economy : Oh Fair New Mexico

Subscribe to Oh Fair New Mexico RSS FeedSubscribe to Oh Fair New Mexico Comments

by Karen Fayeth

Hot Clamp, I Love You So

Ok, I have another totally hot photo gadget product review to share. I was not compensated in any way for this. In fact I paid these good people for the right to be one of the first to try this out.

It is no secret that I love photography. That much is clear if you’ve been hanging around this blog for a while.

While I was trained to take photos using a DSLR, I have become more and more enamored of taking photos with my iPhone. I think that Flickr reports the number one camera used by its members is the iPhone.

It’s great to have an always ready to use camera that also makes great shots. So to that end I am also enamored of many of the gadgets out there to help make iPhone photos that much more cool.

There are a lot of little lenses out there, most come in a package of one fisheye, one wide angle and one macro lens. The form factor on these isn’t always great. I have a set that sort of sticks on with a gummy ring and the lens is a magnet to the sticky ring. Ugh. A *nightmare* if I’m outside where it is dusty (hello? New Mexico?). Plus the ring is pretty tiny and hard to use. There are some that are a kind of jelly stick on lenses that are in one piece but offer up the same sort of issues.

Along came the Olloclip and I loved it. The clip slipped onto the phone and voila, the three lenses were all attached and it was good to go. The Olloclip is pretty spendy at $70. The wide angle and macro lenses were great but to be honest, I don’t really like the look of fisheye photos so that lens never got used.

But the Olloclip and I got along great. I used the wide and the macro quite a bit on my iPhone4s. Photography life was fabulous.

Until I got an iPhone5. Then the Olloclip didn’t fit anymore. I was not really in the mood to blow another $70 so I figured I’d make do with what I already had in my kit (i.e. the sticky lenses, ugh).

Then I heard some rumors on Twitter about a company working on a lens kit that was like a clip or a clamp which meant it could be used on any make or model of phone, regardless of size, shape and thickness and if I desired could even be used on a thin point and shoot.

Well sign me up! Only…the product, called Mobi-Lens, wasn’t available yet.

Images could be found on the company’s Kickstarter page. I had not yet taken a foray into the world of funding a Kickstarter, so I thought I’d give it a chance. For just $40 I was able to choose a red clip that came with wide angle and macro. The fisheye lens is a separate clip so no need to order that.

So here we go, the cost is more reasonable, I don’t have an extra fisheye lens lying around I will never use, and this clip will work on generations to come of whatever phone I choose to have.

Yes, please!

The Good Man warned me that one of people’s biggest complaints about Kickstarter is that even if the project gets funded, oftentimes investors never see results from their investment. The product or project just never comes to fruition.

I read the Kickstarter page carefully and I watched the videos and I felt like these were decent people who had a great idea. They already had some finished test product and they just needed money to go into production.

SO…yes…I took a gamble with forty of my hard earned dollars. This was back in October.

A few weeks ago, my gamble paid off when this little beauty arrived:





It’s so pretty! It’s red! It has really nice glass lenses!

It is very easy to use and I’ve only begun experimenting with it.

So far I think this is the best macro cell phone lens of all the brands I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot!).

Here is a test shot of my work keyboard:





Pretty great!

I have much left to explore with my little Mobi-Lens but so far I am totally hooked and totally in love. I am happy with my lens and I hope this company continues to blossom.

They gave me an awesome lens and made me a believer in the power of a good project on Kickstarter. Win!




———————-


Image of Mobi-Lens Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth and taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.

Image of keyboard K Copyright 2013 Karen Fayeth and taken with an iPhone5, the Camera+ app and the macro Mobi-Lens.

Both are subject to the Creative Commons license found in the right column of this page.




And Then There Was Perspective

Yesterday as I was writing up a post about whether or not to take the brand new laptop allocated to my new employee and give him my old machine, I got a ping on interoffice chat from my employee in Costa Rica.

She and I had spoken earlier in the week and she told me some sad news. Seems that she and her husband have to sell their car because her aunt has demanded immediate repayment of a debt. They have worked and tried to find a way to get the money to pay it, but cannot.

The car has to go.

