Hopefully Birthday Wishes

Jennifer and I have each been fans of “Weird” Al Yankovic’s work since we were children. His original songs are as well executed as they are silly, and I find his parodies to be not only witty, but often more complex and better performed than the originals he’s riffing on. Floating around the house, we have CDs, records, and even cassettes with his name on the label, as we’ve accumulated them over the years. More than once, Jennifer has expressed her desire to get a personal birthday greeting from Yankovic, owing much to the fact that his birthday is the same as hers. I’d very much like to see this happen. Considering yesterday’s release of his video “Lame Claim to Fame,” it seems only appropriate that I mention this now.

She has a very solid lame claim to fame of her own, and the shared birth date in question is just over three months out. We’re not expecting anything fancy here. Yankovic is no doubt a busy man, and nobody is expecting him to show up in a limo in person or anything of the sort, but a simple birthday greeting by mail, phone, or online would make her day and give her a great story that she’d be telling for years. Indeed, she’s never been shy about flying the flag on this lame claim, as she’ll mention it in conversation anytime either the subject of her birthday or Weird Al Yankovic himself, is brought up. Weird Al has a lot of fans that would also like such personal attention, but the vast majority of those don’t share a birthday in common with him. I will likely at least request a signed photo by mail, but I very much doubt that this option will get her a customized greeting. At that, I will ask you, my friends, fans, minions, and flying monkeys, please spread the word. If this message makes it far enough around the internet, perhaps Yankovic will get the message. If anyone out there has some strings they could possibly pull, please do so. Help me to take her lame claim to fame and complete it. Thank you!

St. Paddy’s Day Cheer Aftermath

Oklahoma news station KOCO reports the following:

OKLAHOMA CITY —The Myriad Gardens says a synthetic, organic compound was the substance used to turn their water features green this weekend.

Fluorescein is a compound often used as a fluorescent tracer. It was used in 1962 to dye the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Myriad Gardens officials said they will drain the lake to one-fourth its normal depth and will refill it using an underground stream and city water.

The garden is waiting on a final analysis because eventually the dyed water will be dumped into the city sewer system.

Garden officials said cleanup from the prank could cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

Authorities are still looking for the person responsible for the vandalism.

Alright, quit looking at me like that. Although I’d kind of like to claim credit for this ingenuous bit of hilarity, I haven’t been near the Myriad Gardens in years. The best prank I ever pulled off was when I parked a classmate’s car inside the band room in high school. We didn’t break or damage anything, and that was far more harmless fun, although the band director didn’t seem to appreciate it so much. But seriously, that’s a brilliantly demented mind that dumped fluorescein into a major water feature in the city to dye it green for the holiday! Whoever you are, well-played sir. But seriously, next time don’t do something that is so expensive to clean up and has the cops looking for you. 8O

*Corrected title to “Paddy’s” from “Patty’s.” Thanks for the catch, David. I can’t believe I did that!

Another Great Commercial

I’ve explained before that I love a good commercial. Uncreative commercials are boring at best and sometimes outright irritating, but when they are done right, they become a form of entertainment all of their own. When advertisement first hit YouTube heavily, I was not impressed. However in the current format, where you can opt to skip the commercial after the first fifteen seconds, it’s forced many marketers to step up their game. If they can sell you on the commercial in the first fifteen seconds, then you might just watch the rest. This approach causes the quality to come up overall. Check out this Totino’s commercial:

Classic! And, it’s holiday-appropriate too. To that end, do have a happy Halloween. Let’s get some kids all sugared up tonight!

KTKC 2013 Day 30

Unless you have been living under a rock, or you got here on a Google search for hot Japanese squid porn, because I just incorporated that phrase, you know that this month I have been Kilted to Kick Cancer. Again, I want to give huge thanks to all of you who have made donations to the cause. Here’s a picture of me playing a Native American flute.

