Media, Marketing & Me series

Click on the Amazon link to the right to see detail and order : Middle Schoolers, Meet Media Literacy How Teachers Can Bring Economics, Media, and Marketing to Life 

My book is ready for order direct from Amazon, so PLEASE, everyone who said “sure, I’ll buy a copy,” I’m asking you to do so.

– If you are a former student whom I made laugh (at my attempts to be cool), cry (when I gave back your papers with more red on it than the field after Waterloo), or think (that there should be more screening before someone is allowed to teach), please order one.

– If you are a former colleague for whom I saved you time when you asked me for evidence to back up my opinion and I suddenly remembered a “meeting” I had to go to, please order one.

– If you are a former schoolmate or friend and I was your wingman at a social gathering, compelling the person you were hitting on to look at me and think about you “What the heck? There’s clearly a lot worse out there,” please order a book.

– If you ever read one of my newspaper columns and thought “This reminds me, I need to reline the birdcage,” please order one.

– If you were that one creepy guy who looked at my wife and then assured me that you, too, had “yellow fever,” I apologize for telling you her Thai name was “Fuk-Yu,” and…, nah, I still don’t care what you do for the rest of your life.

They make great wedding & Bar Mitzvah gifts, so order one NOW!


Puente (Bridge day)

Today, Friday, November 2, is called a puente or “bridge day” in Spain. Basically, if you have a holiday (like All Saints Day) fall on a Thursday, many people take the Friday off, bridging into the weekend (the same goes for taking Monday off if a holiday falls on a Tuesday).

Yeah, I know, Americans produce more, make more money, have bigger houses, cars, etc.

And Spain is predicted to pass Japan as having the longest average life span by 2040.

TGIF, America. We’ll say Gracias a dios por los puentes.


For centuries, Granada was the point of convergence where North African Islamic and European Catholic cultures met. Unfortunately, too long was that convergence a front line of conflict. Everywhere you walk, there is some vestige or reminder of that contention, but often such ghosts of the past come in one of two forms. One kind … Read moreMudéjar


When Granadans answer the phone, they generally do not say “Hola,” but rather say “Dígame,” which means “Tell me” or “Talk to me.”

Many consider that just another aspect of the infamous Granadan “get to the point” attitude of conversation, but more and more I want to invoke it to tap into the rich background I am discovering here.

Living as an expat, we are part of two communities. One is the organic community of Granada itself, for which we are taking Spanish and trying to learn the cultural norms that have shaped this city for over a millennium.

The other community is somewhat inorganic, or at least composed of disperse, non-native parts: the expat community itself.

We come together periodically, often over tapas and drinks. The common language is generally English, but a conversation, even one sentence, can roll into Spanish, then French, then Arabic, even Thai, without missing a beat.

We bond over our commonalities, we compare notes on struggles in acclimating, and generally support each other. But I also revel in hearing each person’s background story as to how they came to be sitting here, at the same place and time, by some great cosmic coincidence.

After spending a life-time talking, I love just saying “Please tell me your story.”

So far, some of those stories include:

– A British teacher from Cornwall, who, aside from bonding with my wife over Aidan Turner’s shirtless scenes in Poldark, came here to teach.

– A Frenchman who traveled the world in the military and now repairs motorcycles and scooters (and who promises to teach me “the joy of badminton”).

– An Armenian who used photography as a means out and now leads photography expeditions for people around Africa, claiming that he has been chased by nearly every deadly animal on that continent.

– A Syrian refugee to France who wants to become an actor but says, despite his accent-less French, he cannot get any roles other than “sinister Middle Easterner” (He hears America is more open-minded about casting; I told him about Hamilton).

– A young couple who have backpacked all over Southeast Asia and now have turned their passion into a blog and business arranging bottom cost trips for fellow backpackers.

Many more stories are out there (Jiab is pending lunch with a Thai woman who was a Qatar Airways flight attendant, and we await the novel a former New Mexican Spanish teacher is writing here). There are just so many experiences, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to hear each of them.

This world, with a collective soul composed of over seven billion parts, has so many stories to offer, like a living library. All we have to do is get out of our usual circle of noise, shut up and prepare to listen, and then say the magic word to someone, Dígame.




Cabreado (ca-bre-a-do)

At some point, the move, the sleep adjustment, the “Not quite what I meant but I don’t know how to say it,” all catches up with you. It’s like when my son, Ben, was a toddler and I could tell he was overwhelmed and would not be happy until we met his seeming demand that everything in the world be shifted two inches to the left.

For Jiab and me, it hit one Friday morning. We went to register at a municipal office but found we were missing a document and had to come back. It was a humid day, with storms threatening to roll off the mountain by mid-day, so the persuasive pressure to get things done was reinforced by a growing thickness in the air that made clothes stick to the skin.

Worst of all, we were looking in frustration for netting at every ferretería (hardware store) we could find. Our kitten loves the terrace, but being five floors up, we wanted a little netting to keep her off the ledge. Despite trudging to five or six stores, no one had what we wanted. I was irritated in that, though I knew the word for netting (la malla), and could play it on my phone to hear it, no clerk at any store could understand when I said it, so I had to re-explain it each time. Jiab, for her part, kept insisting she remembered one store we visited days ago that had it (I don’t remember it, but she’s usually right).  Then, in the midst of my flailing my arms trying to pantomime “netting” once again, my elbow caught Jiab on the chin and gave her a whack.

We were, as a local friend put it, cabreado:  tired, fed-up, ill, and just plain pissy.

We rode the bus back to the apartment in silent defeat, the distant thunder seeming to vocalize our spirits. We stopped at a local place for lunch around 1:00, only to be told they did not start serving lunch (early bird) till 1:30! We went home tired, unfed, and unfulfilled.

Fortunately, Spain has a wonderful cure for such days, and it really hearkens back to what every parent learned was the best solution with cranky toddlers: siesta.

Most everybody in Spain stops and takes an afternoon break. Americans can show stats how much more productive we are, our higher GDP, even our higher incomes and the more stuff we have in our homes. The Spanish response is simple, Buena suerte con eso, Good luck with that.

We napped, refreshed, and Jiab suggested we start the day again. La malla? Mañana!

The measure of a good place is not that it is irritation-free, but that there is a path by which to move away from the irritation. The same is true for a good marriage.