When I was in Costa Rica with this fabulous lady in May, I was impressed by how much she and her husband loved their car. It is a ten year old Kia and they had lovingly detailed it, put on nice wheels, kept the paint clean, reupholstered the inside and doted on the car.

They even told me how important this car was to them. It got them back and forth to work. It helped my friend take her sick mom to regular doctor appointments. It gave them freedom to get out of stuffy, overcrowded San Jose and to the ocean.

She was crying as she told me the news.

They had found a buyer who gave them quick cash and they re-paid their debt, which means that both she and her husband need to ride public transit, such that it is, to get to work every day.

I’ve been on the buses in San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s not that bad, just very crowded. My friend has to walk about a mile from her home to the bus stop on roads with no sidewalks (or “walk sides” as she calls them) in the oppressive heat and tropical rain and at night.

She assured me it would be ok. She and her husband were looking into getting a loan for another car. They both have good jobs and it seems likely the bank will approve.

So yesterday, when she pinged me, she was apologetic. “I was late to work today, I’m so sorry.”

This is quite unlike her, she’s very prompt and quite businesslike.

“That’s ok, are you all right?”

Seems there is an ongoing protest in Costa Rica and while she was able to get on the bus, ultimately the route was blocked by protesters and traffic so everyone had to get off the bus. She walked five kilometers to work (about three miles) in her work clothes and heels.

She was spitting mad and drenched with sweat and just really, really sad.

“Do you mind if I leave a little early today? I have to go to the government office to get a report to take to the bank so they can see if we can have a loan for a car.”

“No problem,” I responded. “Take care of yourself.”

I’d tell her she could work from home for a few days until this is sorted out, but they can’t get internet to their house. The infrastructure just doesn’t exist yet in her neighborhood.

Whatta world, whatta world.





A Costa Rican bus stop, and this is a nice one. In the hills, bus stops are little more than a bench carved into jungle overgrowth.




Image from You’re Not From Around Here and that post is totally worth reading. I suggest a click.




My Official Opinion On The Matter

Been reading up on this whole Facebook IPO debacle.

Oh so very ugly.

As I think about it, I am reminded of my old NMSU Finance professor Dr. Hawkins, and his Ten Investment Rules.

And so…my official comment on the FB disaster?

Keep #5 always in mind. And #7 too.



Originally posted December 29, 2010

________________

Sometimes, the cranky old man is the smartest man in the room

Back in the good ol’ days, that wild time known at the 1980’s, I was full of youthful optimism, and I was attending New Mexico State University.

My undergraduate major was Finance.

Ooh, those were heady days when I wanted to be a stockbroker when I grew up. This was back before I realized that “stockbroker” and “salesman willing to sell underperforming securities to your family in order to make commission” were synonymous.

While the dream was still alive, I took courses at NMSU from some really fine professors with a lot of experience.

Among them, several courses with Dr. Lowell Catlett, now the Dean of the College Of Agriculture, and a noted expert on futures trading.

There was also both undergrad and grad level classes with Dr. Clark Hawkins, a man who had actually worked as a commodities trader on the NYSE floor. In his words, he had tried pretty much every investment vehicle out there…and lost money on ’em all.

Dr. Hawkins was a strange little man. Wiry, small of frame and nasally of voice. He referred to himself as “Uncle Hawkey.” He often told us that, as Finance students, we should have our Wall Street Journal under one arm and our financial calculator under the other.

And this was to be done while wearing a t-shirt imprinted with “Uncle Hawkey’s Ten Investment Rules”.

At the end of each semester, he gifted us with a copy of the ten rules.

Recently, I was searching around in all the old boxes under my house, picking through my crap looking for things I can sell on eBay.

How ironic, then, that I should come across my framed copy of Uncle Hawkey’s Ten Investment Rules in my search for something to sell for money.

Well, I sat down and read the rules.

Goddamn if Uncle Hawkey wasn’t right. He was right then. He’s right now. Right is right.

Now…snap your Wall Street Journal in place, put your finger over the “future value” button on your financial calculator and get set.


Uncle Hawkey’s Ten Investment Rules:


1. Don’t invest in things you don’t understand.


Ah, every single customer of Bernie Madoff…take note!


