captpackrat: (Bugs)
All the nope )
captpackrat: (MLP Surprise)
Apparently the new POP MLP toy line from Hasbro is anatomically correct.

They even come with tailplugs.  I think I've discovered a new fetish.
captpackrat: (Camera)
(Oh my God!  He's actually posting something!)

My grandfather was an amateur photographer from way back.  He had all kinds of interesting equipment and at one point even had his own darkroom.  He gave me most of my early equipment and encouraged my interest in photography.

I was given my very first camera when I was about 8 years old.  It was a Kodak Instamatic X-15, the last Instamatic model sold in the US.  It had a single element plastic 43mm f/11 fixed focus lens and a fixed 1/90 second shutter.  It could use Magicube flashcubes, which were a pain in the butt.  It used the 126 film cartridges which produced a distinctive square print.  The camera was prone to miswinding, leading to weird double-exposures if you weren't careful.  I took a number of photos with this camera, but they've all disappeared.

When I was 13 I received a Vivitar Tele 815.  It had a built-in flash (no more flashcubes!  Yay!) and two fixed focus lenses, 24mm and 48mm, both f/5.6, which you selected by sliding a switch.  It used the more common 110 cartridges, which produced a more typical rectangular print but had smaller negatives.  I've only been able to find one print from this camera, a photo I took of Yosemite.

My grandfather also gave me a Minox III "spy camera", but it used a bizarre 8mm film cartridge that was extremely difficult to find and even harder to have developed, so I was never able to do anything with it.

When I was in high school my grandfather gave me his old Canon AE-1 SLR.  It was a real 35mm SLR with a 50mm normal prime lens, but the exposure meter was broken, so he also gave me a hand-held light meter.  I could still use the camera with manual exposure by getting a reading with the hand meter and selecting the appropriate settings.  It was a pain in the butt to use, but it was a great camera otherwise.  It taught me a lot about gauging exposure by eye and the effects of shutter speed and aperture.  I think my grandfather gave me a defective camera on purpose, to teach me to not rely on fancy automatic features.

In college I got tired of having to screw around with the hand-held meter and bought a Ricoh KR-5 35mm SLR.  It was a clone of the venerable Pentax K-1000.  It was full manual with an LED light meter inside the viewfinder.  I bought 4 KA lenses for this camera, a Samyang 18-28mm f/4.0-4.5 wide angle zoom, a Ricoh 35mm-70mm f/3.5-4.5 mid-range macro-focusing zoom, a Vivitar 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom, and a Ricoh 50mm f/1.7 standard prime.  I also had a Vivitar 2x macro-focusing teleconverter, which let me reach out to 420mm, though with the loss of several f-stops.  Although it had a light meter, the camera was still completely manual; you had to set the shutter speed and aperture for each shot using the meter as a guide.

The Ricoh remained my primary camera for almost 15 years until I bought my first digital camera, a Pentax Optio A30.  It was a 10MP 1/1.8" CCD compact with a 38-114mm equivalent f/2.8-5.4 zoom lens.  It had excellent macro capabilities, better than any of the cameras I had afterwards until my DSLM.  It also had a fairly large sensor for a compact.  I used to carry it around in my pocket all the time until the screen broke a couple years ago.

In 2008 I bought two cameras.  The first was a Panasonic TZ-5, a 9MP 1/2.33" CCD compact with a 28-280mm equivalent f/3.3-4.9 zoom lens.  Although it is considered a compact, it was more than double the thickness of the A30; I couldn't carry it in my pocket, so I attached a small case to the strap of my netbook messenger bag.  I still carry this camera with me whenever I take my bag.  It's still vastly superior to any phone camera and has decent zoom.

The second camera I bought in 2008 was a Panasonic FZ-18, an 8MP 1/2.5" CCD bridge camera with a massive 28-504mm equivalent f/2.8-4.2 super zoom lens.  This was my primary camera until just recently.  Despite being 6 years old, and comparatively low resolution, it has a zoom comparable to my current DSLM with its longest lens.  Like an SLR, it can shoot in RAW format and has full PASM capability.  This is the camera I used to shoot many of my rabbit photos.

As nice as the FZ-18 was, by 2013 it was beginning to show its age, and with a crop factor of 5.6, it was lacking a bit in the quality department.  Just before Christmas Costco started selling the Samsung NX2000.  It had better specs than the similar Canon EOS-M and was a lot cheaper, so I bought it.  It's a 20MP APS-C DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless, similar to a DSLR, but without the bulky reflex mirror & pentaprism).  The kit came with a compact 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 mid-range zoom, a 50-200mm f/4-5.6 OIS telephoto zoom lens and an external pop-up flash.  I've since bought 6 other lenses, a 12-24mm f/4-5.6 wide-angle zoom, 10mm f/3.5 fisheye prime, 30mm f/1.2 standard prime, 45mm f/1.8[T6] 2D/3D telephoto prime, 60mm f/2.8 macro-focusing OIS telephoto prime, and an 85mm f/1.4 telephoto prime.  My favorite lens is the 85mm, which has a magnificent DOF.  However, I usually leave the 30mm lens on the camera when I put it away; it's the smallest and lightest lens I own, it's a standard lens (i.e. no magnification) so it's good for quick snapshots and it's simpler and faster to use than the mid-range zoom (precisely because it has no zoom) and has a 2-1/3 f-stop wider aperture (f/2.0 vs f/4.5).  The camera has the ability to connect to my Samsung phone so I can use it as a remote viewfinder or to upload pictures.

Now I'm looking at upgrading to the Samsung NX30 or NX1.  The latter will be Samsung's first professional-level camera, but I'm not sure if pushing an APS-C sensor to 28MP is a good idea.  It's also got a professional-level price tag, $1200.  The NX30 is Samsung's current high-end offering and is nearly half the expected price of the NX1.  It uses the same 20MP APS-C sensor as the NX2000 (entry level) and NX300 (mid-range) cameras, but has a proper viewfinder (the NX2000 has no viewfinder at all, just the screen), a higher-resolution rotating screen, integrated pop-up flash (freeing the hot shoe for accessories), faster shutter, faster drive and faster hybrid autofocus.  Which ever one I decide on will be able to use all my existing NX lenses.
captpackrat: (Homer Gun)
While helping my roommate clean up the basement, I came across several really old hard drives.  I tried using my primative data recovery equipment, but I couldn't even initialize the drives.  They were dead dead dead.  But they still could contain data accessable through more exhaustive means, so I decided to render them permenantly unreadable.  With a vengance!

The first drive was a Conner Peripherals 425 megabyte hard drive.  Yeah, that's an oldie.

The bullet I selected was a .45 Colt Winchester Super-X 255 grain lead-round nose in target/range loading.  The gun is a Taurus "Night Court" Judge with 2.5 inch cylinder and 3 inch barrel.  This was actually the first time I've fired this pistol.

My first shot was a bit wide.  I was firing single-action (that is, cocking the hammer, then aiming and pulling the trigger), and I was caught off-guard at just how light the trigger pull is.  My second shot hit the target perfectly from a distance of about 20 yards.  The bullet pierced the light upper cover, which was ripped clean off by the impact and thrown about 6 feet away.  The bullet severly distorted the drive platter, heavy back casing and circuit board, but failed to penetrate.  If I'd been using a jacketed bullet, it probably would have gone through.  The divot on the platter is nearly an inch across.

I want to try this again with my .30-06 sniper rifle, but I don't have any FMJ ammo, only jacketed soft-points which wouldn't penetrate as well.  Plus the rounds cost almost $1 each.

More Pics

Aug. 5th, 2012 09:20 pm
captpackrat: (Camera)

Decorative heater grate

Everything you need for a perfect date night... movie tickets and lube


Goat face

Horns are tasty!

Closeup of a katydid

Looks like Disney has gotten into the adult novelty business.

This picture of a metal roof makes my eyes go all woogey.

Just taking a break

And here I've been giving hugs away for free like an idiot.

Valve math fail

They showed me the Car Fox

Now there is a vehicle with ground clearance!

I love this license plate!


Aug. 5th, 2012 08:42 pm
captpackrat: (Camera)
LiveJournal really messed up the gallery.  It's a royal pain in the ass to upload and post images now.  Clicky on any of these to see the full image.

Macrophotograph of a screw.

Storms in the distance, and the water tower that was recently erected nearby.

I wish this bike helmet came in my size.

A couple toads I saw in a well head while looking at houses with a friend.

This show is boring!

Cool story, bro.


Something every Skyrim fan should have.

This tastes like ass.

Mmmmm...  Hooves....

I ordered a pork tenderloin sandwich from a local diner.  This is what I got.
captpackrat: (Weather - Dr. George)
I took this photo while crossing the NE-50 bridge over the Platte River near Louisville, NE.  Usually the water fills at least half the channel, but now it's barely more than a creek.  The Platte is not a very deep river, flood stage is only 9 feet, but it's currently at less than 15 inches.  There is actually grass growing out where the river should be.

The river usually looks like this:  (Taken from just a few miles upstream)
captpackrat: (Riding a plane)

It looks like our neighborhood cropduster has upgraded from an Air Tractor AT-401 to a newer AT-602.  The 602 holds 50% more chemicals (630 gallons instead of 400), and has a much more powerful (and louder) 1050 hp Pratt & Whitney PT6A turboprop engine compared to the 401's 600 hp P&W Wasp radial engine.

According to the FAA, his old plane was sold to someone in Mexico and has been struck from the registry.  The new aircraft is N602AP.

The plane was spraying a soybean field on the other side of the trees and occasionally buzzing our house as he turned around to make another pass.

You can also hear the goats having a bit of a scuffle in the background.
captpackrat: (Goat)
Little Ruthven passed away today in his surrogate mama's arms.  He was just a few days short of nine months old.  His mother died shortly after giving birth to him, so my SO and I raised him.  He was very affectionate and curious about everything.  He was absolutely fearless, and would just walk into the house like he owned the place if given half a chance.

We noticed he wasn't feeling well a couple days ago when he didn't come running when I went outside.  We found him under a tree by himself.  He seemed to be eating and drinking normally.  The next day he wasn't doing any better so we moved him to the deck and set up an umbrella for shade.  This morning he was clearly in pain, so my SO started holding him like when he was a baby.  He passed away in his mama's arms before we could call the vet.

We buried him in the barnyard, not far from his mother.  He will be missed.

The Goatquarium
It's my chair now.
Happy goat
A young Gene Simmons?
Goat huffing
captpackrat: (Calligraphy)
Pretty banal, really.  This letter was sent 11 years after the birthday card in an earlier post, yet the postage had only gone up a single penny.  My grandparents had that same post office box until 2006!  The return address is General Delivery, Atlanta, Texas.

captpackrat: (Grandfather Marine)
I'd seen these before, but it was only today that I figured out what their significance was.  These originally belonged to my Grandfather's Grandmother, Leila Grubbs!  I have a photo of her wearing them!

The frames are 1/10 12K gold filled with mother of pearl nose pieces.  The manufacturer's mark is LoC, though I can't figure out what company that is supposed to be, possibly Liberty Optical Company.

This was folded up inside the case.  Love the 5 digit phone number.

Dr. Stephen P. Hill was apparently a member of the Florida State Board of Optometry from at least 1923 until 1933.
captpackrat: (Camera)

My grandfather in uniform.  I can't see any rank insignia, so he's probably a Private, which would have been 1946 or 47, I think.  This photo was probably taken in South Carolina (he went through boot camp at MCRD Paris Island), North Carolina (after boot camp he was stationed at Camp Lejeune), or Florida (his mother lived in Jacksonville).  I tried Googleing the Gardner Hotel Supply Co, but couldn't find anything relevant.

Camels!  I also tried doing a Google Image search to see if I could find this ad, but it was like searching for a cigarette butt in a haystack.

Judging by the Nerf Indoor Golf set that I'd received for Christmas, this was probably from 1986.  No wonder I'm good at putting, even though I suck at everything else in golf.

A photo I took of Yosemite Valley, some time around December 1986 or January 1987.  I'm amazed that I managed to find this picture, I thought it was lost long ago.  Not a bad shot considering the weather, and the fact that I was only 13 at the time.

This photo was probably taken from Tunnel View on Wawona Road.  You can see El Capitan on the left and Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall on the right; it's winter, so the falls are barely a trickle.  Half Dome would be just to the left behind Sentinel Dome in the center but is completely obscured by fog.  Yosemite Falls isn't visible from this vantage point.
captpackrat: (Grandfather Marine)
I was digging through some boxes today and came across a birthday card sent to my grandmother from her aunt in 1949!

Only 3 cents postage!  The postmark is from Klamath Falls, Oreg, November 7, 1949.  My grandfather was stationed at MCRD Paris Island at the time.

It's a pop-up card, which doesn't really translate too well when squished flat on a scanner.
captpackrat: (TV)
The antenna arrangement I was using had one major flaw: since the various UHF TV stations are in a 90 degree arc and my old UHF antenna was highly directional, pointing the antenna at one group of stations would cause reception problems with the others.

I missed the past three Fox Sundays, and had to throw away nearly a week's worth of mid-week programming because the shows were totally unwatchable.  It was well past time to upgrade my UHF antenna.

The one on top is my Winegard YA-1713 High Band VHF antenna.  It's pointed at Lincoln to pick up KLKN (ABC, Live Well Network) and KOLN (CBS, MyNetworkTV) as well as KUON (PBS/NET, PBS World, Create) in Ashland; all three still broadcast in the high VHF.

The lower one is an Antennas Direct DB8 multidirectional UHF antenna.  It's pointed towards Omaha to pick up KMTV (CBS, Live Well Network), WOWT (NBC, AccuWeather), and KETV (ABC, MeTV), and the shape of the antenna allows me to also get a strong signal from KXVO (CW, Azteca America) and KPTM (Fox, MyNetworkTV, Estrella TV) in Gretna and KHIN (PBS/IPTV, PBS Kids/Create, PBS World) in Red Oak, Iowa.

