Friday, August 31, 2007

An ongoing offensive against neighborhood evil...

Ha ha ha. I just finished watching Disturbia. It was a really cheesy movie, but that line made my day. If you haven't seen it, I'm sorry you're missing out on all the fun.

And while I'm at it, I think I'll add another song to my official Buttshakin' playlist. I often refer to putting a song in the infamous Buttshakin' playist, but in all actuality, it's fairly scattered. In any case, the song I promised you is:

Taper Jean Girl by Kings of Leon

Thursday, August 30, 2007

One of those days...

Today was a horrid day. Lectures were boring, and my Advanced Organic Chemistry lab didn't go so well. I suppose it could have been worse... On the drive home, I was coming down 4th south when I noticed something on my windshield. Closer inspection revealed it was a headphone: a headphone that was still attached to my iPod, which was sitting on top of my car. I'm really glad I've got one of those silicon skin cases, or it would have been long gone. Cheers to these guys.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer, where hast thou gone?

Well, here I am, nearly done with my first week of classes. It's always hard to get back into the swing of things. That said, I feel as if I should reflect on my accomplishments of the summer.

Right after finishing up spring semester I drove to Albuquerque with my Dad. My sister was competing in the Intel International Science Fair. She did quite well, placing 3rd in the Biochemistry category. The major reason I wanted to go to New Mexico was because I wanted to visit White Sands National Monument to take some photos. I took a day trip down to White Sands, and took some excellent pictures. Later, I was disappointed to find that I had inadvertently left my camera's ISO setting at 400, which resulted in some excessively noisy photos. I originally planned to watch the sun set from White Sands, but I decided to head back earlier and save that for a later date. Really, though, it's an incredible place:

As soon as I got back from New Mexico I immediately downloaded the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta, and proceeded own n00bs. I felt that the beta build played really well, and took a little bit more skill than Halo 2. The new weapons and gadgets made for new and exciting gameplay situations, where ingenuity frequently ousted the standard run 'n' gun feel of the Halo franchise. I also found myself so thankful to spawn with an Assult Rifle, as compared to the traditional starting weapons of Halo 2, the SMG and Battle Rifle (underpowered and overpowered, respectively). My only gripe in the Beta was that the respawn system seemed to have a few kinks: the guy you just owned spawned about 30 feet from where you killed him, and is chasing you down before your shields have finished recharging. Spanking the same guy over and over again gets a little boring after a while... ;-) In any case, I throughly enjoyed the Beta, achieving the rank of Major.

While I played Halo by night (my personal motto is Carpe Noctem), I went to class during during the afternoon. After having the most wretched experience imaginable while taking a lab class during the summer of '06, I swore I would never do it again. Unfortunately, I realized that I should take a couple of classes to make my senior year at the University of Utah a bit easier. I ended up taking a ceramics class as well as intermediate writing. I rocked them both. Ceramics was incredibly fun. For the final project we needed to make a three dimensional object out of slabs of clay. Everyone in my class made a box or cube, that is, everyone except me. I made a dodecahedron. I think my classmates hated me, however they had the last laugh: I spent about three times the amount of time in the studio.

The rest of my academic time was usually spent sitting in front of my laptop plunking away at the keyboard or perusing sources I was using to write my papers. The theme of my writing class was Wealth and Poverty. I had just finished the book Bono: In Conversation, in which Bono spends a great deal of time talking about African debt and poverty. Following his lead, I chose to reseach, report, and argue on this topic. I couldn't have picked anything better to learn about. I did struggle with the large amounts of information, much of which was highly politicized, and the depth of the issues on the African continent. My final paper focused on the current debt of African nations. I was pleased to receive a perfect score on this paper. Thanks to my friend Megan for helping me with the editing (sorry, Megan, but I didn't take out all of the passive voice you underlined).

I was also able to take off on a few trips this summer. Most importantly, I was able to hang out with my friend Thomas, whom I met in Zion National Park. Along with Tommy's dad, Brian, we hiked the narrows, 16 miles down the canyon about half of that in the Virgin river. As if that wasn't enough physical activity for the weekend, the next day we went water skiing at Lake Powell, and then spent the night at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was an incredible three days. In addition, I went to Montana and Washington. Good times.

I've already touched on this, but I wanted to go back and talk a little bit more about my experiences a a photographer during the past couple of months. This summer, I have really been able to come to terms with my camera, especially with my macro lens (100mm f/2.8 for those of you who care). My familiarity with my equipment has allowed me to get some great captures in situations that previously would only have resulted in a poor photo. In addition, my skills in using Photoshop are constantly getting more refined. Last year I told myself that I wouldn't get another lens until I had built up a significant gallery of photos that I was truly proud of. While I never actually defined what "significant" was, I have definitely made progress toward that goal this summer.

This post is much longer than I anticipated, however, I've barely scraped the surface. The best parts of summer have been the little things: weekly lunches with friends, unlocking xbox achievements, halo parties, going to concerts, hanging out with friends until 3 am, slurpee runs to 7-11, and most importantly sleeping in until noon. It was an awesome summer!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Forks and La Push

It just so happened that I was in Forks, Washington on August 7. In case you are in the dark on that one, it was the day that the third book in Stephanie Meyer's series, which takes place in Forks, came out. While I'm not obsessive about the books (like a few people I know), they are a decent read. While in Forks and the beach at La Push (perhaps near La Push would be more correct) I took a bunch of pics for the more obsessive of the group. I also make no apologies for not visiting the local high school and hospital, or for going all artsy fartsy and taking photos of rocks and flowers on the beach. Somehow, I think you'll all survive.

Looking toward La Push from Realto Beach

Looking north on the beach

Wild Pea Blossoms

The only picture from Forks (not much else to take a photo of)

Seattle Pics Pt. 2 -------> Downtown and San Juan Island

These three are from the outdoor marketplace that Seattle is famous for. Have you ever seen the flying fish market on TV? Yeah, it's at this place. I'm going to refrain from posting a photo of the space needle, 'cuz everyone knows what it looks like.

From San Juan Island, we took a boat whale watching. It was pretty tight. I took a ton of pictures, but they all look very similar, so I'm only posting one. 300 mm of zoom has never been so useful!

There is also a Lavender farm on the island. It was another prime opportunity to bust out my macro lens.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Seattle Photos Pt. 1 - - - >Kubota Garden

The first stop in Seattle was Kubota Garden. It has a very interesting history, which you can read here. It's a beautiful place, and the overcast weather made for the perfect conditions for my macro lens. For your viewing pleasure here are a few of my favorite shots from the day.

I'm counting on my friend to post a comment and tell me what this one says...

Seattle Vacation

I've been back from my trip to Seattle for a few days now, and I'm finally getting around to post some photos that I took. The one above is the crappiest photo you will probably ever see on this page. I don't know exactly how a photo taken in bright sunlight could end up as blurry as this one did. In any case, I also feel the need to say that this photo is a picture of someone else's artwork. I figured it'd be the best photo for the opening of my Seattle post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Bad Show? 'Frayed Not!

So, last night The Fray came for a concert at Usana Amphitheater. I'd never been to Usana, and I must admit that I went intent on finding something to gripe about. However, when it all comes down to it, there isn't anything worth being grumpy about. The band sounded great, the weather was nice, there were no bugs, and the fans... well the only thing I can complain about were the fans. That's not anything different from usual, as I hate people, especially in large groups. What I didn't understand is why people felt the need to stand when it would have been easier for everyone to sit back down on the grass. Eventually, about three songs into the show, common sense began seep into the masses: "Oh, man, standing up on your own is a lot harder when you aren't packed together like sardines!" Obviously the seepage of common sense moved much slower in places due to the density of certain individuals. I took it upon myself to heckle the dude standing about 10 feet in front of me. "Hey, you! Sit Down!!! Yeah, you! Hey! Sit!" When he actually realized that he was blocking the view of about a hundred people he removed himself from our lines of sight, allowing us to concentrate on the show.

The show itself was quite amazing. Simply put, it sounded as though they could have put on a CD of their music and pumped it through a couple hundred thousand watt speaker system. Because Usana is an outdoor venue, there wasn't that terrible distortion that occurs when sound bounces inside a closed area. I also love it when a band does a cover of another artist's song at a concert. I believe it shows the depth of their musical abilities when they can take a different song, play it in their own style, and have it sound decent. They played a version of Shakira's Hips Don't Lie, and ended Over My Head with a portion of Wonderwall by Oasis. In addition, there were a couple of songs that definitely sounded a bit U2ish, which I appreciate tremendously.

All, in all it was a great first experience at Usana. Below, are some pictures I took using my phone, from a very long way away (I was seriously angry at myself for not bringing my camera). The photos are basically free from any details, but you are encouraged to use your imagination and picture what it was like to be there...