Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Too much work, the younger child's birthday is tomorrow and the dog (what else).

New day, new challenge. I went in for my second stint of observing classes at my very soon to be workplace. Different ages again. Finally found a teacher that isn't yelling all the time, that was nice. The kids are good, and are going to find it challenging to have to actually learn the English in English...they speak Catalan all the time. Hee Hee Hee. Should help them no end.

My latest challenge is that they are now talking about asking me to work four nights a week, which I am not willing to do. A bunch of reasons. First of all, my family matters most, and I will simply be living an alternative life if I do that, they will be gone all day, except those blessed lunches, and then I will be gone all night. No thank you. A family does not move onto a 27 foot sailboat and live there for years unless they value spending time together, and the insane school hours that go on and on forever already do not help.

The husband would also have to drop his Castillian classes. This would be very bad. I have had to drop out of my Catalan classes, although spending time with these Catalans may help, but here's the plan. We are working on the assumption that we will try to stay here for a couple of years, and then when the eldest child is getting into those teenage years we will have to make a decision about where we want to spend the next decade while they both work their way through this growing up thing. I don't want to HAVE to go back to Canada because the man's Castillian skills are too poor, and he doesn't want to continue in the current job. His lack of Castillian in simply too limiting, and I like to have my choices wide open.

When I interviewed, they asked when I could work, but that is not the same as how much I am willing to work. I have to clarify the difference for them. Fortunately I will be meeting with them tomorrow afternoon, and then they want me to come in and teach a class on Friday, and be observed in the process. Should be fun. I don't know what age it will have to be. We'll see.

So far so good. I will tell them that I am delighted to have the work, and will do any time at all that they offer in the day, but that is the limit for the evening work. Unfortunately most work in this industry is evening work. We'll see what happens.

Chuck the dog is growing more confident and happy, which is good. He is coping with cars better, sitting on demand better, but also jumped up twice, that will not continue, and barked twice, stunning us wildly. That will also have to be narrowly controlled. He is the best mannered dog we see when we are out walking, and I intend to continue to encourage these behaviours as he becomes more comfortable with us.

'nuff said.

The elder child stayed home for a mental health morning, well used and much needed. She was a happier person overall by the end of it. The teacher seemed reasonably cool with it too. Yippeee. Although she may have been taking the easy route because it is so hard to communicate effectively with me.
*bobbing head with nailed on inane smile* "Si, si, si, no probelmo..."

Here's a question that as been puzzling us for some time. There is a basic central and frequently used plot line in fairy tales, and indeed in story telling as a whole globally that places the youngest of three siblings as the wisest and noblest and most beautiful yadda yadda yadda, and is invariably the last one sent out on the quest, as a desperate final option, and the only one with the skills to succeed. King Lear on down. It is a tradition. But why? Really, we have been pondering this for a while, and not come up with anything really convincing. Cinderella is a kind of pathetic party girl version thereof. Hmmmmm. Any comments out there? Why is it sooooo often the youngest of three who is the only truly loyal, capable, good, kind blahblahblah child?

Someone out there, I cannot for the life of me remember who, was recently complaining about their inability to remember birthdays. Well low and behold, a friend asked me to file in this site which will send her an e-mail as every registered birthday approaches. Haven't used it myself, and it is a little irritatingly commercial, but still.

Also, I have been lurking over at this site and I am really enjoying her blog. She is living in western Africa with four kids and a French husband, and though she doesn't post super frequently, well more accurately she seems to post in fits and starts, it is very good in my humble opinion. She has pieces that fall into the this-could-only-happen-here category right next to totally typical parenting stress comments. I guess I like it because it is so true for what life is like when you are living the dream... crap still happens, and you still have to handle it. What do you call it when you stop lurking? Revealing yourself? Sounds wrong. Well anyway, I did finally comment over there, because she had so many good posts up.

PS. Another birthday tomorrow, the little one turns 8!!!! My babies are getting bigger and bigger. How amazing.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

WORK and Chuck, and kids getting tired.

So so so so much to talk about, hold onto your hats and settle into your chairs folks, a lot has been going on. I never thought it would be dull, and it hasn't been.

First is this:
El dia 1 de febrer de 19:55 h. a 20.00 h. es proposa apagar totes les Llums
per a donar-li un respir al planeta (la proposta prové de França).
Si la resposta és massiva, l'estalvi energètic pot ser brutal.

Només 5 minuts, i a vore que passa.

Si si, ja sé que estarem 5 minuts a fosques amb cara de tontos, però
recordeu que internet te molta força i podem fer una cosa gran.

I passeu la noticia!

I believe that the translation, rather loosely is. On the first of Feb, from 7:55 to 8:00 pm, there is a movement for everyone to turn off their lights and electricity to give the planet a rest (and the power stations a massive surge). If there is a big response, the impact will be huge. It is only 5 minutes and see what is only five minutes in the dark, but wait and see what a big impact the internet can have. Pass it on. I'll ask the husband to help me with the translation. It would help if I could find the d*mn dictionary...I think if enough people did it there may be some serious problems at the power stations, I could be wrong though.

OK all you dog lovers out there, keep coming with the hints and all helps. I also found an awesome website for people bringing dogs home from the pound, aimed at stupid newbies like me. This is the need to put food in here.....

Chuck is getting better and better. He is now a complete stair master, and I even let him off the lead at the bottom and he cruises on up on his OWN! No treat/bribes required. He is following me around slavishly at all times, he will even wake up if I move to come and sleep in the part of the room closer to me....lets see how long THAT lasts. We have worked out how we walk together and he is not tugging at the lead with me at all anymore...if he pulls, I stop, and I don't start again till he stops...not only that, but I have to start first, even if by a nanosecond...alpha pack member. I am walking him two ways, one is the toodle along like I've got a toddler technique, which basically involves me holding loosely onto the end of the leash and him stopping and smelling whatever he wants...I don't back up though. The other is him walking at heel. He is right beside me, I am holding the leash loosely, but short, and we march along at quite a clip. Doing this, he cannot stop and smell anything, and he doesn't. Some of the sidewalks are only about 8 inches wide here, and the slow cars are doing 30, so he NEEDS to know this skill. He's good to.

He is getting a handle on his fear of cars, I have managed to teach him to sit, he probably knew already, but I haven't figured out the command he knows, anyway, he has figured out when I want him to sit, so if a car or other scary thing is coming up, I have him move to the curb and sit, then I stand outside of him and give him a pat. MUCH better than the panic stricken bolting he was doing. He is now sitting to get his leash taken off and on, and comes when I call consistently. I even let go of the leash while we were out on the mountain today to take his picture.

Oh yeah, I've taken a couple of pictures...but you all have to wait till after the younger child's birthday on Thursday, and then the developer, who will hopefully make a disc.....on and on and on.

More BIG news...I have a JOB!!!!! The observation actually indicated that I have work! YEAH! I start on Monday, although I am going in again tomorrow for more observations of how they conduct the classes. I will work on Monday and Wednesday evenings, I will have a class of 12 and 13 year olds, and a private lesson with a guy around 26 whose boss said get the English up, or no work. He should be pretty motivated. Anyway, there may be more work forthcoming, but so far so good. I haven't been able to discuss pay, which is most unlike me. I tend to sit down in the interview chair and say, "Hello, nice to meet you. What is the pay please?" Well, I interview a little better than that, but I always always ask. Here it is a little awkward as the administrators do not speak any English, and so I have to ask the other teachers all the questions, and I don't really feel entirely comfortable.

The daughter of the lady who took us up to the shelter works there as well, teaching English, and so possibly Chuck has done me a good turn here already, getting me an in to another branch of this little town. Actually he has, the owner of the local pet store used to be married to an Englishman, and lived in London for some time, so her English is very good, and then there are three women at the school, fellow teachers who all speak English, and there is one woman at the kids school who also speaks English and is very friendly. She has lived ex-pat in Holland for five years, so I suspect she knows what it is like and is returning the good favours that she received.

I don't want to get enmeshed in an English speaking community. Not really much danger of that here, but it looks like I am developing a small group of people I can talk to more easily. What a relief.

The downside of the work is that I have to give up my Catalan classes, although I may be paid enough I can get some more done anyway, also it makes it trickier for the husband to go running, and I will be away basically all night on those evenings. The little one is rather upset on that front, and I am not exactly happy. She is getting a bit of a rougher ride. She has always been asked to handle more at a younger age than her sister. Is that normal? Probably. At her age, her sister was on the boat with her entire family all the time, not struggling with a new school in a new town with a new language. We'll all get used to it though, and I can probably work my way into some better hours next year, and thank goodness for the two hour lunches, at least I will see my kids some of the time.

The elder child is gunning for a mental health day tomorrow. She was very upset when she came home from school, although nothing specific happened. I cannot blame her though, the pressure of going to school for 6 hours a day in a foreign language must give you the fiercest sort of brain freeze at times. I have told her that she is not getting the entire day, but she is going to get some. She said it, but I was already thinking it. She gets up every single day without making any fuss at all, and she has not complained a bit about the school. Well, that is a slight exaggeration, the heart dissection was epic, and the shower thing was pretty bad. She seems to have established a routine which does NOT involve her showering, and is now reasonably content to do gym.

She has music, which she also hates, and they have to play the recorder. UGH. Why can't they play something like guitar, which she did in first grade? Anyway, she is hating it, and all the other kids have obviously been doing it for years and have some skills. She was practicing this evening in bed. Man oh man. My Dad says that way back years ago when he went to Catholic school, they all had to be in the choir, and he was told to mouth the words because he was so bad, not only was it awful, but it threw all the boys around him off. Well, it may be genetic. She was excellent on the guitar, but the recorder.....

Practice in your room, with all the intervening doors closed.

Now to bone up on my English grammar...what is the present simple continuous tense anyway?

Oh, and here's a scary thing. One of the classes I observed was a group of teenagers. These girls had more piercings, and tattoos and attitude, along with their motorcycle helmets for the bikes and mopeds they all drive...and most of them were only 15! EEEEEeeeeekkkkkkkk. Did I mention the eldest just turned 11. OK, I'm a shakin' here. And here's the kicker, these were all fun and funny kids that are taking extra-curricular language lessons two nights a week....that was not cool when I was a kid. Eeeeekkkk.

The other class was six year olds. They got out of school at 5. Were at their English class, two days a week at 5:15, and it is an hour an a half long! They didn't even leave till ten to seven, no dinner, nothing. They were lying on the tables writing...poor things. I don't know how they do it. They probably still have homework to do at home. And I figured out why the language skills are so poor here, in the teenager's advanced English class, they spoke in Catalan almost the entire time. They asked all the questions in Catalan, and the teacher answered in English.

They won't be doing that with me anyway.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Birthdays and dog days and work

Well my bigger girl is 11 and I find it astonishing. not exactly an original thought, but there it is. She had a crappy morning at school, but a good afternoon, and gave out lollipops to all her classmates, then took the dog for a walk in the mountains, didn't have homework...thank god, and got some gifts that I hope she likes.

Her Great Aunt, who lives in Canada at this point gave her an amber necklace, and her parents got her some spectacular shimmering iridescent fabric, all golds and blues and yellows and reds (if I do say so myself). Also two books that I adored when I was her age, Dragonsinger and Dragonsong by Anne McCaffery. They are stories of a girl who is not accepted by her family for who she is and her marvelous talents, and her voyage to where she can become who she will be. This reflects nothing on my family, as they were endlessly supportive and encouraging coupled with high expectations for which I am always grateful, I think it speaks more to the problems facing any young person heading into the changes and creation of themselves that they work their way through as they become an adult in a sometimes hostile and unsupportive world. Anyway, that sounds all very deep, and maybe it is, but they are great stories, with dragons, and smaller pet size dragons, and singers and music...well, I loved them, and I've been waiting for her to be old enough to enjoy them. I haven't read them in years, I hope I won't be disappointed reading them with adult eyes.

The dog - Chuck. He seems to be doing fairly well today. I had to carry him up the stairs the first time this morning and then I did a little research, and found a great website aimed at people bringing home adult dogs from the pound and how to tackle some of the issues. The stair issue? Food bribe. Dogs are complete suckers for a treat, and it is supposed to work. So off we go to the doggie store where Chuck gets nipped by another dog..instead of any sort of aggressive reaction, he pees on the floor. Good? Bad? I don't know, I prefer it to him turning into a ravaging pit bull. Anyway, got back to our apartment with it's four flights of stairs. No go on climbing up. None. So I show him a little snack..."Oooohhh" his little doggie brain thinks...he reaches forward a little, and I toss it up onto the landing. Up we go! Then he lays down and cowers at what he has done. Repeat on the next flight. At this poing he thinks he has done enough. Lovely door mat to lie on, potted plant to pee in, why go farther? I have to hold the treat in front of his nose as he climbs up for this one. Then again for the last, but he made it on his own two feet! Yeah for him, and for me for figuring that one out.

Next time we go up, he climbs the first two without even seeing the treat, but needs to be lead up the second two. Third try, does it all the way, looking unhappy, but accepts the treat, then this evening....all the way up at a brisk walk, no cowering no apparent fear, and went all the way in almost forgetting the treat!!!!

He is mostly coming when I call him, not so anyone else, and is occasionally following me slavishly around the apartment. Wonder if I could teach him to cook? He responds more to snapped fingers than claps, and thinks that when I say come here in Catalan when we are outside that it means come here. When we are inside, he thinks it means go lie down in the front hall. We are still having a little trouble getting him out of the front hall. He will now come in on sufferance, but returns as soon as he can gracefully. I think he was not allowed in the main house wherever he lived before, and the reinforcement was sufficiently strong that he is unwilling to break it. Give him time.

He refuses to obey sometimes, simply lying in place stubbornly. We don't know enough about him, or dogs to know if this is his personality, or if he hasn't got a clue about what we want, what with the language barrier...he responds to Catalan words, not English.

Anyway, significant progress has been made, and he is not showing any unpleasant traits or aggression. I have managed to get him to sit down beside me when a car goes by, which in his book is VERY scary..given that the sidewalks here are about 8 inches wide, who can blame him. He had one go at counter-surfing, after I had made the kid's salami sandwiches, but that was quashed fast, and we are having a little debate about whether our beds are fair game. He hasn't tried the little one's, the only one up off the floor, but the older child's he wants..we had to remove him four times in a row. He also thinks that my bed is fair game...again it is on the floor, and I had to remove him four times...he kept sneaking back on again.

I am glad to see some personality emerging, he is getting a little more comfortable anyway. It is a little like having an ESL toddler moving in...little understanding, little communication, and a fairly high discomfort level. My only concern is that he may be a bit too calm for his age, he is like a middle aged dog, but is apparently only about a year and a half...I don't know.

Good news on the work front as well, the language school in town called this evening, in between the birthday greetings that the birthday girl got, and I have been asked to come in tomorrow for an observation...this is me sitting in on a class to see how they teach it. Standard practice, and it is a brilliant one. I get to see how the school handles things, and where things are, and the kids don't have to sit through quite so much of my learning curve. This is good too, because it means they are considering hiring me...though I haven't seen a contract, I have obviously passed some sort of hurdle. Yipee!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

We got a DOG!!!!! and went and saw a dance...busy day.

BIG BIG BIG news......

We are now, the probationary owners of a DOG!


He is provisionally called Chuck.... and seems pretty good so far.

When we decided to move here the kids were, to say the least, unenthusiastic. More clearly described as hysterically opposed and wanted to be left behind...Parents? Mom? Dad? Who needs that?

We made some pretty big concessions to buy us some willingness. The whole process of getting my husband's citizenship has been very long and very expensive, so when it came through and the job was still here, we had to convince our kids that this would be a good thing. No. That isn't accurate. We could not have convinced them that this would be a good thing, because we frankly didn't know if it would be for them. We just wanted to convince them to approach the entire adventure with an open mind and at least a neutral opinion. So we addressed their greatest fears and concerns.

First was school. That was easy, we had home schooled them while they were on the boat, and before we left, so we promised them that we would not send them to school until after my husband's three month probationary period passed. We also solemnly promised them that we would not make them endure systematic bullying. That did not mean that we would pull them out the first time someone was rotten to them, but we were not going to let them get tormented endlessly. That eased the fears a lot.

The eldest girl was quite hysterical at the prospect of missing Halloween, her absolutely favorite holiday, and one that she knows she is nearing the end of at 10, and which they don't do here. What she loves about it goes beyond the candy. It is the build up, the costumes, the dressing up, the fact that the entire community gets involved...and of course the candy. We flew back to Canada for Halloween. I managed to swing enough work to pay for the trip. Urgh, but worth the happy child.

The final concession that we made was a dog. They had wanted a pet forever and ever and talked of it incessantly. I had always assumed that when we settled down enough, really got off the boat, we would get something like a guinea pig, which I had growing up and loved. Then one day out of the blue the man said, in no uncertain terms, that he would rather have a dog than a rodent. Hmmmmm. The elder child and I are both terminally allergic to cats, which is a shame as that would have been an easy way out. Great pet, lower maintenance. Ah well.

So, when the time came, a dog came up as a possible concession. I don't like to call it a bribe, although I suppose you could look at it that way, but we basically said that we were asking them to work very hard at something they didn't want to do for many years, so it seemed fair that we would cave too.

By the same token, the timing is right, the kids are a good age, nearly 8 and 11. It is someone for them to love and who will love them when things get tough here, it is a way into the community, and for me, it makes me feel safer about walking into the woods and mountains behind our village on my own when everyone else is at work or school. All around it seemed a good idea. It is my commitment, while the man is willing to pitch in, and seems happier with the dog than I had hoped, it is my commitment. Lets hope the dog works out.

We went up to the local refuge/pound today, telling the children that we would NOT be bringing a dog home today, and fully planing on just looking around. But there he was. Just the size we wanted, big enough for the man to run with, and for me to feel safe, without being enormous. Incredibly placid and calm, he has not barked at all yet, even when we were visiting...he has been trained and housebroken, and is full size. So far so good. He is beautiful as well.

He is a mutt, with a fair amount of collie in him, and some German Shepard in small corners. He is sort of lab coloured, with a collie face, he is about the size of a border collie, but not so wide, and he doesn't have the droopy bum. He has a long sweeping tail and looks faintly shepardy in the bum, but again, not one of those droopy bums. He is sweet looking, calm as all get out, curious, and timid right now. He was abandoned, lived on his own for a while, and then in the pound, so he has had a lot of changes. He is afraid of cars, some other dogs, and going upstairs...I have had to carry him every time, which he has dealt with well, if not with dignity.

He walks at heel, comes when you call - in Catalan - and seems pretty smart. He recognized the house after his last walk, hurried to the door and then waited to go in quietly. I honestly cannot imagine why someone would abandon this dog...he seems a dream.

We'll see how it goes. He was very nervous at first, but is already more relaxed, and starting to look around more for himself. he is also starting to follow me around the house, and hang out near where I am.

He has had all the medical stuff done, he's neutered, de wormed de-flead de-whatever the heck else they have to do and chipped. He has also just disdained the pansy bed we put down for him and curled up by the door on the pile of pine branches and eucalyptus leaves we have left over from Christmas. He was loose for quite some time, the refuge is up in the mountains and the cages are outside, and he may not have been allowed past the front hall in whatever house he was in. Guess the leaves smell like home. He is also probationary as the local refuge organises it so that we can all back out gracefully if it doesn't work. They don't give us the final paper, or change the chip until after ten days or so...that way we can all get to know each other before things are finalised. A very good plan to my mind.

The girls were a bit disappointed this afternoon that he was so nervous and not playful. He was very freaked out when we came back from the show tonight, and the little one, bless her sweet soul was in tears because he was so nervous. She felt bad that he was so upset, and wondered if he would be happier in the shelter. I said he probably would be in the short run, but once he got over it, he would be happier with us, we hope. He calmed down a lot in the evening and so did she. He even wandered off his mat and started to look around the place on his own. Sweet kind younger daughter went off to sleep saying that she hoped he would be happy soon. She wanted him to be happy more than she wanted to be happy herself.

We had planned to go to a dance program at the local theater tonight, and had a brief debate about whether we should go. Decide we should. Everything I had read about bringing a dog home emphasised that it was important to go out for a while. It is unfortunate that at that point he wasn't willing to leave the front hall, so we shut him in is kind of small, but I think his previous owners wouldn't let him in the house, as I had to literally drag him into the kitchen to feed him. Since then he has been more willing to come in, and is now sleeping at my feet in the living room.

The dance was amazing. It was an hour long, geared to kids, and it was based on kids playing at the beach. They were funny and talented. It was a might heavy on the props and lighting/costuming effects, but I am a bit of a purist, and certainly nothing compared to the nutcracker, let alone Andrew Lloyd Weber and his ilk.

They did some very cool stuff, but it was mostly well done and funny. We all laughed and laughed. The elder child had gone with her school as well on Friday, and the performance differed, but she still enjoyed it immensely. I wanted to get some images up, but it is too late and I am too tired to hunt them out. I had a quick look and didn't come up with them. Maybe tomorrow.

Wish us luck with the dog...The little one was getting upset about the fact that he may die. When I pointed out that with any luck at all he would make it longer than she could imagine, like when she went to university, she brightened up. She was worried he might not make it for more than a couple of years. It is amazing to see their heads go, and the look on her face when I mentioned University was hilarious.

The elder child is delighted with the dog, and has a better understanding of time and the process, and is making friends with him gradually. So far so good.

The other really big news is this: SSSSHHHHHHHHHthe bigger girl is turning 11 tomorrow!!!!!!!! WOW!

*Note to self - must buy disposable camera*

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rudeness, politeness and hanging out.

Went out this morning to buy groceries and by the time I came back I was pretty ticked. Sometimes I honestly think that all the manners left this country with my Mother-in-Law 46 odd years ago. She is so delightful, but she seemed to have gotten the quota.

OK OK, I know...the place is DIFFERENT. Just 'cause they don't do it the same way I do it, doesn't mean it's wrong. I know. Just sometimes it still feels RUDE. I went out the door this morning and three of my neighbours are talking...I see them all the time and talk to them all the time, two look away and only one said Hola. My GOD, WHOBROUGHTYOUUP? If I did this in Canada it would be the gravest insult to my neighbours. I got down to the grocery store, it is first thing in the morning and they are stacking the shelves, fair enough, but they made absolutely no effort whatsoever to move or adjust the crates that were entirely blocking the store so that I could get to the produce. I actually found myself wondering if I had accidentally wandered in while they were still closed and they were just too polite to say anything. Now don't get me wrong. Some of the service in North America makes me want to puke. It is so in your face, and obviously insincere, and the walmart greeter syndrome makes me enraged, but it is simple politeness to get out of someones way when they are obviously standing there to get past...for along time. Never mind customer service. WHOBROUGHTYOUUP?

Then I am checking problem, the check out lady is lovely and everything goes fine. I am packing my bag, when some old *%#* lady, no actually she wasn't old at all, she was probably in her late 60s and spry, she is sort of shouldering me out of the way as we are packing our bags, the store is small and there is little room, but I have a lot of stuff, and I am going as fast as I can. Well, just as I am going, I have a knapsack on that ways a solid 25 lbs, and I am carrying five grocery bags of food, when the vinegar falls to the floor, and rolls under her feet. Does she bend and pick it up for me? NO Does she even move out of the god damned way so that I can pick it up easily? NO. In CASTILLIAN I get, "Your vinegar fell".(I seem to be turning into a Catalan nationalist to boot.) So I put down my bags, grovel around on the floor under her feet for it, and stagger out to repack my bags. HOW I WISH I SPOKE THE LANGUAGE! I was lightly rude to her, but NEVER NEVER NEVER would someone get away with that with me in English. *Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth* WHOBROUGHTYOUUP?

Have I mentioned that the town is nearly vertical? Well I had to stop about 6,000 times on the way up the hill home, and NO I NEVER EXAGGERATE. At one stop, this man comes out the door, staring openly at me, like your three year old does at a one legged man, jaw hanging, neck periscoping...staring unflinching, not one of those corner of the eye jobs in the subway...I mean REALLY. He cruises by me, and as he is almost out of my line of site, going right next to me, still staring...I am burning angry by now...Turned, stared him down...."HOLA..." I nearly bellow in his face. O.K. Not nice, he was stunned and startled.

"Wow the freaky foreigner can speak!!!!! He gives me a shamed and quiet Hola and scuttles off down the street.

The husband kindly says that I am so beautiful he probably couldn't help himself. Very sweet of him, and definitely good husband tactics, but come on....lets not be silly here.

They stare here, openly like you would never let your child. I get it less than I used to, but man WHOBROUGHTYOUUP?

It is such a mix here, everyone ALWAYS says hello and goodbye every time you go in or out of a store, but this intermittent greeting in public has me confused. In the Bahamas, away from tourist areas, you always always always say hello, and you chat for a while before you start you business, always. It is so polite. It makes you feel glad you've seen the people. That is how I explained it to my daughter one day. There is nothing like having kids for making you clearly examine why you do things. One child or the other was resisting whatever social more I was imposing on them at the time, asking WHY do we have to follow all these rules. The bottom line is that other people should be glad you came into their lives today, not sorry and angry that they saw you. I have to say, there were several people today I was sorry and angry that they were in my day.

I also have to wonder why I keep implying that it was their parents fault...possibly the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent 40 years of totalitarian rule had some impact.

In reality, it was a very unusually grim cross section, and I will normally only get one incident like that a week. The vast majority of people have been and continue to be extremely friendly and helpful and open. Today though... well, I was a wee bit grumpy. I will also admit that this could have happened anywhere, and life got better. We ordered the birthday cake for the older child's upcoming birthday, and got her much needed new shoes as well in town, without having to spend the day busing to the nearest larger center. Hung out with the husband and the kids, and we watched Tootsie tonight, which none of us had seen before. I have also been reading a book of Bush bloopers. Let it be said that we've had a few laughs today. Who brought him up?

A very nice day with the family.

One more thing...who writes the messages on computer programs anyway? Actually I think I do know someone who does that.....I just logged into a site, and apparently a "fatal error occurred". Now, my heart is still beating, so unless someone else died when I clicked on "sign in" I am not really sure what the heck that is supposed to mean. I truly thought that fatal errors invariably involved someone dying, but apparently not.

At least I hope not.

Maybe I shouldn't have confessed to causing that fatal error....

It wasn't me, really.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Snorkel masks, lamps, bully's (again) and biting back

Traveller one over at Stepping Stones has a new post up about those 'aha' moments you get when you are living somewhere else and a mystery is solved, then at the end she talks about flashlights. This has inspired me to tell you about one of the queerer aspects of living on the boat.

Our boat is very small, and very low tech. When someone askes us what type of YACHT we live on, I always explain it like this.

"You know those really fancy bus style RVs you see sometimes?"


"Then there are those pretty cool ones with the people sitting in them, and they have doors and walls that pop out, and they look nicer than your cottage?"


"We live in a VW bus."


Yup, it's small and adorable, and I cannot stand up straight down below. Hey, you want to stand UP!?! Go on deck.

Anyway, in the interest of simplicity, laziness and lack of cash, we have no electrical system. It is a huge amount of work and effort to maintain an electrical system on a boat that flexes bounced and crashes around in salt water...we had no desire to maintain it, we'd rather be sailing and playing with the kids. This means that the only electronics that we have aboard are battery operated. Hand held GPS, VHF radio, Shortwave radio for weather. That's pretty much it. We have an oil lamp hung up outside for lighting up the boat at night, as an anchor light - legally required, and you'd be stupid not to use it anyway...hard to sleep when someone crashes into your boat and sinks it. We also have a beautiful lamp to light up our lives below. Looking at that picture is making me homesick. I love that lamp and the warm homey light it provides. *sigh*

For reading and nighttime work though we had headlamps. These are amazing. With the new LED technology, they weigh about and ounce, and stay on your head like a sweat band. They are bright enough to light up a football stadium, and the batteries last forever. There are two drawbacks however, you look like a convention of nerdy miners, and you have to learn not to look directly at people when you talk to them...It is hard to hear the pearls of wisdom falling from an other's mouth when your eyes are squeezed shut, and you are stunned like a rabbit in the headlights.

