Juvenile swift stranded in Luarca, Spain

A nestling swift (Apus apus) was lying in the ruins of a house at one meter over street level. It didn´t look injured. We did not touch it.

The pictures were taken in the first week of August in Luarca, a seaside village in the north of Spain.

Swift chick Luarca

Swift chick Luarca

Swift frontal closed eyes

Detail frontal closed eyes

Detail of head of swift chick

Detail of head of swift chick

We spent as little time as possible taking the photos. We did not see the parents coming in to feed the chick in the 5 minutes that we stood waiting at a safe distance.

The first fledgings show up around July 27th in Asturias, Spain, upon the phenology records. There is a great guide to take care of fallen chicks: Swift First Aid.

First arrival dates of swifts are a popular phenology record. Swifts in London arrive in April and May. I think that the duration of stay for Common Swift presence on the nest is a more interesting metric than the first arrival. Surprisingly, this metrics is still poorly studied in Europe (Tigges, U., 2007, The Phenology of the Common Swift Apus apus in Eurasia and the Problem of Defining the Duration of their Stay).

Post to Twitter

Mind map and quotes of The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

A frequent problem with novels or piece of media in general is that I forget them. A few weeks after reading the text I I don’t remember the names. Months later I cannot describe the plot even.

In addition to this problem, finding the time to read a 700+ pages long novel is a rare luxury these days. Such is the extension of the book “The Way We Live Now“, by Anthony Trollope. It took me more than 3 years reading it: mostly on holidays. I enjoyed the experience but perseverating with the plot and characters took me some will. I thought that it would be a shame

I ploted some important names and concepts on an improvised mind map while I learned the interface of Mindjet Maps. The choice of this tool proved a mistake down the line. Mind maps cannot be saved to formats other than the proprietary and undescribed mmap. The only export available is printing. You can download a pdf version of the image below: Mind map of The Way We Live Now by accuteaccent.com


Mind map of The Way We Live Now. License: Creative Commons' Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Mind map of The Way We Live Now. License: Creative Commons’ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike


Composing the mind map took some patience to deal with the tool’s interface. I used an online tool by Stamen to get stylized geo representations of maps

grosvenor square london

Grosvenor Square in London



Trollope does not save his sharp criticism to anyone on his novel or the society of this time.

You can read for instance about Roger Carbury, a gentleman with dim views on life but true to his beliefs: “To a man not accustomed to thinking there is nothing in the world so difficult as to think”

An even duller character, Georgiana Longestaffe is quoted as claiming: Who thinks about love nowadays? I don’t know any one who loves any one else.
Not even we, the readers, and the human race in general are spared from getting the flak: “After some loose fashion we turn over things in our mind and ultimately reach some decision, guided probably by our feelings at the last moment rather than by any process of ratiocination; and then we think that we have thought.”was, as a satire, powerful and good. The character of Melmotte is well maintained. The Beargarden is amusing,—and not untrue…

Tropolle himself contributed to the understanding of the book with his own words:  “.Roger Cardury and Paul Montague were “uninteresting”. Hetta is “weak and vapid….”. “The interest of the story lies among the wicked and foolish people,—with Melmotte and his daughter, with the American woman, Mrs Hurtle, and with John Crumb and the girl of his heart.

Reading this book in the early 21st century is a sweet-sour experience. We are no longer shocked by the dishonesty and the decadence of a greed-driven society. We are bewildered by the We are nowadays on the stage when we acknowledge in ourselves the extent of the devaluation of moral values.
The experiment is: will I remember this novel in a few years time when reading this post better than any other book I read in those 3 years it took me to complete this one?

Post to Twitter

2 iphone units in 16 months and 10 reasons why Apple sucks

The facts:

I ordered an iphone 4S directly on Apple.com. 10 months later the unit stopped working; the phone would not start.
Booking an appointment at a Apple Store requires a bit of patience: the waiting time is of several days to one week. At my first visit my 10-month old unit was replaced by a new one.
6 months later the replacement unit stopped working
The replacement unit was diagnosed with a motherboard issue. The unit could not be recovered and it could not be repaired.

10 reasons why Apple sucks

The case raises a number of concerns about Apple’s customer service:

  • Apple’s guarantee for products ordered directly via Apple.com is limited to 1 year only instead of the 2 statutory ones granted in most of the countries in the EU
  • Apple Store refuses to provide the packaging box of the replacement unit. This refusal prevented me from knowing the IMEI of my replacement unit. This in turn makes all attempts to contact to their support a complicated and irritating process, either online or by phone
  • The guarantee of the replacement unit was limited to 3 months one, again materially shorter than the statutory scope in the EU
  • The is no way to recover any personal data on my iphone unit or via the backup at iTunes other than with yet a new Apple device.
  • Apple’s customer service is a non-geographical number. That means that the client pays for the call and Apple gets a kick back of the call from the local telephone operator.
  • Apple did not provide with a a escalation procedure to deal with their issues or an access to the customer Ombudsman at Apple. Apple’s support staff claimed that such procedures do not exist and that they could only provide me with the URL of a “feedback” form at http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone.html
  • I also requested a way to dispose of my non-working unit. Their junk hardware is a hazardous waste with no recycling facility offered
  • Apple diverts their profits to Ireland to save taxes in most countries in the EU
  • The iphone is a sub-standard piece of hardware: it failed to sync over WiFi, the battery rarely lasts more than 12 hours under normal usage conditions, ie. no gaming
  • The iTunes software is a clunky and counter-intuitive piece of software: it failed to connect

Silence at Apple.com

I requested that you provide me with a replacement unit with a proper extension of its guarantee of 2 years from the order day of the original one.

All I got from my message was a thank you message at http://www.apple.com/feedback/iphone_thankyou.html

Thank you for your feedback on the iPhone.We cannot respond to you personally, but please know that your message has been received and will be reviewed by the iPhone Team. If we need to follow up with you on your ideas for improving the iPhone, we will contact you directly.
We appreciate your assistance in making the iPhone better.
iPhone Team

The iphone sucks and increasingly so

Post to Twitter

The right amount of sex, kinky neardenthals and walking Easter Island statues

Is it possible to have just the right amount of sex? The mangrove rivulus (Kryptolebias marmoratus) combines self-fertilization with occasional sex to keep the best genes providing immunity to pathogens http://bit.ly/TGh87t

Kinky neardenthals could party hard in feather garments and all, reported from Gibraltar

Some of the micro pictures selected by the Small World Photomicrography Competition


Replicas of Easter Island statues walking with a bit of help of idle holidaymakers by the look of it.

Coyotes took to trotting after joggers in public parks in the US. People took to shooting them down (the coyotes). Projectcoyote.org is working to raise the awareness about the behaviour of the coyotes. Which makes me wonder, if wolves are learning to coexist with humans in Spain, why foxes don’t live in cities and towns in Spain like they do in the United Kingdom?

Post to Twitter

Disconnected notes from an amnesiac