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Archive for May, 2008

Celebrity sighting: Kevin Durand

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I just saw Kevin Durand in the lobby of the Hotel Santa Fe. That dude is tall. He established eye contact, and when I asked, “Hey, how’s it going?”, he reciprocated with a smile on his face. Seemed like a nice guy.

I’m not a big celeb-stalker kind of guy, and I didn’t really place his face until Victor and I were halfway down the hall. Still, I was excited because I watch Lost and Stargate SG-1 (my Dad’s favorite show), and he was in both of them (Martin Keamy in Lost and Lord Zipacna in Stargate SG-1).

Of course, I can’t be 100% certain it was him, but he was around 6’6″, had some tattoos on his arm, and sported an identical face.

Santa Fe, NM | link | trackb | 3 comments » | May 31, 2008 17:52:10

Twitter success disaster? Hello, Jaiku…

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I’m thinking of bailing out on Twitter and moving to Jaiku. I don’t really care what I use as long as it works reliably. Jaiku’s acquisition by Google pretty much ensures that it is always going to work.

For my own records, later on (when I make the switch):

juhu – Mac client, like Twitterrific mobile juhu – juhu for iPhone, native app! awesome. Techcrunch article about switching to Jaiku

I suppose I’ll also have to wait for Alex King to make the switch and update his Twitter plug-in to support both Twitter and Jaiku. Right, Alex? :)

And then there’s the need for a Facebook app…

And, um… can someone fast track me a Jaiku invite? THANK YOU! (I’m “echeng”)

Update, a few minutes later: I’m using a Jaiku badge in my journal now. It’s Flash, unfortunately, but it works and looks fine. I’ve also set Jaiku to pull RSS from Twitter, and from my journal. Hopefully, this will allow me to get tweets from my Twitter account into Jaiku. I’m not sure how quickly it updates, though. We’ll see.

If the Jaiku badge successfully pulls in Twitter posts, then I can use it on the sidebar of my journal to aggregate Jaiku, Twitter, and journal posts. But I’ll likely continue to use Twitter unless it continues to be unreliable in the future…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | May 29, 2008 16:24:01

Synsepalum dulcificum makes things taste sweet

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Synsepalum dulcificum and citrus

A year and a half ago, my aunt in Taiwan gave me a little dried fruit to taste. After chewing on the pulp, I ate some sour citrus fruit, and to my surprise, it converted sour to sweet! I’ve been telling friends about it since then, but had never found a mainstream article about the fruit hitting the States until now. The taste twist is due to a protein called miraculin, which is sort of a lame name. People are calling the experience “favor tripping.”

The miracle fruit, Synsepalum dulcificum, is native to West Africa and has been known to Westerners since the 18th century. The cause of the reaction is a protein called miraculin, which binds with the taste buds and acts as a sweetness inducer when it comes in contact with acids, according to a scientist who has studied the fruit…

Full article is at New York Times: A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue

I also just noticed that the NYT website overrides double clicks and turns it into a site search for that term. Argh.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 29, 2008 11:02:09

Private journal entries

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Hello, friends. If you have private journal access here, be sure to stay logged in. I don’t think the private entries show up on RSS, and there are no longer placeholder pages for them.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 28, 2008 17:09:59

Bahamas boat and shark incident

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I wanted to get this down while it is still fresh in my mind. These are the facts as I remember them from the Bahamas boat incident on May 26. It’s gruesome — please don’t read it if you think you might not be able to handle it. It’s totally unedited, and I banged it out over the last 10 minutes. Have to go board a flight now, but I will come back and edit it later.

If there were a “HOLY FUCK” category in my journal, this entry would be in it. (read more »)

Dallas Airport | link | trackb | 1 comment » | May 28, 2008 11:09:49

Pingtung Grandma, a long time ago

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my grandmother, more than 70 years ago

My father just sent over a photo of my grandmother from when she was in her teens or early twenties, back when Taiwan was still occupied by Japan. Because my Dad is young among his siblings, I never knew Grandma as anything other than an old woman. We also didn’t share a common language, as she didn’t speak Mandarin — and I barely do.

I have regrets that I didn’t attend her funeral last week in Taiwan. I’m not sure that it was the right decision to lead the Bahamas expedition instead.

Dallas Airport | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 28, 2008 09:42:44

Never believe anything you read

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I was in the Bahamas last week, and want to comment on a few articles that popped up over the past few days about a tiger shark eating a dead body in Bahamian waters. Check out these three news articles, below:

  1. Shark Consumes Drowning Victim (The Bahama Journal)
Mr. Archer explained what happened when the search team tried to retrieve the bodies from the water on Sunday. “We were able to bring back the three out of the four bodies. The shark literally took the body right out of the C.I.D. diver’s hand. They had to leave the water and come out and sit on the boat for a while to wait for it to leave,” he said.

