Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Joy of Life

Joy of Life (1930) Robert Delaunay
Source: Abstraccionismo
Robert Delaunay  1885-1941

What is the joy of life?  It is  a wonderful gift of birth,  a state of mind, a tiny motor that adds color to life and probably may seem to be an abstract idea which every one can visualize with a design of his own.  With colors of red and green, yellow and violet, blue and orange that can compliment and attract.  Others disturb and oppose.  Warm colors of red, yellow and orange in contrast with the coldness of blue, violet, and green  that are soothing and calming.  Our choice of colors  can give joy not only to us but also to others. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Story Of A Backpack

A backpack was lost in the midst of a rush to watch the coming of Pope Benedict XVI as he passed by Paseo de Castellana, the biggest central avenue of Madrid, the Spanish capital.  It was a backpack containing a crucifix, the gospel, a cell phone, personal souvenirs, and 26 Euros, the hard earned savings of Pepe, a 13 year-old boy.

But luckily and somewhat difficult to believe in the times that we are in,  it did not take too long before it found its way back to its lawful owner, but not without having travelled from hand to hand of the JMJ crowd in a busy day of August, 2011.

While already at home, in that same evening, Pepe received a phone call informing him of the whereabouts of his backpack which he was able to recover with all of its contents intact, including the 26 Euros.

This brings a real ray of hope for the youth represented by what they called themselves as "La Juventud del Papa",  the Pope's youth as they shouted constantly in the recent assembly with the Pope in celebration of the World Youth Event in Madrid. 

Source:  El Mundo - August 23, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Travel With Your Imagination

In the XIX century, Phileas Fogg and his assistant Jean Passpartout, travelled in 80 days with two means of transport, ship and railways. Seven cities in three continents. This was "Around the world in 80 Days" as related by the brilliant Jules Verne in a captivating work that allowed us to travel with our imagination from generation to generation.

XXI Century. Three guys - Rick Mereki, Tim White y Andrew Lees-, in 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38,000 miles, a volcano in eruption, and two cameras. The result: Three amazing videos, with the titles: Move, Eat, Learn. Or Around the world in one minute.

For them, it was the trip of their lives. For us who now view these videos, it is a motivation to continue travelling, even if only in our imagination. There are things that do not change. (Use the navigation bar for a slower viewing).

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo

Source: El Mundo

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hand Of God


The sculpture of Lorenzo Quinn "The hand of God"  installed in Park Lane of London forming part of the Westminster festival of street sculptures, weighs 400 kilos, 4 meters high and is made of aluminum.

The statue will be on exhibit for three months in the center of London, next to Hyde Park.  It represents a naked  and pensive man seated on an enormous hand, a part of the human body that has identified with the work of this artist.

This sculpture is a clear example of the relation between the real and the transcendental.  It deals with the search for the spiritual life, according to Consuelo Ciscar Casabán, directress
of the  Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno (IVAM).

Quinn was inspired by the famous poem "Footprints", by an anonymous writer, about a modern man looking for the hand of God for comfort and peace that he needs at a difficult moment, as explained by the representative of the artist, galería Halcyon.

It certainly is a beautiful illustration of how faith can be a wonderful shelter specially in times of difficulties.

Source of Image: El País

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A New Hanging Garden In Madrid

Madrid’s Newest Hanging Garden

A spectacular hanging garden that covers 1,000 m2  of an interior patio wall of  Hotel Santo Domingo located barely a few meters away from Gran Via in Madrid was  presented to the press last June 25.

The wall garden is home to more than 2,500 plants from more than 110 species, as well as a 20-meter waterfall and cypresses standing almost six meters tall.

Just as their horizontal counterparts, vertical gardens also contribute to cleaning up the atmosphere, trapping carbon dioxide, emitting oxygen, and maintaining temperature. The Hotel Santo Domingo garden aims to absorb 25,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide each year.  And its 20-meter waterfall,  has the same cooling effect as 50 air conditioning units. It also offers a refuge for  sparrows, a familiar Madrid resident, which have already begun nesting. And most of all, "guests in interior rooms will now have something nice to look out on".

An imaginative way to make use of the vertical spaces as horizontal spaces become scarce.

Source:  Jardines Verticales
               El País

Friday, August 19, 2011

World Youth Day in Madrid

Pope Benedict XVI has gathered more than a million young adults to celebrate in Madrid the JMJ or World Youth Day.  It is very interesting to note how young pilgrims from different countries are living together the day to day activities in Madrid  without minding the inconveniences of sleeping together on hard floors and bearing the sometimes more than 35 degs. temperature,  depending on the time of day,  to celebrate a big festive Catholic event preceded by Pope Benedict XVI.

According to Cardenal Archbishop of Madrid and president of the local organizers of JMJ Madrid 2011, the  JMJ carries the implicit message of joy, life, love, freedom and future.  Naturally, and mainly, of course is faith.  Here is what  Antonio María Rouco Varela said:

1) Joy - There are more than enough reasons to lament so many tragedies in the world, such as hunger that strikes a brother muslim country like Somalia or unemployment and the lack of housing that  hold a tight grip to millions of Spanish people.  Even then, my encounter these days with thousands of youth who came to Madrid makes me believe that there are reasons to celebrate and ideals to keep on doing good.  The youth understand more than any other the Pope's affirmation:  "I think that God has a great sense of humor.  Sometimes he gives one a shove and says:  Do not think highly of yourself too much".  Actually, humor is a part of the joy of creation.  In many questions in our life, it is noted that God also likes us to be a little lighter; to perceive joy, to descend from our pedestal and not to forget to have fun".
(Dios y el mundo, pág. 13).

2) Life - I am grateful to the youth for so many lessons that they frequently give us, to us  who are not so many anymore. Change, improvement, freshness, movement, advances... they are all related to what Cardenal Newman said:  "to live is to change, and he who has changed much has lived much". From the vital contexts, each generation  can  discover new dimensions that the Church has not previously recognized".
(Dios y el mundo, pág. 31).

3) Love -  It may seem paradoxical that the commandment that Jesus Christ  handed 2000 years ago, sometimes, seems to be learned the first time.  Love  is in tune with listening, forgiveness, caring, comprehension... as a legacy to the gentleness of God who loves us, who listens, who forgives, who understands us and wants us to be happy.

4) Freedom - The evangelical phrase that says "the truth will make you free" continues to be  valid as ever. He speaks to us about courage and geniuneness ... without fear to search and discover the truth about ourselves.  It is not seldom to resist acceptance of it.  An objective compromise with freedom and respect for all.  That is why, when in certain occasion the thereby Cardenal Ratzinger was asked how many ways there are to get to God, he replied immediately: "So many times as there are men.  Because even within the same faith, each one has his own personal way.  We have the words of Jesus Christ:  "I am the way".  Therefore, there is only one way and all that leads to God is in a way already in that path, that is Jesus Christ.  But that does not mean that consciously, voluntarily, all the paths are identical, it means that the path is so wide that everyone else can take it as a personal path for himself". (La sal de la tierra, pág. 36).

5) Future - The foundation of JMJ arises from a message with a long and protracted past, whose geniune effect is sustained until now and  impulses us towards the future.  That is why it stimulates illusion, trust and hope that a better world is possible.  The Pope and the Church both trust in the youth... because God trusts even more in them .

Source: Reggio's
Source of image:  Adelaide Now

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sand Castles

by poeticpenguin

We build
From each grain of sand
We build

And just like life
Our world comes tumbling down
And they laugh
And they laugh
Sand castles. This is a technique used by thousands of children as they play in the beach where sand of the area is used to create castles. This technique has become very popular that it has been catalogued as a new form of art, where many people of different ages make various forms, such as faces, statues, and sand castles, the latter being the most popular.  Too bad they do not last.

Source of image: Boracay Sand Castles   (Philippines)
Source of poem: Helium
Created on: August 20, 2008

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cactus Symbol and Superstition

It has been said that the cactus flower is a symbol of maternal love. Because the cactus is a plant that can endure harsh conditions and also thrive, its flowers are symbolic of a mother's unconditional love. 
Source:  Ehow Home

Every summer in my terrace,  two of my cacti bloom with flowers that last only for certain hours and to admire them can only be enhanced by taking their pictures as hereby shown.  It is such a pity that they do not last long enough because some of their flowers are so delicately beautiful.

The peculiar thing about the cacti is that their leaves turn into spines while the stems evolve to become photosynthetic and succulent. Many species are used for ornamental plants, and some are also grown for fodder, forage, fruits, cochineal, and other uses.  Source:  Wikipedia

On the other hand, superstitious people avoid cactus plants with the belief that they may cause bad luck due to their thorns. But it all depends on your convictions. If you think cactus is good, then it will be good but if you are a follower of the "Indian Vastu Shaastra", saying that the cactus plants bring bad luck to the house, or Feng Shui, that says that cactus can bring you ailments, then why not plant cactus right outside the house? This way you cover yourself from your harmful convictions, while you take the benefits of the easy to care cactus plants that do not require everyday water and can also keep your soil replenished with water, due to its property of absorbing a little water. Try growing them, you will be amazed with the results.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Knitted Bollards

Efe, Valencia
August 12, 2011

In the heart of the town of Carmen, along the square "Negrito", 10 bollards are protected from the heat as perfectly covered with cheerful colors.

These bollards,  decorative metal posts used to control pedestrian and vehicular traffic,  have  recently been decorated with  colorful crochet covers.  This idea came from a group of Valencian weavers and knitters belonging to the Urban Knitting Association. Although there are diverse opinions as to the decoration of the bollards, the crochet covers certainly add color to the streets of the old town of Valencia.

Source:  El Mundo

Friday, August 12, 2011

Two Great Works of Art

This famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci "Lady with ermine"  portrays "Cecilia Gallerani, mistress of Ludovico Sforza (Duke of Milan) believed to be 17 at that time when Renaissance women contrived to look middle-aged before they were twenty".  As to be observed,  the Lady is looking elsewhere from the public, she seems to be listening to someone, or probably absorbed in her own fantasies. She turns her eyes away, that's why the painting conveys a certain air of tension and mystery emphasized by the enigmatic presence of the ermine.

"The delicate little animal has been identified as an ermine in its winter coat; according to legend these animals died if their white coats became dirty". It has also been said that "the ermine does not eat other than once a day, and it will rather be taken by hunters than escape into a dirty lair." It is interesting to note that this painting has inspired a lot of interpretations of both lady and ermine.

Source of quoted text:   Lady with ermine
Source of Image:  Wikipedia

Rembrandt was mostly interested in painting people. How they laugh, how they cry. He painted life, so to speak," Peter-Klaus Schuster (general director of the Museum of Old Master Paintings) said. Rembrandt's painting entitled Girl in a Picture Frame, which spent years in a private collection  was only recently donated to Warsaw 's Royal Castle collection. "She has an exotic look and a mysterious presence".  The outstanding feature of this painting is how the girl's hands seem to be touching the frame itself.  It also called my attention how she seems to be following my eyes as I observed her from different angles.

Source of image:  Wikipedia

Both of the above paintings are part of the temporary exhibits in the Royal Palace, Madrid courtesy of the Warsaw 's Royal Castle collection.  I was lucky to have gone to see them. Two great works of art worth seeing a thousand times or more!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All That Really Matters

All That Really Matters

Life is too short for grievances,
For quarrels and for tears,
What's the use of wasting
Precious days and precious tears.

If there's something to forgive,
Forgive without delay
Maybe you too, were part to blame,
So make it up today.

Be generous, forget the past
And take the broader view,
Cast away all bitterness and
Let the sunshine through.

If it's within your power
A broken heart to mend,

Love is all that really
matters in the end.

Submitted By: Author Unknown

Source:  Net Hugs

Homer Phrases

Here are some of the funny phrases of Homer:

- In my family, we are five people:  Marge, Bart, the girl Bart, the one who
  never talks and that fat guy... how I hate him!

- What do you want to eat?  "The biggest fillet" and for a drink? "Meatballs" 
- "Without tv and without beer, Homer loses his head!"

- " How can education make me smarter?  On the contrary, everytime I learn something new, what I already know disappears from my head.  Remember when I took a course in  making wine at home, and I forgot how to drive?"

Oh Homer J. Simpson, you are so naive and funny and I agree with  the  The Sunday Times  that you are the greatest comic character of these modern times.  Thanks to  Matt Groening , who created you on the day of my birthday of 1987.  A birthday gift perhaps ?

Source:  Valiomerga

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Visit to Museums

Last Friday, I went to two museums and I had a great time with the weather being favorable.  First, I went to the Thyssen Museum, Madrid for the temporary exhibit of Antonio Lopez a reknown Spanish artist.

Antonio and his wife, Mari
Source:  No

I left Sanfer early to catch my 1pm reservation to see the Antonio Lopez collection, a great artist, at the Thyssen. The museum was replete with people to see the collection of huge paintings mainly of Madrid. He is the same artist with whom I coincided with my exhibit his presentation of the huge sculpture of a woman's bust figure in Coslada next to NH Hotel. I specially enjoyed his sculptures although his paintings are also amazing for the detailed architectural designs of Madrid buildings and streets in particular, which are almost like photographs. It was worth seeing really and in the shop, I saw a lot of people buying his prints and his magnets.

I also took the opportunity to see the paintings in the permanent exhibits and detained more on the impressionist paintings of Monet and Van Gogh although the paintings were not my  favorite ones. But it was a contrast in terms of the visitors because the permanent collection was empty of visitors so it was a quiet viewing pleasure.


Caixa Forum with its vertical garden
Source:  Google

I had lunch in the Thai restaurant near the Caixa Forum and rested before I took off again to see more exhibits this time at the Caixa (a few walks from the Thyssen museum) to see the Mexican exhibits of TEOTIHUACAN, which for 800 yrs (from the 2nd century BC to the 7th AD) was the cultural, political and religious center of a powerful civilization.
Lying 45 kilometres from Mexico City, the city, which rose to become the sixth-largest in the world in its day, is now an archaeological wonder of the world, catalogued as World Heritage by UNESCO.

It was a delight specially when entrances were free for me for both museums. Great cultural  food and entertainment.

I wanted to go to the Prado and the botanical garden too, but they had to wait for another day, since I already was exhausted. It was almost nine pm when I got back home.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Chinese Tale

Never Judge By Appearance: A Salutary Chinese Tale

At the final dinner of an international conference, an American delegate turned to the Chinese delegate sitting next to him, pointed to the soup and asked somewhat condescendingly, 'Likee soupee?'
The Chinese gentlemen nodded eagerly.

A little later, it was 'Likee fishee?' and 'Likee meatee?' and 'Likee fruitee?' and always the response was an affable nod.

At the end of the dinner the chairman of the conference introduced the guest speaker of the evening: none other than the Chinese gentleman who delivered a penetrating, witty discourse in impeccable English, much to the astonishment of his American neighbour.

When the speech was over, the speaker turned to his neighbour and with a mischievous twinkle in his eye asked, 'Likee speechee?'

As the saying goes:  "Never judge a book by its cover".

Source:  Funny Chinese Stories

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vatican colors to Welcome Pope

The merchandizing of the Pope's visit to Madrid has come up  with  the launching of rolls of toilet paper. The  Renova, brand, which has caused a sensation in luxury hotels with its roll of black paper, has launched a limited number of toilet paper packs  using the Vatican colors to celebrate the World Youth Day that will take place in Madrid from August 16 to 21.

In accordance with the  organization, the brand will donate  7,000 rolls to the pilgrims, in packs of two, one white and another one yellow, decorated with sticker which reads:  "I   Pope.

According to the press release from the company, the idea is for this  paper to be used as streamers to foment the "good atmosphere" in the Pontiff's visit.  It has been  agreed with the organization that the streamers will be thrown from the bridges where the Pope will pass by on August 18 upon his arrival and transfer in the Popemobile from  Barajas airport to the Nunciature and thence to the Puerta de Alcalá.

"With such an original pack  associated to this event, Renova aims to liven up Madrid and help the young and not too young pilgrims, to receive the Pope in a colorful and amusing manner", the Company says.

Aside from the donated rolls, the toilet pack can be obtained for 3,50 Euros.  It is 3-ply paper, scented and is dermatogist tested, which means that it is also fit to be used for less festive purposes. 

Source:  Turistario By Patricia Gosálvez

Friday, August 5, 2011

What a Way to Travel

Contorted inmigrant
Melilla/  It is the first time that a case like this has been discovered 

The Immigrant that crossed the frontier inside a sports bag

The Civil Guard of Melilla  found an immigrant inside a sports bag as part of the luggage of his Morrocan relative.  They intended  to board a ship from Melilla destined to go to the peninsula.

He was discovered after a routinary random check when an agent observed a "very slight movement"  in one of the bags inside the trunk. The Civil Guard confirmed that there was a person  that was completely doubled inside the bag.  Although he seemed disorientated, nervous and with altered breathing, he did not require medical assistance.

Can you imagine travelling this way? It must have been an anguish and yet to have not paid off is the tragic matter.

Source:  El Mundo

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If One Day

If one day you feel like crying, call me.
I don't promise I can make you laugh,
but I can cry with you.

If one day you want to run away,
don't be afraid to call me.
I don't promise to ask you to stop ...
But I can run with you.

If one day you don't want to listen to anyone.
Call me.
I promise to be there for you.
And I promise to be very quiet.

But if one day you call...
And there is no answer...
Come fast to see me.
Perhaps I need you.
...Perhaps I am not around anymore...

Friends and family, everyone needs somebody one time or the other.  Today for you, tomorrow for me.  Life is a merry-go-round, to love and to share.

Source Images: Image Envision, Bing
              Poem : 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Filipino Customs

The Philippines is not only known for its 7,107 islands but also for having some customs typically adherent to their culture.

Below are a few unique customs seen in most Filipino interactions depending on how 'traditional' the Filipinos are that you encounter as published by Cavi as Yahoo Contributor Network in November 6, 2007.

1. "Mano po"
"Mano po" (pronounced mah-noh poh) refers to a physical gesture of taking the hand of an elder and bringing it towards your forehead. This is a sign of respect for the elder and is usually done at the point of greeting or farewell. Children are expected to perform this gesture towards adult relatives & adult family friends. Failure to perform "mano po" would be considered as disrespectful.

2. "Kuya" or "Ate"
The Filipino culture is very big on respect. The older an individual is, the more they call for respect. The term 'kuya' (pronounced koo-yah) refers to an older male person; it means 'big brother.' Its verbal usage indicates that you respect the older male and recognize the difference in age. The feminine form is 'Ate' (pronounced ah-teh) which is directed towards an older female person; it means 'big sister.' Children are encouraged to use these terms with their older siblings. Adults can use these terms to address friends or co-workers regardless of whether or not they are truly related. It simply demonstrates a form of respect for the older individual.

3. The power of the eyebrows.
In other cultures, the eyebrows usually convey emotion via a variety of facial expressions. In Filipino culture, raising your eyebrows can also communicate a positive affirmation of "yes" when a yes/no question has been asked. So, should a Filipino fail to verbally answer your question, look at their eyebrows before feeling like you were being ignored. Without you knowing it, they may just be answering you non-verbally through the raising of their eyebrows.

Raising your eyebrows accompanied with strong eye contact can also serve as a greeting or farewell to an individual you can not physically touch.

4. The lips give direction.
Again, a non-verbal expression performed by Filipinos. By puckering their lips and facing a certain direction, they are using their lips to point to communicate a certain direction. Instead of wasting physical energy by lifting their arm/hand to point, they conserve energy by using their puckered lips.

5. Food at every gathering.
Whether it be a grand party or just an informal meeting, Filipinos express their hospitality & friendship through the serving of food. The more grandiose the cuisine, the more 'love' they are trying to convey to those at the gathering. Instead of asking, 'how are you?' Filipinos will ask, "have you eaten yet?'

6. Take your shoes off when entering a Filipino home.
By taking your shoes off when entering a Filipino home, you are conveying utmost respect towards the owners of the property. You are showing them that you care about their property and have the desire to maintain its cleanliness. More modern Filipinos who have tile or wood floors may not expect you to take your shoes off because of the coldness of the floor, however, if you do adhere this custom, then you will surely make a favorable impression.

7. Hellos and Goodbyes cannot be taken for granted.
You must greet everyone "hello" at every meeting and say "good-bye" at each farewell. For anyone present, you can either offer a 'mano po,' a kiss on the cheek, or offer eye contact coupled with raising your eyebrows to those you are unable to physically reach or those you do not know very well. Failure to offer a greeting or farewell would indicate that you are disrespectful, and a snob. So, be attentive to those present as you do not want to offend anyone.

The minimal verbiage in Filipino Culture could be best explained through a silent adherence to the common expression: "actions speak louder than words."

Source: Associated Network from Yahoo

Note on video:  A video showcasing the beauty of the remarkable places & people of the Philippines set to the music of Freddie Aguilar's "Bayan Ko", which sometimes gets mistaken as the Philippines National Anthem because of its popularity.

Here is the translation to the lyrics of this moving song.

"Bayan Ko (My Country)"

My country the Philippines
Land of gold and flowers
With love in her palms
She offers beauty and virtue.
And of her modesty and beauty
The foreigner was attracted
O, my country, you were enslaved
Mired in hardship.

Even birds that are free to fly
Cage them and they cry,
Much more a beautiful country
Shall long to be free.
Philippines my beloved,
Cradle of my tears and poverty
I'll aspire,
To see you truly free.

***Tagalog Lyrics***

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto't bulaklak
Pag-ibig na sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda't dilag.
At sa kanyang yumi at ganda
Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko, binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa.

Ibon mang may layang lumipad
kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag
Ang di magnasang makaalpas!
Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha ko't dalita
Aking adhika,
Makita kang sakdal laya!

My acknowledgement to Cavi.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cupcakes, Anyone?

Cupcakes, that originally came from the United States and popularized in the tv series Sex in New York,  have become very popular  in many Spanish bakeries. They come in different shapes and colors and they look amazing, but I dare say that it is a pity to eat them since they seem better to be looked at than eaten.



Source: Koldcast, Dzine Blog, Web Cool Tips