dimarts, 26 de febrer de 2013

Sinnerman - Nina Simone

Avui no perdrem el temps escrivint res - tal com diuen per allà, només cal posar aquesta peça a tot volumen, i tancar els ulls ....
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No post today - as they say, some songs are worth a thousand words. This is one of them. Just crank up the volume, close your eyes and go with the flow ....

dilluns, 25 de febrer de 2013

Feeling good - Nina Simone #swimming

D'un temps cap aquí, vaig a la piscina per guanyar una mica de salut - o aixo em diuen. Quan era més jove, ja hi anava a Anglaterra i aixi puc comentar com és de diferent ara que hi vaig aqui, a Catalunya. Aqui has de portar xancletes, casquet, i  ulleres (bé, són recomanats). A Anglaterra, no.
Em dono la sensació de sortir del vestidor com l'Action Man de la foto - un dels regals que vaig rebre de petit, i encara la recordo, i encara hi jugaria .... - i gairebé sempre m'oblido d'alguna cosa!
La cançó d'avui, res  a vore amb aixo, pero és la que estic escoltant ara ....
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Recently I've taken up swimming again at a local pool. Once upon a time, I used to swim quite a lot back in the UK. Here in Catalunya, it's compulsory to wear a swimming cap, and highly recommended to wear flip flops while walking about, and goggles. In Barnsley, it isn't. I feel like Deep Sea Diver Action Man (one of my all-time fave toys) - and usually forget at least one item of the kit!
Today's song, has nothing to do with all the above ....

dissabte, 23 de febrer de 2013

Bike - Pink Floyd #Incivisme_o_curtdegambals

Parlant de algú que sempre diu lo mateix, pos, au, torno al tema del incivisme i la meva incomprensió davant d'alguns actituds de la gent. Per que aparcaries malament davant o a prop d'una escola, posant en perill la salut d'aquella gent més fragil (encara que "només són 2 minuts")? Qui diu que els cotxes han de manar a la ciutat, per davant dels vianants o ciclistes? Per que pagaries per anar a un gimnas, si no ets capaç de aparcar correctament i caminar 5 minuts fins a l'escola per agafar els nens? En fi, ajunto un escrit a continuació, que ("jo m'entenc i ballo sol") m'han publicat al bloc Me Moc En Bici.
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Below, a letter I've had published on our local cyclists' group blog. Basically, my usual rant about bad parking and other nasty car-driver behaviour. Why would anyone with half a brain park illegally on pavements outside schools, or on zebra crossings, or double park, putting the little 'uns safety at risk as they have to negotiate this maze of danger just to get to school? Since when are cars the kings of the town, over and above pedestrians or cyclists? And, why the hell would anyone pay 50 Euros a month to go to a gym if they can't be bothered to walk 5 minutes from a car park to the school?
Here's the letter, it's in Catalan, but is basically just a long-winded version of what I've just said. And Pink Floyd.
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Us volia comentar un cas molt concret, però segurament la lliçó es pot aplicar a molts altres casos i indrets de les nostres ciutats. Si sou de Tortosa potser coneixereu l’Escola El Temple, i haureu vist que pels seus voltants hi ha diversos passos de vianants, i un carril bici. També potser estareu conscients que molta gent pensa que a Tortosa hi ha problemes per mancança d’aparcaments.
El cas és que, degut a que no hi ha prous aparcaments just al costat del col·legi per tots els pares que venen a deixar o buscar els seus xiquets a les hores d’entrada i sortida, gairebé sempre ens trobem amb cotxes aparcats damunt dels passos i el carril bici (quan no estan directament damunt de la Plaça del Temple, o les voreres!). Es veu que això es diu “tolerància”. Com que es pot aparcar, per “dos minuts” hem de ser tolerants i deixar que la gent aparqui on vulgui.
Doncs, crec que aquesta “tolerància” (suportar en els altres quelcom que hom desaprova) no ens porta a cap bon port. Per “tolerar” aquests conductors incívics, els altres usuaris de l’espai públic, com són els vianants o ciclistes (o fins i tot altres conductors), sovint hem de passar per situacions incomodes o de perill. I resulta que aquesta “tolerància” normalment només va en una direcció – que diríem els conductors (jo també, que també en sóc) si deixéssim bicicletes en els aparcaments de cotxes, o els vianants decideixen fer un pic-nic? No; sembla ser que la paraula “tolerància” bàsicament es resumeix en “el cotxe és el rei”.
En aquest cas concret, a més a més, no té gaire sentit que la policia local toleri aquesta situació, havent-n’hi centenars de llocs per aparcar correctament a 3 minuts a peu des de l’escola !
M’agradaria pensar que les bicis poden conviure a la ciutat, juntament amb els vianants o cotxes, però crec que de moment molts conductors no ho veuen igual. Una pena, ja que per molts motius (entre ells, la seguretat dels nostres xiquets) ens aniria millor a tothom una mica més de respecte!
No demano miracles ni que Tortosa es converteixi en Amsterdam, però si s’han fet unes mínimes infraestructures pels ciclistes, almenys que ara no ens posen pals a les rodes!




divendres, 22 de febrer de 2013

Sheep - The Housemartins #22nd_February

Quines coses fascinants han passat en els 22s de febrer! Entre elles podem trobar, per exemple, aquesta: Encara que Dolly, l'ovella clonada, va neixer el 5 de juliol 1996, la van presentar en public el 22 de febrer, 1997 - fa tot just 16 anys. Com passa el temps, ei!
Per cert, es diu Dolly perque la van clonar d'una glandula mamaria, i quin cantant té un bon parell de glandules mamaries ...? Dolly Parton!
Canviant de cantants, avui escoltem els Housemartins. La seva cançó també parla d'ovelles, però de les ovelles de 2 potes ....
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So what other amazing things have happened on 22nds of February throughout the ages? Well, although the cloned sheep Dolly was born in 1996, she was presented to the public on 22nd February 1997 - 16 years ago today! How time flies!
Apparently she was named Dolly after Dolly Parton, as she'd been cloned from a mammary gland cell ....
Today's song by the Housemartins is also about sheep, but the two-legged type ...


dimecres, 20 de febrer de 2013

Guilty - Bonnie Raitt #Corrupció_politics (3)

"Inocent fins que es demostri lo contrari", una frase que sona molt bé a les pel·lícules americanes perque normalment resulta que el sospitos principal realment és inocent - si no és una pel·lí moderna on fan un "double-twist" i al final quan tots pensavem que era inocent, torna a demostrar la seva culpabilitat.
És una frase que té molt de sentit pels juristes, però per a mi, poca cosa, per no dir no res mateix. Que els politics, i cia, s'agafen a aquest eslogan per no dimitir ni marxar, pos, no és ni etic no correcte - perque la frase no és correcta. 
A vore, un cop que has comés algun delicte, ja saps tu mateix que ets culpable, tan si t'enxampen o no. Si un politic roba, menteix, enganya, o un funcionari es fa 200 fotocopies a la feina, o un conductor aparca damunt d'un pas de peatons, o .... tothom que fa alguna cosa malament, o és babarota, o sap ben bé que ho ha fet. Llavors, també sap que és culpable. Depenent del sentit de l'etica de cada u o de la gravetat dels fets, pos, cada u és lliure de fer el que vulgui després, però lo minim és saber tu, internament, que has estat trapella!
I precisament, un representant politic, en el qual hem depositat la nostra confiança per portar el pais o ciutat cap endavant, són els primers que, en saber que han actuat malament, haurien de marxar.

Despres, si la policia els poden enxampar i si acaben tenint consequencies legals (un diputat de Barnsley, Anglaterra, va passar 3 mesos al preso per haver cobrat 15.000 en despeses de manera irregular), pos, millor que millor. Però el primer pas, seria que actuessen com persones humans normals amb un minim de auto-respecte i respecte pels demés (i pel sistema democratic), i marxessen.
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Innocent until proven guilty. The "phrase of the month" over here in Catalonia. As more and more councillors, mayors, MPs, and so on, are being imputed or charged on counts of corruption, this phrase is coming to mean "so, until I am sentenced I will not give up on my role, salary, perks, pensions, political standing, and with a bit of luck the court case could take 10 years and meanwhile I'll stay where I am2. That is, whereas I'm sure in 90% of the civilised (!!) democratic world, the first whiff of a court case leads to resignations on demand, Catalan politicians are more bare-faced. 
But, the point is, outside of a court of law, "innocent until proven guilty" is a fallacy. From the very first moment you do something wrong, you know you are guilty. Or you're stupid. From politicians screwing the tax-payer, to people helping themselves to 200 free photocopies at work, or parking their car on a zebra crossing - the moment you do it, you know you've done it, whether you're caught red-handed or not. Obviously, depending on each person's moral values and the seriousness of the "crime" committed, each person will act differently - but the thing we all have in common, is that we all know when we've been naughty, don't we?
So, Mr Politician, don't wait for the police to come calling, or the judge to work his way round to you. If you've been a naughty man, at least show a bit of self-respect, and respect for those of us paying your wages, and leave office! If the full weight of the law does fall on you (a Barnsley MP went to jail for 3 months for fiddling his expenses), so much the better, but at least save a bit of dignity (for yourself and the system) and get out now.

