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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just One More Cartoon, I Swear


Just this, the initial episode of my cartoon network which can be found here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Knee Pain Update

It’s too early to tell if the ginger root is doing the job but my knee has been fine for a week without the Diclofenac. The problem may have been taken care of with the drug; it’s too early to tell. I have been making a soy milk shake with fruit and a hunk of fresh ginger every morning for a week. On some days I’ll make a tea with ginger extract. It’s pretty nasty but whatever. I plan to keep up this routine.

I’m pretty skeptical about some of the claims made about ginger by hippies on the internet. I haven’t found anything really conclusive about the benefits of ginger for arthritis knee pain. The stuff I find is either luke-warm stuff from the medical community or it is touted as a miracle cure by hippy health food people. The medical profession has little to gain if arthritis can be treated by a cheap herbal remedy so I imagine we’ll never hear much from doctors on this topic. The people claiming ginger is some sort of miracle probably also believe in astrology. I have no stake in this personally except to be free from knee pain. I have no reason to be anything other than completely objective about what I discover about ginger.

All that I can say thus far is, “So far, so good.” I am just so fucking relieved, mentally, to be free of pain that I can’t even describe my happiness. I am back into my super push-up routine again and yesterday I hit my mark of 1,000. I try to do sets of 100, at least at first. To my credit, yesterday my friend’s four year old daughter was on my back for my first 50 push-ups which sort of killed me right from the start (and she’s big for four). As I have said before, this routine isn’t difficult to do. What is difficult is the discipline to make yourself actually do it every three days or so. It’s more boring than difficult, at least after you get into it. I feel stronger already. Push-ups are a terrific exercise and I don’t get any adverse reaction from them like when I do a lot of pull-ups. After a few weeks of pull-ups my elbows start to ache.

I’ve been walking quite a bit more than usual. I really hate walking but I need to balance out all of the cycling that I do. I joke a lot about my diet and all of the pork I consume but I think my diet is pretty healthy, for the most part. I eat lots of fresh fruits and raw vegetables and almost no sugar. I have no weakness for sweets; salty shit is another story but I don’t go overboard. I should eat less meat and dairy. Probably too much booze in my diet but once again, I don’t go overboard—at least not too often. I should smoke dope instead, but although I like pot, it doesn’t really suit me and isn’t the same thing at all as beer or wine. I’d wager that there is a book out there on this subject, Control One Vice with Another. I’ve always been so glad that I have never smoked cigarettes—one of the world’s worse vices.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My New Project


I put all of my cartoons on another blog so I don't have to pollute this one with video. I have 18 episodes so far with more to come soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quotes for the Not Famous


My first attempt at animation thanks to a new blogger-related application called GoAnimate. It's super easy to use and seems to work rather well. You'll notice that the voice stress sometimes misses the mark but nothing too horrible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Copa del Rey: Real Madrid 1-0 FC Barcelona

The New York Times called it an ugly win by Mourinho. I wouldn’t agree. It looked to me that he took Pep Guardiola to school. It doesn’t hurt to have the best goal keeper in the game on your team as Iker Casillas had a brilliant game. Two games down and two more to play for Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. 

I used to live a block from Mestalla Stadium and in all my years here I have never seen anything like the party outside the stadium for this match. The people here in Valencia are mostly Barça supporters and it really showed by the enormous crowd. The were a lot of Barcelona jerseys and lots of singing.The Real Madrid fans were mostly contained in their Fan Zone at Turia Park. The Barça crowd filled most of the north end of the city. It was a lot of fun and a great game. I think Mourinho simply outplayed Guardiola like he did last year when Inter eliminated Barça in the Champions League. 

I can't wait to see what happens when these two teams play each other again on Wednesday at Bernabéu.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Copa del Rey


A crazy day for football today in Valencia with the Copa del Rey beginning at 9:30 this evening between Real Madrid and Fútbol Club Barcelona. The Real Madrid fans have a huge tent in Turia Park. I rode by at 5:00 and the place was going wild. I was wearing a Valencia CF t-shirt just to advertise my neutrality. I don’t care who wins; I just want to see a great match.

There were hundreds more supporters for both teams in the city center. I love the electricity in the air before a big game like this. Valencia hosted the Copa del Rey two years ago between Barça and Athletic Bilbao. This time we have Real Madrid, the greatest team in the history of the sport*, and Barcelona which now is probably one of the best teams to ever play the game. It should be an epic match and I’m almost tinkling myself waiting for it to begin at 9:30 this evening.

