Sweet Tea, No Lemon

The way it's supposed to be.

November 20, 2013
by Ken
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Quito, Ecuador: Big Clouds and Big Churches

Dark clouds above Quito

Dark clouds blanket Quito in this view from El Panecillo.

An overcast sky was ever-present during our stay in Quito, but in many ways the weather just enhanced the scene.  Instead of dulling the colors, the dark rolling clouds seemed to transform the landscape into a dark and rich painting palette.

While headed to Quito’s historic Old Town, I took this shot of a typical street scene, framed by clouds and mountains.

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November 16, 2013
by Ken
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Quito, Ecuador: Shotguns and Happy Meals

Mile-High City?  Meh.  Try 1.8 Miles.

Because of our unexpectedly late arrival in Quito, it was late in the following day when we finally opened our eyes and officially arrived in South America.  And, hey, does anyone else feel a little weird?  Quito, Ecuador lies in the Andes mountains at an elevation of 9350 feet.  Each of us had a mild headache for a day or two as we got used to the effects of the altitude.

Our first hotel stay wasn’t exactly an immersion in the local culture, as I had booked a free reward stay at the Quito Holiday Inn Express.  With 16 nights of the trip in hotels, it was nice to start out with a few free room nights.  The Holiday Inn Express was as comfortable and familiar as one would expect.  Just like in the US.  Well, except for the armed security guard stationed at the front door 24 hours a day.

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November 11, 2013
by Ken
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A Trip 30 Years in the Making

The Lure of Peru

For all of my life, I have been fascinated by South America.  As a teenager, I loved to read about adventurers who travelled deep into the Amazon jungle or high amid the Andes.

When I first saw pictures of the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu, it instantly moved to the top of my wishlist of places to visit.  At that time, travel to the area was far less common than today.  Machu Picchu had only 120,000 visitors in 1982.  That number has risen dramatically in the years since, with over 1 million visitors seeing the site in 2012.  The Peruvian government has now instituted a daily cap of 2500 visitors per day to protect the site from its own popularity.
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July 23, 2012
by Ken
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Istanbul July 2012

To celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary, my wife Jan and I wanted to travel somewhere exotic and far away. We settled on Istanbul, Turkey, and booked our trip immediately. Despite our impulsive decision, the choice proved to be an excellent one. Of all the places that I have traveled, no destination has delivered an experience like Istanbul. Our week in the city was everything you hope for in travel.

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October 25, 2011
by Ken
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A sneaky way to get a better interest rate on your CD

It looks like the crazy-low interest rates on savings and CDs aren’t going to improve any time soon.  The Fed has indicated that they plan to keep rates low for the foreseeable future.  And, frankly, our federal government just can’t afford to let interest rates rise because of the ballooning federal debt.

So, what’s a suffering saver to do?  Here’s a trick to improve your interest rate on a 2 year CD.  And, the tip also works for other medium length CD terms.
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September 15, 2009
by Ken
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Must-visit site for language learners: LiveMocha

In the lengthy time since my last blog post, I’ve been steadily improving as a Spanish student, mostly through reading and watching shows on DirecTV Más.

I was reading through some posts on one of my favorite American-Expatriates-in-Mexico sites (Falling in Love with San Miguel) when I came across a brief mention of a language learning resource called LiveMocha.  Wow!  I had no idea what I was missing out on.
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August 12, 2007
by Ken
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Fuera de Serie, now with closed captioning

I mentioned the entertaining Spanish travel show “Fuera de Serie” in a previous post.  At the time, I noted that closed captioning wasn’t available on the show.  However, the last few of these shows that I have recorded finally do have closed captioning.  If you’re using this show for practicing Spanish comprehension, check it out.

The show airs on the Galavision network, which is part of many satellite and cable providers channel lineup.  Currently, the schedule is 2 PM Central time, Monday through Friday.