Saturday, April 26, 2008

my SLR camera..!!

Check out my new SLR camera.

Finally bought it. I always wanted to have one. It’s a Canon EOS 500N. It’s a film SLR camera. That got some raised eyebrows when I mentioned that to my friends. "Film camera huh? You are heading the opposite direction." was the general response. But, guess what? I am old school. I like things that are not over simplified by the advent of technology. I would choose a hand crafted wooden table hand assembled by a person, than a latest technology termite resistant, machine pressed pseudo wooden furniture made of compressed wood flakes. Same reason I like wearing an analog watch over a digital watch. It’s the same reason I like hand woven cotton fabric to anything else. I think a film camera has the real essence of photography that a digital point and shoot doesn’t match up to. It fascinates me to think that a device with a simple lens arrangement, some mechanical levers and buttons, some spring attachments, requiring no external power and working on simple principles of optics and mechanics, can actually freeze time, and save us a record of a past memory that we would have otherwise only had to carry in our minds.

IMHO, There is a certain amount of authenticity to pure physics, engineering and mathematics that a digital computer doesn’t quite measure upto. But having said that, it will be hard sharing the pics I take, cos I will have to scan them. Another reason that I purchased this camera, is that it came with a 28-200mm sigma lens. IT has the EF mount that is still the standard mount on most SLR Canon cameras today. So, I am hoping that I can reuse the lens on a DSLR that I would purchase in future.

Now having taken that off my chest, time to start clicking..!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

San Diego

Last weekend was a great trip to San Diego. It was 5 PM in the office when we remembered that the car rental was going to close at 6 PM. After some frantic printing of maps and even more frantic calls, we were on our way to pick up cars. Though it was me and 2 of my colleagues (Eddy and Crystal) who all went to San Diego, we all went in different cars, bcos of personal plans and commitments. So after picking the cars, and dinner at Indo Café near LAX, I was pretty much on my own for the rest of the weekend. I have to mention here that the Indo café was an Indonesian restaurant where Eddy took us. Don’t miss their corn fritters with spicy sauce. YUMM..!!

Country inn, San Diego - Apr/12/2008, 12:30 AM
Reached the hotel, checked in and hit the bed.

Country inn, San Diego - Apr/12/2008, 11:00 AM
Still in bed. Went downstairs to get breakfast at 9 AM, though.

Country inn, San Diego - Apr/12/2008, 1:00 PM
Was ready to hit the road. The girl at the reception gave me a sheet of paper with abt 15 locations to see in San Diego and directions to the place. It covered pretty much the whole of San Diego. It even had the nearby Starbucks and restaurant locations. Really useful stuff. She even recommended places for me to see, based on what my interests were. The day was bright and hot. I was keen to hit the beach asap, so after a lunch stop at a sub place, I headed to the Posh La Jolla area, which was just 1 exit away from where I stayed.

La Jolla Area (pronounced, La hoyya) 1:40 PM
…was freakin' packed. Traffic lined up for 2-3 blocks. The beach area was even more crazy. After a lot of searching, I found a place to park, and headed to the beach. The beach was simply amazing. There were hundreds of people swimming, surfing, kayaking, snorkeling, playing on the beach, sun bathing, or simply sitting doing nothing. I was probably the only guy on the beach with shoes (I took them off as soon as I realized that, and tied them to my backpack. Cant say if I attracted more attention now or before). There are dozens of little shops, restaurants, and surfing and bikes rental places right next to the beach. Since I was alone, I wasn’t too keen abt heading for a beach swim. I walked into one of the rental stores, and found a kayak tour into the sea to a set of natural caves about a mile away. I signed up for it.

Tour of the caves, La jolla beach, 3:00 PM
They loaded us up with a life jacket, helmet and a paddle, about 15 of us. Then we trotted to the beach, and waited there for the tour guides to divide us up into groups of 2, and put us in a our kayaks. Since I was alone there too (damn!!), I got a kayak for myself. We paddled our paddles and headed into the pacific. Jason, the tour guide tried to keep us together and safe. He even gave us some snippets about San diego history, sharks, marine plants, and some other stuff I could quite hear. Since I was alone on my kayak, I was usually at the end of the group, fighting to catch up with the group and what Jason had to say.

The caves were a natural formation due to soil erosion due to the waves. They were apparently used by beer smugglers during the time of prohibition in the US, to store beer smuggled from Mexico. These days, they are used by pelicans and sea lions as nesting ground. The whole area stank of their poop like anything, that I couldn’t stand it. But some guys dint seem to mind, and were there snorkeling in those waters..! Yikes..! After touring the caves, and avoiding any pelican poop from hitting me, we headed back to the beach. The return trip was even more tiring. After a quick wash, and a delicious veggie burrito and modelo, I was on my way out of La jolla.

Interstate 8, 6:00 PM
I wanted to go to the Old town area, cos it was a nice area to go to. Atleast, that’s what she said at the hotel. But I somehow messed it up and ended up going the wrong way. Like all true explorers like Columbus and Drake, I headed further, trying to make the most out of my error. I infact did, and found a mission trails dam and hiking area in the hills. I have kind of developed an addiction for hiking these days, after a couple of hikes in the San jose area. I was thrilled to bits of having found this place. But the place was closed as it was close to 7 PM. So I decided to come back the next day, and headed to my hotel.

Gaslamp, 9:00 PM
Eddy was in the downtown GasLamp area, and we decided to check out the night life in San Diego. I left my hotel and headed to the GasLamp district. After picking up Eddy, we walked around a bit, and finally decided on the Whiskey Girl club for a few drinks. The club itself was pretty cool, and the crowd, hep. The little tussle at the entrance between a customer and a security guy made it even more interesting.

Apr/13/2008, 1:00 AM
Lights Out.

Apr/13/2008, 9:00 AM
Still in bed…

11:00 AM
Was ready and headed out. First stop Coronado Island.

Coronado Island, 12:00 Noon
Coronado Island is a little island just off the mainland of San Diego. There is a bay bridge that connects the 2 land masses. It’s a beautiful quaint island. The centerpiece of the island is the 100 odd year old 5-star hotel that stand imposingly on the beach. Simply beautiful. I would want to vacation there sometime with my wife.... Zap! Back to the present. After a quick lunch (veggie burrito, what else) and lemonade, I headed back to Mainland SD.

Mission Trails Visitor Center, 3:00 PM
Remember I said I would trek here the day before? So here I was. I came to the place a little late hoping that the sun would have cooled down a bit. Dint happen. The lady there asked me if I have hiked before, when I told her that I have neither a cap nor sunglasses not a wet cloth to wear around the neck. Taking pity, she I went to the back room and got me a piece of scarf that was in the lost and found section. IT was still in the 90s when I started off on my hike, armed with a bottle of Gatorade, some chewing gum and that someone's scarf. It was a lonely 1.5 mile hike with lots of ups and downs, and at the end of it I was feeling like the wet rag (now fully dry) dangling around my neck. But I loved it. I then got back to my car, and drove to the dam up hills. IT wasn’t much of a dam really. But it was worth a trip.

I then got back to the room and spent the rest of the day doing laundry and sitting in the hot water spa and swimming (caused my eyes to burn for the next 3 days).

In short, a place worth visiting. Again.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Another week

Another week over. Had to complete a certification exam last friday, and I did...and Passed..!

Nothing much happening this weekend, except for some personal chores, and paying my respects to the horde of credit card companies who send me credit card offers on a daily basis. Its such a hige pile of envelopes, that I have to deal with, from a multitude of companies. I let it accumulate for about a month before deal with them. Why? Cos, shredding isnt exactly fun.

I have a theory that the credit card companies know that a lot of thier credit card offers will endup in the shredder, and adopt a simple trick to counter it. They cant really stop you from shredding them, but they can atleast make sure that you "open" the envelope, before shredding. Chances are that something there catches your eye, and entice you into reading the contents, and chances are that a certain percentage of people who read it WILL sign up for the card.

Mine is a shredder that I bought at Walmart for abt 22 bucks. It can shred 6 pages at a time, says the note on top of the shredder. So credit card companies make sure that their envelopes are fat enough that the entire sealed envelope will not go though the popular 6 page shredder. If you still try to send it throught, it usually goes half way, and gets stuck. Sometimes it goes through entirely, but comes out in one piece on the other end. It just has a lot of ridges on it. By including some junk paperwork, and fattening it up, the credit card companies make sure that you have to actually open it up, and only then shred. Simple, yet effective. "Billions of blue blistering, boiled and barbaqued barnacles! Damn..!!"

I started to read this book called Midnight to Millenium, by Shashi Tharoor, the guy from UN.(Actually, he was the UN Under Secretary General). Its been a very interesting read, so far. Will sumbit a ful review once I complete it.

Next weekend...San diego..!!