Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Gifts

Shiseido Zen perfume. My gift to Alena for New Year.The New Year celebration flew by in an instance, as everything else seems to do. First thing we know we’re eating dinner and then hour by hour goes by and it’s time to count down the last ten seconds of the year.

Casio Pathfinder PAW1500T-7V. Alena's gift to me on New Year.At midnight exactly we pop the bottle of champaign open, shoot some firecrackers and poppers and then toast the new year. After a small desert my favorite parts starts — gift giving and receiving. We had a mountain of gifts under our Christmas tree.

Casio Baby G Sweet Poison BG2000BC-1 watch for Alena.We all got a lot of stuff. Alena got a perfume that she wanted — Shiseido Zen and a pair of sports wrist watches for mountain climbing and such. I got Casio Pathfinder 1500, the one with titanium bracelet. The watch has a lot of functions — compass, altimeter, barometer, temperature sensor beside other things.

Our full collection — Voyager, DS9 and TNG.My parents and Lina got us a whole bunch of Star Trek seasons of Voyager and The Next Generations. Now we a full set of each.

Some colorful pottery from my aunt.Linka also got us some towels with custom embroidered names. And my aunt got as some very colorful serving dishes. Good holiday with a lot of fun New Year is. My favorite. Too bad it is over so quickly.
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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Alena’s Bicycle

Randor "Dirty Dancing" Lady's bike.About a year ago we rented out a storage cage in the basement of our building with a main objective of storing bicycles in it. We’ve never got around to actually getting the bikes in 2008 thought. Continue Reading
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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Orange Monster

Seiko "Orange Monster" SKX781K diving watch.It may be quite evident by now that somebody on this side of keyboard has developed a minor watch obsession over the course of the last month. This is yet another one of those posts.

While doing my watch research before the New Year one particular watch caught my eye — Seiko SKX781K, or as it is better known — the “Orange Monster”. This is a rather heavy, solidly built diving watch from Seiko.

The glow of a luminescent paint under a little bit of light. The reason that we ended up buying it is the fact that I stumbled upon a great deal on exactly this watch on woot.com1. A watch with a list price of over $400 was shipped to us for $138 with no tax or shipping fees. Granted it can be found for quite a bit less than $400 online, but this particular deal is impossible to beat.

Orange Monster glow in complete darkness.The watch has very few features compared to Casio Pathfinder, but I find it quite a bit more attractive from the aesthetic point of view. It is water proof for up to 200m, has a unidirectional rotating bezel and day and date display. It’s an automatic watch, which means it winds itself from the wrist motion when being worn. And the last but not least is the fact that Seiko used a very generous amount of phosphorous paint. I did not expect the glow to be as bright as it actually is.

Another view of Orange Monster.Overall I like the solid feel, build and the look of this timepiece a lot. I’m looking forward to wearing it as soon as I get the bracelet sized for my wrist. I also hope to test it for its main purpose on our next vacation. Seiko research says that orange is the best visible color under water.

If you excuse me now, I need to take a bath. mrgreen mrgreen mrgreen

  1. Woot.com is a site that normally has a very good deal on one item every day. []
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Brian’s Bike

Cannondale XS800 — cyclocorss bicycle.Brian landed me one of his bicycles, so this weekend, after stopping at a cycle shop for some basic items and maintenance are going for some cycling, weather permitting.
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Мысли Вслух

New books, including the one written by Daniel's dad.Хочется пару слов написать о жизни, да всё как-то руки не доходят. Попробую исправить ситуацию.

A few hours before meeting New Year 2009.Новый 2009 Год, как уже писал Даня, мы встретили дома у его родителей. Было хорошо, по-семейному, много подарков замечательных получила, но как ни странно настроение было какое-то неновогоднее. Это не значит, что оно было плохим или грустным — напротив, очень даже замечательным, но не праздничым. Может, старею, может, дело в отстутсвии снега, а может просто год на год не приходится? Continue Reading
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Time: 16:55   Comments: 10 Comments   Post a Comment  
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Aby Kitten

Big Brown — the most likely dad of our kitten. He's 12 weeks old here. Photo belongs to Molly of Tigerflower.I’ve always considered myself a dog person. Cats, even though I must admit some of them are very cute, never touched my soul in quite the same manner. I think that my mindset is about to change…

About a week ago Danya casually said — wouldn’t it be nice if we had little, funny and fuzzy kitten living with us? And I thought that indeed it would! For some reason this thought wasn’t particularly appealing to me before, but somehow Danya’s suggestion hit the right spot — and so our search began. Continue Reading
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Lens

Sigma Zoom Telephoto 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM lens.A friend recently asked me my opinion on Sigma telephoto lens that I happen to own. The truth is that I use it quite rarely simply because of it’s sheer size and weight — I simply can’t haul it with me everywhere I wish. As a result whenever we travel I chose to carry some of the smaller optics that I own and this telephoto lens spends most of its time at home.

Mini-review of the lens and a teleconverter that I bought for it follows:
  • Sigma Zoom Telephoto 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO HSM
  • Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter

The lens has a constant aperture of f/2.8. With 2x teleconverter attached it loses 2 stops of light, but gains double the zoom.

Below is a series of shots taken out of my window. Camera must be mounted on a sturdy tripod and I prefer to use a remote to trigger the shutter if one hopes to achieve any kind of sharpness. Images have been slightly altered in Photoshop, but should provide a good idea of the quality that can be obtained with this optical combo.

Shot taken at 70mm, f/8 with lens attached to Nikon D70 camera.Shot taken at 70mm, f/8 with lens attached to Nikon D70 camera.

Shot taken at 200mm, f/8 with lens attached to Nikon D70 camera.Same setup as above at 200mm, f/8.

Shot taken at 400mm, f/8 with lens and teleconverter attached to Nikon D70 camera.Lens and teleconverter on Nikon D70 at 400mm, f/8.
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Friday, January 16, 2009

Photo Post-Processing

Photoshop postprocessing of an old shot of Grand Canyon from our 2005 trip.Stumbled upon a couple of really old shots of mine (way back from 2005) that show a dramatic difference between the image that came out from the camera and the final version.

Original shot, fresh out of camera. Grand Canyon.Granted the final image is not all that stellar, yet the difference is striking. And then again, it’s not often that 2 shots differ so much, but it shows what a little tweaking in Photoshop can do. Adjust the levels, increase the contrast, some sharpening. There’s nothing more to it.
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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pasta E Fagioli Soup

Pasta E Fagioli soup.Пару недель назад мы с Даней возили наш автомобиль на первую официальную инспекцию (хотя масло меняли уже один раз). Когда машинка откатывает 6,000 миль это обязательно надо сделать — хотя бы для того, чтобы сохранить заводскую гарантию.

Там, маясь от скуки, я пролистала какой-то журнал (не помню точно какой) и увидела симпатичный рецептик супа. Данька запечатлел рецепт своим iPhone, и во вторник я суп сварила. Признаться честно, сварила в данном случае звучит несколько громко, потому что суп наполовину состоит из полуфабрикатов. ) Ну да и ладно. Ели мы его 3 дня — и лично я все три из них с удовольствием. Continue Reading
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

First Cycling

Today can be considered as our first cycling run. The first actual one was about 2 weeks ago, but we didn’t get far as we were more getting a feel for the bikes than anything else.

Us in our cycling gear.Today we actually proceeded to follow ocean side bicycle path all the way to Floyd Bennett Field from our home. If iPhone’s RunKeeper is to be trusted it’s about 7 miles. The whole trip took us and hour and 20 minutes or so. We were taking it rather slow and we probably suck by any real cycling specifications. )

I have to say that the bike that Brian has landed to me and the one we bought for Alena is like day and night. Brian’s bike is easy to get up to speed and maintain speed. Gear switching is also effortless. None of this is true about the other one. We switched several times though, so each one of us got to ride a good bike.

The weather is cold, but once it gets warmer we hope to do this more often. We also need to try to get Alena a better bike.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cycling — Day 2

Today the temperature was below freezing, but we couldn’t resist it and went cycling again. This time Alex went along with us on a mountain bike that my dad brought over from College of Staten Island.

This time around we went along the bicycle lane on Bedford Avenue and Ocean Parkway. I have to say that Bedford ride was very pleasing, but Ocean Parkway forced us to stop on every single light and wait for green. Very annoying. And to get to one or the other we had to ride on the string along with cars which wasn’t much fun either.

Also today I wore the shoes with clips for the first time and had 3 falls one of which was quite scary. First one I just stopped, thinking I need to unclip only one foot. Big mistake. I fell over as soon as I stopped. Second time was much worse. We had a minor collision with Alena and ended up being pushed over right on the right lane of Ocean Parkway with a fast moving traffic. I barely stopped myself from flying out on the edge of the sidewalk and quickly pulled my bike in. Several cars had stopped right in front of me.

Other than that we also met up with Misha on the way. So overall it was fun. I’m not sure that I’ll wear clip shoes again. Our total distance was 11.5 miles and we spent 2 and a half hours.
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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Specialized Sequoia

Specialized Sequoia road bike.Our cycling adventure continues. It became clear that the first bike we bought for Alena needed to be replaced. We wanted something in the similar class of what Brian landed me.

Brian gave me a few pointers in respect to what to look for — Shimano componens, preferable 105 or higher. Aluminum frame, carbon fiber fork. The frame should be around 56cm — which pretty much excludes all feminine bikes.

Specialized logo.I ended up doing a lot of reading and researching. First we started looking for used bikes on eBay and Craigslist — nothing decent was showing up. Then I decided to get a no-name bike from an online source. After that I thought that we’d rather pay more money for a bike from a company that stands behind their product. And the smartest decision of all was to actually avoid buying online and just got to a local shop.

Specialized Sequoia.And exactly that we did yesterday after work. We happen to be lucky to have a cycling store 5 minutes away from us with a great reputation which people come to visit from all parts of NYC. And after our experience there we know why.

Shimano Tiagra rear derailleur.After my research online I decided that Cannondale CAAD9 5 would be our choice. A lot of great reviews, even though it was a bit more than we wanted to spend originally. The local store of ours also quoted us the lowest price out of all the stores I called in the area — $1225.

When we got to the store though the store owner suggested a different brand — Specialized. The reason was that we needed to get a rather large frame for Alena’s legs, but that would make the reach (distance to the handle bars) too big. This particular frame actually had a shorter top tube length.

Shimano Sora brake and shift levers.He spent over an hour with us showing us different models and letting Alena try them. The one he recommended was very comfortable for her. After that he took a bunch of measurements on some special machine to make sure it’d be just right for our pickup the day after.

The only thing that I wasn’t sure about was the components. They were still Shimano parts, but not 105, but a step or 2 lower that that — Tiagra and Sora. They also did have the same exact frame with 105 components, but it was over $300 more and the owner was pretty damn sure that I don’t need to spend that money. He said that it was my decision, but he was sure that the cheaper version was perfect for Alena and there was absolutely no reason for us spend more money.

Rear wheel.We were convinced — Specialized Sequoia is what we went with. It cost us $769.

Today we came back and he had the bike ready, fitted for Alena. He took it outside and made Alena ride it 6 or 7 times back and forth making small adjustments, making sure it was perfect. Even if we could find this bike cheaper somewhere online the service that was provided to us was just invaluable. I can’t remember having such a satisfying experience buying anything.

Specialized logo.We bought a couple of other accessories — helmets, some padded shorts, bells and went out for a ride on the bicycle path near Belt Pkwy. We had an awesome time. Lots of fun and enjoyment, even though the weather was horribly cold.

If it wouldn’t be for our first cheap bike buy and Brian landing me a great bike — we would never have a clue how much a good bike means. I’m very thankful for all the help Brian has provided.
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