16 Nov 2014

Missing (in Action): a crazy redheaded blogger!

Action is definitely the operative word! I've been M.I.A. precisely because of that A! Very busy, with little or no time left to write! Well, I do have the evenings at home, but I get in so late and so tired that all I want to do is grab a quick bite for dinner, veg out for an hour in front of the boob tube, and go to bed!

So far in 2014 I've managed to publish every month (even if it was just once, pathetic!) up until August. Then silence through September and October. I actually have several drafts started, things I was excited about when they happened and wanted to share, but then couldn't find the time to finish writing them! :(

23 Aug 2014

Yay for regular maintenance!

It's a good thing mandated regular maintenance exists... Or the surprise I got this week when the hot water heater guy came by could have been MUCH worse later down the line... I mentioned that it didn't seem to be working well, not heating as much, trouble starting sometimes cutting off (in the middle of a shower!)... Not fun! So he started knocking on the chimney, and then asked me if I'd seen birds coming in and out... 

Check out what happened when he took it apart:

Nesting material, including a couple of tiny unhatched eggs.

The nesting material went waaay down the vertical pipe too!

Damn swallows! Now I'm going to have go find some kind of mesh thingy to put around this before the birds come back and start all over again...

So this dipping my toes back into the blogging world seems to be progressing by millimeters! Lots of extra work to wrap up before I stopped for vacation, visitors during the holiday so not much time there... and LOTS of time spent with wedding organization! My sister's getting married here in Alicante in 2 weeks, and as she lives in the US, well that means lots of help on the family's part! So still not much time for the next 2 weeks... But I do plan on finding some time to work on the photos I took today while diving over a 2000 year-old Roman wreck! ;o)

28 Jul 2014

Pond scum as a guide to evolution?

Guess what folks?! I'm slooowly (but surely!) dipping my toes back into the blogging world! There's this thing called "free time" that has suddenly reappeared on my schedule, albeit admittedly in small doses. Still, it's better than nothing, right?

Today's return is to point you to a very interesting article published in the "Santa Fe New Mexican" (local newspaper I'm guessing). Some weird guy (who I have absolutely no connection to, nope, never heard of him, just some random dude... well, he might be about to marry my sister in 5 1/2 weeks...), as I was saying this crazy guy (must be crazy to marry into this family!) has spent approximately the past decade microbial organisms (single-celled algae etc.) and thus obviously knows quite a bit on the topic!

I'm rambling... must be all that time without blogging. Dunno how to write anymore! :p

Anyhow, VERY interesting and quirky article:

Science in a Complex World: Pond scum offers clues to life’s puzzles

See you around! ;o)

8 Jun 2014

Dive 100 at Benidorm Island


I wish I could have gone "all out" for World Oceans Day this year, written several posts and launched the 6th Oceanic Blog-A-Thon... but sometimes life just gets in the way of blogging. In this case an interesting but intense new job, final English classes before my students' finals, and the beginning of the end of an MBA. Busy doesn't begin to cover my life at the moment! But I did manage to squeeze in a bit of time to put this together...

For World Oceans Day this year I'm going to share my 100th dive with I did about 6 weeks ago on the north face of Benidorm Island (one of my frequent dive spots). I've seen the seabeds around this island (and around other parts of the coast) change in the past 15 years since I've been diving, and not always for the better. The impact of human activities can be seen almost everywhere, resulting sometimes in a change of dominant species in an ecosystem. 

6 Jun 2014

Ghostly whale for World Oceans Day

Have you ever seen any of the Kiwi (New Zealand) videos on YouTube about the beached whale? They're quite funny! Here's the first (enjoy the accents):

Well apparently the creators have gone and killed their whale for World Oceans Day!!! Poor guy ate too much plastic... I can't seem to embed it, so go see it here.

Well, let's see if this works (embedding):
<iframe frameborder="0" width="100%" height="100%" src="http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid2321945773001/?bctid=3608261666001" ></iframe>

Sunday June 8th is World Oceans Day!!! And sadly this year I don't think I'll have time to do anything... After 5 straight years of Oceanic Blog-A-Thon... *sob* I'll see if I can find time to put something up.

Remember to "Wear Blue and Tell Two"! ;o)

31 May 2014

300+ years of Plantagenet England with Sharon Kay Penman

The Plantagenets were the longest reigning dynasty in English history, beginning with Henry II in 1154 and ending with Richard III in 1485. Just about anyone who has a passing familiarity with English history and culture is familiar with several of their names i.e. Richard the Lionheart, King John (although most people are more familiar with him as "Evil Prince John"), Edward I "Longshanks" (thank you Braveheart), and the often maligned "Crookback Dick" a.k.a. Richard III (a victim of Tudor propaganda, 'cause history is written by the victors, right?). And oh so many more in between.

Ok, so they weren't all called Plantagenets by their contemporaries... the first three Plantagenet kings were called the Angevins (as in from the house of Anjou -they were the Dukes of Anjou, Normandy and Aquitaine in France, and they were really more French than English), and towards the end it was a dispute (the "War of the Roses" or "Cousins' War") between the rival Plantagenet houses of Lancaster (red rose) and York (white rose), but they were all (Henri II, Richard I, John I, Henry III, Edward I, Edward II, Edward III, Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI, Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III) direct descendants of Geoffroi le Bel, Duc d'Anjou, who -according to legend- used to wear a broom flower on his hat thus earning the soubriquet Plantagenet (from the Latin Planta genista). Oh, and according to legend his family was either descended from Lucifer or from a river goddess Mélusine (or both!), which was supposed to explain their nasty explosive tempers... :p

Sharon Kay Penman first delved into the lives of this epically dysfunctional family with the last of its kings, Richard III, in her first novel The Sunne in Splendour way back in 1982 (yes I'm just discovering her now, well last summer technically, better late than never!). As the story goes, the only copy of her original manuscript was stolen from her car and she had to start all over again! 

18 May 2014

Happy Birthday Nutella!!!

Apparently the fabulously delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread turns 50 today(?)! Although, as a result of all those years spent in Belgium, my current favourite spreadable guilty pleasure is Côte d'Or's Noir de Noir chocolate (dark chocolate! yummy), for years it was most definitely the chocolate-hazelnut delight that is Nutella! :o)

There's an interesting article on the origins of Nutella on the BBC website. I remember that I had no idea it was made by the Ferrero company (that's what I get for not reading labels), and that my sister and I figured it out by doing a tasting test of our own to compare Nutella with the chocolate inside the Ferrero Rochers and deciding it was the same so the same company must have made them. Just one of the many wacky things we "experimented" with growing up. :p

22 Apr 2014

A Happy Alicante makes me smile!

Ooh! This put a smile on my face this morning, watching these people dance around Alicante! :o)

Although to be fair I've been smiling for 4 days now, I've got friends visiting from Belgium and we're out and about in the sun all day! (must remember that sunscreen, whoops!)

I hope everyone had a Happy Easter!

8 Apr 2014

A "poopy" reminder for World Oceans Day!

World Oceans Day is only 2 months away!!! :o)

As hectic as the past year has been (and as unsure as things are right now), I'm not 100% sure if I'll be able to do something to mark the occasion this year... although I sure as hell am going to try! So start thinking about the Oceanic Blog-A-Thon just in case. What do our Oceans do for you, and what can you do for our oceans?!

In the meantime, do go read this very interesting and funny story about the importance of whale poop in the Oceans! :D

from NPR

7 Apr 2014

A Musical Smile from a Galaxy Far, Far, Away

One of my favourite restaurants in the neighbourhood (Ghetto Vecchio), has local bands come in to play a set the first Sunday of every month. This Sunday was a Swing and Jazz band called "Petit Comité" that had a good rythm, a singer with a great voice (albeit not so great accent when singing in English, but oh well, this is Spain!) and a fabulous clarinet. We really enjoyed their set, and that always puts me in a good mood, but what put a huge grin on my face was when they said they were going to take us on a little trip, to a cantina on some backwater planet with two suns in a galaxy far, far away... I couldn't stop myself from quickly pulling out my cellphone to make this video!

Want to see the actual smile? here:

Well, technically that's the smile from the very beginning of the set... since I'm usually the photographer there are no pictures of me during the set, I was too busy enjoying the music! :o)

5 Apr 2014

Something to smile about :)

Like these "hospital" clowns (Payasospital, a group of "clowns" who go do acts in the childrens' wards in Alicante's hospitals) on stage during a benefit gala "Lola Busca Nueva Imagen" to raise funds for an association which helps children with cancer and their families.

The images don't really do them justice (you're missing all the sound effects done by the guy with the guitar, he's also got a tambourine taped to his belly!), but clown cowboys? Definitely goofy! The auditorium was roaring with laughter. Me included, and I'm not a fan of clowns! :p

The rest of the show was good too (several local rock bands, a couple of "modeling" shows by girls belonging to a couple of the Hogueras), and you could tell all the people who volunteered their time and effort for this benefit were having a blast. And that my friends is contagious! Made for a lovely Thursday evening, and helped out a good cause to boot! :o)

29 Mar 2014

Random movie ramblings...

Is it just me or is the "movie summer" (as in season of blockbuster bonanza) starting earlier and earlier? With Captain American out this weekend, Noah next weekend and Spiderman in 2 weeks... and I believe Divergent came out recently in the U.S. (out in Spain in a few weeks), it kind of feels like summer in the movies! Now if only the weather would follow suit...

Or maybe the suits in Hollywood have finally realised that if you make a decent film that people want to see, then it doesn't really matter when it comes out! Unless of course you put it up against the release of another movie people want to see even more, but that's another story. :p

Dunno, I'm just happy the movie scene has a bit more options than several years ago... 

I took my dad to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier today (he's a fan of Cap', although he says he might be finally outgrowing "superhero movies"), and it was a blast! Sure, it's the usual "blow lots of stuff up and have lots of fight scenes" blockbuster, but with witty banter, great actors and a good sense of humour. And I loved the idea behind the main plot (which I won't give away 'cause it would spoil it for you, you'll find out about halfway in) and the not so veiled critique at our modern information/surveillance society.

Another thing: I think Marvel is doing an amazing job at weaving this cinematic universe of theirs together! Each film is different threads on that tapestry, all of them linked together one way or another (some pretty obviously, others more subtly). Whoever was the architect behind this, kudos!

Oh, and stick around until the veeeery end of the credits! As usual with Marvel films there are post-credit scenes which give you a clue of what's coming next... Two scenes, one halfway through the credits, the other at the very end. I'm guessing one is a clue for the next Avengers moving being filmed right now, the other possibly for Captain America 3 in a few years. I don't know anything about the comics, so the first scene didn't really "clue me in" on the next story, but I did enjoy the second one, was a nice little moment!

Now I'm quite curious to see how the events in this film are going to impact the Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series... ;o)

22 Mar 2014

Something to smile about

It's been a crazy past several months, very hectic with lots of things to worry about and an insane amount of work... And it's not going to calm down until the summer. *sigh* But something that's helped, and always helps, is just finding simple little things that make you smile. Well, at least it has worked for me.

Like this afternoon in the local ice cream place, watching a boy from my neighborhood I have seen playing with the other kids in the pool downstairs these past two summers, getting an ice cream cone for a friend of his. A sweet little exchange between boy and girl that could be the beginning of something else. Adorable! :o)

Or receiving a long anticipated book in the mail... And anticipating the pleasure of cracking the cover and losing myself in the pages within.

And let's not forget the joys of not coughing after doing so for 5+ weeks non-stop! ;o)

There are lots of things to smile about you just have to stop and take a moment to notice them. And I'm going to try and remember to take a moment and share more of them here this Spring. See you around! :o)

28 Feb 2014

Random (icky) Ramblings

Not to sound negative or anything... but I HATE coughing! It's painful, it's icky, it can feel paralyzing at times. On the other hand... spend 4 weeks coughing and you can be pretty sure your abs are getting a good workout! :p

I've been dealing with a stupid cough for 4 WEEKS now! Started off some silly "kiddy" cough (you know the kind "Mommy I'm sick *cough, cough*"), then the throat got more and more irritated so after several days of lots of honey in everything a trip to the doctor ensued. "Just a superficial dry cough, have some cough syrup and ibuprofen to fight the inflammation". But of course the cough evolved, got a bit deeper, coughing fits lasted a bit longer and sometimes had me folded in two hoping that when I stopped coughing my back wouldn't be frozen in that position forever. Tiny mucus droplets started getting coughed up. *sigh* So after finishing up the cough syrup it was back to the doctor. "Breathe deep. Hmm... I think I hear something in the lungs, but it's not very clear. You should go to the medical specialists building downtown and have them do an X-ray, stat! Then come back and see me -today if possible- to discuss the results." So downtown I go, spend a couple of hours waiting, get the X-ray, go back to the doc (I love the fact they can see the results online right away!) and he says "Good news: you don't have pneumonia!" Whaaat?! That was even an option?! After my mom fighting that off for 2 months I don't want to even hear that word again! "You've got some mucus in one of your lungs" okaaaay. "Here, take antibiotics for a week and an expectorant". A week of medicine later, feeling much better, but not quite there yet. But work schedule and doctor's schedule kind of get in the way of each other, so we'll wait a few more days to see if this keeps improving. But noooo, instead of continuing to get better the cough decides to get worse again! GRRRRRR!!! And now it looks like the nose wants to join in on the fiesta. BLOODY HELL!!!! FOUR STUPID WEEKS OF COUGHING AND NOW THE NOSE?!?!?!?!?!

Seems like I've got this year's fabulous viral infection, which other years is just a nasty cold, ending in a stupid cough... but this year appears to be a never-ending cough. *sigh* My body is starting to really have trouble dealing with it, so bloody tired... But on the plus side: stronger abdominal muscles! :p

Monday I start work at 1pm, guess who I'll go visit in the a.m.? Yup! My GP again! 3rd visit in 4 weeks... I'd only seen him 3 times in the past 2 years prior to this! 

*grumble, grumble*

On the blogging side of things... still quiet in CrazyCris blogging land. 8h/day of work, plus several English classes a week ('cause crazy me didn't want to "abandon" some of my students who needed help), plus trying to stay afloat with the MBA work, plus an occasional Sunday hike or movie... No time for the blogs!!! SO SORRY!!! I miss you guys tons, promise! But any obvious "free time" I have I need to reserve for the MBA work. My schedule should lighten up a bit in May (and a lot more after June), so I'll be back in full by the summer! Until then... sporadic visits. *sob*

Hope everyone is well! And not coughing up their lungs like grumpy ol' me. ;o) 

Now excuse me while I go cough some more. :o(

26 Jan 2014

Water and rocks, a relaxing Sunday walk

Slowly things are getting back to normal, whatever that is! My mom is steadily getting better, I'm catching up little by little on all the stuff I'm behind on, and I finally hit the trails again last week and went hiking! That post will have to wait a bit 'cause I need more time to edit the photos and do some research on the really cool 300-400 year old dam we saw (and climbed)! ;o)

This morning was truly gorgeous. 18ºC, nice warm sun (but chilly breeze). Perfect to go for a stroll along the Cabo and breathe in the sea! 

Clambering up and down the rocks to get close to the water...

Examining the rock face for fossils,

4 Jan 2014

Fear, come and... gone?

So I haven't really written anything in over two months, have I? Well, in a way I did. This post got put together in bits and pieces during that time. Some writing, lots of deleting. Trouble finding the right words. Avoidance of a difficult topic... Lots of writing done elsewhere and not wishing to repeat it (which was the main reason for said writing in the first place, to avoid the painful repetition of the information it contained orally to a thousand and one people with constant questions).