January 2006 Archives


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I'm slowly catching up on life from my trip. Yesterday, I found one problem as I prepared to go to church - the battery of my car was completely dead. I called a friend and he came and charged me - well, my car battery that is. He helped me again after church. When I got home, I let the car idle for an hour or so to give the alternator time to recharge it and I think it's good now. The bigger problem came in that my car's anti-theft system prevented the radio or clock from working unless I entered in a code, which can be obtained with the radio's serial number. Normally, there is a sticker somewhere in the car (glove compartment, fuse box, etc.) that has the code or S/N on it, but mine did not. I looked all over on Google for a while and that gave me more places to look, but no luck. I found one post that said it would likely charge me $70-$80 at the dealer to get the code back (as they'd have to remove the radio). But I called the dealer and they said it'd be only about $65 (hourly labor rate). While that's still almost criminal, I decided I didn't have a choice. I called again to set an appointment and talked with another guy who said it'd only be around $45 since it would only take about 30 min to remove the radio.I took the car in and they started looking for the sticker and such. Then they started getting some ideas and the guy helping me talked to a number of people and they found out that with my model, they could enter a sequence of numbers into the radio and have the S/N # displayed on the screen. They did that, got me the code, and didn't charge me a cent. Yes, that's right - I went to the Honda dealership; they helped me, and didn't charge a cent. That's nothing short of a miracle.

A month

That's how long I've been on the road, as of tomorrow, when I'm finally coming home. I left the morning of Dec. 29 and will get back the evening of Jan. 28. I haven't even been in the U.S. once this entire year. How's that sound? I didn't find out until last night that I would be coming home either, but I'm kind of relieved. I'm ready for some American food, some Mexican food and some quick food. I've been in France the last 3+ weeks and some of the food is good (I disagree completely with some of the foods like tartare - raw ground beef w/ other junk), but what bothers me the most is there doesn't seem to be the idea of a quick meal. Even a 1-man short meal seems to take a minimum of about 90 minutes and that kills me. They do have a McDonalds and another fast-food chain called Quick, but I don't really care much for those places. Anyway, it'll be good to be back for a bit. I don't know how long that will last - maybe a week, maybe three, but I've spent more than 6 of the last 8 1/2 weeks out of the country and I'm happy to take a breather and see if I remember how to ride a bike still.

Barcelona II


I have more time now, so I'll add to my last post.

  • Again, as in much of Europe, people walk a lot, whether it be walking the frequently visible dog or going to the store or whatever. Like other countries, there are lots of little stores at the bottom of the housing on every street (and there are a lot of streets). Together with consumption of much less fast food (it's just not very available, plus a Big Mac is like 5€). I think this leads to much better health.
  • Children. As opposed to what I observed in France, there are little kids all over in Spain, being walked or pushed by parents. I thought it was nice.
  • Respect of family/elders. Besides the children, I saw quite a few elderly folks out walking and what hit me most was that many of them were arm in arm with a younger person (like one of their children). I thought that was nice.

  • Like in all of Europe, everyone smokes, but...
    • I read that Spain actually smokes more than anyone else, at least in Europe and maybe in the world (I don't quite remember). That was in the NY Times. Also, yesterday a new controversial law went into effect that says smoking is no longer alowed in certain sized public places like taverns and such. The limit is something like 100 square meters. The majority voted for the law, but I've heard lots of grumbling and seen quite a few signs advertising that smoking is permitted in a particular location.

  • Sirens. Holy cow. At least where I'm staying, it seems like the police stay pretty active and they turn their sirens to the loudest level when it's nighttime. In New York, they would just use flashing lights unless a siren was needed in order to cut down on the noise. That's definitely something they should take into account here.
  • My hotel room. The thing is tiny. The bed is quite hard and quite short. There's very little pressure in the water coming out of the shower, and hot water takes like 5 minutes. That said, the girls at the front desk are very helpful, freindly and cute, if I may say so.


¡Bon día! That's not quite Spanish nor French -- it's Catalán, which happens to be the language of choice here in Barcelona. Fortunately for me, the natives also speak Spanish, and I can understand enough Italian to get by with some of the other visitors (many from Italy). I think one of the hardest things is trying to type on this Spanish keyboard. It's different. Anyway, I like Spain and I was going to make some comments like I did with France and Germany, but again, I've mostly forgotten what I was going to say. Suffice it to say that I like it over here and if you have questions, feel free to ask.Hasta luego.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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