Entries for April, 2010

The NYTimes writes about the difficulty professional photographers are facing:

Mr. Eich and Ms. Pruitt illustrate the huge shake-up in photography during the last decade. Amateurs, happy to accept small checks for snapshots of children and sunsets, have increasing opportunities to make money on photos but are underpricing professional photographers and leaving them with limited career options. Professionals are also being hurt because magazines and newspapers are cutting pages or shutting altogether.

Digital photography, and the software tools that supplement it (if you haven't seen this content fill demo from Adobe, you must) are really going to separate the wheat from the chaff.

While amateurism has made it more difficult for some professionals to get work, I'd probably argue that those professional probably weren't as talented as they thought. Pre-digital, a photographer could protect his livelihood just based on the initial capital costs of being a photographer - talent had very little to do with it. All of us could be sailors if we had access to a sailboat regularly.

(Even today, to a certain extent it's still true - have you been to a Sears photography studio lately? The photographers just take a bajillion pictures without any real skills involved).

What the amateurs did do was bring more enthusiasm - the more people you have in an industry, the better it is for the industry.

The software industry underwent the same change when dynamically scripted languages gave idiots like me the ability to get my foot into the software game. Am I a software engineer? I don't consider myself to be one (although I can certain do certain tasks that engineers do). But having that enthusiasm I had and the experience I picked up has benefited MT and all of its users, for sure. 

I love software for its ability to equalize, through information dissemination and bringing down capital costs. There's a whole slew of jobs which are currently being threatened: realtors (Zillow), pharmacists (automated dispensaries), radiologists (tech is making outsourcing to India pretty easy). Come to mind, why not car salesmen (Carmax)?

So photographers aren't the only ones that are feeling the pain. But if the software industry is any indication, those that are truly talented and love the craft should do fine. More exposure for an industry is almost always a positive thing.

Posted by roy on April 1, 2010 at 01:03 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I love the human form - and I'm pretty sure that's one of the main reasons I'm so drawn to ballroom dancing. There's something so beautiful about the lines you form when a dance is done right. The fluidity and the frozen figures.

I was really bummed that Flickr doesn't have that many good photos of dancers. I like ones where dancers are silhouette so they're anonymous, kind of like this one:

Surprisingly, I thought there'd be a lot of this with ballerinas, but fail. There were a couple of shots at a beach, but the dancer was highlighted. Maybe getting a silhouetted shot is harder than I'm thinking.

I would love nothing more than to rent out an old theater, grab a bevy of lights to create extreme backdrops, and shoot silhouetted shots... kinda like they did in the Noisettes video:

Posted by roy on April 1, 2010 at 01:40 AM in Photography | 3 Comments

Posted by roy on April 2, 2010 at 11:46 AM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Apparently people actually collect fossilized crap (in the most literal sense of the word), which is called coprolite.

Currently feeling: stunned
Posted by roy on April 4, 2010 at 11:33 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

"it's far easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission."

let it begin.

Posted by roy on April 5, 2010 at 09:44 PM in Personal | 1 Comments

What HAPPENED to this journal, you ask? I teased you with a bunch of posts a few weeks ago, and then it all went silent. The stories and lessons I've learned are private for now - I'm still going through a discovery process.

However, I do have a non-sequitur of a story to share with you.

This past weekend, I hung out with M and C - two friends who are married to each other. We went bar-hopping on Saturday (which subsequently caused me to miss Easter service - doh!).

At some point in the evening (after too many gin-and-tonics, undoubtedly), I somehow got the idea to put on M's wedding band. (I believe it was a mutual decision, as M didn't want to be married that night, and C wanted a "second husband"). In any case, it seemed like a wonderful idea at the time.

Until I realized I couldn't get the ring off. I kept pulling on it - C tried to get it off and failed. It was stuck.

My feelings vacillated from pure joy (I kept screaming out to random girls on the dance floor: "SHE LIKED IT SO SHE PUT A RING ON IT") to pure fear ("OH GOD, I CAN'T GET THIS OFF. I'M REALLY NOT MARRIED. IT'S JUST STUCK").

I was secretly hoping that the DJ would play "Single Ladies," (awesome related video, btw) cause that really would have been awesome.

