Engagement Photos Posted

Charlene and I spent two Sunday afternoons this month with our wedding photographer Lynn-Kai Chao. The first Sunday, we went to the park where I proposed, and two secret locations that I’m not at liberty to discuss 🙂 No…no…it was nothing scandalous. It’s just that we’re not allowed to discuss it in public pursuant to our agreement to honor a few corporate policies. (If you’re curious, I’d be more than happy to share privately.) The second Sunday we went to Carmel, CA to take beach photos.

But anyways, Lynn finished editing our photos this week and posted them on his photo blog. He did an amazing job! We’re so thrilled to have him as our wedding/engagement photographer. If you’re looking for one, we totally recommend him. We’re really excited about having him shoot our wedding in a couple months. And based on his work so far, it’s going to be amazing!

Updated 5/21/2009: Updated links to Lynn’s new blog.

Thanksgiving Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.

We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.* We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

*Emphasis mine.

Dad read this to the family last night during our Thanksgiving dinner. I was quite amazed at how these words of Abraham Lincoln are true even today, 145 years later. Indeed, as a nation we have forgotten God. We think that all the blessings we’ve received have been born out of “some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.” I think it’s particularly relevant to the times. Though we may not be embroiled in a civil war, we are certainly facing financial difficulty and strife. In some sense, the financial crisis is a “calamity” that “now desolates the land.”

Amazing and powerful words to ponder on this weekend of Thanksgiving.

100 years!!!

Last night Charlene and I were in Oakland for the celebration of Mrs. Lula Baird. We were there to celebrate her 100th birthday.  That’s crazy!  I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was 100 years old.  The quite amazing thing is that she’s completely lucid.  No dementia, no terminal illness, nothing. She is in a wheel chair, but that’s about it.  It’s quite amazing!

She’s had an amazing life serving the Lord, and she had a special impact on Charlene’s live in particular. I praise God for people like Mrs. Baird.

Blackberry Storm: 10 Minute Impression

I went to the Verizon Wireless store during my lunch break to check out the launch of the Blackberry Storm. They had sold out that morning, which isn’t surprising based on that Reuters article.  But they did have two demo models. I only got to play with it for about 10 minutes before a line formed behind me.  Some of my impressions shouldn’t come as a surprise based on the published specs, but they do reflect how I feel about the presence, or lack of certain features.  Keep in mind that I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing with Charlene’s iPhone, and I’ve never owned or spent any significant amount of time with a Blackberry, so that’s the perspective I’m coming from.  In any case, here are my initial impressions with letter grades:

  • Physically, it’s beautiful.  The screen is nice and bright, though I didn’t get to take it outside under the Sun. (A)
  • The screen grabs fingerprints like no other, so a screen protector is recommended. Then again, what glass screened device doesn’t (including the iPhone?) (C)
  • It lacks the iPhone’s multi-touch, which is disappointing.  While web browsing, it was easy to zoom in by clicking the screen, but it wasn’t intuitive on how to zoom out.  I was ultimately able to zoom out by hitting the return arrow hard key, not clicking the screen. (C)
  • The click screen is great! It brings the whole mouse hover/click paradigm to the phone.  By resting my finger on the screen, I could hover before finalizing my selection by clicking.  It’s a much better experience than the iPhone. PC World’s assessment that “Ultimately, the Storm’s touch interface feels like a failed experiment.” is bogus.  It just needs a little more polish.  I’d give it a B-/B.
  • I don’t like the SureType technology when the phone is in portrait mode.  It made it really hard to go to my favorite tech news site: Arstechnica.com.  I think it was trying to send me to “seatechnical.com” or something.  And it wasn’t easy to correct. Also, in this mode, the space bar is tiny, the same size as all the other keys, which seemed non-intuitive. (D)
  • The typing in landscape was good, but as other reviewers have mentioned, they keyboard is so big it leaves little to see where you’re typing on screen. (B)
  • Browsing was fast enough, but I couldn’t really comment whether it was faster than the iPhone or not. (B)
  • The browsing experience wasn’t as good as on the iPhone.  Scrolling isn’t nearly as smooth.  I mentioned the zoom and multi-touch issue above.  It was hard to enter information into forms, or to even get the phone to recognize that I was trying to click on a form to enter information.  Once the form field was selected, sometimes there was a delay in the UI before the keyboard showed up.  It was noticeable enough to make me wonder if it froze. (C)
  • I didn’t get to use the camera or the obvious feature that makes the Blackberry a Crackberry: e-mail, but I’m sure it’s fair to say that the experience will be consistent with other Blackberries. (A)

