Archive for September 7, 2006

Ramblings and Confusion

Alex and I had dinner out on our balcony and had an interesting talk. It was about discussions and the way people would interject statements that cut the discussion dead. It all started when we were talking about children. Alex had put on her blog 10 things she wanted to accomplish before she died. One of the items (since changed) was adopting a child. I asked her if she would prefer to adopt rather than have her own. I won’t repeat her answer but the conversation threaded its way to the way some people perceive childless couples. One response to such couples is that they are selfish. This response seems to terminate any further talk about the subject and places the childless couple in a negative situation. It reminded me of another discussion a few years ago where I had simply mentioned that I thought parents were too overprotective today. One woman who was present simply mentioned that she prefered her children alive than dead. This woman redefined the concept of being overprotective but that single statement brought the discussion to an end. Maybe I lack the wit or spontaneity to respond. This summer, in Spanish class, we were discussing President Bush. There is valid criticism in his policies and the way American liberties are being eroded but the response from an american terminated that discussion. All he said was that we were anti-american and that ended it. Why do these statements end further discussion?

How does one counter these statements ? I sure wish I could be quick enough to come back with an answer that would make the person think beyond her/his own perception of things. I’m sure Ester could bounce back an answer. (See Ester’s blog for some interesting comments)
Anyhow, I’m out on our balcony in Barcelona, sipping Licor de Hierbas. I love this liquor and have it after dinner almost every night. I sure hope we can get it in Canada.

Have a great week everyone and please leave some comments and advice on this one.

September 7, 2006 at 7:08 pm 5 comments

Chatting at the archives

Today I had an interesting chat with Quino, one of the young archivists at the ACA. It started with my innocent question on when school starts again and ended up in a big discussion on job opportunities (or lack thereof) for young academics in Spain and the fierce rivalry between Valencia and Catalunya.

While Alan would no doubt love it if I got a job here, Quino has confirmed my impressions on the possibilities. Catalan universities had its boom – in terms of enrolment – in the 1970s and 1980s and this led to the hiring of many professors. Now, the number of university students are declining and most of the faculty hired in the boom years are now in their 40s, with lots of years left at work. No new faculty will be needed for the next ten years at least. Plus, academics here tend to be overworked and underpaid. As a friend recently suggested, the best deal is to get a job in North America and spend half the year in Spain doing research.

As for the rivalry between Valencia and Catalunya – Quino is from Valencia – it stems from a certain inferiority complex felt by the former in relation to the latter. This has led some Valencians to adopt an alternative view of its history and culture. One example is the creation of a Valencian language. Some people, in their effort to stress the difference between their homeland and Catalunya, maintain that the language they speak is “valenciano”, which has nothing to do with Catalan. This is like suggesting that the language spoken in Brazil has nothing to do with Portuguese. Or that the Castilian spoken in Chile and Spain are intrinsically different. It all reminded me a lot of the feelings of hostility I encountered in the north-east of Brazil (Recife) for the wealthier south (Rio, Sao Paulo, etc).

It seems to me that the more you travel the world, the more you realize how similar we all are…

September 7, 2006 at 4:24 pm 2 comments

10 things I would like to do before I die

Inspired by the book Unforgettable things to do before you die by Steve Watkins and Clare Jones, I came up with my own list of 10 things I would like to do before I die. What about you? What would you like to do?

1. Learn Hebrew, German, Arabic, and an Asian language (possibly Korean) – in that order

2. Spend 1 year in Paris

3. Volunteer in an orphanage or pre-school in Africa

4. Write a book

5. Walk the Camino de Santiago

6. Take a cooking course at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris

7. Take a trip around the world

8. Learn to meditate

9. Widen my niece and nephews’ horizons by taking them to different parts of the world
10. Look back and feel that I have made a positive impact on at least one person’s life

Of course, there are at least a million other things I would like to do, but those were the first 10 things that came to mind.

September 7, 2006 at 4:21 pm 2 comments


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