Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tough trees

Check these trees out!

Aren't they magical?  The ground has eroded down around them, but they're still clinging to their plot of earth hard as they can.


Took these photos on a long walk in the hills with Chuck, in Catalunya, just getting them posted now.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More strange folks.

Went out to walk the dog early early the other day (6am) and a clean, shaven, muscular man in his mid-thirties in beige pants a t-shirt and flat sneakers called out to me, "Do you live there sweetie?"

That was a little weird.

Then he proceeded to, rather incoherently, beg for 8 bucks.  End of the month, got a flat, can't pay to get it fixed.

If he hadn't called me sweetie, and started out asking where I lived, if he had looked at me some of the time, though he said he was embarrassed.

I didn't give him the money, partially cause I didn't have my wallet, partially cause I didn't have the money and partially cause he was kinda weird.

I did feel bad though too....the 27th?  Said he had $32 in the bank and was 8 short.  Could be true.

Where are these people coming from?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This doesn't happen in Catalunya

The day we arrived, and again today someone mistook me for someone they know.  One asked if I was Olga.  Mmmm, no.  Another started a conversation with me as we were running towards each other.  Then was shocked to discover that I wasn't who they thought I was.


Both men.  A new kind of pickup line?

I must look like I'm from Toronto.

Monday, June 27, 2011

iPod in the car!!!!!!

The rental car this year? I can hook up the iPod.

I find it hard to express how pathetically happy this makes me.  The only downside is that I don't seem to have much choice of what I listen to, and I cannot go back to where I was if I shut it off in mid podcast....I have to listen again from the beginning.

Oh woe is me!!!!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back in North America

Flew back to TO and managed to get some sleep last night so all is pretty darned good.

There was some minor excitement in the airport however.  A woman was running, barefoot, through the airport without any bags or baggage.  This is after we've gone through security and immigration checks.  Not only was she running barefoot through the airport, she was also crashing blindly into people, walls and whatever else got in her way.  Then she would sit down with folks, take their water and drink it.

Can you say HIGH as a kite?????  Either that or she hadn't taken her meds.

Eventually I went over to a booth and mentioned to the ladies there that someone should call security.  This lady was clearly in no state to fly and I have NO idea how she got through...though the fact the women's bathroom was closed for cleaning for more than half an hour argues to some shenanigans in there as well.

The guardia civil came and took her away, a couple of young guys who seemed fairly civilised.  I was a little concerned when they showed up.  She was completely non-responsive verbally, and would follow directions for a few seconds before beginning to wander again.  Then she started pulling up her dress and showing people her undies (blessedly she was wearing them).

Tourist? Local?  Don't know.  Sad though.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Newbie question

Ok folks, anyone out there know how this works?  I'd like to do a couple of 5K runs this summer, my schedule is hellish, so that is limiting, but almost all the runs I can find on line are for charity, which is great, but ya know?  I don't really want to go out there knocking on doors to raise money.  I know that sounds horrid, but I don't.  Especially if I'm going to do two or three different ones.

Do you HAVE to raise money to go in these things?  Doesn't your enrty fee cover some of this?  Where can I find runs that are just runs, but not SUPER serious????


I have, on the fundraising side, found this cool site which hooks up athletes (THERE's a generous term) and sponsors.  If you go here on Fatty's blog (he IS an amazing fund raiser!!!!) he'll tell you ALL about it.  I am part of team fatty at this point and we've raised quite a bit of money so far just by registering our regular work outs.  Free for us, and I know, sounds like a free lunch, but you don't have to give them any financial info and no spam increases have been noticed by yours truly here.

See, I'm not all evil, I just want to go for a couple of 5Ks as a goal, and not have to schlep around for funding.

Any ideas?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Went on a long long walk with Chuck today.

THAT was a delight.

He did manage, during a five hour walk in the mountains, to take the only dump of the entire walk right next to a park ranger type guy and his truck.  I had to pick that one up, and we were still 45 minutes out.  NICE WORK DOG!

