Monthly Archive: January 2009

OMG! I better watch what I say now or people realize I have no idea what I’m talking about

It’s kind of strange – if you add in the “lost posts” from the first version of this blog, where what turns out to have been a stupid mistake on my part cost me a couple years’ worth of posts, I’ve been writing for a while without any real expectation that anyone reads anything I write.  That’s probably why I let myself get away with sentences as long and as poorly formed as the one I just wrote.  

However, I have found out recently that a few friends actually subscribe to my blog, one friend got mad at me because I didn’t tell her I had one, a former colleague commented on a post out of the blue, and a few other people I know here and there have apparently read a few posts now and then.  Also, since I review my classes at the my business school here on my blog, people at the school whom I have never even met know me from those posts.  Very, very scary indeed.  I am actually accountable somewhat for what I say.  

Debbie Schinker, who has her own blog that is quite good, as well, has been kind enough to read some of my recent writings, and has commented here and there.  One comment in particular actually made me want to write another whole post in response.  That’s one heckuva comment.  

That’s coming up next.

tree tones

tree tones

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

This was taken, I believe, in Calero County Park in San Jose. I enjoy hiking, though I don’t do it as often as I’d like, and bring a camera along to grab photos of whatever I happen upon along the way. I try really hard to challenge myself and find photos, rather than just waiting for them to find me. I also look at what might be an everyday scene or subject and try to make it stand out and end up interesting.

This is a decent approach to life, too, I might add :-). I try to do that, too – see beyond the first layer, I guess. Not sure I do a great job with it.

Anyway – what I did here was to try and make the moss and texture of the tree stand out by setting the camera up to blur out the background. I didn’t want to blur it out completely (actually, it would have been almost impossible to do that without then blurring out part of the tree), but I think it makes the tree stand out even though the tones, overall, are really similar.

Another thing I do is to try and work entirely “in-camera.” That is, I don’t take a really wide shot and then crop down, for instance. I look through the viewfinder, look at the corners, change my angles, etc, to get the shot framed the way I want. Not only is that less work for me in the end, but it feels more natural that way, to be honest. Maybe I’m being snobbish against those that do a lot of cropping and post processing. I hope not.

On the technical side, this is also one of my attempts at finding a “holy grail” of film and developers. I am trying to find one that gives really good sharpness without too much grain. This developer is one that normally really, really decreases grain, but at the expense of sharpness. By diluting it to one part developer and 3 parts water, I decrease the overall amount of “grain solvent” present and increase sharpness. I’m hoping it’s a good compromise. I made a few mistakes on the exposure side of things but we’ll see how it goes on my next try.

Newsflash: Stating the Obvious (Maybe I shouldn’t read MarketWatch)

This year is ‘a bad time to buy a home,’ analyst warns – MarketWatch

This article states so many obvious items that I wonder if I should still read MarketWatch. 

  1. If you lose your job, it might not be a good time to get a house.
  2. If you have a bad credit score, this is not a good time to get a house or you may have trouble getting one of these great, low-interest mortgages (which you probably won’t be able to get even with a good score since banks are still too scared to lend)
  3. If you aren’t planning on staying in a house for 5-7 years, it’s not a good time to buy a house.  Because people are really thinking this is the right environment to be flipping houses.  Right…

The part on unemployment is good.  Talking about issues around unemployment is almost always good – very important, and people need to see past just the number of people without jobs and towards the impact that stat has on the overall GDP and economy.  But the housing stuff is just weird.

Obama on long-term economic plans

Stimulus must build stronger nation, Obama says – MarketWatch

“I have confidence that not only are we going to be able to create jobs, but we’re also going to be making a down payment on some critical areas that, as the economy recovers and the private sector starts investing again, we’re going to see some long-term benefits and long- term savings,” Obama said at a press conference in Washington.

Obviously I don’t have the full text of the speech, and I am acknowledging that any news source is just one source, written a specific way.  But…on the one hand, I’m really glad to see intelligent, long-term thinking applied to this topic.  We must plan ahead.  We must lay down the groundwork for the future so that we will avoid this.  We must rethink what we are doing now.  Yes, we need to think this way.  I completely agree.

On the other, it’s kind of sad that a speech has to be made saying that a $775 billion plan needs to be more than a quick fix.  I know this is a big problem and any dollar amount should be more than a quick fix.  But as was mentioned in both my marketing and econ classes last night, a big part of stimulus is getting cash in the hands of people.  Cash in the hand is easy to understand.  Cutting interest rates as a way of reducing the cost of capital and therefore improving the liquidity status (essentially) or ability of individuals is a bit harder to understand…which means that talk about long-term needs to be done very delicately.  So far, the quoted items make it sound like Obama did a good job.

Anyway.  Random thought.

Different perspectives, same power to the message

Crip Chronicles: I Guess I’ve Been Holding My Breath…

I only today found out that one of my former colleagues at Stanford had a blog of her own.  I’ve always known her to be intelligent and witty and funny and a lot of other great things, and she is one of the people whom I always intend (but often fail) to find when I visit campus.  Every single conversation I have ever had with her has been a good one.  I am honestly pondering how accurate of a comment that is right now and stand by it.

So, it is entirely hilarious and appropriate that her blog is titled the “Crip Chronicles.” 

And it is not at all surprising that I am honestly, truly moved by what she writes in the linked post.

open land

open land

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

This is the view from the back porch of the apartment where my wife stays in Paso Robles, while she is there working at a local hospital as a nurse. I personally wanted to go trekking around all the land there, but everything belongs to someone and everyone owns guns so I figured I shouldn’t do that. But this, from a back porch, is astounding. I could not get over it.

I wanted a better view of the sunlight as it set on that vineyard that is dead center but all of the roads are much lower than the actual cultivated land so I couldn’t get up there. But it’s still beautiful.

3 stop graduated ND filter plus a polarizer. Allowed the foreground to come out with good detail while making the sky nice and controlled.

The truly amazing thing is that, again, this is from her patio.  This incredible view, right there.  And at night, I can see more stars than I did while I was in Death Valley.  I could almost make out the entire Big Dipper and could find the North Star almost immediately.

On the way to work – the “killer” GPS mount

I am a big proponent of not just GPS, but add-on systems rather than built-in ones.  They are simply far more affordable.

Anyway, California law says these cannot be mounted on the windshield (did you know that?  I didn’t for about a year of use!).  So all kinds of other mounts are used.  I personally use a vent mount, which goes through an A/C vent.  Works great.

There is one type of mount that scares me – it’s a “bean bag dashboard mount.”  This is basically a really heavy (I think I’ve seen 25-30 pounds specified..?) pedestal that sits on your dashboard onto which you then use your normal suction-cup mount for the GPS.  Now, it claims to have a nice “non-skid” surface on the bottom, but it is not otherwise adhered to the dash.  Which means that is could just go flying with enough G-forces.  30 pounds flying through the air in any direction is scary as heck.

Anyway, I saw one on the way to work today…

New Year’s Resolution – simple, and hopefully doable

Every year, I either make resolutions that I will never keep over the term of the year, ranging from the usual “I will lose X pounds” (only ever kept 1 year, really) to something more esoteric and/or personal.

I think I can manage this one, though, which took until this morning to really figure out.

I am going to say “hello” more often.

That’s it. Plain and simple. I walk by people everyday and just am not friendly enough. Sometimes I have reasons – stuff on my mind, I’m just cold, whatever. But this is too small a community at work and I need to make more connections.

So I’ve developed a policy:

  • If I’m sure I don’t know the person:  smile and say hello if eye contact is made
  • If I am not sure if I know the person:  say hello
  • If I think I know the person:  say hello with some energy and enthusiasm
  • If I know the person:  say hello and make sure to ask how they are doing.  

Obviously I don’t literally mean just “hello.”  It covers all kinds of greetings.  But the point is that I need to be more friendly at first meeting.

a walk along the beach

a walk along the beach

Originally uploaded by kaiyen

From just after Christmas through New Years, my wife and I were down around Paso Robles, in the Central Coast area of California (Paso’s not really on the coast, but that whole area is called that). This area includes Paso, San Miguel, Templeton, Atascadero, and San Luis Obispo. It also extends southward towards Pismo Beach, and north towards Cambria (by Hearst Castle). I think that covers it for the most part.

My wife works down in Templeton as a nurse. It’s about 2.5 hours south of our home in Santa Clara. It’s tough having her away 3-4 days a week but the job market is how it is for new nursing graduates and this is a good, growing hospital that will get her the experience she needs.

So, technically she was down there for work and I was visiting, but there was a gap during which we were able to drive around and explore that area a bit. We went to SLO, Pismo, Cambria, Morro Bay and up to Hearst Castle as well.

This particular photo is of the pier at Pismo Beach at sunset. It’s geo-tagged so you can see where it is if you go to flickr and look at the map. My wife and I actually stayed just up the beach a few years ago so it was nice to see it again.

Also of note is that this photo was taken with a Panasonic TZ3, a super-zoom compact camera. So I carry around all these big DSLR cameras and expensive lenses and my wife was using this tiny compact camera. The camera does a great job with metering and has great color rendition. It did a great job with the sunset.