Sunday, September 30, 2007

Appreciating Rupee

Its shrinking my canvas. Its poisoning my dreams. Its ripping my wallet. When will this carnage stop? Or will this deluge ever recede? 0.5% drop by Fed in US caused a Tsunami of dollars that hit Indian Shores and bouyed the sensex by 10-15% in just a couple of weeks and rupee breached 39.

I'm not sure which side of Dollar Rupee equation am I on. I have a portfolio in India thats doing well, thanks to rate cuts introduced in US. At the sime time, I'm worried that my dollars are losing their green glimmer.

IT companies are no longer growth stocks. Even with high revenue growth, the margins and net profits are lagging.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Crater Lake Oregon

Sharing their habitat
Who Moved My Cheese??

Inverted Icicles

Stitched Crater Lake

They call it the purest water lake in the world. Perched at 7000 feet in the cusp of the volcanic mountain its the bluest lake I've ever seen. May be the lakes in Leh would match the beauty and the purity of crater lake.

We stayed in a Log cabin in the wilderness with deers frequenting our room. Saw a few in the chill of the morning mist.

I've been trying to leverage Stitch feature of my camera and the results could have been good. Its a great feature which allows you to take multiple snaps and then merge them in a single picture to create a panoramic view.

The weather was misty on the day we arrived, but fortunately cleared up the next day. Another attraction there are amazing columns of solid lava that have frozen and look like upside down icicles.

The falls in the vicinity were too cold to enter. We were happy just to click snaps.

Here are a few of the snaps from my latest adventure.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Yosemite to Grand Canyon on Wheels

US is a beautiful country. The more I explore it the more I love it. I'm speaking of natural beauty. Last week I undertook a 2000 mile journey in an old beat up Accord that took me to Yosemite, Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, all in 5 days.

Yosemite was hot. I really had not expected the mountains to be like oven, yet it was frying hot out there. This summer has been especially harsh on CA, or so our host at Cedar lodge told us. Its dry and hot and prone to Forest fires. Earlier this summer Lake tahoe had one tragic incidence of forest fire, barely a month after I visited it in June. Lack of rains this year added to the woes of Yosemite as the beautiful bridal falls were reduced to a trickle.

Anyhow, after spending a day at Yosemite, I drove to GC. It was a breathtaking journey. I started off amongst the mountains. It was a beautiful, calm and cool morning with the sun lighting the mountain tops as we drove along a tiny stream on I-140 from El-Portal to Mariposa. As we reached downhills, we stopped at a place called Coarse Gold on route CA - 41 for breakfast. Just as we started off towards US 99 the scenary changed. The mountains gave way to hills to hillocks to gentle slopes and the green got replaced with bright golden yellow. California is called golden state for many reasons, but to me its the landscape. As we neared CA-99 the scenary became stunningly bright golden with beadings of trees making it look like some special effects film.

As we drove through CA-99 to I-15 N the scenary changed again. The vegetation disappeared and ugly, scarred scarred hills sprang up. The desert was dry as bone and hot as a furnace. It was quite scary as the signs carried messages like "Next services 50 miles". Goodness, what would happen if my car broke down in this sweltering heat?

As we crossed over to Nevada on I-40 E, the landscape became even more rugged and remaining traces of vegetation disappeared. The land became flat and bare. We finally broke for lunch at a Roadside Steak House in Nevada. They served some wonderful bbq chicken and life restoring lemonade. We then set off towards Az.

As we entered Az, we were greeted by thunderstorms and a mesh of railroad tracks. The silver streak of wagons crawling across the desert and pulled by 4 to 5 hefty locomotives looked like a stream of water flowing through the desert.

From time to time we'd see exits to Historic route 66 and it reminded me of Cars (Pixar Movie). The road was straight as an arrow with Giant trucks crowding the I40 hauling supplies deep into the desert to sustain US way of life.

We broke our journey at Kingman. Tanked up, as Gasoline was a wee bit cheaper 2.79 9/10 per gallon and set off again towards Williams (our base camp for GC). As we set off, the scenary changed once again. The barren land got replaced with green lands, with patchy green shrubs lining the way to Willaims. As the sun set behind us I kept looking up the breathtakingly beautiful sky in my rear view mirror. Shades of blue got mixed with the grey of clouds with pink borders as the sun struggled through the clouds on its way down. We finished our 650 miles long drive for the day as we took exit 163 to Williams. Once again the shades changed to bright yellow with millions of wild flowers painted the canvas with their bright petals.

Buying a Camera All Over Again

First Digital camera I bought was about 3 years ago. I'm not too much into photography and so I was more interested in a point and shoot camera than an a bulky professional one. The site I put my faith in to read up various reviews available back then was Somehow Cnet plays a very important role in all my electronics items purchases. Be it buying a digital camera or mp3 player(I chose Zen micro over iPod based on Cnet Review) or an amplifier or a laptop, Cnet plays an important part of my decision making process.

After using the Minolta Dimage Xg for three years I thought now was the time for an upgrade. I was pondering a trip to Grand Canyon and thought it would be nice if the pics looked a little better than 3 megapixel point and shoot camera.

Dimage Xg has been a good companion. Its small and elegant (by 2004 standards). Amazingly it did not have a moving lens and most other cameras did and yet it provided standard 3x optical zoom. I read somewhere it used a prism internally to achieve the zoom and that made the images just a little too foggy for my liking, though for most occasions it belted out great ametuer pics.

So the quest started again. This time I was looking for a meatier camera especially with greater zoom, Image stablization and movie recording capabilities better than 320 X 240 (Dimage Xg).

The camera that captured my fancy was Canon Rebel xti 8 mega pixel camera. It was what reviews called a prefessional camera for an ameture price. Still the price was too high for my liking. After looking around for similar capabilities but lower prices, I chanced upon Canon S series. It had all the nice things I was looking for and a price tag that was considerably cheaper than the other Canon model. One feature I had wished for was a viewing screen that rotated 360 degrees. Sometimes I wanted to click overhead shots and I would raise camera over my head and click in the general direction of the subject using intuition and hope the pictures came out right. With this feature I could rorate the camera vewing screen and see the subject.

When researching cameras I'd recommend looking up Digital Camera Resource Page to read up about the cameras. Another great resource is Imaging Resource site. It has a range of standard subjects and you can compare the pics of some standard subjects from various cameras. This gives you excellent apple to apple comparison of cameras.

So far I'm happy with my new Canon S3 IS camera. I'll post some of the pics of GC I clicked with it. So far no Post Purchase Desonance :)

Overall this camera gave me the right value for money and