Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Recycling Bigastro style

If you have any items you no longer want but that are in reasonable condition, rather than put them in the bins, put them by the bins. I guarantee that within and hour or so they will be gone.

People have cottoned on to the fact that people on our estate dispose of items that are still useable and so they come up with vans to take them away; possibly to use them themselves or to sell on. It is a perfect example of recycling at its best and most effective. 

Our suitcases had seen better days - mine had lost the trim that held the extendable handle in place and had developed a habit of losing wheels that came loose in transit. Pam’s had a problem with the lock such that the combination changed of its own accord. It was time to buy new so we did and the replacements arrived on Monday.

Yesterday, we deliberately left the old cases by the bins at the entrance to the estate in the hope that someone would pick them up. Sure enough, when we returned from our Spanish class a little later, they were gone. We hope they have been taken by someone who will be made good use of them because the cases served us well. 

Showing support for others

There will be a concert on Sunday at 6:30pm in the Auditorium for the benefit of the charity project-  Malacatoya Mainel Foundation (Nicaragua).

The performance will be given by two of the Bigastro band’s soloists.

Charles is right

Charles Smythe made the following comment about my post regarding the devastation on the East coast of America.

Poor Americans? Reputedly the richest country on the planet.

Of course we are all saddened by the devastaion which has caused their 'poor' country... but what about the likes of Haiti for example, one of the many countries to have been affected severely by the same hurricane?

"On Monday, the scale of damage in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy became evident. Even though the storm’s center skirted the country, more than 20 inches of rain fell on Haiti’s south and southwest over four days last week, causing at least 52 deaths, tearing out crops and destroying houses.
“We are facing a major crisis,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said this weekend after he flew over the regions that had been hit by the storm.

"The (Haitian) government said that the homes of as many as 200,000 people had been damaged — on top of almost 400,000 people still homeless from the January 2010 earthquake. “We have a lot of work ahead of us in terms of the aid that we will need to deliver in the days, weeks and months to come,” Mr. Lamothe said. “It won’t be easy because there are many roads and bridges that have been cut off.”

He’s right, the publicity about the problems that Sandy caused in Haiti only warranted a minor story in the papers in spite of the fact that the damage, on top of that caused by the 2010 earthquake, were equally if not more devastating. Whist America has the capacity to pick itself up, Haiti will suffer for years if not decades. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

As bad as expected

There are times when the weather people get it wrong, they predict bad weather and then it doesn’t happen. This time though, they were spot on. Sandy has turned out to be as devastating as we were told it would be.

Pam and I watched the American news channels last night as Sandy made landfall on the Eastern seaboard of America. We saw the rising waters flood Atlantic City and later the water rise in Battery Park.

In numbers, so far there are at least 16 people who have died and there may be more to come, at least 6.2m people are without power and could remain without power for a week and the storm surge reached 13 feet made worse by a high tide.

In New York it all started to happen at about 8pm, earlier than expected because Sandy had picked up speed. The combination of a sea surge, a high tide, winds of up to 80mph and torrential rain have caused untold damage there and along the coast and will continue to do so for awhile yet.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Not good

Our thoughts go out to the people in America who face the effects of hurricane Sandy. In New York people have been evacuated form low lying areas, all transport has been cancelled. schools are closed as is the stock market as they prepare to face the worst. Wind is expected to reach 75mph, rainfall of 6 inches and a storm surge of up to 11 feet.

Normally a storm of this type last only a short time as it weakens when it hits land but this one is expected to last for days cutting off power supplies and bringing misery to millions. There is likely to be widespread damage but hopefully no loss of life – only time will tell.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Did you forget

We did! Having told the girls not to forget to put their clocks back, Pam and I went to bed leaving the clocks as they were.

I got up this morning when my watch said 8:15 not knowing that it was actually 7:15. No pasa nada, I have had an extra hour today as a bonus!

I may be speaking too soon

When we first moved in and were on builder’s electricity (supplied by a diesel generator via makeshift cables) the voltage used to fluctuate all the time and we had frequent power cuts.

Once we moved onto mains electricity supplied by underground cables things did improve for awhile. We still got random power cuts, sometimes just for a second or so and other times much longer and the voltage fluctuated at times causing the lights to dim. It was and still is frustrating but then some have dismissed this because it is Spain and the rapid increase in housing during the boom years apparently overloaded the supply.

