Sunday, 30 September 2018

Movie Review: The True Cost (Or the Eye Opening Journey into Fast Fashion Clothing)

During my trip for this past two weeks, my friend told me about a documentary called The True Cost and I decided to give it a go and, while I had an idea of why we had such cheap clothing, this was eye-opening to me so I decided to write about this today instead of my trip. It is a slightly more serious, and perhaps surprising, post than what you're used to seeing here but worry not, there will be plenty of posts about my trip in the Balkans in the next weeks because I have a lot to talk about!

So what's The True Cost about? It's a story about clothing, most specifically fast fashion: the clothes we wear, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our world. The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. The True Cost (2015) is a documentary film that pulls back the curtain on the untold story and asks us to consider, who really pays the price for our cheap disposable clothing? On the one hand, consumers, who demand fashionable items at low prices; on the other, exploited workers who manufacture them under extreme conditions. This documentary is filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes.

We are actually talking about two additional costs here: environmental and humanitary. Cotton represents nearly half of the total fiber used to make clothing today, being responsible, worldwild, for 18% of  pesticide and 25% of total insecticide use. The largely untested impacts of these chemicals on both the land and human health are beginning to be questioned, as our skin is the largest organ, these chemicals may pass into the bloodstream of the people wearing these clothes. Leather production is also increasingly linked to a variety of environmental and human health hazards.The amount of feed, land, water and fossil fuels used to raise livestock for leather production come at a huge cost to the health of our world. In addition, the tanning process is among the most toxic in all of the fashion supply chain and workers are exposed to harmful chemicals on the job, while the waste generated pollutes natural water sources leading to increased disease for surrounding areas.

We are increasingly disconnected from the people who make our clothing as 97% of items are now made overseas. They are some of the lowest paid workers in the world and roughly 85% of all garment workers are women. The human factor of the garment industry is too big to ignore; as we consistently see the exploitation of cheap labor and the violation of workers’, women’s, and human rights in many developing countries across the world. As customers in an increasingly disconnected world, it is important that we feel connected to the workers who make our clothes, as well as inform brands that we care about these people and their voice. I mean, is it worth to ignore the ethical questions here? Is it acceptable for someone do die during their working day for this fast fashion clothing?

So after watching about this I went to the movie's site (where you can read more about what I wrote here) and I found their 5 tips for shopping smarter, which is something that we can all do:
1) Will you wear it 30 times? The rapid turnover of trends means clothes are disposable. Along with the deflation of clothing prices this has put the supply chain under unprecedented pressure leading directly to problems like the Dhaka fashion factory fire that killed over 100 people. Just asking yourself if you will wear an item 30 times is a great place to start shopping smarter and more intentional.
2) Break the cycle. 50-100 new micro seasons a year is the new normal. So slow down your fashion cycle.
3) Spread your fashion money. The global fashion industry is worth 2.5 trillion dollars. Shouldn’t this be shared? Look for producer centric brands with Fairtrade standards with longstanding producer groups who get a fair share of the profits.
4) Detox your wardrobe. Fashion is the world’s second most polluting industry after oil. Notably, Azodyes are still the most used synthetic dyes despite being toxic. 10% of the world’s biggest fashion brands have committed to phasing out toxic substances through Greenpeace’s Detox programme. And you can check the list here.
5) Be the change you want to see in your wardrobe. Fashion Revolution represents millions of consumers who want change and put pressure on the brands to increase transparency and empowers consumers to be inquisitive about #whomadetheirclothes.

Will we continue ot search for happiness in the consumption of things? Will we be satisfied with a system that makes us feel rich while leaving our world so desperately poor? Will we continue to turn a blind eye to the millions of lives behind our clothes or will this be a turning point? In the midst of all the challenges facing us today and all the problems that feel bigger than us, maybe we can start here, with clothing. I leave you the movie trailer at the end of today's post and, if you can spare 1h30 of your time, please go watch it (it's available on Netflix).

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Sunday, 9 September 2018

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (Book and Movie Review)

To All the Boys I've Loved Before just got adapted into a Netflix movie and it was so adorable I had to read the book it was based on! It's one of those mushy, funny romantic high school comedies where the actors actually look like teenagers and you don't have to think a lot about it, you just sit back, grab your popcorn and spend a good hour and a half.

Sixteen-year-old asian Lara Jean Song-Covey keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her but rather ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved - five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. She likes her sister's ex-boyfriend but starts fake-dating an ex-friend-ex-boyfriend so she can escape her sister's ex-boyfriend questions. Confused? Read the book or watch the movie to see how this ends!

After watching the movie I went ahead and read the book and realised how amazingly well the actor did their parts. They translated the book perfectly on the screen, it's one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I've ever watched! They made some changes in the adaptation and, honestly, I think they made the movie better with that. For example, in the book, Lara Jean's younger sister, Kitty, is the one who mails the letters out of spite but in the movie she does it out of love, hoping Lara Jean finds love somehow. To be honest, I loved movie Peter Kravinsky more than book Peter.

I would definitely recommend you watching this movie, if you're into this kind of stuff (and even if you're not, do give it a try). Netflix did a great job including some diversity in their movies and, even though I saw some blacklash because the male protagonist wasn't asian as well it just seems slightly silly to cast someone asian just because, as the book was written the other way. Like I get the white-washing blacklash but I don't understand the argument that the male protagonist should also be asian. I think the actors were amazing in their roles anyway!

I'm really hoping Netflix decides to make the rest of the series, even though I haven't read the sequels yet. I did love the characters so I can't wait to see where they go from there and I'm planning on reading the books very soon so I'm ready when the movies come out!

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Sunday, 2 September 2018

A No-Maj Ponders Potter: The Deathly Hallows (part 2)

Yesterday was September 1, and as any proper self-proclaimed Potterhead knows what that means, I thought it was perfect to finish the "A No Maj-Ponders Potter" saga today, just like the epilogue at the end of this movie. Here's the last post of this journey!

I now come to the end of this wonderful collection of films with the incredible Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 2) (2011). I would like to make an analysis not only of the last chapter but also of the whole series.

At the beginning of the movie, Harry Potter is in a patient's house doing some illegal trading. Turns out he wants to rob a bank and is coercing a poor employee into letting him in. The truth is that not only does he get the little creature's help in exchange for the Gryffindor sword, but he can also enter the bank incredibly easily using only a small amount of charms. For a magic bank, it seemed ridiculously incompetent dealing with magical users. Harry then finds himself in someone's vault and steals a glass of gold, but he doesn't get to laugh because the goblin tries to catch him there, which probably earned him the employee's of the month bonus. But unfortunately, Harry Potter convinces a dragon to give him a ride. He's probably promised him gold, as he had tried to do the same thing with the man at the bank. It's already known that dragons love gold, sometimes even more than Harry Potter himself. Both dragons and crows like to collect shiny things to put in the nest, this is more than known.

Anyone who thinks that Harry Potter's thirst for expensive gold objects and accessories ends here is well-mistaken because he has the nerve to go ask a ghost for a tiara to and then steals it when everyone is distracted. His friends Hermione and Ron, meanwhile, break the glass to stop Harry's mania from stealing other people's gold, and also because they feel bad about keeping stolen items in their possession. I just don't know why they didn't turn it over to the police or give it back to the owner.

Then Voldemort, who walks around with a pet snake, arrives at Hogwarts with a lot of people and tries to invade it but isn't powerful enough so he meets with Snape and the snake ends up killing the sinister teacher. In his last breath, he can still ask Harry Potter to collect his tears and take them to that pot where they put the spaghetti. When Harry dips his head in the water that he sees the true story of Snape and we all begin to like him very much.

Approaching the end of the film, Harry meets Voldemort in a forest revealing some naivety, as one shouldn't respond to this kind of anonymous invitations. We could totally predict that Voldemort was going to cast an avada kedavra. Harry dies and Voldemort has a big party and invites everyone, but then Harry wakes up and defeats the fearsome wizard in an exciting battle.

As always, here are my thoughts on the characters in this movie:

Harry Potter: In this film, he was clearly the most influential character and one who carried the story forward the most. Also because his friends are more concerned with each other than helping him defeat one of the most powerful wizards ever.

Ron and Hermione: In the last chapters of the film it seemed to me that there is no group of 3 friends and there is a group of 1 + 2 friends. I am not saying that the romance between them is not to be explored but I think it could have been done differently.

Harry's child: Whoever thought that a child thinking he's the most powerful sorcerer in the world was evil and would annoys a lot of people, get ready for the son of the strongest sorcerer in the world who defeated Voldemort. I bet at this time at Hogwarts, they're all fed up with the conversation "my dad is stronger than yours because he beat the bald demon."

Snape: It was difficult to escape the spoilers and I was writing as someone who didn't know the final twist would have as a first thought but the truth is that that mysterious black aura captivates the viewer.

Voldemort: It started out as a teacher's skin disease and ended up with an army behind and almost killed our dear Potter. It's a blatant case in which one could well have cut off evil at the root.

The bad guys: They'd always been one step ahead but when the good guys discovered that Voldemort kept his soul in pieces of costume jewelry, there was a little more balance.

The good ones: at first they helped Harry a lot but by the end they were already hanging a bit in his powers. The peak of the influence of a good character comes after his death, and nothing can get out of my head that if Voldemort had killed half a dozen more people, he would have been defeated more quickly. Sirius Black, Dumbledore and, to some extent, Snape were much more useful after death, although Snape was being useful in life without our knowledge.

To conclude, this is clearly the most serious and dramatic film of them all and so it's difficult to write a more relaxed summary with so many deaths and epic battles. Nevertheless, it doesn't lose its identity and nor deviates from the previous ones. Although it is a battle-filled film and completely subordinate to the war theme, it's brilliant, and incredibly subtle, the effort of the production not to turn these last two chapters into action films. The Harry Potter saga is fantasy, not action, and it's great that they managed to keep that. Summarizing the series, I can say that I liked it a lot and I became a fan.”

Here's the whole "No-Maj Ponders Potter" series for re-readings whenever you want:

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Sunday, 26 August 2018

Utravelling - We Plan Your Trip

Today's post is short and simple. I'm bringing you something I'd been working on and I'm very excited about. You should know by now I'm crazy about travelling and my wonderings are always planned to the minimal detail - such as times we take on each attraction and so on.

And I decided to create an online company that does exactly what I love doing before travelling: planning the trips! At Utravelling (english version website here), we search for the flight/accommodation most suited to your needs (and a 10% discount on Booking) and create daily itineraries to your taste: what transport to use, travelling times, places to visit and points of interest all planned according to your needs.  If you also wish, we offer Traveler's Consultation and tell you if you need any specific medication/vaccines for your destination.

So what differentiates Utravelling from other agencies? It's a company dedicated to providing you the best vacations tailored to your taste and budget. We carry out unique travel itineraries, developed and adapted to the expectations of each client.

Do you want to help me get started? Follow Utravelling on Facebook and Instagram and most important, spread the word everytime someone needs to plan a trip!

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Sunday, 12 August 2018

A Day Trip to Berlengas

Localizado a cerca de 10km de distância do Cabo Carvoeiro, o arquipélago das Berlengas é composto por 3 grupos de ilhéus: Berlenga Grande e recifes adjacentes, Estelas e Farilhões-Forcadas, todas de natureza geológica diferente da costa continental próxima. A Berlenga Grande, com 4km de perímetro, apresenta a forma de um "8" recortado por numerosas reentrâncias. A parte mais considerável da ilha, situada a oeste, chama-se simplesmente "Berlenga" e compreende dois terços da superfície total da ilha. A outra parte, a leste, separada da primeira por um estrangulamento resultante da erosão marítima sobre uma importante falha geológica, é a "Ilha Velha".

Devido à sua localização geográfica, a Berlenga benefícia de dois tipos de influências climáticas: a atlântica, nas áreas mais exposta a norte, e a mediterrânica, nas expostas a sul. Isto proporcionou ao arquipélago características faunisticas e florísticas que fizeram dele um ecossistema único, tanto a nível marinho como terrestre. Por isto, as Berlengas integram a Rede Nacional de Áreas Protegidas, constituindo uma Reserva Natural e é ainda considerada Reserva Mundial da Biosfera da UNESCO, tendo o mais antigo estatuto de protecção integral de que há memória, desde 1465 com o rei Afonso V.

Confesso que estava ligeiramente apreensiva em relação à viagem em si e tinha ouvido que as gaivotas eram problemáticas mas todos esses receios revelaram-se em vão. Saímos de Lisboa às 8h com tempo nublado e chegámos a Peniche um pouco antes das 9h30. Fizemos a travessia para as Berlengas pela companhia Berlenga Live às 10h00 (com regresso às 15h00) e apesar de ter sido uma viagem com solavancos uma pessoa acaba por se habituar. Sabem aquelas montanhas russas suavezinhas nos parques de diversões? É mais ou menos a mesma coisa.

Claro está, português que é português tem sempre aquele atrasozinho ou não seríamos conhecidos pelo nosso "quarto de hora académico". Não saímos exactamente às 10h com as pessoas a entrar e acomodarem-se no barco mas diria que a viagem durou cerca de meia hora entre Peniche e a ilha, com paragem para apreciação do Cabo Carvoeiro. Tivemos algum tempo para recuperar dos solavancos da viagem até à ilha no "Bairro dos Pescadores", na encosta sul da "Ilha Velha", e às 11h tivemos novo barco à espera para vermos as grutas da ilha, passeio incluído no bilhete que tínhamos pago. Um barco diferente do que nos tinha levado, com fundo de vidro, fez-nos o tour pelas grutas e vimos a cabeça do Elefante, a Cova do Sono onde os pescadores antigamente prenoitavam por se situar na zona sul e não ser atingida pelos ventos fortes vindos do norte, a Gruta da Flandres, a Gruta Azulo Furado Pequeno onde apenas podem atravessar barcos pequenos e com muito cuidado por ser tão estreita e devido à corrente, e atravessámos a gruta do Furado Grande que atravessa a ilha de um lado ao outro, num túnel com 70 metros de comprimento.

Fomos deixados no Forte de São João Baptista para que pudessemos fazer o trajecto de volta a pé e conhecer a ilha. Este forte foi ordenado por D. João IV para servir de fortaleza na ilha, com o objectivo de reforçar a defesa da cidadela de Peniche. Em 1835 foi desartilhada, o que levou ao seu gradual abandono mas na década de 50 do século XX foi restaurada para posterior adaptação do espaço a pousada, o que se verifica hoje em dia. Facto curioso: não há canalização de água quente no forte por isso as pessoas deixam os garrafões ao sol o dia todo e, no final do dia, tomam banho com essa água quente.

Depois de visitarmos o forte seguimos pelo Trilho das Berlengas, sempre a subir até atingirmos o planalto da ilha (o que, com sol e calor do meio dia acaba por não ser a actividade mais fácil e envolve algumas paragens para descansar). Virando à esquerda temos acesso às Cisternas e à parte mais a oeste da ilha. Seguindo para a direita vamos ter até ao Farol do Duque de Bragança, com 29m de altura e cuja construção data desde 1841, durante o reinado de D. Maria II. A luz emitida pode ser vista a mais de 50 km de distância, um feito impressionante, considerando que a estrutura usa apenas energia solar e baterias. Como o farol se localiza no ponto mais elevado da Berlenga Grande, a partir daí a viagem é sempre a descer, passando pelo Carreiro dos Cações até ao Bairro dos Pescadores.

