Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Downturn Stocks

So I've been noticing something with this most recent downturn, as in life, there are winners and losers. In this case, most consumer related stores are tanking as spending is down, and anything with good worldwide penetration, or things that cater to cheapness are thriving. I thought that it might be a good idea to start a list of companies that I see doing well during this recession so that when the next one comes, and I actually have money (unless The American Dream is truly dead or dying- and I will be poor forever, which may just be the case, the middle class hasn't had a pay increase in 8 years now so...), I can properly shift my investments over to things that will likely do well during the downturn. Some of these need to be purchased at the beginning of the downturn (ie 6-12 months ago) and some need to be bought in the middle after some value has been shed (ie now):

1. Discount Stores- Walmart, Costco, etc
2. Mini-Storage Companies- Public Storage, etc.
3. Construction Machinery- Catepillar
4. Movie Companies- People need an escape even more
5. Alcohol related companies- specifically cheap ones (escape)
6. High Tech bargins- Google and Apple are low right now, good time to stock up
7. Fast Food Places- As much as I hate them McDonalds is doing well now- overseas.

Any other thoughts?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cool Website- Wordle + Email

I found this really cool website called Wordle ( It takes any text, or hyperlink and makes a random map of the text you give it. You can change some things about how it looks, text, colors, shapes, etc. and you get something that looks like this:

It is from an ongoing email between Anne, Liz, and I- this one in particular was from Anne's thoughts on initial interactions. My favorite is the 'women just feel' combination that is to the left.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More from Pollan

Again from The Omnivore's Dilemma:

"The executive patiently explained that selling unprocessed or minimally processed whole foods will always be a fool's game, since the price of agricultural commodities tends to fall over time, whether they're organic or not. More food coming off the farm leads to either falling profits-or more processing.

The other problem with selling whole foods, he explained, is that it will always be hard to distinguish one company's corn or chickens or apples from any other company's. It makes much more sense to turn the corn into a brand-name cereal, the chicken into a TV dinner, and apples into a component in a nutraceutical food system. [...]
TreeTop has developed a 'low-moisture, naturally sweetened apple piece infused with a red-wine extract.' Just eighteen grams of these apple pieces have the same amount of cancer fighting "flavonoid phenols as five glasses of wine and dietary fiber equivalent of one whole apple." [...] We've apparently moved from [the dream of] the meal-in-a-pill to the pill-in-a-meal, which is to say not very far at all.

The news of TreeTop's breakthrough came in a recent Food Technology trend story titled 'Getting More Fruits and Vegetables into Food.' I had thought fruits and vegetables were already foods, and so didn't need to be gotten into them, but I guess that just shows I'm stuck in the food past. "

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Brodie Has Blue Eyes

These are slightly different. Color obviously, but the other two, one has a blur and one doesn't.

More Evidence

From this NYTimes article:

Men who shrugged off vacations for five straight years were 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack than those who took an extended break from work every year, according to a multiyear study by Brooks B. Gump, an associate professor of psychology at State University of New York, Oswego, and a colleague, Karen A. Matthews. Vacations may boost what psychologists call the brain’s “reserve capacity,” which helps it “cope with stressors that come up,” Dr. Gump said. Vacation, he added, “is a buffer.”

The evidence is stacking up...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NYTimes Story- Me and My Girls

This is a story about a drug addict who cleans up, and finds success. I found it to be a very enjoyable read and suggest it:

"But was it really all thus? When memory is called to answer, it often answers back with deception. How is it that almost every warm bar stool contains a hero, a star of his own epic, who is the sum of his amazing stories?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A Little Under 4 Months to GO

We've got about 4 months to go until the November election, and I'm happy to say that things are looking good for the progressive/liberal/Democratic faction of this nation. I don't want to put too much hope into any politician (they are natural born liars), but maybe just maybe we can start to undo some of the damage that as been caused by the Regan Republicans over the last 25-30 years (and they were actually Nixonian Republicans initially- hence they are all REALLLY OLD). Oh, and I was listening to an On Point NPR radio program about how what we are seeing happen in the economy right now is actually a 30 year long 'Superbubble' (his term) in the process of bursting. This bubble is a financial bubble, which has been patched up over the years do to the attempted corrections in the savings and loan scandal of the late 80s and the recession in the early 90s. The bubble wasn't allowed to be properly fixed due to the last 30 years of a completely unregulated marketplace (I include the Clintons in this, they had it easy w/ the boom). What cracks me up is the fact that economist have shown mathematically that unregulated capitalistic markets (aka Laissez-faire market system) simply do not work, and break down due to corruption. I was happy to learn this as I've always thought of pure capitalism as a snake eating its own tail- competition = healthy market; but - competition = destroy competitors = no more competition = unhealthy market - see the loop?

Wow I got on a tangent there- ah well- I just wanted to show peoples that the future markets (a place where you can buy stock in certain predictions like the presidential election) shows Obama w/ a 66/33 lead over McCain. These future markets have been shown to be more accurate than any polling, like the Gallop polls because people are more honest w/ what they do with their monies!

Yay, go Obama!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

3 books and 3 quotes

I realized that I'm currently reading three books: The Illuminatus! Trilogy, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and now thanks to Anne The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. I am enjoying all three, however, this is a little ridiculous- ah well, I'll just have to plow through them all!

Quote1: from Laughter and Forgetting- I read this while getting new tires on my car:

"I emphasize: idyll and for all, because all human beings have always aspired to an idyll, to that garden where nightingales sing, to that realm of harmony where the world does not rise up as a stranger against man and man against other men, but rather where the world and all men are shaped from one and the same matter. There, everyone is a note in a sublime Bach fugue, and anyone who refuses to be one is a mere useless and meaningless black dot that need only be caught and crushed between thumb and finger like a flea." -Milan Kundera

Quote2: from The Illuminatus!-
"Celine reared back as if I had waved offal under his nose. 'Objectivists?' he pronounced the word as if I had accused him of being a child-molester. 'We're anarchists and outlaws, goddamn it. Didn't you understand that much? We've got nothing to do with right-wing, left-wing or any other half-assed political category. If you work within the system, you come to one of the either/or choices that were implicit in the system from the beginning. You're talking like a medieval serf, asking the first agnostic whether he worships God or the Devil. We're outside the system's categories. You'll never get the hang of our game if you keep thinking in flat-earth imagery of right and left, good and evil, up and down. If you need a group label for us, we're political non-Euclideans. But even that's not true. Sink me, nobody of this tub agrees with anybody else about anything, except maybe what the fellow with the horns told the old man in the clouds: Non serviam.' ... '"I will not serve,"'" -Shea and Wilson.

Quote3: from The Omnivore's Dilemma-
"The biological absurdity, characteristic of all CAFOs [Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation], is compounded in the cattle feed yard by a second absurdity. Here animals exquisitely adapted by natural selection to live on grass must be adapted by us- at considerable cost to their heatlth, to the health of the land, and ultimately to the health of their eaters- to live on corn, for no other reason than it offers the chapest calories around and because the great pile must be consumed. This is why I decided to follow the trail of industrial corn through a single steer rather than, say, a chicken or a pig, which can get by just fine on a diet of grain: The short, unhappy life of a corn-fed feedlot steer represents the ultimate triumph of industrial thinking over logic of evolution." -Michael Pollan

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vacation Days Comparison

Now that I'm done w/ Lost Coast pictures, I can start publishing these other posts that I've been working on- I restrained myself to keep all the Lost Coast blogs together. Anyway, after hearing that France gets something like 37 days off a year on NPR, I was pretty livid and sad at the same time so I though I'd see how the US fairs against all the countries in the world (well many). To summarize- NOT WELL!

"Workers in the United States do not lead the world in dedicated hours at work, Korea holds the top spot in 2005. However stateside professionals log 100 hours per year more than those professionals in Japan, and 389 hours more than professional workers in Europe. The average workweek in the United States puts workers behind the desk for 44 hours." (Link)

I thought we were supposed to be the greatest country in the world, at least that's what I've been told my whole life...

Wikipedia statutory minimum number of days off by country: (Link) - the US is listed at 'none' however the average is 14days off including sick days- which places us in the mix with China, Korea, and Japan...don't even get me started on Europe- those guys make us look bad, again...

The *'s are for two different things- like I said before, technically the US is at zero, but that isn't true for most people so I put it in at the average of 14days off. Mexico has a ramping up of days off so I put in what you have after 5 years since most American's don't stay at a job for much more than 5 years these days. + I wanted to add to this- the days off of the other countries don't include 'for most people', but rather are bare minimums. I bet (though don't know) that since this is the bare minimum, some professionals have a 'more than minimum' number of days off, and hence to do a fair comparison with the US, the other countries on this graph would need to be shifted up from where they are.

This is from the Wiki link I put in there and I'm not sure how their tables are calculated, like does this include the national holidays that 90%+ of the people get off of work? I don't think these numbers do include those days based on some other sources. Also, while I didn't include all of the countries that the Wiki link has in it, I tried to do a fair cross section without making the US look too bad, as there were many many many many more countries falling into the 20-30 range than I have shown here. Finally, I'd like to point out that many of the 'less developed' countries like Saudi Arabia, India, and South Africa are ahead of us in number of days off.

You have to ask yourself, what does quality of life really mean?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Lost Coast - Numero Siete

One amazing thing about this beach was the way the waves filter through the rocks. It made this amazing sound, I can't even describe it in words. I wish I had a recorder to really capture it. So, I took these two pictures back to back as the wave crashed- the third is a difference between the two (after alignment).

The Lost Coast - Numero Seis

So these are a bunch of random pictures that I wanted to get processed. I think some of them are nice, but nothing too great. Did you know that fog rainbows exist? The girls picture is a great example of when a flash comes in handy. The sun was coming up so the sky was bright but the beach was dark-a la flash! I've definitely got a thing for flowers.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The Lost Coast - Numero Cinco

This was an experiment I did with averaging out the wave crashes during the daytime, by adding multiple pictures together. However, somewhere I got side tracked by how cool the differencing looked, played with some masks and came up with this. I like it, but it's not quite there yet.

Bri and I climbed up to the top of the ridge separating our campsite from the ocean to get some last minute shots before the sun went down. The fog cleared a bit and we got some descent shots. Bri got a really nice one with the waves washing up on the beach. This was an HDR picture where the sun was catching some clouds on the other side of the fog, and if you look in the upper left you can see the crescent moon.

Here is what happens when you take 3 HDR images (so 9 images in total) with long exposures, and do a difference on them.

The Lost Coast - Numero Quatro


Finally, I can post what I've been working on all night. This is a 9 image panorama. I think it turned out pretty good, you can definitely see the seams, but the conditions were changing rapidly, and I haven't bought a remote yet so I had to wait 10s for the timer each time. I worked through all those other pics just so I could get this up tonight- I'm sick.

The Lost Coast - Numero Tres

These are sorta random pics. The first two are from the hike. We got above the fog which was cool, but hard to capture. This idea was from Brian, good call. We did a sweet stop animation which I can't wait to see. The last three were from the previous day, that seal got really close and was definitely checking us out, I finally got my bee wings picture, and the rocks on this beach were really cool flat pebbles.

The Lost Coast - Numero Dos

Second day, we awoke to see a herd of elk cruising through the area. They were headed out to the coast during the morning low tide to munch on some algae or kelp, or whatever they eat. We then went for a hike and had to pass through the herd, luckily they weren't being aggressive and left us alone. We were really close though and it was more than a bit scary I have to say.

The Lost Coast - Numero Uno

Brian, Louisa, Sara, Liza and I went up to The Lost Coast, a stretch of the California coast where the 1 deviates from the coast for a section. The proper name is the Sinkyone Wilderness. It was an amazing campsite, top two spots are between Desolation Wilderness and this site. The parking lot was 0.4 mi from the campsite, so it was sorta a hybrid between backpacking and car camping. It was very easy access, and we were practically on the beach. The first day Bri and I got up early to take some pictures, we had some breakfast, paid the ranger, and got some water. We thought there wasn't any potable water, but there was at the ranger station (the girls found this out later). Luckily Henry, this nice guy there with his family, had a purifier that he let us borrow. Finally, as it was a day to celebrate we got drunk.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


So I got seawater on my camera TWICE during this photoshoot. The sacrifices we make in the name of art! The one good thing was the last picture in this entire set, I got it by taking a wave in the face. Luckily my camera is fine, I gave it a nice wipe down when I got home, and I got this pretty amazing picture!

Tide Pools 2