Friday, August 1, 2008

those amazing toys

... it took me quite a few years while I lived in Spain before I finally purchased a cell phone. I withstood the urge thinking that tiny bit of progress would infringe on my sanity and privacy. After hearing the same statement from many friends "How can I contact you for fotos if you're never home?" which of course, after I got a cell phone the calls never came....

Of course!

Sometimes it's really amazing the toys and things people can create when time and creativity is not a problem.

Take a look at these two pictures... incidentally not created by me but by my brother. Guess how these were created? It was taken using the first version of a very small and simple "camera"; the circular effect a result of a fish-eye lens "adapted" to fit over this camera's lens.

Isn't this amazing?

When one has the moment to stop, sit and take a deep breath and look around them... they will see a lot of things that are so amazing... just think that in a normal household, more than half the things found today inside a living room and kitchen did not even exist during the previous 40 to 50 years!

Most of the things we take for granted now were described in science fiction novels or movies as things of the 23rd century.... who would ever think these gadgets would actually exist and be even "affordable" in our lifetime?

Even the car that I drive now, with its electric door locks, electric windows and air conditioning.... I've never had a car like this in my life! I'm used to driving a manual shift transmission, manual roll-down windows power by hand and elbow motion, and a door that locks when you remember to push the little thingy down, or by using your key in the lock!

I agree that modern progress and technology has a lot in making our lives more comfortable, but at what cost? I miss the days when I could control completely and exactly the amount of window I wanted open or closed by turning the lever by hand, and it didn't need any electricity.

I remember that in my short and few teen years, the greatest joys then and which still apply now, were those toys or things that required no batteries, and made me think by using my brain... our personal and amazing incredible built-in computer that comes with each of us with no warrantry but is the simpliest and most advanced computer ever created in this world.

Will this technology be the downfall of this generation and of generations to come, by creating a race of people too lazy to go out to play when one can play on a handheld game console? Will we grow wide and bigger because the only exercise is between the car, the elevator or the desk and our homes? With so much porn online, will the act of "love" become a virtual sensation through online sites? Already people are starting to date through online sites, and it won't be too long before people begin marrying and conducting relationships virtually.

At what price technology? I can't wait to return to my empty apartment in southern Spain where my car - when I have another car there again - stays parked 90% of the month and I walk sometimes up to 10 to 15 kilometers a day, eating less... much less than I do here!

This was created by attaching a fish-eye lens accessory to the "lens" of the camera of a first-generation IPhone!! What one can create through ingenuity and materials at hand!

this is a 1st generation IPhone (left) outfitted with a fish-eye lens!!!
on the right is the lens alone with a juryrigged adapter

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stern Grove and Musica Latina

before the masses assembled

Stern Grove "empty"

I spent the majority of Sunday at Stern Grove, and I must tell you: if you ever get a chance to go there to listen to music it is well worth the effort, the time and the experience. I have been gone from MY City for over three decades and I thought I was transported back to the 60s! Featured this day were the popular Bay Area group SambaDa, and Voices of Latin Rock, a combination of great music performed by a rotating group of musicians, some of who have performed with such groups as Santana, War, etc.

Prearing for my meeting with online friends around 11:30-ish on Sunday for a potluck picnic with live music, I spent over three hours Saturday night preparing and cooking two spanish tortillas for my share of the potluck. I've mentioned tortillas here before and it's not a difficult food item to make, but on the other hand, it's not the easiest thing to cook either. One should note though, that there is a BIG difference between spanish and mexican tortillas, one being made of corn or flour and being very plain and thin while the spanish version is made basically with eggs, potatoes (I always add more ingredients) and is NOT thin, and can be as thick as an inch and very tasty!

Early Sunday morning, I departed early for the area as from habit as a photographer, I always like to arrive early to see the area and get a feel for what is there. I got there at about 9:30-ish and sat in the car a while till I noticed there were a LOT of people entering the area already. I went down to see how filled the concert meadow was and was shocked at the beauty of the area, and how well things were constructed and planned. Even the restrooms were roomy, very adequate and clean, even in better condition than most pricey SF restaurants!

Though the narrow walkway was quite steep leading from the street level to the concert meadow, I can tell you now the experience is worth the walk and trouble to get there. At this early hour of the morning, more than half of the available spaces were already claimed by people who were laying out blankets to stake out their spot. I had nothing with me but the kind black woman next to the space I wanted was nice enough to loan me two blankets so I could lay down those on the grass to claim my spot, along with my jacket. I hurried back up to the car to get my folding chair, camera bag and food. Hands filled, I made it down to the spot along with a baseball seat cushion and my car windshield shades in order to claim a bigger area ~ after all, I was expecting over 16 virtual friends!

Now situated, it was only 10am as I called the group host to warn him that spaces was being taken up quickly and to get here as soon as possible. He was due at 11:30-ish and I didn't know if I would be able to hold the space till then. With lots of time on my hands, I sat and waited watching as more and more people arrived and entered the meadow with their wheeled coolers, chairs, blankets and more.

With time, the host of my little group appeared, and with time soon familiar faces appeared, and my little empty space quickly changed from nada to a filled spot with food, blankets and more!

time to munch

Of course, the music finally replaced the numerous and loud sound tests, and just as suddenly the wait was forgotten. This music was the type of tunes I listened to as a young teen in Golden Gate Park and heard on the radio. Even when I was in Rota (Spain) in the late 70s, the most favorite music played on my turntable was Santana! The music was great with many popular tunes performed which, if you were listening to the music in the 70s, it would all come back as familiar tunes you've enjoyed previously ~ but this was live! But I really enjoyed the history of the performers and music, described and well-told between each of the musical performances.

It has been many decades since I have been in the presence of live band music in a park.... the emotion and the vibes were amazing on this day, and sobered me up - I had about half a bottle of wine in me - giving me the opportunity to look back at my life, and the things I have seen, while missing the things I should have experienced in my non-existent teen life in SF which never happened. I should have seen and done a lot in my home town of San Francisco, and it took me over 38 years to finally attend an outdoor music concert in Stern Grove!

Stern Grove filled to das gills


The food the others had brought was great, and I drank more than my fill of white and red wine. Amazingly enough, everyone who I met this day had brought wines made in Spain, and that also made me a bit "homesick", if this were possible for someone who was born in SF and having been away for over most of his adult life, and now living again in his hometown.... to be homesick for a culture, a lifestyle and for a mood that was more than a hand's width in distance on a printed world map.... How could this be?

But in the fifteen years I've lived in Spain, even in my deepest misery - and there were lots of those moments - I felt more at home in Spain than I ever experienced in my own hometown or country. In all the months I've been "living" in the states, people have noticed and advised me that they can sense of belonging when I talk about Spain... and how I can also feel that sense of "belonging"... which I do not feel when I am in the USA.

I know this sounds unusual and unamerican, but it's how I feel. I feel I do not belong, that nobody wants me here, and everything is so alien and without sense.....

Anyway, if you ever get a chance to go to Stern Grove, do so!! You won't regret it no matter WHO is playing, what is being performed, and how many people there is.... the experience is simply unbelievable!!!

a lively dance!