See, this is what happens when two nerds get married and have little boys.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving pictures

I'll let Denise fill in this weekend's details later, but here are some pictures in the meantime.

First, there's a brownie batter mix fight between Amanda and Adam (who are now officially getting married on Dec 22nd). It looks like Amanda lost.

Our camera has burst mode, so Denise just sat back and took a gazillion pictures -- about one a second with the flash. We now have a flipbook of the Great Brownie War of 2006, as well as about 60 photos of me drinking milk and her Mom doing dishes. This is what her Mom has to say about it:

We have a whole series of pictures of the tree going up, but it would take a lot of space, so here's just the finished product. For those who might be interested... it's a long 30 sec exposure with all the house lights off.

Adam took a cool 2 sec exposure of a nightlight:

We enjoyed being able to take pictures of Will using our new camera -- the flash is smart enough to not blind/redeye/washout his entire face.

There's also a couple neato photos of the roaring fire:

Blogger doesn't let me put the full 10 megapixel glory online, so here's an enlarged section of the image to give you an idea how much detail there is in these photos (click to expand). Blogger also compresses the images pretty bad, so there's a LOT more clarity in the original (email me, and I'll send you the whole original file :D). There are so many possible pictures in here with a bit of creative cropping!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving, etc.

Thanksgiving was great! Mom's cooking is fabulous as always, and her kitchen was immaculate. That is so not fair. I can't make a casserole without messing up my kitchen, let alone Thanksgiving dinner. But I digress. We stayed at Mom and Dad's for 4 days (Wednesday night through Sunday morning), along with my sister Amanda and her fiance (!!) Adam. They weren't affianced officially until VERY early Sunday morning... and they're getting married in three weeks. We can pull it off-- it'll just be interesting. I'm so happy for them!
James and I bought the mother of all cameras. It takes some of the coolest pictures! I'll post a bunch tomorrow.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Of politics and motherhood

Most people know that I'm a politics junkie.
With that preamble, I was reading an article about a bill that Chuck Rangel is planning on presenting in Congress after the Democrats take control of both chambers in January (not to imply that this bill is a Democratic thing, just to say that I think he's hedging his bets). The bill proposes to reinstate the draft.
Now, most people know that all men must register for the draft when they turn eighteen. Or at least that was how it was when I turned eighteen. Registration is already well accepted. But here's the catch to Rangel's bill: he wants to draft (not just register for the draft, but actually draft) all men AND women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. According to Rangel, if the military isn't your cup of tea, you can work in hospitals or schools.
I find this proposition insulting and demeaning on multitudes of levels.
First, where does Rangel get off thinking he can tell me what to do with my life in peacetime? I can see the need for government "interference" in people's lives in wartime-- rationing, drafting, etc. But I fail to see why this congressman thinks that he should be able to dictate the terms of anyone's life during peacetime.
Second, and more personally, why does this man think he can tell me that I may not stay home with my children? Granted, I'm twenty-five. Rangel's bill doesn't affect me. But if it had been law, and had my first child survived, it would have. The government should not be able to dictate a woman's choice to care for her children.

Okay, end of rant.

Proud accomplishment of the Week

I've been looking into something called HDR imaging recently; the idea is that you can take a picture at multiple exposures and combine the images to have a lot more detail than your monitor is capable of displaying, process the image, and then map it back to a format your monitor can display. Perhaps you've tried to take a picture indoors, but all the windows are overexposed -- or an outdoors shot where the sky is overexposed, but the rest of the scenery isn't. HDR imaging fixes those kind of problems, and also makes for some very interesting artistic possibilities. The Cambridge Photography Gallery has some very nice examples. Programs that help you do that are not cheap though (Photoshop CS2 comes to mind). I started thinking about it though, and figured I could probably design a program myself that would do it. I spent an hour awake in the middle of the night last week thinking about it, and finally decided to try on Friday. It only took me an hour or so, which isn't bad considering I haven't really done anything in c# before and just decided to give it a try. I used images from another site that offers a $99 HDR program, Photomatix, and while my images don't look the same, they do look pretty decent.

The first shot is one with a well exposed sky & clouds, but underexposed ground:

The next shot has a well exposed ground, but an over exposed sky:

My final result (with a bit of saturation enhancement, which I was just too lazy to code in at the moment):

For those of you who may be interested, I'll even tell you the secret of my marvelous invention! It's late and Will just went back to sleep, so I don't have time to clean up the jargon though.

I started with the over exposed image, and at a certain brightness threshold, began to blend in a part of the underexposed image. So when the clouds started to get "too bright" I'd blend in a bit of the other image. Perhaps the idea was flawed, or I shouldn't have stayed in the RGB colorspace, but I ended up with a funny result:

Ewww! It was pretty obvious there was a bug. One theory: I was just blending in the RGB values of the other image and producing a non-invertable response curve like the one below.

I played with a few threshold values... and when I removed the threshold and started blending immediately, I got a good result. So instead of waiting until part of the image was REALLY bright, I started blending the two immediately, with more blending the brighter the image got.

I was a bit disappointed when I looked over my code and realized that I hadn't really created a true HDR imaging program. My algorithm actually translates into a simple alpha mask (a grayscale negative of the over exposed image used as a transparency mask for the underexposed image does exactly the same thing).

I may clean up the code and post the program on blogger later (or host it on my FTP server if blogger won't let me post it).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006


These are some of my favorite pictures of Will so far. I don't know why the top one is so blue-- call it a Picasso-- but I still like it. I especially like the bottom two.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Update Part II

Hmmm. I had a whole bunch of things planned for these updates, but a full night of sleep (!) and breakfast (!!) seem to have driven them out of my mind. No, Will didn't sleep throught the night, but he now goes 6-8 hours between feedings at night. The trick is getting him to go to sleep after the first night-time feeding. Still though, I think I got 7 or 8 hours of sleep last night. LOVELY.
James blessed Will in church yesterday. It was wonderful-- Will just grinned the whole time, and I don't remember any of the other babies in the chapel crying. The first thing out of James' mouth had to do with "inquisitiveness and understanding"-- definitely James' baby.
Is anybody sick of Willex updates? I hope not; he's fun to write about. But anyway, James and I have stuff too, so here goes.
James is going to start grad school in January. He was taking a class this semester before the whole meth lab fiasco, but.... So he's happily working, and buying a phone for a separate business line (YES!!). He's also ogling digital SLR cameras. His favorite thus far is the Sony a100-- which costs $750!
I have two goals: Learn to cook dinner on a regular basis (WAY harder than you'd think with a baby), and lose my Will-pudge by December, when my sister may or may not be getting married... Ack! Will calls. Gotta go!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Sorry, sorry

Hey, Will is two and a half months old, and I'm not superwoman, so it's okay that I haven't updated in forever, right?
Okay, sorry:(
Anyway, this is going to be a multi-part update, so here's part one.
William Alexander Stevenson will be officially blessed with that very professional-sounding name tomorrow at 1:00. But you can't call him that all the time. The only person I can think of who actually calls him William is my grandmother. So here are all his other names (as James said, "We give you a name because you need a better one than the ones you get called now!"):
(The) Willex
Wilson (ala WILSOOOOONNNN!!! from "Cast Away")
and The Plug-inator

I realize that these are going to take explanation. First I will begin by stating that all of the except The Plug-inator are my Dad's invention. Blackjack is the most recent-- Dad figures, hey he was born on the 21st, so why not? The rest are fairly self-explanatory, except The Plug-inator.
That was James' idea. Will is ardently fond of his pacifier. We can't quite bring ourselves to call his pacifier a binkie for some reason, so it has become, rather pragmatically, The Plug. James and I even came up with the following (it needs work, but we thought it was funny):
One Plug to rule the Will
One Mom to find it
One Dad to bring it in
And in the Willex plug it

Tolkein had no idea.

Anyway, that's it for tonight. Will is sleeping (YES!!!), so there'll be more updates tomorrow, including pictures. 'Night!