangerous than in the United States. Think about calling a taxi or taking the bus before considering driving in Argentina.

What it should say: Traveling by car in Argentina is absolutely insane. If you are the least bit faint of heart, do not even get in a car. No one pays any attention to lane lines, stop signs, or pedestrians. The only hint of obedience to the law is at stoplights. If you want to walk across the street, your head must be on a swivel or you might as well be dressed as a speed bump.

2. Food
Per the book: The cornerstone of Argentinian cuisine is beef. You will find many traditional meals consisting of tender, grass-fed beef.
What it should say: Bife, lomo, and carne are all words you will find on a menu that mean 'beef". Kind of like Hawaiians having all those words for "waves", it seems fitting to have all these words for beef since Argentinians love to eat steak. We had a huge steak lunch two days in a row in Bariloche at a local BBQ place. The meat was absolutely fantastic - so tender you could cut it with a butter knife. No sauce needed for this steak. And to get the party started, we had beef turnovers (no joke). As an aside from the beef, they have soda in glass bottles in Argentina. The country is dominated by Coke products so I ordered"Coca" at most meals and drank it from a wine glass since they also have tons of that. For dessert, you will find many types of chocolate treats. I partook in several of these goodies, the best of which contained dulce de leche, a caramel-like liquid made mostly of sugar.

3. Shopping
Per the book: Argentinians as a whole are a very fashionable people. You will find many botiques, as well as larger stores to get your fill of shopping.
What it should say: While you can buy clothes to dress like the Argentinians, it is much harder to be as good looking as most of the people there. There are hardly any fatties in Argentina and it seemed like every woman, young and old, had a beautiful complexion. If you still want to shop after seeing all the beauty, be prepared to buy something leather. Whether you are prepared or not, the store owners will be in your grill trying to get you into their store to buy a jacket that used to be the wrapper on the steak you ate for lunch.

4. Sports
Per the book: Soccer (fútbol to the locals) is by far the most popular sport in Argentina.
What it should say: Soccer is basically the religion of the Argentinian people. "Sporting goods" stores are actually soccer stores with a couple aisles of random equipment for tennis, basketball, and maybe golf. The only "sports bar" we saw - and ate at - was a soccer bar which could have doubled as a disco joint. Argentina was hosting Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier on the day we left so every other person on the street was wearing at least a jersey - usually accompanied by a hat, scarf, or face paint - sporting the colors of the Argentinian national team.

A few other random notes:
- Be thankful for the budget that is dedicated to public works in the US. The sidewalks and streets (as you will see in a few of the pictures) are not taken care of nearly as well as they are in the US.
- There was a disturbingly large number of stray dogs. Not sure what to say about that one...
- Speaking Spanish is very helpful, even if you are not fluent. I had four years of Spanish in high school and I was able to get myself and my three co-workers around just fine (especially considering one of my co-workers had to ask me how to say "please" in Spanish).
- I ate wild boar stew. Awesome.
-We had time on the last day of meetings to do a hike to the top of El Mirador (in the Andes Mountains). Bariloche is in the foothills of the Andes and we drove through one of the parks and took a bunch of pictures.

As a whole, this trip was very enlightening and interesting all at once. I was able to see the large city of Buenos Aires as well as the small ski village of Bariloche. I had fun trying to speak in Spanish with waiters, bellhops, and others who spoke absolutely no English. I took a bunch of pictures while I was there - here's the link:
http://flickr.com/photos/bennettars/sets/72157608469189825/

I am very thankful for the chance I had to go on this trip and I hope you enjoyed this synopsis. If the opportunity to travel to Argentina ever presents itself, take it and enjoy the country of great complexions and tender steak!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Week in California

Sorry for the delay on this post~ still waiting for a few pics to get emailed to me, but I figured I can just add to it when they arrive!
Gianna and I spent a week in California at Yaya & Papa's house while David traveled to Argentina for work (more on that later!).We had a great time! We saw lots of friends and family-- Granny & Granpa came down for dinner one night and Unc A & Tia spent most of the week with us, too. On Thursday we had a very full day visiting some friends in Orange County which was very fun. We even went the San Diego Zoo on Friday -- Gigi loved all the "amuls" (animals)! Oh, and Gigi fell even more in love with Sydney (aka "Ninney").Gigi Bri did awesome on the plane rides (sleeping most of the time!). The only bummer about this whole week was that we came back to significantly cooler weather. Let's just say I currently have 2 tomato plants and 1 jalapeño plant in my kitchen trying to survive ~ I'm always in denial that winter is coming!

As usual, I have lots of pictures to share from the week away...

My album from the week:
http://flickr.com/photos/bennettars/sets/72157608242781930/
Al-Buddy also has some great shots too:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/14000165@N05/sets/72157607946938560/

P.S. I wrote a guest post for Green & Clean Mom last week. You can read it to find out how/why I decided to go green...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fun with SNL from hulu.com

So, I haven't posted in quite some time, but I couldn't resist after seeing this bit on SNL a few weeks back. They have a segment called "SNL Digital Shorts" - they are basically random clips of really strange and funny situations (once you watch a few you will find out how hard it is to describe them with words). I am convinced that they can only be the brainchild of someone who writes for SNL.

I hope you all enjoy this clip from hulu.com (you can view it fullscreen there). If you have never looked around or even heard of hulu.com, you will find that it is a great place to watch all kinds of movies and TV shows. They even have very recent stuff, like the most recent episode of The Office...

P.S. If you look around on hulu.com you will find another Digital Short that is a spin-off of The Office. Enjoy!

Friday, October 03, 2008

September

Just a quick post to deliver all of September's pictures... there are a lot! I will try to be better about posting updates this month! :) Enjoy!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bennettars/sets/72157607611273404/