Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Asia and India got smashed. 76,000+ dead. The Earth's rotation sped up by 3 microseconds. Tectonic plates moved by 98 feet (they usually move about 1cm/year, I think). This was a big deal.

Slashdot has more of the technical news.

Google has set up a tsunami help page.

As has Amazon.

CNN has a clickable list of links to places you can donate.

I'm pretty sure the Red Cross has need of donations too, but their site seems slammed at the moment.

There's also a tsunami help blog.

Help out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Dear newscasters... about using your brains for once? Please?

You run the story about the southern Maryland neighborhood that was torched and damaged/destroyed to the tune of $10 million. Then you say: "authorities believe that the fires were set to bring notariety and exposure to the "Isla de los Fuckers Del Mono"* gang". Don't you think by giving them notariety and exposure, you've just accomplished EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE GOING FOR??? I mean, Christ, come on! Can't you just say "...were torched by a gang seeking notariety". Wouldn't that make more sense and give us viewers enough information?

*(Name has been changed to protect the idiots).

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Gone Phishin'

Man, phishing schemes just keep getting dumber and dumber (or should I say "people who write phishing scheme emails have gotten dumber and dumber"). Over the last few days, I've recieved about 6 of these messages, supposedly from Yahoo (from whom I get my email access). And I quote:

Date: Fri, 29 Oct 2004 05:21:24 +0000
From: "Yahoo!" <******> View Contact Details View Contact Details
To: ******
Subject: Your Yahoo! ID - ******

Drae Yhaoo! Mmeber,

We muts ckceh taht yoru Yaoho! ID was registeder by real ppoele. So, to hlep Yah!oo prevtne autamoted
registsnoitar, pleaes clkci on tihs likn and colpmete coed vertacifiion precoss:*%68t%54%50%3A%2F/ww%57.G%09%6fo

Thkna yo

Other than changing my email address and cutting down on their long-ass bogus redirecting URL, it's verbatim. Remember the good old days? When you used to get phishing emails that looked like a PayPal letter? Or a CitiBank web page?

I guess I should click on the link once...just to see what happens. Tho, I suppose I'll be disappointed. I run Mozilla Firefox, so I doubt the trick will work. Maybe I'll get a test box up and use it's IE to see what happens. But if you can't spell a single word in the email correctly, what's the chance you managed to type a long ass URL without errors?


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Homicide bomber?

Why do the right-wingers call Middle Eastern suicide bombers "homicide bombers"? I've only heard this from the Fox News turds and (just the other day) conservative commentator Cal Thomas on my local news radio station. (I also must wonder if Thomas gets extra "conservative points" for looking like G. Gordon Liddy with a bad hair piece, but I digress).

My thoughs on this are thus: all suicide bombers are (or hope to be) homicide bombers, yet not all "homicide bombers" are (or hope to be) suicide bombers. There are two *very* different mentalities at work here. The Unibomber was a "homicide bomber". So was Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bomber). However, I don't think either of those "homicide bombers" are in the same league as Middle Eastern "suicide bombers". The "suicide bomber" is willing to give up everything for his (or her) cause. Where as the "homicide bomber" is not. Quite often, the "homicide bomber" is cowardly in his (or her) attacks on the victim(s). The suicide bomber may be cowardly (in as much as the're hiding a hundred pounds of explosives and blowing up innocent civilians), but they're not cowardly in that they're trying to protect their own asses.

So come on, conservatives. Let's all call a suicide bomber a suicide bomber from now on, ok? We know they're still bad guys. You don't have to try and remind us that in addition to killing themselves, they're also killing others. We're pretty smart. We figured that out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Holy crap!

QuakeMap might be the coolest piece of software ever created. It's definitely the coolest piece of mapping software I've ever used. Totally worth the tiny $10 registration fee.

Also extremely useful is GPSBabelWrapper, a GUI front end to the free/opensource GPSBabel program, which translates GPS data from one format to another (Magellan to Garmin, for example) since it seems QuakeMap only reads Garmin data (and I have a Magellan). I think the blame for this lies with Magellan's habit of keeping their file formats totally secret. Garmin has either allowed others to read/write their data, or was poorly designed and cracked early on :)

So here is where I picked up DT and Lee after the CCT ride:

It's the Wakefield Rec Center parking lot. From this satellite image coupled with my GPS waypoint, you can pretty much tell the exact parking space I was in. F*cking amazing. And the best part is that I have similar images/waypoints from the rest of the 20+ mile ride. Again I say "amazing".

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

I have *got* to get out of here

If $600k for an "average" home is the norm, I'm in the wrong area. I have no hope of breaking into a market like this.

2004 was another record year for home values, which went up 20 percent from last year

..."An average single family detached home in northern Virginia will now cost you around $600,000"


..."The average price of a condo in northern Virginia is now around $263,000 and is virtually guaranteed to increase in value, just like other single family homes"

Maybe it's just sour grapes. I sure wish I had a $600k house I could sell and move out into the country somewhere.

Monday, December 20, 2004

I always knew that river was f*cked up

"Scientist Says Male Fish In Potomac Growing Eggs"

I've seen people fishing in that river and thought "I don't care how hungry I am, there is no f*cking way I eat anything that came out of there". I was right.

Then there's the angle that this is coming from West Virginia. There's got to be something funny to say about that. Incest, boy fish developing eggs. I'll think of it, just give me a little while...
It doesn't look like much scaled down to this size, but here is the map of the first 20+ miles (DT carried my GPS unit on after I bailed out at mile 10ish):

The much bigger 1.3MB version can be found here. You can either right-click and "save target as" or just click on it and it should open in your browser. If you're using a browser that automatically scales images (like my Firefox did), you'll need to click on the image in order to see the full sized version. I don't know if IE does this or not.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Clever title goes here

What to call this post? I had a number of things in mind Saturday. "Mein Kampf"? "Yet another bright idea"? "What the f*ck was I thinking when I signed up for this"? "So that's what 'getting your ass handed to you' feels like"?

The plan was simple enough. A group of us ("The Magnificant Seven") were to ride the entire length of Fairfax County Virginia's "Cross County Connector" commuting trail. A "commuter" trail network (yeah right!) consisting of single-track, gravel paths, paved paths, roads and sidewalks that isn't too well mapped. Some of us would have GPS units with plans to have a coherent and cohesive map by the end.

The day started bright and early; up at 6:30am, out of the house at 7, at Wakefield park to meet the other guys at 7:30 (so we can shuttle to the starting point and leave my truck at the 2/3 point). The ride was set to begin at 9am.

Sitting around Wakefield, I had some time to kill before the guys were due to arrive. I decided that since I had installed a new chain (and changed the chain setup) on my singlespeed the week before, I should maybe pull the bike off the truck and try riding it around a little. It took about 2 pedal revolutions for me to figure out something was wrong. The chain was skipping and clunking in a way that made me doubt the bike would work for the epic ride planned for the day. A quick inspection showed me that I should have followed the most basic bit of bike maintenance...when you change your chain, change your entire drivetrain (especially on a singlespeed). My rear cog was worn pretty badly and wasn't working with the new chain very well. I made the decision to take this bike back home and grab my geared full suspension rig so I could make the ride.

I make a quick call to DT to tell him I'd meet them at the Great Falls starting point then beeline for home. Once home, I grab the FS and hit the road. I haven't ridden the FS in months. I should have known this was gonna be a rough day.

I make it to the starting point with some time to spare, luckily. DT, JoeP, Graham and Randy were already there. I pump up the tires, pump up the rear shock and ride around the parking lot a bit just to test things out. Before long Lee and Dan show up and we're ready to begin.

The first obstacle is right out of the parking lot (see JoeP's blog above). A stream crossing (in 27 degree weather). It's not terribly long or deep, but the bottom is a smooth concrete thing which is algae covered and quite slippery. Most of the guys decide to take off their shoes and socks and walk across. I had already gotten my shoes and neoprene booties on and was no in the mood to take them off (the booties are a pain in the ass to get on). I decided to ride it. I figured if I washed out now, I could walk my wet, cold ass back to the truck, blast the heat and head for home.

Luckily, I made the crossing without incident. Lee, figuring that if I could do it anyone could, decided to ride it as well. He made it with only a damp foot. Everybody puts on their shoes and we take off.

About 100 yards down the trail, I try to shift gears and I get nothing. My rear thumb shifter pushes all the way to the bottom and doesn't move the derailuer. Great. Looks like I'm riding a singlespeed today after all. This one is just bigger, heavier and squishier than the one I wanted to bring.

The trails at this end of the CCT are actually pretty nice single track. Some of the CCT follows (or even becomes) part of the Difficult Run streambed trail network which is a nice length of trail. More technical then Wakefield, but easily ridable by somebody of my (fatboy) skill level :)

The non shifting bike was annoying, but something I thought I could live with. That was until the first climb when the bike decided that *it* knew when to shift better than *I* did. It would ghost-shift at the worst possible times. And, it would ghost shift in both directions! Trying to climb, *clunk*, pedaling would become nearly impossible, then 20 feet later, *clunk*, I'd be spinning like a madman. It was f*ckin' frustrating.

I managed to complete a bit over 10 miles with the group before mechanicals, my lungs and my legs did me in. Guess it was a bit silly to undertake a 33 mile ride after not being on the bike for weeks and weeks. I was shown a bail-out point pretty close to my house, so I took it. It was a neighborhood road leading to a main road. The plan from there was to call in the calvary (either the girl or the sister) to come rescue me. It took a while to get through to either of them, so I started making my way towards McDonald's. I was dying for some bad-for-you food that didn't taste like power bar and some salt. I ended up going a couple of miles on the road before I finally was able to contact the girl to come to my rescue (thanks baby!). She took me back to the starting point to get my truck. I then got a call from Lee to see what the situation was for shuttling. He had plans late in the day, and the epic was taking longer than expected. I told him I'd meet them at Wakefield (since I was supposed to be the shuttle from there anyway) and headed back to the park.

I got to Wakefield and sat in the truck for a while waiting for the guys to arrive. When they did, there were two fewer riders than when I had split from them. Seems the CCT had taken it's toll on a couple of the other guys too. That made me feel better :). Anyway, as we were packing Lee's stuff up in my truck, DT decided that he'd had enough of the CCT for the day too. It seems that he'd taken a bit of a spill in the last few miles, and that coupled with some leg cramp action were enough. We managed to squeeze him and his gear into the truck as we said out goodbyes to JoeP and Randy, who were determined to finish the full 33 miles (congrats guys!).

So the shuttle headed back to Great Falls and dropped DT and Lee off at their vehicles. I then headed for home and as many hours of doing nothing as I could manage.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

I feel safer already!

My sis just got back from a trip to Vegas. As she and a friend were going through the security at the airport there, they both got "flagged" by TSA for a full search. While the guards were digging through their stuff they came across a bunch of $5 cheesy Vegas souvanir cigarette lighters (my sis had 4, her friend had 10...slot machines, boobies, etc). The guards said that TSA rules now stated that each passenger could only take two lighters of any kind (regardless if they are full or empty...where's the logic?) onto the plane. Their options were 1)trash the lighters or 2)go back out of security to the Mailboxes Etc. store and ship the lighters home, then go back through the fun of security. They opted to just toss the excess lighters.

After getting through security, they stopped at one of the newspaper/magazine/snack stores and found to thier surprise that they sold...wait for it...cheesy Vegas souvenir lighters! My sister asked and was told that there were no restrictions on how many lighters a person could buy from this store. When she asked how many they had in stock, the employee said "probably 20 cases".

So after being hassled by security to ensure they only had 2 lighters each on them, they could conceivably have gotten on the airplane with 200 lighters.

Good work TSA. Thanks for keeping me safe. Somebody might want to review that policy.

Friday, December 17, 2004

So *that's* what separates the pros from the amateurs

The pros see an opportunity to practice their skills and make some people happy at the same time. The amateurs hang out in their office oblivious to the opportunity slipping by....

This afternoon, my company had it's "holiday party". We're a pretty small shop, so it was a pretty small affair, held mostly in the conference room. Each year, the same guy dresses up as Santa and wows all the kids in the "North Pole" (aka: lobby).

Being mostly the anti-social type, I elected to hang out in my office for the most part and avoid the whole thing. As quittin' time approached, I packed my stuff and hit the road. On the way out, I had to run the gauntlet of the "North Pole", Santa and all the kiddies. No biggie. I watched my step (cuz nothin' pisses off a co-worker like squashing their kids), made small talk with the parents (my co-workers) and headed for the elevator. When I got out to my truck, it occurred to me that slung over my shoulder today (like every other day) was my fancy-pants camera. I could have been hanging out in the "North Pole" taking pix of all the co-worker's kids on Santa's lap for them (since I'm such a nice guy). Not a very bright guy, but nice enough. All they had going on was a Polaroid in the hands of the office receptionist for quick snaps for the parents.

So I grab my camera and head back up to the office to see if I can get any shots before the "Santa time" ends. Of course, I get up there as they're pretty much wrapping up. Damn. I'm an idiot.

The one good piece of this is that my boss and his wife and newborn son come up about this time and decide to put Jr. on Santa's lap for a minute. So of all the kids who were at the party, I got 3 shots of my boss' kid on Santa's lap. Nothing like a little brown-nosing to get you ahead in this world, right?
Common Courtesy

Dear sir(s) or madam(s),

If you insist on buying these gigantic, "luxury" SUVs (Lexus, Infinity, Cadillac, Lincoln, or god forbid H2) please at least have the common decency to drive over the 12 foot wide, 3 inch tall neighborhood speed hump (not the 6" wide 6" tall, bone-jarring kind) somewhat faster than 0.02 MPH. Both you and your ultra-plush behemoth will survive the encounter. I promise.


(Coalition of People Who Aren't Afraid of Speed Humps, LLC)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Well, duh

What's the point of making a toll road if we don't force
everybody to use it???

Plans for Bike Path Parallel to Proposed ICC Dropped
Updated: Thursday, Dec. 16, 2004 - 4:44 AM

"ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Don't expect a hike and bike trail to be included in plans for the Intercounty Connector.

The Washington Post reports that Maryland transportation officials have dropped plans to include a network of trails that would have roughly paralleled the route of the 18-mile toll road.

They cite rising costs estimates which have now topped $2 billion for the road connecting Interstate 270 in Montgomery County to Interstate 95 in Prince George's. The latest projected cost is about $400 million more than previously announced.

Officials say scrapping plans for the bike path would trim $100 million from its cost.

State officials say they'll keep some of the right of way acquired for the trails so that some sections of it could eventually be built."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

When I went to San Francisco a few weeks back, I found the coolest souvenir ever:

It's a 11x17" poster for "The San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper, a free Bay area rag (like the DC City Paper).

(Sorry about the weird angle. I had to take the pic from off to the side to avoid the reflection of the flash).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Oh man! I just noticed that I wrote this blog entry up on 11/3 and never posted it! Damnit! Oh well, it still holds true (even if it's not as funny as it was then)...

Always look on the bright side of life [de de, de de de de de de]

When republicans give you lemons...make lemonaide! Here are my personal reasons to not be totally depressed at this "victory" for "morality" (your reasons may vary):

1-I'll never need an abortion.

2-I don't have any gay lover to marry.

3-Go ahead and drill for oil in the Alaska Wildlife Refuge. It's a big state, I'm sure there's lots of other pretty stuff to see up there.

4-I'm too old/fat to be drafted. And i'm sure as hell not gonna sign up on my own for the Bush-Neverending-War-Machine.

5-The don't draft girls, do they?

6-There are 4 more years to try and catch the real guy who wants to kill us all.

7-All the cool punk bands have 4 more years of great material.

OK, I lied. I'm not looking on the bright side...I'm gonna cry.
God Save the Queen!

At least somebody is looking out for me.

Raising standards, British supermarket trolleys redesigned for taller shoppers

Dear America,

Can ya take a hint?



Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Welcome to life in the new world (order)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A portrait of President Bush using monkeys to form his image led to the closure of a New York art exhibition over the weekend and anguished protests on Monday over freedom of expression.

(Link courtesy of

Is this hypocrytical?

It occurred to me Saturday that I view old/mainstream/classic rock acts (i.e. Led Zepplin, Aerosmith) who sell their work for TV commercials as sellouts. Yet I see small/underground/unknown people (like Dabrye, the artist whos song is used in the Motorola R3 phone commercial where everything in the house folds up into the phone and Nick Drake (used in a VW commercial a couple of years ago) as being ok. They're just trying to get thier song out into the world, whereas the old acts are just trying to heap more ca$h on top of their already massive fortunes.

Is that fair?...

