Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So, How Was Big Bend?

In a word: breathtaking. More photos to come...

EDIT: My mistake. It was Maverick Road, not Mustang Road.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sad truck :(

Thanks, quail.

Happy truck. :)

View from the Southeast Rim

Wish you were here

Friday, August 27, 2010


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Smackdown: Blue Bell vs. Breyer's

From Slash/Food:

The ultimate face-off. Upon first tasting the Homemade Vanilla, we found it was one of the most smooth and custard like ice creams we've ever had. In fact, it was so rich a velvety, you could actually taste the heavy cream. When compared with our original number one, we can admit that Blue Blue was a better blended experience -- milk, sugar, cream and all. However, we will say this. We still believe Breyer's has a stronger vanilla taste and we like that fact that it doesn't have high fructose corn syrup in it (Blue Bell does), but the sweet ending of the Homemade Vanilla brought us back to our childhood and we almost finished the container in one sitting.
Overall Winner: Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla

Why, oh why, does Blue Bell use HFCS? Still, congrats Blue Bell.

And thanks to Matt.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Nobley in the Sky with Diamonds

Respectfully submitted as the best photo I've ever taken...


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Study: Astronauts as weak as 80-year-olds in space

From Brietbart:

A new study shows that astronauts can become as weak as 80-year-olds after six months at the International Space Station.
The research raises serious health concerns as NASA contemplates prolonged trips to asteroids and Mars. Weakness could be an issue during an emergency landing on Earth or an urgent spacewalk on the red planet.

The Marquette University biologist who led the study stresses that the accelerated space aging is temporary. Astronauts' muscles recover after a few months back on Earth.

And he thinks astronauts can avoid becoming weaklings with more research and the right exercise equipment in space.

Fascinating. And also scary because alien races obviously don't have the same problem. I mean, on any given episode of Star Trek they were strong enough to throw Ensign Pick-Your-Own-Name into a wall. And now we find out that Captain Kirk is helplessto stop them? Geez. What are we going to do now?

At least we have Spock, right? He's only half human, so that means he'd be as strong as a 40-year-old. And that's not too bad, right?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Harrison Ford's Finest Acting Moment

Happy Friday... and you're welcome.

Eggs from Iowa

From the Washington Post:

A salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds and led to the recall of hundreds of millions of eggs from one Iowa firm will likely grow, federal health officials said Thursday.

Much of the investigation so far has been centered on restaurants in California, Colorado, Minnesota and North Carolina.

The eggs were distributed around the country and packaged under the names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp.

Buy local, folks. Nothing good comes from mass-produced food from several states away. In fact, maybe it's time to give the 100-mile diet another look.

Speaking of which, this Saturday is Home Sweet Farm.

"Those Voices Don't Speak for the Rest of Us"

Damn, I miss Reagan.

I really ought to consider just turning this blog over to Matt... Thanks, Matt.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Genius post from Seth Godin:

Subtle is a cousin of beautiful.

Subtle design and messaging challenge the user to make her own connections instead of spelling out every detail. Connections we make are more powerful than connections made for us. If Amazon and Zappos had been called "reallybigbookstore.com" and "tonsofshoes.com" it might have made some early investors happy, but they would have built little of value.

Subtle details demonstrate power. Instead of being in an urgent hurry to yell about every feature or benefit, you demonstrate confidence by taking your time and allowing people to explore. They don't put huge banners on the Hermes store, announcing how good the silk is and how many famous people shop there...

And subtle messaging communicates insider status. I don't have to say, "Hey I was in Skull and
Bones too! You should hire me!" Instead, a subtle (secret) handshake does all the talking that's needed.

It's tempting to turn the dial all the way to 11, the make everything just a bit louder. The opposite is precisely what you might need.

I'm aware of the oxymoronic nature of spelling out details about subtlety. At least I didn't explicitly point out the Spinal Tap reference.

Hierarchy of Robot Needs

Wednesday Weirdness

"Straight up awesome" pretty well sums it up.

