Saturday, June 07, 2014

Land of opportunity in digital news media: Buenos Aires

Miranda Mulligan, right, and me, left, with the startup teams.
We hear a lot about the next Silicon Valley, but we don't hear much about the Valley of Death. That is where 80 percent of tech startups go to die.

Startups die or join the walking dead mainly for two reasons: they don't have enough cash or they don't have enough knowledge to get to the next stage of development. They are unable to show investors that their project could be commercially viable.

The Media Factory News Accelerator, based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, wants to change those odds of making it across the Valley of Death.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Holy Week in Taxco: the religious pageant

Cindy in a cafe overlooking Taxco's 18th century cathedral, built by a silver baron.
Cindy and I spent part of Holy Week in Taxco, a couple of hours south of Mexico City. To get to Taxco you have to drive along steep, winding roads that hug the mountain on one side and drop off on the other into a frightening abyss.

Taxco is a Unesco World Heritage site and is considered one of the country's "magic towns" because of its architecture and cultural attractions.

It has been a center of silver mining for five centuries, and there are lots of shops displaying handiwork by the silversmiths.

Lots of indigenous artisans bring their work into Taxco for the tourists.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How many species of hummingbird do we really need?

A hummingbird we saw in Costa Rica in 2005.

Today I was reading a review of the book "Hummingbirds," which has photos of most of the 338 known species, and it got me thinking: 338 species of hummingbirds? Nature's abundance and variety amazes me.

And then I thought about how a friend of mine who is against all tree huggers and in favor of all real estate development might respond to this information. He might say, "Well, how many species of hummingbird do we really need? Do they all need to be protected? Don't construction people need jobs? Don't people need places to live? Should we stop building highways so we can all spend the rest of our lives stuck in traffic?"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our neighborhood in the exurbs of Mexico City

The air is thin where we live. We notice it most when we hike uphill two-thirds of a mile to the campus.

According to Google Earth, our apartment is 7,600 feet above sea level, and the track where we run is almost 7,700 feet above sea level. We are not high enough to feel altitude sickness, but we definitely feel the stress of breathing thin air.

Technically we are in the Colonia (neighborhood) of Villas de la Hacienda, in the city of Lopez Mateos in the Municipio of Atizapan de Zaragoza in the State of Mexico. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

On Mexico's Mayan Riviera: Tulum and Cancun

Cindy and Patrick at Tulum in 2000

When Cindy, Patrick and I visited the Mayan ruins of Tulum 14 years ago, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.

Industrialized tourism was just beginning on the so-called Mayan Riviera on the east coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

We could climb the pyramids and walk anywhere around the site.

Today it's a different story. Busloads of tourists pour in from Cancun, about 90 minutes north. You have to park about a half-mile away from the entrance now. The ruins are roped off. More of the buildings of this ancient ceremonial city have been restored and excavated.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Getting acclimated to one of the world's biggest cities

Letter from Cindy:

At the National Palace in the heart of Mexico City, where we saw Diego Rivera's murals.
Our neighborhood is densely packed, part of a suburb of 500,000. 

Dear Friends and Family,
Jim and I are still wandering the globe. We are in Mexico again, as some of you already know. Jim has accepted a one-year appointment as visiting professor of Communications and Digital Arts at Tecnologico de Monterrey's campus near Mexico City. Tec is an innovative private university with 13 branches around Mexico.
We are living in Ciudad Lopez Mateos, 30 to 40 minutes northwest of the capital. This is quite different from life in Guadalajara, where we lived in an upscale neighborhood with plenty of shops, restaurants, parks and a car. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Balloon launch over the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan

Morning balloon launch over Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan. We got to the site at just the right moment.
Cindy and I have been to Teotihuacan (tay-oh-tee-wah-KAHN) a couple of times before, but the scale of the place never ceases to impress us. So when the staff at the university invited us to join a Sunday tour with other international students and professors, we said sure.

We had a pleasant surprise when we got to the site, which is about 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. A balloon launch was under way. It looked at first like an invasion of the aliens.