Bah, who cares. I've heard enough Zepplin and Aerosmith to last me the rest of my life. Sellouts.
Well, that didn't work out as planned

So last night was the peak of the Geminid Meteor shower, and supposedly this year was gonna be a good one for viewing. Now that I have a decent camera, I got the bright idea to go out into the cold (32-35*F) and try photographing it. (In a prefect world, I would get an image like the one in that last link).

The sky at home in Farifax VA was cloudless, which gave me hope, however there is so much light pollution that you can *almost* see the moon at night...if you try really hard. So at 10pm I packed my stuff into the truck and headed west. I knew of a couple of potential spots west of here (in Loudoun county) that might be dark enough (and have a decent view of the sky without buildings and streetlights and trees and buildings and minimalls getting in the way) so I headed that direction.

Unfortunately, as I headed west, the clouds started to thicken. At first they were patchy, but as I got to my secret viewing location (which kinda sucked anyway due to the giant Home Depot nearby) there were a lot of patches. So, I decided to keep heading west and see what I could see. Unfortunately, the thickening continued. I made it all the way out to Leesburg before turning back. At one point on the return trip the clouds cleared a bit, so I decided to take and exit off of the highway and try exploring the back-roads for a bit. This proved fruitless as well. While it was significantly darker out there, a thin layer of clouds moved over the area and pretty much washed out any chance of viewing. So around 11pm I headed back towards home.

Of course, when I got back home in Farifax, the sky was crystal clear.

Ah well. I'm glad it's an annual shower. Maybe next year will work out better.

Monday, December 13, 2004

And now for something a little less serious and a little more self-serving


The girl and I exhibited our wares at the twice-yearly Red Cross craft fair last Thursday. I managed to sell a few pix and had hours of ego-stroking compliments about my work (almost worth more than the $$$ IMO). Here are the images that sold (with links to the full sized web images on eighteenpercent). All of my prints were post-processed by me and matted (some using stock mats, others using custom mats cut by yours truly). Some were framed, others weren't.
(I actually sold two copies of this one!).

These shots got a lot of "oohs" and "ahhhhs" and compliments, but nobody actually laid out the cash to buy them. Money talks, bullsh*t walks people! ;)
(I've reworked this image, so the current version looks much better than this version, IMO).
(I had to cut a custom mat for this difficult as that process was, I should have charged a friggin' premium on this shot!!).

oh please don't be real, oh please don't be real, oh please don't be real

Thanks to DT for the links.

Mommy, I'm scared.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

So it seems the battle is lost (and I have to admit that I didn't do my part to prevent it):

WEEK IN REVIEW (from the Washington Post)
Dec. 5-11
Sunday, December 12, 2004; Page C04

Dense Development Plans Approved Fairfax Assents to Project Near Vienna Station

"The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors gave unanimous approval to a developer's plan for a mini-city of more than 5,000 office workers and residents in a dense development near the Vienna Metro station.

Fairlee-MetroWest, to rise at the end of Metro's Orange Line in central Fairfax, would be the densest development within reach of Metro in the county's prosperous enclaves outside the Capital Beltway. The developers hope to replace what had been a neighborhood of 61 single-family homes on 56 acres, which they purchased and razed, with offices, stores and 2,250 homes in a dozen buildings up to 14 stories tall and luxury townhouses. Condominiums would sell for $400,000 to $800,000".

And another take on the story:
(If you wanna read this and the Post bugs you to register, use They also have a Firefox extension which makes using the site extra easy).

Fucking $400,000-$800,000 for CONDOS???? I hate this town. The neigborhood they're flattening and replacing with this mess is literally about 200 yards from my front door. I've walked over there a number of times, watching the destruction, trying to find interesting subjects to take pictures of, feeling uncomfortable about the impending doom.

The most annoying thing to me is that they're presenting this "pack 'em in, charge 'em way too much for the real estate, and tax the shit outta 'em" as a way to stop sprawl. Hey, fuckheads, listen up...what do you think all the people who live near this metropolis are gonna do when you turn what used to be their suburbs into a pretend city/mini-mall hell? They're gonna do the same thing I am...they're gonna sprawl the fuck out of here...and fast!! Tho, I guess that's what you want to happen. Then you'll have more home sales at unreasonably high values and you'll reap the taxes (both sales and property taxes).

I guess the one thing that I'm greatful for in this situation is that I'm renting here.

So long, suckers.

I wish there was a US Recommended Daily Allowance of bacon.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Heh heh.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A hospital chain is taping over patients' LiveStrong wristbands because they are yellow - the same color as the "do not resuscitate" bands it puts on patients who do not want to be saved if their heart stops.

Full (short) story here.

Oh, and while on the subject of FoxNewsNetwork, it was fun to watch the progression of "Dimebag" Darryl (the Pantera guitarist shot by the nutcase in Ohio...a situation that really, *really* sucks) throughout the day.

I started seeing the news around 8am when they reported the story as "a guitarist for an underground metal band". By 9am, he was "Dimebag Darryl, guitarist for Damage Plan and former guitarist of Pantera". By about 11, he was "Dimebag Darryl, former guitarist for one of the biggest underground metal bands, Pantera". By lunch, he had become "Dimebag Darryl, former guitarist for the widely popular 80s and 90s metal band Pantera". By 1pm he was "Dimebag Darryl, one of the most influential guitarists in metal" and by 2pm he had become "Dimebag Darryl, as influential to the heavy metal music scene as Eddie Van Halen was to rock and roll" (I'm not making that up, they said that). Congrats on your popularity gain Darryl. Sorry you had to die to achieve it.

Guess it's true what they say, "everybody loves you when you're dead".

Now playing: Pantera - Far Beyond Driven.
Yay Christians!

With the 'publicans winning the election, FoxNewsNetwork feels it's been given carte blanche to be as christian as possible regarding the holidays. Most TV stations have a generic "Happy Holidays" messages. I was forced to sit in fron of FoxNewsNetwork all day yesterday and saw at least two different messages. Both began with a bible verse followed by the "John 3:16" type of identification. That faded, and the next screen came up saying something to the effect of "Have a safe and Merry Christmas". No "Happy Holidays" no "Hey Jews, we like you too!" no "Sorry you don't celebrate Christmas you Jehova's Witnesses, you're missing some really neat shopping opportunities!".

These next four years scare the shit outta me.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Family Values

This has prolly been all over the net and in everyone's inbox already, but I just got a copy of it and thought it too good *not* to post:


October 4, 2004:

Bush introduced Mike and Sharla Hintz, a couple from Clive, whom he said benefited from his tax plan.
Last year, because of the enhanced the child tax credit, they received an extra $1,600 in their tax refund, Bush said. With other tax cuts in the bill, they saved $2,800 on their income taxes.
They used the money to buy a wood-burning stove to more efficiently heat their home, made some home improvements and went on a vacation to Minnesota, the president said.
"Next year, maybe they'll want to come to Texas," Bush quipped.
Mike Hintz, a First Assembly of God youth pastor, said the tax cuts also gave him additional money to use for health care.
He said he supports Bush's values.
"The American people are starting to see what kind of leader President Bush is. People know where he stands," he said.
"Where we are in this world, with not just the war on terror, but with the war with our culture that's going on, I think we need a man that is going to be in the White House like President Bush, that's going to stand by what he believes.

But then...December 8, 2004...

A Des Moines youth pastor is charged with the sexual exploitation of a child.
KCCI learned that the married father of four recently turned himself in to Johnston police.
Rev. Mike Hintz was fired from the First Assembly of God Church, located at 2725 Merle Hay Road, on Oct. 30. Hintz was the youth pastor there for three years.
Police said he started an affair with a 17-year-old in the church youth group this spring.

Here is another threaded story about the same thing:

Way to pick 'em Georgie. That's my kinda family values.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Bike Walk Virginia

Virginia is considering offering a "Bikes Belong" license plate:

Only catch is that they need 350 orders (or they'll just accept a check for $3,500 I think) by December 27. They currently have 169 orders. The plates only cost $10 over the price of normal plates. For more info and an application [PDF] visit the plate sponsor's homepage.

I've scored one each for the girl and me.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Vehicular Reboot

Sitting in traffic on my way to work this morning, I throw a CD into my car's CD player and nothing happens. The little "CD In" light comes on, so the drive knows there's a disk loaded, but it won't play it. It spins around for about 30 seconds then spits the disk out with an "ERR" on the display screen. I then try two or three other disks with the same result. So I decide to do what any self-respectng tech guy would do...

Reboot my car.

"Luckily" I was going about 0 miles per hour cuz of the traffic, so I turn the key and kill the car entirely. I sit there for about 5 seconds, then fire it back up. The CD player spins up and the disk starts playing as if nothing had ever happened.

All I could think about was the old email joke If Microsoft Built Cars

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Funny things I've seen in the last 24 hours

Graffiti in a bar bathroom: "Tom Daschill eats gypsy babies".

Bumperstickers: "Sucks gas & Hauls ass" next to "Horn broken, watch for finger". (Not funny so much as "Hey redneck, who invited you to the big city today?").

Heavy machinery: I saw a heavy-duty wood chipper. The kind that landscaping companies tow behind their bigass trucks. The model name of this particular chipper seemed to be "The Intimidator". And I thought...who exactly are you intimidating? The trees?

CTRL-V: While browsing a website, my right hand brushed a few keys at once on the right side of my keyboard (most likely Control, shift, left arrow, maybe the wierd Windows Menu key). In the text field (where my cursor was) the word "crapface" appeared. I don't remember typing "crapface" at any my life. And when I did a 'paste' to see what was in my copy/paste buffer, the video card model I had been researching earlier was pasted: "Xtasy 9600".

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sunday, November 28, 2004


I couldn't do it...I couldn't resist that ol' consumer urge. I made the mistake of perusing the "Black Friday" newspaper advertisements late in the day Friday and found a few killer deals that I really wanted to take advantage of.

So what, you may ask, is the price of my soul? I'll tell you:

One 50% off coupon for Michael's Craft stores (seemingly gay, I know...but I needed a mat cutter for photography stuff). Grand savings of $50.

The deals that I saw and missed (and am pissed about) becuase my iron will kept me out of the stores during the *really* good shopping times):

One Doom3 video game $20 (a savings of: $30)
One ATI video card $80 (a savings of: $120!)

The realization that I am, in fact, a sheep isn't nearly as disturbing (or embarassing) as the price at which I am able to justify (to myself) being that sheep.


Friday, November 26, 2004


Today, "Black Friday" as the marketers have dubbed it, I stand before you a man devided. I am torn between my desire to not follow the herd and run out and "spend!, spend!, spend!! buy! buy!" (like the malls and TV commercials and newspaper ads tell me I should) and my desire to score some new stuff cheap.

Sometimes, it's difficult being me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


This is the mentality which makes me fear the next four years.

(As seen on a bigass SUV bumper in VA (no surprise there)).

Nothing says "third-world dictatorship" like shooting a few people you disagree with.

Monday, November 22, 2004


I know it's supposed to be satire, but man, sometimes they just hit things right on the head over at The Onion:

"Nation's Poor Win Election For Nation's Rich"

Sunday, November 21, 2004

8:59pm Sunday

Travel Channel 9:00pm, World Poker Tour: American Chopper vs. Trading Spaces. Most interesting Sunday night TV since the Sopranos and Six Feet Under ended.

11:00pm Sunday

Well, that wasn't nearly as exciting as I had hoped. I wanted something more like "Celebrety Poker Showdown" where the players talk and interact with each other more. In "Poker Tour", the announcers spent the whole time commenting, with very little from the players. Worse yet, the one announcer took every opportunity to call into question the sexual preference of the Trading Spaces host. Constantly remarking about him singing "show tunes in his head" and other "show tunes" related comments. Why didn't he just say "the little fag is going all-in" and be done with it?? Too much of a pussy...guess he had to beat around the bush and imply.

(Note: I have no idea of the sexual preference of the Trading Spaces host guy. But I got annoyed pretty quickly at the Poker Showdown host and his implications (if that's the right word)). Anyway...

Friday, November 19, 2004

One Giant receipt

I went to the grocery store the other day. My local Giant, specifically. I bought 4 items:

-one 12 pack of Caffiene Free Diet Coke
-one bag of Rold Gold pretzil sticks
-two loaves of Home Pride Wheat bread

Upon checking out (in the ultra-cool "Self Checkout" lanes) I was presented with a receipt 25.75 inches in length:

Seriously, is it really necessary to blow that much paper? That's just stupid. If there's one thing I can't stand it's excessive packaging. But right behind that is excessive waste. Guess I gotta write an email to Giant and complain. I told myself that with the reelection of this administration, I'd be more active in my protests. May as well start with my "giant" receipt.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

San Fran musings

I was lucky enough to be in SF at the time of the SF bay area VeloSwap hosted (maybe sponsored) by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. VeloSwap is part bike yard sale, part bike industry showcase, and part bike geek hangout. It was fabulous! Thousands of bits and pieces and parts from brake lever hoods (10 for $1) up to a brand-new Specialized Demo9 downhill bike. Fun for the whole family.

So anyway, off in one corner of the Cow Palace was an area set up with a bunch of stationary trainers, a bunch of bikes, a laptop, and a bigass screen. Evidently a race was scheduled. A race based on the terrain of a particular trail of Mount Tam (arguabley the birthplace of mountain biking). The participants of the race were just settling onto the bikes as I arrived, and the first person I noticed was Gary Fisher...

...of Fisher Bikes fame (and arguably, one of the "inventors" of mountain biking). I'm a bit of a fanboy, since I ride two Fisher bikes: a 2002ish Sugar 2, and an old 2000 Aquila that I converted into my singlespeed, so needless to say, I was pretty stoked. Also, being the photogeek that I have lately become, I had my trusty 20D on me, so I whip it out and start shoting.

As I look around, I see other "racers" who look familiar. Later, after the show, I find a flyer which lists the race participants as:

Joe Breeze (Breezer Bikes)
Gary Fisher (Fisher Bikes)
Mike Sinyard (Specialized)
Scot Nicol (Ibis Cycles)
Jaquie Phelan
James McClean

I must have fired off 200 shots in the 10 minutes I was standing there (luckily, I wasn't alone...there were plenty of other people taking pix too). Most of my shots were aimed at Fisher, but I did manage to get in a few of the other racers as well. I believe the rider in Specialized gear next to Fisher is Mike Sinyard (founder and current president of Specialized).

I only now realize, while Googling to figure out who these people were, how much history was sitting 10' in front of me. If I'd have known then that everyone there was a pioneer in mountain biking, I'd have spent more time panning my camera around.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A small victory

Old news, but I'm happy to see it. Hopefully the devil we know isn't better than the devil we don't know. Now let's just hope Rumsfeld gets the f*ck out too.

Attorney General John Ashcroft Resigns From Bush Administration

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

It's nice to see that the San Francisco Bay Guardian's secret monitoring device inside my head is still transmitting.

In their November 10th-16th issue, they said:

On November 5th (well before my November 9th-16th trip), I said:
Triumphant return

Man, those vacation weeks fly past. I've already browsed through my work email and personal email. Nice to see there wasn't as much piled up as expected.

Some form of a full write-up to come. I'm too beat to recall everything now. I will say that for whatever reason, people decided it was fun to say things to me out-of-the-blue. We were walking through this town in Marin county (very 'old town' esque...might have been called Tiburon). I was carrying my camera mounted to my tripod over my shoulder, with the girl and a friend of hers when this "normal" looking middle-aged guy walks up to me and says "well, it looks like *somebody* isn't going home with 25 pounds of crabmeat today". Err...what??

Days later, while standing on Haight street (downtown San Fran), waiting for the girl to do some shopping, a guy comes up to me and says "yo dude, you know back there [points over his shoulder] a dog tried to break into a house, and a guy came up and shot it with a 12 gauge. you know what i'm sayin'?". Nope. It's safe to say I have no idea what you're sayin'. Dude.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


Fat Tire Amber Ale. Even bought a pair of pint glasses from Mike's Bikes in San Francisco. These west coast people got it pretty good. Gotta see if I can check a 12 pack or two onto the plane for home.

Monday, November 08, 2004

And like that *poof*, he was gone.

Here endeth the blog for a week. The girl and I are off to San Francisco on a 6:30AM flight Tuesday morning. The things we'll do for cheap tickets, huh?

Aside from the 5AM cab ride and 5 hours in the air, I'm expecting a really great time. A town I've never seen...a coast I've never seen (er...West, that is). I've got plenty of tour guides (the girl once lived there and still has a bunch of friends there), a camera with tons of storage space and 7 days to see the sights. Hopefully we'll be able to play in some of the outdoor meccas there. Mt Tam, arguably the birth place of mountain biking, IIRC, is nearby. I may have to try and rent a bike for a bit just to say I've ridden there (if it's even legal to do that anymore). At the very least we're gonna try to get there and do some hiking and possibly camping.

No idea what kind of internet access I'll have, so I'll have to blog the old fashioned way (paper and pencil) then come back and transcribe it all into this computer thingy.

So, think light thoughts about my plane. I have a pretty good grasp of physics, and I understand *why* they stay up. But that doesn't stop them from scaring the shit outta me. Hopefully my local pharmicist will have something to take the edge off. Nothing like vodka and cranberry at 6am. Mmm mmmmm good.

Oh, and in case any of you psycho stalker types were gonna come crash in my house, or steal my underwear or anything creepy while I'm away, keep in mind that the land mines will be armed, and the 6', under-fed pet alligators will be released to roam free in the house while we're away.
While ego-searching on Google for rant-o-riffic I stumbled across this. Perhaps old news to some, but it was new to me:

Also found the blogs of a few friends there too.
Blood and Gore?

I can't be the only one amused by the fact that our former VP, Al Gore is starting a business with some guy named "Blood", can I? I mean, really, Blood and Gore? Seriously? You guys are pulling our leg, aren't you?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Sore winner

Upon leaving my place today, the girl found a note under her car's windshield wiper:

"Bush won. Ha Ha!"

Nice. Dickhead. Had Kerry won, I'd have been an ass too, but I'd have at least come up with something more creative. I only wish I knew who did it. That way, in 2 or 3 years, I could leave a note on their windshield:

"Your son has been drafted for the war! Ha Ha!"

Or maybe:
"Hope you live a long, healthy life...without healthcare. Ha Ha"

Or even:
"Your kid gets to grow up in a Bladerunner-esque treeless wasteland. Ha Ha!"

Guess we'll have to see who gets the last laugh. My money is on me.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Main Entry: iro·ny
Pronunciation: 'I-r&-nE also 'I(-&)r-nE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nies
Etymology: Latin ironia, from Greek eirOnia, from eirOn dissembler


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- A man suspected of trying to illegally hook up electrical service died after police shocked him with a stun gun when he was found hiding at an apartment complex, authorities said.



Here's hoping we survive them.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

It's Jesusland!

Just like a theme park! Only less fun.

(I wish I could give credit for the image, but I received it uncredited in an email)
Don't mind me. I'm still pissed off about Tuesday.

So this quote was emailed to me, and it seemed too on-target to be true. So I took it to one of my favorite sites for fact-checking on the internet, Turns out it's a real quote from Herman Goering, Nazi, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, President of the Reichstag, Prime Minister of Prussia. Here's the email:

During the Nuremberg Trials, Gustave Gilbert, a psychologist was given access to the prisoners and kept a diary he later published as a book, the Nuremberg Diary. This is an excerpt from a conversation with Herman Goering:


"We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.

'Why, of course, the people don't want war,' Goering shrugged. 'Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.'

'There is one difference,' I pointed out. 'In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.'

'Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.'"


And for the "trust but verify" types out there, here's Snopes' page on it:

It's nice to see the old ways still hold true in the 21st century.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


The latest wave of unease started Monday. I felt the end was near. Or, more appropriately, I felt the end was not near. I started to feel that the the Bush/Cheney era in the White House was not on it's last legs. And I was scared.

Then, late in the day Monday, I made up my mind to travel to PA and offer whatever I could to the Kerry election effort. My state (VA) is a loss anyway, always falling to the Republicans. There wasn't really any reason to volunteer here. PA was the closest battleground, and had a lot of electoral votes at stake. I had a connection inside the Kerry camp in the Philadelphia suburbs, so that was my destination.

Tuesday dawns. A timeline.

5:00am - Alarm goes off. That sucked.
5:15am - Out the door (I'd showered the night before as not to be entirely gross to my fellow volunteers).
5:30am - In line at my local polling location. 5th person in line.
6:00am - Doors open. I'm in. I'm the first vote cast at my location (the first 4 people in line were older/slower, so they were easier to shove out of the way when it was time to make my move. Only kiddng. They did take extra time signing in and figuring out the electronic voting machines.
6:04am - Back in my truck, headed north.
6:25am - Hit the DC beltway.
6:44am - Make it to 95N.
7:04am - Pass the big "Balimore" smokestack in Charm City.
7:57am - Ahh, Deleware.
8:18am - PA.
8:36am - Media, PA. I'm here.
9:30am - At this point, it gets pretty busy. [* see detail below]
7:43pm - Done. Head for home.
9:58pm - Home.
2:18am Wednesday - Bed.

*...Basically, I first went to the main Kerry HQ in Media PA. I was handed a map and was pointed in the general direction of the Media, PA Theater, where the volunteers were being coordinated. Maybe a mile from the HQ. I arrived at the staging area, got a quick orientation (with a bunch of other volunteers) got paired up with an older local guy and a couple of young Georgetown Law students also in PA to help, got our assignment packet, grabbed some road food (graciously provided by the Kerry organizers) and hit the road. Basically, we were the foot soldiers. Each team of volunteers was assigned a neighborhood, we were given voter registration records and told to knock on every registered democrat's door and ask if they'd had a chance to go vote yet. If yes, thank them and mark them as "voted" on the lists. If no, ask when they thought they might vote, and ask them if they needed a ride or anything else. Once we had covered our entire neighborhood (checking off all the houses we hit), we return to home base and trade data in for a new packet, then hit the streets again.

I managed to outlast three partners: Granville, Bok and Stephen (what is it with these PA names???), not counting the Georgetown Law kids, and make a total of 4 or 5 neighborhood runs throught the day. The last run was completed in total darkness at 7:00pm, using a flashlight to read our map and find house numbers.

After the final run, we went back to the Theater and found pizza waiting for us. Sweet. Food! That's exactly what I needed for the 2.5 hour trip home. Gobble down some grub and get back in the truck, headed southbound. I wish I could have hung out with the other volunteers in the Theater watching the results come in, but after an extremely long day, all I wanted was to get home and crash out.

For the first 30-45 minutes of the drive home, I listened to whatever NPR station I could pick up and tried to keep up with the incoming results. The initial numbers were sounding good, and that managed to get my hopes up. After I found myself trying to do electoral-vote math in my head while driving (and wandering all over the highway in the process) I decided I would let things settle as I drove home and worry about the returns later. I threw in a CD and set the cruise control.

I finally arrived home around 10 (after breaking all my election-night plans to go out with friends) and immediately switched on the TV. Uh oh. The results were pouring in fast and furious at this point, and a lot of states on their pretty map were colored an annoying shade of red. My heart sank, and continued to stay sunk for a long time.

There was one shining moment of sheer happyness that almost brought me to tears. When CNN predicted that PA, and it's 21 electoral votes would go to Kerry, I felt like I had just hit the lottery. I took it personally. He won the state that I went out and fought for. Man, that was a good feeling. I really feel like I played a hands-on part in trying to remove Bush from office. Of course, it's now clear that we had won the battle, yet lost the war. But I'm inspired. Inspired to fight against this right-wing psuedo-moral christian who's got 4 more years to impose his creepy values on me.


One last thing before I go. I would like to thank the two rednecks in the car next to me at the stop light on Sunday. They pulled up, and passenger-redneck sits up in the window of the car (Dukes of Hazard-stly) and starts yelling to a group of Kerry supporters on a streetcorner: "Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck John Kerry! If we give John Kerry the election, we lose our fucking country. Fuck John Kerry! Fuck you!". I thougth briefly about getting out and clubbing him with my Mag light. Then thought better of it (now I think I should have gone with my first instinct). That was the catalyst. I really wish our efforts could have saved this country from mongoloids like them, but I guess the idiots have to want to be saved.

On the plus side, all the bands I like have 4 more years of great material to work with.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Oh, and...

The Freeway Blogger has a neat idea for Nov. 2.

48 Hours and a spark of hope

So, just 48 hours to go until it's all over (not counting the inevitable lawsuits, of course). I have to say, I'm scared. Seriously. I don't know if we lefties can pull this out. I'm not sure how I'll survive another 4 years under this mongoloid-dic(k)tator. I really mean it. I may have to start researching housing prices in Canada. They can't be any worse than here in DC.

So if all goes as planned, in two days we'll know if the majority of Americans are bright enough to see thru the dic(k)tator's bullshit and fearmongering, or if they are the selfish ("don't tax me, tax the poor people!", gullible ("terror terror terror is comin' to get 'cha!", sheep I suspect. I hope things go well, but I have my suspicions And I doubt I'll sleep much tomorrow night.


