Friday, October 07, 2005

Masaje Envoltura en Chocolate

Nearly run over on pedestrian crossing on my way back to apartment for lunch. As in France, where the white lines and red lights are, at best, hints for road-users, in Spain it seems that the stopping distance is calculated to be the same as the gap between skin and trouser leg. I may start commuting in a hooped skirt.

Bondi has quickly learnt to manipulate our hosts for food. With his Zoolanderesque “Blue Meal” look, he had the entire family hypnotised at lunch, so that he was collecting ever larger morsels of food, plus entire tubs of yoghurt.

On Wednesday I visited the veterinary pharmacy again to pick up some Rimadyl tablets. I pre-armed myself by bringing Spanish documents on the drugs I sought – both local veterinary papers and Babelfish-translated web-pages. Someone new was available today, who not only had a few words of English, but actually knew about glucosamine, cartrophen and Malaseb medicated shampoo. She is checking availability for me, so I have fingers crossed that something may arrive very soon.

Later that day, I encountered a señora with a 6yr old female malamute, Debbie (sp?), who had had some operations for something like dysplasia in her rear legs. The señora said something - mostly incomprehensible to me - about some wonder pills (not anything I’d heard of) so I may start taking a pen/paper to the park to get some of these things written down for later translation.

Booked a place on a school excursion this weekend: to the Sierra
de Francia. The school’s information sheet says:
“Above the plateau lands rise the Sierras de Francia and de Gredos. Mountains and river valleys, forests and orchards, ancient hilltop villages and little towns, pure fresh air and true country living – it’s a perfect hideaway. The Sierra de Francia, south of the beautiful city of Salamanca, is an excellent place for a country walk. La Peña de Francia gives its name to the mountain range of which (at 1723m) it is the highest peak. The sierra is watered by the Ríos Francia and Alagón and by natural springs and pools. Little ancient villages, secluded for centuries look over terraced valleys with orchards of cherry, peach and almond, groves of olive trees, vineyards, forests of chestnut and oak and higher on the Sierra wild lavender, heather and fern. Summers are hot but escape the scorching temperatures of the plains, while in spring and autumn blue skies come with a freshness in the air. OK, twist my arm.

I learnt that Salamanca is hosting a conference of Latin American heads of government, and so there’ll be an additional 4000 policemen patrolling the area. Maybe one can be spared to help me cross the street.

Finished reading Paul Graham’s Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age.

Flash-back moment: from Gore Vidal’s Palimpsest, the chapter on his grandfather Senator T.P. “Dah” Gore:
Ten-twenty?-thousand books lined the house-length raw-wood room. Originally, the books had been carefully catalogued, but one year when the Gores rented the house, the tenant rearranged all the books according to color. Dah never recovered; and never reordered them.
I had the same disordering experience in Seattle a few years ago when dozens of boxes of books were unpacked thus onto new built-in shelves.

I think I figured out why Word 2003 is converting my text to English(US). I have Language Auto Detect turned on, which analyses text as you type, and re-labels blocks of text according to the language it deduces. This feature - which I once owned (or rather, babysat) at the MS Natural Language Group – does not attempt to distinguish between written dialects of a language. It seems though that when LAD returns English, Word assumes English(US) even though the document default language and keyboard language is English (Australia). Uninstalling English(US) keyboard makes no difference.

Thursday: big lunch and long siesta to make up for trouble sleeping previous night. Stepped out with Bondi just after 7 and as we crossed the Plaza Mayor, were spotted by the English señoras, so I joined them for drinks until the Plaza lights came on at 8.15. We moved on to another café – which I had discovered yesterday – for vino tinto(red wine) and tapas. I showed them a leaflet for a local spa with a Masaje Envoltura en Chocolate which looked rather enticing. They mentioned an English midland spa (Dr---wich) with a terrific brine bath. I am surprised that an English massage in batter (forget the hot stones and solarium, just go for the deep fry) hasn’t been launched by an enterprising salon de butty.

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