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Showing posts from August, 2009

Demon Dogs and the unwilling return to normal!

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Dear citizens of the world, The Demon Dogs of September have returned. They have sunk their bloodthirsty teeth. The unwilling return to normal has begun! School is starting soon and September 1st marks the beginning of the end... ...may God have mercy on us all! The United Statesian

Photo contests - "How to choose?"

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Dear citizens of the world, I am now trying to send photos to participate in as many photo contests as possible. It is a great way to learn and an incentive to improve. The hard part is choosing the photos. The art of photography is so subjective; each contest has so many possible winners. It is also very personal. Many pictures I take mean something to me, but I don't know how others see them...or what they see. Even if two people agree that they like a photo, they probably don't like it for the same reasons. The above picture is from a bridge over the Bosphorus, outside of Istanbul: it is taken in winter, the weather is cold and crisp, the shot is taken in Europe, but the far shore is Asia, the massive bridge dwarfs the container ship, the mosque in the foreground is plain, elegant, clean, double minarets are complimented by the double supports of the bridge, smaller boats at the bottom help balance the picture and reinforce the contrasts, both modern and new... Many

The "Pueblo" - Torrico

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Citizens of the world, Today, the topic is the Spanish " Pueblo " (Village). El Pueblo is a very important part of Spanish culture - almost everyone has one, but nobody seems to actually live there. Most Spaniards live in big or medium sized cities, but that was not always the case. Urban areas have expanded greatly over the past two generations, but there is still a strong link to the pueblo. The average age of some pueblos is over 60 - a few smaller villages have died out completely. However, there are still thousands of Pueblos that survive, in most part, thanks to the strong family and cultural bonds. When we are not climbing mountains or traveling, we go to Torrico, our pueblo. The main reason is to visit family, but it is also a way to get away from the pollution and stress of the big city, relax, disconnect, and to get your hands dirty in the fields. El pueblo also survives for practical reasons. For many families the pueblo and the extended family serve as a

Toilets - Part I "Achtung! Sit Booboo Sit!"

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Dear citizens of the world, My thoughts have now moved towards the little talked about, but crucial topic of toilets. This subject may seem benign or vulgar, but as soon as you mention the topic with friends who have traveled extensively there is a digresion that could go on indefinitly. Each country has it's quarkes, but today I limit myself to Germany and the "Stand or Sit?" debate. Being a United Statesian male I have always been a Stander - always raising the seat, getting close and taking good aim. However, Germans - and a few other cultures - are firm believers that sitting is the way to go (see pictures). Sitters believe that it is more hygenic because of the splatter effect. Even a good Stander will always have some splatter effect going on. At first, the idea seemed like an attack on manhood. On one of my first visits to Germany, while relieving myself, there was a knock on the door and a female voice with a German accent, "I hear zyoo, zyoo are zt

Signs - Part II "Organized Caos"

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Dear citizens of the world, My second blog post continues along the same topic of signs in China. This sign which can be found at the entrance to Tian'anmen square in Beijing has no translation problems. The problem is cultural. The same as Chris's last post , this sign clearly prohibits exploding vehicles...but it also has many other regulations: When cycling towards the "Peaceful Heavenly Gate" square I decided to stop to read the sign and make sure I was not breaking any laws that would get me thrown into the Beijing slammer. The square is surrounded by hundreds or thousands of uniformed police, military, plain-clothed police, video cameras, communist lasers of death, etc... The sign prohibited buses, but there were many buses full of locals and tourists alike. The sign prohibited bikes pulling large amounts of cargo, but lots of them rode by as I was decifering the sign. In the end, I decided to push ahead, sure that I was not breaking any rules and that m

Signs - Lost in transation

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After reading Chris's most recent blog " Lost in translation " I decided to continue the conversation on translations that could be added and expanded. The true problem with translations comes when no cultural equivalent exisits... Bad English or just avoiding copyright problems? There are thousand of cases of mis-translation that have made me laugh and cry over the past sixteen years as an expat...but I will limit this post to the most recent signs I had the time to photogragh during our three-week, whirlwind tour of China and HK. Future posts should bring more anecdotes and bad translations - part of the fun of being an expat; you always know that there will be a chuckle around the corner, or in the toilet... Signs do not need to include bad English to be of interest - differences in culture are usually enough to make a sign interesting: A dog toilet...Hong Kong style: Perfect English, but not the type of thing I would see in Madrid: "Entrance to the right