Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doggy DNA test; Young brains; Darwin and the Spanish; Better banks; Gib: and Fotos.

As I've said before, when I and my colleagues were planning to open the world's first DNA fingerprinting business, hard as we tried we didn't come up with the applications now available in the market. Well, the US market anyway. The latest of these is the ability to test dog dirt so as to determine which of your neighbour's pets is fouling the footpath. Before levying a steep penalty.

I read last night that the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain that measures risk – is not fully developed until you're 25. Which is why young men make willing soldiers and bad drivers, I guess. And why insurance companies have 26 as the threshold for cheaper (i.e. less expensive) premiums.

Yesterday I had the millionth experience of someone walking right in front of me and invading what I - but not they - considered to be my personal space. In this instance to get to the zebra crossing before any cars arrived to complicate matters. So inured am I to this that I didn't feel my gorge rising. Rather, I saw in a flash that the Spanish tendency to do this is - and to appear rude to others - is simply an application of Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest.There's an instinct to do whatever is in your best interests, however defined. In other words, it's all in the genes. Can't be helped. Nothing to get upset about. It's nothing personal. Así son las cosas.

The EU has announced that aid for Spanish banks is to end. Originally, €100bn was made available for this. But only €43bn was drawn down. And of that €30bn, or 70%, was "lost" to the Spanish government. I really don't know how. But I do know that a few banks are now felt to be safe enough to put on the block, one of which is our Novogalicia Banco, or whatever it's called this week. Interestingly, potential foreign buyers don't seem to be convinced that 'clean' means clean, nor 'safe' safe, as they're demanding government guarantees against nasty surprises. Which is probably wise, as we've all learned over the last 10 years that the only thing guaranteed with Spanish banks is a surprise. Or two.

Which is an appropriate point to report that 3 former execs of the CAM bank were arrested last week and released on bail, which they found rather easy to get. The charges are that they diverted around €247m to fiscal paradises and defrauded the Tax Office of €31m. Which is not small beer.

You'll recall the reports that the Spanish government reduced the monitoring at the Gib border during the day(s) of the visits of the EU monitors. So it won't have come as any surprise that the latter concluded they 'saw no evidence' of abuse. Neither did the 3 monkeys they had with them.

20 years after Tesco in the UK and probably 40 years after supermarkets in the USA, Mercadona has discovered bundling. Now my cauliflowers and broccolis come in packets of two and my (ever larger) spring onions in packets of three. And people wonder why there's so much wastage. From hereon it's the fruit and veg shop for me.

Here's one of the new shops opened in place of one that's closed down in Pontevedra. It appears to be majoring in a dress and glitzy top-hats. Don't ask me.

The young ladies to whom I give an English lesson on Saturday mornings today complained that I hadn't put a foto of them in this blog and suggested it must be because I didn't think they were pretty. Such are the perils of life in Spain. So here it is:-

Finally . . . Christmas must be round the corner - Ads for electric razors have begun to appear on the TV.


Sierra said...

Found the opposite in our local Mercadonas (Galicia and Murcia), they're now eliminating the pre-packaged items, and you now pick and weigh your requirements

Colin Davies said...

We still can weigh for some items, eg the peppers. But I expect them to go the Anglo way soon.

Perry said...


Have you ever clicked on the next blog button? It really is pot luck!

I found this a few clicks along, but each blog is random.

As for the constant violation of your personal space, it might be fairly harmless there in Spain, but in other places, it's usually a prelude to assault. You might wish to exercise an option.



JG said...

I was in a supermarket in Barcelona recently and it wasn’t clear what the process was for fruit and veg buying, so I skulked around for a while to see how the natives did it- but most of them seemed unclear too. There was a set of scales which could produce a price tag, which looked like it might be for self-service, but the buttons didn’t have any words or pictures on them. So an assistant had to do the weighing and pricing for everyone, which seemed to me to be missing the point. But she was pleasant and no-one seemed too bothered and I’d prefer this to having to buy an excess of ready-packed goods. This was probably the random process of one supermarket, but generally it’s noticeable that there’s still a lot more vendor/customer interaction in Spain than the UK- a lot more independent shops as well.

By the way, what’s with the Spanish spelling of “foto”? Is this a blog in-joke I haven’t picked up on...?

Colin Davies said...

That's how they've been doing it down at Carrefour for at least the 12 years I've been here. I prefer the DIY weighing as you don't have to wait for someone to come along to do it. Or go in search of someone. Actually, I prefer the UK system of the check-out person (nearly said girl!) doing it, if you don't want to hazard the self-service machines.

'Foto' is just my addition to the Spanglish language. When it becomes widely used, I'll move on to say, farmacist.

Anonymous said...


Great blog. Small comment: The amounts made available by the EU were in billions, not millions.

Colin Davies said...

Yes, of course. Thanks for pointing that out. Have corrected it.

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