I am in a pool and I have Barça winning 2-1.

*Madrid has won many more titles and trophies than Barça.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Herbal Medicine

I’ve never been much of a drug taker, at least not for medicinal purposes.  When my dentist gave me antibiotics after pulling a wisdom tooth I didn’t take them. I’ve never taken antibiotics.  I rarely take even aspirin so this issue I have with my knee is something new for me. I don’t know if the problem will persist or if the pain will be a constant companion.  All I know is that I don’t want to be taking drugs to treat it. The possible side effects for even aspirin can be fairly toxic. The list of possible side effects for Diclofenac is rather terrifying: stomach ulcers, intestinal bleeding, indigestion, etc. Intestinal bleeding? Even though I have a cast iron stomach I’d rather try a natural remedy.

Ginger has been proven to be an effective treatment for arthritis although you don’t hear much about it. I suppose the drug companies would rather not let this type of news see the light of day. I haven’t read about any adverse side effects from taking ginger.   

I started taking ginger root today and so far I haven’t had a problem with my knee. This morning I boiled a cup of water and added some powdered ginger I had with my spices. Later I went out and bought a nice big root and chopped up a thumb-sized chunk and added it to my soy milk and fruit shake. Drugs are actually cheap here in Spain and for most of them you don’t need a doctor’s prescription but they aren’t as cheap as ginger root.

I’ll soon see if this works or not for easing the inflammation in my knee and the subsequent pain.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Happened to Look Up


I was walking home one evening last week and I happened to look up and saw a big, fat, bright moon. It completely took me by surprise, like seeing a naked woman standing in a window.  For most people nothing could be more common but when you live in the city you don’t see much of the heavens. This may sound a bit sad for many people who take the night sky for granted.  I don’t mind my obstructed view seats of nature. City life is infinitely worth it for me. It’s not like I have no contact with nature. I’m out on my bike in the countryside several times a week which is more than most people—city or rural—can say.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

¡Salud!

I have the constitution of a medieval peasant, the kind of peasant who didn’t have some sort of debilitating disease which killed him at age 27.  I meant the good kind of peasant who could work in the field 14 hours a day and still find the energy to go to the grog house every evening.  I wouldn’t say that I take my good health for granted as I have spent a good part of my life either sitting on a bike or in a gym. If there is one single thing that I miss from my life in Seattle it was my neighborhood gym where you could find me 5-6 days a week. It takes a lapse in good health to really make you appreciate what you have.

My fucking knee was killing me for a while. I basically just ignored it and hoped the pain would go away. The pain was getting worse to the point that I couldn’t even sleep. I have a doctor friend here who specializes in this sort of thing and he simply recommended Diclofenac, a non-steroidal anti-inflamatory.  I went from pure misery to bliss in 24 hours. I slept like a baby last night and woke up this morning with a new knee. I can’t even describe the relief that I feel now, more mental than physical as I was freaking out that I may need another operation on my left knee. I had some meniscus removed from that knee about 14 years ago and have sort of worried about it since.  I was sure that I had another knee operation in my very near future but now I feel like I could run a 10k…and I hate running.

This episode really made me see Jesus and I plan on really getting into better shape. I’m already in decent condition as I ride a bike freaking everywhere and back. It is nothing for me to run up 10 flights of stairs on a whim instead of taking the elevator(at least when my knee wasn’t killing me). I actually love taking the stairs.  I joke about all of the pork I eat but most of my diet is fresh fruits and vegetables along with nuts and cereals.

I could really use some time in the gym, however. There just aren’t any gyms near my house here in Valencia so I suppose I will have to be content with biking and other exercises like my push-up routine brought to you by Herschel Walker (an American football player who would do 1,000-1,500 push-ups a day—I do 1,000 every three days).

Taking the Diclofenac also means that I have to eat at regular times because you can’t take it on an empty stomach. I am now forced to have more than coffee in the morning which is a lot better for my metabolism.  In the morning I make a shake with soy milk, a banana, and strawberries (they are great this time of year) along with a few tablespoons of cereal. Before I would only drink coffee in the morning and many days I wouldn’t eat a thing until lunch at 2 o’clock or so.

I have always said that your health is like saving money. The more you invest the better return you get later in life. Every penny you spend on exercise equipment, gyms, bikes, work-out clothes, etc. is the best money you will spend in your life. I think I will go out today and buy myself a little something sports-related to celebrate the end of my knee pain.

