Monday, April 15, 2013

You May All Go To Hell, and I Will Go To Wordpress.

(to paraphrase a dead white male)

Blogger has yanked my chain one time too many.  I hate to change . . . well, anything, really, but this may have been the last straw. 

For the indeterminate future, all activity you would normally find here, will be going on at  I regret going to a host that gives you ads, but this site isn't for you anyway and I don't want to fight with robots when I should be venting my spleen about the goings-on in the world around me.  So long, Blogger.  Too bad you turned out to be a pain in the ass.

I See What You Did There, Google

So all of a sudden, all the controls for this blog that you don't ever see, changed.  Half of them disappeared.  I clicked around and didn't find what I wanted so I clicked on the Blogger+ link on one page.  It took me through creating a Google+ profile* and then SHAZAM all my settings and controls were accessible again.

*for which I have absolutely no use, and which I largely skipped.  Google+ can go straight to hell as far as I care.  The more they change stuff here, the more I start thinking about jumping to a self-hosted blog site.  Sure traffic would take a hit, but I don't blog for you anyway so

...oh, and it's so nice that they decided to change the way it works when I search through my old posts.  What a pain in the [deleted] Blogger is being just now.

edit: nevermind, it's MORE useless crap.  Still looking for the control that used to be where it used to be. :(

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Three Years Ago, I Told You So


Leftists hate the idea of a 401k retirement account.  Only the filty disgusting rich get to really benefit from them, and they discriminate against the poor, poor, pitiful poor people not smart or willing enough to build up nest eggs for themselves.  So it should hardly be a surprise (especially to long-time readers of VFD) that the President's budget proposal comes right out and TAKES from your 401k savings.  The anticipated revenues to the government are supposed to be 9 BILLION dollars, but consider where that money comes from:

The retirement savings you strove a lifetime to set aside, and which you counted on to provide you with a comfortable lifestyle after you retire. 

Hold on there. 

No, wait, it's not your money anyway.  You are an exploiter, treading on the backs of the poor to get that money saved in your richevil taxhaven retirement account.  Having more than three million dollars in a retirement account, well, that's just about as bad as MURDER!

Don't hold your breath waiting for this story to make the nightly news.  Also do not be surprised when the idea somehow becomes law.  Also do not be surprised when the safe-from-confiscation limits change from "tax the really rich" through "tax the pretty well-off" and right down to "who really needs retirement savings anyway" and they start taking everyone's savings.

If you want to secure your wealth, you need to do it with actual property.  Real estate is a traditionally good bed, but it is in a price bubble just now and is easy enough for government to steal (ask the farmers in Rhodesia!) Guns tend to hold their value pretty well over time, but with the current scare-buying still underway, you probably don't want to buy those for investments now either.  Gold is tricky to time but probably going to head north again soon.  The best thing to save your money in these days increasingly looks like a safe in your mattress.  But perhaps our fortunes will change and you will wish you had bought MREs and ammunition instead of making to-be-confiscated 401(k) account contributions.

If you depend on the legal constructs of wicked men to help you save money, don't be surprised when they take it from you, legally.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Round 2...FIGHT!

So the Stupidest Thing Ever got a little stupid-er.  I noticed that I was still showing up as David VoteFor instead of VoteForDavid.  A well-phrased Google search brought me to How to Change Your Display Name on Blogger which is exactly what I wanted to do in the first place...and I couldn't!  As I went to follow the instructions, I noticed they were wrong, and that I had an option to change to a different profile.  Google in their typical not-evil-but-awfully-control-freak-ish way switched me to a Google+ profile instead of a plain jane Blogger profile because they know better.  The instructions were wrong for the Google+ profile, but as soon as I changed back to the profile I WANTED to use in the first place, they gave me an option to pick my display name.  BAM.  How hard was that?

So I went to update the Stupidest Thing Ever post and...couldn't.  Of all my postings, that's the one that I can't edit.  Whiskey Tango Hotel, over.  So now you get a whole new post on the subject, whoopeedee!

Different Strokes for Different Folks

I saw an online discussion where someone asked what to do to get a brighter dome light in their car.  Various people chimed in with 'use new LED lights' type answers.

I don't get it.  I was surprised this morning as #2 was getting in my car, when the dome light came on for the first time in maybe a few years.  I switch it to OFF and leave it that way.  I also disabled the switch on my driver's door, so eve if the light is set to AUTO it still doesn't light unless another door is opened. 

If I need a little light to read a map, there are map lights by the windshield.  If I REALLY need light in the car, a dome light is typically not going to cut it and a flashlight is brought in to use the right tool for the job. I know where everything in the car is, without looking.  A light on in a car is a serious operational security risk.  God only knows who is watching you and is very interested to see (for example) where you stash your wallet, phone or gun.  Nobody needs a bright flash of light telling them I've got in or out of my car, and nobody needs to see who or what-all exactly is in my car.  So.  Off. 

I recognize my status as a member of a small minority that cares about this kind of thing.  Not a protected minority, you understand, but a slightly safer minority nonetheless.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

That Was The Stupidest Thing Ever.

...or at least, the stupidest thing this week so far.

I lost access to an email account I used to log in to this h'yer blog.  I made a fancy new gmail account for the purpose.  It made a new Google Account for me with the same username, for which I have exactly no use. I put my desired username in but I put a typo in there somehow.  It showed up onscreen the way I didn't want it to show up.

So I just spent the last two and a half hours running in circles trying to get blogger to accept a new author with the name I wanted to use in the first place.  It involves yet another new non-gmail address AND another new Google account.

The process goes: log in as user A, then send an invitation to user B to be an author.  User B accepts and it works like magic.  Except it didn't. Blogger would not show the new author in the dashboard for the old author after I accepted the invitation. Two hours later and ready to quit, I logged in to my new gmail account as a last-ditch desperation move to see if anything showed up there.  It had a bunch of emails saying I had accepted invitations with different email addresses..  THAT gmail account is THE account for this blog.  I was logging out of blogger but not out of gmail somehow even though they are the same account, and the OLD Google account was still logged in.  So when I used my new email account to accept an invitation to contribute to VFD, the OLD Google account as accepting it.

What a cluster[deleted].  Way to be, Google.  Finally I figured out to log out of my google stuff in THREE different locations, log in to the new google account, and THEN accept the invitation.  Worked.  Finally.  [deleted].  It sure would have been nice to be getting some productive work done, but somehow this knowledge is nowhere to be found on the internet:

LOG OUT of Google, Gmail, and Blogger, and log in to the Google account of the NEW author you want to invite, BEFORE accepting the invitation. 

The gray-headed guy tried to do this last year and he died trying.  What a needless hassle. 

Google, I don't want, need, or care about EITHER of these Google Accounts.  I'll NEVER use Google+ and I don't want personalized ANYTHING.  I use you for Blogger and web searching.  Leave me alone with this jive already!

Monday, April 8, 2013

You Stay Classy, President Obama

So, for the record:

  • Illinois Senator Obama voted against a bill that would require infants born alive to be given life-saving medical treatment.  And he later said he would have voted for it if it ever came up for a vote.

  • President Obama is using Air Force One to bring family members of dead children to Washington D.C. to dance in the blood of the children, attempting to advance a legislative agenda.


Good job, America.  Way to pick a great guy for President.  Again.

For CJ, Who Will Appreciate It

Part of the three-phase power distribution at a PEC substation.  It's a little noisy because the ISO was cranked on the camera . . . it was still dark out on my way to work when I stopped in exactly the right spot to see this.

Justifiably Proud

If you earn a Distinguished Flying Cross in an AC-130A, you are officially awesome.  The person driving this van makes it cooler to live here, because they also live here.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Free Cat, Maybe

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness: an album name that came to mind today. 

Our super-duper sweet kitty cat, the only non-meowing cat I ever met and, according to my daughter "the best friend ever, ever ever!" may have to go.  She keeps putting her nasty cat-stank PEE in non-litterbox locations in the house.  This makes my Darling Wife go into homicidal rages.  I've barely kept the cat around a couple of times already by getting #1 to keep the litter cleaner and going to a different litter.  Changing the litterbox to a place that doesn't smell like potty-training-in-progress-boy pee, and using the old litter she used to have, is the final test.  Next time she pees elsewhere, she's out for good. 

#1 said "Thanks for the bail money" and meant it, but I told her to get used to the idea that the cat is going to have to go.

If you can train a cat better than a 10 year-old girl,  do like a quiet, gentle animal, and don't mind the razor-sharp claws, well...

What in the World?

First I thought, "what are you?" ...then I grabbed my camera with the sharp lens on it.

This was hanging out on the deck behind our house earlier today.  Some well-chosen Google keywords told me it was a Hypercompe scribonia, the Great Leopard Moth.  Pretty, for a bug.  I didn't notice it was iridescent until I hit it with the camera's flash.  Click to enlarge.

This has been an interesting couple of weeks when it comes to seeing huge moths I've never seen before.   Please excuse the muddy long-end of my telephoto lens:
Hyles Lineata, a White-Lined Sphynx moth, which tricked us into thinking we had a tiny hummingbird on the Jasmine for a moment.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'll Just Be . . . RUNNING IN TERROR

"You came to the wrong neighborhood [deleted]"

Click to enlarge
or, to quote the ship's Cat, "I'll make myself look big, and scary!"

Will a Chevrolet Uplander/Buick Terazza/Pontiac Montana/Saturn Soltice Hold a 4x8 Sheet of Plywood?

Yes. 100% for-sure! If you are wondering whether your Chevy Uplander-based minivan will hold full sheets of flat stock, here is your proof. Fresh from the Mega-lo-Mart, here is our 2005 with THREE full sheets of plywood in the back.

Keep the drive home short, though, because the driving position is . . . uncomfortable and unsafe. The rear chairs do not need to be removed, they can be folded (they are folded in these pictures). The front chairs need to be all the way forward and all the way upright, and the back hatch will close when the plywood is pushing against your chair. The sides will scratch on the trim by the back seats, and the seatbelts will get splinters or at least be rubbed pretty hard. The power outlet (if your car has one) may take a beating if you are not careful.
This is all the room you get. But it fits. . . . barely

I Think It's Blown

What do you think, is this fuse any good?

The lights dimmed when I plugged in the device where this lived. Just for a moment.

Click to embiggen. The lines where the molten metal spun around the inside of the glass are kinda crazy.

8 Amps.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Didn't Check My E-Mail?

I must not have got the memo or something.  Was it just me, or was everyone going 70% of the posted speed limit the last two days, whether it was raining or not?

Please, for the love of my sanity, people get out of the *passing* lane when you are going 35 in a 50 or 60 in a 70 or whatever.

Monday, April 1, 2013

So It Begins

So this is how I take over the world.  Appointment by bureaucrats in closed-door session.  Well, you don't have to do any fund-raisers this way so that's good, at least.

I have spared you the gory details, but I had a controversy with my Homeowners Association.  They decided that the place we've kept our trash can for a decade is so good they would fine us $100 if we kept using it.  I went to the next meeting to complain and ended up with a pinky-swear from the lady who drives around "inspecting" that she'll ignore my trash can going forward, and the President says he's willing to make case-by-case deals with other complainants.

Oh, and I was elected to be a member of the HOA board, I think.  Somebody was retiring and that would mean they didn't have enough to conduct business sometimes.  If I'd been on there a year earlier, and the ex-board member who also showed up to complain hadn't left, the rule would have been voted down.  Well, next time, the insanity will have at least one voice of reason against it. 

First the HOA board, then on to the White House?

Friday, March 29, 2013

English Ivy . . . It Stays

My Darling Wife and I put in (count 'em) FOUR new planted beds at the house this past weekend.  Two for flowers, two for "let's get this dirt covered with something" plants that tolerate the shade better than the "grass" we are supposed to have.

She picked out some English Ivy and set it up in a patch of ground by a brick wall.  First I worried for the wall.  Now I wish we had more brick on the house.  Turns out, an 8" layer of leaves and sticks is pretty spiffing insulation and it doesn't damage intact brick structures.  News to me: Ivy sticks to bricks and whatever else it can get vertical on - it doesn't stick IN mortar, it sticks TO mortar.  When you pull it down, the roots will remain stuck, but it doesn't damage a good brick wall.

So says a three-year study at Oxford, where they have a good reason to know if English Ivy will damage brick walls.

Just don't try to sell the idea to anyone in Washington or Oregon.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Smart Move, Austin!

The City Council in Austin is all about bringing business to downtown.  No, not your business.  They want the business of people who walk and ride bicycles around the city.  You can go [deleted] right off.  Otherwise, how do you explain the unanimous vote to reduce the number of parking spaces in the city?

Yes, reduce.  Because go ride a bike, that's why.  Or their billion dollar train nobody rides.  Or the bus with the bums and freaks.

It's like a reality show you watch to make you feel better, to pay attention to Austin politics.  Except it's real life, and it makes you feel better about your own city.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That!

I could have sworn I wrote about it before, but checking through the old posts, I didn't!  I guess I must have got my ranting and raving done at work or something.  Anyway, in case you missed it in in 2012 when the story was thoroughly NOT reported by the dysfunctional press corps in the USA, a study has been done.

Professor Regenerus, of the University of Texas at Austin got in some serious hot water with those who disagreed with the result of his for-serious scientific study.  He called it his New Family Structures Study and wrote an article about it, "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study" He found that if you grew up in a regular mom-and-dad home, you are way, WAY more likely to be a well-adjusted, non-drug-using, haven't-been-molested, identifies-as-heterosexual, non-multiple-sex-partner-having, stays-out-of-trouble-with-the-law type of person.  By a very wide margin, in some cases.