There are a handful of stations I still cannot receive.  I will never be able to get KFXL (Fox) in Lincoln, because it broadcasts on UHF and is a measly 14 kW.  I have never been able to get KYNE (PBS/NET) in Omaha, but they have a rather short transmitter (117 meters) and only broadcast at 200 kW, nor can I receive KBIN (PBS/IPTV) in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which also has a short tower (98 meters) and only 200 kW of power.  (Most of the UHF stations in this area use 500 to 1000 kW of power and have towers 400-500 meters tall).

I still need to replace the mast.  This one is much too flexible and wobbles around a lot in high winds.  I'm not really sure how to get anything this tall that is strong enough not to bend without being so heavy we can't lift it into place.
captpackrat: (Donkey)
captpackrat: (Farm)
The old gate to the barnyard here was in pretty sorry shape.  The wood was pretty much rotten, particularly around the hinges.  The outer screws holding the hinge had ripped through the wood and the heavy gauge metal had bent 90 degrees from the weight of the door.  It was just barely hanging on, and it was very difficult to open or close.  Any pretense of a latch had long rotted away.

I resolved to make a new gate.  A better gate.  A gate that would last forever.  Or at least, for as long as the property owner lives.

The original gate was made with a frame of four 2x6s of unknown wood, with a fifth 2x6 as a diagonal brace and 1x6 slats filling the center.  The whole thing was put together with nails and it had two hinges, held in place with fairly small lag screws. 

My initial plan was to build a gate with four vertical and five horizontal pieces of 2x6 pressure treated lumber, with 4 hinges, the whole thing held together with coated Torx-head deck screws 3-1/2 inches in length.  But when I got the initial frame assembled, I found it weighed a ton, and that was just 4 of the 9 boards.  A quick Google search and some calculations gave a finished weight of over 175 pounds!  Eliminating any of the horizontal boards would have left a large gap in the middle.

Then I noticed we had some wire frame panels.  I picked through them and found there was one that almost perfectly matched the size of the frame.  So I went with a frame of three vertical and three horizontal members, leaving four large holes.  I then placed the wire panel over the middle and attached with with screws and metal strapping.  I could have used staples like a normal person, but I prefer screws.  The wire panel stuck up over the top of the gate by about 4 inches. 

Some quick math and I came up with a finished weight of just 125 pounds, well within the 150 pound rating for each individual hinge.  Because the gate had only 3 horizontal members, I could only use 3 hinges, but that's still way more than enough, and half again as much as the old gate.

Old gate hanging precariously behind the finished new gate.

I intentionally made the new gate slightly longer than the opening, so it would close against the posts on either side, which is much stronger than a gate that can swing either way.  My initial plan was to have it open inwards, which would make it impossible for the animals to push it open, no matter how hard they hit it, but the ground was too uneven in the barnyard.  So I had to hang it so it swung outwards.  But this presented a new challenge, the hinges were now on the wrong side of the gate!  The solution was simple, I just flipped the gate over.  This placed the overhanging wire underneath the gate now, which led to my next problem.

I over-compensated for the wire and installed the hinges on the post too high, leaving a sizable gap underneath.  While none of our current goats could get under it, it would be simple for baby goats, and the gap might encourage the dogs to try digging underneath.  So I got some 1x4s and 1x2s from the garage and built another, lightweight frame underneath.  I'm not sure what the 1x4s were, but the 1x2s are cedar.  I held them in place with lots of screws.

Yes, the wire fence is distorted in one area, but it's cosmetic only and doesn't affect its structural integrity.  It was the only piece that was the perfect size, anything else would have been too small or required extensive cutting.

The finished gate has 3 heavy-duty hinges attached to the gate with 5/8" carriage bolts and washers, and I put metal straps on the edges of the wood to prevent it from ever ripping out, the larger plates held in place with massive lag screws.

I would have preferred the gate open inwards, which would have made it nearly infinitely strong to resist animals inside the barnyard, so since it had to open outwards, I installed a heavy-duty latch.  The loop goes through a 6x6 post and is secured with washers and nuts, while the hook end has 4 bolts, washers and nuts (I'm actually short one bolt at the moment, so it's only got a screw right now).  The latch is self-locking and should be nearly impossible for the animals to manipulate with their horns.  I may try getting a metal plate or something to reinforce the hook side.  For now, this is the weakest point on the gate.

My roommate took one look at it and said, "I think you overengineered this." 

Yeah, I do that.
captpackrat: (Weather - Dr. George)

A great radar shot of a gust front ahead of a line of storms moving towards Omaha.  (It's the thin yellow line near the middle)

That's no moon.  It's a SUPERMOON!


captpackrat: (Default)
Captain Packrat

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