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Showing posts from July, 2021

Not So Fast, 22 & 23. A Service We Pay For.

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Last Wednesday, I went to refill my blood pressure medication. The pharmacist told me that the prescription had run out, and that I needed to renew it. So, when I came home, I went online and tried to make a phone appointment to renew my medications. But there was no opening until today, Tuesday.  Last night, I got a call from a phone number with so many digits, that it was either the health service, or the bank. It was the local clinic, telling me that my appointment to renew my prescriptions was cancelled, and that it would be rescheduled for the 3rd of August, next Tuesday. The problem? There were no doctors in the afternoon this week.  Excuse me? No doctors? There are no substitutes for doctors who are on a much-needed vacation? Or who are sick themselves and can't come to work? Exactly. There are no subsititute doctors. At the end of July. With tourists teeming all over the place. With the probability of more than one serious accident happening in the afternoon. Oh, but the re

Not So Fast, 20 & 21. Santiago's Holy Day.

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It's another grey morning. The clouds are supposed to part this afternoon, and the skies are supposed to improve this week, though temperatures are not expected to exceed a maximum of 26ºC/78ºF on any day. And the regional forecast page, Meteogalica, predicts an increase in the chance of rain by next weekend, and the lowering of temperatures. Again. At this rate, we'll get our summer in October. Today is the patron saint of Spain, and the day we celebrate our region. It's the day of the apostle Saint James the Great, supposedly buried at the cathedral in Santiago. He has various names in Spanish, from Jaime to Diego to Jacobo to Xácome to Jaume to Iago. And all those versions come from the original Ya'akov, latinized to Iacobus.  He became the patron saint of the unifying "Spanish" armies (Spain as a country did not exist at this time, merely small kingdoms, such as Asturias, or León.) during the Reconquest, when, at the Battle of Clavijo, he appeared to the A

Not So Fast, 15, 16, 17, 18, & 19. Our Reality.

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When I began subtitling my blog at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown, my intention had been to do a day by day account of how things developed, hence the numbers after the first month. By now, it's been going on for so long, that life just gets in the way of reporting every day. Even when I write frequently, since there's little that's new, I don't tend to mention anything about Covid. I am getting the feeling, however, that this pandemic is going to stretch into the rest of the year, and possibly well into the next. Contagion is up in the clouds. On a national level, it's around 650 per hundred thousand. The numbers are driven by the young, where contagion is close to two thousand per hundred thousand in the 20-29 group. This group, precisely, is the one that is going to start getting vaccinated here, in Galicia, as of next week.  That said, without a state of alarm, it's up to the regional governments and their courts to install any kind of restrictions.

Not So Fast, 13 & 14. Lessons of Yesterday.

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Eighty-five years. That's how long it's been since a rebelious faction of the army made a failed coup against a democratically elected government. It failed because it did not fulfill its intention of bloodlessly taking over the government. Instead, it created a civil war that ravaged the nation for three years, and ended in bloodshed and humiliation that stretched until after the dictator had died in his bed.  On the evening of 17 July, at five in the afternoon, the leader of the troops in Melilla realized that his plans to take over the garrision the following morning, had been discovered, so he went ahead and took over key points of the city, and shot the mayor and all those who resisted. In Ceuta and Tetuán, the Spanish Legion took over the main government buildings, and shot the mayors and prominent leaders, including union leaders.  On the mainland, radio broadcasts mentioned the disturbances in the African cities, but reassured everyone that things were under control. Ho

Not So Fast, 10, 11, & 12. Propitiating the Sea.

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Today is the 16th of July, and that means it's the celebration of the Virxe do Carme , or, the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel.  The story begins way back when, to end a drought, the prophet Elias promised God, that a local king, King Ajaab, and his people would abandon the praise of Baal. Every few days, Elias would visit Mount Carmel, and one day, he saw a small cloud the size of his palm that brought rain. After that, a shrine was created, and the Order of the Carmelites established. The Virgin Mary got implicated through a vision in the thirteenth century, to one of those Carmelite priests, Saint Simon Stock. In it, she held out a scapular, and said that whoever died wearing it, was promised eternal life in heaven. Simon Stock called this Virgin, Stella Maris , Star of the Seas, and mariners then took her as their patron saint. However, the implication was not of the physical sea, but of the spiritual sea. She was called that because the Virgin Mary was considered the North Star

Not So Fast, 9. Fairness.

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Contagion just keeps going up, especially among the young people. In less than a month, Spain has become one of the European countries with the most spread of Covid. Luckily, we are also vaccinating quickly, now, and there are fewer hospitalizations. Still, this means that we are not going to have a freer summer.  Thinking about some of the things I have written about, and that have caught my eye, I realize that my political views have always been left of center. Even when I was a child, I was obsessed with justice. "That's not fair!" was an exclamation that always made me mad. It wasn't fair that if one kid did something wrong, the whole class should be punished. It wasn't fair that a bully would take away a kid's cookies. It wasn't fair! As I grew, and watched the evening news with my parents, I became aware that the world wasn't fair, either. There were wars, people killed other people, people lived in poverty, people went hungry next to others sipp

Not So Fast, 6, 7, & 8. Where's the Beef?

