Plans for Russia and Turkey

My friend, Eric Boyd, left this comment on my Facebook wall regarding my trip:

That should be a lot of fun. Watch out for Gypsies though. I’ve heard they like to break into train compartments and rob you blind. But I’m sure in your case they will try to unzip your suitcase and find themselves fighting for their lives against an army of death-ray wielding nanobots;)

They’re actually going to be sporting 1.21 jigawatt lasers, not death-rays.

After talking to Jeff the other week, I called up Mr. Staples (Jeff’s dad) to ask about what travel agency they used. Mr. Staples referred me to Mir Corporation. I took a look at their packages, and they’re quite expensive ($5,000 for 10 days), plus their dates don’t line up with mine. They did, however, have some very useful information on their website.

I’ve received my official invitation, filled out the visa application, and had my visa picture taken last week. Today I sent everything, plus my cover letter and a $131 check in the mail to Dad. Dad will add my passport to the set and drop it off at the Russian Consulate in Downtown Seattle. It will take no less than six days to process it, so here goes nothing.

Russia

  • Moscow
    • The Central Museum of Armed Forces1
      70 ruble, or 30 ruble if I get the student discount, plus another 100 ruble so I can take photos
    • Kremlin Armory Museum
      700 ruble, or 200 ruble if I get the student discount
    • Cosmonautics Memorial Museum
    • The Polytechnical Museum at the Ilinsky Gates
    • Moscow State University Zoological Museum
    • Underground Moscow

Useful resources: http://www.moscow.info/

I also talked with my friend, Erin, who’s currently in Turkey. She gave me the low down on what’s what in Turkey.

  • Turkey
    • Istanbul (2 days-ish, Hackett did 4 days)
      • Grand Bizarre
      • Blue Mosque
  • Antalya
  • Ephesus (1 day)
  • Cappadocia (1-2 days)
  • Ankara
    • Capital
    • Turkish Aerospace Industries2

Erin also says I need to :

  • See a Whirling Dervish dance
  • Eat Gözleme and Kanafeh3
  • Read up on Atatürk
  • “Also, when in Turkey, you can’t miss out on a Turkish bath. Its a fairly odd experience at first, but you have to do it!”

Random thought, do I need a phone?


  1. http://www.cmaf.ru/eng/index_eng.htm 

  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737_AEW&C#Turkey 

  3. Erin says, “kunefe, my favorite dessert…it rhymes with ‘tunafay'” 

EDays 2009: Diamond AnnivarsarE-Days

EDays is upon us once again. And once again, I’ll be taking photos! I’m the official EDays photographer for The Oredigger and the EDays Committee. Last year was great and I got some great photos. But this year. This year is going to be epic. This year, I’ll be renting a Nikon D90 and a Nikkor 12-24 f/4G DX, both from Pro Photo Rental up in Boulder. Thanks to Jared for the hookup and working out all the details with me!

So yes, that means that I’ll be shooting with two cameras. My D70 with an 18-70 (or 50mm) and the rented D90 with 12-24.

I also made up this years new press pass. It’s very similar to last years press pass, but with an updated picture, ID#, and expiration date (natch). I also added some text on the back of the pass.
Total cost: 10 cents for the color laserjet print at school plus $1.25 for the lamination at FedEx Kinko’s.
My enjoyment: Priceless.

press_pass

I will also, however, have my legitimate concert backstage access/press pass, just like the last three years1, special thanks to Tim Weilert for helping me out with this.

My goal this year is two-fold: shoot more people pictures and take video (which I can do using the D90…in HD no less). I really just hope I have less than 2000 photos to edit.

The Oredigger also published the E-Digger, a guide to Engineering Days. I got2 two full page photos and a double truck3 wide! It’s pretty awesome and I recommend you check out a copy if you’re on campus.

DSC_8913


DSC_2313
Golden, Colorado, United States


DSC_2265
Golden, Colorado, United States


DSC_2398
Golden, Colorado, United States


DSC_3190
10.5 mm || 1/1000 || f/7.1 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Golden, Colorado, United States

I also know there are a couple of Facebook groups that are using my photos too, I basically have the market cornered on “csm edays fireworks.” It’s all good though.

Over the last 5 EDays, I’ve published over 1000 photos4. I’ve gathered them all into one collection over at Flickr: A collection of all EDays photos I’ve ever taken

Stay tuned for this years report, it’s bound to epic.


  1. Holy crap, have I really been doing this for that long?! 

  2. my photos were used on 

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_truck 

  4. I suspect I’ve taken closer to 5000 

The Magic of WP Greet Box

I received an email the other day wondering how I inserted the welcome message for certain guests of Andrew Ferguson dot NET.

Andrew,

Would you mind sharing what plug-in you use to do this?

image001

It’s very effective, and I’d love to use it my blog.

Thanks!

– Charles

It’s called WP Greet Box and you can get it at http://omninoggin.com/projects/wordpress-plugins/wp-greet-box-wordpress-plugin/. I just started using it recently and I think it’s pretty spiffy.

The idea is that when people come to my site by clicking on another link (from Google, Facebook, Joe’s BBQ Blog, etc), a little banner will pop up saying, “Hey! I see you came from Google (or Facebook, etc). You should subscribe to my RSS feed!”

The idea is to help gain repeat visitors.

There’s also another similar plugin called Referrer Detector that does basically the same thing. I tried both of them out and I like WP Greet Box better.

School Closed




Starbucks

Originally uploaded by mattmmatt

For the first time in 15 years1, the Colorado School of Mines has a snow day.

Due to severe weather and treacherous driving conditions, Colorado School of Mines will close today (March 26) at noon.

And it really wasn’t a full day either, just a half day. Still, I somehow feel my college experience is now more complete. Rumors are circulating that tomorrow may also be a snow day, but I have my doubts.


  1. says the lunch lady 

Things to Do, Things to Pack

Plans are well under way now! I just booked my flight to Europe. I’ll be leaving on June 2nd at 7:30am and flying Seattle to Dulles (UA916/767-300) to Moscow (UA964/767-300), arriving at 10:45am on June 3rd, business class. I’ll be spending just over 60 days in Europe before I fly back on August 3rd, flying at 8:25am from Frankfurt to Chicago (UA945/777) to Seattle (UA929/757-200) and arriving at 2:24pm the same day, also business class. Fortunately, I’m using miles. Otherwise it looks like it would cost about $9,539.76 out of pocket.

Here’s the seat I’ll be getting to enjoy for the 15 hours it takes to get the Moscow:
united_business

Unfortunately, United hasn’t started to upgrade the seats on the 777, so my ride won’t be as comfortable on the way back. However, I do get First Class for the Chicago to Seattle flight.

I also booked a hostel for my stay in Moscow, I’ll be at the Olimpia Hostel. Should be good.

With all that done, I figure I better turn my attention to what I’m going to bring (and not bring). Like my itinerary, this list will definitely be updated as I think of more things and people suggest things to bring or not to bring.

To Do

  • Check on current level of travel insurance (health and theft)
  • Get travel visa for Russia
  • Buy Europe on a Shoestring1
  • Convince Quinn to come
  • Convince Charlie to come
  • Get ISIC (International Student Identity Card). Should only be $22?
  • Check into touring Chernobyl and get dosimeter badge

To Pack

  • Backback: The side loading green one2 or top loading grey/blue one
  • Clothes:
    • Orange REI jacket or Blue The North Face running jacket
    • Four t-shirts
    • One better shirt
    • Four pairs of socks
    • Four pairs of boxer-briefs3, they really are quite comfortable
    • One pair of nylon khaki pants with zipoff legs
    • One pair of4 shorts
    • Swim trunks
    • Sleepwear
    • Hat
    • The North Face green fleece/The North Face black polypro
    • One set of shoes5
    • One pair of sandals6
  • Camera/Electronics
    • One camera bag with slot for netbook and will double as day pack
    • One Nikon D90
    • One 50mm f/1.8 Prime lens
    • One 18-70mm lens
    • Headphones
    • One Netbook
    • Laptop lock
    • US/Europe/Russia electricity converter
  • Toiletries
    • Deoderant
    • Hand soap/Shampoo
    • Washcloth
    • Toothbrush/toothpaste
    • Floss
    • Mouth guard
    • Ibuprofen
    • Melatonin
    • Flagyl7
    • Moleskin8
    • Antibiotics
    • Bandaids
    • Medical tape
    • Charcoal pills
    • Penicillin
    • My meds
    • Nail clipper
    • Tweezers
    • Sunscreen
    • Lip balm
    • Contacts/contact solution/contact case
    • Glasses/case
    • Ear plugs
  • Miscellaneous
    • Nalgene
    • Money belt9
    • Padlock
    • Flashlight w/extra batteries
    • Laundry soap
    • Small towel
    • Sleeping bag
    • Pillow
    • Sunglasses (el cheapo’s)
    • Swiss Army Knife
    • Casio Waveceptor waterproof watch

Many items taken from: Packing Checklist for Asia and Rick’s Packing List.


  1. and finally return the library their copy 

  2. my parents took on their trip to 

  3. ExOfficio Men’s Give-N-Go® Boxer Brief 

  4. http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=636528 

  5. New Balance 991 

  6. Keen’s 

  7. in case of dysentary 

  8. in case of blisters 

  9. Rick Steves Essential Silk Moneybelt 

The Incubator

Just writing out what I know I need to accomplish in the next 15-45 days. I don’t think I’ve ever had this many projects go supernovae1 on me in such a short period of time.

  • Codename Shakespeare
  • Finish up and publish Rain :: Volume II
  • Finish School/Graduate
    • USOC Project
    • 3-ish short essays
    • 2-ish exams
    • 2-ish finals
    • 10-ish hw assignments
  • Graduation Party
    • Colorado
    • Seattle
  • Plan a two month trip to Europe
    • Visa
    • Lodging
    • Airplane tickets

Will update as needed.


  1. when a project goes supernova, it’s basically near completion, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. very near the deadline, the projects looks like it’s going to fail, but it ends up not. instead, the all the different parts of the project instanteously coalesce into a superdense point and spontaneously eject the completed project in all it’s glory, more or less 

Adam + Natalie, an Engagement Photoshoot

Way back in January, Adam, my friend and fellow schoolmate, asked if I would shoot Natalie and his engagement photos. I had been wanting to expand my experience into portrait-style photography, so of course I said I said, “Yes!”1

This is my first foray into engagment photogaphy and a steping stone to building a semi-professional photography career (Shameless plug, check out Andrew Ferguson Photography).

January isn’t a bad month to take engagement photos in, but Adam and Natalie wanted more of a spring feel. Se we waiting to schedule something until Spring Break in March. The day we picked couldn’t have been better. It was super nice out and not a cloud in the sky. I proposed2 several locations to them. We eventually decided on Red Rocks and Clear Creek.

It’s déjà vu all over again!

DSC_7067
44.0 mm || 1/1000 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Morrison, Colorado, United States

This is one of my favorite photos from the set, the coloring reminds me of a HDR3 image, even though it’s not

Adam and Natalie
38.0 mm || 1/125 || f/11.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Morrison, Colorado, United States

Photo they used for their wedding invitations

Natalie and Adam
70.0 mm || 1/500 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Morrison, Colorado, United States

DSC_7019-Edit
18.0 mm || 1/2500 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Morrison, Colorado, United States

So cute

DSC_7093
50.0 mm || 1/8000 || f/1.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Morrison, Colorado, United States

DSC_7133
70.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/4.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Golden, Colorado, United States

I stuck a strobe back in the back of the tube with CTB4 gel, worked out really well if you ask me

DSC_7229
22.0 mm || 1/100 || f/3.8 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Golden, Colorado, United States

Okay, maybe this is my favorite shot. I’m just a sucker for people jumping…I have no idea why

Jump Composite
Morrison, Colorado, United States

Continue enjoying the awesomeness over at Flickr: Adam + Natalie, an Engagement Photoshoot

I’m looking for any feedback that anyone wants to give: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I promise not to take feedback the wrong way…I’d rather learn from my mistakes here than be doomed to repeat them again. Let them here or, preferably, on the appropriate Flickr image.


  1. …that’s what she said!! 

  2. pun fully intended 

  3. High Dynamic Range 

  4. Color Temperature Blue 

A Flight To Moscow

I’ve talked to the Russian Consular in Seattle, United Airlines, and a Russian man in Moscow with decent English.

I have a confirmed (but not booked) flight from Seattle to Dulles (UA916) to Moscow (UA964) leaving at 7:30am on June 2nd and arriving at 10:45am on June 3rd…15 travel hours later.

I also have the return leg booked (a la “Open Jaw” magic) from Frankfurt to Chicago (UA945) to Seattle (UA929) leaving at 8:25am August 3rd and arriving at 2:24pm August 3rd…13.5 travel hours later.

All for the low, low cost of $95.00 plus 105k airline miles 🙂

As for actually getting into Russia, the process goes something like this:

  1. Figure out dates to be in Russia
  2. Find hostel that will issue you a tourist voucher and confirmation
  3. Book hostel and acquire tourist voucher
  4. Fill out Russian Visa application form
  5. Turn in original passport, a xerox-copy of it’s vital pages, the original tourist invitation voucher, one passport size picture of applicant (that would be me), a cover letter explaining who is going, where to, when, and with what purpose
  6. Pay $131.00 for 6 day processing (cheapest)

I currently still think it’s worth it to go to Russia. But there sure are a lot of hoops to jump through. I currently have an email into the HM Hostel Moscow (US$36.05/night) in Moscow and I may end up contacting the Olimpia Hostel (US$17.35/night).