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As I said in some previous post that I’m not going to link back to right now, in years prior, I have succumbed to the temptation to find an excuse not to wear the kilt during this magical time. Not so this year! Although I have worn leggings under my kilt for parasite protection in the field on two occasions, I have not worn a pair of pants. Unless you count this picture where I show how much weight you too can lose by simply wearing a kilt:

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But, I didn’t so much wear them as crawled into them and peek out the top. And in all fairness, I was wearing my kilt under the jeans when the photo was taken. But, my point is that I have been wearing a kilt. All. Month. Long. Ask the other participants if they have completely abstained from pants this month. I severely doubt it. Last I looked, I’m pretty sure I was in seventh place. I wonder if any of the six guys ahead of me has worn a kilt at the absolute exclusion of pants since the month of August. This is why you should be sending your money through my account. Well, that and this hunter safety orange head tube that I arranged on Teen Bot like a balaclava:

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As of this writing, we have nine hours until the close of KTKC. In previous years, it has really come down to the last minute on who took the most for the cause. I know that budgets have been tight this year. I also know that a lot of people get paid on Monday. So help a brother out! To entice you, here’s a pic of me doing my best Captain Morgan impression:

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Your guess is as good as mine as to whether I’d had more to drink than the photographer. I think we can agree that there have been some pretty good pictures this year. Truth be told, I’m looking forward to getting back into my pants. Tomorrow, I plan on wearing a pair of Wranglers. On Sunday, I’ll wear an Armani suit. But, until I shed my clothing to crawl into bed and go to sleep tonight, I will be wearing my 5.11 TDK. Please keep that in mind this afternoon and this evening. I will be kilted for the remainder of the month, as I have been for the entire month thus far. When you think of this, think of male cancers. It’s not to late to contribute. Please consider throwing some bucks at the cause for me. Thanks again.

KTKC 2013 Day 27, Recap from Yesterday

As you all know by now, the least sane of us have been kilted this month to raise awareness about male specific cancers, and to seek sponsorship in the endeavor to benefit related charities. Please feel free to throw some bucks at my Prostate Cancer Foundation page.

Sometime last week, we ran out of paycheck at the end of the bills. This happens more often in September than any other time of the year. Especially when we just upgraded phones. And, accidentally lost $500 to an embarrassing clerical error. Oops. On Wednesday, we ran out of coffee. Yesterday, I decided to use Coca Cola as my caffeine delivery system, but my body wasn’t having any of that nonsense.

For a while, my uncle was brewing green coffee, as he had read that it was the new, popular ‘superfood’ that would cure all that ails you. He got tired of drinking green coffee and gave me half a bag of green Brazilian santos that he no longer had any use for. Last summer was entirely too hot to roast coffee, as is produces entirely too much smoke to roast indoors, and consequently I still have quite a bit of this hanging around. So, yesterday, I dug out the roaster that I made out of a popcorn popper and a grill thermometer, and threw a pound of green santos in it on the grill’s side burner.

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Once the beans achieved the proper color, aroma, and sound, they went into the colander to remove the chaff.

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Update – sorry. I got twitchy on my publish button, apparently.

While the coffee beans were cooling, Jennifer and I put together a couple of smoked tri tip roast quiches with home grown parsnips, onions, and basil, topped with white cheddar. We baked one for dinner and threw the other in the freezer for next time. Over dinner we watched classic Doctor Who with Teen Bot. After Teen Bot went to bed, we pickled up jalapeño hybrids* and pear tomatoes from our garden with some garlic chunks. Although I’m a little disappointed at the anemic production of our garden over the last few years, yesterday reminds me that we really are producing quite a bit of our own stuff. As we sat and relaxed before bed, I commented that I wish my shoulder wasn’t bothering me so much because I’d like to get that couch cushion stitched shut finally.

Again, please do consider sponsoring me in this year’s KTKC drive. You can donate here. We only have three more days to go!

*Having planted our peppers too close together this year, they apparently cross-pollinated. Our best guess is that our jalapeños crossed with our habaneros, or possibly some kind of demon. They are bright red and wicked hot.

KTKC Day 24 – Goofing, Good Company, and Bad Jokes

There were two clouds high in the sky, just floating there and watching a more boisterous cloud lower in the sky. They watched it float this way and that, dart around, roll, and change shape.
Finally the one cloud said to the other, “He sure is nimbus, isn’t he?”
The other cloud groaned at the terrible pun and said, “Dude, are you cirrus?”

Yeah. I made that one up. Thank you. I’ll be here all week. So anyway, we made it out to the farm again on Saturday. Here is a game camera pic of the three of us with Mz. VRWC, who dropped in on us from out of town:

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And, Jennifer managed to catch me goofing off in front of her camera. If you can imagine that.

Kilt Vogue

Dance, dance, fashion, baby. Work it, move that thing, crazy. But, not all the kilted pics are of me goofing off.

Photos By Trail Camera

Alright, that one is actually from last week. And, maybe I was goofing off for most of this weeks pics.

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And just for funz, here’s an almost nightmarish game camera pic of Jennifer apparently getting ready for her impending machete massacre.

Photos By Trail Camera

There are reasons I want her at my back for the zombie apocalypse. So, we’re now well into the final week of KTKC 2013, and the donation totals are honestly looking pretty sad right now. Before I go any further, I want to send out a *huge* thanks to the few of you who have made donations to date. To the rest of you, come on, don’t make me call you bitches! You can’t let me finish this deal in seventh place! The KTKC crew is cumulatively not doing as well as we had hoped, but my recorded total is under $300 right now. Please don’t let it end like this. Hit the link and give to the cause as you can. I know that I originally set the donation goal unrealistically high, and I didn’t really expect to drag in totals like that, but I absolutely expected to top last year’s total of $2,263, at the very least. But, we’re not done yet. As long as you get your donations in by Monday, we can still do this. Again, here’s the link. Let’s kick cancer together!

Erin’s Big Day

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Many of you have probably by now learned Erin’s long-standing secret. If not, I would rather you read it in her words than to give it away here. I’ve known about Erin’s situation for a bit now. We had started to chat online and had gotten to be friends. One day, she said that she had something that she wanted to talk to me about that she was nervous about. When she did her big reveal, I remember asking what else she had for me. But that was it. I was a little surprised that she’d gotten so worked up about telling me. I told her that I didn’t think that her differences were such a big deal. Really, I felt bad for her that she thought I might reject her for it.

I don’t think of myself as politically correct in the least nor particularly tolerant, but I just didn’t see Erin’s big secret as… …well… …all that big a secret. And, it isn’t. There have been several occasions that I thought she was going to blow her secret and regret it after the fact. I remember one evening in IRC in particular when she kept dropping hints in the room. I just knew she was going to do it. I felt like I was running both sides, hitting up Erin in a back channel to say, “don’t do anything you’ll regret tomorrow!” and hitting the main room to announce something along the lines of, “Erin is my friend and I’m standing with her.” So, although I do feel for Erin’s inevitable and obvious discomfort for her current situation, I’m actually a little relieved that it’s all out in the open now. I hope and I do believe that this will prove to be positive for Erin. And, as I said before, I’ll stand with my friend Erin. She’s still the little sis that we have known.

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Zimmmerman Trial, What if?

What if George Zimmerman was a black man and Treyvon Martin was a white boy? What if when confronted, the teen had rushed at the armed adult menacingly? Let’s go back to 2009, to the trial of Roderick Scott, a 42-year-old black man who was legally carrying a handgun for self defense. Scott observed some teenage boys in his neighborhood who appeared to be breaking into cars parked on the street. He profiled them as criminals and confronted them, waiting on police response. Chris Cervini, a 17-year-old white teen rushed at him and screamed threateningly. Fearing for his life, Scott shot and killed Cervini. Scott was found not guilty of manslaughter of the boy on the grounds of self defense.

*Edited to add – I don’t know if the embedded video worked or not. Link is here.

This case was eerily similar to the Zimmerman case, and yet it didn’t blow up the national news. There were no riots. The President didn’t make a statement about it. The United States Attorney General didn’t get involved. The DOJ didn’t stage protests. There was no public outcry. People didn’t make threats to run out and kill black people as a response. Personally, I had not even heard of the case until recently, and I suspect I’m far from alone there. So, what if Zimmerman had been a black man and Martin had been a white teen? It would have never been a major issue, even taking place in New York where they have no Stand Your Ground law, unlike Florida.

The Zimmerman case was only racially charged by the reaction of others. The shooting itself had nothing to do with race. But, the crooked, sensationalist media inventing the laughable new term “White Hispanic“, NBC editing the 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound like a racist, even The Post Turtle himself claiming that had he a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin; it was all a calculated attempt to turn this into a racially dividing case. The media and high officials in government decided Zimmerman’s guilt long before his trial. It’s disgusting. What’s even more disgusting is all the soft-skulled lambs that have jumped on the bandwagon of the race baiters. Zimmerman will never lead a normal life now. I comfortably predict that this was merely his first self-defense shooting, only because there will nearly certainly be revenge attempts on his life in the future. When he is eventually murdered, the blood will be on the hands of the race baiters.

Camera Nerdiness

Since Jennifer and I are relatively new to hunting, we’ve gotten a lot of help from DanielS at Among the Leaves, who has been hunting for pretty much his entire life. He drove up to our property on several occasions to advise and help us reclaim the lost art that both of our families enjoyed only a couple generations ago. Daniel even loaned us one of his game cameras that he wasn’t using, a Moultrie I40. It has been in pretty constant use on the family farm in a location where the deer like to hang out.

The last time I changed out the card, the display was blank. I figured the batteries were depleted and took the camera home with me. When we checked the card, it was pretty clear that it had stopped taking pictures a few weeks earlier. Toward the end of the run of pics, there were blank files interspersed with the pictures, as if it tried to take pictures but the files didn’t save to the card properly. It seemed pretty obvious that it was batteries. I put six fresh batteries into the camera and found that the display screen was still not displaying. I could hear the camera click as if it was functioning though. Upon closer inspection, I found that it was not capturing images at all. The photo folder in the SD card was empty.

We’ve had some nasty storms lately, and I guess it was damaged in one of them. A little internet research showed that the screen is a pretty common problem with this model, which Moultrie will fix for about $40. Failure to capture images is a separate problem. Crap. Since I can get a brand new Moultrie camera delivered to my door for well under $100, this one is probably not worth fixing. Daniel was quite understanding.

Jennifer and I had recently discussed that we would like to add more cameras, but I guess we now need to work our way back up to a pair of them. In shopping the interwebtron for trail cameras, I kept seeing people referring to ‘homebrews’. My dad has spent much time on the back porch, homebrewing beer, but I didn’t have any idea what that had to do with hunting. A quick Google search dumped me into quite the rabbit hole. I have an insatiable desire to buy some $20 camera on ebay and hack it into a game camera.

Most game animal activity occurs in the dark. I have gotten a few daylight pics of deer, but nothing like the after dark activity! It seems like most of the homebrew camera guys rig theirs with factory or add on flash units, and just light up the deer when they least expect it. I can see how this would be effective, but it won’t work in my application. Since there are trespassers on the property from time to time, if they had a flash go off at them, I’m likely to have a camera stolen. Scaring the living crap out of some unsuspecting deer notwithstanding, my cameras have to be discreet because of two-legged critters. The commercial cameras take color photos during the day and infrared pictures at night with the aid of an IR LED array. I wondered how they did that.

Many trail cameras are put together in such a way that there is an articulated light filter over the sensor inside the camera. When the light sensor detects that it is bright out, the filter covers the sensor with a hot mirror that blocks out all but the visible light spectrum. When it’s dark out, the filter switches over to an infrared filter and lights up its array. What a marvel that they can use such an impressive instrument in a device that they can sell for so cheap! Well, as it turns out, all digital cameras have a sensor capable of recording light outside of our range of sight.

You see, the light spectrum that is detectable to our eyes runs from around 400 to 700 nanometers. Below 400 nm we get into Ultraviolet range before it give way to X-rays, and above 700 nm is infrared range. 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 top and bottom of the range.

In fact, the trick thing to do among some of the photography geeks is to have a camera shop rip out the hot mirror from your old DSLR and replace it with an IR filter when you upgrade your camera so you have a dedicated IR camera. In fact, there are some folks out there that have done similar hacks at home to cheaper cameras.

Of course, I wondered whether the sensor needed a filter at all. What would be the harm in letting it record visible light simultaneously with infrared and ultraviolet? A little more digging revealed that this is called “full spectrum” and is also practiced among photographers. It appears that when you go full-spectrum with a digital camera colors can get funky. I can live with this. If I built an unfiltered trail cam that ran an IR array at night, I’d get my day pics and my night pics, and not have an obvious flash that will scare the crap out of animals and direct meth heads to smash or steal my camera. This is a good thing even if some of the pics are a little trippy. I’ll just pretend the deer have been dropping acid.

This all brings up another good point. There are things that IR and UV are useful beyond what I’ve mentioned yet. And regardless of utility, it would just be fun to have a full-spectrum camera to tote around. I sourced some very affordable IR and UV LEDs and have conspired with my brother to make a light accessory. I believe that I’m going to build myself a full-spectrum game camera and also a full-spectrum point-and-shoot from one of the cameras we have laying around the Evyl Robot Empyre. If this is as much fun as I suspect, I’ll have updates for you later!