Eventually, a smarter person (maybe she was just less inebriated?) got it off with relative ease, using some twisting motion. Maybe she's just really good at getting wedding bands off. WHO KNOWS. I think I'm gonna marry that girl - it's like Cinderella in reverse - get the wedding band off, and she's a keeper.

. . .

But more seriously, I've been very curious how different it is wear that ring. Are you perceived differently? I've joked about doing this in the past, just to see what happens...

. . .

The club/bar that the story happened at is at C Lounge, a totally ghetto place. But... the music was awesome. Biz Markie, House of Pain, Biggie... the classics were fan-flippin-tastic. Thumbs UP!

Posted by roy on April 5, 2010 at 09:58 PM in Ramblings, San Diego | 2 Comments

What a blur of the last few days. Back home after being in DC since last Thursday for Han's bachelor party. Vegas buddy coming in Thursday, so I need to prepare for having a guest at my place this week (shopping, cleaning, tiring!). Looking forward to having some quiet weekends once activities settle down before I have the hectic last weekends of May (flying to NC on consecutive weekends for weddings).

Here are some pictures of food from DC; the full set is posted on Flickr.

Not technically a picture of food, but this is the interior of Kabob Palace, an amazing kebob place in Crystal City. You must try this out if you're in the area - the chicken is perfectly spiced and juicy!

Fried chicken from Bon Chon chicken - Korean fried chicken is apparently a craze.

Ramen from Ren's Ramen.

Burger from Ray's Hell Burger, a place which apparently became really popular after Obama ate there...

Crabbing season is here! Had some crabs at Bethesda Crab House - delicious!

The aftermath:

I love cupcakes, and Georgetown Cupcake did not disappoint.

Here's a picture of the boys:


Posted by roy on April 12, 2010 at 01:33 AM in Travel, Ramblings | 1 Comments

This guy's walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. A doctor passes by, and the guy shouts up, "Hey, you, can you help me out?" The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along, and the guy shouts up, "Father, I’m down in this hole. Can you help me out?" The priest writes a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by. "Hey, Joe, it's me. Can you help me out" And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, "Are you nuts? Now we’re both down here." The friend says, "Yeah, but I’ve been down here before - and I know the way out."

- Leo McGarry to Josh Lyman, The West Wing

West Wing was such a great show. Been going through Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (again) - such a shame that show got cut off so early.

Posted by roy on April 15, 2010 at 02:11 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I know that this journal is generally pretty boring, but things seem to have fallen off a cliff over the past few weeks. No juicy updates, no trials and tribulations, nothing to really poke fun about!

To be honest, there's nothing much to talk about. Things have been rather busy, but not in any meaningful way. I had a friend in town from Thursday until today, and there was a lot of going out involved (a three-day stretch, which for me, is like a party marathon).

BUT, we went out sailing on Saturday - and this was the FIRST time it was a total non-event. No sandbar grounding, no poorly rigged sails, no problems sailing under the bridge... while I had a motor as a backup, I sailed almost all of it under wind power (I used the motor to initially get out of the bay). I even had the perfect docking. It felt good to get a completely perfect sailing outing under my belt. Later on that evening, I got to enjoy my namesake's restaurant here in SD (but it was NOTHING compared to the one in Hawaii!).

While I've been $truggling financially with all the traveling lately (and the soon-travels to NC), I am saving up to take scuba diving lessons. I'm really looking forward to getting certified so I can explore the kelp forests of La Jolla.

So that's that. Man, I get more boring as I get older, don't I?

Look, everybody's the same height!


Posted by roy on April 19, 2010 at 01:16 AM in Ramblings | 4 Comments

I love watching talented people do their thing:

. . .

And a different kind of "talented" with some sketch comedy:

Posted by roy on April 19, 2010 at 10:45 PM in Music | Add a comment

This song is pretty old, but it's pretty great. Take Ray LaMontagne and make him more poppy and you get James Morrison:

Posted by roy on April 20, 2010 at 03:57 PM in Music | 1 Comments

My pants are causing me to question whether my legs are the same length - let's hope it's the right pants leg that's just long. (And why did it take me twenty-something years to discover this?)

Posted by roy on April 21, 2010 at 12:06 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

We shall have world government whether or not you like it, by conquest or consent." - James Warburg, February 17th, 1950

I don't get excited about the Olympics/World Cup because of the nationalism it breeds. Until we break down the notion of nationalism, an effective world government isn't possible.

