My Videos, Let Me Show You Them.

This is a video that I put together from a lot (read hours) of swimming and diving footage that I took this summer. Please do give it a watch and let me know what you think of it.

As you may remember, the last two Septembers, I participated in Kilted To Kick Cancer. I will again be participating this year. Last year’s project made it possible to shoot these videos that I find hilarious, even if they were not widely watched. When you get a minute, please do.


And, I shall also remind you that last years donations to my KTKC effort made Jennifer and me fulfill our promise to make this very special video. I will point out that my YouTube channel has had 28,936 total views, and this video alone has 26,157. So basically, it makes up over 90% of my traffic on YouTube!

Yes, I embedded the video yesterday. Yes, I mention it and link to it again today. See kids, starting Monday, I’m going to be wearing a kilt every day for thirty days. I’m doing this to solicit donations to benefit male-specific cancers. I’ll have all the info on how you can participate soon. Also, there will be dares, bets, challenges, and thrown gauntlets. We’ll probably have some special offers here, and Jennifer and I will be hearing requests for crazy stuff we can do to earn your donations. I’m not sure what that will look like as we were pushing some personal boundaries with that aforementioned video last year. But, if you have any great ideas, shoot us an email or drop it in a comment somewhere. And please do let me know how you like my videos!

An Open Letter to Miley Cyrus

Dear Miley,

Can I call you ‘Miley’? Great. I don’t watch TV, but after all the hullabaloo that I saw on the internet about your *ahem* performance at the VMAs, I had to check out a recording to see what the big deal was all about. I was previously aware of your recent antics, since I attempt to keep a finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry. I don’t want to wake up one day and find myself as one of those old guys who is absolutely out of touch with the current culture. I have not exactly been in approval of your approach before now, but you really crossed the line on Sunday.


Why does this face look so familiar?


It may be cute when my dog’s tongue is hanging out of her mouth, but it is not cute when you do it. And, I understand that sex sells. I really don’t have a problem with sex appeal in the entertainment industry. It’s been done for centuries. What I do have a problem with is soft core porn being peddled as family entertainment. When Stefani Germanotta paints on a scant outfit and makes a spectacle of herself as Lady Gaga, there is artistic value in it. Even at her most salacious, she retains a defined level of class. She incorporates elaborate dance routines with choreography, dazzling color, and many other elements that are not at all sexual in nature. On the other hand, when you get as close to naked as you legally can and grind against a dude’s crotch, rub your lady bits with a foam finger, and wag your nearly naked rump at a crowd and cameras, it is indecent. Twerking is not dancing. It is slutty exhibition.


I know your daddy has remained pensively positive, but I can only imagine what your spectacle has done to his achy breaky heart. If someone I loved did something so disgusting, I can confidently say it would make me die a little on the inside. By contrast, last year, I published a very sexy video on YouTube of my beloved wife shooting .50-caliber rifles wearing a PVC catsuit that didn’t leave much to the imagination. Even though it was sexy it was not at all trashy. She was exhibiting her excellent marksmanship skills and agreed to do the video to promote men’s health.

Will twerking destroy a paint can 800-yards away? Yeah, I don’t think so. You see, every September a bunch of us guys commit to wear kilts all month and collect donations to raise awareness and support for male-specific cancers. After much discussion, we announced that if my sponsorship reached a certain level, we would make this video. There are these little things called boundaries, and my wife and I have boundaries that we won’t cross. Some things are better left in the bedroom and certainly have no place in public for just anyone to behold. As I watched the recording of your… …thing, the look of disgust on Will Smith’s face mirrored my own reaction.


Indeed, it appeared that many members of the live audience were disturbed by your antics. I would like to advise you to seek a career that’s more in line with your talent set; there’s probably some openings in Las Vegas for a girl like you. But as you noted on Twitter, what you are doing is getting you a lot of attention.

And, in that you are right. Peddling your sexuality, objectifying your meat, and eschewing art in lieu of profane exhibitionism is making you a lot more money than the hard working girls that I alluded to above. Heck, I don’t even listen to your “music” or watch TV, and you even got my attention. What you did was the professional equivalent of crapping in bed and rolling around in your own feces. It got a lot of attention, but it is not at all good attention. You’re also now in the oldest profession. Rather than relying on work or talent, you have made a whore of yourself, Miley. And although that might seem like a really fun and successful way to go when you are twenty, what happens when you get older?

Well then, you’ll just be an old whore.


Watch Where You Step

Just yesterday, Jennifer and I were again discussing the unusually high concentration of carnivorous arthropods in the area this season. We have seen vast numbers of ladybugs, dragonflies, wasps, and spiders in our garden and around the house. We rarely see any bugs in the house, perhaps because we have four little furry hunters to keep them in check. Since my daily commute to work is approximately 10-feet, I often don’t wear shoes. Especially in the Summer, I will more often than not be patting around in my sock feet.

This morning, while walking down the hall, I felt a lump of something under my foot. Fearing the worst of what I might have just stepped in, I slowly removed my foot and took a look. It was a spider of the typical orb-weaver variety that we have seen around the garden. But, instead of being crushed as one might expect, it looked up at me with its shiny eyes, unphased, if a little annoyed that I had just stepped on it. It chattered its mandibles and I wondered if I should say, “excuse me” or something. I doubt I need to describe to you the size of the creature.

Back when I worked at the auto parts store in the bad part of town, we had a bit of a ‘pet’ spider. It was another garden variety spider, but had impressively grown to about an inch and a half long, not including its legs. When I first saw it, I commented that it had a beard and grandkids and was older than me. That one met its unfortunate demise when it confronted a customer who stomped it to death while purchasing motor oil for her leaky wreck of a car.

I have no particular fear of spiders; rather I find them to be fascinating creatures that efficiently kill bugs that I don’t like, and decorate their domain with impressively structured webs. They make interesting photography subjects and it’s fun to watch them weave their webs and catch insects. Even so, I still don’t wish to share my home with spiders that justifiably have no fear of me. Whether you are an arachnophobe or not, that’s just creepy!

A New Addition

I thought I’d posted this yesterday but I didn’t. And then, I realized that I was logged in under the wrong name. Oops. So anyway…

First of all, sorry about the light blogging recently. There’s been a lot going on around here and I’m less disciplined about it than my lovely wife. So, there’s that. My brother, Microcosm Overlord has his share of witty repertoire, but he doesn’t feel like he could produce enough content to maintain a blog of his own. I pointed out to him that excuse didn’t stop me. Anyway, to make a long story short, he will be guest blogging here from time to time. I expect him to come along sooner or later and I hope you enjoy his ramblings as much as I do. And if not, please take it easy on him. :P Of course, I kid. All will be entertained.


Alright.  It’s just now feeling real.  I know that’s normal and natural, but it doesn’t feel right.  He’s gone.  I won’t see him until the next life.  It’s not fair, no matter how many decades he had with us.  Five short years ago he could do anything.  Now, he’s gone.  This is not right.  I carried his coffin today.  His makeup was cakey and cheesy.  Why did 90 have to be the line?

I really am alright, but I feel like I’ve been stolen from. Please feel free to disregard this post.  G’nite all.

Couldn’t Have Said It better…

Jennifer wrote a post addressing the death of my paternal grandfather this last weekend. As she said, he wasn’t supposed to make it past thirty, and he managed to more than triple that expectancy. He followed his heart and followed God through life and passed away in peace. He should be remembered as an inspiration to us all. Thanks to all of you who have already offered your condolences, and thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.

Forget Visible Light! – Let’s Talk Infrared and Ultraviolet

In this post, I explained how the light spectrum that is detectable to our eyes runs from around 400 to 700 nanometers. The sensor in your typical digital camera can detect light waves from around 200 to 1,000, but it has a hot mirror filter to block out the light waves at the extreme ends of the range. Then, in this post, I showed what happens when you remove that filter from a point-and shoot. I also told you that I ordered some ultraviolet and infrared LEDs. On my last post, Mark comments that perhaps I could use a cellphone board camera or a I2C camera, as these seem to register the infrared light in a remote control. Let’s explore that a bit.

The ultraviolet LEDs I ordered are claimed to be 395 to 400 nanometers in wavelength. Lights in this wavelength should produce very little visible light if any at all. I think the manufacturer fudged the wavelength specs just a bit, as these shine quite purple to the naked eye. I have no doubt that they are producing quite a bit of UV light though. Without the proper tools to accurately measure wavelength output, I’d guess that the range on these is more like 395nm to 405nm. When I take a test shot of a UV LED shining on my wall with my unaltered AW100, you can see a blue hot spot but the rest of the frame reflects visible light.


The same shot with the full-spectrum Olympus comes out in a neon purple bath:


I have a little glass horse that sits at my workbench. This is a reproduction of a design that Jennifer’s family came up with generations back. This one was cast in vaseline glass, which is a bright green, uranium filled glass that emits a bright luminescent glow under an UV light. Here’s how it looks with the visible light camera with the UV LED on it:


And again, through the unfiltered eye of the Olympus:


The visible light green glow is rather shocking against all of that UV light! As Matt mentioned, a digital camera can ‘see’ the light emitted from the IR LED in a remote control, but it can’t see much of it. Check out this side by side between the modified and unmodified cameras:

The infrared LEDs arrived today, and here is one shining on my wall through my stock Nikon:


Clearly, there’s not much going on there. Near the center at the bottom of the frame, note the faint red glow of the LED itself. These are even less visible to the naked eye. Through the UV-seeing Olympus though:


We get quite the wash of fuchsia. Just for giggles, what effect, if any will the IR light have on the vaseline glass horse? Here it is through my Nikon:


It wasn’t completely dark, but it was dark enough in the room that the camera didn’t want to focus. But through the Olympus:


Here is a picture of the view screens of both cameras, pointed at the horse, with the IR LED trained on it:


Microcosm Overlord and I are going to build a dual IR/UV light array that I can tote around for some further testing instead of being stuck at the bench. I fully expect to have some fun results to share. With any luck at all, perhaps I can have the array usable in time for Phlegmfest!


Many of you probably know that we here at the Evyl Robot Empyre are fans of bacon. Probably the greatest bacon fan of the three of us is Teen Bot, who loves to receive bacon products and bacon themed products as gifts, even for major landmarks and holidays. Recently, he convinced his grandparents to pick up a jar of Baconnaise when he went to the grocery store with them.


At their house, I had the opportunity to try some of this on a sandwich. It has a very odd, vaguely bacon flavor which probably leans a little to hard on the salt and smoke flavors. Something that struck me as odd was this mark on the back label:


Wait. *head scratch* If I’m not mistaken, bacon is a pork product. And although I’m not Jewish, I do believe that pork is not included in a Kosher diet. Sooooooo, what’s in this crap?


Sorry about the focus. The above ingredients label reads: soybean oil, water, egg yolk, gluconic acid, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, cellulose gel, modified food starch (from corn), maltodextrin, cultured dextrose, sugar, dehydrated garlic, paprika, dehydrated onion, spice, xanthan gum, guar gum, gum accia, natural smoke flavor, natural flavors (contain milk), tocopherols (vitamin-E to protect flavor), calcium disodium EDTA (to protect flavor).

AND NO BACON!!! And, what is ‘cultured dextrose’? Can it speak more than one language and understand fine arts? I believe I’ll stick to regular mayonnaise and add bacon strips to my sandwich if I see fit. If you want really good mayo, you could even make your own at home. I’ve used a variation on Alton Brown’s recipe, which can be found here. That’s right, a few ingredients worth less than a buck can be converted into nine ounces of home made mayonnaise in about ten minutes. And, it’s fun! Make a little more than that, and it will keep for a few days in a jar in your refrigerator. Try it with your kids. I will admit that I use store-bought mayo, but it’s only because of the convenience. An unopened jar will store at room temperature for long beyond its printed expiration date, and when I want to use it, I have to wash the knife I spread it with without the addition of whatever I whipped it up with and in. Leave the Baconnaise to Jewish people who want to know what bacon vaguely tastes like without violating their faith.


There are standard items that I keep in the back of whatever car I have. Among these items you will find bottled water, a knife of some kind, first aid kit, emergency blankets, and some basic tools. Many of my normal friends think I’m weird because in the trunk of the Tactical Assault Compact Sedan resides one of these:

Folding shovel 002

“Why in the world do you keep a shovel in your trunk?” they ask me, in much the same way they ask, “Why on earth do you always have a knife in your pocket?” when they need something cut or “Why do you carry a flashlight with you?” when the power goes out. These seem like rhetorical questions to me. “Why” indeed…


I’m not the only one who sees these as essential gear. When we got everyone together for COGS 2013, it was cold and drizzly. On Saturday, some of our guests asked if they could start a fire behind the firing line. Not only did I endorse such actions, I pulled my trencher out of the trunk and put it to use. And, another one was produced from another trunk. With two people running these bad boys, you can have a nice sized fire pit in no time flat. When Jennifer and I go camping, we’ll often forget some piece of gear. We have left behind our air mattress or pillows, or had to run to town to grab a case of bottled water. But, the folding shovel is always in the car. There’s far more that you can do with these things than dig fire pits though. It is pretty well accepted that the U.S. G.I. E-tool makes a great weapon in hand-to-hand combat.


Indeed, with two sharpened edges on one side and two serrated edges on the other, not only will they handily cut through soil and hack through branches, they would be better than harsh words in a self-defense situation. Granted, if I was rushed by a dangerous animal in the woods, I’d rather drop the shovel and draw my .45, but failing that, I’d be glad for the shovel! A friend described to me how to use one of these as a stool to sit over a hole to poop in the woods. I couldn’t find a good diagram on how to work this, so I drew this crude* comic for an illustration:

e-tool poop stool

These things are compact. They will fit in the spare tire well with your spare, or in your jack storage. In a standard cab pickup, they take up virtually no space behind or under the seat. Currently, we only have the one car, but when we add a second and then a third when Teen Bot starts driving, they’ll get their own e-tools shortly after acquisition. Now, when anyone raises an eyebrow as to why I should have one of these in the trunk, my standard response is to ask them why they don’t have one in their car!

*Pun totally intended. I used to get in trouble for drawing stuff like this in school. Please pardon my crappy artwork. I know it kind of stinks. :P

Pink Trees & Other Delights

On Friday, I shared my musings about setting up a homebrew, full-spectrum game camera. Years ago, when we had a couple of 35mm cameras and a Polaroid in the house, we did happen through a couple of extremely cheapo digital cameras. At some point in time, Jennifer decided that she’d like something nicer. We wound up ordering an Olympus Stylus 600 for her.


This camera hasn’t been used in years, despite our best intentions. We cleared the XD card several weeks ago and found pictures from our last trip to Galveston, before it got blown away by the hurricane, just to give a little perspective. I’ve been wanting to try out a camera with no hot mirror filter, so I decided to hack into the Stylus (with Jennifer’s permission, of course). When I was a child, I was a creative yet hamfisted lad, and wound up ruining quite a few pieces of electronics in my attempts to mod them. Every time I tweak on my gear as an adult, I fear similar results. Even so, I pulled the sensor out of the Olympus:


And, I popped the filter off the sensor. From left to right, there’s the naked sensor, the hot mirror filter on its gasket, a bracket pad, and metal frame:


I got the camera all reassembled and confirmed that it functioned still, and took a couple of test pics:


Alright, so the color is a little off and the cat’s eyes are glowing quite brightly. This is hardly any unusual feat of photography. Hrm. I then did some test pictures in my bedroom with a black light. For reference, here’s my bedroom wall through my Nikon, lit only with the black light:


And then, here’s a similar frame through the modded camera:


It certainly sees more ultraviolet light than the other camera does! It’s safe to say that it’s picking up extra-human light ranges at this point. Full-spectrum camera plus black light and UV responsive materials equals psychedelic pictures:



As you certainly know, we’ve been having a stormy few weeks in Oklahoma, so I decided to see how the modded camera perceived our storm clouds in comparison to my Nikon. Here’s the skyline from the unmodded camera:


And in full spectrum:


The world goes from gray:


To a stunning display of pink, purple, and blue:


The real shock though, came when I took pictures of trees and other green plants.


Are those cotton candy trees? What looks like this in visible light:


Transforms to this when you allow for infrared capture:


As it turns out, chlorophyll reflects a lot of infrared.



So much so in fact, pretty much everything under the canopy is washed in its pink glow.



Here’s one of the roses in our garden:



And jalapeño blossoms:



When there isn’t much visible light available,


There’s still plenty of non-visible light to catch with the CCD sensor.


So, will this make for a great trail camera? It looks promising. Sadly, as cool as the little Stylus 600 was when new, it’s about a $10 ebay camera now. Even the homebrew camera people don’t support this one. It seems that it was always a little finicky about focusing, and never took the best pictures. When Jennifer upgraded to her Nikon P80, it was really because the Stylus took terrible product photos. As an experiment in full spectrum photography, I’m calling this a win so far.

I have ordered a used Nikon L14 which will be the basis on my new, full spectrum game camera. I have also ordered 100 ultraviolet LEDs and 1,000 infrared LEDs. My brother and I are going to put together some light arrays. I plan on doing the hot mirror hack to the L14 when it comes in and continue my experiment using artificial UV and IR lighting in conjunction with the full-spectrum Nikon as well as the Stylus. This whole project has been so much fun and has produced such fascinating images that I’m seriously considering picking up a used DSLR, hacking it with the full spectrum mod, and getting a handful of various lens filters for different effects. I’m not in a position to buy just yet, but I have tentatively shopped a few models. Anyone out there have an old D40 or D200 with a 18-55mm lens that you’d be willing to donate to the cause? ;) If not, I will likely start saving my pennies for one.