Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Vacation!
      

I'll be on the Big Island of Hawaii from October 26th through November 1st for my first official vacation in 3 years.

      

I'll be in some remote areas without Internet (gasp!) for a few days, so I may not reply to emails as promptly as I normally do.

      

I am taking my new Canon 20D and I will bring back hundreds of photos to post on Flickr.

      

These are the only 6 days this entire year that I will not be sitting in front of a computer working for 12 hours.

      

I will begin replying to emails on November 2nd.  Thank you for your patience.

      

Thanks,
Francesco

Oct 25, 2005 10:01 PM  Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Philosophy of Life.

I was talking to a friend about my philosophy of life and I summarized it in a few sentences.

I live my life such that I do what I want to the limits allowed by common sense and society. This is not to say that I "believe in" or support all the laws and government of the society in which I live simply because I happen to follow them. Rather, my code of ethics is dependent more on fear of incarceration and my desire to advance myself within society and accumulate more social status and power.

In other words, I live to preserve my life and livelihood. I don't do anything that, given the society I live in, would put me in danger of being arrested or would endanger my life.

Jul 31, 2005 09:59 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Oh. My. God.

Today I made grilled quesadillas for the first time ever.  Grilled Chicken Quesadillas to be exact.  They were INCREDIBLE.  Let the photos speak for themselves.

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

Grilled Chicken Quesadillas

Jul 26, 2005 10:00 PM  Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wide Angle.

After reading reviews and looking at sample photos for the past 4 days I finally decided to get the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L zoom instead of a handful of primes. It will be here tomorrow and should be a nice complement to my Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L lens.

I must say, the debate between the people who think the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L is soft and not worth the money and the people who keep it on their cameras all the time is intense! Apparently there used to be (or still is) great variation between copies of this lens. Some people are terribly disappointed and return the lens multiple times while some say it's the best wide angle zoom they've ever used.

Unfortunately, the photos on PBase shot with the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L are not very exciting or representative of a wide angle and don't do much to demonstrate the quality of the lens, one way or the other. I'm assuming that Canon would have fixed any issues that people were having by now since this lens has been out for a few years. In fact most of the reviews I read where people were having serious issues were written in 2003 or earlier.

It was a tough decision to pass on the primes again since I have never been a fan of zooms. It was hard enough deciding to buy the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L but I did it and I love it. I also realize that since I only shoot digital I'll likely never use the lens under the conditions necessary to squeeze out that last 1% of performance advantage that the primes have. I think I made a good decision.

I now have a lens to cover my entire normal shooting range from wide-angle to medium telephoto, and macro. The only other lens I want is a long telephoto (200mm and up) but that lens can wait for a while. I've got plenty to master for now.

Jul 26, 2005 09:28 AM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Prime lenses.

Someone on a photo list I belong to asked why I prefer prime lenses over zoom lenses.

Here's why:

1. Lighter lenses.  For those times I know I won't need to zoom, why carry a zoom?  Instead I take a load off and bring a good wide or medium-telephoto prime instead.  Some of the best photographers in history walked around with single prime lenses, usually 35mm or 50mm.

2. Better optics and performance.  In any lens line, primes are almost always better quality.  One exception would be the Canon L zoom lens line which is supposedly on the same quality level as Canon primes.   They are also quite expensive, so be prepared for sticker shock.

3. Much faster lenses, meaning they let in more light and are easier to work with in low light situations.  When was the last time you saw an f/1.4 zoom?   Didn't think so.

4. Smaller lenses.  Easier to pack and carry, more inconspicuous, not always banging into walls as it hangs from my shoulder strap.  A small 50mm will draw much less attention than a huge 70-200 zoom lens.  If you're just going out to impress the ladies, then by all means take your big zoom instead.

5. Better performance at f/2.8.  If the prime is a f/1.4, f/1.8, or f/2.0 then more than likely it will outperform a zoom at f/2.8, giving you more working room and better quality photos when you're wide open or in low light.

Jul 25, 2005 02:56 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Grillin and chillin.

Today I bought a Weber Genesis Silver B grill from Home Depot for $499.  It fits perfectly on our patio with plenty of room for the table and chairs.  It took about an hour to assemble.

To "break in" the new grill we decided to cook sirloin steaks, slice them into fajita strips and wrap them in flour tortillas with grilled green peppers and onions.  What a delicious meal!  It was so good I forgot to take pictures!  But here's a photo of the new grill out on the deck.

Weber Genesis Silver B Grill

I plan on using this grill almost daily.  One of my very few dislikes about our new apartment is the silly flat glass cooking stovetop.  It's not gas, it's not even a normal electric coil - it's just a flat glass surface.  Yes, it's easy to clean but it's the worst cooking surface I've ever used.  I love fire.

Every Wednesday at La Mesa Mexican Restaurant here in Omaha, Nebraska they have $1.49 Sauza Margaritas that are the best margaritas in Omaha for such a low price.  Michelle and I had a chimichanga combo plate, two carne asada tacos, nacho cheese dip, chips and salsa, and three Margaritas for $19 - incredible.  La Mesa is easily my favorite Mexican restaurant in Omaha so far.

Margarita Photo

Jul 20, 2005 10:06 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, July 16, 2005

New stuff.

I just accepted a second full-time contract!  It's only 11 weeks but I'm going to be very busy between now and October 1st.  With two full time incomes I should be able to save $20,000 over the next 11 weeks.  I love my job.

I'm also starting a new "working out" plan this week.  I want to start using the fitness room in our complex or possibly walking around the lake a few blocks from here.  My goals are to lose 10-15 pounds and to get toned/firmed up.

I want to get the Canon 100/2.8 Macro lens this week to fill out my digital kit.  Then all I will be missing is a wide angle and a long telephoto.

We're getting our new Weber grill on Wednesday.  It's the Genesis Silver B pictured below.

Jul 16, 2005 09:07 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Need some good computer speakers?

A friend on an email list I belong to asked for recommendations on good computer speakers and I thought I would echo my sentiments here as well. These speakers are incredible for $40!


http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002SQ0A4/102-2826448-4512149

I love high quality audio and loud music. When I lived alone, I had a $450 Klipsch 5.1 THX system for my MP3s and DVDs since I played and watched everything on my computer. When my girlfriend moved in I did two things.  I bought her a new computer with the speakers pictured above AND I started watching DVDs on a real TV.

At that point, the Klipsch system was overkill for just MP3s. I was getting ready to move and didn't want to drag the massive Klipsch system cross country so I decided to sell it. We were both blown away at how good the little Logitech speakers performed for such a low price, and my girlfriend loved her set!

Now I'm buying myself a set of these Logitech speakers for my own computer. That's how good they are.

Jul 12, 2005 07:52 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (7)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Music.

Here's a list of some composers whose music I enjoy whose names you've most likely never heard. If you have, please raise your hand and comment or email me. I'm betting I won't get a single response (except for John Cage - maybe).

Milton Babbitt
Iannis Xenakis
Gunther Schuller
Elliott Carter
Krzysztof Penderecki
John Cage
Edgar Varese
Francis Poulenc
Henryk Górecki
Arvo Pärt
Alfred Schnittke
Gyorgy Ligeti
Toshio Hosokawa
Kaija Saariaho
Luigi Dallapiccola
Paolo Perezzani

I've listened to what has been called "20th century classical" or "dodecaphonic" or "serialist" or "atonal" music since my third year of high school when I was introduced to such things by Ms. Audrey Jacques, a great Humanities teacher from Orange Glen High School in Escondido, California where I spent three years of my life.

My appetite for classical music was fed by Kingsley McLaren, the music director for the only classical music radio station in San Diego.  I took an Honors Music 101 course and Kingsley was the guest professor.  That was an incredible class and I remember spending many hours after class chatting with Mr. McLaren about classical music.  We both shared a love for Baroque, Renaissance, and 20th Century.

Jul 10, 2005 05:51 PM  Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 08, 2005

A new addition to the family.

Today the super-lightweight Canon 50/1.8 lens joined the 20D and 24-70/2.8 L lens.  Hopefully next week the 100/2.8 Macro lens will join our family as well.

Canon 50/1.8 lens

Jul 8, 2005 05:36 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My new baby.

This is my new Canon 20D and Canon 24-70/2.8 L lens. This is the best digital camera I have ever owned, the first digital SLR I have ever owned, the first Canon SLR I have ever owned, and the first SLR I have owned in 4 years.

I still have my Canon G3.  It has its place for silent or candid photography or when I just want to carry a small camera.  The shutter on the 20D is about as loud as the shutters on the Nikon F5 and Leica R8 I used to have.  So far that is the ONLY negative I have to report.

Jul 6, 2005 09:21 PM  Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

New camera!

Tomorrow morning I'll be the proud owner of a new Canon 20D and
Canon 24-70/2.8 L lens!  I bit the bullet and went for the best.  I decided on the
20D over the 350D yesterday, and today I struggled with lens choices.
It was between the 24-70 zoom and three primes from 20-85.

Even though I've always been a prime fanatic and have never owned a zoom lens, I went with the zoom because:

1. It's an L and I would expect it to be as good or better than
equivalent non-L primes

2. One lens instead of three - less to carry, fewer lens changes

3. It covers about 80% of the entire range that I normally photograph, so all I need to get in the future is a wide angle and a long telephoto.  I am mostly a street and portrait shooter so the 38-112mm effective focal length I'm getting is perfect for me.

I come from a Leica R8/M6 and Nikon F5 background so I'm used to
heavy, high quality, and expensive glass - that was not a negative to me.
I expect to keep the lens for many years (unless I move away from the Canon brand) and the body maybe 3 years.

Jul 5, 2005 06:23 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (7)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Moving In.

The moving truck arrived today with our belongings - 12 days after we left San Diego.

We hired United Van Lines to move our 3,000 pounds of stuff from San Diego to Omaha for a "not-to-exceed" rate of $2500.  They gave us a wide spread of 5-15 days, so they were technically on time.  The two San Diego guys who loaded our stuff 12 days ago were amateurs compared to the father and son team from Minneapolis who moved us in today.  The two that moved us in today were very thorough, clean and respectful, talkative and friendly, and knowledgeable.  The two from San Diego were sloppy and unprofessional.

Overall, I would recommend United Van Lines for a cross-country move.  After all the horror stories I read of people getting ripped off by scandalous companies, I did a few weeks research and decided on the slightly more pricey United Van Lines simply because they had no complaints that I could find and they are a well respected name.

It took the guys two hours to unload and move everything in.  We then spent the rest of the day (about 8 hours) unpacking, cleaning, vacuuming, assembling, wiping, washing and organizing.  We got about 75% of everything done in one day!

Jul 2, 2005 09:46 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New furniture.

Our new furniture arrived today.  It looks better in our living room than it did in the showroom.  We bought a sofa, loveseat, coffee table, and end table for about $1000.  The sofa and loveseat are a plush "mocha" brown microfiber fabric.  The kind that leaves a pattern everytime you wipe your hand across its surface.

Jun 29, 2005 09:39 PM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

First week in Omaha.

The road trip was fun.  Long, hot, and desolate but still fun.  We sidestepped the wildfires in Arizona, had some incredible Mexican food in New Mexico, ate the best burger in the world in Texas, drove through a sandstorm in Oklahoma, and enjoyed the small back roads of Kansas.  It only took three days of driving to make it from San Diego to Omaha - between 6-10 hours of driving each day.  We took a bunch of photos along the way - I'll post them later.

The Internet was on when we got here - that made me happy.

I'm already back to work and waiting for a truckload of new living room furniture this week.  The moving truck with the rest of our belongings arrives on Friday, so this weekend will be another one filled with moving and sweat.

Jun 28, 2005 09:24 AM  Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (6)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

A New Beginning...

Today is my last day in San Diego, California for a long time.  I've lived here my entire life - that's more than 30 years in the same place.  Yes, I've traveled a lot, but I've always come home to San Diego.  Starting tomorrow, that all changes.

Tomorrow morning a big truck comes and takes all of my possessions (except for what I can fit into a car) across 2 time zones to the state of Nebraska.  A few hours later, Michelle and I will get in a car and drive across the country for 4 days.  We'll arrive in Omaha on Friday and move into a brand new apartment.

Our new apartment is twice as big as where we live now and will cost $400 less per month.  The building is brand new and we picked our apartment while it was still under construction.  It's in a nice and central part of town, close to everything.  I sold my car a few weeks ago, so I'll have to borrow Michelle's car to get around for a while.  I'm still working from home, so that's not a big deal for now.

Moving cross-country is very purging.  I've moved before, but never more than 15 miles.  I always get rid of a few trash bags of stuff when I move, but this time I got rid of enough to fill three dumpsters.

I don't know anyone in Omaha except for Michelle and her family, and 2 fellow web developers I met online.  I've been there about 10 times in the past two years, so it's not all brand new.  I am looking forward to the slower pace, the more relaxed lifestyle, the less pretentious people, and the more natural surroundings.  I'm also looking forward to many road trips across the Midwest.

I think Michelle will be happier back in familiar surroundings.  She never really made very many friends in San Diego and she completely changed her lifestyle by moving here.  I don't think she was every truly happy.  I know she enjoyed the cultural diversity and awesome climate of San Diego, but she never really got out enough to enjoy it.

I'm burning mix CDs for our long drive right now.  I made 7.  We'll also have our combined 250 CDs in a case in the car.  That should be enough.

It's midnight.  The movers come at 8 tomorrow morning.  We're getting up at 6am, showering, packing toiletries, checking email one last time, packing computers, and waiting...

I'll check back in from our first hotel stop in Scottsdale, Arizona tomorrow night, if the promise of wireless Internet comes true.  If not, our 2nd night is in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Talk to you soon.

Jun 19, 2005 11:30 PM  Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (4)

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