Monday, February 28, 2005

Playing with RAW

I started shooting RAW today. After a very frustrating hour our two, I figured out how Photoshop CS RAW capabilities work (I needed an update) and was able to process my fist RAW shot captured with my D70. I like the white balance tools and the ability to work in 16 bit color. The file sizes are quite large and the workflow is tedious. I am sure it can be automated.

I shot this picture this morning. It is my reflection in an oil tanker truck. I was partially blinded by the reflection of the sun, but I thought it looked interesting with the palm trees running back into the distance.

Nutball Alert: Michael John McCrae

I've had it with this guy. He writes stupid rants against atheism for This one, Atheists Owning Bibles [This Is Cool!] is typical of his drivel. I can't stand it anymore, his screed pollutes the blogsphere. His argument in this POS post is that because some atheist can quote the bible, they are really closet Christians. I got news for you Michael John McCrae , that logic (or lack thereof) will not work on me.

Some other readers are taking note, like James. Robert’s tireless religious rants are getting on the nerves of others too. And what the hell is anyway?

Let the freak show begin

This article says it all:Prosecution Portrays Jackson As Molester. Jackson is alleged to have exposed a young caner victim to pornography, groped him, and through associates threatened to kill the boy's mother, all this to a boy who was told he was going to die. If this is true, Jackson is no mere molester, he is a monster who preys on the weak. If it is true, if it true, I must keep telling myself this because it might not be true. It might be made up, but I seriously doubt it. Jackson has been on my nutball list for a long time. His association with Firpo Carr, his erratic public behavior, his desire to share his bed with little boys… Not to mention his settled-out-of-court sexual history. This case is going to be ugly. People will cry racism, people will cry liar, and we will see the darkest side of what once was a very popular man.

When (if) he is convicted, I wonder if he will do time in a normal prison?

The case so far looks bad for Jackson – but it also looks troubling for the accuser and his mother. This will be an interesting case to watch.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Mission San Gabriel

We visited California Mission San Gabriel Arcangel this weekend as part of my son’s mandatory fourth grade project. Everybody does a mission project during the grade school years in California. There are 21 missions in California, over the years, I’ve been to 14. I do not recall ever going the mission San Gabriel before, even though it is the closest to where I grew up.

San Gabriel is a working mission, which means the Catholic Church still conducts services and runs the grounds. The pictures of the crosses below were taken in the religious gifts/mission history shop. I was struck by the number and variety of crosses on display. I thought it odd at the time.

My son shot 160 pictures at the mission, most were very good. I got to shoot a few, like the Indian pictured above. I pained me to stand by and let my son work, but it was also fun to see him develop his own eye. At one point, I saw an oddly placed rosary hanging from an old cactus and thought the shot would be interesting. My son had already walked behind the graves of a few old priests to shoot a wide, then tight series of photos. He saw the possibilities too. I love watching my son grow up.

One last thing, make sure to take the decent tour, John, who lead our tour, was an elderly but highly energetic guide. He has been helping at the mission since the 30s and knows his stuff.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Ugly tank farm

I passed this today on the way back to work from lunch. It's a typical Long Beach tank farm done in anti-graffiti red with touches of red.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Ghost of my son

One of my favorite shots of my son, a ghostly depiction of one of his many personalities.

Photo Friday = Ghostly

I am often alone

It seems like I witness this sight night after night. I pull into a garage that is full of cars, and when it's my turn to leave, only a few stragliers remain. I become afraid. It was only a few weeks ago that somebody surprised me by walking out of the shadows next to my car.

I shot this tonight after school in Irvine at about 10:00 pm. Handheld at 1/5s and f4.5.

I am trying to shoot a picture a day – so far it’s been hard and I’ve been lucky.

Nutball Altert: Firpo Carr changed his religion

Eighteen months ago, I attended a survey of Western Religion course offered by the University of Phoenix and taught by the pseudo "Dr." Firpo Carr, as he finished his oblique Jehovah’s Witness indoctrination, he asked the class to deduce his religion. I guessed apostate Jehovah’s Witness. He was flabbergasted, and then unmistakably declared he was definitely a Witness in good standing.

Time goes by…. the wind blows… calendar pages flip… a friend attends the same Western Religion class at the University of Phoenix. At the end of my friend’s class, which was last week, Firpo Carr admitted he was not a Jehovah Witness. I wonder if his involvement with accused child molester Michael Jackson had anything to do with his disfellowship.

For those of you who don’t follow my rants, Firpo Carr is on my Nutball watch list. He claims to be Michael Jackson’s spiritual advisor, which qualified him for the nutball list all by itself. He was also my instructor near the end of my undergrad at the UOP. He was supposed to teach Survey of Western Religion; instead he taught Jehovah’s Witness theology and suppressed dissenting opinions from those who recognized his scam (me).

Death by Chocolate

I had to try it - Starbucks Chantico Drinking Chocolate. It is really friggen good. I was given a cup when I order a coffee of the day this afternoon. I sipped once, I sipped twice, then I set it on the counter and walked away. For me, this drink would have cause instant sugar overload. at 65 calories, and 8.5 carbs per ounce, this is a big Atkins no-no. 2 sips, and ouch! I've blown my diet for the day. This stuff is good, but it will kill people.

Barry Bonds is not my hero (any more)

I watched a press conference the other night. Barry Bonds was lashing out against, well everyone. It struck me as odd. Bonds used steroids over the last few seasons to set some impressive marks in baseball. He cheated. Yet to listen to him, he feels cheated. He has become the victim. Bonds lashed out at the media for hounding him with an old story, at one point, he even attacked the media with a “only those who are without sin may cast a stone" argument. Basically, he told the reporters they could not write about his lies because they were all liars too. It was ludicrous. Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a good piece about her own lies 'A big confession: I lied about Bonds', they are lies of omission. Why did we ignore the obvious?

Bonds claims to have repeated taken steroids by mistake. WTF? I would not accept that excuse by my children, why would I accept it from a millionaire baseball player?

Bonds claims steroids do not help him hit the ball. Well… it might not help with hand eye coordination, but it sure gives one a couple of extra yards of flight bucko, some of your short fly balls were converted to homers because of a little extra juice.

Bonds even claims we are after him because he is black. It never crossed his mind that we are "after him" because he cheated? Or that we are "after him" because he violated our trust in his pursuit of an honorably attained record by a legitimate hero of baseball?

Nobody likes a cheater; it does not matter if he hits 700 home runs, or 7. I hope his runs are disallowed. I hope he owns up to his mistake and pulls his numbers out of contention. I hope that 20 years hence, when discussing the greats of baseball, we can look back at Bonds and say he did the right thing. But I’m a realist. It won’t happen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A new lake

With all the rain, several new lakes have sprung up recently. This is one of four at the Beach Blvd and the Garden Grove Freeway. These are very attractive and should do quite a bit to attract tourists.

It looks so pristine, almost fishable.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Clouds for i-gizmo

I don't normally shoot clouds. Clouds bore me. But we have had nothing but clouds for weeks now, so I'm starting to go stir crazy. I saw i-gizmo had a contest for clouds this week and figured, ah... what the hell. This is a shot from Pepperdine's campus in Malibu. Students at Pepperdine really have a hard life.

Kenneth Starr

I had the pleasure of listening to Kenneth Starr give a speech Tuesday morning at the Magill Business and Ethics Symposium at the Drescher Graduate Campus Pepperdine University in Malibu. Starr gave the keynote address. His message was on developing a culture of “right doing”. I was captivated. Starr is an effective and entertaining speaker. He connected with his audience through cogent illustrations using mainstream ethical dilemmas, like that of Michael Eisner and Disney. His lecture centered on five key area’s.

1. The Integrity Principle (which has been largely dishonored)
2. Innovation (the need for think time)
3. Dignity (Relationship management, dignity and respect)
4. Compassion (what do you do with your wealth?)
5. Ethics based on principle

Starr’s message was about community, it was about thoughtful purposeful action, and it was about grounding oneself in the moral principle of “right doing”. Companies are communities. Companies can subscribe to “right doing”. His message was Christian but I didn’t mind. Even though I am a confirmed Atheist, I still think and act this way, or at least I try too.

A couple of interesting points: Starr did not mention Clinton, not even obliquely. Starr talked about attending bible studies with Dennis Bakke as if it was something quite ordinary. Starr drove himself to the speech. Starr came across like a person who cares; it really was quite impressive.

Of course, 15 minutes after Starr’s speech, I attended a “greed is good” discussion of the high yield bond market…

abstract - Lights

Ever since I realized I have very few abstract pictures in my portfolio, I've been on the lookout for new possibilities. I saw this during at a lecture in school today.

Graziadio Business School, Malibu

I braved the heavy rain, mud slides, and heavy traffic to travel across metro LA to Pepperdine’s Malibu campus this morning. I am here for a day of “ethics in business” lectures. Pepperdine is all about ethics. The keynote speaker this morning is Kenneth Starr. The day should be interesting, but I dread the drive home. If I leave here at 6:00 pm, I should get home by 9:00. I love LA!

The Dresher Campus, where the Graziadio School is located, sits on hilltop overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I am watching a thunder storm over the ocean. It is beautiful. Hopefully, I will be able to take a few good pictures. It is raining too hard right now, I don't want to ruin my camera.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

King King, Hollywood

This shot is posters from the window of King King in Hollywood. I have heard of the place, but have never gone to a show. I think I might be about 20 years to old for the venue. I like the rock themed posters with the reflections of the Stars in the bottom. The place looked dingy.

Tattoo Parlor, Hollywood

I saw this as I was leaving Hollywood today, a tattoo parlor straight out of hell. I have a feeling that if you walk in this door, you do not walk out looking the same.

4 More Years of Bush

I took a short trip to Hollywood today because I wanted to shoot this billboard before it was defaced or removed. Citizens United had put up this tongue in cheek slap at Hollywood’s left leaning anti Bush actors to thank them for their support during the recent presidential elections. After all, without their irrational support for Kerry, and Moore’s idiotic attack on America, Bush might not have been elected.

Michael Moore gets top billing. He deserves it too. Although I was outraged at his overt attempt to influence our election with his vile propaganda piece, Fahrenheit 9/11, his recent Oscar slap and now this billboard recognition, makes me feel a little better. People are starting to get the message.

The rouges gallery of other stars is interesting. During the election, they said some bad things. I think some public humiliation is appropriate. I remember an essay I once read by Harlan Ellison. Ellison was reflecting on the damage President Nixon had inflected on the American psyche during Watergate when he suggested that Nixon should stand in public and allow each American one slap in his face. I thought the idea good then, and something I would like to see for Moore, but I’ll take a sarcastic billboard any day.

4 More Years stands prominently at the North end of Hollywood Boulevard. I stood near Bob Hope’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame when I took these shots. Of course, human feces decorated the sidewalk a few feet from me, while a steady stream of human detritus and oblivious tourists walked by. The billboard was not meant for the Stars. Stars never walk Hollywood Boulevard. The billboard was meant for us. Thanks!

Review - Turner New Zealand Restaurant

My wife took me to a new restaurant last night to celebrate my birthday; Turner New Zealand in Costa Mesa. Turner New Zealand (Gayot Review) is a high quality steak and chop house specializing in free range meats, fish, and game. I have had a Turner steak before; they supply some of the best restaurants in the world with prime cuts of beef and lamb, so I knew I was in for a good meal. It turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had. For those of you who know me well, you know I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world, so saying Turner serves a good meal is pretty significant.

We arrived at Turner early so we were seated at their small bar for drinks. My benchmark for price/value is the price of a pour of 18-year-old “The Macallan” Scotch. The Yard House charges $9 per pour, Turner charges $15. A bit more expense, but the restaurant is small and in a high rent district next to the Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

My meal consisted of shared Oysters Tempura ($13), Lobster Bisque ($13), Rack of Lamb ($39) and a shared Pavlova ($12) for desert. My wife had a small Beef Filet ($28). The meat was perfectly prepared to order. I tried a piece of the filet, it melted in my mouth; perfect! The rack of lamb was succulent and flavorful; I have never had better. The desert was interesting. Pavlova is a traditional New Zealand dish. It is a meringue shell filled with cream and topped with fresh berries. I liked it, well kind of anyway. It was tasty, but it won’t replace crème brulee or a good piece of Spanish flan. Overall, we dropped about $165 on our meal, it would have been about $50 more with a bottle of wine. It was worth every penny.

The staff was professional and well trained. I did not notice them, which is a good thing when having an intimate dinner. The restaurant is small, with a long and narrow dinning area off an isle running parallel to the street. They also have outside seating. Seating is limited, reservations are mandatory. To get a reservation, you must call and leave a message requesting time and date, they call back to confirm or cancel. My wife booked a couple of weeks in advance. They recommend business casual as their dress code, but most of the diners I saw were dressed semi formal and looked to be heading for the theater after their meal.

My benchmarks for best restaurants are Le Grande Cascade and Le Pre Catelan in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne. Turner comes close in terms of the food, but misses on ambiance. Turner feels very OC to me, which is to say, not very Parisian.. I would put Turner in the same class as Gene & Georgettis in Chicago or my favorite steakhouse, Hugo’s Cellar, in Las Vegas.

Hollywood Pizza

I had a clear shot up the Hollywood Walk of Fame this morning. It led to Pizza.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Rain Day

It’s a rain day here in stormy Buena Park. This is a view of my massive magnolia tree from my front porch. The raindrops are dripping from its canopy. It has been raining hard since about midnight. We have had a few thunder storms pass through this morning. My dog “Thor” is petrified. He is not living up to his name. I spoke with my baby sister Kim this morning, she tells me her home in Temecula is under a tornado warning and that a funnel cloud was sited in a neighboring city earlier today. It is a weird day and my 44th birthday too! I think I will celebrate inside with a fire, a few computer games, and a good movie or two.

Williams Shatner - Common People

William Shatner released a CD named Has Been in October. I do not know how I missed it. My friend Brian turned me on to it while we were waiting on a flight earlier in the week at LAX. I listened to Common People (Lyrics) and was blown away. It was great. Well beyond great, it was good music. I've listened to it a few times now, along with You'll Have Time. I am picking up the album tomorrow.

Thanks Brian!

Typical LA day on the freeway

I shot this during a break in the rain. It felt like LA.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Broken things are like magnets

Broken things attract me. Broken signs, broken art, and even broken people Every time I see something broken, I want to stop and shoot. Like this smashed mural, I had to shoot it, I was compelled to shoot it.


A living mess - very cool. I could watch it for hours.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

My life on the freeway

This shot is the 605N from the 405S this afternoon (or the Santa Ana from the San Diego for you natives). It is not one of my better shots.

Every day I spend two or more hours of my life on the freeways of LA and Orange County. I look for beauty, or at least something interesting during the ride. Like today, I saw a great vista of Long Beach Harbor, San Pedro, and Downtown Long Beach. All were visible against a golden sunset. The cranes in the port of Long Beach were glowing in silhouette. I missed the shot and a few others that were almost as good. When I thought I was finally free of freeway traffic, I see a clogged freeway. It turned out to be a 20-minute delay from a fender bender. I hate the freeways.

I saw on ABC World News were scientists think they have figured out how traffic forms – erratic drivers. Duh…

ABC news lists the 710 fwy as the second worst traffic hot spot in the country. I drive the 710 for three miles each morning (if I drive the freeway). It is dangerous, there are way to many large trucks on the road. I see an accident two or three time a week. It is like playing the lottery.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Valentines Day

My son made a Valentines Day message out of tiny M&M's. I thought I would share it with my family and friends. Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Graduate School Blues

Let me set the stage for this short story: I am attending Pepperdine’s MBA program each Monday and Thursdays evening this spring semester. Monday’s class is International Business Law, Thursday’s class is International Marketing. Neither class is easy. There is lots of reading, research, paper writing, and just plain grunt work going on for each class. I am busy all the time, and now I am way behind because I have been sick.

Pepperdine is supposed to be a hard program (it is). Yet I am amazed when I find groups of students using the same peer pressure tactics on me in graduate school as were used in me in High School. Some of my fellow students were actually trying to get me to shut up so they could go home early. They had presented a poor analysis of a Trade Secret case study and expected me (and the rest of the class) to just keep quite. Our instructor, a Lawyer and former Judge, asked a few leading questions… I waited until the silence was tangible, and then answered by tearing apart their analysis (in a nice way). Their argument was wrong point by point, as usual. I got some dirty looks and caught a few snide remarks. They made a poor attempt to defend their position, I countered with further arguments. My position was supported by the rest of the class, and then again by the professor. I felt like I was earning the right to be in B school, while justifying the $70K tuition.

After class, one of the team members tried to talk to me about making them look bad. He had not done the course work, and had not read the material. He proudly admitted he never had. I told him as long as he wanted to put out poorly thought out arguments that I would be around to discuss them. As he walked away I thought, “Well, that is one guy I’m never going to hire (or have on a study group).” People amaze me. I am not going to turn off my brain because some halfwit is lazy. I cannot believe that at his (and my) stage in life, that he would even consider asking.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Ten Years of My Life

My friend Richard at Stuff I Found Time to Post (Sifttp) turned me on to a great photo project site called Ten Years of My life. The creator, Matthew Haughey, will be posting a picture a day for ten years. The project sounds exciting. I've tried to take a picture a day for the last year without stellar results. I'm going to follow his work to see how he does. Early indications are that his photography will be stimulating. I scanned the last few weeks and was impressed with his work.

Interesting photoblog

I found "|BG|Digital photoblog" because he found me. This site is short on words, but long on good industrial photography. I like it.

The site is work safe.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

New 70mm to 300mm Nikkor lens

I'm still weak from being sick, so my family and I decided on a nice mellow day at the Aquarium as our Saturday outing. I was excited because it would be my first chance to use my new Nikkor lens. I shot 94 pictures outside in overcast light; I had to keep the aperture open in order to shoot at hand held speeds. Of the 94 shots, about 20 came out. I had a very hard time with the auto focus. It seemed to focus behind my subject. I tried different settings, and got different results. Manual Focus proved to be a little awkward; all of them were of poor quality. My biggest complaint was focusing time; it took 3 or 4 seconds to reach an acceptable focus. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong.

This shot is of my son from about 20 feet away and tight. He is holding two lorikeets in the outdoor aviary. I like the results I got in this series, and in a a few other similar shots. (like the one below).

I had forgotten what a pain it is to change lenses. I’m going to have to get back in the habit. I don’t even have a good camera bag anymore. I went fishing for an old camera bag, but the one I found looked like something M.C. Hammer would have carried, so I had my wife stick the new lens in her purse.

Weird, Wild & Wonderful

I shot this today at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific. I saw the sign and thought it would make a good picture if I could get somebody interesting to walk by. Five minutes later, Mr. & Mrs. Goth walked by as if on cue. Mr. Goth was like 40, it was weird.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I’ve been sick

I picked up a cold or something a few days ago. I got worse yesterday; that is when I got sick. For me, being sick is akin to mild mental illness. When I cross the line between not feeling well and being sick, my mind starts down this dysfunctional repetitive process where it repeats the same series of images, over and over again.

It usually happens when I have a fever and I’m trying to rest, but sometimes it will happen when I’m watching the tube. The imagery is always weird. This time is started with Vincent D’Onofrio from Law & Order telling me I could no longer watch his show unless I caught and killed a peccary. I renegotiate for a javelina , to which his partner says “It’s the same things stupid”. I try to reconfigure my freckles to give me jaguar like skin cover whiule in the jungle, only my freckles start migrating to my back to hide from the sun. While trying to find my freckles, I notice a javelina near a bush, but I don’t have any weapons. I remember that I’m really a robot that can fire arrows out of my ass so I point my ass at the javelina, kill it in a barrage of arrows, and then gleefully take my kill to Vincent D’Onofrio. Only along the way, I find out I’ve been fired by Donald Trump because I'm not a good project manager, and then SNAP, it starts over.

This happened, I don’t know, say... ten thousand times between midnight last night and noon today. Then sanity returns and I just feel like crap again. The funky thing about this is that I know it’s happening but I am helpless to stop it.

Oh, and I looked it up, a peccary is a javelina (I knew that, right?)

Some Sandpipers

I'm out sick today (well actually the last two days), so here is something from the archive, sandpipers from Bolsa Chica.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ethnologue, Languages of the World

I found a good research tool on the web tonight while looking into the languages used in Argentina. Ethnologue gives indept language usage information for each country and supplies maps and papers to support their facts. It is a great site to have in your back pocket.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Truck at sunrise, 710 fwy.

I did not get a chance to shoot much today, but I did take some time this morning. I shot this while sitting in traffic on the freeway. I get the strangest looks, and a lot of honks.

Nikon D70: 18mm, F14 @ 1/30s

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Macro Needed

I was experimenting with my D70 and realized I need two things: A good Macro lens and a better flash. I was limited as to what I could accomplish with the standard Nikkor lens. I shot a dozen photos but a combination of distortion, bad lighting, and bad technique did me in. My birthday is coming soon; I bet a new lens is in my future!

I nearly kill a man today...

…so I am posting a picture I shot a few weeks ago instead of the picture I wanted to take today.

Today was a slow photo day. I shot a few marginal shots on the way to work, worked through lunch, and left for home after dark. So, no good pictures today. Well, I left out the part where I almost killed somebody, which happened while I was running a brief errand about 2 pm today. I saw a character a bicycle. The bike was specially constructed to be part high-rise, part circus bike. The rider was sitting about 10 feet in the air and pedaling a bike via a long chain drive. The bike had absurdly small circus wheels. The bike looked custom made and was in poor shape. The rider looked like a bum, or at least very poor. I grabbed my camera (while turning left in traffic) and tried to snap a picture. I blew it and drove straight at the bike instead. The rider freaked and then drove into the back of a parked truck, landing in the bed. I stopped (I was responsible after all). He was hurt; I could see he was holding his arm. I asked if I could help, he said no; he was an illegal alien and did not want to draw attention to himself. I thought to myself, “hmm, then why are you driving a circus bike in heavy traffic?” He eventually peddled off and I did not get a single shot. I guess I would not be a good combat photographer.

This shot is for my grandmother. She is always after me to shoot pictures of pigeons on telephone wires.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Justice denied out of stupidity and a sex drive

I was in school Monday night when this issue came up for discussion. US guard tells how Nazi girlfriend duped him into helping Goering evade hangman. This guy came forward only after he realized he could not be prosecuted. He wanted to clear the air for history. Great, now history has a footnote: Herbert Lee Stivers might just be idiot. Here is how the story goes: Stivers wanted to get laid. I German Nazi girl wanted to help Goering die with dignity. It was love at first sight… I don’t think so, Stivers did whatever he could to impress this girl, then could not put the pieces together after Goering died to see that he had contributed to Goerings death.

I can see it now, Stivers thinking Goering is dead because of a suicide and then the military investigating Goering’s death. Stivers deciding the military did not need to know about the messages, the pen, or his connection to a Nazi sex trade worker. Then the long wait to tell the truth. Yep – Stivers is a peach of a guy. I wonder if he even got laid out of the deal?

My friend wins "Best Evangelical Blog - Ministry"

I just got the news that my close friend Brad over at 21st Century Reformation won and award for Best Evangelical Blog in the Ministry catagory determined by popular vote at Evangelical Underground. Congratulations Brad! I am very proud of you.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Ashkan Sahihi

Sahihi has two great photo exhibits going Women in the IDF, and The Drug Series. Both are completely work safe, BUT backing up to the Index page out of either of these two links will bring you in contact with some work that is questionable.

Women in the IDF is a collection of pictures showing normal everyday women toting machine guns and a smile. It is both captivating and disarming.

The Drug Series is interesting. Sahihi captures facial expressions from drug users, each drug/user is subtly different.

Mr. Snaky

Upon returning from my trip to Hungary this weekend, cleaning the snake cage was high on my wife’s list of "Honey Do's". Nothing brings you back down to earth like cleaning the snake cage. My wife and sons draw the line at feeding Mr. Snaky. It is my responsibility to clean the cage. For those of you who have never had the pleasure, snake cages smell something like... well the smell is indescribable.

Mr. Snaky is my only reptile pet. I want more but have been reluctant to buy any because Mr, Snaky bites so damn much. I have been bitten on the nose, fingers, cheeks, and ear. I love my snake, I really do, but he thinks I'm food. Mr. Snaky is also a “Musker”. His main defense mechanism is to spray musk from his anus when frightened. Trust me; you do not want to get any on your pants. Your dog will go crazy.

Mr. Snaky is an Albino King snake. He eats three to four mice every two weeks or one large rat ever three weeks. The rats scream like babies while they die. Of course, nobody told me this, or else I would have bought gold fish.

Mr. Snaky is expected to live for 20 to 30 years.

This is weird - Kissing President Bush

I found this while surfing: Rachel Mason: Kissing President Bush. I guess it's art.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

One last shot

I know I mentioned this before, but I wanted to include one more shot. Budapest is full of Graffiti. It is everyplace. This is typical, every building, every wall, every advertisement. Graffiti was everywhere.

Budapest Street Scene

The roads in Budapest are normally guarded by guardrails like the one in the picture above. At first I thought this odd, and then I noticed guardrails near any high volume road. I started looking for crosswalks, but did not see any except for in low traffic areas. I went on a walk later in the day, and found that each major intersection had an underground passageway. Beneath the city was the invisible city, cold, highly commercial, and wet. I stood beneath the city for a few minutes and watched pedestrians. I snapped a few pictures, the one below is the only passible shot

I did not like the underground. It was wet, cold, and dangerous (at least for me). I had a hard time climbing the stairs because of the ice. The natives zipped up and down with ease, while I maintained a death grip on the handrail. Also, the cold made my knees hurt, which made me feel less stable while descending, but enough about me...

The vendors in the underground are willing to barter. I’m fairly sure my travel mates over paid for the cold weather gloves and scarves the purchased once they realized how cold it was. After all, when it rains, how much does a $5 umbrella cost?

Gellért Hill, Budapest

Gellért Hill overlooks Pest from the Buda hills. I would have liked to take a walking tour to the top of the hill, but I fear I would have frozen before I reached the top. I've got to come back to this city when its warm.

Magazine Stand

One thing I noticed in Budapest was the prevalence of easy access to pornography. The first thing I noticed was a man selling porno magazines from an island in the middle of a major road. The man had a makeshift sandwich board showing samples of various hard core skin mags. I thought this was strange but perhaps a one time affair, then I noticed another, and then another. It was common. This magazine rack sold Playboy, but it also sold hard core porn. I asked about it, the proprietor told me there were no laws against selling hardcore porn, but they were careful to not sell it to children.

Icy Road

This picture is of a country road on a very cold afternoon in the middle of rural Hungary. I shot about a dozen black and white shots; this one is the only one that adequately captured the mood.

Snow and Car Wrecks

I stopped counting accidents after I passed 20 cars in ditches next to the road. We were stopped for 20 minutes behind this 10 car accident, there would be two more large accidents before we reached good roads.

Long Beach from the WTC

This hellish view of Long Beach is my Photo Friday submission under the "Distorted" catagory.

Friday, February 04, 2005

20 Things I learned in Budapest.

  1. The thumbs down symbol mean, “I want a BJ”.
  2. Hungarian beer is good, but toasting with it is considered bad form.
  3. Goulash tastes a lot like beef stew
  4. Paprika is taken very seriously and it is used in everything
  5. Hungarians do not like Russians (not at all).
  6. Hungary has done a great job removing signs of the Soviet Union.
  7. Hungarian woman are pretty and age gracefully.
  8. Prostitutes are plentiful, attractive and inexpensive (I was just browsing)
  9. Hungarian food emphasizes meat and is heavy with potatoes. It reminds of American Midwest farm food.
  10. Hungarians like pancakes.
  11. Graffiti is out of control, every building in Budapest is covered with it, and all of it is bad.
  12. I felt like I was welcome and safe. Hungary reminds me of parts of America. (Not big city America, but little city America, the towns you drive through when driving between big cities.)
  13. Hotel beds are for very small people. Hotel service on the other had, was outstanding.
  14. The Hungarians I met were well educated, efficient, and professional. I was impressed with their potential for growth. It might take awhile, but Hungary is going to be a player in the EU.
  15. The weather in winter sucks. The forecast for today, cold and gray, forecast for tomorrow, cold and gray with snow…
  16. Many Hungarians speak very good English – on the other hand, I did not pickup a single word. Their language is very hard to understand and even harder to pronounce.
  17. I did not think Hungarians were particularly religious until the Pope got sick, then the church bells started.
  18. They listen to bad American music. Madonna seems to top the list. But I heard just about every tasteless POS top 40 pop song imaginable.
  19. Hungarian rap is bad. Imagine hoards of Snoop Dog want-to-be’s, only white, ugly, and with little talent except mimicry. I won’t go into TV…
  20. Hungary is the porn capital of Europe, now I understand why.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Jet Lag

This is my Photo Tuesday submission under “Everyday Items”. I’ve spend endless hours looking at my travel clock while spending the night in some nameless hotel. I found myself doing it again last night even though I was dead tired.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The pool

It was too cold to swim, but being a bit of a polar bear I would have tried it if the pool had not been frozen over.

Dinner in Nemesvamos

Wild Boar with potato pancakes – yummy.