Friday, 30 September 2011

O' ZAPFT IS!! Blogtoberfest is Back!!

It's now officially October, but before we get into it, I'll let the gents from Earth, Wind and Fire dance September out of the room; hold on to your brain to make sure the horn section doesn't blow it out of your skull in a aural blast of awesomeness:

Thanks boys! Alright, now it's time for October, but more importantly, it's time for BLOGTOBERFEST! 

Sitzblog isn't in the business of promoting beer, so while you may have expected to see a picture of drunk idiots in a Biergarten in Munich, this creepy/hilarious cat is much more wholesome for the whole family. Plus, I took this picture in Germany, so it counts!

If you remember last year's Blogtoberfest, this humble little blog managed to put up 30 posts, a new Sitzblog record. Let's see if we can get 31 this year!

I've been getting some blog ideas ready in my brain in preparation for this month, so I'm pretty excited here--I hope you are, too! If you prefer to follow these posts on Facebook, just click "Like" in the Facebook box to the left, or go to Sitzblog's Facebook page--I'll be posting them there, too.

Thanks for reading, and bloggoms up! (That's "drink up" in blogspeak!)

Awash in Color

Currently, we are awash in color....all of the vivid fall spectrum, to be more specific. Daily walks yield reds, oranges, purples, yellows and browns, from the top of the trees down to the forest floor. It's a wonderful time to be in the woods.

I've been able to get out in the mornings lately, to walk down our road. Earlier this month, I felt like fall was stalled. We were in a pattern of cold, rainy weather, and the leaves seemed determined not to change from their late-summer shade of green. Once the sun returned last Saturday, the painting of the forest began in earnest. Each day became a little brighter, from the color that was replacing those greens. The two birch trees at the northern corners of the lodge began to reflect a bright gold into the store. The moose maples exploded in reds and oranges. Even at dusk, when it would normally be feeling darker, the reflected light had a brighter spring in its step. The wonders of autumn.

We enjoyed a stretch of sunny, warm days, filled with the smells of the season. Temps made their way into the seventies, and we were fooled a bit. Then the wind switched, and came down from the north. Even when I am told that it is coming, it still takes me a little by surprise. Yesterday, it blew hard for several hours. Leaves flew down, like the rains that were also falling. Pine needles covered the road and the roof of our side porch. I was afraid that the fall showing would be completely decimated in one afternoon. Fortunately, the wind subsided by late in the day, and this morning, there was still plenty of action on the trees. Leaves are still in various stages of green to yellow, as I look down the hill to a poplar tree. The cedars hang heavy with seed pods gone brown. The underbrush was not buffeted by that wind, so most of the leaves are still in their places.

So the technicolor show will last a little longer, and my morning walks will continue to be bright and cheery. Not a bad way to end the wonderful summer and move into the inevitable time for hibernation, though not all of us will be hibernating. There's still work to be done! Firewood season is upon me.

Going to extremes - Tues, 4 October

We have an excursion (in cars) on Tuesday, 4th October, to see some fabulous and extreme sights: the tallest menhir in France, the westernmost point of France, etc. Meet in the centre of St-Renan (NW of Brest), Place du Vieux March� 11.45-12 noon for a quick lunch (probably creperie).
If this weather holds, it'll be perfect for a trip to one of the best coastlines in Brittany.

Old Harbor

Sometime around Labor Day the light begins to noticeably change. It's subtle at first; only recognizable in the hours surrounding dawn and dusk. By the middle of September, however, it becomes obvious even to those not paying attention. Gone is the haze, the glare, the short shadows, and the long summer days.

Block Island in the summer sometimes feels like a spring break inspired theme park for the middle-aged. Old Harbor, with its ferry-terminal, and tipsy balance of Victorian architecture, bars and moped rentals grows too crowded, expensive, and commercialized. The views can be spectacular here, but they often go unnoticed as you weave your way between the taxicabs and foot traffic along Water Street.

In September, the tempo around Old Harbor begins to change. The ferries still run regularly, but the traffic, while steady, is no longer overwhelming. The carnival atmosphere gives way to a working waterfront which reappears from the shadows of waffle cones and Bacardi umbrellas.

