Monthly Archives: December 2011

Summary of (my) 2011

Let me share with you a brief recap of my 2011 (as I already did last year).

If I then characterized 2010 as a learning year, I would say 2011 was a year on the run.

At the beginning of the year I set out my objectives for 2011, of which I have achieved 71.4% (just above my 70% target!). One of them was only to “become again a frequent runner”, for which I set up some modest steps, e.g., buy new running shoes, run 3 days before mid-January, run a 10k popular race before November, lose some 10kg by June… If there was a yearly objective which I widely met, it was this one:

Último kilómetro de los 100km de Millau 2011.

Last kilometre at the ultramarathon "100km de Millau".

  • I ran over 170 days along the year, covering over 1,800 kilometres.
  • I took part in 11 popular races, including 6 of 10km, 2 half marathons, 1 marathon (42km) and 1 ultramarathon (100km). More races and more kilometres than ever before.
  • I found myself running in Granada, Villa del Río, Madrid, Torrelodones, Luarca, Rijswijk, Wijchen, Toulouse, Luz Saint Sauveur, Chicago, Washington DC, Des Moines, Montreal…

Learning. After taking some classes in Madrid, I continued studying French and now I feel more confident when facing shop attendants :-). I had to learn and continue to learn lots of new things every day at the new job where I landed about a year ago.

I still enjoy as learning moments the print weekly issues of The Economist or the monthly issues of Scientific American. I delivered the necessary speeches to become ACB within Toastmasters (though lately I’ve missed more meetings than I should). Finally, I read a dozen books along the year (a bit less than in previous years, though some in the new eReader!), being the ones I liked the most the following: first, second and third.

Investing & helping others. I set myself a high objective of saving and investing: I overachieved it by around 50%. I once mentioned it in Twitter: the best thing behind investing is the discipline of saving that is behind it. I not only dedicated a percentage of personal income to savings but as I announced in a post at the beginning of 2010, I directed a percentage to different charities. I initially set it out to be 0.7% of my income, but after raising some funds and contributing others to charities related to the races in which I am taking part, in the end this percentage has been well over 1% in 2011.

Travelling. We together visited Montreal, Ottawa, DC, Chicago, Omaha, and several places in the south of France and throughout Spain. The moment that I liked the most was attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting, no doubt.

Javi 2.0. I continued to often write in this blog with some remarkable posts. I admit that my twitter account is one of my biggest sources of information / distraction.

Sports. Apart from the running, I recently re-started playing paddle with colleagues, became a kind of fan of the rugby local team, Stade Toulousain, had to subscribe to Canal + not to miss any of Real Madrid matches while living abroad.

Other reasons for joy have been:

  • our friends Teresa & Alberto, María & Óscar, Isa & Pedro got married,
  • we welcomed the newborns Mar, Hugo, Luis and Eneko, while another of our friends is pregnant today (that we know),
  • my sister Beatriz started working as an intern; my brother Jaime continued to enjoy his job in Airbus and moved to a new apartment; my mother Fidela continued to take several courses (and to give wonderful massages) and my father Juan Bautista finally and happily retired (after working for 43 years!).
  • Luca completed all the requirements to become a full-fledged lawyer, winning some court cases in the process.

To close the year, I started taking flight lessons, pursuing another childhood dream. This will allow me to continue learning and experiencing new things!

Now it’s time to update the objectives setting for 2012. This year the exercise will be easier as I already have the methodology and the habit. If the objectives are well chosen and challenging enough, next year’s account will be even shinier.

I wish you the same: a shinier 2012, enjoy it!

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First Take-Off

The 17th of December will always be an important day in the history of aviation for the following 2 reasons:

  1. The 17th of December 1903, Orville Wright performed the first flight aboard their Flyer I,
  2. Today, 17th December 2011, I made my first take-off aboard a Robin DR-400-120 :-).

As part of my training towards obtaining the PPL licence, today we performed the 5th flight, the first in which I was fully at the controls during take-off.

My colleague, Miguel, took the following video:

You may see the route we followed from Graulhet (LFCQ) to Toulouse-Lasbordes (LFCL) aboard the Robin DR-42 (F-GORM), as I recorded it with my Garmin GPS:

Flight route: LFCQ - LFCL

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The British Museum

During the last trip to the United Kingdom I visited for the first time The British Museum (free). The museum itself is without any doubt amazing.

However I had conflicting ideas of whether the breadth of pieces mostly coming from other countries should have been better displayed at a museum in the country of origin or there in London.

I found it curious that the museum has a dedicated brochure explaining why the collection of Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon is hosted in London instead of Athens as the Greek Ministry of Culture claims they should be. The British Museum claims that the pieces were taken with permission of the then authority of those territories: the Ottoman Empire. It also gives account of an internal investigation carried by the Parliament. And even points at other 6 museums around the world hosting sculptures from the Parthenon as if trying to divert the attention.

The museum’s brochure concludes that the taking of the pieces was legal and its location in London is good as it believes the museum is a unique resource for the world, but offers the reader to check the counter opinion at the Greek ministry’s site.

I still haven’t made my mind yet: is it the World’s looting museum or most of the pieces are better off being conserved there that they would be in Greece, Egypt, Syria or elsewhere?

To end the discussion I found it comical that in order to introduce Stonehenge to the museum’s visitors a poster of it was deemed enough. In this case it wasn’t necessary to bring one or two stones from the site, as has been the case with pieces from many other places.

Besides that discussion I enjoyed seeing some items missing in previous trips. Find some pictures of some of the museum highlights below:

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The best (and the worst) of the first 200 posts

About a year ago, I wrote in the 100th post which were the most and least read of the first 100 posts. Today is another such occasion as this is the 200th post in the blog.

I started the blog in February 2010. Since then the blog has received over 29,000 visits, hundreds of comments while I have enjoyed thinking about what to write and structuring my thoughts to do so.

If a year ago I wasn’t yet sure which kind of posts were better received, now it is much clearer: those related to aviation.

Find below the list of the top 10 and bottom 10 posts:

1. Will Boeing 787 ever break-even?
2. 787 Break Even for Dummies
3. Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts
4. More on Boeing 787 break even
5. FC Barcelona copying Real Madrid
6. Algunas cifras de la industria cultural
7. Mi adiós a Ibercaja
8. An aircraft worth its weight in gold?
9. Boeing commercial aircraft discounts (update for 2010)
10. Beluga vs. Dreamlifter

190. Speech about Minifutbol
191. “Playas” in Lima
192. International Day of the Book
193. Bill Clinton endorsing Kiva (video)
194. Three centuries of confusion
195. De Feria en Feria
196. From climbing to merely walking
197. Nothing like a good red wine…
198. Opera with subtitles
199. Book review: Pirate Latitudes

I find it curious that only 3 posts of the 10 most read ones a year ago remain in the top 10 list, however 6 out of the 10 least read ones still remain in that list.

Let’s see what I’ll write in the next 100 posts…

NOTE: the box in the right showing “Current Top Posts” shows the most read ones in the last two days, not the all-time most read ones (the ones above).

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Wooden aircraft, cloth wings and pressure

Most of you, the readers of this blog, probably know that an airplane flies due to the difference in pressure between the upper (extrados) and lower (intrados) sides of its wing. This difference in pressure is due to the difference velocity of the airflow around both sides of the wing as you may see in the picture below:

Airflow around an airfoil (image from the Wikipedia, by Kraainnest).

As the speed above the wing is much higher, the difference in the pressure is mainly due to the lower pressure in the extrados. This can be seen in the following picture:

Pressure coefficient around an airfoil (by the Aircraft Aerodynamics and Design Group, Stanford University).

However, how could we see that in a real flight?

In commercial planes, of which wing skin is made of aluminium alloys this is not easily seen.

Two weeks ago, after my flight lesson was finished, I sat at the back of the plane to come back to Toulouse while my colleague had his lesson. It was then that I saw the image I captured in the following picture:

Wing extrados on air.

The aircraft we fly in our training lessons is a small Robin DR 400; a wooden aircraft of which wing skins are made of cloth. Not any cloth, but a type of polyester (PET) commonly used to build sailcloth, produced by Dupont and named Dacron. The surface is then lacquered with a polyurethane paint.

Robin DR 400 140

The air within the wing is at a higher pressure than the air in the extrados, and you can see how it expands and pushes up the cloth skin of the wing as you can see in the picture above.

You may see below the same wing on ground. Though the picture is of a lower quality, you can see that in this case the wing doesn’t look “inflated”.

Wing extrados on ground.

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The Unwritten Laws of Finance & Investment

The Unwritten Laws of Finance and Investment, by Robert Cole.

I believe I have already mentioned at some point in the blog the ritual I have almost every time I get into an airport of going to one of the book shops to check whether I can find something to take with me.

I found “The Unwritten Laws of Finance & Investment”, by Robert Cole, at Frankfurt’s airport some months ago during a scale from Amsterdam to Toulouse.

The book is a collection of investment and finance maxims, advice, quotations, etc. It can be read in one shot (159 light pages).

If you are to read this book probably nothing of what you may find in it will be completely new to you, but the compilation and the witty style in which the “laws” are written make it an entertaining read and serve as repository where to find well established ideas.

Let me finish by quoting some passages from the laws that I enjoyed the most:

  • “I don’t want a lot of good investments; I want a few outstanding ones”, Philip Fisher.
  • It is impossible for investors to get their timing precisely right always. [I will come back to this in the future].
  • “In this business, if you’re good, you’re right six times out of ten. You’re never going to be right nine times out of ten”, Peter Lynch.
  • Before you go in, look for the way out. – This one is beautifully explained with a story from Winnie-the-Pooh. [I will come back to this in the future].
  • “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on scepticism, mature on optimism and die one euphoria”, Sir John Templeton. – This one reminds us to that of Warren Buffett “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful”.
  • “There are huge mathematical advantages to doing nothing”, Warren Buffett (on compounding interest).
  • “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave”, the Book of Proverbs 22:7, The Bible.
  • “The practice of contracting debt will almost infallibly be abused in every government. It would scarcely be more imprudent to give a prodigal son a credit in every banker’s shop in London, than to empower a statesman to draw bills, in this manner, upon posterity”, David Hume.
  • “The four most expensive words in English language are ‘This time is different'”, Sir John Templeton. [I will come to this in the future].
  • “Investment is most intelligent when it is most businesslike”, Warren Buffett.

 

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The origins of football and The Freemasons Arms

As a fan of football (soccer) and having read in the book “366 Historias del Fútbol Mundial“, by Alfredo Relaño (in Spanish, 768 pages – I posted about it here), about the English pub in which the Football Association was founded on the 26th October 1863, I set out to visit that place in my last trip to London.

On that first day the first rules for the game were drafted, such as the ruling out of the use of hands for the field players. That moment marked the departure between football and rugby.

A view of what and how it happened can be seen in the documentary “Fútbol, el nacimiento de una pasión”,  by Jesús Sánchez (2005, in Spanish – an acquaintance of the family), which covers the origins of football from prehistoric games.

The explanation given by the book has an error. It states that the creation of the football association took place at The Freemasons Arms located at Great Queen Street. That pub in fact is not there but in other street: Long Acre street, about 100 metres away.

The Wikipedia provides a plausible explanation: the foundation of the Football Association took place at the Freemasons’ Tavern, but that pub apparently was demolished and to continue its business the Freemasons Arms was built, which is not the same but apparently claims the legacy of the former. The Freemasons’ Tavern would have been indeed located at Great Queen Street where the new Freemasons Hall is located today. If that is the case, the Wikipedia article or the book may have another error since one states the foundation took place in 1863 and the other says that the original pub was demolished in 1860

I went there to check the pub and to enjoy myself worshipping the origins of such a game as football.

I was quite disappointed with what I viewed; as there is only a small shrine in a wall with some pieces remembering the relation of the pub with football. I asked one of the bar tenders and she barely had an idea of what the relation was.

Sadly, a piece of history seems to be lost.

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