No sé si es la mejor ciudad del mundo (de hecho tiene bastante en su contra) pero desde luego siempre he pensado que Chicago, mi ciudad natal, tiene muchísimo que ofrecer a cualquiera que la visite. Ahora parece que no soy el único que piensa así…

A través de un boricua viviendo en canarias, aprendí que Chicago encabeza una lista de ciudades donde los hombres prefieren vivir y hace poco, unos amigos nuestros que fueron a EE.UU. en semana santa pasaron unos días en Chicago y les sorprendió, que no esperaban que fuera tan grande, bonita, e interesante (¡cómo me gusta que alaben Chicago!). Si están planificando un viaje a EE.UU., pasen unos días en “Chi-town”. No se arrepentirán.

We’ve been watching a lot of Teletubbies lately. I’m fascinated by the set and how they manage to almost always get direct sunlight right smack dab in the middle of England. So, I decided to do a little research and find out where Teletubbies is filmed.

  1. Google Earth .kmz file claiming to pinpoint the location of the outdoor studio
  2. Google maps link to same location above

What I find rather fascinating is that in the first link (viewing via Google Earth), it seems the area in question is only available at a lower resolution, so much lower that you can’t really make out whether it really is the filming location or not.

The second link shows the same area at a much higher resolution, but the details definitely aren’t the Teletubbies set.

If they really stopped filming Teletubbies in 2001, why is the Google Earth data so old? Also, did the producers really submit a request to minimize resolution on the studio and if so, for what possible reason?

The Family

We’ve been in the U.S. for nearly a month now catching up with family and putting some time in at the office. Long trips such as this are usually emotionally charged due to the extended exposure to family and friends, and this trip has been no exception, but I’m writing these few words just to remind myself (and hopefully the reader) that such trips are always worth the effort as evidenced by my son’s first birthday family picture.

The title of this post is in reference to my impression of the U.S. every time I return: you are lost without a car, especially if you have children. I may regret leaving the U.S. from time to time (and usually for very superficial reasons) but one thing I don’t miss is the utter dependence on automobiles and how far everything is. My family must think I’m nuts but after nearly 5 years of walking nearly everywhere for daily needs (food, clothes, bank, government offices, etc.) my tolerance for driving half an hour to buy some milk or fresh vegetables is nearly zero.

If there is one wish I could have come true for the U.S. in 2009 it would be for more, and better, public transportation, especially in places like Phoenix, AZ.

Mystery Mary

I found this image on the internet, while reading up on some song lyrics. While many people world-wide try to isolate their cultures from external influences in an attempt to “protect their futures” images such as this show how difficult that is (and suggest how futile it is as well). Diversity, just as in financial portfolios as in society, is what makes us stronger, not weaker.

How many cultures do you see represented in this image?

Obama “is the incarnation of the American dream,” the French black leader Lozes said. “Here, we will ask the question: ‘Where is the French dream?'”
(Yahoo! News story)

This is a quote from a short, but interesting article asking when Europe will have its own Barack Obama (a non-caucasian – or immigrant – holding a high position in government), but what stood out the most for me was the last line of this quote. Do europeans have a dream and if so, what is it?

I’ve always aspired to my own personal version of the American Dream. It’s been a driving force throughout my life and it has had less to do with America (the political territory) than it does with a simple idea: I am ultimately responsible for my own well-being, for my destiny, and it is entirely up to me what I make of my life. Anything is possible if I so will it.

I don’t think I would be too far off the mark to say that the Dream is what binds most Americans, more so than any other artifice (and there are many: the flag, the statue of liberty, etc.). In fact, i would say that the Dream isn’t even an artifice, but a reality: it’s what brings thousands and thousands of people to the U.S. every year, and it is, in my opinion, why Barack Hussein Obama will win the presidential election on Tuesday: people see in him the realization of their own dream.

So here I am in the Canary Islands, carrying my dream with me. In 2009 I will have been here 5 years. I’ve learned a lot about life here, and about the people, but clearly their Dream is different from my own and that difference has been the source of more than one misunderstanding since I arrived.

So, in closing, I ask: what is the European Dream? What do europeans aspire to? Or more to the point, what do my fellow Canary Islanders aspire to?

I had the distinct privilege of voting by mail for the November 4 general election and I’m glad to say it was a fairly painless process. I was even able to register to vote by e-mail (although I had to mail in my registration form via snail mail, the e-mail was sufficient for sending me a ballot).

City of Chicago Vote Receipt

On election day, Sterch’s in Chicago would give you a free beer if you showed up and presented your voting receipt. I got mine with my ballot. I wonder if they’ll email me a beer?

Voting in Chicago, well, politics in general, has always been turbulent, sometimes corrupt, and full of theatrics. Here are some links to some of the more memorable political events in recent history:

Barak Hussein Obama considers himself to be from Chicago (although he was born in Hawaii). Let’s hope that if he is elected president, we don’t see the kind of racial politics (Council Wars) that I lived through in the mid 80s in Chicago.

Here’s to a clean and fair election. May the best candidate win!

Currently, residents of the Canary Islands receive significant discounts for travel between islands and the mainland (Spain), but ONLY if they are members of the European Union (have a passport form an EU country). This means that in my case, every time I want to travel with my wife and child, they both get the discount but I have to pay the full fare, and to complicate matters, most web-based flight reservation systems don’t account for this possibility so we always run the risk of not being able to fly together.

According to an article in today’s Canarias7, the Spanish government has recognized this might be a problem for some of us and appears to be on their way to approving the discount for non-EU members. Hooray!!!

Travel Discounts for Non-EU Residents of the Canary Islands

Where do I begin???

I’ve never been a big fan of Eurovision, but I do find it somewhat fascinating from a socio-cultural perspective. A couple years ago, a goth band named Lordi wearing elaborate costumes shocked Europe by winning Eurovision and possibly signaling an end to the festival (after nearly 50 years).

Well… this year Spain decided to try to build support for Eurovision. The singer/song selection process was named “Salvemos Eurovision” (Save Eurovision) in an attempt to build interest and get back to the roots of the type of music Eurovision is known for (ABBA won Eurovision in 1974). The Salvemos organizers decided to let the Spanish population decide who should represent Spain in this year’s edition and set up a myspace.com page where users could vote for their favorite act. A few minutes ago, in the grand finale televised on Spain’s national television channel, La Primera, we learned that the whole campaign may have backfired, and that Spaniards, in general, have a really great sense of humor!

The winner this year, as selected by the public, is a parody of a Reggaeton rapper. The character’s name is Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, a character created by some well-known comics here in Spain. His triumph left us speechless, mostly because we couldn’t stop laughing. This was supposed to be a joke, for Christ’s sake, but here he is, Chikilicuatre, representing Spain in one of Europe’s most, er, prestigious? contests. If the win by Lordi a couple years ago is any indication of the changing musical tastes, and attitudes, of Europeans, then Chikilicuatre may actually have a chance at winning and put a definitive nail in the coffin of syrupy euro-disco that we’ve all come to know and, er, love?

Stay tuned to the Eurovision home page to see how Chikilicuatre fares…