Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wild Animal Park

As promised, here are a few pictures from the San Diego Wild Animal Park. I liked the Wild Animal Park more than the Zoo mostly because its laid out in a much more spacious way (which is not surprising since its about 40 minutes outside San Diego).

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 100-400.

Friday, July 25, 2008

At the Zoo

Last weekend Kim's family flew down and met us in LA and we spent the weekend in San Diego. We visited both the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. These are all images I took at the San Diego Zoo. Tomorrow I'll post a similar set from the Wild Animal Park.

The Zoo was interesting but I was a little dismayed by how small many of cages were, especially for the birds and the larger animals. Its difficult to imagine those animals being happy in such a small surrounding.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 100-400.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Not an iPhone...

... but its good enough for me. On Friday, July 11, the new iPhone 3G went on sale worldwide. I figured with its lower upfront price (I say upfront since AT&T more than makes up or it in the increased price of the data plan over the 2 years of your required contract) many people would dump their iPod Touches. Sure enough, Friday morning there was a gentleman on craigslist looking to sell his 2 month old iPod Touch so that he could get a new iPhone.

When the iPhone 3G was announced several weeks ago, I too was pretty tempted by the specs to get one. Unfortunately the phone comes with what would to me be a wasteful voice/data package. I current have a cell phone with a pay-as-you-go plan and I have trouble using up the $25 I put on my phone every 3 months. So to dump that and start paying AT&T $70/month for the iPhone was just too much. Interestingly AT&T now offers (or will soon offer) the option of purchasing an iPhone without a contact (at the inflated price of $499/$599). With that option one can use a pay-as-you-go SIM card or voice, but my understanding is that the data plan will still be at a high flat rate. Now if AT&T offered a pay-as-you-go service for both voice and data on the iPhone, I may be tempted.

Hence my decision to pick up a used 16gb iPod Touch. It does a lot of what I wanted an iPhone for (the great interface, Wi-fi) and it was relatively cheap and thinner. For the last couple of days, I've had a chance to use the Touch and it certainly hasn't been a disappointment. There are many companies and UI designers that could take a cue from Apple from designing and building elegant and intuitive user interfaces. I'm also amazed by how much on can do with a device that small.

Technical Specs: Canon 5D, 85L, f/3.2, 1/125s, ISO 1250.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

That Time of Year Again

I suppose there are man 'that time of year' events but this is one I've looking forward to since last year. Last night was one of the nights of this year's Summer Visitor Program at the Lick Observatory. We drove up to the observatory shortly before sunset and this year we came early enough to catch the first of the night's two talks in the dome housing the 36" refractor (pictured above). Unfortunately the air had so much ash from all of the forest fires in California that just before we were to take a look through the scopes the domes were closed. Ash is abrasive and too much of it building up can damage the optical surfaces of the scopes. Just when we arrived, we had a chance to look through the 40" reflector which was trained on Arcturus which was visible despite all the daylight. However with all the ash in the air there was a lot of scintillation and I doubt the views of the DSOs would have been very good anyway. Though we didn't see the DSOs through the big scopes, the talks were interesting and worth the trip. Next year I may consider volunteering to set up my scope in the back lot too.

Technical Specs: Canon 5D, 16-35 II @ 16mm, f/2.8, 1/50s, ISO 800.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

I Hate Popcorn Ceilings

This long weekend, rather grilling up some food, having a cool drink and relaxing in the warm sun, we are painting. In the 70s and 80s, builders would spray 'popcorn' on the ceilings of homes. They justified it to sellers by feeding them a line of bull about better sound insulation or better appearance. The real reason for the 'popcorn' it turns out is because its cheap and if a builder does have to pay some guy to texture and paint every ceiling, it can save them some serious money. The 'popcorn' unfortunately does nothing for sound insulation (though there might still be those today who claim it does) and it really is pretty darn ugly, especially as it gets dirty over time. To top it off in the early 70s builders also used asbestos in these ceilings making their removal now laborious. Thankfully, our home was built late enough in the 70s that there was no asbestos.

We initially hired a guy to scrape the popcorn from all the bedrooms and hallways and then eventually just decided to do it all. So now we have an entire house with bare ceilings that need paint. This weekend is the living rooms and master bedroom (these were first due to those fun vaulted ceilings that go up to about 18ft), followed by the rest of the house next weekend.

Painting the ceiling is hardwood, but at I least I didn't have to scrape that junk off. By the way if you are looking for a good contractor in the San Jose area to either remove popcorn or do drywall work, check out Drywall Excellence, drop me a line if you want contact information.

Technical Specs: Canon 5D, 15mm Fisheye, f/5.6, 1/160s, ISO 640.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Misty Mountains

Alaska really is beautiful and does deserve its reputation for breathtaking scenery. Yesterday we went on a bus tour into the interior of Denali National Park. Clouds made it difficult to see Mt. McKinley, but we did see lots of wildlife including: Caribou, Moose, Bears, Foxes and Arctic hares. Now we are sitting at the Anchorage airport watching the sun set and waiting for the 2am flight back.

Technical Specs: Canon 1D3, 70-200 f/2.8 IS + 1.4x TC @ 98mm, f/5.6, 1/4000s, ISO 400.