Alkahest my heroes have always died at the end

January 26, 2009

Snow pictures

Filed under: Gallery,Personal,Photography — cec @ 4:39 pm

Last week (on Inauguration Day no less), we got about 7″ of snow out at the house.  I just uploaded the pictures this morning.  Some of my favorites are below, the rest are in the gallery.


If nothing else, the dogs sure did seem to enjoy the snow.  🙂


Filed under: Political,Social — cec @ 9:42 am

Can anyone please explain to me, what the hell is John Boener doing on my TV and in my newspapers talking about the stimulus plan?  For 8 years, we liberal types were told that “elections had consequences” and that we should STFU and clap louder.  Fine, now that republicans have been repudiated in a full election cycle, suffering major losses in both 2006 and 2008 after running on the same policies that they now advocate will save us from the mess that their policies got us into, will they please STFU?

I have no problems listening to republicans.  Hell, if I want moral advice, who better to turn to than a bunch of public bathroom sex soliciting, diaper wearing, drug using pedophiles?  At the very least, it’s good for a laugh.  But policy?  Why the hell would I listen to them about policy?  “OMG, John McCain has said he opposes the stimulus plan.”  Really?!  Why do I care?  He ran on a platform oppossing the types of stimulus being proposed.  It would have been shocking if he didn’t oppose it – the mother of all flip-flops if you will.

At the end of the day, Obama won the election in large part by proposing to do exactly what he’s doing.  Provide a massive stimulus plan to get the economy out of the mess that it’s in.  Voters expected that the plan would be based in a reality (which means that the magical tax cutting fairy isn’t going to somehow increase government revenues).  So what do we have?  We’ve got a plan that emphasizes infrastructure building, money for states and extended unemployment benefits.  Hrm, I wonder how that stacks up against tax cuts as a way of stimulating the economy?

Well, as it so happens, we have a way of measuring these things.  Mark Zandi at Moody’s recently evaluated a number of different stimulus measures and determined their effectiveness in stimulating the economy per dollar spent.  The EPI put this into a wonderful graph:

What we see here is that the tax cuts most favored by republicans are also the least effective.  There are some forms of tax cuts that provide moderate stimulus (i.e., greater than $1 of stimulus for each $1 spent), but that the best ways to stimulate the economy are food stamps, unemployment benefits, infrastructure spending and aid to states.  Not surprisingly, these are the forms of stimulus that are most likely to be spent.  If you gave me $500 in tax cuts, I’ll save it; net stimulus: $0.  If you ensure that a family can eat by providing an additional $500 in food stamp aid, I guarantee that it will be spent at a grocery store and provide more economic stimulus than the original $500 expenditure.

All of which is a long winded way of telling the republicans to please shut up and let sane people clean up the mess they’ve made of the country.

January 20, 2009

Happy inauguration day!

Filed under: Personal,Political — cec @ 12:00 pm

It’s noon – congratulations to President Obama!!

January 19, 2009

life in the south

Filed under: Personal — cec @ 9:52 pm

It looks like we’re going to get our first real snowfall in about five years.  “Real” if you count 2-4 inches, which I do since K and I are from Louisiana.

Unfortunately, while I was grocery shopping this weekend, I forgot a few things and needed to go pick ’em up on my way home from work.  Even more unfortunately, among the things I forgot were a quart of milk for tea at the office and a dozen eggs.  So there I am, the evening before the snow falls buying milk and eggs.  Hell, if I had forgotten bread this weekend I would have hit the Southern snowfall French Toast

January 12, 2009

told ya so

Filed under: Political — cec @ 6:47 pm

A couple of weeks ago at a Geek Beer, we were discussing Roland Burris and the likelihood of him being seated by the senate.  My take was that of course he would be seated.  No one has ever paid a price for going against Harry Reid.

Told ya so.

front yard birding

Filed under: Gallery,Photography — cec @ 11:06 am

Using a bit of leftover birthday money, I bought some new camera equipment.  Nothing particularly sexy like a big long lens (what do you mean by homoerotic?).  I bought a set of carbon fiber tripod legs that weigh about 3 pounds instead of the 6 pounds of my old tripod legs – that should make hiking easier.  They can also hold more weight which is good since my biggest lens tops out what you should put on the old legs.  I also bought a new tripod head.  Instead of a ball head (ahem), I got a gimbal head that balances the weight of the camera so that you can easily point it anywhere and it stays put.  Moreover, the new head is far more stable than the old one when using long lenses.

All of the nerdiness aside, the real proof is in the pictures.  I took the camera outside over the weekend and put it on the new tripod to try to get some interesting bird pictures.   Thoughts?


The first is a junco – I took the picture with a 500mm lens with a doubler.  That combined with the camera’s internal 1.5x magnifier gives me 1500mm equivalent.  I could not have gotten this shot with my old tripod.

Second – chickadee on the birdfeeder (900mm equivalent)

Third/fourth – sh titmouse on the holly tree and flying off of the tree.

Fifth – unknown (at this time) bird [update: 1/13]  immature yellow-throated warbler

Sixth – yellow-bellied sapsucker

Seventh/eighth – gear 🙂

All in all I’m very happy with the tripod and head.  It’s much stabler than what I’ve been using and has already let me take some shots I couldn’t take before.

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