Archive for January, 2006

Driveway dilemma

One of the negative things that came with my new house was a very steep driveway. All along I’ve been parking my car on the street, with the expectation of having the driveway modified so my car could climb it without scraping. After speaking with two general contractors it looks like the outlook is not good for that happening.
The “low budget” option was to put some “bumps” on the driveway to get my car over the low spots. The problem with that is that 1) it will not prevent me from scraping while backing out, 2) it’s only for my car, and 3) it would be an issue when I wanted to sell the house.
The other option, which always made the most sense to me, was to jackhammer out some concrete and flatten out a parking spot. I spoke with a contractor who told me that something like that would cost around $25,000, to which I replied: “I don’t think so”.
So, the question is: do I continue to park my beloved Audi on the street, risking being hit by the garbage truck, mailman, etc (it’s a fairly narrow street), or so I sell the A6 and get something that can make it up the driveway without scraping? I’ve tried a bigger sedan that’s not as high off the ground (Ford Five Hundred rental) and it couldn’t do it. My parents’ Toyota Highlander makes it up without a problem. Yesterday I drove an Infiniti FX35 (cool car, really crappy mileage) and a Lexus RX400h hybrid (very cool, and gets 30 MPG to boot) to see how I could deal with an SUV or crossover. If Audi still had a crossover I’d buy one, but the only thing they have these days is a huge SUV known as the Q7, and I don’t want that.
I guess I need to think this one over some more.
Update: Problem solved. And it gets better mileage, too!

Summer vacation

I am going on a vacation of epic proportions this summer. In fact, it’s two trips in one: a cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean with family, then 5 days in Budapest visiting a friend.
Part 1: The Cruise


I’m going with family (well, part of it) on a ten day cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Greek Isles. The cruise starts and ends in Rome, and visits Dubrovnik (Croatia), Corfu, Olympus, and Santorini (Greece), Ephesus (Turkey), Valletta (Malta), and the Messina Strait (between Italy and Sicily). We’ll be going a few days early to explore Rome, as well.
In between all that touring around I’ll be doing a lot of eating on the ship. 🙂
Part 2: Budapest and Hungary

After the cruise I’ll be making my way (somehow) to Budapest to (finally) meet my friend Tibor and his family. As of right now it sounds like I’ll be seeing various parts of Hungary, plus Vienna, Austria.
Since there’s Internet access both on the ship and at my friend’s place in Hungary I’ll be posting photos and trip reports in real time!

Killing time

I’ve got blogger’s block, so how about some pictures of a lazy kitty to fill up some space?


Hopefully things will get more exciting around here soon. It’s looking like I’ll be going on a grand adventure this summer… more on that soon!

Deceptive lens naming reach digital SLRs

I’ve long been frustrated with the brand names used on lenses on digital cameras. The same lens will be a Zeiss lens on a Sony camera, a Schneider-Kreuznach lens on a Kodak, and a Canon lens on a Canon. It’s all marketing here, folks.
Now this trick has appeared on digital SLRs as well. Meet the new Samsung GX-1S, which is a rebranded Pentax *ist DS2:


On the Samsung the 18-55 is a Schneider lens. Now let’s look at the *ist DS2:

Look at that! The same lens is a Pentax model here. So which is it? This practice needs to end, it seems pretty deceptive to me.

Fun with Fifty Millimeters


I recently bought two 50 mm lenses to use on the D-SLRs that I review, since people always complain about the lenses I have. I got a cheap (but highly regarded) F1.8 lens for Nikon cameras, and a more expensive F1.4 lens for the Canons.
Since it was such a nice day (and I needed sample photos) I took the Canon EOS-5D (pictured) and Nikon D200 out for some picture-taking, and I restricted myself to only using these 50 mm lenses. I’ve never really shot with a 50 mm lens before, save for my product shots, and it’s not the most useful focal range, especially on the D200 (with its 1.5X crop factor).
After the link you’ll find 16 very nice photos that I took with the EOS-5D and its 50 mm lens at Crissy Field, Fort Point, and the Pt. Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands. Some of these are going on my wall, for sure.

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