Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This is not logical

Top comment at YouTube: "i didn't come here looking for answers, but i left with many questions"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Weekend update

My son had his Blue & Gold yesterday, which means he is moving on up to a full Boy Scout.  He had a rough patch there when he wanted to quit.  He said he was bored with it, although I suspect the reason was deeper than that.  Anyway, I half persuaded and half forced him to stick with it, and after last week's meeting he seemed to be revived.  I think he has more fun with it when I involve myself more.  So today we did an "engineering" project in which we made a "blueprint" of the house.  His den leader said it didn't have to be to scale, but there's no point in doing it sloppily, and it took us two sheets of graph paper taped together, but that sucker is to scale.  I think when he goes to Boy Scouts and gets to where he isn't constantly having to get something done to move up to the next level, he'll like it even more.  I wasn't able to be in Scouts when I was a kid, although I wanted to.  There was no organization where we lived, and we would have had to drive to another town for me to take part in it.  They did attempt it briefly one summer and I became a Webelos for a few months, but it never went anywhere.  I don't think the people trying to organize it really knew what they were doing.  I still have my old handbook, which I read from cover to cover more than once when I was his age.

Not much else going on here lately.  The weather has been nice, and this past week at work wasn't too bad with little rain and cool temperatures.  I got my numbers this past week, and I had 95 errors last year.  I don't have an exact number of total reads, but it's somewhere over 120,000.  My error rate put me at 14th in the department, or about in the middle.  They're going to a different method of ranking next year which considers more things than just errors.  They showed me that if we had been using that method for the past year, I would have been all the way up at #8--in the top 10!  So I'm hoping I can get even fewer errors this year--I already had a much better January than I did last year.  I also had 2 unscheduled absences last year (sick), so this year I'm going to try and schedule a "get well" day ahead of time if I feel myself getting sick.  I have plenty of what they call "personal leave" to use for this.  I get both "personal leave" and "vacation leave," which are two different things.  The vacation time has to be scheduled more in advance than personal time, and I can get paid back for up to 40 hours of unused personal leave at the end of the year if I want (otherwise it rolls over, and I've been rolling it over since I started).

Here's what I've been listening to via YouTube lately.  Arkona is either a folk metal or pagan metal (depending on who you ask) band from Russia, and they sing in Russian, but the music is so cool I don't really care.  The video below is one of their shorter songs and has some good examples of the folk instrumentation they use.  The title translates as "wall on wall," which is what that form of fighting is called, and is apparently a sport, I think.  Their lead singer, who calls herself Masha Scream, is one of the few female metal vocalists who both sings and uses death growls.  I don't think this track has any of her growling in it, though.

Worf, the punching bag

Of course, there was a good reason for this.  As a Klingon, he could take punishment that would kill a human.  So every time they went up against someone with superhuman strength, Worf had to be the one to get beaten up because it would have killed any other of the major cast members (excepting Data/Lore), and ST:TNG pretty much avoided the "red shirt" cliché that so afflicted TOS.*

I didn't mean to have two Worf posts so close together.  It just happened that way.

*I watched that Star Trek reboot recently, expecting to hate it, but I didn't.  I found it entertaining enough that I didn't consider it a waste of time, even though it leaned heavily toward the pastiche.  But the one "red shirt" scene really cracked me up.  As soon as I saw that guy, I told my wife, "He's dead."  "What do you mean?" she said.  "Just wait for it," I said.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I never had noticed this before

Poor Worf, he don't get any respect.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And yet, it moves

Click to enlarge.  I took several photos from my regular cycle 17 the other day, but most of them were for the video I'm planning.  This one is just because it creeps me out.  No one lives here.  The lot doesn't belong to either of the houses on either side of it.  Someone just uses it for storage.  (You can see the meter box at bottom left; except for a bad leak they had a few months ago, it never uses any water).  That statue is never in the same position.  I'm not saying it moves on its own, but...okay, I am.  I'm firmly convinced that this evil thing comes to life at night and roams the neighborhood, probably peering leeringly into children's bedroom windows.  It's evil!  EVIL, I tell you!

I don't like clowns.  Life-sized statues always kind of give me the willies.  A life-sized statue of a clown is just about my worst waking nightmare.  I always have the urge to scale the fence and run toward it with the hammer I have in my toolbox, except that I'm afraid I would make it only halfway across the lot before it turned toward me, eyes blazing and with a hideously friendly smile on it's face, and I would be found screaming senselessly and end up in a padded room on South Presa.

This is in a neighborhood off of Shane Road, not far from the "haunted" tracks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TRAIN 2: The Crossing

I had to do a little audio editing/trickery for this one, which came out quite well and was enjoyable.  I'll have to figure out some excuse to do it more often.

I already have plans for making this a trilogy, but part 3 will be more ambitious.  I plan on filming about 2 minutes of "footage" tomorrow morning, in equipment-mandated 30-second increments, of course.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A video meme I just discovered

Here's a link to a good, and very funny, example.

Total Eclipse of the Heart (literal video version)

There are loads of these on YouTube, to find them just search for "literal video version."  I also watched one there for Aha's "Take On Me."  Boy, I can't wait to see more of these.

The 11 Doctors

Mental Floss has a good article running down the 11 canonical Doctors (Who, that is).

I think they forgot the "trusted companion"

Otherwise, great illustration. Forgot where I found this.  (Technically, the lightsabre isn't "supernatural help," but I guess it would otherwise be hard to illustrate the Force).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another song from my childhood

This is one of those songs that has been lurking around in the backroads of my memory for a long time.  I liked it as a kid, but never knew who sang it or even what it's title was.  Yesterday I was thinking about it again, for some reason, and G00gled some of the lyrics and found it quickly enough.  (Leon Everette, "Hurricane").

But there was another one, a sort of country novelty song, that I've been looking for and can't come up with anything based on the lyrics that I remember.  It's a story about a boy named Leon Rhodes (I think?, maybe Leon Rose?) who played the bugle.  He went to church every Sunday, and the preacher there had an annoying habit of ending all of his sermons with, "Someday Gabriel's gonna blow his horn--I can almost hear him now."  So one Sunday morning Leon decided to play a joke on the preacher.

One day little Leon Rhodes took his beat-up bugle along
Climbed up in that hot church attic and waited for the closing song
Well, Reverend Jones ended his sermon in the same old way
Said a few words about Gabriel, cupped his hand up behind his ear
And he said,
Someday Gabriel's gonna blow his horn, I can almost hear him now...

At this point Leon blows a little tune on his bugle, and "it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop."  So Reverend Jones shakily repeated his thing about Gabriel, and Leon blew the little tune again.  Then it goes something like:

Well, the people didn't waste no time gettin' out of that spooky place
The preacher rushed down from the pulpit with a worried look on his face
About that time little Leon Rhodes decided to save his hide
Took one step, fell down through that ceiling and he landed by the preacher's side

The preacher thinks Leon is Gabriel and he shouts something that I can't remember, and then:

...and he ran out the big front door
Far as I know that man's still runnin'
'Cause he ain't been seen no more

Then it goes on to tell how Leon grew up to be a great bugle player, and the song ends with a trumpet solo on the fade-out.  I'm pretty sure it was a trumpet, not a bugle, based on how I remember it.  Anyway.

If anyone reads this and knows what song I'm talking about, please let me know who sang it and what the title is.

Raze all the buildings and sow the ground with salt

I took these a whole month ago when I was doing a partial route on the other side of highway 281 from my usual cycle 15.  This route sucks.  I had a partial on it again today, but a different part, and I was even more lost today that I was last month.  I mean this route really just blows bloody raw chunks.  I hate this route.  200 meters took me longer to do than my full route on the other side of the highway.

I had intended to take a specific photo of something today, but I got rained on all day so I didn't have my phone on me.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Movie review: Subspecies

I watched this a few days ago.  It had pretty good ratings on Netflix and since I have a penchant for vampire movies, I thought I'd give it a go.

Oh man.  The acting was terrible.  It was made in 1991 but the little imp-things were about as cutting-edge as Jason and the Argonauts.  I realize that the Argonauts' special effects were cutting-edge for 1963, but 27 years later you'd of thought they could have improved slightly.

I had some hopes it would be a pretty good movie, because it was filmed on location in Romania and was produced by a bunch of guys whose last names all ended in "-escu."  The "bad" vampire looked good--I mean, bad, of course--his horrific appearance gave me hope right at the beginning, but when he ripped off his own fingertips and strewed them around so they could transform into those imp-things, I lost hope.  I fell asleep toward the end but I'm pretty sure the good vampire killed the bad vampire.  In any case, by that time I just didn't care.

Also the love interest was kind of creepy because it looked like the girl and the guy (who was the "good" vampire, of course) were brother and sister.  There were some nekkid br34sts, but frankly they weren't impressive enough to make up for the movie.

And now there's, what, five of these movies?  Good grief.  I would recommend dubbing them all onto an 8-hour videocassette and turning it on just as you go to bed.  That way if you're lucky it will all be over with by the time you wake up in the morning.

I can't believe they're just giving this stuff away

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I'm back

Bet you didn't even know I was gone.  My internet went down yesterday and a tech came out today to see what was up.  We figured out that apparently, when the last tech came out here to do an equipment upgrade, he hadn't firmly seated the coax cable into its jack, which resulted in some intermittent problems until yesterday when my daughter must have nudged it with her toe and popped it completely out.  Today's tech dude went ahead and added a few tweaks while he was here, most importantly locking my system onto the antenna with the strongest signal.

I found this article somewhat interesting:  10 Most Bizarre Cargo Spills.  A couple of times I hauled about 33,000 pounds of masa from Laredo up to a restaurant distribution place on the east side, and I bet that would have made an horrific mess if it had spilled.  So now you also have some trivia you'll never need:  the most masa you can pack in a 53-foot trailer is right at 33,000 pounds.

Once I was hauling 26,000 pounds of toilet paper (again, the most you can pack in a 53-foot trailer).  That was the time I got stuck in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Wyoming for 2 days because of a winter storm.  Everyone was sitting there bemoaning getting stuck there (if you're wheels aren't moving, you aren't making money).  I broke in on the CB and said, "Well, I'm hauling 26,000 pounds of toilet paper, so if anybody needs some, it's ten dollars a roll."  I don't know if anyone thought that was funny or not.

Another load with the potential for a big mess that I hauled was 30,000+ pounds of cat litter.  There was another time I had a load of 16,000 pounds of empty cat food cans.  Not a big potential for making a mess there, but it seemed funny to me at the time.  That was my first trip into L.A, actually an industrial subdivision called Vernon, which I learned truckers often refer to as L.A., L.A.

Then there was the time I had a trailer full of Betty Crocker brownie mix.  Cases and cases of it, although I don't recall the weight.  One case got torn during unloading, so they said, "This one's yours."  None of the individual boxes had been damaged--only the big case box itself.  So I brought a whole case of Betty Crocker brownie mix home.  I thought we would never eat all that stuff.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I can't imagine how this would work, nevertheless, I am intrigued

I wasn't motivated enough even to write a weekend update this past week, but I remembered I still have a few work pix that I was saving for a rainy day.  This was taken early in the morning about 3 weeks ago, on my regular cycle 14 on FM78.  I was amused by the sign on the side of the truck.

I had a couple of opportunities for an interesting photo or two today, but unfortunately I had left my phone behind because I was getting rained on.

However I still want to mention something that I just discovered today and which has a website with plenty of pix.  I had been by this place before, but the previous times I had seen it, there were no signs up saying what it was.  It looked to me like a big hole in someone's backyard that had been fenced off to make a mini-park.  I'm talking about the Robber Baron Cave, slap in the middle of a fairly densely-populated area on Nacogdoches not too far south of Loop 410.  If you drive down Nacogdoches and you don't already know it's there, you'll probably never notice it.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Warrior's Way

Watched this movie yesterday.  I enjoyed it a lot and gave it 5 stars on Netflix.

It's about a 19th-century assassin (ninja) named Yang who has sworn to kill all members of an enemy family, which he does until he comes to the last survivor:  a baby girl.  He suddenly changes heart and refuses to kill her, instead taking custody of her and caring for her.  This makes him a renegade and enemy of his own clan.  He tries to escape them by leaving the Orient and coming to the American West.

He goes to the small, crumbling town of Lode, where a friend of his had previously emigrated to.  His friend has since died, so he takes over his friend's business of clothes washing.  The town is almost dead, in the middle of the desert and isolated much like the town of Lago in High Plains Drifter.  Lode is home to a dilapidated amusement park and is populated mostly by carnies and sideshow freaks.  And, like Lago, it is periodically visited by a gang of murderous villains who terrorize the townsfolk.

Also among the townsfolk is a young woman named Lynne whose entire family was murdered by the gang about 10 years previous, and in fact Lynne herself had appeared to be mortally wounded at the time but miraculously recovered and now wants to personally kill the gang's leader, known as "the Colonel," to get her revenge.  Lynne had been given some rudimentary sword training by Yang's old friend and Yang continues some further sword training with her after hearing her story.

Of course the Colonel's gang eventually reappears, leading to a climactic showdown.  However, a large squad of ninjas who have been searching for Yang and the baby girl also appears.  The climactic battle scene is quite the showdown.

Part Kung Fu (the TV series), part True Grit, part High Plains Drifter.  All live-action but combat was definitely imitating anime.  The far backgrounds (horizon, sky) appear to be CGI, giving it a somewhat fantastic feel.  Humor, violence, mercy, revenge, love,'s all in there.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Bob and Ray on "Crooning"

I had downloaded several old "Bob and Ray" radiio shows a few days ago and this clip was part of one show, so I put it on YouTube so I could share it. It struck me as very funny.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

A collection of cool album covers

I do not own all of these, but this is a duo I heard about because of their Lovecraft-themed albums.

Nox Arcana is the duo of Joseph Vargo and William Piotrowsky.  Vargo is also a visual artist and he created all of this cover art.  Vargo was also previously involved with a similar group called Midnight Syndicate.

The music?  Well, Wikipedia calls their music neoclassical ambient.  Most think of it as "dark ambient" or "darkwave."  Instruments used are both electronic and acoustic, with some vocal choirs but almost never any lyrics.

Each of their albums has its own theme, and mostly to sort it out in my own mind, I'll go down the list here.  So this is a list of album titles followed by who/what inspired them.

Darklore Manor (2003) - Inspired by a "haunted house" near Salem, Massachusetts.

Necronomicon (2004) - H.P. Lovecraft.

Winter's Knight (2005) - Gothic Christmas/Solstice music, with some inspiration from Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Transylvania (2005) - Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Carnival of Lost Souls (2006) - Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Blood of Angels (2006) - A collaboration with Michelle Belanger, who sings on all tracks.  This album is the notable exception in having actual "songs" rather than instrumentals.  (There are other lyrical songs throughout the whole collection, but they rare).  Inspired by, and I quote, "ancient Enochian myths to tell a story about mythical Watcher Angels, who 'abandoned Heaven for a taste of mortal love.' According to the Enochian legend, the Watchers (also called Grigori or 'Fallen Angels') are celestial beings who were condemned to the earthly realm after uniting with mortals and sharing with them their mystical secrets."  So there you go.

Blood of the Dragon (2006) - Swords & sorcery tales and Dungeons & Dragons.

Shadow of the Raven (2007) - Edgar Allen Poe.

Grimm Tales (2008) - The Brothers Grimm.

Phantoms of the High Seas (2008) - Pirate lore and stories of ghost ships.

Blackthorn Asylum (2009) - H.P. Lovecraft.

Zombie Influx (2009) - A zombie invasion mixed with faux news reports a la the The War of the Worlds thing.  A collaboration with another musical project called BuzzWorks.

Winter's Eve (2009) - Another Gothic Christmas/Solstice collection.

Theater of Illusion (2010) - "An old theater haunted by a masked magician."

House of Nightmares (2010) - A old (haunted) manor house next to a cemetery.  Another collaboration with BuzzWorks.

The Dark Tower (2011) - Vampires.

Pretty good stuff, if you're into "neoclassical ambient" with a heavy emphasis on minor keys.