Happy Halloween

Monday, 31 Oct 2005 | Daily, Family

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Toni, Erin and I wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween. Toni carved these pumpkins as she does each year. She's become very handy at making impressive designs.

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Popovers for Toni

Sunday, 30 Oct 2005 | Cooking, Family, Food

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Toni requested some of my popovers this morning and I honored her request this evening. Toni and Erin love my popovers. Erin likes them sprinkled with confectioners sugar and Toni and I like them with butter and syrup. Sometmes I like them with butter and honey too.

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Perfect Popovers

Sunday, 30 Oct 2005 | Recipes

Makes 6

By adding cheese (such as Parmesan), sugar, or spices to the batter, popovers can be suited to any occasion. For ease of use, a popover pan with a nonstick coating is the ideal baking vessel for popovers, but you can also use six-ounce custard dishes or a muffin tin.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing tin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 450°. Lightly grease and flour a popover tin.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 1 tablespoon melted butter. Pour over flour mixture, and fold until just blended.

Fill the popover cups two-thirds to three-quarters full.

Transfer tin to oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°, and bake until well browned and crusty, about 20 minutes. Remove popovers from the oven, and unmold onto a rack. Puncture the sides with a sharp knife to let steam escape, and serve immediately.

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Remember Not to Forget

Friday, 28 Oct 2005 | Daily

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For those of you who observe Daylight Saving Time, remember to set your clocks back one hour on Saturday night. That means we will get an extra hour of sleep! If you live in Australia, the seasons are the opposite of here in the United States. When it's winter here, it's summer down under. Therefore Australians observe Daylight Saving Time beginning Saturday night and will set their clocks forward an hour.

If you have a digital camera, be sure to adjust your camera clock or your EXIF data will not reflect the proper time when your photos were taken.

Oh, and by the way, I won't be setting my watch above because it automatically synchronizes with an atomic clock via satellite each night. We also have two digital wall clocks at home that set themselves automatically. I love that. :D

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Uncle Mauvi's Funeral

Friday, 28 Oct 2005 | Family

Today we attended Uncle Mauvi's memorial service at Acheson & Graham Garden of Prayer Mortuary. His service was conducted by Daniel with musical accompaniment on keyboard by his wife Rita. There were many relatives in attendance, so many in fact that people were overflowing into the rear of the chapel. Following the service, we all drove in a procession to the Riverside National Cemetary for the the graveside service.

On the way to the cemetary, we called Erin who was to join us. When the procession passed by Erin's school, I slowed down to let Erin into the line of cars. The motorcade police officer blew his whistle at Erin when she came into the processsion. The Riverside National Cemetary is where my mom was laid to rest on March 12, 2004. It is the largest national cemetary in the United States.

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Pirate Rubber Duckie's 7th Host

Thursday, 27 Oct 2005 | Pirate Rubber Duckie

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Wilmington, NC

Host Stefani
Location Leland, NC
Arrival Date October 26, 2005
Previous Location Raleigh, NC
Distance for This Leg 109 Miles
Total Distance 10,341 Miles

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Baby Food in High School

Tuesday, 25 Oct 2005 | Daily, Food, Friends

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Today, I was talking to my friend Cindy and she mentioned that Ashley, her 15 year-old daughter in high school likes to eat baby food. "You're kidding me, right?" I asked her. She reaffirmed that her daughter likes to take baby food in the jar to school to eat as a snack or meal. She said that she really likes the fruit flavored ones.

Then another female friend chimes in, "I used to eat baby food in high school too. It's good. It's just food." A third female friends tells me how the baby food pudding is very good. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had no idea that teenage and adult women like to eat baby food. I could see tasting a little baby food while feeding your infant, but this seemed very strange to me.

Later, I called my friend Lori to ask if I was the only one who found this odd. She said that she likes the Gerber Vanilla Custard Pudding a lot. In fact, she used to buy it when her children were babies, pretending it was for the baby, when in fact it was for her. She said the baby didn't even like that flavor.