I, of course, being a racist/sexist/bigot/homophobe, was not surprised at these findings.  I went on and on about it at the time.  Just now I remembered to say something here because Borepatch linked to where Briggs reposted an article about the article about the study.  Thanks to Borepatch, Wm. Briggs, and especially Professor Mark Regenerus.

Beware the News Sources!

Compare these headlines:

DOT says Miles Driven increased 0.5% last month!!!zomG prosperity around the corner!

DOT says Miles Driven is still falling on a 7-year record of decline zOMG doomed, dOOmed!

You can't get your news from only one source - and you never could do - and get the whole picture.  Be careful out there, and remember: if the headline doesn't make sense, it might be misleading.

Just Don't Ask

There were some strange noises coming from across the room at work the other day.
???: (noises)
NP: What's going on over there?
VFD: Do you really want to know?
NP: That's a good point.
VFD: Generally speaking, consider what could be the worst-case answer.  If you don't want to know it was that, then don't ask.
This is why, when we greet each other, you ask me how I'm doing and I don't subsequently ask you.  I care.  I love you too, really I do.  But I don't want to hear about how your dog is dying of cancer and you have an infected hangnail, really I don't. 
P.S., my standard answer of "okay, tired and allergic" is 99% of the time the whole truth.  Say "Nice to see you" instead of a non-question, ok?  ok!

I've Started Painting

Here is my first still life painting! Please be honest with your criticism.  photo CDNTree_zpsd5673d7e.jpg
Well, maybe not so much. I was TRYING to get this tree photographed the other day as I left work second-to-last and the parking lot was empty. Turns out I left the camera on manual control and blew it all the way out. Overexposed FTL and then a little photomanipulation to erase the last car in the lot and the building, plus some surrounding vegetation. I like it, anyway.  Click the picture to see it larger, then right-click and View Image and hit the +magnifying glass to see it full-sized.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

. . . What a Wonderful Woild!

I see trees so green, a truck so white...

...and I think to my self . . .

"Gee, it's not as hazy out as it usually is!"   The only bad part about this scene is how the rising sun is trying to make the tree on the right into one big orange bloom in the lens.  Oh well.  The coincidence with the song is funny to me to post it up, anyway.

Keep It To Yourself!

Note to this guy and everybody like him: You don't want your nasty stanky smoke in your car, what makes you think I want it in my air? Roll up your window or stop smoking you nasty [deleted]!

 photo DontWant_zpsd72f88ef.jpg

And, to the guy in the nice new Mercedes in front of me on the way home: If you don't want your nasty butts in your ashtray, what makes you think I want them on my Texas?! Don't throw your trash on my ground, just  stop smoking already!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What's The Difference Between Snapshots and Photographs?

There is no difference*. Here is the difference.

A couple of days ago in my kitchen, this is what I saw when I went to go get breakfast at the crack of dawn. Notice: this looks pretty much exactly how it fell on my eyes, dim light and everything. I said to myself, "Oh, that's pretty..."

(click any photo to enlarge)
Automatic exposure, 50mm

Then I said, "But you know, if I just ..." and I started tweaking the setup and angles, and camera settings and such. Two minutes later, I came up with this:
 photo Flower1000x_zps87d4f4d4.jpg
Manual control, 50mm f/3.2 1/30sec handheld ISO400, white balance on "cloudy" 

*A snapshot is a photograph. But sometimes, when you take a little longer than is required for just a quick "snap," your photographs can come out much, much nicer.  These pictures came off the same camera with the same lens at the same time of day.  The only difference between them was operator activity.

For those so inclined (read: for me but I'll share if you want) here is a 1680x1050 pixel version, ready to be slapped up as a background image on your widescreen monitor. (click through to Photobucket to download)

 photo Flower1680x1050_zps14015e79.jpg
(One of the guys asked what kind of orchid this is.  It's some kind of Columbine.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Well, [deleted] You Too, Yahoo!

Yahoo! mail is trying to get kicked out of my life.  First they switch to a suck-ass new layout/template/format thing despite howls of protest from users - on one account.  The other two accounts I have with them - still on the old template.

Then on this one account, they started bugging me to give them a phone number.  Sure, right they pinky-swear they won't spam the phone.  No. 

Now, after I correctly enter my password, they come up with s security question.  The reason for added security?  I'm logging in from an unrecognized device.  You know, the same one I used the last time I checked my email with this account?  Yeah, that one.  They don't recognize it. 

So I put in the right answer three different ways because god-only knows what the answer was that I put back in 2007 or whatever.

Unsuccessful Login: Account Locked Temporarily.
This account is temporarily locked for 12 hours because of security concerns. Please try signing in later or contact online Yahoo! Customer Care for further assistance.
Aaaand the Customer "Care" form requires more information about the account holder.  F if I know.  I made that information up on the spot when I signed up for the free email account.  If they don't let me in in 12 hours, I'll just tell my one contact that uses this particular account, to use another account.
Gee, wouldn't it be convenient if they had a phoooone they could text me a code to unlock the account?
This is passive-aggressive and I won't have it.  I only like yahoo! because they're free and I got to pick my user names.  If they want to become a free pain in my ass, I'll just kick them out of my life like I did to AT&T. 

Bank Holiday Extended to Thursday. ATMs Empty.

Monday they closed the banks so the banks could transfer Cypriots' savings to the EU.

The bank holiday was extended to Tuesday, and then Wednesday on well-founded fears that the fractional reserve lending system in Cyprus would be immediately destroyed.

Surprising probably no-one, the bank holiday has been extended to Thursday, and the ATMs in Cyprus are all empty of cash.

Also not surprising, there are official denials that the same sort of direct theft from savings accounts is being considered for Spain as well, which should set the smart people in Spain to emptying their accounts and the dumb ones will possibly be hammered within a year.  Oh, and the bondholders for these countries will NOT be getting a haircut as long as the game of musical chairs continues.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

You Were Expecting Someone Else, Perhaps?

A crescent moon that shines on the bottom half of the orb is referred to in our house as "The Cheshire Cat" after the character in Disney's Alice in Wonderland.

Well I was outside the other day and he showed up again.  He almost faded out completely before I could get a picture:
Click to enlarge 
The trees, telephone wires, and moon were left as they came off the camera.  The cat, you may guess, was a photomanipulation.  I particularly liked how his hand and feet lined up with local scenery just right.

Historical Fulcrum?

News out of Europe may be . . . interesting next week.  A "bailout" deal for Cyprus was approved.  It did not kill the speculative investors, and it only changes things by a few billions of Euros.  The interesting part is that they

taxed all Cypriot bank deposits at 10%

Yes, you lose 10% for keeping your money in a bank in Cyprus this week.  Because fuck you.

Expect bank runs if they let the banks re-open.  A bank holiday was declared until Tuesday and will possibly be extended indefinitely.  Cypriots with savings and a lick of sense will be emptying their bank accounts immediately.  Spaniards, Italians, and Greeks, Irish, Portuguese and probably French depositors had better get their money out while it is still available, and many of them will. European banks are bankrupt as it is but it is very hard to kick the can down the road when you suddenly have a NEGATIVE accounts balance!

So.  Look for either some fairly disastrous-sounding news out of Europe this week, or look for a scandal of any degree (none to huge) to be widely reported by the corrupt press in the USA to try to keep the Dow Jones average in record territory until (at least) 2014.

This is one of those rare times it actually DOES pay to be cash-poor.  Ouch.

P.S. for those who don't already know?  Michael Shedlock is about the only current economic analyst who consistently gets it right.  MSNBC is not the place to get economic news.  Mish is.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

This is Why You Spend $1500 on A Lens

My dad came by with his new tool.  He just got a Canon EF 300mm f/4L IS USM AF Telepohoto lens to go with his spiffing Canon DSLR.  It produces pretty cracking results

Here's a shot at 18mm showing what I saw all the way across the house where attended a party today.  The red arrow is pointing to a water bottle. Don't bother clicking to enlarge this one; you can't see the bottle at all at 18mm focal length.
This is the entire frame captured through the fancy-dancy 300mm.
Nothing new, right?  I mean, after all it is 300mm.  Of course it's zoomed in very close.  Your point-and-click can get you this frame.  But the $1300 difference between your camera and this lens (which rides on another $1000+ camera) is the details.  Go ahead and click this one to see it full size.  This is a 100% crop from the above zoomed-in shot.
That right there is crazy.  Most cameras can't even make a shot this crisp by getting right up on it in Macro mode, and this thing did it handheld with a flash all the way across a house!  This is about as detailed as my testing got, and it really wowed me.  If you shoot sports or flowers or whatever, this would be a really great addition to your (increasingly heavy) camera bag.

Because It's Pretty

Click to enlarge
Right click, choose View Image
Click the image when the + magnifying glass shows up

Fast New Glass!

When I started selling stuff to pay for my "new" camera, I found out it's not too hard.  I said "the next extra hundred dollars I have, I'm going to get myself one of these!" 

That was a year and change, and lots of groceries, eating-outs, and various bills later.  I went through a few thousand dollars and didn't get my lens.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I found an eBay seller with a pile of these refurbished by Nikon for just under $100 each.  My Darling Wife said "You really want it. Just get it."


...I did.  Thanks Jesus, I love it.  As BR said, "That's really, really fast!"  Indeed.  But the speed is only half the reason it's great.  The other half is that it meters exposure and autofocuses on my camera (unlike my red-headed stepchild lens).  The other, other half is that it's pretty sharp without trying hard at all.  Click the camera-shy dog to enlarge, then right-click and View Image, and hit the Plus magnifying glass.

The speed is a little hard to explain.  In conditions that well and truly NEED a flash with a kit lens, this thing just goes ahead and makes natural-color pictures without the flash.  It's magic.  If you have a Nikon and a hundred dollars, get one.


If you have a Nikon without a focusing motor in the body, or if you just gotta have instant manual focus override without turning a switch, get one of these instead, for an extra $100.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Have You Ever . . .

Have you ever been so not-awake as you walked around that blinking your eyes caused an auditory sensation?  Right after the bad part of a bad dream last night my Darling Wife woke me up and told me she thought one of the kids was crying.  I got up and walked to their room, and listened by the door.  Silence.  I went in and found only solid-sleepers.
On the way to their room, when I blinked as I was walking,there was a fuzzy noise with each blinking of my eyelids, I kid you not.  The noise I heard as I walked back to the Master Suite was an airplane.  An airplane with a strange engine noise that sounded like a child crying.

WHY Do People...

I sell stuff on eBay for walking-around money.  I sold three things in the last couple of weeks, worth around $400 total.  NONE of those winning bidders has paid.

  • You bid on an auction and click a dialog agreeing that this is a commitment to pay
  • You get an e-mail telling you you have won
  • You even got an invoice from the seller
  • And you don't pay?  


Monday, March 11, 2013

Piss In The Wind, Go Ahead

The system is broken.  Badly broken, and beyond repair.  I repeat my hunch that our society is headed for breakup in a big way.  The news I got today was just another reminder.

There's a video on Youtube showing people voting multiple times.  No, not average citizens casting a half-dozen election year vote-fraud votes.  These were legislators, casting ballots for other legislators who were absent at the time of the vote, making the laws that you and I live by.  In one case, a legislator who was PRESENT had someone else cast a vote for him . . . while he was casting a vote for someone else!

Nota bene: It was against their OWN rules they made for themselves for legislators to vote for each other on the voting machines.  This video shows them doing it.  No, it shows ALL of them doing it.  Either they do it or they let it happen.  The Speaker of the House was supposed to be punishing this sort of thing but it didn't happen.  The Speaker is supposed to make sure the rules are followed, but look how concerned they all are.

An extra kick in the stones is that you didn't hear about a wave of prosecutions after this video came out FOUR YEARS ago.  One more kick for those of us from Texas, because it's happening here.


Legislators jogging around to beat each other to empty desks to push buttons.
TWO examples of fat guys pushing their own button, then the button on the desk next door, then the on a desk behind, and then a fourth button on the desk behind/next door!.


Then either complain to the Speaker, or shut the hell up and watch our society fall apart.  I'm guessing the result is the same.  This was in 2008.  Who wants to bet there's a rule for ALL the legislatures in Texas forbidding this apparently-very-common multiple fraudulent voting activity?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A New Personal Record

This was the largest thing I ever erected, and it took longer than I have worked on anything since I converted the Hot Rod to a manual transaxle.  My Darling Wife and I put up a shed in the back yard today.  Well, yesterday and into the wee hours of today.  The shed is just a hair smaller than my room at my Dad's house when I was in high school.  It is about 200lbs of stamped sheet steel, and maybe that much again in lumber under the shed for a foundation.  Three trips to the store, total (one to buy it last week, two today for "hey I also need...") and we probably put 25 man-hours on it, total, and that's not counting the "help" from two- and four-year-old sons. 

The forecast was wind and rain.  I prayed and the rain held off until the roof was finished.  The wind was more of a breeze.  The really heavy rain held off until the doors were leaned up in place to keep it out.  Now at 01:00 the next day it's done except for the interior flooring, and my toenails hurt (?!) and it's bed time.  Thanks Jesus everyone is okay, #1 did a good job watching the rest of the Zoo, and DW and I only got a minor nick each on one hand.  If I hadn't worn gloves, the day would have been over almost before it started due to a trip to the emergency room, because one glove took a nasty gash to the palm.


Nobody Can Paint A Sky Like God

These are 1680x1050 pixels, for use as desktop backgrounds on increasingly-common 20-24" wide LCD displays (like mine).  Click to embiggen, before deciding not to try them out!  Right-click the bigger image that comes up and tell it "view image" then click the magnifying glass to see the detail in the trees (which Blogger blurs).

I took these locally last night. "Then I think to my self . . . what a wonderfuuuul woooorld."  Credits to our Lord, who does a pastel wash like nobody.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sweet Grille Bro

AusTex was working a wreck as I was on my morning commute.  This was taken from the sidewalk with no worry of a car spoiling the shot as all SIX lanes of Braker were shut down.  The perspective is great; it looks like you're about to be run over!  I love the way I got stars off both headlamps.  Click the picture to embiggen!

I guess I ought to list out the gory details from now on if I'm going to be posting pictures eh.
Nikon D70 18-70mm@25mm, f/6.3 1/160th sec. ISO200

VFD, First On The Scene!

Apparently I *barely* missed being tied up in traffic stopped for a mile this morning . . . so I went back and spent several minutes looking at the mess and taking pictures.
This was the scene at Braker and Parkfield in Austin earlier today.  Trust me when I tell you that by the time I had arrived (maybe 5 minutes after I decided to turn around) the line of cars was at least over the hill, probably all the way back to Lamar.
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A tanker truck driver missed his turn by a foot or two, and damaged his trailer as well as a utility pole.
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The pole was well and truly embedded in the side of the tanker trailer
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The trailer took heavy damage and appears to have only stopped when it hit the tank-supporting structure near the rear wheels of the trailer.  A hose on the side of the trailer was ripped in pieces, and the ladder was destroyed.  The dank obviously was badly dented/crushed where it touched the pole
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This is usually a nice suburban neighborhood street.  Nothing much happens, till all traffic on a the busy thoroughfare is stopped by a random crazy situation.
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Braker is full of cars in the morning.  This morning it was full of stopped cars as the Austin Police Department stopped traffic in both directions so AusTex Towing & Recovery could safely get this tanker disentagled from the pole.
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The wrecker lifted the rear wheels of the trailer, and pulled the trailer away from the pole as a driver in the blue tractor slowly drove backwards onto Braker
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Blue police lights are reflected in the waves of crumpled steel in the side of the trailer. 
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Austin Energy was out in force.  Here their linemen are examining the pole struck by the truck.  It had a significant amount of wood rubbed off by the truck, here seen as long strips of wood laying around the base of the pole.  The pole was shivered all the way through, and will have to be replaced as soon as practicable.
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My favorite shot of the morning is the beautiful front-end of the AusTex rig.  I like the way both headlights got stars, and the perspective is really great.  For this shot, I knelt down low on the sidewalk as the truck was stationary.  Don't forget: you can see these images bigger by clicking on them.
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Hiring divers?  Looks like maybe one needed a little more training, unfortunately.
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Something you don't see every day: The Austin Fire/Rescue Special Operations truck rolled out.
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Cleaning this whole mess off of Braker took about 15 minutes after AusTex arrived and pulled out into the street.  Not too shabby, actually.  The driver of the truck

A Mistake You Can Only Make Once . . . ?

So North Korea is talking big talk about how they are going to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US of A.  Excuse me while I tremble in my boots.  Even if they did manage to make a working nuclear bomb (which is not entirely a certainty), and even if they managed to decapitate our entire government by delivering it at the State of the Union address, I am pretty sure our military would know just perzactly whose ass to kick, and they would go about kicking it quite soundly.

On the other hand, if they only managed to get a dirty bomb to damage San Francisco's harbor a little bit, I wonder if the current set of limp wrists in Washington would have the stones to respond with force.

That we even have to ponder this threat makes me think we have been far too lenient with the NorKs to date.  We'll see what (if anything) happens next.  I don't think they'll be able to goad us into a shooting war, but it seems like they might be trying.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frosty the Photo Bomber

A little known fact about Frosty the Snowman (and snowmen in general) is that he is starved for attention. Think about it: you build them and forget about 'em. Well, he somehow made it into my photography studio last week and we had a blast. He's a real cut-up, this one. The first I saw of him was a well-played photobomb.

He seemed friendly enough so the cameras and I let him hang out with us for a while. He even managed to get in a pretty convincing duckface once or twice.

Oh frosty, you silly goose!

...then, of course, he melted under the hot studio lighting. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. I just wish he'd had the courtesy to melt onto a paper towel at least....

Beware the Student Driver?

They just opened a new State office a few miles from my house.  This place is just for Drivers Licenses, and it's pretty big.  This is to supplement the REALLY big place they have in the Godless City to our immediate South. As we were driving home from church today, I made an amusing/alarming observation about this place.

Scattered around the region of Central Texas are various creeks and drainage ditches.  Where they cross under or pass near a road, there will be a steel roadside barrier, like so:

 These are usually a few dozen feet long, sometimes a hundred or more yards long.

Today, I noticed a damaged guard rail as we were driving along.  Then another one.  Then the drivers license office.  Then we turned the corner and went around a different side of the block where there is this new drivers license office.  And there was another dinged guard rail.

The area in question, thanks to Google Maps.  The red lines are the locations of the rails nearest the DL office.

All three of the guardrails closest to the Drivers License office where they give driving tests, are dented.  My wife and I LOL'd and I advised her to avoid the area during weekdays during normal business hours.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


A 16 year-old girl in Texas has won her lawsuit.  Against her parents.  

They were pressuring her to have an abortion and she wanted the child to live.  The discussion locally seems to be what responsibility the grandparents-to-be must incur.  My question is, "Why is this a question?"  The parents countersue if necessary, but they should tell the girl, "you put that baby up for adoption and never see it, or you can get a damn job and you and your 17 year-old STUD can support YOUR baby.  If you neglect or can't support it, we'll call CPS and you'll lose it like you should have in the first place."
How hard was that?


Yes, I am a stone-hearted bastard.  I know.  Cry me a river about familial attachments.  Those parents obviously failed somewhere along the line, but it is not their financial responsibility to support their grandchild.  Their child, yes, for another year or two. 

Children (in America these days) are not emotionally prepared to care for their own children, and the law forbids them from having enough hours at a job to support children financially.  Therefore, children should not be allowed to be "parents" to a baby of their own.  The grandparents have a moral responsibility to care for their own children, and to advise them as to what is the most responsible course of action in any case. 

By far and away it is much, much better for a baby to live with a married couple who are financially able to spare enough money to pay all the birth-mother's medical bills as well as responsible enough to jump through all the hoops required to do a private adoption.  There is exactly NO benefit to the young mother to even so much as see her baby after it is delivered.  Any attachment, any 'open' relationship, is only going to cause hurt and confusion.  A clean break is best.  Cut the cord, mark up the Apgars, and hand the baby off to its new family.  Done and done.

If the child insists on keeping the child and rearing it as her own, it is her own.  She wants to be an adult, she can go out and hustle up enough money to make it happen, and demand her stud do likewise.  That puts THREE young people on a path toward near-certain poverty and an early divorce, with the attendant broken family for a child who did nothing to deserve the suffering in its future.  A truly responsible grandparent will, when they see their baby relative living in sub-standard conditions, keep a sharp eye out for any *legal* excuse to remove the child from the care of its so-called parents.  If they can get a good solid CPS report in when the child is under two years old, the odds for a fast adoption go way, way up, and the baby would never rememeber its birth family at all.

Yes, it means deep emotional suffering for the young mother.  That is to be expected.  Some things can't be fixed - normal emotions included.

What, that's not cold enough?  How about she should have kept 'em crossed and this whole mess wouldn't have ever happened.  How about attaching studboy's wages for the next 18 years, to be paid to the State child support system (because he's probably inclined to disappear as soon as possible).

Yet Another Irritation. Thanks, Microsoft.

VirtualStore is a pain in my tuchus.  If you don't know what this is, count yourself fortunate.  I'll save you the gory details, but Microsoft screwed yet ANOTHER class of users by making Virtualstore active by default -with a flawed implementation- in Windows 7.  Thanks, jerks.

At least it isn't costing me money.  Unlike this guy, who brightened my day by taking some extra time to give quality answers to the trolls an lusers who can't understand.


So Austin is looking to match San Francisco's increase in emergency hospitalizations for food poisoning by banning single-use bags at all stores.  They clutter up the streets and fill up landfills, you see.  Reusable ones are better for the environment, better for hospitals, and better for wage slaves in China.

So everybody is going to stop using plastic bags then.  Great.

Except for the largest retail grocery chain in town.  H.E.B. is exempt.  Them plus Walmart and you're probably at the 80th percentile for all the single-use bags given out by stores in Austin. 

Way to be, Austin.  You suck.  Bonus points if you follow the example set by the Obama administration with obamacare and go around issuing waivers even though there is no provision for them in the law.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Here There Be Dragons

It looks like you don't want to be here.  I thought "dragon tail"

In reality . . . close enough.  You still don't want to be here.  My guess is these two were at least 8, maybe 10 feet long.

As I was saying...

A Few Shots From the Zoo

We went to the zoo a couple of days ago, and a few of the pictures came out extra-well.  Click any of them to see them larger; I think it's worth the effort.

This is my good side:
BLACKbird?  Who you calling BLACK?
If you must know, I am hunting.  Now shut up, you're scaring the prey!
Security: It's for the birds!  I bet you didn't know they establish a perimeter before setting up camp.