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Monday, January 31, 2011

Who Spiked The Cookie?

By now the name Andrew Strugnell should be somewhat familiar to those of you who follow my blogs on a regular basis. He is the one that I lovingly refer to as "Andy Spandy" and frequently post his videos here on "Making the Same Difference". I am pleased to bring you Andrew's latest offering. This is a video he shot and directed at Amplify Youth Camp in Masterton.

It was shot shortly just before he left New Zealand to go on his 12 week adventure with Downunder Insurance, a round the world trip that he won as you can remember. If you can't remember me begging you to vote for Andrew then you might want to look into the possibility that you might suffer from serious memory loss!

Anyway, Andrew's adventure began on January 24th when he left New Zealand to head to his first stop, Lima Peru. That's where he is right now doing shooting. Here is the very first video in a series of videos he'll be making over the next 3 months....


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oro y Candido

American AlligatorImage by Pandiyan via Flickr

Oro y Candido, you must have thought that this must be a strange name for a blogpost. Oro y Candido is the name of a very......uh........unique eatery here in Buenos Aires. That is because instead of using regular meats, this restaurant specializes in using the meat of indigenous animals. I would love to go there with my camera and video camera an you can watch me dine on things like alligator empanadas and llama carpaccio.

And the good news is that you do have the opportunity to watch me eat away and weird and wild creatures, but it's going to involve a little participation. Remember the "Generosity Water" fundraiser that I am doing? I have decided to make a deal with see it costs $3000 to build a new well for a community that will supply water to 300 people for 20 years. I know that all of us are strapped for cash so my goal is $500.

BUT........if you exceed my expectations and somehow manage to raise $1500 (half of what it takes to build a new well) I will hop on a bus to Oro y Candido for a dining experience like none other. And not only do I promise to bring back pics & videos but I want to go further than that and let YOU my readers pick what you want me to eat.

If you click on the link to this blogpost, it will take you to the website of Oro y Candido where there is a menu. However, the website and the menu is completely in spanish. The good news is that in this day and age, where are all kinds of free translators available so you can cut and paste a phrase and find out what it is. You can also contact me with suggestions or if you want something translated.

My tummy is rumbling and my mouth is watering for the taste of frogs, rodents, llamas & alligators so I hope that someone comes up with $1500 soon...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Generosity Water

Mineral water being poured from a bottle into ...Image via Wikipedia

Matthew 25:35

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink..."

Recently one of the supermarkets here in Buenos Aires had a sale for the week where of you bought 2 2 liter bottles of water, you would get 25% off. I couldn't resist......that entire week every time I visited that supermarket I would purchase 2 2L bottles. I ended with like 7 2 liter bottles in my fridge. Water is already cheap without the sale and with the sale, I ended up paying a total of $1 CDN for 4 liters of water. It blows my mind that in this 3rd world country, a resource like water is so plentiful.

However, not all 3rd world countries have been so blessed to have access to water. To date, there are more than a billion people without access to clean drinking water. Little children have to walk miles everyday just to get to the nearest water source. As a result, they are unable to play, go to school, or have a normal childhood and thus the cycle of poverty continues.

As an influential blogger with a platform, I felt a responsibility before God and society to use my position to create awareness. I wanted to to promote a charity through my blogsite but I wanted to do it in a way that didn't make people feel manipulated when they come to this place. In other words, putting pictures and videos of starving children were out of the question!

To tell you the truth, it was a very frustrating process to find a way to create awareness in a way that would look positive and beautiful on this blogsite. Just when I feeling at total loss in my mission to find a charity to endorse and was ready to begin tearing my hair out, Generosity Water burst into the very forefront of my brain.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life in A Day

January 27, 2011 at 5pm PST is a date and time you will want to mark on your calendar. Why? Because that is when you'll be able to watch the world premiere of producer Ridley Scott's & director Kevin Macdonald's documentary "Life in a Day".

"Life in a Day" is a cinematic experience to document a single day on earth. On July 24, 2010, thousands of people took part in the experiment by filming an entire day in their lives and then submiting their footage. After 80,000 clips & more than 4500 hrs of footage, the 90 min documentary "Life in a Day" was born.

Wanna have some fun? Click on the link below to find yourself staring at a 3D sphere filled with footage submitted by participants from around the world. And to find out more about the project, click on the title of the blogpost to go to the official "Life in a Day" YouTube channel. You or I may not have been able to participate in the project by submitting footage but all of us will have the opportunity to be there when "Life in the Day" premieres live online.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

From Epilogue to Prologue....

My life experience has taught me that sometimes animals get brought into our lives to teach us lessons that sometimes we can't learn on our own. In 2007, I got to experience the joy of parenthood to an american lop-eared cross. This was one of those times where I believe that the bunny was meant to be part of my life for that time period. I had friends take care of the rabbit when I left for Argentina last September and continued to live with my friends after I came back.

As I was preparing for this trip early September, I got an email one day from my friend who told me that the landlords had decided that the bunny cannot stay in their home. In that situation when so much is going on, it would be easy to panic. But I calmed down and prayed because I knew that for every problem I had, God already had a solution. A friend suggested to me that I should call the SPCA to see if we could surrender him. They would take him, if they had room.

A couple days later, I called the SPCA and they said indeed they had room and we were able to surrender the rabbit. That was my first answer to prayer...I didn't need to worry any longer or be making calls begging for someone to the rabbit. But I still wanted the best for him...he's used to human contact and deserves a home. After I came back here, I would check the SPCA website daily to see if his profile was still there. Day after day his profile remained until one day towards the end of Oct his profile disappeared from the site. Meaning that he has been adopted and is in a loving home that can provide for him better than I ever could.

I praise God for taking care of pets that are important to me. But I have even greater reason to praise God when he takes care of people that are important to me, like Marisa. I could not be more thrilled when I received word that she is moving across the water to Uruguay for a couple of months. As I type these words, I can honestly say that winning the lottery could not make me happier than I already am to know that she is going to have a life change.

Let me explain, Marisa lives far out of Buenos Aires and only comes to the main city once a week to volunteer to do the cell group for the church. I go to the other branch of church located at the other end of the city. In other words, we never have any time to spend together. And when I first met her, I felt that her life was trapped in a routine of work, church, and family. There was nothing fresh in her world. This is why when I came into the picture, there was such a joy. My relationship with her infused something fresh into her world. This made it hard to leave her in BsAs, because my relationship did alot of good for her psychologically.

But her move to Uruguay, even for a few months is going to do her alot of good on many levels. she's going to change and grow and under different circumstances, we might actually have the chance to spend time together. Uruguay is just a boat ride away and we have a church plant in the city of Montevideo. Also living by the ocean, she is going to understand more about energy and connection and will be able to understand me in a greater capacity. This new step will enrich her and will breathe new life into everything in her world.

As she and I grow as friends, I realize that a big part of her happiness is making sure that I am happy. It is why she always wants me to be happy, she needs me be happy or she can't be totally happy. And it works vice versa, her happiness is a big part of my life. I almost feel as if I could write an article on this....maybe I will!

It has been incredibly witnessing not only how God takes care of me but how God takes care of the people and things that are important to me. God arranged for my rabbit to go to the SPCA and for Marisa to go to Uruguay. I want my fans to know that every blog I have every written about Marisa & I was not the epilogue but rather the prologue to all that we're going to experience as friends. What I thought was the main course was really the appetizer. The best blog about our friendship has still yet to be written.

I am due to go to Montevideo either at the last week of february or the first week of March. Already we are talking about looking into dates and spending time together. This is her first time living by the ocean and I've already told her that it will help her understand about energy and connection. And at long last I will get to do what I've dreamed of doing since our friendship began....sitting by the ocean and bonding together.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Votes Away!!!


That is the theme of the blog for today. For the past 3 years Lexiophiles has a competition involving the top 100 blogs about travel and living abroad. First it starts with a nomination phase where anyone can put up their blog for nomination. If the blog is eligible, it goes on a list of nominated blogs. From there is a voting phase to determine the top 100 blogs out of the list. And from those top 100 blogs, the top 3 will be chosen to receive a special award. After the voting phase is done, the top 3 blogs are announced and Lexiophiles will make a charitable donation in honor of that person. Not to mention that the nominated and the winning blogs will gain a tremendous amount of exposure.

I put my blog up for nomination the very day that I heard that they were accepting nominations. And it was on that same day within a few hours of nominating my blog that I received an email letting me know that "Making the Same Difference" was indeed eligible and will be included on the list of nominations. My heart began racing when I got the news.

But what is even more exciting is that the voting phase has just started and goes from January 17-26 to determine the top 100 blogs about travel & living abroad. On January 28th, the winners will be announced. This year the top 3 bloggers will get an "education package for children" from SOS children's villages sponsored by Lexiophiles. In other words, Lexiophiles will put together a special charitable donation in the names of the winners.

This is where you come in. If you've enjoyed coming to my site and you feel that my blog is worthy of being part of that list, then please do me a big favor and vote. I can't say that I wouldn't LOVE to win. But even more important to me is the exposure that this competition would give me. Already just for my blog to be on the nomination list will guarantee that I will have some new visitors to my site. And if my blogsite makes the top 100, that would bring a fantastic level of exposure. And if "Making the Same Difference" makes the top 3 and I get a charitable donation done in my name, I don't think that I would have any words to say because one doesn't tend to say much when you are passed out on the floor!

