Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Weekend shooting

I managed to get away to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge just south of Cambridge, MD this past weekend. First time there since last October. I really dig that place. Since it was my first time out there in a long while, I decided to mini-splurge and rent a $1300 Canon 100-400mm "L" lens. Wish I could have *really* splurged and bought that *ucker!

Being winter, there wasn't a whole lot of activity, but I did manage to get a few shots of the locals (click on the images below to see the full-sized version):

This bald eagle took off from his perch on the top branch and came straight towards me...

...before looping around and giving me a couple of nice fly-bys. (Interesting to note the different intensity of the blue sky. These shots were taken seconds apart, but at different angles to the sun. I'm guessing that's why one is blue-blue and the other is washed-out-blue.

On the other side of the refuge I found this juvenile bald eagle hanging out in the tree.

And this endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel with a mouth full of leaves for the nest (s)he was building.

Yet another eagle flyby.

In what was to be the second worst missed opportunity of the weekend, I nearly caught this eagle in an aptly-named "Klingon Bird of Prey" pose. If only the focus would have locked (operator error).

However, by far the worst missed opportunity of the weekend came Sunday morning. I got to the refuge late (about 8:30am) and took a drive through. Not seeing much going on, I decided to roam the MD countryside for a while. When I returned, Wildlife Drive (the main loop through the refuge) was closed. I went to the visitor's center to ask why. Turns out there was an injured bald eagle in the refuge, and the head ranger and a vet were going to try and capture it so they could take it to an eagle rehab facility. I asked if there was any way she (the woman I was talking to...who was wearing a ranger outfit) could get me in to the refuge to act as an official photographer for them. I told her it could make a really cool PR piece for the refuge. I said I'd stay well out of the way, and I'd do whatever the ranger said to. I also offered them full rights to any shots I got. She thought it sounded like a good idea, and called the head ranger on his cell phone to ask if it wold be possible. Unfortunately, the overly-litigious society did me in. He said that due to "liability reasons", it wouldn't be possible. I told him (through her) that I promised I wasn't one of those idiots who sued other people when I did dumb things and hurt myself (and I'd told my family to behave the same way if I managed to kill myself). And I offered to sign anything they put in front of me as a permission slip/waiver of liability/whatever. Sadly, he wouldn't budge. He said "maybe if I'd have been a volunteer". So I asked where to sign up. Roadblocked again...the woman who handles the volunteer sign-ups worked Monday through Friday. Damn!

So, instead of hanging around the visitor's center for an unknown amount of time, I decided to drive out to the far side of the refuge and see what I could find (which is where I got the juvenile bald eagle seen above). A decent shot, but not nearly as cool as what could have been.

Needless to say, I have the volunteer information open in a web browser as I type. The next time I'm at the refuge and there's an injured bald eagle rescue going on, I'll be set!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Search *this*, asshat

Thanks to DT for pointing out this article on retailers searching *your* property after you've made a purchase and before you've left *their* store. Well worth the read, especially around this time of year. As the great Nancy Reagan once said..."Just Say No". Oh, and don't shop at Wal-Mart. They're truly evil.

The author is man after my own heart. I've said the same things they say in the article time and time again.

Friday, November 03, 2006

VA Voting Shenanigans

This freaked me out a little. And it doesn't seem to be getting too much press (at least that I've seen). Perhaps I'm just overly sensitive.

An article in the Online Journal says:

"What is being called a "glitch" by Hart InterCivic spokespersons, three cities in Virginia -- Alexandria (my note: population 128,283 in 2000), Falls Church (pop. 10,377 in 2000) and Charlottesville (pop. 45,049 in 2000)-- will not properly display (~Democrat) Jim Webb's name on the November ballot summary screen. Voters will only see 'James H. "Jim"' on the ballot, instead of 'James H. "Jim" Webb'.

To make matters worse, the candidates will have "their party affiliations . . . cut off". To put some perspective and clarity to this, in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville, Virginia, voters will not be able to recognize Jim Webb by his full name OR by his party's affiliation!"

Those of us who live in VA know that those 6-year-old census numbers have done nothing but skyrocket since they were recorded. So the number of voters seeing incorrect (or incomplete) information on their ballots is going to be significantly higher than the 183,709 recorded in '00. Nice. The last couple of elections have been won and lost by what...27...maybe 30 votes? 100k shouldn't matter at all...right?

While on the subject, did anybody happen to catch HBO's "Hacking Democracy" last night about the ultra creepyness of the Diebold voting machines? Scary stuff. I only watched a few minutes of it (but I recorded it for later viewing pleasure), but I have to say the ease with which they were tampered was startling.

Edited to change my population data. Evidently I used the total population of VA (7+ million). Duh. The data has been corrected. However, my point still stands. With a race that came down to 6,000 votes (as of last night), that 100k+ still could make or break somebody. I guess we'll see after all of the the recounts and lawsuits are done.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Canon 20d: The autopsy

The autopsy is complete.

All of the photos (and any clever comments I could muster) can be seen here:

I have to say, I agree with Canon's diagnosis. There was no saving this patient. It's amazing. The camera didn't get all that wet in the accident, but that didn't stop death and destruction from raining down on all the little internal bits.

Thanks to this place for hosting the PDF parts catalog with exploded 20D which I used as a step by step deconstruction manual:

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Canon 20D; The obituary.

After dunking my faithful 20D in the ocean a few weeks back, I decided to send it to Canon and see if it was fixable. At first they quoted me $300 for the repair, based on (I guess) my description of the problem.

So I sent the camera in, hopeful. After receiving it and actually looking at the guts, they determined there was "Severe liquid damage to the internal parts. Cost
of repair is equal to replacement value. Unit is beyond economical
repair. We are, therefore, returning your equipment to you un-repaired"
. I received the dead unit back today.

Bummer. Good thing there I had "Idiot Insurance".

So, on to "Plan B", I suppose. Dissection of the 20D as described here (note: it's a PDF):

It probably won't accomplish much besides satisfying my curiosity of what lies inside the little magic black box. But there's not much else to do with it at this point. An who knows, maybe with some rinsing in tap water, something will revive. I know, doubtful. It's far more likely I'll end up with a dozen little zip-lock bags of parts. (I plan on putting one PDF-page-worth of dissected parts per zip-lock bag, so reassembly is at least theoretically possible. Theoretically.

Monday, October 23, 2006


This post is like one of those episodes of "Lost" where they summarize the whole season in a single hour...

Aiight, many weeks (months?) since my last post. Busy beyond reason. Here's my "season summary":

--Finished the planning of, and participated in, the perfect wedding to the perfect girl (awww). Complete with slideshow.

--Went on a 10 day honeymoon to Maui. Vacation...fantastic. 12 hours in the airplane each way...not so much. But it was a good enough reason for me to buy a fancy new iPod. Welcome to 2001. I love the bleeding edge.

--Biked down a volcano on a too-small 60lb beachcomber while wearing a bigass motorcycle helmet.

--Snorkled with sea turtles

--Watched the sunset (and sunrise...different days) from the top of a 10,000' volcano.

--Saw a sugarcane harvest, where they flash-burn acres of sugarcane fields creating mushroom clouds (and tons of smoke and soot all over the island).

--Saw the grave of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh on the absolute ass-end of Maui (but oh, what a scenic ass-end it is!).

--Snorkeled at Molokini...extra cool, half-eroded volcanic crater just off of Maui.

--3 or 4 days into the trip, I dunked my 20D in the Pacific right about here, killing it. Worst part about it is that I had to spend the remaining week of our trip with an extra-crappy semi-underwater point-and-shoot. The resulting shots were not pretty. Anyway, here's the final shot (at least it was a nice one). My girl, in the rain, in front of a rainbow while stopped along the Hana Highway in NE Maui. Shot number 16,932. Only two years old. Last frame of the 20D. Farewell, friend.

--Filed an insurance claim for my soggy camera.

