Interesting random stuff, personal

Fish market in Mexico city

Mexico city is full of awesome little places here and there. It has so many places for so many things that I’m considering making it a hobby to explore the city. A few days ago, knowing that I love my fish tanks, my friend Luis Perez told me about the Fish Market where I could find anything I like for my fish tank.

We planned a visit on a Sunday and spent most of the day there. At the fish market you really can find anything you need or want for salt or fresh water tanks. The variety of species found is impressive and the prices are great too.

Fish in bags

Not only crowded by fish, but also by people. Very hard to walk in this tiny crowded aisles.

Mexico fish market

You can find exotic species like a fresh water ray, alligators and even a Mexican axolotl (endangered species by the way, but oh well…Mexico)

Fresh water ray

Alligators in a fish tank

Alligator sleeping in the tank

Mexican axolotl

There’s not only fish and tank gear, you can also find a few other pets around like dogs and birds.

Puppies in a box

Sleeping puppies

Bulldog puppy

Bird cages

Cardinal bird

I ended up buying some gear for my tank, a few neon tetras and a freshwater shrimp that looks awesome in the tank and will help clean it up too.

Freshwater shrimp

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personal

A year in review and plans for 2015

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I’m laughing alone reading last year’s resolutions post. If you could see how things are today, compared to what I had planned that day, you might say that my life paused for a whole year. But no, actually very important milestones happened in my life but these pages were forgotten for the second half of the year.

It seems that I’m getting worse than last year in reviewing my year goals and achievements. Last year I wrote the post on February and this year, it’s already March! Anyway I don’t want to skip a year just because I couldn’t find the right time in the first days of the year.

So last year I had 5 major points of focus and I’ll review what happened on each:

  1. Health – Although I did lost the weight I wanted, I’ve accomplished somehow to gain it all back in December and January. I think I got even worse. My formula to loose the extra weight does work, but my formula to keep myself in shape is missing. So in that regard, I’m back to where I was last year.
  2. Projects – Artistelink has not happened. I didn’t even wrote a single line of code for it in the whole year. I mentioned that two days before writing that post I got some bad news that would change things. Well, things did change, work-related. But now that things have settled, it was a great change! I couldn’t have thought of it better. Artistelink might happen someday, but that idea evolved into something more that is half-way done and I’ll talk about later.
  3. Photography – There hasn’t been much paid jobs this last year, but I’ve done a ton of “free” work that I haven’t published but I did processed most of the RAW files I had pending back then. I still owe my family’s 2014 Christmas photos…and 2015’s too. I also got started editing video since I got a GoPro and combining footage from my DSLR and the GoPro has been fun.
  4. Traveling – I did a lot of travelling through 2014, and ended up moving permanently to Mexico city. I’m still not used to the traffic, but it’s not a big deal since I work from home. So in this regard, I consider it an accomplished goal.
  5. Writing and reading – I don’t know how to consider this. On one side I forgot to update these pages in more than 6 months! There’s a lot to write down, get off my head and share. But, I also started a news blog in Spanish: Notasbit. I update it every week with the latest tech news that I talk about on my radio show segment. Oh yes, that’s one of the things I haven’t shared in these pages: I have a radio segment every Tuesday at 5 pm Central Time in Zona3 Radio in Guadalajara. Okay, that aside, I have been writing a lot, just not here. On the reading side, I finished 3 books from my queue. Not much for a whole year, but it’s better than nothing.

So having 2014 craziness gone away now, my life has settled a lot more since moving to Mexico and getting married (this deserves a post of its own to elaborate the details). Settling down helps a lot to focus the mind and stop thinking about a thousand possibilities and end up doing none. I hope to get more done, more consistently.

Health

A few days ago I had some studies made on my respiratory system. There is a possibility that I’ll need surgery to help me finally breathe better. Maybe this is the root of the cause of my dislike of aerobic exercise? The Fitbit has helped me a lot on being conscious about my daily activity and I’ve done a lot better than before. I also got the Aria smart scale and I use it daily to keep track of my progress or failure. I need to get in better shape and a stronger body. I don’t mean big muscles, just a healthy body with a lower body fat percentage which is currently at 27.4%.

Work and Projects

Currently I love my work, my workspace (home) and what I’m working on. It hasn’t been all roses, but it’s been a great learning experience so far in the project management, client management and team management areas as well as programming challenges and new technologies. It is the whole package. Apart from that, in the first days of the year several projects came to my door by clients so life will be very busy. I have two main side projects that I’d like to get going this year, one with my dad and one with my brother, so that’s the goal here.

Photography

I’ve been using Darktable all these time and I recently tried Lightroom for the first time. I’m still skeptical if I’ll prefer Lightroom or not, mainly because my main machine (running Debian) can’t run it but I’ll continue exploring. I like how fast it was even in a slower computer compared to the one I use with Darktable. If it helps me get more done faster, it will be a huge selling point for me. Project wise, I don’t know, I don’t have real plans here, except for getting better lenses.

Traveling

I just want to go to Cuba this year. It might be the last year before McDonald’s or Starbucks starts popping up over there now that the US has announced they will reactivate relations.

Writing and reading

I’ll continue posting on Notasbit every week and try to update here at least once a month. I have a long queue of books to read. So far I’m half way though two books, so that’s more than half of last year’s mark. I won’t commit to a book a month yet, but let’s put the goal at 6 books this year at least.

Let’s see how a settled life affects my achievements. I’m optimist on being more focused and able to control better my environment. Working from home allows me to have a great quality of life, healthier home-cooked food, walk the dog between tasks, etc. It can also lead to bad habits like less socialization, being in pajamas all day and don’t shower for a week… but being married means I need to socialize with at least one person and shower every day. I’ll work on the pajamas part, as it’s 2 pm while writing this post and I’m still wearing them (oops).

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personal

The circle of life

At my new home, I happen to have a particular kind of neighbor. Actually I feel lucky to have such neighbors because they are so interesting.

These neighbors are a bird family. They have a nest next to my door and they, like me, are starting a new family. The analogies and symbolism reflected to my current life moment were a lot and meant a lot to me.

hatching egg

I too was moving into this new home, recently forming a new family (although no kids yet) and everything was as new to me as to those birds.

Every morning from my breakfast table I could see the new family interactions. The male bird bringing home food for the female bird while she was taking care of the eggs and later the male bird alert watching over while the female bird fed the baby birds.

I think that however liberal and egalitarian we want to be as a civilized species, each gender has a natural role. Girls have their “motherly” instincts and guys have the “provider” and/or “protective” instinct. Observing this in nature is fascinating.

Even more, having the opportunity to witness these events in the so-crowded-crazy-traffic-ultra-urban Mexico city is something very fortunate and unique.

baby birds

young birds

I couldn’t catch the exact moment when the birds took flight. Actually there was some trouble that day. One of the birds flew and fell in between two buildings, in an inaccessible hole left between constructions. Later I saw the mother bird flying over there to help. I think it did make it after all. The other one fell to the parking lot area below and later, mum helped there too and later in the day it was gone too.

Bird ready to fly away from nest

The nest was left empty for several months, all through winter. Then a few weeks ago, I noticed new bird couples scouting for a new home. Several came, saw the nest and went away. After a few days of the same interaction, one of the birds came and dropped a twig. I took that action as leaving the down payment for the new home. And soon enough, the new couple moved in, putting new things into the nest, fixing it to their liking.

Since the nest is right outside my door, I could check every day if there was new activity there. Two days ago, the circle of life is starting over.

new bird eggs

Some day, it will be my turn to talk to you about my circle of life, but it’s not my time yet. First, I have to update these pages with lots of stuff I missed to log in the last part of 2014, and the first part of 2015.

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Ballet Class

A few months ago I attended the open ballet class of cuban teacher Chery, a legend in the cuban school of ballet. It was interesting to watch her way of teaching and correcting students.

Also I admire her passion and energy of still touring the world to give lectures and workshops at her age. I don’t know exactly her age, but if sometimes I get tired of travelling I can imagine her passion to keep doing it. She later told me she was going to other places in Mexico, then south america before going back home. I guess doing what you love, following your dreams and passion will take you to far places and keep you going even at an old age… and let’s not forget the government regulations regarding travel. She’s an example that your passion and hard work can overcome any obstacles.

Maestra Chery

Ballerinas on instructions

Men dancers jump

Ballet teacher corrections

Ballerina concentration

Stage lights

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Maestra Chery dando instrucciones

Ballerina jump

Ballerinas in mid air

Ballerinas final salute

Maestras Angelica y Chery

Curtain down

Clase abierta con Maestra Chery, Mayo 2014

Backstage talks

She’s also writing a book about ballet, a mixture of historic references about the cuban school and teaching tool. She told me she hasn’t had the time to publish it but she’s done with the writing part. I hope she finds that time and publishes that material soon.

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Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico

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I’ve lived in Mexico almost all of my life (except for one year) and I had never seen any of the pyramids we have. I felt like I was a “bad” mexican or “incomplete” mexican by not knowing these amazing historical landscapes that everyone around the world talk about when visiting Mexico, besides the tequila, the beaches and the food.

So I finally planned a trip to Teotihuacan and take a few photos there.

The entrance was free, but I was not allowed to take my tripod with me. A security guard stopped me and told me that I needed a special permit to be allowed to use a tripod inside. I’ve heard about this rule for some churches in certain places but it’s the first time I get stopped for it myself. And of course as most security guards behave, I didn’t get informed on how or where I should ask for that special permission.

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Since it was a weekend, the place was crowded with people. Ada and my uncle, who grew up in Mexico city and had visited the place several times told me that it usually is not as crowded. But when they visited, most of the times were school trips during the weekdays and they say those days the place is almost desert. So if you plan to visit to take some photos (with your tripod special permit), plan your trip for a week day if you want photos without people.

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Ada and I met with my uncle, who’s a year younger than me and whom I hadn’t seen in several years. Little did I know, my uncle had just partied the night before and got home 1 hour before I picked him up. But he was a fighter and got up to the top of the pyramid of the Sun while hangover.

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When we got to the top of the pyramid of the sun, there was a large crowd looking at something at the very center of the area. I asked what was going on, they told me that people were “recharging energy” by touching a little hole in the center of the pyramid. I got close enough to try to see this hole, and it was a little dent between rocks that was like a stone had been removed because it didn’t go deep at all, and people were putting their index fingers in it. It is always hilarious to me when people believe these kind of things.

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So it was a very nice experience, lots of sun, we had to carry our water because it is a long walk between pyramids and in general we just had a nice time.

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Burlesque show in Guadalajara

I attended to a burlesque show by Araceli De Anda in Guadalajara. Being used to classical ballet, contemporary dance and modern jazz, burlesque is something very new to me. I enjoyed this show that was based on the Wizard of Oz story. It was kind of bizarre, like all burlesque shows are, but also sexy and funny.

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There’s a lot to learn to appreciate and understand this art form in a deeper sense, but you don’t need much to have fun and enjoy the show.

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Nutcracker rehearsals by the Academia de la Danza Mexicana

Photographing dance is a tough task. Specially when it is an indoor low budget theatre with poor lighting setup. In these situations, you push your gear to the limit, not because you set the gear to the its maximum settings but because you need to explore the limits between capturing the moment and haivng a technically “good shot”.

The high noise in these images are because of my high ISO I needed to use. I’ve come to the conclusion of sacrificing image quality for capturing the right moments. And if you enjoy these images, I hope I’m not wrong.

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These are some shots I took at the theatre rehearsals. Because of schedule conflicts I couldn’t shoot the main events, but I enjoy the rehearsals more because I get a better insight and feeling of the complexities and hard work that is put into these events.

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Everyone involved, from the dancers and the musicians to the technical staff, makeup artists and most of all, the teachers and choreographers put a lot of effort for ballet to seem like an effortless dance with magic and princesses and where all is fine and beautiful.

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Yes, there is a lot of “magic” and beauty, but also a lot of hard work and effort. In these images I hope I could capture both, the beauty and the hard work by everyone involved for you to have a glipse at what is is to be in the dance profession.

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I’ve been sitting on these images for way too long. I took them on November 2013 and I didn’t want to continue publishing more material without sharing these first.

For me, seeing these images again after many months and remembering how I also struggled to capture them, I realize that in this business everyone involved, even the by-stander-photographer pushes themselves to the limit to deliver their art.

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Let me know what you think, and if you feel identified with this story, I’d like to hear your stories of art delivering hard work in the comments.

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