The Vorlon wife has a few African Violets. This is one of them. It happens to be flowering rather well at the moment. I thought it might make a good subject for my Friday Flowerblogging. So here it is.
I had four more slides scanned at my local camera store. I asked them scan them at very high resolution. They charged me $9 per slide!
It's a good thing I only gave them four slides to scan. I was incredulous, when I can send them away to here and have them scanned for only $0.79 per slide for their best service.
On top of that, I don't think the quality is any better when I had them scanned at a lower resolution. I guess you could put me down as an unhappy customer. I will not use their services again.
It's New Year's Eve. I have never been much of a celebrator of New Year's. To me, it's just another day. I mean, what is special about a new year? Why not celebrate the start of each month?
I guess one could look back over the year and see where one has come. For me that venture is always, "not as far as I want."
In the business, it has been a slow year, up until this month. December has been a very good month. If every month could be like this December, I'd be a very happy camper.
My preference is to go to bed early and hit the ground running tomorrow. But The Vorlon wife seems to want to stay up past my bedtime.
Alas, we did NOT see Polar Express at the Tropicana this afternoon.
We drove to Atlantic City. We parked the car, came down the elevator and found ourselves right at the IMAX Theater.
All the shows today were sold out!
We should have purchased tickets ahead of time online. Lesson learned.
We went for a walk on the boardwalk. In comparing the Atlantic City boardwalk to the Ocean City boardwalk, where we frequently go in the summer, we found the Atlantic City boardwalk a little seedy.
I took some pictures of some of the casinos, as they were pretty spectacular. I’ll post them later for your perusal.
We stopped at the mall on the way home and bought a new electric blanket. Our old one died and I like my electric blankey.
The Vorlon wife and I plan to go see Polar Express in 3D at the IMAX theater in Atlantic City this afternoon. I'll let you know what it's like.
I started placing buy orders at the beginning of this week. I've had a few trades kick in and then get stopped out. I currently own the following stocks: FLIR, GOOG, PMTI and TASR. PMTI is up 12.26% and TASR is up 11.24%. All my trades have very tight stops on them. I'm considering selling PMTI and TASR and walking away with my profits. But we'll see.
I just spotted robins in the crabapple tree outside my window again. However, I only see about half a dozen today.
Blackfive has a story about a marine that got a care package that was meant for a lady. Boy, did his fellow marines tease him. But, sometimes, there are no mistakes.
My son said they had to go on a mission and Marine X wanted the chapstick and lotion for the trip. He grabbed a bunch of the items out of his care package and got in the humvee. As luck would have it he grabbed the tampons, and My son said everyone was teasing him about "not forgetting his feminine hygiene products". My son said things were going well, and then the convoy was ambushed. He said a Marine in the convoy was shot. He said the wound was pretty clean, but it was deep. He said they were administering first aid but couldn't get the bleeding to slow down, and someone said, "Hey use Marine X’s tampons". My son said they put the tampon in the wound. At this point my son profoundly told me, "Mom did you know that tampons expand?" ) "Well, yeah!". They successfully slowed the bleeding and got the guy medical attention. When they went to check on him later the surgeon told them, "You guys saved his life". If you hadn't stopped that bleeding he would have bled to death. My son said, "Mom, the tampons sent by the Marine Moms by mistake saved a Marines life."
Whether the Bush doctrine in Iraq will ultimately make the world more stable and the U.S. safer, I don’t know. My crystal ball is pretty foggy and I recently dropped it in the mud. For me, I see that coin in slow motion suspended in mid air slowly flipping end-over-end.
One can argue whether the Bush doctrine in Iraq is the right or wrong strategy – and those are reasonable arguments to make. But at least he is trying SOMETHING. He’s not sitting on his hands hopping for good things to happen. He’s in the fight trying to affect the outcome. You have to give him high marks for trying.
Sri Lanka has rejected Israeli plans to send a rescue team to help with the Tsunami disaster. It seems there were upset because some of the Israelis were military types.
It strikes me that beggars should not be choosy.
StrategyPage.com has the comments from a chaplain that helped to care for the wounded in the aftermath of the attack in Mosul. It's pretty heartrending, but I still recommend you read the whole thing.
The last count was 25 dead, and around 45 wounded. Nevertheless, our cause is just and God is in control even when the crap is a yard deep. I'm where God wants me and wouldn't change that for anything, even if it means death. After all, "to die is gain".
The robins are back in the Crabapple tree. I would guess there are about 15 of them. They're hard to count as they don't sit still very long. There are still plenty of tiny crabapples to eat. It looks like a couple of starlings have going the group. I guess they'll eat crabapples too.
George Will has a column about the book, "Washington's Crossing" by Brandeis historian David Hackett Fischer. In the book, Fischer makes the point that Washington crossing the Delaware and winning the battle of Trenton turned the tide of a losing war.
Up to that, point Washington has lost every battle against the British and had lost 90 percent of his army. Washington gambled everything on his crossing the Delaware and catching the British and Hessians by surprise. Had Washington lost this gamble, the revolution would have failed and, as Will says, “subsequent world history would have been very different.”