I just wanna say here that one of my biggest reasons for wanting to win isn't just exposure, it is about telling the world about the Argentine culture. When I sent the message to request my site to be nominated, I explained that I believe that this blog is unique in that it goes beyond telling about tourist attractions and begins to tell the story of the Argentine people. It is a culture that for the most part has been bypassed by the world.

For your convenience, I have placed a voting button on the bottom of this post & the top of the blogsite. As well, clicking on the title of this blogpost will take you directly to the voting page. Everyone of you who has discovered this site and kept up with my blogs has no doubt gained a greater understanding of the Argentine people. Now help me tell their story to the world....

 Vote the best IX11 blog

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spark & Ember

Two FirefoxesImage via Wikipedia

Having a blogsite that keeps gaining momentum has some wonderful perks but it can me tough to manage sometimes and try to stay on top of things. It has been a real growing experience learning to juggle my personal life, my public life, as well as not only maintain a blogsite but find new ways to promote it.

One of the things that I found that really help me deal with stress is the live webcam of these two baby fire-foxes named Spark & Ember that were born at the Knoxville zoo. It is neat to be able to be logged into the webcam because whenever I need a break I can just click a button and watch them nap, play, or feed. I'm on the internet alot because of my involvment with social media.

All the attention to my blogsite that I am receiving is wonderful but with more fame and attention comes more work to maintain that momentum. Spark & Amber are like my little companions that keep me company as I go about my day (you can go to the website with the live webcam of them just by clicking the title of the blogpost).

Song of Solomon 2:15

"Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom."

These firefoxes are just too cute. I'm really glad that these aren't real foxes, the ones that go about destroying plant and animal life in people's homes and vineyards. That is what the Bible means when it says "Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards..." This verse has both literal and symbolic meaning.

Symbolically it means to watch out for those little things that bring destruction to our lives, relationships, finances, dreams, visions and goals. My best example once again is to use my relationship with Marisa because it seem as if the fans out there like tuning into to this blogsite and wanting to hear more about us the same way they tune into a reality show on TV.

So what happened between us after I did my "Cross-Cultural Caring" series? Are we still going strong? Every good reality show needs a follow up! We didn't see each other for a long time and then we got connected through MSN messenger and had a great chat and got a chance to catch up. It was early in the morning and we chatting for about 25 mins. During those 25 mins I got a chance to get a feel of where our friendship was at. And I am thrilled to report that one year later, despite having to deal with two languages and two cultures, the connection in our friendship still feels fresh.

But achieving this level in our friendship wasn't easy at all. Especially in a cross-cultural relationship, there is opportunity in many different areas for misunderstanding or miscommunication to happen. It is important for me to keep plugging away and putting into practice every single one of the things I wrote in my series. I can't get lazy and neither can she. Once any of us starts to let things slide, that's when the little foxes start slinking in.

She and I have learned to nip things in the bud right away. Like a rose garden, we are constantly having to prune and oversee the state of our relationship and check in with each other. Actually, in the past little while after finishing the series, it is only then that I began to realize that our relationship is highly unlikely to deteriorate simply because she wants to make it work with me pretty badly.

Relationships don't deteriorate in one day, they deteriorate over time after years of putting off what people should have taken care of right away. I will never have that problem with her, instead I have the opposite problem that she gets anxious about stuff sometimes. Marisa tends to get really anxious if she even has the slightest notion that there is a breach in the connection between us she won't hesitate to leap on it and try and fix it ASAP. But she is learning to relax and I'm letting her know that there is plenty of room for bumps in the road. We aren't going to lose our friendship all of a sudden just because there are some days where we don't have smooth sailing :)

My hope & pray for you in this new year is that your "vineyard" will bear much fruit and the only little foxes that you will see will be the ones on a live webcam.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

"The Secret" to Spare Rooms

It's pretty interesting to see how the teaching of "The Secret" plays out in my daily life and who exactly comes across my path. It's no surprise to me when I people come into my world who are just like me. Full of ambition, passionate about what they do, and cares deeply about their clients as I do about my fans and readers. Someone like Valeria Pasmanter of Spare Rooms BA.

In North America, retail staff are trained to be friendly and personable. But here in Buenos Aires, the idea of good customer service hasn't quite caught up. Maybe odd cashier might smile at you but in general, the staff are only thinking about getting their paycheque and going home. Which is why a company like Spare Rooms BA is like an oasis in the middle of a desert.

When you visit this blogsite, for the most part I think that the experience is suave. It is like walking into a 5 star hotel where everything is taken care of ahead of time. There is good organization so that you don't have to think about a thing. That's just the way Spare Rooms is. My blog, Spare Rooms, and a 5 star hotel have one thing in common.......DETAILS! That is the secret to success. Everything boils down to details...details...and more details.

Everything is thought of ahead of times so you don't have to think about anything except what you came here for. And I realized that it is really important for me to help my fans out there know what companies offer exceptional customer service. Spanish schools like Vamos Spanish Academy. It is the reason why there is a place for their blogs on my website.  Every company that you see featured on my blogsite has been hand-selected.

