Monthly Archives: March 2010

Speech about Minifutbol

Since I started the blog, I wanted to write about Minifutbol, a competition I play in Torrelodones. On March 17th I gave one speech about it at Toastmasters (supposedly a humorous speech), so what better way to explain what Minifutbol is that to share the script of that speech with you here:

“Mr Toastmaster, fellow members, guests,

This is the t-shirt of team with which I won last summer Minifutbol championship in Torrelodones… I am proud of it because that was the first championship I won in Minifutbol, I’m so proud that I’ll wear it here. I wear it here, because my partner Luca doesn’t allow me to wear it at home. She doesn’t like Minifutbol. On the awards ceremony after that tournament I was given a very big, shiny trophy… her reaction: “You’re not bringing this home! Not until you get rid of the rest of the trophies”. Once bitten, twice shy… now the trophy is somewhere hidden.

Fellow members, I want to tell you about Minifutbol, a kind of football being played in Torrelodones.

It all started 40 years ago with a group of friends in their twenties wanting to meet their old friends with the excuse of playing football matches.

Nowadays, in the village we are more than 600 people participating in it. We are divided in the following categories: “embryos”, “dummies”, “immature teens” (pavosos inmaduros), matures and veterans.

And there has always been a huge waiting list of people wishing to play, some applied in the 70s for the embryo category and still waiting and looking forward to join the veterans now.

As I told you, this T-shirt is of the team I played with last summer and won the summer tournament, now I am playing in another team. With this team we didn’t win the winter championship… no, we have been the last ones. We just won 2 matches out of 16… I don’t care, I’m even happy: in these competitions everybody gets a prize: I’ll be given a smaller trophy that will fit better in the living room of the house. Luca may not oppose this time.

Why did I switch teams? Minifutbol has a social ambition attached to it. There you get to know different people from the village. We switch teams every year and they are formed randomly: every year I inscribe myself individually and then by draw I’m placed in a team with other 7-8 players. At least this is what I’m told… actually, I never saw the draw taking place… It could be that each year my previous team is just getting rid of me.

Going back to the competition, we lost, ok, but let me tell you one rule of the competition that describes well the spirit of it: each player has to play at least a minimum of 10 minutes in every match. So it can’t happen that the best player of the team plays the whole of it and the worst doesn’t get to participate. In the case of our team we could say that we want everyone to feel part of the failure of the team.

Ok, failure is a strong word… let me put it in another way. What would you say is the most important thing in football, the success factor?… ok, so the more goals the better the match, the better the show. This year, I am in a team devoted the show, which in football means goals… we are so devoted to it that we try not to interfere with it; we have been scored 160 goals, about 10 goals per game. Sometimes we even had to score those goals ourselves. I had to score one myself.

Life goes on. In spring we play yet another tournament: the Cup. With the same teams we played in winter.

Now we have the chance to be the revelation team in the cup tournament… as you can imagine the pressure is very high among us, the expectations in us however are very low among the rest…

It never happened that the very worst team in the league has been able to win the cup.

I received the following message from the captain of the team trying to encourage us:

“Guys, I also think we can be the revelation team. Let’s do something that has never been done by anybody else, something never seen, something surprising and that will leave everybody with their mouths wide open…

… let’s play naked next Sunday.”

Mr Toastmaster.”

Of course, this post still leaves open the door to another post in which I talk about Toastmasters, but that one will come for sure.

That “next Sunday” indeed was 14th March, we didn’t play naked and we won the first match of the cup 11-5… sometimes you have to make up some facts in the speeches… the show is the show.


Filed under Sports, Toastmasters

“Playas” in Lima

At the time this post is published, Luca and I will probably be in one the following praias (beaches in English, playas in Spanish) in Rio de Janeiro: Leblon, Ipanema or Copacabana…

… let me share with you a picture of how playas looked like in Lima, Peru.

Playa grande, Lima.


Filed under Travelling

The real comfort starts from 300 kg seats

In a previous post we introduced some comparisons of aircraft by its price per kilogram. There, we could see a trend in bigger aircraft being cheaper in this per kg basis. This raises the question: do bigger aircraft require less weight per seat? Are they lighter in a kg per seat basis?      

This is what intuition seems to tell us; after all, once you have put in place the engines, wing, tail… what can be the difference between a larger or smaller fuselage…     

Let’s use the same sources we used in the previous post and take the typical seat configuration that the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) indicate for each aircraft model. We get the following table:     

Aircraft OEW (kg) per seat.


Our intuition wasn’t very successful again. In the upper part of the table we find the A320 family and 737s aircraft (those used by e.g. Easyjet and Ryanair in short-haul routes). In the bottom of the list we find the A380, A340, A330, 787, 777…, the biggest aircraft.     

We see that the average is about 400 kg per seat. Let’s compare this figure again with cars, with the same cars as we did in the previous post. We now get following table:     

Cars empty weight (kg) per seat.


It turns out that cars also need around 300-500 kg of structure per seat (an average for these ones of 360 kg). Since most cars carry 5 passengers, here it’s easy to see the trend: bigger cars employ more kilograms per seat.     

