About 6 months ago we acquired another bike, an old Bianchi flat bar road bike. It cost us $100 (in the U.S. would be about 50), and it is the bike of choice over the horrible Lahsen mountain bikes, one of which is simply used for spare parts. The spare parts came in handy today for replacing the rear brake cable on the Bianchi. We have ridden a total distance of at least 500 miles on the Bianchi since we got it, so it has paid off.

As I write, Marathon and Doodle are at a park (it just opened up after cleanup from the "Dieciochera") near our condominium, to see if Doodle can ride our full-size Lahsen mountain bike. He just turned 9, and I 16.

We have a fully carpeted apartment and use a "carpetsweeper" to clean it every other day. The amount of junk it picks up in amazing. It has a tendency for the wheels to come off, and when it gets full, debris and hair will fall back onto the carpet. It's as good as a vacuum for everything except for the cracks -- on our carpet, that is. It isn't thick. Supposedly it was "cleaned" right before we moved in, but it still had stains and such.

Doodle and I are practicing the recorder, and we like to pick a song, learn it, and then make it a two-part harmony, even if it wasn't written to be played like that. He can't play well by ear, but picks it up quickly from sheet music. I can reproduce most songs on the first try after I learn it by ear, but I can't read sheet music.

Doodle and Cordi are big into the "Magic Tree House" book series, reading it whenever they get the chance. They read on the Kindle by the way. Yes, the Kindle has been great. It holds more books than you will ever need to put on it, has a very long-lasting battery, and with the vast selection of free Kindle books at Amazon, for $70 it's a bargain. We almost got a second one.

I love Google Maps. The amount of work that Google put into the street view is phenomenal. If you want to get to know a part of the world without any expense but time and electricity, street view is it, hands down. The amount of knowledge they have amassed is amazing, too. If I want to know which bus stop to get off at, I use Google Maps. If I want to know exactly how the border runs between Recoleta and Providencia, I use Google Maps. Google Maps is so great.... let's finish with some screen caps from street view around Santiago.

La Dehesa-- The richest part of town.

La Pintana-- The poorest part of town

La Vega-- The massive market for super-cheap trinkets and (mostly) food.

Typically the outskirts of Santiago look like this: Tightly packed subdivision meets middle of nowhere.

Camino a Farellones-- The epic switchbacks on the road up into the Andes.