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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor, Senior IT Architect and Event Content Manager for [IBM Systems for IBM Systems Technical University] events. With over 30 years with IBM Systems, Tony is frequent traveler, speaking to clients at events throughout the world.
Lloyd Dean is an IBM Senior Certified Executive IT Architect in Infrastructure Architecture. Lloyd has held numerous senior technical roles at IBM during his 19 plus years at IBM. Lloyd most recently has been leading efforts across the Communication/CSI Market as a senior Storage Solution Architect/CTS covering the Kansas City territory. In prior years Lloyd supported the industry accounts as a Storage Solution architect and prior to that as a Storage Software Solutions specialist during his time in the ATS organization.
Lloyd currently supports North America storage sales teams in his Storage Software Solution Architecture SME role in the Washington Systems Center team. His current focus is with IBM Cloud Private and he will be delivering and supporting sessions at Think2019, and Storage Technical University on the Value of IBM storage in this high value IBM solution a part of the IBM Cloud strategy. Lloyd maintains a Subject Matter Expert status across the IBM Spectrum Storage Software solutions. You can follow Lloyd on Twitter @ldean0558 and LinkedIn Lloyd Dean.
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Forrester analysts kicked off the keynote sessions for Day 1 of the Forrester IT Forum 2009 event. The theme for this conference is "Redefining IT's value to the Enterprise."Rather than focusing on blue-sky futures that are decades away, Forrester wants to present instead a blend of pragmatic informationthat is actionable now in the next 90 days along with some forward-looking trends.
If you ask CEOs how well their IT operations are doing, 75 percent will saythey are doing great. However, if you dig down, and ask how their companies are leveraging IT to help generate revenues, reduce costs, improve employee morale, drive profits, improve customer service, or manage risks, then the percentage drops down to 30 to 35 percent.
What are the root causes of this "perception gap" in value between business and IT? Several ideas come to mind:
Some CEOs still consider IT departments as "cost centers". Rather than exploiting technology to help drive the rest of the business, they are seen as a necessary evil, an extension of the accounting department, for example.
Some CEOs consider IT's role as basically "keeping the lights on". They only notice IT when the lights go out, or other business outages caused by disruptions in IT.
IT departments measure themselves in technology terms, not business terms. CEOs and the rest of the senior management team may not be "tech savvy", and the CIO and IT directors may not be "business savvy", resulting in failure to communicate IT's role and value to the rest of the business.
This conference is focused on CIOs and IT professionals, and how they can bridge the tech/business gap. The first two executive keynote presentations emphasized this point.
Bob Moffat, Senior VP and Group Executive, IBM
Bob Moffat (my fifth-line manager, or if you prefer, my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss) is the Senior VP and Group Executive of IBM's Systems and Technology Group that manufactures storage and other hardware. He presented how IBM is helping our clients deploy smarter solutions. Globalization has changed world business markets, has changed the reach of information technology, and has changed our client's needs.To support that, IBM is focused on making the world a smarter planet, instrumented with appropriate sensors, interconnected over converging networks, and intelligent to provide visibility, control and automation.
It's time to rethink IT in light of these new developments, to think about IT in client terms, with business metrics. Bob gave several internal and customer examples, here's one from the City of Stockholm:
Covering nine square miles of Stockholm Sweden, IBM led [the largest project of its kind] for traffic congestion in Europe. To reduce congestion caused by 300,000 vehicles, the City of Stockhold enacted a "congestion fee" with real-time recognition of license plates and a Web infrastructure to collect payments. The analytics, metrics and incentives have paid off. Since August 2007, traffic is reduced 18 percent, a reduction of travel time on inner streets, and a 9 percent increase in "green" vehicles.
In addition to smarter traffic, IBM has initiatives for smarter water, smarter energy, smarterhealthcare, smarter supply chain, and smarter food supply.
Dave Barnes, Senior VP and CIO, United Postal Service (UPS)
Dave Barnes must act as the "trusted advisor" to the rest of the senior management team. UPS delivers packages worldwide. They put sensors on all of the vehicles, not just to know how fast they were driving,but also how often they drove in reverse gear, and sensors on the engines to determine maintenance schedules.Analytics found that driving in reverse was the most dangerous, and by providing this information to the drivers themselves, the drivers were able to come up with their own innovative ways to minimize accidents.This is one role of IT, to provide employees the information they need to enable them to be better at their own jobs.
Dave also mentioned the importance of collaborating across business units. Their "Information Technology Steering Committee (ITSC)" has 15 members, of which only three are from the IT department. This helped deploy social media initiatives within UPS. For example, Twitter has been adopted so that senior management can get unfiltered customer feedback. This is perhaps another key role of IT, to flatten an organization from cultural hierarchies that prevent top brass up in the ivory tower from hearing what is going wrong down on the street. Too often, a customer or client complains to the nearest employee, and this may or may not get passed up accurately along the chain of command. Twitter allowed executives to see what was going on for themselves.
Dave also covered the "Best Neighbor" approach. If you were going to build a deck in your back yard, you might ask your neighbors that have already done this, and learn from their experience. Sadly, this does not happen enough in IT. To address this, UPS has a "Tech Governance Group" that focused on business process across the organization. For example, they improved "package flow", reducing 100 million miles in the past few years.
Lastly, he mentioned that many technologists are "loners". They have a few like that, but try to hire techies who look to team across business units instead. Likewise, they try to hire business people who are somewhat tech savvy. For example, they have encouraged business employees to write their own reports, rather than requesting new reports to be developed by the IT department. The end result, the business people get exactly the reports they want, faster than waiting for IT to do it. Another role for IT is to provide end-users the tools to make their own reports.
(Dave didn't mention what tools these were, but it sounded like the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools [BIRT] that IBM uses.)
These two sessions were a great one-two punch to the audience of 600 CIOs and IT professionals. First, IBM sets the groundwork for what needs to be done. Then, UPS shows how they did exactly that, adopting a dynamic infrastructure and got great results. This is going to be an interesting week!
Well, I have arrived safely in Las Vegas, and the [Forrester IT Forum 2009 conference] started today at noon, with a Welcome Reception at the Technology Showcase. As a platinum sponsor, IBM has a booth manned by several subject matter experts, on the fourth floor of the Sands Expo, between the Venetian and Palazzo hotels.
On the left side, we have Paula Koziol and our [Kaon Interactive] 3D touch-screen.
On the right side, we have Ira Chavis and Cris Espinosa, and a rack of some of IBM's latest offerings.
I'm here all week to blog about this event. When I am not in sessions, I will probably hang out at the Technology Showcase with my colleagues above. If you are in Las Vegas, and want to connect, please contact me.
Recently, IBM and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) [launched an effort] using IBM's World Community Grid "virtual supercomputer" to allow laboratory tests on drug candidates for drug-resistant influenza strains and new strains, such as H1N1 (aka "swineflu"), in less than a month.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch will use [World Community Grid] to identify the chemical compounds most likely to stop the spread of the influenza viruses and begin testing these under laboratory conditions. The computational work adds up to thousands of years of computer time which will be compressed into just months using World Community Grid. As many as 10 percent of the drug candidates identified by calculations on World Community Grid are likely to show antiviral activity in the laboratory and move to further testing.
According to the researchers, without access to World Community Grid's virtual super computing power, the search for drug candidates would take a prohibitive amount of time and laboratory testing.
This reminded me of an 18-minute video of Larry Brilliant at the 2006 Technology, Entertainment and Design [TED] conference. Back in 2006, Larry predicted a pandemic in the next three years, and here it is 2009 and we have the H1N1 virus.
His argument was to have "early detection" and "early response" to contain worldwide diseases like this.
A few months after Larry's "call to action" in 2006, IBM and over twenty major worldwide public health institutions, including the World Health Organization [WHO] and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], [announced the Global Pandemic Initiative], a collaborative effort to help stem the spread of infectious diseases.
One might think that with our proximity to Mexico that the first cases would have been the border states, such as Arizona, but instead there were cases as far away as New York and Florida. The NYT explains in an article [Predicting Flu With the Aid of (George) Washington] that two rival universities, Northwestern University and Indiana University, both predicted that there would be about 2500 cases in the United States, based on air traffic control flight patterns, and the tracking data from a Web site called ["Where's George"] which tracks the movement of US dollar bills stamped with the Web site URL.
The estimates were fairly close. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [H1N1 Flu virus tracking page], there are currently 3009 cases of H1N1 in 45 states, as of this writing.
This is just another example on how an information infrastructure, used properly to provide insight, make predictions, and analyze potential cures, can help the world be a smarter planet. Fortunately, IBM is leading the way.
Wrapping up this week's theme on Cloud Computing, I finish with an IBM announcement for two new products to help clients build private cloud environments from their existing Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) deployments.
IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance -- a new hardware appliance that provides access to software virtual images and patterns that can be used as is or easily customized, and then securely deployed, managed and maintained in a private cloud.
IBM WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition -- a version of IBM WebSphere Application Server software optimized to run in a virtualized hardware server environments such as VMware, and comes preloaded in WebSphere Cloudburst.
With more than 7,000 customer implementations worldwide, IBM is the SOA market leader. Of course, both of these products above can be used with IBM System Storage solutions, including Cloud-Optimized Storage offerings like Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS), Grid Access Manager software, Scale-Out File Services (SoFS), and the IBM XIV disk system.
IBM is part of the "Cloud Computing 5" major vendors pushing the envelope (the other four are Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo). In fact, IBM has a number of initiatives that allow customers to leverage IBM software in a cloud. IBM is working in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. to make IBM software available in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). WebSphere sMash, Informix Dynamic Server, DB2, and WebSphere Portal with Lotus Web Content Management Standard Edition are available today through a "pay as you go" model for both development and production instances. In addition to those products, IBM is also announcing the availability of IBM Mashup Center and Lotus Forms Turbo for development and test use in Amazon EC2, and intends to add WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere eXtreme Scale to these offerings.
For more about IBM's leadership in Cloud Computing, see the IBM [Press Release].
It's Tuesday, which means IBM announcements, and today IBM made some major announcementsthat support a [Dynamic Infrastructure]! I hinted at this yesterday, choosing the week's theme to be all about Cloud Computing and Alternative Sourcing. I will briefly highlight today's announcements related to storage here, and try to go into more detail over the next few weeks.
Ethernet switches and routers
In support of Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage, IBM is now back in theEthernet networking business. This is part of storage as protocols likeiSCSI, CIFS and NFS are gaining prominence. Extending IBM's existing OEMrelationship with Brocade, there are four series:
[c-series] - "c" for Compact, these are 1U high fixed port switches
[g-series] - "g" for Pay-as-you-Grow using IronStack stacking technology to allow up to 8 switches to be glommed, glued, er.. "gathered" together as a single virtual chassis.
[m-series] - "m" for Multiprotocol Label Switching [MPLS] which supports routing between LAN and WAN networks over OC12 and OC48 lines.
[s-series] - "s" for slots, the B08S has eight slots, and the B16S has sixteen slots, supporting up to 384 ports. These models support Power-over-Ethernet [PoE] that simplifies attaching Voice-over-IP (VoIP) telephones and IP-based surveillance cameras.
IBM announced it will strengthen its partnership with Juniper Networks, and continues to consider Cisco a strategic partner as well. To help customer position themselves for Cloud Computing and Cloud Storage,IBM also launches some new services:
The IBM [DS5000] now supports self-encrypting disk drives, known also as "full-disk encryption" or FDE, for added security, and 8Gbps Fibre Channel (FC) ports for added performance. The DS5300 model in particular now supports up to 448 disk drives for added scalability.
Comprehensive Data Protection Solution
IBM's [Data Protection Solution] shows off IBM's awesome synergy between servers, storage and software. Combining System x servers, Tivoli Storage Manager FastBack software, and DS5000, DS4000 or DS3000 series disk systems. The solution is designed to both Windows-based servers and their applications, offering bare metal restores, and application–level protection for Oracle, SQL, Exchange and SAP.
Tivoli Storage Productivity Center
Last February, IBM previewed the renaming of TotalStorage Productivity Center to its new name,Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Today, IBM announces [Tivoli Storage Productivity Center v4.1]. Some key changes include:
Productivity Center for Fabric has been merged into Productivity Center for Disk
Productivity Center for Replication is now integrated, but remains separately licensed
Productivity Center can now feed input to IBM's Novus Storage Enterprise Resource Planner [SERP]
TS7650 ProtecTIER Data Deduplication IP-based replication
IBM previews IP-based replication which allows the TS7650 appliance or TS7650G gateway to sendvirtual tape data over to a remote location. This is instead of having the underlying disk systemsperform the replication on its behalf. Having the TS7650 do the replication is preferred, as itcan maintain virtual cartridge integrity, when a virtual tape is unmounted the replication can beginat that point.
