Monday, April 11, 2011

Raised Fields near Lake Titicaca

I won't go into an explanation of what raised fields are; other folks have studied them longer and taken much more time to understand them than I have. I'll just put in this link.
I was, however, lucky enough to see them in person recently and was pretty blown away. Not just by the raised fields, but by the landscape in general. So windswept and intense. And the people were absolutely incredible. There is still some truly amazing innovation going on at the household level in this part of the world, as I expect there is everywhere else as well. It was a joy to see. Hope you like the pics.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Community Maps from the Benson

Last friday we went to the Benson Latin American Collection with Dr. Butzer for his Indigenous Maps and Architecture seminar.  I was able to snap a few shot with my iPhone and thought I would share them here.

These maps are part of a collection that were produced in response to a questionnaire sent out by Spain in the late 1570's designed to assess its own holdings in the New World.  The map-makers were indigenous and offer a fascinating glimpse into their communities as they saw them in the first half-century of the Spanish presence.  

These two are from the map of Cenpoballa.  This map is much more detailed and interesting than the first.  You can see some interesting allusions to the town's heritage, represented by its former leaders around the plaza. 

This is the hill represented in the map of Cenpoballa.  You can the Nopal, Maguey, deer, and owl all represented.  All in bright detail and color, juxtaposed with the plain white church below it.  The map is dotted with Christian elements but all of them are simple sketches and all of them are left white.  How does this represent what these people thought about the Spanish?  Were they seen as transient elements in their otherwise established and vibrant landscape?  
The Spanish never felt authorized, as it were, to displace indigenous communities in the areas around Mexico City.  They never felt that they had ownership over the land, only users' rights. They did seek to establish a presence but by superimposing elements of the Church and Spanish civil rule on top of traditional institutions.  I think this is fascinating because it requires that we think about the "conquest" differently than we typically do.  How much agency did the indigenous people in central Mexico have during the beginning of the Spanish colonial period? It seems to me that, if they were representing their communities like this, they had quite a lot.  
Fascinating stuff.  Very cool maps.    

Sunday, March 8, 2009

What does "basic essence" mean?  Is this what they're talking about? Or is this what they're talking about?  Sigh.....

This is sweet and weird.  The flyer is so funny that I have a hard time believing they're really upset.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Weekend at the Farm

I went to the farm this weekend in an effort to be more productive, escape distractions, etc.  It worked only kinda sorta.  
What I did or did not get done is not really what is important here.  What is important here, and what I want to talk about, are rat/mouse traps.  I'm not talking about the Tom & Jerry-metal bar-slamming down over the neck mouse traps.  I'm talking about sticky pads as seen above.  "Last Step".  First of all, there's a rattlesnake stuck in it.  I cannot even imagine how terrifying it would be to deal with that.  Luckily, we don't have rattlesnakes in Hubbard.  We do have tons of field and door mice.  
The problem with these traps is that they don't really kill the mice.  They just stick them to the pad.  If you are unlucky, you end up stumbling upon a mouse with a dislocated shoulder, half a second away from chewing his arm off in an attempt to escape.  Unfortunately, his or her entire body is also stuck the pad, so they end up starving to death (or bleeding to death, internally, from their broken shoulder?)
Now, I've been one of the unlucky ones who has come across a still alive mouse on the pad, more than a few times.  It is BRUTAL.  You have to kill them, obviously.  They're in excruciating pain.  But I mean, come on!  
What if giants set these things all over the place to trap us?  Wouldn't you much rather just get stepped on?  Or poisoned?  

Friday, January 30, 2009

Surfrider's Condom Filets

I read Boing Boing the other morning, like most every morning,  you know...for the NEWZ, and I came across an entry for Surfrider Foundation's collaborative ad-campaign with SAATCHI & SAATCHI LA.  It is both disgusting and hilarious, so I thought I would link to the post: 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best of 2008, looking forward to 2009

First, I'd like to say that I am going to start posting this year (for realz) on this blog.  It looks like fun, I enjoy reading other people's blogs, so it is high-time I write a little bit myself.  