While I'm not generally a superstitious person, I just have to say I'm extrememly happy to see that Washington Redskins lost their game against the Green Bay Packers today. Why, you may ask? It seems that the Redskins have had a habit of correctly picking the winner of each presidential election since 1933. Bullshit, you say? Perhaps. But it's something to hope for.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


...and not for the asshole.

I should have posted this months ago. What finally spurred me to action was a blog by a friend, JoeFoley. He posted a link to some cool non-partisan posters. He's a better man than I am. I want you to vote...but only for the right guy. Kerry.

[begin subliminal message section]


Pretty please?

...on November 2.

All images and fancy script thingy taken from the John Kerry official web site.
So that's what it feels like to be 21 again...

What an incredibly cool night! 10/26/04 Bad Religion played a sold-out show at the 930 club here in DC, and I have to say it was one of the best, most energetic shows I've seen in years. Years! I had been waiting to catch them live for a couple of years, ever since "discovering" them (12 years into their career, but who's counting?), and it was worth every minute. This show rivaled some of the early Jane's Addiction shows I saw in the early 90s..before the frat-boys discovered them and f*cked up the program.

The evening started up with me meeting at DT's house and then heading down to Arlington to meet another friend of his, Kris (with a "K"). We met and hung out at Whitlows for a couple of beers and then hit the road, headed for DC, Kris in his car, me and DT in the DTmobile. It didn't occur to us till a little later that neither DT or I really knew exactly where the 930 was. I mean, we had both been there, and had a general idea that it was U or V street, somewhere around 14th (turns out it's actually closer to 7th). Not at all like the good old days when you could find the 930 Club at 930 F Street, NW.

So we took in the sights around the U street corridore for a bit, till I decided to suck it up and call 411. Minutes later we had the address and finally had a destination to shoot for. Minutes after that, we arrived. Factor in a quick restroom break in an alley, and we were off to the door to re-group.

I was supposed to be meeting Ben and a group of his friends at the club, but we arrived fashionably late (as usual), so they had long since gone inside. In we went, and headed straight upstairs to grab a couple more beers from a bartender Kris knew.

It turns out we had missed the opening act, Rise Against, alltogether. I was kinda hoping to catch them, cuz anybody touring with Bad Religion can't be all bad. Guess I'll have to scrounge around for some MP3s and see what they're like. Anyway, Bad Religion takes the stage and we're still up in the balcony. We hang there for a little finishing our drinks when I just have to go get in the shit, as it were. I'm 34 years old. I can't remember the last time I was in a pit. I've been to a ton of shows that just didn't inspire me to get into it. This one did. I had to be down in the pool. So DT says he's all for it, while Kris decides to hang back. DT and I finish our beers and head down. Bad Religion is into their third song by this point.

We hit the first floor and gently (heh) push through the crowd to the pit area and dive right in (well, not 'dive' so much as walk in). We pretty much stay there the rest of the show. A couple of songs into our stay in the pit, Ben finds us and the three of us along with 30 of our closest, shirless, sweaty friends mix things up.

I gotta say, I don't know what I was thinking taking my old-ass into the pit. It was a blast, but man...I'm not in shape for that anymore. There was one moment of relief when some thoughtful person (from the balcony?) tossed a full drink cup that hit me flat on top of my head. It was quite cold and refreshing until the vodka ran into my eyes. Ouch. Thanks, ass. In spite of the vodka-rain, it was a really great pit. Aggressive (and I have the scuffs, bumps, and bruises to prove it) but not many assholes. There were one or two idiots in there just throwing punches, but most people were just flailing around having a good time. When people fall to the floor, almost instantly they would be helped back to their feet.

So we managed to survive about an hour and a half (wild estimate) in the pit before the show ended. We said our goodbys to Ben and his group and DT and I headed back to his place (where I was parked). Throw in a short detour for some Wendy's burgers ( 1:30 in the morning) and that about sums up the day.

I may need to start hitting more shows...and more pits. It brings back memories of days gone by. Us old f*ckers like that kinda stuff ;)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Well, that didn't go well...

On Saturday, the girl and I spent the entire day at Skyline Drive, in Shenandoan National Park, trying to take pix of the fall foliage. Well, I was trying to take foliage pix. She was trying to humor me. After a long-ass week, I drug the poor girl out of bed at 7:30 in the morning. Checked the weather and Bob Ryan says "yeah, it's foggy, especially out in the Shenandoah, but that should burn off in a couple of hours". Cool, it should take us a couple of hours to get out there.

What a grey, wet, cold day. Thanks Bob. I tried taking pix. We took a short hike. I looked for interesting subjectmatter. But nuthin. I was totally uninspired. It didn't help that every shot I tried to take had the bright-ass cloudy sky in it, which threw off the exposure. The only highlight to the day in the park is that I think I've figured out an exposure trick which I've read about but never totally understood. Oh, and I finally bought a $20 annual pass (after going to the park prolly 4 times in the last year and spending $10 each time. Who says I'm no good at math?).

The day wasn't a totaly bust tho. As we drove back to DC, the skies cleared and evidently people around here experienced a nice day (thanks Bob). We decided (well...I decided, the girl was simply drug along for the ride) to check out an old stone house that sits next to the highway. It's been there forever, and I've always loved the way it looked. I thought it might be a historic site or something, but I'd never taken the time to check it out. We got off the highway and proceeded to wander around a bunch of two lane (sometimes only one lane) country roads, eventually wandering our way to the building.

Turns out we'd found the Beverly Mill, an 18th century mill which was reciently (1990s?) destroyed by fire. Unfortunately, due to it's unstable condition, the mill house itself (the structure I'd seen from the highway for years) is closed and fenced off (to protect it from vandals). The mill sits on a bunch of acres of land and evidently has a number of hiking trails. We arrived there just about 5:30pm and it was already getting dark, so we didn't explore any of the trail network, but it might be something cool to look into in the future. I was able to get a couple of "fading light" shots of the old mill and a couple of other foundation remains. I have to see if any are worth displaying.

Oh, also...I've had an inspiration for some new photography stuff. Have to get some materials together before I can try it, but it should be pretty cool. Stay tuned!

Oh and...the Bad Religion show is tomorrow night. I can't wait. I'm a late comer to the Bad Religion camp (just found them a copule of years ago and fell in love) and haven't had the chance to see them live yet. It should be a good time...we have a cool group of people going.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I love that man

By now I'm sure you've heard about the Jon Stewart appearance on "Crossfire". If not, this is the best quality link I've found (sorry for the commercial before it plays):

Jon also did a followup on The Daily Show the day after the appearance. It's short, but well worth watching:

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"A bad day at the track... better than a good day at the office", or so I've been told.

Saturday went to the Ferrari/Maserati of Washington track event in Summit Point, WV and took a ton of shots. Not a lot of time to tell it in story form, so I'll summarize: It was cool. I wish I could have attended both days, and I'd definitely do it again. It was tough shooting (periods of rain/no rain/total cloud cover/blinding sun/100+mph subjects...repeat). Lotsa cool, cool cars. Lotsa opportunity to feel like a pro shooter (although the results clearly showed I'm not). I spent about 8-9 hours at the track total.

I'm still working on post-processing the shots. I took more than 1,300 over the course of the day...roughly 3.88GB of images. Of those I could trash about 400 immediately (totally out of focus, totally missed the subject car as it zoomed out of the frame, etc). Some of the keepers I present for you here (the originals are larger and of much better quality. These have been resized and recompressed (.jpg) after sharpening in the Gimp, so they look pretty soft):


MMMM...Lamborghini. Mean.

mmm...Ferrari Challenge car.

Mmmm...'nother Ferrari Challenge car.

Porche 911 (I'm fairly sure).

Who the hell let *that* thing in here...and when do the clowns come piling out? This is actually a French car (I forget the manufacturer) which is powered by a Vespa engine. I don't know if the engine is from a scooter, or is just built by the company, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was an engine from a scooter. My shoe size is 13. I'd say this car is about a size 16. Shaq could wear a pair of them as rollerskates.

As a bonus to the car weekend, on the way to the track, I happened to pass a hot air balloon fest. I just had to chase it down and get pix of the participants. Only one post-processed so far:

Maybe not a "once in a lifetime" weekend, but definitely something different.

Friday, October 15, 2004


Tomorrow, I get to go play "official" photographer for the Ferrari-Maserati of Washington track event at Summit Point Raceway in WV. I think the "official" designation was just so that I could get in to the track and not have to pay the driver's fee (I kinda work for the company) and hopefully score some free lunch and maybe a ride-along.

From what I can gather, a track event is like a race, without the racing. There are roughly 120 various cars expected to attend (from Ferraris and Maseratis, all the way to VWs and other daily drivers). They will tear-ass around the track at rediculous speeds, but technically won't be going against each other. I expect to spend a good deal of my day standing on some interesting corner of the track, happily clicking away. I hope I can get some good shots. I'm still not terribly confidant with the new equipment.

So hopefully in the next week, I'll have something worth showing off here. Tune in then!

A new day has dawned

I've gotten my first anonymous hate-mail!

Ok, well, it's really more of a "hate-comment". And "hate" may be a bit strong of a word. But it's too hard to brag about my first "dissenting-opinion-comment". It was in reaction to my "that's how to spend a day off" post (so if you want to see it plus a couple of replies, look there). I don't want it to be lost to the comment section forever, so here it is:

"Your comment about the Government "Labor camp" your girlfriend works in us [sic] completely ignorant. Would you call the fire department a labor camp? Or a hospital? There are thousands of Government jobs that require manning 24/7. You'd prefer all services stop on every federal holiday?
And for what it's worth, I too am a government employee. I had Columbus Day off, as did a vast majority of government workers.

So don't be a sarcastic jackass.
Anon | 10.15.04 - 9:50 am | #"

So, in honor of my first anonymous coward post, I'm subtitling rant-o-riffic "the sarcastic jackass blog" for a while.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Now *that's* how you spend a day off.

Had the day off Monday cuz some Italian guy "discovered" a country full of people. Whatever, it was a day off, I'm not gonna argue over it.

I decided early on I wanted to make good use of the day, so after a sleepover at the girl's house Sunday night, followed by sleeping late Monday morning, I set out. (Unfortunately, the girl was forced to work at her labor-camp, becuase evidently the US Government doesn't care who "discovered" our country).

First stop was Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria VA. I read something about the park in a hiking book I have, and after a bit of research online, I decided it sounded like it had good photography potential. Besides, boardwalks over marshland is prolly one of my favorite things. Don't ask me why. I don't know. I just think it's extra cool.

I managed to spend about 5 hours in the park, taking pix of critters, hiking, talking to a cool retired guy who goes photographing pretty much every day. He gave me some tips, told me about the local bird life at the park (evidently earlier in the day I missed seeing an eagle which lives in the area) and generally shared knowledge which I totally appreciated.

So far, I only post-processed one pic well enough to post at eighteenpercent. A cool little beastie I found on the boardwalk:

Make sure you hit to see the full sized version. It's much better (detail, colors, etc). I also managed to get a ton of heron and egret shots. I have to tweak them before they're ready for prime time. I think I managed to get a few keepers.

Anyway, after the park, I headed home to dump my CF card (cuz the camera was full), and I decided to do an oil change on my truck. Only overdue by...err...too many thousands of miles. Sorry truck.

Finished with the truck and sat down for about 5 minutes when DT calls and asks if I wanna take a quick ride at Wakefield. Sure, says I. Quick change into bike gear and out the door to the park I go.

Got to the park and DT and I set out. We did maybe 45 minutes of the old favorite trails, then decided to go wandering around all these offshoot trails we've never explored. It's amazing, you ride in a park for 3+ years and there are still trials you haven't ridden, cuz they're not on your "normal" loops. So anyway, we spent prolly an hour exploring and bushwacking. Found some interesting stuff, but nothing really groundbreaking. I imagine we'll stick to our normal loops and trails after all.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Yes, dumdum, you do own a stake in a timber company, you smug piece of sh!t. And you got $84 in income from it in 1991. And that makes you a "small business owner". And that makes John Kerry's statment true. You ass.

From (not, for those of you who are Vice Presidents of this country). (Google mirror here due to heavy post-debate traffic):

"President Bush himself would have qualified as a "small business owner" under the Republican definition, based on his 2001 federal income tax returns. He reported $84 of business income from his part ownership of a timber-growing enterprise. However, 99.99% of Bush's total income came from other sources that year. (Bush also qualified as a "small business owner" in 2000 based on $314 of "business income," but not in 2002 and 2003 when he reported his timber income as "royalties" on a different tax schedule.)"

So I don't know if he's got so much $$$ and so many different interests that he honestly didn't know he owned part of a timber company (tough life, ain't it?). Or if he was just flat out lying.

Betcha you can guess what I think.


So CNN this morning (day afer the debate) reported that it's not quite that cut and dried. Evidently Bush owns (in whole or in part) a holdings company. This holdings company owns (among other things) a small stake in a timber company. Evidently, Bush's $84 was income from the holdings company, before they had acquired the timber company.

So, while I have no doubt he's considered a small business owner, and takes every tax cut which that allows, he may not technically have owned a timber company.

But I still don't like him.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Every now and then, I get the chance to test drive some incredible vehicles that normal humans will probably never be able to afford.

Well, the other day, I got another chance. Tho not quite as fast as the others I've driven, it was still pretty damn cool.

This time, it was an original Hummer. H1. Not those pansy-ass H2 Tahoes, this was the real deal. Big, noisy, mean. Turbo diesel engine, bigass winch, cab-adjustable tire pressure, as wide as a schoolbus. I gotta admit, it was really cool.

Surprisingly, it didn't drive too badly. It was big, but it didn't feel as silly-big as it is. The cockpit fit pretty well (and I'm 6'6"). I had to wedge myself in, cuz the door was smaller than normal doors, but once insde it was fine.

Unfortunately, we didn't have the chance to drive through 5' deep water, or up any 20 degree inclines. We only had a rough gravel road to play on for a minutes. But that was prolly for the best.

Sure, as a left-leaning psuedo-environmentalist I should prolly feel bad about driving these beasts of excess, but fuck it. It's not like I actually bought one.

Also, almost totally unrelated to anything else, while researching auto picutres for this post, I happened across this pretty funny website:

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Nature Photography 001

Just like Nature Photography 101, only more basic-er.

This past weekend was a learning experience in kayak-based photography.

Herons are nervous creatures which, surprisingly, share at least one trait with Imperial Star Destroyers (from Star Wars). They dump thier garbage (aka: they take a shit) before jumping to hyperspace (aka: flying off). I base this on the observation of three individual Herons, seen in two different locations and two different times. Two of the three did the dump/launch as I fumbled for my camera (not realizing a dump was forthcoming). Thankfully, I was too slow with the camera to catch any of the "action" as it happened.

On this particular expedition, I actually missed what was probably the best framed subject I'll ever encounter. As I was in my kayak, looking towards shore, I saw a Great Blue Heron, standing on a log, between two trees. Perfectly framed. But since I'm a bit nervous about having my rather expensive camera unprotected around my neck in an unstable boat, by the time I retrieved said camera from my dry-bag, the bird had dumped and launched. So, the best I can offer you, gentile reader, is my best 'MS Paint' representation of the shot you, and I, missed out on:

I'm telling ya was a beautiful sight.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A glimmer of hope

Posted a new picture up to today.

Took a bit of tinkering in Gimp and a new noise reduction program that I found to get it looking nice. It was exposed kinda dark, but I knew that when I snapped it. The sky was really bright, and the subject darker, so it was a tough exposure. I finally feel like I'm getting a handle on this new camera. It's a lot more sensitive, and a lot less forgiving than my old camera (which, btw, is going off to it's new home, courtesy of Ebay).

The shot was taken during a photography day Sunday. In the morning I went to the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge in MD and tried to take some nature shots. I didn't find much happening, but I get one shot I'm hopeful about. Stay tuned and see if it makes the grade to get posted online :)

On the way home from there, I was passing the Pentagon and Iwo Jima memorial as the sun was setting. I decided to stop and see if I could get anything. Ideally, I'd have been there an hour earlier, so I wouldn't have felt so rushed. But as it was, I managed to get a couple of nice shots of DC, Iwo Jima, and National Cemetary. I also found a couple of really cool potential shots, but was unable to capture them cuz of the lighting. Gotta put a split neutral-density filter on my xmas list this year.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Holy crap!

I think I just found my new favorite site:

I've wanted to document these kinds of unofficial highway signs for a while now. Not just the political ones, the "norma jean i luve yew" ones too.

I think this one goes into the "Links" column on your right.
Talk, monkey-boy, talk!

Well, I watched the Presidential debate last night. It went pretty much as I expected,

although I have to say Bush didn't stumble nearly as often as I was expecting (or as I would have liked), although he didn't really manage to say anything. I spent a good amount of time this morning at work discussing how Bush managed to get through the whole thing only using 4 sentences, when my boss had a cool idea: perform a unique word count on each participant's comments and see who had more to say.

This sounded cool. I did a quick Google and didn't see anything else like this (at least not yet), so I decided to do one myself.

First I had to find a transcript of the debate (I would have linked to it, but I don't want to get busted for copyright infringement or terrorism, or anti-patroit-activism. Google is your friend), paste it into an OpenOffice document, remove all comments/questions by the moderator, then go through and cut all of Kerry's comments and past into a new text document, and do the same for Bush (into a second text document). The plan then called for me to use Openoffice (or MS Word) to perform the unique word count.

Turns out neither MS Word or OpenOffice have a "unique word count" feature. So after some digging, I found a little DOS command line program called "Textinfo" that did what I needed. Grabged a copy and ran both of my documents through it.

The results were anticlimactic:

Unique words used by John Kerry: 1,261
Unique words used by George Bush: 1,178

Not nearly the blowout I had expected. The TextInfo program isn't perfect, as it seems to count "t" as a separat word, when used in words like "didn't". So while it's not a perfect representation, it's evenly flawed. I may go through and remove all the common stuff (a, the, and, i, to...) and the incorrect stuff (t, s...) and see what that leaves us.

For the full breakdown on all words used, click on the speaker below.

GW Bush
John Kerry

Special thanks to Ben of the paved earth radio network and for hosting the files.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Best Thing About...

2600 Magazine - It's size. It's just small enough to fit in your back pocket, so when you're taking it to the bathroom for some light reading, you're not shouting to everyone "HEY! I'M ON MY WAY TO TAKE A POOP, AND I'M TAKING THIS HERE COPY OF THE WASHINGTON POST WITH ME". Cuz sometimes you just don't want to do that.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Sung to the tune of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer":

"Out on the road today I saw a "Kerry/Edwards" sticker Cadillac." Escallade, no less. The newest addition to my "things I never thought I'd see" list.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


A day late, a dollar short.

Two days ago I decided to buy a 10 pack of those Lance Armstrong Foundation yellow cancer bracelets that everybody in the world is wearing. I was resisting the temptation to get them earlier, simply because everybody has them. But, after further consideration, I decided that it was an easy, cool way to drop a couple of bucks into the cancer research fund, and get a nifty conversation piece at the same time. I have both family and friends who've been affected by cancer (breast cancer, cervical cancer, testicular cancer, throat cancer). Thankfully, as far as any of us know, my family is cancer free at the moment, but when you look at the history, it's prolly safe to say that my day is coming.

The thing that spurred me to action was the toddler-nephew of a longtime friend. The friend (we'll call him 'Nick" to protect his privacy) and I have known each other, I believe, since Cub Scouts. He's one of those friends who you've known so long, you don't really remember how you met. Nick's brother and sister-in-law had a son a couple of years ago. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. Nick would send out regular email updates (almost like blog entried from his brother) as to Ethan's condition (some days were better than others) and treatments (stem cell harvests and things no toddler should have to endure) and general goings-on (Make-A-Wish Foundation family trip to Disneyworld).

I've been getting these email updates for a while...a year, maybe more. Recently, they had been sounding less optimistic. So I thought to myself "Ok, I'll get some of those Lance Armstron bracelets in the nephew's (Ethan's) name and give them out to friends and it will help me keep him in mind and remind me to send good vibes his way. Done. Order placed, they should arrive in the next couple of weeks.

Around 6pm the same day I placed my order, I got this update:

September 21, 2004 at 07:44 AM CDT

It's Over.

Ethan died this morning in his sleep, a little after 7am central.

No more pain.


Damn. Now I'll be wearing the bracelet in his memory.

Farewell, young Ethan. I'm glad your pain is gone. You and your family are in my thoughts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

A couple more shots of the tornado. These were taken by a buddy of mine Frank Clarke, one of the guys from the shop who was out in the rain with me.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Just when you thought it couldn't get any dumber, along comes Hummer, the smell!

I wonder what it smells like? Exhaust? Doubt it. A terribly overpriced, inefficient gasoline engine. Methinks not. Maybe it smells like oil rigs pumping the life out of the Alaskan wildernes? One can only hope. Maybe it's time for an update to FUH2? Maybe "FYH2smell2" (F*ck your H2 smell too!)? The new rules of the game can be thus:

--Go to the mall, find a sample of H2 cologne.
--Sniff. Commit smell to memory.
--Go about your life as usual.
--When you pass someone on the street wearing the offending smell, punch them in the nuts without provocation.
--Continue on with your life as usual.
--You win! Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Call me paranoid (no, can...I know you do when I'm not around anyway), but I firmly believe addresses for rebates on (and returns of defective) computer equipment are explicitly designed to be as complicated as possible. That way, we consumers have more chance to mess up the address, and comapnies have more chance of getting out of giving you your money (or your new, unbroken product). Case in point: I had a piece-of-shit-I-swear-I-will-never-buy-another-f*cking-Maxtor-hard-
-drive-as-long-as-I-live hard drive which died on me in less than a year. I contacted Maxtor and set up a return (easy enough...but it should be, they must have a hell of a lot of practice at this by now!). Upon receiving the new, less broken product, I was instructed to mail my busted drive to (and I quote):

ATTN: RMA# 99999999999
STE 100
DOCK 6-7

I swear to go I've mailed thigns to Japan with less complicated addresses. I have no idea where I'm gonna squeeze all that crap on a FedEx label.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Pictures to prove it

So here are the two most interesting/clear shots of my stormchasing yesterday. Post-processed a bit in Gimp and Neat Image (for noise reduction). Shot with the new 20D at ISO1600 (so I didn't need the flash) The first pic was shot through the showroom windows, the second from standing out in the rain behind the shop.

The scale is hard to judge cuz it's about a half mile away. But this thing was *huge*. It's closer in the second pic, so the size appears more correct.

Full Sized image is here.

Full sized version of this is here.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Holy f*ck! What an afternoon!

Left work at 4 and went to kill time at the Ferrari dealership at which I kinda work. I wasn't picking my kid up till 7, so I figured I'd go take some pix of the fancy cars with my fancy new camera (did I tell you I actually got it?).

All the cars were crammed inside the shop area cuz of the coming storm (remnants of Ivan), so I took a bunch of pix but was pretty unhappy with all of them.

About time to leave, and one of the Ferrari employees and I plan to run over to the Burger King for a soda. Standing in the lobby of Ferrari, somebody says "Hey, there was a tornado sighted at Dulles Airport" (maybe 4 miles away). I look out the 30' tall wall of windows and say "yeah,'s right there!".

Bearing down on us, maybe a mile away is the first and only funnel cloud I've seen in real life. It was pretty f*cking amazing.

Needless to say, I started snapping pictures (a feat that would have been near impossible with my old camera). Snap snap snap, watch it get closer, snap snap snap, still closer, snap snap snap, catch a frame with weird blue and red flashes from the transformer that just exploded, snap snap snap, " there a door on this side of the building?". Watched the tornado approach to about 1/2 a mile away (now standing out in the rain with my 24 hour old camera). The tornado starts to wander off to the right and keeps about a 1/2 mile away, but clearly visible the whole time. As it starts rounding the corner of the building, two of us with cameras run down the length of the building, stopping to snap occasionally. We didn't know at the time, but another guy ran up to the roof and was snapping shots of the funnel from there.

From there, the funnel wanders off to a mile or two away (flying debris clearly visible) and dissapates (as far as we can tell). So afterwards we all stand around the shop, with our adreniline highs, showing each other our pix. Hopefully we got some keepers. Prolly won't really know till we all check them on our computers.

So, after that, I pick up my kid, go grocery shopping and get home (hours later) to find the 20d that I ordered from Ritz Camera had been delivered to my door. Apparently left on the doorstep for my roommate to bring in. Thanks Ritz. Nothing like leaving f*cking $1500 worth of stuff sitting on my porch...*in a hurricane*!!! The best part is that it was supposed to be delivered to my office. I think I'm swearing off Ritz. They really are pretty crappy. Unfortunately, I have to deal with them at least once more to return this camera (since I ended up buying one yesterday from a really cool little shop...becuase Ritz was still telling me I wouldn't get my camera from them until the end of the month). F*'em.

Anyway, crazy insane afternoon. Hope to have some pix to post somewhere soon. Gotta install software and tinker with computers before that will happen tho. Wish me luck.