April 18, 2015

Spanish Bull Fight

This past Sunday, I went to a bull fight.  Seeing as how that tail is fairly graphic and somewhat disturbing, I’ll start with lunch on Sunday to give you a chance to decide if you want to read my description.  Eight of us met at Alhambra (a restaurant near the center of Madrid) for lunch.  The food was delicious as always.  We had a really difficult time leaving because every time we tried to leave, they would bring us free food and another pitcher of free sangria.  Eventually we had to turn them down and hop on the metro to go to the bull fight.  If you are not interested in reading about the events that transpire in a bull fight, simply skip the next paragraph and continue reading in paragraph three.

20150412_194042I can’t really say that I enjoyed the bull fight, but it was a valuable cultural experience which I do not regret.  The basic progression of a bull fight is as follows.  The toreros (about six of them) attempt to trick the bull with their flags.  When the bull inevitably gets dizzy and trips over its own feet, people cheer.  After the crowd gets bored of this, two different toreros stab the bull with short decorated spears.  These stay stuck in the bull.  Then, someone on an armored horse stabs the bull continuously with a longer spear.  The horse is normally lifted up off the ground by the bull.  The horses are blinded so they can’t see a thing.  Once the bull is worn down by all this, the matador, or main torero actually kills the bull.  He does this by stabbing it with a sword.  This normally doesn’t actually kill the bull though.  The matador has to stab the bull multiple times, working down the spinal cord until the bull finally drops dead.  One matador decided only to use the sword once, and then proceeded to work down the bull’s spinal cord with a dagger until the bull dropped limp on the ground.  With every arrow stabbing and thrust of a sword, the crowd goes wild.  It’s almost sickening how excited they get.  Once the bull is dead, three horses come out to drag the dead bull out around the field and out of the stadium.  Once the bull is out, workers scramble to clean up all the blood-drenched sand before the next match (there were six; I stayed for only three of them).

In most ways this past week has been fairly typical.  I had a Thermodynamics exam on Wednesday about which I am fairly confident (fingers crossed), and on Thursday, instead of having our normal Dynamics class, we had a special speaker.  He talked to us about an obscure field of engineering called nano photonics.  The basic idea is that we can manipulate and redirect light any way we want.  Applications involve everything from computer RAM to invisibility.  I found the 20150412_193731invisibility applications particularly interesting.  Light (not just visible light, but all wavelengths including radar) can simply be redirected around an object.  So, if an airplane coated in this material were sitting on a runway in broad daylight, you would not be able to see it and there would be no shadow behind it.  The only caveat since all light is redirected around the object, nothing inside would be able to see their surroundings (with visible light, radar, or sonar).

This morning, I left my house around 5:30 to head to the airport.  I flew to Munich, Germany and then took a train from there to Salzburg.  Tomorrow I will see all the filming locations here from the Sound of Music along with the birthplace and residence of Mozart.  I’ve always liked the Sound of Music – especially the sound track.  In fact, in my senior year of high school, I actually played the part of Rolf in the musical.

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