Why do pilots tell the passengers about the wind?

April 23, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Travel, Weird 257 views

Another prohibition sign from AirplaneHave you ever noticed how, on a commercial airline flight, the pilot always – without fail – informs the passengers of the speed and direction of the wind at the destination? I can understand telling us about the local time, temperature, and general weather (e.g. foggy, sunny, raining) at the destination. That’s useful information about how much clothing to don before exiting the aircraft.
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State of the Offspring Address – April 2012

April 23, 2012 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Parenting, Photos 317 views

Nora PortraitsThis month included the holiday of Easter, which is considerably more fun (and tooth-rotting) for American children than for Spanish children. In Spain, most people get a week off of work and go on vacation. Nora and her mother went down to the family’s house in Extremadura to spend a week lazing around with Nora’s aunt and Spanish grandparents. After a suggestion from my parents, I seized the opportunity to travel to the United States to show my face at the office where I am normally only present via the internet.
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Why Are Expats More Liberal?

April 20, 2012 By: erik Category: Musings, Politics, Travel 419 views

A Large Group of National FlagsI will never forget the feeling of terror and exhilaration I experienced when I first moved abroad as a twenty-year-old IAESTE exchange student to Copenhagen, Denmark. I was so far from everything I knew, and was thrust into a society that had its own way of doing things. There were weekly meetings of other exchange students in which I could converse with other young people from Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Turkey, Norway, Thailand, Japan, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, Scotland and Greece. It was incredibly mind opening.
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Taxation and Equal Pay

April 18, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Politics, USA 365 views

IRS SealYesterday, April 17, 2012, was Tax Day in the United States, they day when all citizens tax filings and payment was due. It was on a particularly odd date this year because the regular date, April 15, fell on a Sunday, and the Monday afterwards was Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, meaning that federal employees at the IRS were off work. Thus, it fell on April 17, the 108th day of the year.
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Paper or Plastic: Cash Is Dead

April 16, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Musings, Spain, USA 454 views

Fourteen Thousand EurosI just got back from a ten day trip to the USA in which I ran a bit of an experiment: I never carried a single dollar or cent of US currency on my person. All my transactions were electronic using a debit card, even the extremely cheap ones like buying a $0.99 bottle of water from a convenience store. None of the cashiers even batted an eye when I pulled out the plastic for such a tiny purchase. In Spain, I suspect they would refuse your business if you tried to pull a stunt like that.
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The Golden Age Fallacy and Our Social Decline

April 04, 2012 By: erik Category: Complaining, Fighting Stupidity, Geeky, Internet, Science, Videos 1,527 views

thumbnailRemember back when you were a child, and the world wasn’t so complicated and messed up? That was a simpler time, wasn’t it? WRONG. It was a simpler time for you, because you were a child, free to play and almost entirely free from responsibility. We live in the most peaceful time in all of human history. Thinking that things were better in the past is called the Golden Age Fallacy, and it annoys the crap out of me.
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Easter 2002 in Cornwall, England

March 30, 2012 By: erik Category: England, Photos, Retro, Travel 233 views

Lands End CliffsIt’s not often that I think to myself, “I wonder what I was doing ten years ago?”, but when I saw on the news that the Queen Elizabeth II was celebrating her Diamond Jubilee, commemorating being the queen for 60 years, my mind immediately flashed to where I was during her Golden Jubilee ten years earlier. I very vividly remember watching the Party at the Palace on a small television in a little cottage we were renting for a week in the Scottish Highlands. That was my first year living abroad indefinitely, and I did quite a bit of traveling around the UK with my Spanish señorita who I’d just moved in with having only spent a few months together with her. For Easter that year, exactly ten years ago today, we decided to take her company car and head down to the southwestern coast of England, to a region known as Cornwall.
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State of the Offspring Address – March 2012

March 28, 2012 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Parenting 123 views

Birthday GirlIt looks like Nora might finally be distinguishing wavelengths of light with her visual cortex. Several times this month, she has proclaimed that “That [object over there] is pink!” and been correct about it. And she spends a lot of time pointing at things and asking “What color is this?”, but beyond pink she seems unable or unwilling to acknowledge that a green ball and a green shirt have anything in common. Oh well.
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Nora Is Three!

March 26, 2012 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Partying, Photos, Spain 328 views

Taking pictures with new digital cameraNora turned three years old this weekend. We drove to her Spanish grandparents’ house in Mondragón and had a party at their Centro Extremeño, a cultural center and social club for emigrants from the Extremadura province of southern Spain. Nora was quite wowed by all the presents and attention. She gets a lot of presents and attention throughout the year, but this was definitely a more special day. She got many dresses, and a doll, a wooden bowling set, and a Hello Kittyâ„¢ digital camera, which is iPhone-shaped, so she calls it her “mobile”. The digital camera was her favorite gift, which I’m proud to say came from her loving parents (it was marked down from 70€ to 20€!!), but her second favorite gift, the bowling kit, was more fun to play with in the wide open space of the cultural center.
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Singing in Basque

March 23, 2012 By: erik Category: Music, Offspring, Videos 204 views

Singing in Basque (thumbnail)Several weeks ago, when we were on our way to run some errands, Nora started singing something. It sounded like gibberish to me – and she does often sing and talk gibberish – but it was slightly more structured than her normal babble. Also, she repeated it verbatim a few times. I inquired as to what she was singing, and she told me that it was a song that her Tía Belén had taught her. At this point I realized it must be a song in Basque.
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