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Last night I stayed up late and played around with my digital camera, laptop computer and EOS Utility software that controls the camera via the computer. The result is this star trails photo with Polaris at the center. Locating Polaris is no small feat with all the light pollution around. But, with the help of some astronomy/star gazing iPhone apps, it was easy to find, even if I couldn't actually see it.
The photo is made up of 240 photos taken over two hours on my Canon EOS 500D (Rebel T1i) and merged together with Photoshop CS5 using the import command: File - Scripts - Statistics - Stack Mode: Maximum. After quite a bit of experimentation I found that there were a lot of camera setting combinations that would produce workable results. So, by no means am I saying what I used is best (I know, unusual for me), it is just what worked for me: f/2.8, 20mm focal length, ISO 200, 20 second exposure, taken 30 seconds apart.
There was quite a bit of light pollution on the horizon so I couldn't aim lower. The objects on the lower right are beams from our pergola which prevented me from aiming farther right. And, since I did it really, really, late at night, there are no airplane trails. All and all, I'm very pleased with the outcome.
Today was the annual raking and playing in the backyard fall leaves. Drew and Will had some serious speed on this one.
Drew got some height in this one as both boys did their best "Superman!"
Soon the chest first landing gave way to the all powerful instinct of a boy to land on his knees.
I love this aftermath photo at the moment of impact.
An animated gif of one of Drew and Will's jumps.
Landon was content to play on the edge of the pile.
Landon took an occasional mini-jump, but never ventured too far into the pile.
Our Thanksgiving cartoons from years past:
To all the men and women who have worn the uniform of the greatest country on earth, thank you for your service to our nation. Without you, we simply would not be.
Some great information, history, teachers guide, etc., can be found at the United States Department of Veterans Affairs site.
Oliver North was in town today signing his book American Heroes in Special Operations at Books-A-Million.
Oliver North signing a copy of his book for me.
American Heroes in Special Operations by Oliver North and edited by chuck Holton. Packed with color photos on every page, from what I've read so far the book is a good read.
Below the dedication to his wife, "For Betsy, The best shadow warrior of all," Oliver North signed "Don - My best! Oliver North."
Oliver North's tour bus.
This is the Devon Tower, a 50 story 850 foot/259 meter skyscraper being build in downtown Oklahoma City which will be the new home of the Devon Energy Corporation. The tower is the tallest building under construction West of the Mississippi River and, upon completion, will be the 10th tallest building West of the Mississippi River and the 31st tallest building in the U.S. (The rankings are as best as I can tell as there is much heated debate as to what defines a building and what is included, roof, spire, tower, etc.)
I was in Oklahoma City today for a hearing and took these three pictures. For this one I am southeast of the tower looking northwest at it as I drove into downtown.
I took this one after my hearing from the roof of a parking lot where I was north and a little west looking south and a little east.
Finally, on my way out of downtown, I took this one looking almost directly east.
The project encompasses a significant addition to a parking garage, a six-story podium building extending west, a six-story glass rotunda and the Devon Tower itself. Google Earth already has build in Oklahoma City and some images can be seen at RezoneOKC.
The glass rotunda. The artist renderings show this as a popular meeting place filled with people. I think it is a great addition but I can easily see it as being barren and sterile. I will be very interested in seeing what kind of public access the rotunda and tower will have.
Looking up at the Devon Tower from the glass rotunda.
A comparison of the completed Devon Tower and the, currently tallest building in Oklahoma, Williams Center now officially called the BOK Tower. The terrific Skyscraper Page has a graphical comparison of Oklahoma's tallest buildings.
Although over a week late, we got to celebrate Aunt Donelda's 50th birthday today in person since she was in town for Drew's birthday.
Everyone had been wishing Donelda well and saying great things about her...so, what was a loving little brother to do but get her a graveyard 50th birthday cake memorializing the death of her youth complete with a one-foot-in-the-grave reminder (which is actually one foot out of the grave?!?!).
Her friends put together an incredible montage of pictures of Donelda through the years. Fantastic job guys! (Click on it for larger size.)
We got Donelda a rare framed picture of the Chicago Cubs Rick Monday saving the American Flag along with a few other odds and ends. Happy 50th birthday Donelda!
