Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Is English Really Enough?

I have two friends in Barcelona that can speak English, Spanish, Catalan and Mandarin. The number of people they could communicate with is amazing. In Europe, it's extremely common to meet people that can speak 5,6,7 or more languages. It always amazes me when I see friends here effortlessly switch from one language to another to another to another.

The lack of interest most Americans have learning a second language is very unfortunate. I hate to admit that until recently I was in the group. I wish I would have been smarter and started earlier (just like my father always told me).

Interest Facts (source):

  • Spanish has grown to be roughly the same size as English in terms of its native-speaker base, and may overtake it. Spanish is challenging English in some parts of the USA, where a number of towns have predominantly Spanish-speaking populations. Side comment for my US friends: How many times have you heard “Press one for English, press two for Spanish” when you call an 800? Exactly, a lot.
  • In terms of native-speaker rankings, English is falling in the world league tables. Only 50 years ago it was clearly in second place, after Mandarin. Estimating the number of speakers for the very large languages is surprisingly difficult, but it seems probable that Spanish, Hindi-Urdu and English all have broadly similar numbers of first-language speakers. Some commentators have suggested that English has slipped to fourth place, where its position will become challenged by Arabic in the middle of the present century. The figures opposite show the demographic profiles of Chinese, Spanish and Arabic over the century 1950–2050.
  • Chinese will remain the largest language terms of native speakers in the world for the foreseeable future. Its transnational use will grow.
  • Arabic, demographically speaking, is the fastest growing of the world languages.
  • While English is a major language, it only accounts for around 30% of the world Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is likely to account for less in the future. Neglecting other languages means ignoring significant potential markets.
I'm curious, what languages do you speak and what language(s) do you wish you could speak. I'd love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

Quote # 5

In lieu of a quote, I am post 4 maxims by a Poet named Changming Yuan. I read them in a London bookstore. I liked them enough to copy them down to share with you all.

1) The meaning of life, if any at all, is to create a meaning for life.

2) A house for sale is never a home, while a heart unoccupied is a hotel for rent.

3) He is happy who is not afraid to be rich, sexual, famous and powerful.

4) The mask is the only garment that will never go out of fashion.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Needing more time

The London adventure left me without any clean clothes, with a lot less money, but it also gave me lot of amazing memories. I had several experiences that I know I'll look back on and just smile as I relive the moment in my mind.

After what seemed like a long time away, I arrived back in Barcelona late last night.
In my rush to make my flight, I forgot a lot of items in London. This includes my camera, a ring and too many clothes.

Leaving very little time to relax, tomorrow afternoon I'm heading to Brussels where the 15 day eurotrip begins. The the tentative travel plan looks like this...

Barcelona > Brussels
> Cologne > Paris > Rotterdam > Amsterdam > Brussels > Barcelona

With only 24 hours until I leave, I don't have time to let my wet clothes hang dry like I normally do. Lucky, a dry cleaner agreed to dry my clothes (for only 5 euro!).

I have a lot of other things I need to do before I head out.
I'll try and update as the trip progresses. However, I have no idea if I'll have access to internet or the time.

A stranger defined

The following text comes from an essay written about East London by freelance writer named Erica Johansson.

"A stranger is simply a friend you have not got to know yet. What lies between are openness and contact. It does not matter whether you are in London, Lisbon, La Paz, Laos, Lesotho or Long Beach. Cross that boundary line. Maybe you will get a nice chat, prejudices confirmed or refuted,
another viewpoint, a new friend. Your travel experiences will however be richer in many ways. "

Read the full essay here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving reflections

Douglas Karr wrote this amazing manifesto about happiness:

Our culture is inundated with messages that lead us down a path of self-destruction. Happiness is equated with things we do not have... cars, money, 6-pack abs, awards, lifestyles, or even just a soda. Knowledge is equated with wealth, albeit accumulated or inherited. This is the disease of our culture, assuring us that we are never smart enough, never wealthy enough, never have enough.

The media entertains us with stories of wealth, sex, crime, and power - all things things that may hurt us or others when taken in excess. Our government even participates in the misdirection, tantalizing us with lotteries. Every marketing message and every commercial is the same, "You will be happy when..."

We are not happy with our spouses, so we get divorced. We're not happy with our homes, so we relocate our families and buy bigger until we can't afford them. We shop until our credit is used up and we go bankrupt. We are not happy with our jobs, so we join in hurtful politics to try to accelerate our promotions. We're not happy with our employees so we hire new ones. We're not happy with our profits, so we let faithful employees go.

We are a culture of individuals who are told that hording is the best path to happiness. The grass is always greener" the next girlfriend, the next home, the next city, the next job, the next drink, the next election, the next, next, next... We are never taught to be happy with what we have now. We must have it, and have it now. That's when we'll be happy.

Since it's only possible for the selected few to have it all, the bar is always higher than we can reach. We can never achieve happiness as defined by our culture. How do we cope? We medicate. Illicit drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, tobacco are all necessary and popular since they take the edge off of our unfulfilling lives.

In truth, we are on top of the world. We are the leaders with everything element of success that a culture is measured against. We have the mightiest armies, the most fantastic natural resources, the greatest economy, and the most amazing people.

Yet, we are not happy.Don't rely on anyone or anything outside your own self to drive your happiness. It is up to no one but yours. When you own your happiness, no one can steal it, no one can buy it, and you don't have to look elsewhere to find it.

God bless you and yours this fantastic Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is 1 day out of a year. Perhaps we should have 'Self-giving' and reverse our calendar. Let us spend the rest of the year being happy with what we have and one day spoiling ourselves with what we don't have. Let us be happy with our family, our children, our home, our job, our country and our lives.

You'll be happy when... you find happiness in yourselves.

Quote # 4

"Although the young person has never been old, the old person once was young. When you look up the age ladder, you look at strangers; when you look down the age ladder, you are always looking at versions of yourself. As an adult, those fantastic younger incarnations can seem either long left behind or all too continuous with who you are now." - Mark Grief, "Children of the Revolution" November 2006 Harpers

I find this quote very interesting. It's difficult for me to think of an older person any differently than how I've always known them. I don't see the 25 year old that smoked, drank and partied too much in the successful 50 year old business person. Likewise, it's interesting to look at the 50 year old loser and wonder what they did (or didn't do) earlier in their life.

This quote reminded me how my experiences right now will affect me for years to come


Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends and family that are celebrating back in America. It feels extreemly strange to have a holiday such as Thanksgiving, one that I've grown up with my entire life come and go without mention. Earlier today I did have some turkey. Sadly, it was packaged, pre-sliced turkey from Tesco, a huge supermarket chain here in the UK.

Perhaps tomorrow I'll try and recreate my own little day of thanks and pig out.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Change in plans...I'm still in London

I am supposed to be in Barcelona by now. Well, I missed my flight by 5 minutes. I was a bit upset - that is until I found another ticket for $40.00 leaving on Sunday. Not only is that extremely inexpensive, but it will give me another weekend in London. I'm going to take advantage of this as much as comfortably possible. The only downside to arriving in Barcelona on Sunday is that it will give me only one day to prepare for my 3 week Eurotrip .

The past couple of days have kept me very busy. I went to a very popular disco on Monday called Heaven. The people I went with got me in free and into the VIP room. The VIP room was extremely posh, but I didn't stay in there for very long because I was dancing in the large house music room for most of the night. It's funny how fast 5 hours goes when you're dancing and having a good time.

Yesterday during the day I went to the V&A museum. I continue to be amazing at the quality of museums that you can enjoy in London for free. I was there for several hours and would haved stay longer had they not kicked me out for a private party that was about to start.

Later in the night I saw the musical Avenue Q (it won a tony for best new musical in 2004). I was very familiar with the musical because I've owned the score for well over a year. Still, seeing it live with all of the additional content kept it fresh and fun. I would highly recommend it to anyone, but it's especially good for those in their 20s and 30s that are still "trying to figure it all out". The CD can be bought from Amazon.com.

I continue to be amazed over the food here in London. I've had some amazing Indian & Moroccan food. Staying here through Sunday will allow me to enjoy even more of the many things London has to offer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Speaking in tounge

Ok, this video is too funny. WARNIGN: Don't watch if you're easily offended. It's from a new comedy series on the BBC here in England. I can't help but laugh as I'm in the process of learning Spanish. Thanks for the link Michael!

Monday, November 20, 2006

London Thoughts & Observations

I am shocked at the number of obese people in London. I recently read in one of the news papers that 20% of children in London are considered obese.

In contrast to the general population, I am shocked at the number of crazy sexy people in London clubs.

The number of completly drunk people walking around the city in the early afternoon is astonishing. I saw a woman fall flat on her face and fall asleep in the Kings Cross stop.

Speaking of the tubes, one woman sitting next to me grabbed my crotch and then licked her lips. Another one decided to expose herself to me right before taking another swig of wine directly out of the bottle. She was drugged and drunk. Nice. An insance guy decided that he wanted to feel my friends bicep. Oh, and why must people stuff themselves into the train when there already over packed? This especially makes me upset considering the trains run almost every minute. I don’t enjoy being so close to people that I can count the number of hairs in their nose.

London is the party city of the world – without question. If one was so inclined, you could easily party from Thursday night until Monday morning without a break. Clubs are open at all times of the night and day – and they’re BUSY. I went to Juice at Fire on Saturday night going into Sunday moring. A local magazine has club updates. This is what they have to say about Fire.

"Juicy is back this Saturday at Fire with its megamix blend of disco debauchery,tits and torsos right through from 11pm Saturday through to 10am Sunday with the extra bonanza allowing the hardcore to stay on into Later (10am-8pm).How much can you take? This week the Main room is kept rump-a-pumpingby special guest Steve Pitron and residents rob Sykes, D’Johnny and The Oli.Filthy beats and treats can be found in the Mirror Arch from Dave Cross,David Jimenez and Per QX. Juicy draws some of the sexiest gym-bunnies theworld has ever seen. Fusing together mind-blowing production, pyrotechnicsand extra sexy go-gos, Juicy is an event not to be missed."

The weather has been cold and rainy. I think I’m getting used to the Mediterranean climate.

I love the unspoken rule of people standing on escalators stay on the right while walkers stay on the left.

British people are a bit crazy and I think they would openly admit it.

I'm taking advantage of all the freebees that stores are giving out for Chrismas. I have enough face and eye cream to party for 15 hours get no sleep and still have a fresh, glowing face. ;)

Unlike Barcelona, the city is actually decorated for Christmas.

The Tate modern museum is amazing.

Tonight is Popcorn at Heaven.

Tomorrow i'm going to the V&A during the day and going the musical Avenue Q at night.

More on London when I get back to BCN.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Here we go...

I'm heading to London in a few hours. I'll return to Barcelona on the 24th for a nice 4 day weekend (party!). On November 28th I'm going to Brussels where my friend Zach lives. We're taking a 15 day road trip stopping in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Cologne, Paris and some other smaller cities along the way. I'll be back in Barcelona on the 14th of December. That will leave me with two weeks to relax here in BCN before leaving for Lisbon with a huge group of friends to celebrate the new year. Wish me luck. Ciao!

p.s below are links to new photos

interesting buildings in BCN

statues & other art

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Mullet Mondays - Late

Here it is...a bit late. You see, the problem is that my friend lives in the most affluent area of Barcelona. People that sport the mullet tend to stay away from Gucci, Armani, Prada, Valentino, D&G, etc. As a result, I've seen a lot less mullets on the street, making them more difficult to share with you. Perhaps I need to visit the Raval and Born districts more often...they're both mullet heaven.

Thankfully, I saw this beauty on my way to dinner a few nights back. Notice how he's grooming while waiting for the light to turn green. I know deep down inside you wish that was your hand and not his.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Quote # 3

"We must never cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time" – T.S. Eliot

Friday, November 10, 2006

Panellets - Catalonia Cookies

According to Wikipedia, "Panellets are the traditional dessert of the All Saints holiday in Catalonia, together with chestnuts, sweet potatoes and sweet wine. Panellets (Catalan for little breads) are small cakes or cookies in different shapes, mostly round, made mainly of marzipan."

Funny, until recenlty I though pannellets was Catalan for fuckin amazing- because they are. They remind me of all the different types of cookies that people make during Christmas.

Street vendos also fill the streets this time of the year selling roasted chestnuts and grilled sweet potatoes. I've enjoyed sweet potatoe back home, but they've never tasted as good as they do here. Knowning that they'll be gone soon, I buy them almost every night and eat them with no butter or
sugar. Click on the photo for a larger version. Yum!

Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona

The three photos below will give you a small taste of the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona. These photos do not show the true architectural beauty - it is simply amazing. I guess that means you'll have to visit Barcelona to see it in person...correct?

About the Building (Source: MACBA)
The MACBA, designed by American architect Richard Meier, has a longitudinal floor plan with a 120 x 35 m base, in which a circular piece that serves to articulate exhibition space, is vertically inserted, passing through all four floors.
Richard Meier’s architecture is clearly based on rationalism and alludes to the masters of Modern Architecture, particularly Le Corbusier, by combining straight and curved lines to establish a dialogue between interior space and exterior illumination which filters into the galleries through large skylights. Every floor of the MACBA is bathed in natural light, as Meier uses it to both define and generate space. To make this possible, Meier separated some of the supports from the façade. This same concept determines the atrium space, which is designed as a vertical gallery, parallel to the main façade, which filters and distributes light into the different parts of the building while communicating interior and exterior space through ramps that allow access to all floors and a hall which leads the visitor to the galleries.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feeling a bit sick

First Outrage

Are you aware of the very high profile scandal involving the nation's top Evangelical leader? The President of the 30 million memeber National Association of Evangelicals has been exposed as a man who cheats on his wife and family, employs a male prostitute, uses illegal drugs and generally lives a life of complete hypocrisy.

"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life."

Haggard is a tragic, yet typical victim of the closet. How will the 30 million Evangelicals process the fact that they’ve been led and misguided for these many years by an extremely dysfunctional gay man? I suppose most of them will go into some state of pathological denial, but maybe a few will begin to reassess just how far they've been led astray from the true teachings of Christ. And maybe a few will consider that Evangelical homophobia is driven by self-hatred, fear and internal rage and not by anything good, noble or Christian.

This all sounds way too familiar to the Catholic priest scandal.

Second Outrage

Put simply, the citizens of Wisconsin voted to legalize discrimination. I really hope that you chose equality over discrimination.

I agree with the Mike Tate, the president of FairWisconin when he said, "We did not lose because the people of Wisconsin don't like gay people," he said. "We lost because the people of Wisconsin don't know gay people.” Thankfully, there are signs that the future will be better. Of people under 30, nearly 70% voted NO. Of those over 65, nearly 70% voted yes. Unlike older generations; younger generations have grown up with openly gay friends & family members all around them. There is a sense of understanding, not fear.

Doesn’t society benefit when more people sign on for the commitment, stability, and responsibility that civil union’s entail?

Frankly, all this makes me just a bit sick.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A typical first conversation

Where are you from?

Near Chicago (I’ve resorted to stating the closest city that everyone knows...it saves a lot of confusion and explanation)

Oh, an American. So how long have you been here?

About three months now.

You’re here for school, right?

No, I’m just traveling Europe for now. I'm looking to get a job soon, starting in February.

Whaaat? You mean that you’ve been doing absolutely nothing for 3 months and that's your plans for the next 3 months.

No, I’ve been traveling and I’ve seen pretty much everything in Barcelona.

But you don’t have a job or go to university?

Correct. I'm traveling too much now.

Hhhmmmm….I see. Lucky you.

Yeah, it’s fun.

What did you do back in the U.S.

I had a nice job, but was a bit bored and wanted to do something interesting. I quit my job and was in Barcelona two weeks later.

Wow, seems crazy.

Exactly. I'm not bored anymore.

Why did you choose Barcelona?

I heard that it’s an amazing city with a great night life. I wanted to be in a fun city when I was not traveling. The weather does not hurt either. Oh, and I wanted to learn Spanish.

Good choice. How is your Spanish coming along?

Slowly. (it’s at this point they always test my Spanish…most of the time I fail.)

Spanish Spanish
Spanish Spanish Spanish...si?!

Blank stare

Yeah, you need more practice.

A lot more.

So, um, like how do you afford all this without working?

I'm an escort. It pays really well.

No...really!? I thought you didn't work!

It's easy, I don't consider it work, per se.

Yeah, I guess... Are you really an escort?!

No, I'm just really thrifty and live off savings. I made a lot more than I spent for almost 2 years while working full-time. Friends and family helped with starter money. Still, I would be happy to take anything towards the cause...you know, not having a job and all... ;)

That's good you're not an escort. How about a drink towards the cause?

Sure, that works.

Mullet Mondays

You might have a difficult time distinguishing between the guy and girl with this lovely couple. Happy Monday!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Modes of Transportation

Transportation in Barcelona is extremely efficient. I find it very simple to navigate around the city due to its size and multiple transportation options available. These options include: underground metro, taxi, bus and light rail (not as common).

My primary mode of transportation is two muscular legs (sexy) supported by a very tiny ass
(not so sexy). This is because 1) I'm never in a rush 2) I would rather spend my limited resources on things other than taxis and metro tickets 3) it's a great way to see the city and 4 ) it's excellent exercise. When I'm in a rush or going across the city I'll take the metro. It's clean, easy, fast and often includes free entertainment in the form of eccentric bag ladies, bums, drunks and aspiring "musicians". Just yesterday I watched an elderly women with no teeth (unsuccessfully) attempting to eat an extremely ripe peach. I was in such awe that I must have watched her for 10 minutes. In that time she finished chewing maybe one bite. The old men that link to sign only songs they understand is also very entertaining.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit bitch on a friends moped (which are EVERYWHERE, btw). There is nothing to keep you from falling off and I nearly pissed my pants as he was weaving in and out of lanes.
The people that drive the mopeds are absolutely crazy. You must stay out of there way or risk being run over.

Anyway, I've been taking photos of the cool cars here in Europe. My three favorite photos are posted below.
All of the transportation photos can be viewed here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Quote # 2

“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” - George Bernard Shaw


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Life as a vagabond

Wacko Jacko
As some of you already know, I have not been getting along with one of my roommates. I noticed a few odd things within first month, but shrugged them off as small eccentricities. Well, those small eccentricities grew and the tension calumniated during a fight two weeks ago. I won't get into the details, but it was at that point that I decided that I no longer wanted to live with this wack job. My two other roommates are in the process of looking for a new apartment for the very same reason.

My initial thought was to move into a new apartment starting November 1st. However, I looked at my calendar and noticed that in November and December I’m going to be in Barcelona a total of two, maybe three weeks. I immediately saw a great opportunity to save 800 euro in rent. Jose, a good friend of mine here in Barcelona offered to let me crash at his house until I figure out what I’m doing long term. Not only will this save me 800 euro, but it freed up my security deposit at the last apartment to the tune of 600 euro.

Looking Forward
Yesterday I packed up my things and moved my suitcases into Jose's apartment.
The next step is creating a long term strategy and figuring out if it involves the U.S or Europe. I'm open to suggestions, so comment way. ;)