12.30.2008

Photography Tips

Here is a quick post I wanted to send out before the year ends.

As a photographer I am 100% 'self-taught'. More specifically I mean that I never had any type of formal education or took any paid courses in photography. The best thing I can tell anyone is to shoot. A lot. And everything. If you find a book on photography, read a few. If you have an mp3 player, subscribe to a few photography podcasts. If you have a computer(if you are reading this, you probably do), find tutorial videos online. If you can find a mentor or a more experienced photographer than yourself, pick their brains apart. Always be on the look out for learning opportunities. I am by no means all-knowing, but I am always willing to share what I have learned. I am not usually one to divulge any information unless specifically asked, but today I will make an exception. It is the season of giving. The following is a link to a YouTube.com user who posts informative videos. Go to http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=prophotolife and take a look. They are easy to understand and not very long. This is one of the better ones I have found on YouTube.com - I have seen some photographers on that site who are creepy to watch.

12.23.2008

Half-moon Arepas and Hot Potatoes

Today I was asked: "When you have a moment can you pliz let me know how you made b-fast :)"

And this was my answer, copy and pasted from Skype. (I made an arepa and potato chips for two. This question came to me after we had finished eating breakfast this morning. My girl usually stays away from the kitchen when I am making my creations.)

1 arepa cut in half
pam in pan
add arepa halves
let it cook
flip it like a pancake
add turkey slices on top
add cheese slices
continue to cook...
(kinda lowish setting - not too hot please)
store in nuker(covered) and wait for part II - the potatoes

part II - potatoes
peel 1/2 an Idaho potato...
i mean... cut an (Idaho potato in half and peel the entire half.
then use the peeler to cut up the potato into very thin slices. dunk into bowl
of hot water then drain water and paper towel dry the potatoes...
pam in the pan..heat it up

add potatoes.

add some butter to help in the cooking

add fresh ground black pepper and a small pinch of salt.
occasionally flip
add Enzo's homemade buffalo wing sauce. about 1/2 teaspoon max.
continue to cook and flip to get the potatoes nicely browned.
place cooked potatoes on paper towel to soak up extra oil (healthy now and
ready to eat).
now plate the arepa and potatoes

give the arepa a quick nuke to warm it up a bit if needed

Hope you have enjoyed my cooking lesson for the day. See you soon.

12.22.2008

Croutons

cape-cod-crouton-boat
From edouble's words


After doing finances recently, my girl and I decided that we really needed to minimize on the amount of money we spend eating out. The more we buy groceries and cook our own food the sooner our ppm (price per meal) goes down. Move to my neighborhood and try to avoid eating out. It is almost impossible. There is no shortage of good eating options within a few blocks in every direction. Nonetheless we have made a decision to cut back on eating out or ordering in. I have fun in the kitchen experimenting with foods and flavors, so to me this is also a challenge to improve my cooking abilities.

During lunch, (thin whole wheat spaghetti with meatball *gravy) as I was soaking up the extra gravy from my plate with a piece of bread, I had a great idea. The idea to make my own croutons. I had bread, a whole new loaf as a matter of fact, and since bread is the main ingredient in croutons, I could not go wrong. Now you can't just eat plain croutons, you need to add them to a soup or salad. I decided to add them to a salad since I had baby spinach, mushrooms, Spanish olives, cheese, and turkey slices.

As soon as I was finished eating my lunch, I grabbed three slices of multi-grain bread (any bread works) and began cutting them into small cubes. I had no idea what to do next, but I knew I would eventually need to either bake them in the oven or cook them in the frying pan. Being that the salad was intended for dinner, I had plenty of time to figure out the details. After a little research online, I had all the answers I needed. I did not follow any specific method, but rather took a little from a few different sources. I chopped up about half a head of garlic and mixed it with the bread cubes and some extra virgin olive oil. To the mix I also added a little oregano for flavor. Once everything was mixed, I just dropped it all in a hot pan that had been sprayed with Pam. In a few minutes the croutons were done. Of course it is a personal choice how crispy you want your croutons to be.

I found my croutons to be cooked just right and properly seasoned. Once added to my dinner salad it was a perfect meal. This was a low cost and very easy food to prepare. I recommend that you too try this at home.



*gravy vs. sauce - It had been debated which is the correct term. I prefer to refer to it as gravy.

12.18.2008

Se habla...

From edouble's words


This morning we took a walk around the neighborhood in search for our first Christmas tree for the new apartment. Jackson Heights is known for is cultural diversity, which I think is a bonus to those living here and also to any tourist who wants to expand their horizons. I respect all cultures and enjoy learning about their languages and foods. However, there is one language I did not know existed and am very curious what country speaks it. The language in question, as you can tell by the image taken from my Blackberry (aka Crackberry)is "EXPANOL". If you know anyone who speaks Expanol or is from a country that speaks Expanol, please contact me, as I would love to be enlightened with this information. Google search shows me 14,200 results for that word. Am I missing something here?

12.17.2008

Bayside High School

Many years ago I attended Bayside High School in New York. After graduating I have never returned. My only current connection to Bayside H.S. are a handful of friends that I still keep in touch with. With the explosion of the internet over the past 10+ years almost every person, place, and thing has a web presence. I googled "Bayside High School" and instantly I came across the website for my old High School http://www.baysidehighschool.org/

The site has nothing particularly interesting and is quite simple. I scanned the page and my eye was drawn to a section titled "Message from the Principal". The following is the first line in this message directly from Principal Michael Athy:

"According to local legend, I am the fourteenth principal in the seventy-three history of Bayside High School and, in many ways, I believe that I am the most fortunate."

Can you tell me what is wrong with this picture? I am embarrassed to be associated with this institution of education. I feel that Michael Athy is insulting the intelligence of all alumni, current and future students. Unless Bayside High School has seventy-three histories, this line makes no sense. I think the word YEAR is missing here. How can the Principal of a school lead by example and expect better standardized testing scores in basic English, if he himself cannot properly write a short introductory message? Thankfully in the second paragraph he does make a proper reference to the history of Bayside High School

"...who have contributed so much to our school over the past seventy-three years."

Is a little consistency too much to ask for? I think not. If you agree with me please help me reach out to Principal Michael Athy via email: mathy@baysidehighschool.org or phone: (718) 229-7600 x1350 so that this grave error may be corrected.

Thank you for reading, and now please go enjoy the snow.

12.15.2008

Moon - Very, very close to us

Full Moon As you might know by now, on December 12, 2008, the moon's orbit around our planet came the closest it has been in the last 15 years. I would love to say that this is that very same moon. Unfortunately it isn't. On the actual 12th I was busy setting up the telescope and making good use of it by aiming it out of my fourth floor window and observing the moon. Having another building directly across the street puts limits on our window of time to get a good clear look. Luckily it was a very clear night and every crack and crater on the moon was clearly visible.

The following day was just as clear, and to my eye, the moon seemed to be just as close as the night before. We set up the telescope again and got a few looks at the moon. I however was on a different mission. I wanted to photograph the moon. I pull out my D200 and slap on a long lens and... and... no tripod (It is still at my old place). I was not going to let that small oversight stop me from getting my shot. I just braced myself on the window frame and used the burst shot technique. This image is by no means the perfect shot, but I thought it was good enough to share.

Hope you enjoy!

12.14.2008

Playstation Home - Revisited

I have had a chance to explore the Playstation Home environment for a few days now. Is it the most amazing thing ever? No. But I can definitely say that it has a ton of potential and will eventually be second nature for users to launch Home every time they power up their Playstation 3's.

The three dimensional avatars are physically very modifiable. Every feature in a person's face can be adjusted. It was fun creating an online digital version of me. The clothing options are as of now limited, but I was able to find something that was me. The catch however is that you can buy new clothes at the Mall.

Yes there is a mall, but I did not find a 'Food Court', perhaps in a future update there can be one.

There is also a 'Movie theater' which right now is showing a trailer of 'Twilight'. Eventually there will be 10 screens to choose from. Once again, I would like to have the option to buy popcorn to throw at other movie goers who are standing and talking during the show.

The bowling alley is also worth a visit. Unfortunately every time I try to bowl there are no free lanes. But I was able to get in a few games of pool. Once I got used to the controls it was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to challenging my friends to a few rounds. No bowling alley would be complete without a few arcade games, and they the Home bowling alley is no exception. The mini version of 'Echochrome' is my #1 pick.

Home has even included an apartment for your avatar. This as well is fully customizable. I have my own real life apartment to finish settling into, so I do not have time to settle into a virtual one. I did change the wallpaper and move a few tables and chairs around for fun.

The bulk of the action seems to take place in the outdoor main area. Here like everywhere else you can interact and communicate with other users, play mini-games, listen to music, run, walk,sit, dance. Most areas of the virtual world can be accessed though here or via the start button menu.

There are a few more things that can be currently done in Playstation Home but I will leave that for you to explore.

The only 'issue' I can think of is that every time you go to a new area, it must be downloaded. But on future visits, they will be there and no downloads are needed. A minor inconvenience.

Hope this information was helpful. If this review is well received, I will have more product reviews in the future.

12.11.2008

Playstation Home

As was announced yesterday, Playstation Home would be released today. Some reports were saying that the release was going to begin rolling out 7 AM EST. Waking up early seemed like a good idea today. I power up my system... and nothing. After some more digging through forums I found out that once the update is actualized the Playstation must be turned off and rebooted. So off my Playstation goes... and on again. Guess what I see this time. Nothing once again. A quick run to the post office and then it is lunch time. I cross my fingers only to find out nothing has changed. I decide to kill some time with a little COD4 (I am slightly addicted - When I look out my window I get the urge to snipe my neighbors). Finally at 5:15 PM EST I was able to install Playstaion Home. The install was rather fast, but it has been about ten minutes now and I am stuck on the "Signing in..." screen (of death).

More to come.... Stay tuned!

12.10.2008

Not Gone

I have not stopped blogging. Do not fear. But where are my posts and new pics? Well there have been no traditional posts recently. What I have been doing to update my activities is use twitter. If go look at the right hand column of this site you can find out exactly what I am doing now.

For now I leave you with this image and a message. Pick out your favorite bottle and enjoy the day.

Many-Wine-Bottles