This week's theme is alternative sourcing through Cloud Computing.
I thoughtI would start off the week interviewing an owner at a Small or Medium-sized Business [SMB] that recently adopted this approach.
Meet Fred, one of the new co-owners of my singles activities club, TucsonFun and Adventures, known affectionately as [TFA]. TFA recentlyadopted a new "Software-as-a-Service" [SaaS] for the company's Web site.
While the experience is still fresh in his mind, I thought this would be a goodopportunity to illustrate some of the concepts of alternative sourcing through Cloud Computing byusing a local example.
Give me some background on the company. How long has it been around? How many employees?
TFA has been in business since 1997, and has six employees, including an office manager, event planners and event coordinators.
How critical is "Web presence" to the business?
It's very important in several ways.First, the TFA staff plans 25 events per month, and our hundreds of members register for these events mostly through the Web site. Second, we have it connected to our bank accounts, so that it can process credit cards to collect the funds for renewals and event registrations.Third, it serves as a way to communicate upcoming events to our members, especially trips, so they can save the date on their own calendars. And fourth, the Web site serves as a "landing page"for all of our radio spots, newspaper ads, and other marketing efforts.
TFA had a Web site before, and now you have helped launch this new Web site. What motivated this change?
Our members were complaining about our 1999-era Web site. The pages were written in HTML, ASP (Active Service Page) and SQL (Structured Query Language) connected to a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database. It was mostly text-based, with the only animation being text scrolling horizontally across the screen. The Web hostingprovider offered reliable access, but was located in New York state on East Coast time. If a member signed up for an event after 9pm or 10pm here in Tucson, it was marked as the next date, which could change the price of the event, or indicate the deadline was missed.If there were any changes to the pages or logic needed, or new columns required in the database, it gotexpensive. The TFA employees don't know how to program in ASP or SQL, so we hadto hire outside professionals each time.
Does this new Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Web site address these problems you were trying to solve?
Yes. The new Web site is hosted by [Memberize] which provides a hosted membership management application. The TFA staff can nowmanage its membership, plan events, and communicate them with graphics, videos,and links to maps. They don't need to know ASP or SQL programming, because a built-in[WYSIWYG] editor is simple enough for anyone with standard word-processing skills. The database allowed the optionto add customized fields for each member we have in our club.
Was it difficult to switch over?
Not at all. Memberize gave us a 60-day free trial, and we needed all that time totransfer over our membership records, customize the style of the overall templatefor all pages, and then copy over the content from our old Web site. Wehad to transfer over our e-commerce service over, and contact GoDaddy to transfer the domain. The employee training required was fairly minimal.Cost-wise, it was only a few hundred dollars one-time setup fee, and then we pay a monthly fee,based on a tiered pricing structure based on the count of our active members.
How has the reaction been from your membership?
I've gotten a lot of positive feedback. The learning curve was minimal. Ourmembers found the new Web site intuitive and interactive. For example, thecalendar of events can be shown in a single month-at-a-glance format, with greendots showing the events you are signed up for.
And from your perspective, Fred, is the new Web site easy to administer?
Yes, I can now easily generate standard reports, and create my own ad-hoc reports as needed. This wasn't possible with the old system unless I hired an ASP programmer.
Hopefully, this provides some insight on how even the smallest SMB enterprises can adopt a Dynamic Infrastructure through alternative sourcing. Cloud Computing takes many forms, including Software-as-a-Service managed offerings.
A fat boss and his thin female employee stand at the shore.
"Ms. Benakis, I don't want to forget the emotion of the vastness of the ocean. Draft amemo regarding this for me to sign next Monday."
-- "Yes, Mr. Morton"
"And date it as today."
-- "Yes, Mr. Morton"
On the flight home, I met Chris, a software engineer working for a small 60-person outsourcing firm in Costa Rica. He was from Vancouver, Canada but now lives in Costa Rica to avoid dealing with snow. He flies back to Canada several times per year to visit his friends and family.The irony is not lost on me that most of the tourists I met this week flew hundreds or thousands of miles to get here. The Freakonomics blog post [Did Celebrating Earth Day Make You Pollute More?] points to David Disalvo's article [Riding the Self-Regulation See Saw] and Ryan Sager'sarticle [The Al Gore’s Giant Fraggin’ Mansion Effect]. Both of these analyze environmentally moral behaviour.
The real question is whether the Earth Day lessons we learned this week from Costa Rica can apply to countries like the United States that aren't entirely focused on agriculture and tourism. Perhaps so, as Costa Rica is also home of a large [Intel plant in Heredia] that also providesa significant portion of Costa Rica's GDP.
Alternative sources of energy, including geo-thermal and hydro-electric, can provide a majorityof needs of a country. Advances in technology to take advantage of these can be carried over to other countries.
Separating our recyclables, and other efforts, are not just unique to Costa Rica. The best practices developed here can be passed on to other countries as well.
As Costa Rica experiments with green incentives to help modify human behaviour, the ones thatseem most effective can be borrowed and re-used in other locations.
Hopefully, we've all learned something this week, and perhaps can act to reduce our energy consumption and environmental impact, throughout the year, not just on Earth Day. Let's strive to make this a Smarter Planet!
Continuing this week's theme on Earth Day, I am in San José, the capital of Costa Rica.
Despite all the talk I heard about how great Costa Rica was, ranked 5th in the world as one of thegreenest countries, I had a hard time breathing the air in San José.Here's a picture I took from my hotel in Escazú, which overlooks the city.
I have been to the [Top 5 smogiest cities in the world] --Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Cairo, New Dehli, and Shanghai-- and can say that San Jose,Costa Rica is nowhere near as bad as any of those, and more on par with cities in the United States, like Pittsburgh or Los Angeles.
Having a single government official in charge of both energy and environment means they can set pricesand provide incentives in one to benefit the other. Here are two examples:
Only 5 percent of the energy consumption of this county comes from oil. Despite having their own oilrepositories off-shore, the Costa Ricans have decided not to drill and ruin their pristine shoreline,but rather import from foreign sources.Gasoline prices are set high to include some of the environmental costs, about four dollars per gallon(800 Costa Rican Colones per liter). Cars can be converted to run on less expensive Propane orsugar cane Ethanol, but the conversions are cost-prohibitive for many.
Did it help? No, Traffic was like a parking lot. Part of this was the result of the main highway beingunder construction, forcing many people to take side streets.
Electricity is 13 US cents per KWh. My hotel in Escazu wanted an extra $8.50 US dollars per day to run theAir Conditioner. By comparison, my house in Tucson, Arizona is 1167 square feet, roughly five to six times the size of my hotel room, and my electricity bill is a flat 27 US dollars per month year round.
Did it help? No, most tourists just pay the extra cost. I tried one day with A/C, and the second day without, for scientific comparison, and decided to go without the rest of the time I was there. Perhaps being from Tucson, Arizona I can tolerate the 85-degree heat better than others.
So if incentives to conserve like high prices don't work, what will? I interviewed Alexandra,a local 24-year-old studying law at a nearby college:
Once you get your law degree, will you move to another country, such as the United States? --There are already too many lawyers in your country.
What about Japan or Asia, there is a shortage of lawyers there?-- No, I plan to stay here in my country. Costa Rica is beautiful, my friends and family are here, why would I leave?
So why do you think the incentives don't work to help people conserve gasoline and electricity? --People have to earn a living, and are focused on getting things done. If it can be done in a way that helps the environment, great, but otherwise life continues.
So will you specialize in "environmental" law? -- Not sure yet. Too early to say. Costa Rica is certainly leading the world in environmental protection, and much of this is through laws and tax schemes.
High prices don't serve well as incentives to reduce consumption, but perhaps national pride and working in an industry like agriculture or eco-tourism might.
This week I am in Costa Rica to celebrate[Earth Day] and promote IBM's [Smarter Planet strategy] to help solve the world's energy and environmental problems. This is thethird in the series. The first two posts were:
Here in Costa Rica, they separate their recyclables, and encourage even the hotel guests from other countries to do the same. See my photo on the left for an example.
This is more than most in the United States will do. We're lucky to get North Americans to just separate all recyclables in one bin separate from all trash in a second bin.
Leaving Arenal, I went to Escazu, a suburb of San Jose, the capital of this country. I met with Patrick, one of the owners of [Exclusive Excursions Travel] that helped me organize the eco-tourism portion of this trip to Costa Rica.
