It was not all cod liver oil today

Now to work on turning

After his homework was completed, the boy finally rode his bike without training wheels.

Sunday his training wheels became bent so we took them off. You can see how it happened here. The culprit apologized but we had wanted to take them off anyway so it worked out.

He practiced for a while Monday but was not able to get going.  Today he and I went out, I ran next to him with my arms at his side and he took off.

He needs to work on his turns, but he is not afraid to fall and that got him going.  Like skating, he enjoys the idea of moving really fast and not getting into trouble.

Oh yeah, and next time he will wear his helmet.

Better than washing his mouth with soap

My son will turn 7 this year and like many first grade kids, he has learned some swear words. He also learned that he is NOT to say those words.

Today I met him when he got of the bus. I began with “We spoke to your teacher today” and he quickly replied “Yes I know. I’m sorry, I said a bad word.”

Now today we had a scheduled parent teacher meeting.  I had no idea he used a “bad word” and I was going to say that I was impressed with how well he is doing in school.  We started with the usual lecture about swearing and he pretty much gave us the brush off and made it clear it was no big deal.

Uh huh. I immediately drove to Pathmark, went straight to the pharmacist, and asked them for a bottle of cod liver oil.  This got an odd look and when I told them what it was for they said “Healthy and yet tastes awful”.  It’s a great source of vitamin A and D.

When I got home, my son was making it clear that he was not going to have any.  I took out the tablespoon and the teaspoon and explained “If I have to make you drink this, you are getting the big spoon.”

After some hysterics and me making it clear that he is not getting out of this, he took the teaspoon.  He rinsed out his mouth but trust me, he’ll be burping that taste for hours.  I should know, how do you think I came up with this idea?

Getting into photography

I’ve been playing around with the D60 and some digital editing.  Nothing much, just minor adjustments and cropping.

Walking to Penn Station

Since I’m doing such minor editing I don’t bother purchasing any photo applications like Adobe Photoshop Elements.  The freely available Paint.NET is more than enough for me so far and the more I look at it, the more impressed I get.

Per Stefan’s recommendation I’m shooting photos in RAW. I was using JPEG normal but even I noticed defects in images that I’m taking, so RAW seems to make sense for now.

In order to start using NEF files (Nikon RAW format) I have done the following:

  1. Install the Nikon NEF codec.  For my Vista 64 bit system I had installed this one.  The 64 bit one is beta, so check that web site often for updates. Installing the codec is for ease of use.  All it buys me is the ability to see a thumbnail in windows so I can find the file I really want to edit.
  2. Install this plugin for Paint.NET.  It lets me import RAW files.  I can’t save them in the same format but TIFF works out well for that.  When you install the plugin on a 64 bit system, make sure it installs in the correct directory.  For faster processing you can get optimized dcraw binaries here at the dcraw web site. Update: Per Benni’s comment, also see the Dave’s dcraw web page here.  Dave is the author of dcraw and has a good FAQ about the program and the portable source code.
  3. Install this plugin WordPress Media Flickr.  Okay, not for editing exactly but I use it to link images on Flickr into my blog posting. I had to make a change to my PHP5 installation but no big deal.  I can select my photos easily and if I wanted to I could search other peoples Flickr photos.

Now I can load up images and just work on then pretty easily.  I plan to check out Paint.NET’s forums and work on some goofy edits.

Memorial Day Weekend

More USS Kearsarge

This was one busy weekend.  Friday and Saturday was spent going and coming back from Strasburg, PA.  Sunday we had a family BBQ with friends over.

Today we went to the city and saw the USS Kearsarge.  It’s in port as part of fleet week in the city.  Lily took our son last year Friday before Memorial Day.  This year we had too much going on and had to go today.

Memorial Day is a busy holiday alright and it was a mad house.  All fun and cool, but the ship was packed with people.  You can see the photos I have uploaded to Flickr here.  We went with both kids and my brother Alek.  After I shot over 100 pictures, I lent the camera to Alek and together we shot almost 400 pictures.

The kids are in energizer bunny mode.  They napped on the ride back home and now they are ready to go again.  Me and Lily are just plain out.

Tomorrow is back to work.  After going to Strasburg and walking in the city, I plan to pick up a Lowepro 200 backpack.  Carrying the camera using the stock Nikon bag was a drag.  It’s not meant for walking around with.  A back pack means more comfort and less pain.

I mean, why spend the money on a DSLR kit if you are not going to carry it around and go nuts with it?

I got the Nikon D60

Old Trains from Strasburg, PA

Well that was not too difficult.  After doing some shoping we went to Costco and picked up the Nikon D60.

We went the next day to Strasburg, PA and I took about 300 pictures of the kids and the trains.  Got back today and used Paint.NET to touch up some of them before uploading them to Flickr.

Paint.NET rocks.  Once I got into a work flow, croping, rotating, and adjusting the colors became a breeze.  You can see what I’ve uploaded at my Flickr page.

To Digital SLR or not

I’m not a camera person.  I have a really good memory for events and like to talk to people. I can’t show people what I saw but the telling is very entertaining.

This really means I take lousy pictures, mostly because my hands shake. Using a small camera like our Canon SD400 always get a poor photo.

One of my brothers is a genuine camera enthusiast.  His current camera is a Nikon D80 and he looks longingly at the D300.  If he won the lottery he’d go nuts and get a D3 with a whole compliment of new lens, new flash, tripod, etc.  You can see Stefan’s work at his Flickr page, he really enjoys working with his camera.

Doing his civilian duty to boost the economy, Stefan has been successful at getting co-workers to purchase DSLRs.   One of our co-workers recently got a Nikon D60 and let me play with it.

It’s a remarkably comfortable camera.  The package came with two VR lens and just for goofs, I took some test pictures by zooming the 200mm lens out, standing in my most awkward pose and shot a photo of a sign.

The picture was very stable, no blurriness at all that I could complain about.  Playing with the aperture size, ISO, etc, got me different yet cool results.  I played with the 15-55mm lens as well; the D60 is targeted at people like me who are thinking of getting into semi-serious digital photography.  Since I’m not clever enough to just rest the camera, the VR lens are great.

The owner of the camera had shot over 900 picts in only a couple of days; I could easily see my self tormenting the family taking lots of pictures like that.

I had no idea what I was doing but it was pretty entertaining to me.  So now I am thinking about pricing out that D60 package.  We’re planning a couple of trips with the kids and being able to post decent shots would be a bonus.

More HG Gundams

When I can I like to work on my Gundam models.  It’s a hobby and it’s not computer related so that makes it a good thing.   Both my kids enjoy watching me assemble the models and as an added bonus I build some just for them.  They get to keep the models I make for them and they take good care of them.

They’re 5 and 6 years old. Sometimes they get out of control (like all kids do) but when it’s important to them they really are well behaved.

I’ve completed the HG Dynames from Gundam 00.  Not quite as good as the HG Exia but not bad either. Here is the picture.

HG 1/144 Dynames

Finishing the HG Dynames freed me to let my girl pick one from her pile.  She asked me to assemble the HG Gundam Astray Red Frame.  As I assembled it, she would look at the finished pieces.  She sat right next to me as I completed it and really admired it when it was finished.

It’s not often that I can get my girl to appreciate what I am doing. But when she and her brother do give me their undivided attention, it’s great.

HG Gundam Astray Red Frame

Since I completed the girls model, the boy wants me to start working on one for him.  He’s selected the 1/144 HG Strike Rouge + IWSP.  It’s bigger than the other 1/144 models so he might be asking for it as a competition for his sister.  He always asks for me to build him model that have large back packs.

A great weekend

I can’t ever forget Mother’s Day since my birthday falls right next to it. Remembering does not sound like much but it’s an accomplishment for me. I have been forgetting one of my best friend’s birthdays for 35 years.

In addition to enjoying my birthday, Lily and I had a great weekend with the kids.

Saturday was the kid’s last ice skating lesson from 11 till 11:30.  We stayed until 3 PM and both kids were exhausted. The girl likes skating, but the boy enjoys it much more.  This is one of the few things where he can go really fast and not get into trouble!

Sunday we took the kids to the Mets game.  To celebrate the holiday they gave Lily and the girl a pink baseball cap.  Naturally the boys had to buy their own and we ended up supporting the economy.

Mets game

Lily took the picture. The kids know how to smile, I don’t know why they made those faces…

Usually Lily and I go to evening games so we always leave right after the 7th inning.  This game started at 1 in the afternoon so we stayed till the end.  The kids had trouble following the action but they sure liked the cheering when the Mets hit two home runs.  The Mets won 8-3 and we headed back to Flushing to pick up the car and go home.

We have to take the kids to more ball games; we all had a great time.