What? No Jumper Cables?

Scientists at UCLA have developed and used an ultrasound technology to stimulate the brain of a man in a coma. The results were astounding. Within 3 days after the treatment the man had improved dramatically, I’ll quote: “Before the procedure began, the man showed only minimal signs of being conscious and of understanding speech for example, he could perform small limited movements when asked. By the day after the treatment, his responses had improved measurably. Three days later, the patient had regained full consciousness and full language comprehension, and he could reliably communicate by nodding his head “yes” or shaking his head “no.” He even made a fist-bump gesture to say goodbye to one of his doctors.”

Now granted this guy already had very limited cognitive ability to start with, but I’d say the immediate improvement is quite noteworthy. They did however take a cautious approach with this statement: “It is possible that we were just very lucky and happened to have stimulated the patient just as he was spontaneously recovering.”

This looks to be promising tech with a bright future, or it could have been a fluke, but definately worth watching how this plays out. If this proves to be as good as it seems this would be a breakthrough technology. Being the kind of guy I am I hope it works on a regular basis.  :)


Are Bloggers Narcissists Then?

A study out from Brunel University claims that Facebook posters habits tend to give away some of their personality traits. Which seems logical, I know I can get a vibe from the way a person elaborates about themselves, and when that vibe is picked up on it’s usually a bad indicator. Not always though, the internet being what it is can leave one wondering if someone is just an asshole or if maybe they forgot an emoticon.

Anyway, the article makes sense in its conclusions, at least to me. For instance people who tend to post a lot of status updates tend to be suffering from low esteem. And people who post about their children tend to be conscientious, okay then I can see that. Then it goes on to discuss the narcissist, and  I quote:

  • Narcissists more frequently updated about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community. These updates also received a greater number of ‘likes’ and comments, indicating that narcissists’ boasting may be reinforced by the attention they crave.
  • Narcissists also wrote more status updates about their diet and exercise routine, suggesting that they use Facebook to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance.

Okay, that all kinda makes sense too…

But the thing is then, what about bloggers? Is our drive to post some sort of window into our personalities? Are we the ultimate narcissists? Looking for likes and appreciation from our blogging peers?

I know I have asked myself that question on more than one occaision. Especially when I’ve been in a posting drought. Next thing I know I start feeling guilty, then tell myself “hey man, you have been busy, the blog will still be there tomorrow.” Then I begin to wonder about my inherent duty to the blog. I’ll tell myself “If you are going to have a blog, you damn well better post something before the end of the decade!” And then the question. The one I dread, even though I’m pretty sure the answer is no “Do I really need the likes and the comments so badly I have to post something?”

At least I think the answer is no. If the answer is yes then someone needs to tell me “Well yes, but in a good way!”



This Is My Life Today

Some of you may know I recently restored an old flatbottom boat. Mostly it just needed a paint job, which in itself was an excercise in frustration, and a great deal of work. The paint specifically Duralux Aluminum Boat Paint (almost 100 buck a gallon!), was very difficult to work with. It was way too thick to use the HVLP spray gun, having many years of experience as a custom home finisher (quality painter) in my younger days, I decided to brush it on. That was a disaster. The paint was so thick it wound up sagging terribly (I had cut the paint with MEK already to its maximum recommendation) so I had to spend a couple of days sanding that out. My expectations of a good finish are very high. So with spraying out, and brushing out, I decided to try rolling. That worked. But it took a great deal of time and effort to get there.🙂

That was a few months ago (during my blog absences) but a few of weeks ago I found another boat to adopt. This one is a 1978 Terry, it’s 15’5″ long, tri hull design (which I love, they ride like Cadillacs) nice and wide, and has a solid floor. Terry manufacted boats of very good quality back in the day as evidenced by how solid this boat is today. The boat had a 1978 80 hp Mercury on it, that as it turned out runs good. Though the lower unit needs seals. $200 fix. But wait theres more! I also got a 90 hp Mercury, newer model, unknown running condition in the deal. I did a compression test it looked good, all 3 cylinders at or around 105 lbs cold. Also verified spark at the plugs. With those conditions met I figure I can make it run. Also and this was important in me deciding to get this boat, I have another Mercury engine identical to the 90. This one is a 70 hp but they are pretty much the same except for carburation, which mostly accounts for the added hp. My old 70 can be a parts engine for the 90, or if I can’t get the 90 to run as it should, I can use the 70. Or I could fix the 80 that was on the boat when I got it. Decisions, decisions. All to be determined by the running condition/or not of the 90. But I have to a lot of gelcoat restoration to do, and I need room to work, so I have to wait until I get the boat shiny again before I can slap a motor on it and begin the process of making it work.

