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  • Chapter 13: take a walk on the wildside

    Jul 11 • Uncategorized • 15764 Views

    resting redhead in the wildside

    The world is full of fascinating creatures, just minutes away from our doors. Usually even closer (click to enlarge).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    The wildside is just outside your door

     

    My son found a male bullfinch yesterday and brought it home. It was alive, bu totally disheveled. He just picked it up from the ground with no fuss. We didn’t know what was ailing it, so I prepared a cardboard shoe-box with some kitchen paper on the bottom, practiced some holes, a couple of windows on the lid that I covered with more paper so it would have plenty of air and some light, and we let it rest. When my family left I prepared a room where I teach Math and some other subjects and where it could not hide so easily, and opened the box. The bird hoped onto my finger, so I thought it might have escaped from someone’s cage. Got some water in a little jar lid, some breadcrumbs and I left the room.

    Two hours later I came back and it was flying around the room, away from me, so I could determine a few things. First, nothing was broken, second it was not a cage bird, third it was not sick but probably in shock when my kid found it. I guess it had a close shave with some cat and somehow managed to escape. Or maybe my son scared the cat without noticing.

    My wife brought some seeds and we decided to keep it until this morning, let it feed, drink and get better, or die in peace if we had figured it all wrong.

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  • Chapter 12: we could be heroes

    Jul 9 • Uncategorized • 1391 Views

    Getaria and the mouse

    The mouse, the winding roads and the village of Getaria (fragment, click to see whole picture).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    The whale hunters

     

    There is a little spot in the Basque coast, a small fishing town nested between steep vineyard-covered hills and the sea. The coastline is unforgiving there, little more than a  wonderful winding road between sea and cliff that has been the background of many car TV ads when it is not being repaired because the storms in the Bay of Biscay have torn it apart in several places. Happens every winter.

    This little village, called Getaria is neighbor to the more famous town of Zarautz, host of the Surf WCT, twenty minutes away from San Sebastian, and less than an hour from the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. Next town westwards is Zumaia. We talked about the Flysch a few days ago.

    However, Getaria can be made out from far in the distance because of a peculiar peninsula in the shape of a mouse heading into the sea. European cities and villages normally have a shield of arms that represents them. Like all the coast villages of this old land the shield of Getaria depicts a whale. These people were whale hunting pioneers and for them it was a matter of pride, so it was reflected in their shields. The last whale was hunted by the Basque on May the 14th 1901. There is a song that commemorates the fact. However, I didn’t start this post to talk about the mouse, the coast or the whales. We can talk about whales some other time. I wanted to talk about heroes, past and present.

    And how we see them.

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  • Chapter 11: win a world championship

    Jul 7 • Uncategorized • 1062 Views

    FIFA World Cup Trophy

    The FIFA World Cup Trophy. As any other competition, a championship disputed by a lot of losers who happen to win once in a while (click to enlarge).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    Winning is all, a lose-lose situation

     

    The runner-up is the first of the losers. I hate that quote. I not only think it is utter crap, I also think it is bland, conformist and childish. It is a loser’s way to reinforce himself when he wins. I hate the world loser also the way it is normally used. Dividing the world into winners and losers is plain stupid, unfair and unreal. It is just another way to manipulate us into some behavioral conducts that are useful for some things, particularly to make us compete and to see all other as adversaries. That is very good for increasing production and to make us work harder, but not for living a balanced life. I buy none of it.

    I am a pretty self-centered person. I do not judge my efforts and my achievements in comparison to the rest of you human beings that fill the world. When it comes to determining my own value, you are all non-consequential, insects, amoebas. Even less. I do not give a damn how good or bad you all are. When we are talking about ME, you are just not a factor to take into account. When I have to determine my own value I only compare myself to myself. Am I doing fine? Am I doing better? Could I do better? Should I? Is it worth it?

    So why should I be satisfied just by defeating somebody? That doesn’t make me any better or worse than what I already was before. It does not say if that somebody and me are both good or both bad. Just who is better. A relative, meaningless information to me. Totally insufficient. If you really have some real self-esteem, that is.

