Recipe: Harry and Janie’s Raspberry Pecan Feta Salad

The Dallas Camera Club occasionally has one or two potluck meetings each year and one of the dishes that I’ve always enjoyed over the years was Harry and Janie Rumberger’s Raspberry and Feta Salad which they would often bring.

A month or two back, I got around to asking them for the recipe since I had wanted to make the recipe for Thanksgiving. As it turns out, the recipe isn’t too complicated, but it comes out great every time.

Harry and Janie’s Raspberry Pecan Feta Salad


  • 1 5-oz box of mixed greens of your choice [I found these in one of the refrigerated cases next to the produce]
  • 1 6-oz box of fresh raspberries
  • 1 4-oz package of plain feta cheese
  • About 1/4 pound of candied pecan halves, coarsely chopped [I found these with the other bagged nuts in the baking aisle]
  • 2–4 Tbsp Ken’s Non-fat Raspberry Pecan Dressing (or Ken’s Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette), to taste


  1. Toss dressing and greens.
  2. Add cheese and toss very briefly.
  3. Add raspberries and nuts last and stir just to mix, being careful not to crush the berries or get too much dressing on the nuts.

A Quick Primer on Blu-ray Profiles

I was chatting with some friends last night, trying to explain the scoop on Blu-ray profiles, but I’m not sure I did a terribly good job of it. I've just come across an article at C|Net, though, which does explain Blu-ray profiles pretty well.

(The short answer, though, is that Profile 2.0 is the final one and, if you’re going to buy a Blu-ray player, that’ll be the most future-proof.)

And if you were to get a Blu-ray player, I can also recommend this comparison chart at AVSForum as a good starting point—ostensibly, it’s a table comparing the audio capabilities of various Blu-ray players, but it actually does a good job of summarizing things in general.

In the case of that table, the short answer is that you’d want to get a player with the green-colored cells all the way across its line in the chart. As I write this, and of the players that are currently available, that narrows things down to Panasonic’s DMP BD-55 (the Blu-ray player I have) and Sony’s BDP-S550.

Photos from Thanksgiving 2008

Mom Looking Over to the Grill

My family came to visit over Thanksgiving and, while my brother has hosted Thanksgiving at his place a couple times, this was the first time that I’ve hosted Thanksgiving here. My parents flew down from North Carolina and my brother came in from San Francisco. Quite pleasantly, my friend Anella was also able to join us, so in all it made for a really enjoyable Thanksgiving.

As I usually do, I kept my camera on-hand for photos. And, while I was pleased with how they came out, there were a few photo-nuances of which I made mental notes as well.

I really dig my Canon 40D and, to its credit, it does have an Auto-ISO mode (of sorts). Though it doesn’t offer settings for a shutter-speed threshold at which the ISO would be nudged upward (as Nikons do), its Auto-ISO is usually pretty competent. What I find odd, though, is that its “normal” ISO for ordinary scenes—its default ISO in Auto-ISO mode—is 400. You’d think that it’d simply choose the lowest possible ISO, and move it up from there as needed, but nooooo.

Most of my shots still worked out, and to be fair, I didn’t reject any of my shots based on ISO-grain alone. Still, if you look really closely at some of the images (at full resolution), you might be able to discern some grain there. If the shots happened to be at 1/15sec or something, that wouldn’t be so bad, but most of the shots were in the vicinity of around 1/200sec, so it’s not like the camera couldn’t have dropped the ISO to 200 and gone with a 1/100sec shutter speed. Well, c’est la vie. I suppose I’ll just have to set the ISO manually next time.

The other thing that I noticed is that my 430EX flash has no battery indicator whatsoever. More precisely, I tried to take a couple shots indoors—in the kitchen—only to find that my flash wouldn’t fire; later checking revealed that it was simply a case of the batteries not having enough juice, but it would have been nice if my flash could have told me that before I had attempted to go for those shots.

I was chatting with my chum Travis over IM today—we both happen to have flash units from Canon—and we ended up coming to the conclusion that Canon enthusiasts have little choice but to keep a spare set of batteries in his or her pocket throughout one’s flash work. Now if flash units from Nikon happen to have battery indicators, feel free to laugh at us Canon people. On the other hand, my hunch is that Nikon flash gear doesn’t have battery indicators either. I guess that’s just the way things go.

Photos from the Quarterly Meeting

Back Row of Coworkers

The local office of company I work for, EMC, has a meeting each quarter in which the management guys go over our numbers from prior quarter (among other announcements). Some of them had been held at Dave & Busters, though most of the recent ones have been held at Studio Movie Grill. (Studio Movie Grill is a local movie theater chain that also serves food.)

The general format of the meetings is that the first hour or so is mingling time, followed by the main presentation after that. There’s also an open bar and buffet of various snacks (like pizza and cookies, just off the top of my head) and that certainly doesn’t hurt. In all, I actually find myself looking forward to these meetings a bit. The information conveyed by the presentation is part of it, but I also appreciate being able to catch-up with my coworkers. (As a consulting company, it’s not uncommon for various people to be strewn about across different client sites.)

A few days beforehand, one of my coworkers asked if I would take some pictures during the meeting. Since I enjoy taking photos anyway, I thought I’d give it a shot. I mean, how hard could it be? Well, I came to discover that Studio Movie Grill is approximately as hospitable — photographically speaking — as if I had been on the moon :-/.

You know that momentary sense of blindness you experience as you walk into a movie theater as your eyes acclimate to the darkness? Well, as luck would have it, that’s exactly how a camera sees that environment — except without the acclimation part. To make the most of the light that was there, I ended up using just about every low-light trick of which I could think:

  • I set the lens to its largest aperture, f/2.8. (I was using Canon’s 17-55 f/2.8 IS at the time.)
  • I cranked up the ISO to 1600 (which actually wasn’t as noisy as I thought it might be).
  • I also made use of my trusty flash, Canon’s 430EX.

In the end, I still had to throw away a good handful of underexposed shots (though there were also a good many that worked out). Other than what I had already tried (with the aperture, ISO, and so on), I’m not sure if there was anything else I could have done. As far as the ISO goes, I might consider ISO 3200 next time, but I’m a little uneasy about the prospect of introducing more chroma noise. The flash itself worked well, though I think there’s only so much it could do. (I suppose I could upgrade to Canon’s 580EX II, but I haven’t yet wrapped my head around how much of an improvement that may be able to offer.)

Lighting wonkiness aside, I was pleased that quite a few shots did turn out all right. Studio Movie Grill generally works out fine as venue — the seating is comfortable and the beer is always cold — but it’s just a shame that movie theaters have to be so dark inside, eh? ;)

Twitter Back-Channel for the Presidential Debates on Current

If you’ve been to a conference over the last few years, you may have encountered a “back-channel”. A back-channel is simply an alternate communication channel that continues alongside the primary communications channel. For instance, there may be an IRC room where audience members can discuss a panel while the panel is going on.

For the upcoming Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates, the channel Current is doing just that with Twitter in a project that they're calling Hack the Debate. In short, if you tweet during while you’re watching the debates, just include the tag “#current” and your tweet will be overlaid onto the broadcast (probably similar in look to subtitles or closed-captioning, but just with a lot more people contributing to the feed).

In this promo video, the Current team goes over how this might have worked if Twitter had been around for the Kennedy/Nixon debates:

I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds like it could be good fun. And while I might normally watch the debates on CNN or MSNBC, I think I’ll give Current a try. If you’d like to play along, here’s the schedule for the upcoming debates:

First presidential debate:
Friday, September 26
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS
Vice presidential debate:
Thursday, October 2
Washington University in St. Louis, MO
Second presidential debate:
Tuesday, October 7
Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Third presidential debate:
Wednesday, October 15
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

That news item from the Commission on Presidential Debates goes on to say that all debates will be 90 mins in length and will start at 9 p.m. Eastern / 8 p.m. Central / 6 p.m. Pacific. And, yeah, that first one — on Friday September 26 — is this Friday.