Friday, December 30, 2005

Begin 1984, phase I

When did this turn into a police state? It's not even a *real* state!

Cameras Set Up Around D.C. for New Year's Eve

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Things that say "Buy Me!"

I think I found a new favorite website...

Stupid.com

I haven't poked around the rest of the site yet, but when I was Googling for Sushi Adhesive Bandages (a stocking stuffer I received for xmas, which is well worth sharing), stupid.com came up. In the "Stuff you might also enjoy" section of the page, there were such delights as Bacon Strips Adhesive Bandages and Meat Air Fresheners. I'm getting my order together right now. If anyone else wants in, we can see if we can get a bulk discount.

Edit to add: Sadly, it appears that the Meat Air Fresheners are sold out. I'll keep an eye on the site and post if/when they come back.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Surreal

sur·re·al (adj).

1. Having qualities attributed to or associated with surrealism:
2. Having an oddly dreamlike quality.
3. Walking into your favorite local sushi restaraunt and hearing Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" on the house audio system.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

GPS + camera = AWESOME!

I just stumbled across the Ricoh Caplio Pro G3 (note, that is four separate links, for those of you with too much free time).


(Photo linked from LetsGoDigital.org. I'm not sure of the etiquette on linking images, so I hope they don't mind)



Basically, it is a new camera (apparently unveiled at the 2005 PMA trade show) that embeds GPS data into photos via it's onboard GPS unit, or an external GPS device, much the way other cameras imbed time/date info onto photos. It doesn't appear to be on the market yet, but hopefully will end up there. I think by the time things are shown at PMA, they're destined to be real products and not vaporware. In my humble opinion, the one thing that could make this camera even cooler would be to make it waterproof. That would make it a "must have" gadget in my book.

This is either so new, none of the usual nerd/gadget/camera sites have it yet, so old that they have already had it and archived it (and I missed it entirely), or so uninteresting nobody cared enough to point it out. I'm hoping for door #1, but I'd settle for door #2.

I found the link via Rob's blog and, oddly enough, Earthmover and Civil Contractor Magazine, ("Australia's leading civil construction magazine", it's said).

Is this interesting to anyone in the world besides me? Perhaps. Being both a Camera Nerd, and a GPS Nerd of the First Order[tm], I'm pretty impressed. And since this is my blog, you suckers...er...gentle readers will just have to suffer through it. Muhahahaha!



(Edit to change "gentile" to "gentle" as not to offend my throngs of non-Jewish readers. Thanks for the correction, Ben! Thanks for nothing, spell check!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Religion and skydiving

Here's what I don't get about religious people (and I'm not knocking them...I'm just saying). You have a story like this:

Skydiver survives fall, gets baby surprise

"SILOAM SPRINGS, Arkansas (AP) -- Shayna Richardson was making her first solo skydiving jump when she had trouble with her parachutes and, while falling at about 50 mph, hit face first in a parking lot."


And your take on it is:

"...not only did God save me but he spared this baby," she said.

Why not "Not only did God throw me face first into a parking lot at 50mph, but he did it while I'm pregnant."?

Maybe that's the definition of "faith".

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tai Shan

Took my shot at the the baby panda cub (Tai Shan) at the National Zoo in DC today. Talk about your tough shooting situations! Low light, strange colored light, tons of people, tight viewing location, a wall of glass between him and us, and an uncooperative subject :-)

Of our allotted 10 minutes viewing time, he spent the first two with his back towards us, his face plastered to the rock, drinking the water that ran over it:



After that, he turned around and meandered a bit, before stopping to chomp for another minute on a bit of what looked like burlap in his den area:



Then he struck a pose:



And then retreated to his private chamber, away from adoring fans.

We only had about 5 minutes of time with him. Not a total success, but not a total failure either. I felt bad for the group who came in after us, as the little beastie looked like he wasn't coming out any time soon.

I was shooting at ISO800, but I really should have been at 1600 or 3200. Noise you can fix; blur from slow shutter speed you cannot. My most disappointing shot from the day had to be this one:



I love the way the curve of his face matches the curve of the rock. I just wish it would have been in focus!! I fired off a number of shots (including this one) just holding the camera above my head, to get over the crowd. When we arrived there, I was up front (while he had his back to us), but I didn't want to monopolize my time there (I am 6'6", so when I block views...I *really* block views), so I rotated out and took a spot on the side of the viewing area.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with the shots I got. I can see getting up *early* and trying to get last-minute tickets for another try at it...perhaps this weekend.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Link

Just realized that a friend of mine (and fellow mountain biker and beer drinker we'll call "Spearman" as a tricky psudonym), has had a blog for a while but I've neglected to put a link in my little listy thing over there

--------------------->

So, I've just done so. This "Spearman" character has quite a way with words. Check him out.

Honestly, since adopting RSS as the best thing since sliced bread...it's been a while since I've even hit my own blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Harbinger?

Is this a sign of things to come? I have hit just about every non-photo store in my neighborhood looking for simple ISO100 speed, color print film (as opposed to slide film). Should be a snap to find, right? That's what I thought too...but evidently we're both wrong. Everybody stocks ISO 200, 400, and 800. Nobody has 100.

Old-ass Safeway: No.
New-skool Mega-Safeway: Nope.
CVS #1: None.
CVS #2: Not here either.
Giant Foods: Shit, they got rid of their entire film dropoff kiosk!

The reason for my quest? A couple of weeks back I made a total spur of the moment purchase on Ebay. I happened across a bidless auction with 52 seconds left. The auction was for an inexpensive 3D camera. No bids? $12 selling price? No brainer.

So here I sit with my new gadget, countless hours of fun on-hold due to a lack of film.

With this camera, you can use it as it was meant to be used (see "What is lenticular"), but there is only a single place in the country that can develop the film (and at a premium, no less). Or, you can cover the inner two lenses, and use the photos taken by the outermost lenses. This will allow you to create a stereo image, similar to those popular at the turn of the century. Also, you can create twitchy animated .GIFs that cycle through both images, tricking your brain into seeing them in 3D. Skilled viewers can actually train their eyes to "free view" the image pairs, negating the need for the viewer itself. This technique is the same used to see those "Magic Eye" images, popular a few years back (some find them tacky...I happen to still dig).

So, I've either got to put in another order with Amazon, or hit one of my local camera shops to finish-off the camera and start learning the world of ultra-budget 3D photography. Imagine the shots I should be able to take some pretty crazy mountain bike race shots once I perfect this!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fuck you, Singapore

You can kiss my lilly white ass if you think you are *ever* getting one dime of my God Loving American Tourist Dollars™. Fucking backwater, barbarian country.

Singapore Hangs Australian Drug Smuggler. Hanging some 25 year old dumbass for smuggling. And I thought Texas was fucking barbaric.

I hate you, too.

(The irony here is that I am not any of the following: a drug smuggler, a drug user, a death penalty opponent, one of those "every life is sacred" dorks). I am, however, currently drinking.

*sigh*

$2,677.93

Good thing it's only money!



Monday, November 28, 2005

Dear Nissan,

I hate you.

Love, Gary.

---

For those following the saga of the dead-in-the-driveway-for-6-months truck:

My 2000 Frontier has just over 91k miles and the trans died. Cost of replacement...

$1400.00 parts (i found a $100 off coupon...yay me!)
$ 25.00 fluids
$ 722.50 labor
-------------
$2147.50

It also will most likely need a new clutch (probably another $300-400). That's an easy job while the trans is already out. To get it done later is about a $1200 job (since they have to take the trans out again).

The truck should be done by the end of the week.

Dear santa...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Worst of both worlds

I stand before you the worst of both worlds: the Consumer, and the Anti-Consumer.

Today, being that all-too-consumeristic-for-my-taste "Black Friday Run Up The Credit Card Bills Buying Useless Crap For Your Loved Ones Else They Won't Love You" day, I fully wanted to take part in Buy Nothing Day. It's basically a big "Fuck You" to the ridiculous BUYBUYBUY attitude that the Xmas season is. I heard about it via the Adbusters mailing list, which I joined when I bought my "Corporate America Flag" a few months back.

Well, as much as I wanted to support that ideal, I'm a weak, cheap bastard. There were just a couple of *really* good deals on gadgets that, while I may not have *needed*...I certainly wanted really bad. Specifically, a 200GB hard drive for $30 (instead of $110), and Radio Shack 1000 Channel Dual Trunking Scanner for half price (by the way, I'm not 100% sure what the hell all that means, but it certainly sounds cool, no?). While my life would continue without them, they were calling to me.

So in my usual half-assed sorta way, I woke up around 9am (well after prime bargain-hunting hours) and decided that I'd go to my local Staples and see if they had the HD in stock. If they did, that was fate telling me I was supposed to buy it. If not; fate again telling me it was frivoulous. While I was out, I'd hit the Radio Shack and see what fate had to say about that scanner.

