Sunday, August 29, 2010

Of Clouds and Dead Trees

I'm a real sucker for a purty cloud. This is the view to the east of our home. Normally the sky is monotonously bright blue here, but during monsoon season these clouds come up in the afternoon. Click to embigmentize.

A dead tree in Nevada, near the Colorado River, that calls to me. This picture is underexposed. I used a "scene mode" which automatically selects settings like aperture and shutter speed. There's an "exposure compensation" button on my camera that I should have used here, but I need to learn more about it first.

This shot is slightly overexposed. I used a different "scene mode". Notice the holes near the top of the tree--critter holes. I've seen hawks, vultures, and even an eagle perch on this old dead tree.
In case you're wondering why a dead tree attracted my attention, this is out in the middle of the desert. There are no trees out here, just bushes. To see a foot-and-a-half diameter dead tree in the desert is most unusual.


Saturday, August 28, 2010


Monsoon season here in the Mohave Desert. Our normally blue skies get interesting just before a gully-washer. Click to embiggen.

Mrs. UC took these pics while I walked the perimeter with Charlie, our director of security.

The Way We Always Done It

I lifted this pic from Sipsey Street Irregulars.

I got an e-mail the other day. I don't know who wrote it--it was a fwd, fwd, fwd, fwd that has probably been around the world nine times. The point of the writing was to urge us to "vote out the incumbents." Well, I think voting is pointless; it only encourages them. But I thought that what this person had to say about the human condition in general was a brilliant observation. Here's the pithy part:

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana.

As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all the other monkeys with cold water. After a while another monkey makes the attempt with same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon when another Monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put the cold water away. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the Stairs.

To his shock, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one.

The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm.

Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs he is attacked.

Most of the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana.

Why not?

Because as far as they know, that is the way it has always been done around here.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Heroes In America

I sure get tired of hearing about all the damn heroes we're supposed to be eternally grateful for.

"If you can read, thank a teacher." How about, if you learned how to read inside a building, thank a carpenter.

In Las Vegas, a fireman makes $100K+ per year. Heroes all, and of course they aren't in it for the money. They just like risking their hides for us. They do it for "the people" and we should be forever grateful. Mark Twain once said that the U.S. has the best fire departments money can buy--everywhere else in the world they make buildings that don't burn.

Every policeman is a hero too. Especially since the list of crimes has grown exponentially. The only thing that keeps me from praising them is their excessive use of billy clubs and toilet plungers.

Contempt In America

I've heard a lot of righteous indignation over the lack of rights of Gitmo prisoners. When you're labeled an "enemy combatant", you're neither a prisoner-of-war or charged with exactly-named crimes. You have no right to a jury trial, no Habeas Corpus, no access to a lawyer, no bail. Kinda like the "crime" called Contempt Of Court. And your ass is sitting indefinitely in the county joint just like an enemy combatant.



I'm reading How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein, and it's an interesting read. Mostly, the states got their shapes because of wars and thievery.

The book got me thinking. Again, dammit. Why would anyone fight over the location of a border? If the Mexicans decided to put up a wall ten miles north of the "official" border, would you throw some guns in your pickup and head down there to fight over it? Jesus, I have a hard enough time just putting food on my family, without thinking about fighting a damn war over an arbitrary line.



It's monsoon season here in the Mohave Desert. Temperatures in the afternoon sometimes pass 120 degrees, and these clouds come up. It hasn't rained here since March, but any day now we'll get a gully-washer.

This picture was taken with a polarizing lens. Makes the sky bluer. You can click on these pictures to make them bigger.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

The New Okies

I've read news accounts of how millions of people have lost their homes through foreclosure or short sale, and I have two friends that this happened to in the last 6 months. One moved into a rental that is far less spacious and nice than what he gave up. The other has his eviction notice but no money to rent anything, so he'll probably move in with a friend. So I'm guessing that when people change from "owners" to renters, most of them will downsize into less luxurious digs than they're used to. So what's to become of all these houses that people rushed to buy 3-4 years ago? Will they sit vacant, waiting for the economy to pick up? What will happen to all the construction workers that now have nothing to build and have run out of unemployment? What are the statistics on divorces of late? And why does the entire world seem economically dead? Is there some place on this earth where jobs are plentiful, and if so, why? Does anyone still believe that a deficit-spending government can bring an economy back to life?


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Clarifying Concepts

Whenever I mention that government does more harm than good and that we'd be better off without it, I get the ubiquitous troll, who, in righteous anger spits this out:

"So, you're one of them Anarchists, huh? Tell me, Mister Bomb-Thrower, how would you arrange society so that we receive essential services like police, roads, and post office?"

The first thing that comes to mind is, why don't you do those things for yourselves? Society doesn't need "arranging", least of all by anal-retentive Huns and their jack-booted police, and freedom would allow any desired "service" to be met by an entrepreneur.

Let's get this freedom thing straight. If you like living in a penal colony, knock yourself out. As long as you don't force your serfdom on me, you can and should be able to live any way you want, even if I consider your way of life repugnant. Comprende?


Class Warfare

I keep hearing about the "shrinking middle class," "the gap between the rich and poor," and Americans "losing ground." All seem to imply that we have declining wealth. I'm reminded of something Ayn Rand once said: "What the have nots have not, is freedom."

Speed Limit

Without the po-leece, your speedometer wouldn't be the most important gauge on your dash. It'd be as important as the outside temperature gauge. Who cares how fast you're going except as it relates to the speed limit? If drivers weren't so concerned with getting a ticket, they could concentrate on the road ahead and their surroundings. Fewer accidents, lower insurance rates. Get the po-po off the roads.


Preppin' Fetch It

This post is inspired by some of the exchanges between Tam and Roberta X.

Mrs. UC: "Wanna go to Sam's Club?"

Me: "Sure. I need me some preps."

Mrs. UC: "Preps?"

Me: "You know, preps, like to prepare."

Mrs. UC: "Prepare for what?"

Me: "For, like, the coming of Gozer or the collapse of civilization."

Mrs. UC: "Darlin', I hate to break this to you, but civilization collapsed a couple of years ago."


Starry Night

There was a really cool crescent moon this morning, but unfortunately we had some cloud cover from some thunderstorms off to the east. The other problem was that I know dick about my camera and out of 3 dozen attempts to take a picture, this is the only one I got. All the rest said, "Not enough light" at the top of the screen. I think this was set to aperture priority and the shot was 6 seconds long.

I have beef with Nikon. They made a really nice camera, which I'm sure didn't get built in somebody's garage over the weekend. They've got engineers and dust-free factories and highly skilled people putting together a quality product. Would it kill them to put together a manual showing how to use it? The "manual" I got with the camera only explained some of the basic menus and there was absolutely no definition of terms, of camera-speak like ISO, aperture, VR, PSAM, etc. I wouldn't even mind buying a book on this subject, especially if it was specific to my camera. It just offends the living shit outa me that the only way I can learn about my camera is to fumble-fuck around and guess what things do what.

That is all.

Sunday, August 1, 2010