Thursday, February 5, 2015

Having fun at water polo game

Of course, as a coach, I want to make sure that my athletes are happy. Winning is nice and all, but my goal is make the experience enjoyable and to share my passion for the sport with the students. I hope that they enjoy it as much as I do.

This afternoon, after the varsity game was over, some of our ladies were hanging out on the pool deck, waiting for the JV game to finish. During the JV halftime, some of the girls asked me to take a photo of them. These are the photos I took today. I have to admit that they are very artsy, something that isn't always my strong suit.

This first photo is of Heaven and Pooka. These two silly girls gave my this expressions, but what really made the photo "pop" was the sun setting behind them. I liked the photo. It shared the playful nature of these young ladies and the fun of being young.

Tonight, as I was editing the photos, I decided to try my hand at some of the filters that are included with +Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The first victim was Tayler as she smiled for me. I liked the way the photo felt with the blue tint. In particular, I felt it makes her smile come to life.

The next two photos are of a young lady who seems to have the ability to be focused one minute, and then a goofball the next, Miss Jordan. Once again, I was mindlessly going through the Lightroom filters and when I got this image, I knew I had a keeper. This filter makes her blue eyes leap out at you, and the red tongue (from eating some sort of candy) functions as a complement.

Another shot of Jordan, but this time it's been converted to monochrome. The setting sun provided a nice shadow to her face. As you can tell, she is quite the joker!

Well I hope you enjoyed these photos and their impulsive nature. I know they aren't anything too special, but they were fun to take and share, and for me that is photography.

-- Tom

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Celebrating 43 years my way!

The varsity and the alumni ladies had a great time,
as evidenced by all of those smiling faces.
Today I woke up another year older. Today is the anniversary of when I came into this world. Instead of having a birthday party or a fancy meal out, I celebrated my birthday doing the things I love: water polo and good food. 

As my TCO followers know, I volunteer as an assistant coach for the +Yucaipa High School girls water polo team. It just happened that my birthday was also the day that our team was going to host the team's "alumni game". This game is when the alumni ladies come out to form a team to see how good our current team is. 

Renee and I cuddle up for a cold and wet selfie pool side.
It was cold and wet up in Yucaipa, as we got some much needed rain. The rain forecast made me decide to leave the Nikon at home. I didn't want to risk the camera and lens getting. I also knew that I'd be busy in my role as assistant coach. Of course this didn't phase my future step-daughter, as she decided to take our family's Nikon D3200 out and try her hand at photographing the game.

I didn't have the "big" lens (70-200/f2.8), only our kit 55-200/f3.5-5.6. It was going to be a challenge, but I thought it would be a good experience for her to try it. I will take a look at the photos later and I'll share how they came out.

After the game, Renee, Ashleah, and I met my buddy Kevin at his favorite taco place in Whittier: Arturo's Puffy Tacos. Kevin has taken me to Puffy Taco about a month ago and it was delicious, so I wanted Renee to try them. So in spite of the rain and crazy weather, we drove down to Whittier for dinner and you know what? It was SO worth it!! Kevin has made us Puffy Taco fans!

-- Tom

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Switching home broadband

For the last five years, I've been a customer of AT&T for their DSL service for my home Internet connection. I started back then with their 1.5 megabit/second(Mbps) service and about a year ago they updated my service to 3 Mbps for the same price.

In that time, we've encountered a frustrating problem where the connection would regularly "drop" and we'd be unable to connect to the Internet for 2-5 minutes at a time. Over time the duration of the outage grew, along with the frequency. No one seemed to have an answer to the solution.

I was told my router was the problem but I highly doubted that. Luckily Renee had the router she used in Wyoming, so I set it up and converted all of our wireless devices. The connection "black-outs" were still getting longer and more frequent. It was clear that AT&T was the problem. Renee and I made the decision to ditch DSL and try cable. I discovered that for $5 more a month than I was paying AT&T, I could get 100 Mbps from Time Warner Cable! That's right for $5 more a month, I could get 33x faster bandwidth.

That information cemented our resolve to ditch the phone company. I did some research and discovered that we could "rent" a modem and a router/wireless access point from TWC or we could purchase our own. I elected to purchase our own cable modem and reuse the router we are currently using, in an effort to minimize our recurring costs.

Well, after dealing with a few incompetent installers (who probably didn't want to install the cable from the street, as the existing line was too old to be reused), we ended up with a great guy by the name of Edgar who installed the cable and got our connection working this evening. He performed his speed tests on the connection and we are getting about 110 Mbps download and 11 Mbps upload.

After Edgar left, we sat down to watch something on Netflix. There was no buffering at all, something we've learned to accept as normal. I'm hoping that TWC is going to be reliable for us. Only time will tell!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Official SuperHero" award

As any follower of TCO knows,  I am a big supporter of the school I work at: Yucaipa High. I have found the students, staff, and community to be wonderful. Besides doing my professional duties, I volunteer my time and services with the photography of water polo games, swim meets, & mountain bike races, along with coaching for two of those teams. It makes me feel good to be playing a positive role for these students' lives.

Earlier this week, one of our YHS seniors came by my office and delivered an invitation to a luncheon in the staff lounge for today. I hadn't heard about a staff appreciation luncheon, but then I don't always know what's going on around me when I'm busy trying to keep everything running.

I showed up for the luncheon during "B" lunch today and was met with some of my colleagues, some teachers, some support staff (like me). We were enjoying the delicious food when the ASB students announced that this lunch was for the teachers that felt had made their time at YHS fun and memorable.

A YHS senior who plays water polo and is a swimmer, +Cameron Harper selected me for his "Official Superhero" award. It was quite an honor to be recognized for the things I do because I enjoy them. Thanks Cameron!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Diversity and my heritage

Recently I took a course for my B.A. degree entitled "Diversity". It covered the various ways we are different, yet very much alike. The message was to embrace our differences and realize that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness.

The week we covered racial and ethnic diversity, I came to an interesting revelation: I know way more about the Hispanic, specifically Mexican culture, than I do about my own heritage.

My father's side is primarily Dutch and my mother's side in Danish, so I am essentially a northern European guy. As I read the readings for the class, I realized that beyond knowing where my family is from, I know very little.

As was the norm at the time, when my great grandparents came over from Europe, they wanted to become an American. Doing that meant, to them, leaving the wealth of traditions from their former life behind and adopting the American culture. They wanted to blend in, not stand out. Contrast this with our modern day society, at least in southern California, we have learned to embrace the various cultural differences and accommodate new traditions and rituals. This is no more evident than the Mexican culture influence here.

In the city where I live, there are many Mexican restaurants, selling all sorts of Mexican foods and dishes. There are dress shops that cater to quincearas (a Mexican coming age party for 15 year old girls), markets that sell meats specifically for Mexican dishes, Mexican bakeries, and other businesses that I'm sure are escaping me at this moment. Being immersed in the Mexican culture has given the opportunity to experience it first hand. I love Mexican foods, as they are delicious.

When I thought about what my Dutch/Danish background, I realized I knew very little about my background. The only dish that has been pass down has been a tasty pastry dish called æbleskiver. The recipe I have has been passed down from my great grandmother on my mom's side and now to my brother and I. That's it, one recipe. Sure, they are delicious, I repeat they are DELICIOUS, but nothing else that is been handed down. Notta.

Now I am motivated to spend some free time to do some research and learn more about Dutch and Danish cultures.  I want to learn about traditions. Holiday. Food. Clothing. Something that gives me even a tiny bit of what my ancestors could have done in their homes.

Of course I will share anything interesting as I find it.

-- Tom

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Trying out a new open source photography application for Linux

As long readers of Tuna Can Org know, I'm a longtime Linux and open source user and occasional advocate. I just love the fact that we have a great UNIX-like operating system with a robust selection of software. In fact I've been a regular user of Linux (as a desktop) since 1997.

The one area that I've been unable to find a good Linux solution to was photography workflow. Sure, we had +GIMP but I was looking for something that could help to manage my budding photography hobby. My photography mentor had turned me on to Adobe's Lightroom (MacOSX and Windows), but Adobe doesn't appear to have any plans on releasing it for Linux. That meant for my photography I was relegated to using my Mac or my Windows computers.

So today on Google+, I had a very helpful user tell me about this open source photography workflow software called DarkTable. I installed and after glancing around with some photos I had in a folder, it appears to work very similar to Lightroom. I'm very excited about using DarkTable and maybe being able to migrating my photography to my Linux workstation. I will definitely keep my TCO readers updated on how Darktable works for me.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

ChromeOS, it's time to see what you are all about!

Well this weekend I finally did it and bought myself something I've been considering for a while, a Google Chromebook. Ever since I first heard of the Google ChromeOS, I've wanting to get my hands on a ChromeOS device. It seemed like an interesting idea to have an operating system that ran inside of a browser. It had the potential to be a pretty versatile system. Of course since it ran on top of Linux, I was very intrigued!!

This afternoon I bit the bullet and invested in a ChromeOS device. I bought a Hewlett Packard Chromebook 14 from Best Buy. I stood in front of the Chromebook section for a while, analyzing what they had and trying to figure out what I want. I looked over the features and specs of each Chromebook, but seeing as I am a "big guy", I was drawn to Hewlett Packard's Chromebook 14 for it's large screen and full size keyboard. Also of note was 2GB of RAM, 16GB solid state drive (SSD), and 8-9 hours of battery time.

This evening I was able to spend some time using it and getting use to the ChromeOS experience. I have to say that it was a pretty nice experience. I was able to quickly (and quite easily) get my Chromebook on my WiFi network at home and logged in with my Google account. What I discovered was that the apps I had installed on my desktop Chrome were already set to go for me.

I'm now working on customizing it. I am also browsing the Chrome Store, looking for interesting and useful things. I will share my experience with the Chromebook and a more in depth analysis at a later date.