Monday, April 30, 2007

Gun Tyrants

Hube covers a recent pro-gun control letter in one of his regular "Dopey WNJ Letter of the Week" posts. From the letter in question:
For every argument the National Rifle Association makes, one can find an equally valid counterargument. The whole issue comes down to values. Values are built by families and communities. Neighborhoods of families with high values will be safe.
As Hube correctly points out, this is not an argument for gun control. If it doesn't matter whether people have guns or not, then the question becames this: Do you prefer tyranny or freedom? The original writer, Brent Grant of Kennett Square, has let everyone know that he prefers tyranny.

Unfortunately he isn't alone. QandO and Geek with a .45 both have pieces reacting to Dan Simpson's recent opinion piece in the Toledo Blade. In it he outlines the type of police state necessary to rid the nation of private firearms ownership:
The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Special squads of police would be formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm.

Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms. If there were, those carrying them would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for "carrying."
Random, warrantless searches and seizures? Searching old ladies on the street? What Simpson proposes doesn't just break the 2nd Amendment, but takes aim at the rest of the Bill of Rights as well. This is America? No, this isn't any America I'd recognize and it certainly isn't an America I am willing to defend. If anything it is an America I am willing to defend against.

There is one good thing about Simpson's suggestion, the people carrying out these oppressive acts will be in special units. That means the patriots will know who to shoot first.

Spit Out by the Sea

Recent earthquakes have released the hulk of a WWII PT boat from the briny depths. Complete with all the boats stored explosives.

I must now make the legally required historical reference and say that this is just like the infamous torpedo boat that the great American, Ernest Borgnine, sailed around in on McHale's Navy.

Real 3D

I really liked the 3d process used in Meet the Robinsons and now IGN has a piece about that technology.

Free Comic Book Day

Just a reminder that Free Comic Book Day is coming this Saturday. Woo Hoo!

Global Warming

But on a different globe. Since 1970, Mars has experienced global warming similar to Earth. But of course the causes are completely different.

Or are they? It seems to me that the US landed our first spacecraft on Mars in the 1970s. This must be all the fault of the USA, polluting even neighboring planets. We obviously should have done more to ensure that the Viking, Pathfinder, and Exploration landers were EarthMars smart.


My grandmother left the hospital on Saturday afternoon and there was much rejoicing. She is under doctor's orders to stay at my parents place in Pennsylvania for at least a month. My grandfather is decidedly unhappy about all of this. He's 90 and is "set in his ways" to put it mildly. He didn't want to come to my parents house. He is comfortable at his home (in Connecticut) and not particularly comfortable at my parents place. Among other things my parent's split-level requires him to climb stairs to get anywhere.

The doctor is classifying my grandmother's stroke as a Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA. This means that she should make a full recovery but she is at heightened risk for further TIAs and strokes. She's on medication and has orders to take it easy for a while.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Cutest Cat

The News Journal has their cutest cat poll back up so vote for Milo. Again. And this time it will count.

Friday, April 27, 2007


One of my ex-coworkers died Wednesday after a brief hospital stay. Jack was a colorful character and one of the few people at work who was louder and more opinionated than I am. He put up with a me a lot considering I was the young whippersnapper and he was the old codger. He retired around a year ago after repeated health problems like gout and a recurrence of cancer. I'll miss him more and pray for his family.

In more personal news, my grandmother had a minor stroke yesterday. She and my grandfather didn't want to bother anyone, so they didn't mention it until my mother came home from work. While being mild-mannered is a virtue, not when time is of the essence. Fortunately she seems to have made a strong recovery and has most of her speech and motor control back on her right side. Any prayers you can offer for her would be most welcome.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Them Duke Boys

I'm sitting in my hotel room on business travel watching the Dukes of Hazzard. Good God that movie is awful. They took all the goodness of the original series and flushed it down the toilet, only to replace it with a bunch of hillbilly sleaze.

The original series worked because the Dukes were people with shady pasts looking to do right, be honest, and make the most of what they had. In comparison Boss Hogg and Roscoe were scheming but somewhat inept foils. In the movie everyone seems to be dishonest and I can't imagine wanting anyone to come out ahead.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Repealing the 2nd Amendment

Alphecca has a wonderful rebuttal to Walter Shapiro's call to repeal the 2nd Amendment. Shapiro's logic has the normal liberal flaws where they relate to guns. He assumes that the 2nd amendment is about militias not the people and that guns are only for sport shooting and hunting. It isn't. The 2nd Amendment is actually about providing the citizens the means to violently overthrow the government should it become tyrannical. It is the last line of defense for the rights of the people. It is the answer to Juvenal's "who watches the watchmen?" The answer is that we all do.

Penn & Teller are right, Walter Shapiro is wrong. Fortunately he's so wrong that I he doesn't have the votes to do what he wants. More importantly, if liberals did manage to repeal the 2nd Amendment, you can bet an attempt at the violent overthrow the government is going to be close at hand.

UPDATE: LawDog has a wonderful response to the other common liberal trope: "We license cars, so why can't we license guns?" He examines what the nation would look like if we did just that and I doubt the liberals would like it very much.

Balloon Geekery

You know this giant Darth Vader hot air balloon would be even cooler if the balloons burners made the proper breathing sounds when they were used.

Iraqi News

They never seem to put up graphics like this one that QandO brought to my attention. Always show the dead, never show the progress.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gun Control on the Left

From Instapundit, Blogometer is reporting that the major bloggers on the left have been silent on the subject of gun control.
If you were expecting for the netroots to join more traditional Dem calls for increased gun control following the tragedy in Blacksburg, VA, don't hold your breath. At deadline, none of the top five netroots sites (Daily Kos, Eschaton, TPM, AMERICAblog, and MyDD) have called for any changes to gun laws...
By the end of the day this claim was no longer accurate. AMERICAblog actually called for a 'revisit' of gun control before the statement was made and then wentafter Bush for being a lackey of the NRA. More importantly though DailyKos goes into more detail:
I support licensing each gun owner after an extensive background check that explores possible criminality and mental instability. I support relicensing periodically. I think guns should be registered and that we should require extensive training for safety and proficiency in their use before a person is allowed to purchase one....

Such laws might - might - have stopped Cho Seung Hui from acquiring the two weapons he used to commit his murders at Virginia Tech. Or he may have acquired them illegally, as so many criminals do. But while there are legitimate concerns that these laws may constitute a slippery slope toward outright confiscation - an action that some Kossacks support - I still think it would be wise to pass them.
Essentially Kos proposes is an extensive licensing and registration scheme. These are generally bad ideas which raise the barrier for entry into firearms ownership (not to mention carry) and also have the effect of turning a fundamental right into a privilege which can be revoked by government authorities. As Kos himself points out, this is also a known slippery slope towards gun confiscation which has occurred in both US localities and foriegn countries.

The sad this is that he even acknowledges, it probably won't work. A fundamental abridgement of rights that won't even work. But hey we should try it anyway. It's for the children or something. Brilliant.

UPDATE: Heh. Indeed. And a resounding rant from Mrs. du Toit for once.


Heh. We've never gotten Milo close enough to a mouse to see what he'd do, but he does a great job exterminating crickets and other large bugs.

Wonderfully Unexpected

I'm going to be on travel most of next week. Do not be concerned, I will hopefully have a laptop with me. Blogging should continue.

What is great, and I didn't realize it today, is that this has the unexpected effect of giving me this Friday off. A Friday off I didn't see coming. Whoopie!

Have They Started Work on the Patlabors Yet?

Straight from Japan, it's a mecha! Granted it has tracks not legs, but with two full articulated arms controlled by sensors on the operator's own appendages, it's close enough. The original Japanese site probably has more info if you can actually understand it.

Via Steven Den Beste.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Voter Fraud in the Cat Contest

It seems that the News Journal's Cutest Cat Contest has been called off for the time being due to suspected voter fraud. They are going to revamp the voting system for the kitten contest coming up and then they'll rerun the cats the next week.

Women's Earning Power

Hube is discussing a recent News Journal article on the income gap between men and women. Writer Kathleen Jacobs once again parrots the statistic that "women earned 77 cents for each dollar comparable to what a male worker earned across all occupational paths."

The problem is that "all occupational paths" makes for a poor comparison. All you learn is that the apples make more than the oranges. When you compare salaries and wages for men and women doing the same jobs for the same amount of time, the disparity drops to 92 cents on the dollar. 8 cents isn't very much, but it is still likely to be a statistically significant disparity.

So where does that 8 cents come from? I'm guessing it is from differences between the two in the workplace that have very little to do with direct discrimination. After one coworker had her first child two years ago, she didn't return to full time work for over a year. Even then it killed her to come back. Now a second female coworker is expecting this summer. She is planning to take off for an indefinite period. Most of the women I work with have similar stories to tell. Taking a year off from your career or choosing career paths that allow you to spend more time with your children will have an effect on your earning potential. Where I work women are far more likely to do these things because, oddly enough, it is the women who want to mother their children not the men.

Is this fair? Beats me. But at some point, especially when you are talking about fundamental anatomical differences between the sexes like bearing children, a line has to be drawn. Guess what, the two sexes are different in some places and the answer is not to ignore it an pretend they aren't. The answer is to make things as fair as you can within those limits.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Virginia Tech Shooting

The death toll is around 30 and is has nowhere to go but up. My prayers go out to everyone involved.

The other scary thing about these events is the number of "experts" who show up on TV and are completely ignorant. Initially some people thought this guy had a AK-47 solely because of his butcher's bill. We need to renew the Assault Weapons Ban! Turns out the gunman had a 9mm semi-automatic and lots of magazines. Oops.

It would also be wise to take "eye witness accounts" with a grain of salt for a while. The ones most likely to be correct are generally out of the action. The people involved in the action are unlikely to be reliable. Things happen too fast. Few people keep their head. Even fewer are trained to know what to look for in a firefight. Remember survivors firing on the rescue helicopters in New Orleans after Katrina? Didn't happen or at least no aircraft came home with bullets in them. Some pilot heard gunfire and panicked because they didn't know how to judge where the bullets were going.

A commenter over Wizbang is making statements like this:
And finally, MSNBC had a commentator who said that semi-automatic weapons were illegal in Virginia, and yet possessing all the components necessary to convert a firearm to semi-automatic *are* legal. This country needs gun laws that make sense...
Semi-automatic firearms aren't illegal anywhere in the US. Automatic weapons are regulated. Semi-automatic firearms cycle one bullet through the gun with each pull of the trigger. Automatic firearms cycle as many bullets as they can while the trigger is held down. Also possessing a conversion kit and the weapon to be converted is generally regarded as possession of a converted weapon by the ATF. Which is a felony. Sadly it is the people proposing new gun laws which generally don't understand the ones we already have on the books.

Unfortunately the desire to fill the news vacuum on this story is going to make for a lot of poor reporting for a while. The shooting is bad news, but the coverage is bad news of a completely different sort.


According to Jerry Falwell, I am one. I blame my Presbyterian upbringing.

Some people are saying that this is an artifact of Falwell's Fundamentalism. It isn't really. The Fundamentals, which I've mentioned before, were designed as a construct to bind together like-minded Protestants against threats growing from Modernist philosophy. But the Fundamentals do not cover theological ground like Limited Atonement. In fact they purposefully avoided that kind of doctrinal boondoggle so that they covered the broadest group of believers under the umbrella of their particular brand of orthodoxy.

In many ways Falwell is actually shooting true Fundamentalism in the foot and indicating that the Fundamentals aren't fundamental enough for him. What foolishness. But then again I'm an Evangelical and quiet Calvinist so I suppose I would think that way.

Penn & Teller Take on Gun Control

John the Methodist sent me a link to an episode of their show Bullshit. I'd love to say that the show is a righteous and reasonable defense of firearms rights, but it's more like a rant than a rebuttal. And they use obscenity a lot.

I did like Jackie Mason's take on the subject though, "What are they going to outlaw baseball bats, kitchen knives, and the feet of large gentiles next? Mishigas..."

UPDATE: While I'm on the subject of gun control, I might as well tack on this story that Joe Cathey brought to my attention. Why don't some of the people Littleton, Colorado want a statue of Navy SEAL Danny P. Dietz (area native and deceased war hero) erected in town? Because he's carrying his rifle on it. God forbid a sailor be armed. Fortunately the town itself isn't backing down. Good for them.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Quiz from Amybear

You scored as Mathematics. You should be a Math major! Like Pythagoras, you are analytical, rational, and when are always ready to tackle the problem head-on!





























What is your Perfect Major? (PLEASE RATE ME!!<3)
created with

Looks like I chose wisely.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vote for Milo!

Our cat Milo is a finalist in the News Journal's cutest cat contest. Amybear and I entered him a while back and now we're in proud parent mode. He's currently in 3rd place, but you guys can change that. Vote for him here.


Hube is covering the media reaction to the recent Imus Nappy-gate scandal. Surprisingly, the News Journal's Rhonda Graham has a great opinion piece on the subject. I'm not a big fan of Rhonda's but she makes the very valid point. If black people don't want white people using that sort of language, then they probably shouldn't use it themselves.

What amazes me about this whole thing is that Imus is now being portrayed as some sort of conservative. Imus is shock-talk jock. Like most shock-talkers he votes Democrat. He supported Kerry in 2004 and Bill Clinton used to call his show regularly. He's probably in the more moderate wing of the party, but he's no conservative. People are only calling him conservative so they can tar Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity with the same brush they're using on Imus.

Sick Days

I was out sick yesterday with a severe case of the aches and pains. Head, stomach, limbs, everything was sore. I was only 30 for one day and now I was already falling apart.

I stayed home and played a lot of Ratchet and Clank. Amy has also been sick all week with an illness unsurprisingly similar to my own. Because of staffing issues and other things, she's had to go to work every day.

I'm feeling much better today though so I'm back at work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Buy A Gun Day

LawDog is suggesting that the good citizens of the US should invest their hard earned tax refunds in a new firearm. He has his eye on an FNP in .40 S&W for Buy A Gun Day on April 15th.

I don't think that's going to happen with me. I have some guns I want, but they aren't a priority with me right now. My tax refund is largely going to be invested in bringing my tithe up to date and my housing savings. I may spend some of my birthday money on some firearms accessories though. I have some magazines and tools I've been wanting for a while.

Happy Birthday

This is Amybear. I'm taking over Jeff's blog just for a tiny bit to say Happy Birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day and that we are able to celebrate many more birthdays together. I love you!

Monday, April 09, 2007


Tim O'Reilly and others are suggesting a blogger code of conduct. I guess I'm ahead of the curve.

Johnny Hart, Dead at 76

Johnny Hard, the cartoonist behind B.C. and writer of Wizard of Id, died Saturday of a stroke. Hart was (is?) a Christian who generally did a strongly Christian themed strip for Christmas and Easter. Paul Smith posted this one a while back. I really like the punchline of this one myself.

See you later, Johnny.

UPDATE: Creators Syndicate, which Johnny helped to create, has a tribute and memorial up.

Getting a Grip

Among the Easter festivities, we celebrated my birthday a little early yesterday. My parents gave me a check and my brother gave me some new grips for my 1911. He bought me a pretty cheap set of rubber grips and a more expensive set of pachmayr signature wrap-arounds. I swapped both on my 1911 last night and did a little dry firing to see how they felt.

The cheap grips felt ok, about the same as the cheap wood grips they were replacing, but the Pachmayr's really were remarkable. Unlike the cheap rubber grips, the pachmayr's have a slightly tacky feel to them. Like they're stuck to your hand and don't want to let go. The gun feels really planted in your hand and I like it a lot. I can see why some people don't like rubber grips on carry guns though, that same tackiness that holds it in your hand also might make the gun print on your clothes.

I kept the Pachmayr's on the 1911 and I'll see whether I like them even more after a range session this weekend (if weather permits). If I do like them, I may switch my hipower over to a similar set of pachmayr grips. They're currently sporting the same rubber grips that come on the Mark III Hipower. I actually had to order the current grips from Brownells because the original grips were cheap awful plastic.


Take the Magic: The Gathering 'What Color Are You?' Quiz.

I saw that test on a message board and thought it was interesting even though I have avoided Magic the Gathering like the plague. It isn't that I think Magic is a bad game or anything like that. It's that I'm morally opposed to the collectible card game genre. I know people who spent ridiculous amounts of money on Magic and other CCGs trying to get the Rares. If I wanted to throw that much dough down a hole, I'd take up smoking or something.

UPDATE: I guess opposites attract. Amybear's result said:

Take the Magic: The Gathering 'What Color Are You?' Quiz.

Comparison Shopping

Kim du Toit had an interesting piece comparing the living arrangements of two major American political figures:
  • The first lives in a large mansion with a pool house and guest house all heated by natural gas. This house uses more power in a month than a typical household uses in a year. And it does all this even though it is located in part of the temperate region of the US.

  • The second lives in a comfortable 4000 square foot, 4 bedroom house in the southwest. It is heated and cooled using geothermal energy by recycling ground water through a heat exchanger. Since the climate is arid, all waste and rain water is filtered and collected in a central cistern for landscaping irrigation. The landscaping is done with native plants that use very little water in the first place.
Who owns what?

The first mansion is owned by Al Gore. He offsets his conspicuous consumption by purchasing carbon credits from himself. The second house is owned by George W. Bush.

Christ is Risen!

Just wanted to remind everybody that you can make bold proclamations like that on the day after Easter too.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Have No Idea What This Means

You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

From John the Methodist

The Key to Good Acoustics

I'm not a big fan of Bruce Prescott, but one his posts from this morning interested me. Turns out the key to the great acoustics at the ancient Greek theater at Epidaurus is its limestone construction.

How did the ancients wind up with such great acoustics in the first place? Turns out it was probably by accident. All later attempts to recreate them elsewhere failed for one reason or another.

Pennsylvania Politics

I'm no longer a Pennsylvania resident, but I still have friends, family, and readers who live in that great state with the crappy roads. When Geek with the .45 started stumping for State Rep Sam Rohrer's no gun control petition, I thought I would throw my extremely meager political clout behind it as well.

Frankly, Delaware is a state of transplants. As our neighboring states go, so go we. I'd be very grateful if the Pennsylvanians would nip this in the bud so that they don't turn into Newer Jersey and Delaware doesn't become Newest Jersey.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


The deep conspiracies surrounding the sinking of the Titanic are now so obvious to me. I think his scale model recreation of the Titanic impacting the iceberg was the straw that broke the camel's back. I may have to recreate it myself when I get home. Complete with sound effects. Maybe I'll also use scale model testing to determine whether a giant (and suddenly extremely unhappy) orange space cat had something to with it. On second thought, I like having all my skin.

Good Rants and the Problems with Them

I can really respect them, especially when I agree. Evan Sayet's rant at the Heritage Foundation lead to a great one from Kim du Toit. Abby, whom I found through Tamara, lets out a rather long one about the War and the Left.

But while I can respect the rant, I also have to think Steve has a point. Modern dialog, especially political and internet "discussion", seems to feature people on both sides yelling past each other and never listening. I guess that's why the peacemakers are so blessed.

Magazine Issues

Chris Byrne discusses known magazine issues at his blog Anarchangel. His advice on buying quality magazines is a good one. He also suggests downloading your 30 round AR-15 magazines while the magazine wears in. Fortunately or unfortunately I can't shoot my AR with fully loaded mags because I don't have access to a range where it is possible to fully load them in the first place.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Automotive X Prize

So if you haven't heard, the people behind the X-Prize are going for something much more down to earth: the automotive X-Prize. The winner is the first person to make a viable production car that will carry at least two people and go 100 miles on a single gallon of gas.

Instapundit linked to a Popular Mechanics story on the Auto X-Prize a few days ago and it this point:
"There's no business case for it," says GM's Juechter. "How many people would spend $200,000 on a car that would ultimately save them a few thousand dollars on fuel over the life of the car?" That's the worst-case scenario in terms of price estimates, but there's little doubt that a 100-mpg car would cost thousands more than today's bigger, more powerful vehicles.
Exactly. Relentless pursuit of fuel economy can create what is essentially false economy. Buy a car that costs thousands or tens of thousands more than a conventional auto is a poor investment. And you won't just be sacrificing cold hard cash, in order to get a 100 mpg car you'll have to sacrifice acceleration, handling, and probably even crash safety as well.

I honestly don't see the mainstream class yielding a practical four person vehicle anytime soon. You could get a concept car out of it, but not something that would be street legal and comply with the regulatory requirements of US vehicles. The alternative class might be interesting, but the current guidelines require two people seated side by side. This means that many of the trike variants are already out of the race because the passenger is positioned behind the driver. Still, since the alternative class would include trikes (which are generally regulated as motorcycles) you might be able to get a street legal vehicle out of it. Maybe. Unfortunately my idea of a modern Messerschmitt KR200 won't work because of the seating arrangement.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Baking Disaster

I was baking chocolate chip cookies for a bake sale at work tomorrow and my mixer started making funny noises. Turns out three of the four prongs on the end of one of the beaters had sheared off where they plug into head of the mixer. The result? Little bits of metal the size of a pencil point sent flying into the cookie dough I was making. I had to throw the whole thing out and I now lack the tools to make a new batch. Grrr...

UPDATE: Doh! Mixer not blender.

Animal Cruelty

I've long heard that Christmas is a time of foreboding for the SPCA. People buy their children puppies for Christmas but when the responsibility of pet ownership kicks in, it is off to the SPCA or back to the breeder. For rabbit owners like John the Methodist, Easter is the foreboding time.

He mentions that rabbits live for ten years. Cats can live for twenty. We had to take that into account when we bought Milo six months ago. Fortunately, we get along well so I'm fine with having him hang around for another 18 years.

The EPA Case

I caught a few news reports this morning about the recent Supreme Court Global Warming decision. Talking heads were throwing around slogans like "a definitive indictment of Bush Administration policies." It was a 5-4 split decision. That's definitive? The final written decision might be strongly worded, but I'd hardly call a 5-4 split definitive.

It is probably the correct decision though. Why? A quick read of the Clean Air Act reveals that definitions for terms like "pollutant" are so broad that they could mean anything.

Tough Times

I mentioned that both my female coworkers were pregnant last week. This was great for them because they could both chat about pregnant stuff with each other. It was mildly uncomfortable for me of course, because I had to listen to two pregnant women making vivid anatomical comparisons on a regular basis. Ick. The alternative topic of discussion to pregnancy physiology is potty training children. That is just so much fun too.

Note the past tense in some of those sentences. Unfortunately an ultrasound over the weekend revealed that one of them has had a miscarriage. She wasn't out of her first trimester yet. She's going through a tough time and any prayer directed her way will surely be appreciated.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Meet the Robinsons

Amybear and I went with a friend of ours to see the new Disney feature yesterday. We went to one of the 3-D showings so now we both have a set of the nifty polarized Drew Carey glasses they give you. Unfortunately 3D costs extra, but unlike most 3D films it might actually be worth it.

The movie itself is good and I liked it. The plot involves time travel and has some decent curves to it. It was actually a lot more intricate that you would expect in a "kids" movie. I don't want to give it all away, but the overarching themes are the meaning of family, the consequences of ones actions, and the need to live in the present not the past. Good themes for a time travel movie actually.

I thought the 3D effects were very well done. In a lot of live-action films, the 3D effect becomes very layered. The people look flat and the individual pictures seem like flat graphics layered one at different levels with respect to each other. Imagine a theater where a play was performed on a three dimensional stage but the actors and set pieces are all just moving cardboard cutouts. 3D movies tend to be like that, it has depth but it is still a flat depth. I think it has to do with how the movies are shot and processed.

With Meet the Robinsons, you don't really get that flat look. There are a lot of very nice perspective shots and other subtle uses of 3D that bring you into the picture. I think this is because Meet the Robinsons is CGI. They actually have the 3D location data for every pixel on the big screen. Instead of putting discrete visual elements at specific depths, they can construct the effect so that each pixel is at its proper depth for a more realistic experience of depth and perspective. I hope that made sense.

... and Taxes

I spent a good part of Friday doing income taxes. Last year I had my returns prepared by Liberty Tax Service. It was free with a first time customer coupon and extremely painless. After that experience I am determined to never do my taxes by hand-and-calculator again. Not only is doing taxes a pain, but taxes are an arithmetic test where any mistakes generally cost you large sums of money. Even small mistakes can add up with fees and penalties. I had the state of Pennsylvania go after me for fifty bucks once because I overpaid my taxes by 73 cents. I forgot to round all my numbers to the nearest dollar. I never did pay them.

This year I'm doing both our returns using TurboTax. So far I've only worked through our joint returns. I'm getting enough money back that my urge to see what happens when I file separately is fading. But I'm still going to try to run those numbers too just in case. Frankly, I'm a little suspicious of the amount I'm getting back. My Maryland return seems about right compared to last year, but my federal refund seems much larger. I'll have to print everything out and double check it.

Delaware is also annoying me since I'm filing a "combined" joint return. Whether we owe Delaware or Delaware owes us is entirely dependent on which column (mine or Amy's) I put our charitable deductions in. I don't pay taxes to Delaware either way because I have a big tax credit from Maryland, but Amybear has either under or overpaid. The problem is that all our contributions are in my name and many were made before we got married. I might be able to get away with giving them all to her, but I don't like to just "get away with" things. I want to do it right.

I think I'm going to redo the Delaware return after breaking our contributions down 50/50. Maybe she'll just break even, which is fine by me. I'm also going to try to work out a pure joint return and see if all of this clears up. For some reason Turbo Tax doesn't like giving me the option of changing the type of return I'm filing after I make the initial attempt. It's really kind of annoying actually.


I'm over 2000 posts now. How did I manage to write so much about so little?