Alesis Vortex over Camera Connection Kit to 6th-Gen iPod Touch running Roland Sound Canvas iOS


I have the (white, non-wireless) Vortex, and have finally pulled it out to get some mileage on it… I had an idea that I would velcro my 6th-gen iPod Touch to the front of it (between the keys and the neck), and run Roland Sound Canvas iOS as the sound source… piping it from the iPod through Bluetooth to my mixer (this part I already have working).

I’ve read that I only needed to connect to the Vortex’s USB port with a ‘camera kit’ (lightning port on the iPod to Vortex’s USB), and I’d be good — but got conflicting reports on whether it would work. Alesis technical support tried, but didn’t know that people are doing this successfully with iPads — lots of users jumped in on their support pages to say this is working.

But that’s an iPad — mine is an iPod Touch, so when I switch the power to ‘USB/DC’, the Vortex doesn’t power up (no juice from iPod); yet when I move the switch to ‘BATT’, the Vortex does power up and then does absolutely squat on Sound Canvas iOS. I would love to find out I’m just skipping a config step on the iPod. Anyone?


When the First Amendment is no longer valued by those who don’t like the Second either…

Many people I have interacted with have trouble comprehending why a gun owner could even BE a gun owner — after having been inundated with anti-gun propaganda by their favorite media outlets for most of their lives. The answer is Experience and Education — not just about firearms and the Second Amendment … but very simply, what the tools of the propaganda artist (skilled liar) are and how to identify them.

The example I came across today that relates closely to conversations I have been having with intelligent, but unschooled, friends of mine all around the country, is this one found in the “N.Y. Daily News”:

‘What is it like to fire an AR-15? It’s horrifying, menacing and very very loud’ (

I want you to go read this article (which I call a horrible piece of work, and amoral at best, outright evil more likely), and then consider these critical-thinking questions that a 3rd-grader in my day would have jumped to — REGARDLESS of your point of view on firearms:

  • Why is the gun dealer in the article even in this business?

  • Why is it that I can’t find this (supposedly real) gun dealer on Google?

    (Oh, I mis-spoke; look what I found; a brand-new Facebook account that notes, among it’s less-than-half-a-dozen-posts: “Started Working at Franks Gun Shop Double Tap Shooting Range … Posted on May 14”. The Facebook account itself was created on May 14th as well — only one month previous to the date the article was purportedly published. Although, the gun shop itself has its own Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since 2015… the most recent post is littered with comments from angry Americans who can’t believe the ‘facts’ in the article came from a gun dealer… who would by necessity have better information that this … but Frank apparently doesn’t have an internet connection, because there is no response to the comments and queries so far.)

  • Why is this ‘former police officer’s opinion so very different from every other officer I have ever met? Oh, one of the Facebook comments clears that up: “The owner has no concept of the idea of gun laws, he is subjective as to who he sells to, and uses his “Europe Law Enforcement” career as the basis of him being a subject matter expert on guns and gun laws in America, after a scant 6 years here in the US.”

  • If the gun dealer “has difficulty explaining why law-abiding citizens need a gun that can empty a 40-round clip in less than five seconds”, where is this number coming from? Because, a semi-automatic rifle can only fire one bullet each time the trigger is pulled — so the AR-15 would have to be in the hands of a super-human to be able to fire EIGHT BULLETS A SECOND. But this author expects that you will be to repulsed and terrified of this prospect that you won’t question it’s veracity.

Then, after having read how ‘terrifying’, ‘loud’, and how much the recoil bruised the writer’s shoulder, take a look at this big burly little girl firing the same rifle that the Media so-very-much needs you to be afraid of:

11 Year Old Girl Shooting AR 15 at 100 Yards

When you’ve finished watching this young lady, in a controlled environment, following safety guidelines that her parent chooses to administer (just like they would with any power tool in the garage), take a moment to consider what advice our Vice President provided, also in an attempt to get Americans to fear the AR-15:

Joe Biden’s Womens Self Defense Advice: Double Barrel Shotgun

‘Uncle Joe’ says, “You don’t need an AR-15; it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds…” The following video show the difference between a shotgun, which DOES KICK HARD (counter to Joe’s kindly advice), and an AR-15, which little girls shoot with absolutely no problem (because they fire very small rounds and are designed to manage the recoil so well that the AR-15 has become Americans’ favorite rifle):

Buy a Shotgun Joe Biden Lying AR-15

The article notes,

“The recoil bruised my shoulder. The brass shell casings disoriented me as they flew past my face. The smell of sulfur and destruction made me sick. The explosions — loud like a bomb — gave me a temporary case of PTSD. For at least an hour after firing the gun just a few times, I was anxious and irritable.”

It sure seems that this ‘reporter’ must be smaller than the little girl in the above video…


“Even in semi-automatic mode, it is very simple to squeeze off two dozen rounds before you even know what has happened. In fully automatic mode, it doesn’t take any imagination to see dozens of bodies falling in front of your barrel.”

