Christmas Workshops At School

December 17, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Offspring, Photos, Spain 116 views

Talleres de Navidad 2012 - 162Last week the three, four and five-year-old classes at my daughter’s school got together for an hour in the afternoon to do arts and crafts loosely related to Christmas. They were divided up into seven groups and each sent to a different part of the school with a teacher and some volunteering parents to do a craft of some sort. One room was face painting; another was gluing tongue depressors together into Christmas ornaments; another was constructing bits for a big nativity scene; another was baking marzipan cookies. Somehow, my daughter’s teacher’s husband found me and has been following me on Flickr for several months. I’ve yet to determine if his discovery was related to our choice of school and luck of school teacher. His photostream is much more impressive than mine. Anyhow, Nora’s teacher asked me if I could come and take some photographs of all the workshops. I was happy to volunteer.
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Restaurante Solana – Michelin Star Dining in Cantabria

December 10, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Reviews, Spain 451 views

Restaurante SolanaBack in October, for my birthday, I enjoyed the treat of dining with my favorite gastronomy blogger at a Michelin 2-star restaurant in Brussels. It was an exciting and memorable experience. The worst part of it was not getting to share the experience with my lovely wife. Our neighboring Basque Country has a firmament of Michelin stars, but most of them are an hour or two away, which is not too far to drive to a restaurant, but it’s too far to drive back in a stupor of digestive bliss. So imagine my delight to discover last week that Restaurante Solana, a restaurant in our neighboring town of Ampuero, was awarded a Michelin star last year!
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Binary Clock

December 07, 2012 By: erik Category: Geeky, Ireland, Marketing, Photos, Programming, Reviews 138 views

Binary ClockLast Christmas, after seeing me express some coveting interest in a geeky product on the internet, my parents gave me a binary clock. Part of what I love about it is that it reminds me of the very first circuit (with a chip) that I made in my high school electronics class. We had a breadboard – that’s a board with lots of holes to push wires into to connect them, not something to serve a cheese platter on – and a timer chip, a counter chip, a battery, some LEDs, and some wires to connect them. Sure enough, they started blinking and counting in binary! It’s sort of the Hello World of computer engineering.
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State of the Offspring Address – November 2012

November 30, 2012 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Parenting, Photos, Videos 119 views

NoraOur most exciting event this month was traveling to the United States for two weeks to visit my parents and grandmother for Thanksgiving. Nora was very excited about the trip and behaved admirably. We got up at 4:00 AM on a Saturday, flew to Frankfurt, and then all the way to Charlotte. The second flight was 9.5 hours long, and Nora slept for only one hour. She quickly learned how to operate her in-flight touch screen entertainment system and watched the same episode of Baby Looney Tunes about a hundred times. After another hour-long drive from the Charlotte airport, we reached my parents’ house. Nora has been video conferencing over FaceTime with my parents for at least a half hour every day, and she took no time at all to acclimatize to them. At 8:00 PM North Carolina time, twenty-two hours after she had woken up that morning, I had to insist that she stop playing with her Grandma and go to bed. It took her less than thirty seconds to fall asleep.
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Transatlantic Movie Marathon – 5 Movie Reviews

November 27, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Musings, Reviews 116 views

American In Spain On A PlaneDuring my recent Thanksgiving pond hop, I had the opportunity to watch several movies during my 16.5 hours of air travel over the ocean. I was impressed with the selection available, with a few dozen older classics and about twenty “new releases”. With so many movies fresh in my memory, I figure I should tell you about them.
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House Concert with Peggy Ratusz

November 19, 2012 By: erik Category: Art, Music, Partying, USA, Videos 102 views

Peggy Ratusz and Jonathan PearlmanSometimes it seems to me like my parents are very often going to concerts and events around my hometown. So when we chose our dates to visit for Thanksgiving this year, I eagerly inquired if there were any events we could attend. Alas, there were none.

Aware of my disappointment, my parents contacted their friend, Clint, who runs Americana Stage, the organization that schedules, manages and hosts such concerts in various local venues. Clint suggested a “house concert”, which is still a fairly new genre of event. The basic idea is that you host a party in your house, but you charge all your friends an admission fee, and then you pay a band to perform in your own house. Not all houses are appropriate for such events, but the one my parents bought three years ago has a very adequate living room. The whole thing was a new experience for almost all involved.
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Learning Lytro – Light Field Camera Review

November 13, 2012 By: erik Category: Experiments, Photography, Photos, Reviews 142 views

LytroI had never heard of a “light field” camera until I began hearing marketing buzz about the Lytro camera last year. To be perfectly honest, I still don’t really understand how the technology works. I have a pretty good layman’s grasp of how normal lens optics work to focus an image onto film or a CCD sensor, and how and why focusing at a certain depth works, but the “light field” camera concept still seems a bit like magic. They say that it captures not only the intensity and color of the light hitting each sensor pixel, but the direction of said photon as well. Huh? And somehow this magically allows the focal length (what depth in the image is in focus) to be modified after the moment has been captured, just like they do in Hollywood movies and television where a detective tells a lab geek to “enhance this area of the photograph here” and they can now magically read the perp’s license plate. Like I said, it still seems a bit like magic, but it really, really works.
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Autumn Recipe: Pumpkin Almond Risotto

November 06, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Recipes 196 views

Pumpkin Almond RisottoMy wife and I have been slowly expanding our culinary abilities this year via online recipes, trying about a dozen new recipes this past year. I’m pretty sure my favorite is this pumpkin almond risotto that she made once, and I have repeated twice. It is absolutely delicious and dead simple to make, although it does require some attention and stirring just before serving.
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Turtle Sitting: Tomasa Came Home

November 06, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Spain 121 views

Nora and Tortuga TomasaAs you may recall, Nora’s preschool class mascot is a big turtle, named Tortuga Tomasa. After some foul play incidents a decade ago, the mascot is now a stuffed turtle, and not a real reptile. We were told that every weekend throughout the year, the Tomasa would travel home with one kid in the class to be cared for at home. However, since there are so many children in Nora’s class, the policy was amended to have a child take the stuffed reptile home every single day to maximize participation. I was hoping we’d get lucky and have Tomasa for a weekend, but we got even luckier. Nora brought her home on a Tuesday, the children went on a field trip to a local zoo on the Wednesday (so Tomasa had to stay home), the Thursday was All Saints Day (no school), and then they had Friday off as a bridge day, so Tomasa stayed at our house for five days!
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Teaching Spanish Kids About Halloween

November 02, 2012 By: erik Category: Colindres, Offspring, Parenting, Partying, Photos, Spain, USA 331 views

Halloween At Fray Pablo - 199For Halloween this year, I offered to give a pumpkin carving demonstration to my daughter’s three-year-old preschool class. The teacher was enthusiastic and coordinated with the English teacher, who was already doing some Halloween-themed vocabulary, for a date and time for the presentation. All I could get were some small pumpkins from my local grocer friend who frequents farmers markets. The only way to get a real lantern-worthy gourd is to know a farmer directly, which I do not. My daughter’s teacher, however, told me that she was going to her hometown for the weekend before Halloween, and she knew some farmers that grew big pumpkins, and she’d see what she could find. It was a success! She found two gorgeous beach-ball-sized gourds for me to carve.
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