Ted Leung on the air: Open Source, Java, Python, and ...
Last weekend I walked through San Francisco's Chinatown and ran into celebrations in preparation for Chinese New Year. Today, I went down to Bainbridge Island's (first) Chinese New Year celebration. Two of the girls are sick, so I ended up going alone. Although it was quite wet, I did manage to take some pictures.
Yesterday Julie wrote about the tension between summertime and blogging (really all activities that can wait till winter). It's been a long summer for us, with house projects and lots of traveling to conferences and so forth. Now it seems like everyone wants to pack those last few moments of summer freedom in before they are all gone.
I do too. Yesterday I took a half day out of work to go sailing with some folks from our geek study group here on the island. One of our members spent a significant portion of his adult life building a boat, and now he is able to reap the rewards. It was very kind of him to share some of them with the rest of us. Especially the landlubbers, like me.
Rather than recount the afternoon's events, I made a photoessay in a Flickr photo set. There are a *lot* of pictures, so you might want to wait till you have time and/or a fast connection.
Here's a preview to whet your appetite:
Every year on Bainbridge Island there is a parade on the 4th of July. The island is small enough that it's a very local affair, and you are likely to see a few somebody's that you know marching across your path. This year, I tried using the parade as a photography exercise.
The full Flickr set is here. I took quite a few more shots than this, but a lot of them suffered from shutter lag problems, or my waiting just a moment too long to snap the picture. It was a good experience for me because it forced me to try to think quickly about what kind of shots I wanted to take, and the feedback from the digital camera also helped me realize the shots that I wished I had taken.
Later in the day, some friends who live on the water invited us over to watch some fireworks. They also invited a bunch of other friends, many of whom showed up loaded with fireworks. Growing up on the East Coast, there were only a few times that I saw live fireworks, and those were always professional displays. There are always a few folks in our neighborhood that like to shoot off fireworks on the 4th, but the proximity to houses puts a damper on the kinds of fireworks that you can let off. The story is totally different by the water, and many of the island's beaches are the site of amateur displays.
Inspired by some articles from Lifehacker, I set out to try and capture some of what folks were doing.
I didn't use a tripod -- not that it would have helped, since the various fireworks were going off in random parts of the sky (I never would have been able to swing the camera around fast enough to capture anything). There were quite a number of exposures that I didn't get because the camera would try to autofocus and during that delay, the burst came and went. During some of the longer bursts, I also ran into this problem. I belatedly remembered that the camera does have a continuous shooting mode, but I forgot about that while I was shooting. Besides, I was also talking to people, explaining things to the girls, and so forth, so I wasn't totally focused on just photographing the displays. The other thing that I ran into was being unable to control the shutter duration. Lack of a bulb mode made it hard to capture individual bursts. I ended up setting the camera to 1 second delay for most of the shots, and that worked for a decent number.
People who saw what I was doing asked me if I was actually able to catch the fireworks on camera. I was as surprised as they were that I actually caught bursts most of the time. There were a number of scenes of blue or black sky, but I felt lucky that I did catch a decent number of bursts.
The full set of fireworks is here.
Our family had a great time hosting the first Bainbridge Blogger's Bash. Chris, Chip, Mike, and Phillipe have the full lowdown. A few people commented on my burned arm (I no longer need the gauze bandage, so it's pretty glaring). I did the good host thing and circulated around. I amost did not recognize Dave Henry due to his beard -- it's been a while since I saw him last, but I'm looking forward to some of the stuff that he's working on.
I was particularly interested in meeting Adrian Sampson, author of iChat Auto-Reply, NIce to know that there are some other open source Mac hackers on the island, even if they are "young". It was amusing when Adrian asked if I knew his friend Sarah Gould, who also happens to be young. Sarah is part of our bi-weekly Bainbridge Island "Geeks" reading group, and I definitely know her. She wasn't able to make it, but I'm looking forward to getting both of them together into a room. Adrian, Dave, and Phillipe were engaged in interesting and philosophically oriented discussion about open source, communities and so on, which I injected a comment into as I was passing by to feed Elisabeth her dinner.
Mike brought his PSP and (accidentally) induced some depression:
At the top is Mike's PSP. At the bottom is a Newton MessagePad 2100, which I worked on while I was at Apple. I should have thought to open the lid on the Newt so that that full depression could be displayed. The difference in size and weight should be obvious. The differences in the displays, the 802.11b, and the retail price?
On the whole, it was a totally enjoyable evening.
Tonight after dinner I hopped into our van and hauled myself off to Silverdale, the no-ferry-involved shopping mecca for Bainbridge Islanders. You see, on Wednesday I postponed dinner and went to try and cut our grass, which has grown enormously tall due to a combination of some fertilizer, some unexpectedly warm spring weather, and lots of famous Pacific Northwest rain.
Ever since we've owned a home, I have used one model or another of Black and Decker cordless electric mower. We had one in San Jose that was starting to run down just as we moved up here, and when we bought our house, I decided to give the cordless mower one more try -- I wanted to do what was good for the environment. The cordless mowers are also super convenient -- there's much less maintenance involved. They are also enormously more expensive than a comparable gas powered mower, and as they get older and the batteries wear down, they have a harder and harder time cutting the grass.
I will digress at this point and mention that we have serious lawn genes in my family. Well, at least my father and brother do. The gene seems to have skipped me altogether. When I was growing up, some friends once teased me by saying "your Dad is out there cutting his lawn with tweezers". That was a slight exaggeration, but working on the lawn and yard was my Dad's hobby, and he was pretty good at it. Consequently, we had a very fine lawn growing up. Of course, it didn't hurt that we lived next to a gardening contractor either. My brother has inherited the gene from my father, so he got all the skills for dealing with a lawn (not to mention a house, a car or any other mechanical device). What I got was a good idea of what a healthy flourishing lawn looks like. That's mostly been good for guilt, because my lawn is definitely not measuring up to the family standard.
So Wednesday evening I set out to make the grass at least a presentable height (it is a beautiful color), only to discover that the Black and Decker had weakened to the point where it barely cut 1/3 of my tall lawn before the needle visited the bottom of the battery gauge's red zone. Last year I had a few instances where lawn mowing turned into a 2 evening affair because I needed a recharge in order to finish. The prospect of 3 evenings worth of cutting, combined with a bleak rain forecast, and a *very* *full* calendar finally pushed me over the edge and over to Silverdale.
Thus I found myself at Home Depot at 8pm, buying a gas powered lawnmower. The lawnmower guy at Home Depot seemed to think that most lawnmowers were good for about 5 years, unless you moved up to the self propelled Hondas that were twice as much as the mower I was looking at, not to mention overkill for the size yard that I have. The Black and Decker is 4 years old, so I suppose that's not too bad. The salesman and I had our moment of commiseration about how they don't make things the way they used to, and then I got on with the dirty deed. I've been through two of the electric mowers now. I've paid the eco-friendly price (and time) premium. But this time around, I'm going with the gas mower. Maybe in 5 years there'll be the Prius of lawn mowers. At least I didn't buy an SUV.