Archive for June, 2008

A cat’s life


..The Infinite Poem.. /Haiku #2/

Sky pleads in hasty red-
Sun takes silently with him
the colours of the day.

Postcards of the city #2 // Greetings from the farm

The political and economical situation that, together with the intentional grass burnings and the eruption of the Chaitén, has left Argentina under a cloud of preoccupation and unrest for the last months, has not prevented the major players in the conflict from having some sense of humor…
If you were asking yourself if penguins were aggressive animals, this post might shed some light on that doubt… As to whether a bull and a penguin could engage in a duel in the middle of a city, it seemed unrealistic to me until today, when I witnessed what is seen in the pictures below (I wonder if it could have anything to do with global warming…)
Now back to reality (and trust me, it is equally hard for me to believe that this is our reality) these are the instruments of propaganda exploited in a conflict that has kept Argentineans with an arm around their pig and a foot on the horse

(note: the penguin speaks on behalf of the president, the bull on behalf of the rural economic sector)


While rebellion took place in the farm, world leaders (including our president) gathered together in Rome to discuss the global food crisis . The worldwide rise of food prices has rendered it impossible for the poor to afford even the basic grains like corn and rice (more on this topic here).
In some countries, like Haiti, people have taken the streets and cried out plain and loud: “we are hungry”. Everywhere in the world, hundreds of millions of people are victims of hunger, violence and disease; they die slowly, under the indifferent eye of the very nations that have now – finally- decided to unite forces and help.
Meanwhile, false commitments are professed by our leaders, reality is masked with bogus statistics, responsability is evaded with fabricated accusations, and opposing voices are silenced by explicit aggression. Milk is spilled and food is left to rot in a country that, despite having enough resources to feed around 400 million people, fails to provide for its own, and is undoubtedly too incapable of solving its own problems to even dare think about giving a hand of relief to countries in a worse situation…


At first, and taking advantage of the beautiful mascots depicted above, I wanted to write a fable to convey how ridiculous and illogical the recent actions of our government seem to me, but then I figured that someone else – a brilliant author from a different (?) time – had spoken about matters like this with a wit that is hard to match. I decided to quote some parts of one of his books, so here it goes:

Napoleon was well aware of the bad results that might follow if the real facts of the food situation were known, and he decided to make use of Mr. Whymper to spread a contrary impression. Hitherto the animals had had little or no contact with Whymper on his weekly visits: now, however, a few selected animals, mostly sheep, were instructed to remark casually in his hearing that rations had been increased. In addition, Napoleon ordered the almost empty bins in the store-shed to be filled nearly to the brim with sand, which was then covered up with what remained of the grain and meal. On some suitable pretext Whymper was led through the store-shed and allowed to catch a glimpse of the bins. He was deceived, and continued to report to the outside world that there was no food shortage on Animal Farm.

Nevertheless, towards the end of January it became obvious that it would be necessary to procure some more grain from somewhere. In these days Napoleon rarely appeared in public, but spent all his time in the farmhouse, which was guarded at each door by fierce-looking dogs. When he did emerge, it was in a ceremonial manner, with an escort of six dogs who closely surrounded him and growled if anyone came too near. Frequently he did not even appear on Sunday mornings, but issued his orders through one of the other pigs, usually Squealer.

One Sunday morning Squealer announced that the hens, who had just come in to lay again, must surrender their eggs. Napoleon had accepted, through Whymper, a contract for four hundred eggs a week. The price of these would pay for enough grain and meal to keep the farm going till summer came on and conditions were easier.

When the hens heard this, they raised a terrible outcry. They had been warned earlier that this sacrifice might be necessary, but had not believed that it would really happen. They were just getting their clutches ready for the spring sitting, and they protested that to take the eggs away now was murder. For the first time since the expulsion of Jones, there was something resembling a rebellion. Led by three young Black Minorca pullets, the hens made a determined effort to thwart Napoleon’s wishes. Their method was to fly up to the rafters and there lay their eggs, which smashed to pieces on the floor. Napoleon acted swiftly and ruthlessly. He ordered the hens’ rations to be stopped, and decreed that any animal giving so much as a grain of corn to a hen should be punished by death.


