On Protests

February 23, 2017 By: erik Category: Musings, Politics 23 views

ProtestFor much of my adult life, I have been rather cynical about the value of protests, people rallying in the streets with big poster signs, in opposition to whatever decision those in power have made. I have watched news coverage of thousands upon thousands of people protest everything from the Iraq War to local taxation laws to Occupy Wall St. And with all that effort, I have not seen a single thing gained. The Wall St. fat cats suffered not one iota, the Iraq War went on as planned, and the local government did whatever the hell they wanted.
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Nora and Ian’s first time in the snow

January 22, 2017 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Travel, Videos 128 views

Nora and Ian's first snowIn the twelve years I have lived in this town, it has snowed once such that it stuck for a few hours. It very rarely gets down to zero degrees Celsius here at sea level. Unlike their cousin, Xander, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who needs a snow shovel to even leave his house for 5 months of the year, our kids have never really experienced snow.

In past years, we have seen photos of Nora’s classmates playing in the snow. Because we live right next to the mountains, it’s possible to drive a bit into the mountains and find snow, but we never have. Mainly because the kids never had any appropriate clothing for rolling around in frozen water. This year, we were determined to do it, so we bought the kids snow clothes. This weekend was the first weekend after a week of cold precipitation (rain here, snow in the mountains), so we decided to do it. Unfortunately we still didn’t have appropriate shoes, so on Saturday we went to the mall to buy the remaining shoes and gloves, and on Sunday morning we left for the hills.
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Inauguration Emotions

January 20, 2017 By: erik Category: Photos, USA 141 views

2017 Donald Trump InaugurationWell, it’s been eight years. Eight years of holding my head high as an American expat, proud of my nation and its great (but never flawless) government. During the George W. Bush years, I shut down so many “Why on earth would your country do X?” conversations with, “I don’t know, man, I apologize…” Under Obama that happened – hold on, let me count – never. The Spaniards in my town with whom I am in regular contact did nothing but praise the US leadership.
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La Vijanera – Cantabria’s Pagan Nature Festival

January 08, 2017 By: erik Category: Partying, Spain, Travel 94 views

La Vijanera - SilióSeveral years ago, I became aware of this truly bizarre festival celebrated in Cantabria, my region of Spain, on the first Sunday of every year. Since learning of its existence, we have always been busy doing some other family thing winding down Christmas when it is held, but this year we finally made it! The festival is called La Vijanera, and it is the most pagan thing I’ve seen since I took down our Christmas tree yesterday.
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Picturesque Basque Islet – San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

December 12, 2016 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel 126 views

San Juan GaztelugatxeOn Saturday, my family and I went to a local tourist destination that I have been wanting to visit for some time now: the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. It has got to be one of the most photogenic spots I’ve seen on the northern coast of Spain. Especially near the solstice, with the sun low in the southern sky, the geographic wonder was back lit to great photographic effect. It’s so photogenic, in fact, that it will be appearing in Season 7 of a little tv show called Game of Thrones. They have already done the filming.
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Gavilanes 2016

September 23, 2016 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel 128 views

Gavilanes 2016On the weekend of September 10 and 11, 2016, my wife and kids and sister-in-law drove five and a half hours south to a little mountain village called Gavilanes near Ávila. If someone told you to put a pin on a map in the dead center of the Iberian peninsula, not just Spain, you would probably skewer Gavilanes. Why did we choose this place? It is the home town of the husband, Óscar, of my wife and sister’s second cousin, Lourdes. Óscar and Lourdes attended my wedding, and the second cousins recently reconnected and released how much they liked each other recently on a sisters’ road trip to Madrid, where they live. Óscar and Lourdes brought their 11-year-old son, Daniel, who was great with our kids, and we all stayed in a house that belongs to Óscar’s mother.
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Ian’s First Day of School

September 09, 2016 By: erik Category: News, Parenting, Photos 185 views

Ian's First Day of School (cropped)Yesterday, September 8, 2016, was Ian’s first day of school. As is natural, he has been very excited to attend the same school as his hero and older sister, Nora. He knows that name of the school and has been telling everyone all summer that he will be starting. I think he kind of thought that he would be sitting next to Nora in her second grade class, but I think he understands now that he’s entering at a different level.
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Rosario Flores in Colindres

August 28, 2016 By: erik Category: Music, Spain, Videos 119 views

Rosario Flores - ColindresLast night, my sleepy little fishing village, population seven thousand, managed to scrape together enough tax funds1 to afford to provide a free concert by two-time Latin Grammy Award winning artist, Rosario Flores. I became aware of her in 2002, shortly after dropping all my things and moving to England to live with my future wife, when our mutual flatmate, a Spanish girl, brought back a Rosario CD, Muchas Flores (one of her Grammy wins), from Spain. She also is a member of the elite group of five or six of artists for whom we have CDs that live in the glove box of our car, so over the years, I have learned some of her songs.
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Hiking in Cantabria – Balconada del Cerreo

August 22, 2016 By: erik Category: Photos, Spain, Travel 200 views

Balconada del Cerreo, RasinesThis past Sunday, with the kids summering with their grandparents down south, my wife and I signed up for a hike organized by the local tourism board. It was advertised as: Subida a la balconada del Cerreo, 4:30 hours, 600 meter change (Medium Difficulty). We thought, “600 meters! That’s nothing!” Of course the 600 meters is really only measuring the difference from the lowest to the highest point. While it was quite as high as the Pico de las Nieves, which you can drive almost all the way up to, we did end up with a very nice view from which we could have hit our house with a laser.
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Travel Pro Tip: Don’t Lose Your Passport(s)

June 14, 2016 By: erik Category: Complaining, Family, Travel, USA 322 views

Papers PleaseOn Saturday, we made our annual family trek to the American Homeland to visit the family. The children behaved absolutely admirably, with Nora, having just finished first grade (actually we took her out two weeks early), taking the gold medal by entertaining herself completely with the in-flight entertainment and later some iPad games. Ian was a little more of a handful, raising and lowering his tray table roughly one million times in the nine hour flight. Luckily the seat in front of him was unoccupied.
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