Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving started with a walk on the beach. Since Dan & Peter decided on an evening meal and the day was beautiful, sunny, and warm, I drove up to Black's Beach shortly after noon to get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. I had borrowed a camera from work, a Nikon D200, and an external flash to take to the party, but I debated about taking it to the beach. It was big and heavy and I've taken lots of pictures at Blacks before, so I decided to enjoy the experience directly, not through a camera lens, and left it at home. And wouldn't you know, it was the clearest I had ever seen it. From the top of the cliff I could see what I'm pretty sure was Catalina Island, about 26 miles away. There was no haziness in the air at all.

I went down the cliff by the glider port and walked north toward Torrey Pines, taking off my sandals and enjoying the sand and splashing in the surf a little bit. It was a perfect day, warm without being hot, the water was cool without being cold and the clearest I've seen it. I went up to, and on to, the big square rock that separates Blacks from Torrey Pines Beach. On the way back, while walking past some clumps of seaweed, I almost tripped over this big, gorgeous lizard about 2 feet long. And me without a camera!

Dinner at Dan & Peter's was wonderful. They love to cook Thanksgiving Dinner and they're very organized. Their kitchen is nice if not large, but they had everything under control and clean the entire time. The food was fabulous and the company couldn't have been better.

I'm a little slow in posting the pictures because I took them to work and used the Nik Software to tweak them a bit. Even though I had a nice camera and flash unit, it's hard to light a picture well without some expensive equipment, but the Nik Software and Photoshop let me put the light on the main subject and allowed me to take attention away from background objects. I have a lot to learn, but it's fun to play.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Quote of the Day

I saw this quote in the news about Switzerland’s recent referendum to ban the building of any more minarets (the tall spire above a Mosque):

“...the Organisation of the Islamic Conference called the vote a “recent example of growing anti-Islamic incitements in Europe by extremist, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist, scare-mongering ultraright politicians who reign over common sense, wisdom and universal values.” ’

If you replace the word “Europe” with “the United States” you could replace “Islamic” with any number of things. I'm taking small comfort that we’re not the only ones with ultraright politicians reigning terror over common sense, wisdom, and universal values. I wish we could figure out why so many have turned away from logic and submitted to their basest fears. There's no reasoning with them; it's an emotional response, but I can't figure out what it’s in response to.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Nik Software

Wednesday, November 11th I started working for Nik Software. They create software that help adjust the color and lighting of digital photographs. Besides creating plug-ins that work with PhotoShop, Lightroom, and Aperture, they also wrote Capture NX2 for Nikon. It's a small company with about 25 people here in San Diego and about the same number in Germany. My duties are similar to what I was doing for the architecture firm; directing phone calls and visitors and assisting the HR Director.

It's a fun, creative group to work with. Besides the professional photographers that work with the company and promote the software, many of the staff are accomplished photographers. They have employee photography contests several times a year. Although I found it ironic that at the Casino Night this past Friday, in a roomful of high-powered photographers, everyone pulled out their iPhones, camera phones, and little point-and-shoot cameras to take snapshots
One of the perks of having a relationship with Nikon is having a whole bunch of Nikon cameras and lenses that we can check out and use. So yesterday I checked out a Nikon D200 which is a really nice camera with more on it than I'm used to, but one of the guys helped show me how it works and gave me a few pointers. I also borrowed a nice flash unit and spent much of the afternoon trying it out. For the shot above, Raymond, our warehouse guy who ships out our stuff, kindly posed in the lobby.

The picture, below, of Mission Valley was taken from a spot just up the road from our office. You'll notice the trees are a very pretty yellow proving that we do indeed have fall color here in San Diego. And if you think that's pretty weak for fall color, just keep in mind that it's late November, 75 degrees, with lots of warm sunshine and perfect for driving with the top down in a t-shirt.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last Day at Life Technologies

l to r: David, Lee, Robin, Madhavi, Megan, Kimberly, Kim

With joy and sadness and gratitude I bid farewell to an amazing group of co-workers today. I started there in mid-April. And even though it's only been 7 months it seems, in a good way, much longer. While I've learned a lot about Excel and Access and data management, I've learned much more how bright, talented people get the job done with determination and a sense of humor. Even though I'm not a data guy, they were patient when I needed it and willing to listen to my suggestions when I had something to offer.

Thank you all very much. You've made leaving quite difficult, which is a good thing.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Smart or Wise?

A recent comment on facebook got me thinking about the difference between intelligence and wisdom. Here’s what I have so far:

- Doing what can be done.
- Doing what should be done.

- Having an informed opinion.
- Appreciating someone else’s point-of-view.

