The Call of the Wild West January 9th, 2011
This past holiday I drove from Colorado to California to spend time with cousins in Big Bear and friends west of L.A.
I’ve missed going on long drives. I used to do them a lot when I lived in the southeastern US, when I would spend most of my vacations returning to the midwest to visit friends and family. When I moved to California in 2001, I stopped doing that because it just seemed too far to get back. But now that I am in Colorado, both California and the midwest take a more manageable number of hours to drive to. And I really enjoyed this trip, with the varied scenery, interesting weather, music cranked just a bit louder that my speakers can handle, feeling of independence, time to think, etc.
One thing that’s changed though since I lived back east is that I feel a little guilty about the environment now with my 20 mpg pickup… but I’ll try to make up for it in summer by biking more. Would flying out there have been worse? I don’t know – but certainly more costly and probably not much quicker since I would have had to rent a car in Las Vegas or L.A. anyway to make it to Big Bear… where there was plenty of snow and my 4WD came in real handy.
Here are some photos from the drive – the best I could do with my iPhone and Canon PowerShot, hurtling at 70+ mph down the interstates and highways of the wild and wonderful western US (is that as bad as texting behind the wheel? shame on me).
More photos from my trip on Flickr:
Big Bear, L.A. and Big Bear again
Snowboarding at Powderhorn (Coloraaado) on the way back
Full set from the drive (the ones here plus a few more)
Trying GIMP, Part 1 December 9th, 2010
It’s been eating away at me for some time now that I should get a proper photo editor. Laziness and frugality mean I’ve been using a combination of some software that came with one of my cameras along with Flickr’s online photo editor, Piknik. Mostly this allows me to scale (change width/height), reduce quality, and crop photos, which gets me by for my Plant of the Month proto-blog and various other little tasks. However, there is not much flexibility in reducing photos (finite options), and I want more features, for instance something to help me make favicons and design a business card.
A little worried I would get stuck in a cycle of over-analysis, I started researching. I quickly found GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) and decided to give it a try. Pros: it is free, flexible, feature-rich. Cons: hard to learn, even with the newer supposedly easier version 2.6. A couple of observations so far on this note: what to do e.g right-click, shift-click etc. doesn’t seem all that intuitive to me. I think this is probably an initial reaction, though, and once I learn the style of the interface I will overcome this hurdle. The other observation is that there are tons and tons of menu options. I’m reminded a little of Microsoft Excel, in a way that I may come to appreciate: many of the menu items have keyboard equivalents, so if I take the time to learn the shortcuts I can move faster than with the mouse.
More next time.