I think in sum, it’s a good product.  It’s a great competitor to the iPhone, but does lack somewhat in UX (user experience) and polish. On the other hand, this is a first generation product, and the iPhone is already on v2.  So Apple has a bit of a head start.  I’m hopeful that the Storm will give Apple a run for its money and create a win for all consumers.

Alrighty, that’s all for now.

100 Days…

Well, it didn’t take long for me to make my next post.  So that’s a good thing.  But I couldn’t pass up this momentous occasion. Those of you who visited our website (http://www.brianandcharlene.com) today at 3:30pm PST saw the following screen:

Yup!  That’s right, there are officially 100 days until our wedding.  That’s crazy!

But not crazy in a bad way.  Crazy in a good way.  My cousin Jay asked if I was getting cold feet, and my answer was a resounding NO!  I really can’t wait to be married to Charlene.  Sometimes it seems like it can’t happen soon enough.

A whole month!

I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since my last post.  That’s crazy!  How time flies.  One of the last posts I made indicated I’d be uploading pictures “soon.”  Well, they’re uploaded, but I haven’t officially made them available because I haven’t had time to caption them.  The last month has been really crazy with wedding planning.  It’s hard to believe we’ve accomplished so much.  Things will be pretty busy around here until after the wedding, so I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post.  As you can tell, I’m already lagging.

A few quick updates:

  • The tri-tip and potatoes from the last post were delicious.  I had so much tri-tip left over, it was ridiculous.  I probably could have cooked half that amount.  Fortunately, people were gracious to take a lot of it home.  All in all, there were 8 tri-tips, and with 30 people, we probably only ate 4 or 5.  I guess the rule of thumb about 4 oz of meat per person is just about right (9 lbs = 144 oz.  144oz/30people=4.8oz/person)  That doesn’t seem like much to me.  But I guess some people eat considerably less than others.
  • We had our first set of engagement photos on 11/9.  We stayed local and shot at Starbucks, the park where I proposed, and The Cheesecake Factory
  • We had our second set of engagement photos taken at Carmel, CA around sunset on 11/16.  It was a beautiful area.  I told Charlene that we’ll have to go visit another time after the wedding.  I also want to go see the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • Oh yeah, our wedding/engagement photographer is Lynn-Kai Chao, so if you’re looking for a great photographer, we’d highly recommend him.  (And yes, the post on Nov. 17 is about our engagement shoot at Carmel.)
  • We’ve been apartment hunting for our new home, and I’m trying to decide what I think about Avalon apartments.  They’re kind of expensive, some of the people I’ve talked to are incompetent and rude, but they have really nice facilities which are hard to beat.  They all have Charlene’s number one criteria: Washer and Dryer in unit. I guess we’ll see if it’s possible to find another location that is comparable for a better price.
  • Thanksgiving is coming up, and Dad and Mom have again graciously offered to pay for Charlene’s ticket from SFO to Bakersfield.  They did it last year, and they’re doing it again.  They totally didn’t have to, but Charlene and I both appreciate that they are paying.  What a lucky future daughter-in-law!

I think that’s all for now.  My apologies in advance if this is the only post for the next month or so 🙁

Updated 5/21/2009: Updated links to Lynn’s new blog.