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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Big D

Ten days in Dallas. After eight months away. Many things have remained the same, the way I remembered them. Although there have been quite a lot of changes at work, but the people are more or less the same, the familiar faces and voices, the building in which I've spent 40 hours per week (probably more) for 5 years before I left. I could drive there with my eyes closed. The familiar route from home. My house. Still look the same from the outside. As for the inside, it feels different. The furniture hasn't moved much, it's cleaner and neater (preparing the house for sale), but something is missing. Something has left. Love. No more. It's an empty shell now. What has changed? I have changed. I think I have changed so much, everything else looks stagnant in comparison. Like time has stood still while I was in Finland. But what is the thing that changed most in me? It's not the weight loss although that's the first thing people notice. I can't put my finger on it either. For sure there were a couple people during this time that has turned my life around. Not necessarily for better or for worse, but just changed the course of my life. I don't know what I want anymore. I have always been sure of myself, but out of a sudden, I'm lost. Why? Because no matter where I turn, I can't seem to get what I want. Don't get me wrong, I am very, very appreciative of the things and people in my life. I know that compared to a lot of people, I am so fortunate and blessed. However, what I desire most, I can't have. What will make my dream come true, my life complete, is not mine for the taking. At least I have had a taste of the possibilities. But perhaps I'd have been better off not knowing?

Several people have commented that they have been checking out my blog from time to time, to see how I'm doing. And sad to say that I've disappointed them, for I haven't been blogging much (if at all). I thought maybe I could make it up by including my "microblogs" (Jaikus) here, but it's not the same. I'll try to blog more, but no promises.

I did miss the food in Dallas, or should I say, the variety of food in Dallas. I've had Thai, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Italian, Tex Mex, Vietnamese, and more over the past few days. Perhaps more so, I miss the people that I've shared a part of my life with here. I hope they remember me as fondly as I remember them...

cybette wrote this at 03:08 AM ... Comments (0)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tour of Riika (Riga), Latvia

A weekend getaway. Riga is only an hour flight from Tampere on Ryanair. Dodo Hotel is clean, cheap, new, provides free wifi, delicious french pancakes for breakfast (pay a little extra), and quite central to the city center. We walked a lot for those two days, absorbing the gorgeous sights Riga had to offer. Women there were beautiful, and wore really high heels (I don't know how they do that on cobblestoned streets, my feet ached from walking on those streets and I was wearing sneakers!).

Food: had so-so lunches of Korean and Japanese cuisines, but dinner at a Latvian restaurant called Staburags was simply awesome. I had pork chops stuffed with apple and red bilberries (sounds weired but totally delicious), with a side of grandma style potatoes (mmmmm....). S had a bloody steak with a side of sauerkraut which i stole a big portion of, because it was really good! I don't usually like sauerkraut, and he says it tasted like home. We then chilled with a bottle of spanish wine.

The trip ended on a high note when S met his girlfriend (unplanned) while waiting for the bus home in Tampere keskustori. Well, good for him at least, while I came home and nursed my aching feet :P

(Haven't finished uploading the pics... took quite a lot. Plus need to upload those from S as well. Check back in the near future for updates if you're interested...)

cybette wrote this at 05:55 AM ... Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A hairy affair

I'll let my Flickr pics tell the story (click on them for descriptions and details etc.)

Hair dilemma

Hair dilemma: long? short? something in between?

Possible new do?

Possible new do? decisions... decisions...

Bye bye old hairstyle - front

Bye bye old hairstyle - front - day before the cut

Bye bye old hairstyle - back

Bye bye old hairstyle - back - day before the cut

My new hairdo!!!

My new hairdo!!!

cybette wrote this at 10:19 PM ... Comments (0)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Snow White Queen

Was listening to this song (of Evanescence's TOD album) and it conjured up images of snowy wintery places... but instead of white and bright, it was really more gloomy and dreary. Cold. Bleak. Maybe it's just the song?

It doesn't get too cold during winters in Dallas (although for me anything below 60F/15C can be considered cold. My body grew up in Singapore afterall.) And it almost never snows! So with the aforementioned imagery in my mind, I tried to find some photos I've taken that reflect the scene, but not much turned up from around here. (This is pretty close though.) Instinctively I gravitated to the pics I took on my two trips to Finland. First time was in a November, the start of winter, with the first snowfalls. Just below freezing and quite pleasant actually. The picture below left was from the second trip in a February. Full blast of cold and snow at 0F/-18C.

Winter WonderlandMy wedding dress - negativeMy wedding dress

It stopped snowing enough for us to take a walk (during lunch break) and snap some pictures. I was ironclad with a cashmere sweater and long wool coat plus snow boots and a really warm fuzzy hat that kept my ears covered (although they still felt like they were going to fall off).

