Monday, November 29, 2010

Vegas Photowalk?

I think I may have mentioned this on Twitter, I dunno.

Anybody feel like doing a small photowalk in Vegas? Cameras, wandering, picture-taking. I'm thinking of just staying on The Strip, maybe duck into a few casinos and see if we can't get a few pics of the non-gambling areas perhaps. I'm tempted to bring my tripod, but those things tend to draw attention to themselves.

That or maybe I just try and hitch my wagon to the Neon Graveyard trip.

To Do (9 Days)

Nine days until take-off. I'm definitely looking forward to this trip and locking my brain away in the room safe while I bask in the neon glow and stench of desperation and hope of The Strip.

But before then, there are things to do.

1.- Finish an essay for class tonight. It's due Wednesday, but I'll be good and plastered when I stagger in the door tomorrow night, so tonight, post-class is my last chance to make it presentable.

2.- Adjust and send off my bounty for printing and shipping. Going through mpix, and shipping to one of those awesome people I know in Vegas who has agreed to be my bounty mule. Should try and get that done tonight too. While it should only take a couple days to print and ship, I don't want to find myself without the physical bounty at the table. Then again, I forgot my bounties last year and won the whole thing...

3.- Work on a couple other class projects. Fairly easy stuff, all told, but time is still required. Due the Thursday after I return, I'd love to have them knocked off before departure.

4.- Study for an exam. Final exam the Wednesday after I'm back. Considering I'm barely paying attention in class these days, I'll be bringing notes on the plane and spending the 5 hour flight reading them. Then putting them away for the next 5 days, hoping I don't kill the brain cells that contain the information I need.

5.- Make sure I have some US cash. Good exchange rate, and now having both a US account and credit card lessens this need. As long as I remember to bring everything this time.

6.- Confirm reservations. Robuchon's already been locked in, Delmonico should be checked. Still no plans for Wednesday night, and sadly, José Andrés' places at the Cosmopolitan won't be open until the three days AFTER I leave. Poor timing José... poor timing.

7.- Figure out reno timing. I'm putting in hardwood. I need to get the flooring and schedule its installation. This also requires emptying out two bedrooms and tearing up carpet. This has the most potential to be the biggest wrench in things, seeing as I want it done by the weekend after I return. Need to harass some folks. Well, already harassing them.

8.- Automate more at work. Three days where others will be covering for me. I'd better build some more buttons for them to press.

9.- Play a hand or two of poker. Outside of 3 minutes of terrible turbo SnG play last week, I think it's been a month since I've logged in to the virtual felt. It's been months and months since I last played with real cards. Which means all my luckbox powers have been building up and are fully charged.

10.- Not go insane. After Vegas, the New Year can't come fast enough. Things SHOULD be settled down by then. Hell, barring a major catastrophe, 2011 should seem calm and easy compared to the last couple months.

Tap me on the shoulder, I'll buy you a drink, because I'll need another one myself.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I'll probably bring a few random trinkets with me to the Winter Gathering. Hammer keychains and the like.

But Oh Captain reminded me of what I had planned this year's bounty to be.

This of course:
Sunrise From The B

Now I just have to print it, frame it, and pack it. I'm thinking of throwing in a full-sized TIFF of the image to, so whoever knocks me out can use it for their own personal, non-commercial purposes. Maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'll have to reward it to the best Pai Gow player or something, since I'm winning the whole damned tournament again.

Was Worried, But Now Not

My job changed a little while ago. More responsibility. Generally good.

But I had a fear.

Would this mean I couldn't go to Vegas?

My annual trip? Where I have a non-refundable flight? And a hotel room booked in my name, and a roomie who could be stranded? What about the dinner reservations in my name? Will they be lost?

Apparently. No. Because I'm still going.


2 weeks from now I'll be airborne and probably over Minnesota or something, heading to the land of wallet-draining fun. The excitement over this is rising daily.

I can't wait to see all those degenerates that used to blog about poker. Like me. It's always a reinvigorating experience to slap some cash down on a -EV table game while knocking back concoctions designed to part you from your money even faster. Good decisions? Maybe getting vitamin C from a Greyhound will count as one.

One other one would be finding a third for my last longer team. There's me, VinNay (who I COULD link to, but he hasn't blogged in... forever)... and... you? Let's face it, Vin's got skills and math, I've got horseshoes in places backscatter x-ray machines can't find, AND am the defending Golden Hammer Champion, how could you not want to be on our team? Hell, my team came in 3rd last year, despite what the official record says, and one of our guys went out in the 60's!

This thing... let's do it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ego Boost

A week or so ago, in a bid to beef up my picture count for one of my classes, I spent a Friday night with a tripod, camera, a couple flashes, black sheets, and a few household items. A pewter shot glass, some tarnished silver wine cups, some wooden puzzles, and a crystal brandy snifter full of pomegranate seeds were my subjects.

I lit these items individually from various angles, watching how the shadows fell, or how the light was dispersed across their various surfaces. The most interesting, to me, were the seeds. Translucent, the light affected their look dramatically. The crystal glass they were in refracted and reflected the light.

