Back to Roots

It is sad to say that this has been the absolutely worst semester of my academic life thus far. What makes it worse is that I knew this was going to happen. Second semester, sophomore year. This is the same semester I had Ms. Ottey after moving up from Dr. Katz. Chemistry did not go well then. All five of my classes do not go well now. I am certain it cannot get worse than this; it can only go up from here.

If this is any indication, and if history is any guide, junior year should be my best year. Getting a 100 in both AP Physics and AP Chemistry for both semesters was fun. I cannot wait until that time comes, but for now, I will wait patiently.

Until then, amid numerous instances of bad news, failure, and mediocrity, I will look back to old roots for comfort and guidance. Humility. Reliability. Accountability. And most of all, familial obligation.

Mediocrity

Why settle for mediocrity or failure?

It is simple. It is because sometimes, we are just not good enough. It is because of the people we work with. It is because time and luck are not on our side. Other times, however, it is just because.

It is karma at its finest.

Playing with HDR


I honestly have no idea what it really does. All I know is that it has the ability to make regular pictures interesting. I have used this technique in yesterday's POTD and today's POTD.

HDR stands for high dynamic range, and it is an imaging technique that allows for a greater range in exposure than what would typically be seen. What comes out of all of this processing is an image that has high (or exaggerated) dynamic range.

I still have very little idea what this really means.

Camera Comparison

I went to the mall today, going to Best Buy to check out the Canon PowerShot G9 and the Canon EOS 40D, and to Target to discover that they had the Canon EOS Rebel XSi (450D). Biggest complaint of each during my few minutes with each one today.

G9: Terribly small zoom nub.

40D: Heavy and great rubbery smell.

XSi: Hard to access absolutely any manual controls.
Interestingly, of all these, I think I like the Canon G9 the most.

31

Yesterday's POTD marks the 31st in the series. Just 334 days to go. Oh boy ...

Machine Shoppe

Machine shop today to finish off the bulk of the air motor project. It is nearly complete. All that is left is the technical stuff and paperwork. One more shop visit to see if it'll all fit well enough. Today's POTD is a sample of what we have done so far.

[ -_- ]

I created a new Flickr set titled, [ -_- ], which is a collection of my favorite/best/artistic shots. Thinking back, I think I looked for photos that I took without the intention of documenting my life and my journeys.

I particularly like the black and white ones for some reason ...

Edit: I renamed it "[ -_- ] Favorites".

My Case for a G9

I really, really, really want a Canon Powershot G9. (12.1 MP, 6x zoom, 35-210 mm, ISO 1600, 3" screen, RAW)

Because of its cost and features, people typically say that if I were to get a DSLR, I should not get another point and shoot camera and save the money for a better lens. I find this especially true, especially when I need the money for anything for photography in the first place (i.e. DSLR).

I am not comparing a purchase between a DSLR and the Canon Powershot G9. I am quite certain I will want a DSLR when funds come my way. But I am in need of a portable camera that I may carry with me all the time. My Sony DSC-N1 is getting more and more inadequate. It never was, actually. Thinking back now, it is not a great camera, but it was very innovative at the time. It lacks the image stabilization that a lot of current models have, and its ISO setting maxes out at a mere 800. It gets grainy even in sunlight. And it is at best a camera built for snapshots. All this is made especially worse since now there are blemishes on the inner part of the lens or sensor and the 3" screen (by virtue of a touch-screen) is sadly scratched, and it hard to view through my photos.

The Canon G9 is no where near being a compact camera, though. It is about 1.6" thick, so it does not fit in the pocket well enough. But I am willing to carry it over the DSLR on an every-day, casual basis. I've read reviews that a few camera review sites had up, and one notably said that while most point and shoots makes snapshots, the G9 is able to create real photos. (Of course, it being a little camera, it does not compare to the sharpness that is achievable by a DSLR with a good lens.) It offers full manual controls without the need of menus. It has a lot of the functionality and range of usability without needing to haul a variety of lenses. It is a monster, and it is the professional's little camera of choice.

What should I do now?

I have printed out a full page image of the camera in question. And it is posted on my wall. I will stare at it until I get money to get one or get sick of it (whichever comes first).

Old Taiwan Photos

I started processing the thousands of photos I have from my solo Taiwan trip during Winter 2006-2007. I was there for New Years too! I will be the first to admit that most of these photos came out pretty poorly, but they have sentimental value more than anything else to me.

I am starting backwards, from my last day to my first day. So far, I went through 4 major albums:

Last Day in Taiwan
Xin Zhu
Visit to Taipei
Around Taiwan in 3 Days

The Hans Returns

Welcome back Hans, after three weeks of being MIA. That is all.

Edit:

1. The Phantom Hans
2. Attack of the Hans
3. Revenge of the Hans
4. A New Hans
5. The Hans Strikes Back
6. Return of the Hans

- by Myra, Jonathan, and Kevin, in M212

ESC Year End Banquet 2008

Tonight, I attended the Engineering Student Council's year end dinner party. It was quite fun. Free food from the Statler Hotel, so what could go wrong? There was fancy chicken, salmon, and steak, and fruit, etc. I did not photograph the food as I usually would have. This being a higher class event, I did not feel comfortable doing so. I did snap a few shots, here. In the above photo, from left to right: Tracy, Kevin, Eric, Ojus. Tracy and Ojus were my co-chairs for Diversity Dinner 2008. Eric was the head of events, and will be next year's ESC president.

Today's POTD came from here too.

Old Photographs (from N1) 2

More Flickr retroactive albums are online. A new Flickr collection was created, titled "Travels".

They include:
Hoover Dam
Las Vegas
Disneyland

Posting About Ricky's Cookies

Today, Ricky's USPS package finally came in. It took about a week, and his cookies are finally here. Special photos, per Ricky's request, were posted here, on Flickr. Nothing too special.

Cookies were good. Thank you, sir. May I have some more?

Old Photographs (from Sony N1)

I have decided to engage in the process of adding some of my previous photos, taken prior to getting a Flickr account.

These albums and sets span most of what happened post-graduation in 2006. I am doing them in reverse order, with the more recent albums first. These were before I started to truly care about photography, so they are more documentary than artistic. I tried to fix them in post, but to little avail.

They include:
Fall 2007 Misc
Thanksgiving Day Parade
Keli at Cornell
Fall Break with Will
Move In, Rush, and Random

Continuing Down the Cascadilla

I few more shots here. I personally found them boring because of its lack of uniqueness. I guess it is because this set, called "Cascadilla Creek", has too much in common with the one I took yesterday. It is the same creek which becomes a gorge. Today, I looked at the creek (shallow water) side.

I wanted to practice a little more macro today with inappropriate lenses. It didn't go to well, but it was fun nonetheless.

Aspect Ratio for POTD

After playing with the D40 yesterday, I have decided to switch POTD's aspect ratio from 4x3 to 3x2. The result will be more of a widescreen view, thereby making things appear better that they are. Check out today's POTD.

In case you did not know, most cameras (of the point-and-shoot variety) give an aspect ratio of 4x3. This is similar to what televisions project as letterbox. These days it just doesn't look too appealing. DSLRs on the other hand, shoot in 3x2 (or 6x4) and it is more standard. After being reminded of this fact, I will be switching the POTD aspect ratio to 3x2. I will still shoot with the Sony N1, however. I just have to be more careful with my framing, since I will fix it in post.

Edit: There is a 3x2 mode on my point-and-shoot that I forgot about. Nice...

Cascadilla Trail

Today after spending over four hours in the machine shop (getting lucky in the morning for a lottery on one of the machines in the early morning), I decided to do something out of the ordinary. It was such an awesome day out today, I decided to go shooting with my Nikon.

I will cheat with today's POTD by using a D40 photo, rather than from the Sony N1 because I had too fun walking down and back Cascadilla Trail. I saw more people there than I had expected but all was well. I got into photographer mode, and I did not care. It was very relaxing, and I throughly enjoyed it. Because of the high contrast between shadow and sun, most of them came out odd. Just 18% were deemed good-to-show by me, mainly because of this huge difference between shadow and sun, and because a lot of what's in the gorge is repetitive. Haha I need some help, but I hope you like the pictures, on Flickr.

Condensed Soup

While a blog typically is not a journal, and I shouldn't write about what I have for breakfast every morning (I usually have water for breakfast, if I'm lucky), I will do exactly that.

A few night's ago I went to the store and I picked up the plainest can of soup I could find. It was small, and cheap, and I decided to have it for breakfast this morning. While I was preparing to microwave the Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup, I read the instructions on the can and it told me to add a can of water to the soup. Then (and only just then), I realized what "condensed" meant. Man . . . what a dumbass.

Yeah, it turned out too, that today was definitely not my day.

Dalai Lama Interview


After seeing the Dalai Lama give a talk here at Cornell early last semester, I became so facinated by his Holiness. He has an amazing character.

Here, he gives an exclusive interview with NBC's Ann Curry in Seattle. It's found on the Nightly New's website. He talks about the Beijing Olympics and how we should not boycott the Games this summer. He preaches nonviolence, but he is not against the protests that have taken place in recent days.

I Hate Technology . . .

. . . when it doesn't work. I hate it more when you need it quick and functioning. Right before a presentation, for example. I particulary hate it when the computer is a Mac--not for the fact that it is a Mac (because computers fail one time or another), but more for the fact that people *always* have to laugh or chuckle for some reason. I don't get it. Macs are definitely are not immune to problems.

I guess it's interesting to see that people regard the Mac with high standards. Or is that just wishful thinking?

Afternoon Shadow 2

For today's POTD, I had a lot of options. The day was good; the weather was fine; the sky was blue. There were many things I had in mind of photographing. Mondays are generally good. I have most of the day free, and I have to walk pretty far to get to work, where I sit in front of an iMac for the better part of six hours. I have many more ideas lined up for Mondays, but I never seem to get a chance to post them because of more current photos.

Today's POTD was taken during lunch. While it is not the best photo (e.g. it is not sharp, or slightly out of focused), I like it a lot. I just really like cookies!

I decided to skip the usual dinner at Trillium and on the way back to my room, I walked past the bike rack which was the subject of the POTD of Sunday, March 30, 2008. It was at the most opportune time, it seemed. I ended up with something like this. Same bike rack. Same sun. Different shadow.

Monday Morning Blues

Good morning.

I did not finish what I needed to finish last night. I stayed up late working on MatLab code, and I was stuck trying to get the error checks on the user's input just right. It took more over four hours. Goddammit. We need a user's manual for the program too, so that needs to get done.

This morning, I was reminded that the Canon Rebel XSi is due on this month. It seems is it finally rolling out, and Camera Labs has posted a inital review here. I'm trying to decide between the XSi and the 40D. the XSi is much cheaper and generally sufficient for my needs, but 40D has better performance overall, better build quality, and it has bad-ass-ness that the XSi does not have.

What did you have for breakfast? I did not have any this morning. Not even water. [Sad face goes here.]

Damn You, Apollo

I went out to pick up some lunch today from the Apollo Chinese Restaurant. At the beginning of this year, I found it to be my favorite cheap place to eat at Collegetown. A rice box with two items of side vegatables or meats cost only $4.75, which was cheap by Collegetown standards.

After the Winter Break, I returned to Cornell early to work at CIT, and immediately off the bus, I went back to Apollo to order some dinner. It turned out they raised the price to $4.99. Gone are the days I get back a quarter in change. Now I get merely a penny. Man, how I miss that quarter.

Today, they posted a notice that the same $4.75 order from less than a year ago will again raise its price. This time, to $5.50. The economics of the situation says that the premium for the mediocre restaurant that is Apollo is too high. There are now better alternatives around. Look out, here comes the Substitution Effect!

I'm sure not going to return to Apollo as often as I had during the beginning of last semester. Though I have said the same before, after the Winter Break price hike. I would be curious to see, however, how much demand would go down for this once popular restaurant of cheap food with a lot of variety (at least to the Chinese crowd).

Damn you, Apollo. Damn you, royally.

Nasty Cookies

I bought these cookies from Wilson Farms Thursday night. They reminded me of the cookies I had when I was a kid, in elementary school. I remember them being fairly decent.

The ones I had today, however, were nasty. I am very diappointed. . . . and am sick from it now.

From the touch

Ideally, today would be a day of work. The good thing is, there is an end in sight. I just don't know how or when I'll get there. I've been diverting myself with my website. Lately, with a few minor tweaks, USuMBS.com just looks a lot better. I am not sure why. Also i am nearly done getting content to every page. So that's good. I just hope the website won't get in the way of what I need to do today. Projects and homework and exam for Tuesday. Tuesday seems to be the big day. Hmm.

I guess I should get started by getting out of bed now; I am writing this from my touch.

If I Found a Penny on the Ground . . .

I would pick it up. Only if no one was looking. It is as simple as that. I take care to notice whatever money that comes my way now, more than ever, in order to fund my new addiction that is digital photography.

I did so today, in fact, on the way up the stairs to my room. I had purchased my second dinner of the evening from Subway right across the street. I had a delicious Veggie Patty footlong sub. I'd recommend it.

Now, I must get back to work.

I Love Cookies

I did not take this photo.

Revisitation

I'd like to revisit this blog, simply because I feel the need to write something.

I find that Blogger has a particular aura about it that makes it unique from all other blogging websites I've tried. It presents things plain and simple, gets to the point, and encourages the expression of true thoughts and feelings, rather than the lavishness.

It facilitates writing and posting better than any other web app I've tried so far.

I find that it is a great place for solemn writings. See it as you will.