Monthly Archives: December 2015

Summary of (my) 2015

Brief recap of my 2015. (1)

In the last year recap I mentioned about the coming 2015 that it would be “a year full of personal and professional changes, with plenty of learning opportunities, kilometres to run, marathons to enjoy, airplanes to fly and flights to catch, museums to see, books to read, trips to make and parties to enjoy“. Let’s see:



The main events of the year:

  • We are expecting a second child! (a boy)
  • I switched jobs (always within Airbus).
  • I passed both theoretical and practical exams and am now a private pilot!

Having said that: the personal objectives for 2015 are fully accomplished. Now, let’s review the year in more detail.

Avgeek. Believe it or not, this year I visited as many zoos than aerospace museums. But this is only because Andrea is as keen on seeing animals as on seeing airplanes. We visited the museum Espace air passion in Angers, the exhibition Pasion por Volar at ABC museum in Madrid, we visited Ailes Anciennes in Toulouse. Together with my engineering school colleague Serna and thanks to the kindness of several work colleagues we visited several of Airbus facilities in Toulouse (including simulators, telemetry room, iron birds, A380 FAL, etc).

. As mentioned above, this 2015 has been the year in which I passed both theoretical and practical exams and finally became a private pilot! I managed to complete some 16 flights totalling over 19 flight hours33 take-offs and landings and including 5 solo flights (see here an account with my path to the PPL) and 2 flights already as captain (alone and with the family).

If I recall it well, this year only my former colleague Ruth had her baptism regarding flying with me at the controls. I am sure that in 2016 that will be the case with many more friends.

On top of that we made an unforgettable excursion with my friend Rapha and other colleagues from the Aviation Society to visit the Castles of the Loire Valley. We were about to make another one to Menorca island, but the weather forced us to cancel that one at the very last minute.

2015 Flight Hours.

2015 Flight Hours.

Reading. This year again I didn’t set any objectives in terms of number of books, but I only prepared a shelf with a selection of about 20 books that I wanted to prioritize. I started well the first month and finished the year at a decent pace  of 2 books per month, but reading “The spirit of Saint Louis” by Charles Lindbergh took me ages. In the end, together with that, I read 11 books: “Profiles in Courage” (by J.K. Kennedy), “El arte de ser padres” (by F. Dodson), “El general en su laberinto” (by G. Garcia-Marquez), “Diary” (by Anne Frank), “Pensar con Arte” (by M. Conthe), “España 3.0: Necesitamos resetear el pais” (in Spanish), “Lee” (by D. Southall Freeman), “Common stocks and uncommon profits and Other Writings” (by P. A. Fisher), “The gospel of wealth and other timely essays“ (by Andrew Carnegie), “Vol de nuit“ (by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). See a post I wrote about my 2015 reading list.

Learning. This year, I have not taken any online open MOOCs but plenty (10+) of Airbus internal online trainings and some class ones (People make the difference (↑), Finance for non financiers (↓, too basic)).

Since switching jobs in July I started using French continuously at work (which wasn’t the case before even if working in France!). In 2016, what I will take on (again) is Dutch, this time joining a small group of students to get formal training!

Family 2.0. Despite of the family life and different changes, I managed to write just about 70 posts, though a bit less regularly. The blog received just over 45,000 visits in 2015 (less than in 2014 though) and is very close to reaching the 250,000 since I started it in 2010.

On top of that, Luca created a new professional website to offer her services as a lawyer in France (take a look here). Andrea hasn’t yet started her own blog.

DSC_0124Travelling. This year we visited Sevilla and Madrid (to take part in both marathons), the Loire Valley, stayed with friends for a week in Mallorca, made an escapade to San Sebastian and Biarritz to meet our friends from Brazil, made a 2-week tour around Spain (covering Madrid, Ubeda, Baeza, Sevilla, Huelva, Merida, Madrid, Valencia, Gandia, Murcia, Barcelona… driving some 4,500 kilometres in those two weeks). We visited the Netherlands (three times, about a week each time). Made some more escapades to Andorra, Montauban, Montpellier, Nimes, Arles, La Camargue, Millau…

Again, those were the leisure trips; on top of that, the job made me go to Madrid another 10-12 times (?), that made it tiresome and difficult to combine with other things but gave my plenty of opportunities to see my family, friends and to run in the Retiro park… however, that changed since I switched jobs in July 🙂

Sports Running. Again, this year, apart from a day in which I went skiing and some more of swimming, what I did was basically plenty of running.

DSC_0177In 2015 I have run over 2,000 kilometres, which was a goal I set to myself at the beginning of the year (setting a new yearly record surpassing the 2019km achieved in 2013). I competed in some 11 races (versus 9 in 2014) including: 3 marathons (Madrid (my 3rd participation in it), Toulouse (my second) and Sevilla (where I had the bitter experience of quitting for the first time)), another 100km-long ultramarathon (Millau again, this time with Jaime), a half marathon (Blagnac, where I set my new personal best time in the distance!), a trail (Ronde des Foies Gras, with a new personal best time) and some three 10k and the Course the Noel in Toulouse over 8.5 km.

Following a mantra I keep to letter “the running shoes, always in the suitcase”, the year 2015 caught me running in: Wijchen (10 times), Sevilla (4), Mallorca (6), Madrid (5), Gandia (3), Torrelodones (6), Andorra (1), Millau, Mauvezin plus the tens of times I trained in Toulouse and Blagnac.

2015 running monthly "mileage".

2015 running monthly “mileage”.

Other reasons for joy in 2015 have been:

  • My family: My sister completed her internship at  the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence (in Vilnius, Lithuania), then moved back to Madrid and she completed her thesis for the master she did in Odense (Denmark). We had the pleasure to have my mother again for a couple of weeks during summertime, when she found the time among the many clients of her massaging operation (here). My brother switched jobs and is back in Seville enjoying the high pace job at the last stages of A400M deliveries (we both visited him and had him visiting us in September). My father, enjoying is condition as retired, is ever more engaged with luncheons, conferences, reading, re-learning about electrical motors and construction activities at home.
  • Some more friends got married: Loreto and Jose.
  • And we welcome some newborns from family and friends: Martin (in fact, his was a last-minute arrival in 2014), Tim, Felice, Vera, Amelie, Victoria, Elena…

Now it’s time to rest, celebrate and soon to plan how we want the 2016 to turn out. It will include the welcoming of the baby (“two is more than the double of one” they say), an early trip to Brazil, lots of flying and running, Dutch lessons, some books to read, museums to see, trips to enjoy… For now, I will close 2015 celebrating my sister’s birthday, running the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid with several friends and enjoying a last dinner with the family.

I wish you the best for 2016, enjoy it!

Flight 2015.11

(1) You can see my 20102011, 2012 , 2013 and 2014 recaps.


Filed under Personal development & HR

My 2015 reading list

In this post I wanted to share the list of books I read along the year (1) with a small comment for each one (2), links to Wikipedia articles about the book (if available) and to the authors (in case you want to read about them). I have also included a small rating from one to three “+” depending on how much do I recommend its reading:

  1. DSC_0342Profiles in Courage (by John F. Kennedy) (++): written by then senator Kennedy when he was convalescent from a back surgery in the 1950s, this book analyzes the context, figures and controvert decisions made by 8 different US senators mainly from the XIX century (from John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster… to Robert A. Taft), decisions that were not popular at the time in their constituencies but the politicians understood were needed to be taken and demanded courage to do so. For this book Kennedy obtained a Pulitzer prize in 1957. From the analysis, Kennedy extracts some lessons in the last chapter that are well encapsulated in the following dilemma: “[…] the loyalties of every Senator are distributed among his party, his state and section, his country and his conscience. On party issues his party loyalties are normally controlling. In regional disputes, his regional responsibilities will likely guide his course. It is on national issues, on matters of conscience which challenge party and regional loyalties, that the test of courage is presented.” 
  2. “El arte de ser padres” (by Fitzhugh Dodson) (++): a loan from my parents to help us in the quest of upbringing our daughter, the book, written in the late 1970s, did help in removing weight from some situations when the child was at the turn of being 2 years old. Among other things, it teaches you to get more relaxed, laid-back, not to enter into conflict trying to impose things, etc. It was also interesting to see how society and some social conventions have changed from the 1970s to today (e.g. drinking and smoking during pregnancy).
  3. TheSpiritOfStLouisThe Spirit of Saint Louis (by Charles A. Lindbergh) (++): this autobiographic book describes one of the great adventures of the XX century, the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic ocean in May 1927. For this book Lindbergh received a Pulitzer prize in 1954. The beginning of the book covers the days of Lindbergh working for the postal service of Robertson Aircraft Corporation and how he gets engaged into the race of who would be the first pilot(s) to cross the ocean. He later describes the conception, development and testing of the Ryan aircraft he flew for the feat. He finally gives a detailed account of the 33h30′ flight; hour by hour, alone, squeezed in his seat, with scarce food and water supplies, cold, flying day (within the clouds at times) and night, thrilling and semi-unconscious (asleep) at times, until he lands in Le Bourget. I wrote a post review the book, find it here.
  4. El General en su Laberinto (by Gabriel García Márquez) (+): this book is a novel trying to figure out how the last days of the Venezuelan revolutionary Simon Bolivar were. The characters, trips, locations, etc., are real. The dialogues, thoughts, feelings, are the work of Garcia Marquez. As always with Garcia Marquez, there are very vivid dialogues and reflections in the book by way of its characters, however this wasn’t the book I liked the most from him. On the hand, to get a better feeling and description of the last days of a person I very much preferred for the uneasiness it puts you as a reader The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy.
  5. Pensar con Arte (by Manuel Conthe) (++): this book shows how our minds work in their way of thinking with their biases and the situations that may arise. The concepts covered are similar to other books that I have read in the past (Thinking Fast and Slow, Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger or Poor Charlie’s Almanack), the originality here comes from the parallels and connections that the author brings and offers with the arts (literature, paint, cinema, music…), showing examples from different art craft.
  6. España 3.0: Necesitamos resetear el pais (by Javier Santiso) (+++): this book is call for action, for change, for resetting Spain into a country which bases its economy and growth on innovation, education and technology. It starts by offering a rather harsh and in my opinion good diagnostic of many of the ailments of the country. Then shows how several things do work in the country and how in previous occasions the country has raised up to similar challenges and it can and has to do so again. The sooner the better.
  7. The Diary of a young Girl (by Anne Frank) (++): the diary of a 13-year-old girl when she starts writing it and 15-year-old when it finishes, Anne Frank describes how she, her family and some others live day by day in hiding from the Nazis. Throughout the book there are many comments, appreciations, worries, misunderstandings, etc., very typical of that age. Despite of that, at some points of the book Anne provides a great example of resilience, attitude and hope: e.g. at times she reflects that all in all she cannot complain, she doesn’t lose time and imposes onto herself a rigorous studying and reading time schedules, etc. In that extent, her attitude and the diary reminded me of another book I have often seen recommended that I must read, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, a jew imprisoned at a concentration camp.
  8. LeeLee (by Douglas Southall Freeman abridged version by Richard Harwell) (++): this is the biography of Rober E. Lee the general of the Army of Northern Virginia on the Confederate side during the US civil war. The book covers from the origins of the family, the birth and early education of Lee, his days at West Point where he specialized as an US army engineer, and how as the different states start seceding and viewing that his allegiance shall remain to Virginia he resigns from the US army. The book then describes the different battles, the style of Lee during the war and the surrender at Appomattox. Then it covers his final years as president of the Washington college in Lexington. For the extended version of this biography, Douglas Southall Freeman received a Pulitzer prize in 1935.
  9. commonstocksCommon stocks and uncommon profits and Other Writings (by Philip A. Fisher) (++): a classic book about investing strongly recommended by many, among others Warren Buffett. The first edition was written in 1950s, the edition I read dates from the 1970s and includes some reflections of what he wrote in the first one. The main contribution of the book is what the author calls the scuttlebutt (rumor, gossip) technique, that is the thorough research ground work an
    investor must make before investing in any stock by way of talking to sales men of competitor companies, customers, experts on the field, academics, management of the company, etc., and which he summarizes in 15 points. A quick takeaway from the book is that, if you lack the time to thoroughly proceed with the scuttlebutt, it might be better to leave for others, who have, the task of picking your stocks. The Other Writings included in the book relate to what is and how it was developed his investment philosophy and on whether the markets are efficient.
  10. The gospel of wealth and other timely essays (by Andrew Carnegie) (++): In the main essay of the book (The Gospel of Wealth), Carnegie, discusses the moral obligation of the wealthy to redistribute their wealth in life back to the society. He positions himself against charity and offers several options that would have a great impact in lifting those among the poor willing to work in their own progress: funding of educational institutions, hospitals, libraries, parks, monuments, etc. Other essays relate to whether the United States (the Republic) should or not follow the path of Britain in having colonies and dependencies (in relation to the Philippines), a speech explaining the arrangements of the American constitution, critiques on proposals for free trade agreements between Britain and its colonies, etc. A good review of business and politics at the end of the XIX century.
  11. Vol de nuit (“Night Flight”, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry) (++):  in Saint-Exupéry’s second novel he describes the operations of an air mail business based in Buenos Aires and with aircraft incoming from different locations in South America. The book describes the difficulties of night flight at the time and of developing this new type of service. One particular flight under cyclonic conditions will put into question the whole operation and the different characters, the pilot, her wife, the line operations’ chief, radio operators, etc.

(1) You can find here: my 2012 reading list, 2013 (embedded in my summary of 2013) and 2014 ones.

(2) In this 2015 I have not written many dedicated posts about the books I have read (just one about the The Spirit of St. Louis), but I do not discard making a review of some of them in the future.


Filed under Books

Análisis comparado sobre el acierto de mi pronóstico de las elecciones generales 2015

Ayer se celebraron las elecciones generales al congreso de España. Los resultados, conocidos por todos, ya con el escrutinio acabado han sido los siguientes:

Resultados elecciones generales 2015.

Resultados elecciones generales 2015.

La madrugada del viernes al sábado publiqué un post con el pronóstico que yo hacía para estas elecciones. Muestro aquí de nuevo el resumen con la distribución de escaños en el arco parlamentario.


Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

En este post quería simplemente examinar la bondad de dicho pronóstico. Para ello, en primer lugar quería compararlo con otros pronósticos que se han hecho en estas fechas. En la tabla de debajo, muestro una compilación de pronósticos con el resultado final a la izquierda. El código de color lo añado para ver donde aciertan y fallan cada uno de los pronósticos. Si el resultado cae dentro del margen que se indica lo doy por bueno (verde, independientemente de cómo de grande es el margen), si el resultado se desvía del margen por un solo escaño lo marco en amarillo, si se desvía por dos o más escaños lo dejo en rojo (como muy “desviado”) (1).

Comparativa de encuestas electorales vs resultados.

Comparativa de encuestas electorales vs resultados.

En la tabla se puede ver que de los 4 grandes partidos en 3 de ellos el resultado se encuentra del pronóstico que hice y con Podemos me desvié en 1 escaño. Todos los otros pronósticos tienen al menos a dos partidos (si no los cuatro) completamente fuera de los márgenes. Con quien más se han columpiado todos es con Ciudadanos, a quienes prácticamente todos daban resultados muy por encima de los obtenidos. Igualmente a Podemos prácticamente le daban todos menos de 64 escaños (excepto GESOP, que se pasó por encima en más de 10). A PP varios le daban bastante por debajo de 120 escaños. Es el PSOE el que mejor predijeron en general, aunque dos encuestas le daban un hundimiento bastante más pronunciado.

Por otro, sobre esta comparación quería indicar que la famosa cocina del CIS tampoco es tan tendenciosa como a veces se quiere hacer ver (2). Al partido del gobierno le ha dado justo en el centro. Al PSOE lo tiene prácticamente en el margen. Y es a Ciudadanos y Podemos donde los tiene cruzados, como las otras encuestas excepto GESOP.

Por último, tengo la impresión de que en las cocinas al voto indeciso lo tienden a ver como más de cambio de lo que realmente es (3).

Una vez comparadas las encuestas y visto que mi pronóstico efectivamente fue mucho más certero, quería ver cómo de certero fue en términos absolutos. Para ello he recopilado los resultados provincia por provincia para poder comparar la desviación o no que tiene el pronóstico para cada partido. Ello se ve en las siguientes 3 tablas: pronóstico, resultados y corrección.

Pronóstico detallado.

Pronóstico detallado.

Resultados detallados por provincia.

Resultados detallados por provincia.


Corrección del prónostico con resultados por provincia y partido.


En la corrección he usado el mismo código de colores: verde cuando el resultado estaba dentro de lo pronosticado, amarillo si me equivoqué en 1 escaño para ese partido (introduciendo un naranja cuando ese error supone pasar de estar representado a no estarlo o viceversa) y rojo cuando me equivoco en 2 o más escaños.

En total, en la tabla hay unas 280 predicciones a hacer: 223 correctas (si bien prácticamente 50 son darle un cero a IU en las provincias donde se presenta, todas), 53 errores de un escaño (19 de los cuales suponen cambio en la representación), 3 errores de 2 o más escaños.

Debajo incluyo un par de gráficas donde se puede ver de un vistazo lo descrito arriba. Por partido y provincia acierto en un 80%. Por provincia, prácticamente el 50% están predichas correctamente para todos los partidos.

Analisis por partido y provincia.

Análisis por partido y provincia.

Análisis por provincia.

Análisis por provincia.

Finalmente, en el post donde incluí el pronóstico indicaba que las dos castillas parecían fáciles de predecir, no así Cataluña, Galicia y País Vasco. Efectivamente, de largo es en Cataluña donde más errores he tenido. Castilla y León ha salido bastante bien. Y en Castilla La Mancha tuve algún error más de los esperado (escaños a Ciudadanos). (4)

(1) El hecho de usar una desviación de 1 o 2 para distinguir entre poco y muy desviado es totalmente arbitrario. De hecho, podría haber cogido como “poco desviado” hasta 5 escaños, y mi pronóstico seguiría siendo igual de mejor que los otros, pero he querido coger 1 porque así es el mismo código de colores que uso en este mismo artículo un poco después para ver el acierto provincia a provincia y partido a partido. Y ahí, sí, no se puede suponer que desviarse por más de 1 escaño es “poca” desviación.

(2) No en vano, la última encuesta del CIS se realiza sobre 17.000 muestras, esto es un orden de magnitud de las ~800, ~1200, 2800, etc., que usan las otras.

(3) En mi opinión mejor harían en pensar en ese voto como una regresión a la media de lo ya visto en elecciones anteriores.

(4) En la tabla se puede ver que en la Comunidad Valenciana he coloreado todas las casillas en verde a pesar de haber números en Podemos y Compromís. Esto es debido a que en el momento de hacer el pronóstico no era consciente de que de hecho iban juntos. Y le di a cada uno la representación que creía que iban a tener. La suma de ambas representaciones pronosticadas es igual al resultado del conjunto. Esto ha sido posible en parte gracias a que Valencia es una circunscripción grande y el error en no agruparlas no ha hecho que mi pronóstico perdiese escaños de Podemos.

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Filed under Miscellanea

To my old GPS watch

photo (5)A few days ago I picked my new running watch which incorporates a GPS (1). The previous one, a Garmin 405 Forerunner was a present from Jaime and Luca back in the Christmas period of 2010 to 2011.

At that time, I had then just moved to Toulouse and they thought that it would be a good gift to incentivize the expressed wish to take on running again. And how it worked! With the new watch I started to measure some running tracks, track my heart beats, beat my personal records, record every run, run plenty of races, race and train with friends…

In just half a year I lost about 20 kilos and completed about 900km. Never before I had run so often so constantly. It helped me to run firstly slower focusing on the heart and then faster focusing on the pace. It helped to introduce tempo and series sessions in the training.


In these 5 years, wearing the watch almost at every run (2), pacing myself with it, making numbers in my head about rhythms, times, kilometres, etc., I have completed over 9,000 km, more than 50 races, including 10 marathons and 2 ultras.


Since the last summer it started to work faulty. Sometimes it switched itself off, it re-started by itself, it didn’t recharge the battery well… The last time it recorded well a complete activity was on October 29th, when we ran together 7km, just 4 days after having completed the Toulouse marathon. Maybe it needed more time to rest.

Rest in pace.

(1) A Garmin Forerunner 220.

(2) Except for having for some times in which I forgot it or its battery went out.

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Filed under Sports

Mi pronóstico de las elecciones generales de España de 2015

Con la ocasión de las elecciones generales en España el próximo domingo 20 de diciembre, quería aprovechar para hacer un pronóstico de las mismas como ejercicio de aprendizaje (1).

En un principio quería haber producido el pronóstico a partir de utilizar, de chequear algunas encuestas de alguna empresa demoscópica en particular con las elecciones generales de 2011, contrastarlas después con los resultados, y sacar algún tipo de factores de corrección. Y hacer lo mismo con las autonómicas de 2011/2012 y 2015. Pero cuando me puse a ver las encuestas de las generales no se daba el detalle de porcentajes de voto por partido y circunscripción. Por ello tuve que desechar esa metodología.

Finalmente, he ido comparando los resultados de generales de 2011, y las dos últimas autonómicas, y viendo la tendencia me he ayudado de alguna encuesta en algunos casos (2). Aclarar que el ejercicio no se trata de una encuesta (no he ido llamando a nadie), ni de una media de encuestas (3).

Como he dicho antes, cuando una encuesta nos dice “el PP va a conseguir un 26% y entre 110-116 escaños” nos da un resultado que se compone de la suma de muchas provincias, que no nos sirve para ver que va a pasar en nuestra provincia en particular. El CIS sin embargo, ofrece una encuesta con hasta 17 mil encuestados, donde indica su estimación de reparto de escaños por provincias y de porcentajes de voto globales (4). Y esa visión, mucho más completa es la que quería replicar con este ejercicio.

Como recordatorio: en España tenemos 52 circunscripciones (provincias más Ceuta y Melilla) que aportan desde 1 diputado (Ceuta y Melilla) a 36 (Madrid). El total son 350 y la mayoría absoluta se consigue con 176 escaños. Dicho esto, la tabla y la gráfica siguientes resumen todo el trabajo:

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

Como quedaría el arco parlamentario.

Pronóstico detallado.

Pronóstico detallado.

Por otro lado, el censo se compone de algo más de 36,4 millones de electores. De ellos 34,5 son residentes en España. De ellos, he supuesto que la participación es de un 75% (uniforme en todo el país por simplificación; aunque no lo será).

A los casi 2 millones de electores residentes en el extranjero los he despreciado para la estimación de números totales de votos obtenidos por cada partido. No los he despreciado porque lo haga el gobierno con el arduo tramite del voto rogado, sino porque la participación será mucho menor (fue menor del 10% en 2011) y como se reparte en las 52 circunscripciones es muy difícil que decida el signo de un escaño (5).

