Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's best reads

Skepchick 10 best Skeptics. First look. Love it. Now on my Google Reader list.


Zbig Smacks Down Mornin' Joe On Talking Points Memo. Already on my Reader list.


Pharyngula - one of my regulars


Why do people laugh at Creationists YouTube video playlist.

Now, I'm off to do a little shopping.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pavement 9


Pavement 9, originally uploaded by Stephen Foster.

One of a series.

I have been working on a photo project merely for the purpose of forcing myself to look carefully at whatever is before me. I gave myself the assignment to photograph pavements. I try to get some every time I go out with a camera.

Pavements are so mundane that a strong image relies entirely on composition - there is little of inherent interest in the scene. I hope I'm getting images upon which someone (other than myself) will spend a minute.

Follow the photo link to the rest of the series.

Love and monochrome,
Stephen

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Madam, destroying a crab

She is CRAZY about crab.

Me? Clam chowder will do.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Back to School

I applied to iStockPhoto the other day. This was one of my submissions - perhaps the better of the three.

I got rejected! *SOB!* OK, just kidding.

After reading some of the material they pointed out to me, I have to agree with them. So, I'm thinking about what to do for the next shoot.

Composition And Impact

Are You Taking Snapshots?

Love and persistence,
Stephen

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why I love the internet

Pharngula - Here we go again...

My response:

Of course (and it has probably been pointed out already) the uneducated character of the negative response could be further evidence for evolution - after all, it is a somewhat sloppy process and leaves behind a multitude of structures for which atrophy is a good solution.

Yers, wandering in the Forest of Probabilities,
SHF

Webography for 2008-12-18

1.0 From Calcars
1.1 Electric-car race could strain lithium battery supply
1.1.1 Interesting article. Has some links I hope to follow in more detail.
1.2 Thomas Friedman

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Our holiday letter

Dear family and friends,

I hope this finds you in good health and good spirit.

It’s been a good year for us. We are well and reasonably prosperous.

Jenna (the incomparable grandchild) started kindergarten this September. She is an enthusiastic student because, I think, she is a very socially oriented person. She is also well endowed with chutzpah. Her teacher reports a talent for leadership. Somrak has the most interesting conversations with her; I hear about them in the evening. The child can think circles around any two of her adult relatives.

Supaporn, “Nam Som” is busy at Cal State University East Bay (formerly Hayward State) majoring in Psychology. She is on the fence between pursuing an MD or PhD after graduation. She is the academic power player of the family.

Suchira, “Nam Peung” is trying to keep up with Jenna. She plans to return to school at Diablo Valley College next term for either Pediatric Nursing or Early Childhood Education, it seems to change weekly. She does have a special ability to relate to young children.

David is also planning to return to DVC this next term for computer science. He is living in Pleasant Hill. He works in retail, for now; I’m waiting for his help in retro-fitting my pick-up to plug-in-hybrid electric.

Jitladda, “Nam Wan” is currently working full time in our hair salon. She looks likely to take over the business in the future when we retire. She completed her AA at Diablo Valley College this spring, in business. She and some friends bought a house last year in San Leandro – so far they seem to be doing pretty well.

Somrak is enjoying a hemi-semi (1/4) retirement. She spends some time at the salon, but mostly answers the phone and pushes the customers towards the daughters. She frequently has her driver (yours truly) take her on tour around to various scenic spots of the Bay Area. We are planning to visit the Grand Canyon in April, next year, for our 15th anniversary.

I am keeping busy watching construction work for Kleinfelder, Inc. I just completed a project for PG&E in San Francisco. I’ve been busy with my cameras, mostly landscape photography. I’m looking for weekend work photographing weddings and events. I’m also starting a project making portraits of people at their work.

We ask for blessings of joy and prosperity for all of you for the next year.

Stephen

Photon Addicted

There is just something about light. It's a kind of magic whose meaning I can sometimes almost grasp. My full understanding will, probably, come with my last breath. Until such time, I hope someone will get what I'm seeing, even if I don't.

My best way to die would be in my own bed, surrounded by the people I love. Second best would be with my finger pushing the shutter release.

Scott Bourne on the intangibles of photography

Love and light,
Stephen

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Failure, in Principle


Moss, originally uploaded by Stephen Foster.

Many years ago, while in the halls of Academe, I was taught a technique for photography that I only occasionally remember: "start close then work outwards". In this case I failed to do so. I got this shot, which I like, but I am unsatisfied with the rest. I spent about 30 minutes at this one tree.

This was shot in Tassajara Ridge Regional Wilderness, near San Ramon, California.

Love, and exposure,
Stephen

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cat Logic

Void CatLogic()
{
100; // marker
GET XItem;
IF XItem = food EAT()
ELSEIF XItem = toy PLAY()
ELSEIF XItem = comfy NAP()
ELSE BATHE();
GOTO 100;
} // CatLogic

Love and felinaphilia
Stephen

Today's model

After work, while there is still light, I'm in Las Trampas Regional Wilderness (not very wild at this corner). I've spent some time with this tree. So far, just digital frames.

Love and pixels,
Stephen

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Am I as serious about this as I thnk?

This morning I drove past an opportunity to make a great photograph. I came over a hill, on my normal commute, to a ravine vanishing downward into the fog. In my mind, the little voice was saying "stop, stop" but I did not heed the call.

I hope that the opportunity returns, but I fear that Fate has a harsher lesson for me.

All is not lost, however, I did take the opportunity to photograph Raymond Jacobsons's 1934 Dodge Coupe on Monday afternoon. That almost got away but for some last second haste on my part.

Love and regret,
Stephen

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Monitor Calibration

I guess I can make a small claim to be moving into the ranks of serious digital photo editors. This is a "Spyder" and it is the hardware component of a monitor calibration sysem. I'm going to see what I've been missing.

Love and chroma,
Stephen

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving food

Thai Pumpkin Soup and Turkey Mansaman.

Yum.

Love and abundance,
Stephen

Thanksgiving at our house.

Not this year, either. Our place is too small, too cluttered, in need of new appliances.

Someday. We keep promising ourselves.

Love and peregrination,
Stephen

Monday, November 24, 2008

Here is an interesting place to go...

Museum of Retro-Technology

I got there by way of StumbleUpon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vacation - Day One.

A walk in the park with Madam. I get more exercise on days off than during the work week - especially the dark part of the year. I hope to make a long walk Friday while the rest of the country goes shopping.

Love and paces.
Stephen

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nearing the end of the commute.

I've been driving to San Francisco daily since April. The project is just about done. I'll be glad to get a change of scenery and stop spending so much on tolls. I would prefer to not drive to work, but the project is 5 miles long.

Love and fatigue,
Stephen

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Wat Buddhadhammadharo

Worshipers at the Theraveda Buddhist Temple in Concord, CA. Madam is near the left of the frame.

Love and reverence,
Stephen

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Plug In Hybrid Pickup Truck

The following is an extract from a tweeting with my son about Hybridizing a pickup truck.

StephenHFoster
Beamish boy and I are planning to hybridize my Toyota Tundra. May take a few years.

See www.Calcars.org for some of the seeds of this idea.

Retro-fitting pickups, vans and SUV's would have a greater impact on reduction of FF (fossil fuel) use than the new, small hybrids.

DavidJHFoster I suggested pulling out the back seat of the cab (calling it a seat is GENEROUS) and replacing it with a battery farm.

StephenHFoster Large vehicles = plenty of space for the battery farm (how do you like that term).

DavidJHFoster This way he can run the truck while on the job site without even starting the gas engine.

StephenHFoster The IC (internal combustion) engine can operate at it's "sweet spot" the one speed with optimum efficiency.

DavidJHFoster Also Solar cells on the roof to charge said battery farm, the truck does spend a lot of time parked in the sun.

StephenHFoster The target group of vehicles typically has a higher total miles demand for an average day, so a hefty battery farm is called for

DavidJHFoster The rear seat could easily house 8-12 standard car batteries, though we should probably mount non standard battery packs

Probably a good idea to use the same thing standard hybrids do, only more of them.

StephenHFoster For important, in-depth background on PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle)'s go here: http://tinyurl.com/56vvp9.

Battery technology is changing pretty fast.

DavidJHFoster Reading something about the use of regenerative braking systems in pure electric cars, might be worth looking into.

An additional advantage of the solar cells on teh truck would make it possible to plug the truck into the house.

Pumping power into the house when the truck sits unused for extended periods. Also great for power if it was used to go camping.

Saves money even when not being used!

StephenHFoster The use of PHEV's for electrical surge capacity has been discussed on CalCars. PG&E is exploring an economic model to do that.

Regenerative braking would be standard. Railroads have been using it for decades

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Day Job

I am a construction critic; I watch other people work then say things about the result.

Behind me is excavation for an underground high-voltage power line in San Francisco.

Love and industry,
Stephen

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Sky Is Falling

Well, no.

I am disappointed that Prop 8 seems to be passing. I really do not want the law to have that kind of authority in my life. Perhaps in a year or so it will be time to counter with another proposition:

"The State shall have no authority to limit participation in marriage except to limit it to adults."

Of course this opens the door to marriages of more than two people. Ok, no problem, we are talking about adults here; it them becomes the concern of contract law.

Love and opening the flood gates,
Stephen

End of the Race 2

"If my daughters should be so fortunate to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what changes will they see; what progress will we have created?"

I think we hit a home run this time.

Love and halleluia,
Stephen

End of the Race

"Nothing became him in this campaign as well as the leaving of it."

McCain just gave the most gracious concession speech I've ever heard. The guy really is a stand up dude. Now let's see how well the president elect does.

Love and amazement,
Stephen

Apres Vote

Madam downs chips and salsa at Taqueria Los Chivos, right across the street from our polling place.

Love and democracy,
Stephen

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Lincoln Highway

I was channel surfing when I came across a show about the Lincoln Highway on one of our PBS stations. A little nosing around netted some of the following websites:
Lincoln Highway Association
James Lin - Lincoln Highway

My challenges will be finding a year or two to spend on a trip and convincing Madam that she would survive a trip through desolate Nevada and Utah.

Love and wandering
Stephen

Bradley Effect

I recommend the following....

Berkeleyan - Bradley Effect

SHF

Infrared Film

I have two rolls of Kodak High-Speed Infrared film (HIE) in my refrigerator; they expired in 2007 so I guess I should not wait any longer to use them.

I ran an exposure comparison test using the D200 and got an approximate 9-stop adjustment for the R72 (infrared) filter. The image came out black because the digital sensor is not sensitive to infrared.

Normal black and white film is slightly sensitive to infrared, and I've had some interesting effects show up when using the R2 (red) contrast filter. I had shot a test roll of HIE last year with the F3 starting at an assumed ISO=12, I think. I'm not sure I got usable results - though some frames came out.

Tonight, when it's dark, I'll lock myself in the bathroom with the house lights off and load another roll into the F3. I'll post here again when results are up on Flickr.

See also: Wikipedia-Infrared

Love and exposure,
Stephen

Buddhist Thought

"Your external home isn't your real home.
It's your supposed home, your home in the world.
As for your real home, that's peace.
The Buddha has us build our own home
by letting go till we reach peace."

-Venerable Ajahn Chan

Photo taken by cell phone at Wat Buddhanusorn, Fremont, California.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

In the middle of...

... reading Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, translated from the French Balzac et la Petit Tailleuse Chinoise. Translation by Ina Rilke.

Set in China during the early 1970's. A sweet and funny story.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm a Skeptic

Here is a link I got to through a Scientific American podcast.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm Published

One of my photos is published on Schmap.



Also installed at bottom of the page. My photo is in the listing for the Napa Wine Train

Time?

I'm burning the candle at three ends. This is last night's post.


...


shf

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Presidential Ambition

At one time I was wont to say that the desire to be president should be considered a disqualifying trait. Arthur C. Clarke had an interesting idea in his novel Imperial Earth. Go read the novel - get the idea from the original.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Earth

I also likened the US capitol to a quarantine facility; as would be state capitols, and on down to the school board.

Under present circumstances I've reason to modify my thinking. Any one without powerful ambition would decline the job with all the crises popping up by the minute. So all the politicos grasping for power don't worry me quite as much - somebody's got to do the job.

Love and kisses,
Stephen

PS. I'm putting my mark next to Obama's name.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Jumping in - Prop 8

I think about a lot of things - like California's Proposition 8, today because I passed a group of sign carrying supporters on the way home today - but I seldom write much of it down. As a result I find myself thinking in circles; going over the same ground again without making much advance. If I talk about my ideas - often with my brother, a man of singular wit and insight - I can move on to the next step in the current process. My brother is busy with two very energetic children so I need to take a bit more initiative.

OK, about Prop 8:

It is titled "The Defense of Marriage Act." If passed it would limit the definition of marriage in California to one man and one woman.

Well, my marriage is doing fine, thank you. I've been married to Madam for almost fifteen years, now.

I see the situation quite the opposite of the proponents. I need to verify the following assumption (vague memory?): at one time, in the past, my marriage would not have been permitted. I am Caucasian, my wife is not. At one time there was a line between adults who were permitted to wed and those who were not. Proposition 8 would put the line back - albeit in a different position, for now. Where the line stands is not the problem - the problem is the existence of the line.

Telling me that my marriage won't possibly be in that kind of trouble, we are civilized people, after all, won't wash. I claim the right to marry whom I want, along as he or she is an adult and agrees to it. The marriage format of everyone else poses no threat to mine - I do enough of that myself by failing to keep my mouth shut at the right time.

Love,
Stephen

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