I can haz camera?

I would love to graduate from my point and shoot camera. I did move up when I bought my HTC Incredible smartphone. With 8mp, I have twice the resolution of my old 4.1mp Sony Cyber-Shot. But I want a camera that can take action shots (multiple frames per second – the fast click, click, click of fancy cameras), the ability to capture images in low-level lighting, and multiple lens options for wide angle shots and super-crazy zoom.

I haz no dinero for camera. *sniff* Suuuuure, I could swing it. But we’re trying really, really hard to get out of the debt. But when I am reminded of what a fancy camera can do it makes me want to look a little more closely at the no-interest for 12-months loan they were offering at the Ritz Camera I visited not too long ago.

And I was recently reminded of what a fancy camera can do.

Last Saturday I visited Como Park Zoo in St. Paul with Craig from the Minneapolis Skeptics for Darwin Day. He owns a Nikon D7000. It looks like this:

Image source

*drool* He was using a zoom lens and took bunches and bunches of photos. I was having fun snapping along. I have a pretty good eye for composition, but I think I’ve reached the limit of my current technology. Have a look – what do you think?

These small photos do not do Craig’s photos justice. I encourage you to click on his photos to see the incredible detail on his flickr stream.

Monkeys in the primate house. Challenges: Low, filtered light, fast-moving subjects, thick glass with reflections.

My photo – HTC Incredible, Auto settings, camera lens pressed to the glass to avoid reflection.

Craig’s Photo:

Emperor Tamarin DSC_1664

Snow Leopard enclosure. Challenges: Dark subject against snow, outdoor natural light – cloudy, fast-moving subject, fencing.

My photo, zoomed in as far as possible (unable to get close enough to fence to place camera between links):

Craig’s Photo:

Snow Leopard DSC_1920

Yeah, I’m jealous.

I can haz camera?

Good Monday, um Tuesday.

Let’s start this short week off easy with a few grab bag pieces.


Storefront in a Box

I was alerted to an exciting series of events that is happening this summer in my South Minneapolis neighborhood.  In her Stribe article, A new store every week,  Kara McGuire describes Arise! Bookstore’s entrepreneurial efforts to keep their small store occupied in a move they’re calling “Storefront in a Box”.  This summer they’re renting out their store week by week to various artists and small business owners for approximately $200 a pop. 

The summer rental schedule can be found at the Storefront in a Box website.  So far the renters include Boneshaker Books, an Art Gallery and Gift Shop, Nerd Party, Bicycle Film Festival Presents, Pop Punk Emporium, Paper Darts Magazine Gallery, Internet Variety Store, Theateropolis, Courtney McClean & The Dirty Curls’ Weeklong Naughtybilly Hoedown, and Art Swap in a Box.  Phew!  There’s literally something new every week!

From McGuire’s article: 

There will be the Pop Punk Emporium, with a pop punk cover band, free punk haircuts and a museum with audio guide. There’s an art swap — for people to bring art and take art — and a bicycle film festival. There’s even a “Weeklong Naughtybilly Hoedown” filled with bad cowboy movies and jam sessions.

The Paper Darts literary journal will sell the summer issue as well as host readings, and the recently closed Play by Play Theatre bookstore of St. Paul will have some books for sale and host Theateropolis — a week of theater-themed classes and events.

 This is what I love about living in a big(ish) city – there’s always something to do!


For my favorite mad engineer, Senja.

Source: Cowbirds In Love   Click on the link for greater resolution.


And two stories via Pharyngula – One sobering, and one fun:

Sobering: There are over 4,000 oil rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico.


Everyone is fixated on that one burning mess in the Gulf, which is probably exactly what the oil companies want — they are probably sweating pungent carcinogenic petrochemicals at the thought that someone might look around and notice all of those other rigs, which almost certainly have a paper trail of shortcuts and risks and shoddy management.

Scary.  Insert *shudder* here.

And now some FUN from Pharyngula:

Snazzy T-Shirts from HideYourArms.com:



Good Monday, um Tuesday.

iHave no iPhone

But I do have the new Droid – Verizon’s HTC IncrediblePhoto source.

Droid Incredible by HTC : Front

And it is…it really is!

Back it up a minute…I decided not to go for the iPhone when I signed up for SCUBA lessons – the magic debit card only goes so far before it starts giggling hysterically at me.  But I really, really wanted a smartphone for the 3G access.  I want GPS, instant internet access and all of that computer-in-your-pocket technology.

So I did a little digging, and I found out that with my Verizon 2-year renewal contract plus an employer discount I was able to get a Droid Incredible for HALF of what I would have spent on an iPhone of equal memory.  Score – SCUBA and a smartphone!

On to the awesomeness that is the Incredible.

Now, I just received it in the mail yesterday, so I’ve only started playing around with it.  But it has the smooth movement of an iPhone – the scrolling screens fly by.  I’ve got pinch, drag and swipe capabilities.  The Incredible’s 8-megapixel camera blows iPhone’s 3MP camera out of the water.  And maybe the biggest benefit of the Incredible is that I can stay on Verizon’s network instead of switching to AT&T. 

The Android Market has a lot of similarities to iTunes App Store, but iTunes is for superior for number and variety of apps.  That’s okay for me because I still have my iPod Touch which I can use to download must-haves from iTunes.  I’ll keep my iPod and treat it as my primary music storage – look, now I have 32GB of storage across two devices (which is good, because I’ve already exceeded the 16GB limit on the iPod).

So far I’ve downloaded GeoBeagle (for geocaching), Google Earth, ColorNote (notepad), Color Flash (a superior version of the iTunes flashlight, IMHO), Urban Spoon, WordPress, and Calvin and Hobbes.  Good times!


iHave no iPhone


Ever since I learned about scuba diving, I’ve wanted to do it.  I love being underwater.  I love the way that the physics I experience on ground is turned on its ear – Underwater I’m weightless, and plants, animals and detris flow in the invisible currents.  Sandy bottoms disperse and reform with the slightest encouragement.  Light defracts differently than on land.  Movement is fluid and graceful.  Temperature shifts in inches.  In wild environments,   I love the foreign critters and plant life.  And breathing underwater is such a triumph – a conquering of a foreign environment that still today holds so many mysteries!

So far I haven’t been certified in scuba for two reasons:  Money and Necessity.  Getting certified in scuba can be pricey, averaging ~$300 for training and certification, figure another ~$100 for the open water dive course, pricey equipment if you decide to invest in owning, and also pricey if you rent.  As for necessity: I was raised and currently live in the Midwest, and there’s not a lot of easily accessible diving around here, although Minnesota has more opportunity for freshwater diving that the suburbs of Chicago!   Also, I don’t know a lot of people who are scuba-certified, and thus I had no diving buddies. 

But I’ve finally decided to do it.  I realized that if I died tomorrow, one of my big regrets would be that I never experienced scuba diving, and as easy as it is to get certified…well, that’s a silly thing to regret.  Sadly, getting my scuba certification is not without sacrifice – I’m passing on the iPhone that I was planning on getting in May when my Verizon contract comes to an end.  I’ll be hanging on to my three separate devices (camera, phone, iPod Touch) for a while longer.  Fare well, iPhone, I never knew thee!

I’m getting my certification from the descriptively named Scuba Center in Minneapolis on May 14-16th.  I have a Friday night class, and then two classes on Saturday, followed by a pool class on Sunday afternoon.  Wham Bam!  After that I’ve got six months to do my open water dive. 

When I signed up, the store employee went through about 300 forms, which I have laid out on my kitchen table in the picture below.  I had to sign my name a couple dozen times, and then finally the swiping of the debit card.  It’s official! 

Aside from the new diver magazines, class offering descriptions and glossy equipment sales catalogues, I received a two-DVD set and two course books that I have to finish before the first class on May 14th.

The blue text book has five chapters and end-of-chapter quizzes, and is meant to be completed in conjunction with the 3 hours of video training.  The Use and Choose Dive Computers manual contains two additional chapters of homework. 

Along with all of this, Scuba Center requires students to supply their own mask, fins and snorkel for both hygiene and fit purposes.  The scuba mask has to be made of tempered glass and has to fit my face, the fins have to be scuba fins (sturdier, broader from what I understand) and the snorkel is nothing special, but they just want you to use your own.  They of course offer excellent deals on their own inventory for new students 🙂

And lastly, I also have a dive buddy!  I know of at least one good friend who lives in the area and loves to dive.

Looks like I’m all set.


Dragons, Wrestling, Italian and iPad

All my friends are still talking about this damn “How to Train Your Dragon” movie, and it’s still holding strong at 98% on rottentomatoes.com.  Alright, I admit it…my curiosity is peaked.  And it’s still playing at the IMAX… 


Another thing that has aroused my interest is a new play that just opened at Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis called The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety.  It’s all about professional wrestling!  Well, and slightly heavier stuff like the concept of race in America.  From the press release:

The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity examines America’s ideals and fears through a comic and provocative look at geopolitics and professional wrestling.  Told from the perspective of an unlikely underdog, Macedonio Guerra, a Puerto Rican wrestler who has made a career as a “professional loser”, Chad Deity tells the tale of an African-American champion pitted against a trash-talking Indian athlete from the streets.  Racial politics and wrestling make odd bedfellows everywhere but on Mixed Blood’s stage; political correctness and conventional expectations are thrown out of the ring in this theatrical event.


I bought a grammer workbook for Italian last night at the bookstore (McGraw-Hill Easy Italian Step-by-Step).  I wonder if anyone really thinks that they’re going to get along in a foreign country with “Language X for Travelers” books.  I mean, how much patience would you have for someone if they approached you on the street, gripping a book, mumbling to themselves, pointing frantically at the pages and speaking something that sounds somewhat like heavily-accented English?  I think a lot of us would find somewhere else to be pretty quickly.  Seriously, take a few minutes to learn the subject pronouns (I, you, he, she, we, you (plural), they) and how to conjugate the big three verbs (to be, to have, to do/to go), and you’re in a much better position to get your point across.


The Hubby and I have a Mac Date tonight.  We’re going to take my desktop Mac to the Genius Bar in an attempt to identify why I can’t upload my CD language programs.  We’re also going in order to pet the cute new iPads.  I think I’m out of the woods with my desire to have an iPad – an iPhone will be plenty for me, and for the price I think I’d have to go with a PC laptop before an iPad.  For those of you still struggling with the decision To Buy or Not To Buy, The Maniachi’s blog has provided this easy-to-follow flow chart:

Dragons, Wrestling, Italian and iPad

New Apple Product – the iPad!

Seriously, what else could I write about today?  You know, aside from Haiti, civil rights, President Obama’s State of the Union address… Naaaah…it’s iPad!

source: gizmodo.com

Apple officially unveiled their new Apple product today.  They’re calling it the iPad, and it’s a tablet – a sort of a cross between an iPod Touch and a laptop.  It has a flat screen that looks and acts like the iPod Touch, is super thin, and has a relatively huge (gorgeous) screen and a digital qwerty keyboard.

source: gizmodo.com

I was pretty excited to read the liveblogging provided by Gizmodo, and now the entire presentation by Steve Jobs is available to watch online.  I want, but I probably won’t get it for the cost.  A 32gig iPad with WiFi and 3G capabilities is running me $729.

source: gizmodo.com

I heart my iPod Touch, and have been wanting the iPhone for the 3GS service and camera.  I’ve been waiting for my current Verizon contract to end so I can sign up with the iPhone’s exclusive carrier, AT&T (which is a bit like trading down from caviar to frog eggs).  I was toying with idea of sticking with Verizon (and my enV phone) and just upgrading from my Touch to an iPad.

But alas, the iPad has no camera, I have to pay more for it than a new Microsoft laptop, and I have to pay $30 a month for an unlimited data package (which ain’t so bad).  But  $30/month data package + current phone plan = $95/month (but I get to keep Verizon).  AT&T iPhone plan = $80/month (but I’m stuck with AT&T).

Ah well, a girl can dream.

New Apple Product – the iPad!