Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blackouts on Thursdays

Headed to Work
9:30 am, commuting to work. Looking like 5:30 am.

I thought it was bad coming home Wednesday. Thursday intruded on my consciousness at 6:40am with a bright flash and a loud thunderclap when a bolt of lightening hit near the house. I was awake instantly; that's what they must mean 'awake in a flash'. And so where all the little critters. Ruby was up on the bed staring at me, Max was down on the floor staring up at me, and Lucy leaped up onto my chest.

So I got up, put out the garbage and recyclables in the pouring rain, and then discovered that water was standing so deep in the back yard it was seeping into the back add-on and flooding the floor. Fortunately it's tiled in that area, so I grabbed towels (lots of towels) and sopped up the water and put 'em a big green carry-all tub to haul out to wash and dry them for a second round if needed. I left for work, my wife in charge of the critters and ready to sop up more water if the need arose.

Then I loaded up the commute-mobile and headed to the east side through the pouring rain.

Even though I didn't start out until 9am, it was still so dark that the highway lights were still lit on the way in.

Waiting To Turn

Rain everywhere, trickling off of everything, and dark all the way into work. It stayed dark and gloomy into the afternoon.

Headed Home

I left around 1pm, after a two hour dry run that started 15 minutes late because I showed up late. I'd been getting text messages from my wife, and when she told me more water was in the back room of the house, that's when I decided to head on home. On the drive home the day had brightened to a lighter shade of gloom, but it was still a constant pouring rain.

I stopped off by a Home Depot to pick up some silicon sealant. When I got home I finally went out back and figured out what to do to help drain the water away from the back of the house. We've been in that house since 1985, and the sand had shifted just enough to change how the water drained away from the house. A quick trenching at one spot with a shovel, and the standing water eventually disappeared. Later this weekend, when it stops raining, I have another honeydew task to make it a little cleaner.

For all the rain and wind, the downed limbs, and the bit of flooding in the back, we got off pretty easy compared to some. Over 20,000 people lost power in the area and are still without. A few tornadoes touched down, one near Tampa. Another home in College Park had a tree blown into there house on top of the master bedroom. And there were multitudinous wrecks on I-4, the 408, I-95, and numerous surface streets.

I. Care
I. Care

And I. Care, the house teddy, gives her silent approval. Our guardian teddy, along with Lucy the guard cat and Ruby the guard Lab, stand constant vigil over us all.

Technical

All shot with the Olympus E-1 and Sigma 30mm at ISO 100. All RAW. All post-processed (a little) in Lightroom 3.3. The last photo of I. Care photographed at f/1.4. Auto focus, in dim light, with the E-1. Did I mention how addictive that eight-year-old, 5MP so-called obsolete camera is? It may be just 5MP, but it's 5 awesome MP, each and every one. And that 30mm 1:1.4 acts as if it was made for the E-1. I couldn't ask for a better body and lens combination.

All hail the E-1!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Like a River

The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down

The skies turned black and the rain poured out of the heavens like it meant to wash me off the roadway. When the rain wasn't pouring, the wind was blowing my little Prius around like it was going to kick it into the guard rails. The weather was bad enough that saner drivers had pulled off underneath overpasses until the rain let up a bit. I just slowed down and kept rolling down the 408 until the weather cleared around I-4.

You see this kind of weather in Florida, but usually later in the year, especially when a tropical storm, or worse a hurricane, comes to visit. Whoever said March leaves like a lion must have lived in Florida.

Multiple Views

Sitting at the Universal-Turkey Lake intersection, waiting to stop over at Walmart to pick up something special for supper. Tonight is unofficial Mexican night, where I fix tacos with ground turkey. I needed a few extras to fill out all the fixins. After a big, wild rainstorm clears out the light gets unique, especially the afternoon light.

