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October 30, 2013

Al's Music Studio

Melanie - Brand New Key
The Playmate - Beep Beep
Little Anthony and the Imperials - Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop
The Carpenters - Yesterday Once More
The Carpenters - Close To You
The Carpenters - For All We Know
The Carpenters - Ticket to Ride
The Carpenters - Rainy Days and Mondays
The Carpenters - Yesterday Once More

Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Trouble Water
Simon and Garfunkel - The Boxer
Simon and Garfunkel - Mrs. Robinson
Simon and Garfunkel - The Only Living Boy in New York

Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again
Tony Orlando and Dawn - Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree
Albert Hammond - It Never Rains In Southern California
Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 30, 2013 at 1:55 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 29, 2013

Driver's Education

It's really hard to identify everything that a child needs to learn to drive a motor-vehicle alone down the highway. Like, I've been driving for 30 years, so you pick up a lot of do's and don'ts along the way, consciously, and otherwise. I could never have imagined how hard it is to teach someone how to drive just because of the number of unique situations that occur on a daily basis:

On a 4-lane road, if you're not passing, you should be in the right-hand lane. If people are passing you on the left, you're an idiot.
When you back out of a driveway, parking space, etc., make sure that you back into your lane. Women routinely back into the oncoming line, then force everyone to stop, while they pull forward into their correct lane. This is unacceptable.
When you park on a hill, use your parking brake. If there is a curb, turn your wheels into the curb.
When you're going down a long, steep hill in the mountains, don't burn up your brakes. Downshift into a lower gear.
Watch for the marbles in the turns. Every turn has them. No one knows why.
If you have an acceleration lane, use it. Do not stop if you have an acceleration lane. Floor it, and find a spot to get over before the end of the acceleration lane.
If someone is merging onto a 4 lane road and you are blocking their entrance, check to see if you can move over. If you can safely change lanes, then do so and allow them to merge.
Do not come to a complete stop for stop signs. This is something the driver's ed instructor teaches you. A California stop is much safer, and saves gas.
Follow the 2 second rule. Do not get closer than 2 seconds behind the car in front of you.
If someone is following you too closely, do a brake check to get them off your ass. You are in grave danger if someone is following you too closely.
Do not swerve for anything smaller than an elk. Changing lanes to avoid a dog and hitting a minivan full of six people head-one is a bad idea. If you can't stop in time, and the oncoming lane isn't clear, stay in your lane and kill the dog.
If you're coming up to a stop sign, a red light, or a sharp turn, get your foot off the gas. The sooner the better. Save your brakes.
Anticipate what is going to happen. Watch far ahead of where you are driving.
Read street signs.
Use your turn signal. It's there for a reason.
Dim your lights when you see a car approaching.
Watch for signs of other cars. When you see the headlights of other cars approaching, dim your lights as soon as practicable. You don't need to blind them first.
Use your horn. It's there for a reason. If the guy beside you starts to come into your lane, honk at him to let him know.
For now, the cell phone and the radio are too much of a distraction. Maybe one day, you'll be a good enough driver to drive with the radio on. You're not there yet.
Know how to change a tire.
Know where your jack and spare are located.
Read your owner's manual. Figure out what all of the things on the dashboard do. Jen didn't know what a "Tachometer" was. No shame in it. She knows now.
Keep emergency tools in your vehicle. Flashlight. Spare fuses. Fuse puller. Fuse tester. Cell phone. Cell phone charger.
Learn how to change your oil. Learn how to check all of your fluid levels. Anti-Freeze, Windshield Washer fluid, oil, etc.
It's OK to call 911. If you see a person broken down, or in an accident, go ahead and call 911. It's good to practice, so you'll know what to expect in a more serious emergency.
In the winter, you should have emergency cold weather gear. Jacket. Gloves. Boots. Hat. Candy/MRE's.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 29, 2013 at 3:23 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Nuke It From Orbit

All summer, the skunks would spray right outside my window, and I could never figure out why, because I'm not that bright.

Finally, I realized that they were probably eating the seeds that the chickadees spilled from the bird feeder, and then getting spooked by a dog, a fox, or something, and spraying right outside my window.

"This," I decided, "has got to stop."

My plan was to get out the "BIG" animal trap, catch the offending varmints, and dispatch them to meet their makers.

But the skunks are smarter than you might think. They actually dug under the trap to get at the bait, some leftover Beau Jo's Pizza. Finally, I put a rotisserie chicken carcass after eating the oysters out of the back (thanks Amelie!)

Put the chicken carcass inside a polyproplene mesh bag, tied it to the roof of the cage so that skunks couldn't dig underneath to steal the bait. Blocked access to their previous tunneling efforts with large stones, and lubricated all of the moving parts of the trap with grease from a grease gun in the garage.

So now, I was reasonably sure that I'd be able to catch a skunk. But what to do with it once you catch one? My history with skunks is nothing to be proud of. I've been sprayed twice. The first skunk sprayed me when, as a young, foolish kid, I chased a skunk with a hose. The 2nd time I was sprayed was when, as a old, foolish man, I opened the trap to release a skunk I'd inadvertently trapped. The skunk didn't even spray me when I opened the trap. He sprayed me when I decided he wasn't leaving the open trap fast enough, so I poked him with a stick.

I was well aware of the dangers of trapping a skunk. Like, if you have a live animal in a skunk trap, then you've got a much bigger problem than you had before you set the trap. My solution was to hook a 25' tow strap onto the cage and pull it out into the yard. The logic being that I could pull the skunk in the trap with the ATV, and kill him down in the woods.

So, last night, I checked and, sure enough, I had a skunk in the trap. Fair enough. I went back to sleep. Like, this is not something I wanted. It's just where we are. They won't stop spraying my house. I'm going to fix the problem. Just not sure what the cost will be at this point.

Get back in bed, go back to sleep. I really don't want to get up and deal with this skunk. Like...can't we just call it a draw?

Phone rings and wakes me from a dead sleep at 11:30 a.m. It's my ex-gf, and she wants to meet for dinner. I'm kinda like "Now is not the best time for me...really...because...I...ah....have a live skunk in a trap that I have to deal with....my success rate with skunks is not good....it's uh...nothing to be proud of, shall we say?"

"Leave that skunk alone. Do you know how many there are? They're everywhere. Let it go and I'll see you at six."

Change clothes into some clothes that I don't really like so, if I have to burn them later, it won't be a great loss.

Of course, I can't really even "let it go" at this point. I'm deeply committed. Figure the best course of action is to shoot it in the trap. Decide to use a .22 long rifle because it's a very quiet round, but also quite lethal.

Walk out into the front yard with a camera, a .22 rifle, and a cell phone. Now, the cell phone is ringing, so I answer it. I'm about to make a very big mistake, I'm sure. There's obviously something wrong with my brain, but I'm not sure what, exactly. I'd love to get an MRI and have a doctor point out, "Here...here we see the problem...the part of the brain that considers the repercussions is completely dead...it's as dead as melba toast"

I answer the cell phone. .22 in one hand. 400mm lens in the other. Skunk asleep in a cage beneath my front picture window.

"Hey...This is Monica...I just submitted you for the project we discussed. They came back and they're really beating us up over the price. How flexible are you on your rate?"

"Look. I told you already I can't work for less than the rate I quoted you If I can't get that, then I'm not getting out of bed. It's not worth it for me."

"OK. I"ll go ahead and submit you then. Thanks for your patience."

The problem most people make is that they're willing to work for less money than they're worth. I'm just the opposite. I refuse to get out of bed unless I'm outrageously overpaid. If I lose my house, I'm OK with that. You can't take it with you.

I start lining up for the kill shot. I should point out here that it's freezing cold outside. We'll come back to that. Now, in theory, if I could get a clean kill shot, the skunk won't spray. That's the theory. In practice, what happens is you miss the kill shot, the skunk gets royally pissed, and pretty much nukes the world before he passes.

Also, you have to consider the bullet-ricochet trajectory. So, I look at the other houses in the book, and try to pick an angle where a ricochet won't hit the houses of any retired people. (All the working class are down the hill - they're on their own.)

The first shot doesn't kill him, so I end up shooting him about a dozen times. Then, I grab a handful of wet grass, toss it in the air, and watch which way it blows. Now, I see where the wind is blowing. I grab the end of the tow strap, and start pulling the cage into the woods behind the house. Then, it hits me.

An atomic blast wave of skunk scent drifts my way somehow. Radiating from the dying skunk like the Trinity shockwave rolling across the Jornada del Muerto desert of New Mexico. I imagine a fleet of National Guard Chinook helicopters pouring boron onto my roof like they did at Chernobyl.

Why did I think it would be a good idea to trap a skunk right underneath my bedroom window? Obviously you'd want a "Nuke-It-From-Orbit" skunk strike to be very far away from the house, not right under your front picture window. Thank God I only caught one. What if I'd caught 2 or 3? What then?

I drag the skunk down into the woods behind the house. Abandon the whole apparatus down there, tow strap and all. Walk back up to the house. Slowly, it dawns on me that all of the doors to the house are locked except the ground-zero-front-door, and I don't have a key. And, I had 2 spares made yesterday, but they're both inside.

Also, remember, it's freezing cold outside. On a warm day, you could go to the other side of the house and throw the windows open. But today, if I throw open the back windows like I'd like to, I'd freeze to death in less than an hour. So, I crack them, and I'm shivering in the skunk-house when the phone rings, and it's my ex-gf..."How'd things turn out with the skunk?" she wants to know.

"Ah....just fine. No problem. I'll see you at six."

"You want me to come by and pick you up?"

"Naw. I'll just meet you up there. If you get there first, tell them we want a table by the creek."

"But it's freezing. It's snowing at my house."

"I been outside all day. I feel like getting some fresh air."

"You didn't get into it with that skunk did you?"

"Who? Me? No. I checked the trap and he was gone."

"OK. I'll see you at six."

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 29, 2013 at 12:18 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

October 25, 2013

Computer History

I think I may have lost some files at some point, so I'm trying to reconstruct my computer history to see if I can identify what went wrong.

1981 Purchased TRS-80 Color Computer.
1993 Purchased Gateway TBR3 600 P3 - Windows 98 PC.
2001 Purchased Dell Dimension 4550 - Windows XP PC. Condition: Working.

2004 September - I dropped my Sony Vaio PCG-8L1L on interstate 280 in CA on Monday, September 27th, 2004 going 95 mph. It was pretty hammered, but it still worked, though.

2006 June - I purchased another Sony Vaio in 2006, I think this is when my Sony Vaio PCG-8L1L finally died on me. I walked into a computer store around Nashville and bought a new one off the shelf for about $2K, as I recall. This was probably the Sony Vaio SZ120P.

2006 October - I hopped a freight train in Middle Tennessee, which caused the frame to pop out and bent the keyboard, as I recall. This was with the new Sony Vaio SZ120P. Condition: Unknown. (Laptop is MIA.) I believe this computer died on me last year (in 2012), and I recovered the hard drive contents, and trashed the laptop.

2006 October - Purchased Buffalo TeraStation. Condition: Working.

2007 December - My windows desktop crashed. Bought new hard drive. Reinstalled XP SP2.

2008 April - Dell Dimension 4400 PC becomes the new PW web server.

2009 July - Purchased WD 4TB Sharespace. Condition: Working.

2010 July - Purchased 4 Dell computers from GSA auction for $269. One is upstairs in my bedroom. One is at Michelle's house. One was used to replace Jen's Dell XPS system when it died. Not sure where the 4th one is.

2010 October - Replaced Sony Vaio VGN-SZ120P laptop hard-drive.

2011 March - Purchased Sony Vaio VPCYB15KX Laptop running Windows 7, with 4 Gigs of RAM and a Hitachi 500 Gig 2.5" SATA Hard Drive. Had Sony FedEx it to my house. Took it to Hawaii. Crashed on the trip, losing my photos. Condition: Unknown. Location: MIA.

2012 March - Replaced the LCD screen on Jennifer's Sony Vaio VPCCW14FX Laptop.

2012 August(?) - Sony Vaio VGN-ZA120P finally died. Condition: Deceased. Location: MIA.

2012 September - Purchased a Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 notebook from someone in SF. Carrie had one and I kind of liked the size of it. I upgraded the RAM, but it was too slow, so I gave it to Jay when I left SF.

2013 January - Purchased the most tricked out MacBook Air from Apple that money could buy at the time. (This one is mine. Jennifer already had one.)

Jennifer had a MacBook Air. At some point, Jennifer's MacBook wasn't really holding a charge any more, so I bought her a used MacBook from some guy off of craigslist when I was out in Southern California. This would have been in 2016/2017.

2013 February - Ordered 12 TB Synology DiskStation DS413. Condition: Working.

Current Desktop Computers Running on home network:
Dell Dimension 4550 - (My PC)
Dell Dimension 4400 - (PW Web Server)
Dell Dimension 3000 - ? (Appears to be non-functioning)

Dell Optiplex GX270 - Sanitized by OCIO - Condition unknown.
Dell Optiplex GX270 - National Park Service - Condition unknown.
Dell XPS 410 - Jen's old desktop(?) - Condition unknown.
Gateway TBR3 600 P3 - Windows 98 PC. Condition unknown.

Dell Inspiron 4000 laptop - Windows ME. Condition unknown.
Sony PCG-GRZ660 laptop - This is the one I dropped on the interstate in CA.
Sony Vaio VPCCW14FX / PCG-6112L - This was Jen's laptop at some point. Condition unknown. I think we bought her this in 2010.

Dell XPS. Not clear what this was.

I think that what happened is that my Sony Vaio SZ120P finally died some time last year (2012). And, in an attempt to replace it, I bought the Asus brick, which was too big/heavy. Then, I bought the Dell Inspiron Mini 1012 computer that was too small/slow. Then, I finally ended up buying the MacBook Air, the iPad 3, and the Bluetooth keyboard for my iPhone 4S.

I think that Jen's Dell XPS desktop died on her at some point, and I swapped it out with a box I bought from an auction down at the Federal Center. I bought a slew of PC's at auction, but don't have any real records of the event. I believe it was in 2008 though.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 25, 2013 at 2:17 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 15, 2013

US Embassy in Mexico City


Gary Patton was last seen on September 5th, 2013, at the Jardines hotel in San Quintin (SAHN kah-TEEN), in the lawless fronterra with Mexico, in the Mexican state of Baja California Del Norte.

(From the U.S.) 011-52-55-5080-2000, extension 0

Please be aware that the embassy is closed for all Mexican and U.S. Holidays.

If you're an an American in distress, press 1.

The person at extension 4440 is not available to take your call. Please leave a message after the tone.

Bennet, Michael F. - (D - CO) Class III
(202) 224-5852
Contact: www.bennet.senate.gov/contact/

Udall, Mark - (D - CO) Class II
(202) 224-5941
Contact: www.markudall.senate.gov/?p=contact

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 15, 2013 at 3:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 8, 2013

Jen's Jeep

Above: Jen's Jeep, at sunset, the day we bought it. 10/8/2013. Lakewood, Colorado.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 8, 2013 at 9:10 PM : Comments (4) | Permalink

October 2, 2013


I'm trying to identify what type of GameCam I have. Purchased it in 2010 from Bass Pro Shop. It says "Wildgame Innovations". Manufactured 09/2010. Looks like the "SW Version" is "IR2-05052010".

So, I'm thinking this is a Wildgame Innovations IR-2 Game camera. Now, to find a manual for the thing. OK. Now, I've got a manual for it saved here:


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 2, 2013 at 2:11 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink