Friday, May 28, 2004

Having a look at the type of search in google which took surfers to my blog, I see that 'what is a birmingham?' is still very very popular. Now, let me clarify it again : I don't know what is a birmingham. No idea. I can only say there is a Birmingham in Alabama. I've seen it. That's what I call 'the power of music'... if you are a first reader in this blog, I refer you to one of my posts from January.

Le he echado una ojeada a las estadisticas, en concreto a las palabras o cadenas de palabras que se han usado en google que han traido visitantes. La busqueda 'what is a birmingham?' (que es un birmingham? en ingles) sigue siendo muy popular. Pues que quede bien claro, lo digo de nuevo : Que no, no tengo ni idea de lo que es un birmingham. Pero ni idea, eh? Solo se que hay una ciudad llamada Birmingham en Alabama. Lo se a ciencia cierta, porque he estado alli. Y que luego hablen del poder de la musica...y si has llegado aqui por primera vez y no sabes de que carajo estoy hablando, echa una ojeadita a mis posts de enero.

The weather today:
UV Index: 6 Moderate
Wind: From the South Southeast at 10 mph
Dew Point: 6C
Humidity: 45%
Visibility: 6 miles
Barometer: 1,024.0 mb

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Something I've never done in this blog: post jokes! And not only that, but bad jokes! How daring!!!

I was clearing out the attic the other day when I found an old
violin and an oil painting, so I took them to be valued. "What you've
got here", said the valuer, "is a Van Gogh and a Stradivarius.
"Great", I said. "How much are they worth?" "Not a lot", he said.
"Stradivarius was a lousy painter and Van Gogh made terrible violins".

"Doctor, I've broken my arm in 4 places."
"Don't go to those places."

Lo nunca visto en este blog : postear chistes! Y ademas, malos. Que osadia que tengo!

El otro dia estaba ordenando el desvan y me encontre un violin viejo y una pintura al oleo. Los lleve a un anticuario, quien me dijo que eran un Van Gogh y un Stradivarius.
"Genial!" dije yo "Y cuanto me daran por ellos?"
"No mucho" dijo el anticuario "Stradivarius pintaba fatal y los violines de Van Gogh desafinaban".

"Doctor, me he roto en brazo en 4 lugares distintos".
"No vaya a esos lugares".
Oh yes. Holidays again. The big and only theme in this blog. We just came back from the US on the 9th May and we have already organised our next trip. This will take place from the 28th August to the 11th September. This time we are flying to Barcelona and renting a car. From Barcelona we will drive to the South of France, along the Riviera and to Italy. According to the rough plan we've drafted, we will drive down to Rome, stopping in our way in Siena and Pisa. After Rome we will head North again, possibly stopping in some of these : Florence, Verona, Vicenza or Venice. I've been to all of them except for Rome but SD has only been in Venice, so it's up to SD to choose the cities to visit, I guess. After that, we will drive North again, with Switzerland in mind. After whatever it is that we can see of interest in Switzerland, down again to Barcelona to return the rental car and fly back home. Oh yes. Guess where are we going in Xmas and for a 3 week holiday. Yes. The US. This trip to Switzerland and Italy is just a little fish for our big mouths.

Ah si. Vacaciones otra vez. El gran tema de este blog. Puf puf puf. Justo acabamos de volver de los USA el 9 de mayo y ya hemos organizado las proximas vacaciones. El viaje tendra lugar del 28 de agosto al 11 de septiembre. Esta vez volamos a Barcelona donde alquilaremos un coche. Desde Barcelona conduciremos por el Sur de Francia, a lo largo de la Riviera hasta Italia. El plan general -aun no hemos entrado en detalles- es conducir hasta Roma, parando para visitar Siena y Pisa. A la vuelta, probablemente visitaremos una o varias de estas ciudades : Florencia, Verona, Vicenza o Venecia. Yo las he visitado todas excepto Roma, pero SD solo ha estado en Venecia, asi que la decision final de que ciudades visitar corre a cargo de SD. A continuacion subiremos hasta Suiza y despues de dar una ojeada general, volveremos a Barcelona para devolver el coche de alquiler y volar a casa. Ah..alguna idea de a donde iremos en Navidad y durante 3 semanas? Hombre, pues si. Los USA otra vez. Este viajecito a Suiza e Italia es solo para hacer boca.

The weather today:
Partly Cloudy
UV Index: 4 Low
Wind: From the East at 6 mph
Dew Point: 7C
Humidity: 55%
Visibility: 6 miles
Barometer: 1,024.0 mb

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The irony of it... I spent years trying to convert long and irrelevant notes taken in Spanish meetings into (slightly) shorter and relevant I try to make the minutes longer as my two-page minutes taken at British meetings seem to me too short!

Ironias de la vida....Me pase anios intentando hacer que anotaciones largas e irrelevantes que habia tomado en el curso de reuniones de trabajo en Espania fueran unas minutas (mas) cortas y coherentes...y ahora intento alargar las cortas minutas de dos paginas que resultan de una reunion en Gran Bretania!