Thanks to Matt for starting my day off on a weird foot.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Open letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

Remember that new type if glass that you touted in the iPhone 4 debut video that was so strong? FAIL.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ponte's Diner

If you happen to be traveling through Fairfield, Tx, I highly recommend Ponte's Diner.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Deconstructing the MS BS

Microsoft has launched a "PC versus Mac" site to try to hold back the flood of people - especially students - switching to Macs. In a particularly brazen (and kinda funny) move, they've chosen to use on of the hallmarks of the Mac as a selling point - that "it just works."

And is it me, or is that chick just creepy looking?

Here are their selling points (with my commentary):

Macs might spoil your fun.
There are some things you simply can't do out of the box with a Mac like watch, pause, rewind, and record TV like a DVR.
I've yet to see a PC that you can watch like a TV and which not only picks up over-the-air TV signal, but also records it right out of the box, although I'd bet that there are a few. But to make it sound as if they all do it is as misleading as it comes.

It's showtime.
You can't get a Mac that ships with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. You can with PCs running Windows 7.

True. You can't get a Mac that has a Blu-Ray player built-in. Point one for Microsoft. See my comments on the TV tuner above, but just because ONE MODEL from ONE MANUFACTURER comes with a TV tuner, can it really be touted as "PCs come with a TV tuner?" This one doesn't. Or this one. Or this one. And those are just the first three I happened to click on. That's a bait-and-switch, pure and simple. Macs don't come with Memory Stick readers, but modern Macs do come with SD Card slots. Microsoft is really splitting hairs by touting Sony's proprietary Memory Stick. I wonder how many PC models actually come with them, outside of models built by Sony? And once again, Macs don't have 3G wireless built in. But most PCs don't either. But not a disclaimer to that effect to be found anywhere on the page.

Game on!
Most of the world's most popular computer games aren't available for Macs. And Macs can't connect to an Xbox 360. PCs are ready to play.

What's most? 50%? Granted, the NEWST games aren't always available right away on the Mac, but that's certainly not true in all cases. It's widely known that Macs aren't built for hard-core gamers (but I bet a good MacPro would be a screamin' game machine), so another point for Microsoft on this one, sort of. And no, Macs can't connect to the X-Box 360. But who cares, really? I've never understood why one would want to hook a computer up to a game console, anyway. But to imply that games can't be played on a Mac is just wrong. I don't game anymore, but back in the day, I used to play Starcraft, Civilization, Diablo (and Diablo II), and Warcraft on my Mac. And I still can today if I wanted to.

Direct TV connection.
Most Macs can't hook up to your TV unless you buy a converter dongle. Many PCs running Windows 7 are designed to connect directly to TVs, so you can watch movies and see photos on the big screen.

Notice the language here: MOST MACS, MANY PCs. The truth here is that MOST PCs won't hook up to your TV without an adapter, either. And before I got my AppleTV for Christmas a couple of years ago, I used my Mac Mini to watch movies and see photos on my big screen with no problem at all. Outright deceptive.

Macs can take time to learn.
The computer that's easiest to use is typically the one you already know how to use. While some may say Macs are easy, the reality is that they can come with a learning curve. PCs running Windows 7 look and work more like the computers you're familiar with, so you can get up and running quickly.

This one is hilarious to me simply because Windows is a Mac OS knock-off from the very beginning. And it's been widely reported that Windows 7 used the Mac OS as its inspiration. And "get up and running quickly?" Hah! Just try to set up a PC from unboxing to work-ready in under 15 minutes. I've done it repeatedly with Macs, most recently with my new Mac Pro at work, which took a total of 7 minutes to get up and running out of the box. If you count the (amazingly easy) transfer of files from my old machine, it was 45 minutes - applications, documents, preferences, bookmarks, EVERYTHING. Try that with a PC.

Working smoothly.
Things just don't work the same way on Macs if you're used to a PC. For example, the mouse works differently. And many of the shortcuts you're familiar with don't work the same way on a Mac.

The MOUSE works differently? BULLSHIT! I've used PC mice for years. That arguement may have had merit ten or twelve years ago when the Mac still only recognized single-button mice. But I've been using the right-click for more than six years now. And it works EXACTLY the same way on a Mac as on a PC. Even Apple's Magic Mouse works on a PC. And as for "shortcuts" not not working the same on a Mac... buh-huh? Maybe it's because on a Mac things are easier to find so you don't need to have all kinds of crazy shortcuts everywhere. Flat out false. And shame on you, Microsoft.

Use Windows 7 to simplify your life.
Windows 7 was designed to make it simpler to do the tasks you do every day, with features that the Mac doesn't have. For example, the new Snap feature makes it easy to view two documents side by side.
Huh. Two documents side by side???? Well SHAZAM, that IS cool! Oh, wait. Macs have had Expose since 2004, which lets you view open windows, documents and applications side by side with the press of a button. And if Snap is a new feature, why does it even exist if people are already using its functionality without it?

Touch and go.
Unlike Macs, many PCs running Windows 7 support Touch, so you can browse online newspapers, flick through photo albums, and shuffle files and folders—using nothing but your fingers. PCs with a fingerprint reader even let you log in with just a swipe of your finger.

Supporting Touch and having a touch-enabled computer are two completely different things. How many laptops (or desktops) have touch screens? I've yet to see one in the wild. Hell, I've yet to see one in a computer store. Honestly, MS... You're trying to use TOUCH as point against the company that makes the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch? Desperate and ineffective. No one thinks of Microsoft when they think "touch." They think of mobile devices, and probably ones made by Apple. And BTW, Microsoft, Mac portables (MacBooks and MacBook Pros) have trackpads that allow people to duplicate the functionality of their iPhones and iPads. Heck, there's even a new Magic Trackpad that allows the same functionalities on desktop machines, too. So, yeah, I guess all Macs fall into the "touch" category now, too.

Macs don't work as well at work or at school.
If most of the computers in your office or school run Windows you may find it harder to get things done with a Mac.

Wow. Wait. Let me catch my breath. Oh, wow. So they're honestly trying to say that if your company or school uses PCs that your Mac will somehow be crippled? Not unless it's running Windows in Boot Camp and catches a virus. I can personally attest to exactly the OPPOSITE. I've got the only Mac in our company - for more than five years now - and I have no problems getting my work done, and hella-quick. Macs have always played well with PCs. The same cannot be said of PCs. To this day, Windows boxes refuse to acknowledge Macs on a network. That's on Microsoft, not on Apple.

Sharing documents and spreadsheets.
If you use Apple's productivity suite, sharing files with PC users can be tricky. Your documents might not look right and your spreadsheets might not calculate correctly.

A very fine distinction, but true. If you create a Keynote presentation and try to export it to Powerpoint, it will, in fact, look like shit. But that's because Powerpoint is a shitty piece of software that, frankly, Microsoft should be ashamed to be charging for. Try importing a Powerpoint presentation into Keynote. It still looks shitty, but that's because it looked shitty in Powerpoint. And yet again, this is a red herring that belongs in 1995. Macs and PCs have been able to seamlessly share - and open and edit - Word, Excel and Powerpoint files for more than a decade with no problems. I do it at work all the time. Shameless, Microsoft. You make a lot of money from Office for Mac. You know that it works just fine.

Giving presentations.
You'll have to buy a separate hardware dongle to plug your Mac into a standard VGA projector. Most PCs with Windows 7 hook up easily.

Nice argument. "Most PCs use the same crappy, outdated technology that they've had for more than twenty years." It's a chicken-and-egg question: do projectors still have a VGA port because crappy PCs still use them (despite better, digital options) or do crappy PCs still have VGA ports because projectors still have them? It doesn't matter, though, because MOST PCs running Windows 7 will still be showing the presentation using Powerpoint, so it's going to look like shit, anyway.

Protecting your drives.
On a Mac, out of the box, you can only encrypt your home folder. With Windows 7 Ultimate, you can encrypt your entire hard drive and even USB drives. So your stuff can be safer wherever you go.

Whatever. The fact is that most everything the typical Mac user uses - documents, movies, music and preferences (such as bookmarks and web cache) are stored in the Home folder. Applications and system files aren't encrypted, but a simple password for each user (which CAN be set up directly out of the box) can effectively protect the machine from most prying eyes.

Macs don't like to share.
At least half the fun of having a computer is sharing the stuff that matters to you with other people. This is harder to do on a Mac.

My head just frigging exploded. Have you ever tried to set up sharing on a PC? I have. Never mind that it depends on which "edition" you have installed as to whether it can share at all. The setup process is confusing, convoluted and the exact opposite of easy. On a Mac, all you have to do is check a single check box.

Securely share your movies, music, and photos.
With a Mac, it's harder to set up secure sharing for your photos, music & movies, documents, and even printers with other computers on your home network. With HomeGroup, it's easy to connect all the computers in your house running Windows 7.

One word: bonjour, aka "zero configuration sharing." It's ridiculously easy to share ANYTHING on a network securely with a Mac. I've been doing it for over a decade, both at home and in the office. Streaming movies and music from another computer is as simple as opening iTunes and clicking on a shared library. And it works on a PC, too, foo. It's almost as if they're not even trying to tell even a partial truth anymore...

It's easy with a PC.
On a Mac, you have to manually set up photo sharing, manually set up music and movie sharing, manually set up file sharing, and manually set up printer sharing. It's easy to automatically and securely network with all the computers in your house when they're running Windows 7.

I give up. See my previous comments. All of this is just false. And you know what? Al the computers don't have to be running the most recent version of Mac OS in order to share. Suck on that, Microsoft.

Macs might not like your PC stuff.
Plain and simple, if you're a PC user, lots of your favorite stuff just might not work on a Mac. With PCs outselling Macs 10 to 1, the reality is that most computer software is developed to run on PCs.

Yeah. Macs downright hate .exe files. And viruses. And spyware. And malware, all of which are developed to run on PCs.

Hassle-free files at work.
Apple's productivity suite file formats won't open in Microsoft Office on PCs. This can be a real hassle for Mac users sharing work documents with PC users.

That's true. Word on the PC won't even offer the ability to import a Pages document. Excel won't open a Numbers document, and I've already shat all over Powerpoint. But the truth is that most Mac users don't use Apple's production suite. They use Office for the Mac, which will integrate seamlessly with their PC counterparts. And the fact that Microsoft won't offer compatibility with Mac documents isn't Apple's fault. It's Microsoft's.

Programs you already know.
If there's a Mac version of a program you need, you'll have to buy it again and relearn how to use it on a Mac.
Not exactly. Word on the Mac does work differently that its PC brother, but word is that's a GOOD thing. Honestly, have you TRIED to use Word on the PC lately? It's crap. Most applications that are available on both the Mac and the PC work exactly the same way, although the interface may be different (such as Photoshop). But Dreamweaver on the Pc will output html code just as well (or as poorly) as on a Mac. You'll just have a better experience using it on a Mac. And in the case of typography, there's a very BIG difference between the Mac and the PC and how it renders type. PC type simply looks like ass.

Macs don't let you choose.
PCs give you a lot more choice and capabilities for your money. You can get the PC you want, in the size and color you want, with the features you want. You just don't have as many options with a Mac.

Memo to Microsoft: the '90s are over. And while PCs languished in beige hell for years, Apple created the iMac in an array of colors. People stick their PCs under their desk for a reason: THEY'RE UGLY.

Loaded with features.
You can't get a Mac with a Blu-ray player, TV tuner, Memory Stick reader, or built-in 3G wireless. PCs running Windows 7 often come with features that aren't available on even the highest end Macs, including Blu-ray, eSATA, multi-format card readers, Touch, and mobile broadband.

Oh, hell. Not this again. Regurgitate much? Not counting on anyone actually reading all your backwash, Microsoft? See above. Repeat as necessary.

Available in your favorite color.
Macs only come in white or silver. PCs are available in a full spectrum of colors across a range of price points.

Nice selling point, Microsoft... "Macs only come in tasteful colors." And it's not true, either. MacBooks also come in black, liars. And there are also Macs "cross a range of price points," from the dirt-cheap (but still very capable) Mac Mini all the way up to the powerhouse beast 12-core Mac Pro. True, there are no $200 Mac laptops or netbooks. But you get what you pay for, even with PCs. But thanks for not trotting out the old "Macs are more expensive than PCs" garbage. Ever since the switch to Intel processors in 2005, it simply isn't true, either (not that that has stopped you in the rest of your Mac-bashing site).

More digital media.
With PCs running Windows 7, you can play the videos and music stored on your home PC while you're on the go, for free. Apple charges $99/year for its online service.

There are free alternatives to Mobile Me (which, come on, Apple, is quite overpriced). But let's deconstruct that sentence. "You can play videos and music stored on your home PC while you're on the go..." Kinda like with an iPod? With a Mac, you can copy over the files and play them anywhere, too. Or are they trying to say that you can stream the video and music from your home computer to another device somewhere? You can do that with a Mac. But once again, Microsoft, don't let the truth stand in your way. Your carefully chosen words and phrases aren't fooling me, although they might fool my grandma and other people who go into Best Buy and say "I need a computer that has the WIFIs."

Frankly, I'm surprised that the FTC doesn't have something to say about all the blatantly false and misleading things contained in Microsoft's anti-Mac page. There's not a disclaimer to be found. But at the end of it all, Microsoft is just making themselves look silly. More and more people - especially students who know how to do all this stuff if they want to - are using Macs. And those people know that Microsoft is full of shit. And just like I'm doing, they'll tell they're friends. Word of mouth is more powerful than any website.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


What do you notice about this?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Obama Addresses the Boy Scout Jamboree

And judging from the video, I'd say they definitely reacted with "enthusiasm, skill and determination."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What is Science?

Kayci asked yesterday what science is. This was my answer:

"Science is the art of trying to figure out how God made things work."

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Trustworthiness of Beards

This one is for Mark.

The Bed Intruder Phenomenon

Check out the news report first.

Then, marvel at the Bed Intruder Song...

And finally, the ever-funny AutoTune the News version:

Huge, mad props to Matt for sharing what is soon destined to become a huge phenomenon, I'm sure. I bet there's a sit-com in the works at this very moment...


Thanks to Ron.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Screw What the People Want

Yesterday, in his decision to strike down a 2008 law that was overwhelmingly approved by California voters, one man - a judge - has basically declared that a society no longer has the right to decide what it deems acceptable and unacceptable.

Forget for a moment that the law was about gay marriage. If it had been a law outlawing the picking of noses in public places and the public accepted the law, then that should be taken as "the will of the people." We, as citizens, have every right to determine what we will and will not stand for in our society. Take slavery, for instance. When the country was founded slavery was legal. We had a very bloody referendum (in part) on slavery in the civil war. The war was won by the north, and the will of the victors prevailed and slavery was abolished. Did everyone agree with that decision? No. Almost half the United States didn't agree, but they were defeated. And the course of our society was established and made clear - we will no longer tolerate slavery.

But fast forward to 2010. In 2008, a proposition was passed by a majority in California 52.24% to 47.76% saying that the people of California did not approve of gay marriage and that they wanted to define - at least in California - marriage as being between one man and one woman. And yet the will of the people and the very right of the people to set the course of their society was challenged in court. And yesterday's ruling effectively nullifies a legal election - one of the very facets of a free society. Essentially, it's one man saying he knows better than more than seven million citizens.

And that's wrong. Especially when you consider that the judge in the case is one of the few openly gay federal judges and is clearly biased on the issue.

And let's not forget that Proposition 8 was in direct response to and overturned a State Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

As far as gay marriage is concerned, the argument that the pro-gay marriage crowd is using is that they are being unfairly discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. They say they are guaranteed by the US Constitution the right of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Let's examine that for a moment.

Are they being denied life? No. Are they being stoned to death when they announce to the public that they're gay? Of course not.

Are they being denied liberty? Not really. No one is telling them that they can't be gay. Society is telling them that it only recognizes marriage as being between a man and a woman. And one man and one woman. Accordingly, society doesn't approve of polygamy. It's society's right to choose.

Are they being denied their pursuit of happiness? Well, that depends on the definition of "happiness," doesn't it, and more specifically, what the Founding Fathers meant by it in the Declaration of Independence. I can't say it any better than Charles Colson:
Ask most people what happiness means, and they will talk about feeling good, or about things that give them pleasure. This is especially unfortunate here in America, since “happiness” is an essential concept in our nation’s founding. We all know the famous words of the Declaration of Independence: that all men are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among these the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Well, this does not mean that humans are endowed with the right to feel good, or to act in a way that pleases them. Robbing a bank may make thieves feel happy, but to claim the right to pursue that line of work would be absurd. Happiness is not self-gratification.

So what, then, does happiness mean? Our founding fathers understood the pursuit of happiness to mean the pursuit of a virtuous life. This concept of happiness comes from the Greek word eudaimonia—which refers to a life well-lived, a life rooted in truth. That is what happiness means, and that is what every man and woman has an inalienable right to pursue—a virtuous life.

But I guess for me, it comes down to this: people shouldn't receive special rights or privileges for the way they choose to have sex. We don't give pedophiles the right to marry children. We don't give zoophiles the right to marry animals. And we don't give robosexuals the right to marry robots. I'm not kidding - look it up.

There have certainly almost always been homosexuals. And I'm not arguing for or against that. What I'm saying is that we, as a nation, as a state, as a community and as a society have every right to choose what we will and will not stand for. And for the government to come along and tell us to sit down, shut up and that we're wrong is unacceptable. On any issue.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

So I Visited Two Porn Shops Today...

Staring at the Sun

A follow-up to the story I posted earlier about the solar radiation burst that is set to hit the Earth today...

Spend some time with this slide show showing close-up images of the sun. Breathtaking.

Tsunami Warning Today

From Fox News:

Earth is bracing for a cosmic tsunami Tuesday night as tons of plasma from a massive solar flare head directly toward the planet.

The Sun's surface erupted early Sunday morning, shooting a wall of ionized atoms directly at Earth, scientists say. It is expected to create a geomagnetic storm and a spectacular light show -- and it could pose a threat to satellites in orbit, as well.

"This eruption is directed right at us and is expected to get here early in the day on Aug. 4," said Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time."

Fortunately for Earth-bound observers, the atmosphere filters out nearly all of the radiation from the solar blast. The flare shouldn't pose a health hazard, Golub told FoxNews.com.

"It's because of our atmosphere," he explained, "which absorbs the radiation, as well as the magnetic field of the Earth, which deflects any magnetic particles produced."

The radiation "almost never" makes it to ground, he noted, though pilots and passengers in airplanes may experience increased radiation levels akin to getting an X-ray.

What Not to Do at an Apple Store

From iPhoneUserGuide:

Jailbreak a display model iPhone 4...

As funny as that is, the thing that made me laugh the hardest was the very first comment:

Sokobanja Says:
August 3rd, 2010 at 8:01 pm
You should not be doing that

Thanks to Matt.

Nothing to See Here. Move Along...

From the NY Times:

The government is expected to announce on Wednesday that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated -- and that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm.

Wow. Months of hand-wringing, almost putting a private company out of business and vilification down the drain. And just in time for the kickoff of the election season, too. Niiiice.