Monday, June 30, 2014

Hoping for a pest free summer

Drought is a real problem for this area of Spain. However there are some benefits to having no rain, the main one being that mosquitoes need water to lay their eggs in. Without the puddles that appear after rainstorms, the insects simply can't breed. 

Since there has been very little rain, there have been very few reports of problems with the little biters. It is possible that we can get through the summer with very few infestations which is a relief.

The other problem that we face are infestations of cockroaches. The council have already been around the estate and dropped chemical bombs into the drains to try and control these invasive insects. They also control the rat population by applying poisons in the drains that will rid us of those rodents as well.

Last year we saw several rats in our garden, usually on top of the wall that divides us from our neighbours. There was also evidence of their presence when I left a crate of oranges by the shed because they had been gnawing holes in the fruit.  

Thankfully, since then there have been no sightings of rats and indeed I found one dead in the far corner of the garden so someone has obviously been putting down poison for them. 

There is little we can do to stop the wasps from coming down to the pool for a drink and we still have legions of ants in spite of spraying regularly. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I’m going the NAS route

From my days of taking photographs and movie on film I have umpteen boxes and albums of photos and several large reels of home movies. I may never look at any of them again but that does not mean I will part with them.

Once I moved over to digital, my pictures and video were stored on the hard drive of a computer and were moved from one machine to another as I upgraded. I never thought to back the files up until I realised just how much of a collection I had. That is when I bought an external hard drive to store backup copies. The problem is that, making a backup is time consuming and therefore something that I neglect to do on a regular, scheduled basis.

As my hard drive gradually fills up, I know that it is time to archive a lot of those pictures and video that I will probably not want to use again but don’t want to lose. At the same time, it would be nice to be able to access files that I do use regularly on other devices around the house even outside the house via the internet.

I’d heard of NAS and investigated the idea of storing files using one. Originally though, these seemed frighteningly complicated not to mention expensive. These days though, the systems that run them have become a lot more user friendly and the prices have dropped.

A NAS, for those who are not familiar, is Network Attached Storage. Instead of being attached to one computer in your home network via USB, a NAS is attached to your network via your router. The date stored on it is therefore available to any computer or device on the network and in many cases outside your home via the internet.

In its basic form, a NAS is a box which contains a hard drive driven by a processor and software. More sophisticated NAS boxes though contain multiple drives and offer more facilities and more flexibility in terms of set up.

We all know because we have been told that hard drives can fail, some know only too well from bitter experience the consequences of a hard drive failure. My current computer has two hard drives in what is called a Raid 0 array. The date is shared between the two drives in an attempt to speed up data transfer. However, if one of those drives fails, all is lost because the other one only contains part of the information. OK, I have my data on an external drive but could not restore my computer from it.

Fortunately, there are other versions of Raid that protect you from this sort of problem, the most common of which is Raid 1. In a Raid 1 array, the data is stored simultaneously on two hard drives so that if one drive fails, the data is still intact on the other.  If I was starting from scratch, that is how my computer would be set up with two identical disks. The downside of this approach is that you need two drives of equal capacity to store only half the total i.e. two 2Tb drives to store just 2Tb of data.

Storing a regularly updated complete copy of your system on a NAS provides the same security as a Raid 1 array. However, it is possible to take that level of security further because NAS boxes that take two drives allow you to set them up in a Raid 1 array and the better ones even allow you to remove a faulty drive and replace it whilst it is running.

This may all sound a bit over the top but if your data is as important to you as mine is to me, then it makes sense to have the highest level of security that is reasonable. For those who might be interested, I have a Synology NAS with two 3Tb drives on order which I will set up in a Raid 1 array. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Corpus Christi videos online

You can now watch the two parts of my video of the celebrations for Corpus Christi by following the links below:

Part one  Transferring the drawing and filling in the shapes.

Part two The procession at night followed by the fireworks.

Auditorium – a white elephant

The Auditorium in Bigastro was one of the vanguard projects of the socialist council.

Unfortunately, as times became hard, it became a millstone around the council’s neck. Not only did it cost a pretty penny to build, it costs a small fortune to clean, to heat in winter and cool in summer. It is vastly underused. In fact, apart from music students, it is pretty much empty for the whole day. At tea time, school children use the library to do their homework but of course they are now on summer holiday.

In order to cut down cost, the council have changed the opening hours. For July, it will be open from 8am until 2pm. It will also be open on Friday evenings if there is a demand and for August, it will be closed altogether. 

PS I keep using English expressions in my posts. Whilst my English readers will understand what I mean, the translation to Spanish must confuse local readers.

