Prepare to enter a world of both shadow and substance

Take a journey of body, mind and spirit where you'll encounter things you won't find anywhere else.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You Can Fix The Healthcare Crisis Yourself

I just had to relate this incident because it made me so mad! Yesterday, I saw a liberal blog where they were proud to announce the fact that, by getting 75,000 people to sign a petition, they were able to get GEICO insurance company to pull their sponsorship from the Glenn Beck program on the FOX News channel. This is so ridiculous! I have GEICO insurance and immediately wrote to them to see if it was true. Because if it is, I'm going to drop buying my insurance from them because of it! What kind of company can you be that will kowtow and bow to the wishes of so few of a number of people as that? Which brings me to the other reason I'm posting this. So many people are saying that what Obama promises in his Universal Health Care Plan will be good for America. Well, I don't think so. But, that doesn't matter. And it doesn't matter what anybody thinks about what his plan is or isn't about. Just like the liberals who got GEICO to drop their sponsorship of a tv program, we Americans have that same power to fix the health care crisis ourselves! That's you and me, people.

Yes, you and I can make a difference and fix the crisis! Most people complain about the bad things insurance companies are doing and maybe rightly so. The simple solution, of which we need no "bountiful help on high from the government or Obama," is to simply let our money do our talking. Protest the insurance companies with bad policies and get insurance from those with policies you like. The liberals swear that this is a very effective tactic to use.

If you think that all insurance companies are bad and you can't do what I suggest, you're probably right. There just isn't a fix for the health care crisis. But, that includes Barack Obama's proposed solution also. It will prove to be just as ineffective because you can't fix the problem. America has the best health care system in the world and Obama wants to bring it down to the level of the rest of the world. You have to ask yourself why he's doing this and things like this?

It's certainly not for the good of America or the American people. What are you going to do about this problem?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Beatlemania 09-09-09

Well, today as you know, was the day that Apple Records were due to release the entire Beatles album catalogue in glorious remastered sound. And of course, I had to attend the festivities. (i.e., buy some albums!) Just yesterday I sent off about $200 for a new scanner, which I've needed for a while now, so my finances were a little short. But I did have enough to buy my two favorite albums, The Beatles first one and their last one. I speak of course about Please Please Me and Abbey Road. Please Please Me was their first album, which they recorded in a day and Abbey Road was the last album they recorded together. Apple was also releasing the new Beatles Rock Band game, which I'm not really interested in. I'm already in a real rock and roll band, you see!

The first thing that greeted me upon entering into the store was.... The Beatles themselves! It was great to see them again, even if it was only in a poster advertising their new game.

Back in the record department, (cd department?) I saw plenty of the Rock Band game boxes lining the shelves, such as the one above. I've seen clips of it, so if you're into that kind of thing, it looks like it will be the best experience yet.

Moving on to more important things, (at least to me, anyway!) were the actual audio recordings of The Beatles, what in my younger days used to be called "albums." This particular store devoted an entire end cap to display their remastered albums and you could find all of them but two. The White Album, which is a double album and The Past Masters, Volumes 1 and 2 which is now also a double album, were back on the shelf, along with some copies of "1," their greatest hits collection. I knew how much they were and how much I had to spend, so I had selected the two I would be able to afford before I even left the house. I oogled at the display, (a lot!), got some pictures so I could blog about the experience, and then selected my two albums. I paid for them in the electronics department and then I was on my way.

Outside in the parking lot, I couldn't resist taking a picture of the two latest additions to my Beatles Record Collection. I have all of their original albums, sometimes in almost every format they were released, and even the cd copies of the albums that were released in 1987. After I got my pictures of the new albums, I hurried back home so I could listen to them. Starting with their first release, (naturally!), I was amazed at how clear everything sounded! Especially their voices! Let me just say that these new discs are worth every penny, so now is the time to get those Beatles songs you always meant to get! (If you don't already own some of the older ones!) As I type this, I am preparing to be assaulted by the sound experience that will be Abbey Road in all it's remastered glory, so I'll just say goodbye for now. You say hello, but I say goodbye. (To listen to more music!) Remember.... all you really need is love!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Les Paul, 1915-2009

Les Paul died yesterday. In case you don't recognize the name, Les Paul invented the guitar that bears his name, the Les Paul guitar, by Gibson. Les perfected the design that would allow guitars to be amplified without the need for a hollow body to bring out the volume. Be creating a solid-body guitar, gone was the ring and distortion created from trying to amplify an acoustic guitar in live situations, such as concerts. Had he only done this his name would be remembered. But he also perfected sound-on-sound recording techniques, which let to multi-track recording. Something that allowed groups such as The Beatles to flourish in the 1960's and onward. I always respected Les Paul as a guitarist himself and would have to say that the Les Paul guitar is my favorite type of guitar. I've played many of them throughout the years in bands I have been in. My condolences go out to his family at this time of his passing. His memory will live on thanks to his contributions to the field of music. Below you can see an example of my favorite choice of guitar in this group shot of a band I was in:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Isaac Asimov

One of my favorite writers is Isaac Asimov, who wrote the Foundation Trilogy and about 600 or so other books. He was a very prolific author and had a unique grasp on the science fiction field. A common theme for some of his characters, in several different books, is that these people believed in this one statement: "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." I'm sure you know what that means. Another phrase I like, personally, goes like this: "The pen is mightier than the sword." Now, I know you know what that means. I firmly believe that the written, and spoken word to a certain extent, is far more effective than anything else. More effective than the "sword" or "violence" specifically. Change can come about through peaceful exchange of words much more effectively than using any other method. So, people - let's keep it peaceful and fight for our America in the only way that will actually do any good - through peaceful, orderly discourse. We're not all a bunch of "wing-nuts" like the liberals believe us to be.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Let's say that you and I are on vacation, taking a cruise ship to Acapulco. I happen to find out that the ship is sinking and you don't know about it. Naturally, I want to try and help you, as I would want to help anyone else who could potentially drown if the ship goes down. I find you and tell you to put on a lifejacket because the ship is sinking.

Okay, what did I just do that was wrong?

If you happen to be an elitest, you would call that "fear-mongering."

If you have to ask what an elitest is, you're not one of them. That's just their newest game. Make up bad names for everybody else, so that they will look good themselves. They like to think of themselves as the only truly normal, rational Americans. They like to tag everybody and everything that's different than what they do as being bad. If it isn't a part of their channeled thinking of how life is supposed to be lived, then they label it with a bad name and by the very repeating of these names, others will automatically think like they do or risk being branded a "fear-mongerer" themselves! And that the people on the other side of the spectrum to these elitists are all rightwing extremists and bad for America. They lump everybody else who isn't trying to be one of the "beautiful people" as "nutjobs," "fear-mongerers," "un-democratic" or just plain stupid. That would be you and I they're calling those names.

So, by pointing out obvious truths, (at least if you haven't got your head up your butt), about what Obama and his people are doing to bring down this once-great country of ours, that does not make me a "fear-mongerer." And it doesn't make anybody else one, either.

Since when did the United States government have the right to dictate the hiring and firing of CEO's?
Since when could the United States government take over huge corporations such as General Motors and Chrysler?
Since when did the United States government need to convince the American people that a new health care bill would be good for us? They never felt the need to convince us of anything before - they just passed it, whether we wanted it or not. So, what is behind all the propaganda and lies and disinformation about the new Universal Health Care Plan?

Cap and Trade is un-American.

We are losing jobs at an alarming rate. What is being done about it? If anyone can tell me, don't hesitate and post it in a comment.

If you think Obama cares about America, where do you get this information from? Please show me the proof of it. When a country's government takes over it's industries and infra-structure, this is called, by the very definition of the word, Socialism.

