Archive for January, 2012

Weird dream

Posted: January 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

I had a dream last night that gold hit a $4000 price point because of something having to do with India, China, and Iran. And for some reason, life in general became quite dangerous for us so we had to armor our truck and make sure we had the rifles and ammo crates ready. Making the house combat-ready was an engineering challenge but fun, as weird as it was, but then when I woke up I felt sad because all that work went for nothing and I had no fort to play in and no zombie neighbors to blow up.

This from my friend PacificNorthwestBob.

Apparently Uruguay’s hive of Migraciones feels inundated with too many requests for residency. I highly disagree with the “several hundred percent” number on the aforementioned link; in reality the number of applicants has dropped 33% from its high in 2009: 4091 applicants in 2009 compared to 2709 in 2010. The 2011 information is not yet available.

However it won’t keep Migraciones from tightening its requisites for legal residency applications. Now, apparently, you can’t just start the process and go wait it out somewhere else for the potential 18 months it will take to get approved. Now you are at their beck and call, and must live in Uruguay for the duration. But don’t worry, it will be ready for you mañana. Or semana que vienen…

If you don’t stick around, your application will be denied.

Not a good idea, this, as Uruguay suffers from a brain and labor drain the likes of which I have never seen elsewhere. It needs immigrants.

More thievery

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

The industry, it’s a-boomin’

GermanBob sent me this article in El Pais.

I’m so tired of reading news about burglaries but it has become such an epidemic this year that I feel I should still get the word out.

The latest run of high-drama robberies includes a factory owner who was assaulted in his sleep, held down, and handcuffed to his bed while the thieves demanded the key to his safe and threatened him with a pair of scissors they found in the kithen. He would not tell them where the key was, so they took his wallet instead. Then they tied him up with rope, took their handcuffs back, and left.

The honorary consul to India was also robbed in El Chorro; he did not lose much more than two telephones. Sounds like the same thieves that got GringoSurfBob.

Another family in Punta Del Este was robbed by the ninja-like “bedroom thieves”, probably the same ones who got into EasternBlocBob’s house and stole his family’s wallets. They came in at night and went through the bedrooms’ contents while the people were asleep.

In other news, a man riding a motorcycle was shot in the face by thieves for declining to hand over his bike.

A teenager was also fatally shot during a botched robbery; 10 people (mixed adults and teenagers) decided it might be a good idea to gang together and steal bicycles from a business’s parking lot. The security guard present got into a fight with them, during which a struggle ensued for his weapon and it discharged into the teenager’s chest.

Not that I think it is a good thing, but hopefully more of the government guys will get completely fleeced, so they know what it is like and might be less likely  to take policy in the wrong direction (like they are trying now with their saber-rattling against gun owners). Maybe that is giving the ñoquis too much credit. They manufactured the situation, you see. They made these burglars happen.

How, you ask?

First, give them lots of entitlements and raise them with a view that the wealth pie is of limited size, and that anyone with a larger slice must have stolen it from someone else or gotten it through ill means.

Then, using this attitude, forge an environment where employers are viewed as owners of a bigger wealth pie slice that needs to be pared down. Get the employees to thinking that they are entitled to the jobs which employers provide.

Then make law that reinforces this wrongheaded belief and works employees in like a tick on its host animal. Put in place loads of unnecessary and superfluous taxes and forced entitlements, and such harsh penalties to fire a slacking employee that it becomes easier to simply leave an employee on the payroll and hire someone else to pick up the slack than it is to fire them. This sort of legislation leads to people being much more reluctant to hire anyone and much more likely to pay them a crap wage.

So now we have an entire generation of low-wage employees with little hope for the future, and a gross entitlement mentality, who all work for the last generation which did not have to try and develop their wealth in such a horrible environment. The old generation has money and property and wealth. And the young generation, having voted for an environment of self-imposed poverty and a ceiling on their potential, is in a jealous rage.

We’ll just take back “what was stolen from us” they say.

Oh, add in a cultural thing that makes it a noble act to steal back from a thief…

And, now you see what is going on in Uruguay today.

Toll Booth Zombie

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Here’s an oldie but goodie that I posted elsewhere on Halloween 2010…


A ghastly tale, just in time for Halloween. Be on watch for… tollbooth zombies!!!

Today on the road, in the lane reserved for Manuel, I pulled in to hand the toll booth girl 2 heaping fistsful of coined Peso shrapnel.
Dynamite could not have motivated her to move much, let alone reach both hands out; my hands are quite large and, both containing an abundant portion of coins, it would only make sense that she extend both of her dainty hands out to accept the payload.

Inevitably, during the transfer, she dropped a 2-peso coin. We both watched it fall and heard it clink on the pavement, made eye contact (or at least that is what I took it for, staring into those hollow, dry, dead sockets and thinking that maybe she too had witnessed the same incident). She looked half-heartedly out the window, noted that the coin was no longer visible, counted the change she had received slowly, and then stopped, looking forlornly out the window for the coin.

Would it jump up into her hand? Not likely. She then looked forlornly at me and made eye contact again with those same dry, dead eyes, as if it is my responsibility, in addition to earning the money to pay her sorry ass, to get out of my truck in the toll lane and search underneath it for a 2 bloody peso coin that SHE dropped!!!

Incredulous, I stared at her a moment, not saying a word. Cars were piling up behind me. She looked again, this time cracking her door open a bit to see if the coin was visible. No such luck, of course. I waited to see if the cogs in her head might suddenly jolt free of their rust and cobwebs and begin to turn, but no such luck there either. Then she turned to me and, in a rather dead tone, dared to say, “Falta 2 pesos.” (You’re 2 pesos short.)

Now I had a chainsaw in the back seat and I was tempted to give this zombie a good thorough butchering, but I held back. Zombies are in high demand and short supply these days. Someone might have to order a new one if I lost my temper.

Having personally witnessed the regular behavior of a half dozen Uruguayan tollbooth zombies cramming themselves into a single toll booth to flap jaws and sip mate, I knew it was only a matter of time when things were once again slow at the toll gate and this one left its post to go and buzz in the hive with the other zombies… or returned to its post after a car had been waiting for 5 minutes at an unattended booth and had been honking its horn for 4… This particular zombie was going to drag its feet over that coin at some point in the future anyways; maybe by some chance a dusty synapse would fire and it would remember where those vitally-important and earth-shattering 2 pesos came from. Maybe spend a calorie, or whatever unit of energy the undead run on, picking it up and placing it in the till.

I waited until 6 or 7 cars were behind me, and then guaranteed her that if she waited until the other cars were gone that the 2 pesos would still be on the ground. Newton’s laws! It took a few moments for it to sink in, whereupon she begrudgingly cashed the toll out and handed me my receipt. And I know it’s just going to gnaw her bones all night because the damn gringo was such a jerk and wouldn’t do her job for her. And that gnaws my bones.
Anyhow, watch out for the tollbooth zombies this weekend.

If you build it, they will come.

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Recent dinner table gossip turned up this tragic gem and added to the pile of “fuck you Uruguay” moments we have been experiencing all-too-often these days.

A woman from Alaska had gotten into a car accident a couple of years ago; they were fine but the other driver was not; she was injured severely and was in a coma. During the following months, the family of the victim hit up the insurance company for financial help to cover their medical bills and potential loss; it was apparent to them that their loved one was not going to make it, so they made preparations to pull the plug on life support.

When someone dies tragically here in Uruguay, the typical insurance settlement is about USD$40,000. In this case the Alaska driver’s insurance company was willing to pay $250,000, quite a bit higher, considering the months of medical costs for critical care life support, the loss of vehicle and loss of income earner, etc.

