Sports is a socially acceptable outlet for xenophobia

June 19, 2015 By: erik Category: Musings, Soccer

Your Team SucksToday I heard one of the best explanations for sports fandom that I’ve ever heard. The team sports as war tribalism metaphor has been obvious to me for a while. What I want to discuss today is not how it feels to be a player, but more about the sports fan culture that is built up around different teams. As someone who doesn’t really participate in that – although I try every four years – it can be confusing seeing photos of my peers dressing their children in team colors and making really derogatory hateful comments about other teams and fans of other teams. But it has finally clicked for me as to why sports is so important.

The Fourth Mask: Parenting Airline Travel Tip

September 28, 2014 By: erik Category: Funny, Musings, Parenting, Travel

Airline Family SelfieThis weekend my family and I took a one hour flight to the other side of the peninsula. It served as sort of a dry run for next weekend when we will fly ten times further. My 17-month-old son is still allowed to ride on a parent’s lap, and doesn’t yet require his own seat, which is great, especially for our transatlantic hop, where the prices are non-trivial.

For those of you that have never had the pleasure of flying with another human on top of you, the airline provides a little baby belt that has a loop in it to put the adult’s seatbelt through so your offspring isn’t offsprung during extreme turbulence.

A friend finder app that respects privacy

September 03, 2014 By: erik Category: Geeky, Musings

Anybody here?Ever since smart phones became endowed with GPS, the apps that attempt to show you where your friends are have become as ubiquitous as the horrified privacy backlash against them. I cannot claim to have ever really used such apps because I live in a rural community, most of my best friends are sprinkled sparsely across the globe, and the friends that I do meet up with are either not that tech savvy, use a different smart phone OS, or have the more common sense about the privacy problems than geeky desire to test out what an app can do.

Business Idea: Airfare Limit Orders

May 12, 2014 By: erik Category: Musings, Travel

toy planeEvery time I shop for airline tickets, I find myself thinking about how little sense airfare prices make to me, and I’m reminded of the variability of the stock market. There are so many forces and variables acting on the price of a stock (or an airfare) that prediction becomes a matter of guessing probabilities where even the experts don’t really have much of a clue. The frustration at checking airline prices reminds me very much of that of playing the stock market. Prices seem to fluctuate for no reason and deciding when to make a transaction is painfully difficult…and the price seems to always go in the wrong direction right after you buy.

I don’t understand information crimes

August 17, 2012 By: erik Category: Anarchy, Musings, Politics, USA

whistleLet’s say I have a secret. Perhaps I’m gay, or I secretly won the lottery, or I killed a guy once, or I have a terminal disease, or I’m in witness protection, or I’m embezzling money from my employer, or I’m having an affair, or I have a supernumerary nipple. Whatever it is, it’s absolutely true, but no one knows it, and I’d prefer that it stays that way. Now let’s say you somehow discover my secret and you tell everyone. What moral, ethical or legal lines have you just crossed?

Why does do church bells chime every fifteen minutes?

January 23, 2012 By: erik Category: Musings, Religion, Spain

Bell TowerWhere I grew up, there weren’t any church bells that I could hear from my house, but there was one in the center of town near the municipal recreation center, where I spent many hours of my youth. As a kid, I became quite fond of that Big Ben tune that preceded the hourly chimes.

Socialism and Liberal Morals

February 02, 2011 By: erik Category: Politics, Spain

I live in a country where the two dominant parties are The Socialist Workers’ Party and The People’s Party, both of which would be regarded as immorally Communist by half of my countrymen (the third place is The United Left!). With decent unemployment benefits and almost free healthcare to all, even the far right Spanish politicians are to the left of most Democrats in the United States.

By becoming a parent, I have been introduced to a lot of Spain’s socialist help-the-poor policies. Simply by procreating, my wife and I were eligible for 2,500€ “baby check” in government funds, a measure introduced in 2007 (and scrapped in 2011) to try to raise Spain’s birthrate. My region of Cantabria provides additional subsidies for child-bearers.

German Cars Make People Speed

January 11, 2011 By: erik Category: England, Musings, Spain, USA

Autumn BenzIn the countries I’ve lived and driven in, I’ve noticed some differences between how people drive on the motorway (that’s like the “interstate” for you yanks). In England, people tend to drive with an unparalleled politeness. They will happily move over to let you pass, make room for you to merge in, or brake so you can change lanes ahead of them. Spaniards, on the other hand, are just as selfish as the Brits are selfless. In Spain, everyone assumes that you will also behave selfishly, so when you try to be polite to other drivers, they get confused or don’t trust that you’re really letting them merge. The Americans are somewhere in between.

Why Christmas Is No Longer Special

January 06, 2011 By: erik Category: Family, Parenting, Partying, Spain

thumbToday is Kings Day, the traditional gift giving day in Catholic Spain. For people who prefer Christmas to be more about Baby Jesus than the North Pole, it makes more sense to give gifts on Epiphany, when tradition says that the Wise Men allegedly gave gifts to Jesus.

This morning, my mother-in-law articulated a concern I’ve been feeling but had yet to put into words:

Social Networking and Flight Search Mashup Idea

November 02, 2010 By: erik Category: Internet, Musings

Suitcase SamI’ve got some extra vacation time to spend this year. I’d like to travel somewhere, but I don’t have any ideas. For the longest time I really wanted an app to show me all the places I can go from my local airport on a given week, but no one had anything like this. Recently, however, I have been blown away by the Kayak iPad app, which does just that, plus price range and temperature range sliders, and even checkboxes for pastimes like skiing, golf, beach, etc. It’s amazing.

But what I really want, and I suspect there are clever people coding this as I type, is a way to combine information from my social networks, primarily Facebook, with flight searches to find the best deals to go see my friends.