I adopted Gershwin!

(Originally posted for date 2007-11-30 as /archives/124)
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I adopted my wonderful daughter Gershwin Rose Santo Kile (f/k/a Malahat Huseynova) on 2007-11-30.  Kay had adopted her from an Azerbaijani (Azeri) orphanage five years ago.  I would have legally remained Gershwin’s stepfather without this adoption. Our judge was Judge Frank J. Yeoman Junior.

I couldn’t adopt Gershwin when Kay and I married.  I had to wait a year (that’s Kansas Law), even though:

  1. There is no “real” father (Gershwin was abandoned).
  2. Kay was single when she adopted Gershwin, so there wasn’t even a “real” stepfather.

Ironically, the Azerbaijani bureaucracy demanded that a father’s name be put on the birth certificate, even though their government provided the proof that there was no father.  In the eyes of these post-Soviet bureaucrats — this isn’t lying — it’s filling out the form correctly.  Kay put “Santo Kile” in the blank.  I would have been tempted to write “Not Applicable”, because the clerks didn’t read English anyway.

In any case, Gershwin’s middle names became “Rose Santo”, and her last name became “Kile”, when Kay’s adoption was complete.

Thank you, attorney Kevin Cook!

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The Real "An Inconvenient Truth"

(The top part was originally posted on Dec 21, 2007 as /archives/131, and the lower part was originally posted on Jan 7, 2009 as /archives/1939)

 

I don’t know how many times I see green=biodiesel. No it does not. Perfect combustion produces C02 and H2O. Bio diesel is very inefficient, but even at its most efficient, it would be adding more CO2.

CO2 is required by the photosynthesis process. Breathing and burning put more CO2 in the air, plants take the carbon out of the air, and return the Oxygen to the air. Burning is done to provide things to animals. Both processes that add CO2 (burning and breathing) are done by, and for, animals. The only natural process that removes carbon is done by plants (animals get the carbon by eating the plants). If you assume that global warming is real, then the only logical conclusion is too many animals, not enough plants.

The real cause of rising CO2 levels?  Population growth.  Not even Al Gore is willing to talk about that, but that’s what it is.  Al Gore showed us those sharply-rising graphs in An Inconvenient Truth, he even showed the corresponding population growth graph, but he didn’t suggest that we lower the population.

We need less people:

  • Let’s say you lower your CO2 production by 50%, but you also have children, (“All right: you lower your CO2 production by 50%, but you also have children.”) and your children have children, and so on.  So, you divided your CO2 production in half but you potentially are responsible for creating 100 times (or… pick a number) that amount of CO2, because you created descendants, that created descendants, and so on, and they all use energy.
  • Why aren’t folks talking about this?  …because it means telling people not to have babies, and people will not stop having babies.
  • Read Maybe One.

Plants breath CO2: yes, that “evil” carbon footprint is potentially good for plants. The natural carbon-sequestration solution isn’t all of this sci-fi, it is more plants, but more plants means less room for other things that people want.   Raising livestock uses more energy than raising plant-produce.  If we raise less livestock and more plant-produce, then the plants will be sequestering CO2, and less energy will be wasted creating food.

I love electric cars, and I would really like an electric motorcycle. I have been replacing our crazy Lutron switches (these things give new meaning to the words “poor user interface“) with ones that are compatible with CFLs, and using the CFLs.  I would rather get electricity from wind, solar, and hydro.

Carbon dioxide is not toxic though.  It’s a natural part of our world that is absolutely essential for life on earth. No CO2 means no plants.  No plants means we all die.  Admittedly too much of anything can be bad for you, but I don’t want to hear about my “carbon footprint” from people that aren’t willing to do what’s necessary to change their own.


 

Many people think that ethanol is OK, because the CO2 that gets put back into the atmosphere was removed from the atmosphere, so there is no net gain, but that is true for ALL fuels.  ALL CO2 came from the atmosphere.  Besides, it takes more than one gallon of oil to create the nitrogen based fertilizer needed to create less than one gallon of ethanol, let alone the energy used to transport it, process it, etc.   …and ethanol has a lower energy content than gasoline.

I love properly designed electric vehicles.  Powerful electric motors move diesel trains, so they can sure move an automobile, or a motorcycle, but electric vehicles are still much more expensive than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Who killed the electric car? You don’t need a movie to answer that question. The batteries would have cost more than a new car to replace, yet needed to be replaced too often. Did the movie mention that? No? (I actually got to see GM’s electric car, the EV1,  before it was unveiled. I worked at the GM Powertrain Engineering Center in Warren MI.)

I like wind farms, and solar, and geothermal, but technology is not enough.

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Okie Noodling

(This was originally posted on 2008-01-07 as /archives/143)

Noodling is a traditional form of fishing where the fisher uses his own arm as bait, and risks being wounded, or risks being sucked down by the massive fish.  The movie (Okie Noodling) is fun.  I have a copy. I bought it on a hunch, because I dig The Flaming Lips (soundtrack), and I dig fish.

The practice is controversial, because the fish are pregnant females, so overfishing is risky to catfish populations.  Proud noodlers believe that their techniques are fair, and safe, and say “that’s not noodling” about other folks’ techniques.  The movie doesn’t really explain this, which is unfortunate.

Jeremy Bennett and his friends actually were noodling during the movie’s tournament, and that they actually caught the largest cat, but instead of entering their fish they had more beer, or something.  Yes, that tournament win would have gotten them into the movie, and like everyone in that movie, Jeremy would have said, “that’s not noodling”, but these guys don’t brag about getting the largest catfish, they just eat it.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Talking about Noodling forced me to find an old picture from the very first noodling contest held at Pauls Valley. The pic is in terrible shape; i had to scan it in and then play with colors just so you can view it. These guys were your real winners. Erick Strickland on the left (RIP friend) was the best noodler to ever walk the banks of the soggy Oklahoma rivers. Micheal Martin in the Middle is a [deleted] and a good noodler when he’s not scared. I don’t know the other guy in the picture. The one man missing from this picture is Kieth Lamb, and he is the only person that could ever go 1-on-1 with Erick in technique, finding fish….doing it all. These 2 individuals were the best……….They were your true but not technical winners that day from the okie noodlin video. The fish on the right bumps the scales at about 68 pounds, with the other 2 in the lower 60s. that’s 180 pounds of fish that would have smashed both the biggest stringer and largest single fish weighed in that day, into oblivion ——- Long story short —–these guys were about an hour late to the weigh in. (not to bad considering that the contest lasts for 24 straight hours)

And one more thing, Erick and Keith Noodled the correct way. (There is a correct way to do it). They taught me the correct way. No gloves, sleeves, shirts, hooks, stringers, shoes. Just you, the fish, and the fish’s hole or crevice that it decided to be in that day. You take your blood, cuts, breaks, and scars with the sport. No complainers.

One thing I learned is that beer helped me become a better noodler. It seemed to provide a bit of lubrication between the utter fear of inserting my arm under a rock and waiting for it to get bit – akin to the feeling you get by slamming your hand or forearm in a car door (repeatedly).

Above all……the caught fish get cleaned, and then eventually eaten. very, very little waste. – Jeremy Bennett

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Ballooning with National Champion Pat Cannon

(Originally posted on 2012-02-24 as /archives/7634)

I rode with pilot Pat Cannon during part of the 2001 Highland Village Balloon Festival. Mr. Cannon won the Balloon Federation of America National Championship a number of times, so this was an incredible opportunity to see just how precise balloon piloting can be.

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The challenge was to fly a minimum distance, and put a bean bag on a target.

We met at the event’s location for the pre-flight pilot meeting. Balloons are best-piloted during early morning or early evening (the Trey Ratcliff hours), so this was very early in the day.

We participated in the First Flight Ceremony. In my case this involved the pilot saying some words, and pouring champagne on my hair, but I observed other folks participating in another “secret version”. 1%-ers have nothing on balloonists.

We drove to the location, unfolded the balloon, and filled it with hot air (see image above). A number of other pilots followed our chase vehicle, and began their flights from nearby (see image below), but there was nothing special about that location piloting-accuracy-wise. Mr. Cannon chose that location because that’s where he wanted to land at the end of the event. The location chosen was a new development that was under-construction. The roads where there, and were free of debris, but construction had not yet begun on any of the homes. We used one of the roads like a heliport.

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Before preparing to take off, he launched a small black helium balloon called a pie-ball (short for pilot-balloon). He used a sextant to follow the pie-ball, and estimated the wind’s speed and direction at various altitudes.

The pilot steers the balloon by choosing a direction, and then going to the altitude who’s wind is blowing in that direction. The balloon requires a certain amount of time to get to any chosen altitude, so the pilot needs to plan for that, and the intervening wind vectors, at each step.

Before leaving the pilot told me that we were going to:

  1. Fly over Lake Lewisville
  2. Make a 90-degree direction-change over the lake
  3. Fly to the target, which was here, and then
  4. Fly back to our starting place.

That’s exactly what he did:

  1. We flew a right-triangle
  2. Mr. Pat Cannon tossed his bean bag within 2-feet of the target’s center and then
  3. We then returned to the chase vehicle. No chasing required.

My legs were shaking during the first half of the trip. I have a fear of heights. Motorcycle riding in bad weather has helped me cure much of that since then.

One amazing thing about ballooning is that you can hear everything on the ground. Your vehicle is travelling at exactly the speed of the wind. Sound is as clear as if their were no wind at all.

People run out of their houses to see the balloon. This is early morning, so they are half-dressed. They notice that the pilot can see them in their nightwear and then run back into their houses.

Boaters were also on the lake to see the balloons. Pat Cannon brought his basket down to visit some boaters. He was able to have the bottom of the basket skim the water, but our feet never got wet, and I never saw any water on the basket floor. Another balloonist attempted to do that too, and his basket immediately laid-down on its side in the water; he, and his passengers got wet.

Are angry landowners a risk when landing? Yes. Pat Cannon told me about a landowner that started shooting his balloon as he flew over the shooter’s property. He was not even trying to land there. Mr. Cannon was well-prepared with the two-way radios that pilot’s use, a GPS, and even a mobile phone. The shooter was surprised when the police arrived at the scene. (Robert Munafo told me that people like to shoot trains too.)

Pilot Pat Cannon is an extremely skilled pilot. He has most of the existing pilot endorsements. He flew helicopters for the US Army during the Vietnam War. He is a FAA safety examiner, and he regularly flies Mitsubishi MU-2s for Turbine Aircraft Services, Inc. where he is a Principal.

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“The Dress” (The Only 100% Accurate Explanation)

(Originally written in February of 2015 as /archives/date/2015/02)

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The original image.

Would black look gold without an optical illusion?

Some are saying that it’s a color constancy illusion. I will attempt to prove that’s not the case.

Bleached-blue could look white, and bleached-black could look golden-brown.

Each pixel may have a different color, but Photoshop’s color picker can do a 51 x 51 pixel average for us to get a more accurate estimate. In this version of the image, the golden section of the darker-colored stripes’ RGB values are:

  • Red: 121
  • Green: 106
  • Blue: 71

These values are like “shadow”, which is a golden brown. If our perception matches the actual technical colors, then we are not dealing with an optical illusion.

Why are the colors wrong?

Here is where the real problem lies:

Most people say that it’s white and gold.

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The original image.

On Buzzfeed 68% say “white and gold”, and 32% say “black and blue”.

Color Calibration?

Monitors are not color calibrated from the factory, so many people are not seeing accurate color.

Was the image white balanced?

We would hope to find white balance information in the image’s EXIF, but it’s not there. So how do we white balance this image? The dress in the background looks white and black. I loaded the image up in Lightroom, and used that assumption to white balance it. If you would like to try this out yourself, here’s how to do it. The black I used is in the lower left corner. We can all agree-that that’s supposed be black: correct? 🙂

With the white balance "fixed".
With the white balance “fixed”.

Is the image accurately toned?

Lightroom shows us that we might have blown out colors. How do we know that this is real clipping, instead of a false positive? The light has softened the edges of the dress so much that it looks foggy in there. So, yes, this a blown out image. If we were there, then we would have a well-exposed the image, but we weren’t, so we are going to adjust tone to even out the histogram.

With the tone "fixed".
With the tone “fixed”.

So what is our best guess for the color? Black and Blue

Each pixel may have a different color, but Photoshop’s color picker can do a 51 x 51 pixel average for us to get a more accurate estimate.

The lighter colored stripes have a lot of blue:

  • Red: 8
  • Green: 77
  • Blue: 206

In other words: blue.

The darker colored stripes RGB values are close to zero:

  • Red: 1
  • Green: 8
  • Blue: 49

In other words: black.

Conclusion

A skilled photographer would could set its white balance and its tone. Once we do that, it’s blue and black. Here’s the final word:

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Scott Kelby: Two Lights, One White Background

(Originally published on 2016-03-28 as /archives/10922)

Scott Kelby made this video for Westcott, but it’s good information for everyone.

The next step would be to consider adding weak lights behind the subject: either to light-up the background, or to highlight the subject’s hair. A third light isn’t needed here, because the white backdrop reflects so much light.

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World’s Craziest Photoshop Tutorial?

(Originally posted on 2015-02-16 as /archives/10105)

 

Photofocus claims that Fafa’s Photoshop Tutorial with Glove and Boots is the World’s Craziest Photoshop Tutorial. Maybe. You can see it here:

I say, “Nay. The You Suck at Photoshop series is the actual World’s Craziest Photoshop Tutorial.” Warning: it’s not as family friendly as Glove and Boots. It’s NSFW, and all-that that implies. Here’s the first video in the series:

As I get better at Photoshop, I always go back to the You Suck at Photoshop series, to get a better perspective on how I have improved.

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