On my bike ride this morning I was literally weeping with joy because my knee finally felt good again and I felt STRONG like bull. I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to beat me up fro crying but first you'll have to catch me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rushmore (1998)

I was making a list of my favorite comedy movies for a Spanish friend when I thought of Rushmore.  For me Rushmore is not just a great movie, it has something that few movies, that few works of art possess. It has originality. Ironically, the film borrows heavily from a number of films including Good Will Hunting, The Godfather, Serpico, and Apocalypse Now (remind me if I have missed one or two) but this doesn’t take away from the fact that Rushmore stands alone. I also think that whether or not someone likes the movie is a judge of character. I’m not saying that if you don’t like the movie this means that you're a bad person; it just means that you probably stand on the polar opposite from me on every significant issue in life. I realize that there’s a bit of hyperbole in that statement but this is what Rushmore does to people.

The film is positively laugh-out-loud funny in many places and it has something that makes the humor even more special. At the very core there is a sweetness that only very few films can pull off without being saccharine or maudlin. I think that this sweetness is also evident in the soundtrack (someone gave me the CD as a gift) which has a song called Kite flying society; what could be sweeter than that?

Rushmore is so completely unlike any other movie about teenagers that it can’t even be put into this category. I don’t know if I speak for anyone else but more than anything else the movie makes me wish that I could go back to that age and be a little more like Max Fischer, something I think the director had in mind with the closing song in the film with the chorus, “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger.” I remember hearing a reporter ask a celebrity if there is anything good about growing older. Without a breath of irony or sarcasm the 50 something star answered, “Absolutely nothing.” I suppose this would be true if—like this celebrity—you have made no effort to become smarter or more interesting as a person over the course of your life.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Big Switch: How Conservatives Have Blamed the Public Sector for the Present Crisis

If you really want to see an example of the unstoppable power of the American conservative movement, if you really want proof that our media is pretty fucking far from being “liberal,” as wingnuts so often say, you only need to examine the top story of the day. It seems that all of a sudden, in the past year or so, we have been stricken with an evangelical movement to cut government spending. It’s as if people think that our current economic malaise was brought on by school teachers in Wisconsin or Planned Parenthood. It’s as if our collective memories don’t reach back even far enough to recall that it was Wall Street—that bastion of capitalism and unregulated markets—that brought America and a lot of the world to their knees. In 2000 when Bill Clinton handed over a federal government to George Bush that actually was carrying a surplus no one was saying that we needed to defang the government—and by defang I mean eliminate programs for the needy.

No one made much mention of the need to cut government spending when Bush sent troops into Afghanistan and then Iraq and then left them there until the end of his miserable presidency. Even now, few conservatives mention defense when they talk about the Jesus-mandated obligation we have to reduce the government to a size more easily manageable so that they can drown it in the proverbial bathtub. If you were a conspiracy theorist might think that the Wall Street meltdown was dreamed up just so that conservatives could later attack government social spending.

At the same time that the Right screeches about the looming disaster of government spending they defend the tax cuts for the richest Americans. Their patron saint, Ronald Reagan, lowered taxes for the rich 30 years ago so we have enough data accumulated to know that these tax cuts have never, nor will they ever trickle down to create jobs for the lower classes. The Right calls the rich "the job creators." We also know that 80% of the growth in income over that past 25 years has gone to the top 1% of our citizenry. As Bill Maher said, that’s like ordering a pizza with 100 slices for 100 people and when it arrives one guy takes 80 slices. America’s middle class has seen a steady decline since Reagan and now we are supposed to believe that the fault lies with our public libraries? The really terrible thing is that middle class people are buying this story brought to you by the Republican Party, sponsored by GM, and written by the Heritage Foundation.

I think the most startling revelation in all of this is that Obama—the man we elected to fight for our side—has completely capitulated to the Republicans. I don’t see how things could have been a lot more different these past years if George Bush would have been given a third term. We are still in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo. The rich still have their tax cuts at a time when U.S. cities are firing police officers and teachers. What message could be clearer that the Right has so little regard for citizens that they will deny education and civil protection for the people in order to insure that the wealthiest 1% can keep getting even richer?

The class warfare the Right is so quick to point out when it is directed in their direction is more of a war between the middle and lower classes against the poor. There’s barely a college degree to be found among the teabaggers as they take to the streets to end social programs for the poor and to further reduce taxes. The irony (or at least one of many ironies) is that you won’t hear a peep out of them when they are hit by a tax by Exxon in the form of higher gas prices.  And yes, it is a tax when you have no alternative but to drive because conservatives have opposed every mass transit measure in the past 30 years.