The weather today:
Partly Cloudy
UV Index: 6 Moderate
Wind: From the East Southeast at 15 mph
Dew Point: 10C
Humidity: 68%
Visibility: Unlimited
Barometer: 1,019.6 mb

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Right. Weird things also happen in the United Kingdom. I think this piece of news in 'The News' will deter many of you from taking your holidays in England!
"When the train driver asked the way. The latest excuse for late arrival left even the most hardened of rail travellers stunned. Dozens of passengers heading to Portsmouth Harbour were shocked when, after 30 minutes of delays, a message from the driver came over the train's loudspeaker at Woking: 'If there is a train driver on board who knows the way to Portsmouth could he please come to the cab.'Passenger John Trewby, of Sheet, near Petersfield, said: 'It was an announcement that surely beats all others for destroying passenger confidence.' A South West Trains spokesman said the train's warning system – which makes trains stop at red signals – had apparently come on when there was no need, leaving the driver confused as to which route to take. He explained: 'The driver needed assistance and drivers can only get help from colleagues who are trained for their route. 'Usually, they use a telephone – making an announcement to passengers is unusual."
It occurred to me the train driver may had been watching too many airplane disaster movies....

OK. Tambien hay noticias raras en el Reino Unido. El siguiente articulo, extraido del periodico 'The News' seguro que os lo hara pensar dos veces antes de venir de vacaciones a Inglaterra :
'El conductor del tren pregunto la direccion. El ultimo grito en excusas para los retrasos de trenes dejo atonitos incluso a los mas avezados pasajeros. Decenas de pasajeros con destino Portsmouth Harbour tuvieron el shock de sus vidas cuando, después de 30 minutos de retraso parados en la estacion de Woking, el conductor transmitio el siguiente mensaje por megafonia :: 'Si un conductor de tren que sepa el camino a Portsmouth se encuentra en el tren, haga el favor de venir a la cabina". El pasajero John Trewby de Sheet, localidad cercana a Petersfield, dijo: 'Este aviso bate todos los records de sistemas para perder la confianza de los clientes'. Un portavoz de South West trains dijo que el sistema de emergencia del tren, que hace que se pare ante semaforos en rojo, se activo sin razon aparente, confundiendo al conductor quien no pudo distinguir la ruta que debia tomar. El mismo portavoz explico : 'El conductor precisaba la ayuda de otro conductor con probada experiencia en la misma ruta. Normalmente, solicitan ayuda con una llamada telefonica. Los avisos a pasajeros son de lo mas inusual".
Se me ocurre que el conductor del tren habra visto demasiadas peliculas de desastres aereos...

The weather today:

Mostly Cloudy
UV Index: 4 Low
Wind: From the South Southeast at 8 mph
Dew Point: 9C
Humidity: 59%
Visibility: 10 miles
Barometer: 1,021.0 mb

Monday, May 24, 2004

Car crashes in New Zealand have 'that' typical flavour too... I read in the New Zealand Herald : "A man was yesterday admitted to a psychiatric unit in Auckland after leaping from a stolen car and performing a haka (maori dance, see photo above) in the middle of a busy Glen Eden street. The 30-year-old man, wearing only trackpants, began the haka after losing control of the stolen Toyota Rav 4 while driving at speed along West Coast Rd, police said. The man made several dangerous passing manoeuvres while travelling west, before hitting a Mitsubishi GTO on the corner of Captain Scott Rd and losing control of the vehicle, they said. Several oncoming cars had to swerve off West Coast Rd to avoid being hit. The man was arrested for disorderly behaviour after refusing to stop the haka and causing disruption to traffic ". That's something, I say. I can't wait to move to New Zealand!

Lo que decia...las noticias mas extranias vienen de Nueva Zelanda. Leo en el New Zealand Herald: "Un hombre fue internado ayer en la unidad psiquiatrica de Auckland despues de saltar en medio de la calle Glen desde un coche robado y efectuar un 'haka' (tipica danza maori, ver foto arriba). El hombre, de 30 anios de edad, quien llevaba solo pantalones de chandal, empezo a bailar en la calle despues de alcanzar gran velocidad y perder el control del Toyota Rav 4 que previamente habia robado, informo la policia. El delincuente adelanto peligrosamente a varios coches mientras viajaba hacia el oeste de la ciudad, acabando con el choque contra un Mitsubishi GTO en la esquina de la calle Captain Scott. Varios coches tuvieron que efectuar maniobras peligrosas en la calle West Coast para evitar un choque directo. El delincuente fue arrestado por conducta desordenada, despues de negarse a parar de bailar el 'haka' en medio de la calle, lo que causo una gran congestion de trafico". Toma ya, digo yo. No veo el dia de irme a vivir a Nueva Zelanda!

The weather today:
Mostly Cloudy
UV Index: 2 Minimal
Wind: From the West Southwest at 12 mph
Dew Point: 14C
Humidity: 77%
Visibility: 9 miles
Barometer: 1,024.4 mb

Friday, May 21, 2004

Traveller? Tourist? Visitor? Nowadays one doesn't know how to call themselves, considering the implications of adopting any of these terms. There was a time when all of us, when travelling abroad on holidays, were tourists. But soon the 'discerning' visitors decided to call themselves 'travellers' to state the difference with the herds of other foreign visitors on tourist resorts who spent their days on the beach getting red as lobsters and their nights drinking the cheap local wine and dancing in tacky nightclubs. The 'discerning' visitors -travellers- would, on the contrary, go to remote villages not even known by the locals (!!), eat and drink exquisite local food and visit museums and art galleries. Curiously enough, 'travellers' are not very well welcomed by British citizens. Because, sadly, 'traveller' in the UK implies gipsies, New Age freaks and bohemians travelling with caravans, staying in the local countryside without paying any fees to the landowner and dumping lots of rubbish before their departure (prompted by the local's protests and the police intervention!). The other possibilty, then, is using the term 'visitor'. But isn't 'visitor' too general? A visitor does not exactly imply a holidaymaker, it's not good enough, I would say, if we want to be precise.

So how does one call oneself? Sometimes I think tourist. Other times I think traveller. But not the 'discerning' tourist type or these new types, who go and 'help' people in Third World countries while on holiday. When I say 'traveller' I mean 'the person who travels'. And we do that. And we love it. We love driving miles and miles, crossing a country from North to South or from East to West. It is great to see the Grand Canyon, for instance, but the miles we've driven to get there are part of it and they give sense to the landmark. The journey is as important (sometimes even more important!) than the destiny. Every gas station, every restaurant or junk food outlet, every sign announcing we are entering a new state is remarcable. We love the journey. MOving from here to there. Travelling. That's why I call ourselves travellers.

Viajero? Turista? Visitante? Hoy en dia un@ no sabe como llamarse, en vista de las implicaciones de adoptar cualquiera de estos terminos. Habia una epoca en que cuando se viajaba fuera de casa, en vacaciones, se era turista. Pero bien pronto los visitantes 'cultos' decidieron llamarse a si mismos 'viajeros'(que no 'viajantes' no sea que les confundieran con viajantes de comercio!) para marcar la diferencia con los rebanios de los 'otros' visitantes, los que se pasaban los dias en un resort turistico, en la playa quemandose como gambas de dia y bebiendo sangria barata en las discotecas horteras de noche. Por el contrario, los visitantes 'cultos' -los 'viajeros'-, se alojarian en pueblecitos remotos desconocidos incluso por los lugarenios (!!), comerian y beberian las exquisiteces locales y visitarian museos y galerias de arte. Curiosamente, a los 'viajeros' no se les recibe precisamente con los brazos abiertos en Gran Bretania. Porque, lamentablemente, 'viajero' ('traveller' en ingles)en el Reino Unido quiere decir gitanos, New Age excentricos y bohemios con roulottes, acampados en terrenos sin el permiso del duenio, con acumulacion de montones de basura y desperdicios hasta que se largan, motivados por la presion policial y los furiosos vecinos.
Nos queda pues, el termino 'visitante' es visitante demasiado general? Un visitante no implica exactamente una persona que esta de vacaciones fuera de su casa. Si queremos exactitud, 'visitante' no nos sirve.

Asi que...como nos llamamos a nosotros mismos? SD y yo nos llamamos, a veces, turistas. Otras veces, viajeros, y me inclino por este ultimo termino la mayoria de las veces. Pero no me refiero a los visitantes 'cultos' o a los que ahora van a 'ayudar' a paises del tercer mundo durante las vacaciones. Cuando digo viajero, pienso en una 'persona que viaja'. Porque eso es lo que hacemos. Y nos gusta. Mucho. Nos gusta conducir millas y mas millas, cruzando un pais de norte a sur y de este a oeste. Es genial ver el Grand Canyon, por ejemplo, pero la distancia que hemos recorrido para llegar hasta alli es lo que le da sentido y es parte del espectaculo. El 'trayecto' es tan importante (a veces incluso mas importante) como el destino. Cada gasolinera, cada restaurante o fast-food, cada cartel anunciando la entrada a un nuevo estado es remarcable. Nos gusta viajar. Nos gusta el trayecto. El ir de aqui a alla. El movimiento. Por eso nos llamamos viajeros.

The weather today:
Partly Cloudy
UV Index: 6 Moderate
Wind: From the East Northeast at 13 mph
Dew Point: 8C
Humidity: 61%
Visibility: Unlimited
Barometer: 1,020.7 mb

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Alternative Zen:

-The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a flat tyre.
-The darkest hour is just before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbour's milk, that's the time to do it.
-Do not be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
-Always remember you are unique. Just like everyone else.
-Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
-If you think nobody cares if you are alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.
-Before you criticise someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
-If at first you do not succeed, skydiving isn't for you.
-Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
-If you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
-If you tell the truth, you do not have to remember anything.
-Some days you are the bug; some days you are the windscreen.
-Good judgement comes from bad experience, and much of that comes from bad judgement.
-The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
-A closed mouth gathers no foot.
-Duct tape is like the Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the Universe together.
-Generally speaking, you are not learning much when your lips are moving.
-Experience is something you do not get until just after you need it.
-Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, for the path is narrow. In fact, stop stalking me.

Zen Alternativo:
- El viaje de mil millas comienza con la correa del ventilador rota y un neumatico pinchado.
- La hora mas oscura viene momentos antes de amanecer. Asi que si vas a robar la leche del vecino, hazlo entonces.
- No seas irreemplazable. Si no se te puede sustituir, nunca te promocionaran.
- Recuerda que eres unico/a. Igual que todos los demas.
- Nunca compruebes la profundidad del agua con ambos pies.
- Si piensas que a nadie le importa si estas vivo o muerto, deja de pagar un par de pagos de la hipoteca.
- Antes de criticar a alguien, camina una milla en sus zapatos. Asi, cuando empieces a criticar, estaras una milla lejos y tendras sus zapatos.
- Si no te sale bien la primera vez, el paracaidismo no es lo tuyo
- Da a un hombre un pescado y comera un dia. Enseñale a pesca y se sentara en una barca bebiendo cerveza todo el dia.
- Si prestas a alguien 20 dolares y no le ves nunca mas, probablemente valia la pena.
- Si dices la verdad, no tendras que recordar mentiras
- Algunos dias tu eres el insecto; otros dias eres el parabrisas.
- El buen juicio se basa en una mala experiencia, y mucho de esta viene del mal juicio.
- La manera más rápida de doblar el dinero es doblarlo por la mitad y ponerlo en el bolsillo.
- En boca cerrada no entra comida.
- La cinta de embalar es como la Fuerza. Tiene un lado oscuro y otro claro y puede mantener unido el universo.
- Por lo general, no estas aprendiendo mucho si tus labios se estan moviendo.
- La experiencia es algo que no consigues hasta el momento en que ya no la necesitas
- No andes detrás de mí, porque no te puedo guiar. No andes delante de mí, porque no te seguire. No andes a mi lado, porque el camino es estrecho. De hecho, deja de agobiarme!

The weather today:
UV Index: 2 Minimal
Wind: From the West Southwest at 13 mph
Dew Point: 15C
Humidity: 77%
Visibility: 3 miles
Barometer: 1,017.3 mb

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I will go to collect the developed photos this evening. Yes, the photos we took during our last holidays. Developed. You heard the word. We do not have a digital camera! We have a scanner. So if I am terribly bored and have nothing else to do, I will scan some photos. Probably not. Too boring. Maybe we should consider buying one. Just so I don't go mad having to write date & location behind each picture and then sending them to our parents. Who just happen to love all this shower of photos.
If we were to have a digital camera, that would spare me from SD's parents set. We would send them by email. But... I still would have to make one extra copy of each picture, though. Because my parents are not connected to the internet! What's parents do NOT have a computer! Just so you stop thinking what a bunch of weirdos I have for parents, let me assure you...they do have a TV and a video. But not a DVD! Yep. Weirdos. Although we don't have a DVD either. Let's embrace weirdoom!! It runs in my blood!!

Esta tarde ire a buscar las fotos que deje para revelar en el laboratorio fotografico. Si, las fotos que tomamos durante las ultimas vacaciones. Revelar. Lo habeis oido bien. No tenemos camara digital! Como mucho, si tengo un rato libre y no tengo nada, pero nada que hacer, escaneo las fotos. Quiza deberiamos considerar la posibilidad de comprar una. Asi no tendria que matarme escribiendo fecha y lugar detras de cada foto y luego enviarlas a nuestros padres. A quienes les encanta, os aseguro, este diluvio de fotos. Si tuvieramos una camara digital, no tendria que hacer la parte de los padres de SD. Lo enviaria por email. Pero...aun asi, tendria que hacer copias impresas para mis padres. Porque mis padres no tienen conexion a internet! Es mas...alucinad...mis padres no tienen ordenador! Y antes de que empeceis a imaginar lo raritos que son mis padres, dejadme asegurar que SI tienen televisor y video. Pero no tienen DVD. Si. Excentricos, eh? Aunque nosotros tampoco tenemos DVD. Viva la excentricidad! Me corre en la sangre!!

The weather today:
UV Index: 4 Low
Wind: From the West Southwest at 15 mph
Dew Point: 14C
Humidity: 77%
Visibility: Unlimited
Barometer: 1,022.7 mb

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Gumbo is a Louisiana soup or stew which reflects and blends the rich cuisines of regional Indian, French, Spanish, and African cultures. The word "gumbo" is derived African term for okra, "gombo," and first appeared in print in 1805. This is the recipe for a Seafood Gumbo,which I got from the internet. It doesn't look easy!.But please, realise there are thousands of ways of preparing gumbo. Each cook has their own 'special' way! And I love all of them! Hurrah for Gumbo!

1 1/2 cups crabmeat
2 pounds shrimp, in shells
3 quarts water
2 bay leaves
2 slices lemon
2 slices onion
salt, red and black pepper
2 pounds okra, sliced
6 tablespoons bacon grease, divided
4 tomatoes, peeled & chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2 green peppers, finely chopped
2 red pepper pods, finely chopped
4 tablespoons brown roux
reserved shrimp stock
salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, to taste
hot boiled rice

First you make a roux : The fat used in roux may be butter, shortening, lard, oil, or even bacon drippings. Combine fat with an equal amount of flour ; 1/2 cup of each will make a good amount and any excess can be stored in the refrigerator.
(Many cookbooks call for a little more fat than flour - 2/3 cup oil to 1/2 cup flour is a common ratio.) Melt the fat in a black skillet over low heat. When warm and fluid, sprinkle the flour in a little at a time, stirring. Stir constantly until brown (this may take 20 to 30 minutes) ; immediately remove from heat or add ingredients your recipe calls for. If it burns even slightly, throw it out and start over again.

In a large Dutch oven boil the water with bay leaves, lemon, the 2 slices of onion, and judicious amounts of salt, pepper, cayenne and parsley. Wash shrimp and add to pot; boil for 2 minutes. Peel shrimp and return shells to the stock for later use. Set shrimp and crab meat aside.
Saute okra slices in 3 tablespoons bacon grease in large black skillet. The okra will turn darker and lose some of its stickiness as it cooks. When soft, transfer to a stew pot and add tomatoes. Stir and mix together well. Clean skillet and heat 3 tablespoons bacon grease in it. Saute the finely chopped onion, green pepper, and red pepper pods. When soft, add these ingredients to the stew pot.

In a saucepan, warm the roux; strain and stir in 2 cups of the shrimp stock. When well-blended, add to the large stew pot with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours, adding more strained stock if needed for consistency. Adjust seasonings with the salt, pepper, thyme, and parsley. When it has simmered for at least 3 to 4 hours and the flavors have begun to blend, add the shrimp and crab meat and cook for 15 more minutes. Serve with fresh boiled rice in soup bowls. Serves 6 to 8.

El gumbo es una sopa o guisado de Louisiana que refleja y mezcla las cocinas de las culturas india, francesa, española y africana regionales. "Gumbo" es el término africano derivado de okra, "gombo" (en espaniol, quilombo) mencionado por primer vez por escrito en 1805. Ésta es la receta para Gumbo de marisco, que he sacado de internet. Vale, no es facil. Pero tened en cuenta que hay miles de maneras de preparar gumbo. Cada cocinero tiene su propia receta 'especial'. Y a mi me gustan todas! Viva el gumbo!

1 taza y media de carne de cangrejo
2 libras de gambas, con cáscaras
3 cuartos de galón de agua
2 hojas de la laurel
2 rodajas de limon
2 rodajas de cebolla
pimienta negra y roja, sal
2 libras de okra (quilombo), a rodajas
6 cucharas soperas de manteca de tocina
4 tomates, pelados y cortados a rodajas
2 cebollas, finamente cortadas a rodajas
2 pimientos verdes, finamente cortados a lo largo
2 granos de pimienta roja, cortados
4 cucharadas soperas de roux
caldo de gambas hervidas
sal, pimienta, tomillo, perejil, al gusto
arroz hervido caliente

Primero se prepara el roux: La grasa usada en roux puede ser mantequilla, manteca de cerdo o aceite. Combine la manteca con una cantidad igual de harina; 1/2 taza de cada ingrediente dara suficiente cantidad. Si sobra, guardar en la nevera (muchas recetas recomiendan usar un poco mas de grasa que harina : 2/3 manteca, 1/2 harina) Derretir la manteca a fuego lento. Cuando se vea caliente y fluida,asperjar la harina poco a poco, removiendo. Remover constantemente hasta que se vuelva marron. (20 a 30 minutos). Retirar del fuego. Si se quema, aunque sea ligeramente, se recomienda no usar...sino empezar de nuevo!

A continuacion preparar el caldo de gambas : Hervir el agua con el laurel, limón, redajas de cebolla, y sal, pimienta negra y roja, y perejil. Lavar las gambas y agregar a la olla; hervir durante 2 minutos. Sacarlas de la olla y pelarlas. Devolver las cascaras a la olla y reservar la carne.

Freir las rodajas de okra (quilombo) en 3 cucharadas soperas de manteca de cerdo. El okra se oscurecera y dejara de ser pegajoso conforme se vaya friendo. Cuando se vea blando, pasar a una olla y aniadir los tomates.Mezclar bien.
Calentar 3 cucharadas soperas de manteca de cerdo en una sarten. Freir el resto de la cebolla, pimientos verdes y granos de pimienta roja. Cuando se vean blandos, aniadir a la olla anterior (con los tomates y okra).

En una sarten, calentar el roux. Aniadir 2 tazas del caldo de gambas. Mezclar bien y aniadir a la olla anterior. Llevar a ebullicion y despues cocer a fuego lento durante 2 horas, aniadiendo mas caldo de gambas si es necesario para ganar consistencia. Salpimentar si es necesario, usando sal, pimienta, tomillo y perejil. Cuando haya cocinado al fuego lento durante 3 o 4 horas y los diferentes sabores se hayan mezclado bien, aniadir la carne de cangrejo y las gambas peladas. Cocer durante 15 minutos. Servir con arroz hervido en platos soperos. Para 6-8 personas.

The weather today:
Partly Cloudy
UV Index: 3 Low
Wind: From the West Northwest at 6 mph
Dew Point: 10C
Humidity: 46%
Visibility: 6 miles
Barometer: 1,025.1 mb

Monday, May 17, 2004

Is it just me or does everybody else find the most bizarre news ALWAYS happen in New Zealand? It's like the Down-Under X files. I read on the New Zealand Herald : "Man burned as microwaved eggs explode.
A man suffered facial burns at the weekend when microwave-boiled eggs and their cooking water exploded in his face, raising the issue of whether the public is aware of the dangers".

And I say...who for heaven's sake is cooking eggs in the microwave oven?? I didn't even know THAT was possible!!

Soy la unica persona en darse cuenta de que las noticias mas raras SIEMPRE ocurren en Nueva Zelanda? Son como un Expediente X en las Antipodas! Leo hoy en el periodico New Zealand Herald: "Un hombre sufre quemaduras al explotarle los huevos en el microondas (sic..traducido!). Un hombre sufrio quemaduras faciales este fin de semana cuando hervia huevos en el microondas y, al retirarlos del horno, estos le explotaron, asi como el agua en que los habia sumergido. Este hecho ha suscitado la cuestion de si los ciudadanos son conscientes del peligro de cocinar en microondas".

Y digo yo...pero quien carajo cuece huevos en el microondas? Yo ni siquiera sabia que ESO era posible!!

The weather today:
Partly Cloudy
UV Index: 4 Low
Wind: From the West Northwest at 6 mph
Dew Point: 13C
Humidity: 53%
Visibility: 6 miles
Barometer: 1,025.1 mb

Friday, May 14, 2004

crawfish catfish

Crawfish and catfish, our new little friends from Louisiana and Mississipi. Crawfish are like small red lobsters. Indeed there is a story about the origin of the crawfish in Louisiana. The Acadians (now known as Cajun people)happily lived in Nova Scotia with their friends the lobsters. But enemies invaded their lands and the Acadians had to leave and go down South to save their lives. Their hearts sad for having to abandon their lobster friends, the Acadians went to see the Lobster King to say goodbye. The Lobster King was also very sad to have to part with his friends and when he explained the situation to all the lobsters, they all decided they could not live without their friends. So all the lobsters decided to leave Nova Scotia and travel South with the Acadians. The journey was long, dangerous and tiring. They crawled down the Mississipi river for many many days, following the Acadians. It was so tiring that the lobsters lost a lot of weight. They finally reached Louisiana, where the Acadians found themselves safe and decided to stay forever. The lobsters got there too, but by that time, after all that crawling and crawling, they had become very small. And this is how they stayed. And from then on, they were known as craw(l)fish. A lovely story, but it did not stop me from eating pounds and pounds of lovely boiled crawfish with tabasco! mmmm!!!

About catfish, I can say we tried it twice, baked, and it was delicious. Catfish has a soft, white and sweet flesh. It is also quite ugly if you happen to encounter it alive, being easily recognised by its huge whiskers. Mississippi leads the nation with about 60 percent of the total U.S. catfish acreage, followed distantly by Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana. And unfortunately, I don't know any moving story about catfish, except that Huck Finn fished them in the novel Tom Shawyer. Mark Twain, the author, once said "The Catfish is a Plenty Good Enough Fish For Anyone", a statement with which I totally agree!

Crawfish (cangrejo americano) y catfish (siluro), nuestros nuevos amigos de Louisiana y Mississipi, respectivamente. Crawfish no son los tipicos cangrejos de rio (como su nombre traducido del ingles parece indicar) sino que tienen toda la apariencia de pequenias langostas rojas. Hay una historia del origen de los crawfish en Louisiana. Los Acadianos (actualmente conocidos como Cajun) vivian felices en Nova Scotia con sus amigas las langostas. Pero enemigos invadieron sus territorios y los Acadianos tuvieron que emigrar al Sur para salvar sus vidas. Con los corazones apenados por tener que abandonar a sus amigas las langostas, fueron a ver al Rey Langosta para despedirse. El Rey Langosta se entristecio al recibir las noticias y lo comunico a todos sus subditos. Todas las langostas decidieron entonces que no abandonarian a sus amigos Acadianos, sino que viajarian con ellos al Sur. Fue un viaje largo y peligroso. Las langostas se arrastraron ("to crawl" en ingles)con sus cortas patitas durante millas y millas, dia tras dia por el rio Mississipi. Era tan agotador que las langostas perdieron muchisimo peso. Por fin llegaron a Louisana, donde los Acadianos creyeron que podrian vivir sin peligro. Las langostas llegaron tambien, pero a esas alturas, despues de tanto arrastrarse, se habian encogido muchisimo. Y se quedaron con ese tamanio para siempre. Y tambien desde entonces, se las conocio como craw(l)fish (pez que se arrastra) en lugar de langosta (lobster) Una bonita historia, no? Ello no me impidio hartarme de deliciosas crawfish, hervidas y con tabasco!mmmm!!!!

Sobre los catfish (siluro) dire que lo probamos dos veces, frito, y era delicioso. El catfish tiene una carne suave, blanca y dulzona. Lamentablemente es bastante feo si se le ve al natural, siendo facilmente reconocido por sus largos bigotes. El estado de Mississipi lidera la produccion de catfish con el 60% de piscifactorias, siguiendole los estados de Arkansas, Alabama y Louisiana. Lamentablemente, no tengo ninguna bonita historia que explicar sobre el catfish. Excepto que Huck Finn los pescaba en la novela Tom Shawyer. Y que Mark Twain, el autor, una vez dijo : "El Catfish es un buen pescado para cualquier persona". Una afirmacion con la que estoy totalmente de acuerdo!

The weather today:
Mostly Cloudy
UV Index: 4 Low
Wind: From the Northwest at 6 mph
Dew Point: 10C
Humidity: 59%
Visibility: 6 miles
Barometer: 1,025.1 mb

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Busy again, no time to post!

Otra vez con un monton de trabajo y sin tiempo para postear!

The weather today:
Mostly Cloudy
UV Index: 3 Low
Wind: From the North Northwest at 2 mph
Dew Point: 9C
Humidity: 63%
Visibility: 6 miles
Barometer: 1,023.0 mb

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

I think the name of the tv programme was 'House of Clues'. We watched one in the series while we were in the US. The idea is quite simple : two would-be detectives visit an unknown house with a professional psychologist and investigator. Each 'detective' is assigned a couple of rooms to investigate. Based on what they see, they have to guess who lives in the house, male/female, ages, jobs, personalities and the big issue in the family at the time. At the end of the programme, the 'detectives' meet the owners of the house, who score their performance and accuracy. It is true that a house reflects who lives in it. I felt a bit like these 'detectives' when we visited Elvis Presley's house in Tupelo - Mississipi (where he lived until he was 13) and his house in Memphis -Tennesee, Graceland. Both are worlds apart. Elvis lived in a two-room house in Tupelo. One room acted as bedroom. The next as kitchen and living room. There was a porch with a swing. And that was it. Elvis parents were very poor. When Elvis was 13, they put all their things in the family car and left for Memphis. Everything they had fit inside a car. Imagine that.

Graceland was big, a typical antebellum mansion as you can see in the South East of the US. I had heard it was 70s sytle decorated, stopped in time, I had heard of its extravangance, a room pretending to be a Hawaiian forest, green carpet on the floor..and ceiling! A games-room with miles of tapestry covering the walls, a long white sofa custom-made for Elvis' living-room...and yes, all that was there. But it wasn't a huge house. No enormous mansion with 50 bedrooms and the same number of bathrooms. No. I saw middle-class American families living in houses the same size as Graceland in Natchez or Vicksburg. The house, even with its odd decoration, looked as if it had been lived in. A family lived there. Elvis and his family. And comparing the poor house in Tupelo with the Graceland mansion, I realised something. Elvis was a small-town boy whose wish was to become wealthy so he could give his mom and dad a nice house to live in. All the impressions I had got from Elvis'fans in the past, from Tv appearances..from people talking about him as if he was a god...all that dissappeared. I saw a naive boy who wanted a nice house for his mom. And you know what? I liked that Elvis.

Creo que el nombre del programa de television era 'La casa de las pistas'. Vimos un episodio mientras estabamos en los USA. El formato es sencillo : Dos aprendices de detectives visitan una casa desconocida junto con un psicologo e investigador profesional. Se asigna a cada 'detective'dos habitaciones de la casa para investigar. En base a lo que ven, tienen que llegar a la conclusion de quien vive en la casa : sexos, edades, puestos de trabajo, personalidades y el problema o tema que preocupa a a la familia en el presente. Al final del programa, los 'detectives' se encuentran con los duenios de la casa, quienes les puntuan basandose en su actuacion y conclusiones acertadas. Es verdad que cada casa es un mundo y refleja la personalidad de sus habitantes. Me senti como uno de esos 'detectives' cuando visitamos la casa natal de Elvis Presley en Tupelo - Mississipi (donde vivio hasta los 13 anios) y su casa de Memphis-Tennesee, Graceland. Las dos casas son mundos aparte. Elvis vivio en una casa de dos habitaciones en Tupelo. Una habitacion era el dormitorio -para toda la familia- la otra era la cocina/comedor. En el exterior, un pequenio porche con un columpio. Y para de contar. Los padres de Elvis eran pobres. Cuando Elvis tenia 13 anios, pusieron todas sus pertenencias en el coche y se fueron a vivir a Memphis. Todo lo que tenian cabia en un coche. Os imaginais?

Graceland es una casa grande, una tipica 'antebellum mansion' (construida antes de la Guerra Civil Americana) de las que se ven en el Sud-Este de los USA. Habia oido decir que estaba decorada al estilo de los anios 70, como si se hubiera parado en el tiempo. Habia oido hablar de lo extravagante de su decoracion, una habitacion decorada como una jungla hawaiana, con moqueta verde en el suelo...y en el techo!, una habitacion de billar con metros y metros de tela en las paredes, un enorme sillon blanco hecho a medida para el salon...y si, todo eso estaba en la casa. Pero no era una casa enorme. No era un palacete con 50 dormitorios y el mismo numero de banios. No. Vi a familias de clase media que viven en casas del mismo tamanio, en Vicksburg y Natchez. La casa, incluso con su extravagante decoracion, se veia una casa donde una familia habia vivido. Elvis y su familia. Y comparando la pobre casita de Tupelo con la mansion de Graceland, me di cuenta de algo importante. Elvis era un chico de pueblo, cuyo unico deseo era llegar a ser rico para poder comprar una casa bonita para su mama y su papa. Todas las ideas preconcebidas sobre Elvis, que habia adquirido a traves de las impresiones de sus fans en el pasado, apariciones en gente hablando de el como si fuera un dios...todo aquello se borro de mi mente. Vi a un chico inocenton, que queria una casa decente para su mama. Y sabeis que? Ese fue el Elvis que me gusto.

The weather today:
UV Index: 1 Minimal
Wind: From the North Northeast at 12 mph
Dew Point: 8C
Humidity: 73%
Visibility: 5 miles
Barometer: 1,022.4 mb

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Something extraordinary happened while we were in Louisiana. Something which could have been disastrous but ended up with a happy ending. I can only say we were incredibly lucky. Or that Louisiana's citizens are very honest. Or that voodoo works. Any of these possibilities is valid, I'd say. You decide. I have not made up my mind yet!

We took a swamp tour with Cajun Pride Swamp Tours on our way between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. It was a very pleasant sunny morning and the swamps were beautiful. We saw and fed some alligators (a tourist's obligation!) and spent two nice hours with a small group of tourists in a little boat. Until here, nothing extraordinary. But then we returned ashore and to our car. And to our dismay, as we approached the car we saw something terrible had happened. The car's boot was fully open. All our baggage, three suitcases, had been left there. As the car boasted electric locks, it may have been quite easy for the ringkey to be pressed in SD's pocket while we were walking to the boat, so opening the boot. And it was left there for 2 hours, with our suitcases on display! As we ran to the car, our thoughts were the same: everything has been stolen. Nothing left! Clothes, some money, presents, two credit cards (luckily our passports were in SD's rucksack) our amazement when we stood in front of the open boot and saw...nothing missing! all our suitcases were there! What's more, when we opened them to check...all our belongings were there!

