Thursday, February 28, 2013

A musical interlude…

Carrie Underwood: Two Black Cadillac’s

Listening to this song on the radio I was thinking more in the realm of the Soprano’s.  Watching the video, however, we find ourselves transported instead to the world of Steven King!  Bye bye indeed!

Ca$h Mob: West Concord 5 & 10

Saturday March 2, 2013
Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord, Massachusetts

I plan on being there at some point during the day.  Will you?

A cash mob effort for West Concord’s 5 & 10

I first ‘discovered’ the West Concord 5 & 10 around thirty years ago.  I was working in town and would sometimes walk past the store on my way to the train station.  Back then the trains were usually three Budd RDC’s being pulled by an FP-10 or similar locomotive in push-pull service between Fitchburg and Boston.  The trains have changed, but the 5 & 10 is still the same.  The economy has been hard on everyone and, according to the report, that combined with the closing of a key supplier, has been especially hard on the 5 & 10.  Let’s see what we can do to give a good honest family owned store a hand.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Because I can...

So Mum and I went out to Friendly's for lunch.  We both had the seafood platter.  Not unusual for Mum, but unprecedented for me.  You see, I know a little too much about some of my meal's place in the food chain.  I may have to revise my position regarding what things I won't eat.  Just maybe I might be a little more inclusive in the future.  It was good!

Anywho, the service was also good.  So naturally I left a nice tip...

Because I can...

Sorry the picture is so fuzzy.  I'm still getting the hang of the camera in my new cell phone.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Standing on a corner

In Winslow Arizona
Such a fine sight to see

The only thing missing is

A girl, my lord
In a flat-bed Ford
Slowing down to take a look at me

This “photo” is a screen grab from Google Street View.  I heard a cover of that old Eagles song on the radio today and finally got ‘round to looking it up.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I don't want to go to Disney World anymore

A wheelchair bound three year old girl with spina bifida gets singled out by TSA for ‘additional screening’ and even has her stuffed animal confiscated.

To borrow a line from Weer’d: Disband the TSA yesterday!

Via Rand Paul on FaceBook

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Thought for the day:

What is the penalty for presenting false identity papers for the purpose of obtaining a top government security clearance?

The document is a PDF.  To highlight the pertinent section I had to do a screen capture to include it here.  Link to the original.

So the answer to my question is that it is a felony punishable by a fine and/or up to five years in prison.

Here is an example of a false identity paper:

Another screen capture of a PDF.  Link to the “original” here.

Monday, February 11, 2013

What's wrong with this picture?

You'd never know to look at the headline, but that headline actually takes you to three daisy-chained articles.  And they made the State of the Union second banana to a dog show!

Tee hee!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Playing with new toys!

So this afternoon I downloaded a copy of GIMP and I’ve been playing with it ever since.  Thanks Wolfman for the tip!  This looks like exactly the kind of tool I’ve been hoping for since PhotoShop is out of reach for my budget right now.  I expect it to take quite a while to even discover all the tools this program offers, much less to master them.  So far I’ve been messing around with the perspective adjustment tool. 

Here are a couple of samples:

I call this first picture ‘The Motor Pool dun Froze!’

Here is what the camera saw:

Here is what my eye wants the picture to be:

Had I taken the time to set up a view camera I could have achieved that image on film.  (And then would have had to find someone who could process it for me since all my darkroom gear is in storage…)  Being able to make the adjustments electronically is much simpler and doesn’t require waiting on the negatives getting back from the lab.

Comparing the two images:

In the first all of the supports for the awning seem to be converging as they get closer to the ground.  In the background my neighbor’s home seems to be down by the stern and listing badly to port.  It just doesn’t look right.

In the second version made from the same camera original the verticals have been corrected and the neighbor’s house is sitting level as it should be.  I had to crop the image slightly because the edges became keystoned as the image was manipulated.  This version looks much better to my eye – even though it is not exactly what the camera originally recorded.  It seems to me to be much truer.

The ‘verticals’ that aren’t in the railing in the lower left that your eye wants to make vertical but can’t are actually out of plumb.  The railing was installed parallel to the slope of the ramp so the top railing is not actually horizontal and the uprights are perpendicular to the angle of the ramp.  So even though it looks wrong it really isn’t.

This second image shows a much more drastic correction.

Here is what the camera saw:

Here is what my eye wants this picture to be:

Same kind of thing.  The camera was not square to the very rectilinear subject and the parallax in the recorded image really shows it.  But after a bit of ‘tweaking’ with GIMP it looks at least a little bit more like a catalogue photo for my recently acquired file cabinet.  There is still a bit of barrel distortion and I may have scrunched it a bit vertically, but I’d say it’s not too bad for my first time playing with this software.

BTW: In that first pair of photos the retired phone company van’s given name is Mabell (though she prefers to be called Butch…), the Westy is Thunder (the very first Vanagon to have his Floppy Mirror Syndrome cured by my open source and free for anyone to use rubber washer technique), and hiding in the background doing a very credible imitation of a snow drift is my world famous Punch Buggy, Galileo.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Brain dump

So I’ve had this blog post floating around in my head much of this afternoon.  But I haven’t been able to get myself to sit down and write it.  I shot a few pictures to go along with it – but even though I used the big camera they didn’t come out to my liking.  Not having any fancier image processing software than MS Photo Editor I can’t do any of the dodging and burning these snow pictures so desperately need. 

Anyway, we had this big storm.  One of the news channels said it was the fifth biggest snow storm on record in Boston.  It seems to me like many other notable snow storms I’ve lived through.  It’s winter in New England.  Some times it snows.  Last winter and so far this one (that little mess back in October not withstanding) we’ve had it easy.  Made up for the year before when I’d run out of places to hide the, um, places to put the snow…

* cough *

Now the funny thing about our friend Nemo is that I was concerned that I’d wind up with two or three feet of snow on the roof and only be able to clear the edges with my roof rake.  You see, it’s supposed to rain on Monday and that soaking into several feet of snow on the roof could spell disaster.  Fortunately this was a very cold and thus dry powdery snow.  The wind cleared the roof for me.

So how much did we actually get?  That depends on how you look at it…  On the one hand there was bare ground in my yard this afternoon.  And not five feet away there was a drift over three and a half feet deep piled up in front of my Westy.

Out front in the main driveway I’d say a good number was about 29 inches.  That was the deeper part of the snow field I had to move to get my flea van out of the carport.  Excuse me “out from under the awning.”  Carports are verboten according to the park rules.

Sadly there was one casualty from my efforts at digging out from Nemo: my little Toro snow blower has gone the way of most mechanical things when actually used.  I don’t know if the belt snapped of if a shear pin failed, but after doing yeoman’s work throughout most of the job its motor now spins freely and the auger does not.  I can move the auger by hand but the motor and auger are no longer talking to one another.

I wonder if I can get Pixar to replace my snow blower?  Nemo was their storm after all…

Friday, February 8, 2013

Must be a slow news day.

Somebody in the MSM is reporting on the David Gregory non-prosecution fiasco:

Prosecutors: Citizens demanded NBC host be charged for gun in D.C.

That headline should have read:

Prosecutors: Citizens demanded NBC host be charged for illegal magazine in D.C.

At least they are talking about it.

Nemo’s finding us…

How can you tell there is a storm coming?  Try to find a loaf of bread or gallon of milk at your local grocery store.

I shot that picture with my cell phone last night at our local store.  Were I to engage in what passes for reporting in the MSM I could make the claim that the whole store was just as decimated.  It wasn’t.  The bread isle shown in the picture had been pretty well picked clean and the 1% and 2% milk were gone, but the rest of the store looked pretty much like any average Thursday evening.  Even in the milk isle there was plenty of whole milk and skim if that’s what you were looking for.  We usually use 1%, but we can easily substitute whole and not be any worse for the ware.  Mum and I decided to do our normal Saturday morning shopping last night to get it out of the way just in case “Nemo” actually lived up to the hype the media’s been giving it over the past couple of days.

As for the storm itself?  It’s been snowing here at the HerrBGone Homestead V2.0 for several hours.  My work made what in my estimation was the correct decision yesterday and closed the office for the storm.  I’ve had my second cup of tea and once this is posted I’ll go fix myself a couple of hotdogs for lunch.  After that I’ll see if there is enough global warming in the driveway to necessitate my giving it a quick pass with the snow blower.

Other than that, so far it’s been a pleasant day off.  I hope things are going as well for you whether Nemo’s found you or not.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What was that about interesting times?

So I’m driving along in my van on my way home from work. 

I’m on a road that parallels the big road that I’m about to get on when I notice a ‘blue light special’ on the big road and he looks to be in a hurry.  Well, being the nice guy I am I grabbed the mic to let the folks already on the big road know he’s coming.  You know, as sort of a public service. 

I’m also listening to my mobile scanner while we’re at it.  I managed to get a job out of that a long time ago.  But that’s a story for another post.

So I key up the mic and squeal!!!   Damn!  Feedback from the new speaker I just added to the scanner.  The radios are cross-talking somehow.  I’ll have to look into that.  Sometime when I’m not driving.  I could shut off the scanner and put out the call but by then the cop will be long gone.  Guess I’ll stay on the side and just listen to both radios.

Mere moments later I hear this cop on the scanner sounding like he’s in a panic. 

Officer: There’s fire shooting out of the roof!

Dispatch: (garbled)

Officer: Yes!  It’s on fire!  Get the fire department here right now! 

Dispatch: What’s your location?  Where are you?

Officer: Victory Motors!  (garbled)  There’s fire coming out the roof!  Get the fire department down here!

While the above dialogue was reconstructed from several hours old memory, and I was driving at the time and not exactly taking notes, it captures the gist of the conversation as I heard it.

Victory Motors.  That name sounds vaguely familiar.

I bought a pickup truck a couple of decades ago at a Victory Auto Sales.  But they’ve been out of business since shortly after the transaction.  Oh well.  I can’t place it off the top of my head.  I’ll probably Google it when I get home if I think of it.

Dispatch: (garbled) yes, I have five more State Troopers about a minute away.  Tell me where you need them deployed.

Holly crap, it must be big…

Oh look, that’s probably where the much more local Statey was going.  There are blue lights up ahead round about the ramp I was going to take.  And of course there’s a sea of brake lights to counterpoint the flashing blue of the cruiser.

Fairly typical rush hour traffic actually.

So we finally get up to the ramp and it looks to be moving. 

This is one of those ramp complexes where you have two lanes of ramp traffic off to the side and the travel lanes get backed up anyway because nobody wants to leave any room for the other guy to merge after the ramp.

At least we’re moving.  Hey wait!  Why are we suddenly NOT moving?  The three cars immediately in front of me merge left and go around the SUV and car that were in front of them.  A few moments later I get an opening in the traffic, follow suit and get an eye full of why they’re stopped.  Oh my…  They took the concept of ‘merge’ a little too literal!  Those aren’t going to be driving away except on a couple of flatbeds!

Looks like the cop is about done with the disabled he was talking to as I pull up in back of him with my four-ways on.  I climbed down from my van as he walks back to me.  “You’ve got a rear-end crash back up the ramp” says I tossing a thumb over my shoulder.  He looks past me and asks if I was involved.  “Nope.”  “OK then.  I gotta back up…”  I climb back in the van and head along on my way.

And I haven’t even mentioned the note I was about to leave under the wiper of the car next to me in the company parking lot because I noticed the right front tire was almost flat.  Didn’t need the note after all because the car’s human showed up while I was writing.

Not my usual boring commute…

So anywho, I finally got round to checking the news websites to see if there was anything about that fire.




Holly crap!  I know that place!  I’ve bought stuff there!  I’ve chatted with that guy!  What’s more, a friend of mine used to own that white house in the background of the ‘live remote’ that is the top story at the moment on NECN!

Small world…  And Fitchburg PD has a powerful repeater!