Nov 21, 2010

My favorite shoes, Converse, Chuck Taylor All-Stars

I think my feet are a size wider than they’re longer, which means that it’s kind of complicated for me to buy shoes… either they’re the right length but too tight on the sides, or they’re comfortable on the sides but too long. It might be due to the bunion that I inherited from my mother: a bunion is when the joint at the big toe is enlarged for some estrange reason. Most of the time it doesn’t really bother me but if my feet get too cold, it might hurt.

The only shoes that actually fit me well are the Converse… however, the reason I wear them is because I really like them. The first pair of Converse I wore was back in Colombian when I was a teenager, maybe 15 years old… I used them for a while, and then stopped wearing them for a few years while I was in university—I couldn’t afford them simply. After I moved to Sweden I began using them continuously ever since and I’m not planning to stop wearing them on my everyday life for the time being.

Now that I’m in Paris the problem is that they wear out really quickly! Perhaps, because I walk a lot more than I did in Sweden: the last pair only lasted 6 months before I had a hole in the sole of both shoes… check the picture.

black
Don't worry, I already got a new pair.

Luckily, Converse could be the coolest single pair of shoes ever invented. So classy, versatile, and timeless, thanks Chuck Taylor All-Stars!

Did you know that the Converse was designed in the 1910’s and that the brand was bought by Nike in 2003? I didn’t!

Nov 4, 2010

Where is Dulcinea del Toboso?

[…] he came to the conclusion that nothing more was needed now but to look out for a lady to be in love with; for a knight-errant without love was like a tree without leaves or fruit, or a body without a soul. (From Don Quijote de la Mancha, by Cervantes)

I remember the first time I read this passage, back then I was a naïve teen at the university, in Bogotá. I was a delusional romantic, falling in love with my female classmates, writing poems of love and solitude, and composing love letters to my beautiful beloveds. I couldn't agree more with Don Quijote!

Today, I couldn’t be less concerned about finding my Dulcinea del Toboso; although it’s been quite sometime since I felt legitimately in love… ever since then I’ve been enjoying of the short nightly adventures that life my bestow upon me! So distant I’ve kept myself from getting involved romantically that a life without marriage and offspring is starting to seem quite reasonable: I’ve always wanted a family and children, but at this time of history it isn’t really necessary for me to pass my genes to the next generation… is it? It’d be more for the gratification and the satisfaction of familial love than for anything else.

I’m wondering if I should become a knight-errand and find her, my Dulcinea… just as the one Don Quijote describes in chapter XIII:

[…] her rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman, since all the impossible and fanciful attributes of beauty which the poets apply to their ladies are verified in her; for her hairs are gold, her forehead Elysian fields, her eyebrows rainbows, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her fairness snow, and what modesty conceals from sight such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol, not compare.

And go crazy and abandon all my wits for the sake of love and adventure! It doesn’t sound so bad, too lose oneself and sacrifice reason and logic for an exceedingly beautiful and exceedingly intelligent lady. It could be the perfect excuse to stop worrying about the insignificance and mundanity of the human condition; like paying taxes, buying the milk, waking up early to catch the bus, or bothering the secretary because after eight months in France I still can’t get my social security number…

A field of tulips in Holland (1886), Claude Monet

Nov 3, 2010

A bowl of ramen, s'il vous plaît! Sapporo Ramen in Paris

If you know me, you should know by now that I love Asian food; Chinese food, Thai, Indian, sushi… it’s all so very good. To my opinion, the Asian way of cooking is so much better than the European, I would say like a thousand times better.

Back when I was living in Uppsala, I used to go almost every day to a Chinese restaurant called Fugu. It was simply delicious, I couldn’t get enough of it; and for that reason I ended visiting the place since the very first day they opened it about four years ago, until the last day of my stay in Sweden. It was very nostalgic for me to think I wouldn’t have my dear restaurant so close any longer.

However; life is like a river, it flows continuously… things come and things go, people come and people go, restaurants come and restaurants go. So I have come across with my favorite restaurant in Paris, it’s a Japanese restaurant! They don’t sell sushi, they specialize in ramen! Oh god, such mighty ramen… it’s almost miraculous, Sapporo Ramen! The place is tiny and it’s located in Rue Saint-Honoré… close to the Louvre Museum and it’s a street full of Japanese restaurants of all sorts.

Sapporo Ramen Paris My new favorite food, very nutritious

Sapporo Ramen is special, it has a bar where you can seat and eat watching the cook prepare the ramen, that’s so awesome. I think the restaurant is very authentic, they don't sell any sushi, and it’s run by a Japanese family; there are plenty of Japanese people eating there at all times… so I think that’s a good sign of authenticity.

I personally love it.

Music for the soul, Palais Garnier

I was talking once with a Spanish girl about Paris when she told me that she didn’t like the city because she thought there was no culture, no art, and pretty much nothing to do. I was literally shock… what was she thinking? Did she really understand anything about the ways of life?

Last week I had the craving for some higher forms of musical expression, to delight my soul and clear for a moment the storm that rages within me. I was feeling like going to see some opera, a ballet, or a concert. I decided to go to a chamber music concert at the beautiful Palais Garnier; they were going to play music from Robert Schumman (1810-1856), Ernst Krenek (1900-1991), and Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). The last two musicians were new to me, never heard from them before… It was really nice to have the contrast of Schumman with the more modern sounds of Krenek and Hindemith that to my impression still sounds very random, though I’m sure it isn’t like that.

The ceiling of the concert hall, painted in 1964 by Marc Chagall

Going to the Palais Garnier is an amazing experience; it’s like time traveling to the XIX century. It’s so beautiful and luxurious, statues of the great composers here and there, marble of all colors, the gold, the red velvet and the satin. I particularly love the roof of the concert hall; it was painted in 1964, so colorful and vivid contrasting very much in style with the entire palace that was actually inaugurated in 1875, built in a neo-baroque style… as I just learnt.

If you ever get to be in Paris, you definitively have to come to the Palais Garnier and go to a show... It will transport you to a different world. And it isn’t that expensive, I paid 20 Euro for my ticket but it's possible to find tickets down to 8 Euro, which means that it’s pretty much accessible for anyone. It’s a great pity that most people believe that going to the opera is unaffordable, or that you have to go fully dressed up with gown and what not… though most people wouldn’t really find entertaining an opera show, a ballet, or a Beethoven’s symphony; so, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Bravo! Bravissimo!

Oct 31, 2010

The transformation of personality

It is usually thought that we are all born with a given personality, that we are some type of person from birth and that the type of person that have been assigned to us—by genetics, destiny, or god—is immutable, impossible to be changed, transformed, or evolved. So, if I just happen to be… let say for example; impatient, arrogant, too timid, clumsy, bad at math, stupid, control freak, ‘always-fall-for-the-wrong-person’, mean, too naïve, too lazy, boring, a mess, too quiet, too stubborn, etc, etc, etc… “Well, sorry, that’s the person I am, there’s nothing I can do about it, love it, hate it, I can’t change who I am.”

I think it is wrong in so many ways to think that we can’t change ourselves just because we are who we are, and we have to accept that.

I think who we are: our personality and the things we do are changeable… I think that we can become a better person, that we can improve our personality and ‘the way we are’ as much as we want. I think we can become more understanding, kinder, more patient, more open, better lovers, more interesting, more mature, more successful at anything we want to be more successful… and in consequence we will be able to take better decisions, make the right choices, and live better and more satisfying lives.

But how do we change what needs to be changed about us, how do we change those qualities that hold us back , that make us fail, that make us suffer, that make us go for the wrong choice? How do we become better persons?

