30 June 2015

Tech Tips

Here are two important things that all children of the digital age should know. (And like it or not, you're probably one such child.)


1.  Google Flights. Look up "Google Flights," go to the page, and enter the airport nearest you. Optionally enter your travel dates.

a. To find the lowest fare to anywhere in the world, enter the destination.

b. To find the lowest fare to EVERYWHERE in the world (!!!), do not enter a destination (just an origin) and click on "expand map." Then us the +/- keys at lower left to zoom in/out, and click-and-hold to drag the map to the part of world in which you are interested.

What a wonderful thing!


2. Photos in the Cloud. Do you take pictures with your phone?

Apple, Google, Microsoft (OneDrive) and probably others all offer (a) "automatic upload to cloud" services, and (b) in most cases, free storage of your photos. Apple's service is called "iCloud" and "iPhotos," and I'd recommend that for Apple phones. I've tried all three of the services named here on my iPhone 5, and Apple's seems to work the easiest and most reliably. All  the services have software that runs on PCs and Macs so that you can access your cloud photos as if they were on your local computer.

So if you take pictures with your phone, they can be (a) automatically uploaded to the cloud without you having to do anything, and (b) thereby become completely accessible from your PC and other cloud-connected devices.

21 June 2015

Reflection of the Wave

Unusual and fabulous picture.

Unfortunately, the photographer didn't list any details—like where this was taken. I've seen pictures like this before, however, and think it's a safe bet that the place is Antelope Canyon, one of the famous "slot canyons" near Page, Arizona. 

20 June 2015

Big and Bigger

You may recognize the gentleman on the left as Duane "The Rock" Johnson, an American movie star. Mr. Johnson is six feet five inches (1.96 meters) tall. Shown here with his friend, Sun Ming Ming, a Chinese basketball player.

04 June 2015


A most remarkable "map" showing the evolution of Earth, Earth-based life forms, and Mankind, from Earth's beginnings until the present day.

From the original text:

The Histomap of Evolution: earth, life and mankind for ten thousand million years. Arranged by John B. Sparks. Copyright, 1932, by John Sparks, 1942 edition. Printed and distributed in U.S.A. by Rand McNally & co. One dollar.

To navigate:

1. Locate the little slider bar with the minus sign at one end and the plus sign at the other. Here it is shown on some yellow-with-text background:

Click on either end, or use the slider, to increase/decrease magnification level.
2. Use your mouse—click and hold and move—to reposition the map.
Note that this map is just one of approximately 60,000 digital maps that have been created from the collection's total supply of over 160,000 historical maps. Unbelievable.

03 June 2015


Great bumper sticker seen on a car in San Luis Obispo:

Safety Third
Follow me to certain death.

Interesting Fact of the Day:

When Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas and his men, of the Spanish exploration party led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, became the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon, in September of 1540, they estimated the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon to be eight feet wide. (It is actually 200-300 feet wide.)

The point is that even with their eyes wide open, standing there on the South Rim some 5000 feet above the river, having sent three men partway down into the Canyon, they still could not believe—literally—how big the Canyon is.

If you've been there, you probably know the feeling...


01 June 2015

Valley of Fire

If you are driving from Las Vegas, Nevada, to St. George, Utah, which you would certainly want to be doing because it's how you get to Zion National Park, then out in the middle of the desert you would encounter a sign telling you of the "Valley of Fire."  And if you were inspired to take the uninviting turn-off from the freeway, and go a few miles into what I believe is a Native American reservation as well as being a Nevada state park, you would encounter a landscape like this.

Among other things.

If you are ever on that drive, and the temperature outside the car is less than 110º, it's definitely worth a side-trip of an hour or two to go see the fabulous mountains and old Indian stuff in the Valley of Fire. You can continue through the park to Lake Mead's North Shore Drive, and turn north to continue towards Zion or south toward Vegas. More great mountains on this road.

29 May 2015

Dumb Headline

This may be the dumbest headline ever on a New York Times article:

Selling Off Apache Holy Land: What motivated Congress to give Oak Flat, a sacred Apache site, to a mining company that will certainly destroy it?


What does the writer think motivated Congress? How about the same thing that normally motivates Congress to take something from Party A and give to it to Party B?

The bribes—oh excuse me, campaign contributions and important fact-finding trips—paid to members of Congress by Party A.

It's not like this is rocket surgery....

22 May 2015

Picture of the Day


(Click on picture for a big version)

Here's a link to the website / on-line studio of the photographer, wherein some great pictures are to be found.

20 May 2015


Know your wines fairly well?

Of course you do.

Here's a nice article (with video) on the subject.


This remains one of my favorite pictures. I've shown it on these pages before, but just came across it again and am thereby posting it again. See if  you can spot what makes it so special.

14 May 2015

Understanding Capitalism, part 17

Room for Improvement

A great tweet from Blobert Ironside ‏@blobert :

Breaking News: American CEO-to-employee pay ratio rises paltry 16% to 373:1 because workers still being paid.

24 April 2015

I Always Knew It

I took one of the many internet IQ tests this morning, and scored an impressive 190.

And since we know that IQ doesn't change over time, I thought it was perfectly appropriate to take a test designed for third graders.

15 April 2015

Voting Made Easy

This may be the most important post I've written in a while, in that it may—and arguably should—influence people's behavior. Please read it carefully and thoroughly.

Following is an "edited quote" from a respected journalist who I'm not naming so as to avoid as much bias as possible. I thought this was an excellent and unusually clear assessment of the American political situation and voting options, so I'm passing it along more or less intact.


There has never been a time in American history when the alleged personal traits of candidates mattered less. As we head into 2016, each party is quite unified on major policy issues, and these unified positions are very far from each other. The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.

  • Maintain the basic U.S. social insurance programs — Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — in essentially their current form, while also preserving and extending the Affordable Care Act.
  • Retain the tax hikes on high-income Americans that went into effect in 2013, and possibly seek more.
  • Preserve the 2010 financial reform laws designed to rein-in big financial firms
  • Move forward on climate policy, through executive action if necessary

  • Destroy Obamacare, make deep cuts in Medicaid, and probably try to convert Medicare into a voucher system.
  • Cut taxes on the wealthy while slashing programs that aid low-income families.
  • Roll back 2010 financial reform laws, eliminating both consumer protection and the extra regulation applied to large, “systemically important” financial institutions.
  • Block efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The differences between the parties are so clear and dramatic that it’s hard to see how anyone who has been paying attention could be undecided even now, or be induced to change his or her mind between now and the election.

One thing is for sure: American voters will be getting a real choice. May the best party win.


So what the pundit is saying is that you, Ms/Mr voter, have a very clear choice. It does not matter who becomes the candidate: the position above are those of his/her party, and those are approximately the things that will happen under the next President.

So make your choice based on the above. It's simple, clear, unambiguous. Which set of actions or reactions do you think best serve the interests of America and/or yourself?

Please use Comments, below, to say if you think any of the above positions are mis-represented or biased, or if other points of difference or similarity between the parties should be included.

14 April 2015

Aurora Again

Another great aurora picture.

After the picture is displayed, click on it to change background to black, which is preferred for best viewing. Do NOT view on phone, screen is to small.

The Devil Makes Three

I just "discovered" a new musical group which I really like and thought I'd share with you. They've been around for quite a while

Here's a YouTube version of the song that caught my attention.

And here's one of a concert they did in 2009. It's 33 minutes long, but (a) is very good quality, (b) you don't have to view/listen to the whole thing, (c) you can listen while doing something else, and (d) it shows the performers performing very well and clearly.

Here's their website in case you want more info.

I'll be going to see them in concert the next time they're in Southern California.

Rejected Political Slogans

I expect that this didn't get much traction in the Hillary campaign meeting to come up with a good slogan:

Hill and Bill in 2016

Tough Decision

(This post is political, but it's clearly not partisan.)


Paraphrasing the civil rights / human rights reporter Glenn Greenwald:

A serious debate is going on inside the State Department and White House these days.

Should our response to people in the Middle East who we think might be terrorists, or have some sort of connection to organizations or suspected terrorists or other people we won't like, be to:

  1. Continue Obama's policy of using drones to kill them, their families, the associates and other bystanders without any sort of trial or legal framework/recourse.


  2. Re-initiate Bush's policy of kidnapping them from their homes and indefinitely imprisoning them in Guantanamo without any sort of trial or legal framework/recourse.

11 April 2015

With It

Just heard the following on a local radio station, which a little research revealed to be from a 1996 episode of "The Simpsons:"

I used to be with it, but then they changed what *it* was.

Now what I'm with isn't *it*, and what's *it* seems weird and scary to me.

It'll happen to you...


Talking now to baby boomers:

Is there ANYTHING at all that we learned about American history that was/is not an orchestrated set of lies designed to shape our thinking and our attitudes?

This New York Times article on Appomattax and the aftermath of the formal end of the Civil War shatters yet another myth.

06 April 2015


Here's a particularly great picture of the aurorea borealis I was sending to friend LC, then decided to share with everybody.

Same viewing tips as always:

  • View on as big a screen as possible (although small high-resolution screens may be better than large low-resolution ones).
  • After getting the image displayed, click on it to switch to a black background, which is generally better for viewing and seems to be preferred by the photographer comments I've read.

04 April 2015

The White Silence

Click on the image for a full-page view, and then click on that to change background to black (better for viewing).

At the bottom of the image-display page, there are thumbnails of additional pictures from this photographer. You might want to scroll through them, they are pretty impressive.