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

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

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.

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.


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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One Finger Per Fret System & When You SHOULDN’T Use It

(Originally posted on Mar 11, 2016 as /archives/10854)

Scott Devine from Scott’s Bass Lessons created a video lesson about why you shouldn’t always use one finger per fret. He gives us some advice on when to use it, and alternatives, for when you shouldn’t.

Here’s the video:

Here are my thoughts:

For myself, on a short scale bass, one finger per fret is fine.

There is an optimal amount of tension that the strings should have. If the neck is too short, then they will flop around when the bass is tuned correctly. Even with that in mind, the 34″ scale neck is longer than it needs to be.

I suspect that Leo Fender measured the scale length of a standup bass, and that was that. (Standup bass necks, and bass guitar necks, are the same length. The standup bass neck only looks larger, because it’s bridge is in the center of the body, and a bass guitar’s bridge is at the end.)

I had a professor that insisted that I push with the ends of my finger bones, use one finger per fret, and not slide my hand at all. He believed that this would help me avoid tendonitis. He was incorrect. My hand’s bones aren’t even long enough to do that at full stretch. A full scale bass isn’t a plastic-stringed classical guitar, and different techniques are needed. Which are discussed in Scott’s video above, and other videos by Scott.

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(Originally posted on 2009-07-20 as /archives/2464)


I wanted to have the same last name as my spouse and daughter, I have been called Paul since 1985, and Kay insisted that I have a middle name, so I changed my name from “William Paul Caligiuri” to “Paul Danger Kile”. As a bonus I no longer have to spell my last name over-and-over again. “Danger” is my  legal middle name as-of 2007-02-02.

I am not the only one. “Brian Danger r.” (not his real family name) left the following quote on the last version of this website: “I just legally changed my middle name to danger and was googling around to see if I could find others like me. I’m glad I’m not the only one!”

Here are some “danger is my middle name”, and similar, quotes

Books and Magazines

These are the earliest “Danger is my middle name” book quotes that we could find.


“The Cactus Wildcat, A One-act Rip-roaring Western Comedy for Children”, by James S. Wallerstein (published in 1954) says: “Danger is my middle name.” on page 22.


The Trumpet of the Swan by E B White (published in 1970) says: “Danger is my middle name.” on page 227.

These are the earlies “…is my middle name” book-and-magazine quotes that we could find.


Munsey’s magazine, Volume 18 (published in 1897) says “Deserving is my middle name” on page 64.


The Submarine Boys’ Trial Trip: Making Good as Young Experts, by Victor G. Durham (published in 1909): says: “Porpoise is my middle name…” on page 172.


Pearson’s Magazine, Volume 33 (published in 1925) says “Transportation is my middle name” on page 117, and “Wisdom Is Our Middle Name” on page 253.

Television and Movies

This is the earliest TV quote that I could find.


The Monkees Monstrous Monkee Mash (1968)
Micky: [speaking with a masculine voice] Well, don’t worry, my middle name is ‘Danger’.
Micky: [the Wolfman lets out a growl from behind the door] Aaah! Of course, my last name is ‘Chicken’.

Renaissance Poetry


The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser, Book IV, published in the 1500’s says, “His name was Daunger dreaded ouer all”.


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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.


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.


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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