Saturday, November 26, 2011
Mono Lake South Tufa State Reserve, Lee Vining, CA
Dawn at 14 degree Fahrenheit ( -10 degree Celsius)If you have a scenery such as Mono Lake, yet the temperature is below freezing, would you stay outside for a long time to bring with you Mono Lake memories? Or would you just take a quick shot and leave? But then, getting to the lake needs a little bit of walking too, if you are not geared up for below freezing temperature, your bones may be frozen cold before you reach the lake. If you already have reached the lake, where you already have endured some cold, why not walk around the lake some more to find some interesting spot? After finding your favorite spot, why not wait for sunrise? After all, sunrise is just maybe 30 minutes away! After sunrise, you may want to stay 30 minutes more when the soft morning light hits the tufas ( tufa means calcium carbonate towers as you see from above and below picture) . Mono Lake looks like an alien kingdom,where the enchantment it brings you may keep you to stay longer.
Tufas at Dawn
How would you be able to endure at least one hour exposure to sub freezing temperature for some photography without suffering? One difference between hiking and photographing is that hiking warms you up and helps you fight the cold, whereas photographing freezes you because you stand still and wait for that moment! A few minutes in the cold won't hurt, but to stay out for more than an hour or a day would be terribly suffering for most.
Me, Surviving -10C temperature for more than an hour without suffering
What gears help me to enjoy being out for a long time in subfreezing temperature?
1. Warm Gloves and Ski Mask.
2. Layered Clothing. I wear hiking or running shirt over a thermal undershirt, a hoodie, fleece jacket, and light and breathable outside shell. For bottom layers, I wear thermal underpants and hiking pants.
3. Hiking boots and wool socks.
Mono Lake at dawn
Among all those gears, if you ask me, which one will you most likely wear the most? For me, the answer is: hoodie!
You can wear your hoodie as an inside layer like in the above situation, or wear it casually when the temperature is only chilly but not freezing cold. Because I wear hoodie a lot of the times, I always watch when there are good hoodie sale. I prefer zipped hoodie since it is easier for layering, and will not mess up my hair when I need to take it off when it feels warmer. For colors, I prefer blue or brown or black hoodie for street walking, however, I do have some brighter colors such as red, yellow and orange for hiking!
Yellow Aeropostale Hoodie For Hiking
Why that bright yellow color for hiking? We never know what will happen, it is best always if we wear something that we can easily be seen by our rescuers if we are lost. Thankfully, many brands such as Aeropostale hoodie carry really a wide selection of colors, and right now, at half the price!
Mono Lake, Sunrise
Will you give up on sights such as these just because of negative temperature?
Mono Lake, a few minutes after sunrise
Or, are you willing to gear up for the cold?
Sunday, November 20, 2011
The Vast Desert at Manzanar National Historical Site"The first thing we were asked to do was to fill the sack with straw. That would be our bed. Night came and I saw holes up the roof. I saw stars, so BEAUTIFUL. We woke up with sand all over us. The desert, it is so brutally hot in the summer, bone chilling cold in the winter, and there was always the WIND."- some words that haunted me after watching "Remembering Manzanar". A walk in Manzanar National Historical Site relives the painful history where Japanese Americans were put in isolation in this internment camp right in the middle of the desert.
Japanese Garden ( Japanese loves nature and rocks, and in their internment camp, they put up several gardens)
It's hard not to feel sad walking at this site's interpretative trail, which relives a painful history of the past. PLease click Manzanar National Historical Site to learn more about the place.
Friday, November 11, 2011
View of San Diego Bay from Island Prime, Harbor Island, San DiegoAmerica's Cup World Series is in town. Most people would probably crowd the San Diego Embarcadero and Marina Park to experience the live fast action sailing race on high speed catamarans. We will avoid the crowd in marina and downtown area to have more solitude in witnessing the world's most prestigious sailing competition.
We have our little secret where to photograph quietly during international sailing events. Because America's Cup shares the race track along the bay, we know exactly where is the closest spot to witness how high speed catamarans perform on a race without fighting with the crowds. What is also ideal about this place is that it is very close to some of San Diego's nicest restaurants with a view such as Island Prime.
Island Prime and San Diego Downtown from Harbor Island
Island Prime is located on Harbor Island Drive. Actually, the entire length of the Harbor Island is good for taking photos of sailing events since this is where the sail racing track passes. There are many nice restaurants in the area, but oftentimes, we just go to Island Prime since it is closest to our quiet spot. Island Prime Restaurant has a stilt-supported structure, thus it gives a feeling of being in the middle of the bay if you are inside.
Shot Through The Glass Wall Inside Island Prime Restaurant
During peak hours however, if you are very hungry and does not have reservation, you may want to skip Island Prime since the wait is very long, unless you called in for reservation. If we do not have reservation, we spend our waiting time taking photos of the scenery around or of the events if there is one along the boardwalk. The boardwalk here is very long and is a lot quieter compared to the Embarcadero Marina Park closer to downtown.
San Diego Bay from Harbor Island's Board Walk
Island Prime is a prime restaurant for seafood and steak that has great views all around, from Point Loma to North Island to downtown San Diego. While waiting for the entree, they give you bread that is so uniquely delicious.
Island Prime's Bread (served while waiting for entree)- this bread is really so uniquely delicious
I usually do not take pictures of the food that we eat, however, because of the cell phone these days, it is now easier for me to take pictures of the food without getting noticed :)
Seared Ahi Tuna on a Bed of Wilted Spinach and Arugula
Colorado Lamb Rock
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
at Yale University, New Haven, CT eight years ago
Flashback eight years ago....I was barely a year in US, living in a place all by myself with weather so opposite than my country of origin, Philippines. Behind the smiles were tears of homesickness that I felt no one then clearly understood.
at Central Park, New York, NY eight years ago
I would spend hours in the cell phone talking to some of my friends in California or back home in the Philippines sharing how I wanted to go back home and give up the life I found in US. For my family and friends in California, having gone through the same struggles when they started in US, their words of comfort were: " Give it another year or two, Betch, if you can. It's very hard, but you won't be giving yourself a chance to really find your place and heart here if you decide this early when your heart is still clouded by homesickness. If after a year or two, you still feel the same, then, it's about time to listen to that feelings of going back to the life you left in Philippines." For my friends back in the Philippines, the words were: "If you go back, the person who took your job will lose hers. Why would you go back, so many wanted to be in your shoes, of getting a decent job in US?" I cannot blame my friends back home, for I too, thought initially life in US was a bed of roses; maybe it is, complete with THORNS and not just the rosy petals.
When I came to US, I thought I would be closer to most of my friends, in California, BUT , fate brought me to CT. I came to CT without knowing a single soul except my academic director who hired me to teach in his school. When I accepted the job, all I saw then was the dollar sign, multiplying whatever I will earn by 50 to get the pesos equivalent. THAT was one of my motivation. But then, just like most other new immigrants, homesickness and some reality bites got in the way of motivation.
My first reality bite was I had to pay $500 rent for a bedroom that my director offered to me. I wanted to move out and rent a $500 one bedroom apartment where I would have my own kitchen, living room, etc, compared to a mere bedroom. When I applied to rent an apartment after my first paycheck, I was outright denied by the apartment complex after they have checked my free credit score online, which we too can access if we do not want surprises. But those days, what did I know about credit scores? I HAD ZERO credit score, was the reason given to me why they cannot trust me as tenant. How can I build my credit history? Obviously, by opening a credit.
Question: But how can I open a credit?
Answer: If you have a good credit score!
DUH! My biggest challenge then was, how can I open up a credit when I have no credit history? How can I slowly build my credit score when no bank would let me open a credit? A Filipina friend I met in CT through my academic director helped me start building my credit score by applying for mobile subscription where she was my guarantor, and applying for small bank "cooperative" type of credit card where again, she was my guarantor.
There was one myth from her and our friends though that I did not follow, that is to never pay my credit card balance in full because that will not raise my credit score. I did not listen, and told them there is NO WAY I will let the bank earn money from me through interest. I told them my account would still have activity every month since I will use my card to buy necessities such as grocery and other needs, but will not buy anything that I can not pay in FULL after the billing cycle. I believe credit card is a means to save, not as as a headache paying unnecessary interests. I set my credit card account to automatically withdraw from my bank the full balance each billing cycle so that I won't pay for any penalty and I do not have to worry about forgetting the due date. I also did not listen to the encouragement of others to apply for many credit cards as possible to raise my credit score. I simply do not believe in it and I just could not take having too many plastic cards to carry. I believe if the bank sees you have too many loans and credit and can hardly pay them because there is always balance left, they won't trust you and give you good credit score. Thankfully, after more than eight years, building credit history is no longer my concern. But once a while, I do check my free credit score online just so I know that the product of my hard work is kept and no identity theft is abusing it.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
fall foliage at Lake Poway
dust of snow at Potato Chip Rock
dust of now at Potato Chip Rock
spring wildflowers lining the trail
spring wildflowers lining the trail
spring wildflowers lining the trail
spring wildflowers lining the trail