The transformation of personality is a very slow process, some aspects might be easier to change, other aspects (the ones that run deep within our very selves) might be quite challenging. The transformation of personality begins automatically when we realize that there is something about us that needs to be changed because it’s fucking up our lives and it’s making our lives unhappy or getting us into too much trouble. It implies certain degree of self awareness; it implies that we should know ourselves enough to be able to realize that something must be done… that something needs to be changed; not many people reach that level of self awareness, unfortunately.

However the most important ingredient for the transformation of personality is a strong desire for change and improvement; without it, change might be impossible. This blog post is not for the people that do not want to change; this post is for those of us that know we could be better persons and that we have lots of potential… but are afraid or unsure because maybe changing ourselves, transforming ourselves into a better version of us may be impossible. It is not impossible, it is within the capacity of our brains to learn new behaviors, new habits, and to unlearn whatever bad behaviors or habits that are leading us astray.

There are many different strategies to achieve the transformations that we desire and to accelerate those changes… perhaps in another post I will talk more in detail about it. Today suffice to say that to cause change the two most important aspects are: (a) some degree of self awareness and (b) a desire to change.

If for some reason you are that kind of person that is looking for a change… I hope this post helps you out a bit.

As a last word and advice for those who are on the path to become the best you could be; one of the best things you could do to speed up the metamorphosis of the soul and get rid of all those demons that haunt us is: to travel, travel far, go to places never visited before, and go by yourself, meet new people, breath new airs, expand your horizons…

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The caterpillar pic was originally posted to Flickr by Maggi_94 http://www.flickr.com/photos/27126314@N03/4947065075/ under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. The blue morpho pic was originally posted to Flickr by jcaputo4 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcaputo4/4450687232/ under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Oct 27, 2010

Lady Love by Paul Éluard, L'amoureuse

About a month ago I mentioned that two of my all-time favorite poems were coincidentally written by French authors, both of them born in Paris. The first one that I already shared here in my blog was The Forigner by Baudelaire (click in the link to check it out). However, today I would like to share with you perhaps the single most beautiful poem I have ever read, my top favorite of all times; it’s original name is L’amoureuse, translated to English as Lady Love, but you can also find it as The Beloved written by Paul Éluard (1895-1952). He was a surrealist, and the beauty and simplicity of this poem is just wonderful.

Enjoy.


Lady Love

She is standing on my lids
And her hair is in my hair
She has the colour of my eye
She has the body of my hand
In my shade she is engulfed
As a stone against the sky

She will never close her eyes
And she does not let me sleep
And her dreams in the bright day
Make the suns evaporate
And me laugh cry and laugh
Speak when I have nothing to say



This poem remind me of Tulips


That translation to English was done by Samuel Beckett, an Irish writer. Here is the original version by Paul Éluard in French.


L'amoureuse

Elle est debour sur mes paupières
Et ses cheveux sont dans les miens,
Elle a la forme de mes mains,
Elle a la couleur de mes yeux,
Elle s'engloutit dan mon ombre
Comme une pierre sur le ciel.

Elle a toujours les yeux ouverts
Et ne me laisse pas dormir.
Ses rêves en pleine lumière
Font s'évaporer les soleils,
Me font rire, pleurer et rire,
Parler sans avoir rien à dire

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The pic was originally posted to Flickr by Kıvanç Niş http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwanc/464046403/ under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

Oct 25, 2010

Tartare de bœuf and two dreams of horror

Dear reader,

I truly hope you’re having a great day, that everything is going as you planned it and that you’re feeling full of vitality and motivation. On my side, well… I’m not so certain, I have now accumulated a lot of mental fatigue and I’m almost at my limit; my soul is agitated by strong winds, stormy winds, as if I was just a dry leaf swept away in the fall. This is—of course—reflected in my dreams: last Sunday I had two intense nightmares the very same night! I’ve never had two nightmares in one night! Both of them extremely horrible, but I’ll tell you more about it later after I tell you about Tartare de bœuf…

Tartare de bœuf is a French dish, it’s made of minced meat from beef, served raw: with the yolk of an egg on top, also raw. So last Wednesday I was at a pretty cool place in Paris called Académie de la Bière: it could be one of the few places in the city with quite a big collection of beers. I was very hungry so I ordered the Tartare completely unaware that it was raw meat… it didn’t really taste bad; I actually liked it… BUT with lethal consequences for my health since it unleashed the full fury of my intestines next day in the morning. It might have been polluted with some bacteria or virus, or simply I just had never been exposed to the prokaryotic ecosystem inhabiting this raw meat… in any case, I had two days of cataclysmic toilet experiences. Once, I was woken up around four in the morning by a nuclear chain reaction in my guts, I jumped from the bed and ran to the bathroom, KABOOM! I think I created a new form of matter; I call this new element, poopinium, it’s in liquid form at body temperature.

Alright, I hope I didn’t gross you out my dear reader. Now I will tell you about my nightmares, both of them happened during the same night. In the first one, I got shot in the head, yeah that’s right: someone shot me with a gun in the head, damn it! Why do my brain has to generate such horrible dream? I was going around, agonizing in pain… waiting for the moment of my death; I could see the blood, I could feel the hole in my skull. So so so terrible. In the second nightmare, I’m in the house where I grew up, reunited with all my family; when all of a sudden there’s an earthquake, a huge earthquake magnitude 9.0 in the Richter scale. I could feel the building shaking, the devastation, and a massive flood… the panic and the horror was immense. I remember I saw in the sky a partial solar eclipse.

What do these dreams mean? Why do I have to get murdered in my own dreams?

On a more positive side, I visited perhaps one of the coolest places in town. Its name is Curio Parlor and it’s a cocktail club. The place is located in the 5th arrondissement, the Latin Quarters; in a small street. It’s a little clandestine since from the outside you can’t really notice is there… there are no sings or lights that could point at it. The place sells experimental cocktails, I had one called Mexico 55 and another one called Jamaica something Tiki; both delicious. Curio Parlor is tiny, with a pretty cool decoration of taxidermized animals… A peackock here, a fox there, some other birds in the toilet, a collection of insects downstairs. According to them, it is the only Nikka bar outside Japan… I found out there that Nikka is a Japanese Whysky: I tried it out of curiosity and it’s pretty good. I really recommend this place, I must say that the atmosphere is great and the people is very friendly.

Peace out.

Oct 20, 2010

60 or 62, strikes in Paris because of the Pension reform

It’s the seventh day of strike in France because of the new pension reform and things are starting to get scary. The huge parade of protesters passed near my place leaving a horrible trail of dirt, trashing everything around, throwing eggs to the bank walls… etc, etc. I arrived home from work at around 6.00 pm and the parade was still going, I think it started at 1.30 pm. It’s kind of scary because you never know when some crazy vandal decides to get things violent… this sort of intense protest always ends up wrong.

Who’s right here? Is it the government that wants to reform the pension law because France population is getting older and there’s not enough young people to pay pensions and benefits… is it the leaders of France that foresee an imminent economical crisis if the reform isn’t done and the people can’t understand that? Or is it that the government of France aims at oppressing the French proletariat? But perhaps it is possible to keep the retirement age at 60 and all the benefits French people enjoy by some other means? Or is it the proletariat and the opposing wing trying to sticking it to Sarkozy?

I have no idea, and truth be told: I don’t fucking care… but I dislike these manifestations where the city is trashed down. It sucks, Paris is such a beautiful clean city and having to see it all dirty makes me angry. And why there are some kids burning cars and looting? This is so stupid, it’s like a brat getting angry because mom didn’t buy him the expensive toy he wanted.

Is this democracy, is this freedom?

A very interesting protester with his automatically producing bubble cart

Oct 18, 2010

Try French Kiss

Tanai’s Amazing Blog is celebrating its first 1000 visits! Isn’t that AMAZING! Yeah baby, it is! And to celebrate this special occasion I will share with you an old secret and mysterious writing of mine… I had actually forgotten about its existence, I don’t even remember when I wrote it or why I wrote it, and now that I was reading and editing it didn’t feel as if I wrote it myself, it didn’t trigger any memories about its origins (there’s a slight chance that I wrote it drunk… probably I was coming from some party in Uppsala, late in the night, and my neurons had decided not to memorize anymore).

It has no title. It’s about a kiss, that first kiss… I wanted to write a blog post about ‘a kiss’, I had been thinking about it constantly but the right fuel for my inspiration hadn't come. I find very mysterious though that today when I was browsing my old writings: tralaaan! Suddenly there it was! I had already written it who-knows-when in the past! It has some eloquence and some randomness that I like.

Please, enjoy.


I could not believe what I had in front of my eyes, her big brown eyes staring at my lips no further than the distance that takes to write the word love in big letters. This wasn’t just once, maybe twice, three times, four times perhaps. She looked at my lips again, moving her gaze slowly from my mouth, caressing my nose, to my eyes. The words… sailing the air in a meaningless sentence. A millimetric movement forward and her face started to blush slightly, her lips turned from her natural pink to an intense red. I felt how deep inside her a hot feeling spread all over her body like a tsunami. I am amazed how subjective the meaning of a kiss can be; I have kissed women without ever saying a word to her, women that I have lost from my memory already. I have kissed women whose lips I still can feel in my mouth emerging from the deepest corners of my heart when I say to myself her name once and once again. That kiss will change it all, will change her life in a way she is not expecting at all… it always has such a transformative power; as if suddenly you become a different person, dreams will start blossoming in the middle of the winter, the nights will be covered by an infinite light, and her body will be bound to mine like stars are bound to the galaxies by gravity. It cannot happen; time and space are spiky friends. The treasure seems vaster when harder it gets to find it; I will fall, willingly… I cannot resist it any longer; I am a human being and I feel intensely. How beautiful and how pleasurable it is this subtle adventure of delicate love.

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The pic was originally posted to Flickr by magerleagues http://www.flickr.com/photos/mager/3264750006/#/ under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Oct 15, 2010

Declaration of Rights of the Women and the Female Citizen

The day before yesterday I was reading about the French Revolution… last time I actually studied the French Revolution was probably in the XX century when I was a teenager at high school. I learnt that it lead to the passage of the Declaration of Rights of the Man and the Citizen (1789) in an attempt to bring equality to this world. Pretty awesome, I thought… however, I found out about someone that to my opinion was way more interesting than anybody else that played a part during the revolution: her name is Olympe de Gouges.

If you are a woman and you are proud of being a woman, this is a name you should remember and never forget.

Declaration of Rights of the WomenOlympe de Gouges, 1748-1793

Two years after the passage of the Declaration of Rights of the Man and the Citizen, she wrote the Declaration of Rights of the Women and the Female Citizen! Yeah, that’s right! Because when they passed the one from 1789… they forgot to include women on it; talking about equality! Such hypocrisy!

So what she did was to rewrite the whole version from 1789 but including women. For example in the version from 1789 says:

Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be based only on common utility.

Then she rewrote it like this:

Woman is born free and remains equal to man in rights. Social distinctions may only be based on common utility.

Another one really interesting, in the original version from 1789 says:

Each citizen has the right of noting, by himself or through his representatives, the necessity of the public contribution, of free consent, of following the employment […]

She rewrote it:

Female and male citizens have the right to verify, either by themselves of through their representatives, the necessity of the public contribution […]

Notice that in France women only got the right to vote in 1944!

In the 1789 version says:

All the citizens, being equal in its eyes, are equally admissible to all public dignities, places and employments, according to their capacity and without distinction other than that of their virtues and of their talents.

She wrote:

Male and female citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, must be equally admitted to all honors, positions, and public employment according to their capacity and without other distinctions besides those of their virtues and talents.

Alright, we all know that today women still get lower salaries and occupy less higher ranking positions in companies and bla bla bla… needless to say all the psychological oppression that comes from stereotyping. Both real serious issues of society, today!

I mean, she was a true visionary; I’m so inspired by her and so should you.

If you think that's all she got to say, you’re wrong. She was a true genius of her time, she goes beyond simply rewriting. She opens the Declaration of Rights of the Women with these so powerful and beautiful words:

Man, are you capable of being just? It is a woman who poses the question; you will not deprive her of that right at least. Tell me, what gives you sovereign empire to oppress my sex? Your strength? Your talents? Observe the Creator in his wisdom; survey in all her grandeur that nature with whom you seem to want to be in harmony, and give me, if you dare, an example of this tyrannical empire. Go back to animals, consult the elements, study plants, finally glance at all the modifications of organic matter, and surrender to the evidence when I offer you the means; search, probe, and distinguish, if you can, the sexes in the administration of nature. Everywhere you will find them mingled; everywhere they cooperate in harmonious togetherness in this immortal masterpiece. Man alone has raised his exceptional circumstances to a principle. Bizarre, blind, bloated with science and degenerated—in a century of enlightenment and wisdom—into the crassest ignorance, he wants to command as a despot a sex which is in full possession of its intellectual faculties; he pretends to enjoy the Revolution and to claim his rights to equality in order to say nothing more about it.

If you are a woman, don’t you feel inspired? Empowered?

She closes the Declaration like this:

Woman, wake up; the tocsin of reason is being heard throughout the whole universe; discover your rights. The powerful empire of nature is no longer surrounded by prejudice, fanaticism, superstition, and lies. The flame of truth has dispersed all the clouds of folly and usurpation. Enslaved man has multiplied his strength and needs recourse to yours to break his chains. Having become free, he has become unjust to his companion. Oh, women, women! When will you cease to be blind? What advantage have you received from the Revolution? A more pronounced scorn, a more marked disdain.

She wrote this in 1791, and today women are still oppressed by men in many countries, even developed countries. I wish women all over the world could learn about Olympe de Gouges and fight for their rights!

She died in 1793 by the guillotine because of her writings.

Oct 12, 2010

Upgrade your brain for $9.99 - Part V

Note: this is part V of the ‘Upgrade your brain for $9.99’ science fiction saga; click here for part I, part II, part III, or part IV if you haven’t read them yet!
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So, how do you send a spaceship to another world in the far reaches of the universe? The spaceship must travel many times faster than light or in other words, it must overcome galactic distances in a very short amount of time. But how? How do you send a ship faster than light? Through hyperspace? How do you enter hyperspace in the first place?

I always dreamed with the idea of visiting a different planet in a solar system different to ours. Set foot in extraterrestrial lands, see other oceans, and breathe other airs. Today at least seventeen different planets have been identified with oxygen atmospheres, liquid waters, and tolerable gravities for people. The closest habitable planet is Flor Azul and orbits Gliese 581, a red dwarf sun at 20 light years from ours. The only mission there took almost 130 years, and it was a microcapsule, a tiny half robotic half biological spacecraft weighting about a hundred grams and traveling at 15% of the speed of light. It has been the only mission of its kind and it consumed outrageous amounts of energy and money, so the authorities of Science City did not allow anymore missions of the kind until the capsule had arrived and all the data received, processed, and analyzed; that was 50 years ago. However no progress in reaching faster speeds has happened since almost 200 years; that’s pretty much today’s limit, 15% and less than a few kilograms or so using some crazy futuristic materials with absurd properties. So, when I’m going to set foot in another planet? I don’t think it’s going to happen in my life time.