dimarts, 19 de febrer de 2013

Austin Powers #Corruption_and_spying (2)

Continuant amb el tema d'ahir, avui toca espies:
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Continuing with the corruption stories we mentioned in yesterday's post - So how do we know all this? Well, presumably the police are doing their bit but there's also lots of stories being leaked to the press - from people who probably weren't getting their "fare share" of the "slush fund" (new word there: "a fund for bribing public officials or carrying on corruptive propaganda"), or who've been caught and are trying to either blackmail their way out of trouble, or drag the rest down with them. For example, apparently the King of Spain's son-in-law has been on the fiddle for years, but being who he is, well, only his "business" partner was having serious problems with the law. Until he decided to squeal! Watch this space!
But all this fun and games has now taken a new twist into the realm of Austin Powers or Tom and Jerry.....
An ex-girlfriend (can you trust them? Who knows, but it makes for a good story!) of the son of the ex-President of Catalunya (following?), has declared that this respectable President's son, has been driving to Switzerland for years with a car-boot full of €uros in cash (presumably) on behalf of the political party (CiU) they belong to. And how do we know? Well, she has taken her story to the press and the police, but before that, she spilled the beans at a private meal with the leader of the Catalan PP party, hoping she'd make use of the story. She didn't, she says. But how do we know about the meal with the PP? Well, apparently the flower vase in the restaurant was bugged - a private detective firm was following the ex-girlfriend to see what  dirt she would come up with about CiU? Who paid the detectives? Apparently, the socialist party (PSC)! Confused? So are they, I imagine!
This has now all come out in the press and it turns out that the private eyes have been spying on all 3 parties (PP, CiU, PSC) for years, presumably under the orders of the parties themselves! It seems that some parties even pay for the detectives to spy on their own members or ministers!

And you wonder why Merkel is unsure about bailing us out!

dilluns, 18 de febrer de 2013

The Letter - Box Tops #Corrupcio (1)

Fa una mica de mandra, però suposo que toca dir 4 cosetes sobre l'actualitat catalana i espanyola, sobretot pels visitants al bloc des de països amb menys xoriços. Un petit resumen, en anglès:
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Ever since Noah had to pay a 5% back-hander to get permission to build his ark, corruption and dodgy dealings have been linked to politics. That is not to say corruption does not exist in other walks of life (who slips the back-handers to the politicians?), but when it's the very people you have placed your trust in to run the country, well, it makes more of an impact when the s**t hits the fan.
Either the press and police are getting more efficient at finding corruption, or they are just bringing it out into the open, but either way, over the last few years it has been a rolling news story in Catalunya (and Spain). MPs, councillors, mayors, people in high places in public bodies, have all been caught with (presumably or not) their fingers in the pie. And nothing happens. Court cases drag on for years, trials run out of steam, deals are negotiated with the public attorney, small fines are paid and Nobody goes to jail, Nobody pays back the money they've fiddled (or wasted - I'd include all the cases of incompetent misuse of public funds too), and Nobody resigns. And most get voted back into power. 
Recent cases include the treasurer of the governing party in Spain, the right-wing PP party, who has millions of euros stashed away in Swiss bank accounts (proven), and has (apparently) been taking his share of the illegal cash commissions paid by private firms to the party, for favours or work. The other share, he (apparently - not proven yet, but quite clear) has been giving out to PP politicians in regular tax-free cash payments in brown envelopes. Including President Rajoy (supposedly).
Here in Catalonia things are not much better. The judges have just reached  a deal with one of the parties currently in the governmental coalition, whereby they have been proven to have received illegal funding and will get off with a fine, and a slap on the hand. A couple of mayors have also been taken in for questioning, one for receiving back-handers, another for (supposed) links with the Russian mafia. And so on. No one resigns. One of the (Christian-Democrat) politicians involved went as far as to say it's a "natural" habit for humans, as old as prostitution! Another said it was simply one of the special characteristics of the Spanish people!

The only thing I ever get in envelopes are letters, and bills.

dijous, 14 de febrer de 2013

Valentine - Richard Hawley #Festa

Arribat el dia 14 de febrer, i arribat l'eterna debat sobre si és bo celebrar el Dia de Sant Valenti a Catalunya ... si ja tenim un dia "de l'amor", el de Sant Jordi, per que importar una festa anglo-saxona/americana?

Ja sabeu el que penso, perque sempre dic lo mateix (!): per mi, com més festes, millor. La vida ja és prou dura per anar retallant festes!! Seria diferent si vulguessen eliminar les festes catalanes per imposar unes altres, però no és el cas. Clar, com que no sóc tonto, també entenc les reticencies a les festes americanes. Son un example pur i dur del consumisme brutal que domina al mon occidental. Aixo si que em fa rabia, però, total, és un joc que només entres si vols. Jo, sent de Yorkshire, mai he pensat que cal gastar diners per mostrar el meu amor. A Yorkshire tenim maneres més barates, he he :) Celebrem aquest Dia dels Enamorats a baix-cost:)

I quina manera millor que amb el Gran Richard Hawley - de Sheffield !! I un gran video!!

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Saint Valentine's Day is usually questioned over here in Catalonia as, in a sense, it is an imported celebration, when the Catalans have their own Day of Loved Ones, in April. I suppose one reason for some people's reluctance to celebrate it is this - the worries that they may eventually lose their traditions, but I don't think it's the case. Plenty of room for another "festa" in the calendar!!

Another complaint - and this one I do agree with - is that it seems more like a celebration of Consumerism, rather than Love. Being from Yorkshire, that's a point I can see, and refuse to go along with - a Yorkshire man don't need to spend his hard-earned savings to show his love. We have other ways .... (and cheaper ones).

Here's the Great Richard Hawley, from Sheffield by the way! (and a cool video!!)
(BTW; aquest apunt és "reciclat de l'any passat. BTW; this post has been recycled from last year! Deja-vous!)


dilluns, 11 de febrer de 2013

Alfie - EBTG #GrowingUp

Com a professor, una de les pistes que t'indiquen que t'estas fent gran (d'edat) és quan resulta que els teus ex-alumnes ja estan fent el seu camí per aquesta vida també. I sort d'això; sort que ens fem grans (i no quedem pel cami), i sort que els jovens van trobant el seu futur ...
Entre viure en una ciutat menuda, i la comoditat de les xarxes socials, és relativement facil anar esbrinant que fan els ex-alumnes, i més d'una vegada t'emportes una sorpresa, per no dir alegria. Alumnes que han marxat, temporalment o no, a viure, treballar o estudiar fora - Australia, EEUU, Manchester (pobrets!), Finlandia, la llista és llarga. No sé si lo d'haver pres contacte amb altres cultures i punts de vista sobre la vida, que els intentem donar a l'academia (a més de les classes de llengua), els ha ajudat o animat, però potser si. Altres no han marxat, i veus que també han sabut trobar un lloc aqui - amics, estudis, feina, familia, en fi, que van fent via en la vida. O gent que ha decidit emprendre aqui a les Terres de l'Ebre per ells mateixos nous reptes, ja que avui en dia, més que mai, ningu no et regalarà res.

 Podriem esmentar a molta gent, però avui ens quedarem en els dos que m'han vingut al cap justament avui. Dos nois que han decidit crear una empresa (Lo Gambusi) de cervesa artesanal, la primera de les quales acaben de posar al mercat - La Cinteta. No sóc gaire expert en parlar de cervesa, normalment només em dedico a veure-la, pero puc dir-vos que és molt bona! Natural, artesanal, és una d'aquelles cerveses que prens quan dius "ara vaig a prendre una cervesa"! Vull dir, no és qualsevol que prens gelada per acabar amb la sed, sino una que prendries per gaudir de la beguda en si. Té un gust fort però molt agradable. Em recorda als "bitters" anglesos, com els John Smiths per exemple - o tal com expliquen ells mateixos, és un "pale ale".
Com podeu imaginar a banda del punt de venta a Tortosa (i molts de bars ebrencs), també tenen facebook i web per seguir-los.

