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Thursday, March 28, 2013

You know something is wrong

I really admire ants, but I'm thankful I'm not one.
You know something is wrong when you have to do it not because it's important, adds value or because it matters, but just because it's part of a process that does not add any value.

They keep telling me, "It's a big pain in the rear bottom but it's part of the rules and you have to do it. So just do it and get it out of your way.".

I don't like this kind of thinking. It's time of my life that I won't get back, that I can't direct to some other thing that I might think is more important. It's time that I don't have any control on how to use it.

But I guess they are right as long as I keep exchanging time of my life that I can never get back for money. I'm just another replaceable cog in a machine that does not allow any deviation or mind of it's own, despite of what they keep saying.

The uncertainty part of jumping sucks. We want reassuring that we will have a net, that we will have a plan, that we will know what will happen next.

We never know.

But I guess that in the end what I keep reading is true, just do it and figure things out while you are doing it. It's more dangerous to conform, live your life like everybody else does and do not dare to do what you really want, what you chose, because if it's your choice, it's your responsibility and you don't have anybody to blame.

Right?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mindlessness

Yes, there's always a cat. He's not mindless, just contemplating the world.
Lately I have been troubled by how mindless I am during my day. How much of my daily decisions are auto-piloted by my brain, and how most of this self-direction is in the wrong direction. How absent I am from my life.

The thing that strikes me the most is how wrong they are, but how right they feel. Its like a collection of very comfortable places in my day that I can count on to feel good. I'm not sure that "feel good" is a good description, it's just comfy and easy. And when I try to break any of those self directed habits they feel so wrong, awkward and uncomfortable.

Most of the times I have no idea how that became a comfortable habit that came to be so engrained in my life and being. Probably by repetition, I guess.

Breaking these automatic routines is now an objective, because if I'm not aware of what I do most of the time how can I act, direct or even enjoy my life. Sometimes these automatic behaviours are helpful, like when we are driving we don't want to think about every motion that we need to do to direct the car in a direction. But, most of the times they don't add nothing to my daily routine, they remove me from the equation, and I have to admit they are mostly bad.

A side effect is that I make lots of decisions daily that will affect my future, decisions of which I have no recollection. By living like that, in the end of the day, nothing has sunk in my memory and I have nothing worth remembering.

It's time to add me back to the equation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Already failing

Just go.
Remember when I said that I wanted to fail? Well, what do you know, I am. I'm failing, and failing big time, because I'm not doing anything and I'm not even trying.

So... Success! No, not really. I want to fail by doing, not by simple inertia.

Example, this blog hasn't seen and update in several days. Granted that I did not set any expectations on how often I would update, but I think I did it on purpose. This is what I always do. If I don't set you on any kind of expectations I don't have to meet them in any way.

Even now I'm struggling to decide if I commit myself to some kind of schedule for writing. I know I should, but my brain keeps telling me "Don't do it, because if you do, then you will have to write, you cannot waste time on other really important things (a.k.a. mindless web browsing).".

Even to choose a picture from my library for the post took me forever. In the end I just chose and actually was happy with the end result.

So the base line for posting will be this, I will post in the blog at least 3 times a week, and posts with just a picture do not count for this purpose (I have plans to have some of these).

Commitment done. Let's now see how this goes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scanning old family photos

A scanned and edited photo of my father with about 40 years.
Beyond the family albums, my parents have a drawer with old pictures, some are from my parents others from people of the village were I grew up. The photos can have 40 years or more and are starting to decay, with rust like marks, mould, bad storage conditions or just by sheer amount of time that has passed since they were taken.

Last year and after browsing some of them I got the feeling that I didn't want to lose those pictures. I got some and set my self to scan all of them, eventually. I scanned a few, got pleased with myself and never touched them again.

Until the previous weekend when I resumed the project and already scanned the first batch of about 100 photos. I still don't know how to digitally recover the photos, or how  but I will learn and get there.

The photo above was not recovered, I just applied a smoothing filter to do a test and ended up linking the result.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Photography

Old cameras in an antiques fair.
I know, I know, these days everybody will tell you that he's a photographer. Well I don't. I don't intend to be a photographer, I just want to learn to take better photographs.

(Insert flashback harp music here along with swirly images)

A very long time ago and like everybody else at the time, my first camera was a film camera. A very simple point and shoot Minolta camera that was a gift from my father for my birthday. It didn't click anything in my head towards photography, and at the time I would just mindless click away pictures of me, my family and friends without any concerns regarding how good the pictures were or could be.

Eventually the camera broke and by that time digital had reached a good pricing point and the size of the pictures was starting to be good enough.

Then in 2003 (I think) I bought my first digital camera, a Kodak Easyshare CX6200 with an astonishing 2 megapixels, a fixed focal length lens of 37mm. An impulse buy due to the price because I didn't had done any research. Still snapping away with little or no care about how I could take better pictures.

It also broke and for a while I had no camera.

In 2006 I decided that I needed a new camera. Also didn't research much, and ended up buying a camera due to a promotion. This time a Canon Powershot A540 came home, and only after I had bought the camera I did some research and to my surprise the camera was actually reasonable. The camera still lives and powers up. Still no clue about what I was doing when taking pictures.

Because the A540 was bulky, in 2009 I bought another camera, but one that was small and pocketable. This time I did my research and ended up with another Canon, an IXUS 100 IS. I think it was by this time that I started to notice that my photos were not very good, or at least that they could be better, a lot better. I really cannot blame the camera, the fault is all on the photographer.

Last year, and after a lot of though, research, and thinking a bit on what I wanted and on my limitations, I ended up buying, yes another Canon, an SX220 HS, a called "travel zoom" camera. It's a bit better than all my previous cameras, it has manual modes to fiddle with, it has some zoom and it takes decent pictures with low light for a compact camera.

(Insert again flashback harp music here along with swirly images)

Yes, I know, it's still a compact camera, not a DSLR or a mirrorless. And I also know that the camera is just a small part of the equation.

But somehow this camera, despite all of its limitations, and the photos it allowed me to take ignited my interest for photography. I wanted to take better pictures of the people I love, of my pets, of animals and insects, of nature, of landscapes, of strangers, of my travels, of objects, of the mundane and everyday life, of everything that might interest me.

I also started to research for other peoples photographs and I was mesmerized with what they were doing with cameras, lenses, light and software. I wanted to do similar things.

So now, I already know the basics and I'm learning a bit more every day and I'm already planning to buy a new camera (this time probably not a Canon), but not quite there yet. I think I can still learn a bit more with this one and take few more thousand shots. I know myself and don't want to buy a new toy so it will end up in my shame box.

One side effect of photography is that I fail often and most of my shots are not good, but I will get there.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bonus - Have fun

The sky was clear and the view was just breathtaking.
You know It won't be fun all the time. Sometimes you only realize that you had fun when you finished something, the process might not feel fun at the time. 

However I think one must try to find and do things that are fun to us. 

You also shouldn't try to follow an ideal of what you should be doing or liking, like enjoying jazz music instead of commercial pop music because you are all grown up now, or reading more classical novels and ditching the chick lit that you really like just because other people do it. 

I'm not saying that you shouldn't try to do different things, but if you don't have fun or enjoy it while your doing it, probably you shouldn't be doing it.

Other people might not get it, but you shouldn't worry to much about it. The important is that you enjoy it.

Currently I'm in the process of relearning about things that I like and are fun to me. Some of them I already know and appreciate, but, again, as time went by I stopped doing, stopped experimenting and learning to a degree that now I really miss.

Well, let's kick this blog into action and start having fun.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bonus - Fail

One of my failed photo attempts for the Do post.
I think that in the tech world failure is currently a trend. Companies and people want to know fast if they are onto something, or if they are on the wrong path, and then decide to pivot or just start over and try something else.

But outside the tech world failure is still not an option and is seen with suspicion  and as something bad. If you fail the reason is probably that you are not good enough and you are not up for the job. As a consequence people avoid taking chances and stay on the safe path, they won't learn, they won't grow, but also they won't be criticized. They maintain a strange form of lethargy, keep your head low and don't make waves.

As for me, I think that failure is a good thing, you learn one more way on how not to do something, you learn that you should try something else.

But this is what I think, in reality, I don't like failing. I don't try much, I don't do much, I don't fail much but... I also don't learn much. I'm also afraid of being criticized and I don't put myself in situations where I will probably fail... situations where I can also succeed.

This is one of the reasons why this blog is written in English (not my native language), because it's certain that I will fail and make mistakes. The other reason being that it forces me to think and write in a different way making me leave my comfort zone and not be in auto-pilot.

If I don't put myself out there for failure, I'm also not taking chances on succeeding.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Learn

National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
I really loved to learn, specially when I was younger. I would go through a encyclopaedia reading article by article. I would see something on the TV and would try to replicate it by my own, like the time when tried several times to make a kite after seeing some cartoons. I tried some materials like plastic, paper, wood or cane, several construction techniques like using strings or glue, and different shapes for the kite. In the end I arrived to a combination that was actually functional and fun and I was very pleased. I had conquered the air by myself.

When we grow we tend to forget this learning model, to try, to experiment, to fail and eventually succeed, because failure is usually not an option. We want to arrive to the solution fast, cut all corners and take every imaginable shortcut available, and the process is lost, because we tend to see it as a waste of time. I tend to be more satisfied when I learn by myself by doing, experimenting and failing, and I have the impression that the knowledge lingers more deeply in my head.

I feel a bit stagnant in learning and in my personal growth, I read a lot, but it's not enough, because I read and, despite of my interest on the subject, most of the times I also forget.

My hope is to use this blog as an excuse and motivation to start, to do, learn and grow.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Do


This is the second post and by now you may have spotted a pattern and already guessed the title of the third post.

During my childhood I would start and do things, anything as long as I wanted to do it, I would do it. I would build it, fail sometimes, tweak a bit here and there and learn from the process. And yes, I would have fun, lots of fun and the time just would fly by.

As I grew up, I became more and more passive towards everything. Example, I used to draw and liked it (does not mean that I'm good at it), but by the time I reached University I didn't do it at all.

And now? Now most of my time, even at work, is passed consuming media in a very mindless way. I'm constantly refreshing and going to my bookmarks to see what else is new and time also flies by, but I have no recollection of most it.

I made a few weak tries to change this, but it usually involves buying some gear to do whatever is my new goal, I don't do it and then everything just is tucked away in my shame box.

By now I was ready to write some kind of manifesto of what this blog is going to be, but I still don't know. I will write, try to start and do more things.

And for now, it's all I got.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Start.*

Just start!
The idea has been lingering in my mind for sometime now, I wanted to start something. Something that would make me start more things, do more, learn, probably fail and have fun while doing it.

So this blog came to life. Still don't know exactly what it's going to be really about, but I'll figure things out along the way.

This first post thing is always awkward, so let's get this thing out of the way and just start.

(*) Convenient title for the post and the blog.