Monday, November 24th, 2008

Blog Posts

A Short Hike to Eagle Rock

On Saturday Penelope and I took a short hike to Eagle Rock in Topanga Canyon. After a few weeks off following our Cactus to Clouds trek and we were eager to get back to it.

We weren't sure which hike to do, we had originally talked about hiking Mt. Baldy again, but we opted for something closer to home. When Penelope said Eagle Rock, I thought she meant the Eagle Rock suburb near Glendale. Apparently the Eagle Rock she was talking about was an actual rock in Topanga Canyon.

We drove up PCH to Topanga Canyon road, paid our $8 state park fee and started out hike. We laughed at the easy specs of the hike, 7 miles and 800 feet of elevation gain, nothing compared to the 24 miles and 10,000 feet of gain we hiked a few weeks back.

Once we were getting close to Eagle Rock, about 2 miles in, we weren't laughing anymore. Penelope was feeling under the weather and the simple hike became highly unpleasant for her. We were also running short on time due to a meeting I had scheduled.

We opted to turn around at Eagle Rock and head back to the car. We ended up doing a little over four miles, but it was still great to get out into the hills and away from the city.

This time around I brought a good camera and tripod and took some photos of the beautiful views and the beautiful wife.

I'm sure at some point we'll do this hike again and complete it. In the interim we're looking forward to some snow so we can break out the snowshoes. Now that will be fun!

View From Eagle Rock HDR

The view from Eagle Rock in Topanga Canyon is beautiful as seen in this composite HDR photo taken on Saturday.

Penelope on Eagle Rock

The illustrious and beautiful Penelope Bullock shades her eyes from the sun after a short hike to Eagle Rock in Topanga Canyon.

Dave on Eagle Rock

That's me, Dave Bullock, sitting atop Eagle Rock after a short hike on Saturday.

Click here to see the rest of the Eagle Rock photos.

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Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

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Skid Row Photo Club's First Show: The Beauty of the Street

The Skid Row Photography Club's first show, The Beauty of the Street, premiered last Thursday during the Downtown Art Walk. The participants were ecstatic to see their beautiful work on the walls and the hundreds of people who came into the gallery loved what they saw.

The SRPC started as an idea I "borrowed" from the movie Born Into Brothels. I wrote a proposal to the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council to buy digital cameras which we then gave to people living in Skid Row. I gave the participants brief lessons in composition and turned them loose. For the last six months we've met every Tuesday at UCEPP in Skid Row.

During that time they shot over 20,000 photos between them. An amazing body of work ranging from flowers to architecture to a man defecating in the middle of the street.

I pared the photos down to 11 selections for the show. Conor Colvin-Hunter designed a flyer, posters, banners and the website for free. My employer AmericasPrinter.com donated the flyer printing. I then printed the 13"x19" photos with my Epson 3800 on Ultra-smooth Fine Art Matte paper and had them framed at the Downtown Framing Outlet. DLANC paid for the framing.

Stella Dottir hosted the show in her gallery at no charge and took no cut of the sales. The SRPC members helped me hang the work a few days before Art Walk at the gallery.

The show was a hit, the turnout was amazing. Click here to watch a video of the opening put together by the SRPC founder Michael Blaze. I estimate we had over 500 people come through the doors during the evening. The response to the work was wonderful and the artists were all so proud of their accomplishments. It was quite moving.

Prints are available in a limited edition run of 5 each for $100 per print unframed and $290 framed. Half the proceeds goes to buy more cameras and the other half goes to the artist. I will update the website with the available photos along with more of the club member's work soon.

I am looking forward to our next show and seeing more amazing work from these talented photographers.

