September 28, 2010

Arkonaut

Posted in Movies&Books, Uncategorized tagged , at 10:33 pm by ancienttrails

The problem with having many things to write about is finding the time to write about them. But sometimes certain sudden realizations occur, and the remembrance of very dear things overcomes sleep, tiredness, affairs – in short: all the daily fuss that keeps us buzzing all day, day after day.

Ark, latest Brendan Perry’s album, is finally out. I’ve been waiting for it for a while this spring, then forgot about it – as we usually do with things that do not meet our expectations within a certain deadline. But hidden forces of the universe are never to be underestimated, and tonight I’ve come across the entire album on youtube, which, to say the least, brightened my…night (since the moon just started to diminish).

From Babylon to Crescent, it brought me back in time to the 29th of March 2010, a cool spring night in Bucharest at Brendan Perry’s concert, an out of time experience which still lingers vividly in my memory. I never thought the voice of a man could make the outer world fade away, while bringing to the surface a universe of mixed emotions about mankind and human nature. I felt speechless, insignificant, and yet holding the power to change the world.

This post is not about Ark, you can find its meanings deciphered by its author here: http://ark.brendan-perry.com/ or listen to the album by yourself. It is also not about a certain concert…the ones in the audience – most of them in their thirties or even more – have had their own experience that may not be shared.

It’s just about remembering to ponder on certain things around us, ‘cause

Sometimes is hard for us to find the truth
In a world we no longer seem to understand
But don’t let them break us and don’t let them nail us
Into boxes for the old man’s parade

(From This Boy)

PS: Many thanks to kiddo for taking me to the concert – one of my best birthday’s gifts.

February 24, 2010

Climbing Rocks!

Posted in The Rambling Neuron, Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:16 am by ancienttrails

I’ve finally decided to share it with the world – the “double entendre” in the title is not random 🙂 – after being a bit reluctant about writing this post. Returning to an old hobby is not an easy thing, but in this case it proved an unexpectedly enriching experience, and the best is yet to come 🙂
When I first took up climbing some years ago it was because I was afraid of heights, and not only, and unfortunately didn’t get very far with it due to a series of exterior constraints, but what I immediately liked about it is it being a very demanding sport both mentally and physically. It so happened that the planets aligned favourably some time ago and I got back to it, and this time there’s no room for quitting.

I’m not by far a qualified person to talk about climbing, there is a lot to learn yet, however if you consider taking up climbing, these may be some useful thoughts coming from a “beginner” (to be read with French accent) 🙂
1. Do not get discouraged if you feel uncomfortable and not at ease at first, that’s why you’re there, to learn about yourself (you’re one lucky bastard if you do feel comfortable though)
2. This is not the gym, so going once a month won’t take you anywhere…it requires time and training, so consider allocating it at least 1-2 times per week.
3. Focus and forget about everything else when you’re climbing, or as someone was saying, think that your life depends on it…it will, one day. Don’t exagerrate though!
4. Don’t look down, except at your feet…photoshop the rest 🙂 and you’ll feel better.
5. Don’t forget that in the end, it’s all about playing and feeling good, so try even the things that seem a bit crazy at first (like blindfold climbing) and you’ll be surprised with the results.
6. If it gets you to smile or even laugh before the end of it, then maybe you should do it again..just a thought 🙂

And finally, here are some mundane tips regarding climbing (mainly for women, but who knows, guys might find them useful as well with the new trends :p): a) wearing high heels will be an extremely easy thing after two weeks in climbing shoes (no, not continously, for God’s sake) and b) “no jar will ever be too hard to open”, which may prove very helpful when you’re in a hurry in the morning and that non-obeying honey jar fights back 🙂

February 5, 2010

Russians do write good sci-fi

Posted in Movies&Books, Uncategorized tagged , , at 12:14 am by ancienttrails

Going to a bookshop from time to time is not always a waste of time, as opposed to browsing electronic bookshops. It reminded me of an old highschool (yes, that old! :)) goal I had after seeing the “Stalker” of Tarkovski and finding out that it was inspired by a novel of Arkadi & Boris Strugatski, or the “Strugatski brothers” as they are also called. My reasoning at that time was something along the lines “Ok, I don’t understand a thing of this film…therefore a) maybe the book will help and/or b) what have the Strugatski brothers written there so that it turned into this film I do not get…” (yes, I was very optimistic). At that time I couldn’t find any of their books though, I remember even trying the public library but everything was always already lent. Anyway, this is not a post about the Stalker (though one will come soon), so I return to the initial story. Seeing the name of my favourite Russians on the new cover of a book, I bought it and read it (or, more properly, devoured it :)).

The Waves Extinguish the Wind (a.k.a The Time Wanderers) is a sort of an X-file written as a memoire but also as a documented case-study which remains in the archives. I loved it immediately for many reasons, but here are a few of them: (a) this kind of writing forces the reader to have an active role, to feel like a detective who discovers dusty manuscripts and tries to put together the facts, (b) it conveys authenticity to the story and (c) it reminded me of an old project I had.

The wiki page describes in a few paragraphs the plot of the book…but in my opinion there is no plot in this book, or at least, it is much more subtle than what appears to be the plot. I would dare say the plot is not the story of Toivo Glumov, but the tiny un-developed plots of the characters surrounding him: his friend and boss Kammerer, his wife and his mother (the latter being barely mentioned), the young Kir and the old lady, the sourcerer, and even the un-told story of the past activities of Toivo in other worlds (which he himself admits hating).

As in all good sci-fi, Strugatski play here almost constantly with the change of paradigm and the intensity of the psychological reactions of humankind is impressive, as well as the technicality of such analysis. The good and the bad are reduced to their relative value at cosmic levels (from the perspective of a race), and the level of development of the humankind both in terms of physical potential (see the fukamisation procedure) and psychological perception are also questioned. Toivo may not prevent becoming what he is, and it doesn’t matter that much if there have been internal of external causes that led to this end (dilemma suggested by the wiki page).

Our perception remains limited to the extent of the current knowledge, and certain boundaries may not be removed. However, one cannot refrain from reflecting upon at least two main questions: “What course is humankind taking?” and “What responses may I give, as an individual, to the chanllenges of the universe?”…but there are so many others.

I guess it’s time to stop now, ’cause I already feel like reading the book again 🙂

February 4, 2010

Almost 28 days later

Posted in The Rambling Neuron, Things That Bother Me tagged , , at 10:59 pm by ancienttrails

If you recall (or just read) my previous burst of (out)rage against authority abuses (a.k.a. Communism is not dead!), I promised a follow-up. Hope you didn’t expect much of it, because I made the mistake to actually expect some decent feedback. What happened is that I talked to the administrator and let her know about the abusive request and showed her that for the so-called update of the building’s book there’s no legal ground for a request for one’s employer details…nor as a matter of fact for one’s size in shoes. She was fond to hear about this, however I didn’t get any feedback..neither what the police said, nor how they reacted or anything else, which was quite of a dissapointment.

There is however a good part about making such a fuss about this, not necessarily here but among my friends. Turns out, last week I hear that the “disease” is spreading, and that the respective abusive request has been made in other buildings as well, and I’m asked for the antidote against it. Well, if it’s your case as well, here it is: Romanian Government Decision 839/2006 sets out the content of the building’s book, and there’s no reference whatsoever in there about your employer, your hobbies, your hate thoughts or your wanting to kill your neighbour’s dog. Use it wisely!

January 8, 2010

Communism is not dead!

Posted in The Rambling Neuron, Things That Bother Me tagged , , at 12:31 am by ancienttrails

It’s been a while…and apparently it had to be something that pissed me off quite badly in order to write about it. So, as I was gloriously walking home one evening, I find a notice in the building informing everyone that certain data must be provided to the administration for the update of something called “building’s book”, namely the name and contact details of one’s employer, as requested by the local police.
The speed with which blood circulated through my veins in that moment must have exceeded some cosmic limits, and I was about to rip off the damn thing when I said to myself that I should not jump to conclusions so fast…and just check from what level this abuse comes from: high-up or down-below?
As it might be expected, it’s just the down-below involved…of course there’s no such data required by the piece of law dealing with the said registry, and even if there would have been, this would have been utterly illegal and against any proportionality principle between purpose of the request and data requested.
But I cannot refrain from wondering what’s next? The size you’re wearing? Your favourite colour? If you snore? How many times you have sex daily? What you dream? What you fear?
And in the end, I actually don’t get it…if they want, they know it anyway, so why do they bother asking? So that you know they know? You should know it anyway. What I find interesting is that such abusive request is made with such guts and in reliance on ignorance, fear or rooted obedience or a combination thereof.
I’m also curious about my neighbours’ reaction to such request when letting them know it’s abusive…somehow I have the feeling it will be quite disappointing.
I’ll keep you posted!

December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:38 am by ancienttrails

November 30, 2009

Par Toutatis!…The Romans are coming!

Posted in Exhibitions, Travel Stories tagged , , , , at 12:34 am by ancienttrails

The French are not necessarily known for being brilliant when it comes to humour, however genius does strike this nation once in a while. Fortunately this happened with René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo when they decided to create Asterix & Obelix. And because their anniversary this year could not have passed unnoticed, a very nice parisian exhibition has been dedicated to them at Clunny Museum, as well as an anniversary edition (the Golden Book) which I enjoyed very much.

The exhibition gathers original sketches, the gaelic fictional map of France, scenarios and of course advertisings of the most famous editions. I hope the images below will give you the gist of a very nice afternoon in their company 🙂

Unfortunately had to remove some of them because of the long time of their loading 😦

November 8, 2009

The Internet Addiction

Posted in Things That Bother Me, Travel Stories tagged , , at 1:52 am by ancienttrails

Thinking MoodI always knew more or less that I can no longer survive without my daily dose of Internet, but now I make it official. And I don’t necessarily think I should get a cure for it. On the contrary, as water and sewage supply have entered the daily routine of our civilisation, Internet access should follow this trend and no longer be such a precious and expensive commodity.

From this point of view (one of the very few), I actually love my country. There is no urge for securing a wifi (at least not yet, and I hope it stays this way). And although I do not particularly like any of my (or anyone else’s) neighbours, until now I do not know of any case of angry fellows knocking at one’s door because one is using their bandwidth. I know very well the arguments for which it would be recommendable that each of us keeps his own network for his own business (yes, I do not have a gender problem), but until the time when temporary Internet access becomes affordable and accessible on a large scale basis, I consider it a “civil” alternative.

So what exactly can you do, as a civilized person accustomed to daily Internet access (a.k.a an Internet addict by the barbarians), in more “civilized” countries?

The very-lucky-bastard and utopian option – you check-in someplace where there is a permanent Internet connection, or your hotel is decent enough (and by that I do not mean expensive, on the contrary) to allow a free access to its residents (you pay enough anyway for the accommodation). Of course, this may be outdone by also having access at work or in the places you spend the rest of your time.

The moderately fortunate solution – the society where you’ve just landed is relaxed enough so that public places such as cafes provide you with a wifi, as a token of their will to make you feel comfortable and welcome, and of course, spend money, but that’s besides the point. This, of course, does not happen anymore so often because of “the crisis”. Or alternately, if the public place in question is McDonald’s, you’d end up having some real stomach issues if you’d choose to go there daily…quite a difficult choice there.

The potentially fortunate solution – you find a neighbour at the door of which you knock, asking not for a spoon of sugar or flour, as in the old times, but for “the key to the world” (a.k.a. his wifi – and you’d better say it correctly so that he doesn’t understand that you would like to temporarily use his wife instead). This of course presents several disadvantages such as the frustration of going to knock at some stranger’s door – and if the stranger answering happens to look somehow weird, you’ll be rather dissuaded to try the next door.

The “friend with a subscription” solution – you have a friend or a relative (tough if you don’t want to visit or call them), or a friend-of-a-friend, that is blessed with all the advantages of a normal person having a permanent subscription, which means that he/she may lend you a 3G or only the codes for accessing the hotspots. The first case would still be a blessing, the second is more of a nightmare, because unless you find the right angle to get the signal (which may mean that you could also try yoga positions ultimately or get weird looks from people looking at you while you strall with your laptop in several directions trying to measure maybe the wind speed) you’re lost. And even if you do catch the signal, you’ll be disconnected every 10 minutes, and you’ll wait like in the dial-up times for a page to load….but it’s still something.

The very expensive and tick-tick-tock solution – you go to an internet cafe (oh, such rare species now) or you get a 3G stick and rechargeable cards, and your ruin begins. First, because what is advertised as “internet starting from 1€” (or even more) are usually just 15 minutes. Alternately, if you have a 3G, besides the initial fee, any new “dose” varies from something like 3€ for half-an-hour or 25€ for a third of a day. What is this, heroin? Let’s face it, if it would be illegal, it would probably be less expensive.

In the last week I’ve managed to survive by a strange combination of these options – fortunately I did not get to the yoga positions though, otherwise I’d probably be in the hospital at this point, nor got killed by any quiet-killer neighbour. Nevertheless, I cannot but wonder how long it will take until we manage to get rid of this kind of frustration, by becoming a place where Internet access is no longer such a luxury, simply because it is not justified by the actual state of the art. And of course, although there are still places on earth where water and sewage supply is a luxury, let’s hope we’re not moving also in the wrong direction.

P.S.: And many thanks to everyone that helped with my survival during this last week, I hope you enjoy this post. 🙂

October 28, 2009

New born!

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:29 pm by ancienttrails

It’s alive and kicking!

I finally decided to join the cybernetic age and its miracles (sic!) and leave my comfortable den of ignorant anonymity. How is it gonna be like? Well, guess you’ll see for yourself if you stick around.