Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

I stayed up late (past midnight) to watch the Blood Moon.  This is a rare full moon eclipse.  It started at about 10PM with the peak “blood” at around midnight and then clearing away thru 2AM.  North America will see a blood moon 4 times between now and September (called a Tetrad).  Miss those and you will have to wait until 2032!

Here is the full moon before the eclipse.  Check out the blood at the end!




After the moon goes dark, the blood starts to show.

This is the early part of it.  Check out the two white dots (slightly above and to the far right).  These are Mars and a bright star Spica (I believe).


And finally the complete closeup.



For those interested, I shot this with a Canon EOS 7D with a 70-300 zoom lens.  I played around with the aperture, ISO and shutter speed  throughout the evening.  The last picture here is ISO 800 at f/6.3 at a 1.6 second exposure.  With the moon at full brightness early in the evening ISO was only 200 at f/11 and 1/80 of a second.  No color correction or other filters were applied…. this is as true as it gets.

This was considerably easier to focus and get some great shots than the Transit of Venus we did in 2012!


Read Full Post »

America’s Cup

I attended  (and presented) at the Oracle PLM conference this week.  Here I am pictured with the America’s Cup.  What a fantastic comeback  story, winning 8 straight races to win the cup!


Read Full Post »

Goodbye Porsche, Hello Tesla

I have had the new Tesla Model S exactly two months now.  I wanted to write a review on my experiences as a daily driver.  First off, I’ve put about 5,000 miles on the car. The majority has been a 90 mile daily roundtrip commute.  The remainder has been shorter around town trips.  This car replaces a Porsche 911 (sold it) and a BMW 3 series (my boys got it).  I got the upgraded P85 (performance) model with the moonroof, leather seats, tech package and a few other goodies.  Pretty pricey, even with the government rebates (which I haven’t gotten yet) but as my kids say YOLO (you only live once)!


The Myths

Range is about 200 with my kind of driving not 250 or 300 as some will say.  Tesla suggests a regular 90% charge which gives it a “rated” range of 231 miles (for me).  I get about 95% of the rated range during my regular commute.  Somewhat less during “spirited” driving.   Allowing for a small safety cushion, 200 is the max – period.   With my daily commute and ability to charge nightly, range anxiety is all but non-existent!


The Supercharger rocks – I can get a 200 mile fill (charge) in about an hour (from 30 to 230).  I have a Supercharger about 4 miles from my office, so about once a week I make it a point to get a free fill up and time my commute to take maximum advantage.  This is going to be a huge competitive advantage for Tesla and a barrier to entry for other manufacturers.

I installed a 240V 50A circuit in my garage (cost about $400) and can plug the car in at night when I get home.  I get about 29 miles per hour of charging at my house (at 240V/40A continuous).  This allows me to have the charger start automatically at midnight and complete before I leave for work.  The Auto Start is a very nice programming feature and easy to use.  I switched to the So Cal Edison EV+Home plan that provides lower rates from midnight to 6AM.  Our electricity bill is up about $75/mo and I’m saving about $300+ in gas per month.

I’ve also been able to take advantage of some “free” chargers at my gym, the beach and a couple of other locations.  The upside is they are free, the downside is the charigng is so slow, it’s often not worth the time or effort.  Most locations (Chargepoint and others) are 200V at 30A.  This gives about 16 miles/hour of charge.  Pretty weak but good if you are in a bind.

Carpool sticker – In California, I’m able to drive in the carpool lanes.  This saves me about 20 minutes each way to and from work.  I also feel I’m driving much safer because I’m not changing lanes too often and am not stuck in stop and go traffic.


It goes without saying that the acceleration (and braking) is awesome.  I got the P85 and it certainly has more power than the Porsche 911 and much better straight line acceleration.  Granted the cornering and handling is not really comparable, but this has been a good tradeoff for me.

The buttons and switch indicators feel very nice.  I noticed during the test drive that they felt just like our Mercedes.  It turns out that Tesla sources these from Mercedes.

The Bluetooth for our iPhones and Homelink for the garage door are very easy to setup and work flawlessly.

Odd features

The speed in reverse is electronically limited to 15 miles an hour.  Yeah, I was trying to see how fast it would go in reverse!  Also, above 100 mph, the power consumption meter starts to flicker.

There is no center console storage and no compartments in the back seats.  The glove box (as small as it is doesn’t lock).  Its all very minimalist.

The key fob looks cool but I’d prefer a more traditional push button on the key.  I tried the auto lock feature, but found that every time I walk by the car in the garage, it would lock and unlock.  I’ve disabled that feature thru their setup and now I push the “roof” on the key.  Problem is, it require quite a push to activate the lock.

The Tesla software puts a charger location on the Google Maps application for every charger used.  The location for my house has the wrong address (the number doesn’t even exist).  I had called their help desk and was told it was a Google Maps issue.  I don’t buy that answer…Google maps has the the correct address for my house (both on my iPhone and on the web).

Tesla added a “creep” feature to mimic what other gas powered cars do.  I prefer the “no creep” option because in traffic, it is nice not to have to step on the brake pedal.  The regen mode provide most of the braking but takes a while to get used to.

Needs Improvement

The iPhone app is not consistently reliable – there have been a number of times I have tried to use it and it has not worked.

The sun visors are not very useful.  I suspect that the rake of the windshield prevented them from  making them any bigger, but they just aren’t all that useful as is.

The seats are comfortable though minimal and not very plush.

There are no coat hooks above the back seat – minor annoyance and a simple fix.

Opening the sunroof requires multiple clicks in the center console.  This compared to a single pushbutton on most cars.

The door gaps are not as perfectly aligned as on my Porsche or Mercedes.  The rear door gap on the left is much bigger than the front doors or even the rear door on the right.

The radio quality sucks.  For a car this expensive, the radio sounds very one dimensional and underpowered.  The Internet radio song titles often don’t match  what is actually playing.  The FM radio also only has 6 presets and the reception is often not very good.  This is my biggest issue with the car.

The web application has location services disabled.  This means I can’t use Waze or other mapping based applications.    I also can’t watch Netflix.  I can see why they disabled the Flash (so one can’t watch video while driving) but no reason for location services.  They should consider enabling Flash when parked.

There is a rattle from somewhere in the back that is annoying at low speeds

The weather striping on the sunroof has come loose

There is a small but noticeable bulge in the front hood near the latch of the “frunk” – I suspect it is a manufacturing defect

I have reported the last three defects and have a scheduled service appointment next month.   Will update you then.


The 90% fill has gone from a range of 234 miles brand new to 231 miles.  Not sure if this is battery degradation (as I’ve read about), or just an anomaly.  I’ll let you know in about 50K miles.

The car required a “reboot” at the three week mark.  It was beeping the seat belt indicator and would not stop.  I called the Tesla hotline and the answer was to reboot the system by simultaneously holding down the two thumbwheels.  This solved the problem and it hasn’t occurred since.

The Verdict

This car is a game changer.  Despite some of the issues I’ve noted above, this car is awesome.

We will be going on a road trip next month.  It will be fun to see how the car handles a family of 5 and a dog over a 1,200 mile road trip.  More to come.

Read Full Post »

Goodbye Porsche, Hello ???

I sold my 911 today.  So sad to see it go after 12 great years.


Read Full Post »

Rebuild has Started

We spent the first day arguing with AAA and about their lack of response.

We fired the first incompetent contractor provided by AAA.  At the end of the first day, he left the carpets soaking wet and put 2 dehumidifiers in the whole house and stated he had to wait until Monday to get authorization from AAA to do anything more!   This is what we get from AAA after being loyal customers for 23 years.


We decided to call another contractor provided by IRWD.  They came Sunday night and pulled out the entire first floor carpet and have been on it since.  They have been fantastic so far.

Here’s our kitchen now.


Study…etc.  You get the picture.


They have basically removed 2-3 feet of wallboard from the entire first floor.

They are moving fast but it is still going to take about a month.

In the meantime, I keep getting lame excuses from AAA about their response and why they didn’t approve a large claim.

On top of that, they wanted to put us up in one room at the Holiday Inn in Santa Ana.  Imagine that (5 people in one room)!  The only Inn I’m staying at is the Westin!  It isn’t even that AAA will need to pay off any claim since IRWD has already accepted full responsibility.

AAA hasn’t done anything right so far despite having two different adjusters on site.  I hope someone from AAA reads this.  Whatever happened to “we’re on your side” or you’re in good hands”?

Read Full Post »

Late last night, a city water main busted causing a flood thru our neighborhood.  The City of Irvine, Police and Fire were all on hand to witness the destruction.  The 54″ Main was a feed straight from Irvine Lake to a diverter about 100 yards up the hill.  The water flowed for about 4 hours while the City of Irvine fumbled with shutting the main value off.

Here are some pics.

This is the main flow in our front yard.



This is a picture of our back yard.  It was submerged in as much as 8-12 inches of water in some places.


Unfortunately, after about two hours of flowing water, the water started to seep into the house.  First the kitchen and then the family room, study and living room.


Now we are left with the long task of cleanup and rebuild.

Read Full Post »

This department store in Pune India decided to ilegally copy a photo from our blog.  Anjali’s cousin Parag just happened to be shopping there and came across this picture.  Such shameless copyright infringement.  It kind of freaked us out but there is nothing we can do about it!


Be careful out there!

Read Full Post »

Vegetarian Thai Cooking

I was in Bangkok for business last week and was looking for something to do over the weekend (rather than the usual temples and sightseeing) and came across a Vegetarian Thai Cooking class a short cab ride from the Sheraton Grande.

The class was about 5 hours long and we covered all the basics including spices, soy sauce, tom yum paste, and sauces.


There were six students, all from different parts of the world (Switzerland, Germany and the US).  We started out with a short trip to the local farmers market.  The lady in front is the teacher May Kaidee.ImageImageImageMost of the prep was already done by May’s assistants.  All we had to do was the wok cooking.

Thai cooking is pretty easy.  Fresh, wholesome ingredients and just 5-10 minutes of cooking time.


We each made Tom Yum, Tom Kha, Pad Thai, Green Curry, Massaman Curry, Green and Red Chili Paste, Peanut Sauce and Green Papaya Salad.


ImageImageImageThe best part was eating everything and knowing there was no fish sauce or shrimp paste in the food!  It was all vegetarian and tasted yummy.

I would recommend May Kaidee’s Cooking class if you are ever in the Bangkok area.

Read Full Post »

I went to the Apple store in Guangzhou and they had an early release of the new iPhone 5!

I picked one up along with a couple of new Rolex’s!Image

Read Full Post »

Today we went to my alma mater – Harvey Mudd College to check out the Transit of Venus.   HMC was holding a special event for alumni.  The Transit of Venus is a once every 100+ year event where Venus crosses between the Earth and the Sun.  The next one will be 2117.

Check out my cool photo!  I shot this on my Canon 7D at f/16, ISO100, 1/80 at 135mm (with a tripod and a solar filter).


Everyone also got some cool solar viewing glasses.


Here we are outside of Galileo hall.


We then went on a mini-tour of the campus.  The girls decided to pretend lecture at Galileo Hall.


Read Full Post »

Who’s the Dog?

Here’s Nikhil playing with Joey!

Read Full Post »

This weekend we went to Encinitas to see a rare ocean phenomena known as bioluminescence caused by a red tide.

By day, a red tide is unsightly and uninviting, with water the color of coffee. But at night, during this unusual phenomenon caused by a plankton bloom, the waves are a brilliant, almost neon blue. This wonderfully surreal scene has played out almost nightly along San Diego beaches for the last few weeks.

Here are a couple of cool pictures of what we saw.  The waves were coming about every 30 seconds and we spent almost two hours watching.

Here is a picture of Anjali and the kids (and Lizzy).

Read Full Post »

Get Out of Auto Mode

Last weekend I took a photography class from Hector Gonzalez in Long Beach. The class was about 14 hours in a single day and covered all the basic concepts to control your camera in full manual mode.  We got to practice hundreds of shots at different apertures, shutter speeds ISO’s and compositions.

Check out some of my pictures

This first one is the same camera angle at different apertures (F/3.5 on the left and F/36 on the right).


Here are three more of the Queen Mary in Long Beach at different times.  The last one is in the evening at a 5000 ISO setting without a tripod.

Here are a couple of nice sunset/dusk pictures.

Finally, here are some night time shots using a tripod and a 20-30 second exposure time.

I can’t wait till the 4th of July to capture some great fireworks photos.  Check out his class…. its well worth your time.

Read Full Post »


Doesn’t this just make your mouth water?

Read Full Post »

This video speaks for itself!!

They’ve been playing too much guitar hero.  Acting credits go to Nikhil and Ryan.  Camera work by Annika and music by Sam.

Read Full Post »

China Boom

I got back from my trip to Hong Kong and China.  The most striking thing is the booming economy there.  You wouldn’t know there is a recession here in the states.

Here is a picture from one of the hotels in mainland China.   The smog lingers constantly and the construction continues into the night.

Here is one of an 8 story shopping mall.   One of the malls we visited was all electronics fakes.  Their slogan there is “you make it, we fake it”.

Here is one of the beautiful harbor area looking from Kowloon to HK island.  I visited my friend Todd and also Alka mavshi and Naya kaka who both live in the midlevels area on Hong Kong island.

Here is a picture from their apartment.

Mavshi cooked me a wonderful home-cooked meal which was very nice after being on the road for so long.

On the Friday night I spent there, Todd and his wife Anne took me to the American Club.  It was a wonderful oasis for expats and served some of the best food I had there for two weeks!

A good trip… and I got really good at using chop sticks!

Read Full Post »

Did you feel the Quake?

From the USGS site this morning:

A light earthquake occurred at 4:03:25 AM (PST) on Saturday, January 16, 2010.
The magnitude 4.3 event occurred 4 km (3 miles) WNW of Beaumont, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 15 km ( 9 miles).

We are about 70 miles southwest of the epicenter.  It woke me an Annika up.   Everyone else… still sleeping!

Read Full Post »

Dear Clancy

Here are a couple of pictures of our beloved Clancy.  We are looking for a new Smooth Collie puppy – just like Clancy but with a lot less hair to maintain.



Read Full Post »

Rubik’s Cube Solved

Vikram spent the last couple of days working the algorithms to solve his first Rubik’s Cube!


Rubik's Cube Solved

Rubik's Cube Solved

Did you know that the cube was invented by a Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture.  It has sold over 300 million cubes to date!

Congrats Vikram!

Read Full Post »

As I was sitting at my desk, a small 5.1 magnitude rumbler just rippled thru here.  It was located about 100 miles north east of here near Barstow.  Here is a link to the USGS website.

Earthquake Details

Magnitude 5.1
Location 34.813°N, 116.419°W
Depth 7.3 km (4.5 miles)
  • 26 km (16 miles) WNW (293°) from Ludlow, CA
  • 56 km (35 miles) WNW (297°) from Bagdad, CA
  • 57 km (35 miles) E (97°) from Barstow, CA
  • 188 km (117 miles) ENE (63°) from Los Angeles Civic Center, CA
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 0.2 km (0.1 miles); depth +/- 0.7 km (0.4 miles)
Parameters Nph=059, Dmin=8 km, Rmss=0.19 sec, Gp= 65°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=S
Event ID ci14408052

Instrumental Intensity Image

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »