Aug 172005

Better extremely late than never, right? I finally finished adding comments to all of my photos from three weeks in Peru last December.

I also put up some random photos of last Sunday.

I haven’t been happy with the RSS album feeds from Gallery, and Oso’s question sent me digging for info. You have to display full albums with gallery, and there seems to be no way to list by upload date, or limit the number of photos returned. After fighting with trying to configure gallery’s RSS files, I found a better way – someone else had already done it. Jeff of rewrote the rss.php of Gallery to produce an RSS feed of individual photos (not albums), sorted by upload date (not last-modified).

I wanted to add it as an additional feed to Gallery, but it wasn’t going to happen easily. Gallery doesn’t let your templates access the head, so you have to mod the code, and re-mod every time there is an update. With a new release coming up, I wasn’t game to bother with that, so I just replaced the entire feed with this new one. It is based on earlier versions of gallery, but seems to be working so far. Please let me know if you have any problems with the new feed.

I also have been toying with the Album list from discobug. There is no way to kill off the highlight pictures on the main page of gallery, so it isn’t easy to do an album list without using a lot of bandwidth and screen real-estate. I loaded the file up here, but have yet to do much other than format it. I will probably put it in as a link within Gallery, so people can view the albums (and timeline, though I have to fix some of the albums) without painfully clicking through the list.

Update: This is no longer working with my move to Gallery2

Jan 132005

Ah hah! Finally managed to get the Cuzco Xmas vids published. I had to upload them to an empty, accessible directory, then set Gallery loose on them via URL add photos method. I assume this doesn’t use the php max_post_size value, because it is a pull rather than a push to the server.

The 3 vids are not super high quality, and I’m a bit shaky on them. They were taken from this camera, so no complaints. The sounds add a lot to the atmosphere that I felt was missing from the pictures. Though it is always tough to tell if the video is actually translating a small part of that experience, or just triggering my own memories.

Jan 112005

I finally got around to upgrading gallery. They added some stuff which freaked a bit on my config, but I eventually got it all going. They added RSS feeds, but I’m not sure how useful that will be. I usually only update in big batches anyway.

I’ve been trying to upload some videos from my camera of the christmas day celebrations in Cuzco. I managed to get one up, but the others are 10 and 15 MB, and I have been learning that while the php upload_max_filesize is set to 20 MB, the post_max_size is only 8 MB. So I can’t upload them until 1&1 increases this for me. Will they? Probably not. But I can’t bad mouth 3 years of free service, can I?

I tried using Windows Movie Maker to edit the file sizes down a bit, but it is crap. Everything it re-encodes looks like crap. Considering that I am only dealing with camera movie files, I can’t imagine anyone using it to work with their home videos. I suspect I have to export it to a raw file, work with that, then re-encode and deal with the loss of quality.

Jan 032005

Posted photos of Peru, will be some time before I can comment on them all though. Why? The pile of work waiting for me when returning from vacation is a bit harsher than usual this time. We start to file my papers for residency this month. I get to fill out all sorts of nice forms:

I-130 Petition for relative
– with a G-325A for each of us
Then the I-485, which also requires:
– G-325A for me
– I-693, medical inspection (nevermind I’ve been here for 3 years)
– I-864, Anna gets to prove she can take care of me
– I-765, request to work while apps are pending
– I-131, request to travel while apps are pending

The work and travel ones aren’t necessary, but since it can take 3-20 months, it might just be a good idea. I am getting acquainted with legalese before doing my taxes this year.. Though I doubt it will help any. Telefile here I come.

Dec 252004

Photos for this entry: Christmas celebrations in Cuzco and Sacsayhuaman

Wow. What an interesting day. We woke up to construction and fireworks at about 6 am. OK, the fireworks, I get. Construction on christmas day? Take a rest! Our local german yogurt joint was closed, so we stumbled down to the plaza for breakfast. After wandering for a bit, we decided to give the oh so non-PC Baghdad Cafe a try. Decent food, but more importantly, it overlooked the plaza.

As we were paying our bill, the people in the churches around the square started to leave, a lot of them in costume. Next they started to sing, use noise makers, and do some sort of ceremony/parade around the plaza. Really, really strange to a paleface for Christmas. We followed two groups around the square for a little bit when a third group appeared.

This group was carrying a throne with a bling bling baby jesus (doll) seated on it. Marching behind the throne was a band, together with the crowd they sang and marched around the square. They stopped a couple times to sing happy birthday to the baby jesus doll, then continued on their victory lap back to the church.

It was amazing to see. I tried to discretely snap a few photos. Tried to avoid being the stereotype tourist, shoving a camera in the locals faces. There was a lot of them out today. Yes.. I know that just by being here I inevitably make changes to the country. Sustainable tourism is something great to aim for, but ultimately impossible. Let me have my little complaint session.

After picking up our laundry, I grabbed a cab and headed up to the Sacsayhuaman ruins. The ruins are zip zag walls of a religious complex that sits above Cuzco (right next to a mini Rio de Janeiro christ statue). The ruins are quite impressive when you look at the size of the rocks they used for the walls. Massive, perfectly carved and fitted rocks that the spanish didn’t even try to tear down after they defeated the Inkas.

After checking out the ruins I walked over to a little bike cart and had a cola. I like the way they do it here. The carts sell pop in glass bottles that are about 295ml, perfect for a quick drink. Unlike the bigger plastic bottles (which seem to be just tossed on the ground) they need the glass bottles to send back to the drink factory. You have to hang out by the cart while you finish your drink. It is great, sort of like a forced 5-10 minute break where you can chat with other customers.

I hung out on a little bridge while I finished my soda. Then shared my lunch with some of the locals. A bunch of families were out playing futbol on the grass, so the kids wandered over to talk to me. It is amazing, but I can actually manage to communicate some thoughts to the locals. Mind you, I’m not saying my spanish is good.. it is horrible. I just mean that it is always impressive how much you can actually communicate without knowing the language.

Dec 242004

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

The fireworks for Christmas eve started at around 6am today. The bastards. Little kids running around with fistfuls of gunpowder in paper; every mother’s dream. Every building around is tile, stone, mud brick, or cement. I don’t think it would transfer too well to San Diego.

The market was great. It was absolutely packed. Lot of people from the city and the country. Lots of kids running around with ice cream. Chicha (chewed up corn drink that’s alcoholic) and beef hearts (with a potato on a skewer) as far as the eye can see. No, I haven’t tried cuy (guinea pig), yet. I had my lunch already set on Blueberry Lounge.

Yesterday we wondered why people were bringing huge bundles of plants and grass to the city. Well, it seems nativity sets are a big deal here. Almost half of the vendors were selling something to do with nativities and bling bling baby jesus dolls (while better than bloody jesus, they still have a very creepy quality [and full genitalia]). It looked like a model train supply convention. Fake grass, trees, little people, and buildings. All to build your very own baby jesus in a stable with the surrounding countryside. Before you ask, yes, we bought a little nativity set (andean stylized and fits in a hand) with a little christmas tree (branch stuck in a piece of wood). And yes, our baby jesus is also anatomically correct.

We are going to finish up here tomorrow, visit some ruins, and take it easy. We fly to Lima on the 26th, and bus it down to the desert of Ica. From there we hope to catch a couple festivals, the Nasca lines, sandboarding, and find some fossilized whales.

Dec 232004

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

Anna and I took the bus to Pisaq today. 2 soles. Hell of a deal, that’s around 60 cents. The bus ride back was quite the experience though. The bus for Cuzco pulls up, and people rush the thing to push their way on. We ended up catching the second bus, and standing the entire 45 min trip. At least I got an arm workout on the corners. It leaned a lot, and some big metal objects fell out of the engine on the way down the hill, but there were at least 9 jesus faces on the dash, so I figured we were ok.

Pisaq was a good trip. It is mostly known for the giant market around a giant tree, but there are some pretty large ruins on the hill above it. We hiked up and wandered around, there were some really nice views over the sacred valley.

The market was a mix of products for locals and products for touristos. I didn’t see too many pale faces buying the pig feet. I had to buy some fruit though, it looked too good. Four mandarins, a bunch of cherries, and four bananas for 3 soles. Hot damn.

Not quite sure just yet what we are doing for xmas. From what the locals tell us, they buy fruitcake, and eat it with milk and chocolate at midnight xmas eve. Even in SA you can’t escape fruitcake. Actually, I don’t mind the stuff. But I’m pretty sure I am in the minority. Everyone goes to church xmas day. We had planned to go see the ruins above Cuzco today, but it was raining, so maybe we will do that xmas day instead.