Too much time on the internet tonight

Been using Twitter a lot lately, but definitely can’t fit this in 140 characters. Spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I want to learn next, where I wanna work next, where I wanna travel to next, what language I wanna learn next (I have Mandarin, Tagalog, and French installed), which finish line I wanna cross next (MS150? Triathlon?), and definitely pondering what I wanna eat next.

Currently on a weight loss challenge and that hasn’t been going well the last two weeks due to lots of leftovers from our baptism and maybe a few beers and some fried food along the way. But I know I’m definitely getting in shape because running 3 miles isn’t a problem, just gotta get faster.

Just random thoughts.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card from Chase

Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card

I typically have the discussion with friends on what credit card they use.  Years ago I swung a lot of people to get this Southwest card because it was so easy to get free flights with this card.  Ever since Southwest got rid of their old rewards program and switched to a points-based program, there wasn’t really an incentive for me to stick with Southwest or use their card for all of my purchases.  So I switched to the American Express Blue Sky card, but I still had to keep this Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa around because they don’t take American Express everywhere, especially Asian restaurants or food carts/stands.

What really bugged me was that I am paying an annual fee on this Rapid Rewards Visa and I wasn’t using the card as much.  So I considered possibly downgrading from the “Plus” card that I currently have or possibly finding another card without an annual fee.  However, I noticed that if I upgraded to the Premier card, there are no foreign transaction fees.  I was particularly interested in the premier card because I’m headed out of the country twice in the next year and I plan on using my card more instead of carrying cash.  I called to ask about the annual fees if I were to upgrade.  Turns out I’m currently paying $59/year for the Plus card w/ 3000 complimentary points and it’s $99/year for the Premier w/ 6000 complimentary points.  Turns out that these 6000 complimentary bonus points equates to $100 in flight credit so the card is technically free.  So if you’re in a situation like me where you need a Visa without fees because you don’t use it as much, and you plan on heading out of the country every once in a while, I can recommend this Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

Camera Gear That I Don’t Really Need

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve toned down on the spending.  I think spending any more than I already have really crosses the line from photography being a hobby into something that really only professionals would be spending their money on.

70-200 f/2.8L IS.  I still keep a craigslist feed hoping some ridiculous deal for a Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS shows up, but seriously, how often would I really use that?  The only times I forsee myself using that lens is at weddings and at the zoo.  Probably doesn’t warrant the $2000+ price tag that that lens commands.  If we go on some African Safari someday, maybe I’ll pick one up.

Pocketwizards.  The new ones came out this week, but how often would I really use them?  I got some cheapo remote triggers from Amazon and I haven’t even used those yet!  For some reason the built-in wireless trigger on the 7D suffices for me.

Full Frame.  This is probably the only item I’d consider if a huge sum of cash were to appear in my bank account out of nowhere.  I’ve still got the 7D on my 3-year no interest from Best Buy, haha.  I pay like 40 bucks a month for it.  Once that’s paid off, I suppose I’ll consider the next step.

Now, I sorta lied.  We’ve spent some money on camera stuff within the past few months, but I think it’s been worth it.

T2i.  This deal showed up online for a T2i body for $400.  Kristine has had a T1i for a while and I was able to get rid of that for $360.  I felt that a $40 cost to get 24/1080p video was worth it.  The T1i could only do 30p/720 and 20p/1800p or something crappy like that.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5.  I really felt like I needed a good decent camera for those times when the DSLR was just not appropriate, lol.  i.e. a lot of casual outings.  Plus, Kristine doesn’t even like to use her DSLR and would rather carry around this thing now.  It was on sale at Amazon for like $265 so we jumped on it.  It’s been pretty awesome and we’re happy with it.  Especially the fact that you can shoot in RAW with it.  What really attracted me though was the f/2.0 on it. The other option would’ve been the S100, but that probably wouldn’t come under $400 bucks for a long time.

Panasonic DMC-LX5. 13 seconds. f/8.0.

Panasonic DMC-LX5. 1/1250 second. f/3.3.

Cycling is awesome. And you should bike too.

This is gonna be a random post of thoughts.

Out of all my interests/hobbies, I have to say cycling is probably the best thing I could be doing.  I wish I had picked this up a few years earlier.  So I’ll be honest, I haven’t lost very much weight since that post I made several months ago.  I’m still lingering around 187-190lbs.  BUT, I definitely feel a lot more in shape than I have in a few years.  According to a bunch of stuff I’ve read, I’m supposed to leave all that weight loss for the off season.

