Saturday, December 25, 2010

What's in that Can? Holiday Edition


This is a special limited-edition flavor of a certain soda. I honestly could not tell what the flavor was until somebody told me; it tastes more and less like the real thing than that flavor usually tastes, at the same time. I guess it's just a different take on that flavor than I've ever encountered before. It's good, but unusual.

Okay, here's the other side of the bottle. It may or may not help you figure it out.

I really think they missed an amazing opportunity to call this "Santa Fanta". I mean, really.

Monday, September 27, 2010

places i've lived

I lurrrrve Yes and Yes so much that I'm answering Sarah Von's call for lists of everywhere you've lived here on my blog instead of in her comments. Because, let's face it, at this point, any content is good content.
  1. My parents' house on Long Island. Old house, built in the 1920's I think, the floors creak and the heaters whistle. There's a huge maple tree out front; it's the last big tree left on the block because everyone uses all kind of chemicals on their lawns that slowly killed the rest of the trees. My mom's philosophy on lawn care is: "If God wanted the grass to be green, he'd make it rain." I'm sure the neighbors love them.
  2. The dorm. I lived in apartment 3C of the Furness Dorm at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The main building of UArts is Hamilton Hall, a big neoclassical building on Broad Street with big white steps and pillars and a huge open hall with offices off of the sides and a couple of classrooms in the building somewhere. Tacked onto the back of Hamilton Hall is a building that used to be an insane asylum. That's the Furness Dorm. There were only two dorms at that time, I think they have more now. There were four of us in a room intended for 3; you could totally tell which three of us were carefully matched and which one was thrown in at the last minute.
  3. My sophomore year I moved into an apartment BY MYSELF, about a block away. It was a horrible mess, and I still think back with regret about how AWESOME an apartment it was and could have been if I had just taken the time to clean it up and put some nice things in it. But it was home and I loved it and I lived there for 3 years.
  4. Next I moved down to New Orleans (West Bank). Brian had already been down there for about a year when I graduated and joined him. The first place we lived together was a beautiful one-bedroom apartment with high ceilings and a loft. It was gorgeous, but too small for us. And really expensive to keep air-conditioned, thanks to the high ceiling and tall windows.
  5. After we got married, we moved into base housing (in Belle Chasse). Brand new; we were the first ones who lived there. It was laid out like a Philadelphia row home, but bigger. We had an end unit, so we only shared a wall on one side. We had three bedrooms but only needed one; it was amaaaaaaazing. There's always a down side, though; the yard was a swamp. Oh, and we were a New Yorker and a Philadelphian living in the deep south. That's never a good thing.
  6. From New Orleans, we moved to Hawaii. First we lived in an apartment in Kailua. It was two blocks off the beach, and ten minutes from the driveway to the parking lot at the Marine Corps Base Commissary. (It was considerably closer to the beach than the house where the Obamas stay when they're in Hawaii. They stay closer to the Marine Base.) The cons? It was a one-bedroom shack on top of a garage. The family who rented the house that the garage belonged to was AWFUL. I won't even get into it here because it would take forever to explain it all. But they were loud and rude and did way more laundry than one would expect from a family of four. (We had to share the washer & dryer with them.) Also there was no air conditioning and the oven wasn't properly insulated - I burned myself on it once. The outside of it. After it had been turned off for an hour.
  7. The base housing we lived in in Hawaii was my favorite place I've ever lived. If only we'd had that house, in the location of our apartment in Kailua, it would have been perfect. Again with the high ceilings, but Hawaii isn't as hot and humid as New Orleans, and also, we didn't have to pay the electric bill this time. Built-in garage; yard full of weeds where nothing else would grow (grrrr); unit attached on only one side again - but quiet neighbors this time; playground across the street; walking distance to drug store, ice cream, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Taco Bell, and the bank. (And Target, which opened one month before we left, sigh.) Gorgeous beaches a short drive in any direction. Very close to the hospital where both of my babies were born. No neighbors behind us, just the golf course.
  8. Now I live on the 5th floor of a 9-floor apartment building (8 apartments per floor) that looks exactly like the rest of the apartment buildings on base. We're right in the middle of everything, across the street from the Commissary (grocery store) on one side, the Elementary school on another, the gym on a third side, and Tokyo Bay on the fourth. We have a gorgeous view from our living room window; or at least it's gorgeous when the weather is nice. Most of the time it's just gray. Three bedrooms, 2 baths (one with a shower, one with a tub), decent kitchen, pretty big living room/dining room area. It's harder to keep the kids' toys out of the living area when there aren't stairs to carry them down from their rooms so there's stuff EVERYWHERE. I kind of hate having to take the elevator to take out the trash and walk 3 blocks to the post office to check the mail, but I do like the apartment. I like the way I've decorated it - crazy colorful and bright, with lots of big, colorful wall decals. Living in Japan, though? Eh, I could take it or leave it. There are things I miss about America and things I'll miss about Japan when we leave. I'm finally used to it, though.
  9. Next...? Who knows.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

a picture poem

Dirty
Time, time, time. See what's become of me. (Paul Simon)

Flirty
Marina's portrait II - IMG_8006 ed

Wordy
Words Fail Me

Nerdy
dragon con 261

Purty
SPRING'S HERE!: hairy starry galaxy

Purrrrty
Duffy

Squirty
Little Squirt

Skirty
Twirl into the setting sunlight

Shirt-y
Personalised T-shirts

QWERTY
QWERTY

Curd-y
lemon curd

Gertie


Hurt-y


Berty


Birdie
Lilac Breasted Roller Bird

Thirty

Monday, August 30, 2010

more wacky niche photography

I'm in the middle of a completely ridiculous project. I'm modifying an old digital camera to shoot infrared. The first step was to fix it - the lens cover was stuck, so the camera wouldn't turn on. I'm proud to say that I FIXED THAT SH*T. I fixed it hardcore! A little plastic gear had broken and a tiny piece of it was blocking the rest of it from turning. So my husband dropping it into water that was deeper than it was rated for isn't what broke it after all. (Which I already kind of suspected, since it mostly worked after that, although the memory card was corrupted.) What broke it was...my son. Yep, when DH got a new camera, he gave the old one to our 4-year-old son, and within a couple of hours, it was broken. A shock-proof, drop-proof camera. Broken. Almost immediately.

I've been doing a lot of research into infrared photography so that I can take pictures in the dark when we climb Mount Fuji next year. (If you do most of the climb at night, you can watch the sunrise from the summit.) I've determined that what I need is an IR-sensitive camera and an IR floodlight. (Figuring out how to attach a flash shoe to the top of a point & shoot camera so I can mount the floodlight to it is a whole different project.) Some people have speculated as to whether it would be possible to convert a flash to IR, but I don't think they've really thought that through, for two reasons. 1. If there's no IR light until the instant you take the picture, how are you going to compose the shot? (If you have an IR light source, you can compose using the LCD.) And 2. How is the autofocus supposed to function if no light is reaching the sensor until the flash fires? So like I said, IR floodlight.

As for the camera, all digital image sensors are sensitive to infrared light. So much so, that they put infrared-blocking filters in front of them so that visibile-light pictures aren't ruined. Plenty of video cameras have a "night shot" feature, where this filter is moved aside from the sensor, but still cameras....well, don't have this feature. There is one Sony Cybershot that can do it, the top-of-the-line bridge model from 2007. It still costs $1000. So the solution is to remove that IR-blocking sensor and replace it with a filter that allows infrared light through.

My Dad is sending me some scraps of developed, unexposed slide film that I'm going to use as a filter over the image sensor. (Unexposed, developed slide film is totally black, so it doesn't let any visible light through, but it does let IR light through.) First, though, I have to figure out how to access the processor. But you know what? I'm pretty confident that I can figure it out, and if I can't, then no big deal. After all, the freaking thing wouldn't turn on at all an hour ago. So if I completely fry it, it's no big loss.