É possível acedermos à praia desde o Bairro dos Pescadores mas é um areal pequeno para tanta gente (e a água estava ligeiramente fria) e a ilha tem muito pouca sombra para quem não quer fazer praia. Como fomos no final Julho, apanhámos sol forte o suficiente para me provocar um escaldão apesar de ter posto três vezes mais protector solar que o grupo enquanto almoçávamos e aguardávamos pelo barco de regresso. Recomendo absolutamente uma visita às Berlengas, especialmente durante o Verão, mas aconselho que levem marmitas porque o único restaurante/bar da ilha acaba por inflaccionar bastante os preços devido à falta de concorrência. Para não variar, as fotos aqui são apenas uma pequena amostra, se ficaste com curiosidade podes sempre ir ao meu Instagram.

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Saturday, 28 July 2018

A No-Maj Ponders Potter: The Deathly Hallows (part 1)

My godson is back for the penultimate post of his journey through the Harry Potter films! This time he brings us his review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 (2010)!

If you thought that stuck up kid thinking he's the strongest magician of them all was already annoying, then get ready for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

For those of you who, like myself, have been slightly annoyed by these films right from the start because they're based on a spoiled child who thinks he's better that everyone, maybe perhaps you shouldn't even look at this 2010 film since we're not even fifteen minutes into the movie and we already have nothing less than 6 Harry Potters. What happens is that, being a minor, Harry can be watched by the ministry and, to continue his journey fighting against Voldemort, it's necessary that his location isn't known. So 5 of his friends drink a potion that makes them look like him. This film not only causes a certain distress because of this multiplication of Potters but afterwards we still have to deal with the clones as each one retains its original voice tone. I didn't realize if the potion worked or if this is the worst disguise of the century, since if anyone has the idea of talking to them, the disguise is quickly figured out.

Suddenly, they all start to flee and I get even angrier because they disturb the lives of the poor people who don't go around casting spells. Someone is on the street minding their bussiness, living their life, and suddenly about fifteen witches street race past them. I had heard stories that there's always an uncle in the countryside who takes his nephew in the car or the tractor so he can see how good it is to drive and there are usually accidents. I just didn't expect this to happen to both Harry and Hagrid: drive the wrong way on a freeway with a side-car while competing with Voldemort's henchmen. At some point, Hagrid falls asleep while driving! Actually, if at the beginning of the saga someone asked me to take a guess on who'd drive on the wrong side of the street, I would place my bet on Dumbledore, given his advanced age and how elders are much more likely to have for this kind of "adventures". I didn't expect Harry Potter to be introduced to the world of illegal racing by a drunk and sleepy Hagrid, since he even looked like a nice giant.

At the end of the race I expected to see the pimped brooms and the losers paying their bets, maybe one or two punches from being sore losers, but all you see are all the Harry Potters going back to their original bodies at Ron's. We learn that the Mad-Eye was killed, no wonder. I wasn't too sad because the clones idea was his own. Ron, Harry and Hermione have to flee after an attack and go to London to infiltrate the ministry of magic disguised as officials. They manage to steal a Horcrux, a necklace from Professor Dolores, but they are discovered and have to flee to a forest where they practice shooting at the object to destroy the third fragment of Voldemort's soul. Since they are unsuccessful, Harry puts it around the neck to guard it, but he becomes extremely ill-disposed and cranky. I've had the same thing with wool sweaters because of the itching, there are clothes and accessories of very poor quality nowadays. They can annoy even the calmest person. We realized that Voldemort had saved up on his Horcruxes and probably went to Claire's to buy the necklace and the ring. Dumbledore had already complained about the poor quality of that pinchbeck and I even remember having a very annoying allergy in one of his hands.

The three friends walk out of the forest and it's not very clear where to, but as they show the tent where they live in different landscapes they also show a very serious Ron while the background music becomes more audible, this is the scenic sila for "he's up to something". And he was. At nightfall he fussed over Harry and got all pissed off, leaving the tent with a backpack. Fortunately, he returns soon after and he's the one who saves the Harry from drowning and who destroys the Horcrux with a beautiful sword swing! They all go to Luna's house, where they learn what the deathly hallows are and they get trapped, there is a battle and Dobby dies. He's killed by that witch who killed Sirius Black.

As always, here my opinion about certain characters:
Dumbledore: He was more useful dead in one movie than in four alive! Although Harry Potter expected a heirloom in cash and the Elder Wand, that pool ball will be much more useful and, together the objects the three friends received, will help finding the remaining Horcruxes!

Harry Potter: Although Harry is older and therefore less annoying than at the beginning of the series I still think one is enough.

Ron: I warned since the beginning that Ron needs to stop getting into Harry's problems and this time it seemed like he listened to me for a moment but then regretted it and went back.

The Good: They are always a step behind Voldemort, they didn't take advantage while he was in people's bald heads and now they're paying the price. While Voldemort was a fungus they might as well have sprayed someone's head with medicine for the lice or when he was a gecko someone should have stepped on him but now it's too late!

The Bad: Bellatrix is ​​much more evil than Voldemort, if the hakehead doesn't start to pay attention the bad side may elect another CEO.

In conclusion: one of the best movies in the saga! It's very well structured and finally has a guiding line of action: the search and destruction of the Horcruxes. While some of the previous titles seemed to be guided by what the characters thought about doing, there is finally an action plan. Nice movie, yes sir.

Don't miss the next review on the second part of the Deathly Hallows! If you haven't yet read the previous ones you can find them here:

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Sunday, 15 July 2018

20 Struggles of Wearing Glasses

Some might think of glasses as a fashion statement but those lucky people are blessed to forget some people actually need glasses to see the world around them. This past week I was looking at some Instagram stories and got to one of Sónia's about how naïve people with little to no diopters, a fancy way of measuring someone's blindness level, are. So that got me inspired. As someone who has been wearing glasses for almost 20 years (which is about 70% of my entire life) I feel highly qualified to bring forward the problems of having to wear glasses. In all honesty, this post is also a way for me to vent.

I was destined to have myopia and my childhood was molded by it. I didn't wear contact lenses until almost adulthood and back in early 2000's, when I started wearing them, wearing glasses wasn't in at all. Actually, I would love it if someone could explain to me how not being able to see properly got into fashion. I get the sunglasses part, don't get me wrong. But why, why would you wear glasses with no lens graduation if you don't actually need them? When did being blind become the new in?

So without further ado, let me just enumerate a few problems common to everyone who has over 5 diopters and clearly everyone else doesn't have to deal with:
1 - You won't be able to see anything when you wake up in the morning and thus
2 - It's super important to you to have your glasses within an arm's reach of your bed (what if some emergency happens and you need to quickly leave the bed?).
3 - You won't be able to see anything while taking a shower.
4 - When you don't have your glasses on, you can't distinguish anyone because every face is nothing but a blur.
5 - Which makes going to the beach a very complicated activity (if you don't have any contacts).
6 - Or any swimming activity.
7 - When it rains they get wet and you can't see properly.
8 - They will steam up in surprising and unplanned placed and you won't be able to see .
9 - You need to clean them regularly (and you need to be wearing certain types of fiber to be able to do it properly).
10 - They leave nose imprints.
11 - Changing clothes with them on is a challenge.
12 - When people try your glasses and get amazed by how blind you are.
13 - When they fall off your face.
14 - You can't lie down with them on without squishing and/or
15 - Breaking them.
16 - They are so expensive.
17 - Again, why do we have to pay so much money to be able to see?
18 - After a certain point, the lenses become so thick it's ridiculous.
19 - They also start making your eyes look weird when you have the glasses on.
20 - When you have to get new glasses but you can't see how you look because you don't have your glasses on.

This is our struggle (and I could keep going), so again, why did the fashion industry thought being blind is the new in?

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