Old Harbor once had a sizable commercial fleet, but the Great Depression, combined with the Hurricane of '38 provided a knockout blow. Now, the logistics of an island fishing industry are no longer economically feasible on a large scale. Seafood not sold to local restaurants and inns, needs to be transported again to distribution centers on the mainland. Today the fleet is more modest and specialized.

As the crowds thin however, the island's past image as an outpost in the Atlantic comes back into view. Commercial boats chased away by the limited summer space, will once again use the docks as a convenient layover port. Transoms which read Point Judith, Montauk, and Stonington lie berthed alongside the native fleet.

The light is different this time of year, the boats in the harbor are different too.

Boating Local: Destination Block Island

Providence Journal: Saving Block Island

Boating Local: Old Harbor Bulkhead Repair

Providence Library: Old Harbor Fleet 1930's

Soundbounder: Block Island North Light


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Sip On This, Nissan Leaf!

If you thought a car that ran on electricity or water or air or whatever was cool, then evidently you've not seen a car that runs on coffee:

I guess it's also set a land speed record for this type of vehicle. In any case, it reminds me of the Simpsons where Homer hears about a car that runs on alcohol. He imagines filling up the tank, saying, "One for you, one for me, one for you, one for me..."

It sounds like it's time for Costa Rica to get into the car manufacturing business!

Friday, 23 September 2011

Autumn in Russia

Autumn is the best time of the year. I love it everywhere, in any place of the world. Sometimes they say that autumn is sad or cold. But it's not so.

We spoke about autumn in Alaska with some friends some days ago. You know that I sell cruises and they told me that the best time to go in Alaska is summer. But if you like nature -and the cruise in Alaska is the time dedicated to the nature first of all- you HAVE to see Alaska in autumn. Not only for incredible colors that you can't see in an other places or seasons. There are many animals visible in this period because they graze in the open places.

Well, you can't maybe see all those animals if you visit Russia. They do not feel so free there. But the nature is very beautiful there, too. Here are some photos my friends took these days. I'm sure you will feel the calm, the silence, the infinity. Unfortunatelly, you can't feel the smels of the autumn... Imagine them.

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7 Big Ones... If A "Big One" Is A "Thousand"

My 7,000th flickr picture. Angela was working in the flowerbed the other day
so I took a picture of this hand shovel.

I realized tonight that my flickr account now has 7,000 pictures, which is pretty ridiculous by most any standard. Then again, I can sort of justify it because I've got about 7 years of pictures, plus a pretty questionable infrastructure down here in Costa Rica (I try to have an online backup of everything in case of earthquake, landslide, fire, theft, hurricane, and/or cat vomit). 

In any case, I mainly keep the flickr account updated for me and my mom, since I think we're the two people who seem to be most interested in it. But if you'd like to see some pictures, you're welcome to go check them out. You may find the following sets or collections to be interesting:

My Current "365" Set (where I take a picture a day... this one is less complicated than looking for each month or its "Leftovers")

So, there is obviously a lot more, and you don't have to check out any pictures if you don't want to. But I just thought I'd mention it...

My 7,001st picture. If I had known I was nearing a round number, I would have uploaded this as #7,000.
Some cats are quite a bit more interesting than a hand shovel.

Thanks for reading, and have a good one!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Looking ahead - spring break

Brittany Walks hopes to organise a spring break (1/2 nights) in the magical Foret de Paimpont (claimed by some to be the Broc�liande of Arthurian legend). Apart from Merlin's tomb, the lake under which Lancelot grew up and the Valley of No Return, there is much stunning walking in the forest, numerous megaliths and many other interesting things to see. The area is situated in Ille-et-Vilaine, NW of Rennes. The programme will depend on numbers, and may combine group walks with time for individual exploration. April is the probable month.
Anyone potentially interested should please let BWs know by email (
(Red stream in the Val sans Retour, where the fairy Morgane trapped faithless lovers.)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Perfect walking weather!

First most of us ate fresh fish in the harbour area, then some of us visited the sardine shop, then we all walked through the beautiful Plomarc'h area with its rare breeds farm, old cottages and huge Roman factory remains, then we were all glad to sit down for a drink and most of us had coffee, but ...
Thanks everyone!