Sniffing blood in the water and jealously eying the wrecked Cadillac Escalade that belonged to the Alaskan (their family must have lots of money!) like true sharks they swarmed in for the kill. The Uruguayan family wanted more. They demanded $750,000. The insurance company warned them to accept the $250,000 and walk away, and said that if push came to shove, they would reduce the amount as a penalty against the potential lawsuit and lawyering charges. The family was unimpressed, and went ahead with their campaign for more money. And, just as they had promised, the insurance company, having been around the block a few times, came back with their reduced offer. The family had no ground to stand on, and had to settle for $80,000.

Big oops. Jackals fighting over scraps. Just goes to show, don’t be a greedy fucker. The English language is full of little one-sentence parables like, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” and, ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” etc. etc. etc. Spanish has its own versions.

However, part of the settlement involved the dropping of any charges of wrongdoing against the Alaskan driver. Obviously. Why would it be otherwise? Ahhhh, but this is Uruguay, the land of nothing-is-ever-done, and you shall see…

The day came to pull the plug, and the victim miraculously came out of her coma. Great news all around. While she would need a long time to recover, she would still be alive, and could be with her family.

Several years passed, and everyone was thinking their lives were back to normal. Then one day the Alaskan family gets a notice that they need to appear before a judge and take care of some unfinished business. Thinking it’s just another routine paper-chase shakedown, the Alaskan woman goes there with her husband and children. Then the judge takes her into immediate custody and throws her in prison (despite the settlement) and promptly leaves on vacation.

Las Rosas prison, where she was put, is a hellhole, to state things lightly: Rats, cockroaches, and the food is so bad that if your family does not bring you supplemental meals, you will literally starve to death. Her family was unable to get in to see her, and no appeals could be made even to other judges. Meanwhile, the prison guards were hitting her up for bribes, the image of that shiny wrecked Cadillac Escalade dancing like sugarplums in their heads, “If you pay me this much, I have influence with the judge and can make sure she considers an appeal.”

Fortunately this woman was devoutly religious and felt that God had placed her here for a reason, and refused to capitulate to this blatant extortion scheme.

During her incarceration, the family’s part-time empleada (maid/nanny) sent her a note, by way of one of the prison guards, and offered similar, “I have influence with the judge. If you agree to hire me full-time, I will make sure she considers an appeal.”

This is repugnant on so many levels, I have no words to express myself adequately.

It seems that they were all either in on it (which is stomach-churning) or they all wanted their pound of flesh from the tragedy (which is equally vomitous — see my previous post about people thinking they deserve a cut from anything that happens in their vicinity). Either way the poor woman was stuck in prison for 3 months.

Just a few short years ago, a norteamericano could wander around in Uruguay with nary a jealous glance by the local population. We were welcomed as guests and treated like common people. It was one of the things that made Uruguay a pleasant place to live. Now we are starting to be seen more and more as meal tickets, and ones the locals are entitled to.

This all just proves my previous point about the petri dish of corruption that the government bureaucracy has set up here. If you try to go about things in an honest way, you will get screwed.

Enough said. When you wonder why you can’t afford anything because (a) your money is now inflated and worthless, and (b) the rest of it you manage to save is taken away by your tax overlords. Just make that same smug smile and readjust your chains.

Look no further than Argentina (not far from here, but far from the USA) for examples of what to expect soon in the USA. Our Dear Leader and his regime are taking plays straight from Peron and Kirchner’s book already.

Argentines used to flock in droves to the beaches of Punta Del Este to spend their money and party like rock stars. Now they are thin and nearly gone. It is only mid-January and the beaches are vacant.

For Punta Del Este, a town built out of flight capital, this may not bode well. Worst case it results in an economic slowdown. Best case the Brazilians take up the slack. Either way, the times must be hard because the government cannot find the resources, mental or monetary, to provide a proper police force, and crime is organizing and increasing. And the judiciary system here is horrible, as you will read in my next post.

The Brazilians were jam-packed here until the 6th and every night was a rockstar celebration; it was like living inside a disco for 2 weeks. Now they are all gone, and what few Argies manage to get here, are having trouble spending their money. Nobody wants their pesos because they are devaluing at 25%, and President Kristina’s draconian decrees have made it all but impossible to redeem them for other currencies. Argentines whisper to the merchants in Uruguay, “can you sell me some dollars?”

Argentine money-sniffing dogs

How horrible to be at the coast, ready to load into the boat for your vacation across the river, and these scumbags take all your money? We have a word for this; it’s called theft.

Thievery update

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

GringoSurfBob’s vacation rental in El Chorro was just broken into. The thieves stole all his electronics.

They took our jobs!

Posted: January 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

The bankers and government have been in conflict for a while.

What the sign on the left says, is, “The bank officials earned US$232 million in 2010 and eliminated 50% of job positions. Do you have better service? The government is violating the law of collective negotiation. Bankers in conflict (translation sort of a “bankers angry/on strike”).”

The next one reads, “The bank officials earned 232 million dollars in 2010. The workers, for their historical achievements, got less than 0.5% of that figure. Don’t lower the salaries.”

The PIT-CNT is the Plenario Intersindical de Trabajadores, and Convencion Nacional de Trabajadores. The equivalent of teamsters unions.

Well, the bankers EARNING the money is much different from the workers DEMANDING the money. People here seem to think that they are so damned special that when commerce happens, their mere presence in the vicinity entitles them to a cut. Not just the workers but the government and the fixers and the various inbetweeners of all the things that go on here.

Another funny thing is that these bank employees whine and kick and scream about not getting all the cash but work only a few hours a day. The local branch of my bank is open daily from 2pm to 6pm, Monday through Friday, closed on holidays (once every couple of weeks here) and also closed on whatever days they choose to go on strike.

Who makes the jobs? The bank officials. Who fills the jobs? Whoever the officials put there. Who, therefore, owns the jobs? The bank officials. If they offer a bad salary (which is clearly NOT the case: bank workers earn double the average wage here, for half the work) then go work somewhere else, twice as much, for half as much.

I have some simple suggestions for those poor, underpaid bank employees if they want to earn more money:

  • Try working more than 4 hours per day.
  • Try not going on strike all the time; I might be inclined to pay more for services if they were actually there for me to use when I needed them.
  • A smile does a lot of good. Try it sometiime, your face won’t break.
  • A thank-you also goes a long way as well.

WifeBob and I live within a short walk of a nice local hotel that has a gym. Since the worst of high season is over, we decided that it might be nice to work off some of the vast weight of gringo lard we have accumulated, and sign up for a gym membership. So we went in and asked about the details.

As it is still high season, the monthly prices are a bit absurd. So we asked about the yearly membership. $75 per month, if you pay for the whole year. OK, no problem. A bit steep but not terribly expensive compared to what we would pay in the US, and it includes the pool which I will make plenty use of. Now came time to sign up, and OH NO we can’t do that, because these are high season rates.

Come back in March, they say, to sign up for a yearly membership.

Let that sit and stew for a moment, please.

Even if I removed my brain and soaked it in an acid bath, periodically wringing it out to dry, perhaps stomping on it a few times and then letting the birds pick at it, I could not bludgeon my IQ down to that level of dysfunction.

It took several repeats to try and explain to them that if I was paying $75 per month for an entire year of access, it mattered not when I signed up, for it would be the same monthly charge no matter what. This is not rocket science.

After a few phone calls to select people with a few more axons and dendrites, it was decided that yes, indeed I had a point, and that we could sign up for the year now, and not have to wait until March.

Sweet relief!

Then, on the way home, we saw this sign on a vacant lot:

The sign asking to please respect nature and not throw trash everywhere. Vandalized with spraypaint, and with trash hung up with care right next to the sign. Note also the plastic bag of trash in the background. There was more at the foot of the tree but I did not get it in the shot.

Someone give me a root canal!