Wed, 29 Jun 2005

Finally gone

A few hours ago my mother told me my grandfather wouldn't last much more, and it seems a few minutes later, his heart finally ceased beating. The news hasn't had a big impact on me as he had been in coma for 14 days already, and even resisted more than we expected.

During the many visits to hospital since he had this fatal stroke, I've had time to think what are the strongest memories from him that I retain. There are two main memories from childhood.

One is when he would place us on his lap, with our backs facing him, and would sing "Digudín, digudán", while he pressed his sharp fingers all over our back, and finally would ask "¿Cuantos dedos hay encima?". That game is probably one of the things that has made me and my cousins laugh more in our lives. Besides, we rarely managed to answer correctly, so he would start again until we did.

The second wasn't so funny. Once, Marta, Borja and I were travelling with our grandparents from our small town Vall de Almonacid to Castelló. Bored and innocent as we were (I don't think we'd be more than 7 or 8 years old at the time), we started to sing "Franco, Franco, que tiene el culo blanco, la pilila azul, qué tío más gandul!", and we only needed two repetitions to get our grandfather yelling at us to shut up. We were totally frozen, and didn't understand what was going on. I have a very clear memory of what my grandmother told us to explain his anger, to the point I even remember her tone as she said this. "No canteis eso porque el abuelo quería mucho a Franco". We tried to argue that we learned the song from him, and for some reason the three of us firmly believed this, but it was totally impossible. The rest of the trip went on in total silence. How could we know the abuelo loved Franco, after all. Actually, who the heck was Franco?

So this was my biggest barrier when interacting with him: our big political differences. He was very conservative and had very strong catholic beliefs. When he had the first stroke, more than a year ago, I went to take care of him and decided it was my opportunity to get some first hand stories of how the Spanish Civil War went in Vall.

He was in the wrong side of the war, as many others who happened to fight for the contender that totally was against their beliefs. Most of the East coast was controlled by the Republic, and Vall was near one of the battle fronts. He never fought in front, by pure luck: he was too young, 14, when the war started, but the Aragonese front was still active in 1939, so he kept getting closer and closer to get enlisted. Just when he was next on the list, the Republic gave up and Franco declared his victory, even if that front never got defeated.

During the war, he was in charge of giving the military their ration of food and tobacco, while he helped digging under houses and streets to build refuges for the population. Every now and then, the sirens would go off, and people would get into the nearest shelter. If they were too far to get there in time, they would go under the stairs of their house or a similar place.

One day, my grandfather was carrying some sand from a refuge to the road, when the sirens went off, and very soon after, the frightening sound of the National airplanes could be heard approaching the town. He hid with others under the bridge that crossed over "El Caño", and waited for the bombers to go away. The sound of one of them got very close, and suddenly he felt how the bridge shaked above him. They went out and saw what happened: there was a huge bomb in a big crater in the middle of the road, just above the bridge. It didn't explode, and thanks to that I'm writing this today.

This was the last day, and maybe the only one, I had a good time speaking to him. He told me about lots of other stories about the war, and when I asked him about what happened to the church, etc., he mostly said the Republicans did what they had to do. But of course, things weren't so dramatic in my village, and even if his family kept in secret many of the valuable items of the church hiding in their house, when it was discovered, there was no repression against them, and actually most of the goods were kept until after the war.

Before his stroke I hadn't visited him for over 5 weeks, and had planned going to Castelló the following Sunday. I can't avoid feeling a bit guilty that I let so much time without visiting, more when I planned sitting again with him after lunch to see if I could learn a bit more about the War. I also wanted to tell him that every now and then, my grandmother comes to mind, which was something that he sometimes asked us about. I was four days late, unfortunately.

Tue, 28 Jun 2005

NEWSFLASH: Dinosaurs are now extinct

Researchers from the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula have just informed that after many, many years of populating Galicia, dinosaurs are finally extinct in the area.

"It's a very special moment", said one of the scientists, "as we had expected this to happen many, many years ago, but the last specimen, a small 'Fragasaurio', never gave up".

Local journalists try to analyze the new situation, as it's the first time without dinosaurs running around since the Galician autonomy started.

"We... we feel like a void. This land has been ruled by dinosaurs since the late 30's and suddenly, they are no more!"

Even if it's expected that some members of the "Friends of the Dinosaurs" tribe will whine loudly about this for a few days or weeks, nothing can stop the Galicians from having new leaders who might bring some changes to the area. Congratulations!

Thu, 23 Jun 2005

Where the hell is this phone number from?!?

Forget this. My mobile phone just rang, and I see a weird, unknown and long number in the display, starting with +3585... so I pick it up at first thinking it's one of those strange numbers coming from the Generalitat. At the other end, a voice, surrounded by enough noise to make me not recognise it, speaks. "Eeeeeei, Jordiiiiiiiii!!". "Óscar?", I ask. "Nooo, sóc el Guillem!". Guillem? WTH is Guillem? One and a half seconds later, my brain connects this name to the more usual handle braindmg (I really need a nap), and everything makes sense.

So, Jesús and Guillem managed to get funding from their boss at Nokia for me to attend Debconf 5 in Helsinki. I'm grateful for their big effort, and can't wait for Debconf to start in just a few weeks. It's clearly going to be great!

Now, the question is how helix will react when we meet again. Don't abandon me like you did in Mataró!

Sun, 19 Jun 2005

The last few hours

Less than three days after my grandmother died, my mother called in and told me my grandfather Jose María was in hospital, after suffering a stroke during the night.

I've spent the last three days at the hospital, trying to find out if he'll come back from unconciousness. It seems, after 72 hours that he's not going to. All we can do is wait for the end. :(

I feel quite empty after the longest week of my life.

Thu, 16 Jun 2005


After dato unveiled the existence of the JM magazine, its editor jacobo got an overwhelming number of subscription requests and inquiries about the dates for a second issue.

I'm sorry to announce that the reason for the delay of the new issue was that JM has morphed into JM International, which now targets a larger audience in the Internet. Oh dear.

Tue, 14 Jun 2005

Swimming event at Torrevieja

Last Saturday, a few team members, namedly Kike, Rafa, Komander Gabi and myself went in Gabi's autocaravan (popularly known as the MIR Space Station) to the coastal town of Torrevieja, in Alacant. The goal of this 3h trip was to participate in Torrevieja's Travesía a nado, a popular swimming event, where you have to swim 3.200 metres across the harbour, past and around the jetty and back to a small beach somewhere around the promenade.

As before, I went there with no swimming training at all, and with little hope of being able to finish all the distance. Besides, my left shoulder has been hurting a bit for the last two months, and I didn't know how it'd react to one hour of non-stop swimming.

The caravan arrived in Torrevieja at 21:30 or so, and we had our typical dehydrated pasta plate before going for a short walk around the promenade. After discovering the "hippie shops" had nothing interesting to offer, we decided to go back to sleep, as we'd be getting up quite early for the swim next morning. On the way back, we couldn't resist stopping by a icecream shop to have our dose.

The triathletes prepare for their next adventure

Next morning we were quickly in the line to get our numbers marked on our arms, where we met Polo, our previous triathlon trainer, and after a walk around the harbour on bare feet, we were ready to start. Rafa's mission was to swim with me, as we both had trained little or not at all, but when the judge started the race, I didn't know exactly where Rafa was, so I was on my own for the whole swim.

Being so unfit after two seasons of training gives you a few weird feelings. First, as you slooooooowly swim on your way to the jetty end, you remember how much faster you swam just a few months before, and it makes you feel stupid. Second, stopping for two seconds, looking behind you and discovering there's only two or three people behind you makes you feel quite bad, or at least I'm not used to that...

As soon as I reached the jetty and entered open waters, the swim changed radically. There were big waves, in contrast to the totally calm water inside the harbour, and going up and down without control even made me feel dizzy while swimming. Drinking sea water at least five times didn't help either, as well as the pain in my shoulder getting worse and worse as I advanced. Half way or so, I was supossed to get away from the jetty and look for the beach, but everytime I looked up I couldn't find my way, so I just hoped a boat a few hundred metres away was involved in the event, and headed that way.

I finally arrived at the beach, completing the 3.200 metres in way too much time, but as the goal was to finish, I was pretty happy.

Our reward: seeing lots of half-naked men and burnt skin on our backs

The next untrained adventure is to row from Santa Pola to Tabarca and back, assisting my team mates who will swim the 6 kilometres that separate the nice island to Santa Pola's beaches.

GNOME 2.10 transition complete!

The GNOME team has completed all the many uploads needed to bring GNOME 2.10.1 into unstable. Now, please help us find the remaining bugs before the packages start trickling into etch, so people tracking testing get a polished desktop.

In parallel, the very famous seb128, kov, lool and other GNOME team members are working on getting rid of as many GNOME 1.x components as possible for the etch release. Easy victims are libgtop1 and glade1, while other libraries like gnome-libs have some more time to annoy us, as their rdepends is still too long. Adopt a GNOME 1.x application and port it to GNOME 2 today!

Comments upgrade

I just upgraded the comments plugin from the PyBlosxom contrib prerelease distribution. You should not find tracebacks so easily in this blog now, and actually submitting comments without an email address won't break it badly anymore. Thanks for the pointer, will!

Interview with seb128

seb128 was just interviewed in #gnome-debian. We apologize for azeem interfering. Gosh, people are rude in Germany.

17:14 <@jordim> 1) Ok, seb, tell us a bit about you.
17:16 <@seb128> what about me?
17:16 < azeem> your favourite color
17:16 <@jordim> dunno, you're the dude being inverviewed.
17:17 <@seb128> I don't like interview
17:17 <@jordim> Ok, thank you.
17:17 <@jordim> 2) Why 128?
17:17 <@seb128> why not? no real reason, just a random 2 power ...
17:18 <@jordim> is that really why you took seb128? randomness?
17:19 <@seb128> yep. there is other "seb", no "seb128" :)
17:19 <@jordim> Ok, thank you for your time sébastien!
17:21 < azeem> seb128: this will bring your pop-star live to new levels!

Soon, more interviews to prominent Free Software hackers!

Mon, 13 Jun 2005

Abuela Mercedes

The last time I saw my grandmother was last Saturday, when I went to have lunch at Godella. When she arrived, I went down to the street to help her out of the car, and as soon as she saw me coming, she said "Ah, si és el Jordi!". She was a bit clumsier than the last time I had seen her, and took her time to get to the staircase. Climbing the 6 steps was quite difficult for her, more than other times. During lunch, she was cheerful, and sat at my side, from where she would ask for some of the stuff she wasn't supposed to eat, hoping I would provide against "the rules". I'm glad I went to Godella on Saturday.

My grandmother died today, while sleeping. My grandfather went to wake her up but she was gone. Of my four grandparents, she was the one I felt more identified with, as she was a republican, leftist, and the "black sheep", in a way, of the family. She enjoyed that my sister Marta and me spoke to her in her mother tongue, as nobody else did in the house. I think she had both of us in a special consideration for this, besides we are, in a way, the black sheep of the family as well. :)

I will always remember the summers at Benicàssim, when I was 5 or so, sitting on her lap watching the sea, with the sunset behind us. She would rock her chair and sing some song until we fell asleep, first my sister, then me, then my older cousin Borja, and then carry us to our bed. This would happen every single night during the three Summer months, and is one of the most clear memories I have of that age.

I remember visiting her at Sitges, near Barcelona, and drinking the horrible tap water in the town, with a strong salty taste. I remember a sign in her kitchen, which read "La netedat és un gran senyal de civilització", which was also present in some other places of the town. Her house was always very clean. When we went out, she would always go out to the balcony and wave until we were round the corner. I really loved that.

Today, she's gone, and I'm really going to miss her. Our relief is that despite her memory problems in the last few years (she could ask the same thing a few times in five minutes, but still had a good historical memory, and would ocassionally tell me stories about the Spanish Civil War in Barcelona), she has led a quite pleasant life, with her friends in Sitges, and later with her family when they moved here. More importantly, she has died in peace and at home and without any suffering... she really feared having to go to hospitals.

Abuela, thanks for these fantastic 27 years we've shared. I think I've learned a lot from you, and will live believing that your way of thinking and the 1/4th of Catalan roots in me is your biggest inheritance. Tomorrow the family will go to cremate you. I'll stay at home with the grandfather and with the last image I have of you, sitting in the garden with that smile on your face.

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