An Excerpt From My Novel – My Hope Tarnished

An excerpt from a novel I’ve been working on (although I haven’t written anything at all recently):

My hope, tarnished like an abandoned bicycle chained to a tree for years;
As the bicycle, my aspirations chained to the harsh physical realities;

New Jersey’s Contribution to Rock

New Jersey has produced a fair amount of seminal rock — the Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, the Misfits and the Gaslight Anthem — in part because the guitar strap fits so snugly around the chip on the shoulder that goes with being from there.

David Carr, New York Times

Why Lagos is an Underrated Travel Destination

Portugal itself is quite underrated as a travel destination. It’s similar to Spain, although it feels more subdued. Things move even more slowly. Everything is cheaper, and there are notably less tourists. The food is more flavorful, and its portions are more generous. If you’re in Europe, and want to see spectacular beaches, one next to the other, that aren’t saturated with tourists, I highly recommend Lagos, Portugal. If you’re up for a nice two hour walk along the cliffs on the coast, you can start from Praia da Batata, and pass beautiful beaches such as Praia Dona Ana, Praia Pinhão, Praia do Camilo, until you reach Ponta da Piedade, where there is a lighthouse. Photo_Batata Beach Praia da Batata has to be the most beautiful beach I’ve seen that’s right in the city center.

Teaching these Spaniards Spanish

Ok.. I think I can leave Spain now. My Spanish is good enough.
I’ve taught two Spanish words to two grown Spanish men. haha

In case you were wondering, they were

Barcelona..

Barcelona is such a cool city.. too bad I’m wasting it. -08/19/12

A Summertime Quote by Hemingway

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I smiled as I read this quote, because I experienced something very similar in Portugal, where I stayed the past week. Pictures to come soon..!

Mallorca Photos

Mallorca (often spelled as Majorca among English speakers) forms one of the four Balearic Islands between mainland Spain and Italy. Along with Formentera, Ibiza, and Menorca, it attracts many tourists, especially from Germany and other Northern European countries. In fact, I am not exaggerating when I say that I heard more German than Spanish while I was there. Mallorca is absolutely stunning. Although I’m sure the natives are nostalgic about its days before it became so touristy (quite recent, actually), I thought that the Mallorquins did a great job with balancing the pressure of modernization from the tourists and foreigners with preserving its culture and natural beauty. But what would I know? I was only a visitor for four days. Some advice if you plan on visiting Mallorca:

Interesting Facts and Quotes about Time

  • Time is not absolute, but relative because it is intertwined with space. If the Big Bang Theory is true, time was created with the Big Bang. If interested in the relativity of time, start out by reading about time dilation or the Twin Paradox (There are identical twins. One hops on a very fast rocket, and the other stays on Earth. When the one on the rocket returns, s/he will be younger than the one who stayed.)
  • Everything we see if technically the way it was in the past since it takes time for light to reach us. When you look at the moon, you’re seeing it as it was over a second ago, the sun, eight minutes ago, and Polaris (North Star), 680 years ago.

Surprising Similarities between the Spaniards and Koreans

  1. 99% of guys are mama’s boys.
  2. They live with their parents until they have their own kids.
  3. Easily impressed and generous with compliments.
  4. They’re very observant. It’s impossible to hide anything from them (any emotion, weight gain/loss, etc).
  5. Street vendors sell roasted chestnuts, corn, and sweet potatoes in the fall/winter. Yum!
  6. Like garlic, and don’t mind the smell of it.
  7. They now realize the importance of marketing; French brands (wine, cheese, tourism) overshadow Spanish brands even though the quality is similar, and Japanese products are better known than Korean products (ginseng vs insam, kimono vs hanbok, mochi vs dduk), although the latter are becoming better known recently (Taekwondo, Samsung, LG, etc).
  8. Must be a bit daring to cross the street in big cities in Spain and Korea, even if it’s your green light. If you stand on the curb, waiting for the cars to stop, you will never be able to cross.
  9. Most spend 10+ years studying English, yet they can’t speak a word of it.
  10. Families include third cousins once removed- holidays are never boring.

Riot in Barcelona

There was a nationwide strike in Spain to protest labor reforms that weaken the rights of the employees (easier dismissal, prolonged trial period, etc). I think the riot in Barcelona was the most violent.

To avoid trouble, I got permission to work remotely, but after having connection issues, I gave up and walked to work. Paseo de Gracia, the central street in Barcelona, was blocked, so there were just pedestrians. I actually quite enjoyed the walk- I wasn’t stopped by traffic lights after each block, and I didn’t have to tailgate tourists who just casually stroll down the street.

Why God Doesn’t Directly Communicate With Us Anymore

Here is Matthew Alper’s (indirect) answer to my question from my last post, “What Would You Ask Elie Wiesel” :

Why was the past so replete with divine interventions while the
present contained none? When was the last time the church had
sanctioned or endorsed a miracle? …. Now with the advent of
scientific culture, if a person were to claim to have witnessed a
miracle, he would have to be able to prove it. No longer could any
drunk, charlatan, or schizophrenic walk ito town claiming to have
beheld some miracle of God without having to answer to a body of
scientific culture…

What Would You Ask Elie Wiesel?

I had a few opportunities to watch Elie Wiesel speak. If you do not know who he is, he is a holocaust survivor probably best known for his book, Night, which I highly recommend- it is a short but intense and profound book about his experience in two concentration camps.

What Spanish Street Signs Reveal About Spaniards

Street sign in Madrid

Spaniards care less about functionality than the Americans do

American street signs, in general, are out in the streets, where it is easy for both pedestrians and drivers to see, and all of them are completely uniform within the area: same height above the ground, same font, same color, etc. Spanish street signs are attached to the buildings at different heights, and have different fonts, pictures, and styles. Apparently, they care more about aesthetics and tradition rather than efficiency.

Below, you will see the standard American street sign, taken in Boston and New York. It is very simple, written in sans serif, and evokes the image of letters written with chalk on a blackboard. Some may not think it is attractive, but it is certainly legible.