« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

December 31, 2008

Heart and Soul

Hallye tried to show me how to play Heart and Soul, but I'm afraid I didn't do very well. I found a website where you can download the sheet music for free, so I'll work on it.

I downloaded the sheet music and the midi file for Fur Elise from this website: http://www.gmajormusictheory.org/Freebies/IntermediateLevels.html

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 31, 2008 at 7:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Debunking Keynesian Economics

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 31, 2008 at 8:43 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 30, 2008

NASA Continues Cover Up

Today NASA released a 400 page document titled the Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Report. Basically, it's a whitewash that calls for stronger seat belts. Just nonsense, really, when you consider that the shuttle started breaking up at 200,000 feet going roughly the speed of light. The real cause of the accident is NASA's reckless hiring of engineers based on quotas instead of qualifications.

Linda Ham helped NASA achieve their EEO goals when they hired her, but then her professional malfeasance contributed directly to the accident when she said there was no way the foam could have damaged the shuttle.

"(T)he material properties and density of the foam wouldn't do any damage," she says in a conversation with engineer Don McCormick.

With that turn of words, Columbia was doomed, five days after a chunk of insulating foam from the orbiter's external fuel tank slammed into the shuttle's left wing leading edge. That strike, according to preliminary information from the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, most likely allowed superheated gasses to enter the wing structure, leading to the shuttle's disintegration as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere.

"Really, I don't think there is much we can do," Ham said in the January 21st conference call. "It's not really a factor during the flight because there isn't much we can do about it."

So a space agency that was known for its "can do" attitude has been reduced do a "nothing we can do" agency. The agency that brought back a damaged tin can of astronauts from the far side of the moon in the Apollo 13 accident, is reduced to a consortium of dolts that can't safely land a glider full of people orbiting the Earth.

Of course, as it turns out, there were a lot of things they could have tried, if they hadn't just thrown up their hands in defeat and said "a)it wasn't damaged, and b)even if it was, there's nothing that could be done." Both of these assessments were dead wrong. It was a defeatist, let's-just-stick-our-heads-in-the-sand-and-hope-for-the-best attitude and she should have been fired for her gross incompetence and negligence, as should everyone from her up that didn't question her baseless and incompetent conclusions.

And there's not a word of this in the report because they're going to keep right on hiring people based on quotas instead of qualifications. But the seat belts will be stronger when the next EEO hire makes a grotesque mistake like this. So they should be fine the next time it happens.

Update: Apparently she did get demoted over her gross malfeasance related to this incident, however, if you think NASA sent her packing, you'd be wrong...shes now working for...are you ready for this?....she's technical director for the Constellation Program where she's involved in the major decisions involving the Ares, Orion and Altair vehicles.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 30, 2008 at 9:38 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

The Feeling of Power

Carol, my dear friend out in San Francisco, and I were working on a project together in the Bay Area a few years back when she turned me onto a short story by Isaac Asimov she'd read in high school. The short story is called "The Feeling of Power". It was, of course, brilliant, and particularly apropos, but who would expect anything less from Carol?

I mention it now because my super-cool old college roommate Tom has recommended that I read "All You Zombies" by Robert A. Heinlein, which I intend to do over chicory coffee and Moravian Sugar Cake. Update: I read this short story by Heinlein, and I think I sort of half-understand it. I mean, I think I get it, but all the time travel and paradoxes are fairly confusing and I'm not as bright as I once was. The coffee and sugar cake were good though, and the story makes me nostalgic.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 30, 2008 at 10:29 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 29, 2008

Amazon Reports Christmas Season 'Best Ever'


"Amazon customers ordered more than 6.3 million items on Dec. 15, compared with roughly 5.4 million on its peak day last year, the company said. It shipped more than 5.6 million products on its best day, a 44 percent rise over 2007, when it shipped about 3.9 million on its busiest day. The company did not provide dollar figures and wouldn't say whether the average value of orders had changed, and the jumps it reported Friday are in line with increases Amazon has seen since it started releasing the figures in 2002."

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 29, 2008 at 3:53 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Christmas Vacation

For some reason, I decided to drive half-way across the continent and back for our Christmas vacation. I drove approximately 3,000 miles through CO/NM/TX/LA/MS over the last week or so. Probably not the brightest thing I ever did, but I actually didn't mind it so much as I can't remember the last time I've actually driven anywhere. All of the photos I shot on the road were taken while driving, as I didn't feel like stopping and setting up a tripod or anything like that. So if the photos don't look sharp, that's probably the reason - they were shot through the windshield while I was barreling down the road at 80 mph.

In any event, I've posted some shots as a 37 Meg (6:27) Adobe Flash slideshow(conmtxlams.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above.

These images were all captured with a Canon EOS 40D with a Canon BG-E2 battery grip. The short lens is an image stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM). The long lens is a Canon L-series ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM) with an ET-83C hood. The flash is a Canon Speedlite 580EX mounted on a Stroboframe Pro-T bracket mounted with a custom-fabricated anti-twist bracket and a Gary Fong Light-Sphere II diffuser.

If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (conmtxlams.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro, which I highly recommend.

The soundtrack is How It Ends by DeVotchka.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Lyrics in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Christmas Vacation"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 29, 2008 at 12:23 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

December 28, 2008

Mystery Dog

My boss in Hawaii has a new dog, but there is some question as to what type of dog it is, apparently. Here are Brian's comments:

"We thought at first she (Bella) might be some kind of Australian Dingo, but then on a National Geographic show on wild African "painted" dogs, they looked just like Bella. We bought the dog a few months ago at a local feed supply store that sells chicken's and lots of other animals. She's about 6 months old now. She also dug a den in our back yard that goes under ground for about 6 feet. The thing is the African painted dogs have slightly more rounded ears."


Any help in identifying the beast is greatly appreciated.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 28, 2008 at 6:51 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 22, 2008

Happy Birthday

I ran into Jen this morning in the Dallas airport and she said "Ahemmmm. Well? Don't you have something to say to me?" and I was like .."uh...Merry Christmas?" She was like "It's my birthday, silly."

Well, it's a fair point, but we've celebrated her birthday quite a lot this year. Probably she's about tired of blowing out candles.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2008 at 11:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 18, 2008

School Christmas Party

I've posted some shots from the Jen's school Christmas partyas a 9 Meg (2:12) Adobe Flash slideshow(xmas.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above.

These images were all captured with a Canon EOS 40D with a Canon BG-E2 battery grip. The short lens is an image stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM). The long lens is a Canon L-series ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM) with an ET-83C hood. I did not use a flash for these photos, as it would have confused the little snowflakes.

If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (xmas.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro, which I highly recommend.

The soundtrack is Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer by Dean Martin.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 18, 2008 at 11:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

2008 In Photographs

Some great shots from 2008 are posted here:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 18, 2008 at 10:03 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Joys of Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is an acceptable application. I'm not crazy about it, but it works fairly well. I've used OpenOffice Write as well, and I'd say the two are pretty comparable, which should come as no surprise to anyone that's used both as Write is a blatant copy of Word in practically every aspect. But I digress.

I've been using Word for close to 20 years and just now I did something by accident and discovered a very useful feature. I've never been crazy about the "zoom" aspect of Word...how I'm always trying to guess whether I like the zoom better at 85% or 110%, etc. And the bold looks different and the fonts look different at different zoom levels, and changing the zoom level is tedious and confusing, to me anyway.

So, here the trick. Open a Word document, hold down the Control key, and roll your little mouse wheel back and forth. Is that sweet or what?

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 18, 2008 at 12:37 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Sock and Awe

Here's a game where you try to throw a shoe at Bush. That didn't take long, did it? Well, as Tricky Dick once said pretty soon, "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more". Ditto for Bush. So, laugh while you can commies, and I'm sure everyone will try to pin the economic crisis on Bush. But when you're peddling larger government, tax increases and protectionism, you're not going to have a leg to stand on.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 18, 2008 at 11:55 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 17, 2008

2,100-Year-Old Antikythera Device Recreated in Working Form

I just love the Anitkythera Mechanism, because it's so far ahead of what you'd think people were doing 2,000 years ago.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2008 at 7:52 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Early Christmas

Santa hasn't come just yet, but due to a strange travel schedule, I went ahead and gave Jennifer her Christmas presents from daddy tonight. She got an old-school hard-back copy of Freddy The Pilot. This is a classic where Freddy the Pig uses a WWII surplus Norden bombsight to find money buried in the garden. We read this on our own time in the library grade school at some point...I think it was in the 4th or 5th grade.

Plus, I got her a Yamaha PSR-E303 full-sized 61 key synthesizer. She was thrilled with both of them. She stumbled onto a piano keyboard over Thanksgiving holiday out in Iowa and just couldn't walk away from it. I looked at getting a piano, but you're talking about $400 for a used piano, plus moving expenses, plus tuning expenses so it runs up to about a grand pretty quick.

Plus, not only is it light and in perfect tune, this thing has a two track recorded built in, and a MIDI interface so you can record your music and send the files to the PC. Or send music from the PC to the synthesizer and have it play the music from the computer.

It's pretty tricked out and she sat right down and started playing "Fur Elise", which makes her daddy so proud.

Now, we have to see what Santa brings next week.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2008 at 7:33 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Home Mortgage Changes

So the mortgage industry is tightening up, right? I mean, that's what they'd have you believe, any way. Like this post that Glenn Reynolds excerpted on Instapundit:

"Re your post on "projections" - in my case buying a home, and getting a great deal! I am buying a foreclosure property in Florida for my family. The lender, now dumping their REO properties, agreed to let it go for 52 cents on the dollar.

With good credit scores (over 800) and providing full documentation (no-doc or stated income loans are no longer around) I secured a 5.25% 30 year loan."

I love this. "no-doc or stated income loans are no longer around". Brilliant. Well, there's no fooling the mortgage companies then, is there? Like, there's no way you could create a W-2, unless you went here and downloaded your own blank W-2 and filled it out and printed it. Or you could scan a real one and Photoshop it. Ditto for bank statements and other pieces of paper they require.

For income and employment verification, there's no way you could fool them on that one, unless you gave your friend a six pack of beer and asked him to pretend like you worked for him and make $293,000 a year if anyone calls on his cell phone and asks in the next 4 days.

This is such a joke. If they really cared about income verification, they'd get the information from the IRS, not from some guy walking in cold off the street. Income verification is a farce. They may as well offer no-doc loans, instead of requiring a guy to waste a few hours to fabricating the documents they require to get the loan.

Anyone with a computer, a scanner, a printer, and a few hours to kill could produce all the documents required, from bank statements to W-2's to diplomas.

I know. You never thought about this, did you? Of course not. Go back to sleep. All is well, komrade.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2008 at 7:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 16, 2008

Jennifer's Recital

Jennifer's school put on a musical performance tonight, which was surprisingly pretty tolerable. They have a new music director, and she seems to have some talent. Plus, the kids are getting older, so I suppose that over time, they improve somewhat. Some of the girls that sang solos have truly remarkable voices. But you'll have to take my word for it because I don't shoot video.

I've posted some shots from the recital as a 15 Meg (2:49) Adobe Flash slideshow(recital.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above.

These images were all captured with a Canon EOS 40D with a Canon BG-E2 battery grip. The short lens is an image stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM). The long lens is a Canon L-series ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM) with an ET-83C hood. I did not use a flash for these photos, as it would have detracted from the performance.

If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (recital.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro, which I highly recommend.

The soundtrack is Fur Elise by Ludwig van Beethoven, dated 27 April 1810.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2008 at 9:27 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Six Insane Discoveries That Science Can't Explain

There's a pretty cool post on Cracked.com called Six Insane Discoveries That Science Can't Explain. The post covers some mysteries that have never been solved. Some of them I'd heard of, but most of them were new to me. Like this one:

Costa Rica and a few surrounding areas are scattered with giant stone balls. They are smooth and perfectly spherical, or nearly so. Some of them are quite small, a few inches in diameter, but some of them are as large as eight feet in diameter weighing several tons.

They have been chiseled to perfection by persons unknown, despite the fact that Costa Rica is still not scheduled to enter the Bronze Age until 2013.The are balls everywhere and serve no apparent purpose, like a swing club on Gentlemen's Night.

Some of the balls have been blasted apart by locals hoping to find gold, coffee beans, or even babies. Some have been rolled around, but some are too heavy to move even with a bulldozer. Not that they have bulldozers in Costa Rica.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2008 at 8:45 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 15, 2008

Bush Dodges Shoes

At a press conference in Iraq, a reporter stands up and throws two shoes at President Bush. Bush dodges both of them and stands pat at the podium. He doesn't panic and run, like I would have. I think he handled himself remarkably well. The secret service didn't kill the guy and Bush didn't turn and run like a battered woman. Because this is from the extreme left blind-liberal channel MSNBC ("The Power of Change"), however, they don't give Bush any credit and they say he was never in any danger. Well, hind sight is 20/20, isn't it? But then, what do you expect from a news outlet that was susprised terrorism didn't cease immediately once "The One" won the popular vote.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 15, 2008 at 2:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 14, 2008

Puzzle Bobble

Puzzle Bobble is the game we used to play at Electronic Arts. They had a Puzzle Bobble stand-alone arcade game on our floor (2nd) and Hitesh and I used to play it whenever we needed a break. It is simple but addicting.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 14, 2008 at 6:07 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

MIDI Interface Problems

It looks like some people are having trouble getting the MIDI interface to work between PC/Mac and the Yamaha PSR-E303 keyboard. However, the Yamaha UX16 Midi to USB is reported to work without any problems. Interesting.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 14, 2008 at 4:21 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Sledding Season - Day 1

We finally got enough snow on the ground to do some sledding. Here, I've daisy-chained together two Rubbermaid sleds in the front yard with Jennifer in the front and Allie bringing up the rear. The Honda Rancher 350FE 4x4 with electric shift guarantees that the ride is, for them, a perpetual downhill run. No stopping and having to hike back uphill.

The two sleds follow fairly well, but the trick is that you can't ever stop suddenly. And when you're going downhill, you can't even slow down so you have to plan your route through the trees fairly well.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 14, 2008 at 1:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Poaching Christmas

We went into the Pike National Forest and poached a couple of Christmas trees yesterday.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 14, 2008 at 10:52 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 12, 2008

Missing Piano Keys

I've never understood why a piano keyboard has less black keys than white keys. Now, for clarification, I know nothing about music. True - I took piano lessons for 6 years and played the trumpet for 4 years, but I got a degree in Mathematics and I know nothing about math. So, trust me when I tell you I know nothing about music.

But it strikes me as odd that some of the piano keys have sharps and flats, but not all of them do. For instance, the C key has a sharp, but not a flat. Likewise, the B key has a flat, but not a sharp. Most of the white (natural) keys on the piano have a black key in between them, but there is no black key between the B and the C, nor is there a black key between the E and the F. Why is this?

I assume that flats and sharps are about 1/2 of the frequency difference between the two white (natural) keys on the keyboard. So why is there no black key between the B and the C and between the E and the F? I think it would stand to reason that there is no such note (on a piano, at least) as an E Sharp, F Flat, B Sharp, or C Flat. Why is this? Would these two frequencies sound so horrible that it would make humans cringe?

This post on the history of the piano is about the history that I'd expect most idiots to offer and accept. Mindless sycophants handing down the same babble they've been fed at some point along the line. Mindless dolts too dumb to ask the less obvious questions. They explain that the first pianos and organs only had the 7 natural(white) notes and did not have the black (accidental) notes. But later, 5 accidental notes were added to the 7 keys for a total of 12. Brilliant. But still, they fail to address the pressing question - why are there not 7 accidental notes? Arrrgh.

I found this post which shows the corresponding frequency for each piano key in a hypothetical, idealized piano. I loaded the frequencies into Excel and calculated the difference between each note, but I was surprised to find that frequency difference wasn't constant. So, I've got to do more research, obviously.

This post says the following:

C flat and F flat sound (using what's called equal temperament) the same as B and E, so there was no need for additional notes.

It's ultimately to do with the physics of music, and an interesting little feller called the Pythagorean Comma.

For more information, try the wikipedia entry

I looked up the Pythagorean Comma and although I'm no closer to finding the missing piano keys, I am starting to get some clue as to how the notes and octaves are based on fifths. The pitch ratio of a perfect fifth is 3:2.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2008 at 11:38 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Atlas Shrugged


"Atlas has shrugged all over the country.

Like many business owners, we are no longer willing to take all of the financial and legal risks and put up with all of the aggravation of owning and running a business. Not with the prospects of even higher taxes, more regulation, more litigation and more emboldened bureaucrats on the horizon. Like others we know, we are getting out while the getting is, well, tolerable. Many who aren't getting out are scaling back. . . . It is no secret that owners circulated endless emails leading up to election day discussing lay off plans were Obama to win. Entrepreneurs instinctively understand the danger posed by larger liberal majorities in power. The risk-reward equation and fierce independence spirit of start up businesses are anathema to the class warfare, equality of outcome and spread the wealth mentality of the left. . . .

We got into business to be independent. We will get out for the same reason."

This is a great article. A must read. I tried to explain this to my neighbors but they obviously didn't get it as they voted for the communist. The people that they say that want to tax (people making over $250K a year) are the very same people that can control how much they earn. These aren't wage slaves cussing their boss behind his back and praying for the weekend to roll around. They're the risk-takers that drive the economy. They're independent consultants and business owners and they can every easily cut back on their work schedule. They aren't begging their boss for 3 weeks off every year. These are the people that create the jobs and drive the economy. And if you think you can just sock it to them with a massive tax increase, then you're an idiot, a socialist, or worse.

So all the capitalists are collecting their marbles and going home. Reap it, socialists.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2008 at 7:01 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

The Blago scandal is like the gift that keeps on giving. There's so many things to like about it:

"There's the enormous I-should-have-had-a-V8! moment as the mainstream press collectively thwacks itself in the forehead, realizing it blew it again. The New York Times -- which, according to Wall Street analysts, is weeks from holding editorial-board meetings in a refrigerator box -- created the journalistic equivalent of CSI-Wasilla to study every follicle and fiber in Sarah Palin's background, all the while treating Obama's Chicago like one of those fairy-tale lands depicted in posters that adorn little girls' bedroom walls. See there, Suzie? That's a Pegasus. That's a pink unicorn. And that's a beautiful sunflower giving birth to a fully grown Barack Obama, the greatest president ever and the only man in history to be able to pick up manure from the clean end."

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2008 at 6:14 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Change You Can Believe In

Obama wants to kill NASA's moon mission. So there's some change you can believe in. I want to kill it also, but not because I'm against science or space exploration, I just think the private sector can do it better, faster, and cheaper. I want the federal government to go away entirely, from the BATF to the FDIC to the DOE. So, on this one, Obama and I are on the same page. And for those who voted for Obama but didn't want the moon mission killed, he promised you "Change". Maybe next time you might do well to ask the candidate what they mean by that. ;)

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2008 at 5:39 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

These Desperate Economic Times

Yesterday, I went into Car Toys, a chain of stores that installs car stereos. I'd been in there once and convinced myself that I could upgrade my 10 year old car stereo to work with Serius and an iPod for fairly cheap.

So, I looked at some equipment and asked the guy to give me a price.

"Five hundred and forty two dollars," he offered.

I was incredulous. "Are you serious? I don't have five hundred dollars!" I stammered.

But then, I figured that I had him right where I wanted him. The economy is in the toilet. No one is spending any money. We're on the verge of the cataclysmic effects of the next Depression followed by a slow and painful death due to global warming. I know because the media keeps me informed on these things.

"I think you should do it for $400," I counter.

The guy looks at me like I've just told him I want to see him lick his elbow. He's wearing a blue shirt and a tie and he just stares at me. Then he turns to his boss and says "Can you give this guy a better quote than this?" and his boss snaps at him "Just a minute. Can't you see I'm busy here."

And he is busy. His boss is swamped helping other people. The store has lots of people in it. The guy behind me just walked in and announced "I went ahead and got that new truck. I decided to go with the Navigator Package."

The guy finally says "The best we could do is $515.00" and I turn and leave the store. And as I get out into the parking lot, and look at my 10 year old beater next to the shiny new trucks, I think - where is the recession the media keeps bleating about?

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2008 at 9:20 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 11, 2008

UAW Kills Auto Bailout

The latest incarnation of the auto bailout died in the senate today (thankfully). Apparently, it was killed by the UAW over wage cuts to union workers. I don't really care about the Big 3. I personally think that they need to file bankruptcy and move on for a variety of reasons.

First of all, keep in mind that bankruptcy isn't the end of the world. Almost all of the airlines flying today have filed for bankruptcy at some point. And they're still operating. So, filing for bankruptcy doesn't mean that the plants go away. Or the jobs go away, necessarily. They may, but the only thing that would cause the jobs to leave Detroit would be the excessive regulations that make it impossible for a car manufacturer to compete in that region in a global market.

If they would repeal all of the excessively burdensome laws and regulations in that region, then there is no reason that cars couldn't be produced competitively on the shores of the Great Lakes. Granted, it might be by Toyota or Honda or Nissan, but who cares? The Big 3 shunned Dr. Deming and now the rooster is finally coming home to rest. So the Japanese take over the plants in Detroit. Big deal.

The funny thing to me is how much ado is being made in the Senate and House as they try to move forward with an auto bailout. Some of the Republicans are threatening a filibuster in the Senate. This is a farce, as the Dimocrats can kill the filibuster for once and ever more with the Nuclear Option.

But all of this is a tempest in a teapot. The reality is that Obama can do whatever he wants without Congressional approval. Bill Clinton loaned the Mexicans $20 billion when congress refused to appropriate the funds.

We've fought many wars since WWII - in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Panama, Grenada...the list goes on and on. Congress didn't declare war in any of these cases.

Today, congress is a vestigial remnant our founding fathers' vision. Where responsibility is shunned and Senate seats are offered for sale to the highest bidder.

Not one branch of government seems to be functioning remotely as they were intended. The Supreme Court has basically abdicated on their sworn duty to uphold the constitution. The congress has abdicated on their sworn duty to declare war.

As a result, the president today has powers that are much broader than our founding fathers ever intended. We are about to have a man in power that's not even legally eligible to be president of the United States, facing a serious economic crisis, and he's going to have a free hand.

He can bail out the Big Three. He can appoint an "Auto Tsar". He can bail out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He can bail out AIG and buy up surplus houses on the market. He can do whatever he wants and he doesn't need the approval of Congress any more than he needs my permission.

I think we've got front-row seats to watch a socialist dictator grab the reigns and steer Amerika into an unprecedented economic morass.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2008 at 10:34 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Bedtime Stories

My mom and dad read to us religiously growing up and it's one of the warmest memories I have of childhood. So Jennifer and I read a lot together. During the day, we play Backgammon but at night, we read ten pages or so together in bed.

Recently, we read "Freddy Goes to Florida", a story about a bunch of farm animals that decide to migrate to Florida for the winter, a favorite of mine from grade school.

After that, we read Peter DeLeo's book Survive! It's not a book I would have picked for her to read, but I told her the story of how he crashed in the Sierra Nevadas in the dead of winter and then hiked out of the mountains two weeks later, when most people had written him off as dead.

Then for a change of pace, I suggested we read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I've never been a big fan of science fiction. I just don't like the genre, in general, for a multitude of reasons. The movies are the worst, with people in gay fake alien costumes. I just can't watch it.

The books are usually too much for me to read....too self indulgent...too pretentious...too gay. But The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was different. It was just so cynical...so radically different than anything else that I'd tried to read that I fell in love with it and read all of the books in the series.

I tried to communicate to Jennifer what the book was about before she agreed to read it. I told her how a towel was the most important thing a person could have when hitchhiking across the galaxy. How the one guy finally realized the world was truly insane when he read the directions on a box of toothpicks. How they sent all the middle managers to another planet ostensibly to prepare for a new colony, but then just left them there to die. How aliens came to Earth and confiscated the most intelligent lifeform(the dolphins) and left behind a note saying "So long and thanks for all the fish".

And that was enough to peak her curiosity. Tonight, we got as far the part where Ford Prefect put a Babel fish in Arthur Dent's ear so he could understand the Vogon's language. We talked about the Tower of Babel and I told her there's a language translation service on the web named after the babel fish and she thought that was pretty cool.

I'm not sure what we'll read after this book, but I'll be pushing for "Freddy the Pilot" (this is the one where Freddy the pig uses a WWII surplus Norden bomb sight to find money in the garden).

Update: Thanks for the info on the adventure game. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy text adventure game can be played online here.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2008 at 9:21 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Free Sheet Music

I found a website that lets you download free sheet music for different level piano players. That's pretty cool. Not something we had when I was a kid, obviously.


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2008 at 6:15 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Lori Garver Takes on NASA

Obama put a woman in charge of the NASA transition team and things aren't going well. The main problem, me thinks, is that she's not an engineer. Although the fact that she's female isn't helping things, apparently.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2008 at 11:12 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 10, 2008

Down the Memory Hole

Stories noting Obama-Blagojevich meetings disappear down the "memory hole".

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2008 at 9:34 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Chicago Hosts Ethics Conference This Week

Oh boy. This is rich. This week, the city of Chicago is hosting the 30th Annual COGEL (Council on Governmental Ethics Laws) Conference. Classic.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2008 at 11:59 AM : Comments (3) | Permalink

5 Senate Republicans Plan a Filibuster


"At noon Eastern today, five true maverick Republicans will announce their support of a UAW bailout filibuster in Washington.

Senate sources tell me GOP Sens. Shelby, Ensign, and DeMint (as I noted yesterday) will be joined at the press conference by Sens. Vitter and Coburn. Our own Gang of Five! Loins fully girded.

Sen. Vitter will be on the Senate floor at around 11am Eastern to report that he "will use every procedural tool possible to defeat" the latest version of the bailout bill."

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2008 at 9:46 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 9, 2008

Official Obama Birth Certificate Revealed!

The DNC provided this certified copy of Obama's birth certificate in Federal Court today in response to the numerous lawsuits filed throughout the country. I would have lost a lot of money on this, but it looks like Obama was born in Hawaii after all. (Thanks to Robert Racansky for the tip).

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2008 at 9:12 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Honda Rancher Leaking Gas

My Honda Rancher is leaking gas out of a small drain hose connected to the carburetor. I wasn't sure why it was doing this, but brother says that the float in the carb is probably stuck. So, I searched on it and found this post. It says it's either a stuck needle valve or float. So I'm going to spray some carb cleaner in there first and see if that fixes it.

Update: I tore it all apart and found that the needle valve was stuck. So, I went ahead and cleaned it all out real good and then put it back together. Runs like a champ now. The funny thing is that it has a primer for the carb, which I never knew. And when I pulled it, there was about a thimble full of dirt behind the push primer. But Honda designed it this way. It's designed so that any trash in the fuel settles down behind this little push button, I think. But the carb is squeaky clean now. :)

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2008 at 11:16 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Republic Windows and Doors Workers Stage Sit-In

A business in Chicago shut down but the workers refused to leave. Obama showed up and pledged support for the workers.

And this from Nick Gillespie:

"When the history of this awful moment of bailout hysteria is written, there'll be a chapter or 20 on the complete bogosity of what might call 'the infrastructure flim-flam'--the idea that government can boostrap the economy out its funk by hiring two guys to dig a hole and a couple more to fill it in."

Like, we're a full-on communist country and the guy's not even in office yet.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2008 at 10:50 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Illinois Governor Arrested On Corruption Charges

The feds arrested the governor of Illinois on corruption charges for trying to sell Obama's vacant seat. Unbelievable.


Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents Tuesday morning on federal corruption charges, officials said.

His chief of staff John Harris was also charged, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed in a statement.

Blagojevich, 51, and Harris, 46, both of Chicago, were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery.

If you want to see some of the exact quotes, go here, for gems like this:

During a wiretapped November 10 call, a frustrated and financially strapped Blagojevich referred to Obama as a "motherf*cker" and said that he would not appoint an ally of the President-elect to the Senate vacancy if "I don't get anything." Referring to Obama, Blagojevich exclaimed, "F*ck him. For nothing? F*ck him." In a November 11 conversation, Blagojevich remarked that he knew Obama wanted Valerie Jarrett, a longtime confidante, to succeed him, "but they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F*ck them."

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2008 at 10:08 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 8, 2008

Selling the next recession

I dunno why the media is so excited about the coming of the next depression, but they're pushing for it as hard as they ever pushed for "Global Warming". Part of it is just their ordinary fear mongering, "if it bleeds it leads", "the sky is falling", etc. But the bigger part of it, I think, is that they're in the tank for Obama and want be sure to paint any economic downturn during his administration as being an inevitable byproduct of the Bush regime. Only some people are looking around and they're not seeing a recession, much less a depression.


Please click the link and look at the pictures of mobs - more than mobs - of people shopping in London. My wife, youngest son and I went out today to pick up a pair of boots my wife had ordered. We got to the store about two minutes before it was set to open. There was a mob of close to 100 people waiting for the doors to open. When they did open the doors, it was a non-stop flood of people into the store. It got more and more crowded as we picked up the boots and a few other things. When we went to get lunch, all - and I mean all - of the restaurants - were packed and the malls were crazy - cars and people everywhere. Traffic was insane.

What is wrong with this picture? Where is the crisis, exactly? Are there real problems with the economy - sure. Are they the end of the world as we know it? I have real doubts about that. So should you.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2008 at 9:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Obama: Don't stock up on guns

Noting the huge surge in gun purchases, Obama says we don't need to stock up on guns before he takes office. Hahaha. Oh, boy. That's a good one. I'll bet anyone dollars to donuts that when Obama leaves office, you won't be able to buy an AR-15 with a collapsible stock, pistol grip, bayonet lug, and detachable 30 round magazines.

Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign against Gun Violence, said:

"Anyone who thinks they need to rush out and buy a firearm clearly has not been paying attention to how quickly we make progress on this issue. We don't think these are first-time buyers. We think they are people who already have more than enough guns at their homes to protect themselves and are buying more."

That's so rich, I'm not sure where to begin. But lets start with this...the 2nd Amendment isn't about people being able to "protect themselves". It's about overthrowing the government, tree-huggers. And whether you think I need a AR-15 with a pistol grip and bayonet lug and collapsible stock and detachable 30 round magaziens or not really doesn't matter. Cause I got one. And I'm not turning it in. ;)

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2008 at 7:48 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Nikon D3x

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2008 at 5:26 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Beware of the Doghouse

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2008 at 12:23 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 7, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jen!

I've posted some shots from Jen's party as a 7 Meg (3:52) Adobe Flash slideshow(drive.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above.

These images were all captured with a Canon EOS 40D. The short lens is an image stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF-S 17-85mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM). For a flash, I use a Canon Speedlite 580EX mounted on a Stroboframe Pro-T bracket mounted to a Canon BG-E2 battery grip with a custom-fabricated anti-twist bracket with a Gary Fong Light-Sphere II diffuser. The long lens is a Canon L-series ultra-sonic telescopic zoom lens (EF 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM) with an ET-83C hood.

If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (drive.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro, which I highly recommend.

The soundtrack is Drive by Incubus off of Make Yourself CD. Lyrics in extended entry.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Continue reading "Happy Birthday, Jen!"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 7, 2008 at 8:41 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 6, 2008


The place where I work has this photo book in the lobby called Humankind. It has a bunch of photos of people from all over the globe. It's a cool little coffee table book. I liked it so much I ordered a copy for myself.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 6, 2008 at 3:55 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 5, 2008

On The Road

I was out of town this week. And I'm glad to be home. I missed Colorado.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 5, 2008 at 7:54 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 2, 2008

Fort Leonard Wood

There's a screaming baby in the seat immediately behind me and I brought my ear plugs, but somehow I forgot to bring my Bose acoustic noise canceling headphones. So that puts a damper on the flight.

We land in St Louis at about 11:30 p.m. and it's cold outside. Colder than Colorado. I think the river pulls the heat out of the city. But then again, I'm not standing around outside at eleven at night surrounded by a concrete maze, either. So there's that.

But we're just standing here, a few of us, waiting for the shuttle to come. Chewing the fat.
They don't come and they don't come and finally I call them and ask them where the hell they are and a few minutes later, the shuttle rolls up and we all climb on board and we're all sitting down...glad to be inside the shuttle bus and we.

And as we're leaving the airport, a call comes over the radio to the driver from the base..."Is Kiser and Peterson on there?"

He calls back "Is Kiser and Peterson on here" and I say "Yeah!". Meaning, I'm here. I've never heard of the Peterson fellow. But lets just go to the rental car agency and get me a car and forget about Peterson.

But we're halfway back to the rental car place when he clarifies. "Is Peterson here?" and I'm silent this time. I'm not talking but please let's just get to the rental car place. To hell with Peterson and the plane he flew in on.

But now, now we're turning around and there is much mumbling and dissension among the ranks. We're all mad as hell at Peterson as turn around in the middle of the night and head back to the airport.

He parks the shuttle bus and opens the door and what little warm air had accrued in our vehicle rushed out to find the river and we're all sitting there thinking....if Ihad a knife I'd kill Peterson and his family but then Peterson climbs on and about four other fresh faced young kids. They've got their army-issued backpacks with that uber-cool new urban camo scheme that always makes me think I should go out on Ebay and try to find one of those backpacks because I despise my backpack. I hate it so much that I made Jennifer swear to remind me to burn my backpack with great ceremony as soon as we returned to the United States. Predictably, I forgot about it, and she dutifully reminded me this past weekend of my oath.

And now, here are these young men with fine backpacks and at first, I figure that they're back fresh of the front lines, but no. They're too young. Much too young for that. And innocent. They look like graduated from high school this year, probably. Very young. Clean cut. But tough. Like, believe you me, I wouldn't have started anything with any one of them. They were all in great shape. That much was obvious.

They'd been jammed up in some airport on the other side of the country since "oh four hundred" yesterday morning. They were supposed to be in Waynseville, Missouri to start Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood first thing Monday morning, but that didn't happen obviously.

Somehow, all the ill will disappears and everyone else on the shuttle bus claims to have served in the military at some point for their own variegated and sundry reasons, save me of course. I just keep quiet while they all talk about their days in the military.

"Waynesville is the armpit of the country," an old man offers. "We went there in the summer and there were cracks in the ground this wide" and in the dark belly of the rumbling bus, he holds his hands about four inches apart.

I wonder when he would have gone through there. He's not old enough to have been in WWII, I figure.

"I went through Waynesville back in the 50's," he offers, as if answering my unspoken question.

"I was in the Navy for four years. I did my time. Then I got out." Another one offers. And then, he turns to the one closest to him...the youngest...freshest face of the four soldiers and asks "Are you scared?"

"Yeah. A little. Sure. Anxious. Worried. Nervous. Excited. But we're going to be all right." He says. "We're going to be OK...." He says and his voice trails off into uncertainty.

And I think about that. I think about where these guys are headed. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that they're going to be in Afghanistan or Iraq in less than six months and I don't know if these guys will be OK. I don't know if they'll make it or not. I mean, Lord God...don't get me wrong. I hope they're going to be fine. And I respect what they're doing. But deep down, in the darkness of the shuttle bus, as we race through the squalor surrounding Lambert Field, I wonder if they will be OK.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2008 at 10:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Darjeeling Limited

I was skipping through the channels tonight and happened across a movie I'd not seen before. I recognized Owen Wilson and Anjelica Huston, and of course, I started looking for his brother Luke but I didn't see him. The soundtrack is just amazing, and I'm thinking - Wes Anderson. Now I've seen Bottle Rocket and Rushmore and The Royal Tennenbaums so many times I've lost count. I'm a huge fan of Wes Anderson, but I can't afford HBO or Netflix and I refuse to go to the movies or read reviews or really do much at all except shoot crows with a 12 gauge in my underwear, but I digress.

I only caught the end of the movie, but this is apparently the first movie that Owen Wilson was in after his suicide attempt and, in the movie, he stands in front of a mirror with a thousand yard stare and unwraps his bandaged face from a suicide attempt. It's pretty wild Wes Anderson asked him to do that. Very interesting that he agreed to do it.

Now I'm going to have to figure out how to watch the movie.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2008 at 10:21 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

From Bombay to Mumbai

Guess how far it is from Bombay to Mumbai, India. Zero miles. They're they same city. Apparently, Mumbai is the new politically correct term for Bombay. Someone wake me when it's over.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2008 at 8:30 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 1, 2008

Look Up Before It's Too Late

Tonight, right after sunset, which is right now in Colorado, you're supposed to be able to see Venus and Jupiter very close together. Also, with the crescent moon rising, it's suppose to make a smiley face. Or frowny face, depending on your attitude or your lattitude, I guess.


Update: Brian took the photo above from his house on Oahu. (Click on photo for a higher-resolution version.) From my house, it was a frowny face, but from Brian's house, it was a smiley face. Go figure.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2008 at 5:15 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Robbo Mondo

Ana and Jobi drew this portrait of me at lunch today. I'm flattered.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2008 at 4:57 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink