Podcast Survey

I just completed a podcast listener survey. It was generic, but asked the kinds of questions I like to see.

One of the questions that I always hope to see on these surveys, but rarely do has to do with preferred episode length. This survey covered it, though not with as much granularity as I would like. My choices were “less than 10 minutes”, “between 10 and 30 minutes”, and a couple other choices. I think anything less than 20 minutes is perfect. If it takes you 20 minutes to say what you need to say, then make the show that long. If you can say it in 2, then 2 minutes is a perfect length.

I would rather have a podcast come out multiple times a week with 2 hours of content broken into 20 minute chunks than to have any 1 episode be longer than 30 minutes. Leo over at TWiT used to have several shows that he tried to keep to 30 minutes or less. There were some that were allowed to be up to an hour in the early days. Now it seems like he has a goal to make some shows 2 hours. Of course his ads can take 20 minutes to get through.

Grammar Girl, you are my hero in the podcast length department. I just wished the advertisements weren’t 1/4 the show length. You run a great network.

The hard part about this survey were the questions about “your favorite podcast.” I listen to a lot of podcasts that I love. I keep going through my list and trying to cut back to just my favorite ones. That list is still well over 50 podcasts. I decided that for this survey I would answer all the questions in relation to Buzz Out Loud which is arguably one of my favorite podcasts but also one I love to hate.

I have listened to almost every episode of Buzz Out Loud since March 2006. Here are my thoughts to Molly and Jason going forward (Tom is cutting back to part time and will soon be gone).

Can’t you guys get back to the good old days when the shows were chock-full of tech news and lasted only 15 minutes? Now you have 4 tech stories and then rant about how it effects your online game play and who you will vote for in the next election. You also somehow can’t keep your shows under 35 minutes any more. I don’t mind commentary, but you guys irritate me. Yet, somehow I still managed to choose you as the one I called my favorite in my survey answers.

*sigh*

I took a happy survey story and turned it into a Molly Rant.

Cold Cokes cost more than warm ones

On our way to church to take our son to a youth activity we stopped at a corner grocery store to pick up a Coke. We were in a hurry since the bus was to leave in 5 minutes (it really left 40 minutes late, but not because they were waiting on us). I ran into the store and saw a display of 2 liter Cokes. I grabbed one and took it up to the check out counter. And waited. And waited. And finally the clerk finished talking on his cell phone and came in to let me pay.

Frozen CokeWhen he punched up the price on his calculator he put in $6.70 (Argentine Pesos). I would not have cared most of the time, but I happened to notice that the price was $6.40 when I picked up the bottle. I didn’t want to let him get by with charging me too much. What if I had to go in there again? Would I stand for him charging me more for every purchase? I decided to nip it in the bud and pointed out to him that the price was $6.40 on the display.

He said, “That is the price for the warm ones, not the ones from the cooler.”

Most of the little stores I have been in charge more if you buy a drink already cold. It makes a little sense because they are paying for the electricity to cool it down for you.

“But, I didn’t get it from the cooler. I got it off the display.”

He said that it was cold; therefore, it had to have come out of the cooler. I told him that was fine, I would take the Coke back to the display and swap it out for another one so he could see I got it from the unrefrigerated display. I grabbed another one and handed it to him. He thought it was too cold too. So he went to the display and dug through the bottles until he found a hot one and shoved the 2 that I had already tried to buy into the cooler.

Did I mention that it was 54 degrees and all the windows and doors were open at the store? Everything was cold in there! But he managed to find one that made him feel better about loosing a little profit.

I didn’t care. I was going to put the Coke on a bus and let it sit there for 3 hours before consumption. It would be the same temperature as the outside air by the time they drank it, which ended up only being 57 degrees for the day.

8K Mercado Regional

Yesterday I ran a race in La Plata, Argentina. It was my first race in a few months and my first one in the southern hemisphere.

Pre-Race
While I have not been training for any particular distance, I have been running more regularly in the last 2 weeks since we got into our own house. I learned of this race just a week ago and was not sure I could still do a good 5 miles. I went out last Tuesday at an easy pace to test the distance. I enjoyed a nice casual 6 mile run and knew that a 5 mile race would be something I wanted to do. On Thursday I just did some shorter intervals. That was my specific pre-race training.

Circuit
The race was held at a large fruit and vegetable market. I thought we would just start there and then run through the neighborhood. But we actually did the whole race right on the market grounds. They set up a 2 Km track that wound back and forth through the huge quonset hut type buildings. We did 4 laps. This was not my first time to do a multi-lap race, but this one doubled back on itself so often it was pretty easy to watch the front pack as they fought for position. The track allowed the runners to also be spectators.

Times
The winner finished the race in 25:20. That is not a screaming fast pace, but at 5:06 per mile, that is a lot faster than I was running. The last runner finished in 54:46, which is still a very respectable 11:02 per mile. I remember when I started running that 11 minutes per mile was a goal to be achieved.

Not knowing the running community here, I was concerned when we got started that I would be the last runner. It seemed like there were some very serious competitors in the crowd. I was pleased when the race started to know that there were some people behind me and I passed a few on every lap of the course. I ended up in 127th place out of 152 runners.

My time was 45:03, which is a PR. I was in 11th place for the 40-44 year old men. With the exception of the first and last kilometers, which were my fastest and second fastest respectively, my split times were almost identical. They only varied by a few seconds from one Km to the next.

Observations
The race was held at 3:00 in the afternoon. That was an odd time. I am not sure if it was because the market area was busy until then or because they just wanted an afternoon race.

Because of the timing of the race I was able to stick around for the awards which I have rarely been able to do. The winners got a nice fruit and vegetable basket (plus some cash I think). These weren’t your typical little fruit baskets though. They were about 2 foot by 4 foot at their base and packed full of things for the winners. I guess that is one of the perks of having the race sponsored by the fruit and veggie market.

At the end of the race there were bananas and oranges available. In Mexico many of the races would have fruit after the race too. But there I almost always had to get my race bib marked in some way to show that I had already gotten my food. The concern (a very real one) is that not just the runners, but the spectators would come over and fill their pockets full of the “free” food. When people were not guarding the tables closely enough I have seen spectators filling up purses and bags of food that was reserved for the runners.

However, at the race yesterday you were free to take as much as you wanted and there was nothing to prevent a spectator from taking food from the runners. No one was loading up their pockets to feed their extended family. I also did not see any spectators taking from the food that was obviously for the runners. The difference between the way the food was handled here and in Mexico is a difference in mentality and level of respect for others.

I enjoyed my introduction to racing here in Argentina. I am afraid I won’t be able to do as much racing here as I did in Mexico though. Like Mexico, most of the races I have seen advertised are on Sunday. It is a rare treat to have a Saturday race. But in Mexico we would run races early to avoid the heat. That is not as much of a concern here. On Sundays in Mexico our church services started at 11 and most races were at 7 or 8 in the morning. It was easy to be done by 9 and cleaned up for church. Here in La Plata most of the races I have seen advertised start at 9 on Sundays and church starts at 10. I will take part in all the races I can, but I just won’t be able to race as much as I have in the past.

My bike is a tax write off

A wrecked bicycleOne of your first big purchases when you reach the mission field is your vehicle. Well, we have dropped $450 Argentine pesos ($120 USD) on 2 bikes to get the family from point A to point B. I was pleased to find out that these purchases are tax deductible. Of course, these are not high-end new bikes. There are repairs that will be involved. Fortunately they are cheap, and deductible too. I wonder if I can write off my food because that is the fuel that makes my bike work.

Along with the neighborhood markets, we also have neighborhood services available. Just 5 blocks from the house is a bike repair place. We are already on a first name basis in there.

So far the repairs have been:

  • Flat on my wife’s bike patched
  • Axle on my bike rebuilt
  • Wife’s rear wheel straightened (after she spent time riding through a rough ditch)
  • My brakes adjusted
  • My axle adjusted again

Repairs that are imminent:

  • Wife’s front tire needs to be replaced
  • Her front wheel has 2 broken spokes as well as several loose ones
  • A need for carrying bags/basket on my bike

I will get some tools and do most of the work myself. I have a nice spoke wrench sitting in the drawer of my room in Florida. But that does not help alot here. The pastor we are working with recommended a place that will have a good selection of bike specific tools that I may visit tomorrow.

The next big adventure is to take my bike on the train to get myself downtown with the bike and then I can get anywhere I need to go. The buses don’t have a way to tote your bike with you, so you either have to ride into town (we live outside of town by a couple of miles) or take the bike on the train.

We will keep looking for bikes for our kids, but so far we have not found any good deals. I am nervous about our daughter (6 years old) using a bike to actually go anywhere, but it would be a great help if our 120+ pound son had a bike of his own to ride instead of riding on the back of mine.

The Argentina Chronicles

We have finally gotten settled into a house. Now I have no excuse to not generate some content on the blog and in other spaces. I had been using the excuse that I didn’t have a routine time to work on the blog. But all excuses are out of the way. It is just a matter of doing it.

Fireplace

We have moved into our new house for the next couple of years. It is a nice place. Very rustic feeling. There is a huge fireplace that I just can’t wait for it to get cold enough to use. The stairs are made from rough cut wood, but sanded and waxed to a nice slippery shine. So slippery that our daughter lost her footing on the last four steps and landed smack on her back and slid the rest of the way down. When she hit the bottom of the stairs her legs crumpled under her and she immediately fell forward doing a faceplant right onto the tile floor.

We are getting around with bikes, taxis, buses and shoe leather. It is nice living in a place that has good, cheap public transportation. We may eventually get a car, but at this point I think we are going to be just fine without one.

There are neighborhood markets for just about anything we need on a regular basis. Wal-Mart is also just a 5 minute bike ride from the house. But if the Wal-Mart trip is going to generate more bags of stuff than will fit in the basket on front of the bike, we have to walk 10-15 minutes to get there and take a cab back home with the loot.

We can be in downtown La Plata in about 20 minutes for $0.50 on the local buses.

We really enjoy the church we are working in. The pastor will probably become a lifelong friend. Even though he is about 10 years younger than we are, we have learned quite a bit from him and his preaching. It is an honor to be able to assist him in the ministry God has used him to start.

We are still getting some basic things together. Trying to get all the utilities worked out has been my big challenge this week. One of the terms of the rental contract was that we would put all utilities in our name. I still have one more to go. When I was at that office the other day thereĀ  was a line of 58 people which caused me to walk out the door and try again when I can get there first thing in the morning. Friday will be the day I attempt to make that trip.

So it has begun, our life in Argentina. I look forward to telling you all about it.