I just had my first experience shooting fireworks. I am very pleased with the results. This may seem daunting, but following a few simple tips will yield some great results. I started out searching the web for some basic exposure settings for fireworks. There are loads of pages to choose from. Here is where I started –

  • You need a tripod
  • You need a cable release
  • You need to shoot on full manual (including focus)
  • Aperture – start with f11 and see how that does, adjust to suit
  • Shutter – you need to shoot on the bulb setting (stays open as long as you press the button)

Fireworks are bright and you can use your slow outdoor zoom lenses (Yippee!). I suggest bringing a few different focal lengths. It’s hard to gauge how much zoom you may need. Fireworks are big. I started with a 70-300mm zoom and quickly switched to a 28-135mm zoom when I couldn’t zoom out enough. Fireworks are shot all over the sky so I kept my tripod head fairly loose. I would watch the shell lifting off and anticipate where it would blow. You need to move the camera quickly and then get your hands off to avoid shake. It’s very much trial and error, but fortunately they shoot a lot of fireworks. I mentioned manual focus above. It’s very important to switch off your auto-focus. Use the first few explosions to get your focus set and then leave it alone. Shooting at f11 will keep everything in focus for you. I discovered how important this is the hard way. When I switched lenses I still had the second lens set for auto focus. I’d press the shutter and nothing would happen for a few seconds and then the camera would take the shot after the shell had exploded. It couldn’t focus in the dark until the shell blew. Here are some of my shots from the Oak Bluffs, Mass annual fireworks –

Oak Bluffs Fireworks

Oak Bluffs Fireworks

Oak Bluffs Fireworks

Oak Bluffs Fireworks

I read this today over at Ricochet and it makes a lot of sense…..

Manmade Global Warming: The Solution

by Pat Sajak · Jul. 25 at 11:49am

“Manmade global warming, like so many other social and economic issues, has become hopelessly politicized. Each side has dug in its heels and has accused the other of acting irresponsibly and dishonestly. For the believers, the other side has become the equivalent of Holocaust deniers; and for the doubters, the other side has become a cult intent on manipulating mankind to remake the world in some sort of natural Utopian image.

The divide has become so great, it seems virtually impossible to bridge the gap. However, I’m not writing for Ricochet merely to outline problems; I’m here to offer real solutions. And I’m not just blowing carbon dioxide.

Let’s assume that a third of the world’s population really believes mankind has the power to adjust the Earth’s thermostat through lifestyle decisions. The percentage may be higher or lower, but, for the sake of this exercise, let’s put it at one-third. Now it seems to me these people have a special obligation to change their lives dramatically because they truly believe catastrophe lies ahead if they don’t. The other two-thirds are merely ignorant, so they can hardly be blamed for their actions.

Now, if those True Believers would give up their cars and big homes and truly change the way they live, I can’t imagine that there wouldn’t be some measurable impact on the Earth in just a few short years. I’m not talking about recycling Evian bottles, but truly simplifying their lives. Even if you were, say, a former Vice President, you would give up extra homes and jets and limos. I see communes with organic farms and lives freed from polluting technology.

Then, when the rest of us saw the results of their actions—you know, the earth cooling, oceans lowering, polar bears frolicking and glaciers growing—we would see the error of our ways and join the crusade voluntarily and enthusiastically.

How about it? Why wait for governments to change us? You who have already seen the light have it within your grasp to act in concert with each other and change the world forever. And I hate to be a scold, but you have a special obligation to do it because you believe it so strongly. Then, instead of looking at isolated tree rings and computer models, you’d have real results to point to, and even the skeptics would see the error of their ways and join you.

So start Tweeting each other and get the ball rolling. We’ll anxiously await results. See, I told you I had the solution. My work here is done.”

Just a few thoughts –

The only thing the government has to offer us are things that they have taken from us.

Have you ever noticed how our Left Leaning politicians love to act like Robin Hood? They act like it’s noble to rob from all of us so that they can take care of the poor. They will keep doing this until we are all poor. They stopped being noble long ago and are now worse than the ‘evil’ they are trying to rectify. They rob from everyone (as much as they can take) and we are now dependent upon them for everything. We can’t be trusted to manage what we earn. Wealth is evil unless they control it.

The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

We should never elect someone to office who is too eager for the job.

Last November, my home state elected a new governor. The fact that he is a Republican is quite amazing. He defeated the incumbent millionaire Democrat even though the One came and personally stumped for him (perhaps that is wrong and I got it backwards). Since his election our new governor has become a shining star for fiscal responsibility. He is trying hard to pull my state back from the edge of financial ruin. He has fought the unions and bureaucrats to his own detriment. He claims that he’s working as if he’s only going to be a one term governor and is making the politically hard choices that we need. His courage is amazing. He is starving the beast in order to shrink it. He said something recently that I found rather noteworthy. His fight with the teachers unions has been particularly rancorous. The first counter to his tough position is ALWAYS – what about the children? The Governor said something that is worth remembering and dare I say worth turning into a guiding principle. He said, “Never listen to any arguments from people who have their hand in your pocket.” Don’t get me wrong here – I have the utmost respect for teachers. My eldest child teaches middle school. This principle needs to be applied to a vast range of people who are employed by our government (people who are paid from my tax dollars). How are any of these government workers qualified to have input about what they are paid and how valuable their particular fiefdom is? Each year at my job I meet with my manager and discuss my job performance. I’ve never had the opportunity to suggest how big my raise should be (I recently got my first raise in 4+ years). I would sound foolish to make any claims about how valuable I was to my department or the company as a whole. Why would my company’s management listen to my assessment? My opinion is biased. I naturally have a higher valuation of my worth than they do. The next time I hear someone arguing about state budget cuts, I’ll be sure to run it through the “pocket filter”. The argument may sound convincing, but the motives of the source must always be taken into account. It gets even more fun if you start applying this principle to Washington. I’m reminded of the old joke –

How can you tell if a politician is lying? It’s easy, just see if his lips are moving!

I’ve not added anything to my epic Global Warming post for a few months. When the CRU scandal broke I realized that it was over. I simply couldn’t have imagined how this issue would implode in the weeks that followed. AGW is a train wreck happening in slow motion before our eyes.

The organizations that have been humbled by their own hubris:

  • CRU – East Anglia
  • IPCC – United Nations
  • NASA – James Hansen
  • Penn State – David Mann (Mr. Hockey Stick)
  • NOAA National Climate Data Center- Thomas Karl (newly appointed czar)
  • Hollywood – Al Gore and Michael Moore

The hysteric claims that have been proven to be wishful thinking at best:

  • Anthropogenic Global Warming
  • Ice Sheets melting
  • Sea Level rising
  • Glaciers Melting
  • Increased Hurricanes

All have fallen to this scandal. The only way to understand the AGW movement is to follow the money.  It’s about money, power, and the redistribution of wealth. Why is NASA in the Climate/AGW business? Isn’t this the realm of NOAA? NASA is full of activist scientists and without a space program they have fallen back to their core values. Remember when George Bush stood up to this NASA clown – James Hansen? He should have been fired outright, but Dubyah was merciful and treated him like someone with mental disabilities. This is the problem – until now no one has been able to stand up to this machine with it’s celebrities, Oscars, Nobels, politicians, a clueless MSM, and activist scientists.

(there is no science)

Where have we seen this sort of voodoo/pseudo science advocacy before? The book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson shows us where AGW was headed before the wheels came off. She wrote a book about the pesticide DDT. She used the same combination of junk science and hysteria to “save the Earth” by eliminating this perfectly safe pesticide. I learned about these “scientific facts” as a child growing up in the sixties –

  • We put DDT on our crops
  • The rain washed it into streams then to the oceans
  • Fish soon showed high levels of DDT
  • This poison then moved up the food chain
  • Raptors (bird who ate the fish) soon had this poison
  • The raptor egg shells were supposedly weakened by the DDT
  • Baby birds were being aborted
  • Extinction was threatened

This threatened their deepest held religious beliefs (Gia worship) and something had to be done. Aside from the purported effects that DDT had on nature, they also claimed that it was carcinogenic. Who would stand up and claim that it wasn’t? It would be far easier to paint a target on your back and kiss your career goodbye. Dare I say that for all intents and purposes, the science was settled. At least it made some sense to me as a grade-schooler who trusted his teachers.

Too bad that there was no science to back up these theories.

The end result is that a large corporation was humbled (always a plus) and millions of humans died. Yes, you heard me right, I said Millions! Malaria has re-surged since the DDT ban and most of its victims are children. Currently one million African children die of this disease each year. That averages to over 3000 each day. How’s that for a legacy Rachel? Your efforts have killed maybe 50 million humans (it’s ramping up lately). If you add up all of the deaths from all of the wars, combine that with the homicidal records of the planet’s worst dictators and you won’t even come close to the genocide caused by Rachel Carson’s environmental activism. Oh and another bit of Rachel’s legacy – the West Nile Virus. The death toll (humans) is in the tens of thousands worldwide. I realize that Rachel probably doesn’t care at all about us dirty humans (it’s a good way to reduce population), but West Nile also kills birds – EEEEK! Wasn’t the DDT ban supposed to save birds? You could perhaps say that the DDT ban has killed more birds than it supposedly saved.

I thank God that we have been spared a repeat of this sham and its consequences. Al Gore should be the most grateful person on Earth because of what this ongoing scandal has spared him from. Future historians will only view him as a fool and not a murderer. I predict that the end result of the AGWer’s push towards Cap & Trade and Kyoto would be poverty and more death by starvation. Farmers won’t grow crops if they can make more money by capturing CO2 with trees or grass. When you place more value on the Earth than you place on human life, the humans will always suffer. These activists aren’t concerned about human survial – no, they would be happy if Man became extinct just as long as mother Gia survived. The Earth is big and strong and we are so weak and stupid. Be a good steward, but don’t think that you understand the reasons for it’s condition or that you know how to fix it. Since my grade school days I have seen: Global Cooling (Michael Mann again), Holes in the Ozone Layer, and Global Warming all come and go. You environmentalists have lost your right to have a say in how we live on the Earth. Your arrogance has destroyed your credibility. You are such idiots that if we ever have a real problem that needs scientific analysis we are screwed.


Last year I finally made the jump into High Definition TV. Several factors coming to together helped push me over the edge. Up until this point there had been many disappointments and a general lack of standards. 2008 saw the following confluence of events:

  • 1080p became the defacto Resolution standard
  • 120hz Refresh Rates became common (no more 3:2:2 pull down)
  • LED Matrix Backlighting became a viable contender to Plasma
  • Blu-Ray won the disc format battle
  • HDMI emerged as an Interconnect standard

My Home Theater system is fairly standard, but very high quality. It has a receiver that can switch 4 HDMI inputs and a slew of other types, a dual room DVR (Dish Network), Blu-Ray Player, Wii Console, a portable media player, and perhaps in the future – something like the Syabas PopBox streamer. There is nothing exotic, but in order to control the system I need 4 remotes and the one for the receiver was especially poor (Yamaha). I love gadgets and understand how things are connected and exactly what needs to be set to make it work, but I will admit that having to keep track of and use all of those remotes is a pain. Here is where the Bliss comes in – I also purchased a high end Harmony One universal remote control.


Continue reading ‘Home Theater Bliss’ »

Geotagging is a logical mash-up of GPS technology, digital photography, and digital mapping. In its most basic form you manually associate a map location with a digital photo. Photo storage sites like Flickr make this fairly easy. On Flickr, you can browse a map and see photos that were taken by other people at any location you might be interested in. Microsoft has a project called PhotoSynth that gives this process an injection of steroids.

Here is a typical Track Log on Google Maps with photo locations –

There are currently a few digital cameras that can automatically geotag your photos as you take them. These cameras have a built-in GPS device that adds position information to the Exif data that is stored in the photo. I fully expect this become a standard feature in the next few years. Cameras without built-in GPS devices can still get in this game by using an inexpensive external GPS Logger

Continue reading ‘Geotagging Digital Photographs’ »

I was in for a checkup today and asked him about the Obamacare plan. I really like him. He is an excellent physician. SWMBO (the RN) hand-picked him. Here is what he said.

1.  It will work out well for him financially – he’s a family practice, primary care doctor and this is the direction they are pushing. He will make more money.

2.  He really dislikes insurance companies. He has to work hard to get paid by them. They are a real pain for him. Getting approval for patient procedures is a pain.

3.  He said he only pays $15k per year for liability insurance. His position was that good defensive care prevents a lot of problems. Tort reform is insignificant he feels.

4.  He said that Medicare always pays and he never has any problems getting procedures approved.

5.  He felt that the insurance companies were fairly evil and would survive.

6.  He felt there are too many specialists who aren’t needed.

7.  He said the US lags behind the rest of the world (Canada, France and England) in the killer diseases and they have better life expectancies. He said cancer is not a major killer.

8.  The 30 million Americans without health insurance have a high proportion of people who simply won’t see a doctor enough to benefit from preventative care. He felt that this places a huge burden on the system to treat their acute cases which could be prevented.

9.  He told me that I would always be able to pay for premium care.

10.  He understands why a lot of doctors refuse to accept insurance and only care for the wealthy.

I was surprised to hear his opinions and have thought about them for a bit. Here is my response to him.

Continue reading ‘My Doctor’s Thoughts on Obamacare’ »

It seems everyone hates us: Europe, China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, most all of South America, and every muslim nation. I’m OK with that except when our own leaders start hatin’. If we are truly the greatest country on Earth shouldn’t we at least act like it? I know Randy Newman was being sarcastic in his song Political Science, but now that we are tasting the bitter fruit of self loathing, I find myself thinking that maybe he got it right after all (at least the attitude – don’t wanna hurt no kangaroos).

Political Science
by Randy Newman

No one likes us-I don’t know why
We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
But all around, even our old friends put us down
Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

We give them money-but are they grateful?
No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them
We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
Africa is far too hot
And Canada’s too cold
And South America stole our name
Let’s drop the big one
There’ll be no one left to blame us

We’ll save Australia
Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
We’ll build an All American amusement park there
They got surfin’, too

Boom goes London and boom Paris
More room for you and more room for me
And every city the whole world round
Will just be another American town
Oh, how peaceful it will be
We’ll set everybody free
You’ll wear a Japanese kimono babe
And there’ll be Italian shoes for me

They all hate us anyhow
So let’s drop the big one now
Let’s drop the big one now

I’ve heard it said…

Liberals are just Conservatives who haven’t been mugged yet.

It sounds like sportscaster Stephen A. Smith is coming to terms with the fact that he has been mugged.

Since this interview was published Stephen has been getting hammered (ugly and racist) for having questions about the One’s agenda. Stephen is just so reasonable – no froth, just common sense. Read his response HERE.