Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cell Phone Questionnaire

As some of you know, I'm not a big fan of cell phones.  They are generally for the convenience of the calling party rather than the called party.  For the called party, I think it's more of a pain in the neck.  When I'm in a meeting, movie theater, coaching softball, sleeping, etc. the phone is typically turned off, locked in the trunk of the car, or left in the drawer.  I don't even carry it when I'm jogging.  I would rather risk the unlikely emergency/injury than carry a cell phone and risk destroying my solitude.  This is a bit ironic, since I'm a sales engineer for a telecom company and I make my living selling wireless switches and base stations…the networking equipment that enables cell phone users to talk, text, and surf the web.

I couldn't understand my disdain for cell phones, so I spent some time discussing it with my therapist, the world renown Dr. Charles Shaw.  What he suggested was perhaps it's not the cell phone I dislike, but rather cell phone users…specifically ones who don't follow proper cell phone etiquette.  By golly, I think he may be onto something.

Now, I don't want to get into a long dissertation on proper cell phone etiquette.  I will, however, pose a few questions to all you cell phone users out there.

1. Do you have an iPhone with the fire alarm ring tone selected?  If yes, do you leave your iPhone in your office cubical unattended, with the volume on high?  If yes, do you think it's a wise idea, given you work in a crowded, multi-story, corporate office building?

2. Do you have a Bluetooth headset for your mobile phone?  If yes, do you think it's professional to conduct business with it while using the urinal?

3. Do you prefer to have a 30 minute text message conversation with someone when it could have been addressed with a two minute phone call?

4. Do you talk on the phone while driving your motor vehicle?  Do you think other vehicles like being run off the road because you're more focused on your conversation (or texting) than on the *&%$!@ road?  Do you like head-on collisions (like I almost had with the teenage fast-food delivery driver)?

5. Do you enjoy dining in a restaurant your family, friends, and co-workers?  Do you enjoy dining in a restaurant while they are texting (or typing on their Blackberry) instead of eating or conversing with you?

So, my point is, please use common sense and exercise common courtesy when using your mobile device….and by all means keep using your cell phones, download tons of data, talk all day, text all night, update your Facebook account every five minutes, and help your local wireless carrier generate lots of revenue so they can buy more equipment from me (especially if your carrier is Cricket).  The only exception to this guidance is for one woman, one teenage boy, and one pre-teen girl… know who you are.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

365 Photo Project

I'm a bit of a late starter this year.  As you're probably aware, I started my "355 Days" blog ten days after the start of the new year.  Well, in pursuit of my goal of becoming a better photographer, I've started a 365 project, where I plan on capturing one photo per day for an entire year.  My photographic calendar's "New Year" was celebrated on March 27, 2010.  Hey, the Chinese celebrate it in February, so celebrating mine in March is cool, right?  This project is based on the "Digital Photography School" structure (  If you're interested in learning more about photography, the DPS web site is a great resource.

I was at a Boy Scout camping trip this weekend at Lake Chabot, so my first two photos are from the lake and campgrounds.  Moving forward, I'll post my 365 project photos on my flickr site in the "365" set.  Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I'm going to enjoy taking them!

Photo 1/365 (California Poppy Flower):

Photo 2/365 (Bug):

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Five Reasons to Get into Photography

As a kid, my photography experience was primarily with the Kodak Instamatic camera, which used 110 film and real flash bulbs (flash cubes).  I later moved to more modern 110 film based cameras (which didn't require flash bulb changes after every shot).  I was introduced to 35mm photography while in college, when my roommate let me borrow his Minolta X-700 manual focus, film SLR.  I knew nothing about SLR cameras, but my roommate gave me the five minute tutorial and I was able to create some nice photos around the beautiful USC campus using the automatic mode.  I remember when the space shuttle Challenger was destroyed on January 28,1986.  I used the Minolta camera to take pictures of the various memorial services being conducted around campus.  I also took pictures of the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Olympic torch, and the life-sized bronze statues from the 1984 Olympic games.

