Archive for the ‘computers & internet’ Category
Cheri and I had some extra energy, so we hopped off the couch and went for a drive. We ended up at Fountainhead Regional Park and Occoquan Regional Park. I took the opportunity to shoot away.
We were surprised by the ham that floated up to us while we were on the pier. I think he was used to people feeding the geese at the park. I was very close to him taking this shot. I probably could have reached out to touch him.
The rest of the photos from this group can be found on my flickr.
Consumer advocacy blog, The Consumerist, used my photo of a half empty (or is it half full?) peanut butter jar in a post of theirs regarding the peanut butter salmonella scare. You can see the post here.
The Consumerist has a flickr group wherein readers can submit photos of their own for possible use in posts on The Consumerist. This is the second time one of my photos has been used. It makes me feel tingly and special :-).
I had a couple of good customer service experiences yesterday.
The first one occurred at Bed Bath and Beyond. Cheri and I had bought a Christmas gift for my Mom. Luckily, before Christmas, we found out she already had this item (a cupcake holder). So we found an alternative gift and held onto the cupcake holder. I didn’t have the receipt anymore, so I was worried that it would be a hassle trying to return it.
Despite my anxiety, I shuffled into BB&B yesterday to try to return it. The clerk at the return counter asked why I was returning the item. I told her the above tale and then explained that I no longer had the receipt — but I did have the credit card I used to purchase the item. She quickly scanned the UPC code on the item, then swiped my credit card and like magic, gave me an instant refund. No hassles, no arguing, no accusations that I was trying to fraud them, nothing of the sort. I was relieved how easy the whole exchange was and that the computer even recognized that we used one of their 20% off coupons when we bought the cupcake holder; thus giving us a refund for what we paid, not what the item was selling for. Perhaps this is one of the advantages to using a credit card (or, in my case, a check card) over cash.
My second customer service adventure occurred at the Spencers Gifts in the Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. I had received a hat from a co-worker that was a bit too small (the hat was sized S/M when I easily needed a L/XL). On a previous trip to the mall I noticed that Spencers sold the hat, so I made a mental note to take it there for an exchange. When I walked in I went straight to the counter and explained my prediciment and asked for an exchange. Without a blink, the lanky sales associate grabbed a bigger sized hat for me (since they were out of my reach), removed the security tag, and gave it to me. No receipts involved, no paperwork, no nothing. This made me very happy and I walked out the store clicking my heels.
Ever since I’ve become a huge fan of the consumer advocacy blog The Consumerist, I’ve become anxious when dealing with customer service issues. All the bad things they report over there have made me fear dealing with customer service. In reality, I should be more confident since I’m more knowledgeable because of The Consumerist. I just need to realize that not every customer service experience is going to want me to pull my hair out.
Cheri and I started the Couch to 5k beginner’s running routine this week (with inspiration from our friends Kate and Jason). Since this is our first week we alternate running for 60 seconds and walking for 90 seconds for a full 20 minutes (plus warm ups and cool downs before and after). We’ve been doing this around the lake that hides behind our apartment building. Cheri used Map My Run to determine the distance around the lake (about 0.6 miles).
The first day I think we slightly over did ourselves. We were both really huffy-puffy by the middle of our routine and struggled to finish. Today, we didn’t have much of a problem at all. I think the main reason is that we talked during our runs. Talking helped us keep a slower pace because we knew we couldn’t talk to each other if we were gasping for air (this is why drowning victims are often not very vocal).
Cheri found out that there is also a Couch to 5k podcast available on iTunes that coaches you through your routines. It seemed interesting but the music was mostly frenetic techno that wasn’t too appealing. I think we’ll keep talking while running instead.
Ever since my graduation, I’ve been taking lots of photos with my new Nikon D80. Here are some highlights from our recent camping trip to Heavenly Acres in Greene County, Virginia:
This is a shot of the South River in Greene County, Virginia. We were out there camping and we stumbled across this small river while looking for some good places for pictures. I shot this in manual mode at 90 mm, 1/3 sec SS, f/22, ISO 100. I used my tripod and the time delay setting to avoid shaking the camera while taking the long exposure. I also took this at dusk so that the image didn’t over expose. I made sure to use a small aperture to allow for a large depth of field.
While we were driving around, my father-in-law’s GPS indicated we were near Greene Acres Lake. What we found was this. For this shot, I used manual at 55 mm, 1.3 sec SS, f/18, and ISO 100. Since this was at dusk and I used a long shutter speed, I set the camera on my tripod and used the time delay to avoid any shaking. The small aperture allowed me to get most of the photo in focus.
This picture was taken at Big Meadows in the Shenandoah National Park. For this photo, I used shutter priority mode at 200 mm, 1/200 sec SS, f/29, and ISO 400. In order to get the silhouette of the tree I made sure to meter for the sky. I did this by aiming at the sky (with no tree or ground in view), pressed halfway down on my shutter button to determine the needed settings, then aimed down to get the tree and ground in view. This allowed the camera to get the sky exposed correctly while underexposing the ground to give me that silhouette.
While we were on a trail that paralleled the Rapidan River, I stumbled across an area that had a lot of bumblebees and other bugs flying around. So I crouched down, set my camera to shutter priority with a very high shutter speed (to try to freeze the motion of the flying insects), and set my camera to burst mode (to keep taking pictures as I held the shutter button down). This was one of the few shots that came out. Here I used (like I said) shutter priority, 200 mm, 1/2000 sec SS, f/8, and ISO 400. Since it was a bright day out, I also had my exposure compensation dial set to -2.
You can see the rest of the photos from our camping trip on my flickr page.
Ok, ok, status updates:
1. I graduate this Saturday.
Yup, that is right. After two years of classes learning about fingerprints, firearms, DNA, autopsies, homicides, crime scenes, and the like, I will be getting my Master of Forensic Science degree from The George Washington University. I’m feeling a tad ambivalent about it though. On one hand I’m extremely happy that I’m done with school (for probably the rest of my life). On the other hand, I’m wondering what I’m going to do with myself. I won’t have classes, homework, a job, and a life to juggle. I’m fearful that I’m going to be bored. But I have lots of hobbies I want to pursue (like my photography, guitar, and violin). Maybe I’ll actually keep updating my blog consistently (what a concept!).
2. No Remicade for Me.
I visited my GI doctor last month and he decided that it isn’t the right time for me to go on Remicade (more about Remicade here). He felt that my symptoms weren’t severe enough to warrant me going on such an extreme treatment method. Instead, he upped my 6-MP dosage. Hopefully this will slowly heal my fistula. Since the visit the pain and discomfort from my fistula has dropped a lot. I’m going to set up a visit with my colon and rectal surgeon for next month to see how it is doing and hopefully see if the drain that is set in there can be removed.
3. Flickr and Twitter Updates
I have seriously become uber-addicted to Twitter lately. I’m updating at least once a day (if not more than that sometimes). I’ve also set it up so that I can update it via SMS text messaging through my cell phone. Since I don’t have an unlimited text messaging plan with my phone company (T-Mobile), I am trying to keep myself from updating via SMS only when I’m not within reach of internet access (which is pretty rare).
I’ve also updated my flickr with a bunch of pictures. Some are from my friend Larry’s wedding and some are from Cheri’s friend Melissa’s wedding. There are also a bunch of random other images as well. Here’s one of my favorite photos from this last batch, our friend Kate (left) with Cheri (right) getting ready for Larry’s wedding: