Monday, March 30, 2009


On Saturday, when the gods of weather smiled upon Provo, I found some time late in the day to hike. My good friends Mike and Linda came along and together we meandered up a trail on the north rim of rock canyon - one that I've hiked probably 20 or more times.

What I love so much about this hike are the spires of red rock that jut out into the canyon. One can scramble out to their scenic vistas without too much trouble.

Check out the pictures!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Running Man

I laced up my new shoes today for a nice four mile run - eager to enjoy this beautiful spring weather. My mp3 player had been freshly stocked with a plethora of upbeat workout music. Google desktop said it was a gorgeous 53 degrees outside - a perfect temperature for a run.

As I headed out the door, I thought about bringing my key, but figured that since everyone was still home I wouldn't need it. Off I went, bounding through the streets of Provo with Flo Rida in my ears and the cool, March breeze against my face.

The run went extremely well. For the first time in weeks I felt no pain in my shins, no twinging in my right knee. The only downside was that at about three miles into the run - and halfway through Seether's version of "Careless Whisper" - the batteries in my mp3 player died, leaving me to run to the rhythm of my breathing. Something about listening to yourself breathe, when you're used to music, makes the run a bit more difficult. Nonetheless, I did enjoy the run and came home feeling very good.

When I attempted to open the door to my apartment, however, the handle refused to move. It was locked.

Now, one must understand that we have roommates that don't like people very much, or at least that's what I assume because they ALWAYS lock the door even when we're all home. It's weird. And it has caused me to seriously consider disabling the locking mechanism on our door somehow. Anyway, so I decided to ring the doorbell, because sometimes if I'm locked out I can ring the doorbell and Patrick (my Asian roommate) will come grudgingly to the door to let me in. Well, after a few rings nobody came to the door. I picked some yellowing tape - the remnants of fliers posted years ago - from the door as I waited.

No response.

I rang again and decided to do some stretching while I waited.

Again, no response.

I mashed my fingers against the doorbell in vain repetition with the fury and speed of a spider monkey. The cacophony inside must have been ear-shattering. And yet, there was still no response.

At this point in time I decided that my roommates had most certainly all left the apartment. My only hope of getting inside would be to run to a friends house and see if I could call Scott, find out where he currently was, and run there to retrieve the key from him. My guess was that he was up on campus or that he was at work (at the MTC.) Both locations were no more than a few miles round trip, so I wasn't too concerned.

I put my earphones back in (yeah, there's no sound coming from them, but it's better than running with earphones in your hand) and ran over to Laura's place. (Laura is a mutual friend of Scott and mine and lives only about a quarter of a mile away from us.) I got to her place and knocked. No answer. A 20-something woman with a baby riding her hip walked up to me with a cheerful smile.

"Do you need to talk to somebody in this apartment?"

"No, I enjoy knocking on random doors. It's this weird thing I have."

I didn't really say that. I'm not that mean. What I actually said was "Yeah, I do."

She explained that she was going to show this apartment to some potential tenants and proceeded to unlock the door and walk inside. Nobody was home, however, so I thanked her for her help and took off running again.

A few minutes and one mile later, I was at Mike's apartment. (Mike is a great friend of mine who used to share a room with me at the Halls.) I arrived and asked if I could use his phone. He gladly obliged and I called Scott. Scott didn't answer so I left a message and kicked it with Mike, his roommates, and a very good looking (albeit engaged) girl. We talked for a moment about whatever meaningless crap college students talk about when they need to fill a few minutes with a complete stranger, and then Scott called back.

I asked him where he was, preparing my mind and body for a long run to get the key from him. He replied, quite casually, with, "I'm at the apartment."

"Where you there earlier?"

"Yeah, I've not left since you left running."

"Dude! I was there like 15 minutes ago ringing the doorbell like a speed junkie! Did you not hear it?"

"Um, no. I didn't." Scott replied in his typical chill, casual tone.

"Wow. Well, the door was locked and... anyway, I'll be there in a second."

"K. I just unlocked the door for you."

Well, when I got back we figured out that Scott happened to be in the bathroom at the exact same time I was ringing the doorbell. We also realized that with the bathroom fan on, the doorbell is completely inaudible. You don't even hear a faint remnant of the noise.

