Spanish House

Back in Denver - Spanish Classes and Drupalooop

So...we're back in Denver. Of course, our house is rented out to some Democrats until September (they're throwing a party you may have heard about) so we're not 100% "back home" but it sure feels close to that.

Knaddison Spanish Tour

We were gone for a little while. 9 months. Where were we? See, we went to Spain and then Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Denver, California, Denver. We even wrote a ton about our trip if you like to read about those places. But, now we're back in Denver and are excited to be home. In fact, a large part of the trip was learning about the Spanish Language and Culture. We did really fun stuff like take this video of winemaking in Argentina and then cut it together into this movie:

Spanish School - Denver Spanish House

What do you do with your insomnia? Me? I Made a Pro-Immigration T-Shirt

The last elections went pretty poorly for Coloradoans who believe in the freedom to migrate. Being as I'm one of those people, I've had this idea kicking around to make a t-shirt that explains a little about the history of immigration and the "Mother of Exiles": the Statue of Liberty. Last night I couldn't sleep very well. So, I finally got down to business and made the shirt.

Inspiration: Your tired, Your poor

In Emma Lazarus famous poem The New Colossus she describes her personal interpretation of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus' brief poem captures many of the concepts and ideals that people have for America as a land of opportunity, a shining city on the hill where poor exiles from around the world can seek freedom:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

What great sentiments!

So, I decided to try to pay homage to Lazarus and to try to spread the message of the entire poem. I will shortly be a walking billboard for her message which rings so true and so important for policy in our time.

Get your own shirt

So, go get your own Mother of Exiles shirt.

Wine Taste Test

Last week we had a few friends over for a wine tasting night. The system was simple:

Everyone was instructed to bring two of the same bottle of wine, from a Spanish speaking country, that cost less than $13 (each). When people walked in the door we took off the foil from one of the bottles and stuffed it into a brown paper bag that had a symbol on the outside. The bags were in a box so you couldn't see the symbol of the one you were using.

We had some palette cleansers (pigs in a blanket, cheese, bread, strawberries) and some coffee beans for smelling to clear the old nostrils. We then tasted each wine and had everyone rate them. The results are pretty interesting.

Symbol Average Ranking
Omega 2.58
House 2.38
2 2.25
Jester 3.79
(*) 3.92
1 4.13

So, these are presented in the order that the bottles were presented/rated.

Nikki's sister Bree came later and tried the wines and rated them all, but she drank them in a different order. Guess what...her rankings were almost completely different.

So, what could you conclude from this data? You could say that the wines that came later were really better. My conclusion is that the wines that came later were given an easier time because the testers tastebuds were pretty dead.

So, it's not really worthwhile in my opinion to present the names of the bottles along with the ranking. That, and I've already forgotten which was which.

Necessary Conditions for Happy Employees

A couple things I've noticed in my limited career:

1. Seasonal events

like barbecues, holiday parties, picnics, potlucks, chili cook-offs and the like. Pick a friday of the month, tell everyone to plan ahead, and it will take care of itself. Nobody gets much done Friday afternoon anyway, so it isn't a big productivity loss.

2. Monthly meetings and awards.

One of my favorites on this was the award for the last person to arrive at the monthly meeting from Connexn. The last guy in the room received a trophy made out of a can of really bad beer. People who had done something good got a "GOBOSH (GO Big Or Stay Home). People who had been there for n*years got an anniversary certificate. People like awards. As Napoleon said "give me enough ribbon to cover the tunics of my soldiers and I will conquer the world." And when you give these awards - announce the person's name (learn how to pronounce it before hand), say "thanks", and look people in the eye.

3. Employee Appreciation dinner/breakfast/vacation

Some places spend lots of money on fancy dinners and think that's right - I don't think that makes much marginal difference beyond a hot dog from Mustard's Last Stand. Some places dont' do anything - that clearly won't work either. I like the idea of, first, doing things that help your employees get their work done and that keep them happy (like breakfast burritos on Friday morning once a month) and, second, that reward a common interest like a friend who works in a ski town and whose company flies employess who have worked there for 3+ years to Mexico for a vacation at the end of the year. All the employees take week long vacations in the spring/fall off-season anyway, that's part of the attraction of working in a mountain town. Letting them do it together builds corporate love.

Moral of the Happy Employee Story

These won't guarantee happy employees, but man if you don't do these things that's one sucky company.If these don't exist, start them.

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