Sant Jordi

Today is a special day. Not only because Barcelona is playing against Madrid, but also because today is Sant Jordi (you know, they guy who killed the dragon).

In Catalunya this day is celebrated by giving each other presents. The boys give a rose to the girls, and in return they receive a book. For me this looks like a good deal, since the average book costs four times the price of a rose.

So after work I went to town to buy a rose. This was not very difficult, since there were roses for sale on almost every corner and at every traffic light. Also books were available in plenty; Maria José bought a book of Alberto Vasquez for me.

On the news they showed the numbers of this day of books and roses (besides lot’s of pictures of books and roses. Today the Catalan people bought 5,5 million roses (there are 6 million Catalans!) and 10% of the yearly volume of books was sold today!!!! Very impressive…

Calçots

Sunday I wanted to write about the calçots. But after the calçots, I was too tired to write. And the days after I was luckily enough to have to work out of town, so I missed my 30 minutes of internet before lunch.

Anyway, three days ago was the day we had calçots; after all, it is the season for calçots.

The week before we (or better MJ) was arranging all the things and inviting our friends. The Saturday afternoon we spent cleaning the garage, so we could put there some big tables to eat on. When everybody arrived on Sunday, we first drunk a vermouth with some chips, mussels, olives, cheese…

Then the father of MJ arrived with the calçots. Calçot is family of the onion (I think it is leek / prei in Dutch), and over here prepared in a fire, so they are all black. You remove the black part, put the calçot through some special sauce and eat it like the Dutch eat herring. Delicious!

After the calçots we put some meat on the fire, and we finished with a big pie. To finish the activity good, MJ’s sister Cristine and her boyfriend Pere told us that they had bought an apartment here in Alpicat.

A short holiday

Easter time is always a good period to have a short vacation. Usually the weather is getting better, and after the first busy months of the year, I really need a break.

This year was no exception, especially with the work we have for our new house. Therefore we decided to book a flight and rest. We didn’t have to think long for our destination; we were looking for a beautiful country with nice weather and nice people. Yes, Holland!

With a little bit of phoning (only one call!) we found a nice hostel which fitted our needs perfectly: Hotel Sangers in Harmelen. It’s really cheap and has big comfortable rooms which look just like somebody has been living there until not so long ago. A perfect place to relax some days.

On Friday night I explored the local night life. There is an amazingly big offer of activities in Harmelen. I decided to have a sportive evening, and went to watch the Crespon darts tournament, organised by Darts club Pirates.

Saturday after we woke up (quite late of course) we went shopping. First to the supermarket to buy all thing we cannot buy in Lleida like dropjes (zacht zoet), tijgernootjes, sup-a-soup tomato and cheese. Then we went to Utrecht to look for things for our house. We found a couple from Spain doing the same thing, but unbelievable for us they decided to buy paper serviets!!! Like we don’t have paper towels over here!!!!

What can Catalan tourists do on an average Easter day? Since the shops were closed, we decided to go for some sight seeing. Our target was the river ‘Lek’ and the city Culemborg.

After getting the so-called fresh nose, we headed to Haarzuilens for a typical Easter custom: palm pasen. I can assure that the Palm beer tasted really good! That evening we enjoyed another typical Dutch custom: gourmetten. And we were not the only ones leaving palm pasen for this wonderful experience. In short: gourmetten is a way to invite friends for dinner without actually having to cook! No wonder it’s popular in Holland…

Of course we have bought a set for gourmet. After all, we want our Dutch visitors to feel at home when they come to Lleida.

I like chocolate

It is almost easter, and easter is a wonderful time for chocolate lovers like me. I always eat a lot of these small chocolate easter eggs. Also here in Lleida they know the tradition of chocolate. Besides the traditional eggs, small sculptures are very popular. The most popular at this moment is Harry Potter, completely with a castle.

But the biggest sculpture is the one of Prats. Prats is local patisseria and chocolate maker, who creates every year a life size statue of a famous Catalan person out of chocolate. This year, Pau Gasol has the honor. Pau Gasol????? I have to admit that I don’t know him well, but sport-lovers might know this famous basket player of the Memphis Grizzly’s.

By the way, for people wondering what I am doing at my work, the web site of Prats is hosted on our servers and created by us…

The sun is shining, the living is easy

I have to admit it: the main reason to move to the south is the weather! And last week I got what I wanted. The sky was clear blue and the temperature went up far into the twenties. On Thursday the thermometer reached even up to 31°C!!!

And did I take profit of it? Well… not really. When I finish work, the sun has long gone. And we have to use the weekends to visit shops, because it is about time that we select our new kitchen, bathroom and floor.

OK, Saturday we took some time to drink a beer on a terras.

Sants

Yesterday was the day of Saint Joseph. Normally I wouldn’t have noticed this, but the fact is that my girlfriend is called MJ; and thus is named after Saint Joseph.

Here in Spain, people celebrate their saint as a second birthday, with a nice meal and presents from their family and friends.

Unfortunately, a lot of people name their children after the saint of the day the baby was born, thus denying their child an extra wonderfull day with presents and attention!

One of this victims is MJ. Though her birthday was last Friday, it was close enough to her saint to celebrate it all together. Poor girl…

And even worse, her boyfriend didn’t give her any present at all!

Anyway, for all the people who missed my birthday: my saint will be on September 30. So if you want a small party…

Party

Yesterday I was talking with my father. He was standing outside a barn at 5°C, I was outside on the balcony with 21°C. Even though the weather here was better, my father was the one in the best situation, and I really wished that I could be there too.

Today my father turned 65, and therefore my sister and my mother had organised a surprise party in this barn. Everybody was there, his family, his friends, the neighbours… everybody except for his son.

I really like living here, but sometimes I wish I could be in Holland.

The sun is shining

This weekend I planned to do a lot of thing with my little computer. Work on the Fimcap site, install freeBSD, find myself a new internet provider… But when I woke up this morning I realised that I would have to change my plans. You simply can’t spend the day behind the computer when the sky is blue, the first trees blossom in beautiful pink and it’s 18 degrees outside!

This morning we visited our future house again, trying to decide how we are going to reconstruct it. And every time we talk with somebody else, we are changing our plans again. Sometimes a little big frustrating, but I am sure that in the end we’l get there.

And because we were thinking about our house anyway, we decided to continue this afternoon. So we walked through the streets of Lleida, visiting every kitchen and bathroom shop we found. And we realized that there are a thousand more decisions to be made…

E-mail problems

Due to problems at my provider, I am not able to send e-mail at this moment.

However, I am still able to read mail sent to me (they only have problems with their SMTP server).

At this moment I am looking for other providers, and maybe I am going to have to pay for an account. Because you can’t complain about the things you get for free, isn’t it?

On the long term I will be running my own mail server over xDSL, but to accomplish that I first need to finish our new house.

Anyway, I hope to write you soon again.

Short visit

Normally when we visit Holland, time seems to fly. That is why we decided to go on Thursday evening. The other reason was the wedding of Ton & Mirjam on Friday.

Due to a little delay we arrived in Harmelen at 1:00 at night. Of course we had to spend some time chatting with my parents, so we went to bed quite late.

I planned to arrange some things and go shopping on Friday morning, but as usual it was impossible to get out of bed early enough. Somehow every visit to Holland feels like a holiday, and the first days of holidays I usually spent resting (=sleeping). Anyway, by the time we got up, we had to run through the shower, quickly grab a sandwich and hop into the car to arrive on time in the townhall. The ceremony was funny and entertaining and I know it’s a cliché but the bride looked pretty.

In the afternoon we had some minutes left for shopping (dropjes, tijgernootjes, …). The rest of the time we spent reading on the sofa. First of all because the weather wasn’t so good, but also because at home we haven’t got a sofa.

The party at night was also really ‘gezellig’. I had a chance to have a chat with a lot of people, and was able to hear the latest gossip. I was so occupied with talking to all those people that sometimes I forgot that MJ doesn’t understand any of it. (Sorry for that, next time I will take care of you a little bit more…).

On the same evening, Pere had arrived home, so Saturday we showed him Amsterdam and Utrecht. We found out that a Dutch guide is of no use at all in Amsterdam, because on the streets you’ll find more Spanish tourists that citizens of Amsterdam and the people in the souvenir shops speak better Spanish that I do. We also found out why groups of British boys only visit the red light district when they are completely drunk: the girls look like truck drivers.

In the evening we went to Stairway to heaven to drink some beers.

On Sunday, we went back home again. Even though we had one day more, time seemed to fly. Next time, with easter, we’ll try to stay even longer!

Carnival

First of all for all the people who have asked me the last weeks: Yes, they do celebrate carnival over here! Of course a little bit different than in Holland, but they definitely do celebrate carnival.

This weekend Roberto, our Italian friend, was visiting us. He choose a nice weekend to do so, as stated above. He finished his exams on Friday, had a party at night and went directly over to Lleida. So when he arrived on Saturday afternoon, we first offered him a hot shower.

After arranging his stuff, we hurried back to the city center to see the carnival parade. I guess it was at that moment that Jong Nederland received the yearly prize of honour (and with yearly I mean that JN is receiving it every year) for their wagon. Here the parade starts when the sun sets, and I have to admit that the wagons look really good with al these lights. There were about 30 wagons, mostly crowded with children. Popular themes were indians, the north pole, and vikings.

After the tour (at was already 21:00 hours) we took Roberto to an Italian restaurant. I know that it is quite a guess to serve pasta to an Italian, but this restaurant is really good. Nine is a little bit early to eat, but on these kind of days you have to be early, or you’ll end up waiting a long time outside the restaurant.

After the meal, we went to River café, which is close to the place where the party in the evening would take place. The main party started at eleven thirty, but at midnight the hall wasn’t even half full. The band was playing really good, but Metallica and AC/DC are not the kind of music I expect on a carnival party. Around one thirty more people started entering the place, waiting eagerly for the main act: Dr. Calypso. Dr. Calypso is Catalunya’s most famous ska band, and guarantees a lot of pleasure.

The next day we didn’t do a lot, as usual on Sundays. We helped Roberto pack his stuff, as he was moving on to the mountains of Vall d’Aran for his first skiing experience.

Detective

One of the nicest features of having your own web site is playing ‘detective’.

Every day the web server produces a huge amount of data; every single page you request and every single picture on that page is recorded in the log files. I use these log files to see who visited me, when did I receive those visitors, what kind of computers do they use, which pages are the most popular, … But the most interesting is to know how they got onto my site. Especially the visitors which entered from a search engine are interesting, because they were looking for some information.

This week I noticed something strange in my logs: I received a lot of visitors who were looking for information about Astor Piazolla. I started thinking, because until I wrote this article, there is absolutely no mention about Astor Piazolla on this site. I have to admit that I like Astor Piazolla and his New Tango a lot; I even have some of his work on CD.

Aaaah, that’s it! On my former web site, I maintained a list of all CD’s I own. That list must still be in de databases of those web sites. But visitors of my old web site are automatically forwarded to the new one.

That only leaves the question why suddenly people start searching for Astor Piazolla. All the Dutch readers already know the answer, but I had absolutely no idea. Until I talked with my parents. Of course they told me about the big event in Holland: the wedding of Willem-Alexander and Maxima. And my mother told me that she liked the moment when Maxima showed some tears when they played Argentine music. And this piece of music (Adios Nonino by Astor Piazolla) is now nr. 1 in the Dutch hit charts. So thanks to the royal wedding I received a lot of hits.

Case closed.

[Update 2004.01.21]: Removed broken link

Pictures

For the first time since I moved from Holland I have added pictures to my site. Today I finally took the time to dig up my old scanner (yes BJ, the one I bought from you) and connect it to my laptop. You will find some pictures from the place I am living and from a visit to Barcelona in September last year.

Princess

Oops, already a week without any notice! Yes, it’s about time that I write something new on my site. So I decided to write about the princess. Not the one of this weekend, but the one which I really missed last weekend.

As you might remember I made a small trip to Holland last weekend (exactly 24 hours and 10 minutes). O Saturday evening we went to the reception of the prince, organised by CV de Kwakbollen. And the most important question on that evening is not who will be the new Dagobert (if you know the solution to 1+1, you’re always able to figure out who he is), but how his princess will look. And if you know that Dago doesn’t have any girlfriend or wife, the first question is WHO he chose to be on his side.

The tension was really high when Dago finally appeared. Of course we faked our surprise to see him (I never could have guessed it could be him…), but immediately everybody started looking around, searching for the princess.

But no–… to our disappointment, this Dago has chosen to celebrate carnival alone.
Alaaf for prince Remi XXVI!

Fimcap

Fimcap? You stopped the youthwork when you left Holland, didn´t you? No, I didn’t!

I am still involved in Fimcap as a member of the working group for e-media. At this moment we are preparing the launch of version 2 of the Fimcap web site. On February 1st the world can finally see what I have been working on all these hours the last year.

And the address? www.fimcap.org. Go have a look after next week!

My job

I just noticed that I haven’t written for a while about my job. And since quite some of the visitors of this site are ex-colleagues from MultiSystems/Avalix/Aino, I think that it is appropriate to write some words about my job.

The company I work for consists of three companies: ICG, a company which produces software for shops and small companies, Ricomack, a company which has a shop and delivers technical support, and finally CST consultants.

I work for Ricomack, in the department ‘internet’. This department consists of Xavi and me (and part-time Massimiliano). We handle all work which is related to internet activities and servers. Ricomack acts as a ISP for some companies, we host their web sites and their mail accounts. This is mainly the work of Xavi; he also designs the web sites (he started the one of Ricomack just today, so don’t expect too much from this one).

My main concern is the installation of new servers for clients, all HP with Windows 2000. Besides that I also repair desktops and do a lot of other small jobs. Today Xavi and I decided to make our room more comfortable, so I ended up with a drilling machine to change the TL lights. As I said, I do a lot of different things.

Unfortunately I am not so involved with UNIX anymore. Our internet server runs Red Hat, but furthermore it is all Windows.

[Update 2004.01.21]: Removed broken link to non-existing company 😉

Training course Fimcap secretariat

No, I am not going to be the new secretary of Fimcap, but I was present at the unofficial training course. Wim from Chiro was this weekend in Catalunya to talk with Carme, the former secretary.

And of course, if you come all the way from Belgium, you have to see something of the country.

On Friday evening he was shown the wild nightlife of St. Feliu de Llobregat (A.K.A. the town of the single women). On Saturday morning there was a meeting of the exchanges workgroup of CCCCCE, so I took Wim to Barcelona to walk around and show him that I don’t know Barcelona very well.

After that we went with 8 people to Andorra. Why? To swim! Andorra has a really nice swimming pool, of which I already have forgotten the name, and we have spend the evening taking baths. Alveiro had arranged a nice cabin to sleep, in a house full of people who came to ski. I wonder if they knew how wonderful the swimming pool is…

Sunday morning we spent tax-free shopping, and then it was time to go home again.
And the training course? Well, I think that Wim will manage…