The unexpected adventure of traveling through time

By Nora Vasconcelos

timetravel by NVS
From The Time Machine, first published by H.G Wells in 1895, to The End of Eternity, by Isaac Asimov (1955), Time Traveling has been a subject that has fascinated writers for years and years.

In some cases, the main character has some sort of control regarding the places he or she wants to visit, in some others, it’s totally at random.

In The Accidental Time Machine, by Joe Haldeman, as the title says, the adventures of Matt Fuller started after an experiment he was doing at a lab in Boston began to act funny.

One night, while taking a devise home, he discovers that it has “moved” a short distance from the original place he had left it, after he has manipulated this particular box. Working some equations, he thinks that what he has in his hands is some sort of time machine, so he decides to see how it works.

As it’s a small device, he places a small turtle, with all its habitat (food and water), onto the box, and with the help of a camera, he records what is the first time travel for such a little pet.

As time passes by, Matt realizes that the machine travels are exponential, so with some practice and a lot of equations, he’s able to determine up to what moment in time the machine will travel, however, up to this point, it remains unknown for him where the box goes.

As his experiments continue, and his life turns completely around them, Matt discovers that if he joins the machine with a car, using a wire, he’s able to travel through time as well.

This is when the real adventure starts for him. As he’s able to know for how long he’ll be away, he can prepare some supplies, however, he’s never certain where he will end up, so he has to prepare a bit of everything, “just in case”.

Accidents happen every time he uses the machine, and more people are affected, in positive or negative ways, when he arrives to different eras and places. But somehow, he manages to return to his hometown in Boston, many many years later from the time he started traveling.

Then he has to learn all about this new life, in which he ignores many customs and appears as an expert in some other fields. Currencies are different, although people always speaks his language, with some variations, and clothes vary a lot.

With every adventure, he has to learn how to trust people, and how to let them go as well, but problems always remain in the past, as any time things go sour, he just clicks a little button and there he goes, traveling through time again.

At the end, what might have seemed an ideal situation, turns into something unexpected, what allows Matt, finally, to find some stability and happiness, with a life that little resembles that one that he left behind that uneventful night when accidentally he discovered his time machine.

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Weekly Photo: Relic

By Nora Vasconcelos

I always find something magical and nostalgic in all kind of streetcars, either if they’re still traveling around the city or if they’re part of a historical collection. They’re like a little piece of the past that hasve made it up to these days, giving people the chance to travel back in time, even if only for a few minutes.

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The irresistible joy of cookie books

Text by Nora Vasconcelos

Photo by Anna Langova
Photo by Anna Langova

It’s funny how I can’t never get tired of cookie books. Whenever I’m wandering around a bookstore I can’t resist the temptation of buying a new book with all sort of recipes to prepare cookies.

Most of the time I restrain myself, but, from time to time I just surrender to the wonders of this unique pieces of happiness and enjoyment.

Of course I enjoy making cookies, but most of the joy comes just from browsing the books, reading the recipes, imagining how the ingredients combine and leaving in my mouth the sweet idea of how any given cookie should taste as soon as it’s out of the oven.

Among my favorite cookie books, these take priority on my bookcase: Holiday Cookies and Treats; Perfect Cookies: Delicious, easy and fun to make; 500 Cookies: The only cookie compendium; The Great Big Cookie Book, and Swiss cookies: Biscuits for Christmas and all year round.

From these, 500 Cookies gave me an immense source of happiness as I got the calendar version, so I was able to go through each one of the recipes day by day, making my mornings both enjoyable and delicious. Although, it’s worth saying that they aren’t in fact 500 different recipes, but three different versions of each cookie. Anyways, it’s something I really like.

The Great Big Cookie Book and Perfect cookies are amazing books to go through and it’s hard no to feel hungry after turning several pages of them.

Of course, baking cookies is always a big challenge, there are so many variations to take into consideration that some times it’s an interesting task to prepare the perfect cookie, but it sure is fun to try! And to try with a good deal of success, Holiday Cookies and Treats is a friendly book that presents in an easy way all sort of Christmas cookies, from shortbread to brownies.

The Swiss Cookies book is my most recent acquisition, and I like that it really puts me in the right mood to feel as if I were walking around one of those busy streets of Zurich, enjoying myself with the sight of the cookies and the treats shown in the window displays, waiting for me to seat down and rest for a moment, while enjoying the traditional recipes of this country.

And now, it’s cookie time! Enjoy 😀

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Isaac Asimov: An imaginative mind without limits

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Infinite Horizons.
Infinite Horizons.
Last year around this time a unique book came to my hands, The end of Eternity by Isaac Asimov, captured my mind since the very beginning, filling my mind with vivid images about how the Eternity could look like, with all its different eras, and the “headquarters of the “eternals” who took care (and some times determined the faith) of the life of the “non-eternals” as to prevent any major changes at any given era that could affect or impact the prevalence of eternity.

However, this big bosses of the eternity weren’t counting on their plans falling apart for one factor that throughout history has usually caused unexpected turns: love. So, as it happened, one eternal, who was meant to be a key element on the creation and preservation of Eternity, fell in loved. 

It was the internal fight of this eternal who fell in love with a non-eternal that made him break the rules and go against all he had ever believed in. This love and his assumptions that he had been betrayed made him become one of the elements that caused “the end of Eternity”, to leave instead, the beginning of Infinity.

Although I finished this book in a couple of days, it’s impact in my reader’s mind has lasted up to know, admiring the way Asimov mastered the art of writing combining in his book elements of suspense, romance and science fiction.

I’ve also found more and more elements in this novel that seem to have become a reference for sci-fi book writers and screenplay writers focused on time traveling stories.

As for me, one year later, I still feel honored that I had the chance to read such magnificent work. So many thanks Mr. Asimov, wherever you are from here to infinity! 🙂

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Memorable Bookstores

Friendly places for the readers.  Friendly places for the readers. [/caption]I’ve loved reading ever since I have memory. This love for books has taken me to step to uncountable bookstores throughout the years, and of course, as soon as I’m inside, it’s almost impossible for me to leave them.

So, of course I have to leave at some point, but not without some sort of pain, and in more than one occasion, with a great deal of nostalgia.

Throughout the year as well, there have been some special bookstores of which I’ve become truly fond of, such as Schoenhoef’s.

I remember I got there while wandering peacefully around those magnificent streets of Harvard, Massachusetts, and of course, I couldn’t resist the temptation to get in as soon as I saw that this place specialized in foreign books.

As soon as I got there, everything was like magic! I just didn’t know where to start, I wanted to see everything at once, so, while making up my mind, one of the guys at the bookstores came to me and asked me if I needed any assistance. Of course I almost jumped up to the ceiling, because my mind was only focused on those ‘delightable’ shelves full of books in so many different languages.

Still a bit surprised I managed to answer, “it’s just that there are so many books that I don’t know where to start”. By then my heart was pumping fast, all out of happiness.

After a very long, almost stretched, hour and a half, I had inspectioned every single one of the shelves and got some precious books, one of them La mia vitta e un disastro, the italian version of the book Angus, thongs and full frontal snogging, by Louise Rennison.

Another memorable experience at an international bookshop was the one I was lucky enough have, when walking around the Soho area in London. Unfortunately the name of the place has skipped my mind I this moment, I just remember me walking around the streets close to Oxford Street and the Charing Cross Station, where the bookshops area is, and somehow I managed to get right in front of this little store full of international books.

I still remember my amazement when I got to the Italian section and had the chance to hold in my hands, for the very first time, a book written by Umberto Eco, in it’s original language. While going through the pages of L’Isola del Giorno prima (The island of the day before), I felt as I were hearing music coming from the book.

Coming back to the States, I keep very fond memories of the several times I visited Daedalus Books at Belvedere Square, in Baltimore, Maryland.

I became really attached to this bookstore, that unfortunately closed down in 2011, leaving only for us book lovers, the warehouse and the online service , because of the unique combination that they managed to create among an incredible selection of well known, and not so well known but exceptional titles, very low prices and amazing service. Whatever question I had, I always got a kind answer that pointed me to the right book. Of course I got really sad when this retail store close, and I kept on thinking that no bookstore should ever close!

Also in Baltimore, there’s an adorable small place, that more than a bookstore is a book shelter. This place, called The Book Thing is the place where book lovers care for old books so much that they take there the ones that have already been read and in exchange anyone can take any book they want, just for free. The only rule here, is to love and to care for these books.

Jumping back to Boston, it comes to my memory an incredible bookstore located along the Backbay street. Again, the name escapes from my mind, but what I don’t forget is how big my surprise was when I saw what it seemed to be a very small bookshop, with a little green door, leaving the best part for the inside as it was so hard to believe how many aisles and shelved this store managed to have hidden from the outside world, as if they wanted to protect the readers from the constant activity that this street usually has.

A place I have never had the chance to actually be in, but that has a special place in my list of wonderful bookstores is the Moravian Book Shop, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Although I’ve only heard from this place, that was founded in the 18th century, I keep track of it thanks to its constant newsletters. What I like the most of this place, besides its historical value and charming presence, is the events that they prepared all the year round to support readers and authors.

Now I have to close this post of memorable bookstores with two big ones in which I’ve spent so many hours of my life, Barnes and Noble, and Borders (which painfully I have to say, it was also closed last year). To these two bookstores, I simply want to say: Thanks for all those wonderful times I’ve spent surrounded by books, music, and the right environment!

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Weekly Photo: Changing Seasons

Colors of the Winter.
Colors of the Winter.
It’s really inspirational to see the way Nature changes itself to get adjusted to the different seasons of the year.

Happy winter time!

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Simply… Thankful

The essence of life.
Anyone could wonder why I’ve chosen this photo among so many to represent with an image the world Thankful.

The answer comes from a deep feeling of completion that I got while standing on this amazing place, over there at the North of Ireland, when I had the chance the walk for about 3 km along the shore of the tip of the island only to see the magnificence of this rock formations that have become the meeting point between the earth with the sea waters for hundreds of years.

So, now, with this image, I have the chance to put together in this post three of my strongest passions in life: traveling, writing and reading.

Although I didn’t physically have a book with me that day on the shore, books are always with me, both in paper and in my head. So, now that I’m thinking about how thankful I’m for all the wonderful things that these three passions have given to my life, I thought I’d also add to this post the titles of some of the books I’ve year and for which I’m absolutely thankful for.

So, from the list of my dearest books, I have to start with two stories that marked my childhood: One and Thousand One Nights, The Travels of Marco Polo and The Miser by Moliere.

While growing up, I added some other titles to my top list, such as the works of Oscar Wilde; Around the World in 80 days by Jules Verne; Love in the Time of Colera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco; The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Conan Doyle, and the works of Charles Dickens.

Recently I’ve increased my list of dearest books with The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov; The last Dickens by Matthew Pearl; Final Theory by Mark Alpert; The Broker by John Grisham, and the collection of books written by Debbie Macomber around Blossom Street.

It’s hard to keep me from prolonging this list, but the books that I’ve mentioned have giving me so many moments of reflexion and enjoyment, that it’s something to be thankful for.

As for my trips, I have to say that there’s not a single one for which I’m not absolutely thankful and amazed for.


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A tour around the world in 1001 images

Text and Photo by Nora Vasconcelos

Destination anywhere.
For restless travelers like myself getting a book like Wonders of the World in 1001 photos is a precious gift.

With breath-taking images, every single page of this book takes my mind hundreds of miles away every single time I go through it.

With inspiring explanations, going through the sections of this little “traveling machine” is like boarding an imaginary plane around the world. To make easier the journey, the book is divided in five sections.

The first one, Natural Wonders, explores the earth and the oceans, the mountains and the forests. In between, it takes the “travelers” to faraway cities founded by native people.

For more adventurous souls, the section on Hidden Treasures is a fascinating trip designed to get to know ancient civilizations and lost empires.

An spiritual journey starts with the Wonders of the Religious hubs section, visiting temples and cathedrals full of art pieces and magnificent structures.

For the urban-life lovers, going through the Amazing Cities section is a deal hard to resist. Seeing the unbelievable images of these places is an open invitation to take long imaginary walks.

The last section of the book is focused on Cultural Paths, giving the readers the opportunity to see in how many cases Nature and Civilization combine to create amazing landscapes.

And now that the mood is set and the weekend awaits, it’s time to start traveling around, no passport required!

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Traveling and Suspense: An entertaining combination

I’ve just finished reading The Broker by John Grisham and I have to say that I enjoyed every single page of it.

Although I’ve read several novels by Grisham, what I found outstanding in this one was the author’s ability to combine the pleasures of traveling with the suspense of a thrilling chase of a disgraced lawyer who has to run for his life around Italy, Switzerland and the U.S.

With a very fast pace, the book also gives the reader the chance to relax and enjoy the very detailed descriptions of the small town of Treviso and the big areas of Bologna, with their tasty Trattorias and Cafés and their stylish way of living.

While the chase’s going on, the main character faces the challenge of not only running for his live but adjusting to a different culture and learning a foreign language, which totally remained me of the early days of a student or a traveler trying to grasp for any word that sounds familiar in order to participate in a conversation or to get the simplest things in life such a cup of coffee.

The descriptions are so clear that it’s easy to picture everyone of the scenes that are presented as the lawyer runs out of time to escape from the “bad guys” who want to get ride of him, at the same time that he manages to get closer to home by the hour.

With one last ace up his sleeve, “the broker” plays his final game, risking all what he has and what he has tried to save, hoping that this time, things will work out just fine for him.

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A Moment in Time

Can the past be fixed?
I always find surprising when I realize how malleable Time seems to be some times.

Even though it’s supposed to be a fixed thing with the same exact quantity of minutes in every hour, in some occasions Time appears to be so elastic that allows some minutes to feel longer and some other to feel shorter.

That also makes me think about how some things in our life are missed while we’re too busy doing other things. Then, when Time passes by, we can’t help wonder “where did the Time has gone?”

Watching a TV series the other day, called Third Watch, this phrase caught my attention when a policeman tells a friend “I’ve spent 25 years of my life in this game and nobody even told me I was playing.”

That made me remember this singular feeling that appears when we recover consciousness of our life after having been too busy, and then we realize all what we have missed during this period.

This situation also reminds me of a movie called Somewhere in time, because it reflects in a very precise way this feeling that an important part of our lives has gone lost “somewhere in time”.

The movie, stared by Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, is based on a novel called Bid Time Return, written by Richard Matheson, and it’s called in Spanish “Pidele al tiempo que vuelva” (Ask for the time to come back), which, I think, it also applies very well to this suffocating feeling that appears every time that we’ve missed something important and we wish we could go back in time to re-do those missing things.

May be this is one of the reasons why we can find so many books and TV series in which the main topic is the search for a device that allows us to travel in time.

But then the question always remains, is it really possible to change our past? Or are we condemned to live with it, just as General Kirk, from The Time Tunnel TV Series, said: “The past is something that we cannot change and we have to learn how to live with it”?

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