New Sounds

January 05, 2010 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos 36 views

thumbIt’s curious to watch Nora, who is now nine months old, learn to make new sounds with her mouth. She regularly says “Papapapapa”, “Mamamama”, and “Dadadada”, although I remain unconvinced that she assigns any significance to these utterances. Just before Christmas she learned to “blow a raspberry“, a skill she uses with higher frequency when moving in her stroller or in the car. I like to think that she’s imitating a motor, but so far she hasn’t learned to switch gears. On one particular walk over the Christmas holidays, I had to wipe her chin about every fifteen meters because it was soaked with saliva expelled during said sonic production; that is when I shot the video you see below. Her vocal creativity is positively correlated with boredom, so if you talk to her or give her attention in any way (like pointing a video camera at her), she immediately stops. It’s only in moments of inattention that she feels the need to entertain herself.
Read the rest of this entry →

It's all speculative

January 04, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Media, Musings, Stuff I Found 68 views

Today I stumbled on this awesome speech written and given by Michael Crichton back in 2002 about speculation, and how the media – which he defines as movies, television, internet, books, newspapers, and magazines – is, to a large extent, a gurgling blob of useless drivel. It’s a shame that he probably didn’t get to watch much of the farcical climax of vacuous speculation that was the 2008 US presidential election, as he died on the day Obama got elected. My favorite part of the article is how he talks about the fallacy that we all commit (a recent favorite topic of mine) when we read the newspaper, or receive information from any news source for that matter.
Read the rest of this entry →

Europe, home of Leonardo and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin art

January 04, 2010 By: erik Category: Complaining, Marketing, Politics, Weird 423 views

Europe, home of Da Vinci and Michelangelo, uses stick figures for coin artYesterday, as I was digging through my coins to pay for a cool European lager, I happened to glance at the artwork on the heads (Or tails? Who can tell anymore?) side of the coin. At first I thought it was some kind of joke currency or bizarre token that someone had slipped me in mistake or trickery. So I saved it, pretty sure it couldn’t be real. But lo and behold, it’s a special 2009 commemorative 2€ coin. To quote the Official Journal of the European Union (PDF):
Read the rest of this entry →

A Basque Chrismas with Olentzero

December 30, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Mondragon, Offspring, Partying, Photos 335 views

Opening presents is the best!On Christmas Eve night in the Basque Country, the homes of little children are visited by an enormous, soot-stained, Basque gentleman in a beret who drops off presents. His name is Olentzero. The history of this tradition and its variations is quite fascinating. In fact, when people give gifts on Christmas, there is much less emphasis (than in my culture) on who the gift is from. It’s just, “Here’s your Olentzero”, where the name also is slang for the gift itself. Surprising no one, Nora was the biggest recipient of gifts from the big burly Basque this year.
Read the rest of this entry →

Abandonment Issues

December 28, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Offspring, Parenting, Photos, Spain 120 views

Cutie BasqueFor pretty much all of December my wife’s family has been pressuring us to leave Nora with them for Santo Tomás (December 22), a huge festival in their town of Mondragon involving special seasonal foods, getting dressed up in traditional Basque clothing, traditional Basque music and dancing, and a crafts and livestock market. The main reason they wanted her was to dress her up in some traditional Basque clothes. Some part of our human brain finds it incredibly adorable to dress up a small child (or chimpanzee) in clothes we associate more with adult humans.
Read the rest of this entry →

Visiting Colindres in December

December 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Colindres, Family, Partying, Photos, Spain, Travel 470 views

The following is a document written by my father, Paul Rasmussen, about his recent trip to visit us in December 2009.

Nora with American GrandparentsBetsy and I had been looking forward to meeting our granddaughter in August. We would visit southern Spain, where Erik\’s Spanish family vacations every summer, and meet our granddaughter then. As her birth approached, however, it seemed like too much would be missed if we didn’t see Nora before then, so in May we traveled to Colindres and stayed a week with Erik, Marga, and Nora. We had a great time, and another great time when we visited in August. In September, however, I felt uncomfortable not knowing when we would visit them again, so we made plans for a visit in May of 2010. In November, May seemed too far away, so we bought tickets for a trip to Colindres in December, returning to Morganton a week before Christmas. This time we flew from Charlotte to Atlanta to Paris, and from Paris to Bilbao. A week after arriving we would return through Paris, flying to Detroit and then Charlotte. Erik said that most if not all of his winter coats would fit me, and I might consider saving space by not bringing a coat, and that is what I did. We packed just two suit cases, one full of presents, and the other with clothes.
Read the rest of this entry →

Christmas Came Early This Year

December 23, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Partying, Photos, USA 257 views

Big box for NoraAt our house this year, we had Christmas morning on the evening of December 16th. This was mainly because it was the last night my parents were visiting and giving gifts is much better when you can see the look on the recipient’s face as they open their presents. Plus, the more the merrier. To begin the ceremony, my father announced the system our family has used for as long as I can remember to inform the three first-time participants, Marga, Belén, and Nora.

The youngest family member able to do so shall pull gifts from the tree one by one, announcing who each one is from and to, and deliver it to its recipient. The recipient shall thereby open the gift while everyone watches and thank the giver. Repeat until there are no more presents under the tree, whilst trying to alternate recipients as much as possible.

This year, the youngest able present distributor was Belén. It just so happened that we had a perfect hat for her to wear throughout the ceremony.
Read the rest of this entry →

Semana del Pincho 2 – Laredo

December 22, 2009 By: erik Category: Food, Partying, Photos, Spain 433 views

II Semana Del Pincho Brochure (cover)Just when I had almost forgotten about the First Annual Tapa Week from last December, it rolled around again and we celebrated the Second Annual Tapa Week this past week in nearby Laredo, Spain. I must say that this is quickly becoming my favorite festival of the year. There is little better in this world than going from bar to bar with friends and enjoying a fine wine and an elaborately constructed snack with each wine.

And it’s not just that I’m a glutton for…er…gluttony. As I mentioned last year, there are several reasons why I am in favor of this festival as a general local citizen. It gets people out into local establishments, spending money and applying social lubricant, it provides a stage for local restaurateurs to showcase their craft, and it generally makes for a more contented populous. Triple win!
Read the rest of this entry →

Nora's First Christmas

December 18, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Offspring, Partying, Photos, Spain, USA 243 views

Christmas Tree 2009When my parents came to visit last week, they brought two suitcases, one for clothes and one for Christmas presents. So for the first time our little plastic Christmas tree looked like it should, rising up from a sea of wrapped toys and books and other goodies. In Spain (in my family at least), there is no tradition of putting presents under the tree to incite anticipatory speculation torture like we have in the United States. Here you just give the gift on Christmas or Epiphany and the wrapping paper only serves to conceal the item for about seven seconds before it is ripped open. They don’t know what they are missing.
Read the rest of this entry →

The Feeding Mirror

December 17, 2009 By: erik Category: Family, Funny, Offspring, Parenting, Photos 101 views

Grandpa feeding Nora (crop)During their visit, my parents very much enjoyed feeding their granddaughter her lunchtime vegetable puree and her afternoon fruit. Feeding Nora is one of the best times (both frustrating and adorable) I usually get to spend with her, and I delighted in the opportunity to share the experience with my folks. In my couple months of feeding her from a spoon, have found that it is pretty much impossible to feed her without opening your mouth big when you want her to do the same. It’s a natural human reflex. The fact that she has not yet reached the point where she can mimic the body movements of someone else does not stop us (me, my wife, my parents, and everyone I’ve seen feed her) from trying to will her mouth open with our own gaping jaw. It’s quite a funny phenomenon.
Read the rest of this entry →