Friday, March 30, 2007

the things people say

¡hola guapa! --- that is what people might say to you when you´re in spain. like many things, it´s not said gratuitously. well, to phrase it differently: it´s said less often than expletives. and contrary to what an outsider (i.e someone outside of spain) might think, this is not some form of common garden variety harassment either. friends might say it to one another when meeting up on the street, for instance. but i remember the first time someone had said it to me. i had moved to a new flat, and new neighbourhood. and lived in an apartment complex where there were four blocks overlooking the same small plaza. one morning as i exited my apartment block this little old lady of maybe 80-something hollered to me, at a volume which seemed entirely disproportionate to her physical size and frail appearance: "¡hola guapa!" (hello beautiful)
i smiled, and blushed, and said meekly "buenos días señora". that was the first time, but it also wasn´t the last. also, you will find that others who are sufficiently familiar with you, might also start to use this epithet. but, no. familiarity is not the thing. since you might be in a bar or cafeteria and the person serving might say "guapa, dime qué te ponga" or some such. from time to time friends write and start their mails in that way. and though i might resort to using this kind of salutation once in a while, it never feels right for me when doing so.

well, the reason i mention this is that today here in oxf, much to my surprise, this kind of thing happened. i had gone to a store to have some passport photos taken, and upon my return to collect the pics some 15 minutes later, as i entered the store the assistant (who was not british) said "hello beautiful." despite my experiences of this in spain, i was still rather surprised at this greeting here. but then i went to buy coffee at my usual place and there the guy was also on about "how beautiful you are". i told him he was just trying to ensure that i would buy my coffee from him for the duration of my dphil, while i chuckled and stood there feeling like that awkward teenager whose relative has just arrived at the annual family reunion, and he/she is pinching your cheeks as if you were still that toddler of years gone by...
speaking of "aye". there are few things as amusing as overhearing the average spanish-speaking toddler say "aye". they sound so world-weary that it sounds rather absurd. when you hear it you stop in your tracks and can´t help but laugh since even the old folks don´t say it in the same way. really peculiar.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

musical /lyrical interlude

the blog title reminds me of something which i wonder, whether it is cultural for here: eating ice-cream during the intermission at the theatre. i´d not seen that in SA. twice i´ve been to the ballet. today to the ballet in oxford, and last week at the royal opera house, also to see the ballet. today it was "cyrano" (de bergerac), last week it was "onegin" at covent garden. thát was a dream-come-true. more so because i´d thought that ballet was something i´d left behind in my childhood. so, thanks to the collective endeavour of friends, i´d went last week and saw that this didn´t have to be the case.

i like following pop culture. one of the peculiar things about being in the UK is that it feels distinctly different reading the MOJO or Q magazine when in the UK than when in SA. Maybe it is that one feels close-enough-to-touch. or that i feel i could travel rather quickly to places where the artists or bands are/were from... i do miss reading the Spanish version of Rolling Stone magazine though, and it is difficult to get a copy of outside of Spain. i´ve never been a great fan of the US Rolling Stone, though for a time i did read it when in SA. anyhow. Jennifer Lopez (don´t the press in Spain just love her) has her first spanish-lyrics album out. and i like the following song:

Lyrics found at

Artista: Jennifer Lopez
Álbum: Como Ama Una Mujer
Título: Te Voy A Querer

Aunque todo lo que ves se terminara
Aunque ya nunca volviera a amanecer
Si de pronto en el silencio me encontrara
Yo me iria tras de ti lo sabes bien
Y si fueras tu mi ultima esperanza
Tras tu huella mi camino buscare

Creo en eso que el amor te lleva al cielo
De pedirme en el naufragio, salvame
Creo en eso de esperar el dia nuevo
Que lo nuestro es para siempre ya lo se
Y que importa si el destino se indignara
O si alguien dijera que este amor no puede ser
Ay yo...

Si tu voz no la escuchara entre mis suenos
Y tus ojos no me guiaran para ver
Volveria de otra vida por tu encuentro
Volveria para verte creeme [x2]

Ya las dudas y los miedos se me fueron
Ya no tengo mas secretos que esconder
Y a partir de este momento yo decreto
que no hay nadie que me pueda detener
No voy a pensar en que vendra manana
Quiero despertar contigo cada amanecer

[Repetir Coro]

Las penas pasadas ahora son historia
El umbral de las traiciones ya cruze
Siento que tu amor me llevara a la gloria
Estoy lista pa' quererte ya lo se

[Repetir Coro]

Te voy a querer aunque se oponga el viento
Y nadie este de acuerdo, te juro que esta ves, ay yo
Te voy a querer sin pedir opinion, sin dar explicaciones
Soy libre pa' escoger, ay yo Te voy a querer

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

what an IR shouldn´t be...

i can hardly believe that i last blogged 24 feb. i´ve been to madrid, and back, and now the term has even ended here at the uni.

but be that as it may, here i am on my soapbox, to say: an institutional repository (IR) should NOT be a glorified (or even a less-than-glorified) bibliographic/abstract index! c´mon, thát´s why library catalogues went online to start with. to my mind, when i hop along to any one of the e-prints- or dspace-based collections, i expect, yes EXPECT scholarly works there to be available fulltext, and openly so. this is my understanding of the use of these brands.

my little rant is due to my minutes-ago experience of browsing a collection (more through happenstance), only to find that what was listed in the law collection of the IR were merely mostly abstracts linked to alternative locations (toll-gated journal publication sites) . in effect, where such locations then required access (sign-in / logon). no reasons were given on the IR page for their not simply providing the fulltext in situ (right then and there). such misuses of the IR brands (by brands, i mean "e-prints" and "dspace") should be prevented. i haven´t browsed other collections within the same IR to see if this kind of thing i describe was/is a regular occurrence. nevertheless, the cases that i have seen are enough to provoke my ire.

in sum, universities and research institutes: you shouldn´t get to call your collection an e-prints or dspace collection if all you´re doing is providing a service which is in effect an online catalogue with links to a closed-access collection. for sure, this "catalogue" gives exposure to the authors´ works somehow (via this online abstract) and yet, let´s face it, you can´t pretend that it´s open access. this kind of misuse dilutes the notion of open access and distorts the originally intended uses of the e-prints and dspace softwares.

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