You see, an AR-15 ONLY has a ‘semi-automatic’ (one bullet per trigger pull) mode — if it has a ‘fully automatic’ mode (multiple bullets per trigger pull), it is not an AR-15, and is not legal for non-military use or sale … SO NO LAW WILL OUTLAW A MACHINE GUN THAT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL… that’s kind of like saying we need to make heroine illegal because the laws that make it illegal already aren’t working. The fact that this gun dealer can’t sell an automatic weapon to this reporter because it’s already against the law is NOT the message that he hopes you will get from his article.

Semiautomatic vs. Fully Automatic

The writer wants you to be afraid of people who own something that just isn’t scary enough — even in his own opinion — to frighten you off if he delivers only the truth.

By the way, it may not interest you to know that the rifle used in the horrific Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida — was not even an AR-15. While it WAS a black semi-automatic rifle, I mention this little bit of trivia so that as you read articles written by supposedly ‘professional journalists’, you will notice that maybe if they swear up and down that it was an AR-15 — you will have a clue about how much effort they put into really researching the event before committing words to press, and applying their good name and reputation to their article. #RealJournalismIsDead

Ham Radio Operator Licensing with Baofeng (cheap) Radios

The inexpensive analog Baofeng radios, made in China, and coming with a you-get-what-you-pay-for reputation, are at least reliable enough to justify owning one (or several), to stow in various places for emergencies (glove box, trunk, Get-Home-Bag, office desk drawer) — or to use as your daily rig until you maybe upgrade to a more expensive radio capable of digital.

I have a Baofeng UV-5RA and a smaller (without a built-in keypad) Baofeng UV-3R (which slides into a pocket, which is a good thing since the belt clip broke immediately upon unboxing).

I’ve added an extra-capacity battery for the ‘5’, and programming cables for both radios. All told, for two radios and accessories, I’ve popped for just over $100 of ham radio fun. Compare that to when I was a teenager (30 years ago), and my father spend more than $400 for one radio (‘HT’, hamspeak for ‘handy-talkie’, or what non-hams refer to as a ‘walkie-talkie’). Time is kind to technophiles; or at least to their wallets.

There is software that comes with these radios; but it isn’t very respectable compared to another application that is available as open source, which I highly recommend, called ‘CHIRP’. It can be found, with instructions, here:

The software is easy to use; the harder part will likely be getting the driver software for your programming cable (goes in your USB port). Some tips can be found here, though if you still have trouble past this you may have to rely on Googling up information about your particular cable, in conjuction with the search term ‘baofeng’:

The driver that finally worked for me (I tried several) was this one, because the chipset in my programming cable is the Prolific variety:

I used the CHIRP software to make queries against online resources that already know what repeaters are in my area (by choosing, by county, which areas I care about). So now I have a file, called ‘CentralINandPurdue.img’ that includes all the repeaters in Marion County, and all surrounding counties. And since I have someone asking me who will be going back to school at Purdue next fall, I also included Tippecanoe County (and surrounding counties).

Get the file here: CentralINandPurdue.img

If you get CHIRP installed, and the correct driver for your programming cable, you can upload the file I created to add these channels to your radio without a lot of manual labor on your radio’s keypad.

Once you import this file into your radio, you may notice a lot of noise on channels you don’t want distracting you every time it scans up the channel list. There are two ways to deal with this… one is to delete that channel in CHIRP, another is to tell your radio to ‘skip’ that channel when scanning, which is already done for you on the NOAA channels in this file — just look for the ‘S’ in those rows, and you will see where you can do the same thing for other channels that you want to pass over.

Ham Radio Operator Training/Tutorial Resources (Technician Class License):
AA9PW FCC Exam Practice (
Ham Technician STUDY Playlist (

Further Reading:
Program a Baofeng Radio with CHIRP (
Tips on How to Best Configure and Use Your Baofeng UV-5R (
Guide to Using the Baofeng UV-5R (
Baofeng UV5R Menus (
Baofeng UV Squelch FAQ (
Program your VHF/UHF Transceivers for Disaster Preparedness (
How to Set Up a Ham Radio (1) (
How to Set Up a Ham Radio (2) (
2014 No-Nonsense Tech Study Guide v2.0 (

Is it okay to look at a girl’s butt?

[Originally posted in answer to a question on Quora on January 15, 2016…]

Short answer: When it doesn’t bother her.

Longer version: Unless you have enough rapport with a girl to know what she’s thinking (You don’t. Period.), it’s safe to say that unless she’s actually brought up the subject (“Does this belt make me look fat?” “Can you see my striped panties through these slacks?”), it wouldn’t be polite to get caught gawking.

That said, there are some non-verbal cues that may help in this regard. Some rules I’ve lived by include:

1) If a woman has a tattoo, she is giving everyone permission to look at that tattoo at any time — wherever it happens to be. But only there.

2) If a woman wears a garment that is purposefully cut to reveal more of her than what everyone else in the environment (office, school, market) is wearing, she is giving you permission to look there. But only there.

3) If a woman has engaged you in conversation, the thing to look at is her face — and only her face — unless the words coming out of her mouth direct you to something else.

4) If a girl is dancing, she is giving you permission to look. But close your mouth.

On Strippers and Whores in First Grade

LauraAnderson17There are religious extremists who are currently given shelter by today’s ‘smart people’ when they claim that they raped or killed someone because ‘they couldn’t help themselves’ when they saw too much exposed ankle. The school systems chronicled in the following stories are not only giving validity to that nonsense — they are TEACHING CHILDREN that these rapes and killings are the responsibility of the victims, rather than the ANIMALS who did it, and who will continue to do it, until enough of us stand up and slaughter the perpetrators in a very public way, over and over, to the point of impressing these indoctrinated human filth that they will not get away with the mindless slaughter of other humans at their whim.

Every time I see an incident when a teacher or principle calls out a girl for wearing clothing that is completely ignored — ‘normal’ — when worn by a boy, I think the words ‘distracting’ and ‘inappropriate’ are actually code words for ‘This Faculty Member Stares Inappropriately At Your Child’.

GabiFinlaysonWhen I was 7 years old, it wasn’t bare shoulder (or bare anything) that made me twitterpated with an occassional classmate. It was because they were GIRLS, and not even a burqa would have changed that dynamic.

My older sister, on the other hand, was trained (both at school and at church) that sitting too close to a boy led to occasional physical contact, which led to holding hands, which led to shoulder-rubs, which led to pregnancy. When I had a girlfriend in California, I would put my arm around her shoulders in church (because she was cold), and my sister felt the need to tell me I wasn’t ‘allowed’ to do that and I was setting a bad example (for all the observant children who would now become pregnant as a result).


Look, I have a minor in theology and my Book says that God created sex, music, dancing and alcohol. I don’t see anything until the last few centuries that supports this madness… the New Thinking that we are all animals who can’t control ourselves. Saying people can’t control themselves is saying they don’t have a responsibility to control themselves. I do not find that ideology ‘enlightened’ at all.

LINK: Labrador school sends dozens of students home for exposing their shoulders and knees (
LINK: 10 Banned Vs. Approved Outfits That Show How Ridiculous School Dress Codes Really Are (
LINK: Teen told bare shoulders inappropriate, forced to wear winter coat to dance (
LINK: Draconian Dress Code Shames Public School Students In Kentucky (
LINK: Teen Girls Sent Home From High School For ‘Distracting’ Boys With Their Visible Bra Straps (
LINK: Mother slams ‘ridiculous’ high school dress code after her daughter was sent home for showing her COLLARBONE in a long-sleeve top which teachers claimed could distract male students (
LINK: 15 Of The Most Unfair Dress Code Violation Stories Of 2015 (So Far) That Will Make You Furious (
LINK: High school students organize ‘show your shoulders’ protest against ‘sexist’ dress code which they claim makes boys see girls as nothing more than sexual objects (
LINK: Utah girl, 15, forced to wear a coat to school dance because teachers felt THIS dress was indecent for showing too much shoulder (
LINK: London high school students protest school dress code (
LINK: Making you Even More Ashamed of God’s Creation… (

The official description of Alinsky’s ‘Rules For Radicals’ on has finally been scrubbed of all reality…

…BUT, the reviews by customers still let you in on what this book has done to American society. Here’s a favorite from the top of the list:

Appalling, Disturbing and Eye-Opening August 25, 2014
By WinterWalker95

First off, unlike most of the negative reviewers, I’m a pretty liberal guy. I first flipped through this book 12 years ago when I was involved in some progressive/anti-war groups in college. I was disturbed then, but I didn’t pay it much mind, I just put the book away and found other ones that spoke to me. Several years later, I was working in the non-profit sector working with local community service organizations and someone recommended it to me. I knew that it had now gotten more mainstream attention since its affiliation with Obama, so I decided to take another look. Again, I was immediately turned off.

Now with the situation in Ferguson, I happened to read this book mentioned in my news feed. This time, I decided to read the whole thing. I was disgusted & appalled. What’s most disturbing is how influential this book has been in leftist circles.

AlinskyThe book isn’t about building communities, eliminating poverty and achieving social and economic justice. It’s simply a guide on how to manipulate disempowered people by getting them angry at some external source, setting people up as “enemies” to be the object of people’s hatred, whether they deserve it or not, and exploiting poor people for political gain rather doing a single thing that actually addresses their poverty.

I realize now, that this book is the worst thing to happen to the American left. The income gap has widened, schools are becoming as segregated as they were prior to Brown v. Board, and more poor people are in prison than ever. Dreams of a college education and home ownership, something that we made great progress in the 1960’s are quickly becoming a fading fantasy. Part of this has to do with the push for privatization, and the rise of the prison-industrial complex, for sure. But now I, also believe it is indicative of the failure of the “new left”, made up of privileged, white college students in the 1970’s, many who followed this book to the letter.

Decades of social and economic progress have been undone in the past 20 years, and I think the tactics in this book share a significant part of the blame. The “divide and conquer” philosophy, the focus on hating the opposition at all costs, on smug self-righteousness, and ridicule has turned so many people off of politics and activism, it’s no wonder most people don’t want to get involved. I heard from numerous teachers and professors when I was younger, how our generation was “apathetic” and “cynical”. But now it all makes sense. This terrible book would turn off any well-meaning liberal, create distrust amongst urban communities, and resentment from people who might be unfairly targeted by it. So many “activist” organizations, used this book as a blueprint along with the non-profit model, and end up accomplishing nothing except taking money from poor people to pay the salaries of executive directors and high level staff.

Liberals and leftists need to stop reading this garbage and look for constructive, practical solutions to the real world problems of poverty. This should be looked at with the same disdain as Mein Kampf, a historical curiosity that is pretty much total garbage, but only interesting in how influential it was to a society. But first, we need to break free from its terrible grasp.

For the record, I do recommend that you get a copy of this book — while it’s up to you to decide whether it’s important to know your ideological opponent, I strongly urge you to become familiar with your ideological enemies. Here’s a link to the Kindle version: “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky; and here’s a very brief synopsis of the author’s amoral tactics (that Obama infamously ‘taught’ and was praised for as a ‘Community Organizer’ earlier in his career): “Know Thine Enemy: Tactics from Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals”

LINK: “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky (Kindle version at
LINK: Online version and downloads in various formats (

Tiny Houses, Trailer Homes and Urban Camping

After a couple of job changes and residential moves in the last 15 years, I have become interested in living more simply — and with fewer material possessions — to both save financially but also to reduce the amount of real estate and belongings that become ‘life suckers’. My attention, energy, and time should be spent on growing in safety and comfort — not maintaining an expanse of toys in a losing battle for modern happiness.

There are a lot of options out there for simplifying and downsizing your residential footprint… I’ll be examining as many cost-effective ideas as I can find. Here is a basic, starter-list to give you a sense for what I’m talking about:

  • Move into a smaller home – Lower cost, smaller space for accumulation of junk, less to maintain.
  • Move into a ‘tiny house’ – Not for the faint-of-heart, these houses can be so small that they sit on trailers that can be pulled by a mid-size pickup (not for travelling; but for relocating).
  • Move into a Mobile Home – Usually much larger than a ‘Tiny House’, and relocatable with the help of professional specialists, these ‘temporary’ dwellings have been a favorite for lower-income living around the world for decades… but can cost almost as much as a normal residential home… but usually sits on rented land with utilities available. The advantage is that much of the planning has been taken care of for you.
  • Move into an RV (‘Recreational Vehicle’) – More mobile, less space. Many people find, after traveling in an RV, that the cost and effort of locating RV-friendly utilities is a worthwhile sacrifice when compared with the alternative (‘normal’) needs of maintaining a full-size home, a yard, a Homeowners Association, and all the stuff that will accumulate to fill in that space.
  • Move into your vehicle (car, pickup truck, or van) – Obviously, we’re now talking about so little living space that it would only be selected by those who are forced out of their previous homes — whether for financial or other related reasons. But looking at sites devoted to the practice all over the internet, there are growing throngs of individuals and families who are left with no other option. With a minimum of shelter, utilities become more a factor of location than cost, and storage of food an issue of daily temperature, while a rented storage unit (or a friend’s garage) serves to hold anything that won’t fit, or would be a great loss if stolen.
  • Full Hobo – No one chooses this until they feel they don’t have a choice… but many who do, choose not to return to normal residential living, even if their finances improve to allow it. I may be looking into studies and articles about why this is.

LINK: “Tiny houses for the homeless thrive in Eugene: Would this work in Portland, other cities?” (
LINK: “‘Tiny houses’ no solution to the unaffordability crisis” (
LINK: “The Off Grid Project” (
LINK: “The Do It Yourself World FORUM” (
LINK: “Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars” (

Why do most Christians say ‘…in Jesus Christ’s name…’ when we pray?

Some new friends on Facebook chimed in with answers to this question, and I found it strange that no one seemed to know what I learned as a child… I guess there are a lot of Teachers out there who grasp the Core of the Gospel — but are missing out on much of the Bible because we now live in bite-size (140 characters at a time) increments… and the Bible is a daunting volume that few Believers of recent generations have fully consumed. What follows is my attempt to explain the answer as I know it — I’m sure I’m missing a few key points and have probably oversimplified things from a scholarly perspective — but I hope it made sense to those folks leaving comments on the original post. -Editor

In the Old Testament, the Israelites had an appointed and annointed priesthood, who were people trained and set aside to carry out the duties of bringing the prayers of the people to God. They were devoted to this task to the point that there were rituals of washing and purity that they had to carry out before they were ‘clean’ enough to approach God with their requests. They would sacrifice animals on an altar that were without flaw — because sin requires a penalty of blood, and this was the acceptable substitute — at the time — for the death of those people (everyone, really) who had sinned.

No one, other than the priesthood, were allowed to enter certain parts of the temple and speak directly to God.

When Jesus Christ was crucified, one of the events that happened simultaneously (but not at the same location as the Cross) was that the veil in the Temple — the place considered to be God’s ‘home’ among the Israelites — the veil which separated the most-sacred part of the Temple from the rest of the structure — the ‘Holy of Holies’ where ONLY the ‘head dude’ among the priesthood (the ‘High Priest’) was allowed to go — this large piece of fabric literally TORE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM … ALL BY ITSELF … as a sign that the people were no longer separated from their God. The human priests were ‘out of a job’.

Jesus lived (sinless) and paid the penalty for our sins with His death, and became the most perfect (unblemished and clean) sacrifice — replacing the former need for animal sacrifices (we don’t do that any more). He also replaced the High Priest’s role as the intercessor between us and God the Father. When we pray to the Father “in Jesus’ Name”, we are borrowing the authority of Jesus to approach the Father, as Jesus the Son of God recommended.

God the Father wants us to be sinless and live His Way (‘Good’ is defined simply as ‘Godlike’ or ‘as God would prefer’) and when we sin we become unworthy to approach Him. But Jesus, the sacrifice for our sins and the payment of the penalty for our sins — and only Jesus — can go to His Father and say, “Dad, I know what this frail human has been through, and understand his pain and struggle in life, and I’m bringing his request to you humbly and ask that You hear him out.” He is our Mediator. He is our Intercessor. He is our Advocate. He is our new High Priest. He, and only He, can bring us into an audience with God the Father.

LINK: “Holy of Holies” (
LINK: “What does it mean that Jesus is our High Priest?” (
LINK: “Why Pray in Jesus’ Name?” (
LINK: “Why Do We Pray In Jesus’ Name?” (

Category: God


On this, Beethoven’s birthday and the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, I turn 46. I do not feel like it’s middle age… this feels more like I’ve passed 8 of my nine lives.

At half this age, I was directionless, broke, and humbled by my circumstance — now, I see that I hadn’t quite improved on that station at all, and am living mercy to mercy with every breath.

I see friends and family who are sick, dying, grieving and cannot help them.

I see children who have separated themselves from their betters in a farcical belief that their elders hold no wisdom worth seeking.


I see believers who choose Men’s wisdom over God’s.

I see scholars who teach that intellect comes from turning our backs against authority and order, and that chaos is a sign of an bettered mind.

I see families that split to the winds as a matter of generational tradition — and often, as the only one they honor.

I see good men struggle for Truth, and Evil ones re-write our books.

I find a tapestry of denial and deceit in the hearts of broken women and shattered dreams.

In these years of change, I am not lacking for Faith — it is my only refuge. But the God I’ve come to know weeps for us, as I do. And while we are apart from Him, we will find no end to this grief.

God Bless us. God Heal us. God be patient with us.

So You Have A New PC…

[I repost something like this, it seems, about every time Black Friday rolls around… hopefully it will answer some questions if this is new territory for you…  -ed]


If you’re asking what software to add to a newly-acquired computer, the first advice I would give you is not to add anything at all… until you need it.  Most users clutter up their computers with a lot of software that they never end up using; and the end result is a tangled, poorly-performing machine.  The best-practice rule is to only add those things that you need… when you need them.  That said, the following list shows software that I personally recommend for most users — and why I chose them for myself:


Google Chrome

Because the web browser that comes with Microsoft Windows is a favorite target of hackers, information thieves, and virus authors, I recommend choosing (and setting as your default) an alternate web browser.  Google’s Chrome is among the top 5 and is available for multiple platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux).  Additionally, choosing Chrome makes several other software options (listed below) work easier…

Apple iTunes

While there are several very well-designed tools for managing media files (music, movies, etc.), iTunes is the current favorite for both MacOS and Windows users — and not just for users of Apple’s iOS devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad).  Just know that using iTunes doesn’t mean that you can only purchase music and movies through Apple iTunes Store — you can simply use it as a (free!) place to organize your files, no matter where they come from.  And, if you also happen to have an iOS device, it’s nearly a requirement for keeping your PC and portable device in sync…

AVG Antivirus Free

New PCs usually come with some brand of antivirus tool preinstalled — and with a 12-month subscription that is no longer free when that first year is over.  While there is nothing wrong with taking advantage of those first 12 months of free protection, if you don’t want to hand over your credit card when it expires, I have had good success with AVG Antivirus Free.  Just be sure to remove the older antivirus program you are replacing — having two different programs attempting to do the same job can drastically slow down your computer.

VLC Media Player

Your PC may already have a tool provided for playing movie files in several formats — but eventually, someone is going to give you a file that is in an odd format you can’t open.  The ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of video players is VLC — it plays almost every format in existence.


What VLC does for video, Audacity does for audio files — and you may not have a need for something that opens dozens of different audio formats; but it also allows you to edit (crop, alter, concatenate) sounds to better fit your purposes.  I use it to create short ringtones from longer sounds I find on the internet, or in my iTunes.


Windows comes with a simple image editor that might be enough for many users — and professional use Adobe Photoshop, which is a very complex (and very expensive) image editor with hundreds of features.  Somewhere in the middle is Paint.NET, which is free, but includes the features most users need for resizing, correcting, cropping, and changing the file format of pictures.  For those who have grander aspirations, there is another free application (closing to Photoshop on the learning curve) called GIMP at .

Google Docs

Docs is not an application that you install — it is an online application you can access from any internet-connected computer (Windows, MacOS, Linux).  Included is a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation graphics, and simple drawing program — all of which can save out to common file formats (like DOC, XLS, PPT, PDF, etc.).  Documents you create in Google Docs are stored in your online account (requires a free Google account, which also comes with a free personal email address on — again, making your creations available to you from whatever computer you log in from.  NOTE that Google Docs is not as full-featured as a commercially-available office suite (like Microsoft Office); but since most users never use more than 25% of the tools available in MS Office, Google Docs likely provides all the functionality most users depend on.


There are many vendors out there who provide a way for you to store documents up on some internet server (that’s what the phrase ‘in the cloud’ means); but DropBox is a favorite of mine because it doesn’t require any extra effort to use — AND it makes sharing large files with other people easier (no more sending them through email).  With DropBox installed, there is a folder on your PC that will sync (automatically keep copies in both places) between your computer and your online account, so that if anything ever happens to your PC (breakage, theft, accidental file deletion), you still have the online version to fall back on.  Also, you can reach these files through any web browser on any other computer — so it’s ideal for checking on a document from work that you created on your home computer.  Free accounts at start at 2Gb of storage space.  [See also Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive…]


Many eBook readers are limited to just a handful of file formats (; Calibre is able to read almost all of them, and is a great place to keep all the ebooks you collect from various sources in one place.


Vector artwork is imagery that can be stretched in size without losing quality… the industry standard for this in the commercial art world is Adobe Illustrator.  While Inkscape is not feature-for-feature as powerful as Illustrator, it also doesn’t cost several hundred dollars (Illustrator does).  For this reason, many high schools and universities that have art and design classes are favoring Inkscape — and it has quite a following all around the world.

Every Windows computer comes with a simple text editor called NOTEPAD.EXE, which is really handy for looking at text without formatting — or for deliberately stripping formatting that you don’t want out of a document.  But it is very limited; the search-and-replace isn’t very capable, and some larger files won’t open in it.  For user who need more control over their plain text files, I recommend Notepad++, which I use to edit web pages, instructional documents, and for projects that require a more powerful search-and-replace than is provided in even strong applications like Microsoft Word.

Browser plugins (Java Runtime), (Flash & Adobe Reader), (Silverlight), (DownloadHelper)

There are literally hundreds of plugins, toolbars, extensions and enhancements that can be added to your web browser to add to it’s functionality, but those linked here are the ones that I put on every computer I configure — some of them are required by most web sites and one (DownloadHelper) allows me to grab an offline copy of YouTube video for watching later when I am perhaps away from a good internet connection.


Of the many tools available for having voice and video communication over the internet, the most popular among consumers is Skype; and it’s well-favored among business users as well.  The free version lets you have one-to-one video chat as well as larger audio-only conversations.  As an added bonus, you can define your own screen as a ‘camera’ in a video chat — so that you can show the person you are talking to what you are doing in an application (such as PowerPoint or Google Docs).  There is a paid version that adds the ability to connect from Skype to a regular phone number, should you need the ability to make lots of outbound calls with a USB headset (I use this instead of my cell phone when I plan to spend the whole day talking on the phone from home).


The industry standard for most professional page-layout artists is Adobe’s InDesign — and in the low-end (non-professional) world is Microsoft’s Publisher.  Somewhere between those two stands Scribus, available on multiple platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux, etc.) and used by many university, not-for-profit and small-office environments around the world.  If you want to crank out a book, a newspaper, a magazine, or a print advertisement — this may be a tool you’ll benefit from.

General PC Maintenance

I get asked all the time if I will fix people’s computers. I wish I had the time (I have a compulsion to repair things that are misbehaving); but I really don’t. And unfortunately, computers these days are not getting simpler — they are getting more complex … even though their snazzy user interfaces are getting slicker and ‘swoopier’.

1643_fix_your_computer_mugBut that does not absolve you of the responsibility to maintain your ‘ride’. If it were a car, you would either learn how to do the repairs yourself or take it to a reputable dealer. A ‘reputable dealer’, though, for repairing PCs is more difficult to find than you might think. Many people get frustrated enough to just give up and buy a new machine every once in a while rather than repair what they already own.

I’m not against the idea of buying new hardware every few years… but I’d hate to be forced into it out of ignorance or fear.

If you are one of those people who takes your car to a mechanic for everything, I’ll bet you are still capable (whether you choose do to it or not) of changing a tire, adding windshield-wiper fluid, and vacuuming out the interior. That level of know-how is analogous to basic PC maintenance, as well — you should be able to back up your data, add ink to your printer, and clear out unnecessary files that accumulate on the hard drive — causing it to slow down and perhaps even misbehave.

If your PC is causing you fits, and you’re teetering on the edge of an impromptu trip to the BuyMore — take a deep breath and count to 10 (which in binary is ’00’, ’01’, ’10’ — so it shouldn’t take very long). To start with, you’re going to need some tools. The following are all free (some also offer a ‘pro’ version for $$$):



If you pick one from each category, install it, and use it, you might easily add years to the usefulness of your PC.

Learning from Jimmy Evans

I was searching for something completely unrelated today when I stumbled across the first of these videos… and kept clicking through as I learned something from each one; sometimes small, sometimes a bit bigger than I expected.

Hopefully, one or more of these will be a blessing to you, your spouse, and your marriage.

Intimacy without Fear

Harsh and Passive-Aggressive Communication

Resolving Bitterness, Wrath and Anger

Signs of an Emotional Affair

The Danger of Turning Your Heart Away

Parents and In-laws

Inner Vows

When You Reject Your Spouse

Communication Deceptions

God’s Role for Men

The Key to Your Spouse’s Heart

Dating and Courtships

Sarah Silverman still thinks she’s funny, and several others agree

The following is my response to a comment left after one of the videos below… about a separate NRA for black Americans (watch them below for context):

“I find your defense of the NRA troubling, though. If this organization was truly consistent in advocating arming citizens regardless of race, then why isn’t it representatives or leadership (or even the majority of its members) speak up in defense of Trayvon Martin? If anything, he seems like the best possible factual example for anyone to use in order to argue that private gun ownership is necessary to prevent tyranny from the state and its agents (such as the police). If the NRA was truly honest in its conviction to arm people of all races, then I would expect them to argue in Trayvon’s defense, saying “This man should have been armed! He is an example of how minorities need to be armed in order to defend themselves against brutal, violent police racism.” Instead, it seems like more NRA members are coming to Zimmerman’s defense, if anything.” –Benjamin Chylla

It will never be the NRA’s responsibility or agenda to support the Left’s need to hold Race up as the only reason anyone ever fires a gun. “If the NRA was truly honest” ??? In this statement, you are showing, in public, that you are completely unaware that Trayvon was not an innocent bystander, not a victim, and not ‘unarmed’ — for the NRA to ‘support’ or ‘defend’ him in any way would make no sense… he was the attacker! Minus 30 points for your factless, baseless ideological argument.

AngryBlackMenWithGunsThe NRA’s current mission is to protect the right, currently guaranteed by law but constantly under threat by those who the law is supposed to protect us from (those people who don’t get the ‘equal protection’ concept) — for all Americans, regardless of race.

But pretending that Trayvon was the Good Guy means that you are either mal-informed, or are intentionally attempting to continue the agenda the Left has been tilting into for years, that when a black person gets shot, it MUST have been racially motivated — therefore, all resources must be brought to bear to criminalize any non-black who defends themselves.

SarahAndHerFingerYou want to make this an argument that is won or lost based on the number of voices who agree with your version of the ‘facts’? Great — you won; more people in this country currently believe that Trayvon was innocent than those Americans who agree with the jurors determined in court. But, then, there’s the pesky facts that are going to keep getting in the way of that agenda…

I repeat: It will never be the NRA’s responsibility or agenda to support the Left’s need to hold Race up as the only reason anyone ever fires a gun.

You really hate the NRA so much that you’re willing to appear — in public — as a blithering idiot to lambaste them? It’s people like you that make me want to become a lifetime member.

LINK: “Professional Racists convince public that Race the issue in Zimmerman/Martin case, and that officials shorted investigation.” (

“If I am not mistaken, it was George Zimmerman who followed Trayvon all the way to his house, without even a reasonable suspicion of any crime taken place…after specifically being told by the police over the phone NOT to do so. So any argument that Zimmerman was the one acting in “self-defense” is nonsense.

And even, for the sake of argument, you want to point out that Trayvon pulled the first punch (even though he was technically complying with the “stand your ground” precedent), the use of a gun against him was not justified. Zimmerman was hardly even injured. Maybe if Trayvon had a gun (since he had the right to stand his ground), he could’ve simply pointed it at Zimmerman, told him to leave, and the whole thing could have been avoided altogether. This is the argument that the NRA often uses in order to explain how more guns will somehow lead to less violence, and they could’ve applied it to Martin just as easily as anyone else.

If I have to conclude that any ideology is counter-productive here, it would be the idea that the black criminals are somehow are more powerful because the Left is somehow “defending” them out of political correctness.” –Benjamin Chylla

“If I am not mistaken, it was George Zimmerman who followed Trayvon all the way to his house…” Factless. The testimonies show that Zimmerman walked perhaps a block and a half from his car — not even anywhere near Trayvon’s house. Did you read the transcripts? Did you even listen to the (unedited) 911 tapes?

“after specifically being told by the police over the phone NOT to do so” Factless. “We don’t need you to do that” is not a command… not even a suggestion… and the court conversations end up in basic agreement of this, from both sides. So… you DIDN’T read the transcripts…

“(even though he was technically complying with the “stand your ground” precedent)” Factless. Not only did NEITHER SIDE of the case use the SYG argument (or even bring up the definition of what SYG might have meant in this incident), it would only have been relevant if Zimmerman had found himself in a situation — even for a moment, and regardless of anything that might have happened up until that moment — where he would have needed to decide whether it would be more appropriate to run (to save his life), or fight (to save his life). Dragging out SYG shows, again, that you have formed your opinion based on rhetoric and media abuses of the truth, and without a legal understanding of what occurred that night.

“Zimmerman was hardly even injured.” Factless. I will take it from your statement that you have no way of reading a police or medical report, nor have you ever had your head bashed repeatedly on the concrete. I do, and I have…

“…he could’ve simply pointed it at Zimmerman, told him to leave, and the whole thing could have been avoided altogether.” Factless. Again, from an evident ignorance of the testimony and facts in evidence, you presume that Trayvon did NOT circle back and SEEK ZIMMERMAN OUT — which is what the evidence DOES say.

“This is the argument that the NRA often uses in order to explain how more guns will somehow lead to less violence, and they could’ve applied it to Martin just as easily as anyone else.” You are attempting to make Trayvon out as someone who needed to be ’empowered’ so that he would have as likely a chance to survive the encounter as Zimmerman did. Unfortunately, Zimmerman only pulled his weapon out after he had been beaten on the concrete repeatedly — which effectively quells any argument that Trayvon felt unequal or deficient in any way.

READ SOMETHING that didn’t start on HuffPo or Rolling Stone.

Loss of Life

heldIn my life, I have lost.

I have lost the attention and respect of my now-teenage children.

I have lost the illusion that my wife married me for who I was.

I have lost all confidence I imagined as a provider.

I have lost the security of feeling loved.

I have lost friendships that I realize now were only in my mind.

I have lost reasons for rising in the morning, and for laying down at night.

I have lost memories now tainted with back-stories and realities that aren’t mine to retell.

I have lost respect for some I’ve bailed out and who have bailed me out many times over.

I have lost the music once felt with every inhaled breath.

And I have lost the glowing touch of life that renewed daily just from believing in another person.

My God has allowed me to lose these things, and without promise of replacing them, tells me that my needs do not include them.

He informs me that the Game was changed in my favor and that my station is risen though my eyes are cast down.

He reaches down to hold me in the way a parent comforts a truly helpless child and says I KNOW YOUR PAIN, AND I KNOW YOUR FUTURE, AND I AM THERE FOR BOTH.

But I have lost everything I know, except the frailty of being held down, held back, held up … held.

I look up and am blinded by hot tears or light — I’m not sure which.

I have not lost my Lord.

LINK: “Friday From My Heart: Held” (

Target is an ironic brand to request that gun owners don’t aim to shop there…

But it’s their store, their property, their environment, their customer base, their profit margin. Not a big deal for those of us who will choose to shop elsewhere.

TargetIt’s just voting people

Unlike the mis-characterizations from the Left, People Who Carry are not mean, paranoid, easily angered, unhinged or thick-headed. They are, however, deliberate, predisposed to serve others, interested in self-preservation, and PREPARED.

Along with the decisions that one has to make before making the Lifestyle Choices necessary to Carry comes an acknowledgement that not everyone will agree — and to be OK with that.

We aren’t going to march the perimeter, Jericho-style, like many lobby groups on the Left do… bullying is a tactic of those so amoral and weak-minded they can only achieve their goals as a mob — you won’t find those characteristics as often among people who have come to an understanding that sometimes in life, there is no one to take care of you and your family… but YOU.

P.S.: A special shout-out to the ‘advocacy groups’ who are trying to prove me wrong… that the People of the Gun are the types who show up in groups in an attempt to coerce a company to do their bidding: “HOW’S THAT WORKING OUT FOR YOU?” (oh, and… “STOP IT!”)

LINK: “Tamara Keel” (
LINK: “MDA Claims Victory: Target Asks Patrons Not To Bring Guns” (
LINK: “Good Citizens and Good Neighbors: The Gun Owners’ Role” (
LINK: “Open Carry Texas Controversy” (

Category: 2A