Most people are familiar with the [star rating system] that rank most hotels from one star (budget class/economy) to five stars (deluxe/luxury). The nicest hotel I've been to was the [Burj Al Arab] in Dubai, which claims a seven star rating. For eco-tourism, there is a similar "Green Leaf" rating system. According to Patrick,the Instituto Costarricense de Turismo [ICT] (tourism board of Costa Rica) rates hotels from one leaf (adopting some measures, like separating recyclables shown above) to five leaves (entirely carbon neutral).This Green Leaf system seems more important to European and Canadian tourists, but those from United States may not even be aware of it.
The food at these hotels vary. The typical dish here for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the Casado, consisting of mostly rice and beans. I have found thatCosta Rica has come up with as many creative ways to combine rice and beans in various proportions as Starbucks® serve various combinations of coffee and milk.The locals might be accustomed to a steady diet of rice and beans for every meal of every day, but those of us from North America aren't! Not counting tourist flatulence, Costa Rica has[pledged to be carbon neutral by 2021], the country's 200th birthday.
Sadly, most folks in the United States don't categorize their hotels with a Green Leaf rating system, nor do they even bother to categorize their recyclables. I spent 18 months in the field doing Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) assessments for clients, and most didn't categorize their data either.So, the next time you have some combination of coffee and milk, whether its a Latte, Misto, Espresso, or Macchiato, remember that the coffee came from acountry trying to be more environmentally responsible, grown by a farmerwho eats a simple diet of rice and beans, and has no problem separating different categories of recyclables. Perhaps you will remember to separate your data, and store it on an information infrastructure based on an environmentally-responsible combination of SSD, FC, SATA and tape, to reduce your costs and minimize your carbon footprint.
This week's theme is Earth Day and the importance IBM has placed on energy and environmental conservation. I am traveling through Costa Rica, ranked by Forbes as the fifth greenest and [cleanest countries in the world]. Europe was home to the top four in the survey of 149 countries, ledby Switzerland, and home to 14 of the top 20. Colombia came in ninth. United States was a pathetic 39th.
In yesterday's post, [Green Water for Green Energy], I covered geo-thermal energy with a visit to the hot springs.My next activity was a rafting trip down the Peñas Blancas and San Carlos rivers, heading towards Nicaragua, to discuss hydro-electric power. Half of the hydro-electric power in this country is driven directly by river flow, and the rest relies on stored water in lakes. Back in 2007, Costa Rica had a drought, and this affected the hydro-electric capacity, resulting in brown-outs and power outages. When more than 80 percent of your energy comes from this source, droughts can be devastating. Rain patterns for Costa Rica have a dry season from mid-December to April, lots of Rain in May and June, a "short summer" (called affectionately El Veranito) with little or no rain in July, and then more rain the rest of the year, averaging over 150 inches of rainfall per year.
This was billed as a "Safari Float" ride.The water level was low, "Class I", the slowest possible rating, giving our raft guide Pedro a chance to point out a variety of birds, monkeys, iguanas and crocodiles. Iguanas and Crocodiles are protected endangered species in Costa Rica, and are notsupposed to be killed for food or sport.
(Hint: don't bother, both taste like chicken)
Joining us in our raft is Pamela, the 9-year-old daughter of one of the employees of the rafting company, [Canoa Adventura]. This wastheir version of take-your-daughter-to-work-day, as her parents want her to learn the rafting business, and get accustomed around English-speaking tourists.
Along the way, we saw a bulldozer knocking down trees and scooping up the rich soil.Costa Ricans consider trees and soil as renewable resources, reducing the need to purchase foreign fossil-based oil for cooking and chemical fertilizers.The name of the country, Costa Rica, literally means "rich coast" in the Spanish language, and with a string of 112 volcanos, the silt has plenty of mineral content that is good for agriculture, from coffee and bananas, to sugar cane, oranges and African palm.
Midway down the river, we had an "energy stop" to rest from all the paddling. This involved a visit to Don Pedro's farm, he is 98 years old, has four daughters, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, the youngest of which just born 15 days ago. We had coffee, [fried plantaines], and Yucca cake. We have Yucca in Arizona as well. If you've ever seen a [Yucca] plant, you would never think to eat it, but it is a staple here. To make cake, just grate the Yucca root, mix in enough milk and sugar, and bake in a pie tin. The result has a consistency similar to coconut macaroons.
On the ride back, we stopped at the famous "Iguana bridge" where we could see up close and personal a dozen or so of these huge lizards. Our guide Marcos fed them some papaya. Agreat way to appreciate bio-diversity in action!