Sunday, February 28, 2016

The roller derby album, Harbor City and Cedar Rapids plus change...

I am an anomaly, in the age of digital everything I shoot manual lens (manual zoom, aperture, and focus) on a digital format.  The focus is soft, sometimes it is off.  I get to save about 5% of the shots.  The results are random and often troubling.

I love it...

This is what I ended up with from the bout on Saturday....
N speed at all in roller derby, makes catching the shots a challenge sometimes....

Soko Rebel and Ian Zane

Dread Kennedy

Fisher Price watching the action

Clever Derby Name gets a break

Cedar Rapids jammer gets free!

Soke Rebel either saying, "hey, I'm going to call this off" or "Hands up, don't shoot!"

Norweigan Squirrel ramps up to speed....

Bacon, he isn't a pig....

Strong walls!

Squirrel breaks free again (it was a theme)

The one hand points at the jammer, the other stay up to indicate lead.

Cedar Rapids jammer makes it through again!

I have no idea what Dread it trying to indicate here.

Clever Derby Name gets free again...

Putting on speed in the corner.

Pre-Flash Gordon is making sure that the penalties are all tracked and photogenic.

Got washed out by someones flash, but still a cool shot.

Hold that wall!

Ian Zane indicates lead for Cerad Rapids.

I Think Squirrel is breaking out again....

What?

Strong walls.

This is what happens when you get completely blasted by someone else's flash....

I think that may qualify as a stink eye...

Clever is not sure that she likes what she is seeing out there...

Completely innocent...

It must be the second bout, Bacon is jam reffing....

Oh, so photogenic....


Went to a roller derby, odd to see the carnage from a different angle.

It was interesting to watch a bout from the outside.  It was fun to watch, although I have the advantage that after refereeing for six years I understated how the game is played.

I am getting ready to start digging through the several hundred photos I shot to make a post out of.  It will take a little while and I still have chores to accomplish today.

I just started importing the 728 photos into my computer....

This may take a while.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Figured out the focus on the telescope for when using a camera, and its nice out.

I figured out the focus on the telescope so I an no mount my digital camera on it and take pictures of things very very far away.

Also, it is fifty degrees in February and I am going for a bike ride, because, well, why the hell not?

Skiing on Friday and biking on Saturday, supposed to snow tonight.  This is the new normal apparently.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Beards

Are beards just a thing because it allows you to hide your fucked up face?

Friday, February 19, 2016

This has been a pathetic winter.

I look out in the backyard today and the snow is melting.  It never got over about six inches deep to begin with, but now, it is February, and what is left, is melting away.

I am not happy about this.

I cannot go skiing because it is raining.

In February.

I had a friend post last night talking about the thunderstorms they were getting north of us.

In February.

This is ridiculous.

In other news I discovered the Robinhood stock trading app and now I am pondering how capital gains work.

Turns out if I hold on to my investments over a year I pay taxes at the lower Capital Gains long term investment rate.  This is going to change how I want to buy and sell things, although there are a few stocks I am still going to blast at just keeping my earnings under the reporting limits, considering that I only have about 10-20 dollars a piece in the little ones this should not be that hard.

I have my telescope but it has been an absurdly overcast winter and as a result it is not getting any use.  I am going to start designing the observatory so that I can get started on building the complex parts as soon as possible.

I think I figured out how I want to create the drive on the dome so this will make life a bit easier on me.

Anyway, that is all I have until I get ambitious later.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

First day with the Skywatcher 8" goto Dobsonian telescope

I bought this telescope a little bit on a whim.  I really, really, really wanted a decent telescope to play with.  Well I ordered from B&H and on the day that UPS said it was going to be delivered it arrived.

So you would think that the first thing I was going to do was put it together and start playing, right?

Nope I had a bad case of the plague/creeping crud/herd of rhino-viruses....

I was down for the count, I mean I missed work, that is huge, I think it was the first time I have been sick from work this decade.

I was so Ill they almost made me an honorary Beastie Boy....

But today when I got home from work I was feeling much better!  I mean I can stay vertical for more than 45 minutes at a time now!  This is a huge improvement.

I decided to go and tackle the huge task of assembling a telescope which took me all of an hour.

I didn't even need tools, they were all provided.

I took pictures through!