Firetruck Flashing Tail Light

When I got to Walmart an emergency had occurred, and they'd called in the closest EMT group to handle the situation. Lucky for me it included another firetruck, and a really nice one at that. The rain had let up, but there was still water everywhere, and there was that interesting after-the-storm light. And so I put the groceries in the boot, grabbed my camera, and took a few closeups around the firetruck.

Firetruck Hoses

Firetruck Siren

Orange County 1

Technical

Once again, everything taken using the Olympus E-1 with the Sigma 30mm, all at ISO 100. I have come to love that camera.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some Startups Should Be Avoided

A Series of Tubes
"A Series of Tubes"
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 12-60mm
1/160s, f/4.5, ISO 100, 60mm, -1 EV
[I wrote the original version of this post on 27 March with a different, more confrontational title. I then deleted the original on 29 March. This 2.0 version has had some of the rougher edges filed down. My reasons for doing this I keep to myself.]

There's a blog posting loose on the Internet titled "Why we don’t hire .NET programmers" by David Barrett, CEO of Expensify. David Barrett's posting is a classically trollish post illustrating several key flaws found in too many startup founders: a toxic mix of exaggerated self-importance and an unreasoning bias against Microsoft technologies.

David Barrett's exaggerated self-importance is quite evident if you look at his company's website. The company, Expensify, is dedicated to producing an expense reporting module for Salesforce and Google apps.

With all the money they've raised along with all the trash-talk about .Net programmers (and Microsoft in general) and the boasting about the staff, you'd think they were working on a truly hard problem such as practical parallelism or new and novel extensions to artificial intelligence, not a new way to do web-based expense reports for Salesforce.com.

Yes, a gilded web-based expense report. If you read the description of what the company's one and only product does, its first key capability is it "imports expenses and receipts straight from your credit card or bank account." While it appears they get it with regards to security (at least they have a web page covered with security totems) when accessing sensitive information, when you eliminate the human-in-the-loop you increase the chances for other classes of mistakes. Just because you can automate a process doesn't make it any more mistake proof than the process you've replaced.

The piece is larded with left-handed compliments towards Microsoft and .Net. On the one hand "it's dandy", but on the other hand "startups, by definition, need to think of things from new angles, and those angles typically don’t involve .NET." A position which he fails to prove either with solid facts or with his "simile", which, by the way, is actually a metaphor.

Startups should innovate on top of existing software tools irregardless of their provenance. Everything in the IT landscape should be grist for a startup's mill. .Net isn't a language, it's a broad umbrella covering Microsoft's collection of technologies that include languages (C# being the most prominent), underlying infrastructure (CLI/CLR), all the supporting libraries (which you can use or discard as needed), system plumbing, cloud connectivity, tools, and applications that run on top of it all. Startups should understand this, deconstruct it, and incorporate those elements that make sense into their creative plans. This incorporation and re-use is equally applicable to other software technologies, such as Java and Java Enterprise, C++ and the multitude of frameworks such as Qt, Ruby and Rails, Python and Django and Zope, etc, etc, etc. Whatever it takes to fulfill the mission.

Startups should tackle tough, seemingly impossible to solve problems, not pursue some trivial opportunistic angle a buzzword-compliant marketing droid could think up. The only bias a startup should have is against closed minds. Startups should be focused on their primary goal but be aware enough to avoid the technological cliff edges that dogmatic blindness can hide and be nimble enough to execute a course change when change is called for. I see none of this in Expensify, either by reading the CEO's posting or by looking at the Expensify website.

This is neither a company I would want to work for nor is it a company I would recommend to others.

Update 28 March

An amazingly eloquent and humorous refutation: "Why I Don’t Hang Out With People Named David". How I so wish I could write like that.

Update #2, 28 March

An articulate and well-written post that explains what the real problem may be with people who select .Net. I don't agree with what he says, but the presentation is professional and far less confrontational than Barrett's. "Corporate stereotypes, and why Microsoft could kill your startup career" is a thought-provoking piece written by Matt Swanson, who understands how to professionally present his arguments. Swanson is CTO of SpeakerText, what looks to be a pretty interesting startup.