The ironic sum total of the situation is more than enough to choke on. The Right took one of the most monumental failures in the history of under-regulated capitalism and turned it into their greatest victory. It is positively brilliant.  Not only did we bail out the banking system with no strings attached and without a single change in our banking laws, but we have allowed the Right to begin the dismantling of many of the things we spent the past century literally fighting in the streets to gain. I doubt that conservatives will be happy until we have struck down child labor. If you think that I am joking you need to look at the new bankruptcy laws which have made indentured servitude fashionable once again.  It’s like conservstives vision for the future is a novel by Charles Dickens.

One part of me wants to say “chapeau, well done” while the other side wants to start building guillotines for our next revolution.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Ruins at Almenara

A planned bike ride turned into more of a day of climbing in the town of Almenara in the Valencia Community. It’s about a 40 minutes train ride from Valencia’s Estación del Norte on the cercanía which plies between Valencia and Castellon to the north. It was 5.80€ for a round trip ticket. I bought the round trip simply because I don’t know how to get from Almenara to Sagunto and didn’t feel like spending my day getting lost like I did on Saturday.  I did enough riding on Saturday for the entire weekend so I didn’t feel guilty at all sitting on the train up and back while I read my book.

The weather has been spectacular although it was hazy.*  When I reached the top of the little precipice in Almenara I couldn’t see the Mediterranean, not that I have anything to complain about. I’m already lathering up my face and arms with SFP50 for my bike rides. There aren’t any signs pointing to the way to the two towers and the fort about the village so I just started riding up. At the top of the village I found a scenic path that goes up a bit further and across the little mountain. I was lucky to run across a young girl walking her dog who directed me to the path leading up to the old Moorish defensive structures. Once again, the path wasn’t marked at all and I would have ridden straight past it without her guidance.

The wasn’t any bike riding to do at this point so I pushed  my wheels a bit up the trail and ditched it. There really wasn’t much of a path at all but the ascent was fairly logical: you just choose the easiest way up meaning the one with the best hand-holds and the fewest thorns.

I need to get out as much as possible during the next two months or so before it gets really HOT.

*Hazy = Calinoso in Spanish, at least according to the Real Academia Española.
 Calinoso - Cargado de calina. Calina (del latín calīgo, -igĭnis, oscuridad) - f. Accidente atmosférico que enturbia el aire y suele producirse por vapores de agua.
It's hazy = Hay calina.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Football News

For those of you living under a rock or outside of Spain (to the Spanish those are the same thing) it looks like football fans will see FC Barcelona and Real Madrid play each other four times in the span of one month. Both teams won decisively in their first game of the Champions League quarter final round with the second game coming this week. This means that Barça and Real Madrid will face each other in the semi-finals. They also play each other in Spanish League play this coming Saturday. Then they will play each other again on Wednesday the 20th in the Copa del Rey. Barça already has the Spanish league wrapped up and the big question is whether they will win the Champions and the Copa again as they did two years ago.

How will these games go down? I wouldn’t expect Barça to win all four games against Madrid but the way they are playing it isn’t impossible.  I wouldn’t think that Barça will even care much about the League game on Saturday and can certainly afford to play it safe. The Copa del Rey final is here in Valencia next week and that should be a dog fight as it is Madrid’s best chance to win some sort of title this season.  

Valencia CF kicked the living shit out of Villarreal (5-0) to all but take third place in the Spanish League which means another invitation to the Champions League next season.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Conejo con Salsa Romesco


They don't eat romesco sauce around these parts much as it is more of a Catalan dish. I had this once in a restaurant once upon a time in Catalunya and thought I would try it myself.

Plaça Ajuntament, Burjassot, Espanya


I pass by here a couple days a week on my bike rides. It's always a pleasant spot and even more so on this incredible spring day. As I point out in the video, the café above the fountain makes a great tortilla de patatas and they have an even better terraza to enjoy the view of the square.

