Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Amaryllis portrait

I've decided that I want a job where I just take pictures of flowers and stuff all day. And then sit in a big comfy chair in front of a fireplace. That would be the life.

This photo is a 30 second exposure using a single incandescent bulb as backlighting.

It's got "News" in its name, so it must be news!

For some odd reason, one of the aliases I own has been placed on the NewsMax daily mailing list. As you know, NewsMax is so truthful and newsy, it even has "News" in its name! There are eight or nine Democratic candidates for president in 2008, but for NewsMax, it's all about hard-hitting coverage that looks fairly at both sides.

So in the interest of news, here's recent NewsMax newsletter coverage of Hillary's campaign! (It's a NewsMax newsletter - it's so newsy that it's got "news" in it twice!)

Dec 7 Dick Morris: Hillary Can Win, But Must Not
Dec 13 Rush, Dick Morris Praised 'Hillary's Scheme'
Dec 14 McCain Trounces Hillary
Dec 16 Hillary Clinton Dines with D'Amato, Koch
Dec 19 Hillary Snubs French Socialist Royal
Dec 19 Dick Morris: I'll Leave U.S. if Hillary Elected
Dec 20 Obama Threatens Hillary
Dec 21 Give 'Deck of Hillary' for Christmas
Dec 21 'Crafty' Hillary: A Mom in the White House?
Dec 24 Hillary Disavows Her Iraq War Vote
Dec 25 Dick Morris: Hillary's Mom Strategy
Dec 28 Dick Morris: Obama's Gift to Hillary
Jan 5 Hillary Plans to Derail Obama
Jan 10 Hillary Picks Launch Pad, Koch on Iraq
Jan 12 Dick Morris: Democratic Civil War
Jan 16 Hillary Slams Edwards, Navy Ships Head to Iran
Jan 21 Breaking: Hillary Worried Makes 2008 Announcement
Jan 21 Dick Morris: Hillary in Trouble
Jan 22 Bush Hater Tossed from Jet; Rush and Hillary, More
Jan 26 Dick Morris: Poor Hillary Eclipsed by Pelosi, Obama
Jan 29 Hillary Fibs in Iowa, Bush Warns Iran
Jan 30 Harry Reid's Land Deal; Hillary; Chavez
Jan 31 Hillary's Antics Help the GOP
Jan 31 Dick Morris: Hillary's Achilles Heel in Poll

Monday, January 29, 2007

Q: How do you keep a liberal nutjob busy?

A: Send them to this page. Click the OK button. Nice error interface, guys.

And THIS is how crap becomes "facts"

Granted, it's But I've heard this bullcrap repeated by conservatives more than once.
During [Janet Reno's] eight year reign of terror as the US Attorney General, she took her fight to prove her femininity across the country. . .murdering a woman and child in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. . . .

Timeline for the hard-of-thinking:

22 Aug 1992: Vicki Weaver killed in Idaho.
3 Nov 1992: Bill Clinton elected 42d President.
11 Feb 1993: Janet Reno appointed attorney general.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ethernet hub

I have one more Ethernet device than I have port on my router, so I decided to get a hub. I went to the Radio Shack in Bay Shore.

"May I help you today?"
"Yeah. I just need a 4-port Ethernet hub."
"We don't have those...uh...they don't exist."
"What do you mean? Of course they exist."
"No they don't. This wireless router does those functions."
"Of course they exist. I've had one in my office for years."
"No, there's no such thing."
"Well thank you. I'm going to go get it from someone who knows what they're talking about."

And now, a quick review.

First, of course 4-port Ethernet hubs exist.
Second, the guy knew they existed, which is why he tried to push me to a router I didn't need and claimed that they did the same thing. But if there's no such thing as a hub, how would he know what function they performed? Huh?
Third, why are you arguing with a customer who knows what he's looking for? And trying to push something on him that he didn't need.
Fourth, why are you telling a customer that the thing he owns doesn't exist?

I walked just next door to Staples, where they had a large range of networking gear. I wonder how much of it actually existed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Jersey.

Please don't eat the squirrels, New Jersey warns residents

TRENTON — Squirrel is off the menu. New Jersey officials are warning residents near a toxic waste dump in the northern part of the state to restrict how much squirrel they eat, two months after a lead-contaminated animal was found in the area.

A letter sent to Ringwood residents, many of whom hunt, advised them that children should not eat squirrel more than once a month, pregnant women should limit their intake to twice a month, and adults should not eat squirrel more than twice a week.

“We’ve known for a long time something was wrong here, we just didn’t know what it was,” resident Myrtle Van Dunk told The Record of Bergen County for Thursday’s newspapers.

Residents and many environmental activists believe the lead comes from toxic waste, including paint sludge, dumped in the area by the Ford Motor Co. during the 1960s and early 1970s, from its now-closed car manufacturing plant in Mahwah.

Ford is removing thousands of tons of waste from a 500-acre former mining property in the Ringwood area. The site was recently relisted on the federal Superfund list, a ranking of the country’s worst environmental dump sites, after multiple cleanups failed to remove all of the sludge.

This is the first time the state has issued warnings on how much squirrel people should eat, Tom Slater, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Senior Services told the newspaper; the department, along with the state Department of Environmental Protection, issued the warning. Lead, which is harmful even in small amounts, can damage the nervous system, red blood cell production and the kidneys.

The Ringwood area is home to many members of the Ramapough Mountain Indian tribe who hunt and fish in the area.

Screw "fresh blood"

Are you lying, or just deranged?

Too bad Amendment XXV only applies to the president.
CHENEY: If [Saddam] were still there today, we'd have a terrible situation.
BLITZER: But there is --
CHENEY: No, there is not. There is not.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Things I did to my sister

My sister is 2 1/2 years younger than I am. Over the years, I've done some mean-spirited, cruel things to her. I present here a partial list to clear the air. This is NOT an apology, because I don't feel bad about any of them.
  • Pulled the Sunday Times out from under her when she was a toddler.
  • Convinced her that the sun was rising when it was actually setting, so then she didn't want to go to bed.
  • When she was 12, told her that when she was talking about boys with a friend, Mom said "her juices are flowing."
  • Ate a bag of M&M's in front of her on the train after she tattled on me for having said bag, because Dad had put me on a crash diet.
  • Turned the light quickly on and off while she was sleeping, simulating a nuclear bomb.
  • Stuck wet fingers in her ears.
  • While she was driving a stick shift up a hill in San Francisco, put the driver's seat all the way back while she was at a red light.
  • Slowly drove a finger into her side over 30 seconds; remarked that she was like a frog being boiled. (Note: this was just last September.)
  • Got into a fight over muting the annoying "Goody Goody" ad for Lite N Lively yogurt.
  • Sent email to her on Mom's AOL account, swearing at her and criticizing her. (This may have been last year too.)
  • Met her boyfriend dan, nicknamed him Mr. Druff.
  • Sent her a photo of a naked fat guy with the subject line "Cute picture of the kids!"
  • When she came to visit at college, gave her the top bunk and then kept sliding my hand up behind the mattress to startle her.
  • Slugged her when she drank out of my Coke on purpose because I was a germophobe.
  • Left a rolled-up dirty sweat sock in her bed.
Er...I think there are some other things on the list too, but I'm tired of reminiscing now.

NHL All-Star Game

The All-Star Game is tonight. Wednesday. On the Versus Network. Today's top newsfeed story on

NHL will need All-Star fans just to find the game

At least they're not going with stupid new uniforms or anything.

New Mexico: Land of Impeachment

New Mexico is doing the right thing. This is what the Constitution is about - serving not as a gotcha for Clinton, but as a way to protect the nation from a president like Bush. This is the right thing to do. It's not a matter of personal popularity. It's not a matter of giving the president a gotcha quiz. This is an issue of repeated and blatant subversion of the very basis of our republic. We have an attorney general who stands up under oath and says that the Constitution doesn't provide any guarantee of habeas corpus. The most amazing part is that the Republican Party is still trying to equate the president with the nation, saying that the impeachment would "demoralize our troops." Most of our troops already disagree with Bush's handling of the war in Iraq.

From AP, via the Free New Mexican:
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - The New Mexico Democratic Party is calling for President Bush's removal from office.

Party Chairman John Wertheim said Tuesday that delegates to Saturday's state party convention supported a call for the president's impeachment largely because of "perceived abuses of power and corruption in the Bush administration."

He listed as examples of abuses of power, warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens, the misstatement of facts preceding the invasion of Iraq, and the scandal surrounding the indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide in connection with the leak of the identity of a covert CIA operative.

"Everyone understands President Bush is not going to be impeached," Wertheim said. "But these abuses of power and corruption in the administration are deeply serious matters and there should be more talk about this abuse of power."

The one-sentence amendment, added from the floor to the platform's section on political and election reform, reads: "Resolved, that the Democratic Party of New Mexico supports the impeachment of President George Bush and his lawful removal from office."

Marta Kramer, executive director for the Republican Party of New Mexico, said Tuesday the Democrats "foolishly" voted to "to impeach and punish our president for aggressively waging the war on al-Qaida and terrorist organizations."

"How will dragging the country into impeachment hearings protect Americans?" she asked. "How will censuring the president protect Americans?"

The amendment, suggested by Bernalillo County convention delegate Robb Chavez, was accepted on a show of hands by about 80 percent of the nearly 1,400 registered convention delegates, Wertheim said. It required support by at least two-thirds of the delegates.

Kramer said the action proved the only plan the Democrats have "is to attack our president, undermine American resolve and demoralize our troops."

Wertheim said Democrats perceive a double standard between President Bush and former President Clinton. Concerns raised about Bush's actions are "much more serious than anything that was said about President Clinton," he said.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

State of the Union

No one is listening. No one cares. He's over. He might just as well just jump up on the podium, crap into his hands, hold it to the camera, and say "For ooo."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Don't eat the snow

I've always wanted a backyard snow-making machine. It just seems so innocent and childlike to wake up to a yard full of snow, even in a year like this where nature isn't cooperating.

But they are now offering an even better deal: the Super Blizzard. You can do so much with it. For instance, you can...uh...make a big pile of frozen effluent.

"Sewage treatment: Some treatment facilities are short on storage and therefore are looking for a solution to store excess waste water in the winter. This effluent can be stored as snow and slowly re-absorbed into the environment as the snow melts in the spring."
So there you go. A sixty-foot-tall pile of frozen effluent. And are those footprints leading up to the top of it? Someone was king. King of the Effluent Heap!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

World Beer Cup

I'm watching the Colts-Pats game right now, because, well, I'm a man. They just ran an ad for Miller Beer bragging about how they'd won the World Beer Cup. Not only is this a great honor, but you can also leave the World Beer Cup outside overnight and it'll be filled with slugs in the morning!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Magazine podcasts

Just a reminder, I do monthly podcasts now for MSDN Magazine and TechNet Magazine.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I got a new lens. I'm probably the only person in my entire town who owns this one: the Hartblei 35mm Super-Rotator. It's a medium format tilt-shift lens that rotates 360 degrees, all on independent controls. I got it in a Nikon mount, perfect for a D200. (And it meters through a D200 as well, even though it's completely manual.)

The shift part lets you control perspective when you're shooting something tall, like a building, by moving the lens off-center from the sensor.

The tilt control sets the lens at an angle to the sensor. This creates the Scheimpflug Effect, which states that the film/sensor plane, lens plane, and focus plane will all intersect at a point. (Actually, at a line, because they're planes.) This means that you can change your depth of field and do interesting things with it. For instance...

Normally, setting a lens at f/2.8 and aiming it at an angle would produce a band of focused subject, like this:

When you tilt the lens by a few degrees, it brings the entire plane of the keyboard into focus

You can go the other way too. If you tilt the right way, you create a plane of focus that is orthogonal to the parallel in front of you. That makes images like the third one here:

So then. Anyone know how to stick tables into Blogger?

Honoring Jonas Salk

In the 1950s, polio was a scourge. It was still crippling people, and if you're of a certain age (mine), your parents can tell you about closed swimming pools and other precautions. A doctor named Jonas Salk was the first to develop a vaccine, and as a result he's a hero in the world of medicine (and the world).

So it is only fitting that we honor his accomplishments. The Levittown school district has even named a middle school after him. Sure, they're now part of a controversy because their district has banned service dogs. But it's still important that Falk is recognized for what he did.

And what better way to continue the honor with a fitting mascot? Here's the Salk eagle. It's got human hands. It's got fried chicken legs. And it has obvious breast implants under its sweater, on which the name "SALK" is emblazoned. And it's not wearing any pants.

That's how we honor our academic heroes these days. With a strutting, depantsed, titty half-eagle, half-human chimera in a clingy sweater. The world salutes you, Jonas Salk.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The two-foot rip

Has this ever happened to you?

I was heading home yesterday, walking down into the subway like the best lookin' guy in the world. I was standing on the platform, waiting for the B, D, F, or V - didn't matter which one. I reached back to check my wallet, and I realized that my pants were ripped. Not just any little rip, either. My pants were ripped from my waist to the back of my knee. I grabbed underpant.

So there I am on the D train, my ass hanging out as the wind whistles through the two-foot-long flap that's formed on my right leg. I never knew what those signs on the subway meant. The ones that say "What if YOU'RE the guy whose ass is hanging out on the D train?"

I pulled my jacket down, but it really didn't cover the last 18" of slash. I had to take my fleece off and tie it around my waist, so that only the last couple of inches showed on the back of my knee.

Everyone was avoiding me. I looked like a nutcake, running around with half a pair of pants. Then I started to wonder when it had happened. I didn't have a problem at lunchtime, I'm pretty sure. No one at work said anything, and they all claim not to have noticed. Did I walk too close to a sawblade? Did I cut one? Was this some side effect of the natural gas attack on Monday? Did someone try to steal my wallet? This has been a week full of wonder and mystery.

Monday, January 8, 2007

The smells of a great city

It was a great day for noses in the city. I walked from Penn Station to my office. Got in before 9 AM. As I walked to my desk, I noticed the faint odor of a gas leak. It got stronger and stronger. I called the front desk, and they said that the building was looking into it. I went into my office, but by then the noxious aroma was everywhere. I decided to go outside for some fresh air.

People were milling about in the lobby, which was my first sign that it wasn't limited to our floor. I went outside, and the gas stench was just as bad in front of the building. More people were congregated outside, and some of the arrivals said that they had smelled the natural gas on the subway, or at their homes.

I pulled up channel 4 on my cell phone (thanks, Slingbox!) and they had a report on the citywide natural gas odor. So it wasn't my imagination. The press conference didn't shed much light on the source:

Con Ed: "We have detected no leaks or potential sources that can be traced
back to our utility."

Bloomberg: "Oh yeah, Con Ed? Well, whoever denied it supplied it."

Con Ed: "Whoever smelt it dealt it, Mike."

I figured I'd go back up to my office. People were pointing fingers and it smelled like they were all being pulled. I made the right choice, for the air was pretty much fresh again within 20 minutes or so.

Hours later, I got on the 6:27 train home. The conductor actually apologized in advance over the PA because four of the bathroom cars were too raunchy for anyone to sit in. He advised people to find an even-numbered train car to avoid the stench.

Mystery solved.


After almost 11 years at Microsoft, shipping one to two magazines per month, I received my first-ever Ship-It award today.

For Windows Vista.

I have no idea why.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Seattle weather

OK, so it was 72 degrees out here in the NYC area yesterday. We haven't hit freezing since Dec 9. Global warming is nice, although I was driving on the Southern State yesterday and narrowly missed hitting an iceberg.

However, I also understand that our friends in the Seattle area have been having suboptimal weather for some time now. The cause isn't global warming in this case. This recent expanded radar view demonstrates another possible cause.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Vytorin ads

"Cholesterol. It can come from barbecue beef, or your Aunt Beef! From mushroom gravy, or your Cousin Mushroom."

Friday, January 5, 2007

This is our country...

This is just outrageous.

You know those insipid Chevy truck ads, where John Mellencamp croons "This is our country" as they flash images of "real Americans" standing on their farm, holding babies, burning crosses, and so on?

I was watching the World Juniors Hockey Championship on satellite today. In Canada, they run the same ad - exactly - except that they slip in a two-second shot of a hockey player captioned "This is our attitude." Otherwise, everything's the same. Same song, same farm, same babies, same burning crosses, the whole lot.

It turns out that those "real Americans" are also "real Canadians." And it appears that this isn't a tribute to our patriotism after all, it's just a way that Chevy is trying to sell trucks. Stupid Timbits-eating peace-monkeys.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Dullest story of the year

Every year, they manage to run the dullest news story on Jan 1. It always goes something like this:

"...and two hospitals each claim they had the first baby born in the new year. In Queens, Flushing General welcomed in Ming-Hsi Goldbaum at 12:00:00.00003 AM, right after the ball drop. Meanwhile, in the Bronx, Shannon Rabinowitz gave birth to daughter Kaitlin at 12:00:00.00005 AM."

AAAAAAAGHHHHHH. NO ONE CARES WHICH HOSPITAL FUDGED THEIR BIRTH RECORDS BEST! What do you get anyway, a lifetime pension? A new home? Or a 42-pack of newborn diapers courtesy of Pathmark?