Archive for April, 2010

O Canada!

No photos to post as I’ve just arrived in the Great White North, just a quick anecdote to share:

I was deep in thought as our plane descended to land in Vancouver.  It’s been 18 months since I left Canada and my life is so different in America that I know I’m a different person from who I was when I last lived in this country.  What remains the same is the great affection I have for my homeland, its people, our values (tolerance for complexity, concern for the common good, good manners etc.).  As I cozied up to these warm and fuzzy thoughts an empty water bottle whizzed past me and my neighbour (who was sleeping soundly).  The plastic projectile hit the arm of the woman sitting next to the window.  She was busy filming the earth rushing towards us until she was interrupted by the guy who threw the bottle.  He hissed, “Stop using your electronic device; can’t you see we’re landing?  You’re messing with all of us.  Stop your filming, eh!”  She shut off her camcorder and muttered an apology under her breath.  It was a very odd, yet very Canadian exchange…  it’s so nice to be home!

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Review: iPad

We stopped by the Apple store in Santa Monica last weekend so that I could play with the iPad.  It’s like a giant iPhone or iPod Touch.  Naturally, helsachow.com came to mind when I was trying to think of a URL to type on the screen.  How meta!

Scott was content to be my hand model in this photo as he’d already had his “test drive” on someone’s iPad at work.  Although I still prefer to read books the old-fashioned way, I have a healthy addiction to the New York Times online and the iPad has the potential to make traditional print media like magazines and newspapers come alive.  I like the iPad’s large touch screen keyboard as I lack the magic touch to type quickly on Scott’s iPod Touch.  Once upon a time, I played the piano so I like being able to press down on keys as I type text; a touch screen serves primarily to enhance my interaction with images.  Which is why Apple’s decision to launch iPad without Adobe Flash capabilities is disappointing:  iPad 1.0 will help iTunes pad its revenue streams (pun intended), but it won’t support my hulu.com or youtube.com viewing habits.  I can picture myself using an iPad to shop online or browse photos while sitting on the couch or lying in bed, but seeing as I can already do this with my laptop, I’d rather spend my $499 USD (iPad’s current selling price) on staples such as printed cotton sundresses and Birkenstocks (you know, really useful things!).

UPDATE:  We’ve succumbed to the iPad’s charms – we’ve named ours “Buddy”.

Tampon Chandelier

We had the Arsenale to ourselves when we saw this gigantic tampon chandelier at the Venice Biennale in 2005.  Thus, I was able to take a picture of the installation without tourists or art lovers photo-bombing my shot. 

Joana Vasconcelos created “A Noiva” (The Bride) out of stainless steel, cotton thread, and more than 14,000 o.b. tampons to challenge “the decadence of the concept of white immaculate perfection” and “show the hypocrisy of the image of the pure bride.”  The Bride’s dimensions are 15.42 ft x 7.22 ft x 7.22 ft, or 4.70 m x 2.20 m x 2.20 m for my metric-loving friends.  The irony that I fell for its charms while on my honeymoon is not lost on me.  Vasconcelos’ grandiose statements aside, her work is beautiful, funny, and memorable.  Five years after the fact, it’s one of the things we remember best about our trip to Venice.

Vernazza, Italy

At brunch today with our friends Mariana and Michael, we traded stories about travel plans gone awry.  Our tale of sleeping in a tiny rental car at Milan’s Malpensa airport on the final night of our honeymoon was totally eclipsed by their account of lurching through the Andes on an all-night bus ride prior to hiking Machu Picchu.  All this reminiscing led me to look through our honeymoon photos tonight.   

We had received our first digital camera as a wedding present from my mom, so it’s evident in the photos that I was learning how to use the Canon S2IS as we traveled through Italy.  I hadn’t been bitten by the photography bug yet, so I didn’t take as many shots per day as I do now.  Still, I did take some nice pictures such as this one of Vernazza in Cinque Terre.

A Brush With Kindness

Ten-year-old Stephen and his family are painting their home in Lynwood this week with the support of Habitat for Humanity‘s “A Brush With Kindness” program.  “A Brush With Kindness” volunteers help preserve housing stock throughout Greater L.A. by partnering with low-income homeowners to complete minor exterior repairs to their homes.

While Stephen brushed a fresh coat of paint onto doors and fences yesterday, the rest of us perched on ladders to paint the trim on the house.  The foreman and I tackled the fascia, rafter tails, and eaves while five other volunteers painted window frames and awnings.  In Canada, soffits protect eaves from the elements, windows are double-paned, and houses are well-insulated so I find it interesting how California’s warm weather enables developers to build houses often without such considerations.

Jolly Green Giant

I spent most of Easter weekend crouched in the desert under the blazing sun with my camera lens less than an inch (2.54 cm) from the tiny wildflowers I shot in Death Valley.  My quads and hamstrings finally stopped aching yesterday.  Fortunately, I was smart enough to slather sunscreen all over myself twice daily so I escaped the desert without sunburn. 

This photo made my day:  a Silver Cholla cactus in full bloom.  At three inches (7.62 cm) in diameter, he’s a jolly green giant.  We found him on the alluvial fans south of Scotty’s Castle.

Death Valley Desert Gold

I was prejudiced against yellow flowers until we spent Easter weekend camping in Death Valley.  I used to think that they were boring compared to red, purple, or pink flowers which have the gumption to “pop” against greenery.  Then I took this photo of Desert Gold on Saturday south of Ashford Mill along Badwater Road in Death Valley.  As the desert is relatively blah in colour, the yellow heads of Desert Gold really shine and brighten up the landscape.  They also smell INCREDIBLE.  The strong winds carried the heady fragrance of a million desert sunflowers.

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