Jon on January 1, 2014

Wow, 2013 seems like it went by so fast. I can hardly believe it is now 2014, seems like 2013 was just yesterday. Of course that is probably because it was. There is so much I hoped to and wanted to do it 2013 that I simply did not do or was not able to do for a variety of reasons.

This is not to say that 2013 was not filled with much adventure, excitement, new experiences, and accomplishments, because it was filled with a lot and has really marked a new phase of life for me. During the time of transition and rediscovery it was also been somewhat of a furlough or sabbatical year from blogging for me. I thought I would blog more, after kicking it off again around the first of the year, but am more and more coming to the realization that since blogging is not a hobby for me, but rather a platform. However, I it has come to the point where I can do more and more of what I used to do blogging on Facebook.

So the question I have really been struggling with is how am I to differentiate my blogging from Facebook, and considering the greater interaction and exposure I can capture on Facebook along with the relative low current monetization value of my blog.

The question really becomes how I can focus on promoting a really unique branding and experience here that really delivers value that I cannot deliver on Facebook.

A few specific things I am finding are greater searchable features assigned by a more logical chronology. Less concern with EdgeRank (or whatever Facebook is calling their News Feed algorithm that determines what you see on your Facebook feeds these days).

Yet, greater concern again with Google page rank and, but still a balanced approach and a much greater control over content and feel.

The biggest plus I see that I can still achieve with the blog is once you are here I can deliver much more in depth content in a more aesthetically pleasing and open and custom fashion that feels less cookie cutter designed than a basic Facebook franchised page.

During this time some things that I have really thought about where to go with this and have come up with some keys general to success in business and in life that I keep coming back to.

1. Focus 2. Creating Lasting Value 3. Perseverance

Focus: Studies have shown when we have too many choices it is hard to focus on any one choice, so a big thing I have been trying to do is eliminate clutter from my life. People do not need more choices, but rather more good choices. Quality over quantity is the general rule, and even then when all the quantity is good it is important to carefully only use selective stimuli of the very best offerings in order to avoid over stimulation and subsequent sensory overload which simply leads to paralyzation and indecision.

Creating lasting value: Another big thing I feel we all have endowed with is a desire to endeavor for that which has permanence and immutability, and so I struggle with work that I feel it is as King Solomon has described it in Ecclesiastes simply vanity or futile in nature. In a culture where so much is created to be disposable or for single use it is no wonder recycling and green has become a big movement these days. We have been sold a bill of economic goods based on concepts of creative destruction and consumerism, when in fact we need to get back to basics embodied in the idiom: “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. This is not to say all creative destruction is bad, sometimes we do tend to hold onto things such as old historical sites, long forgotten tax records, and the like that really ought to be recycled. However, I think it is pretty safe to say that when some buys a perfectly good multi-million dollar waterfront home just to tear it down and build bigger we observe a prime example of the negatives of creative destruction.

Perseverance: I think the idea that we tie our identity to our work is so relevant to perseverance especially when we realize our identity really lies beyond ourselves, in something greater than ourselves, which is in God. So once we find a worthwhile task to begin work on it is natural to want to see it through to completion through thick and thin. The difficulty is of course greater with tasks that are never finished and are highly repetitive in nature. Yet still when we realize how ephemeral the temporary nature of our sufferings are it really goes back to the first two principles of focus and finding that lasting value. The more we are focused and see lasting value the less are current scarf ices to accomplish the job seem to bother us.


New Year’s Eve in New York city is quite an experience. It is not quite what you would think, because you pick what you focus on instead of be directed by the news cameras to different areas. The only down side of being on the street level is the main stage is sectioned off about 20 feet up from the ground and the only view of it is from the side when the artists are hanging over, or you can see a little from the back; but there are really no good camera angles of the stage from street level.

For those allowed street level access the police keep moving or far off to the side, the rest of the crowds are sectioned off by police barricades into various areas on both sides of the road as well as in front of and behind Times Square.

