Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sizzling hot hell.

Well it's official. I'm going to hell.


Because I think human-made climate change is a fact.

See, "The Bible says that God is in control of weather, climate, epochs and ages of man." So obviously any talk of climate change is just "the hype and fear-mongering promoted by 'bodies' and 'bureaucrats' who simply want to steal from ordinary citizens through UN taxation in a one-world tyrannical government."

Never mind that the stack of evidence for global warming, which by now must be about the height of the Eiffel Tower.

And "every person who will not acknowledge His authority over their individual life...will be utterly destroyed by God's judgement."

So it's a good thing that I've got a "Get out of Hell Free" card.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Dancing Dwarfs

I'm annoyed.

The tickets for the dwafs were 21.35€ each, and I had to jump through hoops to get them. When they went on sale, the website sagged to its knees under the strain of so many customers at once, so it took about 10 attempts before I was able to buy them.

And then they emeailed me instructions on how to collect the tickets which were less than clear. Just “Collect them from the network of Caja Canaria machines.” (Caja Canaria is a bank.) So last week I went into a branch and asked what to do. “Oh you can't get your tickets here,” he said. “You have to go the branch in the middle of Santa Cruz. The machine's clearly marked, and it's really simple to use.”

Fair enough, but parking in Santa Cruz during the bajada is a nightmare. It's difficult at the best of times -- 21st century traffic meets 16th century street plan – but during the bajada, the two main car parks get taken over for stages and a funfair. But I got a bad feeling about this, and felt it would be pushing my luck to leave it any longer. So __I parked at the north end of town and walked in under the blazing sun.

I found the ticket machine easy enough, and the instructions were simple. Just swipe your credit card through. The one you used to pay for the tickets.

Oops. I was pretty sure that the card I used for the tickets was the one that had expired. I'd cut it up and thrown away the pieces a week ago.

Well I tried the other cards. Nope. Nothing doing.

So Í queued at a counter and asked who I should talk to about this. And they politely pointed me at another queue.

It was a slow queue. But when I got to the front, the young woman was charming, and said, “It's odd that your new card didn't work. They usually had the same number.” So she phoned my bank, who said that it would be because the new card had a chip and pin, and the old one didn't.

So I had to go to my own bank (more walking in the blazing sun) and queue again.

The nice young woman talked to her boss, and drafted a letter which said that I was the owner of such-and-such a card, since expired, which had been used to pay so much to Caja Canaria for tickets on such and such a date.

Then I had to go to the theatre ticket office, and present my ID and the letter from my bank. And they gave me the tickets.

Total elapsed time, almost 2 hours. But I grabbed the chance to buy a ticket for the carro (a religious theatre play for the bajada).

And I went home with a thumping headache, carrying the tickets in triumph.

That wasn't the end of queuing. They were unnumbered seats – first come, first choice. So we had to get there good and early, and parking was going to be insane. Luckily they laid on lots of extra buses.Shortly after 5 pm on Thursday, we were debating how long the bus might take to get to our house from Fuencaliente, given that it was due to leave at about now. We didn't have to allow time to get to the bus stop, because it's right opposite the house., but we decided the sensible thing would be to get to the bus stop pretty soon. So I packed bottles of water for the queue, and went to the toilet.

There I was, doing what nobody else could do for me, when Helen yelled, “BUS!”

So we all poured out of the house – me last, obviously, and we actually made it.

Of course the bus couldn't take us right into town. The street was blocked off to make space for the huge queues to see the dwarfs. So we got some nice, healthy exercise.

And then we joined the queue.

Well, first we had to find the right queue. People were already queuing for the second performance. And then we waited for an hour. At this point, my son regretted leaving his Nintendo behind in the rush for the bus.

And then we had to choose our seats pretty quickly. My bad, I went up the stands nearest the door.

And we couldn't see the dancing floor properly! The stands were arranged so you could see the main stage, but the dwarfs don't dance on that. They dance in the middle of the areana, closer to the stands and lower down. (The numbered seats were a separate stand in front of the stage.

I couldn't believe it. We'd paid 21€ each and we were going to see the tops of the dwarfs hats, nothing more.

Then the people in front of us decided they wanted to see what they'd paid to see, so they stood up.

At that point, the people right at the back started yelling for everyone to sit down. It took a while to get the message through, but eventually they did sit down, and 99% of us saw better.

OK, the atmosphere was good, but does that look like a 21€ view to you?

And that arena sits about 5,000. 5,000 seats x 6 performances x 21€ is 630,000€.

Like I said, I'm annoyed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Last night's pandorgas were lovely, but tiring. I had to park well south of town and walk in. On the way, I fell in with someone I know, and took some photos of her gorgeous little niece. I was so late I began to worry that I'd missed the whole thing, but when I eventually I found the parade, it wasn't even halfway along its route. The lead pandorga was the world cup, which of course drew enthusiastic cheers.

So I got my photos, and cut through to the sea front to get out of the crowd. And then I headed home. But I bumped into two of my brothers-in-law, with their respective families, including my lovely little great nephew, who's two. Cue for more photos. And then the pandorgas came past again. And at the tail end of the procession, my teenage niece posed for photos with one of the pandorgas, and the people carrying it say, "Oh keep it. We're going home." And I wound up taking it home, at about 1 am.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Hacked Climate Emails

Remember those hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit in East Anglia? Parts of the media yelled for the top of their lungs that this "proved" climate change was all a hoax.

The Independent Climate Change Email Review just reported:

"We find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it," it says.

"We demonstrated that any independent researcher can download station data directly from primary sources and undertake their own temperature trend analysis".

Writing computer code to process the data "took less than two days and produced results similar to other independent analyses. No information from CRU was needed to do this".

In other words, the researchers at East Anglia didn't lie and couldn't have lied if they'd wanted to.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Thrones and telescopes

The huge, once-every-five-years fiesta has started here. The main focus of the fiesta is that the statue of the Virgin Mary comes down from the village of Las Nieves down to the capital of Santa Cruz for a month.

The statue itself doesn't come down for another two weeks, but normally it sit on a silver throne, and on Sunday, they brought the throne down to Santa Cruz in procession.

Well, I say procession, but it's more like a mile-long party. According to the local authorities, 72,000 people turned out! More details, and photos, on the blog about La Palma.

On Monday morning I had a tour guiding job, showing people around Grantecan, the huge, new telescope. They have an insurance policy for the visits which strictly stipulates "No under 12's." I'd been warned by my boss, the IAC who run the site, and the telescope manager that I had to enforce this and check ID if I was in any doubt.

And there was a 9 year old who wants to be an astronomer when she grows up, crying with disappointment.

Oh ****! It brought back my pain and fury at not being allowed to watch the Apollo 11 landings on TV at school lunch hour. The TV room was packed with kids who, I was sure, only wanted to be there because we weren't normally allowed to watch TV then, so they only let the kids in the top year in. And I wanted to see it so much!

The duty person at the telescope was very sympathetic, but pointed out that he could lose his job too.

Oh thank goodness my husband works at the Italian telescope! I told that she'd have to stay outside, but promised I'd try to get her into another telscope afterwards. I knew my husband would be sympathetic, and thank goodness, he was able as well as willing. So after an hour's work I was paid for, we took her around the Galileo for free. I was pretty tired afterwards, but it was well worth it to see the way her face lit up.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

6 Months Down...

It's halfway through the year. On my two-submissions-a-week schedule, I should have submitted 52 stories by now. I've actually made 51. Pretty good, especially since I only managed 50 submissions in the whole of 2009.

52 submissions to go this year.

I'd better get on with it.