If you are interested in participating in the club we meet every Tuesday at 3pm in the UCEPP room on the corner of 6th and Stanford. If you would like to donate digital cameras please email me: [email protected]

Skid Row Photo Club

Members of the Skid Row Photography Club stand together in front of their first show at Stella Dottir's gallery in Downtown Los Angeles. From left to right: Lawrence Landry, Lance, Sandra Y. Kornegay, Manuel "OG Man" Compito, Dave Bullock, Michael Blaze, Queen RA, Conor Colvin-Hunter, Don Garza and General Jeff.

Sandra Y. Kornegay

Photographer Sandra Y. Kornegay stands proudly in front of her photo (upper left) which she shot on a cell phone.

Councilwoman Jan Perry and OG

Skid Row Photography Club member Manuel "OG Man" Compito interviews Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry at the Beauty of the Streets show during last week's Downtown Art Walk.

Click here to see more photos from the Skid Row Photo Club show.

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Sunday, November 16th, 2008

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Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

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Sunday, November 9th, 2008

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Brilliant Klezmer Violinist Stabbed In UK

Recently I picked up the clarinet again and have been practicing various Klezmer songs, including one of my wife's favorites: Papirosen. A sad song about a boy selling cigarettes on the streets during WW II in order to stave off hunger and avoid the fate of his sister who died from exposure.

I found this brilliant rendition on youtube by a duo known as the Klezmer Gourmets.

I was shocked and saddened to read in the comments that the violinist Michael Kahan was stabbed earlier this year by a 'discharged schizophrenic' in Macnhester.

This song will now be twice as sorrowful when I play it. Rest in peace Michael Kahan.

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Saturday, November 8th, 2008

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Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

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Cactus to Clouds: San Jacinto Peak the Hard Way

On Saturday my lovely wife Penelope and I completed what Backpacker Magazine calls America's 5th Hardest Day Hike. The Cactus to Clouds hike begins in Palm springs at roughly 600 feet above sea-level and tops out at the peak of Mt. San Jacinto at 10,800 feet. The grueling day hike covers over 23 miles, one of which takes you up almost 2,000 vertical feet.

Friday night Penelope and I stayed in Palm Springs at an amazing hotel, which also happens to be #1 in the country on Trip Advisor, called the Desert Riviera. The hotel and its owners are really amazing, and a subject of a future post on this blog. On Saturday morning we woke up at 2:45 a.m. and headed out to the trailhead.

We hit the trail at around 4:00 a.m. with our headlamps blazing. After hiking for 15 minutes the trail petered out and we were left wondering where to go. Penelope became worried that we were never going to find the trail and wanted to go back to the car and try from a different trailhead.

The other trailhead has an even harder-to-find trail so I decided that would be a bad idea. I told Penelope to relax and we backtracked a few hundred yards at which point I saw a white arrow spray-painted on a rock facing uphill. I followed the arrow and we were back on the path to the peak.

After two miles we came to a rock with white writing painted on it which told us to make sure we had plenty of water and that we had 8 miles and 10 hours to go. From what I've read, the actual distance from this point is closer to 10 miles. We hiked on for another hour or so when we saw another headlamp behind us and one ahead of us.

As the sun rose we saw the hiker behind us was a gray-haired woman. She was quickly gaining on us, but she ended up taking a shortcut and was suddenly way ahead of us. We never did catch up to her!

Around 6:30 a.m. the sun began to rise. We had gained a few thousand feet of elevation by that point and the sunrise was beautiful, one of the most enjoyable experiences of the hike.

For the first 9 miles the trail gradually gained altitude, then all of the sudden it basically goes nearly straight up for 3 miles. These miles were difficult and challenging with a steep, loose, rocky trail winding to Grubb's Notch. It was slow-going but we made it to the traverse, which was a welcome change in pace.

After traversing for half a mile we started back up on our final push to the top of the Skyline trail. The last quarter mile was almost straight up, but we were so close we powered up without stopping except to talk to a ranger.

The skyline trail ended up taking us about 8 hours including breaks. We sat down at the ranger station, filled out our permit and ate lunch.

