Entries for November, 2008

Spent most of the weekend playing piano: I can now get through the Revolutionary Etude at a really slowed down tempo. It's amazing how the fingering comes back after all these years. What a relaxing weekend!

Posted by roy on November 2, 2008 at 04:20 PM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

i am the proud owner of my first gaming console since my NES (my xbox doesn't count, since i only bought the console to do xbmc and not play any games).

i bought a xbox 360 and bought a bunch of guitar heroes. there have been (facetious) complaints from my coworkers that they have nothing to do during our weekly poker games after they lose their money.

now let's see them complain!

p.s. after playing a bunch of guitar hero this weekend, my left wrist is killing me. d'oh!

Posted by roy on November 4, 2008 at 12:17 AM in Ramblings | 15 Comments

"you're alive. do something. the directive in life, the moral imperative is so uncomplicated. it could be expressed in single words, not complete sentences. it sounds like this: look. listen. choose. act." - barbara hall

Posted by roy on November 4, 2008 at 10:12 PM in Ramblings | 3 Comments

there seems to be an explosion of comments on my tabulas as of late. am i writing interesting things, or are you guys just really bored at the same time? what's going on?


Posted by roy on November 4, 2008 at 11:18 PM in Ramblings | 10 Comments

I made it to the finish line: Friday! This week was a black-eye week - one of our professional service contracts just unraveled at its seams. Building out a professional services arm is hard. Besides the inherent difficulty of working with customers, there's an added difficulty when you're working with a complex product like Deki, which can be tasked to do many different things. The important lesson learned: understand what your customer is trying to achieve, rather than framing the project based on what Deki does well.

For me, the hardest part of building out this team has been just the number of context-switches I have to do per day. Factoring in engineering/product decisions, I have to constantly shift between different mindsets - this customer project, that customer project, (trying to) drive the next release, etc. I'm still trying to serve double duty by making sure things run smoothly on the development side ... it's made it very difficult for me to focus - I've had to relegate activities which require my attention span for longer than fifteen minute bursts at home (piano).

On a personal note, I'm not sure if this is a good or bad thing, but I cannot stay asleep anymore. I keep waking up at ridiculously early hours (like 7am), regardless of when I went to bed the night before. I've been physiologically unable to sleep-in, even on the weekends. I originally thought it was the East Coast time difference, but it's stuck. I've also lost my appetite as of late - my meals have been tiny (a couple of bites, and that's it).

But life is good. So I don't understand it. I'm guessing there's some latent stress (as much as I try not to be) from work. Fortunately, many of our smaller professional services projects are wrapping up, so we can focus on a huge whopper of a deal we're working through. All these projects wrap up at the end of November, so that should bring a huge relief to me.

Like so many other times, I find myself looking hopefully to the immediate future for respite. But unlike other times, this time I'm cautiously optimistic (but that's probably for other reasons).

Currently listening to: live - overcome
Currently reading: some krishnamurti
Posted by roy on November 7, 2008 at 09:29 PM in Personal, MindTouch | 1 Comments

had a good saturday - got up early (the streak continues!) and went biking. after about a year of being lazy and not replacing my flat, i got the bike fixed and tuned up last weekend. so now i'm being unlazy and starting to bike again.

i miss the nc trails tremendously - being downtown, the options for biking trails are limited. there are decent trails at balboa, but they're not technically difficult. although being in a desert environment, veering off the trail means i end up in a brush of cacti, so that's always interesting.

came back, and continued ironing out the fingering in the revolutionary etude. cleaned up my place, and worked a little bit on tabulas (on user deletion / banning at a system level to defeat those damn spammers).

having no plans for thanksgiving, i figured it would be a good time to figure out what to do. i started looking at the feasibility of a peru trip, but decided against it. after doing some research, i really want to do the inca trail hike (it's a 4 day hike into maccu piccu), which would require a two-week trip (gotta get acclimatized to the higher altitudes). if you do the hike, you get into maccu piccu by sunrise, which beats the rest of the tourists (who come in at 10am) by a nice 4 hours.

instead, i decided to just take a road trip up to carmel by the sea, which would take me through big sur (and the world-famous Route 1). should be a nice trip.

still gotta figure out what to do for christmas, but it was a pretty good saturday, all in all.

Posted by roy on November 9, 2008 at 01:56 AM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

hao, i have started biking with some regularity again. this should bring you much excitement, as i recall you would compliment the firmness of my ass whenever we went biking.


Posted by roy on November 9, 2008 at 04:46 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I figure it might go something like this: A room full of young, single hot women crowded around a HDTV while a noob plays "Livin' on a Prayer" on expert (Guitar Hero, World Tour). The song ends, and he fails to impress the ladies.

Calmly, our protagonist, steps up to the ring.

You can't deny the inner rockstar.

