Thursday, October 25, 2007
I've thought for some time now that one of the most interesting and extreme photos ever taken would be from the interior of a tornado. People often have wondered about 'ultimate photos'. Some of them have come to pass. Seeing the Earth rise from behind the moon was an ultimate photo visualized long before it actually happened.
I was fascinated with tornadoes growing up (and I guess I still am). I checked out all the books on tornados from the local and school libraries and read them multiple times. One aspect of the tornado stories that caught the most attention from me was witness accounts of surviving a tornado. In some rare cases, people were exposed and were able to look up into the tornado from the inside - and they lived to tell the story!
This ultimate experience was visualed in the movie Twister some years ago. The final scenes of the movie show the main characters surviving a direct hit from a massive F5 tornado, including a shot up into the twister.
It should be just a matter of time before someone captures video or stills from inside a tornado. I look forward to it!
So I now find myself pondering this camera and whether or not to ditch my aging 1D mark II. I love the 1D. It's a substantial piece of equipment. Beautifully crafted, nearly bullet-proof, and heavy as a lead brick. It is both a sports car and a tank. If I were to drop it on my toe, I'd surely break it (the toe, not the camera).
I'd stick with the 1Dm2, but since I use a 5D most of the time, the 1Dm2 becomes a lot of weight to lug around as a back-up camera. It uses huge Ni-MH batteries that require a huge battery charger. (These things remind me of the old heavy NiCAD battery-powered RC cars I had back in the late 80's.) Replacing the 1D's batteries (with Canon brand) is expensive - $120 a piece. Replacing the charger is an exercise in highway robbery. $320 for a battery charger? Are you f'n kidding me?
The 40D uses the same batteries as the 5D. The 40D is about the same size as the 5D. The 40D is physically very much like my old 20D, which served as a fine backup camera.
The only problem is that I'll miss the 1D. I'll miss the indestructable, take-me-anywhere exterior. I'll miss the well-built solid feel against my fingers. Handling the thing leaves you with the impression that it's made of solid metal, although you know otherwise. There's a dense packing of hardy electronics that work flawlessly to deliver high quality images. You can count on the 1D to perform.
I guess my hesitations are based more on my romance with the 1D than feasible matters. The 40D is the more practical camera for my needs. We'll see...
Monday, October 22, 2007
It's been years since I've built anything seriously. I miss my bricks and I miss the building process. But I've been apprehensive and loath to clean the slate for a new project. There's nearly a mountain of work to be done.
The desk is looking pretty good now, especially with a load of new bins for parts sorting. I like these large plastic frames that contain multiple clear storage pull-out-type trays. Things are looking neat and tidy now, and I'm finally seeing the faint light at the end of the proverbial dark tunnel in regards to finishing the huge clean-up.
The desk is about eight feet wide and used to be very cluttered with all sorts of stuff - books, computer & printer, cameras, and LEGO parts, of course. I decided to keep it strictly LEGO. I screwed-down a large oval train track so that I can run trains around the desk perimeter for entertainment. This is mainly for somebody else:
It's a thief! Stop! Who's stealing my plates???
Little Henry (my son) just can't help himself. He crawled up on the desk and started digging around :-)
So what am I planning to build next? Stay tuned...
Monday, October 15, 2007
All the Technic sets appeared to be a bit lifeless. From the photos and info printed on the boxes, I could not really tell what sort of intricate and interesting mechanisms lived inside the models. It's always been a selling point for me - the more mechanical functions a model has, the better. It also gives me a better idea of the parts selection (the MAIN reason why I buy sets).
But LEGO did not disappoint. The model contained a few interesting mechanical features, including one of my favorties: a clutch system used to engage/disengage power from a certain feature. In this case, the clutch allows the "farm implement" (the mechanical thingy hanging off the rear of the tractor) to be turned on (couples it with the drive train so that it's powered when the tractor moves forward or back) or off.
I'm not sure why the large Technic models were "dumbed-down" on print. LEGO surely snuck in a few good mechanical features (although not too complex) that weren't really advertised well on the box. They also gave the model very nice styling and appearance without using too many useless parts (i.e. large purpose-made pieces that only work on a particular model).
Now, if they'd just get back to using the classic Technic beams (the ones with holes AND studs), I'd be very happy! :-)
p.s. In case you don't know, I'm a huge fan of LEGO: www.texbrick.com!
Friday, October 12, 2007
Pawel - Kwak: Can't say much about this one. It really didn't blow my skirt up like other beers have done before. It was good, but just not as tastey as Maredsous or St. Bernardus.
I'm very fond of port, particularly tawny port. The best that I've ever had is the Don Luis Tawny port from the Val Verde Winery in Del Rio, Texas.
The Don Luis has a full, rich taste. Just a little sip will fill your mouth with a wonderful experience. The aroma fills all the void space in your head and makes everything feel warm and pleasant. It's slightly sweet, but not too sweet. It's just right. I can sip on just a few ounces and be satisfied.
Put it in a brandy sniffer, cup your hand around the bottom and let it warm up, then sit back and enjoy the taste and smell. Sometimes the smell is just as good!
I've tried a lot of other tawny ports (like the other one shown above), and they all seem to lack that full bodied taste of the Don Luis. They're good, yes, but just lack something.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I wish I had written down my assessment of these lovely beers at the time because my memory has faded and I cannot recall the subtle, wonderful tastes and qualities of each. I can only remember which ones that I'd buy again or not!
Aventinus: An excellent choice and cheap too! This wheat doppelbock is spicy and pleasing. I buy a few bottles (if I can find them) everytime I hit my local Specs.
Saison Dupont: A good all-around beer ("Belgian Farmhouse Ale"). Nice-n-tastey, good for quenching your thirst after a hot, sweaty afternoon. I seem to recall this won some "best beer in the world" contest a while back. Not sure about that, but it is an excellent brew.
St. Bernardus (Belgian Abby Ale): Now there are two flavors here: 1) Abt 12 - the blue label, and 2) Tripel - the green label. Both are classic "liquid bread" Belgian ales. There are subtle differences between them, but they are both hearty, strong beers best enjoyed cool (and not ice cold) and sipped slowly. Preferably on the couch or outside on the swing during a nice, cool evening. These are some of my top favorites (along with Maredsous).
Poorter - Hoogstraten: The guy at my local Specs advised me on this one, and I wasn't disappointed. Hearty and strong, much like the "liquid bread" ales, this one was excellent. I'm going to have to try it again soon.
The Reverend (Avery Brewing Co.): I came across this by accident. Some good beer-drinkin' friends of ours gave this to me just because my name was on the bottle (Avery). This one is a very nice beer - reminiscent of the "liquid bread" Belgian ales, perhaps with a bit more spice.
Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse and Westmalle Trappist Ale: I wasn't too impressed with these two. They were much like the "liquid bread" ales but lacked something crucial to provide that wholesome, full taste. Can't say that I'd buy these again.
** Note: All of the above (with the exception of perhaps the Dupont) are really strong and hearty beers. I use the term "liquid bread" to describe most of them because that's probably the best way to relate the taste (and calorie content) to people who aren't familiar with the typical monk-brewed Belgian ale. Drink them slowly and in moderation. Most evenings, a single bottle is sufficient :-) They are usually 8 - 10% alchohol and come in 3/4 liter bottles.
Anyway, the 24mm lens was spectacular. It is an impressive chunk of glass, dense and heavy feeling when handled.
The bokeh of this lens is creamy smooth and very pleasing. It helps to really accentuate the main subject which is razer sharp thanks to the good optics and AF system locking on right. Close-up photos of people, pets, etc. were very nice in quality.
I tried a bit of landscape photography with the lens at f/8. The jury is still out with regards to sharpness. The colors and contrast were super fine (the images had a bit more sting and pop than those from my 17-40mm f/4L lens). But I don't really see more resolution or sharpness than my 17-40mm (also used at f/8).
I'll have to work with the RAW files some more and make a few tests prints before I draw any final conclusions. The 24mm is a fine lens, no doubt. And I'm seriously contemplating picking one up for good. We'll see...