Friday, April 16, 2010

The Race

Good morning, and welcome to the race. It sure looks like it is going to be a tight one. Who do you think will get home first, the ash cloud or Pere? Yesterday at 12:58pm via Mobile Web

After an early false start (some flights cancelled), the ash cloud gets the first lead by closing down all london airports Yesterday at 1:30pm

Pere decides to drive safely and books himself for another night in a London hotel hoping that the ash cloud will simply run off the track Yesterday at 1:39pm

After a warning from the pits (there will be flight cancellations tomorrow as well), Pere decides to put the pedal to the metal and books himself into the eurostar, hoping to train or plane it back from Paris Yesterday at 1:41pm

Pere is slowly catching up but he finds that he can only make one pit stop, as there's a train strike in France (now, there's a surprise!) and he won't be able to take the overnight train home. Yesterday at 1:47pm

The ash cloud reacts quickly to Pere's chase and decides to build up the pace: The NATS reports that it will arrive to Paris at night Yesterday at 1:50pm

Sensing that there's a window of opportunity, Pere doubles the bet by booking a flight from Orly at 18.20, hoping that the ash cloud doesn't notice and maintains its current lap times. It'll be close however, the eurostar leaves Pere at Gare du Nord at 1600 Yesterday at 1:56pm

The ash clouds employs dirty tricks that not even Briattore would use! Pere's informed that his eurostar train is overbooked and he might not be able to board it! Yesterday at 1:58pm

Pere decides to burn all the rubber and makes a run for St Pancras. Will he run for nothing? Yesterday at 2:00pm

Pere makes it to St Pancras but traffic is heavy and he will not know if he can get pass it until the gates open. Yesterday at 2:02pm

What a breakthrough! Pere's on the train which departs on time! He relaxes a little to let the engine cool down a little Yesterday at 2:05pm

Pere asks his engineer what's the best way to get to Orly... And she duly replies with the best way... Telling him to avoid taxis at all costs. Yesterday at 2:33pm

Bonjour France! With updated instructions from his engineer, Pere readies up for next big sprint: crossing Paris from north to south, on a schedule. At least it's sunny (something that you don't usually get), so he doesn't need to change his tires. With a little bit of luck the ash cloud will not use any more dirty tricks! Yesterday at 2:36pm

Telemetry ( ) shows that the cloud can't accelerate to match Pere's renewed vigour... But he should be too confident

Shouldn't, that is! Yesterday at 3:12pm

The ash makes a comeback and quickly moves to Brussels and closes off its airport --- good thing that Pere saw the clouds initial telemetry before booking the train ticket! Yesterday at 4:41pm via Email Reply

Pere arrives in Paris and is slowed down at chatelet les halles --- as one of his engineers told him, a maze, not a RER station Yesterday at 4:43pm via Email Reply

Note to the general public: the orlyval doesn't depart from chatelet les halles, but from antony --- it's all a marketing ploy to make you think its more centrally located. Pere loses 20 vital minutes there. Yesterday at 4:45pm via Email Reply

Pere needs to make an unschedelud pit stop at antony to change to the orlyval: will the mechanics have everything ready, or is the orlyval going to be seriously delayed? The ash cloud will sure send its scouts Yesterday at 4:47pm via Email Reply

And the agents have indeed arrived... The ticket's magnetic strip is unreadable, and Pere's forced to make another unscheduled pit stop to exchange it --- loosing the train. Will the next one be able to take him to Orly in time? He hopes the mechanics are better this time! Yesterday at 4:57pm via Email Reply

In the background, the ash cloud slowly but surely makes it way down... (or so another pilot on this race tells him --- there are rumours that Paris airports are also closing down) Yesterday at 5:08pm via Email Reply

From the guardian: a number of airports in France are now closed. The French Civil Aviation authority says that Paris' main airport and nearly two dozen others are closing due to volcanic ash. The Civil Aviation authority cites security reasons for the decision. Yesterday at 5:18pm via Email Reply

But it seems that news from race control happen faster than they actually do... And we're boarding. And Pere's never seen before a crowd so eager to board a plane! Everybody is not alone in his race with the ash cloud! Go, go, go! Yesterday at 5:59pm via Email Reply

Excuse me, but that should have said: everybody is racing against the ash cloud (sorry, the nerves... We can almost see a reddish sky if we look up north!) Yesterday at 6:02pm via Email Reply

Well, this is my last update. If you don't hear from me soon enough it can mean: 1) I've run out of battery, 2) we're on our way to the finish line. If you don't hear from me for a long time it will mean that the ash cloud has caught with us... On the straight at 20000 feet! I hope my engine doesn't burn out! Go, go, go! Yesterday at 6:05pm via Email Reply

and after what has been an exciting race, Pere sees the chequered flag an beats the ash cloud! Thanks everyone for watching and good night! Yesterday at 7:56pm

Post race report: after a while, the ash cloud finally makes it: En raison d'une éruption volcanique en Islande ayant causé la formation et le déplacement d'un nuage de cendres, la DGAC a décidé, par mesure de précaution, la fermeture des aéroports parisiens et du nord de la France au plus tard à partir de 23h le jeudi 15 avril (heure locale) 9 hours ago

Via facebook, done on realtime, yesterday the 16th of April 2010.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Yesterday, whilst walking from the dentist to the Camp Nou (to attend -in situ- the Barça-Arsenal game), I daydreamed about the possible outcome of the match and the English press reaction to it... and one word came on top of all the others: obliterated.

I think I'm becoming a phychic.

But still they wanted more, and more, and more. There seemed to be a strange, bloody-minded determination not to recognise him. So Messi provided it. He started racking up goal after goal but they said that anyone could score goals in Spain. So last night he became top scorer in the Champions League. For the second successive season. And, for those who had forgotten Rome, he obliterated Arsenal into the bargain. Now they're saying Messi is the best player in the world. It shouldn't have taken last night to realise it.