Democracy: None for Me.

Yesterday, my Darling Wife and I were trying to have a nap, and #3 and #4 were succeeding in having their naps.  #1 and #2 were watching a movie and generally staying quiet.  Then there was a knock at the door.  Fortunately it was a soft knock, because the Zoo goes off like an end-of-the-world barking alarm for most callers at the door.

I threw some pants on and went to the door, shoo’ing the older children back from my glidepath.  As I came to the door, I saw it was some dumpy hausfrau with a prepubescent child in tow, wearing political-season colors with signs on their shirts endorsing some local school board candidate.  I don’t have kids in this district.  I don’t know who you are endorsing, and I don’t care.  I also don’t want to waste either of our time explaining none-of-your-business to this woman. I want to sleep.

I unbolted the door, opened it a few inches, and she started in on her sales pitch.  Without so much as a howdy-do, I said “Go away” and shut and re-bolted the door, turned around and went back to bed.


I am very encouraging of people who believe in their chosen candidates enough to go pound sand and knock doors for them.  I really wish more people would do it.  Just remember: not everybody wants to hear your spiel, including the guy who keeps telling you to go out there and spin it!

The Devil Made Me Do IT

There was a time when merely saying “The Devil!” in polite company would cause the ladies to swoon.  That was a long, long time ago.
Today I took Bad Robot in to the shop because I suspected a bad CV driveshaft bearing.  It turned out to be a bad hub bearing, and oh by the way also the other hub bearing was bad.  This was not entirely unexpected, but what happened come time to pay the piper WAS.  I had brought $150 worth of parts for them to use.  They diagnosed, then they worked on it a couple of hours and tossed in another $150 worth of parts – so I was expecting to walk out a few hunner’t dollars lighter than when I walked in.

Mechanic: Will that be cash, check, or charge?
VFD: Charge it.  What’s the charge?
Mechanic: $1,232.
VFD: Hooooooly [deleted]!
Mechanic: $399
VFD: (whips out the plastic)

I haven’t had somebody yank a profanity out of me in a few years.  This well-humored troll of a mechanic caught me flat-footed and earned it.

Well sir, good played!

Does That Make Me A Horrible Person?

I heard that the bombs went off near a section of the spectator area that was set up special for the families of the victims in Newtown, and I laughed out loud.  Hard.  My initial thought was ‘that’ll show ’em for dancing in the blood of their own children’

Sure, they’re dancing in the blood of their own children.  Yes, they are making themselves political footballs.  Yes President Obama is using them, and using them badly.  But no, I don’t think we should laugh at them.

. . . at least, not the ones that got blowed up. 😦

Why Can’t We Just Have A Murder?

There is a great deal of speculation out there about the motives and identity of the Boston bomber.

  • Some people want it to be a white American so their illegal alien amnesty agenda can still be forced down your throat
  • Some want it to be an illegal alien so we can ban them harder
  • Some want it to be a muslim so we can ban THEM harder
  • Some want it to be a tax protester seeing it was Tax Day
  • Some want it to be a rightwing nutjob so we can officially call them Terrorists
  • Some want it to be a leftwing nutjob so we can ask the President about his buddy Bill Ayers.
  • Some want it to be an Obama brownshirt so we can prove he’s trying to scare us into giving him full power
  • Some even want it to be a muslim outraged by the Family Guy cartoon to the extent they did what the cartoon says they do, so we can limit free ‘speech’ on cartoons!

Me?  I want it to be a mixed-breed suburbanite kid who was forced to take Ritalin and other brain-altering drugs the whole time his brain was being formed so the little wanker would sit down and shut up while the preferred sex was trying to learn.

But why does it have to be terrorism?  We can (well, should) all recall at least a couple of instances of mass murder that seemed to have no motive besides the sheer hell of it.

Currently, we don’t know who blew up the spectators at the Marathon, or why.  All we have is rampant speculation and people trying to make political gains from the blood of innocent Bostonians.  It COULD just be plain murder most foul!  I propose therefore that we all do what we can to avoid pointing the finger of blame just yet.

It may be prudent to step up security measures at public places, but you can’t stop this.  With the right explosive, a device the size of a pack of cards can do WAY more damage than these bombs did.  A small high explosive INSIDE the trash can, deposited by an anonymous one-of-millions passerby impossible to catch on tape, could take down the front of the building and leave the whole sidewalk a crater.  The photo I saw was of a building front largely intact and trees and trash can still standing. . .

I know in America we’re not used to this sort of thing, but really we should all be thanking Jesus it was not much, much worse.

At work I am always on the hunt for an upgrade.  My latest upgrade is for one of the more-fun parts of my job: photograhy!

Warning: photography equipment geek post follows.  Click images to see them bigger at

Specifically, I got a new macro lens the other day.  No, not one to go on the mellow cam, although that would definitely be the preferred type.  This one is rather incompatible with my big ol’ Nikon SLR.  Rather.
 photo newzoomlens_zps0fe0ea26.jpg

That’s it.  This little Lumix came through the other day as a piece of trash somebody was getting rid of with a pile of old electronics.  I snagged it and . . . fount it wouldn’t turn on.  So being perhaps more determined that was totally called for, I took apart the battery* and charged it up, put it in the camera, and . . . it would not extend the lens.  I had nothing to lose, so I pulled on the lens with a fingernail and it extended!  And then got stuck again!  A few times cycling it in and out seems to have cleared the malfunction (dirt?) and now it works**.

The quality of the image out of this thing under my shooting lights in Macro mode*** is acceptable, so I think I’ll keep it.  My previous best macro lens is only usable in the center of the frame due to horrendous distortion around the edges.  The more lens I mostly use for a quick close-up is the 35mm I always shoot, with close-up lenses screwed in the filter threads.  It’s not great, but it works and gets decently close.

Here we have some close crops and the view from the whole frame from:

  • Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 with no filters.  This lens is ridiculously sharp for $200 but for a small subject you have to really abuse the image in processing to get a close-up.
  • Nikkor 35mm with 4d close-up filter.  This is an acceptable result for web publishing, which is why I use it.  Note the lack of detail on the left edge of the crop, and the over-sharpened look of the whole thing.
  • Nikkor 35mm with 2d close-up lens screwed into the 4d lens.  This gets a little closer, but there starts to be too much glass in front of the lens to preserve clarity. Maybe a lens hood would help, but that gets pulled off to fit the close-up lenses . . .
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS15 in Macro mode at minimum object distance.  This is obviously much closer, and with more pixels in the frame a crop has a better chance of being sharp.  Notice the lack of over-sharpening noise and the presence of detail on the left edge of the ruler in the crop.  I’ll take that.

 photo zoomcrops_zpscbe956aa.jpg

The color, obviously, is insane, but that’s what Photoshop is for.  Until they decide to spring for a decent macro lens (LOL right that’s going to happen) I think this will do.


*never, ever, but NEVER disassemble a battery!  I am literally a trained professional.  Bad Things that could happen include minor personal injury, including puncture and cut type wounds, as well as burns and shrapnel wounds.  Lithium chemistry batteries have this fun failure mode that does a good imitation of an explosion.  They also have a nasty thing they do where they catch fire at random times after they have been badly treated, with zero warning.  Seriously: do NOT take apart batteries.

**I can deal with crunchy sounds from the lens and occasional memory card errors on a perfectly-good memory card.  Heck, if it dies, I’m out $0 anyway so why not use it

***Full camera review: In regular camera mode, this thing is mediocre at best.  In dim light in intelligent auto mode, forget about it, the thing sucks.  But in macro mode, under bright lights, in trained hands, you can get a decent close-up.

Old Photos . . . Not so Great

So I’ve started using instead of as of April 2013.  Older posts in the Photos Category may display images at low resolution.

Lately I had been getting lazy and just uploading photos to Blogger directly, instead of linking from my Photobucket account.  It looks like WordPress only imported a small version of those photos.  While it’s better than nothing by quite a long shot, if you think there should be a larger version of a photo available, you might want to go to to look for the original post with full sized images available.

Sorry about that.

Well, This Explains A Lot

The lady in charge of punishing the very worst of the DWI offenders in Travis County has just been arrested for and pleads guilty to Driving While Intoxicated.  She says she made a mistake.  Some people say she’s committed attempted murder and hope she gets jail time.  She said she had a hard week at work.  An alcoholic who called the local talk show said “I’m an alcoholic, and” went on to say that ‘a rough day’ is a very common excuse alcoholics make to themselves.  I note that I have never drunk wine at a movie screening, and I have never driven around with an open bottle of vodka in the front seat of my car.  You know who drinks wine at the movies and then vodka in the car?  Alcoholics.  She said this is the first time she was ever arrested for anything, which is well and good…but I say the first time you get arrested for drunk driving is merely the first time you got caught drunk driving.

Travis has long had a reputation for being much less harsh on drunk drivers than next-door Williamson County.  This seems to be quite a peek behind the curtain, and now we may have found out why.  She seemed surprised during an interview that some people would think she should step down.  I can’t find a transcript of the interview just now, but I heard her say something about we don’t like it but sometimes attorneys get caught drunk driving, and it didn’t seem to bother her too much.  She said she was glad nobody got hurt, and she was sorry, but to me her voice sounded like a bunch of crocodile tears.

I hope that, if she (being a typical Democrat?) chooses to not resign after shaming herself and compromising her ability to serve in her office, the thing I heard just now on the radio news is true.  It may be the case there is a very old, little-used provision in State law where a single citizen can start the process of removing a District Attorney for being drunken.  In fact, I’d bet good money on that process at least being attempted if she doesn’t resign.  I might just do it my damself.