beyond the 49th
usa (un)patriot act
who am i?
Tue 22 Nov 2005
right, so i signed off my last post with a little ire toward the mobile phone companies. i still feel the ire, but i've got some updates. basically, i've broadened my wrath to include all the major mobile phone companies and not just verizon.
i live in the middle of nowhere, in a beautiful little valley about 60km from the nearest supermarket, next to a wonderful creek where the salmon run in the fall when there's enough rain, at the back end of a field where our cows graze. suffice to say that we don't have the greatest mobile phone service out here, but we were rather satisfied with at&t wireless (the website no longer exists, so it's not linked) before they were engulfed by the behemoth that is cingular. i had an at&t mobile phone about two years ago, when i was working in a factory, and i switched to be able to receive calls while at work. the at&t mobile didn't work in the building i worked in, but all i would have had to do is walk outside. and yeah, i'm kicking myself now because i've been fighting verizon for two full years now, and now my hands are tied.
the new service, global system for mobile communications, is a severely limited service that is essentially the only service offered any more. there are various frequencies that are used, but if you don't have a multi-frequency phone, you're bascially screwed as soon as you leave your home network. at times like these, i almost wish that there were a legal precedent for mobile phone networks. various providers throughout the country use different frequencies, and the coverage maps are woefully sparse. it seems that over 3/4 of the country does not have service. just look at the coverage in some of the most mountainous countries in europe like italy, switzerland, and germany to see what complete coverage they have. maybe we should limit mobile phone companies to individual states instead of having these massive companies with so-called "national" coverage that doesn't provide service to the majority of the country.
let's change the mobile phone service in this country and make it available to more people. i really don't think it would involve adding too many more cell towers because there are cell towers everywhere. all it would take is a little cooperation and some equipment upgrades of existing towers. and for goodness' sake, mobile companies, share the bleeding towers! if a phone works in one area with a cellular one tower, it should work in a different area with a t-mobile tower. is a little cross-compatibility too much to ask?
so, here i am, in the middle of nowhere, stuck with my verizon mobile phone that i really hate that turns itself off periodically when i try to make calls and service that really sucks out here (i can dial out, but nobody can hear me 99.9% of the time), because there are no other local providers that use standard digital/analog phones any more. until the gsm coverage is comparable to the digital/analog coverage, it's my opinion that companies should not phase out their digital/analog service. i don't think it's too much to ask.
in the meantime, i'm still going through everything i brought from spain, and there's one package that hasn't arrived yet. but that's a subject for another post at a later date.
Sun 20 Nov 2005
the flight was long, to say the least. the airport at madrid, barajas was fogged in all morning, so the plane that was supposed to take us to atlanta, hatfield-jackson was diverted to barcelona, el prat de llobregat. we (meaning all the people who were supposed to be on the plane to atlanta with me) all had to sit in the airport in madrid for five more hours. and because it was an international flight, i got there early to check in and make sure everything was in order, which it was. i had no troubles checking my huge suitcase or bringing my carry-on bag though it was a little overweight. all in all, the people at delta airlines were all very nice and helpful in making sure everyone was able to make it to their final destination. the delta guys at hatfield-jackson in atlanta helped immensely by giving me a ride on an electric car to the gate. i had just enough time to get my boarding pass and call my parents to let them know when i'd be arriving before they started boarding the plane. if i would have walked with my heavy backpack after having been awake for nearly twenty-four hours, i wouldn't have made it on time. by the time i landed at the portland, international airport, i'd been either in an airport or on a plane for twenty-five hours. i woke up at 6.00 spain time, and i got home at 13.00 the next day (spain time). it worked out to be a very long day, but i've been recovering well.
so, that was my trip home, and even though i miss the life in madrid and barcelona, i'm glad to be home. i'm having some difficulties getting used to the us keyboard layout again... the letters are all in the same place, but the apostrophe, slash, dash, and other miscellaneous characters are all in different places. my dog was really happy to see me. i imagine he thought that i wasn't coming back for the past two and a half months. of course, my parents were happy to see me, too. and my cat was happy to see me because she'd been ousted by one of the neighbour cats, and she was getting a wee bit thin.
i haven't yet had a chance to go through all the photos i took during my trip to spain, but hopefully in the next week or two i'll at least be able to post some photos. in the meantime, i'm working on a pair of toe-up socks though using a bit of a different pattern than the one linked. i've got to undo what i've got done so far on the heel to try something different because i don't like how it looks. on tuesday, there's a knitting meeting locally that i plan on bringing my socks to in order to get some ideas from the people here.
i'll be looking for work as well, so if you happen to know of anyone who needs an excellent employee, feel free to send them my resume in either english or spanish. i don't currently have a moblie phone, but i may go back to my same old mobile number due to lack of service out here. if anyone is interested, verizon wireless sucks. basically, all wireless providers suck now because they don't provide service. anyone who lives in an area that is only covered by digital or analog signal is now officially s.o.l. the new phones don't even have the ability to understand the digital and analog signals which means that here, in the middle of nowhere, where we only have digital and analog signal we don't have access to the new networks.
the question of the day is for the mobile phone companies: why, if there is such a large portion of the country that is not yet covered by the gsm network, do you no longer offer new service that isn't gsm only? also, what about people who like to travel? do you like having the fact that your bleeding phones no longer work in the majority of the areas outside major cities or major highway corridors on your heads? so, if i have an emergency in an area where my mobile phone doesn't work, do i get to sue my mobile phone company? the phone i had in europe doesn't work here either... here meaning the entire usa. for some reason, now that everyone wants to jump on the gsm bandwagon, they're not using the same frequency as the rest of the world. why, oh why, does the usa insist on doing everything differently than the rest of the world? isn't the meaning of gsm global system for mobile communications?
ok, i need to write a rant about mobile phone companies, i think. in the meantime, i'm going to be working on organizing my photos from spain and making an enormous scrapbook. i'll post pictures as i deem necessary.
Mon 14 Nov 2005
on my way home...
this is the last post i'll make from spain. i had actually worked for about half an hour on writing up a detailed post but the computer froze up and i lost everything. i only have a few minutes left in the locutorio, so this is going to be a short post.
i had a good trip from barcelona to madrid on the train even though it's rather uncomfortable to sleep sitting up. i did get a little bit of sleep, for which i'm grateful.
when i got here my room was ready, so i slept a few more hours in an actual bed at the hostel before coming out to brave the rain. it's not raining too hard, but it's intermittent and almost cold. it's starting to feel like autumn!
i'm going to miss this country. thankfully i have over 1200 pictures to remember it by, and i plan on spending my free time (read: the time i'm not looking for work) to catalogue them all and put them on this site.
since i'm going to be looking for work, if you happen to be an employer who needs someone with lots of experience in various fields, check out my resume and contact me via email. since i'm in transit now, i'm going to be without a functioning telephone for a few days at least.
my plane leaves here on wednesday morning (local time) and i arrive on wednesday night (local time with 9 hours difference), so think happy travel thoughts for me. my next post will be from the usa.
Fri 11 Nov 2005
wrapping it up
i only have a few days left, and i'm having a hard time saying goodbye to everyone i've met here. catalunya is a great place, and i have plans to come back as soon as i get a chance. yesterday was my last day with my unlimited bus pass, so today i've been walking around the neighbourhood of sant adria de besos where i've been staying for more than a month. i took some pictures of buildings in the area; these pictures will eventually be available in the photo album section of this site.
