Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Vivid Sydney 2011

Well… I am still getting ready to publish the bazillion pictures I took last Saturday on this fantastic show called Vivid Sydney.

Vivid is a very quiet yet colourful and marvellous that it represents the great (and simple) things you could create with a bunch of lasers, lights and an outstanding building.

This post is the first part of ‘Vivid Sydney’ post series and the next one will contain no less than 30 full colour pictures capture by me :) (My camera actually).

Here you will find a time laps of the show, enjoy it

Friday, May 27, 2011

Falling low...

Yes... I have falling very low... and I had to make a post of it...

I am still struggling how to put this into words... especially when I have said before that I would hate myself if I ever opened... I found hard and strong, like a knight would fight a dragon, trying to slay it just to proof his bravery, chivalry and honour... but at the end the fool dies saving a friend, a hot chick or just something as stupid as treasures...

Something that life has taught me is that when you have a problem... you got to share it with a friend because it will give you the first step in a very long recovery; that first step is called recognition of your problem.

There is no good way to say it... so here I go...

I... I have opened a twitter account...

Yes... I can't believe it either...
Can't say that I was forced, neither I did it by mistake... I was totally aware and in control of my faculties.
Image from brutalion

Yes, I did... 

so sorry fellas... Now I will be able to share my silly and stupid thoughts in twitter as well instead of having it contained and concentrated on this blog.

The little blue bird who tweets...
Image from alpercakici

So if you want to follow me (yeah right) you could do it @rodrigoelp; I will try to do my best to not let you down and share good stuff.

Cheers and till next time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I have to finish Perth’s post series and I wanted to end in a very positive note, those things I liked the most about it. In a way, I need this positive note right now because of different factors:
  • Firstly, the hideous migraine has been visiting me more frequent in the past few weeks and is highly probable that I am not handling it right.
  • Secondly, sometimes I feel I am not at my best at work... I really would like to give more of me but I have been bumping against walls and I haven’t been clever enough to early detect it and change accordingly.
  • And thirdly, I just need to get a couple of things out of head to make room for new ones.

In response to those points I have decided to take a sit (while I eat a meat pie) and start taking a look to 23 gig of pictures recently taken, stored in my hard drive and share with you a couple more of our Perth adventure.

As you may have already read in previous posts (such as 'hop hop hop and off to Perth we go', 'how did we get to Perth', 'Perth first impressions' and 'Comparison Sydney/Perth'), Kathy and I went to Perth to spend some time with close friends and the result was outstanding; our friends were delighted taking us out every single day (to all of them I am truly grateful) trying to sell us the best of their city and nearby areas; we were delighted as well with their attentions, treatment and love.

Even though I have written a comparison between Sydney and Perth, impressions and a very descriptive report of how Virgin Blue raped our wallets took us to there, I felt obliged to add those things I liked the most from Perth, and here there are:

Bell tower

Also known as the home of the Swan Bells(1) is a gorgeous crystal and copper building between the Perth’s CBD and the swan river; it was built to host 18 bells provided by city of London and the British and Australian mining company in commemoration of Australia bicentenary.

Colours and shapes... that incredibly attractive, isn't?

I don’t know if I am in love of the wave-alike shape, or its similitude with the Opera House, but truly is a magnificent building that everyone has to visit once in Perth.

I love that shape, it was extremely well played and beautifully finished.
We got there elevenish with the purpose of walking around the city, have some meal and keep our tour, Kathy took advantage of our good friend to take as many pictures as possible (and took my camera and started taking pictures of whatever; it really did not matter what it was, she was taking a picture of it. Meanwhile I stood there watching it, impressed with the shape and how crystal-like fragile seems to be as seen from the outside with its huge amounts of glass and its two shells on each side. It kind of reminds you a big, big clamp with a piece of glass on its middle and I was totally intrigued about the internal structure and the sound that could produce. So we walked in all the way to the highest level we could get... and at that precise moment, a bunch of blokes and two ladies started pulling the cords through series of pulley, generating leverage on the mechanism that finally rotated the bells, striking its clapper against the walls of the metal cup, making a very loud ‘CLANK!!!!’ followed by other different clanks and bangs which variates on intensity; pushing the entire structure to its maximum, vibrating its pillars inducing you into the feeling of being in a boat with small shakes every now and then. At first I could not understand how the entire building was moving just by the fact of someone playing the bells... till I actually got the look of the 2 metres high bells and weight up to 1480 Kilos.

