New OS

Here I stand, waiting for OS X 10.5 (aka Leopard) to finish installing on our iMac. Yes, we were one of those Apple nerds who pre-ordered the new and flashy operating system as soon as we possibly could.

There are some pretty nifty new features on the new OS, but the ones I’m looking forward to the most are the new Dock, with its stacking feature  – I need every help I can get to keep my desktop semi-organized -, and the new Finder, with its ubercool cover flow.

I’m just not sure whether I’ll be installing it on my laptop right away. We bought a family license (i.e. we can install on 5 computers), but I’m not sure if it would make my laptop somewhat slower. Maybe I’ll buy some more memory first. Usually, new Apple OSs don’t really require new hardware upgrades in the same way as Windows updates do, but it seems that this new one, with all of its 64 bit processing and multi-threading capability is a bit out of  the league of older machines… We’ll see…

Thinking blogger award

Toni is from Tarragona, a town in Catalonia, Spain, about an hour south of Barcelona. He has lived many years in Barcelona and now lives in Salzburg, Austria, from where he writes a very nice and thought-provoking blog about his experiences in a foreign land, speaking another language. He is very thoughtful and open-minded about his experiences and I really enjoy reading his blog. It’s also one of the few places I get to practice my very bad, untutored written Spanish. I tell myself that one day I’ll be able to chat with him in Catalan…

Earlier this week, he honoured this humble blogger with a nomination for the Thinking blogger award. I am now to naming five bloggers that make me think. Here they are:

1.  Erin, from a wandering woman writes from Spain because she’s now wandering through the camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage/walk/trek that I’ve been wanting to do for years. Every time she posts a little note from her eventful walk, I dream a bit more of the day I step on that ancient route…

2. JP, from Narratives: adventures of a history grad student because she reminds me that grad student are also supposed to have fun!

3. Clotilde, from Chocolate & Zuchini for making me dream of savoury scones and wonderful salads

4. Bruna, from Vida em Barcelona, for making me wistful for our life in that wonderful city

5. Cablegirl, from 42, because I knew her personally in grad school, lost touch, and we have now reconnected over the blogosphere. Her blog is smart, funny,and show that there is life outside the academic world.

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Sorry for not posting much this past week but the term has certainly caught up with me. I have a pile of essays to mark, I’ve organized a workshop for tomorrow afternoon, and I have some serious Hebrew studying to catch up with. And my thesis? It’s sort of in the backburner…. sigh….

Blog Action Day: the Environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

When I was growing up in Brazil, environmentalists were perceived as hippies that stood on the way of progress and defended an utopian view of the world. It was a time in which Prince Charles was ridiculed for his defense of the environment and organic farming, and Brazilian authorities wished Sting would fight for someone else’s forests. Fast forward a couple of decades and we now live in a world where these questions are no longer limited to the Green Parties and hippies of the world. Mainstream political parties must now have a proper environment policy and a former American vice-president has won the Nobel Peace Prize for calling the western world’s attention to the critical point we have reached. Suddenly, Prince Charles is not so laughable after all…

We can each do our part in ensuring a future for our children and for ourselves:

1. Recycle & re-use items – don’t throw in the garbage something that can be recycled. Re-use what you can. Why spend money on toxic plastic containers to store food when you can use nice glass jars and containers from your jams, mayonese, salsa, olives and other products. I used to love the  fact that you had the option to get juice & milk on glass bottles in Spain.

2. Try to generate less garbage – It seems that the cleaning products industry has gone on the “disposable” bandwagon recently. From your duster, to wood-polishing oils, passing through multi-purpose cleaners, everything comes in disposable wipes format. The trend has also started to impact the cosmetic industry where I have been seeing disposable facial washing cloth. Has anybody stopped to think the amount of extra garbage that generates? What’s wrong with wiping the kitchen counters with a cloth that can be washed afterwards?

3. Try to leave your car at home more often – I know this is hard for people living in North American suburbs that have been designed for cars and where a public transit system is almost non-existent. But do you really need to drive to the corner store, less than 10-minute walk away? Luckily for me, my dad was a bit cheap when it came to driving my brothers and I around. He complained gas was expensive and would only drive us to places we couldn’t possibly walk to or take a bus. Even when I had to go grocery shopping, since the store was about a kilometre away, he would tell me “you can walk”. Of course it used to drive me nuts, but today I appreciate it since my first instinct when I have to go anywhere is to walk, and if I can’t walk, to look for public transit.

4. Buy local whenever possible – That’s one of the things I’ve started being more aware of lately. Personally, I think this one affects not only the environment but also your health. Whenever I go shopping, I make sure I check the tags of what I buy. I’d rather buy strawberries from Ontario than from California, regardless of the price.

Spread the word! Think of your own contributions to the world in which we all live. Be aware of the example you set for your children.

More good advice here and here.

Black & White course

I spent 10 hours in a darkroom this weekend as part of a course on printing and developing black & white photographs. We met for five hours on saturday and five hours this afternoon. On the first day we learned how to develop our negatives and today we spent the whole time printing pictures. There were four of us sharing the same darkroom and we quickly bonded over the experience. Kathleen, Roman, Kamelia and I will certainly be getting together again to do some more printing and developing of our own…

Some people might question why should I even bother learning to develop and print when all of that can be done digitally these days. It’s true but as I said in a previous post, I wanted to keep using my trusty Maxxum 5 for shooting black & white and besides, there’s nothing quite like immersing a sheet of paper in a tray of water and watching a photograph slowly appear…  I highly recommend it!

Finally!! Fall is here…

After a really warm end of september and beginning of october (this weekend was 30 C!!!), Fall is finally in the air… I confess this makes me very happy because I don’t really like having hot weather during the academic year. Most of my nicer teaching clothes are warm ones and I hate carrying all my heavy books around in hot weather. Besides, I LOVE the Fall; the colours, the brisk coolness in the air, the crispness of the light, everything is nice about it. All the high humidity, 25-30 degrees weather we’ve had in the past few weeks were definitely not Fall-like to me.

But after a Thanksgiving at 30 degrees Celsius,  we finally got normal temperatures:

Weather

I don’t like the rain but I’ll take that over the muggy, hot weather we had this weekend…

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Yesterday we went for Thanksgiving dinner at a friends place. The group was very mixed: a German of Czech background, two Dutch, one American, one Canadian, one Brazilian, an Australian, and another German. But the meal was your quintessential Canadian Thanksgiving feast, with the sole exception of replacing the turkey with chicken:

Roasted Chicken
Cranberry sauce
Apple sauce
Mashed potatoes
Stuffing
Gravy
Green beans
Roasted squash

Followed by the best pumpkin pie ever!

I contributed the stuffing. Everything was SO good. We had a great time!

But now it’s back to work; I’m trying to finish a presentation I have to give on Friday and yesterday I spent the day preparing my tutorial for this week since it will be about how to prepare the first assignment… Hopefully it will all go well.

I’ll leave you with this uplifting video…