Tag Archives: california

Critical Mass Bikers Riding Through Fashion Valley Food Court

After riding about 14 miles throughout San Diego we arrived at the Fashion Valley Mall. As we rode our bikes through the parking garage I thought this would be end point. Instead all 400+ Critical Mass riders made their way through the food court, down the ramps and finally everyone got stuck as the escalators.

After reaching the mall Aaron and I decided to head back home. We took a shortcut from Mission Valley up to Hillcrest which was fairly steep. After the hill Aaron and I parted and I headed home. All in all it was a great time, extremely entertaining.


Climbing Mt. Whitney

This past weekend some friends and I climbed Mt. Whitney which is the highest mountain in the contiguous 48 states. The peak sits at an altitude of 14,497.61 feet and the campground is just around 8000ft.

We woke up around 2AM and started the hike around 3AM which gave us about 3 hours of night hiking. All in all the uphill hike took about 10 hours and we only got to 13,000 ft. We didn’t go the rest of the way because of improper equipment. We didn’t have crampons and ice axes which apparently were critical in order to make it past the ice cliffs

I took plenty of other photographs(205) and took some movies(16) that you can see at http://www.flickr.com/photos/damienhowley/sets/72157620426196020/.

I hope you enjoy


California’s stimulus killer

Well we’ve done it again, took a long term federal plan and ripped it to shreds by the States short term actions.  What am I referring to you may ask?  I’m referring to the  recent changes in taxes throughout California and many other states across the country.

Just two days ago a series of new taxes began in California.  The new taxes include things like increased sales tax, increased gas tax, increased sin taxes and others.  Well what is the problem with that you may ask?  The state is broke and the economy is crashing and the only solution to this entire mess is to get more money from the california tax payers. Great huh!

So what happens now?  In the short term it makes sense; if everyone used to pay X dollars for an item now they pay X plus an additional 2.5% thus giving the state more money.  Wow what an easy concept!  However, in time this increase in tax will ultimately lead to an change in the average livestyle consumption throughout California.  Thus the real equation is not what I stated previously, instead it is; if everyone used to buy X amount of items they now by X minus 2.5%.

So if you used to buy 100 widgets per month now you only buy 97.5.  Wait, I thought the economy need stimulating?  How can the economy be stimulated if consumers are buying less?  This doesn’t make sense.  The worse news is that California didn’t have the highest sales tax increase.  For instance Illinois apparantly doubled their sales tax to somehwere around 15% (please comment if you know the real numbers).

The question I now have is “where does this stop?”  If the government is pumping billions of dollars into the economy and then taxing billions of dollars out of the economy are we any better of?  That’s not even considering the affects of deflation.

This just doesn’t make sense to me but I am not an economist, so I just hope that somewhere out there someone has considered this scenario more than I have.



A San Diego winter day

I love the fact that I live in San Diego and although I regret to say this I do a pretty damn good job of rubbing it in everyone else’s face.  I really only do it because I want them to live here to and enjoy this beautiful city.  Anyway, today was March 1st and whereas most people across the country are putting on their hats and gloves my friends and I headed to Mission Bay for a day of sailing.  It was absolutely beautiful weather and the wind was quite good.  Roy, Melody and I rented a 16′ sailboat and headed out to sail bay where we met up with Max and his group.

The wind was just perfect and because it was my first time sailing the 16′ (I’ve rented the 18′ and 22′ many times before) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  Because of the strong winds we had no problem leaning the boat and at some points even took on water.  I captained the sailboat for the first 2 hours and then I gave it to Roy and Melody to take care of the rest.  When I was free I took the opportunity to take some photos  with my new camera which I was quite happy with.

As you can see it really was a beautiful day out.  I also took my point and shoot digital camera for video but I left the memory card at home.  I can’t wait to take video next time.


My new Olympus Evolt

As usual Melody spent way too much on my for Valentines day, she bought me an Olympus Evolt 520 Digital SLR camera.  Even though she spent more than me I have to say that I would prefer my camera to the jewelery that I got her.  To each is own I suppose.  Anyway after ordering the other required pieces from Amazon (compact flash card and a carrying bag)  I went out this morning with Roy and took a ton of pictures.  We went to Seaport Village which is right on San Diego Bay and is quite nice.  With the combination of the beautiful weather and the scenery/atmosphere I got some nice shots.  

All in all I was very happy with the 100 or so photos I took.  It was my first time using a digital SLR so I have a lot to learn.  

One of the more troubling issues was converting the images from .orf (olympus raw format) to .jpeg so I could upload them to flickr.  After much research and a couple failded downloads I found a .orf to .dng (digital negative) converter and once I had them in .dng (lossless quality conversion) I could open them with Adobe Browser.  From there I selected the .dng photograhps and right clicked on them to open them in Adobe Camera Raw.  Adobe Camera Raw then allowed me to modify the lights/darks etc and then batch save them as .jpg.   

Apparantly this situation can be remedied by upgrading to Adobe Photoshop CS3+ which supports the new Adobe Camera Raw 5.7 (CS2 only supports up to ACR 3.7 which doesn’t support .orf).