L'altra ex-alumna que em vé al cap precisament "today of all days" és l'Anna, una periodista que combina la seva feina fixa (espero!) amb el projecte de Surt De Casa, una mena de Timeout ebrenc. Juntament amb una amiga, i diversos col·laboradors, han montat aquest projecte que ens dona a tothom l'informació necessari sobre el cultura, mainstream i "freaky", que s'està cuinant a aquestes terres, inexplicadament oblidades massa sovint. A més a més s'impliquen totalment en els seus objectius, sovint promovent nous esdeveniments i trobades que han donat una xispa a la vida ebrenca. Com que em consta que l'Anna també va sumant anys, avuí la cancó va per ella ....
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One of the things which remind teachers that we are growing old is seeing our ex-pupils out in the real world. A good thing - both the fact that we grow old, and the fact that the next generation is finding its feet. We've been really lucky to see hundreds of students pass through our language school over the years, and now we find more and more of them making their own way through life. Many have moved abroad, either temporarily or not; some to study, others to work; Australia, USA, Finland, some poor sods have even ended up in Manchester (only joking!), the list goes on. Maybe spending time with a "foreigner" (that's what they call the English over here!) with a different view point on life opened their eyes, or gave them the spark to set off on their own adventures. Maybe not.
Others have finished their studies (with a good level of English), found decent jobs, started families ... some have actually started up their own little local adventure. Too many to mention (or remember) today, but I'll talk about two who come to mind.
Two young chaps have just opened up their own micro-brewery in Tortosa, Lo Gambusi, making traditional "hand-crafted" beer. Their first brew has just been launched and is already a success locally. Not much an expert on talking about beer, as I usually just drink the stuff, but I can say that it's a world apart from the typical San Miguel type lager usually associated with Catalunya. This is more a "beer's beer"! That is, one you do not drink to merely quench your first, but rather drink to enjoy. It has a strong and pleasant taste, reminiscent of an English "bitter" (or pale ale) such as John Smith's.
The other ex-student who comes to mind, today of all days, is Anna. One of our best students ever, she is now a journalist, but has also started her own little adventure. Together with a friend, and other collaborators, they have launched a local entertainment and culture guide - a kind of TimeOut for the Ebro lands. It's been quite a success covering all kinds of cultural and social news and events. Keep it up Anna!
So here's a song for Anna, who I think is also aware that years may come and years may go, but the important thing is to look ahead, and enjoy the moment.



dijous, 7 de febrer de 2013

Quicksand - Miles Kane #DijousLlarder

En el nostre afan per no deixar gaires festes sense celebrar, se'ns amontona la feina. Avui Dijous Llarder, o Jarder on com se digui, dies de carnaval, i dimarts que vé és Pancake Day, rapidament seguit per Sant Valentí ... au, a xalar, que son 4 dies ...
Quina musica posarieu en una bona festa? Jo, aquesta ...
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Today is Dijous Jarder (literally Fat Thursday) in Catalonia, which is a bit like the famous Mardi Gras in New Orleans I suppose (if the James Bond films show an accurate view of New Orleans). People typically go out to the country in the afternoon with friends for a picnic, often involving thick ommelette sandwiches or black puddings, and a nice cup of hot chocolate .... in the morning kids go to school in fancy dress ... and a good time is had by all, before the restrictions of Lent set in next week. However, very few people seem to follow the practises of Lent nowadays, but celebrations like today's are always welcome for believers and non-believers alike. Anyway, as we all know, all these celebrations were already taking place in society before the church took them over. Pagans forever!
So, enjoy yourselves ... and coming soon, Pancake Day, Valentine's Day :)



diumenge, 3 de febrer de 2013

Bigoti Vermell / Petons entre Camions - Anna Roig i l'Ombre de Ton Chien #33Revolucions

Un dels millors programes a la tele si ja estas cansat de tants debats amb politics, tantes series pseudo-americanes, tanta basura, pos, al Canal 33 fan 33 Revolucions sobre cantants catalans que potser no sentiras als 40 Principals. I ahir va tocar els GRANS "Anna Roig i l'Ombre de Ton Chien" - casualitats de la vida (o no!), un dels pocs grups que hem vist en concert ultimament.
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This Catalan group were on a new music TV programme, "33Revolucions", which specializes in an intimate and original look at local artists, offering a non-mainstream insight into the artists, their lifestyle, thoughts and music. By coincidence we saw this group last year in concert in Tortosa. They are well-worth checking out and sing in both Catalan and French,


(I'm going to draw a red moustache on the photo I took with my ex-boyfriend in Paris, to try and make those boring moments seem a little funny ...) (two lovers who meet up in motorway service areas and share kisses hidden between long-distance lorries ...)