CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Sunday, 30 March 2008

A quick update

This last week has been a difficult one. On Tuesday, I went to the island's capital, Santa Cruz and, to cut a long story short, although I don't think I overdid anything or walked too far particularly, by the time I was coming home at lunch time, I could bearly manage to put one foot in front of the other.

When I got home, I fell into bed, where I've spent most of the last 5 days, with a migraine-like headache I can't shake (complete with blurred vision), nausea, the same scary and terrific pains in my chest that I've had since last October; feeling the cold, plus a whole assortment of miscellaneous aches and pains in my shoulders, back, hips, knees and legs that have literally had me in tears.

This is how things have been, on and off, for the last dozen years or so, but never quite this severe before. In that time, I've become adept at pacing myself to be able to do as much as I can, without overstepping my limits.

I'm used to being occupied and busy; people are often surprised by how much I get done and, I always believed that "the more you do, the more you can do", but it's no longer working for me. About all I've been able to do is drink water and sleep on and off, because even just getting up to go to the bathroom needed great effort and tired me out, to collapse, breathless, trembling and sweating from the exertion, back into bed, where I'd keep dozing off involuntarily during the day, whenever the pain subsided enough or even despite it, to still sleep most of the night too.

Today has been the first day that I've even bothered with the computer.

Seriously though, I really could do with some help.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Poisoned Future

Bit of a rant ... Because one of the main reasons I moved to this area of Tenerife is because it's inside a protected, Rural Park, where poisons are were "prohibited". Then a sign was put up that indicates that the area has been treated with a herbicide, Glitan to control the weeds and, I'd rather they didn't. The tourist blurb says:
"The Teno Rural Park is one of the most beautiful areas on Tenerife. This park, traditionally isolated due to its limited and difficult access, with its mountainous massif in the north-west of Tenerife is of great ecological value, both scenic and cultural: it includes many examples of traditional island architecture. Large areas of laurisilva forest still survive here, a type of rich leafy forest vegetation, and are the home of many species of animals, such as, the Osprey. It is precisely its rich birdlife that has led to its being declared a protected area for birds. ..."
Fountain of YouthThe area is also only just emerging from subsistence farming, but it's becoming more and more abandoned, because young people don't want to get their hands dirty (it's said) and all the rules and regulations make it nearly impossible anyway.

So, with nobody working the land, weeds grow, rats multiply and people poison.

The Teno Rural Park is managed by the Cabildo (Tenerife Island Corporation), who are the same people responsible for the environment and ... for doing things like weed killing, as well as the annual rat control program.

And each year, their measures seem to get more "unnatural".

Just a couple of years ago, they would they would get out-of-work laborers (and, I think, offenders who'd copped for community service) to clear the weeds at the sides of these lanes and there must be plenty of such people available.

The change in methods, even if this chemical is less toxic than other herbicides and pesticides, seems less like progress and more like a regression to me. Anyway, the sign was taped onto the pipes on top of our horse trough and I understand that this "important tourist attraction" must be kept neat and weed free, but I can only hope this is in no way contaminating the water supply.

It is (or was) untreated, clean water straight from the mountain galleries. This is less than 50 yards up the lane from the bridge to the property where I live and, it means that, despite living in this beautiful rural valley where they ought to be out gallivanting around, my poor cats now have to remain locked indoors. Among other reasons, but with ever more frequent and stronger chemical treatments, the cats haven't been out in over a year, which rather defeats the object of deliberately moving to an area because it was ideal for them.

You might tell me to shut up and stop moaning, because getting told at all here is miraculous and, this is better than last year's signs, where the date of the treatment was left BLANK. This year's signs at least looked more like warning signs. Yes, looked, past tense, because the wind and rain had seen them off mostly only 3-4 days into the 10-day "danger" period.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Irish Logic, Pythonesque DIY and Eurovision

My mother's maiden name was pure Irish, despite the fact that she's from a long line of "true" Cockneys, born wivin the sound of Bow Bells before they were silenced (the first time, I think) and my father's mother was brought up in Cork, in Ireland, so there was probably no hope for me really ... When I was a kid, I remember  my gran used to get a real shamrock (someone sent it from Ireland), to wear on St. Paddy's Day every year.

Anyway, I was chatting to my mother on the phone yesterday afternoon, about what I have absolutely no recollection now. Yes, this probably is a "senior moment" on my part, but that's not the main reason for "losing the plot."

Whatever important issue the conversation was about, mother meant to refer to MI5 (the United Kingdom's counter-intelligence and security agency), but what came out of her mouth was MFI (flat pack furniture Made For Idiots).

For once mother, yes, I can see how you'd easily confuse the two! :)

Given the farcical nature of so many events being reported out of the UK in recent times, I have absolutely no trouble imagining that security services (and British authorities in general), have employed the same bloke who writes the bloody useless instruction leaflets for MFI, IKEA or anything else that requires self-assembly, to re-write the "spy manual".

At this point, both of us collapsed into fits of girlish giggles, as we imagined "Flat Pack DIY Spy Kits", made from crappy MDF (Medium-density fibreboard). That thought probably should only have occurred to the "hallucinatory" mind of Monty Python, Terry Gilliam.

Where was I? Planet earth? Oh no, it was Eurovision.

Well, I wasn't, but Naomi commented that Spain's Rodolfo Chikilicuatre reminded her of a Karaoke singer. Whilst I don't disagree with her, that, I think, raises the standards for karaoke singing, as I remember it! What more can I say, other than that I used to compere karaoke at an Irish bar in Playa de las Americas. We had an Irish vet in one night, singing drunkenly, so I warned people not to take their pets to him the next morning, because he might try to castrate the females.

Another night in that very same bar, some bozo had asked if my name was, "Pamela like in Pamela Anderson?" and, being blessed (then) with "The Gift of the Gab", or at least, ability to string sentences and throw back the odd one liner, I said "Nah mate, more brain, less tits."

Recalling this made me realize too just how boringly normal I've been becoming in my old age and I think it's time to (in)correct that! (Oh yes, San Patrick is also celebrated in the Canary Islands, as Mojo Canario tell us, "with big drunken parties." They don't say? Is the Pope Catholic?)

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Birmingham is the weirdest place to live in the UK

Birmingham: city centre scene at corner of New Street and Corporation Street
View eastward, along New Street. This was 1957
"IT'S OFFICIAL - Birmingham is the weirdest place to live in the UK.", say the Birmingham Mail in "a clever piece of publicity", as Birmingham: It's Not Shit's Jon Bounds describes it.
This is probably the first "marketing gimmick" for the city that I can actually imagine Brummies getting behind and being proud of. If the British, in general, are experts at putting themselves down, then Brummies have converted this self-depreciating humour into an art form. Because after all, who the hell wants to be labeled as boringly "normal"? Not me for a start. I've made a lifelong career of being weird and proud, so I would say Brum probably produces some of the weirdest members of the human race.

Born at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, Birmingham in 1957, I was initially dragged up in Great Barr, which is virtually next door to Aston.

Where, says the article:
"Between 1957 and 1958, Cynthia Appleton, a housewife from Fentham Road, Aston, claimed she was repeatedly visited by "spacemen" who showed off their futuristic technology, taught her Venusian and got her pregnant with a "space baby".
(Mrs Appleton dear, if what you got was pregnant, then what they showed you wasn't just their "futuristic technology": it was something else entirely.)

Bloody hell, that's the same year. This can't just be a coincidence, can it?

Tell you, this really is The Twilight Zone fodder (listen)!

As Jon Bounds says, "it's all crap obviously". Actually, he says "obviously" twice (see title of his post), which tells you two things; 1) Brummies say obviously a lot, obviously and 2) unless you are one, it probably isn't obvious at all.

Also notice that we Brummies often describe ourselves as "mildly sarcastic".

This should show you that we also attempt to master "gross understatement."

What I think about "tiny winged figures, wearing goldfish-bowl helmets, [...] shaking the Christmas tree, dislodging the fairy", is that dear old Mrs Hingley had been at the cooking sherry or smoking herbal fags! Or, simply watching too much of The Flintstones. Mind you, I worked in Oldbury once and, since I couldn't understand a bloody word those Yam Yams were saying, perhaps a space ship had gone off in that direction ...

It's all so long ago it's a blur ... Although I hadn't remembered the date, I was aware at the time, that I'd left Birmingham, the first time, on the very same day that the "old" "new" Bull Ring shopping center was opened, on May 29, 1964.



Video: Bull Ring Centre Opened (1964)

I was only 7 then. The only reason I was familiar with the city at all was through going back to visit my grandmother and, later when I lived in Brum between 1984 and 1992. It struck me, looking at images of the Birmingham skyline, that I wouldn't know the place at all now. I only recognize the Rotunda, which again, wasn't finished when I left and the, also then still under construction, GPO/PO/BT Tower.

In the 80's, a 4 story Victorian "mansion" in Kings Heath was equivalent to the price of a garage down in "the smoke". My problem (like everyone else), is that I only ever had a shoebox budget. I've also lived in Handsworth, Selly Oak, Kings Heath and the cheap end of Bournville - Stirchley - although the back gate of Cadbury's was in my road, so we used to say it was Bournville, hoping to add an extra 5 grand to the value of the house!

The weather, even when it wasn't weird, was a good reason to leave again!

In reality, I always seemed to be "just visiting" the place of my birth and when I went back to live there, no longer with a Brummie accent, the "natives" treated me as an outsider. This always felt strange, actually, to be the only person in my family to be born in Birmingham, yet the one who knew the city least. This is probably responsible for shaping my feelings that "I don't belong anywhere, therefore I belong everywhere": a true citizen of the world and, also allows me to make my home anywhere I lay my sombrero.

Birmingham named "weirdest place"

Photo © Ben Brooksbank (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Thursday, 6 March 2008

How to stick one on your customers

... greatly insult them and make them hate you even more. Unelco, the monopoly that purveys occasional electricity in the Canary Islands, today sent me a credit note, a list of six "incidences" during 2007 and a letter explaining that it has been decreed that customers who had suffered a certain level of interruptions during last year are to receive compensation.

Hurray, you say? Well, not so friggin' fast ... You don't get real money, of course. The credit note says that the amount is to be discounted from the next bill, (so they can go on earning interest on it, presumably.) And the dumbshits could have earned interest on a whole lot more money if they hadn't wasted it on sending customers three whole A4 printed pages of chopped down trees, not to mention the cost of the unnecessary postage, because they could have just put this in with that next bill that they're deducting it from.

The frequent power cuts are less trouble than when electricity shorts, going off and then on again, repeatedly, or when it returns with a surge, both of which always cause damage to appliances.

The last time this happened, it fried a phone, but I've lost count of the TV's, stereos, videos, coffee machines, phones, computers ... that have "mysteriously" given up the ghost after power cuts.

Who's going to pay for these? Not them, of course, because going to their offices (repeatedly) to make reclamations they are sure to disallow, always cost more than the appliance is worth.

So, you wanna know what is the vast sum of "compensation" I'm going to receive for the five "computable incidents" (No sorry, one was a Fuerza mayor / Major Force / Act of God and therefore not payable. Although, as an atheist, I wish to claim exemption / entitlement), i.e. power cuts of between 2 hours and 4.5 hours in 2007 was? Bear in mind that I've been on the island since 1992 and this compensation was as a result of something established in 2002, however, this is the very first time we've been compensated at all (yet I've never had an electricity bill under 100 euros) and, compared to prior years, 2007 really wasn't that bad.

They're allowing me a whole 4.34 euros - about £3.30. In Total.

They're having a fucking laugh, aren't they?

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

My Birthday ...

Wild Daisies

Tried to let the event slide past unnoticed this year, but all sorts of websites and forums "conspired" to remind me with a barrage of "Happy Birthday" spam. Alright, maybe spam is a bit strong of a word, but at my age, being reminded at all is always unsolicited! Worse yet, with so many websites being personalized for the user these days, everywhere I go, I keep being told how damn old I am. They all clicked over and added on another year automatically and I'd rather they didn't, thank you. This is a novelty that probably wears off by the time one reaches 13 1/2. So, what could I do to commiserate with myself? ...

Oh yes, I know, food! I like food I do and, being a lazy bitch, settled for a restaurant that I can see from the house, the recently renamed (well, last year) Asadero Los Pedregales. This also gave me a chance to take a nice little stroll across the valley and see the pretty spring flowers coming up and all the blossoms on the trees. Actually, that did cheer me up no end, because I distinctly remember many occasions in the UK when I had tried to have birthday parties in early March, only to have people cancelling right and left because they couldn't drive through the horrid snow. Here it's been warm enough that I've broken a sweat a couple of times. Even so, to be honest, I'd have had to walk a heck of a lot farther than across the valley to counteract the bad effects of the huge steak and naughty pudding, but if you're going to treat yourself, you do it proper, don't you?

Spring flowers in the valley

Blossoms

Half a cow and chips. Not a vegetable in sight!

Heart attack pudding: Pastel de tres leches

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