Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The other kinda bikes

I spent Sunday wandering 4 miles around and around the parking lots at the Pentagon. The annual Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom was gathering for the Memorial Day ride downtown. It took a while to get into the shooting groove. With so much to see (200,000+ bikes and bikers will do that to you) it was hard to narrow down things to shoot. I decided something new and interesting to try would be to do a number of multiple-image panorama shots. The results would have been much better had I actually taken a tripod down with me, but I didn't, so I made the best of it handheld. In my attempt to get a good overall vantage point, I climbed everything I could find. Tarp-covered dirt piles, concrete street lamp bases, bigass electrical transformers, pedestrian walkways, and a WWII truck. I took about six panorama shots, each composed of 5-7 individual shots.

When I got home, I tried a couple of different panorama stitching tools to create my final images. A Canon program, one freeware program, good ol' Gimp, and Photoshop Elements 2.0. I wasn't too crazy with the results of any of them (honestly, tho, I never did really figure out the Gimp technique). Ben pointed out (in defense of the software) that I was probably trying to stitch the most difficult images these programs would ever encounter. A million shiny chrome bits, a million dark parts, plus a million colors. It makes sense that the software freaked out. Each one did things that seriously distorted the images. So I ended up hand stitching one set of six images and the results are better than the software did. I need to learn how to gradiate the sky so it looks more natural, but the seams in the crowds are nearly invisible.

The final image is way too wide to display here, so I'll just give you a link. It's about a 600kb file, so it's not small:

Bigass Pano 1

Monday, May 30, 2005

Shopping spree

Q: When is it time for new bike tires?

A: When your old ones disintegrate to the point that your green tubes poke out of about a dozen holes all around the sidewall.

I guess 5 years is too much to expect out of stock tires, huh. The good news is that I scored a new set of Kevlar Panaracer Smoke/Dart tires for half price at Performance. I installed them, cleaned and regreased the front bearings and tightened the front wheel of the ol' singlespeed today. Hopefully I'll get out for a ride tomorrow. It's been over a week since my last ride.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bang a gong...get it on

Sitting at a stop light the other day, a guy pulls up next to me rocking out to Robert Palmer's band Power Station's "Bang A Gong". And I think to myself "who the hell rocks out to Power Station anymore?".

Then today I find myself sitting at a traffic light rocking out to the Go Go's "We Got the Beat".

Thursday, May 26, 2005


So it ain't Sports Illustrated, but one of my shots from the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm race (of rider "Kevin") made it's way onto a web site for WaltWorks, an indy MTB frame maker (with permission, of course). Check it out.

(That page/photo will change eventually, so I grabbed a screenshot for posterity).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

dummm dummm dummm, dum de dum, dum de dum

So I did it. I saw the final Star Wars. Everybody's heard all of the reviews, so I won't get into it too deep. But I just wanted to share a couple of things (spoiler free...I think).

Why, why, why, oh why didn't Lucas see fit to share some of the writing or directing with somebody who could actually write or direct? I'm pretty fucking furious at him. This was the culmination of a large chunk of my childhood, and goddamnit, it should have been an Oscar quality performance! A fucking masterpiece! I wanted to walk out of that theater in tears, feeling like I just got hit in the stomach with a baseball bat *and* that my dog just died, becuase of all the loss I felt. We deserve that. Fucking *I* deserve that. The story was there (besides what he did to it in the first two pre-quils). The emotion was there (if not in the actors...in the audience). The myth practically did all of the work for him. It was his to blow. And he tried like hell to blow it.

I mean, really, Natalie Portman has been acting, and acting well, since she was what? 12 years old (think "The Professional"). Lucas must have had to work hard to suck the life out of her, so she wouldn't outshine the wooden Hayden Christiansen. I heard Hayden's abilities summed up quite well elsewhere "that guy couldn't act his way out of a paper bag". I agree. Samuel Jackson...same deal as Natalie. He's a good actor. It must be a lot of work to quash that. George came through tho. Of all the bad acting, I'd say Ewan was the best. Not necessarliy good, but better than the rest of the cast. Tho some of the situations Obi Wan was put in were just dumb.

Even with all the bad, I was still almost choked up at the birth of Vader. I mean, there it was, the beginning. As bad as most of the acting was, my emotion at that moment was still enough to make me gasp. That part was well done. I was a bit concerned leading up to it that Lucas would pull a Lucas and do something dumb, but thankfully, he didn't.

What else did I like...hrm. Well, I really really liked seeing the origins of a lot of the ships and vehicles. That was cool. You could totally say "oh, yeah, that ship is the predicessor of this ship". There were some other homages to the original Star Wars that were more obvious, but worked pretty well anyway. And like I said earlier, the story practically wrote itself for Lucas. It was cool to see everything come together. I wish it would have done so with more believable emotion from the actors, but enough with the dead horse beating already, eh?

So, would I recommend it? Definitely, if for no other reason than closure. Can I say I liked the movie? Yes, again definitely. Was I entertained? Yup. Would I call it a "good" movie? Not necessarily. An attempt at a movie that had every opportunity to be good? Yes. Would I see it again in the theater? Yes. For full ticket price? Nope. If you've been in for the first five, you can't really bail out now, especially if you sat through those last two pieces of shit. Also, the visuals are stunning (usually) as one would expect. If you wait for the DVD, you're gonna miss a lot of that.

So I sit here sad. Sad becuase it's a f*ckin' downer movie. And sad becuase it wasn't as good as it should have been.


You know what, thinking back on the movie now (the morning after, if you will) I have to take back what I said about Ewan/Obi Wan. His lines and dialogue were just as dead/poorly delivered as the rest of the cast's. I guess that leaves Yoda as the best actor of the bunch. And even his dialogue left something to be desired. I think it's pretty telling of a director's directing ability when the best actor in his crowning achievement work is a computer generated character.
Hey, look down there

it's my first official "trackback".

What the hell is a trackback?

Friday, May 20, 2005


Plagerized from /.

Critical Shortage of IT Workers in Coming Years

"The Herald Sun reports that IBM and university officals are worried about the increasing demand for IT professionals and the decreasing supply of computer science students. From the article: 'The slope shows an unbelievable decline in computer science majors,' Astrachan said. 'There are smart people no longer even signing up to take our introductory courses. We need to fix it, or there's not going to be a U.S. work force in computer sciences.'"

Evidentally, I'm in the right job field after all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Easy come, easy go

Adios 29er. Farewell Rig. Sionara Karate Monkey. Hello replacement transmission for my 2000 Nissan truck.

Yup. That's it. Dreams of a new bike have gone out the window. Starting last week, I was getting some serious vibrations in my shifter when starting the truck off in first gear. Looking around many Nissan message boards, it seems this isn't uncommon. More unfortunately, it also seems to herald the impending death of the transmission. So I'm looking at a $500, $1500, maybe even $2100 (or more) job (depending on what I can find for a junkyard tranny, and who I can bribe to install it). One shining ray of hope, the girl's brother is a mechanic, and he's offered his skills. Now I just gotta sell the FS to pay for the part, I guess.

I'm seriously bummed. Dogfish Head Ale, here I come.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Those who can, do...

...Those who can not, take pictures of the "do'ers".

(I have no idea who this guy is, but he seemed to be having fun).


This past Sunday was the 12 Hours of Lodi mountain bike race in Fredricksburg, VA. I wasn't feeling up to racing it, so I decided it would be fun to wake at 4am Sunday and go take pictures. Unfortunately, although a number of my friends were racing, I saw only a very few of them out on the course. Consequently I have a ton of photos of total strangers (see above).

So click the link above for more photos. If you know people who raced, point them here or to the pbase site. They're free to take copies for themselves. If they want bigger copies of the images, tell them to email me. While I'm still learning, I'm pretty liberal with the licensing of my images.

Also, special props go out to DT's girl for the loan of a flash unit for my camera. It totally made the day. Without it, the day would have been a total loss.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Man oh man. The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows is the best f*cking tool for Windows, ever. If you're a Windows admin (or you're a tinkerer), do yourself a favor and grab a copy. It just saved my ass again, when I tried to change the video drivers on our NT4 fileserver. Change drivers, file server no longer boots. Swap the video card. File server still doesn't boot. Try "safe mode" and "last known good configuration". File server still doesn't boot. Use UBCD4WIN, remove the bits of the errant video driver. File server boots. Gary keeps his job (for now).

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ride rehash

I've managed to get in a good number of rides each week recently. Being far too lazy to actually post about each, I'll lump them all together in one.

Last Thursday I got out to Wakefield Park for a demo day put on by The Bike Lane. I had hoped to ride one of the new Gary Fisher Rigs (29er, SS). No such luck, but I did manage to get in a couple of laps on a Fisher Paragon (29er, geared). I took a lap around the new trail, thinking "man, this 29er thing is really cool" and "this thing is really plush! I may have to get a suspension fork for my SS". When I got back to the parking lot, RickyD said "so what'd you think of the suspension fork...oh, you had it locked out". Funny how your perception of "plush" changes after a lot of time on the rigid SS. That little 1/2" of travel on the locked out fork made a noticable difference in the feel of the bike.

Monday, I met up with DT and took a lap around the CCT loop. The ride went really quickly and I was actually feeling pretty strong. Guess the skillz do eventually come back. After the ride, we each picked up our respective girls and met at the Wegmans in Fairfax for some grub. My sushi was pretty good, but overall I think the consesus was that this Wegmans isn't as good as the Dulles store.

Tuesday I decided to take a casual pace ride somewhere different. After work I drove out Rt 7 and parked at Colvin Run Mill (roughly the halfway point of the CCT loop). From there, I headed up towards Great Falls. Again, I felt really strong and had a great ride up to the park. Once at the park, I ride down to the shore of the river, take the phone out to take some quick picutres, and notice a vmail from DT. He and his swill ride just happen to be meeting about a mile from where I am. cool. I head back the way I came and meet up with them at the parking lot. After a bit of gabbing and wrenching, we set off back towards where my car was parked. Once back at my car, I break off from the rest of the guys and head for home, while they continue on their semi-epic.

Tonight is nuthin' but domesticity. We had mothers and step fathers and sisters and sister's boyfriends over for Mother's Day dinner on Sunday. Guess it's about time I tackle that pile of dirty dishes that's been hanging out in the sink since then.

Tomorrow I hope to hit the MORE casual ride at Wakefield.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Missing the point

Driving to work today, I saw a car...

The license plate:

On the side of the car:

In the hand hanging out the driver's side window:

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Pretty cool weekend

The weekend was good to me. Friday, the girl and I went out with friends to catch opening night of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". It had to have been the first time since I was about 16 years old that I saw a movie opening night. I'm not what you would call a "people person". This movie (and group of friends) was worth it.

The movie itself was really good (unfortunately, not "great" IMNSF*INGHO)*. I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to capture a full book's worth of Douglas Adams' flowing, fantastic dialogue in a 2 hour movie. And I was right. But they did a good job of getting the overall feel of the movie right, and put together a totally entertaining movie. The cast was really good too, tho I wish Mos Def would have been a bit better as Ford Prefect. He seemed too flat.

Saturday I hit a Summit Point, WV raceway for the Ferrari Maserati of Washington "track event". I attended one last year and found it to be a good opportunity for some photography (i.e. subject matter you don't find in the wild all that often). A "track event" is like a race, but nobody is officially racing. All the really rich guys take their really expensive cars out, and drive really, really fast around a race track. Since there's no competition to it, people don't feel like they have to drive their expensive cars like Mario Andretti.

I spent the day wandering the track area from end to end, and side to side (I put in about 4 miles of walking by day's end). Only once or twice getting yelled at for being too close to the action (ie: nearly on the track :). After a bunch of hours of cars, I decided to walk over to the far track to check out a motorcycle race that was happening there. I had a limited area in which to shoot, but I managed to get a few cool shots (missing the two crashes by seconds each time, damnit). I've only processed three photos so far, but you can see them on my Pbase gallery. I may put one or two over on eighteenpercent.net, but I'm not sure they're up to snuff for that gallery. I'm trying to post ony my favorite stuff there, and my more mediocre/snapshot/photojournalism (in my dreams) stuff on Pbase.

Sunday, the kid's lacrosse game was cancelled, so I took the girl and the kid over for a ride at Wakefield. Up to this point, most of their off-road riding had been limited to the cinder path around Burke Lake. I had planned to stick mostly to the creek trail (didn't occur to me how swampy it would be). After a lap on there, the girls seemed to want to keep going, so I decided we'd try hitting the new singletrack.

That went pretty well considering the newness of the riders. From the far end of the park (where the creek trail ends) we climbed part of the power line trail, to the point where it cuts back into the woods. We then connected with the new singletrack and finished the loop clockwise. In the end, the girl said she wasn't a fan of that part of the ride. I'm not sure what the kid's thoughts were, tho she didn't seem to hate it, but she was pretty exhausted by the end. We may have to build up our skills before tackling it again.

* In My Not So F*cking Humble Opinion :)