Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home-Ec in Real Life

Next year, when I get a great idea for a Christmas gift to make everyone, and buy the supplies in July and have everything set up to start working WHENEVER, I need to start actually working on the gifts prior to a few weekends before Christmas.


I like how all the pillows turned out in the end. The last one was finished at about 10:30 pm on December 23rd.


So, there's the sewing. For cooking, here's some eye candy:


I suppose I collect herbs, spices, and seasonings, too. That's an ELFA over-the-door storage system, which will definitely be coming with us if we ever move. Those larger spice containers in the fourth and fifth rows from the top are from Valli Produce, and cost something ridiculous like $2.39 each. Some not pictured are in the wings to refill the smaller bottles and canisters - so the contents of the Kroger canisters are not all from when I lived in Terre Haute.

Friday, November 27, 2009


H had mentioned he was looking for photographs of Atlantic puffins. I decided to spend time today finding and scanning these negatives. These photos are from the summer of 1998, when I went to Maine with my then-boyfriend's family. I am fairly certain this is Machias Seal Island. The scanner I use now is an Epson Perfection V500 Photo, the camera I used then was my Minolta Maxxum 650si, the lens was probably a Promaster 28-200. Each image has been adjusted in Bibble 5 - just rotation, crop, white balance, and some exposure balancing. There are visible grains (it's consumer grade film, some ISO 800, some ISO 400) dust (I'll re-scan any important images with the dust removal tool enabled) and focus errors. I don't miss film.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

First Pictures from Sony Alpha 850

Here you go. For the first set of photos from my new camera, I decided to take pictures of one of the first cameras in my collection.


After downloading the RAW files to my computer I discovered that Bibble does not yet support the a850 (Bibble 4 goes up to the a700, and Bibble 5 preview 2.2 has the a900, but the a850 is not in that release. I hear the next preview release is imminent, but I JUST GOT A NEW CAMERA and I WANT TO PROCESS MY RAW FILES!)

The nice looking picture above and immediately below were processed using DxO Optics Pro 6, free trial edition. I'd be more impressed if it hadn't crashed three times and taken so dang long to complete the batch. Bibble has me spoiled for speed, that's for sure.


The foggy version below is what happens when Picasa 3 converts the files to .jpg. I'm really not impressed at all. What were they thinking? I kept this one for reference and deleted the rest.


I haven't even installed the Sony software, other than the plug-in that lets Windows explorer preview the RAW files as thumbnails.

We went to a park this afternoon so I could take some outdoor photos in the daylight. Our weather this weekend is unseasonably warm, so it was a very nice walk. For today, I switched the camera to take RAW+jpg, so I'll just upload the .jpg versions and wait for Bibble to catch up before using the RAW files.

My plans do include taking detailed pictures of all of the cameras in my collection, so this blog may be very photo-geeky for the near future. I'm having fun, at least.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hot Wok Village is Closed

I know this will be crushing news for some of you, but Hot Wok Village is closed. The sign is gone, the doors are locked, the lights are out. I've got mixed feelings on the situation. It was an interesting place, serving interesting Indo-Chinese food. But, the last time we went there the food I ordered put me into so much pain that I was out of commission for the rest of the night. And I don't mean because it was spicy - I think there was something chemically wrong with what I ate.

We've got other options. There are many Indian and Chinese establishments in the Schaumburg area that haven't tried to kill me. The Himalayan Restaurant serves some Indo-Chinese food, and the service we've gotten there was very attentive. Yu's Mandarin is the best Chinese restaurant in all of space and time. And Udupi Palace is a great place for vegetarian selections - with a wonderful lunch buffet.

So, I'm sorry RK, you'll have to find another source for coconut water served in a real coconut. (If anyone knows why HWV closed, please leave a comment. Thanks.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Waiting for Trick or Treaters

Official trick or treat start time in our town is 3pm, and no one has showed up yet. (Okay, we finally got a group at 3:47.)

What have I been up to? Mostly work and crocheting. Being on has encouraged me to finish projects faster than before. But, I think my next project will be a sewing project, to make something to hold my crochet hooks.

I'm very close to ordering a new camera - the Sony Alpha 850 - with the justification of doing the wedding photography for some friends early next year. This is exciting because the a850 is a full-frame sensor, which means that the FPA is the same size as a 35mm piece of film. So, it will let me get nice wide-angle shots again with my 17-35 zoom lens. The APS-C sensors multiply the apparent focal length of a lens by 1.5, which is nice at the telephoto range, but I prefer wide angle drama.

The weather is getting colder here, but at least today is sunny. Most of the week has been rain, but at least it isn't snowing yet.

Same old, same old, you know?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New Church Organ

One of the organists at church posted this video to YouTube of him playing a recessional at the end of service. (I'm not in the group you hear singing in the background - I missed church this morning.)

The video shows the altar set up in "contemporary mode" as it is for most of the year. For Lent, they go "old school" and put back the beautiful carvings. Here is what the altar looks like on Easter:


(There was a slight change to the pipe configuration after I took this. I should go back with the good camera and take more organ pictures.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Homecoming Bonfire 2009


The wood was too wet, so the structure was still standing by the time our group left the scene to go to dinner. I think this was the best ignition I've seen - a flaming something was launched at the bonfire using a trebuchet!


Monday, September 14, 2009

Get-it-Out-of-My-Head Crochet

While we were at Cedar Point (yes, again) last weekend, one topic of discussion in line ended with me thinking about if a Klein Bottle could be made in crochet. I poked around online, and found that while several people have patterns or product for sale using knit and crochet, no-one has something like what I've been mentally designing. The concept is stuck in my head, like a song you keep remembering, and I've spent enough time refining it that I think I can actually make it work in real life.

At Stitches Midwest 2009, Habu Textiles had a booth. I bought many strange and wonderful things there, including two skeins of fique material. Here is a photo of the start I got on the Klein bottle next to the rest of one skein.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Senior Project Whiteboard

I found a stash of older image files on a backup hard-drive. It includes photos taken with my first digital camera, which was a Kodak peripheral for my Palm IIIc. Here is a picture of the whiteboard from some point during Senior Project at Rose-Hulman. I love that graph!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tinfoil Hat

Originally uploaded by prismglass

I got my PIV (see on Friday. I put this pouch together this weekend. It is going to live in my purse and help shield my RFID stuff from bad guys. The Flickr set has more details in the captions for the other photos.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Low-Res, Content Rich

I've spent more time at work in the last three days using Microsoft Paint than ProEngineer. There was a communication problem with a supplier about what surface finishes should go where on some of my complicated machined parts. The drawing depicts this information using tiny filled dots on each surface connected to leader lines ending with note callouts. NOTE 2.1 is irridite, NOTE 2.2 is hardcoat anodization, NOTE 2.3 is Aeroglaze over irridite, and so on. One finish (usually Aeroglaze) is the default for the view, and I have notes calling out the other finishes.

I'll be honest, the views look like porcupines. If that was all you had to go on, it would be tough to get a clear picture of what the finished part was supposed to look like, or even if I had any goal in mind. After consulting with the supplier and talking with the people who would have to do all the complicated masking, we decided that color coded pictures would be very helpful. I verified that no-one there was colorblind, then settled on red = irridite, green = anodization, blue = Aeroglaze.

Once back at my desk I started the process to make each picture in ProEngineer. First, to get rid of the gradient background I changed to "Black on White" view preferences. I opened the file, oriented it to show a lot of surfaces at once, zoomed in to fill the screen, switched to "no hidden lines" view, and Saved a Copy as a Tiff (Snapshot). This created an image file that was like a coloring book - all the details of the edges of the part in one solid color, on a white background. Rather than taking all the screenshots of the different part orientations at once, I left ProE set to this one orientation for reference as I colored the picture.

In MS Paint, I opened the .tif file and immediately did a save-as to add _color at the end of the filename. (Just in case I royally mess up, I like having a clean copy to start from.) The screen shot is never perfect, there may be a few pixels missing from the outline here and there due to rendering limitations in ProE. To find these "leaks" I first flood the background in pink. Then with areas to focus on I zoom in and use the eyedropper to sample the color of the outline. The pencil tool in "large" mode can close the gaps - usually it was fairly obvious where the pixel should have been. I scoot around the picture looking for other missing pixels before zooming back out again. Paintbucket to white, turn the pink to white again, and then get down to the real work.

I'll keep the .pdf of the official drawing open in a separate window for reference. (Oh, how I wish we had dual monitors!) These RGB pictures aren't official documentation, so they are overridden by the drawing, so it is important to make sure the two match. If not, our quality department could impound the parts upon receipt if the finishes do not match the released print. Paintbucket is the tool of choice, and I soon have that graphic completed. Then I save, import to PowerPoint, and start on the next one.

Three to four views are enough to describe each piece. One graphic goes on each slide, set to B size (11" x 17") paper so less detail is lost. I include a copy of the color key on each page at the request of the masking department. I finish by printing to .pdf and emailing out, then on to the next part.

I don't think I'd want to do this exercise for every single part I design. But when there are three or more finishes in one piece it is just so much easier to digest like this. Even the shaded 3D model is difficult to read correctly, because two out of three finishes I used here are black.

Bonus: pixels remind me of childhood.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Fashion News

Lee now makes jeans cut to actually fit against the back of one's waist without a huge gap. I was very surprised when all four pairs from three different brands I brought into the JC Penney fitting room were wearable, including a clearance model that rang up at $3.98. That NEVER HAPPENS.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Top Thrill Dragster Video

Originally uploaded by prismglass
Here's a video of the Top Thrill Dragster ride at Cedar Point. I was standing in line for the front row of the front train. You can see how long the prep time is compared to the time the train is really moving.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cedar Point

Our new favorite amusement park ride of all time is the Millennium Force roller coaster. We rode it five times over our two days at Cedar Point. Perfect dynamics, great views of the lake, fast line, secure hip-bar restraints, and occasional tunnels add up to a ride I always left smiling.

On our last ride of the second day, which we did on the Millennium Force towards the back of the train, I overheard a great conversation. A boy, maybe 10 years old, had dragged his mother to sit in the row in front of us. As we waited to board, she was expressing concern about being so far back - the back of the train goes over hills much faster than the front of the train, and I kind of picked up that she wasn't a fan of that. But, they stayed one row ahead of us anyway. As the train got to the very top of the first hill, I heard this:
Kid: "Can I cuss?"
His Mom: "Yes."
Kid: "sSHHIIIiiiii...."

Our second favorite ride is the Top Thrill Dragster. Due to maintenance issues closing the ride several times each day, we were only able to ride three times. Twice in the front row, once in the second row, so I had a good view of the track in front of me. Well, at least until my vision blurred from the extreme launch speed. Dragster is all speed and height, over so fast you don't feel like you even blinked, but etched into memory like it happened in slow motion. Highly recommended.

And, for all of you readers who "grew up near Cedar Point" and "went there all the time growing up" know that I am extremely jealous. We WILL be back, oh yes, we will.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Time to Sew

While reading through some of the comments on a post for a sewing blog I read, I realized on about the 7th page that I've been spending more time reading about sewing than actually sewing. To quote our intern at work, "That's really lame." Why? Because my room was in a state that to sew anything I had to do about an hour of rearranging computer equipment. And to cut anything I'd have to find a home for six piles of magazines and paperwork that had migrated to the cutting table.

Weekend project! Yesterday I accomplished turning the lesser-used half of the dining table into the computer desk. A weighted USB hub and surge-protected power squid serve as a docking station. The scanner is set up and ready to use, which was another goal of the reorganization.

So far this morning, I've tackled the magazines and paper piles. I see the table starting to appear, and I've unearthed the pieces of the dress I was working on last. The whole room looks better, and I may be able to really sew something this afternoon.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

T-Mobile Rocks

I wanted to mention that I think it is awesome that T-Mobile phone support has a special support group for "unsupported devices."

In related news, I now have a phone that can receive picture messages. Yes, that is an AT&T model, but the T-Mobile tech support guy was able to update its software with just two text messages. It still has all the AT&T graphics and spam, but it works for picture messaging with my pay-as-you-go plan after the update. The old phone I was using still had all of its Cingular graphics and spam, so I'm used to that already.

P.S. We still have a land-line, and that is the most reliable way to get in touch with us. As in, I can hear those phones ringing anywhere in the house. My mobile phone is usually buried in my purse with a half-dead battery, so I'll find out you called in a day or two.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

iPod Upgrade Helpful Hint

I thought I had trouble with my iPod upgrade when it started acting
funny on my drive in to work. An album was playing, in order, but
each time I went over a bump it immediately started playing a
different song. Even when I noticed that it switched into shuffle
mode, I didn't understand why. On the walk in to the building I
realized what had happened.

When you upgrade your iPod Touch to OS 3.0, the "Shake to Shuffle"
feature is ON by default.

Thanks guys, really.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


At Valli Produce yesterday there was a large bin of Lychees at $1.29 a pound. Patrons of Indian, Chinese, and other Asian backgrounds were circled around it, scooping the small red spiky fruits into plastic bags. I asked the group, "So, how do you eat these?" and immediately three people started explaining at once. One Indian gentleman demonstrated how you break into the peel at the stem end with your thumbnail, then work down the fruit splitting the stiff skin. The flesh is smooth, white, soft, translucent, and juicy. This is then popped into the mouth so your teeth can finish the job of removing the edible part. The other hint is "Don't bite on the seed, it is bitter." Each lychee has one large seed in its center, smooth, brown, and oblong.

A Chinese woman said that she had bought a few the day before to make sure they were good. They were sweet, so she had come back for more. At this point, even more people were crowded around the bin, and I was also scooping lychees into my plastic bag to try out.

The taste and texture resemble a peeled grape, but a bit more tropical and a lot easier to dismantle. I'd buy them again, and I'd recommend trying fresh lychees if your local produce store also has them in stock.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Resisting Twitter

This is a test to see how well mobile blogging of short ideas goes
from my iPod. I'm slightly interested in Twitter, but I've already
got this blog I rarely post to. So, rather than add another page my
parents have to go to read how I'm doing, I'll try updating this one
more often.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Plans so Far

At the risk of inviting the Internet to my house, is anyone interested in visiting on Memorial Day weekend? I'm told there will be at least two grilling instances, one involving a whole chicken. Local and not-so-local friends are welcome - just let me know.

Later in the summer (dates TBD) B and I are going to take a trip to Cedar Point. We love roller coasters, and this is supposed to be the best park for those. The plan is to drive out on a Sunday, visit the park on a Monday and Tuesday, and drive back on a Wednesday. Does that sound like fun to anyone else? We could coordinate a convergence on the park, and stay in the same hotel. After-park parties could also be planned. (aka stop at an adult-beverage store on the way back to the hotel)

Today I got the approval to go to PTC/USER world conference. It runs from 6/7/09 to 6/10/09 in Orlando, FL. I've signed up for a nearly full agenda of seminars, training, and workshops. All of the sessions I'm taking are about Pro/ENGINEER. We've only had the upgrade to Wildfire 4 for a few weeks, so I have tons of questions. I'll be in "information sponge" mode. When I get back I'll be squeezing all that information into presentations and hints-n-tricks documents for the rest of our users. Seriously, I'm going to have fun doing this. This is what I do for fun. Really.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rabbit Photos


This rabbit was hanging out in our backyard for a long while tonight. I took pictures - they should be enough cute to get you through the rest of the week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh, Right, I Have a Blog

100th post, if you like round numbers in the base ten system that is kind of cool. I'm not going to write about anything special or monumental, just some disjointed thoughts and news items.

The herbs in pots in the kitchen are growing well. Much better than expected. At some point I will actually start using them to cook, but I didn't want to cut anything off so soon after transplanting.

The iPod touch (or iPhoney as I call it if I screw up and start referring to it as an iPhone) is both a monumental waste of time and a useful tool. I got an FM transmitter for the car so I'm actually listening to an hour of good music every day. The Genius playlist feature is now my friend.

I messed up a recent yarn purchase by not realizing that "one skein" listed on the pattern meant "one skein PER SOCK." Oops.

Just today I extricated myself from a major commitment at work that I wasn't really able to spend any time on, and wasn't excited about anymore. The relief I feel at having this burden lifted makes up for any lingering guilt about quitting the task. Also, I was reassured that I was NOT single-handedly holding up everything, as I had feared.

The Chase Corporate Challenge is next week on Thursday. I haven't spent any time running recently, so I'm planning to take it at a brisk walk. We'll see what actually happens.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Moving the GB Around

There's a lot of data transfer happening on my desk at the moment. The iBook G4 is getting its hard drive content copied to an external drive via Firewire. My new iPod touch is getting all of my iTunes content loaded onto it from the Toshiba laptop via USB.

For the Apple laptop content, I'm just making a backup of EVERYTHING after already moving all the important stuff onto the Toshiba. B will then get the Apple (Power PC architecture, grr) to do whatever he wants with it. I've been told it might be partitioned and Ubuntu added once he clears the hard drive (all 60 GB of it) of un-needed files. The painful part of copying the files is that Finder doesn't just keep going if it finds a file with a really long name or other problems. So, I try copying large chunks and when it stops I pick smaller chunks and eventually get all the data moved over. So this project is in baby-sit mode.

For the iPod, I started the sync 20 minutes ago and it is only about 1/4 done. The story behind this purchase is that my 4th gen iPod (with clickwheel!) decided it didn't want to sync anymore. The hard drive on that thing was churning and not getting anywhere when connected to iTunes. (Unlike the two times the drive head got stuck and I saw the sad iPod graphic - fix by whacking on the upper right corner and restoring by the way - this time it just continued to say "do not disconnect".) It would also crash sometimes when just starting to play a song. Not a robust behavior for a piece of electronics, but it is five years old.

I am excited about using the iPod touch, especially as a Kindle and a portable web appliance in addition to a music player. If you have a favorite app for the iPhone or iPod touch I should check out, please leave a comment with your suggestion.

My other large purchase this weekend is less exciting. I noticed a bulge in the sidewall of my tire a few days ago, and remembered to look up if that meant something bad on Thursday. Friday morning, I was at the dealership getting a new tire. The tread on the others (replaced 10/07) was in good enough shape that they said I only needed to replace the damaged tire this time. Good thing, too, because the darn things cost $196 each. Stupid potholes.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


My 30th birthday was a few weeks ago. It was so nice to have school friends, work friends, and my parents all together in our house for the party.

The Mazda3 reached 50,000 miles on Thursday. It is still in great shape and I feel very connected to it while driving. Like, it is a mobile feeling of "home" rather than just a way to get around.

In about a week, B and I have our 7th wedding anniversary. This is a good thing - another marker as we move forwards in our lives. Love you, hon!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Yellow Light Commute

My morning drive into work can take anywhere from 20 to 30+ minutes on a normal day. I stay on local roads, so the time variation has to do with the traffic lights and any slow people I get stuck behind. Recently I've noticed a phenomenon and accompanying attitude that I'm calling the Yellow Light Commute. Green lights all the way = smooth trip = 20ish minutes from door to door. Red lights at particular intersections = stop and go = eh whatever.

But when I get yellow lights as I approach intersections, it forces me to decide. Assuming some jackhat isn't riding my tail and making it dangerous to stop I could go through or wait for next time. (Yellow lights here are nice and long.) On those days when it's yellow after yellow after yellow I find myself getting annoyed no matter what I choose. Hold speed and go through and I ask myself why I'm rushing to get to work. Stop at every light and I ask myself why I'm wasting time and gas. A green or a red light is easy, simple, and not my fault. A Yellow Light Commute is more stress and philosophy than I need at 8am.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Out Like a L.A.M.B.

The forecast for tonight includes 4 to 8 inches of snow. March: in like a lion, out like a Laser Alien Mutant Bovid.

Extra Banana Suggestion

On the countertop: five over-ripe bananas left over from the bunches I brought into work for my birthday. In my cookbook collection: "Perfect Light Desserts: Fabulous Cakes, Cookies, Pies, and More Made with Real Butter, Sugar, Flour, and Eggs, All Under 300 Calories Per Generous Serving". On page 77: Banana Loaf Cake, which uses EXACTLY 5 bananas. I followed the recipe as written, but didn't have the right size loaf pan. So, I used a muffin scoop to portion into 17 cupcakes instead, reducing the baking time to 30 minutes. HOLY COW THESE ARE GOOD!

Monday, March 9, 2009

What My Subconcious is Worried About

Yesterday we watched Robocop - the unrated version - on Blu-ray over at the Pikafoop abode. That is an obscenely violent and completely gross movie. I was a little concerned I'd get nightmares.

Last night I dreamed that I had gone on a trip to explore a jungle canyon and had FORGOTTEN my CAMERA.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Watched File Never Downloads

In anticipation of my new computer arriving next week, I've been downloading programs ahead of time. I plan on using the downgrade option to XP Professional, and also adding a Linux partition. Here's what I've got collected so far:

Ubuntu and Kubuntu (I'll try both from the Live CD before choosing which one to install)
Bibble Pro for both Windows and Linux (already have it on Mac, they set up the licensing so you only pay once per user for Pro)
Adobe Reader for both Windows and Linux
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
iTunes 8 (my Mac running 10.3.9 is stuck at iTunes 7)
Mpix publishing software
Flickr Uploadr
Lego Digital Designer
TI-89 Titanium applications (NERD!)

I tried to download the Google Pack, but was repeatedly thwarted because I am using my Mac. Google kicks you out of the Windows download area and into a "here's what works on YOUR computer, loser" area if you aren't on a Windows computer. I sent a "suggestion" but if you know somebody who knows somebody who works there, could you point this out? Other sites that auto-detected that I'm using a Mac did let me download the Windows software once I clicked through to a special page. Unless there is some really good reason why the computer the software will be used on is the one that does the downloading, this is an aggravating limitation.

Enough ranting. The main reasons I wrote this post are to document the download links and to ask for more ideas. I use Windows at work (got the MS Office 2007 Enterprise suite through the Home Use Program for $19.95) but just for work-related tasks. (Sure, ProE or Zemax would be fun to have at home, but I'm not rich.) Which Windows applications do you like having and using at home? Which Linux applications should I be sure to install from the Ubuntu CD? Did anything in my list above kick your dog and throw up on your hard drive?

Exciting times. My iBook G4 has given me five good years, but it is time to move on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nearly Free Blender

Big shopping score tonight:
This KitchenAid blender at our local Bed Bath and Beyond has a price tag of $119. I used a 20% off coupon from the mail for $24 off. I used three Discover cash-back bonus gift cards for $75 off. AND there is a $20 rebate on the model right now. $24 + $75 + $20 = $119 so I just had to pay sales tax.

Banana-Oatmeal smoothies for breakfast tomorrow!

(My old el-cheapo blender is no longer with us after an ice-cube and frozen-berries mixture didn't blend.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Abbreviated Trip Report

Originally uploaded by prismglass

Cozumel was AMAZING. I managed to spend time actually relaxing on an actual beach with an actual tropical drink in my hand. San Miguel is a vibrant, friendly town, fun during the day and still hopping at night. We got to see one of the Carnival parades on our last night there. Hotel Flamingo worked out really well for us. We will NEVER go on a cruise, based on the behavior of the passengers on land and our reaction to a particularly rough ferry ride.

I spoke some Spanish, and some Spanglish, but mostly English. Getting pesos out of the ATM and using those instead of USD saved us a lot of money. Plus, we realized that a bottle of beer was cheaper than a bottle of water at restaurants. I ate fish, shrimp, fish wrapped in banana leaf, shrimp stuffed inside a chile relleno, fish tacos, guacamole, and "Mexican salsa, very hot." You'll even see a few pictures of the cats at the seafood restaurants, begging at the tables for scraps.

We spent one day on the mainland and took a Collectivo (shared taxi) to see the Tulum ruins. There were iguanas all over the place. In the evening we walked down the main drag of Playa Del Carmen. There were Europeans all over the place.

Overall a great vacation - I'd seriously consider going back again to do some things we missed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Colors in my Memory


Another sick day, another day of scanning. Today (technically, yesterday at this point) I concentrated on color negatives, which are more difficult to handle than the slides. Because of the way they load into the transparency carrier for my scanner, there is more variation in position of the frames. So, in addition to fiddling with getting the film strip loaded, I need to modify the marquee position for all eight shots. I've scanned four rolls of film today, and it has taken over six hours. That is just for the scanning - I've also spent another two hours post-processing in Bibble and uploading to Flickr, just for the first two rolls.


Why bother? In addition to still being sick and not wanting to leave the house today, I am really excited about bringing these photos back to life. These four rolls plus three more still to go are from our honeymoon trip to Arizona. In October of 2002 (6 months after the wedding because I didn't have enough vacation days built up yet in April) we flew into Phoenix and rented a car. We had no set plans. With a Motel 6 directory and a few good guidebooks we drove wherever we wanted and did whatever we felt like that day. I had brought my big camera, all my lenses, and my full-size tripod - photography would be an important component of the trip.


You know how disappointing it is when you get the prints back and the photos don't look as good as you remembered the scenery looking? The colors aren't right, the exposures are all washed out in the sky and the shadows are too dark to see inside? The red is gone from the rocks and they look normal instead of alien, so you amend your memories and put the pictures in albums and the trip is over.


