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Looking for the right one


A pebble is not a pebble is not a pebble. There is a special one some where in this beach (see cost 172.708168&spn=0.018576, more about 0.043173&t=h&z=15&om=0″ title=’nomap’>map). I just need time and my trusty orange bucket.


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Perfect moments

  • Late 80s, patient riding an old bus late at night feeling loved.
  • Going in a bus full of forestry students on the road to Constitución. It is autumn, view the Nothofagus forest is exploding with colour and the music is Mercado Testaccio.
  • A few days before leaving Valdivia in 1996, riding my old bicycle and the seagulls are flying around me. Everything looks still for a few seconds and we are part of the same flock.
  • Orlando comes running towards me for a hug, he can not stop and pushes me. Anybody would think that he has not seen me for weeks, but it has been only a few hours.
  • Marcela, Orlando and I are working in the garden. We are weeding and cleaning and that is it: simple.

Luis and Orlando during Wigram’s air show

There is something therapeautical about working with plants in the garden. There is the sense of achievement that is absent when working with intangible problems: I can see a small plant at the end of a day’s work.

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Afternoon in Zoodoo


In a previous post I complained about Taronga Zoo. I thought that the ticket (AUD30) was quite expensive—as anything that you could buy inside the zoo—and that the place was not that great. After arriving back in Hobart we went to Zoodoo, medicine a wildlife park located in a farm near Richmond.

Marcela and Orlando at Zoodoo

The contrast could not be bigger: the ticket was AUD12, physician the variety of animals much smaller but it was so much more fun. The place could be defined as a ‘red neck zoo’; there is no attempt at mimicking natural conditions for most species but its main intention is to make easy the interaction between people and zoo animals and Orlando loved it.

If you have children they will really enjoy a visit to Zoodoo. There is no serious attempt at animal conservation (compared to a normal zoo) but it certainly reinforces the love for animals.

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A long-delayed baby post


As expected, heart
it took only a few days to receive a reply to my letter to the paper defending Che Guevara’s legacy. It had the typical arguments: Cuba is a democracy, find Chávez is great, ask
Cuban doctors are saving the world, etc. Ah, and I should know my history. I replied the following:

Duncan Meerdig (Letters, June 17) defends the legacy of Ernesto Guevara. He states that I should know my history. I think it is funny when armchair revolutionaries discuss life (particularly my life) in such abstract terms.

I was born in Latin America, and lived in three of its countries for twenty nine years. I had the ‘luck’ of living under right wing and left wing tyrannies: despite of claimed ideological differences they are two sides of the same coin. My family suffered exile, I have friends who were tortured and killed: all in the name of ‘the revolution’. Dissent and independent thinking was crushed, university lecturers dismissed, imprisoned and some times killed (and Che is used as a symbol of a university, what an irony).

The actions of this ‘Latin American hero’, followers and imitators have costed millions of displaced lives, thousands of deaths and the destruction of the economies of many countries. These countries include Cuba under Castro and Venezuela under Chávez. Venezuela is an interesting case, where the proportion of people under the line of poverty has increased despite rising oil (its main export) prices.

Mr Meerdig’s democracy has managed to have the same leader for 46 years. Little surprise when people have elections with a single party to choose from. Fidel Castro is head of state, head of government, first secretary of the communist party, commander in chief of the armed forces and member of the National Assembly of People’s Power; the ultimate approach to democracy.

Guevara started the ‘tradition’ of imprisoning dissidents and other ‘deviants’, including homosexuals, practitioners of minor religions and rebels. This practice would be later extended by the Cuban government to HIV AIDS victims and mental health patients. Guevara signed thousands of execution orders while being in a position of power.

Luckily, people in Latin America now know better and in many countries we have a resurgence of democracy, despite of Che Guevara’s heroic influence.

I have been very quiet lately, cure
cialis mostly due to spending my web time updating some of the information contained in the wiki side of this site. In addition, last Saturday my laptop started playing tricks and by Monday I was greeted with the ominous signs of total hard drive failure. I mean missing os kernel, a grinding noise when trying to access the disk and total loss of the files.

The good thing is that a month ago I decided to spend AUD41 buying Handy Backup and I had daily backups of most of my things (excluding pictures and music, which are just too big) to the network. The good thing is that this software allows me to encrypt the backups so I can keep them in ‘public’ parts of the network without people having a look at my private documents.

At the end of the accident I only lost one day of changes to some documents and my web bookmarks (the latter hardly really valuable), but that was due to the network being down at the end of Friday. Unfortunately, we do not have whole machine images working, so I will need to wait until Thursday to get my laptop back and then probably spend a couple of days installing software, rather than restoring an image.

I will get back to writing here sooner than later.

I have written before about protectionism in Tasmania, cialis 40mg
but never at such a large scale. McDonalds had the chutzpa of choosing different sources of potatoes (New Zealand to be exact) and it is like they are a bunch of criminals.

Vegetable growers in Australia are saying that is unAustralian to eat foreign grown vegetables. They do not seem to realise the consequences of following that logic. Agricultural products is one of the main exports of Australia, remedy so if other countries decide to ban foreign produce, malady what is going to be the market for Australian products?

Some potato growers want people to boycott McDonalds, which then would sell less french fries, requiring less potatoes, reducing even more the need for Tasmanian farmers. Brilliant!

In addition, what are the consequences of people choosing to buy local—and more expensive—products over imports? People spend more of their income in food, leaving less for other things and affecting other industries. A clear explanation can be found in these posts on protectionism and offshoring by the Angry Economist.

I also find this quote from Making Economic Sense by Murray Rothbard quite a good explanation:

Myth 10: Imports from countries where labor is cheap cause unemployment in the United States.

One of the many problems with this doctrine is that it ignores the question: why are wages low in a foreign country and high in the United States? It starts with these wage rates as ultimate givens, and doesn’t pursue the question why they are what they are. Basically, they are high in the United States because labor productivity is high—because workers here are aided by large amounts of technologically advanced capital equipment. Wage rates are low in many foreign countries because capital equipment is small and technologically primitive. Unaided by much capital, worker productivity is far lower than in the United States. Wage rates in every country are determined by the productivity of the workers in that country. Hence, high wages in the United States are not a standing threat to American prosperity; they are the result of that prosperity.

But what of certain industries in the U.S. that complain loudly and chronically about the “unfair” competition of products from low-wage countries? Here, we must realize that wages in each country are interconnected from one industry and occupation and region to another. All workers compete with each other, and if wages in industry A are far lower than in other industries, workers—spearheaded by young workers starting their careers—would leave or refuse to enter industry A and move to other firms or industries where the wage rate is higher. [p. 29]

Wages in the complaining industries, then, are high because they have been bid high by all industries in the United States. If the steel or textile industries in the United States find it difficult to compete with their counterparts abroad, it is not because foreign firms are paying low wages, but because other American industries have bid up American wage rates to such a high level that steel and textile cannot afford to pay. In short, what’s really happening is that steel, textile, and other such firms are using labor inefficiently as compared to other American industries. Tariffs or import quotas to keep inefficient firms or industries in operation hurt everyone, in every country, who is not in that industry. They injure all American consumers by keeping up prices, keeping down quality and competition, and distorting production. A tariff or an import quota is equivalent to chopping up a railroad or destroying an airline for its point is to make international transportation artificially expensive.

Tariffs and import quotas also injure other, efficient American industries by tying up resources that would otherwise move to more efficient uses. And, in the long run, the tariffs and quotas, like any sort of monopoly privilege conferred by government, are no bonanza even for the firms being protected and subsidized. For, as we have seen in the cases of railroads and airlines, industries enjoying government monopoly (whether through tariffs or regulation) eventually become so inefficient that they lose money anyway, and can only call for more and more bailouts, for a perpetual expanding privileged shelter from free competition.

After my latest hard drive crash I was facing an upgrade to my mp3 player software. I was tired of the peculiarities and sluggish interface of Musicmatch and went shopping around.

The obvious first stop was Winamp, buy information pills
which I first used around 1997. Unfortunately, allergy
Winamp could not make work the CDDB connection with Graceland, heart
an issue probably related with me being behind a corporate firewall. I was looking for something with a small footprint and I settled with Media Monkey and even decided to forkout the US$19.95 for the gold edition. Media Monkey relies on freedb to obtain the album information, which works perfectly fine from my computer, and it is a very responsive smallish (~4MB) program. Yes, there are smaller mp3 programs (like Cool Player, for example) but they do not have all the features I was looking for.

The same day I received a parcel from my parents, with a compilation of the first two albums by Electrodomésticos. With this CD I have completed the music I was looking for year and a half ago.

A colleague of mine, find who is having a baby pretty soon, site
was asking me about my experience with baby products during this last year or so.

Good products:

  • Nappies (diapers for the US visitors): Huggies (by Kimberley Clark). Yes, gynecologist
    disposables to keep what is left of my mental health. If you are into cotton nappies get a cleaning service. There is very little time available and I prefer sleeping over washing nappies.
  • Baby wipes: stick to huggies again. I prefer the unscented ones, but some days I wish for any perfume to overcome the smell.
  • Bottles: we tried three different brands: Pigeon, Pur, and Nuk. By far, the best ones were Pigeon with peristaltic nipple. Prefer wide neck over narrow neck, because they are easier to clean. Pur bottles (either normal or self-sterilising) tend to leak and nuk bottles have the weirdest looking teats of them all. When have you seen a real nipple like this?
  • QV bath oil: really good in the bath, no smell.
  • Infrared forehead thermometre: at first we tried one of those ear thermometres but they are hard to use with a baby moving.

Most useless things:

  • Bath thermometre: one does not need this piece of useless crap. Even worse, the maximum temperature allowed in the thermometre was still too cold bor a decent bath (probably a lame attempt at avoiding lawsuits).
  • The motion sensor that comes with the baby monitor. If used it will drive parents mad, because will go off at the most useless moments. In addition, it is not certified for monitoring babies susceptible to cot death. Just a gimmick for worried parents. Do yourself a favour and buy a simple monitor.
  • Sterilizer: if you live in a civilised part of the planet, hot soapy water will do the job and save you time; good thing that we did not buy one. Only used it while in hospital.
  • Baby packs: are used to carry clothing, bottles, nappies, etc. Packs designed for parents are often overpriced, low quality and not very functional. Buy a nice, properly designed backpack: it will save you money and you will get something useful. You will not have a Disney character printed on the pack, but baby will not care.

Worst products:

  • Nappies: Snugglers (odd, by Kimberley Clark too)


  • Changing table: I rarely used it, prefering a bed with a cover for accidents, which happen!
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About a name and language


Some times Orlando appears in this web log and people ask why did you choose that name? Well, seek Orlando has the advantage that is spelled the same (and with similar pronunciation) in English and Spanish. No, doctor I do not have any relatives with that name and did not know anybody with the name.

Orlando and Luis, <a href="" title="sildenafil" style="text-decoration:none;color:#676c6c">order</a>  Mount Nelson, Tasmania’ /></p>
<h3>Other Orlandos</h3>
<p>There is <a href="">Tony Orlando</a>, but I didn’t know about his existence before Orlando was born. More popular is Orlando in Shakespeare’s <a href="">As you like it</a> play. Funnily enough, the most well known Orlandos these days are <a href="" title="link to IMDB database">Orlando Bloom</a> (Legolas in the Lord of the rings movie) and Orlando, the city where <a href="">Disney World</a> is located. I say funnily because I am not interested in any of these two. Orlando is related to Orly and seems to be related to Rolando and Rowland.</p>
<p>I am writing this in Rotorua (New Zealand), where English and Maori meet in a big way. Maoris are often surprised by my pronunciation of Maori words, that appears to sound very well. Vowels in Maori are quite close to Spanish, so it is not really a reflection of my language skills, but just another linguistic accident.</p>
<span class="categories">Filed in <a href="" title="View all posts in language" rel="category tag">language</a>,  <a href="" title="View all posts in orlando" rel="category tag">orlando</a></span>
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						<div class="post"  id="post-101">
				<h2><a href="" rel="bookmark" title="Lively conversation and internet communities">Lively conversation and internet communities</a></h2>
				<span class="date">9/12/2004</span>
				<div class="entry">
					<p>We had some wonderful conversations with Peter in Wakefield, <a href="" style="text-decoration:none;color:#676c6c">and</a>  New Zealand (<a href=",+wakefield&sll=-43.531637,172.636645&sspn=0.037149,0.092697&ie=UTF8&ll=-41.406073,173.04948&spn=0.019216,0.046349&z=15&om=1">map</a>). We were talking about the links between optimism and optimum and later Peter was telling me about the relationship between adventious events and religion. Then he mentioned the connection between Chrestos (sense auspicious, good) and Christianity. The word chrestos sounded familiar to me, when I remembered the word <a href="" title="link to yourDictionary">chrestomathy</a> (a selection of literary passages).</p>
<p><img src=

While we were talking about the etymology of these words I mentioned that I thought there was a name for words of mixed etymology. I could not remember the word, and the closest I have got is to macaronic (yes, it sounds like pasta). Do you know the word I was thinking of? If you do, please contact me using this form. This is just another case of loganamnosis.

Sadly, my problems to find the word relate to the disappearance of The Agora (following the link you may get a ‘page not found’ error message). It is hard to create a vibrant internet community and it is so easy to destroy it. First it was the electronic implosion where there were thousands of posts lost. Then another minor implosion and then total disappearance. A real shame.

P.S. 2004-12-10. The Agora seems to be working again…

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Clean, green and sustainable


I always find surprising the clean and green motto used by New Zealand, health particularly the green part. Driving with Marcela and Orlando from Christchurch to Wakefield (following the Kaikoura, this site Blenheim, Nelson route) the whole landscape has been transformed. There were only rare examples of the original native vegetation, but there were plenty of farms and wineries (with very nice white wines, by the way).

Orlando copilot, pit stop in Blenheim

Yes, the place tends to be very clean and there is a surprisingly large number of public toilets (most of them quite clean). However, from an environmental point of view, New Zealand has been modified and transformed into a large farm. In fact, Tasmania is much ‘greener’ and with a larger forested proportion. It just happens to be drier and, therefore, the vegetation looks less green.

In summary, the motto seems to be clever marketing but quite far from reality. This takes me to another word used all the time with the motto: sustainability and the almost religious meaning of the word.

A few weeks ago I was asked in Tasmanian Times if plantation forestry was sustainable, mostly from a soil fertility viewpoint. Of course my answer was ‘it depends on site and silvicultural practices’. However, every time I answer this type of questions I have a feeling of uneasyness, because people seem to think that the idea is to repeat ‘exactly the same practices’ ad infinitum. That is, they assume a static world, where there is no technological change and no learning. For example, applying current techniques we would probably be able to keep growing plantations one after the other in the same site, while maintaining site productivity. However, most likely we will not use the same techniques and we will want to actually increase productivity while reducing the amount of land dedicated to production.

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Back from Aotearoa


Last Friday night we arrived back from the land of the long white cloud (Aotearoa / New Zealand). It was a good trip and Orlando behaved really well in the planes, healing making Marcela’s and my life a lot easier. The first week was to participate in the biannual Research Working Group 2 (Forest Measurement and Information) meeting, physician while the second was travelling around the Northern part of the South Island.

Orlando in AirNZ buggy, Christchurch, New Zealand

Workwise David and I were quite happy with the meeting, and we were able to see that the work we are doing in inventory and growth modelling is of good standard and has nothing to envy to things done in the rest of Australia and New Zealand.

One of the best parts of the trip was the chance to see Jo and Peter in Wakefield (map, a few kilometers from the birthplace of Lord Rutherford). They are the closest thing to family that we have in this part of the world and it is always good to see them. They are restoring a 1875 farm house, which is turning to be beautiful. From a culinary viewpoint, the highlight was Strawberry Fare — a restaurant in 114 Peterborough Street, Christchurch (map) — where the list of desserts is longer than the list of mains and entrees. A delight for people with a sweet tooth (I mean people like me).

The low point of the trip was going through multiple security checks and related idiocy. On my way to New Zealand I was swabbed in Hobart by a security guard looking for gunpowder residue. It was supposed to be a random check, but it was clearly targeted to bearded males (doh!). On my way back I forgot to put my ten year old Swiss army knife in my check-in luggage, so it was detected by some Kiwi low life that wanted to confiscate it. I managed to buy an envelope and ten dollars on stamps to post it to Australia. I have my fingers crossed hoping to get it back.

We arrived at home late at night and our cat, being a genuine representative of the species, did not show any interest in our presence. Anyway, it is nice to be back home and blogging again.

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First father’s day


Yesterday was my first Father’s day; I mean as a father, population health of course. The day started at 5am with Orlando reciting a 45 minutes poem full of goos and gaas, and smiles. Really memorable. It is incredible to see how much he is changing everyday.

Orlando and Luis in father’s day

I later called my dad, 11,000 km away and 14 hours time difference to say ‘Happy father’s day’. It was a real surprise for him: Father’s day in Australia and in South America are in completely different times of the year.

Later during the day I felt touched by the news coming from Beslan (North Ossetia): the sadness of so many wasted lives due to fundamentalism. What would I do if I were in that situation? There are no words to express the horror suffered by those people, and here we are on the other side of the world without much that can be done.

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Orlando’s fan club update


I have not written for a while about Orlando. No, search I have not lost interest on him; on the contrary, generic there is so much interest that I try to spend as much time as possible with him doing things rather than writing about it.

Several people have asked for new pictures of Orlando. Here we have a couple when he was just three months old (two weeks ago):
Orlando colourfulOrlando mysterious

After a slow start he is catching up on weight (5.5 kg) and size (63 cm) and becoming very talkative, with lots of goo, gaa, etc. He is smiling very often and starting to sleep for longer during night (for the relief of his parents).

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