Sunday, April 20, 2008

San Francisco by night (Saturday night)

Castro street and The Castro Theater:

A cable car:

California Street:

Ferry building:

Bay Bridge:

AT&T Park:

King Street:

Mniami food :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ras Malai

Here is a recipe for my new favorite dessert(*):

1kg (2lbs) of ricotta cheese mix with 0.5 glass (120g) sugar; spread this mix in a baking pan (25x25cm); bake at 350F for around 45 minutes; let it cool down to room temperature and then cut it into squares of the size that fits your needs (I would cut it into 20-25 squares)

Boil 1l (1/4 of a gallon) of milk (depending on your preferences it can be full-fat or reduced fat milk). Cool it down to room temperature and add 1 tablespoon of saffron and 1 tablespoon of freshly-ground cardamom seeds. Pour it over the baked cheese mix and store in the fridge for 1-3h before serving.

Cut 1/3 cup of blanched almonds and 1/3 cup of pistachios into small pieces and decorate the cheese squares with them.

Total working time - 5-10 minutes.

(*) a favorite dessert is defined as something that is delicious, easy to make and that can feed many people at once

lack of posting

Dear Readers,
Surely you have noticed that both in the month of March and April I was not posting much. There were several reasons for that. First and foremost, throughout March I was taking a scuba diving course, which was effectively blocking all of my Tuesdays and Thursdays late afternoons/evenings. Additionally, after this "city" part of the course I had to go for two weekends to Monterey area for "real" ocean dives.
The second reason for which I was not blogging much was a sailing course that I started two weeks ago. Unfortunately, I got rather seriously injured during this course when the boat on which I was sailing capsized (details will follow in another post). Because of this injury I spent whole week in bed heavily drugged and sleeping 20/24h a day. Of course now I am extremely busy at work trying to finish everything before I leave for Europe next week. On top of that, now that I finally decided to find time to at least finish the posts about scuba diving and sailing that I started writing some time ago, my laptop is going through yet another personality crisis, which means that I do not have an access to the computer/internet at home. And writing posts at work somehow feels wrong.
Anyway, I should come back to regular schedule of posting soon, so bare with me :)
Bis bald ;)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Nikon D40 vs Casio Exilim V8

Photos taken from South-West corner of Dolores Park at three different magnifications:

Casio Exilim V8 "landscape"- best scene mode 1x magnification:

Casio Exilim V8 "landscape"- best scene mode 3x magnification:

Casio Exilim V8 "landscape"- best scene mode 7x magnification:

Nikon D40 with 18-55mm lens, at 18mm:

Nikon D40 with 18-55mm lens, at 55mm:

Nikon D40 with 55-200mm lens, at 200mm:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Casio Exilim series

That is something truly impressive - the newest Casio Exilim F1 can take 60 (SIXTY) photos per second!!! My old Casio Exilim Z750 could take one photo per second (as any other compact digital camera that you own), my beloved Nikon D40 can take 2.5 photos per second and this new Casio Exilim F1 can take 60!!! Unbelievable.

I would say that if you often find yourself taking pictures of people doing sports that's the camera you want. It costs only around 1000$ and that sounds as excellent QPR to me.

I've been very pleased with the photo quality of Casio Exilim Z750 (e.g. all my Africa photos that are posted here where taken with that camera), so I have strong reasons to believe that Casio can make excellent "amateur"-type of cameras. In fact, I was so happy with my old Exilim that when it broke, I decided to replace it with the newer model of Exilim. This time I decided to buy Casio Exilim V8. I thought that it is a perfect choice for me as two major reasons why I would need a compact camera at all are: (1) taking movies; (2) taking photos underwater. (My Nikon D40 does not take movies and price of underwater housing for it is simply ridiculous - $1350!).

Casio Exilim V8 has 7x optical zoom, no protruding lens and vibration reduction. Moreover, it offers good quality video with stereo sound and possibility of zooming in and out (by 7x) during taking of the movie. Not less important to me was also reasonable price of its underwater housing. I have not tested yet this set up during scuba diving, but as soon as I will, I will report back here how well it performs.

my new room in wide-angle

My wide-angle (10-20mm) lens arrived today, so I immediately tested its possibilities on my new room (around month ago Kristina moved out from our house and I moved to her former room as it gets more sunlight, has a working fireplace and is slightly bigger than my old room).

So here is how my room looks right now:

For comparison here are pictures of my room taken two weeks ago with my "old" 18-55mmm lens:

Isn't it impressive how much more you can see on the photos taken with a wide-angle lens? I just can not wait to take my first landscape pictures with this lens! And I am also very happy that it arrived well in advance of my Europe trip, so I will have a chance to take it there with me and hopefully take a few nice pictures with it.

Oh, and I am very happy that the old mosaic that I made for the window of my former room also fits in my new one:

Polish Easter

The weekend before last I was invited by my newly acquired friend Michal for the Polish Easter Picnic in Skyline Park nearby Saratoga. I extended Michal's invitation to Ania, Jakub and their adorable daughter Maja.

I met Michal during a scuba diving course that I took recently, where he was one of my instructors. Michal is also the head of Polish Yacht Club in SF and probably because of that most of his friends that attended the Easter Picnic were people that knew each other through the sailing connection.

Even though Ania, Jakub and I were much younger than the majority of people who were there and we did not know anybody else than Michal, still everybody was very open towards us and treated us as a part of their big family. Thanks to that this Easter did have a lot of homely feeling about itself.

As Polish tradition requires, there was plenty of delicious food:

Sweats section was particularly interesting:

Maja spent half of the picnic trying different home-made sweats:

There was even a basket with traditional "blessed" food:

And of course painted eggs:

As American Easter tradition requires, there were also plastic eggs with sweats inside that were later on hidden throughout the park for kids to search for:

Here kids are investigating the eggs that they found:

Maja showed no interest in this American tradition and instead she preferred to play with soap bubbles:

However, Maja was very interested in Mexican Easter tradition, which involved singing a special song and hitting the pink object filled with candies as strongly as possible, so that it breaks open letting it's contents drop on the ground for kids to collect:

Maja's cute smile won hearts of Mexican family...

... so that they invited her to join in their game:

But whose heart would not melt for this little angel?