The thing that really makes me laugh are all of the legal disclaimers on the websites that sell IR-Pass filters for DSLR's. They'll modify your camera for you, or they'll sell you the filter so you can do it yourself, but they warn you that not only will you void your camera's warranty (duh), but you'll be putting yourself at risk of electrocution. "Because of the high voltage present". In a camera. Apparently it can kill you. (So they say.) A battery. In a camera. I'm sorry, but what? Who would open up a camera and start taking it apart without taking the battery out first, anyway?

PS, if anyone knows where I can get a tiny vinyl decal (about 1" square) of an owl, and/or a raccoon, and/or any other nocturnal animal, please let me know. :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

another glorious summer day of sitting inside

I would like to go to the 100 yen store today. I really would. I'd like to take the boys for a walk around town, maybe have a picnic at Mikasa park ("the park with the waterfalls", as my kids call it). Or even just walk over to pick up my car - Brian left at about 4:30 this morning to fly to Palau, so the car is parked over on the other side of the base where he works.


This is where my husband is. Jerk.

The problem is, it's around a million degrees outside, with approximately one thousand percent humidity. About 14 seconds after you walk outside, you're completely drenched, and it's dawned on me that this can't be entirely due to sweat. No, I strongly suspect that more than half of it is CONDENSATION. Yes, that's how hot and humid it is: condensation forms on the human body, which, in case you've forgotten, clocks in at 98.6 degrees.

How hot is it? So hot that my sunglasses shattered. No, really.

I walked into the air conditioning, they were fine. I walked back outside and put them on, they looked like this.

Even my 4-year-old compared the air outside to steam, which is a completely accurate analogy. If you ask me, it feels like walking through a very large plume of car exhaust, continually and without that glorious feeling of relief when you emerge into the comparatively cool air on the other side.

Our air conditioners are cranked to "Hi", the dehumidifiers are running at maximum power (pulling several gallons of water out of the air every day) and I STILL can't breathe unless I'm sitting directly under an a/c vent.

Can it be April again? I'd take the cherry blossom migraines over this any day.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

hi! remember me?

I don't blog much because my life is pretty boring when translated into written word. After... how long has it been now? Almost 8 years? ...of blogging, I refuse to devolve into the kind of mind-numbing schlock that I wouldn't read myself. I went grocery shopping today. Potty training is frustrating. x days until DH comes home. Boring. And there's OPSEC (operational security) to consider, anyway.

I started a cake blog. Not much of a blog, really, but an online portfolio that I can direct people to. I did this when I competed in a cake decorating contest here on base. I came in 3rd, almost by default. I could have placed higher had I done something flashier rather than trying to showcase my own personal style, my technique, and, you know, the theme of the contest. I made some contacts, though, so it wasn't a total loss. I also won a $25 gift card and everyone who participated got a 1 qt non-stick Emerilware pot (with pouring spout), which I can actually use. So, you know, all for the best.

We've been in Japan for a year now, but it seems like a lot longer. We're finally adjusted, I think. It almost kind of feels like home. I'm a lot more comfortable driving off base now, and we have lots of friends. That's really the only thing that's making it bearable - the community. It just doesn't exist at this level at stateside duty stations. You have to stick together. You deal with crap when you live overseas that just isn't an issue when you're stationed in, say, Chicago.

For instance: I recently read a packet of information about how to prepare for the possibility of an evacuation. Living on an overseas base, we all have to have an evacuation kit ready in case of acts of nature, or war - evacuating is a much more complicated prospect when you're in a foreign country. I evacuated from New Orleans once (Hurricane Ivan, 2004); it involved packing up the car and driving to Dallas. (Basically a fully reimbursed vacation.) Here? You have to have a bag packed at all times with your passports, a full inventory of all of your belongings, and 3 days worth of food, water and clothes. Because presumably, it may take them up to three days to get you on a plane out of the country.

Being an imaginative person with documented anxiety issues, I can think of at least 3 action-movie-caliber reasons why we might have to leave our home in a hurry. One would be a Roland Emmerich movie (tsunami), one would be Michael Bay (war with China or North Korea), and the third (and to my deranged mind, most likely) would be directed by whoever did the Bourne movies. I'm not at liberty to explain further. OPSEC, ya know. (Wink wink, I'M KIDDING. Or am I?)

Unrealistic movie plots aside, time is measured in seasons again. Not so much spring/summer/fall/winter, as "steam heating season"/"air conditioning season"/the hellish month or so in between at either end. The weather here truly is such that, if I had the option, I would have the heat turned on one day and the air conditioning the next. But I don't have the option. I have units that can be set to "Off/Lo/Med/Hi". In the winter, they put out hot air (too hot, and dry). In the summer, they put out cold air (too cold, and not dry enough). In between, we have a space heater, a steam humidifier, and...um...open windows. And complaining. Lots of complaining.

But, hey - less than 3 months until our trip to Tokyo Disney! ZOMG!

Friday, April 23, 2010

the caffeine (withdrawal) made me do it

The vending machine in my lobby stopped stocking Max Coffee this week, as did the one on the way to Brandon's school. I exhausted my personal supply yesterday (I bought all THREE cans they had on the shelf at the Commissary earlier this week) so this morning I tried to make my own using instant coffee and sweetened condensed milk. It came out surprisingly good, but I learned something. It seems that the name "Max Coffee" actually does mean something, because apparently there's an unusual amount of caffeine in there. Which would explain not only the name but my doctor's shocked and concerned reaction when I told her I drank two cans every day. I don't know for sure how much caffeine is in it, but I can tell you that despite drinking a cup of normal coffee instead of my usual morning can of Max Coffee, I ended up with a screaming caffeine withdrawal headache today.

They say you should never go grocery shopping when you're hungry, but you should also never go to a department store when you're disoriented from a nauseating headache and feeling generally grateful that you never got into the really hard stuff, because you'd surely never survive any withdrawal more severe than this. Especially when you're shopping at a store where the modus operandi is "if you see it, buy it, because it will probably be gone tomorrow." I ended up buying a $45 pair of pants (NEX price) that *almost* fits me (because I'm damn well going to be losing some weight before we go to China); two pairs of leggings to wear under a dress I haven't bought yet; a bunch of new makeup - practical, everyday stuff as well as two shimmery iridescent eyeshadow pencils and nail polish in both teal and lime green; and a small boatload of toys that have been designated as "potty prizes". Oh, and the packing tape that I went there to get - 4 rolls of it. You'd think I'd gone to Target.

Well anyway, I'm home now, freezing my @$$ off (because "heating season" is over - apparently Mother Nature didn't get the memo) and drinking a Pepsi. And promising myself that I won't go shopping anymore for a while.

ETA: I feel compelled to clear Max Coffee's name. It doesn't appear to have been caffeine withdrawal after all, as the Pepsi seemed to make the headache worse rather than better. It was stunningly similar to the headaches I got when the cherry blossoms first appeared, but they've been gone for about a week now. So either I'm allergic to something else as well; I have a sinus infection that's causing very little congestion (the pain is definitely concentrated in my left sinus), or I have some kind of exotic head disease that causes blinding headaches once a month or so. Hmm. Thank God for Aleve.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

philosophical question. kind of. i guess.

There is a kind of fun, niche photography that I'd like to get into. Yes, another one. No, selective focus/shaped bokeh, fisheye and plastic lens (which I don't have yet but I'M GOING TO GET ONE) aren't enough. There's another niche that is seriously awesome.

I'm talking about 3-D!!!!!!

There are two options for ways to do it. (I'm not even considering mounting two different cameras on a spacing rod or whatever they call it. I want to take 3-D pics of birthday parties and the Great Wall of China, not a vase of flowers in a controlled studio setting.)
  1. Cheap 35mm 4-lens lenticular camera. (We're talking like $20.) Send film to Snap3D.com for processing and printing. Prints cost a few dollars each but do not require a viewer or glasses. You are paying for every print on the roll without knowing how the shot came out, but the results are REALLY cool.
  2. Stereoscopic (2-lens) lens for my DSLR. $163 including shipping, and comes with a viewer. The 3-D effect is also viewable by crossing your eyes (I figured out how to do it in like 5 minutes) and you can also use digital stereoscopic images to make your own Viewmaster reels. Which is also REALLY cool. You can get lenticular (no glasses required) prints made from digital stereoscopic images, but it is (considerably) more expensive than getting it done from film. On the other hand, you'd only be paying for the ones you really want. On yet another hand, the upfront cost for this method is a lot higher than a $20 camera and some film. But on a fourth hand (what kind of creature is this, anyway?) you can shoot as many pictures as you want until you get the focus and the exposure and the composition just right.
I should also mention that I'd like to get one or the other before we go to China (probably this summer) and there's a lot of other stuff we have to get for that trip. A lot.

So, which option would you choose?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

the answer: round 7

The guesses we got this time were blueberry, blackberry and boysenberry. Good guesses all, but let's think about this: if the answer were something as obvious, and normal, as berry ice cream, would I have posted about it? Probably not. :)

It's lavender.

I had a lavender chocolate bar once, and I kind of hated it. It was like eating a (distinctly fragrant) flower. But if there's one thing you can count on when it comes to Japanese food, it's that the flavors are going to be well-balanced. This ice cream was actually really yummy. The lavender-and-plain-white-cream swirl (pictured in the previous post) was even better. (White ice cream in Japan usually isn't vanilla - it's just, well, sweet-cream-flavored.) I'm thinking of going back just for the ice cream. Mmmmmmm. (ps, View that picture full-size to see how absolutely superb my macro lens is.)

There's a completely different variety of purple ice cream in Kamakura. I haven't tried it yet, so expect another edition of "what's in that cone?" the next time I go there. :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

what's in that can? round 7 - what's in that cone?


This is ice cream that we got at Kurihama Flower World. Personally I'm not too big a fan of getting something to eat if I don't know what it is, but kids could care less. They don't think of ice cream in terms of flavor - it's all about color. Boy, was Brandon disappointed the time he got green tea ice cream. But I digress. This is purple ice cream. What flavor do you think it is?

(PS, it was DELICIOUS. And I don't usually like this flavor.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Magical Flower Snow

Thanks to my newly confirmed allergy to one of my all-time favorite flowers, over the course of a few short days, my reaction to cherry trees went from "Ohhhhh, look how many there are! It's so beautiful!" to "WHY did they have to plant so many so close together? Puffy pink groves of EVIL!!!"

Still, when we passed by the trees on our way to pick up some dumplings and tempura and have a picnic dinner by the fountains at Mikasa Park, it quickly became apparent that we simply HAD TO stop and take some video clips. To quote Brandon: "Mommy, I think it's snowing over there!"
video
I really wish my camera took HD video like Brian's does. :( Pout pout pout. (I would have borrowed his for this, but he went and took it with him on the ship. Pshaw, what could he possibly have to take pictures of in Jakarta? Pfffft.)

By the time we got back on base, it was dark out, so I was able to get some long-exposure shots of the petals falling...



...and some with the flash.

I probably should have pulled out the Lensbaby for this one but I just didn't think of it. It was cold and late and Brandon was tired and whiny. ("I'm too tired to waaaaaaaaaalk...)

Once again, I'm REALLY glad that we got out and enjoyed the good weather...a day of beautiful weather is like an oasis here. There's never more than one in a row! Yesterday we wore t-shirts and no coats at all. (Until the sun went down and the cold wind started to blow.) Today? Winter coats. I could see my breath! And it's raining. Again. Phooey.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

more pictures than you can shake a (blooming) stick at



My enjoyment of my first sakura (cherry blossom) season in Japan has been dampened a bit by the fact that I seem to be allergic to them. I had a mild sinus headache lurking in the background for a week or so, and then all of a sudden one afternoon (after spending the morning in the park taking birthday portraits of Jackson) it exploded into something very similar to a migraine - I literally had to take a Zofran (left over from my bout with H1N1) to stop the headache-induced nausea. The next day, I was fine - until I went outside. Bam - another killer headache. That's when I remembered that back in my Philly days, I used to get sick during the spring. I used to get sick all the time, so that isn't really saying much, but I remember this one time that I bought a bouquet of all my favorite flowers at the corner store, and the whole week that they were in my apartment, my nose was too stuffy to be able to smell them. That's when I started to suspect that I was allergic to either cherry blossoms or oriental lilies. Well, I carried oriental lilies in my wedding with no problem; and now during cherry blossom season, I'm getting headaches that could slay a dragon. I think the mystery has been solved.

Well anyway, I started taking a Claritin every morning and I'm back to the nagging background sinus pain. It's annoying but at least I'm able to function.

Despite all this, I'm still enjoying the beauty. The blossoms peaked a few days ago - Saturday, actually. It was the first truly gorgeous day we've had so far this spring, and I'd been planning on taking the train to Kamakura anyway. I'm SO glad I took the risk and took the boys somewhere by myself. (It helped that it was somewhere that we've been a few times before!) We had ice cream, I had a McDonald's shrimp burger for dinner (always a day-maker), and I got a lot of cool shots with my Lensbaby.












Today, Brandon's preschool class took a field trip to the park to take their class picture. The stage the blossoms are at now is my personal favorite: when the slightest breeze sends them floating through the air and they start to cover the ground like some kind of magical flower snow.



If it hadn't been such a tiring field trip, I would've brought the boys back out to the park after school to take another round of portraits. But by the time we all headed back to the preschool from the playground and the picnic lunch, almost every single one of those kids was half asleep on their feet, including (and especially) mine. I guess I should have gone anyway, because there's rain in the forecast tomorrow. Again. Ugh.

Despite what that series of Lensbaby photos might lead you to believe, the vast majority of the pictures I've taken in the past couple of weeks have been closeups of cherry blossoms - some with the Lensbaby, some with my absolutely superb 50mm macro lens. Here's a few of my favorites, but just a few, because even I don't have the patience to look through all of them again right now.





I kind of wish the sweet spot on this one had come out sharper, but it's hard to manual-focus on something while your 2-year-old is trying to push you out of the way to grab said object.

I'm having trouble thinking of a good way to wrap this up. Let me fall back on what I learned in first-year writing. In conclusion, I have taken many pretty pictures of cherry blossoms ("sakura") this year, despite the evil, evil pain that they cause in my head. I expect that I will take many more pictures as they continue to fade, and that I will take pretty much exactly the same pictures again next year, although hopefully with better weather and therefore better lighting. The end.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

top 5 things I like about Japan

5. McDonald's Ebi Burger - Shrimp formed into a patty, then breaded. Amazing. And the sauce is super, super yummy. They don't have it at the McD's on base, which is a super bummer. I'm also a pretty big fan of the green apple Coke I get at McD's - you can add one or two "bonus flavors" to any drink that you get from the soda fountain. They have lemon, melon, and green apple. All you have to do is press a button.

4. Meiji HiMilk - I love all of the vaious Meiji chocolates - "Black", Milk, and HiMilk (I have a bar of White but haven't tried it yet) - but HiMilk is my favorite. Well, my favorite bar, anyway. I'm also a big fan of their chocolate-covered macadamias. The almonds are good, too. Oh, and the Kinoko No Yama? Addictively awesome. (I've also found them in caramel flavored and banana flavored, but the regular chocolate ones are my favorite so far.)

3. Max Coffee - Made with sweetened condensed milk. Tastes like a bottled Frappuccino, if bottled Frappuccinos actually tasted like coffee. Somebody keeps on buying up all of the cans off the shelf at the Commissary, but I can also get them, albeit for a little more change, from the machine in my building's lobby. Hot or cold.

2. Tempura kabocha squash - You may remember that I made a kabocha pie a while back. This is WAY better. Usually a restaurant will only give you one slice of kabocha with a tempura plate. But if you go to the ready-to-eat section at the back of Daiei (the "Japenese grocery store", as Brandon calls it), you can get as many pieces as you want. Holla!

1. Cherry blossoms - Yes, the only non-consumable thing in this list. (They do make cherry-blossom-flavored goodies, but I think they're gross.) There ARE other non-edible things that I like about Japan, but they don't make the top 5. The blossoms are taking their sweet time blooming this year. The base Cherry Blossom festival is today and they're still somewhat hesitant. I can't blame them; it's pretty damn cold today. It's also gray and yucky, which accounts for the pictures I took today not being as good as they could have have been, had it been a nicer day. But still, the picture of the day: cherry blossoms.


Honorable Mention: the 100 yen store. 'Nuff said.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mother of the Year: point & counterpoint

Point:
  • Brandon (age 4) recognizes The Beatles (and John Mayer) upon hearing one of their songs, even if it's a song he's never heard before.
  • Brandon has also pointed out a picture of Jimi Hendrix on a magazine cover. That's right, folks, my preschooler can recognize Jimi on sight.
Counterpoint:
  • Brandon, going down a slide on his belly and getting a friction burn on his arm: "Crap! Crap! Crapcrapcrapcrapcrap!!!!"

Friday, March 19, 2010

real entry to follow in the near future

I have many goals for this deployment. Basically they boil down to taking better care of myself, and this apartment. Better time management. Better eating habits. More exercise. More cleaning.

Brian left me with a brand-new MacBook and a container of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey.

I'm starting to suspect that he's secretly a chubby-chaser who actually enjoys living in a messy apartment. Just a theory, here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

squeeee!

I received this email from Lensbaby today:



Yay! Yayayayayay!!!

Today I also finally received the star filter and fisheye attachment I ordered a few weeks ago. (Almost a month...it felt like forever!!) I haven't had too much opportunity to test out the star filter yet, but it seems to be pretty good. I got a Hoya for $11, I really can't complain. :) The fisheye attachment is...well...really great - for $30. It has pretty extreme circular vignetting (the picture is a circle with black all around it), which is probably partially attributable to it being a 52mm attachment mounted to a 58mm lens (via an included step-down ring). The fisheye effect itself, though, isn't all that extreme, especially compared to what you would expect within this level of vignetting. Obviously the effect would be better with a wider-angle, 52mm-filter-size lens. (I'm using it with the wide end of my kit 14-42, 58mm filter size.) But honestly - who the hell makes an extreme-wide-angle-lens with a 42mm filter size? "I'm just not sure how well this plan was thought through," to quote a favorite movie in my house. It's fun, though, and I've gotten a couple of decent shots with it already. For example:

You can see how the bookshelf in the back, on the right, has a slight curve to it, but it isn't as obvious as I'd like. I still like this shot, though. :)

Shipping some time next week are my 50mm f/2.0 macro and my 25mm f/2.8 pancake. I'm a little annoyed that Amazon is shipping the lenses separately, since I had them shipped to my ShipitAPO address, which charges about $12 per package in addition to the USPS shipping costs. Although it's not quite as ridiculous when the items are expensive. Last time I had an Amazon order forwarded, it was $30 worth of kitchen equipment that shipped in two boxes. So, $30 worth of shipping/forwarding charges. For $30 worth of merchandise. Apple also just sent out our order in three boxes - MOFOS!! (I have a few choice words for Apple and their non-APO/FPO-shipping policy, btw. It's almost as irritating as Amazon's absolutely infuriating list of non-shippable items.) But again, it's easier to stomach the shipping/forwarding charges when they're a relatively small fraction of the total price.

I'm also still waiting for my Gary Fong Puffer Pop Up Flash Diffuser, which shipped First Class, which takes 6 weeks as opposed to 6 days for Priority (Grrrrrrrr), and my Lowepro SlingShot 100, which I had sent to my parents to avoid the forwarding fees. (Really, Amazon? You can't ship me a BACKPACK?? Really?)

And yes, I am pouring an awful lot of money into this camera. Hopefully this (very large) batch of lenses and accessories will be sufficient for a while. (Although I'm already well aware of what I'm going to want next...9-18mm ultra-wide, anyone? Maybe with a higher-quality fisheye attachment for said lens, for some extreme fisheye effects? Or maybe just a Lensbaby fisheye optic? Or how about higher-quality replacements for my kit lenses? Or a more versatile (albeit slower) zoom to take the place of both of them? And what about that ultrafast Leica? Or........)