Quirks, Clocks, And Bugs

Every now and then, I get the video editing bug – but I don’t do the most obvious things when I get such a bug.

Nearly ten years ago to the day, and before such “animation” could be done on a video editor – I created a ten-minute clock on a green screen for use on YouTube. Many people commented something like: why on Earth would I want to do a thing like that? I didn’t know what they meant by that, really – that I took the time to make the clock, or why I put it on a green background.

For one, I thought it would help other video editors out putting it on a green background – because that background could be edited out by using an effect called chroma-key. When your local weatherman is showing you the conditions and the various maps, they are usually standing in front of a green screen. The stations chroma-key in the various maps and graphics, and that’s how you get local weather – a concept television has used for decades.

It also used to annoy me back in the space shuttle era that unless they were showing the old, massive countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center, or unless the launch commentator briefly mentioned it – you had no idea how much time remained at various points before the launch. For one launch video in 2009, I did just that – superimposed the “green screen” clock so you knew at all times how much time remained before liftoff, up until there were just 10 seconds remaining.

I’ve always said I’d do another video someday for a 15-minute clock, and thanks to modern video editors available for free like ShotCut, it’s a lot more easier to do now. DaVinci Resolve looks like another nice free editor, but I only have 4GB of RAM on the machine I use everyday – which is more compatible for Shotcut’s purposes.

I guess if you wait long enough, everything you want to do you can do for free – is that the moral of the story?

A Way That Doesn’t Work

Over the years, I’ve shared a bunch of tips regarding the wave of telemarketing calls originating from India or thereabouts. Eventually, all of these plans have flaws – one way or another.

I have recently come across a YouTube clip that suggests playing an old message that your phone line is no longer in service can trick them. Sadly, I’ve concluded this method doesn’t work either – for a few reasons.

The various telemarketers (and I used to be one, and hopefully never will be again) use different angles of attack when they call you. Some of these companies use pre-recorded messages to entice you to press a digit, like 1 or 9, before you get the chance to speak to someone live. Others put their telemarketers on live immediately when the call starts.

Either way, the message that your number is disconnected may confuse a few of them – but not all of them. If you waste their time, they keep calling you. If you let voicemail go through to them, they keep calling you. Tell them to put you on the do not call list, and they ignore you because they are a foreign entity. If you tell them you’re not interested, it’s almost an invitation for them to call back.

When nothing works, keep trying until something works – that’s what I always used to believe. At the same time, I’m tired of these morons – so I think voicemail will be their permanent home from now on.

Flashback: “More, More, More” by the Andrea True Connection

Until Stormy Daniels or someone else in adult films records a bigger hit record (and stranger things in pop music have happened), this is the biggest US pop hit performed by a porn star, going to #4 in 1976 for Andrea True.

Mueller? Mueller?!?

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After viewing the assertions of former special counsel Robert Mueller this 24th day of July 2019, there seems to be little chance for the impeachment of the President before the 2020 elections. The Democrats and the so-called “Deep State” may be treading in hotter water, however, for foisting this fraud on to all of us.

(Yes, I still hate, with a passion, the use of the phrase “The American People.” You, the American politicians, don’t speak for all of us, so would you please stop using that phrase? Please, and thank you.)

Mueller looked a bit like a bumbling professor at the witness table today, or a grandfather in dire need of a nap. I’m sure at one point in his career he could bring his A-game, but this was not such a day. The Republican members of congress drilled holes in the logic of his arguments with ease – while Democrats seemed to have trouble presenting even leading questions to him.

The only question that lingers is what happens to all of those who bore false witness on the President? Then the whole Jeffrey Epstein matter is left to be settled, and that may be problematical for a lot of celebrities and politicians stupid enough to be in that mix.

One For The Irish

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This weekend marked only the second time in the history of the British Open (simply called The Open over there) that the event didn’t take place on the island where England, Scotland, and Wales reside. It was played one island to the west over, in the British controlled Northern Ireland for the first time since 1961.

Irish golfers had won The Open before – that in itself was not a big deal. But an Irish golfer winning in Northern Ireland? That had never happened before.

Being three-quarter Irish myself (the other fourth is Danish, thanks to my paternal grandfather whom I never met), I watched the progress of Shane Lowry with a great deal of interest. He had come close to winning a major golf tournament before, but by Sunday’s play – there was little doubt he would wind up on top.

The 2019 major golf season began with the joyous return of Tiger Woods – it ends with the celebration of an Irish golfer winning The Open not all that far from home. In a way, a good way to begin and a good way to end.

Aircheck: CBS, 7/20/1969

As this clip begins, it is roughly 4:12pm Eastern time on Sunday afternoon, July 20, 1969, The lunar module of the Apollo 11 spacecraft is a few minutes shy of touchdown on the lunar surface – the first such attempt in manned space flight history.

It was a moment of high tension – a lot of things had to go right on the way to the moon and back, and as we nearly learned with Apollo 13 a few months later, potential disaster and tests of fate always seemed to be lurking. But on those eight days that wound up being the greatest adventure Man has yet to take – things went remarkably smoothly, all things considering.

The landing created the most tension, which is why I’m showing this – and not the moon walk itself. There are a few computer alarms that made the scheduling of the landing itself a bit tighter, and when astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin finally touched down – they used up all but a few seconds of the fuel budgeted for the landing. Had they run out – they would have had to cancel the landing at the last moment and go back home unsuccessfully, and let Apollo 12 take the next crack at it.

A remarkable feat made even more so by the commentary of Walter Cronkite and astronaut Wally Schirra – who let the audio coming from Apollo 11 paint the pictures for the most part. In the end, even the hardened Cronkite was at a loss for words at the accomplishment, simply saying – “Man on the moon!”

Flashback: “In The Year 2525” by Zager And Evans

Zager and Evans are short for the duo of Rick Evans and Danny Zager, and this song was a #1 song for six weeks in 1969 – and on top of that, the top song on the Billboard charts as Apollo 11 successfully landed on the moon.

Did We Go To The Moon?

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Since we’re now in the eight-day period where 50 years ago the Apollo 11 mission was taking place – this will be the first of three posts dedicated to the moon landing.

I thought we’d get the biggest question out of the way: did we actually land on the moon – or was the event just a big hoax? For one reason or another, our space program has yet to do anything bigger than the lunar landing with its astronauts since – and technically, our manned space program is in mothballs and has been now for eight years. We provide astronauts to be launched on Russian Soyuz rockets, yet we don’t have spacecraft of our own for the time being.

I was born in September of 1971 – two years and a month and a half after Apollo 11’s inaugural lunar trip, and when Apollo 17 made our final lunar journey to date, I was all of 15 months old. I’ve spent most of my life living on the west coast of Florida about 150 miles away from Cape Canaveral – though I once visited the Kennedy Space Center once in 1982. My memories of the space program seem to be the saddest chapters of its history – the Challenger disaster of 1986, and Columbia’s failed return home in 2003.

As for the moon landings being hoaxes, I’ve always been one to put that in the “not entirely impossible but improbable” category. I don’t think every conspiracy theory out there is a totally impossible notion – I’ve wondered if Lee Harvey Oswald really did kill JFK in 1963, for example, and what the true motivations were for killing the President. I’d say for every one conspiracy theory that’s real, you could probably find 10-20 that aren’t.

But the moon landings being hoaxes – that would seem to me to be a tough one to keep covered up all of this time that has gone by, so I’d say no.

Facebook Deactivation Attempt Number Whatever

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It gets to the point perhaps where all of the attempts get farcical – but here I go again. I’m again experimenting with life without Facebook.

If you’ve been watching the news as of late – we’ve got another “racism” controversy involving the President getting into it with four rather young and novice members of the House of Representatives. When Mr. Trump suggested in a tweet Sunday that perhaps “The Squad” should go back where they came from, things got a bit chaotic. The Democrats and in turn the media accused the President of being a racist.

For what it is worth – my opinion (as of this moment – July 16, 2019 at 11am Eastern time) is he is still not a racist by my definition of the term. To me, someone who is racist uses racist slurs – and I’ve never seen any record of Mr. Trump using that kind of language. If there is proof of him ever using those words, my opinion will likely change – but at this moment, I have yet to see such proof.

Facebook (and Twitter too), being what that has become, always seems to provide someone who can’t handle someone like me having their own personal opinion. Someone from your past always seems to be around magically to be your own personal “thought police” to try and set you straight in effort to tell you, yes, that POTUS is a racist – and don’t mind the Congresswomen who won’t condemn Al Qaeda or Antifa. That debate will go on – somebody will win it, and somebody will lose it.

So I keep getting around to this idea of a limited social media sabbatical, and who knows – maybe it will stick this time. Besides, I enjoy doing this a bit more.

EDIT, 7/18/19: I came back after a couple of days. I know – I’m weak as water, but I keep trying.

The War Of 13-12

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The decade of professional tennis that has been the 2010’s has now come full circle – with still a bit less than half a year left to go in it.

It began with that strange never-ending fifth set at Wimbledon that John Isner and Nick Mahut had, which shattered the record for the longest set of competitive tennis ever held with a 70-68 scoring wonder, among other records.

The last men’s match at Wimbledon this decade has now set more milestones – necessitated in a way by what happened back on those three days in 2010. Starting with this 2019 tournament, Wimbledon introduced the final-set tiebreak to their Grand Slam tournament – so if a match went 24 games without a winner (in other words, 12-12), the 25th game would be a tiebreak to decide matters.

As fate would have it, the men’s final became the first singles match that went that distance. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic went to 12-12 in the fifth – and off they went to a tiebreak the younger Novak quickly won.

No other men’s Grand Slam final ever needed a tiebreak to decide it in the sport’s history – though the tie break was only used in major tournaments about half a century ago. I said back in 2015 that final-set tiebreakers seemed like something inevitable, more or less like how MLB baseball will eventually use the DH in both leagues one day.

Let’s not overshadow the brilliant match both Roger and Novak put on either. It was one of the best tennis matches I’ve ever seen, start to finish. Excellent job, fellas – you did your profession proud this day.

Flashback: “Stairway To Heaven” by Dolly Parton

One of the many covers of the 1971 Led Zeppelin classic that, oddly enough, wasn’t a hit when it was first released – but has since been a go-to song in the playlists of classic rock radio stations all over the world.

I picked the Parton cover because it is a dedication to my ex-girlfriend, who’s mother passed away this past Wednesday afternoon.

Ross Was A Boss

As a general rule of thumb, I try not to eulogize everybody who passes on too much anymore. Better put, when I get around to do as such – it is for a good reason.

Yesterday, 1992 Presidential candidate Ross Perot passed away at the age of 89. To date, he is the last Independent candidate to have been included in the debates you see each election cycle – and no candidate since, outside of the Democratic or Republican nominee, has gotten more of a vote percentage as he did in 1992.

To this day, he’s the only candidate for President I’ve ever gone to see in person at a rally. On October 31, 1992, I took one of my aunts, who was a staunch Perot supporter, to the USF Sun Dome – and saw Mr. Perot speak to nearly 9,000 people in Tampa.

Of course, Perot didn’t win – Bill Clinton did, then the governor of Arkansas. At one point, Perot dropped out of the race despite polling well initially based on his frequent interviews with CNN’s Larry King. Had he not dropped out – what would have happened? Would there have been a Electoral College stalemate – where none of the three candidates get to the required 270 electoral votes? Could it have been possible that Ross would have won the popular vote but yet lose in the House of Representatives?

Assume for a moment we had a President Perot in 1993. If that had took place, then I think you would have seen the “derangement syndrome” we see now with President Trump a quarter of a century earlier. Perot would have formed essentially a coalition government with the Republicans with a Democratic run Congress – and the Democrats would treat Perot like the outsider they do now with the current President. Perot would come up with solutions, and the Dems foiling him at every turn – perhaps manufacturing a scandal that entices some sort of impeachment. Sound familiar?

Perot would have also fixed the economy – again, a lot like you’re seeing with the current President. How the 1996 elections would have worked – well, your guess is as good as mine there. Maybe the GOP recruits Perot to their side, and likely he would accept such a deal, at least to my way of thinking. Of course, that alternative 21st century might wind up different – and maybe everything we know, such as 9/11, never happens. Perhaps a New York businessman named Trump never gets on TV or has the need to enter the political arena – and how different that reality might have been.