Sunday, October 31, 2004

Oh, and...

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

48 Hours and a spark of hope

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

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


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

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


...and not for the asshole.

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

[begin subliminal message section]


Pretty please?

...on November 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Well, that didn't go well...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I love that man

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

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

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

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

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


MMMM...Lamborghini. Mean.

mmm...Ferrari Challenge car.

Mmmm...'nother Ferrari Challenge car.

Porche 911 (I'm fairly sure).

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

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

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

Friday, October 15, 2004


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

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

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

A new day has dawned

I've gotten my first anonymous hate-mail!

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 08, 2004


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

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

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

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

Betcha you can guess what I think.


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

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

But I still don't like him.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Nature Photography 001

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

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

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

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

I'm telling ya was a beautiful sight.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

A glimmer of hope

Posted a new picture up to today.

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

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

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

Friday, October 01, 2004

Holy crap!

I think I just found my new favorite site:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The results were anticlimactic:

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

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

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

GW Bush
John Kerry

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