--Bought a new 30D. Hello, new friend!

--Did tons of other fantastic, touristy things on Maui, but I can't remember any more. Besides, my eyes are going crossed from looking at this computer screen all day.

--Came back to an office moving in two weeks (that was two weeks ago).

--Moved the office this past weekend. Including new phone system, new phone service, new network hardware, and countless glitches. Today was the first day back for the users. Oh man. I need a vacation.

Monday, September 04, 2006


'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin dead.

I guess if you gotta check out, doing what you love while snorkling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is an OK way to go.

I was never a huge fan, but if I was bored lying on the couch on a rainy Saturday afternoon and I happened across "The Crocodile Hunter", I'd watch for a bit. He definitely did a lot for the conservation movement, and his help in that field will be greatly missed, I fear.

The Crocodile Hunter was the second (as far as I know) of the "Hey, there's something creepy and slimy in that dark hole in the rock-face, I'm gonna jam my arm in there and pull whatever it is out!" naturalists, and I like that (as, obviously, did a great many fans around the world). It was much more interesting to me than the "We're sitting in our Land Rover with our cameras and 800mm zoom lenses shooting video of a lion a mile away taking down a zebra" style.

The first and foremost "creepy thing in the hole...let's grab it" naturalists was (is?) the great Aussie Harry Butler. Harry hosted a show in the 70s called "In the Wild with Harry Butler". I caught it two decades later in re-runs, but it hadn't lost any of it's charm. Harry looked like an outback hermit,

and he would do the creepiest shit (for example, swim in a water hole with a bigass croc and a decomposing kangaroo corpse...cuz it was the only water for 100 miles, and he was hot). Since the first day I had internet access, I've searched for tidbits of info on Harry and "In the Wild" with no luck (literally, zero results). It's probably been a year or two since I last looked, and in looking again, it's nice to see there is a bit more info on him now (thanks to Wikipedia and everything2). There was an entry on Harry on Wikipedia, but nothing for "In The Wild" specifically, so I created a brief blurb. Hopefully I, or someone else, will be able to flesh [thanks Ben] out the article in the future.

Anyway. I've gotten off-topic. The point of this post was mainly to say "Farewell, Steve". Your acting was a bit over-the-top, but your contributions to the conservation movement will be missed.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The saga ends

For the last week or two, I've been fighting with my truck, trying to get it to pass an emissions test so I could re-register it (due today, naturally). (I won't even get into how much of a scam the emissions testing process is for modern vehicles. Let's just say that they no longer sniff your exhaust and get an actual check of the output of your truck, they just read your computer and get a theoretical check of what the output of your truck *may be*. So when my truck was throwing error codes that probably had nothing to do with it's actual output, they failed me. But anyway...I said I wasn't going to get into it). Last night, with DT's help, I finally got the last bits fixed and got the error codes cleared. Today, I took it back and had it re-tested. It passed. *Whew*.

So I went to the DMV website to re-register and decided to treat myself to some license plate fun. I registered a fancy plate with a personalized message...

Basically it says "Dead F*ckin' Last singlespeed" baby! Which is where I typically finish every ride. No sense setting your sights too high. You might let yourself down.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

f/8 and BE THERE!

The f/8 part is easy. It's the BE THERE that stumps me most often.

Last night, 'round midnight, they blew up a section of the old Woodrow Wilson Bridge here in DC. I thought it might have had the potential to be a cool photo op. I debated heading down to shoot it, knowing there might not be a good vantage point for us non-credentialed-journalists to shoot from. So I bailed on the idea. I should have at least tried. I'm so lame.

So, instead of seeing photos of what I may have gotten, here's a shot that a credentialed photographer from the Washington Times got:

(Click the photo to go to the Wash Times story on the demolition.)

On the Wash Post's site there is a cool, short Shockwave movie of the demolition as it happens. The page with the link to the movie is here

From the looks of both the video and still photo, there must have been a press room set up in one of the apartments right next to the highway. I gotta get me some o' them credential things.

Be there. Be there. Be there. Be there. It sounds so easy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Baby steps are better than no steps

A couple of weeks back, I mentioned that my buddy Michael from Speedgoat Cycles in PA wanted to use one of my photos of him from Lodi in an ad for their shop. Well, the ad is out in the latest issue of Dirt Rag (Issue 123).

As thanks for the photo, Michael was kind enough to send me a copy of the mag, a Speedgoat shirt, and a couple of pair of bike socks. Actual payment (of sorts) for a photo. That almost makes me a professional, doesn't it? Time to update that resume!

In other, similar "Holy crap that's my photo in print" news, local racer, rider and writer Joel Gwadz had his story published in the free Mid-Atlantic cycling mag "Spokes". The story was about the recent Wednesdays at Wakefield race series and was accompanied by a couple of my shots of the racers (like this one of the author). Visit a local bike shop and grab your today!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Photography stuff I learned yesterday

Yesterday Ben and I got on the subject of flash photography. (In my humble opinion, photography has about as much in common with flash-photography as snow skiing does with rodeo-clowning. Anyawy...). We started discussing high-speed synch flash work. I explained how I *thought* it worked, but had to admit...I had no proof to back up my idea. So I did some Googling[tm] and came up with the following web site. It seems to explain the reasons I wasn't happy with many of my Wednesdays @ Wakefield mountain bike race photos. For many of them, I was seeing blur in the riders, so I'd up the shutter speed (beyond the 1/250 synch speed). Instead of freezing the action more, it actually blurred it. I never really *got* why until now.

This site offered some nice insights that I thougth I'd pass along. The most important points of the site (for me, anyway) are:

"...there is a somewhat widespread misunderstanding that high speed sync would be useful for stopping motion in action photography. Since it's called "high speed sync", it seems reasonable on the surface to presume that it would be good for photographing objects moving at high speed. But this is not the case. "


"With ordinary flash, the first curtain of the shutter opens fully, and then the flash electronically turns on and off, faster than any mechanical shutter could possibly open and close. Finally, the second shutter covers up the film."


"The problem with "high speed sync" for action photos is that it works by making the flash slow down. Since the camera's shutter can't open fully in less time than its max normal sync speed, the film can't be exposed all at once at high shutter speeds. Exposure must be controlled by the shutter's slit traveling across the film, exposing different parts of the film successively. Instead of giving one almost-instantaneous burst of light, the flash gives a sequence of many pulses of light, approximating a continuous light source during the time the shutter is open."

So there you go. A 2 minute primer on high-speed synch flash photography. Hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

My first Flickr set

I've had this idea for a series of photos for a few months now. Something I hoped would be unique. (Ha! Note to self...there is no "unique" anymore. Everything cool has already been done at least once...probably more. And 640k of RAM is all anyone will ever need). Anyway, I just recently started taking the photos for this series, and I've posted the first few on my Flickr site.

The photos are of those temporary roadside memorials you sometimes find at accident sites. Where someone has been killed in an car (occasionally bicycle...coming soon) crash, and their family and friends erect a DIY monument to the person. I love the uniqueness of the monuments. The complexity and creativity of some. And the fleetingness; The fact that at any time, the highway administration can (and probably will) remove them. I thought it would be cool to start capturing them and putting them somewhere people could (hopefully) appreciate them after they've been removed.

I'm not a 100% fan of Flickr yet. I don't really like the interface (tho, the changes they've made recently are an improvement). However, this series lends itself to the tagging/grouping/pooling/Flickr way of doing things more than it did the pbase way of doing things. Additionally, there was already a flickr group set up for photos of temporary monuments, so I figured I could add mine to that and perhaps get seen by more folks.

Capturing the images is often an adventure in itself. Last weekend, the girl and I took a roadtrip up to western MD. Lots of unfamiliar highway randomly dotted with unexpected monuments. Often you'd find yourself barreling along at 70mph, only to see a makeshift memorial along the roadside (invariably, in a place where there was no shoulder to pull off). You'd have to beeline for the shoulder as quickly (and safely...usually) as possible, pull the car as far off the highway as you could, then hike back along the highway 1/4 mile to the monument site.