Jon on January 2, 2013

Wow, 2012 is over and we are now a whole day into 2013. It has been a crazy, but good year. It seems like things are starting to get back on track, even though it is clear our government will not act until the absolute last minute, things are improving. 2013 has arrived and with it comes the promise for a fresh start with the beginning of a New calendar year. Here is a video recorded from Times Square last night. Hope you enjoy it and stay tuned for more photos and video to come.

It is time again for the Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show. The air show features many old favorites such as Sean Tucker, Mike Goulian, and John Klatt.

The Air Force Thunderbirds are the headliners this year. There will, of course, be a jet truck again this year as well as a combined arms demonstration.

Also Beware if you are bringing anything in no coolers are allowed, and everything is subject to search. Security is especially tight this year. Typically they allow media to find parking, but I was held at the gate this year, and they reduced the area in which they corralled us in for the practice. Also it has been much harder for certain organizations to get booths this year as well.

Still it promises to be a good show though it seems to be taking on a different feel, with more of the rustic planes, but at the same time the flashy stunt planes. It is kind of disappointing not to see some of the latest and greatest aircraft out there such as the F-22 Raptor or the V-22 Osprey, but the old reliables are still pretty incredible machines to watch in action. Also it does not look like the red bull helicopter will be there this year either

The full schedule is as follows (It is only tentative, as the air boss may change things on the fly, no pun intended, based on conditions, air traffic, and various other factors):
The Gates open at 9am and the show starts at 10am

  • The Black Daggers
  • Sean D. Tucker
  • Pietsch Air Show (Jelly Belly)
  • The ANG Flash Fire Jet Truck
  • John Klatt
  • The RI Air National Guard C-130J Demo
  • Mike Goulian
  • The RI Army National Guard Blackhawk Demo
  • Pietsch Air Show (Jelly Belly)
  • The Black Daggers
  • Geico Skytypers
  • John Klatt
  • Mike Goulian
  • Sean D. Tucker
  • Combined Arms Demostartion
  • USAF Thunderbirds
  • The show will end at approximately 4:30pm

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    US Flag

    Flag Day is a day to fly and to take an extra moment to think about what it means

    Flag day got its start as an educational holiday celebrating the birthday of the American flag on June 14, 1777, with some classrooms in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania being the among first to celebrate the holiday in the late 1800′s.

    For that reason, the holiday has not gone as mainstream because most places of business are not really crazy about taking another day out for celebration between Memorial day and the fourth of July.

    So most celebration of this day occur on the weekend immediately preceding or following, on June 9, 1966, Congress recognized the need for more days since flag day is usually a work day and issued a resolution calling on the President to issue an annual proclamation of the entire week as “National Flag Week” in order to allow more opportunity for the celebration. The day was first nationally proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. President Obama issued this proclamation on June 11. The proclamation reads in part:

    For over 200 years, our flag has proudly represented our Nation and our ideals at home and abroad. It has billowed above monuments and memorials, flown beside the halls of government, stood watch over our oldest institutions, and graced our homes and storefronts. Generations of service members have raised our country’s colors over military bases and at sea, and generations of Americans have lowered them to mourn those we have lost. Though our flag has changed to reflect the growth of our Republic, it will forever remain an emblem of the ideals that inspired our great Nation: liberty, democracy, and the enduring freedom to make of our lives what we will.

    As we reflect on our heritage, let us remember that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and 13 stripes. In red, white, and blue, we see the spirit of a Nation, the resilience of our Union, and the promise of a future forged in common purpose and dedication to the principles that have always kept America strong.

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    Jon on June 14, 2012

    The Burning of the Gaspee has become somewhat of a tradition in Rhode Island these days. Last weekend was the 47 annual Gaspee days in Warwick, RI. It included a parade, 5k road race, and revolutionary encampment, the burning of a model Gaspee, and other festivities.

    The HMS Gaspee was a British ship on a mission to enforce the rum tax. On one June night in 1772 it got stuck on a sand bar after it had chanced the smuggling boat Hannah up into Narragansett bay.

