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December 31, 2007

Sort eBay Listings by Total Cost

eBay is obviously an excellent website, but it's not without its shortcomings. For instance, I can sort by cost, but then I have to add in the shipping costs in my head. Some people reduce their item costs and inflate their shipping and handling charges knowing you won't realize it until it's too late. So, what you want to be able to do is sort by the Total Cost = the item cost + shipping charges. Fortunately, I found this slick little FireFox plugin called ShortShip that allows you to do just that. Enjoy.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 31, 2007 at 12:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 29, 2007

Ever Been Drunk This Long?

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 29, 2007 at 5:59 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Smuggling Monkeys

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/bizarre/5406254.html

Dec. 27, 2007, 9:27AM
Monkey stashed in plane passenger's hat dies

NEW YORK — A small monkey stashed in a man's hat during a flight to New York has died, but federal health authorities don't know why.

The fist-sized tamarin showed no signs of illness during a quarantine period, Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokeswoman Shelly Diaz said Wednesday. The agency had lifted the quarantine and was trying to find the animal a permanent home when it died, she said.

The primate was seized as its owner got off a plane at LaGuardia Airport on Aug. 7. It apparently escaped detection during a flight from Lima, Peru, and a stopover in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The forest-dwelling creature was spotted after it crept out and perched on its owner's ponytail during the flight to New York.

The owner was questioned and released. He told authorities he didn't realize the monkey's voyage was illegal.

I had a feeling this guy was from Peru as soon as I saw the headline. In the “eyebrow of the jungle?, you can buy any monkey you want for around 50 soles ( about $16.00). Although it’s illegal, it’s very easy to purchase a pocket monkey, a squirrel monkey, or even a spider monkey in the Manu Nacional Reserva in the Amazon rain forest. But getting them back into the U.S. is the tricky part. This guy apparently got it through Jorge Chávez in Lima and then cleared customs with it in Fort Lauderdale by hiding the monkey under his hat and walking through the metal detector with it sitting on his head.

No one noticed the monkey until it crawled out from under his hat on the flight from Lauderdale to NYC. They confiscated it when he landed in LaGuardia. He told authorities he didn’t realize it was illegal and they didn’t even charge him with a crime. All of this happened back in August. The update to the story is that the monkey was placed in quarantine back in August, but then died over the holidays. Good job, retard.

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=local&id=5548600&ids=55488554

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 29, 2007 at 4:00 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 28, 2007

The Pet Holocaust

Well, I finally broke down and let Jennifer get a kitty. We got her a 1 year old female calico kitty which she named "Jazzmin"(sic).

I was asking them all these questions like "has it been declawed yet?"

And they're all holier-than-thou like "we don't believe in declawing cats because they have to amputate the first knuckle of the cat's paws"

And I'm like "Well, i figured that since it's just a cat it wouldn't be that big of a deal." This raised some eyebrows and the next thing I knew they dusted off this "adoption application" and I'm like "are you serious? For a cat?"

Like you have got to be joking. They'd rather put the thing down than let me have it so they give me this long tree-hugger rainbow-coalition "adoption application" to fill out. It was roughly equivalent to trying to get a job on an Air Force Base.

Question #7 "Will the pet will be kept inside or outside?"

"I'm not good at these multiple-guess tests," I complained. "What's the right answer for Number 7?" I asked.

"The cat should be kept inside. Their lifespan is cut in half if they live outside," Jason explained.

"In half?" Like, I don't know where they come up with that figure. If the cat gets outside of my house, it wouldn't live ten minutes. It would be ripped to pieces by mountain lions, coyotes, and foxes before the sun came up. I put "Inside".

Question #8 "If you no longer want the pet, what will you do with it?"

My dad always talked about putting cats in a burlap sack with a few bricks and tossing them from a bridge to see how good they could swim. I'm not sure that I would know where to find a burlap sack though, so I figure I'll just let it spend the night outside. That should do the trick.

Somewhere around Question #9 in the survey they asked if she'd ever had any pets before and I'm putting in everything, figuring it will increase her odds. Make her look like a more qualified applicant. An experienced pet owner, as it were. So I'm putting in everything she ever owned - rabbit, quail, fish, gerbils, dog, etc.

And then I got to Question #10 which was "Where are they now?"

And I was like "Hmmm. Good question. That's a tough one. You mean like - in the spiritual sense?"

The quail lived 24 hours, at most. Bunners was eaten alive on a camping trip. I tossed buckets of gerbils out into the snow. The only known survivors from the gerbil holocaust are reportedly living in a series of tunnels beneath my neighbor's shed. The fish...all gone...flushed down the commode in waves. She kills Betas for Christ's sake...those things are like lungfish. They can live for days without water, but somehow she killed a baker's dozen of them. We have a pet cemetery in the front yard with more graves than Gettysburg.

I was like ?Do you have any more forms? I made a mistake on this one and I need to start over.?

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 28, 2007 at 7:26 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

December 27, 2007

Dreaming of a White Christmas

White Christmas

Not only did we have a white Christmas, but they say there's a big storm coming. Not sure what we'll do. The snow is too deep for the ATV already. If it snows any more, the ATV will be in the garage for the rest of the winter. Save us, Al Gore - save us from the scourge of global warming.

Rubbermaid Sleds - they quit making them for a reason.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2007 at 9:40 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Man Dangles Leg in Tiger Cage and Dies

This idiot in the San Francisco Zoo was taunting the tiger, by dangling his leg in the tiger cage. The tiger swam across a moat and then jumped 20 feet in the air to kill the idiot. How do we know, because they found his shoe and his blood inside the tiger cage. Hooray! Darwin wins!

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/27/tiger.attack/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2007 at 9:30 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

December 26, 2007

This Is Why I don't use Blue-Tooth

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 26, 2007 at 1:07 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Tryphorgetin

If you're a supporter of Hillary Clinton and you have a nagging fear that her shameful past will come back to ruin her election chances, this message of hope is for you. DNC Pharmaceuticals presents Tryphorgetin: more than just a drug, a way of coping.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 26, 2007 at 12:10 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 25, 2007

Pandora

My neighbor's kid told me about this deal called Pandora. They bill themselves as "It's a new kind of radio - stations that play only the music you like". So, basically it's a music streaming service, and you tell them what groups you like, and they stream music to you based on your preferences. You can suggest specific groups or songs and then they'll play songs you mentioned, plus some you've never heard of that fit the genre. For each song, you can skip it or tell them "never again", etc. It's awesome. Really a quantum leap forward in listening to music.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2007 at 8:22 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 24, 2007

Killing Strangers

I've done a lot of work on my Killing Strangers web page today. I hacked through a bunch of client-side JavaScript, HTML, and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). At the end of the day, I'm reasonably happy with what I've cobbled together. It looks decent in IE and FireFox. Check it out if you get a chance.

www.KillingStrangers.com

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 24, 2007 at 1:00 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 23, 2007

Christophe Huet

The Mind-Warping Artwork of French Designer Christophe Huet.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 23, 2007 at 6:06 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas from Fred Thompson

Merry Christmas from Fred Thompson.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2007 at 1:16 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 21, 2007

Oh My!

my husband's gonna kill me

This global warming thing is really kicking us in the teeth today. It's been snowing hard about half the day. Roads are getting bad. Not a snow plow in sight, of course.

my husband's gonna kill me

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 21, 2007 at 3:47 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

A White Christmas?

Trying Out The New Sled

Well, the snow was getting kind of crunchy and thin when Jennifer and I tried out her new sled in the driveway. Fortunately, it's starting to snow again now.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 21, 2007 at 1:02 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 20, 2007

Notes from Peru

This is what I get for traveling. I get emails from people in languages that I don't understand:

hola gringo loco como estas ya estas en tu pais escribeme ok
por que tu no te despediste de mi
bueno cuidate mucho y estudia mucho el español jajaja
feliz navidada y año nuevo see you

sabita

The best I can guess is that this translates (loosely) as:

Hey crazy american. How are you? When you get to your country, write me, OK?
Why did you not tell me goodbye?
Take care and study your Spanish. Haha.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. See you

Sabita

If this isn't right, please post a correction in the comments.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 20, 2007 at 10:41 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 18, 2007

Killing Strangers

Tonight, I finally finishing writing, editing, and publishing my first book. “Killing Strangers? is a collection of short stories I wrote on the road. These tales are a first-person adrenaline ride from the Hawaiian Islands to the Bahamas. From the Rockies to the Andes. From the desert to the jungle. “Killing Strangers? is something like “On The Road? meets “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?.

The stories include:

These are all original short stories. Most of them were written since September of 2006. There’s a few older stories I threw in at the end just to make sure that no one felt cheated for shelling out $14.95.

Hunter S. Thompson said of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? that you’d have to be a fool to write a story about breaking the law and then come out and say the story was true. These stories are presented under that same premise. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

I don’t seriously mean to compare myself as an author to Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac. That would be absurd and misleading. However, last time I checked, both of those guys were dead, so pick up a copy of “Killing Strangers? and take it for a test drive. If you like reading it half as much as I liked writing it, then you're in for a treat.

I've poured hundreds of hours into writing, editing, and publishing this 98,000 word, 249 page, 6" X 9" paperback. The book costs $14.95, of which I get exactly $4.35. All proceeds go to Jennifer's college fund. You can order your own First Edition copy of “Killing Strangers?, just in time for Christmas. (If you hurry. I think. Maybe. I can't promise anything. It's out of my hands at this point.)

If you want a signed copy, then bring it by and I'll be glad to sign it. Or, if you want me to mail you a signed copy, I'm sure I can work that out too, although I anticipate that I'll be very busy these next few days as my fame spreads around the globe and the money starts pouring in. ;)

Merry Christmas,

Rob Kiser

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 18, 2007 at 10:51 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Run Fred Run

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 18, 2007 at 8:53 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 17, 2007

Hillary Cruella Clinton

Hillary Cruella Clinton

Click on the image above to see the warmer, friendlier, funnier side of Hillary.

Operation Rescue Hillary

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2007 at 11:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 16, 2007

The Advantages of Upgrading From Vista To XP

http://dotnet.org.za/codingsanity/archive/2007/12/14/review-windows-xp.aspx

"Well, here there appears to be no contest. Windows XP is both faster and far more responsive. I no longer have the obligatory 1-minute system lock that happens whenever I log onto Vista, instead I can run applications as soon as I can click their icons. Not only that, but the applications start snappily too, rather than all waiting in some "I'm still starting up the OS" queue for 30 seconds or so before all starting at once. In addition, I have noticed that when performing complex tasks such as viewing large images, or updating large spreadsheets, instead of the whole operating system locking down for several seconds, it now just locks down the application I am working on, allowing me to Alt-Tab to another application and work on that. I am thrilled that Microsoft decided to add preemptive multitasking to their operating system, and for this reason alone I would strongly urge you to upgrade to XP. With the amount of multi-core processors around today using a multitasking operating system like XP makes a world of difference."

The benefits of upgrading from Vista to XP. Classic! I love it.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2007 at 11:19 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Oops - We Spilled Beer on the Servers Again

Oops. We spilled beer on the servers again. We had some technical difficulties with the servers from about 1:33 a.m. MST to 11:13 a.m. MST this morning. Sorry for the inconvenience. The system came down hard last night, corrupting some files on the C: drive. Then, when we rebooted, MySQL wouldn't start because it couldn't write to a temporary file that had become corrupted. I tried to delete the file, but couldn't, so I scheduled a "chkdsk /f" on the C: drive and rebooted. It ran the chkdsk and fixed the three corrupted files that were giving us grief and then MySQL came up like a champ. Wipes sweat from brow. Now... back to the book.

Scary technical details of crash and it's resolution here or click on the extended entry link below.

Continue reading "Oops - We Spilled Beer on the Servers Again"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2007 at 11:12 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 15, 2007

Nero: Not Enough Space To Burn

Long story short: My Windows desktop died, probably due to hard drive failure. So I replaced the hard drive, and did a fresh install of Windows XP SP2.

I installed Nero 6.3.1.12 Sony Edition, which is what came in the box with my Sony DVD-R drive when I bought it three years ago.

When I try to copy a DVD-R, I get the following error message:

DVD-Nero-NotEnoughSpace-a.jpg
There is not enough space to burn this compilation onto this disc.
Please insert another disc that provides more space...

Both the source DVD-R and the target DVD-R are the same brand (TDK Print-On), and probably from the same spindle. So space on the disc cannot be an issue.

Continue reading "Nero: Not Enough Space To Burn"

Posted by Robert Racansky on December 15, 2007 at 6:37 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 13, 2007

Big Meteor Shower Tonight - Thr Dec 13th

http://www.space.com/spacewatch/071213-geminid-news.html

Many meteor showers tend to disappoint, but the annual Geminid shower is relatively reliable. And this year's version, which peaks tonight, is expected to be a great one.

Meteors could start showing up anytime after dark this evening, Dec. 13, low on the eastern horizon. A better display should begin after 10 p.m. or so, when the constellation Gemini, from which the meteors emanate, rises higher into the Eastern sky.

By 2 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14, Gemini is directly overhead, and meteors will streak outward in all directions like spokes on a wheel, weather permitting.

Forecasters predict one or two shooting stars per minute during the peak hours.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 13, 2007 at 9:42 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 12, 2007

Hacking the iPod Mini

Jennifer has a pink iPod Mini. It's an old-school First Generation 4 gig unit (Model Number A1051). I'm waiting to hear from the Smithsonian on whether they want this thing or not. In the meantime, I figured I'd get iTunes off of it and see if I could use it to play MP3 files.

I found this comparison of iPod management software. Under the Windows O/S, it has a few different options listed. I think I'll try using Amerisoft iPod Copy Manager.

So, I downloaded version 2.1.19 and installed it, but it keeps giving me an error message when I try to delete the songs that are in the iPod. The error message is "Access violation in module 'WS_iPodTrans.dll'. This sucks. I even tried installing it on Jen's computer, and got the same results. I even tried the older version (1.0.2.0.16) and get the same errors.

So, I tried installing SharePod 3.6.1 instead. This didn't work either. It couldn't find the iPod, crashed, and then suggested I run iTunes. Nice.

So then, I tried Yamipod. It doesn't see my iPod either.

I have no idea what's going on with this freaking thing. I decided to restore the iPod to factory settings. Unfortunately, this didn't work either.

In the end, I just installed iTunes. iTunes sucks in so many ways I don't want to go into it. I despise iTunes and I hate iPods. But I didn't buy them. They ended up under my control. So, I'm using iTunes. Let the laughter begin.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2007 at 12:47 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Stop Quicktime from Autostarting

I hate programs that autostart without my permission. Normally, Codestuff Starter does an excellent job of stopping these annoying little TSR's, but for some reason, it doesn't stop Qttask.exe (Quicktime's annoying little program that loads at startup).

I found the solution here:

Start Regedit (Start - Run - Regedit)
Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,Software,Microsoft,Windows,CurrentVersion,Run
Double-click Quick Time Task put semicolon in front of "C:\Program Files\QuickTime\qttask.exe" -atboottime
Click OK
Close Regedit

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2007 at 9:27 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 11, 2007

How To Fold A Winning Hand

"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public." - Winston Churchill


I finished my short stories for 2007. It covers parts of my travels to TN, MS, Ireland, France, and of course Peru. Now that I've finished it, I'm going back and re-reading Jack Kerouac's "On The Road". Of course, reading this book is intimidating. Kerouac wrote On The Road in a style that is sort of a stream-of-conscious campfire-tale type of writing. He sat down at a typewriter and wrote the text in 22 days without punctuation or margins. He typed it on long sheets of onion paper and then taped the papers together into a scroll that was 120 feet long. The original manuscript sold a few years back for $2.4 million.

"One The Road" is one of those rare books that wakes you up and gets you excited about being alive. It's like smoking cocaine. After the first chapter you can't put down. After the ninth chapter you want to sell everything you own and go stand by the side of the road with your thumb out.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2007 at 11:53 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 10, 2007

Parrot Forces Man to Keep Changing His Ringtone

Parrot Forces Man to Keep Changing His Ringtone

Huddersfield: 54-year-old Stuart McNae has had to change the ringtone on his phone five times and will probably soon have to change it a sixth time because his blue-fronted Amazon parrot has learned to mimic them.

The parrot has already learnt the BBC Match of the Day tune, Lou Bega's Mambo Number 5, Soul Limbo by Booker T, the Nokia theme, and Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry. He chooses to mimic the current ringtone when McNae is out of the room.

"I now have the theme from A Fistful of Dollars. Won't be long before he's got that, too. He waits for me to leave the room before he does it. I'll rush downstairs to find it's Billy," said McNae.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2007 at 9:07 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 9, 2007

Happy Birthday Jennifer!

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2007 at 8:07 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 8, 2007

The Truth About the EOS 40D

The truth about the Canon EOS 40D is that it doesn't do very well in the rain. Or in the rain forest for that matter.

Now, some people might say, "Oh, it's not designed to be used out in the rain". I beg to disagree.

First of all, when I pay $1,500.00 for a frame that won't even take a picture unless you also buy a lens to go with it, I don't expect it to stop working if it gets a little bit of rain on it. Call me crazy.

Secondly, I have a Canon EOS 20D and I've taken that camera from the Black Rock Desert of Nevada to the Amazon Rain Forest of Peru and shot over 100,000 images with it over 3 years. I've shot with the EOS 20D in rain much worse than the drizzle that shut down my 40D we got into down in the eyebrow of the jungle down in the Andes.

So, for those playing the home game, be forewarned. The 40D isn't as rugged as the 20D. I personally would suggest waiting on the EOS 5D Mk II.

However, seeing as how I'm going to be shipped a replacement EOS 40D since it was only 2 weeks old when it failed, I need to come up with some type of weatherproof case to cover it if the off chance that I need to use it outside of a climate controlled environment.

When I was shooting at Burning Man, I seem to recall a guy there was shooting a 20D with what he called a "rain bag". I believe it was this Rain Cape from EWA Marine. I also found the Laird Rain Hoods and the Tenba Rain Hoods and this camera rain cover from EOSMagazine. For some reason, Aquapac doesn't make a waterproof housing for the EOS 20D/30D/40D.

http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00Lzku

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2007 at 10:26 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 7, 2007

Hollywood Misses the Mark

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/bminiter/?id=110010956

The guns of war have fallen silent for Hollywood. Studio executives, who could once count on Americans filling theaters for just about any war movie they produced, are finding this year's war flicks to be a bunch of duds. "Lions for Lambs," Robert Redford's case against the war in Afghanistan, is a flop. It stars Mr. Redford, Meryl Streep and Tom Cruise and may not make back its $35 million price tag. Brian De Palma's "Redacted" played to empty seats.

But Americans haven't lost their taste for war footage. They've just found a better place to see the type of war film they actually enjoy watching. Some of the hottest videos on YouTube are of actual battles that have taken place in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is footage that often hasn't made its way onto the nightly news or CNN--although some of it has--but it's largely unadulterated film that shows American soldiers in action, bringing the full weight of American military might to bear against the enemy. And in most of these films, it's clear who the enemy is.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/bminiter/?id=110010956

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 7, 2007 at 8:21 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Uplifting Christmas Story

Get out your kleenexes for this one. Apparently, a man with his wife and two children in the car was confronted in his driveway by 2 armed gunmen and a 3rd man. They pulled their weapons on 36 year old Ronald Johnson and his family attempting to rob them or worse, but Johnson pulled his own gun and shot and killed one of the assailants. The two other fled. No charges will be filed against Ronald Johnson for defending his family, so this is a story with a happy ending. You can use the kleenex now if you need to.

Remember people - a gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone. By the time the police get there, all they can do is string up yellow tape around the people that didn't make it.

Merry Christmas

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 7, 2007 at 3:22 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

The Birthday Penguin

One of the coolest things about living where we do in the Rocky Mountains is the Birthday Party Company. They're right up the road from us. Just a little hand painted sign on a small ranch/farm place in the valley that rents out animals for birthday parties. Horses, ponies, alpacas, llamas, and believe-it-or-not penguins.

Now, probably in most parts of the country, penguins wouldn't do very well, but they love the winter here. The guy has a pond that they swim in with a heated "penguin door" that keeps the ice open so they can swim even if the pond is frozen.

So, of course, we rented a penguin for Jennifer's birthday party. They dropped him off early because we're supposed to get dumped on this weekend and they have pretty busy schedule, apparently. Who knew?

There's a picture(above) of Jennifer playing with "Mumbles"(?) in the front yard before she went to school this morning. (Click on photo for larger version) She sooo did not want to go in but I made her. This is our conversation on the way into school this morning:

"Daddy, make sure he doesn't get too cold, ok?"

"Jennifer - they're from the North Pole"

"The South Pole."

"Whatever. My point is they're used to cold weather. He's not going to freeze to death in the garage while you're at school."

"Don't forget to feed him daddy."

"I'm not going near that thing. He stinks. You can feed him when you get home."

"Can we put him on the sled and pull him behind the 4-wheeler after school?"

"We'll see...."

The good thing is she's not spoiled!

Update: This is a hoax.

I was just farking around. Jennifer asked me to Photoshop a penguin into a photo with her and put it on her birthday cake, so we shot her out front this morning in the snow with her stuffed penguin and I added the real Emperor Penguin chick (over about 3 hours or so). Time well spent - I know.

More details in extended entry.

Continue reading "The Birthday Penguin"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 7, 2007 at 10:42 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

December 4, 2007

Proposed Legislation to Allow Suday Liquor Sales in Colorado

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/14764174/detail.html

For 15 years, Weissmann has sponsored legislation trying to repeal the Sunday sales ban, but powerful lobbies have prevented it from passing.

This year, the legislation will be put forward once again.

"People make business decisions in this world, and that's what we ought to allow liquor stores and car dealers to do," he said.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2007 at 4:31 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 3, 2007

Children's Books for Jennifer

As Jennifer's 10th birthday rolls around, I'm looking to get some more books for her. I don't really like walking into a book store to get ideas, as they've selectively culled a lot of the good books because they're not politically correct for this reason or another. Ditto for all of the books that get awards. They have to be so squeaky clean and politically correct that I just can't stand to pick them up.

I'm not saying that I want her reading "Little Black Sambo" every night, just that I don't want to miss any really good books because they don't make the PC checklist these days.

The last book we were reading was about a trumpeter swan that couldn't honk and I just thought I was going to kill myself it was so boring.

So, instead. I usually try to remember what books I liked when I was her age, and then order an old used hard-cover version of those books (to make sure they haven't been censored by the PC police).

One book that I recall reading in the 4th grade (the same grade she's in now) was Runaway Ralph. So, we're halfway through that one, and it's a good book. We both like it and at night, we take turns reading pages, passing the book back and forth.

Another book that a bunch of us guys at school read in the 4th grade was Freddy Goes to Florida, a story about a pig that goes to Florida, that was pretty interesting as I recall.

The other series of books I bought her recently was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia), but since that just came out as a movie, it's lost some of it's appeal to me.

If anyone has any suggestions about books you think a 4th grade girl might enjoy, please post in the comments. Many thanks. :)

Update: I found some lists that seem to be legitimate, as in not overtly censored. I like this Favorite 4th grade books reading list.

Robert R. points out that the mother of Glenn Reynolds (of Instapundit fame) has a Books for Kids blog.

Update 2: Wow. I'm starting to get some good feedback on this. Here are the recommendations I have so far:

The Baby-Sitters Club: Kristy's Great Idea by Ann Martin
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan
Dr. Doolittle by Hugh Lofting
The Golden Compass by Kay Woodward
The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Lassie Come Home by Rosemary Wells
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
The Pinballs by Betsy Byars
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
Nancy Drew
Stormy - Misty's Foal by Marguerite Henry
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Winnie the Witch by Valerie Thomas
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
American Girl (series) - I'm a little fuzzy on this one.

Update 3: I just remembered another short story we read in school:
Leiningen versus the Ants

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 3, 2007 at 6:17 PM : Comments (10) | Permalink

The Sub-Prime Housing Crisis

Wow. This is really just so insane. For some reason, I just hadn' t imagined that people were this stupid. This lady is upside down on a house she bought in 1985 for $105,000. Today, she owes $625,500 on the house and is driving a Lexus. OMG people are stupid.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 3, 2007 at 5:04 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 2, 2007

Chavez Comes Up Short

Looks like Chavez lost his bid to remain dictator of Venezuela for life in a big way.

CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM DEFEATED

Quico says: Multiple sources inside CNE now confirm it. Chávez's constitutional reform proposal has been defeated at the polls. An official announcement is imminent.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2007 at 10:47 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

You Say You Want A Revolution...

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit is reporting on a 2nd Amendment article by David Hardy which I won't read because you have to register and I don't do that sort of thing. But here's a key excerpt, courtesy of Glenn:

In law school, we were told to be careful what we ask for, because the fates may give us just that. If the Supreme Court upholds a broad Second Amendment right, tens of millions of gun-owning Americans will be reminded of the high court's role as protector of their Constitution.

If it goes the other way, those millions will be asking how arms ownership, expressly mentioned in that document, is unprotected while abortion (no where mentioned) is broadly protected.

They will come to believe that the Constitution is merely a paper covering for arbitrary judicial rule. This is not a lesson we want taught in a democracy.

I'm going to go one step further. If the Supreme Court rules that we don't have the right to arm bears, then I say "the jig is up". As in, if the constitution is to be viewed from here on out as living document to be changed at the whim of judicial activists legislating from the bench, then we have every reason to press for our right to bear arms by any means necessary, and there is no time like the present.

Even if the high court finds that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, they have to also find that the government doesn't have wide latitude to restrict this right. For instance, finding that the 2nd Amendment is an individual right, but that the government can restrict that same right to mean a citizen can only own one single-shot shotgun, or that ammunition has to be stored separately, or trigger lock mandates are a perfectly acceptable restriction, or that the government can search us for them and disarm us as airports, bus stations, movie theaters, Wal-Marts, or inter-state checkpoints, won't cut it.

The legal precept of "stare decisis" stipulates that previous judicial ruling are held in a fairly high regard, and rarely overturned, so a ruling that the 2nd Amendment doesn't grant individual citizens the unequivocal right to bear arms would go down as a monumental stain on our collective jurisprudence.

Of course, if the Supreme Court rules that 2nd Amendment doesn't grant us the right to bear arms, then the guns will inevitably disappear from the homes of law abiding citizens. This will probably not be a door-to-door type of military forced collection of firearms like we say in Hurricane Katrina, but will probably be more of an Australian/England type of disarmament where they divide and conquer the gun owners, starting with true Class III weapons, DD's, then "assault weapons" (whatever that means), and finally, down to the rabbit guns. At that point, the "gun control" movement will branch out into "lethal weapon" control, as we've already seen in the Netherlands.

The point being that, if we want to preserve our right to bear arms, then the day that the supreme court rules against individual interpretation of the 2nd amendment, we need to be in the streets.

I'm not sure what it would look like if 80 million gun owners descended upon the nation's capital the day after a high-court miscarriage of justice, but I doubt it would be pretty. Just for clarification, this is not a threat of overt violence. I personally don't think that violence will help our cause, but, on the other hand, complacency will certainly not help our cause either. 80 million people in the streets in December and at the polls next November, on the other hand, will definitely make a difference. :)

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2007 at 11:05 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Carnegie Mellon Updating Remote Control Military Vehicle

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/143049/carnegie-mellon-developing-robotank.html

Carnegie Mellon's National Robotics Engineering Center has won a $14.4 million contract to continue development of its unmanned ground vehicle technology for the US army.

The team says that the majority of the budget will go towards updating Crusher, a 6.5 tonne, unmanned support vehicle it developed in 2006.

This thing they have called The Crusher is a 6 wheel drive mobile platform that looks pretty cool in the vidoes. Apparently, what happened is that this team at Carnegie Mellon won the latest DARPA Challenge, so the military is throwing some money at them saying "keep on it" and "show us what your robots can do for us".

I personally think that this is a much better approach than the old bidding war between a few defense contractors, awarding the bid, and then finally shitcanning some inoperable, over-budget system like the Sargeant York.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2007 at 8:48 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 1, 2007

The New Republic Comes Clean

After months and months of defending the obviously false and patently absurd stories authored by Beauchamp, The New Republic finally admits the stories were all hogwash. The stories Beauchamp authored were nothing but lies and TNR didn't bother to check their facts. Even when people pointed out that the stories were demonstrably false, TNR stood by their lying author. Now, they finally admit that it was all lies. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. All the lies that are fit to print.

Previous story on TNR's lies here.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2007 at 3:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Haircut

I got my haircut yesterday. I'm not sure if it looks any better though.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2007 at 9:43 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The War on Christmas Continues

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,314383,00.html

In a December newsletter to the families of elementary school students, Spokane Public Schools' list of "important dates" didn't include Christmas.

Hanukkah, Human Rights Day, winter break, the Islamic holy day Eid al-Adha, first day of winter and Kwanzaa all made the list. But no Christmas.

"It was absolutely an error of omission," district spokeswoman Terren Roloff said. "In our efforts to be inclusive, we missed the obvious."

Right. It was an oversight. And I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2007 at 12:42 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink