Having fun with film

I have recently started playing with my film cameras again and decided to do some cross processing. The idea is to shoot a particular kind of film and have it developed using the process for developing a very different kind of film. The most common option is to use slide film and have it developed normally – i.e. as colour negative film. This is what I did. The results can be quite unpredictable – colours are usually hard to predict and it can be quite fun. This is what I got from my first roll (click on the picture to see slideshow):



The terrible tragedy of the earthquake that hit Haiti has touched us all, all over the world and people everywhere is donating the little they have or volunteering to help. The disaster hit very close to home for me. My younger brother has been in Haiti as part of the UN peacekeeping force since last summer and was scheduled to go back to Brazil this past weekend. After the earthquake hit, we didn’t hear from him for over 12 hours. Something deep inside assured me he was ok and I was relieved to hear from his wife that he had called and assured he was safe and sound. But it was only on Friday that I was able to talk to him on skype and hear from him what happened. That’s when he told me that the building where he lived collapsed. It was a three-story building and he was on the second floor, walking along a hallway when everything started shaking. He ran to the stairs but they collapsed in front of him. He saw a door open, ran through it, saw a balcony and jumped without thinking. He hit the ground at the same time as the rest of the building. He didn’t have a scratch on him but the ordeal had only began. The ground continued to shake for hours afterward. Tsunami alerts were issued and he felt they were all going to die since they were near shore and had nowhere to go. There was also the issue of all those who were not so lucky and remained trapped under the rubble. For the next seven hours he and others talked to one of his close friends, who had been on the ground floor and was now trapped under the building. They were finally able to get him out alive, but he died as soon as they took him out. He was a close friend and my brother is still shaken up by it. He is scheduled to go back to Brazil in the next couple of weeks, but meanwhile he helps in any way he can. During the past two days his unit has distributed 55 tons of water and food. They have also managed to get about 60 people from the rubble and have been busy collecting and burying bodies. He says there are still many people alive under collapsed buildings. They can hear people asking for help. And that’s the most difficult part. Seeing someone asking for help and not being able to help everybody. At least he will be able to go home. Others are not so lucky.

This is where my brother lived:

My brother, celebrating Christmas with some of the locals that work at his base:

The building after the earthquake:

Here in Canada, the disaster has affected many. The Haitian community in Canada is quite large and our own Governor General is from Haiti and still has many family and friends in the place. Her televised announcement is heartbreaking. And she is right. This is not about her, or me, or my brother. This is about the people of Haiti. My heart goes out to them.


This past year was a good one. Academically, I got an article published, got half way through my dissertation, taught my first course (and a course of my own design no less), finished my advanced teaching certificate at TATP, submitted another article for consideration, participated in some great conferences, and gave a workshop on using web 2.0 tools in the classroom. I’ve also became officially involved in a digital humanities project to create resource site for the premodern Mediterranean. Personally, the year was also good. Alan and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, we discovered TBN and got more involved with cycling, our diets improved significantly after we stopped shopping at the large grocery chains and began getting all our food at Kensington and local farmers’ markets. Shopping at farmers’ markets sparked the creative juices and led me to start a food blog and to read more about food and food politics. Alan and I also got back into photography, buying some TLR cameras and have finally got into a regular workout schedule by joining the YMCA, conveniently located practically across the street from our building. Spring and summer 2009 got us close to some dear friends who have since moved to the US but with whom we hope to keep in touch.

In 2010 the plans are to finish my thesis, get another article out, teach some new courses, get a job, make it back to Spain for a visit, read more about digital humanities, continue to read about the environment, human rights, and food politics. Athletically, I would like to cycle more in summer 2010 and run my first 5 or 10k race. I would also like to find some time to do a bit of volunteering work for Kiva doing translations, move this blog to its own domain, revamp my academic blog, and do more yoga.  As Alan always says, life is good.

What about you? What are your plans?


I’m leaving tomorrow to visit family in Brazil – destination: Brasília, the capital. I lived there for a year and a half in 1994 and have visited twice since then. This time I want to see what Brasilia has to offer in terms of food. I haven’t had time to do much research about it but I’ll add here links of places I come across as a pre-trip planning guide. Let me know if you know of any place I should check out.


Girassol – looks like a vegetarian restaurant with some good references.



Saturday mornings: 703/4 Sul

Organic Growers’ association: 112 Sul (wednesdays)
315/16 Norte e 709 Sul (saturdays)

CEASA – supermercado orgânico

List of health food stores

Montreal Massacre, 20 years later

On December 6th, 1989, Marc Lépine went on a shooting rampage at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, killing fourteen engineering students and injuring many others before committing suicide. While the case resembled many other school shootings, it has been for long a symbol of the need to fight violence against women since Lépine’s victims had one thing in common: they were all women. In his suicide note, Lépine blamed women for the failures in his life and explained why he wanted to kill women in particular and why he chose an engineering school, considered a male domain, as the site of his last stand against women and women’s rights.

After the massacre that shocked a nation, tributes were erected across Canada and women’s groups were able to lobby for the successful introduction of a long gun registry to control the availability of firearms. Every year, on this date, the subject of violence against women and women’s rights in general resurface but if you read the coverage of this year’s anniversary on the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, or even the CBC, a sad reality comes to the fore: how little has changed and how we have actually suffered set backs. The Toronto Star editorial points out how feminism has become a pejorative term while the Globe and Mail interviews one of the survivors who sees a recent bill to discontinue the gun registry (which has been passing successfully through the House of Commons) as a “slap in the face”. Twenty years later and women are still murdered by their fathers, husbands and boyfriends. Even in Canada, women are still paid less than men for doing the same job.Our conservative government has quietly cut support to the Status of Women Canada, which provides funding to community groups working to combat violence against women. The government has also made it more difficult for women to fight for equal pay.

People like Stephen Lewis, Greg Mortenson, and Nicholas Kristoff have all been pointing out that the great human rights issue of the 21st century is the treatment of women across the globe, particularly in the developing world. Many of the challenges affecting the globe today such as terrorism, over population, health crisis, poverty, etc can be addressed by supporting and educating women. Greg Mortenson, who has dedicated his life to building schools in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, has shown that when you educate a boy, he leaves his village seeking better opportunities but when you educate a girl, her whole village benefits as she applies that education not only to her own family but to the whole community. Stephen Lewis’ work to draw attention to the plight of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa has shown that the epidemic is also gendered – women are infected in disproportionate numbers and it is grandmothers who bear the burden of raising the next generation. In Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn lay out the three main issues plaguing women around the world today: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute.

In this holiday season, think about how you can get informed and help at the local or international level. One simple way is to lend money through Kiva to women in the developing world who are trying to raise their families and ensure the education of their children. You can find many other suggestions in the Half the Sky Movement website, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, or Greg Mortenson’s site. At the very least, honour the women killed in Montreal in 1989 by educating your boys and girls to see women as being as worthy of life and respect as men, and if you are Canadian, write to your MP about the gun registry.

Film isn’t dead

Some of you may be wondering about the post below. It all started a few weeks ago when Alan found some old medium format negatives sitting in a box and decided to scan them. We thought it would be nice to file the pictures in the computer. Our chins dropped to the floor as soon as we finished scanning the first negative – the amount of detail was simply unbelievable. As you can see from this photo, every line in the wood is clearly visible. It definitely took him back to the good old days. That’s when he started talking about getting another medium format film camera. After scouring ebay for days and reading many reviews, he settled on the Minolta Autocord, a twin lens reflex, considered one of the best among TLRs. He found such good deals on them that he bought two and gave me one. I have to say that I fell in love as soon as I looked through the ground glass viewfinder. Alan still has his old light meter so we can find out the right exposure and I can’t wait to try the camera out. But before we could take them out, he took one of the cameras to be cleaned and refurbished at this joy of a place that the folks at Downtown Camera recommended. The store was as far as one could possibly go through public transit but certainly worth the trip. While Alan got his camera, I snapped some pictures of some of the treasures in there:

Back in time

Back in time

Alan almost bought another camera while we were there. A Mamiya RB67:

Back in time

Back in time

Back in time

Back in time

Back in time

And this is the one I want (here shown in just the body, minus the back and the lens). Alas, I’ll have to wait until I get a job since it goes for anywhere around 1,100-1,500$:

Back in time