Tales From The Ipe!

I sit by and watch the river flow. I sit by and watch the traffic go.

A long time to wait, but my official CRISC certificate arrived in the mail

It felt like forever, but my official CRISC certificate arrived in the mail late last week. I spent the last month or so checking my certification status online, and even called the Certification Dept for update.

I went out, bought a document frame on Saturday, and now it’s on my wall. All those months of studying, practice questions, testing time, plus fees?

Worth it.

Joel’s Review of Moana (2016)

This Thanksgiving weekend, we went to see Disney/Pixar’s latest film Moana Saturday night. Can I tell you that I enjoyed this film?

  1. It’s an original story — there are no princesses, and it’s about a fable.
  2. It’s about brown people in Ancient Polynesia.
  3. The animation was fantastic — the hair, the ocean, the lighting.
  4. I’m not big on musicals, but the music (including the music of Lin-Manuel Miranda) was catchy.
  5. The voice acting was damn good.
  6. While Dwayne Johnson is funny as Maui, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho as Moana was fantastic.

So here’s the basic plot from IMDB:

In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by Maui reaches an impetuous Chieftain’s daughter’s island, she answers the Ocean’s call to seek out the demigod to set things right.

Namita found the film boring, but the rest of us really enjoyed it. To each his or her own, of course, because I distinctly remember being rather bored when we watched Brave four years ago. The story is simple in the way a fable or legend is — Moana’s home island appears to be dying of a strange sickness, so she is tasked to find Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) to help her fight a volcanic demon, and restore the “Heart of the Ocean” (a green stone) to a particular island. Beyond the animation, direction, and music, the character of Moana was really strong. She’s the true heroine of the film, determined to save her people.  Between the animation, the music, and the entertainment value, I highly recommend this film.

Moana (2016)

Moana (2016)

Joel’s Review of Delhi in a Day (2011)

I was working late one night (er, many nights last week), and I thought I’d watch something while I worked. I saw Delhi in a Day in the “My List” section added there a while ago.

Interesting film!

Here’s the excerpt from IMDB:

When the money of an idealistic British traveler disappears in a nouveau-riche Delhi household, the staff are given twenty-four hours to replace it or face the consequences. Delhi In A Day is a darkly comedic portrayal of upper-class Delhi society, examining how the haves and the have-nots coexist in the context of the contemporary nouveau-riche Delhi home.

The trailer is rather deceptive, so I’ll give you a better summary. Delhi in a Day is a 2011 indie film by Prashant Nair. The British man depicted below, Jasper, is on his way to India from Great Britain. He has quit his job, liquefied his savings account, and is coming to India to explore “the real India” — yes, that old cliché. His first stop after the airport is at the house of one of his father’s employees. He’ll be staying there for 24 hours or so, before continuing on his Indian sabbatical. While there, his life savings stored in an envelope goes missing.

Scene from Delhi in a Day (2011)

Scene from Delhi in a Day (2011)

If you look at the poster, you’ll see two groups of people. On the left-hand side of Jasper are members of nouveau-riche family (the “haves”.) On the right-hand side of Jasper are members of the live-in help who quietly go about their day to keep the household running (the “have-nots”), such as the cook, the butler, driver, etc.

During the film, it becomes increasingly clear that the “haves” have a friendly veneer, but are cold, callous, and shallow. The servants live in poverty, but have these colorful warm lives. When Jasper’s money goes missing, the family blames the servants, and orders them to find the money by the morning, or the police will be called in. The servants, who have nothing, are in despair, and struggle to come up with a solution.

The film runs a short 88 minutes, and I’d recommend it.  Wonderful performances from the actors and actresses playing servants, and I found it interesting to see the differences between both worlds.

movie_delhi_in_a_day-2011

Delhi in a Day (2011)

I bought the Nikon SB-700 speedlight

I’d been considering getting a separate flash for my camera. I’ve been reading up on the benefits, the basics of flash photography, etc. It’s not as if the built-in flash on my camera is bad at all, but there’s a lot more you can do when you have a separate flash that you attach to the hot shoe of a camera. Yes, a separate flash is more powerful. You can adjust the power of the flash to get the right exposure level. The other big benefit is being able to aim the flash away from your subject, so that you can bounce the light off the ceiling or use a diffuser (material that diffuses the light from the flash.) This helps to soften the light, and help reduce shadows.

Recently at my mother-in-law’s retirement dinner, I was plagued by shadows and funny lighting in the ceiling.  I didn’t like the shadows behind my subjects. I didn’t like being unable to counteract the orange-yellow light in the room. I was recently asked to help take photos at someone’s event coming up in a week, and I didn’t want to have this problem anymore. Not at this dinner thing coming up, or going forward, especially with Christmas coming up too.

So I bought the Nikon SB-700 speedlight, which is what Nikon calls them. It’s a bit expensive, so I had to use up all of my Amex points to bring the cost down. The kit comes with speedlight itself, three diffusers (for use in different lighting), what I think is an attachment for a tripod, and the large case. I had to rejigger my camera case, but I was able to find a way to fit this, a camera, and three lenses in the same bag.

I took a few practice shots, but I need to continue practicing during the next few weeks.

Thanksgiving 2016

This year’s Thanksgiving was probably the least complicated in recent memory. I was able to work from home Wednesday and Friday, while Namita took off from Wednesday on. Wow, nice. Wednesday night / Thanksgiving… Eve (?), the kids went to karate,  we picked up Thanksgiving-related groceries, we ordered some biryani from an Indian restaurant, , and watched some TV.

On Thursday (actual Thanksgiving), we hung out at home and relaxed. In the afternoon, we all helped out with cooking up the 3 side dishes. By 4:30 or 5 pm, the side dishes were done, and we were finally dressed up. We piled into the car, and drove down to my sister’s house for dinner. We ended up staying until 11:30 pm, chatting, drinking, and cleaning up.

On Friday, I was working from home (as I mentioned), and the rest of the family relaxed around here. In the late evening, we corked up some more side dishes, then went over to our friend’s Lenny’s place for a post-Thanksgiving party, and to celebrate Lenny’s birthday. Everyone brought drinks, gifts, and Thanksgiving leftovers. Late night eating, drinking, and playing party games.

Saturday and Sunday were all about running errands, watching Moana, church, more home tasks, and decorating more of the house for Christmas.

Good weekend — couldn’t complain even if I wanted to.

Shanta’s Retirement Dinner

My mother-in-law recently retired as a long-time professor at Union Community College, where she taught English as a Second Language for over 30 years. On Friday evening, her former colleagues threw a small party for her and two other retiring colleagues. The venue was The Westwood in Garwood, NJ.

Congratulations!

Photo of the Supermoon on November 15 2016

We recently had this “Supermoon” event in mid-November, where the Moon was abnormally close, and won’t be this close again for another 20+ years.  I decided to try something different. I got my camera out, set it up on a tripod in the driveway, used a 55 – 200 mm lens, and took a few photos using a very long exposure. I seemingly tried 20 different combinations of settings in order to try to get the right resolution without getting a washed out picture. I took so many that I lost track of what combination of setting actually worked. Ah well. In any case, I got one good photo. I used Adobe Lightroom to help clean it up a bit, and here ya go.

I think it’s pretty good for a novice.

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The Ipes ran in our first ever 5K at the Princeton Pacers’ Clash Dash 5K

Since September, Lily has been running in a program called Girls on the Run. Twice a week, she’s running on a track with a number of other girls. The season is now over, and I think it was a good experience for her.

On Sunday, Nov 13th, Lily and many girls from her group would be running in the Princeton Pacers’ Clash Dash 5K. Since she’s, you know, 8 years old, I’d be her running buddy. As the event got closer, Namita and Josh also both decided to run, so we made it a big family event. None of us had ever done something like this, but we’re not afraid of anything.

The run started at 8:30 am at the Stuart Day School in Princeton, and we had to be up early to get there by 7:30 am. Dressed for the cold weather, we were up, bundled up, and out the door early enough to get some hot breakfast from Dunkin’ Donuts.

The run went well for all four of us, though Lily was a little challenged  / winded by the hills. Guess she never encountered hills running on a track. We may have Josh now thinking about running in one of these groups, so we’ll find out if we can encourage in this area. Here are some pictures from the event.

As soon as we all crossed the finish line, we had to book it to the car, as we had to get home to shower and dress for church! Never a dull moment for the Ipe family.

Yeh man, the Ipes went to Jamaica – Friday

Our last day in Jamaica.

After breakfast, we began packing our suitcases. We then went back to the beach to get a quick ride on a small sailing boat around the bay one last time.

We grabbed the bus back to Montego Bay, which took about 90 minutes to get to the airport. We bought some last minute souvenirs, and some last minute Jamaican beef patties, then hung around at the airport for a bit. It wasn’t too crowded, and we were pleased to find some free Wi-Fi.

The flight home was on time and uneventful. We got home at 11:22 PM, and the cats were mildly interested in seeing us again.

Yeh man, the Ipes went to Jamaica – Thursday 

Thursday was our last full day here in Jamaica. We made the most of it. Nums went to get a massage. The kids tried standing and surfing on that flow boarding thing. The kids also went swimming with dolphins, which they both loved. In the evening, we went back to the teppanyaki restaurant. Had the same cook as Monday! After all the glitz and glamour of dinner, I took the kids out to the arcade one last time, then the three of us played a few games outside in the dark, like capture the flag.

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