Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Where to now?

Where to now?, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

Boy, t feels like weeks since I last blogged... maybe because it's been. Work has been crazy lately, and I've been going out to shoot on weekends so no time for blogging... until now. This entry is about the last days of Forbidden Gardens.

The museum is already closed at this point, and last weekend they had a sale on the items from their exhibits. Pictured here is the almost empty pit from some of the terracota warriors that were for sale.

It was really a sight. People coming out of the museum carrying building replicas, huge soldiers, U-hauls being filled with multiple statues, and a waiting line so long it merit a panoramic made.

I got there early on Saturday to try to get a soldier for myself, and after about and hour and a half waiting in line and another hour to find the best pieces and pay; I ended up owner of two soldiers and two soldier heads as souvenirs.

On sunday, I made a last visit just to get a last look at how the place was and... for the hype and line I had to go through on Saturday, I was surprised there were so many soldiers still, though I believe many of them were stuck to the ground so they couldn't be moved.

What will happen with Forbidden Gardens and the leftovers now? I've no idea. There have been no announcements, and from what I could see, there are still plenty of items left with a deadline to get the place cleared just around the corner so I guess I'll find out later if it was bulldozed over or whatever happened.

For my part, I got a couple of keepsakes to remind me of the lost museum:
The spoils

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Moonrise, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

This is an old photo from my days in Southwest Florida.

It was starting to get to the time of year when the sun will set earlier and I wouldn't have enough time to go out to shoot in daylight and I was trying to plan a sunrise shot for the next morning using TPE when I noticed the moon would rise around 8:30 pm.

So, I got my gear ready and set out for Fort Myers beach pier (Lynn Hall Park), payed for my parking and ran off to the top of the bridge to make it on time.

Funny story though... I knew at what time the moon was supposed to rise, and I was trying to locate the exact point so I noticed a little glow in the horizon and I focused my gear and attention over there.

I pre-focused, took a couple of test shots and patiently waited... and waited... and... when at looked at my watch... the moonrise time was already gone... and still only glow and no moon... so I looked about 30 degrees to the right and there it was, already a little high in the sky: I had missed the moon rising! So, I aimed my camera and focused as fast as I could to take this shot!

All in all, it came out pretty nice, but I was hoping to get the moon lower in the horizon... so I guess I'll have to wait until the next chance I get to capture a moonrise (it's much easier near the coast to avoid running into problems with the skyline of the city or a tree line getting in the way)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jade Dragon

Jade Dragon, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

This little dragon it's a little souvenir I picked up at Forbidden Gardens, a Chinese museum-attraction at Katy Texas that, amongst other things, includes a 1/3rd replica from the tomb of emperor Qin Shi Huang-di along with his terracota warriors and a 1/20th replica of the Forbidden city in Beijing. Unfortunately, this place is about to disappear.

It's a shame really how sometimes progress gets in the way of beautiful things, yet we see it ever day: parks transformed into stores, historic buildings turned into parking lots and in this case, museums turned into highways.

It is sad, but I also understand need for new developments (I think the people that are going to save hours of comute with the grand parkway expansion might not miss Forbidden Gardens all that much) and I understand that everything happens because there's a reason. It's justified, but sad nevertheless.

So, today I went to pay my respects and say my final goodbyes. It is only the second time I visit (I wanted to video record the great explanations from the tour guide) but already the place seemed so different: doors closed, items on sale, statues missing, etc.

The final date is set: February 18th 2011 will be the last "regular day" of operations, followed by a 3 day "giant garage sale" to get ready to leave the place.

I took a bunch of pics that I haven't had time to process so this won't be the last time I write about this place. It was something really unique that will be missed and at least I'll try to help keep the memory of some of it online.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The snow that never came

That explains the blackouts, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.
It was everywhere... in the forecast, the news, the clouds, the precautions taken by everyone... but it just never made it here. We were 24 hours under a Winter Storm Warning, I've even got to work from home today... but there was no snow.

Not here anyway... I believe Dallas did got some inches of snow today, not to mention other parts of the country, but here we had to settle with some icy rain, which made the roads hazardous, but without the added visual appeal that snow brings.

Regardless, I took a little tour of the nearby zone and did found a few frozen things: cars, signs, grass, plants, door knobs, even the floor! But this one caught particularly my eye. It seems to be a power generator with icicles growing out of it.

Luckily I didn't experienced the power outages firsthand, but I saw in the news that there were rolling blackouts scheduled to minimize the load on the power grid at a state level.

It was rather a disappointing morning (I actually woke up at the break of dawn just to go out to shoot some snow before work) but at least I found something to shoot at, because even the sunrise was out the question (too cloudy).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy New Year!!!

Heavenly temple, originally uploaded by ZERO CEM.

Yes, I’m well aware that we’re already a month into 2011, but that not the new year I’m talking about, I’m talking about the year of the rabbit, according to the Chinese calendar that just stated today (February 3rd 2011).

I’ve never really pay attention of when the Chinese New Year was. I’ve usually only found out right after it had passed (if ever) and... well, dismissed it just as easily since it was already too late to do anything about it, therefore I never noticed it’s not always on the same date.

According to wikipedia, the Chinese New Year may fall any day between January 21st and February 20th since it’s lunisolar based and it depends on both the winter solstice and the moon cycles; with the New Year usually being on the second new moon after the winter solstice (although it could be the third new moon on rare occasions).

Also notable is the fact that the celebration itself, which is referred to as the Spring Festival; lasts for 15 days (16 if you count New Years Eve) and has many different traditions for each day, ending with the Lantern Festival on the first full moon of the year. I wish I’ll be able to go there one of these days, on the meanwhile... I have to settle with the things I have nearby.

For instance, today’s image is courtesy of the China pavilion on Disney’s Epcot center in Orlando. It’s a replica of the Temple of Heaven, a Taoist temple in Beijing which represents the connection of Heaven and Earth. It’s not much, but it brings a little taste of the Chinese culture for those of us that cannot make it all the way there (just yet).

Here are some of the references I read in case you'd like to keep learning:
Wikipedia - Chinese New Year - Festivals
Wikipedia - Lantern Festival
Wikipedia - Temple of Heaven