Sunday, February 28, 2010

Home again, more technology in my life, waiting for Pedro J Ramírez, capricious Mother Nature and more.

Some of the devastation caused by the earthquake in Chile this weekend.
Hi again

It’s a quiet Sunday after the storms (but more on that later) and my trips to Barcelona and Brussels. Oli is at work on some voluntary project and Suzy is in Cádiz down south with Gaby for the weekend. It’s been a tiring week as I think I hadn’t really recovered from my travels and it felt a bit uphill at times. Intermittent headaches didn’t help either. However this weekend I have slept like a baby and feel ready to face whatever next week beholds.

So what did I do this week? Well Monday was for myself and organising work. On Tuesday I went into the office for the weekly development meeting but at midday managed a quick foray to El Corte Inglés to buy a music deck for my Iphone as well as a webcam for my pc to use Skype, both influenced by Sandie during our weekend in Brussels. No sooner had I installed Skype later that afternoon then my cousin Sasha called me and there we were the two of us chatting thanks to this technology. My Father who is nearly 91 joined in and I was very “chuffed” to see him using Skype. I don’t think he could quite believe what was happening. Sandra and I later chatted too and here is a picture to capture that moment. Up till now I thought I didn’t need Skype as all my phone calls are paid for but the added attraction is of course seeing the other person.
Here's a snapshot of Sandie on skype, such a great discovery and all thanks to her.
And now as I write this post there is wonderful music playing from Spotify on my iPhone in the new JBL music deck. So yes, some more technology has come into my life and brought with it another way of talking and of listening to music. I’m not a techie but if technology enhances my life then I will always embrace it.
My JBL music deck for the iPhone, a great idea. The sound is very good.
On Tuesday I was invited by the Association of Communications Directors (Dircom) to the launch of a new publication called Orbyt by El Mundo (Spain’s number 2 newspaper – its website is the leading news website in Spanish in the world). It was a lunchtime event and was to be presented by Spain’s Rupert Murdoch, Pedro J. Ramírez, who was really the big attraction of the event.
Mr. Pedro J. Ramírez who made us wait so long last week.
Lunch started at 14.30 and it was one of those typical events I hate. You go on your own and know about 5 or 6 people but nobody really well and feel like a flower on the wall. I did know some people like Manuel Saucedo, ex Director of Marca and now the Group Communications Director. But luckily Teresa, the GM of Ketchum rescued me from my threatening solitude whilst we were all waiting for Pedro J to make his appearance. Tuesday was 23rd February and the anniversary of Spain’s famous coup d’etat in 1981 and it turned out that he was attending an event at the Spanish Parliament. Someone told me he was actually having lunch with a prominent Spanish politician, José Bono.

He didn’t turn up till nearly 16.30 and some people had left. However the wait turned out to be well worth it as the publication Orbyt (can’t find any decent reference on internet) is just superb. It is the digital version of the newspaper but with much more to offer. It is a premium subscription for 14 or 15 euros a month that I for one would certainly pay. If you have a subscription for the paper edition, the digital one is free. When asked if Orbyt would one day replace the paper version, Pedro J replied they could live together and that he for one would want to die surrounded by books and papers (me too by the way). He also said that if paper were to become extinguished, Orbyt would be the perfect replacement. I think he is a very clever man.

On Wednesday I woke up to the news that my boss’ boss had left the company. That left me a bit shell shocked as the Spanish financial newspaper, Expansión had only published an interview with him 2 days earlier, the one I organised at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona recently. I then had to ring the journalist and try to explain what had happened which was quite an awkward situation for me. He had been with the company all his working life and given his all. However he did not see eye to eye on certain matters with the company CEO which seems to be the reason for his leaving. I wish Kenneth a very happy early retirement.

Thursday was the fullest day of the week. It began with the first Yoigo Morning of the year. Yoigo Mornings are staff meetings where we exchange information, the newcomers present themselves (the best part) and there is always nice food and a gift. I did these in Nokia and called them Nokia Mornings. So I’m just copying myself. There was a full turnout and we no longer fit in the cafeteria. Next time I’m going to have use a sound system as some of the shy newcomers could not be heard at the back. It was to be Robert Coffey’s last Yoigo Morning. Now there will be only 2 Brits left, Tony Watts and myself. As it’s a bit of a joke that Robert hasn’t learned much Spanish in his 3 years with Yoigo, we gave him a big grammar book and also got him to present the newcomers in Spanish, of course.

So what was the present this time I bet you’re asking? It was a bunch of candy and you can see it in the picture. The candy was different shaped marshmallow and in Spanish is called clouds or “nubes” so the label said “not all clouds cause storms”. Mine is joining all my other promotional sweet stuff which I just cannot eat, not because it’s fattening but because I don’t want to spoil it.
The "bunches" of candy we gave out at the Yoigo Morning this week. Everyone loves something sweet.
After the Yoigo Morning I had an interview with a publication from Seville, El Diario de Sevilla which came out today and which you can read here. It was all about portability in mobile phones (leaving one mobile phone operator to join another) and in 2009 Yoigo was the absolute leader. Sometimes I can’t quite believe how well we are doing.

The clouds in the sky in Madrid that day did announce rain though and it rained all the way to my lunch appointment with the girls. It’s always nice to have lunch together and we try to every now and again. Oli had been running in the rain and came into the restaurant in great need of a comb and a towel. She told me us she was smitten with someone. Now isn’t that nice? Would be great if I got to meet the “chap” but for that I may have to wait.

That same day in the evening was the goodbye dinner for Robert at Naia, the restaurant that belongs to Pedro, yes the Pedro who will be replacing him. I didn’t feel much like going as I am no fan of big dinners that start late, are noisy and you usually end up sitting next to someone who doesn’t interest you much. With luck I sat next to the party boy and my other English friend Tony and the dinner turned out to be great fun. We will miss you Robert. Good luck back in wonderful Copenhagen.

Friday was a great day. In the afternoon I had a date with Elena but went to her house this time as the poor girl sprained her ankle badly on Monday. From there I picked up Suzy and we drove to Villaviciosa to the dentist and finally I had a new crown put in where the old one had fallen out in January. It has taken some time but now my mouth feels normal. Whilst in the area we went to a shop to get some clothes taken in. How good that feels.

As Friday was a down day, we could not go out to dinner. Instead we lit the new fire and watched the film The Changeling with Angelina Jolie. It is an excellent film or maybe I should say the story is. It’s a true story about a little boy disappearing. The police say they have found him and return a boy that is not her son. The story is her subsequent fight with the corrupt LA police to find out the truth of what has happened which turns out to be a nightmare. Well worth watching if you haven’t seen it.
The Changeling with Angelina Jolie, a shocking story
Finally the weekend came and we were mostly on our own. As there was no hurry to make lunch, Eladio and I went to Las Rozas Village (an artificial village which sells luxury brands at lower prices) to get our Textura towels we had collected vouchers for from El Mundo newspaper.
Me at Las Rozas Village - we went there to get the El Mundo Textura towels; nice but a bit small.
From there and in the pouring rain we made our way to the Zielo shopping centre in Pozuelo with the sole purpose of visiting Le Pain Quotidien bakery there for a coffee and a cake. If you have read my post on our trip to Brussels you will have read how we discovered this lovely communal Belgian bakery there. It’s a bit like a Belgian Starbucks but much better and with great home made baked products. They are all over the world so if you haven’t come across one yet, see if there is one near you.
Eladio at the Belgian bakery, Le Pain Quotidien in Pozuelo this weekend. Love that place.
Of course once at Zielo we made a little foray into the luxurious Sánchez Romero supermarket for some exotic or hard to find fruit such as raspberries, blackberries, billberries, etc – all for our down days you see.

Saturday being an up day, we went out for dinner and this time tried somewhere new. We went to La Española, supposed to be the best place in Pozuelo. I had been before but many years ago. We were very pleasantly surprised and I know we’ll be going back.

In the meantime Mother Nature was playing havoc around the world as she has been doing since the Haiti earthquake. Not so long ago there were dreadful storms in the Portuguese island of Madeira which caused floods and much distruction.
Floods in Madeira
Last week there were huge floods too in Spain and this weekend we have been awaiting the much announced explosive cyclogenesis warning. It was termed as the “perfect storm” in Spanish but I don’t know why. It came yesterday but was a dry storm, at least in Madrid, with very strong winds.

Much worse was happening in Chile. Yesterday morning an 8.8 earthquake hit the central part of the country. Apparently it was 50 times stronger than the one in Haiti but luckily the epicentre was in the sea. That is not much comfort though as there are now tsunami warnings all along the Pacific. The death toll is creeping up and is now over 400 people. The world’s thoughts will now turn there as always happens when there is a natural disaster.

Mother Nature is certainly very capricious. Yesterday was dark and windy and stormy yet today we woke up to a glorious sunny day. Eladio and I went for our walk this morning but without Norah and I must explain why. Whilst we were in Barcelona she fell ill and Eladio took her to the vet. It seems she has a malformation in her cervical cords (they come out like a zig-zag on the x-ray) and she is now on heavy medication and must rest. She is no longer in pain but walks are not allowed. I must say too that walks without her are just not the same. Get better soon Norah.

My final note is about my Danish princess Pernille and Finnish daughter Anne. Dearest Pernille rang to organise the girls’ weekend with them in June (great!!!) and Anne rang to say she’s coming to visit with Timo in June. Nice things to look forward to aren’t they?

And on that note I leave you and hope you all have a great week.

Cheers till the next time.

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