"We have more reasons to love each other based on our common humanity than to victimize one another because of any difference."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dark Chocolate & Port Wine

I got back an hour ago from a wonderful evening filled with delicious rich dark chocolate Toblerone fondue, fascinating conversations, and amazingly interesting strangers.

Our host was a 31 year-old German. He works as a computer researcher for Yahoo. He is trying to figure out and write codes for contextualizing query searches. Which means the data search engines based on previous information about you and outside environmental factors can help give more accurate results. Example: If someone searches the word ‘sex’ from a company computer during business hours it is more likely work and information related than if the word ‘sex’ is searched from a personal dial up computer at midnight. He also explained that Google knows things before anyone else in the world based on what people are searching. Google knows about health epidemics before governments and hospitals because they can track the symptoms people search. In addition to being a computer genius he has also completed a double iron man. That is a 5 mile swim, 200 mile bike ride, and a 52 mile run. It took him 36 hours to complete.

On the other side of the table was a Spanish couple. The man, who didn’t speak English was from Pais Vasco, a very interesting 'state' in Spain. Pais Vasco, like Catalunya (where Barcelona is located) also has a legal language other than Spanish which is not rooted in any latin words and extremely difficult to learn. I can more or less understand basic concepts in Catalan because the roots are latin and it sounds like a mix of French and Spanish. To demonstrate how different Eskudi is he turned to me and said, “What part of the United States are you from?” I didn’t understand one word, not even United States. What I found really interesting was when the discussion turned to the politics of the region. A lot of people in Pais Vasco, like Catalunya want independence from Spain. In the schools there they teach, ‘The History of Spain and Pais Vasco’. I followed the conversation, which was fast, complicated, and in Spanish, with complete ease. I felt like I was listening to it in English. I was thrilled not only because I understood so well but also because I was listening to the opinions of the Spaniards about something that I have been studying in my classes and find extremely fascinating.

And to think, I haven't even begun to talk about the chocolate! Ingamar, our host, bought five of the HUGE toblerone bars and seven bottles of high quality port wine, some of which were at least a decade older than me. We dipped bananas, oranges, apples, kiwi, muffins, and pears and also just ate chocolate. It was fantastically delicious!

When I got home Ben calculated how much chocolate I ate in pounds…. Just under half a pound. I guess I’m going running tomorrow...

pictures coming tomorrow! I'm too sleepy to put them up now :)


Ted said...

I just spent an hour or so reviewing your blog and photos! Out-freakin-standing! It would appear that you may not be comming back! What a blast...I'm am very happy for you. Your perspective on life is very refeshing...I am quite jealous. Now call, er ah, skype, your parents and thank them again for affording you the opportunity!
Lots o' California love,
Uncle Ted