I made a point of dropping a waypoint in my GPS at most memorial sites, so in the description of each photo on Flickr, you'll be able to see the coordinates of where the shot was taken (accurate to within a couple of hundred yards, cuz the GPS was in the car, not necessarily with me on the hike back to the monument itself). Copy and paste these numbers into the all-powerful Google Maps and you'll be able to see where each monument is. I figure that should keep you entertained for a few minutes.

I have a few more waypoints of monuments I wasn't able to stop and shoot. Hopefully one day soon I'll get back out to them and photograph them...before they're gone.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Doing my (small) part

So I just made my first real edit to a Wikipedia article. But of course I forgot to log in, so I don't actually get credit for it on my little "my contributions" page on the site. So you poor suckers have to hear about it here.

The article is about John Wilkes Booth. Having grown up in Clinton, MD (formerly Surrattsville, MD), and having graduated (just barely) from Surrattsville HS (which sits about 1/10 mile from the historic Surratt house/tavern), I think it's an appropos article to chime in on.

I read this morning that Booth's childhood home had been purchased by the county in which it stands in order to keep it as a(n?) historic site. So I added this bit of info to his page.

The part about the house previously read:

"The house still stands today and is no longer open for visitation after being sold as a private home."

to which I added:

"However, it was recently purchased by Harford County, MD and is expected to become a memorial to the Booth family and their influence on Shakespearean acting in 18th century America."

A much-improved bit of knowledge-spreadin' compared to my last Wikipedia contribution.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Another from the "People who just don't get the irony" department

On the way to work today (in my very red state), I saw a car with a "Dissent is disloyal" bumper sticker.

If "dissent" is disloyal, then I guess they'd really have a problem with a group of people rising up against their leader.

And imprisoning him.

And putting him on trial for all of the crimes he's committed.


Wonder if they've ever heard of a little place called Iraq?

Maybe "disloyal" is relative to which side of the fence you're standing on.

Friday, August 04, 2006


...I am an idiot.

I saw the following headline on

and my first thought...I swear to god...was "Fuck, that's a long way to walk".

Just for a second.

Ok, on a positive note...

At least I'm not *this* big of an idiot...

Again from

A quick poll produced the following reactions from the public:

"Who exactly gives a fuck?" said 99.986% of the people in America.



Seriously, CNN. Stop wasting the electrons of my LCD display printing that useless shit on the screen please.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

W@W #4 photos

My Wednesdays at Wakefield race #4 photos are up. Not my favorite set. I still have a lot to learn. I got a ton of images perfectly focused on the foliage 5' behind the riders. I think it was because I was trying to trust my camera's focus system to track the rider automatically. Never again.

Anyway, the photos are here. Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram. (5 bonus points to the first person to ID the song and artist of the preceeding lyric). If you want a full-sized image, let me know and I'll see what I can do. A lot of the images are OK web-sized, but may look nasty full sized.

A huge thanks to the racers who thanked me for taking photos. I found it pretty funny that they'd thank me for something I really enjoy doing. But it was nice to hear. Also another huge thanks to the folks who stopped to talk and thank me at length before and after their races. Definitely an ego booster.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Half Credit

In trying to get my mountain bike race photos into the hands of as many racers as possible, I spoke with Potomac Velo people (who organize the Wednesdas @ Wakefield race series). They asked that I send them links to my shots, and they'd post them on the official web site. Well, I did...and they did. Sorta...

Unfortunately, the way they have it worded on their home page, it looks like Pete is a fantastically prolific photographer:

"See photos from races 1 & 2. Thanks to Pete Toscano.
More photos are available: June 22; July 19; July 26"

I've written them asking that they add my name. Hopefully they will.

I'll be back out there tonight to catch the final W@W for '06.


Man! Talk about service! Between the time I started this blog post this morning, and a few minutes ago when I actually hit "publish", the kind folks at PVC updated the web site to include the credit. Yay PVC! Thanks guys!

"See photos from races 1 & 2. Thanks to Pete Toscano.
More photos are available courtesy of Gary Ryan: June 22; July 19; July 26"

Friday, July 28, 2006


Happy SysAdmin's Day!

To all the nerds who keep our internets' tubes free of clogs, I salute you!

For a full explanation of your internets and it's tubes, check this Daily Show clip on It's a good one.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

W@W v3.0

I posted my shots from last night's Wednesdays at Wakefield race (#3 in the series):


As usual, in the interest of time, they're unprocessed , uncropped, and only quickie-resized so the quality isn't the greatest. If you see something you like shoot me an email (gmr2048 at yahoo dot com) and I can get you a full sized (possibly better quality) version.

Thanks to the couple of guys who came up and complimented me on the photos and the gallery. It's good to know people are enjoying my "work" (if you can call it that).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My only friend...the end

I have seen the end of the human race (at least in car-centric cultures). And it's produced by JVC. Witness the in-dash DVD player, complete with screen...for the driver who has everything!

The first to go will be the cyclists and pedestrians who are unlucky enough to share the same roads as drivers with their new DVD players and a fresh copy of "Meet the Fockers". They'll be run down like so many squirrels on suburban streets in the springtime.

The only hope, I suppose, is that drivers with their new in-dash DVD players will run headlong into inanimate objects and off themselves before they have the opportunity to squash me (and my ilk).

One final irony. In the print ad for this unit (which is where I first saw it), the movie shown on the screen is not "Pink Panther", but "Final Destination", as if they know what they've wrought.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

W@W #2

(I've titled this one "Log? What log?")

I spent the evening feeding the bugs at Wakefield last night, shooting the second "Wednesdays at Wakefield" race. The unprocessed, batch-resized shots are available here:

As always, if you see something you like, let me know and I *may* be able to get you a larger/better copy.

This race was almost a month delayed due to rains, and the amount of daylight I had to work with showed it...especially in the woods. Keeping the shutter speed up, while not having a 1/4" depth of field, or image noise the size of my head was a chore. As a result, I think I had far fewer "keepers" than the first race. Also, my Sigma flash is (still!) causing me nothing but headache. It locks up. It stops firing. It goes into some infinite-loop zoom thing. In short, it's a piece of shit. I contacted Sigma and they were aware of problems like this; They said I should send it back. That's the plan, but it's difficult trying to plan out when I'll not need a flash for a few weeks. No matter when I send it, it's going to affect my ability to shoot...specifically, the next few W@W races, and the upcoming Cranky Monkey races. Hopefully the Monkey races will be less affected, since I think those run in the daytime, as opposed to W@W's evening start time.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Photo news

My rapid rise to world-famous professional photographer has begun! Stand clear and watch my ascent with big googly eyes of awe. Or something.

A buddy works for Speedgoat Bicycles up in PA. They use photos taken by shop employees in their print ads. Since my buddy is usually the guy taking the pics, he's rarely in them (damned physics). Anyway, he asked if he could use my shot of him at the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm race in one of their ads in an upcoming Dirt Rag mag. Being a shameless attention whore, I of course said yes. Here's the result:

Also on the photography front, I had a local rider (a friend-of-friends) ask if he could submit some of my photos along with a story he's writing for a cycling rag. Not sure how hard it is to get stories accepted, so good luck to him. I'll post more if/when I hear whether or not the story will run.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

It seems's RSS feed has been down for a while, so I'll play the role of human RSS aggregator and present you with some of my recent faves:

<@Witchlord> omg
<@Witchlord> I just thought of a website that I had to go to
<@Witchlord> and then for some reason went to hotmail instead, when I havent needed to go to hotmail in over 5 years
<@Witchlord> and my first thought was "holy shit, i drove home this drunk?"


<@Mod> So, how many are you inviting?
<@Ned> Dunno. I'll check the random number generator.
<@Ned> Oh. It says 22345780
<@Ned> We're gonna have to get more dip.


<@AsPHy> if you could torrent hardware it would be awesome
<@Doitle> If we disregard logic, we can do all kinds of fun things!


<@omg its zack wtf> my math teacher staples burger king applications to failed tests


<@Zybl0re> get up
<@Zybl0re> get on up
<@Zybl0re> get up
<@Zybl0re> get on up
<@phxl|paper> and DANCE
* nmp3bot dances :D-<
* nmp3bot dances :D|-<
* nmp3bot dances :D/-<
<@HatfulOfHollow> i'm going to become rich and famous after i invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face over the internet


One of these days, I'll post something meaningful or something.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dear God,

Enough already!



Thursday, June 22, 2006

2 fat 2 race

My shots from the first Wednesdays at Wakefield race are up.

I managed to shoot 475 photos in about 2 hours (weeded down to 423 for your viewing pleasure). Take a look and let me know if you find any of yourself. I have larger/better quality copies of most images.

The quality of these thumbnails is a bit lacking. I batch-processed them; resized, and rotated (where necessary). The full sized images should look substantially better. Shoot me an email if you see something you want a copy of. gmr2048 at

Please post the above link to all the usual locations (blogs, MTBR board, MORE board, etc). If you want to use the photos anywhere, please let me know first. If it's an online location, a link back to my gallery would be nice so other riders can find shots of themselves. Plus...I like to see my name in lights, as it were.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In retrospect, my timing could have been better

Monday, 6pm: Donate a double-shot of red blood cells at my local hospital.

Tuesday 7am: Bike the 8-9 miles into work. At the top of both of the "big" climbs, fight the desire to go fetal and take a nap on the gravel on the side of the trail. Once at work, fight the desire to go fetal and take a nap in the shower stall (private shower stall, that is. Don't go getting any funny ideas).

Unexpected bonus: I've now got this cool three-martini-lunch kinda light headed feeling going on.

Side note: I think my local Red Cross is going to start getting my blood donation business. A while back, Ben gave blood with the Red Cross and got this very cool olive green Red Cross t-shirt (the design may be slightly different, but it's close). Me? I donate this super cool double-red-cell donation (all the nurses made it out to be a big deal), and end up getting the lamest t-shirt ever. Some cutsey "blood buddy" thing with two blood drop creatures holding hands and dancing around. Frankly, I could never wear it out of the house. I'm not secure enough in my manhood for that. Furthermore, this "blood buddy" mascot straight-up scares the shit outta me.

I could have held out for the weekend when they are giving away a "Kiss the Donor" kitchen apron, but if I'm going to get free gear when donating blood, I'd like it to be usable gear. A apron doen't fit into that category. And, yes, I know it's not about donating to get free stuff. This isn't college. I'm not selling bodily fluids for beer money (anymore). But, if they want to give away free stuff, I'm not gonna say no.

Monday, June 12, 2006

*Just* missing the point

The girl and I went to a restaurant for dinner tonight. Not a four-star, high-brow gourmet grub joint, but a well known national chain. On the bottom of one of the pages of the menu was the notice:

"An optional 18% gratuity will be added for parties of 8 or more".

Er, what?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Are you f*cking kidding me?

In what is at once the most funny and fucked up explanation (spin) I have ever EVER heard, a military official had this to say about Saturday's three suicides at US the military prison at Guantánamo Bay:

"They are smart, they are creative, they are committed," Admiral Harris said. "They have no regard for life, neither ours nor their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

Wait, wait, wait. So the enemy is now waging war against us by killing themselves?? That's fantastic news! All we have to do now is sit back and watch it happen!! Maybe Bush knew more about war than we thought after all.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Fun for the whole family

I love On their home page, they have headlines of videos you can watch, followed by a "try it free" or "watch now" tag line. Often, when you take the headline along with the "try it free" part, you get some inappropriate sounding "offers". Like "Man shoves entire six-pack up rectum. Watch now!". I'm going to start saving them and posting them, just for fun.

The first:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Henrico County School System

Proving that it is still quite probably the dumbest fucking school system on the planet...the Henrico County VA school system suspended a kid (and kicked him off of the baseball team) for eating a cookie from a spilled cookie jar in the school kitchen.

For those who don't remember Henrico County's rise to the throne of "Dumbass-est School System on the Planet", allow me to refresh your memory:

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

The only reason I made this post is that I saw the county name and thought "Hrm, they're still being dumbasses. I should point that out to somebody". Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's official, it's quantifiable

According to a story on CNN, MD drivers are dumber than VA drivers.

DC still takes the "Dumbest Drivers in the Region, and Nearly the Nation" award. You could have fooled me. I'd have sworn MD drivers were the dumbest on the planet. I don't think I've seen one on the highway in weeks who knew where the turn signal was. And why oh why, do so many MD drivers feel the need to go 56mph in the left lane?

(Note to my MD readers, I'm not saying all MD drivers are bad, just that the vast majority of bad drivers I've seen in the last few years have had MD plates).

The test is currently offline, but I'm hoping it is back up soon. I'm interested to see how I score.


Edit to add, if you hit this link, it should take you to the test, even tho the main page still says it's down. Strange. Good luck!


Friday, May 26, 2006

A game

I think I need to make a game for this blog. I'll give you a movie description from my digital cable's guide service, you have to figure out the movie. Ready? Go!

Description: "[title character] and flying cyborg Jet Jaguar meet a giant cockroach and a big black chicken sent by Seatopians."


Thursday, May 25, 2006


It took a little while, but it's nice to see that Team Bike Works' official "12 Hours of Lodi Farm" page has finally put up my photo credit and link. Not sure if anybody will look at the page again until next year's race. Oh well. Next year, maybe I'll try to work something out with them in advance. Hopefully by then, I'll have better flash photography skillz.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tour Sponsorship: From Apropos to WTF?

Reading the weekend section of my local paper, I come across upcoming local concert info. Two things catch my eye:

From Apropos:

Pop tarts...sorry, that should be "'Pop-Tarts' presents American Idols Live Tour 2006".

To the tour that should be called "WTF Has Become Of Us Live Tour 2006":

VH1 Classic presents Ministry and the Revolting Cocks live at the 930 Club.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Uncle! I surrender! Whatever you want to call it, I'm done working on photos from the 2006 "12 Hours of Lodi Farm" race. Fin.

The first 130 images, I individually post-processed (resized, cropped, adjusted brightness (if necessary), adjusted sharpness (after the resize), cloned out unwanted spectators a couple of times). They can be seen here.

For the final 76 images, I simply batch-resized then posted them. No sharpening. No brightening. No cropping. Presented "As Is" for your viewing pleasure. They can be found by clicking this link, or by clicking on the red tricycle image on the last page of the Lodi gallery.

In addition to all that, I was contacted by a number of racers for whom I (gladly!) worked-up full sized images of themselves. (I love knowing that people enjoy my work). But had I spent the time to post those last 76 images, the race would have been long forgotten.

Anyway, pass the word. If any racers find shots of themselves and want larger/better copies, have them email me (gmr2048 at gmail dot com) and I'll see what I can do.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006


...the f*ck has gotten into this country? Don't we live here because of freedom or something? Somebody needs to mention that to these folks:

The first:
BLACK JACK, Mo. (AP) - The city council has rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together, and the mayor said those who fall into that category could soon face eviction.

That sounds vaguely familiar. "Well, we used to throw you out cuz yer brown. Now we're gonna throw you out cuz yer not livin' the way the Good Lord intended".

The next example of stupidness run amok is:
"...judge jails 14-year-old"


"The teen, jailed since Wednesday, insists she is not a sex abuse victim and is demanding a lawyer be assigned to represent her, court records show.

However, jail officials said Monday she cannot speak with anyone without permission from county prosecutors."

Will she be "safer" in jail? Perhaps. The kid doesn't sound like she's ready to make decisions by herself yet (regardless if she's of legal age or not). But I would think that by putting her in jail against her will, she should have the right to talk to an attorney.

And finally, a couple from the "well, of course photography = terrorism, dumbass" department...

A NJ lawmaker wants to criminalize taking photos of power-plants and other sensitive infrastructure (via BoingBoing):
The [NJ] state Senate Law and Public Safety Committee is expected to discuss a bill today which would make it a crime -- punishable by up to 18 months in jail -- to photograph, videotape or otherwise record for an extended period of time a power generation, waste treatment, public sewage, water treatment, public water, nuclear or flammable liquid storage facility, as well as any airport in the state.

And lastly, the organizers of the 5 Boros Bike Tour in NYC have a photo contest. Rule #1?

1. Photos must be taken on Tour Day, Sunday, May 7, 2006, and must relate to some aspect of the Tour. Taking photos on bridges or their access points is strongly discouraged in the interest of public safety. Any such photos will not be considered for prizes.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I've been spending a lot of time processing the hundreds of shots I took at the 2006 "12 Hours of Lodi Farm" mountain bike race (still have more than 200 to go through, too!). After I had the first few batches done and posted, I sent an email to the race organizers. Guess they liked my photos (at least one of them) cuz it made it onto the official Lodi homepage. Only drag is that they didn't credit me or provide a link or anything.

So I sent them an email, explaining that I'd like a credit and a link back to my pbase gallery for the race, cuz I figured other racers might want photos of themselves. They were nice enough and said they'd provide both. I'm hoping it happens sooner rather than later. One of these days, I'm gonna have to start charging for my services. Gotta pay off these camera parts somehow!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

So much for that

So I ran out of steam on the "Photo-a-Day" project. Who'd have guessed. It started to feel like a job (after only...what...8 days?). "". So that was passively abandoned.

I did manage to get down to Fredricksburg, VA for a couple of hours near sunrise this past Sunday for the "12 Hours of Lodi Farm" mountain bike race.

(Click the picture to see the the gallery of shots I've processed so far).

I hit this race last year, and got a lot of cool shots out of it. Although I only had a bit over 2 hours of shooting time this year, I was hoping for similar results.

As far as the photos go, I started off badly. Super-stoopid rookie mistakes. I was keeping shutter speed vs. focal length in mind while shooting, but not shutter speed vs. high-speed mountain bikers tear-assing past. Consequently, my first bunch o' shots suffered from too slow shutter speed (even with the use of my crappy flash). The little LCD on the camera didn't allow me to notice my mistakes. Thankfully, as the sun rose, the light got better and my shutter speed was able to increase a bit (for those who care, I was shooting mostly AV mode), so my later pics were better in terms of blur (and lack thereof). I ended up shooting something over 300 shots in two hours. Many of those have been/will be tossed. So far I've processed and posted ~56 shots (at the link above) and have probably another 100 to do. I'm not doing much post processing on them. Just a quick resize and "save for web". If anybody reading this happens to see a shot of themselves that they want, email me (gmr2048 at yahoo dot com) and I'll be happy to send you the full size image (if it's not crap).

So the next time I get delusions of grandure and start thinking I want to become a pro photographer, I'll come back and re-read this entry and realize just how far I have to go.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Shamelessly pimped myself (don't you just love recursive links?) and over in the comments at one of the photo/DIY blogs I read regularly, (he asked for it. I've not resorted to spamming just yet). Guess I need to come up with some new content now, huh.

It's coming.

I promise.

Wait for it.

Wait for it...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

That should teach me

No sooner do I post about trying to keep up this Photo-A-Day project, then I go two days without posting any photos.

To make up for my slacking, I've just posted two new pics (, if you've forgotten), and hopefully I'll be back on schedule from here on. At least for a couple of days.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Not much blogworthy going on at the moment. I've just passed day 8 of my Photo-a-day project on I never liked the idea of a PAD project, but having literally thousands of older images sitting on my hard drive doing nothing called for desperate measures. I figure this way, at least *some* of them will see the light of day *eventually*. So far, I'm pretty happy with the outcome, and I'm glad to have them out on display.

While on the photography subject, I found a couple of cool articles on photographer's rights. This started from a humorous BoingBoing post about a photographer getting hassled by a dimwitted buidling goon.

Somehow, I ended up on JPG Magazine's site, which had links to a cool USAToday article on photographer's rights. No, USAToday. They also linked to an NPR story on photographer's rights (which I haven't listened to yet), and a pretty well-known "Photographer's Rights" sheet by a laywer I believe is from the Portland area.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I posted a new image up to eighteenpercent. It's a shot I took out at the Ferrari dealership a few weeks back. The car is a Porsche Carrera GT. Their $450,000 answer to the $500,000+ Ferrari Enzo. It's a cool looking car, but not terribly practical.

When Ben set up for us, he envisioned it more as a photo-a-day (or photo-a-week) kinda site. I think I started out using it that way, but then, in my head, it evolved into more a gallery of my best/favorite images. Problem with that is that it allows me to avoid posting more often there. So I'm going to try to go back to the old ways. I'm gonna try and process and post one photo per night. Who knows if I'll be able to maintain that pace for any amount of time. But it should prompt me to go back and make progress (however slow) on some of the thousands of older photos I have sitting on my computer.

The additional upside is that my adoring fans will get to see more of my fabulous work.

...he said modestly.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pay Attention

I gotta pay more attention to news events going on locally. Lately I've missed a few good journalist-ish photo ops.

Last night, for example, the University of MD's women's basketball team won a game. Some big game, evidently. The finals, perhaps? Had I paid attention and thought it through, I could have gone over to College Park and waited. Everybody knows when your team wins (or loses) "the big game"™, the appropriate thing to do is riot. UMD fans were nice enough to oblige.

"Students and other fans set fires, threw bottles and tried to tip over a bus late last night after the University of Maryland's championship basketball game..."

Ah well. "...the rowdieness fell short of previous disorders". At least I didn't miss "the big one".

Instead, I spent some time processing pics of my kid's lacrosse game from last weekend. Not nearly as exciting as photographing a riot. Maybe I'll make the next one...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Crack o' friggin dawn

Drug my butt outta bed at 5:00 this morning to drive down to the tidal basin in DC. Rumor had it that today would be the start of the peak bloom for the Cherry Blossoms. Couple that with a good weather forecast and no winds, and you end up with a decent photo op.

What a madhouse! By the time I got there (at 5:30), about half of the parking spaces were taken in the paddle boat parking lot. By sunrise, the place was full. I'd guess that there were well over a hundred photographers (with tripods), and at least 4 morning news crews (with lights, vans, cables, satellite antenna, cameras, and pretty people with fancy hair), and some random large groups of high school aged kids (some was kinda weird).

I spent a fair amount of time when I first arrived wandering around looking for prime real estate. What made things more challenging was the bigass ugly grey box that the park service (I assume) decided to leave dead-center in front of the Jefferson Memorial:

(Click the photo for the for the full sized version. Note, this is ugly pre-dawn light and an unprocessed image taken specifically as a "look how ugly that thing is" image. Don't judge my maad photo skillz by this shot please.)

I'm guessing it's part of a stage; some piece of the Cherry Blossom Festival. Whatever it was, it made for some crappy photo opportunities. Here's hoping it gets moved before the peak bloom is over. (HEY PARK SERVICE...YOU LISTENING?)

Anyway. I managed to find an OK spot with foreground branches that would mostly obscure the grey monolith. I set up the tripod and waited for the good light.

Unfortunately, the cloudless sky didn't have much interesting color as the sun rose. I snapped away anyway with the film, digital and 3D cameras, occasionally turning my lens on my fellow photographers.

I browsed throught the digital shots I captured, and did some quicky-processing to this one. Hopefully, with a little more time invested, the final version will be a bit nicer. But here's a teaser:

(Click the photo blah blah blah).

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Beat

I had the chance to see The English Beat play in Annapolis last weekend. Before heading out to the event, I gave a call to the venu, the Ram's Head Tavern, to ask if they allowed cameras. They said it was up to the performer, and that The Beat was cool with it (no flash, however). Cool! So I took my camera, and my two fastest, bestest lenses and took shots from the crowd all night. (The Ram's Head is a seated, dinner-theater esque place, so shooting from our seats was pretty easy/fruitful).

The lighting was tough (as it is at most concerts). The lead singer, Dave Wakeling, (the only original member still in the band, I think) was well lit most of the night, but the other members of the band were usually hidden in shadows.

For the photo-nerds, I was shooting my 20D at ISO 3200 and f/2.8 all night. Even at that, I could have used more shutter speed, as a few of the shots are blurred. Post processing was mainly just cropping and resizing. I'm also trying to learn dodging and burning, so there was some occasional burning going on, to fade some stuff into the background. Anyway, take a look and let me know what you think.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Photo props

This past weekend, Ben (of fame) and I entered a local photography show and contest. At the time that we dropped off our submissions (3 hours before the cut-off), there were about 250 photos. By the time the show opened, I'd estimate (roughly) that there were probably 350-400 photos.

The photos were categorized by subject: Senic, Nature, Animals, B&W, Portrait, Photojournalism, and Digitally enhanced. I entered 5 photos (the max). Two in Nature, two in Animals, one in Digitally Enhanced. Ben entered 4 (not sure exactly which categories).

When I went to the show on Sunday, I was pretty impressed to see that Ben managed to pull out a first-place win in the "Nature" category (complete with blue ribbon) for his fantastic flower photo:

I was also pretty stunned to see that I managed a third-place finish in "Animals" for my heron shot:

So, modesty be damned, I guess what I'm saying is "yay for us".

Monday, March 13, 2006


The Cellar's Image of the Day site (or thread?) accepted another (found) photo I submitted. See it here. It's a creepy photo; part of a story about urban coyotes.

Not long ago, I saw a squashed something in the median of the Dulles Toll Road, just north of the airport. The creature had to be a coyote. It was distinctly different looking than any other squashed dog I'd seen. Plus it was a long way away from any suburban neighborhoods, so I doubt it was some family's pet Rover. I'd had the good intentions to stop and take it's picture, but never got around to it.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

New links

So I have about a dozen posts queued up, pissing and moaning about life in general (does anybody really need two traffic tickets in 3 weeks? No? Relly? I didn't think so. (Coming soon: "We put the 'Rant' back in Rant-o-Riffic!")...


Thought I'd take a detour from the complaining (online, at least) and point out a few links I've added.

DT moved his blog, and didn't bother to tell anybody. Guess he assumed his friends would be bright enough to figure it out. Well, at least one of us weren't. That'll teach him. (Also, thanks to DT for pointing out the vast amount of data that gives you. I had totally forgotten).

Lee has moved/reincarnated his blog...a little less covert-ly.

Last but not least, some character named fatbob29r has surfaced on a couple of blogs I read. I had no idea until I put 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 and came up with 16 that it's an old biking buddy from the area, since moved to Atlanta, then on to TEXAS (everything is bigger in Texas...even the font). I'm pretty psyched to see he's started blogging, since it's far too difficult for me to actually just compose a damn email to catch up with the guy. Man, I suck.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Still on the subject of biking...

This past Tuesday, I tagged along on the regular TNS ride run by the DT/Spearman/Stoner crew. This week promised a larger group, and a group of really strong riders. That should have been my first warning sign.

We met at the usual spot in Arlington, headed east to DC and (as far as I knew) a nice bar with heat and beer and pizza in Georgetown. To my dismay, we rode right past the bar, and then down to the K street underground. We met a couple of other guys there, then started peadling out on a path I'd never even seen before (evidently the "Capital Crescent Trail"). I asked one of the other riders what the plan was, since we were now pedaling away from the beery salvation of the bar. He said he thought the ride was going to head up to Bethesda, then over through Chevy Chase, pick up Rock Creek Parkway, and pedal back down into Georgetown, ending at the bar we'd first discussed. I gave him the ol' "hahaha that's a good one ohshityou'renotkiddingaboutridingallthef*waytobethesdaandbackareyou" look. Since it was dark, thankfully, he missed the horrified look on my face. I told him nothing personal, but if I all of a sudden wasn't around anymore, it simply meant that I turned my ass around and pedaled for home. I could manage the Arlington to Georgetown ride without too much trouble. An Arlington-to-Georgetown-to-Bethesda-to-Chevy Chase-to-Rock Creek Park-to-Georgetown-eventually-back-to-Arlington ride might be a bit beyond my endurance levels right now.

So the ride headed north. The stronger riders tearing-ass into the lead. DT being kind enough to hang back and keep me company. He and I pedaled steadliy onward, me never sure where I was gonna run outta gas and turn around.

Despite the trail feeling like a neverending mountain climb all the way out of DC (mainly due to the optical illusion created by me forgetting my perscription glasses, an ever so slightly uphill path, and a the circle-of-lighted-salvation-in-the-darkness provided by my helmet light, I felt surprisingly good with each passing pedal stroke. We managed (well...*I* "managed", there was little question DT would be able to pull off the whole ride) to make it all the way up into Bethesda and the halfway point, where the rest of the riders were waiting for us.

Once we regrouped, a few photos were snapped and we headed out on our return journey.

Thankfully, the road ride down Rock Creek Parkway is mostly downhill heading back to G'town. And not too heavy with traffic. We would have made great time, had there not been 3 flats in rapid succession, costing us over an hour of stand-around-in-the-cold -and-watch-other-guys-fix-flats time. Two flats were on "Spearman's Own Experimental Tire and Wheel Set", which proved a bitch to fix. After a fair amount of fighting with the hardware, he got rolling well enough to get us all on the road again. A few short miles later, we finally pull into the bar for well deserved beers and warmness and pizza.

Beers flowed. Pizzas arrived. Smack-talk ensued. After a couple of hours, the crowd begins to disperse as riders headed for home in waves. The last group to go was Spearman, DT and me. After all the pedaling done so far, we still have to ride back out to Arlington...5 or 6 miles distant. And by this point, my headlight is long dead.

The ride home is uneventful (thankfully). Rides home usually seem to pass pretty quickly for me. One of the benefits of a few beers at the midpoint, I guess. There's just a very fine line between "uneventful, quick ride home" and "shitfaced, powersliding into home plate on a bike". I'm still learning where that line is.

So, when all was said and done, we rode somewhere between 36 and 38.x miles. Probably my longest road ride since doing the 63 mile "Tour de Cure" a few years back. I was happy that my legs and lungs held up as well as they did. The next day, I felt pretty good, too. Guess there's hope for me and this "biking" thing yet.

Slack. Biking. Probe.

I've actually been doing some cool stuff lately, but I've just been too damn lazy to write about it. So I'll try to condense into a single catch-up post...

Last weekend I went camping/biking with a bunch of friends I rarely see anymore. We hit Green Ridge State Forest in MD. The camping was chilly, and the biking kicked my ass; but it was a great weekend none the less.

Green Ridge has a 12 mile (mostly) singletrak bike loop with a few "easy out" escapes for thos who burn out before completing the full loop. I don't know how much climbing there is in total, but it's a hell of a lot more than I'm used to at Wakefield. A couple of friends and I decided to do a short night ride after we arrived on Friday. Temps were just about 19 degrees. The other two guys are in far better riding shape than I, and were nice enough to go easy on me. We did about 6 miles total, including about 2 miles on fireroads to and from the trailhead.

On Saturday, try as I might, my friends wouldn't let me bag out of the longer planned ride. I'm glad they didn't. We added one more rider (a guy recovering from a torn/dislocated/busted-up shoulder) to our group. With temps in the 50s, it was a perfect day for riding. Despite feeling like the shorter ride the night before nearly killed me, I felt surprisingly good once on the trail in the warmth and sunlight. Busted-shoulder-guy and I managed 9-10 miles, including about 3 on fireroads. The two other guys did the full loop.

Sunday, we woke up to snow falling. Most folks decided to break camp early and head for home. I packed all my junk into the truck (where it still sits, for the record), hopped in line with a caravan of vehicles heading east, and drove for home.

I'll end Part One here. Look for Part Two, comig soon to a theater near you.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New photo posted

I posted a new photo up to It was taken last year along Skyline Drive in VA. I originally had it framed differently (pulled further back) but a friend at work suggest this crop, which I liked much more.

I must have been shooting RAW-only, cuz I can't find any JPGs with EXIF data, so I have no idea what the settings of the shot were (ISO, shutter, aperature, focal length, exact date, etc).
Losty goodness

Man, the internet is filled with fast-acting 'Lost' last night had some intriguing bits. In an effort not to give much away, let's just say there were some hieroglyphics. By the time I got to work today, some Lost/hieroglyphics/internet nerds (to whom I humbly bow) had screen captured and deciphered them.

Also, in case you missed the connection (as I did), this guy claims the girl in the picture is Kate. I haven't verified it yet.

Lost continues to be a great show, with enough scavenger-hunt like things going on in the periphery to keep you (well, me, at least) hooked.

--update to add--

There are some interesting 'Lost' discussions happening over on this board. Particularly about last night's episode.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Netflix still sucks.

However, I didn't realize that the class action lawsuit actually did cover the throttling, not just the speed at which Netflix delivers movies (I thought it was more about ineffective shipping methods than purposeful throttling). Thanks to DT for pointing this out.

Anyway, Netflix tried to settle the suit, offering a 1 disk per month upgrade, for a single month to all Netflix users. So, if you had a subscription allowing you 3 disks/month, for one month, you'd be allowed to have 4 disks/month. Big f*cking deal. Meanwhile, the lawyers got $2,528,000. Think this sucks? So do a lot of other people. There's an objection hearing scheduled for 2/22/05 and evidently, the FTC isn't amused about the terms either. Maybe this will work out after all.

I'm gonna have to pay more attention to this suit.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Why I'd like to throttle Netflix

Nothing quite like paying for "Unlimited Rentals" and being penalized for taking advantage of unlimited rentals. If you're a "heavy user" or a "high volume renter" at Netflix, you're probably getting fucked. Bend over.

This story has been rumbling around the net, various blogs and link sites (like Digg, Slashdot, and probably' "most popular") for a few weeks now, and I'm happy to see the mainstream press (like the Washington Post is finally picking up on it (hint: to read articles on Wash Post (and other sites) without having to bow to their compulsory registration, check out

The brief summary goes like this:

Sucker...err..."Valued Customer" signs up for Netflix because it seems like a good deal. Unlimited rentals for under $19/month, shipped to your door, postage paid, including postage paid return envelope. Cool. I'm lazy, I got sick of Blockbuster fucking up and finding my "hey, you never returned Krull" movies on the shelf. Where do I sign up?

Given that it's "unlimited rentals", sucker user...damn it..."Valued Customer" does his best to take advantage of the offer. Rent a movie, watch it in a day or two, return the movie, get another movie. If you can turn around, say, 15 movies in a month, then each movie costs you about $1.26. If you rent three movies and sit on them for two months, then each movie costs you about $13.00. Netflix works for "Valued Customer" if "Valued Customer" devours a ton of movies per month. Netflix works for Netflix if "Valued Customer" rents three movies, then returns them 2 months later. Many "Valued Customers" in the world figured this out. Netflix finally figured out that "Valued Customer" figured out, and has implemented something called "throttling" to penalize "Valued Customer" for renting too many movies per month.

If you, "Valued Customer", rent and return a bunch of movies in a month, you'll find yourself at the end of a long list for new and popular releases. While Joe Schmoe, who rents three movies every two months, gets bumped to the top of the queues. Take, for example, my queue. The top movie has been, since mid November (before it was even released) The 40 Year Old Virgin. It's been released for two months now, yet, in my queue, it's still listed as "Very Long Wait". Seem fair? Aren't I paying the same $19/month that the Joe Schmoes of the world are paying? Why should I be denied something I want to see, simply because I'm playing by the sales rules set up by Netflix. Why are they allowed to do this? Oh, yeah, the almighty "Terms Of Use". Basically, they say "we can fuck you in any manner which we see fit. And if we're not fucking you enough right now, we reserve the right to change the rules and fuck you more later". Copied and pasted below are the pertinent parts regarding throttling. I'll edit out stuff that doesn't pertain to my current rant:

Allocation, Delivery and Return of Rented DVDs

We reserve the right to allocate and ship DVDs among our subscribers in any manner that we, in our sole and absolute discretion, determine.


As a result, we may not always send you the top choices from your queue, and we may not ship out your next DVD on the same day that we receive one from you.


In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those subscribers who receive the most movies may experience that (i) the shipment of their next available DVD occurs at least one business day following return of their previously viewed movie, (ii) delivery takes longer, as the shipments may not be processed from their local distribution center and (iii) they receive movies lower in their queue more often than our other subscribers.


We...[snip]...may, in our sole and absolute discretion, change our business practice regarding allocation, delivery and shipping, without notice. We may from time to time revise these Terms of Use but we will not necessarily provide you notice of the revisions.

So, you may ask, what's the point of this rant? Well, in the last couple of days of ranting to friends and coworkers, I've found many that have no idea they're being penalized for playing by the rules. I'm hoping some will see this and get pissed off. Also, I'm hoping enough people get pissed off that a class action suit is filed. I'm not one of the "I just spilled hot coffee on my balls, and I was so surprised that it was hot that I'm gonna sue you" kinda guys. But there are some things that warrant a little legal pressure. Hell, Netflix got sued for not delivering rentals in the advertised "next day". I'd say this is a bit bigger of a deal than that. Finally, I'm hoping that people Google-ing for "Netflix sux monkey nutz" will happen across this and get the message and pass it to future class members.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


aren't there more important things to worry about,


Friday, February 03, 2006


This just in from the "Shit that will prevent me from sleeping comfortably for the rest of my life, even if it did happen in friggin' Africa" department:

(Image linked from Also worth pointing out that the image title is, and I quote, "sssssshhhhiiiitttt!6_small.jpg").

Originally found via with the fantastic titles "Spider pwns a snake".

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

F*cking gross

I love me some crap food. Fast food, junk food, greasy food. Whatever. Make no mistake, I'll eat some bad-for-you food. And I'll enjoy it. So when I see something that makes me say "holy shit, that's some nasty ass kill-you-where-you-stand food", you know it's gotta be bad. At Baja Fresh...

It is.

It should be criminal to sell food that is that bad for you. Why aren't there laws? There are laws that force me to wear a seatbelt to protect myself. And force me to wear a motorcycle helmet for the same reason. And a bicycle helmet. And drugs! Drugs are illegal (well, the illegal ones are) so I don't harm myself with them. So answer me this...How the hell is it still legal to sell a f*cking fajita with 1450 calories and 50 grams of fat?? And what, in the name of God, do you have to do to some chips and cheese to make it hold 1890 calories, 108g of fat, and 40g of saturated fat? Tell me! Then, there is the kicker (read the "kick-the-f*cking-bucket-er"): scoop one breaded Fish Burrito Dos Manos, make it "Enchilado® Style" and see if they'll deep fry it in lard for you while you're at it. Even without the lard-bath, that abomination will bestow upon you 3070 calories and a tasty 150g of fat.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Found via Slashdot, originally from the BBC, copied here due to potential Slashdot effect on the story page in the near future. Presented here to justify this previous post of mine.

Scientific brain linked to autism

Scientists tend to be analytical
Highly analytical couples, such as scientists, may be more likely to produce children with autism, an expert has argued.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, of the University of Cambridge, said the phenomenon may help explain the recent rise in diagnoses.

He believes the genes which make some analytical may also impair their social and communication skills.

A weakness in these areas is the key characteristic of autism.

It is thought that around one child in every 100 has a form of autism - the vast majority of those affected are boys.

The number of diagnoses seems to be on the increase, but some argue this is simply because of a greater awareness of the condition.

In a paper published in the journal Archives of Disease of Childhood, Professor Baron-Cohen labels people such as scientists, mathematicians and engineers as 'systemizers'.

They are skilled at analysing systems - whether it be a vehicle, or a maths equation - to figure out how they work.

But they also tend to be less interested in the social side of life, and can exhibit behaviour such as an obsession with detail - classic traits associated with autism.

Body of evidence

Professor Baron-Cohen argues that systemizers are often attracted to each other - and thus more likely to pass 'autism' genes to their offspring.

He cited a survey of 1,000 members of the National Autistic Society which found fathers and grandfathers of children with autistic spectrum conditions are twice as likely to work in a systemizing profession.

In addition, students in the natural sciences have a higher number of relatives with autism than do students in the humanities, and mathematicians have a higher rate of autistic spectrum conditions compared with the general population.

Other research has found both mothers and fathers of children with autism score highly on a questionnaire measuring autistic traits.

Brain scan studies have also shown that mothers of autistic children often show patterns of brain activity more associated with men.

Professor Baron-Cohen said the rise in autism may be linked to the fact that it has become easier for systemizers to meet each other, with the advent of international conferences, greater job opportunities and more women working in these fields.

Richard Mills, of the National Autistic Society, said: "The society welcomes all new research, particularly that which helps us understand the nature and possible causes of autism and which may inform the support that we give to individuals.

"Over half a million people in the UK have a form of autism, it is a lifelong developmental disorder which requires specialist support."

Monday, January 23, 2006

It's alive!

After finding and implementing this fine camera battery hack, the Minolta (more specifically, "the Minolta's light meter") lives! Total cost, about $1.23 (battery plus wire). The hearing-aid batteries used won't last as long as the $30 adapter'ed alkalines would, but at $0.43 each, I'm not complaining.

I'm gonna stop by CVS tomorrow and see if they have any of that old tyme "film" stuff on the shelves.

Public Service

For Christmas, the girl's mom was kind enough to give me her old 35mm film camera (complete with 50mm f/1.4 prime lens, 28-80mm f/3.5 zoom lens, and flash). It's a late 60's or early 70's era Minolta SR-T 101. Mostly manual operation, with a battery operated TTL light meter, so you'll at least get an idea if your chosen aperature and shutter speed combinatin will produce a photo. The only downside of it is the mercury battery for the light meter. Mercury batteries aren't produced anymore (a good thing), and there is no off-the-shelf replacement. It looks like the best bet is a little $30 battery converter thingy, which will allow the use of modern button-cell batteries in the old-skool camera.

After receiving this fine camera, my first thought was "what the hell do all these buttons and levers on the body, and pointers needles in the viewfinder do?". So I went online to try and find a user's manual. After a lot of digging, I found this guy's site, which has just about the only user's manual available online without a fee. The downside is that it's available as 43 individual JPG files. Not the most convenient format. So thanks to the magic that is, I created a new document, imported all of the JPG image files, and exported the final product as a single large (11MB) PDF file.

Thanks to Ben and the generous hosting of (hosting service coming soon), I now present to you my first ever potentially useful PDF creation:

The PDF user's manual for the Minolta SR-T 101 camera.

Hopefully, one day, somebody on the net will Google looking for a copy as I did, and this will prove beneficial.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


So I took a "sick" day from work today. I wasn't really "sick", but as our company doesn't have a "I'm a friggin' pansy, I climbed a mountain yesterday, and today I can't move my legs so I need a day off" day, I settled for "sick".

The girl and I made a full frontal assult on Old Rag in Virginia yesterday. The hike is (roughly) a 7 mile out-and-back, or a 9 mile loop (counting the nearly 1 mile walk (each way) to and from the parking lot to the trailhead). Total elevation gain/loss is about 2200 feet. So while she ain't Everest, she's still a good workout. Especially for a guy and a girl who's last walk up a mountain was many months ago (at best).

The first couple of miles of the hike is nothing more than walking up a seemingly endless series of switchbacks in the woods. Nothing to write home about. The good stuff comes in the last mile or two before the summit. That's where you get to the boulders. The trail becomes nothing more than blue paint blazes marking the "trail" over huge friggin' rocks (note, those are not my photos. I debated taking my camera, but thankfully, I didn't. I'd have definitely felt the extra weight. Additionally, the bulk in my pack would have made squeaking through tight rock crevaces impossible).

Try as we might, however, we didn't make the actual summit. We probably got within 100 yards of it (following the trail) and 20' (vertically). Ya see, Old Rag is one of the most popular hikes in VA. The summer outdoors season is a extremely busy time to make the hike. So bad, in fact, that on nice weekends, lines of hikers form while waiting to get up/past some of the more interesting obsticles. Therefore, a winter assult is a much more appealing thing (at least for me). Alas, the drawback of winter climbing is ice. As we neared the summit, the smooth rock faces, coupled with a slick 1/4" coating of ice stopped us. We managed to get past one really tricky/ice coated spot, but the next section was impassable for (non-climbing/amateur hiking/really f*ing tired/losing sunlight fast) us. With fading light and fading energy, we decided to turn around and make the hike back the way we came. The route down the boulders was just as interesting as the hike up, and the hike down the switchbacks was just as uninteresting. By the time we reached the bottom, our legs were jelly-like. The final insult is the mile walk down the road to the parking lot. I think the next time I make the hike, I'm going to bring along my beater singlespeed. I'll park in the lot, then bike to the trailhead. Lock the bike to a tree. Do the hike. Then bike back down the hill to the truck. Hell, the road slopes so much from the trailhead down to the parking lot, I doubt I'll even have to pedal. An extra mile or two doesn't seem like much, but at the end of the hike, you feel it.

Supposedly, somewhere near the summit, there is a scree field. Either we didn't make it that far, or I have no real idea what the hell "scree" is.

By far, the favorite part of the hike (both the girl and for me) was the bouldering. Anybody know where we can do more of that, without the long switchback/woods walks to tire you out beforehand? If you do, share it!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Happy Anniversary...

To me. Six years ago this month, I quit smoking. One of the best decisions I ever made. So I decided to celebrate the way I do every year. By doing a fat line of coke :)

(Note to the NSA: the part about the coke was a joke).

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Just slightly crazy

I stumled across link (on to a "how autistic are you?" test from Cambridge University Scientists. Knowing I've always been a little bit...err..."special" (in a charming sorta way), I took the test just to see where on the 0-50 scale I fell. First, the score breakdown is thus:

0-10 Low
11-22 Average (most women score about a 15, most men about 17)
23-31 Above average (and not in a good way!)
32-49 Very high (most people with high-functioning autism score about 35)
50 Maximum (call your doctor)

I took the test three times (so far), just to get an average. My results? 30, 35, 36 (in my own defense tho, I was drunk when I hit 35 last night). Unfortunately, I was stone cold sober today when I hit 36. Making my average (so far) 33.666666.

Wonder if this will qualify me for a special parking place at work?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Art show

So the first public display of one of my photos is happening as I write this. Not quite as glamorous as I envisioned my "first time" being, but what can you do.

Granted, it ain't the Met, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood of the CVS store in Vienna, VA, stop in and check out my heron photo.

I went to the store last night to print up an 8x10 of that shot (since doing so at home would drain every black ink cartridge for miles around). When the photo popped out of the printer, the woman working the photo lab was quite impressed. After oooh-ing and ahhh-ing and showing the photo to the other clerks working the registers, she asked if she could have a copy to display in the store, along side of photos by other customers. Being a sucker for attention, I said yes, and there it hangs. They don't seem to have a set schedule for how long works will stay on display, so I imagine it could disappear at any time.