I know, baby food is just food that is pureed to make it easier to eat and digest, but I can't get over adults enjoying it as food. Every person that said they enjoyed baby food happened to be a woman. Is it a normal occurence that women eat baby food and I never knew it? Are there lots of men out there eating baby food too? Am I the only crazy person that thinks this is odd? I'd love to know your opinion.

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Spicy Thai Soup

Monday, 24 Oct 2005 | Daily, Food, Restaurants

I was informed by one of the waitresses at Peeraya, a local Thai restaurant I frequent, that they serve soup every Monday. I wasn't aware of that and I was immediately interested because I love having a hearty bowl of noodle soup for lunch like most Asians.

Today I ordered the soup. It was a generous sized bowl of spicy soup with lots of yummy noodles, slices of beef, ground chicken, pork balls and sliced green onion. The pork balls looked like round pieces of lightly colored Bratwurst. I had never seen those before, so I asked what they were. The soup was very satisfying and delicious. The noodles were nice and chewy like I like them. I added some pickled jalapeno peppers and a little sugar to the broth to taste. I like there to be a little sweet to balance the heat.

Let me preface this with the fact that I love spicy food. Normally when I order the Yellow Curry with Chicken, I ask for a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Well, this soup was blazing hot! I was sniffling and literally crying at times. Don't ask my why, but I don't mind the pain. I love spicy food. I drank a couple of glasses of water and even ordered a dish of Coconut Ice Cream to cool my lips, something I normally never do. I was impressed with the soup and will surely be ordering it again on a Monday in the future.

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cK One

Monday, 24 Oct 2005 | Daily, Family

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On Saturday, my neice Desiree gave me a hug and commented how good I smelled. She recognized I was wearing cK One and I was impressed she could pick the fragrance out so easily. You see, it's customary in Toni's family to greet and give a hug to everyone when you arrive and leave. That can be a time consuming proposition with the size of her family. LOL

I've been wearing cK One exclusively for couple of years now because I like the fresh, clean scent and it also doesn't cause Toni to get a migraine. Certain fragrances don't sit well with her and immediately bring on a headache, so I'm careful to have her sample fragrances before we buy for me or her. cK One is a fragrance we both love, with its notes of Bergamot, Cardamom, Fresh Pineapple, Papaya, Jasmine, Violet, Rose, Nutmeg and Musk.

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Mushrooms for Rita

Saturday, 22 Oct 2005 | Cooking, Family

Today I made some of my Sauteed Mushrooms with Brandy Cream Sauce for Aunt Rita and her family. I was so pleased that everyone liked them. When I arrived at Aunt Rita's house, her son Mauro greeted me and immediately ripped the foil off of the food we brought. He heated up a bowl of chicken pasta and my mushrooms. He thought it was very good. Then he offered a bite to his wife, Olga. She said, this is my bowl now and didn't give it back.

Everyone thanked me many times for cooking, which pleased me very much. On the way home, Toni told me something that made me smile. She said that my cooking makes people happy. I thought that was a wonderful compliment.

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Sad News About Uncle Mavi

Saturday, 22 Oct 2005 | Family

Last night, I received a phone call from Toni's dad at around a quarter after eight. He asked to speak to Toni, but she wasn't home yet from visiting with her parents. He told me the surprising and sad news that Uncle Mavi had passed away at 7:45 PM at home. I told Toni the bad news when she got home. She was very upset because her Uncle Mavi had lived next door to her parents since she was 7 and she was very close to him.

Mauro, who the family calls Mavi, had a brain tumor removed several years ago. He lost his sight as a result of the operation and has required constant care from Aunt Rita ever since. We knew that he wasn't doing well, but Toni and I had no idea of his recent condition. I remember Uncle Mavi as he was before his tumor. He was an upbeat, kind, giving man who I am proud and honored to have met and known. I just wish I could have enjoyed more time with him.