Then I was reminded of another February trip taken four years back. That was to Las Vegas, and while it wasn't freezing, it was cool enough to warrant a medium jacket. But for a couple hours there I was completely unaffected by the temperature and was sans outerwear/sweater etc. Why? I was getting married, and didn't want anything to cover up my beautiful wedding dress! Look, my arm was blue from the cold, but I really don't remember feeling it. Perhaps it was adrenaline, or maybe just my memory failing me....

No? I didn't fool you with the blue arm? Darn, that would have given me the "something blue" that I think I lacked. Not to mention a kick-ass gown with black tulle. But it worked out well... I adore the lilac, and was actually kinda disappointed when the photographer's pictures came back depicting it as light blue instead! Dude, learn to adjust the white balance! He was still using film, so no instant feedback about the results, but still no excuse for a professional right? The above photo was taken after the event with my own (and my first) digital camera: the Oly UZi (2100). Till this day I miss it. It was faithful... especially in color reproduction. Sure, I've had 3 more digital cameras after that, including my current one with bigger zoom and more megapixels and all that jazz, but the first one will always have a special place in my heart. Along with my first cell phone, first laptop, first PDA, first computer, first car.... huh? What do you mean those are not the first loves people usually talk about? Oh ok now I remember, my true first love is the one I met back when I was a teenager. Before I had all the hi-tech stuff above...

... how excited I was when my dad (of all people) introduced him to me. On my 15th birthday. How hesitant and nervous I was during the initial getting-to-know-you period, but as time passed I grew bolder and took him everywhere with me, proudly showing him off. I fondled him whenever I had a chance, not caring if anyone was looking. In fact, he is living under the same roof with Bruce and me. He is.... ok ok ok IT is.... my Minolta 35mm SLR!!!! What a wave of nostalgia (and maybe a sigh of relief from my readers?) -- now I want to load it up with some film and play with it again. There's something magical in the anticipation of getting your film developed and having to wait to see the results.

Guess I have to thank my dad for turning me on to photography. And, well, thanks to our wedding photographer for giving me "something blue" after all. As for most of the "something new", hmmm maybe all of it, I got them on ebay. Seriously... from my dress to the veil/tiara/accessories. My husband-to-be on the other hand went into a brick-and-mortar store to get his suit! And he got it fitted and altered. Who's the bride here now? It's a long-running joke between us that "beauty and the geek" refers to him and me respectively. He wanted to get me an engagement ring with the antique mine cut (in case you didn't know, Bruce is kinda old..... fashioned), and I showed him how to research online, and we ended up getting one on, where else but, ebay! I did the research and booking for the rest of the stuff online too: chapel, photographer, air tickets + hotel, show tickets, Megan and Marc ;) We might as well have had the whole wedding online.

Haven't decided what we're going to do for our 4th anniversary, although I have something in mind to wear, and guess what, I got it on(dotted)line!

cybette wrote this at 06:20 AM ... Comments (0)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas and other celebrations

Nokia Year-End Party 2006

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

You can help a child in need by sending Season's Greetings E-cards! For each card sent, Nokia will make a donation to UNICEF.

Recently, my sister and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary... of living in Dallas that is. Wow, time flies. Hmm, what have I accomplished in the past decade? Two degrees, an interesting job, a wonderful husband, close to 50 trips, around 30 performances, more than 12000 pics with 4 digital cameras (from the last 5 years or so), and 25 extra pounds (mostly from the first 5 years here). Sure there were many frustrations, heartbreaks and other setbacks along the way mixed in with sweat and tears, but at the end of the day, I look back and remember mainly the good times.

Most of all I'm grateful for having the greatest friends and family to share my life with, through ups as well as downs, no matter they're here in Dallas or Taiwan or Singapore or cyberspace... thank you, all of you.

I'm happy for my sister as well, as she finally got her work visa approval letter the same day as the anniversary. Double celebration! Next on the list: find her a nice boyfriend... ;)

What are my goals for the coming decade? Hopefully finishing my PhD, advance in my career, get my pilot's license, and see more of the world while always keeping and strengthening the ties between me and those I love. Oh, and maybe losing those extra pounds...

Discovery Flight Hot pink boots

For Christmas, Evana gave me something to start the ball rolling towards one of my goals! And in return is a gift of happy feet - gorgeous Coach boots. Aren't they hot? I'd probably have kept them for myself if they were in my size... well, let's hope the boots bring her luck in her (love) life!

cybette wrote this at 03:00 AM ... Comments (5)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Red and white (!= Pink) gadgets

Picoblogger on Nokia N73 Seeing RED Picture in picture

I like this color combination. The red (or maroon in the case of my Averatec notebook) is bold yet feminine, and (thanks to Apple and its iPods) white is the new black/silver for gadgets. My sister would love everything in pink but that's not quite my style. This red+white however, I dig. The first pic shows Picoblogger running on Nokia N73. This is the software that allows me to moblog on the go. The N73 is also quad-band, which means it includes Cingular's 850Mhz band, which means that I'll have less signal loss (the problem I had when I was using the tri-band 6630 / N93). Which means I have no more excuses for missing calls now. Hmm.

cybette wrote this at 03:30 AM ... Comments (4)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

How to reduce blur in pictures

Not everyone is a professional photographer (at least I'm not). But with the available "post processing" tools in even the most basic photo editing software, you can do a lot of things with your less-than-ideal pictures, like: reduce noise, compensate for over- or under-exposed shots, and correct colours when you forgot to adjust the white-balance before taking the pictures. However, one thing that is very hard, or rather almost impossible, to fix is a blurry picture. This is when you have to think ahead, to "pre process" the shot before it happens. Here are some suggestions, mostly from my own experience, which I hope you'd find useful in helping you capture sharper photos!

