Archive for the 'lifestyle' Category

Atheism is open now

The new Atheism site on StackExchange is open to the public now.

Mind you, it’s not only for atheists. If you are curious, have questions or just want to lurk and see what others are saying, feel free to drop by anytime.


Atheism in beta

The Atheism Q&A site at StackExchange is now in private beta. It will open to the public on 21 December. Drop by, make a question and share your thoughts!


I always knew that one of the best ways to increase success was to lower expectations.

Yes. I am being cynical. This is what the guys at Despair, Inc. excel at. Their range of Demotivators® is absolutely awesome. A warning before you go: you really need to love corrosive humour to enjoy Despair.


I’m on Facebook

I hardly believe my own words, but I’m on Facebook. A few weeks ago an old friend who I hadn’t seen for ages sent me an email inviting me to join Facebook, and I did. Since then, a few friends, old and new, have “found” me there, and I have found some too.

Time waste? Addictive? Alluring?

Rufus the dog and Elvira the cat

Isabel and I are just back after eight days in the Cider Valley, Asturias. Wonderful area. So close to our own Galicia and so much better preserved. Oh well.

There we rented a small cosy cottage with wooden roof and creaky floors in the middle of a 12,000 sq.m. private apple orchard. So peaceful and quiet. I would wake up before her, tiptoe out of bed, avoid the creaky floorboards, bump my head against the inevitable roof beam, and go down into the porch to listen to the morning birds until Isabel called from bed and gorgeous breakfast followed. All peace and rest.

Until Rufus made his appearance.



Rufus was the stupidest dog I’ve ever met. He would just turn up at our place, bark at us like crazy for a few minutes, and then run away, still grumbling and barking, to disappear amongst the bushes at the edge of the property. Maybe it was the neighbour’s dog. After our first encounter, Isabel said he reminded her of somebody she had met some time ago and named him Rufus after this person, because he would be grumpy and loud and just friggin’ stressed out. I must point out that Isabel is extremely good with dogs. Every time we go some place where there are dogs she ends up being their best pal. Dogs just love her. But Rufus wouldn’t. She cooed and wooed but Rufus wouldn’t stop barking. The second time Rufus made a stellar appearance Isabel even tried to bribe him with a lamb chop. A lamb chop, yeah, I know! Freshly barbecued and all. But Rufus wouldn’t bulge. Such a silly dog. I would have let her nibble my ears for a lamb chop.

So we dubbed him “the dog that cannot be bribed”.

A few days passed and one night we were cuddling by the porch, listening to the night birds (do you know what a scops-owl is?) when we heard a soft, lilting cry round the corner of the house. After a few seconds a pair of elegant yellow eyes revealed themselves, and a fluffy black head outlined against the darkness of the night. She was the blackest, cutest and hottest cat that I have ever seen. She was shy at first, but after a few biscuits and my unquestionable talent with felines, she was ours. She would rub and rub and rub against my arm and leg. Not so much against Isabel’s, maybe because she’s not that much of a cat person as I am, maybe because she smelled of Rufus, or maybe just because the gorgeous she-cat could feel my male pheromones. 😉 Isabel named her Elvira, a Visigothic name, since we had been visiting some Visigothic monuments that day. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any pics of Elvira, so you’ll have to trust me on this one.

It was late and Isabel and I went to bed. Elvira stayed out of the house, meowing loudly.

Next day, or the day after, I can’t remember, Rufus showed up again. Strangely enough, he wasn’t barking. Isabel run into the kitchen and got hold of some food scraps from lunch. Quick as a fox (even quicker), she poised a juicy lamb chop in front of Rufus’ unkempt snout and, to our surprise, he deftly grabbed it and retreated a few metres to eat it.

Rufus being bribed

Rufus being bribed

The dog that could not be bribed had been bribed!

But we work in summer

More on the August paralysis. El País, today, full-page ad. An oncological hospital in Madrid advertises its services using the tagline:

We work at normal pace in summer

This is not a small note at the bottom of the page. Rather, this sentence is in large type, at the top of the page, acting as what we could call a marketing differentiator, i.e. a fact or property that makes this product (the hospital) unique from its competitors and hopefully attractive to the potential clients.

Isn’t this sad? This is not a video shop, for Pete’s sake. It’s an oncological hospital! And they use a full-page on the Sunday El País (imagine the cost!) to make the proud statement that they work at normal pace in summer.

This country just sucks.

August paralysis

In Spain we suffer from August paralysis. Since almost everybody takes their annual leave as a block in August, public services, businesses and stores are at half capacity if not less. The result is paralysis. No services, poor attention, closed shops.

Most businesses and government agencies go as far as encouraging as many of their employees as possible to take all their annual leave in August, with total disregard for those customers who may want to be served during that month.

A few days ago we wanted to do some refurbishment at my new work place. The answer from our regular provider was “the person in charge is on leave and won’t be back for 20 days”. Yes, we could move to a different provider, but (a) it is a pain and (b) most would be in a similar situation. Last week I phoned a local government agency to inquire about the parking zone system; the guy whose echo resounded in the empty room across the phone wasn’t able to answer my questions because “the woman in charge of that is on vacation”, and she won’t be back for three weeks! Try getting a plumber in August. Ha!

Wouldn’t it be better, maybe, to scatter annual leave time over the year, and have people take turns so there’s always somebody at work who can deal with customers calling?

What do you think? Is it me, or is this just a stupid way of doing things?

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