For example: a millstone around your neck! Just imagine the burden of having to drag around a heavy block of stone used to grind wheat into flour and you will understand better. A pretty penny is an expression meaning a lot of money and a white elephant means the auditorium is an expense that the town could well do without

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A lot of work and effort

These pictures, taken from the church’s Facebook page, show how much effort the people in Bigastro made to put together that floral carpet.
10305972_881348451879659_1258608280502372106_n 10364204_881348878546283_6981939079007647509_n
10388185_881348891879615_1946937302497545034_n 10393671_881348971879607_4987259040978066706_n
 10432490_881348898546281_6804881187368294313_n  10440986_881348465212991_4013885545934632147_n
 10455195_881348535212984_5514399781999668962_n 10471197_881348551879649_3274388507433226661_n

Will it be three times unlucky for Suarez?

The Liverpool and Uruguay striker was banned for three matches for biting an opponent when he played for Ajax. Three years later, he was banned for 10 matches by the FA for biting the Chelsea player, Branislav Ivanovic.

It certainly looks as though he was determined to take a chunk out of Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder in the World Cup match last night. The red teeth marks are clear to see in the photographs.

Suárez says of the 'bite' claims: "These situations happen on the field. I had contact with his shoulder, nothing more, things like that happen all the time." In reply Chiellini says, “Suárez is a sneak and he gets away with it because Fifa want their stars to play in the World Cup.” The Uruguay captain claims that the marks were from an earlier injury and that the British press are fuelling the fire against their striker.

I have no idea because, as I have said before, Canal + are not showing the World Cup matches. Given his history though and the evidence, it does seem possible that Suarez is guilty and should be punished accordingly.

Perhaps Liverpool and Uruguay should consider putting a muzzle on him like you do with dangerous dogs to prevent any further incidents!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Totally stupid

Between taking video of the people filling in the outlines on the floral carpet and going back down into the town to take video of the procession, I decided to make some changes to the settings on my video camera.

What I wanted to do was set the camera so I could make adjustments to the white balance on the fly. I knew that the light would change from the cold light of evening to street lighting and wanted to be be able to compensate for that rather than let the camera do it for me.

What I managed to do was set everything to manual – focus, white balance, exposure etc. As I started to shoot more video, I quickly realised that the exposure was all wrong and so I quickly reset that but missed resetting the focus – DOH!

What that meant was that all the video of the children coming out of the church and part of the procession is out of focus and can’t be used. I am totally gutted and really annoyed with myself. Like a wedding, these sort of events cannot be repeated. If you miss the shots, then that is gone for good.

Thankfully, I noticed the problem when I was taking shots on Calle Purisima and was able to correct it so I didn’t mess up everything.

Lesson learnt the hard way, leave the settings on the camera alone in future!

Preparing the floral carpet

I was mostly taking video but managed to get a few stills of the process.
DSC00142 DSC00143
DSC00144 DSC00145
DSC00146 DSC00147
 DSC00148  DSC00149
DSC00150 DSC00159

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Busy, busy, busy

Yesterday, I met up with the town priest. It seems he was most impressed with my DVD of "the Encuentro" and wondered if I would be kind enough to make a video of Corpus Christi.

Last night was the concert for Corpus Christi so I had photos of that to process this morning. Then I hot footed down to the town to take some video of them drawing out the floral carpet in the square by the church. They apparently started at 7am and so were well under way by 9am when I got there.

Back home for breakfast and then more work on my photos which are now online. Having finished those, I went back to the town to video the people filling in the outlines. By the time I got there the centre part of the carpet was finished and looked amazing. They were working on the surround filling in with chopped up pieces of pine.

At 8pm, Pam and I will go down to see the dancing that follows Holy Mass and the candle lit procession around the town - more video.

Over the next few days I will edit the video together and finally burn it onto a DVD. I hope the priest and the parishioners like it!

I am taking a few stills as I go along so you should see something of the day's events tomorrow sometime.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A different type of model

If all those pictures of young ladies at the World Cup is not your thing, maybe you would prefer the exhibition of military models on show in Torrevieja.

From the Coast Rider.

The second Exhibition of Military Modelling to be held in Torrevieja is taking place at the moment in the exhibition rooms of the Vista Allegre and remains open until the end of this month Sunday, June 29th  The exhibition proved extremely popular last year with 17,000 people visiting and this year the organisers are hoping to beat that number and exceed 20,000 visitors.There are more than 500 exhibits on display provided by nearly 80 exhibiting

individuals and associations including the Royal British Legion, the Royal Navy Association, Royal Marines Association and the Royal Air Forces Association. The models range from army vehicles and tanks to naval vessels and also military figures and aircraft. But this is much more than just an exhibition of models although they in themselves have been beautifully constructed and crafted. Alongside the models there are examples of uniforms, a police motorbike and various other exhibits which put the models into context making the exhibition not just a celebration of model making but also an illustration of the work that many in the Armed Forces, Police and Guardia Civil carry out.

Of special interest perhaps at this time are the exhibits and pictures relating to the Guardia Real or Royal Guard, the unit specifically tasked with protecting the King of Spain and other members of the Royal Family. Members of the unit which consists of almost 2,000 troops also guard the Royal palaces.

As mentioned before the exhibition is open until June 29th in the Vista Allegre exhibition room between the hours of 10.00 am and 2.00 pm and then again from 5.00 pm until 9.00 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays inclusive and from 10.00 am and 1.30 pm on Sundays and Fiesta days. The exhibition room is closed on Mondays. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Call me shallow

Sometimes watching the spectators is more interesting than the game as these picture from the Daily Mail  show.

article-0-1EB4D3B500000578-3_470x677 article-0-1EDD6C1F00000578-660_470x677
article-0-1ECD29D700000578-64_964x842 article-0-1EDC7C8A00000578-258_964x676
article-0-1EE50FA700000578-920_964x992 article-0-1EE55F9800000578-951_964x950
article-0-1EED77F400000578-726_964x705  article-0-1EEE5FEE00000578-864_964x962
 article-0-1EF7A73E00000578-624_470x876 article-0-1EF7A00800000578-984_470x767

And just to give a bit more balance..


Friday, June 20, 2014

Ladies behaving badly

First we saw the sorry state of the ladies at Aintree, now it is the turn of the lades at Ascot. Liverpool or Berkshire, it is the same story wherever these race meetings are held.

“How was your day out at the races?”  Reply, “I don’t remember.” Maybe these pictures from the Daily Mail will help.

 article-2662351-1EEDF7C900000578-705_964x617  article-2662351-1EEDFC6700000578-927_964x742
Litter louts Sleeping it off
 article-2662351-1EEE3E3800000578-255_964x1076  article-2663179-1EE44DDA00000578-204_964x1168
In need of attention Now that is classy
 article-2663179-1EEDF6EC00000578-478_964x671  article-2663179-1EEDFC8200000578-592_964x669
She even posed for the camera As did this lady

Just get on the plane and go home!

Shall we talk about England’s game last night? I cannot find anything positive to say except that Wayne Rooney scored his first World Cup goal.

What can we say about Gerrard? Did he think he was playing for Liverpool when he helped Suarez score?

To stay in the competition England need Italy to beat both Costa Rica and  Uruguay.  England then have to beat Costa Rica themselves by sufficient goals to go through. Theoretically it is possible but what would be the point? 

The new King in pictures

These pictures, taken from the online newspapers, show King Filipe VI of Spain.
1403169189_867763_1403176606_album_normal 1403169189_867763_1403179779_album_normal
 1403169189_867763_1403177138_album_normal  1403177476754

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The proclamation today

Felipe VI became King of Spain at midnight last yesterday. Today will be the official proclamation starting with the presentation at the Zarzuela Palace of his sash as Captain General of the Army.

From there the King, Queen Letizia, Princess of Asturias and the Infanta Sofía will go to the House of Representatives for the ceremony of proclamation; attended by all the members of parliament, the presidents of the seventeen autonomous communities along with representatives of the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla.

Outside of Congress, the King will be greeted by Mariano Rajoy. They will enter the building by the Puerta de Los Leones. Inside, Filipe will then be greeted by the president of the Chamber, Jesus Posada and Senator Pio Garcia Escudero. In the gallery will be Queen Sofia, Infanta Elena and sisters of the King, the Infantas Pilar and Margarita.

After taking the oath to the Constitution, the national anthem will be played followed by Filipe’s first speech to the floor of the House.

From the steps of the Puerta de Los Leones, the King, Queen, Princess of Asturias and the Infanta Sofia will then watch a military parade before setting off by car to the Royal Palace. The Royal Horse Guards will accompany the car on its journey through Madrid.

At the Palace, the Royal party will greet the crowds from the balcony before meeting their guests in the Throne Room. Finally there will be a reception for over 2,000 guests which of course does not include any foreign royalty.

Madrid has been prepared for the occasion with streets on the route decked with flags, flowers and pictures of the new king. Seven hundred buses have been especially decorated with flags and the colours of the Spanish flag. 

It might all sound very grand but in terms of this type of occasion, it is all very low key bearing no comparison with the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953.

That’s the end of that

No need to tell Spaniards that the World Cup is over for them. It must have been humiliating to watch as their side, that had won two European cups and the World Cup, were knocked out by Chile in the first stage of the competition.

We were unable to watch the game last night because none of the channels on Canal + have signed up to televise the competition. Maybe they knew in advance that there was no point.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Corpus Christi 2014


The concert on Saturday (at 10pm) featuring both the band and the choir promises to be worthwhile.

Then on Sunday there will be the procession at 8pm. I won’t be missing it this year!

Whetting your appetite

These are photos from last year’s celebration for Corpus Christi – sadly not taken by me because I was on holiday in Mallorca at the time.

10337764_876817982332706_8302257205575740846_n 10350427_876817858999385_1692081193734543217_n
10411925_876817955666042_1587217858599253730_n 10414883_876818068999364_4392699618048658560_n
10417465_876817875666050_7790669973043758312_n 10445129_876817872332717_1336537302069487776_n
 10491117_876818098999361_1571554112108143323_n 10492432_876818018999369_8514181626558768434_n