Girona, Spain — February 7, 2017

We have a new roommate in our dormitory, a very tall and very slim Frenchman who insists on speaking to me in a mixture of broken Spanish and broken English. I understand neither his English nor his Spanish, but he refuses to speak French. So, I try to be as polite, pretend that I understand what he is saying, and avoid him as much as possible. It gets tiresome listening to someone jabber away while looking you in the eyes when you have no idea what the person is saying. If he could actually speak English or Spanish or would condescend to speak French, I might learn that he has something interesting to say.

The rain let up yesterday just before noon, so I went out for a walk. As you can see in the picture below taken soon after I left the hostel, the streets were still wet, but the sky was clearing. By the time I got back several hours later, the sun and wind had dried everything. Ah, yes, the wind. Although it was sunny yesterday afternoon, it was nonetheless chilly and breezy. I was glad for my jacket worn over a heavy sweatshirt and my wool cap. I did dispense with the long underwear, however, which I had worn the day before to walk in the cold rain.

I wish I could relate to you what the building in the following picture is, but I could find no signs explaining it. Nevertheless, I found its appearance interesting and could not resist photographing it.

In the following picture, the Girona Cathedral juts above the other buildings in the sunshine. The cathedral is not only taller than the buildings around it, it sits on a hill, which gives it added height.

I walked through a section of town yesterday afternoon that I had not visited before. One of the attractions was a large park, although the park looked a bit sad in its winter aspect with all of the trees bare of leaves. I’ll bet the park would be a delight in summer. I also ran into this city square covered in sand instead of asphalt or stones.

Sitting in the center of one of the nearby traffic circles was this bright, metal sculpture. I suppose we’re all entitled to use our imaginations to decide what it means. To me it looked like some sort of giant bird of prey poised to jump off a tree branch onto its unsuspecting victim below. Hey! Maybe that’s me it’s eying!

I returned to the hostel by way of this old iron pedestrian bridge across the Onyar River. On the way I stopped by a supermarket to buy lunch. Because I have not been riding my bike every day and am therefore burning fewer calories, I’ve cut back to two meals a day for during the trip. I eat breakfast in the hostel and buy something light to eat in late afternoon. Today my second meal was a supermarket salad, a baguette of multi-grain bread, and a Snickers bar. Oh, I didn’t count the beer that I drank earlier while sitting on a park bench reading. The calories in beer and wine don’t count, do they?

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been reading Daniel Ellsberg’s book The Doomsday Machine. I am finding it quite alarming. He makes a very convincing argument that some miscalculation could easily set off a nuclear exchange between the USA and Russia. He further claims that such an exchange would end human civilization. Radiation would wipe out all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, but even the Southern Hemisphere would not be spared. He argues that so much smoke would be sucked into the upper atmosphere that sunlight would not be able to penetrate. No sunlight would mean no agriculture, of course. Perhaps some isolated colonies would find the means to feed themselves here and there and survive, but they would be thrown back into stone-age conditions.

He also explodes the myth that only the president has the power to launch a nuclear attack. He claims that dozens of people have their fingers on the nuclear trigger. it’s frightening to think that there may be scores of people in the world who have the power to end human life.