    The ship probably could had been freed by the high tie in the morning, but a group of colonist led by John Brown had other plans, and during the middle of the night they rowed out and made their way close to the ship by claiming they had a sheriff on board, who needed to inspect the ship. What is more, they rowed straight on to the the ship.

    The sailing ships clippers of the time of course only had guns broad side, and with the Gaspee stuck on the sand bar they could not turn broad side. So while they tried to quickly assemble small arms they were quickly overwhelmed. The officer in charge of the ship, Lieutenant William Dudingston, was shot and wounded while the rest of the crew was bound and escorted off the ship by the colonists.

    The celebration recreates this to an extent, but takes quite a bit of artistic liberty. The celebration does not follow the same course of events as the real burning of the Gaspee, as they simply fire blanks from cannon on shore instead of rowing out to the ship in order to simulate the attack, and many of the reenactor are not in true period regalia or have added certain touches that are highly unlikely. Notwithstanding, they do a remarkable job and you can tell everybody has put a lot of time and effort into this.

    One such touch was a sunken head, which could had theoretically been acquired through trade. Although, there is only solid evidence of the practice in the Amazon, and not really Africa and the Caribbean, where most slave trading took place. Yet, some believe it could had been an African practice and a recent DNA profile on a shrunken head from South America shows the man had ancestors from West Africa. It is still of course very unlikely that anyone attacking the ship that night had a shrunken head, and certainly not with them.

    Nonetheless, you get a good sense and feel of the time, and the shrunken head does make for nice effect. As many movies have also sought to throw them in for effect. The encampment is a rather nice touch as well, and really adds to the feel of living in 18th century America.

    The fire boat is quite a sight, and the only thing that really detracts from the sinking of the Gaspee is a large yacht docked right behind the Gaspee, which just really pulls you out of the period and makes you think that there ought to be some modern day occupiers over there or someone trying to figure out why lavish luxury boats get a free pass on property tax in this state, while all the little people have to pay taxes on their cars.

    All in all Gaspee days has really come a long way, over these past few year and seem to have really grown into a celebration acclaimed much more widely across the state of Rhode Island now.

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    Jon on February 28, 2012


    Today is National Pancake Day at IHOP. Believe of not I didn’t even know until someone told me. This has been going since 2006 so I should had remembered, but it somehow I didn’t. Basically what it is is IHOP is kind enough to donate a free short stack of Buttermilk pancakes to guests from around the country, so they figure you may then donate to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals© and other designated local charities. Plus it is good PR for them and maybe a bit of a tax write off, and they probably hope they may hook a few new customers. A good deal all around. So go enjoy some pancakes and give a little to help charity!

    Jon on February 22, 2012
    Nikon D4

    Nikon D4

    The D4, Nikon’s new flagship DSLR camera, was just announced last month. This camera is an update to the Nikon D3s. It has the same resolution as the D7000 16.2 megapixels, but has more speed and durability than the D7000. Also it is has full frame FX sensor as opposed to the 2/3 frame DX sensor of the D7000. While full frame is usually considered better, it is actually highly debatable. While many new cameras do seem to be moving in that direction, and it is of course no surprise that this $6,000 top of the line camera would of course have it, it is interesting that the resolution is exactly the same as the D7000 has in the DX sensor. For some this modest resolution boost (especially in light of the D800′s leap to 36.2 megapixels) may come as a slight disappointment, but for most print needs the resolution is enough.

    Full frame only means that the digital sensor is the same size as a 35mm film frame. With technology advances which control noise much better some of the 2/3 sensors are actually better than previous generation full frame sensors in many respects. The 2/3 sensor also allows greater resolution in many instances when using the telephotos lens, which means that if you need the extra reach the 2/3 frame sensor can help. The full frame does add benefits, but it is a little silly to think that full is in someway the same as whole, because there are larger sensor sizes still in medium format systems, and many people are simply not interested in them because the larger size doesn’t offer that much more for the price. Often times the reasons for the higher price of these sensors is that it takes more to make chips that size.

    Accordingly, they often pair the full frame sensor with greater camera features such as the D4′s carbon fiber and Kevlar composite shutter rated to 400,000 actuations (100,000 more than the D3s). With the full frame and modest megapixel increase they have also boosted the maximum ISO to 204,800, but with only 12,800 usable ISO. Still it is an improve over the 6400 of the D3 but not really over the D3s which had usable ISO up to 12,800. The D4 also caps usable ISO at 12,800 but it is somewhat of an improvement in the extreme expandable range, which was only at 102,400 on the D3s. Logic suggests that since they increased the range a bit in the extreme, then there should at least be a slight improvement within the usable range, with more acceptable noise levels at higher ISOs.

    I actually haven’t been able to get my hands on one of these cameras to test it yet. So while there is no official improvement in usable ISO range the expandable ISO is certainly good news if you do surveillance work with your camera, but otherwise it is not really a large improvement.

    However, the speed increase to 10 frames per second is useful for sports and media, but is hardly an improvement over the 9 fps of the D3s.

    So basically they increased the speed, resolution, and durability a little, all of which are helpful if you want to move up into these pro cameras, but if you already have a D3s there is not a lot of really new and thrilling improvements, except in the video area which they finally moved up to 1080P and added more features to for better broadcast quality.

    Sony XQD

    Sony XQD

    However, the new memory card slot comes as a larger disappointment, as things look at this point in time. While there is a possibility it may catch on like Sony’s blu ray, right now it looks like another mistake along the same lines of Sony’s memory stick format, or the Olympus and Fujifilm xD format, but only time will tell. This new memory format only takes one of the two cards slots, so the other one still takes standard compact flash, so it is not a complete deal breaker. The new format is called XQD and is supposed to support transfer speed up to 125 MB/s, but is really not that much faster than top of the line compact flash cards which are now at about 100 MB/s, and could potentially be pushed to faster speeds in the future. Both of the leading memory card manufacturers, Lexar and Scandisk, are still feeling out the waters on this format, and have not decided whether they will make the cards.

    All in all the Nikon D4 is good camera, but a lot remains to be seen about where this memory card format will go, and it will be a big investment to add the XQD cards, in order to take advantage of the extra memory slot. It is a good choice coming from the a smaller to mid-range model, but coming from a flagship model it seems like a pass. Even looking at it from the perspective of a mid-range model the D800 looks much more attractive, with the only potential deal breaker being the slow 4 fps frame rate.

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    Jon on February 21, 2012
    Nikon D800

    Nikon D800

    Nikon finally revealed their new lineup of cameras just the other week and the D800 does not disappoint. The camera is the highest resolution digital SLR camera currently on the market, short of a medium format system, which can easily run in the tens of thousands of dollars. By comparison the D800 is only a mere 3 grand (actually $2,999.95), of course for us average folks that is still a lot of money, but it is nonetheless a great value when you consider what was available for that price a couple of years ago. However, the two biggest obstacles with the 36.3 Megapixels resolution are going to be storage and speed.

    The size means that raw files could easily reach 80 megabytes or more. Also accurate focus becomes even more critical with the higher resolution, as any errors will be all the more prominent. However, it is worth it since you will actually be able to see much greater details in your images especially when you start making tight crops.

    The only other major downside is the frame rate is no better than their entry level DSLRs; it is only 4 frames per second, at full resolution, but can be improved by dropping the resolution.

    If you shoot a lot of fast action situations and you really need the speed you can get it up by using the DX crop mode, which brings it up to 5 fps, and a battery pack will get you up to 6 fps. In this mode the resolution still remains a decent 15.4MP; better than almost all of the last generation of Nikon DSLR cameras, except the D3x and the D7000. Yet the D3X weighted in at $8,000, and while the D7000 is more affordable, around $1,200, it was the last camera developed of the previous generation. So it is not surprising that it remains the most relevant alternative, but it does not have the full frame sensor.

