• 28 Oct 2010 /  Parenting, Things I Like

    Declan recently wrote a Halloween story for a local homeschooler group. They decided not to publish his story on their site because it referenced weapons (no restrictions were stated up front), so I’m publishing it here:

    by Declan Chase-Salerno, age 7

    A guy in black with another guy gave the man in black some dynamite in a bush, but he didn’t blow anything up with it yet, and then one of the good guys said, We have to take the man in black to the statue factory, (“His name isn’t important!”).  None of the other guys knew what that would do.  When you move, he disappears.  Then we stood still, and he shot wooden carts with weapons at us, and my mom grabbed on to me and jumped over all the carts.  And then we dodged the carts, which led us to our barn, and then we hid in there for a while.  And then we found the guys that gave the man in black some dynamite, and we asked if it was fake dynamite, and he said no, and we said why did you give him real dynamite, and the man in black hypnotized him to do it, because he owns a dynamite factory.  Then, he wanted to help us get the man in black, but we still couldn’t catch him, we didn’t have enough guys, And then we got our dog, Casey, to help us find him.  She barks a lot when she sees someone.  And then we found him, but he disappeared when we even moved a step.  So we went to upstairs in my house, and we got some guns to get him to surrender, but they still didn’t work.  He had a machine gun.  And then they got the police to help them, and the police got the sheriff’s department, the army, and that still wasn’t enough, until the army invented a new weapon, the disintegrator, but that still didn’t work, because his armor was stronger than anything.  Then we got him to a statue factory, but that didn’t stop him because he broke out of the steel case.  Because he was so strong, he broke out, and he also had fists made of pointy steel.  Then the army got the military that invented a new gun called the Hypnotizer but he had hypnotizing-proof glasses, that still didn’t stop him, so they had to set off the dynamite while he was still holding it, like in cartoons.  Until a good ghost came to help us and called all of his ghost friends, and they wanted to help, and the military called a weapons specialist, Agent G, and he invented a gadget that could read people’s minds and we could know his plan and stop it, and we would know where his base is.  And the ghosts called a ninja force, and they helped them, until they met the Super Penguin.  Which could peck people’s heads off.  But he had an indestructible helmet that the Super Penguin couldn’t peck.  Until they chased him to Canada and his armor fell off while he was running, all his armor, it turned out he was very skinny and weak, and they destroyed his base, and then they had a campfire and roasted weenies.
    The End.

    Quinny also wrote one, but hers was deemed OK:

    Last Night There Was 3 Girls And 2 Puppies Who Woke Up
    by Quinn Chase-Salerno, age 4

    Last night, three little girls woke up, and then the serious one said, “What happened?”  And then the three little puppies woke up, and one barked at someone, and then they saw a little spooky thing, then they turned into spies, then killed him, and then they all went in the dark and brought a flashlight and then the 3 little girls weren’t scared except the serious girl wasn’t scared, and the 2 little puppies weren’t scared either, then they saw something that was creeping slow and had a shell on top and it was a turtle.  And then they put their flashlight in their pocket then it was daytime then they weren’t scared again.  Then they went back home and saw a little black thing it was their brother.  And then there was a kitty that went back.  And the kitty wasn’t scared either.
    The End.

    Great stories Guys!


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  • 08 May 2009 /  Firearms, Things I Like

    So, Montana (which I now completely love and am making plans to move to) has recently enacted a new law. You can read about it here, but the upshot is that federal firearms laws do not apply to in-state manufactured and owned firearms and accessories. For example, a suppressor (often known as a silencer) manufactured in Montana, and owned by a resident of Montana, would not need to be federally registered as they are now.

    Since Montana appears to have The Constitution on their side, 10th ammendment state’s rights issues and all that, it will be very telling to see what the federal government does here.

    I’ll be making popcorn, and packing all my stuff.



  • 10 Mar 2009 /  Tech, Things I Like

    I’ve recently moved our photo hosting operation over to SmugMug . Up until recently I’ve been using a local webserver with a statically generated BINS photo album. That combination worked quite well, but scalability was a bit lacking, and there’s no tagging facility. Not to mention that I need to leave my machine on all the time. SmugMug addresses those issues quite well. It also essentially provides an off-site backup of your photos and videos (with the $60/yr plan).

    I began using F-Spot to manage the photo uploads from the camera, and from our previous archive, and to do all the tagging. Then F-Spot can directly upload to Smugmug. Everything works pretty well except for the tagging. F-spot stores the tags in the “Subject” field of the EXIF data, while SmugMug looks for them in the “Keywords” field. As a result the photos on SmugMug had no tags. Sad Clown.

    Once the problem was discovered, with some help from SmugMug’s forum, a little Googling revealed an almost fix in this blog entry. There was a slight problem where it was munging multiple tags into a single multi-word tag, but that was easily fixed via the -b flag, or -sep on newer versions of exiftool. The version in Ubuntu 8.10 still uses -b but try -sep if that doesn’t work on yours.

    So the following command successfully copies the Subject fields contents over top of the (empty) Keywords field. Since the path restricts it to a single month, it doesn’t take too long, and everything is peachy afterwards.

    exiftool -overwrite_original -r -P -b -“IPTC:Keywords<XMP:subject”  ~/Photos/2009/02/

    Incidentally if you decide to sign up for SmugMug, you can get a $5 discount with my referral code: Wo6AztZyF7W7I

    Yes, I get a kickback too.


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  • 18 Jan 2009 /  Firearms, Tech, Things I Like

    One of the greatest things about the AR15 weapons platform is its modularity. You can take a standard AR lower receiver and slap a huge variety of upper receivers onto it. With a 30 second change, you can completely change the function of the weapon. You can go from a 10″ barreled close combat carbine, to a 16″ all purpose carbine, to a 24″ sniper or varmint rifle. You can even change the caliber from a .22 long rifle plinker/trainer all the way up to a .50 BMG long range “concrete is no longer considered cover” monster.

    Well at this year’s Shot Show, PSE introduced something that really breaks the paradigm of what the AR can do. They’ve announced the TAC-15 AR crossbow upper. Yes you read that right, and here’s a pic to prove it.


    Much like the spray pancake batter, I’m not sure if this is incredibly awesome or incredibly stupid. It seems to be quite long compared to a normal crossbow, though with the limb design, it’s narrower. I’m just not sure there’s  much advantage to slapping a crossbow on top of an AR lower. A crossbow isn’t considered a firearm, so it’s not like you have to go through the 4473 dance to get one and given it’s relative size, it just doesn’t seem that much smaller than just having a whole crossbow ready to go. At $1299 it’s no cheaper than a standard crossbow either.

    Still, it’s neat and I want one.


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  • 19 Dec 2008 /  Doom, Things I Like

    I have yet to decide if this is the greatest thing ever, or the sign of the end of days. I saw this product at the store this morning when I ran out to get a couple of things. It’s called Batter Blaster, and it’s basically pancake batter in a whipped cream container. Yes, you read that right. Want a pancake? Spray one out. How about a couple of waffles? Knock yourself out. No waste and no dirty dishes. You only use what you need and save the rest for later. Its certainly got a lot of awesome going for it, but there’s something that just feels wrong about spray pancakes. Spray cheese I’m ok with, but I’m just not sure I can handle this. However, if I could somehow rig it up to spray through a propane torch to deliver a continuous stream of cooked pancakey goodness, I might be able to learn to accept it. Maybe I could mount it to a hat next to my single slice bacon cooker and dispenser. Yum!

    Oh and the kicker? Yes, you read the label correctly, it’s organic!