Holy books

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Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo (Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems), by Galileo Galilei.

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Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy), by Isaac Newton.

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De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), by Nicolas Copernico.

And another one from Tycho Brahe for which I unfortunately don’t have a proper picture.

We saw them all yesterday at the James Melville Gilliss Library, as part of a tour to the United States Naval Observatory (USNO)–the institution in charge of providing precise time (the “Master Clock”) to the GPS system.

If there’s such a thing as a holy book, now I know what’s to be before a few of them.

Elecciones al Consejo de Residentes Españoles

No sé cómo me las he apañado.  Aunque soy como quien dice un recién llegado, el mes que viene me presento a unas elecciones.

No son las europeas, son para una cosa llamada “Consejo de Residentes Españoles” (CRE). Un órgano de enlace entre el Consulado y la comunidad española. Voy de último suplente (como si nos hubieran ordenado alfabéticamente) así que mis aspiraciones de salir son  bien modestas.

Nos presentamos dos candidaturas, la Participación Ciudadana Progresista – Españoles en el Mundo y la Candidatura España y Libertad. Como sé que se lo están preguntando se lo digo ya. En la primera hay un par de miembros del PSOE y en la segunda del PP. Pero no me entiendan mal. Esto del CRE no es algo político, las dos candidaturas están encabezadas por independientes y no están controladas por ningún partido (lo puedo asegurar al menos de la mía, la progresista).

Así las cosas nos reunimos ayer en el Consulado para presentar nuestros programas públicamente. Una de estas reuniones de las que no te arrepientes ir (y eso que no daban comida gratis). Se discutió de lo divino y de lo humano, de programas y de personas, todos contentos.

Todos contentos hasta que a alguien del público, viendo que ambas candidaturas tenemos programas bastante parecidos, se le ocurre preguntar que cuál sería la señal que nos distingue. Me alegré, teníamos una buena respuesta (el proceso abierto y participativo, a ver si no cómo estaría yo aquí). Y entonces, de repronto, uno de los representantes de la otra candidatura contesta (reproducción libre, no tengo la grabación):

Si algo nos distingue es que nuestra candidatura jamás pedirá perdón por lo que hicieron los españoles durante la conquista de América. No hay nada de lo que arrepentirnos.

Dirán ustedes que tener la conciencia tranquila es síntoma de mala memoria. Yo me limité a quedarme patidifuso. Imaginen que estamos de cervezas en un bar y pregunto: ¿cuál creéis que es la mayor diferencia entre el Barça y el Manchester United? Y va alguien y dice:

Si algo nos distingue es que en Manchester tuvimos lo que hay que tener para apoyar la guerra de Irak y así poder cortarle el cuello a ese hijoputa de Sadam.

Llámenme cobarde pero, si alguna vez me veo en estas, sacrifico la cerveza (y la tapa) y me largo al bar de enfrente.

Así que, a lo que iba, si eres español y resides en Washington DC, el 13 de junio no te olvides de votar.

Actualización: Nos quedamos anoche hasta tarde en el Consulado con el recuento de votos, y ¡ganamos! Con un margen bastante amplio, y olé, gracias a todos por participar.

Some advices for a Pecha Kucha night

From Life as an android

You know I’m a big fan of Pecha Kucha, one of the best recipes I know to end with the death by Powerpoint.

So yesterday I happily went for the first time to a Pecha Kucha night in Washington DC. It was hosted by the Swedish Embassy in Georgetown (which is a very nice place) and although there was a good bunch of people, presenters, and drinks, the overall content was pretty disappointing.

I’m no expert in the topic, however I’ve learned a couple of things attending Pecha Kucha Brussels, so in order to be constructive with my criticism let me kindly suggest a few things for the next one.

Organizers

  • Explain the meaning of Pecha Kucha (including how to pronounce it :)) and the way it works. Yesterday nobody said a word about it and some newcomers were lost.
  • Try to be informal to favor muscles and brain relaxation.
  • Leave a few minutes between presentations, the people normally want to discuss a little after each one.

Presenters

  • You have 20 slides, but try to present only one idea. Two maximum. Our little brain is not able to handle more (especially on a Friday after work). Try to tell us a story, connect the slides and bring us somewhere, we’ll follow.
  • If you want to sell your company, show off your creativity. Impress the audience with something you do well and if we like it we’ll pay attention to your company’s URL in the last slide. We may even look for you during the networking time (aka drinks).
  • Corollary: worst thing you can do is to present 1 product per slide.
  • Please do not base your presentation on “climate change is bad, being green is cool, and Obama too”. You want us to change our habits? Question us.
  • Do not say that what you’re presenting is awesome, cool and mind-blowing. This is up to the audience to decide.
  • Avoid reading your presentation, but do read it if it’s better for the story line. You do not want us to sleep, modulate your voice so we can better understand the way you feel.
  • Admittedly, it’s pretty unlikely the audience is interested in all the presentations. Take into account that we go because we like to see passionate people taking the chance. The incredible thing about Pecha Kucha is that once is over it leaves you in a creative mood no matter what you’ve seen.

That’s it, I hope it helps.

By the way, I just found out that the first Ignite DC will be happening soon, and there is already an Ignite Baltimore and a Barcamp DC. See you around!

Cherry Blossom

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During the first two weeks of March the people in Washington DC go to the Tidal Basin (an inlet next to the Potomac River) to admire thousands of trees blossom at the same time during the beginning of the Spring (really cheerful, see some pics above).

It is called the National Cherry Blossom Festival, that “commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, honoring the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and celebrating the continued close relationship between our two cultures”.

This is the curious chronology of the Cherry Blossom (that you don’t find in the official website):

  • Japan gives 3,000 sakura trees as a gift to the United States in 1912 to celebrate the nations’ growing friendship.
  • Japan participates in World War I from 1914 to 1917 as one of the major Entente Powers (Great Britain, France and Russia, plus various agreements with the United States and Spain).
  • Japan attacks Pearl Harbor in a surprise military strike on the morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, resulting in the United States becoming militarily involved in World War II.
  • United States drops atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945 ending World War II.
  • Japan renews the gift with another 3,800 trees in 1965.

You know you live in the USA

when your office sends a message like the following:

To avoid confusion and concern, Washington HQ staff members should be aware that a movie company will detonate special effects explosives with 20 foot fire fire balls sometime between 9:30 am and 12 noon on Wednesday near the Key Bridge in Georgetown. While the offices are some distance from this area, staff members who may come to work late or go our to lunch early in that area should not be alarmed to hear the noise or see the fire ball/smoke. The special effects will only take two to three minutes.

Thank you.

I imagine is much worse in NYC or San Francisco.

I got big news

Update: As some of you have guessed, this was my evil’s side playing with April Fools’ Day, thanks dudes.

sun1copy15I gave Washington DC and the USA almost a month and, honestly, this is not what I want.

I lived in other places before and I know this is all the time I need to test a new city. I tried, but the people, the habits, this is not a natural place for me to be. Job is fine, but nothing to do with what I expected. And the weather, you may think is not so important, but for someone coming from the south of Spain (where it is rare not to have a sunny day) and after living two years in Brussels (where it is rare not to have a rainy day) this dark and cold spring in DC is way too much, dude.

Life is short, for real, and we better work hard to get the most of it. So last week I phoned a professional contact I recently made, and I just got confirmation of a decent position in Cape Town, South Africa (!). I always wanted to live in Africa, and especially close to the Tropics, so this is sort of the perfect chance. Unfortunately I still need two months to do the paperwork, but starting June I will be happily based in the other side of the world!

I will only miss the squirrels.