Runcible Blog

pet peeve

pet peeve: using the word "crash" as a euphemism for "sleep."

Substituting crash for sleep doesn't make the act of sleeping any hipper, contrary to popular usage. Why is it acceptable to say, "I partied so hard that I had to crash at my friend's house," while it would be awkward to say, "my grandfather usually crashes around 6pm, after eating dinner and watching the History Channel"? In the former case, there's at least some tenuous relationship to the original definition of "crash," but people also try to stretch the meaning to apply more to situations like the latter example. For instance, if I invite someone over for tea and crumpets, and my guest is too tired to go home, he'd be silly to say, "hey, dude, may I crash here?" There's no crashing in that situation. I'm sorry. Unless you come stumbling into the door, knocking things over and peeing on the floor, you're not crashing. Perhaps you're settling in for a long winter's nap, resting your eyes, having a bit of a doze, or paying a visit to winkin' blinkin' and nod. But you, sir, are not crashing.

Instead of worrying about using the euphemism tastefully, just don't use it at all. I don't want to hear about anyone crashing unless we're talking about airplanes or automobiles. While it may not be as edgy just to sleep, the word works perfectly well on its own.

In general, I'm irked when people hijack usurp commandeer words and misuse their alternate definitions. So, knock it off, you dig?

(tune in next time for the complete list of words that Dave does not speak because they make him feel uncomfortable to hear out loud)

kicking impossible

I just finished my first week of kickboxing at Redline Fight Sports, and I'm feeling good. At first, I felt completely wrecked all over after an hour-long class, but I'm gradually recovering quicker and feeling like I got a work-out rather than a hurt-out. Kickboxing works all sorts of muscles that I never use; I had a mysterious soreness in my hip flexors that caused me to want to walk around hunched over because it was painful to straighten myself. Surprisingly, the pain went away after a couple of days of stretching and more kicking. Already, I can see an improvement in balance and flexibility.

Redline primarily teaches Sanshou/Sanda, a derivative of Kung Fu, I guess. It's very practical, with no "flying dragon" or "drunken monkey" moves and no emphasis on "qi" or anything like that. That practicality appeals to me, especially when the instructor explains the mechanics behind the technique (for instance, roundhouse kicking is all about maximizing torque from the hips and pivoting leg, not flailing the shin around). In the first class, because I didn't even know anything about absorbing a kick or punch (there's no sparring in level 1, but we pair up and hit pads), I became exhausted getting pushed off balance every time. But this last class I started to get the hang of how to hold my legs to send the force of the blow down into the floor instead of into my lower back.

I picked this martial art because I wanted to be motivated to get into shape, and running just wasn't cutting it for me. I've always lacked the motivation to run, even when I was competing. And forget about lifting weights — I feel totally foolish pushing heavy metal things around. I'm fascinated by kickboxing (and hence, motivated to continue) because it's so demanding of correct technique. I'm learning about my body in addition to training it in very specific ways. With running, technique is important, but you can get by with the worst form (and probably hurt yourself, eventually). You might even be lucky enough to run quickly without correct form. Martial arts are different; even basic punches require attention to every limb. Continually learning how to control myself keeps me interested in all of the boring stuff (push-ups, crunches, squat jumps — stuff I'd never care to do otherwise).

It might sound silly that I'm just now seeing the value of learning a martial art, but I guess I never knew the point before. On the one hand, it would have been valuable to learn something like this when I was a kid, but on the other hand, there's a high likelihood that I would have been running around in a white suit, collecting colored belts, and learning how to bow to the sensei. Besides, as a kid, I didn't care about learning how to shape my mind and body. Who does? (Hell, for a while, I used to eat at McDonald's every day after school. Yikes!)

Just about the only things I have going for me now are a history of endurance training and naturally strong legs. It will take a while to work on flexibility and building up my feeble arms, but even gradual progress is exciting to see after being used to a sedentary lifestyle. Although I'll probably never be serious enough to compete (even sparring is kind of worrisome only because I'd have to remove my nipple rings, which would be very inconvenient after almost 7 years of having them), I'd like to be good at Sanshou. That's always my advice to myself: work hard enough to be good at the things you do, or don't even bother.

what a relief

I'm so glad that Barack Obama has ended racism in America.  I can't wait to see him eliminate poverty, solve global climate change, and bring peace to the Middle East.  In his second term, he'll cure aging and bring us faster-than-light travel to the stars.

Barack Obama, you're our only hope!

missed it

missed the shot

This was a perfect moment, and I blew it. The girl was staring off with these beautiful, shining blue eyes, but you'd never know because the camera was set to -1 exposure compensation, and I exposed for the sky. The sky is 1 stop under, and she is probably 3 or 4 stops underexposed.

There are many ways to miss the shot. Usually I miss it because I wait too long, and the moment dissolves before my eyes. Someone stands in front of my subject, or the subject walks away or loses the facial expression. I've been trying to train myself not to hesitate, but then there's always the risk of screwing up the exposure or focus anyway.

It's discouraging to miss such pregnant moments, but it's not the end of the world. There will be other shining blue eyes on the T. Street photography isn't hard; it just takes an awful lot of time.

got the shot
At least in this case, I captured the moment I was looking for.

Sigma SD14

I just got a Sigma SD14 because I've been looking for a different kind of image quality, and Sigma, with their unique Foveon sensor delivers the goods.

For reasons I can't quite pin down, the output from my 40D sometimes disappoints me. I think part of the reason is that the camera companies are cramming too many pixels onto such a small chip — when I zoom in, it's a mush of speckled noise and blurry details, even when using raw. Another annoyance is the plasticky look of people. It's as if the images from that camera are too perfect; too clean. Sometimes I think I prefer the images from the 20D. Even if that's just my imagination, the 40D still isn't a huge leap from the 20D.

The SD14, however, plays in another ballpark. It's a weird camera that usually feels intuitive to use but has some major flaws (like an almost totally useless LCD screen, and glacial speed when writing raw files). Where it seems to shine is in color detail and dynamic range. It captures color carefully, and at low ISOs, the images are razor sharp. Image noise isn't too bad, and when it does show up, it's smooth and grain-like instead of blotchy and inconsistent.

Tonight I wandered around MIT, getting lost in the infinite corridor looking for nice colors. I'll have some more photos up soon, including some in daylight, where the Sigma should really shine.

This odd little bugger might just help me renew some photographic motivation.


click images to enlarge with fancy lightbox effect