Jan 242006

(All photos for this entry are posted here)

Technomania Circus Technomania Cirucs Technomania Circus

Saturday night rolled around, and I headed south into Barrio Logan to check out Jimmy & Co (aka Bologna Ponies) play. After their burlesque show appearance in North Park, they had been asked to play at the Technomania Circus. Their punchy-sideshow sound fits well with the circus.

I really didn’t have any clue about the Technomania Circus, despite it being only 12 blocks from my house, and in existence for some time. Hell, a lot of the people involved are burners, or part of the Xara Project. I can only plead ignorance.

So what the hell is Technomania Circus? Well.. think of a heavily Burning Man influenced circus, but in some guys backyard. Its kind of weird. Yes, I do mean back yard. You have to sign a waver when you go, because if some flaming sword stabs your leg, they don’t have insurance for you. Hah.

Despite its humble appearance, it really is a lot of fun. Gags, freaks, acrobats, robots with fire. The circus has what you have been missing in life. I had a great time. If you go, dress warm, as its all outdoors. I just about froze my ass off wearing a hoody.

Update: I probably won’t be back to check out their quite freaky adult show on Feb 18th. “Extreme sideshow acts, suspension artists” – i.e. meat hooks & human flesh are the milder parts of this show. They are really going to push the shock envelope. More than likely it is going to be too much for even me, and I’m pretty unflappable. A much better bet is to wait until their March show.

Jan 242006

Interesting things are happening up north. Harper & the conservatives ousted the liberals from power. Harper is now the PM, and Martin has stepped down. I thought Martin was doing a decent job, but his party has had a good run of corruption and arrogance, so they all paid the price.

– As a fiscal conservative, the first thing on Harper’s agenda is a reduction of the GST (national goods & services tax) from 7% to 5%. Not a horrible thing really, as Canada has been bringing in a consistent surplus. But, the govt still carries a significant amount of debt. Personally I would have preferred to leave it at 7%, and keep paying that down, or divert those funds to healthcare.

– Harper’s Federal Accountability Act looks good, attempting to cut down on financing and lobbying in Ottawa.

– Harper is not known for being progressive towards green technologies or green legislation.

– Harper promises to improve relations with the US. While good relations with a neighbor is always a nice thing, the US has recently required a hell of a lot of kowtowing for the ‘privilege’ of relations. It is not hard to see that one always needs to keep Canada’s sovereignty in mind when dealing with the south.

– Harper’s campaign director Tom Flanagan, has some interesting views on Canada’s First Nations people. He argues that the only sensible native policy was outright assimilation. Harper has yet to respond to an urgent open letter demanding to know if he shares Flanagan’s views.

– Stockwell Day would probably become Foreign Affairs Minister. Day is a fundamentalist, and has given Israel carte blanche in the past. “He had expressed the view that we should place child abusers in the general prison population so that those prisoners could summarily execute the abuser. He was also proud of the fact that he made a point of being one of the first customers at holocaust denier Jim Keegstra�s new garage after he was convicted of hate crimes.” Ah yes, what a sweetheart. Doesn’t this guy sound like a great Foreign Affairs Minister?

– Harper & co were/are pro-war. It is strange to me that both Harper and Day were for going to Iraq, not so much on the disarm Saddam meme that was so popular at that moment, but more towards ‘loyalty’ towards the US and the UK. In other words, how much lumber is a war on false pretenses worth?

– Harper claims to be not pushing a conservative social agenda. However, he wants to reverse last year’s law legalizing gay marriage. I’m sure there are many more things in his plans, but it remains to be seen how much power he will have to make any changes.

Harper could be bad, or good for Canada. It depends on what support he is given from the rest of the government. As the leader of a minority government, he is going to have to do a lot of persuading to get things through parliament. I wish him all the best on the Accountability Act, but I would hope that Canada does not move backwards in other areas.

Jan 132006

While I love my Fuji F810, it has always suffered from a lack of filters. But this certainly isn’t the fault of the camera, no one expects that out of a pocketable point and shoot. Maybe its better to say that I suffer from a lack of filters. I find that many times the photo can’t wait for proper lighting (midday sun is my enemy) or I am just too impatient to wait (always more to see). This has always left me wanting a polarizing or UV filter. Hell, even a hood would be better than nothing. So why didn’t I pick up the E550 instead of the F810, and try to hack out some filters? It crossed the line from pocketable to pocketable if you have huge pockets. But lacking USB2 support and no marine case didn’t help either.

Its been about a year and a half since I bought my F810, so I wanted to scan some of the ‘prosumer’ cameras to see if I was missing out. Not really. The ones that are rated highly are almost as big, or bigger than the Cannon Rebel XT (digital SLR). They also seem to be mostly 5MP. Now I know MP isn’t that big a deal, but my year and a half old camera does 12mp quite well by interpolating its two sensors, or 6mp by using the medium setting. It just seems like a big step back.

This seems to suggest that if I’m looking to upgrade, a small DSLR is where its at. But I’m not convinced I want to go down that path. Features-wise, I would love to. Long exposures are sweet, easy manual focus, performance, etc. But I have to break some of my (mostly travel) rules to do so:

  1. Don’t travel with expensive things, or more importantly, don’t have anything expensive exposed. Cameras on straps are nice targets. I also don’t want to carry a camera bag, as that is almost more of an invitation in some places. Perhaps I can get around this by hacking together some sort of a holster inside my messenger bag for the camera when not in use.
  2. Pack light. The Rebel XT would add around 3/4 of a pound compared to my other camera when you include batteries and chargers. Not a big deal for my pack, but more of a size issue for my day bag. As said above, I may be able to bang something together on my existing bag.
  3. Pack simple. Something as flexible as a SLR is an invitation for trouble. Extra lenses, filters, tripod, etc. Very easy for me to get carried away. I would have to stick to a single lense (probably the kit one), a couple filters (relatively small), and the same desktop tripod I already have.
  4. Try to remain inconspicuous, or at least try not to be a stereotype. Of course, this isn’t always possible in a different culture. But a camera, especially one that looks somewhat pro, changes people’s perspective of you. I try to be a discrete tourist – only pull out the camera when I’m leaving a place, or saying good bye. With a pocket camera this was pretty easy. I’m not sure how much a bigger camera would change that.

So here are my questions to those that have made the jump. Oso, I’m looking at you.

  1. Is it a pain in the ass to pack the SLR for the road?
  2. Is it a pain in the ass to drag the SLR around on day trips?
  3. Is it easy to become distracted by the camera (too many options), rather than using it as a tool?
  4. How do you use & travel with SLRs in poorer locations?
  5. Does having a bigger/pro camera get you restricted from any spots, or change people’s attitudes towards you?
  6. Assuming I go the SLR route – are image stabilization lenses worth the extra weight, money, and pack space for travel? Or am I better off just with the kit 18-55, and maybe a 50 for indoors?
Jan 122006

Kung Food

Kung Food is back. Sort of. Its not the same people, but its the same location, and the same name. They have split into two parts, a pseudo drive-through, and a cafe. The cafe serves mostly prepared foods, and I’m not that big a fan (seems I’m not the only one). The Kung Food drive-through on the other building has really slow (but friendly) service, and the sweet potato fries are inconsistent – burnt dregs one day, greasy slabs the next. Someone teach these hippies how to use a fryer!

So why am I still talking about this place? The Kung Food drive-through (more of an order-and-park really) is worth the wait and inconstancy for one reason – burgers. Waiting for vegan burgers? Am I nuts? Hell no. These things could fool even the staunchest carnivore. They are very satisfying. Great buns, toppings, and amazing, even meaty, patties. These are really great burgers. Give the (fake) bacon cheese burger a try, I don’t think you will be sorry.

Update: They are dead again?

Jan 122006

About damned time: Mayor Jerry Sanders on Wednesday asked all City Council-appointed trustees of the city’s troubled pension system to step down. They were put there by crooks, and are still running things. I’ve got give credit to Sanders, I didn’t think he had the cajones to team up with Aguirre.

What the hell are people smoking? The Chargers wanted San Diego give them a bunch of land. They would then take the land and turn it into 6,000 condos. Then the planned to sell those at a huge profit and make enough to build a new stadium. This is completely retarded on so many levels. First off, why the hell do they need a new stadium? I’ve been to the existing one, its fine. Is even on the trolley line. Second, people think there is money in building condos? Take a drive downtown. Almost everything south of market is, or is becoming, a giant condo project. There is plenty more in the rest of town. A hell of a lot of them are empty.� Third, why the hell are we giving away land? If the city is going to sell it, it should be using that to pay down its massive debt.

Jan 102006

District 8 doesn’t have great choices. The campaigns have been short on facts, and heavy on mud-slinging. Both candidates have plenty of mud to sling at each other. VoteNoneOfTheAbove.info is starting to look like a good idea.

Update: Ben Hueso wins by a landslide – I hope Ben does a good job. It is good to know that there isn’t someone in the office that will blindly follow the mayor, but we also need someone willing to make tough cuts in this crisis. Ben only has until June to prove he is the man for the job.