133

A few years ago, there was a book that was made into a movie, and it had some crazy title.  Okay, so a lot of movies have crazy titles.  I believe the one I am thinking of was the “Unbearable Lightness of Being.”  I was thinking of calling this chapter something like that.  Maybe “The Unbearable Heating of Summer;’’ but that title would be a little silly because I like the heat of summer.  How about “The Unbelievable Process of Thinking?”  I actually liked that one for a few minutes, but then realised I would be getting a headache pondering the question too long, so I skipped it too.  I could have used “The Insatiable Desire to …;” but then realised I wasn’t sure what I had an insatiable desire to do right then.  Shoot.  This title-picking thing was becoming a bit of a problem.  Then it struck me like an out-of-control-train-on-a-downward-sloping track (nice visual there)…”The Ever-Increasing Word Count Conundrum.”  Like it?  I hope so because here is the deal.

This is chapter 133, and each chapter has 1000+ carefully and selectively used words to convey what has been going on here since the previous letter.  So if you take 133, and multiply it times the 1000+ word count, you get some monstrous figure that represents a lot of typing.  (For all of you that are even more anal than I; rest assured, I actually do know what the maths answer is; I just chose not to use write it down for fear my fingers would fall into palsy mode and then go on strike).  So that explains the first part of the chapter title.  The ‘conundrum’ part is pretty easy to understand too. 

Conundrum, according to an online dictionary, is defined as “A paradoxical, insoluble, or difficult problem; a dilemma.”  In my case, the problem is how to keep coming up with stuff to write about.  The answer to this conundrum (which by the way, probably means that it isn’t a conundrum anymore) is to just write about the stuff that is going on around me.   So, for the 133rd time, here goes.

Newsy item 1)

I discovered, or actually rediscovered, the best way to tell when summer officially arrives here.  I say rediscovered, because this happens every year, and for some reason, I have managed to block it out of my memory every time it happens.  One might think that to tell when summer officially arrives here, the best way is to check the calendar.  But you see, according to the calendar, 21 June is the official beginning of summer, and this can be a bit misleading.  For most of us in the northern hemisphere, summer is the beginning of good weather, and in most weather-context definitions, this means sunny and warm.  One way to check this would be to make a simple graph.  On the bottom line of the graph, you would write in the days of the month.  On the vertical line of the graph, you would put down the percentage of cloud cover (or the amount of rain that has fallen) on any given day.  Then by plotting the cloud cover (or rainfall) each day, it would be possible to get some idea of how sunny it has been lately.  I will save you some time here….the graph for the past couple of months would have no line at all. 

There is another way to tell if summer has actually arrived.  For my island, the official start of summer is when you go to the airport, and the arrivals area is full of motor coaches that will take the holidaymakers to their respective corners of Mallorca.  Seeing the airport arrivals area literally chocker-block with tour coaches surfaces two mental models for me.  One is that, as this island really does rely on tourism to survive, all the arriving holidaymakers is a good thing.  The other mental model is that I sure am glad that I don’t live near where the tourists like to go. 

Newsy item 2) 

The Sol y Mar webcam is finally up and running again.  As I had written about a chapter or two ago, the new replacement camera did arrive after waiting a month (so much for good customer service from Panasonic), but then there were problems getting the signal to be able to be accessed by any web browser.  I could see the camera image on my home computer, but that didn’t seem to be worth the investment.  Why?  Well, when I am home, I don’t need to go online to see the view; I just look out the window.  The purpose of having the bloody webcam is to be able to see it from anywhere.  So, this afternoon, a computer tech-y person came over and after gesturing hypnotically a few times, voila!  The whole system is again working.   Just in case you want to access it, go to http://81.47.130.123:8090/    The user name and password are the same as before (solymar, webcam). 

Newsy item 3)

One of three things have seem to have happened lately here.  The choices of what this is all about include; A) I am suffering from the onset of Alzheimers; B) I am bored beyond possible belief; or C) I have slid into serious money saving mode.  The reason that one of these must be going on is that I haven’t been smoking lately.  I actually ran out of cigarettes on the first of July, and for some reason, didn’t rush out to get some.  The next day I flew off to Geneva, and that meant I wasn’t going to smoke for two days as I can’t buy the brand I smoke there.  When I returned home, I forgot to buy some on the way back from the airport.  A few more days passed, and I still hadn’t bought any, and every time I would think about it, I would be doing something, or it would be at a time that the tobacconists were closed.  Then I went off to Geneva for another two days and just returned home again.  I actually did think about buying some fags on the way home from the airport today, but missed the exit from the roundabout.  Now for those of you who believe that smoking is bad for you, or evil, or something not good; rest assured, I haven’t quit smoking.  I just am not smoking. 

I think there is a clear distinction, at least for me.  I once stopped smoking for nine years; and then a couple of years ago when I did the ocean crossing from Lisbon to Panama, I didn’t smoke either.  But in both cases, I never thought I was quitting.  Actually, I am fine not quitting smoking.  But apparently, I am also fine just not smoking sometimes.  I must be in that mode right now.  I will let you know if I return to smoking mode one day.

Newsy item 4) 

The other day Sunset Boulevard was on telly.  You know, the black and white movie from 1950 starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson.  Geeez…what a movie.  If you haven’t seen it in years, well, it is worth watching.  Whilst in Geneva, I saw “The Family Stone,” which was wonderful, but in a very sad depressing sort of way.  And then I recently watched “Jewel of the Nile” for the umpteenth time.  I always thought that one of the reasons I liked this movie and the one before it (Romancing the Stone) was due to the name of the sailboat at the end of the first one, and the beginning of “Jewel of the Nile.”  But it recently came to my attention that the first part of “Jewel” was filmed in Villefranche-sur-Mer, and having just been there, not to mention that  it is one of my most favourite places, I just had to watch it again. 

Newsy item 5)

I should call this item, the ‘music’ item, because that is what it is about.  I have done it.  I have gone over to the dark side.  Yes, I have actually downloaded a couple of Lady Gaga songs into my iTunes.  I have always considered myself to be more of a middle-of-the-road, easy-listening, soft-rock, Corrs kind of listener.  My iTunes does represent an almost eclectic selection of music, however, with songs by Mana, Dionne Warwick, Alex Ubago, Frank Sinatra, and (of course) the Ronettes interspersed with Linda Ronstadt, Brooks & Dunn, Dusty Springfield, La Oreja de Van Gogh, and George Friderich Handel.  And whilst I tend to vary my listening tastes, there are some artists whose music I could listen to for days on end.

A long time ago, and I do mean ‘long,’ I had purchased a record album by Carl Wilson. Yes, Carl Wilson, brother of Brian and Dennis Wilson.   I can’t even remember if it was on vinyl or cassette – it was a LONG time ago – but I can still hear some of the songs every so often.  They just slip into my consciousness like a shell appearing on the shore.  No big fanfare; no flashing lights; they just appear as if they had never been gone.  Last month, my son David found a copy of the album and is sending it to me, and soon, it too will be in my iTunes (which means I won’t have to worry about wearing this one out).

 

Creole, in front of Sol y Mar one day recently

 

Creole, that evening

 

fun with my underwater camera doo-wah

 

the forecourt car park full of motor coaches at the airport

 

the new and improved webcam picture at Sol y Mar

 

little boats full of aspiring sailors in Andratx

 

Genéve, on a beautiful day recently

 

getting ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

 

one who is missed by many

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, James B. Rieley

jbrieley@rieley.com