Sunday, November 03, 2002

We're moving to Blogger, thereby, as usual, doing the exact opposite of what everyone else is doing. Patrick was right--we can't be a real blog unless we have permalinks. We will be exploring what we can do with Blogger over the next few days and perhaps weeks. We would very much appreciate it if someone with experience with Blogger would volunteer to be our guru and show us how to a) add a hit counter b) add a blogroll c) add comments. Thank you. Meanwhile, our old Homestead site will stay open till the end of this month. We have the anarchic archives saved on disk, and since much of that stuff is by now way out of date, we're not going to bother bringing it over here, which would be a lot of work. Instead, what we're going to do is go through our archives and pick out 25-30 or so of our greatest hits, what we consider our best posts and what we consider worthy of being saved publicly for posterity. We'll copy-and-paste them over here over the next couple of weeks, so y'all (and any new readers who might show up) will be treated to a few old classics (which will be clearly labeled as such). Please send all e-mail here.

We sent an e-mail to Stacy Tabb, who was very nice and helpful and responded within a few hours. (Folks, if you have a few hundred bucks and need a website, this is your person.) However, she quoted us a price that was very reasonable by American standards but which we just can't swing on Spanish salaries. We can't afford to use Stacy's Sekimori, nor do we have the technical knowledge to use anything but Blogger all by ourselves. So that's what we're gonna do.

Let us give you some kind of idea about what our material lifestyles are over here. Remei and I live in a three-bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchen, and full bathroom; it's about 75 square meters, not counting the balcony. It's in a good neighborhood, middle-class / working-class, kind of boho, centrally located. We have a used car, a 1988 Renault Supercinco (yes, it's an updated Renault Le Car). We could afford a newer used car or a bare-bones new one, but this one works just fine for taking us out to the village, which is about all we use it for anyway since Barcelona has generally decent public transportation and awful traffic and worse parking. We have a refrigerator, a washing machine, a 21-inch TV, a VCR, and this here computer with an ADSL connection--that's why we can't justify spending any more money on the computer than we are, since the ADSL line runs forty bucks a month. We are lucky enough to have access to a large house in the country which belongs to my wife Remei and her mother. That more than makes up for the lack of a home theater or a 25-inch computer monitor.

I am an English teacher and translator and Remei is an office worker, so we're just normal, regular folks, earning normal, regular folks' salaries. We won't tell you exactly how much, but you might get some idea from these statistics: United States GDP per capita US$33,900; United Kingdom $21,800; Canada $23,300; Australia $22,200; Ireland $20,300; Singapore $27,800; New Zealand $17,400; Spain $17,300. (Figures 1999 est.; Source, Time Almanac 2002) So here in Spain we're not doing too badly. We're right up there with more famous countries, though we're not super-rich; we're happy with what we've got, if that makes sense. It's not poor but proud; it's more like middle-class and proud, especially since we really do top the States in culture per capita. Not that that makes us either better or worse. Y'all in the States are about twice as rich on average than we are in Spain and you're a good deal richer than the folks in most of the other English-speaking countries. This doesn't make you good people or bad people but you ought to keep it in mind when thinking of non-Americans' purchasing power. (And no, we aren't whining to Stacy for a discount, we hoe our own row, thank you).

Of course, we need to remember that prices in Spain tend to be a good bit lower, especially for locally-produced stuff. If you figure that the American GDP is double the Spanish GDP and the dollar and euro are one-to-one, which they have been for the past several months, with swings of a cent or two one way or the other, mostly against the euro, then you can figure out what life costs here if you multiply our prices by two and then think of how much the equivalent would cost you in America.

Rent, 3-br apt, good area $400 if you're from here and look around; cheapest possible safe room $250
Liter of gasoline $0.85
Second-hand computer, PII $300 (box only)
Good used car, 6-8 yrs old $3000, a lot more is possible, so is less but at your own risk
Large Ikea sofa-bed, new $300
Liter fresh milk $0.90
Liter UHT milk $0.65
Daily newspaper $1
Pack Camel cigarettes $2.15
6-pack San Miguel beer $2.40
Coffee in bar $0.90
100% wool Marks&S sweater $40
Book $5-$20, much more is possible
3 80g cans tuna $0.96
4 150g good yogurts $1.41
Bunch 5 bananas $1.30
2 liter Coke $0.86

Remember, that's what it would cost you if you bought it here. To get an idea of our standard of living, double these prices and then think about them within your current salary.

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