Pelele – Spanish Impotency Effigy

January 29, 2013 By: erik Category: Partying, Spain, Weird 704 views

Pelele, GoyaMy three-year-old daughter has been instructed by her teacher to bring in some old clothes that no longer fit for the Pelele celebration. According to this Spanish Wikipedia article, the Pelele is a rag doll or straw puppet that is thrown high up into the air by a group of women during the Carnival (Mardi Gras) celebrations in Madrid, while they sing about beating him to death. The doll is later burned. Ritual burnings are common in Europe around the solstices, as an ancient pagan symbol of rebirth. The symbolism of burning your old clothes is pretty straightforwardly similar, however, I suspect that the use of old clothes is more about getting straw into a humanoid shape. The real reason for the doll becomes apparent upon listening to the lyrics of the song.
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Rainy Sunday Make-Up Party

January 28, 2013 By: erik Category: Offspring, Parenting, Photos 91 views

Rainy Sunday Make-Up PartyI don’t think I’ve ever had lipstick on my lips that I didn’t acquire through a kiss… until yesterday. I think it was also the first time I’ve had my fingernails painted. Twenty-four hours later, they still look fabulous. The weather was cold and rainy, as it has been for pretty much all of 2013 so far, and it occurred to my testosteronally-challenged housemates that getting all dolled up before bedtime might be a fun thing to do. Something tells me that my son is going to experience lipstick, eyeshadow, rouge and fingernail polish long before his first birthday, courtesy of his extremely feminine big sister.
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Tick Tick Tock Tock

January 24, 2013 By: erik Category: Geeky, Videos, Weird 75 views

Tick Tick Tock Tock thumbnailRecently, my watch broke. Well, kind of. I’ve never seen a watch break like this. Rather than the second hand moving 6° every second, every two seconds, it goes tick-tick and moves 12°, thus keeping perfect time. While on another errand to the local jeweler to see if they could fix my mother-in-law’s earring, I casually showed it to the jeweler to see if she’d ever seen something like this. She explained, not very clearly (to me), that often watches have an auxiliary battery or chip or something that ticks every two seconds, and that when the battery runs low, it switches over to the two-second ticking.
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Lance Armstrong and the Psychology of Cheating

January 23, 2013 By: erik Category: Complaining, Musings, News, Photos, Videos 153 views

Pencil portrait, not yet finished..As I’ve mentioned before, I’m rather fascinated with the psychology behind decision-making. Both Dan Ariely and Jonah Lehrer are leading experts in the field, at least experts in writing best-selling popular psychology books about it. Ariely has recently moved into the study of lying cheating, and Lehrer moved into the practice of lying and cheating, getting caught for plagiarizing, if you can call it that, his own previous work and falsifying quotes from Bob Dylan to help support his conclusions.
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Brussels Cathedral

January 18, 2013 By: erik Category: Photos, Religion, Travel 116 views

Brussels CathedralI hate it when I do this. Sometimes I take a bunch of photos in a day, but then I set aside some of them, like of an iconic bridge, for later for their own blog post, but then I get so exhausted of blogging about the whole trip that the group of photos gets overlooked for months.

When I was walking around Brussels on October 10, 2012, I stopped by the cathedral and took a couple dozen photos, which I left out of my original post to save for later. I just now rediscovered them. Below are some of my favorites.
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Three Year Old Economist

January 14, 2013 By: erik Category: Offspring 100 views

Europe, home of Leonardo and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin artToday is a Monday, and my three year old daughter told me, “I don’t like the days when I have to go to school and you and Mommy have to go to work.” Yeah, me neither, sister! Socratically, I inquired, “If we don’t go to work, where will we get the money to buy things?” She responded, “From your purse or cartera.” “And when my wallet is empty?” I pushed on… “From the store,” she answered, unphased.
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Home Economics 101 – How To Iron

January 11, 2013 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos 164 views

How To Iron - ThumbnailI have a very vivid memory from my Developmental Psychology class in college about a study in which a diapered infant was given to adults to babysit for a short time. Half of the babysitters were told that the infant was a boy and half that it was a girl. The half that were told it was a boy went to the toy chest and selected cars and hammers to play with, and the half told it was a girl selected dolls and combs and kitchenware. The experiment did an excellent job of calling into doubt the origin, Nature or Nurture, of our societal gender stereotypes.

When I learned I would have a daughter I promised myself that I would make every effort to not provide her any gender stereotypes. I’ve never bought her any pink toys or “girly” stuff.
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Gender Pop Quiz – Sunflowers, Daisies and Toilets

January 09, 2013 By: erik Category: Musings, Photos, Spanish 202 views

DaisyThe other day I went out to a restaurant owned by a friend of mine. They’d recently renovated the place and all the colors and designs were changed. About halfway through my meal, I received a call from Nature and got up to answer it. Once through the door marked “Aseos” (Restrooms), there is a sink, and two more doors. One with a photo of a sunflower and the other with a daisy. Which door should I use?
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Mayumana: Racconto Review

January 04, 2013 By: erik Category: Dancing, Photos, Reviews, Videos 170 views

Mayumana MomentumOn December 29, we went to a show at the Teatro Arriaga in Bilbao called Mayumana: Racconto. It’s a dance troupe from Tel Aviv, Israel that involves a lot of rhythmic percussion in their act. I was looking forward to it, because I’ve seen and very much enjoyed both Blue Man Group and Stomp. I must say that Mayumana left me a bit disappointed.
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The Spanish Christmas Bonus and the 14 Month Payroll in Spain

December 28, 2012 By: erik Category: Politics, Spain 881 views

Fourteen Thousand EurosOne of the unique cultural practices in Spain is the summer and winter double paycheck. Every July or August and December, Spanish employees receive twice their normal salary for the month. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It’s actually negotiated that way, so when you take a salaried job in Spain, you agree to receive your annual salary in 14 payments, one per month, and then an extra one each summer and winter. As far as I know, this is the standard practice across most industries.
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