I guess we’re lucking we didn’t have CNN around back then or we would have given up.
Austin Bay, who served in Iraq, writes in the Weekly Standard about what he calls "The Millennium War."
Let's stipulate that a world where America has the same sense of security it had on September 10, 2001, is a dream state--not an End State for the global war on terror. Technology is a culprit. Technology has compressed the planet, with positive effects in communication, trade, and transportation; with horrifyingly negative effects in weaponry. Decades ago, radio, phone cables on the seabed, long-range aircraft, and then nuclear weapons shrunk the oceans. September 11 demonstrated that religious killers could turn domestic jumbo jets into strategic bombers--and the oceans were no obstacles. "Technological compression" is a fact; it cannot be reversed. To deny it or ignore it has deadly consequences.
One of the problems we face in defining what constitutes an American victory or acceptable End State in the global war on terror is the war's dirt-stupid name. One might as well declare war on exercise as declare war on terror, for terror is only a tactic used by an enemy. In this case the inept name has led to needless political confusion and loss of clarity about long-range goals.
In September 2001, I suggested we call this hideous conflict the Millennium War, a nom de guerre that captures both the chronological era and the ideological dimensions of the conflict. If there is one mistake we've made in fighting this war, it's the way we've soft-pedaled the ideological dimensions, and that soft-pedaling has blurred our goals. This really is a fight for the future, a battle between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and millenarian Islamofascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty.
Recognizing the ideological component as an essential feature of the war indicates the most desirable End State to the war would have two features: (1) democratic nations that police terrorism, instead of promoting it or seeding it; (2) an Islamic clerisy that understands its role on Earth is spiritual guidance and education, not temporal political control.
A large order? The task is absolutely huge, but so was World War II, when heavy history fell on "the greatest generation." It's this generation's turn to accept the challenge of building free nation states and protecting Muslim moderates, or we will face terrible destructive consequences.
What I missed was the amount of money Saddam had squirreled away to keep the pot boiling and test U.S. will through time. Oil For Food and other scams gave the tyrant a bankroll. I expected al Qaeda or its avatars to show up in Iraq--in fact, that's one of the sotto voce goals for waging war in the heart of the Middle East, to fight Islamofascism on its home turf. Prior to 9/11, with little pressure on its hidden network, al Qaeda could take its time to spring a vicious surprise attack--surprise and visionary viciousness being its strengths and the gist of its "asymmetric" challenge to America's "symmetric" power. "Fear us, America," was the message, "because al Qaeda chooses the time and place of battle, and when we do you are defenseless."
The essence of strategic art is to force an enemy to fight on your terms, not his, and ideally in a fight he cannot refuse. The U.S.-led attack on Iraq changed al Qaeda's battlefield. Sunni-extremist al Qaeda has had to fight in a predominantly Shia country. Arab elitists in al Qaeda snubbed the Afghans and ticked them off; Kurds know the feeling.
Zarqawi's al Qaeda clan accepted the battle. Zarqawi's network has been hit and hit hard. We've learned a lot about al Qaeda funding and recruiting, but Zarqawi hasn't been destroyed. Something that has been destroyed is the notion that al Qaeda's extremism dominates Islam. The idea that waging jihad against the West is easy has also been exposed as a lie. These are ideological defeats for al Qaeda, but the Bush administration--soft-pedaling the ideological conflict--has failed to exploit them politically and psychologically.
The continuing combat in Iraq is thus not only the result of slapdash postwar planning, but of two strategic aims that will take years to mesh: (1) engage al Qaeda on a battlefield it did not choose in order to destroy its eschatological claims, and (2) plant a modern, secular Arab state in the Middle East that will ultimately seal al Qaeda's defeat. The Iraqi people remain in the crossfire of Saddamite resistance, al Qaeda terror, and Coalition firepower.
I recommend reading the whole article.
We got a ½ inch of snow last night. It is 25 degrees and winding today. When I drove up to the office this morning I see a FLOCK of robins. We have flowering crab apple trees outside our office building. The robins are eating the crab apples. There are 15 to 20 birds in the flock.
I presume they are from the north heading south and not from the south heading north.
Today we went to visit the Vorlon wife’s Aunt Jean. While I was there, I thought I’d try some black and white photography. I set my Canon PowerShot A60 to black & white mode and the ASA speed to 400. I guess I took about 30 pictures. I turned the flash off, as I wanted these to be candid photos. The above picture is the Vorlon wife’s Aunt Jean. As you can see, it’s a little fuzzy. That’s because I had the ASA speed cranked up to 400. Digital cameras don’t seem to do very well in low light situations. At least mine doesn’t’. I thought that since I was shooting in black and white mode, it might improve It didn’t.
Still, it’s not a bad shot. I tried to clean up the photo on the computer, but my skills are just too meager to get what I wanted.
I wish I had a different background. But when you shot candid work, you have to take what you get.
StrategyPage.com has an interesting take on what is going on in Iraq. Here's an excerpt.
The U.S, military planners, from the beginning, saw the situation as a classic counter-terrorist operation. The American military has been winning these kinds of wars for over a century, and the methods used then still work. The U.S. Marines, who did a lot of this in the early part of the 20th century, wrote a book about it in 1940; "The Small Wars Manual." This is still be used successfully. Vietnam was one of the few times American counter-terrorism tactics failed. Or did they? Actually, they didn't. By the early 1970s, the communist rebels in South Vietnam were crushed. What people forget was that South Vietnam fell to a conventional invasion from the north in 1975. The Baath Party and al Qaeda have no neighbor with an army ready to come in and rescue them.
This time around, American troops have better tools to collect information, identify the terrorists and quickly carry out raids. The terrorists had big advantages, in that they were Iraqi and the Iraqi population knew very well what the Baath thugs were capable of. A further complication was the attempt by the newly formed Iraqi government to negotiate deals with traditional Iraqi tribal and religious leaders. It was thought that these leaders could rally their followers to resist the terrorists. This had worked among the Kurds and Shia Arabs. There was some resistance from Shia Arab groups that wanted to establish an Islamic Republic, but these were defeated by the Summer of 2004. But many of the Sunni Arab leaders have proved unable, or unwilling, to resist the terrorism.
The battle against the Iraqi terror is not being reported accurately. One reason is that the American military cannot release information then have about the enemy, as that would let the terrorists know what is known about them. This is a war of information. The terrorists depend on secrecy for protection. They must remain invisible to survive. But bit by bit, the Baath Party and al Qaeda organization has been revealed. And as it is, raids go in and take it apart. Towns and neighborhoods are cleared of terrorists and staffed with police and army bases.
Al Qaeda is a crucial factor in this war, because many of them are foreigners, and all are fanatical fighters who will go anywhere to die for the cause. Baath Party fighters are more likely to remain in their own neighborhoods. So al Qaeda is the mobile reserve of the terrorist force. But al Qaeda is still an organization, and organizations can be identified, located and taken apart.
There is a war going on in Iraq, it's just not the one you read about in the mass media.
We are hosting some of the Vorlon wife’s family to day and Pot Roast is on the menu. I put the roast in the oven about 07:30 this morning at about 300 degrees. About 12:00, I put in a mixture of chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, and potatoes.
The rich beefy aroma of the meat is permeating the whole house. We expect to eat about 15:00. I hope I can wait that long.
Actually, after today, I should probably fast for a week.
There is a residence if few miles from our house that goes all out in decorating their home with colored lights. What you see above is a pale representation of what it really looks like.
The Vorlon wife and I spent last evening at the Vorlon wife’s nephew’s house in Delaware. I’m sorry we missed the candlelight service in our church but that was a 19:00 and we needed to be in Delaware at 18:00. I have yet to devise a method to be in two places at once.
We went to the Catholic 16:00 service. I will admit that Catholic theology is a little unnerving to me. Their deification of Mary strikes me as un-biblical. An those kneelers are killers on the knees. I was in some pain part of the time.
But they had a nice service and we got to sing some Christmas carols.
On the way back from the nephew’s place, I stopped to take the above picture. Actually, I took several pictures and what you see above is the composite of two photos. Fortunately, in this very small format you cannot see how blurry the picture was. Even though I had the ASA cranked up to 400, I could not hold the camera steady enough to get a crisp shot.
But the above picture DOES give you a bit of idea just what this family does for Christmas.
OK, so it’s not a flower. In fact, it’s not even alive. It’s our Christmas tree. The Vorlon wife has done her usual outstanding job in decorating it. We’ve had this tree since, well, a very long time. It always really seems like Christmas, after she is finished with her efforts.
I offer this compelling email from a soldier in Iraq, when Rumsfeld came through.
Here's an excerpt:
Then remarkably, the young soldier, who had just lost his left hand and right eye from an explosion, came to the defense of the Secretary of Defense, stating "Mr. Rumsfeld, I want you to know, that you are doing a fantastic job. I know that you are taking a lot of heat for the problems with getting armor for vehicles. I want you to know that things are vastly improved. Our vehicles are great, and I have never searched through junk piles for scrap metal."
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
“I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Jason Van Steenwyk give his take and his challenge to the Runsfeld critics:
What I want to hear from the critics is how can we develop our intelligence capabilities to better find the terrorists in their homes? How can we better clobber the enemy where he lives, where he least expects it?
We have the number of troops already. What we don't have is the intelligence.
I want the public to be screaming about what we're going to do to the insurgents.
All I want us thinking about is how to get close enough to them at a position of advantage and shove a bayonet in their necks and twist it.
Researchers reported that a diet that includes a key omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and canola oil prevents some memory loss in mice that develop a disease similar to Alzheimer's. They looked at a fatty acid, called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is essential to brain function and Alzheimer's patients have low concentrations of it in their blood.
Research implies that people who spend many years in mentally taxing jobs are less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than are people who do more-routine work.
The recent attack in Mosul is heart breaking. So many valorous lives snuffed out in bright flash. The good folks at POWERLINE have a letter from a major at CENTCOM. In it, he quotes General Abizaid.
We have the enemy down on his back and we are choking him to death. He can still scratch at our arms and draw blood but he cannot alter his fate. Only we can relieve him of his doom by letting up. If we stay the course, he will die.
It is clear that this attack can have no military value. Instead, it is an attack on the American public’s psyche. It is an attempt to convince the Americans they cannot win in Iraq and to leave Iraq to the terrorists.
So, how are the terrorists doing?
Click here to view a tribute to our troops. It takes some time to load and there is musical accompaniment.
Here's a link about the flag you may enjoy. Just click here.
StrategyPage.com has some advice for anyone in Iraq. To wit:
· Practice changing tires, and doing it quickly. This does two things. First, you learn how long it takes, even when you are in a hurry. This can be a useful bit of information if you are under fire while changing the flat. Second, practicing it forces you to make sure the spare tire is in good shape, and can quickly be reached (along with any tools needed.)
· Mister Grenade can be your friend, even on the crowded streets of Baghdad. If your vehicle has a glove compartment, re-label it as the “grenade compartment.” Carry one smoke, one fragmentation and one tear gas grenade. If you’re stuck in traffic and the situation outside it starting to look dicey, then drop a smoke grenade out the window and try to get moving. You MUST be moving if you drop the tear gas grenade, because you cannot drive through the tears. Most other drivers will give you a wide berth when they see the smoke or tear gas grenade go off. For those who keep coming, with evil intent, the fragmentation grenade may come in handy (it is good for getting at bad people hiding behind something.) Remember, when using grenades, do not touch the pin until the grenade is outside the window. Accidents happen, and having a smoke grenade go off in your vehicle will ruin your day, at the very least.
· Carefully plan each trip on the roads, especially in areas where the bad guys are particularly active. Remember, the most frequent targets are large convoys of big trucks. So stay off the MSR (Main Supply Route) used by those guys. Give everyone in your convoy a strip map of the coming trip, and make sure the “assistant driver” (the one who takes over if the primary driver is hit) studies the plan as well. Select a route that you feel is least likely to be watched, and attacked by gunmen.
· Especially when outside your base, always have your weapon (usually an assault rifle or pistol, or both) with you at all times. Carry as much ammo as you can. In an emergency it will not be enough, but the more the better (14 or more magazines is not unreasonable). Only the stuff you have on you counts, as you may have to get out of your vehicle in a real emergency. Look around, the troops in Iraq have discovered many clever ways to carry all these magazines.
· Always wear you Kevlar helmet, and your armored vest when outside the compound. When in the compound, always know where your vest and helmet (and weapon) is. Keep the weapon clean.
· Practice basic combat operations, like changing magazines (you take cover when you do this, people who don’t, often get shot). Practice aiming and shooting. Lots of firing ranges have been set up in Iraq, and lots of ammo has been provided for practice.
· Practice shooting at long range (800 meters.) While it’s true that most combat is at shorter ranges (under 100-150 meters), you will sometimes find yourselves being shot at by people farther away. In a situation like this, a little practice before hand will pay big dividends. Might even say your life. Think about it.
· Make sure your first aid gear, and skills, are always up to snuff. Get extra medical gear if you can, and learn how to use it. The Special Forces medics always get the latest and greatest stuff, so find out what they are using and see if you can scrounge some of it up.
· Always be ready to return fire when on the road. Nothing discourages ambushers more, and ruins their aim, than lots of return fire. You might even kill a few of them.
· Don’t throw candy to the kids while you are on the road. This just encourages them to get to close, and sometimes get run over. This is bad for the child, and for you as well. The dead kids family will come after you. Remember, every Iraqi family is allowed, by law, to have one AK-47.
· If you are in a firefight and you wound one of the enemy, don’t let him crawl or limp away to safety. Kill him. These guys are doing holy war and will keep shooting even if wounded. They cannot hurt you if they are dead.
· Cars and trucks, unless armored, are not bullet proof. If you are in a firefight, take cover behind concrete or steel. Fighting from behind an unarmored vehicle means you will eventually get shot when you don’t expect to. Indeed, when ambushed and in an unarmored vehicle that cannot move, the best thing to do is get away from that vehicle as soon as possible.
Powerline has an eloquent letter from the father of a Marine Iraq. In my opinion, it is a worthy read.
If [our son] had been killed, we would have been first informed by a visit - in dress blues - from a condolence team typically consisting of two Marines and one Navy Chaplain. We know many families who've received that knock on the door. No letter is required. No words are required. A simple peek thru the view hole in the door and the sight of dress blue blouses, white covers and white gloves tells you all you ever need to know. A letter of condolence from the SecDef is, honestly, not even worth opening. Families are much more interested in hearing from the men who served with their son and from their families. We share the constant knowledge and fear that it could be our door bell being rung. Sec. Rumsfeld doesn't know our son. He's a Lance Corporal. He directs a machine gun team. He is a vital link in the line that protects our way of life. He doesn't fight for his country, he doesn't fight for the SecDef, he doesn't even fight for his mom and dad. He fights for the guys on either side of him and for his team. He fights to secure his objective of the moment, which he may or may not understand or agree with. Sec Rumsfeld doesn't need to take time from his day to sign a form letter of condolence and he certainly doesn't need to take time to figure out what the LCpl was doing when he was killed or what kind of a man he was. His job is to make sure the LCpl didn't die in vain and that only as few LCpl's as possible will have to die to end this war in a successful manner. Don't get me wrong, we would appreciate the condolence letter from the SecDef, as well as one from the White House and from our Senator and Representative, from the Mayor and Governor. But none would bring back our son. And they are all form letters, signatures be damned. A letter from his 1stSgt, from the men we know in his unit would be a treasure and a comfort.
I don't know what happens in other branches, or even other units. But in 2/4, I know the 1stSgt's personally contact the surviving family with letters, emails and phone calls of condolence.
By the way, we know families of fallen Marines who've been flown to sites where President Bush was speaking. He met with them privately after his event, never any press coverage, and the families have said that - after being given an agenda for their time with the President and being told that he's on a very tight schedule - Mr. Bush talked to every family member as long as they wanted to talk, never hurried anyone, cried with family, hugged everyone and they all felt like he had nothing else to do for the rest of the day but bring comfort to them. For that, George W. Bush has my eternal respect and gratitude. And there was NEVER one word of publicity surrounding any of these meetings with families. (I have pictures to dissuade doubters.)
Bottom line, we support Sec Rumsfeld. The people who are making a big deal about this have their heads up their collective a****. They need to have a serious priority check on what people in positions of responsibility should be doing with their time. They should also chat with some military families if they could figure out how to contact them.
The comment spammers hit me today. I got hit with 40 comment spams. Fortunately, I close all comments that are not displayed on the main page. I also use something called Blacklist that let me clean up all the comment spams in about 10 minutes. It also records where they come from, so that can’t hit me again.
The biggest problem is with Movable Type, my blogging software. When I get hit with those spam comments, it takes my host’s server to its knees. My host is not pleased. Movable type is working on some fixes.
Here are their comments about the situation and what they’re doing to rectify it.
I thought it might be interesting to see how I am attempting to clean up my just scanned slides. Below are the the various stages and the resulting picture. I use Jasc Paint Pro 7.04. They've got a newer version available, but I haven't figured out all the in's and out's of this version yet.
Here's the original photo back from the camera shop without any modifications. Look how dark and contrasty it is. The trees look almost black - although the sky does look nice. The slide was shot on a 3M film called Dynacolor and this was 40 years ago, so that may have something to do with the color.
This is my first change. I use the Histogram tool to reduce the amount of contrast. The trees are still a dark, but not quite black. It's a little hard to see the differences in this small picture. When it's at full screen, it's a lot easier to see the difference.
Still using the Historgram took, I've increased the amount of green in the photo. Now the trees are starting to look a little greener.
More Histogram work. This time I'm cranking up the red. Notice how it makes the trees look even green than before. Go figure. But I think it's getting better, don't you?
This one's hard to see the difference. I used something they call Clarifier. I shapens up the buildings. In this small picture, you can't really see the difference, but when I looked at the full screen, it was very noticable.
Last steps. Here's I increase the color saturation to intensify the color. I also use the sharpener to make the picture crisper.
Don't you think this looks a lot better than the original? I'm still not completely happy with it. Do you think it has TOO much green? The sky seems to have lost some of that deep blue and now looks a little aqua.
With the Thermometer at 11 degrees this morning and the wind howling around the house, I opted to forego my daily jog. When I look out the window, I only see a very light dusting of snow.
I got cold last night. We really need to replace our non-working electric blanket.
I’m looking forward to spring.
I dug through some old slides I had, took them to the local camera shop and had them digitalized. They charged me $0.75 per slide. I thought that was rather steep, but I only had 15 scanned. I used the local camera shop, as I didn’t want to risk sending them through the mail or UPS.
This was an experiment to see, when I get some more done, what parameters I should use.
I had the scanned as Tiff’s. I used this format, as there is no losses with it. However, I told them to make the photo’s about four mega pixels. It turns out that Tiff’s are a lot larger than Jpeg’s. That means I didn’t get nearly the resolution I wanted.
I was disappointed with the color. Now the slides are about 40 years old and perhaps they have aged. I found the colors cold and the photo’s had a lot of contrast.
I used the software to warm up the colors and soften the contrast. But I’m not expert at this so my results leave something to be desired.
Here’s the link to view them. Look and tell me what you think.
I arrived home at 18:54 last night. My away mission was successful and the client was satisfied with the results.
Fresh from recent maintenance, Dasher-1 was pressed into service and performed well. I think I need to rebalance the tires, however.
Traffic was heavy but flowed well on the return journey. I was able to maintain orbital velocity nearly the whole way.
I made on stop at the Deptford Mall for some Christmas shopping. I hit the mall about 17:30. Timing could not have been better. I had a list and knew what I was looking for. I was a man on a mission and I was successful.
I was in the mall, visited two stores a quarter mile apart, purchased four gifts and back on the road in 45 minutes flat. That’s my kind of shopping. I like to think of it as an exercise in decision-making. In this situation, I can make quick decisions and be on my way.
I took this picture of the Vorlon wife’s Phlox. It was against a textured background that I thought looked sort of like a painting. So I used Paint Shop Pro to make it look like a watercolor. Although I kind of like the result, I’m not super thrilled. I make no claims to being a graphic designer. I’m more of a database geek and have no eye for graphics.
It is 23 degrees this morning with a slight breeze blowing. I figure the wind-chill, when I sent jogging at 0530, must have been around zero. That's cold for us Sourth Jerseyans.
Tomorrow morning my jog should be considerably warmer. I'll be jogging on the treadmill at the hotel. It's boring, but more comfortable.
I have a three-day away mission starting tomorrow afternoon. The mission is to a client in North Jersey. The goal is to collect as many billable hours as possible. Blogging will be light over the new few days. I plan to return December 18.
By the way, did you know there are only 10 left until Christmas? Do you have your shopping done yet?
PowerLine makes a good point. Just where is that report on the bogus CBS memos about Bush’s TANG time? I’ve been wondering that for some time. I think the committee to investigate the whole brouhaha was selected about mid September. CBS said it would be weeks not months for the report to come out.
Well it’s going on three months now and still no report. I wonder if CBS would be so patient if it were the Bush administration that had a committee doing an investigation.
StrategyPage.com has an excellent piece on some of the goings on in Iraq. It's not pretty. I guess you could say the worm has turned.
There about 115,000 Iraqi security forces on duty. This includes police, troops and security forces that basically guard things like power plants and oil facilities. Journalists over there tend to concentrate on those incidents where Sunni Arab soldiers or police run away. But the majority of the Iraqi armed forces and police are doing their job. The jails are filling up with criminals again, and the Sunni Arab gangs in central Iraq often attack Iraqi police and soldiers, only to find that they are Kurds or Shia Arabs, who are eager to shoot right back.
The Sunni Arab terrorism is giving rise to an increasing amount of similar actions by Shia Arab groups. The Shia Arabs, unlike the Sunni Arabs, are not trying to take over the government. Once elections are held next month, the Shia Arabs will be the largest block in parliament. What the Shia gunmen are looking for now is revenge. What outsiders often forget is that decades of terrorism and violence by Saddam was done most often by Sunni Arabs who did not hide their identities. The Shia took names, and some are not waiting for trials. They have lists, and are out looking for Sunni Arabs to kill. It is personal. And the police are not bothering much with these vigilantes.
NATO has agreed to help Iraq train police commanders and army officers, but few NATO members will actually send trainers. Most Iraqis (the Kurds and Shia Arabs) believe that the violence in central Iraq is supported by Saddam Hussein's many friends. This in includes Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors, and many European countries (Russia and France were major weapons suppliers to Saddam). So NATO's reluctance to help them makes sense. Conspiracy theories are popular in Iraq, the one about France and Russia wanting to put Saddam back in power has gained some traction.
Shia Moslems have long been persecuted by the majority Sunni. While the Kurds are Sunni, they are not very religious. At least most of them. A small minority of Kurds support Ansar al Islam, an Islamic radical group in league with al Qaeda, and supported by Iran. While Iran is mostly Shia, there are some in the Iranian government who support anyone who will help kill American soldiers. A principal belief of Iranian Islamic radicals is that the United States is the major enemy of Islam and must be destroyed, or at least weakened, by any means available. This attitude is a bit much for Iraqi Shia Arabs, who were never fond of the Iranian government anyway. Arabs are a minority in Iran, and even though these Iranian Arabs are Shia, they have suffered persecution from the majority, non-Arab, Iranians.
Iraqi Shia Arabs have lived in fear, and domination by Sunni Arabs or Iranians, for over a thousand years. Now it is their turn to rule, and they are not eager to let their chance slip away.
A teacher in Syria gets a surprising response from his students. They like Bush.
One afternoon I was explaining the passive tense of verbs, and I used an example that came to mind from American culture. I asked them if they knew who was nominated by the two main parties to run for president. "John Kerry was nominated by the Democratic Party, and George Bush was nominated by the Republicans," replied one of the brightest in the class, a veiled Muslim engineering student named Rahaf. "Very good," I said. "Now, who do you think will be elected?" "Bush," cried several of the students at once, smiling. Abandoning my lesson plan for the moment, but curious at this sudden display of interest in the election, I ventured: "Who do you want to win?" "Bush," said Rahaf, while a number of others nodded in solid agreement. I pressed them further for a few minutes, asking individual students why they liked Bush. The same ideas came up again and again: he is a strong leader, an honest man, and, most of all, a believer. Like the winning margin of American voters this year, these Middle Easterners related to Bush's sense of religious conviction and his confident steering of a nation and culture they admired.
"But doesn't he scare you?" I asked finally, unable to contain my personal feelings and throwing the lesson plan out the window. "Because of Bush's ideas many people in my country think that all of you are terrorists." Rahaf and most of the others just shrugged. Maybe that was all true, they said, but he was still a good president.
I found these same sentiments expressed almost word for word in my two other classes. In addition, some of the most articulate students expressed intense misgivings about central Democratic electoral platforms, including gun control, limitation of the death penalty and especially abortion and gay rights. Just the word "homosexual" made many of them cringe and click their tongues in that uniquely Arab way of showing disapproval. A final piece of the puzzle fell into place when I learned that more than half of the students in my advanced class, among them a third-year medical student and daughter of a Western-based diplomat, rejected the theory of evolution. "I just can't believe that we came from monkeys," she said.
The Vorlon wife and I spent the afternoon putting up the Christmas lights on the house. I shot this picture tonight. I had to crank the ASA up to 400 on the camera and the shutter speed was still 1/6 of a second. I braced myself as best I could against a telephone pole. I guess it didn’t turn out too badly. All I need now is some snow to really set it off.
It was a cold job and I’m pleased to report the job completed with my not breaking my neck. That always makes me feel a little better.
The Instapundit has some interesting data on how Viktor Yushchenko was poisoned. I turns out dioxin is not fatal. Yes, it can make you sick, but it won’t kill you.
Since it seems to have been determined, that Yushchenko was poison with dioxin and dioxin is not fatal, one wonders why they bothered.
Another question comes to mind. Did he poison himself knowing it wouldn’t kill him, but would cast questions about his opposition? I doubt we’ll ever find the truth in this matter.
Do your damnedest in an ostentatious manner all the time.
- General George Patton
A friend sent this. I thought it was humorous so I'm passing it on. By the way, Latke is a potato pancake and a Driedl is a small top.
TOP 10 REASONS WHY HANNUKAH IS BETTER THAN CHRISTMAS
10. There's no "Kathy Lee Gifford Special"
9. Eight days of presents
8. No need to clean the chimney
7. There's no latke-nog
6. Burl Ives doesn't sing Hanukkah songs
5. You won't be pressured to buy Hanukkah Seals
4. You won't see, "You're a Putz, Charlie Brown."
3. No barking dog version of "I had a Little Driedl."
2. No pine needles to vacuum up afterwards
1. Latkes are cheaper to mail than fruitcakes
It seems the Dutch middle class has decided the Netherlands are no longer their cup of tea. Some say they are deserting like rats leaving a sinking ship.
"There's a feeling of injustice that if you do things right, if you work hard and pay your taxes, you're punished, and those who don't are rewarded. People can come and live here illegally and get payments [said Ellen, 43, a lawyer and banker who votes for the free-market Liberals]. How is that possible?"
Could this be a lesson for the U.S?
This is the Vorlon wife’s Columbine. She has a few that flower in the spring. This one was taken in May of last year. They seem to posses a beautiful delicacy. Perhaps I’ll post some other later of a different color.
Charles Krauthammer wonders why the legacy media has not taken more notice of our success in Afghanistan. The legacy media warned that Afghanistan had been the death Nell to British and Soviet empires. Yet in two month, we eradicated the Taliban and now they just swore in their new freely elected president.
Where is the hoopla?
He ends with this.
It also means that against all expectations, Afghanistan is the first graduate of the Bush Doctrine of spreading democracy in rather hostile places. We should take a moment to celebrate a remarkable success that had long seemed so improbable.
The Carnival of Recipes is up. With recipes like Black Bean Dip, Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille and Thick & Chunky Potato-Leek soup, get thyself into the kitchen and start cooking.
A recent article on the High Probability Selling website has some "bite" in it.
Most salespeople are wimps when they talk to prospects and customers, but not when they talk to other people. Why do they wimp out when they talk to prospects and customers? Why are they so afraid that talking straight to prospects will be deemed offensive?
A lot of our trainees protest what they think is the "harsh" language of High Probability Selling.
In a recent High Probability Selling training course, several participants protested the way we teach them to talk to their prospects and customers. "It seems to be abrupt, harsh, even rude," said one student. "I understand the theory of being so direct but, talking that way isn't really me," he said.
Another student said, "I know it's beneficial for both the prospect and the salesperson to be straight with prospects. But, I think most prospects would be offended by that way of talking."
However, when salespeople talk that way to people who are NOT prospects, then they describe it as speaking "directly, forthrightly and honestly."
Here's what I told them. You have to give up on being the most courteous, most agreeable, and most accommodating salesperson on earth. That's not who you really are and that is not the kind of person whom the vast majority of prospects and customers trust and respect. Acting that way is a transparently phony.
We know that the two most important buying decision factors are whether or not the prospect Trusts you and Respects you. You need to be authentic in order to be trusted, and you need to respect yourself before you will be respected. Most salespeople need to learn how to do that - effectively and gracefully - in order to become highly successful.
Recently President Bush visited Marine base Camp Pendleton. Blackfive has the reason the President went there that wasn't reported by the legacy media.
...we had the lead for the POTUS visit and I was privileged to spend much of the day with him. Let me tell you something that was, very deliberately, not in the news. President Bush came here for two reasons. To thank the Marines and sailors of Camp Pendleton for all they do, and to meet with the families of our fallen warriors. The first part was public. The second - and I believe far more important - was to meet privately with 170 family members who had lost a loved one. He forbade the press corps from viewing or photographing any of it.
The Plt Sgt Mitchell Paige Fieldhouse (a brand new $12.5m facility) has two basketball courts. One was curtained off and decks covered where he met with them together. Then, he met with the family members of each fallen Marine in the other gym individually. Having had the duty of a Casualty Assistance and Notification Officer many times in the past, I know how emotionally draining it is to talk to even one family at a time. When we put the President back on Marine One some three hours later, he was as somber and drained as I've ever seen him. It took an emotional toll on everyone involved.
Obviously, he did not have to make this visit. He could have delegated that task to anyone to do it for him. I have great respect for ones that will do the "right" thing, regardless of how tough it is.
Where is the Democratic Party headed? Moveon.org seems to think that IT now controls the Democratic Party.
"In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive," the message continued. "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."
Rush today related how the Republican Party spent nearly 40 years, from 1960 on, to refine their message. He intimates the Democrats may have to spend their own 40 years in the wilderness. If Moveon.org takes over, it looks like the Democrats may indeed spend 40 year out of power.
One can hope.
A poll taken before the election of how people identified themselves broke down as follows:
AFTER the election, a new poll was taken and here’s how people not identify themselves:
Nothing succeeds like success.
The legacy media still seems to be trying to make Iraq into a disaster. This is not to say that it is all peaces and cream. Far from it.
As I see it, a segment of the Sunni population is trying, without much success, to re-assert their previous control over Iraq. Fallujah taught them that the Americans couldn’t be stopped. Once we decide on an objective, we take it.
It would appear their current strategy is to terrorize the population enough that the elections next month will fail. I think they will fail here also.
The Iraqis have just seen a successful election in Afghanistan. That has to make them wonder why an election in Iraq cannot also be successful.
I don’t expect the election to be perfect, but so what? When Lincoln won his second term not all the states participated in the election. But the U.S. move forward any way. Iraq can do the same.
My take is there is a serious war going on in Iraq. We have two choices: cut and run or make it work.
I voted to make it work.
Today was somewhat busy. Whenever I’m out of the office for more than a day, things start to pile up. I was out about 2 ½ days last week. Today I tried to catch up.
I had planned to do a conversion of a client’s software with Microsoft’s help. The shadows grew long before I could get to this upgrade. Although my contact a Microsoft and I were willing to work on, my client’s MIS people were going home at 17:00 and they refused to give me the administrator password on their server. Without being able to log in, I could do nothing.
Guess what? It’s not getting done tonight. I’m a little perturbed. I have the passwords to many clients and these people are getting in my way. Tomorrow I’ll see how the CFO takes it.
A poem from Henry Longfellow written in 1864.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th' unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
And in despair I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
'Til ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!
I left the remote firebase about 16:25 this afternoon. The return journey went well and I glided to a landed at home base at 18:46. Dasher-2 performed well and I was able to engage the auto-speed much of the time on the New Jersey turnpike.
At times traffic was so light that I could have increased velocity to 100 or even a buck-twenty. But, alas. It has been many years since I received a traffic ticket and I’d like to keep my streak intact.
Tomorrow I’ll connect into the office and do my billing, as next week is looking hectic – and in my business, that’s usually a good thing.
The last rose of the year? I took this picture last week of the Vorlon wife's rose. For some reason it continues to flower, albeit sparingly and, as you can see, with smaller blooms.
I’ll be on an away mission for the next three days. I plan to return late afternoon on Saturday.
I’m all packed and ready to go. This time I taking Dasher-2. Dasher-1 is undergoing maintenance and won’t be available for a couple of days.
Dasher-2 is fueled and ready to go. I am now T-5 and all systems are go. The main engines are coming up on full power.
The Democratic Party is not looking particularly healthy these days. They seem stuck in the mindset that they’re just not getting their message out to the people. I believe the facts are, they ARE getting their message out to the people and the people are rejecting it.
There was no shortage of people that saw Michael Moore’s movie. Now I hear the Howard Dean is on the short list to become the head of the DNC.
Much as I’d love the see the Democratic Party go the way of the Dodo bird, this country needs a strong vibrant two party system. Between Karl Rove and the Democrats, the Democratic Party is fast becoming a minority party.
I’m a staunch Republican, but unfortunately, it is composed of humans. Humans are fallible human beings and given half a chance will screw up. I want the Democratic Party there to keep them honest.
So far, that does not seem to very likely.