"What song are you going to play?" Without hesitation, our protagonist, without hesitation, picks Lenny Kravitz's "Are you gonna go my way?" On expert.

"Ooh, that's a tough one!" The young ladies swoon.

Our protagonist calmly then picks over to the controller. Confusion drifts through the crowd. Our protagonist calmly plugs in the default Microsoft™ headset. He then selects two players in co-op mode ...

"No, it couldn't be!" Gasps ripple through the observers.

Yes, it is. Our protagonist will not only play the guitar part, but he'll also sing the vocals.

Our protagonist absolutely shreds the guitar part. And not only that, but he belts out the vocals with the richness that only a man as virile as a puma could achieve.

This performance would be (rightfully) considered the best rock performance ever.

As the song ends (the game somehow knows how to give our protagonist a six-star performance), panties come flying off from every direction. They assault our protagonist, who revels in his awesomeness.

. . .

At least that's how I imagined it. The reality is that the Microsoft™ default headset is horrible for singing. I could blame my vocals (which sound like the wailings of a dying duck), but jeez, I was in the boys choir! How could it be me?

But yes, I did put 2 + 2 together this past weekend and tried to do the guitar parts and the vocals at the same time.

Posted by roy on November 10, 2008 at 10:36 PM in Foolishness | 6 Comments

so what's everybody up to these days?

Posted by roy on November 14, 2008 at 07:32 PM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

i really like this one (i've embedded the song at the bottom of this post)

jimmy eat world - work

if you only once would let me
only just one time
then be happy with the consequence
with whatever's gonna happen tonight
don't think we're not serious
when's it ever not?
the love we make it's give and it's take
i'm game to play along

all i can say
i shouldn't say
can we take a ride?
get out of this place
while we still have time?

all the best djs are saving
the slowest song for last
when the dance is through
its me and you
come on, would it really be so bad?

the things we think might be the same
but i won't fight more
its just not me to wear it on my sleeve
count on the for sure

all i can say
i shouldn't say
can we take a ride?
get out of this place
while we still have time
you wanna take a ride?
get out of this place
while we still have time
yeah - we still have time

can't say i was never wrong
but some blame rests on you
work and play they're never ok to mix
to mix the way we do

Posted by roy on November 15, 2008 at 11:22 PM in Music | Add a comment

So the running joke at the office is that I live in the ghetto. It's not altogether false - there are a large number of vagrants and tattoo shops in my immediate vicinity (but things are slowly getting better - for example, a 7-11 just opened up underneath me! (It did make things seem less ghetto-y).

Anyways, I park my car a couple blocks to the east in a surface lot. It's not exactly the most uplifting place, and I knew I was gambling when moving away from my nice garage (who wanted $250/month!)

Well, much to my delight, when I got to my car today, the driver side window was smashed! Yay! I became yet another statistic as a victim of non-violent property crime! 

Here's the rub: the car was obviously ransacked - the car's owner manual was strewn out on the driver seat, and the glove compartment was left open.

But reasons beyond my fathoming - they left behind a $50 gas gift card as well as my iPod. What? Is it 'cause it was a 3G iPod? They also left my prescription sunglasses on the seat - were they not good enough to steal?

All in all, they were pretty considerate criminals. They only busted up my driver side seat window and stole ... absolutely nothing.

I guess the only winners are the people coming to replace my car window tomorrow. Lovely!

Posted by roy on November 16, 2008 at 03:35 PM in San Diego | 8 Comments

a nice change of musical genres for me, at least.

here's the embed to listen:

robin thicke - dreamworld

I would be you, you would be me, we would be one, we would be just fine
The ice caps wouldn't be melting and neither would I
I would just drive my big old car and everything would be alright
And energy would just fall down right from the sky

Words would fly right from out of my mind,
out of my mind... into your heart... into your life
And everything would sound just right,
and no one would stop me from drinking my wine

That's my dreamworld, that's my dreamworld, it's more than a dream...
Dreamworld, that's my dreamworld, and I wanna live in my dream

Oh, the real world just don't feel right
I wouldn't spend my days searching for... searching for lost time
I wouldn't be so damn sensitive, I'd let things go by
No matter what the weather,
I'd learn to change... I'd change with the time

And everytime I need a woman,
she'd appear right by me
she hold me tight, treat me right, and tell me that
everything is gonna be, is gonna be alright... alright

That's my dreamworld, that's my dreamworld

I would tell Van Gogh that he was loved, there's no need to cry
I would say, "Marvin Gaye, your father didn't want you to die"
There would be no black and white, the world just treat my wife right
We could walk down the Mississippi and no one would look at us twice

That's my dreamworld, that's my dreamworld, it's more than a dream...
Dreamworld, that's my dreamworld, and I wanna live in my dream

Posted by roy on November 19, 2008 at 02:40 AM in Music | Add a comment

So it's technically *not* a dream, but one of my life goals has been to cook Thanksgiving dinner (the turkey, the ham, the gravy, and stuffing, etc.). It looks like I'll have a shot of fulfilling this goal next week. 

Thing is, I know absolutely nothing at all. Anybody got some tips? Any particular recipes work out well for you guys?

. . .

I'm not kidding, but I received "fan" submissions to roycanhascheezburger.com: (first two courtesy of the juice, last 4 by tone-x). i'm not sure how to feel about these. given how much self-centered crap i write, it's probably good to balance it out with some humility:


. . .

There have been some murmurs lately. "Roy, are you gonna do those Christmas photos again?"

If you missed it, I went to Sears photo studio last year to make the most ridiculous Christmas cards ever:

Note the awesome women's Christmas sweater, the ridiculous hand pose, and the super awkward smile

I'm honestly NOT sure how to top these cards this year. I've been trying to figure out what else I could possibly do ... any ideas would be greatly appreciated - remember I'm shameless and I'll do nearly anything.

Currently listening to: Ozzy Osbourne - Mr. Crowley
Currently feeling: optimistic
Posted by roy on November 20, 2008 at 01:27 AM in Ramblings, Foolishness | 5 Comments

While Tabula Rasa may be shutting down, Tabulas will live forever!


Posted by roy on November 21, 2008 at 10:36 PM in Ramblings | 2 Comments

february, 2007:

november, 2008:

(my seat is the one in the middle) (and this is only half the company!)

by the way, my coworker got a fish-eye lens (the same exact one i ordered a few days ago, too!) - that thing is a lot of fun.

by the way, here is corey of lvtc fame; he is posing with the autographed picture he gave me:

Posted by roy on November 21, 2008 at 11:08 PM in Photography, MindTouch | 2 Comments

The US has one of the most vibrant, dynamic, and efficient automobile industries in the world. It produces several million cars, trucks, and SUVs per year, employing (in 2006) 402,800 Americans at an average salary of $63,358. That’s vehicle assembly alone; the rest of the supply chain employs even more people and generates more income. It’s an industry to be proud of. Its products are among the best in the world. Their names are Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru. (source)

I have full faith that Congress nor Barack will not bail out the auto industry. Protectionist attitudes only cause other countries to respond in force, which just kills global trade.

The auto industry, simply put, sucks: (source) (emphasis mine)

In 1993, the legendary economist Michael Jensen gave his presidential address to the American Finance Association. Mr. Jensen's presentation included a ranking of which U.S. companies had made the most money-losing investments during the decade of the 1980s. The top two companies on his list were General Motors and Ford, which between them had destroyed $110 billion in capital between 1980 and 1990, according to Mr. Jensen's calculations.


Over the past decade, the capital destruction by GM has been breathtaking, on a greater scale than documented by Mr. Jensen for the 1980s. GM has invested $310 billion in its business between 1998 and 2007. The total depreciation of GM's physical plant during this period was $128 billion, meaning that a net $182 billion of society's capital has been pumped into GM over the past decade -- a waste of about $1.5 billion per month of national savings. The story at Ford has not been as adverse but is still disheartening, as Ford has invested $155 billion and consumed $8 billion net of depreciation since 1998.

As a society, we have very little to show for this $465 billion. At the end of 1998, GM's market capitalization was $46 billion and Ford's was $71 billion. Today both firms have negligible value, with share prices in the low single digits. Both are facing imminent bankruptcy and delisting from the major stock exchanges. Along with management, the companies' unions and even their regulators in Washington may have their own culpability, a topic that merits its own separate discussion. Yet one can only imagine how the $465 billion could have been used better -- for instance, GM and Ford could have closed their own facilities and acquired all of the shares of Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Volkswagen.

Basically put, the auto industry destroyed a lot of capital, when it could have bought out all those successful companies (and would probably have run them out of business too, really). They are not good businesses - they suck at making money. So why should we continue to bail them out?

It's a bit of a different beast with financial companies - they are being held captive by a massive liquidity crisis that is toppling whole sovereign nations. Such an external shock requires a lender of last resort, but by my observations, the auto industry wasn't subjected to a once-in-a-lifetime external shock (a bad economy doesn't count - if we use that excuse, then we should bail out everybody) - they were poorly run companies.

Had the auto industry not placed so much emphasis on cars, maybe they could have weathered this storm. Look at Porsche or GE - these are both companies that were build stuff, but most of their profits are derived from other arms (although both have been suffering as of late with the credit crisis).

Posted by roy on November 22, 2008 at 12:51 PM in Finances | Add a comment

Posted by roy on November 23, 2008 at 02:50 AM in Photography, San Diego | 2 Comments

Best viewed at original size


Currently listening to: Wallflower - One Headlight
Posted by roy on November 23, 2008 at 10:32 PM in Photography, San Diego | 3 Comments

"oh babe, i know it's alive / and somewhere for us to find tonight / chase this light with me" - jimmy eat world

Posted by roy on November 24, 2008 at 02:15 PM in Photography, San Diego | 11 Comments

So guess what new toy I got? Yes, kids ... a Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens! Since I lack a full-frame digital SLR (Canon 5D - hint hint), the fisheye effect on my Rebel XTI is less pronounced. But this gave me a reason to shoot off a roll of Tri-X on my Elan 7. Now to send in my first roll of film since the Vietnam/Korea trip ... :)

Anyways, I had a lot of fun just taking shots close to where I live with this - these pictures aren't meant to be good in any way - they're just fun pictures I took tonight (I did take a lot of effort in setting up those beach pictures - these are coming straight off the memory card!). Once I get the hang of this lens, I may try to take some better pictures, but for now, I'm having a lot of fun.

Yay for where I live!

Yay for the US Grant and distortion!




I'm really looking forward to getting the Tri-X back.

So my short lens review: this lens is pretty awesome. The f/2.8 and wide angle actually makes it perfect (in my opinion) for shooting cities at night. It's weird to hear the autofocus motor whir (too used to USM, I guess). But it's a really fun lens.

I have a pretty awesome roadtrip up to Big Sur/Carmel over Thanksgiving, so I'm pretty pumped to make use of this new lens - the limited sensor size on my Rebel may force me to start shooting film again (time to find me some Velvia 50...)

Edit: If the friggin economy hadn't crapped out, and I had some capital gains to show for this year, I'd totally get the Canon 5D. Dag it. Now I have to actually wait and save. Blah!

Posted by roy on November 25, 2008 at 12:34 AM in Photography, San Diego | 6 Comments

A few nights ago, I was getting really frustrated with my camera.

"Gosh, how the heck do I set a custom white balance?" (the language wasn't so PG-13)

While playing around with the AEB settings on the Rebel, I realized there *was* a custom white balance feature. D'oh.

For those of you who haven't yet figured this out yet, go to "Menu", and go to the Camera 2 options - select "Custom WB", and then select a picture to serve as a baseline. Done.

The difference?

Of course, I do like the orange effect in certain photos - it does seem more "natural" to night-time city photography (everything sure seems orange to me). But sometimes you want to rip the warmness out (as it was when I was photographing that abandoned building).

There you go, something useful.


Posted by roy on November 25, 2008 at 09:53 PM in Photography | Add a comment

so here's a fun game to play at the beach. you take a group of your friends, and you line them up, with their backs towards you.

the game is, you throw the football at them, and they have to all jump and turn around and try to catch the football.

now, your goal is to aim for their nads - the moment they turn around, you want to nail them. their goal, much like those guys who defend against soccer free kicks, is to defend their crown jewels.

i had a lot of fun playing this game when i was back in nc - you can tell by how much i'm grinning:

by the way, doesn't that picture make me look somewhat athletic? like i know what i'm doing?? doesn't it??? this could be the most normal picture of me ever taken.


Posted by roy on November 25, 2008 at 10:56 PM in Ramblings | 7 Comments

One of the things I miss about North Carolina are the cool fall rains. There's nothing better to fall asleep to than the pitter patter of the rainfall.

It does not rain in San Diego. Ever. But, as luck would have it, it is raining very steadily tonight - it's just like the rainfalls at home!

To go to bed, hearing the melodic drumming of the raindrops on the streets below ... so awesome.

Posted by roy on November 26, 2008 at 01:33 AM in Ramblings, San Diego | 2 Comments

I succeeded in helping to cook a Thanksgiving dinner! It wasn't as hard as I imagined - just really time consuming. I now feel confident I can fly solo next year and do the whole meal myself ;)

Some pictures from tonight: (full album)

The turkey came out really well - was not overcooked, and had great flavor!

I helped make this cheesecake last night - which turned out really great. I'm gonna get a copy of that recipe for myself!

Enjoying the company in the kitchen while cooking

Coworker Guerric (on left), who owns the awesome cheesecake recipe, and did a ton of cooking (I just helped out)

Dinner is served!

Mmm, deserts.

Chairs were in great demand; we ended up with quite an assortment.

This is the solution we came up with when trying to make more space.

Post-meal happiness

. . .

Now I'm getting ready for my 3-day road trip up to Carmel-By-The-Sea and Big Sur tomorrow. I've figured out the most important thing: the soundtrack. I'm leaning heavily towards Red Hot Chili Peppers (very chill, cruising music).

I'll see you guys on Sunday night, and I hope all of you had a fantastic Thanksgiving!

And on a more serious note, my heart goes out to the families of those affected by the Mumbai attacks ... such senseless violence...

Currently listening to: Mamas and the Papas - California Dreamin'
Posted by roy on November 27, 2008 at 11:52 PM in San Diego | 6 Comments
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