Compared to when I first got my bike last October, I’m not afraid of all the hills around our area.  They’re a piece of cake now.  Also, my average heart rate on my workouts was like 180+.  I knew something was definitely wrong when it was that high like four months ago.  Now I’m averaging around 160ish, which is awesome.  Because of this leg strength I’ve built back up, I’m able to run 3 miles w/o very comfortably and I’m not gasping for air…

Overall, biking just gets  me into a health-conscious mindset.  Somewhat eating less, lol.  We gave up fried food for lent and that sort of worked out with a few exceptions, lol 😛  At least we’re not eating fast food and drinking sodas all the time.

I’ve had some people ask me to pick up golf, but I think that just seems kinda expensive.  You gotta pay every time you wanna play.  Either the driving range or the golf course has some sorta fee.  You can just jump on the bike whenever the hell you want.

My DSLR camera spending spree has come to a halt… I can’t remember the last time I bought something camera-related.  But I think I’m satisfied enough there, :-P.

The MS150 is less than two weeks away and I’m not worried at all about being able to finish.  I’m more worried about getting a nasty tan line.  I’m pretty excited about it, considering I haven’t even done a normal bike ride.  I’ll probably sign up for a ride or two this year in addition to the MS150… I’m just glad I started getting into biking over the past few months and it’s really opened up the doors to getting back in shape again.

Status Update

Well I don’t think i’ve lost a pound, but I hear my friend Xerxes has lost 16.  I’ve also broken my wrist from snowboarding which limits me from riding my bike on the road so I have to make the best out of my  stationary trainer.  The MS150 is three months away so i’ve gotta train.  Losing 40 pounds would cause me to push 40 less pounds on the bike lol.

Getting Un-Fat

I have to admit that over the last few months, I’ve been pretty terrible at keeping myself active.  Typical work day would result in me coming home STARVING, going straight to the kitchen and starting up dinner, watching tv, getting online… and it was just an overall feeling of laziness because I was exhausted from work.  Now, I “try” to get to work by 8 so I can get out at 5 to fit a ride in because the sun’s going down earlier and earlier.  I’ve somehow gotten it into my head not to overeat as well.  I’m also going on a fried food hiatus.  Recently, I’ve recognized how often I was eating french fries.  A good two and a half years ago, I seriously couldn’t remember the last time I had a burger and fries.  I wanna go back to that.  My problem is that if you put all this food in front of me, I can eat it.  If you tell me that you’re going to throw away food, I’m going to eat it.

Ever since getting this bike, I’ve been pretty motivated to ride this thing every chance I get.  I hope it doesn’t wear off.  I hope I keep this going for years and years to come.  Granted, I spent more than some would plan on spending on a bike if they’re not a serious rider, but I WANT to get serious about it.  Now that I’ve stated it on this blog, I’m held accountable, haha.  I have to get serious.

I think one trigger for me getting serious about this whole thing was the health checkup they do for free at work.  I think for someone my height, I’m supposed to be down to 165lbs in order not to be called overweight…  I’m currently lingering around 200lbs.  I think according to their chart, if I kept the trend up, I was on my way to being obese.  It was also the first time that they told me I was about to have high blood pressure and I was about to have high cholesterol.  No bueno.  I used to be able to breeze through these stupid checkups.  Now I actually have to pay attention to this stuff.  Maybe I should use my damn health insurance for seeing the doctor on a yearly basis, lol.

Another trigger was Mr. Allan Jamir.  Success story.  We flew up to New York City the other weekend and he confirmed that he weighs less than me.  Allan used to be really fat and unattractive.  When we saw him coming downstairs from his work to meet us when we first arrived, I had to really say, “Damn he looks good now.”  Haha.  I know they walk alot in NYC, but my face is looking fat in pictures.  Good thing I’m behind the camera most of the time.

Also, it was pretty depressing when we were at the UNIQLO grand opening of their worldwide flagship store that all I could fit into was their SIZE 38.  Give me the benefit of the fact that I’ve usually had big thighs because of all the running I used to do.  Their $10 jeans were sort of straight fit for guys with skinnier legs than me.

The last time I was close to 200lbs was like 3 and a half years ago and I was able to get back down to 165.  So I think it’s doable if I can keep this up through the winter.  Speaking of Winter, I bought a bike trainer for 50 bucks on Craigslist to mount my bike on so I can ride when it’s cold outside.  I seriously have no excuse to not workout every day because I can watch TV episodes while I’m on there.

Anyway, here’s to losing a few pounds and feeling healthier.

My New Bike

Well, I finally moved on up to a road bike.  After owning a Trek FX 7.2 hybrid bike that I bought on Craigslist a while back, I realized that I was getting passed up all the time by people who looked like they were putting less effort on their road bikes, lol.  I had gone on a few bike rides at work sponsored by Mellow Johnny’s and couldn’t really hang for too long.  Granted I am probably out of shape, I knew the hybrid bike was limiting me.  So a few weeks after those rides I decided to seriously look around.

I knew I was going to have to put a pretty decent investment into a good bike, but as I’ve been stepping onto the scale and buttoning my pants lately, I really needed to get a good bike that would help me get pretty serious about getting back in shape.

My first stop was at Jack and Adam’s on Barton Springs Rd.  The guy there was pretty helpful right off the bat.  I’ve been to a bike store before where the people just plain-old sucked.  They’re snobs, not very helpful.  Anyway, the guy at Jack and Adam’s convinced me that the Felt Z85 was pretty much the best bang for my buck.  I did some research to see what other bikes came with Shimano 105 components and I think that this bike was the cheapest.  It also had a nice matte paint job which almost makes it look like it’s carbon fiber but it’s not.  As much research and comparing that I did, I was still pretty much sold on the Z85.  Unfortunately, Jack and Adam’s didn’t have any in my size in stock so I had to wait almost 2 weeks for it to come in.  What’s awesome is that they let you take it home with you for a few days to try it out.  Most other bike stores just let you take it for a 15 minute spin around the area.

I was amazed by how much quicker I could zoom by on this bike compared to what I used to have.  The difference in shifting was easy to get used to and the ride felt A LOT more comfortable.

So I’m still starting out, but I think I should be able to consistently do rides more than 20 miles at this point.  I definitely wanna be able to go out on much longer rides.  I have to get used to being on a bike for pretty extended lengths of time.  I notice myself having pretty crappy form so I get a bit sore, so I’ll need to fix that.  I’m really looking forward to getting serious about road biking and getting myself un-fat.

Ni Hao!

I don’t really have a lotta time to update since we booked a tour and it’s leaving in about 25 minutes, but China’s been pretty good so far.  We’ve been able to get around without knowing the language…  the hardest part is probably at restaurants ESPECIALLY when they don’t have pictures on their menu, haha.  Currently we’re in Beijing, but we should be headed back to Suzhou (2 hour drive from the Shanghai airport) tomorrow.  Of course we’ve been taking lots of pics, but that will probably get uploaded when we get back :-)  We’re here for one more week and then it’s back to the US where I can have a good burger.

Us at the Forbidden City

Wedding Photography Etiquette

It’s been a few weeks since we last attended my cousin’s wedding up in Vancouver, but I knew I had to vent on this particular topic.  Disclaimer:  I’m not a professional wedding photographer.  I just have a DSLR with some non-kit lenses, lol.  Anyway, I have a list of guidelines that people need to follow.

1.)  SIT YOUR ASS DOWN. (1 previous offense witnessed)
Here’s the thing – when I’m at a wedding, I stay in my seat.  If you’re not the official photographer, SIT YOUR ASS DOWN.  If you want good pictures, find a good seat and STAY THERE.  It’s effing ridiculous when you have people that own DSLRs getting in the middle of the damn aisle and blocking people’s view of the ceremony.  I’m surprised the official photographer wasn’t getting upset.

2.)  TURN OFF THE DAMN BEEPING ON YOUR CAMERA (2 previous offenses witnessed)
We were at a wedding in Houston where this one old lady was reviewing her pictures and going through the menu and a BEEP was going off every time she hit a button on her camera.   WTF Mate?!  It’s so distracting.  The offense was also witnessed at a wedding here in Austin.  The lady was sitting right behind me.  I turned around, gave her a nasty face, and told her to turn off the Auto Focus beep.  Turns out she was a relative of the bride from Hawaii 😛  Oops.  That doesn’t absolve you though from proper wedding photography etiquette.

Follow these rules and you’ll be on your way to avoiding a nasty look from me.

One of my more favorite shots…  Shot w/ a 70-200 f/4L