Constructive Criticism

April 29, 2010 By: erik Category: Musings, Politics 132 views

For years now, I have been listening to the opposition party in Spain complain about every little problem and blame it all on the current governing party. For one, this attitude lead me to my epiphany four years ago that Conservatives Complain More, but it has also lead me to develop a new pet peeve. Complaining about the government is easy. Everyone’s angry about something. If you’re not, you’re either high or stupid. What’s really hard is suggesting a better way to do whatever it is you think the government is bungling. Recently, I’ve made a point of countering complaints with, “How would you do X better if you were in power?” The result is amazing. Most people shut up immediately or ignore the question. The ones that actually have an answer are those that have actually thought through the problem. Those are the people to listen to.
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Letter Train

April 28, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos 286 views

Nora TrainThis train of letters caught my eye on the dining room table recently, casting nice shadows in the morning sunlight. I think Nora’s grandparents or great-grandfather probably bought it for her. Just think of all the money we’re saving on things like this by giving her a four letter name!
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Bipedal Mischief

April 27, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos 110 views

Sssh! Don't tell the child labor people!It seems like every time I turn my back on Nora in her walker, she’s off investigating some corner of the house she perhaps shouldn’t be. Several times she’s closed kitchen drawers on her fingers, which warrants a “kiss to make it better” and a stern lecture about drawer safety from her father. On Saturday, when I was gutting and cleaning some fresh anchovies, I noticed an eerie silence in the background and went to see what she might be up to, only to find her asleep at the wheel. And I thought I was bored by the anchovy cleaning!
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Goatherds and Terrorism

April 26, 2010 By: erik Category: Musings, Reviews 121 views

Goat meetingAt the moment I’m reading this fascinating book called Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (amazon). It’s a fantastic read and I could easily write a few posts about each chapter, but I want to focus specifically on one theory, discussed in Chapter 6, about violence and honor…and goats.
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Local Peas

April 26, 2010 By: erik Category: Colindres, Food 102 views

PeasDuring the recent flying ban in Europe because of the volcano in Iceland, some of the grocery stores in the UK started to run out of fresh fruit. This reminded me of a few years back when the Spanish truckers union was on strike for a few days and the grocery shelves became empty surprisingly fast. These little reminders about how quickly our global food supply chain can collapse with just the slightest hiccup are a little sobering. When we hit Peak Oil any day now, “eating locally” might not be for the rich suburban housewives anymore.

Last week at the grocery store, I noticed a sign saying “Peas from Colindres” in the vegetable section, so I asked how they should be prepared and bought a kilo. I was told to boil them for a little bit first, and then place them in a frying pan with some small diced bits of jamón, Spanish cured ham. The result was very, very nice.
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Sitting Up and Unboxing

April 23, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos 90 views

thumbNora, today you had a big milestone that made me really proud of you. You actually managed to go from a “lying down” position to a “sitting up” position! You did so by slowly walking your hands close and closer to you until you could push your center of gravity over your butt. This is a big step for you ever since you realized that you could reach objects further away by lying down to get them, and then wailing until one of your parents sat you back up. Of course other children your age are learning to sprint, but we take our small victories where we can. Congratulations.
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Wah Wah Wah

April 21, 2010 By: erik Category: Funny, Offspring, Videos 81 views

Wah WahNora’s vocalizations have become much more complex recently. She’s been playing a lot lately with the O and A vowel sounds, and getting a lot of positive reinforcement for those sounds because most of her vocalizations sound somewhere between “hola” and “oh yeah!” Just the other day she said “hola” with perfect pronunciation and inflection. Unfortunately she was alone in the room at the time. And yesterday she said her name. After bath time, she was standing, with my help, naked on the changing table looking at herself in the mirror, pounding on her chest like a proud gorilla, and suddenly she shouted, “I’m Nora!” I’m reasonably positive that she doesn’t yet understand the meaning to that sonic utterance, but both her mother’s and my brains recognized the pattern of sound as being English words. Soon after that, when her mother was trying to cut her toe nails, I said, “Who’s the bravest monkey?”, to which she shouted, “Nora!”
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April Rioja Trip – Day 2 of 2

April 20, 2010 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Spain, Travel, Wine 198 views

Wine from 1970Previously, in Rioja…

On Sunday we woke up at 11:00 to the peaceful sound of no baby crying. After a quick breakfast at the pub neighboring the hotel, we checked out and the group of eleven of us took our three vehicles and headed towards Haro. I have wanted to visit Haro for some time, ever since learning about the Batalla de Vino they host every year, which I detailed in the 17th post on this blog back in June 2006. At some point on the way to Haro, the Tom Tom GPS unit in the leading car, decided that it wanted to visit the town of Cenicero. I have noticed Cenicero on the map a few times and chuckled at its horrible name, which is Spanish for “ashtray”. Wielding my trusty GPS-enabled iPhone, I volunteered to lead us to Haro, and in twenty minutes we were there.
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April Rioja Trip – Day 1 of 2

April 19, 2010 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Spain, Travel 314 views

Bodega PimientoThe group of friends that Marga and I dance salsa with a couple times a month organized a trip down to the Rioja region this past weekend. On Friday evening we drove to my in-laws in Mondragon to drop off Nora. Because of my work and errands Marga had to do, we left home at 22:00, a full hour and a half after Nora had gone to bed. While docile all the way from crib to car seat, she ended up crying the whole ninety minute trip. I dislike driving late at night, and it was nice to have someone in the car to keep me awake. On Saturday morning we got up fairly leisurely and left around 11:00 to head south to the Rioja region of Spain. We had a hotel booked in Logroño, but, after getting in touch with our friends who were driving down from Cantabria, we went first to a tiny, tiny town named Tirgo to have lunch in a restaurant that one of our friends knew about. There was no menu, they just had what they had that day. Luckily it turned out to be fried peppers, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), salad, and lamb chops. [I started salivating again just typing that sentence.]
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Correos Still Life

April 16, 2010 By: erik Category: Colindres, Photography, Photos, Photoshop, Spain 229 views

CorreosOn a recent walk I snapped a photograph of the local postman’s scooter. The mail in Colindres is delivered mostly by foot, with mailmen and mail-women walking around town pulling a little pull-cart, like the ones housewives pull to and from the grocery store. There’s one mailman who zips around on a scooter, parking it in the middle of a neighborhood and delivering letters from it to the nearby houses. I really liked my photo of his scooter and decided to play with it in photoshop, adding a pseudo-tilt-shift focusing effect to the scooter, with some desaturation of the background. I liked it so much that when a mailbox caught my eye, sitting alone with a tree, the following day, I snapped a photograph. After some similar photoshopping, the mailbox and tree really look to be keeping each other company. With these two made, I decided to go, yesterday, and snap the other mailbox (there are only two in town that I know of). Lo and behold it, too, was accompanied by some inanimate friends. And thus, I present to you, Correos Still Life.
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