This is totally bogus, but it does sound pretty cool to have a shark take a body away from a rescue diver. I don’t know who the C.I.D. are, but they weren’t the ones that recovered the bodies, and the shark didn’t take the body “right out of the C.I.D. diver’s hand.” (read more »)

Palm Beach Airport | link | trackb | 5 comments » | May 28, 2008 05:33:51

Oceanic white-tip shark expedition trip report

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I’m told often by folks who have been on the ocean for decades that that oceanic white-tip sharks (Carcharhinus longimanus) were once one of the most common sharks in the ocean. In a classic scene in the movie, Blue Water, White Death, Peter Gimbel, Stan Waterman, and Ron and Valerie Taylor swim in open water with hundreds of oceanic white-tip sharks, who are all feeding on a whale carcass. These days, oceanic white-tips are consistently found only in a few places in the world, and divers are lucky if they encounter even a few individuals at once. I had dinner with shark scientist Samuel “Doc” Gruber in Miami while I was in the area, and he was overjoyed to see photos of oceanic white-tip sharks taken so recently. He told me that decades ago, they were “everywhere,” but that it had been many years since he had seen one alive.

The Bahamian oceanic white tip shark population is still somewhat of a mystery; no one really knows when they are in the area, nor where they go when they are not there. In an exploratory trip with Brian Skerry and National Geographic, Jim Abernethy found oceanic white-tip sharks in the Bahamas three years ago after hearing reports from fishermen. Two years ago, I went on a successful exploratory trip in June to photograph the sharks. In 2007, JASA had an epic trip in May, in which divers swam around for days with more than 20 oceanic white-tip sharks at once–an encounter that seems impossible to those of us who are in search of such experiences! Two months later, a Wetpixel expedition made the 32-hour crossing, hoping for a similar encounter, but there were no sharks to be found. The water temperature was abnormally warm (84 degrees+), and it seemed as if the ocean was completely dead. We didn’t even see a single game fish in the water, a fact that may have been tied to the absence of sharks.

Still, JASA had managed to arrange successful shark encounters in May for three years in a row, so in 2007, I booked a May expedition date for 2008 to maximize the chance of a good encounter. On the morning of Friday, May 9th, eight of us boarded the M/V Shear Water and began the crossing to Cat Island. The next 32 hours passed by in a sort of haze; everyone seemed to be passed out in their bunks, and there was almost never more than one person in the salon at a time. The only person who seemed to be awake during normal hours was Stella, who sat in the corner and worked diligently on translation assignments (so I hear—I was one of the ones who only emerged late at night).

Crossing conditions were really good, and I couldn’t believe how calm the water was. The ocean was a mirror, pulsing slowly up and down with only the slightest motion. We pulled up close to Cat Island in the late afternoon on the 30th, and a few minutes later, the back deck erupted into frantic activity… (continue reading for full trip report)

Bahamas | link | trackb | no comments » | May 26, 2008 22:47:52

See Andy Biggs’ images at Banana Republic

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hamming it up in front of one of andy’s images at banana republic

Congratulations to my good friend, Andy Biggs, for his beautiful safari imagery, which can be seen in Banana Republic stores around the country! I saw my first store decorated with his stuff in Palm Beach Gardens today.

They’re having a big launch party on Thursday, and I can’t go because I’ll be out with the sharkies. :(

Riviera Beach, Florida | link | trackb | no comments » | May 20, 2008 19:20:13

Hanging with the Grubers

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me, aya gruber, brett fisher, cor bosman, julie edwards, mari and doc gruber
this photo makes me look roughly 400% aya’s size (by volume)

Cor, Julie and I drove down to Miami tonight to see Doc and Mari Gruber. I cannot believe it has been nearly four years since I last saw them! Mari and I both thought it had been only 2-3 years, but we were both wrong. Aya and Brett came out to dinner as well, making me the lucky 7th wheel in the group.

I really like the Gruber family. Everything feels so familial, and I always enjoy my visits with them. The fact that one visit can power such familiarity for nearly four years says a lot…

me, with mari and doc

More photos over at Flickr.

M/V Shear Water | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 19, 2008 23:01:00

Gelato in Palm Beach / Riviera Beach

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A few hours ago, I walked into a home-made ice cream place on Northlake Blvd today and asked the guy behind the counter about their gelato. The guy said, “We have ice cream, shaved ice, soft serve, and gelati. The gelati is a mixture of shaved ice and soft serve.”


Wade then recommended a gelato place across the street from the Brass Ring, which is a place that local divers flock to after a day’s diving. I’ll have to give it a try next time…

Singer Island, Florida | link | trackb | 1 comment » | May 19, 2008 12:59:50

Me, last week

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I don’t often get photos of me out in the field. Here are a couple fun ones taken by friends who were on the trip. (read more »)

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | no comments » | May 18, 2008 15:55:40

Pig split collaboration with Vorfas

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A few months ago, I traded a few e-mails and images with Salomé (Vorfas), a talented artist whose work I really admire. Salome produced the following two pieces, given a split pig image that I took in the Bahamas last year: [Maia_41cm v1] [Maia_41cm v2]

Thank you, Salome, for the wonderful imagery!

Hmmm. It occurs to me that I don’t even know whether Salome is male or female. Ahhh, internet collaborations: they are strange beasts, are they not?

By coincidence, I happened to pull into port a few hours ago from an expedition to photograph oceanic white-tip sharks out in the Bahamas. We stopped at Big Major on the way back from Cat Island to photograph… PIGS on the beach! And this year, we were even more fortunate because one of the sows came running out with four piglets in tow. Piglets are just about the cutest thing on the planet.

piglet split image, bahamas

I posted a bunch of images from the shoot over at Flickr.

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 18, 2008 00:03:33

My grandmother passed away

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My grandmother passed away peacefully at 3:03 pm, May 12th, in Ping-Tung Hospital, Taiwan. An aunt and my mother were with her. She was 94 (1915-2008).

The funeral is scheduled on May 24th in Ping-Tung, and I’m not sure if I will be able to attend. I’m supposed to lead another shark expedition between May 20-27, and have mixed thoughts about whether I want to go. After talking to Dad, Wendy decided to go. We weren’t particularly close to that side of the family when we were growing up, but I do think it would be nice if the entire family were together in Taiwan to see her put to rest.

I have to decide tomorrow. Logistics would be very difficult, and I hate to back out of something that I am scheduled to lead.

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 3 comments » | May 17, 2008 22:37:47

Jaipur bombed!

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Wow. We were in Jaipur a few weeks ago, hanging out at the historic monuments that were bombed on the 13th.

At least 60 people have been killed and more than 150 wounded after a series of bomb blasts tore through the city of Jaipur in western India, officials say. The bombs went off near historic monuments in the crowded old city at one of the busiest times of the day. The head of state police said it was a terrorist attack. Reports suggest the death toll could rise. (from BBC NEWS)

It’s so sad to hear about things like this. :(

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | no comments » | May 17, 2008 22:07:15

Orphan Works Bill – proposed copyright law changes

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There is some information in the Wetpixel forums about the Orphan Works Bill, a revived copyright law bill that is on its way through US Congress at this very moment. Some folks are vehemently against this bill.

Should you wish to support the fight against this bill, please start by educating yourself. Read the bill and related commentary (links are posted in the discussion) and then go here for editable form letters that allow you to send an e-mail protest in less than 2 minutes.

Dallas, Texas | link | trackb | 1 comment » | May 8, 2008 13:29:53

Piano prodigy — quit now, the rest of you

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Holy crap.

(Livia posted this on her Facebook).

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 7, 2008 02:01:25

Filming the Chinese Women’s Army

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I spent half of Sunday helping Adam and Rae film the largest scene in their upcoming documentary on Qui Jin.

Li Jing flies above the Women’s Army (photo: Adam Tow)

Although my allergies made it a painful few hours, I enjoyed manning the second camera at Tilden Park and taking stills of the production. 34 extras put up with bitterly-cold wind, filling out the “army” and learning martial arts moves for the training session scene. It was fun to meet Li Jing; she was really funny.

Stanford, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 6, 2008 08:48:54

Wetpixel people finder

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My friend, Cor Bosman, recently put some time into building the Wetpixel People Finder, which allows members to register their location on a Google Map.

I have really enjoyed being a part of the Wetpixel community because its global community facilitates meeting up with other underwater photographers while on location or during transit. Through Wetpixel, I’ve met a great group of people in various locations around the world.

Stanford, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 6, 2008 08:38:34

H2 blockers linked to mental decline?

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This article on WebMD should be of interest to folks who are taking Pepcid to combat Asian Blush.

Aug. 3, 2007 – Long-term use of H2 blockers, including Axid, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Zantac, may increase the risk of mental decline in later life… The study showed that after taking into account other factors, elderly people who reported “continuous use” of H2 blockers had a 2.4-fold higher chance of some form of cognitive impairment.

The article cites a study on 1,558 over-65 African-Americans, and only concludes that more study is needed.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | May 5, 2008 12:54:32
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