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.

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.

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.

. . . 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!

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)
 photo FlowerBefore1000x_zps6a90f844.jpg
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 1680×1050 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.)

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.