This is the more recent archive page that I've made. The old one was breaking 250k, and that's not good. So here's a fresh one.

...A note to Google users that end up here...
CTRL+F Brings up the 'Find' dialog box

Type a key word in it, and you should be able to find what you're looking for...

Sorry if you don't find what you're looking for in this page. There's a chance, but I think it's funny that I can type all kinds of bits and pieces of things that are happening to me, and people get here through a search and end up finding no answers whatsoever. There's good info here and there, but if all else fails don't hesitate to email me and ask for further info on anything you read on this page.

...let the things I say never be lost...

It's a sunset.
A sunset captured with my dash cam, early last week.

I talked about my Drift Ghost HD last week in that it took the picture of the Maxima featured (that Maxima is still in its spot on the street... I wonder if the owner has gone out of town). Here I'm going to talk about it again... In this case, this week's image is a screencapture from video it recorded. Additionally, the Drift Ghost HD decided to... how do you say... give up the ghost on Thursday after being on and recording for two hours straight. Now I await a replacement camera once I send this one in.

I'm typing this in a trial edition of Coffee Cup's HTML Editor. So far, it's slick, intuitive, and has live Spell Check. I think this is the one. The only thing I don't like is the "Save" button isn't a Save button. You click it, and it opens up a drop-down dialog allowing me to Save, Save As, and Save All (if I'm editing multiple pages at once). I'm sure this can be customized, but even if it isn't, it's not enough to keep me from using this.

My sister Rebecca came up for Friday. It was a pretty action-packed day... probably one of the busiest days off I've ever taken. It was great having her here. This was also one big reason why I didn't muster up the energy to update on Saturday, as I had to take her back to the land from whence she came, a five hour drive in both directions.

I'm pretty sure in previous posts, I predicted that Obamacare would be a disaster. The debacle is only the beginning.

-15:48, 03NOV2013-

A street parked Maxima that got hit by traffic.
Outside our apartment complex. This morning.

So, this time it actually worked out that I missed this Saturday for updating. This morning, when I went to take my Prelude for its weekly drive, I saw this poor car. Typically, this car and the one in front of it are blocking my view as I make a right onto the road. Moving traffic rarely adheres to the 25 MPH speed limit, so I've pulled out a couple of times, not seeing anyone coming, only to swerve into the curb to avoid getting hit by some a-hole doing 45. My Prelude is parked on the street because we're only allowed two spots, and they're filled up with our newer, nicer (but not as fun) cars. I park it in a less obtrusive area, even though the spot where this Maxima is would be much more convenient. I guess my decision had an unexpected payoff in that my much darker car was safely tucked somewhere else last night. I should mention that this photo was taken with my dash cam (Drift Ghost HD) in its picture taking mode. (Usually when you see an image from it, it's a screencapture from recorded video.) (Its "photo" mode is actually pretty good in that it takes relatively detailed 11 megapixel images.)

So my trial period for HTML Kit has expired, and I never did find a way to enable live spell check, so I guess I won't be buying it. Typing on Komodo again... it's getting super annoying that the text is lagging the way it is. Also, something else I forgot this software did, was if the letters you type is too far ahead of what's printed on the screen, it will lose focus, meaning if you have another application open, you're suddenly typing in that other application. If you only have Komodo open, it will 'blank out' for a split second and drop some of your letters. Free software...

-17:12, 27OCT2013-

Raw bacon on a cutting board.
This is a slab of bacon, cut in half.

So yesterday the wifey decided to cook breakfast, and bacon was to be our breakfast meat. The pile on the left is the portion of bacon that showed through the back of the package. The pile on the right is the portion that was uncovered after opening the package. That is one dirty trick, Hormel.

I'm typing this on a trial version of HTML-Kit Tools. So far, there's no lag and there are some features I like. I can hover over the text of an image location, and it tool-tips a preview of the image. If you highlight text, it will highlight that exact text in other places where it appears. As an example, if you highlighted "highlight", every instance of the word "highlight" would be highlighted. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a live spell check. I can click "Spell Check" and it brings me to the top of the page and says Crawdaddy isn't a word, and I'd have to add everything at the top of the page to the dictionary to get to these paragraphs below in a timely manner. On the upside, once you click "Spell Check" and cancel out of it, all misspelled words are underlined the way misspelled words are typically underlined. There's gotta be a way to enable a live spell check... older versions of this software supported it apparently. I just have to dig, and if I find conclusively that it can be enabled, I'll probably be buying this one.

Yes, I missed Phaturday again... but at least it was only one day late this time.

-11:54, 20OCT2013-

It's a very large mushroom.
A massive mushroom that spawned at the base of a tree in our apartment complex.

I nearly forgot about the 2nd update this week... but I remembered not a moment too soon. I haven't been taking a lot of outside-area pictures lately, so it's good that I made it a point to take a picture of this mushroom two days ago. I planned to use this picture for Saturday's update, but that was before I remembered that I owed you another update before Saturday. By the way, I left this image at full resolution just because I don't mind if it gets stolen. To view it, it might take you a while... not because your internet is slow, but because my host is slow.

Back when I first upgraded to Windows 7 with my new put-together-myself PC, I decided to try Komodo instead of what I'd been using, which was 1st Page 2000 to edit this website. At the time, I decided that I didn't like it, and would never use it again. That was a big lie (the 2nd half of that statement). I am still using it today, and I still don't like it. It doesn't do live spell check, and it is slow when lots of text is on the screen (1st Page 2000 has this same issue, but much worse with Windows 7). After nearly 15 years of HTML editing with free HTML editors, I am in a position where I think I'm finally willing to actually pay for an HTML editor. It doesn't need to be fancy. I don't need gobloads of templates (or any templates, really). I really just need everything the free editors provide, but with live spellcheck and the ability to type without seeing my text lag behind my keystrokes when a page gets too 'text intense'. What's ironic is this problem didn't even rear its head until I upgraded my video card five years ago, and persisted as I've upgraded it again.

-21:52, 17OCT2013-

It's Reno.
Reno, NV, October 2004

How does something so easy become so tough? Sorry I missed another week. Expect an extra post before the next Phaturday.

Cousin Veronica is in town so it's sort of appropriate that a picture of Reno happens to be my next one. This one was taken from the roof of the Hilton hotel; the only tall building outside of downtown Reno. I stayed there two or three times. It was also the last place I gambled, because it was the first time I lost money gambling. ($5)

-16:26, 13OCT2013-

A sunset and a radio antenna.
West Chester, Ohio, September 2004

It's a sunset that I forgot to include in my sunsets page. Wish I would have had more to choose from, but for some reason I only took this sole picture.

[POLITICS] So the Republicans in the Senate voted to remove the House's "Defund Obamacare" amendment from the continuing resolution that would prevent a government shutdown because Congress hasn't figured out how to pass a damn budget in five years or something. I wasn't able to find a good answer as to what advantage defunding Obamacare would bring to the nation. Now the resolution is back in the House and Republicans are trying to delay the rest of the implementation of Obamacare by a year with yet another amendment. I'm assuming the strategy is to delay it so that if Republicans get a larger majority after the mid-terms, it can be repealed altogether. It might actually pass the Senate because the implementation is running behind schedule anyway. I don't think Republicans are going to get any significant gains. Their actions of late have not done much to inspire me; their message about Obamacare is as muddy as a message can be. By the time it gets filtered through all of the activists, Obamacare is nothing less than a Soviet-style implementation of public health care that must be stopped. From the Democrats side, Republicans are trying to destroy America with their tactics. Neither side seems to understand that Obamacare has nothing to do with health care, yet everything to do with health insurance. I hate politics. [/POLITICS]

-16:22, 29SEP2013-

Creative I-spire satellite speaker and a Vantech external hard drive. And an Energizer Lithium AA battery.
My computer desk, ten minutes ago.

I tell you what, you don't know how dusty your desk is until you take a long exposure low ISO macro shot of it. I did this one without much thought or preparation, because I feel like I've been going into my archive too much instead of producing (and what I produce is pure gold, as seen above). I thought the light from my external hard drive would illuminate my computer speaker pretty neatly, and the camera captured it better than I expected. To the naked eye, there is very little blue illumination on the speaker stand, but when a camera stares at it for four seconds or so, the blue (or any illumination) becomes far more pronounced. That's not to say that the light isn't bright... I placed that dead battery in front of it to block it from my eyes. Check out the full resolution crop of the speaker stand: Clicky. Exciting, no?

-22:18, 21SEP2013-

Powered chair to go up a stairway.
Voice of America Museum, West Chester, Ohio, September 2004.

This reminded me of Ms. Deagle, the old lady that hated Christmas carollers, and was just generally mean. Gremlins rewired her stair-chair without her realizing it. When she went to dump a bucket of water onto carollers on her doorstep, she saw that it was really gremlins singing and tried to get away from them (good thing she didn't dump the water on them, or else the movie might have turned out a little different). She used her chair to get upstairs but it ended up launching her out of the house and head first into a pile of snow. Poor mean lady.

I've been really bad about updating every Saturday lately... I will get better about it. For whatever reason, when I get free time, the last thing I want to do is something productive.

-20:14, 17SEP2013-

Cloth ribbon acrobatics.
Maryland Renaissance Festival, Sunday (5 days ago).

I non-promised you a 2nd update this week, so here it is. An actual recent photo at that... We went to the Rennfest (as it's called) and I brought my camera (obviously) but there were so many people that there wasn't a reason to take pictures of anything unless I wanted to take pictures of people. Lots of the crowd dressed up, and many women took the opportunity to dress up in themed lingerie, so it wouldn't have been uninteresting photos, but I don't want to make strangers mad at me for taking a picture of them without their permission, much less post them on my website.

-22:02, 12SEP2013-

A dragonfly that died after running into our halogen lamp. Somewhere in Florida, September, 2004.

I took a lot of pictures of the above unfortunate creature, and only this one came out clear. As far as I can tell, this is the first image where I used the camera's (the camera being the Canon G5... for those not keeping up, I started 'photography' with a Kodak DX 3600, got the G5, then the G11, and shortly after that the Canon G1X.) macro mode successfully. I must not have used or had my tripod at this point, because I had to use flash to keep the shutter speed down. This is also one of the rare pictures where the flash actually adds detail instead of taking it away. Large versions of the week's image are usually sized down, mostly because if someone steals the image, they're only getting half of it. I don't care if this one is stolen, so I kept the original full resolution on the large image to prove detail. (...of my 5 MP camera heh. You'd be hard-pressed to find a phone these days that does less than 8 MP.)

There really aren't enough hours in the day... So I missed last week's update, making this lapse is the longest since I've started Photography Phaturday. I am behind by a week now, and I'll have to make it up by posting a 2nd image. I don't want to promise it will be this week, but it will be this week.

-20:41, 08SEP2013-

Tree shadows on a brick wall.
A brick gym wall with some trees next to it. Holland, MI, September, 2004.

Unlike last week's photo, where I knew what I needed to do but wasn't able to, I had no idea how to make my camera capture what this looked like with my own eyes. I tried different exposures, different shutter speeds, different zoom levels... The best I could get was this one, where the top of the image is too bright while the bottom of the image is too dark. HDR photo merging would be the first thing to fix it, but the problem with that, is it's impossible to do with greenery unless there's exactly zero breeze (leaves waving would appear blurry).

It's been a long time since I've talked about the current events going on...

Months ago, North Korea seemed poised to start a war (again). But then they went quiet (again). Syria is reported to have used chemical weapons on citizens in Damascus, but there's no concrete evidence. The UN gave Assad's regime a deadline to allow inspectors into the area, and he's ignored it. I guess if he'd just used traditional explosives to dismember and maim the Damascus citizens (as he has for the last... what... two years?), the UN would have stayed out of it. Egypt hasn't been the same since Mubarak stepped down... There seems to be constant unrest before, during, and after they democratically elected an iron-fist style leader who was then taken out of power by the military (a legal coup) after a year or so. So yeah, the middle east is still acting like the middle east. At least Israel and Iraq have taken a step down in the headline competition.

Domestically, I really don't know what's going on. Health care costs are continuing to unsustainably increase. The stock market is higher than it should be. Inflation is lower than it should be. Unemployment is embarrassingly high. Median incomes continue to climb downward across the nation... everywhere except the DC area. Republicans are dumbly trying to defund Obamacare (what is the cost to the government? It's virtually zero... the real costs come with private sector compliance, you idiots. Defund it, and the honest business owners lose.). It's going to be a disaster, and it's too late to avoid. If the voters don't educate themselves properly, then the voters get what they deserve (and since I happen to live in the same boat, I have no choice but to sink with everyone else). Republican activists don't help with educating voters, because they ignore the economic follies of Bush, and even support his efforts while decrying Obama for supporting the same thing (while Obama decries Republicans for not supporting the policies they actually support). Le sigh.

-20:22, 24AUG2013-

Sunset, small planes, Florida
Another sunset, another Phaturday Phunday Update. Port St. Lucie, FL. September, 2004.

I'm not sure when I bought my mini-tripod, but this series of pictures was a main reason behind it. By now, I'd learned to place the camera on a stable surface, but in the case of here, there was no stable surface available. I had to take the picture by hand, and they all came out blurry. The one featured today is the least blurry of the set. If they made a good camera with its own integrated, retractable tripod, I'd buy it today.

-18:30, 18AUG2013-

Frankie's Flight Deck Cafe
Another sunset, another Phaturday Update. Near Port St. Lucie, FL. September, 2004.

As you can see, the windows are boarded up for the Cafe. Turns out that when a hurricane is on its way, everybody in town jets. (Literally.) (I literally used "literally" correctly.)

If I knew about HDR photo merging back then, I probably would have taken three photos at different exposure levels from a tripod, but since I didn't, I chose to have clear vibrant sky over a clear, vibrant boarded up cafe. Good pic otherwise, if I don't say so myself. (And I do.)

-11:47, 11AUG2013-

Oyster Mushroom on a log.
Williamsburg, VA - Monday last week (JUL 30th, 2013).

So I went to Williamsburg last week to attend a week-long company function and this is the best picture I was able to come up with. The lighting was perfect... the color contrast was perfect... This picture could easily be used in a textbook of fungi for young 'uns to gaze at nation-wide.

This update is two days late. I'm not making excuses, but we had good company over for the weekend, and I didn't force an opportunity to update the site during the visit. That's not to say that this update is worth waiting for, but hey... you get a (reasonably) current picture and it's not a bad one.

-22:16, 05AUG2013- (Cousin Stacey's B-Day)

A sunset, parking lot, trees.
It's a sunset don't you know... somewhere in Florida, 2004.

Aspect-wise, this is a bad picture of a very nice looking sunset, and is the best of the series of pictures I took... More to come in later weeks/months/years. I have a lot of pictures to comb through before I'm 'caught up' to the point where I have to come up with a new picture each week. That day will probably never come.

-16:54, 27JUL2013-

UPS truck in passenger side mirror, moving.
A UPS truck passing us on the right, somewhere in Florida, 2004.

This is another instance where I was just playing with my camera, and snapped a picture that came out artistic-looking. It's the final one in a series as the UPS truck crept closer and closer, until it finally passed us. The guy driving did not take the opportunity to move over to the right lane once it was clear.

Looking at the Sears website, they have a large selection of TV stands that most of which are exactly what we are looking for. So we went to the store today, found the stand we wanted, and looked around for a sales rep within the electronics section. No one was there to take our money. I walked over to the refrigerator/washer section, and found three guys standing there BSing, and asked if there was someone who could help us in the electronics section. A guy peeled from the group and I walked with him as he looked up and down the same aisles I just did... He joked, "It's our store policy to have customers hunt down someone for customer service." and wasn't shy in talking about how Sears was the worst place he's worked in how they don't have a customer service focus, and that the infrastructure of management seems to be geared to help as few people as possible. We finally found a sales rep as he was walking out of a break area (he looked a little dazed; I'll stick my neck out and say he looked high). As we walked through the store afterwards, there was no shortage of employees standing around, BSing with each other, while customers craned their heads in other areas of the store, looking for help. If most of their stores are like this one, it's no wonder these guys can't keep their heads above water. That said, we got a really good TV stand at a really good price. Let's hope I can put it together reasonably well.

-20:22, 20JUL2013-

Kansas City downtown; a ragged looking gentleman getting into his car.
Kansas City skyline from inside the city. Picture taken August, 2004.

So, like a guy who likes to take pictures, I was leaning out of the back seat window gawking at things to take pictures of. I took this picture of the Kansas City skyline, but the guy getting into his car must have thought I was taking a picture of him. He was none too pleased, going by the expression on his face. I didn't see him until I reviewed the image much later.

Earlier this week, Dan, Nina, and Scout came up to visit. It was great to have them here, and it was great to see how much Scout has grown since I've last seen her. I was a little embarrassed at the lack of space for everyone, but they really didn't mind (or, at least they didn't seem to). Thinking about it, they go out of their way to sleep in tents because they enjoy it, so I guess maybe our apartment isn't as cramped as it could be.

-21:19, 14JUL2013-

Four broken cams, from a POS TV stand.
A failed attempt at putting a TV stand together, July 4th.

So we ordered a new you-put-it-together TV stand, and actually had it delivered because it was too heavy for me to carry up stairs. This sort of backfired, because our UPS guy apparently doesn't know how to use a dolly, and instead delivered it by hand to our apartment's home office... So anyway, I managed to bring it in pieces by pieces, and the next day started putting it together. As you can see from the picture, that didn't go so well. The cams' sharp edges were digging into the pressboard as I tried to rotate them, and eventually snapped the cams in half. I am not that strong... I bowl with a 13 lb ball... but somehow I managed to snap three of these things without even realizing it, and a fourth that caused me to test the integrity of my previous work, and finding that the boards I put together actually were not together.

So, for as much as I hate returning things, this is going to get returned. The UPS guy gets to deal with it going down stairs, at least. Knowing how things normally work out, he'll probably knock on the door and ask for help carrying it down (he's in our area after 5:30 PM every day, so I'm usually home by then). If this happens, I look forward to the opportunity to train this guy in how to use the dolly that I know is inside every UPS truck. In the meantime, they're supposed to be calling me to let me know when I can expect delivery. Yesterday, I happened to be outside when I saw the UPS guy run up the stairs and back down again, looking for a package. I asked him what apartment number he was looking for, and he didn't know. I asked him how big of a package he was expecting, and he didn't know. So he walked away empty handed and said someone would be back today. Maybe it had nothing to do with my return, but I doubt it.

-12:37, 06JUL2013-

Some kool klouds with kool rays of sunshine.
Friday morning, exiting Springfield Interchange, 7 hours before some massive rainstorms.

This picture is from my new dashcam. The remote has two buttons, an action and stop. If you press the action button while recording, it takes a live screenshot of what's being viewed. That makes it a little easier than getting home, watching the video, and using 3rd party software to make the capture while the video is playing. This way, the jpg is right there in the folder with everything else that the camera captured.

The weather later in the day was apocalyptic. Water was rushing into our work bay, the bottom of the garage door wasn't flush to the ground hard enough to keep it out. When I went out to my car after 45 minutes of waiting for a lull, I walked through water two feet deep, for about twenty steps. I probably could have gone around, but that meant another 2 minutes or so in the moderate rain... plus I'd already 'stepped in it' (get it?) without realizing how deep it was and my socks were soaked. I drove off, and exited the gate that I normally exit... A wall of cars sat there to greet me on a road that never had traffic. I turned around, went back into the gate that I came from, and parked in a parking lot. What was I getting myself into by trying to drive home? I drive a stick shift. I hate long commutes. Would it be better to wait it out, and then make the journey? Every minute that passed as I sat in the lot doubled my sense of urgency to get back onto the road. Traffic was only going to get worse, the longer I waited. So, after four minutes of sitting there I decided to try a different gate, further down the road. Somewhere in this portion of the trip, water on the road got to be about three feet deep... the deepest water I've ever driven through (the cars in front of me didn't do me or the people behind me any favors by going slow) (we had to drive on the center of the road, else the water may have been another foot deeper) (one car moved all the way over to avoid the water altogether, and was honked at by oncoming traffic). Once I saw the alternate gate, and that there was no line, I was dumbfounded. Getting onto the interstate after exiting the gate was a complete breeze. The traffic was far clearer than I've ever seen at this time of day, much less a Friday. Apparently whatever caused the wall of cars that I avoided was bad enough that it helped to clear up all traffic past that point, and my result was the quickest commute I've ever had, weighing in at 26 minutes (from the time I left the parking lot, the second time, of course).

-21:36, 29JUN2013-

A putting green, closed off.
Overland Park, Kansas - August, 2004

I don't remember this picture, and I don't know why. It's kind of awesome. A putting green in the middle of nowhere... no walking paths to it... closed off for no apparent reason, next to a rather packed parking lot. This really is a unique capture, and I'm happy to have shared it with the world. You're welcome.

I've decided that it's best not to talk about my daughter on this main page. I am still going to 'journal' her developments from "bag o' human" form to "living on her own" form, but it will be in a far less public place. Send me an email and I'll let you know where you need to go to see updates on Peanut. If you don't know my email address, scroll down to the near bottom of this page. It's there somewhere.

-21:05, 22JUN2013-

A box for an elephant pool but the L is blocked by another box.
Picture taken in a baby store today with my Galaxy S II.

Maybe you'll see why I took the picture from this angle, maybe you won't. It is that mystery that makes a photograph art.

For Father's Day my wife got me a "Man Crate" to make me feel less emasculated. It was a small wooden box (inside of a cardboard box) that could only be pried open with the included pry bar. A card on top of the crate said "Having issues opening your crate? Please go to for help!"... Hopefully there are more self respecting males than are needed to justify a dedicated help page to prying open a wooden crate. That said, I was having issues, and my wife turned the computer on with the intent of going there, and the onus was on me to open it before she started reading it aloud. I won. Contained within were some personalized wooden coasters with bottle openers on them (genius), and personalized glasses with which to drink libation from. Additionally there were various snacks that I guess cater to men (I've always liked those snacks) included, and I'm halfway through them already (I opened the crate yesterday). Tomorrow, on real Father's Day, I'm getting about 5000 calories' worth of custom-cooked meals, I can sleep in as long as I want, and I won't have to change a single diaper (probably).

Every week for the last month or so, I would have bet money on Peanut being able to crawl by the next week. She took her first crawling "steps" just today, but only one knee, and another time, one hand. She didn't move forward either time, so she still isn't officially crawling yet. Maybe next week...

-16:40, 15JUN2013-

UPDATE: Spoke too soon. She crawled in very little "steps" for about three feet. Took her five minutes, but she did it without dropping her arms or legs. This kid is incredible.

-20:10, 15JUN2013-

A couple of church looking structures on top of a non-church looking building.
From the same roof top as last week's photo, taken July, 2004.

Here is a good example of the flaw of a non-DSLR's viewfinder. Zoomed all the way in, the viewfinder points at something slightly off angle than the camera does, and causes the photo to be less than perfect. This was back in the day when I thought using an LCD screen to take pictures was for grandmas, but to be fair, that was when LCD screens were not nearly as big, bright, and clear as they are today. Then, 99% of the photos I took was using the viewfinder. Today, 99% of the photos I take is using the LCD screen. I like the functionality the viewfinder provides (you save battery life by leaving your screen off, and if it's too bright outside to see your LCD, it makes a good back-up tool to line up your shot), but the fact that I (a big fan of viewfinders) so seldom use it puts truth to the reason why fewer and fewer high quality (non-DSLR of course) cameras are coming out that have viewfinders. P.S. I don't know what building this is. Looks like a church of some sort, but I do not have the time or inclination to find out for sure.

Peanut is doing the rock back-and-forth on her hands and knees, like a kid diving for the first time bouncing lightly on the diving board endlessly before making the jump, she never actually goes forward. She gets scared and straightens her legs out, so she's laying flat on the floor where she's comfortable. If you're holding her upright with her feet on the floor, she's content to stand for as long as you're willing to hold her up. She has little issue sitting; her head is so big though, that if she looks up, the weight of it pulls her backward and she'll straighten her legs out for balance, but her legs are not even close to being enough counterweight for that head.

Of baby food, she loves peas and squash, but not so much carrots. She loves watching us eat and appears to mimic our chewing. She's stopped touching her hands together and is instead using them to make noise on whatever surface she happens to be near enough to bash repeatedly. When touching us, she is as delicate as a butterfly... she'll absently glide two fingers, maybe her thumb in addition, on our face or on our arms. In contrast, if she's in the mood to pull hair (on my wife's head or on my forearms or chest) (she doesn't seem to be able to get a good grip on my head hair... probably too oily), she's not quite as delicate.

-21:50, 08JUN2013-

Pirate Stadium, as seen from the US Steel Tower
Pirate Stadium, taken July, 2004.

So this is the highest point that I've been able to take pictures from (other than a plane, of course). It was atop the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh, and the view was expectedly incredible. Looking through my collection, Photography Phaturday will be stuck in Pittsburgh for at least the next four updates, assuming I have no "current" pictures for the week. I have a number of weird memories from this area. It's the first time I ate at Boston Market. I bought Hypocrisy's Arrival here, and I did not like it. I tried to force my way in front of a semi in crawling traffic, and was advised against it by my passenger (the semi appeared to not want to give way to my turn in the "zipper", but I was prepared to push within inches of plastic touching metal). There was a fire alarm in our hotel, and I moved to evacuate. In front of me in the hall was a mother and her mid-teenaged son wandering around, and she audibly asked no one, "How do we get out of here?" (it was an old hotel, and the layout honestly didn't make a lot of sense). I looked up at a federally mandated exit sign, common for all public buildings... it pointed left. I pushed the bar-style handle loud enough for them to hear, saw them turn back to look at me, I pointed upwards toward the sign and went through the door. They didn't follow. I made it outside, met up with my coworkers, and the mother and her son finally joined the rest of the hotel patrons about five minutes later. There was no fire. Another memory is that we were crossing the street when we got the "Walk" signal, and a cab turning left damn near ran us over... we had to stop in our tracks as he partially drove into oncoming traffic to avoid us. I was holding about 20 meters of coiled coax cable at the time, and I swiped the cab with it as he drove within inches of our feet.

I had a certain arrogance that I've since lost. Sometimes I miss it, even if it did get me into trouble on occasion.

-22:40, 01JUN2013-

Picture of an airplane parked on a runway.
Runway in Colorado. I think Boulder, but maybe Denver. Taken June, 2004.

Happy Memorial Day! I didn't feel like updating Saturday or Sunday, so I'm two days late.

Yesterday was Peanut's six month birthday. To celebrate we fed her solids for the second time (rice cereal for babies) (the first time we tried at four months, but our pediatrician said it wasn't necessary because she's growing so much faster than average). She did pretty great, and actually seemed to enjoy it, leaning her head forward with her mouth open to get the next spoonful. Today, she was actually grabbing the spoon by its handle and guiding it into her mouth (and then not letting go of the spoon). I'm so amazed at everything she does on her own, figuring out the world, and instinctively manipulating her environment to meet her necessity (for another example, if she's on a blanket, and a toy is at the edge of the blanket, she will grab the blanket by its wrinkles and pull the object towards her) (she can't crawl yet). She's also started to give kisses... she'll put her hands on either side of your face and gently pull you towards her, then she places her slobbery open mouth on the side of your cheek or your chin (depends which way your head was turned when she decided she was going to give you a kiss), and pulls her head back. "They're the sweetest kisses." - My wife.

I finally received my Drift Ghost camera, took it on a test run and it locked up after the first recording. It locked up a second time on the second test run during the first recording (it saved 10 seconds of video, but would not respond to anything thereafter). The third time it locked up was when I first powered it on, planning my third test run. What's weird is I can't replicate the issue just by playing with the camera. It only seems to happen when I actually want to use it. My Kodak would lock up in a similar way if its memory card was improperly formatted, so I'm wondering if the new memory card I bought for the Ghost is defective. They say Sandisk is a good brand, but if the memory card is the cause for my problems, then this would be the third Sandisk card I've had issues with in my history of flash memory collecting. I'd actually boycotted the brand for years (using much cheaper memory cards that proved to be more reliable) until I saw this one on sale and grabbed it, because I knew I'd need it. If it's not the memory card, then it's the camera that's defective... which would suck.

-16:48, 27MAY2013-

A fish windchime, covered in bird crap.
A friend's neighbor's windchime. Birds seem to like it.

The wifey spotted this one while we were walking around. We visited a coworker of mine who has a daughter the same age (plus two months) as ours, seeing if the two would become great friends. They were shy with each other, but perfectly cordial. It was actually pretty fun, but the difference between the two girls were very apparent. Ours likes to stay up late, while theirs likes to go to bed around eight. Ours isn't content when left alone and awake for more than two minutes, theirs is for more than an hour. Theirs has a full head of hair, ours has stuff that would barely qualify for peach fuzz. Anyway, back to my point, we were walking around their nicely cultivated neighborhood when the wife spotted this, and I had to get a picture of it. I like the lighting.

I never did get an answer from the action cam company about the video degradation when using a narrower FOV, so I ended up ordering the camera to see for myself. I looked on eBay for it, and it's mostly selling for close to its MSRP, so if it doesn't work out, I can recoup most of my money back. One feature that would make my life incredibly easy is its "tagging" feature, where it's not exactly recording, but when you hit the "action" button, it auto-saves the last (up to) five minutes of footage plus the next (up to) ten minutes of footage. I'm curious as to how reliable this is, and if it can be interrupted (I don't need subsequent footage to the traffic event I want to capture). I ordered it Tuesday, expecting it to arrive Friday (yesterday). That didn't happen. In fact, they didn't ship it in the first place (I know this, because I paid extra for UPS shipping rather than their free USPS shipping, and the tracking number associated with my order specified it was never scanned). After being ignored when I asked them my tech question, the delay in shipping compounded my frustration, only making me feel like more of an idiot for trusting them to do what companies typically do (that is, sell you their product). So I crafted a professional email generalizing my mostly horrible experience with the company from day one to that day. Three hours later, 7:25 PM, their time, my order was finally scanned in by UPS, and I received an email response saying as much. With their apology came an offer for a free accessory; I already ordered every accessory that I could possibly use when I ordered the camera. Luck's smile was shining on me I guess, because exactly yesterday the company sent out an email announcing the arrival of the much awaited waterproof case for the camera, the most expensive accessory for it weighing in at $50, so of course I picked that one. We'll see if I actually get it.

-20:19, 18MAY2013-

Baby lying on tummy.
Peanut says, "Happy Mother's Day!"

Just kidding. She can't talk yet... but she can type! Actually, to make it apples to apples, she can talk, and she types about as good as she talks. I told her to type something to her mom for Mother's Day for the world to see, and this is what she says: " cZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZza~q1 333333 Q BHHHHHHHHH,LPM q2aa ". At one point, she somehow managed to delete everything she'd typed (I guess she didn't like how it looked) and typed what you see here instead. I figured she was done typing when she managed to pick the keyboard up and manipulate it enough to put the corner of it in her mouth.

She has a new thing that she's discovered today, that she clamps her gums together and breathes hard through her nose, in and out. She looks like she's making a huge smile from the nose down, but from the nose up she looks like she's very angry. It's extremely cute, in a strange way... and she's doing it constantly. She managed to get us to imitate her with something that neither of us have done before, and she gets a kick out of it.

I gotta say we probably have the most perfect baby any parent could ask for. She is even tempered, has a great sense of humor, she eats with purpose, has slept through the night for many months in a row (though often requiring a meal between two and four in the morning, then back to sleep), her butt always gives us an audible alarm to let us know when she's pooped, and generally loves being a part of the world. When outside and the wind blows in her face, she gasps and smiles, and tries to taste the air with her eyes closed, as her wisps of light colored hair fly backwards (she has about ten strands that are long enough to actually be called hair). She wakes up in a really good mood (unless she's hungry) and greets us both with the biggest smile possible for a face so small when we come to pick her up.

For Mother's Day I went to Costco and bought us some crab legs. Then we went to the Mother's Day party at Little Gym (infants and toddlers only), where Peanut seemed anxious to play with the other kids, but her baby muscles weren't quite developed enough to run around like they were, but it wasn't for lack of trying. I swear she's going to be crawling very soon... she's getting significantly closer every week. After that, we went to the grocery store and picked up fresh corn, potatoes, and spinach, then came home and cooked a meal fit for a king (crab) (cannibal). All said and done, I can say that for an absolute fact that this is the best Mother's Day my wife has ever had. She's been doing everything right, and deserves more than I've given her today. I am grateful to have her as the mother to our child; I doubt anyone else would be more loving or selfless.

Earlier this week I picked up a new action cam (Contour+ 2) to use as a dash cam. It's the most expensive thing I've bought in over a year, weighing in at $400 (but in perspective, that's about 22% of our monthly rent. Yay, DC area). I used it for two days, and was impressed at the video quality it produced. Unfortunately, the camera was missing about a dozen other things that my current camera has, most importantly the ability to charge it while recording, and 2nd most importantly the ability to delete individual clips off of the camera, without hooking it up to a PC (or removing the memory card and putting that into a card reading device of some sort). The third disappointment was that the audio was actually worse than my current cam, while picking up the same 'plinking' sounds as the camera holds steady on the mount on a bumpy road. I can use less than one hand to count how many times I've returned something for a refund, and this camera took up one more finger. I really wanted to like it, but in the end, I knew I wasn't going to be happy with it and I would hate myself for spending so much money on something I didn't like (much like my iPod from 2006... but at least that has 60GB of storage, which is much more than MP3 players today have, and it can be used as an external hard drive). So, I'm still on the lookout for something better. I've already eliminated the Hero 3 Black for other issues... Next up on the list is the Drift HD Ghost, which looks like it would be perfect, if only I could get a technical answer from their staff from a question I asked over a month ago regarding the video degradation when using a narrower field of view, and a sample of nighttime footage.

-20:58, 12MAY2013-

Stream time lapse overexposed, gamma reduced
Got this in the mail, Monday.

About 12 years ago, I was getting two - three calls from telemarketers every day. At least one out of five of the calls was from Discover, offering me a credit card. I asked them a couple of times to stop calling me, but they persisted (I probably wasn't emphatic enough). Finally, I said "Sure, give me a credit card." in order to stop the calls. I got the card and never activated it. One call at least every two days from Discover turned into one call every six months asking if I wanted to activate it. I politely declined, saying that I'm saving it for an emergency (which was true, actually... I kept that card at my apartment and if my wallet ever got stolen, I had the backup waiting for me at home, and if someone stole it from my home, then they couldn't use it because I'd never activated it). They sent me new cards when the old ones expired. I called them to change my address each time I moved. Discover showed up on my credit report as a solid green rectangle, month after month after month, adding to my score. In January this year, I got a letter from them telling me that my account was deactivated. It very succinctly said that it was canceled due to inactivity, and it would never be reinstated. Had they given me an ultimatum to activate or cancel, I would have activated it. Very briefly I felt like I was caught doing something that I wasn't supposed to do. Less than three days later, I received a credit card offer in the mail... from Discover. Two weeks later, another one. A month later, another one. Another month later, same story. This month, I got this letter, and thought it was too ironic to not talk about publicly. They don't call because I don't have a landline any more. /End story.

Peanut is developing at an incredible rate, physically and socially. Just this week she has learned she can stomp in the bath water and create a splash, when held upright by her armpits. Her mixed look of wonder and concentration as she stomps makes me want to feel what it's like to be doing this for the first time. Getting her to giggle uncontrollably fills us with a joy that I don't think could be felt doing anything else. If she's laughing at something, she laughs three times harder if one of us is looking at her. With the stomping in the tub, I think that's helped her to understand better how to control her feet. Holding her so she can kick things (like the dangling animals above her swing) gets her incredibly excited, and she makes the best use out of every second she has a chance to kick that penguin in the face with both feet. She regularly rolls over with one attempt. She can lift her lower body completely off the ground by straightening her legs, and she can lift her entire torso off the ground by straightening her arms. It won't be long before she figures out how to be mobile with more control than one half of her body at a time, which causes her to move in circles.

-22:11, 04MAY2013-

Stream time lapse overexposed, gamma reduced
A stream in Beaver Creek, CO. Captured June, 2004.

This picture is an example of another learning experience of mine. My goal was to have the water look "cool", by using a longer than suggested shutter speed to capture it. Unfortunately, this caused my pictures to become super over-exposed; the result you see here is after a gamma reduction (the original). Much much later, I learned that my camera had what's called a neutral density filter (menu selectable), which is specifically meant to block all light equally, to allow for longer shutter speeds without reducing image fidelity. Too bad I didn't know about it here, eh?

-22:17, 27APR2013-

It's a Fido House poop bag dispenser.
A poop bag dispenser, in our apartment complex. Photo taken Monday.

Monday we went on a walk with the stroller, and I brought my camera like I always do. I don't know why, but I took a picture of this to "show off" my camera's depth of field capabilities (meaning the blurriness in out of focus objects). I guess there is room to talk about the object... it's for dog owners to pick up their dog's droppings. Our last apartment had these too, but the tenants seemed to refuse to use them, and instead allowed their dogs to leave piles everywhere. The tenants at the new place seem to be pretty meticulous about it, and we're incredibly grateful for it (as is our carpet).

Wednesday night wasn't so fun. I was relaxing in the recliner/sofa, half napping, with Peanut sleeping on my chest. After an hour, she started coughing, with choking sounds... I sat her upright and she vomited everything in her stomach. She'd never vomited like that before, but it's typical for typical babies, so we cleaned her up and changed her clothes (and I changed my clothes). Not a half hour later, my wife had to throw up as well. Then my daughter threw up again. Then my wife. Then my daughter. Then my wife. Then my daughter. It was heartbreaking seeing her cry after gagging over and over again, not knowing what or why it was happening... We went to the ER and they looked over Peanut. They guessed it was a stomach bug, gave her some anti-nausea medicine, and she was nursing a half an hour later, and kept everything down. Around 2AM we were finally released. In our bed, Peanut fussed and cried until nearly seven o'clock. Finally I laid her on her back on the center of my pillow and she instantly fell asleep, with her arms slowly relaxing to her sides. We all slept until noon. I went into work on Friday, but then around lunch I started feeling nauseated. "No biggie. All mental.", I thought to myself. I took the rest of the day off, just in case. Long story short, between 3 PM Friday and 3 PM Saturday (hey, that's today), I slept about 16 hours, and ate nothing. Other than a fever (100.4), I had none of the effects of the bug that my wife and daughter had. Peanut is almost back to normal, but we're still being careful about how much to feed her. Her stomach is still jittery (she threw up once last night and once this afternoon), but she's otherwise been the best baby any parent could expect considering how miserable she feels. We've gone through two weeks worth of diapers and two loads of burp cloths. Despite it all, she's still calm and smiling. I can't wait until we can bounce her around, making her crack up and squeal like before.

-21:38, 20APR2013-

It's a tree blossoming in Spring.
Spring finally decided to show up. Photo taken Wednesday.

We had our family photos taken today at JC Penny. The experience was pretty disappointing. The deal was that you get 32 pictures taken of you in various configurations, and then you pick a package that prints out 14, 16, or 18 sheets, narrowing your selection of printed pictures to about 8 or 9, depending on how many copies of X picture you'd want taking up more of your available sheets. Of course, you can buy more sheets a la carte if you so want. Our photographer seemed intent on taking bad pictures for half of the shots. Either that, or her reaction was very slow... With the camera pointed at her, Peanut would smile, look away, and start getting upset and *FLASH* there's 1/32 that we can't use. The price we paid was worth it in the end, but the whole thing seemed rushed and disorganized. Also there was a basket that Peanut was to sit in (with pillows) that was incredibly unstable. If she were to lift her head and drop it down, she would have tumbled off the pedestal... I held the basket down. If they continue to use that same thing, some unlucky kid is going to have very rich parents one day.

I posted a review for my Canon G1X on Canon's website. They rejected it because it didn't fit their "guidelines". After looking over their "guidelines" I failed to see where I violated anything in them. I posted a mostly positive, but critical review that was meant to help future shoppers. Overall I gave the camera 4/5 stars - the image results are incredible, but the ease of use is poor. Because I've been censored, I might draw up a review on here (and maybe even make it more critical). I've been wanting to talk about my G5, G11, and G1X and do a serious comparison between them. The G5 still has some options that I wish my newer cameras had...

-19:10, 13APR2013-

Beaver Creek valley summertime, with clouds.
Beaver Creek, CO. June, 2004

So this was an interesting town... lots of wealth, out in the middle of nowhere. The winding road that led up to this "neighborhood" was extremely well made (by this I mean clear paint, no bumps except for the concrete seams), clean, and decorated. It's a resort for millionaires and people that win contests like Wheel of Fortune, and I got to go for free (to work). I only had a short time to take pictures, so I tried to take as many as I could, because everything about the town looked straight out of a movie. The grounds were meticulously cultivated, the decor expensive-looking, the landscape incredible, and the people were mostly beautiful (men and women; I don't discriminate).

Peanut is back to being friends with Tommy the Turtle again. Whatever he did to set her off, she's forgiven him enough to punch and swat at him repeatedly while laughing, as he hangs above her head in her Pack & Play.

I've been working on my next dashcam video for over three months. Before fatherhood, it took me about three weeks to make one, and that's without really focusing on it but for a couple of days. Now, I have about 1.5 hours of free time that I can spend on it during a weekday, and I use that time doing less brain-intensive things. So yeah, I expected it to take a while, but I had no idea it would be this long... and I'm only about 70% done.

-21:15, 06APR2013-

Infantino Topsy Turtle
Peanut's ex best friend, looking lonely this morning.

We named him Tommy, but our daughter only knew him as the "eternally smiling green thing that would dance fast and stop suddenly, making me giggle uncontrollably". Today, he's barely worth looking at and pushing aside. She's interested in more complicated, better looking toys that actually talk back to her. More mature toys, if you will.

We had a blizzard earlier in the week and with it were all sorts of things to take pictures of... but the act of going outside right after getting home from work to take pictures seemed irresponsible while my wife needed just a little relief from her all-day-long babysitting job. Of course, there was the fact that it was very cold and windy outside, and I didn't want to go back out there. As a result, this is the first winter that I haven't posted any snow pics on this website, and that's because I took no pictures of the snow.

-20:35, 30MAR2013-

You know what? I've been thinking that it's pretty silly to put my time/date stamp at the end of my posts the way that I do. This is how I will post them from now on... I may even go back over older posts and consistent-tize it. What do you think? Oh, that's right, I haven't been adding comment links to my posts like I used to. I guess I'll never know what you think. I blame spambots.

-22:25; 25MAR2013-

Infant in a bounce-thing that they sit in and bounce in.
Peanut in her new bouncy-jump-sit-play-music thing, this morning.

She has such an intense look of concentration sometimes, and has a larger attention span than I do... there's no doubt she's going to be smarter than me by the time she's ten, if not sooner. For now, she'll focus on a mechanical toy, get close to it and get a better look to try and understand how it works, slowly, steadily pulling herself towards it (or it towards her) until finally... she can put her mouth on it. (Kind of meant to be a joke. Sure, she's the smartest baby in the world, but she's still a baby.) This morning, in her swing, she was humming incoherently. Somehow I figured out that she was humming to the music that it plays. Her tone and pitch would change from one song to the next... she wasn't mimicking the notes so much as she seemed to be supplementing what was playing. She's constantly curious about what's going on around her, and doesn't seem to be afraid of anything (which can be a very very good thing and a very very bad thing at the same time). She only cries when she's hungry or tired. Her favorite toy is a multi-colored plastic chain (she has more than one of these, but there is a specific one that she prefers). I think she's figured out that her friend in the bathroom mirror is actually herself. Between this update and the next update, she will turn four months old. According to the "What you can expect, month by month" book, she's passed all five month old milestones, and most of the "possible, but unlikely" milestones. One of the ones she hasn't passed is to object when you take a toy away, but I think her super-cool temperament prevents her from objecting more than her age/development ratio. -18:45, 23MAR2013

Orlando convention center.
Convention center in Orlando, FL. Taken from the elevated walkway leading to it, May 2004.

It was during this trip that I took some of my best pictures for a long time running. I still use a picture of this convention center, during a sunset, after a rain as my desktop background. The "neighborhood" was very beautiful and meticulously cultivated back in 2004. I'm a little afraid to see what it looks like now, what with ten years of merciless sunlight beating down on the architecture, combined with the general convention center industry imploding on itself in 2008 and on. In this image, even though the lens was zoomed in all the way, the shutter speed my camera used was 1/1000th of a second at an ISO of 50. "What does that mean to me?", most people would ask. I'll tell you. It means it was damn bright out there. A typical outdoor photo at that ISO with that camera is 1/500th of a second, and that's with the lens unzoomed.

Yesterday we got a sitter and went out on a date for sushi. I had a new haircut that I used my lunch hour to get that day, so when the babysitter called saying that Peanut was inconsolable and wouldn't take a bottle, I was unable to calm her down enough to take the bottle when we came home early. She fussed and cried like I haven't seen her fuss and cry in months... She didn't recognize me. I think the last haircut I got was in December, so it was a pretty big difference in appearance for her to handle. This morning she was still acting with me like she does with strangers... sociable, but not "close" (not wanting to touch my face, or make eye contact for long, or laugh at the things she normally laughs at). I don't know what it was, but on the changing table she realized that I was her missing dad, and in the space of one second her personality did a 180. She waved at me, talking and laughing for nearly five minutes straight (with me egging her on, of course). I'm going to have to get haircuts more frequently, so I mostly look the same before/after, so I don't scare her like that again. -17:32, 16MAR2013

Wife, groom, stained glass background.
This photo obviously not taken by me, March 10, 2007

Well, obvious if you don't know who these people are. They are me and my wife on our wedding day. Twelve years we've been together, six now in marriage. We have a 3 month old infant, who has been the best baby in the world, but she still limits our ability to go and do things. So, for our sixth anniversary, I bought beef wellington from a local butcher (it's her favorite dish, but it's very expensive and hard to find a place that serves it), a bottle of champagne that I will be 'forced' to drink most of, and we'll be spending our anniversary at home. She bought some cake mix, so we'll also be having cake for dessert. We didn't exchange gifts or cards this time, so the least I could do for my loverly wife is talk about her on my website, which is something I've very rarely done.

So, thank you my dear, for sticking it out with me for six plus one years, away from your friends and family. Thank you for loving me for who I am, and for letting me be myself. Thank you for baking and birthing Peanut, who on her own has added a previously unimaginable layer to my life that feels surprisingly natural (so far). I owe you everything, yet you ask for nothing in return. Happy Anniversary, my wife. I love you!!! -14:47, 10MAR2013

A street in the Orlando convention center area, empty, at night.
A very well lit, very empty street in Orlando, May, 2004

The design of this street is built for massive amounts of traffic, yet its location affords it tons during the day, and basically zero at night. It's a bunch of convention centers and hotels, far, far away from Disney World or anything else that someone might pass through to visit. Somewhere between the last picture and this one, I bought a mini-tripod for $10. It is still my only tripod, and does everything I've ever wanted a tripod to do. I used it to take this picture from the roof-top of a 20 story hotel. Strange how most of my night photography was practiced 9 years ago, but these days I usually don't bother.

Peanut is starting to make an incredible effort to be mobile. It's to the point where I can't hold her like I used to be able to, because she'll easily cause herself to fall over or forward without warning (she has pretty strong abs) (she can already do more pushups than I can, too). If I support her while she guides herself, she'll typically just want to put her mouth on something (if I'm holding her upright, the crook of my elbow seems to be particularly tasty). Her monologues are becoming incredibly complex compared to how they were just a week ago, with infinite combinations of pitches and tones, cooing, "laughing", growling, or generally just being loud. When she talks to me, she's looking at me as though I understand what she's saying, and when I talk to her, she looks at me like she understands what I'm saying. Of course, neither of us understand anything, but they are still some of the best conversations I've ever had. -10:35, 03MAR2013

Blurry picture of the fountain at the Waco Hilton, at night.
A blurry picture of the fountain at my hotel, in Waco, TX. Taken May, 2004.

Here is where I learned another lesson about photography; the first of dozens of how to properly shoot night photos. See how blurry the image is? (Not the water - the water is supposed to be blurry.) I took over a dozen pictures of this fountain, unable to understand why my near-new $580 G5 camera couldn't focus properly, even when using manual focus mode. The camera came with a fairly hefty manual, so I read through it that night and the following day. I already knew about camera shake and how it comes into play with longer shutter speeds, which is why I took extra care to hold the camera still in the above shot. However, what I didn't know, is that even with sniper-like muscle control, the camera will still move enough to make an image blurry. A tripod was needed. So the next night I set my camera down on a trash can.

Clear-er picture of the fountain at the Waco Hilton, at night.
Picture taken the next day, after a lesson learned.

The difference in results are clear (pun intended). Lessons that I hadn't learned by this point are the secret of the 2 second timer, the good things about high ISO images (this didn't pertain to the G5, as its 100 or higher ISO settings were mostly unusable), how focal length affects the potential brightness of a photo, and the advantages of the neutral density filter integrated in all of my Canon cameras.

I suppose that's it for this update. I haven't been paying attention to politics, so I have nothing to say about that. Peanut is still growing and hitting milestones (she has been able to turn herself over for two weeks now.) (She will also walk if I hold her by her hands and lean her forward... one foot naturally goes in front of the other. Incredible!) (She still likes to touch her hands/fingers together. I hope she never quits the habit.). Nina's birthday has probably passed and I forgot to wish her a happy birthday. It's not the first time this has happened. I haven't yet started on my next dashcam video (strangely, I don't have the free time I used to). We're having a chili cook-off at work tomorrow, and my recipe-less chili is almost done. I forgot to buy jalapenos, but it's turning out to be one of my better batches. -21:20, 24FEB2013

Waco pedestrian bridge, ground level.
Waco bridge from the ground, taken May 2004.

Cousins were here over the weekend, so I didn't update on Saturday. Or Sunday. Or Monday. It was a pretty good three days... We mostly hung out and played with Peanut and watched TV. Couldn't have gone better as far as I'm concerned; freezing temperatures outside and an infant make otherwise fun things to do in public sound dreadful.

Anyway, I just wanted to get an update out before Saturday, when I plan to update again, rather than do a double-update. Enjoy the picture of the bridge. The original was crooked and off-center. I fixed it. -21FEB2013

G11 zoomed in macro capture of a ceramic castle.   G1X zoomed in  macro capture of a ceramic castle.
Macro comparison between my two best cameras.

So this is what I was talking about last week. The G11 destroys the more expensive and newer G1X for macro images. Both pictures were taken on a tripod in the same spot, with cameras zoomed in on the greenery as close as it could zoom while still being able to focus clearly. I haven't done a test like this before; I knew the G11 could get closer to objects but I had no idea the difference would be this great. Looks like I'll be holding onto the G11 for longer than I thought.

Even though the G1X is (severely) underwhelming in its macro performance, the finished image stands out better. Colors are more clearly defined, and textures are less blurry. I sized down the G11's image and cropped a portion of the G1X's image to give (as close to) an apples to apples comparison of what I mean when I say this. The clearest sign is the green color; it looks brownish on the G11's version, and overall looks smeared.

If you don't see a significant difference, then your monitor sucks. In a future update I will attempt to take pictures that I don't have to size down to get a 1:1 comparison crop. The challenge that's presented is the 10MP vs 14MP resolution difference, and how to get the zoom on each camera perfectly situated so that objects roughly use the same number of pixels from one camera's image to the next. I think this experiment will show even better the G11's poor image composition. That concludes today's lesson.

In Peanut news, she rolled herself over for the first time from her stomach. She was fussing the whole time, and seemed quite surprised when it happened, which made her fuss more, but I'm unbelievably proud of her for it. She's not supposed to be able to do this until she's five - six months.

All three of us went to Costco for the first time, got memberships, and it wasn't but two minutes into the shopping process that I started getting into near-panic mode. I've always hated being in crowds, factor in the goal-oriented objective that comes with shopping for things, then the ticking timebomb that is a newborn, and you have a me that just wants to GTF out of Costco. Turns out 3:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday is the time that everyone else goes to Costco. Who would have thought? So we grabbed some pre-made Tandoori Chicken (surprisingly good), diapers, and a few other things along the way to those items, and left. Paid cash because they only take American Express. Peanut was very well behaved the whole time, charming strangers everywhere until she fell asleep when we hit the checkout counter. -21:40, 09FEB2013

Stink bug on a wire.
A stink bug in my cubicle at work, Monday morning.

It's a picture from the week! Here is a day that I both happened to bring my camera and happened to have a stink bug make its presence known in my cubicle. I took three or four pictures of it, but this one was the best. He kept climbing to the underside of the wire once he realized what I was up to. I was using my newest camera, a Canon G1X, and it's a great camera for many many reasons. One of those reasons is NOT its macro mode, which you see being used in this picture. This is the absolute closest I could get to the bug to take a picture, before it was out of focal range. My G11, which is a good camera but not a great one, has an excellent macro mode which I will try to put on display next week in comparison to the G1X. One thing that does sort of make up for the G1X's crappy macro mode, is the 14MP resolution of the sensor. A full size crop of the bug actually looks decent. (The limitations of this camera are inversely proportional to its advantages - that being the large sensor forcing tradeoffs in the lens design.)

Stink bug on a wire, cropped.

Peanut is in her swing to my left, talking to no one in particular, and I never get tired of hearing it. She has a good collection of "toys" (rattles, stuffed animals, teething rings) but the one thing she really seems to enjoy is blankets. She loves looking at design patterns and she loves sticking her face in them (and seeing what they taste like... or drying her tongue on them, depending on whichever seems the best explanation for her licking the fabric). She doesn't have a favorite yet, but she definitely prefers the softer blankets to the grainy ones (though she won't turn down the grainy ones). She does the same to your shirt if you hold her upright. At first it seems like she's rooting, but the look on her face says she's having a blast. Before you realize it, you have a slug trail of slobber on your shirt, from left to right and back again. -21:05, 02FEB2013

Pedestrian bridge in Waco.
A bridge made for walking-types, Waco, TX. Taken May, 2004.

What you see here is by a large margin the most popular picture I've posted on my website. I've received not one, not two, not three, but six requests via email for permission to use it. Each one was for a presentation of some sort by a government employee or someone doing a school project. My second most popular image is the one of the GM building, but it was only popular during the time of the bailouts, and it was used by multiple news organizations, and even one in Russia. Both pictures were taken hastily, but the lighting and angle happens to be just right, and the G5 captured it better than I could have expected. -26JAN2013

It's a sunset with dark clouds, Boca Raton, FL
A sunset before some night rain, Boca Raton, May, 2004.

Playing with my (then, new) camera, this is the best picture out of a dozen or so pictures of the same sunset (there's a zoomed out version of it in my Sunsets section... obviously, "best" is subjective because I thought that one was the best when I first posted it, whenever ago).

In the eight weeks I've known Peanut, I've watched her personality flourish from someone that, when in a good mood just looks at you, to someone who will not only smile when she likes something, but has different smiles for different (and specific) things. The smile she gives when you boop her nose is different from the smile when you make a funny noise at her, and those are different from the smile you get when she's just smiling at nothing in particular. I found a new one this morning, when I laid her down on the changing table and she immediately started stretching. I imitated her face and mirrored her stretching with my arms... her eyes half rolled with closed mouth smile that (to me) said, "Stop being silly, dad." When changing her, she gets a real kick out of it if I hold her diaper up and make noise with it by pulling it taut repeatedly (this smile is also different... grinning bigger on one side of her mouth).

I found a game that she enjoys... Well, it's not so much a game as it is me pulling gently on her feet and squeezing her toes, as she sits on my lap. I call the game "Uttertoes", and most of the time she'll be entertained by it, for more than an hour if I play that long. She likes to have conversations. I'll say, "Hellooooo", and she'll say, "Aaaaayyyyyyoooooooaaaaaa" (I swear she's trying to say Hello back to me) and we'll go back and forth for almost a minute before one of us gets distracted by something. For nurturing, she goes to her mom. Since she was two weeks old, it's nearly impossible to get her to go to sleep in my arms or on my chest. When she's tired, she'll cry and look generally pathetic and miserable for a long time as I switch positions and try to get her comfortable. Finally, I hand her to her mom, and a minute later she's racked out on her chest. Educational things also go to her mom, who doesn't tire in pointing out colors and animals festooned in various parts of the alien baby paraphernalia that has decided to take up space with us.

I was unsure about how I'd feel about being a parent. I've always wanted kids, but I didn't know if being a parent would be intensely more difficult than I expected it to be. Thankfully, it's much better than I expected it to be. Of course, the fact that our daughter is quite exceptional in everything she does might actually be the reason why this parenting thing is so rewarding. I could be biased, too... I'd rather watch her breathe than watch anything on TV. -22:49, 19JAN2013

Old pair of shoes, basking in the sunlight.
It's my old fancy shoes, on a hotel room floor in Florida, May, 2004.

This is the picture I was talking about, that helped me discover the advantages of high resolution images. Unfortunately, after taking this picture, I continued on taking 1600 x 1200 images throughout the day before I viewed them all on my laptop. It's important to save memory card space, you know. 512 MB would only hold about 300 full resolution images (this is tongue in cheek... 300 images is a lot. I recognize now that I was just being silly trying to conserve space). Anyway, once I viewed them on my laptop I was a bit blown away by this picture. My camera captured an ordinary, ugly object and made it look more detailed than real life. It didn't just capture the shoe strings, but the wispy threads trying to escape their braiding. It didn't just capture the wrinkles in the leather, but the dust trapped in them. And I didn't even have to hold the camera close to it; the optical zoom allowed me to take this picture from about ten feet away. This image was a milestone in the growing addiction that I would have for the next several years... taking pictures of everything and staring at their digital representation on my computer screen. I left the larger image at full resolution, so that the world can admire the detail that I admired.

Where oh where has my free time gone? With the little bit of time I have, it's like I don't want to waste it on doing something that I won't really enjoy, so I just sit at my computer, looking at depressing news and trying to stay entertained until I get an idea of something that would maximize my enjoyment/time ratio. What makes it more pathetic is I like to look at the digital sales going on for PC games that I no longer have time for. There's some really really good deals out there. Before I know it, it's time to go to bed. At least I used this morning to make my new Photography Phaturday title image, and the afternoon to update this web log. Time well spent, I say. -14:25, 12JAN2013

A steering wheel of a Chevrolet Venture minivan.
The 2nd picture I took with my Canon G5, May, 2004.

This is the first picture I took. Here we were in Boca Raton, Florida, driving around in our rental Chevy Venture minivan killing time (allowing me the opportunity to shop for my camera) before plans got established and we could get to work. I took the picture at a resolution of 1600 x 1200, because I felt like I didn't need the full 5MP resolution of 2592 x 1944. It was ridiculous; 1800 x 1200 was more than enough. I just needed a camera that would capture scenes more accurately. This opinion quickly changed when I was able to view the detail of some 5 MP images I took on a laptop. That story to come in a later blog post, with its associated image. Aren't you excited?

Peanut is growing so quickly... The wifey is very sad about it, and I'm a little sad about it. I used to hold her upright near my belly, and as I walked around she would look up at my forehead, mesmerized at (?). Her mouth stretched wide, but closed, it was one of the thousands of cute things she did/does. She no longer does that. The trade-off though, is that she smiles more and more. I can touch her nose while saying "Boop" and she'll look at me like it's the most amazing thing she's experienced in the last ten seconds (because it is) (but that's also her attention span, so it's like the most amazing thing she's experienced in her life). She likes to coo, and she still loves to touch both hands' worth of her fingers together. She can hold her head up for longer periods of time (she's always had a strong neck), and she's getting to the point where she can lift up her upper torso while laying face down on the floor. The books say crawling starts at 7 months, minimum. I think she's going to beat it by at least a month, if not three. She can already stand on her own, with balance controlled (meaning, I make a loose oval with my hands and let her wobble to and fro as she stands on my thigh). I don't do it but a few seconds a day because we don't want her to get bow-legged, but she stresses her legs out on her own by pushing them against whatever she can, when she's in the mood to (and pushes her whole body in the process). Maybe she has restless legs syndrome.

Today was our first outing as a family. We went to Babies 'R Us (Always a dumb name, IMO. Toys 'R Us was dumb in the first place, because the people that work there aren't toys, but they sell toys, and Babies 'R Us doubles the stupidity by not selling babies). Peanut is like most babies in that she calms down when the vehicle is moving, and will even fall asleep. She slept through most of the shopping, and was easy to soothe when she woke up. All in all, it wasn't so bad. She had to be held the whole time, and we had tons of baby accessories in the shopping cart, severely limiting our space, but (I repeat) all in all, it wasn't so bad. Maybe next time we can bring her on a plane or a quiet restaurant. -23:31, 05JAN2013

Some trees with moss.
Trees and a red dirt road, Thomasville, GA, captured April 2004.

This picture frustrated the hell out of me. No matter what I did, or how many pictures I took, it would always look like a pixely, grainy mess. The scene in person was incredibly beautiful, and you can tell that the picture captured a beautiful scene, but the picture itself is not beautiful (IMO). It was this event that was the final straw. I needed a better camera. In fact, this bunch was my last pictures taken with my Kodak in 2004. I bought the G5 in May, 2004 and I still have a small love affair with it (as you may be able to tell, if you've kept up with my web logging). I still keep the Kodak in my car for emergencies, and occasionally use it. At the same time, my work phone, a Samsung Galaxy S II has an 8 MP camera on it that takes infinitely better pictures than my Kodak. It might just be time to retire the old thing.

Today was our first real snow of the year. I would have gotten pictures, but I was holding the baby all morning, and by the time I was able to hand her off to the wife, the snow had melted. :( -19:34, 29DEC2012

Centipede on carpet.
A centipede on my hotel room floor, Moultrie, GA, captured April 2004.

Actual work to be done was happening in Thomasville, about half an hour south of where we were. Since I was one of the last people on site, the hotel closer to Thomasville was already full, so I got to stay at this one in Moultrie. Despite the centipede, it was definitely the nicer of the two hotels, as the A/C and hot water both worked splendidly. Otherwise, Moultrie was one of the more depressing towns I've stayed in. The place was a ghost town, and what people lived there were all morbidly obese, or had some obvious form of disability. It seemed that government subsidy kept the town on life support. The worst was when we went to a Chinese buffet... The three guys I walked in with, our combined weight was less than the average weight of the customer there. Even the hostess was barely capable of fitting behind the counter to take our money. When the drawer came out, she had to push in her stomach to open it enough to lift the money clamps. I have no idea how that place was able to stay in business at $6.99 all-you-can-eat, unless the government subsidized it somehow, or maybe it was a front for some southern Georgian gangster and his illegal Chinese finger-trap trade from Tallahassee to Atlanta.

When I was young, time moved very slowly. As I got older, time gradually picked up its pace, steadily steadily chugging down the hill. Since Peanut was born, time has been in a free-fall. My birthday came and went, and I wouldn't have realized it if I didn't get email messages from Facebook, from people posting Happy Birthday on my wall. Then came Christmas, a holiday that even now still feels like it's weeks away. How is it the day after already? We still have a pile of Christmas cards to seal up and mail out. And how is today Peanut's one month birthday? We just brought her home from the hospital. Clothes that used to be floppy on her are now getting too small. Holding her upright to my chest, I used to be able to fit her butt and feet all in one hand, making for a very easy hold and very comfortable baby. Now, there's not enough room for both her feet, and soon only her butt will fit. It's amazing how quickly she's growing... I just want time to slow down, or even just keep the gradual acceleration it had before November 26th. Back then, I thought it reasonable to make her a little cake and take some pictures with her to post on the internet, but I only just realized that today was her one month birthday as I typed this paragraph. Now, I'm worried I might blink at the wrong time and miss her first birthday (the annual one). -21:01, 26DEC2012

Baby profile pic.
Peanut, 1 hour ago.

No larger image this time, due to the blurry nature of the photo. She's so friggin cute. This is also a TheCrawdaddyPage exclusive (for now). -17:00, 15DEC2012

Basic sunset in Seoul, Korea
A sun setting on a "suburb" of Seoul, Korea, April 2004

I already have a very similar image in my sunsets section. That one has the sun on the right, this one has the sun on the left. You can put 'em together and make a mini-panoramic image. Checking this update for duplicates, I found that the Phaturday update from two weeks ago was duplicate from my Places I've Been section. Sorry about that.

I did a count... 89 of the last 90 pictures I've taken are of my daughter. There are so many things she does that I still have to capture... like when she's thinking about something, she likes to touch her perfect fingertips together on each hand and make wave motions, not dissimilar to the way Mr. Burns when he's conspiring. Her fidget is a tad less coordinated and much, much cuter of course. When she's trying to figure something out, she furrows her brow, and in that moment she looks like I think I would have looked at her age, doing the same thing. She's starting to smile. It's very rare, but there's a discernible joy in her face compared to the smiles she does when she has gas (that, and when she does have gas she makes a combination of about a hundred other expressions). We're not "supposed" to see her first real smile until about the six week mark but whatever... those people don't know what they're talking about with their fancy "degrees" and "studies" and "accreditations" and other nonsense.

She's also starting to get more fussy and harder to please. She's fighting sleep, which has its own positives during the day, but certainly a much bigger negative in that she's pretty cranky until she finally conks out solid.

And with that, I'm off to bed. Tomorrow is my first work day since the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. It's been a good run... I got about half as much stuff done as I wanted to, but at least once I'm done typing this sentence, I'll be that much closer to finishing everything I intend to. -00:18, 10DEC2012

Baby pic
Peanut, less than 1 hour old, Monday.

So far, this is my favorite picture of our little girl. Her fingers are in her mouth. Her eyes are alert. Her hat is askew. She'd been through a lot by this point, and was taking comfort in the only thing familiar to her from the womb... those little fingers of hers in her mouth. She was making an amazing amount of sound sucking on them, and her mood was otherwise content, focused on nothing but the still, silent curtain to her left (though science says she can't see anything but a blur for at least a little while).

When she yawns, her face contorts in a way that says all of her effort is going to trying to make her mouth open as wide as it possibly can, but when it reaches its limit, a dime could barely make it through. She makes random squeaking noises when she's close to falling asleep. Sometimes, when she is asleep, she'll spaz at random with all of her limbs straight, and slowly drift back to being relaxed (she's probably dreaming about being a frog, jumping). She hates being naked (probably because she's cold) and she hates getting dressed (once dressed, she's back to being happy). Her little farts aren't quite so little... you can hear them from across the room (and I couldn't be prouder). She likes to wave her hands in the air; if she's swaddled she will work them free. Since day 2, she's stopped sucking on her hand. She takes far more comfort in being held, and hearing the voices that she's heard for months a little clearer. She doesn't like hats and she doesn't dislike hats. She's very easy to hold, very easy to kiss, and very easy to feed (so says my wife). Changing diapers is getting less frenzied as she gets used to it, but it still isn't her favorite thing (that "being naked" thing probably having something to do with that).

The wifey has been a trooper. She went through a C-section after hours of pain that an epidural could no longer cure. Peanut, as it turns out, has a huge head. When I was in the army, in a Batallion of 240 I had the 2nd largest hat size, so you can guess where she gets it from. When they pulled Peanut out and put her on the cleaning table, they invited me over. It was heartbreaking that Jessie couldn't be there with me, but she was able to watch from her operating table 40 feet away as they sewed her back up. I asked the nurse if I could touch her (her = Peanut), she said of course, so I caressed the back of her fist with my finger, and she immediately grabbed it. The whole experience was surreal and most of it wonderful. Mr. Panic tried to sneak in when I saw what was on the other side of the cloth where my wife laid, but I kicked him in the face.

The hospital stay was mostly horrible. Nurses, specialists continued to rotate in and out of the room, asking if we needed anything, and explaining to us what their jobs were. Parking on Sunday night was fine. Coming back after going to a 7-11 for a $12 money order for a birth certificate at 1PM on a Wednesday, parking was impossible. I had to park in the 2nd visitor garage which is on the other side of the hospital, and a 25 minute's walk through the hospital (20 if you go completely around the complex on the sidewalk). Elevators consistently took 5 minutes to get to your floor, and two times out of three, they'd be full. Some of the staff enjoyed their job and were good at what they did... both very important to patient confidence. Unfortunately, not everyone we encountered seemed to be of the same calibur. We often got mixed answers. The hospital did great where it counts though, in that our baby was delivered safely, and my wife is recovering quickly from a flawless operation. Additionally, the coffee machine actually made pretty good coffee. -22:10, 01DEC2012

Double U-turn failure in Seoul, Korea
Traffic related shenanigans. Picture taken in Seoul, Korea, April 2004

Here traffic was backed up pretty bad in the direction our bus was going. To avoid this, one, then two cars attempted a U-turn in the middle of the road. It didn't work out so well as the one car didn't quite make the turn, and the car behind him (while giving lots of space) was making the driver nervous, so he just sat there I guess waiting for the black car to get around. In the meantime, right-turning traffic coming from the cross street is blocked for much longer than necessary.

In speaking of bad drivers, I finished up my 9th episode two weeks ago and forgot to post about it here. You can watch it by clicking THIS TEXT-LOOKING URL LINK RIGHT HERE.

I hope all of my US residing readers had a great Thanksgiving holiday. It was our last Thanksgiving where it would be just us. The very pregnant wifey cooked a great meal and we watched Showtime on Demand for most of the remainder of the evening. It was very relaxing, and we both ate more food than we should have (which is what you're supposed to do on Thanksgiving).

Peanut was due on the 20th, and even today she shows no signs of hurrying to meet the world. We induce on Monday, so the next time I update this site, I'll be sure to post another picture from Korea. -18:10, 24NOV2012

Bonus paragraph: Today also marks my 40th day of sobriety. Around 2005 after a number of events in my life (namely learning how to drink in India, where beers were $20 a glass except between 5 and 7 when Kingfisher was free) I began drinking on weekdays, almost every day (I was already drinking on weekends). I've gained a lot of weight since then, and since I don't buy the cheap stuff, it can get pretty expensive. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to quit; during the time period I've gone three, sometimes four days without a drink, but generally only when I was in a situation where it would be impolite or inconvenient to drink. I quit because it's my habit to drink at night until it's time for bed (usually 3 beers, but sometimes more), and then I sleep pretty hard until my alarm goes off. I didn't want to be in this state when my wife goes into labor, so on October 15th I decided to not take the risk. The first week was tough... I didn't realize how much of my evening was planned around drinking. Especially noticeable was my little habit of wanting to grab for the mug every time I hit a break in a game. By the time the second week was done, I stopped missing it. 40 days later, I'm all of 3 pounds lighter (I thought the weight would fall off like bricks in a Hatian apartment complex in an earthquake). I originally intended to pick the habit back up once Peanut got settled in, but now I'm not so sure, because I really don't miss it. That's assuming that I'll even have time to drink in the first place. Anyway, I guess my big point is that I'm surprised at how easy it was to quit, given my family's genetic disposition for alcoholism. I knew I could do it, but I was worried that it would be incredibly difficult... you see these people on Intervention that say "I can quit any time I want." and they just can't do it, while they're destroying their lives as they drink to avoid their problems. I guess that's the secret though; don't drink for the wrong reasons, and you probably won't have a problem. -18:24, 24NOV2012

A Japanese drink vending machine.
A vending machine at the military airport in Okinawa, Japan. Taken April, 2004

I've been to Japan before. Did you know that? I completely forgot about it, until I saw this image as I go through my image folders before updating my website for Photography Phaturday (Phunday, in this case). It was on the way to Korea and we were laid over there for about four hours. We didn't set foot in the country, but we did take a bus ride from the plane to the waiting area in another part of town. It was my first experience riding on the left side of the road. This vending machine picture is one of two pictures I took in the country. The second picture is of the same vending machine, but rotated 90 degrees. I remember getting a bag of something that looked like Cheetos from another vending machine. It tasted nothing like Cheetos; it was bland, but in a good non-stroke inducing way.

Still no babies yet. She's due Tuesday, but the docs say she will probably be late. Gives me more time to cram in more video game playing. -18NOV2012

A bench at Washington Zoo, overgrown.
A bench at Washington National Zoo. Picture taken March, 2004.

I went pretty heavy on the post-processing of this one. It still looks noisy and grainy, but you get the point. They built the (pointless?) rail, closing access to the bench, but did not remove the bench. (Years?) later, it still sits, overgrown and forgotten. A modest monument to a smaller, friendlier government from times past.

So half of my "prediction" was right. Obama certainly had his electoral landslide, but I really thought Romney would have pulled the popular vote, or at least had a closer count. Oh well. The stock market stumbled, dropping some 430 points from Wednesday - Friday, and will likely shrink anemically for the next couple of weeks. The so called Fiscal Cliff looms, and I hope that it happens. With any addict, they need to hit rock bottom before they get better. As Ron Paul likes to day, we're addicted to not just government spending, but the growth of government spending, and we'll never hit rock bottom if we keep narrowly avoiding the inevitable year over year. We keep getting that last "fix" to keep us going for a little longer while our health continues to deteriorate and we get further and further away from reality. The longer we delay it, the more it will hurt when reality finally hits.

In speaking of the future and bringing babies into the world as the apocalypse draws near, my wife has started calling me The Baby Whisperer. Reason being, whenever Peanut is uncomfortable in the womb, she'll start stretching and kicking and twisting, causing my wife to make a grimace face and say "Geeze, kid.... uggggRRRRHHHAAHHHHRRRRRR". If I press my hand on her stomach, Peanut will calm down, almost every time. It's pretty neat. - 16:39, 10NOV2012

The election is tomorrow. Polls are constantly being paraded across TV screens and news sites showing Romney being in the lead. What everyone seems to be ignoring is the electoral college specific polling that shows Obama will win handily (a candidate needs 270 to win; Obama is expected to pull 300+). I think Romney will garner 52% (or more) of the total votes between he and Obama, but still lose the election. Al Gore will be silent. You heard it here first. -23:07, 05NOV2012

A water treatment plant near the Occoquan river.
Water treatment plant off the Occoquan river. Picture taken Sunday, last week.

So the election is Tuesday. Just like the last election and the election before it, it's the most important election of our lifetime. It only makes sense as the government takes more and more control over our daily lives that the guy in charge of it all should be SuperDuperMan. Unfortunately, SuperDuperMan doesn't exist, so we're left with human candidates who have impossibly difficult (you could say: impossible) tasks ahead of them. Who in their right mind would set up a nation this way? Oh - that's right, our nation wasn't supposed to be set up this way. National government was to take a back seat to state government; localities would decide what laws are best for the people that live within them, up to the point where they could not infringe on individual liberties. Today, for better or for worse, it's the other way around.

I am confident that it won't matter who gets elected, be it Romney or Obama. They will both run up the deficit. They will both grow the mission of the federal government. They will both make our tax code more complicated, and make more harmless human actions illegal ("Harmless" being a relative term, of course. Technically, the fact I'm keeping a savings account is causing harm to the retail industry). Higher education and health care will continue to degrade in quality while increasing in cost. Wars will continue. The only difference is that the economy might do better under Romney; not necessarily because of policy, but because those with capital will feel more comfortable with investing if he's on America's throne instead of Obama. There's talk of Medicare reform, but even Ryan's "extreme" voucher plan won't be enough (not that it has a chance of being implemented anyway). There's talk of simplifying the code, but Romney said himself that he'll rely on congress to come up with a way to do that, which means it won't get done. There's zero talk of cutting spending on either side, and no specifics when it comes to entitlement reform. As president, Romney will do what he thinks he needs to do to get reelected. As president, Obama will continue to do what he's done for the last four years, which is do whatever the (Anti)Democratic party tells him to do. -14:00, 03NOV2012

A hollowed out log.
A hollowed out log in Burke Lake Park. (Captured today.)

I will talk more about photography here. It is Photography Phaturday, after all. Can you tell I used flash in this picture? I did. It's a new discovery I made during my research before I bought my newest camera, that if you want to take a picture of something where the background is really bright, flash can compensate to make the overall image look more balanced. It's not just for artificially (and crappily) lighting up objects in low ambient light. Who would have thought? A year ago, if I saw someone using flash during the day, I would have thought that they were just being lazy and not turning their flash off, and as a result unnecessarily draining their battery. Today, I am a little smarter, and so are you! -19:21, 27OCT2012

Profile of a horse head, in a joust ring.
A horse's head, in a jousting ring at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.

Last Sunday we went to the Renaissance festival, as we have done each year for four years now. This time, because the weather was super nice, the place was much more crowded than it usually is (and it's usually pretty crowded). The people we normally go with now have a 1 year old daughter, who stole the show. People everywhere asked if they could take pictures of her; I applaud her mother who neither craved the attention or got impatient with it. They couldn't go fifty feet without stopping and posing for a fawning stranger.

I forgot to mention that about a month ago, I got a new camera. It really hasn't been a long time since my last camera purchase; to compare, my Kodak DX 3600 lasted over three years before I got the Canon G5, which I had for nearly seven years (and still do). I then got a Canon G11 and was disappointed with its performance with each photo I took. I took this picture of a bench (cropped) when I first played with it, and from that point forward I couldn't get over the inadequacy of the camera when compared to my older one. Things just never look sharp or defined, especially where colors are relatively the same (like the brown of the wood of a bench). So, little more than two years later I have purchased a Canon G1X. This time I actually did as much research as I did for the G5 (when I bought the G11, it was a $500 impulse buy). Its sensor is supposedly pretty good, and its ISO 800 photos look about as noisy as the ISO 100 photos from the G11 (this means it's pretty good in low light images without flash). However, the G11's macro mode is incredible, while the G1X's macro mode is mostly useless. What the G1X's macro mode has in uselessness, it makes up for in detail (I guess this is another way of saying: it's not really that useless). 14 megapixels actually look like 14 megapixels. So what if the camera has to be at least a foot away from an object to focus on it? Crop out what's in the middle, and you have a macro image that looks about as close as what the G11 can produce, but without the lens distortion or "fuzziness" (the fuzziness has been attributed to the G11's poor jpeg processing algorithm; I'm not interested in messing with RAW, so I never tested this theory out). I should do some comparison shots. Maybe next week.

Anyway, back to the point I thought I was going to make in the previous paragraph, I'm enjoying taking photos again. The results that this camera produces are exactly as rewarding as the results from my old G5. Clarity and definition makes photos more naturally vibrant, something that I could never (easily) perfect with post-processing. I'm starting to bring the G1X with me, wherever I go, despite it being heavier and considerably larger than the G11. The G1X barely fits in my jacket pocket, but is still slightly narrower than the G5, but slightly taller, and just as wide. I think the G1X is a little heavier, too. However, the G11 is the easiest to carry of all three by a wide margin. A feature of the G1X that I really like is a mechanical pop-up flash. I usually have the flash turned off (makes things look very unnatural), but every now and again I'll turn it on (to auto). Then I turn my camera off, and next picture I take will have the flash lighting it, causing glass reflection or the foreground to be super bright while the object I'm trying to take a picture of can barely be seen, and my camera battery will be that much more drained. With the mechanical pop-up flash, accidentally blinding myself or someone else is an impossibility. -14:56, 21OCT2012

Graco car seat.  Empty for now.
Unboxed this today. She's going to be so little.

Here is a car seat in a glider. If I were 1/20th my current size, I think the car seat would be far more comfortable than the glider. I nearly fall asleep just imagining it, burrowing into its soft, perfectly textured head supports.

Not much new to report this week. Still accumulating baby stuff here and there, but the majority of it is collected. Still have a bit of cleaning and organizing to do, but we're not in a rush. My commute still sucks, but at least it wasn't bad on Monday (Columbus Day). Next week is more of the same. I hope to start working on a new traffic music video very soon; it's hard to get started though, knowing that once I do I'll be fairly consumed with it until it's done. Somehow I've lost some weight. Nothing in my diet changed, nor my daily movement... yet I'm five pounds lighter right now than I was the day we moved.

It's been two years since my dad died. I went back and read the post I made about it... I think it's one of the most well written things I've produced. If there is an afterlife, I do wonder WTF he's occupying his eternity with. 17:16, 13OCT2012

Laser pen message.
Playing around with my camera and a laser pen. Picture taken twenty minutes ago.

Other attempts at making something worth spending time on: One, two, and three. That's all for this week. 20:03, 07OCT2012

A fountain at the Washington Mormon Temple
It's a fountain surrounded by some nicely kept grounds at the LDS Washington Temple in Maryland.

I know it's not a spectacular photo, but overall I enjoy the contrast in colors... it's probably the most colorful photo I've taken in almost a year. I was with my sister at the time, and she was super excited about just being on the grounds. I got some other good pictures of the temple itself, but I'll save those for later.

I keep expecting the weeks to slow down, but things just keep getting busier. Since we've moved, my commute to and from work is killing me; I moved to be closer to where I will be working, but the day they send me over there is indefinite. The commute takes away about 30 minutes of sleep I'm used to having, as well as 30 minutes away from my time at home every evening. Once my work location changes, my drive will drop to about 10 - 15 minutes, and I'm really looking forward to that.

Peanut is getting bigger and bigger; right to the point where lumps will show as she moves around. It's surreal how she seems to have personality, when her only form of communication is moving when a spot is pressed on my wife's belly, and moving on her own (seemingly dancing when music is playing; even though she moves the same when there's no music). She also seems to prefer to be upside down (she's so silly). Sometimes I feel like I can't wait to meet her, but I'm told by other parents that I should appreciate the little time I have left for now. I think I can handle doing both of those things at the same time. -20:30, 04OCT2012

Man... missed another Phaturday. I haven't forgotten, but have been swamped with other higher priority stuff ("Higher priority than updating your website that two people read? How is that possible?"). A real update for last Saturday will happen before this coming Saturday. Not today, and probably not tomorrow, but maybe Wednesday or Thursday. -22:42, 01OCT2012

A lot of snow... walls of snow with a sidewalk path cleared.
An intimidating and very cold walkway. Jackson Hole, WY - February (maybe Jan), 2004

A low quality picture of an SUV crashed into a telephone pole.
An SUV and a service pole outside of my old old apartment, combined. March, 2004

Due to lack of internet and various moving shenanigans, I did not update last Saturday. Additionally, Mr. Bobby stopped by for a couple of days because he happened to be in the area. This is why you get two images with this update. A full week is the latest I've been, but I think I have an excuse at least.

The first image is another of Jackson Hole. So much snow... and people actually spend lots of money to live in it. Luckily I didn't have to shovel the sidewalk, but I certainly don't envy the guy that did. Actually most of it is done with some gas-powered snow thrower of sorts, so for manual labor it isn't so bad save for the fact that it's always below freezing when you're doing it.

The 2nd image is a Ford Explorer crashed into a telephone pole. This was in my old old apartment in Alexandria, and was the only time I lost power for more than a few minutes. It happened to be about 12 hours, mainly because the police had to do an investigation before the power company could replace the pole. Apparently the guy was seriously drunk and seriously illegally in the country and had no license. The image is mostly useless and was another nail in the coffin for my old Kodak. The inability to customize the shutter speed hurt. Imagining using my next camera, with the colorful police lights and mass of headlights pointed at the vehicle, really makes me wish I could go back in time and re-take the picture, because it would have been a super super duper awesome and unique image.

In speaking of moving shenanigans, I'm having problems updating my information with my host for this site. Apparently my street address is about four characters too long, which is just enough to prevent my apartment number from being included. I'm currently working with them to try to get it updated, but they want me to send them my credit card info via their trouble ticket system, which means it will be archived and readily viewable to their entire tech support team. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that.

In speaking of distrust and shady deals, our Room Store furniture was delivered without a hitch. We opted to not pay for a mirror with our dresser (saved $200) but they gave us one anyway. -22:58, 22SEP2012

A picture of downtown but I don't know where.
It finally happened... I found a picture I took of a city where I don't remember going.

It might be Denver, but I'm not sure of that at all. I don't even know why I bothered guessing that it was Denver. It seems kind of silly... maybe my subconscious knows that it was Denver, and I typed that without realizing what my brain was really up to. Very sneaky, Mr. Brain. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. This time.

We've been looking at new bedroom furniture to replace the set that I bought for myself back in 2003ish, for $799 with delivery. We settled on a set that cost $1150(ish) with delivery from the newly bankrupt Room Store. It's not the best furniture set we found, but the bang-for-buck couldn't be beat... assuming that it will actually get delivered and the arbiters of the Room Store's assets don't steal my monies. I asked for the sales guy's (literally named " Rockin Rob " on his name tag) business card as a sort of security measure in the event that something goes wrong. What I got was some random business card with all the info scratched out, and on the back Rockin' Rob's name (Rockin' Rob) with a phone number that goes to the Room Store's main number (at the location where we bought from). Woohoo... yay for good deals on halfway decent furniture. -22:35, 08SEP2012

A box of 3DO packaged games.
My incomplete collection of 3DO games, packed and ready to move.

In my youth I was a collector. Rare video games, t-shirts referencing things like Wallace and Grommet and Mystery Science Theatre 3000 (I wasn't necessarily a fan of either show, but the more esoteric the reference, the better), baseball cards, Heavy Metal (comic) magazines, Mad magazines, and I fashioned a chain out of keyrings to use as my keychain. I even ran the largest of rings around my belt loop - belt clips were for lazy people.

When I first saw the cover of the above catalog, I determined that I was going to get every game that was on it. I didn't, of course, because some of them were total crap once their reviews came out (Mad Dog Mcree 2 anyone?). Some were pretty good though, like The Horde and Samurai Showdown, and others I got for my Atari Jaguar/CD like Myst and Syndicate (they were better versions besides). Nonetheless, I doubled that stack for myself, on my own, working for $3 - $4 an hour over the course of three years (not all of my 3DO games are pictured; about 12 came in custom crappy boxes and I only have their jewel cases). I played through each one of those games from beginning to end no matter how bad they were, to make sure I got my money's worth (except for a couple which were simply impossibly difficult). I've carried these collections with me ever since I joined the army. Slowly they've been going away.

I've thrown away about 40 lbs of magazines that I forgot I had, and will probably never read again (these amount to about 40% of my total). I've thrown away almost every one of my old t-shirts. I'm at a point where I look at everything I've so painstakingly collected and say "I don't think I will ever need all of this." My video games will be very hard to get rid of if I ever get put in a situation where I'll have to. I rarely play them anymore, but at least they have real value, unlike 98% of my baseball cards.

So what's the point of this update? None really. I'm packing up stuff that I've had for 15 - 20 years and it makes me want to talk about it. Thanks for listening! - 10:15, 04SEP2012

Yellow and red Ferraris parked outside of a hotel in Florida.
Ferraris parked outside of my hotel, somewhere in Florida, November 2003.

It's hard to wrap my head around how those cars, while very modern and sleek looking at the time I snapped the picture, actually look old and clunky today. By comparison, of course. These models are at least nine years old, now. And they look it. Why is that? It's not like I see new Ferraris every day to compare these old ones to. If the picture looks familiar, it's because I used it as my main page picture for about two months, back in 2003/4.

Episode 8 of my traffic music video hobby is finally done. It took me a long time to make it - most of it was done between 9 and 12 PM on weekdays. Watch all 13 minutes, 33 seconds of it here. I usually don't get praise or negative comments about the music I pick, but this time I'm getting both. I really like the song, but it does have an issue where it stays stuck in my head for a while.

It's been another long week. We are preparing to move to a two bedroom apartment to make room for Peanut, at a cost of an additional $400 a month. Hopefully the tax breaks provided from having an extra dependant will make up for it. -20:34, 25AUG2012

A radio tower with lots of greenery and hills and stuff.
Looking away from a scenic rest area, I think in Tennessee, along I-81

A week back at the work of routine, after a weekend of driving, after a week of training (11 hours a day, with the commute), after another weekend of driving, after a week of work routine, and I couldn't welcome this weekend more. Finally, a whole two days where I have nothing to do but play video games, play on the internet, work on my next traffic video, or just generally do nothing. Even updating this website is a breeze, because I have all day to do it. By "all day", I mean 35 minutes, as I started this at 11:25 PM.

I just typed a world situation summary, but deleted it. I can be more concise. Situation: We're pretty bad off, but I'm sure there's been more for past generations to be scared about. -23:53, 18AUG2012

A miserable dog, tongue hanging out, laying on the floor.
Pete, my wife's aunt/uncle's dog, after coming back from the vet.

Ole Pete looks like I feel. Lots going on right now - all positive stuff, but it's getting pretty overwhelming. I might want to post something about it later. -20:19, 15AUG2012

I will be updating with a picture this week, probably tomorrow. Been super busy for the last week+. -21:18, 13AUG2012

Phone books, piles in a corner.
It's that time of year again. Picture taken this morning.

If you thought your thinned out newspapers were depressing, try looking at this. If you remember, last year these were delivered to my apartment building into this spot. This time is a little different, because they were each left at everyone's doorstep. The apartment residents, not wanting them to take up room in their trash, or actually use them, instead piled them in this corner. After counting them, I believe I am the only resident that actually brought their phone books inside. How much work went into producing these? How much effort? Out there, somewhere, is a team of editors who pore over the pages of this thing, verifying the information before approving it, because once approved, millions of dollars are spent producing and delivering them. I brought my phone books inside last year. Adding up all three phone individual books, I opened them for a total of zero times. That's including the time we went through a storm and our internet broke down for almost a day. -22:22, 04AUG2012

A view from a hotel, Bonita Springs, FL, 2003
This is what Florida looked like before the housing boom, November, 2003.

Not that I have an "after" pic to show for comparison. I'm sure it looks different today, though. To be honest, I'm not even sure if it's Bonita Springs. It's either that or Boca Raton. Or Port St. Lucie. I don't know. 2003 was a big year for me and Florida.

Not much going on this week. The Olympics started again. Political news is 80% polling between Romney and Obama. Romney said something about London being unprepared for the Olympics, and that is taking up all of the non-poll headlines. Working regular hours prevents me from listening to talk radio worth listening to... What was once a great morning show called Grandy and Andy has been reduced, changed, reduced, changed, and changed again into one of the most boring political talk shows I've ever tried to suffer through. In the evening, on my way back home I get Sean Hannity which is the most annoying political talk show I've ever tried to suffer through. So I've been listening to a lot of music lately instead of politics. Being in DC you'd think there was all kinds of opinion and news shows to listen to, but it's pretty much WMAL (talk), WTOP (news), and NPR (sleep).

That's all I have for this update. TTYL. -20:10, 28JUL2012

A chipmunk
Monday evening, at Nemacolin Resort.

I went a little heavy on the post-process adjustments on this one. It's a mostly mundane image, but I've never had the chance to take a picture of a chipmunk before. This one was running around foraging in one of the many useless courtyards scattered throughout the 'resort'. It was still, trying not to draw my attention. I tried to get closer and he ended up hiding under the sidewalk. I took a few more steps and another chipmunk that I didn't see ran right in front of me, less than three feet away to go hide. I've decided that chipmunks are my favorite squirrels.

Why was I at Nemacolin? It was a team building exercise put together by my new employer. Monday was travel and arrival, Tuesday was skeet shooting (one of several things I'm naturally good at, as I did pretty well for my first time) (one thing I'm not naturally good at is pool) (I'm actually quite horrible at pool), and Wednesday was a pat-on-the-back meeting and go home day. Then back to work for Thursday and Friday. Not a bad week. -18:05, 21JUL2012

A sun setting behind massive rain clouds.
A sunset - Tuesday, the 10th, in Stockbridge, GA

So I took a new job for a couple of reasons. One: because I was traveling way too much (especially on weekends), and two: I was indirectly told that I wasn't going to ever get a raise in my pay again. Little more than a month with the new company, I'm already traveling. This time it worked out great though, because I was able to drop my wife off so she could spend time with her family during the week, and on the way back we were able to see Nina and Anne and Dan.

This is also why I'm updating on a Monday instead of a Saturday... I was out of town all weekend until about 9:30 last night. Luckily I have plenty of time this Monday morning before I have to get to work, so I can tie up this loose end. Unfortunately, there's a lot more loose ends where this one came from, and I only have until noon to take care of them, so this post gets cut short. -10:10, 16JUL2012

3D Ultrasound.
It's a girl!

I figure since Rebecca posted the news on Facebook about three seconds after I told her, and she was the first person I called, that most people that know me already know, and there should be no issue with me posting this here before calling people up. So far everything is going perfectly. Everyone that tried to predict the gender predicted a boy. I'm the only one that thought it would be a girl, but didn't make a big deal out of it because I hate being wrong after making a big deal out of something. (I generally don't make big deals out of anything, anyway) Now the task of naming is presented to us. For some reason, Jessie doesn't want to just keep it at Peanut.

So in speaking of distractions to distract myself with that have nothing to do with the unimaginible level of responsibility I'll have on my shoulders in a few months, I went looking for my images on other websites using Google's image-matching search engine. Initially I only found a couple of nameless blogs, mostly in other countries, but happened upon a Law Firm website. The actual law firm is based in Nevada, but uses an image I posted of Jackson, Mississippi's capital building. Screenshot of website: Clicky. Screenshot of actual cropped section used, minus the overlay applied: Clicky. And, finally, the full image that you can see by going to the first Pictures of the Places I've Been Page: Clicky. This is amazing to me that Google was able to detect that this image was matched when less than 1/10th of it remained for use on the actual website. In any case, I sent the law firm a lawyerly email, which reads:

Subject: Error in your website design.


I am not certain who has designed your website, but I just wanted to inform you that the header image titled "nevada-capital-building-hea.jpg" is actually the capital building in Jackson, Mississippi.

I know this, because I took the picture. The full picture can be seen here:

Best regards,


I am looking forward to a non-response, and the potential of email content that I can re-post here in my pursuit of "protecting" my intellectualish property (of course, it doesn't exactly take an advanced internet user to figure out there's a website somewhere in the link:, by backspacing over the irrelevant portion of the URL, and seeing my plan here). I do clearly state that these images are my property on my website, and if someone wants to use them, they must ask me permission first. In any case, I hope my image has helped earn Mr. Terry lots of new clients since he started using it in 2008.

Oh, and in speaking of things I make no money off of but are worth stealing, I've produced Episode 7 of My Meager Compilation of Vehicular Dumbassery Captured in/around Northern Virginia. Click HERE to see it! I hope you enjoyed this update, my pretties. It is on a Friday this time because I probably won't get another chance to post until Tuesday, in which case I will not post because no one looks at my website on Tuesdays. -21:45, 06JUL2012

A Camry underneath some tree branches.
A neighbor's car, Saturday morning.

Had some pretty big storms come through Saturday night. Our cars weren't touched, luckily... but the same can't be said for this lady's car. Power went out at about 10:30 PM Friday, and came back around 4:00 AM. The internet was down everywhere, and the line at the one gas station near our apartment was enormous... probably 50 cars waiting for gas at one of the few gas stations that had power. Oh, and it could only take cash because the credit card machines needed the internet to work. Luckily (there I go using that word again), we didn't need any gas for the weekend. All in all we fared better than most after the storms. Even the internet came back online by noon-ish.

I don't remember if I mentioned it, but a couple of months ago I was approached via YouTube by Highlight Hunter, a software company wanting to get their name out on the interwebs. They offered me a $30 license for free, and asked if I could do a video review of their software. (This makes $55 in total swag I've earned off of my videos, if you remember my $25 Famous Dave's gift card) Well, I did the review and here it is. -17:55, 01JUL2012

Color me surprised. It passed. Roberts, the swing voter declares that an individual mandate is unconstitutional, but taxing someone for not buying something is perfectly within the realm of how our national government should operate. Well done, Supreme Court. We get the chance to see what a collosal failure this will be (but rest assured, the credit for failure will be levied directly at those dastardly profit-seeking private institutions). -21:06, 28JUN2012

So, tomorrow is going to be the milestone Supreme Court decision on the Health Insurance Company Control and Individual Mandate Act that was passed by the Obamish administration on the Eve of Christmas, 2009. It's also known as the "Affordable Health Care Act". Still don't know what I'm talking about? It's called Obamacare (even though Obama had nothing to do with the creation of the bill). Do I think the Supreme Court will uphold this horrible piece of "legislation"? To be honest, I would be surprised if they did. I can't remember what pundit I was listening to a year or so ago when this was first going to go to the Supreme Court, but what was said stuck with me. That Democrats secretly hope that the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional - that most, if not all Democrats don't like the bill at all. What sucks though, is that once it does get struck down, we won't get the chance to see how much of a failure it would be at doing what the official title says it would do. However, if they surprise me, and it's upheld... Wow - what a hell of a precedent to set. The interstate commerce clause has already been used to prevent people from growing crops on their own land for their own consumption (and was upheld by the Supreme Court), and with this one being upheld the government can mandate you purchase anything it wants, as long as they can propagandize the product as being a public good (or better yet, harmful to the public if you don't purchase it) (GM going out of business? It's a ripple effect across the country! Buy GM and save 50 million jobs!).

I don't understand the support that this has from true-blue lefties. Can you imagine what those corrupt and evil Republicans could do with such a precedent to help pave their way? How Dick Cheney could be made to swim in a 250 foot tall building filled with nothing but gold coins? Do they really not think two steps ahead of their own dumb ideas? Ugh. I grown very tired of politics, but this thing that will happen tomorrow is going to be a big thing. It will shape the election in a huge way. The printing presses are warmed for Obama 2016 bumper stickers. What I mean by that is, if Obama loses this election, he'll be open to run in 2016. If Romney doesn't do the correct things while in office, we will be in a massive world of hurt (assuming the world doesn't end on my birthday this year... 12-12-12). -22:11, 27JUN2012

Groom and wife, dancing.
Nina and Dan, at their wedding, September, 2003.

It's hard for me to look through this group of pictures and not complain about my old Kodak camera. Almost every single one came out blurry because of the poor low light performance. The pictures where I used flash, all came out too dark except for the very center of the photo, which was generally too bright. The scenes I tried to capture during the wedding were all 'important', but you mostly can't tell what's going on. The above picture is about the cleanest of the bunch. So, to prevent this site from being a Kodak bash-fest (don't kick them while they're down), here are some good things about the camera: It takes AA batteries. While it didn't run great on regular old Duracell, if you got the Lithium e2 Energizer batteries (about $9 for four batteries), it would last about three months. No worrying about keeping it charged, and if you were in a pinch, you could pluck some batteries out of something else. Something else good: there is no limit to how long a movie could be while recording. A lot of cameras impose a 3 or 5 minute limit, but with the old Kodak, the length is as large as your memory card can retain, or as long as your batteries last. There you go, Kodak. You can thank me for helping you pull out of bankruptcy.

In speaking of Kodak and keeping them in business, I bought a 2nd ZX5 camcorder. Best Buy had it on sale from $180 to $70 - it was a deal I couldn't pass up. My original one is orange, which was the only color available at the time I bought it (and could be why they didn't sell too well when they came out, as the video quality is otherwise superb for a camcorder of this price), and the new one is black, which makes it a bit more inconspicuous as it sits behind my windshield, spying on strangers.

I'm three weeks into the new job, and it seems to be going pretty well. I'm learning faster than I thought I would; maybe even too fast because people are starting to treat me like I've "got this", and subsequently aren't dedicating as much time to training me as they otherwise would. I hope their judgment is better than mine. -11:22, 24JUN2012

An exploded microwave burrito.
After I start changing diapers, I'll never be able to eat another microwave burrito again.

So I didn't update for week 95 since I started Photography Phaturday. It's the first week I missed, and didn't make up for. Is this a sign of things to come? Will I go back to neglecting this site, updating only when I really really really feel like it? It's always possible, I suppose. Not sure what got into me last week; I knew that I needed to update phor Phaturday, but didn't care. I thought in the back of my mind, that surely I'd update at some point during the week... but days passed, and nothing was updated. Maybe it's the fact I finally have a routine with the new job, that I don't need to inject some form of consistency into my regular life. After all, my new work schedule does directly correlate with the fact that I didn't update.

Before we left to go to upstate New York for my going away party/turn my badge in ceremony (there wasn't really a ceremony), there was a red warning sticker on my old Prelude (showed up Memorial Day morning, of all days). It said my car was going to be towed within 72 hours if I don't get the state inspection sticker renewed (it expired in October last year). It wasn't a warning from a cop, but instead from the tow company my apartment uses. At first I was very angry. Then I was super stressed because there was barely enough time to do anything with the car, as we only had the evening of the day we got back in town. The silver lining is that the warning was the kick in the butt I needed to get the car back to working condition (again). At least I got the warning, instead of just realizing one day that my car is no longer where I left it. Before, the issue was simply taking it to get inspected, and because I was out of town so much, I didn't want to spend my little bit of free time taking care of unnecessary errands. Because it sat for so long, the less-than-year-old battery completely discharged and basically died a permanent death. Anyway, the car got inspected, and it passed, and I got to drive it around with the wifey yesterday while we shopped for clothes for me to wear (most of the work clothes I had before were adorned with my old company logo). With the state inspection sticker, I am confident I can drive it around without getting pulled over. I even put air in the 18 year old spare tire, that I can't purchase new any more - not even from a Honda dealer. I hope it doesn't pop under the weight of the car, if I ever have to use it.

My new video is out! I finished it on Saturday last week, when I should have been updating this website. You can watch all 15 minutes of it HERE. This one is a bit different because it includes locations from my travels, and nothing from my residential area. I really wanted to cram it all in one video, which are limited at 15 minutes unless you do something with your YouTube account to prove to them you're not going to upload pirated content. I didn't want to find out what steps were necessary for that, so I left it at 14 minutes, 59 seconds. I used two different songs this time, and also used a lot of raw footage, since not everyone likes the music video aspect of my stuff. For my previous episode I got a total of 1 click from my post about it on this website (thanks, Stacey), so let's hope the turnout is a little better this time.

In speaking of my videos, I kind of went viral early last week. Someone posted a link to Episode 3 on Reddit, and it spread from there, and then the fire died out on its own by pretty much the following day. The video went from 90 likes to 124 in roughly 24 hours. None of my other videos got a discernible increase in views for that time period, which means despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback, peoples' attention spans aren't large enough to check out my channel. WTF, internet? There is a neat website that I saw it posted on at Clover is the name of a forum member at an auto-enthusiast website, who apparently likes to do things like speed up to keep people from passing him. He annoyed the members/owners so much, that they dedicated a whole new site in honor of his shenanigans.

And finally, I've been forced to trim down the text on this page. My computer is powerful enough to run any game with all graphics quality settings maxed, at a resolution of 1920 x 1080, with 8x Super Sampled Anti Aliasing and 16x Anisotropic sampling, but for some reason when it comes to a specialized text editor, if there's more than 200k worth of text, the thing runs damn slow. I can type about five words ahead of what's displayed on the screen, which makes for a very annoying update session, especially when you notice a mistake or two three words back as you're typing. Reducing the amount of text has sped up my editor quite a bit. Since the text I hacked off also hacked off the last comment link I provided, I'm adding a new one. Was this update too much to read, internet? Did you start drifting off, thinking about taxidermied cat copters around paragraph 2? For those that made it this far, I hope your weekend has been spectacular. For those that haven't, this is for you. -17JUN2012


Going away cake.
My 2nd to last day at my headquarters for my previous employer. Taken Tuesday.

This picture was taken with my work phone; it was the last picture I took with it, and one of the last emails I sent was to my Gmail account so that I could post it here.

I still feel like I'm employed there. I have no laptop, no phone, all of my tools are turned in... yet I'm not focused on my new job next week. It hasn't quite hit me that I'll be working somewhere else. I'm still waiting on that sense of closure, as though shaking peoples' hands and telling them "Bye" wasn't enough. Five years, ten months working for the same company, mostly alone with my boss located over 300 miles away. It was good at first... really good. I was busy and doing great things, but over the last six months or so there hasn't been a lot going on locally (for me). My boss, either in an effort to force me to quit or to protect me from being cut, had me travel, travel, travel all over the place doing what I was not hired to do, which is provide training to customers. The upside is that I acquired some really good dash cam footage and pictures in general, and got experience in training people. The downside is that I missed out on most of my weekends and even a holiday, and was alone on weekday evenings using hotel internet that was always painfully slow, no matter what town I was in. With Peanut on the way, there was no way this could continue (well, that and the fact they liked my work so much they gave me a 0% raise, after telling me I get paid too much), so I had to look elsewhere for opportunity.

Without even having a resume ready there were a number of other places that wanted to hire me, once they knew that I was looking. Apparently I built quite the nice reputation for myself. It was like dipping your toe in a pond and getting attacked by a swarm of alligators.

In speaking of dash cam videos, I'm still working on my World Episode. It's much more of a beast than I expected it to be (somehow). It's about 80% produced, and once it's produced I have to go back and block the license plates, which takes almost more time to do, and isn't nearly as fun. If I get obsessed with it, it should be done next week. If I don't get obsessed with it, who knows when it will be ready... - 21:20, June 2nd, 2012

A squirrel eating a tortilla chip.
It's a squirrel eating a tortilla chip, outside of my old apartment. June-ish, 2003

Back in the days when I used to carry my camera everywhere I went, I happened to spy this scene. A squirrel, perched precariously on a post, pecking at a portion of tortilla chip. I snapped two pictures before I decided to get closer to it, ultimately scaring it off. More optical zoom and a more effective auto-focus would have made this image much, much better. 'Twas yet another nail in the coffin for my poor old Kodak.

I'm already working on my next video, this time featuring footage from around the world. I'm producing this in between fits of Dead Island, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Stronghold 3, Serious Sam 3, and some CCNA-styled online courses that I can take for free while I'm still employed with my current employer. With all of this excitement going on, I only just now remembered that I have a website to update, so here it is. -18:36, 27MAY2012

Trees, grass, mountains, blue sky in Jackson Hole, WY
The front yard view in the place I was sleeping, Jackson Hole, WY, June-ish, 2003.

On my long forgotten DeviantArt account, I posted this one with the title "Sunshine, Green, and Blue". As for the location, for some reason, it just came to me that this was called the Kline House. I sat for a while last week trying to remember the name of it, and couldn't. Scanning through my pictures now, it hit me like a quick falling feather. No excitement or relief, with a slight "oh yeah". Kline House.

Additionally (I have been using this word a lot. It's very professional and confident sounding.), I completely forgot to post the link to my new dashcam video. It is here. -23:19, 19MAY2012

A picture of a house that was a timeshare in Jackson Hole, WY
A large house in Jackson Hole, WY. June-ish, 2003.

This was one of my favorite couple of weeks. This house was a timeshare property that my employer at the time reserved for three weeks. For the first two weeks there was just going to be two people living in it, me and another guy. I managed to get the master bedroom for myself, which had a 20 foot high ceiling and a king size bed. Additionally, there was a computer desk with a dial-up line for my Juno internet access. It was during this time that I did a lot of work on my website, and had a lot of great conversations on message boards. There was nothing to do but read the newest Sword of Truth book, play on the internet, and enjoy the beautiful weather/scenery, with the occasional (very) early morning work call. I remember that house being insanely quiet and peaceful, until people started showing up at the end of the second week. It did have six bedrooms after all. I even got kicked out of the master bedroom... it was fun while it lasted.

So this update is two days late. Nothing I can say about it except that I've been under quite a bit of stress lately. Looking for a new job, baby on the way, plus other stuff going on all adds up to me not wanting to post updates on the internet. Well, I've gone and done it now. You're welcome. -14MAY2012

A fountain in front of a luxury hotel in Richmond, VA.
A fountain in front of a luxury hotel, Richmond, VA, 2003.

This picture is the best non-daytime picture I took with my Kodak. It was for a quick trip for work in Richmond... The coworker that was with me for it drove us down in his new SUV. He said we were going to take 301 down and avoid I-95 traffic. It took us four hours (Richmond is 100 miles away). At some point I determined he was not the type to use Rain-X on his windshield, and then I asked him if he did, and he said that it didn't make much of a difference so he didn't use it. It was then that I knew that he was the type of person, that when he comes to a parking aisle to park, and there's an empty space in front of him, that he would not pull through so that he wouldn't have to back out when he left. When we parked (somewhere), he proved me right. He even went a step further; when we left, the spot in front of us was still empty, and he backed out anyway. Over the years I'd slowly learned to keep my mouth shut and just let people do what they do, and it took every ounce of effort I had to do just that for this particular coworker.

In other news, I want to take the opportunity to introduce Peanut to the world. Peanut is the humanoid blob currently residing in my wife's stomach, and in 6 months or so will have a gender and a new name. As far as I know, everyone who infrequents this website already knows the news, but just in case I missed someone, here it is. Sorry you had to find out this way, but at least you found out. -05MAY2012

A clear circle that is the sun, rising.
A sunrise. I don't remember where this was, maybe Dallas, May, 2003.

It's crazy going through my pictures and seeing what I took pictures of. For instance, this reminds me of a time when I used to boil eggs on a near-daily basis. It was easy (well, once I learned to put the egg in cool water instead of boiling), healthy, and cheap. I haven't boiled an egg in years, and I have no idea why I stopped.

I started work on a sixth traffic music episode. I'm not liking how it's turning out, and I don't really know why. It may have something to do with my song of choice, but there's not really a way around it as there aren't many songs to choose from. I guess I could always pick out some classical stuff that everyone's heard a thousand times... hmmm... I'll have to consider that while I review what I've done to this point. Due to many days of travel coming up, I may have a link to the new video posted near the middle of May. If I weren't traveling next week, I'd have it done by Wednesday. -29APR2012

A wooden box on a small table.
My grandfather's 2nd to last (foreground), and final resting place (background).

This week was my grandfather's memorial service. Of the 40 or so people that were there, I knew a total of 4: my mom's aunt, my mom's cousin, my mom, and my sister. It was very well put together, and I'm very happy to have went. I got to meet my (step aunt?) for the first time, and we had some good conversations. It was fun hanging out with Rebecca, as always.

On the way to that I got to see my niece, who will represent another Photography Phaturday entry for this Phaturday. She's mind-staggeringly cute, super smart, and funny. Even when she's sick she has a way of lighting up the room wherever she goes (and she always seems to be sick when I/we visit). As tired as Nina must be, she seems to never be out of energy for Anne, and never loses patience. I find that amazing. But then again...

My niece, standing in a doorway.
... how could anyone lose patience while looking at this face? -21APR2012

An orange barrel placed in a pothole large enough to fit it.
Anacostia Naval Station, March, 2003.

On December 11th, 2011, I posted an image from January, 2003 depicting an orange cone sitting in a pothole. This was the growth of that pothole in eight weeks' time. You can see the original cone cast aside in the upper right hand corner of the picture. The gentlemen running in the background are now internet superstars, thanks to my posting this on my wildly popular and successful website. -14APR2012

Extended shutter speed on a train going through downtown Tampa.
Downtown Tampa, Wednesday last week.

I'm a couple of days late this time. I've been run ragged with work, and burnt out on everything.

So I decided to play with my camera here, whilst drinking an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout, unsuccessfully trying to set it up so that it would capture this traffic light throughout it's green/yellow/red cycles. Some guys sitting a good distance to my right were making comments about photography in general, I suspect because they were watching me for a time. I heard a train and one of them said "Here's your shot, right here." and I looked over but neither of them were looking at me, nor were they holding a camera. Anyway I played with the settings on the camera to make it appear as though the train was going a hundred miles an hour through downtown, and I think it worked. -09APR2012

An ocean based sunset off the short of San Diego.
Hey look it's a sunset. San Diego, Tuesday evening.

I told you I'd find something good to take a picture of. I stayed away from the downtown area for the most part... because I'm scared of downtown areas. There's no parking, either. I like to park my car. Luckily this coastal area wasn't far away at all from my place of duty, or my hotel (and there was free parking, though I had to double back a couple of times before a spot opened up). It was about 50 degrees and very windy (as beaches usually are), and I didn't bring a jacket because I thought Southern California was always warm. Due to the cold, I wasn't able to enjoy the scene as much as I would have liked, but I took special notice of the other people parked to my left and right. People getting back from workouts, or wearing a suit after a long stressful day, and of course some apparent homeless (by choice) people, all gathered together to watch the same sunset. Once the bright circle disappeared, car doors started closing, and people gradually vacated the once jam-packed area. -31MAR2012

Cherry blossom trees, decorating an apartment parking lot.
Cherry blossoms, Tuesday morning this week.

Spring time is here, and things are blossoming all over. New life is being created... evidence being my black car is yellow from the pollen. The weather is predictably unpredictable, varying from 45 degrees and sunny to 80 degrees and rainy.

No matter now, though. I type this from San Diego, where it was beautiful... sunny, windy, and 65 degrees when I walked out to my rental car. As I sit in my hotel, on the other side of my window it is dark, very windy, very rainy, and 50 degrees. I would have liked to take some pictures in downtown to post one here instead of the cherry blossom one, but I have this thing about not wanting to destroy my camera by letting it get soaked. Maybe next week. -25MAR2012

Sun setting behind Tampa Preparatory School, across Hillsborough River
The sun, some clouds, a prep school, and Hillsborough River in Tampa, FL

So I was in Tampa all week. My hotel was located right on the edge of downtown, which allowed me to see lots of stuff with minimal walking distance. Three days in a row did I take my camera, and capture things to be seen. I ate at half a dozen different restaurants (none were seafood... I didn't find any seafood restaurants); the most expensive meal I had was $14. I didn't look at Google Maps to find anything... I just ventured out with no real plan or direction, and probably got more exercise in those three days than I have any other three days for the last few years. The weather was perfect... about 70 degrees and breezy, and not a drop of rain the whole time. I was there to give more training, and this class couldn't have gone better. I actually had a week to prepare (though, it still wasn't enough, but I doubt the class noticed), and there was minimal floundering. The class was punctual, respectful, and paid great attention. On the fifth day I was at a loss for new things to cover, because they quickly absorbed everything I knew to teach. So I did the course summary and had them fill out their critique forms, and got mostly 5/5's. This kind of confidence boosting week was much needed after the last class I gave in Germany. It's also been at least half a decade since I've taken more than a few dozen pictures in one area... In Tampa's case, I took 170.

As good as the week was, I'm glad to be home. If it wasn't for some necessary paperwork that I didn't have time to do Friday, this would have been the fifth full weekend since the first week of November that I've actually had off (not counting holiday weekends). -17MAR2012

A heart shaped boulder at Devil's Den, Gettysburg, PA
Taken earlier today, in Gettysburg, PA

We went to Gettysburg, PA for our anniversary (5 years!), and I noticed this boulder sitting there, that looked remarkably like a heart. So I took a picture. The exact location is called Devil's Den, a site of some horrific civil war fighting. To the left of the heart shaped boulder, about 300 yards away is the base of Little Round Top hill, the other side of the horrific civil war fighting. Between these two sites, were piles of freshly dead and severely wounded bodies as the fighting went back and forth in one of many many battles over the course of Gettysburg. How romantic.

Somehow I managed to forget my good camera, so I had to fall back on the camera I always keep in my car for emergencies. That camera being my 12 year old Kodak DX3600. It was a bit embarrassing walking around with this thing; most people have cell phone cameras that take better pictures, but it certainly was better than nothing. I'd forgotten how irritating it was to use. From the time you turn it on, until the time you could actually take a picture, is about ten seconds. The screen is impossible to see if you're outside. ... Okay that just about covers it. The thing takes pictures, and by all reasonable expectations should have broken by now, especially after what I put it through before I upgraded in 2003ish.

Did I mention today is our five year anniversary? I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife for being my wife. She does so willingly, and I will never understand why. I am glad to have her by my side, and hope she can put up with me (and my outstanding flatulence) for at least another five years. I love you, baby! -10MAR2012

Intersection, downtown Frankfurt, Germany.
Frankfurt, Germany. Taken about two hours before I took the photo for last week's update.

In a rare moment of adventurism, after arriving at the hotel and taking the prerequisite pictures from my hotel window, I took my camera to the streets. The picture above was taken by hand; I thought it would come out blurry but it didn't (I guess my hands are steadier than I thought). I looked around for a place to set my camera, to line up a non-blurry shot, and in my search I managed to set off an automatic pedestrian sensor, that puts up a red light at a cross walk. There was a cab driver in front of the line that was visibly frustrated with me, but I had no idea that such a thing existed until I saw it for myself, noticing the proximity sensor on the "Walk" light only after it lit up to allow me to walk (sensor not seen in picture). How embarrassing. I'm glad this picture came out good; I like how the new-looking skyscraper in the background dwarfs the old-looking houses/apartments in the foreground.-03MARCH2012

Frankfurt, Germany at night.
Frankfurt, at night. Taken from the 34th floor of the Marriott, about an hour ago.

Sometimes I update a day late. Fewer times, I update a day early. This is one of those few times. I'm doing this now because I know for certain I won't feel like it when I get home, and for some reason I feel like doing it now. Make sense? Good.

So I gave a class this week to some army pukes. It wasn't great. While I felt like I could have done better for the Air Force, with the Army guys I felt like I wasn't given a fair chance. They were pretty disruptive at times, and refused to pay attention. I'd lay out a procedure, type the steps up on the board, tell everyone to "Start", and only one or two guys would even look at me.

This class reminded me why I wanted out of the army. It was the senior enlisted that acted up the most, and the lower enlisted followed their lead. The couple or so students that were interested were frustrated with me for going so slow, as I spent so much time trying to get the non-focused students caught up. Punctuality was nonexistent. Every day was at least half an hour late starting. Every time I gave them a 10 minute break, they took 25. I give them an hour and a half for lunch, telling them to come back at 1, they came back at 1:30, and then they want to leave at 2:30 when I had another two hours of instruction planned. I normally would be okay with everything, except they wrote on critiques that the technical level of instruction was not adequate, and graded my "knowledgeability and professionalism" fairly low. Stuff makes me depressed.

So now I'm here complaining about it to "the world" with the hopes that I feel better about it. I've driven from Ramstein to Frankfurt to be closer to the airport. It's 10PM, and I have to wake up at 3:45 to fill up my rental car (with diesel), and catch my plane at 6:40 at the airport, which is 20 - 30 minutes away. What a great way to spend my Sunday, President's Day holiday, Friday off, and following Saturday. Bleh. -24FEB2012

A home at twilight, in the snow, in Stuttgart, Germany
Picture taken Friday, Feb 10.

The coworker I was traveling with didn't want to pack his tools with his luggage, and decided to ship them out through FedEx from the military base that we were on. From there, we drove two hours to our hotel in Stuttgart so that we could fly out the next morning without too much trouble. Well, by pure accident I found out, due to US government export/import compliance regulations, tools and other work items that are brought in to another country needs to be brought back to the US or else massive fines and potential jail time would occur. So, we drove back to the base which was two hours away, and by pure accident, I had the personal email address of one of the military guys that could grab the tool case for us. It was nearly midnight when we finally did get back to the hotel in Stuttgart, and had to wake up at 5 the next morning to get to our flight in time. The picture above is a picture I took while I was waiting on confirmation that we absolutely needed to go back to the base and get the tool set.

And today, I go back for another week. Landing into Frankfurt this time, but what's fun about that is the ground workers for that airport are on strike (demanding pay raises that would mean a 5 - 70% increase, depending on who would be affected). I am supposed to land at early in the morning and have pretty much all day Monday to relax and leisurely make my way over to Ramstein. Now, I'm not so sure. Unions suck. -19FEB2012

Kaiserslautern Stadium, which in German is stadion.
The view from my hotel room balcony, in Kaiserslautern.

The picture here is of some soccer fans walking up to the stadium to watch the soccer game. For several hours prior to the game, people were gathering in the streets, drinking (walking around in public with a beer is okay everywhere except the US), singing, and chanting. It was freezing, but the fans were dedicated. I watched the game on TV, with the sound muted because sometimes I just get tired of hearing German. It was about 12 degrees that evening, and the players were running around in shorts and short sleeved shirts. I used to have that kind of metabolism. Kaiserslautern lost to Cologne 1 - 0, and the fans left with sad faces.

So Germany was pretty cold the two weeks I was there. Supposedly, they were, and will continue to be the coldest two weeks of the Winter. Temperatures were above 30 degrees only for our first two days there. After that, we were lucky to see it break 20. Lows in the morning, when we first started driving out, ranged from -4 to 8 degrees. Luckily, there wasn't a lot of snowing, and that would have made the 35 minute twice daily drive much, much worse.

I did much better in the second training class. There was a lot more equipment to distract the students with, and I was much more familiar with what I'd be doing, and familiar with the training area and students in general. There were a number of obstacles that prevented the perfect training course, but I think that if I had to do something like this again, I could get exponentially better. I now have a much better grasp of what needs to be taught and what doesn't, and which methods work best for me. The critiques were better this time around... the line "The instructor was knowledgeable and professional" was 5/5 for every one.

Otherwise, the overall German experience was pretty good. If it weren't so dang cold, I would have gone out a lot more. Everywhere we ate, we had a good tasting, fresh meal. My worst meal was when I ordered a burger at the hotel (their other food is good; I really liked their club sandwich), because the patty they used didn't have any flavor and appeared to have been frozen for a very long time. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try a lot of different beers. Needing to be up at 5:45 every morning, plus needing to be mentally awake to talk to students for 7 hours made for some short, boring, and quiet nights.

The hotel we stayed at for 10 days wasn't that great overall. I had a large (for Europe) room, a balcony that I could walk on, and a decent sized flat screen TV with some 20 channels in English (though, all seemed to be news). My room lacked an ironing board, a real alarm clock (had to use the TV, and my 'domestic only' personal phone as a backup (my $400 work phone doesn't have an alarm clock application (this is parentheses within parentheses within parentheses)), because the TV would sometimes not kick off), and drawers (That's right. The room furniture had no drawers.). The internet was 10 Euro per day, and painfully slow. My biggest complaint is about the shower. It was strange; the door only blocked about 1/3 of the tub, and the detachable shower head was mounted on the wall opposite the door (but not really a door... more of a swingable shower water blocker, I guess), so I had to turn it into the corner, giving me about 1 square foot of standing area to be under it. If you turned the water on any higher than 1/5th of the way, water would splash out everywhere onto the bathroom floor. There was no way to prevent this, except to turn the pressure way down, making a normally 10 minute shower take about 20. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn prior to this, and they had something similar except you stood in the shower, and there was only a glass half wall that didn't move. Again, water goes everywhere if you turn it up more than 1/5th of the way. So I think it's a German thing to have soaking wet bathroom floors, or they just never shower. -12FEB2012

Temperature displaying -1 degrees, Fahrenheit.
Yesterday morning, Ramstein, Germany. -08FEB2012

A pedestrian bridge, iced over, connecting a group of apartment buildings to a grocery store.
A pedestrian bridge, on Tuesday afternoon, in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

I fixed an italics issue that I created on the last update. Did anyone notice? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?

In speaking of Ferris Bueller, remember when Ferris Bueller jumped on a float in a parade in Chicago, and started singing (here I go with the italics again) Danke Schoen? Well, I think about that everywhere I go recently, because that's what they say in Germany, and I happen to be in Germany.

I was very scared of driving here. Somehow, I've gotten used to it. The narrow lanes, with sharp, tire busting curbs... and if it's not a sharp, tire busting curb, it's a line of cars parked bumper to bumper... I've gotten comfortable. I don't know if this is a good thing; my instinct says it isn't, but my heart tells me it is. At first, I was nervous when a car was behind me. Even though I'd be going over the speed limit, if they were close to my rear bumper, I felt a pressure to go faster. I'm a vistor here, and I don't want to intrude. After a week of driving, I feel more like "Screw 'em. They can stay back there.". While I normally speed, I speed because I'm comfortable and feel safe doing so. Here, I'm not. The limit is pretty liberal... 50 kmph (about 35 MPH) on a two lane road when there's barely enough room to fit two cars side by side (and it's also a road that busses use), and you have a visitor (me) that's perfectly content backing up a line of cars, as that's preferable to a slight misjugment in vehicle diminsions that would cause a sure flattening of the side of a nicely curved BMW rental car.

So why am I in Germany? I'm giving a class on our stuff. I've had very little time to prepare for it, and this week, I've mostly winged it. The students could tell, but luckily I had enough knowledge of our terminals to be able to describe to them the theory of their operation, and every one of them learned something valuable. I feel good about that, but I definitely feel like I could have done a lot better. (Making excuses starts now: ) I only had about a week's notice of what I'd be doing, and during that week I traveled to Kentucky to do calibrations on terminals, and then an all day demo in Maryland. The projector based presentations were catered to other customers, and I had to explain exactly that with the appropriate slides. It was shitty, but there was little I could do about it. At the end I had them fill out course critiques. I got surprisingly high marks.

Now I have to give a week-long class starting Monday, on different equipment. Luckily, I'm familiar with that equipment too... but I have no established plan on how to teach it. More winging and flailing. Yay. What makes it better is that it will be a high of 18 degrees (F) through Wednesday. -04FEB2012

A slightly better than average sunrise, in Clarksville, TN.
What it looked like outside of my hotel room, Wednesday morning, Clarksville, TN

So this has been a rough few months. Been working my tail off, traveling every work week but two since the first week of November, and I leave again tomorrow (tomorrow, as in Saturday) for two more weeks. I'm getting run ragged. The trips are running together... I can't remember what happened where or what I did somewhere else. It's worse than when I was in the military... of course, I was never shot at. I guess, if I really wanted to know what stress is, I could try going somewhere that that could happen. Well, there's the perspective I needed to make me feel better about my current situation. This website actually is therapeutic.

Anyway, as I said, I leave tomorrow so that's why this update is on Friday. My stress... I can feel my hair falling out. Is that normal? -27JAN2012

UPDATE: The video is done. Watch it HERE.

Sunrise as seen from a car, driving on the I-495 DC Beltway.
Screen capture from my dash cam, from Friday morning.

My very first digital camera was 2.3 megapixels. I paid $300 for it. The resolution of the highest quality picture that camera could take was 1800 x 1200. The above picture is from my first digital camcorder. I paid $170 for it. It's 1080p, which in real terms means it records at 1920 x 1080. I don't know why it took this long for it to occur to me that I could post images from my dash cam videos; I see strange things on the road quite often, and even though it's not technically a photo, I think I can make an exception.

Unfortunate that the manufacturer of both my first digital camera and digital camcorder, Kodak, has declared bankruptcy. :(

I am working on my fifth episode of My Meager Collection of Vehicular Asshattery Captured in/around Northern Virginia. It should be finished by the end of Sunday. I'm hoping to be done with it today. In either case, I'll update this page with the YouTube link, when it's up and running. -21JAN2012

1995 Prelude parked in front of a pay-by-quarter car wash, blocked off with caution tape due to ice everywhere.
The pay-by-quarter car wash on Bolling AFB, January 2003.

This isn't the first time I've posted this picture on this website. It was one of my "main page" pictures for a time, probably late Jan - Feb, 2003, guessing from the date the picture was taken. This is one of the few pictures I've taken that tells a story; a dirty car in front of a car wash, that's closed off due to ice. But you already knew that, because the picture already tells that story.

So I didn't update on Saturday or Sunday this time. Monday works today, I guess. As I've said before, with my boat loads of travel, I've had zero motivation to spend 30 minutes of my free time updating this website for Photography Phaturday.

Last week I got to stay in a Hilton Home 2 Suites for the first time. It was pretty bad. The A/C fan would not turn off. At around 5:30 I asked them about it, and they called maintenance. At around 9, I figured no one would be by so I decided to let go of what I'd been holding for the last three hours and use the bathroom. Not 30 seconds into it I get a knock on my door. "Give me a minute!" The door opens, but is held back by the lever-socket thing (like a chain lock, but not). "Maintenance!" I say louder, "GIVE ME A MINUTE!". A strange scraping noise is heard, as the maintenance guy un-levers the door, and I greet him in my bathroom mirror, sitting on the toilet. "GIVE ME A MINUTE!". He apologized and waited in the hallway until I let him in. He said he didn't hear anything because the lobby music was too loud (but if the lever is blocking a door from being opened, you can assume that someone is in the room and it's best not to walk in on them. No excuse.). A board needed to be replaced in the A/C unit, and it took about an hour. When he was gone, I locked up, and tried to enjoy the newfound silence. This is when I became forcibly aware that my room was on the first floor, closest to the lobby with the elevator motor right up against my wall, so any time someone went up or down, I got to listen to a loud metal click, and a steady hum, followed or preceded by a ding. Not only that, but apparently some people decided to have a party of sorts in the lobby, so I got to listen to their yelling and laughter. Defeated, I turned on my A/C fan to drown out some of the sounds, but it wasn't loud enough to drown out the elevator. As I was getting in bed, I went to set the alarm. There was no alarm clock. I called the front desk, asking if this was some sort of strange European thing (they try to model the hotel after Europe's, but it looks cheap... like you walked into an Ikea store) that they thought you wouldn't need an alarm clock. I was assured that there was supposed to be one, but all she could do was give me a wake-up call.

The following day, I was looking forward to the one saving grace about the place being "European styled"... the European style breakfast. I expected a number of meats and cheeses, lots of fruit, and maybe even a chef to cook my eggs. I got nothing like that. They had cereal, milk, packaged oatmeal, and some small packaged breakfast entrees that you're to run through a conveyor toaster. Fresh fruit was limited to green apples.

I hope I never have to stay there again, and I hope you don't have to either. -16JAN2012

The Washington Monument behind some trees.
One of potentially billions of pictures of the Washington Monument, January 2003.

Not really much to say about the picture, except that it was the first picture I took of the monument after living in DC for over a year.

It's difficult for me to get out of holiday mode. I feel like the smallest of responsibilities are ten times more annoying than they really are. The prospect of having to travel every week for the rest of the month doesn't help. Maybe I'll at least get some good pictures out of it.

Since I don't have much to talk about, please enjoy this video clip I made today of me driving with the wife down I-270, and grabbing the northwest portion of the beltway to our exit to get home from the holiday party my company held (in upstate New York), all during the sunset. Right click, save as, or download it however you want. Right clicking, and saving as was necessary back in the day. Not so much anymore. I'm sure you can figure out how to watch it... though it is in WMV format which is incompatible with Apple stuff. But you Apple users are smart cookies and can figure out how to watch it, I'm sure. -07JAN2012

A screenshot of Skyrim.
Overlooking the Black River, near Riverwood.

So what have I been up to? Lots of work and lots of Skyrim. Just like when I made a Fallout 3 screenshot my week's update, I'm now making a Skyrim screenshot this week's update. I have finally been home enough to play this game the way it was meant to be (all day). It's also why I didn't update yesterday. Because I was playing.

Oh. Happy 2012. Hope this year is better than last one. -01JAN2012

A foam letter, bitten into by a toddler.
A dental imprint from my birthday buddy, Anne.

So I didn't update last week for the first week since I started this Photography Phaturday thing. I've been traveling so much with work lately, the last thing on my mind was updating. On Sunday, I remembered that I forgot, but I was on my way to another remotish location for work at the time. It was my fourth Sunday where I was on the road for work, out of the last six.

I finished up on Wednesday and we drove to Asheville visit Nina and Dan and Anne for the first time in over a year. It's amazing to see how much Anne has grown since I last saw her. She's forming sentences, laughs at silly jokes, and knows exactly how far away from you she needs to be, to run without you being able to grab her before she runs into the cash register area of a bookstore to tell the staff "Mera Christchmasch". In her play room, I picked up this foam yellow letter H and saw the cutest little teeth marks I've ever seen, and decided that's what I'd post in this week's Photography Phaturday.

Merry Christmas to all who look at this thing. -24DEC2011

Birthday Dinner.  Asparagus, dill mashed potatoes, filet pinwheel, garlic bread.
My birthday dinner, 2011.

Yesterday I turned the ripe old age of 32. I spent the day working and running errands that needed to be run for the last month and a half or so. One of which was taking my car to get an oil change. Jiffy Lube is easily the most convenient place to go, but I think I'm never going to go there again. Why? Because about 10 minutes after getting my oil change there, sitting at a light, smoke started billowing out of my hood scoop. I parked it at the closest place I could and looked under the engine, and fluid was drip drip dripping onto the ground. I called them and a guy came out to me to look at it... turns out it was just spillage. A lot of spillage. He pulled a rag out after wiping something down and it was soaked in black, old oil. A lot of it got 'trapped' on top of my exhaust manifold and was burning off (good thing there wasn't a fire I guess).

So that took up most of my free time, but at least I got to have a most excellent dinner. The stuffed filet was incredibly buttery, considering how done it was (I like my steak well done; it was on purpose). Dill mashed potatoes - delicious! I don't know why I like asparagus, but I do, and it was very asparagus-y. Many kisses go to my wifey for spending so much time and effort to perfect this meal. It's just as good leftover today. -13DEC2011

An orange cone sticking out of a pothole.
Anacostia Naval Station, January 2003.

I took this picture with the express intent of posting it as my main picture on my website (before I started doing this Phaturday thing, of course). Looking through my archives, it appears as though I never did... Better late than never.

I removed the "main" picture at the top. I was getting tired of looking at it, and I haven't come across anything especially amusing/funny/ironic since I posted it. -11DEC2011

Sunrise picture, taken in Fayetteville, NC
Fayetteville, NC - Wednesday morning.

So this week I was in Fayetteville, NC working on systems my company sold to the army units there. The area around Ft. Bragg has changed a lot since I last lived there, in 2001. There are a lot more upscale restaurants, and a lot of the places I used to frequent are long gone. Rock-ola Cafe, one of the most underappreciated restaurants I've ever known is gone. All the music stores are gone... I used to spend entire days driving from store to store, looking for different new CDs. Paradise Music, Musik Hut, FYE, the other FYE, and there was some used CD store that I can't remember the name of. All gone. I think I bought more CDs on any random weekend, than I've bought in the last two years. The place where I bought my Prelude, Valley Mazda, is now Valley BMW.

Even more strange is how a place where I lived... no... owned for three years can feel so foreign to me today. The young kids driving around aggressively I look at with disdain, but nostalgically recall what it was like to be one of them. I used to know every road and every shortcut, but now had to use a GPS to get where I needed to go. My favorite Mexican restaurant... Monterrey's... is now a veritable house of vomit piles on a plate. Have they changed that much, or have I been exposed for ten years to a quality of Mexican food that is several orders of magnitude better than what I thought was good? Bella Villa, a good little Italian restaurant that was always packed, was dead empty at lunch time when I ate there this week. Soldiers, instead of driving around in riced-out 5 year old Hondas and Neons, are now driving around in riced out $40k brand new muscle cars and $50k trucks that sound like Thunder of the Gods when they drive by. The whole week was filled with weird emotions. I didn't enjoy living at Ft. Bragg, but I miss the youth and arrogance that I had during that time. I also miss being able to eat anything I wanted and not having to worry about it. One of my favorite things to eat for dinner on every Sunday was to go to Arby's, and get a Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich and a Chicken, Bacon, and Swiss sandwich combo (with curly fries), an apple turnover (without icing), and a Jamocha milkshake. Using Arby's Meal Calculator, that meal was over 2700 calories... nevermind the sodium. The Monday morning for PT I would be pretty tired, but once we got started with warm-ups I had an endless amount of energy. Strangely, if I ate McDonald's the night before, I felt like crap during PT, and the whole rest of the day.

On the way back home, I drove to Lexington, NC to see my sister and have dinner with her. Talk about things changing... We went to Applebee's and I was actually impressed with what I ordered. I highly recommend one of their new items: The Chicken Parmesan Stack. They put a lot of heat in it... not sure if it's jalapenos or what, but it was perfect for me, and the breading on the chicken was very crispy and delicious. The spinach and artichoke dip that my sister ordered, and has always ordered, is now in a much smaller portion of dip, and with twice as many chips (so I don't recommend that). After dinner (and dessert) we just drove up and down the road and talked about stuff, until it was time for her to get back to her group home routine. The drive home from there was mind-numbingly boring, but it was good to finally be home with my wife, and with no prospect of going out of town the following week, for the first time in over a month, if that makes sense, and if you like commas. -03DEC2011

A large man with nipples growing out of his back, sticking through his shirt.
Picture taken at the Dixie Classic Fair in North Carolina, 2010.

I noticed this guy had some pointy growths on his back. Hopefully they don't lactate. - 26NOV2011

A river running through a snow covered valley, as seen from an airplane.
Somewhere over the Midwest in early January 2003. Picture taken from the window of an airplane (because I can't jump that high).

While I agree that this is a very good picture (thank you), I can't help but imagine what beautiful scenes could be captured if I were a little closer (say... 30,000 feet closer). At least it was warmer in the plane, and usually there's no hungry, scavenging bears to worry about.

These last few weeks have been hectic. I've traveled every week this month so far, and it looks like it will continue until December. Strangely, I have zero pictures to show for it. I guess my Photographer's Eye has gone into hibernation. And then there's my dash cam music video hobby... I still haven't started my next video. Too much travel - when I get home I just want to relax... playing Skyrim, or watching TV with the wifey. The most hectic thing I do is wash clothes for my next trip, and read/write emails. Though today I did work on the website a little more than usual. I shortened the main page, and created a fourth archive page. I also fixed the link that's been broken for a few months. -19NOV2011

A visible line in temperature, snow, trees, Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole again, taken early January, 2003.

This scene struck me... It's one of the few things I'd seen after the age of very young, that changed the way I thought of the tangible world. Here we see a visible line (mostly horizontal - I'm not talking about the ski slope) in the trees, where snow stays and where snow melts in the pine needles. Before seeing this I always knew that the higher you go, the colder it got due to lower air pressure... but never imagined that the difference between pressures could be defined by such a line in nature. Since then, every time I've seen a cloud that is flat on its underside, I think of this.

Sometimes I see old photographs and look at the cars in them, and think about how weird it must have been to live in a time where the old cars I see today were new. I get that same feeling when looking at this picture. I'm getting old. -12NOV2011

1995 Honda Prelude
My 2nd car. Picture taken in June, 2005.

This is the best my Prelude has looked in 10 years or so. It was immediately after getting fixed up, after I rear ended some poor lady. I was in the right lane, and the left lane was empty. The SUV in front of me decided at complete random that they were going to take their foot off the gas and slow down. So I passed them on the left. As I accelerated, the SUV decided "Hey, I guess I'll start doing the speed limit again, now." and they started going faster. I made the stupid decision to go even faster (but completely within the speed limit of course), and that's when, about 7 cars ahead of me, someone realized they had to turn left and slammed on their brakes. The lane came to a stop really fast and I was the last to notice. So some $2000 later (mostly insurance money), this picture above is what my car looked like.

Less than two weeks after taking that picture, I was behind an SUV. We were both making a right from a stop sign onto a 50 MPH speed limit road. The SUV went and I moved forward. I saw an opening in traffic, raised the RPMs so I could pop the clutch a little to take off, and when the moment came, I went. BAM. Turns out the SUV didn't go after all. It was very much facing in the direction of traffic, but off to the side, mostly on the shoulder; invisible to anyone on the side street who doesn't turn their head right of center. The damage to the Prelude wasn't bad... It's still there, in fact. The quarter panel actually stabbed a hole in his bumper. I paid him for his damage out of pocket ($700)... but damn was I angry at myself for doing something so stupid so quickly after my last stupid move, and I'm reminded of it every time I look at the rusty, bent corner of my quarter panel.

So why is all of this relevant to our current global economic situation? It's not. However, it is relevant to this update because I've spent the last week or so fixing the car up. Battery was dead. Replaced it. Brought it in for an oil change and a brake inspection. Good to go. Except when they checked the spark plug wires they broke one of them... they only said to me that it was "toast". I assumed I was getting the car back in the same condition I brought it to them in... but nope. I drove it on three working cylinders to our apartment (felt like it was going to die at times, but once the engine started going, it felt mostly normal... just with much less power). Today I got the new wires and popped them in. The car runs pretty good now. No smoke, no hesitation... A/C still works, all the electronics work. I need to drive it around more though... rotors are getting rusted and it causes it to make a horrible scraping noise everywhere I go. It's starting to become a tangible project. It makes me feel better to get this old vehicle that's been with me for almost all of my adult life, back to reliable working condition. I hope it doesn't get too expensive. -05NOV2011


Snow falling in my apartment parking lot.  In October 2011.
My apartment parking lot, this afternoon.

This wasn't the worst first snow of a season I've had, but it's certainly the earliest in memory. The worst was in November of 2004ish, where it took me 6 hours to get six miles to home, after leaving work at 3 PM. I found out that the majority of the slow down was caused by lights turning green, and cars unable to move forward because the ground was so slick. This action backed up the entire interstate to the point of parking lot status. I experienced not being able to go at a green light myself, while in my front wheel drive, low to the ground, Honda Prelude. Luckily this season's first snow happened on a Saturday, and I didn't have to deal with any traffic shenanigans. I don't think it was bad enough to cause super serious traffic jamming, but it definitely would not have been a pleasant drive home for anyone. If only I were driving an SUV; maybe I could have put enough carbon dioxide into the air to prevent this from ever happening again.

Last week I thought I'd be done with my 5th music video by now, but I haven't even started it yet. It's one of those things that once I start it, I can't really rest until I finish it. So I'm scared to start it.

My Prelude's battery died some time a few weeks ago. Had to jump it to move it from one spot of the parking lot to another and back again, so they could paint new lines. The last time I put a new battery in it, was at an NTB while my girlfriend (who is now my wife) still lived in Georgia, and I was stationed at Ft. Bragg. I left Bragg in late 2001, so whatever no-name battery it was that I had in there, it did a pretty darn good job keeping the car alive. So I got a new battery. It was a pain undoing the bolts that haven't been touched in nearly ten years, and then putting them back on. The amount of corrosion that is crumbled all over, underneath my hood is a bit staggering. My lower back is killing me today from working on it. Before the snow came in this morning, I took the car for a spin around the apartment complex... it really is a fun car to drive. I wish I had a garage to keep it in. As for the smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe, I'm starting to think it was caused by too much oil. I checked it recently and it was easily a quart and a half too high. How 'bout that for buying a new vehicle because you think your old one is dying? -29OCT2011

Teton Mountains, snow capped, in a sunset, Jackson Hole, WY
More Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, WY. Taken late December, 2002

Continuing on with my old pictures chronologically, here is another picture of Jackson Hole's Grand Tetons, but at a different time of day and from a slightly different location. At this time, the breeze starts to kick in and being outside is no longer fun. Good thing we had plenty of free (to us) cable TV to watch.

So I finished my 4th episode of my traffic music videos. Click here to see it. This one was produced with Vegas Movie Studio 9, but rendered with the trial edition of Vegas Movie Studio 11. Why? Because Vegas 9 can't handle my intense footage, I guess. Vegas 11 was better built for 1920 x 1080 clips... and so when the trial edition worked great, I went ahead and ordered it without really knowing anything about it except that it renders what I wanted Vegas 9 to render without crashing. -23OCT2011

Teton Mountains, snow capped, Jackson Hole, WY
Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, WY late December, 2002

Easily one of the more interesting times of my life, here I was in Jackson Hole for work, for two weeks through both Christmas and New Years. My hours were from 4:00AM - 6:30AM for one day out of every three, and to be on call (meaning less than half an hour away) at all times. I couldn't really do anything but walk around and take in the scenery... Oh and I had my trusty old laptop of course; this is also the time where I did a lot of work on my website. Additionally, this time in my life is where I discovered my very high tolerance for cold temperatures. I remember one morning at 4AM, standing outside in my suit. I didn't have a coat or long underwear or anything that a sane person would have purchased at some point. It was 6 degrees (Fahrenheit), but because there was no wind, I was able to "chill" for about half an hour before I decided it was time to warm up. My feet were the first to get really cold, due to the cold concrete wicking away the warmth of my toes degree by degree. Another strange thing I remember is seeing a weird shaped hole in the snow, on the edge of the sidewalk. Looking into it was a perfect foot-deep shaped cutout, where at the bottom laid a dog turd.

When I was done with my duties, I'd find someone to take me to Bubba's and I'd get a monster breakfast burrito, and have the rest of the day off (relatively speaking).

I miss those days sometimes. Who wouldn't? -15OCT2011

Animated gif of a peace lily, after being watered.

Not a normal style Photography Phaturday, but this time a bit more work went into it. I woke up this morning and noticed our Peace Lily needed some water. I got my old Canon G5 out, set the Intervolameter to take 100 images, one every three minutes. After watering the plant, this was the result. I batch cropped/resized the images using the free software Irfanview. I don't know what I'd do without that software... I've been using it for almost a decade now, and I get excessively frustrated with other image editing software that makes it 100x more difficult to do simple things.

In computer news, I upgraded to Windows 7. As with each time I wipe my computer clean, I try using different software other than the 12 year old 1st Page 2000 (it came out in 1999). Here, I am using Komodo Edit. It's slow. As I type now it takes about half a second for characters to catch up (to be fair, this happens with 1st Page as well, but only since I got this new video card, three years ago). Also, there's no live spell check, and you have to save the code in order to preview it. Other than these things that I've gotten used to (that are missing with the new software), it looks to be pretty powerful. I don't think I'll continue using it though.

In work news, we went to my work HQ in New York for a 5, 10+ anniversary dinner. It was good... got a $100 gift card. It really doesn't feel I've been out of the army and have worked for the same employer for five years. -08OCT2011

A siamese-looking cat, nuzzling fern.
Mr. Simone, May 2005

When I was 16 we got a kitten. We named the kitten Simone, after my mom's cat Simon from when I was too young to remember (well, I do have some memories of cats but I don't remember what they looked like. One time I put one of them in an empty drawer and forgot about it for I don't know how long, until my mom asked me if I'd seen it. I didn't tell her of course, but I opened the drawer and out it popped... like lightning). Well, it turned out that as Simone grew up a bit, it wasn't the female cat that we thought we had. His name became Mr. Simone because we didn't want him to develop multiple personalities, as he certainly would if we changed his name at this critical learning stage in his life.

He was an extremely playful cat, probably because I played with him incessantly. He loved to hide and pounce on you and run off. He'd take lazy swipes at you, lying on his back, if you walked close by him. He followed me everywhere, and came running upstairs or downstairs if his name was called (if the rare event happened that he wasn't following me). He had a scratchy, barely audible meow on purpose, when he was hungry. It really seemed like he didn't want to be annoying (but this changed as he got older). His favorite game was if I got behind a closed door, and stuck a stick underneath it. He did not hold back in attacking whatever I put under the door. Sometimes I'd see him in a room doing whatever, and get behind a corner, sticking only a portion of my head out. If he didn't notice me, I'd make a noise so he'd look in my direction. Upon seeing me, he'd get real still (because he thought I was stalking him) (he did it to me all the time), eyes wide, ears perked. He'd come towards me and I'd lower my head, which gave him greater cause for concern. This was always hilarious to me... sometimes he'd meow as if to say "Hey, quit playing around. This isn't funny.". Sometimes he'd randomly jump straight in the air and run off. Sometimes he'd just trot over and jump up and swipe at my face (claws in), and then start cleaning himself at my feet.

A siamese-looking cat, sleeping with his tongue out.

Then, when I was 17, I joined the army. I don't know what happened while I was gone, but the cat was not happy to see me when I got back from my 12 week disappearance to Basic Training (and other army related duties). I suspect my (now ex) step dad abused him at some point, leaving the cat very untrusting of males (because when Mr. Bobby tried to pet him, he was attacked). From late 1997 on, the cat and I had a fragile relationship. He'd play with me, but as soon as I put a hand on him to pet him, he'd stiffen up. If I continued to try to pet him, he'd freak out; one time he latched onto my forearm and backclawed it enough to cause me to bleed enough for blood to drip down to and off of my fingertips. That was about when he permanently became my mom's cat.

Yesterday he was put down. He was sick, and he was suffering for a month or more. I loved the cat because of our very close friendship for the first year of his life. Even though in his crotchety old cat age he hated me (except when I played with him), it still ruined my day knowing that I'd never see him again. Wherever Mr. Simone is now, I hope there's lots of fern, catnip, and lizards. -01OCT2011

Leaves fallen in grass, on the grounds of Kingsport Apartments in Alexandria, VA
Fall is here again. My old apartment complex in Alexandria. - November, 2002

The leaves on certain trees around here are starting to change color. Fall has officially started, and the weather is finally getting bearable again, as I hate any temperature above 80 degrees.

I think I'm going to stop with my traffic music videos, at least for a while. The first one was a big hit, but the next two didn't get nearly the same response, despite being extremely similar in content and style. Maybe because it's just more of the same, but I'll be danged if I can figure out a better way to entertain internet people with compilations of bad driving. -25SEP2011

Wow - I don't know if I've ever done anything this stupid before... I probably have, but... man this is embarrassing. I updated my website but I never uploaded my update. I don't know how I missed it, but I did. Last Phunday's update follows below. Kind of sucks that no one told me I didn't update, but then I guess people I know would actually have to look at this page on a regular basis for them to notice and tell me about it. -22SEP2011

Sioux City's Downtown Area, from a hotel window 8 stories up.
Sioux City, IA - November, 2002. I bet I'm the only person you know that's been there.

This was an interesting trip for my work at the time. It was 70 degrees when we took off out of Maryland, and was about the same temperature when we landed in Sioux City. Our next destination was to be Duluth, MN. The temperature there was 40 degrees, and I didn't bring a coat. So I bought one at the Sioux City JC Penny (St. John's Bay brand) and it lasted me until last year's winter. It was the most comfortable, unassuming, and functional coat I've ever had (unassuming because I don't want to stand out with brand names, loud colors, or something that makes noise as I walk). It was perfect for 95% of cool weather... Unfortunately the outer shell fabric started thinning and tearing at the seams and I got rid of it.

I also ate at a Chili's there and got horrible service and my food was cold.

I made my 3rd Bad Drivers music video and published it on YouTube this week. It's my best one. Click to see it. -18SEP2011

A land formation near LaCrosse, WI that resembles the Cliffs of Moher.
LaCrosse, WI - edge of the town, October 2004.

The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland are pretty famous. Less famous is this (unnamed?) natural formation on the river that runs along LaCrosse, WI. This town is probably one of the most underrated towns in the US. Lots of good places to eat, and very picturesque (obviously, assuming you've been paying attention). - 10SEP2011

"Piece by piece". It's a phrase that is ingrained in my brain, and is associated with only one person. I heard it on the television just now, as I sit at my computer, and I cannot stop thinking about this association.

What is significant about this phrase? I'll tell you. When I went to Senegal (around June/July, 2003), a 23 year old boy/man by the name of Shawn Gillespie was on my team, while I was there. Outside of setting up communications infrastructure, we went to local places and ate local food. At each of these places, were locals, surprisingly (okay, not surprisingly). One was a guy, who was peddling an intricately carved wooden boat, with oars, sails, and even big-headed men to man the boat. Shawn showed interest in it, which excited the man selling it. In the end, Shawn decided that it would break in his luggage, and could not buy it. The man exclaimed "IT COME APART PIECE BY PIECE SO YOU TAKE HOME" - I know that sounds like an Asian thing to say, but I assure you this was Africa. Shawn insisted "No, thank you." but the peddler was desperate. Shawn, along with my encouragement tried to avoid the man as we boarded our shuttle to take us from (wherever we were) to our hotel. The salesman, in his desperation, seeing "wealthy" white people interested in his product for the first time in what may have been years, followed Shawn onto the bus, to sell him the wooden boat. It was a crazy scene. The bus driver, being paid to perform one of the few jobs available in the country, did not hold back in kicking the peddler off the bus. Me talking to Shawn after the event, he couldn't get over the phrase "it come apart piece by piece". He kept laughing, making fun of the peddler's combination of desperation and limited English.

My interpretation was that he was disturbed by what happened, but needed to laugh about it to make sense of it. For me, I thought there was a lot more I could learn about the every day life of a street salesman in Senegal, but had no desire to actually go through the learning process (otherwise I'd be able to tell you all about what it's like selling stolen items at entrances to tourist-y hotspots).

Shawn did a few other things that were pretty memorable on that trip - but one thing I'll never forget is the way he handled the "Piece by piece" guy... a smile that says "you're out of your mind", but with hands that say "I like you, but leave me alone."

Over the next few years, things started falling apart for Shawn. Problems with his marriage, and a handful of career ending decisions dropped him into a hole that I imagine he thought was impossible to climb out of. On March 24th, 2008, in King George, VA, Shawn took his own life. -05SEP2011

UPDATE: While I wrote this on the 5th of September, I did not upload it until my following update. The purpose being more about getting it off my chest than about people I know reading it. I don't want to diminish it by making it a "headline" on my page. This is Shawn's deal, and one of many life lessons I now take into account every day that I'm still breathing.

A public clock in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, surrounded by buildings and other stuff.
LaCrosse, WI - edge of the town, October 2004.

With my recently bought $580 camera in hand, this was (I think) the first time I actually went out of my way to get pictures. What you see here is the best of about 13 pictures I took of this same area, from the same angle. The matured photographer within me wishes I'd gotten closer to the clock, and maybe even used a tripod - not to mention taking the shot with multiple exposure levels. Merging the different levels of exposure into one, brilliant photo would make this an incredible capture. For now, it's just this week's Photography Phaturday (Phunday) update.

Trying to get started on my 3rd traffic music video. A wall I didn't expect to hit, was the wall of not being able to find a song to use. I have a few candidates, but their owners aren't giving me the rights to use them. By "not giving me the rights", I should clarify that they've simply not responded to my request. In the meantime, I'm editing the clips to block the license plates. When I'm done, if I don't have permission to use a song, I'll just proactively implement one of them and wait for the lawsuit. -04SEP2011

A wooden carving of a camel, leaning on a wooden carving of an elephant, after an earthquake.
The extent of the damage in our Virginia apartment, caused by the earthquake, on August 23, 2011.

I got those wooden carvings while I was in Ghana. There was a garage sale style market down the road from the hotel where they were selling those, plus other wooden carvings. More interesting was the variety and quantity of carvings of human penises (penii?), of which I bought none. To the right of the carvings you see a Matryoshka doll of Vladmir Putin (and other Russian/Soviet leaders), apparently shocked by what he's seeing. I got that in Moscow. The smallest figure inside is near impossible to separate; there's definitely something inside it as it rattles around. I've always assumed it was some sort of GPS based spying device. The battery is probably dead by now.

Unfortunately, I was out of town during the earthquake. I've been in one before when in the Philippines... Was on the 20th-ish story of a hotel, and the building was shaking the same way a bridge shakes as you are sitting idle, and a large truck drives by on the opposite side. I think the earthquake in Virginia this week was a bit stronger though. In the meantime we're getting pummeled by hurricane Irene (and by pummeled, I mean rained on slightly). I'd be surprised if I lost electricity. -27AUG2011

Orioles Stadium, viewed from the Hilton, 15th floor.
The view from my hotel room (for work), in Baltimore, this week.

Couldn't have asked for a better view. Not much I can say about Baltimore except that I didn't have time to really sightsee. It's only an hour away; probably very picturesque (from what I could tell by driving in/out of the city). The opportunity to go back is always in my hip pocket, but I probably never will, seeing as how I rarely (as in, less than once a year) go to DC while it's just a quick metro ride over.

I hate paying for parking, and I hate sitting at a light at every block, and I hate getting weird looks from people when I take pictures of things. -20AUG2011

Phone books lined up on the ground, for residents that don't want them.
Picture taken recently, about 1 week after these phone books showed up.

So much work goes into producing these things... not only to make sure all information is correct and laid out properly, but also to print them, and deliver them. No one wants them. They might be handy if the internet breaks down one day, but until then, they take up too much room and never get opened. I felt sorry for these poor, unwanted inanimate objects; so I took a bag and now I have phone books dutifully sitting in a corner on top of some clothes that I've been meaning to take to a dry cleaner for the last three weeks or so.

I finished my 2nd traffic music video yesterday. I did a pretty good job with it, I think. In shallow hindsight, I should have removed a couple of the traffic clips and ended it more succinctly with the music. Other than that though, the video will knock your socks off. Click here to see it.

Since the Prelude isn't legally drivable (well, technically it is, but come the state mandated emission check day in a couple months, it will no longer be legal), we bought a 2005 Toyota Sienna today. It's not a bad little minivan. I got suckered into getting an extended warranty for it, but they knocked $500 off the price, and it looked like a pretty good warranty, so I don't hate myself for it. -13AUG2011

A river bordering LaCrosse, WI, with trees changing leave colors in the foreground.
LaCrosse, WI October, 2004

I once again, broke my systematic elimination of PWP (or, Pictures Worth Posting) in my older folders of pictures. Rather than going with another old Kodak picture from 2002, I went with an old Canon pic from 2004. "WHY?!?", you ask incredulously. Well dear reader, I will tell you. This update is my 52nd Photography Phaturday update, and I wanted to use one of my upper tier UPWP (or, Unposted Pictures Worth Posting). Yes - this marks a FULL YEAR of (near) weekly updates. And you thought I couldn't hack it. Tisk.

So what do I have to say about my Photography Phaturday event, after a year? Not much really. It's obsolete icing on an obsolete cake. I lamented as much a few weeks ago, but I am proud of it, as I do have some really good PWS (or, Pictures Worth Sharing).

I'm trying to work on my second traffic music video, and have encountered a problem that has frustrated me more than most things that frustrate me. My rendering software... my video editing software continually crashes when I try to render the video. When I did my video review, I had the same issue, but was able to bypass it by rendering only 3 minute sections at a time. Now, this time, for some reason the issue is whenever two clips are blended together, I get a crash. I can't even render 10 seconds, if there's a blend somewhere in that 10 seconds. I don't know what is causing this new behavior... but it is making me very angry and makes me not want to do this sort of thing any more, even though the video is going to be even more awesomer than my last one. I hope to be done with it by the end of next week. -07AUG2011 (yes, I'm a day late to the 52 week celebration)

A big, beautiful waterfall and canyon in Yellowstone National Park.
This is the last picture from Yellowstone you'll see here. October, 2002.

See what great photos I've been holding back on, for all of these years? There are about 10 more that I considered posting, but I think that Photography Phaturday is pretty much Yellowstoned out, so I picked what I thought was the best one from what I had left, and there you have it. What's sad is that I don't remember much about the trip. Granted, it was a lot of sightseeing crammed all into about 6 hours during the day, but it only reinforces the the reason behind bringing a camera wherever I go (though I still feel foolish when people are around, while I'm taking pictures. Don't know if I'll ever get over that.).

I guess one thing I remember pretty vividly, was we were coming back, leaving the park at night. Everything was pitch black and there was an oncoming car, whose headlights briefly disappeared and reappeared. This caused the guy driving the vehicle in which we were riding to slow down in confusion. Turned out to be an elk, whose back was about as tall as our minivan, just kind of chilling in the middle of the road. Had the oncoming car not been there, we might have nailed that thing. I was in the back seat, so I probably would have survived anyway, but it was still pretty exciting. The driver creeped up to the thing and started honking repeatedly (a practice I've absorbed whenever encountering animals that don't want to move out of the way - very effective). The elk reared up on its hind legs, screaming in its broken, adolescent sounding roar, and ran off into the woods. Good times. -30JUL2011

A bowl of homemade chicken stew over mashed potatoes.
This is the extremely delicious chicken stew I was talking about last week (over mashed potatoes).

I did all of two sentences of an update to my Delicious Meals page (don't go looking, I haven't updated the changes, and will not until it's complete.). Hopefully I'll have time/motivation to work on it throughout the week. If not, then it will be the week following. And if not then, the week after that. Etc. -24JUL2011

So my traffic music video has been active for quite a while. I know I said I'd post it here as soon as I was done, but I didn't. So I'm posting it now, okay? Here! Happy now? [Update 30JUL2011: Only one person clicked on it in two weeks. :( (Thank you, cousin Stacey!)] I started working on an update to my Delicious Meals page and was going to tell you about my video when I was done with that, but then I stopped working on it and now here we are 24 hours later, with no update telling you where my superstar YouTube video is. Well, until now of course.

On another note, I watched Ninjas vs Vampires on Netflix. Like Thankskilling, you have to lower your expectations to really enjoy it. Lots of work went into the movie (and now that I've made a couple of music videos, I'm an expert on all things movie-making related), and you can tell that the people involved really enjoyed what they were doing. There was some cheesy dialogue of course but the director didn't take himself seriously and that made it okay somehow. There was also some awesome dialogue, but you have to be about my age to agree, I think. -18JUL2011

One of the better decks I've seen, in the back yard of a friend's house.
A friend's home, viewed from the back yard.

So this was the picture I would have posted last week if I didn't forget my camera in the car. The house was owned by a horticulturist (the word used synonymously with horticulturalist), and had all kinds of hybrid plants, including a magnolia tree that grew upwards. Of course, my friend didn't know what the hybrid was, but it was evident the tree was there for a very long time (it was tall) and there was absolutely no root damage done to the sidewalk or driveway, as I remember being done to my childhood neighbors (who had a fun-to-climb magnolia tree in their front yard) sidewalk and driveway. There are also some planting mounds in the back yard (fertilized, ready for seeds) that the previous owner spent a lot of money cleaning up, I assume in the hopes that the new owner would use them in the way the previous owner would have. That won't be the case, but then again, there's that thing about property value and the weird things you can do to increase it (so, not all is lost, Mr. Horticulturist).

I've been working on a traffic music video for a while now. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to pull it off, but I think I actually managed to make an entertaining traffic cam video. Right now, it's mostly done. I just need to block out license plates (a very tedious process, especially on bumpy roads) and then I'll upload it to YouTube, and post a link here. (not that I expect anyone to click on it; the last one I posted got a total of 1 hit from this site, and I know exactly who clicked it. I did, for testing. But that's enough self pity for now.)

I made chicken stew yesterday. When the wifey is out of town, it frees me up to experiment with cheap, large amounts of food, because if it turns out to be bad, I'll still eat it. Well, in this case, it turned out to be extremely delicious. I considered updating my Meals page; I've taken pictures of the process I went through and what the final result looked like. Hopefully, if I do it, I can be creative enough to embellish it with anecdotes and make it reasonably entertaining to read. But I haven't even started the update yet, so don't hold your breath. -16JUL2011

Every now and again I look through some of my old pages on my website here and read the things I said years and years ago. I'm amazed at the wit that I had then, not that I was especially witty, but that I was so much wittier than I remember being, no matter how many times I've sporadically gone back to reminisce. Every time I do go through my old pages, reliving what I've lived through, I get a sense of who I was and how exciting it was to be one of the very few of my peers to have a website; an empty canvas with which I could share my thoughts and ideas with the world. That excitement bubbles up even now; it has motivated me to update on a non-Saturday. I don't have a goal here... I'm just rambling, knowing few people, if any, who happen onto this page will actually read anything. I do have some really good pictures scattered throughout, and those do get tons of hits. Photography Phaturday has been incredibly successful at bringing image searchers here, but I have to wonder if any ever come back. Looking at my stats for the last month, it seems I have no regular visitors. At all.

I talked to a friend last week who said that he stopped checking my website a few months ago because I stopped updating it. I've been updating it every week since August, last year (I suppose, technically, you could call it "a few months ago"). Four more weeks will mark my 52nd Photography Phaturday. Truth is, with the advent and evolution of social management websites, there's little reason for any friend or family member to visit here, ever. Basically, my site has become a strand of hay in a haystack for image searchers to visit, and leave. "Sharing thoughts and ideas with the world" has turned into little more than leaving a binder with handwritten notes on a public bench; maybe someone will pick it up and look at it. Most won't open it, and the few that do simply look at the pictures (maybe even steal them ), and then put the binder back down.

So with this realization (that I've had for more than "a few" years now), why do I keep this website? I created it thinking I was going to be some sort of internet superstar with my (embarassingly bad) music reviews and (sometimes mediocre, sometimes really good) game reviews (Blade of Darkness still gets the most hits out of everything, by the way). I have no delusions about what this website is or what it will ever become. I have no aspirations of improving the site into something that makes sense to navigate, in order to compete with (???) and get more visitors. Though, I didn't answer my question. Why do I keep this website? I honestly don't know. Maybe it's some sort of personality disorder. Maybe it's because I've had it for so long, there's no sense in killing it. Maybe it's because, in some sick way, I actually like it. -12JUL2011

A canyon with a running riveer in Yellowstone National Park.
Yellowstone, again, October 2002.

A lot has happened this week. My Prelude started smoking out of its exhaust pipe. Had a compression test done and it turns out that it probably needs a new engine. It will be brought to another place next week, a place that can open the engine up a little bit and look closer, and hopefully they'll figure out that it's really something that's fix-able. Like a gasket or something. Man, after typing that I feel like I'm practicing some serious self delusion. So yeah I'll probably be in the market for a new used car sometime between now and September, when the Prelude will need an emissions test. It still drives great, but it's embarrassing having a plume of smoke come out of the back of it whenever accelerating. A new (used) engine installation is roughly $4k, all said and done.

I'm trying to compile video clips of bad drivers to make some sort of music video to post on YouTube. I got permission to use someone's song but I'm worried I won't be able to keep the footage up with the music in any way that would seem natural (it's a fast paced and heavy song, but traffic is slow and mundane). If I can make it look good though, it will be like climbing Mt. Everest, and it will feel great.

I bought Paintshop Pro X3 (that's apparently 13 for my generation) because it was on sale for $40 (normally $99), and came with a ton of other goodies (a $240 value!). Haven't used it yet but if I ever do I'm sure it will be pretty good at what it does. I'm familiar with Paint Shop Pro 9, but the feature missing from it is one called "merge to HDR" which will take multiple exposures of the same object (if you take a picture with cloud cover, and another one without cloud cover, for instance... and you can also adjust camera settings of course) then it will merge them together in a way that makes it look vibrant and detailed at the same time. X3 has that feature, and I will keep mind to use it one day. Also I wouldn't mind if they fixed some of the annoying bugs of the PSP 9. The one review I read of it didn't mention anything about bugs, so I might be fairly safe.

I helped a friend move today... the same one that I helped move a baby grand piano about a year ago. It was tough work... the hardest workday I've participated in, in probably five years or more. I took some pictures of his property but the camera was forgotten in my car and I'm in pajama pants so I will not be posting a picture from that today. Nope. More Yellowstone for you. -09JUL2011

A sign says No Soliciting with a note attached to it that is soliciting.
In my apartment common area, picture taken this morning.

I love it when I can update for Photography Phaturday with a picture that I've taken during the week.

I worked for a very long time on a YouTube video... a review of sorts for a Kodak ZX5 digital camcorder... a product I bought last Friday with the intention of using it as a dashboard camera. If you want to watch it, click here. My whole point was to talk about the camera in a way that would have been informative to me when I was in the market for a camera. There are some neat cameras out there... ones that will even use GPS to impose your speed and location on the video, but the video quality of those is all around bad. For this, I am happy with my purchase and I hope that someone from Kodak's marketing team recognizes my effort and sends me royalties. -02JUL2011

Shadows of human figures, as seen at the bottom of a creek.
Yellowstone Park, Wyoming. October, 2002.

This is one of my favorite pictures of that trip. It's me plus two other guys admiring how clean the water is. When I noticed our shadows on the ground, I captured it... and I don't think it could have come out better. The glare on the water starts at the perfect location, allowing for maximum shadow and reflection viewing.

So... What's going on in the world? North Korea has gone back to becoming a non-issue. Libya is being barraged by NATO (okay... fine. By the US), and no one knows what it will look like (politically) when the dust settles. The Syrian government is murdering protestors in droves, but there doesn't seem to be any UN concern over that. Israel hasn't blown anything up lately, nor have they been blown up (or, if it's been happening, I haven't heard about it).

Europe is in a debt crisis. We're trying to ignore our own debt crisis. Three years ago I bought a bunch of canned goods to prepare for the inevitable hyperinflationary apocolypse. They're all expired now (especially since the wife quit her job, and cooks me dinner most nights, I don't have the chance, much less a reason to eat canned watered down food). I want to be prepared for a dollar collapse, but there's also the "fool me twice, shame on me" thing. I've gone from bewilderment to sympathy for Ben Bernanke, who gets on the TV and seems oblivious to what's going on with our currency (well, this is assuming that nuclear bomb sized amounts of money being injected into the economy has a negative effect on the value of a dollar)... but one day I realized that he can't tell the truth. What he's doing with QE, QE2, artificially low interest rates is an absolute necessity, but he can't tell the truth about the side effect of those things because the country would end up in panic. The stock market crashes by a couple percent in an hour when he does little more than acknowledge the bad data the number crunchers have already made public. In essence, the Fed's policy is hamstrung by Washington's policy. The Fed has to keep pumping money for as long as Washington spends money it doesn't collect... Responsible monetary policy is slightly more suicidal than inflationary monetary policy. The economic sickness is in our federal fiscal and regulatory policy. But that brings up another question - and that is if there were no Fed, would Washington be this irresponsible?

There's a sort of showdown between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats say we need to raise taxes, and Republicans say we need to decrease spending. They're both right of course, but what Republicans need to do is go after the loop holes that were created in the last 10 years. What I mean by loop holes, is deductions. Education deductions, home mortgage interest deductions, green energy deductions, deductions where you can write off a trip to Bali because you're writing a soon-to-be-published book... all deductions crafted to incentivize behavior the government deems proper for a good citizen. Democrats will be in an uproar because this will hurt the middle class, and Republicans need to make the case that it's the middle class tax cuts, thanks to Bush, that have lost Washington the most revenue... and they should also remind them that rich people use deductions too, and their taxes will be effectively raised as well. Then there's the whole cutting spending thing - defense needs cutting, as well as entitlements, both sacred cows neither party wants to touch seriously. Paul Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system, which I think is great, but is too hard to explain to people why it will be better because it relies on a lot of that whole "supply and demand" thing to bring down costs and improve quality. It's been called a very extreme plan... even called right wing engineering by none other than The Brain, Newt Gingrich (though he later rescinded, saying his answer was taken out of context. What a politician. Shame that he has the support of all the talking heads). Ryan's plan looks like it has a chance similar to that of a snowball in a really hot place.

Well, that's my non-Photography Phaturday rant for the quarter. Hope you enjoyed it. -25JUN2011


A conglomeration of a bus, a car, some box trailers, and concrete chunks.
I have no idea what this is. Seen on a Guard base near Hershey, PA.

Hershey, PA is weird (I was there for work, for a couple of days this week). Things that have nothing to do with chocolate or cocoa are named after it. Cocoa Diner. Cocoaplex Theatre. (Well, there's Chocolate in the names of a lot of places, but to be fair they are located on Chocolate Avenue, which is where the Hershey's factory is located. Walking by it you can smell it being cooked, as they blast the warm air from the vents right onto the sidewalk. The bushes in the area look really healthy. I didn't bring my camera for the walk around town. Sorry.) The street lights have Kiss-shaped canopies over them. It's a veritable Disney World of Chocolate, complete with a Hershey Park amusement area about a block away from the factory (has about 10 roller coasters, all jumbled together for a neat looking park). -18JUN2011

A tree with another tree attached to it. Montecello walking trail.
Seen on the trail to Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's estate), taken last week.

This was an interesting sight... I don't do a lot of nature hiking these days, but I was in Boy Scouts for a good while... and I've never seen anything like this. My wife said it was one tree being a parasite to the other one. In a rare occasion, I interpreted a situation nicer than her. It looked to me like the smaller tree was passionately hugging the other one. The reality of course, is that the smaller tree is feeding off of the larger one, suffocating it (at the same time, the larger tree doesn't seem to mind). -11JUN2011

Flower buds, with mountains/hills of Charlottesville, VA in the background.
Some flower buds of some plant. Background is the mountains and hills southwest of Charlottesville, VA.

I tried to reserve the weekend at Charlottesville for my wife's birthday (which is today. Happy Birthday, baby!), but it was pretty full because I get pretty lazy about planning ahead, and waited a bit longer than I should have to make reservations. So I took a half day off Thursday and we went down there for that evening, all day Friday, and came back Saturday. Turns out the one Saturday where I get double digit hits is the Saturday I forget to update the site. Sorry!

So, that makes two weekends in a row where we actually left the apartment and did something. Now it's time to clamp down on the trusty credit card for a few months. -05JUN2011

A flag waving defiantly in front of a cloudy sky.  And a duck (boat car) in the foreground.
Facing out from Union Station, DC.

We went into DC today, to meet Mr Bobby and Mrs. Vicki and Mark to go do something in the city. We originally went to ride the duck, but they were sold out for the day (in fact, the last one leaving can be seen in the above picture). We almost went on a bus tour, but that was $35 a pop. We ended up going to the Air and Space museum and then to a Mexican restaurant. Got to see the motorcycles parked on the mall in preparation for Rolling Thunder. All in all one of the few days I can honestly say I enjoyed while in DC. Better hurry up and upload this. I only have 32 minutes left before Photography Phaturday becomes Photography Phunday. -28MAY2011

Flowers potted in a brick bench, surrounded by brick.  Also brick stairs and a trellis.
The outside of a business building, across from Fairfax Courthouse.

From here, turn right and walk through a door, go down a hall, and to the right is where my wife got almost all of her hair cut off yesterday. :(

If the rapture happens soon, and you don't get a chance to see this picture, I apologize for not posting it earlier today. It was in the back of my mind all day long to post ASAP, or else I might never get the chance again, but I kept being lazy. -21MAY2011

Yellowstone buffalo grazing near a tourist.
Yellowstone again. October, 2002.

I normally try to keep human figures out of my pictures because I don't want to think I'm posting pictures of people for the world to see, without their consent. This is a rare exception, because I wanted to show how close the buffalo (not to be confused with beefalo) were comfortable with being near humans. So, thank you stranger, for being such a good sport. -14MAY2011

Waterfall, trees, rocks.
The first thing worth seeing after entering Yellowstone National Park - October 2002.

Sorry for my lateness. Welcome to the first edition of Photography Phonday. It won't be the last edition, I'm sure - but hopefully you won't see it too often.

This was the first of many pictures of Yellowstone that I took on my one day there with two of my coworkers - the limitations of my Kodak could not stop the beauty from coming through on most of them... But some of the pictures would have come out so much better if I only had more zoom, or more (or any) control over the shutter speed.

Bah. For someone who complains about his old Kodak so much, I sure do post a lot of good old pictures from it. -09MAY2011

German pork meal with potatoes.
Hotel Rosenhof, Germany. Pork with onions and mushrooms, with potatoes.

So I went to Germany for the week. The picture above was the best meal I had while I was there (a very close second, was white asparagus in a butter sauce, plus little bread nuggets and pork medallions). The potatoes were cooked to perfection; the flavor of everything was incredible.

United lost my bag... twice. I might be making a page about that. There was a lot of driving (well, sitting in the passenger seat for me) and not very much sleep. Jet lag, as usual, didn't affect me too much over there... if history is anything to go by, it will bother me now that I'm home over the next week or so. The beer was good. The weather was good. I might be writing something up about it in the future - unfortunately I didn't get very many pictures of anything good. I missed a chance when we were in Heidelberg ("we" meaning my coworker and I). It was by far the most picturesque place of the trip, but I did not bring my camera for the walk to the downtown area, a combination of not knowing how beautiful the town would be and not wanting to lose the camera. -30APR2011 (11:38PM - just in time)

A sunset in La Crosse, Wisconsin over an unnamed river.
La Crosse, WI, October, 2004. From the roof of the Radisson hotel.

Taking a break from my Wyoming 2002 string of pictures (and messing up my systematic elimination of old pics unshared), I found this one from one of the most picturesque, yet unheard of towns I've ever been to. La Crosse, Wisconsin. The downtown area was nice, and restaurant prices were incredibly cheap. I had one of the best sandwiches in my life here, at a sit down restaurant with a semi-elegant setting, for about $4. The town overall was very safe, very quiet, very clean. Traffic was light. -23APR2011

A mountain range and a drained lake somewhere in Jackson Hole
Somewhere in/around Jackson Hole, WY - October 2002.

This week was another incredibly busy week. Went to St. Louis. Didn't even have time to take pictures for this update. At the same time though, I have about 50 or so pictures of the town from a previous trip there that are really good, and can use later.

I've been playing old video games because no new ones have come out. I realize I've done a review for Gothic and Gothic 2, but never did one for Gothic 3 because I never finished the game. I actually got severely frustrated with it because of the plethora of not-fun bugs I encountered while playing (Example; a sabertooth tiger disappears into a boulder I was standing on and kills me, with horrible screaming effects). Well, because of the potential of the game, a huge community in the internet world at large has spent a lot of time and effort (four years worth, now) modifying the game script files fixing bugs like this and other (much worse) ones. So this is the old game I've settled on for now, and am very happy at how well it plays compared to how it used to play. I might even type up a review when I'm done. Thank you, internet community. -16APR2011

Large satellite dish, with a beautiful sky background.
It's a satellite dish. A large one.

So, all week long I worked near this thing, doing a demo for our much smaller terminals. Probably put in over 60 hours, including driving, and have been incredibly tired. It was well worth the experience though - much better than sitting in a cubicle all day, for sure.

When I joined the army, and picked my MOS, this picture is exactly what I saw in my head when I read the title (Satellite Communications Systems Operator/Maintainer). I didn't really have an exact idea of what I was going to be doing, but I thought it would look something like this. Boy, was I wrong. Instead, it ended up looking something like this. -09APR2011

US15 in Pennsylvania, with snow.
US-15 in Pennsylvania, going south. Taken the previous Friday, March 25th.

It was that drive where I wanted to listen to the music Sepultura's Chaos A.D. CD, and realized I'd never ripped it to my computer. It was that CD that helped me turn tepid fear into anticipatory excitement (specifically, the song The Hunt, that I later found out was written by a British band, but didn't sound as good) (because of the drums and melodic structure, not because of the lyrics - I couldn't understand them anyway) as I couldn't sleep the weeks before leaving off to Basic Training.

So at some point this week... I think it was Monday I went looking for the CD to digitize it for future listening in my car and/or MP3 playing device. Along with that, came a rediscovery of probably 20 CDs that I'd completely forgotten about, and couldn't remember a single song from any of them. Some from bands that I really like (but aren't my favorites), like Testament, Soilwork, and Summoning. Listening to these brings me back to the time I last listened to them... probably a decade or more. I feel younger and more energetic. Thinner. -02APR2011

Subaru Legacy GT dusted with snow.
My car at a hotel in New York this week.

It never fails. The moment I take my collapsible snow shovel out of my trunk, and put it away, it snows the week after. I didn't need it to dig the car out (this time), but it is very consistent in that this has happened four winters in a row, each one being 10 - 14 days later from the last year's date that I put the shovel away. I blame global cooling. -26MAR2010

The front side of Chateau Elan's hotel.
The front of Chateau Elan (taken March 10th, 2011).

Got rid of my expensive bagless Bissell vacuum cleaner today, after smelling something burning the last time I used it. In its place now is a much cheaper Hoover Tempo - that uses bags. Bagless vacuum cleaners are the dumbest idea in the world and I don't know why so many of them are being manufactured, or why a good bagged vacuum cleaner is so hard to find.

It's been months since the floor was last vacuumed, so I put the new vacuum to the test today. It doesn't have a front light - something I forgot to look for (not that it would have mattered, it was between this $80 one and a $300 one that probably wouldn't fit in my closet, out of the bagged cleaners available). It's very loud and hard to pull backwards (the brush seems to want to propel the cleaner forward). It sprays dust everywhere, but so did the Bissell (dust being sprayed everywhere is probably a result of going very long periods of time without vacuuming), despite its kaleidoscope of expensive filters. As far as being able to walk on the floor barefoot without getting rock-like pieces of randomness stuck to my foot, the cheap vacuum does the job just fine. When it comes time to empty it out, I will undoubtedly thank myself for not shelling out more $$$ for a quieter bagless vacuum with a light. -19MAR2011