Archive for October, 2006

Stories of Lorena

Lorena is my priceless two and a half years-old niece. She started talking when she was about 12-13 months and haven’t stopped since. My brother posted this little vignette in his blog and I couldn’t help but translate it:

We were watching Shrek on the weekend when Lorena commented:
“That donkey doesn’t stop talking…”
I couldn’t resist: “You are right! Like Lorena!”
“It isn’t Lorena who doesn’t stop talking, it’s the donkey! The donkey doesn’t stay quiet. Doesn’t stop talking. Lorena stays quiet. It’s the donkey! The donkey who doesn’t stop talking! Not Lorena daddy! It’s the donkey! He doesn’t stop talking… “

I guess after that monologue, my brother was able to stay “I have no further questions your honour”

October 31, 2006 at 9:44 am Leave a comment

To travel…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. Gilbert K. Chesterton

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. Aldous Huxley

I’ve just finished reading Javier Reverte’s Vagabundo en África, a mix of travel notes, history of Africa and reflections on the state of Africa at the time Reverte spent two months criss-crossing through that great continent. Highly recommended. It made me wish I was brave enough to travel as he does.

His conclusion on travelling at the closing of his journey through the heart of Africa:

“Viajar prolonga tu vida, la llena de rostros y paisajes. Conoces hombres cobardes que deben vivir una vida valiente, y hombres valientes obligados a vivir como cobardes. “Viajar – escribió Aldoux Huxley – es descubrir que todo el mundo se equivoca. Cuando uno viaja, tus convicciones caen con tanta facilidad como las gafas; sólo que es más difícil volver a ponerlas en su sitio”.

Un largo viaje es también una suspensión en el vacío, por eso crea en ti una sensación de eternidad. Observas, como un “voyeur” impúdico, cuanto sucede a tu alrededor, y a la vez te implicas, te asombras, te estremeces, sientes la ternura de los hombres y también el temor a lo imprevisto. Te observas mientras miras fuera de ti.

Y viajar es también una forma de crear, porque retienes cuanto ves y cuanto oyes, en la memoria y en la retina, para intentar más tarde interpretarlo, como si fueras un artista, un pintor frente a los colores, frente a los rostros y las formas; un músico abierto a los sonidos, a las voces y los ritmos, o quizá y al fín, un poeta. El viaje nos convierte en seres libres; hace posible que nos veamos detenidos en el tiempo mientras el mundo corre a nuestro lado.

Y viajar es bailar, como bien dicen los Chichewas, sordo a todo aquello que no sea el son de una canción ignorada.

Elsewhere he says:

Hay veces, cuando viajas o emprendes una tarea creativa,, en las que te preguntas si el destino existe. Es una cuestión boba que no está de moda en estos tiempos de realidades matemáticas y de hombres seguros de su ciencia. Pero yo creo que existe. Y que es uno quien lo propicia.

October 28, 2006 at 4:10 pm 2 comments

Weather part II – photos

I don’t want to rub it in – ok, maybe just a little – but I thought I would post some pictures of when we went to the beach with my parents. Keep in mind that this was mid october (!) If it’s any consolation, the locals say it should be colder than this by now…

Cyclist at the beach

Don’t know who the dude is but he looked pretty relaxed…

People sitting by the boardwalk

Alan said I couldn’t capture the wave breaking with my film camera so I had to prove him wrong:

Waves breaking

And I got the hang of it and went a little nuts:

more waves

The next one is not very big but I like the colours and reflections in it:

waves again

But the best was watching my nephew, Matheus, having fun

Matheus & TecoTeco & Matheus

Needless to say, he was not happy when we had to leave!!

October 26, 2006 at 10:29 pm Leave a comment

Making Decisions

Well, here I was all set to upgrade my camera from a Canon G6 to the Canon EOS 30D. What had generated interest was the release of the Canon G7. It’s a beautiful looking camera and an upgrade from my G6.

I started doing research on this camera but as soon as I found it didn’t have raw capability I was not at all interested.

While looking at the G7 I learned that the Canon EOS 400D/XTi had also been released. I read all the pre-release reviews at the Digital Photography Review (a must visit site for anyone interested in digital photography (also check out Fred Miranda’s site)) and I became really interested in this camera.

I was going to wait until we returned to Toronto because I thought that if any version changes were made they would probably be done by the time I returned. The G7 has new imaging software (Digic III). I think that if it works ok then by the time I return they might re-release the Canon EOS 400D/XTi with digic III. Well, while reading the tons of information about this camera I discovered the Canon EOS 30D. It had some features that I wanted but were not on the 400D. Features such as spot metering, a broader range of ISO settings, a faster continuous drive and a pentaprism viewer instead of a pentamirror.

These features are not earth shattering but I did decide on the 30D, actually I set my heart on it. Alex and I went down to a few photo stores here in Barcelona and I looked at the 30D. It fit nicely in my hand and I loved the quality of the build. I started reading more user reviews and guess what, they made me question my choice. It seems there is a big issue with dust on the sensor. Even right out of the box the camera needs a cleaning (so I’ve read). I tried to re-evaluate to the 400D but the big complaint about that camera is the ergonomics. It might sound picky to some but a camera has to feel right. My G6 is a great little point and shoot camera but the ergonomics of it sometimes get in the way of getting a quick shot off. There are features on the 400D that I like such as 10.1 megapixels and a dust removal system but I don’t know how effective the dust removal system is. I started looking a the Nikon D80 but it’s price for the features it has is a no go for me. Besides, I hear that although the build quality seems much better than the Canon, the photos are not as sharp as that of Canon ( I know, it’s the lens and sharpness is an qualitative issue)

I even went as far as contacting Henry’s Photo in Toronto to get the cost of shipping one to me. By the way, they were great. Alex bought her Minolta from them and their attitude and friendliness have made me a loyal customer.

Ok, so now you know my problems. I don’t want to spend the money on the EOS 400D and now I don’t want to buy the 30D either. Actually, the posts about Canon have me questioning their quality control. They used to be known for their high quality products. Is success ruining them ???? Maybe I’ll just wait another few years and see what happens. Sigh.

Any thoughts on this (leave a comment) .

October 26, 2006 at 3:53 pm Leave a comment

Amazing weather – the Canadian dream?

It reached 28 degrees yesterday!! (and I’m not talking Farenheit!) We’ve been told it does get cold here in the winter and judging by the state of things when we arrived in april, the trees lose their leaves at some point. The only problem is: we have no idea when this so-called winter starts.

I’m used to having warm weather at all times of the year but to Alan, the Canadian from Quebec, this is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. He’s never had warm weather for six months before and is extactic. Let’s not forget, weather defines the way the rest of the world views Canada and the way Canadians view the rest of the world.

Growing up in a country that still defines the world through a first-world vs third-world dichotomy, I expected when I moved to Canada that Canadians would not to be too interested in my third-world country. I didn’t count on the Canadian obsession with warm weather. Invariably, it went more or less like this:

Canadian: “So, where are you from?”

Alex: “Brazil”

Canadian in a tone of shock: “WHY???”

Alex confused: “Excuse me?”

Canadian still shocked: “Why would you leave such a warm country with beautiful all-year-round beaches??”

I then quickly realize that although Canadians love their country and like some snowy weather once in a while, by January/February they are totally fed up. Most dream of retiring somewhere warm. They go to Florida or if they can’t get too far, move to Vancouver where it is said winter is shorter.

The rest of the world have a similar attitude. This is what I get from every single person I have met here – irrespective of nationality:

Foreign friend: “So, where are you from?”

Alex: “I’m originally from Brazil but I live in Canada now”

Foreign friend in a you-must-be-crazy-to-live-there tone: “Brrrrr, cold”

That’s it. No matter where they are from, no matter if they never actually been to Canada, everybody knows Canada is cold. And they are totally shocked when I tell them we have beautiful hot summers and that winter is not actually that bad.  I don’t think they believe me.

Maybe that’s why Canadians are generally nice to people from other parts of the world: wherever they are from, winter must be milder and shorter!!

But you know what? I think this Brazilian will miss the Canadian winter and its snow…

Snow in Queen's Park, Toronto

October 24, 2006 at 9:31 am 7 comments

Real Madrid 2 x 0 Barça

Very sad. The bar was packed with culés (Barça fans) and we had to watch Real Madrid win while Barça players skid all over the wet field. Eto’o & Ronaldinho: we miss you!!!!

Now it’s time to go to bed since tomorrow we get back to our gym routine. This will be a very tough week.

October 22, 2006 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

It’s not Sunday, It’s Photoday

You know, photography, in a sense, is a little like golf. To me, playing golf is an excuse to go for a walk in beautiful surroundings while photography is an excuse to go exploring in ways and places we normally wouldn’t consider. I think it’s the way you look at your surroundings when you have a camera in your hand. It’s just different, like you’re exploring.

Today, Alex and I grabbed our cameras and headed off to San Pere, an area in the Born. It’s streets are very narrow and sometimes surprise you by leading you into a wonderful secluded plaça.

The buildings are also very old and as a result the only colour you see has been put there by someone, either flowers or fabric.

Some little plaças invitie you to just sit and watch the world go by.

But even where there are many inviting places there are always the uninviting. I’ve never seen a dog that I didn’t want to be friends with but these two made me want to flee. I didn’t even want them to notice me taking their picture so I was VERY careful to keep well out of their reach. Thank god for zoom lenses.

There were also places that screamed KEEP OUT. I wonder what is behind this door that has this much security on it.

Near the end of our little excursion, we happened upon a blues jam session. These musicians were top notch.

They were playing blues. The drummer and bassist would set up a beat

and the guitarist would jam with that beat. He was really good at improvising. It’s exactly what I’d like to master.

Even the graffiti seemed to be watching them.

The sound man was kept busy but he did an amazing job too. There was no feedback at all and the sound, for an outdoor venue was very clean.

Well, the end of another weekend. Tonight we’ll be going to our cafe down the street to watch the football (soccer) game. It’s between Barcelona and Madrid and represents powerful rivalries.

Tomorrow, we’ll be heading back to the gym to re-establish our workout habits (groan). It’s going to be a tough week.

October 22, 2006 at 4:46 pm 1 comment

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