On Tuesday

Early Morning Ride

The day before had been long, dark, rainy, dreary. Depressing. This morning, the clouds were riding low and fast, skirting over the highway, given birth by all the moisture dumped the day before. The sun kept breaking through in odd little places.

The problem riding eastward into work in the morning is you get the full effect of the sun in your eyes unless it's overcast. This in-and-out hiding is probably worse than full sun. Clouds cover the sun and the daylight dims down to a comfortable level. Then the sun quickly uncovers and you're staring right back into full sunlight. Gives the old irises a real workout.

Preferred Parking

Pull into work and pull into one of the hybrid vehicle preferred parking spots. Unless you get there reasonably early, most (if not all) of the slots are taken by tattered little student-mobiles; we have a population of interns from nearby U.C.F.

Fenced In

Behind the eight-foot steel perimeter fence surrounding the building and through those windows sits one of my office cubes.

Watching for Vehicles

What the typical student pedestrian faces when trying to cross Alafaya to U.C.F. Six lanes of swirling traffic. And a timer with a short cycle. Blood sport at its finest.

Mass Traffic

More of the same, except this time at a major intersection at the entrance to the university. I'm on the way back to my primary office and a quick lunch.

Ugly Lunch

Nasty but good. Fries are just a convenient way to eat ketchup anyway.

Technical

Everything taken with the Olympus E-1 and the Sigma 30mm at ISO 100 except for the last photo, which was taken with my cell phone. Same resolution as my E-1, even same ISO, but a world of difference IQ-wise. Yet, as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

Brooding
Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothing to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down
Drive By
What I've got they used to call the blues
Nothin' is really wrong
Feelin' like I don't belong
Walkin' around
Some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

Lyrics: Carpenters' Rainy Days and Mondays

Technical

Taken with the Olympus E-1, Sigma 30mm, ISO 100. Nice handy combination. The Sigma works better on the E-1 than the E-3. Go figure.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pleasant Valley Sunday

Airship 1
"Airship"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100

I don't know why I picked this title. There are no valleys to speak of in Florida, and I left the Monkees behind a long, long time ago. And charcoal? I haven't burned charcoal for 15 years; I'm a propane kinda guy. Anyway...

This was a weekend full of weekend work. Which meant I grabbed whatever opportunities that presented themselves. The MetLife photo op came about mid-day Saturday while I was out getting a quick lunch with my wife. I happened to look up and there she sat (the blimp, not my wife), in a section of the sky that was nicely clouded, and reasonably clear in spite of the haze. Why was the blimp flying over my neighborhood? Because the Arnold Palmer Golf Invitational is being held across the road in Bay Hill. No, I wasn't there and won't go there. For the record, I hate golf.

Test Shot - Wind Vane
"Test Shot - Wind Vane:
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5
1/1000s, f/8, ISO 100

Late Sunday morning, I'm out again, this time trying to pick up some Einstein bagels at the Marketplace. I waited too late in the morning to snag a baker's dozen. The place was packed out the front door with golfing fans here to see Arnold Palmer invitational, and they were all there, dressed out in their golfing attire, to pick up a bagel or two before the next round started later in the day.

The car was parked in front of the clock tower, on which sits the wind vane. I wanted a test shot of the wind vane to see how clear and detailed a photo the E-1 and OM 300mm could produce. From the looks of things, it's pretty sharp and detailed.

Test Shot - Lakeside with Brush
"Test Shot - Lakeside with Brush"
Olympus E-3 withZuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5
1/320s, f/8, ISO 100


A few hours later and the wife and I took both Labs out to Dr. P. Phillips community park, and their little dog park-within-the-park. When we first arrived, we were the only group in the large dog section, and we spent 45 minutes by ourselves before the next group showed up. Unfortunately, the new group and our Labs got a little too rambunctious, so we put them back on their leads and headed home. The Labs were quite happy, as only Labs can be.

I had both cameras with me, the E-1 with the OM 300mm and the E-3 with the 50-200mm. I'd left them in the car when we took the dogs in, because managing the labs off-lead leaves no time for photography. After leaving the dog park, it was a different situation all together.

My wife and both Labs piled into the Prius and sat there with the air conditioner running while I grabbed both cameras and headed down to the lake to grab some more test shots. I'm still trying to get completely comfortable using the OM 300mm.

The park is next to a protected wetlands area. The way we handle wetlands here in Florida is to build right up next to them, then leave little bits 'natural'. That's exactly what we did here. There's the park and Sand Lake Elementary school, butting up to fragmented wooded area. The rest Big Sand Lake's shores is developments, housing tracts and condominiums.

Test Shot - Lakeside with Grass 2
"Test Shot - Lakeside with Grass"
Olympus E-3 withZuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5
1/500s, f/8, ISO 100

While at the park I decided to swap the lenses on the bodies; the E-3 got the OM 300mm and the E-1 got the 50-200mm zoom. I discovered it's easier to manually focus the 300mm, while the E-1 has a hard time autofocusing the 50-200mm. For the rest of the day the 300mm was on the E-3

Protected Wetlands
"Protected Wetlands"
Olympus E-3 withZuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5
1/500s, f/8, ISO 100

One of the few signs near the lake indicating the status of the wetlands. At least it seems to keep man and dog away from that part of the Big Sand Lake shore. Both my labs always want to hit the lake when they come to visit. After all, they're water dogs.

WillCall
"Will Call"
Olympus E-3 withZuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5
1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 100

The day comes to and end. One more trip, this time to a local Publix for the weekly grocery run. Everywhere I look I see temporary make-shift parking lots for the golf tournament tourists,  and signs like the one above scattered about the area. These lots and will-call areas are spread from the intersection of Apopka/Vineland and Conroy Windermere to Wallace Road, then down Wallace to Universal Studios.

The sign photo above was taken towards late afternoon, hand-held. The shutter speed had dropped well below the 'safe' shutter speed needed for 300mm hand held (the reciprocal of the 300mm focal length), and it shows as a slight blur due to camera shake if you pixel peep.

Technical

I've picked up a few new tips using the 300mm. The first is that it's effective focal length is really 600mm. Hand holding either body with the 300mm means picking a shutter speed around 1/500s or faster.

Although I like the 300mm on the E-1, it looks to function better on the E-3. The E-3 has the better viewfinder over the E-1. The E-3's finder is larger and brighter.

The E-1 handles just about every autofocus lens I've mounted on it equally as the E-3, with one notable exception, and that's the 50-200mm lens. Even in bright daylight the 50-200mm hunted like crazy, even at noon in bright sunlight.

I think it's time to put the 300mm aside for a while, and go back to using my regular lenses.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Used is the New New

Making a measurement
"Making a measurement"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko OM 300mm
1./500s, f/5.6, ISO 100

I have, over the last five years, purchased five Olympus E-series bodies in the following order: E-300 (early 2006), E-3 (late 2008), E-P2 (early 2010), and two E-1s (2011). I gave the first E-1 I purchased to my youngest daughter, to supplement the E-300 I had bequeathed her when I purchased the E-P2. The second one, which came in mint condition with the HLD-2 grip, I kept for myself

I purchased all but the two E-1s as new. The two E-1's came to me used. The first E-1 came from KEH, while the second I won in a bid on e-bay. What is remarkable about both are the prices. The KEH copy was $250, while the ebay copy with grip was $200.

Along with all those bodies I have a few FourThird mount lenses, all of them purchased new as well. I have exactly two µFourThirds lenses, the original kit lens that came with the E-P2 and the M.Zuiko 17mm pancake. Every other lens is used via adapters.

Ugly Road
"Ugly Road"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko OM 300mm
1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 100

After spending a fair sum of money on all-new equipment, I looked at what was happening and started to balk at how much I'd truly spent. Photography is more a passion for me than a profession (although I use photography as a tool for documenting some of my work). It looked like my passion was beginning to cost a lot more than it should have.

That's when I discovered the practical joy of older, used film lenses, and in the process I discovered another joy, the joy of not having to plump up large sums of cash for capabilities that would have cost a pretty penny with the newer digital lenses.

E-1 glamor shot #3
The second E-1 w/HLD-2 won on e-bay.
Along with the appreciation of used lenses, I developed an (almost irrational) interest in the E-1, the first FourThirds body that Olympus released. When it was introduced in 2003 it cost a cool $1,700. Back in 2003 my oldest was a senior in high school, and we were preparing financially to send her off to an in-state college. Mom would not have appreciated me dropping $1,700 on a camera body, let alone the hundreds (and in some cases, thousands) of dollars for additional lenses and peripherals, such as the HLD-2 vertical grip.

Instead, what I got that year was a small Canon PowerShot A300. Even though it was a point-and-shoot, it was more than enough for me to get my feet wet in digital photography. Up to that point I was film only, with an aging Nikon N90.

That little Canon was surprisingly sophisticated, and for what I was capable of producing at the time, it amply satisfied my needs. And my wife, wise woman that she is, probably knew that the Canon was the better way to get introduced to digital photography without putting a crater in the family finances.

The A300 was a good camera, producing thousands of photographs, and was used by all members of the family (including both girls) up until 2006, when I purchased the E-300 (in a two-lens kit, and heavily discounted). The rest, as they say, is history.

I will write about my experiences with the E-1 in a later post, but for now, continuing with the lenses...

One used lens in particular that caught my eye was the Olympus Zuiko AUTO-T 300mm f/4.5 telephoto lens. This lens was for sale from a fellow Olympus photographer who decided to sell her copy through a forum we both frequent. Not only did I want a 300mm, but I wanted this one because of the very low price relative to a new Olympus Zuiko Digital 300mm, which currently goes for $6,500. If I were a working pro, I could probably justify owning such a lens. But as a regular working stiff, I can't justify spending the same amount of money on a lens I spent re-roofing my house. And so I turn to the used market, looking for inexpensive, used, forgotten treasures that are still quite good if used properly.

Flowers 1
Flowers 1
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko OM 300mm
1.500s, f/5.6, ISO 100

When the 300mm arrived, I immediately mounted it on the E-1 body (with an MF-1 adapter) and started taking photographs out in the back yard. The photo below was one of the first I took. It won't win any awards, but it certainly delivers what I want, and on what many dismissively consider an inferior camera, the E-1. To my unsophisticated eyes the E-1 with the OM 300mm is a potent photographic combination, producing remarkably good results. And the combination just feels right in my hands.

Backlit Orchid Tree Bloom
"Backlit Orchid Tree Bloom
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko OM 300mm
1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 100

I'd like to take a moment to say thank-you to my wife. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have the camera gear I currently have. She's my biggest fan and supporter.

Thank you Judy for this, and so much more.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Driving 55 in 2011

Driving
Thirty minute consumption chart

Remember Sammy Hagar's "I Can't Drive 55?" Released in 1984, it became the unofficial anthem for the SUV generation that came to power during the Regan presidency. We'd been driving 55 since the Oil Embargo of 1973 and President Nixon's subsequent signing into law the National Maximum Speed Law on January 2, 1974. The NMSP was finally repealed during the Clinton Administration on December 8, 1995.

While all the states accepted the law in order to continue to receive federal highway funds, no-one liked the law, and enforcement was generally lax unless you were really, really over the speed limit. As an example, I was still single and living in Atlanta in 1980. In January of that year I'd just heard back from Digital Communication's Associates HR that I'd been hired. It was an engineering job I really wanted, at a company I really wanted to work for.

I was ecstatic, and so I went roaring out of my apartment parking lot in my little silver Honda Civic to go celebrate the good news with my girlfriend and future wife. No sooner had I turned onto I-285 west from I-85 south than I was picked up by a Georgia State Patrol car, who was conveniently sitting just over a hill and under an overpass. I got a ticket for 75, or 20 over the speed limit. And the only reason he got me going 75 was because I had to slow down from 90 to safely take the exit off of I-85 south. Anyway...

That photo is of the Consumption screen on my 2009 Prius, a hybrid that now has a bit over 40,000 miles on it. The last four columns on the screen, representing the last 20 minutes of driving, were generated while driving on the 408 on the way to work. I'd just turned off of Challenger Parkway and was headed north on Alafaya when I took this photo. I'd been driving 55 just about the whole way, due to the posting as well as the ongoing construction around the 417 intersection. My gas mileage was nearly 75mpg for most of the time on the 408 while traveling at 55 mph.

Driving the Prius is a bit like playing a video game, where you're trying to get the highest score; in this instance, the greatest miles/gallon. There's a certain satisfaction to be had in boosting the mpg numbers without going to crazy extremes. It's a shame all cars don't have something like the Prius' consumption graphic built in; positive reinforcement such as this will always gain greater results than any edict from the government.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

MetLife Blimp Returns

The MetLife blimp returned to Orlando this week to be a part of the Arnold Palmer 2011 Invitational  being held at Bay Hill (right across Apopka/Vineland from Sandlake Hills, where I live). While I have absolutely no use for golf, I was certainly happy to see the MetLife blimp return.

MetLife Riding High
MetLife Blimp, March 2011
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm
1/1000s, f/5, ISO 100, 83mm, manual

MetLife Blimp Mooring Shot (11/365)
MetLife Blinp, January 2011

I wrote about the MetLife blimp last January. As you can see from the second photo, the little MetLife had a complete livery change, up in Tennessee. While I will miss Flying Snoopy, I certainly think the new livery is better, certainly brighter and more cheerful. With white being the predominant color, it will certainly stand out while in flight.

I'm curious about the flight characteristics of the blimp now that the sides are mostly white, instead of mostly dark blue. White absorbs far less heat than dark blue. Will it take more helium to achieve the same buoyancy? And if there's more helium in the blimp, will it handle any differently? These are questions that came to mind after I left.

MetLife Nose Detail
MetLife Blimp Nose Detail
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 123mm, manual


MetLife Port Head-on
MetLife Port View, Head-on
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-200mm
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 50mm, manual

MetLife Starboard Rear
MetLife Blimp, Starboard Rear
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/1000s, f/5, ISO 100, manual

MetLife Tail Detail
MetLife Blimp, Tail Detail
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/1250s, f/5.6, ISO 100


MetLife Gondola Detail
MetLife Blimp Gondola Detail
Olympus E-3 with Zuiko Digital 50-2000mm
1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 158mm

MetLife Head-on
MetLife Blimp, Head-on
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, manual


MetLife Helium Stores
MetLife Blimp Helium Stores
Olympus E-1 with Sigma 30mm
1/4000s, f/2.5, ISO 100

I didn't meet Airship Bill this time. There were two different pilots this time. One of the ground crew told me that they were flying tomorrow over the golf game, along with a video camera operator. Since I live on the west side, and work on the east side, I doubt I'll see it in flight.

But maybe, if I drive by early enough in tomorrow morning, I'll get to see it lift off.

Technical

The photos were taken with two cameras, an E-3 with the 50-200mm and the E-1 with the Sigma 30mm. When I post-processed the E-1 images, I was surprised at the rich colors produced by the E-1, colors that seemed richer without any post-processing than those produced by the E-3. The E-3 turned in a stellar performance, but the E-1, under the same lighting and the same subject, was just a little bit better. Nearly everything was taken with both cameras in manual mode, except for gondola and helium bottle photos. The helium bottles were taken with the E-1 in aperture priority, and the 30mm was opened up as far as possible until the shutter speed hit 1/4000s, the E-1's maximum. I wanted the background as much out of focus as possible.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Barely Out of Tuesday

Change
"Change"
HTC myTouch 4g
3.5mm, ISO 88

Yes, I know what I said on Monday. So I put the cameras aside (mostly) and stayed away from blogging (mostly). But life never stops until you're dead. And then, only for you.

I drove my wife to an outpatient facility so that they could look down her throat and check for acid reflux damage. My wife's condition has required the use of certain drugs for over 20 years, and one of the side effects has been an effect on the tissues lining the esophagus. While they didn't find anything, they implied enough to scare us both, so this trip was a necessary preventative measure.

I drove her up, waited for her, and then drove her home. On the way home we stopped at an Einstein's at Orange and Michigan, where we each picked up a bagel breakfast sandwich. Afterwards she grabbed a chocolate mud cookie, and left me change from a five on the table.

It's funny where the mind wonders sometimes. I started thinking about how we were going to feed nine billion people in 2050. The report underlines that our current food production is failing; each day, there are six million more mouths to feed; the global population is seven billion and rising; one billion go to bed hungry, another one billion are malnourished. And here I sit eating more calories and nutrition in one meal than over two billion will see in all of today. But I'm like everybody else; blog about it, link to it, show some token concern, and then forget about it. After all, I'm satisfied.

Another time
"Another time"
Olympus E-1 with Zuiko Digital 12-60mm
1/800s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 12mm

After Einstein's, and on the way home, I passed this closed Sunoco station. The gas prices on the sign are $3.69/gallon regular. We haven't seen prices that high since early 2008, which gives some idea when this station closed. Funny thing is, there was a station still open across the street selling regular for $3.47/gallon.

Lulu in her spot

Lucy on guard duty

Tucked in for a nap


It's been a while since I photographed the cats. After my 'run-in' with Smokey I thought I'd spend a bit of time with them and take their photos. Two of the three were 'willing' subjects. The third was too busy napping.

I wonder, as the cost of food rises, how long we'll have the luxury of pets. How can you justify feeding pets when you can't feed people?

Technical

The first photo was taken with my HTC myTouch 4G build-in camera. I have yet to fully adjust the device to produce acceptable (to me) photographs. At five mega-pixels, it matches the resolution of my eight-year-old E-1. But the image quality of the myTouch doesn't even come close to the E-1. And that's what the rest of these photos were taken with.

The Sunoco photo was taken with the 12-60mm. It was post-processed in Lightroom 3.3, using the Color Creative - Yesteryear 2 preset. I then set yellow and blue saturation to 50.

The first cat photo was processed with B&W Creative - Antique Light, and black clipping was raised to 15. The second cat photo was imported, auto toned, and then exported. The third cat photo was processed like the first.

The camera used in the last three was the E-1. The lens was my OM 50mm 1:1.4. The first and third photos were using the 50mm at f/1.4, while the middle was stopped down to f/2.

I can't remember where I read it (I think it was Kirk Tuck's blog, but I can't find it), but why does it have to be sharp? Today was all about being not-sharp, even in those sections that were trying to be sharp. Let's not be blind slaves to technique.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Time off

Stormy StopJust a head's up to everybody. I'll be off-line for the next week at a minimum. I've been churning these posts out at least one/day, sometimes two or more/day, since before the first of January.

Other Life Issues (OLI) need to be addressed, and I need to take a breather and recharge a bit. I won't be posting for at least a week, unless some wild and crazy event occurs that compels me to write Something Witty and Insightful (SWI).

Whatever.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Schadenfreude

Another store closuer

While traveling around the Mall of Millenia today, I cam across yet another store closing, this time a Robb & Stucky. They're an expensive furniture store that cater to the hoity-toity living in their decreasingly valuable Mac Mansions scattered about west Orange County. Like Border's, Rob & Stucky declared Chapter 11 back in February, and so they're in the process of dismantling what they can to save whatever is left. Good luck with that. Unlike Border's, they won't be missed.

Lunch

The wife and I were bad. We had lunch at Tutti Frutti, right next to Macy's in the main part of Millenia. Once again we used a Groupon to cut our cost just about in half. I filled my cup up with a swirl of vanilla and chocolate-by-death, then loaded it with pineapple slices and strawberries. You know, for the health part. And, truth be known, it is yogurt, so it wasn't that outrageously bad. But it sure tasted good enough to be bad.

I do hope Tutti Frutti is around for a while. In case you hadn't noticed, there was another sign from another company on the wall before Tutti Frutti showed up.

Ingenious they're not

And right next to Tutti Fruity is a company that can't spell "ingenious". They're ingenus, a pharmaceutical company right on Millenia Blvd. According to their web sight, they want to be "recognized as the most innovative and sought after company in the generic pharmaceutical industry." And their website is larded up with all sorts of stock pharma and rich-old-respectable-CEO-style photography, the kind you'd expect from a business running on a thin edge of solvency that's desperate to make you think they're Respectable. I'm not so sure I'd want to buy generic drugs from a company that can't spell "ingenious", but then what do I know? They just strike me as being very similar to the many companies that died during the Dot-Bomb fiasco of 2000.

We can be so cruel

Smokey reaches out
Smokey reaches out to my wife for comfort.

This story started yesterday when my wife and a young nursing student, who's been helping my wife around our house, went to rescue a seven month old mixed Siamese cat named Snowflake. The nursing student saw the cat being tossed from a second story apartment where she lived. She came rushing over to our house to tell my wife about it. My wife knew were there was a local SPCA shelter, across from the Mall at Millenea, and so the two of them went back and found Snowflake, alive and fortunately unharmed, and took Snowflake to the shelter.

I got a complete blow-by-blow when my wife got back. I wanted to write about Snowflake's plight, and asked if I could go take a few photos of Snowflake at the SPCA shelter. Unfortunately it was too late in the day for that, so I made plans to go there today and check up on Snowflake.

Snowflake's story turned out to have a happy ending; when we got there around noon and asked to see Snowflake, we found out that Snowflake had been adopted soon after Snowflake had been dropped off Saturday. In the meantime, while we were looking for Snowflake at the SPCA, we came across the room where other orphaned cats were being kept, and a particular cat named Smokey.

I don't know why Smokey was there, but Smokey really wanted to be with somebody. According to Smokey's card on her cage, she was a six month old cat who was listed as a sweet lap cat. And I could tell from the way Smokey reached out to us through the bars, without extending her claws. I hope she hadn't been declawed, but it looked like she hadn't. It was just that Smokey really wanted to be touched and to touch back.

Smokey wants out.

Sweet lapcat

If I'd had the strength of my convictions I'd have adopted Smokey right there. But I rationalized not adopting Smokey by noting our household already has three cats (all of them adopted) as well as two Labs (one of them adopted). Instead, I turned around and walked away. I further rationalized my decision to leave Smokey behind by noting a large family coming in to look at cats for possible adoption.

I'm going back Monday to check on Smokey. I hope she finds a home before I get there, as I don't know what I'm going to do if she's still there. I hope my wife is forgiving...

Update 21 March

My wife and daughter went by the SPCA to check on Smokey. She was still there, but was being prepared to go home with another person; someone had decided to adopt her after we left yesterday. Which, in the grand scheme of things, is good all around.

Smokey gets a new home, and I don't have to worry how to integrate a fourth cat into a home with three cats and two Labs. I think Lucy would have been the most impacted by Smokey's presence; Lucy's really attached herself to me, and she is a one-to-one type of cat.

But I'm still going to miss Smokey.