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Saturday morning, we pulled up most of the potatoes. Those that are deeper still have to be dug out, though. It was a warm day, hot but not too hot, unlike the rest of Spain; areas in Andalucía and Extremadura had temperatures reach around 40ºC/104ºF, and spiked even higher on Sunday. Meanwhile, we reached 30ºC/86ºF and had a fine beach afternoon. Yesterday, our temperatures went down, and a small cold front passed through last night. Today we're having spring weather, with occasional showers, and summer will return along the week. There is, officially, a fifth wave of the pandemic strolling through Spain. It is attacking mostly young people, from 12 to 29 years old, though the twenty-somethings are the hardest hit. In our region of Galicia, the government has gone so far as to close beaches, parks, gardens, and plazas from 1 AM to 6 AM, so that binge-drinking parties can't take place. Also, in townships that are in middle level risk, to enter music bars and discos, proof of va

Not So Fast, 5. The New Garbage Pail Kids.

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This week, another issue of El Jueves came out, and the camp over at extreme right Vox went berserk.  To begin, I will explain that El Jueves is much like the American Mad magazine. It is a satirical comic, which lampoons everything that walks on two legs. It doesn't matter who it is, if someone says or does something that catches the public eye, they will be satirized by this magazine. This week, it was Vox's turn. The magazine published a series of fake baseball cards, with different, disgusting characters lampooning actual members of the extremist organization. The artists made them look like the Garbage Pail Kids cards, from the 1980's. The images are a little too disgusting, perhaps, but the lampooning messages are the usual.  On the official Twitter account of Vox, someone, probably the leader, Santiago Abascal, posted: "Se llama Ricardo Rodrigo Amar y es presidente de RBA, grupo que edita El Jueves. Su revista difunde odio contra millones de españoles a diari

Not So Fast, 2, 3 & 4. Bias

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I fear for our society. Last week, a young man in A Coruña was beaten to death. He was with a friend who was holding a video call with someone else, outside a recently opened night club and music bars. A brute and his girlfriend, thinking she was filming them, got belligerent and started shouting to her to stop filming them. The young man, Samuel, tried to explain it was merely a video call. The brute simply replied, "o paras de grabar, o te mato, maricón de mierda,"   (either you stop filming or I kill you, fucking fagot) and started punching Samuel.  After having the fight broken up by a passer-by, the brute and his girlfriend left. But, while Samuel was sitting, with lacerations on his face, and his friend helping him look for his phone, which had fallen, the brute returned with twelve friends. They beat Samuel until he was unconscious, calling him, "maricón de mierda."   (fucking fagot) After they had left, the friend, who couldn't do anything to stop them,

Not So Fast, 1. You Can Take It With You.

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It had seemed we were going into the final stretch of the pandemic, with vaccination going up, and infection going down. So much for wishful thinking. Right now, though vaccination is now coming along smartly, at least in Galicia, contagion is also going up strongly. The fact is that contagion is going up among young people in two age groups, from 12 to 19, and from 20 to 29. Until the end of the month, the second group wasn't going to start being called up for their shots. Between that, and all the end of school parties, especially those in Mallorca, and the binge-drinking get-togethers that act like magnets for over a hundred young people a night, and people are starting to get sick. The good thing is that, so far, hospitalizations seem to be holding. The youngest are the healthiest in general, so they aren't being admitted to the hospital in droves, like their grandparents were. Still, there are some older people that haven't received their shots, yet, for many different

Final Stretch, 29 & 30. Freedoms.

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Today is that glorious Fourth, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, in protest against a King that claimed his Divine Right still existed, over a century after King Charles I had been executed for that reason, among others.  Despite having lived more in Spain than in the United States, at this point, Yankee Doodle still sings itself in my head today. If today hadn't been a Sunday, it would have been a normal day, here. Other years, I did try to grill some lunch, much like we used to do at the beach in days gone by. This year, it's too chilly and damp to try to light the fire. I remember Fourths in my childhood in which we would go to City Point beach out by Castle Island, in South Boston. We would take a hibachi in those years, with steaks in a cooler to plop over the coals. My mother, who did not want anyone to go hungry, would also have made complete meals during the morning, and packed the pots with them into bags. My parents didn't care much about the Fo

Final Stretch, 27 & 28. The Past Under Our Feet.

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Today, it's cloudy and from time to time, and the sky cries a little, just misty tears. It feels more like early May than early July, and the forecast is for more rain and lower temperatures until at least the middle of next week. I can only say, at least we're not suffering from a heat wave. Yesterday afternoon, while not that hot, the sun did warm me while I went walking. Enough, that I realized morning walks are much better than afternoon walks. Unless it's winter. My daughter had gone for a walk down to the river, and I had decided to follow her. When I approached the last leg, there she appeared, ready to come home. So, we went back home along a different dirt lane. As I was trudging along behind her, realizing my mistake of walking in the afternoon, I was looking down, more than anything to avoid stumbling. I passed a bluish stone in one of the ruts and continued. But the color had caught my eye. It wasn't like any other stone embedded in the dirt.  I turned back.