And then, just before I put them away (in my belly), I decided to visit my old friend, HDR. The only HDR shot of the shoot, I took 9 exposures and blended them together.

Pomegranate Seeds

I showed the picture to a few friends, who loved it. It's the only shot I've put up on my Flickr stream since the Toronto Zombie Walk. I opted to add it to the Boing Boing Flickr pool, where it was marked as a favourite by Xeni.

Then, on Friday, a week after I'd taken it, it ended up on the front page of Boing Boing where it still sits. This has naturally pushed it to surpass my Vegas sunrise pic from last year as my most viewed, with the number still rising. After a long week, it was a huge ego boost, and something I kept mentally returning to as I worked through over 1000 pictures this weekend for submission to one of my classes. Sometimes I even think I might be getting the hang of this photography thing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crunch Time

Last night a reprieve was given.

The class I like least (and in fact, don't like at all), was made slightly more bearable with the question, "How do you all feel about an extension?"

So an essay I've barely begun has been postponed a week. Whew.

Still, 1000 photos are due on Monday. I have 1850 to choose from, but it might be tight after doubles (triples, dodecatuples, etc.), shots I don't like, HDR processing, stitching, and everything else is done to them. At the moment, I haven't finished with my initial round of picks.

Will it be tight? I don't think so. I plan to work on them more tonight, and Saturday, and Sunday. At some point I'll have to remember not to overdo it - that not every shot has to be processed and perfectly recomposed. That 1000 pictures will not be scrutinized for 20 people. It certainly seems more do-able now that the essay is due a week later.

Which will of course be what takes up next weekend. Then there's the 2 projects for my third course to work on.

School... I forgot about the homework part.

I miss poker.

Monday, November 08, 2010

How To Go Out of Business

I have a carbonator at home that I use to make my own soda. It works simply enough, insert bottle of water, blast with CO2. But the canisters need to be replaced from time-to-time.

And they're specific to the brand.

So I have to visit a local store to swap them. I give them my old one and some money, they give me a new full one. Simple enough, except that stores that are part of the program are few and far between in these parts. If I was in the States, any Williams-Sonoma would do.

I was thrilled a while back when I found a store that had just started carrying them within walking distance of me. On Friday, I decided to pay them a visit and swap my canister. A friend of mine has a similar system (same company) and decided to come with to swap her canister as well.

We walked in, and she grabbed a flavour syrup while I went to the cash. I pulled out my canister and said I wanted to swap. The owner reached behind the counter and pulled out a replacement. Then my friend pulled out her canister, an older model, but still on the plan. He balked, saying, "We don't do that company."

"It's the same company."

"No it isn't, this is Soda Stream, that is Soda Club."

"Soda Stream is Soda Club's new name - same company, same plan."

"Well, I don't have those canisters."

"That's fine, we want one of the new ones. The company website says they're exchangeable."

"Well, I don't know if I can, I'll have to check."

"Okay, fine."

At this point, my friend puts away her canister and decides to put back the flavour syrup, as she has no use for it without a working carbonator. The owner says, "You aren't going to buy that?"

"No, there's no point."

And he starts to put away MY replacement.

"Wait, I'm still exchanging my canister."

"No, I only have 6, not enough to bother."

"What? You don't want my money?"

"I don't care. It's not worth my time, I only have enough for serious customers."

I start to lose it a little.

"Seriously?? I come here, wanting to PAY YOU for a product, and now you're telling me no? Why?"

"Because you're being difficult."

"I'M being difficult? All we asked was if you could exchange this, and when you said you had to check, we said okay."

"My distributor is very difficult, he won't do it."

"You don't know that. So now you're not even going to check? You can log on to the website right now."


"Fine, you don't want our business, you won't get it."

"Good. Go someplace else. I'm sick of this product. It's for misers."

"Excuse me? Now you're judging your customers? I bought one of everything on this shelf last time I was here, and you've guaranteed you won't see another dime from me."

"Fine, go to another store."

"I will."

I'm not unreasonable, neither is my friend. At "I'll have to check", we accepted that. For some reason, he then decided that if MY FRIEND wasn't spending an extra $7, then I wouldn't be served either.

So fuck Pepper Mill at Hazelton Lanes. The owner obviously wants to see his overpriced kitchen gadget store go under. He'll undoubtedly blame the customers, not the godawful customer service.

On the upside, this lead me to check for other sources, and some even closer to me have opened up recently. So not only did this asswipe's attitude lead me to stop visiting his store, but has led me to other stores! I'm sure the owners there will be grateful for the business he's sent them.

Anyone who's seen my kitchen, and the room next to it, and the closet, and the pantry, might be aware of my affinity for kitchen gadgets and utensils and appliances... not the asshole running the shop at Pepper Mill though.

Oh, and it turns out he was right - store owners can't exchange for the old ones, it has to be done directly - but he wasn't even willing to check, changed his story at least 3 times, and was incomprehensibly rude. Quality service from top to bottom. But hey, at least the people at Soda Stream were friendly and helpful when I called.