The results from the mission to Flor Azul found out that the planet has basic photosynthetic life; something at the level of multicellular algae and that’s it, nothing like animals. So the authorities of Science City has taken the decision of starting the first human colony there in less than a century, and that the technology to send a spaceship with people at speeds at least four times faster than light will have to be developed in the next two decades.

Planet Flor Azul

For doing that they are going to use the Brain Synchronization System at a scale never attempted before. Thousands of people will be connected to a grid of brains in order to find a solution to the problem of how to send people in a spaceship faster than light. The system uses the best supercomputers on Earth and couples them to the collective brain capacity of a dozen of educated people to simulate and find answers to problems with not very obvious solutions; however, in a few days they will attempt it at a huge scale synchronizing the brains of about seven thousand people all over the world. They will be connected at different levels; at the basic level are the common people, people with no specialized knowledge on physics, biology, or anything like that, but with a great interest in the subject. They will make the bulk of the brain system and they will borrow their minds and processing power to support the simulation and analysis. At the next level there are about a hundred of scientist from pretty much all disciplines, they will provide all the theoretical fundamentals in physics, mathematics, biology, engineering, psychology, and so on… which is necessary for the creative process and innovation. At the top level will be Celest, she with her infinite knowledge will guide everyone the right path; she’s the only one with the capacity to see beyond the realms of what is possible in this universe. She’ll be the explorer that will swim to the answer in the vast and dark ocean of impossibilities.

Actually, the entire Brain Synchronization System requires her to be plugged. The only reason why it works is because of Celest existence, she was designed with the purpose of extreme supercomputing. Without her the entire system wouldn’t be possible.

In any case, I just got my last brain upgrade. This one will allow me to connect to the system, synchronize with the grid of brains, and help out with finding a solution to space travel at speeds faster than light… I guess it should be some kind of consolation since I won’t get to travel to another solar system ever. I’ve heard that the experience of being connected to the system is out of this world, so incredibly surreal. I can’t wait until it happens!

Oct 8, 2010

A lucid dream

Today I want to share with you a crazy lucid dream I had last night. I wonder if you, my dear reader, have ever heard about lucid dreams… a lucid dreams is when you remain aware and conscious during the dream, so that you know that you are dreaming and sometimes you can control your dream and do whatever you want to do: like fly, or go out on a romantic date with Megan Fox! These types of dreams are kind of uncommon, but they are indeed a real type of dream that has been researched and tested.

Female Homo sapiens sapiens commonly known as Megan Fox

In my entire life I’ve had only two dreams where I become aware that I’m dreaming. The first one might have happened already like six month ago. It happened because I frequently dream about my teeth falling out… they’re such horrible nightmares! At the beginning I used to wake up when I panicked because I had the teeth on my hand. Then more recently, when I was in panic instead of just waking up so suddenly I started to think in the dream: “I must be dreaming; this is just a dream, this is just a dream!” and then wake up. In the last dream when I had the teeth in my hand I immediately knew that I was dreaming, so I forced my teeth to reappear! And then I tried to control my dream and change scenario, but I woke up. However the dream that I want to share with you is at a completely different level of craziness!

So I was in bed falling asleep peacefully, in that kind of mental state where you’re half awake and half asleep and the most random thoughts just pass by your mind. All of a sudden, I said:

“Dream now.”

And the dream starts! I remember the entire dream from beginning to end. Once I entered the dream state my body became ethereal, like a ghost. I passed through the bed, and passed through the floor, just to appear in the air free falling precipitously. It is night: a hundred meters below, the ocean; a couple of kilometers in the distance, a huge city in the cost brightly illuminated; behind the city, a mountain chain and on top of the mountain chain there was something like the Parthenon in Athens but fifty times bigger.

So I fell and fell! And I was going to hit the water, I felt that emptiness in the stomach and the anticipation of death and pain… but I didn’t hit the water, I just passed through because I was still a ghost; I didn’t get wet, I just kept on going down through the water. Then I thought “OK, if I keep on falling I will have to wait until I get out at the other side of the Earth, but the planet is so big that it might take such a long time!” So I forced the dream to reset, and suddenly I was in the air again free falling! Once again the void feeling in the stomach, going to hit the water, and I passed through the water once more! Then I reseted the dream a second time, I was in the air falling, but this time before I hit the water I flew like Superman!

I reached the city and landed in the nightlife area. There were night clubs all around and a lot of people. I entered a random club and inside there were quite a few beautiful women in their glittering party dresses and on their tall high heels. “Best dream ever!” I thought. So then I approached some girls kind of boldly with no regard for social etiquette; they (of course) reacted with surprise and I kind of chased them away.

I got a bit upset. I’m thinking: “this is MY dream, why people have to react as they would do in real life! It’s my dream, goddamn it! So they should react as I want them to react.”

And then the dream takes an even crazier unexpected turn and becomes kind of heavy and dark so I can not give you details: it’s censured. When I couldn’t stand anymore the darkness of the dream, so that I was getting too confused and things were getting out of control, I said:

“Wake up now!”

And voila! I’m awake.

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The 'Megan Fox' pic was originally posted to Flickr by nicogenin http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicogenin/3620099396/ under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

Oct 6, 2010

The Catacombs of Paris

STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF DEATHOne of the coolest and scariest places in Paris: The Catacombs! A one kilometer long tunnel under the streets of Paris filled with the bones of more than six million skeletons. It’s definitively the most mysterious and darkest place in the City of Light.

Beware of ghosts, demons, and zombies that can snatch away a piece of your flesh if you turn around the wrong passage.

The Catacombs are located in the 14th arrondissement; you descend a spiral stairwell twenty meters underground and walk via a long tunnel system until you reach the entrance of the ossuary. You are warmly welcomed with a message engraved in the stone that says:


STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF DEATH

STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF DEATH
Then the trail of bones begins, piled up femurs and skulls in organized patterns: sordid, morbid.

STOP! THIS IS THE EMPIRE OF DEATH
My arm! Where's my arm?!!

Oct 5, 2010

Claude Monet in Paris, Exhibition 2011

I have no words to describe how sublime Claude Monet’s paintings are. Each one of them is so vivid, so colorful, and so full of intensity. My mind was blown away when I attended the new Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais of Paris; right now, the biggest one of its kind in the world, with over two hundred paintings of Monet that spans all his entire life.

It is greatness! It is a testament to talent and hard work, to a life completely dedicated and committed to art. What devotion, what love for art! I’m so impressed and so inspired.

Last Saturday night was Nuit Blanche in Paris. It translates literally White Night but it actually means a sleepless night, it’s a cultural night beginning in the evening of the Saturday and ending with the dawn of the Sunday. All museums are open over night and free, with hundreds of activities around the entire city, theater, performances, films, concerts, etc, etc, plus all the crazy people everywhere in the streets.

Me and my friends decided to go and check out the Monet exhibition that will be open until the 24th of January, 2011. We arrived at a quarter to eight in the evening just to find a huge line with a sign saying four hours waiting time! Four hours! I guess it was to discourage people because it took us only one and a half hours to clear the line. And it was TOTALLY worth every single second we spend in that stupid line; little we knew about the feast for the eye and the soul that was just about to begin.

Killing some time in the line with friends

One of my favorite paintings was Jeane-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden (1866, he was 26 then), the green of the garden is so beautiful contrasting with her white dress in the corner.

Claude Monet ParisJeane-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden

Another one of the most memorable paintings for me was The Walk, Woman with a Parasol (1875); so dreamy and ethereal!

Claude Monet Paris 2011The Walk, Woman with a Parasol

The Self Portrait (1917) is also quite amazing; he transmits this feeling of wisdom and kindness.

Claude Monet Paris 2011 Self Portrait

And last but not least… it impressed me a lot when I inspected it from a very close distance. At first glance you could think is just a bunch of lines thrown there randomly, but if you look carefully it’s actually made of thousands of colors. Pretty awesome, that painting was called Weeping Willow, Giverny (1920-1922, he was then 80 years old when he started painting it).

Cloude Monet Paris 2011Weeping Willow, Giverny

All in all, it was spectacular. If you are in Paris or coming to Paris before the exhibition is over, you must see it because it brought Monet paintings from collections all over the world; most of his greatest masterpieces are there, so probably it won’t happen again in a long time. Check out the website of the exhibition which is quite cool and has all the paintings exhibited there, click here.

Oct 1, 2010

The end of FARC and the Colombian conflict

I’m sure by now pretty much anyone that watches the news, reads a newspaper, or has a Colombian friend knows about the dead in combat of Mono Jojoy, the maximum leader of FARC. The hope for a new day without conflict seems to be just one step ahead, so close… a new era for Colombia, new times of peace, progress, and development.

Could you imagine a developed Colombia? A Colombia that is part of the G8 for example? With universities that rank in the top 100 best ones in the world? A Colombia that wins many gold medals in the Olympics and fight for the first place at the World Cup? Can you imagine a country where social classes don’t have to be categorized from one to six? Where everyone can go to school and university, where everyone gets a fair salary? A country of progress, of technological advances that have global impact? A country that exploits the biodiversity potential of its lands in a profound and sustainable way? A country with no poverty? A country with leaders that inspire you rather than disgust you? A country with no corruption at all, for example?

palma de cera colombiaColombia's national tree: Ceroxylon quindiuense

Then I realize that the reason why Colombia is not at the top goes beyond the existence of the armed conflict that has plagued our country for so many decades. I realize that the reason why Colombia is not at the top perhaps lies within us all, all of us Colombians. Some people blame the conflict that causes war, violence, devastation, and hate; some people blames the politicians and leaders that are corrupt, avaricious, and selfish; some people blames America for oppressing us with their imperialist capitalism; some people even blame the Spanish conquest from which we have been free for 200 years already!

But I blame us, every single one of us Colombians. We are all the same, one unity, one country: guerrillero, politician, homeless, entrepreneur, housewife, priest… we’re all one. We Colombians don’t fight for what is right, we behave badly, we take advantage of our neighbors and fellow citizens, we don’t respect the norms, and our values are messed up: “the Indian malice” we say proud! What the heck? We are all raised under the same values, we are all Colombians.

Where is the goodness I wonder? The desire for a better change? Why is it not a burning desire to make a Colombia a better country, the best country?

How is it possible that the military would kill thousands of innocent people just to cash a money reward as in the “false positive” scandals?

How is it possible that some people using the so called “Ponzi Schemes” wouldn’t mind to leave millions of Colombians in poverty?

I remember when I last came to Colombia three years ago; I switched on the news on TV and the first thing that I saw was a man that was stabbed to death just because he told the perpetrator not to pee on the street! And also some people set a minibus on fire with the passengers still alive inside, for whatever reason! All that in the same day!

Don’t be fooled my dear readers, because they are also part of Colombia, these are the people we go to school with, we pass them by when we walk down the street. These people are just the other Colombian that thought such acts of criminality were OK. How can someone do anything like that?

So what does it take to rocket our country Colombia to the heights of progress and development? What does it take to see Colombia at the top? What do we have to do?

_______________________
The 'Palma de Cera' pic was originally posted to Flickr by Natalia Vivas at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mollyparker/3359041426/ under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic.

Sep 28, 2010

Life decisions and career choices

It’s again that time of my life when I must make a huge decision; a decision that will certainly change my life and take me—hopefully—closer to the place I dream of... literally and figuratively.

I've experienced this moment previously three times in my life. The first one, when I was 16 years old and I had to choose what I wanted to be when I grew up. The second one, when I was 21 years old and I had to choose what I was going to do once I finished my Biology studies. The third one, when I was 26 years old and I had to choose what I was going to do once I finished my PhD. Now I have to decide again, what I’m going to do now that my contract will finish the 4th of February of next year.

It’s such a scary position to be. That uncertainty, the fear that things will suddenly go wrong and I’ll have to suffer the whole weight of the hardships of life. I don’t want to suffer the hardships of life, I want to live my dreams, I want to enjoy them. I know it’s cliché but we live only once: only once I’ll have this body, only once I’ll be 27 years old, only once I’ll have the chance to enjoy this thing called life. So why do we have to live a life of suffering and hardships? I reject suffering and hardships! Is it a shallow way of thinking?

The first time I saw myself in this position back to 1999, I took my final decision based in my strong desire of moving away from my hometown. I had to leave Montería Desert at all cost (a remote place in South America)… the situation became extremely complicated when I failed to pass the entry examination for the national public university in Bogotá (the capital of Colombia, a remote place in South America). Then I thought I was doomed since I didn’t have enough money to pay a private university; I thought I’d have to suffer the scorching heat of Montería Desert for the rest of my life. But things took an unexpected turn and thanks to a series of fortunate events I managed to escape Montería Desert, moved to Bogotá and entered to a private university. The decision of going to Bogotá to study biology was not very difficult; I could’ve studied physics if it wasn’t because my aunt (the woman that would pay my university) told me that if I wanted to study physics I could stay in Montería Desert. That is because there was physics at the public university in my hometown but not biology… I said to my aunt:

“hmmm… I think I like biology much better than physics.”

Welcome to Montería Desert

The second time things also were looking black and hopeless. I was leaving in a tiny apartment with my mother and my aunt and things were going crazy in Bogotá, we didn’t have a penny at all, paying bills was hell, paying my university fee was the greatest ordeal a man has ever experienced since my aunt had already ran out of money! Even before finishing my Biology studies I saw myself forced to take CVs to schools around town to try to get a job as a teacher… but I didn’t want to be a teacher! And besides who’s going to pay attention to the unsolicited CV of an undergraduate student with very little to offer? I ended up throwing the CVs in the trash cans and stayed walking randomly in Bogotá instead of delivering them to the schools. I really couldn’t see at the time how I was going to get out of such precarious situation.

But again, life took an unexpected turn and I got to meet a teacher that would give me perhaps the best advice I’ve ever got in my entire life… he advised me that I should write to laboratories around the world and ask for a postgraduate position. I said to him:

“Just like that? Is that even possible?”

Panoramic view of Bogotá

And lo and behold, sooner than later I was on my way to Sweden. In this case my decision wasn’t to go to Sweden, I decided for a specific career path that resulted into me starting a PhD at Uppsala University in the most non-standard of ways.

The third time wasn’t so long ago, early 2009. I was about to finish my PhD and of course I had to decide on my next step. My decisions then were constrained by another set of situations: on one side, I need to see for my mom and my dad that are pentionless and jobless. I couldn’t afford to take a job where my salary would be less than what I already earned as a last year PhD student. It’s scary to feel that if things go wrong you might be giving a step backward… at least, it’s scary to me. On the other side, the salary of an academic researcher isn’t one of the best out there, it’s actually pretty mediocre (with a few exceptions). I think that for the type of job we do we should definitively earn a way more competitive salary, we deserve better, and with “we” I mean the scientists of the world. In any case, I should not complain because I’m aware that the majority of human kind lives in worst conditions than I do.

