• New Camera

    April 11, 2010


    Well last week the wife and I finally went and got a new camera. We’re loving it so far, but unfortunately the weather had turned nice and foggy, so we haven’t really been able to use it much. It’s a Panasonic Lumix ZS5, and the basic specs (and a huge list here) are as follows.
    * 25mm Ultra Wide-angle 12x Optical Zoom LEICA DC Lens
    * Powerful 12x Optical Zoom
    * 25mm Ultra Wide-angle Lens
    * 12.1-megapixel with 1/2.33-inch CCD
    Multiple Aspect Ratios / Multi Aspect Mode
    * 16x Intelligent Zoom / 23.4x Extra Optical Zoom
    * Sonic Speed AF
    * Fast Start-up Time

    I’m excited about finally having a wide-angle lens, since I like taking photos of buildings, but often lack available space or angles downtown. The 12x zoom is also a big feature for me, as I see no point in having a 10 mega-pixel or better camera if the zoom is only 3x. I suppose for doting parents taking pictures of their kids that’s just fine, but when traveling I want the max amount of zoom and pixels. This Lumix also happens to be quite compact, which is nice for traveling or everyday use. Neither Rachel nor I are photogs in any sense of the word, so we’re not into spending a ton of money for an SLR at this point, or walking around with 5-inch long lenses. Thankfully most digital cameras now have enough functionality that one can adjust a lot of things on the fly or just keep it on auto.

    Being in Shanghai we probably paid a few hundred RMB more than we would if we’d bought it in Hong Kong, but with no trip imminent we decided to go for it here. Got it for 2,400RMB with an 8 gig memory card thrown in to seal the deal. Hopefully I can hold on to this one better than our previous cameras… in three months I managed to drop one and lose another. The first one wasn’t too big of an issue since it was a 5-year-old Cybershot and was badly out of date, but the second one was a new Canon Powershot SX120 hurt a little. We’ve upgraded a little with the Lumix but I’ll be sure to have a firm grasp on it at all times.

    Photos to come (weather permitting – Shanghai is having a seriously puky spring).

    Feds

  • Vancouver’s Mascots are a Rip Off

    February 12, 2010

    I’m so happy Vancouver is hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics. It promises to be such a wonderful event. However, as many have noticed, the mascots chosen for this Olympics have an awful lot of similarities with those of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. So much so that I had to write the organizing committee about a year and a half ago to ask them about it.

    Sent: July 28, 2008 8:07 AM
    To: Vancouver 2010 InfoSubject: Mascots

    Question:
    ———————————–
    Were the mascots intentionally lifted from the Beijing Games? I mean,
    seriously, look at Sumi and compare with China’s Beibei.

    They replied about a week later.

    Vancouver 2010 Info <_176e3f@vancouver2010.com>
    date Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 12:43 AM
    Hello Kris,

    Thank you for your interest in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic
    Winter Games.

    We are pleased to announce Miga, Quatchi and Sumi as the official
    mascots of the Vancouver 2010 Games. Mascots are a playful and effective
    way to engage a young audience and increase their knowledge of the
    Olympic and Paralympic Games. Children have reacted with delight to the
    arrival of Miga, Quatchi and Sumi and have expressed an immediate
    connection to the mascots’ stories.

    Each of the characters is unique and represents the people, geography
    and spirit of British Columbia and Canada while personifying the essence
    of the 2010 Winter Games. They were inspired by local Aboriginal legends
    and also strongly influenced by popular culture, modern animation
    styles, the Olympic and Paralympic Movements, British Columbian and
    Canadian culture and wildlife, and the artists’ own imagination.

    People across Canada and around the world can meet the mascots at
    www.vancouver2010.com/mascot. The site includes child-friendly features
    such as an animated mascot video, character profiles, an online game, a
    mascot-related personality quiz, interactive e-cards, colouring pages
    and more.

    Thanks again,

    Vancouver 2010 Info

    What B.S. Change the animals and you have Beijing 2008. Whatever; they’re cute. I’ll leave it at that. I still hope the Games are a resounding success and wish I was there to witness it all. Highlights may be slim in Shanghai where most people don’t even know they’re around the corner. Not many pay attention to the Winter Games here, since there isn’t much for snow, ice, or winter sports in the area. Thankfully there are two sports channels, so while one of them has ping pong and badminton on, the other should have Vancouver’s Games.

    Let’s hope so anyway,

    Feds

  • Oct-Nov Trip to Egypt

    January 11, 2010

    Rachel and I went to Egypt last fall for about three and half weeks. My parents had been there for three years and were in the last year of a contract at the Cairo American College and we figured it might be our last chance to go see them before they head off to Mexico. I stupidly booked flights trying to get the lowest cost with Emirates, not thinking that it would have been better to put our holiday over China’s National Day week-long fest. Consequently I had no classes for over a week during that holiday, and then almost a month while we were in Egypt. Normally I would be quite content with such a situation, but working freelance makes a bit difference in how you see income opportunities and costs. But regardless, we were on our way to Egypt, the land of the pharaohs. It was Rachel’s second trip and my third, and we were determined to try to see as much of it as we could.

    Unfortunately, my Dad got sick about 10 days before we arrived. His blood pressure went up pretty high and the doctors he went to complaining about various symptoms didn’t think to check it. How does a man over 50 go see a doctor for any reason and not get his blood pressure checked? Anyway, it got way worse than it should have until finally they figured out what was going on and got him on the right meds. For the most part he’s totally fine now, but when we got to Cairo he was still pretty weak and wasn’t yet back at work. It was really tough seeing my Dad like that, even though I’ve realized over the years that he and my mom are graying and aging just like anyone else. Rachel and I put off going outside of Cairo for a while and just spent time with my parents, while taking in some of the sights in Cairo. Thankfully my Dad got most of his strength back and was back at work within a week of us being there. A couple weeks after we left he was back on the golf course and doing his normal routine.

    On our way, Rachel and I stopped in Dubai, a strange investor’s bubble of a city. The massive buildings and artificial islands are only outdone by the ridiculous plans they have for a huge metropolis full of luxury apartments, glittering office towers, and golf courses. There are a few sites to see, but I can’t say that it’s worth more than 3 days or so. However, I would like to spend more time in the Gulf States in general. Plus it’s always nice to visit my sister.

    Cairo has tons to see and do, but most of it has nothing to do with the Ancient Egypt that we read about in books and see in traveling museum exhibits; Most of Cairo is about 1000 years old, which and was built up long after the age of the pharaohs was over. Of course we went (back) to the Pyramids at Giza and the Egyptian Museum for taste of the old glory. Actually we went to the Giza Pyramids twice: once for the light show at night, and another time during the day. We had gotten a new camera (since lost, woe is me) and managed to get some good shots. The Egyptian Museum has thousands of artifacts in a wonderful old building built specifically to house them near the Nile in Central Cairo and is worth seeing a few times in one’s life. Otherwise, most of the things to see in Cairo are Islamic.

    After being conquered by the Arabs in 640, Egypt eventually became dominated by Islam. There are many beautiful old mosques, mausoleums, and madrassas dedicated to the rulers of the Middle Ages, which for Islam was a golden age. Thus, Cairo is dotted with minarets and domes, and the call to prayer echoes throughout the city five times daily. However, Egyptians were one of the first groups of people to convert to Christianity, and a sizable Christian community still exists (9-10% of the population). They split from most of the rest of Christianity quite early over doctrinal issues, and are known as Copts, but most of the art and churches look quite similar to the Greek and Russian Orthodox style traditions.

    The highlights for Rachel and I were the Al-Ghouri Complex, the Mosque of Ibn Tulun, and the views from the Cairo Tower. See post here for more details. Rachel, I and my brother Cory took a couple days to go up to Alexandria. It’s a much more beautiful city than Cairo, and seems quite European in form. (It was founded by the Macedonians.) The new library is impressive, Pompei’s Pillar and the catacombs are interesting, and the views along the coast of the Mediterranean are fantastic. Yet for me it lacked the magic of Cairo. If it weren’t for the pollution, I’d like to live there sometime soon. I have a thing for ancient Egypt, and I’d like to study it up close for a while. I also want to learn Arabic – a project I know will take me some years.

    Since we came back to Shanghai, the parents decided on one more year in Egypt. We won’t be able to visit them next year, so I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to go back. Certainly there’s a lot of things I haven’t yet seen: Siwa, Farafa, Dakhla, and Kharga Oases, most of the Delta area, the Suez Canal, Abydos, Tell Amarna, and many other places throughout the Nile Valley. Enough places to justify a couple of years there down the road. We’ll see.

    Feds

  • Summertime

    May 21, 2009

    Well the exams are done and the sun has come out.  Teaching a couple of different gigs has been keeping me busy, but at the same time I’ve got a lot more free time.  So…

    A few things are going to change over the next couple of weeks.  First, Chinese learning.  I’m rededicating myself to learning Chinese, particularly reading and writing.  I may or may not seek out a tutor – there are certainly a ton of resources online, and I have people around me I can ask for help.  I also plan to do and see a lot more things in China, like Chinese opera and visiting places I haven’t been to over the last five years, such as Qingdao and Dalian.

    Second, health and fitness.  I’m eating well enough these days, but I need to start exercising.  Going to the gym, swimming and playing basketball would help.  Maybe at some point I’ll take a kung fu class if I have the time.  Sounds cliche, I know, but I would like to learn a little.  I seriously haven’t exercised since before Christmas – it shows and I feel it.  Time to jump back on the wagon.

    Blogging and videography.  I’ve been ignoring the blogs and a video show I was creating got put on the shelf during the early months of this year.  Hopefully now I can get back to them and develop them more.  Stupid firewall is blocking YouTube in China (going on 3 months now), so I’ll have to use another site for vids.

    The Biz.  Rachel and I want to start giving tours to people when they come to China.  We have some really good ideas for things to do and places to go when people visit Shanghai, and have a lot of extra services for people.  Anyway, if you know anyone on their way here who doesn’t speak Chinese, have ‘em email me: kris.fedorak@gmail.com

    All this and more as I attempt to enjoy the summer and get some sun for once!

    Feds

  • What’s Going On

    December 6, 2008

    It’s Christmas 2008 season and it looks like I’ll be in China again this year. Very disappointing since the rest of the fam is meeting up in Dubai, where my sister moved this fall. Would be nice to get some sun, sand and heat, but we’ll still have a good time here in Shanghai.

    Rachel and I put up a tree the other night and we’ve got some other lights to put up on the balcony, but I guess that’s about it. Now it’s time for shopping. And at least Shanghai has the commercial aspect of Christmas down. Malls are full of Christmas gear, prices are reasonable on both fake and genuine items, and bargaining is always fun.

    In fact, I just helped a newcomer to Shanghai purchase a slick briefcase of poker chips (it’s a small, attache style case), complete with a dealer chip, dice and cards. We’ve started a texas hold ‘em night (Thursdays) and so far the turnouts have been large. A lot of teaching to newbies, but since I won the other night, I’m happy to coach the talent of tomorrow for a fee today. I haven’t played poker for a long time, since I don’t do the online junket, and haven’t been home to play with the boys for a while, so it’s nice to be back in the saddle.

    Guess that’s all for now. Just a short update, that I should be doing every few weeks, but haven’t ever gotten around to. Guess you can catch me on twitter, facebook or the /china site most of the time. If’n I don’t post for a while, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    Feds

  • Love of Egypt

    April 21, 2008

    I’ve created a page with a few of the hundreds of pictures my wife and I took while we were in Egypt over Christmas 2006-7. (Actually a few are from my Dad and brother as well.) As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of ancient Egyptian history and architecture.

    Feds

  • Best of China

    April 15, 2008

    I’ve added a gallery of pictures from China. Most of them are from Shanghai, but there are some from Hong Kong and Hangzhou. I’ll try to add some more and update it regularly. Please go to “Best of China” to view.

    Feds

  • Welcome

    January 14, 2008

    This is my personal website, where I can pursue some of my interests and share some of the ideas and thoughts I have.

    For now, the home site won’t have much on it, but perhaps I’ll post updates about my life and what’s currently going on. The content will primarily reside on three blogs, for which you can find the links on the right.

    China Segment will be about my life in China. I’ve married a local girl, Rachel, and we currently live in Shanghai. I am originally from Canada, so I suppose this blog is my therapy: a place to rant, to express my constant surprise, and comment on the greatness that China already has, and what there is to come.

    Go to Ancient Egypt to find out more about the sites and people of one of the greatest places on earth. It will cover more or less any topic regarding Egypt‘s history, including:

    - periods from pre-dynastic times, to the Ptolemaic (Greek) era

    - people from Imhotep to Amenhotep

    - places from Abu Simbel to Alexandria; and

    - events from the unification of Egypt, to the battle of Kadesh.

    Feds’ Lounge is just starting, and will be my blog about politics, history and philosophy. Seems wide-ranging… but really the focus will be on the political issues I see as thought provoking as seen through a historical/philosophical context. Feel free to comment on any of the blogs or the photos, but naturally I reserve the right to censor comments deemed inappropriate.

    I’ve only just begun to understand web design, so please bear with the poor look of the site or with links that don’t work. I really just want to finally get it started and get pictures posted and blog entries up.

    Best Regards,
    Feds