  • Get a camera with image stabilization feature. This is especially important if you use zoom because any camera shake is amplified by the magnitude of the zoom accordingly. But even without zoom, it is still very useful. Most Panasonic cameras have this feature.
  • Use the flash, even in daylight. I'm not a big flash user, because sometimes I think the images turn out harsh and unnatural looking (plus flash can be distracting depending on the situation, and then you might have the issue of red-eyes to deal with). But in some cases you're really better off using it, like in extremely low light, or bright outdoors where your subjects are backlit casting shadows on their faces. Some cameras, like my Panasonic FZ20, allows you to adjust the intensity of the flash, so you can get enough light to make a clear picture, but not too much to make it harsh.
  • If your camera has shutter priority mode, you can adjust the shutter speed higher (i.e. faster). This will work well if you have ample light but might result in an under-exposed picture indoors or at night.
  • To allow more light in at high shutter speeds, usually the sensitivity (ISO setting) is increased (some cameras allow you to adjust this too). However, this might increase the noise of the shots. Certain cameras have built-in noise reduction, and some even let you adjust how much (like my FZ20, again... lest I keep repeating myself, I'm just going to say right here that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 has pretty much all the features I'm gonna mention here.)
  • Try the "burst" or "continuous" mode on your camera, if available. It will take a few shots in a row (the frame rate and number of shots depend on your camera's capability). Having more pictures increases your chance of getting a good, clear one that you like. You can always delete the rest.
  • I realize that many cameras don't have that much manual controls. But nowadays, many point-and-shoots will have something called the "best shot modes" or "scene modes". E.g. portrait, scenery, fireworks... and they automatically adjust the shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and even flash settings for you according to the mode you choose. Casio Exilim has some of the best (and easiest to use) modes I've seen, so I like to recommend their cameras even though their image quality is not always the best. But it's such a fun camera, you'll end up enjoying taking pictures and taking more shots, and I think that's more important than taking perfect photos every time (remember, I'm not a pro, and I'm thinking that most people reading this aren't either). But where was I... oh yeah, choose the "Sports" mode if your subject is moving around a lot. Or there might be a "Panning" mode, which works best when your subject is moving fast along one specific direction.
  • Sometimes, blur is caused not so much by camera shake or subject movement, but by lack of focus. Usually it is harder to focus in low light. The "AF illuminator", or "Focus assist lamp" will come in handy here (again, if your camera has it). The camera sends a beam of light (usually red, sometimes infrared) to help pick up the focus. It is not as intrusive as the flash, but can still be distracting. Once I used it at a concert that didn't allow flash photography. But when people on stage started to look uneasily in my direction, I quickly turned the AF assist light off. I guess some might be thinking it was a laser beam from a gun pointing at them... haha... ok, my bad, shouldn't laugh at that.
  • Another way is to pre-focus before taking the picture. This is achieved by pressing the shutter release button halfway, to "lock" the focus on your subject. I have tried this successfully with, for example, a flower swaying every which way in the wind. By first locking the focus, the "wild" flower can generally be "tamed". There are other uses for the halfway shutter release, like exposure lock. But that's info for future topic(s?)

A few other things you can consider / keep in mind:

  • Drink less caffeine, so your hands will shake less when holding the camera!
  • If possible, ask your subject to stop moving.
  • RTFM, I mean, read the fine manual :) Honestly, I haven't even begun to use my cameras to their full potential. But it really helps to read through the manual, to at least know what your camera is capable of. You might be surprised... nowadays they pack a ton of features into miniscule cameras. A lot of times I read reviews of people complaining that a certain camera takes lousy pictures. But I have the same/similar camera and don't see some of the problems they mention. Therefore, I say, go RTFM!
  • If all else fails, gather all your blurry pictures together, and put them in your "artistic shots" collection. Tell everyone, they are blurred for art's sake. Heck, some professionals adjust all kinds of settings on their cameras in order to take that perfectly blurred shot, while you did it effortlessly!

