Friday, March 23, 2012

Fantastic so far.

So far my busy week has been a blast. The hours aren't as bad as I feared, I really like the people I'm looking after, and I get to learn about photography too. Oh, and I get to take photos myself. Here's a few of them.
The day started with a press conference about Fotonature, and I was there to translate for Jane Menyawi, the National Geographic photo editor. So I had three TV cameras pointing at me, which was pretty intimidating.

Then we went to Los Tilos, where I got this photo of the Canarian bell flower, and the Palmeran Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs Palmae).
And a wonderful view, which is hard to photograph. That's my shadow on the foreground at the bottom.

And this is a National Geographic photographer, shooting through railings.
Of course the locals thought we were crazy, or at least this one did.
Meanwhile, my husband is installing cables in a small space for a new scientific instrument, and bashing his head on the ceiling.  It's not a fair world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

El Hierro again

Well that was a fun weekend before my busy week. It turned out that they did indeed want the translation to English. I'd looked up the difficult words on Thursday night, in case, so I did the translation midair and during my stopover in Tenerife. Then when I got to El Hierro, we went to a cyber cafe where my friend proof read the translation and I emailed it off. I finally got to see TacorĂ³n, down at the southern tip of the island, and got chatting to an old lady about her cats.
We had several good walks,too, but I think my favourite photo op was the old men playing cars for coffee beans in the bar.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Warp speed 11

This morning I took a group around Grantecan - Normal enough and fun. I got home and just had time to eat before I took my son to the dentist, followed by the hairdresser's and supermarket (the only place to park near the hairdresser's is the supermarket car park.) As soon as we got back, we grabbed one of the cats, and took her to the vet. And as soon as we got back from that, I started packing my suitcase. I'm escaping to El Hierro for the weekend to visit a friend. And when I read my email, I found a rush translation job. Only they're asking me to translate to German, which is decidedly optimistic given my level of (in)competence in German. So I emailed back, saying "Did you mean English? I can do English?" And seeing as they're in a hurry, I looked up the phone numbers to chase it in the morning. I'm the webmaster for a small non-profit, and somebody's having trouble unsubscribing. More emails required. I need to leave by 9:30 tomorrow morning. I'll get back on Sunday evening. I have Monday to get organised again, and then I really get started. I'll by interpreting and looking after a couple of photojournalists from National Geographic for a week, showing them around the island. This is fantastic, but the hours will be killing. I haven't got an itinerary yet, but I might be putting in anything up to 84 hours in 7 days. Hence the effort to get things like taking the cat to the vet done today. So I think I'd better get to bed. I'm going to need my sleep.

Monday, March 12, 2012


My husband fixed a neighbour's heater, and he was delighted. So delighted that he said he'd bring some firewood for us. So I got home from work to find that he'd made good on his promise and come around with about two cubic metres of eucalyptus bark, which he'd left in front of the fireplace at our son's suggestion. The neighbour doesn't have a car. It must have been quite an effort to bring us all that. Now eucalyptus bark is really good for getting a fire going, and it smells lovely too. But this was perhaps rather more than I wanted. Especially since I couldn't get to the fireplace until I'd broken it all up. Which took nearly an hour. So you might say that the neighbour's bark is worse than his bite.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Some fun: A Local Sardine

El Llanito sardine's funeral bier, carried by the widows. Brena Alta, La Palma island

Last night I went to a third sardine's funeral, in El Llanito, near San Pedro. (I'm doing well this year.) It's only a small, local party, but it's close and we'd heard that it was good. Unlike most places, the bier was carried by the sardine's widows.  Like most places, the widows were very tall and muscular.

I particularly liked this old lady, who kept insisting on more rum in her drink.
Reveler dressed as an old lady, insisting on more rum, El Llanito sardine's funeral. Brena Alta, La Palma island

It is good. It's nothing like the size of the one in Los Sauces, but definitely well worth the ten-minute drive. And the fireworks were amazingly good for such a small event.

Friday, March 09, 2012


OK, it's not nearly as bad as I feared. Paypal are refusing to process payments for books including "rape for tittilation" rather than any mention of rape at all. And of course, Paypal deciding they don't want to being a certain business is different from government censorship.

I still think it's a bad decision. For one thing, who gets to decide what's titillating? And I'm still worried that the definition of unacceptable content might creep further and further until it includes "any opinion we disagree with."

