Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hitler's Books

The New York Sun has an article about a new book titled Hitler's Private Library by Timothy Ryback:
Yet this man with such an anti-intellectual approach to reading came to own an enormous private library of around 16,000 books, kept in his residences in Berlin and Munich, and in the mountain retreat he had built above Berchtesgaden.

The first description of this book collection, published in 1942, divides the volumes into military history, the largest grouping; a section on art and architecture; another comprising many works on astrology, spiritualism, nutrition, and diet, and around a thousand books of often trashy popular literature, including a complete set of the Karl May cowboys-and-Indians stories, of which he was particularly fond. Most of Hitler's books, those kept in the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, were shipped off by the victorious Soviet authorities to Moscow. They allegedly surfaced in a disused church in the city in the early 1990s, but then disappeared without trace. Many of the books in Munich and at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden fell victim to souvenir hunters among the American soldiers trampling through the ruins of the Reich in Bavaria, but around 3,000, discovered in a Berchtesgaden salt mine, found their way to the Library of Congress in Washington. These were eventually weeded out to leave around 1,200 books — less than 10% of the original collection — that contained undoubted evidence of Hitler's personal possession. Another 80 books that belonged to Hitler were identified only recently in the basement vault library of Brown University. Others doubtless still exist in private hands.
Read the whole thing for a basic book review and perhaps an insight or two on the mind of you-know-who, and the "bizarre note" upon which the book ends.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A pet for Cousin It

Mysterytopia posts some photos and information about strange, or at least strange-looking, animals. I don't know why a couple of them (like the alpaca) are included, but some of them look quite strange (check out the blobfish).

The thing at the right is an Angora rabbit.


I hate to keep linking to dinosaur comics like I'm some kind of fanboy, but this comic just keeps cracking me up.  (P.S.  Don't forget to read the mouse-overs).

I actually experienced this once, without any kind of chemical enhancement.  It occurred during a period of meditation that followed a 2-hour stretch of yoga.

(Stretch of yoga!  Hee-hee!).  It was actually very enjoyable.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

He wonder'd...

Brer at PowerOfBabel recently posted an old poem by Eugene Field that echoed some of the sentiments I have expressed on occasion. Not to be completely outdone, I would like to offer this poem by John Keats.

The Naughty Boy

There was a naughty boy,
And a naughty boy was he,
He ran away to Scotland
The people for to see--
Then he found
That the ground
Was as hard,
That a yard
Was as long,
That a song
Was as merry,
That a cherry
Was as red,
That lead
Was as weighty,
That fourscore
Was as eighty,
That a door
Was as wooden
As in England--
So he stood in his shoes
And he wonder'd,
He wonder'd,
He stood in his shoes
And he wonder'd.

Also, make sure the computer is plugged in

I am still officially on break and trying to decide if I even want to keep this blog going or not, but I thought I'd share today's lesson, called: Don't Overlook The Obvious.

For some time, I've had a few minor problems with my computer. I recently started doing regular weekly maintenance and things have improved a lot (thanks mostly, I think, to CCleaner). But there were still two things wrong and I was afraid I'd have to go through that "start over again from the recovery disk" routine, which I really don't want to do unless the machine just flat stops working.

Problem 1: IE would not connect to the internet. Firefox worked. Opera worked. Everything else worked. But not IE. For several months I would go a-googling every now and then to see if I could find any solutions, or at least get a vague idea of what might be the actual problem. I had not been able to find anything that solved the problem. But I had overlooked the obvious. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, or why it finally came to me today, but I suddenly thought: What about the firewall? So I checked and, sure enough, my firewall was blocking IE from accessing the internet. I don't know how that happened. So I checked the "allow" button and poof! I have IE again. Although I hardly ever use it, unless I come across something that looks like it isn't displaying properly in Firefox, then I might fire up IE to get another look at it. Also if I make any changes to the template here I like to be able to look at it with different browsers because I know other people out there will be using them.

Problem 2: Gimp was not displaying properly. You know that section on the bottom where all the tool controls are, where you can drop down the menu for different fonts and so forth? That was gone. I don't know how it disappeared or why, but it was just gone. I haven't really felt like learning some new software because I've come to know Gimp pretty well, but I couldn't find anything that might tell me what was going on. So today, since I was on a roll from fixing IE, I took another look at it. I simply went to File > Preferences > Window Management and clicked on "reset saved window positions to default values." That was all it took. I have a suspicion this problem was caused by my daughter because she likes to play around with Gimp and Photofiltre a lot, but she doesn't always know exactly what she's doing (contrary to popular opinion).

