Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Finished Stained Glass Project

In an earlier post, I wrote about a stained glass project that I was working on. As I sat around in my hotel room this evening here in Bethlehem (this Bethelehem, not that Bethlehem), I realized that I never got around to posting a photo of the finished project.

Please allow me to correct that oversight...

I'm pleased with how it turned out. Working on this was both educational and fun. :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Photos from India

Absent life’s daily interruptions, I would dedicate more time to one of my hobbies: photography.


Ironically I spend so much time travelling that I find it a challenge to find the time to organize and post my travel photos.

For instance, I have some photos that I took while in India last month. Here it is December, and it has taken till this week to post those them.

In my defense I could explain that since returning from India, I've been in Chandler Arizona, Hillsboro Oregon, St. Helena California, and Stafford Virginia. To round that out, I've been at home in Aptos for all of - maybe - a week or so. And later this week I'll be travelling to the east coast -- twice.

But what kind of defense is that, really? You show up for life, or you don't. You do what matters to you, or you don't. You make your dreams come true, or you don't. The choice is yours.

Yes, I'm busy. Yes, that poses a challenge. But there are people in this world facing challenges that expose my "but I don't have time" whining for the FWP that it is.

I'm grateful to have had the good fortune to spend my entire adulthood traipsing across this beautiful planet of ours. For me, the travels that I undertake and the photos that I bring home are my way of telling those with the ears to hear it that life wants us to live our dreams.

Okay, enough of the philosophizing. On to the photos of India.

I would like to begin with this photo...

One note about this photo... This never happened. Yes I took this photo of the iron pillar and the archway at the Qutub Complex in Delhi, but that blue sky with the fluffy clouds... That sky definitely didn't happen. I freely confess that I Photoshopped in the sky.

The whole two weeks in India were spent in a haze. No, I don't mean I was caught up in a whirlwind mixture of sights and sounds - one blurring into the other. Rather, I mean that each and every day and in every city, air pollution dominated the skies.

I've been subjected to this sort of relentless onslaught of air pollution many times before (I'm talking about you, Beijing), but I don't recall a time I've ever traveled throughout a country and encountered air pollution like this in city after city.

Mind you it's not my intention to look down on India and publicly shame them for their air quality issues. They have a challenge of balancing their desire to grow their economy against the need for natural resources such as breathable air. I endured the air pollution for two weeks. I don't envy the people trapped in it day after day, week after week, month after... You get the idea.

Call me an eternal optimist. There was at least one positive side-effect of the air pollution: Some of the sunrises and sunsets were beautiful. Consider, for instance, one of my favorite photos from the trip to India:

Whenever I think of the Taj Mahal, I think of the staggering amounts of white marble. But this sunrise photo presents the Taj Mahal in a very different light. Yes there is the white marble, but the color of the marble is muted by the haze. The Taj Mahal is framed by the mosque archway. The floor reflects the sunlight in the stone bordering what I assume to be stone prayer mats. The overall hue of the photo is brown. Brown, brown, brown, much like the skies of India.

BTW... Earlier when I wrote that part about how I was going to be travelling to the east coast twice this week... I was still in California at the time. Now I'm on the other side of these here United States where I'm pleased to report that the winter is thankfully mild.

I'd like to write more about each and every one of the photos, but I'm going to lame out for the time being and just provide links to the photos of Mumbai, Delhi, and Agra. For now, I've got to get some sleep.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

I Like to Score

Signed up for something different this weekend. I'm taking a class in making stained glass at Kiss My Glass.

In the photo below, you can see the 'homework' I did before the class began:

That's my plan for the piece that I'm creating. I created that plan a week or two ago.

Today I started on the project. As you can see from the photos below, I spent today scoring the different pieces of glass, cutting the glass, trimming the glass, trimming the glass, and lining the edges with copper foil.

As you can see in the photo above, I went straight after the hardest pieces to cut. It was a relief to get those pieces out of the way right at the start.

BTW... I'm talking about the purple pieces, not the beveled pieces. Whereas the purple pieces we the hardest ones to cut, the beveled pieces are the easiest by far. They're already pre-cut. :-)

After the tricky purple pieces, It was time for some straight cuts:

After taking a break with the straight green pieces, it was time again for some tricky cuts. Pieces 14-19 & 53 & 56 took some time an care:

After those, it was time for some more straight cuts:

All of my pieces are cut. :-)

I still need to wrap them with foil. Perhaps I'll go in early some week day to do that part. It would be nice to have that out of the way before the next day of class: August 15th.

I'm pleased with all that I learned to do today and appreciate Jackie Marr's instruction and patience.

Monday, July 20, 2015


See that flight path over there on the right? See how the flight was heading south from PDX and then it banked eastward?

That's me not flying home.

I planned on being back in Aptos this week, but an unexpected medical LOA for a co-worker led to a reshuffling of my itinerary. I wish my co-worker a speedy and fully recovery.

In the meantime, you might be wondering where that flight path took me. If you caught the mention of "Houston" in the title above that diagram, you'd be in the ball park.

But Houston wasn't my final destination. Instead, I hopped a (sigh... inevitably delayed) flight westward to San Antonio where I'll be spending the week. I'm through day one of this five day class, and I'm pleased to be teaching such an energetic and amusing bunch. That's always a great combination.

But back to Oregon.

What can I say about Oregon? Time permitting I could tell about the great time I had visiting Mom, my sister, and my two nephews. Or I could write about the wonderful time we had in Hood River attending Richard and Sabrina's wedding.

But time is short... Too short.

Though I could (and I suppose I should) post some photos of the trip (sigh... maybe one day I will), I'd like to take just a few moments to try to capture in words the lasting impression that I took from this trip:

I was humbled by the beauty that I continually witnessed throughout the time in Oregon. I've been to Oregon several times before, but somehow I saw it through different eyes this time. Perhaps on all the other occasions I was simply stupidly viewing what I saw through a snooty Californian's eyes. I could struggle and strain to capture the beauty I saw this time, but I suspect words will simply fail me. Instead I'll just say one more time... I was humbled by the beauty.

So no photos of Oregon tonight. Maybe one soon (the same thing I've said about Japan and Russia and the Balkans and Peru and...). Till then, here's a silly little video I captured flying into PDX...

Monday, May 4, 2015

Too Caught Up To Catch Up

In my last post, I optimistically said that I might possibly catch up on some of my photos. No such luck. Been having too good of a time seeing the sights and taking more photos.

Till I get around to those Tokyo photos and the news photos from this trip, you can see some 360° panoramic photos I've taken in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, and Japan (and plenty of other destinations before those if you want to work your way back through the archives).

BTW... The 360s are best viewed using a iOS device. When you go to the link above, you'll see a icon on the screen that looks like this:

Click that icon, then twirl around. The 360 will move with you. You can pretend you're right there in Tallinn or Riga or Villinius or Moscow or St. Petersburg or Tokyo with me. :-)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Catching Up In St. Petersburg

Здравствуйте from St. Petersburg. What am I doing in Russia? I'm on holiday (translation: That's "vacation" for y'all back home).

I see that my most recent post was about Beijing. That means I'm already behind. A couple weeks ago I was in Tokyo for work. In my off-time, I took lots of photos, but I haven't yet gotten around to posting them. Instead I spent the week between Japan and Russia laid up with a stupid cold, passing a certification exam required for work, and scrambling to get ready for this trip.

I've completed my post-camera editing of the Japan photos. Now I just need to find the time to post them. Today's likely going to be a shorter sightseeing day than yesterday, so I should be able to get to them shortly. Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, if you want to know a bit about what I've been doing this year, take a quick look at my work blog. Don't worry about understanding everything I wrote.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

More Beijing Photos

Two of my hobbies - besides collecting key cards - are travel and photography. I enjoy taking the photos, but I don't always get around to doing the post-trip processing (i.e. selecting, editing, posting, and writing about them) that I'd like to do.

The work that funds these hobbies often sucks up the time that I need to fully delve into them. For instance, I selected, edited, and posted the photos from the first trip to Asia last year, but I never got around to writing about them. You can see those photos here, herehere, herehere, herehere, herehere, here, and here. On the other hand, I haven't even gotten around to the photos from the other two trips to Asia last year.

But I'm on top of it this time with Beijing! I've already posted photos and written about Beijing Olympic Park.

In addition, just last night I completed working on the photos from the Beijing trip. If you want to see those photos but you're in a rush (or can't be bothered clicking through photo after photo after photo), you can see a video I made of them below.

(Click Full Screen button to enlarge)

Alternatively, if you want to see the same photos but you want to see them bigger and at higher resolution and without the cheesy royalty-free music, you can see them here.

Hope you enjoy them.

BTW... For all the other photos that I've posted but never gotten around to writing about, you can see them here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Beijing Olympic Park

I took on a photography project last week in Beijing. Given the large crowds of people in Beijing, I knew that time-lapse photography would be fun to create and watch.

One essential piece of equipment for creating time-lapse photography is something to keep the camera pointed in the direction you want and to keep it very still. Ordinarily that  piece of equipment would be a tripod. I rarely even use one at home, and I never travel with one.

I was forced to improvise. I had some success using a few 1 yuan coins to prop up the camera at the desired angle. Unfortunately it was a bit breezy, and the wind kept knocking over the camera. I rummaged through my backpack to find something better suited for the task. Ultimately I found that propping up the camera against a water bottle worked exceptionally well.

One thing that I like about not using a tripod in this video was that it forced me to shoot from the ground. I think the shooting from ground level make this video more interesting looking that shooting from 3-5' off the ground.

The other thing about shooting from ground level is that doing so drew a lot of attention from the people around me - or should I say behind me. You can't see it in the video, but the whole time I was shooting, there were half a dozen to up to twenty people standing behind me (and behind the camera) watching inquisitively. Alas none of the people are likely to see the video any time soon. The video is hosted on YouTube, YouTube is owned by Google, and Google is one of the main targets of the GFC.

The cold breezy night and crawling around on the ground reminded me of the efforts required to get the Chinny shot years ago. The big difference in this case was that I wasn't crawling around in penguin poop. :-)

On the way home from the airport, I saw about a half dozen billboards for the iPhone 6. Each featured a striking photo scaled up to billboard proportions. Underneath the photos the caption read "Shot with iPhone 6". [ BTW... I think it sounds totally pretentious the way apple never uses the articles "the" or "an" in front of the word "iPhone". ]

I assume the point of the ad campaign is - at least in part - to tout the high resolution of the iPhone 6 camera. The photos did, indeed, look mighty impressive. But there was one thing that quickly jumped out at me about the photos in the ad campaign: they're all daytime shots.

I love the versatility and portability of shooting with an iPhone. One thing that almost always disappoints me about the iPhone, however, is its poor performance in low light conditions. More often than not, I find any nighttime shots I take to be far less than stellar.

Given the poor low light capabilities of the iPhone, I'm rather pleased with how well this video turned out.

BTW... The video was shot on an iPhone 4S. Thinking of upgrading today. Happy Birthday to me. :-)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Proof Positive - I am the Best!!!

It's about time I started getting credit for just how awesome I am!

( Apologies to the writer of this poster. His/her/their English is much better than my Mandarin. )

Monday, March 2, 2015


Why am I in Beijing this week, you ask? I'm teamed up with a co-worker. Our job is to evaluate instructor candidates. As you might imagine, the language barrier can be a bit of a challenge, but that's how I approach it - it's a challenge.

That's "challenge" as in "good", not "challenge" as in "bad".

I've taken it upon myself to learn some Chinese Simplified characters. But as you can see from my notes below, I've been teaching myself a very small subset of Chinese Simplified... Let's call it "vChinese".

(Click to enlarge)

Why did I write "long" as the character for "hypervisor"? I've been transcribing the characters from slides that the instructor candidates are projecting onto a screen. Unlike me, they don't hang out on a slide blabbing on and on for 20+ minutes. I don't want to bust their groove and say, "Hey can you go back a slide? I'm not done clumsily transcribing yet."

For the record, "hypervisor" is 虚拟化 管理程序. Let's see you try to transcribe that on the fly.

Here for your edification – that's just a fancy word for "Brian I can barely read your block-capped English writing let alone your vChinese" – is a legible list of those words/characters:
lesson:  课 
storage:  存储 
network:  网络 
application:  应用 
physical:  物理 
virtual:  虚拟
virtualization:  虚拟化 
machine:  机 
architecture:  体系结构 
datastore:  数据存储 
private cloud:  私有云 
public cloud:  公有云 
hybrid cloud:  混合云 
availability:  可用性 
ESXi host:  ESXi 主机 
user name:  用户名 
password:  密码 
lab:  练习 
number:  号码 or 数量  (I haven't figured out the difference yet.)
file:  文件 
and:  和 
hypervisor:  虚拟化 管理程序 
synchronized:  同步
Datacenter: 数据中心
Cluster: 集群
Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN): 主机域名全称 
License key: 许可证密钥
System logs: 统日志
vMotion migration: 迁移??? 
vMotion: 迁移 (confirm)
Virtual machine port groups: 拟机端口组
Uplink ports: 上行链路端口
Virtual switch: 拟交换机
Physical switch: 物理交换机
Physical NIC: 物理网卡 
Virtual NIC: 拟网卡 
Cisco Discovery Protocol: Cisco 发现协议 (CDP)
Listen: 侦听
Broadcast: 广播
Listen and broadcast: 侦听和广播以及
Disabled: 禁用 Time: 时间
Outbound bandwidth: 出站带宽
Load balancing: 负载平衡
Source MAC Hash:  MAC 哈希
IP Hash: IP 哈希
Raw Device Mapping: 原始设备映
IP Address: IP 地址
Software: 软件 
Hardware: 硬件
Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP): 质询握手身份验证协议 (CHAP)
Driver: 驱动程序
Third-party Vendors: 第三方供
Most Recently Used (MRU): 最近使用
Fixed: 固定
Round Robin: 
Availability: 可用性 Scalability: 展性
Hard disks: 
Clone: 克隆
Snapshots: 快照
Powered off: 闭时???  闭???
Powered on: 开机 ???    动 ???
Boot options: 导选项
Yes: ???    是的???
Applicable: 适用Not applicable: 不适用
RAM: 内存
Compatible: 兼容的 
Destination: ???
Process: 进程???    流程???
Layer 2 network:  2 层网络
Prefix in front of number to turn cardinal (e.g. 1, 2, 3) to ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd):  
Operating System: 操作系  
Balloon driver: 内存释放驱动程序 (literally “memory release driver”)
 Balloon: 气球
Host-level SSD swap: 主机
Limit: 限制
Shares: 份
Non-Uniform Memory Access (NUMA)一内存访问
Hyperthreading: 超线
Load balancing: 负载平衡
Transparent Page Sharing (TPS): 透明共享
Memory Compression: 内存压缩
Swap file: 交文件
Available memory: 可用内存
NIC teaming: 网卡捆
Multipathing: 多路径
Traffic Shaping: 流量
Resource Pool: 源池
Selected: 选择Deselected: 取消选择
Task Manager: 任管理器
Error: 错误
Warning: 警告
Info: 信息
Verbose: 详细

And for my own reference...

1:  一
2:  二
3:  三
4:  四
5:  五
6:  六
7:  七
8:  八
9:  九
10:  十

Back in Beijing

I arrived in Beijing a couple nights ago. It is my first time back in about eight years. Much (a.k.a. most) of the Mandarin and Simplified Chinese I've picked up on previous trips has been unused for so long that I'm rusty - very rusty.

But it is slowly coming back to me. For instance, I think I've figured out this poster I encountered yesterday. I recognize the first two characters  北 and 京.

北 (bei) + 京 (jing) = 北京 (Beijing)

FYI...  北 = North and 京 = capital, so Beijing is the northern capital.

I'm also pretty certain that the characters 6 and 0 means 60. But don't quote me.

I think I understand the rest of the poster from context. From what I can tell, the poster says that piddly little firecrackers are not an acceptable way of celebrating CNY 2015.

Given the number of explosions I heard on the night I arrived, setting off fireworks anywhere, any size, and at any time is not only acceptable, it's apparently a requirement.

I've put some photos of my walk yesterday through parts of Beijing online. Enjoy. :-)

Monday, January 5, 2015


Herbert Woods of Roatan Ocean Adventures is a man of his word.

He led us on a tour of Roatan, Honduras recently. During the snorkeling portion of the tour, he was popping off shots on his GoPro, and he promised to send the photos. "Promises, promises," I thought.

But Herbert delivered.

I received his underwater photos by email today. I freely confess that his underwater photography puts my feeble attempts to shame.

I'll include some of his fabulous photos here in this blog post, but there's more of Herbert's photos to see.

If you find yourself headed to Roatan, I highly recommend ROA. Herbert knows the island, he knows the underwater sights, and he knows how to go above and beyond. I wish him success in his business!

Here are some of his photos...

I, too, took photos. Big surprise, I know.

Here's some of the underwater action I captured on the GoPro (forgive the hurly parts of the video)... 

This cute guy is a capuchin monkey.

By himself, he's quite cute.

But there were three or so others in the cage with him. They all seemed to delight in digging through my pockets, burrowing into my collar, commandeering my iPhone, and doing parkour on my head. You can witness the monkey mayhem here...

After visting the monkeys and other critters (you can see more here), we headed to Arch's Iguana Farm. I have never - ever - seen so many iguanas in my life...

If you'd like to see more, there's more Roatan photos here.

And time permitting, I'll post photos from Belize City, Costa Maya, and Cozumel soon.