Friday, June 27, 2008

Part 4 & 5 annoy your friends with anonymous postcards from abroad

While in Madrid, my friend Greg forwarded me some good information about a couple he and his wife know. Here are the details about them
Names: Joe and Michelle
Address: Omaha NE
Professions: Joe is a Physical Therapist / Michelle is a Physician's Assistant
Children: Joey (1 going on 2)
Current Events: They are having a baby today. They were induced this morning and are still waiting to see the new baby. Some specifics are: It will be a girl, they haven't landed on a name yet, they are at Methodist hospital.
Other Details: Both went to John Brown University, Both play sports (Joe played Basketball, Michelle played Volleyball), Both sing in the church choir, Joe loves to BBQ and watch basketball/sports, Michelle loves fruity candy, Joey can't quite talk yet in full words but you can kind of understand him, Both come from large families, Joe is the oldest of 5 brothers, They live in Omaha NE but weren't born here, Joe used to sing in a Gospel Quintet, Joe is the #1 fan of singer David Phelps, They love American Idol, They have friends from all over and Joe has a brother who is a missionary in the Philippines.
Hopefully that is enough for you to do your thang. I would raz them a little about not having decided on the baby's name as that seems to be something people talk about. I'm assuming I'll pay you when you get back?!? That gives us an excuse to get some people together for lunch sometime and hear your traveling stories.
Aight, catch you lata, enjoy the rest of your trip. 
And here are the postcards...
Hey Gang!
Congrate on the new addition to the fam. What are you going to name the new baby? You know that you cant leave the hospital w/o naming that kid! My suggestion is to name the kid after some Spanish soccer or war hero.
I've been all over Spain and have visited some amazing churches. I think both of you should tryout for the La Sagrada Familia church choir. That church would be amazing to be a part of. Hope your brother is safe in the Phillipines and little Joey is talking up a storm.
See you guys soon!

Jamie wrote...
Joe & Michelle
Congrate on the new addition to your family! Joes is going to love being a BIG brother! Methodist was great when I had my two kids there. We'll have to BBQ when we get back and share stories about all our travels - - - this week we are in Madrid & Loving it! Tonight we will see a bullfight at Las Ventas 0 0 0 the ring on the front - - - Should be fun to see you soon!

for the record...jamie does not have two kids.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Part 3a: annoy your friends with anonymous postcards from abroad

i dont know if the goal was to annoy or just to confuse. but i think it worked.

here's an email i received from my friend Paul. Paul is the guy who set me up with Joe's address.

I ran into Joe last night so I asked him if he had been getting any strange mail. He looked kind of surprised and said that he had. I didn't want to let him in on the secret, but I couldn't come up with a good reason for why I would know about it otherwise. He enjoyed it and said that it has been the topic of conversation with just about everyone he has talked to for the past three weeks. He was convinced that it was his aunt somehow trying to convince him to become a missionary in Morocco or Spain. Anyway, I'm glad your trip went well and thanks for the fun.

Part 3: annoy your friends with anonymous postcards from abroad

This is my third and final postcard to my friend-that-I-never-know named Joe. The postcard says
Papa Joe
I know a guy like you would appreciate a postcard like this. Nothing but love coming from Madrid, baby! You gotta see this place. It's a Spanish version of New York or Chichage, except people speak a different language and dress sharper. Ive seen some excellent street performances that you would appreciate from your RoadShow days. Nothing like a good street performance to get the say started off right, ya know.
Take Care, see you on Ragbrai.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Why Can't Omaha Be Biker Friendly Like Barcelona

This entry is dedicated to biker awareness on the road. So I'm returning from the grocery story about an hour ago and have one of my panniers full of goods. I'm at the stoplight behind a car...Stationary. Unclipped from my pedals. Waiting to go northbound on 50th and Dodge. I'm not going slow...I'm stopped when this wife-beater-wearin-jerkstore tried to run me off the rode while waiting at the stoplight. This idiot leaves the road, drives onto the sidewalk and pulls up beside me. Ok, he's driving on the sidewalk now and yells at me, "Get the f-off the f-in road." Being tired, hungry, hot and sweaty did not help my patience. My blood began to boil, I took a look at the guy and I'm like..hmm, "Well, D-A, looks like your the one who is off the road...why dont you respect the riders." Now, I'm never really one to start anything...but I'm not the type who is going to back down if i get pushed. We exchange a few more niceties and he drives off...driving on the sidewalk between the stoplight pole and the building. Curse you Teal BMW with Nebraska plates PYP 754

It's time for Omaha to grow up. Mayor Fahey, buy some paint and mark those streets to make the city more biker friendly...I do have to give Omaha credit...Omaha has made some progress in recent years, but those streets are not entirely biker friendly. There needs to be a shift in thinking. My roommate Andrea said it best that Omaha is at the point where we are like some tweeners are between high school and college. "do i wanna grow up and do the mature stuff...or do i wanna sit in the basement of my parents home, play xbox all day, and never grow up. O-town is at this point and needs to get out of Ma' and Pa's basement and into the real world.

Omaha needs to be a bit more like Barcelona. I have never seen a more biker friendly town than Barcelona, Spain. I'm pretty sure if I travel to more spots in Europe, I'll realize that there are many more biker friendly communities out there. Here's why I think Barcelona's biking community. Many of the biking lanes have a median that separates bikers from traffic and pedestrians. Biking lanes have their own cross walk signs. Bike racks are organized and the ADT-swipe card system lets you lock up your bike without carrying a heavy lock. Drivers respect bikers and bikers respect drivers and pedestrians. It's time for Omaha to grow up and become biker friendly. Plus, the useful thing about taking a bike to a bar is that you can use the bike to lean on when you return home. My friend Geoff from California (originally from biker friendly Ireland told me that one)

im workin on the fotos n stuff...but this weather makes me just want to head outside.

Man Vs. Beast...Plaza de Los Toros...Bullfighting Time!


Bullfighting in Spain goes wayback and whether or not you are a fan of it or not, it's an impressive spectacle. The sight of an angry 600kg-horned beast barreling down full-speed at guy dressed in a sparkling singlet and matching jacket will grab your attention. "Ole," the crowd shouts as the beast sends his horns through the matador's outstretched pink cape.
Below is a tale of our time at a Madrid bullfighting match.
So we hopped off the subway at the Las Ventas stop and climbed the metro stairs to a brown-bricked circular
plaza with people buying/selling food and fans preparing for the match. The quantity of people outside the stadium matches the sight similar to ESPN gameday, except there are no drunk frat boys with letters painted on their chest and no Lee Corso wearing a mascott on his head. Just a calm buzz about the match and people lining up to get in.

Jamie and I picked up a few bocadillo sandwiches and thought about eating them prior to entrance. I asked around and everybody said bringing food into the arena is common practice. Now, being from the States, Jamie and I are accustomed to over-zealous insecurity guards at events like the College World Series where they actually hire Douglas County Sheriffs, Omaha Police Officers, and Delta Security (cop wannabes) to pat down little kids and ensure they dont bring in their own bag of sunflower seeds. Forget about the 31 shootings Omaha had in 31 days last year, our priorities are geared more towards searching fans who want to bring in a 99-cent bag of Cornnuts rather than preventing/solving crimes. but that's my point of view.

Getting back to the story, the Las Ventas event, folks let you bring in anything...I mean anything! 2 liter bottles, cans of beer, hard liquor, full meals...a guy even brought in a whole pig's leg! Why can't we do that in America. Let's focus on the event, instead of profit. So we ate our dinner and drank a Coke inside the stadium where we watch the stands fill up from our 14th row seats. Typically, the cheaper seats in a bullfighting event are situated in the sunny section. We were in those seats and the sun warmed us in the Spring weather.

The stadium is full and it is game time. The drums pound, the horns sound, the gates to the ring open to begin the opening ceremonies. Four bullfighters walk into the stadium on their steeds followed by the junior toreros. To me, the junior toreros are the rodeo clown equivalent that protect the main bullfighter by distracting the bull and maintaining its level of anger while the main bullfighter changes horses. Instead of barrels, these toreros duck for cover behind recessed panels that allow them to duck and cover when the bull gets a little too close. The participants do their song and dance and everybody saw how well-trained these horses were. According to rider command, the animals marched forwards, backwards, and sideways in a variety of cadences and trots. Pretty cool, actually. When that finished, the real fun began. Man vs. Beast. The fight begins with a single horse mounted bullfighter waiting in the ring. The main door opens and a horned beast charges at full speed. It's looking for something to take out its aggression on. The bullfighter sees the 600kg animal coming and starts to move. Because of it's ability to quickly turn and easily accelerate, the horse has the advantage in the fight. It's all about angles in this fight. The bull gets close enough to feel the horse's tail, but the bullfighter steers the horse enough to be a safe distance.

For a long time I always thought bullfights were just a guy in spandex and a bull plowing through a red cape. Well, that's not exactly how things happen. Bulls die in the match. The bull's death takes about 15 or 20 minutes and it's pretty bloody. The end of the bull begins with the bull chasing the horse for a bit. The bullfighter is then handed a long barbed shaft. With shaft, the bullfighter charges the bull and jabs it into the bull's neck, staining the black coat deep red. The bullfighter jams two more long barbs into the bull's neck and is then handed three smaller, dagger-sized barbs. With the smaller daggers, the bullfighter gets almost parallel with the bull and crosses over his body to jab the barb into the animal's neck. This is a pretty complicated move considering all the moving parts going on. The bull is tired. It's not as quick as it once was and from our seats you witness how heavily the animal is breathing. At that time, the bullfighter gets off of his horse, grabs a pink cape, another barb, and approaches the bull. The bull aims its horns at the cape but only plows through the air. This goes on for a few more minutes and the bullfighter successfully plants a few more barbs into the beast's neck. The bull is near the end when the red cape appears. The junior bullfighters appear from their recessed doors and begin to waive their pink capes on the sides of the beast to ensure the bull is sufficiently exhausted and blinded. You too would prolly go blind if someone stabbed you in the neck a dozen times. The fights ends when the bullfighter takes a long sword known as a muleta and thrusts it between the shoulder blades and into the heart of the beast. The bull stiffens for an instance and then goes limp. Maintenance then comes in to drag the bull out of the ring. A harness is fastened around the bull's head and horns for three mules to drag the animal away.

steak anyone?

Without a doubt, bullfighting is cruelty to animals, especially when the bullfighter misses with the muleta and has to retry a few times. the crowd was not pleased when that happened.

Jamie and I saw around eight matches that evening and the scariest event occurred on the second fight. You know how I mentioned man vs. beast and how the bull usually dies? Well, in this match the bull at least got a few good shots in and really hurt the bullfighter. While the bullfighter is putting barbs into the bull's neck, he will perform some elaborate tricks on the horse while the bull is chasing it. One of those tricks included a pirouette where the bull slowly follows the horse and then the horse does a 360 degree turn right in front of the horned-beast. This trick worked well when the bullfighter would turn into the ring, or the open area. Well, we witnessed the horse turning into the wall and towards the bull. The bull was waiting for him and dug its horns into the horse and knocking the rider down. It only lasted a few seconds, but the crowd went silent, the white horse we bloodied, and the bullfighter's head was injured. They got him out of there, but talk about bloody. yaowza

Monday, June 02, 2008

more photos coming!

There's something about sitting in front of a PC for nine or 10 hours a makes you wanna get out of the office and do something else as a stress release.

Here are a few fotos from Morocco. I was kinda hesitant to pull out my Nikon, so I used my Fuji because it was small. Losing the Fuji wouldn't have been as bad as the Nikon.

more photos will be coming


more fotos are comin up!

There's something about sitting in front of a PC for nine or 10 hours a makes you wanna get out of the office and do something else as a stress release.

Here are a few fotos from Morocco. I was kinda hesitant to pull out my Nikon, so I used my Fuji because it was small. Losing the Fuji wouldn't have been as bad as the Nikon.

more photos will be coming