So maybe I can start doing some p-shopping again now that I have Gimp back the way it should be.

And don't forget today's lesson: Don't Overlook The Obvious.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

The "psychopomp in the field"

Brer at PowerOfBabel has graced us with an excellent post on scarecrow lore, Season of the Scarecrow:
No-one really knows the origin of the scarecrow. Some hold they derive from the old Roman custom of having a herm in every field, and are thus of sacred origin as a guardian of the crop. According to one tale they arose from a grim necessity. In the old days it was the task of the very old and the very young to protect the fields from birds and other marauders by shrieking, waving their arms, or chasing them away when they approached; so the weakest and feeblest could still serve the needs of their folk. When the Black Death swept across the land, the old and the young were hardest hit. In their absence, and with spare clothes suddenly in abundance, the scarecrow was created to fill the gap, and since then its' enigmatic figure has strode across the landscape of our imagination.
It is that time of year, after all. And there's a little bit of pipe-smoking lore in it as well.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Weekly Googthulhu

It is told that in the immemorial years when the world was young, before ever the men of Sarnath came to the land of Mnar, another city stood beside the lake; the gray stone city of Ib, which was old as the lake itself, and peopled with beings not pleasing to behold. Very odd and ugly were these beings, as indeed are most beings of a world yet inchoate and rudely fashioned. It is written on the brick cylinders of Kadatheron that the beings of lb were in hue as green as the lake and the mists that rise above it; that they had bulging eyes, pouting, flabby lips, and curious ears, and were without voice. It is also written that they descended one night from the moon in a mist; they and the vast still lake and gray stone city lb. However this may be, it is certain that they worshipped a sea-green stone idol chiseled in the likeness of Bokrug, the great water-lizard; before which they danced horribly when the moon was gibbous. And it is written in the papyrus of Ilarnek, that they one day discovered fire, and thereafter kindled flames on many ceremonial occasions. But not much is written of these beings, because they lived in very ancient times, and man is young, and knows but little of the very ancient living things.
I went looking for something a little more obscure this time, and found this image of Bokrug at Monster Brains. Not quite as horrifying as I would think, but still a good effort and excellent detail.

There's also a death metal band named Bokrug, I discovered.

I admit it...

I would be totally hosed without a Dremel tool.

The negative battery contact on my truck was in pretty bad shape due to corrosion buildup, but the cables were still intact and very heavy-duty. So I used the Dremel to cut what was left of the contact away, then cut through the old bolt because it was too corroded to unscrew. Then I drilled out the hole where the old bolt had attached the contact to the cables, widened it and got rid of all the leftover corroded metal shards, then put on a sander and ground the whole thing until all the corrosion was gone and I had a bright, shiny, smooth contact. Then I just bolted it onto the new heavy-duty contact I got from NAPA yesterday and now the truck starts with no problem.

But if I didn't have a Dremel tool, I don't what I would have done. My only complaint is that it's one of those single-speed (30,000 rpm) models, but then it was a gift, so I'm not complaining. But I would like to get a variable-speed model.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"Dear Media"

An excellent rant at Cracked:
I feel like all we’re getting are lies and lines, and no one’s talking about the issues and no one’s holding anyone accountable. Media, you’re supposed to be on our side. Stop repeating the same sound bites over and over again. In the history of forever, has a President’s ability to do his job been enhanced or impaired as a result of how they feel about moose-hunting? Then shut up about it.
Yes, the media has been failing us for a long, long time.  It's encouraging that more people are finally waking up to the fact, but what the heck too you so long?

Ahoy, me hearties!

'Tis Talk Like a Pirate Day, and I was so busy hangin' scurvy dogs from the yardarm that I almost forgot! So quaff some grog and don't forget the wise words o' Cap'n Blackbeard: Beware all wenches!

I really need to buy a DVD of Blackbeard's Ghost. I haven't seen that movie in such a long time. Seems like the scurvy dogs at Disney could take a break from that Montana wench to show an old movie or two now and then. They should all be keelhauled.

Another free download: Six Degrees--An Amazon Sampler

Here's another free download mp3 album that I forgot to mention: Six Degrees. All instrumental, and uh...I suppose you want a genre, don't you? Let's call it worldbeat ambient. Yeah, that's the ticket. A little too much up-tempo for chill. And it's free. If this is your kind of thing, don't miss it!

Ambrose Bierce and crystal skulls

The Mitchell-Hedges Official Website posts a long but interesting exploration of how Mitchell-Hedges may have acquired the famous crystal skull, and how Ambrose Bierce figures in, in The real origins of the skull?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Has anyone heard from Kelly since Ike went through?

Nothing is sacred, not even a little

Some guy has been commissioned to write a new Hitchhiker's Guide book.

I won't be reading it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's not actually a rainbow...

But it's still pretty impressive.

As Nathan Explosion said...

"I'll just wing it because no one can understand me when I'm singing anyway." Or something like that.

I've been listening to the End Records Sampler that I downloaded the other day. Some of the pieces are instrumentals, but most have vocals (of a sort). But I have to look them up to understand them.

I actually enjoy "metal" instrumentals. To me, they are very atmospheric. I don't know another word that would work as well. Ambient might work, but most people think of something else entirely when you say "ambient music."

One piece--hard to call it a song because the lyrics in this kind of stuff are rarely sung--is called "Starless Aeon" by the group Dissection. The title itself has a Lovecraftian ring so I did a search for the lyrics, and they are pretty good. Check it out.
The seventh aeon will soon pass as it has been foretold
The false empires will crumble and all illusions shall be destroyed
The enslavers tremble with fear, soon our stars align
The forbidden gates begin to open by the power of our forceful sign

Daath - wisdom of the abyss is the key to the broken star
Eleven angles pathways of chaos will bring forth our most wrathful god
Qliphothic forces from beyond will usurp the tree of cosmic lies
The sleeping dragon awakens smelling the elixir of our sacrifice

Dies Irae Dies Illa Solvet Cosmos In Favilla
Vocamus Te Aeshma-Diva
Dies Irae Dies Illa Solvet Cosmos In Favilla
Vocamus Te Aeshma-Diva

This is the winter of the last aeon, the hungry end is coming soon
Harbinger of the day of wrath will eclipse the sun and rape the moon

Unfold the starless aeon, the hungry end is coming soon
Harbinger of the day of wrath will eclipse the sun and rape the moon

The snake will completely devour itself putting an end to the cycle of time
Acausal flames will burn all to ashes erasing all signs of the demiurge crime
Our dark gods of chaos will return, this time to rule forever supreme
The dragon mother will then resurrect and end this cosmic dream

Dies Irae Dies Illa Solvet Cosmos In Favilla
Vocamus Te Aeshma-Diva
Dies Irae Dies Illa Solvet Cosmos In Favilla
Vocamus Te Aeshma-Diva
I don't know Latin, but an online translator says it means something like "the god of wrath will be loosened and all reduced to ashes."

"Qliphothic" is apparently a real word. "Qliphoth" is from Hebrew, and according to the Free Dictionary: (meaning "peels", "shells" or matter,singular: qelippah) and sometimes (the primeval "husks" of impurity) refer to the representation of evil forces in the mystical teachings of Judaism (such as in the Kabbalah.)

Interesting. Hebrew reads from right to left, I think. When I edited out the Hebrew letters from the above quote, the delete and backspace keys reversed function.

P.S. The Wikipedia entry on the Latin phrase is very interesting. There are lots of pop culture references which I was unaware of.

P.P.S. So this is "funeral doom goth" music. Huh. I'll let y'all know if I get the urge to go on a killing spree. So far, it seems to me nothing more than an interesting and enjoyable application of chord structure.

Fhtagn hope

via Cthulhu for Pres 08

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Big cats on the loose

Cryptomundo reports that a tiger and a lion have been spotted roaming loose on Galveston Island in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

R.I.P. Richard Wright

Keyboardist and one of Pink Floyd's founding members Richard Wright has passed away due to cancer. BBC has the news.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cell phone holder from Home Depot

I saw a co-worker with one of these the other day and had to ask where he got it. Turns out Home Depot sells these for about $9 each. I went and bought two of them today, one for me and one for my wife. A cell phone holder that seems to be able to actually protect your phone from hard knocks, and the flap fastens with velcro so the phone doesn't work its way out. I've never trusted the sheath that came with my cell phone, so this was a good buy for me. Comes with a rinky-dink flashlight and one of those doohickeys that you can hang stuff on. I'll probably just get rid of that thing, I don't trust them enough to actually hang my keys on them. It has a sturdy belt clip on the back. Just thought there might be someone out there who could use one of these to replace the piece of junk pouch that came with their phone.

Pipe tool and other paraphernalia not included.

Interesting search string

I got a hit for the string "lovecraft flowchart," which brought the searcher to this old post about a blogpost flowchart. But the search interested me. I wonder what they were looking for? So I checked it out. A couple of interesting things turned up.