Got to the Staples and found a bigass empty shelf with a "SALE - $30" tag on it. I asked the friendly customer service dood if they were sold out (knowing full well they were). He confirmed. He then went on to say they had people lined up at 0430am for the bargains, and the store had to issue vouchers so my fellow man wouldn't kill *his* fellow man in the melee for cheap stuff. I listened to fate and hit the road, destination: my local bagel shop.

Luckily, my "local bagel shop" is two doors down from my "local Radio Shack". Unluckily, my local Radio Shack had sold out of the scanner long before I got there. Regardless of what fate had to say, however, the words of the friendly RS nerd were clear: "You can order it for that price on-line...oh, and it's free shipping". Fuck you, fate, I win this round. I drove home and bought one.

I'm so weak.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In my ongoing series...

Here's the latest in my "People who should get a free name change" series. In a story broadcast on NPR this morning about the state of Georgia (I think) not charging sales tax on Bible sales, but charging tax on every other religious or spiritual book sold, they interviewed one Ms. Candice Apple.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh my

Another keeper from bash.org


[Yaksha] We call this kids' mom 'Mapquest'
[norris] why's that?
[Yaksha] She has multicolored veins visible all over her body, looks like downtown Phoenix.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This just in...

From the "Shameless Self-promotion Department". Word on the street is that the image of Lee Dier that I shot at the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm mountain bike race a few months back (and submitted to Dirt Rag Magazine) has been published in the Rider's Eye section (basically, the "reader's artwork" section). So it's not published-published, but it's closer than I've ever been to being published. Which is to say...it's pretty frickin' cool.

Here is the snap straight from the camera. The one I submitted had a fair amount of post-processing done (mainly brightening, cropping, and noise reduction).

For those interested, it's in issue 118. I looked yesterday, but my local bike shop still had issue 117 on the shelf.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

ANWR Update

Evidently, the House of representatives heard about the anally -cancerous-sharp-object-insertion curse being aimed at their Senate counterparts by yours truly and thought better about their choices regarding the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge:

The LA Times says: "In a rare victory for environmentalists in the House of Representatives, Republican leaders Wednesday night abandoned a measure to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling."

Now, let's talk about this privatization of public lands for private mining...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Oh, the hypocrisy

Got this in an email today and had to laugh...kinda.

George Bush has started an ill-timed and disastrous war under false
pretenses by lying to the American people and to the Congress; he has run a
budget surplus into a severe deficit; he has consistently and
unconscionably favored the wealthy and corporations over the rights and
needs of the population; he has destroyed trust and confidence in, and good
will toward, the United States around the globe; he has ignored global
warming, to the world's detriment; he has wantonly broken our treaty
obligations; he has condoned torture of prisoners; he has attempted to
create a theocracy in the United States; he has appointed incompetent
cronies to positions of vital national importance. He is supported by an
extremist Congress, both houses of which are run by criminals in their own
right.

Would someone please give him a blow job so we can impeach him?


Interestings

I wasn't the only one to experience weirdness when trying to cast my e-ballot.

Schwarzenegger Hits Snag at Polling Place

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Looks like I wasn't the only one who wanted to tell the local Repubs to go fuck themselves.

The AP calls Democrat Kaine winner in the race for VA Governor.

Rock this vote, beyotch

Electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail scare the shit out of me.

I hit up my polling place at 0700 this morning to do my civic duty to tell the local Repubs to fuck off (essentially). I checked in, then wandered into my little touch-screen voting station. I say to the middle aged woman working the election "Do I get to vote against using untracable electronic voting machines in this election?". Strangely enough, she did not laugh.

So I'm screen-poking along, totally party-line voting:

Governor: Dem
Lt Governor: Dem
Attorney General: Dem
Member, House of Delegates: Dem
Sure, spend money on schools, what do I care. It's only a couple of hundred million.

Easy cheese, right? A monkey could cast a vote (I still don't know what the problem with all those Florida mongoloids was a few years back, but I digress). Anyway, poke, poke, poke, poke, Next.



On the following "review your choices" screen, I see that I have (evidently) managed to select a Repub for the House of Delegates job. Hrm. Not a chance. Ok, there's maybe .01% chance that I fat-fingered it and managed to hit the Repub's little box on the ballot screen. But I seriously doubt it. And if .1% of my finger accidentally wandered over to the Repub's box, that leaves 99.9% of my finger hitting the Dem's box. How the hell did that machine think I voted Repub?

It was easy enough to hit the "Back" button, then slowly hit the Dem box for House of Whatchamacallets, then hit "Next" again. But had I not been paying attention, I totally believe that my vote would have been incorrect.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Google Sightseeing

Pretty cool. Taking the 4-8-15-16-23-42 sequence from the TV show Lost and seeing what it gets you geographically...

http://googlesightseeing.com/2005/11/05/4-8-15-16-23-42/


(also has a couple of interesting links)

Now that I've finally caught up on the past episodes/season, I'm not as concerned about avoiding all references to the show. I still don't want to read any speculation or yammerings by net dorks. Thankfully, this site doesn't seem to have anything like that.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Fuck You, Senate

Senate endorses oil drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge

I hope 51 of you (and you know who you are) get rectal cancer, and have to have large, cold, uncomfortable things with sharp edges shoved up your asses. I hate you.

"Increasing our domestic energy supply will help lower gasoline prices and utility bills", says He-of-the-38%-Approval-Ratings George Bush.

Mark my fucking words, the odds of seeing $3/gallon gasoline prices are a hell of a lot better than the odds of seeing $2/gallon prices. Especially in urban areas like my home town (DC). You want to "lower gasoline prices and utility bills"? How about reigning in those huge fucking oil company profits?

"Conoco Phillips profits were up 89 percent, or $3.8 billion; Exxon's profits were up 75 percent, or almost $10 billion; and BP was up 34 percent, for a profit of $6.4 billion".

The only way supporters of this measure could get it past the opponent's filibuster was to tack it on to another budget measure that is immune to filibuster. You fucks.

Here's a silly idea...Why not spend the next 20 years (while you're waiting for ANWR to get up to speed*) trying to break America's reliance on oil? 20 fucking years. I bet if we taxed the shit out of the oil profits, and used that money to study alternative fuels...in 20 years, what does, and does not, come out of ANWR wouldn't matter for shit anyway!






* "no oil is likely to flow from ANWR for 10 years and peak production of about 1 million barrels a day isn't expected until about 2025, according to the Energy Department. Currently, the United States used about 20 million barrels of oil a day."
Work in Progress

I'm working on a longer post about my adventures (not really) last weekend, but until that is done, allow me to say...

The girl and I are completely up-to-date with Lost episodes.

The girl and I started a few weeks back with the DVDs of the first season. Neither of us had seen it while it was being aired, but I had heard so much good stuff about it that I bought the DVDs blind.

We got through the first season watching a couple episodes per night, then resorted to watching the first 5 episodes of season 2 on the computer (with massive 17" monitor!). God bless Apple for making the episodes available on iTunes for $2 each. I had started looking for places I could illegally download them a few weeks back, but was happy to see Apple had officially released them, making me less of a crook than normal. Well...today anyway.

Anyway, it's a very cool show. I only hope it can keep up the coolness without moving off into corny or trying-too-hard-to-be-weird. I was thinking yesterday that it will be strange to watch a TV series with commercials. I watch almost no broadcast TV. The shows I do watch regularly are all HBO shows (Sopranos, Six Feet Under (RIP), Deadwood, Rome). And most of broadcast shows I've seen in the last couple of years have been seen after-the-fact on DVD. Undeclared, Freaks and Geeks, Northern Exposure, Scrubs, Firefly, Lost (season 1). I think the last time I made a point to watch a broadcast TV show on a regular basis, it was 90210. Oops, did I say that out loud?
Downside

One downside of biking to work is getting stuck behind a Metro bus...

which comes to a full stop...

on an climb...

and then a school bus...

which also comes to a full stop...

on the same climb...

which totally breaks the momentum of your climb...twice

and coats you with diesel fumes when they take off again.

Ahh, suburban life.

Monday, October 24, 2005

News not as bad as originally thought?

Well, regarding my last post, it seems that the horrific practice described may not be as widespread as initially reported. Nobody is saying it doesn't happen. But the practice, "while not unheard of", is not as common as the reports seem to indicate. Here's the Snopes link. Don't click on it unless you really want to know/see some horrible cruelty:

Snopes link.

I sent off a quick note to PETA just in case they hadn't heard about it. They had. They replied back quickly with a form letter saying authorities on the crappy little French island where it was happening are aware of, and acting to end the practice, and prosecute those who may have taken part in it.

