Monday, February 15, 2010

Barcelona V

I've been here in Barcelona for the last week. It is, I think, my fifth trip to a city that I first visited only last year. Also, the title "Barcelona V" kinda fits with some of their metro stops, such as Jaume I and Alfons X.

I discovered Park Guell over the weekend, which is a really good place to visit. Lots of cool structures and art interacting with the native terrain and flora, and much of it looks a lot like home. Indeed, I would go so far as to dub Park Guell the greatest park in southern California.

On the second day there (Sunday), I realized the musicians were playing exactly the same thing as the first day. And, well, why not? They really had it down. Just a few measures, really not even a complete tune, but it seemed to work when you're going for an audience that listens for maybe one minute on average.

Most of the week was devoted to work, a kickoff meeting for the new BrainAble grant. The kickoff meeting included a dinner after the first night, which happened to coincide with my birthday. And all of Barcelona held a carnival, starting on 11 Feb, where lots of people wore masks and danced and sang. I admit I was a bit flattered, that the whole metropolis would start a week-long festival just for me! I mean, a 3 day festival just for me would have been acceptable.

Natives were out in droves at the kickoff meeting dinner. I was given a mask and balloon hat, which helped me convey an auro of professionalism at the dinner meeting:

Mi Mascara!
Actually, it is a new type of noninvasive BCI

A trio of musicians also slunk about, playing a combo of a seemingly homemade drum, a seemingly homemade string instrument, and a seemingly hometaught larynx. We could hear them going to other rooms of the restaurant, playing very badly, and I didn't say anything because I thought maybe it was some Catelan traditional song, and I didn't want to offend anyone. But then the trio came to our room, and I definitely noticed the hosts wincing to some of those high notes. I mean, they were all bad, but the yodelist was truly fingernail-curling. I wince at the memory. That could be a new category of BCI control: remembering the Catelan Carnival Yodelist.

A couple days later, I had to move to a new hotel because the 3GSM conference starting on 14 Feb caused all the hotel prices to increase. So I'm at a hotel near the ariport, and they just had a big parade to celebrate the carnival. I tried to explain that I am leaving soon, and they did not actually have to go through with the whole carnival in my honor, but they didn't listen. So, I just stood there and watched. It was a little like Halloween. Everyone had costumes. Some people distributed candy. And, people threw toilet paper over trees in the middle of the road. So I waited for something more fun, like slutty nurses or kids pooping on porches, but no luck. I will have to speak to the manager about this. Thanks to this project, it looks like I will have to return to BCN on Jan or Feb in each of the next 3 years, so they need to get my carnival right.

No comments: