Friday, August 24, 2007


3 lbs. of modeling clay

Growing into adolescence in the Dominican Republic was a great experience. I've discussed it before but was just remembering the differences in living conditions from the States to the DR.

We never had air conditioning. Nice restaurants and our cars were about it. We slept with overhead fans and standing fans. The overhead was for general air movement and the other fan made it cool enough so that I could actually sleep and as an added bonus mosquitoes were unable to bite under gale wind conditions. Then the power goes out and you're fucked. Most people didn't have generators or inverters to artificially return the power to your house, so you would just sit and sweat, willing the power to come back on and relieve you from the sweat and humidity. At the beginning we had a very loud generator that we ran extension cords to and from our fans or TVs if it wasn't sleepy time. We also had a small inverter, basically a car battery or two hooked up to a power converter box that could run a fan or a TV for a short time. We recharged it by plugging it in while the power was on. I remember once playing Super Nintendo using that method and the screen kept getting smaller and smaller until it finally vanished. Probably not the best thing for the TV but I was 11, what did I care?

Then came the new fancy generator that was hooked up to the whole house. It could run the fridge and lights and fans. It really didn't like running the microwave so we would hold off from using that if we could. Very nice, but you still had to go outside, crank it up and fill it with gas every once in a while. My friend Icedtrip and his family had a very nice feature for their generator. They had a remote start, so if you knew the generator had gas, you push a few buttons, turn the knob, flip the switch and TADA! Power!

In case you're wondering "Se fue la luz" was the most used term for when the power went out. Literally translated as "the lights left".

Then bigger inverters became the rage. Lots of bigger batteries, automatic power switching, automatic charging when the lights came back on, and all you needed was to add some distilled water to the batteries. Very very nice and I would highly recommend that system. Better yet, hook up a couple photovoltaics (solar panels) and maybe a wind generator and recharge it for free and leave the electric company out of it.

Now for a few links.
First, Jay Rosen, associate professor of journalism at NYU, had a rebuttal to Michael Skube's op-ed piece on the journalistic values of blogs. Michael wasn't too impressed. From the LA Times.

Second, from that article came a wonderful piece of investigative journalism from the Dallas Food blog. They questioned the exorbitant prices for chocolate being charged by Noka Chocolates. Very in depth and ultimately realized that Noka doesn't make their own chocolate. They buy good chocolate, remelt it, reform it and mark it up 1300%. Just awful. A very well written and researched blog post - What is Noka chocolate worth?

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