That's not to say that you need to extinguish nationalism - the EU's been a wonderful example of the slow evolution of devolving power from individual states to a supranational entity without losing the identity of its members.

It pains me to see the active suppression of certain ethnic groups, when it's been clearly demonstrated that co-habitation is possible.

Posted by roy on April 21, 2010 at 12:20 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

Saw a wonderfully salient article today on how tech teams should be built out. This is overly simplistic, but it does a great job of defining the CTO/VP Engineering distinction:

A summary of the positions:

  • CTO - Technical visionary. Sets the tone for the technical underpinnings of your company. Not process oriented, they are the pure technologists who set the tone.
  • VP Engineering - The person with technical chops, who doesn't do coding, who defines and executes the process and leads the engineering team to develop product.
  • Program Manager  - This can also be called a product manager, but this person is basically the first person to form the "product" team (separate from engineering). They are responsible for updating the rest of the company after engineering produces the product; interfacing with sales/marketing/pr.

It's a good article - give it a read.

A couple of notes I'll add from personal experience: for the best success of any engineering team, the VP Engineering and CTO have to work in incredibly close sync. The VP Engineering is going to have a tendency with his nose on the grindstone, to start pushing things in a certain direction which may not be consistent with the overall vision of the CTO. The CTO, without close input from the trenches might start become an architect astronaut. Ensuring these two are in lockstep is going to produce a visionary product that sells.


Posted by roy on April 21, 2010 at 12:30 AM in Ramblings | Add a comment

General Yuri Baluyevsky, a deputy secretary of the Russian National Security Council, complained that US concessions at nuclear arms reduction talks were not because of America’s love of peace, but because “they can kill you using conventional high-precision weapons”.

No shit, Sherlock. I hope voters don't confuse Barack with being soft - it's all calculated.

Posted by roy on April 25, 2010 at 02:01 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

I believe this quote is now commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw:

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."

Posted by roy on April 26, 2010 at 08:14 PM in Ramblings | Add a comment

The cover for Vampire Weekend's Contra album has this amazing portrait:

Apparently this photo was taken in '83. Timeless.

Posted by roy on April 26, 2010 at 08:20 PM in Ramblings, Photography | 1 Comments

Being sick and finding nothing better to do than think about the continued degradation of privacy of the web, I decided to do a (digital) social cleanse.

There was no way I was actually "friends" with 300+ people on Facebook. I started de-friending people - it took me a bunch of passes (each getting progressively more aggressive in terms of what a "friend" meant), but I finally got my list down to 169 friends.

Each pass was interesting; at first I had rules about keeping coworkers (which was quickly abandoned). Then I had rules about people "I'd like to keep in touch with" but oddly, never have had to in the past four years (these were mostly high school friends). Those went. I started actively purging anybody with 400+ friends (if you have 400+ friends and are still a FB friend, then I really like you). Purge, purge, purge.

At the end of it, who did I keep? I kept anybody who could call me at 11pm and ask me for a pick-up from the airport and I wouldn't hesitate to do so. Seems like a pretty simple rule to use.

So that's that.

(I also did a Twitter digital cleanse, but that one was much easier.)

Posted by roy on April 26, 2010 at 11:10 PM in Ramblings | 6 Comments

This is one of the most beautiful text-driven designs I've seen in a LONG time:


Posted by roy on April 27, 2010 at 09:44 PM in Ramblings | 1 Comments

Wow, capturing my generation perfectly.

This phenomenon, known as the "Quarterlife Crisis," is as ubiquitous as it is intangible. Unrelenting indecision, isolation, confusion and anxiety about working, relationships and direction is reported by people in their mid-twenties to early thirties who are usually urban, middle class and well-educated; those who should be able to capitalize on their youth, unparalleled freedom and free-for-all individuation. They can’t make any decisions, because they don’t know what they want, and they don’t know what they want because they don’t know who they are, and they don’t know who they are because they’re allowed to be anyone they want.

And later: (emphasis mine)

Boomer and post-boom parents with more money and autonomy than their predecessors has resulted in benignly self-indulgent children who were sold on their own uniqueness, place in the world and right to fulfillment in a way no previous generation has felt entitled to, and an increasingly entrepreneurial, self-driven creation myth based on personal branding, social networking and untethered lifestyle spending is now responsible for our identities.

I wrote about my thoughts around quarterlife crisis nearly four years ago. My thoughts haven't changed much.

But what has become increasingly clear to me is that my generation does have an incredible sense of entitlement. That entitlement (I conjecture) is a result of the emphasis on the individual. The uniqueness of me. How special I am. Look at the rise of Objectivism (I remember this was an incredibly popular movement during high school - rich upper middle-class kids) as an example of this.

The article talks broadly about the emptiness of having your social sphere online, and mentions Facebook. I would say that blogs are an earlier, worse example of things that lead to entitlement. Never before, in the history of mankind, have individuals had a powerful voice that could be heard. The blog, especially when it's frequented by like-minded individuals, can lead to individuals thinking they are more unique than they are. Be on the soapbox long enough, and you get pretty full of yourself.

I've bemoaned the fact that our generation's been perceived as weak - nothing like the Golden Generation. I don't think we're fundamentally weaker - we've simply had no unifying cause to rally behind. We haven't been tested for hardships because there haven't been any (even our economic downturns are short and don't force us to be thrifty). We have a cult of an individual because we haven't been made to answer to a higher authority in a way that forces us to sacrifice for the "better good." In the absence of that, we've become self-absorbed and embraced the cult of the individual. (It also doesn't help that technology has allowed an individual to have a huge impact - wealth generation by an individual has never been faster).

(That's why I love people who just mercilessly bash me in the comments - it keeps me grounded and in check).

I went through the social adjustment in my early twenties which I thought was my "quarterlife crisis," but reading this article, I wonder if I'm going through another version of the quarterlife crisis.

SPENDING MONEY IS as fraught as making it. Multiple degrees, trips to Peru, and keeping up appearances on Saturday night all communicate values and desires, and having no consistent sense of “want” can reinforce the problem, often with trail of debt.

I can't believe how well this describes me. While I'm fairly settled in my career, my personal life has been throw into a whirlwind of sorts. (I can personally attest that money and having no sense of who you are is a horrible combination). I don't know who I am. There was a time I tried to reconnect with the more conservative upbringing of my past, but it didn't feel right. I'm clearly not in the other end of the spectrum (the guy who goes out clubbing/bar hopping/etc), so I've been struggling to find where I am. Two years ago, I was honestly ready to settle down (right girl in the right situation would have done it). Now? Even if I met the right girl now, I'd run away from that commitment.

I mean, the article does a wonderful job of summarizing the two opposing thoughts I been struggling with lately:

Kimmel says, of men in particular, “Part of the Quarterlife Crisis is a kind of malaise that the end of your youth is really the end of fun. And that you’re never going to have any fun again, because you have to work. You’re never going to have sex again because you’re going to get married. Your life is over.” So why bother? Literal and figurative fucking around is infinitely more appealing to men who are still sorting out what they want their lives to look like.

How often has the phrase, "I"m enjoying the bachelor life until I settle down" been muttered out of my mouth? I know, deep down, it's a stupid excuse for my fear of embracing real responsibility and turning away responsibilty and hard work (I like things too easy). 

“Grown-ups understand that the choices we make also involve choices we don’t make,” Kimmel says. “We have some regrets and we carry [those] with us. Guys don’t get a lot of help in this from each other or from our culture. Culturally we have got to show guys that the other side of this is actually terrific.” He points out that, statistically, married men are happier and have more sex, and that fathers experience lower levels of depression.

It's a shame, because my behavior is a clear regression - it's a clear reversal of maturity. If fatherhood is that point where men feel a purpose in life, drawing the wrong conclusion during your quarterlife crisis is the antithesis of that.

One day, I'll look back with amusement at my immaturity and the internal conflicts that made me act so stupidly. I look forward to that day, but until then... I'm enjoying the bachelor life until I settle down.

. . .

One related story. During the later hours of work today, I got hungry. There were leftovers from lunch in the kitchen - in particular, a bowl of potato salad. Not wanting to waste a dish, I started eating right out of the bowl of potato salad.

The moment people saw it, they go: "That is SUCH a bachelor thing to do." It never even struck me this was an odd thing to do - I was going to finish off the bowl of potato salad, and it was better than wasting water washing a dish whent he plastic bowl would do.

Such is my life.

Posted by roy on April 29, 2010 at 12:55 AM in Personal | 3 Comments
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