All in all I ran about 6.5 miles. And even after all that, I have no pain at all in my shins, which is huge considering I'm just now starting to run again after a nasty case of shin splints.

I love my new Sauconys.

The new treads.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hurricane Photos

These are from last weekend when I went down to visit my grandparents in Hurricane, Utah. I hope you like them!

A scenic picture of the not-so-scenic I-15.

A lighthouse at the south end of Cedar City. Why? I don't know.

This is when I love my zoom lens. This guy was enjoying the warm weather as much as we were.

One of the many cottonwoods near the Virgin River.

Ty hiked with me. As you can see, handsome runs in the family.

This makes me miss warmer weather.

Muddy, yes. But the Virgin River is still very pretty.

There was some old concrete foundation or something on the other side of the river. We didn't want to get our shoes wet, so we passed on the opportunity to explore.

So many tracks! It's too bad most animals out there are nocturnal.

I almost stepped on this poor guy. It's the first Horned Toad I've seen since I was like 8.

The way back looked like a scene out of the Grapes of Wrath. What you see is a fierce dust storm just north of Cedar City.

The most random car dump in all of Utah. About 10 miles south of Nephi. I would love to know the history behind these cars.

Kerse. He's doing his part to decorate America.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Scott, Steve, Emily and I went bowling last night. This is how things went down.

Yeah, I bowled like crap, but I always do. It's just not a sport I aspire to excellence in, ya know?


P.S. The video quality has been jacked by youtube. I'm still trying to figure that out. In the meantime, I apologize for the crappy quality.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spying on Cars!

On our way down to Hurricane, Utah this weekend, I decided to test myself by taking pictures of the cars on the opposite side of the freeway. Capturing a sharp image of something that is moving 160mph (relative to me) is a feat! Especially when you're limited to a shutter speed of 1/250 in the evening light. I began to realize, after the first few pictures, that I had about half a second to pan the camera as the car sped by us. Once I started getting more and more cars, though, it became a bit of a sick little spy game to see what people in the other cars were doing. Were they picking their noses? Were they arguing? Were they laughing?

Sadly, not one of my pictures involved anybody doing anything interesting. People, while they drive, are not at all fun to watch. Go figure. Here's a collage of their dullness...

As you can see, Americans love white, grey, and silver cars. I must have passed on 50 or so more similarly colored cars to get the pictures of the red and blue ones you see above.

The sharpest of all was this picture:

At first glance it looks like some regular Joe driving a green mini-van, right? Look closer. Notice the body damage on the car - likely the result of a collision at the end of a 4 hour high speed chase with the cops. The mud on the body behind the tires says he takes back roads - probably a drug runner.

Oh yeah. In the closeup, you can see that this guy has a mustache and wears a camo hat. Total drug runner.

He's also kidnapped a blonde lady with a ponytail.

It's likely back to prison for this bad boy, but we'll see him again on the streets in 4-6 years (with good behavior) where he'll get right back into his crazy, green mini-van driving antics.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hip Hop Loves the 80's

Check this out:

First off, try to look past the gay pirate that so flamboyantly begs you to "get a little bit closer". I love this song, but hate this video. Why? Because there's "weird" and then there's "80's weird" and this video is a typical case of the latter. The song, however, reminds me of "The Wedding Singer" - one of the greatest Sandler movies ever made - and, therefore, deserves some merit.

Now check this out!

This artist, Flo Rida, has excellent taste in music (obviously). He has chosen a gem of the 80's for his brand new hit single - giving us something new and exciting on the outside, and warm and familiar in the middle. It's the ultimate pastry equivalent to the music industry! YEAH!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This morning at Kneader's...
Yeah, I figured it out a few seconds later, but I had honestly forgotten that it was St. Patrick's day.

I remember being in grade school when wearing green was irrevocably tied to your survival. Going to school without green on was like going to war without a gun. Mean kids roamed the playground with an unnatural, voracious look in their eyes - stalking, like a pack of wolves, the poor souls who had forgotten what day it was. I made damn sure that my green was always bright and obvious - a big green sweater or something, ya know? There was no way in hell I was going to be some bully's pinch toy. I'd always see some kid at recess whose green was hidden or hard to find. He likely thought he was being clever, but you'd see the smile disappear from his face when the mean kids caught his scent, zeroing in on him. He'd run at first, but then stumble, pulling up his pant leg to reveal the green on his socks in a last-ditch effort to appease the brutal attackers.

"Aggh! Stop it! I've... OWW... I've got green on! It's on my socks, see!? Oww!!!" His distant cries would fall on deaf ears.

The mean kids knew perfectly well the rules of pinching. If you pinched somebody with green on, they were entitled to pinch you back ten times. But no kid in his right mind would evoke such fury. It wasn't worth the consequences, fair or not.

It was playground tyranny for a day. Had it lasted a week, or a month, a revolution might have been in order. We out-numbered the mean kids three to one. We had the leadership, AND the smarts. But as things were, we chose to wear green and endure the chaos for a day. Then we'd go back to our happy little lives, to forget about the horrors of St. Patrick's Day till the following year.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Neat Trick!

This evening I went up to my parents' place in Sandy for the annual St. Patrick's Day dinner. We had corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, rolls, green punch, and a green cheesecake for dessert! It was amazing! (Thanks, Mom!)

After dessert, I found the can of whipped cream and decided to perform one of my favorite human/food tricks. Steve learned quickly and decided to perform with me. I think we should tour.



Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Movie You Can Skip: "The Watchmen"

Last weekend I my best friend, Justin, his brother-in-law, Lane, and I caught a late showing of The Watchmen. We'd all been greatly anticipating the movie, which is based on a graphic novel (glorified comic book) that is hailed as the greatest of all time. Apparently it's full of hidden messages and meaningful political discussion that isn't easily seen beneath the syrupy layers of gore, sex, and darkness.

The movie is supposedly spot on with it's papery counterpart. I'm not entirely sure, but I'm going to lean towards agreeing with that statement. The movie was confusing, bizarrely gory, overtly sexual, and downright strange, but underneath that one could sense that greater themes were at play. The problem, for me anyway, was that all of the rich, subcutaneous stuff was too blurred by the blatant disregard for decency so prevalent throughout the film. And, COME ON! Do we really need to see Dr. Manhattan's oversized neon blue wang hanging out throughout the ENTIRE film? No. Or at least, I don't. Yeah, I get that he's above us mortal humans. I get that he is male. I don't need a full-frontal nude body shot of the guy to remind me every three minutes.

The one saving grace in the movie is the main character, "Rorschak" - a masked vigilante who refuses to retire like most of the other superheroes. He continues to fight all that is evil, and persists to the end to be true and honest to the people he has worked so long to keep safe.

In closing, save your money and skip The Watchmen. It'll only leave you with a bad taste and a thought bubble over your head reading "What the heck just happened?" For those of you who are entirely intent on seeing this movie, wait till it comes out on DVD and redbox it for a buck. Maybe by then they'll have digitally remastered Dr. Manhattan, complete with something to cover his blue-man junk.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Forgotten Tutorial!

***News on the New Look: I found that if you're using Internet Explorer 7 or 8, the blog looks like it should. If things look wack, it's time to upgrade your browser!***

So I woke up this morning realizing that in the effort of putting together my new look yesterday I completely forgot about Tutorial Tuesday.

Yes, I'm serious about making this a weekly thing, especially since there are so many out there that want to learn photoshop. If you don't want to learn photoshop, well, you can read along anyway because the literature is as captivating as any highly paid author out there!

Not really, though. If you're not an aspiring photoshopper I won't be sad if you leave right now. :)

And now onto the fun!

Tutorial: Using the healing brush to remove blemishes.

So, let's say you wake up on your wedding day and not only is it raining, but you've also grown an enormous pimple overnight! Aggh! Isn't it ironic? It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. It's like meeting the man of your dreams, and then meeting his beautiful wife. (Or woman in my case, and her tool-of-a-husband) But seriously - Alanis Morissette songs aside - every one of your wedding photos feature you, your spouse, and the uninvited pimple.

Don't worry! With the miracle of modern technology we can get rid of that thing and restore your skin to how it normally looks!

Take this lovely bride to be:

(Disclaimer: Anonymous person. Found it on Google. Not necessarily a bride.)

She doesn't look very happy, because with all the stress and planning of the wedding her hormones have betrayed her and have caused a breakout. We've all had days like this and inevitably have pictures that would otherwise be great to post on facebook, the blog, or otherwise, but don't because we don't look as good as we normally do. Let's get rid of those pimples.

1) Open your image with photoshop and select the "healing brush" tool. It's the one that looks (appropriately) like a bandaid.

With this tool we'll sample an area of clear skin to use as a base for covering the pimples. Photoshop matches the skin tones of the retouched area so that it doesn't look unnatural. Another tool - the clone stamp - does something similar. The clone stamp, though, does not match the tones of the retouched area, but copies pixel for pixel the sampled area. It can make things look strange. That's why we're using the healing brush tool.

2) With the healing brush tool selected, bring the cursor over a clear patch of skin on the girls face. Alter the brush size with the "[" and "]" keys until the size of the brush is just about as big as the largest pimple. Press "alt" and click there. You'll notice that when you press "alt" the cursor turns into a target. We've now got our pixel sample.

3) From here, just bring the brush over each pimple and click down. You'll notice that it paints the area with the targeted pixels. When you release the mouse button, you'll notice that photoshop automatically blends the new pixels with the surrounding area. After a bit of work, this is the final result:

Hooray! Clear skin! You'll notice I didn't attempt to give her the plastic look you see in so many magazines nowadays. I hate that crap. She's retained her natural skin, only without the pimples!


P.S. If anyone has a picture they'd like retouched, send me the picture in an email to and I'll do it for you for free! One picture per person, please.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A New Look

This is a work in progress... but I'm trying to figure out what I like. I definitely wanted to go with the three-column design. It allows for much better use of real estate on the page and lets me add things to the blog that I've been meaning to add for awhile.

What do you think of the new blog design?


P.S. I just looked at the blog in internet explorer and it looks AWFUL! Damn that internet explorer for not working like it's supposed to. I'll be working out the kinks, but in the meantime I encourage you to check it out in firefox. Firefox does what I want it to do. You should be using it anyway. :)

Monday, March 9, 2009


This, my friends, is a real ad. Look it over for a moment. Bask in the stylin' colors of 80's wallpaper. Savor the strange expression on the dude's face. And then scroll down and read the possible captions.

Possible captions:
John: "I salute you, sir!"
Jan: "Oh, John! *annoying laughter* "You sure do love your 'Nam flashbacks!" *more annoying laughter*
After thousands of years of being frozen in arctic ice, Hargoc (now affectionately known as "Hank") has his first experience with fire.
Sally was blind. Vic was mentally challenged. But together they overcame all odds... and made a birthday cake.
Bud: "Candles you can Smooohhhhkkkke!"
Luh'nette: "That's right, baby! And the cake is 100 percent tobacco!"

I'm not sure which one is my favorite. Hopefully, they all merit pleasure!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Photography: Hurricane, Utah

First off, an update from my logo post : I didn't win, but I did get a gold star, which means that I was voted one of the best logos. Everybody loves a gold star, right? :)

On another note, I visited my grandparents in Hurricane, Utah a month or so ago and never posted any pictures from the trip. As I looked through them today, I realized that there were a few I really liked, so here they are!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Go go logo!

I designed this logo this afternoon for a loan company as part of an online contest. If I win, I make a lot of money! I'll let you know if I end up winning!

This was my initial sketch for the idea.


P.S. If you know of anybody that would like a logo design done, refer them to me! I'm always happy to take on new projects!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This is what happens when the sun sets...

What you see is a beautiful sunset on Squaw Peak taken a few days ago. I post this in memoriam, as the skies are currently filled with a dusty haze rivaling any of the worst post-apocalyptic scenarios.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Photoshop Tutorial: Shrinking the Depth of Field

I've decided to make Tuesdays interesting by posting a photoshop or photography tutorial, of my own creation, to the blog. In fact, I'm gonna call it "Tutorial Tuesday." Why? Because I like alliteration. It's a little cliche, but it works for President Monson, so what the heck.

Today's tutorial, then, is on shrinking the depth of field in a picture you've taken. If you're not sure of what depth of field is, read the following paragraph.

Depth of field (DOF) refers to the range of distance within the photograph that is sharp. Low DOF blurs the background and foreground. High DOF puts the entire image in focus. Changing the DOF in an image is done by changing the focal length of the lens (zooming in or out), by changing the aperture, and by moving towards or away from your subject.

So why shrink the depth of field of a picture you've taken? Well, consider the following picture:

This was taken at an amazing, old cemetery a few weeks ago. I didn't want to step in the snow, so I couldn't get really close to the gravestone and I didn't have my zoom lens with me, so I knew the DOF wouldn't turn out quite like I wanted it to. Sure enough, when I pulled this shot up on my computer, I saw that nearly the entire image was in focus. Lame. Right now, my eyes have a hard time deciding what to focus on. We're going to help them by decreasing the depth of field to just around the headstone.

First things first, click on the picture above to see the larger version, then right click on the picture and save it to your desktop. Open the picture with Photoshop. The image will (by default) be on the background layer as seen below:

Duplicate that layer by right clicking on the layer and selecting "Duplicate Layer..."

You'll see a box pop up that gives you the option to name the layer. You can name it "blur" or something if you'd like, because that's what we'll be doing to this layer. I left mine as the default, which is "Background copy". Click "okay". You've now got two identical layers.

With the top layer selected, navigate to the filter menu at the top of the photoshop window and select filter > blur > Gaussian blur as shown below.

It will bring up a window that looks like this:

Enter 2 as the value in the box like I've done above and click okay. This will blur the layer that sits over our original image, as seen below:

Now, what we want to do is apply a mask to the blurred layer. This will allow part of the sharp layer underneath to show through. To do so, with the blurred layer selected, click on the "add layer mask" button at the bottom of the layers palette.

When that button is pressed, your layer will have an empty mask on the blurred layer, as seen below:

The mask is a black and white representation of what will be transparent and what will be opaque. Black represents transparent areas of a layer while white represents opaque areas. As you can see, the mask is entirely white right now, which is why the blurred layer is completely opaque. We'll add a black-to-white gradient to the mask to get a nice, smooth transition between the transparent part of the layer and the opaque.

To do so, select your gradient tool on the toolbar. It looks like this:

(By the way: If you see a paint bucket in place of the gradient icon, click and hold the paintbucket until the option appears to switch to the gradient tool.) Now you need to be sure you have a black-to-white gradient selected, so click on the big gradient up top near the menus and this window will pop up:

Select "Black and White" from the list and click "OK". Don't mess with any of the other settings.

Click on the image where you want the sharpest point of the depth of field to be (for me, just above the bottom of the headstone) and drag upward to where you want the transition from what is sharp and what is blurry to end. See the picture below for more clarification:

The image will now look like this:

Notice how the bottom of the picture is sharp, but gradually fades to blurry. That's the gradient mask in action! There is still a big problem, though, in that the top of the gravestone is blurred and looks funny. We'll fix that by painting our mask pure black where the headstone is. Remember, black = transparent for a mask, so that area of the blurred layer will become transparent.

Select the brush tool as shown below:

And then click on the little arrow (up where I've written "size selector") to select the type and size of brush. The following window will drop down:

Select the 9 point, hard round brush. With that brush selected, make sure your foreground color is set to black.

If the foreground color is set to another color, simply click it and set it to black.

All there is left to do is paint with this brush over the headstone. As you do, you'll see the sharp layer underneath the blurry layer come through. This is because you're painting the black onto the blurry layer's mask, making that part of the layer transparent.

The finished product should look something like this:

It's not a perfect replica of what real depth of field looks like, which is why it's always better to just get it right when you shoot the picture in the first place. However, there is remarkable improvement over the original.


P.S. Next week, I'll write the tutorial Monday night, so it'll be out on Tuesday. :)
P.P.S If you don't own Photoshop, I hope this wasn't too awfully boring for you. At least now you can impress your friends with terms like "layer masks" and "gradient fill".