Archive for 2012

Minecraft Steve Halloween Costume

Caleb, like all boys his age are raving-mad over this little-known game…something called “Minecraft,” which is really building with Legos, but in a video game. He wanted to be Steve this year, the hero, main character of the game, which presented a pretty nice challenge for a Halloween costume:

Steve
His blockiness, Steve

I tackled the easy things first and did the Iron Sword. I found many templates online, but being the perfectionist I am when it comes to these things, I couldn’t stand the low-res quality I was getting when printed out. So I ended up just creating the sword myself in Illustrator:

Iron Sword Illustrator template
Drawing out the iron sword in Illustrator

One of the perks of having an uncle who designs boxes for a box company is being able to get any box at any size, made to order. I measured Caleb for a box for his head, torso, and arms.

I found a lot of brave parents who blazed the trail of making Steve costumes for their kids. The best one I found on instructables was very helpful. His templates were specific to the size boxes he used so once again, I ended up creating the Steve “skins” for the boxes myself.

Designing in Illustrator was the easy part. I spent an hour at work using the paper cutter to cut the skins across a multitude of pages. Glueing the pages around the boxes was no picnic either, but when it was all over, we had a great-looking Steve costume!

Iron Sword Costume done!

Minecraft Steve Costume Complete!

Caleb donned the costume and made his debut at a Halloween party we had at my cousin’s house:

Steve!

Closeup on the head

Later we went trick or treating on Halloween, and there was no end to the amount of compliments Caleb got on his costume. We heard a lot of “Look it’s Steve!” and “Hi Steve!” and even, “can I get a picture with Steve?” It was great.

See all the pictures of Caleb’s Steve costume in the Flickr set

Tough Mudder

Tough Mudders
Not exactly smiling in the end

After months of sporadic training, Lem, Danny, and I completed the 12-miles and 16 obstacles and joined the ranks of Tough Mudders! Mud runs and Tough Mudder has been around for years and is probably at the height of it’s popularity. Never heard of Tough Mudder? Watch this short video:

After seeing more and more friends join in, I proposed the idea to Lem last year and he pulled the trigger and got the team together. I got myself some shoes and started running.

I have to say, I personally really underestimated Tough Mudder. The obstacles take center-stage in all the videos, photos, and advertising, and I remember thinking, “that looks challenging, but not THAT hard.” And it’s true, for us, the obstacles were challenging, but weren’t that bad. It was the miles in-between that were brutal. The hills were numerous and very steep at times. The 90-degree heat was not helpful and we lost several fellow Mudders to medic-calls due to exhaustion. None of us were exempt from painful cramping.

A comment on one of the pictures of the hills put it best: “We used the obstacles to rest up for the next hill.”

Tim’s Obstacle Awards

  • Most punishing obstacle: Electric Eeel – Getting shocked was more painful than I imagined it would be, and it’s frightening not being able to dodge the wires or run through as fast as possible like “Electroshock Therapy.”
  • Easiest obstacle: Mud Mile – Just an excuse to get you covered in mud. It’s basically going on a series of slides into pools of mud.
  • Most underestimated obstacle: Hanging Tough – Rings are just like monkey bars, right? Nope, they are farther apart than you can reach, so you have to time everything just right and not miss, otherwise your hanging and spinning on one ring like a fool until you fall.
  • Most over-hyped obstacle: Everest – A marquee obstacle on all the videos, Everest looked more daunting than it actually was. It definitely helps to have someone grab you at the top, but Danny had no problem doing it himself, and we all made it first try.

It was an awesome feeling of accomplishment being able to cross the finish, as someone crowns you with the coveted orange headband. Ice-cold beer never tasted so good! Thanks for the memories Tough Mudder. I’ll be back next year!

Video!

A big, big thanks to Chesney for sticking around in the desert heat for hours just to get us some great photos (all of which are now on Timches.com)

Update

They put up the video from our location!

Some notes for next year…
  • Gloves were nice, but not mandatory as the website makes it seem.
  • Knees got really ripped up from all the crawling. Not sure how to keep that from happening next time though. I saw some had knee braces, but I don’t think I would want those on for 12 miles
  • A Camelbak would have been nice, at least for our heat conditions
  • Cramping was a problem for all of us, and while there were water stations, stations with bananas and energy drops weren’t as frequent
  • I’d like to take a Go Pro camera and video the whole course

The Yearly Ventura LAN Party Post

2012 Ventura Lan
Gaming is riveting.

Pictures from the 2012 Ventura LAN Party. Yeah, I know it’s 2012, and LANs have died out, but this tradition has become more than just gaming–it’s become the one time every year that I get to see these guys!

Thanks to Evan, Tim, and Todd for putting this all together year after year.

Sharkie Bobble Heads!

A while back everyone’s favorite mascot S.J. Sharkie posted a contest on both Twitter and Facebook asking his fans to post their favorite picture of him to win a prize. I posted this photo I took of he and Caleb during the FINatical Kids Club Skate with Sharkie event:

Later I find out that my picture won! Sharkie used the photo as his cover photo on Facebook for a week:

Sharkie bobble heads!

…and I received this in the mail about a week later!

Sharkie bobble heads!

Signed even! It should be worth millions in a few years. I guess I should give at least one of the bobble-heads to Caleb since he’s in the photo…maybe he’ll inherit them when he’s old enough.

Thanks Sharkie–love the bobble heads!

The EOS M – Canon’s New Mirrorless Camera

The Canon EOS M is what I have been waiting for. I love my Canon 7D and it has served me well for the last 3 years–it even gets new firmware next month for some added new life. But there have been plenty of times when I wish I could bring a more compact camera, but have never been happy with the point-and-shoot quality of photos. The EOS M fills that gap.

Canon T4i / 650d vs Canon EOS M
The size difference between the Canon T4i and the new EOS M. My 7D is even larger than the T4i!
(photo from dpreview.com)

This is Canon’s version of a “mirrorless” camera–which is essentially an SLR without the mirror. Without the need to house the flipping mirror mechanism, it allows the camera body to be much smaller, while maintaining all the other great qualities of an SLR. It’s really the best of both worlds: the quality of a SLR with a point-and-shoot’s more portable form factor.

Even though Canon EOS M has another lens mount, there will be an adapter that will let me use all my current lenses, if I ever want to do that. I don’t have this lens, but if I did, I could do this:

EOS M + huge lens

It is definitely nice to have a quality camera with me at all times–my iPhone–but for those times when I want to grab a real camera and get really great-quality photos…but don’t want to be that guy with the gigantic, intimidating, pro-sized SLR, the EOS M will be perfect!

First 10k: Check!

I started running a couple months ago, and Lem convinced me to run CityTeam’s Run 4 Recovery 5k/10k with him, so I signed up! The 3-week Philippines trip kind of threw a wrench into my running schedule, and I hadn’t been running regularly ever since, but I did manage to get several practice runs in before the event.

I was only planning on running the 5k, but the way the route was constructed, we ran 5k out, then turned around and ran back to the starting point, so since I was going to have to turn around and come back anyway, I just ran it. So I ended up running the 10k in around and hour and 10 minutes–the longest I’ve ever run at one time. Here’s my run stats and map on MapMyRun.com.

So happy!
We are just so happy to be running!

Thanks Lem for getting me into the event. Lots of fun! Painful fun, but fun.

Pictures of the event

Repairing Hockey Pants

Back in February I won a contest by HockeyGiant simply by posting a picture of Lem and I in our Mark it Zero jerseys. For my trouble I received a $50 Gift Certificate and I used it to get myself a set of Bauer One60 pants:

Bauer One60 pants

Well in the championship game last season, I took a skate to the pants and found some nice slices in my newest piece of equipment! It sliced right through to the plastic inserts and all the way through to the other side where the plastic insert ended. Luckily the skate blade didn’t go any further or I would have a nice scar as a souvenir! I didn’t even notice the rips until the next game the following week.

Bauer One40 pants

After consulting the wisdom of the internet, I was directed to pick up some canvas iron-on patches from my local Michael’s. It didn’t match exactly, but it is better than ripped up pants.

Bauer One40 pants

I stuck a patch on the inside the hole with the adhesive side up and placed a matching patch adhesive side down on top. With a towel in one hand and an iron in the other, ironed the patch until it was good and stuck.

Bauer One40 pants

Pretty good for 10 minutes of work!

Not a Bad Start

I completed my first month of running. I had a little bit of a setback in the last week because of the playoffs with Mark it Zero, then getting too sick to run, but I think it’s a good start. When I fist started, I was huffing after only running a single mile, but now I’m up to 2 miles without any problems. My only real problem is carving out the time to go on these runs now that they are pushing 20 minutes. That, and boredom while running!

I’ve been using both Strava and iMapMyRun–both great apps–to track my progress. Here’s the month of April on mapmyrun:

April running

I went on one mile-long trail run with steep grades, but I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. That run killed my calves! Caleb on his scooter has gone with me on several of my long runs, going ahead of me on his scooter than waiting. It’s nice to have company while running.

I hope to start trying out 3 mile runs next week.

Coldplay Live at HP!

Coldplay concert
Confetti, wrist bands that light up the place…Coldplay really knows how to put on a show!

I got a chance to see Coldplay at Steve Job’s memorial at the main campus last year, and that’s when I decided that we need to go see them live.

So, several years late to the party, Chesney and I went to our very first Coldplay concert at HP Pavilion! We are not concert-goers, but we both love Coldplay, and I thought it would be a good Christmas present for Chesney last year. I snatched up tickets on Ticketmaster as soon as they were available (that was an experience in itself), and a year later we were sitting in the lower bowl at HP Pavilion witnessing Coldplay put on their famous shows.

Through the years, we’ve always heard friends and family talk about how good Coldplay is live, and they weren’t kidding! We were given multicolored bracelets when we entered the stadium and were told to put them on. Coldplay made their entrance to the Back to the Future theme (awesome), and when they began their first song, thousands of bracelets lit up the place, blinking to the beats of Mylo Xyloto. It was spectacular!

Even without all the lights, confetti, beach balls, or props, Coldplay just sounded awesome live. Chris Martin was dynamic and entertained with his running from one end of the stage to the other. For their encore, they appeared in the other end of HP in an aisle and played a song from there!

All in all, it was a great night–Coldplay did not disappoint. Chesney and I both took pictures and video and they’re up on our site.

Almost Champs

MiZ Winter 2011
MiZ Winter 2011

Last year I started ice hockey and even designed our team’s jerseys. Yeah, that season turned out to be a pretty bad one for Mark it Zero and we finished dead last in our single-E division. Personally, it was a season of learning for me. I was still learning how to really skate effectively and play positional hockey–something I didn’t have to worry about as much in my years and years of roller hockey.

The following season we had some turnover, had a captaincy change, picked up some new players, and really came together as a team, finishing 2nd in E West, giving us a bye in the first round of the playoffs. In our first playoff game against Ice Legion, we stuck to our game plan of conservative, defense-first play, and finished strong with a 4-1 win! photos

The Angry Beavers knocked off 32 Degrees, the team that took 1st place in the West above us, so we faced them next. With a hot goaltender, an awesome penalty kill that went 8 for 8, and forwards that got the job done, we shut out the Angry Beavers 4-0! photos

We came into the championship on a hot streak, outscoring our opponents 8-1 in the playoffs, and we cautiously confident facing The Reapers, the winners of the East. The play was pretty even but we had the lead 2-1 at the start of the 3rd period. Then everything fell apart and we gave up 3 unanswered goals, losing in the final, 2-4. photos

Thanks to Lem for being there for every game to take pictures! I put together an album of the best shots.

Nothing to be ashamed of this season, given our season before. We were proud of our squad and had a deep playoff run! Congratulations, Mark it Zero on a great season! The full E division playoff run

For me, this season I really got my “ice legs.” Even though I spent a year skating Gretzky Hours, playing pick-up, and even completing an intermediate ice hockey class, it felt like I spent my first season in learning mode. I would often blow a tire, or go down to the ice easily. This season, I’m happy to say that I’ve improved quite a bit. Though my points were down, I play my position better and cut down on allowing breakaways or blowing coverage. I can’t wait to (hopefully) improve even more next season!

playing D
Playing good D and smiling while doing it!

A Season of Sharks at the Tank

HP Pavilion, section 205, row 9, seats 10 and 11
At the last game of the regular season, me in our seats for the 2011-2012 season:
section 205, row 9, seats 10 and 11!

And so ends my first season as a Sharks season ticket holder! Or rather, season ticket co-holder. Chesney’s parents were oh-so-kind enough to gift a large portion of the cost of season tickets to us, so we split the two seats between the three families.

It was a great year of Sharks games! Because we had tickets to so many games, I was able to go with Chesney and Tayte, and have some father-son time with Caleb and Tyler for some games as well. There wasn’t as much pressure to get get there way before game start time.

We were lucky–out of all the Sharks games Chesney and I went to, we only saw them lose twice–the rest of the time were glorious victories and fun times at HP!

And though the Sharks made the quickest 1st round exit in franchise history this year (a blog post for another time), it was great to be able to go to so many games. A big thanks to Andrew and Brittany and Curt and Donni for all the child-care throughout the season, and giving Chesney and I a chance at some Sharks game date nights!

Season tickets
Happily divy’ing up the season tickets between the 3 families
Tayte and I
Tayte and I doze off during one of the more boring games…
Chesney and Tayte
Tayte got to go to a lot of games
Tyler and I
Because we had so many games, we got to take each of the kids at different times during the season
Caleb and Sharkie
Caleb happened to be in the right place at the right time to get some 1 on 1 time with Sharkie!

So I’ve Started Running

I’ve promised myself I would start running many times before, so we’ll see how long this lasts! I’ve noticed that my beer gut has been getting more pronounced in my ripe, old age of 32, and it looks especially ridiculous to have a beer gut when you’ve got a slim build like mine.

In everything that I do, I’ve always been a gear-head, so I wanted to get the right running shoes. Oliver mentioned that he had to get a specific type of running shoe because of his flat feet, and that got me researching the different kinds of running shoes for foot/gait types. Armed with the knowledge that I probably needed either really good stability or motion control shoes, I headed over to Sports Basement to find the right pair that I liked.

One of the guys at Sports Basement had me run down the aisle with my shoes off to analyze the amount of pronation was going on, and just as I suspected, we Malabuyo boys “severely overpronate,” as the guy put it. So motion-control shoes it is. I tried every motion control type shoes that they had and settled on these beauties:

Brooks Addiction

I was leaning towards the Asics Evolutions…but then I saw the Brooks were on sale, so I snagged those instead. So far, I’ve been pretty happy with them–which is a good thing, since these are the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever laid down money for.

I’m only doing very short mile to mile-and-a-half runs so far, but I hope to work myself up to a solid 6 mile run at a 10 minute mile pace. It should be a good fitness complement to hockey, especially during any long gaps between games.

Lightroom Convert Here

Lightroom's Interface
My Lightroom trial has been a joy to use over the Easter weekend.

Hey, I’ve been inspired to make an entry in my blog! So here goes…

I’ve spent hours over the last couple days going over the pictures that I’ve taken over the Easter weekend–and there were a lot of pictures–only this time instead of using Aperture, I used Lightroom. I’ve actually been using the demo for the last month, but it didn’t take me that long to warm up to it. Being a longtime Aperture supporter, I really didn’t want to like it as much as I do, but I have to be honest: right now, Lightroom is just the better product.

Lightroom’s speed alone gives it the advantage in my book. For years I have been grumbling over Aperture’s sluggish performance. I knew it was slow, but I didn’t know the competition was that much faster. Lightroom is snappier, and it’s interface and little options here and there actually makes tasks quicker through 1 or 2 less clicks. When I can import, browse, and edit my photos more quickly, over the course of thousands of photos…it all adds up to lots of time saved!

Lightroom also has a superior interface as well, when I used to think the opposite (I guess I should try out the competition before deciding things like that). LR’s philosophy in workflow is different from Aperture’s to be sure, but the panels are more customizable, easily shown and hidden, and I do now think that Adobe’s approach to folders is better.

The tools are better. Sorry Aperture, they just are, as much as I hate to say it. There is actually noise reduction and lens correction built-in. The vignette effect is much more flexible.

I have been an Aperture-user from the very beginning, and Apple even had a head-start on Lightroom, so it’s pretty disappointing to see that Aperture has languished while Lightroom has thrived to the point where, for my money, it is the superior product. Hats off to you, Adobe! While I believe some of your products suffer feature bloat and a UI that still hangs on to the 90’s, Lightroom is in a class all it’s own, and a great tool for photographers!