Drew celebrated his birthday twice this weekend. Once on Saturday with Aunt Donelda who came in from Chicago just for his birthday along with Uncle David, Ma, Pa, Will, Landon, Mommy and Daddy, and again today, his real birthday, with just the five of us.
Mama made another one of her awesome number cakes carrying on the tradition started by Grandma Danz. Until you try to make one yourself, you have no idea how much work goes into it. Funny, too, how the tradition got passed down but none of the little tips and secrets to making the cakes got passed on.
Drew proudly showing his number seven cake.
Drew opening and reading his cards.
Star Wars Lego...one of the all time great combinations!
This is going to be fun to play with later.
Another great combination...Xbox and Lego!
Landon was also very interested in checking out the gifts.
Daddy, Will, Landon, Drew and Mama.
Daddy, Mama, Aunt Donelda, Will, Uncle David, Landon, Pa, Drew and Ma. Thanks to everyone for helping to make Drew's birthday really special.
Random thoughts I need to get out so I can clear my head:
House: Republican gain of 60 seats (not including 10 officially yet undecided all currently held by Democrats) is the largest gain for either party since 1948, when the Democrats gained 75 seats and the largest gain for Republicans since 1938 when they picked up 80 seats. Objectively, this is a truly historic election, far more so even than 1994 when Republicans enjoyed a 54 seat increase. This is the biggest win in 60 or 70 years depending on what you compare it to. Some politicians and pundits are trying to downplay the significance, they are idiots. They should have "idiot" tattooed on their forehead so when people interact with them throughout the day, they will be instantly warned that they are dealing with an idiot.
Senate: Republicans gained 6 Senate seats (AR, IL, IN, ND, PA, WI) and lost none. Because this was not enough to gain the majority in the Senate some people are downplaying the significance of this result too. However, because elections of Senators' 6-year terms are staggered, only about 1/3 of the 100 Senate seats, precisely 37, were up for reelection compared to all of the 435 House seats who only serve 2-year terms. This was a 16.2% increase in the Senate compared to the 60 out of 435 or 13.8% increase in the House. Arguably, by the numbers, Republicans scored even bigger in the Senate.
Senate II: In 2012, there will be 33 seats up for grabs, 10 Republican, 21 Democratic, and two "independents" who are Democrats in everything but name (Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut). Republicans will likely pick up the Senate in 2012.
Governors: At this time it appears that Republicans will have a net increase of 9 Governors. Again, this amounts to an 18% increase overall (9/50) and a 24.3 % (9/37) increase when you consider that only 37 governorships were up for election.
State Legislatures: Republicans picked up 680 seats in state legislatures around the country. Compare this to 472 the GOP won in the historic midterm elections of 1994 or even the 628 seats Democrats picked up in 1974 just after Watergate. Yes, Obama is worse than Watergate.
The 19 state chamber switches so far are all Democratic to Republican except for the Montana House which was tied and is now Republican, and the Oregon House which was Democratic and is now tied. Republicans gained: AL (House and Senate, H&S), CO (H), IN (H), IA (H), ME (H&S), MI (H), MN (H&S), MT (H), NH (H&S), NC (H&S), OH (H), PA (H), WI (H&S). This is the first time Republicans have controlled the legislature in Alabama since reconstruction. This is the first time the Senate in North Carolina has been Republican since 1870. This is the first time in history, the Senate in Minnesota will be Republican. And, finally, Republicans picked up 124 seats in the New Hampshire House going from 174 to 298 seats.
The Democratic gains after Watergate were the result one corrupt politician. The Republican gains in 2010 were the result of Democrats actually implementing their failed liberal/progressive policies.
President Obama: BO is saying that the massive historical repudiation of his presidency only evidences a failure to communicate his message rather than a failure of his policies. I really hope he believes this and doesn't move to the center as did President Clinton. If BO holds this line of arrogance, he will be well on his way out the door in 2012. And, know that he believes the failure wasn't on his end, we're just too stupid to understand his greatness.
Sarah Palin: She endorsed 43 House candidates and 12 Senators. Of those she backed, 30 of the Representatives won, seven of the Senators. Excluding the still undecided races, that puts her success rate at a minimum of 67%.
"The racist teabaggers have elected Marco Rubio, and Susana Martinez, and Tim Scott, and Nikki Haley, and Bill Flores, and Allen West, and..." PatrickRuffiniAnyone, who thinks Tea Partiers are racist is simply afraid to debate the real issues of smaller government, lower taxes and greater freedom and, instead, trots out the, quickly becomingly meaningless, ad hominem attack of racism. Really, is that the best you got?
Tea Party II: The freakishly biased, hypocritical, news outlet of the Democratic party, MSNBC, reports that "Just 32% of Tea Party candidates win." The first comment currently under the story says it all, "32% is HUGE! For a bunch of blue collar people who had no organization until 18 months ago." Sorry, MSNBS (not a typo), your little headline should have read, "Tea Party wins massive 32%."
In reality, the figure should actually be 57%! In one way or another, the Tea Partiers also had to win the primaries or, at least, win over a Republican candidate. In other words, each of the winners comprising the 32% figure had to win twice. This works out to a 57% victory rate (57% wins in the primary times 57% wins in the final election equals 32% of Tea Party candidates in office). For a brand new, grassroots, unofficial, uncoordinated, group of loosely affiliated individuals...the commenter had it right...this is HUGE!
California: The Golden State elected (re-elected) Jerry Brown as Governor...really, Governor Moonbeam, again? This, even after his campaign was caught on tape calling his opponent Meg Whitman a "whore" and another tape surfacing where he admitted with regard to his prior campaign promises, "You say you're going to lower taxes, you're going to put people to work, you're gonna improve the schools, you're going to stop crime." "It's all a lie."
California also reelected Barbara Call-Me-Senator Boxer. So few have so well defined arrogance as has Ms. Boxer.
California II: Most unbelievably, every incumbent state senator or assembly member on the ballot won re-election, whether they were Democrats or Republicans...or even freaking dead!!! Yes, the very dead, bereft of life, incumbent senator, Democrat Jenny Oropeza was even reelected. The totals are 10 incumbent state senators (9 Democrats, 1 Republican) and 52 incumbent state assemblymen/women (35 Democrats, 17 Republicans).
Dear California electorate, you all are a bunch of idiots and you get what you deserve. Your state's ridiculous taxes, massively burdensome regulation, and crazy social policies have destroyed your state. Businesses and productive individuals are leaving your state in droves. And yet, you reelect every single moron of both parties who have proven their inability to govern. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. California, your ideas have failed. Enjoy your bankruptcy, you deserve it. So help me, if the federal government decides to bail out the states whose failed socioeconomic policies have bankrupted them...I don't even have words.
Oklahoma: I'd like to apologize for the blue portion of the state of Oklahoma on our U.S. House of Representatives map. Just people voting for a blue-dog good ol'boy with the right family name who are ignorant of the national consequences of sending someone off to congress with a (D) after his name.
Allen West: Now here's a guy I'm excited about! I don't know of another more brilliant, more passionate, defender of the core principals on which our great nation was founded and from which we have so far strayed. Like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Congressman-elect Allen West out of Florida tells it like it is without all the politically correct B.S. He is a man to watch. In a literal sense, I highly suggest checking out any YouTube clip of him, you will be impressed! In short, he is the complete opposite of the metrosexual-euro-socialist-weenie-anti-colonialist-anti-American-exceptionalist-terrorist-enabler that currently occupies the oval office. Finally, if you read about the circumstances under which the Lieutenant Colonel left the Army after 22 years of service, just ask yourself, is this the type of man you'd want your son or daughter to serve under. If you answer no, either you're lying, or you place a very low value on the life your child.
Wikipedia: The Wikipedia article on the 2010 gubernatorial elections is hilarious. The article focuses on the popular vote...totally irrelevant, unless you lost a bunch of governor seats but won the popular vote totals. Despite having all the vote totals, nothing about the Republican pick-up of nearly 1/4 of all the governorships. Eventually the article will be cleaned up and begrudgingly improved, but it is hilarious to see the mostly liberal edited pedia drag its feet and avoid reality. Remember, Wikipedia is surprisingly good on factual matters but embarrassingly bias on anything political. (Update, article fixed as anticipated.)