Guess what. Digital photos aren't the first to have white-balance problems. With color-positive slide film, the colors are what they were. With color-negative print film, there is a lot of interpretation involved when making prints. Look at a negative - it certainly isn't exactly opposite of real-life color. Even in good photo labs, where the color adjustments are done by humans and not machines, those humans are not YOU. They weren't THERE. They are guessing at how those pictures are supposed to look, and they are going to get it wrong.


Solution: scan the negatives. Post-process in Bibble. Use click-white to choose areas you know are neutral, keep clicking on different points until the color balance looks correct. Use fill light to bring out the shadow details, use exposure adjustments to lower the skylight. Watch the histogram and the preview image. The information is still there in the negative - you are just telling Bibble how to interpret the inputs to create an output that better matches what you know you saw.


I'm very happy with the results so far. What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Slide Show

Originally uploaded by prismglass

This is one of my favorite photos. I just happened upon it while on a walk with my camera.

I've spent most of today scanning slides and uploading them to Flickr. It has worked out well as an activity on a day that I am recovering from a nasty cold. Scanning is repetitive, not requiring much in the way of decisions or movement. Just clicking and waiting. On a normal day it would drive me nuts. Today it fit my capabilities perfectly.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ir de vacaciones

In less than a week we fly to Cozumel, Mexico for our vacation. I've never been on a standard tropical-beach vacation before, but after the winter we've had it seems like a VERY good idea. It is fun to have "buy bikini" as part of the pre-trip checklist, because it reminds me how different the weather and the priorities are going to be down there. Having this to look forward to is helping my mood because it encourages me to brush away the little annoyances before they build up. Mental conversation example snippet: "This email I got highlights a problem with my design that I couldn't have anticipated. That's unfortunate, but I'm not going to let it get to me today because I'm going to Mexico next week."

I studied Spanish formally for four years, but never really felt like I "got" it. I'm not great at retaining memorized information, so when they would leave one verb tense to teach another, I'd forget the details of the first one. What works better for me is listening, reading, and absorbing from context. When used in addition to "book learning" grammar and vocabulary lessons, I do much better. My upcoming vacation prompted me to give Spanish another try.

Because of the demographics of the town we live in, I hear Spanish spoken frequently by the people around me in everyday situations. I can choose between several Spanish-language radio stations here as well. Plus, with the internet I can now get, for free, Spanish reading material from all over the world. So, even though my formal instruction is a set of Intermediate/Advanced CDs for the car and some review/practice books, I feel like I'm actually learning and progressing this time.

The last, biggest hurdle is getting over my hesitancy to actually use the small bit of language that I know. Cozumel is a tourist destination, so English is all we really need. Will I be able to get over my fear of saying something really stupid, or in the wrong tense, to a total stranger?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sunday Dinner

I've had fun recently by packing a few kitchen toys and prepped ingredients into bags, and cooking Sunday Dinner for friends in their kitchens. I made chicken thighs with peppers and onions for K+H, and just tonight did custom pizza for B+J. (Though, I almost left the pizza dough in the fridge here, and the second pizza turned into improvised calzones when I screwed up transfer onto the baking stone.) Sunday is the only day of the week I get a good solid block of time to spend on food prep and cooking. It is also prime hanging-out time with friends before getting back into the work week. By cooking and hanging out, I get the most out of my Sunday evenings.

I like the Produce Saver containers that Rubbermaid has out now. They have a vented lid and a tray at the bottom of the bowl to keep your fruits and veggies elevated, extending their life. I bought mine at our local Target. The larger size (14 C) has been really useful - a 5 lb bag of carrots will fit when peeled and sliced into carrot sticks. The 5 C size is good for one celery heart or a bunch of parsley. Thanks to these nifty plastic things, I can eat more fresh vegetables because I can process them on Sunday to use all week.

A lesser-used but no less loved kitchen toy is my stainless-steel saute pan by Cuisinart. The generous size is great while I'm cooking with it, not so good for cleaning. It absolutely does not fit in the dishwasher, and it barely fits in the sink. If it was a little larger, I'd need to clean it in the bathtub. All is forgiven: the results from browning meats are worth the hassle, and it is soooo shiny!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

This May Not Work Out

I'm trying to grow culinary herbs indoors, from seeds. The first few green shoots are appearing - so far so good. But, I don't have a good track record with indoor plants. (The ones I got at IKEA for my cubicle are still doing okay, but those don't mind being ignored.) If it works, great, I'll have fresh basil (x3 types), oregano, lavender, chives, and dill growing on a kitchen bookcase. If not, I'll be disappointed, but I'm not going to be surprised.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Reference Point for Cold Temperatures

At -15 degrees F, or -26 degrees C, the packed snow/frozen slush on driveways and parking lots SQUEAKS when you walk or drive over it.

Rather than put on workout clothes that had been sitting in my cold car since 9 am, I laid them out on the bench in the gym's locker room sauna. Five minutes later the clothes and shoes were wearable and I actually felt warm for the first time all day.

I don't think they should be allowed to call it a "High" if it is only forecast to be -5 F. They should have another word for "Least Cold it will be Today" that does not imply that much relative motion of molecules.

Ridiculous cold is very unpleasant and uncomfortable, but at least it isn't snowing again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sim City DS = Sleep Deprivation

B&J got us GameStop gift cards for Christmas. I used mine to buy a used copy of Sim City DS. (Does anyone else just erase the former owner's saved game without looking at it? I'd rather not know what they may have left on there as a joke. Could be the most awesome simulated metropolis ever, or it could be something rude spelled out in trees.) Anyway, both times I've turned on the game I have then stayed up until 2 or 3 am playing. Last night I even plugged the charger in because the red light was blinking, and proceeded to sit down on the dining room floor and KEEP PLAYING. So, new rule is: no Sim Anything on work nights.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

High-Quality Yoga Tools

If you have a chance to try Yoga, you should. Most gyms offer classes, the Wii Fit has a good introduction, and of course there are DVDs for sale/rent/loan everywhere. I got my first tastes from a DVD, took my first "live" classes at my former gym, and I'm now taking (free!) classes at work. A few years ago I even took an all-inclusive yoga vacation at Kripalu after a really stressful project phase was over.

I've shredded a "deluxe" yoga mat after a few years of use. When it started leaving bits of foam on the floor and on me after a session, I decided it was time to replace the poor thing. One instructor would talk about his Manduka mat, so I looked into it. Amazon reviews were positive, so I ordered one. I'm very happy with it so far, and highly recommend it once you know you'll be doing yoga for a while.

The bare-feet aspect of yoga is uncomfortable to me, so I've also tried a few solutions to that over the years. (Leaving your regular socks on is too slippery.) First, I used shoes left over from parent-mandated jazz dance class. Then, I found yoga shoes (by Nike) on clearance at a sporting good store. Neither of these let me spread out my toes or put my fingers between my toes, which is actually part of some poses. Solution? Amazon Search! These ToeSox (yoga/pilates version) do work very well, with the added bonus of being machine washable.

Finally, if you are looking at yoga props, I'd suggest getting a cork block instead of a foam block, and a cotton strap (or other natural material) instead of a plastic-based strap. Cork feels more stable, and cotton feels soft instead of sharp. Target's sporting goods section is a good place to find yoga stuff like this.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Dessert for Breakfast

Here is a breakfast that I make often. It feels like dessert and only costs 3 WW Points (TM) when figured with the Nutrition Facts from the individual ingredients. For one serving:

*1/2 C dry old-fashioned oats
*1/2 C fresh cranberries (stock up now and keep in freezer)
*water to the top of the oats (adjust as you like - this is on the dry side)
*1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

Microwave to your preference. I like my oatmeal al dente, so I use 3'30" on 70%. Actually, I like raw dry rolled oats (a favorite childhood snack!), so take that into account for the water and cooking time.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Best Wishes for 2009

One amusing thing last night about watching the New Year's Eve broadcasts was the overtone of "wow 2008 sucked let's not do that again" that kept coming up. For the did-professionals-really-produce-this-show Chicago broadcast where the local news celebrities were forced to stand outside on the 16th floor of the Trump Tower, the attitude was "let's get this over with and 2009 HAS to be better."

Personally, I'm doing okay. I mean, if I ignore my 401k performance (I've got a while to retirement, so this is just a blip, or so I keep telling myself. Pretty painful blip...) the economic troubles of 2008 haven't hit home. The weather in Chicagoland was terrible, but just to the point of discomfort, we didn't suffer any property damage. The only memorable low point of 2008 for me will be the ordeal with the bathroom paint. I am very thankful for my luck, blessings, friends, family, work, health, and learning experiences of the past year.

Whatever your plans and resolutions are for 2009, best wishes for the New Year ahead.


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