Archive for December, 2010

Cards by Joyce

December 31, 2010 By: erik Category: Art, Family, Photos, Videos

Marga's Birthday CardMy grandmother, Joyce Rasmussen, has always been interested in arts and crafts. She has made baskets, pottery, needlework, crochet, knitting, paper-mâché, and origami. What she’s really been excelling at recently is making elaborate homemade greeting cards. Ever since getting a personal computer back in the late eighties, she has been fond of printing her own greeting cards, which involves choosing appropriate clipart and writing a nice message. I have always appreciated her cards more because I know that the sentiment comes directly from her, not Hallmark™.

At some point the idea occurred to her that if she cut a perfect circle of just the right radius in the front of the card with an X-Acto knife, then one of her origami chrysanthemums would fit there perfectly and be both held tightly in place and completely cover the hole. This discovery ushered in a Renaissance in Joyce-made greeting cards.
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Nora, Wake Up

December 30, 2010 By: erik Category: Damn, Nature!

thumbLast night, Nora couldn’t sleep from 12:30 to 2:30, which wasn’t very pleasant for anyone. As a result, it was 10:20 this morning when I decided to wake her up. It was strange to have our waking roles reversed. Normally she gets me up anywhere between 7:00 and 9:00.

I think what is ultimately so cute about babies (and monkeys) is just how much like us they are. Their little sneezes and burps and coughs are exactly like those of adults. So, too, is how they wake up. Annoyed at being woken up, and with a strong temptation to lie back down and go back to sleep.
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Where are all the video emails?

December 30, 2010 By: erik Category: Damn, Nature!, Marketing, Programming

thumbWith the release of the iPhone 4, and similar competitors, in 2010, video phone calls are just now starting to become more commonplace, although they are often less comfortable or convenient than regular voice calls. Webcam video chatting has been gaining in popularity over the last decade, but it has still been a bit cumbersome, usually requiring a lot of pre-communication communication to decide on a time for the call.

I had one of the very first computer webcams, the Connectix QuickCam, back in 1995. I took it with me to college and actually video chatted with my parents a few times from my college dorm room. At the time, the webcam software and propaganda was very excited about the idea of “video email”, and that, in the very near future, we’d all be sending short video recordings to each other like on Star Trek. But then again, everyone thought we’d be surfing the web in 3D with VRML by the end of the millennium, too.
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Christmas 2010

December 28, 2010 By: erik Category: Beach, Complaining, Damn, Nature!, Experiments, France, Internet, Media

Santa Scales WallWe had a nice Christmas celebration. My Spanish family does a big Christmas celebration with aunts and uncles and cousins on odd numbered years, and the big get together on New Years Eve on even numbered years, so this year was a small Christmas celebration with just my wife’s parents, sister, and grandfather. As with most holidays, tradition rules, so the meals are pretty similar every year. Jumbo shrimp, stuffed eggs, paté, and gildas are the usual appetizers. We also had a fun time making a racket singing traditional Spanish Christmas carols.
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Semana del Pincho 3

December 24, 2010 By: erik Category: Beach, Experiments, Internet, Media

Semana del Pincho 2010It’s that time of year again. Time to walk through the chilly air from bar to bar in Laredo, Spain, eating elaborate tapas, called pinchos, and imbibing fine wine. This is the third year, and it seems to be getting better every year. The Semana del Pincho is one Christmas tradition I could definitely get used to. Before we get to the mouthwatering photos, I’d like to quote myself from last year about why I like this event so much:
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Parenting Taboos

December 22, 2010 By: erik Category: Colindres, Damn, Nature!, Programming

thumbTaboos are fascinating. My life has never been the same since August 8, 2006, when I read an article about examining what we don’t dare say aloud, and how the amount of trouble one can get in for saying certain things is positively correlated with the likelihood that they are true. Today I stumbled upon a TED Talk by a married couple, Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, who run a website about parenting. Their topic was parenting taboos, that is, what you can’t say about parenting.
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Homeowner

December 21, 2010 By: erik Category: Beach, Damn, Nature!, Flickr

Marga locks her grandmother insideWhen we were in the States for Thanksgiving, I was impressed to learn of a new social program in my hometown that has allotted some space in the old Junior High School as a play area for young children, with all donated toys. Ambiguously called Family Connections, it’s a free, dry, and warm place for even the poorest parents to bring their kids and let them run around and play with toys that perhaps their parents could not afford to buy them individually. Nora absolutely loved it.
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Lera Boroditsky on Language

December 17, 2010 By: erik Category: Geeky, Science, Spanish, Stuff I Found, Videos

Lera BoroditskyThe other day I watched a ninety minute video of a speech by Dr. Lera Boroditsky, of Stanford University, about her work on comparing and contrasting languages across cultures and drawing conclusions on how language affects the way we think. Astute readers may recall my interest in this topic, and specifically in Boroditsky’s work on the subject, from my In Spanish, It’s Not Your Fault post. Today, I just want to point out a few points from her talk that resonated with me and then direct you towards the video itself.
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Giant Lemon

December 16, 2010 By: erik Category: Beach, Golf, Media

Erik and the Giant LemonOccasionally a set of photos that I really want to publish get lost in a sea of other interesting content. When my parents were visiting one year ago, we noticed a giant lemon in a local bar and asked if we could pose with it for a few silly photographs. The bartender, who got to know me during a USA v. Spain fútbol match a few years ago, was happy to oblige. So here’s a giant lemon…
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Progress Quickens

December 15, 2010 By: erik Category: Beach

Seating ReassignmentNora’s language skills have made major advances lately. I continue to be astonished at the facility with which she understands both English and Spanish. Below are some anecdotes from this past week.

The other day, I was walking her down by the docks on a sunny cloudless day, and she looked up and said “Water!” In retrospect, I’m pretty certain that she was asking me for some water, but at the moment she said it, I thought she was associating the blue of the sky with the color of water. “No, no, I said, that’s sky.” She repeated, “Sky.” And after a second or two, she said, “Cielo,” which is the Spanish word for sky. I was blown away. Obviously she’s going to pick up some Spanish vocabulary from daycare, but understanding the generalization that is “sky” and perfectly equating it with its equivalent word in her other language is no simple feat.
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