gaudi, day 2

brawp

If only he were puking Sour Patch Kids.

the sacred suppository

Torre Agbar and La Sagrada Familia

ar-guell

This lizard is everywhere. Personally, I found it a little underwhelming. Love the argyle though!

making art

This is probably what I look like all the time. Except I’m, you know, Asian, so I’ve got that sweet stereotype going for me, which is nice.

candyland

Sorry Joey, I stole your caption.

All in all, a pleasurable day wandering around Park Guell.

mas comidas

jamonador

Slicing a sliver of delicioso.

chocolate con churros

Traditional Spanish breakfast: a full cup of chocolate with churros. No, I also don’t know why the entire country hasn’t died of diabetes yet.

navajas

madre corniz

Absolutely delightful.

chirrup!

Beep!

Back for a few days and I’m already missing eating tapas for every meal.

spanish nights

cortes ingles

ho hum

To properly picture the Cortes Ingles, start with Macy’s, but then stack a Best Buy on top, then a Crate & Barrel on top of that, a Home Depot design center on top of that, and put the entire stack onto a Whole Foods. There are probably other stores in there too; I only visited 6 out of 9 levels in the one I went to.

granadan fountain

The photo that didn’t make the cut had a woman holding about 100 Sponge Bob balloons.

catalunya paella

A great order by YT.

eagle claws

Don’t ask, don’t tell. It made sense at the time. Perhaps it was all the delicious paella.

I’m back in NJ now, returning to CO tomorrow.

The trip back wasn’t terribly hard, but we had our share of airport incidents. In MAD, a huge group of Italians started screaming at the gate agent near us. You might be asking yourself, “how can you tell if Italians are angry or if they’re just talking?” A good rule of thumb is to count the number of vaffanculos being screamed per minute. Anything over 136 is likely to indicate anger.

In OPO, we got to experience the new TSA security theatre firsthand. They had to delay our flight by 1.5 hours in order to perform a second security check at the gate, wanding every single passenger and inspecting every single carryon. A lot of people can fit onto an Airbus A330.

It’s the second time I’ve been unimpressed with Portuguese airport logistics. During our EU entry, after processing through customs, trying to re-enter the secure area to connect was an absolute joke. Somehow, in LIS, they decided that it would be a good idea for all the connecting passengers to get their bags, go up an escalator to a landing, and go through a single security gate. Except that the landing was approximately 15′ x 15′, so there was nowhere to really form a line once more than say, 20 passengers and their bags were there. As you might guess, things go south quickly when the contents of an entire Airbus are trying to fit on that landing. People and their bags were getting spit off the escalator and hitting an immobile wall of human flesh, stuck behind the incredibly slow single security gate. Of course the people below the landing couldn’t see the cluster above them, so they’d blithely get on the escalator, expecting (like normal people do) that there’d be somewhere to form a queue, not realizing that upon nearing the top, they were about to become part of soul-sucking blob.

So anyway, flying got even worse when we were away and I’m seriously thinking about curtailing my travel in the future because of the buffoons at the TSA. At least I didn’t have to suffer the indignities of being fingerprinted in two phases (first all four fingers, then separate thumb phase) and having a mug shot taken, as our US customs did to every single non-citizen during our re-entry today. I don’t know why anyone would want to visit the US under those conditions. I’d certainly avoid countries with that requirement.

I bet al Qaeda have evolved their business model. When they were in stealth startup mode, taking out a single Sikorsky with a Stinger missile felt pretty good. Then they IPO’ed, experienced some salad days with 9/11 and Madrid, really getting some efficiencies of scale and putting the “mass” back into WMD. But now, like any mature organization, the accountants are running the business, and they’re milking the cash cow for all it’s worth, putting out crappy releases (Richard Reid, the latest idiot Abdulmutallab ) that no true mujahideen would ever associate with (“back in my day, we made IEDs out of liquid hot magma!”), but still somehow sucking billions of dollars from their consumer base.

[In case the analogy isn’t clear, I’m referring to the immense costs of our pathetically wasteful security theatre.]

Somewhere, some al Qaeda dickhead with an HP 12C is laughing his ass off at us, all the way to the hawaladar.

10mm of barcelona

contrasting waves

Not my favourite shot; the b&w treatment was a crutch to try and distract you from the poor lighting and unfocused composition. Left it uncropped on purpose to demonstrate how not to fill a frame. Also, I need some adult diapers to handle all that blowout.

mano de oro brick facade

Actually, neither of these were taken with the 10-22. But I wanted to do Barcelona architecture… oh well.

limpieza

I like the depth of this photo, but it’s otherwise pretty boring.

cinco de barco

Deliberate distortion effects. Again, not my best composition, but was just trying to get a feel for what the new lens can do.

Shooting with the 10-22 is as challenging as advertised. It’s been quite tricky to compose with and coaxing art out of it isn’t quite the walk in the park that I’d originally imagined. Part of the problem is that I’m trying to treat it as a more limited version of my main workhorse lens (17-55 F/2.8) which has a bigger range and is almost twice as fast. Of course, trying to use the 10-22 in this manner is missing the point completely.

I need to think wider.

In the meantime, expect a bunch more lousy “my first SLR” photos. Sorry for the future eye-stabbings.

scenes from zaragoza

basilica

pull me

floaters

bicing

Why haven’t rent-a-bikes caught on in the US yet?

37 38 39

38 and 39 are what people look and feel like after trying to keep up with Grace on a full day of tourism. She draws energy from the space-time continuum itself and gets stronger with every sight she sees. I never thought keeping up with a 60-year old 4’10” woman could be so difficult.

feliz año!

triomf perros

of course

Grace loves Steve Ricks. Or was it Rick Stevens?

mas cerveza, por favor

Avast! Leonard smiles!

tighten up!

Teaching my mom how to tighten up a portrait, by running towards the lens.

“Mom, you’re standing too far away. You gotta stand closer. Closer! CLOSER! Forget it, I’m coming to you!”

escuchanderos

Only a few hours from the new year here in Granada and everything is just about shut down.

Tomorrow, Toledo.

feliz navidad

¡nom!

Another 4/5 Chiang family vacation, along with honorary guest Joey Ferrari, this time in Spain.

After two layovers in Portugal, we finally made it to Madrid. While most shops and sights are closed, the city doesn’t feel empty at all, as the Madrileños love their navidad paseos. Crowds were thronging and a-thrumming in the plazas as we wandered with them.

museo del jamon

One thing is for certain: I love jamón ibérico and plan on stuffing as much of it into my jamón-hole as possible.

tio pepe

plaza

gambas

Feeling a bit pinchy. I need to sleep and get un-jetlagged, quick.