The whole family gathered last night to support Aunt Rita at her house. Tonight, we are meeting again to bring food and show our support for Rita and her family. Rita's sons, Mauro and John live in Phoenix, Arizona. Her daughter, Rita, lives in Denver, Colorado. Mauro and Rita will be coming to Riverside in the next day or so. John is currently in Europe with his wife. Hopefully, the family will be able to arrange the services to allow John to get here in time.

I found something Aunt Rita said very touching. Toni's mom told the hospice worker that Rita had taken care of Mavi night and day for several years. In response, the hospice worker told Rita that Mavi was lucky to have her. And Rita replied she was lucky to have him.

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Foggy Commute

Friday, 21 Oct 2005 | Daily, Rants

The past two days have been very foggy on the 215 freeway from my house to Moreno Valley. My commute is long enough as it is, but the fog makes it doubly difficult. I'm tuckered out by the time I get to work.

It also doesn't help that drivers aren't courteous. The place where I get on the freeway has two lanes that merge into one right before the overpass. Every morning, people zip along past all the cars in the left lane and merge in a the last second. Then, when I connect to the 60 freeway in Moreno Valley, the right lane becomes an exit only lane. Of course, people stay in that lane to the last second and block me from getting to where I'm going. I could drive on the shoulder like a lot of people do, but I don't want to have to break traffic laws to get to work.

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Apple Aperture

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2005 | Apple, Photography

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Apple Computer introduced Aperture today, a RAW photo post processing application designed for professional photographers. I am very excited to try this software since I use a Nikon D100 and always shoot in RAW mode. It looks like this software has a wonderful user interface as one would expect from Apple, plus the user paradigm seems well thought out. It appears the designers truly had the photography professional in mind when they designed the feature set. From the virtual tours, I expect this will be a great product for RAW shooters like myself. According to Apple's website, Aperture will be available in 6 to 8 weeks.

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Powerball Fever!

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2005 | Daily, Humor, Observations

The Powerball jackpot is up to an all time record $340 million right now. Whenever a lottery jackpot is up that high, people go absolutely nuts buying lottery tickets so they can win big. You can play America's favorite lottery in 27 States, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands.

In California, where I live, we can't play Powerball, but the California State Lottery is very popular. Our Mega Millions jackpot is only at $108 million. I think it's so funny that people go crazy buying lottery tickets when the jackpot spikes, as if it would not even be woth their time to buy a ticket and win a mere $10 million. That would only amount a paltry $5 million or so after taxes. I don't really play the lottery, so I don't have a chance to win all that money. I'm sure lottery players would argue that 1 chance in 146,107,962 is better than none and honestly, I can't dispute that. The Powerball drawing is scheduled for 10:59 PM Eastern time tonight, so that gives you roughly 10 hours to rush out and get your ticket.

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New Glasses

Wednesday, 19 Oct 2005 | Daily

I picked up my new glasses last night with Erin. I am so pleased to have glasses with non-glare lenses again. The old ones were very reflective, so you couldn't see my eyes very well and it caused a lot of reflections at night. Also, one of my old lenses was scratched, so it looked like they were smudged even when I cleaned them.

After picking them up, we went to dinner at California Pizza Kitchen and shared a bowl of Potato Leek Soup and Chicken Lettuce Wraps. The soup was so comforting on a cool Autumn evening. Afterwards, we shared some Warm Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce. It was nice spending time with Erin. I love doing things with my daughter. Toni was having dinner with Susan and Roberta, so we were on our own.

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Angels Season Ends

Sunday, 16 Oct 2005 | Angels, Family

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I attended games 3, 4 and 5 of the ALCS on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was extremely disappointing to see the Angels lose all three games. There were some more questionable calls by the umpires on Saturday, but unfortunately, the Angels weren't playing up to their potential. Their offense was just not generating runs like they normally do.