Uppsala, Sweden. How much I love you!

Also at the time I was dreaming with living in Japan (I still am). That was my first choice and my first goal. It didn’t happen, most of my job applications to Japan were turned down; I had the chance to join a laboratory in Okayama if I was able to get certain fellowship, but it didn’t happen. Instead I came to Paris which was my second possibility, a safe possibility. I’m yet not sure if coming to Paris was the best decision, it’s still too early to say.

Today I’m again trying to figure out the best course of action and as before, there are certain circumstances and conditions that makes the decision an extremely complicated—and scary—one.

The author, walking the streets of Paris

Nonetheless, if something I've learnt in all these years is that the only way to make the best decision regarding your career path is to have the conviction that your dreams will come true and that you will accomplish your goals; believe in them no matter what because that’s all you’ve got.

And things will happen, they will most definitively happen... and one day when you less expect it, you’ll be there… in the place of your dreams, literally and figuratively.


___________________
The pic of the dunes is licensed by Bertrand Devouard ou Florence Devouard under the terms of the cc-by-sa-3.0. The panoramic image from Bogotá was originally posted to Flickr by somnoliento at http://flickr.com/photos/87073872@N00/409552274 under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.

Sep 24, 2010

Une belle histoire d'amour - Chapter III

This is the last chapter of 'Une belle histoire d'amour', click in the link to go to chapter I or chapter II.

Finale

It is Sunday now, the final day of our romance. We saw each other in the evening, this time we went to the coziest Italian restaurant; we ate something delicious and enjoyed a glass of wine… after that we went to a café to keep celebrating those feelings of love that would soon have to end. And even though this was just the third time we had met, it actually felt as if we had been in a relationship for quite some time, the trust, the tenderness, the whole interaction.

It is amazing the true nature of love… this short romance gave me a complete new perspective about what love really is. I must say that what I felt right there, those feelings we shared, were identical as if we have been very much in love for a long time… we were extremely high in whichever hormone mix that produces the effect of exhilaration and, for a lack of a better word: love.

If someone in the world dare to say that it is not possible to “be in love” after seeing someone just for one or two days; I would tell them:

"Foolish! You do not know anything about love!"

But do not take me wrong, it is not that I had “fallen in love” in such way that I would have asked her to marry me or to move in with me right there… it is the feeling of being in love what I am talking about, what we felt, the way we talked to each other, the way we touched each other, the way we behaved with each other, the way we listened to each other, the way we understood each other. I can tell that what we experienced there, in those three days was as real and authentic and perhaps even better than what people in serious long-term relationships might have ever felt.

With the additional great advantage that there is not a painful break up, just an extremely grateful goodbye.

Une belle histoire d'amour - Chapter II

This is chapter II of Une belle histoire d'amour; if you haven't read he first chapter chick here.

Aria

At the time I was just about to become twenty five and she was six years older than me. I do not remember exactly when she told me her age, it did not really matter at all. Her eyes were full of intensity, and she had an elegant posture, a very enticing demeanor, and the sorts of smiles that warm your soul. At the same time although not apparently when I met her, she was more of the bohemian style, a country side and nature loving woman.

The party was over around one o’clock in the night, and we decided to walk to the nearest fast food place at the city square, just to talk some more and have a snack. In this short love story, I think that could be considered our first date. Then I walked her home, we exchanged numbers and talked about seen each other again, and as a goodnight present she kissed me.

Mademoiselle B had arrived to Uppsala just to spend the weekend and visit her friend. She was studying and working in the south most part of Sweden; which meant that she’d be travelling almost seven hundred kilometers, back home, on Sunday. At the moment I imagined that she would be spending most of her time with her friend rather than me, so I did not expect to see her again. However, I was very wrong; it was on Saturday night that I got to see her again. She was at a friend of a friend’s house party and I and my people were at another of the student societies, Norrlands Nation.

The society’s building is a huge mansion also from the XIX century, spacious and beautiful. When it becomes a nightclub and the full house is open it has a dark mysterious touch, with very large rooms that give place to small corridors here and there. We exchanged a couple of text messages during the evening and planned to meet at the Nation. I assumed she was coming with all her friends after the house party but to my good surprise, she came alone: which meant only one thing… she left the party and had come just to meet me.

I introduced her to my friends and we danced a couple of minutes but our hearts were ablaze so we decided to go and sit down somewhere more intimate where we could talk. However this time the conversation quickly turned into kisses and sweet caresses. The intoxicatingly delicious drug of love started impregnating every atom of our bodies and every particle of whatever the mind is made of.

That night had been destined for us and we fulfilled such destiny as it was written in the book of life. We let ourselves be consumed by the divine fire of passion and our existence for that very brief moment of time became inextricably intertwined.

To go to the final chapter click here.

Une belle histoire d'amour - Chapter I

Overture
A lot of times we think that the most beautiful love stories are those ones where the bond between the lovers is so strong that it endures the unstoppable pass of time and overcomes even the most difficult obstacles. I disagree, I believe there is also immense beauty in very short relationships were love blooms fast and intense like the dandelion early in the spring, just to wither as fleetingly.

It was the beginning of March of the year 2008, Sweden: the copious amounts of snow where already melting away. I met her a Thursday night in one of the nightclubs organized weekly by the student societies (also known as Nations) from Uppsala University. Thursday nights belong to Stockholms Nation, a big house half modern from the 60’s and half from the XIX century. The place is famous (or better, infamous) for attracting the best looking girls in Uppsala and according to my very objective opinion as an artist; I think it is true.

I was chilling out with my very good friend, we were at a lounge a little bit apart from the madness of the dance floors; we were just drinking a couple of beers standing up and leaning on a tall pub table, talking some bullshit. To my left I had the most annoying and arrogant individual, and right in front of me at the other side of the table there were a couple of very beautiful ladies talking and chilling out too.

I remember the annoying guy to be from Costa Rica or something like that but living in New York City; he was bragging about the new job he had recently got as a photographer where he was going to earn incredible amounts of money. He was obnoxious, jumping and waving his hands from one side to the other… suddenly with a clumsy move he hit the table, bottle and glasses fell spilling beer and drinks everywhere. The two girls in front of me turned around to check what was going on and exchanged a couple of words with the annoying Costa Rica guy; he felt embarrassed and left to never come back and thus the conversation was automatically transferred to me:

“My name is Dr. T, what’s your name?”

“Mademoiselle B, nice to meet you.”

And the conversation started flowing smooth like the finest silk. And the cold side-by-side conversation slowly turned into a face-to-face, eye-to-eye, intimate and deep conversation… and time started to distort in that way that it is only possible when there is a strong chemistry. Mademoiselle B’s friend went away when she got bored just to reappear later and give her goodbyes, my good friend did equally. And so it started, perhaps one of the sweetest (and shortest) romantic experiences in my life.

Click here to read chapter II

_____________________
If you didn't read the previous love story, check it out here!

Sep 22, 2010

Thank you letter to my dear readers

I never imagined that writing a blog could be so much fun! I had been thinking for a while about creating a blog and I never dared to do it because I was afraid I would leave it unfinished after just a few entries. However, I don’t know what changed within me but I took my chances, and it has become almost addictive… it has been very rewarding because it is the perfect excuse for me to write, perhaps my only true passion. I feel that my spirit has been unleashed, I feel freer.

But what is a blog without people to read it? Writing this blog has also been very rewarding because in such a short time I’ve had more readers than I could have ever imagined, it has totally exceeded my expectations: including friends, relatives, and random people from all over the world. I’ve had readers already from all the continents except Africa!

The dots are the last 100 readers, almost all the corners of the Earth!

I wonder what’s wrong with Africa that they are missing of such wonderful and poetic writings!?

I want to thank you, I feel indebted, because in you I find the motivation. I want to show you a bit of myself, a bit of what I’m doing and of what I’m thinking, I want you to smile, to be entertained, to steal you a laugh. Perhaps to teach you something, perhaps to inspire you a little bit. And you never know, you never know what good will result from it, what seeds of goodness and happiness might sprout out of those letters.

Thank you so much for reading, for giving me those minutes of your time; I hope your visit was worthy and I will see you again… because the next story I want to share with you will be out very soon!

Take care,
Tanai

Sep 18, 2010

The Pelvic Strike

You are just about to learn the most amazing dance move of all time. A dance move that transcends time, cultures, religions, borders, and musical genre. This ancient secret dance move had been passed down generations of great dancers since the dawn of human kind, it helped shape civilizations and has an impressive hypnotic power capable of entrancing huge crowds. All of those who have understood and practiced these moves had undoubtedly achieved greatness.

Without further ado I introduce you: The Pelvic Strike.

1. In order to perform the Pelvic Strike successfully it is necessary to assume a powerful stance, this stance is a declaration of conquest, it tells the masses around that you have conquered the world, that the dance floor and the universe belongs to you. This is accomplished by pointing towards the sky with your right arm, the arm should be lifted at least 20° above the shoulders. It is extremely important that your arm is fully extended, your elbow must NOT bend at any time otherwise it would imply hesitation on your heart.

pelvic thrust2. The knee of your right leg should be slightly bent forward, and your left hand should be around the hip level. This helps to draw attention to the pelvic area.

pelvic thrust3. Move your pelvis backward.

pelvic thrust4. Then STRIKE! The “strike” is accomplished by thrusting your pelvis forward with impetus! Then the pelvis is moved backwards again as in step 3, just to thrust forward once more: a smooth thrusting motion is essential for achieving a powerful entrancing effect. Some people make the mistake to call this move “the pelvic thrust”, this is incorrect.

pelvic thrust5. After a few seconds of pelvic striking with your right arm pointing to the sky, step 1 to 4 should be repeated this time with the left hand to the sky.

6. Use with moderation.

7. Conquer the world.

Sep 16, 2010

The Foreigner by Charles Baudelaire

Two of my all time favorite poems were written by French authors; here I present you The Foreigner by Charles Baudelaire. It’s a poem in prose and I find it awesome. I did actually feel very identified with the foreigner back then when I was a very existentialist teenager. Today it doesn’t have the same meaning as it used to, but I still treasure it very much in my heart.

The poem was published in 1869, after Baudelaire’s death: a collection of poems in prose, the book was called Le Spleen de Paris. Who knew more than ten years later I’d be walking down the streets of the City of Light. There you go:

The Foreigner

"Who do you love the most, enigmatic man? Your father,
your mother, your sister or your brother?"
"I have neither father, nor mother, nor sister, nor brother."
"Your friends?"
"There you’re using a word that to this day I’ve never understood."
"Your country?"
"I don’t know at what latitude it’s situated."
"Beauty?"
"I would willingly love it, goddess and immortal."
"Gold?"
"I hate it as you hate God."
"Well, what do you love then, extraordinary stranger?"
"I love the clouds... the clouds passing... up there... up there... the marvelous clouds!"

Charles Baudelaire, translation by Raymond N. Mackenzie, 2008.

Charles Baudelaire I love the passing clouds foreignerThe passing clouds...

Sep 15, 2010

Upgrade your brain for $9.99 - Part IV

Note: this is part IV of the ‘Upgrade your brain for $9.99’ saga; click here for part I, part II, and part III if you haven’t read them yet.
_____________________


There are times when our ideals and convictions compel us to sacrifice everything we have and everything we are to protect that what is most cherished. There are times when a life more precious than our own must be protected at the cost of unbearable pain, at the cost of our very lives, we get no choice. It is at those moments in time when we think death is upon us, when we know the thread of our lives is about to break, when we are about to inhale our last breath with our reason-to-be still unfulfilled, with the missions of our souls incomplete; it is at those moments that we can summon unbelievable strength, the strength necessary to protect what is most valuable, the strength to protect that which otherwise would cease to exist.

This is the tale of Tetsuzaemon, champion of champions, the indestructible tower.

This is the tale of Tetsuszaemon, undefeated Yokozuna, protector of Celest.

This is the tale of the death of Tetsuzaemon.

They had finally arrived at the core of Science City; the Gates of Exact Truth rose mighty, way above their heads. At each side of the door a guard robot stood like a war elephant, one ton, two-and-a-half meter tall, solid metal, shining silver. Dwarfed right in front, the voluminous Tetsuzaemon stood challenging, sweating and breathing heavily, a step behind stood Celest wearing a dark blue dress that contrasted with her extremely pale albino skin and in her right hand she held a black worn out stuffed bear.

How Tetsuzaemon, the greatest sumo wrestler, became Celest protector is another tale that shall be told later.

Then, she commanded:

“Open the gate.”

The eyes of the robots lit up synchronously and a second later the metallic beasts charged towards them with brutal speed aiming at killing with one punch. However, as if he had predicted their attack Tetsuzaemon with fast reflexes stopped each of the robot’s fists with his bare palms. The impact felt like being stroke by a lightning of iron because the metallic surface of the robot was protected with an electric field. How Tetsuzaemon managed to stand still and not be thrown into the air is a mystery that can not be solved. Perhaps a secret stance passed down generations of sumo wrestler since immemorial centuries? Or just luck? In any case, his hands were burned, and the bones of his arms might have been fractured at several places.

“Out of the way vermin!” Said one robot.

And with the swing of an arm the machine slapped Tetsuzaemon in the face so hard that his body spun a couple of times in the air and tumbled down several meters after landing on the floor. Blood poured out of his face, and surely his jaw and face bones were broken in a thousand pieces; Tetsuzaemon lay unconscious.

One of the robots picked up Celest and lifted her above the ground; he could almost embrace her completely with one hand. With the other one he was ready to strike a blow. She screamed in pain as she was being electrocuted by the grasp of the behemoth, tears flowed uncontrollably, and fear of universal dimensions overtook her.

Perhaps it was the sound of her voice that resonated within Tetsuzaemon’s mind; perhaps it was the will to protect what he loved that still burned within his heart. But right before the robot stroke the finishing blow Tetsuzaemon had jumped onto the robot’s shoulder and with the force of titans tore off its arm releasing Celest. With the same force he swung the metallic arm to the robot’s head which broke and ended up landing on the other robot’s hands. The machines had not calculated that a mere human made of flesh and fluids could defeat its kind.

When the remaining robot tried to react it was already too late. Tetsuzaemon had charged with such impetus that the metallic beast lifted off the ground and crashed against the gate. Then jumping on the machine’s torso and using both hands the human was able to pull off its head while supporting the intense electric discharges.

Tetsuzaemon mission was complete now, his reason-to-be fulfilled. The blow that the robot had landed on Tetsuzaemon’s face had left him unconscious and at the edge between life and death, he had fought unconscious, he had protected Celest moved solely by the flaming will of his heart.

Tetsuzaemon kneeled and exhaled his last breath and the thread of his life finally broke.

It was now the time for Celest to complete her mission, but that is another tale that shall be told later.

____________
Clich here to go to part V of 'Upgrade your brain for $9.99'!

Sep 12, 2010

A tragic love story in Bogota

This is perhaps the weirdest romantic experience I’ve ever had in my life, and it’s as funny as it’s sad. I’ll remember this story until the day that I die because it affected me deeply.

All started during the second half of the year 2000, I was at the time seventeen years old and it was the second semester of my Biology studies in Bogotá. I was taking the Invertebrates class, and because of a new change in the Biology program the students from the second semester were taking the same class with the students from the third semester. She was my senior and probably she was a bit older than me, I will never know; she was a beautiful girl, I remember her with a long, wavy, and voluminous dirty blond hair with some highlights, maybe a couple of centimeters taller than me, her style was not really the “biologist” type but she was quite cool, and she kind of had already earned a reputation of not being the brightest; which I honestly thought it was very unfair and kind of stimulated my sympathy for her. Let’s call her, Miss X.

Our eye may have met a few times, that subtle body language, that imperceptible signals, I don’t know exactly what it was, but I started to get the feeling that she liked me. Today I know I was right, that natural instinct to detect attraction never fails! And despite that I knew and that I kind of liked her too, I never tried to talk to her; the opportunity never came during class… yet it came later in the most unexpected way.

Louvre Moseum glass pyramid parisWe were having a field trip down to the Atlantic cost of Colombia deep in the wilderness of the jungles at the Tayrona Park, what a paradise! The trip was exciting and very intense, and one of those days after a long session of forced labor chasing insects, we were on the bus back to the cabins we were staying at. There were more people than the bus could take so all the seats were taken and some people were standing; I was lucky to catch a place sitting at the window and next to me a girl in the class I’ve never met before, but somehow friend of Miss X. I’m sitting there happily ever after, when suddenly Miss X decided there was enough space for her too, between her friend and me… come on, it’s a bus! And there she went, she was wearing nothing more than a tiny bikini, she squeezed herself there and finally she ended up with one leg on top of me (to my inner satisfaction and torment). I honestly didn’t know what to do, shy as I was… and then as a perfect example of my sophisticated seduction techniques I decided to do what no man would dare to do...

I faked that I fell asleep.

Three years later we had class together again, I don’t remember which class it was anymore. It had been a long time since I saw her and to my surprise I still kept on getting those vibes of mutual attraction. And three years later I was still unable to talk to her… so when I had no doubts in my mind that there was something going on, I came up with the brilliant idea to write her love letters. Not only I wrote her love letters, but I wasn’t anonymous, so she knew it was me the one writing her… so I started sending her emails using the university accounts, I told her a million things, I told her that I was just paralyzed when she was close to me, I told her that I knew she felt something for me too, I told her about the moon and the sun, the oceans and the flowers, I told her many things because I wrote her many times. Miss X didn’t answer a single time, but she was not completely unaffected; she gave me obvious chances every time in class and I never took the risk to talk to her. I could feel in her behavior that she would welcome my approach and I never approached her… Today I’m not sure how much I could have touched her heart but once in the middle of the class, she was sitting close to me and all of a sudden she burst into tears and ran out of the classroom. Was it because of me? Again, I will never know.

And like that it came the last day I saw her, classes were over and I went to pick up the results of some exams right before holidays. The university was empty, and after I got my results I was going back home when I saw Miss X with the corner of my eye, she was walking in my direction; however, I kept on going as if I didn’t see her. I gave a few more steps when suddenly she called me:

“Tanai!”

I stopped and waited for her to come close. Then she asked me a completely random question:
“Do you know when the results of the exam are published?”

She knew that the results were already published, that was the only reason we were there at the university to begin with! But I didn’t get it, I didn’t get it at all. So I said:

“Yeah, they’re already there at the teacher’s office.”

Then I said goodbye, I turned myself, and I walked away from her!

That exact moment is the very same reason why I will never forget Miss X, because there, when I was turning I saw her expression of disconcert and confusion; it was a fraction of a second but it was so so so very clear: it definitively added to the transformation of my soul that at the time had recently started to happen.

The end.

Moral of the story:
take your chances; take your chances at everything you do in life if you don’t want to live with regrets.

Sep 10, 2010

A Thursday night in Paris with illustrations in color

Even the simplest of things like having a beer with your buddies can become a very rich “cultural” experience when you’re in Paris.

It’s Thursday, the weekend is so close, but you just can’t wait.

Yeah, that’s how I feel most Thursdays. So being true to my feelings I texted my friend Mikael (a half French half Swedish guy) to go for a couple of beers that night. We planned to meet at the Opéra metro station, 20.30, and go to a place called Footsie. When you get out of the metro station you're welcomed by the beautiful and impressive sight of the Opéra de Paris, the Palais Garnier. It’s a magnificent sight; two majestic golden angels at each side of the palace foretell that the beer’s going to be expensive… but worthy!

Palais Garnier, a rainy Thursday evening in Paris

Have you heard about the Palais Garnier? I’m sure you’ve heard about The Phantom of the Opera… well, that’s where the story occurs.

Just around the corner, at Rue Daunou we find Footsie. This is a little bar; at a first glance, just like any other but it’s actually very peculiar… you notice that the drinks menu is displayed in two flat screens up in the wall behind the bar. The screen shows you the list of drinks and at the left of some of them there’s either a green arrow pointing downwards or a red arrow pointing upwards; at the upper right corner of the screens you see a countdown. It just happens to be that the price of the drinks is not stable, it changes every five minutes! It varies depending on the behavior of the stock market (or so they say)… five minutes and half-a-pint could be €5 and then five minutes later it’s €3.5! The green arrow means the price has gone down and the red one means that’s more expensive than before. So you must time it in such a way that you buy the beer when the price is low! I think it can vary about two Euro or more… it’s kind of entertaining waiting to see which beer we’ll be lower next time.

Another particularly cultural aspect of Footsie is that very beautiful and young women go there to chill out and let go, right afterwork; but rising above all the beauties you find the waitress! She’s Cleopatra mixed with Megan Fox, a super stunning brunette running around in her high heels picking up glasses and doing waitress stuff… so so very sweet.

Why to go home when you can chill out at Rue Daunou?

Also in the same street you find Harry’s New York Bar! Which (according to Wikipedia) may be the most famous bar in the world… maybe… it seems that this bar was frequented by famous people like Hemingway and Coco Chanel, among others. Now visited by such an illustrious citizen like Dr. Tanai Cardona! I had a mojito there one week ago or so, and I thought it was funny that the bartenders where wearing white coats, just like the lab coats of a scientist: I felt an immediate connection.

Harry's New York Bar

Night is still young, so we visit a couple other bars. The first one with the quality that the beer is cheaper than Footsie even when the prices are at the lowest (yet, still far from the price you would get in the Check Republic or Hungary: where you find the only fair and true price of a beer!!!). This bar is called Duck, for a younger audience, mostly students and many internationals. The second one is cozy and cool, a trio started playing around half past eleven… country road, take me home, to the place I belong… ♪♫

I’m back at home at 00.15.

6.30, my mobile’s alarm rings. That awful sound announcing the start of a new day after barely five hours of sleep. But now’s Friday, the time has come to celebrate, once again!

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The pic of the flatscreen at Footsie was taken by Giulia, click here to visit her photos at flickr. The pic of Harry's New York Bar was taken by Abstract-Thinking, visit his flickr here.