Monday, May 25, 2009

Why I love Austin

Today I got back to Austin around 11am. I knew I had most of the day free and I wanted to spend it outside in the pool! I've been craving the water for a few weeks now, and today was going to be the day. After realizing most of my friends had decided to go climbing at Reimers instead of Pace Bend (my first choice of water activity for the day), I decided to stay in town and go to Barton Springs pool. My first pool trip of the season. I was so excited, like a kid in the candy store. I made my way down to the pool (a short 5-10 minute bike ride from my house) and instantly knew it was going to be a packed pool day. There were people and cars everywhere, but I was happy to see the crowds. The line was only about 15 people long, so after only a few moments, and $3, I made my way into the pool area. For those of you that don't know, Barton Spring pool is a natural spring pool in Austin that is open 365 days a year from some hour in the morning until about 10pm. (free hours are from 9pm to 10pm and tops are optional at all hours for both boys and girls). The pool stays a chilly 68 deg. year round. But man, it feels soooooo good on those hot summer days. Today was only 87 deg out, which usually is a little too cold for me to be going in 68 deg pools, but I was willing to make an exception today. It's kinda funny to say that 87 deg is too cold to be going in the water, but in texas, where it gets up over 105 deg in the summer, and the pool is only 68 deg cold, it needs to be a warm day for me to be jumping in.

After reading a chapter of my book, I headed down to the water. After a few moments of mental prep, I dove head first into the icy cold water. As soon as my skin hit the water, I could feel the cold water engulf me. It felt great! Sure, it's cold and kinda makes your heart stop for a few seconds, but it only takes about 20 seconds to get used to the water. It felt wonderful! I was so happy to be in the water just floating along and relaxing. I spent the next 45 minutes in the water, swimming up and down the pool, watching people around me also enjoying the nice day. I finally convinced myself to get out of the water, but suck around a little more by the pool side for a few quick dives in and out of the pool. Each time enjoying the feeling as the water hit my skin.

After spending a few moments at my towel, I headed out. My fun in the sun was over and it was time to go home and shower to get ready for dinner. As I was leaving I noticed a few things. First was the GIANT line of people now waiting to get in the south entrance of the pool. It was about 2:30 and there were easily 50 people in line. I don't think I've ever seen the line that long. Second were the large and beautiful oak trees surrounding the pool area. And third were the groups of people, all hanging out on the grass outside the pool, some playing music, others playing a pickup game of football. It put a smile on my face to be reminded that this is only one of the many cool places in Austin for people to come relax and hang out. It makes me so happy to be here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Digital Camera

I recently went on a quest to find a new digital camera. What was wrong with my old one? Well, nothing really. Sure the back LCD is all banged up and getting hard to see through, but it's really a great camera besides that. However, it doesn't do all the "new and improved" features that most current handhelds do. And since I'm going to Costa Rica in a week, I wanted something that I could change the scene modes on. it - snow, beach, nature, indoor, night, underwater, etc. I had already decided on getting an underwater housing for my new camera, so I could take it snorkeling and on the kayak without worrying about water. So now I just had to pick the camera.

After lots of searching, and many trips to the camera store, I narrowed it down to two choices. (I should stop here and say this: if you are looking for a new digital handheld camera, go to Fry's and check them out. They have TONS of display models. I wish I would have done this). So back to my story. I was divided between the Canon Powershot SD 990IS and the Canon Powershot SD 880IS which a friend had recommended to me. Before my friend recommended the 880IS I had already been pretty convinced on getting the 990IS. I really wanted something that had tons of features and was fast. But when I received my 990IS from Amazon (along with extra batteries, flash cards, and a waterproof case) I was kinda disappointed. I took the time to read the manual, and sure it had both program and manual modes, but the shutter lag time seemed really long. Also, the way it felt in my hand was kinda weird. I'm not saying the body style is made poorly, I'm just saying that it wasn't impressive to me. Even from when I first opened the case, I had this feeling that it wasn't the amazing camera I had made it out to be. Sure the pictures looked great, but then again, I have 20 8x10 pictures on my office wall, all which I took with my SD600 6MP camera and printed on my home printer and they look great. So I sat here thinking, why do I have this 14.7MP camera?

It was about at this point that I realized that Fry's had both the 990IS and the 880IS display models. ding ding! I should have gone here before placing my order. none-the-less, I took myself over to Fry's to check out this 880IS camera. I liked it immediately. It was the same size and form factor as my old SD600, had 10MP (plenty for me), and all the scene modes that the 990IS had. PLUS it was wide view. I was a little confused about this "wide view" at first, but then I understood it's just a wider camera angle, but same "4x6" ratio if you will. Plus the shutter lag time is much better than the 990IS (in my opinion) and works just as quickly as my SD600, which was what I wanted.

So now I'm heading to the post office to return my canon powershot 990IS to amazon (thank goodness for good return policies) and I am eagerly awaiting my powershot 880IS from amazon. It's in Dallas right now! I'm hoping it will come by tomorrow, but realistically, I know it will be Tuesday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Parties, Cakes, and cool things.

First, the coolest thing of this weekend... finishing of the cake. So I made this awesome graduation cake for Jeremy this weekend. It's a cross of the lunar lander, the orion mission, jeremy's education and his hobbies. I was really happy with how it turned out and everyone seemed to enjoy it. The cake was chocolate with raspberry filling and vanilla icing. It was yummy! (check out more pictures here)

The reason for the cake was Jeremy's graduation party. His band, DC3, played from about 6pm to 8pm and it was such a great show! Thanks to all the band members and all the guest players/rappers that helped out! Tim, Ron and Jeremy were joined by several guests for a few songs, Alvero on the base, phil rapping, ethan on the sax, and Dan on the harmonica. Everyone really loved the show. We then continued partying until around midnight when people started to trickle out. Oh, and we had tons of food (as usual). Jalapeno Poppers, cocktail dogs in bbq, pesto croissants, chicken salad in croissants, sweetish meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, lots of salsa, deviled eggs, and chili dogs/frito pie. Thanks to everyone for showing up! We had a great time and were glad that you could make it. (check out those pictures here).

One last thing. I wanted to blog a little about this cool wine device that Jeremy got me for my birthday. It's a wine aerator called Vinturi (google it). It's this device that you pour your wine through and then into your glass, and it adds just the right amount of air to open the wine and bring out all the good flavors. We were skeptical at first, but it really works! And it works well! So if you're into wine, I would totally recommend it.