I watched the end of the NLCS game today at the stadium and it sure seemed like there was some bad officiating at that game too. The one call that astounded me was the throw to first base for a double play in the top of the ninth. The runner appeared to reach the base at the same time as the ball which should have resulted in the tie going to the runner. Instead, the runner was thrown out and the game was over. I think the St. Louis Cardinals got the short end of the stick on that play.

Regardless of whether the Houson Astros or the St. Louis Cardinals win the NLCS, I want to see one of them beat the Chicago White Sox in the World Series.

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Doug Eddings

Friday, 14 Oct 2005 | Angels, Sports

Tonight, I will be at the American League Championship Series Game 3 at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. I can guarantee you I will get a much better reception from the Angels Fans than either A.J. Pierzynski or Doug Eddings. In fact, I sure wouldn't want to be Doug Eddings who will be umpiring on the right field line tonight just yards away from the crowd.

I don't fault Eddings for making a bad call. He's only human and it was a difficult play to judge. I fault him for possibly being duped by Pierzynski's rethought run to first base. I fault him for not being clearer with his strike three mechanic which looks like a called out. And I fault him for not rectifying his confusion by conferring with the other umpires before allowing play to continue. I believe Eddings made an error in judgement, but I wish he had shown the integrity and courage to admit it and make every effort to properly assess the situation.

Of course this is all in the past. Now, the Angels need to focus on winning more games than the White Sox. I wonder if Chicago realizes the firestorm they're walking into this weekend for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the ALCS.

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Livid

Thursday, 13 Oct 2005 | Angels, Rants, Sports

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I am just livid about umpire Doug Eddings' call in the bottom of the ninth inning of the ALCS Game 2 between the Angels and the White Sox. I'm trying to get past it, but I'm still upset about it. I'm not mad that the Angels lost the game. I'm mad that the botched call stole our chance to continue battling in extra innings. Both teams pitched a great game as evidenced by the 1-1 tie up through the ninth inning. The White Sox may have goone on to win in later innings, but at least it would have been a clean win.

It annoys me that Eddings as well as the other umpires would not even admit that there was even a chance that he made a bad call. From the replay, the ball appears to go into Josh Paul's glove without touching the dirt. Eddings sites that the ball seems to undergo a change in direction indicating that it contacted the ground, but it appears to me that the change in direction was caused by the ball striking the webbing of Paul's glove. What's also amazing is the the third base umpire, when consulted, said he didn't clearly see the play. According to mlb.com, Doug Eddings has been umpiring Major League Baseball since 1999 and this is his first ALCS officiating.

A.J. Pierzynski has been commended for running on to first base in a heads up play, but I can't help but think he was trying to put doubt into the mind of the home plate umpire in the off chance it would work; and it did.

What I don't understand is why Major League Baseball doesn't have a checks and balances system in place for umpires. Why can't an umpire be suspended or fined like a player? Why are they allowed to judge with impunity?

All I can say is the Angels will give it their best during the next 3 ALCS home games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I will be there cheering the Halos on to victory.

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Angels Eliminate Yankees

Tuesday, 11 Oct 2005 | Angels, Family, Sports

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It was an exciting game last night when I witnessed the Angels eliminate the Yankees from the postseason with a 5-3 win at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Bartolo Colon, the starting pitcher, was taken out of the game in the second inning because of shoulder pain, but Ervin Santana took over in good form. The fans were cheering as loud as ever in the packed stadium and we were on our feet for most of the game. There seemed to be fewer Yankees fans than usual, perhaps due to the last game being played a day late. It was a nail biter the whole time. Francisco Rodriquez pitched for the last out in the eighth and closed the game in the ninth.

Now it's on to Chicago today to play the first game of the American League Championship Series against the White Sox. The Sox will be tough to beat, but I'll be hoping the Halos can come through to play in the World Series. ;D

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The Eagles at the Pond

Sunday, 9 Oct 2005 | Angels, Entertainment, Family, Music

Friday night, Toni and I had the pleasure to see the Eagles in concert at the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. We were both very excited because we love the Eagle's music and never thought we'd get to see them live.

