The Best-Laid Plans

The original plan:  Supposedly it's cheaper, for insurance, to leave my car registered in PA and have it noted that it's being driven in MD.  I was under the impression, as was true I believe with NH (but maybe I was somehow wrong there - I don't recall my info source), that if the car is not titled in your name, you're free to change your license without worry about changing the car registration if it's not in your name.

Not true in MD.  If you drive a car with out-of-state plates in MD for 60+ days, you have to either have it titled and registered in the state, or apply for a non-resident permit.  But to qualify for the permit, you have to have an out-of-state license.  I wasn't planning on keeping my PA license, because I didn't want to have to pay PA taxes on top of the MD taxes I'm already paying.  So, I have 3 avenues to pursue here.  There's apparently a "dual registration" which I'll have to look into for further details, as the brochure is rather vague.  I can search the PA tax code to see if I have to pay taxes if I keep the license, even though I'm studying/working and paying taxes down here, and apply for the permit.  Or I can have mom sign over the car (which, when dad signed the metro over to me, was a pain in the ass cuz it had to be notarized), get my insurance policy changed to my name (cuz if the car's in my name, the policy has to be - learned that the hard way), and change the title and registration to MD and get a MD license.

And how did I find this out?  I went to get a dog license and happened to see a brochure with the title "NOTICE TO CAR-OWNERS WITH OUT-OF-STATE LICENSE PLATES".  Isn't that something the University might want to warn people about?  It's a $280 fine.


Two Moons on August 27

I got a chain email last week that I really should have forwarded to everyone.  It mentioned that, because Mars and the Earth were going to be close, Mars would look as big as the full moon in the sky.  I didn't particularly believe it because I know that the Mars-Earth near approach was about 3 years ago.

I figured it wouldn't hurt anything to take a look though, so I got up at 4am yesterday morning and looked towards the west.  No shit, but there was a huge reddish thing in the sky the size of the full moon.  Since I'm an astronomer, I know that Mars is red and it wasn't anything near as bright as the moon, so it really did look like Mars was huge and the size of the moon.  It was dim like Mars too.  The only thing I had to think about was if Mars could actually get that close.  Of course, I know that Mars is bigger than the moon, so it doesn't have to be as close to the Earth as the moon is to look just as big.

I'm going to have to pay more attention to mass emails in the future.  They can show us a lot about astronomy!


Paraphrasing news articles

I don't feel like quoting the whole article, but some guy's Dell laptop recently exploded into flames. Things were rapidly taken care of by the fire department with basically no significant damage to anything except the computer.

The man said that he then called up Dell and talked to one very helpful representative who transfered him to someone less helpful.

The Helpful Rep: I'm sorry your computer caught fire, that's terrible to hear.
Man: Well, what is Dell going to do about damage to my computer and my house?
Helpful Rep: I don't know, let me transfer you to someone who can help you.
Unhelpful Rep: Hello, I'm the supervisor, what can I do for you?
Man: My Dell laptop just caught fire and damaged my carpet. Who's going to pay for all this?
Unhelpful Rep: Well, do you have homeowner's insurance?

I tell ya', that's the perfect answer



Moving offices

I'm filing this under "bitching" because that's purely what it is.  I had to move out of my nice cozy office with [mostly] matching furniture and become the fourth person in a four-person office.  Of course, this means that I've had to take the desk square in the middle of the room with no privacy where anyone can walk by and take a look at what I'm doing.    I'd be happier in a nice cube.

The good news is that it's going to become an office of three in about two months and then I'm going to annex one side of the room for my own use.  Move some furniture around, make a fort out of extra desks...  then things will be ok.

Until then, I just have to always look like I'm busy.


POTW #4: An experiment in HDRI


Finally, a POTW that isn't a macro of a small animal. This photo shows the UCC church across the street from Wilder. Briefly, this scene had a very wide dynamic range, but the dynamic range that can be captured in a single jpeg is low. To retain detail in highlights and shadows, I took 3 exposures (left, click to view larger), all the same aperture (f/8) but different shutterspeeds (1/100, 1/25, 1/6 sec) and merged them into a single image. Continue reading POTW #4: An experiment in HDRI


Free music

I finally got around to listening to this week's free iTunes downloads, and they're not bad, certainly better than most of the stuff you'd get from the Facebook Samplers.

King Wilkie's "Wrecking Ball" is an up-tempo americana/bluegrass tune with an energetic but clean combination of banjo, guitar, and mandolin; if you're not familiar with the group, think a poor man's Nickle Creek with male vocals.  Their debut album was a big success and looks like they've followed up with a winner.

The latin freebie is Kacy Garcia's "Esta Soledad", def. worth a listen.  She's got a powerful voice.