Meanwhile life was hard. The winter was as cold as the last one had been, and food was even shorter. Once again all rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and the dogs. A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism. In any case he had no difficulty in proving to the other animals that they were NOT in reality short of food, whatever the appearances might be. For the time being, certainly, it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations (Squealer always spoke of it as a “readjustment,” never as a “reduction”), but in comparison with the days of Jones, the improvement was enormous. Reading out the figures in a shrill, rapid voice, he proved to them in detail that they had more oats, more hay, more turnips than they had had in Jones’s day, that they worked shorter hours, that their drinking water was of better quality, that they lived longer, that a larger proportion of their young ones survived infancy, and that they had more straw in their stalls and suffered less from fleas. The animals believed every word of it. Truth to tell, Jones and all he stood for had almost faded out of their memories. They knew that life nowadays was harsh and bare, that they were often hungry and often cold, and that they were usually working when they were not asleep. But doubtless it had been worse in the old days. They were glad to believe so. Besides, in those days they had been slaves and now they were free, and that made all the difference, as Squealer did not fail to point out.

George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)

Postcards of the city #1

It was a cold day…

..The Infinite Poem.. (Haiku about the blue)

I thought it would be worth rescuing some of the haiku from that forgotten blog of mine…

They were all based on my fascination for the sky.

Haiku #1
Summer clouds sailing
the silent river above –
wind a gondolier.

Innovative technology #2

Wonder how people in Buenos Aires survive the high summer temperatures?

I don’t know about other people, but what they do at my uni is this:
– buy a new air conditioner system
– keep it in its box
– use it as a platform to hold a fan higher, so that the humid, stuffy air reaches everyone in the room!

Air conditioner

Pretty smart, uh?


Have you ever wished you injured your hand so that you would have an excuse not to sit for an exam?

When little, I used to wish that a lot. I’ve always hated exams (that’s something that Einstein and I have in common), and so whenever the feared moment came, I would fantasize about all kinds of situations that would get me out of having to face that horrible situation… Having a doctor for a father and a nurse for a mother, I grew up in an environment where only health problems are “real problems”, at least that’s all that we are unconsciously concerned about… So my “escape routes” didn’t include alien abductions, burglars or fires… they mostly included some kind of illness or injury; basically, that was the only way I would have a sufficient reason to skip a test… Unfortunately, I was always a very healthy child (did I just say unfortunately?!?!) and so I was left with no choice but to attend every single exam during primary and secondary school… and luckily I always did well in the end (I wish I remembered the recipe!)

The situation changed as I moved on to university. On the one hand, I didn’t always do well anymore, so I got used to the falls and failures of academic life… no big deal. On the other hand, now I am supposed to be a responsible young adult and I am left with the choice to sit for exams at the date which I find most suitable (within a 2 year period). So there’s no need to find excuses, I can just decide not to go for an exam and it’s acceptable.

So here’s where the irony kicks in… Last friday, I had an exam, my first exam on clinical semiology (indeed, the pear does not fall far from the tree). As I was galloping up the stairs of the hospital where I do my clinical practices, I failed to place my foot on one of the steps (the one that came after the step that I did put my foot on properly). My ascent was hence abruptly interrupted, as the Gods granted me my childhood wish -somehow overdue and definitely untimely-, and I landed with a great deal of my weight on my left little finger.
I know, you’re probably thinking: “wrong time, wrong place”. Well… i won’t argue, it was a very, very bad moment to get hurt, for I needed my hand to do the exam and I had studied and wanted to sit for it this time. But it was the right place, in a sense… I mean, what better to get hurt than a hospital??
But the story doesn’t end there, as I had to do the exam first. So I interviewed the patient (lovely old guy, Jose) and performed the physical examination (pain, pain, pain!!! — for me; Jose was about to be discharged, nothing wrong with him), and only after the whole ordeal was over was I able to go to the emergency room and get my finger checked. I got some x-rays, had the chance to visit the many corners of the hospital (which is huge and beautiful, but in urgent need for maintenance!) and was finally told I had sprained some muscles… This is the result:

So yeah, it turns out that the Gods are out there and they hear our pleads, they just grant our wishes whenever they feel like it, and if you are me, it is most likely to happen when you least need it and in the most ridiculous form (I mean, I could have had a bit of a more “respectable” injury, instead of spraining my little finger and being the target of incesant teasing by my colleagues)