Monthly Archives: December 2010

Nuestra Señora de Loreto

Alguna vez le he dicho a Luca o a algún amigo a modo ilustrativo “con unas alas suficientemente grandes y un motor suficientemente potente se podría hacer volar a tu casa, otra cosa es que fuese eficiente”.

El 10 de diciembre tuvo lugar la conmemoración de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, la patrona de la aviación. Hace unos años encontré algo de información sobre ella y el origen de este patronazgo, que rescato en este post para vuestro deleite, en español e inglés (distintas fuentes), ya que no tiene desperdicio.

Como podéis ver, ya en el siglo XIII unos ángeles probaron mi teoría del primer párrafo con la casa que la Sagrada Familia tenía en Nazaret.

“[…] una antigua tradición que arranca del siglo XIII, según la cual la casa de Nazaret que vio nacer y crecer a la Virgen, y en la que vivió la Sagrada Familia, fue trasladada por los ángeles, primero a Dalmacia (Croacia) y después a Loreto (Italia), en tiempos del Papa Celestino V.”

Siglos más tarde vinieron los motores, los hermanos Wright, los ingenieros, la aviación comercial… la mejora de la eficiencia.

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Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Special assistance vs. free ride

This morning, at Cairo airport I found something I hadn’t seen since 2007 when I went to Moscow sometimes: passion for wheelchairs.

During the last week in Egypt, Luca and I have seen just 2 wheelchairs (in fact, she saw 2, I can only recall having seen one at Giza).

How many thousands of people we may have seen during this week? 1,000, 2,000, 10,000? No idea. But having been all day in the streets, museums, temples, etc., where there were crowds, I guess they were many. Let me use 2-3 thousands for simplification.

I know, this may be not a statistically relevant sample, but let me say there is a user of wheelchair per 1,000 inhabitants (there may be published stats on this out there; I didn’t check).

As you know, airline companies offer special assistance to get on board their aircraft. Yesterday, we found at the boarding gate 10 wheelchairs. We flew aboard a B777-200 with no more than 50-60% seats occupied, about 200-250 passengers. That is, 4-5% of passengers required special assistance in the form of a wheelchair.

As, I said, these are not statistically relevant samples, but these numbers bring to me some (provocative) thoughts:

  • At the airport we found 50 times more wheelchairs than in the outside world! That is what I call passion for them.
  • What is it so attractive in wheelchairs at airports? It’s a free ride (some body actually pushes it!), you get to avoid long queues and board first
  • Why don’t they all use wheelchair outside the airport? Nobody pushes it! The fact that streets and facilities are not adequately prepared might be a deterrent as well (just for people who can walk despite some difficulty).
  • It could happen that those flying are not the ones we found in touristic places and streets in Egypt… however, the factor of 50 is strikingly high to be explained only because of that, plus it would be strange for them to venture taking international flights and not wandering through the city.

Having said that, I’m totally in favour that this special assistance is provided because there will always be people who do need it. I wrote this post just out of surprise of seeing a queue of 10 wheelchairs, something I hadn’t seen in 3 years.

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Filed under Travelling

Home

By now, most of you are aware that I moved recently to Toulouse. Some of you may have read about the process of finding my new flat.

I live in the Rue du Cimetière Saint-Cyprien, close to the city centre. Going back and for to work takes about 20 minutes, there is traffic as they say here, but nothing compared to larger cities.

My street.

The flat is what they call a T3; this is a living room plus 2 bedrooms. The kitchen is way larger than my cooking skills will ever ask for. It has an open-air private parking lot…

… but really, what makes me call it home is this view:

Sweet home.

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Filed under Travelling

On top of my gift list

The other question I liked about this week’s Plinky email was:

“What’s at the top of your gift wish list right now?”

Normally I would almost always say “a trip, a holiday trip”. Since I have just moved to France, I came here 3 times in the last 3 weeks; I have been in Poland, Barcelona and The Netherlands in the last month as well… what do you think I would ask for?

Yes, yet another holiday trip: to refresh my mind, get a good pack of unforgettable moments, discover new places, etc… and the nice thing about this is: that I will get it! Right now a friend, my partner and I will go to Egypt for a week…

“À bientôt, Toulouse!”

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What charities do you support?

I got an email today from a source-of-ideas-for-blogs service called Plinky. Today’s email was a summary of the ideas for the last week. I liked 2 of those ideas; I’ll answer them, one per post.

“What charities do you support, and why?”

The first thought I had is “two: Kiva and Doctors without Borders (MSF)”. Then I developed the thought further: “Why?” The explanation that was going to follow is already written into another post, but thinking again about it made me realize that I only support one charity: MSF, as Kiva is not strictly speaking a charity.

Kiva gives a financial service, loans, to entrepreneurs that wouldn’t get them from commercial banks. The same situation happens with us: how many banks would not grant us a loan to start a company in Spain at the moment? If we found an investor, we would deem his action as an investment, a sound investment, not a charity act.

The charity act when lending money through Kiva is in fact the little donation you may choose to give to Kiva itself (to cover their operating costs) and the giving away the opportunity of earning some interest on that money… not much:

  • At the moment I put in Kiva ~250$ a year,
  • The interest I could get out of this would be ~4$ a year (if well invested may be 20$),
  • The 250$ may pay for about 12 loans of 25$ (assuming some of them will be repaid within that year and the money is re-loaned) and I generally give a 5% donation to Kiva on each loan… that is another 15$…

So out of these two concepts I give only 20$ to charities!

(Luckily I give some more to MSF… why? You can guess it)

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Filed under Helping others