Learning Lytro – Light Field Camera Review

November 13, 2012 By: erik Category: Experiments, Photography, Photos, Reviews 142 views

LytroI had never heard of a “light field” camera until I began hearing marketing buzz about the Lytro camera last year. To be perfectly honest, I still don’t really understand how the technology works. I have a pretty good layman’s grasp of how normal lens optics work to focus an image onto film or a CCD sensor, and how and why focusing at a certain depth works, but the “light field” camera concept still seems a bit like magic. They say that it captures not only the intensity and color of the light hitting each sensor pixel, but the direction of said photon as well. Huh? And somehow this magically allows the focal length (what depth in the image is in focus) to be modified after the moment has been captured, just like they do in Hollywood movies and television where a detective tells a lab geek to “enhance this area of the photograph here” and they can now magically read the perp’s license plate. Like I said, it still seems a bit like magic, but it really, really works.
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Autumn Recipe: Pumpkin Almond Risotto

November 06, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Recipes 194 views

Pumpkin Almond RisottoMy wife and I have been slowly expanding our culinary abilities this year via online recipes, trying about a dozen new recipes this past year. I’m pretty sure my favorite is this pumpkin almond risotto that she made once, and I have repeated twice. It is absolutely delicious and dead simple to make, although it does require some attention and stirring just before serving.
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Turtle Sitting: Tomasa Came Home

November 06, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Photos, Spain 120 views

Nora and Tortuga TomasaAs you may recall, Nora’s preschool class mascot is a big turtle, named Tortuga Tomasa. After some foul play incidents a decade ago, the mascot is now a stuffed turtle, and not a real reptile. We were told that every weekend throughout the year, the Tomasa would travel home with one kid in the class to be cared for at home. However, since there are so many children in Nora’s class, the policy was amended to have a child take the stuffed reptile home every single day to maximize participation. I was hoping we’d get lucky and have Tomasa for a weekend, but we got even luckier. Nora brought her home on a Tuesday, the children went on a field trip to a local zoo on the Wednesday (so Tomasa had to stay home), the Thursday was All Saints Day (no school), and then they had Friday off as a bridge day, so Tomasa stayed at our house for five days!
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Teaching Spanish Kids About Halloween

November 02, 2012 By: erik Category: Colindres, Offspring, Parenting, Partying, Photos, Spain, USA 329 views

Halloween At Fray Pablo - 199For Halloween this year, I offered to give a pumpkin carving demonstration to my daughter’s three-year-old preschool class. The teacher was enthusiastic and coordinated with the English teacher, who was already doing some Halloween-themed vocabulary, for a date and time for the presentation. All I could get were some small pumpkins from my local grocer friend who frequents farmers markets. The only way to get a real lantern-worthy gourd is to know a farmer directly, which I do not. My daughter’s teacher, however, told me that she was going to her hometown for the weekend before Halloween, and she knew some farmers that grew big pumpkins, and she’d see what she could find. It was a success! She found two gorgeous beach-ball-sized gourds for me to carve.
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State of the Offspring Address – October 2012

October 31, 2012 By: erik Category: News, Offspring, Parenting, Photos 158 views

Smiling NoraWe had a major breakthrough in potty training this month. Several months ago we prematurely tried to have Nora not wear diapers at night, but the result was a full week of having to get up sometimes more than once during the night to change sheets. After ten nights or so, we called it quits and went back to the peace and tranquility of wearing a diaper at night. Lately the diapers have almost always been dry, and I considered suggesting we try it again, but we came up with a plan. As a computer nerd, I like algorithmic rules, so we decided that “Until she gets up by herself at night to go pee, we’ll continue to use diapers. When she is capable of getting up to go to the bathroom at night, we’ll try without diapers again.”
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Halloween 2012 – Pumpkin Carving with Carmen

October 28, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Partying, Photos, USA 322 views

Jack-o-LanternTonight we did our annual October tradition of pumpkin carving. Unfortunately, the pumpkins we were able to get this year were pretty sad. The shape was okay, but they were small with incredibly thick walls. So small, that the face I carved had to have its features so close together that we had a bit of an accident in which the eye hole broke through to the nose hole. Mistakes happen even to the worst of us pumpkin carvers.
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Parenting Tip: How to talk to a three year old about the future: Make a calendar!

October 26, 2012 By: erik Category: Offspring, Parenting, Photos 122 views

Making a CalendarWe have this trip coming up in a few weeks to the United States to visit my folks, and my three year old daughter, Nora, is very excited about seeing Grandma and Grandpa. Lately, her video conferencing hours have skyrocketed. She speaks to and sees her Grandma and Grandpa nearly every day lately to fill the second hour of her two hour lunch break from school, and often until phone battery death on the weekends. Ironically, despite the ocean between them, I don’t think they’ve ever been closer.
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10 Questions For Pro-Choice People

October 26, 2012 By: erik Category: Musings, Politics, Religion 301 views

Cutout QuestionOne of my religious conservative friends on Facebook linked to a blog post entitled 10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media. There’s a bit of redundancy, but overall, they are pretty good questions. Abortion is a very slippery topic, and, although it often detracts from arguably more important issues in politics, I think it’s a very good litmus test for how advanced a society has become, in much the same way capital punishment or gay marriage is. Personally, I quite enjoy being asked probing questions of my morality and world view because it forces me define it better and better understand my underlying philosophy and its arguments. So I thought I would have a go at these ten questions.
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McDonalds in Spain

October 25, 2012 By: erik Category: Food, Photos, Reviews, Spain, Travel, USA 3,683 views

McRoyale DeluxeI was weak once. On my first ever trip abroad to Scotland as an early teen, when given a day to myself to wander about and choose my schedule, I ate lunch at a Burger King. And later, as a 20-year-old, having moved abroad for the first time, it didn’t take me long to visit the McDonalds in the center of Copenhagen. When in Budapest, someone talked me into entering what was described to me beforehand as “the most beautiful McDonalds in the world”, and, while I can’t speak for the entire world, I must agree that it is quite pretty. Each time, my justification was curiosity about how my American culture had been translated to another culture, but I’d be lying if part of it wasn’t the comfort of familiar food that makes these chains so successful.
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Parenting Tip: How to manipulate a three year old

October 24, 2012 By: erik Category: Musings, Offspring, Parenting 173 views

Uninterested NoraLately I’ve been reading some books on parenting, and the paradigm that best jives with my morals and ideals originated from a psychologist named Thomas Gordon, who became an expert in relationship conflict resolution, valuing negotiation and collaboration over the use of power. I had not heard of him until recently, but he was thrice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, so he’s not a complete kook. It makes sense that losing an argument because the other person played the power card would breed resentment and poison the relationship. I’ve had some success with talking through conflicts with my child, but sometimes when you’re parenting, you don’t have thirty minutes to work through the peace process and converge upon a solution of compromise for every item of clothing your kid refuses to put on in the morning before school. I have found a few shortcuts that I’d like to share with you.
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