Not much on this front really. My mum is still struggling with her knee, and the family doctor keeps trying (i.e. guessing) what the correct treatment is instead of referring her to a specialist.
I wish I was there in order to move things forward, doctors in Mexican public hospitals need lots of gentle direction and this would be one case in which I would really demand to see an specialist, my mum is too shy to be forceful :-(
The rest of the family is doing great, some of them joyously overwhelmed by caring for their small children.
In last month's diary things seemed good for my mercenary IT activities, now management in $BIG_MULTINATIONAL_CORP is doing a global reorganization, that means most management positions go to the US, most foot soldiers will speak Polish. Indian accented English or ironically enough Mexican Spanish or Texan English. We UK based forces are no longer "prioritary".
Since management would be in the US, guess where contractors would be drawn from? Not London for sure. Argh!
- Travel (and running).
Beach towns all around the world are horridily depressing. Acapulco, Surfers Paradise, Swakopmund, even Biarritz. Coins of the same purse.
Bournmouth has tried desperately to keep the beach front free from tacky development, but the few shops and attractions are as tacky as any, downtown is the typical English string of well known chains, and service remains as elusive as ever (I sat in my hotel lobby for half an hour before I was offered a drink. Twice. In one of the restaurants I had to stand up and find somebody to pay. I am almost certain I could walk out without paying and they would not notice.
I have just given up on that. England just doesn't do service).
The attraction of the town is of course the beach, and that was great. I did my last long training run (13km) in preparation for tomorrow's half marathon in Bath, 9 of those km were done in the sand. The weather was horrible: windy, misty and cold, which strangely adds to the sense of achievement once you finish ( I was by no means alone, several people were braving the elements, some with their unhappy dogs).
- Opera & music
Watched "Nixon in China" and "Iphigenie in Tauride" (sp?) live broadcasts from the NY Met Opera.
I really liked Nixon in China, if it wasn't for the difficulty of some of the arias it would descend into farcical musical territory (as a matter of fact John Adams requests that some of the voices are amplified, an abolute no,no in traditional opera). Nixon is portrayed as a visionary albeit failed character, in hindsight he is perhaps the most interesting political figure ever to come out from the US and I think the opera captures that.
As for Iphigenie, Placido Domingo and Martha Graham were singing, so a dry obscure opera became an absolute treat.
- Film: the Oscars
I remember when I first saw Melissa Leo in a film a couple of years ago and asked myself how it was possible she was not better known, she was nominated for best actress but lost against one of the usual suspects, so it was great to see her winning this year and to know she broke the pompous etiquette of the ceremony. She is the best US female actor I have seen in recent years, rivaled only by some of the major European ones ( Juliette Binoche,Isabelle Huppert, Penelope Cruz).
Some critics are bemused by not seeing Inception's director nominated and I have to agree. As much as I liked the King's Speech, the direction of that is pretty conventional (most of the time it is just 2 or 3 actors in a room!), contrast that to keeping the several strands of reality coherent during Inception or even to control the characters in True Grit.
As for The King's Speech, I really don't know what the Academy members are smoking (OK, I can guess, but they should have clear heads when voting). It is a very amenable movie, but cinematically it is very conventional. The anecdote may be interesting, but all happens literally in one room and frankly it is not that engaging. Weird choice in a year were other films were daring and more inventive.
I don't know why I don't talk much about TV. I watch substantial amounts of it, perhaps is an unconscious desire to avoid the nasty undercurrent in the Net of people boasting about not watching any or even proud of not having one, in a kind of luddism that is utterly baffling.
Todays British TV, if one is selective, is a great means of high quality entertainment, so a couple of highlights:
I am enthralled by "Human Planet", which presents people living in different environments making use of all their ingenuity. The silient point is the novel approach to depict little known people, it is not the colonialist, condescending view in which the subjects are approached with a clear patronizing attitude, but in the contrary, highlighting how people are just people and how they solve tricky issues, from the women in the Sahara mapping the few waterholes in the desert using stars as navigational aides, to the fox hunter in Mongolia domesticating eagles or the children hunting and cooking tarantulas in the rain forest (health and safety? this only shows how insanely protective of children people in rich countries had become).
The only US series I follow at the moment is House. I am sure USians know by now that Hugh Lorie (sp?) is English, which makes perfect sense when you see his over the top performances of yesteryears in Black Adder and other shows. It is quite a thing to hear his natural English accent :-)
Watching so much TV and movies ( I watched several Japanese ones since my last diary, but they are not worth mentioning) leaves little time for reading (I could read more in the train, but now I use most of that time to check my email, may the bunnies bless smart phones, specially the ones without fruity associations) and I am reading obscure books in Spanish at the moment (translations from Catalan and Basque to Spanish, er, Castillian I mean) so for now lets skip this.
- Cat (and Polish builders).
Cat is utterly scared by the ongoing renovation of my kitchen. It is that or the constant chatter of the Polish builders doing the work.
A Lithuanian chap came around to do some of the work and the Polish gave him the cold shoulder :-) Long live to the EU...
The (stunning) girl that does the cleaning in my place is Polish as well, as are many of my colleagues, personal trainer, etc. They have a work ethic that is admirable, the builders for example don't do the shoddy stuff that one comes to expect from English ones. For example they hide pipes out of view, in the walls, without boxing them, so all finishes are clean and pleasent, and they were not horrified when I asked them to tile the whole floor in the kitchen, even the bits that would be out of view.
English builders always look at me in amazement when I request this kind of proper finshing of building work, the Polish builders give me the thumbs up (and charge the same regardless of there being more work to be done).
As for my colleagues they complain bitterly when a computer is rebooted without reason, wanting to investigate the root cause of the problem. Bless them, they are not yet poisoned by the practicalities of supporting a money making machine :-0
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