Archive for January, 2008

Playing w/ Photoshop

Now that Photoshop CS3 is here, I figured I should probably play with some of the features. Photographic retouching is something I’ve often seen a need for, but never had any real idea how to do it. Google it, and there are about a million tutorials, and every single one of them goes about it differently. Ask on a photography forum, and you get still more suggestions. After doing all of the above, I went ahead and messed around with different bits and pieces of all the advice I’ve had on the subject. The photo here is the first attempt, and I’d say I’m happy with the results.

One feature half understood, about 32,000 to go.

Photoshop CS3!

Today’s mail-drop ruled, namely because the package from home with Photoshop CS3 inside made it in once piece! I’ll have to activate it over the phone, since I don’t have internet access with my Macbook Pro, but whatever. I guess now I need to go take another billion photos, and start teaching myself how to use Photoshop. Figuring out where it fits into my ‘workflow’ is probably also a good idea, but I think I’ve got that all sorted out well enough.

Luggage = Bought

Dropped a little money again today, on mounting hardware and 30L side cases for my SV650SK5. Hopefully the installation is simple and straight forward, but I somehow doubt I’ll be that lucky. At the least, I’m assuming that I will get the opportunity to relocate my external shock reservoir for my Penske 8981 rear shock. Considering the factory exhaust was much larger that the M4 I currently sport, I don’t think I’ll have a problem with clearance there, but I might. One way or another, the cases I have, will mount to my bike.

Between the side cases, my luggage locker, and my tank bag, I think I should have plenty of space to pack for my trip around the country. I should even be able to secure my camera, pistol, and laptop, and keep them all relatively safe from the elements and any of the other hazards associated with life on two wheels. My mastery in the fine art of tying stuff to solid objects with 550 cord should further expand my storage abilities, but I don’t really think I’ll need to resort to all of that. I can probably fit all my clothes in the luggage locker, and everything I want locked up in something solid in the side cases.

Starting to Pack

Day 320

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

Today I went to the PX and paid $18 for a filthy, flimsy, plastic footlocker. A few hours later, and after an encounter with a water hose, it was full of the extraneous civilian junk I packed for no good reason. During OIF3, I mailed a similar box back home, to limit the amount of crap I have to carry back to the states. I’m doing the same thing this time around, only my goal is to have as little to hand carry as possible – and virtually nothing I won’t be turning back in at CIF in my possession when I get back. That should all help me get out of the Army as quickly as possible once we redeploy.

Been a while

Day 316

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

I know I’m not very good at keeping this up to date anymore, I get caught up in other projects and forget all about this. Last week, it was the third redesign of my photography site – which will probably undergo some minor revisions in the following days. I’m happy with the layout, the content (for now), and the flow – but there are a few things being on the slowest internet known to man has helped me see, and I’ll be addressing those shortly.

Work, and the site redesign, kind of kept me from watching the New Hampshire progress, so no super long discussion about that. I did catch a few things in the following days that illustrated to me the fickle nature of the mainstream media. One day someone might as well jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, and after a narrow win, they’re the second coming. What I will say, is that I’m quite pleased with the continued lack of support for Giuliani. Given that we, as Americans, have been faced with choosing the lesser of two evils for my entire life – it would be grand to have the greatest of two evils (Clinton and Giuliani) removed from contention long before the general election.

In other news, today I received my sixteenth anthrax vaccination. two full series, plus four random shots. At this point, the shot only burns for a second before my body recognizes that I’m 43% anthrax now, and rejoices at the addition of more of the toxin. Considering the short window of time the Army has left to use me as a pin cushion, I really don’t care anymore. Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll be getting any more vaccinations for a really long time when I finally get out. By now, I should be immune to pretty much everything on the planet – twice over.

It is cold, so cold that there was a nice coat of ice on everything this morning (and I’ll get a photo of it tomorrow if there’s a weather repeat). Playing guitar in the cold generally sucks, but I haven’t played in way too long – so I think I’m going to get off the computer and go fix that.

Iowa in review

Iowa has proven to me that the mainstream media is out of sync with America, and quite probably reality too. Prove me wrong, because I would love to believe special interests, greed, and fame have not driven a stake into the heart of journalism. Sadly, it seems objective reporting is a thing of the past, and pushing an agenda is what drives major media coverage. If it is an agenda that needs pushing, why let the big boys have all the fun? With Iowa’s Caucuses behind us now, I dare say it is officially match time. Hold the gloves, I’ll go this one bare knuckles.

As I’ve already reported, Barak Obama won the Democratic Caucuses, and Mike Huckabee won the Republican Caucuses. All my other post covers however, are the numbers, the results, a black and white snapshot of the overall outcome. The other post, is about as objective as you can get. Admittedly, objectivity can be rather boring, but let’s not deny that the public deserves the raw data, free of opinion. There is, after all, a reason the opinion page exists.

For months, the voting public has heard our major media outlets make their predictions, and stake their claims for this election season. Were the public to blindly follow those predictions, and turn out in the primary elections to vote without conducting any of their own research, the results would have been quite a lot different. Flipping my brain solidly to the off position for a moment, to facilitate regurgitation of what I’ve learned from the news, Clinton should have solidly taken the Democratic Caucuses, with Giuliani strongly leading the Republican Caucuses. Back in the on position, something the people of Iowa are clearly using, we see quite a different picture.

In a state with no minority population to speak of, a black man with a name that some associate with Islamic extremism (through some fit of ignorance), has passed the party sweetheart (sic), and a hair salon’s dream client. On the other side of the isle, the republicans of Iowa voted a much debated Southern Baptist minister as their choice. In fact, they voted practically the entire field ahead of the conservative media darling, Rudy Giuliani. While I can not claim to read minds, perhaps Iowa voters were sending a message to the rest of the republicans in America – one that should be plainly obvious to anyone able to read, or conduct research at the level we expect of fifth graders around the world – Rudy Giuliani is no more a republican than Ted Nugent is a vegan.

Rudy Giuliani can take credit for doing much to reduce crime in New York. He can take credit for handling the aftermath of the worst attack on our nation, and his city, as well as any other man or woman could have – and bette than most likely would have. He can not, however, claim to be a republican. His views, and history, are as opposed to the platform on which the republican party stands as anything found on the democrat side of the isle. With as much time as he has spent in Florida, maybe he just got confused and checked the wrong box when he announced his candidacy as a republican.

Democrats in the Iowa Caucuses looked at a tight race, at least among the top three contenders. While Barak Obama did lead John Edwards by 8%, the split between John Edwards and Hillary Clinton was a mere 1%. When the counting was done, the top three took up roughly a third of their party’s vote each. Perhaps most interesting was the totally opposed turnout along the age demographic. Youth voters turned out on the democratic ticket, and they voted for Barak Obama, so did the women. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, ran away with the senior vote.

In a stark contrast, the republican field was far wider spread. Mike Huckabee led Mitt Romney by 9%. Mitt Romney led Fred Thompson by 12%. Fred Thompson led John McCain by less than 1000 votes (not even a full percent), and Ron Paul by 3%. The gaps widen from there, with Rudy Giuliani trailing Ron Paul by 6%. Let that digest for a minute and read it again. Rudy Giuliani, a man who has seen the front page more often than The Pope, trailed Ron Paul by 6%. Chances are, there still is not a lot of meaning to those words, and I can understand that as you stand a good chance of having never heard of Ron Paul if you look to the mainstream media for your information.

To be fair (and balanced…) Fox news did actually mention Ron Paul today, in fact two of the Fox News Channel anchors mentioned him. This is not the first time he’s been mentioned, but it was the first time the mention came out of what may have actually been respect for his campaign. Of course, one of the anchors did make it very clear that “he won’t be President,” making me wonder if she would be so kind as to send this SGT the winning numbers to the next Texas Lottery. There was a hint of redemption to be had when the very same anchor made the case that he should definitely be included in an upcoming debate on FNC, he did manage 10% of Iowa’s republican voters after all.

Ladies and gentlemen, the race has really begun now. With more at stake than anytime in most of our lives, if you’re of voting age you owe it to the country (and honestly, the world) to register and cast an educated vote. Assuming you remember anything from government class, remember the way our representative democracy is framed. Take into account things like rule of law, checks and balances, and something I swore to protect and defend – The Constitution of the United States of America. Then ask yourself, which candidate has proven to understand our framework, and has a record of upholding it even in the face of adversity? I can not make up your mind for you, but my vote for Ron Paul is already in the mail. Unfortunately, my ballot is an absentee ballot, and from an active duty serviceman. The chances of it being counted, are about the same as winning that lottery I mentioned earlier.

Iowa by the numbers

In Iowa’s Democratic Caucuses, Barak Obama came out ahead with 38% of the vote. Trailing behind were both John Edwards (30%) and Hillary Clinton (29%) in a near tie between second and third. Bill Richardson (2%) trailed far behind in fourth place, with Joe Biden (1%) in fifth. Chris Dodd (0%) announced his withdrawal from the bid for President.

Iowa’s Republican Caucuses were led by Mike Huckabee (34%) for a win over a second place Mitt Romney (25%). Few votes, less than enough for a full percentage point, stood between third place Fred Thompson (13%) and fourth place John McCain (13%). In fifth, Ron Paul (10%) led sixth place Rudy Giuliani (4%). Duncan Hunter (1%) trailed in seventh place.

Day 308

Day 308

Originally uploaded by Anthony J. Martinez

Sat outside and played some guitar on a surprise day off. Clearly I was born in the wrong decade, because I continuously write songs that would have been Top 40 hits in the 70′s. Perhaps that’s a product of the music I listen too, but people always say you write what you feel. If that’s the case, I’m also quite clearly some sort of hopeless romantic (at least as far as lyrics go.) No doubt about it, I’d have competed directly with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page for groupies in the 70′s.

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