Like I said, it arrived in two boxes.  I was not healthy enough to haul the shorter of the two down the stairs until today, damn that plague.

But it is about 80 pounds of telescope all together.  Once we get a reasonable night for viewing I will report on how well it works for seeing the stars. 

The lighter box contains the telescope tube, underneath is another box which contains the finder-scope, eyepieces, and all of that jazz.  They did include a helpful warning to to aim the telescope at the sun, I wonder why?

The other (and considerably heavier) box contains the base and Synscan system.  This is all made out of pre-cut particle board which is reasonably durable as long as you keep it dry, but generally speaking, you do not need to take your telescope out in the rain.

Secon box also contains the instructions.  They are pretty self-explanatory, but worth having around.

This is the base, the two sides, and the front (still in wrap).  If you look to the right there are a couple of bags of hardware.  The nice thing is that the hard ware was all bagged by what it went with and separated by step.  As in the handles came with the screws for the handles, the feet had the screws for the feet.  The eyepiece mount came with the screws for the eye-piece mount.  It was pretty slick!

Ignore the 8" lens sitting on the end of the table, it was unfortunately shot.  But here are all of the controllers, the only thing that I have to make up is a battery connector so that I have a 12 volt battery with a cigarette-lighter connector on it.  I suppose I should figure out the polarity as well, meh.

30 minutes later, and with the exception of the finder-scope it is all together and ready to rock!  I mean, seriously, 30 minutes!

I am going to see what the sky looks like tonight and I may take a look towards M42 if it is clear and not too absurdly cold, other than that it may stay in hiding until spring actually gets here.  However the summers up here are long and generally clear for days on end!  That is going to be awesome!

Once I have some pictures taken through the telescope I will post those on the blog here!  Did I mention I bought all the adapters for that, because I did!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Adventures in Homelessness, The Mobile Home

Since the New Year, I've converted my mid '90's full sized van into a mobile home (of sorts).

I've also received some interesting questions to common problems, to which I've had rather creative solutions.

"What does it look like?"
It resembles a stereotypical FBI surveillance van or a contractor van. It's all white, without side windows, without writing, all the hubcaps look new and new tires.

"Where do you park?"
I typically park in industrial parks, where there are literally 20 other identical vans used for delivery.

"Where do you keep your stuff?"
I rented a storage locker for $168 per month, which has a light socket. I've added a 'wall plug' to the light socket to siphon off electricity to charge any of my electrical toys.

"Where do you eat?"
My job has a pretty nice 'break-room', that has a refrigerator and freezer, a toaster oven, a coffee pot, a microwave and sink. I keep a few days worth of food at work, either in the fridge, freezer or my works locker.

"Where do you use the bathroom?"
While I have a 5 gallon pail fitted with trash bag liners, 2 lids, one which has an actual toilet seat fitted onto the pails lid, and standard 'kitty litter' to handle the initial smells, I have only needed to use it twice, during the weekends when I am not working, and spending time alone.

"Where do you shower?"
I paid for a gym membership. My gym has a swimming pool, a spa, a sauna, and a few dozen showers, besides lockers and a full supply of every thinkable kind of exercise equipment.

"Where do you sleep? Is it warm?"
This is the question that's asked most often...  Yes, it's VERY warm, and I don't need to run my engine to keep it warm, but it's because I've become creative. I have a queen sized air mattress and a 'bag hammock', depending on what I feel like at the time. I've also installed a 'backup battery', ran parallel to the 'main battery', and set up to connect to the 'main battery', with a electric solenoid, because the high amperage switch was more costly.  I have a simple low amp (fused) switch to control the solenoid activated 'high amp' line (also fused) to charge the 'house battery'.

The 'house battery' is a pair of 1,000 cold cranking amp, deep cycle, deep cell marine batteries ran parallel. It has a 1,500 watt power inverter connected directly to it, with bluetooth control, voltage cutout control, and also controlled 'on/off' with switch on the dash.  It controls a 40 foot, 40 watt LED rope light, zip tied to the ceiling, an 80 watt electric blanket, besides having the capacity to charge my phone, tablet, netbook, laptop, and all my peripheral external storage drives, a special router to 'bounce' (capture and rebroadcast) any unsecured wireless connections (along with a home-made directional antenna).

In general, here's how I have spent my days.

I wake up at 4 am. I get dressed from a small bag of clothes, which carry 5 pairs of each type of clothes; jeans, shirts, socks, underwear, and I pull on my boots. I turn off the switch to all the 'house items'. I start my van after checking the fluids. After starting the van, I switch the solenoid 'on' from having depleted the battery from the previous evening. I typically let my van warm up for about 5 minutes before driving it anywhere, usually enjoying a cigarette while I walk around it. Then, I drive the 10 to 15 minutes to work, getting the initial charge in the 'house batteries', and spending another cigarette after arriving, letting the van idle for a total of a half hour. I leave the solenoid connected after shutting off the engine.  Then I go into works office.  I pour myself a hot cup of coffee, and use the bathroom before my shift starts at 5 am.  Generally, I'll make a large salad, some oatmeal, or eat some yougert which I picked up from the grocery store the night before, as well as make a few cold meat sandwiches for my lunch while studying the days paperwork. Then I spend 8 to 14 hours driving a local route, delivering to businesses. When I return to work, I usually throw something in the toaster oven or microwave from the freezer, and use the bathroom again. After my meal, I visit my storage locker (if I need to), to exchange my laptops, tablets, or any of my other electronic toys, gym clothes or swimsuits, shoes, or dry goods, laundry, guitar, pool cue...  et. cetera. Then, off to the gym to the exercise equipment, swimming pool, spa, sauna and shower, generally in that order.  After that, I drive to the grocery store and pick up the next days meal before returning to one of the 7 industrial parks which I've dubbed 'safe', where I restore 'house power' and turn off 'charging system'.  I air up the 'wall powered' air mattress, the router comes up and 'borrows' some guest internet, where I enjoy watching YouTube videos and music, my thermostatically controlled electronic blanket warms me so warm that I sleep in just my underwear.

Total cost per month:
Gym Membership: $40
Storage Unit: $168
Storage Unit Insurance: $21
Van Gas: $150
Van Insurance, Full Coverage: $110
Food: $300

I have two different mailing addresses, one at a USPS, and one to receive packages. The total cost for them is less than $50 per year.

During the weekend, I spend my time at several greasy-spoon coffee shops, where I can drink my weight in coffee while flirting with the waitstaff.

I spend less than a thousand per month, I have all of my immediate needs met, I'm warm, dry, and eating the most nutritious foods possible.

I simply don't find a point in paying $1,300 per month, before utilities, on an apartment which I'll visit less than the hours I spend at work.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Why .05 wont work as a BAC in the United States.

I was listening to the news tonight and they were talking about how they would love to introduce a blood alcohol limit of .05 across the United States.  I personally feel that the .08 is just fine, and there is a reason I think so.

The argument that they had was that ".05 is the standard in other industrialized countries like France and Germany, so why would it not work here?"  I have the answer for that question for you...  Wait for it....

Oh yeah, in other industrialized countries they have a transportation infrastructure that included public transport.  You know, things like buses, trains, subways, street cars, what-have-you.

In the United States we tore all of that stuff up in order to force everyone to buy their own personal automobile, because, progress.  Then after forcing everyone to buy their own car they discovered that driving fatalities were going way up.  Maybe if they hadn't gotten rid of all of the public transit.

I live in the wonderful city of Duluth Minnesota.  I can't catch a bus within two miles of my house.  The nearest pus is just shy of three miles and on the other side of the expressway.  I would love to use that bus to go downtown but it also stops running at like 11 PM and although that may work on a weekday if I go out, that is certainly not going to work on a weekend when I like to hang out a little later.

Now when I go out I do not get hammered because I know I have t drive home, I doubt that I would even be in violation of the .05 limit, but it is a matter of policy, and the BAC breath tests are not that accurate.  I believe that the error window is somewhere in the range of 50%.  The blood test is more accurate, but that takes time, and the evidence system is rigged against you.

Yes, I cold take a taxi, but I can't afford to take a taxi, I have had friends who owned taxi companies and would shut the meter off when it went over 20 bucks. It was at about the half way mark.

In he summer I actually would not mind taking a bike, but they have criminalized that too.

The purpose of a lower limit is not to make roads safer it is to allow more criminalization of the activity that previous generations took for granted.  All of the things that the boomers were able to do freely now they are supporting restrictions on since they are no longer ale to partake.

I am sick of it and I am going to fight back against it.  Leave the limit at .08.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Roosh, rhymes with Douche...

I recently heard about this Roosh Douche that was trying to promote the "Return of the Kings" event, legalize rape in private homes.  This frustrates me far beyond the guy being a want-to-be rapist watching hardcore porn in his mom's basement and cowering in fear of his small penis.

I love the Pet Shop Boys dammit, and here you go making the slogan for your event so that malcontents can find each other "Do you know where the pet shop is?"  You are coming between me and my classic Eighties synth-pop than makes me all giddy and creative.  I will never forgive you for this.  What have you done to deserve this?  Oh I can tell you, and I am sure there are lots of people telling you what you have done to deserve this.

But back to Roosh the Douche.  So I was thinking about his whole proposition t make rape legal on private property.   am thinking that he is going to find out that in some senses it already is.  Considering that most prisons have been privatized since the 1980's once he finally finds his way there he will discover that, when in prison, rape is legal.

Horrifying yes, but I have no sympathy.

Apparently he was discovered to be living in his mom's basement when he had to call 911 about all of the threats he was getting after anonymous posted his contact details on the Internet (Thank you Anonymous).

At which point he pulled the cowards excuse "No it was satire!"

Yeah right, I don't believe that for a second.  It is not satire, it is hate speech.  I can't wait until someone finds a way to track a crime back to you as an inspiration to the act and providing material support (in the form of a "rape guide").

But yeah.  I am never forgiving you for tainting my listening of the Pet Shop Boys.  I know what you have done to deserve this, I know you we just looking for an opportunity to make lots of money, and since you had found someone to pay your rent you were thinking that you didn't care if it was wrong or right, you just wanted a lover tonight.  But how can you expect to be taken seriously?  It so hard, but at the dead of night, when strangers roam the streets in search of anyone who'll take them home... and they always pass you by.

I sick of this, straight gangster mac....

While we are on the subject of Giant Pricks....

Friday, February 5, 2016

Love in the age of autism, part four

I don't think I should be allowed to date.  I am a great friend, but actually doing the relationship thing confuses me.

I do not know what my job is.

No one gave me a checklist and an instruction manual. (I should mention I have one of these now).

I could really use one.

I like women, I really do.  I have no idea what to do with them.

Best if I just keep my distance, although I am sure that will cause pain as well, I can't win.

Best not to ask the question, you may not like the answer.

I am bad at this.

I really wish that life could be like a movie, two ships cross paths and then never interact again.
You always have questions, but you never have to try to answer them.

I like answering questions about other things,  not these things.

Anyway, I am writing all of this up in apprehension.  Life is throwing questions at me and I am pondering if I want to know the answers.

I have not made a decision yet, but I have put a lot of thought into it tonight.

Maybe tomorrow I will have an answer, maybe I will just have more questions.

I may have more questions that I don't want to find the answer for.

Love in the age of autism, part 2

I have trust issues.

Part of this has a lot to do with previous life experiences,  but some of it has much to do with my own inherent failures to comprehend social situations, and as a result make epic communication errors.

One way or another I have issues with trusting people.

Many years ago I was in a relationship that ended abruptly as a result of a deception.  Ever since then I have had issues with taking what people say at face value, let's be honest people tell you what they think you need to hear, not what you actually need to know.

But, back to the story at the center of all of this.

I never want to have children, there is very good reasoning behind this with basis in genetics and inheritance of traits.  But, anyway, I never want children,  the world has enough of them, the world does not need any more.

I was in a relationship and I made this very clear.  I make no secret of the fact that I do not want children.
On a side note.  I don't want children, ever.

But back to the story, I was in a relationship and it was diving through that accretion disk towards the black hole of failure.  My significant other decided that the best solution for this would be to have a baby.
Babies make everything better, right?

The other side of this was that she wasn't going to tell me that she decided to ditch the birth control pills and just let the chips fall where they may.

Of course, despite her constant complaints that I wasn't paying enough attention to her I was able to pick up on a one day change in the timing of her menstrual cycle and confronted her about it.

Well, that was the end of that relationship.

Also the end of me being able to take people's word at face value.


Post-thought

Maybe it could be considered PTSD, whatever.

Love in the age of autism, part three

Life is a continuing saga.  I like to cuddle, cuddling is safe.

Sex may be fun, but being that close to another person has scary aspects as well.

You have to be able to love the one your with, but in the end you will only be with yourself.  Will you still love yourself tomorrow?

I am really asking here, will you?

It is not as simple as yes or no, there are so many shades of grey, so many questions and possible pitfalls in relationships.

Will you still love yourself tomorrow?

Sometimes never having to ask the question is easier than making yourself find the answer.

Some people find life easy, untroubling, maybe they just don't care what the answer is.

Maybe these existential concerns that I find terrifying and crippling in life are only concerns I have.

Lack of confidence?  Lack of initiative?

Like I said never asking the question is easier than finding out the answer.

I may never find what I am looking for, but considering that even if I find it I may not know that it is standing in front of me with a come hither look.

I alienate people.  I always have.

I am hard to hold....

Always within grasp, but hard to hold.

Giving in is easier than giving out.


Post-thought

I am leaving this pretty much as it is, it was a stream of consciousness thing anyway. 

Love in the age of autism

Relationships are not my forte.  Dating is a confusing mess of miscommunication, missed signals, and miffed misses.  You would think that at some point I would be able to apply some kind of logical system to the would of dating, love, and relationships,  but for any of you who have tried to apply a logic system to human interpersonal relationships you will know it would be far easier to teach your cat linear algebra.

At the moment I am in a relationship, however, I am inevitably doomed to screw this up at some point.  It is what I do best, if it were not for failure I would have no experience at all.

Alas, it is not all a black hole, there are good parts as well.  But much like a black hole my future relationship hopes and possibilities seems to be in the accretion disk just waiting to collapse into the center never to be seen again.

Oddly, I am not all that bothered by this.  I have always been feeling that I am doomed to someday die cold and alone, and I am not disturbed by this.

I feel bad for anyone I am in a relationship with.  I am so confused by what I am doing and what the proper responses to interactions should be that I get stuck and I have no idea what I should be feeling.

It comes across as indecision, it comes across as not having the same feelings for someone else as they have for you.

Nope, just really confused.

After years of errors, miscommunication, and ending up on the wrong end of a error in trying to read people's intentions, it is easier to just avoid it all then it is to fight my way through the gauntlet.
Alas, there is a lot more coming out of this spigot, some of it may involve squirrels.

I have written enough on the phone for one sitting, time to hang it up and collect my thoughts for the next episode.

Ironically after initially writing this the text became useful.  The phone app needs some work, as anything written on there needs to be edited afterwards as it seems to be unable to handle double spacing.  But yeah, I am going through these again now and post them, I will add to them where it seems appropriate.

Attack of the crud...

I hate the creeping crud.  Every year that seems to be the cold that I get, it has the chills, the snot, sometimes coughing ear ache, sore throat, general malaise.

We are pulling out the nuclear option this year.  See how that goes.  It it works and it holds I will let you know what the nuclear option is.

Anyway, I have to think about preparing for a new telescope, this is as close to having a baby as I am ever going to get!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

And I have made my plans for the rest of the year....

It is not a big secret that I love astronomy.  Hell I spent 3 months waiting for a clear night so I could go out and shoot a photo of a faint little fuzzy comet.

Well, I am getting a small upgrade....

Ok, a huge upgrade....

I liked the IOptron mount with the digital camera on it, but it cannot compete with an 8" Dobsian telescope (1200mm) and a full GOTO mount that will interface neatly with my laptop.

Oh, got approval to build a observatory out in the yard, going to have to murder a few trees, but alas.  It is for science.

Science is a verb now.

The telescope and all of that should be showing up next week sometime.  I am sure I will make a few minor observations with it before I get the whole observatory built.  But as soon as it starts to warm up I am getting started on getting that whole thing constructed.

I am going to have to build a cardboard mock-up to make sure that all of the parts line up the way that they are supposed to, and to make sure that my math works.  I am also going to have to run a few hundred feet of CAT6 cable in the yard.... Ironically, this isn't the first time that has popped up.

But anywho, I have had the sniffles so I am going to lay down and try to drain....  Later!