Wednesday, April 30, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Making the Dawnster Smile...

At the moment, that's my job. Dawn rocks, and could use some nice stuff for smiles and whatnots, and even though I'm a nice guy who's letting her cook in my kitchen*, I figured I'd go that extra mile to brighten her day (or evening as the case may be).

So, for Dawn (and the rest of you DeafCat fans out there), enjoy the portrait.

For my friend Dawn...

Now, does anyone remember The X-Files?

Do you remember how the Alien Oil Slick would creep its way across the eyes of its unfortunate victims to make them go all sorts of crazy?

Well, that's pretty much what happened to DeafCat a few seconds after this picture was taken. She was lounging happily on the floor. Then, she got up and stared at the laundry hamper because obviously it must've been doing something tremendously un-hamper-like.

After a few seconds of staring, her eyes become two jet-black little beans in her head, and she tore across the room with her black claws scratching upon the wood. However, rather than leap on top of the hamper (which I'm assuming was her original intent since there's a window there she likes to gawk out from), her slippery little feet must've lost purchase upon the floor, and she wound up diving head-first into the side of the thing with a dull thud silenced by a week's worth of dirty clothes.

The aliens... Oh yes. The aliens drive my cats into craziness.


*Technically, it's her kitchen, but it might as well be mine since it's got all sorts of cool stuff that I would have in my kitchen if I wasn't constantly out blowing money on camera stuff.

Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/30/2008 08:24:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Bzzzzz....


Bee & Tulip...

I found this little dude while out taking pictures a moment ago. Once again, I apologize for the sneezes this picture may inspire.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/30/2008 02:24:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Foto Heute!

Guten Morgen!

Ja! Ich kann nur ein bischen Deutsch verstanden, aber ich habe zu viele Worte vergessen...

Das ist schade...

Also, hier ist Heute's Foto fur Mittwoch:


Ooof... It's been a while since I used my German lessons.

Anyway, look what showed up in my house! It's a bottle of Fun and Five. Five isn't bad, and I'm thinking it's better than a six, but not nearly as pretentious or overbearing as a three or a four.

Five is cheap and yummy.

Unfortunately, I can't remember where this came from (which probably means that the bottle of wine accomplished its purpose). However, as far as I'm concerned, it lept from the shelves of the local liquor store and just sort of rolled its way across town into my kitchen so as to be beheaded and have its insides sucked out.

Either that, or someone brought it over. But, that takes the magic away, doesn't it?

Nonetheless, for today's picture, y'all get a cheap bottle of umlaut wine. Nothing arsty about it. I do, however, kind of dig how the bottle's left edge plays against the dark.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/30/2008 09:46:00 AM

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] What the...?!?

Now, at first, when Ben Stein signed on to do the movie Expelled, I simply thought to my self that it was really no big deal, and that he was just another god-soaked fool who throws science out the window when he's been told it conflicts with his rather narrow world view.

I was wrong.

I think Ben Stein is utterly bat shit insane.
Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. [PZ] Myers, talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed.
I admit, I am stunned that Mr. Stein, a game-show host, would actually be willing to go this far --so far, in fact, that he's essentially dropping his trousers and leaving a huge, heaping mound of steaming shit upon the corpses of his dead ancestors. He's openly lying about the motives behind the Holocaust. He knows it, we know it, yet he's seeking to perpetuate a lie to create not a remembrance of that human tragedy, but an open denial of it by scrambling to conflate Evolution with the slaughter of his people.

This whole interview is beyond insane, and, in a way, I feel sad for Ben Stein. His grip on reality has become so loose that even looking in the mirror has got to be a terrifying thing. He is scared. He is confused. And, sadly, the world knows it and is not afraid to confront it. Take this example:

Stein: We’re saying teach what is… what the evidence takes you to. I mean, the evidence does not take you to Darwinism about, uh, about, uh, as to the foundations of life. Darwin just had nothing to say about that. The evidence doesn’t take you to Darwinism about astronomy or about the laws of physics or of thermodynamics.
This is a level of gibberish I'd expect from someone who had dropped out of the earliest levels of high-school. However, Ben Stein has a college education. I believe that in high school, as dreadful as some of my science teachers were, I clearly knew the difference between Physics, Astronomy, and Evolution, and I had no need to contrive some sort of unified field for them out of a mythology concocted by late Bronze Age sheep and goat herders. So, why would BenStein, a college educated person, expect to find the answers to Astronomy in a Biology classroom?

And, he continues:
Crouch: What can people of faith do? What do you hope comes from this film?

Stein: Well, we hope that people who have children in schools will tell their children that if the teacher says Darwinism created everything and that there is no explanation for anything in the scientific world except Darwinism, that the student will say, well, Ms. Smith — or whatever the teacher’s name is — how did life begin? What keeps the planets in their orbits? Is there any proof of a separate species ever being seen to evolve?

This is an insult to just about everyone. The only people not insulted by this gibberish would have to be those whose minds are as addled as Stein's. "Dawinism" doesn't create things. What does he think Astronomy does? What does he think Biology is about? Why is he trying to conflate Darwin with creation? It's almost as though I could give Ben Stein the owner's manual for my Jeep and tell him to look up the meatloaf recipe inside. When he's sitting at a movie, does he ask people to rub sunscreen on his back? When the phone is ringing, does he open his microwave thinking he's being fed?

Perhaps the most disgusting (an ironic considering this guy is shilling eyedrops) is this:
Stein: … Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

So, that science responsible for curing smallpox and polio is actually, nefariously, killing people? The understanding of the human body and its development at the most minuscule levels possible is somehow an evil murderous plot?

Perhaps the greatest crime in all of this is that Mr. Stein has conveniently overlooked reality in his open and wildly erroneous conflation of Evolution with The Holocaust, and by doing so, he's rendered the lives of those who both died and survived during this tragedy completely meaningless. He's skipped over the real history and source of acrimony among the German people toward the Jews. He is trying to distract humanity from studying the real reasons behind this tragedy, and he is doing to so pimp a movie and a resligion. Moreover, that which he has overlooked are the raging, anti-semitic writings of a well-known German monk named Martin Luther, and his work On the Jews and Their Lies (written more than two hundred years before Darwin was even born). And, here's Luther's proposal on how to drive the Jews from Germany. And, call me crazy, but I think the words of this Christian monk echo the sentiments of the Nazi's considerably more than those of a simple English naturalist:
  1. "First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. ..."
  2. "Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. ..."
  3. "Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. ..."
  4. "Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. ..."
  5. "Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. ..."
  6. "Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them. ... Such money should now be used in ... the following [way]... Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed [a certain amount]..."
  7. "Seventh, I commend putting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the hands of young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in the sweat of their brow... For it is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat of our faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove, feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of their lordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss out these lazy rogues by the seat of their pants."
  8. "If we wish to wash our hands of the Jews' blasphemy and not share in their guilt, we have to part company with them. They must be driven from our country" and "we must drive them out like mad dogs." [31]
I think one of the most disgusting things humans can do is rewrite their history. We learn from our history. And, as a result, we do our best to see that the tragedies and horrors of our past do not happen again. Ben Stein is tossing all this out the window in favor of rewriting human history in a feeble and fumbling attempt to cram god and ignorance down the throats of those who just wish to learn in an environment free of mythology and fear-filled superstition.


(Hat tip to The Friendly Atheist)

Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/29/2008 08:42:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Puny Humans!

Behold, my tiny friends...


I am a giant! Cower before me, and "fee-fie-foe-fum," and all that stuff.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/29/2008 09:02:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] And The Winner Is...

Daniel Auger came in and flat-out nailed the question about which character was represented in my brother's tattoo, and after looking at Daniel's blog, Welcome to My Nerditotium, it's really no surprise. It seems that Daniel collects old Commodore systems, and if you're anything like me, and you grew up with one of those quirky little computers way back in the days of Quantum Link and 5 1/4 inch floppies, you'll probably get a real nostalgic kick out of poking around there.

Anyway, the character is a Mechtron from the game M.U.L.E..

My brother and I learned the value of a stable economic portfolio from that game, I think. We also learned that gambling pays pretty well. It's always been one of my favorite games.

Well, I'd love to write more, but my digits are ablaze, and I've got doctor appointments this afternoon. So, it's going to be a long day.

So, to wrap this up, I'll say congrats to Daniel for being a genuine geek. I tip my hat to you sir.

By the way, do yourselves a favor and make sure you check out Daniel's MySpace page to listen to some of his tunes. They're really very good.

I'm off...


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/29/2008 07:25:00 AM

Monday, April 28, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] New Toys! New Toys! New Toys!

Look what came in the mail today!

It's my brand, spankin' new Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 prime lens, and does this little puppy ever rock!

Technically, it's an autofocus; however, since I have a Nikon D40 which lacks the screw-drive required to make these particular autofocus lenses work, I have to dial it in manually. Which is a freakin' breeze to do, and one of the biggest reasons why I bought the little fellow. I kind of wanted that feel of a throwback to the good old days of film SLR's.

Aside from that, it's a fast lens with a nice, big, friendly aperture of 1.8, so it's outstanding in low-light situations (in other words, Wisconsin). Plus, it weighs nothing, and there's a certain feel of elegance and finesse when dialing in a focus (which, I'm going to be working on for a bit since, as a result of my other two lenses that actually do autofocus on the camera and have Nikon's Vibration Reduction, I became a little lazy and reliant upon the lens and camera and less upon myself and my own technique.

In other words, I'd forgotten how just a little twitch can utterly trash a shot. However, so long as the shutter is fast (which, again, requires a lot of light that Wisconsin simply doesn't have at the moment), blur is not an issue.

To make things even better, the pictures are razor sharp, and this little lens is about one-third the size of your average soda beer can.

Anyway, off to your left, you'll see the very first picture taken with this little lens which I am certain will fast become my favorite lens for portraits and landscapes. Unfortunately, that slow, Wisconsin exposure I was telling you about led to some slight blurring. Plus, Confucius still has a scalp-full of dust. I've decided that with the cats shedding, and with me losing my hair, watching a Sixth-Century BCE Chinese philosopher grow a nice, Rogaine-free collection of flowing locks may, in fact, give me and my shiny head a little hope. By the end of summer, Confucius might actually look like a member of the Beijing chapter of the Hell's Angels.

Nonetheless, I'm going to be out trying to get a feel for the ins and outs of this neat little piece of glass. That fixed 50mm perspective is going to take some getting used to since I'm used to knocking around with zooms which give me the nice luxury of not having to move nearly as much.

The thing is, since I am going to be out, I'm not going to be able to give you the answer as to which video game character is represented in The Clone's ink job.

So far, no one's gotten it right (including Wil Wheaton). I'm surprised by that; however, on the plus side, now is your chance to out-geek the Prince of Geeks (or king of geeks?). So, get to work on it!

The only other clues I can give you is that the game was available on the Commodore 64 (Winnar!), the Atari 400, and the Nintendo Entertainment System, and I believe that it's one of the very first sci-fi strategy video games ever made (I wish some company somewhere would mine the old, dead software to make a wild, new version of it).

Ah well... I've got to run and find some available light.



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/28/2008 11:57:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Burp...

I have to admit, sometimes Dinesh D'Souza just belches out the most adorable little notions in his blog posts. In fact, it's not entirely unlike patting the back of a toddler as he or she regurgitates whatever pablum he or she has been fed. Today, it seems to be a healthy dose of Gerber Strained Stupid:

Atheist Bashing Week
Posted Apr 27th 2008 10:30PM by Dinesh D'Souza
Filed under: Christianity, Controversy, Atheism

We've all heard of Black History Month, but have you heard about Atheist Bashing Week? It was Atheist Bashing Week for me as I did three debates over the past seven days with a new crop of leading atheists.

That's cute how proud he is of his little accomplishments. It's almost as though he just recently learned how to work buttons.

Unfortunately, D'Souza's definition of "atheist bashing" consists of nothing more than throwing handfuls of gleaming, glittering turds against the wall to see what sticks in an attempt to distract his opponents by forcing them to confront and correct one red herring --or blatantly erroneous statement-- after another. And, when the conversation inevitably flies off the rails into a silly and chaotic land where illogic rules, this little chimpanzee quickly ceases his poo-flinging to beat his chest and proclaim some sort of victory.

And, in a way, considering that his measure of victory is nothing more than confusing his opponents by unloading a mountain of burning stupid upon them, then I guess he has won. Then again, an honest individual with even the slightest bit of intellectual integrity would aim perhaps a little higher.

On the other hand, I suppose if you're a failing, partisan, neo-con author whose time has long, long since passed, you take what little you can and fluff it up so as to keep the reality of your intellectual dishonesty from seeping in andruining your miserable life in the sand-castle fortress you've constructed to scuttle away your own beaconing moral shortcomings.

In other words, Dinesh D'Souza has, quite sadly, wasted his life in the arrogance and ignorance of his own twisted, distorted and comically unhinged perception of himself.

But, I welcome his "atheist bashing week." I'm certain it will be nothing more than the same old canards and long dead strawmen of pseudo-Christian stupidity that I've heard almost every day of my life from the frothy, self-righteous maws of D'Souza's delusional, hate-filled, bigoted ilk.

For what it's worth, I kick Christians, and I kick them quite hard. And, to be perfectly honest, I enjoy infuriating those who would seek to use their faith as a symbol of superiority and dominion over those who do not believe as they do. Unfortunately, sometimes the kind and genuine Christians whose hearts are warm and filled with the best intentions they can muster get caught in the crossfire, and, though I tend to think their rage and anger toward me can sometimes be misplaced, I'd imagine they can grow quite exasperated nonetheless.

However, there is a method to my madness, after all. As someone once said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing." And, there is nothing more infuriating than watching good Christians sitting idle while their religion is hijacked and perverted by those whose hearts know nothing of equality and whose goals are anything but peace upon planet earth.

So, Dinesh, bash away, by all means. Show yourself to be the dishonest bigot, and Christian fraud you truly are, and show the world exactly what kind of company AOL is when they support and encourage such senseless bigotry by paying you to scribble your inanity upon their pages. Perhaps they will give you a special banner and post your face and gibberish upon their main pages.

I'm certain then, without doubt, you most certainly will have won... something.

Now, before anyone wails and caterwauls on about free speech, do yourselves a huge favor and read the U.S. Constitution, and stretch your minds a little so as to comprehend its meaning. And, if you are still foolish enough to even assert that this is a free speech issue, then do us all a favor and do not bother commenting, and, most certainly, do not bother to email me. If the founding laws of this nation are beyond your grasp, I'm willing to bet that anything you have to say will most-likely be utterly worthless.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/28/2008 08:23:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Sometimes, I wonder.

Good morning, Monday (ya rat bastard).

I'd like to say it's a good morning, but it's about five a.m., and I've been awake since this time Sunday morning, so it's kind of hard seeing it as anything other than still Sunday.

However, I do owe you all a picture, so I hope you'll settle for enjoy this one:

She doesn't look deaf...

Here's DeafCat sitting on the patio enjoying the fact that it's no longer snowing in her world (although, I just found out that today we've got a freakin' chance for snow... I can't comprehend it any longer. I just need to fetch the razor blades, open a vein or two, and let spray my boiling hot, rage-filled blood to melt this ridiculous snow).

Anyway, my cat is deaf. I'm about 95% sure of it. I mean, I've rung a bell over her head while she was sleeping (and not a little tinkly bell. I've got one of those Monty Python-esque "Bring out your dead" bells that don't so much ring insofar as they just clang ridiculously loud), and she didn't budge an inch.

However, every now and then, for no reason that I can discern, DeafCat will whirl her head around quickly as though someone either tapped her on her bony little cat shoulder, or fired a freakin' gun behind her head. It's weird because she's looking at something, and it looks like it's something she heard sneaking up behind her.

So, clearly, either my cat is actually deaf, or she's faking to just score some sympathy points. And, if that's the case, I've got to give her some serious credit since I've been banging and clanging and blowing off air-horns in an attempt to see if she is really deaf. In fact, I've been so diligent in my efforts that there's probably a good chance that if she wasn't deaf, she probably would be as a result of my silliness.

Still, though, deaf or not, my life really wouldn't be nearly as weird or fun without that strange little bundle of fluff. In fact, my mornings just wouldn't be the same without waking up to the sound of her nose whistling through the crack beneath my bedroom door as she uses one of her remaining senses to track me down.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures folks. I have no idea what today will bring. I have a feeling that my brain will be a complete puddle of gelatinous sludge between my ears once this whole lack of sleep catches up to, and literally beats the crap out of the profane amount of caffeine I'll be pumping into my system.

However, on the plus side... Oh yeah... There's a Doctor Who marathon on the SciFi channel, so really... I think by the time noon rolls around, my brain wave (I've only got one) will pretty much be flatlined, and you could probably drive a cement mixer through my living room wall, and DeafCat and I wouldn't even bat an eye.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/28/2008 05:25:00 AM

Sunday, April 27, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Night time is pretty dark.

Tonight is one of those somewhat rare nights where getting to sleep seems about as easy as winning a gold medal in the Olympic decathlon. Things hurt, I'm just not capable of keeping my eyes shut long enough to drift off to any place which isn't filled with cold, dull consciousness. And, since lying in bed not sleeping is one of the most boring things imaginable, I figured I'd get up, make some tea (caffeine free), and putter around on the world wide weird for a while.

On the plus side, it looks like the issue that was keeping the posts on the Blogger blog from finding their way to my AOL Journal has been remedied (knock on wood). I think that because these posts are mailed through a gmail account, and seeing as how gmail is a notorious hive for spammers and other malicious ilk, AOL was probably preventing their access to my blog thinking that they were an endless stream of offers for free Rolex watches, penis enlargement pills, something called "V1@&7a" and naughty pictures of Estelle Getty or Abe Vigoda.

Nonetheless, it's working now, so everything should be fine... for a while... Until those damned squirrels return to gnaw upon whatever wires contain the work parts that make the internets go.

Aside from that, I'm still getting a lot of really nice and unexpected compliments for the pictures I've been posting. That's quite a surprise. I mean, I really don't know what the hell I'm doing here. I just see things I like and push the button, and aside from the tilt-shifted and HDR photos, there really isn't all that much post-processing work involved in the things I've been posting.

In fact, when it comes to quick and dirty editing during those times where I don't really feel like dorking around for an hour or so on a picture (which is most times, in case you're curious), what you see in that picture on the right are the two things I only pay attention to, and one of them, the histogram (the upper box), I can do nothing other than gawk at.

The bottom one, however, is actually a pretty simple, yet powerful little tool. And, I think a lot of photo-editing programs have a utility for altering the levels, and no one ever uses it.

First, 99.9% of the time, I don't pay attention to anything other than those three little triangles beneath that little collection of jagged mountainous gibberish. Sometimes, I'll change the channel to alter specific colors, but that is a pretty rare thing. In fact, I'm thinking politicians and insurance agents tell the truth more often than I change that channel thing. And, those two triangles on the bottom? Never touched them. I have no idea what the eye-droppers are for either. And, those numbers? Not a clue. But, I do tell myself that someday I will get around to playing around with them.

About the only things I understand are the words "OK" and "Cancel" and those three little triangles.

Now, to further prove that I'm even lazier than humanly imaginable, I tend to only deal with the two extreme triangles and completely ignore the middle one.

To begin, reading the histogram is actually pretty easy. The horizontal represents the spectrum of dark to light (left to right, respectively), and the vertical represents the amount of that light, dark or whatever shade in between (some folks say that a "good" picture will have information all across that whole spectrum, and I think those people are idiots). So, if you've got a big tall pile of stuff on the left end of your histogram, chances are, you probably should have used a flash, or you really should stop taking pictures with the lens cap on.

Anyway, as you can see at the far right of the histogram in the level window, there's kind of a gap between the magic triangle. So, for whatever reason, I move that right triangle to the other side of the gap (in this picture, I would probably move it to the cliff-face of that mountainous spike).

I don't like gaps at the ends of my histograms... They bother me. They agitate the triangles, and I prefer happy triangles.

Now, this makes things slightly brighter since, by moving that triangle, you're moving that whole mountain even further toward the extreme end of white.

So, to compensate, I move the left triangle in a bit to bring a little more darkness to the shot. If it looks good, I'll keep it. If not, I'll back off those sliders a bit by moving them back toward the ends a bit at a time until I find a range that looks good to me (yes. There have been times where I simply wound up rightback where I started. And, there have been times were I've only moved one or the other of the sliders. And, even worse, for kicks, there have been times where I've moved them until all three were piled up in the center just to see what it looked like. Trust me; it wasn't pretty).

Nonetheless, play around with the Level Adjustment feature if you have the capability in your photo-editing software. You don't need to move things much to get some great results, and it helps for lightening up underexposed photos, and it helps for taking the harshness out of some overexposed shots. Hey! Even play around with the middle one if you'd like.

The important thing to remember is that if you are happy with how your pictures look right out of the camera, that's really all that matters (usually I am). However, sometimes, especially with the luxury of digital photography, we can take some pretty nasty pictures which we think aren't worth saving or wish they could be saved. So, if you do stumble across one of those sorts of pictures, you might want to give this technique a shot before pitching it. Just remember to move the triangles in small increments at a time. Moving them too much will, of course, anger the triangles. And, I can not be held be held responsible should you find yourself dealing with angry triangles.

Good luck!



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/28/2008 01:44:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] I Hope She Takes Half of Everything He Owns!

This story is a stomach-turning monstrosity. But, in a culture crippled by a religion which devalues women to the point that they are nothing more than petty, insignificant objects whose existence and purpose are to simply serve the whims of whatever perverted misogynist to which they find themselves enslaved and indentured.
Yemen's 8-Year-old Divorcee

Forced to Marry, the Newly divorced Yemeni Girl Looks Forward to a Normal Childhood

When Nojoud Mohammed Ali's parents arranged her marriage to a 30-year-old man, it was consistent with the mores of Yemen, her home country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula. For girls like Nojoud, such arrangements mean falling prey to physical and sexual abuse.
(Full Story)
A normal childhood?!?

She will never have one of those. She was railroaded into adulthood, and, as a result of this young girl's admirable sense of self-worth in this dehumanizing culture, in order to save herself, she had to be as brave as any other adult woman who leaves her abusive husband.

But, she's eight.

Does she go back to the pimps who masquerade as her parents who sold her into this dreadful life to begin with? Does she go out and get a job, an apartment, and a life even though she desperately hopes to have a normal freakin' childhood?

Now, I know some will say that this is the "traditional mores" of Yemeni culture, and, if that is the case, how can anyone respect a culture that encourages and condones the rape of an eight year old girl?

Gyaaagh! The whole thing is just infuriating.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/27/2008 06:35:00 PM

Contest Time!

This is my entry in the landscape version of the AOL Community Photo Challenge.  Hope you kids dig it...


It's a black and white, somewhat tilt-shifted, picture of a waterfall in the park near my house.

Aside from that, for whatever reason, AOL is capriciously refusing to accept the blog entries from my Blogger blog which get emailed and posted to this one.  So, if need be, head over there to check out if you've missed something.  It's just one of those things which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. 


[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Better?

I'm not sure. I can see where I screwed up (there's a gray halo around this flannel-coated angler). But, he looks kind of toy-ish.

Model fisher

It's getting there. Maybe I should have cleared a little more of the foreground?

Hmm... I really want to be able to nail this technique without having to employ the pain-in-the-business-end gradient map. I'm dumb, after all. And, as a proud, yet dumb person, these things are really challenging.

By the way, that Photoshop CS trial? It only lasts for 30 days, but I'm pretty much, mostly, kind of 95% sure that the cannibalized plug-ins will continue to work in Photoshop Elements once the trial ends.

In other words, I'll let you know in 29 days.

Okay... I'm off to lunch (good news! I had breakfast! I went to the store and got a bag of Doritos, so I'm not going to be eating lunch on an empty stomach).


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/27/2008 01:07:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Testing... Testing...


I seem to be having trouble with my Blogger posts getting emailed and posted via the mobile thingy on AOL.

Anywho... I'm just posting this to see if it's fixed. So, really, you don't have to pay attention to this. In fact, move along. There's nothing to see here. Move along people...

Still reading this?

Oh. Well... How're you doin'?



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/27/2008 10:58:00 AM

Ladies? I've Not Forgotten You.

Well... Actually, I did. But, eventually, I remembered that I'm supposed to post something pretty for you all for today's picture, and well... It's not much, but it will have to do.

Another Tulip...

Now, I expect you'll probably see a bunch of pictures of tulips in the coming weeks since I've got a yard full of them. Thankfully, they're pretty things, and it's easy taking pictures of them (not like kids who have to be stapled and pinned into place).

Okay, ladies... Enjoy your Sundays. Put your feet up, have a beer, and watch some of the NFL draft...

Or, maybe not.


[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] I Could Never Get the Hang of Sundays...

Well... That's not entirely true, but with my mood being what it is today, and considering that I'm an achy bastard since the temperature went from almost 80 degrees on Friday to somewhere in the mid-thirties on Saturday, I think that sort of thing is cause for a little Dent, Arthur Dent-ish introspection.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I want to write about today. I'm currently spending my time "upgrading" my cheap Photoshop Elements program by cannibalizing the plug-ins and filters from the free trial version of Photoshop CS3. Unfortunately, the HDR merge doesn't work in elements, and, really, that's just not fair.

But, hellooooo Lens Blur!

Oh, how I've missed thee...

Sorry. I'm waxing a smidge nostalgic. I admit, as much as I like my Photoshop Elements software (at less than $100, how could you not?), I do sometimes miss the full program. The thing is, there are heaps and heaps of free programs and plug ins out there to help make the cheap version considerably more versatile.

In fact, if any of you use Photoshop Elements, you might like this site with 1,000's of plug-ins and filters. Some are really freakin' useless, but others, like the virtual photographer are really awesome.

So, have fun with them.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I'll be getting done today as far as this blog is concerned. I've got a lunch thing later, and I've yet to eat breakfast.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/27/2008 10:09:00 AM

Saturday, April 26, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] First Attempt... FAIL!

Today's picture is not a good one. In fact, I am not even going to post it to my Flickr pages because I feel it would seriously damage what little --yet positive-- reputation I've been able to foster there.

However, I wanted to post it here because this is my absolute first attempt at actual tilt-shift photography (or miniature-faking).

I love the tilt-shift effect on photos and how it can make the big look like a teeny-tiny model. There is just something so cool about it and how it can take something like a big menacing city and render it down to something out of a Godzilla movie or model train set.

Anyway, here are some great examples of the tilt-shift technique. And, as for my current favorites, there's this one, and this one.

Don't worry, though. I know, pretty much, where I went wrong on this one. In order to confuse that connection between your eyes and your brain, this picture should have been taken from someplace higher, a little farther away, and I should have done this on a sunny day (nice, sharp shadows really help the illusion). Unfortunately, this is the only picture I had that came even close to fitting at least some of the requirements (I think one, actually. It's far away).

It's close though...

The cool thing is, you don't need a special or big, fancy camera or a special lens (though they do make perspective altering lenses, but I think mostly architects and landscape photogs buy them, and, aside from the Lensbaby products, they are not cheap. No. Seriously. They're crazy pricey). All you need is the right sort of picture, and a photo-editing program which is capable of layers and layer masks (I had to freakin' hunt for a plug-in for my Photoshop Elements, but I eventually found one).

The original layer remains untouched (though it can help to brighten it or saturate it a bit to make it just a wee bit different from the copy), and the copy gets blurred a bunch. Then, apply a layer mask to the blurry copy and erase the blur from the bits which you want people to focus on.

Anywho... I'm sure that before too long, you'll see me slap something up here that fits in the Tilt-shift genre. I just need to snap the right picture.

So, I'm sorry this isn't the greatest of shots, but I thought it might be neat to invite you along on this learning process with me.



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/26/2008 08:16:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] God versus OPEC!

Now, here's proof that not all Christians are evil and malicious pains in the ass. Sometimes, Christians can be just plain goofy.
Pray-in at S.F. gas station asks God to lower prices
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rocky Twyman has a radical solution for surging gasoline prices: prayer.


"God is the only one we can turn to at this point," said Twyman, 59. "Our leaders don't seem to be able to do anything about it. The prices keep soaring and soaring."
(Full Story)
Now, once the prayer fails for them, Christians taking up torches and pitchforks and storming the white House is something I can see. When Bill Clinton left office in 2001, oil prices were somewhere between thirty to forty dollars a barrel. A scant seven years later, after what deservedly should be considered the worst, most-destructive and most dishonest presidential administration in our nation's history, oil now sits somewhere around $120 per barrel (I'll let that sink in for all you good Bushies out there who think this president is an honest human being, and not a money-grubbing, greedy, little, oil-coated turd.).

Conveniently, our cruel joke of a president is also a consistently failing oil man from Texas whose original presidential campaign was paid for by other Texas oil men who didn't fail nearly as bad as he did. However, that loan came due, and the interest is now being paid with the blood of our sons and daughters.

Praying to god is not the answer. Demanding that this criminal of a president be held accountable is. So, instead of getting on your knees, why don't you pick up the phone to voice your disgust or sit down at your computers and craft honest, emotional and passionate letters to your representatives.

God is not the answer; however, our laws are, and not even our president is to be held above them.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/26/2008 05:33:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Chilling...

Now, call me crazy, but whenever I read something like this, and considering that I personally find the idea of a floating, enigmatic sky-fairy to be a little odd, antiquated and utterly pointless, a weird feeling grips my spine and chills me with a fear that shreds whatever hope I may have once had for America:
Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats
Published: April 26, 2008

FORT RILEY, Kan. — When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.
(Full Story)
(Story from Fox)
(Discussion on Fark)
(Discussion on Pharyngula)
I believe it. After all, I get boatloads of death threats in my email from these self-described "kind, morally superior, and compassionate Christians." Seriously. When they tell me they want to see me die in a fire, I'm sure it's a perfectly accurate display of Christian love.

On the plus side, since I am an atheist, I now see no reason whatsoever to think about enlisting or even supporting our bigoted Christian military.

It's astounding that these zealots will wail and blubber about how persecuted they are in this nation simply because we are a nation of religious freedom, and since they are too god-soaked and brainwashed to ever understand what, exactly, religious freedom entails, they will never end their relentless pursuit to persecute others as a result of their silly fears in a feeble and confused fumbling quest for supremacy.

Christians are the majority faith in this nation, yet they don't seem to understand just how completely irrelevant that is when it comes to the rights of everyone to believe as he or she wishes. Inevitably, Christians will push and marginalize those who do not share their beliefs, and sadly, they will rewrite the once-proud history of America's founding so as to remove the stigma of bigotry and prejudice in order to justify their petty hatred and fear and to which the actions their fear and hatred will inevitably lead .

Personally, I think we should give this nation over to those who wish to inflict their mythology upon everyone. The free minded should leave, and from the safety of the far side of whatever ponds we cross, we can watch the inevitable decline of this once great nation. And, for those who believe this won't happen, perhaps it's best to look at the Middle East. That is the same direction this nation is headed. The Middle East was one of the most prolific areas in the studies of science, mathematics, medicine, and other intellectual pursuits. However, cultish theocracies began sprouting up to replace rational thought, and now, the unfortunate people trapped in that limbo between reality and mythology can barely manage to feed themselves.

If we continue along this path, that hellish life between what is real and what isn't will take root here and this nation will subsequently crumble into the same poverty, ignorance, jealousy and fear we see there.

So, please. Tell me why Major Freddy Welborn believes he is actually doing America the slightest bit of good with his service in our nation's military so long as he makes such worthless demands? Major Welborn, like all soldiers, took an oath, and with every breath, he violates that oath and proves he is wholly unfit for duty.

On the other hand, so long as bigoted U.S. Military leaders are acting to subvert the service of those who do not share their Christian beliefs, I whole-heartedly believe that there is no way America can put her best and brightest in danger. I understand that that is a disturbing and elitist frame of mind, but I would rather live beneath the peaceful rule of rational minds than be forced to bow to the simple, twisted mythology of gun-toting zealots.

Unfortunately, when these freaks gain greater control, realists and free-thinkers will be the first to find their so-called "heathen" backs against the wall as the good and godly firing squad rains their blasphemy and hypocrisy upon them for the simple fact that, what I believe, is indeed a crime in those eyes which have been blinded by the incomprehensible number of planks in them.

So, yeah... It looks like another week will go by where I can not respect the Christian faith. It simply deserves none. I will never respect any religion until the day comes in this nation where all religions accept the cruel reality that they are completely equal to one another.

Nonetheless, if you are a Christian reading this, and you would turn a blind eye to the treason, the bigotry, the hatred and the crimes of your faith, then you are not the solution or element of peace and tolerance your belief's founder wished you to be. In other words, you have failed.

Glad I got that off my chest.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/26/2008 03:07:00 PM

Friday, April 25, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Something for You to Do...

Let's play a little game, shall we?

A couple of weeks ago, while on a jaunt to San Diego, my twin --The Clone-- got a tattoo... A Clone-stamp, if you will (HA!).

Now, I consider myself a bit of a geek. Granted, I'm not up there in the upper-strata of the Geek-o-Sphere like Wil Wheaton or John Scalzi, but I can hold my own in certain geek-based conversations.

My Clone, on the other hand, is one USB-powered pocket-protector away from blowing those two out of the water. And, as a point of proof, all you need do is look at the body art my brother chose to see just how boldly he broadcasts his geekiness.

Anyway, the game for you guys, if you're interested, is to see if you can figure out what this is a tattoo of.

For those of you who know this off-hand and right away, I applaud you. There's a screaming geek in you, and I hope you embrace it.

And, for those of you who don't know what this is, I'll give you a hint:

It's from an old video game.

Now, I don't have any prizes to give away or anything, and this is just for fun. Please feel free to guess as many times as you wish. If you've got memories of the game, please share them.

On Monday, I will post the answer along with your stories (if there are any).

Good luck!



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/25/2008 11:10:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Fishy Friday Foto Fun!


Today's picture is a little goofy... And, if you don't believe me, have a look for yourself:

Fished-out Flowers.

Now, I've not been able to ramble outside much to really shoot anything nice. Between the aches and sundry daily busy nonsense, it's been a little tough. So, when in doubt, start playing with things and see what you wind up with.

Today, I came up with a patch of flowers picture I took a while back and slapped a fisheye effect on it. Nothing special, but I kind of dug the look.

Anyway, I've gotta scoot, so I hope you all have a great day. I'll try to be back later, but if not, what's everyone up to this weekend?

Is anyone hijacking a frigate out of Portsmouth and making sail to the Dutch East Indies?


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/25/2008 09:33:00 AM

Thursday, April 24, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Thursday's Shutterclick.

Today's picture was actually taken last night..

Sun setting on the cherry tree.

Two things about this picture:

First, there's a bug hidden in there that I didn't realize was there until I was going through the process of converting the picture from RAW to JPEG. So, I'll leave it to you guys to check the large size to see if you can find it (there's also one size larger).

And B:

When I first bought this camera, I think one of the things I first noticed about the world around me was the absolute absence of leaves on the trees, and ever since, I've just been twitching with all sorts of anxious anticipation to actually see some signs of life. And, here we have it --the first tree in the yard with leaves, and even though they are tiny little things, I am looking forward to lounging around listening to the wind as it whispers its way through this tree's leafy leafiness.

On a personal note, thank you all for the well-wishes and words of care and concern after yesterday's whimper fest. It's nice to know you all are out there, and if the world was populated with more folks like you, I'd imagine things on this planet would be a hell of a lot better than what they are now.

For what it's worth, yesterday actually turned out to be a reasonably fair day. After I medicated the aches and pains out of my system, I stepped outside to find that the temperature had snuck its way into the 70's, and with my opiated glow, it was damn near orgasmic. The best thing I did yesterday was the simple act of kicking off my slippers to walk barefoot on my sun-baked, dark-red (pseudo-brick) patio to feel the heat work its way up into the aching knuckles of my toes. I don't know if there's a better feeling than that anywhere in the world at the moment.

Freakin' wonderful!

Then again, in August, when the temperature is a blistering triple-digit nightmare, I think you'll notice a distinct change in my tone as I go from "oh, this is nice" to something along the lines of "WTF?!? What kind of idiot puts in a dark-colored patio in a place with no freakin' shade? You could sauté a pig on this patch of concrete!"


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/24/2008 09:13:00 AM

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] This Wednesday Thing.

Here's today's picture... It's an older one, but I've not been able to get out and shoot anything the last day or so. So, I think you may have to settle for the quick and the dirty for a bit.


I don't know why I liked this one enough to stuff it into my Flickr page. It would have been a hundred times cooler if the moon was full, but, unfortunately, I just don't have any control over those things.

Aside form that, I hope everyone is well and wonderful this Wednesday.


I'm not doing so great. But, it's nothing all that out of the ordinary, and it's even somewhat expected. The thing is, living with chronic pain really wears a person out and strains the sanity. And, it's frustrating to no end to have these limits forced upon me. Even something as simple and benign as typing has become something for me to look at and define in terms of pain. For example, now, when I approach writing, I think about what I wish to say in terms of how I can go about paring it down to as few keystrokes as possible since every single one feels as though it's a violent, head-on collision sending waves of pain up my inflamed little phalanges. As a result, my thoughts come across as wildly disjointed and barely even coherent.

Warm weather, however, brings hope. It brings more fucking hope than any amount of medication --be it infusion or injection or a simple pill packed with opiates-- could ever bring. And, time and hope are the only two things I currently have in abundance. And, as I sit here watching my fingers slowly bend themselves backwards as a result of these inflamed joints, the millions of words I want to say remain somewhat silenced.

It's frustrating, I guess, but they will always get better. It's just hanging here in the interim that can be a little maddening.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/23/2008 11:24:00 AM

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Oooo... It's Spring!


It's officially spring! The bees are out doing there thing, and this little fellow you see here seems to be lugging around a healthy dusting of pollen (if you're an allergy sufferer, I'm sorry. This picture probably is enough to get your eyes watering and your nose sniffling and sneezing).


It's freakin' spring.

Now, have some honey! This poor little dude is working way too hard.



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/22/2008 07:52:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Not an Iguana...

Here's a link to a story about a 69 year-old woman who happened to stumble upon an 8-foot alligator in her kitchen.

I love the fact how the woman, although obviously surprised, managed to keep pretty cool about the whole thing --especially when the 911 operator asked "are you sure it's not just an iguana?"

Of course, you know me, and you know how I'd respond to that: "Well, okay then nice-operator-lady, I just have an 8-foot iguana in my kitchen. How much bigger does it need to be before we call this an emergency?"


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/22/2008 12:48:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Bark... bark-bark...

Not having all that dandy of a morning here. I think I've been over-doing things with my random picture-taking walking excursions, and now, everything once again hurts like bloody hell.

So, I'm going to be a bum today. But, I wanted to post today's picture before I ramble off into my inconvenient decrepitude.

Just a crow.

Yeah... It's nothing terribly fancy (a longer lens and a little more planning would have made it better), but I kind of dig the way the light plays on the crow's feathers and how the trees are blurred to the point where it's hard to tell if they are foreground or background objects.

As for the crow itself, I don't know why, but those birds have always fascinated me. I know lots of folks claim to hate them, but when asked, they can never give you a good reason why. For instance, the ex-girlfriend/girlfriend and I were having lunch once, and in between bites of her medium rare cheeseburger, she remarked that crows are "gross" because they eat dead animals and roadkill.

Yeah. I kind of giggled at that. I mean, as smart as she is, it's pretty cute when she misses a glaringly obvious point sometimes.

I think people hate them for no other reason than the fact that they've been told to hate them. And, I think that's a large part of what it wrong with the world today. Yes. It's convenient and easy to rely on the opinions of others, but it is much more important and rewarding to gather your own information and make up your own mind.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/22/2008 09:25:00 AM

Monday, April 21, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Get a Better Watch...

Here's another reason why I have problems with religion:
Muslim call to adopt Mecca time
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC Arab affairs analyst

Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth.
(Full Story)
Now, I'm an neither a Muslim scientist nor a Muslim cleric, but I'm pretty certain that the center of a sphere is not a point anywhere on the surface of that sphere. In fact, I'm pretty sure most third grade students have a better understanding of geometry than these god-soaked potato-heads whose ancestors pretty much invented the math which contradicts their inanity.

I don't know what it is, but sometimes religion just makes otherwise bright people think, do, and say the dumbest freakin' things on the planet, and now some Muslims want the world to measure time in accordance to their religion's perspective.

Call me mean, but I believe if time is to be based on the so-called Religion of Peaceâ„¢, our clocks should be digital, they should start at whatever time you wish, they should run backwards and, finally, our clocks should explode when they hit zero. To me, that is Mecca time. But, I digress...

The fact that some "scientist" out there believes that the center of the earth is some point actually on the surface of the earth, and the fact that he's not been laughed straight out of whatever scientific community is forced to suffer such dim prattle of a supposed colleague, is not a good sign. I mean, if Mecca actually is the center of the earth, then I can't imagine what this will do to that ages old question of how many licks it takes to truly get to the center of a Tootsie Pop (According to Mecca Time, it would only take one if you're lucky, and two at the most).

Finally, I know that this is nothing more than yet another attempt by a handful of religious zealots to legitimize their religion above all others (the same thing is happening here in America with the power-craving Christians), and I think the best way of handling this is to simply point and laugh at the stupid people. After all, when your religion drives you so far away from reality that you do something so screechingly stupid as to suggest this, you should be mocked.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/21/2008 06:17:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Monday... Monday...

For today's picture, I took a walk through the morning fog in the park, and I stumbled upon this:

Someone caught lunch.

When I got home, I downloaded it, processed it, then applied some artsy-fartsy effects to pretty up this scene of insect demise (what's that? You didn't notice the dead bugs?).

Anyway, for those of you who don't dig the foggy effects, here's the other photo:

It's a web...  With drops and bugs.

I don't really know which one is technically better... I do know that I wish I could have gotten just a smidge closer, but it was pretty wet and muddy, and I was crawling around in what is a notorious poison-ivy patch (I spent a lot of time there in my childhood, by the way).

I'm curious (in more ways than one, actually), but which picture do you like better?



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/21/2008 11:37:00 AM

Sunday, April 20, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Sunday's Picture...

I've decided that every Sunday, I'm going to post pictures of pretty things for all the dames out there (yeah. I'm also talking like a 1920's gangster for some reason. Don't ask).

So, dollfaces, point your peepers at this:


Ummm... Other than that, I'm drawing a blank on 1920's lingo (Hey! It's Sunday! I'm not good with brain things on Sundays). Nonetheless, I hope you like the photo.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/20/2008 10:55:00 AM

Saturday, April 19, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Neato!

Danica Patrick has become the first woman in history to win an IndyCar race by winning the Indy Japan 300 in Motegi.

So, consider that particular glass ceiling shattered, and put her name in the history books where it can never be erased.

Figures it would be the ONE race I didn't watch, dammit.

Nonetheless, congratulations to Danica and the whole team.

Now, I'd write more, but it's late, and for whatever reason, I just can't seem to sleep, and my brain is pretty mushy.

Still... How cool is it to see her with that trophy? That thing's got to be as tall as she is.



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/20/2008 12:30:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Hey, Thanks!

Hi all and sundry. I just wanted to thanks for all the great feedback and tips and pointers on the previous photo. I'm glad you guys liked it. As a way of saying thanks, enjoy this:

Food Porn.

This is lunch. And, lunch was a cube of leftover curry-fried rice with shrimp from the China Chef here in town (the guy does some pretty amazing things with Chinese food. It's the best take-out I've ever had). Sometimes, I worry that there may, in fact, be heroin in this dish since I could literally eat this every single day of my life.

Now, I know Jaden: She of the Steamy Kitchen Upon Whose Beauty I am Unworthy of Gazing will see this, open up her hand, and promptly smack herself on her forehead wailing "Dan! You dumb bastard! You can make this in a jiff!"

The thing is, I know I could, but I don't care. Not only do these guys deliver a bucket of this addictive concoction in a scant ten minutes, I don't have the requisite opiates in my spice cupboard needed to season this dish so as to keep myself from going into the inevitable body-shredding withdrawals I'd most certainly face should I make my own.

If I ever find myself on death row, I'm ordering a bathtub full of this stuff (and a shimp roll).


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/19/2008 05:31:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] A Little Learning...

Yes. Today's picture is something I made a complete and total hash out of while post-processing it. The thing is, I'm trying to get a feel for snapping pictures of landscapes, and I wanted to post it to get some feedback or whatever. So, if ya got thoughts, spit 'em out!

Learning landscapes...

The thing is, I've gotten used to taking pictures of individual things (freakin' tulips, for instance) as opposed to pictures of everything. But, I liked this one. I like the various lines and spikiness of it all (and no. I didn't know 'spikiness' was a word until about three seconds ago). If you look at the larger size, you can see more detail.

Aside from that, I know there's not much color (which is probably why I went with the diffusion in the hopes of adding some sort of life), but y'know? This is Wisconsin, and things are still pretty brown. Soon, though...

Anyway, I hope you guys like this one.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/19/2008 01:03:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Eeesh!

You know, I like Christians. I know some ridiculously kind and friendly ones; however, unfortunately, I also encounter some bat-shit crazy ones as well. Take this guy, for instance. He and I have been swapping emails back and forth for a short time in a discussion as to whether or not America should be considered a Christian nation and how Christians, these days, are generally a rather intolerant herd.

His response:
"America is a Christian Nation and the biggest proof of our tolerance is that we allow the muslims and jews and pagans and atheists to live here."
Really... How does one even respond to something like that? I mean, part of me wants to send this kind, Christian overlord a fruit basket so as to thank him for allowing me my place in this nation.

However, another part of me wants to find the sheep-farm responsible for force-feeding this gibberish to this poor potatohead and burn it to the ground.

Perhaps the most striking thing in all of this is that this is quite telling of a much larger problem in America. And, that problem is that our educational system is crumbling faster than we can comprehend.

The history of America is a very important one; however, somewhere in this poor man's upbringing, the educational system failed miserably, and reality was replaced by a fear-based mythology which promotes elitism and entitlement. This Christian by convenience wants to feel special in spite of the this nation's laws and the very principles upon which this nation was founded. He wants his beliefs to be above our history and laws, and he wants ME to bow down to him and believe that I am a citizen solely at the discretion of himself and those who share his beliefs.

It's a petty and very empty threat built around a delusion and tightly wrapped up in a whole big bundle of crazy and topped off with a shiny card reading "With Love."

So, I guess the fruit basket would probably be the way to go, huh? I mean, these people are scary.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/19/2008 11:29:00 AM

Friday, April 18, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] The Toll of The Shake...

As you can see, this morning's earthquake caused some pretty severe damage. And, of course I'm not going to be able to get my insurance to cough up any dough for my damages. And, do you know why?

Do you?

Because I don't have earthquake insurance!

Now, I've got to go out and actually buy a new flower pot.

In all honesty, this thing was pretty trashed to begin with since, like a dope, I left it out all winter. So I really can't tell if this was caused by the earthquake or if a fly dropped by to decided that this flower pot would be a great place to take a leak and watch the world spin.

Still, it's the point of it all...

Aside from that, I know my buddy John --who, as a child, grew up drooling upon the twitchy earth of Los Angeles-- will probably read this and laugh. And, to him I say, do you have earthquake insurance for your little abode up there in Manitowoc, John? Do you? Huh? So, don't come crying to me when your flowerpots wind up trashed like this.



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/18/2008 10:48:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] The Last Road of Winter...

Here's today's picture...

Old road

As some of you have noted, I'm kind of fond of setting my camera on the ground and pushing the button. Focus be damned, I just let the camera grab onto whatever it pleases to get that odd, low perspective.

I mean, you really don't have to always peer through the viewfinder. In fact, you can even hold it a couple of inches off the ground, snap the shot, and see what comes of it. Usually, it's nice to have a line or some edge to help get a sense of what's going on. Give it a shot, and let me know how it turns out.

Anyway, as for the photo itself, this is a very old road that ends at the bluffs above Lake Michigan. At one time, many years ago, tucked away along this road were some really awesome and old Victorian houses. Some belonged to the farmers who worked the land in the area, and some were people who bought lake shore land for nothing but the view.

Unfortunately, as the years passed and the lake gnawed relentlessly upon the shore, the eroding bluffs collapsed and took a few of the houses with them. Eventually, the houses were abandoned as people fled the hungry lake. Some houses were actually picked up and moved, and others were torn down, and the whole area embraced its destiny to be nothing more than farmland.

As for the road, it's been closed for almost thirty years. In summer, the growth along the edges encroaches upon the dotted yellow line, turning it into a narrow path of old, unused and nearly forgotten pavement. Perhaps the greatest memory I have of this road is growing up in a childhood seasoned with the tales of broken-hearted teenagers, fed up with living, barreling full-speed down this road to plunge head first into the end (a girl I went to school with ended it here).

It's a strange and somber walk along this patch of old, gray roadway. When the winds fade, there is a silence that bears down upon you with the weight of one ton of Detroit steel free-falling over the edge into oblivion.

It's a fascinating area.


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/18/2008 11:01:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] The Rocks... They Be Angry!

Apparently, there was an earthquake somewhere around St. Louis, and from what I gather people in Milwaukee (where I am) felt a little wiggle as a result of it for a few seconds.

I didn't.

I was crashed.

However, my cell-phone was on the floor, and the cats were acting a little weird this morning. DogCat was on the window sill outside begging to get inside, and DeafCat was inside throwing herself at the door begging to get outside. Other than that, I've not noticed anything.

In other news, I am just freakin' screaming in pain this morning with all sorts of annoying, needling and stabbing aches in my fingers and toes, and it's really pissing me off. So, today may be a little slow around here.

As a result of that, I s'pose I'll take this time to ask you what it is you've all got planned for the wild and wicked weekend ahead? Is it spring in your neck of the planet?


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/18/2008 09:37:00 AM

Thursday, April 17, 2008

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Awwwwwkward!

Pope meets with victims of clergy sex abuse
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Pope Benedict XVI, after urging bishops, priests and parishioners to heal the wounds caused by the clergy sex abuse scandal, talked and prayed privately with survivors Thursday in what was believed to be a first-ever meeting between a pontiff and abuse victims.
(Full Story)
Now, that's customer service, right there! Pope Benefiber should get a free lunch at Applebee's or something for going that extra mile.

Then again, when he was but a wee Cardinal, wasn't he on the committee investigating this abuse crisis and subsequently decided to cover it up?



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/17/2008 04:39:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Blogcrushing...

Earlier today, John Scalzi came out and posted his blogcrush, and I thought I'd do the same...

I've got a couple because I'm such a sad, lonely fool...

The first is Felicia Day. Some of you may know her from her stint on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I've never watched Buffy, so I have no idea about that (put the knife down, Holly. I just can't get into Buffy). Recently, she's been doing the award-winning online series The Guild (If you're not watching The Guild, you're just not walking among the cool people of this planet. It's like funny, only funnier).

Felicia was also in a Cheetos commercial that's been bouncing around. She doesn't say anything, and her antics are limited to ruining some evil woman's whites in a laundromat. But, she's just brain-fryingly hot throughout the whole thing.

And she's a red-head. And she's smart. Brilliant. And she likes video games! And... and... She's smart!

Speaking of smart, my next blogcrush is Abby of ERV. She's gorgeous, she's funny, and I'm pretty sure she's got enough brain power to shoot lasers out of her eyes. She's not only on the cutting edge of HIV research, she's also really great at smacking the hell out of creationists. In fact, her public eviscerations of Billy Dembski are the stuff of legend, and it's no coincidence that she was among the first to note the convenient similarities between the Harvard/XVIVO film "The inner life of the cell," and the snippet used in the movie Expelled which, not only detailed the accuracies of the XVIVO film, but the exact errors as well (pretty damning stuff when you're claiming that you came up with it all by your own little self).

In fact, if it wasn't for Abby's big, face-eating puppy, I'd probably be camped out on her front lawn.

And, finally, though I don't think she has a blog, my last current crush is Tara Guelig:

Yeah... If I ever see her tooling down the road, I am totally going to smash my car straight into hers. So, Tara, if you're ever in Wisconsin, for your own safety, please let me drive you around.

So, there you have it. Those are my three current blogcrushes this week. I'm sure the list will change by Saturday. In fact, it may very well change by the time I eat dinner tonight.

One never knows these things, do they?


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/17/2008 02:14:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] In Case You're Wondering...

To whom it may concern,

Emily wasn't here!

Carry on Citizens,

Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/17/2008 01:46:00 PM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Album Cover Meme...

Well, this meme I nicked from Paul seemed like a good idea. I mean, it's just go to Wikipedia and bash the Random Article link to get the name of your band. Then, go to The Quotations Page and click the Random Quote link, scroll down and snag the last four words of the final quotation on the page to get the title of the album you're creating.

Once that's finished, head on over to Flickr to grab some cover art by downloading the third picture on the Explore Interesting Photos page.

After that, slap the collected text in there with whatever sort of photo-editing software you use, and post it to your blog.

My band's name is Synchronous Condenser, and the title of this "smash" album is pulled from the Bill Vaughan quote, "We learn something everyday, and lots of times it's what we learned the day before was wrong."

At this point, I was thinking, "Cool! We've got wrongness here!"

Then, I got to Flickr... Things really flew off the rails into a bizarre land of dead bodies and death metal when it came time to find the cover art. Fitting.

The art is from someone who goes by the name Miracle Man, and the title of this brilliant and oddly fitting work is Crime Scene: The End. His description of which is thus:
The slow trek to the burial mounds.

Best viewed large!

This is the third image in a 4 part series.

Strobist: Fusion Reactor, 93M miles behind the camera, right 30 degrees using a water vapor diffuser. SB800 on camera in TTL/BL mode.

Makeup by Lollycat
Models: Miss Morgue and Lee Tanner
Now, I honestly have no idea how many more attributions I need to append to this entry so as not to piss off the artist. I mean, the last thing I want is Lee Tanner banging on my door with length of rope in his hand and look on his face that says, "Time to go, man."

That dude would make short work of me. And, for what it's worth, I'm sure the girl in the picture deserved it. Maybe she tripped and fell on that knife? Who knows? With hair like that, she looks like someone who would run with scissors and knives. Maybe she came home drunk one night and hit Lee with a toaster as he was innocently sitting on the sofa innocently watching Jeopardy while innocently knitting some Hello Kitty mittens for his mother to show off?

A guy's gotta defend himself, people.

Right Lee? Right?

Please god, don't stab me in the face!



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/17/2008 11:16:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] A Wispy Picture...

It's Thursday!

As a result of that, I think I'll post an artsy-fartsy picture for today.

Wisps in the wind.

Not much to really say about this one other than I kinda like it. I have no idea what the tree is that carries these things (what? Do I look like a botanist?). But, if you click and click and click through the various sizes, you'll find that, up close, they're actually kind of neat in their fuzziness.



Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/17/2008 10:26:00 AM

[The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind] Manufactured Persecution (Part Deux).

Well, it seems the folks behind Expelled, that festival paying homage to the burning stupid of creationism, have embarked on a rather unique publicity campaign. I must admit, I find their tactics to be kinda funny:
This is just getting weirder and weirder. What kind of dummies are behind Expelled, anyway? First they lied about the premise of their movie to get interviews; then they copied Harvard/XVIVO's cell animations; then they threatened XVIVO with a lawsuit; now it turns out that they're using music from John Lennon and The Killers without permission, stirring the ire of Yoko Ono. It's total legal chaos, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm not going to even guess how any of it will turn out. Is the movie industry always this rife with sneakiness and dishonesty?

Anyway, no matter how the lawyers dance, one thing is clear: the makers of Expelled have been paragons of ethical dubiety, doing their best to skirt the edges of the law and sneak as much doubtful, dishonestly obtained content into their little propaganda movie as they can. I guess they had to skimp on the budget for the actual content of the movie to scrape together a very large advertising budget — it's as if their movie is a metaphor for all of Intelligent Design creationism.
(PZ Myers)
It's stunning, really. It seems that the folks behind Expelled lie, they cheat and they steal, and I'm pretty sure when the lawsuits start flying, the first thing out of their mouths will be some dreck about how the shady and nebulous entity that is "Big Science" is somehow out to silence them and their message, and this is, yet another, attempt at keeping god down. Imagine the sniffles this madness will inspire? There may even be tears.

Forget about the fact that, right now, Ben Stein and the Expelled bunch should be more concerned about "Big Law" than they should be about "Big Science."

Then again, is there something much more dubiousat play here? After all, I can't be the only one thinking that Ben Stein & Company actually want this movie to be yanked so as to whip the confused creationist masses into a delightfully frothy little mess by, once again, feeding their persecution complex. I mean, let's face it, there is a whole steaming heap of rabid Christians in America who, in order to believe they need their god, also need to believe they are members of an ignored, neglected and down-trodden minority mass whose rights and the things they hold sacred are in jeopardy. Should this movie never be shown, then I imagine this mendacious cause and the delusional fears it propagates can continue on for however long they please among these folks.

After all, at this point, I find it very hard to believe that Ben Stein and the filmmakers behind this nonsense are out to push any other message than the fact that it's ridiculously easy to bilk the religious out of their money by creating a controversy where none exists or even belongs.

On the other hand, if this movie is allowed to show in theaters, I think the greatest fear of these filmmakers is that much of the crowd will watch this movie, and they may say "so what." Even worse, maybe there will be those out there who will see that trying to tie Darwin and Evolution to the Holocaust is really no different than blaming the Wright Brothers for the events of September 11th.

I suppose the religious folks out there have a hell of a choice to make. I think you need to seriously sit down and ask yourself whether or not your mythology and supernatural notions belong in America's science classes?


Posted By Dan to The Wisdom of a Distracted Mind at 4/17/2008 08:57:00 AM