The music in this short video is by the Brazilian folk singer, Ana Carolina

Confesso
 
Confesso acordei achando tudo indiferente
Verdade acabei sentindo cada dia igual
Quem sabe isso passa sendo eu tão inconstante
Quem sabe o amor tenha chegado ao final

Não vou dizer que tudo é banalidade
Ainda há surpresas mas eu sempre quero mais
É mesmo exagero ou vaidade
Eu não te dou sossego, eu não me deixo em paz

(Refrão)
Não vou pedir a porta aberta é como olhar pra trás
Não vou mentir nem tudo que falei eu sou capaz
Não vou roubar teu tempo eu já roubei demais

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Letter to My Brothers

I send a ton of letters to my brothers which are all curiously devoid of anything dealing even remotely with my personal life. We write about books and politics and sports but little about our lives.  It’s not that our personal lives are so boring but in the grand scheme they don’t really count for much. Here is just one example of a letter I sent today in response to another sent by my younger brother. I would imagine that we have exchanged hundreds, perhaps thousands of such letters over the course of or adult lives. We read mostly the same books and have come to mostly the same conclusions regarding the fate of the United States of America. The three of us are proud veterans (along with our honorary brother Dave who is also in the email loop). I think we all came to similar conclusions after reading John Ralston Saul’s prophetic masterpiece, Voltair’e Bastards back in about 1992. Here is a letter that I wrote this morning that is typical of the kind of things we discuss. I don't expect this will be of much interest to many people but, like most of what I write here, it's more for me than anyone else.

I wish that I had a centimo for every time I heard some conservative twat say that Europe is collapsing.  Of course this is being said by folks who have never actually been here. Germany collapsing? France collapsing? I think that the Germans and the French would beg to differ. I also love how conservatives hold up a single item from the news, a single anecdotal article from the European press that they think completely validates their point. If people here wanted anecdotal evidence of the complete and utter failure of America all they’d have to do is scan the metro section of any major U.S. daily newspaper to see plenty of stories of murder and mayhem.

Europe has won. Socialism has thoroughly kicked the shit out of the Reagan model in the last 30 years. Poverty has been all but eradicated, like polio, in Germany and France.  Walk around Valencia and I defy you to show me a ghetto or even a poor neighborhood. There are a few dodgy streets but not an entire shitty neighborhood.  Violent crime? Not here. I walk past a group of young black men and I’m not thinking about what I will do if they threaten me. How many U.S. cities can you say that about? Valencia looks as good as Seattle and Seattle is one of the wealthiest U.S. cities. Many places look this good in Europe. You would have to be completely blind and stupid not to see it if you take a look.

Of course, as I said in a recent essay the conservatives’ game plan is to foster ignorance in every issue they promote. Can you believe they are still sticking with their global warming denial policy? They are like Har-kari pilots willing to fly their planes right into our society if it means victory for them. They refuse to budge on a single issue and they refuse to abandon even the fucking most insane members of their movement. If some who professes to be a liberal says something stupid liberals are over them. Look at Bill Maher. I don’t know any intelligent person who doesn’t think Bill Maher is a twat yet he claims to be a liberal and sometimes champions liberal ideas. Conservatives will stick with Sarah Palin to the death.

I direct you back to that preposterous essay by George Will Why Liberal Love Trains in which he tried to argue against rail.  What he really meant to call the piece was Why Conservatives Hate Europe.  Conservatives hate Europe because, for the most part, it is a shining example of the complete failure of their economic model of unregulated free enterprise, the elimination of the social safety net, and an almost complete lack of concern for the public wellbeing. Europe is predominantly urban and therefore predominantly liberal (like urban America).  Train travel represents the height of this urban liberal mindset. Will actually laughed off train travel as a 200 year old technology. Did it seem like a 200 year old technology while we were speeding to Sevilla from Madrid at 300kph? What a completely childish and mendacious thing to say from a man who is paid for his opinions (unbelievable but true, unfortunately).  Whatever, Will has been on the wrong side or—even worse—on both sides of so many important issues that it drives me crazy that anyone could take him seriously.

While America has been firing school teachers and police officers Spain went ahead with construction on the Madrid-Valencia high-speed rail line. Even during this very serious crisis they didn’t completely abandon their future. What has America done to prepare for our future? Of course conservatives think that if we just cut taxes a bit more we will all be transported to Valhalla or some sort of paradise where Reagan sits on a cloud and rules over us. There will be no police protection, health care, or education in their paradise but what does that matter?

Ask conservatives to point to the kind of society they want to build and they cough and stamp their feet and mumble something about “the way it used to be” or some other senseless idea. I can point to a lot of places America should be emulating. Of course, to even suggest that things are being done better outside of America is tantamount to treason as far as conservatives are concerned. I think it is treasonous to ignore better ideas for things like public transportation, health care, and education.