Using My Illusions

I took this picture in Las Vegas at the beginning of this year. It demonstrates the awesome
staying power of Guns N' Roses' Use Your Illusion albums... and trampy wedding dresses.
Stephanie Seymour would be proud.

Mike recently pointed out that September 17th was the 20th anniversary of Guns N' Roses' albums Use Your Illusion I and II. Rather than wallowing in self-pity because I'm getting older, and rather than mourning and my lost childhood/ youth/ innocence/ hair, I decided to be positive and say what I like best about these memorable albums. But just as a disclaimer, I still prefer Appetite. As long as we're clear on that, I can talk about how great the Illusions are.

Use Your Illusion I

I guess I was introduced to these albums a bit late, since I bought them when I was in Germany as an exchange student in 1998. I know I'd heard some of the songs before, but I was pretty late getting on the album train, and most of the music I had until about 1993 was on cassettes that I recorded while listening to radio. We didn't have cable, and the internet didn't exist yet in any comprehensible form, either. We had to work hard for our entertainment in the early 90s.

In any case, I believe I bought these two albums at a Saturn store in Hannover, Germany in 1998, and listened to them over and over on my Discman. At first I preferred UYI II over I, but within a few years I'd switched and started to prefer I. It's hard to argue with; It's got "November Rain," the better version of "Don't Cry," and the lyrics "I ain't superstitious but I know when something's wrong" (from "Garden of Eden"). I also had a long period where I was into "Bad Apples," calling it the "quintessential distilled version of a GNR song" or some such nonsense. It is a good and underrated song, though. But the best point on the album is certainly on "November Rain."

At seven minutes and nine seconds into the song, Slash begins the first note of his second solo in this song. Based on that one note, around 10 years ago I came up with a theory based on the excellence of that note. The theory is called, simply, "The 7:09 Theory." I've also been known to shoot my mouth off and say that this is "the greatest moment ever in music" and that "everything before it led up to it, and everything after this note was just music going downhill." Sure, I'll stand by those statements.

Use Your Illusion II

As I said before, I've gone back and forth regarding which of these albums I like better, and I'm currently in a II phase. It's just got such a jam-packed opening ("Civil War," "14 Years," "Yesterdays," and even "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"), the likes of which is unlikely to be found on another album (except maybe U2's The Joshua Tree, but the three songs there sound too similar anyhow). Plus, it's also got the under-appreciated songs "Breakdown" and "Locomotive," as well as "Estranged," which, despite its weird, dolphin-infested video, is a great song. The only down note seems to be "My World," but since it's such a bizarre track, we can almost write it off as an Axl rant instead of an actual GNR song.

II doesn't have anything as memorable as 7:09 into "November Rain," but it does have one thing that I think is really great, weird, and hilarious. On the song "Pretty Tied Up," which is possibly about a dominatrix, the perils of rock n' roll decadence, and/or finding money in the street, there's a strange line near the end of the song. After Axl sings "It's days like this that push me over the brinks," a deeper voice comes on and says "Kool Ranch Dressing." That didn't make sense when I first heard it, so I looked to the lyrics sheet in the liner notes. On the lyrics, it said "Cool and stressing" but then literally underneath that, it said "(Pronounced: Kool Ranch Dressing)". I just remember reading that on a train from Hannover to Munich and being blown away, since neither the original line, nor the attempt to explain the "correct" pronunciation, made any sense whatsoever. Obviously, I was dealing with Advanced Rock Music. And it's been a great ride ever since.

So, that's it for now. If you liked or like those albums, feel free to go to the comments section to chime in. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back in 2031 for the 40th anniversary blog post!

And OK, sure, why not:

Monday, 19 September 2011

Names, from Sitzman ABC

Yesterday I wrote a blog post about common names in the USA on Sitzman ABC, my language-learning blog. It was ostensibly for my English students, but I thought some Sitzblog readers may like it, too. Plus, some of the vocabulary--like ostensibly--may be a bit difficult for some of my lower-level students. In any case, feel free to check out the article on Sitzman ABC or here:

A few weeks ago I wrote two articles about naming customs in the USA and Costa Rica. I mentioned that I also wanted to talk a little bit about common names in both countries, but since the posts were already so long, I decided to do a shorter post later. This is that post.

