Saturday, October 15, 2016

Summer officially over at our house, week 2 of the Pronokal diet, Samsung hit hard, National Day of Spain, singer Bob Dylan wins Nobel prize for literature, Michelle Obama hits out at Donald Trump for sexual assault bragging and other stories.

Sunday 16th October 2016
Me the corporate woman, ready for battle this week
Hi again everyone,

It's been a pretty uneventful week.  My main priority now is my diet and it is sort of ruling my life.  I'm half way through the first strict phase and sticking it out.  I cannot say it is easy but I know it will produce the desired results.

Sunday was spent dieting of course and at home.  It was on Sunday that I found out about a famous French singer called Marina Kaye.  
Marina Kaye, the French singer and daughter of my friend Pasquale.
An Italian friend from long ago, Pasquale, who used to attend the Norwich Russian courses where my parents taught, found me on internet and wrote me an email. In that email he told me had a daughter called Marina Kaye who sang well.  Sang well?  She won the French equivalent of Britain's Got Talent aged just 13!  Today she is 18 and is most famous for her song Homeless.  He must be so proud.

The main news at the weekend was about Hurricane Matthew.  It left over a 1000 dead in Haiti, that already ravished and poor country.  It did damage elsewhere but Haiti was worst hit.  

Of note on Sunday we started watching a new TV series on Netflix, after having finished Season 4 of House of Cards.  It's Marcella, a UK detective series and pretty good but nowhere near as so as The Fall. I was jealous to hear that season 3 is being shown on TV back home.  Can't wait to see it.  

Monday was not the best day of the week.  It started with a complicated conference call come interview with a journalist about 5G technology.  The interview coincided with the news that our new mother company, Másmóvil, had reached an agreement with Orange for national roaming, to include fibre too.  But just a note was sent to the MAB (sub market of the Madrid stock exchange).  I wondered whether gone were the days when, with Yoigo, we would have organised a big event for the occasion. 

The worst news of the week came on Monday, my best friend F. had been "impacted" by the labour force adjustment plan after the purchase of Alcatel Lucent by Nokia.  It seems so unfair that they are firing more employees from Alcatel than from Nokia.  She is a single mother in her  mid 50's with a teenage daughter and a dependent mother living with her and has worked there for 16 years.  You would think they would choose more carefully who is to be "impacted" - that by the way was the word they used when the rang her to give her the bad news! Julio and I had lunch with her to talk over the situation.  F. is a trained lawyer and I know she will fight this battle and hopefully be readmitted. Meanwhile we are both there for her for morale support and advice.  Life is so unfair

It was lovely weather on Monday and on Tuesday but rain was forecast for Wednesday.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Eladio, helped by Salud, making preparations to close down the swimming pool for the season. That for me marked the end of the summer at our house at least. 
Eladio about to cover the pool for the winter
I always hate the moment the pool gets covered for the winter.  

It was certainly not summer in Zurich where Suzy had been for a 5 day visit to see a friend the girls had made in their recent trip to Nicaragua.  You can tell it was cold from the clothes the girls are wearing in the picture below.
The girls well wrapped up in Zurich
They returned on Tuesday. I haven't spoken to Suzy for a while so look forward to hearing her impressions of her short trip but expensive trip to Switzerland. It must have been even more expensive for her than I had forecast with the drop in the pound.  Since I wrote about the plummeting of the sterling currency, it has only got worse.  In some places it has a lower value than the euro and looks to be set on course to be on par with the currency the country never wanted to join. Maybe that was their downfall.
The pound is in deep "sh**".
That night was the premiere of Olivia's colleague Amaya Rey's first programme for Mi Cámara y Yo.  You see they do alternate weeks and on Monday it was her turn.  
Oli's colleague, co- reporter for Mi Cámara y Yo, Amaya R.
The stories in the programme were about lingering but successful corner shops in Madrid which you can see here. Next Monday will be Oli's turn and the stories will be about Madrid rooftops which I think I mentioned last week. 
A still from the programme Oli was preparing this week about Madrid rooftops
You can see the video clip promoting it here too.  Maybe you get sick of me promoting Oli and her TV programmes, but you see she is my daughter and I'm proud of her and she is part of this blog hahaha.   But most of all I'm happy that she is happy in her new job and gets on so well with many of her colleagues. She seems to be having fun which is great.  So pleased for you sweetie.

Tuesday brought good news.  It was the day of reckoning in my diet.  I had started the Tuesday before and it was time to weigh myself. I was delighted I had shed 2 whole kilos.  I had also lost 5cm around my waist.  I was as pleased as punch and the numbers on the scales were to spur me on for week 2.  It was good to see the diet was working.  I was making extra sure it would too by doing 2 walks a day instead of 1.  I hope and pray that on next Tuesday I have lost another 2 kilos but I won't know until then. Little did I know it but that would be the last day I did my walks in my shorts in the sun and the last day I read outside by the swimming pool in the early evening.  Yeah summer was about to be over. 

You might be interested to know what I eat for the diet. Well here is a photo of my dinner last Tuesday which is pretty much the same every night.  It's very green isn't it hahaha?
My Pronokial diet dinner on Tuesday night
If Tuesday brought good news for me it brought terrible news for the Korean electronics giant and mobile phone main player, Samsung. Their recently launched Galaxy Note 7 had to be recalled due to exploding batteries.  On Tuesday after reports of more exploding phones from the replacement ones, the company decided to permanently scrap producing the flagship phone.  Ouch! 
The flagship Samsung Galaxy S7 gone up in flames. Terrible PR for the company and brand
That's pretty much a first in mobile phone history I can tell you and I know.  They have made huge losses financially but it's the long term that counts.  They issued the shortest press release I have ever seen which said: “For the benefit of consumers’ safety, we have stopped sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 and have consequently decided to permanently stop production.”

 Their PR was very bad with a total lack of transparency and it will not only have damaged the company's pocket but it image.  I can only imagine Apple laughing in the sidelines.  Their pocket, by the way, or rather their market value was decreased in one go by 18 billion dollars!!!!! 

Wednesday was a "fiesta" or a "bank holiday" and a day off for Oli for once in her working life.  It was so nice to have her at home.  12th October is Spain's national day but it is not celebrated here like it is in France or the US and I have never understood why.  Spaniards are not proud of being Spanish. Well I think they should be. There is so much going for this country but Spaniards tend to criticise themselves and their country far too much. They are great grumblers yet lovely people.  
The Spanish flag people here are not proud of

It doesn't help that their flag is a symbol of fascism.  So there weren't many flags out on Wednesday except at the military parade for Armed Forces Day which is also held on this day and is presided over by the King of Spain. In fact the National Day of Spain is also Columbus Day, celebrating the anniversary of Columbus' landing in the New World on October 12th 1492.  Who didn't learn this phrase in history at school to remember the date? "1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue". It was also "El Día del Pilar" and Hispanic Day.  So lots to celebrate on Wednesday. Except that it rained.

The rain came finally and the summer was truly over.  I went from walking in shorts to covering up and wearing my sou'wester.  The temperatures plummeted too from 25c to 13c overnight. It was a bit of a shock.

Thursday was back to work. I had a big communications meeting at our new mother company's offices in supposedly nearby Pozuelo. However the traffic was so bad it took me an hour to get there.  The photo illustrating this week's post is of me ready and dressed to go; the corporate woman as if to battle. That is how I felt. There are not many top positions for women in the new organisation and one has to look good I'm afraid. 

It was on Thursday that the world was stunned to hear that the most revered prize in literature, the Nobel Prize, had been awarded to a singer and not a writer. It went to Bob Dylan. Most people equate him to songs for peace and more than one TV reporter made a lapse when announcing the news.  He is a huge figure in American music and maybe his lyrics are poetry, I don't know, but he is not a writer and in my mind the prize goes to the wrong person. The New York Times said "he's great but he's not a writer" and I totally agree with their article. Funnily enough he himself has not uttered a word of reaction yet.  I wonder if he will reject it? Who knows because he is quite a complicated character. I read that when he met Barack Obama he refused to have a photograph taken of the two together disappointing the President. 
Bob Dylan the song writer not the book writer.
I remember his songs when I was young, especially "Blowing in the Wind". I also lovd his folk songs but when I saw him in concert once in Lisbon I hated everything he sang -. it was all rock.  Let's wait and see what his reaction is. 

l don't know what the US First Lady, Michelle Obama, thinks about Bob Dylan but I do know what she thinks about Donald Trump and she has said so in an historic speech this week denouncing his sexual assaults without even mentioning his name. If you haven't watched it, then do, it's an amazing lesson. This is the link of her 9 minute attack on his shocking behaviour.  It comes in response to a video The Washington Post unearthed of his lewd comments about women in a 2005 TV show which you can also watch here if you haven't already seen it. Perhaps his most memorable and revolting comment in it is this: I’ve got to use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. Whatever you want. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything". 
A still from the video where Donald Trump made these lewd remarks
In Michele Obama's speech she said: "I can't believe I'm saying that, a candidate for president of the United States bragged about sexually assaulting women." and I can't believe it either.  As I listened to her during my first walk on Friday morning, I remembered with shame and disgust the times I was assaulted sexually when I was a child, by our postman, Mr. Fox, and as a young teenager by our vicar, pillars of society you would have thought.  Luckily I was able to get out of their clutches before anything worse happened but I will never forget those moments.  I wonder how many women reading this will have suffered similar experiences. At work too I was groped at on various occasions in my first years in the corporate world and I can tell you it was not nice. Wow, right now I feel as though I have come out of the closet and told you my innermost secrets.  You see I have never spoken about this before but when I heard Michelle Obama's speech I thought it was time I did.  I really hope that this sexual predator will receive punishment for his behaviour as more and more women who were attacked and groped by him are coming out and exposing him and hopefully taking him to court. He would never get my vote and I guess that after this scandal many women Republican voters will have second thoughts.  If this was a world which was more fair to women I would like to see Michelle Obama as President of the United States.  Maybe one day she will be and women around the world will be glad.  

Onto a totally different subject, Spanish bureaucracy. This week I found out that the two times I had been unemployed did not figure on my employment register (vida laboral), wiping out 2 years from my retirement pension  - yeah already thinking about retirement; well I will be 60 in February and that's no secret unfortunately. 
The important "vida laboral" or life work record needed in Spain for retirement purposes.
So I had to start a battle with Spanish bureaucracy; no mean task as the years in question are 1999 and 2005.  On the telephone I was told to go to the "Tesorería" (Treasury) of the Social Security organisation and file a complaint. But first we went to the Unemployment Agency (Inem) where I used to get my "dole" in Majadahonda to get a certificate to confirm the years I was unemployed and receiving money from the state. There no one was able to inform me of anything as there was no reception desk.  Also there were huge queues so off we went to the Tesoreria in Pozuelo. Here we didn't wait  long but the visit was a waste of time as here we were told to go to the Unemployment Agency, where we had just been. What we did find out that was we had to get an appointment on the phone via a bot (machine) talking.  The machine informed me the agency that corresponded to our address was in Alcorcón and finally I got an appointment for next Monday. Couldn't all this have been done in the first phone call? Spanish bureaucracy is very kafkian. I remember my first years here trying to get a work permit and residency and things don't seem to have changed much since then. Cross your fingers for Monday.  I also found out this week that to get a full pension you have to have worked for 37.5 years.  If you count the 2 years I am fighting for I have already totted up 34 years so just 3.5 to go. But actually it's not only the amount of years but the age you are that counts. The law has just changed from 65 to 67 but thankfully we are in the transition period and I will be allowed to retire at 65.  So all thoughts of early retirement due to having worked more than the years needed blew right out of the window this week.  Unfair!!!!!

Being on a diet, we didn't go out to dinner on Friday night and won't be for quite a while in the future. Instead we watched a film on Netflix which I found thrilling.  It was called "The Body" and is a Spanish film starring Antonio Resines and Belén Rueda. 

Finally the sun came out yesterday, Saturday.  After my 2 walks on the trot, I went out to buy wrapping paper and ribbon for Laura my niece's wedding present. Yes, we have yet another wedding to go to and it's for another niece. Laura and Dani will be married next week quietly in a registry office but there will be a nice informal family lunch to celebrate their nuptial tie next Saturday in León. We look forward to that. Oli and Miguel will be going too and we shall be able to spend some time together in Montrondo enjoying beautiful autumn walks. Eladio and I are no expert present wrappers. We did the best we could and this is what it looks like. 
The result of our present wrapping efforts for Laura's wedding present
I can't say what's inside until the bride and groom open it next week.

Saturday was spent very quietly.  Oli had a busy social life this weekend and only came home yesterday for a short while before going out again. 
Oli with Pippa when she came to see us shortly on Saturday afternoon
Pippa, as you can see in the photo, was happy to see her, just as I was. 

And today is Sunday and I have come to the end of the tales of my week. I shall now be going on my two walks and look forward to reading quietly in the lounge with Pippa at my side this afternoon.

Next week will be very busy, so it will be good to charge batteries before it starts.

Let me then wish you all a great Sunday and good week ahead,

Cheers till next time/Masha

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