The NYT has this hilarious evolution of a geek flowchart. Seems it all hinges on "exposed to D&D early in life." I note with suitable irony that "blogging about diagrams" is part of the chart.

But I think this chart from the Cthulhu for President 2008 website was closer to what they were looking for:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Art of Lovecraft

io9 posts an extensive review of, and lots of pictures from, A Lovecraft Retrospective: Artists Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. An enormous tome (one commenter said that it weighs over 13 pounds) that sells for $276.50 new at Amazon, or slightly less if you buy it used.

No rain today

Not a single drop.

The Very Best of Naxos Early Music

Another free album from Amazon:  Very Best of Naxos Early Music. Early (medieval) religious music from the Naxos label.  Very nice.

Smooth move, Blogger

Something I have realized...

When you jump through the hoops and do the workaround to create a "sticky" post in Blogger, now that post-dating makes a scheduled post, said post never shows up in the feed. So, if you create a post that you think is important enough to stick at the top of your blog for a period of time, your readers who use some sort of feed reader will not see it.

Brilliant, Blogger, brilliant.

I noticed this because I keep missing Cowboy Blob's weekly caption contest.

Blogger really needs to create real "sticky" functionality now that they've changed the original function of post-dating.

UPDATE: Just checked Blogger Help, and this isn't the only problem they're having with scheduled posts.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Night Train

An overview from Wikipedia:
"Night Train" has a long and complicated history. The piece's opening riff was first recorded in 1940 by a small group led by Duke Ellington sideman Johnny Hodges under the title "That's the Blues, Old Man". Ellington used the same riff as the opening and closing theme of a longer-form composition, "Happy-Go-Lucky Local", that was itself one of four parts of his Deep South Suite. Forrest was part of Ellington's band when it performed this composition, which has a long tenor saxophone break in the middle. After leaving Ellington, Forrest recorded "Night Train" on United Records and had a major rhythm & blues hit. While "Night Train" employs the same riff as the earlier recordings, it is used in a much earthier R&B setting. Forrest inserted his own solo over a stop-time rhythm not used in the Ellington composition. He put his own stamp on the tune, but its relation to the earlier composition is obvious.

Like Illinois Jacquet's solo on "Flying Home", Forrest's original saxophone solo on "Night Train" became a veritable part of the composition, and is usually recreated in cover versions by other performers. Buddy Morrow's trombone solo chorus from his recording of the tune is similarly incorporated into many performances.
I first became acquainted with this piece in high school.  A simplified version without any solo breaks was part of our regular stage band repertoire, and it quickly became one of my favorite pieces, even before I really became a jazz fan.  I heard another version of it today.  Unfortunately I can't remember the performer, but it was done with a bari sax and was very slowed down, almost ballad-like, and radically different from the version I heard several days ago performed by World Saxophone Quartet.  The WSQ version was hyper, to say the least, and the four musicians who recorded it were uncannily precise in their performance.

It got me to thinking of an interesting side-hobby in my music collecting.  To collect every version of "Night Train" I can find, regardless of who recorded it or how it sounds.

A quick search at Amazon MP3 shows 675 songs with that string somewhere in the title, although many of them are not the song I'm looking for (and some of them are group names).  Still, that is one heavily covered jazz piece.  Probably not as heavily covered as "Take the A Train," but still...

Porcelain objects shaped like guns and artistically colored

The fragile weapon, hand-painted in the style of classic tableware motifs, lies next to your coffee and cake, asking to be picked up. Its coolness and comfortable grip increase the qualms of the user, leaving him in a quandary between the pleasure of luxury and violence.
An ambiguously-worded quandary, I think. Ah, hoplophobes! Is there nothing they can't be afraid of? I suppose you could smack someone over the head with it. Other than that, I don't see anything particularly violent about a piece of porcelain.

Anyway, for more cool pictures of these gun-shaped decorations, go here.


Northbound traffic on Highway 87 (aka Rigsby) has been heavy for the last couple of days--all the evacuee traffic.

Got gas today even though I didn't really need to. All the stations in the area where I usually buy gas (there are four there, five if you count the mom & pop) were packed with people. I actually had to wait in line for a few minutes. I was able to get it for $3.49/gallon still at the Exxon at Rigsby & 410, but earlier while I was working I noticed the Flying J had gone up to $4.03. The Valero right across the street from the Exxon had all three grades for the same price, $3.65. I didn't bother to discover why.

We were all set for heavy rains tomorrow but our chances of it keep going down. Ike is hooking too far north.

I hope all you folks on the coast get through with minimal problems.


An excellent Wondermark for book lovers.  I also like the mouse-over quote:  "They will breathe with gills that make the sound of fluttering pages."  Poetic and humorous at the same time.

And speaking of which...

Tessa Dick comments on PKD movies, in light of the upcoming UBIK. She says, "UBIK is one of the major sources of “inspiration” (or perhaps plagiarism) for The Matrix."

In yesterday's post I had originally mentioned this, but then decided it wasn't relevant to the point of the post and deleted it. The general idea of The Matrix was addressed not only in UBIK, but in other stories as well: that we are living in a "hologram" and everything we think is real is actually contrived and false.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Alas! My pipe! Hard must it go with me if thy charm be gone!

I have suffered through three long weeks of pipelessness. One cold after another, constantly feeling sick. Yesterday I finally seemed to emerge from the gloom. I felt that my energy had returned, and I coughed up a bunch of the stuff that was choking my voice away. So today I had a pipe for the first time in three weeks.

You know something? When I'm not able to sit here puffing on a pipe, I just don't give a rodent's sphincter for blogging.

I had occasion a couple of days ago to have some vital stats taken. My blood pressure was 100/60. It always has been on the low end. I also weigh only 168 now in my stocking feet. Several years ago, when I had a very sedentary job, I broke 200 and things just weren't right. I went on a diet back then, and managed to drop 20 pounds, but couldn't get any lower than 180 because I didn't get any exercise. Since starting the job of full-time meter reading about 15 months ago, I have lost weight. I knew I had, but I didn't know how much (our bathroom scale doesn't work). Today I got home to discover that my wife had purchased a new pair of jeans for me (black jeans), with a 34 waist. They fit perfectly. There was one time when I actually had bought two pairs of size 38s because I could barely squeeze into the 36s and couldn't carry IWB at all with a 36. I don't know whatever became of those 38s. Anyway, I'll still be wearing 36s and just cinching them up with my belt because I have a lot of them, but I think it's very remarkable that I can get into a 34 again.

Also I think I'll still need the 36s for IWB carry.

Horselover Fats

Philip K. Dick is another of my favorite authors. I sometimes refer to him as "the other master." But man, the dude had problems. A brief article written by his fourth fifth wife (yikes!) Tessa gives a glimpse:
Hints of these philosophical ideas can be found throughout Phil's writing, even in works from before he experienced the visions. He always suspected that we have made some kind of Faustian pact, that we agreed to live, suffer and die in this illusory world. Thus, when a character tries to purchase a cola from a vending machine, he might find himself in an empty room holding a piece of paper on which the words “vending machine” are printed. The visitors who came to Phil showed him alternate histories stacked like dominoes above our time line, in what he called "orthogonal time"—a time and space perpendicular to our own, where we cannot perceive them any more than the point in Flatland can see the sphere who comes to visit him. He sees only the circle that appears in his flat world when the sphere passes through.

Those visitors seemed to be moving chunks of alternate history and dropping them into our time line, trying to achieve a result that would satisfy their goals. They sometimes leave behind artifacts, which might explain why many ancient societies which we have labeled "primitive" left evidence of advanced technology, including electric light bulbs and flying machines. It would also explain records of ancient nuclear war, such as we find in the Vedas.

The time travelers, or time meddlers, sometimes enter our reality to observe us, and they appeared quite shocked whenever they realized that Phil could see them. They did occasionally communicate with him. They claimed to come from a time that is neither the past nor the future, but outside of our time. Phil most often thought that they were humans, not aliens, but genetically altered in some way. He felt that they wanted to help us avoid some global disaster that happened in the 1970s and which negatively affected their world.
Much of the stuff Dick wrote about were explorations of his theories or beliefs or hunches, call them what you will. Was he a genius or insane, or both? Or is there any difference? Or does it even matter?

The Flatland metaphor is also suitable for describing how limited and stilted a view Hollywood has of his works through the movies that have been made: a flat and featureless viewpoint that misses all the depth and nuance that makes his stories so gripping and sometimes downright disturbing.

Action figures

Put that gun holster on the schoolgirl, and I'm sold.

P.S. I'm not an action figure aficionado by any means, but that's got to be the ugliest sculpting I've ever seen. Those figures look like they were hacked out by the Robot Chicken folks.

via Jed

On a more sobering note...

And in keeping with the theme that will dominate the blogosphere today, Oddee posts several old ads featuring unfortunate portrayals of the World Trade Center.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Just finished listening to an epic 14-minute track from the End Records Sampler (I love those long pieces), called "Sandskin" by a duo who call themselves Nadja. No vocals on this one. Now I think I know what the guy was getting at with "fever dream metal." It's like a combination of ambient and metal. Like Tangerine Dream crossed with Dethklok. I'm going to be buying some stuff by these guys. Awesome.

More downloading

This latest cold or whatever it is, is strange. Usually when I get a cold like this, it starts in the back of my throat and goes up so I have a few days of extremely sensitive sinuses and racking, spasmodic sneezing spells. This time it started in the back of my throat and went down. So now I have laryngitis. Only the second time in my life that I've been afflicted with this, although this time is not nearly as bad as the first time. Also I just feel tired all the time.

I've been doing some mp3-related stuff. Got the email that I signed up for from Amazon today. They have two albums available for free download that (miraculously) both look like something I'd like, although they are very different. One of them was called "fever dream metal" by whoever wrote the email; a genre I'd never heard of before, and one which isn't described on Wikipedia. I couldn't find anything with G00gl3 either. So I looked up a couple of individual bands and decided the descriptions looked interesting enough to download it. Takes a while at my speed, but what the hey, I'm not expecting any important phone calls. Fortunately Amazon downloader supports restartable downloads so I can do it a little at a time. Should finish tomorrow, I think.

So anyway, the album is The End Records Free 16-Song Sampler. The other free one is an EP-length album by some new singer-songwriter guy out of Nashville, and the sound samples are Americana-ish. It's called Where We Started by Matt Wertz. I think both of these free offers are good through September 15.

More comments after I get these downloaded and have a chance to listen to them. I'm especially looking forward to that sampler. The sound snips I listened to were very tantalizing.

Also I found an ambient music website that looks pretty good but I'll save that for later. But right now it's time for medicine and bed.

Large Hadron Collider humor

Monday, September 08, 2008

this is just a test post

Feel free to ignore it.

And her name was Donna...

I was looking through some old sheet music from years gone by, and there, sandwiched between two loose sheets of hymns written sometime in the 80s, was the seal from an old Lipton instant tea container.

Why was it there? I'm almost certain I didn't save it intentionally. It must have just ended up there, scooped up in a rush to make the cafeteria line, or pushed aside to make room for a blank sheet of staff paper. But there it was.

Everything came back in a rush. Books, music, scattered pencils, sweet instant tea, brown hair and brown eyes. A lazy smile.

Summer. June 1983, I think. I already had a few years of advanced music theory under my belt at the summer camp, and one year of real college courses. I was there more to spend time with old friends and just soak in the familiar ambience. I might learn something, but mostly, I was just there to be there. It was her first year in the advanced class. She asked me if I could tutor her.

Days were filled with classes and training. Curfew was at 10 PM and we had to be up at 6 AM for breakfast. We had only two free hours every day, from 4-6 PM. We spent those two hours every day in the cafeteria. She had brought a container of Lipton instant tea from home. We scooped ice from the ice machine and with water from the water fountain we made iced tea. I never liked instant tea, but for some reason it tasted good when she made it. Saturday was different. Morning classes only, and from noon on we were free. We spent all afternoon together in the cafeteria, drinking instant tea, talking, laughing. I especially remember her laughing. I don't know how I made her laugh so much, but she had a rich, throaty laugh. A deep laugh that matched her alto voice. Sunday we went to church together, and hung out with each other for the rest of the day.

My eyes focused once more on the old Lipton tea seal. I carefully placed it back in the book where I had found it. It and the book are items from another time, another life, a life more innocent and naive than this one, but a life that--incredibly--once was mine. This old Lipton tea seal is just another hidden key that opens up the passages of time between now and then, when summer wasn't quite so hot, even instant tea tasted good, and I fell in love the first time.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Scheduled posts

I just noticed (partly by accident, partly by suspicion) that Blogger now supports scheduled posts. So how do you keep a post "sticky" now?

Just post-date your post and it will be scheduled for the date you chose. Previously, post-dating simply made it a "sticky" post until time caught up with it.

Friday, September 05, 2008


On Wednesday I didn't do my usual job; I had a mandatory driving class. All of The System's employees who have even the slightest chance of being required to drive a company vehicle must do this class, although I'm not sure exactly how often. It's a new class that is not the same as the state's defensive driving class, which is pretty much a joke. The class I took required that I actually drove under instruction while simultaneously answering questions and demonstrating some of the procedures in real time. I'm not explaining all this as a boast; in fact, I'm explaining it so show why I had to drive around in a van with 5 other people for several hours two days ago. One of them must have been carrying a vicious bug, because I got it. One of those colds that goes straight to the sinuses, with diversionary trips to the back of the throat.

My weapon of choice against this kind of cold is Alka-Seltzer cold medicine. It hits fast and doesn't make me too groggy. But it's hard to take that kind of dope when I'm working, so I took some DayQuil caplets today about 10:00 AM. I got very lucky today and got a route that is very easy and which I don't do often. I got back home about 12:30 and barely made it to the bed before I was unconscious. There has not been a decongestant discovered or invented yet that doesn't make me dopey. It doesn't matter if they say "non drowsy formula" or not. Some are worse than others, though, and I can still function with DayQuil. I usually avoid NyQuil completely, because it will screw me up for a good 24 hours.

Anyway, my new USB hard drive came in yesterday so I've begun ripping some CDs that I had previously skipped because I was running low on space. I now have plenty of space for my whole music collection and then some.

For personal reasons, I have been on a "pipe fast" for a couple of weeks. I was expecting to end it tomorrow but with this cold I might have to go another week or so. Bummer.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A found comment on Sarah Palin

Only one thing makes me question her judgement. I lived in Alaska from 86-92 and many times visited her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska. It astonishes me that anyone would voluntarily leave such a paradise to go live in Washington DC (the anus of the nation).
Seen at My Pipes Community.

So anyway...

That's how I heard the joke in the previous post, many years ago. I think it would work better if everyone were playing saxophones, and the punchline was "WHEN SAXOPHONE STOPS, DRUM SOLO BEGINS!!!"

When drums stop

A man had to go on a business trip to a small foreign country that shall remain nameless because that's not the point anyway. So he had a quiet, uneventful flight, but as he stepped off the airplane, the first thing he noticed was a man standing nearby playing drums. It struck him as odd, but he assumed it had some cultural significance. He jokingly asked another passenger, "What's the deal with the drums?" But the other passenger only looked startled at the question and said, "When drums stop, bad thing happens," before hurrying away.

So the businessman left the airport and caught a taxi to go to his hotel. As they drove along, he noticed numerous people standing on sidewalks playing drums. It was very odd. He checked into his hotel, and there was a drummer in the lobby. When he stepped off the elevator to go to his room, there was another drummer there on his floor. It was now starting to strike him as very bizarre so he asked the person why so many people were playing drums, and also if he could please stop because he wanted to catch a nap before dinner. "No, no, no," the drummer insisted, shaking his head, "When drums stop, bad thing happens."

So our businessman decided to go straight to dinner. He walked down the street to the restaurant, and this was when he realized that it was impossible to get out of earshot of someone playing drums. As soon as he put some distance between himself and the last drummer, he would be approaching another one. Everywhere, he could hear at least one person playing drums.

He eventually returned to his hotel room and found the same person as before standing on his floor playing drums. He went to his room and tried to sleep, but the drums kept him awake. Finally he confronted the drummer in his hallway and asked him again why he had to keep playing the drums. The man would only say, "When drums stop, bad thing happens!" The businessman had had enough. He seized the drumsticks from the man and shouted, "Tell me right now what this bad thing is! I'm going to break these drumsticks over your head if you don't tell me!"

The drummer, his eyes wide with terror, screamed back, "WHEN DRUMS STOP, SAXOPHONE COMES IN!!!"

The tobacco virus nano-syringe

At Wired.com:
Scientists are using a modified tobacco virus to deliver delicate gene therapies into the heart of diseased cells, with the potential to treat most cancers, viruses and genetic disorders.

The tobacco mosaic virus, which plagues the plant but is harmless to humans, is hollowed out and filled with "small interfering RNA" molecules, or siRNA, which some scientists consider to be the most significant development in medicine since the discovery of vaccines.

The virus' tubular shell provides a safe way to slip the delicate siRNA drugs into cells, serving as both a protective coating and a Trojan horse.

"This tobacco mosaic virus is literally a nano-sized syringe," says William Bentley, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Maryland, who is leading the study of the virus.
Interesting news, but one quote smells fishy.
Bentley is optimistic that the virus will not cause health problems because most people already have traces of it in their blood -- from second-hand smoke -- and it does not seem to cause irritation or obvious immune-system problems.
Do they really? Have large numbers of humans been tested to see if they have this virus in their blood? Or is this just an example of a scientist accepting and promulgating something that "everyone knows is true"?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Needs more nutmeg!

Swedish magazine recalled after faulty recipe poisons 4:
Ten thousand copies of a food magazine were recalled in Sweden after a mistake in one of its recipes left four people poisoned, the magazine said Thursday.

"There was a mistake in a recipe for apple cake. Instead of calling for two pinches of nutmeg it said 20 nutmeg nuts were needed," Matmagasinet's chief editor Ulla Cocke told AFP.

"We know that four adults ate one cake made from this recipe, and they didn't feel well," she said, adding that "this is obviously very regrettable."

The four people had experienced symptoms of poisoning, including dizziness and headaches, but were now feeling better, she said.
What boggles my mind is that these people didn't immediately know that it had to be a typo of some sort. Because, man, that is a b*ttload of nutmeg. I mean, that cake wouldn't even taste like cake. It would taste like NUTMEG.

Okay, I don't really have any "tales of misspent youth," because I've always been pretty straight. But back in the 80s (the 80s were sort of my 60s) I dabbled with...(cough) well, one thing I read was that if you ingest enough nutmeg you can get a buzz on. So I took a bunch of old medicine capsules and dumped out all the expired medicine, then went so far as to wipe out the insides with a q-tip. And then I filled them all with nutmeg and swallowed them. How many? I don't remember. Probably 10 or 20.

I didn't get nutmeg poisoning, neither did I get a buzz. But my burps did taste like nutmeg for 2 days.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

2nd Place!

At Cowboy Blob's. The caption is a reference to the song "Della and the Dealer" by Hoyt Axton. The lyrics I've found on the internet has the dog's name as "Jake." I've heard this song many times, and in fact I'm listening to it again right now, and it sounds like "Jig" to me.
It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
and a cat named Kalamazoo
Left the city in a pickup truck
Gonna make some dreams come true
Yeah they rolled out west where the wild sun sets
Andthe coyote bays at the moon
Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo

If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog as well
But the cat was cool and he never said a mumblin' word

Down Tucson way there's a small cafe
Where they play a little cowboy tune
And the guitar picker was a friend of mine
By the name of Randy Boone
Yeah Randy played her a sweet love song
And Della got a fire in her eyes
The Dealer had a knife
And the dog had a gun
And the cat had a shot of Rye

If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog as well
But the cat was cool and he never said a mumblin' word

Yeah the Dealer was a killer he was evil and mean
And he was jealous of the fire in her eyes
He snorted his coke through a century note
And swore that Boone would die
And the stage was set when the lights went out
There was death in Tucson town
Two shadows ran for the bar backdoor
And one stayed on the ground

If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog as well
But the cat was cool and he never said a mumblin' word

Two shadows ran from the bar that night
And a dog and a cat ran too
And the tires got hot on the pickup truck
As down the road they flew
It was Della and her lover and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo
Left Tucson in a pickup truck
Gonna make some dreams come true

If that cat could talk what tales he'd tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog as well
But the cat was cool and he never said a mumblin' word

My other attempt ("I'm telling you, Lloyd, the next time my wife tries that 'hair of the dog' joke again, I am going to go completely insane.") was a reference to "The Shining."

UPDATE: And I'm not the only one.

Behind the media circus

Loren Coleman gives a detailed account of busting the Bigfoot hoax. Interesting, and "to be continued..."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Mine is for a high-school drama class shot on Super-8

Culture of surveillance may contribute to delusional condition:
Psychosis in the 21st century looks something like this: You think your every move is being filmed for a reality television show starring you, and that everyone in your life is an actor.

Or you think you are under intense surveillance by an army of spies, whom you refer to as the "www people," as in the World Wide Web, and they wiretap your furniture and appliances.

Or else you refuse to drink water because you fear that another cup drawn from your faucet will, once and for all, deplete the world's water supply.

Those thoughts are from three case studies of what psychiatrists interested in the intersection of mental illness, culture and society are calling, respectively, Truman Show delusion, Internet delusion and climate change delusion; all of them a window, through madness, into the modern world.


With Internet delusion, patients typically incorporate the Internet into paranoid thoughts, including a fear that the Web is somehow monitoring or controlling their lives, or being used to transmit photographs or other personal information.

The delusions are fueling a chicken-and-egg debate in psychiatry: Are these merely modern examples of classic paranoia fed by the cultural landscape, or is there something about media like reality television and the Internet that can push people over the sanity line?

"Most likely these people would be delusional anyway," said Dr. Joel Gold, a psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York, who said he saw five patients at the hospital from 2002 to 2004 with Truman Show delusion. Gold and his brother, Dr. Ian Gold, the Canada research chair in philosophy and psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, came up with the term "Truman Show delusion."
I tend to agree with Dr.Gold. If not for the internet, they would have television as an excuse. If not for television, there would still be the wireless. But on the other hand, with the increasingly real surveillance that is going on today, it's no wonder more people are going over the edge.