It was a hot day and we were walking in the middle of it all, so on the uphill sections we both got kinda toasty.  The hills here are filled with natural springs if you know where to look for them, and I do when I am on the turf closer to home.  So when we got to this one, I thought Chuck would have a drink.  He had another plan.

Yup, not the approach I would take, he lay down in the stream flowing out of it.  That water is COOOOOLD!!!!

I contented myself with a drink and wetting my hair.  I know, I should learn to live big, but what the heck.

Lovely day.  We're off to dinner with friends for the evening, it is San Joan today, so lots and lots of fireworks.  Chuck's gonna have a rough evening on his own.  We'll close it all up tight and he'll get by.

Bon revetlla tothom!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

SUPER tired

Kids are finished school....parties over....packings begun......I am still working......

and I need sleep.

Getting better, managed a walk in the hills today and only puffed a bit on the ascents!!!!

Now it is VERY very late and I must sleep.

Good night all.  Hope you had a good one.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts on Spain. Sí. Sóc indignada.

The indignats have it right in so many ways.  I do have to disagree with other points.  The focus has to be on transparency and gov't cleaning up its own corruption.

For me, what has to be done first and foremost is get the budget under control, but to do this, the gov't has to do two things.

1.  Make the cuts it needs to

2.  Clean up the hemorraging of government money into corruption and the black market.

How to do this?

Open the books.  There is no transparency into gov't accounts in Spain.  No one may see the books at national, regional, provincial or municipal levels.  I cannot find out what my local municipal gov't pays itself, for example, nor find out how their expense accounts have been used. If you aren't willing to show your accounts, one is certainly right in assuming that some skimming, at the best, is going on.  If that is so, people will do all they can to avoid paying taxes, with the correct assumption that a portion of the money will be filtered off into people's pockets.  Thus leading to a flourishing blackmarket economy - they say that conservatively 25% of the Spanish economy goes on under the table - further impoverishing the gov't in its efforts to provide service.

Yeah, some cuts have to be made, but before you cut local emergency health services, which is one of the things they are looking at doing in our village for instance, you have to clean up at home.

3.  More fair financial laws, ie bankruptcy laws.

People HATE the banks.  Do this one thing, and they will be so much happier.  Allow bankruptcy laws, for a certain protion of the population ie. not the rich who have money in Geneva and Jersey.  Here in Spain, if you cannot pay your mortgage and the bank seizes your house, you loose it, all the money from it and you - get this - still have to continue to pay out your full term of the mortgage even though the bank has recouped its money via the seizure.

Hmmmm, me thinks, if you lose your house cause you can't pay the mortgage, how can you pay the mortgage and rent?????

End that law and the general population will be OH so much happier.

Oh, and the tax on renovation homes AKA infrastructure improvement?  That's just stupid.

4.  Catalan issues

Finally, throw a few bones to the autonomous regions that are driving the freaking economy.  Leave the damn language laws alone.  Tell the ignorant PP (inheritors of Franco's party) MPs to stop being idiots.  Recently a PP MP, on one of her first days in office, went to the education ministry demanding 'bilingual education' for her child, ie: more Spanish in schools.  I would LOVE to see the statistics on bilingualism in Spain, cause I can guarantee you that every. single. Catalan. is. bilingual.  No where else in Spain can you say that.  Nowhere else.  I think her kid's getting that bilingual education.  No?

Oh, and that transperency issue, the constant rumours of inequities in benefits between regions could be rectified.  There is nothing wrong, in my mind, with richer parts of the country giving more into the national tax base than they get out, but they shouldn't receive fewer benefits.  The saying goes that all the kids in Andalucia are given computers at public high school.  Not here.  Is this true?  Who knows, no one can see the books, one goes based on what one's neighbours nephew in Malaga gets.  Rumours say that retired people in the south of Spain get more than retired folks here.  Again, runours, based on the numbers of someone's grandfather and not on facts.

No one wants kids in different parts of the country to have inferior educational opportunities or access to health, but no one's kids should have inferior educational opportunities nor access to health care, whatever part of the country they come from, no?

I may have a couple of these facts wrong, but as a normal folk working here day by day and not a political pundit, this is the best of my knowledge, if any of you know better or otherwise, I'd love to hear from you!

My two cents.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mental space

For what it is worth, I am doing better today, though rather weak and woozy.  Eating is something of a hassle, but things are improving.  On another more interesting note:

Kate and I were talking the other day at the CCCB and something that she said struck me, because I have been frustrated that I haven't been painting for quite a while, very furstrated.

And all of a sudden, it is flowing again.

Know what it is?  Exams are done, I have the mental space to create, to not feel that I have to be doing somthing else.

I have the physical space, I have the materials, I do, in many ways have the time, but I did not have the room to think about how I wanted to say what I wanted to say cause I always felt I had to be doing something else.


well, I've got a couple weeks till that dies off again.

Ah well.

Then I think this over again, and I think of all the artists who have worked and do work with more hassles and difficulties than I ever have, and wonder if I am just spoiled, or under-driven...and then I think about the cultures that produce great art and most of them are at a time and place where there is a surplus of wealth and therefore time from simply getting buy.

A kernal of truth lies in there somewhere...a typical balance of what is basically needed.

An interesting set of ideas to rumble around.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


I am down with some relatively minor digestive woes that combined with the extreme sleepiness I'm feeling lend me to believe it to be viral in nature.  That and the fact that no one else is down - thank goodness -


A grump.

I am lying in bed and on the shelf across from me I can see two books.  Well, rather more than two books, but two books in particular have gotten me thinking.

One is by Orhan Pamuk.  Ya know?  He's a really acclaimed writer, I'm pretty sure he's won some prizes and everything, I see his books in lots of stores, and translated, but ya know what?  I don't know ANYONE who likes them.  Dull, dreary and heavy-handed.  It is like we are reading them because the various institutions have deemed them to have literary merit, but know what?  I think that emperor has no clothes and the books suck.  Correct me if you think I'm wrong, I am dying with curiosity to discover anyone who liked them.

The other is called 'The Art of the Personal Essay' by Phillip Lopate.  The man, or his publisher, is lying.  There is nothing in the book about the art of the personal essay.  The title should be, 'A chronological anthology of the personal essay with an introduction by the anthologist '  that would have been accurate.  Not what I was aiming for when I purchased the book, indeed I would not have purchased a book by that title, but at this point I feel lied to.  There wasn't even an effort to put the essays into thematic sections.  Nope.  Chronological. How dull can it be.  I doubt I will ever read it, such is my disappointment.

On another, and perversely depressing note, while searching for the job title of a person who assembles an anthology, I went to the ever reliable Norton Anthology site, and know what?  They have audio recordings of some bits and pieces of the works!  COOL!  Though I find this perversely depressing because I realise that I am slamming two paper books and singing the praises of an online site.

Seems heretical.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Immigration series, Mixed media.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What I did today

The man and I bailed on parenting duties today, and we went here:

That'd be Montserrat...a fabulous mountain just outside BCN.  I love it here.  We saw lots of people doing this:

Montserrat means serrated mountain, maybe you can see why:

That dot in the upper middle?  More people climbing.  I think I would like to do that some day, but not till the kids are grown up, and then I might be a little old.

Then look who we saw!!!!

THAT was cool!  I even have a short and shakey video, I'll see if I can get it posted.



Thursday, June 16, 2011


The perfect BLT:


That was soooooo good.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From the terrace, just now


Chuck had a day and a half.

The man walked him this morning for an hour, then Eldest took him for 5 HOURS!!! Long long long walk in the mountains....then directly to the vets, all hot and bothered and thirsty.

He was trying to convince us he was a very hard done by doggie, getting a vacine and all.

Then he got dinner bathed in bacon grease.

Made it a tougher sell.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Nature alert!

Youngest and I along with a friend, Chuck and her dog Nona all saw a wild boar just outside the village!!!!


That sucker was huge and only about 20 feet away!

The dogs sensibly kept their mouths shut.

Mood reading

I used to read one book at a time, and only one book.

I liked the system and it worked for me for ages.  Then it sort of changed.  I still read to my kids every night and we all love it, so that's two books there, then I usually have one in Catalan underway, and a Spanish book - theoretically being read (though it is at the very bottom of the pile) but sometimes I just don't feel like any of the books I'm reading. So I pick a book based on mood.

I think this is also because I am sometimes not reading any book that I LOVE.

Right now I'm reading The Book with No Name as recommended by Eldest, though I am finding it a wee bit to complicated for a light read and way too gory.  Whether I finish is yet to be seen and the sheer violence is kinda slowing me down.  I am also reading Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, and it is also annoying me, as half the book is written in the kind of bad English I have to mark all year, and it is spoiling the joy, to say the least.

I am reading an Isabelle Allende, whose books are fine, but I really want to read it in Spanish not English so I am hesitating.  I am reading El cel és blau, la terra blanca by Hiromi Kawakami in Catalan, and that is good, but not cheery, and finally Kon Tiki in Spanish (remember that bottom of the pile?)

I think it is a sign of not having a book going that is really grabbing me, that I simply cannot put down.  Though the Catalan maybe would be doing so if it were slightly easier to read Catalan...though I am getting pretty good at it now anyway.

So, do you read one at a time?  As the mood takes you?

Does it vary?

Monday, June 13, 2011

I don't know how they do it

Youngest and I, after five years here, would, you might think, be reasonably good at predicting how things are going to go at Catalan type events.

Seems not.

When we went up to Pedraforca, we stayed up there overnight before we climbed.  The idea was that we would be having 'supar' there, traditionally a light meal in the evening, often some bread with tomato, a little cheese or sliced meat and maybe some salad.

Hmmmm, I thought, we aren't used to having a giant Catalan lunch followed by a light dinner, youngest might be hungry.  So, we had a biggish lunch and a snack at 4 or so.

Then we got up there and by the time dinner was served at 9 Youngest was just about gnawing off her arm, so I gave her an entire fuet to eat.  That is a LOT of meat.

Then I gave her a couple of cookies.

Then we went into 'supar'.  First was soup.  Mmmmm!  Chicken noodle soup.  A clear yummy simple broth with noodles.  Good.  We each had two bowls and a tiny amount of salad, as did everyone else.  We figured that was pretty good and we were both fairly full.   There was also water, wine and gasosa, a slightly sweetened fizzy water.  Dinner over we thought.

Then came the botifarra and french fries.  Botifarra is a sausage that is a Catalan tradition.  Mine was a full 12 inches long.  Lots of fries.  The Catalans, all of whom were claiming to not be all that hungry, if hungry at all before the meal, finished theirs.  I ate about 2 inches and 2 fries.  Youngest finished hers and felt sick for the effort.

We were both simply stunned that they could have eaten all that.  Simply stunned.

Then came the desserts.  Most of them claimed to be full, but packed in a yogurt and an orange.  Then coffee, then coca, a kind of flat cake that is somewhat bread-ish in nature.  Four different types!

We groaned and left before the coffee.

I had brought a fair amount of food as the Catalans also traditionally only eat a cookie and coffee for breakfast.  We eat more breakfast than they report they do.

Wrong again.  Endless bread with tomato and cheese or meat, plus croissants and other pastries, coffee juice, milk, cold and warm, as well as cola coa.  Chocolate milk mix basically.



So did we as we only had snack food to take with us on the walk and lunch looked scant.

Then came the sandwiches to take with us for esmorzsar at 11:30!  I could not imagine being hungry for a week at this point.

They were a full foot long!  OMG.

I left a fair amount of the food I had brought behind, and should have left more rather than hauling it, live and learn.

I truly don't understand how they aren't all HUGE.

Though I do have to point out that it is all really food.  No processed fat-filled sugar-saturated garbage.


A nation of trenchermen.

The mountain and the trip

Ok, so you saw the mountain there in the last post?  Here's another look or three.

When we got up there, on Saturday night, youngest and I saw this:

Kinda dark and ominous and steep!

The mountain is called Pedraforca, (Rock fork) in the Pre-Pyrenees parts of Catalunya.

The route looked like this: We started out on the right flank there, in a paleish patch you might pick out, very nearly in the corner of the picture and we climbed up to the edge of the white rocky stuff in that finger on the right.

Then it looked like this:

And the route went pretty much straight up with a 40 meter chimney climb.  Youngest, by now, had a blister from her new boots.  We were barely a quarter of the way into the walk and this was FAR and away the easiest part, and it hadn't been that easy.  Part of the group was turning around at this point, and we did too.  We had had a lovely walk, and it was time to turn back.

When we were sailing in the Bahamas, one of the things I learned was how NOT to introduce someone to a sport.  It goes like this:  First, scare them, badly.  Second, exhaust them.  This had the fixings of both.  Cause after climbing up to the peak on the right, which is higher than the face you saw in the last picture, which I believe os the shoulder on the right there, you come down to the saddle and then go straight down that thin line in the middle.

It's filled with scree and rubble the size of car tires.  This stuff slides while you walk on it.   It slides a lot.  You have two options when approaching this,  go slowly and try to control it, or run and hope for the best.  One kid got hurt running it yesterday.  Everyone who went fell down at least once.

I decided that I would like Youngest to want to come to the mountains with me again.  She had started a conversation with me on the way up saying that she would prefer to go swimming than climbing mountains, and another stating that what she was looking forward to most was the chocolate, so although I had said to her the day before that I absolutely didn't mind if we went for the top or not, which was true, that it would be up to her whether we went on at the turn around or went back down.  In the end I made an executive decision and we went back down when the group split.


With a pack of other kids.

There is a refugi almost back at the cars, which is big and wide and open and has a lawn, which is as good as unheard of here is Spain, and it has a bathroom and a cafe (welcome to Europe) and we spent the afternoon there and had a delightful time.  The kids played and played and played, there was even a sprinkler, I took some photos of the people in the group and the kids, lay back in the grass and relaxed, leaned against the refugi walls and gazed at the mountain.

One of the guys in the group, who is VERY experienced, asked if I wanted to walk over and watch them coming down, which I soooo wanted to do, but Youngest was having a blast and wasn't I didn't, laid back in the grass again and had a lovely time.

A lovely day, and maybe Youngest will come with me again next time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where I went

More later, once I've slept a bit more.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Well, there, that's done and I'm glad

Catalan exam, completed.

How it went?  No idea.  The writing should be fine, but not as good as I usually produce because of course I couldn't use any verb conjugators nor spell checks.  Grammar, always brutal, but hopefully OK.

Speaking?  I usually do OK here, but all the other students were native speakers, so I guess it depends on how they mark me.  Ho hum.

Now, OFF to the mountains!!!!!

That's bettter.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The very good news?

Eldest's new passport arrived today!  YEAH!!! She can come with us to Canada!!!!!

Love the Canadian gov't.  They have some idea of what efficiency is.  The only problem we had with this was when the Spanish post office lost their own postal cheque.  Should be impossible, but seems it's not.

Got new hiking boots, got a new camera case, and was stupidly excited that it comes with a little rain coat for the case!  How cool is THAT!?!?!?  (my kids quite justly, ridicule me from time to time)

Aside from that I studied.  A lot.


Exam tomorrow, don't know if I'll have a chance to post as I'll be off with youngest overnight.....more on that later......

Cheers all, hope you have a great weekend.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Study study study

Makes a dull girl.

I did break it up by helping some folks move some stuff,  and that felt good for a change.  Catalan, Catalan Catalan, and a Spanish class....

I was the only woman who showed up to help move stuff, and held my own with the guys, no problem.  We were moving boards and planks and small metal beams.  One guy commented afterwards that I was strong, in tones of some surprise, which I do tend to take kind of as condescention, though I do have to say that I was also the only woman to show.....soooooo.....maybe I'm just the dumbest!

Honestly, a day of studying and running/moving doesn't leave much to post about.

The google home page today is fun though!  You can make music!  The man and I were in the same room and played a duet.  Of sorts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sometimes I wonder about myself.

I work hard in the summer.  I have a job when I am in Toronto, and it is pretty involved, more so this year as we are doing a complete curriculum redesign, which I am delighted with as my boredom meter was creeping up.

I have also worked really hard with the Catalan this year, and whether I pass this stupid test or not on Saturday, I know I have improved a lot, and I was discouraged to be getting my level up to the best it has ever been just before leaving for nearly 3 months.


I decided to enroll in an online course (this is where I start to wonder about myself).  UOC, which is like the Open University in the UK offers summer courses too, and I thought that it would force me to continue to read and write in Catalan.  You see, every summer I bring a novel or two with the intention of keeping up my Catalan, but ya know what?  With the entire Toronto Public Library on hand, I just don't do it.

This however?  Should do the trick.

What to study is the question.  I looked at Judiacial language in Catalan.  UM, naw.

I looked at web design.  Interesting, but ....mmmmm......pass.

I looked at ancient Egyptian funerary practices, and passed.

I considered Translating into Catalan from English (now there's a course that would be DIFFICULT for me)

I just wanted something fun, and light and enjoyable.

Know what I'm going to be studying this summer?

Itadakimasu, food and culture in Japan!  IN CATALAN!

Weird world, no?

Should be light anyway, no?  I hope it is, and doesn't take itself toooooo seriously!!!!!

It'll be a change anyway and a good excuse to go for sushi.  The real reason to take the course!!!!!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How to enroll your kids in school in Spain/Catalunya

That should really say in Catalunya as we are an autonomous region and so regulate our own school system, but here goes.

Rule #1 for any bureaucratic process in Spain,

Bring everything you can think of.  We have been asked for expired passports upon occasion.

Rule #2:
Bring 2 photocopies of everything.

You will need:

Llibre de familia if you have one,
if not,
you may be asked for a birth certificates with
an official translation and documentation through the embassy.  Depending on where you are this can be a big hassle.  We had to get the LONG FORM birth certificate.  Then we had to send it to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa for them to accredit it's validity, then it was sent to the Spanish Embassy for a signature there accrediting it's validity and then it was sent to us.  Once it arrived here we had to pay to have it officially translated, which meant sending it through the mail.  They lost our marriage certificate once!  WEE HA!  Your embassy can explain the exact process to you for your country should you have to do this, don't leave home without multiple copies of the long form of both birth and wedding certificates.  We'll be getting more this summer.

Marriage certificate with official translation and certification is also possible, though we weren't asked.

DNI, NIE or passports for everyone, both parents and the relevant kid

Certificates of Vaccinations

Empadronament, which is the certificate that you live in the place, you must register with the local city hall as soon as you have a place and this is also where you get this piece of paper.

Health card.  (this is sometimes a hassle to get) requires all of the above, and you go to the CAP, which is the local health center to apply.

A million other forms,

Probably a pair of photos of the child, passport sized.  They accept the ones from the booths for everything as far as I can tell.

Bring a copy from your bank of your bank account numbers - your bank should print out a sheet with the bic and number and I know not what else. People hand these out with gay abandon here, and that way they can deduct the money for excursions from your account directly.  Seems weird, but there's enough bureaucracy here without adding to it for every excursion.  I also sometimes took forms into the bank to get them to fill them out if I was lost enough.  We love our bank and they are SUPER helpful.

Money.  Though these are public schools, and nominally free, you always have to give some money for something or other, more to the parent's association, if your school has lockers, you have to rent those, and then there are the books.  You have to buy them all.

There will be more forms at the school for you to fill out as well.

It may be worthwhile making a preliminary visit to ask whatall they are going to want before you arrive. Also if you live in a big enough place, there may be more than one school to visit.

Some school are harder to get into than others, and they work on a point system.  If you live in the area, you get some points, if you have siblings in the school, more, if you child has a disability or health issue more bring along relevant papers for that as well.

Be assured you won't have everything you need and you will be sent back for something more, so go early. DO NOT WAIT TILL THE LAST DAY!!!!!

Smile and be patient.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I didn't pass the theoretical for the driving test, feeling fairly crappy about it honestly, all to do again.

Maybe I'll just fake being French and switch it over there....


On a brighter note, a friend of mind got her results back and she DOESN'T have breast cancer and that is a very good thing indeed.

We also have youngest registered for school next year, and eldest...this is an impressive paperchase here.

The Spanish taxes are also finished and paid for.

Wish I'd passed that d*mned test though.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Anyone coming into BCN anytime soon?  You should check out the show about Triest and Magrait....EXCELLENT.  Mostly, honestly, because of the curating. I don't know who did it, but it is like walking from one amazing installation to the next.  Very very very cool.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Chuck seems to think he's a cat

Studying something new

And you all get to study alongside me!


Looking at accents.

Some words have altogether tooooo many.

My current favourite, if you count up the various things floating around this word, and the crossed t too it gets ridiculous to write or type.


Two dots for the two Is, a dièrisi for the u, an accent obert for the e and a cross for the t.

Goodness grief Charlie Brown!

Friday, June 3, 2011

OK; what really happened.

Bottom line?  I have no idea if I passed.  I could have, or I could easily have failed, find out more tomorrow.

Got off fairly well, till we were part way into BCN when the bus broke down on the highway.  Good thing I left lots of time to spare.  Fortunately, another bus came along almost immediately and we transfered to that bus, walking down the middle lane of the highway to do so!  This bears on the story later.

Got in, went in to do the test, I was stunned to be the only one there without Spanish citizenship.  Bitterness meter about the hassles with the kids papers hits the red, and is then ignored.

Test:  done on computer, IN CATALAN!  That part I cannot claim as being a factor if I fail, my level was easily high enough and I didn't have to think about langauge at all....YEAH!

There were a few questions I am not sure about, still.  Can you walk on an autopista?  No, never.  Yes or Yes in extreme emergency to get help.  Hmmmm:  I was trotting down a highway that morning!  I clicked no, and when I looked in the book it was in agreement with me in one place, but in another you can walk to an SOS phone, and one is obliged (?!?!?!?) to walk down the highway to put out little warning signs that you are there.  You can assume that if the car I'm in ever breaks down I will NOT be trotting down the highway with a little orange triangle on a stand.  I'll have every freaking light going and flashing and having a little chat on my cell getting help thankyouverymuch.

Was the answer right though?

Do passengers on a quad have to wear a helment?  Yes, no, only if they are under 14.  I clicked yes.  Can't find the answer in my book.

Do motorcycles need to have and show headlights at all hours.  I am not sure this licence allows me to drive motorcycles, but this is Spain and it might.  I guessed yes.  They all seem to have them on all the time, but just a sec.  Isn't that automatic with the ignition, as in I don't need to think about that the manufacturer did it for me?

Whatever.  I find out tomorrow.

Now to study Catalan for Saturday.  Such a relief to study something I will use more.

This is posted mostly for folks who may want to find out how...

As of 2011,

Two parts to the driving test, the theoretical and the practical.

Eligibility for the theoretical requires a medical test (read way to skim off more money) where they check your eyesight and ask you - without any tests - if you have any issues.  You then do a reflex test and you're gone.

With the theory you have the option of doing the test independently or registering (for several hundred Euros) with a driving school and then doing the classes.  If you do that, they manage all the bureaucracy for you (I imagine that is a sort of kind of thing)

Or you can go indepenedent.

Fee is 89 or so Euros, and you get to stand in 3 or 4 queues to get the date of the test.  I got to chose a date as close as the next week, I went for two weeks away.  Be prepared that all the practice tests I found on line were in Spanish, and it is worth doing them as they are perverse double negative multiple choice questions designed to trip you up and it is worth practicing before you go.

Here in Barcelona, the test is administered in one place only (that I have found) and is done on a computer.  There was a language choice of Spanish, Catalan, German, English or French.  You can get extra time, but I only know that cause someone in my group had arranged it.  Don't know how that's done, sorry.

The test takes 30 minutes and asks you ridiculously detailed silly questions on useless info or wildly overgeneralised silly questions, like does being drunk make you a worse driver, a better driver or make no difference at all?

Books can be bought (in BCN) in the same building on Gran Via where you book the test.  Available (in ascending order of price) in Spanish, Catalan and English - other languages I didn't ask.  I have heard there are complaints with the English in the exam leading to confusion.  A quick glance through the English version of the book I bought looked good.  I bought the Catalan as my Catalan is good enough and I wanted clear grammar in the test.

You, in theory, find out your marks the next day after noon on the Spanish transit department website, and I am waiting for mine.

I have been told, and hope to not find out, but suspect that I will, that you can take the test 2 or 3 times for the same fee, after that you have to pay again.

In another cash grab, you are obliged to do the practical test through a driving school (read several hundred Euros just to sign up plus 50 or so Euros an hour driving classes)  You are not permitted to take the test until the driving instructor (who has a vested interest in keeping you in the car driving money into his pocket) says you are ready.

Cynicism meter is in the red.

More when I get further through the test process.

Further post with my personal experience.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Best laid plans

That would have worked better if I hadn't woken up for several hours in the night and then been woken up by Eldest EARLY in the morning.

Follow my own advise.

Go to bed early and read the material as you go to sleep.  Think of nothing else between.

Exam on the theory tomorrow!


Good news though, I get two or three chances before I have to pay again!!!!  YIPEE!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Practicing for the theoretical test

There are MILLIONS of practice tests online.  I have found a site I like, it's here for those who wish to suffer too, and some of the questions are TERRIBLE.

Do school groups have the right of way when crossing roads?  The picture does not have the kids on a crosswalk.  This brings the question of who got there first?  The kids or the car?  Clearly, one cannot run them over, nor can one expect them to break up the group cause you arrive, but they don't have the right of way off a cross walk.


Insane questions:

While driving your car, you approach a traffic officer at an intersection and he/she is signalling with their fully extended left arm, moving alternately up and down.  What do you have to do if you are approaching the officer on the side corresponding to the arm that is making the signal and perpendicular to that arm?

WTF?  complaint 2


You are driving your car with your new class B license (normal car), you have had a class A license for several years (motorcycles).  What blood alcohol level is acceptable for driving your car?

Good grief questions, complaint number 3.

Things I don't need to know questions:

Your battery warning light comes on.  Does this mean that your battery terminals are dirty, that the connections are loose or that it is low on water?

It freaking means go to the shop and get them to look at it, now, no?

Good grief.

Pass is 3 errors or less out of 30.  Sometimes I make 8, often 6 sometimes I pass.

Luck of the draw.

GOOD news though is that I can do the exam in Catalan, though I am doing all the practice in Spanish, lord help me.

Bad news, I had to spend the ENTIRE morning to find that out, cause this is Spain, and they couldn't simply put it on the website.  I had to phone MADRID, for them to tell me they didn't know and I had to go in in person.