Considering we were in a touristic spot, parked in front of a road..what are the possibilities of leaving a car's boot opened for TWO hours and not being stolen anything at all?? As I said, this was extraordinary. Rare.Amazing. I thought we were very lucky. The stars were shining on us. Or maybe it was the two real voodoo dolls I had bought the day before at the Nottoway Plantation , which I had left inside one of our suitcases. They are hand made by a Voodoo lady in Shrevreport, and not Made in China as most voodoo dolls sold in New Orleans. Or the honesty of the Louisiana citizens. As I said before, any of these could be the truth. But, in any case, I've placed our two Voodoo dolls in our living room. Just in case...

Nos sucedio algo extraordinario mientras estabamos en Louisiana. Algo que podia haber tenido consecuencias desastrosas pero que acabo con un final feliz. Solo se me ocurre que tuvimos mucha suerte. O que los ciudadanos de Louisana son honestos. O que el Vudu funciona. Cualquiera de estas posibilidades es valida para mi. Asi que lo dejo a vuestra consideracion. Porque lo que es yo, aun no he decidido!

Fuimos a dar un paseo en barco por los pantanos entre Baton Rouge y New Orleans con la compania Cajun Pride Swamp Tours. Los pantanos estaban preciosos en aquella soleada y calida maniana. Vimos y dimos de comer a algunos alligators (la obligacion de todo turista!) y pasamos dos horas con un pequenio grupo de turistas en un barquito. Hasta aqui, nada de extraordinario. Hasta que volvimos al embarcadero y a recoger nuestro coche. Y para nuestro horror, cuando nos acercabamos al coche, vimos que algo terrible habia sucedido. El maletero estaba completamente abierto. El coche tenia apertura electrica, asi que nada mas facil que el boton de abrir el maletero se hubiera apretado en el bolsillo de SD cuando nos alejabamos del coche. Y durante dos horas, el coche se pavoneo con el maletero abierto, mostrando a todo el mundo nuestras maletas. Mientras corriamos hacia el coche, ya nos imaginabamos lo que veriamos : nos habian robado todo. El maletero estaria vacio! Ropas, algo de dinero, regalos, dos tarjetas de credito (afortunadamente, nuestros pasaportes estaban en la mochila de SD y no en el coche. Asi que...imaginaos nuestra sorpresa cuando, parados delante del maletero...vimos...que no faltaba nada! Y aun mas, cuando abrimos las maletas para comprobar si faltaba algo..nada! Todo estaba igual a como lo habiamos dejado!!!

Si tenemos en cuenta que estabamos aparcados en un lugar frecuentado por turistas, cerca de una carretera....que posibilidad hay de dejar un coche con el maletero abierto durante DOS horas y que no te roben nada?? Como ya he dicho, esto es extraordinario. Increible. Rarisimo!! En aquel momento, pense que teniamos mucha suerte. Que las estrellas nos sonreian. O quiza eran las dos autenticas muniecas de vudu que habia comprado el dia anterior en la Plantacion Nottoway , y que habia colocado en el interior de una de las maletas. Cada una es unica, hecha a mano por una seniora que practica el vudu en Shrevreport, y no como las que venden en New Orleans, que son "Made in China".O eso, o la honestidad de los ciudadanos de Louisiana. Como ya he dicho, cualquiera podria ser verdad. Por si acaso, he colocado las dos muniecas vudu en el salon. Por si las moscas...

The weather today:
UV Index: 0 Minimal
Wind: From the West Southwest at 10 mph
Dew Point: 12C
Humidity: 91%
Visibility: 1 miles
Barometer: 1,019.6 mb

Monday, May 10, 2004

Wow! Ten days away on holidays and they have changed all Blogger!! I'll have a good look tomorrow. I have not had time to post today. There were a pile of assignments waiting for me, plus thousands of work-related emails. So this is just a short post to say we are back from the US, we have had a great time! Our list of states visited has increased in six : Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississipi, Louisiana and Florida. The weather was great : sunny and not very humid, with temperatures between 70 and 81 F, although we got two rainy days, one in Memphis and the other one while driving down the Mississipi delta. I'll give more detail in the next posts

Anda! Me voy diez dias de vacaciones y me cambian todo el Blogger!!! Maniana le echare una buena ojeada, porque lo que es hoy, no me ha dado tiempo de hacer nada. Habia un monton de trabajos entregados durante mi ausencia, ademas de los miles de emails (de trabajo, claro). Asi que este es solo un cortisimo post para decir que hemos vuelto de los USA y que nuestra lista de estados visitados ha aumentado a 6 mas : Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississipi, Louisana y Florida. Lo hemos pasado genial. El tiempo muy bueno, con temperaturas entre los 25 y los 30C, aunque tuvimos dos dias de lluvia, uno en Memphis y otro bajando por el delta del Mississipi.
Mas explicaciones en un futuro post.

The weather today:
UV Index: 1 Minimal
Wind: From the North Northeast at 8 mph
Dew Point: 13C
Humidity: 58%
Visibility: 4 miles
Barometer: 1,011.9 mb