Let’s go for a closer comparison:     

  • Small for small: take the A321 with 253 kg/seat, it is quite similar to the Renault Megane with 230 kg/seat.
  • Large for large: take the A380 with 527 kg/seat, it is almost identical to the Audi Q7 with 527 kg/seat.

One step further: The A380 used so far is the 3-class configuration with 525 passengers, but wasn’t there a high density configuration with 853 passengers in a single class? (This matches well with the jargon: cattle-class…). This configuration gives us 325 kg/seat… this is again almost identical to the 329 kg/seat given for the Audi Q7 in “high density” configuration, obtained with the optional 3rd row of seats, which only adds 35 kg to the weight of the car. Aren’t these remarkable coincidences? Is it a constant of the universe? 🙂     

Let’s compare these results with buses, city buses and minibuses:     

Buses empty weight (kg) per passenger.


When we compare the figures of touring and city buses in an all-seated configuration we get again similar figures than planes and cars (~290 kg/seat ~ A320 family). If we take a fully loaded city bus we descend to the crude reality of mass transportation and complete lack of comfort (100 kg/seat; that is cattle-class…). We may notice as well that a minibus weighs less than a Q7 and carries twice or three times as many people.     

Let’s now see the train and subway. For this purpose, we’ll check the coaches R-142A and B of the subway of New York which are built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (which a supplier for the Boeing787 as well). The train we’ll use is the AVE Series 100 of RENFE, built by Alstom, which was the first high-speed train ever used in Spain in 1992. See them in the following table:       

Subway and high-speed train weight (kg) per passenger.


The subway is below the levels of aircraft, but not that low as city buses. As far as the train is concerned: that’s another story, a luxurious experience (achieved with ~1,200 kg/seat) that can only be improved by Singapore Airlines Suites.     

Below we can see again a graphic with all modes of transportation compared, there we may spot some trends.     

Modes of transportation weight (kg) per passenger/seat.


We could say that comfort starts above 300 kg/seat… How heavy is your car?     

Different modes of transportation.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Afilador del siglo XXI

Hace unas semanas Bruno publicó un tweet con un enlace a un post sobre profesiones desaparecidas. Cuando vi el post, lo primero que pensé fue “a mi casa de Torrelodones sigue yendo el afilador”. 

Pues bien, este puente lo he pasado allí, y esta mañana me ha despertado dicho afilador. Con la misma musiquilla de siempre, una y otra vez… vas notando como se acerca y como se aleja. En la primera pasada no me ha dado tiempo a verlo, en la segunda, sí. Pero hete aquí mi sorpresa: ¡ya no va en bici! Ahora va en su vehículo comercial, con un cartel anunciando que es el afilador, la musiquilla será un grabación, resguardado del frío y la lluvia, puede que escuchando la radio… 

Afilador del siglo XXI


Filed under Miscellanea

Paper birds in NY

I guess all of us have many vivid images from the terrorist attacks on 9-11 in New York and of the days after. I guess some of them are of the hundreds of candles and pictures of the missing ones. Images such as the ones below:      

Images from Ground Zero.


That fence in the picture is at Saint Paul’s Chapel, just across from where the World Trade Center once stood. That chapel was as well the place where many of the people working in the site in those days found relief.     

Last December, Luca and I went to New York, and this chapel was among the places we wanted to visit. It was a very moving experience. Let me focus on one thing I found inside. In the following picture you see strings of colourful folded paper birds inside the chapel…     

Paper birds in Saint Paul's Chapel.


I didn’t know I would find this, so it immediately rang a bell, as it was something I had learnt not so long before.     

Japanese call to the tradition of folding papers origami. There, the most famous design is that of the Japanese crane, a long-necked bird.     

The first time I saw such paper birds was in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park, in the summer of 2008.    

Hiroshima Peace Memorial park paper cranes.


Let me paste here the explanation given by Wikipedia on the legend of these paper crane birds:    

Legend says that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes will have their heart’s desire come true. The origami crane has become a symbol of peace because of this legend, and because of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was exposed to the radiation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as an infant, and it took its inevitable toll on her health. She was then a hibakusha — an atom bomb survivor. By the time she was twelve in 1955, she was dying of leukemia. Hearing the legend, she decided to fold one thousand origami cranes so that she could live. However, when she saw that the other children in her ward were dying, she realized that she would not survive and wished instead for world peace and an end to suffering.     

A popular version of the tale is that Sadako folded 644 cranes before she died; her classmates then continued folding cranes in honor of their friend. She was buried with a wreath of 1,000 cranes to honor her dream. While her effort could not extend her life, it moved her friends to make a granite statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park: a young girl standing with her hand outstretched, a paper crane flying from her fingertips. Every year the statue is adorned with thousands of wreaths of a thousand origami cranes.     

The tale of Sadako has been dramatized in many books and movies. In one version, Sadako wrote a haiku that translates into English as:     

I shall write peace upon your wings, and you shall fly around the world so that children will no longer have to die this way.  

This is how the cranes flew from Hiroshima to New York; unfortunately peace hasn’t reached that far.

