Sunday, December 26, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 7

7:11 a.m.
I woke up rested and feeling energetic, apparently getting the hang of sleeping outdoors. Although, my restful sleep may have been the result of my closeness to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, lying only a few hundred yards from my tent. Without a doubt, the Grand Canyon emitted a certain sense of peacefulness that affected everyone around it.

8:28 a.m.
Grand Canyon in the morning
After breaking camp, I went back to the Desert View lookout and watched the rim in the glow of the morning sun. Even though it was my second time looking at the canyon, I felt the same awe and inspiration I experienced when I first laid eyes upon it. I doubt I would ever become bored of the spectacular sight of the Grand Canyon. It is a truly spiritual place.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse Captured

This is a video of the Total Lunar Eclipse captured with Slooh's Chile telescope on December 21, 2010 from 0:28 a.m. CST to 4:01 a.m. CST. The clip is actually a series of 158 photographs aligned perfectly and then blended together to form a continuous sequence. Prepping the pictures and then making the video took me about 15 hours (it was a lot of work). Hope you all enjoy!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lunar Eclipse Tomorrow

A total lunar eclipse—the first in two years—will make an appearance on the night of Monday, December 20th. For those of you not familiar with the phenomenon, here is a brief explanation from Wikipedia: “A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun’s rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle.”

Unfortunately, due to the early setting of the moon at certain places, not the entire world will have the privilege of observing the lunar eclipse in its entirety. To find out if the event will be available at your geographic location head to SpaceDex. For those interested in the science behind the phenomenon, NASA will also host a live chat with lunar experts from the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Update: Slooh will also host a free live event with host Bob Berman at 1:20 a.m. EST, 6:20 a.m. UTC. If you are at a geographic location from which the eclipse will not or only partially be visible, this is your chance; Slooh's telescopes will provide an excellent opportunity to observe the phenomenon.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 6

5:57 a.m.
Welcome to Arizona
It was hard to find rest at the busy welcome center. Well-traveled, even at night, Interstate 40 offered little opportunity to sleep. People were constantly passing by, slamming car doors, and making noise. Even worse, lying on the payload bay of my truck made me feel as if I had put myself on display, quite different from the secluded lot of the small gas station from last night. Even though I knew I had not gotten enough sleep, I could not bear the though of staying any longer. I packed up my stuff and hit the road.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Geminid Meteor Shower Starts Tomorrow

Just a friendly reminder to everyone interested in astronomy: one of the most spectacular celestial events of the year (well, every year really) will return this December! Caused by a passing asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, the Geminid Meteor Shower--or simply Geminids--will produce between 60 to 80 meteors an hour visible to the naked eye at its peak on December 13th and 14th, weather permitting.

To find the best viewing hours based on your geographic location, visit SpaceDex, where you can find timetables, pictures, and much more. NASA will also host events on its website starting 3 p.m. EST on December 13th.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mass Effect 2 and Cloud Computing

Before I would begin, let's clarify what cloud computing is. According to Wikipedia, " computing is [an] Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand..." In Lyman's terms, for gamers at least, this means that they no longer need powerful, and often expensive, devices to run games, only a fast enough Internet connection. Think of it as if your Xbox was in a different country, but you were able to play with it using the Internet.

Such services already exist. A good example would be OnLive, which launched some time ago and enjoys moderate success among gamers.

But now, with a new technology developed by California-based company, Gaikai, games will soon be available with a click of a mouse embedded into our browsers! Though this technology is currently still in beta phase, you now have the chance to try it real time with the Mass Effect 2 demo. All you have to do is click here and hope your Internet access is fast enough to be included!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Karma: A Story of Honesty

I would like to share a short story that involves the concept of karma (though, those who do not believe in such ideas might call it ‘coincidence’). In either way, I hope it will be a pleasant and maybe even an inspiring read!

This story took place in Washington D.C., during a family vacation in the summer of 2010. I was on my way back from the National Mall to our hotel in Georgetown, when I stumbled upon a Thai restaurant. Since Thai food is one of my favorites, I decided to stop by and bring some back. Once I paid for my order, however, I noticed that the cashier gave me a dollar more, which of course, I gave back right away. The cashier then thanked my honesty, and I thought the story would end there. But it did not.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 5

6:31 a.m.

Ironically, first time since I began my road trip, I woke up rested. I had to make a few adjustments of course—such as putting something under my sleeping bag so the ribs of the cargo bay would not hurt my back—but I felt I may have found my semi-permanent sleeping place on the back of my truck.

I packed up my gear and, after a quick wash-up in the gas station’s restroom, hit the road. With the sun already up, the previously hidden landscape finally revealed itself to me. I could clearly see the hills surrounding me. Apparently I was right last night; I did reach the southernmost slopes of the Rocky Mountains—though these hills were very tiny compared to the peaks of the real Rockies farther north.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

2010 National Geographic Photography Contest

National Geographic is currently holding its annual photo contest. Submissions can still be turned in until November 30th. For those of you, however, who do not feel like competing, the National Geographic website still holds spectacular entries from all over the world that are more than worthy of your attention!

Entries of the 2010 photo contest can be seen here (I especially recommend their 'Nature' gallery).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 4

8:15 a.m.
“Hey sweetie, it’s time,” the receptionist woke me up on the phone.

Though I could have used a few more hours of sleep, I was out of my room in less than ten minutes; I really did not want to get my guardian angel in trouble. Checking out took only about a minute, and by 8:30 I was already on the road, heading toward Palo Duro Canyon State Park. About thirty miles south of Amarillo, the park was going to be the first major natural attraction on my Route 66 trip.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Night Visitor

          Author's note: Below is a short story I had written as a writing exercise for the 2010 East Texas Writing Project. It is by no means my best work (as I said, it was only an exercise), but for some reason I felt like sharing today. And in case if anyone wonders: yes, it is a true story. Enjoy!


          It was another Saturday night—another trip to Mercer Bayou. Taking out Jason’s boat and having a campfire had become common practice over the past few months. I learned to look forward to these trips, offering relief, a kind of sanctuary, from our everyday problems.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 3

7:42 a.m.

Red Rock Canyon State Park
I was awakened by the warden, coming to collect the camping fee—a bit sooner than I expected, but I did not really mind. Despite the early hour, the temperature had already begun to climb, slowly rendering the inside of my polyester tent uninhabitable.

I washed up and had a quick breakfast, then broke camp and went on to explore Red Rock Canyon State Park before heading out to find a mechanic. The tour, however, did not last as long as I initially thought it would. While the park was nice—a network of small fields nestled at the foot of red cliffs—there was really not much to see. It was more of a weekend destination for families than the adventurous wild I was looking for.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 2

10:45 a.m.

After leaving the motel, I spent the rest of the morning looking around in downtown Shawnee. Though not too large, the city center had a pleasant atmosphere. Quite a few newly restored buildings and streets paved with bricks stood as mementoes of the locals’ efforts in trying to restore the traditional look of their historic district. Work still had to be done in the future of course, but it was nice to see a reasonably well kept Southern downtown for a change.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nature's Glory: Sierra Nevada

Below is a short film I made about my visit to the Sequoia National Park in July, 2010. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Route 66 Journal - Day 1

2:25 p.m.

The iron horse
After a morning of last minute errands and goodbyes, I was finally able to hit the road, a moment I had been waiting for a long time. Going down on Route 66 had been a fascination of mine for as long as I can remember, but I never had the time or the money to do something about it. With school at its inevitable end, however, the summer of 2010 had finally provided me with the much sought opportunity. Although I still lacked the necessary funding for a truly extravagant trip, it did not stop me from leaving. In fact, my limited funds actually went nicely with my plan: I wanted to experience the Mother Road like a modern day nomad, leaving behind the comforts and security of everyday life as much as possible. I wanted an adventure!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Run

Author's note: This piece was originally a writing exercise at the 2010 National Writing Project. But I liked the idea and eventually developed it into a short story. Since then, it made its way into the Writing Project’s anthology and received favorable responses.

While the story is based on the game, Halo 3, I tried to make it as accessible to readers who are not familiar with the series--or even with video games--as possible. For that reason, aside from a few dialogues, the story has no specific references to the Halo universe. Nevertheless, fans of the series will no doubt find this writing familiar in many ways.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mass Effect Redemption Review

It does not always give me a good feeling when I see a video game franchise grow and migrate to other mediums. Too many film adaptations, for instance, had turned out to be crappy on the big screen, ruining an otherwise great game universe. Fortunately, not everything is bad, and there are quite a few good adaptations out there. Besides books, I also enjoy video game comics quite a bit. Though, similarly to movies, they tend to fluctuate greatly, there are some really good ones—such as Dead Space, a true masterpiece from award winning artist Ben Templesmith. Recently, this small group of good video game comics grew with a new arrival: Mass Effect Redemption.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Aiptek AHD - H12 Test

The saying “you get what you paid for” describes Aiptek’s latest digital camcorder perfectly. I purchased the AHD - H12 during Memorial Day weekend for the reasonable amount of $200. Even though I had my suspicion that, for this price, the image quality cannot be too good, I went ahead and purchased it anyway. A full HD video camera for this price was just too darn good to let it get away. I figured, if I can get a decent 720p quality out of 1080p, it was already worth it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Alan Wake Book Review

Before I begin, I have to confess: I have not yet played Alan Wake. Even though I am very interested in this latest Xbox classic, I am an old fashioned guy and not a big fan of downloadable content; something that I am sure Alan Wake will receive plenty of in the future. As much as I would love pick up the controller and get lost in the chilling world of Alan Wake, I decided to wait for a game-of-the-year edition, which hopefully will contain all the DLCs. Nevertheless, not playing the game did not stop me from dwelling into the book based on the video game and getting a little taste of what millions of players are experiencing on the TV screens.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

World's Funniest Test Answers?

Well, perhaps. They are definitely funny though... :D

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Four States Mustang Show

This morning, on the way back from the store, I stumbled upon a crowd, gathering at the parking lot of the local mall. Since I had some time to spare, I decided to check it out. It turned out to be the annual Four States Mustang Club show, with quite a few hot rides on display. Here are a few pictures I've taken until my camera’s battery gave out… :P

1973 GT

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Slooh Space Photographs

For those of you who doesn't know what is Slooh: it is an Internet-based telescope service. Registered users are able to follow the three Slooh telescopes, set up in three distant parts of the world (Spain, Chile, and Australia). Though you can request time with the telescopes, mostly you just follow pre-programmed coordinates and listen to the narrator (Bob Berman) explaining what you see. It is pretty much like an interactive multimedia software, except that you see live feed from real telescopes. If you became interested follow this link; they have a free trial.

In the meantime, here are some pictures I have taken with Slooh's service (click on them for a larger view):

Orion Nebula (M 42)