Con todo ello he supuesto que votan casi 26 millones de personas. Con unos 25.1 millones de votos a partidos (excluyendo blancos y nulos). Con los porcentajes de voto indicados arriba, los votos totales obtenidos por los principales partidos serían:

  • PP: 6,65 millones
  • PSOE: 5,67 millones
  • Podemos (6): 4,53 millones
  • Cs: 3,18 millones
  • IU/UP: 0,9 millones

Una vez compartido el pronóstico, no voy a hacer ningún análisis del mismo, dado que puede estar muy o poco equivocado; mejor esperar a tener los resultados reales.

(1) Ya en 2011, tras las elecciones generales hice el ejercicio de repartir con distintos métodos (proporcional vs D’Hondt, circunscripciones provinciales vs única…) y el ejercicio me resultó útil.

(2) Por ejemplo, en las dos Castillas parece no muy difícil hacer un pronóstico en cuanto reparto de escaños a partir de los últimos resultados y su evolución. Sin embargo, en Cataluña, Galicia o País Vasco no es nada sencillo.

(3) Ver por ejemplo los que hace Kiko Llaneras aquí.

(4) Ver más abajo las tablas del CIS. La fuente aquí.

(5) Sobre esto se ha escrito ya. En otro momento buscaré la referencia y la añadiré aquí.

(6) Incluyendo En Comú, Compromís y En Marea.

CIS_porcentajes CIS_detalle


Filed under Miscellanea

Toulouse marathon (2015)

Last October 25th, I ran the Toulouse marathon. It was the second time I completed this race; the first one being in 2011, then the first marathon I had run since 2001.

This year, like in 2011, I ran the Toulouse marathon after having run the 100 km of Millau one month before. In fact, I only decided to take part in it 2 months before the race. The main driver: within the programme I am working on in Airbus since July (A330neo), the marathon of Toulouse had been taken as a big collective well-being activity. Over 80 people from different teams ran the race; which can be completed in relays (teams of 4 runners where each one runs about 10km) (1) and individually.

At the end of August, running about 50 kilometres per week as training for Millau, even if not doing tempo and series training sessions, I decided that I could fairly run the Toulouse marathon after Millau, if I sustained no major injuries and did not care much about the time. So I subscribed.

The day before the marathon we had a photo session, distribution of A330neo t-shirts especially made for the occasion and the traditional pasta party on the eve of marathons. This one was a somewhat elegant dinner, consisting of buffet with different salad, pasta and desert options, organized at the top floor of the Mediatheque in Toulouse, with live performance of a flamenco group.

The race itself went rather well. In the weeks beforehand, I had been considering the starting pace: whether to go for a 5’20” per km or faster. The first pace leads to a marathon of about 3h45′ (a time around which I had already completed some and was comfortable with). After some testing training sessions I decided to be conservative and go with the 3h45′ pacers as long as I could keep up with them.

… and so I did until the kilometre 35. It was therefore a rather pleasant race. Always keeping myself to the rhythm set by the pacers, enjoying the route along the far North neighbourhoods of Toulouse, the music bands, etc. Entering back to the centre of the city, at about the km 33 I started to feel that the pace took more effort to keep and at the km 35 I decided to let go, and run the last 7 km, through the centre (the boulevards, the Jardin de plants, Alsace – Lorraine…) at a more comfortable pace. I estimated that in those last 7 kilometres I would not lose much more than a couple of minutes, that would not make any difference (it wouldn’t anyway be my best time nor the second in the distance).

Pace followed during the race.

Pace followed during the race.

In the end I completed the marathon in 3h47’13”, my fifth best time, the 4th time I finished in the time bracket between 3h44’30” and 3h47’13”. Thirteenth marathon completed (2).

Finisher diplome.

Finisher diploma.

Find below pictures of myself and of the A330neo team:

EVE-957-03-20151025-AT-MARATHON DE TOULOUSE-158

(1) I took that option of running the marathon in relay in the year 2013 as a preparation towards Athens marathon.

(2) See all the others in the section Races from the blog.


Filed under Sports

Bárcenas, la película.

Hace una semana finalmente pude ver “B, la película”, que es la adaptación al cine de una obra de teatro del mismo nombre sobre el interrogatorio que el juez Pablo Ruz hizo al extesorero y exgerente del Partido Popular Luis Bárcenas el 15 de julio de 2013.

La película, dirigida por David Ilundain y protagonizada por Pedro Casablanc (Bárcenas) y Manolo Soto (Ruz), dura aproximadamente 1 hora y 20 minutos y está basada en hechos reales, la transcripción del propio interrogatorio. En ese interrogatorio Bárcenas se retracta de sus anteriores declaraciones y confiesa que los famosos “papeles de Bárcenas” publicados por El País y El Mundo son verídicos, se corresponden a apuntes contables suyos durante 20 años como tesorero y gerente del partido, reflejan los movimientos de la caja B del partido, la continua financiación ilegal del mismo, el pago ilegal de sobresueldos a los cargos del partido (incluyendo Mariano Rajoy), etc. Corrupción, corrupción, corrupción.

“B, la película” fue financiada a través de crowdfunding, vía con la que consiguieron obtener 56.000 €. Se puede ver en algunos cines, aunque tampoco ha tenido mucho éxito en cuanto a la proyección en salas (imagino el por qué), y a través de internet. Yo la “alquilé” para un visionado durante 48 horas por tan solo 3 euros en Vimeo a través de un enlace de la página web de la película (aquí).

Toda la película se desarrolla en la sala donde el interrogatorio tiene lugar (como si fuese “Doce hombres sin piedad”). No tiene desperdicio la interpretación de Casablanc (Bárcenas): su firmeza en el cambio de versión de la declaración, el lujo de detalles y memoria privilegiada para el recuerdo de algunas cifras, fechas y leyes de financiación de partidos, y el vago recuerdo en otras, su dignidad en el trato y descripción de algunos personajes y repugnancia hacia Maria Dolores de Cospedal. También Soto (Ruz) tiene una interpretación encomiable, en este caso su cara de estupefacción en varios momentos por lo que oye del acusado. Imagino que las caras que pondría el propio Ruz no serían muy diferentes.

Además de recomendar el ver la película, os dejo aquí debajo el tráiler de la misma:

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The Spirit of St. Louis (book review)

TheSpiritOfStLouisCharles A. Lindbergh is without a doubt one of the aviation (1) figures and legends of the XX century, being the first pilot to fly non-stop across the Atlantic ocean in May 1927, managing to win the Orteig Prize. Lindbergh wrote “The Spirit of St. Louis” in 1953, as an autobiography because he was not comfortable with the previous books written about the flight, especially “WE”, as it did not cover with enough exactitude the experience. For this book Lindbergh was awarded the Pulitzer prize on 1954 in the category biography.

I bought this book at the US Air Force museum in Dayton a place that without a doubt stimulates the passion for aviation and I read it in the months while I was completing the last stages of my training as a private pilot, which also contributed to the setting of the stage for the reading.

The beginning of the book covers the days of Lindbergh working for the postal service of the Robertson Aircraft Corporation, the flights along the USA from Saint Louis to Chicago, the incidents due to the weather or the fall of the night, the landings on fields at night with the help of cars’ lights, etc.

As an aviation enthusiast, Lindbergh gets interested in and then engaged into the race of who would be the first pilot(s) to cross the ocean. A crowded race at the time in which many of the great aviation aces were involved, including names like René Fonck or Charles Nungesser (two of the three top French WWI aces (2)).

He later describes the conception, development and testing of the aircraft by the Ryan Aircraft Company in San Diego, the purpose-built airplane he flew for the feat and how they managed to get a Whirlwind engine from the Wright company.

The author finally describes the days in New York before the departure, where up to 3 teams were getting ready to depart and how in the morning of the 20th May, having received positive weather reports from boats in the Atlantic, he takes off. The flight lasted 33h30′ which he describes hour by hour: how he is feeling at each moment, alone, squeezed in his seat, with scarce food and water supplies, cold, flying day (within the clouds at times) and night, thrilling at times and semi-unconscious (sleep), and how his mind is drifting. Until he sees land in Ireland, finds the route to Paris and lands in Le Bourget.

What I liked the most of the book were the description of the flying experiences as a postal service pilot and the development phase of the aircraft. Those are very interesting pages, full of concepts and anecdotes.

It took me months to complete the reading of the book. Why? I was stuck and I advanced very slowly in different parts of the narrative of the 33-hour-long flight. I would say that Lindbergh did that in purpose: writing hour by hour, a few pages per hour, describing what was going on, how his mind got distracted, how he began to remember memories from years back, how he suddenly found once and again that he had lost the bearing and needed to correct it, how he cursed himself for the lack of attention or being on the verge of falling sleep… I felt caught many nights in the same sleepy, somnolent mood. Unable to read more than one or two pages before falling asleep. If that was really the purpose of Lindbergh I cannot know, but, if it was, he was very skillful in conveying the length of those hours and the risk he went through. However, it goes against the readability of the book itself!

Some quick personal reflections I took from the book:

  • Observation. While crossing the ocean, he didn’t have any support information as to the direction or speed of the wind, therefore he descended to see close enough the waves and try to estimate them himself.
  • Bearing. My flying instructor used to say “in the air, the bearing is the life“. When he is flying over the ocean he finds himself sometimes having to correct up to 10 degrees. On top, due to lack of intermediate points of reference and that he is not sure about the speed and direction of the wind, hours before seeing the land in Ireland he finds himself estimating that he may either see the land in Norway or the gulf of Biscay in Spain.
  • Changing position within seat. In order to prevent falling asleep, at some times he goes systematically changing position within the seat: stretching a leg, then the other, grabbing the commands with a hand, then the other. This is something that we can do also while piloting or driving a car (though preferably mixing it with frequent stops!)

As I always do, I marked several pages and underlined different passages that trigger different thoughts. See some of them below:

“I have divided my reserves for the flight in two categories: reserves for success and reserves for failure.”

“[…] I don’t wish my competitors hard luck. Crashed planes and flyers in hospitals impair all of aviation, and destroy the joy of flight.

Landing on one wheel and a wing tip with a highly loaded plane isn’t very dangerous when a pilot is well acquainted with his craft. […] it has been done many times. The newspapers always make it seem a good deal worse than it really is.”

“On our mail route, the pilots expect forced landings. We don’t average a hundred hours between them.”

“Science, freedom, beauty, adventure: what more could you ask of life? Aviation combined all the elements I loved.”

“A pilot has the right to choose his battlefield – that is the strategy of the flight. But once the battlefield is attained, conflict should be welcomed, not avoided. If a pilot fears to test his skills with the elements, he has chosen the wrong profession.”

I wish I could take an aeronautical engineering course. […] I could work hard to understand the magic in the contours of a wing.”

Now pretty soon you fellows are going to think you’re pretty good. It happens to every pilot. Usually starts when he’s had about 25 or 30 hours solo. I just want you to remember this: in aviation, it may be all right to fool the other fellow about how good you are – if you can. But don’t try to fool yourself.” (advice from his instructor in the Army, Master Sergeant Winston)

“No matter how much training you’ve had, your first solo is far different from all other flights. You are completely independent, hopelessly beyond help, entirely responsible, and terribly alone in space.”

“One old Negro woman came up to me with serious face and asked, ‘Boss, how much you all charge fo’ to take me up to Heaven an’ leave me dah?‘ “

The book includes several very interesting appendices about the flights of the aircraft, technical data and maps, prizes collected…

After completing the flight, Lindbergh made some tours around the world until the airplane was finally retired after 174 flights and 489 hours of flying. Today it can be visited at the National Air and Space Museum in DC.

If you like aviation, I do recommend you the reading of the book.

(1) I would say that the size of his fame, legend and iconic figure is not restricted to the aviation world.

(2) The third of the trio, Guynemer, died in the war.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Books

My path to the private pilot licence (PPL)

Provisional attestation and log book.

Provisional attestation and log book.

A week ago, on Friday 27th of November, I finally took and passed the practical exam towards obtaining the private pilot licence (PPL).

I have written several posts along these years of different experiences during the learning process: the start of the flight lessons, the first take off at the controls, about weight and balance calculations, the preparation of a flight to Corsica, the flying experience to Corsica, the first solo flight, about refuelling or not, the flying experience to the Loire Valley, and the grand navigation solo

In this post, I just wanted to share some figures of my educational path that may help readers form an idea if they are interested in pursuing the licence:

  • I arrived to the exam with 62.4 flight hours (FH) (1),
    • thereof 51.92 FH accompanied by an instructor.
    • thereof 10.48 FH flying solo (2), a 17% of the total amount,
      • thereof 6.31 FH flying solo in navigation flights (3).
  • To complete those flying hours I performed 71 flights,
    • thereof 14 flights flying solo, a 20% of the total amount.
  • In those flights I performed 123 landings (4)
    • thereof the first ~17 were performed by the instructor (4).
    • thereof 29 landings flying solo, a 24% of the total amount.

I didn’t fly often, therefore even if it has not taken many hours above the minimum requirement to obtain the licence it has taken a long time. Exactly 1503 days since the first flight, or 4 years, a month and 11 days.

Chronologically some dates to remember and as reference:

  • First flight: October 16, 2011.
  • First take off at the controls: December 17, 2011 (on the 5th flight).
  • First landing at the controls: not sure, about June / July 2012 (16-17th flight and about 14-15 FH).
  • First solo flight: August 30, 2013 (the 33th flight and after having completed almost 30FH).
  • First solo navigation flight (from A to B): May 16, 2014 (the 50th flight and after having completed almost 42 FH, of which almost 3 solo in the aerodrome circuit).
  • First solo navigation  flight (from A to B to A): August 19, 2014 (the 55th flight and after having completed 47 FH, of which 3.5 solo).
  • Grand navigation solo: July 23rd, 2015 (65th flight and after having completed 56 FH, of which almost 8 solo (3.6 in navigation)).
Flying in November 2015.

Flying in November 2015.

(1) Minimum requirement: 45 FH.

(2) Minimum requirement: 10 FH.

(3) Minimum requirement: 5 FH.

(4) Thus, about 106 landings, as I started doing the landings when I had cumulated about 14 FH.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence