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You can’t get there from here. or…Why you can’t use Google Earth for an inexpensive aerial shot of “for sale” property.

On occasion, I have an idea so brilliant, so sensible, so easy that I figure that everyone should be doing it! But they aren’t. So it must be illegal. I’m unfortunately correct.

Without further ado, “Why can’t real estate agents use Google Earth or Google Maps for aerial photos or roadside photos?”

It seems so easy. It’s free. It’s publicly available. It should just be a matter of a couple of screenshots. Throw down some property lines with Paint and voila!  Now my clients can see what’s around them, where the property lines are and what it looks like. Easy.


An example of what you can’t do, shown here for purely educational/illustrative purposes

But then you hit the sticking point. Commercial usage. You’re trying to use the imagery to sell something. It’s not for educational purposes. It’s not some free thing you made. It’s not a comparison. It’s not a parody. It’s commercial. So you’re out of the legal territory of fair use. Now you need a license. You need permission.

So how much can a license cost to use screenshots? A few hundred dollars? maybe a Google Pro license? How much can that possibly cost?

It’s not for sale.

Google doesn’t sell on an image by image basis. They will sell you a license to use the Google Maps API for $10,000/year. That would let you place Google Map functionality on your commercial website. Regretfully, MLS isn’t about to let agents start adding APIs to their listings.

But I don’t need that! I just want some dumb jpgs! But the Google license doesn’t cover screenshots.

You can’t get there from here. You can’t get there from anywhere. It’s not a service/product that Google offers. That’s why you can’t do it.

“I understand your frustration, we have a lot of customers who say the same thing. [That a screengrab license would be awesome and greatly desired for real estate agents] I wish there was something I could offer you, but unfortunately I don’t make these decisions.” 

-the very kind Google representative with whom I spent a number of hours corresponding

Back to trying to get a commercial drone operators license….

The Ride Report – Vicksburg Battlefield. 03/28/15

Written from my personal perspective. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

My first “group” ride. Rescheduled from the previous week due to weather, the attendance took a sharp drop. 4 riders on 3 bikes set forth from the north gate of Stennis Space Center. MS (SSC) at 8:38am on 03/28/15.

The planned ride was:
I-59 to Lumberton
US13 (Lumberton) to Monticello
US27 to Vicksburg

Optional Battlefield Tour.

Individual ride home via preferred route.

That was the plan.

Now Reality.
I had packed the night before. Rain gear. Save a Ride Bag. Camera. Ram Mount for my Garmin GPS. Extra quart of oil and funnel. Chain was lubed. Oil was topped off. All systems checked. I was fairly confident, though wrong, that we were to go Kicks Stands Up at 0800. Used to driving through the site, now I had to go the long way round since my resignation from the DoD. Coming off of Texas Flat Road, I had 2 minutes to join the group for KSU. I rolled back on the throttle.

It’s like flying. Low level flying. The engine roars. The scenery sweeps by. It was a cold morning, and passing 95mph I was extra thankful for my cold weather gear. The brushguards kept the bulk of the wind off my hands, so I had foregone the snowmobile gloves, but still worn my heavy winter gloves. Xelement Leather jacket with insulated liner, heavy Xelement boots, FLY Racing pants over my jeans, a burberry scarf and my Hawk hi-viz yellow modular helmet, completed the ensemble.

… at 0800 I see the gate come into view and… no one there.

Well fuck.

Checking through my emails, I was early. A pleasant change.

“Mac” and his lady friend “Huey” (that’s what it sounded like, though I doubt she was named after the Bell UH-1), roared up on a Harley, ’05 Heritage Classic, around 0815. No windshield. With the temperatures in the 50’s, Mac was already cold and dreading the long hours in the saddle. I could empathize, with my ride to Tullahoma in October 2012 on a Ninja 250 being my first introduction to long distance riding.

“Chief” showed up last on his ’05 Aero Shadow VT750. Chief organized the event, so he’s in charge. It’s a command sponsored event, so we’re going to do this the Navy way. Close staggered formation. While waiting for our last rider, who was a no-show, we went over hand signals and where we would stop for gas.

