31 Aug 2013

Random ramblings: catching up with an M.I.A. CrazyCris

First of all: THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the 5th Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Blog-A-Thon! There were some wonderful entries, and I'm so glad we could get together again to share our love for the oceans in our little corner of the blog-o-sphere! :o)

But that was almost 3 months ago... where did the time go?! :o(

And thus the title of this post. So... yeah. Sorry 'bout that! I've definitely been M.I.A. since World Oceans Day, and even for a bit before that! And sadly I don't think I'll be very active in the near future... although I promise to try!

And here's why! Good things and bad things.

Well, I guess it depends on what one considers bad... Getting a new job in this economy is a blessing! One where they pretty much take advantage of you because "Hey! There's a crisis! Just be glad you've got work and shut up about it." (by paying an insufficient salary and not compensating for the incredible amount of work hours you have to do at home to prepare for the regular work hours), not so good. It's a language academy and because we get paid by the hour we only get paid if we actually teach so... if you're sick and can't work... sorry (which resulted in me teaching several classes during a week in June and again in July when I was coughing up my lungs, NOT fun.)! And national holidays no pay because no classes taught, but of course they charge students for a full month which includes that day off! I realise to some people in the U.S. this might seem normal, but believe me in Spain it's bordering on the illegal (definitely the sick leave)! But once again we're supposed to simply be grateful we've got something... and that we're actually "declared" employees (so paying social security etc., not "off-the-books"). Like I said, lots of businesses are taking advantage of the current economic situation to give their employees really shitty contracts and work conditions. But hey! At least it's an "official" job, right? As opposed to being self-employed (which I was before, teaching "my" students at their houses, I still have a couple of those, love "my" kids and wouldn't drop them unless I absolutely had to!), which for some reason isn't taken quite seriously here... So for future job applications it looks a lot better on my C.V. that I am currently "officially" employed rather than "self-employed". *sigh* Hopefully something more interesting - and more reliable! - will present itself soon. Inch'Allah!

That new job started around Easter, just a few weeks after I started this crazy new project of doing an MBA via an online university! (like I said -> crazy!) Why did a biologist-oceanographer-English teacher decide to do an MBA? Well after much discussion with my more practically-minded father, we figured it would increase my chances in getting an interesting job in the non-research-academic world... because my C.V. is currently 100% research and teaching! I decided to forgo research several years ago (it's nearly impossible for even the most "relevant" projects -like cancer research- to get funding, for pure descriptive science like Biological Oceanography it's an impossible mission! And Universities are taking on more masters' and PhD students in lieu of lab technicians to get their work done, which means there are too many research graduates out there vying for the two jobs available, which you can't get unless you've published in top journals -good luck there!- and your boss is friends with "the right people". That or you're a genius whom everyone wants.) I want to get involved in conservation projects or environmental education, or something similar, and management experience seems to be required everywhere... but to get that experience you need to get hired... and people only hire you if you already have that experience! So here's to hoping the MBA will break that vicious circle and get me a foot in the door. It's all study at home online. But since it started just before my new job, and my new work schedule has made it difficult for me to keep up with the workload, that means doing it on weekends, when I'm not sick or at a wedding (it's been another crazy year for weddings!) or travelling! So for the past several months I've been playing "catch-up" with my coursework! pffffffft!

What else? Oh yeah! I caught some nasty bug at the beginning of June that had me coughing up my lungs for several weeks and going through a forest's-worth of kleenex... Could barely get my classes prepared and taught, nevermind studying and blogging, with my fuzzy brain! Then mid-July I caught another nasty case of the sniffles and coughing because of the A.C. at work so again, brain not functioning much that week! :o(  Those two bouts of stuffy nose combined with the crazy work schedule leading to being exhausted on weekends have resulted in almost no scuba diving this summer (boo!)

Now for the good (as in fun) reasons I've been M.I.A.: visitors and travelling and new hobbies!!! :o)

Ummm... right now I can't remember who visited me! woops! :p  I actually started this post in early July and have been adding bits to it every once in a while... Who was I talking about??? Oh dear! This must be the result of turning a year older last month... Darn! :o(

Travelling, yes! I had a wedding in Santander (northern Spain) in March with my crazy group of "Belgian" friends. Dunno if I mentioned that before... we had a BLAST! I was worried initially 'cause that's smack dab in the middle of "green" Spain, which is green for a reason (RAIN!!!) and March isn't the best time of year to go... But we had a gorgeously sunny weekend! Was so great getting together again to celebrate such a momentous occasion as a friend's wedding! :D

No genetic connection... or is there?
Then towards the end of April I headed up to England for another wedding, of two people I had never met! But they were close friends of some of my U.S. "family" (my aunt's sister and my cousin's cousin, but the two of us have decided we must be genetically related because we have waaaay too much in common!) with whom I'd been talking a lot on Facebook for the past couple of years and wanted to meet in person! So I met up with them for a weekend in England, got to join them for the wedding in one of those sumptuous English manor houses, hang out and talk A LOT, and join in on a visit to Glastonbury (Arthurian lands, yay!!!).

Three lovely ladies ready for a fancy wedding

Two sisters and a cousin

No travelling (except to the neighbouring town), but I had another wedding here in Altea (my mom's hometown) the second weekend of May! My sister's best friend this time, and she flew down from England to be here the whole wedding week (she was one of the unofficial bridesmaids -they don't do bridesmaids in Spain) and one of my cousins flew over from Mallorca also to join in. (aha! Two of those visitors I couldn't remember!)