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Filed under Travelling

FC Barcelona copying Real Madrid

The Sports Business Group from Deloitte recently published its 2009 Football Money League report. It is a quite interesting report for football fans.  

The first remarkable table is that showing Real Madrid and Barcelona well ahead other European clubs. 

2009 Money League ranking.


I was reading parts of it and I was wondering… what is the difference between Real Madrid’s and Barcelona’s model? 

In the graphics below you may see the revenue sources for both clubs. The differences are minimal in two chapters: Matchday (6M€, 6% higher for Real) and Broadcasting (2.5M€, 1.5% higher for Real). The main difference comes from Commercial revenues: with Real Madrid earning 139.2M€, 27.2M€ more than Barcelona. The main driver for this difference are revenues generated by shirt sponsorship, which according to the report are worth 15-20M€ for Real while Barcelona is not charging Unicef for this concept. 

Real Madrid & FC Barcelona revenue sources.


In this other graphic you may compare the skyrocketing revenue growth for both clubs. Real Madrid’s positive trend starting in 2000, when Florentino was elected President and Barcelona’s starting in 2003, when Laporta was elected President. 

Real Madrid & FC Barcelona revenue growth.


David Allen and Raúl Eguía, from the Instituto de Empresa, published a very interesting study: “FC Barcelona: Changing the rules of the game” in October 2004. 

That report reviews the months before and after Laporta’s election as president, his campaign as candidate, his relations with different groups, his plans for Barcelona and the first year as president of the club. 

We can read some excerpts from interviews with members of his board of directors. For example, the Vice-chairman of the Social Area, Alfons Godall is quoted saying: “We had all the financial information about the club from 1996. This enabled us to put together a very specific analysis which led us to the conclusion that sports and economic management were closely related. It is very important to have a clear policy for salaries and signings, as well as for bringing in players from the youth teams. In short, to run a club like Barça you have to have a model and we had been working on such a model.” 

This sounds very familiar to the “Zidanes y Pavones” slogan from Florentino. 

We have often heard words from Barça’s president such as “chollo”, “pelotazo”, etc… describing the model of Florentino Pérez in Real Madrid. Let’s review the corner stone of Laporta’s first project in Barcelona: “At the beginning of December 2003, FC Barcelona reached an agreement with La Caixa, a bank which was to front a syndicated credit for €151 million48 together with other entities such as Banco Sabadell, Caixa Catalonia, Banco Popular, Banesto, Caja Mediterráneo (CAM), Cajamar and Deutsche Bank. The transaction, which was spread over seven years, would make it possible for the current sports project to go ahead and for the sports centre in the Barcelona town of Sant Joan Despí to be completed.” 

Leaving aside the demagogy of Laporta, can anyone tell me difference in the model of either club? See the famous “virtuous circle” of Barcelona… 

FC Barcelona's "circulo virtuoso".


The answer “the difference is point number 2: Great sports results” is too easy…


Filed under Books, Sports

Einstein’s: The World as I see it

Yesterday I finished reading Einstein’s book “The World as I see it” (in Spanish “Mi vision del Mundo” -205 pgs.-, Ed. Tusquets, from the original “Mein Weltbild”).       

I firstly came across this book many years ago in Casa del Libro, when searching for his books on special and general relativity. Then I wasn’t very interested in this book, I looked for science. Later on, I grew curiosity for it driven mainly by the desire to know what was his explanation of his connection with the Manhattan Project, his defence of Zionism, how he based his religious believes…     

  • He explains his resolution for writing the letter to F. D. Roosevelt telling the necessity of conducting experiments to study the possibility of building the A-bomb. The only reason: the danger of the Germans working toward the same. He says he was completely conscious of the horrendous outcome for human kind but found no other way out despite his solid pacifism.

Einstein's letter to F.D. Roosevelt. Hiroshima Peace Memorial.


  •  In the book, there are several other letters and speeches in favour of pacifism, the creation of supranational organizations to which nations shall transfer sovereignty, the disarming of the nations, shows criticism against the creation of mandatory military service for the youth (he continuously called for insubordination) …
  • He explains in his book that he understands Judaism more as a tradition centred in moral issues concerning practical matters than a religion based on faith. He defends the creation of a nation for the Jews because of the hostility found in other countries, admits the nationalistic approach of that creation and says that if the situation was different he would be the first one in rejecting all forms of nationalism calling for a universal human community. He joined Zionism as a consequence of the anti-Semitism he found in Germany. The majority of his letters on this issue come from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Einstein died in 1955, before the Suez-Sinai and the Six-Day wars. 
  • Religion: he rejects the concept of a God that rewards and punishes every action of humans. He uses the term Cosmic Religiosity and writes:

“I am of the opinion that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from a deep religious feeling, and that without such feeling they would not be fruitful. I also believe that, this kind of religiousness, which makes itself felt today in scientific investigations, is the only creative religious activity of our time.”      

I definitely recommend the book; though I warn the reader that it is not an easy read, it is quite dense, there isn’t a spare word…


Filed under Books