Now, formation riding is not something I’ve ever done before. But I’m aware of it.

Staggered formation riding. Provided by the folks at Eagles Nest Harley Davidson

Chief would be our ride leader. He had been riding since 2005. He’d started in Italy, then Hawaii, then San Diego. We heard several tales of using ball bearings to ward off aggressive drivers.

Not an endorsement

Mac, with Huey, rode in second position and I brought up the rear. Mac was the newest rider and had never done a formation ride before. It showed. He was using a very wide & deep positional bubble. It did make things interesting. By the end of the day, he had improved tremendously in formation riding, but right now, I was making a lot of adjustments.

We turned off I-59 at exit 41, Lumberton and headed W on US13. Now, after coming off the interstate, we were still accustomed to moving fairly quickly. Just at the limits to greater metropolitan Lumberton (/sarcasm), there is a train track crossing. It looks flat as you’re coming at it from the east, but it’s a lie. It’s 2 parallel track lines and there is a drop down between them. I watched Chief hit it hard and get bounced fairly well. 2 seconds later I hit it. My skid plate hit the pavement as the front forks compressed on the 2 track. Later, I visually confirmed that it hit deep on the right back corner of the skid plate.

That shook me out of my calm. Afterwards, I started hearing some interesting metallic grinding everytime I went through 5500 rpm in 1-4 gears. I’m going to get that checked.

After Mac mis-shifted and stalled out his engine during a turn, I ended up in second position. This turned into a bit of a relief. I was able to move up into the tandem position and hold it easily. Looking at my GPS, I saw that we were coming up on US49 at Mendenhall. We stopped to refuel. I had to kick my kickstand down. That hit on the skidplate had definitely shifted things.

Chief had not seen the turn to US27 and we were now 20 miles past our turnoff. Mac was one cold man. He and Huey split a large cup of hot chocolate to warm themselves up. It didn’t feel like the weather had warmed much. Chief and I discussed the alternate route. Instead of backtracking, we took US49 to Jackson, and then kicked over to Vicksburg on I-20W.

We arrived in Vicksburg only 8 minutes behind our projected arrival.

Turning into the Vicksburg National Military Park, I saw the notice that firearms were prohibited on the site.

Upon further research, the policy is that firearms are prohibited in the National Park Service facilities/buildings. Had I been carrying, I could have left the .40 in the hard cases on my bike. It does not appear that the 2013 MS Open Carry Law House Bill 02 has been taken into account yet. 97-37-1 Section 1.4

(4)  For the  purposes of this section, “concealed” means hidden or obscured from common observation and shall not include any weapon listed in subsection (1) of this section, including, but not limited to, a loaded or unloaded pistol carried upon the person in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster that is wholly or partially visible, or carried upon the person in a scabbard or case for carrying the weapon that is wholly or partially visible.

I need to do more research for future rides.

Vicksburg National Military Park

This park is perfect for motorcyclists. There is a perimeter Tour Road that takes you to all of the sites. There are numerous pull over areas to allow for temporary parking and picture taking. I enjoyed my time at the park completely.

I was using a polarized filter on my lens. I’m going to see if I can clean up some of these images in post.

A very late lunch was had at Monsour’s at the Biscuit Company, which overlooks the Yazoo river just before it dumps into the mighty Mississippi. A historical fact: What is now the Yazoo going by the Monsour’s, was, in 1863, the course of the mighty Mississippi. There it was, that Chief said those same words I had uttered, lo these 16 long years ago. “What’s a Po-Boy?” For those who don’t know, it’s the Southern equivalent to a Hero, a Grinder, a Hoagie or a Submarine sandwich. Served on a large French baguette with a crispy crust and a fluffy center. The shrimp po-boy was delicious and Chief was mighty happy with the open faced roast beef po-boy. There were no words from Huey as she destroyed the burger. Our waitress, Felicia, was very convincing on the desserts… but alas, none of us succumbed. I think we were all looking at the clock and thinking about the long ride home.

Being the one with the Garmin, I led the way out of Vicksburg and back out onto I-20. We had agreed to stop for gas again once we’d slipped over onto I-55. We didn’t have to stick together, but we did. I was glad for the company.

There was ongoing road construction in the Jackson area. It got particularly ugly just after we came down from the interchange onto I-55. It was tight quarters, no shoulder, and everyone was moving quickly. A large red truck, possibly a Dodge (rearview mirror viewing), cut across 3 lanes of traffic and slid between Mac and Chief before disappearing up an off-ramp. The whole ride had felt pretty good, until we were hemmed in by traffic and that little sphincter-tightening event. To you Sir, in the Red Truck on I-55 on 03/28/15… you are an asshole.

We discussed the Red Truck at our gas stop. It was a hairy moment. A long and great ride could have gone wrong so very quickly. Not through a fault of our own, or something we could have avoided, but by the poor judgement of others. Weaponizing the bikes seemed like a valid option. Several mentions of paint guns and ball bearings were made. By Chief. I was definitely seeing his point. We said our goodbyes at the pumps and proceeded on. We didn’t expect to stop again.

Just north of Independence, Louisiana, Chief (in the lead) dramatically slowed down. I was in 3rd position and had to quickly brake to avoid a collision. I saw him reach over on the front left of his bike. He was switching to his reserve fuel line.

After a little over 100 miles, Chief was on his reserve. We took the first exit, though there was no “Gas” signs to be seen, but there was a sign for a Hospital. Pulling over on the ramp, Chief hopped off and immediately went to searching for a gas station on his phone, all the while cursing under his breath. I found an Exxon 2 miles away on my Garmin NUVI (a true touch screen from the days of old. I can operate it with my gloves on). We took off with renewed confidence that gas was to be had. Chief pulled over at the first Mom N’ Pop convenience store pump (Best Stop) he could find. Mac and I continued on to a brand new Quick Way, just a little further into town.

side note, the Quick Way is at the corner of 40 and W. Railroad Ave, not where G Maps currently has it. It is a brand new facility.

We picked up Chief on our way back to I-55, fully fueled and ready to go.

Tired and worn out, at night… is no way to run into Covington interstate traffic. The traffic coming in from the Causeway is what finally broke our formation. It was dark and it was getting crowded. Chief had primarily kept us in the right lane and was running a conservative (in my mind) speed. At highway speed, my Garmin speed agrees fairly well when I’m in my truck. On the bike, it’s a completely different story. The speedometer will read 85, and the Garmin will say 78. The speed tends to line up quite well around 50mph, but north of that mark, the variation seems to grow. I lend greater credence to the Garmin.

With causeway traffic pouring in, I changed into the left lane and rolled back hard. The V-strom responded well, and I leapt ahead, passing Mac and Chief in the night. I gave a final wave, and took off. Once I got into clear air, I was surprised to see Mac had followed me out and was behind me, back in the tandem formation position at my 5 o’clock. Together, we rode those last miles home as the chill of the night set in.

That night, I lay in the hottub and let the water blast my back. On Monday I will see about that grinding sound at 5500rpm with my guys at Coast Cycle World. It may just be a harmonics issue (fingers crossed). But if not, there is a lovely 1984 Honda GL1200LLTD at Coast Cycle for $3,500.

Chief, Mac and Huey… keep the rubber side down. 13.5 hours in the saddle. Solid ride.


Book Review – The Way of Men by Jack Donovan

The Way of Men by Jack Donovan is probably the most important book I have read this year. This ranks with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in my all time greats.

I devoured this short tome in a single evening. I couldn’t put it down. Mr. Donovan writes simply, passionately and without flinching from the singular topic of his book. There is no equivocation. There is no morality. There is no preaching or compromise.

Strength. Courage. Mastery. Honor. This is the Way of Men. This is masculinity. This is what is slowly being stolen before our eyes and substituted with Xbox, pornography, booze and busy work.

Every man should read this book. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This is going in my Christmas list for every man I know.

How I radically altered my body for the better – part 4

part1 part2 part 3

“Wait a minute,” said Rowland in his standard Metairie drawl. “You’re eating a pizza!”            I looked up from my medium ‘Carnivore’ pizza from Uncle Joe’s Pizza in Diamondhead, MS

“I thought you were working out and you’re eating a pizza? Doesn’t that negate the whole point of the gym?”

He walked away before I could explain.

It depends on what you’re trying to do. My current goal is to hit the 200lb mark. Then I will drop back to cutting.

I did this before back in early 2013. I jumped from 150lbs of bodyweight to 185lbs over the course of 4 months. Try to imagine that. Try to imagine a 1/4lb hamburger patty. That’s a pretty large piece of hamburger. It’s a respectable burger.

Now take 140 of them, and add them all over your body.

To do that takes effort and knowledge.

I wasn’t after any old weight, I wanted beautiful muscle. I wanted it quickly and with the minimal amount of effort required. I was tired of being the small guy. Light and nimble is wonderful… but it doesn’t give you a lot of options in a fight. With me being deployed to such Gardens of Eden as Nicaragua, the Philippines and Honduras… I wanted a bit more size to go with my Krav Maga training. After all, no body intentionally picks a fight with a bruiser. You go for the least masculine fellow and overwhelm. The guy who looks like he benches 200lbs… is slightly less appealing.

And now I was going to do it again. Only now, I knew how to do it and how to improve upon my previous results.

The genesis of the idea was The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferris. Particularly the section “From Geek to Freak: How to Gain 34 Pounds in 28 Days”. Now, full disclosure… it took me 4 months. I was starting from a point of doing no exercise. I was weighing in at 150lbs. I convinced my friend and co-worker, Daron to let me use his equipment at Iron Strike Crossfit in Diamondhead, MS. He agreed. He was curious to see if it worked.

Our modified program, based upon the equipment available looked something like this:

Monday – Pullups. 1 set to complete failure. If more than 7, increase weight (decrease assistance) the next week. Rest 3 minutes.

Benchpress. 1 set to complete failure. If more than 7, go up 10 lbs the next week.

Tuesday – rest

Wednesday – back squat. 1 set to complete failure. If more than 10, go up 20 lbs the next week. Rest 3 minutes.

Shoulder press. 1 set to complete failure. If more than 7, go up 10 lbs the next week.

Thursday – rest

Friday – decline pushups with weights. (I ended up with my feet elevated on a stack of weights, while Daron added weights onto my back. Then I did pushups) 1 set to failure. if more than 7, go up 10 lbs the next week. Rest 3 minutes.

Deadlist. 1 set to complete failure. If more than 10, go up 20 lbs the next week.

Weekend – rest

This was a workout that took me 15 minutes to accomplish. 3 days a week. 45 minutes a week. Think about that. Think about how very little time I spent in the gym. 3 hours a month. 12 hours in a 4 month period to gain 35 lbs. 2 sets. Both to failure. No additional reps.

Now, there is a difference between failure and complete failure. I didn’t go until I struggled on the last one and then called it a day. I pushed until I could not move. Daron acted as my safety spotter, allowing me to put on more weight. If I needed, he would help me get out safely. This let me push to utter and complete failure on the major lifts.

So that was my exercise regime.

Now. Is that all there was to it?

Of course not. If you don’t eat like you’re trying to gain weight, you’ll never put on pounds. You will get stronger, but your body won’t grow. If you’re lifting for size, eat for size. In fact, over eat.

So what are you eating for size?

Everything. The basics principles are simple. You need to do a daily intake of a gram of protein per lb of bodyweight. For me, that’s 170g of protein/day. And it’s going to go up. To hit +170g of protein daily, is going to take whole milk, Whey Isolate, and a ton of chicken and other high protein foot.

On top of that, your body is now starving for calories. And you’re going to give it calories. Instead of starving the body and forcing a ketogenic  fat burning response, you’re going to give it all the calories it could want. For gentlemen, aim high.

The Thrill of the Ride

He’s only had his motorcycle license for a few weeks. I’d ridden up to Slidell on my Suzuki V-Strom 650 DL so that he could practice in the back parking lot of the Hobby Lobby. He rode my bike to complete his testing. I had no worries with him on my bike. I knew the caliber of his training. Ride Motorschool

A few short days later, he rode his newly purchased bike down from Pearlington to Slidell, all on backroads. He was scared of riding on the interstate for the first time. I can’t say I blamed him. I remember my first time on my Ninja 250. The wind from the semis would nearly land shift me.

And now… there he was. Smiling ear to ear.

He’d just completed his first roadtrip via motorcycle. He couldn’t have looked happier.

Why do we do this? Why do we risk our lives on an inherently dangerous hobby?

I think that could stand more research.

How I radically altered my body for the better – Part 3.

In the last post, I discussed insulin control.

Now it’s time for the general philosophy of these eating plans.

At root, all of these plans begin with:

“Humanity evolved over the course of roughly 100,000 years from our Neanderthal ancestors. Agriculture is a new invention from just the past 10,000 years. The human genome was not designed to cope with the huge amounts of sugar, detrimental amino acids and toxins inherent in most commercially produced crops (corn, wheat, potatoes, rice, beans, pasta). Instead, the basis of our diet should be based upon meats, vegetables, fats, and moderate amounts of fruit. This would be more in tune with our evolution derived adaptations.”

A heavy reduction in carbohydrates ->drop in blood sugar ->less insulin ->less fat storage -> weight loss

Now, the problem with this, is that we also need calories to fuel ourselves. Meats and vegetables have nowhere near the calorie density of grains and beans. When I hard swapped over, I effectively halved my calorie intake. I was slowly starving, which caused serious muscle loss as well as fat loss. It is not possible to eat enough broccoli, spinach and kale to replace a single potato.

A medium potato is roughly 160 calories, rice is 210 calories, pasta at 390….

a cup of spinach is 7. A serving of broccoli is 50.

Do the math. But if you have a budget…

A ribeye steak is 847 calories! But steak isn’t cheap.

Chicken is 300 calories for a cup, making it very economical, but you’re still eating a lot of it.

The slow carb diet takes this basic premise and adds back in some beans (lentils, black beans and pinto beans) to serve as a source of protein, dietary fiber and calories. I discovered this much later in my pursuit of health. Adding beans back into the equation, we get 41 calories… per tablespoon. Holy Moses!

Eat your beans!

They are also economical with regards to cost. Now, not just any beans. Lentils, black beans, kidney beans and chick peas pinto beans contain the least amount of sugar with a Glycemic Load under 10.

I found this approach to be a wonderful balance. My weight loss stopped.

At that point, I started eating and exercising for muscle gain. I was lifting heavy weights for single sets to failure and eating huge meals full of brown rice, pinto beans and meat.

After 3 months, I had put on 20 lbs of lean muscle. I had put on an additional 15lbs that wasn’t muscle. Sticking to the slow carb plan… the first 5 lbs came off in 2 weeks. Dropping the last 10 and getting to 12% bodyfat… that required a bit more work. I worked harder to shed that final 10 that I had worked to drop that first 20.

All of the easy weight gains were gone. Now I was going to have to work for it.

If I was going to do it all over again… Here is what I would do differently.

Follow the slow carb plan.

Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains. If you have to ask, don’t eat it.
Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you’re just picking new default meals.
Rule #3: Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night is allowed.
Rule #4: Don’t eat fruit. (Fructose –> glycerol phosphate –> more bodyfat, more or less.) Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.
Rule #5: Take one day off per week and go nuts. I choose and recommend Saturday.

But… tweak as follows.

Rule #4: Fruit. If you’re going to eat it, have it in the evening. The body is much less sensitive to insulin spikes in the evening, thereby reducing the potential for fat storage. I am currently experimenting with fibrous fruit (like apples) and cholesterol balancing. When I first went onto the Primal Blueprint.. my cholesterol dropped from 230 to 147. As I moved more and more fruit off the list… my cholesterol levels jumped back above 200 and up to 270. Fibrous fruits and onions have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol. Both of which, I had been imbibing in large amounts. I will update once I get my cholesterol retested.

Rule #5: Cheat day… no. Make it a cheat meal. For me, it’s generally Saturday dinner. If I know I have a big event coming up or a party… I will postpone til that time.  I was never able to do a full cheat day. It always made me feel sick to my stomach. But a big, happy cheat meal… was something to be savored.


Next up.. exercising.