Archive for April, 2008

Simon’s reached the age where he’s saying more and more entertaining things. My problem is that I don’t remember the funny things he says so that I can write about them here. I need to start carrying around a note pad to write them down. I wasn’t actually around for this one, but it was funny enough secondhand that I thought I’d share.

Simon: Simon hungry. Want something else.
Kate: Would you like a banana?
Simon: No banana.
Kate: Would you like some cheese?
Simon: No cheese.
Kate: Would you like some carrots?
Simon: No carrots.
Kate (getting exasperated at this point): Would you like some bumblebees?
Simon: Bumblebees! Simon want bumblebees! Where bumblebees at? Bumblebeeeeeeesss!

Go Caps! (Just went up 3-2!).

Edit 04/18/08: The Caps ended up losing 4-3 in double OT. But it doesn’t make this any less cute.

Our friend Lou Ann purchased a brand new spiffy Canon 40D and was kind enough to lend me her old Canon EOS Digital Rebel. It’s clear that I have a lot to learn about how to use a DSLR, and how to do post processing. So this is the first of what may be come many “lessons learned” posts.

I took Simon out last night to play baseball with his Spiderman bat and ball. I took the camera along to snap some photos. This was at about 5:30PM, so the sun was low and the light was nice and soft. I learned two things last night.

  1. Pay attention to shadows! Of about 70 pictures that I took, maybe 15 were keepers (in my book – others may beg to differ). Of those 15, I only thought 3 or 4 were worth posting for the world to see on Flickr (again, others may disagree!). Many of the pictures were discarded because of shadows. Either he was facing the wrong way and his face was in shadow, or more egregiously, my shadow was in the frame distracting from the picture. It’s something I didn’t think of at all and didn’t really notice looking at the camera’s LCD when reviewing pictures.
  2. Despite the good light, I didn’t set the camera correctly to get the vibrant colors that I really want when taking photos. I didn’t do any post-processing initially, and everything looked a little washed out. Kelly responded to my twitter complaint this AM and suggested that I fiddle with the saturation.

I followed Kelly’s advice (thanks, btw!) and increased the saturation in photoshop to create more vibrant colors. Mouse over the image below to see the difference a little saturation enhancement can make (IE6 users won’t see an image – look at this one on Flickr. Oh and download a better browser).

So my question is this. While I prefer more vibrant colors in my photos, how much saturation is TOO much saturation? If I move that slider to the end of the spectrum, I can get an image that is clearly too saturated. My problem is that my eyes have a hard time distinguishing when that threshold has been crossed. Any suggestions?

Simon has shown interest in cooking. For over a year, he has loved the toy kitchens that many of his little friends have in their houses. Kate has wanted to get Simon a toy kitchen for some time.

She mentioned this in passing to my sister, who immediately jumped all over it.

“Oh!!! I’ll make one,” she said. I’m not sure that she knew what she was getting herself into. True to her overachiever self, Erin did all sorts of research, drew up plans (consulting my grandfather the architect), found some really nice pieces of ROUGH wood, planed them and sanded them until they were usable, and put together what is really an amazing piece of work. I am absolutely stunned at what she put together.

Pots from Ikea

I know that the project caused her a fair amount of stress on several occasions (hopefully not induced by us asking about it – we swear, we were just excited), but the results are really spectacular. And Simon LOVES it. The kitchen is so realistic to Simon, he can’t understand why it doesn’t actually have running water. I’ve heard: "Sink broken – Daddy wanna fix it" more than once.

The kid loves it and plays with it every day. We love it because unlike his other toys, he plays with it for more than 5 consecutive minutes, thereby letting us actually take a breath and think. You know, in our own brains. It’s nice.

I could go on and on about his kitchen, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll point you towards the full set on Flickr. My sister is unbelievably generous with her time, a true artist, and someone that I’ll be proud for my kids to have as a role model. Oh, and she makes a kick-ass kitchen set. Thanks, Erin.

Inventor Dean Kamen talks about a prosthetic he’s developing for war veterans. Amazing stuff.

I first started using Flickr in October 2005. Several months later, I wished I could upload and share some of the short videos of cuteness that abounded. Now, this is reality (yes, it’s been around on other sites for a while – but I wanted a central media repository). Yesterday Flickr launched the ability to upload small (< 90 second) video clips. The clips appear in your photostream just as photos do, and you can basically perform all the actions on them that you would on photos: tag, set permissions, add to groups, etc. Oh, and apparently this feature is currently only available to "Pro" users ($25/year). I know this is probably going to be a controversial move within the Flickr community, as many Flickr users are very serious about their photography. I know there have been some vocal opponents of this as it has been kicked around in the community. But for a Flickr user like me, who posts mostly pictures of my kids, dog, travels, etc., this definitely has potential. Since the videos I take are very rarely over 90 seconds, they will fit well in the "story" that my photostream tells. I also use flickr as an emergency backup of my "best" photos. If my hard drive were ever to die on me, I can rest easy knowing that I have the majority of the photos that I care about loaded onto flickr. I hope that I can do the same with the little videos that I take. My big question is if the file that I upload (60 fps 640x480 AVI) can be downloaded again at some point in the future, or if only a converted, web friendly version will be stored by Flickr. I suppose there's only one way to find out. Here's more of Simon's American Idol training:

My father in law called the other night with the news that he’s ON the news! Check it out at 7 Online. Dad appears at about the 1:15 mark, if you don’t have the patience for the full 3 minute story. Virginia Tech gets a little free publicity here as well. Go Hokies!

Watching American Idol, Kate and I are struck by the parents that are all “MY child has been singing since he was THREE YEARS OLD!” Well take THIS Crazy Hollywood Parents: my boy is 2!

The toy he has in his hand is “Rocket Ship” from the Little Einsteins, a show on the Disney channel that he loves. The song he is singing is the theme from the show. He doesn’t really watch that much TV, but the TiVO up in New York ensured that he got to watch at least one episode with Grandma every day. So by the time Easter Sunday rolled around, he apparently had it down pretty good.