Saturday, June 27, 2009

May they rest in peace

David Carradine - an actor who earned cult status in the 70's television series “Kung Fu”.
He regained the limelight through Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies where he played the enigmatic killer 'Bill'. David was found dead on June 4; he was 72.

Michael Jackson - was the most iconic stars of my generation. He had led a troubled life and was sadly misunderstood. However no one can deny his genius. The internet made Michael's death global within in minutes of the news. Michael died from a heart attack on June 26; he was 50.

Farrah Fawcett - played Jill Munroe, one of three fearsome female private investigators on the 1970's TV show "Charlie's Angels". Farrah died of cancer on June 25; she was 62.

Ed McMahon - was Johnny Carson’s sidekick on “The Tonight Show,” introducing it with his ringing trademark line, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”. Ed died June 23; he was 86.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Scorching Salamanca

As per orders I made my way to Madrid to meet the Anglo's and as usual we had 4 of us to do a 5 minute intro - I honestly don't see the point of us all having to be there. Luckily Marisa has very kindly agreed for me to crash at her place so as to avoid paying more money for accommodation whilst in Madrid.
I got to meet a guy called Peter who is training to be a MC. We are yet to discover whether this is to pick up the odd program that is available or whether he is going to replace one us; we shall see. Personally, I think a proper sit down cards on table kind of meeting is well over due.

Well finally I'm back at the usual venue in Salamanca; instead of being everywhere else, but hey a chance is as good as a rest, so they say. The weather here is scorching hot quite a few of the Anglo's are returning from their 1 to 1's bright red! This week was a very small group only 10 and 11 participants.

Some of the Masters were back this week, this is their last Vaughan Town (they have done 4 of them now). I can see the improvements they have made but there are still a lot of simple mistakes being made. Really the only way to improve is to work really hard and take advantage of all the situations they have available to them, I know that's easier said than done.
They also highlighted the point that different teachers advice they say things one way and other teachers advice them another - this is obviously confusing for them, as I don't know the specifics I wont comment too much, perhaps you have to use what works for you; to be frank, lol.
After they finish at Vaughan Systems, they are off into the 'real world', I sincerely wish you all the best in your future guys and hope you achieve what you want for your lives.

The other Spaniards on the program worked hard, I saw during their freetime they were working on their presentations - this I like! It is always more rewarding to know the effort you put in was appreciated, there are occasions when you can 'blag' a presentation or 'wing it', but usually people can tell; I can, afterall it's my job.

The Karaoke was enjoyed by some special ladies who rocked the mic in private to several 80's memories and good for them.

The food was... ...well standard - a lot of fish; which I don´t like personally. However back to wickedly nice desserts: so dangerous!

As for the party, ohh my head! It finished late or early depending on your point of view. The masters tried to break me, I think they managed it. This morning I was good for nothing.

Good luck to you and thanks to the Anglo's too ;)
The weeks memories can be found by clicking the photo below
Vaughan Town - Salamanca - Program 159

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Microsoft going down

When I first got into using computers the thing I liked was configuring it to make it mine, the Amiga allowed to you to do just that - with a little hacks here and there.
Then I moved onto PC's and Microsoft, going from 3.1 to Windows 95 was a wonderful advancement - no hacking needed, friendly User Interface. Then came 98 and XP; I'l not mention Vista or Windows 7.

XP was good and very stable for the most part, but the demise of Microsoft was looming as they starting locking you into their way that they wanted you to work and operate. This gave rise to Apple and of course UNIX; the Ubuntu system is growing rapidly and very successful.
I have always liked Apple, no, I cant tweak everything but I dont have to, it works, its that simple. No blue screen of death, no unknown problem, no viruses.

So the switch was very painless for me, however I continued to use my Hotmail account as I liked it and it worked. (do you notice the past tense there) IT WORKED! Now Hotmail have forced me to go via a pop3 account which I have done, now I can only check my email every 15 minutes and ALL of my email have gone?! Deleted or moved I dont know but they aint there, years of emails just dissappeared - a case for Mulder and Scully methinks.
Why do they mess with things that aint broke, I never asked for improvements and I'm sure we could all do without them sometimes.

So the last part of Microsoft that was working for me, now has lost favor and it seems after a few looks on Google others are jumping ship because of the similar issues. I tried a quick work around to get Hotmail to forward my emails to another account, but Microsoft are obviously afraid of the competition as they wont let you, lame!

So now to switch to either my Gmail account or I may choose the Apple .Me account and get everything synced in one go (cloud) seems the simpliest option.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Smoke and Water

I have recently being playing with smoke and water in order to add some variety in my photography and also to help hone my skills a little more.

The process seemed simple enough but the setup was from it. I used tables and chairs and lamps from everywhere around the house. The shots look amazing - if only you could see the chaos behind the lens, lol.
I used a few incense sticks for the smoke pictures, a lamp and got in close.
For the Splash pictures I used water, milk
and even a drop of wine.
Both effects took some setting up and practise to get what I was after, once I had the general idea it was playing with different items to make it even better, more water, less water, more light, without flash etc.

Well needless to say I managed eventually to get good light onto the subject and perfect my timing a little more without the added expense of additional camera lenses, remote flashes or that's what matters.

If you want to see the spoils of my labour check out my PHOTOBLOG or my Flickr page which hosts a few more of my photos

Friday, June 12, 2009

New Blog Link

As some of you may be aware I have being practising photography a little more and I am hoping to develop my skills further. To that effect I have set up an additional website where I will post some of my photos for you to critique and offer advice etc.

Should you like any of the photos please feel free to leave those comments too.

To check out the site simply click the PHOTOBLOG link on the right or click HERE

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

China's visit to Spain

To be honest after such a long time not seeing my daughter (China) I was a bit apprehensive; stupid I know.
To make matters worse the plane was 30 minutes late landing which made me even more anxious, finally when she walked through the door, OMG, she was so much bigger than I recall.

Spain is a radical change for her, she has been to France but nowhere else. I think it is a lot to take in for her. We have walked most of Madrid and visited the parques (parks) only to find they were closed and not due to open until the following day, yet it seems only the parques knew this as everyone else was turning up only to be turned away. (reason unknown; crisis?)
Worst of all though was the fact that posters everywhere saying what attractions are available, yet they fail to tell you when they are closed, needless to say we went to Faunia only to find it closed, so we went to Parque de Attractions only to find that too was closed, so we ended up in Retiro park; which is nice but not what we wanted.

This is typical of Spain, they are pretty bad at marketing; for example if you head to any parque or attraction - there are little to no signs or clues where you should go once you step off the metro, bus or car. Shame it's one thing that lets them down, as you want to know where you are going really and how to get there and this should be made clearer and simplier.

It is nice to have China with me and I miss our time together. I can see her education is slipping somewhat too, so I will speak to her about schooling as that really is the key to many things in life.
China is doing well, yet inevitably the topic of her mom and new family had to come up - I must say personally I am saddened to see her mom hasn't go on to do better things, as I know she is very capable of doing so, but as I am no longer in her life its no longer my place or problem.

We finally managed to get into Faunia and yes it was nice. It is kind of a zoo come petting zoo. Some of the animals roam free and others you get actually pet, but not as many as I thought. The price was expensive; especially considering it was the first day opening and about a third of the park was still shut to the public and some building work going on.

The Jungle section and the butterfly area for me were the best parts where the animals litterally roamed and flew freely around you. I tried to capture the moments on camera, but with the artificial rain forest keep throwing down rain, I was worried for my camera; I did manage to get some super shots though.

I also realised that zoos make wonderful places to practise your photography, so maybe more visits to come. Aquariums on the other hand not so good, due to the dark light and glass panels/flash issues. After going crazy taking so many photos my camera battery died and no I didn't bring it with me I left it at home :(

On Wednesday night China and I went to a wonderful little bar where Flamenco dancing took place and we got to see it first hand. They were very good I must say, sadly as I just mentioned my camera battery had died, but I was lucky enough to get a few before it died for good.
Lesson learnt, always have a back-up.

We are now back at my home in Palencia and on Sunday we are off to Asturias; which is a beautiful part in the North of Spain. Whilst here in Palencia we have relaxed a little more, she has enjoyed the Wii and PS3, surfed the net and played on her DS - I got her a whole bunch of games to take back to UK as she only had a few.

Pitu and China get on well, so thats good. Sandra was very nervous about meeting China, but I knew she would be fine. So far so good!

Just returned from Asturias, boy what a journey. We trekked up mountains, across meadows, chilled in a park, visited a beach, took a cable car and went shopping, now that's what I call a busy day! We had a blast, I was happy to climb mountains and take photos, but girls being girls wanted to shop, so we had to fit in as much as we could to make everyone happy. Besides there are no mountains in Leicester, so China may as well enjoy them.
It did highlight how unfit I have become, for the first time (maybe ever) I found myself short of breath, yes we were very high, but thats not typical for me, sometimes I find it hard going of course (I'm not really superman) but this time I had to stop and catch my breath.

Of course the whole trip was thanks to Sandra for driving the 4 hours or so then the additional few hours from place to place once, we had arrived in Asturias. Pitu slept through most of it - she also made climbing mountains considerably harder as she had to be carried.
We did a good few hours shopping and several hundred euros later we left, thankfully, my account couldn't handle more. More photos have been added to the album.

The last few days we spent together were full of excitement and adventure - every girls dream. We went to Warner Parque and China went on the most scary rides - I kid you not! The one that takes you way up in the air then drops you back down at stupid speeds; she loved it. I of course had to take photos so I couldn't join her on that one (an excuse), she really impressed me, very daring indeed, but the best was the superman ride! OMG!!!! This seemed to be our lucky day - everything conspiring for us for starters, we were given 2 for 1 tickets for half the cost, the queues were very small so not much waiting which meant all rides could be done, we got to the front of the Superman ride - which really made you feel like you were flying and to top it all the hotel we booked upgraded us free of charge to a brand new superior suite! OHhhhh yeah!

We spent some more time shopping and souvenier shopping and sat in a few chilled out bars - hey, it was hot! China had a few moments of realisation that her time was ending and the 16 days had flew by so quick and she was returning to her home life back in the UK.
We spoke at length about several things and some issues - I was saddened to hear her mom was still bitter and angry - but I told China that is 'our' issue not hers to worry about. I don't understand what she has to be angry or bitter about!?
China's idol is Hannah Montana and she would like to be a rock chick, although she is quite confused about her place in the world as most 10 years old, the devide doesn't help.

The hardest was the last night she refused to sleep - and tried desperately to keep awake as she knew once her eyes closed that was the end of her Spanish adventure, her eyes did close eventually. She was brave saying goodbye, but I watched as she went through the security check point upset, this is the hardest part - departing always hurts so much. I hope her mom will at least let China return in the future, time will tell.
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