The gelcoat (fiberglass finish, topside/most sun exposure) was beat down, oxidized, and felt like 80 grit sandpaper when you ran your hand across it. My first line of attack was wetsanding with 800 grit, then 1000 grit. Then I had to buy some supplies. The recipe for restoring fiberglass finish in rough condition generally requires a good adjustable speed polisher, $200 for a good one, buffing pads of various grades, and some finishing compounds. Well those finishing compounds were $200 too. This is getting expensive quick.

I have a dual action (DA) air sander and a 60 gallon air compressor so I thought I’d look into making the DA work, instead of investing $200 on a tool I’d use for one job. And lo and behold I can (and did) get the buffing pads and backing pad to make my DA do the job of the pricey polisher. It will take more work because the DA has a slower speed at its highest running capacity than the polisher has at its lowest setting. Which means I have to go slowly, and use pressure to generate some heat. A little heat is the trick in bringing out a good shine, and/ or some long lost color. And elbow grease doesn’t cost much🙂

So after wetsanding I went to a wool pad on the DA and some 3M super compounding polish. Componding polish is much like liquid sandpaper and with the wool pad is its most agressive. I got the topside (really the worst area due to constant exposure) compounded, and have recently moved to a finer grit polish this time 3M Finesse It II and a heavy foam pad on the DA. I did that run, and made another pass with a finer pad and the Finesse It. This time I am pulling some color out of that old finish and it is starting to look and feel glassy smooth. I understand I will never get the original finish back out of this boat, but I’m happy enough with the color I’m getting, and I don’t have to have it perfect, darn good is good enough for me. So that’s what I’m working for.

I know a  lot of my friends probably have little interest in some old fool restoring boats but with all of my years working out of a boat I guess I became a boat guy. So you’re just going to have to put up with me…

You should know the heat and humidity has been horrible, just a few minutes in on anything I try to do has me soaked with sweat down to my knees. One day I was soaked to my shoe tops. As a result of this hard labor I contracted a good case of heat exhaustion! Gee that was fun. Fatigue, light headedness, woozy, headaches, night sweats. For three days I was barely able to get around. That was tough. Good news is I have lost darn near 15 lbs. from all of this. All sweat and hard work. I’m back down to 201 from darn near 225. But had to pay a price to get there. The thing is I’m just that kind of guy. I see a job that needs doing I get in there and hammer down till the job gets done. A side effect of having been self employed for most of my years. That and seeing progress is somewhat addictive. I just can’t help myself. But I see now that I need to take it a little slower. And a little smarter. That bout of heat exhaustion was miserable, I’m only now getting over it, and do not want to experience that again.

So, during my time with my mistress, I mean boat, I found the first serious issue I did not see whan I bought it. In fact I even asked the seller “any issues with the through hull fittings leaking?” He told me no. He lied. A below the waterline through hull fitting (someone decided that for a live well system on a boat that through hull fittings were a great idea, I strongly disagree) for the live well system was bad. Very bad. The wood in the transom (back of the boat, very important) was rotted away for about three inches in every direction from the fitting. I found the stuff I need to fix it, 100 dollars worth of stuff, on the net. I have it on hand and am really looking forward to that job. Well, not really. The plus side is I got the boat and 2 motors on the cheap and know when I am done this thing will last me the rest of my days. So spending a little here and there doesn’t bother me too much. I knew what I was getting into🙂

I’ll try to get a few pics and put em up. Sadly I have not taken any before pics, so you just have to trust me when I tell ya it was pretty rough when I picked it up. It already looks much better, but a long way to go.

So that my friends is where I have been lately. Out in the ole shop, working and sweating, bleeding occaisionally, and mildly obsessed with getting this job done. I try to get around and see what y’all are up to, but my blog posting will likely continue to be light until I see this job done.



Well I have watched the RNC and the DNC, taken some time to digest it all and have come to some conclusions.

Donald Trump is a God! Apparently. He can do anything and everything he wants to do, just by saying he can. That’s pretty damn impressive. I have never in my life seen such a narcissist that uses the word “I” as much a Herr Trump.

The entire RNC was pretty much dedicated to the derision of Hillary, a lot of wishful thinking, and a flaming narcissist with a god complex. If anyone actually believes Adolph Trump would do anything except line his (and others like him) pockets, they need their heads examined. Therefore many people need their heads examined.

The DNC was more or less dedicated to personalizing Hillary. There were plenty of jabs at Drumpf but most were class acts compared to chants of “Lock her up” from the RNC.  I found the DNC was significantly better presented overall with a much better tone. I walked away from the DNC with an appreciation for what politics could be. I walked away from the RNC completely disgusted, angry at the lies and personal attacks, and a renewed galvinization of the understanding that the R party is no longer in touch with reality.

Is Hillary the perfect candidate? No. But with her public office record she may be the most over qualified candidate for the office of president I have ever seen. I would have liked for Bernie to come out on top though, as I feel his ideas for changing what is screwed up in this country are good ideas with a lot of potential for positive change. But here we are, with a choice between an extremely wealthy asshole who made his millions with carefully planned bankruptcies, stiffing those who he owed money (that weren’t eliminated in the bankruptcies), and setting up a fake university to con desperate people of their savings. Or we have Hillary, an imperfect candidate to be sure, but in the entire history of politics in this country I don’t believe the choice between two candidates that in their own ways leave much to be desired, can be more clear.

I have no choice but to vote Hillary Clinton. I really feel like anyone that is not an ignorant beer swilling racist redneck has any choice but to vote Hillary Clinton. Despite that assumption, I fear this election will be closer than any rational minded person will be comfortable with. With that in mind I have been asking people I know if they plan on voting. If they say no I encourage them to get out and vote. I don’t try to persuade anyone as to who they should vote for. I do try to emphasize the importance of voting in this election.

So, are you going to vote?




Are We Civilized?

In the course of a couple of days we have two dead for being black and 5 dead with many more wounded in Dallas.

We have Isis. We have North Korea. We have had Stalin, Hussein, Pol Pot, Genghis Khan, Hitler, too many more to mention. We have an entire history based upon war, violence, and mayhem. What are we really? We are supposed to be the smart ones. The tool users. With the brains to figure out how things work, how to improve our lives, how to fix things. Why can’t we fix ourselves?

I have often thought of civilization as a thin veneer. The icing on the cake if you will. That thin outer layer is our so called civil society. The cake underneath is all the rest. All of the bad things we don’t want to talk about or admit we have anything to do with. Our predudjices, our desires, our dislikes, our fears. Dig a little deeper and you will find our hate, bigotry, racism, and other nasties that some of us do work at trying to overcome. Dig deeper still and somewhere in all of that ugliness that is the human condition, and you will find the desire and the will to kill. What? You say you would never do such a thing?


We all have the capacity and the capability to kill. It is the motive that differs. The situation. The particulars. Prisons are full of people who killed solely because they thought they could get away with it. Think the Hatfields and the Mcoys, revenge and pride are good motives. How about self defense? Would you react in a violent manner to save your own skin, or that of a family member? I would. How about grandma waking up one day and deciding she has had enough of grandpas shit and she whacks him a hammer. It happens. We are human. We react in anger and that anger sometimes kills.

It kills innocent black men, it kills policemen, it kills families, it kills populations.

Now that we have faced up to our true nature, what do we do fix it? Is it even possible to fix an ingrained human condition? I doubt it honestly. If history has shown anything it is our quickness to anger and capacity to kill. We are little better than the animals on the savannah. Indeed that’s where we came from. But despite all of that, we have become civilized to a point. We have huge teeming cities, extensive trade networks, friends and allies all over the globe. We have our neighborhoods, families, and friends. We have people coming together trying to console and/or offer aid those who have lost friends and loved ones, or their homes in times of tragedy. We have so much working for us. But damn it all there are days I think the hoarders with their bunkers just might be the sane ones.

I have hope for humans and civilized society. But I really feel like I am a living part of our history, a continuation of the history behind us. A testament to our true nature that gets swept up under the rug. Underneath the icing.



So A Guy Walks Into Pet Store…

And finds a scaleless Bearded Dragon. He promptly buys the lucky lizard and has its genome sequenced. Guess what? The gene coding responsible for hair and feathers is the very same gene coding for scales.

This is big, because as many of us evilutionists know, the general pathway of evolution went from fish –> amphibian —> reptile and reptile branched off to birds/mammals. Finding that the same gene coding is responsible for scales —> hair —> feathers (generally speaking) is of course fantastic evidence for common descent. Which is the foundational premise of evolution in the first place.

Another hats off to science moment, and another nail in the dusty old coffin of creationism.

The story is better explained where I found it. @ Pandas Thumb.


Wildlife Safari

We gathered up supplies for a two week trip, loaded up the Land Rover, and headed…wait a minute we don’t have a Land Rover! We didn’t need any supplies either. I am a big fat liar.🙂 I have a glorified mud puddle out in the back yard, some might call it a pond. The pond lies around 35-40′ from the deck at the back of the house. We get migrating ducks from time to time, and other assorted critters through the year and a few days ago one of the boys spotted a Green Heron hanging around. I decided to see if I could capture a few photos.

So I did actually go through all the gathering up the pieces of my photo rig. Which consists of an Orion ED 80 apochromatic telescope, that gets used as a telephoto lens. A homemade bracket that holds the little 16 MP Sony camera in place, and an Orion 17mm Stratus eyepiece. With all of the parts situated this gear allows me to take afocal shots through the telescope. This can be a little tricky with all of the moving parts. You have to align the camera just so over the eyepiece, focus the telescope as best you can using the screen on the back of the camera, then click a button that times the shutter for 2 or 10 second pause after the shutter has been pushed, then you have to lightly push and hold the shutter button just a tad for the autofocus to adjust, then snap the shot. The delay allows any vibration to settle down, hopefully allowing for a better pic. The delay also allows for your target to move out of the shot, but you gotta do what ya gotta do.

No matter who you are or what your setup is the key I think to getting good photos is to take a gazillion pictures. Out of a gazillion pics there are bound to be a few that come out decent. So over the course of a couple of days I braved alligators, tigers, sharks, tiger sharks even, wait! No I’m dreaming again, all I did do was brave the extreme Tennessee humidity and hot hot summer temps, and took several shots of our Green Heron visitor, as well as a couple of more long term residents of the pond.

First up is a dragonfly I spotted. I thought what the heck let’s see if we can get it. It came out better than expected. Note many of the pics have been modified this time with a photo editor that exists in this Win 7 machine. I used an auto adjust feature that removes noise and adjusts for color/tint/contrast/exposure etc. And then fine tuned by my eye till the final result. Mr. dragonfly:


I really did not think the dragonfly would be that good, I know it’s far from a pro shot with a $10,000 rig, but I’m on a budget sub $500 rig (I got the telescope used for $300, retails for $500. The heavy duty Bogen tripod I have cost me $100 from E-Bay, the camera was given to me, and I built from scratch the camera holding device and the telescope alt/az mount.) and it is what it is.

Next up, while I was shooting the heron, I noticed a couple of snakes that had moved in without my knowledge, and thought it would be great if I could catch one, but they were always swimming by then moving out of sight. Frustrating. Then using a pair of binoculars and panning around I spotted a snake on a branch overhanging the water. Perfect!


And another:


Now for our Green Heron. I had several shots that came out pretty good, so you’re going to see a lot of heron.



This next one I was in a rush, there was a commotion and I suspected the heron had caught something, sure enough he did. However there is some vignetting (a fancy word for a light cut off in the optical path.) It is out of focus as well, but you can clearly see the S.O.B. has one of my minnows!


Guess what? More heron! I love the inverted reflection.


This last one may be the best shot I got.


That wraps it up for this safari. The trip home was a long arduous journey, I had to walk all the way from the deck back into the house🙂

We used to be able to adjust the photo size when we uploaded. Then when the photo was inserted into a post you were able to click to expand it. I can’t seem to find out how to accomplish that with the WP changes. If anyone knows the procedure please elaborate in the comments.