Madrid Miscellany

¡Hola amigos!

Here’s something I saw written on a wall inside a building today in Madrid:

I have sometimes dreamt that when the Day of Judgement dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without certain envy when he sees us coming with our books under our arms, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have love reading.”

-Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), from How Should One Read a Book?

Some random thoughts today…

When the weather outside is frightful, the weather is even more frightful at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

On the weekend in Paris, I ordered a crepe on the street with ham and cheese, and accidentally also ordered it with egg — perhaps I tripped and cried out “Oeuf!” while I was ordering? Such are the perils of trying to communicate in a foreign land. That’s all right, I like egg.

While standing in line at the Eiffel Tower, I started a great book, which I have since finished, called Finding Violet Park, by Jenny Valentine. I met Jenny in Amsterdam because we both have the same Dutch publisher, Moon. She’s lovely and her book really is exceptional. Look into it, if you get a chance. Here’s a favorite line, in which a girl is looking at a house: “I think I stared at every inch until it became as familiar and alive as someone’s face, paintwork the pale colour of a leaf’s back and shedding like skin, pipes and wires a network of veins, each window reflecting a different light, including me in the ground floor ones, looking in.”

On this trip I’ve taken the city bus in Bologna, the city tram in Amsterdam, the high speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, and several city buses and metro lines in Paris. All get high marks in my book. I ♥ clean, comfortable, and effective public transportation. The Paris buses, in particular, were among the only city buses I’ve ever taken that did not make me even slightly worried about getting off at the wrong stop or getting lost. Such good signage and communication!

Correction to something I said the other day: In the Spanish version of Fire, Fire is indeed named Fuego, even though it’s a masculine word. This pleases me.

The other day, Firefox was trying to get me to choose a “persona,” that is, a cute little design to decorate my browser and make it look nifty. Some of the samples they showed me did, indeed, look cute, so I followed a link that asked if I wanted to see all 35,000 possible personas, which of course I didn’t, because I have way better things to do with my life than browse through 35,000 personas deciding which one screams “me” so I can feel emotionally connected to my browser, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look at the first few pages….. and then the first page loaded. Here’s a screenshot, which you can click to see bigger.

Lovely, Firefox, lovely. Three mostly-naked women in just the first two lines? And this is only page 1 of 2,402? Where are the mostly-naked men? All I’m asking for is equal representation here. Suddenly I feel like Safari is a perfectly good browser after all.


That’s the randutiae for today. Madrid is beautiful! Wednesday, to Barcelona, and Thursday, to Lisbon.