Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Is Your Definition of Being Rich?

Some people say that money makes you rich. Others say that having lots of friends makes you rich. Still others say that simply being happy makes you rich. And some people believe that having God in your life makes you rich.

What makes you rich? How do you define it?

Regardless of your definition of rich, do you do everything you can to become rich? Does it drive your life?

Can being rich be a problem? Can trying to get rich cause you problems?

Is it better to be poor? How do you define poor?

Is it possible to be rich and not know it? Is it possible to think you are rich when you really are poor? Can you be poor and think you are rich because of it?

Stop and think about it...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Firmware Upgrades - Nikon D3

The Nikon D3 got another firmware upgrade which is reported to give better auto white balance for the camera, among other things.

It's nice when a company tries to improve its existing products. The D3 was already pretty good with white balance so I'm curious how much better this upgrade will do to improve it. It wasn't difficult at all to do the upgrade. A simple download of the software onto a CF card and then pressing a couple of buttons on the D3 was all it took.

I've updated my various cameras many times over the years with firmware updates. Only once did I feel the upgrade did more harm than good (I reverted back to the old firmware in that case.) But in general, the upgrades have always been helpful.

My next wedding is coming up in early February, so it will be interesting to see if the quality improves for that. I have a family portrait session to shoot this Friday and will use the D3 for that as well, but I'll be using custom white balancing for these studio shots.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Horror Movies

Image Borrowed From The Internet

Do you watch horror movies? Typically, I don't watch horror movies. But sometimes I do.

I recall back in the 1970's, my dad, my brother and I went to see "The Exorcist" at the movie theater. That movie scared me like no other! I couldn't sleep after watching that movie and even had to miss school the next day because I was so tired from lack of sleep. I'm not sure what it was that scared me so much, but I just remember it being too much for me to handle.

Since that time, I've seen "The Exorcist" again on DVD and somehow, it just wasn't so scary this time. Perhaps it is because I knew what to expect. Or maybe I've just gotten used to movies trying to scare me and it just doesn't work like it used to when I was young.

I watched a horror movie this evening by myself which was touted to be one of the scariest movies available on DVD (don't they all say that?) It just did not scare me (much) at all. Perhaps it's because I'm looking for things to not like about the movie, or perhaps it was too predictable and I've become desensitized. I'm not sure. But really, a lot of what people might consider scary or gross, today, I just don't think it is anymore.

Another reason I thought was perhaps it's because I've seen some really horrific things in my past having working with real homicide teams in San Diego and Chula Vista, CA. Some of the "real" gruesome crime scenes really look worse than what any horror movie can try to show. Yes, some crime scenes are quite scary.

I recall when I was still going to school to learn to be an evidence technician and also working at the police department, I would sometimes wake up in a cold sweat from the dreams I was having. Interestingly, I'd just shake it off and go right back to sleep to finish off the dream. I wanted to see what happened had I not woken up! Perhaps seeing actual homicides gave me the courage to do that. Maybe the dreams were my own way of dealing with what I had seen at the actual crime scenes. Who knows.

What I do know is that today, many of the horror movies just do not scare me all that much. I often laugh at some of the things that the characters do and how "stupid" some of the characters are. For instance, why is it that whenever someone hears some scary noise in another room, the character always goes to that room to investigate? I would think if this happened "for real" that you'd do your best to get out of the house! No, they never do. They just have to go look for themselves. And of course, you just know they are going to get murdered... which they always do.

Or how about the hysterical young woman who just "knows" she's in for trouble, but she just can't help herself to save her own life? Don't you just want to scream at the movie screen and say, "GET OUT OF THERE! ARE YOU STUPID OR SOMETHING?" I don't know about you, but that's often what I'm thinking.

Anyway, go out and get a horror movie and check it out yourself. You'll find a lot of the characters just don't do what a normal, sensible person might typically do. It's a real laugh!

Do you watch horror movies? What have you seen lately?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cell Phone Pic - Bass Pro Shops

I saw these two boys looking at the fish tank at Bass Pro Shops and took a quick shot of them with my cell phone. While it's not the best shot in terms of resolution, steadiness or even composition, I thought it was interesting anyway. The fish they are looking at is a large pike like the ones I have caught out of the Des Plaines River. This one is larger than the ones I've caught... so far.

Monday, January 11, 2010

My First Major DA Case

Image Borrowed From The Internet

It's been a while since I posted about forensics, but watching TV today about a man who was run over by a car reminded me about my first major case while working for the San Diego District Attorney's Office.

My case was a high profile case that was featured on the TV Show "America's Most Wanted." While I remember the name of the defendant, I'll leave it off here...

The defendant was accused of murdering his wife by running over her with his car. Not only was she run over once, but several times as the perpetrator went back to run her over again and again. The photos of the scene and also the autopsy photos of the victim were quite revealing and the injuries sustained by the woman was very graphic. The pain must have been excrutiating because found in her hand were locks of her own hair. She had been pulling out her own hair from the pain!

My job was to prepare all of the court exhibits to be used in the trial which typically includes enlarged map sections (with the help of the county map department), all supporting photographs enlarged and mounted and to prepare any diagrams of the scene as necessary. Any special instructions or reproductions of the penal code for the jury are often enlarged too.

The defendant was found guilty of first degree murder which I believe carried a sentence of 25 years to life imprisonment. The death penalty was not sought for by the assistant DA.

I did not attend the trial nor the sentencing. My job was just a support role on a technical level. But it still was very interesting as it was my first case on the job. Over the years of working at the DA's office, I had many other interesting cases. On occasion, I would sit in on a case to hear the attorneys argue the case. On other occasions, I would get to testify in court as an expert witness too.

I'd have to say that my time working in law enforcement was very interesting. Some ask how I could do it, but it's not that hard really. Once you get past the shock and horror of crime, it is just plain INTERESTING! Not many people get to see the things that those working in law enforcement get to see. There's never really a dull day on the job. By the way, I've never seen a body outlined at a crime scene before! It was never done at any of the scenes I've been to. But it makes for a good graphic on this post, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Cell Phones

Verizon - LG enV3
Image Borrowed From The Internet

Every two years, our family's cell phone contract comes up for renewal. And, every two years, we get new phones.

With the promotions that run with renewing the contracts, it is often worth doing to get the new phones. If we use our old phones for another two years, not only is the technology older, but the batteries start to wear out as well. Replacing those batteries could cost what the new phones cost... and those include new batteries!

Consider how many phones a typical family has. Now multiply that by every two years. Yes, that's a lot of phones!

I recall when cellular phones first came out. They were big and heavy and their power wasn't all that great either. Today, we have small and lightweight phones that can do so much more than just be a phone. Games, text messaging, email, web browsing, music player, camera, video camera, PDA... you name it, it can probably do it!

Who would have thought that the old Star Trek communicator would turn into a reality so quickly? Plus, our phones can do more than Captain Kirk's communicator ever could!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Botan Rice Candy, Chan Pui Mui and Haw Flakes

Image Borrowed From The Internet

Image Borrowed From The Internet

Growing up, one of my favorite things to eat was Chan Pui Mui. It still is.

Chan Pui Mui is candied dried orange peels. There is also a variety of Chinese Preserved Plums which is shown here . These plums are available in many types, but the ones shown here are the sweet variety. Often, the plums are wrapped in two pieces of paper and then the final wrapping is a piece of plastic. Not much to look at, the plum inside is usually black in color and very sticky and has a sweet licorice flavor. It could have a pit in it, but some brands take the pit out.

Someone once told me that no respectable guy in Hong Kong or China would be caught dead buying or eating this as it wasn't the "manly" thing to do. Not sure if this is true or not, but if it is, then you can call me un-manly because I eat this stuff all the time!

Another product that is sure to rot your teeth is Haw Flakes. It's a sugar based "candy" that all Chinese kids are familiar with. And it's cheap too! This entire package was only $0.39!

Botan Rice Candy is also a well known Chinese product for kids. In the past, they used to give away a free toy. I don't believe these come with that any longer, but perhaps a comic sticker does still. I'm not sure as I have not had these in quite some time. The candies have a rice paper wrapping around them (after removing the outer paper wrapping.) The rice paper wrapping is fully edible and melts in your mouth. That's the fun part about eating Botan Rice Candy!

There are lots of other great Chinese candied products out there, but these are among my the most favorite.

Friday, January 01, 2010