2. Remember the fundamental mathematical rule of finance.


You know what? I don’t.

I suspect this was about future value and present value of money. He was a stickler on that.

Because I understood and could calculate time value of money, I kicked the salesman’s ass when I bought my first car.

I got that salesguy demoted because he was such a dunce. Thank you Uncle Hawkey.


3. Know the difference between investment and speculation.


Oh I remember this one. I rant about this one. A lot.

Let me just say his own words, with the same shouting nasal tone…

INVESTING IN THE STOCK MARKET IS THE SAME AS GAMBLING!

If you do not think putting your money in the stock market is gambling, then you need to re-examine yourself and your money.

Sure, it may return better odds than Vegas, but not always.

For those of you wailing and gnashing your teeth in the current economic downturn because you had all your money in the stock market, I suggest you get this rule tattooed on your arm and look at it daily.


4. Don’t invest or speculate in financial securities that you can’t easily find quotes on.


Dangling participle notwithstanding….Uncle Hawkey was right.

Once again, I’m looking at you friends of Mr. Madoff….paging investors of Mr. Madoff….


5. Don’t buy a closed end fund on initial offering.


Oh yes, everyone gets oh so very excited about IPO’s. Especially during the dot com boom of the early 2000’s.

Look how well that worked out for most people.

Right.

But Uuuuuncle Haaaawwwkkkey, people in his class would wail…what about _____ and they’d name some company.

And by tracking the history of the stock price, he’d show them how they were wrong. How the price would be driven up on IPO and would, over time, settle back down.

He recommended waiting out an IPO for a company you liked, and buying the shares after the initial flurry of the IPO wore off and the stock had settled down.


6. Be skeptical of people who say they can forecast the future.


Well, if more folks did this, then people like Jim Cramer would be a lot less interesting, wouldn’t they?


7. Don’t do business with a man you can’t trust.


Too true. I would also substitute “man” with “company.”

(And for 2012 I would substitute “man” with “egomaniacal manchild“)

And yet…how many of us do anyway? (*coff* AT&T *coff* Comcast *coff*)

Honestly…it’s getting a lot harder to find honesty these days.


8. If the brokers are pushing it hard, it probably should be avoided.


So simple. So true. Yet….

Paging followers of Mr. Madoff!

(seeing a trend here?)


9. Long range planning gives the dangerous notion that the future is under control.


Oooh, this one hurts.

Remember how great things felt in, oh, say mid-2008? When we all had some money and maybe a big mortgage on a great house and the financial future looked, well…bright?

Yeah.

I broke this one. Uncle Hawkey, wherever in the world you are now, I give it up to you.

You knew. You always knew.


10. Don’t lose money.


Well sh*t. I broke this one too.

However. Slowly but surely, it’s coming back.

Because Uncle Hawkey warned us about short term and long term.

My wise investments will, eventually, find their way home.

And finally….


11. (Bonus rule) Remember Rule 10


Fair enough.

And so…as we slowly but surely dig our way out of these ugly financial times…

May we all remember Rule #10

Thank you Uncle Hawkey.




As a post script…

In my senior year of undergrad, Uncle Hawkey decided to go on a sabbatical from teaching.

He invited us, the students that he had so tortured, to join him for happy hour at El Patio. Ah, that venerable old Mesilla Plaza bar (former home office of the Butterfield Stage).

Uncle Hawkey slapped down a credit card and said we could have all the beer we wanted. Nothing else. Only beer.

Oh, the pitchers flowed that day, and Uncle Hawkey paid for it all.

Maybe all of us college students were, on that day, a good investment.



$2 and a Moment

Yeah, ok. I caved to the masses.

I’m quite suggestible you know.

I come from a family that enjoys trips to Vegas and the occasional Indian casino. My family loves to gamble (responsibly) and I do too.

So today I threw two one dollar bills into the toilet and bought Mega Millions tickets.

Every news outlet, radio talk show, and coworker is talking about the half billion potential payoff.

Yesterday on All Things Considered, they had some whiz bang mathematician guy who chastised all of us in describing the impossible odds.

I think that’s when I decided to throw my hard won dollars in the ring.

