Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Friday, January 27, 2012

I Love This

This is something I have been wanting to do for a couple of years as I think it is so cool.  This couple of Canadian Kids just sent a styrofoam cooler with 3 still cameras and a video camera to the edge of space using a weather balloon and cellphone as a tracking device.  The results were great.  I think I am going to try something similar once I get settled in down here.  I love seeing kids doing something like this rather than sitting in the house playing video games.  Just think, they have more of a Space Program going than NASA does now!   Here is a link to their story and a video (story and video)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Phobia

Well, I have really let my 2 blog fans (hi Dad, hi Sis) down this week with the lack of posts.  I have been at the house in NC in a frenzy of activity trying to fix things, clean things and make room for my move back next month.  My photographic Zen state has been elusive as a result.  I just finished putting down laminate flooring in part of the house and will be refinishing old hardwood floors in the rest of the house.  To make matters much worse this week I broke a molar and was told by the dentist today that I have to have it removed.  The only thing I fear in this life is the dentist and now I have to go to an oral surgeon when I come back in 2 weeks to get an 'extraction'.  It will be a first for me so I can hardly wait.  In the meantime I have a bottle of antibiotics and a bottle of pain killers to hold me over.  Back to Baltimore in the morning.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cold and Blustery

It's a cold and blustery day here in Baltimore.  Tomorrow I drive down to the warm tropics of NC.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Night Vision

Well, this was a surprise.  I just finished comparing a Bushnell Generation 1 night vision scope ($199.00) with a toy Spy Gear night vision scope ($34.00) and, in my opinion, the Spy Gear is much better.  They use different technologies with the Bushnell using an image intensifier tube and the Spy Gear using a CMOS sensor (think cheap digital camera with the infrared filter removed). 

Given the same amount of IR illumination the 'toy' blew away the Bushnell and showed much more sensitivity to IR light.  The Spy Gear had a brighter and clearer image although pixelated due to the low resolution (probably 640 x 480).  The only pluses for the Bushnell are the rugged body and the 2.5x magnification (which you may or may not want).  Also, in very low light with no IR illumination, the Bushnell gives a better image.  With any IR illumination at all, even very low levels, the Spy Gear shines.  They both use AA batteries with the Bushnell using 2 and the Spy Gear using 4.  I did find that the Bushnell would not power up with NiMH batteries, only with Alkalines.

I am shocked in a good way.  Nice to know that I can pay $30 to get better performance than a $200 scope which is specifically made for night vision.  Spy Gear has another similar scope that is not as fancy looking but is only $11.00 on Amazon.  I am going to get one to see if it has the same electronics as their $35.00 model.  The only way to get better performance than both the Spy Gear or Bushnell Gen 1 scopes would be to go to a Generation 2 ($1000) or Generation 3 ($3000) night vision scope.  I have seen online where people have taken the toy scope and have removed the sensor and electronics which are tiny and have put them in real small enclosures.  The toy enclosure is only for show to look cool.  I am going to try this next and will even try to attach a sensor to a rifle scope to see how that works.  Easy to play with the cost being so low.

Spy Gear on the left, Bushnell on the right.

This is from the Bushnell

This is from the Spy Gear

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I drove 100 miles each way to check out this truck that my stepson found online.  He just got his drivers license and we are looking for his first vehicle and being a country boy, a truck is his only interest.  When I drove down to this little used car dealership in Virginia and asked to see the truck the salesman's first words were "you don't want that piece of shit".  He proceeded to show me the extensive rusting in the rear of the truck.  In places there were 3 inch holes all the way through the frame.  He was right.  I didn't want that piece of shit.  My whole drive back to Baltimore I just kept shaking my head and saying "An honest used car salesman?  What is this world coming to?"

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012


This is my personal Belly Dancer.  She dances for me every night after dinner.  When I was raised by Bedouin in the Arabian Desert we would have 10 or 20 Belly Dancers entertaining us every night.  Oh, those were the days.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Airport Fun

I'm just sitting here at the Raleigh Durham Airport waiting on my flight to Baltimore.  My photography has been real lame lately due to my life being so busy living in 2 cities, fixing a flooded house and getting ready to move.  I'm also very busy working on getting my home to be somewhat self-sufficient with all that entails.  I am one of many Americans who are getting nervous about things and who feel like the economy could eventually crash.  The huge amount of government debt that is accumulating is unsustainable.  Oh well, I just plan on being as prepared as possible.

Sent from my Samsung smartphone on AT&T

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Emergency Solar Power

The beginnings of an emergency solar backup system.  This one will consist of two solar panels, one charge controller, one 110ah 12 Volt AGM battery, a Trimetric system monitor and a 1000 watt pure sine wave inverter.  I will be expanding it to 4 panels and 4 batteries in the near future.  It will run some lights, fans and electronics for longer periods plus high draw items like a microwave or power tools for real short periods.  This will be in addition to a gas generator which will mainly be used to quickly charge the solar battery bank if needed.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

On the Road Again

I will be back on the road again in the morning as I head back down to NC for the week.  As usual, I can hardly wait to get out of Baltimore but the weeks are counting down.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Those Straws are Trouble

That is Danielle on the left.  I think she has had too much to drink as she is desperately chasing that straw around in pursuit of some more.  When I am that intoxicated I just dispense with the straw and gulp it down:o)