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Improved Post Processing Tools


For Christmas I got some new post processing tools. The main addition is a Mac Pro that has really been a pleasure to use. The applications are really, really fast and the internal SATA drives as well as the external eSATA drives are about ten times faster than the Drobo FW800 I was using previously (the Drobo seems to have about half the throughput of other FW800 drives). Other additions to the post processing tools include adding Nik Software Complete Collection and upgrading to Final Cut Studio 3. Go to my Post Processing page to see the complete current list. I have the Mac Pro configured as follows:

  • Quad-core Intel Xeon "Nehalem" processor, 2.66 GHz—I spent the money on the RAM rather than the clock speed
  • 16 GB 1066 MHz DDR3 ECC SDRAM—this really makes the apps snappy
  • 160GB Intel X25-M Solid State boot drive (internal)—boot up is fast but, more importantly, apps start fast and the boot drive stays separate from the RAID-configured Data drives. I keep a clone of the boot drive as back-up
  • Four 2TB 3Gb/s internal drives in RAID 0+1 configuration—I get 4TB of usable space, striped for speed, mirrored for reliability
  • Two NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 each with 512MB memory—each of the 30-inch monitors is connected to one of these
  • 4-port eSATA card for connecting external backup drives—right now this is to connect the eSATA back-up drive, but could also be used for storage when I exceed the 4TB space I have now. Not all cards provide drivers that run in Snow Leopard 64-bit kernel
  • Mac OSX Snow Leopard running in 64-bit mode
  • Two 30-inch Apple Cinema Displays—I had one, and I got a second one
  • Two UPS power supplies—one for the Mac Pro and one for the monitors and peripherals
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San Francisco Photographs


I have added some photographs of San Francisco here. These photographs were taken during three separate trips to San Francisco in 2007.
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Unity loves riding


Unity has finally found an extracurricular activity that she loves. Twice a week she eagerly looks forward to going to her horseback riding lessons. Last week she participated in the “egg and spoon race” where you have to balance a tennis ball on the spoon while riding. If the ball falls of the spoon, you need to get off the horse, pick up the ball, get back on your horse and continue riding. The first person to reach the end and drop the ball and the spoon into the barrel wins the race. Unity won third place which was quite impressive since most of the other kids participating were older than her.
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Ethan turns two


Thanksgiving day was also my nephew Ethan's birthday. He turned two, here pictured with his grandmother, Donna.
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Thanksgiving


For this year’s thanksgiving I decided to make a nine course dinner including a turkey main course. There were eighteen people—twelve adults and six children. One guest was vegetarian, so I also made some vegetarian alternatives for some of the courses. You can view the photographs from the dinner here. There were some new items in the menu that I was making for the first time, including the carrot sorbet with pea soup as the starter and the pan fried haddock topped with roasted foie gras. Here is the complete menu: Read More...
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Visiting London


In my recent visit to London, I was busy with work related activities for most of the week. On the last day of the trip I made time to have dinner with some old friends. On the left in the picture is Ellen. She recently moved to London from New York and Atlanta. In the center is Katia. She and I went to college together, so I have known her for about 22 years. She lives with Marko and their daughter Nora in Croatia. They were visiting London the same time I was there. Ellen and Katia know each other from high school. This picture was taken at a restaurant by Marko.
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Hudson Valley


After Richard's wedding we all drove up to Hudson Valley to spend a few days at a lake house. It was Janice's mother's 70th birthday the following week, so we all wanted to get together for a family vacation and celebrate the occasion. We went apple picking one day at the apple orchard in a nearby farm; took the children to the children's museum; visited an old 17th century farm and grain mill by the Hudson River; visited the Rockefellar house which is now converted to a museum; visited the Culinary Institute; and the rest of the time we had some good food and relaxed at the lake house. You can see the photos here.
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Richard and Tamara get married


Richard and Tamara got married on Saturday, September 26, 2009. We arrived in NYC on Friday. There was a dinner hosted by Tamara's uncle Friday evening where each side of the family got to meet the other side. It was great to finally meet Tamara's parents and sister — I had heard great things about her family — and her uncles, aunts and cousins. We mingled on the roofdeck with drinks and snacks before going down to the apartment for dinner. For the wedding ceremony on Saturday, they had picked a really beautiful location at Cherry Hill in Central Park, Manhattan. The weather was just right for the stunning outdoor ceremony. The wedding reception afterwards was at HanGawi, the Buddhist Korean restaurant. The six course vegetarian gastrnomic experience was absolutely delectable. Click here to see the photos.
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Self Portrait


Here is a self portrait taken earlier this week. My digital SLR camera is not capable of taking this picture—it required a very special camera that has no lens (works like a scanner) but has its own very special light source! The sensor size was 18-inches by 24-inches compared to the 1.4-inch full frame sensor in my DSLR. You can see the left hip prosthesis in white since the metal is completely opaque to the special light.
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My latest gadget—a new hip


The balls of my hip joint (femoral heads) were damaged when I was treated with prednisone (a steroid drug) to reduce the inflammation in my lungs during a severe episode of pneumonia over three years ago. This is a known side effect of steroids in less than 1% of the population. Interestingly, however, I have found that this side effect is well known among only orthopedic doctors—every non-orthopedic doctor I have talked to have no idea of this phenomenon. The steroid combines with fat globules in the blood and deposits itself in the tiny capillaries of the bone and deprives the bone of oxygen. During the last few months the symptoms on the left hip became so severe that I not only had trouble biking and swimming, but I also could not walk without pain. I started using a cane but knew that surgical intervention is necessary. After much research and seeing 7 doctors in 4 cities (Houston, Atlanta, New York and Baltimore), Janice and I decided that a hip resurfacing is the way to go rather than a total hip replacement. Above is an artist's rendition video of hip resurfacing.
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Wesley's birthday



Here is a short video clip from Wesley's birthday on May 28, 2009. He turned 4.
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The Industrial New York


On a recent trip to New York, I came across this interesting view of a Con Edison power plant next to Queensboro Bridge. You can see a sliver of Roosevelt Island in the Hudson River and the skyline of NYC in the background. The cloudy day provided for good lighting. This panorama is made of 36 individual photos stitched together. The photos were taken with a 24 mm lens on a Nikon D700. Unfortunately the tiny version here does not have the same visual impact as the original panorama which is 11160 × 2525 pixels.
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Spring Break

Today is the last day of Spring Break. I was able to take a few days off and spend some recreation time with the family. Monday evening I went to the Rodeo in Houston—you can view the photos here. Then we spent a few days at a lake house in the Hill Country near Austin, TX. When we arrived in Austin, we had lunch at Eastside Café. The food was excellent. They grow some of their own vegetables and herbs in the large garden on the properties behind the restaurant. After lunch we lounged in the garden before heading to the lake house.

The weather was the most ideal, mid-70's to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with a nice breeze and the sun not too strong, dropping to around 60 degrees at night. The view of the lake from the lake house was quite serene and relaxing. The kids ran around and played on the deck and the back yard in the afternoon before dinner.

We enjoyed breakfast on the deck above the boat house the next morning and spent the afternoon at the Llana River. The kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the shallow waters. Then in the evening we dined at the famous Lambert's Barbecue and took a leisurely stroll through Austin before heading back to the lake house. You can see the photos of the trip
here.
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Shopping in Texas


How do you know you are shopping in Texas? Texas is a 'right to carry firearms' state.
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Why RAW?



How do you end up with the photograph on the right starting with the photograph on the left?
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Teamwork

Last night when Janice was preparing Wesley's bed Wesley wanted to help. Janice gave him some tasks to do like straightening the sheets. While Wesley helped, Janice explained to him the concept of teamwork. The minds of 3-year-olds are like sponges—they soak everything up. But in this case the concepts of preparing a bed and teamwork may have been a bit confused. I suggested to Wesley that the pillows needed to be put in their place and Wesley proudly asked, "Dad, can I do the teamwork all by myself?"
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Brain Magic


Here is an interesting clip from TED on Brain Magic. The most fascinating part for me was the "second sight" where Keith Barry drives blindfolded while "seeing" through the eyes of the woman in the passenger seat. If anyone knows how this is possible or how it is done please let me know. The voodoo stuff was also quite interesting—curious to know how this is done as well. This video is just under 20 minutes long. Enjoy!
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Whole wheat pancakes


This morning I decided to make some whole wheat pancakes for the family. Here is the recipe which is very quick to make; you will need a flour mill to mill the wheat into flour. This recipe makes 10 very soft, fluffy and delicious, medium-sized pancakes. Read More...
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Weak and shit

Here is a serious but funny study of crack dealer organizations and culture by famed economist Steven Levitt and sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh of the University of Chicago. One of my favorite moments is when Sudhir was with the gang members in an abandoned housing project and discovers that the correct answer to the first question in his survey is "E" (not A, B, C or D)—you have to see the video for context. And my other favorite is the explanation by the gang leaders and the board of directors that they pay themselves more so that they don't appear "weak and shit." This video is about 21 minutes long; it is absolutely hilarious and very insightful.
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Visiting India 5

On the final day of my stay in India I left Bangalore in the morning, spent the afternoon in our office in Delhi and then had an early dinner with some of the team members. After dinner I headed to the IGI airport in Delhi to begin the 28 hour journey back home. During my flight I had time to edit the photos from Bangalore which you can view here. All the photos on this trip were taken with a 12-24mm wide angle DX lens—I now really appreciate the amazing image quality and sharpness of this lens.
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Visiting India 4


I was Bangalore for the first time this week. For dinner last night the team arranged for us to eat at a South Indian restaurant that specializes in food from Kerala. First, I have to say, what an incredible culinary experience, so exquisite, such a different level from any other South Indian food I have had (all previous South Indian culinary experience was physically not in South India since this was my first trip).

We started off with a round of appetizers and a Sauvignon Blanc (Sula) from India. Kerala, being a coastal state, is big on fish and sea food. We had giant, curried prawns and spicy, pan-fried pomfret among other things. The Kerala curry flavor is distinctly different from that of northern India.
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Visiting India 3


On Saturday we made a day trip from Delhi to Agra. There were five of us in a van leaving the hotel at the crack of dawn around 5:30AM and we met up with our guide for the day in Agra. The hotel provided us with breakfast to go and we stopped for coffee on the way. We spent the day at the magnificent Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort which was the original seat of the Mogul Empire before they moved to Delhi, and Emperor Akbar's tomb. Read More...
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Visiting India 2


We just returned from work at the end of the day. Here is a view of us walking into the outdoor 'lobby' of the hotel. We are getting together for dinner this evening in half hour at the Kebab Factory.
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Visiting India 1


I am traveling to India for a few days. I arrived last night India time and checked into the hotel. Here is a view from the outdoor 'hallway' of my hotel when I was walking from my room to the restaurant for breakfast this morning. I will be at work the next two days, then going on a trip to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra on Saturday, and finally spending Monday and Tuesday in Bangalore before returning back to Houston.
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Nailed!


Here is a hilarious story about someone trying to enter a photo contest.
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The Lenovo Ideapad S10 netbook


I recently had shoulder surgery and am currently going through physical therapy to regain the range of motion. Carrying an 8-lb laptop between home, office and client sites became a serious issue even before the surgery. Short business trips were worse carrying this behemoth. I got a back pack for the laptop but the backpack did not solve the real problem, it just distributed the problem (weight) over two shoulders to ease the burden. I knew I needed a very lightweight laptop that had enough computing power without breaking the bank. Did such a laptop exist? Read More...
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Unity's birthday



Here is a short video clip from Unity's birthday on February 7, 2009. She turned 8.
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Cats in the house


I found two cats in the house this morning. The first one likes to sit on the window of the master bathroom and read books by the natural light. This is also a good way to hide from Wesley. The other cat loves candy cane. Click through to see him on the dining table with his favorite candy. Read More...
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Audrey discovers the world


My niece Audrey discovered the globe in the play room after lunch. Photo taken during the Christmas holidays while Shahed and Kim were visiting us in Houston with the children. See more Christmas holiday photos here.
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