Common Last Names in the USA

First of all, let's look at last names, since they're the same for both men and women, obviously. According to this list, which seems to be available in some form on more than one site, the two most popular names are Smith and Johnson. I had actually thought it was the other way around, but they're both very common. The top 5 is rounded off with Williams, Jones, and then Brown, which didn't really surprise me much. In fact, of the top 20 names the only ones that surprised me were Garcia (18) and Martinez (19), mainly just because they were the first Hispanic last names on the list, and I expected Hispanic names to be a bit higher. I'm sure that a lot of last name statistics also depend on geographical regions, though.

I also noticed that "Sitzman" was conspicuously absent from the Top 20... and the Top 100. So I searched for it, and apparently it's number 24,083... that's right, my last name is the 24,083rd most popular last name in the US! Believe it or not, but it's even less common than the last name "Pizza" (ranked 24,007th). But still: Pizza! I'd have a more common last name if my name were "Ryan Pizza." Ouch, that hurts.

Common First Names in the USA

Now, first names were the ones that surprised me a bit more. I discovered that the Social Security Administration (the agency in charge of retirement and pension payments in the US) keeps statistics related to baby names. I spent a while looking at different names, charts, and statistics on their website, and it was pretty interesting.

According to this table, the most common first names in 2010 were Jacob, Ethan, and Michael for boys and Isabella, Sophia, and Emma for girls. Hmm, not too bad, I guess, but then I saw that for boys Jayden is #4 and Aiden is #9. Are those even names? (Disclaimer: I'm a mean, grumpy man.) I suppose that it's cold comfort that it's not as strange as the list of top baby names in Great Britain (seriously, England: "Alfie"? What's going on over there?). 

Still, I guess the names don't seem so strange if you look at this chart, which displays the top 5 names for each year from 1911 to 2010. It also explains why I know a lot of Jennifers, Ashleys, Matthews, and Christophers. 

So how does "Ryan" fit into these numbers? Well, in 2010 it was number 23, just above "Samuel" and "Jackson" (and probably even further ahead of babies named "Samuel L. Jackson"). Sadly, it's still below Mason and Logan. Brian and Bryan don't seem to be on the top 25 list for 2010, but maybe they count them as two different names because of the two spellings?

On the SSA site you can also search for popular names from the year in which you were born, so I did that. I had always imagined that my name was pretty common and boring, since I know a lot of Ryans, Brians, and Bryans. I was right. In 1980, Brian was #12 and Ryan was #15. The #15 name for girls in 1980 was Christina, and that seems about right.

There is one part of the SSA baby names website that is very disturbing, though. It's the "Change in Popularity" section, which lists names that have gained in popularity recently. There are some really ridiculous names on this page, especially for the boys. Seriously, who in their right mind would name a beautiful baby boy Bentley, Knox, Jax, Zayden, or Ryder? 

Anyway, that's my names post. I hope there was something interesting for you. And if any of my friends who read this have children with those "strange" names, then of course I was just kidding! Your baby and his name are both wonderful and special!

Thanks for reading. If you want to join in on the discussion, say hi in the comments section. Take care, and have a great day!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Didn't Prince Write A Song About This?

The other day I got scratched up pretty badly by Boner, our evil backup cat:

Unfortunately I only found out after the fact that I could have scientifically predicted this attack. Check this page titled "How to tell if you cat is plotting to kill you." It even has a little quiz that you can take to verify the results:

Is your cat plotting to kill you?

I came through this alive, but I was lucky. Don't let it happen to you!

Friday, 16 September 2011

The Wall

"We don't need no education"??
"We don't need no thought control"??
"No dark sarcasm in the classroom"??
"Teachers leave them kids alone!"??

It looks like I'm going to have to make some drastic changes to tomorrow's lesson plans.

Although I'll still probably promote the same meat eaten : pudding allowed ratio.


My days in Greenport often include numerous visits to the commercial fishing dock. I never plan it that way, but after an early morning walk up Front Street for coffee and a newspaper, a short detour along the waterfront usually seems like a good idea. 