But the real elephant in the room that conservatives have completely ignored is the unacceptable income inequality in America. I don’t know how much longer they can keep on their path of denial. First they said that there was not income gap and then they changed course slightly when that became completely irrefutable. Lately they have insisted that the income gap means nothing if the pie is getting bigger. This is rapidly becoming worse and I think will either sink the Republican Party or destroy America. It’s already completely obvious to any but the most blind that America’s top 1% have stripped us of anything remotely resembling a democracy.  Our plebiscite of 2008 meant absolutely nothing. Obama has followed a course barely distinguishable from that of Bush: we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, no real health care change, no tax hikes for the richest Americans, and we are dismantling our social safety nets as fast as we can.

Yet most Americans don’t know or don’t care about any of this. They are too stupid and too full of Jesus Christ, Cable TV, and/or professional sports to bother getting involved in what is the future of our country.  I was completely clear about this after the presidential election of 2004. To me that was the biggest failure of the American people since…I don’t know, since we decided that slavery was the right choice. We were given a clear choice and we made the worst possible mistake. I still vividly remember that night and thinking that it couldn’t be possible (but of course I knew that it was possible).

I enjoyed a few brief moments of political happiness after Obama’s election but I soon realized what a cruel joke our American democracy had become when the President almost immediately started hemming and hawing about closing Guantanamo. “What will we do with the people there?” was the big question. The answer: I don’t give a flying fuck what we do with the prisoners. Buy them all a fucking mansion in Beverly Hills and new cars. Anything would be better for America than continuing to live with the disgrace of that prison. And while we are at it let’s give all of Guantanamo back to Cuba. The 200 or so shitbags we have interned there could never in a million years do more damage to our country than the damage already done to our reputation.  My anti-terrorism strategy is to convince the world that the path taken by the West is the correct path. If we only seem like adversaries to the Muslim world we are in for a long fight. Show ourselves as an example and their world will change rapidly as we are seeing now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

¿Marujeado?


I mentioned before that maruja in Spanish means old lady. The word is derived from the proper name Maruja which is kind of an old lady name like Hazel or Mildred in English. I’ve heard the verb form of this word, Marujear, many times. If there is a verb then there must be a participle that can act as an adjective which would be marujeado.

Ser Marujeado – to be done in by a Golden Girl

I got totally pimped by a some old gals today at the supermarket and I have no one to blame but myself. I was looking for something to go with some romesco sauce I made today and at first I was thinking of some sort of seafood. First of all, I should have gone to the market for this purchase but I didn’t have time. The Consum (a supermarket chain) by my house has decent seafood but I try to buy as much as I can from my vendors in the market. The problem with the seafood counter was the line. Three older gals meant that I was looking at a minimum of a 30 minute wait.

After doing a quick lap of the store I decided to match the sauce with chicken. They have chickens pre-wrapped but they looked smaller than the ones in the butcher department display. So all I needed was a whole chicken, a 30 second transaction. There was only one young woman in line so I hopped in behind her. Unfortunately, the twenty-something was only saving a place in line for her abuela. This is kind of like thinking you are going to play a game of pick-up basketball with some school kids only to learn that you’re up against the Lakers. I felt like I had a ball of ice in my stomach when she started her order.

I don’t think she could have been more explicit in her order if she was overseeing her own gall bladder operation.  And am I just imagining this or do older Spanish women order enough food to feed 50 people every time they leave the house? This gal bought more meat than I eat in two weeks, and I eat a lot. More than anything else I just wanted a dinner invitation from someone like this person.  I would have asked her what she was planning to cook but I didn’t want her to take any longer than she already was.

15 freaking minutes I waited while she ordered a load of meat that would have made a Viking raiding party blush.  At least I was able to take advantage of some free samples of good Spanish ham between rolling my eyes and shuffling my feet. At last it was my turn and I ordered my chicken.  When I ordered the girl at the counter pointed out that you can buy whole chickens that are pre-packaged as something of an apology for how long I waited for Maruja, feeder of Viking hordes.  I told her that the ones in the butcher department looked bigger. The chicken I bought was only slightly bigger than the ones in the cooler.The good news is that I try never to be in a hurry.

Take Five

I’m old enough to remember when businesses in America were mostly closed on Sundays and holidays. We seemed to have taken a step backward as far as the labor movement is concerned because now it’s like the entire country is open 24/7. I wouldn’t call Denny’s a good model for modern society. In Spain most businesses are closed on Sunday with the exception of those catering to the needs of entertainment and dining. Of course, the Chinese variety shops are mostly open as well as many of the Pakistani green grocers but the Spanish take the day off. I happen to believe that the capitalist system can survive a break one day a week without the wheels coming off the whole machine.

Forget about the fact that many people here get an entire month off in the summer.