Since getting my Nikon D80 digital SLR for Father's Day in 2008, my enthusiasm for photography has grown exponentially.  However, as I look around, I've come to realize very few people in my circle of family and friends share my love of photography.  Why is that?  Photography is fun.

Here are five great reasons I think people should get into photography:

Kids: Kids are like weeds.  They grow relatively slowly, just scant millimeters per day, but before you know it, they're huge!  Just look at my brother's backyard if you don't believe me.  Take pictures of the kids throughout their lives and stick it in a photo album.  Before you know it, your kids will be in college and you'll have a cool book of memories.  Crack open the album and you'll be amazed at how fast they really grew.

Impress the Kids: Show your kids pictures of you when you were a kid.  They will be impressed at how buff, skinny, handsome, and pretty you were when you were young.  They'll realize you weren't always old, gray, bald, fat, and wrinkled.

Memory Assistance: They say memory is the second thing to go.  Remember that awesome Camaro you wrecked?  Man, it would have been cool to have a few nice photos of it.

Express Yourself: Photography isn't just for documenting life, it's a form of art.  Can't sketch, draw, or paint?  Origami giving you paper cuts?  No problem, get a camera and take interesting photos of the world around you and keep yourself amused and invigorated with life.

Save Money: Can't afford an Ansel Adams print?  Take your camera to Yosemite and make your own stunning prints.  Wait a second...I spent nearly three thousand dollars on cameras, lenses, and accessories in the last two years and I still don't have a print on the wall.  Hmmmm, what does an Ansel Adams print cost nowadays?

Picture Avoidance: Are you ugly?  Most cameras only take pictures out of the front, so be the photographer and minimize the number of photos you're in.

Okay, that was six reasons to get into photography.  My next blog topic will be five great reasons to learn mathematics.  Anyway, get yourself a camera and go take some photos.  I guarantee you'll have a ton of fun in the process....and you'll get an even bigger kick out of reviewing those pictures with your kids and grand kids twenty years from now.

This ugly dude is camera shy and is clearly in picture avoidance mode....or maybe he's running to get himself a new digital SLR.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Little Penguin

I used to travel on business a lot more than I do nowadays.  One of the things I miss about traveling is the solitude the long flight brings.  It's a great time to read a captivating book, catch up on the magazines that have been piling up in the mail, reflect on life, or just take a nap.  Traveling also offers a chance to meet new people, see new places, and experience new foods.  But traveling has its drawbacks, including lost opportunities to have dinner with the family, missed softball or basketball games, and a lonely spouse sleeping in an empty bed.

My daughter is a very thoughtful and caring person.  Whenever I travel, she leaves a doll or stuffed animal on my side of the bed to keep my wife company during the night.  Whenever my wife is out of town, my daughter leaves me a little penguin to keep me company.  I love this doesn't snore, it doesn't steal the blanket, and it doesn't accidentally elbow me in the head in the middle of the night.  Needless to say, my daughter was a bit perturbed when she discovered the little penguin had fallen behind the bed months and months ago and was covered with dust.  Sorry dear….the little penguin is cleaned up and back in bed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photos on Flickr

I purchased a Minolta 7000i 35mm SLR camera with a 35-105mm lens back in 1992, while TDY at Ramstein AB, Germany.  I liked the Nikon better, but it was over a hundred dollars more than the Minolta.  At the time, I wasn't sure if I was going to get into photography seriously, so I figured I'd save my money.  If I had to do it all over again, I would purchase the Nikon.  One important note -- when buying a 35mm SLR camera (or digital SLR), you're not just making a decision to buy a camera, you're making a decision to buy into the company's ecosystem.  Each manufacturer has its own set of proprietary interfaces for the lens, flash, etc., so generally speaking a Minolta lens cannot be used on a Nikon camera body, and a Canon flash cannot be used on a Pentax body.  Once one invests in a specific company's system, the cost to switch to another system is high, especially if one owns a number of lenses, flash, etc.  For that reason, I never purchased a 24mm wide-angle lens for the Minolta camera.  I always wanted one for backpacking/landscape shots, but knew if I invested in a Minolta lens, I would need to purchase a replacement Nikon 24mm lens in the future when I purchased my dream Nikon camera.

