Garlic and Water, Blog Name Idea

June 04, 2014 By: erik Category: Musings, Photos

10.365Where I work, whenever we start a new project, we often don’t yet know what the final product (usually a website) will be called, but we need a name to refer to the project. The way we generate internal code names is through a word association exercise. For example, one of the projects we’re working on now involves golf. Thinking of golf makes me think of Jack Nicklaus, whose nickname was The Golden Bear, so we named the project Ursa, which is short, nice and pronounceable and quick to type…and means “bear” in Latin.
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Conversations with a bilingual preschooler: Overtranslation

October 08, 2013 By: erik Category: Funny, Offspring, Parenting, Spain, Spanish

Bottle CapThe other day I was out walking with my bilingual four-year-old daughter, and we passed a pair of elderly women. One of them was carrying a plastic bag full of plastic bottle caps to recycle, probably for charity. Out of the blue, my daughter begins this conversation:

“Do you know what Grandpa likes to do?”

“No, what?”

“He likes to go to bars and get tops.”

“Tops?”

“Like bottle tops.”

[huge burst of laughter!]
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Spanish Lesson for New Parents

September 27, 2013 By: erik Category: Parenting, Spain, Spanish

Small CollarWhen you learn a second language, apart from the grammar rules, you obtain a very thinly spread vocabulary of a variety of subjects. But when you’re living in a country that speaks that foreign language, and you delve into a hobby, like camping or sailing or carpentry, you realize that there is a whole new fractal universe of domain-specific vocabulary, words for all the nouns and verbs associated with a specific activity. One such example of a new domain that they don’t teach very deeply in textbooks is all the vocabulary that goes with having and caring for a baby. I have two fellow Americans In Spain that are pregnant, so I thought I’d write a post outlining some vocabulary every parent in Spain needs.
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Home Economics 101 – How To Iron

January 11, 2013 By: erik Category: Offspring, Videos

How To Iron - ThumbnailI have a very vivid memory from my Developmental Psychology class in college about a study in which a diapered infant was given to adults to babysit for a short time. Half of the babysitters were told that the infant was a boy and half that it was a girl. The half that were told it was a boy went to the toy chest and selected cars and hammers to play with, and the half told it was a girl selected dolls and combs and kitchenware. The experiment did an excellent job of calling into doubt the origin, Nature or Nurture, of our societal gender stereotypes.

When I learned I would have a daughter I promised myself that I would make every effort to not provide her any gender stereotypes. I’ve never bought her any pink toys or “girly” stuff.
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Gender Pop Quiz – Sunflowers, Daisies and Toilets

January 09, 2013 By: erik Category: Musings, Photos, Spanish

DaisyThe other day I went out to a restaurant owned by a friend of mine. They’d recently renovated the place and all the colors and designs were changed. About halfway through my meal, I received a call from Nature and got up to answer it. Once through the door marked “Aseos” (Restrooms), there is a sink, and two more doors. One with a photo of a sunflower and the other with a daisy. Which door should I use?
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A Guide To Spanish Meal Names

February 16, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Spain, Spanish, Travel

Beans and Wild BoarLearning the words for the meals of the day is difficult any time you change cultures, whether you change languages or not. In different parts of the US, for instance, the word “dinner” can either refer to the meal at midday or in the evening. It took me years of living the UK to realize that “having tea” doesn’t only refer to imbibing an infusion, but can often refer to the evening meal. In Spain, most people eat three main meals each day, but there are words for five meals. Confused? Let’s have a look…
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Talking on the phone with Abuela

February 03, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Parenting, Spanish, Videos

Talking with abuela (thumbnail)I’ve been focusing lately on Nora’s English, as my readers are more likely to understand her, but I thought I’d post some videos showcasing her Spanish development. One of Nora’s favorite pastimes is talking on the phone with her abuela (Spanish grandmother). There are times when Nora is entertained with some other task and won’t even take the phone, but there are other times where they have spoken for more than an hour, once to the point where Nora got a little hoarse. It’s very much a stream of consciousness sort of conversation, with Nora at the helm, and her abuela interjecting comments here or there to keep up the flow, sticking around long after I would’ve bored of the conversation.
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SOPA y PIPA

January 18, 2012 By: erik Category: Fighting Stupidity, Funny, Internet, Spanish

Vota contra SOPA y PIPAThe internet has pretty much shut down today. Well, most of the sites that make the internet entertaining, such as Fark, Reddit, The Oatmeal and Wikipedia. They are protesting possible US Congressional legislation that could potentially give the US Government the power to shut down any internet site that any corporation claims is violating copyright laws. This “shoot first, ask questions later” approach is rather ridiculous to anyone that takes even the briefest moment to consider the consequences. Learn more here. Anyway, I thought I’d join in the protest by providing a graphic that uses some images to playfully demonstrate what these acronyms mean in Spanish.
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Arguing with Rubén

November 07, 2011 By: erik Category: Funny, Offspring, Videos

Arguing with Rubén (thumbnail)One of Nora’s favorite pastimes lately is having imaginary arguments over the phone, usually with her friends from daycare or her daycare provider, but sometimes with her grandparents. Somehow, she latched on to one poor lad named Rubén and has ceaseless fights with him “over the phone”, perhaps giving a glimpse into boy troubles that await us in adolescence. Just like when she used to pretend to yell at another daycare classmate, I suspect that this poor Rubén fellow is completely innocent of all the charges he’s being accused of on a daily, hourly, and minutely basis, but it’s seems to be all real in Nora’s mind. Unfortunately, Rubén is one of the few kids at daycare that doesn’t have a mugshot next to his cubbyhole, so I don’t even know what he looks like. He certainly has Nora’s attention, though.
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No Me Duermo – I’m Not Falling Asleep

September 15, 2011 By: erik Category: Offspring, Religion, Spain, Spanish, Videos

No me duermo (thumbnail)Today is a local holiday honoring the Virgin of the Good Apparition, a bit of pareidolia that occurred back in 1605 where some light reflecting off a nearby hermitage window reminded someone of the Virgin Mary. Three hundred years later, this particular virgin became the patron saint of the Santander Diocese, and it became a regional holiday. Quite a few people walk the 13 kilometers, mostly uphill, from Colindres to the Bien Aparecida church in Ampuero, and then there are picnics and music and a general festive atmosphere up there…or so I’m told. We’ll have to do the walk one year.
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