Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bad Shipping Karma
I ordered Canon's new XH-A1, High-Definition video camcorder for some projects that I've got coming up, and I have to say that I'm rather disgusted with my continued bad luck with UPS and the companies that ship through them. The camera and its accessories are to be delivered in the form of three separate packages from two different e-tailers. The store that's shipping the camera itself, J&R Music and Computer world, sat on the order for 2 and a half days before shipping it out. If they'd shipped it a few hours earlier, it would have been due to arrive tomorrow, Wednesday. As it is, with the Thanksgiving Holiday, it won't be arriving until next Monday (13 days after my order), assuming, of course it arrives on its scheduled time; which brings me to the third package. This package contains my Pelican case and it shipped out a bit earlier, so it was due to arrive today. Being the control-freak that I am, I watch my tracking numbers rather closely and was thus astonished to see it arrive in Salt Lake City on Monday Morning, in plenty of time to be delivered the next day, only to inexplicably sit there for a day and a half. Now it's on its way to my home town for delivery a day late. Go figure.

I have the world's worst shipping Karma. I recall spending a Christmas in Ireland without a Christmas package that my parents had sent for me. The package arrived a month later after being sent to
Iceland. A few Christmases previous, my parents had lovingly ordered some computer parts for me that didn't arrive on time. They finally came a few weeks later minus one part - the video card. This was back when the PCI bus was new, so naturally I had no other video card that would work with the parts. It was two more months before that part came. At least it worked.

Now, before I get too tied up in myself, let me just post this little reminder that I do realize that I'm blessed above pretty much the entire rest of the Earth. I'm lucky to be getting this camera at all, even if it
is a little late. I read an article yesterday about the conditions in Somali refugee camps that just made me sick. God bless the USA and if we can stop one more innocent person from being raped, murdered, sold, suppressed or otherwise victimized by deposing of a regime of obvious evil, then I'm all for it. How's that for a meandering post? I do have bad shipping Karma though.

Edit: Apparently I also have bad "Font Karma," (Heh heh, say that five times fast and it comes out as rude puncuation). I just can't seem to get the above text to be the right size. Alas.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Hated. . .

In keeping with the holiday season, I think it's time that I exposed my Scrooge-ish side to everyone. The above image is my primary target of late, a Chicken Soup for the Soul Daily calendar that, more often not, leaves me wondering how some people get published. (Jenny and I fondly refer to it as "Chicken Poop for the Soul.") The calendar uses one page for Saturday and Sunday and always seems to pick a particularly nauseating story for these holdovers. The above is again, illustrative. The writing is generally horrible, there are meaningless tangents in some pieces, and the feel-goodness of them all is dependent on one's assumption that everyone starts broken and needs warm fuzzies to fix them. A formulaic piece could thus be written:

"Jerry and his Mom were starving refugees in war-torn Wherezitstan. One day, Jerry's Mom, who had enjoyed milking cows and splashing her young cousins when they came to visit from neighboring Laurelstanslamibad with the fresh cows milk that they had just taken from Smush, their prize milk cow that never failed to love everyone and liked Sushi and hot-tubbing anytime, died. As Jerry's Mom lay dying, she looked into the clouds and smiled and Jerry knew that even though she wasn't with him now, she had truly loved and the puppies she'd raised by hand would not go to waste. After that, Jerry's life changed and he started doing better in school, or at least he would have if his school hadn't been blown up. This made Jerry's neighbor, old Mr. Bentley, smile."

They would then title this story something like "Puppy love," or who knows what else. I hate that Calendar.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Alaskan Memories,
A little over a year ago, I found myself in Alaska for two weeks living out of an RV with three other people (including my Father) whilst shooting a television show in the back country. On a rare trip to town, we set about looking for something to eat. On foot, and hungry enough to settle for just about anything, my Dad pointed at the nearest eatery-looking joint and expressed an immediate desire to eat there. Dan-dan the Cameraman, however, inexplicably letting his street-sense prevail over his appetites, suggested that we move on farther up the road to a building that at least had windows. "No," replied my father, "this'll do fine." Upon this rebuff, Dan, also seeking to hasten the close of this dispute, wrenched the door open, revealing a dark, smoky interior with dollar bills glued to the wall and the ceiling, and casting an apparently unwelcome ray of light onto the dripping, bearded face of a grizzled old Alaskan, who had, it seemed, been sleeping face-down in his tall frosty beverage. His lower jaw hung limp and swayed haphazardly in the light breeze blowing through the door. As the Man's foggy eyes struggled in vain to focus on the bright shaft of light suddenly heaved on his unwilling person, Dan simply gestured toward the hairy spectacle and said simply "See Lynn? These are not your people." And threw the door shut again. I've often reflected on this incident and wondered how it must have registered with the probably-sleeping drunk. Without warning, whatever thoughts/dreams were meandering across his mushy mind were interrupted by a shaft of light and four silhouettes, one of which gestured toward him and said simply "See Lynn? These are not your people." Upon which the door slammed and the vision closed. Does he remember it today? Does he know if it was real, or did he just plant his face back down and drown? These are probably questions I will take to my grave.

Here is a picture of this incident not happening, but the guy on the right has the right look about him, minus the smile.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another post that just isn't funny.

I'm concerned about Homosexuality today. I imagine a lot of people are. JK Rowling, billionaire author of the Best-Selling Harry Potter Series of Children's books recently announced that Albus Dumbledore is, in fact, "gay." To paraphrase a very wise man, a person is doing themselves a tremendous disservice by choosing their sexual orientation as the defining attribute of their personality. To orient one's entire life around a mere fraction of their being is, in my opinion, not to live at all.

Having said that, I'm glad Mrs. Rowling chose not to make Dumbledore's "orientation" a point of focus in her series. On the other hand, to "out" the character now, AFTER the majority of her book sales have been accomplished, smacks of a "take the money and run" scam. Just try returning that seventh book 3 months after purchase and see what sort of reaction you get, hmmm? It's as if, as I mentioned below, many people cannot fathom that there might be reasons beyond bigotry and/or fanaticism that would drive one to disapprove of the practice of homosexuality. I don't believe the author, based on her remarks at the venue where she made said announcement, feels any remorse at further alienating the extreme right-wing "Christian" zealots who had probably already banned her books from their homes out of a sheer need to hate something and feel righteous about it (and don't give me this rubbish about attracting kids to witchcraft, etc. Kids have been pretending to be "magic" for thousands of years. No one says this about George Lucas's "Force," do they?).

The comments I've read on a few internet forums seem to follow the assumption that Albus Dumbledore is somehow real and made this decision long ago of his own accord. This places Rowling in the position of chronicler rather than inventor. Lets not forget that every-single-thing that "occurred" in these books did so because JK Rowling decided that she would write it that way. This is not history, it's fiction. I think the present tendency for those who suffer from Homosexual feelings to identify their "selves" as a Gay person stems from Hollywood's mantra that life is about personal sexual gratification. Hence, sex is the object of our existence and any deviance (or "individuality") experienced therein must color every aspect of a person. This, I suspect, is why some persons with Homosexual tendencies feel the need to announce their sexual habits to the world through a dress code of sorts and easily identifiable mannerisms. I've even seen a number of posters arguing the supremacy of Homosexuals over "Heterosexual White Males," who seem to be the "new bad guy." We may say we're much more tolerant now that we were in the 60's, but I think we've simply switched targets, and guess what: I'm it.

That said, before you denounce me as a bigoted, let me also assert that I would be every bit as disappointed if Rowling had announced that Dumbledore had simply been a philanderer as a young man, or even that he had had sex out of wedlock and never felt that it was wrong. The bottom line is that there are still people, however silenced they have become, who reject the idea that sex is free, without consequences and/or to be practiced under any old circumstances.

The irony that occurs to me in this stream-of-consciousness rant, is that, as one who believes in an intelligent creator, and as one who opposes the practice and/or legitimization of Homosexuality, my views are opposed to those who tend to argue for many Gay "rights" and/or the idea that Darwin's theory is absolute fact (do not make the assumption here that I do not believe in evolution of any kind, I simply believe that Darwin's model has flaws). I would love to see the two ideologies reconciled: Darwinism and Homosexuality. According to Darwin's model (not according to me), Homosexual's must be "unfit" for survival by virtue of the fact that they cannot biologically produce offspring and will therefore eliminate themselves from the gene pool. We truly live in strange times.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Normally, I try to keep my postings here a bit on the lighter side, but this bit in the Deseret news today just made my blood boil.

Anti-gay church cheers disaster
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News

The statement comes across a fax machine with all the impact of a kick in the gut: "Thank God for the Utah Mine Disaster."

Members of a Kansas-based church notorious for picketing military funerals to generate publicity for their anti-gay cause have announced plans to picket any memorial services for the six miners trapped inside the Crandall Canyon Mine.

That's assuming they are dead, the Westboro Baptist Church concedes.

A statement by the group pledges to picket in central Utah with a warning: "God Hates Fags!"

"God hates Utah and America for surrendering to the fag agenda, and because of which God is now punishing this evil, sodomite nation with disaster after disaster, including 9/11, Iraq, Katrina, West Virginia Mine Disaster, Virginia Tech Massacre, The Shuttle Disaster, etc., — and now: The Utah Mine Disaster," the Westboro Baptist Church said in a fax to the Deseret Morning News on Saturday night.

The group has protested in Utah before. In June, three protesters showed up to the funeral services of Sgt. Jesse Blamires, a South Jordan man killed while serving in Iraq. They stayed a few blocks away, holding signs with messages such as "Pray for more dead soldiers."

The church claims the deaths have been God's punishment for America tolerating homosexuals.

It's the Westboro Baptist Church's penchant for distasteful demonstrations that has prompted lawmakers in several states, including Utah, to push through legislation forcing protesters at funerals to keep their distance from mourners.

It was originally designed to keep picketers from soldiers' funeral services. The sponsor of Utah's law was shocked to hear it being proposed for the mine tragedy. The group has also recently pledged to picket memorial services for victims of the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

"I thought I'd seen it all," said Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Jordan. "Being in politics, you see people use tragedies for their own personal political benefit. It is sad that they do so."

Utah law makes it a class B misdemeanor to demonstrate in a noisy and disruptive manner within 200 feet of a funeral or memorial service within an hour before and after the service.

Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said if the group comes to Huntington, he'll enforce that law to the letter.

"It's absolutely in poor taste," he told the Deseret Morning News. "Number one, we don't have any dead miners at this point."

These are the people who create the excuses others use to shun and deride religion in general. These are the people who allow proponents of homosexuality to assume anyone with a legitimate moral objection to the practice of alternate lifestyles look like they belong to a group of complete nut-cases. Plus, in what way has Utah surrendered to any "agenda?" This is one of those moments when I must simply shake my head in absolute incredulity that there are even people this toasted walking our planet. Consider me amazed, no, dumbfounded, no flabbergasted, no, just consider me absolutely beyond the scope of any adjective in the English language.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Lets be honest here. . .

Woe unto you scribes, pharisees, cheerleaders! For ye shut out mine pass at the top of the key! Behold, I would have scored upon thee had not thine lineman tackled mine runningback. Thou shalt neither score thyself, nor thy team-mate after thee!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Morality in the entertainment industry.

Call me old-fashioned, but I find that I simply cannot enjoy movies that treat the chastity of the female lead as something trivial. Case in point: She's the Man is a movie that roughly follows Shakespeare's 12th Knight in a teen-girly-pop-princess sort of way. Toward the end of the movie, when asked to prove her gender before a crowded soccer stadium full of people, the protagonist (female) simply flips up her top without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment (Camera angle too high to see anything). That single moment absolutely ruined that movie for me (not that I was terribly enthralled in the first place, but afterward I was angry). Second example: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (That's number three, if you're counting). Elisabeth Swann is required to completely disrobe in order to prove that she's unarmed. There are countless other examples, but these should suffice for the time being to illustrate my point that Hollywood seems determined to convince the world that it simply doesn't matter if a woman is raped, defiled, exposed, passed around, or who-knows-what-else as long as she doesn't die. Interestingly, there are certain taboos that seem to be far worse in Hollywood's reckoning than depriving a woman of her virtue. Racism for instance, is almost always a "capital offense" in a movie (I.E. racist characters are always villains and thus, more often than not, die)*. However, adultery/fornication and even outright promiscuousness seems to be considered admirable behavior for a protagonist even down to defiling multiple "partners" (I prefer to call them victims) take James Bond, for example. I was recently disgusted by a movie trailer that played before Transformers for a movie called Good Luck Chuck. The movie depicts a man who thinks he's cursed in that any woman with whom he is sexually active is bestowed with the "good luck" of getting married soon thereafter. He is thus set-upon by a slew of women who want to find their future spouse and get married. He goes on to "test" the "curse" by seducing a woman whom he deems unlikely to ever get married. This advertisement and the very idea of this film are absolutely distasteful on so many levels! The simple fact that no consideration at all is given to the morality of "sleeping around" is simply sickening. I believe that movies such as this are simply promotions of evil and a cancer upon our society and I would go so far as to say that I hope I never find in conversation that anyone of my acquaintance has seen it, as any respect I may have once held for that person will immediately drop. Do I sound angry? I am. I am nauseated by Hollywood's determination to undermine the solidarity of the family and its place in society. Why this horrific agenda exists in the first place, I could not pretend to understand, but I hope and pray that it stops.

*I am fully aware, by the way, that there must be exceptions to this "rule." However, I am not personally acquainted with any of them and I believe that the torrential current of Hollywood movies is pitted well against any exceptions that may exist.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Electricity, a fiery mistress. . .

Since my wife has brought me down into the depths of humility by being an infinitely better blogger than her husband (rowenasrantings.blogspot.com), I've decided that I'd better update this wee board with a posting about. . . you guessed it! My electric car (actually, you probably didn't guess it). You see, electric motors generally have an absolutely massive amount of low-end torque, which makes some sort of speed control more than nice, but absolutely mandatory for survival of the acceleration process.

To this end, I've previously "borrowed" an old, plastic cutting board from my mother to which I affixed bolts and an arm with a fulcrum, all attached to different wires. This contraption was used to add two 6 volt batteries at a time to a series which then gave my motor 12, 24, 36 and finally, 48 volts. Whalah! Speed control! Not too easy to use as it turned out, but it functioned. To make a long story short, I nearly blew myself up when I attempted an alternative system made of relays, so I'm now awaiting a shipment of 200 volt, 75 amp MOSFETS from digikey. Hopefully, I'll be able to make a proper pulse-width-modulated controller that can handle a 72 volt system without having to completely break the bank, alas.