Vitosha mountain, the plateau above Kumata chalet — a short walk

Yesterday, it was Tuesday, just a regular day full of work and other tasks. But the kid suggested in the morning, “Hey dad, can we go see the nice plateau near Kumata chalet? After you have finished work?” and I said, “Sure, why not?”.

And so we went there — we reached the plateau right before sunset, after harvesting quite a few wild raspberries along the path leading up. :-) The air was clear and fresh, the raspberries were perfect, and the sunset was beautiful.

All in all, it was a very good idea to run away from the big city for a couple of hours! (And while high up in the mountains, we could forget all the bad news of late…)

While we were heading home, we saw a wild baby fox crossing our road carefully — we don’t have a photo proof of this but some things should better be kept in our hearts and memory, I think…

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Vitosha, the plateau above Kumata chalet

Soon, more “afternoon adventures” like this one, I hope. :-)

The Moon and the Earth

Recently I stumbled upon this interesting project — “Earth” (http://www.tobyord.com/earth).

“Only 24 people have journeyed far enough to see the whole Earth against the black of space. The images they brought back changed our world.
Here is a selection of the most beautiful photographs of Earth — iconic images and unknown gems — digitally restored to their full glory.
— Toby Ord”

The Earth from the Moon -- Apollo 8, 24-Dec-1968

Apollo 8 — ‘Earthrise’

One of the most famous photographs of all time, it was taken by Bill Anders and is the first colour earthrise.
It is displayed here it is in its original orientation, with North up. We can see night falling across Africa and clouds over Europe and the Americas.
Because it was one of the first photographs of Earth in public circulation and highlighted its fragility by contrast with the barren lunar surface, Earthrise became an environmentalist icon.

‘It was the most beautiful, heart-catching sight of my life, one that sent a torrent of nostalgia, of sheer homesickness, surging through me.’
— Frank Borman, Apollo 8

‘We came all this way to explore the moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the earth.’
— Bill Anders, Apollo 8

Visit the project’s page to see more stunning images of our home as viewed from the Moon 50 years ago!

Simona’s latest drawing — “Flowers”

I am so proud of our (now 9 years old, how time flies!) daughter, and so is Ani! Because, for some reason or another, she is not drawing much the last few weeks, but one evening (May 6th, 2021, to be exact), she sat down and started copying a nice drawing… and lo and behold! after at least two hours of careful, focused work, she was ready.

Simona's drawing -- 'Flowers'

This is a good drawing on many levels, and it made my heart sing! :-)

I believe that when we make art of any kind (be it music, drawing, writing, poetry, or anything else), we become better, more relaxed, more “zen”, if you like.

And, yes, Simona was copying another illustration, but so what? We all learn while we copy other people’s work, and it’s OK — and not only because Picasso said so years ago. We also create new things while copying, we better master our craft, and we create new value.

“The quote in this form was a favorite of Steve Jobs but he but he was probably (mis)quoting Pablo Picasso who said “Lesser artists borrow; great artists steal” – who in turn might be rephrasing Igor Stravinsky, but both sayings may well originate in T. S. Eliot’s dictum: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.” – The origins of this quote itself is an example of great artists stealing.”
(# source)

I hope to see our daughter drawing again with such zeal, one of these days. Our world has become a bit dark place lately (and not only because of the COVID-19 pandemic, raging around the Earth since the beginning of 2020) so every little piece of art gives us more light. And we need this light. :-)

Today.txt

Brilliant advice!

If you do this and only this, today will be a good day.
https://johnhenrymuller.com/today

(Found it via @johnhenrymuller‘s Twitter.)

And the TXT is so simple:

“If nothing else, today I am going to ___________.
I am going to do this by ______ then _____ then ______.
If I do this and only this, today will be a good day.

Have a great day! :)”

I will definitely try this technique!

R2 D2 sounds (download)

Do you know R2 D2? :-)

(Note: Are you here for the R2 D2 sounds in MP3 format? Scroll to the end of the page where are the download links!)

And before we continue, here’s a sample R2 D2 message that you can listen to:

R2D2-sample-message.mp3

R2D2 and Obi-Wan Kenobi
R2 D2 and Obi Wan Kenobi (source for this photo: https://twitter.com/PhilSzostak/status/1160643528071905280 — btw, this is a cool Twitter thread that contains lots of interesting Star Wars facts)

And you know how R2 D2 “speaks”, by producing short bursts of various beeping sounds?

Here’s a refresher (in case you lived in a distant galaxy far, far away) — the moment when Luke and R2 D2 meet Yoda for the first time on Dagobah… unforgettable!

[Luke Meets Yoda (Empire-Strikes-Back), mirror copy of this video ]

OK so fast-forward to how R2 D2 “speaks” — I always wanted to be able to use some of his sounds when my smartphone notifies me of a new message or alerts me of something else, etc. A while ago I found this nice one-page website, r2d2translator.com, and there you could enter some letters/words into a text field and then the R2 D2 translator would “translate” them into R2 D2 “language”. And you could even download the translations in MP3 format!

This website still exists but since Adobe discontinued Flash at the beginning of 2021, it now stopped working (the Flash plugin in it, actually) and so the R2 D2 translations disappeared. Luckily, I was able to download some of these translations before the site’s content was gone.

I am now providing them here so others could download and compile their own R2 D2 translations:


1. R2 D2 “translations” from A to Z and 0 to 9 (individual MP3 files):

AB.mp3 | CD.mp3 | EF.mp3 | GH.mp3 | IJ.mp3 | KL.mp3 | MN.mp3 | OP.mp3 | QR.mp3 | ST.mp3 | UV.mp3 | WX.mp3 | YZ.mp3 | 12345.mp3 | 67890.mp3

2. R2 D2 “translations” (a single ZIP file with all the MP3’s in it):

R2D2-sounds.zip


Once you download the sounds, you can use some audio editing program to mix them, split them, and create various combinations for your smartphone’s notifications or whatever. :-)

Note: I got the MP3’s from the r2d2translator.com website but I have no idea what is their original source. Hopefully George Lucas wouldn’t mind. ;-)

Two autumn photos made with Pixel 4 (or: “Good-bye Lumia 830”)

I didn’t write here recently, nor did I post new photos…

* * *

I spent many years with Nokia Lumia 830 (Windows Phone 8.1). Lumia 830 has a brilliant camera! I especially like how it “paints” light (a.k.a. bokeh) when you shoot close-ups/macro. Here are two examples with Lumia 830:

Mini-roses in the hot summer afternoon
Roses in the hot summer afternoon… — 500px. (Nokia Lumia 830)

Little magical forest kingdom.
Little Magical Forest Kingdom — 500px. (Nokia Lumia 830)

Carl Zeiss optics, ’nuff said! (Of course, when you shoot portraits and make photos from a greater distance, things become much more ordinary — the limitations of the too small lens come into play.)

But the hardware and the software of the Lumia 830 became too old, this is a 5+ years old model. So time has come for something new

Google Pixel 4 (Google Android 11). Pixel 4 als has great optics! Here are two sample photos which I made with the Pixel 4:

Sunset
Sunset. (Google Pixel 4)

Little mushrooms
Little mushrooms. (Google Pixel 4)

In addition to the good optics of the Pixel 4 (which can be compared with the Lumia 830 optics), the Pixel has a powerful AI which is able to improve the dynamic range of the photos (shadows and highlights can be well balanced), it can shoot in portrait mode (put the subject in focus and “blur” the background), it can shoot stars, and more and more… But I’ll write about the Pixel 4 in more detail maybe some other time… :-)