Monday, March 31, 2008

Ohhhhh sand between my toes.

Hi all, I'm back, photos to follow, but I found this over at Hula Girl and it is so me! Even Eldest thought so!

You Are Bare Feet

You are a true free spirit, and you can't be tied down.

Even wearing shoes can be a little too constraining for you at times!

You are very comfortable in your own skin.

You are one of the most real people around. You don't have anything to hide.

Open and accepting, you are willing to discuss or entertain almost any topic.

You are a very tolerant person. You are accepting and not judgmental.

You should live: Somewhere warm

You should work: At your own business, where you can set the rules

Friday, March 28, 2008

Out a here...

I'm off again, Amsterdam this time.

All by myself.

How weird.

Back on Monday with some pics.

I want to, want to, want to go to the Van Gogh museum, even if I have to skip out on some of what I have to do there.

If you want to see some photos of where I'll be, go on over to Nomad who just got back from a week there. Too bad we couldn't have worked the timing out on that a little better, but what can you do.

I won't get to see as much, she had a week and no obligations....but still!

Have a great weekend,



later...I just got this e-mail from the unnamed airline I will be flying with this weekend...

XXXXXXX airline continually aims to offer the best services at the lowest possible prices for those passengers to place their thrust in its flights;

Seems I am going to have to get out and push!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I was off at the dentist today. Everybody's favourite place. Though my kids actually said that they both like going! And yes, they have had cavities and needles. Something is going right in the world of dentistry today.

I was being fitted for a bite guard. I think that's what you call them, one of those plastic jobbies some folks wear at night to stop them grinding their teeth. Well, I don't think I grind my teeth in my sleep, but my jaw is one clicking swinging grinding mess when it opens and closes, and the approved treatment is one of these oh-so-romantic things. Good thing I've been married a while now.

It also keeps me from hurting my teeth when I am lying on my stomach and the weight of my head is resting on my jaw and teeth...leaving me with an ache in the morning sometimes.

It was quite a vocabulary challenge doing this in Catalan. Especially as she was wearing a mask, and using that (horrid) drill job to grind down the guard to make it fit better. *gasp*

One of the things that is fun about my job though is that today alone I have discussed the quirks of Catalan, Spanish and English phonetics, grammar and syntax, done extensive vocabulary around the parts of the body...jugular vein and aorta level, not head and shoulders.... discussed art in Holland, sung three national anthems, and heard two sung for me, played a wicked game or six of go fish (excellent for questions and answers as well as numbers), taped a (too quiet/tech problem) version of the ABC song, and scraped out of the dregs of my memory this little rhyme, lets see if you know it too:

Star light
Star bright
First star I see tonight

I wish I may
I wish I might
Get the wish I wish tonight

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The evil eye

I was in the grocery store today around 11:45, mid-morning here, doing my now tri-weekly-or-so shop. (How many more hyphens could I have put in that sentence?) Do you remember? If I spend more than 75 Euros, I get free delivery. Let me tell you, spending that much is not a problem.

There I was in a blessedly empty store, cruising the aisles, filling my rather puny cart and then another, I wheel up to the cash, there are only two and one is closed. This is a very small store by NA standards.

Suddenly, as I am standing there, every single old lady in the store wants to check out simultaneously. Behind me. Forming a giant queue. By the time I get to the cash, there were a few people in front of me, I had a line of about fifteen or seventeen glaring old ladies.

Good think I had a little purse with me that has one of those glass amulets for warding off the evil eye....(thanks Mom) Goodness gracious me. The old ladies might not have approved if I had started flicking that Italian two finger gesture for warding off the evil eye. Do you know that one? How to describe it...with your thumb, hold down the two middle fingers on the same hand, so you should have a fairly closed palm with the index and baby fingers still standing up. Hold it crosswise across your chest, palm in, over you heart or somewhere near there, fingers pointing slightly up and in, now flick your wrist hard and twist it so at the end your hand ends up palm parallel with the floor and your fingers are aimed out at whomever you think is sending you the evil eye. Go ahead, I'm waiting.

It just doesn't seem polite does it.

Maybe this isn't only an Italian thing, and maybe not all Italians, but most of the Italians I know use this gesture, most hilariously when they are on the phone with someone they don't like or trust.

I digress.

My little evil eye charm, those blue glass jobbies with the concentric white and black circles, seems to have worked.

The lady at the cash, after dealing with the line rather grumpily, and after another cash opened, turned to me and gave me a pair of plastic give-away bowls for the girls, then she turned her back on the line, gave me a big fat wink and said it was because I had bought so much.

Go figure.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hi ho, hi ho, it's back to ........

Am I the only one out there feeling REALLY REALLY back to work?


I am so overwhelmed. I can actually feel the gears in my head having to grind up a pace or two.

This used to happen when we got off the boat. We were capable of great concentration for long periods of time, but boy oh boy could I ever notice it when I started having to try to manage about sixteen disconnected and disjointed things at once.

Same same.


OK 'nuff said.

I have recently put up an album of photos over at the Canadian Geographic Photo Club page - in all my spare time. I figure I am Canadian so it must count even if very few/none of my photos were taken in Canada. Note to self, post SOMETHING from Canada.

It's kind of fun to put them out there in a place that is dedicated to photography which I have been enjoying doing. Though I don't have a photo to post for you today.

Here's the page for the photo club, if you click on Members gallery (with a grammatical error, there should be an apostrophe after member)(I know, blah blah blah) then scroll WAY WAY down to - big surprise here, Oreneta's album, there I will be. Alternately you could just go here and see what I have put up. There isn't much, I think they deliberately make it slow and somewhat onerous so we don't waste their space instead of using flickr, it keeps the quality up. The photos I have posted will probably all look familiar to any regular readers, but what the heck, take a look if you like.

Wishing you all a happy back to work week. *gasp*

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm back, and so much has happened!

First of all, I got back and there was a fantastic package of books waiting for me! A present from Beth ooooh, all the reading I can start to do. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!

Now, London was FREEZING. I know I know, what am I complaining about after the winter that many of you had...but it SNOWED! I was seriously under-dressed, but fortunately my folks helped out with some bits and pieces to wear.

We had a fantastic time. We went to the Royal Academy an saw an exhibit of French and Russian paintings out from St. Petersburg and Moscow. It was incredible...some of my favourites were this one, and this one plus some Gauguins, this was my favourite. We also saw a fantastic Renoir and some Monet as well. There were some interesting Russian works as well, though they were, by and large, visibly inferior. The kids enjoyed it quite a bit as well. There was one painting by one of the Russians that I adored, and they even had a postcard of it, but I'll be a monkeys uncle if I can find it right now...I'll post a photo of it later.

We wandered past Buckingham Palace

which, miracle of miracles, was doing the changing of the guards...we didn't see all that much but other tourists, but it was still pretty neat. On the way we saw this monument to Canadian Soldiers...

We went on to a DELICIOUS pub lunch near here,

Does that not look intensely British? I cannot put my finger on why...I think it must have to do with the colour of the bricks.

I had bangers and mash as well as tea and lemonade, we also got pork scratchings, as in deep fried pig skin and fat...mmmmmm mmmmmm goooood....

The only surprise for me at lunch is featured in the following photo...see? What's wrong with this photo...remember this is within spitting distance of the royal palace.

We went off down to Big Ben, yes Beth I said Hi for you...

And then on down to Westminster Abbey which was closed largely for the Easter festivities, though we got in and saw a bit.

Finally we went down to the river. I cannot resist water and boats, so here are some for you,

We went and saw Spamalot that night which was hilarious, the kids had a fantastic time. The covered every single solitary cliché out there, though Eldest pointed out that the wedding chapel in Vegas should have had an Elvis impersonator. A funny comment, though it makes me wonder how she would know that.

Here's the snow...I know. No sympathy from anyone....

Here's another photo, I cannot end with snow.

The man said that Chuck was acting strangely with all of us gone. Chuck kept following him around the house and staring at him like something out of a Hitchcock. Staring and staring with a penetrating question in his eyes, "Where did you bury the bodies????"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Off for a bit

Hi there,

I'm off for a few days to London....gotta get the kids!

Back Sunday or Monday...have a great weekend.


Thursday, March 20, 2008


We went on a five and a half hour walk with the dog today...the things you can do when the kids are away...

I so loved it, it was such a perfect day, not too hot, not too cold, sunny, and there was a beautiful little town at the turnaround.

See that house up there? I want it. My Mom has a long history of buying run down places and fixing them up. I seem to have inherited it, though if you could see the view, and the property...

Ah well.

This is taken through an [almost] bricked up doorway, amazing eh?

The dog has slept a lot this afternoon.

One of the things I love about hiking in Europe is that at your turn around, or somewhere on the route you'll go by a little village where you can get some coffee and a snack. We got bread, coffee, bunyols, which are sort of like deep fried sugared tim-bits if you can imagine that, and I went into a local seven-eleven kind of job, I had the option of foie gras, caviar or truffles!!! I went for a paté. I was tempted by the foie gras, but didn't want to carry the jar for two and a half hours, and couldn't bring myself to throw the rest out.

One of the things I love about hiking in Canada is that you never come across a little place to have coffee, unless you've packed it in, and you find somewhere to set up your camp stove.

p.s. the spell checker knew neither timbits, nor foie gras. Hee hee.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I am not going to talk about choice today, though I said I would; actually I am, but in a different way than I had planned. I will probably continue on the theme tomorrow.

Here is a video done by Dave Eggers about a way to express our faith in our schools, and more importantly, in the kids in our communities.

Watch the video please, if you have is about 20 minutes. He is DESPERATELY nervous at first, but is a good speaker. More importantly, he has great things to say.

Here's a link to the video, and below is the embedded version.

You don't have to do all that he has done, you may not be able to do any of what he is done, you may not be able to do anything at all, but please think about what maybe you could do. If you can put together the sort of commitment he has, I'll stand up and applaud, I'll lend whatever help I can from way over here.

Even if you can't, offer what you have. Go to your local school and see if you can help. Help a kid in your neighbourhood. Whatever you can offer. I am, in a minor way, doing a very little bit, I have four people that I am helping with English in a formal way..three are trades, they help me with Catalan as well, and one is just plain old help. She comes over in the evening while I am helping my kids with their homework too. It used to be five, but now she is a friend and it doesn't really count anymore.

It isn't onerous, and it makes a better and stronger community. I've made friends, and met people I otherwise wouldn't as a result of it.

It's a choice we can make for our community and the kids in our community, to make it a better place for us all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


There has been a California appellate ruling that bans homeschooling by uncredentialed parents. I think that this is very sad.

I have home schooled my kids, both when we were in Toronto, and obviously, when we were on the boat. They have also gone to public schools in Canada, and a semi-private Catholic school here in Catalonia.

I truly and strongly believe that homeschooling can be a great educational opportunity for kids. It depends on the kids, on the parents and on the situation. On the boat, we had few options. Home school or no school. The children were always at or above grade level and have a broader spectrum of knowledge than most kids we know.

As I am a teacher anyway, this does beg the question of qualification, but while living on the boat we also met several other homeschooling families and every single one of those kids were well grounded in the basics and had an impressive breadth of knowledge.

Inevitably there are going to be situations where homeschooling is not the best, and inevitably there are going to be nuts who are creating problems, but I honestly believe that for the most part parents that are willing to make this frankly enormous commitment to their children's education are going to make a good job of it. The commitment is person cannot work a regular schedule, as well as an enormous time commitment and an emotional one.

The judge in California stated that a primary purpose of education is to: train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare.

*breathing deeply over here*


I am not sure I am willing to speak to that, because this will fast turn into a rant. A nasty one.

*fingers tapping*

No I am not going to go there.

Let's leave it that I think that this is a sad state of affairs.

I think an education should be aimed at a well grounded knowledgeable population with the skills for investigation and the willingness to question and debate. Blind loyalty to the artifice that is the nation state doesn't fall into this package.

Oooooh, now I'm all riled up. I'm going to sleep badly tonight.

*deep breaths in through the nose, and release them slowly out through the mouth*

I think I will post more tomorrow on my thoughts on choice. Not on the state of the nation though.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fried eggs

The kids flew off to London today with my folks, and I spent almost all day in buses or waiting around in the BCN airport in case someone in the new hyper-secure world was concerned that the grandparents and kids combo was AOK....

Long and boring.

Lets not go there, instead I have a question that someone out there may be able to help me with.

Now I love a good fried egg from time to time, and we have some really yummy eggs here, laid by happy chickens that get to eat (hold your breath here) vegetables, and bugs!

But, and this is my question, sometimes when I fry my eggs, they turn out perfectly, others? They stick to the pan, and I lose about half the egg that way. I have lovely, beautifully seasoned cast iron pans...sometimes it works, sometimes...well, not.

How the heck do you fry an egg?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blogs and kids

The girls have been busy lately, not only are their grandparents here, they have also finished school. This week is Setmana Santa..Easter week and they have it off! YipEE!! ME TOOOOO!!!

One of the things they wanted to do this week was to set up a blog of their own. Well that is not quite accurate, they have several private ones that only they can get into, but this is their first public blog. It is, I believe, a creative fiction based effort, and consists of a single overarching meta-blog that you can reach here. This is the main blog, but there are three other blogs that reach out from this one, each one password protected, with the password posted on this main blog.

They are really hoping that people will swing over there and have a look at what they have put up, most of us, they are hoping that you will leave a comment. Please.

Their blog is over at wordpress, which I have been toying with moving to...they have several features I like, and they are not insisting that I sign in with my google account all the time, making me go around in strange circles to get in. However they will not let me put up my lovely blue background which I kind of like without some fancy editing of the template, which I am not sure I need to learn.

For backup purposes though they do have one FANTASTIC feature. You can import your entire blog to a blog there, for free and in very little time with very little effort! Then if blogger dies for some reason, your whole blog, photos comments and all are stored in a seperate place. You can also export the entire blog as a whole from wordpress, which is very handy if you ever want to use your blog as the basis for a book or whatever...To save your blog over there you need to import it in...first you have to make a blog, of course, then go to your dashboard. Click the manage button, and then the import button. Follow the steps from there.

So that's all folks, a tip for backing up your blog, and an invitation to go check out my kids' blog at

Cheers, and have a great weekend.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bleda! That's chard to you..

Meet one of my favourite foods.

Now you see chard, or bleda in Catalan, never really appeared on my radar until I got here, but it is so beautiful, and green and shiny it is almost irresistible. I asked the market ladies how to cook it...they said boil it, put on some good olive oil, a little salt, and eat. They are absolutely right. It is AWESOME. I eat an entire bunch a couple of times a day right now....


Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey, who do you think this is?

Yup, that's me....a long long time ago.
One of my aunts figured out how to load slides up onto the internet, and in amongst it all, these appeared!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Change of viewpoint.

One of my co-workers here is all excited about the possibility of using technology in the class. She's loading up a blog for her students. She told me, with some excitement that she is going to force them all to post their homework on it.


This kind of misses the point. The idea is not that it is another system for handing in assignments, rather that it is another entire way of interacting with the world, and people from all over, and since the only real purpose in learning a language is to communicate and interact with others, that may just bring home a reason to USE a language, rather than memorise and regurgitate verb conjugations.

It is also an enormous opportunity for the students to engage with an almost infinitely wider variety of topics and themes which can be explored in English...again bringing the lessons to life and motivating them.

Forcing them to to post homework? Same paradigm, different tool. There is an openness to other options though the leap to the new place remains elusive.

The difference here is that in the old student the teachers job is to tell the students what they need to know rather than providing them with both the opportunity and the desire to ask, and seek it out information.

Totally different.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A walk in the woods.

I went for a walk in the hills near us yesterday. This is what it looked like. It's pretty dry here still. I always feel that it is so green, and then I look at the photos...

Now, in this photo there seems to be some kind of an animal. It is quite camouflaged, maybe it's a fox...

NOPE! Look who that is...want a cookie there Chuck?

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Same same

Primary Information
Name: Age: 30

Height: 5 Ft 3 In / 160 Cms Weight: 45 Kgs / 99 lbs

Body Type: Average Complexion: Wheatish brown

Blood Group : AB+ Mother Tongue: Bengali

Physical Status: Normal

Socio-Religious Background
Religion: Hindu

Caste : Kayastha Sub Caste: -

Star : - Raasi : -

Gothram : - Manglik : -

Eating Habits : Non Vegetarian Horoscope Match : -

Smoking habits : Non-smoker Drinking habits : Non-drinker

Citizenship : India Country Living in : India

Residing State : West Bengal Residing City/District : Hooghly

Resident Status : Citizen

Educational & Professional Information
Education : Bachelors - Arts/ Science/ Commerce/ Others

Education in Detail : BA with Montessori training

Employed in : Private

Occupation : Education Professional

Occupation in detail : -

Annual Income : -

About me
I beleive in simple living and high thinking. My upbringing is from a very poor family (low middle class). I like reading books, stiching, house keeping and spending time with young and little one.

Family Details
Family Values : Liberal Family Type: Nuclear family

Family Status : Middle class

Father's Occupation : Business Mother's Occupation : housewife

Ancestral Origin : Chnadannagar, Hoogle, west bengal

No of Siblings : Total Brother (s) : - Married : - Total Sister(s) : - Married : -

About My Family :

I am the only child of my parents. I have two cousine brothers; one in business and another one in academics.

Hobbies & Interests
Hobbies : Art / handicraft, Cooking, Gardening/ landscaping

Interests: Book clubs, Reading, Social service, Writing, Yoga

Favorite Music: Devotional, Ghazals, Indian classical

Favorite Reads: Biographies, History, Literature, Poetry

Preferred Movies: Comedy, Classic, Drama

Sports/Fitness Activities: Yoga / meditation

Favorite Cuisine: Bengali

Preferred Dress Style: Indian / Ethnic wear

Spoken Languages: Bengali, English

Partner Preference Specifications

Primary Preference
Age : From 30 to 37 Height : 5 Ft 3 In - 160 Cms
to6 Ft 3 In - 191 Cms

Looking for : Unmarried

Physical Status : Normal Mother Tongue: Bengali

Socio-Religious Preference
Religion: Hindu Manglik: -

Caste/Division : Any Eating Habits: -

Education Preference
Education: Any

Location Preference
Citizenship: India Country living In : India

Residing State : India - Any Resident Status : Citizen

About My Partner
Professional without any demand and condition

There are times when the world can look like a wildly varied place, and then you look again, and it really isn't all that different after all.

Stumbled upon by accident here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It just occurred to me that I should explain some more, since I mentioned it. It is a social bookmarking site, which is a fancy way of saying that it is a public domain favourites list, so if you are away from your computer you can still find things, plus it is searchable because you use tags on your list, and better still, you can use their search engine to look for tags that interest you, and they list how many other people have also bookmarked that site so you can scan for potential usefulness based on that.

There is also a social aspect to it in that you can link to friends lists, or indeed also the lists of complete strangers with similar tastes and interests so you can see what they are reading...

It is a very powerful search tool, possibly more so than google, as it truly lists sites that people love, not that they have to go to, or who pay to be listed high...if that is how it works...certainly there is a predominance of .com sites on a goolge search.

Anyway, here it is, I highly recommend's dead easy to use, immensely handy and tremendously powerful.

Alice is in my way.

I had the morning set aside for work I had to do. Youngest, however, is ill. Not terribly ill, just a bit yucky feeling and she doesn't want to get out of bed.

In a bid to get the work done I played the one and only audio book that we have here (the rest are on the boat in Florida) : Chitty chitty bang bang, which is fantastic, but it only lasts for an hour and a half; so, using (which is fantastic), I found Alice in Wonderland, which is playing as I write on the computer. The only problem is that it doesn't really let me concentrate on my work. I don't know about when I was a teenager, but at this stage, I find it difficult to filter out extraneous noise when I am trying to concentrate. Maybe it is a Mom syndrom kind of thing, you know, you learn to never quite turn off the background noise....Chuck is also being a little needy which is rather difficult to work around too.

Then there is the feeling that I should hang out with sick youngest as she isn't really sick enough to just glom around in bed. Even when I can concentrate, I have to get up to get food, clean a spill, get a drink..whatever...

I think it would be best if I just try and work tonight, or later. Though when is the problem. There is only so much time I can carve out of a day.

I am kind of enjoying Alice though I must say. Quite the trippy book that one...I don't quite know what to make of it as I listen.


youngest is much much better, and went to school this afternoon.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Gleeful hibernation

The girls built a tent in one of their rooms out of a sheet this weekend. They filled the tent with pillows, sleeping bags and duvets, and laid three sleeping pads and a carpet on the ground. They went in there on Saturday morning with a bottle of pop, several bags of chips, one of the computers and four or five movies.

They emerged on Sunday different times...Eldest-nascent-adolescent MUCH later...
They had a lovely time.

We forced them out for a couple of hours yesterday to go for a walk in the hills, and to eat a little (plus a little homework, the poor darlings).

They went to bed - that's a misnomer, they barely got out of it- about 1am last night...I went to bed hearing them giggling over 'Flubber'!

They haven't been as cranky as they might have been given the lack of sleep...we even went for a second delightful walk in the mountains today. I remember going to wild places with my folks when I was a kid, and they are some of the sweetest memories of my childhood, though we were far from wilderness explorers and never went anywhere hugely remote...though sometimes when we were cruising...still, I remember those places closely. Sometimes when I am in the hills with my kids, or when we were on a remote beach or anchorage, or picking carefully through places where birds flutter, where there are tracks on the ground that don't come from shoes, where things grow all on their own...I look at my kids and wonder how it is affecting them. It is strange that you never know what is going to catch inside a child. Eldest has been saying for several years that she wants to be an study fish; a direct line off from our lives on the boat.

I am listening to the Barça game while I type (hey, a little cultural immersion here; the Catalan equivalent of Hockey Night in Canada), Eldest got up for a snack during halftime (it's a lot of work this growing business) and listened to the Barça can listen to it here. She mentioned how very much the theme sounds like a national know how they have that tone...the reality is, that this is true to some extent...I know the holy kingdom of sport and all, but that is not where I am going. The reality is that under Franco, the only place the Catalan flag could be flown was at a Barça became one of the few places where Catalans could come together in public and cheer for a symbol of their culture and nation - there is not an adequate English word that I can think of...culture is a little weak and nation is not accurate, strictly speaking; but truly, for many Barça was the only open voice for Catalan nationalism and cultural support. So, it sounds like an anthem. It was, and in some ways, still is.

I have GOT to get the camera out....

update...crapola, Barça lost and now it's raining...I wonder if the two are tied?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Crazy Frog

The kids find out about these things through their own underground communication networks...they say the kids here don't know anything about these things....I have to say I kind of like it too....a lot of it is a remix of music I already like....

Friday, March 7, 2008


I just came back from a workshop in BCN about teaching English as a second language; it was all about working with 8 - 18 year olds, and was fascinating...mostly games and activities that don't require a lot of resources...the bag of tricks sort of stuff...

What fun, I hope my group this afternoon is in a sufficiently good space that we can try some of it out...


I LOVE good professional development, it brings you back all excited and ready to get going on what you have to do next...

It was also extremely strange to be in a room filled with native speakers and converse for an entire morning in English...I speak to the man and my kids and all, but still it was kind of weird. I kept not understanding them...I was trying to put them through the Catalan filter and it just didn't work. Though there was quite a variety of accents which was interesting as but there are a lot of Brits here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Schools and Spain

The man's cousin once said...oh so accurately, "It's Spain, it takes a while for things to happen." He was referring to bureaucracy.

I have to say he is right though Spain is not alone. Canada refused to sign some treaty from The Hague at some point, so I may have to get my Marriage certificate mailed to one office in Canada, then to another, and then to a third here in Spain. Why? Blech. I should run a lottery on how many months or years they think that will take.

It may have to do with the stupid non-opening hours, which are lovely in theory, until you actually want to get anything done.

It turns out the system is the same with the schools. Dear Lord Above, let there be a special circle in hell for all dictators and their love of borax...and the never-ending hangover from it.

Here is the schedule. On the 12th, the school will post about how many spaces are available for eldest's age. On the 25th we can start signing in, this goes on for a two week period. Then the forms are sent to the provincial government where they are assessed and each child awarded points for I know not what reason..if they live in the town, yaddah yaddah. Then the spaces are given to those with the most points, and the rest wait. When pressed the secretary at the school said that there usually is not a problem with spaces,'s the next question. We won't find out if she gets in for some time, obviously, and the registration period is the same for the public high school. Will it harm our chances if we apply to more than one school, simultaneously, if we only apply to the preferred one, what happens if she doesn't get in, and we haven't applied to the public.

Holy freaking is so COMPLICATED when you don't know the system!

I also have taxes to tackle soon, in two nations and two languages, along with the passport fiasco, and the drivers license, plus the inter-European health cards. Hmmmm

Vacation time is coming up, none too soon, but then again, all the offices will be closed as well.....

It takes some time.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Soooo, you want to hear some Catalan, eh?

First of all, a minor it just me, or am I the only one who ALWAYS gets those 'are you a computer' type warped letter thingies WRONG? I mean come on...I always have to do it twice, and sometimes more often than that...Grr. Don't get me wrong, if you've got them for your comments, no problemo...I can see the point, I just wish I could get them correctly the first time.

The ongoing saga of finding schools for Eldest continues.

I would really like to hear people's experiences about changing schools at the end of grade six, to go with friends, to go after a better education, to go to a school you like...whatever. What worked and what did your parents or you do that didn't work. What was important to you? If you could put it in the comments, or if your feeling very inspired blog about it and send a link, I would really appreciate the imput, be it a good experience or a bad one.

If your bored by all this audio file stuff, just skip ahead to the next paragraph.
Finally, here is another upload attempt, this time it is me speaking Catalan, I will get the girls on at some point, but they are at school right now...I am going to try and get a player embedded on the site, but I am not sure when I will manage that. Unfortunately I don't have unlimited time.

Chuck is whining to go out for a walk, or get his belly scratched or whatever, no audio tape this time.

I may be back with a photo of a ruddy great beast of a heavy door that I hauled back yesterday, much to Chuck's horror; I want to use it as a table on the terrace. Nice and big, wooden, fairly solid and we can get our legs under it properly. Wish me luck.

Finally, inspired by Nomad over at Poena I got brush to paper again today, but I am not entirely happy with the results.

Am I the only one who does this? Again on petty irritants it seems...Today I have walked the dog, got two kids up, fed, ready for school, made snack and delivered said children to school. Had coffee with a friend, dealt with e-mail, spoken to the vet, worked with moodle, showered, painted, made an MP3 and (hopefully) uploaded it, read and commented on blogs, and read part of John Irving's The Fourth Hand. I am still going to go into work, walk the dog, and buy groceries at the market, all before 1pm.

Here is my question. Why do I feel like I haven't accomplished anything?

This is the final question, really I promise.

OMGoodness, I should space these out to different posts. I am working on a book club type class over at moodle, would any of you be willing victims/collaborators and pretend to be students so we could give the thing a try when I get it in place? No real names necessary and we could even do a book club kind of thing and all read a book together.

What do you think?

Is that enough homework for you? Sign in problems, You too?
School change stories.
Do you also feel like you don't get things accomplished even when there is plenty of evidence that you do?
Would you be willing to trial run a book club style course?

Sorry about all that, maybe I'll stick a survey up later, along with maybe that picture. Gotta go walk the dog.



Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's CHUCK! (Maybe)

Click Here to maybe hear Chuck begging me to scratch his belly....he even licked the mike at some point.

Wish me luck.

This one is for you, Beth

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yipee!! Now you can hear me too!

If this one works here I've done it twice!!!

Now maybe I will post something with some meaning...

I am going to go hunting for some of the Etruscan sculptures I found...hang on...they were some amazing pieces...

Well, I am getting nowhere finding the images...

It's getting late...I'll just leave you with my voice, and the description of one was a fire poker, essentially; it had a socket at one end where a wooden rod would have fastened, and the socket was a forearm which extended down to a bronze hand holding a rod. The rod was twined about like cord or rope, but at the end of it, was another hand, cupped this time and a quarter turn from the scrape the ashes and embers around. It sounds quite ordinary, but it looked like something surrealist...something strange even for Dali, a hand on a rod holding a rod with a hand on the end...all in bronze.

It was all quite astonishing.

Trying an in a podcast

Soooo, can you hear me? I am going to end up doing multiple posts, my apologies to anyone with a reader. Blogger doesn't like my URL it seems.

OK, I'll try it a different way, lets see if this works.
Click HERE to hear me, maybe

Let's see if you hear it... I out there?

Sunday, March 2, 2008


We've been off checking out a school for eldest for next year, there are two main options, the local public, which I may have mentioned, in which she will study Catalan, Castillian, math and English all year and everything else some of the year. A mite narrow don't you think? It is also a big school (not by TO standards, but still) and the teachers do not push the students at get out what you put in.

I was worried.

The other school we are looking at has...
Experimental Science
Social Science
Music and

Year round, plus optionals.

Plus it is much more family like, and involves the students more closely...

It is looking like we will be signing Eldest up as soon as we can.

Tuesday night we have a meeting with the head of studies from the public school.

We'll see what happens.

The real difficulty is the intangibles...will there be kids there she likes?

Ho hum.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

To be good, or not to be that may be an instinct, or a question.

I was reading an interesting , though surprisingly badly written article, in The Economist about the nature of morality...turns out it is not an emotion based thing at all. Scientists did brain-scans on people facing moral dilemmas, there was no action in the emotional centers..that is not where morality sits.

Which is also an interesting finding for me, though I am not sure if it is a valid one. Ones response to an actual moral situation will of course be more highly charged than a hypothetical moral puzzle one is faced with while wearing brain scan electrodes...

Problem one with the rather confused article.

Scientists then supposed that there is an instinct of sorts in humans towards moral behaviour, and that this moral instinct manifests itself differently depending circumstances.

I can work with this...

Scientists in New York did a study of middle class white teenagers from two religious backgrounds one liberal and the other conservative. (Why is it that middle-class white kids should be the benchmark for all people everywhere? This drastically weakens the findings) Duplication is desperately needed, with other groups, socially, economically, culturally, globally and racially.

If you want to look at instincts you need to look for something that is manifest in a pan-species manner. Looking at suburban church-going white kids is not a robust model.

Why did The Economist pick this up?

The findings were that conservative teenagers were more social, more relaxed, less concerned about who they spent their time with, less bored by everything and anything, and they preferred the company of relatives. Religious conservative teenagers were also deeply unwilling to confront their parents with dissenting beliefs. Read the inverse for the liberals.

The scientists suspect that the liberals are existing an a social and cultural space that is stable and provides a lot of leisure time for dissent is not a problem; therefore, morally, there is nothing wrong with being a pain in the *ss; while the conservatives are more collective and collaborative feeling more at risk and less stable, so there is a strong moral requirement that each individual tow the line.

I am not sure how they came to assess the liberals as living in a more stable environment as the two groups, when looked at globally, seem remarkably homogeneous...yes I know, the scientists are trying to reduce the number of variables in the findings, but if you are going to then apparently unfounded make sweeping generalisations....

Thus, because of their less stable place in society, the group of conservatives teens are displaying tighter moral laws in order to out compete another, more stable, group. This leads the scientist to believe this is an instinctual response to move to a more successful evolutionary gambit they label this as altruistic.

This of course displays a bias that the liberal teenagers are not just a group of spoiled whiners with little global perspective, but indeed are correct in their assumption that spending time with family is onerous and boring, that everything is indeed somewhat boring, and being uptight and anti-social is an appropriate response to life while the conservatives are repressing these feelings on an instinctive level as they do not have the evolutionary luxury of expressing them.


What the heck was all that?

The reporting was weak, we have no way of knowing the numbers in the test, the teenagers also self-reported...may I add my humble opinion that the vast majority of teenagers are quite content to lie on these sorts of self-reporting forms, simply for the anarchistic joy of it...

weak weak weak science and bad writing.

Why am I posting about this?

Two reasons, it was a particularly crappy bit of science writing, and possibly has misrepresented the findings of the scientists, or muddled them so badly that we, the general reader, are left at sea. The Economist is not my favourite magazine on the planet, it's leanings are a wee bit right for me *cough* but it is the 'economist', they do normally write better than this though...

Also I guess because I thought it was potentially interesting bit of scientific work into what is a potentially fascinating question...though the way it was conducted is weak. Altruistic acts that evolve and occur primarily within the framework of family are highly coloured, especially when some of the individuals involved are minors.

It would be much more interesting to look for altruistic acts outside of the deeply instinct driven and highly complex realm of the family and the growth of youth within that circle, and look more broadly at groups from different ages, stations, views and places in life.

Now that would be very neat.

SO...Morality is it logic? Instinct? Emotion?

What do you think?