B’s Birthday Bash

A big chunk of our local family members gathered for a dinner in honor of my sister, Beata, whose (mumble)th birthday we were celebrating.

Dinner consisted of two types of pizzas, one meat-covered and one veggie that were generously supplied by my nephew Stephen and his girlfriend Jeri, along with some side dishes of beans, macaroni & cheese and corn-on-the-cob that my mom had prepared, and finally three types of desserts that Stephen and Jeri also brought.

There were no presents because our company should already be considered a gift that keeps on giving. Plus it saved on wrapping paper. We put the “mental” in environmentally conscious. We also put the cheap and lazy in it.

 

Ethics Lecture On Drones And UAVs

Attended another really good lecture at The Center for Ethics in Science and Technology at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.

This one focused on the benefits and risks of military, law enforcement and civilian uses of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The first half of the evening began with three brief presentations by a trio of speakers very experienced with the issue of unmanned drones (a term all three agreed was outdated and with too many negative connotations). The presenters were Lucien Miller, CEO of Innov8tive Designs, a manufacturer and distributor of UAV parts and accessories, Kieth McLellan, CEO of ROV Systems LLC, design firm for a range of unmanned aircraft and systems, and Bob Osborne, retired Commander of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and UAV Program Manager and now working with Homeland Security for Public Safety UAS SME at Modern Technology Solutions, Inc.

After speaking for the first half hour about the past, present and future of the industry, the floor was opened up to questions by quite a few attendees whose main concern was privacy issues. The Q&A portion was supposed to last another half hour but the moderator had to cut the line off after about 45 minutes.

All three presenters tried to be as reassuring as possible about the future of UAVs in regards to the problems of public privacy.

 

UPDATE: Here’s a link to a recording of the lecture: http://ucsd.tv/search-details.aspx?showID=25591

 

My Mug Is Trending

Some of my friends noticed that I was trending on YouTube today. Or to be more precise, a video from the San Diego Zoo that prominently kept showing my dorky countenance was trending. A couple of them even shared the video link on Facebook. Apparently I have some very misguided fans.

It is a pretty funny video, though.

Here’s a screen capture that my friend Jeff sent me:

Me Trending On SDZoo YouTube 08-17-13

And here’s the video in question:

Zoo-Provided California Golden Poppy

From the free seeds I was given during the San Diego Zoo’s Garden Festival I was able to grow this beautiful and healthy California Golden Poppy(our state flower!) that blossomed with this gorgeous flower. I had one other plant grow nicely but it quickly died off for some reason.

This one started out looking a little weak but quickly became healthy and strong. It even has some more buds just waiting to bloom.

California Golden Poppy01 08-05-13 lo-res

UPDATE: Just like the first plant, within a matter of only two or three days my last Golden Poppy plant started wilting and quickly died. I have no explanation. I was watering it regularly and even started aerating the soil every day. Nothing I did seem to make a difference. Very disappointing. A gardener at Home Depot told me to add nitrates, but it was already to late to try that. Not sure how a plant can die so quickly from a lack of nitrates anyway.

California Golden Poppy02 08-05-13 lo-res

Freeway Fire

Started smelling smoke through my open window while I was working at my computer in the afternoon. It was far too early for the occasional evening smoke I catch a whiff of whenever a neighbor uses their fireplace on cooler nights.

I hurried to the backyard worried it might be a canyon fire, but it turned out to be another freeway median fire, about the fourth one I’ve seen since I’ve lived here. Oddly enough they always seem to occur in the about the same spot.

The fire department was already on scene extinguishing the flames. In other words, not really all that exciting.

Freeway Fire 07-30-13 lo-res

My Immersion

I tried out a new social graphing service today called Immersion that gives me data about my gmail collaboration with others in visual graph form. It was created by three individuals at MIT and it only accesses the To, From and timestamps of emails so there’s no actual reading of my emails.

It has a slider which lets you adjust the time frame for the emails as well as three interactive sliders to adjust some graph variables.

It is also smart enough to know how some of my contacts are connected to each other.

This is a snapshot of my data from my first email up to this moment in time and will change depending on future email interactions. And the ranking of my email collaborators is based on my gmail usage alone. It doesn’t take into account any other email accounts I may use.

Another cool online toy to play with that will be much more beneficial to some people than others.

Immersion 07-24-13

Hot Dog Kind Of Day

To give National Hot Dog Day some meaning and importance I visited one of the two Chula Vista Costcos with my friends, Sylvia y Rodrigo, to partake of the tasty, but terribly named food item.

But first I had to try out one of the comfy, reclining chairs they were selling inside across from the oversized foodstuffs. It was electric. Literally. No awkward pushing to open or pulling to close. All controlled with a button. So I guess technically there was a little pushing.

Then, after we finished our dogs (and one combo pizza slice for Rodrigo), we met a group of teenagers walking through the parking lot, one of whom was carrying a really cool, fairly large pet Horned lizard. I asked him what kind it was but of course I forgot thirty seconds later.

All in all it was a comfortable, delicious and reptilian sort of lunch. I’d do it again.

 

iWorks In iCloud In Beta

Apple gave me a chance to beta test cloud versions all three of its iWorks apps: Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

I really don’t use these apps as often as I used to, since most of my time is spent in Photoshop, but all three apps worked flawlessly. I could be mistaken, but I don’t think any of the apps were as full-featured yet as the comparable desktop versions, but I was easily able to create and edit documents in all three of them and save them into my account’s online storage.

The main advantage of working like this is that I can create or edit a document from any computer or device that has Internet access. I don’t need to have the file residing on my computer.

With apps and documents migrating into “the cloud” (a term that I never cared for), its obvious that our computer devices will eventually be nothing more than connections to our digital data residing on servers.

iCloud iWorks Combo 07-22-13

We Met The Robinsons At The Tapias

Had a great turnout at Sylvia and Rodrigo’s for a movie night with friends while my brother Tom and his family were visiting from that large, newish, pseudo-Mexican, rectangular area between Arizona and Texas. Even my mom joined us.

The movie de la nuit was “Meet the Robinsons”, a cute animated film that most of us had already seen before.

After my super exciting day three of Comic-Con, having chatted up and gotten my picture with both Joss Whedon and Bruce Boxleitner, but mainly Joss Whedon, I was understandably drained. (Not that way, Lisa!) So I passed out about halfway through the movie. Had a great, deep sleep and most people there didn’t even realize I was sawing logs. Woke up shortly before the movie ended.

It was a really long and good day.

Movie Night 07-20-13 lo-res

Lily Pond Reflections

After my Early Hours morning at the San Diego Zoo, and before heading over to see the newly opened “Mammoths and Mastodons” at the Natural History Museum, I spent some time meandering around and photographing the Lily Pond in Balboa Park.

Balboa Park Lily Pond 07-13-13 lo-res

RIP MIP

After my lunch with Terry and Lorena at Lil’ Pepper, I went back to Multi Image one last time to check out what they had in their warehouse that they were looking to get rid of. Most of the good stuff was unfortunately already gone or spoken for.

This would be my very last visit to a client that I had worked with for over twenty years. They were shuttering the doors for good, something that pretty much everyone involved saw was inevitable in this business climate.

I spoke for about half an hour with the company president, reminiscing a little, but mainly listening to him speak of accomplishments and regrets.

Accomplishments and awards were many as they were the largest multimedia company in San Diego for many years. I had traveled with them for shows and worked many late nights here in their offices. I made a few good friends, and will be glad not to have to interact any more with others.

Regrets were mainly directed to the way some of his long-time employees had coldly left and blamed him for the downfall of the company. He felt honest betrayal. He wasn’t the easiest person to work with but he was always friendly and fair with me.

I don’t miss the work (the paycheck on the other hand…), but I acknowledge and appreciate the experience I gained from our collaboration.

 

Visitors!

We had a couple visit us this evening, something of a rarity these days.

We had never met them before today, but Joseph and Eileen are friends of a friend of my mom’s whom she helped facilitate adoptions for of three siblings from Hungary a few years back.

They both had interesting stories of their own. Joseph was born in Iraq and his family emigrated when he was very young, although he still speaks with a slight accent. He served in the military with Steve Russell, my mom’s friend, in Iraq. Steve was the colonel in charge of the battalion that captured Saddam Hussein in Tikrit in 2003.

Eileen worked as a computer programmer in the mid 60s at MIT as part of the Apollo program. I believe she was involved with the communications that went back and forth between the astronauts and NASA.

Interesting couple. He talked quite a bit, she hardly at all until I started asking her about her programming days.

My mother was just happy to be socializing with other human beings.

Eileen Joseph and Maria 07-06-13 lo-res

Fly No More

Started my Independence Day on a really down note. My neighbor sent a text, asking me to check on a bird she found in her front yard before I headed out for the day. She said it seemed to be hurt.

By the time I got there (less than half an hour later), I found the bird had unfortunately already shuffled off its feathered mortal coil.

No more just resting. No more being stunned. And definitely no more pining for the fjords.

I gently picked it up and brought it home to be buried in our backyard, near the other four or five that we’ve buried over the months.

No question the worst part of appreciating nature and wildlife.

Bird Death 07-04-13 lo-res

Warming My Cockles

Apparently I’ve bonded with the neighbor’s two female cats that I’ve been watching. They are named Faith and Hope.

(Insert your own ironic adult humor here.)

Faith Hope and Me 07-02-13

Skype Silliness

What was supposed to be a scheduled Skype video chat between my family here and our relatives in Hungary became more of an impromptu stand-up routine with only half the participants. My mother, sister and I exchanged prop-comedy with my cousin, Gábor, and his wife, Kati.

A half-hour exchange became, as usual, twenty-five minutes of show-and-tell silliness ending with five minutes of “So, how are things?”

My cousin showing off a book of portraits of his family was a nice touch to end the show with.