Tag Archives: pictures

Pic a Day Two

It’s astonishing to think that it’s May already. It seems like just yesterday, it was mid-February. Anyway, last May, I did the Pic-a-Day in May challenge. I had a lot of fun doing it, and was sad to see it end. But I think I’ll give it another try this year to see what happens.


Sure, this may look like a picture of an ordinary ceiling fan that’s been value inverted. In fact, that’s exactly what it is.

This is off to an awesome start, isn’t it?

Rainy Saturday

Yesterday, the storm of the century struck.


Actually, far less than a quarter inch of rain fell, but it was enough to erode and wash away my plans to go to December Nights. This is the annual night-time non-specific-holiday-themed open house that Balboa Park hosts each year. The museums open free of charge and entertainers can be found around each corner. But if a bit of water leaks from the sky then it’s curtains.

Instead I watched The Hunger Games on Netflix, with the anticipation of maybe seeing the sequel in the theater. It was not bad, but I do wonder a bit about the setting. According to the narrator, the games are a punishment or armistice agreement enacted after a failed revolution, requiring each of twelve districts to send an annual tribute of two children to fight to the death in the games. I can only wonder how destructive the revolution could have been in order for this to have been an acceptable compromise, and what sort of power the capital has over the outlying districts to enforce such a law. We know that the districts have to be quite large, as Katniss rides a 200 MPH bullet train overnight to get to the capital. Certainly, this power has to be more than white-armored goons and hovercopters. Perhaps the sequel will go into this.

May 31

Yesterday, I mentioned that an Atlas rocket could be seen from Highway 52. If you were curious about that, here it is.


This rocket is Atlas 2E, built in 1960 and test-fired at a Convair facility near the city of Poway. From 1963 to 1996, this rocket stood at Missile Park, near the site of the former General Dynamics plant. When the park was redeveloped, the rocket was donated to the Air and Space Museum and moved to the annex at Gillespie Field. Some have sought to move the rocket to the main branch of the Air and Space Museum at Balboa Park, but this has never happened. A shining, towering spacecraft would look completely out of place among the Spanish Colonial buildings of Balboa Park. (Never mind that the Air and Space Museum is, itself, inside of an Art Deco pavilion originally built for Ford.)

Balboa Park, by the way, is going to celebrate its centennial in 2015. And while city streets once ran completely through the park, most of El Prado is now closed to traffic. The part that’s open has been somewhat controversial as of late. Motorists are still permitted to drive across the Cabrillo Bridge, through a grand gateway, and into the Plaza de California and the Plaza de Panama, before veering right to eventually park behind the Organ Pavilion.

The problem is that the bridge and gates are both narrow and crawling with pedestrians, so it’s somewhat hazardous. The Plaza de California’s open space is mostly wasted, but the Plaza de Panama’s isn’t. It’s a lovely valet parking lot and bus turnaround.

There was once a proposal to turn these Plazas back into pedestrian-friendly places. It would have dug out the parking lot behind the Organ Pavilion and sunk a subterranean parking lot there. Then a bypass would be built off the bridge, winding around the outside of the park buildings, that went to this new lot. Conservationists were up in arms about the bypass, and managed to get the proposal put on ice.

I didn’t like the bypass idea, either. Most people who heard of it didn’t like it. The idea of the underground lot wasn’t so bad, especially considering that most people don’t even drive across the bridge anyway. Most people enter the park from the south side, where the freeway exit is.

If it were up to me, I’d limit the bridge and the Plazas to foot traffic and the parking-shuttle-and-tour trams. I’d even build the underground garage, and roof it over with new gardens.

Of course, these things always sound better on paper than they end up actually being. When Petco Park was being built, citizens were promised a vast green space would surround it, upon which to frolic, picnic, and watch ball games. The green space shrank and shrank until it became a strip of lawn upon which dogs could relieve themselves.

I suppose a dog lawn is better than a giant, neon Coke bottle. Or a Cold War era nuclear missile.

May 27-30

So… It seems I have fallen a few days behind in the Pic-a-Day challenge. Would you believe that I was waiting for bionic hands to come in the mail? No, of course you wouldn’t. Who would put bionic hands in the mail? That’s got to go FedEx.

On another note, don’t you just hate when you aim for “Save Draft” button, but then hit “Publish” instead? Yeah, me too!

Anyway, here’s the true pic of the day. A massive sculpture sitting in Sorrento Valley, a neighborhood famed for its twice-daily freeway congestion.


To me, it looks like a rocket, which makes sense. General Dynamics used to have a plant a few miles from this location. Atlas rockets were test-fired only a few more miles down the road. One of these rockets can still be glimpsed from Highway 52.

May 27

Now for something completely different. I once converted a toy camera (a SiPix Blink II) to take “infrared” pictures. I place infrared in quotes, since it is a very near infrared, that is somewhat visible to humans. However, it is an extremely interesting effect, and easy to do.

There are many materials that are transparent to various wavelengths of infrared light, and that are also opaque to visible light. Some people claim good results with 35mm negatives and floppy disks. I use theatrical lighting gel in the color of Congo Blue.

I started by making viewing goggles, by attaching three layers of Congo Blue to an old pair of safety goggles. When I put them on, it was very dark at first. After a moment of adjustment, I could see plants reflecting a pinkish orange color. It was quite remarkable.  I read that looking at too bright of a light with the goggles on could cause snow blindess, so I tried to be careful about that and not look at the sun or any dazzling gleams. The safety goggles were UV coated to begin with, so it might not have been an issue, but better safe than sorry.

Next, I found my old Kodak Z700. Most digital cameras have a filter that limits the sensor to the wavelengths of light that humans can see. You can remove this filter and take pictures that include some infrared and ultraviolet light. For example, in the Z700, this filter is a tiny sliver of glass resting on a square rubber frame around the image sensor. Transparent to the naked eye, when I looked at it wearing my Congo Blue goggles, it shone like a mirror.

I ended up replacing this filter with a piece of plastic of a similar thickness. It came from the sliding drawer of a parts organizer, and was so transparent in infrared as to be almost invisible. I slid the Congo Blue pieces behind the rubber frame, up against the image sensor, where they’d be held perfectly flat.

When I put the camera back together, it worked amazingly well…


This is a path at Mission Trails Regional Park. It is interesting that the camera interprets the light reflected by the plants as white, rather than pinkish-orange. The sky is dark, as the familiar blue glow is more or less filtered out.

I had a lot of fun with this project, and I plan to post some of the other photos I took to Flickr.

May 24-25

Today’s photo is a lego minifig that I found. It looks like someone tried to create the Spy from Team Fortress.


I’ve never actually played Team Fortress, but I do recognize the characters. Well, some of them. This guy and the guy with the hat.

I really am not a big video gamer. I couldn’t tell you when the last time I turned on my 360 was. It was proably around the time that the shine wore off the Rock Band franchise, and that was a while ago. I also have a PS3, and I have probably used that more to watch movies than anything else. Which, by the way, is pretty much all I did last night. And I still didn’t use the PS3.

Total Recall has been sitting on the TiVo for a while now.


It was not bad, certainly not as bad as the buzz had led me to believe. I think I’d describe it as forgettable.

May 23

Decisions, decisions. They say better late than never. They say a bad post is better than no post. They say it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. They say the meek will inherit the Earth.

They also say that “they say” is a great liar.

So, screw what they say. I say that this is the pic of the day for today.  Never mind that I actually took it on Tuesday.


This is the game of Samurai, in which resources are captured from cities in a hexagonal bidding war. Tiles are placed around cities to place bids, and when a city is completely surrounded, the city’s resources are awarded to the player with the highest bid against that resource type. The scoring is a bit complicated, having to do with non-tied majorities in any resource, but the game is fun enough. I’d certainly play it again.

May 22

After an attack like yesterday’s, if I rest for a few hours, I usually feel fine (if not better than average.) I’ve never been able to pinpoint the migranes’ exact cause. At first I wondered whether I had a food allergy, but I never found any correlations. I wondered whether I could accidentally put myself into caffiene withdrawals. And so I became more mindful of caffiene, and realized that probably wasn’t the cause, either. The only remaining pattern seems to be that if I stay up too late for too many nights in a row, sometimes a migrane follows. To try and prove it, I’ve started using an app called SleepBot to record my sleeping habits. Time will tell.

And now for the Pic of the Day.


This Lava Lamp sits in an odd corner of the house, on a bit of the kitchen bar that can’t really be used for anything useful. So the lamp sits there, churning away, lighting the way for those who’d otherwise be stumbling around in the dark.

May 20

The busts along the side of the old California Theater look as though they’re ready to hurl objects at random passers-by.


You may notice that one of the statues is missing an arm. In general, the building is in sad shape, as it has been standing vacant for over twenty years. Just last year, the marquee was removed, lest it collapse on unsuspecting pedestrians. A sad state for what was once a regal cinema. The California Theater was built in 1927, and featured restaurants, shopping, and even a modest office tower. Of course, its focal point was its lavish 2,200 seat auditorium, which some called a “movie cathedral.”
As with the El Cortez, the theater’s glamour faded and it changed hands several times. The theater closed for good in 1990. It has since been designated historic. However, it is rumored that the interior deterioration is so severe, that restoring the theater to any kind of operational state would probably never be a profitable investment.  If that is true, then the California Theater will undoubtedly stand empty for a long time.

May 19

Not long ago, I found a wooden carryall that I fixed up and hung on the wall. Ever since, I’ve been on the lookout for a couple more like it, in order to give them the same treatment and finish off the wall. Well, I recently found two that were close enough. So, today I went to the art store to get some decorative paper. I found a map of Rome, a sheet of French newspaper ads, and a burgundy swirl pattern.

Faux French Decoupage Paper

It seems like a shame to chop up the map, so maybe I’ll save that for something else. I think I can use the ads with the newsprint scraps left over from the last project. And if I hate that, I’ll cover it over with the burgundy.