Saturday, January 31, 2009

Today I had the biggest craving for

a strawberry white chocolate magnum ice cream bar. I wish I was in Retiro!

Spanish word(s) of the day



to face

All from "cara" which is face.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gran Torino

This is the best movie I've seen in a long time. It is about a racist war vet who learns to make nice with his Hmong neighbors. It is beautifully written, has the most amazing cinematography and a wonderful message. I think it shows that globalization is changing our world, but that one can find family in anyone. The people you love don't have to look like you.

Trailer in German, Italian, Spanish & English:


My favorite Xmas present:

This book , edited by Peter K. Austin.

My interest in language was sparked by encountering so many different cultures in Spain and now I'm afraid I love linguistics. It sounds so boring, doesn't it? Language math?

But this encyclopedia of language makes it incredibly interesting. I love all the infographics and photos. The book, divided into 11 sections, organizes the languages by number of speakers and region. There are also sections on endangered and extinct languages.

I've come across some very interesting issues in this book. For example, did you know that some languages utilize whistling? It is in a hunting community and the hunters use whistles so as to not scare off their prey. But they aren't just whistling a few words, they can hold entire conversations!

In our globalized world, we have more and more exposure to other cultures. My experience has been a good one, but globalization may also lead to language loss. Not that languages haven't died out before, but it becomes increasingly more important for people to know a common language.

Take the sherpas of Nepal, for example. A few decades ago (or more), they wouldn't have any need to speak anything except their native one. Now with climbing tourism, it is probably more and more important for them to learn a language the tourists speak. While I whole-heartedly believe in learning multiple languages if you have the opportunity, the loss comes when generations cease to pass down their native language. Take for example Soma Devi Dura, a nepali woman, who is the last remaining speaker of her native language.

I believe each language reflects its culture in a detailed way that a foreign language can never perfectly match. Therefore, each language that goes extinct represents the death of a culture.

Most spoken languages:
Chinese (Mandarin): 1,055 million speakers
English: 760 million speakers
Hindi: 490 million speakers
Spanish: 417 million speakers
Russian: 277 million speakers

Some less spoken languages:
Bole: 300,000 speakers (native to Nigeria)
Emberá: 80,000 speakers (native to Panama & Colombia)
Kriol: 24,000 speakers (native to northern Australia)
Kickapoo: 250 speakers (native to Americas, speakers now live in Mexico)
Gong: 100 speakers (native to the same-named people group of Thailand)

(all language facts from the afore mentioned book)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spanish word of the day

puzzle, riddle, brain-teaser

Romper is the verb for "to break" and cabeza means "head."

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I learned something new tonight.

Thanks wikipedia.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mexican phrase of the day

Alex & Rosario are cooks at El Rancho. I mostly work with them and Jesús. When they aren't asking me if I have a novio or like to dance, they say "Que me cuentas?".

I used to ask people the same question in English when I was bored. "Tell me a story!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My new cafetera!

I bought an espresso-maker at World Harvest the other day! I love this type of coffee pot because it is so simple and doesn't require any paper filters. It doesn't make Artisan-quality espresso, but it tastes like Madrid.

It has three pieces, the water goes in the bottom, coffee in the funnel cup (pack it in for a stronger cup!) and it all comes together in the piece w/ the spout.

You put all the pieces together and set it on the stove top. It takes very little time, depending on how high you turn up the burner. If you keep the heat low, it will taste less bitter and be much less likely to burn.

The water boils in the bottom half and is forced up through the coffee and then spills over the top, like a percolator.

Now I don't have to go through the embarrassment of ordering "a double decaf espresso with a little cold soy milk. Don't heat up the milk. Actually, would it be okay if I just added it?" like a true coffee snob. I am an ex-barista who OD'd on caffeine too many times to still enjoy real coffee. It is impossible for me to order like a normal person.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spanish word of the day

to fall

If I drop a plate at work, in Spanish, I didn't drop it. It fell.

Yet another example of how a language can reflect cultural personalities. I love how this verb takes the blame off me and puts it on the plate!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sitting in Sven's

My temporary roommates don't have internet, which is a nice change of pace. It has also driven me to go to coffee shops more. Now that I am caught up on the celebrity gossip, a blog update:

I went to World Harvest behind the Gerbes on Nifong for the first time a few days ago. I had big expectations. I wanted a refrigerator full of tortilla, fresh pasta and mozzarella cheese. I half expected there to be a whole aisle dedicated to canned meat or olive oil.

I had forgotten how far away I live from Spain.

However, I did find a candy bar I used to eat all the time in Madrid. And manchego cheese. I used to end up eating manchego cheese on everything just to avoid a bocadillo de jamón. Yum!

I also got pulpo and sprinkled in with paprika to make pulpo de gallego. Octopus. My sister refused to sit by me because it smelled so fishy. I didn't care. It wasn't awful...

The other big excitement was a new mokka! It is a Italian/Spanish-style coffee pot. You don't need any filters and it makes the best espresso!

I had a cup this morning and fell happily into the memories that smell and the taste bring back.

Only remaining disappointment: no European-style sausage.

More on the mokka soon.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Spanish word of the day

to howl

Love onomatopoeias.

Found on the front counter at El Rancho:

Adios Dishwasher
Querido de
tus pequeños
y grandes hoyos
ya me despido
si un día yo regreso
ya sería
por muy jodido!

El Chapo

I don't have permission to post this bc this a farewell poem written by Jesus. Hopefully he doesn't mind that I've posted it. I've been working with him for the last two weeks. He washes the dishes, I dry them. Working at El Rancho isn't exactly thrilling.

Today was especially slow and I spent most of my time practicing vocabulary words. Though I don't want to work in fast food for the rest of my life, part of me loves blue-collar jobs. I'm pretty sure I'd be happy as a professional roofer or house painter etc. The added bonus of speaking Spanish all day makes wiping up cheese sauce and being friendly to the racist customers worth it.

The other Jesus, older Jesus, thought this poem was so great that he taped it up above the dishwasher so everyone can read it.

Essentially, the poem says:
Goodbye Dishwasher,
loved for
your small and large pots and pans
I say goodbye
If one day I return
I would already be
totally screwed.

El Chapo