Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey day in Buenos Aires

I've found living abroad that I just skip most US only holidays. There always seems to be the regular hoopla over New Years, Christmas, Easter, where you can feel the festivities in the air here. Then there are all the Argentine holidays which seem to be every other week. So I give myself a break and skip the rest. But holidays that you equate with food, like the Fourth of July bbq and turkey for Thanksgiving are tough to shake. Even if that Fourth of July bbq is in the middle of the Argentine winter and this year's Thanksgiving day forecast is for 90 degrees.

To tell you the truth, if I am back home we typically forego the Turkey all together and go for a killer roast beef that my mom does with all the trimmings. But this year with the amount of cow I have consumed, I have to admit I have a hankering for a hunk of Turkey.

Turkey is not easy to find here. The only sliced deli turkey I have found was at Coto and Carrefour. And it was not cheap. Judging by the number of Thanksgiving dinner events being held in the city this year, Turkey looks to be top of mind for a lot of other estadounidense as well. So if you don't want to do it all yourself, here is a list of those that I've found or have heard rumors about, but have not been able to independently confirm:

*American Club
Thanksgiving Lunch

Expat Connection
El Estanciero
Báez 202
3:30pm - 6:30pm

Casa Bar
Rodriguez Peña and Santa Fe
3pm- 8pm

Av. Libertador 4625

Uruguay and Santa Fe

*rumor, not confirmed

Can you confirm any of these or add to the list? If not, where are you going to get your turkey fix from?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Geeking out

A MacArthur Foundation report, "Living and Learning with New Media", was recently highlighted in the New York times article, "Teenagers' internet socializing not a bad thing".

The report's findings? Kids are learning valuable technological and social skills as new media is interwoven into their lives. So a note to all parents: all that time on Facebook and MySpace is not just a waste of time! The report broke down their social media motivations into categories such as "friendship driven", "interest driven" and culminated in "geeking out" where "Youth turn instead to specialized knowledge groups of both teens and adults from around the country or world, with the goal of improving their craft and gaining reputation among expert peers."

What does this suggest for online tutoring?

Traditional online tutoring, as it exists today, reflects the top-down hierarchy of tutoring offline. It works because it fills a need for students who must navigate the one size fits all classroom based on state standards and topped off with standardized tests.

The report suggests there is a potential role in education for "Networked Publics"(participation in public culture that is supported by online networks), and peer-based learning. The study says, “New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting. Youth respect one another’s authority online, and they are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults.” Online tutoring companies are well positioned to facilitate peer-to-peer based tutoring, but I wouldn't look to the big online tutoring companies to blaze any trails. Luckily for them, the one-size fits all school system is not apt to change very soon.

What are your thoughts on peer-to-peer learning?

Monday, November 17, 2008

US education: dying on the vine?

Ex-secretary of labor Robert Reich was asked what the top 3 priorities for the Obama administration will be. His answer; "The economy, the economy and the economy." Coming from an ex-secretary of labor, these answers make sense. However, if it were not for imploding economy, education would also be competing for attention with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Energy, Healthcare reform, oh and did I mention the economy?

Education, however, is not a stand alone issue. Read New York Times Op Ed columnist, Nicholas Kristof's thoughtful article, "Obama and our Schools". Education has a major impact on poverty. Listen to NPR's On Point and their show on "American Competitiveness" with Harvard Business School Guru Michael Porter, and understand how our long-term competitiveness as a nation depends on our educational system.
Is this a crisis? Yes it is. The problem with this crisis is that it is decades in the making and won't go away in the short-term just by throwing billions of dollars at it like Wall Street, Fannie & Freddie, AIG, and next our auto industry.

Porter makes reference several times to OECD data. Want to see the cold hard facts? Download the powerpoint on the United States and you can see clearly how there is a disconnect between US student aspirations, what the US spends on education and our overall student achievement and graduation rates. Listen to this OECD podcast to get a nice overview of the trends and impacts of education, not just in the US, but in all OECD countries.

Education is our edge against global competition. Now it looks like we are going to use this now rusty edge not to commit a quick, news worthy hari-kiri like Wall Street, but to die slowly and silently of gangrene unless we make some tough structural changes to our educational system. A system that needs to improve the prospects of the fastest growing segments of our population; the poor and minorities.

What are your thoughts on the US education system?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

To-Go Cup coffee. Will it travel?

Earlier this year I blogged about the opening of Starbucks and wondered how this global giant might adapt to the no to-go cup, Argentine coffee drinking culture. Well one local competitor, Havanna, is not waiting around to find out.

I spied a billboard in Microcentro advertising a new local that specializes in only coffee to-go.

We happened by the place so I took a couple photos. As you can see, it's like a little coffee kiosk. Open air, no seats and the infamous paper cups are prominently on display.

The location makes sense. It's one block from the Marriot at the head of a large pedestrian shopping gauntlet, Calle Florida, which is always full of tourists and locals shopping.

I don't get down this way very often any more, so I have no idea how long it's been there. One thing I didn't see though..was a line. Or even any customers. The two guys working the counter were keeping themselves busy cleaning.

After taking our photos, we walked half a block more to a classic/traditional coffee house and had a wonderful expresso, that came with a side of soda water and cookies. Let's see if Havanna's new offering sticks.

Have you seen any other to-go cup coffee around the city?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Start-Ups Buenos Aires keeps growing

Start-Ups Buenos Aires continues to grow. We now have 120 members in our facebook group and our mailing list continues to expand.

The Start-Ups Buenos Aires After Office is also proving to be a hit. We had a lot of new faces with the 70+ people who came.

It was great to see new business connections, new contacts and new friends form in front of my eyes. I'm especially excited to see we are getting more Argentines into the act. I didn't realize that networking like this is not a part of the Argentine culture. One Argentine actually asked me what he should do. I told him just to walk up to anyone, introduce yourself and then you are off to the races. Next thing I know, he was working the room like a pro! Great stuff.

We got a lot of nice feedback about the venue Carnal. As you can see the terrace with the Spring weather was phenomenal.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have seen a report about a Cesar Salad that reared it's ugly head. Check out Gina's blog post about our event and this sighting. Please be warned about Cesar salads, not only at Carnal, but in BA in general.

December will be our last After Office for 2008. Join the Start-Ups Buenos Aires facebook group for announcements on the time and place or drop me an email and I'll add you to our mailing list.



Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Start-Ups..Buenos Aires After Office 2 @ Carnal, Wed Nov 12 from 7pm-10pm

I'm back from Salta just in time for our 2nd After office. This time we are at CARNAL on Niceto Vega 5511 from WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12 from 19:00-22:00.

Big thanks to Eric Northam for setting us up there. At this moment we have over 100 people in the confirmed or maybe category, so I'm expecting a good crowd. Remember, we highly encourage you to bring all your friends who have or are interested in StartUps, especially your local Argentine friends so we can have a good mix of perspectives, opinions and more opportunities to make valuable connections.

Look forward to seeing you all there!