2013 Book List

I didn't get through as many books as I had anticipated this year, but this was my book list of 2013.
  1. Next, Michael Crichton
  2. Red Sorghum, Mo Yan
  3. The Fault in Our Stars, John Green
  4. On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee
  5. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  6. Inferno, Dan Brown
  7. World War Z, Max Brooks
  8. Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith
  9. Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
  10. Present Shock, Douglas Rushkoff
Many more are going to get carried over until next year, starting in just a few days. I didn't even quite make the one-book-a-month requirement. Oh well.

A Tutoring Note

So, I get this e-mail from one of my tutees this afternoon:
Dear Kevin, 
I hope you are enjoying the holidays!
I also wanted to let you know that I got a 95% on the Chem test. I got the highest grade in the class. Thank you very much for your help.

Most Fuel-Efficient Automaker in America

Mazda Line Up 2014

Mazda is recognized as the most fuel-efficient automaker in the U.S, by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency., based on total 2013 production. (And Mazda has accomplished this without expensive hybrid technology.)

Link - http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/fetrends/1975-2013/420r13011.pdf

The Longest Minute

Video by Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.



Link - Moms Demand Action: No More Silence

The New Shiny

I started working on some automotive photography, now that I have a car. This was taken at the Silver Spring Library parking lot.

My Mazda3
Link - Flickr

Long Work Hours and Life

I am going to print this article out and post it on my wall at home. The words are the cold hard truth. They are words to live by.
Working 80-100 hours a week simply destroys people. It’s entirely unsustainable and unhealthy, so people quit. When they quit, I can guarantee they’ll tell their colleagues why. Not only is there a high employee turnover problem, but even worse, the company will have to combat a reputation for abusively overworking their employees. The long hours end up being extremely short-sighted on both the recruitment and retention fronts.
Long hours mean no one had the guts to tell the client, “We respect ourselves and our people enough to honor their time and their personal lives so we cannot agree to your deadline.” When companies cave to clients on these matters, they lose respect and diminish their status as an equal partner. With Servant and Master dynamics, long hours are just the beginning of what the company will agree to to make the client happy.
When teams of designers and developers regularly work weekends and late nights to hit deadlines, this is either 1) known and expected or 2) not known and unexpected. Either way a Project Manager didn’t allow enough time to complete the project in a sustainable, respectful manner and/or the PM messed up the estimate very, very badly and should likely be fired.
Link - What Long Hours Really Mean, We Are Mammoth

Drafts

I found this in my Gmail Drafts with no idea where it came from. I don't recall typing this up, and I have absolutely no idea what this is talking about. Dementia aside, maybe the best case scenario is that someone used my computer when I wasn't looking. Or maybe I wrote it while dreaming.
I am going to write the a note about.

Someone said that you needed something from me today. Once upon a time, there was a a wolf.......,... the somsome.overtone then she said that you need deed

This is What We Look Like

Today is Day 12 of the US government shutdown.

October 11, 2013. By Drew Sheneman for the Star-Ledger.

Link - Go Comics

Why Government Matters

Elizabeth Warren. She has a knack for communicating what everyone forgot about social contract and civil duty. Good on her.



Link - Sen. Warren on the Shutdown and Why Government Matters

Red Line Derailment

Perfect way to start the Labor Day holiday weekend.
The Red Line is shut down between the Fort Totten and NoMa-Gallaudet stations after a Metro train that wasn't carrying passengers derailed around midnight between the Rhode Island Avenue and Brookland stations.
Link - DCist

Film SLR

Earlier this week, I purchased a film SLR camera just because I thought that'd be cool. I settled on a used Nikon F100, which is perfectly compatible with all of my existing Nikkor D and G lenses. I ordered mine from B&H via eBay.

Unfortunately, I didn't time my research and purchase of any actual film, so my new old camera will be sitting around for some time until then. 

I doubt I'll put good use into the F100 but I think it's cool just to play around with from time to time. 

Interactive Map of DC In A Nuke Blast

Not sure how accurate these maps are, but they're incredibly entertaining... and scary.
Anyway, the Google Earth tool is completely interactive in the sense that you can set the destination point, the angle of viewing and the size of the bomb.  If you really want to get into it the tool will also let you pick wind speed and direction and spit out more accurate maps showing the effects of thermal radiation, fireballs and air blasts.
Link - InTheCapital

XXXII 2020 Summer Olympic Games

I'd like to see Tokyo 2020 happen.
The International Olympic Committee will elect the host city on 7 September 2013. Here is a look at the logos of each of the hopefuls (and not so hopefuls).

Switch to Lightroom?

In the process of doing a thorough audit of my photography gear and workflow, I'm starting to seriously reconsidering my photo managing and editing program. For about six years, I've been invested in the Aperture environment, and I've been running the latest Aperture 3 since it was introduced in 2010 (so long ago!).

I increasingly believe that post-processing is perhaps the biggest feature of digital photography. Don't get me wrong. It is highly respectable for photographers to try to get everything as perfect as possible in camera, and it is definitely something every photographer should strive to do. But there is so much more to digital photography than just traditional photography. I feel that not taking advantage of what could be done on the computer during post-processing is a shame. When I said this, I don't mean to take a reckless approach to Photoshop and image manipulation. Rather, tastefully use the computer to correct or enhance color, tones, distortion, etc.

In this regard, I'm taking a serious look at switching from Aperture to Lightroom. While I personally agree with Aperture's style of photo management and editing more than Lightroom's, as an outsider, Lightroom 5 looks incredible. So incredible, in fact, that it's worth disrupting my current system and workflow.

A potential switch to Lightroom isn't necessarily going to make my photos look better, but at the very least, it will allow some new potential and provide lot more flexibility, I think. I've been trying to hold out for Aperture 4 to see what new features will come of it, but it's getting harder and harder to wait on the sidelines. Lightroom appears so much more integrated and rich in new features; Aperture looks stagnant and a bit ordinary. Must investigate further.

Inequality and the NYC Subway

The results are exactly as you'd might expect.

The New Yorker:
New York City has a problem with income inequality. And it’s getting worse—the top of the spectrum is gaining and the bottom is losing. Along individual subway lines, earnings range from poverty to considerable wealth. The interactive infographic here charts these shifts, using data on median household income, from the U.S. Census Bureau, for census tracts with subway stations. 
Link: Inequality and New York's Subway

Air Travel, 2012 Update

Air France A380, Pont Superieur
Now that 2012 is over, I'm going to update my list of traveled airports and airlines from the previous year's post, Air Traveling in 2011.

2012 was a light-travel year for me. I've taken just one real vacation to France, flying between IAD and CDG. (Note: * indicates first time, in 2012.)

Airports (19)

ANC, ATL, CDG*, DEN, DTW, EWR, MSP, HNL, IAD*, ITH, JFK, LAX, MCO, NRT, PHX, SEA, SKC, TPA, and TPE.

Airlines (8)

Air France*, American Airlines, China Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Northwest Airlines, and US Airways.

By this year's end, I will have added at least Alaska Airlines to the list.