Thursday, February 28, 2008

Macro Fun!

(This post was inspired by EmilyPie) Last night I decided to have a bit of fun with my camera and get real up-close and personal with the day-to-day items in my room. My camera doesn't actually have a macro lens, but the stock lens that came with the camera body when I bought it does a pretty decent job of pretending it's a macro.

Anyway, I had fun. I also discovered that my room is insanely dusty. I keep things very clean and wipe dust from my desk and computer and such daily. In fact, if any of you readers have explanations as to why my apartment might be so horribly dusty, or tips on how to make it less dusty (besides cleaning... that's obvious) I will gladly accept your counsel.

Okay... on to the good stuff:

There ya go! I'll try to take some in the sunlight soon so that I can close the aperture a little more and hopefully not get SO much depth of field. Don't get me wrong, I like depth of field, but it can be a little much at times.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ehm Arrr Aye

That's pirate speak for Magnetic Resonance Imaging - or, as we more commonly call it - the MRI. Most people are surprised when I tell them that pirates actually invented the MRI. That's why lying is sometimes fun. You can really surprise people.

To tell you the truth, pirates have as little to do with MRI's as they have to do with Ninjas. It's like apples and spaceships. The only similarity I can conjure at the moment (and this required a serious foray into the world of abstract, creative thought) was that the coffin-sized plastic slab you lay on to be rolled into the MRI machine somewhat resembled a plank you might have walked onto before being pushed into your big, blue, watery pirate grave.

Your typical MRI scanner... if you live on the USS Enterprise. I don't know what's up with all the perfect gloss and stuff, but mine looked a little more "present day."
An MRI is a journey unlike anything else I've ever experienced, first-hand, in the world of medicinal science. I wasn't entirely unprepared for the adventure, however. I had seen diagrams of the machines and the procedure in one of those random pamphlets you pick up while waiting for the doctor. Pamphlets like "A friendly guide to Colonoscopy" or "Lyme Disease: Bambi's Gift to You" and, of course "The Most Expensive Half Hour of your Life: A Guide to the MRI". From such pamphlets, I had learned that I'd be strapped onto a piece of machinery, comfortable only by hospital-grade standards, and carefully slid into a large electromagnetic cylinder. I figured I'd lie still in my temporary sarcophagus for 20 minutes or so, pondering the warning stickers on the side of the machine, and then get on with life. What I was entirely unprepared for, however, was the noise.

I want you, for a moment, to imagine yourself in the middle of the most grotesquely flamboyant space battle ever made in a 1970's era space movie. As you stand there, mid-battle, you can picture some nerd at his electronic sound board toying with his synthesizer settings, creating, to his trekkie delight, an endlessly imaginative array of cosmic sounds.

When the technician handed me not only ear plugs, but headphones to put on over those, I knew the procedure was going to be different from what I originally thought. I put the plugs in, and in a matter of moments I was abruptly immersed into the sound. It was bizarre, but at the same time strangely relaxing.

Yeah. Relaxing! Not too long after the initial cringing, I began to be lulled into a deep, meditative state of mind. If there is anything good to come of the bizarre noises created by the generation of enormous magnetic fields, it is that everything else occupying the mind is momentarily thrust out of sight to reveal, at the center of your head, a tidy little package - cleanly wrapped, and labeled "calm."

It was really nice. Unexpected, yes. But nice. I lay there while the machine screamed at me and found, in it's incessant ranting, a moment of peace. Maybe there is something to learn there - some grand life lesson. Maybe not. This I know, though: If you ever find yourself waiting, in your scrubs, for an MRI technician to take you into unfamiliar territory, you can do so with the assurance that in the commotion of the machine, there is an instant of stormless tranquility to be had.

And for that alone, it was worth it.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

My bed is not nice...

There's something inherently wrong with sleeping in a bed that is three inches shorter than you are. Last night I lay staring at the ceiling while the soft roar of the heating vent cleared my mind and allowed for some deep thinking. I was awake for a reason - it was one of those awful nights where you can't seem to find a comfortable position in bed.

I started pondering seriously about beds. What would my life be like if I had a better bed? Was my back being screwed up by the crappiness of the beds I've slept in for the past few years? What would my sleep number be if I bought one of those newfangled adjust-o-beds? Then, for no apparent reason, I started drawing an invisible faucet on the wall with my finger. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. In fact, I vividly remember thinking "What the hell am I drawing a faucet for?" I was really tired, and pretty mad, but my pondering on beds only grew deeper.

I remember walking into one apartment for the first time a few years back and seeing little spiders scurry around on my bed, into little webbed shelters they had built. I remember thinking "I can't sleep here. A) I'm not sleeping in a spider infested bed and B) Their little spidertropolis, while somewhat horrifying, is actually quite impressive. Such a lilliputian feat should not be destroyed." However, that night, in a fit of tired rage, I destroyed their little city. I slept in that bed. And I had many recurring nightmares of spiders crawling all over me.

On my mission I slept in a bed that wasn't built very well. The boards underneath the bed would give away in the middle of the night, creating a noise not unlike gunshots. Imagine falling out of your peaceful slumber to the sound of a large bang. You scream with fear and then your companion does the same, but since you were still asleep when you screamed, you only hear your companions scream and wonder if he was shot. Then you realize you're on the floor, and you wonder if you were shot. Then you just rebuild your bed. One more skill you learn on your mission.

The bed I slept in growing up (since age 13 at least) is large and spacious. It's perfect. On the rare occasion when I sleep at my parent's house, in my bed, I enjoy a night of perfect chiropractic harmony and the world, for one brief moment is set as straight as my spine. It just seems that nowadays, those moments don't come often enough. And with a bed now that does as much good for my back as a low-impact fender bender, I am left to dream of a better bed.

Good night?


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Winter Smoke

I took this picture while driving home the other day and I thought it turned out really nice, so I thought I'd post it here! Taking pictures while driving is somewhat dangerous and requires a level of situational awareness that most drivers lack - especially when using an SLR camera, as it requires much more effort than a normal point and shoot. However, taking pictures while driving is a lot of fun because you're never entirely sure of what you're going to capture. The landscape changes drastically from one second to the next when you're driving 75 miles per hour. I'll admit that a certain degree of luck went into the composition of these pictures; but in all fairness I did have the sense to see a good picture.

I've decided that I need to be posting more pictures on here. So... enjoy. :)

This picture was taken where some sort of industrial building spewed forth copious amounts of steam from it's enormous, ghostly stovepipes.

This is Mount Timpanogos and the accompanying peaks and valleys that run along with it on the Wasatch Front.

I took this one as the last rays of the sun warmed the tip of Lone Peak. I love the mountains here in Utah.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Cacao Reserve

Today I was walking in Macey's, on my break, as I usually do. See, at work they give us a few 15 minute breaks during the day - one at 10:00 and one at 3:00 - to make the good days better and the bad days bearable. I've always liked the breaks.

So, as it was, I happened to be passing a large candy display. It was on aisle 6, at the southeast end. There were rows of beautifully packaged bars. They looked so foreign... perhaps Columbian. By the way they looked, one might guess that their contents were something along the lines of a fine, rich tobacco. Only this was Macey's - the grocer for the common Mormon man. There would be no tobacco in these boxes.

So I stepped up for a closer look. It was chocolate. "Hmm." On sale. "Hmm." Two dollars and thirty-nine cents. "Wha?" This seemed like a lot of money for a chocolate bar, which immediately intrigued me. Just down the aisle they sold some chocolate, albeit with much less fancy packaging, for only thirty-three cents a bar. My interest was piqued. "Cacao Reserve - By Hersheys" was printed on the top of the tidy package in a bold, and subtly intelligent font. Below it was a description of the product - "Dark chocolate with cacao nibs. Sixty-five percent cacao."

My mind mulled over the meaning of this.

"Sixty-five percent? Gosh, that's gotta be good. Dark, but good. Barry, you've gotta buy this. Think about it. You'll never go to wine tasting parties. You'll never smoke a fifty dollar cigar with your buddies. This is the moment in your life where you rise into the glorious ranks of pretentious food tasters! Damn it, Barry... it's your right! Your right to Cacao!"

So I bought it.

Back at the desk, I carefully tore open the protective cardboard shell. What lay beneath was dressed in robes of foil. I unwrapped it delicately. After all, this was no ordinary candy bar - this was the Cacao reserve! I broke a small piece off, and imagined a chocolate dealer somewhere in the Cacao plantations of South America. He sat at a desk with a machete; a large, healthy smile on his face as he chops off a small portion of chocolate. "My friend," he says, "I have reserved for you this morsel of our finest Cacao!"

My first reaction, when I put the chocolate into my mouth, was that it had a really nice melting point. It didn't instantly melt and it wasn't waxy. And as it slowly dissolved onto my tongue, I realized how natural it tasted - a very mild, earthy flavor with just a hint of traditional chocolate. I was duly impressed. I don't think the Cacao nibs did much for it. They didn't have much flavor; or if they did, it was entirely masked by the flavor of the dark chocolate. Overall, though, the experience was gratifying. I could taste this stuff regularly. I recommend that you do the same. Seriously, try it. Even if you don't like dark chocolate (cause I didn't). Plus it's got flavinol antioxidants... which are... good for us?

Better, anyway, than, say, cigars... :)