This Is What 5,500 Miles Away Looks Like

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I can attest that some people just do better with visuals, so I thought I'd post a map that shows the Philadelphia area in relation to Necochea. This is the itinerary for my flight down to my new home, which includes a layover in Lima, Peru. Click on "View Larger Map" for a more manageable view of the labels and easier navigation. If the map is not visible for you, please click here.

Just 5 days to go!

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United States of Argentina?

Jamie over at Living in Patagonia brought my attention to an opinion piece from The Washington Times entitled "The Peron Pattern." The article asserts that President Obama is leading the United States down a path toward socialism (and economic ruin), a choice that echoes the failed populist policies of Juan Perón in 1940s Argentina.
"The failure of Peronism should serve as a warning: Socialism and a sky-rocketing national debt can permanently impoverish even the wealthiest nations. America is not immune from the laws of economics. Prosperous republics - ancient Rome, the Italian city-states, Argentina - have seen their wealth squandered, never to recover...

"Most ominously, Mr. Obama is repeating the statist populism that didn't work in Argentina, and will not work in America. Professor Philip Jenkins wryly observes that the United States of America risks becoming "the United States of Argentina." He is right. Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it."
Some interesting political food for thought... Is America the next Argentina? Do you think President Obama's economic policies will lead us out of the doldrums or further down the slippery slope? Read More......

Luxury, or Necessity?

A few weeks ago my stepdad's 3-month old microwave stopped working. He quickly called a repair technician, but in the meantime, everyone was relegated to using the stove (perish the thought). A couple of weeks passed before he and the rest of the household could once again nuke yesterday's leftovers with the mere press of a button. Events like the microwave incident highlight just how attached we are to our creature comforts. But if push came to shove, could you live without items like your cellphone, cable TV or your dishwasher?

A recent article by The New York Times,"Luxury, or Necessity?," presents information from a poll regarding the items Americans feel they just can't do without these days.
"In response to coverage of strapped households, a reader points us to the Pew Research Center’s 2006 report on what kinds of goods Americans consider "necessities" versus "luxuries." The results show that, as their incomes rose, Americans have gotten somewhat needier over time. For example, the percentage of Americans who call microwaves a "necessity" rather than a "luxury" has more than doubled in the past decade, from 32 percent in 1996 to 68 percent in 2006."
I don't think any of the items discussed in the report constitute a necessity in the truest sense of the word, but I can't deny that some of these items really do make life easier or more comfortable. Below, I've given my take on the necessity vs. luxury debate. The first answer of the yes/no pair indicates whether I consider the item a "necessity," and the second response indicates whether I'll have access to it in Argentina.

Clothes dryer.................yes/no (a clothesline is in my future)
Dishwasher.....................no/no (unless you count Daniel)
Home Computer............ yes/yes (3, in fact - yes, we're nerds)
Cable or satellite TV...... no/yes
Home air conditioning... no/no
Car air conditioning....... no/no
Microwave..................... no/yes
Car.................................. yes/yes
Clothes washer.............. yes/yes (no washboard for me)
TV set............................. no/yes
cellphone........................ no/yes

Clothes dryers, dishwashers and air conditioning are not standard equipment in most Argentine homes (the same is true in Europe as well). I wonder what the results of a similar report would be if these questions were posed to Argentines, though I suspect very few of these items would be rated as necessities.

So go ahead and weigh in on the debate! Which of these items are indispensable in your opinion? Read More......

For She's a Jolly Good Fellow!

Good Luck Katie by katiealley on Flickr

This weekend I was treated to not one but two, count 'em, two going-away celebrations. On Saturday night I joined my dad's family for dinner at a lovely restaurant in Chester County called Simon Pearce, which is located right on the Brandywine River. In addition to the restaurant, the site also houses a glass-blowing and pottery workshop. The restaurant has a casual-yet-classy vibe, and the food was quite delicious (I ordered duck confit – yum!). Unfortunately I left my camera behind, so I have no photos from our night out (nor of the crazy hijinks that ensued afterward at my cousin's house!).

On Sunday my stepfamily organized a going-away party for me at my stepdad's house. We even had some Argentine fare: ensalada rusa and empanadas. My great aunt found a recipe for ensalada rusa [photo], the Argentine version of potato salad, on Allrecipes.com, and the result was delicious! I made the empanadas with ground beef [photo] (with a bit of assistance from my sous chef/best friend), and they were also well-received. This time I remembered my camera!

Katie and Jen on Flickr[Jen and Me]

Party Time on Flickr

I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful gathering I had with my mom's side of the family at the end of January. Vince and I ventured over to South Jersey to visit yet another branch of the family tree. We had a wonderful afternoon of conversation, food and horseback riding on my great uncle's farm.

The Williams Family

It has been nice to get together with so many relatives (especially those that I don't see on a frequent basis), and I received many sincere good wishes. Thank you to all of you who came out to wish me well. Soon it'll be time to get this show on the road. ;)

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