The United States of America was founded as a free country. It was never meant to be a Socialistic country. If you are reading this, there are things that you specifically cannot do now that you could do before. Don't believe me? I could name many:
You don't have the freedom to get in your car and go somewhere without the threat of being stopped by the law. Why, the simple act of leaving your driveway involves potentially breaking a thousand laws! Do you consider that freedom or safety? If you were so worried about safety, I would have heard you talking about it before, you elitists, but you never said a word. So, I don't want to hear anything you've got to say about it now, either. You gave up your rights to speak by crawling in to bed with them who are bringing down our country. It's just another instance where they took away one of your freedoms.
You can't buy a battery for your Minolta SRT-101 camera. They use Mercury batteries and the United States Government has deemed that the use of Mercury is hazardous to your health and the planet. But yet.... they are forcing us to change our lights to the new flourescent "corkscrew" type of bulbs. Guess what? They have Mercury in them. Well, I guess they're not concerned about our health after all. Do you seriously believe they care about our health and welfare? Seriously!?
I am a veteran of the U.S. Army. Other people who have served this country in the same manner have fought and died for our freedoms. You can't smoke in an American Legion or a Veteran Of Foreign Wars club. Why is that? That's what those people died for, so that we would have the freedom to do things such as this. You say it's a health issue? If the United States Government was really concerned about our health and well-being, don't you think they would stop the biggest pollutants to our lungs? Well, yes.... if they really cared about us. But they don't. You ask, what am I talking about? Petroleum-engined automobiles spew out much more pollution that is harmful for humans than smoking cigarettes will ever do. Would you rather be locked in a garage with a smoker or a running automobile for 24 hours? You see the difference. The United States government has deemed that smoking is hazardous to our health. But, collecting tax money on cigarettes is a pretty all right thing to do. If cigarettes were truly so bad and evil and hazardous, they would outlaw them. That is, if they were really concerned about our health.

Wake up, America, before it's too late and all your freedoms are gone. Do you really want to live in a world ruled by elitists whose only care is about themselves? Your lives mean nothing to them. If they mean something to you, stand up for your freedoms. Inform yourself and speak out. And for God's, and all our sakes, stop Obama from passing any more ridiculous laws that ruin our country. Tell him no, we don't want his idea of a health care utopia.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

High Dynamic Range

I've just discovered a new form of photography and I have to share it with everyone. I'd been seeing and hearing about something called "HDR" all over photo sites I visit and finally looked into just what it stands for. It stands for High Dynamic Range and it refers to a technique that brings out all the detail in a picture, the detail all over the picture, and in an evenly balanced way. It's amazing, actually!
The picture just below employs this technique and involves using software that has HDR capabilities:

This is the street where I live in Norris City. By combining three differently exposed images of the same exact scene, the HDR software, which in this case is Adobe Photoshop CS2, combines the three images and choosed the best exposure settings for each specific spot in the picture. It lightens up the darkest areas and tones down the sky, which almost always has blown highlights in the lightest of places, and melds them together in such a way that everything looks perfectly exposed. I don't know how it does, but it does.
I also found out that there is a similar process that results in finished images looking the same way, but you start with only one original image. It's called Tone Mapping. Say you have one good exposure of something and want to improve different areas of it. You can take that one photo in your photo-editing software and make 3 different exposures which bring out the darkest, medium and lightest areas to best effect. By then combining them back together using the HDR software, you still get an image with loads of detail in all areas. The picture below was one I was pretty happy with as far as the exposure settings went:

And here is that same picture - which I thought had lost some detail in the darkest and most washed out places - after being subjected to the Tone Mapping process using the HDR software:

Pretty neat, huh?

Here are some of my other pictures I have Tone Mapped and you just wouldn't believe the improvement over the original digital file!

All in all, I'd say if you haven't tried this process yet, you need to look into it. The difference it can make in what you thought was an old, lifeless image can be startling!

Corporate Greed

Has this ever happened to you? One day, you'll be doing something with your computer on the internet and everything works fine. And then, the very next day, what was simple and easy to do yesterday, no longer works for you today. Don't you get tired of this? My computer is only a month old, so it's got the latest of everything available. It worked fine for a short while, now every day, something else stops working. I go to upload a file over at the Internet - yesterday morning it uploaded a file perfectly, without a single issue. Last night, I tried uploading a similar file and nothing. I'd go to enter the name of the item and click on the "next" button and the screen would flash and take me right back to the same screen. Only the "add a title for your item" box would be empty. It wouldn't accept anything you typed into it. This is so frustrating. You try the help section on the website you're attempting to use and all anybody can do is suggest "have you tried Firefox?" I use Internet Explorer. It works. It worked yesterday morning, so it should have worked yesterday evening. I don't want to install another program that can develop even more issues; one's that I don't have a clue of how to start fixing myself.

The problem is corporate greed. The huge computer and internet companies keep "upgrading" everything so that what you have won't work anymore. All for the sake of the allmighty dollar.

Well, listen up, buckos.... that's going to be changing if you don't straighten up and fly right. There's a reason why greed is one of the seven deadly sins.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

No Smoking Permitted In Federal Buildings

Executive Order 13058, "Protecting Federal Employees and the Public from Exposure to Tobacco Smoke in the Federal Workplace," was enacted on August 9th, 1997. It bans smoking in all Executive Branch facilities, (i.e. the White House), and all interior space owned, rented or leased space by the Executive Branch of the federal government. That would be the United States Federal Government - the people we elected - that government.

Fact 1: The President of the United States Of America Barack Obama is a cigarette smoker.

Well, that's really the only fact you need to know. Just where does he smoke? Does he go outside like the rest of the American citizens have to, or does he break the law? You have to ask yourself which one you think is right. I'm betting that Obama doesn't always have to keep going outside to light up. But, you ask - he's breaking the law! Exactly. Apparently, he feels he's above the law. Why else would he keep circumventing the United States Constitution like he does? Do you really need to know anymore about this man? You already know what he's doing to this country. Stand up for your God-given Constitutional rights and voice them wherever they can be heard. While you still have the freedom of speech to do so.

We need to get our America back.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cartoon Babes, First Edition

This is something I've been wanting to do for awhile now, so I'm finally doing it now that blogger is working again.

I will be spotlighting various animated characters that I think are drawn to be fabulous cartoon babes. The first one is from the 2000 movie The Road To El Dorado. Two adventurers during 16th century acquire a map supposedly leading to the fabled golden city of El Dorado. Through a couple mishaps and adventurous turns, they do indeed end up at the doorstep of El Dorado. There they meet one of the native Mayan women who helps them with their charade of pretending to be gods. Her name is Chel and she is voiced by Rosie Perez. With Rosie Perez fleshing out how the character sounds and acts, the animators did their part in the "fleshalization" of Chel. She is truly something to look at and in every since of the word, a "babe!" Enjoy this full-length portrait of her below and if you can find the movie, buy it. It's a great one to watch over and over! I've added it to my personal dvd collection and have watched it at least a half-dozen times or more - it's that engrossing of an adventure/comedy flick! I also just found out that it was inspired by all those "road movies" of the 1940's that Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour starred in. You remember, The Road To Zanzibar, The Road To Morocco, etc.?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Ten Commandments 50th Anniversary Edition

Well, as you can see by the above picture, I finally have gotten my copy of the 50th Anniversary Collection version of The Ten Commandments! I had procrastinated for long enough. This special edition also has the 1923 silent film version of The Ten Commandments, so I'm sure it will contain some more blog fodder. (Even if Charlton Heston isn't in it!) But, his version is my favorite, mind you. The above scene is just after the part where Yul Brynner has tried to insinuate that Heston's character of Moses has been treasonous to the Pharaoh. Heston encounters with his classic line, "The strong make many.... the starving make few.... the dead make none." Case closed! That line is just too cool. And something else that has stayed with me since I first saw it in 1966, that evil-looking mountain Paramount uses for this movie alone to show their logo over the top of. That's one bad mountain! Stay tuned because there will be more posts about Charlton Heston and The Ten Commandments, my favorite move. Have no fear on that score! You have to have this movie in your collection.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Forced Vacation

And, if that wasn't enough, now Google blogger won't seem to allow me to upload any photographs. My blogs all rely on photographs, so I suppose until somebody straightens this out, I won't be able to post anything on Photo Journey temporarily. If it's not one thing, it's always a half a dozen others.
You'll all remember how lightning struck my computer a couple weeks back and I had to buy a new one. Well, my car had "issues" and it had to be taken into the shop for repairs. It's supposed to be around the tune of $700. (Not my favorite tune, mind you!) They were okay with me paying half tomorrow (when it's supposed to be finished), and the rest in a week or so. Well, today I find that I lost my job and I get my car insurance statement which will be due at the end of this month. Will it never end!?

Don't despair. I'll try to be back soon!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Real Me

I always wonder if the readers of my blog ever wonder what kind of guy I am? From the different subjects in my posts, it may be hard to pinpoint exactly what I'm like. I like to feel I'm the way I am because that's what gets me through my life the best way. I love living life and doing all that I can in this life of mine. Read on for some insights into this life we're all trying to live these days.

Yes, I like the outdoors. If I didn't have a computer, I would probably be out most of the time. (But, it's hard to see a monitor in the bright sunlight!) Ever since I was a little boy, being out too long in the sun would cause my dark brown hair to get blonde streaks in it. Now, the picture above shows me as being totally blonde, but that's not because of the sun. I wanted to try something different and had my hair bleached that color. Don't be afraid to try something you want to do in your life just because you think people might laugh at you. What you think in your heart means much more than what other's think is best for you.

Sometimes, I can seem quite sarcastic, but it's only my way of laughing at life. Usually, my sarcasm is based on humor because I like to think that if people are smiling while you're talking to them, they might be more apt to listen to what you're saying. So, don't let them down. Say something important once in a while!
You know.... If I was to say that because I'm a white w.a.s.p. male and that because of that and my experiences I would be able to do things better and make more informed judgements than say.... a Latino woman, I would be branded "a racist." At least, that is the definition of "a racist" in this politically correct world we live in, so I suppose it must be right. Now that you know exactly what denotes "a racist," you'll also know why Sonia Sotomayor is too much of "a racist" to sit as a member of the Supreme Court. The members of that body are supposed to be above things like ethnicity, color, creed, race and gender and just rule on points of law as they are defined in the United States Constitution. And that is why we don't need or want somebody as racist as that deciding what we already know to be our God given rights. Am I not right on this?

Ah.... the good life. That's me yachting in the above picture. It was the first and, so far, only time I've gotten to be on an honest-to-goodness expensive yacht. (It wasn't mine, either!) I've never even been able to buy a bass boat. But, that hasn't mattered in my life. I have my family and friends, I work hard and I like to think that I live my life like it means it's worth something. I try to contribute to the human race in my own way and make it a better place when I can. Yes, that was me playing my guitar for free in a nursing home to entertain the residents the other day. Yes, that was me noticing that the clerk had given me too much change for what I had purchased and taking it back in the store to give it back and make sure she didn't come up shorthanded at the end of her workday. And, yes that was me assisting a car accident victim because nobody else was around.

What I'm mostly trying to say is that your life can be blessed with riches, but only if you decide what is worth more to you and then going after those things.
I hear so many stories about politicians who have never worked a real job in their lives and wonder just how they come up with the ridiculous laws they do. For instance.... do we, as Americans, need to allow amnesty to all the illegal aliens that are here just because politicians think it's the right thing to do? If we were in a country like North Korea or Zimbabwe, illegal aliens would be shot on sight. There's a right way and wrong way to move to a new country; and when you do so, it's with the prerequisite that, if you come to the United States to live this life, you do not bring your old life here and change us around to your way of thinking. If your old life is so good, stay in it and don't come here. That's not a racist way of looking at things, it's just the way it has to be or you won't have a viable country for very long. My ancestors were Vikings and we adjusted quite nicely since we've been here. You'll note that I don't pillage and plunder anywhere near as much as they used to! (Although, there are sure times I'd like to! Why can't I have my heritage, too? Everybody else gets to have theirs!)

Every year at Easter, I watch my favorite movie - The Ten Commandments. Which is not to say that the above picture is my statement that I feel I'm as holy as Moses. I'm not - I'm just an average, ordinary guy. But, I do believe in God and I believe that he blessed the United States of America and all the people in this great land. I am truly proud to be a free citizen of the U.S.A. and will fight anyone who tries to take that freedom away from me or my family. I served in the United States Army for the freedom to believe that way. And you can darn well bet that I'm not changing my mind on this issue even though the federal government or the state of Illinois tries to legislate otherwise. There are certain things that are right and wrong and I was raised to know the difference. Calling it the law or for safety reasons does not make something right.

No fear. Look at the above picture and you'll see me holding a branch with thousands of bees on it. I'm wearing no protective clothing except for the gloves. I didn't consider it stupidity at the time and I still don't. There are just certain things you know that if you treat them right, they'll treat you right. It's like our planet. However we treat it, it still revolves and allows life to flourish. No matter what we do, it always adjusts so that we can survive. This next phrase I'm going to say may sound quite scientific and be above some of your heads, if it is, I apologise beforehand. Global Warming is nothing but a bunch of hooey. Well, maybe it's not so hard to understand after all. All us normal people get it. Planet Earth has been through ice ages and drought spells before and has always pulled through. Let it do it's thing and stop worrying about it. All we as humans need to be concerned about is getting along with each other. It starts with you and the people you come in contact with. Put yourselves in their shoes and try to treat them like you would want to be treated and things will be a whole lot easier. Trust me on this, it works.

Hank Williams, Jr. sang years ago, "We can skin a buck, we can run a trout line, and a country boy can survive." Now, I wasn't born and raised in the country, but I've spent lots of time out there enjoying it. The above picture shows me in my "Great White Hunter" mode. When I go camping, I do it right. I carry in my tent and sleeping bag, pots and pans, hunting knife and utensils and my rifle. I have meat for supper if the hunt goes well. But, whatever I shoot, I know how to clean it, cook it and eat it. The early pioneers used to live or die while using these same techniques. They survived if they took these methods to heart and died when they didn't. True, there were Indians and other natural dangers they had to contend with, but we have just as many hazards, if not more, to contend with these days. Have you ever been stranded in your car in certain sections of Chicago? You don't want to do that. Have you ever seen a cop trying to plant drugs in your car so that he can have something to arrest you for? Not a pleasant experience. But, whatever life has to throw at you, just try to be prepared for it and your chances of survival will go up greatly. Previous posts on this blog about Survival Kits, Emergency Cooking, Disaster Preparedness and Earthquake Safety Tips can be found at the highlighted links. You can bet that me and my family will be better off than most people if anything should happen here in America. Don't let you or the ones you love down in a crisis - be prepared!
Well, there you have it. Now you know a little bit more of what I'm like. Maybe you've also learned a little something about yourself that you didn't know before. If you've learned anything, please just try to be happy and true to yourself, your family and your loved ones. They are what matter the most.

New Show Alert - Fourth And Long

I had seen some previews for a new television show that was premiering on May 18th, 2009 and thought it looked interesting. Being a football fan my entire life, the fact that it was about football made it even more appealing. It stars the Dallas Cowboy's great wide receiver Michael Irvin and the theme of the show is about 12 athletes competing to see who will be good enough to win and go on to win a spot on the Dallas Cowboys real roster. It started it's 10-episode run on May 18th, on Spike TV, and I've read that it will end with enough time for the winner to be able to report to training camp this year.
Quite frankly, I didn't expect it to be the best television show I'd ever watched, but since it was about football, it should at least be able to hold my interest. Well, last night I watched the first two episodes, (which I had to miss when they were broadcast, but I taped them), and I have to say this - I was blown away by the show! What can I say but that it keeps my interest, it shows me behind the scenes of just how much work it takes to be able to play the sport and it is inspiring to boot! Michael Irvin and his two co-stars, former Cowboy player Bill Bates and former Cowboy coach Joe Avezzano come across as being totally sincere in what they are trying to do with the 12 players and special appearances by former Cowboy greats help reinforce different lessons they're trying to teach the 12 men.
At the beginning of each episode, Michael tells them what that day's training will consist of and why it's so important. During the course of the episode, a former Cowboy will reinforce this with his personal spin on why it matters. What everything boils down to seems to be that if you want something bad enough, you will find it in yourself to attain your goals. That's a good lesson for life in general as well! The only drawback I can see with the show so far is that it's only going to last for 10 episodes. It's such an eye opening behind the scenes look and downright pleasure to watch, I would have hoped that it could last even longer; especially after seeing the first two episodes. But, irrespective of whether or not the winner actually attains a spot on the Cowboy's roster this year, I think that each and every one of the 12 will learn a little bit more about themselves and how to go about getting the things they want out of life with a more focused drive and determination.
Who knew that Michael Irvin and the rough sport of football had so much potential to inspire!? Count me as an even bigger fan now!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't Tread On Me. (And I Mean It!)

Just a quick note to explain why I haven't posted anything for awhile. Two weeks ago, a powerful thunderstorm moved through my area and lightning struck my computer, rendering it totally unusable. But, I'm back online now with a new computer and equipment from my internet provider, (which got taken out, too). As you can see, I've got one of those Gadsden Flag stickers on my bumper, which I blogged about here. Be sure to get one of your very own!

Does it look familiar? Oh, no.... now the State Police are gonna start profiling me as a terrorist!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Of Butterflies And Things

Just a short post to note that somebody who studies Monarch Butterflies passed through town today for a look at my little winged paradise. Nathan Miller, above on the right, is traveling from Ontario on his way to the Gulf of Mexico taking samples of milkweed and getting specimens of Monarchs where he can. He happened to see my reports of Monarchs on, and got in touch with me. Although it had been raining here on and off for three days, the sun broke through just about the time Nathan drove into town. We didn't see any Monarchs, but he was amazed at the variety of Butterflies that popped out in such a short time. We saw several Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites, Pearl Crescents and the first Eastern Tailed Blues I've seen of the season. One of them is pictured below. Nathan says he might be back through my area in late May, so hopefully, the Monarchs will be out by then.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Road Construction Bonus

Just a little bonus - a 1:64 scale steam roller framed by the real-life version in the background.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Road Construction

It's not often you get to see the road in front of your house being repaired. That's why I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get some shots of the process. I have to say, the crew that did this particular job, E.T. Simonds out of Carbondale, performed the task in unison like a well-choreographed ballet. Their equipment was moved in so they could start on a Monday, but it rained for two days and they didn't get started until Wednesday. But, they paved the two lane road that went in front of my house and for about 3 or 4 miles in length in just 3 days! I thought it was pretty amazing.

They started by laying down a good coating of oil on top of the old road's surface. You can see that layer above, along with a truck holding the asphalt mixture.

Here is one of the many trucks that would line up with the asphalt mixture dumping it into some kind of conveyor machine on wheels. The conveyor would place it into the actual vehicle that would spread it on the road in a fairly smooth coat.

Those trucks would really raise their beds high into the sky to make sure all of that sticky, black stuff would come out!

Here you can see the conveyor machine dumping the black substance into the asphalt-spreading machine. It chewed up and spit out this mixture at a pretty fast clip and therefore had to keep being filled.

Here is the process as it moved down the road. In this shot, they are moving from the right to my left.

This is a shot of the machine that put the asphalt down. A couple guys rode on the back of it - I presume to see that it kept going in a straight line.

Another view of the conveyor machine filling up the asphalt hopper.

Once the asphalt was laid down, it looked pretty smooth to my eyes. But....

They had two heavy rollers following along behind, pounding it down even smoother and more compact.

Here is a close-up of one of the rollers. Of the two, you could feel this one coming blocks away because it had "oscillating action."

It said "oscillation" right on the side of it and felt like an earthquake when this thing went by. And trust me, I know what earthquakes feel like!

Both rolling machines were driven by women and as I took pictures, this one asked as she drove by, "Are those pictures going to be on the internet?" She had driven on past before I could answer, "Well.... maybe!" I wonder if she's single?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Tea Time

You've probably heard the term "Tea Party" being used in the news these days. Just so you know that I'm up on things and "hip," I love tea. And everything it stands for. You can see my tea of choice above - iced tea.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Don't Tread On Me

I just wanted to post this so you could get a good look at it. If you remember your high school history lessons, you'll know it is the Gadsden Flag, made famous in our Revolutionary War. The one where we fought for that little thing called "freedom." You may remember it well!
You're probably going to be seeing a lot more of this particular symbol in the coming days and weeks because the federal government of the United States has now decided that it stands for domestic terrorism! Exactly why are we paying these guys and gals!? To try and get us to fall for propaganda such as this?
You haven't heard the last of this story.


I just had to comment on this amusing little exchange.
A user over on the Joepedia wiki made this little comment on his user page:
"I get around - mostly minor edits, so the only reason I have a username is that nobody respects a string of numbers."
I couldn't leave well enough alone, so I made a reply to this statement. When you realize the user name he chose for himself is "ButtButt," you'll see why I had no choice but to say:
"Good point about people not respecting strings of numbers. Now, a name like ButtButt is something they certainly will respect!"

Do people actually use that thing between their ears anymore?

Meet George Jetson

Baby Boomers like myself probably remember The Jetsons better than anybody else. It was a cartoon set way into the future and depicted a society where humanity didn't have to work much anymore and when they did, they simply had to push buttons and computers did all the work. The only problem with that vision is that the reality is much different. Now we have computers that can "push the button," so to speak, without the need for human involvement. A good point to illustrate this is this:
I was "promoted" to being an administrator over on the great Wikipedia project, in one of the little side-wikis known as the Hot Wheels Wiki. The first task I was told to always be sure and do was to greet new users when they first appeared. It was imperative that this be done, so as to make sure users would stick around to do more work, editing the wiki and uploading new pictures. Well, I agreed to take on this charge and loved the responsibility of doing this important task. It was nice to be able to greet each new user personally, and with helpful suggestions that would get them up and running on something that can be complicated. If I had only had some of the hints that I'm aware of now when I joined, there could have been a lot less trouble.
But now, the great staff of Wikipedia has been upgrading everything and adding new features. One of them is, you guessed it, automatic software that greets every new user within 1 minute - 60 seconds - of when they first join. Now, this might be a good thing, but I enjoyed doing that task myself and making each greeting a personal thing, from a real person and not a "'bot." What is a person to do when progress keeps making people obsolete? I'm practically not needed anymore over on the wiki, thanks to all the new features.
What was the purpose of humanity again? Are you now or have you ever been?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Diecast Copies

Did you know that there are diecast companies that copy other companies' designs? Sad, but true. Rather than go to the expense of creating their own original designs, they'll just copy somebody else's that has already been released. Personally, I can't conceive how a person or company in a creative field such as this could ever even think about copying somebody else's work. Where's the joy of creation? Anyway, it does happen more often than you'd think, so it will probably continue to happen for just as long as diecast cars and trucks are made. Here are a few notable examples.

Above you will see a fine Porsche 911 Turbo cast in 1:64 scale, made by Tomica. Below, you will a pretty good copy of the same exotic car, only this one was made by Welly.

Here's an ambulance model made by Hot Wheels, called an "American Ambulance." Below you will see an almost identical copy, even down to the tampo design, made by Maisto. You tell me, was this intentional or not?

This is the Deora, made by Mattel in 1968. Below you can see a copy of it from Argentina. It was made by a company called Muky, and as far as I can tell, they named it "Furgon."

Pretty similar, eh? If you like copies, some of them are quite well made and sport features sometimes not found on the original versions. So, keep your eyes open as they "send in the clones."