Just got a job and now I haven’t posted anything for three weeks! All that talk about cadence apparently amounts to shit. But the truth is, my first two weeks at work were really quite busy that I didn’t have the energy to sit down and write at night. Then, my folks came to visit us. Out time together was short enough without me making it shorter by making a post.
While these two things took away from my writing time, they also gave me something in return. My parents, whom I haven’t seen for more than six months, gave me untold joy for my birthday. My job gave me a Google Pixel to take photos with.
On the day my folks arrived, I actually still went to work. They were scheduled to land in the late afternoon, so I figured I could still go to the office and just leave a little bit earlier – you know, save up on leaves and all that jazz. While I really did try to do good work that day, I was too excited to see my parents again so I’m not sure how effective I really was.
How excited? So excited that I didn’t take a photo of us when we picked them up at the airport.
This is the first photo I took of our entire family here in Hamburg. It’s in our living room, of all places, with possibly the blandest background in the entire apartment.
First Family Photo from Pixel
Fortunately, the Pixel really does take great photos. It’s from the front camera, without flash, and illuminated only by our yellowish LED living room lights. Even with these limitations, the picture is quite crisp and clear. If you could see our eyes, you’d know this was one of the happiest moments of the entire trip, bland background and all.
Shortly after taking this, I was able to feed my folks a meal I prepared all by myself. Korean beef stew, steamed white rice, and some arugula for veggies. No pics though. Even with my new phone with a great camera, I am still not in the habit of taking photos of food before eating.
Let me get my gushing over the Pixel out of the way first. I had a number of devices to choose from as my company-issued mobile device, ranging from tablets, to phablets, to smart phones. I could have chosen between Google, Samsung, and Apple. A big reason – actually the only reason – why I chose the Google Pixel was its camera and its offer of unlimited storage.
The first time I tried the camera, I was immediately impressed. The screen more accurately shows what my eyes see, compared to my older Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I thought that was the extent of the improvement, until I chanced upon this:
WTF!? Whenever I get the chance to take a photo with a DSLR camera, I always try to take that shot where you have one thing in focus, and the rest is blurred. It’s hit or miss for the noob photographer me, but it takes one finger to achieve the same result using the Pixel. No fussing with aperture, fiddling with the focus. It’s literally touch the screen, see it focus, and shoot.
Take a look at the following pictures:
There’s one picture that wasn’t really taken from a high vantage point. Can you guess which?
I’ll give you some time.
Trick question. There are actually two photos there that weren’t taken from high vantage points, and they’re the two which feature me not wearing a jacket. I like the cold, but not that much. Those pictures could only have been taken from indoors, where it’s comfortably warm.
Those two pictures were in fact taken inside the Miniature Wonderland – apparently the most visited museum in all of Germany, if our walking tour guide is to be believed. It’s not hard to imagine, though. We went on a Wednesday afternoon, and the place was packed!
If you ever get the pleasure of exploring its halls, take special notice of the Switzerland exhibit. There’s a “chocolate factory” section there that actually produces chocolate bars. You can see the chocolate being formed, wrapped, and dropped on your waiting hand. Just get there before them pesky kids. As adults, my wife and I found it hard to take a turn getting a chocolate nugget.
Also keep your eyes out for Easter Eggs like this:
The Hamburg Obsession
European trips being few and far between for my parents, they wanted to get as many photos of Hamburg as possible. Literally. They wanted to take photos whenever the word “Hamburg” appears in the background. Don’t believe me? Just watch.
Reading through my own blog post, it just looks like a hodgepodge of topics. No rhyme nor reason, no deep overriding theme, no point except to exist. It perfectly mirrors my parents’ visit. It was no “pleasure cruise”. It was not planned down to the last minute. It didn’t have to prove that it was good value for money.
Its point is just to exist. To be together as a family, after a long time apart. It was neither a journey nor a destination. It was just a state of being. We could have replaced everything we did with almost any other activity and we would have smiled just as sweetly.
That’s why nothing in the world could have made this trip feel any less bitin. Bitin is a Tagalog term describing the feeling of “not having gotten enough”. It’s not that you were not satisfied or happy with what you got, but you just left you wanting more. We could have worn our soles out walking through the entire city of Hamburg, and the visit would still have felt as if it wasn’t long enough.
And so, as you can expect, this visit of theirs ends with a moment of sadness amidst all the joy. We took photos of ourselves at the airport, tears in our eyes and love in our hearts, as we counted down the minutes before we would have inevitably parted ways. Those pictures, I choose to keep from this blog.
Tearful goodbyes done, I come home to these photos and realize that only two things remain: memories and hope. Memories of me being able to take care of my parents for this little slice of time – nowhere near how long they’ve taken care of me. Hope that I will be able to see them and take care of them again, show them how much I love them again.
Maybe that’s what makes these goodbyes so tearful. Memories fade, as we are all painfully aware. Hope is hard to keep up in the face of uncertainty; uncertainty magnified by distance and time apart. And yet that is all we have to keep us going until the next time we get to make new memories and renew our hope.
At least the great pictures and unlimited photo and video storage offered by Google Pixel helps a little.