Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Three Wishes

A postdoc, a grad student, and their professor are taking a walk outdoors during lunch when they come upon an old brass lamp. They pick it up and dust it off. Poof! Out pops a genie!

"Thank you for releasing me from my lamp-prison," he says, "I can grant you three wishes- one for each of you."

The postdoc thinks a moment, and then she says, "I'd like to be out sailing a yacht across the Pacific, racing before the wind, with a crew of totally buffed-out, gorgeous guys."

"It is done," says the Genie, and Poof! the postdoc disappears.

The grad student thinks a moment and says, "I'd like to be riding my Harley with a gang of beautiful women throughout the American Southwest."

"It is done," says the Genie, and Poof! the grad student disappears.

The professor looks at where the other two had been standing and rubs his chin in thought. Then, he tells the Genie, "I'd like those two back in lab after lunch."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Straighten with Paint Shop Pro

Here is a photo which is completely out of kilter. Usually not a good thing.

This is an easy fix with Paint Shop Pro. If we go to the Learning Center we can click on Adjust and then Straighten. A straighten tool will then appear which can be lined up with a straight edge, in your photo, with the mouse. You will have to make a judgment call if there is no straight edge to go by. When you have the line exactly where you want it simply double click anywhere within the image.

You may wind up with an image which appears to be simply rotated by hand, such as shown above. While this may be an effect you want, in which case you are done, it is highly unlikely.

To have the image straightened and cropped back to a standard rectangular format, follow the steps above. This time just be sure to check the box in the tools option menu marked 'Crop Image'. This will probably more to your liking. Just remember when using this method that some of your image will be cropped away, along the edges.

Music Trivia 18

What song starts as follows -

Just one more mornin
I had to wake up with the blues
Pulled myself outta bed, yeah
Put on my walkin shoes,

and who performed it?

Whoa, Sunni again -
Sunni Kay said...

It is called Dreams and it is preformed by the Allman Brother's Band.

and of course, she is correct!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sandstone County * Episode Sixty

Sandstone County Sheriffs Department - To Serve, To Protect, To Get Rid of All Dirtbag Criminals by 2026

Another slow Saturday in Sandstone County.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Lee Harvey Kitten

Found this gem somewhere? on the net.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Email Photos with Paint Shop Pro

For a really, easy way to email your photos use Paint Shop Pro. Corel has a tutorial to show you how. No more sending oversize files that aggravate the recipient. No more guessing the optimum file size to send. Paint Shop Pro painlessly walks you through the process. Choose embedded or attachment, pick your size (three easy options, plus original or cell phone), and send them off to your chosen recipient.

Here, I chose to embed (nice option) the file. Optionally, I could have chosen to send the file as an attachment.

Here It Comes

Here it comes folks! Today's smokers are outlaws because of the liberal lunatics. But hey, this kind of socialism was fine with many of us, especially the already non-smoking crowd. I've been warning people that the lunatics would never stop. They would always have to have a 'cause' and someday their 'cause' might be near and dear to YOU and Your freedoms. Obesity may be the next big crusade. I say if being in the same environment with a smoker is bad for you then being in the same environment with an obese person must, also, be bad for you. Simply look at the study below (published by the BBC) and draw your own conclusions. I know the Liberal Lunatics have already drawn theirs.

The study looked at data collected over 32 years
Having a friend, sibling or spouse who is overweight raises a person's risk of being obese too, US researchers say.

They said data on more than 12,000 people suggested the risk was increased by 57% if a friend was obese, by 40% if a sibling was and 37% if a spouse was.

They argued this showed social factors, such as the body sizes of other people, were important in developing obesity.

Experts said the New England Journal of Medicine study was not conclusive as other hidden factors could be to blame.

People come to think that it is OK to be bigger since those around them are bigger
Professor Nicholas Christakis

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of California, in San Diego, looked at data collected over 32 years as part of a heart study.

Participants gave personal information, including their body mass index, and the names of friends who could be contacted.

'Causal relationship'

The authors were able to map social connections including both friends and family members.

The effects were generally larger between people of the same sex.

And their analysis suggested that the links could not be solely attributed to similarities in lifestyle and environment, for example the impact of friends existed even where friends lived in different regions.

The statistics may be meaningful, but in real life this is not very helpful to people who are overweight
Professor Andrew Hill

Author Professor Nicholas Christakis said: "It's not that obese or non-obese people simply find other similar people to hang out with.

"Rather, there is a direct, causal relationship. What appears to be happening is that a person becoming obese most likely causes a change of norms about what counts as an appropriate body size.

"People come to think that it is OK to be bigger since those around them are bigger, and this sensibility spreads."

Moral support

Dr Richard Suzman, director of the National Institute of Aging's Behavioral and Social Research Programme, said the finding could have important implications.

He said: "This seminal study breaks important new ground in showing how social networks may amplify other factors and help account for the dramatic increase in obesity across the [US] population."

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of charity Weight Concern, said it was no surprise that people who are obese tended to be friends with others who were obese, but that the fact that the link was more important between friends than siblings was "very interesting".

He said this suggested that social factors were even more important than physical ones in obesity.

He added that, on the positive side, if overweight people had friends who were obese, they could offer moral support to help each other lose weight.


But Professor Andrew Hill, of the University of Leeds, said it was purely speculation to suggest that people's body images change because their friends become obese.

And he said it was important not to forget things which are known as key factors in obesity, such as diet and exercise.

"The statistics may be meaningful, but in real life this is not very helpful to people who are overweight.

"We don't have an understanding of what is really causing the relationship - it might be very complicated."

Smoker's are being driven into their homes. More and more public areas are becoming off limits to smokers. Soon, the loonies will make it illegal to even smoke in one's own castle. Coming is the day when proposals will be made to ban obese people from public places. Sure, the beginning drives will be small. They will probably be unnoticed. Then the movement will grow!

There will be other 'causes' to come. Some you will like. Maybe some will scare you. When it hits HOME it will scare you.

Maybe it's nothing. Maybe freedoms and liberties are overrated.

Add A Caption 29

Who's got a caption for this little pic?

I love your suggestion KeL

"The Flintstones got rich!"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Omphaloskepis 8

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days
no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Even a Child Can Use Paint Shop Pro

I removed the background from this photo of my granddaughter.
Pretty awesome, huh?

Here is a drawing (her first ever) made by my granddaughter (shown above), in Paint Shop Pro. She drew it way back in March of '06. I wonder if she remembers it?

Removing Distractions from Your Photos

In this tutorial from Corel You learn how to remove unwanted items from your photographs, as the title implies. I decided to use their photo for this exercise. Removing unwanted objects was quite easy using the 'Object Remover Tool' found under the Retouch and Restore button. With this tool you simple drag the cursor around your unwanted object, while in the selection mode, and then select a replacement area, while in the source mode. The only caveat is that you should be very, careful when selecting your source area, so as to match the surrounding area you are eliminating as closely as possible. Take as many source samples as necessary to accomplish a maore natural end result.

In the edited photo you will notice the leash and the branch are both now gone. Perhaps it's time to get those distracting objects out of your photos.

Russian Mafia - Part 1

Monday, July 23, 2007

Music Trivia 17

The second verse of this 1973 song goes -

At the sound
Of the first bird singing
I was leaving for home
With the storm
And the night behind me
And a road of my own

what was the song and who performed it?

It's Sunni again!
Sunni Kay said...

July Morning by Uriah Heep

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Paint Shop Pro Crop Tool

Although, the best cropping should usually be done 'in camera', it doesn't always work out the way it should. Sometimes we need a little help, after the fact. As stated in Corel's tutorial, cropping is the quickest and easiest way to improve the composition of your photos. Paint Shop Pro allows you to select from standard photo sizes or to go completely free form. You decide what works best for your usage.

I have used the crop tool, here, to remove distracting elements and to emphasize the important part of the photo. No more arms and torsos of headless people. Much better.

Redneck Time Out

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sandstone County * Episode Fifty-Nine

Sandstone County Sheriffs Department - To Serve, To Protect, To Get Rid of All Dirtbag Criminals by 2026

Off duty Sandstone County Deputy Hidrent blows a training wheel. When a fan enroute to a Village People's concert stops to offer assistance, Deputy Hidrent cites the man for impersonating an officer.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

The title says a lot but, this photo speaks to me about patience, also.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Blog Directory

A new slant on directories is being offered by the same gent who brought us The Bestest Blog of All-Time. If your a blogger you may want to check this out. I'll let him explain it -

Directory with a Twist: Instead of just having the anchor text for your link be your blog's name, all links will be of the form "The _____est Blog." For example, "The Most Frequently Updated Blog" or "The Best Philadelphia Eagles Football Blog" or "The Yummiest Blog."

I had a few reasons for setting it up like this. First of all, I wanted this directory to be different from all the cookie cutter directories out there. More importantly was a closer look at the value of anchor text.

The anchor text of external links to your site is very important for determining your search engine results. For example one of my favorite blogs, "Flip This Body," a weight loss blog, already appears at #1 for Google searches of the term flip this body. This is because the majority of links pointing to Julie's site have this anchor text. But in my directory Julie's link could look something like this: The Thinnest Blog. Notice how the name of her blog still appears when you highlight the link. Also, having an important weight-loss word like "thinnest" in the anchor text, could help out future searches with that term.

So, if this appeals to you head over to The Bankest Blank Blog Directory and get registered.

Add A Caption 28

Who's got a caption for this pic?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Corel's Smart Photo Fix

Here is a poorly exposed photograph. I have tried the 'Learn How to Fix Photos the Smart Way' tutorial at Corel's site, to see if it would improve the picture.

The tutorial is pretty straightforward and I simply used the default settings, here. My photo is much lighter and definitely better exposed, now. A superb improvement with only a click of the mouse (once you are at the right screen). If desired one could adjust the brightness manually via the shadows, highlight, and/or the overall sliders. One can, also, manually adjust the saturation and sharpness in this screen. Using the advanced settings, you could continue to improve the color balance of the photo and adjust the lighter and darker areas of your photo using black and white set points. For this example I used no advanced settings and simply used the ones suggested by the program.

In the past, I have often found the 'Smart Photo Fix' generally and the 'suggested settings' specifically to do a great job much of the time. Often, though, I found it is better to manually adjust your photo with Paint Shop Pro's more general tools. It would probably be a good practice to try the Smart Photo Fix first. If this does not do the job sufficiently, or as you envisioned, then try doing the corrections yourself.

Omphaloskepis 7

Never take life seriously.
Nobody gets out alive anyway!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Give A Makeover with Paint Shop Pro

I tried Corel's 'Give a Makeover - It's Easy! ' tutorial and found they were correct - it is easy. I used their photo, for the first time, as I didn't want to offend anyone I know.

This tutorial is like four mini tutorials in one. It has to do with making over a subject in a portrait or any photo with people, for that matter. It leads you through the 'Retouch and Restore' section where you then find the Makeover button. Clicking here, you are then able to use the Blemish Fixer (easy), the Toothbrush for whitening teeth (easy), the Skin Smoothing Tool (easy), and finally the Suntan Tool (moderately easy, depending on your photo).

Quick and easy (is this getting monotonous) fixes all, for any of the subjects that may need a little touch up. Give these tools a try.

Quick Release Arrives

I came home from work this morning and found a Slik Quick Release on my porch. I guess B&H was now able to get one to me. I mounted it on my camera and tripod and it seems plenty sturdy. It is already very, obvious that it will be extremely useful. I should have bought a release years ago.

Now, I must test it for a while. If it is everything I expect it to be then I will acquire another set. The second set will allow me to mount my 400mm lens directly and the female piece will go on my window pod setup. Wow, that will truly be convenient.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Grandson's Birthday

My wife and I went to my grandson's birthday party and had a blast. Shown here is the 'Little Man' with what appeared to be his favorite gift. Not the gift I bought but, this toy was really cool. He now has his own lawnmower which makes your typical lawn mower sound and expels bubbles for exhaust. Very, clever idea. Little Man loves it and so do his parents stating, " . . . it will help him burn off some energy." He surely has plenty of energy!

We, also, took him to his first ever Twins game. He is obviously too young to follow the game but, he truly seemed to enjoy himself immensely because he is definitely a people watcher. The arena is of course a haven for people watchers.

My daughter chose the 'Family Seats' which I have never used before. The view from here was alright and it was less crowded than what I'm accustomed to, which is really to my liking. This may just be because of this particular game but, whatever the reason I enjoyed having a little moving room.

The Twins won 4 to 3 with Silva pitching into the 7th inning and allowing 2 hits.

Always Read the Fine Print

I'm glad this sign prominently warns of it's sharp edges. Going by at 60 MPH, it becomes very, important that one can read all pertinent data in time.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Add A Caption 27

Who's got a caption for this pic?

eddyquette gets this one -

eddyquette said...
"As she saw her team's chances of victory evaporating,
Jenna decided it was time to break out her famed 'disco diversion moves'..."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Omphaloskepis 6

I've found that the easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Still Planting

I'm still planting the items my wife bought Monday. She told me she bought about forty-two cedars. It turns out, there are forty-six of them. As of today I have thirty-one in the ground, with fifteen remaining.

I quit at this number because the wind picked up, making it quite difficult. In fact, I now see there is a wind advisory for the area. On the internet I read,
"West to northwest winds sustained from 25 to 35 mph... frequent gusts up to 45 mph are expected for much of the rest of today. . .Reports of some trees and power lines being blown down have already been received... and additional trees and power lines may be blown down by the winds for the rest of today across the entire advisory area. Anyone on area lakes this morning across east central Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin should seek shelter and prepare for the onset of strong west to northwest winds by midday.

A Wind Advisory means that sustained winds of at least 30 mph are expected for more than 1 hour. Winds this strong can make driving difficult... especially for high profile vehicles. Use extra caution.

One of the cedars I put in the ground went on the northern property line, while the rest were all placed on the southern border. I am very, happy that I only lost one cedar from last years planting and have now replaced it. I expected to lose more.

The trees I spoke of yesterday are in the ground, also. One is a Royal Red Maple. This too, is a replacement plant. It replaces a Northwood Red Maple, which I planted two years ago (pre-dating this blog). The rabbits ate the bark off the lower couple of feet and killed it. I have learned from this aggrivating incident and my current trees have protection in place.

The other tree I planted was a Bergeson Ash. This went in the backyard. I guess this is sort of a replacement tree, also, as I have been cutting out a lot of pine trees from the yard. I have many, many conifers in the yard and comparatively few deciduous trees. I am aiming for more of the deciduous type and here is a start.

All of these plants will be a welcome addition to my little domain. If only I could get them fifteen remaining cedars in the ground.

A photo is still hence coming, once all of the plants are in the ground.

Still Trying to Obtain a Quick Release

Sadly, I'm still searching for a quick release for my Slik Ball Head. After much investigating on many photography forums, I came away somewhat confused. Different releases for different folks, I guess. At any rate, I finally decided on the Slick DG-L Quick Release. I was getting conflicting info on the forums, so I simple chose a matching release from Slik after talking to a rep from THK Photo Products. They recommended I order the DQ-L Quick-Release Adapter Set from B&H Photo.

So, about last Saturday, I broke down and tried to place an order for the quick release set. B&H said the product was not currently in stock. Bummer. Then, Monday I receive an email from B&H and they said the product was now in stock. They encouraged me to resubmit my order, which I immediately did. Today, B&H sends me another email stating -

"We regret to inform you that due to a system error the ordered merchandise is not in stock.

We apologize for this inconvenience"

There seems to be no other U.S. supplier I can order this from. I found a supplier from the U.K. but, was hoping to order from the U.S., thinking shipping would be much more reasonable. I guess I am still on the trek in search of a quick release for my ball head!

Change Colors in an Instant

A new feature of Paint Shop Pro in version XI is the 'Color Changer'. Here I tried a tutorial for using that tool. I chose a photo which would make the color change both easy and noticeable. Above is my original photo of an exterior wall. Below is the new version with the brick half turned to bright red.

This tutorial was fun and again extremely easy to do. I do believe, however, that this would not always be the case. If your photo had less definition or contrast. Or many colors, shades, or hues then my guess would be that substantially more effort would be involved. I don't know this for sure but, will experiment further some day.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Planting the final Border

My wife was kind enough to find more chores for me to do today. Here are forty-two or forty-three new cedars she purchased for me (to put in the ground). Also, a couple of trees. Thank you, honey. Last year I planted about 50 of them on two sides of my front yard. We couldn't plant the last side because we bought all the cedars that the greenhouse had. I guess we needed to plant the remaining border.

The plants are pictured here before they went in the ground. I know it doesn't look like forty plants but, trust me there are actually more than forty. I only got some of them in today. I will take pictures of them when they are all in the ground. Hopefully tomorrow.

Blogger Problem

Wow, there seems to be a new error in Blogger! It's, suddenly, not letting me add titles to my posts. Oh hell, after about 15 attempts, it's now working. Ah, got my title in and tried again to check for consistency. It's not allowing me to enter anything into the title field again.

Music Trivia 16

What 80's song starts like this -

A long time ago came a man on a track
Walking thirty miles with a pack on his back
And he put down his load where he thought it was the best
Made a home in the wilderness
He built a cabin and a winter store
And he plowed up the ground by the cold lake shore

and who performed it?

Whoa, you're good Sunni

Sunni Kay correctly said...

Telegraph Road - Dire Straits

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Add Depth of Field to Your Photos

Here, I followed the 'Add Depth of Field to Your Photos' Tutorial at the Corel website. I must say, at the onset, that I was very disappointed. While, I welcome all other additions to the newest version (PSPP XI), This one just doesn't make the grade. Ironically, this is the one feature I was most looking forward to. If you use the default settings with this tool it is quick and very, easy. If you don't use the defaults, it becomes tedious, time-consuming, and sometimes frustrating. And usually v...e...r...y..., v...e...r...y... slooooow! The problem is, that the default settings can seldom be used. To truly get this effect right it must be customized to your individual image. With that out of the way, there may be some rare times when this tool would be useful. During these moments it may be appreciated.

As far as the tutorial goes, it is quite straight forward. Open your image and then open the
Depth of Field Dialog Box. You the select your area of focus. This is where it starts to get tricky and this tool needs some refinement, here. Once you get your area selected there are a couple of controls you may use to refine the area and the effect. You may set the amount of blur and you have a couple of choices in the shape of your aperture. Also, you may feather your edge for this effect and finally, you may adjust the size of your selection.

I wanted to emphasis the menu in this photo. Adjusting the depth of field allows me to do so by throwing the other elements out of focus. I used to do this sort of effect manually in older versions of Paint Shop Pro and was looking forward to an easier way. Sadly, the new method is not easier and can actually be slower and more frustrating. Give it a try and you decide. Maybe you will have a better experience than I.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sandstone County * Episode Fifty-Eight

Sandstone County Sheriffs Department - To Serve, To Protect, To Get Rid of All Dirtbag Criminals by 2026

Officer Hidrent is once again setting his priorities. It seems things have been slow in Sandstone County lately, and he started perusing some important cold case files, after an evening of watching a TV show of the same name. The popular TV show has given him the bug.

After, scouring through hundreds of files he selected the 'Case of the Ironman Poodle'. Of all that he studied, this is the file he deemed most important.

About 50 years ago (we have been unable to obtain the exact date) a visiting citizen had left her poodle tied to a parking meter on Main Street. During her shopping spree the pooch managed to damage some city property, namely the parking meter. A local resident managed to snap a picture of the event, as it happened. She sent the photo to the local newspaper which published it the following week. When the mayor saw the photo he went wild and demanded the legal authorities contact the responsible party. Of course, the visitor was long gone, by the time all this expired and the culprit was never caught.

Today, Officer Hidrent is on the job. His superiors say he is very, dedicated to this case and assure us that dilegence is the word for a case this important. Officer Hidrent himself was not available for comment.