Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's a dog's life

General demeanor of Guava while being tortured by children (no sound with this video because I'm currently limping along with a fairly neat phone, the HTC Trophy, which unfortunately is rendered all but useless by Microsoft's corresponding Zune software and its fatal sync error, meaning I get video but no sound, and no JPG syncing at all):
Cay was cooing this morning (with respect to the dogs), "These are my children.  I've got a boy, and a girl."

She does for the moment, at least, as we continue to look for a home for this mild-mannered and highly tolerant pup.
We can dance, but we can't sync.
La la la...
Once you fail to sync with Zune, it's Game Over, because Windows Phone doesn't provide you with any other alternative.  It's back to the Verizon store, and my Droid should be FEDEX'd to me by Tuesday.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Heroes: Porn Free (Larry Flynt)

Porn free
As free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Porn free to follow your heart

In my case, to follow my heart is to worship the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Correspondingly, I admire those whose efforts have validated our Constitutional rights with respect to it.  Larry Flynt is at the very top of that list of trailblazers.
Brazos Bookstore in Houston,
July 27, 2011
I've scandalized Cayley in expressing my admiration for Mr. Flynt and his efforts.  While I've explained to her repeatedly that my interest is in the free speech component of his social contribution, and that I have neither experience with nor interest in pornography, she hasn't yet been able to see past Mr. Flynt's livelihood.  She declined to accompany us to his local book-signing last night for fear that it would expose her to "porn people", but check out the audience:
Free of porn:
A fairly average collection of bookish Americans,
mostly of Baby Boomer age, conservatively dressed, and fairly dull - just like me!
Now if I could only convince her to watch Mr. Flynt's biography with me...
...because THAT is reality; that is a depiction of historical events showing America at it's finest.  A movie like that is so much more than simple creative drama which is entertaining, sure, but fairly mindless and idealistic when compared with the depth and complexity of real life (coincidentally, the Born Free movie was produced within a year of the incorporation of Mr. Flynt's first business enterprises):

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Stock stats: Plumbing the pageviews

Ah, the mysteries of Google.  I've mentioned before and originally, complete with evidentiary screengrab, that our main stock tank gardening post had reached number one on the internet for that subject matter, but noted that its ranking depends on a number of factors only known to Google itself.

We know, for instance, that Google has a strong geographic influence built into its engine: the closer you are to the source of content, the higher it is likely to rank in your search.

Statcounter has added a feature by which they show you what your hit ranked in many users' returns, where such information is obtainable.  With that in mind, I decided that I'd roughly compare the distance from the source (Houston) versus the ranking presented to a collection of individuals who searched for this content within the past month.  This is only a rough comparison, though, because not every searcher used the same search string, and not all of these pageviews took place on the same day :
Houston - ninth.
Right here in League City - sixth.
Lake Jackson (about 50 miles from here) - first,
but it may have been a repeat load because they
appear to have called the post by name.

Austin (about 200 miles) - fourth.
Lakeside, California - first.
Again, it looks like they searched the post by name.
Murrieta, California - sixth,
and this user has pageloaded on multiple dates.
Often there is no referring link,
which suggests that these folks have
bookmarked the site from a previous visit
or were emailed the URL from someone,
or saw it published somewhere.
Sometimes the search string matches
the blog entry title,
suggesting that these users either
know the name from somewhere else,
or read about the post in an un-linked document.
Unfortunately, Bing does not yield
useful ranking information
the way Google does.
But back to Google.
Minneapolis - fourth,
and this user didn't even use
the key phrase "stock tank".
Google is smart enough to know that
"cattle tank" and "stock tank"
refer to the same item.
MO City (about 30 miles from here) - first,
but they also knew the title words.
Well, yeah, first, but that might have been Lawrence.
But previously he'd reported to me a lower ranking
when the post was accessed from JSC
versus from our home ISP address.
Ohio - sixth, without using
the search term "garden".
New York - fifth.
North Carolina and Rohnert Park CA -
ninth apiece on the same day,
using different search strings.
I notice that international pageloads
are less thoroughly parsed.
No referring link from Bangkok?
Possibly a previous viewer who had bookmarked?
Italy, by way of an image search
for stock tank gardens.
Google does not rank those.
India - the user's search string is provided,
but no ranking.  I guess they don't collate
the ranking results
from different incorporations of Google.
Anyway, so one can see some slight hints of geographic-specific ranking, in that users closer to Houston tended to see the post ranked higher than those farther away.  I've got too many unconstrained variables here to parse the data further, but it's certainly not overwhelmingly based on geography: one here in Houston user saw the post ranked ninth, while one in California saw it as the top-ranked, apparently due to differing specificity in search terminology.  Search terminology can obviously out-weigh geography.

And that's about all the interest I have to devote to this particular nerdy topic.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some shooting shots

Lawrence said, "This is you, happily blowing that guy's head off."
This is Lawrence:
My 5-year-old cell phone is not capable
of taking very good pics.
This is one of Lawrence's targets after shooting:
This was with a .22 designed for target practice.
Designed for ease of use.
Any questions?

This was the most popular T-shirt in the store, which was Top Gun Range of Texas, where I took my CHL classes about six years ago:
Some in my native land may not
understand this mentality.
Try living through
the largest evacuation in American history -
 THEN you'll understand perfectly.
Lest We Forget:
A small fraction of the three million people who
vainly attempted to flee Hurricane Rita in 2005.
And actually, our range outing this morning reminded me of a magazine I saw recently in my barber's waiting room, which I also snapped a pic of with my crummy phone:
I MMS'd this shot to Lawrence and he replied, "Are you kidding me?!  Is there an actual magazine with a name like that, or is that a fake photo?!"

No, it's real.  I guess there's a fair number of other folks out there who also enjoy the duality of creating some stuff and blowing other stuff up.  And oh, incidentally?  Their tag line seems to be "Soul of the South".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The company we keep

Why do we vacation in the same spot every year?

Well, primarily it's to see Grandaddy Canada, but in addition to that, it's to enjoy the magnificence of the place in which I was fortunate enough to have been born.  For the third year in a row, Cape Breton has been voted the top island destination in North America...
Screengrabbed from:
...and the third-best island destination in the entire world, out-ranking places like several Hawaiian islands and the Galapagos:
Screengrabbed from: 
Of course, that's just one travel magazine's vote tabulation, but it doesn't stop there.  National Geographic named it as one of their "drives of a lifetime" and the list of awards goes on, if only I had the time to tabulate it, which I don't.

Anyway, when I see things like that, I marvel at my own statistics, and wonder how any one person could have been so cumulatively lucky in life.  I grew up on one of the most beautiful islands in the world, was educated in the second-highest ranked undergraduate university in Canada and then the thirteenth highest-ranked university in America (depending on whose compilation you listen to), and moved into prosperity here in greater Houston, assembling a limitless career and the greatest possible family.  Last week, Lawrence was asking me if I feel yet like I've given back sufficiently to the world that spawned me.  Answer:  an emphatic no.  I'm not sure what I could possibly manage to give back that would be on par with all that I have been lucky enough to receive.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The key of C

Believe it or not, I did manage to open Cayley's mind to one of my favorite movies of all time:  Ferris Bueller's Day Off, a John Hughes classic so loved that even a fan's recut trailer got over a half million views on YouTube (the original trailer was crap, failing to capture the essence of the film it was intended to promote).

Ferris' $8,000 synthesizer was reportedly an Emulator:
But that was 1985, and this is 2011, when one can purchase a machine with about a hundred times the Emulator's capability for less than 5% of its original price:
We spent some time last night trying to make it replicate the famous cough scene from the movie, which has apparently been all but stripped from the internet due to copyright infringement.  The internet is littered with other Bueller clips, but not that one.  The best I could do was locate an audio recording of one of those scenes here: Ferris plays "The Blue Danube" on his keyboard using sampled coughs and sick sounds.

So we couldn't make it cough and we couldn't make it fart, but it has a few hundred other voices:
OK, laughing, nothing radical about that.
Car pass??  And if that's too mild for you... can always make it go BOOM.
Demonstrating once again the strange priorities we hold as a society, it's acceptable  for a keyboard to emulate a machine gun, but not a bodily function common to everyone.
Anyway, we hope to find some good intro piano lessons for Miss Cayley.  In the mean time, we can amuse ourselves extensively with the cheap wonders of technology in a keyboard that probably has more computing capability than the entire Apollo space program.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Can(a)d(a)id Camera

One in a million to us, but one in a hundred in this particular public assembly.  
That good-lookin' guy in the lower left hand corner is none other than Grandaddy Canada!!
Enjoy the video:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dancing dogs

"When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

In this case, the teacher would seem to be beagle-sized.  This stray appears to be an unusually quick study for a dog that seems to have had very little socialization prior to the past couple of days of Cesar-inspired gentle assertive handling.  Here's hoping we can find him a good home.