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Wednesday, November 5, 2008
More Election Stuff

Just a few random notes on the election.

Stuart Smalley Al Franken probably narrowly lost to the incumbent Republican Senator in Minnesota. With 100% of precincts reporting (but not all absentee, provisional ballots counted), he’s losing by less than 500 votes out of over 2.5 million. There will be a recount.

Alaska somehow managed to re-elect a convicted felon. Again, there’s still counting to be done, but the Democratic challenger is down by 3500 votes out of only a little over 200,000. The votes required to win probably can’t find their way through the tubes. They’re clogged with enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material. They should have tried to use a big truck, instead.

My lunch plans yesterday had to be altered because of the election:


Fox News seems to not be trying to hide it anymore. Sure, if you read the smaller text, everything looks fine, but who does that? It sure looks like it’s intended to be misleading…

A World of Trouble

And lastly… didn’t know AFRICA WAS A CONTINENT? Strangely, also from Fox News…

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Posted by alan to politics at 8:26 pm PT | Link | Comments (1)
Yes We Did


I voted yesterday morning. For the first time in my life, my vote for President went to the guy who won was declared the winner. And this time, he won so overwhelmingly that it can’t be stolen from him. This is obviously a historic day, and a chance to get our country back on track. This election cycle was also the first time I ever donated to a political campaign, and the first time I ever voted in a primary.

The celebratory Red, White and Blue shot:

Red White and Blue

Republicans made a huge deal in 2004 about the fact that Bush got more votes (popular, not electoral) than any other Presidential candidate in history. They conveniently ignored the fact that the election had a huge turnout, and Kerry was second on that list. This time around, Barack Obama received more votes than any previous candidate. John McCain, though, looks like he will get fewer votes than Kerry did in 2004, in an election with a significantly higher turnout.

The news wasn’t all good for us bleeding-heart anti-American socialist liberals, though. It’s likely that three states (including California) have approved constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, and another passed a law banning gay couples from adopting children. Why must people always find someone to hate? Racism is no longer okay (not that it ever was), so they must move on to restrict the rights of some other group. It’s sad, and disgusting.

I took this picture at my polling place yesterday. I really just don’t understand.

Bumper Stickers

This country has come a long way, but we have a long way to go. I look forward to the day when all we have to fight over is what to name the atheist league

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Posted by alan to politics at 12:03 pm PT | Link | Comments (0)
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
VenusPuzzle.com Review

A few weeks ago, I was browsing around mpix.com while ordered a print there. I noticed another product they sell is puzzles. I considered ordering one there, but the biggest size they have is 12×18, 300 pieces, and if I was buying one, I’d want something bigger than that. It got started looking around the web at puzzle options.

I eventually settled on VenusPuzzle.com, and ordered their Puzzle 1000 from this picture: http://flickr.com/photos/penner42/2448579860/. It wasn’t cheap, at $73 shipped for an 18×28, 1000 piece puzzle, but it also wasn’t the most expensive option I looked at either. One place was twice as expensive. One of the main reasons I went with VenusPuzzle.com is that it was the only place that clearly stated aspect ratio for each size puzzle, and had the right ratio (1:1.5) for the size puzzle I wanted. It was also the only place I saw with good reviews at Reseller Ratings, though there were only four of them.

I placed my order on Thursday, 10/16, with their expedited shipping option. They’re in Slovakia, so it was already Friday morning for them. It shipped Monday, 10/20, and I had it Tuesday 10/28. I would have had it on Monday if I was home to sign for it, but instead I had to go pick it up at the post office. It wasn’t shipping a box like I was expecting, just a white bubble-wrap envelope, and with some extra cardboard around the puzzle box. I guess they know what they’re doing, because it arrived with no damage to the box.

The box itself was very nice, and also one of the reasons I ordered from there. Some of the other places also had similar boxes, but some did not. The only minor issue is the image for the puzzle is vertical, and printed horizontal on the side of the box. It’s really not a big deal, and if you use a horizontal image it’s no problem at all. The puzzle pieces come in a resealable plastic bag inside the box.

Puzzle Puzzle

The puzzle pieces look and feel just like pieces from any other puzzle you could go out and buy. They feel solid and well made, and the cuts are smooth. They fit together exactly as you’d expect from a puzzle. The colors are bright, and the photo is a high quality print.

Puzzle Puzzle Puzzle

Putting the whole thing together was a lot of fun. It took me somewhere around 20 hours to complete, and only a few times did I put pieces in the wrong place. Mostly it was in the solid blue area in the top right, and once the last few pieces didn’t fit, finding the ones that were in wrong didn’t take very long. VenusPuzzle.com is highly recommended, and I would order from them again. In fact, I’m already thinking about which picture to get if I order another puzzle. If I do, I’ll likely get one that’ll be harder to complete, and possibly take a lot longer than 20 hours: http://flickr.com/photos/penner42/2435040936/.

There are a few pictures of the puzzle in progress in the Flickr set.
The completed puzzle:


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Posted by alan to photography at 3:43 pm PT | Link | Comments (7)
Monday, November 3, 2008
Day 3

I woke up an hour early today, because my alarm clock was the only clock in the house I forgot to change back to standard time. It’s a good thing, too.

I apparently forgot to pay my water bill (the only one I still only get in the mail, not electronically… I wonder if there’s a connection there) for the past few months, and had a note on my door last week that I had to pay by noon today or it would be shut off. My plan was to go there on the way to work to take care of it.

As I was getting ready to leave, I got an IM saying, “if you havent left for work yet, don’t bother.” There was a gunman on a freeway overpass, and part of the 101 was shut down. Traffic was terrible on all the side roads. I’m sure, due to the situation, a phone call could have given me a few extra hours to pay the bill, but I got in my car and started driving there anyway. Google says it should be an 11 minute drive (and really, it’s not even that long), but it took over an hour this time. I made it with almost an hour to spare, though, and the situation on the overpass was resolved shortly before I got there.