Now that I have a Nikon D80, I've invested in high-quality lenses, including my new 35mm f/1.8 and 12-24mm f/4.  From here on out, I'll be a Nikon user until I walk through the pearly gates.  God willing, I plan on taking a lot of pictures with these two lenses.  I recommend buying the best glass one can afford because cheap lens plus good camera equals cheap camera.

If you're planning on purchasing a DSLR, buy any camera you want, as long as it's a Nikon or Canon.  The majority of professional photographers shoot with Nikon or Canon, so both companies have a vast selection of lenses, flashes, and accessories.  Additionally, the used market will carry a larger selection of Canon and Nikon products, so there are a lot of good deals on good, used gear.  Remember, you're not just buying the camera, you're buying the entire ecosystem.

Pictures: I post quite a few photos on my blog, but for more, check out my Flickr page.  Some of the pictures are restricted to "family and friends" so if you want to see all of the photos, sign up for a Flickr account and I can add you as a "family/friend" contact.  Check it out from time to time...I plan on updating it fairly frequently.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Fool-Proof Get Rich Plan - Zero Risk

My last blog entry "Pake Does Not Mean Cheap" was essentially about professional development (enabling higher salaries) and smart money management (enabling financial security).  It offered strategies which can help one survive the depressed economy and potentially bring exponential growth to one's bank account.  Keep in mind however, while it may increase your cash, it won't necessarily make you "rich."  The unfortunate truth is most people use the wrong measuring stick to quantify wealth.

BEING RICH IS NOT having a million dollars in the bank.  It isn't living in a two million dollar house in the gated community and it definitely isn't a sixty thousand dollar BMW in the garage or a five thousand dollar Rolex on the wrist.  Nor is it owning the latest iPod, iTouch, iPhone, iPad, or fancy designer eyeglasses.

BEING RICH IS spending quality time with your children, reading to them at bedtime, helping them with their homework, coaching their sports team, or being the room-mom at their school.  It's showering your family with love and focusing on their needs over your own.  It's giving your significant-other a big hug in the morning and a kiss at night.  Being rich is helping total strangers as a volunteer at the local hospital, being a Big Brother/Big Sister, or helping an old lady cross the street.  It's backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, enjoying the fresh air, clean water, and beautiful tranquility.  It's hanging out with friends and talking story.

People tend to focus too much on material things.  They work longer hours and seek promotions to feed their endless desire for more expensive cars, houses, and toys.  I have a secret -- the Jones' house is bigger, their cars are faster, and their kids have cooler iPhones…but chances are, they are not richer.  Mr. Jones works 80 hours a week as a VP and is never home, Mrs. Jones also works and gets home late, and although Junior's the star quarterback on the football team, his parents are too busy to watch his games.

I wasted the better part of the last 15 years entrenched in the job, working long hours, traveling, and sending the family on vacations without me.  Then, last year the light bulb turned on and I realigned my priorities.  I serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts and coach the girls softball team.  I help chaperone school field trips, play basketball with my son after school (once his homework is done), help my daughter with her math, and jog fairly regularly (well, okay sometimes).  Quite frankly, I'm so busy doing this important stuff, I barely have time to work.  Ironically, I'm working less and have become much richer in return.

Follow the ten "Maui Rules" below and you'll be much richer than the Jones and the experience will be priceless.

Pictures: it was a beautiful day, so I went on a short hike on the Pleasanton Ridge.  I used my 35mm fixed focal length lens in an effort to simplify things.  It was an interesting experience and it forced me to walk around to get the right perspective.  I had to take two steps forward (or climb a hill) to zoom in and two steps back to get a wider view.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pake Does Not Mean Cheap

When I was a kid, my father worked hard to support the family.  It was often a challenge, especially with all five kids going to private schools.  My parents sacrificed to ensure their children had the best education, as well as food, shelter, sports, and in general, very happy and healthy lives.  They taught us the value of money and to spend it wisely.  I carried these values throughout my youth and adult life.

