Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review: Twyllyp by Peter Farrow and Diane Lampert

I don't remember how I acquired this book. I know that I was still quite young, but I don't remember who gave it to me or if it was a special occasion such as a birthday or Christmas. It's just a book that I've had for a long time. I could say that it's one of my favorite children's books, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. It is one of my favorite books. Period.

Twyllyp is a Xyzrbian. That's him, playing the flugel. He plays sad songs for the Frubuns (those are not trees, they are Frubuns) so that they will weep and water their roots. But other than the Frubuns, no one else on Xyzrb really likes Twyllyp very much. Everyone makes fun of him because he's old enough that he shouldn't have to talk with his mouth anymore, but still does because he was born with a bent left talkstalk.

Twyllyp is profusely illustrated with black & white line drawings such as the ones I've scanned here. Each page shows a rich and playful imagination on the part of the authors (Farrow was also the illustrator). It is the story of a young Xyzrbian who is recruited by a Wikit for an expedition to a planet where intelligent life is suspected to exist. Twyllyp is not terribly smart, but the Wikit chooses him because he is kinder than he is smart. As one of the Wikit's mottoes states: SMART IS SMART BUT KIND IS SMARTER.

Roughly the last half of the book deals with Twyllyp's adventures on the newly-discovered planet (which is, of course, Earth), but the beginning gives us fascinating glimpses of the various lifeforms of Xyzrb. Here Twyllyp is following Arrows, because on Xyzrb it is always wise to follow Arrows. If you don't, they get behind you and push with their very sharp noses.

"On the peakiest point of the pointedest peak." This image has been firmly embedded in my memory for nearly forty years now, and I think of it every time I see a mountain.

There are also creatures called Pokwokets, which look like socks with legs, and which are employed by most Xyzrbians to carry things. But none of them want to work for Twyllyp because he is so universally ridiculed:
"No self-respecting Pokwoket would want to be a Pokwoket to you!" they sniggled, and ran away in forty-six directions.
Forty-six directions. Another image that has stayed in my mind since I was a small child.


Here is a page that I scanned in larger resolution (click to enlarge) because it lists an A to Z of many of the creatures of Xyzrb. Well, "A" is on the previous page, a string-like creature called an Aggle. A few of these beings are mentioned again later in the book. For example, we later learn that the Sly Nern is not only sly, but "terrible" and "whipsnapping."

Twyllyp's only knowledge of Earth is gained from listening to commercial radio stations as he flew through space, which leaves him quite befuddled and confused after crash-landing. But by following the wisdom imprinted on the Wikit's mottoes, he manages to get by and even make friends for the first time in his life.

I don't really know anything technical about illustrating. But the illustrations in this book, despite having the apparent limitation of black & white, are sweeping and broad in their ability to show action, mood, and life in general.

My kids love this book. I've read it to them several times (a complete read-through takes about 45 minutes, mostly because the illustations are so wonderful to behold). It is no longer in print. If you stumble across one in a used book store, buy it. There are currently three available through Amazon, but it has become somewhat collectible and prices start at $25.

Crossposted from Incunabulon.

Make a movie meme

Cowboy Blob has posted an interesting meme that should be of interest to bibliophies. Check it out.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It's (not) funny because it's true...

I'm still catching up on some sites from the backlog created by the internet hiatus from a couple of months ago.

Sometimes the Cracked writers, in search of humor, write some very pointed and relevant satire. Here's one article that might fit that category.

5 Psychological Experiments That Prove Humanity is Doomed

I recommend it. Already old in internet terms, but timeless.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The first thing you remember reading...

What was it? For me, it was the funny papers.

I still remember many things from when I was very young. One thing I remember is having to beg one of my parents or my grandmother to read me the comics from the newspaper. I still remember thinking to myself, "I can't wait to learn how to read so I can read the funny papers all by myself."

My parents put me in a private kindergarten (back then there were no public kindergartens where we lived) when I was four years old. Our teacher was a retired elementary school teacher who had opened her own kindergarten after retiring from public school. I spent two years there before I started first grade. By the time I was five, one year before I started first grade, I was reading the funny papers all by myself. I soon graduated up to reading paperback collections of Peanuts comics that my mother had collected. I still have them, some of them the really old versions back when Charlie Brown looked much younger and didn't have quite such a large head.

So what was the first "real" book I ever read? That would be Tom Sawyer. It was a Christmas gift from a bibliophile aunt of mine who recognized a kindred spirit in me. It was daunting, such a thick novel with such grown-up language to my six-year-old eyes. At first I picked through it, reading the chapter about Tom and Huck witnessing the murder in the cemetery three or four times before I actually read the book. Even at that young age I was already attracted to the macabre. I read the whole book for the first time when I was seven (if I recall correctly). By the time I was 12 I had probably read it at least a dozen times.

That first time I read it, when I got to the part about Tom naming two of the apostles as David and Goliath, the chapter ends with, "Let us draw the curtain of charity over this scene." I remember taking it to my mother and showing her what it said, and then concluded, "That means he got a spanking." My mother laughed, but didn't try to correct me. Later on I realized that's not what it meant, but I was still pretty sure that if I had stood up in front of the entire congregation and stated that David and Goliath were two of the apostles, I would probably have been in trouble for it.

When I reached my teen years I stopped reading it, and many years went by before I even touched the book again. Revisiting Tom and Huck's adventures was like reliving parts of my own childhood, remembering how I perceived certain passages so many years before, and contrasting them with how I perceived them as an adult. It is still one of my favorite books, however, I was well into my twenties before I first read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Jellyfish Dreams

Übercreepy

More tentacular visions of Ray Ceasar at Under Vhoorl's Shadow.

The perfect thing for sipping your DNC Kool-Aid

Polly want a nice juicy mouse?

A genetic study of 169 bird species has shown that some birds are not what we think:
Grebes, a type of diving bird, are not related to loons, as ornithologists had long believed. Surprisingly, grebes appear closely related to flamingos.

The analysis also showed falcons are more closely related to parrots than to other hunters such as hawks and eagles. If true, the finding would mean that falcons do not even belong in the scientific order originally named for them.
Another item for the "the more we learn, the more we realize how wrong we were" files.

Friday, June 27, 2008

That's gonna cost you some SAN...

Here's a nice rendering of Shub-Niggurath that caught my eye. With a little G00gl3 sleuthing I was able to discover that the indecipherable signature is that of Patrick McEvoy, who also created the image of Yog-Sothoth that I posted some time back.

Hoax

And of course, since the devoutly environmentalist MSM swallowed the story whole, they have been somewhat reluctant to spread the new word that it was all faked.

You know what I'm talking about.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Review: Twyllyp by Peter Farrow and Diane Lampert

I don't remember how I acquired this book. I know that I was still quite young, but I don't remember who gave it to me or if it was a special occasion such as a birthday or Christmas. It's just a book that I've had for a long time. I could say that it's one of my favorite children's books, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. It is one of my favorite books. Period.

Twyllyp is a Xyzrbian. That's him, playing the flugel. He plays sad songs for the Frubuns (those are not trees, they are Frubuns) so that they will weep and water their roots. But other than the Frubuns, no one else on Xyzrb really likes Twyllyp very much. Everyone makes fun of him because he's old enough that he shouldn't have to talk with his mouth anymore, but still does because he was born with a bent left talkstalk.

Twyllyp is profusely illustrated with black & white line drawings such as the ones I've scanned here. Each page shows a rich and playful imagination on the part of the authors (Farrow was also the illustrator). It is the story of a young Xyzrbian who is recruited by a Wikit for an expedition to a planet where intelligent life is suspected to exist. Twyllyp is not terribly smart, but the Wikit chooses him because he is kinder than he is smart. As one of the Wikit's mottoes states: SMART IS SMART BUT KIND IS SMARTER.

Roughly the last half of the book deals with Twyllyp's adventures on the newly-discovered planet (which is, of course, Earth), but the beginning gives us fascinating glimpses of the various lifeforms of Xyzrb. Here Twyllyp is following Arrows, because on Xyzrb it is always wise to follow Arrows. If you don't, they get behind you and push with their very sharp noses.

"On the peakiest point of the pointedest peak." This image has been firmly embedded in my memory for nearly forty years now, and I think of it every time I see a mountain.

There are also creatures called Pokwokets, which look like socks with legs, and which are employed by most Xyzrbians to carry things. But none of them want to work for Twyllyp because he is so universally ridiculed:
"No self-respecting Pokwoket would want to be a Pokwoket to you!" they sniggled, and ran away in forty-six directions.
Forty-six directions. Another image that has stayed in my mind since I was a small child.


Here is a page that I scanned in larger resolution (click to enlarge) because it lists an A to Z of many of the creatures of Xyzrb. Well, "A" is on the previous page, a string-like creature called an Aggle. A few of these beings are mentioned again later in the book. For example, we later learn that the Sly Nern is not only sly, but "terrible" and "whipsnapping."

Twyllyp's only knowledge of Earth is gained from listening to commercial radio stations as he flew through space, which leaves him quite befuddled and confused after crash-landing. But by following the wisdom imprinted on the Wikit's mottoes, he manages to get by and even make friends for the first time in his life.

I don't really know anything technical about illustrating. But the illustrations in this book, despite having the apparent limitation of black & white, are sweeping and broad in their ability to show action, mood, and life in general.

My kids love this book. I've read it to them several times (a complete read-through takes about 45 minutes, mostly because the illustations are so wonderful to behold). It is no longer in print. If you stumble across one in a used book store, buy it. There are currently three available through Amazon, but it has become somewhat collectible and prices start at $25.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Uh oh...

It looks like someone rediscovered the old Hellsing post. At least there won't be any bandwidth problems this time.

Sometimes you find a surprise


Back in the 80s I used to get book catalogs from Loompanics and Amok. Occasionally I ordered from them. Eventually, when I stopped ordering, they stopped sending catalogs, of course. Their inventory is similar, although not identical. The little volume at right (cover scan) is a book I bought from one of them, although I don't remember which.

Recently, since starting a Shelfari account, I have a side-hobby of looking up the odd book at Amazon.com to see if anything interesting turns up. I thought that this would be one book pert near impossible to find, since it was printed by what appeared to be a tiny company called Egotist Press (can't find a link--no website, apparently), and although the binding is solid, it was obviously very inexpensively done. This is a no-frills edition, and looks almost like something I could make myself with a computer and a printer, although the binding itself is much better than anything I could do with my industrial-sized stapler.

I was very surprised at what I found. One seller has one copy of this book available through Amazon. Asking price: $103.67.

Wow. I'll have to take extra special care of this one.

A couple of things that puzzle me

I was looking at air purifiers yesterday, and it suddenly came to me that they all have capacities rated in square feet. Since they are made to filter the air inside a three-dimensional space, wouldn't it be more appropriate to rate them in cubic feet? Although, it seems to me that a really accurate representation of their capacities would be cubic feet per minute or something like that.

One other thing. When it comes to bladed weapons in Dungeons & Dragons, why is the druid restricted to the scimitar? This makes no sense. Druids were Celtic, and the scimitar was Persian. Yet another reason why I mostly ignored or revised weapons restrictions when I was Dungeon Master.

The Big Steer

Here's a really lousy cell phone photo through my dirty windshield of the giant steer atop the old Union Stockyards on S. San Marcos street. I had to kill some time today before I showed up back at the office, so I parked in the shade of the billboard next to the Union Stockyards Building for a while. In my previous job, our office was that small white building to the right of the steer. Here's a story my dad told me.

When he was a little boy, he and his father (my grandpa) hauled a bull in to sell there. My grandpa had built his own wooden sideboards for his pickup to haul the bull. This was before the interstate system was built. They had to haul it all the way from the Floresville area. They came up Nogalitos Street and turned onto Furnish. Just as they crossed the small bridge at the intersection of Furnish and San Marcos, the bull spooked, kicked out the sideboards, and escaped. So they had a loose, somewhat perturbed bull running loose. Several men who were there at the stockyards ran across the street and helped them herd it into a pen.

Which reminds me yet again how much I would really like to get my hands on a map of San Antonio from before the interstates were built.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Possessed by books


This is what happened today.

While working, I came across a pile of brush and trash along a curb in front of a house. There was one box filled with pocket-sized Gideon Bibles. There must have been 60 to 70 Bibles in that box. Someone was throwing them out.

A few of them were rumpled from being stored carelessly, but the vast majority were still in perfect condition. I felt sick that someone was going to throw them all in the garbage. The garbage truck was making the rounds of the neighborhood--would I make it back in time?

Not just because they were Bibles. Although I probably wouldn't have felt the same sense of urgency if it had been a box full of, say, biographies of Anton LaVey, I still would have tried to save books that were in such good condition. If all else failed, they would be good for trade credit at the local used book store.

I rushed through the rest of my route and made it back about 30 minutes later. The bad news is, the Bibles were gone. The good news is, all the rest of the garbage was still there. So...someone else must have spotted the box and absconded with it. Although slightly disappointed that I couldn't save them myself, at least I feel reasonably sure that they will be put to good use.

And they won't just be part of a landfill.

Location, location, location

Meet God Lucky Thompson. Yes, that's his first name. Arrested for selling cocaine. His charges will be further increased because:

1. He was within 1,000 feet of a school.
2. He was within 1,000 feet of public housing.
3. He was within 1,000 feet of a church building.

Location!

In a word meme

Seen at Baboon Pirates.

Only ONE word can be used in your answer and it can NOT be used twice.

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk

2. Your significant other? Work

3. Your hair? Disheveled

4. Your mother? Retired

5. Your father? Rancher

6. Your favourite time of day? Quitting

7. Your dream last night? Forgot

8. Your favourite drink? Tea

9. Your dream goal? Novel

10. The room you’re in? Sanctum

11. Your ex? None

12. Your fear? Future

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Here

14. What you are not? Evil

15. Your Favourite meal? Venison

16. One of your wish list items? Pistol

17. The last thing you did? Puffed

18. Where you grew up? Stockdale

19. What are you wearing? Uniform

20. Your TV is? Off

21. Your pets? Dogs

22. Your computer? Laptop

23. Your life? Good

24. Your mood? Level

25. Missing someone? No

26. Your car? Pickup

27. Something you’re not wearing? Watch

28. Favourite store? Book (favourite?)

29. Your summer? Hottish

30. Your favourite colour? Blue

31. When is the last time you laughed? Today

32. When is the last time you cried? Terabithia

33. Your health? Fine

34. Your children? DOOMing

35. Your future? Promising

36. Your beliefs? Strong

37. Young or old? Medium

38. Your image? Without

39. Your appearance? Haggard

40. Would you live your life over again knowing what you know? Hellno

Monday, June 23, 2008

Smoking marijuana inside coffee shops will still be legal in Holland

But not if it's mixed with tobacco. If it's mixed, you'll have to go outside.

Collectivism

Once, Kira and Leo attempted to spend the night in the country.

