Debate Winner

Recovered from the Wayback Machine

From the hits I’m getting, I just found out that I own the Google phrase winner of the debate.

By the way, I lied and did watch the debate tonight. Well, the domestic part towards the end. I’m not going to address each issue because I don’t get paid to do this, and spent too much time jumping up and down going, “He’s an idiot! He’s an idiot”. Hard to effectively report in these circumstances.

(My roommate has sworn never to watch another debate with me. Ever. Again.)

My respect for John Kerry has increased with this debate, considerably; that for Bush lowered even further when the only mistake he would admit to is who he has appointed, but he can’t divulge the names, so as to not hurt feelings. And I’m sorry, but tort reform will not magically create health care insurance for 45+ million people currently without any coverage; nor will it significantly lower the cost of drugs. And Bush, your forest initiatives are going to kill the last virgin forests left in this country.

For those who see no difference between the two candidates, you’re not looking hard enough. George Bush sees the world in black and white, right or wrong, with us or against us. He appeals to people who want the world to live in black and white, right or wrong, or to be with us or against us. Kerry, on the other hand, can see the gray, and this isn’t necessarily reassuring to some folk.

But I want my President to see the gray, as well as the black and white. And I want a president who is willing to admit when he’s made a mistake, and learn from it. Bush never will.


Did I happen to mention

how much I like my new camera?

I was reading Randal Schwartz’s review of the Canon 20D DSLR, especially his exhultation about the effects one can manage with the 1/8000 shutter speed in combination with the high ISO (1600). I was tempted to go get my turkey baster and have my roommate squirt streams of water into the air so I could attempt his stop-water action shots; instead, I thought I would find a really bad light shot and just see how the ISO 1600 photos look.

The ISO 1600 on my 995 is quite similar to 1600 film in that it was grainy. Very grainy. And the color would usually be a bit off – having an orange cast that couldn’t be corrected. But there many conditions when you need this speed, and it would be nice to have relatively decent photos.

As luck would have it, today was cloudy and dark, and I just happened to find a magazine laying on my desk – the magazine containing my recent photo essay, as a matter of fact. Fancy that. I decided that a great test of the higher ISO would be to take photos of the essay pages without using any other light than ambient room light.

I plopped the magazine on my bed, opened the page, focused, and snapped pictures of all the pages. I used NEF (RAW) mode, and adjusted the exposure up slightly and sharpened slightly, but other than that – no changes. As you can see from the photos below, the ISO 1600 with the D70 provides beautiful pictures, with nary a grainy or color cast look in the bunch.

Even a larger photo 800 pixels wide doesn’t show significant degradation of image quality, and this without much tweaking of the photo in Photoshop.

Did I happen to mention how much I like this camera?


You might as well fire me

You might as well fire me, right now. Yup, just give me my marching orders and strip me of my feeds.

The candidates are in town tonight and I’m not going down to take pictures. Not only that, but I’m also not going to the DNC party, to see John Kerry make an appearance and take more pictures. I won’t be there to fact check that yes, Kerry is 6′ 4″, white, male, and speaks English.

In fact, I doubt I’ll even watch the debate tonight. I know, I know. There is no excuse. How can I provide my analysis, or point out any of the many gotchas that Bush, or Kerry, is sure to commit if I don’t watch?

I’m not sure what’s come over me. Flu? West Nile Virus? Too much interesting experimentation with drugs earlier in my life?

Personally, I think it was turning on the TV today to get a feel for the traffic problems and watching political ad after political ad, and not one was positive; every single one was a negative ad aimed at a candidate for one office or another, with largely unsubstantiated attacks that made each person seem like the Devil incarnate.

It was like watching snippets from political weblogs come alive on TV. I’m going to have nightmares for a week.


WordPress security fix and IT Kitchen languages

I gather that there was a security breach within the WordPress 1.2 installation. A fix has been provided but it, unfortunately, replaces all files in the WP installation, not just the files changed. I imagine the developers did this because whatever was changed in 1.2 for 1.2.1 could potentially conflict with whatever customizations a person has made, and providing all files is a way of saying, “Heads up – this works with the vanilla install, but may not work with your custom work”. Or maybe they did it because it was Monday when they released the code, and this is a Monday kind of thing to do.

I checked the files that are different and the impact to my custom installation isn’t much – a couple of files and having to move a couple of lines–but I am thinking that now might be a good time to just bite the bullet and start moving my sites over to 1.3. I’ll use the IT Kitchen weblog installation as a test of the stability of the code since I’m setting this up today and tomorrow, along with the site’s wiki.

Speaking of IT Kitchen, I’m rather hoping that my multilingual readers will volunteer to help translate the IT Kitchen weblog essays from the two week workshop into different languages, so that we can have a German IT Kitchen, a Japanese IT Kitchen, an Arabic one, a French one, and so on. If you can spare some time to do one or more essay translations, I’d be grateful.

Just Shelley

Slipped out of time

My favorite place is not at home in front of the computer, or out on some trail somewhere, taking photos. It’s not in any city or town, in the country, or along the water, though you get close with the latter. I am in my car, but being in my car doesn’t make it my favorite place. And the place loses its magic if someone else is with me.

My favorite place is the car wash. In the middle of the car wash to be exact. I love the car wash. But before you start with, “Lady, you need a life”, give me an ear, an eye, and a sec of your time.

The excitement of the car wash starts when I move my car on to the rail and put it in neutral; I have lost all decision making power at this point except which wash I want. Do I want the wash with the pink, yellow, and blue foam, or just the pink and yellow? Do I want that clear liquid rinse they say is a wax, but how can it be when it isn’t waxy? Does my underbelly need washing? I don’t know, is my underbelly dirty?

After this decision, though, I am free from any further need for action as soon as the car starts moving forward until I respond to the bright green DRIVE light at the end.

I am isolated in the car wash. The radio is off to prevent interference with the wash sensors, and the cellphone doesn’t work through all the equipment. The wash is too short to start any task, no matter how small or trivial. If it was a bit longer, I’d feel guilty for the ‘wasted’ time, and probably whip out a notebook or some such thing, in order to do something useful. But the wash is over before this activity can be made worthwhile; so I sit and do absolutely nothing.

Nothing except watch the two young people scrub my front and back bumper and windshields to remove the corpses of tiny little creatures who zigged when they should have zagged. After that is the water spray, and I am moved to hum a note or two from “Singing in the Rain” during this event. The excitement begins to build within, anticipating what’s to follow.

First comes the big soapy strips that move back and forth across the car and take off the initial layer of dirt. They remind me of great dark blue tongues, bigger than a cat’s, even bigger than Mick Jagger’s –reaching out and licking across the glass and the metal, the tips lingering on the warm metal at the end. Following these is another shot of water, for the initial rinse, but it’s nothing to get excited about; mere foreplay made more mundane by what’s to come.

The car moves past tubes set into the wall and bright white, pink, yellow, and blue foam squirts out all over the car; pulsing to some internal beat; swirling together into a purple color that slowly drips down the sides of the windows; softly teasing small bubbles, sparkling in the light, glide past me as I look out. Always bright white, pink, yellow, and blue. Never all white, or all pink. I imagine a study was made in the past and the car wash people discovered that people respond better to different colored foam. I know I do — it wouldn’t be magical if the bubbles were all white.

But the moment doesn’t end when the foam ejection finishes. No, next comes the lighter blue yarn like threads that spin around very fast, along the the sides and top; following the contour of the car in a passionate but surprisingly gentle grasp. They start in front of my car and part ever so reluctantly as the car moves slowly forward, never losing the grip they have on the sides as they glide compellingly towards the back. At the end, they give a saucy little flip to the rear, a pat of appreciation and familiarity in passing.

Of course, once the blue threads are finished, the fun part is almost over and the excitement begins to wane. The car is rinsed with one clear water rinse and then another, followed by the wax, and though it’s pleasant, it doesn’t tingle or give one a thrill. Still, there are those fun little fans at the end, moving up and down and across the car, chasing water droplets across the hood and the windshield. A final fun and piquant moment before the green light comes on and I’m booted out.

What’s best about the car wash is that all during this experience, I don’t have to think about what tasks need finished, or what improvements need to be made in my life; who I have pleased or disappointed or let down. I don’t have to read the opinions of this wit or another, alternately cheered and depressed, calmed and angered. I don’t have to hear the bad news on the radio, or listen to even sadder news on the phone. I am slipped out of time.