Star Wars: Harmy’s Despecialized Editions Rock

(Originally posted on 2017-01-18.)

Summary

There are different routes to seeing the original Star Wars, but they each have their limitations. I am intrigued by Harmy’s Despecialized Editions for all the reasons listed in the documentary above. Here is a review, instructions, and comparisons.

Caveat Emptor

In principle, I agree that it is ethical to view these if you have actually purchased copies of the movies, however, what’s ethical, and what’s legal are not always the same thing. I have not assembled or viewed these videos, so I cannot review them at this time, but I will link to a review below.

Instructions

HanDuet’s The Ultimate Introductory Guide to Harmy’s Star Wars Trilogy Despecialized Editions is the best guide to getting access to these movies.

Here is the Star Wars Trilogy Despecialized Edition Facebook page.

Review

Comparisons

In cases where there was footage added, the editions that don’t have it will just show black, but just for this comparison, not in the movies:

Han Shot First

Cloud City Escape

The Emperor’s Message

The End

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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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Roland MT-32 Resources

How to install munt:

Other Related Synth Stuff

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Wild Animals and Rough Living in the North Country

(Originally published on 2016-03-29 as /archives/7136)

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The camera is level, but the house is falling into its cellar.

The Old Homestead

I used to live in the-middle-of-nowhere: no electricity, no running water, no phone, no mobile service, no sewer, etc. The house was built in the 1800s. We lived on the front porch, used unleaded-fuel in our Coleman lanterns, flushed the toilet by poring buckets-of-rainwater into the bowl, and showered on the back porch over a rattlesnake’s home. I showered fast.

I actually attempted to order phone service from the phone company. They told me that they would provide it, if I would pay them to install all of the telephone poles, from the closest street with phone service, to our house. Riiiight.

Some animals lived in the walls of the main house, we stayed on the porch, The critters in the walls of the main house were mostly mice, birds, and raccoons: although a black bear did hibernate in the basement the previous winter: Grizzly Trucking Adams.

Someone shot a raccoon near the house. It managed to climb into a second-story window, and drag its sorry-self all the way down to the first floor hallway with its intestines trailing behind. Where it died.

Our friends from college would spend the weekends out there at the house, and there was so-little light pollution, that we would lie on the cars and see man-made satellites with the naked eye.

What can I tell you about roughing it? Peanut butter does not need to be refrigerated.

Fun With Fuel

I would put our trash into a 55 gallon drum, and burn it to make it smaller (yeah, yeah, global warming). There was no trash collection service available. One time I was getting aggressive with the trash tamping, and there were some fuel-filled rags down low, and I was tamping some other trash on top and BOOOOOM! The damned-thing shot raining-fire all over the place! Like the Trash Cannon From Hell. Trash falling here: sidestep. Trash falling there: sidestep.

I had one coworker once, that misjudged the fuse-length on a home-made explosive that he and his buddy were shooting out of their cannon. They wanted it to explode in the sky. It blew a hole in the Post Office. The FBI came to visit, and it was a bad-scene all around.

…and the cow jumped over the fence

Heifer: a female bovine too-young to give birth.
Bullock: a male circumcised bovine, AKA, a steer.

We had heifers living on the land. Around half of the dairy farmers that visited said, “If one cow learns to jump the fence, then all the others will follow her,” and the others said, “Cows don’t jump fences.” I imagined the latter folks wasting a lot of time looking for holes in fences. The heifers at our house would jump, oh yes, and in the morning I would look out at the just-jumped bovines, and say, “Them’s some real heifers.” The heifer owning people? Their last name was – Remember the definitions up above? – Bullock.

Petting zoos

One night: SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” I say to L.: “You open the door, and wait behind it. I’ll hit that thing over the head with this log splitter.” SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” She opens the door, and there waits a pet racoon. It just kinda stands there for a minute, and then gets cosy in our bed. Great. OK. The racoon can stay for a little while: the alternative is door slamming, and racoon screaming. This did not last long. Raccoons like to rock-and-roll all night, and sleep every day, and you know what? I had a job to go-to.

There was only one solution; wrap “Rascal” in a blanket, and drive him far enough, that he can’t find his way back. I drove home imaging the little guy going to the very first door that he could find. SLAM!!! “WHEEEEEE! WHEEEE! WHEEEE!” BOOOM (shotgun blast)!: he then manages to climb into someone’s window, and drag his sorry-self all the way down to the first floor hallway with its intestines trailing behind him.

There goes the neighborhood

Let’s take a step back in this story. Our house had no neighbors since the beginning of time. What happens as soon as we move in? An 18-wheeler mother-trucking-flatbed pulls up with a huntin’ cabin on back, and drops said huntin’ cabin directly across the street, fucking-up my pristine view of our 100% Maple Syrup producing Maple trees. Why? Mr. Bullock got a two-for-one deal on used huntin’ cabins, and really only needed the one.

A few weeks later a family of three moves in. My new neighbor wants to provide for his family: in a place with zero jobs. So, he made a deal with Mr. Bullock: “I fix your fences. You let me live in your extra huntin’ cabin.”

Our neighbors also lacked the comforts-of-home. They did however have a Honda generator hooked-up to a TV.

So, the new neighbor tells me how racoon mommas yell bloody murder, but they won’t actually attack. He tells me how this momma racoon chose the huntin’ cabin for birthing her babies. So he removed each of the baby racoons one at a time, and then he removed the momma racoon, but he kept one baby there. This baby grew up to be Rascal. I believe that Rascal had a doggy-door that he, and the dog, could use to go in-and-out. He also had a buddy to play with: the dog.

We went camping for our summer vacation. The woman from across the street came to visit:
“Where did you go last week?”
“Camping.”
“Us too.”
“Our cabin had running water and electricity!”
“Us too.”

Momma neighbor gets sick of pretending that “our life is fun just like camping”, and says, “I am going to move in with my parents. You can stay, or you can come”, and that’s how Rascal ended up with no home.

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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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