New York City Visit and Photos

I finally caught up on all the photos I took while visiting New York City last week. Here’s the main batch with the usual assortment of street art, buildings and urban scenes. I also put together a small set of New York City standpipes in the tradition of my ongoing obsession with utility fixtures.

Green and Red Standpipes

And here’s another whole set of photos from my pocket camera (also the only wideangle I had with me), which includes more snapshots around the city.

The highlight of the trip was also the main reason I was there, the NYU Medical School graduation. It’s still hard to believe that my sister is now a doctor! The graduation ceremony itself was quite good, with some inspiring speeches, and the celebration afterward continued late into the night with a lot of happy new M.Ds.

And with any trip to New York, there was plenty of delicious and varied food (and drink) every day. I also made it to the Whitney Museum to catch the Whitney Biennial on a rainy afternoon. The amount of new art packed into the space was overwhelming, especially for someone like me who enjoys reading the full descriptions of nearly every piece (with contemporary art it’s almost a requirement in order to understand what’s going on). There was also a collection of early Maplethorpe polaroids. It was fun seeing a new photographer’s experiments in the instant-photo medium of the day, much like we all play with digital these days.

Until my next visit, thanks for the continued good times, New York!

WordPress: Updatin’ the bloggin’

Yeah, it’s been a few months since I’ve posted much here. Work and life have a tendency to catch up with you. No more boring exposition here, just trying to pick up the pace again…

As a kickstart, I updated WordPress to the fancy new version 2.5. The admin interface is much better on the eyes and the controls are familiar enough that I can’t figure out if something is different, or I just haven’t been using this as much. The upgrade process was as easy as it ever was, just copying in the new files and hitting the upgrade page. I did a database switch at the same time, since my host had a new server available and was recommending it. That was easier than expected and felt like a glimpse back at the stuff I used to know better.

And then there’s WordPress and comment spam… I’ve still never found or trusted the right system for this. I went for the praised Spam Karma way back when, but had trouble configuring it and found that it wasn’t deleting comment spam, but just flagging it in the database and keeping it off the site. I may not have dug enough to find the right answer, but gave up and went back to moderation by default.

Now, WordPress 2.5 has Akismet by default which seems like a blessing. Somewhere between trying to clean out my latest batch of comment spam in the newly designed WordPress menus, and trying out the new Akismet features, I inadvertently deleted a couple new comments that I intended to have stick around. Controls and workflow for flagging and deleting comment spam was just different enough from what I’d been used to that I probably missed a step. Anyways, apologies to my recent commenters.

I think the best spam solution really is a simple captcha or “type: I am human” validation. Low barrier for the end user, low maintenance for the admin. I’ll try that next.

Out with the old, in with the new

The White Pages By now it isn’t really news to most of you that read this, but I decided that it’s time to move on from Last Friday was my official last day. It was a great 3 year (and 2 month) run, and I learned a ton. I held three different positions, under 4 or 5 different bosses, and sat in no less than 9 different desks. I made a lot of great friends over the years who I know I’ll keep in touch with, and I really enjoyed working with all the people there. It was hard to say goodbye. I think there are great things in store for the company in the coming years, and they (we) really finished off 2007 with a bang. There’s no one reason why I decided to leave, it had just become clear that it was time for a change.

What’s next, you ask? Oh, you didn’t ask. Jerk. Well, I’ll tell you anyway…

A great opportunity came knocking at my door (thanks Jeff!), and just after the New Year I’ll be starting at Getty Images as a Program Manager. I’m excited by the things that Getty is doing (plus the photography thing fits nicely), and the PM role sounded like a little bit of everything, which I enjoy. So far the people I’ve met have lived up to (and exceeded) my high expectations, and I hope it continues. I certainly have the typical new job jitters, anxiety, and worries, but most of all I’m excited for what the new year has in store.

The Wheels on the Blog Go Round and Round

Or maybe, “The Blog in the Sky Keeps on Turnin”?

Anyway, as usual I haven’t been posting too often, but my archive of old posts still get visitors from all over the place. Most of those visitors arrive here by some interesting search keywords.

Some time in the past couple months I moved to the #1 spot in Google for “bowling team names” and I’ve seen a pretty good spike in visitors via that phrase. I still have the occasional visitor add another creative name to the list.

Pulling from the past few months of logs, some of the more obscure search strings that have brought people across this site are…

dogs and cats photos play times photos – Let me direct you to Cute Overload
hand of god nailed to cross
unique facts about me – Who types this into Google? What are you expecting it to tell you? (fair enough, there’s a blog meme along these lines)
will ____ attend – This made me laugh. I also got a bunch of wedding invitation RSVP-related strings. I guess plenty of people are confused by those little cards.
beardtrimmingpictures – alloneword
chris taylor seattle photo – Going by a different name makes this a tricky one, especially with all the other Chris Taylor’s out there.
fuck halo 3 – One of many “fuck ___” strings. People are so angry.
give me pictures of jesus getting crucified – And I’ll give you a Roman soldier with a cameraphone.
i dreamt of an ailing dog – Thanks for sharing.
if irony – Go to sarcasm
airline life vests in movies
1024 x 768 heard – Heard that 800 x 600 ain’t hangin’ around no more.
bermuda ______ come on pretty mama! – Bahama.
civil liberties and intelius – Let me introduce you to Naveen Jain.
do neo nazis have pretty girlfriends – Beauty is only skinhead deep.
email coming from california shows up in my inbox 1 hour late – 1 hour later than what? Email in my inbox shows up precisely when it does.
new england during winter – It isn’t always pleasant, but sometimes I miss it.
new paintball players per year graph – Corresponds to the birth rate of red states?
turkey wishbone origination – Evolution.
drunk tech support – An SNL skit waiting to happen.
guinness record for not blinking your eyes – I couldn’t find it. Let me know if you do.

That’s all for now. Until next time.

High School Reunions are Weird

A little late on the posting here, but a couple weekends ago I flew back to Connecticut to attend my 10-year high school reunion in a whirlwind of a trip. It was the shortest trip back East I’ve done (flew out Friday, flew back Sunday), and I don’t think I want to do it again any time soon. With everything else going on during those two days, it was just exhausting.

A lot of people asked me why I was bothering to go back to the reunion, and honestly, I kind of liked highschool and a lot of the people I went to school with. I knew I’d have regrets if I missed it, so I decided to go for it. The weekend consisted of an informal gathering at the (only) local bar on Friday night, a tour of the highschool Saturday morning, and then the reunion party/cocktails/gathering on Saturday night.

I’ve heard that the 10-year reunion is supposed to be the most fun, but also mostly about bragging and showing off. I did get a sense of this from a lot of people and probably did a good bit of it myself. But equally so, I heard a lot of people almost discontent with their jobs or where they’re at, and not spending much time blabbing about it. Overall, it seemed like everyone was genuinely (surprisingly) interested in just chatting and hanging out with each other.

There was plenty of standard reunion gossip too. Who got fatter, who got skinnier, who looked exactly the same, married, kids, and so on… There were only a couple people that I had a really hard time recognizing. I think somewhere around 80 people showed up out of our class of about 150.

Long story short, I had a great time. My only complaint was that the reunion itself was a little too short. Trying to catch up with so many people within the 3 hour time block was impossible. A lot of people stuck around for an extra hour afterwards, or went to various after-parties, but a little more variety to the reunion event itself might have been nice. And c’mon, no cheesy DJ playing our old high school favorites?

Internationally Published Photographer? Dubai?

About a month ago I got a message on Flickr from a Japanese publishing company, CONEX Asia Network, requesting to use a photo of mine in a business magazine of theirs. Even more surprising was that they wanted to use it for Dubai Business Today which, “focuses on informing Japanese businessmen the various aspects of Dubai and the United Arab of Emirates in general.” The photo they asked about was this shot I took of the Las Vegas construction. Apparently, Dubai World is investing in the new MGM Mirage City Center project. I agreed to the request and asked for a credit on the photo, as well as a copy of the magazine, if possible. I didn’t expect to hear another word.

Lo and behold, yesterday in my mail was a large envelope from Japan, via airmail from Hong Kong. Inside was a copy of the October issue of Dubai Business Today, entirely in Japanese. And sure enough, in the middle of the magazine, as part of an inset article was my photo and name. It’s too bad that the caption and credit take up a lot of space at the bottom of the photo, but it’s still pretty cool (click the thumbnail at right for a larger view of the article). Does anyone read Japanese and want to tell me what it all says? So far, I’ve figured out the parts that are “MGM”.

I guess now I can officially call myself an “Internationally Published Photographer” or something. What a strange small world where I can visit Vegas for the first time… post a photo on the internet… and 6 months later it’s stumbled-upon and then published in a Japanese magazine about Dubai.

Allow me to introduce you to Coffee Milk

Having gone to school in Rhode Island, I was exposed to the somewhat odd beverage of Coffee milk. Exactly as Wikipedia describes, it is a syrup-flavored milk similar in consistency to chocolate or strawberry milk. I knew it originated in Rhode Island and was common there, but didn’t realize it was so popular to be dubbed, “The official state drink of Rhode Island”.1

In my college cafeteria next to the regular, skim, and chocolate milk dispensers, they also had one for coffee milk. I tried drinking it for a while but it was too sickly sweet for my taste (which is funny, because that’s exactly how I like my coffee). I’ve asked many friends and coworkers from all different parts of the country if they’d ever heard of coffee milk and not a single one had.

It’s common to find highly regional foods and drinks all over the place, but coffee milk strikes me as particularly odd. Why did it never catch on like other flavored milk? It combines three things that almost everyone in this country loves: coffee + milk + sugar. I guess the closest we’ve gotten are the other coffee-syrup-based drinks you now find in Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, like the coolatta or frappuccino. I guess the rest of the country needs a fancily-marketed, masquerading-as-real-coffee beverage instead of a plain ‘ol ice cold coffee milk.

1I didn’t even realize that states had official drinks until now. Rhode Island is one of only a handful of states that doesn’t have plain milk as their state drink. Here’s a list of all U.S. state beverages. The only alcoholic beverages represented are (not surprisingly): wine in California, beer in Wisconsin, and Conecuh Ridge Whiskey (moonshine) in Alabama. Though I would have expected bourbon out of Kentucky. Slackers.

3 Years of Flickr and 1000 Photos

Sunset in Jordan, first photo posted to Flickr Somewhere in the midst of uploading bunches of photos from my New York trip, I surpassed 1000 uploaded photos on Flickr. This really isn’t a lot considering I’ve got tens of thousands more that I’ve taken, and many Flickr accounts have a few thousand photos here and there. From the start, I decided to be a little more selective with what I shared (everything is public by default, afterall), and see what else was out there. Just over 1000 photos now, 3 years later, equates to about 1 photo every day. They came in fits and starts, but if I can keep that up for another 3 or 10 years, I’ll be happy.

When I first started using Flickr in 2004, I was immediately hooked by many aspects of the site, but by far the most exciting for me wasn’t their fancy Flash (remember it used to be Flash back then?) Organizer, it was the idea of “community involvement by default” (public photos). This seemed scary at first (not to mention different from most other photo sharing sites at the time), but was completely engaging and kept me coming back. People were commenting, adding favorites, inviting to groups and generally connecting over each other’s photos. I immediately wanted to come back and post more to see what else I might discover.

And now for a little more trivia…

A good mix of vacation

This week I got back from an 11 day vacation out of Seattle, back home to CT for a while and then down to New York City. Each part of the trip complimented the other perfectly, from the quiet rural setting of the old homestead to the hustle and bustle of the city. I enjoyed catching up with friends and family, and also the natural photo ops all around the old backyard.

New York Skyline

I’d been to New York a number of times before and had seen many of the big sights, so a goal this time was to get off the beaten path a bit more. I lucked out having some good friends in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, where I stayed for a few of the nights, which was just the right pace. Given that it’s a pretty young and hip neighborhood, there were plenty of great options for food, bars, shops, galleries, and street art all over the place. I of course took many photos of the whole trip, and I’m still posting more.

Some of the other highlights…

Duluth Take Two

This year saw another wedding in Duluth, Minnesota. This time it was the youngest of my Duluth cousins getting married. It was a great trip again, great ceremony and reception, and I enjoyed catching up with family and cousins. Relaxing away from work for a few days is always nice too. This year we also took an afternoon trip out of town up the Lake Superior shore to Gooseberry Falls, and some rocky beaches. The weather and scenery were all excellent. Although we didn’t fit in a stop at Tom’s Logging Camp.

I’m still catching up on all my photos from the trip (250+) and will be posting many more soon.

Duluth at Night