I still may not sleep well tonight.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

If you're one who likes animals (in general) or dogs (in particular), or you're just somebody who can feel empathy for other living creatures, please please please do yourself a favor and DO NOT look at the Cellar's Image of the Day for Oct 24, 2005. Please. Seriously. You'll sleep better at night not knowing things like this are going on in the world. I am not kidding.

It's these rare occasions that I really hope there is a God. And a Heaven. And a Hell. And that Hell really is worse than we could ever possibly imagine. And I hope people who do things like what is seen in the IOTD image get the shittiest corner room in Hell when they arrive there. And that my room is just above theirs. And that my toilet is simply a hole in the floor leading to their room. And their room is only 2x2'. And all they serve in Hell is Budweiser and chili.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Serenity

So I saw the movie Serenity again today. (I also caught it opening night, but I haven't been able to come up with a decent review or outpouring of thoughts, so I haven't mentioned it here). Goddamn I loved that movie. I loved the TV show, as well. If you're a sci-fi fan, or a fan of action movies in general, you *really* owe it to yourself to see this movie. And see it on the big screen. It will still be a great movie when it hits DVD, but it's definitley worth seeing LARGE and LOUD.

If you saw any of the last three pieces-of-shit that Hollywood tried to pass off as Star Wars movies, or any of the last 100 "blockbuster" which are just rehashed, regurgitated versions of prior action movies, or any Nicholas Cage moive ever since Raising Arizona, you owe it to yourself to see a *great* action/sci-fi/character-based movie. (For those saps bilked by the Star Wars crap-quils (myself included, so I feel your pain), email George Lucas and demand your money back. You may not get it, but it will make you feel better). Then, take that money and go immediately to your local theater and buy your tickets for Serenity. And do it soon. Sadly, there's no telling how long Serenity will last in the theaters. I guarantee you'll like (if not love) Serenity.

As a matter of fact, I'll put my money where my mouth is. If any of my loyal readers (and I know who you are) go to see Serenity and honestly hate it, I will *personally* refund your ticket price*. I'm 100% dead serious. I wish I would have thought of this a week or two ago when it would have helped the box office numbers. But I'll do what I can now.

So, go see Serenity. If you hate it, email me, and I will PayPal you a refund of your ticket prices. You lose nothing, and I get a warm fuzzy karma feeling knowing I tried to help out a movie I really enjoy, and I think is being overlooked. (Also, there's a chance for two more Serenity movies. At this point it looks like a long shot. But I'll do what I can to help get those made).



* Fine Print: Offer only valid for people I know and trust, up to 4 tickets, $10/each, $40 cash outlay by me total...I'm not made of money, you know.
Ben's got mad skillz. Updates eighteenpercent.net

Ben (the brains behind eighteenpercent.net) posted a blurb on his blog about some tweaking he did to the RSS for the site. He added thumbnails of the photos to the RSS feed. Props Ben. Sorry Blogger won't give you a trackback from my post.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Best disguise ever

In a million years, I'd have never guessed who this was:



Talk about hitting the wall.

The answer... for the curious.

Friday, October 07, 2005

OK, one more quickie

File under "Reasons we don't deserve to exist any longer as a society":

D.C. Lawsuit Wants Warning Labels on Milk.
Quickie Politics

Allow me to mention a couple political things briefly...

Is it just me, or is it kinda coincidental that days (hours?) after King George II gives a speech telling the American public how good of a job we're doing in Iraq, how well the effort is going, how we can all sleep safer in our beds at night and how important to global security his ever-vague "War On Terror™" is there's a specific, credible terror threat in NYC? Wag the Dog, anyone? Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age. Ah, hell...who am I kidding. I've been cynical since I was 18.

Also, we're being led by a man who claims God told him to start wars. God. I don't care *who* you think the voices are...if you're hearing voices telling you to do shit...you should *not* have access to nuclear launch codes. You should *not* be "leading" a country. Any country. Particularly *my* country. Maybe you can have Albania.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

This is dumb

DT pointed out a link that I found a bit annoying...

http://www.untitledname.com/archives/2005/10/nypd_bicycle_th.html

Seems the NYPD saw fit to cut a bunch of bike locks off of legally parked bikes, and steal (impound?) the bikes.

So I emailed the NYPD and asked what was up:

"I recently saw a report about the bicycle removal from city signposts around the Bedford Ave L station in Brooklyn: http://www.untitledname.com/archives/2005/10/nypd_bicycle_th.html. I was curious as to why this took place? It seems (from the report above) the bicycles were locked in legal places.

Being a avid cyclist and somewhat an environmentalist, I can't understand why the NYPD seems to put up any roadblock it can to discourage cycling in the city, and thereby encourage more vehicle traffic."


We'll see if they bother to respond. If they do, I'll post it here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New photos

I posted a new image over at eighteenpercent.net. It's my favorite (so far) from the protests this past weekend.

I also put up a few more shots from the weekend on my pbase account. I still have a couple hundred shots to look over, so the gallery will probably grow.

One thing I learned...I need lots more practice shooting crowds. I've seen some other photographers' work (one pro) and it's easy for me to see where huge improvements could be made in my own stuff.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

What a Dick

I spent Saturday down in DC at the anti-war protest put on by the ANSWER Coalition, Operation Ceasefire and United for Peace and Justice. While I am, and have always been against this (bullshit, unjust, for-profit) war, I don't support the "bring the troops home now" ideal that was the main idea of many of the marchers. I don't understand how people can justify pulling all of our troops out, after we've toppled a government. It seems to me that that would lead to open class- and civil war in the country, resulting in thousands, hundred thousands, or millions more deaths. We've done a 'heck of a job' fucking the place up. It should fall to us to stabilize things before we abandon it. Basically, I guess it serves us right.

So anyway...

Started the day out driving down town. With over 100,000 expected for the march, plus a few other events going on in the area, I knew parking would be a bitch. So I tossed the singlespeed on the bike rack, grabbed a cable lock, and headed out. My plan was to take Rt66 just into the city, then head north and park a few miles away from the epicenter of activity (the Ellipse at the White House and the Washington Monument). Man, did I underestimate the parking situation. After nearly an hour of roaming every side street known to man (full-on lost a number of times) I made my way over to the Union Station side of town. Eventually, I found one lonely parking space, parked the car, mounted the SS and headed towards the action.

At about 12:30, I arrived on-scene at the Ellipse, where I found 99,999 like-minded folks doing everything from chanting to singing to praying to climbing street signs and waving corporate American flags (I gotta get me one of these!) to just being seen in fantastic costumes. It was looking to be a very animated march. And by far, the biggest I'd ever been a part of.

After milling about taking scores of random photos for an hour past the scheduled march start-time, things finally got moving slowly up 15th Street. The march was pretty uneventful on the whole (damn peace-niks! Where were the riots? Everybody loves pictures of riots!), but as we walked in front of the White House (in the street-cum-parklike "please don't blow up our president" zone), emotions ran high. I continued marching with the crowd until we passed the north side of Lafayette Park where I decided I wanted to spend more time in front of the White House. I cut south through the park and wandered around the "please don't blow up our president" zone for a while more. It was here that I got my favorite shot of the day. The devil (ok, probably not "the" devil, but one of his minions, no doubt) held a puppeteer's rod (you know...the stick thingies to which strings are attached, which in turn control puppets). To this puppeteer's rig was attached 'Dick Cheney', also holding a puppeteer's rod, which in turn was attached to 'W' who was holding an inflatable globe, a quart of oil, and a soft pretzel(?). It was a fantastic costume setup. I (and every other photographer in the immediate area) snapped off dozens of shots. As the other photographers moved on, I kept snapping when Mr. Cheney looked right at me and told me I was #1!


(Worth noting that when I scaled this image to the correct width (400 pixels) the height became 666 pixels. Coincidence? I doubt it).

After a highlight like that (not to mention that I had already spent 2 hours more time there than I had planned on), I figured nothing could top it and decided to head for home. I made a bee-line hike back towards my bike, straight down 14th to Constitution, skipping the Pennsylvania Ave and Constitution parts of the "official" march. A quick pedal up Constitution on the SS (which was very cool, since Constitution was still closed for the march, and the last few thousand marchers were still coming in, so I got to ride upstream in their midst), and I was back at Union Station and the car. A few detours later I was out of the city and heading for home.

I had originally planned on going back into DC for the concert and speakers later Saturday evening, but was pretty wiped by the end of the day. So I blew it off. I didn't realize that there were other protests going on Sunday (including a pro-war march). Had I known about them, I would prolly have gone back down in hopes of getting some confrontations on film (err...you know what I mean).

Interesting numbers that I heard regarding the march:

* The anti-war organizers had hoped for 100,000 people. Estimates were anywhere between 150,000 (DC police chief) and 300,000 (event organizers). I'd bet closer to 300k. It's nice to see that there are lots of people fed up with the war machine.

