Afonso Xavier Canosa Rodriguez


On philology, potatoes and construction.
Well, this is just my first approach to blog-writing. I want it to be the way to keep in touch with colleagues and friends.




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More on travels
Cover of Anton Jankovoy
While still being busy with the edition of the glossary of place names of Mendes Pinto, I got in touch with Anton Jankovoy, an outstanding travel-photographer. It was many different subjects that led me to contact him to edit an article he wrote. First, the fact that I was into publishing at the time. Second, and most important, Anton is a traveler in Asia and his pictures are located in some of the most fascinating and inaccessible places on Earth. Finally, his work on astronomy brings a clear image of the sky, highlighting some aspects that were key to astronomical navigation. Rotation of the Earth appears vivid in the star tracks of Anton's pictures, so does the concept of the stars as a reference to find the celestial poles and hence define latitude, the only geographic coordinate used by Mendes Pinto on his travels (combination of latitude with distances in leagues and cardinal directions allowed location of places without longitude).

This is a short e-book on photography and the night sky. To me it was an excellent opportunity to learn more about topics that are extremely useful to better understand geographical description at the time of transoceanic astronomical navigation.

Google Books offers a good sample of Anton's e-book. Different formats can be found for sale at Lulu, Google Play and Amazon.

As for my e-book on place-names, most of the contents are available on Google Maps. If you have a particular interest in the field or you are a researcher on a related subject, you can contact me to send you a free PDF file with the whole list of place-names I have researched.
Anton Jankovoy's website
Subject: philology - Published 27-05-2013 22:35
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A former construction worker
It was about a month and a half ago last time I visited a construction site. This was a new house, the only one being built around at present. I was told that there was only one bricklayer in the site, so there I went to offer my services, nothing new to me, from bringing mortar and place the bricks on the scaffold to put some rows and rise some walls had I the time and were found skilled enough to do so. There were two bricklayers already, and the rest of the team about to come one of these days. Apparently there was no need to hurry up, work is still scarce!

Construction has become an extra skill that, sometimes, could be well worth mentioning in a CV. Something I do proudly, of course.

Not only. Last week I still could use my trowel to fix the hinged support for a fence. And earlier this month I spread some concrete as a slab for a garage entry. It was some years of hard work and some study, perhaps too many different tasks, changing too soon to become the perfect master, though enough to handle a couple of tools and mix some mortar.
Subject: construction - Published 27-05-2013 22:07
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Furrows

One sunny week and the plow cuts rows of furrows on this not so easy to plow land. Thanks to the wagtail, the blacksmith, the robin, a couple of crows and the shyer warbles that, even if not daring to come over the open ground, kept jumping through the bushes nearby.
Subject: potatoes - Published 22-04-2013 22:49
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Seed tubers in storage

And the rain came back before the sun dried up the soil enough. And it keeps raining.
Subject: potatoes - Published 25-03-2013 22:38
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Maintenance

These rainy months there is more time for small maintenance activities. Basic shuttering and bricklaying. A new ground slab below the barn, a small wall for a gate, setting up a post in a fence, placing a concrete drainage pipe.

Note added on April, 22.
This is a 1 m length wall, very small in length. To build it I used different bricks that remained from works done in previous years. As I had a very small amount of equal bricks, I wanted to avoid cutting them. This why the joints do not appear exactly centered in this row, as I wanted to avoid cutting them to have sufficient bricks to finish the wall. Joints should be more centered, each brick finishing at the length of half the bricks on the inferior and superior rows.
Subject: construction - Published 25-03-2013 22:33
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An e-book

I am working on an e-book that sums up all the place names studied at http://goo.gl/iqc3P.

Most of the contents are already available on the map, the book is only a revision, some entries having more content due to character limitation in Google Maps and a more overall readable disposition.

Below you can find the first draft for an

INTRODUCTION


Have you ever watched a film, read a book, played a game, looked at a picture that caused an impression on you, though, by the time you were supposed to enjoy it, you were urged, compelled, simply ought to move on? Several years had to pass by until you find the time and the place. Now, with less urgency, you actually begin to get into the most it has to offer, at different moments your attention becomes more intense, until you finally feel yourself like bound by an attachment which goes from initial great admiration to the discovery of a new experience far beyond the mere act of watching a film / reading a book / playing a game / looking at a picture?

This is what happened to me with Fernão Mendes Pinto’s travels.

I first scanned the Peregrinaçam (The travels of Mendes Pinto) at a time when different books were piled one upon the other, as compulsory readings with fixed deadlines. Not the best way to enter into subtle, secondary (or even less than secondary) issues such as place names. Enough, however, to get touched by a book that resembled a film of adventures with great sailors, pirates, travelers, warriors, diplomats, merchants, sages, and, above all, exotic places. Enough also to come back, this time just for the pleasure of reading, some years later, during the resting time for lunch or between shifts and several winter weekends (Peregrinaçam is a long book to read). And to return once more, and again, as if I needed to get the story to be continued with new chapters emerging from the vast collection of traveled locations.

This is how my personal quest for the Ilha de Ouro (The Island of Gold, a very seriously and repeatedly sought island during the sixteenth and even seventeenth centuries, probably inexistent as such) began, and that of Tajampura (a port for diamonds trade), and the land of the Oqueus (hunters blamed to be wild and fierce and riders of the most strange mounts), and the collection of references that lead to places such as Quangepaarù (the very rich city where the Emperor of Cauchenchina lived most of the year) and Ocumchaleu (ancient city that, Pinto refers as told by an eremit reader of the ancient chronicles, went under the waters of a lake near Sauady). To do so, obviously I had to start with the most evident and secure locations. And not being a geographer, I had to rely on the work of previous and present researchers who were, and are, sure, more qualified to achieve the final goal of locating most of the place names mentioned by Mendes Pinto.

When I began to draw my first more methodic maps, two years ago, there were already published works that had undertaken a careful research on the place names cited at Peregrinaçam. The studies of Visconde da Lagoa and Le Gentil set up the starting point. Both works are rare even in specialized libraries nowadays, in fact, I couldn’t consult any of them, except the maps originally published by Visconde da Lagoa, edited as a supplement in a later edition of Pinto’s works (Pinto 1989). Subsequent research attends the subject either more superficially, either covering partial geographies only or, as in the case of the most complete study ever I found on Peregrinaçam (Alves 2010), do not try to locate all the placenames in a map.

Hence the need to create my own cartography. And that is the main contribution of this work as, for the contents being, most of the data presented here is only a compilation of information already published. If any merit this approach has, it would be the result of simply putting together different references to discuss each particular place name, see where, and if, the authors agree, and finally conclude a list with the most probable and secure locations.

In some extraordinary cases, when I found resources enough or had achieved more secure / probable related locations, I dare to identify or approximately locate new place names that I haven’t found in any other previous work.

More often, when authors hold different opinions and there is enough evidence in Mendes Pinto’s explanations, I also analyze the data and offer a location as more probable than others.

Now, my main aim when publishing this list of place names and its related map is to offer a new tool for the present traveler, researcher, archeologist, sailor, or whoever could be interested, to confirm the less probable locations, to identify new place names or just to serve as a guide to follow Mendes Pinto travels with the visual aid of a map.

May you find it as stimulating as I did.


The voyages and adventures, of Fernand Mendez Pinto, a Portugal: during his travels for the space of
Subject: philology - Published 25-03-2013 22:19
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The sun and the soil
Wet field
After two months of abundant rainfalls, finally, last week, first moderately frosty mornings arrived followed by cloudy, though not rainy, days. There were some sunny hours on the wet fields, too.

Soil moisture is barely over the level to allow final preplant tillage and planting of the first potatoes of the year.
Subject: potatoes - Published 04-03-2013 22:06
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Laminate flooring
Laminate flooring: pieces
The final step in the room before placing furniture was installing the floor. An easy, quick and affordable solution is laminate flooring. As it happens with tiles, first, the planks have to be oriented, pieces for the borders and final row have to be cut. Having spent several months, several sites and having even been in several different companies where part of the job was flooring with tiles, it is not as easy as it seems and it takes more than, hum, "several months" experience (at least to me) to be a professional. Having never before worked with laminated flooring, though it is not actually a very difficult task, and it doesn't indeed require high technical skills, I relied again on an experienced worker for this and the man writing here at present took his share as the assistant, the ground worker, the last one: at this I have “some” experience . More than “several months”, for sure. :-)
Subject: construction - Published 21-01-2013 20:44
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Two years
A new year is about to begin and the same goals as last year still apply.

The same wishes, too.

All the best!
Subject: about - Published 31-12-2012 20:35
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Toponomy of the world
Map of the world with toponomy of Mendes Pinto
Brief overview of the identification of placenames in Mendes Pinto's Travels.

First step was indexing all placenames. This has been hand-made. I also wrote a machine extraction algorithm that, by now, does not differentiate anthroponomic entries from placenames (based on typography only). Next came documentation and finally mapping.

The main goal is always finding out the most approximate geographic coordinates for a given placename. Homophony (the fact that a name sounds similar to a placename in other language) is the main means of identification, though not the most important when other different parameters can be considered: distance (leagues mainly; less frequently, latitude degrees), direction, time spent traveling from already identified locations; historical and cultural references; landscape and urban description, and overall geographic context.

The map with comments can be found here: http://goo.gl/iqc3P
Subject: philology - Published 31-12-2012 20:16
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Corridor
Views of the ceiling and walls
Views of the ceiling and walls when finished.
Subject: construction - Published 31-12-2012 20:00
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A plasterboard ceiling. Details (and II)
Support plate around the perimeter, joists and board.
Subject: construction - Published 19-11-2012 23:23
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