And now I remember the third visitor! lol! The day I took my sister and cousin to the airport to fly "home", an hour later I picked up a French friend flying in from England who was coming to do a week-long statistics course! Busy, busy, busy! :p

And finally I skipped out on Hogueras in Alicante this year to head up to Nancy (north-eastern France) for a surprise birthday weekend for one of my closest friends who was turning 40. I celebrated like crazy with her when she turned 30, I was there for her PhD, I was there for her wedding, I was there for plenty of other milestones... NO WAY was I missing her 40th!!! So plane to Belgium, busses down to Luxemburg and then France. And voilà! And intense and crazy and fabulous weekend! Which was of course exhausting but well worth it! :o)

No more travelling since then. Just lots of work in July, and more than I expected in August... Plus in August I let myself get "dragged" into the madness that was Geocaching.com's "31 Days of Geocaching" challenge! Or as the people here in Alicante dubbed it "Un Agosto de Geolocura" (translates as a "Geocrazy August"). The challenge was to go out and find a geocache or attend a geocaching event every day of the month. And you know me... crazy challenge? Of course I accept! And passed it with flying colours!!! With the added advantage that it allowed me to meet a bunch of other crazy people in Alicante who play this game and hang out at some fun events (including a sunrise breakfast on the beach, a sunset dinner on the beach and a waterballoon fight!). You'll read more about it here... eventually! :p

More fun stuff? Well I think I've probably seen almost all the major summer blockbusters in the cinema! My dad and I have really enjoyed some of them (Man of Steel, The Lone Ranger, World War Z...) and wondered what the hell was the point of some of the others (Pacific Rim, After Earth...). We've still got Matt Damon's new movie left (for this week) and then I think we'll probably have a very slow month or two until the "serious" films start up again...

I'd like to say I'll be writing more... I would if I could figure out how to plug my brain directly into the computer and just "think" my posts while I'm getting other work done! :o( But I need to spend the next couple of weeks (have very few classes at the Academy until "school" starts and parents bring their kids back) catching up on MBA work and doing some housework. Stuff I was going to do in August but the unexpected extra classes and the geocaching outings left me with less time than I had expected...

Wow! 3 months no writing leads to a really loooooong post! Sorry 'bout that!

Here's a question: does anyone know of a good app for the iPhone for blog reading? I've got the Blogger app that lets me write posts on the phone, but I need something that I can put my blogroll in so I can read YOUR posts while I'm out and about! I don't have as much time available on my computer as before and I haven't read almost any blog posts in months! Would be much simpler if I had a list of links/updates I could access from my phone... Any recommendations?

BFFs together again!
Woah! How could I forget this visitor?! Going through my photos to choose some for this post I realised who was THE big visitor this past Spring!!! My best friend from high school whom I hadn't seen in almost 7 years! She and her husband were doing a short holiday (a rest from work and small twins who were left in the grandparents' care) to visit the south of Spain (Granada-Cordoba-Sevilla) and managed to sneak in a quick detour to Alicante! We were so excited to see each other again! And my parents were also really happy as they hadn't seen her since she came to spend Christmas with us in 1997!!!

Voilà. And now I'm really done with this post. How many people actually made it to the end??? :p


  1. Me! I made it to the end and enlarged all your pictures to look at the cool dress-up clothes you are wearing. I tried The Old Reader for my blogroll but it kept crashing, so now I simply use the Blogger dashboard. You just go to the orange "B" and click on it, and it will bring up your blog information and reading list. It works just fine.

    And welcome back, stranger! It's great to see your smiling face once again.

    1. Dressing up for that wedding was LOTS of fun! Even better though was admiring all the headgear the other ladies were wearing that day! ;o)

      I've always used the Blogger Dashboard to follow the blogs I read, problem is it isn't accessible in the Blogger app! :o(

  2. I made it to the end. I always do because I love reading what you have to say.

    Sounds as though you have had a mad time. I have as well and have guilty about the fact that I haven't posted nearly enough on my blog or Billie's, but I have to sleep sometime!

    Glad to see that you were able to get some fun things in the mix this summer! And, stay healthy, my friend.

    1. I guess summer is a good time to disappear from the internet and live a little in the real world... even if that life means being crazy busy and have just a little bit of fun... The weather is definitely more conducive to staying out late, and when one gets home one is too tired to sit down and write... ;o)

  3. Holy smokes!!! You've been CRAZY busy. Glad to see you back - if only for a short period of time. Hopefully the work thing works out for you. The MBA certainly won't do you any harm having it on your resume. Good luck with with too! Take care...

    1. Hey Dive Girl! I've thought about you this summer... because of how little diving I've done! The couple of dives I did I was thinking beforehand "If this is a really cool dive I need to write it up 'cause I know someone who will be really interested in it!" Sadly they were "blah" dives...

      One of the reasons I haven't tried harder to go out diving is that my next dive will be my 100th!!! So I'm trying to find something really special to celebrate... ;o)

  4. Wow - you have been busy. Most of all, I'm glad you're feeling better.

    I'm using Bloglovin for my reader on my I pad. I don't like it quite as much as I did google reader, but it's a close second.

    1. Ok, so I've set up Bloglovin and am using the app which so far I like for the reading and updates part... But I'm still stuck with a a BIG problem: I can't comment!!! booo!!! :o(
      I don't want to read a post and not be able to leave a comment, not nice! Damn Safari on the iPhone doesn't give me an option to log into the Google ID (but it would if I were using Wordpress or OpenID). I wonder if Apple and Google are having a spat? grrrr

  5. Ah, the joys of trying to get academic work........!

  6. It sounds like you had a fabulous (and occasionally unfabulous) summer! I just use Safari on my phone, but only once in a while, and then I'm always accidentally swiping and going back a post, which is annoying.


Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)