Another Beautiful SoCal Sunset (With Time Lapse)

As I was passing by, Helaine asked if I’d seen the evening colors? “It would probably make a good time lapse,” she said.

Too late. The camera was already suctioned on the guest bedroom window, pointing at the setting Sun.

If I could only rip down the houses west of us for a better view.

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Irvine’s Farmer’s Market

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This was intended to be a vlog entry. Then I saw myself in the mirror. Never mind. I’ll type.

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Helaine and I went to Irvine’s farmer’s market. It runs year round in the Orange County Great Park, what used to be the massive El Toro Marine Air Station.

We began going when we moved to Irvine. Then, after a few weeks, they changed to rules to prohibit dogs! Overzealous health department regulations.

The crowds dropped. Dogs are welcome again!

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There are many reasons I enjoy this farmer’s market. All the produce stands give out samples. California fruits and veggies are very tasty.

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Not far away are the food trucks. This has become quite the niche recently. Today we saw crepes, oven fired pizza, Mexican and a bunch of others. I had a caprese crepe with chipotle instead of the pesto they’d run out of. Yum!

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Then there are the dogs. Doppler gets plenty of quality sniffing time.

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The place is filled with little kids. Between birth and three or four, kids are 100% adorable. There are few teens and adolescents, plenty of pre-schoolers.

They like Doppler. The feeling is mutual.

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This park is a huge space with lots of unusual installations, like a farm growing hydroponic organic vegetables on raised beds.

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Finally, we’ve got a balloon. It’s tethered and takes sightseers up 400 feet for a view of the area I still need to get!

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Who Is Bellingcat?

I do too much reading! Hours every day. The Internet is my personal time sink. Everything is here.

This blog entry started as a Hacker News link with a provocative headline: “Gun Safety, Self Defense, and Road Marches – Finding an ISIS Training Camp.” It led to bellingcat.com, motto: “by and for citizen investigative journalists.”

Bellingcat was funded as a Kickstarter project, raising a little north of $80,000.

I read the article and my jaw dropped. The unnamed author had found some photos online,

showing one of the Islamic State’s training camps in Ninewa Province.

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These are nondescript images. They could be anywhere, until he looks closely at the background (that’s his red arrow for reference). By the end of the article the training camp has been found. It’s along the Tigris River in Mosul. And all this done using the Internet.

Same for “How to Locate a “Secret” Pro-Russian Training Camp,” which is currently missing some of its supporting images.

The site is full of investigations and discussions based on freely available information. I can’t yet vouch for its efficacy, but taken at face value this is pretty powerful stuff.

Bellingcat.com gets a bookmark. I wonder what they’ll find next.

My First Vlog Post: A Trip To The Wedge

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I visited The Wedge in Newport Beach this afternoon. It’s a famous surf break. Lowell, a not as famous Eastern Pacific tropical storm, has blessed The Wedge with heavy surf. Not great surf, just big.

This is the story of my trip to photograph it and some of my shots. Please click the button and watch my short video.

Your Privacy And The Free Internet

facebook-logoThis started as a comment on Facebook. I was asked about the new Facebook messenger. It’s been installed twice on my phone, uninstalled once, probably coming out again. Too invasive. Tentacles… Too… Tight…

We live in amazing times. The power of the world is at our fingertips. You have access to more information from more sources than any human before you. And the price of admission is cheap.

Google has never sent you a bill. Facebook doesn’t charge. Neither do Twitter, Instagram or Reddit.

All these companies and many more make their living selling access to you. The ads you see online are usually targeted. The better they define you, the more they charge.

If you aren’t paying, you’re not the customer, you’re the product. That is more true today than ever.

All these companies store vast tidbits of your life, connecting things you might not see as important. Using Boolean algebra (and other techniques too dweeby for me) data mining companies find markers that link similar persons. No piece is too small. Everything is evaluated. The details of your life have been graded and sorted. You have been objectified.

Google and others know your real friends, your passwords, the pet names spouses call each other, what you buy and where, even your taste in porn. Their computers have no trouble identifying my face in photos.

We all spend the day dropping breadcrumbs.

The power of these systems is you’re never an individual to them–but is that good for you? Don’t you see yourself as individual? We are already pushed into cubbyholes without a say in the process.

What do you or don’t you get in life because their incorrect classification is within an anticipated margin of error! A job? Better loan rate? Who knows?

Data miners live with little regulation. Their power is too strong to not politely police. At the very least we should be able to check what they know about us, the inferences drawn and to whom our data’s been sold.

Right now we’re entitled to nothing.

Let’s Look At Clouds From Both Sides Now

If it looks like the clouds are boiling, just like a pot of water on the stove, it’s because the dynamics are very similar. Heat is being transferred upward through convection.

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The Sky Was Pink

Tonight’s sunset was dominated by pink. Even clouds in the east benefited from the glow.

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My Favorite Don Pardo Video

I think this Live at Five intro best exemplifies who Don Pardo was and why he was so damned cool.

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Problem Solving Day. I’m Only One For Three!

Marquis, an Anthem CSR, told me there was a problem with the way my account was set up. He called back and left a number from which he cannot be reached. The recorded voice answered as Blue Cross of Georgia. Well played.

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The Weather Websites I Use

This is my every once-in-a-while weather website recommendations. These are not the only sites with this data, just the ones I favor.

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