Archive for February, 2011

Spanglish Shenanigans

February 25, 2011 By: erik Category: Offspring, Spanish, Videos

Grinning in PigtailsAs I have mentioned before, Nora has a very strong preference for speaking Spanish over English. It can be rather frustrating for me, since I’m doing everything in my power to motivate her to use English, and she just refuses. My general technique for reinforcing English use goes like this:

  1. Nora asks for something in Spanish.
  2. I say “What?” or just pretend to not hear.
  3. She repeats the request in Spanish.
  4. I repeat the request for her in English.
  5. She repeats the request in English.
  6. I immediately act on giving her whatever she asked for.

In the last month, her spoken Spanish has really taken off, and I think her English understanding has improved greatly as well. I can only think of three words that she tends to use in English before Spanish: cookie, shoe, and down, as in “get me down from this chair”.
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English Accents РPat̩tica Fon̩tica

February 24, 2011 By: erik Category: England, Stuff I Found, Videos

Patética Fonética IntervieweeLast year I was interviewed by a local language teacher, Rodolfo, who is making a lovely series of videos for his English (as a second language, of course) students. My interview was not used in several interim videos, but I do appear in the one published yesterday discussing how we Americans view those bloody blokes with British accents. As usual, the entire video is quite interesting and very well edited. I continue to applaud Rodolfo and his projects at the Escuela Oficial de Idiomas de Laredo. I’d be happy to do another interview with him…but maybe with less sun in my eyes next time.
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Cielito Lindo

February 23, 2011 By: erik Category: Music, Offspring, Spain, Videos

Cielito Lindo (vidcap)From what I can tell, the song chorus best known across all of Hispanic culture, both in Iberia and the Americas, is probably that of Cielito Lindo. Since I learned it some years ago, I can’t help thinking it to myself anytime anyone says more than one “Ay!”, which is fairly often. The chorus goes like this, which I won’t bother to translate, since the Wikipedia page does such a good job:

Ay, ay, ay, ay,
Canta y no llores,
Porque cantando se alegran,
Cielito lindo, los corazones.

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Photographing Positive Integers

February 22, 2011 By: erik Category: Geeky, Math, Photography

Five Positive IntegersWhile they are still only fun to her as colored objects and not the mathematical concepts they represent, Nora very much enjoys playing with these foam numbers we bought for a few pennies at the local chinos. The other day I was goofing around with them as she was popping them out of their placemat-sized sheet and handing them to me, and I noticed that they could be interlocked in sequence. It was then that I thought they might make an interesting subject for photography, so I waited until Nora’s interest moved to another toy and went to get my camera.
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Identifying Dave Matthews

February 21, 2011 By: erik Category: Music, Offspring

Nora and DaveAt some point in every parenting journey, there comes a time when you have to teach your child about your favorite recording artist. Recently when I was preparing Nora’s lunch, I put my iPhone into iPod mode to play a random shuffling of my top rated music. I let it play throughout her lunch and when she was done eating, I decided to teach her to say “Dave Matthews”. She picked it up pretty quickly, so I pulled out the video camera.
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Social Knot Working

February 19, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Geeky, Internet

Facebook ExclamationThe state of interconnectivity between social networking these days is a bloody nightmare. For me, anyhow. I’ve been trying for months now to find the right balance and how to use each service to best connect me to my peeps, allow me to share things I find and ideas that pop into my head and little things I do that don’t warrant an entire blog post, but I’ve been unable to strum the right chord.

All the services I use can connect to one another and “cross post”, except for Facebook, which, in its ironic privacy, only receives information. Twitter can post to Tumblr and Facebook and Google Buzz; Tumblr can post to Twitter and Facebook; Flickr can post to Facebook and Tumblr; Instagram can post to Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Facebook; etc. etc. etc.
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5 Things I Didn’t Know About Evolution

February 18, 2011 By: erik Category: Geeky, Reviews, Science


I recently read The Greatest Show On Earth, by Richard Dawkins, which details the evidence we have for Darwinian Evolution. Dawkins’ ability to elegantly simplify complex scientific concepts remains as powerful as ever. The reader need not remember or have yet taken high school physics to understand radioactive carbon dating and other fundamentals of how we know Evolution is true. Much of it I already knew, either from school, reading science blogs, listening to science podcasts, or from books. But there were a few bits that were new to me, or exceedingly interesting, so I thought I’d share them.

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Parenting In Spain: Inanimate Retribution

February 17, 2011 By: erik Category: Complaining, Parenting, Spain, Weird

What!  Now, how did that table get in my mouth?As an expat parent of a toddler in Spain, I have noticed a rather bizarre parenting behavior exhibited by Spaniards caring for small children. A typical scenario goes something like this:

A toddler is careening around and hits her head on a table. Tables and desks are right at forehead height for a two-year-old. The parent or caretaker rushes over and hugs the crying child. Immediately the caretaker turns to the table and shouts, “Bad table!” and smacks the table hard with his hand and encourages the child to hit and scold the table as well.

If you’re like me the first time I saw this parenting technique, you have a big “WTF?” thought bubble above your head.
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Dark Sunrise This Morning

February 16, 2011 By: erik Category: Photos

Sunrise TodayThe offspring alarm got me up before sunrise this morning. I tried the old “it’s still dark, so maybe she’ll think this is like the times at 2:00 AM when I sit with her for a two minutes and she goes back to sleep” tactic, but she wasn’t fooled. She wanted to get up and go play downstairs. So we groggily made our way down the stairs (I unconsciously carry her in the arm opposite the railing now.) and prepared breakfast. Her current favorite morning meal is warm chocolate milk with cookies for dipping. Mmmm!

As Nora was eating her breakfast, I glanced out the window and saw a pretty spectacular sunrise over the mountains. When I was taking photographs of it, Nora said, “¿Qué ves? ¿Qué pasa?” (What do you see? What’s happening?) Well, below you can see what I was photographing.
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Pushing A Stroller

February 15, 2011 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Videos

Mommy ChicThere are several things I’ve learned since procreating in a very pedestrian town where strollers get a lot of use. If ours had an odometer, it would read hundreds of kilometers. The first is that it’s actually a lot easier to walk when you are pushing a stroller. Presumably this is why the less ambulatory elderly use walkers. I find that when I’m walking around town without a stroller, it feels a little weird not having my hands out in front of me. The second is that a pushing a stroller makes you very aware of the unevenness of the road; curbs and bumps become much more important to your conscious mind. The third is how incredibly useful it is to have a large bag and storage compartment with you at all times that you are not carrying. It’s warmed up and you don’t want that jacket anymore? No problem, just stick it under the stroller! Our lack of stroller during our heavily ambulatory trip to San Francisco was very salient when we had to carry a backpack and tie our jackets around our waists.
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