However, I have noticed that since we have been back from the UK the lights have not been dimming as they did before we left. Checking on my UPS, the voltage has not fluctuated very much and is now staying high at near 250 volts. Before we left, the voltage would drop to 230 and less which is why the lights dimmed and the microwave slowed down.

Has Iberdrola done something to the supply whilst we were away, or is this just a fluke?


The scandal surrounding Jimmy Saville goes on unabated. The BBC are in turmoil over their part in what happened and the family of the late DJ look on as more revelations appear each day. If they were not convinced at first of how big this was going to become, their eyes have been opened now by the scale of things.

It seems there were two sides to Jimmy Saville. He gave generously to charity and received a great deal of acclaim in his lifetime for that. He made friends with royalty and with the church who honoured him with a knighthood. On the other hand he brought misery to many young ladies who suffered from his abuse many of whom complained at the time only to have their complaints dismissed by people in authority. It seems that the stories were dismissed because of the power that Saville had as a result of his ‘good side’.

No doubt, given time, this story will blow over to be replaced by other sordid revelations of someone else but hopefully before that happens, the people responsible for covering up what went on will be called to account and lessons will be learnt.

However, there is still one aspect of this scandal which to me is disturbing. The NHS has apparently not seen fit to apologise to the victims who suffered at their hospitals where Saville was given free rein to come and go as he pleased. Further more, there has been no explanation of why he was provided with accommodation in two of the hospitals and keys to the wards in another. I would hope that the investigations taking place would look into these issues with the same vigour that they are applying to what went wrong at the BBC.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Putting it about

As if to further tarnish the reputation of King Juan Carlos, two claimants have asked the courts to subject the king to paternity tests. The requests have been rejected by two courts on the grounds that the monarch cannot be held accountable.

The first, Alberto Sola Jimenez, was adopted as a young child but claims to have unearthed evidence that suggests his birth mother, a daughter of a well-known banking family, may have had an affair with the King.

The second, Ingrid Sartiau claims her mother first met King Juan Carlos in 1956 in Paris and then again in 1966 in Luxembourg where she was conceived.

In an interview earlier this year she said: "My mother told me who my father was while we were watching television. An image of King Juan Carlos flashed up and she said: 'That man's your father.'"

The pair have had DNA tests that show a 91% chance that they share one parent in common (clearly not the mother).

I should think so

Bankia has run up losses of 7bn euros in the first three quarters of this year. The bank had already applied for a bailout of 23bn euros, over half of the money requested from the eurozone.

In 2011, the bank claimed to have made profits of 300m euros but the auditors refused to sign the accounts and eventually they admitted to a loss of 3bn euros. However, they had already agreed to pay bonuses to the executives including the chairman, Rodrigo Rato.

Now, the executives of Bankia have been ordered to pay back those bonuses in response to a petition from the European commission. Some have already been paid, others are waiting, some of the executive still work for the bank.

Banks in Spain lent money to real estate developers and land speculators and it is the toxic debt from those loans that is crippling them. Seven savings banks merged to form Bankia. Of the 45 banks that existed 5 years ago, there are only 15 today and that number could reduce to just 10. 

As I have said before on this blog, the economic crisis was largely brought about by greed. Everyone wanted to get on the bandwagon of the get rich quick boom including the bankers. Now they must pay.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Give blood – save lives

Your chance to give blood at the Municipal Auditorium, Bigastro on Friday, November 2 from 17:00 to 20:30 in the Multipurpose Room.

Behind every donor there is a hero.

Dogs in the war against the weevil

We all know that the police use tracker dogs to search for drugs and explosives. Now a company has trained its dogs to detect the presence of the red palm weevil. What they have found is that the bug enters the palm at the base of the plant and there lays its eggs. The dogs are apparently able to sniff out the larvae of the weevil. At this stage the tree can be treated without having to destroy it.

The method has already been uses in other countries and other parts of Spain. Orihuela is now investigating further before dogs are put to work to save the historic palms of the city.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Now we have to pay

When money was plentiful in Bigastro, the council could afford to let people use facilities without cost. Now though, things are very different, the town is near bankrupt and so it needs to charge people to use what was once free.

The socialist councillor, Raúl Valerio Medina complains that footballers will be charged sixty euros to use the artificial turf pitch, fifty to use the normal pitch and it will cost 10 euros to play tennis.
He says that there will even be charges to use the Auditorium which range from 7 euros to 120 depending on the size of the room.

I take your point Raúl but I'm afraid it is a sign of the times. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ryanair – the friendly airline

Whilst we were in the queue to board our flight to Alicante there was a much larger queue next to us waiting to board a Ryanair flight to Rzeszow in Poland. In the queue was a young lady with a child, they had two large bags that they intended to carry on as cabin baggage. You could see that neither bag would fit into the ridiculously small cage no matter how hard the young lady tried.

They did offer to put the bags into the hold but the lady had neither enough cash nor a UK credit card to pay for this so she was left stranded at the airport as the plane took off without her.

If she had booked her baggage online the cost would have been £15 (or £20 depending on flight) for 15 kgs, at the airport though the charge goes up to £60 (or £80 depending on flight). With two bags that would have meant paying between £120 and £160 and presumably the same on return unless the lady managed to check her bags online during her stay.

Pamela was quite distressed for the lady and the child who was distraught but there was nothing we could do to help her. What made matters worse was that one of the attendants was sniggering, clearly he hadn’t an ounce of compassion for the lady and her plight.

OK, the lady should have been aware of the size limitations that Ryanair impose but to be fair she was Polish and probably had limited command of English.

The earthquake at Lorca could have been man-made

When the 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit Lorca, Pam and I were not far away having taken a three day break at a hotel a few kilometres from Cartagena. Although we felt nothing, those in Cartagena said they had felt the tremor. Friends, who had seen accounts of the quake on television,  phoned us urgently to check that we were OK.

The earthquake meant that 250 buildings had to be demolished and that 10,000 of the residents had to move away from the town. Nine people died as a result of falling buildings and 100 were injured.

Now a report in the journal, Nature Geoscience says that there is evidence the disaster was man-made and was a result of water being sucked out of the ground. Since the 1960s, the natural groundwater levels have dropped by 250 metres and that movement may well have caused a slip in the underlying fault.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bigastro season tickets

Followers of Bigastro football club can now buy a season ticket for the home games. The cost of one of these is 15 euros which works out at 1 euro per home game. Compare this with the regular price which is 5 euros for men and 3 for women and you can see what a saving a season ticket makes especially for the men!

In these days of sexual equality, you could ask why men have to pay more to go to football games than women.

Such a delight

Having arrived at Wolves on Friday, what should we do yesterday but drive up to Sale to meet up with Laura, Dave and Molly.

The original plan was for them to drive down to the Midlands to go to Monkey World. However, you could not have guaranteed the weather and a rainy day outside could have been a disaster. Plan B was for Jemma, Pamela and I to travel up to Manchester by train but the fares were ridiculous so Jemma volunteered to drive.

It so happened that Disney on Ice was taking place at the MEN so the girls got to see that with Molly whilst Dave and I spent some time with our cameras.

After the show, we all met up and went for a meal. Then it was the tram back to Sale followed by the drive back to Wolves.

It was a long day for Jemma who was shattered by the time we got back to her house. It was a long day for Molly who apparently sat through most of the one and a half hour show without moving. By the time we got to the restaurant for the meal she was tired but soon perked up when the food arrived.

I might be biased here but I reckon I have the most wonderful family a man could wish for. Two delightful daughters, the perfect son in law and words fail me to tell you how good my granddaughter is turning out to be. She is such a little treasure.

Dave told me that the first thing she asked yesterday morning was, "Is Papa coming today?" How could you not love someone who says that. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Many thanks

After a fabulous time in Norfolk with our friends Glenys and Peter, Pam and I have driven over to Wolverhampton to stay a few days with our oldest daughter, Jemma.

We had previously spent a long weekend with Glenys and Peter when they first moved into their house in North Walsham but that was 11 years ago. They have done a lot to improve their house and of course the garden. They have also spent a lot of time researching the area of North Norfolk and so were able to take us to some of the local beauty spots. 

For me, the highlights of our stay were the superb Sunday lunch we enjoyed at Blakeney, our visit to the Queen's beautiful home at Sandringham and the two days we spent in Norwich. Best of all was though was the time we spent in the company of two very special people.

Now though, we can spend some quality time with Jemma. Since the birth of our granddaughter, we have spent most of our time during visits to the UK in Sale. On each occasion Jemma has made the effort to travel up to see us but it is not the same when you are competing for attention with a Molly.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Saturday could be wet

The forecast for Bigastro shows a high possibility of heavy rain on Saturday and there is the difference.

Here in Britain the forecast has shown rain for most of our stay with days of sunshine in between. In Bigastro, there will be one day (possibly only half a day) or heavy rain which will dry up by the following day. It might not be pleasant at the time but at least you know that it won't last and better weather will return and stay for at least a week or so.

The other big difference is the temperature. In Bigastro it is cold when the daytime temperature drops to 20. Here in Norfolk it hasn't even risen to 20. It is amazing how Pam and I have adapted to Spanish weather since living there - we now feel the cold here like we never did before.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Damn, we'll miss this

This Sunday, at 6:30pm, you will have the opportunity to see a flamenco dance company formed by the teachers and graduate students from the Conservatory of Murcia under the direction of Toni Alcolea and the musical direction of the guitarist, Pepe Piñana.

Ticked off

Yesterday we visited the Queen's house at Sandringham; it is where the family camp out for Christmas. It is one of those places that has been on our list of places to go to for awhile.

The weather was kind and stayed dry, we even got some sunshine.

The forecast for today is not good. It seems that in Britain you have to pay for one pleasant day with some nasty rain and strong winds. Then just as you think the foul weather is set in, the sun comes back out just to fool you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Weather forecasts

We had hoped for at least some good weather for our visit to Norfolk. What we are getting are days when it rains and days when it might start out clear but rapidly becomes overcast. The forecast is for something better.

Yesterday was like that. FIrst thing there were blue skies, then it clouded over but fortunately stayed dry. For a brief period in the afternoon the sky cleared and the sun came out.

Today we was going to Sandringham and so are hoping that it will at least stay dry. Actually, I am hoping we get some sunshine so I can take some decent photos but this is England in October so anything could happen.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Out of town

As some of you may know, Pam and I are in England at the moment. This time we are visiting Glenys and Peter in Norfolk. We last visited their house when they first moved to a new home 11 years ago so a second visit was well overdue.

Of course this meant a change of airports. Since we will be moving on to Jemma's house in Wolverhampton on Friday, we chose to fly to East Midlands and hire a car to cross the country. The crazy thing is that the best route from East Midlands to North Walsham takes you south first before you move east.

The day we travelled, the weather was good. In fact we drove across in beautiful sunshine. That was not going to last though and so last night the rain came down in bucket fulls and continued on and off all day today.

However, when you are in good company, bad weather doesn't really spoil your day. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reputations in tatters

The flood of allegations made against Jimmy Saville is staggering. We are now told that he was given carte blanche access to young girls in several hospitals, children’s homes, even at the BBC and nobody in authority thought anything of it. The enormous amounts of money he raised for charity for these institutions seems to have blinded their eyes to what may have been going on. They gave him freedom of access, office space, bedrooms and even keys to the wards.

Even still, it is hard to imagine how he could have got away with his alleged predatory behaviour for so long without at least one authority taking action. There was either a massive conspiracy to cover up what was taking place or the people in charge were in complete denial.

Now we are told about the cover up that allowed Lance Armstrong to win seven Tour de France titles.

In  its 1,000 page report, Usada says it has "found proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Lance Armstrong engaged in serial cheating through the use, administration and trafficking of performance-enhancing drugs and methods that Armstrong participated in running in the US Postal Service Team as a doping conspiracy".

It added that his goal of winning the Tour de France multiple times "led him to depend on EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions but also, more ruthlessly, to expect and to require that his team-mates would likewise use drugs to support his goals if not their own".

It continued: "It was not enough that his team-mates give maximum effort on the bike, he also required that they adhere to the doping programme outlined for them or be replaced.

"He was not just a part of the doping culture on his team, he enforced and re-enforced it. Armstrong's use of drugs was extensive and the doping programme on his team, designed in large part to benefit Armstrong, was massive and pervasive.

"Armstrong and his co-conspirators sought to achieve their ambitions through a massive fraud now more fully exposed. So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sports history."

There is a remarkable similarity in elements of both stories. Both men were philanthropic in that they raised millions to help their supported causes. Does that make their behaviour acceptable? In the case of Saville, the jury is clear that it did not but in the case of Armstrong things could be different. It seems there are some who are willing to forgive him of his doping practices and even to deny that they took place.

Local rain

Not a drop fell here in Bigastro and yet on the coast there was a downpour at about 3:30pm. Although it did not last long, the rain created swampy puddles and dragged furniture on the beaches about.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Who is responsible for our palm trees?

The palm groves at the side of the Segura river outside the city of Orihuela are full of the red palm weevil and are using the path as a route to continue their destruction. The reason why the beetle is not under control is down to the tardiness shown in disposing properly of the trees that have been cut down.

Once the trees are cut down they are supposed to be covered with a tarpaulin to prevent the beetles from flying to the next trees. The cut pieces are then meant to be crushed and sieved to destroy the adults and the larvae that remain inside. Apparently this has not happened in the case of the trees by the river so the weevil is spreading unabated.

As you might expect, the issue is about who is responsible for the work. Unfortunately, whilst they debate who should pay the bill, the weevil is having a field day destroying beautiful old palm trees.  

Some good news for a change

According to the Costa Blanca News,sales of properties in the Alicante Province fell over the last 17 months.  No doubt this fall was fuelled by the financial crisis aided by the controversial land grab laws and the law relating to coastal properties.

Valencia promises that the new five-in-one land law will mean that home owners affected by development plans will be give adequate information to prevent them from being surprised by building companies intentions. That sounds like an improvement but doesn’t seem to remove the risk that part of your land may be taken away by developers.

However, on a more positive note, houses that lie inside the boundary set by the law of the coast have also been given a stay of execution following a recent amendment.

As those who intend to sell know,  prices of houses have slumped but at least there now seems to be some movement; in August sales in he province increased by 10% compared to last year. The buyers are mainly foreigners looking for either a second home or to start a new life here. At rock bottom prices, is it any wonder that people are snapping up the opportunity to own a property in the sun.

Of the houses that sold, 13,922 were new properties – a rise of 6.3% over last year, the remaining 49.8% were resales.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

In the name of charity

I’m told by my intrepid scout John that next Tuesday between 11:30 and 12am there will be 2 Chelsea Pensioners at the Teraza Bar bringing Poppy Appeal boxes along with poppies. I hope the weather is a little cooler for them because you would not want to be in their uniforms when the thermometer is around the 30 degree mark.

On the Saturday, 3rd November there will be a charity function on behalf of the British Legion at La Terraza. Darren promises live entertainment with music from the 40s along with a buffet for the cost of 6 euros of which 1 euro will go to the British Legion.

Done and dusted

When Pam and I got married back in 1970, we had a photographer to record the event who came armed with two twin lens Rolleicords. The photos that he took were all posed; from groups arriving at the church to the cutting of the cake and they were all in black and white. In fact he did carry a spare camera and took a roll of colour film at our request but they were not to be included in the album.

The main things he had to concentrate on were making sure everyone was looking the right way i.e. directly at him, that everyone’s eyes were open and that the focus and exposure were both correct. 

In due course we received our album which we still keep in its presentation box. The cover is embossed white leather and the pages are thick card with the photos stuck to them using mounting tissue (shellac coated tissue that melts when heated).  Each page has just one photo on it and is interleaved with tissue to protect them.

When I was a young teacher, I used to take wedding photos to supplement my income and help pay for my hobby. I followed much the same process as the man that took pictures at our wedding. The only difference was that my photos would be in colour which I had processed by a specialist laboratory in Birmingham. Otherwise it was a case of taking the groups, cutting the cake and signing the register – that was about it. 

These days very few wedding photographers shoot film, they mostly use digital single lens reflex cameras. That gives them an advantage over the man who took pictures at our wedding. Whilst he had to swap cameras every 12 shots and reload both cameras after 24, digital cameras can record hundreds of pictures one one card- even in uncompressed RAW format. They can also ‘chimp’ the pictures on the screen at the back and reshoot if necessary.

The biggest difference though is in the style of photography that couples are after as a record of their big day. There is still room for the formal group shots as a reminder of the people that were there but more and more couples want a reportage style where the pictures tell the story of the day. It starts with bridal preparations and carries on through to the first dance and beyond. It is a longer day for the photographer who has to be alert at all times looking for those special moments, little incidents and the expressions on people’s faces that convey the emotion and joy of the event. If you miss those moments then all may be lost – that is stressful.

Once home, the photographer of the past had his work cut out with all those rolls of film to develop and then proofs to be printed in the darkroom. By comparison, the digital photographer has it easy. Programs like Adobe Lightroom allow you to go through large batches of pictures, selecting those that are OK and rejecting those that are not. You can also quickly adjust for any inaccuracies in colour, exposure and composition. Within an hour or so, the digital photographer can have an album hundreds of pictures on line for the couple to view. That compares well with the days if not weeks it used to take the film guys.

Then we come to the all important album. Although you can still get matted albums where individual photos are stuck to pages, the majority of couples opt to have a photo book. With these you have a lot of scope to layout each page with one photo or many photos.

Usually the key photos are chosen to tell the story of the day and then smaller photos are added to to embellish the theme. It is a very time consuming operation because not only do you want to tell a story but you also want to achieve a balance on the pages and throughout the book. As you move pictures about and swap them around the whole theme of the page changes. Thankfully, the whole process is either done online or using a program on your computer so changes like this are relatively easy to achieve.

Now you have read all that you’re probably wondering what is the point of this post. Well my youngest daughter and her husband have now got their wedding album back and I am pleased to say that, thanks to the efforts of all the photographers who contributed along with my efforts on the computer, they are delighted with the end result.

PS For the benefit of my reader Charles Smythe, I did not manage to lose any loose pictures in the book.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Mobile abuse

You read of countless people having been caught out by their mobile phones – inappropriate calls, text messages and incriminating photos. When the riots took place in England, many of the young people thought they were safe to use their mobile phones to summon up friends to join in with them. Some even used them to post comments on Twitter and Facebook which of course led to their arrest.

Calls from mobiles are recorded* so If you are going to phone prostitutes then it is probably best not to use the company’s Nokia.

According to the Costa Blanca News, Torrevieja Councillor, Daniel Plaza made 49 calls in just two months to prostitutes who had advertised their numbers on the internet. Now, the opposition councillors are calling for his resignation.  

No doubt, Sr Plaza will say he was making the calls as part of some sort of investigation yeah right!

* My reader Charles Smythe is right in correcting me -  I should have said that the numbers called are recorded - not the actual calls. That, of course would be illegal even in Spain 

Monday, October 08, 2012

A touch of the Orient

Last night, two young ladies, Azucena and Shameena performed what they described as ‘oriental dance fusion’ at the Auditorium. We were surprised to see so many empty seats and people leaving after the first part of the show.

The young ladies had a variety of styles and interpretation – they were very good in fact excellent.
You can see my album of photos here

Sunday, October 07, 2012

More on Vista woes

In his comment about my item regarding a neighbour’s problems with Vista, one of my readers tells of the experiences he had with the operating system.

Bill says that he had Vista Home Premium installed on a new machine. For a few months everything was fine and then the problems started.  He reinstalled Vista and everything seemed OK for another few months when he would have to do the same thing again. In the end he gave up and bought netbook computers that ran Windows XP.

The last desktop I owned ran Windows Vista. Like all Windows systems, I had to nurse it with kid gloves making sure that I never installed anything that might upset the fragile infrastructure. In the end, my copy of Vista mostly behaved itself. It would often take an age to load up and sometimes refused to shut down but mostly it was satisfactory – no better or worse. 

Actually, when you look at the various versions of Windows it seems that every other one that Microsoft brings out is a rogue. Windows 95, Millenium edition and then Vista have all caused problems. The ones in-between, Windows 98 SE, XP and now Windows 7 have all been fine. What that says about the forthcoming Windows 8 is hard to judge. Experience tells me to avoid it and wait for Windows 9 instead.

Finally Bill says that he might consider buying Apple in future and I can see sense in that. None of the Apple computers I owned have had a problem with the operating system. Admittedly there were a few flaws with some of the hardware but the software has always been  flawless. For example, my current MacBook Pro has not skipped a heartbeat since I bought it which is more than I can say for any of the Windows PCs, including my current desktop Dell which runs Windows 7.

A can of worms

The revelations that are coming out about Jimmy Saville have opened a can of worms regarding the antics that went on at the BBC. As I said yesterday, the 60s and 70s were a different era – there was no such thing as political correctness in those days. What went on at the BBC was repeated in many places of work to a greater or lesser extent. 

Liz Kershaw, who was a young DJ at Radio 1 during the 80s describes the place as intimidating and compares it with a rugby club locker room. She says that she was routinely groped whilst on the air by one presenter.

“I would be sitting in the studio with my headphones on and my back to the studio door.  I couldn’t hear a thing . . . then I’d find these wandering hands up my jumper, fondling my breasts.I couldn’t say anything, I couldn’t even explain because  I was broadcasting to the nation.”

“When I complained, they (the managers) were incredulous and said “Don’t you like it? Are you a lesbian?”

Although Jimmy Saville had left the BBC before Miss Kershaw joined the station she says that the stories about his behaviour were rife. In particular the tales of what went on during the BBC Roadshow which toured the country each summer were scandalous. It wasn’t only Jimmy Saville though, there were also stories about the late John Peel and an underage girl.

In the PC world of today, these things would either never happen or would be dealt with straight away. That makes it less intimidating for young ladies in the workplace which must be a good thing.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Windows woes

One of my neighbours tells me that she is having problems with her computer. The machine, which is only a few years old, runs Windows Vista. Although she was told by the shop where she bought the machine that the language could be changed from Spanish to English, that proved difficult with the Vista Basic copy supplied. No matter, the lady in question has learnt a bit of Spanish by mastering the menus in a different language.

Now though she finds that the computer won’t boot up properly into Vista. It struggles, eventually tries to remedy the fault(s) and finally loads the operating system. I imagine that, even when Vista does come on the screen, everything runs at a crawl.

I reassured my neighbour that the actual machine was not at fault. The problem lies with Vista which has become corrupted over time and that it is not necessarily anything that she has done which has caused this. It  is Windows itself and possibly the programs she has loaded that are to blame.

When things like this happen, the chief culprit is usually the Registry where all the settings that Windows and other programs are stored. The other likely cause are the .dlls or dynamic linked libraries. These extensions to programs are often shared to save space and so if they are erased or altered by one program that can impinge on the behaviour of others.

We all imagine that if we uninstall a program we rarely use, that it will be gone completely from our computer. That is rarely the case – there are often files and folders left on the hard drive and entries in the Registry that are left behind and these can have an adverse effect of the performance of Windows.

The sure fire way to get her machine back to fully working condition is to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows and the programs from scratch but that would mean loosing all of the data she has stored and it relies upon her having all the installation discs to hand.

The less belt and braces approach is to get Windows to repair itself properly which can only be done by starting the computer up from the Windows installation disc. The repair programs on that disc can then work on the copy of Windows installed on the hard drive which of course is not running at the time.

I do hope she can sort this out, I know of several people who have given up on the task and gone out to buy a new computer instead. To me that is a bit drastic, a bit like buying a new car just because some part of it needs repair.

An icon of the BBC

The sixties and seventies formed a unique era in Britain - a highly sexualised period when many types of activity and behaviour now regarded as dubious were considered commonplace. Reliable contraception was available for all and nobody had heard of aids so in a sense we were liberated in a way that our parents could never have dreamed of.

In those days, you rarely  heard of complaints of sexual harassment - a racy comment and a quick hug at work were common place and it wasn’t all coming from the men, some of the women were just as bad. 

Those of us who grew up through that period were aware of groupies that hung around pop stars and DJs. Many of those young stars, with over active libidos, have admitted that taking advantage of the young fans was common place. The last thing that would concern the young men was to ask about the girl’s ages and even if they did, the girls would have lied.

However, the revelations now coming out about Jimmy Saville are different.

image-7-for-jimmy-savile-life-in-pictures-gallery-708509477 To be honest, I never liked the man. The ostentatious jewellery, the gaudy track suits, huge cigars and his long blonded hair looked ridiculous on a man of his age and his supposed upbringing. Neither did I care for the leery look in his eye and the way he feted young girls on his shows. In my opinion, there were far better DJs at the time and better presenters of children’s TV shows.

Saville’s memory is now under scrutiny as a growing number of women are coming forward to say that they were sexually assaulted by him. Whilst the “pretty boy” pop stars were being chased by the idolising fans, it seems that in Saville’s case, he was the one doing the chasing. That is hardly surprising given his age at the time. Saville’s role might have seemed glamorous but I can hardly believe that young girls found his appearance and his manner attractive.

Apparently the claims made against Saville come as a surprise to the BBC executives who say that there were no complaints made about him. Yet it is reportedly no surprise to many who knew him and worked with him nor will it be to many of the millions who watched him on TV.

The sad thing is that Saville is no longer here to defend himself but then neither is he here to be called to account for whatever he did wrong.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow

201210_bailesTime to practice those steps and routines that you have learnt on the dance floor.

Every Tuesday, between 5:30pm and 6:30 pm there are ballroom dancing workshops at the Auditorium.  

PS You can tell how much I know about ballroom dancing from the title of this post.

Thank you

To the two people who cleaned up the pavement alongside the road down to the village. They did a wonderful job of making the route for walkers more pleasant.

I know that there are a number of residents who take great pride in their properties and the environs surrounding them by clearing weeds from the pavements and from the nearby vacant plots of land. Their efforts are also very much appreciated.

We all expected Star Sol to finish off the estate a lot smarter than it is but sadly that never happened. They sold off plots that have never been built on and sold off land to other companies who attempted to build on them without success.

There is little we can do about the failed developments nor the vacant plots that are fenced off but we can at least ensure that the pavements outside our properties are clear of weeds. Unfortunately, that isn’t a one off job. I’ve sprayed the weeds that grow in the gap between the tarmac and the pavement outside our house several times. Both myself and council workers have chopped them away but the weeds come back, especially after a bout of rain. Clearing the weeds that have come back is a job on my list to do this weekend.

The bottom line is that we are unlikely to have the smart urbanisation that we were led to expect but at least we can try and make it a little better than it is. 

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Spanish classes

For the benefit of those who were unable to attend the meeting yesterday, Spanish classes will be at the Auditorium Francisco Grau on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 5 and 6:30pm starting on the 23rd October. 

A touch of the orient

Apparently the concert that was due to take place last Saturday was cancelled because of flooding following the heavy rain on Friday. Hopefully we won’t have rain this weekend to spoil the show on Sunday.

Azucena y Shameena are described as Oriental dance fusion and body expression – sounds exotic.
We shall see on Sunday 7th at 7:15pm.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Spanish classes for this year

A message from Aurelio – there will be a meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, 3rd October) at 5pm in the Auditorium Francisco Grau for anyone interested in learning Spanish.

Last week, our teacher Antonio informed us that he is willing to continue with classes this year. It is important that we remember that he volunteered to do this without charge to the council so we are indeed deeply indebted to him.

The main plaza

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Pam and I visited the new shopping mall at La Zenia yesterday.

It did take us awhile to find the place because we tried to take a shortcut which turned out to be a long one! Still we saw parts of the coastal urbanisations we hadn’t seen before.

Once we got to La Zenia Boulevard, Pam and I agreed that it was worth the effort, this is a massive achievement for the designers who have come up with something that is quite spectacular as far as shopping malls go.

Although I like the architectural features of the Thader shopping centre, notably the noria at the entrance, I don’t care much for the journey to it via the AP-7. If I have to go to a shopping centre, then La Zenia Boulevard is a more palatable alternative. I can well see this being a must visit place when my daughters are next over.

The sports centre under water

We might have got off unscathed by the heavy rain on Friday but low lying areas around the river Segura and the water channels didn’t. The Reguerón overflowed in several places downstream from Orihuela. For example, I understand that parts of Molins were flooded.

Water also overflowed at the Bigastro sports centre which is adjacent to the channel. The tennis courts, artificial turf pitches and the pavilion were under several feet of water by Saturday.

Aurelio Murcia went to see the extent of the damage and said that it could be months before the facilities were fit for use again. Municipal insurance experts will now assess the damage to work out the cost which could be high if there are any wooden floors involved.

Monday, October 01, 2012

It’s a tough job being PM for Spain

Mariano Rajoy has fought hard to stave off applying for a formal bailout from Europe. Although he successfully negotiated a 100bn euro bailout for the banks, the cost in terms of austerity measures has been high and he still faces high borrowing costs to raise funds on the bond market. The possibility of a further downgrade of Spain by Moody’s certainly won’t help.

Faced with the challenge of driving through measures to secure a bailout and the public unrest they have created, the threat of Catalonia seeking separation and rising unemployment, you do wonder why he ever wanted the job in the first place.  

A bit of good news

Amongst all the doom and gloom surrounding the economy of Spain, It is nice to be be able to report some good news now and again.

Most of us are on what is called the Last Resort Rate for electricity. In fact 20 million consumers are on that rate. It was first set in 2009 by the government following the liberalisation of of the market. The cost of electricity has fluctuated since then but this will be the first time that those changes will be reflected in a reduction of the price to customers – in this case by 2.29%.

For those of you who use bottle gas, there will also be a reduction in price of 4.6% bringing the price down to 16.1 euros per bottle. The price of natural gas is not affected.

Many of the houses on our estate are connected to the propane tanks on Calle Escocia that supply gas for central heating and cooking. Since this is commercial propane we should also see a reduction in our costs.