• Thursday, 24 March 2005

    Our new lawn in Antequera emerges from the weeds

    The new back lawn and vineyards beyond

    Spring IS in the air

    The weather here in Antequera has finally turned to a lovely early Spring, full of unexpected but much needed showers.

    The change has spurred all the garden into rampant growth and there's a lot to do to get everything looking good before we bug out for the Summer. Ursula and I have now decided to get some help with the two non-stop jobs at the villa, mowing the grass and cleaning the pool so our new friend Rolando at AquaGarden (one of the many new businesses springing up in Antequera) is going to help us out.

    Even though we've been here over 3 years now, the friendliness of almost everyone we've met around here is still impressive. It's just not possible to rush around doing business in the coldly efficient way of our old life in London. Here it just seems rude not to spend as much time as necessary talking about friends and family, especially as we have some!

    What's all the Fuss about the new Euro Constitution?

    What's all the Fuss about the new Euro Constitution?

    Posted by Alienboy on March 23, 2005 03:24 PM (See all posts by Alienboy)
    Filed under: Books: Business, Books: Nonfiction, Books: Politics and Affairs, Politics, Politics: Law, Politics: World

    A Constitution for the European Union (CESifo Seminar Series)
    Dennis C. Mueller
    Book from The MIT Press
    Release date: 01 September, 2004

    Many people have quite heated positions on the subject of the new European Constitution
    but to my way of thinking, it's such a simple no-brainer that at times it's hard to remember what all the fuss is about.

    The proposed reforms will strengthen my rights as a citizen of the New Europe, establish the European Union as a legal body, put an end to the ludicrous 6-month rotating presidency nonsense by creating a permanent post, address the current democratic deficit by strengthening somewhat the European Parliament, reduce the ability of selfish states to hold the EU to ransom by replacing veto rights with qualified majority voting, and creates an exit clause so states who really do want to go it alone can.

    Doesn't seem like a whole big deal to get fussed about really, but for a fuller consideration of the issues, the BBC have a fair and balanced report here

    More fine reading at Blogcritics.org.
    Support Blogcritics.org by shopping at Amazon.com from this page.

    A Constitution for the European Union (CESifo Seminar Series)/Dennis C. Mueller

    First posted on Blogcritics

    Tuesday, 22 March 2005

    Welcome to the House of Fun

    Welcome to the House of Fun

    Posted by Alienboy on March 22, 2005 02:58 PM (See all posts by Alienboy)

    Heavy Heavy Hits
    Music from Emi Int'l
    Release date: 16 February, 1999

    I don’t know how English music (by which I mean music that sounds uniquely English, rather than music made by Brits that simply sounds international) goes down in the USA these days, but there have been some great artists over the years that maybe haven’t done quite as well as they could have in the Americas.

    To set the ball rolling here is Madness (crap site btw, don’t go unless you really want to), whose Nutty Ska image and very English voices sometimes obscured a band of impressive musical ability and a wonderful way with words.

    This compilation features 23 consecutive hits in chronological order that reveal the depth and diversity of their musical reach, going far beyond their Ska roots, even tracks that you think you know sound different after a gap of years. It took my breath away to re-learn that “Our House” has one of the most perfect openings of any pop song, love that bass burp too!

    Titles like “My Girl’s Mad At Me”, “Embarrassment”, “Grey Day”, “Shut Up”, “Tomorrow’s Just Another Day”, “One Better Day” and “Yesterday’s Men” highlight a recurrent theme of loss, alienation, betrayal, fear, an increasing sense of wasted precious time and quiet English desperation forming the core of the Madness experience -desperate but still dancing.

    Tracks like “Wings Of A Dove”, “Michael Caine” and the covers of Labi Sifre’s “It Must Be Love” (not too bad, actually) and Scritti Politti’s “The Sweetest Girl” (very bad) reminded me how Madness were not always great and ultimately faded away, probably still “Waiting for the Ghost Train” of Fame to call upon them again.

    By the way, both the US & UK sites have the same Amaz(on)ing typos “Night Beat To Cairo” and, my personal favourite, “Yesterday’s Menu”! LOL

    This review originally posted on Blogcritics

    The Joys of Unexpected Shopping!

    Spring is finally in the air and there is a lot of work to be done as we prepare the villa for it's first season as a holiday rental in Antequera and yesterday (Monday) was the day for our big shopping day out on the Costa Del Sol.

    We needed a full set of bathroom fittings for the planned power shower room so a full tour of Bathroom and DIY shops was in prospect but fortunately Leroy Merlin proved equal to the task of satisfying the fabulous but demanding taste of Ursula, my wife, on the budget of, well, not a pauper, but certainly not a prince!

    This gave me a chance to sneak off to the nearby record store and stock up on a few bargains, one of which was the Madness singles compilation, "Heavy Heavy Hits" , rare on Amazon but here a snip for 7 Euros!

    23 UK hit singles in 7 years, many of them sublime (House of Fun, Shut Up, My Girl's Mad At Me, Our House) is a pretty impressive record by anybody's standards and many of these songs are genuine classics.

    Monday, 21 March 2005

    My First Blogcritique

    How Herman Hesse Changed My Life Forever

    Posted by Alienboy on March 20, 2005 09:33 PM (See all posts by Alienboy)
    Filed under: Books, Books: Philosophy, Books: SF - Scroll down to read comments on this story and/or add one of your own.

    The Glass Bead Game : (Magister Ludi) A Novel
    Hermann Hesse
    Book from Picador
    Release date: 06 December, 2002

    As a callow 16 year old virgin, forced by circumstances beyond my control to take premature control of my life, I had many romantic ideas about the world.

    Herman Hesse's The Glass Bead Game completely revolutionised the way I saw the world, showed me the limitations of fixed beliefs and committed me to a life of transcending the usual life options. Or so it seemed at the time, lol

    This is a great, if lengthy, book which repays the persistent reader with a wonderful work of fiction, science fiction, a tantalising concept, the Glass Bead Game itself, and a profound understanding of human nature. Great stuff!

    I can't better the writeup at amazon, so i'll quote it

    "The final novel of Hermann Hesse, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, The Glass Bead Game is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life as well as a classic of modern literature

    Set in the 23rd century, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game)."

    The really great thing is that Knecht (German for servant, I suspect), despite his intellectual brilliance, never forgets the importance of simple human life, indeed comes to value it more highly than intellectual perfection.

    Many people are fascinated with the game itself and there many sites devoted to it, notably http://www.glassbeadgame.com/

    More fine reading at Blogcritics.org.

    The Glass Bead Game : (Magister Ludi) A Novel/Hermann Hesse

    This post originally made to Blogcritics

    Sunday, 20 March 2005

    I must be on a roll

    I've been accepted as a contributor at Blogcritics , which is great.

    They have a wonderfully diverse group of reviewers or "sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, technology, and politics" as they have been called, although there is also a provocative sprinkling of diehards, blowhards and totally out there loonies!

    I've been commenting on many of the posts for a few weeks now, so it just seemed right to get a little more involved now...


    Well, I just logged in to the Manchester United server of the Sunday League to see how the competition to take over my team is going and found this in the Hall of Fame...


    Alienboy was one of Man 2's greats, and is in the minority of managers who can claim to have been a commanding presence on the game over 'generations'. A real old school manager, his brilliance on the game and wit on the forums hadn't faded since he joined in late 2002 to when he left early 2005. If anything, one could say he moved from strength to strength - 3 Elite Cups underline just how good this manager was. Proved his resilience on countless occasions, surviving defeats on the forum and on the game to come back stronger, usually having the last laugh along the way. A legend who learnt his trade with the old guard and - along with Pparch - the only manager who stayed at the very top until they decided to call it a day.

    * blushes*

    This is our swimming pool in Antequera

    This is our swimming pool with peach, plum and walnut trees in the background

    A load more photos can be seen at Antequera Villa Rental

    Shady Garden Spot

    Shady Garden Spot

    Our House near Antequera

    Our house

    It's just a game...

    I've recently decided it was time to update my online gaming fun.

    For the last couple of years I've been dividing my time between the Alien Adoption Agency an American mostly text based game which is great fun if rather juvenile at times, and the British based "The World's Biggest Online Football Game" which is a very comprehensive and fun game.

    The thing is, to be competitive, you really need to log in every day, to train your alien to be stronger or your football team fitter. And that is just repetitive clicking in a non-graphical environment, which is about as much fun as working in DOS.

    Although it's sad to leave some good friends behind, the excitement offered by the fully graphical world that is Anarchy Online is too cool to resist. Rich, full colour, full screen graphics, seemingly limitless worlds, and a complex social structure make it literally another world; it's quite a steep learning curve but well worth the effort, and you don't feel like you have to login everyday. Oh yeah, and it is FREE until January 2006...

    Saturday, 19 March 2005

    Learning the game

    So I read in the help files here that it's a good idea to submit details of my blog to blog indexes like Daypop - a current events/weblog/news search engine and blogdex - the weblog diffusion index and also Popdex : the website popularity index which asked me to link back to them.

    Haven't managed to get the photo thing working yet, which is almost certainly due to user error.

    Let's see what happens next.

    Friday, 18 March 2005

    Search Engine notification

    Well, just spent some time notifying Google and other search engines about the villa rental site, Antequera Villa Rental so here's hoping all the hard work pays off.

    It's a six page site now, which I built with a free download of Web Studio 4. Being only the second time I've built a commercial site, it was quite a steep learning curve, but I managed to complete the design before the 30 day free trial expired! and I even wrote a page of the new site in Spanish! Hope there aren't too many mistakes!

    I did then go on to buy the software too, so it proves the wisdom of giving in order to receive... The original design was knocked up in 4 hours of brainache using Microsoft Publisher 2003 - yeah, I know, but fools rush in, you know. Unfortunately, MP wasn't good enough to cope with my ignorance and the resulting site went up with a broken link, much to my annoyance, to say nothing of the frustrating visitor experience the site was offering. Hopefully the new layout and added functionality will improve the experience.

    Alright! Just noticed I can stick photos in here, so once I've set up a Hello account and installed Picasa and uploaded some photos, that's what I'll do. Watch this space...

    Welcome to the World!

    And yet another blog is born. Let's hope it's as fun and useful as I hope...

    This blog is going to be a personalised mixture of useful or interesting information, details of (any) interesting events or thoughts about my work, currently a strange mix of villa rental in Spain, for which see http://www.antequeravillarental.com, a small luxury boutique hotel, see http://www.cortijolasvinas.com, my latest adventure as the Spanish and Hispano-American representative of a potentially fantastic new business http://www.liveaccounting.com

    Then there will also be the usual mixed commentary on the personal and public challenges of adjusting to a new life in a new country, a new language and culture and all that goes with it.