"Certainly," said the landlady. "Certainly, citizens, I can let you have a room for the night. But first you must get a certificate from your Upravdom as to where you live in the city, and a permit from your militia department, and then you must bring me your labor books, and I must register them with out Soviet here, and our militia department, and get a permit for you as transient guests, and there's a tax to pay, and then you can have the room."

They stayed in the city.

--Ayn Rand, We the Living
Some Democrats in Congress have recently expressed the desire to nationalize the oil industry. If you think that traveling within the U.S. is difficult now, due to "Homeland Security," just wait for all the red tape you'll have to cut to get an extra tank of gas for your vacation.

So, after years of having a few of her books on my shelves and never reading them--except for Anthem, which I read once long ago--I have begun reading Rand. I recently purchased several of her books at once which I didn't already have (all used via an eBay auction). I decided to read her works as closely as possible to the order in which she wrote them, thus have begun with the book excerpted above. Technically a work of fiction, but realistic fiction based on her personal experiences in the U.S.S.R. If I weren't personally opposed to coercive education, I would say this book should be required reading for everyone, especially with socialism looming on our metaphorical horizon the way it is now.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Politics as usual...

...during a July election in the year 1758, George Washington's agent supplied 160 gallons [of alcoholic beverages] to 391 voters and "unnumbered hangers-on." This amounted to more than a quart and a half a voter. An itemized list of the refreshments included 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer, and 2 gallons of cider royal.

-- Charles S. Sydnor, American Revolutionaries in the Making
I remember when Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas, a certain flaming Democrat I knew said he voted for her because she threw a big party and everyone there got free beer. "I'll vote for anyone who gives me free beer," he said.

Such high standards.

Other things...

I've started playing around with Shelfari. As with other projects, it seems to take me away from this blog, although not necessarily from blogging in general.

This blog is not what it used to be. I have decided to follow the example of some other bloggers and make a clean break rather than try to transform this blog into something other than what it has become. It will remain here as a sort of central point for other projects and occasional personal posts, but I don't expect to be as active here as I used to be.

So if anyone wants to follow me into other ventures, that's fine. If not, that's fine too.

And if anyone thinks I've lost heart or wimped out with a lack of "serious" topics, well, that's not exactly true. More than a year ago, when I was trying to find a new job, I seriously contemplated deleting this blog and continuing on anonymously. So I started an anonymous blog. Although it isn't terribly active, there is nothing frivolous there. It's my rant blog. Someday I may decide to out myself, but for now I'll just leave it as is. Of course if anyone goes to the trouble to figure it out, I won't be broken-hearted. I figure if I'm going to be on any big list, I'm already there from stuff I've written on this blog.

But back to Shelfari. This thing looks like a lot of fun, but could be a terrible time-sucker. I've spent most of the day today fiddling with it and starting a new blog oriented around it, called Incunabulon (which is partly a real word and partly something I made up).

Oh yeah, there are still a few blogs that I will be reading regularly, have no fear of that.

Review: The Strange Case of Patty Hearst

Is there, then, an antidote to the escalation in political terrorism that the case of Patty Hearst seems to foreshadow? Opinion varies...The bomb and the bullet do not work. Violence invites, indeed demands, an over-kill reaction...In their ongoing quest fo a better America, [radical activist leaders] have concluded that rather than kill the mosquito with a cannon it is better to work slowly to drain the swamp. Yet the aberrant Cinques and Symbionese Liberation Armies survive, and the sheer drama of their operations could shift us from sane and systematic avenues of social progress to violent and ultimately meaningless bloodshed.
A concluding, and perhaps prophetic, paragraph from The Strange Case of Patty Hearst. Published in 1974, after the most of the SLA was killed in a bloody shootout with Los Angeles police but before Hearst and the two surviving members were captured and imprisoned. Some may consider this book obsolete, since it was written before the story was really concluded. I do not. A book like this is in effect a snapshot of the time that was, produced by the urgency of trying to understand a new phenomenon. The Stockholm Syndrome was only beginning to be understood, but the Hearst case was different. The phenomenon named the Stockholm Syndrome was a case in which captives came to sympathize with and defend their captors; in the Hearst Syndrome she not only came to sympathize with and defend them, but to actively participate in their crimes until she was forcibly stopped.

The Strange Case of Patty Hearst briefly details the life of Patricia Hearst and continues on to cover the kidnapping itself, communiques from the SLA, and the thoughts and actions of those close to her at the time. It describes an America that felt betrayed by a pretty young college student, unassuming in spite of being an heiress. It was a time, years before the Murrah Federal Building and 9/11, when the people of America only thought they knew what terrorism was. America in general, and perhaps the authors, specifically, attempted to answer for themselves how and why this could have happened, but ultimately admit failure:
A nation's soul is at stake, its vulnerability laid bare.
"Patty come home" was the futile outcry. And the answer was a mocking silence.
Patty Hearst's prison sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter in 1976; President Bill Clinton granted her a full pardon on his last day in office. One must wonder if she would have received such leniency if she had been unattractive and poor rather than pretty and wealthy. I think this may be only one of many unanswered questions.

Grand Statement of Purpose

Just another blog about my books, reading habits, and thoughts relating to same.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pickman's Portrait

Turn your favorite portrait into a sepia-tinted ghoulish likeness for $24.95 at What On Earth.

Yeah, it's been a while since I've done any weekendish postings of macabre and/or Cthulhuian graphics that catch my eye. So first I went searching for "nightgaunt" and didn't find anything new that was especially good. So I tried "ghoul" and found this.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Book commentary: The Strange Case of Patty Hearst

Is there, then, an antidote to the escalation in political terrorism that the case of Patty Hearst seems to foreshadow? Opinion varies...The bomb and the bullet do not work. Violence invites, indeed demands, an over-kill reaction...In their ongoing quest fo a better America, [radical activist leaders] have concluded that rather than kill the mosquito with a cannon it is better to work slowly to drain the swamp. Yet the aberrant Cinques and Symbionese Liberation Armies survive, and the sheer drama of their operations could shift us from sane and systematic avenues of social progress to violent and ultimately meaningless bloodshed.
A concluding, and perhaps prophetic, paragraph from The Strange Case of Patty Hearst. Published in 1974, after the most of the SLA was killed in a bloody shootout with Los Angeles police but before Hearst and the two surviving members were captured and imprisoned. Some may consider this book obsolete, since it was written before the story was really concluded. I do not. A book like this is in effect a snapshot of the time that was, produced by the urgency of trying to understand a new phenomenon. The Stockholm Syndrome was only beginning to be understood, but the Hearst case was different. The phenomenon named the Stockholm Syndrome was a case in which captives came to sympathize with and defend their captors; in the Hearst Syndrome she not only came to sympathize with and defend them, but to actively participate in their crimes until she was forcibly stopped.

The Strange Case of Patty Hearst briefly details the life of Patricia Hearst and continues on to cover the kidnapping itself, communiques from the SLA, and the thoughts and actions of those close to her at the time. It describes an America that felt betrayed by a pretty young college student, unassuming in spite of being an heiress. It was a time, years before the Murrah Federal Building and 9/11, when the people of America only thought they knew what terrorism was. America in general, and perhaps the authors, specifically, attempted to answer for themselves how and why this could have happened, but ultimately admit failure:
A nation's soul is at stake, its vulnerability laid bare.
"Patty come home" was the futile outcry. And the answer was a mocking silence.
Patty Hearst's prison sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter in 1976; President Bill Clinton granted her a full pardon on his last day in office. One must wonder if she would have received such leniency if she had been unattractive and poor rather than pretty and wealthy. I think this may be only one of many unanswered questions.

Did you ever try to keep a reading diary?

I did, but it didn't last long. I recently found small a spiral notebook in which I had tried to keep a reading diary. It lasted for a few months. But during early 1998 I was reading A Knickerbocker's History of New York and a collection of M.R. James ghost stories. I was also attempting to read the Old Testament. It looks like I made it to Isaiah.

I might use the blog to note books that I've just finished, but I don't like to talk too much about books I'm currently reading, because it seems to always jinx me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strange Maps

Strange Maps is a blog that studies the world and various concepts in map form. I've just given it a quick scan and it looks very interesting. I will certainly be checking it out as often as I can.


This is a map from a recent post, China as an Island. This post studies population dispersion and control in China. Other recent posts are, "Federal Lands in the U.S." and "The New World Order, 1942."

Check it out.

Right and Duty

The Constitutional Right and Social Obligation to Carry a Gun, chapter 20 of the book Living With Glocks, is reproduced in full at the USCCA website.
That loaded pistol in your holster is a powerful expression of your Constitutionally guaranteed liberty as an American citizen, your recognition of the solemn duty you have to your fellow man, and your willingness to accept the full weight of a life-and-death responsibility.

When you are prepared to defend yourself, you are equally prepared to defend all of society and all of its guiding principles. Your responsibilities are therefore many -- moral, legal and tactical. That is why most people, including lifelong gun owners, experienced hunters and competitive shooters, even in states that freely issue concealed carry permits, do not choose to carry a gun.

Your moral responsibilities are to fire your gun into another human being only when the line of necessity has clearly been reached, and then to fire without hesitation and to full effect.
And this quote from the Roman philosopher Cicero, some 2,000 years before the Constitution was written:
There exists a law, not written down anywhere but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading but by derivation and absorption and adoption from nature itself; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.
The author is Robert H. Boatman, and his books are available at boatmanbooks.com.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thank you!

I just want to say thanks to Cowboy Blob for the photoshop job on my photo. I just uploaded it for my profile avatar.

Thanks, Blob! I'll put in a good word for you with the Big Guy.

Reading the sidewalk

Today I worked in an area I hadn't been in yet off S. Presa just south of downtown. They put in new sidewalks some time ago, and there were short historical factoids imprinted in the concrete. I'm surprised this photo turned out at all. The glare from the sun was so bad I couldn't see if I was getting a photo of it or not. This was the first one I saw. There were many of these on the 300 and 400 blocks of Florida Street, and some on South Presa. This one says: THEY LIVED UPSTARS...THEY HAD A BAKER DOWNSTAIRS AND HE WOULD MAKE FRENCH BREAD, AND OOOH, YOU COULD SMELL THAT BREAD ALL THE WAY DOWN THE BLOCK.

I guess these were little bits from or about people who lived there or had lived there. In a couple of places they had also somehow managed to screen some grayscale photos directly onto the concrete. One of them was a photo of someone "presiding over the soda counter" at one of the old Pig Stand restaurants in 1938. I could have probably finished 15 or 20 minutes sooner, but I kept stopping to read the sidewalk.

That thing on the left is my hook.

P.S. Today I saw a dog that looked like a cross between a Rottweiler and a Dachshund. Oh, that such a creature could exist on this earth! I'm pretty sure I lost at least 1d4 SAN.

See what Cowboy Blob did

At Full Bore. He photoshopped my motivational poster and it's really cool.

Oh yeah, I also won his caption contest for last week.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Superior

114

As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!


Seen at One Monkey's Typewriter. I wasn't going to bother posting the results, but I like the picture.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A personalized motivational poster

Oh man, I looked rough in that photo. Taken on a whim with my cell phone last summer sometime, after finishing a particularly hard route. I think it was my regular "11," which starts on Cresham street in the area of Rittiman and Harry Wurzbach. "11" is part of our meter reader lingo. I'm always kind of fascinated by the lingo that various sub-cultures develop, and of course many occupations are sub-cultures of their own. By saying "my 11," I mean "the route that I usually get when we're doing Cycle 11." There are 20 cycles.

Some routes are so bad that they are given a proper name from some specific place or characteristic of the route, such as "The Pig Farm" (which I've never done), "The Barn Door" (which I've done part of), Crownridge (which is my regular 5), and The Dominion (another 5 which I've helped on many times--it's so big it takes at least three people two days to finish), and "Alamodome" (which is my semi-regular 15).

This summer heat gets me down. I had already decided not to do a volunteer Saturday this time so I could get some rest, but then they decided not to have one anyway. I must have really been worn out. I took two naps Saturday for a total of about 1 1/2 hours sleep, and then went to sleep at 8:00 PM Saturday night anyway. I didn't even have a pipe on Saturday!

Anyhow, I've been slacking off even more than usual on blogging lately to try and refocus myself. I've actually begin reading a lot more, that is, reading books. I've also been limiting the number of different blogs that I try to keep updated on. So if I haven't left a comment at your blog lately, it isn't anything personal. I've just been trying to do other things.

In spite of the excess of books around here, I discovered that there were some I really wanted to read but didn't have--two of them I did have before, but no longer. One was lost when it was loaned and never returned, the other I traded at a used book store and now have decided I should have kept it. Oh well. I made a good score on eBay for 5 books by this author that should hold me for a while. More on that later, maybe.

Three books are cracked right now. Here are the opening paragraphs in case anyone wants to guess.

1. Her name is Patricia Campbell Hearst and here she comes, light brown hair flying in the California wind, as she thunders down the bridle path at Pebble Beach, aboard the big bay gelding. She is galloping hard and waving at the solitary figure who sits atop the fence watching her, mooning over her, grateful for that one quick, flashing smile that makes his day more bearable.

2. If Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Marshall had never lived, the nation could not, of course, have benefited by their thoughts and actions; neither, for that matter, would it have received much profit from them, alive and in full possession of their powers, if they had been left in the obscurity of private life. Statesmen come to the helm of government only if society has ways of discovering men of extraordinary talent, character, and training and of elevating them, rather than their inferiors, to office. Democracy must do two things and do them well: it must develop men who are fit to govern, and it must select for office these men rather than their less worthy contemporaries.

3. Petrograd smelt of carbolic acid.

Oh yeah, I had so much fun writing that "tobacco review" that I'm planning on doing more like it. After all, I do this mostly for myself. Even if it makes people think I'm smoking something besides tobacco in that pipe.

Which I'm not.

The FoldCat

Ate lunch with my dad today, and he clued me in to this little beauty: the FoldCat Inflatable Catamaran. Saw it advertised in his Field & Stream, where they (wisely, I think) failed to mention the price so they could get you to visit the website.

A 12-foot long pontoon boat that can fold up small enough to fit in a car truck and weighs only 75 pounds. $1,149. I can't see him shelling out that kind of money for a mere fishing boat--not for the places he fishes, but still, that's a cool little boat.

Oh and by the way, only the pontoons have to be inflated. And they're tough. They claim they banged on it with the sharp end of a claw hammer and failed to do any damage. So it should be able to stand up to whatever the Cibolo Creek could bring against it.

A real-life Adrian Monk

The woman who can remember everything - Telegraph:
Jill Price, 42, can remember every part of her life since she was 14 but considers her ability a curse as she cannot switch off.

She described her life as like a split-screen television, with one side showing what she is doing in the present, and the other showing the memories which she cannot hold back.

Every detail about every day since 1980 - what time she got up, who she met, what she did, even what she ate - is locked in her brain and can be released to come flooding back by common triggers like songs, smells or place names.

[...]

"But I also recall every bad decision, insult and excruciating embarrassment. Over the years it has eaten me up. It has kind of paralysed me."
She said essentially the same thing that the fictional character of Adrian Monk says: "It's a gift...and a curse."

Maybe Help scratched the buffet


More at Oddee. Just start at the top and keep scrolling.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Now it makes sense

News of the Weird:
Two men from the class of ’08 did not graduate from Duke University in May because they were two of the three lacrosse players accused of rape in March 2006 and were forced to suspend their academic pursuits in order to defend themselves against the charges that were later dismissed. Another ’08 student did graduate in May in Durham, from North Carolina Central University: Crystal Mangum, the drug-abusing, part-time stripper who had relentlessly accused the three of raping her but whose story was later found to be completely unsupported. Mangum’s degree is in police psychology.

The problem with "empathy"

PowerOfBabel posts a Rambling Rant on Empathy that is worth reading:
Whenever anybody sets up to be "a voice for the voiceless," little alarm bells go off in my head. It always suggests for me a subtle grab for power from groups which, by their very definition, can never disagree or protest decisions made in their name. Decisions made for non-coherent groups of humans, such as the very young, the senile, the comatose, the mentally disturbed, made by some self-appointed ambassador, seem to me questionable if they pose these decisions as the sensitively divined wills of the non-coherent themselves, rather than as the decisions of the ambassadors, no matter how humanely and ethically arrived at they may be. It seems to me to be patronizing in the worst, most extreme sense of the word. People can have trouble figuring out the will and desires of people they know and can speak with, sometimes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stream-of-consciousness tobacco review: Peter Stokkebye's Luxury Bullseye Flake

Here and here are thoughts:
memories I did not live,
and dreams forgotten.

I am on a journey of discovery. A discovery of the senses, where taste and smell intertwine and tease each other with flirting hints of rare spices and guilty, candy-like pleasures. To put this sense into words is like trying to pick up honey with my bare hands. An impossible task, it flows away in thick skeins, some of it sticks, but is it enough?

Blue smoke rolls on the palate like cinnamon dust. But there is more: nutmeg perhaps, fresh hay, sandalwood, hickory leaves baking in the hot summer sun. A spice never meant to be eaten, but only experienced. Breathe it. See how it fills the night? Somewhere a small forgotten god has smelled this pleasing aroma and smiled briefly in his sleep.

Breathe it. Let the tendrils drift around you. Let them touch your nostrils. Does it remind you of food? Of drink? Of a woman? Or does it remind you of that which you have never known, never known but suspected, suspected only in forgotten dreams of alien lands where strange small people harvest hidden fruits beneath a waning moon.

I need not know the answers. Only know that this is a tiny moment of now suspended in the swift transition of the ages. Like all things, it will soon pass.

This small, finite censer I hold in my teeth, it burns only briefly. Soon it will extinguish itself. Someday there will be another. But will it ever be like this again? Should it ever be like this again?

Only dream your forgotten dreams, and remember these things that were or may have been, and let the smoke lie on the back of your tongue for an instant before it dissipates. At this moment, nothing else matters.

crossposted at The Briar Files

P.S. Now you see why I rarely write tobacco reviews.

The Evolution of Food

From omnia exeunt in mysterium via Under Vhoorl's Shadow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Freedom Arms pistol

Via Bill St. Clair:

Comes with exchangeable barrels for .22 long rifle, .357 magnum, .375 Winchester, and 6.5 JDJ. Accurate, and not at all punishing with the rifle cartridges. Still in development, and may ship with different calibers.
Very cool.

Brief encounter

You sorry sonofa...

I work hard at trying to control my tongue, even when I'm not speak aloud. This was one of those trying times. I let the curse trail away unfinished.

A homeowner had recently applied carpet grass sod to his yard. He had somehow managed to "overlook" his water meter. Sure, he "overlooked" it. He had somehow managed to meticulously avoid covering all of his sprinkler controls and his cut-off, and just as meticulously managed to completely cover the biggest and most obvious lid of all: his water meter.

You...

His across-the-street neighbor was standing in his front yard, and although I hadn't looked directly at him, I knew he was watching me. So instead of just ripping up the sod as I was prone to do, I carefully peeled up each rectangle of sod, ramming my hook into the mud beneath. Thup, thup, thup...

No luck. Thup, thup, thup...

On the fifth try I struck something. Thup, thup, clank!

So I snicked out the saw blade of my multi-tool and carefully cut the sod so that the meter would be exposed. I looked around his yard for a bare patch of ground where I could place the cut-away sod so it wouldn't be wasted. Far more care than my job responsibilities entailed.

Finally, as I walked away, I looked across the street at the neighbor and said good morning. His reply was unexpected.

"Kinda makes you want to say a bad word or two, don't it?"

I had to laugh at that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What is myrrh, anyway?

I hate saying "it's a well-known fact" because I've learned that most "well-known facts" are usually wrong, but I guess it's a well-known fact that a scent can be the strongest memory trigger there is.

I opened up a box recently that I hadn't seen in a while, but I knew exactly what was in it. It was the box that the mouse came in for my very first computer: an 8 MHz laptop with dual double-density floppies, no HD, and a blue supertwist LCD monitor. Fortunately, it also had an output for a CGA monitor, which is how I usually used it. When I still lived at my dad's house, the old (then new) computer sat on a desk in a little nook in my room. Immediately to my left was a bookshelf where I kept all sorts of books that I might need while writing: dictionaries and thesauruses (thesauri?), my complete Lovecraft collection as well as other horror books, and various other reference books and my (cough) "black books."

On top of this shelf was the old mouse box, into which I had stowed my small collection of essential oils.

They were purchased by mail order from two or three different places. Various scents for various uses, some sandalwood, some cedar, and from Papa Jim's, one bottle of essential oil of myrrh.

I used to use a drop of myrrh the way most people use cologne, and by a drop I mean a drop. A very little goes a long, long way when it comes to essential oils. It was different, it has a kind of dark spiciness that I like in a scent, and there was at least one young lady in the years before I met my future wife who really dug it.

So I dug into the old mouse box today and extracted a still nearly full bottle of myrrh oil that is around 18 years old now. It still smells exactly the same. That's a nice thing about essential oils: if the container doesn't leak they'll last forever.

And what did the smell of myrrh immediately remind me of? Playing Ultima V on my first computer, nearly 20 years ago.

And then I thought of the girl. But I remembered the game first. I guess that says something, but I'm not sure what.

A double-whammy

400 hits in one day?!

Thanks to Roberta X and Kevin Baker for dual mini-lanches yesterday.

200 pounds of tobacco

I've been reading a slim volume titled American Revolutionaries in the Making: Political Practices in Washington's Virginia. The title is almost as long as the book, but actually it's been quite interesting. I came across this passage in a chapter (The Vulgar Herd) talking about who could and who could not vote.
By law all freeholders were required to vote in elections. He who failed to vote in the county where he lived and owned property was subject to a penalty which was set in the year 1662 at 200 pounds of tobacco to be collected with costs by any informant.
Tobacco standing in for money is interesting enough, but the amount! With cash from that much tobacco today, you could buy yourself a halfway-decent used car.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Found weirdness

Back in the 80s I had what many might think was a strange hobby. There was this book called High Weirdness By Mail, put together by Ivan Stang (the SubGenius guy), which promised "high weirdness in your mailbox for only the cost of a 22¢ stamp!" Well, some things required a few dollars to cover the shipping, but I worked my way through the book, sending a buck or two or sometimes just a SASE to all kinds of strange people, organizations, and businesses to see what I would get. I didn't cover every single item in the book, but I did cover a lot of them. One of the things I found listed was a local San Antonio business called Papa Jim's. I sent a couple of bucks and got back this thick catalog. I think the original pages were printed out with an old (but at the time, cutting-edge I'm sure) computer, then they were photocopied and stapled together into a dense sheaf with heavy-duty staples and sheer brute force, I guess.

The Papa Jim's catalog proved to be a treasure-trove of high weirdness. S.A. locals will know Papa Jim's as the oldest, biggest botanica around. I did order a few things from them, mostly some essential oils and incense. Since I had purchased from them, I got on their mailing list and kept receiving catalogs for several years. This 1991 catalog must have been the last one I got. I found it in a box of some of my "black books" this past weekend (I also found my Principia Discordia!).

I doubt that they still put these catalogs together now that just setting up a website is much less labor-intensive, so thanks to G00gl3, here it is: Papa Jim's Botanica. I still use Papa Jim's occasionally to get some of the harder-to-find incense--just try finding bayberry incense at Wal-Mart.

There should still be a box around here somewhere that holds various other weird items. I still haven't found my Love 22 $22 bills.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Online Tobacco Cellar

I've just finished establishing my cellar at The Online Tobacco Cellar. This was a pretty cool idea. You can create an inventory of your pipe tobacco and either keep it private or make it public so others can see. It keeps track of how much your current supply has cost you and how long it will last based on how frequently you smoke and how much you use per bowl. I still don't have all those kinds of details ironed out, but you can take a look at it if you want: Alan's Online Tobacco Cellar.

The Pump 'n' Seal

Here's a really lousy camera phone photo of the beginnings of my new tobacco cellar. Eleven jars of various bulk blends and 6 thus far unopened tins. That thing in the foreground is the Pump 'n' Seal.

I have been keeping bulk tobacco preserved by vacuum-sealing for a long time, but I've been using an electric Tilia Food Saver. This is a perfectly fine machine and indispensable for long-term bulk storage, but I wanted a way to keep smaller portions preserved while still having easy access to them. I did some searching around on the internet and finally came across this device called the Pump 'n' Seal.

It can used used with any "canning" jars, like Kerr, Ball or Mason jars. I think that it may even work directly on some tins, but I haven't tried that yet (any lid that has a rubber seal should work). A tool that is basically an all-metal thumb tack is used to puncture a hole in the center of the lid. Then a little yellow piece of rubberized tape called a "Tab-Chek" is placed over the hole. The pump is then placed directly over the hole and you pump the air out. As the air comes out, the vacuum sucks the rubberized tape down, forming a secure vacuum seal. When you want to take something out of the jar, you simply peel the tape up slightly until the air wooshes back in, then unscrew the lid. The tape can be used over and over again, so it isn't necessary to replace the tape every time you open the jar. The whole kit came with enough "tab-cheks" to provide for a very large cellar.

Some other pipe bloggers have mentioned using certain 2-ounce Mason-type jars for this. I couldn't find any locally, so I got these 4-ounce wide-mouth jars. The size of the jar doesn't matter to the Pump 'n' Seal.

The pump comes with a tiny hose that you can use, with a little extra care, to vacuum-seal typical heavy-duty baggies such as Ziplock freezer storage bags. It should be very useful for removing air to prevent freezer burn. I bought this gadget with the sole intention of using it to preserve pipe tobacco, but I'm writing about it here because I'm sure some readers would be interested for other storage purposes. Another important thing about this gadget is for those who wish to survive "off the grid." It doesn't need electricity, just elbow grease.

Here's a close-up of a sealed jar. You can see the tiny dimple in the middle where the hole is and the tape has been sucked down. I folded one end of the tape (they're designed like miniature band-aids) over so that it wouldn't adhere to the surface and would give me a little handle to use when peeling up the tape to re-open the jar.

This is going to give me a whole new way to store my pipe tobacco, and will allow me to provide myself with a greater daily variety than previously, when I usually just opened a vacuum bag and smoked it all until it was gone before opening another.

That reminds me. I still have a 4-ounce bag of Bayou Morning around here somewhere that I seem to have misplaced.

The kit which comes with the hose and 100 tab-cheks is about $33 with shipping included, pretty much inexpensive enough for anyone to try out without endangering themselves financially. Extra tab-cheks cost about $10 per 75.

And of course, I am receiving no remuneration for this post. I just think it's a useful device that you might be interested in.

Remember Joe Fowler?

I'm about to write up a post about this vacuum-sealing gadget I recently bought, but before that I'd thought I'd just remark on the instructional video.

Remember the TV news sports caster in San Antonio named Joe Fowler? Back in the 80s sometime, I think. I never cared for sports, but I would watch him just because he was so entertaining. He was the sports guy during that whole Gunslingers fiasco.

Well, he's now making instructional videos. Poor guy. And suddenly seeing him on the TV screen was kind of weird, after all this time.

This cracked me up

On the "Sex and the City" movie, seen at Taki’s Magazine:
For sensible people, the real question is not “Should I see this movie?” but “How much of what kind of disdain should I feel for it?”

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Nice photo

Here. Although I never could stand those soft rubber bit protectors. They always taste funny to me.

Non-Violent Politically-Correct War


When I first saw this in a local area store yesterday, I thought it was satire. But they're serious. The object of the game is to lose all your cards. Because winning is bad, even in card games.

"The joker is the only armed card, but it loses every time." In your twisted imagination, buddy.

(No, I didn't buy it, although at only $4 I suppose it would make a nice collection of targets--except for the joker, which I would stick in my hatband).

Friday, June 06, 2008

But my life, my love and my lady is the sea...

Here's my try at inventing a meme. I know there's at least one former band nerd among the readers of this blog. Or is this one of those "once a band nerd, always a band nerd" kind of thing? I call this meme "Music That You Played So Much In High School Band That You Would Rather Gouge Out Your Own Eardrums Than Ever Hear Again."

Rules: the title pretty much explains it. List as many as you like. Elaborate if you like. Tag someone if you feel like it. Let me know if you write such a post, because this is something that interests me.

I'm sure I'll come up with more of these as days go by, but here are a few to start with.

1. Proud Mary
Remember when Saturday Night Live used to still be funny sometimes back in the early 80s? Eddie Murphy was playing an old blues musician being interviewed (by Brad Hall, I think). The interviewer asked him if there was one song that got requested more than any other, and his answer was, "I tell you what...I tell you what...If I ever meet the man what wrote "Proud Mary," I'm gon' kill that man." My college room-mate didn't understand why I thought this was so funny.

2. The Horse
May I be struck dead by lightning if I ever swing my saxophone rhythmically from side to side again.

3. Rebel Rouser
Summed up by our band director at the time: "I don't know...I guess some rebels are roused somewhere." Someone somewhere on the chain of command at the school board (I suppose) decided that we would change our "fight song" from the traditional old fight song that everyone uses to "Rebel Rouser." The one by Duane Eddy. It lasted only one year, then we went back to the original traditional old fight song that everyone uses.

4. Fight Song
The traditional old fight song that everyone uses. Sometimes I still hear it in my nightmares.

5. Line 93
From our warm-up and drills book, it was actually the hymn "Fairest Lord Jesus." A sweet, calming hymn of praise suitable for any Christian worship service. But no band anywhere at any time should be forced to enter the field at halftime to the tune of "Fairest Lord Jesus."

6. The Work Song
Conditionally. I still dig hearing real jazz versions of this song, but if I ever hear another marching band play it, it's gonna be icepick time.

7. Battaglia
I don't know who wrote it. This was a concert piece, not a marching piece, and we had to play it for our spring concert one year. It was the only piece we ever played that actually put us in danger of falling asleep while we were playing. The tuba player once started to nod off and gave one of the baritone horns a mild concussion. Okay, just kidding on that part, but the tuba player did always refer to it as "Baffaglia." I had my mother record that concert, and I told her, "When he says we're going to play "Battaglia," don't record it." Later on she told me, "I see what you mean..."

8. Hey Look Me Over
From the terrible year when we had an absolutely horrible band director. This was the only song we played when we marched in the S.A. Stock Show Parade that year. Everyone was filled with joy when we learned that he wouldn't be back the next year.

Some lesser pieces that I could probably hear without violently deafening myself, but which would probably make me run screaming from the stadium: Hot Stuff, You're The One That I Want, Money (the one by Bay City Rollers).

If you were a band nerd from the late 70s/early 80s, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What about 'Brandy'? Surely you also hate 'Brandy'! How could you leave out 'Brandy'?" Well, they did play that song to death in the 70s, but by the time I got into high school band (around '77 or '78), they had moved past that phase. We played it once or twice as sort of an exercise in ironic self-awareness, but that's all. So I never really developed an antipathy for it. (Update: "Brandy" was by the group Looking Glass. I forgot to mention that.)

Holy...!

Who'd've ever thunk that Big Night Music would become a collectible!

Never seen that before...

It's not like I actually need a weather forecast. About the only thing I need to know between now and September is if it's going to be hot, really hot, or really super hot. But that's my start page.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Disgusting news from the BFA

Gun manufacturers continue to aid gun banners | Buckeye Firearms Association:
Having just devoted a substantial chunk of pro bono legal work fighting governments committed to destroying your gun rights, I was horrified to read the March 2008 editions of several of my favorite gun magazines. Prominently featured in each edition was a feature story about a large manufacturer of 1911-type guns, breathlessly detailing the “gee whiz” details of their newest model dedicated to a California police agency. Each of the stories went into the history of the department the gun was designed for, yet one critical piece of background information was omitted from the tide of “fanboy” coverage.

These guns were all designed for a local government committed to stripping civilians of the right to own this same gun.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love this particular manufacturer, and I personally carry their product almost daily. I have unreservedly recommended their product to students when asked. Honestly, given a choice, I PREFER their product. But there is no avoiding this conclusion: This manufacturer is designing firearms for police agencies in California at a time when California is committed to abolishing civilian ownership of these same firearms. If any of the gun writers who covered the unveiling of this product chose to question the wisdom of this sell-out, I have not yet found it.
Smith & Wesson had to learn the hard way.

Ronnie Barrett no longer sells his rifles to California police departments, nor does he service rifles sold before he cut off sales.

STI International stopped selling to California law enforcement after the microstamping fiasco was passed into law there.

But Kimber sells arms to police agencies there that are illegal for Californian "civilians" to own.

Follow the link for Kimber's address & phone number if you wish to register a protest.

via JPFO

Zombie Memery

Seen at South Park Pundit:
It’s Dawn of the Dead. You’re in a mall. You have one weapon, one song, one famous person to fight alongside you. Weapon can be real or fictional, with endless ammo if applicable.
You'd think there would be a music store in a mall that would supply you with more than one song. Anywho...

Weapon: The plasma rifle from Doom.
Famous Person: Annie Oakley. Oh wait, she would probably be on the other side. Okay then, Jesse Ventura with that chain gun from Predator. Uh...or Charlie Sheen with that machine gun from Hot Shots.

Song: "Nemesis" by Shriekback.

In a jungle of the senses
Tinkerbell and Jack the ripper
Love has no meaning, not where they come from
But we know pleasure is not that simple
Very little fruit is forbidden
Sometimes we wobble, sometimes we're strong
But you know evil is an exact science
Being carefully correctly wrong

Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
Everybody happy as the dead come home
Big Black Nemesis, parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home

We feel like Greeks, we feel like Romans
Centaurs and monkeys just cluster round us
We drink elixirs that we refine
from the juices of the dying
We are no monsters, we're moral people
and yet we have the strength to do this
This is the splendour of our achievement
Call in the airstrike with a poison kiss

Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
Everybody happy as the dead come home
Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home

How bad it gets, you can't imagine
the burning wax, the breath of reptiles
god is not mocked, he knows our business
Karma could take us at any moment
Cover him up.....I think we're finished
You know it's never been so exotic
but I don't know, my dreams are visions
We could still end up with the great big fishes

Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
Everybody happy as the dead come home
Big black nemesis, parthenogenesis
No one move a muscle as the dead come home

Brief encounter

As I walked toward his meter I wondered if he would stop watering. Most people will shut off anything running water when they see the meter guy. I don't know if they're embarrassed that they got caught running water, or if they think I can't read the meter while it's moving. Either way, most people have this strange quirk.

He didn't stop. He was watering the grass alongside his driveway with one of those nozzles-with-a-container things you can use to spray liquid fertilizer or pesticides. I said good morning.

"That lady across the street," he replied, "asked me how I keep my grass so green. I put half a bottle of beer and some soap in this thing. That's how I do it."

"Soap?" I said.

"Yeah, you know, like liquid detergent. Don't take much."

"Ah," I replied, "I'll have to try that."

Of course, I thought as I walked away, I'm sure the fact that you water the living snot out of it every morning has nothing to do with it. It's all beer and soap.

And then it occurred to me that I should have asked him which beer he used. That might be important.

Probably Coors, I thought.

Spam poetry

Arose from a desire of promoting the salvation
by the desire for favour and fame,
the other only 'la faute de l'abbe mouret'
one summer under the edd.
Before halm read possunt,
but the subj. Expresses it so!
What else is to be done?'
and the son of existent one the ruling being,
the holder of the of his progress.
As they continued bobby responded said,
by good luck, i see you, ye bulls among.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Skunks

First lesson learned: my pistol skills are woefully lacking. Oh sure, I could still put all the shots into the human kill zone at 15 yards, but hitting a baby skunk in the head while simultaneously trying to avoid getting sprayed...well, I sucked.

Also, there were five baby skunks that I had to watch while I was trying to shoot one.

Second lesson learned: #6 birdshot in a .410 is much more effective. Two shots, three dead skunks.

Two of them managed to hide while I was grabbing the shotgun. So there's still two babies and at least one adult out there. I already knew we had nearby skunks, because I've smelled them on occasion in the mornings. I'll have to keep the shotgun near at hand.

I have no problems with most animals poking around my house, but skunks can render a house uninhabitable, and can't be tolerated. Although I didn't get sprayed, there is still a noticeable aroma lingering in the air.

Fox sounds

Since the recent fox sighting, and since I have never knowingly heard gray fox vocalizations, I hunted up some recordings to see what they sound like. Here's a good site that has some: Cat and Dog-like Mammals - Upstate New York Wildlife. Several other animals in the cat and dog families are there also.

Syd on the Alamo

Syd of Front Sight, Press writes about his recent visit to The Alamo. A good read, check it out.

Eat kids free

Oddee has 15 ads that'll make you say WTF?! Some misprints, some due to nothing more than crass ignorance.

Long ago when I worked in a pizza restaurant, they put up a sign advertising that they were hiring. The assistant manager, who apparently didn't quite have his English nailed down wrote on the sign: WORK IN A FREE DRUG ENVIRONMENT.

Well, I thought that was pretty funny, so I didn't try to correct him about it. The sign stayed up for several days. Finally one day I asked the manager, "When do I get my free drugs?" So then of course I had to explain it to him why I asked. He ripped the sign down immediately, cursing under his breath, which gave me something new to laugh about.

He didn't think it was funny.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bushnell sponsors Bigfoot photo contest

No, that's not one of my (ahem) humorously tangential post titles. Optics manufacturer Bushnell is sponsoring a $1,000,000 trail cam sweepstakes, once again via Cryptomundo.

Field & Stream's Trail Cam Photo Contest - Rules/MillionDollarGiveaway/
RULES: Bushnell will offer a winner $1,000,000 (payable in a 40-year annuity of $25,000 per year) if a participant can provide an unaltered photograph/video, verified and substantiated by a panel of scientific experts, the evidence required to prove a Sasquatch/Bigfoot/Yeti exists. Photo or video must be taken with a Trail/Deer Camera. A Trail/Deer Camera is defined, for this Sweepstakes, as any camera designed/sold for the purpose of being attached to a tree or other object to automatically capture images of passing wildlife. Either day or night, still or video, color, or black and white. Entries must be in jpeg format, un-retouched, unaltered and not changed in anyway, or it will be disqualified.
There are also lesser prizes for submitting the cleverest or most entertaining (or something) hoax photo, as well as lesser prizes for really good trail cam photos of non-crypto creatures.

Break out your trail cams, folks!

Owl attacks

Cryptomundo posts information on owl attacks, including some owl attacks that occurred in Hollywood Park (more or less part of San Antonio) just last year.

Residents of this area will probably be put in mind of a particular part of Mexican folklore that inspired your humble blogger to write a story some time ago.

Interesting post. At Cryptomundo, that is. I offer no opinions on my own attempts at horror fiction.

Sure, we'll put it on right away!

I got stuck today with a company truck that has a broken antenna or something. It wouldn't pick up any but the strongest stations. So I settled for listening to KZEP all day. Sometime during the morning (9:00, 10:00?, I'm not sure), the DJ says, "Okay, all request time. Give us a call if you want to hear something special."

Oh !@#$, I thought, here comes "Stairway to Heaven."

Ten minutes later: "There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold..."

Now, I don't have anything against that song. I have the album. I even sang along with bits of it today. But could there be any greater cliché than calling up a classic rock station and requesting "Stairway to Heaven?" If I was the DJ, I would have to set some limits: "Okay, all request time. Give us a call if you want to hear something special, but no Stairway to Heaven. No Proud Mary, either. And fortheluvva, if you're going to request Pink Floyd, make it something besides Money."

I count it as a small miracle that I didn't hear "Hotel California."

Although, they used the wrong picture






What Kind of a Western Bad-Ass are You?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Lee Van Cleef

You look like an accountant, but your steely glare and matching nerves make you a match for any hard-case out there.


Lee Van Cleef



75%

Clint Eastwood



63%

Charles Bronson



63%

Lee Marvin



38%

John Wayne



38%

They should have used something like this:

What? You DON'T have pictures of Lee Van Cleef smoking a pipe stored on your computer? That's weird.

Seen at Cowboy Blob's.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Message from Great Cthulhu

Irrelevant humans, I have been awaked from my millennial slumbers by a multitude of troublesome thoughts and dreams turning my way. I do not have a foolish conscience that drives me to set these misguided thoughts aright. I address you now only because the Time is not yet right and I really need to get some sleep.

It seems that many of you insignificant humans have made a crude attempt at "humor" (which I must admit I do not fully understand--although once the antics of the 976th form of Nyarlathotep did make me feel uncharacteristically light-hearted; figuratively of course since I do not actually have a heart) during your current election cycle by displaying various blasphemous caricatures of myself with such words as, "Why Vote For The Lesser Evil?" The implicit declaration being that I, somehow, am the Greater Evil.


Please note that I do not fully understand this thing you call an "election." I have discussed it at length with many of my deep minions who were once--pardon the quotes--"human," and as the discussion ended and I was devouring them I came to the conclusion that your "elections" are all very absurd and insignificant. You may have full faith that I am a master of insanity, and the very idea that you must choose those who would oppress you is insane. The only true method of selecting a superior is with an eating competition, in my own completely unhumble opinion. The winner is the one who eats everyone else.

But back to the task at hand: why am I the so-called "greater evil?" Is it evil for one of you paltry humans to step on an insect? Is it evil to place noxious poisons throughout your dwelling-places to prevent what you call (excuse me if I chortle softly--I do find this concept somewhat "humorous") vermin from invading and taking up residence?

You waste your minuscule lives and pathetic energies trying to choose which of you should have power over others. Is servitude to another unimportant member of your species so essential to you? And why do these worthless chosen humans covet power so?

They lie, they cheat. They all take part in various ways and means of dominating you for no other reason than that they hunger for this power. And then they try to cover up what they have done to you with new lies. They seem to believe that they are better than you, and that the rules they arbitrarily create to enforce your servitude do not apply to them. And you believe them, you let them get away with it, and you do it over and over again.

Who then, is evil?

I tell you the truth: this worthless planet is my plaything. I do with it as I will. It is only an accident of my own unique metabolism that I am rendered somnolent for eons on end. There will come a time when the stars are once again aligned and I will truly and fully awaken. When that time comes, I will arise in diluvial annihilation, lay waste to this pointless blob of mud and devour you all. My deep minions will swim free over all this planet. Eventually I will devour them as well, and I will move on.

I will not do this because I bear you any ill will. I will do this because of who I am, and I will sweep this world clean of your pestilence in the same way that you would sweep an ant from your dining table.

But until then, you will continue to agonize over choosing those who are best able to lie, to cheat, to steal, and to force you into servitude to their whims.

I ask again: who then, is evil? One who tells you the truth, or one who lies so that he may trick you into believing serving him is necessary? One who regards you only as an edible and usually palatable pest, or a treacher of your own kind who will use force and deceit to subjugate you to his will?

I am transmitting this through the dreams of one of my insignificant human tools who sometimes fancies himself a "sensitive." I understand from his thoughts that he has access to a communications system called a "web" by using something called a "blog." I do not understand the exact definitions of these terms (although "blog" puts me in mind of the noise made the last time I squashed a shoggoth), yet I understand it is another useless invention of which you wretched humans are quite proud.

He writes this at my command. Heed his words carefully and give them thought, lest my slumbers once again become troubled and in my fury I unleash my oceanic minions on a wave of destruction the likes of which you worthless humans have never seen. In return for this service, he will be devoured quickly, cleanly, and in a relatively painless manner when the Time is right. Or so I have assured him.

Goodies in the big mailbox

I had one of these before, and it became the most favoritest single-blade pocket knife I ever had. But then I lost it. They had apparently disappeared from eBay and S&W wasn't selling them anymore. But I finally found them being sold again. The problem I had finding them was because they aren't called the S&W Urban Camo Titanium Kerambit anymore. They are being listed as the S&W Cuttin' Horse Hawkbill. I'd still rather call it a kerambit.

Also received today a new gadget for vacuum sealing that is hand-powered, no electricity. It requires that I go buy some Mason jars, which I plan to do this week sometime. More details on it later after I've learned how to use it properly.

Thirdly, the rest of my tobacco order came in today. But I'm going to leave it all sealed until I can get the vacuum sealer thingy figured out so I can make sure it will be preserved properly after I break the seals.

Escudo this Saturday night, for sure!