Posts Tagged ‘UCSB’

A Single Left Turn

Giant TCR2

A life changing bicycle.

It began on a sunny summer day in Santa Barbara. October had just begun, not a cloud flew free in the skies, a light breeze from the ocean blew down the street as I walked into the bicycle shop. I was nervous, this was the first time I was doing this on my own.

The weeks leading up to this day I had gone out a few times with the university cycling team. I felt I had found a sport that I could thoroughly, going around on my mountain bike, struggling to keep up, I knew I just needed a good road bike to make it all come together.

In the store I had a list of several potential bike my Dad, who had owned a bike store for eleven year, had given me. I told the sales guy that I was looking to buy a new road bike and that I was joining the UCSB cycling team (there was a discount), I also said that I was thinking of these bikes. He assumed that since I was thinking of joining the cycling team that I needed a really fast competition level bike, I of course did not know this at the time.

Instead of getting a more entry level road bike I wound up with a more serious bike. I was also sold some accessories that I probably did not need. I put on my freshly purchase cycling gear, cinched down my backpack and took off back towards campus on my shiny red bike.

I was still nervous and a touch shaken up by making such a big purchase, the biggest I have ever made up to that point in fact. But I rode on, enjoying the lovely fall day, using the dedicated bike paths, this just felt right.

For the next few weeks I took care of my bike, keeping it clean, taking it out and biking around. I fell down a few times as I adjusted to clip in pedals. One time I came to a stop at a stop sign and could not unclip my shoes, I slowly tipped over onto the concrete. No one was around to see me.

Halloween weekend rolled around and the club had an outing. It was a morning ride that was to last into early afternoon. In the afternoon I had a study session planned for an upcoming paper that was due in my comparative literature class.

Halfway through the bike ride we came to a T intersection. Right took us back to campus and left onward to Hope Ranch. I felt that it was getting late and I should head back to campus for my study session. But I thought that might be rude, leaving mid-ride. I was not yet confident enough in myself to be that independent. I went left with everyone else.

It was a steady climb up to the top of the small sea-side cliff, I was getting pretty winded as I fell behind. I realized I should have turned back. But then we started going downhill, downhill? Easy. Trying to catch up I sped up down the big hill, a gentle turn was coming up. I checked my speedometer, 32 MPH, pretty fast. On my right the ocean spread out under a blue sky, just beautiful.

It was not a gentle turn. It was a hairpin turn that I did not know about. I tried to break and make the turn. I could not make. Some unconscious part of my mind must have realized the options: slide out or hit the railing and plunge a hundred feet into the sea. I started to slide out. I just remember that moment of tilting downward.

Next thing I knew I was on my back with people over me. They said an ambulance had been called. I wiggled my toes and fingers, all working, good. Next I asked if my glasses and bike were okay, they said they were. Someone had my glasses and they took my bike as an ambulance arrived.

In the ambulance they asked what hurt the most. I managed to reply “My pride”. They did not laugh, I thought it was funny. In the hospital they cleaned a gash on my leg, from the bike spokes as the bike flipped over me. The only other injury was my front teeth, it seems I used them to break.

A little lost without my glasses (someone had them) I called my roommate asking for help. He found someone in the hall with a car and picked me up.

The next day I got my glasses and bike back from a cycling club member. I was heartbroken at seeing my bike scratched up.

I spent the next few weeks recovering, not really biking anywhere. I went to the doctors and started a long procedure to get crown’s made to replace my lost teeth.

Throughout that year I tried several times to get back into cycling but I could not enjoy it. I still rode my mountain bike around campus but the road bike became a source of regret. I could not get back on.

This all happened within the first few months of my freshman year.

Sophomore year I brought my bike back to school and tried riding it again to no avail. I could not ride it but I could not sell it, I felt I had invested too much into the whole enterprise.

Junior year I spent in Scotland while my bike rested in my parents garage.
Senior year it remained in the garage while I found a more appropriate physical pursuit in fencing.

Then I moved to Seattle for graduate school. Okay, alright, now was the time for me to dust off this bike and get back into the cycling game. I could even use it to commute to campus now that I lived a few miles away, Seattle is bike friendly this is perfect!I rode it a few times around Greenlake before realizing it was not to be. I considered converting it into a commuter bike, I even went into a local bike shop to check out panniers. Then winter came and my ideas of commuting to work fell to the wayside.

I knew what I had to do.

I had to sell the bike.

I pulled it out of storage, cleaned it off and looked at it. I replaced it all back to stock parts, removed the speedometer that fatefully read that final speed, made sure the scratches were at least cleaned up, took a few photos and posted to craigslist.

I started posting four weeks ago.

I sold it this weekend.

I now feel a bike shaped hole in my life. When I had someone coming by to look at it.

I felt all of the potential that it represented, an entire new aspect of myself unexplored, lost, gone.

A UCSB alumni ended up buying the bike from me, that helped make the loss a little bit easier.

Making that single left turn drastically altered the course of my life. I have always wondered what would have happened if I turned right.

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UCSB 1982 Graduation

The 1982 UCSB graduation looks a lot like the 2009 graduation.

The 1982 UCSB graduation looks a lot like the 2009 graduation.

I have mentioned before that I am in charge of converting about six hundred family slides into a digital format.

I looked into services where I send out my slides to get them converted, for the amount that I have I figure I can just do it myself.

Then I thought that I should try doing it myself without any fancy equipment and just use the camera gear I have. I did some tests using the above slide that my grandfather took at my parents UCSB graduation in 1982. First I tried my 50mm f/1.8 to see how that would do. The cropped image came out at too low of a resolution (about 1000 pixels on a side).

My +3 Macro filter came to my mind. I screwed it onto my 55-200mm just to humor myself. I was able to get almost a full frame image of the slide, at max aperture there was terrible bloom but setting it to f/11 solved that. In the end I got the above image. Not terrible for what I was doing (light reflecting off of computer paper) but by no means what I want as the final product.

This was all done in consideration of using a dedicated macro lens with a slide holder from Nikon or other camera company. I have been give a budget for the project and my thought was to keep the macro lens that would need to be purchased as my payment for doing this. However what I would need for this is not what I would want (need: 60mm Macro, want: 105mm Macro).

Now I need to decide between dedicated slide scanners that range from one to two hundred dollars. There just seems to be a dearth of information on this subject outside of the two thousand dollar scanner range, and past 2005.

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Graduation stage.

Graduation stage.

University of California Santa Barbara Class of 2009

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Stage Photo

Quite a few seats.

Quite a few seats.

So the graduation stage has a 24 hours guard on it to prevent people from moving around chairs or touching the stage.

I was allowed to take photos from in front of the stage, but standing on it (two feet away) to take a photo was not allowed.

It is not comfortable to spend time composing and adjusting a photo when there is a slightly grumpy guard behind you on a stage.

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Last Day of Undergraduate

It rained today.

It rained today.

Today was my last day of class at UCSB. It is the end of Spring quarter, June and Southern California, so I was expected a beautifully warm end to my undergraduate career.

I woke up this morning to the rain. For my last class here it rained the entire day.

Now I like the rain and in a way this was a much welcome relief over the perpetual marine layer weather, I just hope it gets at least a little warm for graduation.

Unless Santa Barbara is just preparing me for Seattle.

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A new series of graffiti pieces have been cropping up around UCSB.

A new series of graffiti pieces have been cropping up around UCSB.

I saw one of these faces and thought nothing of it. Then I noticed a second one across campus.

From then it has become a goal to find as many as I can. I did the same thing with the complementary graffiti a week ago (the “Looking Good” text bubbles). Similar there is another series of red Mario mushrooms around campus, which tend to be paired with no smoking stencils (I do not know if these are official).

These faces tend to be at intersections, car and bike ones. I think I have found three so far, I am sure that there are more around if not they will appear in the next week or so. I might have to start carrying my camera with me at all times so I don’t have to resort to my camera phone (though it is less noticeable).

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A friendly bush.

A friendly bush.

I really enjoy non-tagging graffiti, especially when it is artistic, political or absurd.

Recently on campus there has been a series of chalk graffiti in the form of chat bubbles coming out of trees, trash cans and sprinklers with phrases like “You just made my day”, “Relax”, “Take it easy” and “Nice shirt”. When I first saw one I sort of glossed over, then I noticed another and eventually a string of them stretching out from the library. Without my camera I resorted to the next best thing: my camera phone.

I found ten of them in the first go and found another today. Unfortunately I could not get a picture of the eleventh as I was running late, I also saw one partially rubbed out. Tomorrow I will venture to capture these and hunt for a few more.

Overall UCSB tends to like stencil an chalk graffiti.

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The morning sun through the smoke as ash fell on campus.

The morning sun through the smoke as ash fell on campus.

The fires are over in Santa Barbara, or at least over in that those evacuated can return. In the past I have either been out of the country for the big Santa Barbara fires or they have been in non-threatening locations like Gaviota Pass.

This time though I know at least three people directly effected.

My classmate was evacuated Wednesday at 3am, he had a flight in the morning out of LAX. While he was not displaced that much from the fires he did not  have a chance to pack and wound up moving back in at 1am Monday morning. For him he was just greatly inconvenienced.

My Astrobiology professor had a stroke of luck. Evacuated Wednesday that night he saw his house on TV with the angle showing flames leaping up from his roof line. Eventually he found better footage and found that his neighbors house had burned down. The house across the street burned down. His other neighbor had their yard burned down. His roof took some superficial fire damage but otherwise survived.

A professor who I had for sophomore lab, and who wrote me a letter of recommendation, lost his house. The fire engulfed it and burned it down. I have not heard anything from the department yet about, but I would not be surprised if there is a fund or some sort of communal support from the students.

But now this fire is over, but it will not the last of the year. Last summer the entire state was on fire, hopefully this year will not be as flammable as the last.

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A sweet capacitor bank.

A sweet capacitor bank.

Last fall UCSB registered the most new voters out of any US college campus, as a result we are getting a free Death Cab for Cutie concert.

To get in they started handing out wristbands (acting as tickets) at about 9 o’clock this morning. Some people camped out the night while other showed up in the wee hours of the dawn. I had class at nine so I walked by the line, hoping that it would not be too bad after my class.

After class I waited for roughly thirty minutes and got a wristband guaranteeing me entrance to the concert tomorrow night.

An hour later I walked by and saw no line and still wristbands available, glad I did not wait all night.

To be fair I don’t think I have heard much Death Cab for Cutie but the factors such as friends and free have enticed me to go.

Hope I like them, I have a general relativity midterm the morning after the concert.

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Torrential rain is the best kind at UCSB.

Torrential rain is the best kind at UCSB.



Rain in Santa Barbara is by far my favorite time of year, I do not know mean the light drizzle or small half hour spurts of water, rather the full day of torrential rain. The campus feels so clear and perfect. Giant pools of clear water litter the ground, streams of water flow over gravel and roots. Buildings gain new stained faces as the water pours down.

A new sound overrides the background of the ocean; the slow drip and splash of water coalascing down trees. Eucalyptus are in full fragrance as water flows over the leaves into fat drops landing heavily onto the ground and unsuspecting heads.

Many people do not know how to handle rain. Plastic bags make an appearance as ponchos and seat covers, over backpacks and shoulder bags. Some embrace the rain to fully absorb as much as possible while others deck out in wellies, umbrellas and jackets. Class attendance drops, everyone stays inside (except the surfers), bike and skateboards evaporate off the paths. Some persist in order to elicit smiles from walkers drier under umbrellas.

And then there is the one person biking around with an umbrella held directly in front.

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