Monday, April 2, 2018

A month away...

It is becoming our habit to find sunnier, warmer climes during the harshest parts of the bone-creaking cold, nose-running wet, ghastly-gray inclimate Parisian winter.  This year we chose Seville.  It shares top honors with Lisbon of being the warmest place in Europe when the days are at their shortest.

Transporting ourselves and our things to Spain turned out to be a bit of a challenge.  Many flights headed east of Paris before turning around and heading southwest.  These looked to take 8.5 hours to complete a journey.  Whichever direct flights were available flew at some ungawdly early hour out of Roissy and cost a minor fortune.  Well connected to the rest of Europe Spain is not.

Throwing caution to the wind we booked the TGV to Barcelona, found a hotel just across the street from the train station, and bought passage continuing on to Seville on the AVE.  We like train travel.  It feels so much more civilized than flying Cattle Car Class in a long aluminum tube.

Upon our arrival we discovered the apartment was one of the best we've ever rented thru AirBnB.  Fernando had cleaned the place top to bottom and nearly everything was in good condition.  Only the weather made things challenging.

This year al Andalus was inundated with rain and, in the mountains, snow.  Lots of it.  Rivers ran brown with mud and overflowed their banks.  Olive and orange orchards sat in water that had nowhere else to go.  It rained 25 out of the 30 days we were in Spain.  It was depressing.

My mood was definitely affected by the weather.  So when px500, a photo-sharing site I belonged to, sent me an email saying they couldn't process my payment and couldn't find my account, I said fine.  No big deal.  The very next week sealed my thinking about leaving px500 when the company announced it had be sold to a company in China.

A week later and the international news was awash with reports of how not only had Russian bots and Russian trolls used Facebook to influence vulnerable American minds into voting for Trump, but that a western company had worked directly with the Trump campaign with data collected from 50million Facebook users to sway the election.  As my mood was already dark, and as the rain in Spain continued to fall, I had time to think long and hard about my participation on Facebook.

I realized I was naive to believe that Zuckerberg would care enough about protecting democracy to pay attention to how his company was being used as a Russia-for-Trump tool.  Money before ideology has been the American business model for generations, so why would a Silicon Valley based company be any different?  The Facebook business model is to sell participant user information while providing "free" services that integrate communications.

As has been noted in The New Yorker magazine, with great power (Facebook's 2 billion user reach) comes great responsibility.  I my eyes Facebook has failed, miserably, so all bloatware, spyware from Facebook and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) were deleted from the tablet, freeing up 2gig of application space.  Ethics and morals are important to me.

On our return to Paris we spent two nights in Barcelona.  We were there to share a birthday lunch with a childhood friend of Jude's.  Jennifer had been something of a model for leaving the USA for better, more civilized locations.  Jen has lived in Spain for over 30 years and seldom considers moving back to America.

The lunch was wonderful.  The conversations were multi-lingual.  Jen's husband speaks French. Jen speaks English with us. Between she and her husband they speak Spanish.   It felt like a three-way tag team.

The weather... well... the weather had turned nice, actually.  It was clear and sunny.  So we took a long slow walk along the Ramblas.

Museo Bellas Artes de Seville

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