Sunday, August 31, 2008

I want to break free

Today, my friend Astrid told me, on Yahoo messenger, that she is going home to, literally, "eat littles". To an unaccustomed ear, this may sound odd; yet, a person with the sense of humour who also speaks Romanian language, will know that she went home to eat "mici", or "mititei" - literally, "littles". These are sausage-shaped hamburgers one would eat with mustard and bread, and water them down with beer. They are called "littles" most likely in the same spirit as the Spanish "bocadillas". The history of the "littles" reminded me of my childhood, when my sister and I were trying to translate Romanian expressions as "word by word" as possible and - consequently - as out of context as possible. "Bataie de joc" was being translated as "beating of game"; "L-a facut cu ou si otet" turned into "he made him with egg and vinegar"; "si-a dat arama pe fata" into "he gave his copper on the face". The opposite was valid, too; sometimes in the early 1990's, Divertis - a popular humour group - translated Queen's song, "I want to break free" into Romanian: "Eu vreau sa sparg liber", i.e., "I want to break things in a free manner". Well, here is a great list of song titles translated into Romanian:
Pretty fly for a white guy - O musca draguta pentru un tip alb
take a bow- ia un arc
Sugar, we're going down swinging - Zahar, ne ducem in jos balansandu-ne
Honey, This Mirror Isn't Big Enough For The Two Of Us - Miere, oglinda asta nu e destul de mare pentru noi doi
Scar tissue - Servetelul cicatrice
Champagne Super Nova - Dacia supernova cu motor pe sampanie

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chicken Kiev

As a student in Glasgow, I used to buy frozen Chicken Kiev from Iceland/Safeway/Farmfoods, and pop it into the oven. Today, I was pondering between flying to Glasgow and buying some frozen food, and cooking my own chicken kiev. In the absence of a personal jet plane, I settled for the latter option. So, I took four chicken breast filets, I cut them lenghtwise, I filled them with a mixture of garlic, parsley, butter, olive oil and salt, I wrapped them into thin ham, I grilled them for two minutes, and off they went into the oven for a bit longer. I cut some potatoes into cubes, and I prepared a salad of tomatoes and ready-made Remoulade sauce. The result:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fiat Barchetta or Opel Tigra Twintop?

Today I had my fifth driving lesson. As they say, "practice like practice, but theory is what kills you". Or, was it the other way? Anyway, the percentage of Romanians who get their driving license is, nowadays, about 20%. Not of Romanians, but of those who sit the exam. While I am against letting all the "daddy's boys" run wild on the streets driving 4X4's, I still think 20% is too little. We'll live and see - and, by the way, one needn't pass the exam the first time one sits it.
Anyway, a few days ago, I went to the Mall and I was "introduced" to an Opel Tigra Twin Top:

Then, as any good researcher, I went home and, on the net, I found this jewel: a Fiat Barchetta:

So, dear Santa: I've been a good boy, and I haven't terrorized little kittnens. OK, I allowed Shushu to be neutered, but I hope you'll forgive me for this. So, please, can I have my driving license and one of these two cars?

Mens sana in corpore sano

As a 10 year old boy, I used to go swimming in the Olympic pool of Baia Mare. When I moved back to Miercurea Ciuc, my sports life came to a halt. I never fancied team sports - and in Miercurea Ciuc, hockey was the king, followed by football. I never had a "thing" for ball (or puck) games. I would have loved to run, but the climate in the Harghita county was unfavorable. I tried judo, but one day I almost dislocated my partner's arm (unwillingly), so I gave up.
It is a shame that, at that time, fitness and bodybuilding were not popular in Romania. Because, since I started going to the gym, I realised this sport fits me like a glove. I don't need talent (as one would nbeed for football), I only need time, and will. It is interesting that, at the same time with the body, one builds one's will too.
A few months ago, when I, too, got upset by the shape of my belly, I said: Enough is enough. I shall no more a be couch potato. So, I found this gym nearby (Iguana Fitness Club), and, little by little, I started to live this way of life.
I started on the wrong path - by doing strength exercises - so, while my muscles no longer looked like those of a professional chess player, my belly grew too. This, until I was told that, instead of pumping iron, I had to combine it with cardio.
In the time since I begun going to the gym, I realized this is not a fad, but the revival of the Roman way of living - "Mens sana in corpore sano". I went down from 88to 80 kilos, and I am on the way of building my body at the same pace I am building my will to do so. So, to all the coach potatoes: it's never too late for sport.

PS - watching football does not qualify as a sport.
PPS - my favourite cardio machine is the cross-trainer. It's like walking on the air. By the way, did I ever tell you how I won the second prize at ski, when I was a kid? I will, soon, and back-date it; so check the 1980's archive!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A fan from Cluj

July, a fan from Cluj, sent me these photos of herself and of my pics at the Carturesti bookshop:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Carturesti Cluj: "Cambodia - Light and Shadows"

Courtesy of Cosmin Lungu, the organizer of my exhibition, here are two pics from "Cambodia: Lights and Shadows" in Cluj:

They've got it all wrong!

Re: my expo in Cluj. This is what the press release from Carturesti says:

"The Cluj/Carturesti bookshop presents - Space and time in Cambodia: A researcher at the Romanian Space Agency, with an unusual protest against the American enriched by selling Lunar plots, will exchibit, at the Iulius Mall - Cluj, Carturesti Bookshop, photos ... from Cambodia".

Clujeanul ( understands the difference between the two issues: "The author of the images is Virgiliu Pop, researcher at the Romanian Space Agency, known especially for his protest against the American who sold plots on the Moon. This time, the astronomer Virgiliu Pop turns into an observer of the Cambodian reality".

OK, they made me an astronomer, which I am not. Meanwhile... ( reads: "A researcher from the Romanian Space Agency will exchibit photos at the Carturesti bookshop in Iulius Mall, Cluj Napoca, as an unusual protest against the American enriched by selling Lunar plots."

(photo: Alexandra Pipas)
CityNews ( says: :"The artist displays photos from Cambodia as a protest against the American enriched from selling Moon plots"

Once and for all: Yes, I am known for my protest against Dennis Hope. But the photo exchibition is not against Dennis Hope. If it needs to be a protest, it is against the Khmer Rouge, who killed innocent people - and not against the "Lunar Embassy".

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ieseanul: "Biletul de 200.000 de dolari"

Gabriel Andronache, from the "Ieseanul" weekly, interviewed me for a space tourism article (

Susţinere ştiinţifică
Virgiliu Pop, expert în drept spaţial şi membru al Agenţiei Spaţiale Române, are încredere în optimismul lui Branson: „Tehnologia pentru zboruri suborbitale există, fiind testată prin SpaceShipOne, prima rachetă privată cu echipaj uman, iar la ora actuală se construieşte o mică flotă bazată pe această tehnologie. Deja nu mai vorbim de science-fiction, ci e ca şi cum am vorbi despre un nou model de automobil aflat în construcţie“, spune Pop.
În privinţa eventualelor probleme ale unei călătorii spaţiale, Virgiliu Pop consideră că aparatele de zbor extraatmosferic sunt proiectate avându-se în vedere minimizarea riscurilor. „Cei cinci miliardari care au deschis drumul turismului spaţial pricep foarte mult din ceea ce văd. Sunt persoane inteligente, pasionate de explorarea spaţiului - de fapt, sunt nişte împătimiţi ai spaţiului, care au avut şansa de a-şi permite, financiar, o vizită în afara atmosferei terestre“, concluzionează Pop."

Driving Lesson, 2.0

I just returned from my first driving lesson. Actually, my first driving lesson after five years. Yes, it's true: I am 34, and I am yet to obtain that pink, credit-card sized document. I have heard that in Alabama, not having a driving license by this age carries a hefty punishment.
The instructor is the same as a few years ago, Virgil (yes, we have the same name). The car is different, though; it was a 30-year old Dacia 1300 back then; now, it's a Matiz. From what I remember, the difference between the two is quite thew same as between Windows 3.1 and Windows 98. I'd rather have an XP, though (that is, a car with automatic transmission).

Warning: Tomorrow, between 8-10 AM, I will be driving in Timisoara. Please stay inside..

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Urban legend: Cats and glassware get along

I live a rather TV-free life, but when I do watch TV, I tune in to "Discovery Channel". One of my favourite shows is Mythbusters, where two daredevils prove or disprove (bust) several urban myths. Unfortunately, I have never seen them dealing with the most common urban legend, stating that cats and glassware get along like the horse and carriage. Well, today, Shushu -

was posessed by Adam Savage's spirit (it's strange to be posessed by the spirit of a living being), and decided that she needs to do some experimenting. The result:

Myth BUSTED, together with a glass lid. Well done, Shushu.

