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Archive for July, 2008

I haven’t got much time to explore my new camera, but here are two good images from first few images i’ve taken.

Rose bud, taken on Saturday evening:

Rose bud, EOS 450D 18-55mm IS F9 1/125 ISO200

Rose bud, EOS 450D 18-55mm IS @ 43mm F9 1/125s ISO200 cropped

Same rose, the next day, afternoon:
After sunday morning drizzle. EOS 450D + 18-55mm IS @ 37mm F11 1/250s ISO 200, cropped

The pics were taken at my house, but haven’t found many interesting subjects much around here. Have been little busy on the weekend until now. :D

I’m still learning to use the camera and hope to click better images to showcase. Comments on the snaps are welcome.

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Canon EOS 450D aka Rebel XSi or Kiss X2

Canon EOS 450D aka Rebel XSi or Kiss X2

Finally… Ya, Finally i’ve got my first DSLR, and it also happens to be my first digital camera.

I was about 4 years old when i got my first camera, it was a point and shoot 35mm film roll camera. I was super excited about getting that camera back then as i had got it after a long wait.

Using the lenses was exciting for me whenever i laid my hands on an old Nikon SLR film camera. I was never very fascinated to buy a mediocre digital camera, and was willing to wait until i make enough money to buy a DSLR.

Last year i started contemplating about buying my first DSLR. First it was the dilemma between Nikon and Canon. Then the model, lenses and finally the most important factor, money.

I was not very keen on getting DSLR without ‘live view’ function, neither was i willing to shell out lot of money. There were only two models with this feature when i started looking for DSLR. You can read about this in my Spid post. Then EOS 40D arrived, and i started to ping my friends in US. I was sure to get electronics at a cheaper price in US than in India since i got my QC3 from there. Just then, i heard about the to-be-launched Canon EOS 450D. I so wanted get this camera since i saw the specs. This was just perfect for me, neither in too professional range nor in the rookie range. My cousin flew back from San Diego in March and the camera was to be launched in April end. :(

I went through all the reviews, specifications, user feedbacks, and constantly changing prices in Amazon. Soon discovered that US1Photo gives the cheapest price for cameras. I almost got it last month from a colleague when he tripped to US, but he couldn’t get the cheapest deal available online. So i was all sad again. RJ then offered me to buy it from US1Photo and ship it all the way to India but that option also went void when i learned that i can’t avoid customs for shipped items, and was super frustrated.

Canon EOS 450D aka Rebel XSi or Kiss X2

Canon EOS 450D aka Rebel XSi or Kiss X2

Then, i realized it was not worth waiting any longer, and decided to buy it locally. Pixetra on Cunningham road offered me a very good deal for EOS 450D kit (comes with 18-55mm IS lens) with 2GB card, carry case and a 55-250mm IS lens. The offer came after a very good negotiation from my side. Jayesh Mehta of Foto Circle in the narrowest lanes of Bangalore at Balepet couldn’t match the offer given at Pixetra on Cunningham road.

So, today i finally got my first DSLR!

New category photography on my blog comes with this post.

Current Mood: Super Excited! :-)

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Horse racing

Horse racing

As i kid I was always fascinated by horses. It was so much fun to ride a horse for joy. It just used to be a small walk astride horse back then. The fascination didn’t die down as i grew up. I wanted to learn horse riding, but didn’t explore much on this any time. An old acquaintance, vet at BTC, told me about the riding schools at BTC a few years ago. I wanted to try out, like a zillion other things i had, but my mom was scared. Vet had warned about breaking few bones as normal part of learning to ride the horses. The buckling broncos could topple you down from astride any time or could give you a hard kick. But this didn’t deter me, i was determined to go. Early this year, i convinced my mom that all will be fine.

BTC is a beautiful place. I had seen this a million times going past this place on race course road, the exterior walls never gave away the beautiful lush green race track or the magnificent horses plying on these tracks at over 50kmph. Getting up at 5:30am was a pain which i was willing to endure to learn horse riding. First couple of days were hard, really hard. Without proper riding boots, just on my nike, i incurred bad bruises on legs, between shin and calf muscles. I had to break for nearly a week, but i was willing to go again after wounds healed, and i got my riding boots and helmet. The weeks after that were fun as i survived the attempts by the horse to topple me down. Soon i was able to control the horse the way i wanted to go though they acted eerie and whimsical at times. After this, i saw a horse die in front of my eyes.

Bangalore turf club

Bangalore turf club

When i reached the spot, the jockey was being taken on stretchers to the ambulance standing next to the track. A beautiful black horse was down on the outer sand track. There were many people around, and the horse ambulance arrived soon. Vet was trying to revive the horse, which had broken both of its hind limbs as it fell while running at great speed. I heard from people around that the horse had put one foot on the slightly elevated grass track while running fast, had lost balance and crashed badly. The outer sand track is about a feet lower than the inner grass track, and a wrong foot on this could have been a real bad crash. The vet was trying to revive the horse with a few injections and drips but she died soon. The beautiful black horse which was galloping a few moments earlier was no more. Her trainer was almost in tears. This was my last day at BTC. Image on left shows the tracks at BTC, the outermost track, next to audience is the track the horse was running on.

I felt sad about these wonderful creatures being used for our entertainment and gambling. The recent kingfisher derby featured many celebrities, crores of rupees was bet legally and illegally. The horses here are bred and trained purely for racing. They undergo lots of training with good nutritional food daily. But i wonder if it is fair to use them for our entertainment and fun? I don’t have a definite answer. Yes it seems bad, but they are no doubt loved and cared by their trainers. They have their share of fun. But i feel they are don’t want to do as directed all the time. I saw almost everyday, at least a few, horses going crazy jumping, galloping after topping the rider, and trying to topple the rider many a times only to be controlled by the rider or the trainer with reins. I personally had experienced this.

I definitely enjoyed my experience of horse riding, and would want to do it some time again, but the racing of these beauties has not appealed to me.

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Which OS Are You?

You are Amiga OS. Ahead of your time.  You keep a lot of balls in the air.  If only your parents had given you more opportunities to suceed.
Which OS are You?

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At about 200km from Bangalore, in central Karnataka, is the town and district of Chitradurga. Picturesque fort and hillocks with huge boulders adorn this small town which has grown significantly since i last visited. Friday night (or Saturday at 1:30am) i was chatting with RJ, and at 7am on Saturday morning i was on my way, on impeccable NH-4, to Chitradurga. A total change-of-plan trip.

A part of Chitradurga fort

A part of Chitradurga fort

Legends has Chitradurga featured in epic Mahabharata, where a man-eating giant named Hidimbasura lived here. When the Pandavas were in this place in the course of their exile, Bhima fought Hidambasura with the huge boulders around as arsenal, and Hidambasura was slain in the duel.

Chitradurga fort entrance, a serpent on wall

Chitradurga fort entrance, a serpent on wall

The marvelous fort is known as Elu sutthina kote (which means fort with seven circumambulation) as it comprises a series of seven enclosure walls. The fort, built in parts by Palegar Nayakas, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, has many temples, gateways, posterior entrances, a totally ruined palace, granaries, oil pits, numerous secret entrances and water tanks. The fort has entrance through many huge stone doors, and is build like the path of a serpent, in a wavy fashion.

Onake Obavvana Kindi

Onake Obavvana Kindi

It takes about two to three hours hike around to see all the prominent structures including the legendary Obavvana Kindi where Onake Obavva, a housewife and spouse of a sentry, single-handedly warded off attack by Hyder Ali’s men by bludgeoning them to death. The exact spot, as shown in the image beside, is a narrow entrance, where the rocks form a natural barrier making it possible for only one person to pass at a time. The fort is now protected by ASI. The fort makes a good place for rock climbing and trekking to spots like Tuppada kola, a tank used to store ghee and oil atop a huge rock.

Chitradurga has few other tourist spots like Vani Vilasa sagara dam, Jogi matti zoo, and Muruga rajendra matha. Among these Chandravalli is a place definitely worth visiting. There is a nice lake and few caves here.

Chandravalli caves in Chitradurga

Chandravalli caves in Chitradurga

With a guide one can go see around stone structures, and small temples in the mysterious caves at Chandravalli. With a lantern in hand the guide walks you along the rocky caves, inside which you can see carvings, rooms, bathing tanks and other structures created since 3 B.C. when Buddhist monks settled here. The caves has been built and maintained by many emperors who ruled this place. Rooms has secret hideouts, multiple entry and exits. The caves stink with bats, and is pitch dark. If one gets lost, it is almost impossible to get out alive. At certain parts in here, you cannot see people standing next to you within a feet apart if the lantern is turned off. The guide shows you only certain parts of the caves, and supposedly there is a secret pathway from this place to the fort in Bangalore (one you see near k.r.market). The secret path was built by Tipu Sultan when he ruled this place after Hyder Ali.

One of the lesser known treasures in Karnataka, Chitradurga is definitely a place worth visiting for a one day if you happen to be around this place anytime. Driving from Bangalore takes about 3.5 hours in a car, and would take about 5 hours in numerous buses available to this place from Bangalore. The route from Bangalore to Chitradurga along NH-4
is: Bangalore -> Tumkur -> Sira -> Hiryur -> Chitradurga. The highway goes all the way to Pune. Best time to visit: When you feel like taking a break, though avoiding summer is advisable. :)

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High price of crude oil, touching nearly $150 a barrel, has alarmed every nation across the world but the ones producing. Is it really the excess usage of non-renewable source of energy causing its depletion or a mere speculation using the threat of depleting resources for their ulterior motives? Really hard to say, but i tend to go with the latter.

We know, for ages, that western countries have higher energy usage per person. USA consumed 340.5 million Btu of primary energy per capita in 2005, which was roughly the same in 1980 (343 mBtu). Interesting to note is the rise in per capita energy consumption of Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and China. The middle eastern countries have a very high per capita consumption, probably needed for the continuously running air conditioners. Saudi Arabia’s consumption has increased from 166.3 mBtu in 1980 to 252 mBtu in 2005, an 85% increase. U.A.E has increased its consumption from 267.2 to 563.6 mBtu, a whooping 110% increase!

In South-East Asia, China has topped India by a significant margin. From 17.8 mBtu to 51.4 mBtu in China as against 5.9mBtu to 14.8 mBtu in India. Though the percentage increase of India is high, the per capita consumption is minuscule when compared to western, middle eastern or Chinese counter parts. Per capita consumption of oil, barrel per person per year is 2.18 for India, one of the lowest in the world (world avg: 12.52) whereas it is 78 in Saudi Arabia.

Oil consumption per capita across the world

Oil consumption per capita across the world.

These are the stats in 2005. The increase by 2010 or 2015 would be phenomenally more for reasons obvious below. Why has the consumption in middle eastern countries increased so much over the years? I’d say because of whimsical spending.

Al Burj, Dubai

Al Burj, Dubai is growing on what you pay for fuel

Nearly 25% of the construction cranes in the world are in Dubai. Wonder why? Two of the world’s largest sky scrapers, one under construction, Burj Dubai, and other, Al Burj, in proposal, are coming up in Dubai along with numerous other multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects. Artificial Palm islands, three man-made islands in Dubai, is the largest land reclamation projects in the world, and would be the world’s largest artificial islands. Besides this, there are several other highly ambitious projects to shell out billions of dollars like Hydropolis – world’s first underwater luxury resort, The World islands – artificial islands shaped like world map, and Dubailand – under-construction entertainment complex bettering Orlando’s Disney world. There are several high rise super luxury residential properties, and malls coming up along with Dubai Metro system, and world’s largest international airport.

The construction of transportation network, good shopping malls, and residential properties are, no doubt, ‘necessities’ of prosperous nations but projects like Ski Dubai, to ski in desert, is a whimsical idea, i would say, to splurge money made by selling oil to other countries. So are the projects like Al Burj, Palm islands, and Hydropolis. I remember another project to grow corals in the unnatural corrosive habitat in the coast of gulf by modifying the sea to assist coral growth. What next? May be they want to have Alps or Mount Everest artificially made!

About 80% of the world’s readily accessible reserves are located in the Middle East with 62.5% coming from 5 Arab countries: Saudi Arabia (12.5%), UAE, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Such huge spending can result in ever increasing price of oil as they have no other source of income. The concept of income tax does not exist as they are already making too much money by selling oil.

Supposedly there are more construction workers than citizens in UAE! What will happen to these people once these projects are completed in, say, another 10 years? Thousands of civil engineers, electrical engineers, and laborers would be jobless. Some of them might settle with hospitality sector for running and maintenance of these super luxury palaces of the rich, but the fate of rest is scary. Most of the workers are from developing countries like India. They would promptly be sent back home, and the unemployment would be rampant along with sky-rocketing fuel price.

The current increase of fuel price is funding these crazy spending spree of some of the oil rich countries. The effects of the completion of these projects would be felt all over the world, the cost of maintenance of these would sky-rocket the already high oil prices. Global warming might not reduce if the non-producing nations limit their usage when these oil rich nations are blowing up non-renewable energy sources for maintaining snow in desert or having underwater resort!

Source: EIA (Energy Information Administration) – Official energy statistics from the U.S. government for statistics on per capita primary energy consumption.

P.S.: I’m back!

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