In conclusion, I think Panasonic needs to start paying me commission. Gloria and I have had Panasonic cameras for a while now, and last year I recommended the FX9 (along with a few other cameras) to one of my managers and he bought it, Megan just bought the FZ20, Niu's going to buy the FX01, which my sister and I are also considering (or rather, drooling over), and which I just suggested to another co-worker who is looking for a camera under $300. Plus Jessie's thinking of upgrading her camera... guess what I would recommend to her?? Just to clarify, I do NOT work for Panasonic!! And I have included Casios and Canons in my recommendations (because I've also owned these cameras before), but people somehow end up choosing the Panasonic :)

cybette wrote this at 05:19 PM ... Comments (4)

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Independence Day 2005

fireworks-2005-07-04.jpg

Celebrated Independence Day, first at Cindy's place in Wylie on the 3rd, and then with Gloria and Niu in Richardson's Breckinridge park on the 4th. That's close to Murphy almost reaching Wylie but not quite that far. Photos of fireworks etc., here. Also uploaded more photos of: Cozumel trip, my new Nissan Altima, and the Judas Priest concert.

cybette wrote this at 11:53 PM ... Comments (1)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Online albums update

Finally finished uploading a bunch of pictures to photos.cybette.com. There are still tons more I'm working on (Cozumel, New York... plus going back in time to pictures from 2002-2004). I'll be doing them gradually (and consistently, hopefully...) and will update my progress under "Photo Show" in the left column on the main page of my blog.

collage_cruise.jpg
A collage of pictures from the Florida trip and Cruise.

So anyway, the latest albums that I've added are: Las Vegas trip, Florida and Bahamas trip, Bruce's Birthday and Paris trip. Enjoy!

cybette wrote this at 06:56 PM ... Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Bubbles, Steve Vai, Moblog, Z3

Photos from blowing bubbles with Gloria, Niu and Keidy

Photos from Steve Vai concert with Bruce

Started a Moblog with pictures taken with my Nokia 6630

Broke my Casio Exilim Z3 last Saturday when we were celebrating Bruce's birthday at III Forks - dropped it on the floor... Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.... I have taken more than 3000 pictures with this camera. Gonna miss it...

Told Bruce, "hey honey, for YOUR birthday, I'm going to buy ME a camera!!"

And he said OK. Gotta love this guy.

cybette wrote this at 04:31 AM ... Comments (5)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Puppies everywhere

Was using these as background images (switching between them randomly). Too messy so removed them as bg. But too cute to just toss them so here they are.

red puppies purple puppies blue puppies

The original picture was taken in FAO Schwarz store on our Vegas trip last December.

Went to Galleria with Evana yesterday. SPCA was there (somehow had a premonition they'd be there too). Saw this beautiful collie / golden retriever mix called Lily. So tempted to bring her home. She was sleeping at first so we decided to walk around and come back later to play with her. But when we returned, she was gone, probably adopted. Of course... such a beautiful dog... if she was still there I'd probably have brought her home.

cybette wrote this at 04:13 AM ... Comments (3)

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Home improvement + some photos

Couple of days ago our heater stopped working, and the temperature in the house dropped below 60. It wasn't the cold that bothered me so much (although I do get cold easily and don't deal well with it sometimes), but the possibility that we'd have to spend thousands to replace the heater. We already have to pay thousands in property tax by the end of January, plus we're taking out a home improvement loan of another 10-12k for some exterior work done to the house, fence, and backyard etc. It's true that mortgage payments are not that much more than paying rent, and that we are building equity; but all these other expenses add up REALLY quickly, easily making it 3-4 times more than paying rent. When you are on rental property, you don't have to worry about paying to repair the heater, you don't have to worry about paying property taxes, you also don't have the stress of dealing with all these stuffs. Oh well, I guess these are the "joys" of home ownership....

Luckily for us, it turns out that only the thermostat broke, but the heating system is still fine (for now). So we had to pay a couple hundred dollars for a new thermostat + installation, instead of thousands. For that I'm thankful.

So anyway, while the heater was down, I had to keep myself warm. Thus I had my laptop on my lap all day. Usually I complain about the laptop getting too hot, but for the past two days it was definitely welcome. And with that, I finally sorted and uploaded some of the pictures I've taken recently: photos.cybette.com. These include my trip to Finland, my cousin Wayne's wedding in Taiwan, and Gloria & I having fun in the snow last week. (Gloria, I enabled the download/supersize option for those pics, so you can download the originals!)

Haven't done going through the photos from the Vegas trip Bruce and I just took over Christmas break, so have to upload them later. Also was going to write something about the Asia Tsunami situation, but maybe I'll do that on my .org site.

cybette wrote this at 01:19 AM ... Comments (0)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Funky cars, new camera

While driving home today, I saw a blue car to my right on LBJ, and it had a beige coloured door (driver side). It was a Saturn (not sure what model, probably Ion). So I thought, ok, this guy probably got in a minor accident and had to replace his door but haven't painted it yet or something. Then shortly after that, on Preston road, another Saturn passed me on my left. This one had a gold tone coloured body but the front passenger door was red! Now I wonder, is Saturn starting a new trend of mis-matching car doors and bodies? Maybe I'll see different coloured hoods next?

I'm sure it's just a coincidence, but seeing two mis-matched cars within a couple minutes of each other, both Saturn... uncanny.

Anyway.................... I GOT A NEW CAMERA! Ahh... well, it's neither the 8MP Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom nor the 6MP Casio Exilim EX-P600 that I was considering earlier on. It's the 5MP Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20!!! Sure, it doesn't have as many pixels as the other two (I don't think I'll be printing poster sized pictures anyway), but it has what counts: 12x optical zoom and OIS (= Optical Image Stabilizer)! The main thing that prevented me from rushing out and getting the Oly 8080 was the fact that it only had 5x zoom and no stabilization.

Now my dilemma is whether to sell my beloved and trusted Oly 2100 UZi, which spoilt me rotton with it's 10x zoom and IS despite being only 2MP. I've taken over 3600 shots with it in the past 2.5 years. Ok, so I've also taken almost 3000 pics with my Casio Z3 since last May, but that's only because the Z3 is ultra-compact and I carry it with me everywhere. I can't exactly fit the UZi in my pocket. While my Z3 takes pretty decent pictures under certain conditions, my UZi takes great pictures under almost all conditions. I hope the FZ20 will meet and surpass the high standards set by its predecessor!

I think many UZi owners are happy that FINALLY, someone has heard our requests and acted upon it. Hats off to Panasonic for coming up with the FZ cameras. Why Olympus never produced a successor to one of its own best cameras is beyond me. Ok, I'm going to stop writing now and play with my new Z-toy... (what's with all the Z's: UZi, Z3, FZ20, 350Z... ok the last one is not a camera but my dream car, but NO mis-matched doors please! All these ZZZzzz talk... make me want to catch some Z's now....)

cybette wrote this at 06:09 AM ... Comments (3)

Monday, October 04, 2004

State Fair 2004

Went with Karen, Jessie and Alice this year. Great weather. Ate a lot, saw a lot of stuff, took a lot of pictures. Went on one exhilarating ride. Would have loved to go on more... maybe will go to Six Flags sometime... when I find the time.

cybette wrote this at 01:05 AM ... Comments (3)

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Sting in Concert

Free tickets ($120 each) and a chance to meet Sting in person and take pictures with his arm around my shoulders.... ah.. what an experience. A little too tired (plus a headache) to really enjoy and remember what was happening though. Sad.

Anyway, the concert was a blast. Annie Lennox was the opening act. She's much better than I expected. But when Sting came on, that's something else. The great singing, the ever changing back drops (really beautiful too, I wish I had taken more pictures of them), the two drummers going back and forth...

Oh well, a few pics if anyone's interested...

cybette wrote this at 02:18 AM ... Comments (1)

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Taste of Dallas

Taste of Dallas 2004
We went to the Taste of Dallas last weekend. It wasn't too terribly hot and we had a great time. This event has special meaning for Bruce and I because this is where we had our first kiss ;-) Anyway, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I've added captions to make them more interesting. There are pictures of Hummers too! (Jessie, just for you!)

Speaking of not too terribly hot, we're being cooked right now. Our air conditioning stopped working... not sure what's wrong. We have to call someone in to look at it but have to wait until during the week. So this whole weekend, we have free sauna right here at home!

cybette wrote this at 12:10 PM ... Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Happy Independence Day

We went to Addison Kaboom Town on July 3rd and had a blast. The evening included Historic warplane flyovers by Cavanaugh Flight Museum followed by fireworks choreographed to music simulcast on 99.5 the Wolf. We ate at Outback Steakhouse and had great food + great view of everything + great company. Check out the pics here. I've even created a fireworks clip here (about 3MB).

Fireworks

Following day we went to Sneaky Pete's by Lake Lewisville with people from work. It would have been more fun if I wasn't so tired. I still enjoyed myself as much as I could. It was also Miikka Tuppurainen's birthday. Hope he had a great time in a foreign land! Oh yeah, more pics here.

cybette wrote this at 03:00 AM ... Comments (2)

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Not 2.2 but 22 Megapixels!

Just came across a review of a medium format back, the Phase One P25. It's a 22 megapixel digital back for medium format cameras, and has a whopping list price of $29,990! That's a picture of it on the left, and by the way, camera not included. The Hasselblad will probably set you back another $5000! Man, these things don't come cheap do they?

Phase One P25 & Casio Exilim P600

Well, the last time I mentioned about the Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom which is on my wish list (wistful wish) and an upgrade for my Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom. Now Casio has come up with something new and exciting, not quite 8MP but 6MP, the Casio Exilim EX-P600 shown on the right, which could be an upgrade for my Casio Exilim EX-Z3. It's also more affordable and portable than the Oly. PC Mag gave it a great review. Hmm, tempting. Bad, bad Carol. Stop thinking about cameras and go to bed. Don't stay up all night and then complain about being tired. Still have to work this weekend, maybe. Oh well.

cybette wrote this at 02:53 AM ... Comments (0)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Some pictures, some updates

Last week I spent 40+ hours in school, 20+ hours at work. Even went in to work over the weekend. I thought perhaps after that crazy week, I'd have a chance to catch my breath this week. Well, monday and tuesday were still ok... on Wednesday, I left home in the morning around 6am, and did not get home again until 7:30pm. Ok, I spent an hour lunch at grandma's place, plus another hour+ driving to/back there, but still... Today, I spent 10 hours at work and did not even have time to eat lunch. I barely had time for bathroom breaks. I keep telling myself, it's good that I have so much work to do, that means I have a job. I'm also getting more responsibilities at work which is a good thing. And the project I'm working on, it almost got cancelled a few weeks ago. But now it's got extra funding and is one of the top priority projects! Hopefully that'll mean good news for me... but in the meantime, I guess I just have to work harder to prove my worth.

Finally had a chance to sort through the pictures we took on our Taiwan trip. Click on the lovely picture of my parents (or rather the picture of my lovely parents) to see the online album. I wanted to add captions to the pics but just couldn't find the time. So anyway... hope you'll enjoy them nevertheless!

My lovely parents

cybette wrote this at 07:24 PM ... Comments (0)

Friday, June 18, 2004

Computational Logic Summer School

The 2nd International Compulog/ALP Summer School in Computational Logic (website) held at The University of Texas at Dallas from June 14 to June 17, 2004.

Here are a couple of pictures taken after the last lecture on the 17th (click to enlarge)

summerschool1.jpg summerschool2.jpg

cybette wrote this at 03:16 AM ... Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

ZZZzzzz toys

Previously my dream car was a Nissan 300Z (although the new 350Z kicks some serious ass too). Now I have my eyes on the BMW Z3 Roadster... such a cool ride. Ahh.... a girl can only dream.

BMW Z3 Roadster

Well, I content myself with having an Exilim Z3... no, not a car, a digital camera!

cybette wrote this at 02:37 AM ... Comments (3)

Monday, May 10, 2004

Photo talk

Photo tip of the day: Do not put a person's head in the middle of the frame! This might sound counter-intuitive... don't you want your subject to be in the middle, the main focal point? Well, when you put a head (or a group of heads) in the middle of the picture, it naturally divides the the picture into two halves. The bottom half is nice, you get part of that person's body (or group of bodies). Then look at the top half. Usually it's a plain wall or a clear sky, i.e. BORING! Also a waste of picture space! Unless, of course, the background is a beautiful sunset or some interesting building or structure... but if you're just taking pictures of people, why not capture the pretty skirt / cool pants they are wearing? Better yet, include the shoes! Try it... next time, keep the head(s) to the top when you frame the picture. It'll instantly improve your shots and make them look better! I know because I learnt from my own mistakes!

olympus-c8080wz.jpg

Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom: Reeeeally cool camera. Probably won't be getting it, at least not anytime soon... need to save up for it and also improve my photography skills so that I "deserve" it more. Anyway it's got an 8 megapixel sensor, 28mm wide angle lens, excellent image quality (at least from the reviews I've read), and LOTS of features. Too bad it only comes with a 5x optical zoom and no image stabilization. (My Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom, while being only 2.1 megapixels, has 10x zoom as well as image stabilization.) With those two features added, the 8080 will be my dream camera. Ok, ok, it's still pretty dreamy the way it is. Besides, with such high resolution, 5x zoom is probably sufficient, and the antishake is not that crucial at 5x (compared to at 10x - really crucial). What about a digital SLR? Well, an entry level D-SLR is only a couple hundred dollars more, but with additional lenses and flash etc., it quickly adds up. I'm not that "pro" (nor rich) to justify such expenses. Also, I already have 2 Minolta film SLRs that I can play with... (actually, I don't even know one of them very well, need to spend more time with it). Ahhh... so many cameras, so little time!

cybette wrote this at 02:20 AM ... Comments (1)

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Past concerts, upcoming concerts

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These pictures were taken during the Prince "Musicology Tour" concert that we (Bruce, Bonnie and I) went to on April 2nd. Cameras weren't allowed in, but I managed to sneak in my Exilim Z3. And I happily took tons of pics until about 2/3 of the way into the concert, a security personnel tapped my shoulder and asked me to stop taking pictures. Luckily she did not confiscate my camera... I mean, what's the big deal? I'm not gonna sell the pictures and make money off of them. Even if I wanted to, they aren't of professional quality anyway (a lot of them turned out blurry). It's not like I brought in a whole set up of tripods with powerful telephoto lenses... we paid quite a bit of money for the tickets, and with me getting more and more forgetful, I just wanted to have some visual memories of the concert, albeit blurry ones.

As for the concert, I TOTALLY ENJOYED IT. Actually I'm not a Prince fan. I kinda know some of his music, but never bought his album or anything. However, from the get go, I was drawn in by his natural charm and mesmerizing performance. He's a really good entertainer. There are those who can sing, and then there are those who can ENTERTAIN. Those belonging to the latter group really accentuate the difference between listening to a CD and going to a live concert (even if the CD is a "live in concert" CD!).

Now onto a different genre of music, Bruce and I went to the Dmitri and Anita Ratser piano concert at UTD last weekend. I saw Dmitri Ratser a couple of times, about 5-6 years ago. This time he's joined by his daughter Anita. They played works by Rachmaninoff, probably one of the toughest composers to play, besides Liszt. Anita was just as good, if not better, than her father. My favorite part of the program was "Phantasie" for two pianos... WOW is all I can say. Wow wow wow. I only wish I was half as good as them... or even a quarter!

This friday, the 30th, I'm singing in the Choral Concert featuring works by Finzi and Bach. The piece by Finzi is one of the most interesting choral pieces that I've sung. It's a free concert, so please come if you can! And I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I will!

The following day, on May 1st, I'll be going to the Musica Nova concert. I was supposed to guest play for them as a percussionist, but I think they changed the program or something so I'm not needed anymore. Which is also good, because for once I can enjoy this concert as an audience rather than a performer. Hmm, from Monteverdi to Poulenc to Rodriguez... this will be an interesting concert as well! Oh, and did I mention that it's also free admission??

?W????????O??M Bruce ?M?L?f?f?h?? Prince ?? "Musicology" ?t??|???C???????????a????J?????M??????O????????? Z3 ???????a?i?h?F?C?M????b???}?}???????r????M?????@????????F?????H?@?U?M?s????????C??n?o?S???S?????????C?????????j???F???S??S???|???o?????h???M?q?????Q?M?N????Q?M?o???h????k?S?S?????????]???F?X????C?t??|?????]???K?y?M??]?V??V????M?u?O?Q???????????}?F(?N???O??k??????)?C

????t??|?????M??D?`???w?C????O Prince ???q?g?M?u??L?L?X???q?M?]?q??S???R?L?L??????C?????t?@?}?l??N?Q?L?g???F?M?L????x??(stage presense ?O?o??????S)??y?O?C????H?|??q?M????H?|???t?C?o??|???t???H?M?~?u?????o?X?{???t??|?M?????????P?C

?A??O???t?@?????(?j????)?MBruce ?M??W??g???h? Dmitri and Anita Ratser ?????^?t???C?????~?e???L Dmitri Ratser ???M?o???L?k???M?L?@?_?W?O?t?X?C?L??u?F Rachmaninoff (??J?g?????S)???@??@?~?M?i?H???O?????S???~???????I???@???a?CAnita ?u???u?n?M?X?G???o??????F?`?C?????w???O??????^?u???? "Phantasie"?C???F???z?T????L??i???C??u???????L??@?b?n?M??|?????@??]?????F?T

?o??P??????|??[?????X?????t??|?C??????@?~?]?A Finzi ?M??????CFinzi ?o?@???l??D?`?Y???M???O???L???X????l?????????S?O???C?t??|?O?K?O?????M????A?????M?]????A??|???w?T

?P??????|?h?? Musica Nova ?t???|?C?????O?n???L???????????M??????L??n???@?F?@?????M?N????n??F?C?o??]?n?M??N?i?H?H?[??????????Y???o?t???|?M?????H?e?j?????O?H???t????????C?o??]?O?K?O?J???????T?j?a?@?_??? Monteverdi, Poulenc ?M Rodriguez ???????@?~?a?T

cybette wrote this at 02:26 AM ... Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Charmed

Here, here, everyone come and have some Lucky Charms! Hope it brings luck to whatever you're pursuing... love, career, health, wealth, family, friendship, school, work...

cereal-luckycharms.jpg

???M?j?a??Y?I?????B???T????a???A?n?B?M????A?l?D???O????... ?R???M??~?M???d?M???]?M?a?x?M????M??~?M?u?@...

cybette wrote this at 02:03 AM ... Comments (8)

Friday, April 09, 2004

Three Musketeers

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Me & Jessie & Gloria @ Sounds of Class 2003

cybette wrote this at 05:58 PM ... Comments (0)

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Pictures Galore

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First up is my dearest loveliest sister Evana. We were having lunch at Steak n Shake last week on St. Patrick's Day. Thus the green thing (what do you call that?) around her neck. Given to her by some cute guy in Chamber Singers class (why I never get stuff like that from cute guys?!?!?!)

?????O????R??i?R???f?f Evana ?C?o?O???W???? St. Patricks' Day ???@??bSteak n Shake ?Y???\???????M?]???o???l?W???F?@??????F?F(???s??????S)?C????F?F?O???X??????@???????o???? (?????\??N?S???o???A?J?!?!?!)

orchids-five.jpg

Went to the nursery (no not the baby kind! The plants and flowers kind!) with Bruce last weekend. I like orchids. Won't know how to grow and rear them, so just take pictures of them. When Bruce gets a greenhouse he'll probably get some orchids to cultivate. But most likely passion flowers though. Or both.

?W??g???M Bruce ?h?F?@?? nursery (???O?U????T?O??????????????T)?C?Z???w?????M?????|???M?u??????????C??Q Bruce ?H?????????M????|???i?@???????a?M???O passion flowers (?E???????)?M????????|???C

orchids-seven.jpg

Bruce's best friend Stuart is in town (from Chicago), and yesterday we went to III Forks for dinner. It was Bruce's birthday last Sunday and Stuart's birthday today (plus Pete's birthday last month and Terry's birthday next month) so it's kinda like a big birthday bash for everyone (or rather all the guys).

Bruce ???n?B?? Stuart ?q??[?????F?????M?Q????h III Forks ?\?U?Y???C???n?W??P????O Bruce ??????M????O Stuart ??????M?M?? Pete ??????b?W????M??? Terry ??????O?U????M??H?O????j?a(????k?h??)?y??????j?????C

3forks-people.jpg
Front: Terry, Karen, Stuart, Pete
Back: Bruce, Carol (me! me!)

III Forks is an expensive restaurant, even slightly more expensive than the Antares restaurant on top of the Reunion Tower that Bruce and I went to for our anniversary dinner. However, the food and the service is like 100 times better!!! Oh my god... the III Fork Pepper Steak I ordered was.... incredible... succulent... spicy... juicy... yummy... can't find the words to describe it... ok, found it: PERFECT. Even the sides were good, from the cream corn and mashed potatoes to the snow peas and tomatoes. Everything is prepared to perfection. Nothing mediocre. The service is also top notch. Wonder when we'll go again... ahhhhh need to find a job and make $$$$ so I can go III Forks every week!!

?b III Forks ?\?U?Y???o??????M????M Bruce ?y???g?~?????h Reunion Tower ?? Antares ?\?U??Q?@?I?C???L?????M?A??o?n?W?@????T???I????P?J?????n... ?n?Y... ?h??... ?n?Y... (????????Q?`)... ??????e????y?z???C???M?????F?R?????C???t???]?n?Y?M?q???o???M?????d?????M???X?M?@?????W?W???M?S?????q???????M?s?A??]???K?K(????????e???F??T)?C?????D?????????????|?A?h..... ????M??n????????u?@??h?h????$$$ ?n????C???????i?H?h III Forks!!

3forks-food.jpg

Here's me sneaking a picture of the food on my plate. Such an upscale restaurant, and me taking pictures of my food! Heheh.... the picture doesn't even come close to portraying how delicious the meal was. Drool~~~

?o?O?????????????C???????????\?]?M?M????b?o?????????T?H?H... ?o?????O????X??????D?N?O?F?C?y?f????~~~

cybette wrote this at 10:13 AM ... Comments (2)

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Zucchini who?


Went to the groceries today and saw the colorful bell peppers. Really like the orange ones. So pretty. Decided to take a picture of them. Saw the zucchinis beside the peppers, and had no idea what they are (much less how to cook them since, for those who know me, I can't cook). But as they look so cute, couldn't help but to take a picture of them too. People around me must be wondering why I was taking pictures of vegetables. Crazy girl. Oh well.

P/S. Tonight Bruce cooked the orange bell pepper in a dish and it tasted
great! Yum...

????h?W???R?F???M????o????C????????C?D?`???w????????M?n?A?R?M?N?M?w???X??????U??C?b?????????? "zucchini"?M??????????O?????F??(???O???????h?N?X?@?D????F?M?]??????i??O?@???q????)?M????d?r???~???D?????O???L?n????C??L??????i?R?M??????S???F?@?i????C?b???????L???H?@?w?_?????????????????????M?@??????M?{????q??F....

P/S. ??????|?????????????N?F?@?D???M???????n?Y?T

cybette wrote this at 05:51 PM ... Comments (1)

Saturday, February 14, 2004

It's snowing!!!

Although Dallas do get cold during the winter time, it hardly ever snows. Usually we get ice or sleet and that's not fun and not pretty like snow. But today, on Valentine's Day, it snowed! It was coming down pretty hard during the early morning hours. Now it's more like rain outside, and the snow has melted some. But I managed to get a picture of this through the window around 8 a.m. when it was still snowing strong:

snowy-valentines.jpg

In the afternoon, when the snow has slowed down some, I went out and took more pictures. And of course, I had to ask Bruce to take a picture of me with the white background. I also took pics of him...

On an unrelated note, Cathy is engaged! In case you're wondering, Cathy's a comic strip character. She's the only one I read besides Garfield and Foxtrot. Ok, maybe and User Friendly and Dilbert and Calvin & Hobbes and Luann... guess I'm more of a comic strip fan than I even knew!

cathy-2004-02-14.jpg

cybette wrote this at 06:30 PM ... Comments (1)