Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Spain is Different

So...having now lived in another country (Spain) for 9 months I can officially give birth to some observations...

- No matter how slow I walk, there is an older Spaniard that I will have to pass

- I have not developed the mentality yet to know that the entire sidewalk is mine such as the locals do here.  Since I didn't pass the "walk slow" test, I am now finding that no matter how few a group of Spaniards are on the sidewalk, they can somehow manage to occupy and block me from going forward at my ridiculous American speed.

- In the USA we have 25 different EVERYTHING when you want it.  In Spain, you have one of a great many things that they would deem unimportant.  Those things that are very important, you probably have 4-6 choices.

- The great part about the rain is that it comes so little that when it does, nobody bothers to go to their shops and open them.  And because of that, everybody stays home anyway.  It's a win-win...unless you are out of food at your place.

- I used to have a "rain bike" to ride only when it rains.  Now I don't ride when it rains; don't need to because it'll be sunny again tomorrow.  Now I have a "wind bike".  This is a heavier bike that won't blow me off the bridge in a cross-wind.  That's a good thing...

- I thought I could learn some Spanish by translating Facebook comments, Twitter comments and other social media from here.  Nope...  They don't translate well when they use slang, local dialect and abbreviations.

- It's still amazing to wrap our heads around the fact that nearly everything here is so much less expensive than in the USA.  Dental office doesn't cover your private Spanish insurance?  No problem, just pay's less than your co-pay was in the USA anyway!!!

- Taking the train is more expensive than flying.  They have a lot of dirt cheap plane tickets around Europe.  I'm bummed about this because I love traveling by train.  It's such less hassle and I enjoy watching the countryside and being able to get up and walk around without every other person staring at you...

- All hills here (and they are seriously all over 10% grade going up to 30%) are always steepest right as you reach the top.  It's as if when they constructed it they said, "whoops...we are coming up lower than we expected" and they just increased the gradient!  Fun for biking...let me tell you!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Terrifying Things

You know, it's been awhile since I had a guest blog post.

You know, it's been awhile since I had even a post!  Don't go there...

Yes, it's tough to do blog posting while retired in Spain.  I was going to wait for a rainy day to post but it hasn't rained....since like April.  And I did get a bit sidetracked by visiting Rome, Paris, London and Liverpool this don't blame me on the lack of VE's just very difficult living this life of luxury...

So anyway, I do have a guest blogger...

Ash Stevens is a bi-cultural blond with a B.S. in Sarcasm. When she's not reading up on the latest green trend, she's touring the country to educate people on the importance of feminine armpit hair. Find her on Twitter @AshStevens000

So...without further's her guest post (and this should garner a few "ewww" comments...another thing I haven't had on the blog for awhile...hehehe


The world is full of terrifying things. Abducting aliens, oatmeal raisin cookies, Donald Trump, and ghosts all make us grimace in horror. These things all keep me awake at night, but one thing haunts me at night like nothing else… Parasites. I would happily jump aboard an alien ship or marry Trump before I would become a parasitic host. Read on, and you too will see why...

Dirofilaria immitis (aka Heartworm)
These lovely little parasites are passed to dear Fido and Fluffy by mosquitoes. Doggy dearest gets bit and then, six months later, these itty-bitty parasitic larvae have transformed into adult spaghetti noodles that squirm through the heart and lungs.

And just what does a heart-loving worm look like in action?
I thought you’d never ask!

Spaghetti with heart sauce courtesy of Valley Vet

These guys are certified barf-arific. Do the world a favor and get your dog-loving friends some heartworm medication for Christmas.

These buggers are nothing new, however, blood-suckers are always a worthy honorable mention. It’s great enough that they feed off our blood, but get a load of how they do it!

First, they find themselves a cozy little spot to cling into. Then they cut through our skin so they can insert their handy little feeding tube (even barbed for mobile feeding convenience). Once the blood starts flowing they can hang out there up to fifteen days. And you won’t know it! Thanks to natural selection, these nasty little bugs are nature’s licensed anaesthesiologists, emitting their very own numbing medication for your parasite-hosting pleasure.

If that’s not nasty enough, consider this. They creep around from host to host drinking even more blood, adding to their inner stew of pathogens, happily sharing diseases everywhere they go.

Disturbing enlargement credits to Havahart

Shave your head, your dog, your everything. And if you’re itching to frolic through grassy hills or skip down lush mountains, then throw on a tick collar.

Here’s another fabulous parasitic freeloader we can thank mosquitoes for (may they burn in hell). Botfly grabs mosquito, botfly drops a couple eggs on mosquito, mosquito flies off to find something to eat, eggs fall on fleshy victim and hatch, and botfly larvae chomp through fleshy victim’s skin.

Good news? They’re only flesh-crashing until they’re ready for the next stage of the lifecycle. Bad news? Their handy little tunnel serves as a ventilation system, so they’ll regularly peek out to say hello. No, this does NOT make them easy to get out! They’re fat little creeps, and if they explode inside you, you’ll see the magic that intestinal microbes can work with meaty tunnels.

What lesson can we take from this? Flights to South America are cheap for a reason.

Guinea Worms
Some people lie awake in bed with thoughts of machete-wielding burglars. Then there are people like me who sob prayers into their pillow, with small breaks for dry-heaving, over the haunting thoughts of the guinea worm.

It all starts with a hungry water flea that ends up getting swallowed by some silly mammal. Stomach acid gets to work, and the worms are freed. An incestuous coupling ensues, and then big mama makes her way to a lower limb where she chomps on tasty tissues and grows up to five feet long.

The disgust doesn’t end there though! Mama had laid her eggs, and now there’s an excruciating blister. When bath-time comes for our lucky little host, the blister breaks and thousands of larvae swim away. Fun as that is, now mom has her cue to make a break for it, and she spends the next few weeks writhing her 3-5 foot long body out of your broken blister. 

Photo Courtesy of a Google Search

Note: Hypnotherapists can wipe your memory free of the Guinea Worm for a considerable and totally-worth-it fee.  

I’m not sure what’s more revolting. The fact that doo-doo is a part of the process, or that these things may use your mouth or nose to make a break for it

Anyways, someone somehow “accidentally” scarfs down some fecal-covered eggs, which then hit the stomach and hatch into wriggly little worms. Some of them will work their way up the throat where you may end up tongueing them before they’re swallowed deep into your digestive system. Others will call it good by crashing in the lungs (smart move considering they’re conveniently located near the emergency exits provided by your face).

Consider including scrub brushes, soap, acid, and poo detectors in your travel bag.

Get rid of your pets, pressure wash yourself three times daily, boil everything to hell and back before ingestion, and never leave home without a water filter. In fact, skip out on leaving home in general.


Thanks to Ash for giving me a post and making my readers cringe with those special photos...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Local Fad

Okay, only in America (well...maybe Japan) would an airport's former carpet design be so popular that they would have T-shirts and socks sold from the design.  Oh, and they even had the carpet as a character used as a mascot!  Really?  A piece of carpet is a mascot?

Of course, this is a fad that will later be looked on fondly by those that endured it and say "remember back in 2015 when we had the Portland Airport carpet fad?"

You pet rocks and all those other crazy fads over the years.  

As for the actual carpet?  It was so popular and synonymous with Portland that they put in a very similar design else people would revolt!  Meanwhile, the original carpet was sold and they are selling pieces of it for stupid people that would buy stuff like that.  

I just don't need a piece of worn carpet trod on by 200,000 travelers but thanks for asking...

But then again, I don't have to worry about all that now.  I'm retired and living in the south of Spain where they don't have such strange nonsense.  Until I ran into this while biking on a back road close by...

I guess weird is everywhere!

Monday, April 06, 2015

More things you didn't know about

Most Monty Python fans know about Eric the half a Bee but very, very few know about Molly the half a cat...

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015...where work is for the weak

Ah...2015...just like 2007 but without all my readers.  Actually, its more like 2006 when I started this blog and didn't have any readers.

Of course, that's not true either.  Well, it's true I had almost no readers in 2006 but these days I average more reads on my posts than ever, it's just that people are hitting my older posts via Google.  I guess if you hang on long enough, that's what happens.  You become a search database.

Let's see, not much happened to VE in 2014...

Oh, wait, my son moved out leaving us empty-nesters.
Oh, and we sold our 3200sf house
Oh, and we sold practically everything we own and moved into a  984sf apartment
Oh, and we quit our jobs
Oh, and we sold our cars
Oh, and we got a residence Visa to live in the South of Spain
Oh, and we leave Jan 19, 2015!

No phones, no furniture, nothing but my two bikes, a computer, some personal papers and two suitcases!

Just like College...without the massive debt in tuition loans...

So I bid USA farewell.  I bid the 284 days of rain in Portland farewell and say hello to the 320 days of sunshine in the South of Spain.  We'll be living in the town of Almunecar.  Don't worry, you've never been there.  You have to zoom on Google maps at least three or four times to find it.  It's directly South from Granada.  Go until you hit the water!  It doesn't have daytime highs below 54 even in the dead of winter.  Most of the time it is 70-90.  It isn't too humid.  Think Southern California minus the overcrowding, smog, crime, high costs and Mexican food...

Here are some teaser pictures of the town we will be living in:
This is our beach.  Well...not ours personally but within a 2 minute walk...
Here's the town, we don't live in it but every town should have a castle!
This is a walkway along the beach so we don't even have to walk on the beach if we don't want to...goes for miles!
We will be living in the "old town".  Since the town is 2800 years old, that is very old!
The avenues in the old town are so narrow only donkeys would fit, no cars.  No, we won't be purchasing a donkey though.  We can walk.

And so, 2015 will be the year VE goes global, speaks Spanish and generally focuses on all things not work related.  Because work is for the weak (okay, so some of you need a roof over your head and food and ridiculous stuff like that...I get it)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas is for...

Once again Christmas is upon us. Let us not forget the meaning of Christmas.

I'll help you break it down.  Let's start letter by letter...

C is for Claus

H is for Ho Ho Ho

R is for Rednecks

I is for Innevitable

S is for Santa

T is for Mr. T

M is for Misinterpretation

A is for American Christmas

S is for Sleigh

And there you have it...C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S....the true meaning of a modern holiday.

Remember...the weird is out there!  Enjoy the holidays...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

It is Inevitable...

Oh come on now...we know this will happen somewhere, someplace...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apparently Washington is more "Evergreen" than you thought

Well with Washington state legalizing marijuana, I'd say they are really living up to their state motto...

I just happen to live right across the border in Oregon.  I'm sure if Portland had their way, Oregon would be right behind them.  Nobody works in Portland anyway so what's the issue?

I know Colorado has it legalized too but their already so high what does it really matter?   Besides, how much can you really grow in an environment lacking in oxygen and changing from sunny and 70 to snowing in a matter of a few minutes.

But back to Washington.  We drove over there for a hike not long ago and as we crossed the toll bridge over the Columbia River (yes, we have a large river separating us so that most of the stoners will drown trying to cross and the rest will drive off the side of the bridge trying to get across).

Anyway, as we passed into Washington, I half expected somebody to be greeting us at the border, "Welcome to Washington, here's your doobie..."

Amazingly that didn't happen.  Nor did I find a state-wide shortage of Twinkies or Doritos. The mini-markets weren't standing-line only.  Are you sure pot is legal here?  I don't understand.

The typical chip and snack aisle at a Washington grocery store
But during a visit to the Seattle area for a 200 mile bike ride this summer, I definitely witnessed several cars filled with smoke.  One of them opened their door as I went by and you'd think they installed a fireplace as an option on the car what with the smoke that came billowing out.

That's either pot smoke or they purchased the wood stove option on the car

Now I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.  Frankly, the wifey-poo and I take walks in Portland nightly and there is so much pot smell coming from one particular corner nightly that we think they're burning it as incense!  

Monday, October 20, 2014

This and That

Okay, so the wifey-poo had this professional license for 15 years and didn't really need it but kept it "just in case"...because...well, you know, job security is about as reliable as a 10-day weather forecast these days.  So she FINALLY didn't renew it.  Apparently, they were quite "put out" because she received this back...

Do you think it is just me or are they a little miffed?  I didn't know they made stamps (or fonts) that big.  What they are really saying with this is from the old Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie..."I fart in your general direction"


So then we were walking through Whole Foods the other day (which my mother calls "Whole Paycheck"...but hey...unprocessed foods apparently cost more than chemical-laden fake foods so there you go).  Anyway, I couldn't help but notice their pies:

"Forest Berry" pie?  Really?  This pie should cost like $100 because I've hiked through a lot of forests and I don't see a lot of berries growing in them.  If this weren't just a marketing ploy it would take a LOT of effort to harvest enough "forest berries" to make a pie...


And finally, the gnomes have been trying to convince me that it would be quite funny to steal all of the rich home's security warning signs from their yards and then put them ALL on the lawn of the neighborhood dumpy-looking house. Sure, Mr. Rich House, nobody will break into your security-enabled home...but did you protect that warning sign?  Noooope....

Sure, the house is protected...but what if I steal your precious security sign?