From level 5 of the bell tower the view is outstanding

I know there are plenty of stuff in Perth, and some of those could be even more important than the Bell Tower, but for me this building casted a magic spell on me and now is one of my favourite modern buildings in the entire world (right behind the Sydney Opera House, Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Chrysler Building in New York City).

The Swan River

Water has been always a topic of fascination among the human kind and I am not the exception to the rule.

Our first encounter with it was while our welcome committee was picking us from the airport and driving us to Maccas (McDonalds, btw) while our friend Victor told us ‘Now that you are looking at the swan river you must feel great, don’t you? Is here where is celebrated the biggest event of Australia... Perth Skyworks...’ to what I remember and made the immediate analogy of the grateful and independent republic of Zulia (one state in Venezuela where anyone and everyone believes they are not Venezuelans, they are citizens of Zulia which has been giving the royal honour to Venezuela to be part of it). Anyway, I took a look to the brownish waters, the shores and the view around it. It wasn’t something extraordinary and I must say I could not understand why lots of people were so excited about the river... I mean, the water wasn’t crystal clear as the Parramata River (in some areas I must remark), beside the bell tower, the blue house (to which I still don’t know its name) and the CBD’s view from the south shore I could not find any extraordinary thing about it...
One of the multiple points were you could stop and enjoy the view.
Is not precisely in the swan river shore.
Our second encounter was the next day, Victor took us around to show us the beaches and nice spots to take pictures, and it was in one of those incursions that I saw a couple of old folks in their boat placidly driving it in the calmed waters. Maybe it was a matter of scale or maybe it was the moment, but I felt like part of it, so nice and relaxing... and I started wondering... is this the feeling some of the pertains have talked about?

Third encounter, fourth day of our holidays, driving to the Swan Bells and then to the blue house (that I am going to show the picture in a bit) to take pictures and I realised the entire city is surround it by the river, like a huge serpent around a leaf... a big leaf obviously. So pretty much anything you want to do in the water will be probably on the river.

A black and white image of the Swan river and Perth CBD
I know... it looks extremely small...
Click on it to see a bigger version of it.
Fourth encounter, our last day there, we were coming back home from an amazing meal in ‘Eat Greek’, an all-you-can-eat restaurant where our friends took us to give us the farewell and enjoy with us the last night. Driving us back home we notice bunch of cars parked on the kerb (as well as a police patrol) staring at the water. We wondered what could be that impressive when it happened, dolphins jumping out and in, teasing between each other and teasing people to throw them things and then keep playing between them and with the occasional new visitor. It was an incredible and magical experience which I did not capture in photos (I am very sorry).

The blue house on the river, known as Crawley edge boatshed
You start understanding that is not just a river... is pretty much the entire view of Perth. It gives them life, it gives them joy... the Swan River makes Perth what it is, a nice and peaceful place full of gorgeous sceneries, outgoing people and relax above all.

Sculptures around the city

In different occasions I wondered about events in Perth based on the number of pictures I have seen with mates and sculptures. And I always asked myself... why is everyone taking a picture of this bronze bloke?

And yes... we also took our picture of the bronze bloke...
Otherwise people could had told us 'but you did not have the picture with that man!!'
Well, as we discovered later one, Perth is filled with sculptures anywhere becoming almost a challenge to keep looking around to find more of those, but for some odd reason, people visiting Perth only have eyes to take picture to this funny looking fellow.

A 'pee-pee' man - Sculpture by the sea - Cottesloe
Our first day we went to the beach when an interesting sculpture got my attention which made me start to play with my camera and the object, trying to get interesting images, capturing the texture, the colours and the shape... But more interesting was that I was totally pleased to find new shapes and objects every now and then.
Even in the fish market you will find it.
Now, that last comment could suggest to some of my readers that Sydney lacks of sculptures or interesting stuff to see around, but I think the key difference in here is that fact that Perth is pretty much flat and trying to find sculptures is kind of easy; all you need to do is walk and look around, while Sydney gives you a more challenging situation because with its big buildings, streets and people rushing to their lives without taking a minute to look around, the Sydneysider has grown unaware of these little details, and most of the times they don’t even know where to find it.

Dragonfly - Cottesloe, part of the sculptures by the sea

Walking men - Sculpture by the sea - Cottesloe

Walking around the fish market we found a sculpture with interesting textures
and beautiful mosaics

So what’s the difference?
I was walking to friends that took the time to appreciate the city, which is a fantastic way to spend some of your time; it gives you the opportunity to share knowledge, ideas and creativity.

So Rod... is there anything else you liked about Perth?
Short answer, yes, there are plenty of stuff to remark... But if I highlight lots and lots of stuff, I will be totally unfair to another set of items present in Perth... I could spend a long time talking about beaches, parks, scenery, etc, etc but the main idea of this post was to highlight those things that I would recommend from Perth to anyone to enjoy on their trip plan.

I think this post completes Perth post series. I hoped you enjoyed these words and I will back in now time to take more precious moments with our friends.


(1) Ring my bells website suck big time on Google Chrome (I haven't tried in Firefox). Use Safari or Internet Explorer if you plan to check it out.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

As described in Wikipedia, the Kookaburras are large to very large birds native to Australia and New Guinea, carnivore by nature, easily spotted in a wide variety of environments from humid forest to arid savannas, but also spotted in suburban and residential areas near running water where food can be searched for easily, including on its menu lizards, snakes, bugs and meat... like raw meat, sausages, fillets or steaks in an unsupervised BBQ or visitor’s plate!

Image from wikipedia
What I find more interesting about this bird is that it looks like a stuffed toy bird, with all its feathers puff up gives it the appearance of being super fluffy white, blown and blue fairy floss in the shape of a bird with a big waffle cone as beak (I was not starving at the time that I wrote the last paragraph!).

Laughing Kookaburra.
Very common in Sydney
Its name derives from the word guuguubarra, which is (kind of) the sound these little fellows do to call each other, producing a distinctive yet hysterical sound very close to the human laugh. Curious enough, their laugh is known worldwide, used on infinite number of attractions and jungle themed entertainments around the world such as wildlife parks, or the more characteristic monkeys laugh in Disney’s park attractions.

And why do I want to share this knowledge with you?

In case you think this is related to the blue bottle incident... 

No... I was not stung by any poisonous Kookaburra while a mysterious man came out from the bush with an unknown yet catchy nursery rhyme about Kookaburras flying in blue skies... But I feel compelled to tell my experiences with these birds.

Experience #1 – First encounter.

I was newly arrived to Australia and I was walking with Kathy around the area (looking around... trying to find furniture to use in our empty apartment to be perfectly honest...) and we started hearing that laugh at which we quickly turn around to face the source of it, just to find a white and brown bird, looking back at us and no one else. At first I thought I might be a bit crazy... then I turned to face Kathy asking her if she heard it too and she replies says ‘Does Australia have monkeys anywhere?’

The Kookaburra, watching at us and nothing more.
The image is from Ian

I was trying to find a recollection of an article of book... but nothing; I could not remember any Australian monkey famous for its mockery of bystanders.

Two more steps and we heard it again, facing back as fast as possible just to see the same puffy bird, sitting placidly on its branch. I remembered Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven” where a raven gave visits to a man, just to remind him his beloved late Lenore...

“Once upon midday dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint a curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly walking, suddenly there came a laughing,
As of someone gently giggling, giggling at my bad joke,
‘Tis some visitor’ I muttered, ‘giggling at my bad joke
Only this and nothing more’ ”

Turned once more to face Kathy and tell her that I did not know the source of the laugh, but whatever it was, wasn’t moneys and then for third time we got the ‘GUU GUU UHA BA AAH AAH AAH!’ and to my surprise there was the bird, shaking with an harmonic yet spastic movement to which each ‘AAH!’ corresponded perfectly.

Full of excitement and curiosity; we rushed back home to try to find this odd bird whose singing was exactly like if it was laughing and googled ‘laughing bird Australia’ and there it was... first link ‘laughing Kookaburra

I must say, it looked so puffy and huggable (just like a stuffed toy bird) that I skipped the carnivore part of the text (do not remember reading it) and ever since then I wanted one in my balcony, laughing to me, making happy each morning, day or night an hysterical opportunity to feel joyful.

Experience #2 – The Taronga Zoo

There had been few days since the arrival of some dear friends, when we decided to go and get to know the famous Taronga Zoo... and getting the very emblematic (yet mandatory) picture with a roo. In fact my mom told me several times, ‘without a picture with a kangaroo, you have no proof what so ever that you are in Australia!!!’ and so... that day of March we took the train to Circular Quay, walked to the wharf with the huge ‘Taronga Zoo’ sign and got the annual membership.

Why? (or why not to get a simple ticket? you may ask)

Well... lots of people told us ‘is a huge park and you will have to walk a lot!’ it was noon-ish already and the annual membership costed as much as two tickets for an adult. I thought ‘what the hell, I know that I am going to come more than once...’ (I did, later on... don’t take my decision back).

Once in the zoo, we went straight away to take pictures of koalas and kangaroos (Erm, I must clarify this, Taronga does not have kangaroos... in reality they show Wallabies, but it fits the purpose) and in our way to see the birds show Kathy and I stood petrified trying to find the precise location of the laugh origin. It was going to be the very first time to watch it up close and there it was, a big bird (30 or 35 cm head to tail bird) puffed as always, looking down at us, trying to invite us to give it some food.

I think someone from the zoo saw me and came by fast enough to cough while pointing to the sign ‘feeding the animals is forbidden at all times – fines applies’ to which I reacted instinctively to protect my wallet and told to Kathy to keep walking... Kathy just looked at me with her usual ‘I told you not to...

'What does it say?'
'Dunno... don't worry,
humans seems to not understand it either'

Yeah... I know... shame on me.

Experience #3 – The BBQ

We had less than a week of having bought the BBQ and have it assembled when Kathy told me ‘I am hungry... could you cook some sausages in there?’ Pointing to the BBQ with the look “I don’t want anything from the kitchen to get dirt”

I stood up, grabbed the tomato and basil sausages just like she said, warmed up the BBQ and put the protective cover of oil just like one of my mates at work told me, to then leave (unattended for five minutes) those sausages and keep playing God of War while Kathy was folding shirts in our room.

I started smelling the delicious aroma coming from cooking process when I heard the flapping of something close to the BBQ, just to turn around enough and see a Kookaburra standing in front of the BBQ and I thought... ‘Ouh! How lovely looks the... WHAT THE FLUNK IS IT DOING?????????’ whiles the bird jumped inside the BBQ, taking one sausage with its beak and flying away very very fast.

yes mister... you will eventually pay me that sausage!
I stood there... totally speechless... Wordless to say, Kathy told me not to leave the sausages unattended. She did not foretell any theft bird stealing our lunch, but she was trying to avoid getting charcoal as meal.

As I walked to the table, I tried to think into very different explanations to ‘why are we one sausage short?’ to which in my imagination I was about to tell her ‘I just dropped the sausage to the floor and throw it to the bin’ or ‘I was hungry and got one ahead’ or ‘I think the pack had one less than usual’. Then she asked and all I came up was with ‘damn Kookaburra! Too long to explain, I will get one slice of bread and a sausage, you will get your sausages... don’t worry

She looked puzzled... but at least I got one less ‘I told you so’ (and less sausage as well...)

Experience #4 – the one in Macquarie University.

I have been always marvelled of how careless to human presence some animals in Australia are, is like they know people mean no harm to them and as long as you don’t try anything weird, they won’t try to go away, which is the total opposite to animals (desirable animals) in Caracas; if you were walking, pigeons will fly away; if you stop abruptly, it will fly away. If you are talking to someone, it will fly away... if you are quiet... it will fly away... Does not matter what you do, it will fly away as soon as you are on its field of view.

Anyway, some birds in the Macquarie University campus aren’t the exception. Some time ago I was going back to the office and I see this lovely and puffy Kookaburra standing in a handrail and I thought of pulling out my cell and capture the moment... but as soon as my hand got to my pocket the bird looked afraid so I stopped in an attempt to not scares it. Apparently the Kookaburra was curious about me either and started walking towards me, while still in the handrail getting puffier and puffier and then stood there, in front of me at a distance where I could grab it easily if I wanted. So I start moving my finger towards its head to try to touch it when I heard ‘If you really love your finger, put it away, mate!’ as the student went passing me by, acting as if he wanted to bite his finger... then I looked back at the Kookaburra just to realise that it was opening its beak as I was rising my hand.

Looks small... but its beak is very intimidating...
Thanks to my affection to my extremities... I decided to keep walking to the office and leave the sociopath Kookaburra behind.

Experience #5 – the one in the park.

Yesterday (Saturday 7th of May) a couple of friends, Kathy and I went to Lane Cove National Park with the intention of getting some good food, talk and enjoy one of the multiple national parks that this wonderful city have. Our friends picked us up at 12 PM with pretty much everything except the wood for cooking, which we bought 5 minutes later from the petrol station and off to our picnic.

First thing was start the fire, to which I began my explanation of how to set the wood in a squared shape with a bit of oil in the middle (or combustive material) trying to get the centre as hot as possible to get the wood burning...

Most of the times I remember when one of my older brothers was explaining to me the same technique and telling me how the kerosene gave a nasty taste to the meat, while I was emptying a jar of kerosene on top of the charcoal to then throw a match on lighting up... it was like slow motion movies... my brother watched the match descending into the grill while screaming ‘what are you doi...’


This is a video of what happened when the match hit the grill.

He just stayed there, quiet, staring at the grill burning from the ground up... literally from the actual grill till the floor... with the subsequent phrase ‘I should have known you planned something like this... that’s it, I am not going to teach you anymore...’

Gladly for me, I was the one among my brothers that really loved cooking BBQs and eventually (taking far away from me anything combustible with the exception of a paper napkin soaked in oil) he did teach me how to light it up without getting the entire forest burned.

Back to the story; we got the wood ignited and cooking sausages, meat and some sweet corn while I was looking at the nearby trees while trying to refine my hearing, just in case some Kookaburra was close by, waiting to drive in our picnic and steal some food... but then between the chatting and eating I saw a Magpie getting ready to jump to my friend’s wife plate. I took one small piece of meat (I was not going to eat it anyway) and throw it away... My mate tells me ‘you should not throw them stuff... they are not going to jump in our plates to get anything...’

But as I was explaining to him one encounter I got with a magpie at Guzman & Gomez, where the bird tried to peak my burrito but I was a bit faster, moving my hand enough to cover it and continued saying ‘plus we should be wary of any Kookaburra around here... they tend to steal food from people and.... hey!! Look a Kookaburra!!’

But my warning was too late; the Kookaburra was already stealing the biggest part of my mate’s wife steak and flying back to its branch... to which I completed ‘as I was saying... the Kookaburra steals food to people just like us... chatting about Kookaburras stealing food...’

I realised at the moment I was the mysterious man with the not very well done rhyme of Kookaburras eating behaviours.

So in conclusion... be wary of clear skies because a Kookaburra might steal your bite!