in the meantime, i've visited another iberian (read: pre-roman) settlement that was amazing. the plain on the inland side of tibidabo was a very important zone in pre- and post-roman history of the iberian peninsula. the town of cerdanyola del valles is one of the places surrounded by pre-roman settlements. on the mountaintop near cerdanyola called turo de ca n'oliver, there's an amazing archeological site, and there are pictures on the page linked--it's all in catalan, but the pictures are self explanatory. i'll also have pictures here eventually. there is a whole series of sites that have been excavated and preserved that are available to be visited by the public, and if i had rented a car, i would have visited many more of these sites.
as it is, i'm trying to see what i can without spending much more money. the exchange rate from dollars to euros isn't that great. when i get back to the states next week (next week???) i'll be looking for a job that will pay me enough to be able to afford another trip to catalunya in the not-too-distant future. there is so much more here that i've not had a chance to see, and there's another language to learn! in the month and a week i've been here, i've learned a little catalan, but i still need to learn more and what better way to learn that to stay here? in the meantime, i'm going home with my figurative tail between my legs to look for work and continue my studies on my own.
Sun 06 Nov 2005
and the whirlwind tour continues...
my time in barcelona is wrapping up, so i'm trying to get to all the places i've missed so far, but there's far too much! i've actually been exploring the area to the east and north of barcelona along the coast, and i've found some really neat places!
you'd have to look at a pretty specific map to see the towns i've visited, but there's a town next to barcelona on the coast called badalona where i've been wandering for the last few days. i visited a pre-roman iberian ruin called turó d'en boscą that's just a small hike up a dirt path from the road to the hospital can ruti. there's a bus stop a small distance from the entrance to the path, and the path runs winding up a fairly steep hill, but the view from the top is certainly worth the hike.
there's also a really amazing museum in badalona. the entry is free (always a good price) and the basement area is all an excavated roman house. there are mosaic tile floors, the famous "fall of rome" lead pipes, stone millstones and drop spindles, bone needles, and clay pots for carrying water and storage. it's definitely worth the stop!
on the beach in badalona right next to the train station i found the perfect photo. there were small multicoloured fishing boats pulled up on the beach with the curve of the coastline in the background, blue blue mediterranean water, and fishermen arranging their nets. it was like looking at a famous painting, but it was real. i walked on the beach and picked up some small rocks, shells, and bits of sand-worn glass. the beach is really steep, and you can see about two metres from the shore where the ground drops off under the water. there's not much surf along this section of the coast, but further down the coast in barcelona there is a beach that lends itself better to surfers. the sand is really coarse, almost like pebbles, and if your feet aren't ready for it it's a bit of a surprise.
i have only a few more days here in barcelona before i take the train back to madrid and catch a plane home, and i'm not looking forward to the long flight. yesterday evening i went through a large stack of stuff i've gathered for a scrapbook and found that it's not as much as i thought it would be. my plan is to put everything i brought with me in a suitcase and check it but to carry on all the stuff i gathered while here in order to avoid possible lost luggage and memories. i've never lost a bag with an airline, but i don't want this time to be the first. in the meantime, there's one more knitting group meeting this week, and i'm now working on a different sock. maybe i'll post a picture of my socks here when i finish them, but for the time being, you'll just have to take my word for it.
there are a few things i miss here: fiber nooks & crannys where i buy all my yarn, opal sock yarn, one litre bottles of soda, my dog, my mom, and my dad (but the only picture i have uploaded of him is from 1969, so it's a bit outdated!). of course, i don't miss those things in that order, but you get the idea.
i love spain. the history of spain is the history of the western world from the gauls to the romans to the moors to the conquest of the american continent. the people are wonderful (for the most part, of course), and there's a little bit of everything from the high desert of castilla to the mediterranean coast in the south to the cantabrian coast in the north and the pyrenees mountains that make the iberian peninsula such a unique cultural region of europe.
and on that note, i think it's time to sign out for the day. i hope to post a couple more times before i leave, and maybe i'll even have a photo to show.
quote of the moment:
Once, said the Mock Turtle at last, with a deep sigh, I was a real turtle.
-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
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