But for now, I can set up my site with Paypal, which is presumably what most of my customers would chose to use. But I'll be looking for an alternative, too. More choice for my customers (please, please let me have customers!) and an escape route if things do turn bad with Paypal.

On a lighter note, I just discovered this haiku by Manchester punk poet John Cooper Clark:

To convey one's mood
In seventeen syllables
Is very diffic.
That cheered me up!

Thursday, March 08, 2012


I've been wrestling all week with the software to sell ebooks from my new site at, and just when I finally got a file associated with each product (the file you actually get to download), Paypal changed their terms and conditions.

Smashwords are telling authors to remove fiction that contains themes of bestiality, rape, incest and under-age sex at the behest of Paypal who say it's to comply with the rules of the banks and credit card companies.

This is odd given the amount of internet porn paid for with credit cards.

I can't be sure, but this rather smells of the American religious right. If so, you can bet it won't stop at bestiality, rape, incest and under-age sex. LGBT sex will be next, and if they can, they'll extend it to all sex, including sex education.

Now, I'm absolutely not a fan of bestiality, rape or incest, but I'm not at all sure that even these things should be censored. I've heard the argument that read about, say, rape, will inflame you and make you more likely to rape, and I've heard the argument that it will get it out of your system. What I haven't seen is any scientific research on the subject.

(Please note, I'm not saying that scientific research is infallible, because scientists inevitably bring their own assumptions to their work, and they're almost as likely to overlook stuff as the rest of us. But science is self-correcting, and it's far more likely to be right than either you or me gazing at our navels. And WAAAAY more likely to be right than a politician who's paid to look at his navel from a certain direction.)

In any case, writing and reading are not the same as doing. Writing about murder is apparently hunkydory. So far. I wonder if Paypal will refuse to process payments for the Bible and the Greek myths? Both contain lots and lots of rape, and the Bible certainly contains lots and lots of under-age sex.

I'm trying to get clear whether it means "rape" or "rape-for-titillation", since both are mentioned. It's an important distinction. Banning all mention of rape silences the victims - you can't have a story about the traumatic effect of rape or incest, or even a scholarly book about the psychology of rapists. Less importantly, in the grand scheme of things, one of the short stories in "The Dodo Dragon and other stories" briefly mentions rape, emphatically not "for-titillation". I wasn't planning to sell on Smashwords, but I was planning to sell using Paypal. So now I have to postpone the book launch while I research this, and perhaps find another easy way for customers to pay me. Watch this space.

This might cost Paypal a fortune. Not from me (I wish!) but from lots and lots of indie authors. Together we must rack up quite a lot. Who wants our business.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

A Social Whirl

Carlos Gonzalez and Sheila Crosby dressed as 1960s hippies

After several weeks of all work and very little play, it was time for some belated carnival action. Los Cancajos held a 1960s day on Saturday, and we went along for the live band in the early evening, suitably dressed. The costume came from a shop in the village, with added heavy eye makeup.  Here's my husband with the drummer from the band La Retranka.

We boogied until 8 pm, by which time the ankle I broke years ago was starting to protest a little. But in any case, it was time to go home and change for the Sardine's Funeral in Los Sauces.

My husband had a terrific costume he organised well in advance. I've been so busy with ebooks that mine was a last-minute scramble, based around da big boots I bought years ago.

My boots with crippling 6 inch heels

Here's a free life tip.  Do not wear 6" heels when a) you're not used to them, b) your ankle is already a bit sore from dancing c) you'll have to walk about half a mile from the car park to the action, d) the crowd surges around to avoid being squashed by several hundred kilos of dancing sardine and e) you'll be stuck with wearing them for three hours.
Carlos Gonzalez and Sheila Crosby at the sardine's funeral in Los Sauces

On the other hand, if you want to take photos from the middle of a crowd, it helps to be tall, and it helps even more to be 6 " taller than usual. And the Los Sauces sardine was much, much better than the one in Santa Cruz: the crowd was huge and enthusiastic, the costumes were better, the sardine was bigger and it danced (I'll be putting up a video later) and the fireworks were fantastic. So it was well worth walking back to the car in stocking feet and being totally crippled this morning.

the creamation of the sardine at Los Sauces