iPad Baby Apps

July 13, 2010 By: erik Category: Geeky, Offspring, Parenting, Videos 2,399 views

iPad Baby AppsWe continue to encourage Nora to play with her iPad. She definitely like the sounds it makes; her favorite is the oinking pig, which she likes to dance to. While she clearly understands that she needs to touch the screen, but she tends to be too quick in her pokes, and her actions either result in dragging the icons around or the icon she’s going for is simply not triggered because her touch is so fast. At the moment, the iPad remains a “noise box” to her, but I have little doubt she will learn to control it within the next year. And then it’s just a matter of time before the Pentagon gets hacked.
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Spain Wins The World Cup!

July 12, 2010 By: erik Category: Partying, Photos, Soccer, Spain 584 views

Spanish FamilyWe began World Cup final Sunday evening by heading to nearby Laredo, where we’d heard there might be a big screen set up on the beach. We were certain that we couldn’t take a 15.5 month old child to an enclosed space with Spanish fans because she’d die of fright from all the screams. We discovered that the beach screen was only a rumor, and the real big screen was in the old town hall square. We took one look at how packed the square was with people and turned around and headed back towards Colindres, but not before spotting a group of old ladies wearing red-yellow-red striped headbands singing A Por Ellos.

Once back in our home town, we chose our favorite soccer-viewing bar, El Vapor (The Steam), which is only about two hundred meters from our house. The twin brother of our friend with the restaurant in Laredo was already seated at a prime table, and he informed us that he was leaving before the game began and promised us his table. We would spend the game outside on the sidewalk looking into the bar through the glass to a projected screen. And it was a good thing we were outside, because, well, let’s just say that inside the bar, it lived up to its name.
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The Clothes Pin Game

July 09, 2010 By: erik Category: Games, Offspring, Videos 702 views

The Clothes Pin GameOne of Nora’s new favorite games involves clothes pins. In Spain, most people live in apartments and almost no one has a clothes drier, so everyone dries their clothes by hanging them from their balcony, which is often overlooking an internal courtyard of the building, not the street. As a result, every Spanish house has a bag or basket of clothes pins on their balcony. The game involves her mother placing her on a window ledge to the balcony where we keep our clothes pin basket. Nora proceeds to pull clothes pins out of the basket and throw them on the floor, expecting her mother to pick them up. They have a great time playing this game.
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World Cup Final 2010: Beer Can Edition

July 08, 2010 By: erik Category: Photos, Soccer, Spain 272 views

World Cup Final: Beer Can EditionIce cold beer cans glistening with condensation…what better way to celebrate Holland and Spain making it to the finals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. One of them will win their first ever World Cup. Who will it be? I don’t know, but I’m going to be drinking some ice cold lager and enjoying every minute of the game.
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Spanish Soccer Chants – World Cup

July 08, 2010 By: erik Category: News, Soccer, Spain 18,682 views

Go Spain! (cropped)Over the course of the World Cup 2010, I have seen increased traffic to my utterly useless page about Spanish soccer chants. So I have decided to write this page to actually inform the curious internet searchers about what those crazy Spanish soccer fans are on about.
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Pulpo Paul: The Psychic Cephalopod

July 06, 2010 By: erik Category: Skepticism, Soccer, Videos, Weird 740 views

thumbToday I walked into my local grocery store and said with a wink, “Hey, do you guys sell German flags? I want to hang one on my balcony.” (Hanging the Spanish flag on one’s balcony is a common way to show support for the Spanish World Cup team who will face off against Germany tomorrow in the semi-finals.) My grocer friend, Andrés, said, “Have you heard the story of Pulpo Paul (Paul the Octopus)?” I assumed he was about to tell me a didactic Aesop-esque fairy tale about why one shouldn’t be such a cheeky jerk, but he turns to the checkout computer and pulls up this internet video to show me…
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July 4th Party – Hamburgerfest 2010

July 05, 2010 By: erik Category: Food, Partying, Photos, USA 114 views

July Fourth HamburgerfestWe had another successful Hamburgerfest this year for July 4th, with friends Agustin, Ana, Ivan, Veronica, Manolo, Elena, José Luis, and Azucena attending. In 2009, we came up almost short on hamburger meat, so this year we decided to make sure that definitely didn’t happen. As a result, we have about eight hamburgers left over to freeze or eat this week. Nora was very well behaved with the guests once her initial “who are all these people in my living room??” confusion wore off. And they were very good about warming up to her slowly. Agustin fed her a pretty big portion of his dessert of flan, ice cream and whipped cream, which endeared him to her at least for the duration of the dessert course.
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Almost standing, Almost walking

June 30, 2010 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Videos 117 views

Almost standingNora is standing nervously on the branch of Babyhood, contemplating taking the plunge into Toddlerdom. No longer content to sit and play with an object, she must be upright and moving at all times. Unfortunately, her sense of balance is more or less equivalent to that of a World Cup striker in the penalty area.

At the moment, she requires, and demands, a helping hand to hold her as she walks, but every day she is using that hand for balance less and less. Even worse than this stage when she can pull herself up, but doesn’t yet know how to fall (she arches her back so her cranium hits the floor first) is the stage we are entering in which she needs to teeter along solo, but you have to have your arms there to catch her if she falls. We are not yet ready to let her start falling all over the place yet, since she does it so badly.
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Oyster Mushrooms

June 28, 2010 By: erik Category: Experiments, Food, Photography, Photos, Timelapse, Videos 718 views

Oyster MushroomsAs soon as I learned that my friend and grocery store manager, Andrés, cultivates mushrooms, I knew immediately that we had to do a timelapse photography project with his next batch. The particular species he cultivates is Pleurotus ostreatus, the oyster mushroom. He buys preprepared bails of hay wrapped in plastic, to which nutrients, mushroom spores, and water have been added. Holes have been cut in the plastic on the top and sides of the bail. Before you can see any mushroom growth, the whole bail gets warm to the touch, as the nutrient consumption begins inside. When the little fungal sprigs started appearing in the holes, Andrés came to me, with a big grin on his face, and said, “Today’s the day!” So I returned that afternoon and set up the tripod, flash, and intervalometer pointing at the bails of hay in his grocery store’s warehouse right down the street from where I live. And then we waited…
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Why I love the World Cup

June 24, 2010 By: erik Category: Musings, Soccer 343 views

World Cup 2010 South AfricaI enjoy watching soccer. Aside from the occasional beautifully executed maneuver, however, soccer, like all sports, is boring as hell if you don’t care who wins. My biggest problem with soccer is mustering enough energy to care who wins. I did a better job this past year following the Spanish Liga, choosing allegiance with the local team, Racing Santander, even reading the sports newspaper, Marca, in a bar at least once a week. But the effort required to keep up with player trades, injuries, and rumors is more than a little exhausting…all in an attempt to generate some emotional attachment to teams or players.
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