I know the odds are ridiculous. I know it’s a waste of money. I know, I know.

But for a moment, a little moment, it’s fun to think about what if?

I think the concept of what if is a powerful one.

There are those in the ranks of woo-woo and esoteric who would say that what if is a good thing. It’s an order placed to the universe.

I think what if gives you a chance to see what you can accomplish.

When you pull out a road map, you look at where you are today. You look at where you want to go (what if) and then you map the highways, byways and dirt roads that it will take to get there.

Do you get lost sometimes? Sure.

Take a wrong road because it looks interesting? Of course.

Run out of gas? Absolutely.

And then, sometimes, with a little luck and a little diligence, you arrive at your destination.

So for me, the what if daydreaming is simply me being the cartographer of my life.

What if’ing about half a billion dollars might be ridiculous to some. To me, it’s a nice way to end a crazy busy day at work. My mind is too tired to parse this spreadsheet in front of me. Instead I’ll gaze out the window and daydream. For just a few moments.

And then, because it’s the last work day of the month, I’ll collect my regular paycheck, pay my rent and then go home to The Good Man (my odds of finding him were pretty sparse too, but I must have drawn that map pretty gosh darn well).

So ok. That’s worth at least $2





This week’s Theme Thursday is: moment.



I Don’t See a Forest? Those Trees Are In My Way!

Sheesh, sometimes I worry about my brain. I can usually rely on it to make the connections I need and I’m off to the races. But sometimes…sometimes I just can’t seem to rattle all the pieces into place.

This week the Theme Thursday theme of fixture was really baffling me.

When I don’t get an idea right away for the weekly theme I usually start by looking the word up in the dictionary. Then I’ll do a Google images search. Then I’ll look at my own trove of photos, both on my phone and on my computer, to try for ideas.

And, well, fixture wasn’t speaking to me this week.

Last night, as I lay in bed getting ready to sleep, I was thinking on this dilemma. Sometimes when I’m really sleepy the best ideas come around. My brain works more smoothly after throwing off the bounds of the day.

So I tried to rev up the old brain motor. I was like “come ON. I know I can do something with fixture. Don’t I have a photo or an idea? I have to make it work. Come on brain.”

Then I closed my eyes. I gave up, thinking, “whatever. I’ll skip participation this week.”

That’s when my clever ol’ brain got in gear.

Suddenly my eyes shot open, because I remembered I had this photo, taken on my phone, just this week:




I have looked at this photo a thousand times trying to get ideas and somehow the phrase “light fixture” never crossed my brain. What. The. Heck?

And then, one might ask, why do I have a photo of a light fixture?

Because among my many weird obsessions is looking at and often snapping a photo of the ceilings in San Francisco’s oldest buildings. I dig the old tin ceilings and miss how builders used to really pay attention to detail when a new place went up. I miss that workmanship and that style.

This photo was taken at a fave restaurant on Union Square called Sears Find Food. Established in 1938, this place embodies the essence of old San Francisco. I *adore* this restaurant. The food is awesome. The service is impeccable. The location on the heart of Union Square rocks.

Speaking of location, the day I ate at Sears I spent some time wandering around Union Square and felt gutted to see all the old places closing and the shiny new moving in. I wasn’t able to capture a photo, but there was this really old school tailor storefront that now has a huge “coming soon” false front around the door. A Jimmy Choo shop is moving in. *sigh*

I did manage to snap a quick shot of this longtime fixture on Union Square, The Gold Dust Lounge, established 1933.

According to our local paper, it’s soon to shut its doors as well. The building owner wants to convert it to retail space and has a clothing store all lined up.



From an article in the SFGate (I couldn’t have said it better):

The issue is particularly touchy downtown, where the sultry saloons, strip joints and savory and not so savory amusements that once lined Powell Street have steadily disappeared over the years. True or not, there is a perception in some city circles that corporate stooges are busily wiping out San Francisco’s colorful bacchanal traditions and turning everything retail vanilla.


So, I guess my tired brain is actually doing ok. A little slower to make the neurons snap into line, but I got there.

Turns out I really did have something to say on the topic of fixture.



Next Page »