Monday, December 15, 2014

Just Night

Reading Dunia's lines, a Romanian writer friend, my thought began their way, at a slower pace at first, then at a higher rate, towards The Sheltering Sky. There is a certain sequence in this movie which I consider like some sort of an inflection point of its action. It is not a peak of its action, and rather a scene that seeds the grain for further thoughts, for future reflections. The sequence itself is not an exceptional one regarding the technique, yet the simple fact that keeps on rising from the depths of the memory after so many years, contradicts somehow the appearances. What truly strikes is the dialogue between Kit and Port (Debra Winger and John Malkovich):

PortYou know, I miss times like this, places like this, more than anything in the world.
KitI know you do. 
PortThis is what I wanted to show you: this place.
PortCome on!

PortHere... the sky is so strange. It's almost solid. As if it were protecting us from what's behind. Look!
KitWhat's behind?
PortNothing! Just night.

KitI wish I could be like you, but I can't.
PortMaybe we're afraid of the same thing.
KitNo. We're not! You're not afraid to be alone. And you don't need anything. You don't need anyone. You could live without me.
PortYou know that, for me, loving means loving you. No matter what's wrong between us, there can never be anyone else. Maybe we're both afraid of loving too much!

KitLet's leave here!
The breaks in the dialogue between the two travelers were left on purpose. Actually Port is a traveler, and Kit is a combination between a traveler and a tourist. The difference between the two is essential, being explained right at the beginning of the movie:
A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment that arrived, whereas a traveler might not coming back at all. 
Bernardo Bertolucci is the director, and the script belongs to the writer of the the book on which the movie is based, Paul Bowles, along with Mark Peoploe.

And because we can not skip the music, I will use it as an ending, but I will not end until I will make you aware of watching the clip (some sort of a trailer) right to its end, in order to discover something to make you reflect even more!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Colors of the Fall

The other day I went to a funeral service in a small village near my town. The atmosphere was overwhelming, and the weather was cold and cloudy. Gray, compact, stratus clouds. A heart attack; and he was not even old. Nor young, yet not old...

On the way towards the church and the graveyard, I've noticed many colorful chrysanthemum by the fences.

In a churchyard by a river,
Lazing in the haze of midday...

While on my way back, I've shot some of them because I saw pretty colors in a gray day.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Mr. President

Usually I stay out of politics. Only I just wrote a comment on G+ related to Ceausescu, the former Romanian communist president, which appears in the clip (at the end of the post) of a Romanian rock band, ALTAR (MIND THE VOLUME!: clicking the link opens their website, and also their audio player). I thought I should add it as a post on my blog, so here it is:

An "emblematic figure" of Romania, a living nightmare for years until the 25th of December 1989. I was almost 19 back then, and at my 18th birthday I've had not hopes for a better future till my 40s. Luckily a Wind of Change blew all over Europe, and my dream came true less than a year later!
Now, we are changed, but not as some of us have dreamed of!
There are so many Romanians to vote abroad because they did not feel comfortable at home in Romania, they had no other option for a decent living in the country they really love.
I've noticed that the majority of the voters outside Romania was made out of young people! And if you are looking at them, they are not beggars or prostitutes! I'd rather say that they have white collar jobs! Yes, Romania has this kind of people too!
And these people want change in order to come back home, to live happily together their families and to work in and for their own country, Romania, a beautiful country as one might noticed right here in my Google Photo Albums!
There's a word for the situation that these voters want to change in Romania: kleptocracy!
Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often with pretense of honest service.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Mehedinti County Roads

After a rainy summer, I thought we'll enjoy a sunny autumn. I was pretty wrong. We've had our sunny days at the beginning of the autumn, only the forest was still green. I wanted some sunny days while there are a large palette of colors in the hills towards the Godeanu Mountains in Mehedinti county, Romania.

In between the above mentioned periods of time, I saw some interesting cloud formation near my city (or is it a town?! - I was always wondered), Drobeta Turnu Severin. So I drove that way, and I wanted a better angle, then a better panorama, then a higher ground, then a view after the next corner, and the next... So I've reached a higher altitude village (430 m asl) at some 30 km away from Severin, Ciresu (the cherry tree).

The Wrong Turn
The road is winding among forests, meadows and grasslands.

Sometimes a calf is just sitting in the middle of the road like a veritable statue.

But the best pictures were the flora ones! In order to enjoy the beautiful autumnal flowers, one might want to pull over and make a few steps in the surrounding forests. He or she will be enchanted by a wide variety of colors and sounds! I leave you with the colors, and invite you to listen the sounds by yourselves!

Thistle flower

Clover flower

Thistle flower
Golden Rain

Purity or... Innocence

Little Sun

Rainy Clover

Monday, November 3, 2014

Illusion of Time

Stories within books are an illusion.
Printed images are an illusion.
Movies are an illusion.
Life is real.

How about time?

We perceive time through movement. We define time through movement. We relate time to events.
But how about the existence of time in the Universe?

We go from one point to another and we say we will reach the destination in time, or we will be late.

We tell stories about our history and we link an event to a fixed dated or period back in time. We can not change that date or that period.

We do something right now. We can change whatever we do now and do something different, but not very different, or not very far from our actual place. So we can not change time very much.

We say we’ll have a meeting at a certain date and time. We can postpone the event during the same day, the same week, or the same month... Or we can even cancel the event. So there’s a wide time margin change.

I imagine time as a long flexible blade tighten from one end until the moment that have just passed and free at the other end. The tightened end has no movement at all, the part representing the actual time has a limited movement, and the future, the far it is, the larger movement it has.

Now how about a reverse thinking: a tightened blade at the future end, and free at the opposite one?
The blade will look the other way around.

Taking those two blades and joining them together, their movement will froze. A frozen movement of time will be the equivalent of the past, or the fixed future, so there will be just moments on a scale, like coordinates on a 3D map. Time being the fourth dimension could be considered like any other dimensions. If we consider a point fixed in space, having the very same coordinates, no matter the time, the fourth dimension, time, could be tight as the previous three, so it will be like the time has stopped.

The result of combining the two blades will be a fixed blade (our conventional shape of time). Now we are looking at it like at a 2D shape from above. How about looking at it from one end? It will be a point! Yes, a point like any other 3D points in the space that we easily could imagine (with x, y and z coordinates).

What is time? Why the 20th Century was the Century of Speed? Why are we in such a hurry to solve more and more things? Is it the time, or is it all about our perception of a slippery dimension?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fall. Fall in love.

A few weeks ago, a menu plate at the entrance of a terrace displayed an interesting text related to the newly coming season.
Autumn is the hardest season. The leaves are all falling, and they're falling like they're falling in love with the ground.
Today, after suggesting a title to a photo, I've remembered the above lines. Curious about who would be the author, I did a quick research on the web. I've discovered a name: Andrea Gibson. As stated on her website, she is a poet and an activist.

If you like the above photo, you might like the other ones from the very same album!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Full of Magic Brew

In a recent conversation I was asked about how people prepare coffee in my region. After quite a long answer, I decided to write a few lines on the blog about this. I am specifying "a few lines" because there were written thousands of pages on the subject, and there are so many ways and techniques to prepare coffee that a simple blog post will not be able to comprise all of them. The title of this post was proposed by my conversation partner from NYC.
I've started to drink coffee many years ago, and I was aware about the coffee drinking habit since I was a child. My grandparents (may them rest in peace!) slowly drank their coffee, and they seems to really enjoy drinking it. It was some sort of pleasure for them. And they were talking about "big men" issues (at least I thought so at my little age).

At that young age, my grandfather used to take me to buy coffee beans from a coffee shop downtown, placed at the corner of Dimitrie Cantemir and Traian streets. We were going there by car; he owned a Dacia 1100 (Renault 8). I remember that over the entrance, the shop had some sort of minaret tower decorated atop with the crescent moon and the star (as Turkish symbols). Nowadays there's only an orange cover and a banner holding a shop name. And the building facade looks awful.
The former coffee shop was located at the ground floor of this building, with the entrance on the corner.
On the counter were two similar metallic towers decorations, and behind them were the coffee grinders. Every time my grandfather used to buy only 100 grams of coffee beans at the price of 11 lei (Romanian currency). He explained to me that if he would buy more, the coffee would lose its aroma, not necessarily the taste, but its aroma, its flavor! After weighing the coffee beans, the seller grind it, and packed it in a light brown paper bag.
Back home with the small coffee bag! He took a kettle sized according to the number of cups of coffee to prepare. For every cup, he pour a cup of water (approx. 100 ml) in the kettle. Then he filled a teaspoon with ground coffee and pour it in the water (one teaspoonful for each cup of water). He put then the kettle on the stove and turned on the gas on the lowest position of the flame. The fire slowly heated the water so it could absorb the entire strength and aroma from those tiny coffee particles. When the water boiled for the first time, and the level of the boiling liquid started to raise into the kettle, he removed it from the fire, leave it for a couple of seconds to calm down. In each cup of coffee, he put a teaspoonful of the cream (caimac in Romanian) formed on top of the magic liquid. Then he put it back over the burning flames. After the second raise of the brewed coffee, he turned off the gas. A few drops of cold water were poured over the hot liquid inside the kettle in order to clear the brewed coffee of the particles remained in suspension. The coffee is now ready to be poured in the coffee cups. After this final operation, sugar is added to taste. A cigarette seemed to be a must among the adults while they are enjoying the steaming coffee.
As a parenthesis, I would like to insert some info about the coffee grinders.

Sometimes the coffee beans were grind at home using, of course, a coffee grinder. There are manual grinders and electrical grinders. In my collection I have one French and two Turkish genuine coffee grinders. I couldn't help myself to buy a couple of years ago, a brand new one with almost the very same design of the French one.
The French coffee grinder was made by Goldenberg & Cie, a tool manufacturing company. This company was started by Gustave Goldenberg, who built his first factory at Dorlisheim back in 1835, then another one in Zornhof près (near) Saverne in 1837, both in Alsace, France. After a few changes during the years, the company was purchased in 1986 by the British arm of Stanley.
Considering the information provided by a Fine Woodworking forum member, Charles R. Smith MD (crsmith), in one of his comprehensive history of Goldenberg et Cie, I believe that this coffee grinder was manufactured prior to 1870.
The Turkish ones have a similar design and decorations. In addition, one of them has inscribed the year 1924.
Many years after, I saw an interview with the Turkish owner of Ada Kaleh cafe in my town. A few detail have drawn my attention, and I want to share them here in order to complete the above description.

The Kettle must be made of copper. And the shape of its bottom must be conically shaped.
The stove is the closest replacement for a tray with hot sand. The kettle should be placed in hot sand in order to obtained the best brew! The flame should burn at its lowest intensity. It will be a long process, but you will get the best taste! A tray of sand would bring the process closer to the original, even when using a stove!
Don't put the coffee in water after the water is boiled! Put it right after the water was poured in the kettle! You don't want a tea infusion using coffee instead of tea: you want coffee!
Don't let the water boil more than two times!
If the coffee is too strong, next time you can either reduce the amount of coffee, or increase the quantity of water!

All the above information were confirmed by a very small tab on the back of a 100 grams coffee pack, containing a brief translation of the best way to prepare Turkish coffee.

Since I am drinking coffee, this is the way I am preparing it at home!
For now this is just the text. As soon as I'll be in the proper mood to take some appropriate photos of this process, I'll insert them within the text! (Edit: some of them are already added! Stay close for more!)

Prepare your coffee with this method, and let me know if you like it!
Don't worry it won't take as much as it took me to describe it here!

To enjoy it even more, turn on your favorite music! You might want to listen to it using an assorted pair of custom "coffee speakers"!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

DIY Coffee Speakers 2.0

A while ago a pair of 3.6 Watts PC speakers 2.0 used to occupy the already crowded shelves on my shed. So they either had to be removed or get new "clothes". The model is very similar to "Inland Pro Sound 1000" (mines don't have the headphones' jack), and I didn't take any photos of them, so if you want to know how they used to look like, click here or the name mentioned above.

1. Considering the good sound that they provided, I decided to gave them a chance. So I removed their grey plastic cases, and sent them to the bin. After this operation, for quite a while (I am working every now and then to my projects) the speakers along to the power supply and the amplifier were carefully stored in a shoe box.

2. Then, one morning, I decided to make the next move! This is the beginning of a DIY (Do It Yourself) project. I needed new boxes for the speakers, and another box for the power supply (a 220/9 V~ transformer - you're right, I live in Europe!). Among my storage boxes, some cans have drawn my attention. They are:

Coffee Sommelier's
--- ♦ ---
Suprême Réserve
Davidoff Café
Grande Cuvée
- Edition -
San Marcos
Coffee Sommelier's
--- ♦ ---
Suprême Réserve
Davidoff Café
Grande Cuvée
- Edition -

The Davidoff Coffee - just click for more coffee! :-)

3. In each of these cans only a single speaker may be accommodate, so I must find another proper container for the supply and the amplifier. I remembered a metal box for coffee which was no longer in use. What better solution to be found for a coffee drinker like myself?! Here's the coffee box:

Unfortunately I don't have a picture without the front drilled hole, due to the fact that I only started to make photos after I've started the project!

4. There must be holes for the speakers in the cans, so I cut one for each speaker. I decided to place them toward the bottom of the cans in order to gain stability (lower gravity point).


5. The inside of the speakers cans was soundproofed using packing cardboard!

6. The coffee box suffered more interventions. There were drilled holes for the power supply bolts and jack, power on LED (in the picture above), power on/off button, volume knob, input and outputs jacks. There's also a hole for the bolt that will tighten the amplifier circuit board (other way it will float inside the box). All these are shown in the picture below. Don't ask which is which, because you'll figure it out as the description of the project will go on.

7. Prior to mount the speakers inside the can, I had to fill the gap between the edges of the speakers and the ones of the cuttings in the can. I used self-adhesive general purpose foam. I also removed the original wires (shown in this picture).

8. The hardest part, due to the decision taken at point number 4., was to be able to keep in place the nut on the inside of the can until I'll manage to screw the first step of the bolt's thread. That's because the tight space left for my hand behind and under the speaker. And also because there's an angle due to can's curvature... And there were 4 bolts and nuts at the bottom! But I've found a solution: I've taped the nuts on the speakers (visible in the picture above)! And it worked! Not quite easy, yet far easier than the simple way! :-)

9. The new wires were soldered to the speakers' terminals.

10. I've inserted and tighten the power supply (the transformer) on the bottom of the coffee box along with its plug.

11. The 3.6 watts amplifier was also inserted and tighten in the coffee box.

12. The RCA jacks were put in place, then their respective wires were soldered. For the input I used a former cable that came with a female connector jack installed. In this stage I also mounted the power on LED.

13. The power on/off button and volume knob were painted black (brown would be better, but the permanent marker I have is black...). I've finally bought the RCA jacks, that were missing from my spare components, and I've soldered to the speakers' wires.

14. Plug the power cord, connect a device able to provide audio for the amplifier, power on, and listen to the music!

15. There's a single step to fulfill: a grill for the speakers openings. I don't want to ruin this project by accidentally break the exposed membrane of the speakers. A colleague provided a stainless steel mesh. He also gave me a metal scissor. After cutting the mesh and bending it in accordance with the curvature of the cans, I had to fix them, but I didn't want to unscrew the bolts that were fixing the speakers! You figure out why! :-) So I've soldered small wires on the can in positions corresponding to each corner of the mesh. Then I've inserted the mesh, twisted the wires, soldered them and remove the excess. I used the permanent marker to draw a coffee bean on each mesh. It is an attempt to draw coffee beans, but after taking the pictures, I've modified a bit their shapes, and now are more like coffee beans! :-)