Thursday, August 25, 2011

On wisdom...

Years (literally) after TKC told me that ai-hanmi is omote and gyaku-hanmi is ura I slowly begin to understand what he meant... It's amazing how certain things need to grow and mature inside you for you to be able to comprehend them... Or - if you prefer - how you need to grow up and mature to comprehend certain things you already have ;-)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On chicks and aliens - edited

I go to the bar and there are loads of beautiful women here in Kenya, and most of them - sadly - chasing after white dude. It feels a bit like being a rock & roll celebrity... Of course all of this is fake, but it still is there nonetheless, all of it right at your face. And they can be very persisting. Unfortunately sometimes it gets to the point that unless you tell her in the face to fuck off they will not let go. And I do not like being this rude...

So I am sitting at the bar sipping on Corona and thinking of the good old times in Mexico when this really beautiful girl takes a place next to me and tries to strike a conversation. Agenda is obvious - to get the white guy. But after very few words I realize that - as getting laid would be easy - getting to actually talk would not. Even though she did actually try. These people, especially those who were brought up outside Nairobi (or Mombasa) have such a different view of the world that makes any conversation impossible. It's not just that they do listen to different music and do not know who Pink Floyd or Franz Kafka were. Apart from biological similarities some of them are as alien as dolphins. Apart from drive for sex there is no common point. Their culture, education (if any), tradition, language, set of values... it is so different from ours that it actually put you in a very weird spot. I looked at this beautiful girl and thought that she being there at the hand reach and so willing... this made me feel so alien... All I wanted was to talk. But talk is not possible. Understanding is not possible. Sex? Sure, that has no value here (unlike for our culture). Money? Sure, people were forced to learn. But talk? Discussion? Exchange of thoughts? Forget it... So again - quite predictably - nothing happened...

But then it struck me - if communication with our own kind is so difficult - how can we ever hope to communicate with Aliens? We can communicate on this very superficial level, but can we hope to ever understand them?

And also - the same I guess applies to Arabs, Chinese, Indians, all of those who were not heavily exposed to Western culture. It is a cliche, but unless you experience it yourself you will never understand how deep and dramatic this divide is. And all these cultures co-exist here in Kenya parallel to each other, meet on very superficial level but do not mix, do not exchange thought, values, ideas...

And then we - Europeans - are surprised the Turkish live in Germany in their enclaves... Of course they do. Same shit, different place...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Longonot: take six

I have been to this mountain / crater already several times, but it is always nice to re-visit this place.

And yes, I am wearing Cebe Supermarks ;-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dangerous skies

So we sit today at the canteen enjoying (not so good) lunch. Table just next to us was deserted, but plates were left there with some leftovers. And as we eat - a huge (and I mean - huge) eagle swooshes by and picks up some of them leftovers. And this reminds me of a time I was in Mamba Village and had food there and I walk with my plate from the bar to hide from the sun under garden umbrellas when another of those big ones flies by and rips food off my plate. Not at empty table, but from a plate I was holding in my hand. Then I looked around and I saw that natives were shielding their food with another plate or just with their elbows so that the big birds can see they can't fit in there... But that was close to National Park. Today we were in the city centre and still your food was not safe. Today one dude brought his plate to the table outside and then went back to collect cutlery. As he was gone the bird flew in and picked up a piece of meat and flew away without stopping. One smooth swooosh of giant wings - said birds were at least 1.2 meters wingspan. We were there perhaps 20 minutes and this monster flew by at least 8 - 10 times... And this reminds me the other day I was doing iaido on my roof and was attacked on the back of my head by one of them monsters... Just a pass by - it flew away before I realized what was going on... Good for him, I had already my katana in my hand... And now seriously - where else are you forced to fight your your food (which already is on your plate) with eagles? How cool is that...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On Japanese swords and guitars

So after a lot of dreaming and bitching and moaning I finally got my first wah-wah. This one:

Thanks, Rado ;-)

And this is where the work begins... It's just like iaido. In playing guitar you first have to coordinate fingers on fretboard with fingers strumming the strings. But when you add wah-wah then you have to add coordination of your foot. You want the wah to be in right position when you touch the strings, open (or close) it as soon as you play the sound and you want to return wah to starting position before you string another chord. First strings then wah... Strings then wah... and so on.

In iaido it's first step then cut. Not: cut while stepping, not: cut before step... First step then cut. Step then cut...

Same shit ;-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

On revisiting old statements

My D-SLR history was like this Nikon D70, then Nikon D200 and then Nikon D700. I was really, and I mean really happy with D200. This was the best camera I ever had, it had perfect balance of pro functions with acceptable price point and pictures were silky butter smooth...

I think that in photography (but not only) people tend to compensate for not having time for it by buying newer, more expensive equipment. I also wanted to take better pictures but had no time to play with my camera, lenses, filters... So I bought better body (read - more expensive) even though the previous one was just perfect. Of course my photographic skills have not improved but for some time I quenched my thirst for new toys ;-)

When Nikon announced D700 it initially looked like natural evolutionary step forward from D200. Yet there were some things I did not like about it, I think I wrote on that like 2 - 3 years ago... One of those functions I dismissed as unnecessary gimmick was LiveView. I seriously thought I would never use this function. The same is ability for movie making - if I want to make a movie I will buy a movie camera - for me D-SLR is for taking still pictures. The other day a friend asked me if he can use my camera for some MPEG encoding tests (don't even ask) and I realized I didn't know how to make a movie with my D700! BTW - I still do not know...

Yet yesterday we were camping at Naivasha lake and I dug out Hoya R72 infrared filter and I put it on AF 50mm f/1.4 and tried to take some pictures... I set exposure compensation to +2.0 EV and snapped some test pics... The filter is so dark that even in full equatorial sun I could see nothing in viewfinder. The way forward is to set the camera on tripod, compose pic, find focus points, etc. and then put on filter and then snap pre-composed picture. But I had left my tripod back in Nairobi... That left me snapping frantically random pictures without any idea of what the outcome would be... Pure example of hip shooting ;-) Then, after a while I played with menus and  knobs and so on until I reached dreaded LiveView function... And the camera translated picture with +2.0 EV and showed it to me on the screen! I could aim again! Not through optical viewfinder, but though camera rear screen. It was difficult in full sun - you do not get to see much, but with shading the screen with your hand you do get the idea of what image composition is and so on... So I take all my bitching about LiveView back - if you shoot IR - it does come handy... Some samples below.





P.S. I know I should've swapped red and blue channels in Photoshop, but it just choose to crash yesterday evening...