Archive for March, 2008

Flickr, Cameras, and Photography

Canon Rebel XT

Everyone can relate in some way to photography. Some have elaborate SLRs, others pocket compact cameras, and still others have simple cameraphones. For quite some time now I’ve been looking into photography – I must decide what to bring on my summer galavants through Europe. The more literature I pile through, the more I lean towards purchasing a digital SLR. The benefits of having complete control over each picture far outweigh the physical and monetary burden of an SLR. I’m seeing this to such a degree that I’ve even thought of shortening the trip as to finance a good quality camera. Over the past few weeks I have been pouring through mountains of pictures – many being beautiful pieces of art.

Flickr has let me accomplish this. I had never really used the site before, but am now very impressed. I would definitely rate it as on par with the big names in social networking – Facebook, Myspace, and MSN to name a few. I’ve primarily perused groups with photos categorized by the camera, lens, or style used to capture them. This gives me a pretty good understanding of the capabilities of various SLR bodies and lenses.

As of now, I am quite fixed on a Canon Rebel XT body. This is the camera itself, and like all SLRs, useless without a lens. My predicament at the moment is which lens(es) and accessories to purchase in conjunction. There are wide angle lenses, prime lenses, zoom lenses, there are polarizing filters, haze filters, external flashes, battery grips, camera bags. I have read in many articles that a good photographer will look at the system as a whole when deciding what to get, not just the individual body, lens, or attachment. I will most definitely be spending the next little while continuing my research into the matter and will definitely be posting here when I decide to bite the bullet and choose. Until then, I leave with nothing but words.

New design, looking sharp

Having spent several days using Nucleus as my blogger, I am thoroughly unsatisfied. Sure, it gets the job done, but a website is a piece of art – design and functionality being equally important. I am now using WordPress. It is much easier to use, its potential is much greater, and there is much to it that I have still not explored. Installing it, on the other hand, was a nightmare. There were problems with Apache, PHP, the Mysql user accounts and databases, incredibly slow FTP transfer rates – the list goes on. I am very impressed with the company that is hosting my website – their support is outstanding. Even though much of my problems were unrelated to them, they went out of their way to help me. It turns out the support department is located in the Ukraine – talk about outsourcing.

Speaking of which, the other day I heard a rumour that some fast food chains are outsourcing their drive through spokespeople to India. Just imagine – cheap labourers in India asking for your order, typing it into the system, and then sending the order back to your location for the cooks to prepare – oh the woes of global disparity. Wage disparity will continue to be a vast tomb of extra revenue for corporations over the next few decades. Although it is nice to think that corporate social responsibility and the increasing ‘openness’ of which companies are faced will cause them to refrain from exploiting impoverished populations.

On another note, I completed my second day at the gym today. 2x60lb benching 3x(10,10,5), 7:49 2000m erg time, and the usual run alongside mosquito creek. I’m hoping to be able to bench 3 full sets of 10 repetitions of 60lb fairly soon. I’d also like to do a 20 minute erg at least a few times before the Sun Run. There’s only 3 weeks left, and I’m not nearly as fit as I’d like to be. I was also thinking today about when the Grouse Grind will open. With the weather of the last couple days it seems like it’ll still be a ways off. I’ve always thought very highly of the 2800 foot climb up Grouse Mountain – comparable to a 20 minute erg. The major difference is that with the Grouse Grind you can’t quit half way through – once you start, there’s no turning back.

Anyways, there’s only one more day of break left. Its hard to believe this is the last Spring Break of high school. I’ve got mountains of homework to do, and I’ve procrastinated, like always, to the very last minute. I’m hoping I can summon the strength to tackle it tomorrow.

Oh the weather outside is frightful

It’s not often we get snow in Vancouver, but on this fine March morning much of the city woke up to a Christmassy surprise. There’s no question the weather has become more volatile in recent years. It was only a few years ago that we received the record breaking torrents of rain that resulted in the fatal landslide of a North Vancouver residence. Yesterday we had hail accompanying sun and today, in spring, a blizzard of snow has descended upon us. Can these bizarre climatic anomalies be attributed to global warming? Is this not a paradox? If the temperature is rising, why are we not woken by rays of sunlight and a warm breeze? Maybe the writers of The Day After Tomorrow had it right – the weather is simply becoming more sporadic, more volatile. Mother Earth, perhaps, is lashing back in response to the decades of abuse she has endured. This also fits with equilibrium – nature will not sit back and take a beating without beating us back in return. We live in a cyclical world and as Newton so accurately ascertained, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Whatever the cause, the weather of recent should be seen as a sign that industrial progress should be viewed warily and if not careful, society will progress to its own destruction.

Getting back in shape

I’ve decided that after an Easter of never ending chocolate it’s time to get back in shape. I’d like to be going to the gym three times a week, but following through with that is another story – I usually end up going about once. I used to only do aerobic exercise, be it running, rowing, biking, erging (rowing on an indoor rowing machine), etc. However, I decided at the start of this year to start lifting weights as well. With the first lift I could tell weights would be much different than any exercise I’d done before. Aerobic exercise is not as strenuous at any given moment, but the “pain” is sustained over an extended period of time. In contrast, lifting weights requires a great deal of effort for each given repetition, but there is time between each of these in which to breath. The whole set is comparatively very short to an aerobic workout. I’ve noticed that weights require less mental strain than aerobic exercise. When running you can always push yourself harder – the limit tends to reside within the mind, whereas one extra repetition on a bench press may often be simply impossible no matter how hard you try. I ended up spending about 20 minutes with weights, 7:55 on a 2000m erg workout, and then did a short run alongside mosquito creek. I tend to think of a 20 minute erg workout as the ultimate aerobic exercise, but wasn’t up to it today – it has the ability to cripple me for hours. For a while now I’ve been in dire need of a new pair of running shoes. My two year old Asics’ are falling apart, the cushioning has completely worn away, and the last time I raced in them I ended up with shin splints for the next three months. I ended up taking a trip to the Running Room and departed with a pair of Adidas Adistar Control 5′s. They’re comfortable, I’m told they won’t give me shin splints, and I’ve got 30 days to take them back if I’m not completely satisfied. Now that I’ve got my whole 3 day workout plan written down I’m hoping I’ll have more incentive to actually keep it up. You can be sure I’ll be announcing it if I complete three days this week.

Is Never Back Down the new Fight Club?

For my second post, I’ll go with the norm and report the findings of my day. I had to make a toss between a few different movies (I’ll admit I did have the urge to see an 18A movie just because I can now) but ended up going with Never Back Down. Yes, just from the title it sounded like it would be one of those over-sentimental storys of a cocky teenager facing the real world and becoming a man. The movie didn’t hesitate to dissapoint. From that alone it is almost futile to compare it to Fight Club – a serious movie with strong motives and less emphasis on the romance, but more on the question of whether the ends justify the means. As well, the antagonist of Fight Club is much more renowned and certainly better suited to the roll than that of Never Back Down. It was interesting to see Djimon Hounsou (Solomon in Blood Diamond) in his roll as the aged fighting guru. His acting was good, yet not quite up to par with his performance in Blood Diamond. However, this may have simply been because Solomon Vandy was a much deeper character with incentive to risk life and limb for his son that truly brough out his emotion. The fighting in itself was realistic and definitely attributed to the movie’s entertainment value. The image of brawling men pouring their strength into ripping the other part was persistant throughout the film. I would recommend the movie to anyone looking for a good flesh on flesh action movie with a dash of romance, betrayal, and forgiveness.

New Blog :)

After much pain, labour, and strenuous contact with customer support I’ve got this blog up and running. My biggest struggle was choosing a skin. I didn’t want to have a bland skin like so many in the directory, nor font size that was too small, nor a photograph of a place I’ve never been. Fussy? Maybe, but I think not. The skin of a website is like the cover of a book, if it’s not up to snuff it won’t get read. I’m still learning the ropes of editing the page – I need to remove all the pottery and plant links on the right side. There’s also a copyright at the bottom which is firstly outdated and secondly to a website – yoursite.com – bland if I dare say so myself. I intended to make this blog for when I go to Europe, but writing daily seems a good habit to get in to. I must admit, Ms McEwan may have been right in her hawkish ways of convincing students to keep a journal. This seems as good a medium as any. Until I take a photograph of my own I’ll leave this wobbly tree up. Clearly not the most physically practical of conifers, but it shall suffice. Until next time, I bid the world wide web adieu.