Many of the boats have already left for the day, but a few remain behind to work on their gear. One boat appears to have a never-ending problem with her starboard engine. I keep a low profile and linger for only a short time. Making my way to the end of the pier, I gaze across to Shelter Island and her approaching ferry reflecting in the sunrise.
Later in the day, I often walk this pier again; creating a matching bookend to my day on the North Fork. Many of the boats have now returned, leaving the docks wet and slippery, with the smell of fish filling the air. I make a conscious effort to stay out of their way.

Every so often, I'm recognized by a fisherman who saw me here previous times. They give me a strange look, and I am never quite sure if they think I am an inspector, or just some bored tourist who doesn't know what to do with his time.
I really should tell him that I'm just someone who likes old boats and fresh fish!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Coffee, Again

Caf� Chorreado, Costa Rican Style.
(Yeah, the style with the filter that looks like a gym sock)
Recently I wrote a bit about coffee, including a link to a page I made about the coffee process, as well as a link to my various coffee pictures (see that post here). 

I know I write about, talk about, and drink a lot of coffee, but it's Costa Rica's Independence Day today, so some coffee celebration seemed in order. So, the other day I found this page about coffee on The Oatmeal, and I thought it was pretty cool. Have a look!

Douarnenez - Tuesday September 20th

On Tuesday, September 20th we have a stroll around Douarnenez and the quiet rural paths of the Plomarc'h. Spectacular sea views and easy walking on pavement/surfaced paths throughout. This is a town with a remarkable history and much of interest to see, including one of the most important Roman remains in Brittany.
We meet on the quay by the boat museum at Port Rhu (just down the hill behind the tourist office, via rue de Port Rhu, where there is a useful car-park) for a 2pm start. At last I am able to say it - Look forward to seeing you all there!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Reflections - 11. September

Well, it seems like everyone's talking about today being the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11th. What can really be said that hasn't already been said? Possibly nothing. For that very reason, I wasn't even going to mention anything. I did think I could write one of those "Where were you?" type of blogs for today, but that seemed a bit self-indulgent, somehow. Then again, what is a blog if not a vehicle for self-indulgence, and for people to put their mundane thoughts into words? So, if you want to read or respond, have at it, but if not, that's also fine.

On September 11, 2001, I was studying in Regensburg, Germany. When the attacks started happening it was mid-afternoon, and I was hanging out in my friend Bobby's dorm room checking my email. I was chatting with my friend Brad, and he mentioned that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I tried to find some information on some internet news sites, but it was quite hard due to the internet at the time. Bobby and I went to try the TV in his dorm's kitchen, but it was either a black-and-white TV or it had terrible reception, or both. I think eventually we went to a TV room in his dorm and watched TV news, but by then the attacks had happened. The news was in German, and it certainly wasn't saturating the airwaves, or at least it wasn't at that point.  

This is hard to explain, but I feel like I missed out on something by not being in the US on that day. From what I heard from friends, things changed quite noticeably right that day, but I never picked up on that vibe since I didn't return to live in the US until almost a year later. I guess I missed a sort of cultural touchstone, to put it mildly and insufficiently. 

I also think a lot about the World Trade Center towers themselves, since I had visited them with my mom a few months before. I guess you could say I'd always been a bit of a skyscraper nerd. When I was younger I had posters of skylines in my room, and I had always wanted to go to New York for some reason. I wanted to go to the tops of the biggest buildings in the world, but I was born in a city that apparently didn't even possess an escalator (I once even spent a lot of time thinking about this when I was younger; if anyone knows whether or not Fort Collins had an escalator circa 1994, I'd be happy if you could prove or disprove my notion). In any case, my mom and I went to New York in 2001 as a sort of combined Birthday-Mother's Day-Christmas present from me to her that year (I had started driving the Buff Bus and I evidently felt I was quite a big shot). As part of our trip we made it a point to go to both the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. We even ate at the Windows on the World restaurant. I guess I just wonder how many other people never got to have an experience like that.

There was one good thing about that day, although it was completely unrelated to what happened in the US. As I mentioned before, I was living and studying in Regensburg with a group from Colorado. We all lived in individual rooms in student housing, but we had the opportunity to meet a local family so that we could have more contact with Germans. On that same night, we were supposed to meet our "host families." Despite the distance between us and the tragedy, many of us were sad and somewhat in shock, of course. But since we couldn't really do anything about it and since it was already evening, we still decided to have a big meet-up. So that evening I met the Friedrichs, one of the nicest families I've had the pleasure of meeting in my life. I've still kept in contact with them over these last 10 years, and I've visited them a few times in Germany and Sweden, also (it turns out that with a Swedish mom and an Austrian dad, they weren't so German after all, but that's just fine with me). I hope that I can keep up that contact long into the future.

