Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clean Water Gadget

Have you ever been traveling in a foreign country and been afraid to drink the water? I have. Especially when the guidebook says, "Tap water in [country] is not safe to drink." But then the locals say they all drink the tap water, and you're not really sure what is safe and who to trust. When I was in South Africa recently, I kept hearing things like, "Well, you CAN drink the water here ... but I don't."

That's what's happening to me now, as I'm working and traveling through Belize. Before I left, I bought this little gadget that I really want to write about, because it's so useful, and (hopefully!) effective, especially when you are traveling for long periods of time and don't want to be constantly buying expensive bottled water. It's called the Steripen. It's a small, battery powered (CR123) handheld device that emits an Ultraviolet light that is effective against bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (like that pesky Giardia).

So what I've been doing, just to be safe, is filling my Nalgene bottles (yes, I have the new BPA-free ones!) with tap water, zapping them with the Steripen (1L takes less than 2 minutes) and I can drink all the water I want, instantly, and worry-free! The Nalgene bottles are nice to use with this Steripen because you need a nice wide-mouth bottle.

The Steripen has a light on it that blinks green if your purification has worked properly, red if it hasn't. I've used it about 10 times so far and only had one red light incident. (I think I may have pulled it partly out of the water while using it. Got the green light on the 2nd try.) Although I tend to prefer fail-safe products that can't break (or run out of batteries), this thing is really useful. You can always carry water purification tablets with you as a fail-safe back-up if you are backpacking or camping. The nice thing about the Steripen is that you don't have to wait 4 hours to drink your water.

Here's a video of it in action in Belize:

How To Find A Fisherman

I'm working on a 2-month long research project in Belize right now, doing what is called an "ethnography" of the Sarteneja fishing community in Northern Belize. I'm looking at the impacts, if any, that the establishment of two marine managed areas (Gladden Spit Marine Reserve and Laughing Bird Caye National Park) have had on this particular community. To do this, I must find and interview the fishermen from this community to see what I can piece together about how their community has changed over the last 10-20 years and what factors have caused those changes.

So the first thing people ask me is, "How do you know who the fishermen are?" I mean, they are not always standing next to their boat with a fish in their hand.

So I just look for the guys wearing these shirts:

Translation: "I am a fisherman."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A New Moretti

On May 14th, 2008, shortly before midnight, a new Moretti joined the family.

My brother Mark and his wife Carolina.

Welcome, Mr. Lucas John Moretti!

As his proud Godfather (Gulp!), I thought I'd share some pictures:
(Click them to enlarge to original size)

A Baby Lucas foot at 0 days old.

An emotional mom and baby.

It's pretty rough having been in a nice dark, warm environment for so long and then getting thrown into the lights and all these people making a fuss over you

Here's the little guy blinking his eyes open for the first time, with the whole family looking on: He's thinking, "Oh no! Not THIS family!!"

Here's Lucas getting weighed in (7lbs 8 oz):

Lucas getting handed over to mom for the first time. Everyone's laughing at his pouty lips:

Grandma (and Aunt Julie) with Lucas.

A couple of crazy Uncles.


Lucas, Abuela, and Grandma.

Grandpa, Dad, and Abuelo.

A family tradition that we've been doing (and arguing over!) for years is the coveted "You Are Special Today" plate. Let's just say that you've got to do something really significant to earn the right to eat off this plate at Sunday night dinner. (I had to ride my bike 600 miles across Africa to get it!) Lucas now holds the record for the youngest family member to earn the plate (4 days old). We figured "being born" was enough to qualify him for the distinction. He'll have to try a little harder the next time he gets it, though.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bottling Time at Mark Moretti Winery

Today I went up to San Francisco to help my brother with the bottling of the Mark Moretti Winery 2005 Pinot Noir.

We each had a sample glass of it and let me say this is going to be one tasty Pinot, especially after a few months in the bottle. It has a really nice full palate and smooth oakey flavor. The dense color adds to the small-batch handcrafted qualities of this wine, in my personal opinion. (Look at me and all my fancy newly acquired wine lingo!)

This was my second visit to the Winery, since I've been so far away from home for so long.

Here is the wine going into the clean bottles after the inert Argon gas has been pumped into the bottles to remove any oxygen. After the wine goes in, carbon dioxide is "shot" onto the surface of the wine before it is corked. You can see Mark in the background casing up the finished product. (I guess wasn't being very productive when I shot these photos and videos...)

This is the label machine:

And this is a shot of the bottles getting labeled, coming off the assembly line, and getting double checked before getting boxed up and stored away until they get shipped off to a happy customer:

I packed up this whole case myself: