Thursday, April 26, 2012

Four Out Of Five

Four out of five news sources agree that President Obama is leading the country in the right direction.

It reminds me of "four out of five Dentists recommend sugarless gum for their patients that chew gum".  Really??  One of those Dentists actually recommend their patients chew regular gum??!  I wouldn't think that Dentist is very credible.

I don't believe that one news source is very credible either.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Everything New Is Old Again

I'm a camera buff. It started way back in Junior High School when my Dad gave me his old Kodak 35mm camera - I can't remember the model but it was pretty neat even if it was old. I snapped lots of pictures and spent a lot of money getting the film developed. I took a basic photography class in High School, bought a new Nikon EM camera and spent time in the dark room developing my own pictures.

 That's me with the Nikon EM!

 It was always fun to see the images appear right in front of my eyes. Me and a group of girl friends would stay after school some days and develop pictures of each other and we had a lot of fun making copies for each other.
 This B&W picture was much better in reality - it was the scanning technology that cause the effects here.

 I took another basic photography class in college but it was a bit more formal with required themes but still a lot of fun.

 As a tech geek I was delighted when digital photography arrived and I was on the bleeding edge of technology when I bought my first Casio digital camera. Now I could snap pictures like crazy without having to spend time in the dark room or spending a fortune having them  developed. But the quality was very poor and the pictures were grainy, small in size with various other quality issues.

That's me and my Ex with the first Casio camera visible

Here is a family Christmas pic of me and the Ex with the first Casio digital.

Click to see the full size and notice the quality - or lack of quality. Still cool.

A few years later I bought another Casio 4mp
camera and the quality was MUCH improved. It is still my primary camera even though the display is so dim I can't see it in sunlight. I'll be using it for a while longer as I just can't afford to buy a new one yet. Click the sunflower pic to see the noticeable quality improvement.

Thankfully my cell phone has a great 6mp camera and now I use it for most of my digital picture moments. The quality is amazing for a cell phone and the pictures can be blown up very large if needed without ever noticing it is a digital picture.

 Here is a picture taken of the lobby at my office taken with the cell phone.

Finally we have quality digital photography that even beats 35mm pictures in some cases. Almost everyone has a camera phone these days with the same capabilities to take amazing clear beautiful pictures.

With the computer came photo editing software which allowed me to actually improve a lot of those old photos I took with the Kodak 35mm camera and the first digital cameras. Suddenly all my old pictures were starting to look much better. But apparently progress doesn't always mean moving forward.

The currently technology trend is to take great digital pictures and make them look ............ well...... worse. Photo editing websites like and cell phone apps like Instagram have tools and filters that make your high quality digital picture look old, grainy, weathered and time worn. This is progress?! I have to admit that I think a lot of the pictures I've seen are pretty cool and I'm even experimenting with it myself - in fact I really love the site. But this retro fad is also getting on my nerves. It seems nobody can post a picture that looks like it was taken in 2012.

 This is an Instagram picture taken with my cell phone only moments ago with a filter appropriately named for this article called "1977".  That's nearly the same time frame as the first picture of this article.

 I waited a long time to get quality digital photography - now the technology is being wasted. But all is not lost. In most cases the original picture still exists - the old looking one is usually just a copy. However those pictures people post on their Facebook timeline and other on-line sites will remain as the alleged originals for as long as the websites are available.

It seems somewhat bizarre that in the future we will be looking back at our old pictures of the last decade and can marvel at how much better they look than the instagram picture I took just now.

4/27/12 - Update

So here is a fun update.  I usually use Google Picasa to edit photos - especially the old ones to correct the faults.  So I took the Instragram photo above and applied the "I'm Feeling Lucky" filter like I normally would to "fix" the picture.  Here are the results.  Original (below left), Instagram (above), and Picasa "fixed" (below right)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ten Dollars a Gallon?!

I'm not talking about gasoline folks - although I'm sure that's not far off. I'm more concerned with the price of laundry detergent. Why is it so expensive and rising all the time?! I'm not sure what the stuff is made of and probably don't want to know (protein gets out protein) but I'm fairly certain they make an obscene profit on it - even with the bargain brands.

Sun Screen is even worse! It is up to $10 for a few ounces - and rising quickly. What magic ingredient is so rare that it could cost that much to manufacture? Even the No-Ad and store brands are expensive.

Don't even get me started on ink cartridges for my printer! Now were talking $10 for a few drops! Who can afford it?! Not me - my printer has been out of ink for months and there is no hope in the immediate future of getting more.

I guess that's why I see so many luxury boats, cars, RV's and mansions down here in S. Florida. I have no problem with people making a modest profit on their goods and services but I think we are all paying way to much for basic necessities these days. When talking basic necessities we are talking millions of units sold daily. Can we please try to bring prices down to a reasonable level again? Thank you in advance.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I-95 Tolls = Double Taxation

They are about to begin installing express lanes on Interstate 95 through Broward County Florida where I live. While I am normally in favor of express lanes, these come at a price through fluctuating tolls. We have already paid for I-95 through taxes and any improvements should also be taxpayer funded with all citizens benefiting equally. Adding tolls to taxpayer funded roadways or bridges is double taxation. Not only that but the flexible tolls results in nothing less than class warfare. Why should the Executive who can afford a $7 toll during rush hour get to their meeting while an unemployed person will be late for their job interview because they don't have $7 for a toll?! That is grossly unfair.

The argument for the tolls states that everyone benefits because those that can afford the tolls ease traffic for everyone by getting them out of the non-toll lanes. Well that is true - but the same argument holds true even if there are no tolls. Drivers who will utilize the express lanes will still ease traffic for those in the non-express lanes. There really is no good justification for added tolls on a publicly funded roadway. It is a clear case of double taxation.

Somehow this got approved and already installed in Dade County (Miami). I commented on the news articles with my objections at the time the tolls were announced in Dade County but since I don't commute to Miami I felt it was a decision better left to those affected most. Now it's gotten personal. I use I-95 daily and expect to be able to use all lanes at any time without additional cost. So I am revolting against these tolls! I am doing research on how best to protest this but so far I'm not having much luck. If any readers have suggestions I would appreciate it.

Be warned - this will soon be happening throughout the USA. It has already been implemented in other states. We can't sit idly by in a traffic jam while the wealthy get to work on time.

Express Lanes - Yes!
Express Lane Tolls - NO!!!


All that Chaz

Chaz Bono is Egypts Presidential front runner?! Who knew!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Funny Technology

Last night I had to reboot my washing machine. I was doing laundry when a big storm came up and lightning struck very close to the house and the power went out for just a second. Later I noticed the machine seemed to be stuck just turning. I tried all different button pushes and I finally got it to stop but it wouldn't unlock the door. Finally I had to unplug it for a bit and plug it back in and I was good to go.

Last night I had to reboot my washing machine. I never thought I'd ever say that.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Prophets, Divine Inspiration and the Son of God

I'll admit this probably isn't the best article to write during the Catholic Holy Week, but I've been thinking about this for quite some time. I do not intend to be disrespectful or blasphemous but rather thought provoking. It has taken me a while to write this because I doubt I'll be able to put into words properly what has been long debated in my head - but I'll do my best.

Prophets - The Bible and many other holy books speak of Prophets who foretold of future world events and how those events were eventually fulfilled. The Prophets are revered as divinely inspired and ultimately wise. We have Prophets in our current times too but we think of them differently. We call them Fortune Tellers. When is the last time you saw someone reading a tarot card and thought of them as wise or divinely inspired? If you see someone with a crystal ball you probably think more of magic than miracles. As a child raised in the Catholic faith, I was always told that magic and fortune tellers were the work of the devil - to be avoided at all costs. Why does the Church revere the fortune tellers of the past and condemn those in our own time?

Testaments - The Bible and many other holy books are full of eye witness testaments that are said to be undeniable proof of events of the times. However, I've learned recently that many of those so called eye witness testimonies were written decades after the fact. Not only that but these testaments have been re-written and interpreted over and over again throughout their existence. I'm reminded of the childhood game we used to play where all the kids sat in a circle and the first kid would whisper a sentence to the next kid and so on until the last kid would tell what they heard. In almost every case the sentence was completely inaccurate after only 5 or 6 interpretations of one basic sentence. Imagine what can happen after 10 to 50 years have passed. Revisionist history is rarely accurate and totally subjected to the bias and opinions of those who speak it. I can recall many examples of revisionist history in our own recent past. It happens now and it certainly happened back in biblical times.

Divinely Inspired - I'll admit I've had some of my most "ah-ha!" moments after a couple glasses of wine - I call them "Merlot Moments". Others have made even more profound mental discoveries after a toke or two of wacky-tabacky. Both of these mind altering drugs - along with many others are completely natural and have been readily available throughout the history of man. Wine is even mentioned in the Bible. We cannot assume those who claimed to be divinely inspired were perfectly sober. But if they had a pen in their hand at that particular moment - it became the written word. I've written a few of these words myself thinking they would make a fantastic blog article to be published the next day. I've enjoyed a good chuckle reading those words the next morning. Thankfully I hadn't already mailed my letter from John to the Ephesians that couldn't be deleted or retracted.

Son of God - Lots of folks have claimed to be the Son of God. They didn't believe Jesus until after they killed him first. These days you will find those who claim to be the Son of God nicely medicated and perhaps enjoying an extended stay in a Nut Hut. Who is to say (besides the Bible) that God only had one son - if any? And why no daughters? I admit that there were extraordinary events surrounding the life of Jesus - but they were written decades later as I previously mentioned. They thought Jesus was crazy and blasphemous at the time just as we think the folks in modern times are crazy when they claim to be the Son of God. We just don't kill them now most of the time. We just make them medically behave.

I think my point about all of this is that we really need to think about the ancient documents we use to rule (not guide) our lives. We need to carefully evaluate not only holy books but also constitutions and laws of the land. Do they still apply? Are they completely accurate? Should they be amended to accommodate modern times? Do they apply to all people in all cultures and all religions? Should they be used to prosecute and condemn or teach and enlighten?

Few things are certain - but there is one absolute truth - God wrote nothing down. All words that have been recorded were done so by human hands and are a product of human bias, that person's mental state, and the times in which they were recorded. We must always remember that.

Shaving Shame

I've never understood why men would choose to shave at the gym - yet I see it every time I go there. Plus I see guys shaving their entire head too! Mind you, if there were mirrors that made it possible to see the back of your head I would totally understand the benefit - but that isn't the case. These guys actually have to pack up all their shaving gear, drag it to the gym, unpack it all, shave in what I would consider an unsanitary environment, pack it all back up again, drag it home and unpack it once more (unless they have a 2nd kit just for the gym). Doesn't sound very convenient to me.

Possible explanations:
They enjoy public nudity. Fine - so why are they not nude?

They grow a beard quickly and need to shave several times a day. Perhaps - but these are no grizzly bears I'm seeing.

Well - those are the only reasons I can think of. It just seems weird to me.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

No Romney Please!

I am no fan of Rick Santorum - he is way, way WAY too conservative extremist for me and America. But I have to say - when comparing him to Romney - I'd have to choose Rick. At least Rick has the guts to speak his mind and can speak of his (horrible) vision of America. He owns his hatred and bigotry. Meanwhile, I'm listening to Romney right now give a victory speech in the Primaries and all I hear from him is lies and more lies about President Obama. His supporters are cheering wildly. It's very sad that a person can run for President on a platform of lies and misconceptions. And it's very worrisome that so many people can support that person without question. The Republican party itself is not that thrilled with Mitt either - but all agree "anyone but Obama". It's horrifying to think this man could be our President. I can't believe we would "settle" for this man.