Monday, December 31, 2012

How to Install the #Instagram #Android App on a Personal Computer (#Windows / #Mac OS X)*

There is no room for smartphone/tablet technology among my regular expenses.  I do not like spending a lot of money on the latest gadgets, and I do not want to spend any more than $6.67 a month on a phone/data plan.  If I did subscribe to a big phone bill, I might as well order cable/satellite, which I think I should because I miss watching basketball games on TV on a regular basis -- but that's another story.  I do, however, have a couple of burner phones to make me feel like an outlaw/fugitive/vigilante superhero (a poor man's Batman) with multiple phone numbers with multiple area codes.

Anyhow, I like trying out various social networks, and privacy policy controversies aside, I like Instagram.  I am on Instagram, even though I do not technically have an iOS or Android device, since either operating system is required for the Instagram app.  I use a personal computer -- which might sidestep the mobile device requirement to upload photos, but I use a MacBook (purchased on eBay for cheap), which is basically a mobile device, is it not?  (I bought an extra battery to make it pretty darn mobile!)  How does one install the Instagram app on a personal computer?


If you use a recent version of Windows, the answer is simple:  Just install BlueStacks, which creates an Android operating system installation within Windows, kind of like a pocket universe (Android), mostly accessible from the main universe (Windows), without having to reboot the computer.  With BlueStacks, you can download and install Instagram with a few mouse clicks.

While BlueStacks lets you access Android directly from Windows, I have found some apparent limitations.  To use Instagram, you need to take a picture from Instagram (I don't know if a PC webcam is compatible), or use a file on hand.  I don't think you can access the Windows file system from any of the Android apps.  You might need a special app or have a better understanding of Android than I do.

As a workaround, I would send myself an email containing images I want to use.  Then I would then go to the Twitter app on BlueStacks, then I'd go to Settings, then About, then Terms of Service, which should open the default Android web browser, or give the option to do so.  I could then access my email, and download the files for use in Instagram.  (Update, 1/5/2013:  Having Dropbox installed in both the regular operating system and within BlueStacks -- via Android Drawer .apk -- is a more efficient solution.  Alternatively, if you can get it to work properly, the ES File Explorer app can provide access to your computer documents.)

Finally, I could go to the Instagram app, access any photos that have been downloaded into the Android pocket universe (operating system), crop, add a filter, then upload into my Instagram account.  And yes, you can sign up for Instagram using this emulated mobile device.

Mac OS X

I recently checked, and apparently the Mac version of BlueStacks is now in beta.  I figured out how to install Instagram using the alpha version of BlueStacks, which is tricky, buggy, and a bit convoluted.  Anyhow, I haven't tried the beta, so here are the instructions for the alpha version of BlueStacks:

I downloaded and installed the alpha of BlueStacks onto my MacBook.  Since Google Play will call you on your emulated mobile device trickery, and thus not allow you to download and install Instagram, you will have to take a chance with Android Drawer, and hopefully not download a malware-filled version of Instagram, or any other app.  Here's the to-do list:

1. Attempt to install the Instagram .apk from BlueStacks.
2. Get prompted that you'll need to upgrade your Android operating system with a download from Google, which they'll allow with your fake mobile device.
3. Download and install that Google-approved upgrade, which name escapes me, but you'll get prompted by Android, so hopefully you'll be on the right track.
4. Go back to Android Drawer to re-download Instagram.
5. Attempt to install the Instagram .apk again, which should work this time.
6. Sign up or log in to Instagram from your Mac!
Edited to add, 1/4/2013:  7.  Once signed in, go to the app's preferences, and turn off Instagram's Advanced Camera setting (go to Camera Settings), otherwise you might not be able to access your image files.

As mentioned many times previously, the alpha build of BlueStacks is pretty buggy, and Instagram is just marginally compatible with this Android pocket universe.  Here's how to more-or-less successfully upload a photo on Instagram:

1. Instagram on BlueStacks alpha will either crash or upload your photo mirrored and upside-down.  (Update, 1/4/2013:  The latest archived version of Instagram -- 3.something-or-another from the Android Drawer -- will upload the photos regularly, so you can probably disregard the flipping and the mirroring.)  (Update, 1/5/2013:  My installation of Instagram once again requires an upside-down, mirrored image to upload to my satisfaction.)  If you like that effect, that's cool.  If you don't, be sure to modify your original image, for example --

-- and use an image program, like Preview on OS X, to flip vertically (in other words, make it an upside down mirror image), like so:
2. Save and email this modified image to yourself.  You can use any browser, and use your original operating system for the above steps.
3. Now open BlueStacks.
4. Use the Twitter-browser workaround mentioned earlier (the bold paragraph) to download image files in your Android installation.
5. Open Instagram.
6. Access the Photo Gallery with the image you want to Instagram.
7. Crop, add a filter, and upload.  Using the selective focus effect will probably crash the app.
8. If all goes well, you should have a not-so-instant Instagram photo, right side up and non-mirrored: so.  Hopefully the workflow for the beta version of BlueStacks for Mac is better, with better compatibility with Instagram.  (Update, 1/4/2013:  BlueStacks for Mac Beta does not work with my particular MacBook.) In any case -- Happy New Year!

*Sorry about the hashtags in the title.  It's for Twitter's benefit (or not).

Friday, November 30, 2012

'Falling Up' #Documentary on #Vimeo (#Free to #Stream for One Day Only!)

(The hashtags in the title are for my instant posts on Twitter...and also to be weird elsewhere.)

Tomorrow at 10 PM PST, the filmmaker of Falling Up (Stephon Litwinczuk) will provide a free screening of the documentary on Vimeo.  It will be available to stream for 24 hours, but only if you have the password, which will be provided to Falling Up's fans on Facebook.

I probably mentioned it on this blog before, but my brother Jon and I wrote and produced the music for the film (other than the title track, which the filmmaker used a special program to compose).  We're excited that this film is going to be shown to a potentially wide audience!  If you can, please 'like' Falling Up's Facebook page, and watch the film on Vimeo!

Speaking of Vimeo, an earlier film that I wrote lots of music for, Élan Vital, is also on that video website, courtesy of the filmmaker Jason Loya.  Check it out:

Élan Vital from mindminer on Vimeo.

Also, on an unrelated note, I have an Instagram, so I can make my awful snapshots into something awfully pseudo-vintage.  Follow it, if you dare!  Here is my most recent upload:

Well, all right then, until next month!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A "Chord" a Day...

Guitar, standard tuning.
Sometime last summer, DeRamos Music finally got around to resurrecting our old Chord du Jour blog -- but this time, on Facebook.  At the beginning of October, we started an experiment in graphic design and music education:  We limited each design to four colors and tried to make each image a self-contained bit of music knowledge.  In other words, if a beginner musician was stuck on a deserted island with one guitar-related Chord du Jour poster and a guitar, then that person would have enough information to write and play for days or weeks or months or even an entire lonely career!  Obviously that's a lofty and overly idealistic goal, but I think some of our four-chord designs cover a lot of popular music songwriting, which says a lot about the state of popular music songwriting.

We're currently on our fifth week of these designs, which could one day fill a coffee table book, or at least fill up a redesigned Chord du Jour website.  Our goal is to have 18 weeks of these images, at five designs per week, or an entire school semester of music "lessons."  Here's a sampling of what four colors, four chords, and perhaps the truth can do:

Four guitar chords.

Four piano (keyboard) chords.

Two scales on the fretboard.

Two basic drum patterns.

Please check out our progress on Facebook:

Sunday, September 30, 2012

...and That's How You Make Man-Made Dog Poo

Kate is a picky eater.  She does not like dry dog food.  Kate will give any new food a chance for a couple of days; in fact, she'll be excited about it.  Then she'll refuse to eat it, especially if it's dry food -- cheap kibble or expensive organic bits, it matters not to Kate.  Even if I hide the dry food under a generous layer of soft food, she can sense it, and she will eat so very slowly, until she is hungry enough to eat the aforementioned dry food.  This poses a problem when it is essential to anticipate Kate's bowel movements.  (It's best to clean up after her as soon as possible, lest she eat her "food"...again.)

The only dry "food" she likes without fail are dog biscuit treats.  In the interest of having Kate eat dry food and minimizing the opening of canned dog food and overall spoiling a spoiled dog further -- I set off on a quest to turn unwanted dry food into hopefully tasty "treats" for my dog.

Using food that Kate mostly likes, I created this recipe, somewhat modified from a dog forum thread.  The forum thread no longer exists, except in Google's cache.  Anyhow, this recipe is for a single-serve blender and a bone-shaped biscuit baking tray:

Red kibble.
If you want to have a distinctive color (and perhaps flavor) for the biscuits, you can separate the different bits.  For example, a certain Kibbles 'n Bits bag contains yellow pieces, red pieces, green pieces, brown pieces, and pieces shaped like raw steaks.

Scoop two dollops of plain yogurt into the blender.

Put in about 8 oz. of dry dog kibble into the blender.
Yellow kibble.

Add a splash of water.


Cut up a banana with your hands, and add it to the blender.


Add a dollop of peanut butter.  I've found that this is important for making the cookies not smell like dog food while it is baking.


Pulse again.

Oh yeah, you might want to preheat your over at 350° F while you're mixing the ingredients.

Green kibble.
Pulse until you are certain that you have a good consistency.

Pink slime...for dogs.
Spoon into a bone-shaped mold baking tray.  This recipe should fill one tray perfectly.  If you have two trays, then you can double the recipe.  You can probably make drop biscuits from the mixture, but you'll have to figure out how long to get the ideal crispness or softness or however you want to determine if it's done.

Bake at 350° F for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Through trial and error, I found that the biscuits held its shape and felt right after baking that long.  The cookies will have a dark brown burnt color on the outside, but keep its original color (more or less) on the inside.  I can guess that smaller cookies will bake faster.

Human beings are the not target audience.
Take the tray out of the over, and let the cookies cool for a bit.  A nicely-conditioned non-stick tray should give few complications when removing the cookies.

I figure that the above recipe, which makes five biscuits, is equivalent to about one cup of unmodified dog food, so I take that into account when feeding Kate.  I don't want to overfeed my dog, and neither should you with your canine companion(s).

Kate seems to love these cookies, she eats them really fast, and hopefully she'll like them for a long time!  They're so popular, that she is starting to dislike soft canned dog food.  That's what I get for spoiling a picky dog.

Anyhow, if grinding up dog food, mixing it with other ingredients, then baking it for a period of time seems familiar -- it's basically how a mammal digests food.  Since Kate is the type of dog who sometimes likes to recycle her dinner -- when no one is looking -- maybe that's why she likes eating these cookies.

They're essentially man-made dog poo.  (Processed food for human consumption, on the other hand, is a topic for another day.)

...and that's how you make man-made dog poo.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Installing Solid State Drives on Old Laptops

Within the past couple of weeks, had a Gold Box Deal of the Day sale on two brands of solid state drives (SSDs):  Transcend (128 GB) and SanDisk (120 GB).  I purchased both drives when they were on sale, along with two USB enclosures to place the hard disk drives (HDDs) afterward.  After some (read: lots of) trial and error, I managed to upgrade a 2007 MacBook and a 2009 Acer netbook.  With the right keywords, you can Google all sorts of helpful information.  With the correct tools, all this could have been easy.

Trying to Upgrade the Netbook with the Transcend SSD:
1. Create a bootable USB stick with Linux and a disk utility.
2. Shut-down computer.
3. Boot-up computer from USB stick.
4. Resize the 160 GB HDD partition into less than 128 GB to match the SSD size.
5. Shut-down computer.
6. Boot-up computer in Windows XP.
7. Insert new SSD into USB enclosure.
8. Clone resized C: drive onto SSD.
9. Shut-down computer.
10. Remove all the guts of the netbook, down to the motherboard, to reveal the hard drive enclosure.
12. While I'm there, I might as well upgrade the RAM to its 1.5 GB capacity.
12. Remove HDD with enclosure.
13. Remove HDD from enclosure.
14. Replace SSD into enclosure.
15. Install HDD into USB enclosure.
16. Reinstall hard drive enclosure.
17. Reinstall the netbook's guts.
18. Boot-up computer.
19. Find that Windows XP won't boot from the SSD.
20. Shut-down computer.
21. Reinstall HDD (see steps 9-16).
22. Do further research to find out that XP doesn't play well with SSDs.
23. Decide to install SSD onto Macbook instead.
24. Get some consolation that an added 0.5 GB of RAM makes the slow netbook slightly less slow.

Upgrading the MacBook with the Transcend SSD:
1. Insert slightly-used SSD into USB enclosure.
2. Download and install hard drive cloning app.
3. Clone 128 GB HDD to the 128 GB SSD.
4. Shut-down computer.
5. Boot-up from external cloned SSD to check if cloning worked.
6. Shut-down computer again.
7. Remove battery pack.
8. Unscrew L-bracket.
9. Pull out original HDD with enclosure.
10. Realize I do not have a Torx T8-sized screwdriver.
11. Drive to Home Depot for a Torx T8-sized screwdriver.
12. Buy a $5 23-piece set that contains a T8 piece.
13. Drive home.
14. Remove HDD from enclosure.
15. Replace with SSD into enclosure.
16. Install HDD into USB enclosure.
17. Reinstall hard drive enclosure into the computer.
18. Reinstall L-bracket.
19. Return battery into place.
20. Boot-up from internal SSD.
21. Copy-and-paste Terminal commands to turn off unnecessary HDD-related processes.
22. Download and install TRIM-enabling app.
23. Enjoy a computer where the only noise comes from the fan.

Upgrading the Netbook with the SanDisk SSD:
1. Decide to buy a Windows 7 Home Premium 32-Bit upgrade, then clone the drive.  Or clone the drive, then install Windows 7.
2. Go to the purchase page at the Windows store.
3. Decide to online chat with a Microsoft employee.
4. Get convinced that the upgrade-clone would not work.
5. Save $120 (the price of the Windows 7 Home Premium upgrade).
6. Do not buy $200 full Home Premium retail version, either.
7. Buy system builder's full version of Home Premium for $90.
8. Scratch head why Microsoft has so many pricing levels.
9. Learn that I have to enable AHCI before installing SSD and Windows 7.
10. Shut-down computer.
11. Boot-up computer in BIOS.
12. Find no such AHCI option in BIOS.
13. Boot-up Windows XP.
14. Download and install BIOS upgrade.
15. Shut-down computer.
16. Boot-up in BIOS.
17. Find the AHCI option.
18. Find that Windows XP will no longer boot with the new BIOS.
19. Enable AHCI.
20. Shut-down computer.
21. On another Windows computer, create Windows 7 USB install stick.
22. Remove all the guts of the netbook, down to the motherboard, to reveal the hard drive enclosure.
23. Remove HDD with enclosure.
24. Remove HDD from enclosure.
25. Replace SSD into enclosure.
26. Install HDD into USB enclosure
27. Reinstall hard drive enclosure.
28. Reinstall the netbook's guts.
29. Boot-up computer from Windows 7 USB install stick.
30. Install Windows 7.
31. Boot-up Windows 7.
32. Have Microsoft see that it's a genuine copy of Windows 7.
33. Place the "Genuine Windows" sticker on the bottom of the netbook.
34. Install malware protection, as is customary on a Windows computer.
35. Install updated trackpad drivers for complete mouse movements.
36. Enjoy a computer where the only noise comes from the fan.

The Unscientific Results

> The SSD MacBook boots up in about 40 seconds, shaving about 20 seconds from the HDD version.
> The SSD Windows 7 netbook boots up in about 25 seconds, compared to a couple of minutes with the Windows XP HDD and years worth of bloatware.

> The SSD MacBook shuts down slightly faster than before.
> The SSD netbook shuts down much faster than before, with no weird memory errors (so far).

> The SSD MacBook noticeably loads apps faster than before.  It feels just as stable as before.  Too bad the current battery only lasts about an hour and a half, otherwise I'd be everywhere with this more "rugged-ized" laptop!  I'll have to buy a new battery to remedy this.
> The SSD netbook is still slow, perhaps a bit faster since it has slightly more RAM and a solid state drive.  But it's still slow and underpowered compared to the MacBook.  Once it gets running, with the browser program open, it plays on the Internet better than before (and perhaps more stable, due to the operating system upgrade).  The current (original) battery lasts about three hours.  Until I buy a new MacBook battery, the upgraded netbook will have to suffice whenever I want to watch an uninterrupted movie on Netflix in my backyard.  So far, I do not notice the size downgrade (from 160 GB to 120 GB), since I haven't really (re-)installed programs or loaded a music library like the netbook's previous incarnation.

The Old HDDs:
> The 160 GB netbook HDD still has the resized (now useless) NTFS partition, with all the netbook's old files.  In the process of resizing the C: drive, I created a FAT32 partition from the surplus space, and named the K: drive after my dog Kate.  The K: drive currently has no visible files.  At least it is in a USB enclosure for future access and use.
> The 128 GB MacBook HDD is also archived safely in a USB enclosure.  I think it can boot Mac OS X in any Mac computer, right?  I don't feel the need to try it out.  Windows 7 Home Premium computers can't see HFS+ (Mac)-formatted drives without a special program, so this external drive is less useful than the one with the NTFS/FAT32 partitions.

Was It Worth It?
> If it weren't for the Torx screwdriver size confusion, which was my error, upgrading a MacBook would have been a breeze.  In any case, yes, it was worth making my MacBook a bit better.
> When it comes to the Windows netbook, I would have saved a lot of headache if I had stumbled onto an article similar to the one I have just written.  As a learning experience, I guess this particular adventure was worth it.

The Moral of the Story:
Nothing is ever easy.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

'Breaking Bad' Season 3 Minisode "Team S.C.I.E.N.C.E." = Possible Spoiler?

This animation is probably a non-canon or an extra-canon part of the show Breaking Bad, with references from the first two or three seasons of the show.  However, if you place the creation of this Jesse Pinkman animation within the show's timeline, this implies (SPECULATION ALERT!)...

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kate's Mixtape

What's part dog, part cat, and part number eight?  Kate!
During the past year that I've known my silly puppy Kate, I must have spoiled her in almost every way possible to spoil a dog, especially when it comes to food.  She somehow got the idea that dry dog food isn't good enough for her.  (She's slowly re-accepting dry food, but only as a secondary snack, behind dog treats.)  At one point -- okay, about a week or two ago -- her breakfast could only be described as a bacon cheeseburger banana muffin top.  (Thankfully, she no longer eats the aforementioned breakfast configuration.)  Kate's dinner contains meat and side dishes, nearly fit enough for human consumption, that is, if you replace the canned dog food with "human-quality" ground beef.  It's much less silly puppy as it is silly human!

Either earlier this month or last month, Kate had a quirk in which she wouldn't eat dinner until her mixtape was played.  Yes, it is a literal mixtape.  On cassette.  This particular tape is a compilation of non-hit album tracks from the band Queen -- no "Bo-Rhap," no "Champions."  Apparently Kate likes the sometimes quirky, sometimes epic, sometimes filler, multi-genre, should-have-been-hit-singles by a band consisting of four very different songwriters (one of whom was Freddie Mercury, of course).  The cassette samples fourteen of their albums, from Queen II to the posthumous Made in Heaven (apparently Kate isn't a big fan of their eponymous debut album*).  It also includes the non-album fast version of "We Will Rock You."  Here's the tracklist:

There's actually a Super Nintendo game named after "Ogre Battle" (and "The March of the Black Queen").

Ogre Battle    4:15

The March Of The Black Queen    6:40
Brighton Rock    5:11
Death On Two Legs (Dedicated To...)    3:44 
Seaside Rendezvous    2:20
Love Of My Life    3:39 
The Millionaire Waltz    4:57 
You And I    3:30
Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)    4:47
We Will Rock You (Fast Version)   2:47    Shouldn't have it been rewritten as "We Are Rocking You," in the present tense?

It's Late    6:28
Jealousy    3:14 
Dead On Time    3:23 
Dreamers Ball    3:31

You gotta love these Dungeons & Dragons-type song titles.

Dragon Attack    4:19

Rock It (Prime Jive)    4:33
Don't Try Suicide    3:53   
Sail Away Sweet Sister    3:33
Football Fight    1:29 
The Hero    2:57

Staying Power    4:13
Action This Day    3:38   
Las Palabras De Amor (The Words Of Love)    4:32   
Is This The World We Created...?    2:14   
Gimme The Prize (Kurgan's Theme)    4:35   
Khashoggi's Ship    2:55   
Ride The Wild Wind    4:43   
Made In Heaven    5:25   
A Winter's Tale    3:50   
It's A Beautiful Day (Reprise)    3:01   
Yeah    0:04   

Kate eventually got to the point where she could eat dinner with or without the tone of Brian May's Red Special guitar.  Maybe she got tired of this particular playlist.  Maybe she wants another tape.  Or a burnt CD?  Or an iPod?  Or an iPad?!  Maybe she would appreciate a playlist of another band or various bands.  Maybe I should revamp my abandoned FoodBoozeTunes blog for dogs (minus the booze, of course).

In any case, may my -- our! -- second year with Kate be just as quirky, perhaps quirkier.

*Queen's self-titled debut album is the only time in history that Rog edges out Fred in the vocal department, and Deaky's bass lead in "Liar" is better than any of Bri's guitar parts for that album.  Ironically, Queen doesn't even qualify as a Queen album.  At least that's what my dog says.  (Heh.)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blogging 'Diablo III' (Diablogging?) at Tumblr

I am not much of a video game player at all.  However, I like the Diablo series.  I like stories that involve swords, angels, and demons.  That's probably why my brother and I had a great time watching movie cheese like Season of the Witch.  (Not to mention, we gave it bonus points for the SPOILER ALERT! hilarious Nicolas Cage character death near the end of the film.)

Being late to the Diablo game, which was released in the mid-90s, my brother and I bought a $10 copy of the original game at the now-defunct CompUSA in the summer of 2003.  Diablo played well on a 1997 Windows 98 desktop and a 2002 Windows XP laptop, connected through a crossover cable.

In late 2003, we bought the Diablo II "Battle Chest" and had lots of fun hacking and slashing demons in 2004.  We played the expansion, Lord of Destruction, as well.  Again, we were a bit late to Diablo II, as it was released at the turn of the century.  Diablo II was sort of decent on the aforementioned 1997 desktop.  It was okay on our 2002 laptop, and played great a few years later on a 2006 Windows XP desktop.  We played multiplayer through our own LAN setup; we didn't bother with Blizzard's service.

In 2008, Blizzard formally announced that Diablo III would be released...sooner or later.  It turned out to be later than sooner, and the wait felt pretty long.  At several points, I was tempted to attempt to create a Diablo-like video game.  Then I realized that programming isn't something I could do easily (and I'm pretty sure learning would be torture), so I waited some more.

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, on May 15th, my brother and I received our copies of the game.  We installed it on our respective computers the next day, and got around to playing it (finding time to game is difficult!) the day after that.  It looks fantastic on a 2011 Windows 7 desktop and a 2011 Mac Mini.  (It is unplayable, due to video card compatibility, on a 2007 MacBook.)

At the risk of giving it a glowing review (keep in mind that I'm definitely not a gamer), I'd say that Diablo III is the game I've been imagining since I was eight years old!  More than the previous two games, Diablo III is a combination of The Legend of the Zelda and Castlevania II:  Simon's Quest that I've been playing in my head for the past few decades.  The serpentine bad guys in the middle of the game seem to come directly from my eight year old self's imagination!  Cheers to the developers, producers, and programmers -- I am happy to be a player.

My brother and I finished the normal difficulty setting today, and I can't wait for the expansion game(s)! In the meanwhile, I will (attempt to) blog my Diablo III adventures at A Terrible Realm (a Tumblr blog), with spoilery screenshots and cutesy recreations with LEGO bricks. 

There's nothing creepy about tortured giants.  Not creepy at all.
 I don't know if I'll get any additional Tumblr followers, but it should be a fun Diablo III-related project.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy 1st Birthday, Silly Puppy Kate!

By all good estimates and circumstantial evidence, my silly puppy Kate is now a year old!  Coincidentally, around the same time last year, someone else named Kate got married.  (Who knew?)  Since Kate was adopted at the local animal shelter, her origin story has been constantly revised, at least in my telling of it.

The story began in late April of 2011.  A rather large dog gave birth to a litter of "Labrador Retriever mix" puppies.  I don't know if this mother was a street dog or someone's pet, but most of her litter probably found a home...somewhere...

...except a scrappy, feisty, spunky female puppy with a wishbone design on the back of her head.  Maybe she was too energetic, compared to her siblings, to find a home right away.  At around two months of age, this puppy ended up in an animal shelter.  Her cellmates were similarly-sized puppies of likely the same litter.

The animal shelter identified these puppies as "Labrador Retriever/Cocker Spaniels."  At first, we thought Kate was one of them, even though she was listed only as a "Labrador Retriever mix."  However, as photographic evidence shows:

A tall ten-month old puppy that weighs a proportional 70 pounds probably has no small or medium dog gene (i.e., Cocker Spaniel or whatnot) in her DNA.  Kate is definitely made up of all kinds of large dogs, smashed into one bundle of silly--and sometimes crazy.  In any case, I hope all those aforementioned Spanadors found great homes, like Kate did.

Anyhow, the entire month of April was Kate's first birthday.  We played fetch.  And more fetch.  She ate some Beggin' Strips.  And Milkbone biscuits.  Then played more fetch.  The last of her winter coat was shed and clogged various vents.  Good times were had by all, in my estimation.

Kate's first birthday got me thinking the sad thought that dog years go by so quickly.  When the "future" comes, I'd totally be tempted to clone this crazy dog and start over.  (The firstborn clone would be named K81, or Kaighty-one, and so on and so forth.)  Then again, there's this whole dilemma of the ethics of dog cloning, and the treatment of a clone litter's surrogate mother.

So to sidestep human-canine morality for the time being, and to magically freeze Kate in a non-photographic moment of time, I just bought a stuffed animal that kind of looks like a two-month old Kate:

Happy 1st Birthday, you silly puppy, you.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Less Blogging, More Doing (Apparently)

I totally did not follow through with whatever I wrote last month.  Since it's the last day of March, I thought I'd check in here once again.  I've been so busy creating that I apparently lack the time and energy to document (read: brag about) what I've been creating.  I guess I also currently lack the time, energy, and desire to rant about things going on in the world today.

Anyhow, I could go into detail about this or that, or you might want to click away at some websites (by other people) that might have some pertinent information in the future:

As far as my websites go, I definitely need to update them!  I'm taking about updating both content and design:

And finally:  No, I did not win last night's gigantic Mega Millions jackpot (or any lesser prize).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Back to Blogging Basics

Happy Presidents Day (or Washington's Birthday)! Back when I started in 2007, I was mostly focused on the then-upcoming 2008 Presidential elections. Fast-forward to 2012, and we are again with a similar situation.  If time and energy permit, I will blog my often irreverent and irrelevant thoughts on the current campaign season.  I try not to totally tow the party line, but inevitably, my biases will be evident in what I write.

Unlike much of what I've found in political blogs, I like to differentiate between fiscal matters and social matters.  (Of course, overlap occurs when social matters use government funding.)  When it comes to fiscal conservatism vs. fiscal liberalism, I think it would be better to fluctuate (to a certain degree) as is wise for the current situation.  That is to say:  Sometimes the Federal government will need to spend money on Interstate highways, and sometimes not.  Sometimes a state government won't have the money to fund college grants, and sometimes a state budget will permit these opportunities.  The same goes for local governments.  Money matters should always be up for debate.

As far as social matters go, you can't stop the flow of history.  At the same time, human beings seem to be hesitant to rapid change:  Humans can't handle too much, too soon.  An abridged social history of the United States of America, from colonial times to the American republic, could read like this:  From religious persecution to a new land of religious freedom, from monarchical colonial rule to independence, from slavery to freedom, from a limited electorate to suffrage, from Jim Crow to civil rights, and beyond!

Note that the above took around 400-plus years to accomplish.  Along the way, there were a lot of hesitant forces to slow the flow of history.  Even today, there are politicians who want to legislate human reproductive issues.  There are factions in the United States who don't want committed couples to file joint tax returns (because that's what Federally-recognized "marriage" boils down to)!

I'll elaborate more on these issues in future blog posts, with a lot of silliness and a dash of reason to support my opinions.  If the comments section is open, feel free to comment, just don't be a douche.  (Since this is my blog, I'll be the judge of that!)

Sunday, January 1, 2012