Tarja Turunen is a Finnish classically-trained soprano who used to sing for a symphonic metal band called Nightwish (note: also need to look them up) but has since gone out on her own. Here's her official video for "Die Alive," which I like quite a lot.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Tarja Turunen is a Finnish classically-trained soprano who used to sing for a symphonic metal band called Nightwish (note: also need to look them up) but has since gone out on her own. Here's her official video for "Die Alive," which I like quite a lot.
LATE one June afternoon in 1903 a hush fell across an expectant audience in the Royal Institution's celebrated lecture theatre in London. Before the crowd, the physicist John Ambrose Fleming was adjusting arcane apparatus as he prepared to demonstrate an emerging technological wonder: a long-range wireless communication system developed by his boss, the Italian radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi. The aim was to showcase publicly for the first time that Morse code messages could be sent wirelessly over long distances. Around 300 miles away, Marconi was preparing to send a signal to London from a clifftop station in Poldhu, Cornwall, UK.
Yet before the demonstration could begin, the apparatus in the lecture theatre began to tap out a message. At first, it spelled out just one word repeated over and over. Then it changed into a facetious poem accusing Marconi of "diddling the public". Their demonstration had been hacked - and this was more than 100 years before the mischief playing out on the internet today. Who was the Royal Institution hacker? How did the cheeky messages get there? And why?Read the whole thing at New Scientist.
And in hindsight, it seemed a very arrogant and condescening attitude from Marconi to claim "I can tune my instruments so that no other instrument that is not similarly tuned can tap my messages." Especially since the first spark-gap transmitters blanketed huge swaths of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
"Dancing Bear" by The Mamas and The Papas. This turned up on the phone today when I was shuffling some tunes, and this has always been a favorite of mine. I like the sad, minor melody. I don't know for sure what that low-toned woodwind is that plays through this song, but it sure sounds like a bassoon to me.
Since I had recently mentioned pocket knives, I thought I would post a photo of my back-up knife. I got this one from some mail-order military surplus place many years ago and have hardly ever used it. It's also made by Victorinox (the Swiss Army knife folks) but as you can see it's not a SAK. This one was made for the German military, I don't know what era, and is a good knife as every Victorinox knife I've ever had is. A standard blade, plus a saw blade. The piece of metal lying alongside the saw blade is a metal cover for the saw. I suppose they put that on there so you don't lose a finger when you use the bottle opener. My biggest complaint about it is that it doesn't have a Phillips head screwdriver. Slightly lesser complaints are no tweezer and no toothpick. I think this is probably the only corkscrew I own. It came with that lanyard rope that you see in the picture and I never bothered to remove it. By the way, I used this knife when I was teaching some Cub Scouts how to sharpen a knife for their whittling chips. Not that it has ever needed sharpening. It keeps an edge like Mournblade.
And just for kicks, two other tools that are always at my desk. Just above the knife is my good pipe tool which I use only here at my desk. Outside I use other, cheaper and easier-to-replace pipe tools. To the left is a Senior pipe reamer with the drill removed. The drill is used to clean out the air passage in the shank.
My phone doesn't take really good pictures, but you can click to enlarge if you want to.
Sunday, December 25, 2011
By the way, I don't really think of the official New Year's Day as the beginning of the year. I know it's the beginning of our customary calendar year, but I have a more pagan outlook on it in that I always think of the year turning over on the winter solstice.
We had a fairly good Christmas this year, except that there were a few fewer people at my dad's place because so many relatives are getting advanced in age and don't get around much anymore. As for me personally, I got some money from my mom which I might use to buy a replacement pocket knife. I somehow managed to lose my favorite knife--a Tinker model Swiss Army knife which my wife gave me for Christmas the year we were married and which I've carried always for the past 18 years. It can easily be replaced, but there was sentimental value in the original. I might upgrade to the Super Tinker which is still small enough to be carried in the pocket but which has a couple of extra tools.
I also received a gift card to Best Buy, which I've already spent via their website. I kind of wanted to indulge in a game or two for myself for the Wii, but was reluctant to spend my own money on such a thing. I was able to get two pre-owned games for the value of the card plus a couple of extra dollars. One was Bleach: Shattered Blade which I've had on my hit list since I got the Wii for the kids last year. It got high reviews at Amazon and looks pretty interesting, with the ability to unlock extra characters who all have different powers and skills. Also I'm looking forward to annoying the kids by yelling getsuga tensho! every chance I get. I'm not sure if Ichigo's getsuga tensho attack is even in the game, but I'm going to yell it anyway. Also, bankai!
The other game also got very good reviews: Shiren the Wanderer, which is a "roguelike" fantasy role-playing game and which I found by searching for games that were similar to D&D. I had to look up "roguelike." I was aware that there had been a game called Rogue but I had never played it. It basically means that there is a lot of randomization built in so that nothing is ever exactly the same twice.
Tonight I have been using YouTube to fully explore an album that I had bookmarked some time ago: Digital Ghosts by Shadow Gallery. I like it a lot. They caught my ear because their song "With Honor" was included on a metal sampler that I downloaded from Amazon not long ago. Progressive metal driven by guitars but with plenty of keyboards too, and good harmony vocals. This is their most recent album, and the first since their original lead singer died. So I'll have to go back and listen to some of their older stuff, too. Here's "With Honor."
Back then I was still using dial-up, and although I did download some stuff, I had to be careful and pick and choose. So the multiple bad reviews of this one was probably the reason I skipped it. Today I looked over those reviews again and downloaded it for a trial listen.
Heh. The reviews cracked me up. I especially liked the "cautionary tale." The sad thing is: I've heard worse. Not a great deal worse, but somewhat worse, yeah.
Here's the link, in case you want to experience it for yourself.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
This was taken somewhere on the east side on November 16. I don't remember what street I was on.
This one is from Thanksgiving Day, so I must have been at my father-in-law's house. I found it fascinating that Original Peanut Squares contains peanuts.
These two pix were from somewhere in the Great Northwest area of the city--probably in that area where all the streets are named Timber something. I was stunned to see all this red as I was coming up the street and thought a real poinsettia freak must live there. When I got closer I could see that it was all artificial. P.S. You can see the cover of their water meter at the bottom center of the bottom photo. From November 28.
I took this one because, of all the people in my company of employment who should know that new vehicles in Texas don't have to get inspected for TWO years after purchase, it would be the woman who sends out the emails reminding people that they need to get their truck inspected. I had taken this so I could send it in an email back to her to show her that my truck doesn't expire for another year, because I was tired of being bothered by her emails. But then the next day they made paper printout copies of all these emails and handed them to us as if we were all imbeciles who didn't know how to check their emails. I exploded a little bit, because every now and then I can't tolerate being treated like an idiot anymore (also, I had already notified several people both by email and by direct verbal communication about this). So I don't think I'll need this photo anymore.
Now why would I take a photo of part of a gas pump at H.E.B? Take a look at the slightly more close-up bottom photo for a hint.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
But the water doesn't flow
It boils with every poison you can think of
And I'm underneath the streetlight
But the light of joy I know
Scared beyond belief way down in the shadows
And the perverted fear of violence
Chokes the smile on every face
And common sense is ringing out the bell
This ain't no technological breakdown
Oh no, this is the road to hell
When music is the topic and I mention this album, invariably the person with whom I'm speaking has never heard of it. Never heard of Chris Rea, never heard either of his two radio hits from this album. And it's a real shame.
In 1989 I was listening to Austin's KGSR quite a lot, which is how I heard of this album and these songs. I suppose if I had gone as far as Austin I might have found it in a music store there, but in all of Seguin, San Antonio, New Braunfels and San Marcos, there was nary a copy to be found. Take a look at the top 100 hits of 1989 and what do you see? Crap. Pure, unadulterated crap (except maybe for that one R.E.M. song). Just count how many times you see Milli Vanilli (Milli frikkin' Vanilli) on this list. When it came to music, 1989 was a terrible, terrible year.*
Of course, it hasn't gotten any better. Top pop hits continue to suck, but there's a good reason. It's because even back then, 22 years ago, as Chris Rea tried to tell us, we were already on the road to hell.
Chris Rea plays slide guitar and has a voice full of the warmth and soft roughness of a dirt road in the summertime. Once you hear it, you will not forget it. He's from England, and he wrote one of the best Texas songs I've ever heard.
But no radio station in S.A. ever played it, so if you lived here back then, I'm sure you never heard it. Unless you tweaked your antenna until you could pick up KGSR like I did.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
"Who do I call about this?" And his arm swept sideways to indicate the street.
"You mean the water?" I asked.
...(pause)..."It's rain water."
[Honestly, I know sometimes my answers sound dumb, but it's only because I'm so often stunned by preposterous questions. What I really meant by that was, "gravity dictates that water in the atmosphere is drawn to the earth; gravity further dictates that water on the earth is drawn to the lowest available elevation--once there, when it can't get any lower, it pools."]
"I know it's rain water, but it's just standing there!"
"I don't know," I said. "Public Works, I guess." And I went on my way.
I can just imagine the laughter at the City of S.A. when he calls them up and demands they rebuild an entire street just so water won't puddle in front of his house.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
From The Telegraph:
An avalanche of more than 100 apples rained down over a main road in Keresley, Coventry on Monday night.
The street was left littered with apples after they pelted car windscreens and bonnets just after rush-hour.
The bizarre downpour may have been caused by a current of air that lifted the fruit from a garden or orchard, releasing it over the junction of Keresley Road and Kelmscote Road.
Jim Dale, senior meteorologist, from British Weather Services, said: "The weather we have at the moment is very volatile and we probably have more to come.
"Essentially these events are caused when a vortex of air, kind of like a mini tornado, lifts things off the ground rising up into the atmosphere until the air around it causes them to fall to earth again.Items falling inexplicably from the sky is my favorite strange phenomena. Every time--every time--it happens, the first excuse the "experts" come up with is a "vortex" or "mini tornado" or some such thing.
And yet it was only apples. No leaves, no twigs, no other items that could just as easily have been swept up along with the apples. Only apples.
Every time I've seen a report of, let's say, falling frogs, it's only frogs. The excuse is that they were swept up out of their element by atmospheric phenomena, and yet it isn't a rain of frogs and the water they were living in along with a bunch of small fish and other debris. It's only frogs.
I'm not saying it isn't because of some unknown atmospheric phenomena. It's just that the intentional blindness of these people to the lameness of their own excuses always stuns me.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
12/5/2011 - WAKE ISLAND AIRFIELD, Alaska -- In a tale straight from an adventure book, personnel stationed at Wake Island Airfield in the mid-Pacific recently stumbled upon a vinyl record collection with an estimated value between $90,000 and $250,000.
The 611th Air Support Group's Detachment 1 is now making a comprehensive effort to preserve the nearly 9,000 vintage vinyl records and ship them to their rightful owner, the American Forces Radio and Television Network in Alexandria, Va., according to Master Sgt. Jean-Guy Fleury, infrastructure superintendent, who took over the project from the former Detachment 1 commander, Maj. Aaron Wilt.
No digging was required to access this treasure, as the records were cataloged and neatly organized on shelves in a small room on the second floor of the Wake Island Airfield base operations building. The door was conspicuously stenciled with the name of the radio station, KEAD, and a restricted area warning, which kept most people out.
"That's a locked room normally, but people in my department have known the records were there for years," said Colin Bradley, communications superintendent with Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc. CFSI is the contractor that currently manages operations on Wake Island with the oversight of Air Force quality assurance personnel.
"Because of the completeness of the collection, I assumed it was quite valuable. I have not run across a collection that well preserved or that intact in my career. It's a little time capsule," he said.
The collection includes a variety of vinyl albums and records specially made for military audiences and distributed monthly by the American Forces Radio and Television Network, as well as some commercially available records.
"In 1942, the American Forces Radio Service was started to get American music out to the troops overseas," said Larry Sichter, American Forces Network Broadcast Center Affiliate Relations Division chief. "Some of the radio productions were original, like GI Jill and Command Performance, and have significant value."link
Very interesting. Read the whole thing.
I have five pair that I wear on a regular weekly rotation, so they're faded, slightly torn, etc. One more pair that I wear rarely, only when I work a Saturday. A few more that I keep aside for "special" occasions when I want to wear nice, new-looking jeans, and 10 pair in the closet that I've never touched. I get measured for another 5 pair this week.
In the 4+ years I've worked there, I've worn out about 10 pair. Some of them were old jeans from before I started this job.
I thought I had kept the dog attack jeans from my previous job, just to show people what they looked like after a German Shepherd had mangled them, but I must have thrown those away. Or maybe my wife did. She might have gotten tired of seeing a pair of ripped up jeans with my blood stains still on them carefully folded and put up on the closet shelf.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
This is another anime in which a powerful hero (or anti-hero) character is accompanied by a much younger and relatively powerless companion. This is a theme which is used fairly often, in my experience, for example it is also used in Claymore and Samurai Champloo.
Another similarity this show has with Trigun is that the opening theme is not an abbreviated version of a previously existing song. This opening theme was composed specifically for GunXSword and is simply titled "GunXSword." The graphics on this version are not great, but it's the only one I could find that wasn't just a slide show collection set to the theme music. Keeping in my that this story is western-themed, I think you should easily be able to hear where some of the inspiration for it came from. The composer is Kōtarō Nakagawa, who has created music for numerous anime and video games.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
I believe this falls into the "seinen" category of anime, that is, oriented more toward adults and older adolescents, without the comical facial expressions often used in shonen anime such as Bleach and Trigun.
Saturday, December 03, 2011
Since the story was pretty much finished--thoroughly and completely finished--unless they jump forward several years and make a new story about Ed's & Al's kids, I don't know where in the timeline this could possibly take place. But what the hey.
Also I read that there may be a Bleach live-action movie in the works, but it doesn't really excite me. They couldn't possibly do justice to that series in a two-hour movie. There's just too much "filler" (digression, arguments, flashbacks, counter-arguments, two-episode-long "life flashing before his eyes" death scenes, whatever). And they'll never find people who look just like the anime characters. I'd just be thinking "who are these imposters?" the whole time.
Had mandatory overtime today. Got rained on quite a bit, which always puts me in a bad mood.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Apparently the streaming rights have been reestablished because when I got home today, the shows were back in my queue. So...Netflix now has Trigun again.
In other anime news, I read that someone is making a live-action Akira. I got into the anime thing late, so I've never seen Akira. For such a legendary movie, it sure is hard to find.
I've caught up on Bleach lately, watching the subtitled versions on Crunchyroll. Finished up on episode #349 (which is about 100 episodes in the future of what they're currently airing on Adult Swim) and now I'll just wait a couple of months until they add more episodes.
I kind of wish Netflix would have Tokko on their streaming service. I'd like to see the versions that were not butchered for broadcast on Sci-Fi. They do have it on DVD. I might get the discs sometime when I don't have anything else I'd rather see.
Other than Bleach, I've lately been watching Claymore and GunXSword, both via Netflix. Claymore is a sort of human/monster hybrids going around killing demonic monsters with swords story (as is, by the way, Tokko). GunXSword is, I guess, technically mecha (hardy har har--technically mecha? get it?) which usually doesn't interest me, but in this one the human stories take greater precedence over the giant robot fights, so it's worth it.
Here's Bleach opening #15, which is the opening for the current series I've been watching. Sounds like a cool song, but unfortunately I haven't been able to find a full version of it yet. For some reason, every video of this one on YouTube is reversed. This opening shows all of Ichigo's family (his father and his two sisters--their mother died about 10 years before the series begins) followed by his high school friends, then follows that with a new group of humans-with-special-powers who he encounters. The song is by Scandal, a Japanese all-woman band.
I did just notice that one of Ichigo's friends--Sado (Chad)--is conspicuously absent from his other friends. However, he does appear briefly later on.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
Next is "Murder Mysteries," also by Gaiman (part 1 and part 2). This tale-within-a-tale is especially engrossing and leaves the reader (listener) with a sensation of haunting disturbance.
Both of these audio versions were from Seeing Ear Theatre, a project of the Sci-Fi channel to produce SF audiobooks. This project has since folded (probably about the time they started showing frikkin' wrestling on "Syfy"*) but of course all the files are still floating around the internet in various places.
It goes in quotes on this blog, and I will use it only derogatorily until they change their name to something that doesn't look like urban slang for venereal disease.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
So I realize if you're not a Bleach watcher it probably won't be very funny. The "bankai" is what a more powerful Soul Reaper can do to release his zanpakuto to its final, most powerful form. They do it only when the S is really hitting the F.
There is actually quite a lot of humor in Bleach, but you have to pay attention. Most of it is character-based, so it only works once you know the characters.
*The world "shinigami" is the same word that's translated in Death Note to "death god," but in Bleach it's translated as "soul reaper."
P.S. I think Yamamoto would make an awesome action figure. And the variations! There would be "Old Man Yammie" before he lost his left arm, after he lost is left arm, and with his zanpakuto disguised as a walking stick or released into its flaming blade form. Nice.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Deep One was said to be immortal unless killed, and couldn't even starve to death, merely shrinking smaller and smaller but never dying, and regrowing to normal size when they get to eat again.
Not that that's related to anything except that it's what I was reminded of. Anyway, very interesting post by Glenn B., who shows a photo of his two newts and tells about them. Check it out.
When people think of H.P.Lovecraft, the first mental impression tends to arise from the dark depths of the Cthulhu mythos. But Lovecraft was also a philosopher, a true iconoclast untempered by the literary zeitgeist of his age. One of the clearest expressions of this aspect is the short story The Silver Key. Ostensibly belonging to his dream-tale canon, upon further examination this is actually in many ways a manifesto, an accounting of one man's attempt to understand the society into which he was born, and the judgment that it is found lacking.
The most interesting aspect of translating this story wasn't the actual storytelling, which was secondary. It was the soundscapes and depths of emotion that different ideas the story presented could lead to musically. This story lends itself particularly well towards being reconceived into music because it is not an event oriented tale. It's a rumination, which suggests music so very well.As far as musical style, I would say it's safely within the genre of progressive rock. Too many attempts at "Lovecraftian music" fall into styles (death metal, for example) that are not easily accessible to most listener's ears, but this is not one of those. This album is a mixture of spoken narration and sung lyrics.
You can listen to the whole thing by streaming it online. Just go to Ah Pook The Destroyer and follow the links.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Fortunately, a few precious strips have been preserved for all to see. Here and here.
Friday, November 25, 2011
On the day itself we went to my father-in-law's house and did have turkey as well as ham. Most importantly, to me, were the desserts. I was able to have both key lime pie and lemon meringue pie. After I had let it settle for a while and taken a short walk to burn a little off, I topped it off with some cheesecake. Today I stayed far away from all the retail store mayhem and did nothing.
I have--at long last--finished uploading that whole album of First Quest: The Music to YouTube. So if you remember my old post on that subject and you want to sample some of the sounds, just go to my YouTube channel and they are all there (YouTube links on the sidebar). I've also uploaded a few tracks from another out-of-print album I've mentioned: Medieval Music by The Jaye Consort. I'm looking through my collection now and trying to find something else obscure and out of print to upload.
I did go to Wal-Mart on Wednesday for a few things, and used one of those hand baskets which have that little alert thingy affixed to the bottom of them. When I came out, there was no stack of them by the exit, so I just dropped it and walked through those alarm detector things, and suddenly this doorbell-sounding alarm started going off. Customers began backing up because the greeter couldn't figure out if someone was trying to steal something or what--it wasn't the same kind of alarm that goes off when they forget to demagnetize something. About a half-dozen drones were walking around chaotically because they couldn't figure out what was setting it off until finally someone else walked up and said it was that basket and moved it. Some old guy was standing there surveying the chaos with me and I told him, "Oh, you know what? I put that basket down too close to the exit. It must've been me that set it off." He laughed heartily at that. I thought it was pretty funny, too.
Most importantly, you should know that this adventure was written by the late, great Douglas Adams. It's quite funny.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
This was taken by a trail cam near Jacksonville, Texas. Some of the comments seemed strange, to me, as if people were shocked to see such a thing. Jacksonville is over in eastern Texas, quite far from here, but as I may have told some of you before, cougars used to live around here, too. Some old-timer coyote hunters told me tales of their hounds trailing a "lion," as they called them, and I saw one myself in broad daylight when I was six years old. Scared the cr*p out of me, too.
Back then the school bus didn't go down our road, and we lived about two miles from the highway. So every day the bus would drop me off and I'd walk the two miles home. At that time, there were no other families with school-age kids living back there, and my sister was still only two years old, so I walked it alone every day. My grandmother lived with us then to baby-sit my sister, and she didn't drive so she didn't have a car. I had gone about a mile down the road, well out of sight of the highway, when I just happened to look behind me and saw one saunter across the road about 50 yards away. I knew what it was, since I'd seen pictures of them in books and movies, and like I said, I was a scared little six-year-old kid. I knew there was an elevated deer blind near the road not much farther along, and I considered maybe climbing into it and trying to hide until I heard a car coming, because I knew my dad would be coming home from work within an hour or so. I kept watching carefully for any signs of its approach, staying in the middle of the road where I'd have plenty of open space around me. By the time I got to the deer blind, I hadn't seen it again and I knew an old retired couple lived a little farther down the road, so I kept going until I got to their house. I knocked on their door and told them what I'd seen and that I was afraid to walk all the way home, and the old gentlemen gave me a ride the rest of the way.
That night, I told my dad what I'd seen. He asked me to describe it, and then he said, "Well, I've heard them screaming at night sometimes, but I didn't ever tell you because I didn't want to scare you."
That was the only time I ever saw one.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
NOTE: The popular adage that Eskimos have "50 words for snow" is a myth. They really have only one, and roughly translated into English it means "not this damn stuff again."
FOLLOW-UP: Disappointing and boring. It sounds like she's just noodling around on the piano and melodically muttering to herself for 65 minutes. Worst Kate Bush album ever.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I'm not snobby enough to have anything against the mp3, but when I buy a download album and then discover it's in only 256 kpbs, it kinda pisses me off.
I mean, I re-encode high bitrate mp3s that I plan on putting on my phone/mp3 player to a lower bitrate just so I can cram more on there, but the audio produced by these gadgets isn't good enough to bother with high bit rates anyway. But I still want the original high bit rate files for my home system, and if I pay full album price, I think it's not unreasonable to expect at least 320 kbps.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
On the subject of documentaries, I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait. It was made in 1988, so it's already somewhat old, and it consists entirely of interviews with the people who played the Chainsaw family, but not with any of the actors who played the victims. It was still interesting, as they gave many details regarding the making of the movie, and I think the most interesting (and entertaining) interviewee was Edwin Neal, who played "the hitchhiker." Also tacked onto the end was some very brief commentary by Forry (as in Forrest J.) Ackerman, who had something to do with it. He wrote the original screenplay? Anyway he's not officially credited on the movie itself, as far as I can tell. Filming the movie was a very grueling experience, and some of them didn't finish it without injuries. Neal was in two scenes which I thought should have been included but which were cut from the movie and which they showed brief clips of. One funny thing I learned was that Tobe Hooper was trying to film it so that it would also look good on television, and Neal laughed about this because he knew it could never be shown on TV. So if you're interested at all in this seminal horror flick, it should be interesting to you. It runs 64 minutes.
The second documentary I watched was H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer, from 2004. I thought it was odd that I had never heard of him because of the books I've read on serial killers in general, but there you go. Holmes' real name was Herman Mudgett, and his story is amazing, because of what he got away with. He was an actual physician who started out just being one of the world's best ever con men. He built a "castle" in Chicago near the site of the 1893 World's Fair, and would offer lodging in his "castle" to tourists who were in town to attend the fair. Since he focused so heavily on tourists, no one even knew they had gone missing. He had numerous secret rooms and passages in his "castle," which was a combination of his own home, some offices and some alleged "hotel rooms" available for rent. He built a secret system of gas pipes which he could control from his master room to asphyxiate people who rented rooms from him. In the basement he had a veritable torture chamber. He was able to afford building this huge place mostly by defrauding his contractors and suppliers, and rarely paid anyone for anything--and somehow got away with it. And for a real kicker: after he killed someone he would clean and mount the skeleton and sell it to medical schools and hospitals. No one knows how many people he killed because of his method of choosing mostly tourists, but he was eventually caught and hanged. Watch the show if you want to find out how, because I shouldn't give away everything. It's a fascinating story of someone who was operating during the same time frame as Jack the Ripper, killed many times more people than the Ripper did, but today is almost unknown. This one also runs 64 minutes.
Oh, and I almost forgot. I also watched Dracula: The Vampire and the Voivode. From 2008, running time 84 minutes. It starts out with a biography of Bram Stoker, then has a lot of information about Vlad Tepes, then spends a lot of time showing how Tepes was not the inspiration for Stoker's Dracula except for the name. It also tells about the discrepancies between Stoker's Dracula and the real Transylvania and finishes up with the modern day legacy of Dracula. I already knew most of this stuff, but one thing that I was amused to learn was the Dracula was banned as "decadent Western literature" in communist Romania but was one of the first western books published after the death of Ceaușescu. These days, modern Romania makes big tourist bucks because of that book. Not a bad documentary, but it would probably be more interesting to someone who hadn't already spent a lot of time reading about this stuff.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
I got in a fresh pound of Bayou Night today, which as I have mentioned is my favorite pipe tobacco. My substitute that was made simply by mixing up some Virginia and Perique was okay, but I had gone overboard with the Perique and was running out, so the last batch I mixed didn't have much in it. Straight bulk Virginia is kind of bland and sweet. Better than nothing (better than straight burley, for example [in my opinion]), but pretty boring.
I discovered on Netflix yesterday that there are two animated series made from Discworld books: Wyrd Sisters and Soul Music. Made in the U.K. The first is made up of six 24-minute episodes, the second is seven 24-minute episodes. I've read Wyrd Sisters so I decided to watch it first. So far I've watched only the first episode--tried to watch episode 2 today but I was feeling quite drained and fell asleep. Of course they aren't as good as the books, because Pratchett is so good at describing things, and his method doesn't translate well to the screen. Still, I enjoyed that one episode that I did watch and am looking forward to seeing the rest. Christopher Lee does the voice of Death, although his voice is electronically altered--deepened and echoed. I don't recognize any of the other voice actors. The animation is a little odd, especially in the way the characters' faces look--there seems to be a preponderance of reddened noses. By the way, the TV versions of The Colour of Magic and Hogfather are also available for streaming on Netflix--two 2-hour episodes each.
I found a site called 19 Nocturne Boulevard that does "radio" dramas. Today I listened to part 1 of their version of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" and I liked it. It isn't just a straight reading of the story, but has been adapted to sound like a real radio drama, although made for downloading rather than broadcasting. You can find it here. It's in four episodes of about 33 minutes each. They don't focus exclusively on Lovecraft, but on horror tales in general.
The cooler weather has made working much easier and nicer. I got rained on a little Tuesday when that norther blew through, but not much. The funny thing about Tuesday was, I went from using the air conditioner in my company truck to using the heater and then back to the a/c again before the day was over.
We are in the middle of a project of changing out old meters with new ones, so if you have a meter that's more than 15 years old there's a good chance it will be swapped with a new one before we're done. I did my cycle 11 route yesterday--that's the one that's all alleys at Rittiman & Harry Wurzbach. It's the worst foot route I've ever done and mentioning it can make meter readers wince if they've ever done it before. My previous best time on it was 3 1/2 hours, and that was in the summer of 2009 when it didn't rain at all for a long time and nothing was growing in the alleys all summer long. This time, because of all the new meters that had been installed, I did it in my fastest ever time of 3 1/4 hours. Previously this year it was taking me 4 hours or longer. That was the route where I attempted the video the other day. By the way, a meter is supposed to be swapped out with a new one when it reaches 15 years or 1200 units (1200 centicubic feet). There were quite a lot of 30-year-old (and some older) meters out there before this project started.
And if you live around here I'm sure you've already heard that the other w4t3r company has been dissolved and will be taken over by my company of employment. I don't know anything about that and if I did I wouldn't be allowed to talk about it, so don't bother asking.
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Amusing. However, I don't agree with this pronunciation of R'lyeh. It's much too elegant, simple and human-sounding. I think the apostrophe should be used as a sort of glottal stop or perhaps a fricative, and the whole word should sound like you're trying to gag up something distasteful.
Monday, November 07, 2011
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Thursday, November 03, 2011
And how began his obsession with Beethoven? Charlie Brown, again.
And who gave him his first bust of Beethoven? Who do you think?
Charlie Brown and Schroeder. They go way back.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
And from the other side of the same route, someone has just discovered Gloria
Saturday, October 29, 2011
A 20-something girl behind us freaked out and went back about 1/3 through. My son (who is 10) went through with another adult and said it was scary. My daughter (who is 12) said it wasn't scary. She laughed most of the time, which is what I was doing. After we came out, I heard her tell a friend of hers: "I don't scream. I either laugh or stab."* G-d I feel sorry for any future boyfriend(s) of hers.
I still think they need something at least a little Lovecraftian in it. Maybe next year I'll see if I can come up with a Cthulhu mask. I think it would work okay for "the thing that crawls out of the well."
*Can I get that on a t-shirt?
Friday, October 28, 2011
Click to enlarge. Well, I was one of the drones who filled out this survey, and believe me, I was not instrumental in having your w4t3r company selected as a top place to work. I didn't say anything really bad about it, but I didn't say anything very good, either.
Anyhow, I already had my two original floating holidays scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, so I just scheduled the new one for Wednesday. So I have a long 5-day weekend coming up, followed by a super-short 2-day work week.
And even though I've been telling them for months that they need to let me train more people on certain cycle 5 & 6 routes, they haven't. Which means when that 6 comes up next week, it's going to be a major clusterf*** because guess who's the only person there who knows the route.
I was snickering sardonically about it all day today.
I don't know if this is now considered obsolete usage, or if it's just one of those things where so many people kept getting it wrong that everyone now thinks it's right. I hear this usage on the radio often and it always bugs me.
"He strolled down the street in a leisurely manner."
"He strolled down the street leisurely."
The first is correct. The second is not. It should be, "He strolled down the street leisurelily." Whenever I hear someone speak this way, it makes me wince as if I'd heard a flat note in a song.
If anyone wants to correct me on this, you better be a super hard-core English nerd with some serious academic credentials if you expect to change my mind.
Ambrose Bierce, American author, is visiting San Antonio before starting a trip through Mexico. Bierce said he may make the Mexico tour by horseback.
Somebody find out where he stayed. He's sure to be haunting it.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Even if you don't want any popcorn, you can also use this to support our military. Just click on the "military donation" button and your donation will be used to send popcorn to our troops.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Monday, October 24, 2011
Although I don't think Alfred E. Neumann could really handle it, the one about "Murder Ballads of the Appalachians" is something that someone should really do.
I have specifically wondered how hard it would be to research, track down and create my own collection of folk, bluegrass and old-time country songs about murder. There seems especially to be a recurring theme of the singer having killed a woman (usually his girlfriend), for example "Knoxville Girl."* Unfortunately that's the only one I can think of right now off the top of my head, but I know there are others. There's even a Wikipedia entry on it.
*Read those lyrics and then feel free to think: WTF?
Sunday, October 23, 2011
In my nightmares, and possibly in some future story, this is where vampires hide out during the day when they get caught too far from shelter.
This is an open storm drain--because someone stole the manhole cover. I saw two of these in one day last week. You can expect to see this more and more in the coming years because the more easily stolen meter box lids won't be around to steal anymore.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I was already conscious of this. You might want to not watch this video if you choose to remain a more passive music listener, because after this you'll probably at least smirk quietly in recognition any time you hear a song like this.
The chord progression in question is I-V-vi-IV, that is, Do-Mi-So to So-Ti-Re to La-Do-Mi to Fa-La-Do and back again. The upper case Roman numerals indicate a major chord, the lower case a minor chord.
I've had a sort of sub-genre of songs like this in my head for a long time. Yes, sometimes I'm listening to a song and I think, "Oh, this is one of those one-five-six-four songs." Almost as popular is a very similar progression, I-vi-IV-V.
Anyway, this video is a great demonstration of what seems to be an extremely popular, if not the most popular chord progression in pop music.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
And as such, I would very much like it if everyone else would read this: 6 Misleading Assumptions You Make About Quiet People.
One common definition of the introvert/extrovert divide is that extroverts gain energy from being around people, whereas introverts spend energy when hanging around people. So parties make introverts tired, even if they like everyone there and are having a good time.
I cannot overemphasize how true this statement is.
Most of you who read this blog have never met me in person. Those of you who have know that once I become familiar with you and find we have common interests, I can be quite talkative. But I can handle other people only in small doses; being in a group with many people is very wearying for me. I think it's because I want to see and hear so much that I become tired through excessive perceiving.
So if you ever see me sitting quietly, watching and listening to everything that is going on around me but saying nothing, I just want you to know it doesn't mean I hate you. It doesn't mean I'm socially crippled and want desperately to join in.
It only means I am measuring up your weaknesses. Heh. Just kidding.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Hornady® Zombie Max ammunition make DEAD PERMANENT!At Midsouth Shooters. Video ad at the link.
Disclaimer: Hornady® Zombie Max ammunition is NOT a toy (IT IS LIVE AMMUNITION), but is intended only to be used on ZOMBIES, also known as the living dead, undead, etc. No human being, plant, animal, vegetable or mineral should ever be shot with Hornady® Zombie Max ammunition. Again, we repeat, Hornady® Zombie Max ammunition is for use on ZOMBIES ONLY, and that’s not a nickname, phrase or cute way of referring to anybody, place or thing. When we say Zombies, we mean ZOMBIES!
This past Thursday, at my place of employment, everyone there had to gather in the conference room to watch an instructional video on harassment of various kinds. Before the video ran, the boss told us that a lot of it was going to seem funny, but it was really serious.
Apparently the desk drone who picked out this video had no sense of humor, and when they began showing it to the employees and everyone started laughing, they realized they had picked the wrong video. But by then they had already bought the rights to show it, and it was too late. Or something.
It was funny enough to be on a comedy skit show, if there were any comedy skit shows left that were still funny. My personal favorite part was when some white guy started ragging on an Arabic-looking guy for liking camel racing over baseball. Now I'm going to be asking everyone if they've seen any good camel races lately.
After it was over and we were standing in line waiting for our assignments, I told some of my co-workers, "I guess I shouldn't tell the joke about the Jew, the Mexican and the Iraqi who took a dumb blonde to a gay bar."
Netflix finally got--a couple of weeks ago--ST:DS9 available for streaming, and I have been watching and enjoying it. I didn't follow it well when it was on, only starting to watch it toward the end, so there are a lot of shows I have never seen before. In my opinion, this is the best of all the latter-day ST iterations. The characters are much more multi-faceted and internally conflicted, and there is a lot of humor in it, especially between Quark and Odo. I also like how it shows that a lot of peoples outside of the beloved Federation don't have a very high opinion of the Federation and sometimes even have outright contempt and/or hostility toward it--often somewhat justified.
I received a notice from my internet service this past week that all customers are being bumped one tier up in their service level, although the monthly fee will remain the same. To me, this means that my speed has doubled, and I actually noticed it before I received the official notice. I haven't had any problems streaming videos for a couple of weeks now. I don't know why they did this.
I have been considering trying an audio blog (I don't want to go so far as to call it a podcast). To my knowledge, Blogger doesn't allow any audio uploads. However, Tumblr does, and I created an account over there to play around with some time ago, just to see how it works. I'm still working out technical details on actually creating an audio blog. So far it looks like editing one will take a lot of time, and that's after actually recording it. Or I might just create an audio-only "video" to upload to my YouTube channel. We'll see.
Friday, October 14, 2011
Chances are, if you seen many lists of odd album covers, you've seen this one. I must say that this cover art has always been strangely compelling--or perhaps compellingly strange--to me. For one thing, I thought the dude was a woman.
Interesting article at Mental Floss about The True Stories Behind 10 Bad Album Covers. Good ol' Heinz Georg Kramm is the last, but certainly not the least, on the list. He's wildly famous and popular with 50 million albums sales to his credit. And he's still performing today.
The funny lumberjack. Or maybe the happy lumberjack. One of those.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Saturday my daughter told me something like this: "My stupid science teacher put macaroni and popcorn into the microwave at the same time, and it caught fire. We had to evacuate the building."
I didn't believe her. It sounded too ridiculous.
She just showed me the letter that was sent home with her from school. "Due to an incident involving a microwave on Friday the school was evacuated as a precaution. At no time were any students in actual danger."
So...apparently putting macaroni and popcorn into a microwave at the same time is almost as bad as popping Jiffy Pop in a microwave.
Also, her science teacher apparently can't use a microwave without setting off the fire alarms. Figures.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Here's an article about some people who stole a 50-foot long steel bridge in Pennsylvania.
Metal thievery has been an increasing problem for a long time now, but it's reaching critical levels, and by that I mean levels at which the municipalities are no longer going to be able to just keep replacing stolen metal items, because they just can't afford it.
If you're ever walking around the city for some reason, look around you at the water meter covers. The vast majority--residential meters--have small metal plates & lids. They stopped buying these a few years ago and started replacing them with plastic lids that aren't worth stealing. But around businesses and wherever irrigation systems are in place, you will see larger meters that use what we call #1 and #2 lids. Both are rectangular; the #1 lids are the smaller of the two.
Your water company has reached a critical point at which it can no longer replace these stolen lids. It's just too expensive, and as soon as one gets replaced, it almost immediately gets stolen. The problem is that there is no plastic lid of a #2 size that can stand up to being driven over, which is often what happens with these meters because they're in driveways, parking lots, streets, etc. So you are going to see more and more sidewalk-sized barricades popping up everywhere--right on top of where someone stole a lid. They're only made from plastic and aren't worth stealing.
There will be no more metal meter lids in S.A. The thieves have literally stolen themselves out of business. If you have a rectangular meter lid on your property, I recommend taking matters into your own hands and welding a chain to one end of it--and welding the other end of the chain to the inside of the box--so it can still be opened but not as easily stolen. Because when it's stolen, it won't be replaced.
I agree with this wholeheartedly. Most of these...uh..."jokes" just make the writer look like an idiot. They ceased to be funny years ago and really you people should
just get the **** over it learn to be more original anyway.
Friday, October 07, 2011
Got drizzled on for a few hours this morning, then the sun came out and it became miserably steamy and humid.
Customer Service Week is over and done with for another year, thank G-d. What a stupid, pointless, insulting waste of time. I did get a free meal out of it, but I had to take it to go, which from what I saw and heard is what everyone did because they worked us so hard no one wanted to stay around and "relax."
I also saw and heard that one of the main organizers was pretty p.o.ed that we didn't all sit down together and have a meal like one big happy family. Apparently she thought we should have all stopped working at noon, come in to eat, then gone back out and finished afterwards. Only a true fat-assed office worker could think like that. So I'm glad she was unhappy. I wish they'd discontinue this b.s. tradition and leave us all the h*** alone.
One of my surprise "treats" was to find they'd snuck a Coke Zero into my truck overnight. A freakin' Coke Zero. WTH? Not only that, but it was only a 7.5 ounce can. A) I don't like Coke. B) I don't like diet drinks. C) 7.5 oz is barely enough for me to even notice I've swallowed something. Also, that stuff doesn't have caffeine, right? Why would I even bother drinking a soft drink with no caffeine in it?
And now I have jury duty coming up. This is the first time I've been summoned in about 20 years. Before that, I received 3 summons' within about 18 months, and one thing or another happened so I didn't get on the jury.
1st time: The guy who was going to trial opted to be tried before the judge only and forego the jury.
2nd time: I was in school and they let me go because of that.
3rd time: I got the summons, then about a week later got a follow-up de-summons, that is, a letter from the judge saying my services were no longer requested. All three of these were during 1990-91, or maybe 91-92, I'm not sure.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
The kid is drawing an Elder sign. That's the not the kind of thing he'd do if he were worshiping Cthulhu. So...either this kid has Randolph Carter-level resistance to insanity and is hitting the Big Guy with an eldritch magic sucker punch, or someone goofed when they were making this graphic.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
This week is "Customer Service Week" at my place of employment, which means that we are expected to act like one big happy family and play stupid games every morning instead of just going out and doing our jobs and getting the **** out of there as soon as possible.
Of course this means they've been working us extra hard. We're supposed to do around 600 meters per day, more or less, depending on what kind of route we have. Friday I did 685, Monday I spent all day in the Dominion (could only read about 580 meters, because it's the Dominion), today I did 711.
I find the whole "Customer Service Week" crap pointless and insulting. I'm hoping that the extra work will put us far enough ahead that we still get a free meal on Friday afternoon. That's what happened last year, anyway. The year before that, I got such a bad assignment that by the time I finished there wasn't anything left of the brisket but gristle and fat.
I finished up building my big favorites list finally, except for all the "various artists" collections and the jazz directory. So I took a break and tonight am getting around to listening to some of the new stuff I've been downloading free, mostly samplers from Amazon. Here's one that I found quite interesting.
Jewish holiday music. Some of the tracks are just standard pop fare, but I think it's worth downloading just for something different. I would recommend skipping track 13 because it's rap--English rap, unfortunately. If it had been Hebrew rap...well I've never heard any but I think it would be pretty cool. Anyway, some favorites on this one, especially track 3 which is sung in Hebrew.
Also worth checking out--one which I downloaded just today, is...
It's probably not what you think it is. Especially of note from this collection is a group called Lilium Aeris, who specialize in ancient music played on period instruments (harp and recorder!). If you have a thing for ancient/medieval music, look them up on YouTube. I haven't heard the whole thing yet (total playing time 63 minutes), but I'm liking it all so far.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
At Film School Rejects. Also the real people behind some other famous comedians.
This may shock and dismay some of you, but I've always liked Gottfried and have always been greatly amused by him. I first saw him doing some stand-up on one of those late-night stand-up comedy shows back in the 80s and he had me ROFL. I even remember one of the jokes he did, about when he took away his pet turtle's staircase.
I know he was also a regular on SNL at one time but I've never seen any of those shows.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Well, if you hadn't heard of it yet, one of the local TV stations released all of my employing company's payroll information. Because they can, I guess. I think the biggest shocker for outsiders is that very few of us are overpaid. I don't suppose this will help anyone to learn that their water bills are high because they waste so much water by dumping it out on the ground (which most people refer to as "watering the lawn"). I can almost guarantee this is going to cause more internal problems than external. I have already looked over the spreadsheets myself and was amused more often than aggrieved. For example, I checked two people who I know were hired on the same day. Person #1 has applied himself well, doing his job better than almost everyone else in the department (by the way, this person is not me), and doing what was required of him. Person #2 (not me, either), has spent his entire time complaining about every little thing he could and at times simply refusing to do what he was hired to do. In a normal company, this would of course get you fired, but with my employer it's almost impossible to get fired, so he's still there. Person #1 got regular merit increases and eventually transferred to another department and now makes a couple thousand per year more than I do. Person #2 is still making basically the same amount at which he was hired. I got a big kick out of learning this.
In my wildest fantasies, I see some bigwig looking at this information and saying, "why didn't Person #2 ever get any raises?" and being told, "because he's a worthless f***off" and replying, "then why hasn't his sorry a** been fired?" That's only a fantasy, though. It won't happen.
Here's a mascot (a friendly stray dog) from Thursday. He followed me around for about half an hour down in the godforsaken bottom end of the Old Sky Harbor area.
My daughter has a history assignment in which she has to have her photo taken while standing next to at least 5 historical markers in our home county, and create a poster board with the photos and textual information regarding them. I took her photos with a regular (film) camera because it's just a lot easier to have it developed than to try and print decent digital pix, but I also took a few digital photos so she could begin writing up the text part of her assignment.
Here's the big marker in Sutherland Springs. If you click to enlarge you can probably read it all. By the way, the 1998 flood was worse than the 1913 flood, as far as water volume. It didn't result in as much property damage, nor cause any deaths (here), but as far as sheer volume of water, it was worse.
Here's one I didn't know about until just recently when my dad told me about it. Unfortunately I couldn't get any closer so my digital photo isn't readable, but this is an old homestead site that is still private property. The buildings you can see are both original, except for the a/c window unit on the house, I guess.
The first three shown here are all within just a few miles of my house. There was one other but I took close-up shots of it so we could read the photos and they don't look good enough to bother posting here (it's for an old oil field). This is the Polley family Cemetery, not far from what everyone now calls "the Polley mansion," but which its original owner called Whitehall. You can read this one easily.
This last one is several miles from my home but which I have family connections with. There were actually two markers here, but unfortunately I forgot to take a shot of the second, smaller marker, although we did get a film photo of it with my daughter. The cut-off part at the top says "Marcelina Community." I lived near here from the time I was about 4 to 6 years old. Those objects at the far top left are tombstones; there is a cemetery there also which as I mentioned has its own marker that I neglected to capture digitally. I have several relatives buried there, including my great-grandmother, whose grave is now lost and unknown. However, I showed the kids the approximate location of where about it's supposed to be according to my dad. She died when he was a little kid, and before a permanent marker could be erected over it, a tornado blew through that destroyed/displaced many of the small temporary markers they used back then. And of course, back then they didn't keep blueprints of the grave layouts, either. I also showed the kids where many of their relatives are buried; the last time I was there before today was for my great-uncle's funeral in 1992.
And finally I would like to direct your attention to a cool slideshow of Lovecraftian images assembled by my friend Babel, to the music of Shriekback's "Coelecanth."