Six New Portfolio Inductions

I’ve added some new pictures to my portfolio over the last couple of weeks. This brings the total portfolio size up to 74 (out of 7,958 images) for a representation of 0.9298% of my photos. My goal is to have my portfolio represent about 1% of my total pictures, so that’s pretty close. Enjoy!

Wooden Door with Spikes
Wooden Door with Spikes

Business Man Selling Purses in Rome with Dog
Business Man Selling Purses in Rome with Dog

Dave
Dave

Dunstan's Portrait
Dunstan’s Portrait

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada
Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada

Eiffel Tower Leg
Eiffel Tower Leg

Not the Greatest Start

EDay’s isn’t off to the greatest start. It started snowing at 1am today, I ended up vomiting, the Fireworks have been postponed indefinitely (but won’t be happening this weekend for sure), and it’s still snowing and cold. It’s supposed to be spring!

Microloan

‘If you’ve got 25 bucks, a PC and a PayPal account, you’ve now got the wherewithal to be an international financier.’ — CNN Money on Kiva.org

Microloans have always interested me as a way of support growth and independence in third world countries. I basically have this “nest egg” of tithe I’ve been sitting on since the end of last semester and a microloan seems like a good way to start using it. I found a site, Kiva.org, that does just that. I took the plunge today, loaning $50 to my new friend, Teymur, from the Salyan region of Azerbaijan. Teymur is an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) from the Armenian-occupied territory of Azerbaijan, Lachin region. He is married and has a child. Apparently, I should be getting updates from Teymur, so I’ll post updates when I get them. The repayment period is 14-18 months and is interest free, as in I make no money. Teymur will pay back exactly what he borrowed, no more and (hopefully) no less.

Interestingly enough, Kiva has experienced a 100% repayment rate. That’s pretty amazing. Even more amazing is that “[i]n the past 30 years, over 100 million of the world’s poor have received a micro-loan and demonstrated a >95% repayment rate.”

I’m also thinking about sponsoring a child through Compassion.

The RIAA Pendulum

I remember Dad telling me about pendulums in the ski industry a long time ago. I think it had something to do with skiing versus snowboarding and how after many years of increasing snowboarders, skiing was making a comeback: the pendulum effect.

I think many industries can be modeled the same way, including the lawsuits being brought by the RIAA. Which reminds me, guess who won the “Worst Company in America 2007” award? Yup, the RIAA, which really equates to Warner Music, Universal Music, EMI & Sony-BMG, was voted at the worst company in 2007. Bravo guys!

I digress back to my pendulum.

In recent months, I’ve come across a number of stories that constitute a severe hampering to RIAA’s recent attempts to extort recoup money from pirated music. We’ve all head the stories of that one mom fighting off the RIAA and winning.

I use “that one mom” in a generic sense. There have been several instances of this, with the accused typically stereotyped as a “soccer mom” who can’t even check her own email; or better yet, doesn’t even own a computer. In fact, as far as I know, the RIAA has never won a case when it actually went to trial. NEVER!

A few weeks ago, there was a FoxTrot strip parodying that fact:
foxtrot.JPG

The pendulum isn’t swinging back the other way yet, but I think it’s certainly slowing down.

Living in Colorado, I think there’s some unwritten rule that says I must hate the Nebraska Corn Huskers. In this case, I’m making an exception:
From www.boingboing.net:

The University of Nebraska is so pissed off with the RIAA’s outrageous requests to help rat out students who file-share that it has sent the RIAA a bill for the time the University has wasted dealing with the RIAA’s demands. Go Corn Huskers!

I tip my hat to you, Huskers.

There’s also this sickening story about WB suing a disabled Florida man:
From recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com:

Although the defendant John Paladuk, an employee of C&N Railroad for 36 years, was living in Florida at the time of the alleged copyright suit, and had notified the RIAA that he had not engaged in any copyright infringement, and despite that the fact that Mr. Paladuk suffered a stroke last year which resulted in complete paralysis of his entire left side and severely impaired speech, rendering him disabled, and despite the fact that his disability check is his sole source of income, the RIAA commenced suit against him on February 27, 2007.

via BoingBoing

Can’t imagine there’s great public relations on that story.

Then there’s this tale:
From www.boingboing.net:

A California man got out of his music-sharing lawsuit by having his lawyer send a sharply worded letter to Sony Music, the plaintiff.

The letter threatened to sue Sony for malicious prosecution, citing the crummy evidence used by record companies in other suits, and on receipt the letter it, Sony chickened out and withdrew the suit.

Remember those Microsoft Word Templates you could get to write up your last will and testament? How long until someone creates something similar for being sued by one of the RIAA members companies? (Side note/interesting fact: People aren’t sued by the RIAA, they’re sued by an individual music company that is a member of the RIAA. The RIAA more or less exists to deflect the bad PR from actual record companies).

The pendulum continues to slow down and it’s now only a matter of time before it starts swinging the other way.

576 Megapixel Camera

I’ve always wondered about this, so I’m glad I was finally able to get an answer. Long story short:
From www.kottke.org:

The human eye is equivalent to a 576 megapixel camera and has a nighttime ISO of 800 (~1 during the daytime).

It’s actually pretty cool how this guy figured it out. I read through most of the material and while I didn’t go through and check all his calculations, it seems pretty solid to me. Here’s the good stuff:

From www.clarkvision.com:

Based on the above data for the resolution of the human eye, let’s try a “small” example first. Consider a view in front of you that is 90 degrees by 90 degrees, like looking through an open window at a scene. The number of pixels would be
90 degrees * 60 arc-minutes/degree * 1/0.3 * 90 * 60 * 1/0.3 = 324,000,000 pixels (324 megapixels).
At any one moment, you actually do not perceive that many pixels, but your eye moves around the scene to see all the detail you want. But the human eye really sees a larger field of view, close to 180 degrees. Let’s be conservative and use 120 degrees for the field of view. Then we would see
120 * 120 * 60 * 60 / (0.3 * 0.3) = 576 megapixels.
The full angle of human vision would require even more megapixels. This kind of image detail requires A large format camera to record.

Southwest Airlines Blows

I almost always fly United (insert key notes from Rhapsody in Blue now). I flew out on Southwest because it was comped for me and I’m never one to turn down something free (ok, technically it wasn’t free…but it was free-r). I’ve never flown on Southwest before I, so it was a completely new experience. There’s no first class, in fact, there are no seating assignments at all. There are boarding classes (A, B, and C) and that’s it. A’s board first, then B’s and finally C’s. You can sit wherever you want.

Here’s my gripe. I arrived and got checked through earlier enough where I could have caught the earlier flight to Denver. I went up and asked and they wanted a $121 to catch the earlier flight. A $121!

Apparently, this was due to the fact that I got such a good deal on the flight and the difference would have been the difference between my flight and a “regular” flight.

On United, I can standby for any flight I want on the day I’m flying for free. I just let them know I want to try and catch the flight on standby and they put me on the list. Simple.

My other gripe, who was a heart in their logo?!

[tags]southwest, southwest airlines, united, united airlines[/tags]

Shutdown Day

In just a few seconds, Saturday will begin and Shutdown Day will begin in my time zone. What does that mean? No computer…for the entire day. Yea, I know. Amazing, we’ll see how it goes. Since I won’t be on the computer, there will be:

  • no email
  • no RSS reading
  • no AIM
  • no Facebook
  • no updates
  • no comments answered
  • you get the idea

I’ll be back some Sunday, probably by late morning or early afternoon. I have two discs worth of Star Trek: The Next Generation to watch, so I’ll probably do some of that. Feel free to give me a call, you know my number.

If you want to learn more about Shutdown Day, visit the website:
Shutdown Day

Vegas Photos: Uploaded, Sorted, and Tagged

It took some time, I had over a gig of photos, but I finally was able to get all my Las Vegas photos up on Flickr, sorted, and tagged (including geotags!)

I also took advantage of Flickr’s new “Collections” feature, so you can peruse the Las Vegas Collection.

You also might check out the map of where my Vegas photos were taken: Check out the awesometastic map of photos

I have two (maybe three) more Vegas related posts, so expect those all to be published by Monday.

How Vegas Says Bang

The fact that I even heard that the Stardust was going to be demolished was, as usual, by shear luck. Bailey and her boyfriend, Shaun, were going to be in Vegas for a few days and we were going to go grab something to eat. She sent me a text message:

Do you know they are leveling a casino tonight

Me:

No! Really?!? Which one? We should go watch!

Response:

I know! The stardust at 230 am. We were warned we might lose our windows

That’s how I found out about the Stardust.

I headed out early so I get finish shooting some other lights on the strip before I headed up north to the Stardust. A funny thing happens when you walk around by yourself with a nicer looking camera and a nicer looking tripod: people ask you questions. Here I was, not even 3 days in Vegas and people already thought I wasn’t a tourist.

DSC_8777I started heading towards the Stardust around 1 am. I wanted to find a good spot. As I got closer, I could see the building lit up with fancy lights that moved around and changed colors. They were the kind of lights you might see in sets of three at the opening of a new store that shine a tower of light into the night sky.DSC_8789

I scoped out an area south of the building. All the media was setup there and people were all setup, lawns chairs and all. I continued walking north trying to find a few point that would be well lit, aesthetically pleasing, and unobstructed. I finally found a spot right in front of the Denny’s across from the Stardust.

There was an older gentleman next to be with somewhat curly flowing black hair. He wore jeans and a wool trench coat. He spent the entire time talking to his mom, who was standing next to him, recounting stories about such-and-such a party in this room, this-girlfriend in that room, who’s friends stayed in what suite, on and on. Did I mention he was drinking Miller Genuine Draft? He was. Quite a character.

About five minutes prior to 2:30am, a single firework went up.
DSC_8794
Everybody grew silent. It was a test, just to make sure the prevailing winds wouldn’t blow the fireworks right into our faces. There was an ever-so-slight breeze blowing toward us; other than that, it was pretty calm.

A few minutes after 2:30 am, the something that sounded like an air raid siren went of. The time was here at last! Glorious destruction!

Almost.

First, an exquisite fireworks show.

DSC_8813

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DSC_8856

The question I kept asking myself the entire time was, “How are they going to signify the start of the actual destruction?”

This was Vegas though, such foolish questions should not be asked.

After the main fireworks ended, a box of fireworks began to appear…
DSC_8863
DSC_8864

…and then it all made sense!
DSC_8867
DSC_8868
Despite the fact that it was past 2:30 in morning, the people started chanting. Seven! Six! The crowd became louder as the numbers became smaller. Five! Four! Three! Two!
DSC_8869
Everyone started screaming. It was loud, but it was about to get louder.

Like the lightning before the thunder, bright shimmers of red light flickered on each floor. Then the most deafening sound I’ve ever heard. We weren’t that far away to begin with, only a mere 200 meters or so. My best guess is that the sound wave was in excess of 140dB at the point I was standing.

And then she began to fall back to the ground from which she was erected
DSC_8874

Ashes to ashes, Stardust to dust. (I never promised no horrible puns)
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DSC_8876The real excitement was when the dust started coming towards us. Everyone decided they didn’t want to stick around for that and cleared out pretty quickly. It turned my camera around, snapped a quick shot and then zipped everything up. As I walked back towards Caesars, the dust cloud kept growing more dense. Everything became covered with a rather thick layer of dust. As I walked, my shoes left marks in dust. I thought about Mount Saint Helens exploding, walking on the Moon, or the destruction of the World Trade Centers. As I neared the Fashion Show Mall, horns were blaring. I wonder what the people who hadn’t know about the implosion were thinking?

I drew a bath and soaked for a while, listening to the latest headlines on CNN. Then I went to bed.

Update: Some of my photos were published.