* Counter demonstrators on Saturday were numbered under 200 from what I heard on the news, and fewer than 400 on Sunday. From what I read, they were hoping for 20,000+. Interesting that they still claim they speak for the majority of Americans.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

See, I *told* you Google Earth was cool!

From Slashdot:

"Google Earth Used to Find Ancient Roman Villa"

and the direct link to the (brief) article:

"Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Coolness

One of the local singlespeed bike guys works for a rather cool company (plug). They are donating $1 for each click on a link on their web page (link below), up to $20,000. Why they make us jump through the hoop and don't just cut a check for $20k is beyond me. But at least they're doing something.

His original post on the bikecentric blog is below.

=========================================

One Click Equals One Buck...

Friends,

no doubt we have all been shocked at the absolute disaster that Katrina caused in the south. Now I usually try to keep my work life and my secret identity as a single speeder with bad sideburns totally seperate, however the company I work for, which is a pretty outstanding company, is doing somethign really cool. They are donating $1 to AmeriCare for every click that they get on this website:

http://www.dansko.com/about_us/danskoreliefaid.aspx

So if you have a few seconds, and want to help make a difference click on over and click the magic button. Please share with your friends, and family. Click 'till it hurts folks.

much respect,
fatmarc

Monday, September 12, 2005

New Photo Up

Posted a new photo to eighteenpercent.net.

I spent a few hours at Huntley Meadows park in Alexandria just after sunrise on Sunday morning. I unfortunately didn't see much wildlife. (The story is that the beavers who maintained the dam (which created/preserved the marshland) have moved on due to lack of food in the area. Their old dam has washed away, so the marshland has drained. As a result, 99.9% of the bird life around there has moved on. It's actually really sad. You would think the park service would construct some kind of man-made dam (but keep it natural looking) to allow the marshland to build back up. After all, what's the point of a park based on marshland, if there's no marshland? You got a park with a boardwalk through the grass. Not too exciting. But I digress...).

Anyway...the one bit of interesting nature I saw was a bigass spider who had caught a full sized cicada in it's web. I set up the tripod and spent something more than 2 hours shooting the morning meal. I used every combination of lens, 1.4x teleconverter, and tripod position I could. Obviously, the nice 200mm lens produced the best images. The 200mm with TC the next nicest, crappy 300mm the worst (tho not at all bad). I was pretty surprised with the quality of the crappy 300mm and TC. Not great. Probably not even "very good". But not horrible. Definitely good enough for making small WWW shots. And it's 672mm (35mm equivalent) when you add up the digital crop factor and TC. Pretty long.

As a size reference, this flavor of cicada is about 2.5" (via this page), including wings. Which makes that the biggest spider I've ever seen around here. Ew.


Friday, September 09, 2005

The Name Game

For lack of better content, I think I'll start a list...people (in the news) who should be given a free pass to change their names. All expense paid. For they were not responsible for what their parents did to them. The first two names on my list are:

Ms. Michelle Biatch

and

Mr. Rick Shaw

Rick was interviewed on one of the news programs about Katrina. Poor little Michelle (maybe 10 years old) was featured in a newspaper article a year or two ago. She's gonna have a traumatic middle/high school experience, I'd bet.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mapping goodness (or badness, as the case may be)

Google Maps have updated their New Orleand data with post-Katrina images. Zoom, click, drag to see what there is to see. Note the red "Katrina" button on the top right side of the map. Fascinating stuff. You can see pre-Katrina images by clicking the "Satelliet" button for comparison.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Dark Days

Farewell, Gilligan. Actor Bob Denver died last Friday (damn hurricane getting all the attention) at age 70.

I don't have many memories of growing up. Not sure why. I'm not repressing anything (that I can remember, heh). I just don't. But one of the few memories I do have is watching Gilligan's Island (reruns, by the time I saw them) with mom way back in the day. So I've always had a soft spot for that show, along with MASH and Hogan's Heros (for the same reason). So the day Gilligan checks out is a sad day indeed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Other people's brushes with fame

Props to Spearman on having his "Big Meats" drawing published in the "Reader Art" section of the latest Dirt Rag (issue #116). See the image here (since I can't find it on the DR web site).

Further props to RickyD on being the "Readings" poster boy. No matter how disturbing the picture may be.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Another brush with fame

Ok, so "fame" might be a bit strong of a word, but one of my submissions did get picked up for the Image Of The Day over at The Cellar.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The end is near

Another harbinger of the end of humanity as we know it. If we, as a society, need to be told things like this, we don't deserve to exist anymore.

As seen on the trash cans at a rest stop along I95 in MA or CT (I forget which):



Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Please don't feed the bears

I tried coming up with a review of Grizzly Man, but it seemed to wander and never go anywhere. Short review: awesom movie. Highly recommended. Go see it.

Synopsis: Take one well meaning (really *really* f*cking dumb, bordering on mentally challenged) guy, plop him in Alaska, and wait for the dinner party to start.

Editorial comments: If there was anyone in the world who belonged among the grizzlys *less* than this guy, it was my 98 year old granny.

It may be cruel to say, but natural selection worked perfectly this time.

In a slightly less cruel statement: perhaps we need somebody at the airport in far-away dangerous locations, giving an IQ test before letting people out where they can hurt themselves? It would have saved two lives (plus the life of one grizzly) here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Clarification, por favor

Just what exactly does "Git r done" mean? I've seen the bumper stickers a lot lately, usually right next to the "W" sticker on the beater '87 Honda in the next lane (the joys of life in a red state). So I'm guessing it's a right-wing thing. And so far, I have assumed it's something about the war. But if you were to expand "Git r done" into it's un-abbreviated form, it would seem to me to be "Get her done". So now the war is a her? Interesting.

Today on the ride into work, I saw a Pontiac Aztec (yuck, but I digress) all soap-painted up with "Just Married, Tommy and Jenny" on the back window. On the side window was "git r done". It would seem to me that to a bride, that would be somewhat offensive. "Hey Tommy" said Billy, "Hurry up and take Jenny back to the hotel and get r done so we can go back out drinking".

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

1,000 laptops. 12,000 people. What could possibly go wrong?

This just in from the "f* that, I'm glad missed it after all" department:

iBook sale erupts in chaos, stampede


(Image linked from the Richmond Times Dispatch article)



New Beer

The girl had a birthday recently, and one of her friends sent her a long-distance 6 pack of beer, and luckily, the girl was nice enough to share.

The new brew is called "Loft" and it's by the New Belgium brewing company. The same folks who make Fat Tire Ale. Mmm. Fat Tire Ale.

Loft is like a lighter/more watery Fat Tire. It's not bad at all, but it definitely doesn't have the flavor or...um...robustness?...of Fat Tire. So if you see it in a store, you may want to give it a try, but don't order a 12 pack online and have it shipped to your house. You probably won't be impressed.

I also noticed, on the New Belgium website, they have a "I will promise to ride my bike to work at least once a month for the following year. If I cannot ride to work, I will ride for pleasure. If I cannot ride for pleasure well, then something’s got to change" pledge. Looks like you can maybe score some free stuff. I'm signing up. Besides, if I end up on a beer mailing list, it won't be the worst list I ever landed on.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Wow!

Google Maps, and those who hack it for the good of mankind, are pretty friggin' cool. Here's the route I took biking in to work today:

http://tinyurl.com/acfve

And here's the one I meant to take (damn missed turn):

http://tinyurl.com/7bff2

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

****rattle****

Posted a new photo to eighteenpercent today. Mostly unremarkable as far as photos go, except for the fact that it a friggin' 2.5' long rattlesnake, in the wild, about 18" from my face.

:-o

The girl and I hit Skyline Drive this past weekend looking for a hike or two to do. While driving along, we see a bigass snake just reaching the edge of the road after making a safe crossing. Knowing there aren't too many bigass snakes in this region, and that there *were* rattlesnakes, I was hoping for something cool.

Threw the car to the side of the road far enough away not to squash my prey, and walked up cautiously to his general area. I took a couple of passes walking in the road, looking to where I thought he should be in the grass along side. Didn't see him, so I decided to hop over the grass, and stand in a concrete gutter and look from a different angle. As my foot hit the concrete, I see him about 10" from my left shoe. That was kinda dumb. Luckily, he didn't seem too pissed; he didn't strike (or even rattle). I spent the next 45 minutes shooting him with every lens I had on me. Unfortunately, I spent most of the time just shooting his head, as most of his body was concealed in tall grass. I did look closely to make sure it was indeed a rattlesnake. He had a rattle. I felt very Steve Irwin.

Many of the shots came out crappy, cuz I guess in the excitement of crawling around a rattler, I neglected to check my shutter speed (blurry shots due to hand shake) and histogram (overexposed shots due to...err...overexposure). Luckily, a few shots came out OK. This was one. Oddly enough, this is with my crappiest 70-300mm lens.

Friday, July 29, 2005

I love this site

The Cellar's Image of the Day (don't miss the Archives section!). Some of the most fascinating photos I've ever seen. I'm giving it a permalink on the right hand side of the page, so I remember to hit it more often than I now do.

They even accepted an image I found elsewhere online as their IOTD once (although I was uncredited...I see they take after Slashdot in that regard). http://cellar.org/iotd.php?threadid=5435.

Does this all sound familiar to you? Have I posted this before? Damn my drug-addled brain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Appreciate me, damnit!

System Administrator's Appreciation Day 07.29.2005.

Gifts and adulation shamelessly accepted (preferably gifts ;).

Monday, July 25, 2005

uggghhhh

Bachelor party over the weekend. I'm not sure...but I think I may *still* have a hangover.

All well worth it, tho.

Friday, July 15, 2005

New photo posted

I finally put up a new photo on eighteenpercent.net yesterday. Look over to the right to see a thumbnail. Click that to see the larger sized one. It's the Bodie Island lighthouse in Nags Head NC, taken at sunrise last week. Kinda cliche', but it was a nice shot anyway.

Odd thing was, when looking at the photos they sold in their gift shop, my shot was better than 50% of them. Many of thiers were grainy, poorly framed, or just ugly. Made me feel like an accomplished phtog, seeing that some of my work was better than some of what's out there commercially. Now I just gotta get them to sell my work.

When I took the shot, it was about 6am and probably close to 80 degrees out and super humid. I was in a long sleeve shirt, bluejeans, my rain jacket (with hood pulled up) and a baseball hat. The mosquitos on the outer banks are awful. I still came away with bites, but they'd have been worse had I not been covered. By the time I finished, I looked like I had just come out of the water. Soaked.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Review: MediaGear 40GB portable storage device (hard drive/card reader)

Abridged version: Run for your f*cking lives. Don't touch this piece of shit (or it's 60GB big brother) with a 10' pole. Read on for more...

==============================

This is a review I wrote for Amazon.com in November, about 12:30am when I *really* needed to be in bed...but I couldn't delay getting it down on paper, as it were. All the sentiments and emotions still hold true. I gave the company another try (cautiously) with it's 60GB version, and it behaved almost exactly the same way, requiring me to rescue files via data recovery programs (this time I was smart enough to leave copies of the pix on my laptop, unlike the SF episode detailed below). Also, this time, I was smarter in that I fdisked and formatted and scanned and surface scanned the drive before leaving home. Wish that would have helped. So without further ado...

I am so fuious, I am shaking as I type this. I have just returned from a trip across the country to San Francisco CA and this piece of junk unit nearly cost me 20% of the photos I took!!!

I shooot with a Canon 20D and both a 512MB and 1GB Kingston CF card. I have been using this setup since the 20D's release a couple of months ago with NO problems or corrupt files or anything similar.

On the trip to CA, I shot over 1,200 shots in a week. At one point, I encountered a problem dumping the 1GB card to the unit. The unit reported "data transfer error" at about 13% of the transfer. Since I could not empty the card, I could either format it and lose everything on it, or leave the pics on it, and use only the 512MB card. I took the second option.

So I unhappily limped through my vacation like that. Upon returning home, I attached the unit to my computer. Over 20% of the directories showed up as empty, or corrupt (these were directories which appeared to transfer fine in the filed!!!). I nearly fainted. Luckily (being an IT professional), I was able to mostly rescue 186 files (608MB of data), although some of those are destroyed images. All of the recovered files were recovered as Windows "CHK" files (after a few disk checks). Non-geeks would have been hard pressed to recover much without professional help.

Bottom line, when I ran Windows disk checks on the unit, it came back with *numerous* errors. Inexcusable! My unit was purchased new and was babied every step of the way. I even tested out the transfer of both JPG and RAW (CR2) files before leaving home. I guess I should have run full scandisks against the thing too. Lesson learned.

So, final word: run away from this unit. I don't care how good of a deal you think you're getting. I would not trust it to hold up my coffee table any more. Once I'm sure I've saved all I can from it, I'm fdisking and formatting it and it's going back to the store it came from. It's a shame. The unit cost the same as another model with half of the storage capacity. Guess the old adage "you get what you pay for" holds true here.


Buy something else. Trust me on this one.

Monday, July 11, 2005

hahaha

You said it...



(Photo taken by a guy on one of the photography mailing lists I read. See his site here.
***NEWSFLASH***

People are stupid.

(from the Washington Post (beware compulsory registration and countless pop-ups at the above link)).

A summary, if the WashPost offends you as it does me:

The High Price of Puppy Love

Pet pampering services are in big demand in the Washington area, ranging from day care to dance lessons and swimming classes.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Funniest warning message today

Formatting a new portable HD today, I got the warning message:



An epic battle is sure to follow. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Greatest American my butt

I saw a commercial a few days ago for the Discovery Channle's "Greatest American" TV show. Basically, viewers were able to vote on one of 100 people they thought were the greatest American who ever lived. It was down to the final 5. They were: George Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan(!). I was floored. I was offended. I was immediately reminded how dumb Americans are that Reagan could end up in the top 5.

Imagine how floored I was when he was named #1.

I was going to go on and on about it, but my friend Ben said all that needs to be said, and said it well. See for yourself.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Slaving away

So I'm sitting around the office today working on my mail servers. I'm doing a lot of waiting for stuff to happen, so I have time to find stuff and blog about it. Up next....


I friggin' love Google Maps. They've just added data for most of the rest of the world. Cool cool cool.

The slashdot story is here.

Buckingham Palace is here.

The Arc de Triomphe is here.

Make sure you browse through the comments on the slashdot article to see links to other cool landmarks (Vesuvius' crater, Eiffle Tower, Giza Pyramids).

Man I love satellite mapping.
hrmmm....

CNN/Reuters says:

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair's eldest son Euan will work as an intern with Republican staff in the U.S. House of Representatives, the prime minister's office said on Sunday.

Wonder if George and Tony spoon when they're in the sack toghther? I bet George is the boy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Things that *almost* don't need to be said

A sign posted on the door to the community pool at my apartment complex:


If you have diarrhea or have had diarrhea in the last two weeks, please do not use the pool.

Patrons must shower off after using the bathroom before re-entering the pool.

Do not drink pool water.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Darwin '05 baby!

Man, if this dood dies, he's gotta be a Darwin Award winner...

http://www.wtop.com/index.php?sid=532655&nid=25

Man Badly Burned Siphoning Gas From Car
Updated: Friday, Jun. 17, 2005 - 9:37 AM

GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) - An 82-year-old man was badly burned after trying to siphon gas from his car with an electric vacuum cleaner while the engine was running.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why I love my job...but not all the time

Sitting at a co-worker's computer installing a printer, she walks away and begins to tell another co-worker about her case of pink-eye. Ew.

Where do I sign up for hazardous-duty pay?
Oh yeah...and...

Wanted to say thanks to Ben for the little snippet of code that he wrote that pulls my most recent eighteenpercent.net photo and sticks it on top of the column on the right side of this page. Now I just have to find time to go out and take new pictures.

Ben's also got a new blog up (also linked to above...and over in the "People I like" column). Definitely worth checking out. I've heard all of his rants a dozen times (each!), and I'm still gonna tune in ;)
$49,686.60/hour??

Just saw what the hospital charged my insurance company to reset my dislocated finger...$828.11. Thank the gods for insurance.

Re-locating my dislocated finger took one doctor less than 1 minute to do. So by my math, that hospital is making about $49,686.60/hour ($828.11/minute * 60) /doctor. Not a bad take.

To be fair, for that $828.11, I got:

2 hours of sitting in the ER waiting room time.
1 hour laying on the ER bed time.
1 nurse looking at the finger saying "yup, it's dislocated" (1 minute).
1 med student looking at the finger also saying "yup, it's dislocated" (i'm not kidding) (2 minutes).
1 doctor looking at the finger, pinching it a couple of times, saying "take a deep breath", and wrenching it back into place. (1 minute).
1 crappy dried turkey and mustard sammach on soggy white bread, a small gatoraid, and a few other. nibblets in a hospital kitchen box.
3 hand xrays.
2 vicodin.
1 aluminum and styrofoam finger splint (complete with tape).

I know my bills are padded to cover uninsured people...and I don't mind that. But I know it's equally padded (at least) to cover all the frivolous lawsuits that doctors (and everybody else) have to contend with. Anf that annoys me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Three degrees of Deep Throat

My former office-mate got an email from his dad...It seems former-office-mate's-dad kinda knew Deep Throat. So that makes me only three degrees of seperation away from Mr. Throat. Which makes all of you, just 4 degrees away.

Here's a snippet from the email from former-office-mate's-dad to former-office-mate:

When I began my practice in [name of town] many years ago, I also worked two days a week for two years in another dentist's office in Alexandria, VA while mine was getting going. It was there that I met a very distinguished gentleman through his wife, Audrey, who had been a patient of mine for a year or so. I actually saw this gentleman only a few times in the office, but we hit it off well and he autographed a copy of his recently completed book, "To Dr. Wayne [last name] with every good wish, Mark Felt."

Well. I thouht it was kinda cool.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Random punk stuff

Digging around emusic this weekend I came across a band called the "Daredevils". It was formed by the mid-90's departed guitarits from Bad Religion (a band of which I'm an admitted fanboy). The random association thing that caught my eye was this:

"A couple years after Epitaph honcho Brett Gurewitz exited Bad Religion, he formed the Daredevils with guitarist Gore Verbinski (the Little Kings), journeyman drummer Josh Freese (the Vandals, Devo, Paul Westerberg, Wayne Kramer), and bassist Dean Opseth (Medicine). Formed with the intention to release a number of two-song singles, the Daredevils released one such thing in early 1996 with Hate You. The A-side, a scathing song in the vein of the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You," was rumored to be about Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley. Unfortunately, nothing more surfaced from the band. Gurewitz rejoined Bad Religion for 2002's The Process of Belief, which found the band back on Epitaph. Verbinski, who has directed videos for the likes of Bad Religion, furthered his career behind the camera by directing movies such as The Mexican..."

It took me a second to catch it, but Verbinski is probably best known for directing The Ring, and The Pirates of the Carabbean. Who knew he was punk?

So I bought the two songs by the Daredevils. Not as good as BR stuff, but not bad.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

F*cking ouch

Took a digger on a solo Colts Neck loop last night and ended up seriously dislocating one of my fingers. Going over a new log pile at the bottom of the downhill, just past the climb with the diagonal, off camber log crossing. I came down the hill too fast, saw the logs, and slowed down too much. My front wheel caught the top of the pile, and over the bars I go, arms outstretched like Superman (dumbass).

Good samaratan Rick watched the it happen and stopped and hung out to make sure I was ok. Many thanks, Rick.

When I realized it wasn't terminal, first thing I did was reach for the phone/camera. Pics are below. They're kinda yucky, so I'm tying to space out this post so you have to work to see them.

I managed to ride the last 1.5 miles out to the W&OD one-handed. Then I called the girl for a rescue pick-up in Oakton. Many many thanks, baby.

Sitting on a bench on the W&OD for 15 minutes with my hand and busted-ass finger elevated, lotsa people pedal/skate/jog/walk by. Nobody says a word. Only guy to ask if I was OK was riding by on a primer grey Surly singlespeed. I love our little subculture.

Off to the ER. Three hours, one nasty *pop*, a couple of Vicodin, and a splint later and I'm on the way home. In bed by midnight.

Doesn't feel too bad today. I got a pain perscription, but doubt I'll use it. I gotta wear the splint for 2 weeks, then another 2 weeks with the finger taped up. Got a followup doc viit in a week. And typing sucks. But I got some fun pics:


Right after it happened.


After a couple attempts to yank it back into place (good idea that was).


Next to it's neighbor for comparison.


On the desk in the ER. (The flat surface made a nice contrast).

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The other kinda bikes

I spent Sunday wandering 4 miles around and around the parking lots at the Pentagon. The annual Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom was gathering for the Memorial Day ride downtown. It took a while to get into the shooting groove. With so much to see (200,000+ bikes and bikers will do that to you) it was hard to narrow down things to shoot. I decided something new and interesting to try would be to do a number of multiple-image panorama shots. The results would have been much better had I actually taken a tripod down with me, but I didn't, so I made the best of it handheld. In my attempt to get a good overall vantage point, I climbed everything I could find. Tarp-covered dirt piles, concrete street lamp bases, bigass electrical transformers, pedestrian walkways, and a WWII truck. I took about six panorama shots, each composed of 5-7 individual shots.

When I got home, I tried a couple of different panorama stitching tools to create my final images. A Canon program, one freeware program, good ol' Gimp, and Photoshop Elements 2.0. I wasn't too crazy with the results of any of them (honestly, tho, I never did really figure out the Gimp technique). Ben pointed out (in defense of the software) that I was probably trying to stitch the most difficult images these programs would ever encounter. A million shiny chrome bits, a million dark parts, plus a million colors. It makes sense that the software freaked out. Each one did things that seriously distorted the images. So I ended up hand stitching one set of six images and the results are better than the software did. I need to learn how to gradiate the sky so it looks more natural, but the seams in the crowds are nearly invisible.

The final image is way too wide to display here, so I'll just give you a link. It's about a 600kb file, so it's not small:

Bigass Pano 1

Monday, May 30, 2005

Shopping spree

Q: When is it time for new bike tires?

A: When your old ones disintegrate to the point that your green tubes poke out of about a dozen holes all around the sidewall.



I guess 5 years is too much to expect out of stock tires, huh. The good news is that I scored a new set of Kevlar Panaracer Smoke/Dart tires for half price at Performance. I installed them, cleaned and regreased the front bearings and tightened the front wheel of the ol' singlespeed today. Hopefully I'll get out for a ride tomorrow. It's been over a week since my last ride.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bang a gong...get it on

Sitting at a stop light the other day, a guy pulls up next to me rocking out to Robert Palmer's band Power Station's "Bang A Gong". And I think to myself "who the hell rocks out to Power Station anymore?".

Then today I find myself sitting at a traffic light rocking out to the Go Go's "We Got the Beat".

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Woot!

So it ain't Sports Illustrated, but one of my shots from the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm race (of rider "Kevin") made it's way onto a web site for WaltWorks, an indy MTB frame maker (with permission, of course). Check it out.

(That page/photo will change eventually, so I grabbed a screenshot for posterity).

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

dummm dummm dummm, dum de dum, dum de dum

So I did it. I saw the final Star Wars. Everybody's heard all of the reviews, so I won't get into it too deep. But I just wanted to share a couple of things (spoiler free...I think).

Why, why, why, oh why didn't Lucas see fit to share some of the writing or directing with somebody who could actually write or direct? I'm pretty fucking furious at him. This was the culmination of a large chunk of my childhood, and goddamnit, it should have been an Oscar quality performance! A fucking masterpiece! I wanted to walk out of that theater in tears, feeling like I just got hit in the stomach with a baseball bat *and* that my dog just died, becuase of all the loss I felt. We deserve that. Fucking *I* deserve that. The story was there (besides what he did to it in the first two pre-quils). The emotion was there (if not in the actors...in the audience). The myth practically did all of the work for him. It was his to blow. And he tried like hell to blow it.

I mean, really, Natalie Portman has been acting, and acting well, since she was what? 12 years old (think "The Professional"). Lucas must have had to work hard to suck the life out of her, so she wouldn't outshine the wooden Hayden Christiansen. I heard Hayden's abilities summed up quite well elsewhere "that guy couldn't act his way out of a paper bag". I agree. Samuel Jackson...same deal as Natalie. He's a good actor. It must be a lot of work to quash that. George came through tho. Of all the bad acting, I'd say Ewan was the best. Not necessarliy good, but better than the rest of the cast. Tho some of the situations Obi Wan was put in were just dumb.

Even with all the bad, I was still almost choked up at the birth of Vader. I mean, there it was, the beginning. As bad as most of the acting was, my emotion at that moment was still enough to make me gasp. That part was well done. I was a bit concerned leading up to it that Lucas would pull a Lucas and do something dumb, but thankfully, he didn't.

What else did I like...hrm. Well, I really really liked seeing the origins of a lot of the ships and vehicles. That was cool. You could totally say "oh, yeah, that ship is the predicessor of this ship". There were some other homages to the original Star Wars that were more obvious, but worked pretty well anyway. And like I said earlier, the story practically wrote itself for Lucas. It was cool to see everything come together. I wish it would have done so with more believable emotion from the actors, but enough with the dead horse beating already, eh?

So, would I recommend it? Definitely, if for no other reason than closure. Can I say I liked the movie? Yes, again definitely. Was I entertained? Yup. Would I call it a "good" movie? Not necessarily. An attempt at a movie that had every opportunity to be good? Yes. Would I see it again in the theater? Yes. For full ticket price? Nope. If you've been in for the first five, you can't really bail out now, especially if you sat through those last two pieces of shit. Also, the visuals are stunning (usually) as one would expect. If you wait for the DVD, you're gonna miss a lot of that.

So I sit here sad. Sad becuase it's a f*ckin' downer movie. And sad becuase it wasn't as good as it should have been.

---edit---

You know what, thinking back on the movie now (the morning after, if you will) I have to take back what I said about Ewan/Obi Wan. His lines and dialogue were just as dead/poorly delivered as the rest of the cast's. I guess that leaves Yoda as the best actor of the bunch. And even his dialogue left something to be desired. I think it's pretty telling of a director's directing ability when the best actor in his crowning achievement work is a computer generated character.
Hey, look down there


it's my first official "trackback".

What the hell is a trackback?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Woohoo!

Plagerized from /.

Critical Shortage of IT Workers in Coming Years

"The Herald Sun reports that IBM and university officals are worried about the increasing demand for IT professionals and the decreasing supply of computer science students. From the article: 'The slope shows an unbelievable decline in computer science majors,' Astrachan said. 'There are smart people no longer even signing up to take our introductory courses. We need to fix it, or there's not going to be a U.S. work force in computer sciences.'"


Evidentally, I'm in the right job field after all.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Easy come, easy go

Adios 29er. Farewell Rig. Sionara Karate Monkey. Hello replacement transmission for my 2000 Nissan truck.

Yup. That's it. Dreams of a new bike have gone out the window. Starting last week, I was getting some serious vibrations in my shifter when starting the truck off in first gear. Looking around many Nissan message boards, it seems this isn't uncommon. More unfortunately, it also seems to herald the impending death of the transmission. So I'm looking at a $500, $1500, maybe even $2100 (or more) job (depending on what I can find for a junkyard tranny, and who I can bribe to install it). One shining ray of hope, the girl's brother is a mechanic, and he's offered his skills. Now I just gotta sell the FS to pay for the part, I guess.

I'm seriously bummed. Dogfish Head Ale, here I come.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Those who can, do...

...Those who can not, take pictures of the "do'ers".


(I have no idea who this guy is, but he seemed to be having fun).

http://www.pbase.com/gmr2048/12_hours_of_lodi_5_15_2005

This past Sunday was the 12 Hours of Lodi mountain bike race in Fredricksburg, VA. I wasn't feeling up to racing it, so I decided it would be fun to wake at 4am Sunday and go take pictures. Unfortunately, although a number of my friends were racing, I saw only a very few of them out on the course. Consequently I have a ton of photos of total strangers (see above).

So click the link above for more photos. If you know people who raced, point them here or to the pbase site. They're free to take copies for themselves. If they want bigger copies of the images, tell them to email me. While I'm still learning, I'm pretty liberal with the licensing of my images.

Also, special props go out to DT's girl for the loan of a flash unit for my camera. It totally made the day. Without it, the day would have been a total loss.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Man oh man. The Ultimate Boot CD for Windows is the best f*cking tool for Windows, ever. If you're a Windows admin (or you're a tinkerer), do yourself a favor and grab a copy. It just saved my ass again, when I tried to change the video drivers on our NT4 fileserver. Change drivers, file server no longer boots. Swap the video card. File server still doesn't boot. Try "safe mode" and "last known good configuration". File server still doesn't boot. Use UBCD4WIN, remove the bits of the errant video driver. File server boots. Gary keeps his job (for now).

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ride rehash

I've managed to get in a good number of rides each week recently. Being far too lazy to actually post about each, I'll lump them all together in one.

Last Thursday I got out to Wakefield Park for a demo day put on by The Bike Lane. I had hoped to ride one of the new Gary Fisher Rigs (29er, SS). No such luck, but I did manage to get in a couple of laps on a Fisher Paragon (29er, geared). I took a lap around the new trail, thinking "man, this 29er thing is really cool" and "this thing is really plush! I may have to get a suspension fork for my SS". When I got back to the parking lot, RickyD said "so what'd you think of the suspension fork...oh, you had it locked out". Funny how your perception of "plush" changes after a lot of time on the rigid SS. That little 1/2" of travel on the locked out fork made a noticable difference in the feel of the bike.

Monday, I met up with DT and took a lap around the CCT loop. The ride went really quickly and I was actually feeling pretty strong. Guess the skillz do eventually come back. After the ride, we each picked up our respective girls and met at the Wegmans in Fairfax for some grub. My sushi was pretty good, but overall I think the consesus was that this Wegmans isn't as good as the Dulles store.

Tuesday I decided to take a casual pace ride somewhere different. After work I drove out Rt 7 and parked at Colvin Run Mill (roughly the halfway point of the CCT loop). From there, I headed up towards Great Falls. Again, I felt really strong and had a great ride up to the park. Once at the park, I ride down to the shore of the river, take the phone out to take some quick picutres, and notice a vmail from DT. He and his swill ride just happen to be meeting about a mile from where I am. cool. I head back the way I came and meet up with them at the parking lot. After a bit of gabbing and wrenching, we set off back towards where my car was parked. Once back at my car, I break off from the rest of the guys and head for home, while they continue on their semi-epic.

Tonight is nuthin' but domesticity. We had mothers and step fathers and sisters and sister's boyfriends over for Mother's Day dinner on Sunday. Guess it's about time I tackle that pile of dirty dishes that's been hanging out in the sink since then.

Tomorrow I hope to hit the MORE casual ride at Wakefield.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Missing the point

Driving to work today, I saw a car...

The license plate:



On the side of the car:



In the hand hanging out the driver's side window:

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Pretty cool weekend

The weekend was good to me. Friday, the girl and I went out with friends to catch opening night of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". It had to have been the first time since I was about 16 years old that I saw a movie opening night. I'm not what you would call a "people person". This movie (and group of friends) was worth it.

The movie itself was really good (unfortunately, not "great" IMNSF*INGHO)*. I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to capture a full book's worth of Douglas Adams' flowing, fantastic dialogue in a 2 hour movie. And I was right. But they did a good job of getting the overall feel of the movie right, and put together a totally entertaining movie. The cast was really good too, tho I wish Mos Def would have been a bit better as Ford Prefect. He seemed too flat.

Saturday I hit a Summit Point, WV raceway for the Ferrari Maserati of Washington "track event". I attended one last year and found it to be a good opportunity for some photography (i.e. subject matter you don't find in the wild all that often). A "track event" is like a race, but nobody is officially racing. All the really rich guys take their really expensive cars out, and drive really, really fast around a race track. Since there's no competition to it, people don't feel like they have to drive their expensive cars like Mario Andretti.

I spent the day wandering the track area from end to end, and side to side (I put in about 4 miles of walking by day's end). Only once or twice getting yelled at for being too close to the action (ie: nearly on the track :). After a bunch of hours of cars, I decided to walk over to the far track to check out a motorcycle race that was happening there. I had a limited area in which to shoot, but I managed to get a few cool shots (missing the two crashes by seconds each time, damnit). I've only processed three photos so far, but you can see them on my Pbase gallery. I may put one or two over on eighteenpercent.net, but I'm not sure they're up to snuff for that gallery. I'm trying to post ony my favorite stuff there, and my more mediocre/snapshot/photojournalism (in my dreams) stuff on Pbase.

Sunday, the kid's lacrosse game was cancelled, so I took the girl and the kid over for a ride at Wakefield. Up to this point, most of their off-road riding had been limited to the cinder path around Burke Lake. I had planned to stick mostly to the creek trail (didn't occur to me how swampy it would be). After a lap on there, the girls seemed to want to keep going, so I decided we'd try hitting the new singletrack.

That went pretty well considering the newness of the riders. From the far end of the park (where the creek trail ends) we climbed part of the power line trail, to the point where it cuts back into the woods. We then connected with the new singletrack and finished the loop clockwise. In the end, the girl said she wasn't a fan of that part of the ride. I'm not sure what the kid's thoughts were, tho she didn't seem to hate it, but she was pretty exhausted by the end. We may have to build up our skills before tackling it again.





* In My Not So F*cking Humble Opinion :)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Things I don't need

I don't need to have the receptionist at work say to me "that was a quick trip for you" when I pass her, go into the men's restroom, wash my hands, then go back out to the office (passing her again). Because that implies that there are days when she's thinking "Jesus H. Christ, he was in there for an hour and a half today, and he looks like he's lost 10 pounds. He must have had a rough night of drinking topped off with a Ultimo Burrito with extra salsa last night". Thankfully, she's been kind enough to keep these thoughts to herself. So far.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Stuff that makes me laugh

bash.org. A repository of funny things said on IRC (chat rooms). The randomness is fantastic. Examples:

---
[khamosis] oh man... i had typed "hey! anyone awake?" in another channel about 20 minutes ago
[khamosis] and just now i saw it and typed "yes!" not realizing it was me


---
[Dan] we went to "the store" in our lunch break today
[Dan] there was this shop with the sign "coffee corn" above it
[Dan] it was meant to be 2 different signs but it looked like one
[Dan] and this girl that was with us asked "WTF is coffee corn"
[Dan] then later we walked around the other side and the other part of the sign said "nuts juice"

---
[appleboy] Are you chinese?
[transgress] do i look chinese motherfucker?

---
[SirCourage] So anyways, I knew at 1:30 am this morning that my english paper would not be finished, so I opened up explorer.exe in notepad, saved it as a .txt, emailed it to my school email and told them that their email server must have ruined my paper. I got an A- :D

---
* MTR continues to listen to his best of Poison cd
[ROB] That's gotta be one short fucking CD


---
I gotta go. There's a dude next to me and he's watching me type, which is sort of starting to creep me out. Yes dude next to me, I mean you.

---
[FBMachine] i got kicked out of barnes and noble once for moving all the bibles into the fiction section

---
[Sonium] someone speak python here?
[lucky] HHHHHSSSSSHSSS
[lucky] SSSSS
[Sonium] the programming language

---
[Patrician] what does your robot do, sam
[bovril] it collects data about the surrounding environment, then discards it and drives into walls

---
[Jakefeb3] do you know a turtles only weakness?
[AvatarOfSolusek] no
[AvatarOfSolusek] well
[AvatarOfSolusek] thier slowness
[Jakefeb3] there weakness is they cant roll over when they are on their backs
[AvatarOfSolusek] lol
[Jakefeb3] now i have a plan
[Jakefeb3] if i duck tape 2 turtles together they are unstoppable

Saturday, April 23, 2005

ACLU

Man, I love the ACLU. This was sent to me by my mom (the first *real* keeper she's ever sent). It's a shockwave flash app.

Want a Pizza?

Friday, April 22, 2005

Thou shalt not...

Man, I am seriously coveting the new Gary Fisher Rig.



A 29" singlespeed, straight from the factory. No fuss, no muss. Only drawbacks: aluminum frame (rigid) and suspension fork (not rigid enough. But that might be OK since I'm old and fat).

In a perfect world, I'd be able to afford a custom steel 29er for my tall ass. In a slightly less perfect world, I'd at least be able to afford a Surly Karate Monkey. However, no one seems to sell them built, and I have neither the space nor the ambition to buy a frame, then buy the bits, then try to fit them all together.

This may signal the end of the line for my Fisher Sugar 2 Disk.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Product Placement


I may have said it before, but the concept of "product placement" in movies, television shows, television news stories, and radio news programs fascinates me. As offended as I am by the whole thing. And as much as I can't stomach the lack of journalistic integrety it takes for some tool to be a puppet for a company, I can't get enough of seeing interesting ways people come up with pulling it off. I like it almost as much as I like reading about when they get busted trying to do it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I swear to god...

When I first glanced at this headline on CNN my brain saw:

"Some see Virgin Mary in underpants stain"



http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/04/20/mary.underpass.ap/index.html

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Signs that something is wrong

When you can drive less than 20 miles in 40 minutes, on the highway, and think "hey, I made pretty good time today".

When you're out alone in the middle of the woods, and you think "man, I *never* get to hear silence like this". Then you realize you're not hearing silence, you're hearing the constant white-noise of the highway a mile away, or the airplanes far overhead, as they take off from the airport 10 miles away.

:(

Monday, April 18, 2005

Deadwood FPM

Ha! I love this show. It's nice that some people are still doing research on the important things:

"The Number of Fucks In Deadwood"

While we're on the subject, here are a couple of other links about the show:

Info on the Pinkertons

The reality vs. fiction of Deadwood. Surprisingly, there's a lot more fact than I had expected.
Happy trails, happy gear

I got out early Saturday to ride the new trails at Wakefield. All I can say is...WOW! IMBA/MORE/JoeP and all the volunteers did an amazing job reworking that park! I've been riding there for over 4 years now, and I don't recognize where I am when I'm on the new trails. You can't see any old trails, you're not confused into taking the wrong path. You've got no desire to try and find the old trails cuz the new ones are so much better. Plus you get a couple of boardwalks to play BC-stylie on. Very impressive. I only wish I could say I was out there helping build them a month or two ago. I'd have been proud to be part of that.

While talking about biking, I just have to say that I got my first flat in 3+ yeas on my Hutchenson Green Tubes. This says a lot coming from a 220-250lb guy riding a full rigid singlespeed. I punish my wheels/tires/tubes. Anyway, in years past, I've hit a curb so hard I cracked a rim without pinching these tubes. On a ride last week, I had too little air in the rear tire and hit something. Whatever I hit, it was hard enough to tear the sidewall of my tire. Still, my Green tubes got only a pin-hole leak and I was able to limp back to the parking lot without totally flatting. Threw on a glueless patch, and I'm back in business. These things are golden. I gotta go buy a couple more now, for spares. I think over three years on a $24 pair of tubes is pretty good. I can't put a dollar value on all the time I didn't spend fixing flats trail-side.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Photography goodness

Ben, the brains behind eighteenpercent.net (I'm just an HTML fanboy) has updated the pages so you can now comment on each image. So, if there was an image that you particularly loved, or hated, hit the site and speak your mind. I'm really interested in what people think is "good" vs. what they think is "bad". I usually have very different opinions of my work than the girl does. She'll love something I think is "eh" quality, but I'll love something she'll not be thrilled about.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Another ride

Met up with DT and Lee (and another guy who's name I forget) last night to do a ride around the Colt's Neck loop. Left from the Reston ice rink, wound our way around a bigass loop passing through parts of Lake Fairfax park and following the CCT trail, then ended up at the W&OD. Then we spun the last couple of miles back to the parking lot. Finished the ride in a little over an hour (my fastest time doing the loop, I think). It turns out the ride is just about 10 miles, not the 7 miles I thought it was.

This is the same loop we rode last week with the GPS tracking us. I took the waypoints and imported them into the coolest GPS/mapping program in the whole world...Quakemap. I then took 13 screen captures of Quakemap screens, pasted them as individual layers in Gimp and made them into a bigass map of the ride. The original file is over 3MB, so here's a super shrunken down/compressed (and recompressed) version:



For scale, the grey, wavy line that runs from east to west at about the middle of the image is the Dulles Toll Road. An 8 lane highway.

If you're interested in the full size version, email me and I'll send you a copy. The full sized image follows the trail closley. I cut out a lot of the woodsy stuff in the middle of the image, to save on size and processing time. (When processing the original 13 layer image in Gimp, I was using something over 360MB of RAM).

-gary

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Quickie

Not much time for blog updates lately. Here's a quick wrap-up:

Saturday: went to mom's house and did yard work. Some other stuff prolly happened, but I'm not remembering it right now.

Sunday: was supposed to do a ride at Gambrill with a bunch of old friends, but my kid had a lacrosse game, so I had to miss the ride. Took the fancy camera to the lax game and realized being a sports photographer is harder than it looks. After the lax game, the kid, the girl and I did a short ride around Burke Lake. Not too strenuous, but definitely a nice time.

Monday night: met up with DT, Spearman and a few others for a ride around Wakefield and Accotink. DT and I managed to get separated from the rest of the group, so we ended up tooling around Accotink for a while. Eventually got back to Wakefield where the others managed to coax me into doing a "quick lap" on the new trials (in the dark, by this point). The trails are incredible, but by the time I was done...I was done. Can't wait to get back and try the new trails out in the daylight, when I can enjoy them more and not wonder what hideous thing I'm about to slam into with each turn. It was a great ride. I'm guessing 12-14 miles total (based on Spearman's ride length).

Tuesday: finally replaced my 2.5 year old cell phone with a fancy new one. Enough pieces had broken off of the old one that I felt justified in doing so. Being the elite photowannabe guy, I had to get a phone with a camera...even if it is a crappy 640x480 (307,200 pixel?) model. The 1.2 megapixel cams are still a couple of hundred bucks, and I can't really justify that. Anyway, I spent the first couple of hours with this phone the same way I spend my first couple of hours with any new Dell computer at work: deleting 95% of the shit they install on there. I mean, really...who wants some f*cking googoogaagaa baby noise ringtone? Anybody? I doubt it. What about a hundred of these stupid little cube freak icons? Anybody? I didn't think so. With a whopping 6MB of space on my phone, each byte is precious. I don't appreciate it when they install 2.5MB of shit. Then, on top of that, at least 1.5MB of useless shit is "protected" and can't be deleted. I hate it when people feed me shit I don't want and don't let me get rid of it. It's not like it's even branded shit, like a SonyEricsson logo icon or something. Just some random cube freak icons and some random sounds can't be deleted. So SonyEricsson have decided for me how to best use 1.5MB of my 6MB storage on the phone.

Good thing I have 30 days to dump it if I really get annoyed with it.

Wednesday night: supposed to be meeting up with a couple of people to get another ride in. Hopefully I'll be back in some kind of respectable riding condition one day soon. I'm tired of being the fat kid/boat anchor.