Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal

Photographed within minutes of each other, on the back deck. She's at the feeder while he's in the woods a few feet away. 31jan2010 (I've got my species correctly identified this time.)

iPhone Diaries #52 "looking for Curious George"

Seen at an intersection in Guelph. The text at the bottom reads: "EXTREME sentimental value. Please help bring George home to broken-hearted little boy". For real!

Skating at Nathan Phillips Square, Jan2010

"In the name of the..."

Netherworld...a moment in Time.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

WinterCity Festival, Nathan Phillips Square, Jan2010

Time Is...
Inspired by the seasons and passing of time, this poetic show transposes an astounding vision of traditional and contemporary China onto a vertical world of dragons, lanterns, kites, the Lion and Fan dance, and Kung Fu choreography featuring 14 synchronized performers.
A spectacular aerial production by Compagnie Les Passagers (France) combine theatre, dance, and acrobatics, all performed to original music scores on a massive vertical stage at Nathan Phillips square, Toronto. (From the WinterCity Festival programme)
More photos and videos (plus technical details) are available for viewing at:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo on my iPhone

Andy Barrie from CBC's Metro Morning mentioned a free application for the iPhone and iTouch. This free app is called Stanza. One can download a vast selection of over 100,000 books and periodicals. I hit the motherlode with their selection of Philosophy books, from Aristotle and Plato to Nietzche and Heidegger to Russell. That's all well and good. But what I really wanted was the English version of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, not available locally, as far as I know. So I thought, "why not do a search on Stanza?"
Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo are novels written by Filipino writer and supreme national hero Jose Rizal. Both books "were instrumental in creating a unified Filipino national identity and consciousness..." see
Much to my surprise and elation, both were on the Lexcycle Online Catalog, which is accessed by Stanza. Other Rizal books online were El Consejo de los Dioses, An Eagle Flight, The Indolence of the Filipino, Ang Liham ni Dr. Jose Rizal sa mga Kadalagahan sa Malolos, Bulakan, Rizal sa Harap ng Bayan, Filipinas Dentro De Cien Anos (Estudio Politico-Social), Mi Ultimo Adios, etc.
A veritable treasure trove. Sadly for me, most of the books are in Spanish, the language of my father and his father before him but not mine (one book was in Dutch, others in Tagalog) and it seems that the English versions available were only recently released. There are indications that English versions will be available for the rest, soon.
Please note that Noli is also known as Friars and Filipinos in the English translation and Fili is The Reign of Greed in the English version. The Social Cancer is a must-read for putting everything that Rizal writes about in context.
(one more reason to get an iPhone)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

House Finch (I thought this was a female Cardinal)

Male House Finch (Female cardinal at the feeder, 10jan2010. The male Cardinal is perched on a tree closeby, keeping an eye on this female.)

Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove on the deck 10jan2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

iPhone Diaries #51 "a set of books to treasure"

Thanks to Craigslist (and to the kind lady who sold me these, her late husband's books), I have in my possession a set of books that was instrumental in nourishing my passion for photography. It's the complete 14-volume set of the Life Library of Photography from Time-Life Books, published in 1981-1983. I saw it on Craigslist 2 days ago, made a call, and picked it up today. All for the princely sum of $25CDN! If I remember correctly, each book cost $19.95 25 years ago! It is difficult, nigh near impossible, to find a set in pristine condition, at any price.
I used to borrow these books from the library, paid the overdue fines, and reborrowed. All 14 were never in the same library! In my opinion, this set of books was, and still is, the best source of information and inspiration for the aspiring photographer, even in this digital age.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"I remember Turo"

For over a year now, since he died shortly after I met him after not having seen or talked to him for almost 32 years, I still can't seem to shake off the memory of Turo (Arturo) Dionson. It's not an unpleasant feeling at all...melancholy perhaps. I am drawn to writing about him because I admired his ordinariness and quiet endurance. He had cause to complain about his lot in life but what I will always remember when I saw him for the last time in mid-2008 was his serene smile.
He was a third cousin, meaning our grandparents were first cousins. He was the illegitimate son of my mother's second cousin, forsaken by his father (for whom he was named after) from the very beginning, not treated like a "real" grandson by his grandparents. He was older than I by a few years. He played soccer well. He was very pleasant and kind, not a mean bone in his body. We weren't close; he was just another cousin out of 50+ cousins in town.
Then we lost contact with each other for 31 years. By an accident of birth, I ended up in Canada with its bounty and good fortune. He stayed in the Philippines, doing what everyone else does to make a living. It is not an easy life.
We met each other for the first time (since 1977) in Aug 2008. We talked about old times, the travails of being a parent. I am familiar with what it takes to survive in the Philippines; it is not easy. Unless one is born in that environment, one can't imagine what the life is like. One lives from day to day, week to week. One is never sure where tomorrow's food money is coming from. The worst is the feeling of utter helplessness in providing for your children!
Turo didn't talk about such things with me; knowing him, he would have felt it an imposition. He was proud of his son, he was proud his soccer skills were still intact, and he was very happy to see me. I was very happy to see him; it reinforced my belief in the capacity of man to endure. I gave him all the soccer jerseys I have owned through the years playing in local recreational leagues.
Turo died the following month, presumably of a heart attack. I loved him for himself and for what he stood for. He didn't waste time being unhappy. He knew what was important in this life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

iPhone Diaries #48 "Tattoo Sign"

This lively and garish sign on a quiet, darkened storefront struck me as like a beer-sodden, friendly surprise jab in the gut of a moist, snowy, and silent Guelph evening, as if saying, "hey buddy, long time no see!"
Taken last night, Jan 5th, on Macdonell Street, close to the Albion Inn and Tavern.

iPhone Diaries #47 "The lights of Macdonell Street, Guelph, Jan 5, 2010"

The iPhone Diaries - a description

A back-to-basics, less-is-more, photographic project. As photographers, we are inundated (and jaded) by the plethora of digital devices, the latest ones promising (but not delivering the goods) more megapixels and the latest super-ultra-extreme-XLT processor to (potentially) allow everyone to be the best photographer that they could be.
The most popular camera used by Flickr uploaders is the cameraphone (the Canon Rebel Series comes in second). For me, using my cameraphone is an exercise in purging the mind of clutter, as well as in actually shooting on a regular basis, as opposed to "binge" shooting (1600+ clicks on a typical wedding). The limitations imposed by the cameraphone (low resolution, fixed lens, severely reduced dynamic range) forces me to work within these parameters. For example, I have to use my feet to compose the image; I don't have a zoom lens. I am now a slave to how the camera thinks; I can't adjust the exposure to suit my needs. This is the digital Polaroid.
The best camera in the world is the camera that you have with you and that you actually use. The best advise for the "artist" is to practice their craft on a consistent basis. Sketch if you're a painter, sculpt if you're a sculptor, shoot if you're a photographer.
So I leave the 21MP FF Canon with the L lenses at home; I use my iPhone whenever I can.