While in college, I worked full-time earning a meager $4.55/hour.  There wasn't much discretionary income left after paying the rent...and I didn't even own a TV until I entered active duty in the Air Force in 1989.  We still have that TV, a 25 inch RCA I bought at the Los Angeles Air Force Base BX.  Although by today's standards it's small, back then it was a good sized television….and reliable, 21 years old and still running.  Well, I just bought a new 52" LCD flat screen TV.  My wife and kids were shocked...really shocked.  They questioned my sanity and openly wondered who I was and what I did with their father/husband.  My brothers asked what happened to our TV.  They assumed it finally died and were surprised to find out I was replacing a perfectly good television.

Rest assured, I have not fallen off my rocker.  I work as a sales engineer and significantly exceeded my quota in 2009, so I decided to spend a small percentage of my final commission check on toys for the family.  I figured it was time to reward myself for all the hard work...and reward the family for putting up with all my long hours and travel over the years.  But, the rest of the cash is in the bank and we're back on our budget.

I think it's very important for people to manage their money wisely, balance their income and expenses, develop a savings balance, and make investments for the future.  I read an article on Yahoo News regarding a few professional athletes who earned hundreds of millions of dollars during their careers, but were bankrupt and penniless today.  They started out living meager, humble lives, made millions, spent millions, and returned to their humble beginnings.  It's sad to see, but too many people across America are doing exactly the same thing, albeit on a smaller scale.

There's a saying, "there are two ways to become rich, make more or spend less."  With the economy in its current state, this saying can be slightly modified to read, "there are two ways to make ends meet, make more or spend less."  Personally, I like to do both, make more and spend less...and put more money in the savings account for security.  I'm not a financial planning expert, but I have a few common sense tips to help you do both.

1. Making More:

Pick your career field wisely: The bottom line is the purpose of a job is to pay the bills.  I'm all for job satisfaction and finding a career I'm passionate about, but studies have shown there are more hungry musicians than there are hungry engineers (or doctors, computer programmers, etc.).  If you decide to become a professional musician, more power to you…but refer to the section below on spending less.

Earn your degree: All things being equal, an employer will hire a candidate with a college degree over one without a degree.  If you've completed your bachelor's degree, pursue a master's degree or professional certification in your field.  Some companies will increase one's compensation based on the successful completion of an advanced degree or professional certification.

Get the "right" education: In my opinion, the primary purpose of post-secondary education is to enable one to make more money.  Get a degree in business, engineering, computer science, nursing, pharmacy, etc.  Generally speaking, a bachelor's degree in fine arts will not translate into more money for the rent.  In other words, a McDonald's cashier with a fine arts degree earns just as much money as a McDonald's cashier without a degree…and the one with a degree has a massive student loan to pay back.

Work hard: Do not blend in with your co-workers and do not lower yourself to their standards.  Get into the office early, leave the office late, and do the things that distinguish you from your co-workers.  This sometimes affects the work-home balance, but if you want to make more money, it's going to require personal sacrifices.

2. Spending Less:

If you don't need it, don't get it: Before you buy anything, ask yourself, "Do I need it?"  It doesn't matter what it is, a car, a cute dress, a new cell phone, a pair of shoes, or even a new pen.  One might think this is a bit austere, but let's face it, in today's economy there are probably millions of people who should be asking themselves this question.

If you want it, don't get it (now): Impulse buying is the number one cause of "buyers remorse."  It's also the number one cause of credit card debt.  If you want something, sleep on it overnight.  In fact, sleep on it for a month.  Chances are, the feeling will go away….or there will be five other things that come up that you will want even more.

Prioritize: Create a list of needs and wants, then prioritize this list.  Whenever you want something new, compare it to the list and see if you want it more than what's on your list.  Prioritizing allows one to spend a little money on the more important or desired items, rather than a lot of money on everything.

Save: Once you have excess cash (from following the rules above), stick your money in the bank.  Better yet, distribute your funds across a portfolio of investment instruments.  If you want to treat yourself, spend 10% and put 90% in the bank.

Here's our awesome RCA TV, 21 years young and still running like a champ.  We're trying to donate it so someone can enjoy it for the next 21 years.  If you know anyone that can use it, let us know.  It's a high quality product, made in America, back when America knew how to build things.  Now everything is manufactured in China....for better or for worse.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Family Candid Photos

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a short story about the family.  Today is officially family candid photos day (or candid photoes day, if you're Dan Quayle).  I bought this beautiful tool called a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens last week.  I wanted a sharp, fast lens so I could shoot family candids, indoors, without a flash, and at lower ISO.  Fortunately, I have a nice family of subjects, willing to have a lens stuck in their faces, sometimes without notice.

Here's a photo of a mother and her offspring.  It warms my heart to witness the loving bond between a boy and his mother.  Even after full maturation and adulthood, he will always be her bo-boy....

Here's a beautiful, young girl, hugging her future prince charming.  Hopefully, she sticks to frogs for the foreseeable future, otherwise her loving father will need to start cleaning his Remington shotgun and chase the dirty, rotten scoundrels away....I mean, her loving father will greet her friends at the door and make them feel welcome.

Here's a picture of a father and his young daughter.  Notice the striking similarity in head size, shape, and hair style.

Another photo of that cute, bald baby, from a frontal view this time.  She's probably thinking about the things she can get into at her uncle's house.  "Hmmmm, what Hummel figurine can I break this time???  It's a good thing my daddy has a good job and makes lots of money....I just love getting into stuff!"

Auntie Pearl's Slides

This blog entry is dedicated to my late Auntie Pearl.  She was apparently an avid photographer, owning a Topcon Wink S camera (circa. 1960's, I believe) and later, a Canon T50 (circa. 1980's).  I usually post my own photos on this blog, but I thought it would be kind of cool to post a few of her slides.

Here's a picture of a few of her friends, presumably on a beach in Hawaii in the 1960's (possibly late 1950's).  Quite honestly, I didn't realize women wore two piece bikinis back in those days.  Maybe I'm thinking about the 1860's....

This young hottie is my mom in 1967, during a trip to Grant Heights in Japan.

I believe this picture was taken at the Honolulu Airport, circa. 1966-67.  The lady with the dark blue dress and the cool glasses is my mom.  She's carrying either me or my twin brother (and her older sister is next to her, carrying the other twin).  My grandma is on the other side of my mom.  The little boy in front looking to the side is my eldest brother, probably looking for trouble.

Here's a picture of my mom, sister, and cousin.  I'm not sure where this photo was taken, but I believe it was in the 1976 timeframe.  Sorry sis, now folks will know you're not really 25 years old....

Here's another picture of my sister, I believe taken on the same day as the photo above.  She was a pretty cute kid back then.  I could say something mean about my little sis here, but I won't.  Truth is, SHE'S HOTTER TODAY THAN EVER....but sorry guys, she's taken.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Achieve Your Goals!

I think it's very important to set goals.  But, not only should one set goals, one should also develop a plan to achieve these goals.  As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail.  When it comes to goals, people generally fall into one of three categories.

Losers: Losers don't have goals.  They are often perfectly happy with the status quo.  It's like they are sitting in a life raft in the middle of the ocean, drifting where ever the tide takes them.  They have no plan to get rescued and they spend no effort paddling to get anywhere.  They do, however, have nice tans.

Goal Makers: Goal makers establish goals but never achieve them.  They tend to have exactly the same New Year's resolutions year after year.  Goal makers frequently fail because they either don't outline a plan to achieve their goals or they don't have the long-term commitment required to succeed.  Fortunately, they have a big book of excuses….too busy at school or work, can't afford it, don't have time because of the kids, the dog ate it, etc.  Unlike total losers who have no goals, goal makers have the foresight to set goals, but just like losers, they never achieve anything.

Goal Achievers: People in this category set challenging goals, develop a plan to get there, keep their eye on the ball, and have the persistence and intestinal fortitude to work through the challenges until they achieve their goals.  Goal achievers are highly successful people and are generally the happiest of the bunch.

So, what category do you fall into?

Do you want to lose ten pounds?  Run a five minute mile?  Earn your bachelor's degree?  Achieve the rank of Eagle Scout?  Complete a marathon before you're forty?  WELL, GO FOR IT!

Define your goals.  Determine what time, money, and resources are needed to achieve them.  Create a plan and strategy to get there.  It won't be easy and will require lots of sacrifices...and you may even need to rework your life's priorities, budget, and time to make it happen....but, just do it!  Tape your plan to the bathroom mirror and spend every day, month, and year focused on it.  I guarantee if you don't achieve it, you'll at least be a hell of a lot better off than if you hadn't tried.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cars, Trucks, and Boats

For a long time, I had my heart set on a first generation Chevy Camaro, specifically the 1969 model year.  My real love was the second generation Corvette, but it was too expensive, so I focused my affection toward the more attainable Camaro.  In 1992, after a few years of saving money, I was ready to purchase a '69 Camaro.  I bought an Auto Trader magazine every Thursday (the day the new issues were published) and checked out a number of cars over the next six months.  Unfortunately, the cars I considered were either too heavily modified, over-priced, or in poor condition.  I finally settled for a 1991 Camaro RS, in black with a 305 cubic inch motor mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.  I added an Alpine stereo and amp, Polk Audio speakers, and of course….an Alpine alarm to keep her safe.  One key driver for this decision was marriage.  I was on the hook to get hitched in late 1992 and I wanted to make sure I bought my toy before life's priorities changed (ergo, while my savings account was still my savings account).  Mission accomplished.  I had my car and I had my wife….life was good…for a little while, anyway.

In May 1993, my friend, his girlfriend, my like-new wife (she was still under warranty), and I drove to Bishop, CA in my Camaro to do some trout fishing up in the cool mountain creeks.  We had a great time walking the creek banks, gently dunking our lures into the clear, moving water, catching hungry rainbow trout.  The stringer was full…our cup runneth over.  We grilled the ultra-fresh fish and dined amongst the pine trees, being serenaded by the creek behind us.  Life was great.  After a beautiful dinner, it was time to pack up the car and head back home to Los Angeles.  As I drove down the winding mountain road, I had the misfortune of taking a wrong turn.  The road went right and I inadvertently went straight…straight down the side of the mountain.  About T-5 (that's "tee minus five" or five minutes before launch for you non-space weenies), my wife uttered something along the lines of, "Wayne, slow down…."  About one nano-second before launch, I forcefully implanted my right boot into the brake pedal, white-knuckled the steering wheel, and uttered the infamous words, "AH SHIT!!!"  The fishing trip was over and so was my Camaro.  (Editor's Note: Kids, you'd better not be using that kind of language.  It's only acceptable when you're driving your car off a cliff).

After the Camaro's untimely expiration, I bought a used, white Toyota truck, with the anticipation of a bass boat being towed behind it some day.  The truck didn't have my heart, but it was reliable transportation and it didn't need to be washed and waxed every other week like the Camaro.  I washed the truck once a year, whether it needed it or not.  In the autumn of 1995, with the traumatic Air Camaro incident a distant memory, my wife agreed to a bass boat.  The plan was to purchase it in the summer of 1996, although I was negotiating to get it in the spring, in time for the largemouth bass spawn.  The truck may not have had my heart, but this boat sure did.  It was going to be a Bass Tracker from Bass Pro Shops -- a 16 foot, aluminum bass boat, with live-wells, rod lockers, Hummingbird fish finder, Minn Kota trolling motor, and 25 HP Mercury outboard.  Unfortunately, plans change.  In December 1995, I was informed that someone impregnated my wife.  So much for the bass boat.  :(

All I can say is BEWARE OF FILIPINO WOMEN!  Just give them a wink and boom, they're pregnant.  Talk dirty to them and you'll surely have twins.

Here's a picture of my bass boat today.
Here's a picture of my brother's bass boat: