Monday, October 24, 2011

Oz Photos

I should be sleeping right now, but my body clock says otherwise. Figured I may as well make use of the time, so I culled some photos from the trip to Australia.

These photos were all taken with my Olympus FE-370 (a simple point-n-shoot), so please forgive the inferior ones.

There are endless possible subjects to photograph in Australia. I've loosely grouped these photos into a few simple categories.


Flowers and Plants
Seeing flowers in Australia reminds me of Hawaii. While I see many flowers I recognize, I inevitably see flowers unlike anything I've ever seen. They're not just different, they're crazy different.


Tiny Flowers (who can identify them?)

Swirly Flower (again, who can identify?)

Fern Tendril

Fronds Galore

While I haven't identify each of these birds, the birders on our Antarctica expedition would be proud of how many of the following birds I (presumably) identified correctly! Let's hear it for!

Little Pied Cormorant

Australian White Ibis

Laughing Kookaburra

Rainbow Lorikeet

Crested Pigeon

Australian Pelican


I'm pleased to report that each of the following were spotted in the wild. No zoos this time 'round.


A 5-6' Kangaroo We Saw On Our Last Day

A Spider (only about the size of my fingernail)

I've loved lighthouses for as long as I can remember. There's something comforting knowing that someone is looking out for you.

Fort Denison Lighthouse

Bradley's Head Lighthouse

Hornby Lighthouse

Wollongong Lighthouse

Wroght Iron
I hope the Aussies will forgive the comparison, but the wrought iron you see throughout Sydney reminds me of New Orleans. I could spend days on end capturing the wrought iron on camera, but I'd probably drive Alicia totally insane. ;-)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Back from Oz

We arrived back from Sydney yesterday morning. I'm always amused by the return flight when you arrive hours before the time you departed - a fun quirk of the International Date Line. Getting to experience the same Saturday twice makes up for the disappointment of losing a Friday on the outbound leg.

Purposely didn't do much yesterday - reserved the day to deal with jet lag. Took a leisurely walk at Rio Del Mar beach to the cement boat, took a look at some of the photos from the trip, and didn't do much else.

One photo has captured my attention. It's a photo of an flower that was growing in a nondescript spot behind a retaining wall at the hotel we stayed at on our last night in the Southern Highlands.

It was a pretty enough flower, but it wasn't likely to get much attention growing in anonymity where it was. And I don't know enough about flowers to even identify it. Anyone know what type of flower it is? [Update: The consensus appears to be iris.]

Something about the flower drew me in, so I popped off a few shots using my Olympus FE-370 point-n-shoot. I left the Canon 30D at home this trip. I figured this was my sixth or so time to Sydney... What was I going to see (and photograph) that I hadn't seen (and photographed) multiple times before? Why bother lugging around the 30D when the point-n-shoot fits so easily in my pocket?

I decided to take a different approach this time. I wanted to see what sort of photos I could get working within the limitations of the point-n-shoot. It doesn't have the resolution and clarity of the 30D. Its lens is inferior to the 30D's. Its lens can't zoom in the way the 30D can. Its macro capability is inferior to the 30D's. Its low-light capabilities are lower than the 30D's.

But rather than use the 30D's superior capabilities as a crutch, I decided to work with what I had. I had the point-n-shoot's limited capabilities and my eye as an amateur photographer.

Many of the photos I took with the point-n-shoot this trip were sub-par. Many were blurry. Many were washed out. Many just didn't 'work' for a variety of reasons. But some did work - one in particular.

BTW... When I said above that one photo captured my attention, it wasn't the photo above. It was this one...

To fully experience this photo, please click on it to see it enlarged.

This is the very same flower as in the first photo above. But whereas the first photo is a snoozer that does a gross injustice to the flower, this photo is vibrant with color. The photo is primarily yellow, but it is an explosion of yellow. And all the intricate details that are absent from the first photo command my attention in this photo. When I took the photo, I didn't even notice the cheetah-like pattern on the lower petal. The more I look at this flower, the more I see.

While all of the above is interesting to me from the perspective of photography, there's a deeper message in this whole experience for me. Beauty is all around us. Beauty can be found in new places and in new experiences, but beauty can also be found in the same old places if you're looking for it. Using the same old eyes that I've been using for decades but with a different perspective, I was able to see and experience a new beauty.

One last comment in closing... Earlier this year, we completed our goal of setting foot on all seven continents. That had been a personal goal for fifteen years. It took a long time to achieve that goal, but the years of stubborn (and some might have said foolish) dedication to that goal paid off.

When we landed at SYD the morning of October 15th, we accomplished another travel goal - to step foot on all seven continents within one year. That goal didn't take fifteen years to accomplish. It only took nine months.

So why that latest goal? Did the vacuum created by accomplishing the first goal leave a void that had to be filled? Or was it simply the pragmatic realization that this was likely to be the only chance I'd have in my life to achieve that latest goal? A little of both, I suspect. Regardless what the exact reason was, underlying all my travels is the desire (as I've written about previously) to show others that life can be an abundant experience - an experience that too often passes us by.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Steve and Dennis

Two great men in the industry have passed away - Steve Jobs last week (everybody knows about that) and now Dennis Ritchie.

Amongst the numerous Apple gadgets I've owned over the years, Steve (and Woz) created the very first computer I ever used. And Dennis created the first "real" operating system I ever used.

Both Steve and Dennis had a major influence on my life. I will miss them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What the FTK?

I suffered a self-inflicted blunder back in April. On the tail end of our trip to Japan and Hong Kong back in April, I transferred my photos from the camera to the netbook, deleted the photos from the camera, then turned around and found the photos weren't on the netbook.

Long story short... I was seriously bummed. I resigned myself to the very real possibility that the photos were gone. But knowing that not all hope was lost, I popped out the memory card, put it safely aside, and popped in another card.

A couple days ago, I emailed my friend David (he does computer forensics for a living) and he pointed me to FTK. Climbed the app's learning curve and voilĂ :

Photos restored. Thanks, David.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Giving the Boot the Boot

Went to the podiatrist and got the good news... I'm off crutches and out of the boot! Good riddance! Now I have a month or so of taking it slowly and I'll be back running again. But before I go running, I've got to rid of the shoes that got me in trouble the first place.

Speaking of shoes, on the last three or so flights, I've noticed a pair in Skymall (my entertainment during takeoff and landing when I'm deprived of my toys).

What has captured my attention is the amazing claims the advertisement makes - claims such as:

  • Exercise 20% longer with out fatigue  90%
  • Ankle & foot pain gone  85%
The thing that amuses me about the ad is that it screams out percentages such as 90% and 85% without ever attributing the numbers to anything or anyone. It's like they're just slapping numbers next to their claims and assuming that the big numbers will give the claims legitimacy.

Let me try it out...

93% of all statistics are made up on the spot.    96%

I also like the claim, "Over 500,000 Sold World-Wide". I can't help but wonder if that's a half million pairs or a quarter million pairs.

And then there's the aesthetic aspect of their product. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure that I'd want to wear a pair of shoes covered with a pattern of... uh... tadpoles?

If anyone would potentially be interested in a pair of shoes with shock absorbing springs in the heal, you'd think it would be someone like me who just got over a stress fracture... And yet, I don't think I'll be ordering a pair.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The King

Hello from several tens of thousands of feet above Santa Barbara.

On my way home from <sarcasm> lovely </sarcasm> Ontario, I saw an amusing billboard - amusing to me anyway - heading southbound on the 605 on my way to LAX.

[ Clarification: I was heading southbound, not the billboard. ]

I wouldn't ordinarily notice (or care about) a Budweiser sign, but I couldn't possibly miss the gargantuan slogan screaming out at the drivers passing by.

I wanted to snap a picture of the billboard, but reaching back into the trunk area while driving wasn't an option. So I went online in the Red Carpet club before my flight and did some hasty googling in the hopes someone had posted a picture of the billboard. Didn't find one, but I did find this:

"The King Never Looked So Good." If you watched the boob tube as much as I did growing up, you'd immediately get the "King" reference. If your memory needed at little jogging, the accompanying pictures of the (apparently) new Budweiser cans would do the trick.

My immediate reaction to the slogan was, "They're absolutely right!"

I imagine that the designers of this new can would be pleased by my reaction… so long as they didn't know me.

For those of you who do know me, you might have noticed that I'm a bit of a stickler (aka. pain in the ass) about language. Majoring in Linguistics only made it worse. One of the things about language that amuses and intellectually stimulates me is ambiguity.

Some folks are the "life of the party." Me, I'm the guy you want around at the end of the party. I'm the perpetual designated driver. I don't drink (never have), so my immediate interpretation of "The King Never Looked So Good" was they're right, drinking Budweiser has never looked like a good idea to me. Beer smells disgusting. Why would I want to drink it?

Let's hear it for truth in advertising!

I can see SFO off in the distance, so I need to go for now.