    The ISO range is from 100 to 6400, and is expandable to 25600. For some this comes as a disappointment, because it is not an improvement over the last generation of Nikon cameras, but it is still as good as the D3. However, it seems they purposely held back on the ISO for two reason; one it could add a lot of noise with the higher resolution and two they probably did not want to threaten the sales of their flagship D4 and remaining D3s cameras, which are likely to remain popular among sports and media shooters, who need to get usable shots under adverse conditions fast.

    Although, they pretty much killed their D3x (A 24 megapixel 5 frames per second full frame sensor camera) market, which they probably realized was a poor attempt at a medium format alternative. With the D800 they should be able to attract a larger consumer base of those weekend wedding shoots and landscape shooters instead of trying to target the fashion market, which the D3x seemed more geared towards with its high price tag.

    They even created a versions for each market segment with the regular D800 for the wedding shooters and the D800E for the landscape shooters. In order to do this they made twin cameras one with a low pass filter and one without the low pass filter, but a little extra optical filter. You will pay a slight premium to get one without the low pass filter, about $300 more, and you will have to be careful to avoid patterns and textures that could cause moiré, and could see a little great noise getting in low light shooting.

    A couple of other highlights are the dual card slots which allows for both SD and Compact flash cards. This is a real treat as those stepping up from lower end cameras can continue to use the SD cards (which are easier and cheaper to get, but a bit slower) and those who have the extreme high speed compact flash cards, from larger pro cameras bodies, can also take advantage of the extra speed offered by the higher end compact flash cards.

    The other area of great improvement is the metering system, which Nikon increased from about a 1,000 points in their last generation to 91,000 points, which enabled greater facial tracking and helps with those mixed scenes like a person back lite by a sunset.

    Lastly, they have have also made improvements to the algorithms in their propitiatory EXPEED image processing with the EXPEED 3. Many of the changes made here will remain unclear, but it is clear that they have made it faster and more accurate by introducing an automated dual processing function, and better phase detection for the auto focus modes. All this is a great camera if you got 3 grand to spare and need the best possible resolution.

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    With the Retirement of the Space Shuttle program and the last mission for Space Shuttle Atlantis it is quite inspiring to look at how far NASA has come and how much the International Space Station (ISS) has grown, but at the same time it is quite disappointing to realize that the ideal portrayed in many science fiction movies is still such a long way off. It is such a costly process to get things into Space, that we are eons away from anything near the scale and capabilities of a Star Ship Enterprise.

    The current idea being promoted by some of the commercialization in space brings some scary thoughts to mind, since corporations here on earth are rather notorious for allowing minus safety violations to go unchecked in order to save the bottom dollar line. It seems very questionable that a company can make a profit in terms dollar, considering the rigid and costly safety requirements necessary and the general high costs of space travel. Sure there have been many achievements in recent times such as a vaccine for Salmonella, but most achievements like that are of a relatively innumerable and unquantifiable dollar value.

    Nonetheless, it is encouraging to see the peaceful atmosphere of comradery that is inspired by space travel. The astronauts embraced and appeared very excited and energized when they arrived at the Space Station, despite our culture’s familiarity and understanding that while low earth orbit is nice it is far short of a return to the moon, or travel to a distance planet. Although, they promote the size as bigger than Apollo it still seems small to me, and especially when compared to the science fiction ideal, but yet it is a start and a means to venture beyond low earth orbit.

    This is why this new crew exploration vehicle is very much needed, to inspire hope for the future of mankind. Albeit, ultimate hope is in the next life, but space travel is still a noble endeavor that seems to turn people towards God, through the sheer sense of awe and wonder, that gets them thinking about the vastness and greatness of space. Especially, now that we have a small realization of the incredible size and ungraspable nature of the universe, and can thus now have the proper perspective: that we can never quite reach the domain of God through this, but only hope to get an ever increasing glimpse of His Majesty and power.

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