Amazon.com textbook buybacks

I just noticed that Amazon has book buybacks.[^1] In this case, it would be like a 4-month rental for $2.06! That's a great deal.

[^1]: I apologize if this is dated information -- I really only buy Kindle books these days and only bought this one because it has lots of illustrations and an included DVD).

Leave a reply here, please! (an #experiment)

Hello, readers! If you have a moment, can you leave a comment wherever you first see this message, or where you feel most comfortable submitting a comment? I'd like to get an idea of the % readership from my journal, from Twitter, and from Facebook. I'll post the results. Thank you! :)

I am a gardener!


hydroponics rule.
Baby steps, right? :)

Unrelated: I'm upping my standard journal photo size to 600 pixels wide. Only photos posted via Flickr will be 500 pixels wide (their default).

Louis-Michel, AKA Cousteau AKA Abuelo

One of our fellow passengers in Coiba was a 70-year old French guy named Louis-Michel. In the beginning, none of the non-French knew his name, and we all started calling him Cousteau, which stuck. Cousteau restores antique watches and clocks for a living, and seems to be slightly crazy. He wears stylish Hugo Boss (prescription) sunglasses, and is in fantastic shape for his age. He is also never satisfied. For example, the crew brings out large thermoses of coffee and hot chocolate, and Cousteau responds, "I prefer tea." Marcelo makes amazing mojitos, and Cousteau fishes out the mint leaves and makes a funny face. His steak is not rojo enough, and the chicken has too many bones. Neither Heidi nor I were in Cousteau's boat, but from conversation with his dive-mates, I gathered that he was a handful in the water. Essentially behaving like a remora, Cousteau chose Andrea as his host, which was incredibly entertaining for everyone else. On one dive, Andrea looked ahead, behind, to the left, to the right, and below him, and concluded that he had lost Cousteau. He prepared to do an underwater victory dance, but then paused for a moment and looked directly above, only to discover Cousteau floating there, impossibly close! Hilarious. And if you happened to find a critter? Cousteau would be there instantly.

On land, he was similar. I was pushed out of the way by Cousteau at least once a day. The pushes were always deliberate, but without much force. There was nothing I could do except sputter in indignation and then laugh. After all, one cannot exactly push a 70-year old man back.

After about a week, the Spaniards, Italian, and Brazilians started calling Cousteau a new name: "abuelo," which means grandpa. When we arrived back on land and stopped at a convenience store to pick up supplies, Andrea found some kind of alcohol named "Abuelo" and brought it back onto the bus with him. He held Abuelo up above him and pretended that it was following him, and I don't think the back of the bus stopped laughing for a good ten minutes. It seemed a bit mean to laugh so hard at an elderly man, but everyone actually had a lot of affection for Abuelo, despite also being highly entertained by him. In the evening, we were in the old quarter of Panama City, and Abuelo (for some reason concerning logistics) had to leave our bus early (note that this was after we thought we might have lost him while walking around). He suddenly walked to the bus' rear and proceeded to climb up the metal ladder and stand on the roof. We nearly had heart attacks as Andrea and Marcelo went over and positioned themselves in place to catch him should he fall...

And so, Abuelo left us. There was some ruckus in the bus after we said goodbye to him... which coalesced into a wild cheer as Andrea stood up and shouted, "Liberado!" (liberated).

After things quieted down, Bianca quietly noted, "That was significant emotional event." So it was.

Slideshow evening at home


Vienna Teng, Bill Rivard, Natalie Chang, Aaron Logan, Victor
Tonight, I hosted the first of what I hope to be a series of presentations / performances by my community of talented friends. I gave a 2-hour slideshow about my recent adventures documenting Operation Musashi in the Southern Ocean. It was an intimate crowd; about 13 people showed up, which was just about the perfect number.


"Remote" app on iPhone controls Keynote '09

It was my first time using Keynote '09's new Remote app for iPhone. It worked perfectly, but I wish it had an option to go to the beginning of a presentation. The photo above shows the presentation on a plasma screen, but I actually gave it using the projector -- everything looked fantastic, except that my Mac Mini couldn't play 720p H.264 video upres'ed to 1080p within Keynote. Poor computer...

Mendocino weekend


Pam and me in Mendocino
I had a really relaxing weekend in Mendocino -- the perfect return after two months away. I dropped Pam off at the airport on our way back this morning; she's off to India on a business trip.

Don't worry: it's not an April fool's joke this time. :) However, this post is private to avoid unnecessary attention...


I like this picture. :)


Pam hams it up in front of the camera (she's joking. :)

Looking for Canon 1D/1Ds Mk II charger in Brisbane, today

Hey guys! I'm in Brisbane now, and my assistant's Canon 1D/1Ds Mk II charger has burned out. We are leaving port on Wednesday. Does anyone have a used charger to sell us? We'd love to order one, but we're afraid that we don't have time for a delivery. Or, we can go into town and buy one from a camera store (have recommendations for who to call?).

Please let me know via email if you can help! Thank you. :)

I'll get your message if you send one on Tuesday (in Australia) at: http://echeng.com/contact/

Be sure you are logged in

For some reason, the ViewLevel plugin for Wordpress has started showing lock icons on all posts after I upgraded to WP 2.6.5 from 2.6.1, so I've removed the icon altogether from post titles. Hope to fix this when I return. Until then, please be sure you are logged in to read the latest updates (if you have an account, that is). :)

Seacam housing, M.I.A. for 45 days


Yap stamp detail
I have been stressed out for the past few weeks because I shipped my Seacam underwater housing (with ports, arms, strobes, chargers, and more) back from Yap, Micronesia rather than haul it home via Dave and Kim's wedding in New York . After a month and a half, it had still not arrived. I insured the package, but my receipt from the Yap post office simply said, "Stamps: $140," and this did not inspire confidence in the package's traceability.

Yap tried to help. I was in touch with someone at the dive resort who kept going to the Yap post office to check in on my package status. The package was to be routed from Yap to Pohnpei to Guam before going to Honolulu, and finally, San Francisco. However, I wasn't allowed to even make an inquiry into package whereabouts until at least a month had passed. Once a month passed, I tried making an inquiry. I was told that the person who had email at the Pohnpei post office was out for a week, so it would have to wait. (I am chuckling because I'm currently reading The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, and it all makes sense now).

I switched my tactics, and tried to contact Oakland. I know Oakland's Civic Center post office isn't a shining beacon of exemplary service, but I expected them to at least *attempt* to deliver the package. I also expected them to pick up the phone. I am out of town a lot, but I did call in every few days. Not a single call was ever answered.

After more than a month, I finally received a voicemail from someone at the Oakland post office saying that a package for me had been sitting there for a couple of weeks. I was excited because he left a callback number, but I realized that the number went to a residence after I thoroughly confused the man who answered. And so, I kept calling the public number (at the time, I was in Las Vegas for DEMA).

Out of desperation, I called a fellow underwater photographer who used to work for my post office in Oakland. She agreed to go look for the bag. A few hours later, she called me back.

"Hi, Eric. I have your bag in my garage."

Relief!! Replacing the housing would have cost a fortune in both money and aggravation / stress. About 30 seconds later, I thought about what had just happened: a retired USPS employee had wandered into her old branch and grabbed a package worth thousands of dollars. That's pretty fucked up, but it was the best outcome I could have hoped for.

**UPDATE:** After reading this entry, one of my friends wrote me: "this is why we don't want the government owning banks and shit." I concur.


My Seacam housing, shipped back from Yap


My Seacam housing, shipped back from Yap


It says attempted delivery, but we never got a slip

Why ask?

I was hanging out with a friend the other day (one I don't know very well), and she asked, "so what were you doing when you were living in New York?" I answered, succinctly, "I was writing options trading software."

She replied, "Oh. That doesn't interest me at all."

Silence.

You can imagine that I wasn't as excited for additional dialog.

Obama win!

Since I don't have TV, I streamed election coverage on MSNBC after having dinner in the Castro during the actual announcement of Obama's win -- the streets went wild!. Animal Planet is doing a bit advertising push for Whale Wars; MSNBC played the trailer 4-5 times during the course of my 30 minutes of watching speeches.

I've been getting emails from acquaintances who live abroad, and there seems to be near universal joy outside of the U.S.; likewise, all of my close friends are ecstatic at the prospect of change. The only downer is that more than 50% of voting Californians seem to be bigots. It will be really disappointing if Prop. 8 passes. I thought we lived in a little oasis here, but it appears that the oasis only encompasses the coast.

When we were walking to the car after dinner, a homeless man shuffled by with a shopping cart, muttering, "I don't care about any of this shit. I don't care." Yeah, I suppose the ramifications of an Obama victory might not matter so much compared to finding food and a place to sleep.

Alissa Everett - In Harm's Way reality show

More of my friends are making it into reality TV! Alissa is going to be featured in a new series on the CW called In Harm's Way.


Me 'n alissa, self portrait in San Francisco

Alissa will be in the "War Photographers" episode:

> They may not be soldiers, but war photographers risk their lives each time they set out to grab the headline-making shots that chronicle military conflict. In this episode, Hunter Ellis takes viewers into battle with two war photographers on the job in Israel’s West Bank and Gaza Strip, as they cover the region’s tense and tumultuous events.

**UPDATE**: The episode is on Hulu.

Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008


Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008
I saw a tweet from @ravenb tonight about the fire at Angel Island, and rushed out of my house at 11:30pm for a quick view up in Diamond Heights. I hope no one was hurt in the fire, and I hope they get it under control soon. As of 11:15pm, it had already consumed more than 100 acres.


Close-up of Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008


Angel Island fire, San Francisco, October 12, 2008

I snapped some photos, which are sort of mediocre. I was 2 hours too late and couldn't find my 500mm lens (I hope the case is in one of my packed boxes!!). There will most certainly be some spectacular photos online by morning; I look forward to seeing Mona's photos, which will be are up on SF Magazine's website sometime tonight.

Book recommendations?

I'm going to load my Kindle with tons of books before I leave for extended travels this coming November, and I'd like to get some recommendations. What should I read? :)

Shark Taggers, new show on NBC

Since everyone I know seems to be on reality shows these days, I thought I'd push another show. This one will be on NBC. Shark Taggers follows a bunch of marine biologists as they tag sharks in Brazil (and other places). It just so happens that that marine biologists are led by Dr. Samuel Gruber and a bunch of the people I spent time with at the Bimini Biological Field Station back in 2003.


Back at PIT 2003: Mangroves at night! bug jackets! sharks! fun!

Anyway, I am excited to see both Whale Wars and Shark Taggers! And this, from someone who doesn't like reality shows. :)

Whale Wars on Animal Planet, this Nov 7

Animal Planet premiers Whale Wars this coming November 7, 2008 (Fridays at 9 PM)! I will be around to see the first 2-3 episodes air[^1] before leaving for... uh...

[^1]:I don't actually have TV, so I'll have to go somewhere to watch it. :(

Crap. Am I supposed to tell my parents the whole story?

Anyway, you might recognize this girl from some recent posts. Hey, I know someone who is on TEE-VEE!

I had lunch with Kim and some of the folks working on Whale Wars at the Animal Planet building in New York last week. It was really exciting to get to go into the editing room to see a sneak preview.

New York whirlwind


Kate Devaney, Eric Cheng, Al Vinjamur, Kirk Kazazian
I stayed in New York for a few days after Dave and Kim's wedding to catch up with friends and to represent Wetpixel and Sea Shepherd at the LUSH press event.

I was excited to get to hang out some with Ella, Peter and Karine's daughter. She is a smart one.

Special thanks to Al Vinjamur for letting me stay at his place again. Here are a bunch of photos from the week...

LUSH press event, New York


Kim at the Sea Shepherd booth, LUSH press event
Kim McCoy and I manned the Sea Shepherd booth at the LUSH press event at the Hudson Hotel in New York a couple of days ago. I had never before in my life been surrounded by soap people and members of the fashion/fitness press! The female to male ratio was at least 10:1 (which is always nice).

LUSH recently added Sea Shepherd to its list of 21 supported charities, and earlier this month, hung a suspension artist up using longlining hooks in one of its stores in the UK in an effort to garner media attention about the issue.

100% of LUSH's Charity Pot lotion proceeds go into a pot to support its charities. They are also releasing a product called Shark Fin Soap, just for Sea Shepherd, as an opportunity to educate their customers about what is going on with sharks in the ocean.

I got to meet a bunch of the LUSH crew, who were all really passionate about pretty much everything. I had a bunch of issues of Wetpixel Quarterly on hand to give out to the writers, but it was the LUSH employees who ended up being the most interested in our collection of ocean denizens. I'm glad to have been able to share our magazine with you, and it was an honor to be included in your event!

Kim McCoy in New York


Kim McCoy in New York
I spent most of the day fighting with encryption on the Mac. Yargh.

I did, however, get out for meals. I went to Candle Cafe 79 with Kim today, and had some really fantastic vegan food. She hates being in front of a (still) camera, but I'm trying hard to get her used to it. Met up with Tony, Scott, and Ai-Jen for dinner at Josie's, which was also delicious.