Here however is where I start to look immensely nerdy though. Sometimes while cooking I had to wear the headlight to see down into the pots, no problem. We cooked on an alcohol stove, which gives off as a by-product of combustion, a gas that is one of the components in teargas. This is not normally a problem again, the stove is sitting under a hatch (window) and at anchor, the wind usually streams through from the front of the boat back past the stove and on out. Sometimes however, if we are in a strong tide, the water rushing past is enough to swing the boat around so that she is butt into the wind. This blows out that stove so that we have to put the boards into the main hatch (close the door) Well, all of a sudden those gasses are swirling around my face, combined with the onions I almost always use.

Times have come when I have found myself with a snorkel mask on and a I look like SUCH a cooking on the boat. Fully armoured.

As far as my current life goes, my job interview at the language school went reasonably well, possibly because I wasn't wearing a snorkel mask and LED headlight with a carving knife in my hand. The woman I spoke with seemed positive and showed me around, but she was not the woman that normally does the hiring, she could just speak English, we'll see what happens.

At school today my elder daughter got targeted by the same grade six guy, following her around asking her the same questions over and over again...her buddies gathered around, but before they got a chance to do anything, she apparently shoved her face in his, within centimeters and screamed at him...BUZZ OFF YOU FAT OAF!

She told me this as we were walking through the main placa of the town, and she was worried I wouldn't approve. I staggered around giggling helplessly at the image, and the man's comment at dinner was along the lines of, "well done." The boy apparently retreated in some confusion.

The little one said he was doing the same to her, following her around asking the same question over and over...(sheesh, the kids in grade two, you would think a giant grade 6er would be embarrassed) The little one showed us the look she gave him, I think it could best be described as regal disgust...then she walked away from him, leaving him staring at her retreating back.

So far, score two for the foreign kids. They seem to be holding their own.

Their parents are so placid and timid, I've know idea where this came from.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sleep again, blind drivers, invasive information gathering and jobs.

The little one is one of those kids who MUST sleep or everything falls apart and she is a whining mess. There are stages to this. Get her to bed early enough and she is completely happy, comfy, cosy and beds down and crashes within minutes. If you are a little too late, she gets weepy for basically no reason, but is cogent enough to recognize that she is just overtired, and with a hug and a cuddle, will just go to sleep. If you go past that, she turns into an unreasonable yelling screaming weeping nightmare beyond the reach of reason or thought. We went there last night. Poor thing. Finally got her calm enough that she COULD go to sleep. She popped out of bed this morning happy as a clam, and in the middle of breakfast turned to me, "Mommy, you know, after all that, I just went to sleep in an instant last night." We had a little conversation about how she had been way overtired, and she was kind of amazed at her own behaviour.

It is so fantastic watching the insides of their heads turn something over.

In reality the other problem last night, which I am not sure she recognizes or can articulate is that she has no free time anymore. Between getting up and to school, and then lunch and English homework, and then Catalan homework, and then dinner and bed, none. What we have to address is the fact that she is taking FOREVER to do these chores, and if she were a little quicker she would have some free time. She made some time this morning, getting out of bed early to draw...

The thing that I find hard about this, is that I think it is so important, it is a vital part of them as developing humans for them to have time to draw and read and play....we just have to carve it out. And help her to do that too. I think she is getting a fair amount of play time at the school, but the drawing and reading.....
...later, we were fairly successful at this today. We were all much happier for it. She is also just plain old worn out from the hours, which are long, she goes BACK to school at 3 till 5, when in Canada she got OUT at 3:30. Also the strain of learning the Catalan must have an impact as well. Plum tuckered out.

Here is something that impresses me, these kids at this school have been brought up right. Some older boy started to bug my eldest child on the playground yesterday. Nagging her and following her around asking her the same question over and over again. Now if this had happened in North America, most of the kids would have stood around and watched. Maybe the child's best friend would have stood by, but probably wouldn't have said anything. A few kids might have talked back. Here, once the others realized what was happening, about half of her class, boys and girls came over and started yelling at the bigger one, and calling him names and pushing him away. They didn't let it happened, but instead sent him packing. I have got to stay here long enough to see what they are doing so right.

This also brings up the question of why we are so afraid to step in? Even as adults we are hesitant to step in, not just with kids.

Found this article in the Barcelona Reporter, an on-line English language rehash of the local news.File this under WTF? Catalan court finds blind man not guilty for driving BMW at 154km. Maybe I don't need to bother getting that Spanish drivers license after all..I can see anyway.

I was watching Catalan TV on line in a hopeless attempt to learn more Catalan (the internet is AMAZING!) and there was a long show about books, which is great, it's about an hour and a half long. One of the men being interviewed is drinking a beer! On TV! Knocking back a long neck on air! Wow. Then they switched over to a man on a bench reciting a poem, and low and behold I am understanding much better. At first I think it is because it is slower, but then I realise no, the poem is in French. Ah well. This show was amazing. Later I look in and they are dunking a book into a bucket of water...I have no idea why...maybe this is the two thumbs down rating. Then at the end he is talking about future shows, he walks over to the fridge in the back of the set (for storing the beer?) and low and behold, it has yellow post-it notes on it. The camera closes in, and there are the listing of upcoming shows he's talking about! Hilarious.

Between book dunkings, I was looking at stat counters for blogs and websites, and I found things out that are kind of creepy. We are leaving footprints, well I suppose cookie crumbs everywhere we go. I suppose I am naive about this, but really, I am rather horrified. About 10am my time I put an invisible stat counter on this site...suppose I should have told people, but I honestly did not realize how invasive the thing is till I checked it out later. Here is the link to that stat counter. I was going to give out the username and password so you could all find yourselves, but that actually seemed to be a bit of an invasion of privacy, possibly more than the actual tally, and it somehow didn't seem wise. But if you go to that link, and click on the stat-counter logo, it will get you to the free demo, that may well alarm you about how much info is gathered on us as we travel the web. Slight revision of the internet is amazing comments. That said, I imagine I am one of the few who didn't know this so clearly, and also quite possibly one of the few to be offended. I don't mind site counters as such, it is simply the sheer level of detail people get. Kind of makes me shudder. Oh and I removed it from my site.

NOW, the t-shirt drying race. Some surprises in store for us. The two 100% cotton t-shirts dried far faster than the poly-cotton!?! My hypothesis here is that the darker colours soaked up more sunlight, which has real heat in it here, and therefore dried faster. The two t-shirts, wrung and unwrung dried at the same rate. Well, in the interest of scientific truth, I didn't go up and check them during the night, but this morning, there was no significant difference. It was not a day for fast drying though...would there have been more difference if the t-shirts had dried faster? The time lag may have given the unwrung t-shirt time to drip out without significantly reducing it's distance behind the wrung out t-shirt.

Here is the other big surprise to me. In the 50/50 t-shirts, the unwrung one dried FIRST! (Crap...he may be right AGAIN) I am mystified as to why. They are hung next to each other and should have gotten equal time in the sun and wind.

Well, there you have it. We don't have enough t-shirts for me to re-run the experiment with all light or dark in the interest of the pursuit of true scientific proof, I will submit my work for peer review, and declare my findings robust if there is successful duplication of the results. We will have to call Nature magazine.

I may try this again another day.

The husband appears to have received a permanent contract. YIPEEEEEE! This is good news, it is not the most brilliant job in the world, but it is almost impossible to fire someone here, so that lends us a great deal more security, and I am frankly relieved. I am going to take it to the really nice lady in the bank and get her to look it over and make sure that I understood the Catalan properly. Then we are really sure. On this front, I also have a job interview tomorrow with the local language school. I don't have much hope of great wages, or lots of work, but I would like to have some. We'll see what happens with that. Tomorrow looks like errand day...groceries, bank, job interview, then I have to go to the library for this weeks film for movie night. Lets see what I find.

Oh, one more thing...if you haven't noticed this link on my list of blogs I like, this fellow is a Dane living in India, and he is taking some amazing pictures. Very different from the Antarctic ones needless to say.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

MUCH better, thanks, Catalan verbs, Russian and Latvian, and laundry drying.

OK folks, I am feeling much better today, and thank you everyone who sent support both off the blog and on. It all helps.

I decided to have a nap this morning as I haven't been sleeping well lately. partially because I drink pots of tea in the morning and then sometimes nap in the afternoon. I know that's how the Spanish/Catalans do it, but it wasn't working for me. Spiralling down instead, stay up later and later every night, tired, drink tea to stay awake, half nap, stay up late....SO, I had a caffeine free morning...boy, that was strange..can you say addiction? I was two of Snow White's dwarfs all rolled into one...Dopey and mid morning, I faded, but I decided to check out the beds, we had made some changes recently...I had added a foam overlay to the mattress on the floor that the man and I use, the elder daughter had slats put under her mattress on the floor, and the younger daughter has a too short, sprung lattice frame kind of things, that I had never tried.

Well, Goldilocks lay down in Papa bears bed, but it was too hard. Then she lay down on elder sister's bed, but it was too cold, then she lay down on little sisters bed and it was JUST right...soft, and cushy, and had the warm warm sunshine laying over it like another blanket. Mmmmm. It was also the LAST bed I tried in my somnambulistic wanderings. Very nice. I have found the morning napping bed of choice when the sun shines. Unlike Golidlocks, I didn't break anything though.

It has finally gotten chilly here, we were down around 2 and windy which is apparently normal for here. It isn't really all that cold, but I so loathe the purple MEC winter parka that I have had for over 15 years, that it is going to have to get a whole lot colder for me to put it on. It is a great coat, but it is patched and I have grown a wee bit tired of it. Or at least it has not grown cold enough for me to appreciate it's merits.

Spent a good part of the day studying Catalan verbs, and English ones to try to fathom out the Catalan. I have come to the conclusion that verbs are like humans. Complex, transient, conditional, perfectionist, and full of tenses and moods. Look at them long enough and I get tense and moody as well. After going around and around them and trying to compare them to English you know what a present perfect subjunctive verb looks like? I was more than a little lost. I could not make them correspond, nor could a figure out what I was telling people if I said "vaig haver anat" That would be passat anterior perifrastic. I am pretty sure it doesn't exist in English. My poor head.

Went to my Catalan class, again came out feeling like one of the dimmer bulbs in the box, although as my Catalan improves that is waning. Most of the women in the course can speak Castillian, and I am taking the class in both languages, but their Catalan is not improving as fast, since they don't need to use it as much, and I am keeping up better. Even managed to write notes to the teachers and decipher grade 5 math homework!

I asked my Catalan teacher about the verbs and she gave me some useful tips. She cannot speak English, but any light in the gloom helps. First of all, not counting subjunctive which English barely uses, Catalan has 1 present tense to English's, I believe, 5. (I study, I am studying, I have studied, I have been studying, ...) Now some of you language scholars out there are going to correct me, and you are almost certainly right...remember I am only looking at the English to try and figure out what the heck is going on in Catalan.

Past tense differs markedly however. We have 4 past tenses, I sang, I was singing, I had sung, and I had been singing. Catalan has 7, and 3 subjunctive. Guess what they spend their time talking about. Yup, it ain't now. As the husband put it, "What do you expect of a nation that peaked in the 13th century."

This should be fun.

Continuing the linguistic theme, my sister has been contacting tons of wonderful folks, and has come up with more linguistic versions of "What do you want to do?" here they are:

Ce vrei sa faci? This is the Romanian translation. Thank you Marina

Lithuanian: Ką norėtum padaryti?

Russian: Что ты хотел бы сделать?

Estonian: Mida Sa sooviksid teha?

Latvian: Ko tu vēlies darīt?

Castillian: Que quieres hacer?

Isn't cut and paste marvelous?

The great t-shirt drying experiment has begun. Today I hung out 2 dark coloured 100% cotton t-shirts, one rung as well as I could, and the other not. I also hung out 2 50/50 poly/cotton t-shirts, both white, again one wrung and one not. Finally I hung out two dry t-shirts, one 50/50, and one 100%cotton. Hey, I went to university. I know how to set up a robust experiment...that's the control group. THIS is a dry t-shirt. We'll see what happens. They were hung out at about 4:30 pm, no sun, dry air and some breeze. About 2 degrees Celsius. The race is on.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Cranky and disgusted. Thank god for the artist anyway.

Antarctica has updated again
with photos of the Antarctic, and his passage back through the Drake passage. Mercifully calm.

Feeling kind of crabby and despondent this evening. Probably partially because I am trying to adjust to life here now that the kids are off at school. Quite simply I would say I am kinda lonely. Though I would not say that is what I feel from moment to moment, it is probably what is going on. I am not as content as usual. This is compounded by the fact that the school hours are long, and there is always homework as well as the kids English work, and we are so broke right now that I cannot go out and do anything or go anywhere aside from going for walks, which I love to do, but, well, ... well.

Anyway, this is a passing and expected adjustment period, and we have a bunch of guest coming in February, and the kids birthdays are both coming up, so I know it won't last. I just have to get myself re-organized.

The general mood however has not been helped by some of the information that has been sailing by. This first comes from a post over at BooksEtc. Beth found this piece in her Globe and Mail this morning. This gentleman is living in Canada, and his son was arrested in 2006 for suspected terrorist activities. He is "a fundamentalist's fundamentalist" and is certain that his son could not be involved in these sort of activities because he drives a BMW. Well, that is just stupidity. The bit I found alarming came at the end of the post, where he described individuals, devout Muslims, who are infiltrating these groups as well as other's working to stop these groups.

"These are sub humans, these [police informants] and people like [Mississauga MP] Wajid Khan," said Dr. Abdelhaleem. ". . . They all sold their soul to the devil for a job. For money.

"Because in real life they are losers. They are not like my son," Dr. Abdelhaleem said, then left the Tim Hortons in his new Lexus.

Does this not sound a wee bit familiar? Is this not the ancient technique of reducing your opponent to animal status so that they are meaningless and expendable? Scares me witless.

I was also sent this today, which is comparatively light reading, and from a very British angle. The article cited is VERY long, but holds some interesting conclusions.

"I was just reading the paper and having a cup of tea and noticed this article which is quite pertinent to an earlier strand on your blog. It might be a bit too British. Just to fill in the back story. Celebrity Big Brother has been running in the country where various z list celebrities are locked up in a house together. Last week there was definitely bullying by Jade of a bollywood star Shilpa and really it could be considered racist. That's the first thing you might need explaining. Secondly Rotherham is in the north of England, it is ethnically diverse and quite working class.
Here is the article

And then there's this from an interesting looking blog I just found today.

"I'm sure Bob Nardelli is laughing all the way to the bank. The Home Depot CEO was given the boot after six years of keeping Home Depot stores in their messy state. As a nice going-away present, the board gave Nardelli some parting money to the tune of 210 million bucks."

Since this is more than some nations are going to make this year, and certainly more than the annual income of some towns in the developed world, and taken at a time when I cannot even go out for a coffee, and coming on the heels of having to tell a friend that I am not going to be able to go and visit her, this is biting me pretty badly. Yeah yeah yeah, I know, no one ever said life is fair, but this is simply filthy, and you can't talk me out of this stance. Especially as it appears to be a normal way of operating for many firms. This is hardly an isolated incident. The business community needs to figure out what the hell they are doing. At least that's how it looks from here.

Can you say BITTER?

I was well aware that coming here, and getting off the boat would be hard at times. I loved being on the boat so intensely there cannot help but be times when I am dissatisfied, even though we are so incredibly lucky in every way, and I know it. It is just a readjustment to a new way of being, and a new place, and I have to figure out what I am going to do at this point.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Humble pie thankfully, a language study, and the laundry experiment is postponed.

I am eating humble pie over here. Gnawing on my hat. Rubbing dirt in my hair. Had the meeting with the younger child's teacher. And the English teacher. And the special help teacher. All three, lined up to help work out what is best to do. And yes, I was very nice. Very very nice. Since the scene between the little one and her teacher and her subsequent tears last week, and then my bid for a meeting, the teacher's there have made some changes without my interference. The little one is now getting a great deal more help from the special help lady, Mercedes (a very common name here, and the car was named after the woman) who is simply a DREAM. She is very soft spoken and kind and thoughtful, and even speaks some English which is a boon. She seems to LIKE the girls.

The little one's teacher was eager to explain to me about what material they are covering in class, and we got some important information across in both directions. We also hammered out a more effective communication system, and we worked out what our expectations of the little one are and of each other. She is going to try and work with my younger daughter for half an hour every day, one on one. As she doesn't speak any English, it should be quite the intensive language lesson.

She is not a cosy person, or huggy cuddly like in kindergarten, but she seems dedicated, and willing, which goes a long way. She doesn't smile a lot, which probably intimidates the little one a bit, but from what I understand of her phrasing in Catalan, she has a nice way with the kids. She says that all the other children like my daughter, and they all play happily together. She says that the little one is well behaved in class, and that her drawings are amazing...which -she says smugly- I already believed. Anyway, it went well, and we all seem to be on the same side. I thanked her a great deal, and acknowledged how much extra work this is for her, which it is...especially if she is going to do the extra work we have designed until the little one gets a better grasp of the language. She will be sending home work for us to look over with the kidlet in advance, so she has some idea what to do in school. The work load is heavy right now, as they also have to keep up with all their English language work, which in reality encompassed a good portion of their school even before this.

The added difficulty is that the husband and I are taking language lessons four nights a week between the two of us, and we have to evolve a better communication system about the homework expectations in the evenings. The girls also have to do more work at lunch, which is leeeiiiiiissssssssssssssssuuuuuurly as only Spanish lunch hours can be.

Anyway, it went well, and I thought my brain was going to start sliding out my ears like long grey viscous streamers from the effort of speaking and understanding the Catalan. Even with the English teacher there, I was trying to speak both, in part to show them that we are dedicated to the school and the process. The teacher asked how long we are going to stay. Certainly partially out of curiosity, but I am certain also to see if all her work was worth the effort. Can't blame her.

I don't know if the day that she made the girl cry instigated the need to communicate and problem solve...I suspect it did. She was probably growing gradually frustrated, and it blew, and that was the heads up that we needed to work things out. She has been very laid back with the little one in the intervening week. So it is all looking very good. THANK GOD.

I am also deeply glad that the kidlet is having fun with the other kids, and that they are keen on her and want to help her. We also devised some strategies for things that she could do to learn language that would engage her, as I suspect she is clicked out and thinking her own thoughts a lot of the time, while the super-motivated elder child is focusing her considerable mental abilities on learning the language as fast as possible.

Oh, and we also worked out the protocol around the upcoming birthday party in class for the little one. I may even have understood it!

Just don't make my kid cry. Grrrrrrr.

Also today, in lovely moment of feeling like this is a nice place, I had a conversation at the garbage with a woman I had seen many times and not spoken too, and I understood every question, and appeared to have answered it properly. Then she did something that was so nice. I actually don't know many peoples names here, though I know a lot of people to say hello to. This woman, Carmen, stopped just as we were parting, asked my name, and shook my hand. Sounds small, but it was a lovely thing. Welling up over here in that pathetic? I don't think so.

I have been doing a little language research. I have been amazed at the brevity of Catalan. Many of the words are monosyllabic, and most of the longer ones are imports, or at least very similar to words I know from other languages, such as poligon...can you figure that one out? There are also many words which have, as I posted before, two meanings depending on if they are feminine or masculine as well as their various connotations, and extra meanings like we have, what are those? Synonyms? Homonyms? Anyway...the poetry in Catalan must be particularly dense as the texture and robustness of meaning for each word seems to be so intense. Some languages are so much WoRdiER. English is actually pretty brief, especially compared to languages like french, so I started asking around. Here was the phrase, picked entirely at random.

"What do you want to do?"

"Que vols fe?" in Catalan
"Co chceš dělat – in Czech
"Čo chceš robiť – in Slovack, Cz and Sl thanks to D at my sister's work.
"Šta ćeš da radiš?" (Serbian) Thanks SH at my sister's work
"Co chcesz zrobiæ?" (Polish) Thanks again sis
"Mit kersz csinalni?" (Hungarian, a language with it's own bush as it doesn't fit on those language trees) Thanks mom
"quis operor vos volo efficio?" (Latin) thanks dad -though he googled that, his prize for latin when he was twelve should be returned don't you think?
Qu'est ce tu veux faire? (Rusty me)
"was willst Du machen?"(German)Thanks C F-H
"Wat willt Je doen?" (dutch maybe)and again C F-H
"Was möchtest Du machen" - when it's a one friend you are asking
"Was möchtet Ihr machen" - when it's a group of friends you are asking
"Was möchten Sie machen" - when it is more formal, asking somebody more senior
"Was möchten Sie machen" - when it is formal and you are asking a group of senior people (in this case, plural is the same as singular) The last four a very detailed listing of German. Thanks Andi at my sister's work. My sister did a ton of work for this...
"what do you want to do" = "ç'do të bësh" is the short version,
"çfarë dëshiron të bësh" is the long one in Albanian (these are the singular and also the familiar ways of addressing someone, not the plural or the formal/respectful ones).
Thanks Llukan, who posted in the comments at stepping stones.

I also have a request out for Wolof (sp?) from Senegal...which I will add if it comes in. (The spell checker is funny) If you have any more languages out there, oh readers, feel free to post them in the comment, any script would be lovely as I can just cut and paste it. If I have made any mistakes - insert the usual disclaimer that it is all my fault - which it is and I will correct anything I am sent. I meant to get Castillian, but I was 50 minutes late for a 60 minute Catalan lesson after my marathon session with the teachers. Yes, all three of them spent nearly two hours with me after a full day of teaching. Chewing on the humble pie over here. Glad to do it in fact, far better than worrying still.

"What do you want to do?"
"Que vols fe?"
"Co chceš dělat –
"Čo chceš robiť –
"Šta ćeš da radiš?"
"Co chcesz zrobiæ?"
"Mit kersz csinalni?"
"quis operor vos volo efficio?"
Qu'est ce tu veux faire?
"was willst Du machen?"
"Wat willt Je doen?"
"Was möchtest Du machen"
"Was möchtet Ihr machen"
"Was möchten Sie machen"
"ç'do të bësh"
"çfarë dëshiron të besh"

The short familiar singular form of Albanian is as short as the Catalan but neither by as much as I had anticipated. They are so efficient with this language. I am not sure I will ever read Albanian poetry in the original, but this makes me wish I could. Then again, I'd like to read the Catalan too. This brevity and density kind of scares me. It is like when a toddler says "cup" and what they really mean is: I want you to give me my green cup with the dog, and the yellow lid, fill it half way with warmed milk, and put it down exactly here, and if you don't do it EXACTLY like that I will throw myself on the floor and scream myself senseless for an hour and a half and there will be NOTHING on this earth you can do to stop me. The only one who can understand this is someone who has 'grown up' with the child, or language, or studied it intensely for ages. The pitfalls seem myriad.

At least people smile rather than tear their hair when I run over their language like a horde of mongols in my attempts to speak and write it.

The great laundry wringing experiment has been deferred due to rain. I had it all planned, but the rain would mess it up too badly. I'll have to post when I know more.

Slept poorly last night. A nap might be in order tomorrow.

Night folks, bonna vespre.


If you haven't been following this blog by a glass sculptor, David Ruth, in Antarctica studying ice, you should go and check it out. He has left, and is posting the last of his photos gradually. It is amazing.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

So and boats and walks and crowds and sea glass again

OHHHHH, so much to say, so little time....this might be looooooonnnnnnggggggggg. Even by my standards.

The little one got up early this morning, and like kids everywhere wanted to watch Looney Tunes! The hilarious thing about this is that she has NEVER had the chance to before. I think Warner Bros. must have some sort of kid drug, they are infused by a knowledge of these is in the air. Well, the amazing thing is...we found it! On the internet! Sure enough they were all sitting here watching it. The husband and all. The internet is an amazing place. Just amazes me what you can find. Some of it's a little scary though. NB. never type the word rough into Youtube, even if you have the word sailing before it and weather after. Never.

Went for a long walk with all of us, the aim was to walk over to a nearby town, then down to the beach to see some traditional boats, then catch a bus home, and this is mostly what we did. The walk was fun, we went past a house that most of my extended family had rented in November. We all had a blast if I say so myself. We continued walking down a frankly ugly road, but there were some fascinating bits and pieces here. There was a working farm with eucalyptus trees. I can only assume they will be processed for the oil... Also saw a banana tree growing in someone's yard.

The exhibit when we got there was good. The artist, Fransesc Artigau, had some interesting pieces. I liked his watercolour work, and his colours were delightfully, and boldly bright and brilliant.

The bottom one doesn't have the best resolution, but I wanted it in. He had a whole bunch of paintings of women tracing the shadows of men, often while being embraced by them. More often than not, the women did not have any shadows of their own, despite the light being blindingly on them. Still pondering this.

He also had a lot of women in red shoes. I like red shoes to, I must say, but I am not sure why they make it into his pictures so much. Good art should leave you thinking, and while the red shoe question isn't very profound, there is something to gnaw on with the woman/man/artist/shadow/lit/unlit/embrace/embraced question.

We left the exhibit and wandered along a little further, found an old tower that was used to keep an eye out for pirates - no kidding - up and down the coast. Presumably they could hide in these as well. You find them further in land as well, so they must have been marauders on land too. Behind it was the prettiest little narrow walkway. No camera still, it had a large beautiful stone wall up one side, and on the other, skinny little stairs going down, and the building there had pots mounted all over it, with flowers and greenery in them, beyond it widened, but you could see the different walls, all at slightly different angles, and with slightly different coloured stones, the sun skittering and playing over them. In the foreground, someone had hung out a small pink sheet. It was so achingly beautiful.

The beach was a little chilly. The wind was a bit cold, and we were all in sweat shirts. I never got cold, but I am still a little chilled inside, if you know what I mean. Found TONS of sea glass on the beach. Nothing like having the kids looking too. Lots and lots of yellow, including some biggish pieces, one marbled, the little one found a big hunk of red, I found some by coloured blue and white pieces, and a tricoloured red, white and clear piece. I am afraid to mail these. FedEx? I think not. So my friend we have a HUGE package of gorgeous stuff coming your way. Those girls are GOOD. We were walking pretty fast, there must be a ton we missed. The yellow is downright common here! Wish I had a camera to show you all what it looks like.

As we were munching our sandwiches, one of the traditionally styled fishing boats came into the beach, and I was fascinated to see how they managed this. Beach landings are always a little tricky, and these boats are pretty big and heavy, like this:

I had trouble finding better pictures, which amazes me, but then again, not everyone is as boat mad as me. Anyway. He drove the boat straight up the beach, while a friend hooked a cable to a point low on the bow, and operated some sort of electric winch, probably a bit like what you would find on the front of a jeep. He tighten that up, while the man in the boat took off the rudder, climbed up over the bow, and placed a round timber under the bow. Then they tightened it up, pulling the boat up onto the timber. Another was placed about 6 feet in front of that, and they moved them up the beach as the boat moved, until it was far enough up! Isn't that how the Egyptians built the pyramids? Still works.

We got a chance to see more of the boats further down the beach, and to talk briefly to one of the fishermen. I tried to chat him up, but my Catalan isn't good, and fishermen are more responsive to a blonde's questioning, if it isn't done through her husband with two small kids in tow. The boats we are seeing on the beach here are used by amateur fishermen. The pro's also have some, but they are bigger and they are kept in the larger ports. The ones we are seeing here are an old traditional design. We have certainly seen some very large steel fishing boats with huge capacity. We have also been told that the boats are getting bigger, although the catch is about the same. Sound's ominously like the cod fishery. Lets hope not.

As we reached the end of our beach walk we were at an overlook for a harbour. We saw a 470 coming in. Sweet boat, but they didn't seem that hot. Kinda, you know, well....rammed the dock. *embarrassed hmmmmmmmmm*. Then once the boat was out, they left the sails floggin in the breeze forever and a day. If they were salty, they never rinsed them, and if they weren't, why didn't they take them down? Then another fellow came in sailing his BEAUTIFUL little picnic dingy. It was wood, high-sided and tubby, clinker built with oars stored on each side. The main was cut a little strangely, large roach at the the second batten, then a dead straight line down. No jib. He had lovely blue and white striped cushions inside and an outboard that must date to the 50's. He sailed it in so neatly, just kissed it up to the dock, and he had a tail wind too. Lovely little boat.

On the walk back up, the girls started asking about the relative size of Spain, and Canada, Ontario and Catalunya and Europe as a whole. The stats were quite amazing when we came to look them up at home. Comments about the wonders of the internet could be inserted here. Canada is about 10 million km square to Spain's 500,000. Canada's population however is about 32 million to Spain's 44 million. What that means is that in Canada, were we to spread out evenly, we would each get about 14 square km. In Spain, each square kilometer would include 88 people.

I looked up Europe to compare with Canada, and used the Wiki Europe entry. There are 728 million people in Europe, and a land mass ever so slightly larger than Canada. This is the broadest geographic description of Europe that you can make, and is based on the geological definition as well as the geopolitical. So includes all of western and eastern Europe, Russia, Iceland, Spitzbergen, and well over to the Urals. This leaves 68 people in each square Km.

For comparison, the US has 300 million people in 9.6 million square km, with 31 people per square kilometer. It would tighten up a lot with out Alaska too.

No wonder Europe feels claustrophobic sometimes.

Geez, a busy day, and we probably walked about 12 kilometers to boot. No wonder the little one is a touch cranky. They are on the terrace again playing. A little cooler today, they're wearing socks and shoes and sarongs as well as bathing suits.

Quiet evening, kids off to bed. The husband made a great dinner. Watched an amazing video of a laker hitting a lift bridge. I may post it tomorrow. I doubt anyone got hurt, the guys on the bridge of the ship would have seen it coming in time to get out of the way. I hope. Though they must have been thinking immovable object vs irresistible force thoughts. If you want to search for it, I think it was titled ship vs bridge, although we typed in ship crash.

Have a lovely evening. Oh, and I think the little one has the eye-infection now. OH JOY. At least they waited till the medical cards came through.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Chimps, laundry, nightmare sailing and a sunburn.

This is an on-line petition to release captive chimps from medical testing. Sign if you will.

As I have posted before, we have to hand wash our laundry. we also line dry it. Everyone here line dries it in fact. Well, I suppose some people buy driers, and apparently you can get machines that both wash and dry. Can't picture that in my future. Line drying laundry has some interesting side effects. We get an view into looking at how people live. There is a major highway near us, running into Barcelona, and when driving along it, I am stunned every time by the people who live right next to it. Really right next to it. I am no clean freak by any definition, but an apartment there would drive me to despair. The sheer volume of filth that would come in all the time would eventually make me weep. The amazing thing is that they hang their laundry on racks mounted to the outside of the building. Here again is a link as I have such bad luck with blogger photos.
Now honestly, by the time it was dry it would be dirtier than it started. When we drove in from the airport the first time, I prayed to not have to live somewhere like that. So far so good.

Now I have an unspoken question in my marriage. Is that the right phrase? No. Maybe it is just one of those things you discover being married. Now you would think that putting laundry out on the line would be a straight forward job, and there would be pretty much one way you could do it. But no. Turns out my husband and I differ on this markedly. We don't differ on clothes peg allotment, or hanging style too notably, we have been hanging out laundry for enough years to have figured out what works in which conditions, but here's the rub. Now I don't want ANYONE to think that I am complaining. Never in all my days am I going to utter the merest peep of complaint, comment or criticism about anyone doing a chore. (I hope) I'm just glad I am not the one doing it. That said, here's the difference, and I find this fascinating. When I go to hang the laundry out, I vigorously wring every drop of moisture I possibly can from the clothing before pinning it up. The husband hangs it up soaking wet and dripping. His way is certainly less work, although the bag must be brutally heavy to carry up to the terrace, but I think my way probably dries faster, but does it? Most of the water drips out of his pretty quickly. Is he onto something here? I may have to run a test on this. Two t-shirts, one wrung one unwrung, and time them. How did we come to the different conclusions is the other question. Now if you live here,

your laundry HAS to be wrung out, or it would be most rude. The sheet like jobs are to keep the pigeon offerings off the laundry. Here is a link to the photo in case bl&%$gger doesn't post it. (I am looking to move away from here...)

It is unusually warm here this every where, and the kids are up on the terrace with a hose and bathing suits washing I think everything down, possibly including the clean laundry that is hanging out to dry, but given the husbands technique with that, it may not matter. They have created a band with the chairs and are serenading the neighbourhood, the little one is a drummer and singer, the elder is singing alone. I have been forced in off the balcony as I think I am getting a sunburn. Go ahead, hate me, I can take it. *demonic laughter* HAHAHAHAHA

Oh, that wasn't nice was it.

OK, here is a type of sailing I NEVER want to do. These guys are racing in hurricane conditions in the southern ocean, cold, wet windy as hell, and thousands of miles from anywhere. If you put the volume on, you can hear them shouting about big waves, and asking repeatedly if they have everyone. Not for me.

Just so you know, all of the guys are firmly tied on with harnesses, and they did not lose anyone, although I am sure they were all quite bruised and battered.

It is getting noisy here. There is a community center, club and general place where people have fun at the end of our street, and every Saturday afternoon, they have about 400 kids there. The three guys who live downstairs help out, taking masses of kids off into the hills or off for treasure hunts or whatever it is that they do. The noise gets quite astonishing, and then diminishes quickly as they head out. Then builds wildly when they get back, all the kids tired and happy, and the parents all asking what happened and chatting with each other. A huge community life that we can't quite make it into. Soon, soon, just need to learn some language. While this was building, there was a buzz on the bell, and two girls were asking for the elder child, who was up on the terrace dressed as an fighting woman, and took a few moments to appear. The girls are now off playing down the street. The little one wanted to go too, and when the husband took them down, they seemed quite welcoming. Hope it all goes well. seems to have. They came back fairly content, and we had a peaceful evening. I am feeling a little restless, but we have a long walk planned for tomorrow. I was thinking of something that was worth blogging about at dinner, and now I cannot remember what. Ah well.

Oh, but here's this, from the list of Catalan words designed to drive everyone else nuts. I suspect this list would be longer in English. It's such a dog's breakfast of a language. In Catalan, there is this nifty word, mai. Pronounce it like "my". There on the page all by itself, it looks so innocuous. So, well, kind. But really it is a trap, a ruse, a trick. You know why? It has two meanings. Now you are thinking, there are plenty of English words like that and You're right. But how many of them are opposites? You've got it, mai means either never or ever. HOW are you supposed to figure that out? I mean really!

Here's one little thing more.....

Laundry like we used to do it....

Here's the link for this. We never had quite so much in the cockpit, and no that is not us, haven't a clue who it is in fact, but the link will take you to their site.

This may well be in Nassau. There are guys who live in little boats like that, and while I have never seen laundry out on one of them, it is well within the realm of possibility.

Here's the link should the photo fail

Sailing video, school bullying Spanish style, matches, school

First of all, to those of you in Holland, Poland and the UK, hope your roofs stayed on and all is well.....

Just received an e-mail from the google ad people welcoming me blahblahblah, and was informed that I am not to ask people to click on the ads. Of course I would never do that, and have not done that, they are just there because I am so in love with the free market principle of being able to place ads anywhere, however damned annoying they are. Why would I want to advertise the ads????? I will be renting out my forehead soon. Any bidders?

Much more delightfully....I've been there, done ALL of that, and raced most of the boats they have there. Hey, Mel, you out there? We should take the 14 out this summer!

I also found this quote from an article in an English language news site. It was about a 12 year old girl that was set upon by her classmates. About 10 of them. She came out with bruising and minor injuries. Now I in no way want to minimize what happened to this girl. It is truly horrendous, but I do think that it is astonishing that it made the national papers. I am sorry, but in my experience this must happen several times a DAY in North America, and it certainly doesn't even make the little local papers. Implies to me that the culture here is a good deal less tolerant of this kind of crap than back in N.A.

This however is a take on school bullying I never expected.

"...The justice system is also looking for ways to stop violence in schools. The public prosecutor at Andalusia’s High Court has made clear that attacks on teachers will be tried, if the case so warrants, as a crime rather than a mere misdemeanor.

The recent demonstration in Barcelona was organized by the Eduard Marquina school, where three members of its staff - the principal, the director of studies and a custodian - were attacked by a student’s family."

Glória Zaragoza, the director of studies who was assaulted, said that a student’s father “grabbed me by the neck while the mother encouraged him, shouting: ‘Kill her, kill her!’”
from the Barcelona Reporter

Please note, this is violence against teachers and school officials by the FAMILY! The kids don't dis each other here, they go after the adults WITH Mom and Dad. Good LORD!

Now, I have to confess that I have a few quirks left over from living on the boat, where our resources were extremely limited. I very strong feelings about wasting water and gas, and feel guilty if anything boils for a moment longer than necessary. This spills over in one way that I find fairly funny, and you will probably find bizarre to neurotic. It involves matches. We have a gas stove here that requires matches to light the burners. No problemo, we just pick them up at the local grocery store, the Condis. However, one time I went, they were only extra large matches, about two and a half times longer than your usual match. Now, by the time you've lit it, and lit the burner, you've only barely burned the tip of the match. There is about 2 inches of perfectly useful, albeit unlightable match left. I cannot bring myself to throw these out, especially since there are only about a third the matches in the box, so they will last only a third as long till I have to buy more. I know, how much do matches cost. But believe me, we are able to leverage our lifestyle out of our income by thinking about things like this. Fortunately the husband is with me on this, and doesn't look at me like I am insane. In boat life, this was ENTIRELY logical. We may not have even gotten to a store in time, and if we did, they might not have sold matches, so we would have done what I am doing here. After I have lit a match, and the stove, I blow out the match, then set it aside on the marble counter to wait. Then some time when I need to light another burner and I have one lit already, I just pick up one of these used babies, and off I go. Light the candles for the table too. I always feel faintly silly, but also justified. Weird I know.

My struggle to master Catalan continues, and I continue to discover interesting things about the language, and having done anthropology way back in university, I feel there is some reflection of the culture as well. For instance in Catalan there is a verb, esperar. It has two meanings, both to hope and to wait. You can see how this might be, but also why we might have separated them. In a manana culture, maybe all waiting requires hope? There is another quirk to Catalan. Like many romance languages, it has a masculine and feminine gender for nouns. Here's the quirk. In a fit of conservation - like me saving matches?- they have used the same word twice. Once masculine and once feminine with different meanings. This is done relatively often, and is quite the mine-field for the novice speaker, but here's an example. El planet (masculine) is a planet, like Earth or Mars. La planet is fate of fortune. My feminist side always feels the need to rise up and jeer/scream about some of these I'll confess. So we have the masculine. Solid, supporting life, and the feminine fickle dangerous and unpredictable. At least it makes it easier to remember which is which. Stereotypes anyone?

I have got to get some friends so I don't have such long posts.

I have been talking about the kid's school a lot lately, and a number of people who know that I have been homeschooling my kids for years, both on the boat - fairly obviously - and before, have e-mailed to ask why we have put the kids into school. So here is a brief answer. A lot of why we came here is to experience a new culture intimately, and this is best done through acquiring the language and integrating with the people. Beyond that, my husband is Catalan, and his family left here for Canada when he was four. He speaks Catalan, and it is what he spoke at home, and it is half of our children's heritage. They have a chance to know about where they came from, and they aren't going to learn about it sitting around the house with me. Finally, they need to make friends, and that will not happen unless they go to school. My understanding is that the homeschooling movement is practically non-existent here, and the English speaking home-schooling movement must be limited to about two kids, who just left it. We have also moved them around a lot, and while they made friends while we were on the boat, these are not people that we see very often. It will be nice for them to have friendships that last a little longer. The eldest just said today, that she thinks the kids here are nicer than at any of the schools she's been to in Canada, there is no boy/girl rivalry, and there don't appear to be the cliques that form, or at least she hasn't seen them yet. We'll see what high school is like if we're still here by then. I kind of hope we will.

Update on school. The little one is reasonably happy going to school, although she says she doesn't like her teacher, which is a shame, she went in all ready to LOVE her, and has been disappointed. She appears to be getting the special help four days a week like her sister now, and seems to be engaging with the work more. She likes is generally, but frequently states that she misses the boat. Several times a week in fact. This is a little hard for me to hear, as I do too, and I am sorry that we have upset her again, but I think that as she settles in here she will grow more content. She is also generally pretty happy with the other kids, and has commented that they really seem to like her, and she is part of the gang, which is not something that she ever felt in Canada.

The dreaded sheep heart dissection is over. THANK GOD. I wasn't sure I had more negotiating in me. Woke up this morning frankly dreading it. It was the first question she asked this morning and the subject of a long discussion at breakfast, in which we discussed the inherent hypocrisy in being willing to eat meat, but not face where it came from. Something many of us do, also the fact that as dissections go this is relatively humane, as unlike all those frogs and fish and worms that went under our amateur knifes, the animal has not died merely for our edification, which is a little sick in fact. I found the fetal pig I had to do in high-school fascinating, but also rather disturbing. There must be an industry out there producing them....

Anyway, it was scheduled for this afternoon, so she went off reasonably calmly this morning. Well heavens above, someone was in my corner, and hers. They did it first thing!!!! YEAH! She walked into the room with these pink glistening blobs, the teacher got right into it off the bat, apparently there was blood everywhere. The elder did not disgrace herself by fainting,barfing or weeping, and then, the heavens were with her too, she got pulled out to go to her special help group! How good is that! She came home and we had a blessedly peaceful lunch, no angst, negotiation, crying or fighting, just relaxed. And no, there is still no soap in the bathroom at school, even after I pointed it out. We have bought some to donate, but the eldest is too embarrassed to leave it there. Another topic to work our way through.

Now however it is the weekend, cap de setmana (Head of the week rather than weekend. Now which culture views leisure time as more important?). YEAH. We watched Fantasia, ate popcorn and chocolate, and the man and I had decaf mochas and popcorn. Life is good.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spanish medical system, predictable illness, language, ads.

Took our first dive into the Spanish medical system today...the kids managed to be simultaneously ill, so here is one tired mama on line. Following standard medically established parameters for the incubation of greeblies, they fell ill precisely ten days after they began school. What a surprise. The elder managed to get something in her eye yesterday afternoon on the way back to school. It hurt, we couldn't find anything, she went into school. She seemed fine when I picked her up, and was fine all evening, but when she went to bed it got all swollen and puffy, and it watered and it hurt. I suspect that like the rest of us, she had been scrubbing at it a bit to set it off again. Took her ages to get off to sleep because she was uncomfortable, but she went, and I had hopes it would heal overnight. Then in the middle of the night the younger one arrives, she has a stomach ache. She's been up for a bit already, and we are up for a couple of hours more. I get up in the morning, and let them sleep in, unfortunately the little one only sleeps in for about half an hour, but is otherwise fine. Eventually I wake up the elder, with a headlight on examining her eye. A little gloopy and watery, very red and puffy, but no dolmens come out. Hmmmmmm.

Start to get them ready for school, checking the eye periodically, the little one gets another small short lived stomach ache though it went away quickly again.

Decided that the eye should be looked at so off we go. One block to the local medical center. Show them our newly acquired medical cards, and settle in to wait. But no, sent up to wait outside the Doctor's office right away. We do have to wait here for about half an hour, as we had no appointment, this seems pretty reasonable to me. More than half of the parents there were the Dad's, and one grandma was there. An interesting take on the current situation.

Got in, the Doctor spoke Spanish, no Catalan, but some English. Diagnosed an eye infection, gave us a prescription and off we went. I am not sure it is true conjunctivitis, but it is red inflamed and goopy...Then off to the pharmacy. Oh, the Doctor was free, paid by the universal health care. The pharmacy though, with two prescriptions, I figure is going to trash our rather tight budget for the end of the month. Get in there, she gets the stuff, asks for the health card, which I show her. I ask the price. "Dos i quart". I shake my head and run that over again.

"Did she say two and four?" runs through my weary head...

Holding up two fingers, "Dos?" (TWO) I am sure that my sleep deadened brain has ruined my ability to even understand whether she is speaking Catalan or Castillian, because some people use on and some the other and the numbers are subtly different.

I have been understanding people so far today, and even managed to produce notes for the kids in Catalan, that the teachers may be able to figure out. I understood the Doctor and the people in the waiting room, but I appear to have used up my quota of comprehension all of a sudden.

"Si, dos i quart."

I stare at her blankly in astonishment, she turns the computer screen and then gives me the receipt. 2 Euros and 4 centimos. That's it. For two prescriptions. It is covered by the health care system. How incredibly marvelous. As a Canadian I am used to universal health care, but our prescriptions are not covered, and I have paid a LOT of money at times for medications. WOW. I am living in the right place.

Drop the kids at school, manage to communicate to the teacher what has happened, and then have a long conversation with one of the librarians who is very friendly, and who I haven't seen in a while. She even crosses the street and half runs over to talk to me! I may even get a FRIEND someday! Her daughter (I think, daughter and son sound fairly similar) goes to the same school as the girls, but is much younger, and the little girl (boy?) had been telling her that there were two new students who were English. The little girl(boy) told the librarian their names, which of course she knew from our constant haunting of the library, and her father, who had been picking the child up described me. Yup, that's us. We stand out in the crowd here.

The librarian unfortunately has pneumonia (I think. Blessedly she carried most of the conversation, nevertheless, I think I understood most of it) She hasn't been able to work since before Christmas and is still sick. Bluck. I wondered why she hadn't been there. The librarians are all very helpful and very nice, but she is even more so.

Nice start to a day when your tired. May nap this afternoon so I am a good mommy this evening rather than soaring around on my broomstick. (I did, and I was a reasonably good mommy, no broomsticks in sight)

The crisis de jour around school is the eldest child's extreme angst about the pending sheep heart dissection. I have to confess to not being very sympathetic as I always found those things kind of cool...the husband barely got through them though. We'll have to see. She has gnashed her teeth and wailed about it, and then at the end of the day handed me a BEAUTIFULLY scripted, highly cogent, lucid, detailed letter explaining why she shouldn't have to go. Some of the reasons are quite good. I had decided that she was doomed but I then again I would like to encourage her in such a well thought out and mature approach. I think she may get a reprieve based on the excellence of her presentation.

We are already such oddballs though...maybe I could use the illness card, they have been sickly today. The little one has developed a lovely cough too. One night with too little sleep and all those opportunistic bugs that she had been effectively keeping at bay saw their moment. Damn it.

You may have notice that I have gone over to the dark side and put up some ads, some more may follow, and I will probably twitch them around a bit, or take them down altogether. I get paid if you click, I think that is the gig...anyway, we'll see what happens.

The rather big-brotherish alarming side of it is all the spy ware that you can get to go along with it. This shouldn't have come as a big surprise, but there ya have it. There are all sorts of channels, and downloads, and systems to track who is looking at what when. Kind of spooky and a bit in your face. For what it is worth, I haven't gotten any of those, other than the cluster map which you can see too. Those I think are kind of fun. The places people are looking in from. So cool.

One little teeny tiny person, a little dot on the map of the world, waving madly...

"Hi out there."