Most people just do the Skyline trail and take the tram down. We decided to do the full Cactus to Clouds and hit the peak. After lunch we powered on up the final 5 and a half miles to the top. As we ascended the temperature dropped and the during the last few miles we were shrouded in clouds.

On our Deer Springs hike to San Jacinto the week before we spent a half hour on the peak and ate lunch. This time we took a few photos, sent out a SPOT message and quickly headed down.

We were very happy to reach the tram station 14 hours after starting our hike in Palm Springs. We felt good that we stuck through it and completed the hike, but boy were we tired. I can't wait for the next (hopefully shorter) hike, maybe it will snow and we'll do some snowshoeing!

If you're up for a serious, grueling, extreme-dayhiking challenge, definitely give the Cactus to Clouds hike a try. Just make sure to bring plenty of water (we brought 1.5 gallons each) and to train for it with at least a 5,000 foot elevation gain hike a few weeks before. Have fun and happy hiking!

Dave and Penelope Atop San Jacinto Peak

Penelope and I stand on the peak of San Jacinto at the apex of our Cactus to Clouds hike.

The Sun Rising Above Palm Springs

The sun rises a few hours into our Cactus to Clouds hike.

Kaufman Rock

Coffman's Crag juts out from the mountainside after the hardest part of the Cactus to Clouds hike.

Click here to see the rest of the photos from our Cactus to Clouds hike.

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Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

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FedEx Shipping with Rails

Today I created a Ruby on Rails module to calculate shipping from FedEx. I based it on a similar module from Ben Curtis which he wrote to calculate UPS shipping.

We both based our modules on the Shipping ruby gem, which hasn't been updated in several years and no longer works with the current version of Rails as far as I can tell.

My module is pretty straight forward, you feed it your zipcode, total weight and number of boxes and it gives you an array of prices and methods available from FedEx. You call it like this:

fedex = FEDEX::Client.new :account => '1000000', :meter => " 1000" , :origin_zip => '90000', :url => 'https://gateway.fedex.com/GatewayDC' fedex_quote = fedex.rate_list '80000', '500', '20'

You can check out and download my FedEx shipping calculator module here on pastie.

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Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

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Police Shoot Homeless Man, Inadvertently Prevent Skid Row Photo Club Meeting

Police shot a homeless man brandishing a knife around 1:30 p.m. today shutting down several blocks around 6th and Stanford. The ensuing investigation prevented access to the UCEPP building where the Skid Row Photography Club holds its meetings.

According to an eye-witness, the police officers asked the man to put the knife down. When he allegedly lunged at them, they opened fire and shot him. The police then proceeded to handcuff him and called an ambulance.

The eye-witness noted that the ambulance took an unusually long time to arrive, upwards of 20 minutes. Normally emergency services arrive very quickly in Skid Row as their station is just a few blocks away. The suspect was still alive when loaded into the ambulance, but his current condition is unknown.

The Skid Row Photography Club, of which I am a co-founder along with Michael Blaze, meets every Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the UCEPP center. We have a gallery show coming up starting with a soft opening in the beginning of November at Stella Dottir's shop and gallery. The official opening will be during the Downtown Art Walk on the 13th of November.

I am very excited about the opening. The group has produced an amazing body of work. Too much to display in just one show. The website will be up soon so and you'll be able to see this wonderful work for yourself.

Officer Involved Shooting Crime Scene on 6th and Stanford

The crime scene from an officer involved shooting inconveniently blocks access to the Skid Row Photography Club meeting in this photo from earlier today.

Officer Involved Shooting Crime Scene on 6th and Stanford

The UCEPP building is inaccessible for the Skid Row Photo Club meeting due to an investigation of an officer involved shooting that happened earlier in the day.

Update: ABC 7 has a story along with video and photos from my eye-witness.

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Monday, October 27th, 2008

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San Jacinto: Deer Springs Trail

Last Saturday Penelope and I hiked to the top of Mt. San Jacinto via Deer Springs Trail. It was our most challenging hike so far, covering nearly 20 miles with 5,200 feet of elevation gain.

San Jacinto is the third tallest mountain in Southern California. If you've ever driven out to Palm Springs, it's that giant mountain that seems to explode out of the desert to the south of the 10 freeway.

There are several routes to the peak, one of which is to ride the tram and then take a reasonably short hike up from there. A much longer route is called cactus to clouds and is about 23 miles up with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain. We chose the next hardest route, up Deer Springs trail.

The Deer Springs trailhead is located less than a mile from Idyllwild. We pulled in to Idyllwild a bit later than we had intended and secured our permit. We hit the trail at 9:30 a.m. and started our way up.

The first seven miles were very gentle, gaining roughly 500 feet of elevation per mile. The scenery was beautiful with changing leaves in hues of gold and orange and lovely views down the mountain. The weather was perfect, nice and cool with a gentle breeze.

We averaged two miles per hour on the way up. For the last few miles we felt great. The seventh mile was the hardest, we gained about 1,000 feet in one mile, but even that wasn't very difficult.

We reached the summit of Mt. San Jacinto at 2:30 p.m. and ate lunch. The view from the top is spectacular especially on a clear day. We took a few photos and then headed down.

We chose a different and slightly longer route for our descent. We passed through several verdant cienegas. Cienegas are basically swamps, but beautiful and in the mountains. The three was hiked through were lush with foliage and water flowing through their muddy banks.

Our route down took longer than we originally estimated and the sun set while we were a couple miles from the trailhead. Being a former Boy Scout I am always (over) prepared and of course we brought our headlamps just in case.

For some odd reason, those last two miles seemed a lot longer than they did nine hours earlier! We ended up back at the car right around 6:30 p.m.

The Deer Springs trail is a wonderful route up to San Jacinto. It was great training for our upcoming cactus to clouds hike. We look forward to doing it again soon.

Penelope in the Red Light From The Sunse

The setting sun casts a red glow on the ground behind Penelope during our hike down from San Jacinto.

Dave and Penelope Atop Mt. San Jacinto P

Dave and Penelope pose for a photo after reaching the peak of Mt. San Jacinto.

View From Midway Up

The view is beautiful from halfway up the Deer Springs trail.

Click here to see more photos from our San Jacinto hike.

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Friday, October 24th, 2008

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Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

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Tamrac 619 and My Progression of Camera Bags

I have an addiction to photo gear. I own a crapload of equipment and I'm always buying new stuff to the delight of my accountant wife. Along the way I've gone through a number of camera bags, each progressively better than the last.

I started out with a smallish Lowepro bag when I bought my first SLR. It had this incredibly dangerous problem in which the plastic buckle that held strap on would randomly come loose. I remember when I was at Samy's Camera talking to a saleperson and told him about my problem. He said that's why I should use Tamrac, as it's the best bag around. Ever since then I've been a Tamrac guy.

I started out with and older version of the Tamrac 5502, which is a relatively small bag. It worked fine when I had one camera, one lens and one flash. As my photo equipment collection expanded, I quickly outgrew the 5502. I currently use it to hold my Sony PCM-D50 audio recorder, Sennheiser MD46 ENG mic, Sennheiser HD 25-1 II headphones and various cables.

While I still used this bag for my SLR, I bought a nice selection of medium format Mamiya cameras and lenses from eBay on the cheap. I needed a giant bag to hold all of them. Tamrac used to make a bag specifically for medium format cameras called the Tamrac 622 [photo here]. They no longer make it, but I found one on eBay and purchased it. It's a great (both in size and functionality) bag. I don't shoot medium format as much as I would like, but at least it's well protected in that massive 622.

My next bag was the Tamrac 5608. The 5608 holds two cameras with lenses attached along with several other lenses, flashes, HV batteries, etc. This worked well for me until I picked up the tack-sharp Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS lens. Unfortunately I couldn't leave this lens on the cameras that were in the 5608. At one point I missed an amazing shot of a hawk while I scrambled to change the lens.

The missed shot happened during my vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my lovely wife Penelope. Shortly after that we hit a local photo store where I purchased the Tamrac 617, also known as the Super Pro 17. It holds two cameras with lenses attached, including one with the 70-200 on it. It also has room for another lens, a flash, cables and various other accessories. I now use my 5608 to hold my flash gear. The 617 is awesome and is my current camera bag.

The Pro 17 has one problem, it doesn't have room for my laptop. Because of this I have a backpack with my laptop and cables in it and a camera bag. This results in me frequently being without my camera as it's a pain to carry two heavy bags. I recently went to Samy's to check out a bag that I've had my eye on for some time now.

The bag I've been lusting over is the Tamrac 619 also known as the Pro 19. This bag is awesome. It's wider than the Pro 17 so it has room for two or three more lenses. It also has side pockets which will let me stow either my audio equipment or HV battery packs. Finally, and most importantly, it has room for a laptop and cables.

I ordered the Pro 19 tonight from amazon. Once I have it, I will rarely be without my camera gear. Hopefully this will allow me to take more photos for fun, as opposed to just shooting when I'm on assignment. I'm really looking forward to its arrival, Tamrac bags are wonderful and I fully endorse and recommend them.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

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Monday, October 20th, 2008

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Mt. Wilson: 14 Miles, 4700 Feet of Elevation Gain = Fun!

Yesterday Penelope and I hiked to the top of Mt. Wilson. It was a tough hike, but well worth the views, plus it's always nice to get a good 6 hour workout!

We started our hike from the trailhead on Mt. Wilson Trail road at roughly 9:30 a.m. The first two miles of the trail was highly trafficked with dozens of day hikers. This part of the trail is also barren thanks to a recent fire and in the morning the sun really beats down on you.

After a mile and a half we passed a fork down to the First Water swimming hole. Once past First Water we hardly saw any other hikers.

3.5 miles into the trip we reached Orchard Camp. This was the halfway point so we stopped and had some snacks and hydrated. We met two mountain bikers at Orchard Camp, they were the only folks on bikes we saw during out hike.

After snacking we headed up to the Winter Creek trail intersection. The last half mile before the intersection was the hardest part of the hike. The trail was narrow and exposed at times and there was little tree cover to shade us.

Once at Winter Creek trail we were excited to only have another 1.7 miles to go and we headed up the half mile and 500 feet of elevation gain of switchbacks to the old Mt. Wilson Toll Road. We followed the old road a half mile and then we took the small trail the final .7 mile up to the peak.

I always let Penelope lead because I tend to walk to fast and tire myself out and she's great at pacing us. For the last leg of the hike she was doing double time and we made it up to the peak quickly.

Once at the top I saw the parking lot and the tourists that drove up and said, "Wait you can drive up here?" Of course I knew there was a road up, but it was still funny at the time. Once at the peak we sat at a picnic bench and ate our lunches before heading down.

Going down the mountain is obviously faster than going up. What took us over three and a half ours to go up took us just over 2 hours to come down. We arrived at the trailhead seven hours after we started out, which includes roughly an hour for our snack and lunch breaks.

So the final stats: 6 hours of hiking time, 14 miles and 4,700 feet of elevation gain. It was a fun hike, although not as visually stimulating as Mt. Baldy. I'm not sure if this will be a repeat hike, but we definitely plan to drive up and do the observatory tour at some point.

View From Mt. Wilson Peak

San Gorgonio rises above the smog in the distance in this photo taken from the peak of Mt. Wilson on Sunday.

Dave and Penelope on Mt. Wilson Peak

Dave and Penelope stand happily atop Mt. Wilson after hiking to the top in just over 3 hours on Sunday.

Mt. Wilson Antennas

A wide array of antennas cover a hill close to the peak of Mt. Wilson.

You can view more photos from our hike to Mt. Wilson here.

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Saturday, October 18th, 2008

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Friday, October 17th, 2008

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Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Blog Posts

Mt. Baldy: An Enjoyably Strenuous Hike

Three weeks ago, my lovely wife Penelope and I hiked Los Angeles County's tallest peak, Mt. San Antonio, also known as Mt. Baldy. It was a great day hike, with a hefty elevation gain and beautiful views of Southern California.

We started out later than we had originally planned, this was due to me sleeping in. I realized later that I slept in because I was worried about being able to complete the hike.

The route we took was 12 miles round trip, with over 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Those 4,000 fee up occurred in the first four miles of the hike.

We parked at Manker Flats and took the fire road up until we reached the Baldy Bowl trail. The trail cuts almost straight up from the road and is easy to miss, but we had a picture which helped us find it.

We headed up the trail for about two miles when we reached the San Antonio Ski Hut, also known as the Baldy Hut. At the hut we met some cool folks from the San Diego SAR team who fed us fresh baked cookies. After hanging out for a few minutes at the hut we continued on up the Baldy Bowl Trail.

Shortly after leaving the hut we reached some very steep switchbacks. It was tough going, and for the first time I can remember on a hike, Penelope was in no mood to make small talk. After we crested the last switchback she was feeling better and the chatting resumed, thankfully.

A few miles and another couple thousand feet of elevation gain later we were at the top. It took us roughly three hours to get to the summit. We sat down and enjoyed our well-deserved lunch. After eating we hydrated, put on a layer and headed down the Devil's Backbone Trail.

After the first part where the trail got narrow, I said, this isn't so bad, I wonder why people write that it is scary. A few miles later we got to the actual backbone, which was only a few feet wide with steep cliffs on both sides. It's not too bad in the summer, but according to my SAR teammates, it's quite frightening in winter when it's a giant ice-covered cornice of death.

When we made it down to the ski area we contemplated taking the chairlift down, but decided against it and continued down the fire road. The fire road isn't the most visually stimulating area and its long, gradual slope made for a somewhat boring end to the hike.

By the time we got to back to the car we were ready to get home, relax and have some tapas at Ciudad. We were exhausted, but happy that we made it, the whole hike took us just about 6 hours round trip.

Baldy was a great hike and we're looking forward to doing it again soon. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a vigorous day hike.

View from Baldy Bowl

The sky is clear in the view looking out from the first mile of the Baldy Bowl trail.

Mt. Baldy Peak Marker

This steel marker sits on the peak of Mt. San Antonio, AKA Mt. Baldy, the tallest peak in Los Angeles County.

Penelope Starts Down Devils Backbone Tra

Penelope starts down the Devil's Backbone trail after reaching the summit of Mt. Baldy.

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Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

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Monday, October 13th, 2008

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ISO: Adam Starr

I'm looking for my old friend from junior high: Adam Starr. We both grew up in the East Bay. We were both part of the Jewish Youth Group up there. I've looked for him on facebook and google to no avail. If you're around man, shoot me an email: [email protected]

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Friday, October 10th, 2008

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008

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Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Blog Posts

Jott Alternative: reQall

Thanks to an unfortunate functionality change at the speech-to-text service Jott, I recently switched to reQall. Current generation speech-to-text (S2T) services allow you to call a toll-free number, record a short message and then actual humans transcribe your speech into text.

On my commute to and from work, I frequently think of new ideas for projects or tasks that I need to complete. I simply hit the S2T autodial and record whatever is on my mind. The S2T service then emails me the transcribed text.

OmniFocus, which I wrote about recently, has a nifty feature in which it grabs an email from Apple Mail with a predetermined sender and subject. It then adds the subject, which has the note in it, to my todo inbox. I think that S2T is one of my favorite tools of all time.

When I first heard of Jott, I was a bit skeptical. I didn't like the idea of a random person in some random country being paid a pittance to sit in a call center to listen to my thoughts and transcribe them. As I thought more about it, I realized that I would rarely if ever say anything confidential to the S2T service. So I started using Jott six months ago and I loved it. It was in beta and totally free.

Jott had some features that I rarely used, like the ability to send messages to any of my contacts. It also had features that I used every day, including its core function, speech-to-text. Once my note had been transcribed, an email with the note in the subject appeared in my inbox.

Recently, Jott stopped its beta program. In doing so it created a free plan, called Jott Express, which still allowed you to do S2T. The deal-killer was the fact that you now had to visit their website to retrieve the transcribed text.

That change broke my OmniFocus script. OmniFocus was expecting the transcribed text to show up in the email. There went the value of the service for me. I initially considered paying for the service, but decided to sleep on it.

I twittered a request for a Jott promo code, but instead got a response from a friendly hacker to check out reQall.

ReQall has the same basic functionality as Jott, but it's free. So far I have been very impressed with reQall. Its voice interface is slicker and more responsive than Jott's. ReQall also does a better job of transcribing my voice notes than Jott did.

All in all I'm very happy with reQall. If they end becoming a paid service I would choose them over Jott in a heartbeat.

Related Posts: GTD with OmniFocus Jott: Free Phone Based Transcription Service Getting Things Done and How It Changed My Life

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Monday, September 8th, 2008

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My Grandmother's Eulogy

Vera Gordon, 1912-2008

Many of my favorite childhood memories involve food. The smell of dinner fresh from the oven; the flavor of delicious home-baked goods; the joy that fills a happy kitchen. These visceral patterns were imprinted in my mind frequently during my youth and are still with me today.

At the center of many of my epicurean memories stands my beloved Grandmother, Vera Gordon. Clad in her apron, a smile on her face, a wooden spoon stirring a pot of bubbling borscht. Her food was not just made with love, it was love. And I loved every bite.

For my Grandmother's 90th birthday, my loving mother Rhoda created an amazing book honoring her cooking. Entitled "Vera's Table" this wonderful tome contained Grandma's best recipes. Each recipe was presented with a story written by a family member. I now, more than ever treasure this book and the recipes and stories it contains.

From pickles, to potato salad, from apple pie to poppy seed cookies I could never get enough of the wonderful delights she made. The pies she baked from the apples her loving husband Murray grew in their backyard were magical to me. It is something I will never forget, the time in her kitchen at her beautiful house by the sea in Santa Barbara.

My Grandmother also never forgot those joyful times, and one of her favorite stories was one that I don't actually remember experiencing. I was only nine months old on this particular visit to Grandma's house. On her table she had a big bowl of freshly made guacamole. To her great surprise and amusement I pointed at the bowl at the table and demanded "Taste 'em 'cados." ... see, even then I enjoyed eating.

My brother Dan and I always enjoyed our family trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Climbing the trees in the yard, eating (of course), causing mischief like little boys tend to do. I recall one time my Grandparents had just installed a brand new redwood fence around their yard. My brother and I were playing in the yard when I decided it would be fun to knock out the knots from their knot-holes with a metal bar. I encouraged my brother to join in and pretty soon we had turned the nice new fence into a wooden version of swiss cheese. That was the only time I saw my Grandmother truly upset, and looking back on the situation I don't blame her.

As Jewish Grandmothers tend to do, Vera always had advice for me. In my teenage years, this wasn't always easy to hear. No teenage boy wants to be told what to do, especially not by his Grandmother. Now that I think about it though, everything she told me was true, I was just to stubborn to listen.

Now that I've grown up, for the most part, I can reflect on the knowledge my Grandmother imparted to me. She told me about what it means to be a mensch and encouraged me to do the right things in life. To have a family and to raise them well. She didn't just tell me these things, she showed me by example.

I like to think I inherited some of my best qualities from my Grandmother: my humor, my wit, and of course my modesty, but most importantly my love of food and family.

Vera Gordon was a strong woman, a loving mother, a caring Grandmother, a powerful wordsmith, an amazing cook and a lifelong inspiration to me and many others. She will live on forever in our memories.

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Friday, September 5th, 2008

Monday, September 1st, 2008

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TGIMOBEJ: The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronics Junk

I just recently recieved one of The Great Internet Migratory Box(es) of Electronics Junk (TGIMBOEJ). The TGIMBOEJ is an awesome box of random electronics that various geeks send to each other. The idea was started by Lenore over at Evil Mad Scientist Labs.

Basically you put your name and contact info on a Wiki page devoted to perspective TGIMBOEJ recipients. Then someone finds your name on said list, and either creates a new box to send you or forwards on the box they currently possess.

The rules are simple, take what you want from the box, add some cool stuff, and then send it on to someone else in the list. You can see the status of the various boxes on this wiki page.

I received a box called Big Box of Electronic Booty started by someone who didn't add their info to the wiki. The box then made it to Jen Grier, who sent if off to Sidney who then sent it to me.

I will be mailing the box off on monday to Logan from Binary Tide.

I picked out a few cool parts including some LEDs, a giant buzzer and some zip-ties. I added a giant LED, a potentiometer and some other cool parts including a 1GB SD card.

The TGIMBOEJ project is awesome, I'm looking forward to receiving another box some time soon!

Buzzer and more

One of the items I kept from the TGIMBOEJ was the big red buzzer (upper left). I haven't hooked it up yet, but I bet it's loud!

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accessories
accessories
urban
urban
outdoor
outdoor
crowd
crowd
outdoors
outdoors
sky
sky
building
building
electronics
electronics
hat
hat
part
part
architecture
architecture
lighting
lighting
art
art
nature
nature
concert
concert
night
night
plant
plant
coachella
coachella
glasses
glasses
recreation
recreation
land
land
footwear
footwear
jewelry
jewelry
shoe
shoe
photography
photography
indoors
indoors
furniture
furniture
performance
performance
light
light
vehicle
vehicle
transportation
transportation
machine
machine
city
city
device
device
portrait
portrait
club
club
electrical
electrical
blue
blue
stage
stage
room
room
rekognition c
rekognition c
life
life
bag
bag
animal
animal
microphone
microphone
interior
interior
audience
audience
handbag
handbag
rock
rock
cap
cap
car
car
computer
computer
music
music
metropolis
metropolis
musical
musical
road
road
performer
performer
instrument
instrument
headgear
headgear
activities
activities
leisure
leisure
baseball
baseball
tree
tree
shirt
shirt
hardware
hardware
necklace
necklace
wood
wood
entertainer
entertainer
water
water
pants
pants
cloudy
cloudy
wristwatch
wristwatch
table
table
screen
screen
chair
chair
coat
coat
fun
fun
grass
grass
monitor
monitor
musician
musician
bracelet
bracelet
mammal
mammal
floor
floor
party
party
arts
arts
speaker
speaker
performing
performing
baby
baby
flooring
flooring
flare
flare
pub
pub
cup
cup
pet
pet
scenery
scenery
food
food
jeans
jeans
wheel
wheel
path
path
spotlight
spotlight
junglescene
junglescene
housing
housing
beverage
beverage
couch
couch
weekend
weekend
design
design
jacket
jacket
plywood
plywood
alcohol
alcohol
office
office
nightclub
nightclub
container
container
flower
flower
canine
canine
hill
hill
child
child
dog
dog
cord
cord
darkness
darkness
summer
summer
pc
pc
area
area
boy
boy
laptop
laptop
street
street
park
park
happy
happy
glove
glove
equipment
equipment
cityscape
cityscape
desk
desk
landscape
landscape
singer
singer
shelter
shelter
sport
sport
wear
wear
formal
formal
phone
phone
smile
smile
sea
sea
guitar
guitar