set up

More learning how to program in Python. More information crammed in my brain. It feels good to get prepared for a new project. Lots of things I can learn how to do on my own. Like learning guitar, etc. My brother installed a few Firefox plugins (Firebug and Web Developer) for me so now I can doodle around with CSS and Javascript, playing with pages and making them look nice. I’m looking forward to making a blog and a personal website. I want to figure out how to install wordpress on my old/new site, twoifiplay.com, which right now has nothing at all.

So things are trundling along. It’s scary to go to a new place, especially after what happened last time. But things are different. I’m not drifting and purposeless. I’m excited about learning new web stuff and learning a new skill that’s transferable and transportable. Once I get good at web stuff again, that’s something I can do wherever so it doesn’t matter if I’m in Austin or Australasia.

e-learning

It’s ironic. I do so little but feel like things are moving so fast. Life is a whirl of meeting up with old friends and family who I haven’t seen in years.

Now that I have a nice new computer I can actually use it to do something. I’m taking full advantage of being in San Francisco to have my brother teach me what I need to know about creating interactive web apps (python, django, plone, etc.). My head is bursting with new information and my brain is craving more and more knowledge. Getting back in touch with this isde of my personality makes me feel stable and at home, an old friend I’d missed.

While I was away in Buenos Aires, I dropped all things computer. It’s interesting because while I was working in an e-learning company, I was shunted away from programming. Management didn’t like groups to interact or share each other’s skills. Not unlike the learning it instills, the job was an information production line, nothing more nor less. It’s exciting to think about another job where, like previous jobs, I will be encouraged to bring all my skills to the table.

I can hardly wait.

Reverse Culture Shock: Energy Drain

I’ve been back for about three weeks and shock is just about setting in. It’s as total as it is indescribable. I know it only by its symptoms. I am exhausted all the time. The actual tasks I need to do are easy: going to the mechanic, calling a friend, driving to the bank. It’s ironic because both the bureaucracy and the language is easier for me to navigate than it was in Buenos Aires.

The feeling is like having ice skated or roller bladed for a few hours, on taking the skates off you feel like you’re walking on air. You feel like you can run faster than a cheetah, nothing can stop you, your shoes have never been more comfy. But then you don’t know why you’ve walked just a few blocks and you’re out of breath already. The answer? Reverse culture shock.

Things seem like they should be easy, after all, I’ve done all this stuff and I didn’t even speak the language, I didn’t know anyone, I had fewer resources. I have none of these problems here in the States. It is not the difficulty of the tasks that is overwhelming, it’s that neurons in my brain are firing after having gone years without being accessed. My body is reconstructing relationships that it hasn’t considered in years.

Transport

“In my country there’s a problem, and that problem is transport.” -Borat

For my first year in Argentina my car (an 89 Camry) sat unused in my parents’ garage, so I gave it to a friend of mine who needed it. Now that I’ve returned she kindly fixed it up and handed it over. The car made it from Seattle to Portland just fine but then, on the way to Sacramento, the engine overheated and died.

It’s frightening to have your car die on the highway. When I started driving I used to imagine situations in which I’d imagine what I’d do in case I lost control of the vehicle. In this case the engine died and I lost power steering and brakes. Armed only with an unwhieldly wheel, an ebrake and some emergency blinkers for luck we somehow were able to coast into an Arco station. I poured in a $12 jug of coolant and it poured right out the bottom of the car. After some cajoling a guy working at the neighboring Subway came out and promptly disappeared under the car. He emerged, pronounced a leak in the water pump and recommended us a hotel where he and his girlfriend had spent the night the previous weekend.

We stayed at the Motel 6 slept hard. We’d spent so much time sitting and waiting for the car to cool, I’d eaten only some yogurt, a sandwich and some trailmix. Luckily we were just blocks away from Perry’s Automotive Service so we showed up bright and early with our broken car. They quoted us $460 to fix it (4 hours of labor at $80/hour) and, though it’s probably more than the price of the car, I decided to do the deed.

In Argentina I hardly ever used cars and never for long distance transportation as the interior of an Argentine bus looks more like an airplane than something you’d expect to have wheels. While I miss the freedom of the open road, it’s been wonderful to avoid the tragedy of a roadside breakdown. At least when you’re the one paying for it.