I went into work early this morning so I could do some eBay photography for my chemistry stuff. Just had time to set up the strobes, camera and notebook and it was time to open up the shop. I'll be heading in early tomorrow to start taking photos.

Been using a really nice piece of software for running my cameras - ControlMyNikon - plug a USB cable into your camera body, fire up the software and you have complete control over focus and exposure. There are also some great scripts for doing HDR, time-lapse, burst, focus stacking. The whole nine yards. Russ recently did a major upgrade to version 5 and the feature set is amazing.  If you shoot Nikon cameras and use a computer, you should check out tethering and especially ControlMyNikon software. He also has a version for Canon cameras as well as an app for shooting videos with a Nikon but have not checked those out.

I have been doing a lot of time-lapse photography and this is what made ControlMyNikon stand out from the other apps out there.

A bonus for the eBay photography - C.M.N. Pro supports barcodes so I can generate a barcode for each item being sold and print it out. I can then scan it before taking the photo and the item number is saved in the picture file's metadata making it very easy to keep the right picture associated with the right item. Very powerful and very cool...

Bring out your dead...

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From the UK Guardian:

Chinese city sealed off after bubonic plague death
A Chinese city has been sealed off and 151 people have been placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said.

The 30,000 residents of Yumen, in the north-western province of Gansu, are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on the perimeter of the city are telling motorists to find alternative routes, China Central Television (CCTV) said.

A 38-year-old man died last Wednesday, the report said, after he had been in contact with a dead marmot, a small furry animal related to the squirrel. No further plague cases have been reported.

CCTV said officials were not allowing anyone to leave. The China Daily newspaper said four quarantine sectors had been set up in the city.

"The city has enough rice, flour and oil to supply all its residents for up to one month," CCTV added. "Local residents and those in quarantine are all in stable condition." No further  cases have been reported.

Strikes me as a bit strange for them to be quarantining the entire city because of one fatality.

Talk about being a braying ninny

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Wrong on so many counts - from The Washington Post:

Robert Kennedy Jr.’s belief in autism-vaccine connection, and its political peril
Sen. Barbara Mikulski listened impassively as Robert Kennedy Jr. made his case. He had to talk over the din in the marbled hallway just outside the Senate chambers, where he was huddled with Mikulski, two of her aides and three allies of his who had come to Washington for this April meeting.

Kennedy, a longtime environmental activist and an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, had thought Mikulski would be receptive to an issue that has consumed him for a decade, even as friends and associates have told him repeatedly that it’s a lost cause. But she grew visibly impatient the longer he talked.

A mercury-containing preservative known as thimerosal, once used widely in childhood vaccines, is associated with an array of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism, Kennedy told her, summarizing a body of scientific research he and a team of investigators had assembled. Thimerosal, which is an antifungal and antiseptic agent, was taken out of those vaccines in 2001, but it is still used in some flu vaccines. If it was dangerous enough to be removed from pediatric vaccines, Kennedy contended, why was it safe at all? What’s more, he said, the federal government knew of the dangers all along. These were claims he had made in the past, both publicly and in private conversations with other Democrats in Congress, none of whom have taken him seriously.

The Maryland Democrat turned from Kennedy without a word. “I want to hear what you have to say,” Mikulski said, looking up at the lean man standing next to her. Mark Hyman, a physician and best-selling author, is Kennedy’s chief collaborator on a then-unpublished book titled “Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak,” which is scheduled to come out next week. The book argues that ethylmercury — a component of thimerosal — is harmful to human health. (Not so in trace amounts, scientific authorities have concluded.)

The only Doctor who published (February 28, 1998) the supposed link between Thimerosol used a sample size of eight children. He is no longer a Doctor because he had is license yanked in May 2010 because of fraud. More here, here and here. Kennedy's staff must have brought this to his attention and for him to keep flogging this very dead horse is unreal.

Great to see him getting the cold shoulder. This is delightful:

Mikulski didn’t react, except to suggest they contact Sen. Bernie Sanders, who “cares about brain health” and oversees a related subcommittee.

As the meeting broke up, Mikulski’s brusque disposition toward Kennedy softened. “We miss your uncle here every day,” she said, referring to Sen. Edward Kennedy, a tenacious public health advocate during his long Senate career. He died of cancer in 2009.

Bernie Sanders is a swivel-headed loon. Birds of a feather... The article is a long one and details Kennedy's slide into A.F.D.B. land.

Patriotism and engineering

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What's not to love:

The flag is 60' by 120' and weighs 350 pounds.

Obamacare on the rails

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Great news - the law overstepped Constitutional bounds and is being killed in the courts. From FOX News:

ObamaCare in death spiral after federal appeals court strikes down some subsidies
Tuesday, a federal appeals court slapped down the Obama administration in a 2-1 ruling that could kill the president’s signature health care law. If upheld by the Supreme Court, the ruling would force Congress back to the drawing boards to design a health law that is actually affordable, rather than bearing the false title “Affordable Care Act.”

The ruling in Halbig v. Burwell bars the federal government from handing out taxpayer-funded subsidies to people who buy ObamaCare plans in nearly two-thirds of the states. Those subsidies took the sting out of being forced to buy pricey ObamaCare plans. If the ruling sticks, buyers in those states will have to pay full price, on average a whopping four times the subsidized price they paid this year.

Quadrupling the price would likely trigger a mass exodus out of the plans,causing what the insurance industry calls a “death spiral.”

The ruling by the influential appeals court for the District of Columbia also chastised the Obama administration for rewriting the law to suit its own ends. 

Halbig is the latest in a series of warnings from federal judges that in America, the rule of law is king, not Mr. Obama.

Excellent comment - the rule of law is king, not Mr. Obama

It is going to take the United States at least fifteen years to undo all of Mr. Obama's machinations.

A curious transaction

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From the Los Angeles Times:

Are the Obamas buying a home in Rancho Mirage?
President Obama and his wife, Michelle, could be the owners of a home in Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million before the month is out.

The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates.

The White House said rumors regarding a home in Rancho Mirage are not true.

But area real estate agents, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Obamas are the buyers of the Rancho Mirage home. Listing agents Marc Lange and Carl Blea of HOM Sotheby’s International declined to comment.


Speculation about a potential purchase started when the Obamas spent a long Father’s Day weekend there. President Obama was also in Rancho Mirage mixing business and golf earlier in the year, reported the Desert Sun, playing at Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s private course at the Porcupine Creek estate and at Sunnylands.

The 8,232-square-foot compound in question sits adjacent to a bighorn sheep preserve on a 3.29-acre hilltop with panoramic views.

Curious - wonder what happened to the house that was bought for them in Hawaii?

More here, here, here and here - follow the money...

From the United States Food and Drug Administration:

FDA Consumer Advice on Powdered Pure Caffeine
The FDA is warning about powdered pure caffeine being marketed directly to consumers, and recommends avoiding these products.  In particular, FDA is concerned about powdered pure caffeine sold in bulk bags over the internet.

The FDA is aware of at least one death of a teenager who used these products.

These products are essentially 100 percent caffeine. A single teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee.

Pure caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts may cause accidental overdose. Parents should be aware that these products may be attractive to young people.

Symptoms of caffeine overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. Vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation are also symptoms of caffeine toxicity. These symptoms are likely to be much more severe than those resulting from drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages.

I could not imagine anyone willingly putting this into their bodies. Yes, I drink coffee and love that caffeine buzz (and get headaches when in withdrawal) but to seek out 100% pure is just unreal.

As Paracelsus said: Sola dosis facit venenum

Slept in a bit more than I wanted to so didn't get on the road until 10:30AM. The stores really fill up so it slows down the entire day - I go to about ten different places to shop and pick up standing orders.

Had a couple extra-curricular errands too - the always amazing Hardware Sales for some stuff for the shop and back to the auction site to pick up the last item - didn't have room for it Thursday. Picked up a yard of black velvet for a photo backdrop - I will need to take good photos of the the laboratory glassware that I bought at the university auction. A great photo makes a lot of difference on eBay.

Time to fix dinner and then surf for a bit.  Our hearts and prayers are going out to Israel as they do battle against the dark forces of Islamofascism.

We are just digging out from under the Oso mudslide and now this.

From their webpage at Vimeo:


Carlton Pateros Brewster Fire Devastation 2014 from Chelan HD Productions on Vimeo.

If you go to the Vimeo website and look under the video to the right, there is a blue button titled "Tip this video"

100% of your contribution will go to local relief efforts.

How prepared are you? Do you have a weeks worth of food and water on hand? Do you have a plan if you are told to evacuate the area with 30 minutes notice? Do you know what catastrophes your area is prone to?

45 years ago tonight

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I had a summer job with a pipe organ builder in Andover, Massachusetts and my parents were vacationing in Rockport, MA. I remember that it was the weekend (just checked - it was Sunday) and we were sitting around a black and white television in the house they were renting.

Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon. The first person to ever do this and the only footprints up there are American. Back then, we did big stuff.


From The American Spectator:

Get Ready for the New England Power Shortage

In 1980, under the first administration of Governor Jerry Brown, California decided it wasn’t going to build any more power plants but would follow Amory Lovins’ “soft path,” opting instead for conservation and renewable energy. By 2000, with the new digital economy sucking up electricity, a drought in the Pacific Northwest cut hydropower output and the state found itself facing the Great California Electrical Shortage.

You know what happened next. For weeks the Golden State struggled to find enough electricity to power its traffic lights. Brownouts and blackouts cascaded across the state while businesses fired up smoke-belching diesel generators to keep the lights on. Governor Gray Davis finally got booted out of office but the state didn’t rescue itself until it threw up 12,000 megawatts of new natural gas plants.

At that point California officials decided that the whole thing had been engineered by Enron and other out-of-state merchant providers and the charges and lawsuits flew. No Democrat ever learned a lesson. The state is now 60 percent dependent on natural gas for its electricity — twice the national average — and its electric bills are almost twice that of surrounding states. Industry is headed for the door.

So how have California’s liberal counterparts on the East Coast managed to avoid the same fate? You’d think a region that could produce Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders plus legions of college students trained to hate fossil fuels would have no trouble pursuing the same green dreams. Well, it’s about to happen. In the next few years New England will be facing a full-scale power shortage.

Last week the governors of the six New England states met in an emergency session at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to discuss what to do about the pending crisis. Significantly, they asked the premiers of five of Canada’s provinces to attend. That makes sense because if the region is going to get electricity from anywhere it is probably going to be from north of the border.

In a hell-bent campaign to rid itself of any form of dirty, messy “non-renewable” energy, New England has been closing down coal and oil plants for the last decade. In 2000, 18 percent of New England’s electricity came from coal and 22 percent from oil. Today it’s 3 percent coal and 1 percent oil. Meanwhile, natural gas — the fuel that everybody loves until you have to drill for it — has risen from 15 percent to a starkly vulnerable 52 percent, just behind California.

There’s only one problem. New England doesn’t have the pipelines to bring in the gas. Nor is anyone going to allowed to build it, either. Connecticut and Massachusetts are only a short distance from eastern Pennsylvania, where fracking for natural gas has leapfrogged the Keystone State into third place for overall energy production. Yet a proposal by Sempra Energy of Houston to expand its existing pipeline from Stony Point, New York, has already met fierce resistance from people who want nothing more to do with fossil fuels and construction is highly unlikely.

Much more at the site New England is in for a world of hurt until they realize that the green movement is detrimental for the planet and for life as we know it.

We need more nukes - preferrably Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors.

Conversion - an ex-leftist speaks

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Excellent rant on why the author came to loathe the hypocrisy of the left.

From Danusha V. Goska at American Thinker - I will just post reason #10 - the rest of the post is excellent and worth the time to read:

10) Huffiness.
In the late 1990s I was reading Anatomy of the Spirit, a then recent bestseller by Caroline Myss.

Myss described having lunch with a woman named Mary. A man approached Mary and asked her if she were free to do a favor for him on June 8th. No, Mary replied, I absolutely cannot do anything on June 8th because June 8th is my incest survivors' meeting and we never let each other down! They have suffered so much already! I would never betray incest survivors!

Myss was flabbergasted. Mary could have simply said "Yes" or "No."

Reading this anecdote, I felt that I was confronting the signature essence of my social life among leftists. We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed. We lived our lives in a constant state of outraged indignation. I did not want to live that way anymore. I wanted to cultivate a disposition of gratitude. I wanted to see others, not as victims or victimizers, but as potential friends, as loved creations of God. I wanted to understand the point of view of people with whom I disagreed without immediately demonizing them as enemy oppressors.

I recently attended a training session for professors on a college campus. The presenter was a new hire in a tenure-track position. He opened his talk by telling us that he had received an invitation to share a festive meal with the president of the university. I found this to be an enviable occurrence and I did not understand why he appeared dramatically aggrieved. The invitation had been addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. X." Professor X was a bachelor. He felt slighted. Perhaps the person who had addressed his envelope had disrespected him because he is a member of a minority group.

Rolling his eyes, Prof. X went on to say that he was wary of accepting a position on this lowly commuter campus, with its working-class student body. The disconnect between leftists' announced value of championing the poor and the leftist practice of expressing snobbery for them stung me. Already vulnerable students would be taught by a professor who regarded association with them as a burden, a failure, and a stigma.

Barack Obama is president. Kim and Kanye and Brad and Angelina are members of multiracial households. One might think that professors finally have cause to teach their students to be proud of America for overcoming racism. Not so fast, Professor X warned.  His talk was on microaggression, defined as slights that prove that America is still racist, sexist, homophobic, and ableist, that is, discriminatory against handicapped people.

Professor X projected a series of photographs onto a large screen. In one, commuters in business suits, carrying briefcases, mounted a flight of stairs. This photo was an act of microaggression. After all, Professor X reminded us, handicapped people can't climb stairs.

I appreciate Professor X's desire to champion the downtrodden, but identifying a photograph of commuters on stairs as an act of microaggression and evidence that America is still an oppressive hegemon struck me as someone going out of his way to live his life in a state of high dudgeon. On the other hand, Prof. X could have chosen to speak of his own working-class students with more respect.

Yes, there is a time and a place when it is absolutely necessary for a person to cultivate awareness of his own pain, or of others' pain. Doctors instruct patients to do this -- "Locate the pain exactly; calculate where the pain falls on a scale of one to ten; assess whether the pain is sharp, dull, fleeting, or constant." But doctors do this for a reason. They want the patient to heal, and to move beyond the pain. In the left, I found a desire to be in pain constantly, so as always to have something to protest, from one's history of incest to the inability of handicapped people to mount flights of stairs.

Excellent analysis - spot on for each of her accusations. The left has no moral high-ground, they are about concentrating power and lording it over those 'less fortunate" than themselves. A toxic blot on civilization.

Four days ago, Kristen Gwynne wrote a poorly researched puff-piece on "The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America" in the Rolling Stone and immediately started getting comments.

The article is now up to 5,974 - here is one from Rob:

Again with attacking guns. Chicago had 500 murders out of 509 in Illinois in 2012. Chicago had some of the most stringent gun laws in America in 2012--some were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. Their stringent gun laws did not help stop gun murders. Lets talk about the most dangerous gangs or the most dangerous mental illnesses. Rolling Stone should do better.

Someone has even done a tee-shirt:


I do hope that Ms. Gwynne is getting the mocking that she royally deserves...

Break time - dumpster full

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Last week, I rented a four yard dumpster to help with cleaning up. I have a large flatbed trailer and bags of debris were piled on that with the intention of driving it into the local transfer station. After two years, this has yet to materialize so the dumpster made its appearance. Spent today piling on bag after bag of stuff.

I love going to auctions but they bundle junk with the good stuff and you have to take it all. Good to get it out of here.

Beans are still a bit tough so will bust out the pressure cooker for tonight's dinner and keep them in the slow cooker overnight for the rest of the batch.

We had our usual Sunday brunch - buckwheat blueberry pancakes and bacon. Put a big pot of chili (beans, cubed tri-tip and tomatoes) in the slow cooker and heading outside to join Lulu in the garden. Have some stuff to do in the shop too.

I'll post more this evening.

Change in the weather - getting cold

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Came inside and kicked on the furnace! Might even build a fire later today. We decided to bag the Steampunk festival - too much to do around the farm and it's a crappy day to be out and about.

Thawing out some chicken for dinner tonight and some tri-tip to do Texas chili tomorrow. Yes, I do it with beans - sue me.

The heat wave has broken

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We just went through our annual heat wave - temps in the 90°F range for two weeks. Last night? 62°F and rain. This morning? 64°F and delightfully overcast.

Lulu is out working in the garden for a bit. I am finishing breakfast and will unload all the auction goodies from my truck. We are planning to head into Bellingham for the third annual Steampunk festival. Should be fun.

More on the mouse utopia

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UPDATE: Posted below

I posted about Dr. Calhoun here: The experiments of Dr. Calhoun - from equilibrium to decline

Here are two links with relevant information.

First: Global IQ: 1950–2050

Second: Dr. Richard Lynn's book Dysgenics

From the About page:

In the mid-19th century, a number of biological and social scientists came to believe that the genetic quality of the populations of the Western nations was deteriorating due to the relaxation of natural selection, the process by which nature eliminates the unfit in each generation by reducing their fertility and by early death. This view, and the idea that steps needed to be taken to correct the situation, came to be widely accepted by the first half of the 20th century. In the second half of the century, however, a reaction against eugenics set in, and from the 1970s onwards eugenics was almost universally dismissed. In this book, Richard Lynn reviews the history of the eugenics movement and seeks to rehabilitate the argument that genetic deterioration is occurring.

Population density - this drop happens exclusively in dense urban environments. Undetectable in rural areas.

UPDATE: DERP! It is not density, it is stress. Density will stress you but there are other mitigating factors.

Just as in the mouse utopia experiment, there is no shortage of food or housing because of government subsidies.
No stress? No way!

Abraham Maslow's 1943 paper comes to mind. A large part of the population now depend on the government to provide the first two basic levels. By accepting these as a "free" hand-out, they are denying themselves the full actualization of the third level which destroys any chance of reaching levels four and five. Of course, the Federal Government is fully complicit in this as it keeps this bloc of voters meek and "on the plantation".

From this little entry at treasury.gov:

374. If I own a Kalashnikov product, is that product blocked by sanctions?  Am I able to resell a Kalashnikov product at a gun show or other secondary market? 
If a U.S. person is in possession of a Kalashnikov Concern product that was bought and fully paid for prior to the date of designation (i.e., no payment remains due to Kalashnikov Concern), then that product is not blocked and OFAC sanctions would not prohibit the U.S. person from keeping or selling the product in the secondary market, so long as Kalashnikov Concern has no interest in the transaction.  New transactions by U.S. persons with Kalashnikov Concern are prohibited, however, and any property in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest is blocked pursuant to OFAC’s designation of Kalashnikov Concern on July 16, 2014.  If a U.S. person has an inventory of Kalashnikov Concern products in which Kalashnikov Concern has an interest (for example, the products are not fully paid for or are being sold on consignment), we advise that U.S. person to contact OFAC for further guidance on handling of the inventory. [7-16-2014]

This is from Executive Order 13662 - another one of Barry's Pen and Phone moments. Just when the prices were starting to settle down. My favorite firearm is the Saiga-12 semi-auto shotgun. It is a scaled up version of the AK-47 manufactured by Izhmash - a division of Kalashnikov. A nice satisfying Ka-Boom.

Some great news - from The Hill:

Hunt for oil and gas to begin off East Coast
The Obama administration opened up the Atlantic to oil and gas exploration for the first time in nearly four decades on Friday.

The announcement from Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) allows the use of air guns and sonic sensors to search off of the East Coast.

It is a major step toward allowing future drilling in the Atlantic, which has remained off-limits for over 30 years.

While the decision doesn't guarantee that lease sales for drilling in Atlantic waters will be included in the Interior Department's five-year plan for 2017-2022, it is a step in that direction.

"After thoroughly reviewing the analysis, coordinating with Federal agencies and considering extensive public input, the bureau has identified a path forward that addresses the need to update the nearly four-decade-old data in the region while protecting marine life and cultural sites,” acting BOEM Director Walter D. Cruickshank said.

Geophysical research companies contracted by the oil and gas industry will still need to apply for individual permits before conducting tests and undergo strict environmental reviews.

Still, the decision is a win for industry, which will get a chance to prove the potential in the Atlantic for oil, gas, and renewable energy.

Nice to see that there are at least some clear-thinking people in DC

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