Happy Halloween 2012!

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

A little chilly here on the east coast, and we’re Sandy weary for sure, although fortunately not as bad as was forecast.  Ergo, not much trick-or-treatin’ so far.  It’s early however, and low volume means more candy for us!  In any event, Happy Halloween everyone, and here is our Pumpkin-Fu for this year.

“Alienation” by Jenny:

And “Dr. Teeth” by Jared:

Categories: Halloween Tags: , ,

Sandy Schmandy

October 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Here’s Hurricane Isabel as seen from our front porch, September 23, 2003

Categories: Weather Tags: , , ,

Obamacare and Video Games

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

To my readers, although I lean right, I’m impressed NOT with our Congress as a whole, and neither President Obama nor Governor Romney are really lighting any fires winning my meager vote of one.  That said, I appreciate the fact you can actually get to things like the Affordable Care Act online these days (over on the appropriately named healthcare.gov domain) as it certainly makes it easy for you to do your own research.  For a last bit of disclaimernessness — I’m a very active person.  I love golf, basketball, soccer, football, walking, working outside, playing with the dog — in general, being as far away from a keyboard and monitor as possible.  As a professional software developer, if I’m not “typing”, I’m not working.  It puts a premium on being active, big time.  I also love my video games — enough to want to write my own — and will play them until the day I die.

So what’s Obamacare got to do with Video Games?  As an aspiring Indie Game Developer I was hoping very little, but found a simple “video games” search of the ACA document proved otherwise:

That excerpt is taken from the certified, passed version of the law.  I welcome comments on the the documented link of video gaming and obesity and inactivity, and I do understand the stereotyping, but aspiring Wii, Microsoft Kinect, or Playstation Move developers are out of luck here.  Wii Fit is almost a contradiction in terms!  I see plenty of mention about tobacco and alcohol, but none with such a direct reference to obesity and inactivity?  What about people who make “games” for use in gyms on stair climbers or stationary bikes?  Why is it called a beer belly and not a Nintendo belly?

For reference, this Federal Prohibition falls in the legislation hierarchy is here

Title IV – PREVENTION OF CHRONIC DISEASE AND IMPROVING PUBLIC HEALTH
Subtitle C – Creating Healthier Communities
Sec. 4201 – Community Transformation Grants

So if your community is in dire need of a Transformation Grant, the prohibition states is that in order to be eligible for said competitive grant, a video game must not be a part of your attempt at any manner of physical or emotional improvement to the world.  I wonder how the larger US game studios fit into this mold.  They are mandated to pay fines or provide healthcare to their employees, encouraged to implement wellness programs, and in the same stroke are called out in the law as being the manufacturers of the very problems that this legislation intends to prevent!

In reality, the story is _someone_ in Congress had the “video game axe” to grind and went ahead and wrote (slipped in?) that one single short paragraph and our President signed it into law.  What we all need to be concerned about is how long it will be before “other activities” are as individually defined.  It is clearly stated here that video games make you both obese and inactive.  What’s next on the list?

Alien vs Predator

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment

I avoid the heavy animated GIF action — it really slows down the web experience.  That said, there a few that really stand out to me and are deserving of a redux:

Categories: Animated GIF Tags: , ,

Things I See

October 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the summer I took this photo of a Black Swallowtail caterpillar making its way through my wife’s garden, and remember at the time not deriving anything remarkable from the image save for the interesting interplay of light and shadow on the insect’s body.

It wasn’t until I imported the photo onto my laptop and viewed it on a larger monitor that my mind starting wandering down strange visualization pathways as I considered how a predator might view the lumbering larva’s skin patterns.

Don’t ask me why, I’ve always had the penchant to “see” things as a matter of abstraction, but with slow moving insects, the body coloration falls generally into one of a few categories:

  • Look gaudy, but taste horrible
  • Blend in perfectly to the environment to appear invisible
  • Appear to have scary eyes and teeth
  • Have bold looking eyes in a non-critical body area, to deceive where a predator strikes

I maintain that the Black Swallowtail larva demonstrates the third, and appears scary to rear-facing predators.  Typically that follows a pattern of spots = eyes; so my first be-a-predator-for-a-minute suspension-of-reality had me focus on the small yellow dots as eyes.  What appears??  Orco!  The loveable little floating guy from the He-Man cartoon series.  Hit reset on the visualization, look away and think black spots are eyes, look back and….Ernest Hemingway???

Neither Orco nor Ernest are very intimidating (to me at least) but when I backed my visualization out a “segment” and reverted to yellow as the eye color, I could see a definite visage that reminded me of either a deep sea Viperfish or perhaps a Moray Eel:

Now THAT looks scary.  It really is amazing what nature can offer the eye, even from a simple, plodding insect making its way along a plant stalk.  It won’t be long before the leaf munching gives way to a blur of color in a flighty dance.  But even then, when the matured Black Swallowtail is still, “eyes” and a deceiving illusion appears.  See the cartoon red eyes and blue eyebrows on the wings below?  That’s where a predator would likely strike — and only get a mouthful of wing scales instead of the nourishing body it would be expecting.

To me, it now looks like a big Galaga bug 🙂

Morning Magic

October 7, 2012 2 comments

There’s something special about playing a golf course for the first time – in the early morning – that really sets the experience apart from playing any time later in the day, regardless of how accomplished you are as a player.  Golf’s unique social aspect is at its quietest, with the Pro Shop staff and Superintendent’s crew being the only folks there until other early-minded golfers arrive.  Much like how fishermen enjoy the activity brought by a changing tide, I enjoy the “awakening” of a course as the nocturnal wildlife recedes into the shadows and the early birdsong is the only sound echoing through the silence.

Daybreak

That’s how the morning turned out for me here at Hanover Country Club, a private facility outside of Ashland, Virginia.  As an employee of the managing entity Billy Casper Golf, I was fortunate enough to get to play here last Friday.  The dew was heavy, to the point of looking like frost for a moment as the sun rose on the range and putting green when I took this photo. I’m more serious about my golf than I am about any aspirations of professional photography, but even with an iPhone all you really need is an eye for composition and a little luck with the lighting. The best photos I’ve taken are the ones like the putting green; they require no adjustment or hokey embellishments in an image editor.

But back to golf, Friday was just a beautiful day for golfing. Seventy degrees by mid-morning, and not a breath of wind. Along with appreciating the wakening wildlife, playing morning golf also allows the course to “reveal” itself over the first nine holes. Until the sun is fully above the treeline you really don’t know what color the grasses are or the variety of trees lining the fairways – although they are all around you and under your feet from the first tee. Dark green and golden tones of dawn gave way by the fourth hole to this Virginia early fall splendor:

Virginia Golf

I hit my drive about 260 yards off the tee in a low trajectory shot that landed smack in the middle of the fairway at the extreme right of the photo. Being a down-home Farmville, Virginia boy, I took a special delight in how the horse track in the distance reminded me of my childhood. That’s another post entirely, but perhaps it was the relaxation I needed to slow down and take a nice, easy pass at the ball.No Fear on Number Nine

Speaking of relaxing, by the time you get to number nine shown to the right, you better be in the groove and ready to pound it straight! This is a serious gun-barrel shot from the back tees, and a very intimidating drive that helps put his hole at #5 on the handicap rating.

The flock of geese dead-center over the fairway was a lucky touch 🙂 but with NO mulligan I absolutely crushed it. We were hitting two tees up from the whites, but my ball landed beyond the shadow visible in the dogleg. By the scorecard, that was a 320 yard poke, not bad for an amateur, but also a factor of the extreme elevation drop [remains humble].

Either way the ball hung in the air a long, lonnnnnng time and was just a dream drive straight down this canyon of a golf hole.

With a drop in elevation like this, you might expect water hazards to start appearing.  Here at Hanover that’s just what happens on #13, where the fairway is bordered on the right its entire length the murmuring South Anna River.  With just enough current and rock structure to produce a constant water sound, the ambiance is nothing short of soothing as you tee off.  How can you not hit it well all relaxed like this! I hit a three iron to the center of the fairway, and made a point to snap a few shots of the South Anna before the course took us back towards the clubhouse.

Listen to Me

So those were the highlights of my round, which was a non-spectacular 93 I admit. Total score, however, is but one facet of the game of golf. Wildlife, the golden solace of daybreak, memory-invoking vistas, calming rivers and CRUSHED DRIVES are a few of the others, and why I will always love chasing (and losing) expensive little white balls in this countryside.

Categories: Golf

Weather by Snoop

September 27, 2012 1 comment

Random silly stuff as I roll into a birthday weekend. The date on this from my archive is 2005, and well before the advent of Snoop Lion.

SnoopWeather

Too humorous not to archive, and also seed a dedicated Weather page here on the site.  I love me some weatherness!

Categories: Funny, Weather