Friday, January 27, 2012

My Remarkable Friend.

One of my friends is seriously considering volunteering at an orphanage in India run by this NGO. Good for her! You can read more about the Society for Social Justice and Human Resource Development at

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I went into town with my son, and while he was looking into mobile phone contracts, I happened across two street entertainers blowing bubbles. I'm a big kid about bubbles. I can blow bubbles 6 " / 15 cm across sometimes, (hey, I used to play clarinet, and I learned some breath control) but that's about my limit. These people were using big loops of cloth and the wind, and the bubbles were too ginormous to be round. I was jealous - I wanted to play too.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Grand Day Out

Casa de Maestro, Tijarafe, La Palma

Well, since my son's at camp and I didn't have to be home by 2 pm, I bunked off.  I left home later than intended, but I got to Tijarafe before noon - in good time to see the little museum, which I was told opened from Monday to Friday and shut at 1 pm.

I found it without too much trouble, but it was shut.  This was rather annoying after driving from the other side of the island.  So I went to the Town Hall to ask when it would be open, and to politely suggest that they tell the tourist office when it would be open.

And they opened it just for me!  Even more remarkable, this was without using the magic words, "Tour guide" (because so far I have no say over where the tours go) or "Journalist" (because this blog isn't much publicity really) .  They've cut staff due to lack of funding (sound familiar?) but they'll open it when somebody asks if there's somebody with the time to go with you.

Well, it's a nice museum.  Small, because it's the old school house, but you can see the classroom, (complete with old school books and the devil!), the central courtyard with its rainwater water tank, the kitchen, and exhibitions of old papers, photographs, school books and pre-Hispanic ceramics.

And then I went in search of the kiosk at La Bombilla that does Thai food.  Yes, really.  Thai food, on La Palma!  It took some finding, but it was very well worth the hunt: delicious and cheap.  And then I wandered up to the lighthouse and back.

By that time, it was just about time to go home, but I was having fun and the light was getting nice, so my responsibilities didn't have much chance really.  I easily persuaded myself that I ought to go and photograph a couple of nearby beaches while I was that side of the island.  So I wound up at El Remo, trying for the umpteenth time to capture the transparent look you get at the top of a wave as it breaks.  And thanks to the late afternoon light, I finally got something like the picture I was after.

All in all, a great day out.
Breaking wave, El Remo, Los Llanos de Aridane, La Palma

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A little Freedom

I just dropped my son off at a camp on the other side of the island. He'll only be gone for two nights, but it does mean that I don't have to get home by 2 pm tomorrow or Friday. Of course I could fill the two days twenty times over, but I should manage a bit of exploring.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Birthday

This photograph was taken by Voyager 1 in 1990. It's called "The Pale Blue Dot". The coloured streaks in this photo are reflections of the sun inside the camera. The Earth itself is the bright dot in the rightmost streak, about halfway up. One pixel. I'm one of seven billion people sharing that dot, and I've ridden it fifty times around the sun. Seeing it so very small makes me think we ought to be kind to one another, and the planet.
"Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet is either mad or an economist." David Attenborough.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sweaters and Kindles

Today I went to visit friends on the other side of the island. I took I took the jumper I'd knitted to little John.  Luckily it fits perfectly, and both him and his Mum are pleased with it.  Actually, I'm pleased with it too.  I had a wonderful time playing with little John.

Then I showed his Mum, Nikki, my new Kindle.  One of the few books I've got on it so far is the advance copy of my own: "The Dodo Dragon and other stories", so she started reading the first story.  To my enormous delight, she got sucked in.  When she finished the story, she apologised for being rude, but flattering your guest like that isn't rude.  I loved it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Less frustrating

I passed the check-up for my driving license, and then I had a bright idea.

Los Cancajos has several big hotels, and these days big hotels usually have a wi-fi area.  So I popped into Hacienda San Jorge and my Kindle registered itself almost as soon as I turned it on.  I even had time to collect my husband and get him to Los Cancajos for his (successful) check-up too.  So now I have the advanced copy of my own book on my kindle, plus a couple of PDFs I downloaded some time ago but haven't had time to read.


My Kindle's arrived, and so I charged up the battery. Then I found that I couldn't load files until I'd registered it, which was a bit awkward because you need a wi-fi area to register.  Now that wouldn't normally be a problem, but this afternoon is going to be mad.  My husband's driving license expired while he wasn't looking, and mine expires on Saturday, so we both need a medical to get new ones (standard practice in Spain, and it's a pain, but rather sensible really.)  We've heard that the new medical centre in Los Cancajos is good and fast, but they're only open Tuesday afternoons.  So I have to take my son to his extra class, then get my husband to the opticians in San Pedro, get my son to an appointment in town, and get myself to Los Cancajos for my check-up.  I don't know how long the check-up will take (years ago, the place in town used to have 4-hour queues) and when I've finished I have to collect my son and husband, take my husband for his medical check-up if there's time, and cook dinner.  Five minutes in a wi-fi area is one thing.  Finding a parking space and getting to the wi-fi area is another.  I can't see it happening today, and I can't see it happening tomorrow either.  Very frustrating!  I want to play with my new toy.

Friday, January 06, 2012

The Kings

It's January 6th, and the Kings have brought gifts to all good children.

I got charcoal.  Obviously I've been naughty, what with spending all my time trying to publish ebooks instead of cleaning the house, and buying ISBNs instead of roasting joints.

It's a good thing that I like barbecues, isn't it?

Thursday, January 05, 2012


The wonderful Dan Bennett has just told me how to get into the Apple shop without going through Smashwords!  Since I'm told that Apple and Kindle account for most sales, my problem is largely solved.

And the three kings come tonight.  In Spain, they bring presents for good children.  Bad children get coal or charcoal (same word in Spanish, carbon.)  I wonder what they've got for me?


Gosh epublishing is complicated.

If you want to sell on Amazon, you convert your book into .MOBI, and upload it with information like the blurb, the ISBN (not essential), the author etc.

Barnes and Nobel want a different format, but the procedure is similar.  As with Kobo.

But Apple, Sony, Diesel and (I think) Aldikon won't deal with small publishers like me.  You have to go through Smashwords.

Who are Smashwords?  Well, you send them a very, very carefully formatted .doc file, and they create the  other formats, submit them for you, and centralise the sales data and royalties.  Oh, and they throw in a free ISBN.  For which they take 15% (on top of what Apple or whoever take).  Lots of people find that a good deal, but a) I don't need their formatting, b) I currently have the book as a .pdf, so it would need redoing, and c) I don't have MS Word, just Open Office.  Now Open Office is almost the same, but I gather that the tiny  differences are enough to really sugar up the conversion to other formats.

I gather Smashwords is fine for a lot of writers, but not for me.

I'm depressed.