    You see, I am already a world champion. I am the best myself in the world. So all that’s left for me to do is improve and never be totally satisfied, never surrender. Exactly your case also.

    Wanna win a world championship? Win yours.

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  • Chapter 10: no such thing as magic

    Jul 4 • Uncategorized • 4348 Views

    elven forest magic

    The Elven Forest (fragment). A place full of magic and wonder, where you can almost see the elves and fairies hiding just off the corner of your eye (click to see complete picture).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    Well we all know magic is bullshit, right?

    Or is it?

    I think magic exists. I consciously choose to. I have not seen anything magical in my whole life, no elves, no trolls, no wizards conjuring evil spirits… however I have seen the effects of magic. In my kids. C’mon, you are thinking, now that is cheating. And why should it be? My kids believe firmly in magic. It is part of their reality and fills their lives with a special light. That light illuminates my life indirectly, so  I live under the effects of magic. Therefore it exists. And I am part of it.

    I remember Christmas, when I was a kid. I would pick up presents in three different houses. The Three Kings would come to my house, Olentzero, the fat and dirty charcoal maker with a black beret and smoking pipe who brings presents to the Basque kids, would come to my uncle’s, and the child Jesus would come to the house of my other uncle. They would all leave presents. When the Three Kings came —Balthazar would bring mine— we would go early to bed in order not to catch them red-handed, because they would vanish to never return. We would leave wine and cookies for the Kings and bread for the camels. The following day we would find it all eaten and drunk up save a few bread crumbs, along with our presents and a letter telling us to behave better the following year. I had friends who knew before I did that it was our parents who took care of it all, and I would fight them in the school yard because they were telling lies. And I would have none of it.

    One day, my parents told me the truth. Christmas lost all its luster and remained pale, dull, material, until new kids arrived in the family. First my nephews, then my sons. And, with them, through them, magic returned in full force.

     

    Magical moments that never happened and I will never forget

     

    Some five years ago, I bought this vintage Playmobil castle  for my kids on eBay. Wonderful thing, It is funny how we get our kids all we couldn’t have or particularly loved, but that is another story. The thing is that it did not arrive in time for Christmas, so Olentzero left a note instead. He would bring the present as soon as he could… Continue Reading

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  • Chapter 9: countdown to extinction

    Jul 2 • Uncategorized • 29536 Views

     

    flysch, book of life, extinction

    The different strata tell us a story we should pay heed to (click to enlarge).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    There is something about Earth and extinction we do not get right

     

    I do not care much for “ecologists”. Wait, keep on reading,  let me explain. I like anti-ecologists even less. I like sensible and sensitive people. “Ecologists” and their nemesis usually defend extremes. If I had to take sides, I would side with the “ecologists”, but since I do not have to, I don’t. Ecologists, let me drop the quotes,  say we are a harmful species that is destroying the planet, as if we were not just the result of nature, as much as a green hummingbird or a daisy. The people they oppose are the big companies that thrive sucking on mother Earth’s resources with little or no concern for how it affects locally and globally. They want us to buy as much as we can afford and to work as hard as we can, so we are able to afford even more. They defend this harm is not proven, unimportant, unavoidable, or all three of them. And I think they are both dead wrong.

    My “dislike” for “ecologists”, and allow me to use quotes in both terms again, might come from the way they tend to focus in certain parts of reality while they freely ignore others. Also from the way they often express themselves so self-righteously. You cannot defend whales and then go home, crank the heater up, take your clothes off and walk barefoot while it snows outside and you scream outrage through your last generation laptop or smartphone. You are either fully responsible or you are not, and in the later case you are only acting to deceive your conscience. I think there is a lot of that. Ecologists also tend to patronize the earth, as if it depended on us. The fleas defending the dog.

    Companies, on the other hand, only respond to profit, and if numbers go everything goes. I do not need to stress this point because it is all too obvious. Our companies are destroying forests, ecosystems, societies, all over the third world, some of the second, and the first where they can get away with it, so I am not going to insist on that. They also spend a lot of money and effort in educating us so we are the sort of person they need: a blind consumer unit. It is called advertising. However, ecologists and companies have something in common: they are both largely  uncompromising, and they both operate with their backs turned away from reality.

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  • Chapter 8: how to avoid lousy Mondays

    Jun 30 • Uncategorized • 5542 Views

    Moonrise Moon Monday

    Monday is the day of the Moon. There’s some magic there we’re missing (click to enlarge).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    Monday again, damn…

     

    Monday. Weekend gone, five working days ahead before we are free again. Damn… I do not hate Mondays. I cannot allow myself the luxury of hating one seventh of my life. Time is too precious. However, I used to hate them. There are quite a few small and big things we can do to fix this, to hate Mondays less, not to hate them at all, or even to love them. Here’s a way that worked for me. Might work for you, or help you find your own way.

     

    Small fixes

     

    There are mainly three things you can do to take on Mondays with a whole different spirit. They are pretty obvious, but since  “obvious” is that thing it’s clear we should do but we don’t, I am gonna list them. They say bullets and lists are good for blogs, so here is mine. I should get a few thousands of  readers more. XD

     

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  • Chapter 7: love without cheese

    Jun 27 • Uncategorized • 1558 Views

    Love

    We all know of the significance of love, although we are ashamed to talk about it… (click to enlarge)

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    Another cheesy post about love? I hope not…

     

    There is this idea that to talk about feelings in general and love in particular, you have to be a cheesy romantic or a band singer. I don’t agree. I think one can be cheesy about absolutely anything and can also talk sensibly about absolutely everything. Let’s talk love. No cheese, please.

    When we say love we always understand romantic love. We picture a young couple falling in love for the first time. Well, that is not love. Love will come later. And before. Reducing love to falling in love is taking for granted too many things. Altough falling in love is great, and necessary, restricting love to this demeans the concept. A person who has just fallen in love is normally infatuated, blind and dumb, is not trustworthy, and usually makes people around smile in cheerful condescension.  Falling in love is like getting high on a powerfully emotional roller-coaster drug. So great if corresponded, agony if not. Black or white, no grays.  We all love and hate to see people in love. They are so dumb, so ridiculous and so absolutely happy. We remember, and we feel a tang of envy. Cannot be helped. And why should it? Falling in love is fun, intense, vivid, refreshing.

    Love, however, is something different. When I think of love, and there is not just one kind, I think of my kids. I love my wife, but I can imagine a future without her. I cannot imagine one without my kids. They changed me from head to toes, made me vulnerable where I was strong and strong where I was vulnerable and they made my life meaningful. They come to me, hug me tight and then forget all about it to go play with their clones or Transformers. They give me all their selfish love and take mine for granted, which is just as it should be. You see. Everything in our lives depends on love.

    Children that are raised in a loveless environment will lack emotionally and will usually have problems to cope. We are all made that way, me you, the richest guy in the world, or the President of the US of A. We all need love to grow up balanced, with the right amount of self-esteem and confidence and with joy for life. Take love of the equation and the balance goes overboard. We can get an education later, there are other needs that can be lost in the way and coped without to some extent, but a kid cannot be loved later. So, when we talk about love, let me get a little serious and forget all that crap about cheese. We cannot take love for granted.

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  • Chapter 6: our cherised women

    Jun 25 • Uncategorized • 4507 Views

    The Ancient Lady of Brassenpouy, symbol of women

    One of the many prehistoric traces of cult to women and femininity.

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    Women: the First religion?

     

    Prehistoric cavemen painted things they considered of interest. They painted all kinds of animals. There was something mystic about them, beyond the hunt. They also painted and carved women. Women were worshiped, it is believed, because they produced the magic of life. Figures called venus, with exaggerated feminine attributes,  have been found in caves all around Europe, often associated to red pigment, a sacred color. Blood. Life. We have worshiped women since before we know. Women have mystified men from the beginning of time, but we have made them pay. And we still do…

     

    Civilized? meet the numbers.

     

    A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds in the USA, and one in four will experience at least one incident of physical or sexual violence in their lives. Half of the women in Canada have had at least one incident since the age of 16. One in three women in the EU report  abuse since age of 15, with stats getting systematically worse as you move north from the typically considered sexist Mediterranean countries (one in five) into the more civilized northern states (about half). Countries usually considered “exemplary” are at the shameful head of these stats: Denmark, Sweden, Canada or Finland, followed by countries of huge cultural influence like the USA and the UK. Abuse is not concentrated in any particular segment of society. It is a scourge that transcends formal education, wealth, religion and race. We are obviously doing something terribly wrong at home, at school, in the courts and in the media. We call ourselves civilized, the vanguard of human civilization, while we look elsewhere and turn our backs on this screaming shame.

    We cannot be content because matters are even worse in some non-occidental countries. Our numbers are utterly shameful, our society is sick, and our pretended ignorance only adds to the problem.

    This cannot be tolerated.

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  • Chapter 5: art, artists and other human beings

    Jun 23 • Uncategorized • 1531 Views

     

    carved bison art

    Magdalenian carved bison. Some 15,000 years old. Art is as old, even older, than our own species (click to enlarge).

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    What is art and who is an artist?

     

    There seems to be a lot of controversy  around this question. The people who are supposed to “understand” and moreover, the people who think of themselves as “real” artists, are always trying to make a distinction between artists and non-artists, to draw a line to separate themselves from the rabble. Let me try and see if I manage to offer an unambiguous opinion: I think that is pure utter absolute crap. Who is an artist? The answer is pretty simple. We all are. Art is co-substantial to humanity. Are you human? well, there you go.

    OK, there is art that sells, art that is appreciated by other people, universal art, and art for personal joy, but it is all art nevertheless if it was created with an artistic spirit. Even if nobody likes it. I do not care if it turned out ugly or perfect, because art is subjective and what society thinks today about some artist or artwork might have nothing to do with what they will think in 200 years. Remember Van Gogh?

    I think art is the distilled essence of what makes us human. Art is art because of what we pour into it when we create. Art has nothing to do with the final outcome, but with the intention. Art can be exquisite, clumsy, ugly, rough, naive, uplifting, depressing, unnerving, bothersome, irking, soothing… art can be anything and nothing, and nobody has the authority to define what is and what is not art. Art is in everything, in the meals your mother cooks every day, and in the songs you hum while you are hanging clothes out to dry. Art is in the drawing you finger in the moisture of your own breath on a window pan, in the flower you carefully poise on your lover’s pillow. Nowhere, everywhere, anywhere.

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  • Chapter 4: I know you know, but just in case…

    Jun 20 • Uncategorized • 2261 Views

    I know you know - weston westmoreland

    Why is it so hard to speak our hearts in certain cases? (click to enlarge)

     

    If you want to know what this blog is about

    Talking too much and talking too little

     

    Most people are pretty capable of speaking their minds when they do not like something. In fact, many have no big problems edging on the side of rude. They seem to believe it shows character. These people confuse speaking freely with telling anyone what they think and what they should do. I do not agree.  There is a Chinese saying that goes “If you have nothing good to say, better keep quiet”. I follow this almost as a rule. Showing character is so much more complex than this, and includes self-respect, self-criticism and humility also.

    Feelings are a different kettle of fish. It seems speaking openly about feelings is unmanly, or cheesy. I believe speaking makes us human and everything must be said, with measure. Particularly the good things. We act that way with children, because we think they need it. As if we don’t. Who does not feel his heart lightened when a kid smiles at him or when getting one of these tight neck sore hugs? We all appreciate that warmth, still, many people constrain that behavior to children. And that is a shame. We all love to receive affection, we all, in fact, need to receive affection, but, what’s more, we all need to give affection. Muting that part of our feelings cripples us. And to do give and receive affection properly, we need to communicate.

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