- Knowing what answers to give.
- Knowing what questions to ask.

- Pointing out what needs fixing.
- Suggesting good ways to fix it.
- Realizing that the only direction you can truly point your finger is into the mirror.

- Thinking wise thoughts.
- Taking wise actions.


- Being right.
- Being happy.

(The Car Talk guys frequently mention that in relationships, you can either be right or you can be happy.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Palm Springs 10-10-09

Saturday morning I spent getting cameras and clothes and water and snacks and the car ready for a drive to Palm Springs and hiking in Mt. San Jacinto State Park at the top of the Palm Springs Tramway. I meant to get an early start, but it’s so hard to rush a Saturday morning after rushing every morning all week.
I took the scenic route over the mountains to enjoy the views and the drive. Near the start of the last descent into Palm Desert I stopped at this turn out to enjoy the view. That road looking like a strand of spaghetti plopped onto the desert is great fun and gives you some idea of what the last hour of the drive is like.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Word: Ignoracist

Then (Pat Buchanan) made his most ignoracist claim yet: “This has been a country built basically by white folks.”

Jim Nelson
September 2009

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Starter Wife The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm about halfway through watching the mini-series on hulu and decided to read the book. The book is a light-hearted look into the privileged life of the rich, famous, and powerful in Hollywood. It follows one woman's struggle to survive with her integrity intact among beautiful people with skewed values, much like The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries. When I got to the halfway point I thought the book wasn't as good those other books, or even the TV show, but at that point the author was finished describing the environment and setting up her characters and was able to use her language of wit to really tell the story of these people. In the second half I really started to like the book and the characters and the author's writing style. An easy, fun, fast read; good for beaches and airports.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

“Whover said

‘You can’t buy happiness’

didn’t know where to look.”

- Bo Derek

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Out the Train Window

Shortly after starting my new job in Calsbad I needed to leave my car at the mechanic for a day to be checked before getting smogged and I looked into other ways to get to work. The Coaster is a local commuter train operated by the North County Transit District that parallels the 5 and the coastline between downtown San Diego and Oceanside. I catch a bus 1 block from my house that goes directly to the Old Town Transit Center. 10 minutes later The Coaster comes along, I find an upper level seat, sit back, and let someone else do the driving. It’s a smooth, fast, quiet ride with spectacular views of Mission Bay, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Encinatas, and Leaucadia. The train crosses 3 estuaries and lagoons and goes right along the coastline in many places allowing great views of the sand and surf. No matter how early there are always surfers out in the waves.

In Carlsbad there's a shuttle bus timed to meet the train that goes right by Invitrogen putting me at work about 7:40am. At the end of the day the bus comes back at 5:15 and gets to the train station about 10 minutes ahead of the 5:45 return train. Sometimes I’ll leave work a half hour early and get an earlier train. The downside is door to door the whole trip is about twice as long as driving so I’ve been doing it just a couple of times a week. The cost is about the same as gas, but savings in wear and tear on my car, and on me, plus the views and the fun of it make it well worth the time.

Do you see the bird?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bike Ride Sat. 06/20: 32 Miles: Lost in La Jolla

One lonely boat emphasized the expanse of the Pacific. The clouds allowed some sunlight through that did a slow waltz with the sailboat and the sea.

I can’t believe this ride was over 3 weeks ago. Time flies when everything hurts!

This ride started out like the ones before: through Mission Hills, down the Presidio, through Mission Bay Park, along Rose Creek, along the railroad tracks, then up onto La Jolla Colony Drive. When I got to the point where I stopped and turned around the previous week I was so proud of myself for not dying and relieved to reach the top of a very long hill. My plan was to continue for another mile or two, then turn around and head home. But I was having so much fun exploring new territory and enjoying the ride and a couple stop lights and small downhills gave me some energy that I soon found myself staring down a big hill to a bridge that crossed the 5 and I recognized where I was: I was clear up on Genosee, the exit we take to get to the Glider Port and Black’s Beach. Being so close, within a couple miles, I decided to go for it and see the ocean.

Westbound on Genosee across the 5 is a nice downhill, but up the other side is much longer and steeper; I walked most of it. A left turn at the top, turn right at the 2nd light, and I’m going past the Salk Institute heading for the Pacific. As the photos show it was cool, cloudy day, but there’s always something new to notice by the ocean.

After a nice long rest and a couple energy bars I headed back to retrace my ride through La Jolla. I reached 40 mph going down Genosee and didn’t have to walk up the other side. I tried to retrace my route exactly, but somewhere I missed a turn and found myself going by businesses I didn’t recognize and across the 5 on a bridge I’d never been on before. I would have been worried except there were these frequent signs pointing out the turns to stay on the Rose Creek Canyon Bike Path, which is what I wanted so I just kept following the signs. Eventually I found myself on this long downhill, which should have been fun except the wind was so strong coming up that I actually had to pedal pretty hard into it.

Towards the bottom of the hill I recognized the start of the paved path along the train tracks up ahead and realized I was on Gilman Drive: I’d just come back through La Jolla on a slightly different route.

Pedalling back through Mission Bay Park was pretty but everything started to hurt and I still had to hike up Presidio Hill which was looming ahead like a wall. By the time I limped home I had gone 32 miles, about 6 miles more than I had planned and did I mention that everything hurt?

One curious thing happened on the ride: While stopped at light in La Jolla this basketball suddenly dropped from the sky, landing 10 yards away from me, almost in the middle of the intersection. There was a 5 story apartment complex behind me and I assume it came from its roof. Then on the way back, while stopped at the same intersection, a sedanful of twentysomethin’ guys made a left turn in front of me and they were all hanging out the windows yelling and cheering and gesturing in my direction.

Did they recognize me as the one they threw the basketball at? Had they started their Saturday night binge early and were cheering at everyone? Perhaps. But I think the paparazzi finally caught up with me. And next year, when this blog is bigger than Perez Hilton’s, my paparazzi will actually have cameras.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Antidote for a long day staring at Excel:

Running on the beach,
Dodging the incoming tide,
Watching Apollo slowly sink into the waves.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bike Ride Saturday 6.13.9./ 24 miles

Last Saturday I decided to head out for my ride rather late in the afternoon. My days during the week start so early that Saturday mornings I’m moving very slow. I figured I would still have plenty of light since sunset is so late, and I could take advantage of the great light late in the day for photos.

I headed out along the same route I’ve been taking the past few weeks, this time going over a mile further into La Jolla Colony, which is a beautiful little neighorhood tucked in between the 5 and the canyon the train goes through. Although the last mile just about killed me going from a slight incline to a very steep hill. I had to stop and catch my breath for a few minutes before heading back and this is where I found the flowers.

Going back started out a little chilly because the sun was on the way down; but zooming down hill, so much fun. This was a good ride for me in that I only made 2 stops, a few minutes at the halfway point and another brief one to take the picture of the creek that the bike path goes along by Mission Bay

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great Opening Lines: Maya Angelou

“What you looking at me for?
I didn’t come to stay . . . ”

- Children’s poem

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bike Ride Saturday 6.6.9. 22 miles

I finally made it to the start of this bike path, which has been my goal for the past few weeks. That it’s just under 10 miles from home and it took this much effort to reach is really pathetic. Although there is a stiff, steady wind coming in off the ocean that I’m battling almost the entire way out. Add to that a slight, but constant uphill grade and it’s kind of a challenge. I followed this path for about a mile along the train tracks. Then it ends and the bike route splits; you can stay to the right towards La Jolla Colony or go left into La Jolla Shores towards the ocean. But I was out of breath and still needed to get back home, so I turned around and headed back. Going downhill with the wind was a fun reward and a such a relief.

On the way home I took an extended break in Mission Bay Park watching everyone having fun in and along the water.

While still trying to catch my breath after walking up Presidio Hill I found this view at the end of a dead-end street. A house at the end of the street had a low wall I stood on to take the picture. I was hoping they didn’t mind too much. The view is looking southwest over San Diego Bay to the north island of Coronado and the open ocean beyond that. To the right is Point Loma. And on the horizon just left of center, very faint, is an island that, according to Google Earth, is about 21 miles away.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

New Roommates Frank & Gypsy

Early in March Keith decided that he really missed Puget Sound and the forests and the rain in the Seattle area where he grew up. And he wants to be able to buy a few acres and build a house, which is much easier there than in San Deigo. So the end of April he packed up his stuff and his bird, Nikko, and his motorcycle and headed north.

May 1st Frank and Gypsy moved in. Frank and I had been acquaintances for a little while. I haven't lived with a dog since I was a little guy and I'm really enjoying it. She's really sweet, mostly well-behaved, and very smart. I've taken her for walks a few times and that's lots of fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Quote: Churchill

“Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after having exhausted all other possibilities.”

– Winston Churchill

Monday, May 25, 2009

Action on the Field

Some shots of the action on the field at Friday Night’s Padrés’ game. I’m pretty sure the white blur in the 3rd picture, about 5 feet in front of the batter, is the ball. I’m not sure if it’s coming in or on its way out. Most of the pitches throughtout the game were 85 -95 mph.