I've heard that the Eagles are famous for sounding exceptional in concert, like they do in their recordings. Well, I can tell you it's true. They put on an awesome show and sounded great in person. It's neat to attend a show where so many songs are ones you love. Toni and I had great seats just to stage left, eight rows up. The seats were perfect because there were no aisles between us and the stage. We were just a tiny bit higher than stage level and the view was great.

I can tell you Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh are consumate performers. I love to watch Joe Walsh perform; he's so fun. Joe waved to Toni at the beginning of All She Wants to Do Is Dance. The soft songs sounded sweet and romantic and the fast songs really rocked. They played for a good two and a half hours with a fifteen minute intermission.

Before the show, Toni and I were monitoring the Angels playoff game against the Yankees. First we listened in the car, then watched on television while getting food at the Pond, then through binoculars looking at the plasma screen in one of the suites. Toni checked the score periodically on her mobile phone too. It was cool because Don Henley announced during the concert that the Angels won 11-7! :D

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Woodhouse Fire

Friday, 7 Oct 2005 | Daily

On Wednesday, I was driving to the Angels game and noticed a huge plume of black smoke in the distance before me. As I approached, I could see that it was located between the 60 and 10 freeways. As I drove through the Badlands to Moreno Valley, the fire was quite close to the road. There were firefighters lined up, marching toward the fire. At one point, a plane swooped within several hundred yards of me, dousing the hillside with reddish-orange flame retardant. There was a stretch of the road where I could actually feel the warmth from the flames. If I had passed through a half hour later, I'm sure the road would have been closed.

The Woodhouse fire has scorched over 6,000 acres since it started on Wednesday and is currently 70% contained.

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Angels Tie Series with Yankees

Thursday, 6 Oct 2005 | Angels

I watched with some trepidation last night when the New York Yankees were ahead 2-0 over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. But, thankfully I was spared the depressing blow I had received the night before at the first ALDS playoff game. I was among a record attendance of 45,142 for the first division game on Tuesay and 45,150 at last night's second playoff game.

Erin, my dad and I rode together to the first ALDS game. Toni and her parents rode together and joned us later because Toni had to stay a bit later at work. Toni, Erin, my dad, Lisa, Deidre, Antonio and I all went together to the second ALDS game.

I'm hoping the Angels will at the very least split the series at Yankee Stadium so we can home and win on Sunday to advance to the ALCS. But, like Angels Manager, Mike Scioscia, I am going to concentrate on winning one game at a time.

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Fellow Angels Fan

Thursday, 6 Oct 2005 | Angels, Daily

Today, after I finished my lunch, I happened to see an elderly gentleman sitting on a bench eating a banana. I noticed an Angels baseball cap perched on top of his head. I walked over and asked him if he was an Angels fan and he said that yes he was.

I talked to him about the game I attended last night. I said that it was pretty scary in the beginning when they were down 0-2 and how it was quite depressing seeing them lose the night before. I asked if he ever gets out to Angel Stadium and he said that he didn't much anymore since his eyesight was going bad. He said he mostly watches the games on television now. He used to go to watch them at Spring Training when they used to play here in Palm Springs. They have since moved to Tempe, Arizona for training. He was hoping that the game on Saturday in New York would be televised so he could see it. A few minutes later, I thanked him for the conversation and said goodbye.

I felt a little sad for the man since his eyesight was getting poorer. I wished he could enjoy the games in person like me. I did feel good that he seemed to enjoy our talk and the human interaction. It wasn't much, but I think by stopping to chat I made his day a little brighter. It made me think how easy it is to do a nice thing for someone and how we tend to forget about that because of our busy lives. It also made me stop to realize how many blessings I have in my life. I guess I didn't just help him. He helped me too without even realizing it.

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Nikon D2X Pro Site

Thursday, 6 Oct 2005 | Nikon, Photography

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Nikon Europe launched a new web site on October 5th dedicated to their flagship D2X digital SLR showcasing the camera's capabilities and ten professional photographers who use it. It's pretty slick and well presented, so it's invigorating for Nikon afficionados like myself.

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Palm Liquor's Little Secret

Wednesday, 5 Oct 2005 | Food, Restaurants

Palm Liquor on South El Cielo is an unassuming little liquor store very much like any other you'd find in Palm Springs or anywhere else in the country. But the truth is, they have a little known secret that I found out about from my friend Martin at work.

That little secret is the Jet Stream Deli located in the back of the store. It's open from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday and has some of the best sandwiches in town at great prices. The sandwiches are made with Boar's Head deli meats and real cheese. They have a selection of sandwiches with a choice of meats including ham, roast beef, capicola, mortadella and salami, just to name a few. The meats, cheeses, tomatoes, basil, red onion and other fixings are served on a fresh Italian loaf which is pressed and toasted to meld the flavors. The sandwiches come with a choice of potato or pasta salad. The best part is most of the sandwiches cost from $4.99 to $5.99, but there's even a daily lunch special sandwich which comes with a drink for less than $5.

Once you try Palm Liquor's Jet Stream Deli, you may find yourself coming back for more like I'm sure I will be doing. It does get busy at lunch time, so it's best to call ahead so your sandwich will be ready when you arrive. Oh, and don't expect to dine in since Palm Liquor doesn't have chairs or tables for dining.

Palm Liquor
440 South El Cielo Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 325-6695

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Pirate Rubber Duckie's 6th Host

Tuesday, 4 Oct 2005 | Pirate Rubber Duckie

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Raleigh, NC

Host Sdgard
Location Raleigh, NC
Arrival Date October 4, 2005
Previous Location Eindhoven, Netherlands
Distance for This Leg 4,107 Miles
Total Distance 10,232 Miles

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New Sunglasses

Sunday, 2 Oct 2005 | Daily

Today, I got my first pair of prescription sunglasses! I have been wearing glasses since I was 8 years old. I've had a lot of clip-on sunglasses during my 34 years wearing glasses, but never actual sunglasses. I am so jazzed to try them out tomorrow when I drive to work. Toni has been wanting me to get sunglasses for some time because she knows they would come in handy for my commute.

I also ordered a regular pair of glasses. I got both sets of glasses at LensCrafters. I chose the brand new FeatherWates Complete Lenses made with Scotchgard Protector. The lenses are made with a built-in anti-glare coating as well as a Scotchgard coating. This process makes each lens super slippery thereby repelling dust, water and oil. It's supposed to equate cleaner, clearer glasses with lenses that are ten times easier to clean tan conventional anti-reflective lenses.

I'll have to wait about 2 weeks for them to receive the lenses since they didn't have my prescription in stock. I like that the anti-reflective coating is applied when the lens is made. I've had lenses in the past where they applied the coating afterwards and found them to not last as long. I got the same style of frames for both pairs of glasses.

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Jerry Avenaim Seminar

Saturday, 1 Oct 2005 | Photography

Today I drove two hours early in the morning to CAI Cameras in Woodland Hills to attend a Lighting Techniques for the Dramatic Portrait seminar with Jerry Avenaim put on by the Mamiya America Corporation. Jerry Avenaim is a celebrity photographer who has photographed such Hollywood icons as Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron, James Caan, Mel Gibson, Hale Berry and Ben Stiller just to name a few.

The seminar was absolutley dynamite. I enjoyed it thoroughly and learned a lot about lighting techniques. Jerry was accompanied by his assistant, Matt. Jerry started the session with a lecture and presentation describing his lighting technique and interaction with his subjects. This was followed by a live photo shoot with a model after the lunch break. It was invaluable seeing in person how he set up his shots and how he relates with his model. Jerry and Matt were so kind and eager to answer any questions we posed. I was so delighted with the seminar. The experience was well worth the long drive. And I couldn't believe it was free. They people at CAI Cameras were wonderful and informative as well. I was thoroughly impressed by the entire event.

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