To kick of the new year, let's talk about the old year!  Here is very scattered-in-no-particular-order list of my favorite things this year.  Also included are just important things this year.

1. January 2008: month of the reality-check
2. Coming home to "home"/Leaving Bolivia
3. Getting accepted to college and then decided on what kind of college to accept.  
4. Big Brother Patrick got married!  We have another girl in the family now!
5. May: return visit to Bolivia.  Not nearly long enough, but sooo important.  Seeing Teodolinda one more time and saying a proper goodbye was huge.  Helped to screw my head on properly.
6. Getting punched in the eye at Melody in Yacuiba and then battling it out against a bunch of Chaquenos with Phil.  Reminded me just how much I hate fights.  Also reminded me just how much it hurts to get punched in the eye.  
7. La Paz with Mike McCaffrey.
8. Working at the Park Cities Y for my summer job.  I have never felt so old, but I did have a lot of fun with those kids.
9. Slightly disappointing first semester at UT Geography?  Not very challenging and as a result, a little boring.  Is it weird that I think that? No. I just know that I have to make it more challenging from now on. 
10. The Dark Knight
11. Apollo Sunshine-  Shall Noise Upon
12. Seeing Nathan, Ellena, Dave, and Steve for New Year's.  It was like a mini pep-rally for me.
13. Getting coca sent to me in the States.
14. Jonathan Hemingway marries Amanda in Michigan.  Best 4th of July in a long time.  Wonderful wedding.
15.  Return to Austin, hanging with the Bros.

All in all, 2008 was kind of a bummer of a year.  I'm by no means a bummer of a guy, but there was something kind of poopy about the year in general.  I think it is probably because I started the year so out of character.  
2009 seems pretty cool, though.  I am not going to drink any booze until February 6th.  I'm presenting a paper at the AAG in Las Vegas this March.  And I'll be spending my summer in Paraguay working on my master's thesis!  It's definitely time to start kicking a lot of ass.  Too much thinking about it.  Not enough DOING.
It's our world, after all.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Paracti, Cochabamba: Latitude (DMS): 17° 13' 0 S, Longitude (DMS): 65° 49' 0 W

Paracti is located in the Department of Cochabamba, la Provincia Chapare, Bolivia, approximately 80 km from Cochabamba on the highway to Santa Cruz.

The name Paracti is Quechua for "rainy place" (para being "rain"). The town is located at an elevation that allows it to receive considerable rainfall ("la ceja del monte"). As hot, humid air rises and moves west from the eastern tropical lowlands of Bolivia and Brasil, it condenses and dumps its water on this eastern facing slope of the mountains. It rains virtually every day, creating a lush, insanely green landscape.

Last week I visited Paracti and a small working farm there with a colleague and friend, Christopher Salvagio. The farm is owned by a man named Rafael Musch, a Cochabambino of German descent. On 3 hectares (7.5 acres) he has seven greenhouses dedicated to flower and plant production--lillies, ferns, etc.--which he sells to vendors in Cochabamba. He has another 3 hectares that he has left recovering from previous use. It is wild and absolutely gorgeous.
In the high valleys of Bolivia and even in this hotter and more humid part of Cochabamba, trout farming is common among local producers. Trout is a fish that requires clear, cold water. The water must be moved constantly in order to oxigenate it adequately. As a result, it is a comparatively costly species to produce. The work required to provide for a regular flow of water either means having a pump on hand or constructing a system to take advantage of the natural flow of the water from higher elevation (as in this case). Still, the complicated nature of the water monitoring and treatment and the delicate nature of the fish are worth it because trout typically receives somewhere between 30 and 35 bolivianos per kilo ($3.80 to $4.50, approx.).

Don Rafael has four small ponds and one large laguna for the production of his trout. Three of the ponds are constructed side by side and house trout of different sizes. Water moves down from the higher parts of the mountain and constantly flows through the system of tanks. His desire to increase production of trout on his property and to start producing freshwater shrimp and crab. Yes, that's right. Freshwater shrimp and crab. Just awesome.