In any case, that was my self-indulgent September 11th blog post. As before, if you have any comments or want to say what you were up to that day, feel free to say hi.

Zoosafari of Fasano, Italy

Zoosafari of Fasano in Apulia waws the dream of my husband for years. But there was always a reason to set aside the travel. Last Monday, he has a day free and decided that we have to go there, finally. He says, we are not so young more, the life passes dedicated to the job and to duties only. And the dreams leave aside. So, he decided to fulfil his dreams.

It was a splendid experience, I have to say you. We saw persons that love animals. Than, there were many interesting scenes. I can't show you everything, it's clear but I want to share the feeling we had there.

We met a tiger for the entrance...

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He was about 2 months old and loved his adoptive "mum" very much (he was week when he was born and his real mum did not want him).We were in the cage of the lions and of the tigers

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We have seen many big herbivorous that were not so big as I thought watching them in TV.

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Only some of them were so as I imagined them

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The main part of Zoosafary was great experience that we loved very much.


Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Phragmites Park

At the southern tip of Northport Harbor is the eleven-acre Phragmites Park. Wedged between some residential neighborhoods, the entrance to the preserve is easy to miss when traveling along Route 25A. Like many coastal access spaces, this nature area is known by several names, including Twin Ponds Park and most recently, Betty Allen Preserve-North.

Once used as a dumping site for the dredged spoils from nearby bays, this stretch of shoreline began an extensive wetlands restoration project in 2002. While I'm certainly not an authority on the subject, the results appear to be a notable success.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the Northport area. It's a pretty harbor with an attractive and walkable waterfront, populated by a citizenry which appears committed to maintaining it. My afternoon spent at Phragmites Preserve only reinforced this belief.

Pbase: Northport Photos

Wikimapia: Betty Allen Preserve

NYNJCT Botany: Hiking Betty Allen/Twin Ponds

Note: I didn't visit the area south of Rte 25A. That will have to be done another time

Erdeven walk

The rain held off until the journey back for the lucky participants on this megalithic walk! Thanks to all for making it a good afternoon. I'm sorry I was still not well enough to attend, but hope to see you all at Douarnenez on September 20th.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Pictures of the Day - August 2011

If you're interested in checking out last month's Pictures of the Day, have a look at this slideshow. You can click on any picture to go to a larger resolution on flickr, and if you want to see the description, just click on "info." Enjoy!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Angela and I: Spanish or English?

I originally posted this article to my Sitzman ABC blog, but I thought some Sitzblog readers might be interested, too. If you are, check it out:

Language Use in Bilingual Couples and Families

My wife Angela and I. Or should I say, "Mi esposa �ngela y yo"?
Or even, "Meine Frau Angela und ich"?

As you may know, I'm from the USA, so my native language is English. I'm married to a Costa Rican named Angela, and her native language is obviously Spanish. One question that people ask us a lot is "What language do you speak at home?" The answer is that we alternate between the two languages, but sometimes people are surprised at how infrequently we switch languages: once a year.

That's right, every August 25th (the way we chose that date is a more complicated story) we change languages. So about two weeks ago, we ended an English year and started a Spanish year. There are some advantages and some disadvantages to this approach.

I've heard of some couples or families that switch between languages every month, week, or even every day, but I think that would be a bit too confusing. The way we do it, once you start a new language year, it's very unlikely that you'll forget which language you're supposed to speak. As a result, one person can really work on building up his or her fluency. You can also avoid falling into a "Spanglish" trap wherein you speak a mixture of two languages, which can be confusing for you or some onlookers (or in this case "onlisteners," I guess).

There are also some disadvantages. In the case of Angela and I, we usually prefer to not speak our native language. In other words, I prefer our Spanish years, and Angela prefers our English years since we both want to practice a language that's foreign to us. With this approach, one of us has to go for most of a year with little practice in the target language. We do still speak English with my friends and family and Spanish with Angela's. Also, while living in Costa Rica many daily interactions out of home are in Spanish, but we both speak mostly English at work, so at least there's always some practice of both languages.

One big question mark for the future is what we'll do if we have kids. As I noted in my articles about naming customs (USA here and Costa Rica here), we don't even know what last names our kids would have, and we're also unsure how to best raise a bilingual child. I've heard that it's best if each parent always speaks his or her native language with the children so the children don't mix up the two languages. But if we had a kid and it were a Spanish year, for example, it would maybe be weird for me to speak English with the kid and Spanish with Angela, all in the same conversation. I guess we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

What about you? Are you in a bilingual or multilingual family or relationship? Do you know anyone who is? How do you handle it, or how would you handle it if you were? Wow, we have a great opportunity here to practice conditional tenses! 

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

We're still not sure if our kids will prefer Spanish or English, but at least we can
rest assured that they'll grow up with camouflage skirts and Iron Maiden music. 

Saturday, 3 September 2011

North Devon Hawk Walks

How about this for an experience? Falcolnry, but not just watching, actually getting to have the birds fly to and from your arm! It was amazing.
We didn't have the best weather in the world, after all the sunshine of the previous three days, but at least it didn't rain while we were there. We drove to the little village of Withypool (mentioned previously) and met Nigel Penfold, the Falcolner. He took us up into the hills above Withypool and from there we walked about 100 metres down into the valley. After that we took it in turns to do things with the birds.
Nigel took two birds with him, Cassius and Lady MacBeth. We spent ages with Cassius, the younger bird. They are both Harris hawks. He told us all about them - their features, how they fly and hunt, etc. It was very interesting. We wore a thick leather glove on our left hand and Nigel gave us bits of rabbit to hold and the bird would fly onto the glove, eat the meat, stay for a bit and then fly off into a tree about another 100 metres away from us.
We were with the birds for an hour so we all got a fair few times of doing this. My only criticisms of the whole experience were that it didn't really qualify as a walk, since we didn't really walk anywhere. And we didn't see much of Lady MacBeth because she wasn't hungry - we'd booked this a month in advance so you'd have thought he would have not fed her to ensure she was hungry, wouldn't you?
Still, it was a great way to end the school holidays. The girls really enjoyed it and I can't think of anywhere else where you can do this, certainly not in your average theme park or zoo. If you're interested, just Google 'North Devon Hawk Walks' and you'll find Nigel's website. It costs �10 per person.

Beached Sailboat

Beached Sailboat; Early Street, City Island

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Summer House At City Island Yacht Club

Much of the destruction from Tropical Storm Irene has been well documented this week, but some damage  has gone largely unreported. The pier at the City Island Yacht Club is one such example.

Extending out over the waters of this century-old club, the pier, or Summer House, was more than just a launch-dock for boat owners; it served as a focal point for socializing too. On hot summer evenings, the benches here were a popular spot to relax while enjoying the breezes off of Eastchester Bay. The racing team from Columbia University kept their sailboats here, as well.
Back in my City Island days, I spent many evenings on this dock, gazing out at the mooring field with the East River bridges and Manhattan skyline twinkling in the distance. Good times!    

 Fortunately, plans for rebuilding are already underway.



Marvellous Megaliths Walk

Our walk on Tuesday 6th September starts at 2pm from the parking for the megalithic alignments on the D781 just outside the village of Erdeven (east of Lorient). This is a very attractive and easy-going walk, taking in many exceptional neolithic remains on various sites. Suitable for everyone, without any particular diffculties. Hope we can enjoy some September sunshine along the way!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Canada of my Dreams

I never was in Canada. But I read so much about it's nature. And I wrote abut it many times, too. it's possible that I lived in a similar place in one of my previous lives -how can I explain this unusual love that I feel for the northern parts of this Earth? :-)

 Sometimes I read the question when is the best time to visit New England and Canada -it's because the not very numerous rooms for tourists (specially the best) are sold about a year before the season. But there are always free rooms in Spring and Autumn. The "aborigens" say, that spring and autumn are more interesting for those who loves nature. It's because there are not only incredible colors in this period but you can see many animals grazing in the open spaces.

Here are some images I found about Canada in the web.

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