Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Some thoughts for the New Year from the Dalai Lama

Earlier this week, a friend of mine posted some quotes from the Dalai Lama on Facebook. Regardless of what religion you practice or subscribe to, you cannot help but something insightful here.

Hope you all have a Happy New Year and wonderful 2012 full of love, health and happiness.

1- Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.

2- If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them.

3- If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

4- My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.

5- Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

6- The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual’s own reason and critical analysis.

7- We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.

8- We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

9- Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

10- If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then there is also no need to worry.

11- If you don’t love yourself, you cannot love others. You will not be able to love others. If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.

12- Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master.

13- We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. That the happiness of one person or nation is the happiness of humanity.

14- Through violence, you may ‘solve’ one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.

15- As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it.

16- To conquer oneself is a greater victory than to conquer thousands in a battle.

17- There is a saying in Tibetan, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.”
No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.

18- The creatures that inhabit this earth-be they human beings or animals-are here to contribute, each in its own particular way, to the beauty and prosperity of the world.

19- A spoon cannot taste of the food it carries. Likewise, a foolish man cannot understand the wise man´s wisdom even if he associates with a sage.

20- In our struggle for freedom, truth is the only weapon we possess.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Tom Cruise is a Bad Ass

I always say, say what you want about Tom Cruise, but as an actor, he is awesome.  Yes, its crazy to swing from the Burj and all that, but he did it and it was entertaining.

An image I took of Burj Khalifa
back in Dec 2009 before it was open
Sometime last year it was announced that the new Mission Impossible film would be shot in Dubai.  Pretty exciting.  Even though there are a a fair amount of films shot around this region, to have such a blockbuster wouldn't be such a bad thing.

So one day in November 2010 I come home from work and look out the window at the Burj Khalifa.  I see a man scaling down the tower with way too much finesse to be a window washer.  I had my suspicions and thought this might be something to do with the film.  After all, how can you not shoot an action movie here and not feature this massive structure that is 828 meters / 2,716 feet high?

The following weekend I looked up as I was having my breakfast and low and behold there were a few people swinging and running up and down the Burj as a helicopter hovered over.  As we know Tom Cruise likes to do a lot of his own stunts, I would have bet money that was him.  Reports and pictures later confirmed it was.

Its a bird, its a plane, no its Tom Cruise!
I don't have any kind of zoom that can reach that far, but I still took a few snapshots.  - So excuse the poor quality and noise in the images further down.

Wondering how to explain this to my son who was only finishing age 2 at the time, I didn't really have to because he was more interested in the helicopter than the fact that there were some crazy guys playing on the tall building.  I accept he is a risk taker, but I don't want to feed too many crazy ideas in that department just yet!

It was impressive because they were at it all day, all weekend.  I heard they also continued the following weekend, but we were traveling, so didn't see it.  So at least 3 or 4 days of filming for just a few seconds, or a minute of a thrilling scene.

We finally went to see the film on Christmas Eve.  I like a good caper film and a little action is always welcome.  In my opinion, it delivered.  It was fun and I would be lying if I said I was not interested to see my apartment building from that angle.

Tom came back to Dubai to open the movie at the Dubai Film Festival in early December of this year.  The press said that he invited all the extras to the movie.  I thought that was really decent.  Based on all the buzz and snapshots in the newspapers about him, he seems like he is a decent guy.  While he came here to make money and do crazy stunts for his movie, at the end of the day he worked hard and earned it.  He didn't have crazy publicity stunts where people paid thousands of dollars to have dinner with him and then sneak out, nor did he come here looking for his new best friend for a "reality" show, he just came here and did his job.  Not just a bad ass, but a classy one too!

Be sure to check Google images as there are
way better images of this out there than mine!
Yes, Tom Cruise is that spec on the outside

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dubai Architecture

I am finally going to take the plunge and put up some of my pictures. I have wrapped up another course in my pursuit of a Masters in Photography at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I am doing this as a distance program online. Don't underestimate online education - it is no joke if you are at a good school. This explains my blog hiatus.

I have many many images .. some not bad, some really bad. But, a girl has got to start somewhere. I have toyed with the idea of a proper website for this, but I am still not quite sure what the goal is, so for now I bring you a few architecture images from Dubai in my latest series.

It is only within the last 10 years that Dubai has become known for its larger than life architecture. This is amazing considering that before the discovery of oil and gas in the UAE building materials were rather primitive. Typical homes and buildings were made with mud blocks, fossilized coral bonded with sarooj (a mixture of Iranian red clay and manure), or a lime mixture derived from seashells, and plastered with chalk and water paste. In addition to availability, these materials also have very low thermal conductivity, so they were ideal for the intense heat of the region. My series presents some elements, or details of traditional architecture in Dubai. Some from the original structures, others are new structures made in the traditional style.

Sunlight was essential to make this happen because the traditional structures can be quite plain as a result of their function - first for climate control and secondly for privacy. There are many walls, so the beauty is in the detail, which is often very simple and minimalist. 

An old wind tower
A nice ray of light in the Bastikya area
A lantern in Bastikya

Jumeriah Mosque

More Bastikya