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I has BMPCC toys!

I has BMPCC toys!

I just received quite a number of toys for me favourite camera, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, or BMPCC to its friends. This has become my go-to kit for my “Mahmood’s Garden” productions, and although I’m still discovering all its features, and getting to grips with the various aspects of colour correction and using Final Cut Pro X – the latter due to the built-in ProRes codecs which obviates the need to transcode the material to Avid, thus saving time – I’m pretty happy with it.

The toys I received should speed up the production process, and also open up a wealth of glass options which I have aplenty from my vintage Nikon F3 camera, and the various Canon EOS glass I have lying around the office too, these should up my production capabilities somewhat, or at least make it a bit more interesting.

The piece-de-resistance is the Varavon Armor Pocket BMPCC Cage which will allow me to attach the various necessities on the rig, rather than having stuff just dangle about dangerously.

Here’s what the kit looks like on initial configuration this afternoon. I think it looks pretty spiffy, don’t you?

bmpcc-varavon-toys

You will also notice the plethora of converters in there: the Nikon and Canon EOS to MFT, the C-mount to MFT, the Sony battery plate which will give me a decent amount of time to record – the manual says about five hours! and the all important LCD hood that will allow me to see the image I’m recording in the bright sun of Bahrain. Not sure if that hood will actually fit around the cage, but it’s worth a try.

I’m really looking forward to the weekend to go out and shoot some birds, now that I can use the long Nikon zoom lenses I’ve had lying around for ages in their camera bags!

Stay tuned, and please visit my “Mahmood’s Garden YouTube Channel” at http://YouTube.com/MahmoodsGarden to see what I get up to in my garden.

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The Sand and Ice Bucket Challenges

The Sand and Ice Bucket Challenges

You must have heard of the #icebucketchallenge by now, or you had been challenged to do it and got yourself drenched. Other than the feeling of shock that you have experienced – I know I have – you must have also wondered how this particular challenge started and hopefully you went online to find out more about the disease it is helping raise awareness and funds for.

How it started is in contention, apparently; however, CTV News relates this which seams plausible:

For months now, several groups, from athletes to Christian groups have been pouring ice-cold water over themselves and filming it, sometimes simply for fun. The challenge grew in popularity this spring among both pro and amateur golfers, but it wasn’t until former pro golfer Greg Norman challenged NBC anchor Matt Lauer to the challenge that it hit the mainstream.

Back then, the idea was to either take the bucket of cold water on your head or donate $100 to a charity of your choice. A minor-league golfer in Florida named Chris Kennedy may have been the first to dedicate his ice bucket challenge to ALS research, but ALS Canada says it was really Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has ALS himself, who really got the challenge going back on July 29.

Since that date, millions of videos of ice bucket challenges have been uploaded to Facebook and Twitter in the last month, growing exponentially in popularity in recent weeks, and creating what many could argue has been one of the most viral fundraising campaigns in years.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page which has more information too.

I did my part and got drenched in ice cold water this afternoon. Yes it’s still sweltering in Bahrain, but the shock of having that ice-cold water is still something!


Mahmood does the #icebucketchallenge
Quite refreshing. I hope that I’ve contributed a bit to the disease’s awareness through this, and raised more money for the research into its hopeful cure.

Some people though, must divert even a good thing by politicising it. Over the past few weeks, we started to see “Sand Bucket Challenge” which hopes through its participants to raise awareness of the situation in Gaza. Like this one:

I don’t have any issue with people raising awareness of the terrible situation in Palestine in general and Gaza in particular, but what possible reason is there to denigrate people who championed medical research by trying to raise funds for ALS research? I feel sick watching these Sand Bucket Challenges. To me, this is just taking the very Palestinian cause and hijacking it by trying to force people into shame for their good actions. “How can you live while children in Gaza die?”, “How can you smile while people in Gaza are destitute?” and all the other similar messages.

I abhor what has happened in Gaza. I don’t think for a minute it was called for and it is as far away from fairness as can be. There is no question in my mind about that. But trying to constantly guilt trip people isn’t that great for your cause either. People have to live and life has to go on. There is no reason whatsoever not to be creative enough to start one’s own viral campaign if they can. In fact, a viral campaign for Palestine and Gaza has been successful and is still going on in various cities around the world. Please don’t destroy the good will those campaigns created with such a narrow-minded stunt like this.

I do not agree with the premise of this Sand Bucket politics and its emotional hijacking.

Now go pour some ice-cold water over yourself and donate to ALS research.

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Preparing to build the nursery and weekend purchases

Preparing to build the nursery and weekend purchases

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Alright guys. I went out this morning and got the material to build my nursery. I’ll put it together this afternoon and it will be the subject of a future episode.

I also took the opportunity to buy some plants: a fig tree, a cheeko tree, an adenium, an indoor fern and a few flowering shrubs. I’m not yet sure where I’ll plant some of those yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure that out by this afternoon.

My first Chico Fruit!My wife complains that our small garden is over-run with trees. I agree, but I can’t help myself. I particularly wanted a couple of fruit trees, so I when I saw the chikoo tree (or sapodilla as some call it) I thought I’d give it another go. I did have one before but that only produced a single fruit before I yanked it out. I thought this time I’d position it in the front garden where it’s a bit cooler and shadier and where I hope it’ll have a better time. This plant is grafted and the garden centre guy assures me that it will be easy to grow. Let’s hope so. I love chikoo fruit. I’ll keep you updated.

Another tree I bought is a fig. This time at the behest of my wife. She loves figs and as it’s her birthday tomorrow I can say no now can I? We had another fig and it did do well, except that the rose-ringed parakeets love it so much that they would not let even unripe fruit to stay on the tree. They kept eating whatever it produced. We didn’t complain. We like parakeets. Unfortunately, they all bug disappeared since 2011. No idea why. Maybe this will bring them back. I’ll keep you updated on this one as well.

Recently I removed a bunch of coffee plants I used for ground cover along the side of the garage. They were denied water because someone screwed around with the irrigation system and didn’t have the courage to fess up, noting that this was the doing of a so-called garden maintenance company is doubly worst. Anyway, their action left the garden dry for a few days, a fact that I noticed immediately on my return from a brief trip abroad. Needless to say, they got fired immediately. Today I bought a few shrubs to replace the coffee plants. I have no idea what they’re called. The garden centre guy – bless him – just jotted down a name which has no relation to reality. That gives me the chance to dig around the internet to try to identify the plant. I’ll post pictures of their leaves and flowers soon, maybe you can help?

Pink AdeniumMy wife also notice a beautiful double adenium. Light pink. Really nice. We got that one too, but as it’s flowering at the moment I won’t bother repotting it. I’ll just put the plastic container in a nice pot as a temporary measure until it’s ready to be re-homed.

What are you up to this week in your garden?

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To the gym at last!

To the gym at last!

Today marks the completion of three whole months since my iconic Athens Half Marathon. Forgive me for going on about that, but what have YOU done lately! 😉

And this week marks a month since I’ve had my hip operation. Visiting my doctor yesterday, he assured me that it’s ok to go back to the gym, but use common sense and don’t impact the hip. I told him that common sense isn’t all that common! Being German, he just grunted.

So off I went to the gym this morning. It was a wonderful feeling! Up at five and in the gym by 6:30. I did a whole hour of work, starting with the upper body I did the weight machines, then just the rotational leg exercises: abduction, adduction and extensions. I was careful to ensure that I loaded only light weights and concentrated on repetitions for now. That took about half an hour. It was great! After that I did 30 minutes on the bike, at 80 rpm and the lowest friction setting. I can tell you that I felt really invigorated after that simple workout.

I can’t wait for the next time, hopefully tomorrow 🙂

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A beautiful breakfast

A beautiful breakfast

Food isn’t that important to me any more, I get a much deeper pleasure having it with people I care about. That was the feeling I had this morning meeting up with my friend Karla Solano at Chai Café where we had a semi-traditional Bahraini breakfast, and talked running, amongst various other topics. It was really nice to see Karla again.

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The café itself is nice and cosy, situated on two levels at a corner directly opposite Bahrain Mall. The place is nice, neat, tidy and clean. The staff attentive and the food really good. Their menu is quite extensive and they even have monthly subscriptions to dallahs of various teas! Not sure if the service includes delivery, but the idea itself is quite novel. Very nice. I’m a sucker for chai karak!

Opting for the “combo breakfast” and a khobiz jibin (cheese bread) with chai karak, Karla and I compared running injuries 😉 and we discussed the various running events happening in the next six months in Bahrain. I didn’t know there were that many! In fact, the running calendar via the Bahrain Road Runners is quite well thought out and extensive; taking a runner from the basic 5km a the beginning of the season and gradually go to 10k, 15k, 17k coast-to-coast (which is gruelling I’m told due to the terrain) and finally culminating in a half marathon in January. I’ll certainly attempt all of those as not only do they sound fun to do, but I know from experience that if I can run those here in Bahrain, I can conquer those distances anywhere else without too much of a problem. My target now, is to get much healthier, build my core strength and push for better timings.

I’ll tell you this now though: I’m aiming for a half-iron-man in 2016 and at least two half marathons in 2015. Hope some of you can join me. That would be a lot of fun.

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Honoured to be nominated by the New Century Foundation for Blogging

Honoured to be nominated by the New Century Foundation for Blogging

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The New Century Foundation

I’m really honoured to be nominated for the International Media Award 2013 in the New Media category by the Next Century Foundation. This is the same entity that honoured Al-Wasat’s Editor in Chief Dr Mansoor Al-Jamri last year.

The foundation will also run a conference on Bahrain at the same time where representatives from all sides have been invited.

MAHMOOD AL-YOUSIF is known to many as the ‘Blogfather’ and is considered to be the “father of Bahraini bloggers”. He specialises in new media and is known for his liberal and non-sectarian approach. His blog is dedicated to critiquing the Bahrain government, discussing local and world politics, religion , society as well as his day-to-day life. (http://mahmood.tv/)

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Vandalism, again.

Vandalism, again.


What has this lovely plant do to the stupid pricks who destroyed it? Why? I just don’t understand why people destroy cosmetic plants that did nothing to them whatsoever. What did they achieve by doing this?

Absolutely disgusted.

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Yellow Canna

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Yellow Canna by malyousif
Yellow Canna, a photo by malyousif on Flickr.

I love these unassuming plants. They take over the area they’re planted in, and even when not in flower, their tightly packed stalks, texture and colors of their leaves are enough to make any garden proud. But when they do flower – and they do that all too briefly – they truly shine.

Look how gorgeous and deep that yellow is. And that’s without any photoshopping too!

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Thriving Cactii

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Thriving Cactii by malyousif
Thriving Cactii, a photo by malyousif on Flickr.

I know that I continuously say that I’m “really happy” with this border, but I honestly am! Just look at all the new growth and the promise of flowers about to explode.

One complaint is that the drip system here has gone crazy and is overwatering. I’ve got to look at that as soon as possible and reduce the supply.

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