So, water bill paid, and I made it to work not too much later than I normally would have.

Tomorrow is election day. If you haven’t already voted early, don’t forget to get out and do it. If you’re in California, vote No on 8.

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Posted by alan to [general, politics] at 11:58 am PT | Link | Comments (0)
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Day 2

I think the most likely reason for me to miss a day in NaBloPoMo is that I’ll just forget. If a few more hours had gone by today, I would have completely missed it. At the very least, this makes titling my posts a little easier. I probably won’t use this kind of title every day of the month, but when I can’t think of something, I have one to fall back on.

Yesterday, I went to a Halloween-themed board gaming party. I played Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and The Great Brain Robbery. The first and last were a lot of fun. Betrayal I had played once before, and it seemed to run into a similar problem as the first time. The way the game ended just didn’t seem right. The first time, there was absolutely no way for me to win. This time, it just seemed like everything happened too quickly once we entered the final stage.

I also watched 1960: The Making of the President being played. Not Halloween related, but still an appropriate one. Kennedy was leading for most of the game that I watched, but Nixon pulled it out at the end. Kennedy should have won 269-268, but ten unpledged electors in Louisiana voted for someone else. It looks like a fun game.

Today, I didn’t leave home. Ordered pizza, and sat at home working on my puzzle. I’ll probably post about that tomorrow.

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Posted by alan to board games at 8:59 pm PT | Link | Comments (0)
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Day 1

One day into NaBloPoMo, and I’m already feeling unmotivated about writing every day. I may have to make a minor change to the rules for myself and only commit to doing it Monday through Friday. Those days I sit at a computer at work all day, often with nothing to do. Not that I’m don’t sit at a computer most of the rest of the time, too, but…

Halloween was yesterday. In addition to the pumpkins that I already posted about, I actually had a costume for the first time since… I don’t even know when. It was a last minute thing, so I needed something easy, but I didn’t want to just go and buy a pre made costume. I decided on Frank West, from Dead Rising. Everything I needed was bought at either Costco or Kmart, or I already had it.

frankwestcostumeFrank West

The blood on the shirt isn’t great in this picture. I added more later. The whole thing was really just an excuse to carry around my camera and a baseball bat.

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Posted by alan to general at 3:36 pm PT | Link | Comments (1)
Friday, October 31, 2008

Sure, what the hell.

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Posted by alan to meta at 12:55 pm PT | Link | Comments (1)
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
…and for my next trick…

I had a lot of fun with the RRoD pumpkin, but as I said in that post I really wanted to make the middle green like it was supposed to be. Some empty Sprite bottles, a plastic cup, and some tape later… problem solved:
Red Ring of DeathRed Ring of Death
There’s some video of it blinking here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Rd8pvUZAfg.

Also, I wanted something vaguely scary/Halloween related, so I made one with a Gears of War logo. GoW2 next week!
Gears of War

I said I had big plans for another Halloween pumpkin, and those weren’t it. I now present the Rick-ro-lantern. Hm, I may need to work on that name.

Video was shot with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX37.

I initially wanted to have the whole thing self-contained, but didn’t come up with the idea in time to do that by Halloween. Instead, I decided to put it in front of the window, with a speaker and webcam inside. I used Motion to detect movement with the camera, and then start the song playing. The camera didn’t see anything at all at night (even with the outdoor light on), so I went with the light you can see at the beginning of the video. It’s the only thing the camera can see, so when someone walks between it and the camera, the software sees it as movement.

My carving skills are fairly lacking, but it came out well enough, I guess. Need practice.

Here’s some more pictures of the process and setup:
Rick RollRick RollRick Roll

You can see all the pictures, with a little bit of explanation on some of them, in the flickr set: http://flickr.com/photos/penner42/sets/72157608232548269/.

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Posted by alan to [geek, video games] at 10:49 pm PT | Link | Comments (0)
it’s the economy, stupid

It’s almost election day. Most people in this country tend to vote for their wallets. Personally, I think there are more important things to base the decision on, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority there. Regardless, a lot of people who are going to vote for McCain are going to do it because “OMG Obama will tax me more!” That’s very likely not true, unless you’re in the top 2% of the country in income, or so. And if you are, shut the fuck up, no one wants to hear you complain. Check out http://www.electiontaxes.com to see an estimate of what your taxes will actually be like under their proposed plans. Note: It’s likely neither candidate will implement these plans exactly as President, but there’s only so much you can do to try to figure it out.

I took one economics class in college, and don’t remember most of it. I’m clearly not qualified to figure out which tax plan, or what method in general, would be appropriate for a strong economy. You know who just might be, though? Economists. From the Wikipedia link:

A study in the Southern Economic Journal found that “71 percent of American economists believe the distribution of income in the US should be more equal, and 81 percent feel that the redistribution of income is a legitimate role for government.” In terms of political orientation 63% identified as progressive and less than 20% as conservative/libertarian. with registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans 2.5:1.

Now, I know many Republicans want to elect “regular folk” who are “just like they are” (note: John McCain owns 7 or 8 houses, Sarah Palin just spent $150k on clothes and makeup [funded by your campaign donations, and then being given to charity… spread the wealth!]), but I personally prefer to look to people who are smarter and more qualified than I am to make these sorts of decisions. And if 63% of economists support a progressive tax policy, who am I to argue?

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Posted by alan to politics at 4:05 pm PT | Link | Comments (5)
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Change We Can Believe In!

Change We Can Believe In!

Because I was bored.

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Posted by alan to politics at 11:10 am PT | Link | Comments (2)
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