Lunar eclipse

Tonight, Romania and other parts of the world witnessed a partial lunar eclipse (80%). From Wikipedia:
A partial lunar eclipse will take place on August 16, 2008, the second of two lunar eclipses in 2008, with the first being a total eclipse on February 20, 2008. The next lunar eclipse will be a penumbral eclipse occurring on February 9, 2009, while the next total lunar eclipse will occur on December 21, 2010. The penumbral eclipse will begin at 18:23 UTC, with the partial eclipse beginning at 19:36. The time of greatest eclipse is 21:10. The partial eclipse will end at 22:44, and the penumbral eclipse will finally at 23:57"

On the above thumbnail, the Moon is quite inconspicuous; seeing the pic at full resolution helps

Saturday, August 16, 2008

First pics with Sony Ericsson Cybershot k810i

Friday, August 15, 2008

Of men and their toys

For a couple of hours now, I am the proud owner of a Sony Ericsson K810i mobile phone (89 euros, with a 2-year Orange subscription). What attracted me to it was its 2.3 megapixel camera. Here is how its manufacturer praises it:
"With Photo fix, you have that extra, magical dark room touch. Adjust light balance, brightness and contrast in one go, and see your good shots turn great. The 3.2-megapixel camera comes packed with features. Get sharp with auto focus. And don't let poor lighting worry you: use the Xenon flash."

Many reviewers find it outstanding; as for me, we'll live and see. Up to now, I tried the camera - pretty decent photos, that is, excellent for a mobile phone but so-and-so for a digital camera. What is good, is that I will have, from now on, a camera always at hand.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The "Carturesti" bookshop - Cluj presents "Space and Time in Cambodia"

As one can see from my older posts, I took a lot of pics while in South-East Asia. I had no other intention, at that time, except to seize the moment. Having seen them, my family and friends encouraged me to gather them in an exchibition. I hate fake modesty, but I have to confess that I should be the last person to be praised for these pics; in fact, any person can photograph beauty and suffering. Here is the press release from the Carturesti bookshop:

"Librăria Cărtureşti Cluj prezintă – Spaţiu şi timp în Cambodgia:
Un cercetător la Agenţia Spaţială Română, cu un protest inedit îndreptat împotriva americanului îmbogăţit prin vânzarea unor parcele pe Lună, va expune la librăria Cărtureşti din Iulius Mall Cluj fotografii … din Cambodgia. Alegerea spaţiului capturat de fotografie vine dintr-o prezenţă în acel loc: „Nu am fost încă pe lună, pe soare, în cosmos”, explică Virgiliu Pop. Fotografia sa e cea a unui călător obişnuit, cu valoare de jurnal şi istorică, situată undeva la mijlocul distanţei între fotografia de presă şi cea artistică. Văzute ca „o fereastră format A4 într-o altă regiune a spaţiului”, pozele lui Virgiliu Pop se bazează pe senzaţie, întâmplare, raţiune, mai mult decât pe-o anumită tehnică în fotografie. Expoziţia „Cambodgia - lumini şi umbre” va ajunge în Cărtureşti pe 20 august şi va rămâne acolo până în 9 septembrie.
„Din respect pentru nenumăratele victime ale comunismului, m-am simţit dator să fotografiez câmpurile morţii şi celulele de tortură, unde unii oameni au fost ucişi doar pentru că aveau ochelari, aşadar ştiau să citească, aşadar erau duşmani de clasă”, argumentează Virgiliu Pop partea întunecată a expoziţiei. Nu a avut niciun şoc cultural în Cambodgia, poate doar unul culinar: „Am fost pregatit inclusiv să întâlnesc vânzătoare ambulante de păianjeni prăjiţi. Nu am fost însă pregătit să îi consum”. În fotografie se poziţionează ca simplu observator, nimic mai mult, aşa cum în cercetare e un tânăr briliant, cu un doctorat scoţian în derulare sub titlul „Cui aparţine luna? Aspecte extraterestre ale dreptului de proprietate funciar şi mineral”. În luna octombrie, acelaşi Virgiliu Pop va veni din nou în Cărtureşti pentru o dezbatere despre nebunia cumpărării pe bucăţi a Lunii şi o prezentare a proiectului său protest „Soare de vânzare”."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Five Future Lawsuits We’re Already Working On

Lauren Davis from writes about future lawsuits (
"This fall’s Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica, will plunge civil rights attorney Joseph Adama into unfamiliar legal and ethical depths when he encounters the first member of the Cylonic species. Fortunately, lawyers on our planet are already considering the legal consequences of the future, toaster-laden or otherwise. After the jump, five legal areas sure to burn up the billable hours of future law firms.
Extraterrestrial Property: For several decades, the field of space law was focused on the extraplanetary actions of governments and the placement of satellites in orbit. But as private enterprises turn their sights on the stars, legal scholars have been forced to ponder just who will own the final frontier.
Who is working on it: Virgiliu Pop, a researcher at the Romanian Space Agency who once jokingly claimed ownership of the sun, has written extensively on the perils of allowing individuals to stake extraterrestrial claims without the recognition of the entire international community. Others, like Space Settlement Institute executives Alan Wasser and Douglas Jobes, have written about approaching a real estate framework from a perspective of colonization."