I got to have a first hand encounter with Valeria at a coffee shop in Palermo. Within just minutes of meeting her, I could already tell that she was someone just like me when it comes to running her business. The law of attraction had worked once again and I found myself with someone who had very similar qualities. Like me she enjoys success but she knows that she doesn't just park and revel there. She has to keep doing what she is doing and improving her business.

That afternoon at the coffee shop really gave me the chance to see more of who she was. Val is like me, she is one who is extremely thoughtful and considerate when it comes to her clients. Her business is on her mind alot and like me, she is constantly thinking about what else she could possibly do to create a superior experience for everyone who will ever deal with Spare Rooms BA. Alot of people would love to be able to say that "I'm an entrepreneur." Many people love the title and being called an entrepreneur. But for Val, being an entrepreneur is simply something she lives and breathes.....

Spare Rooms BA


Monday, January 10, 2011

"The Secret"

I cannot believe that I found this video! Many of you know that the teaching of "The Secret" got released a few years ago. What's even better is that the company authorized the first 20 mins of this video to be published on YouTube as a gift. Enjoy discovering "The Secret" :)

Proverbs 23:7 (Amplified Bible)

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Top 10 of 2010

Here at "Making the Same Difference", I'm kicking off the new year by finally revealing my top 10 most read blogs of 2010. VOILA!!! Here are 2010's best of the best....

1. Cross-Cultural Caring: Listen Up!
2. free spanish lessons
3. Little Drummer Girl
4. trucos para aprender inglés
5. Cross-Cultural Caring: One Size Does NOT Fit All
6. Andy Spandy is Worthy
7. Uncut...Uncensored...Unrated
8. Cross-Cultural Caring: Clash of the Cultures
9. Andy Spandy's Journey
10. Cross-Cultural Caring: So You Think You Can Love

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Andy Spandy Hits "The Windy City"

Andy Spandy's adventure exploring "The Windy City"


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Murga Madness

As beautiful as Buenos Aires may seem, it is a little hard to believe that it once served as a slave capital. African slaves were brought to Buenos Aires and with them, their distinctive rhythm. Today, the slaves may be gone but the beat of Murga still resounds through the air day and nite without end.

Murga consists a set of both musicians and dancers. Drawing from it's African roots, the instruments used in Murga are drums and percussionist type instruments. During neighbourhood events or cultural gatherings, Murga dancers come with a mission and a message. There is a very distinctive set that is played that lasts about 45 mins. The beauty and mystery of this dance is that depending on how it is done, along with the combination of the music, the dance can seem unrehearsed. It is and it isn't. Murga dancers do practice and rehearse very well and thus when it is performed in public, it looks polished & suave yet somehow spontaneous at the same time.

The barrio and the event that the Murga set is being done in greatly influences and affects the style of Murga, it's message and it's purpose. One can travel from one end of Buenos Aires and see an example of Murga and hop to another barrio and see another example of Murga and it would be worlds apart. A great example of this is the trailer of a documentary done by filmmaker Alison Murray about the Caprichosos of San Telmo. The style of Murga there reflects the barrio of San Telmo, it's history, culture, distinctive flavor as well as the message of that particular Murga to the people.

There are modern day uses for Murga as well. I shot a video of Murga being used to promote "Rock & Vida", a rock concert to promote the awareness of AIDS. You can view the video simply by clicking the title of this blogpost. It will take you straight to my video on YouTube. As you can see from both videos, the look and feel of Murga diversifies tremendously depending on the purpose it is being used for. But no matter what flavor it comes in, Murga always comes with a mission and a message....

Carlos Boeri and Alison Murray

Monday, January 03, 2011

Un-thinkable (I'm Ready)

Happy New Year!!!

If you had one adjective to describe your New Years resolutions, what would it be? enjoyable? inspirational? impossible? LOL How about "unthinkable"?  Which also happens to also be the title of Alicia Key's latest video "Unthinkable" (I'm Ready).  The video shows two people who have fallen in love but are caught between a rock and a hard place as the music video is set during a time period where inter-racial relationships are forbidden.

I find this video and the message to be an inspiring New Years resolution for this year 2011 to try and raise the bar and do what previously was thought to be "unthinkable". I have no doubt in my mind that this is already Lady Gaga's new years resolutions and she's already come up with some wacky plan on how she's gonna execute it!  And I'm imagining that when she does, it's a guarantee that there will be plenty of press and media people to make it a kodak moment :O

Let's make 2011 a year where we challenge ourselves to do not just the "believeable" or "commendable" or even the "unforgettable". But let's make this a year where we push the buck and do the "un-thinkable"! I'm ready....

Swizz Beatz Presents "Monster Mondays"


Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas