Saturday, April 18th, 2015

Phrases about working in the garden that sound normal when My Darling B says them but sound dirty when I say them:

  • pruning the sage
  • plowing the potato bed
  • weeding the patch
  • sowing the sweet peas
  • is that a dibble in your pocket?
is that a dibble in your pocket? | 11:06 am CST
Category: garden, random idiocy, yard work
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Monday, January 19th, 2015

It’s been ten years since Battlestar Galactica was rebooted by the SyFy Network.

Everybody else’s take: Greatest Television Show Ever Broadcast.

My take, staying in the five-word format: Looks great, stupid as hell.

Looks great: Really great, if you get off on space ships, and who doesn’t? Stupid people, that’s who. And also, killer robots! What’s not to like?

Stupid as hell: The killer robots lurch and shamble like old-school zombies which nonetheless manage to sneak up on the humans even though they go whirrr-whirrr, whirrr-whirrr and CLANK! CLANK! CLANK! with every step.

Looks great: I like watching Edward James Olmos do just about anything, and I especially liked the way he growled through his role as Adama.

Stupid as hell: Baltar is crazy. Raves, talks, jumps and squirms because an invisible Cylon is constantly harassing him. I get it that nobody can see the Cylon, but everybody can clearly see that Baltar constantly, relentlessly acts like he’s out of his goddamn mind. The only crazy thing he doesn’t do is foam at the mouth, and yet the other key people in the show listen to him as if he behaved like a wizened sage. Wait, maybe they’re all batshit crazy. I just thought of that.

Looks great: The new fighters look cool!

Stupid as hell: Why are there one-man fighter planes on the Galactica, a ship that must be at least a mile long with enough room inside to carry destroyers, dreadnaughts, cruisers, torpedo boats, anything with more firepower than fighters that carry just two guns!

looks great but | 10:42 am CST
Category: entertainment, play, random idiocy, television, yet another rant
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Saturday, January 17th, 2015

Yesterday, for what I’m pretty sure was the first time ever at the office where I work now, someone stepped up to the middle urinal while I was at the right urinal and someone else was at the left urinal. I’m almost one-hundred percent positive that’s never happened there before. At least, not that I’ve seen. I’ve been working there a little over fourteen months. Maybe the old-timers know different.

This particular building went up in 1964, back when urinals stood four feet tall and were sunk into the floor. More to the point, they were very often planted so close together that, when every one of them was occupied, you rubbed shoulders with the guy beside you. I had to learn early on not to mind getting nudged while peeing. That hardly ever happens in modern buildings, where urinals are spaced far enough apart to put up a steel divider between them.

There’s a gang of three urinals in the men’s room off the elevator lobby, and like the rest of the men on our floor, I’ve always used one of the end urinals. Nobody uses the middle urinal, not even when they go in and find themselves all alone, because what if somebody comes in? And if you go in and find that both end urinals are occupied, you either pass by on your way to the toilets, or you do a one-eighty and go to another floor.

I’m not sure why. My first guess was that most guys think it’s gay, but I’m not sure that figures, when you think about it even a little bit. Most guys stand way too far from the urinal while they’re using it – that’s not my opinion, that’s a fact that a quick scan of the floor will confirm – so I don’t think they’re uncomfortable about putting their junk on public display. But maybe it’s the shoulder-rubbing that they’re uncomfortable with. I’m more than a little uncomfortable with it, to be totally honest. I don’t want to be rubbing shoulders with anyone other than my wife in any situation that isn’t a dire emergency.

My second guess, and this one seems a lot more likely to me, is that the social dynamic of the public bathroom has changed a lot in fifty years. Used to be that guys would gab a lot in the men’s room. Especially so at the urinals, probably because they were packed so close together anyway. If a guy stepped into the vacant spot next to you, he’d say Hi, How Bout Them Packers? Or he’d tell you the latest one he heard about the priest, the rabbi and the pastor, and you’d be expected to tell him the best one you heard that week. Doesn’t happen now. I’m not lamenting it; things change. But you can observe it yourself: Guys don’t talk much in the men’s room any more, least of all at the urinals, where they’re silent as gargoyles. About half of them are plugged into podcasts anyway, so you couldn’t trade jokes with them if you wanted to.

Which is why I was absolutely gobsmacked, and just a little taken aback, frankly, when a guy stepped into the middle urinal yesterday. I almost said something to him. Not about the score of the last Packers game, but something like, Did you even check to see if there’s an open toilet? Because I’m pretty sure he didn’t. And because he had Transgressed the Unwritten Law. It’s not like there are a lot of rules to using the men’s room, but this one has solidified over the years to the point that it’s virtually carved into the tiles above the middle urinal: Thou Shalt Not. Back Away. Do It Now.

And yet, there he was. Guy’s obviously too much of a rebel for unwritten laws. Or he’s from another planet. Didn’t think of that until just now.

middle | 9:49 am CST
Category: coworkers, daily drivel, Farts & Farting, office work, random idiocy, this modern world, work, yet another rant
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Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

They said the days would get longer. Why is it still dark outside? Why aren’t the days getting longer? WHAT THE HELL?

Sorry. I’ve been up half the night. I’ll probably be a little grumpy today.

Also: I’m ready for it to stop raining. It’s been raining since November. I could stand a little less rain.

longer | 5:28 am CST
Category: random idiocy, sleeplessness
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Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

I don’t have an opinion one way or another about the practice of “vaping.” Huff and puff on whatever gets you off, it’s all the same to me. But “vape” is a dumb word. That, I have a definite opinion about. I won’t point at or ridicule you if you vape, but I will chortle and sneer with the utmost derision if you use the word “vape” like it’s a cool thing. It’s not. Come up with a different word. That one stinks.

vape? not! | 8:35 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy | Tags:
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Saturday, August 30th, 2014

I meant to do that …

intention | 9:02 am CST
Category: random idiocy
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Friday, August 8th, 2014

Mom & Pete on the toboggan runFor a couple years, my family lived in Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It snows there fourteen months out of the year, so everybody knew how to catch fish by cutting a hole in the ice, and every family owned at least one toboggan. I just love that word. I could say it all day. Toboggan toboggan toboggan. Toboggan. So much fun.

We had a toboggan. Here’s a photo of it. I believe that’s my brother Pete in front with a great big smile on his face and my mother in back, holding the wings of toboggan in her vise-like grip to keep Pete safely tucked under its curled-back staves.

If memory serves, the photo was taken somewhere near Ishpeming. I think it might have been on a hill where there were several ski jumps. This isn’t one of them. It’s even crazier than a ski jump. That track that the toboggan is running down is a sheet of ice polished smooth by the passage of hundreds of toboggans that went before. There are two wooden rails on either side, as you can see, to keep the toboggan going straight down the hill, and a good thing, too, because the toboggan and all its passengers are going about a hundred twenty miles per hour by the time they get halfway down.

The way this gizmo worked was, you took your toboggan into that little hut in the background and threw it onto a table between a couple of short fences, which you can just barely see outlined against the window in the back of the hut. Then you climbed aboard the toboggan, and once everyone had a death grip on it, a guy in the hut would lift up one end of the table, which tipped over like a teeter-totter until the low end clacked into the groove at the bottom of the open door. The short fences on the table kept your toboggan lined up perfectly with the icy track outside. As the table was now at a thirty-degree angle and there was nothing to hold the toboggan back, it and everyone on board went VOOM! out the door of the hut and screaming down the chute at terrifying speeds.

When you finally came to at stop, somewhere near Wausau, you picked up the toboggan and carried it in-line back to the top of the hill to do it again, cackling with glee.

toboggan | 8:37 pm CST
Category: Mom, O'Folks, Pete, random idiocy, story time
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Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

The Toyota garage we take our car to for service appears to be staffed entirely by children.

The guy who acted like he was in charge had to be in his early to mid twenties. If I had to guess based on the context, I’d peg him at twenty-four. If I had to guess after just a glance at his baby face, though, I’d notch him down to eighteen. Not older than twenty.

The gal at the front desk making appointments and printing up invoices could’ve been sixteen.

No doubt this is a sign of my encroaching decrepitude and old age, and I’ll soon be getting a drink by dunking my face in a great big bowl, then tipping my head back and gulping, slopping water down my neck and all over the floor as I do.

kid world | 9:41 pm CST
Category: Life & Death, random idiocy
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Friday, May 2nd, 2014

All I needed was eight bags of Fritos, the snack-size bags that you can grab off the shelf at the gas station. I thought I could get them at the local Copps store down the corner because it’s just down the road and, well, because it’s a grocery store. Seemed like a no-brainer. But no matter where I looked in the mile-long aisle of snack foods, all I could find were giant-sized bags with enough Fritos in them to feed an entire kindergarten class for a week. I must’ve gone up and down that aisle half a dozen times before I gave up, went to the gas station across the street, and … didn’t find any Fritos. Lots of snack chips, no Fritos. My shopping list was very specific. They had to be Fritos. At the next gas station there were only five bags of Fritos on the shelf. “I need three more of these,” I said to the gal at the checkout. “Any chance you have more in the back?” She went to look, came back empty-handed; no joy. I paid for the five bags and went on. Finally found all the Fritos I needed at the next gas station. and that’s how I spent my evening, grocery shopping at every gas station in Monona.

Fritos | 6:32 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy, story time
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Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Um …

image of handerpants

Damn. Wish I’d thought of that.

handerpants | 6:24 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, April 13th, 2014

We had a visit from the axe murderer the other night. We were both very sure he was there. He creeps into our house every so often with his double-bladed war axe that drips with the blood of his victims, at least one of which he killed just minutes before he broke into our little red house, and he tiptoes across the floor silent as a cat until he bumps into an end table, or knocks a book off a shelf, or steps on that creaky floorboard in front of the closet, waking us up. Then he melts into the shadows and waits for us to fall asleep again, because the axe murderer will kill you only if you fall asleep. If we lie awake and stare at the bedroom doorway, he won’t kill us. It’s a physical law, like gravity.

A couple books fell off the dresser in the guest room and landed face-down on the floor (I discovered the next morning), making a sound like a gunshot that woke me with a jump from deep within a dream. When I realized it was dark I was puzzled, because the first thought that went through my head was that My Darling B must have knocked over a book by her bedside. She’s got a couple dozen going at once, most standing on edge on the floor, and they make that noise when she reaches for them and knocks one or two over. But it was dark, as I said, and she was lying absolutely still beside me, holding her breath, because, you know, the monsters can’t see you if you hold your breath and don’t move. You’re invisible.

I broke the spell by blurting out, “What was that?”

“Did you hear it, too?” she asked.


“That noise. I thought I dreamed it.”

“I thought you knocked over a book.”

“No, I was asleep.”

We laid there a minute or two longer. Neither one of us had mentioned the axe murderer, but we were both waiting for something like the bedroom door to swing shut, revealing his hiding spot and trapping us within what would be known afterwards as The Scene Of The Crime.

“I’m going to see what it was,” I said, and snapped on my bedside light.

I walked all through the house but couldn’t find anything that looked like it had fallen, so I went back to bed without an explanation. That’s bad. If I’d found a book on the floor, never mind how it got there, it would explain the noise. Not finding the book meant the axe murderer was still in the house.

“Find anything?” B asked hopefully.

“Nope, couldn’t find a thing,” I said as nonchalantly as I could. “I’m sure it was just a book falling. Couldn’t have been anything else.” 

But we both knew otherwise, because we both laid there wide-awake for at least an hour, waiting for the axe to fall. When it didn’t, I fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion. B did, too, and I expect she woke up suddenly just as I did when she knew she was asleep. But neither one of us was killed in our sleep, so that meant the axe murderer must have left. He does that, too: Tiptoes out of the house when we ruin his evil plan by waking up and talking out loud.

a visit from the axe murderer | 7:53 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy, sleeplessness, story time
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Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

The Seanster and I were exchanging giddy text messages about the latest movie teaser for the upcoming Godzilla movie. Turns out my phone not only knows how to spell “Godzilla” already, it autofills “Godzilla” after I type the first three letters, because obviously who would ever stop after typing just “God?”

godzilla bless autofill | 6:10 am CST
Category: entertainment, movies, play, random idiocy
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Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

eatthisIf I never see this advertisement again, that’ll be just fine with me. It seems to pop up on every single web site I’ve visited recently, as if I’ve been Googling “gobs of blood-encrusted snot I’d like to swallow.” There’s a part of me that would like to know what the connection is between high blood pressure and dabs of phlegm, but the even larger part of me that never, ever wants to know has so far been victorious in keeping me from clicking on said advertisements. And may it ever continue to do so. The day I start eating scabby mucous to control my blood pressure is the day I start living my worst nightmares.

eat me | 9:41 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, January 27th, 2014

I’m still feeling full after eating out every night but one last week and then getting a belly full of beer at the anniversary party they threw at Central Waters Brewing on Saturday, so I wasn’t going to eat breakfast.

Then I thought, You know, if you don’t eat breakfast, you’ll make it to about ten o’clock and then your stomach’s gonna start growling.

And then I thought, Okay, I’ll have a bowl of oatmeal. That’ll hold me over. Inner Me was satisfied with that idea, so he was hugely disappointed when I couldn’t find the oatmeal. Couldn’t find it anywhere. A whole box of oatmeal. Just bought it on, like, Friday and today it was nowhere to be found!

Keep looking, Inner Me said. There aren’t a lot of places it could be in a tiny kitchen like this.

Well, okay, I said. Got any suggestions?

Check in the cupboard over the clothes dryer where she keeps the table cloths.

Don’t be stupid. Why would she have put it there?

Okay, don’t listen to me. Go hungry. See if I care.

So I checked and, what do you know, that’s where she put it. I’ll have to check that cupboard more often to see what else she’s hiding in there.

Inner Me | 5:50 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, January 26th, 2014

photo booth film stripRemember photo booths? For a buck and a half’s worth of quarters, you could get a snot-covered film strip of photos of all the people you went out drinking with. For me, they were a lot of fun because every strip was a collection of four completely random shots taken at the most awkward moments, no matter how carefully you tried to time them. If you got even one shot that made anybody in the photo look normal, it was just dumb luck.

Also part of the fun was getting as many people into the booth as were willing to crawl on top of one another, then trying to get everyone’s face in one shot. I think the most I’ve ever seen in a single shot was five, maybe six people. Recognizable people. I’ve seen plenty of shots with five faces that were complete enough to recognize, with a nose or an eyeball peeking through a gap, leaving the rest of us to wonder, Hmmm, who was with us that night?

My brother and I used to duck into these things wherever we found them. A lot of the time we went out of our way to find them, like whenever we happened by a forgotten Kresge’s store. You could always find a photo booth somewhere in a Kresge’s or Ben Franklin, almost as if they were required by state law to maintain one somewhere on the premises. The booth was usually somewhere just inside the front door; I always imagined that was for people who had to run out to get a passport or ID photo, but in some stores that apparently didn’t give a rip it was squirreled away in the back where you’d never think of looking for it, like behind the men’s underwear or in the pet supplies.

I’ve used modern photo booths have lots of so-called improvements to them, but the only change I approve of is that the photos don’t come out of the slot covered in what seemed to be dog slobber. Just about every other so-called improvement is a real let-down, as far as I can see.

For a start, I had to stand up in the modern photo booths I used. There was no stool, and furthermore there was no back and no sides to the booth, just a curtain in back. Wrong, WRONG, WRONG! For a proper photo booth experience, it’s got to be a booth with a stool, made with the intention of snapping a photo of a single person. Otherwise, where’s the fun of trying to cram four or five people into it?

The modern booths I’ve used also had a computer screen that let me preview the shot. Again, this completely eliminates an essential element of the photo booth experience: Random, chaotic composition in your photos. A proper photo booth should have a tiny red light that blinks to let you know that it’s about to take a picture, then waits so long to actually snap the shot that you end up with a puzzled look on your face in nearly every photo.

Finally, I liked that the photos had that weird print quality, slightly out of focus and somewhere between black-and-white and sepia toned, although now that Instagram’s so popular, I imagine this has been corrected.

say cheese! | 9:47 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

potted rosemaryAnybody know what the trick to keeping a rosemary plant alive is? If you do, you’d better tell us because we’ve killed every single rosemary plant we’ve ever brought into this house and it’s just going to keep on happening unless something or someone breaks the cycle.

That’s right, every single one. I admit, some have died through sheer neglect. At least one of them never got watered at all that I’m aware of, but most have been watered at least once in their short lives. The one that’s currently on our dining room table, the one that served as our Christmas tree last year, has been watered every day. Didn’t matter. Within a week of arrival it was already dropping needles all over the table and getting a brown in spots, and within two weeks one whole side of it had faded badly. It’s now a zombie rosemary bush, half of it dead, half of it alive. The alive part looks pretty good, but the dead part looks awful.

I read that rosemary doesn’t like wet soil so I was watering it only sparingly but at least once a day. Since that obviously turned out to be bullshit advice, I’ve been watering it morning and night for the last two weeks. I also started “misting” it twice a day, but again that was on advice I read on the internet and that didn’t work last time so I don’t know why I’m trying it again. Desperation, I suppose.

Anyway, if you have any ideas I’d be glad to try just about anything short of cutting my finger and feeding it my own blood.

rosemary time | 5:59 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Brittney: “Do you know Barb Karpowla?”

Me: “Who? I don’t think I’ve met her.”

Brittney [funny look]: “Barb, your wife. Do you carpool?”

Me: “Oh. Yeah. Uh, I thought you were asking about somebody named Barb Karpowla.”

Brittney [laughing]: “I thought you were making fun of me!”

Barb Karpowla | 8:31 pm CST
Category: coworkers, daily drivel, office work, random idiocy, work
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Monday, January 20th, 2014

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but you have to keep your head upright while you’re chewing or food. If you duck your head, or bend over to take the dishes out of the wash machine, bits of food will come out your nose. Or is that just me?

crumbs | 3:54 pm CST
Category: random idiocy
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Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The coffee that comes with the complimentary breakfast at hotels always tastes like boiled cardboard, even when it’s not served in a paper cup. It must have taken years of devoted study to learn how to do that.

cardboard | 6:42 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, January 6th, 2014

How bout this cold weather, hey? Car start all right this morning then? Whoo, I might need a jump! Kay, I got to go, keep warm!

obligatory cold weather reference | 8:42 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Yeah, so … it’s gonna get a little cold.

wind chills

Not sure if that’s tonight, or tomorrow, or when hell freezes over. “Future” is a little vague, don’t you think?

chills | 10:00 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Friday, December 27th, 2013

Tom Bowman reports for NPR that the Marine Corps will delay enforcing the 3-pullup requirement for female recruits, prompting crotchety old coot and misogynistic retired army colonel Robert Maginnis to say the delay shows that women just can’t meet the same standards.

“Young women, in spite of all the training and all the best intentions, are not going to be the equal of young men in terms of upper body strength,” Maginnis says. “You’ve got to have a lot of upper body strength to lift the stuff. Been there, done that.”

Maginnis, author of the not-at-all-wildly-sensationalist book Deadly Consequences: How Cowards are Pushing Women into Combat, has apparently never laid eyes on a real woman and probably needs to get out more.

upper body | 8:37 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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So that you might feel, I don’t know, unclean for the rest of the day, here is a 24-inch long disembodied tongue licking a snail:

Florida Horse Conch

Or, it could be a Florida Horse Conch. You decide.

tongue | 7:45 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Yet more proof that you can’t believe everything you see:

image of faces“The flashed face distortion effect is an optical illusion involving the fast-paced presentation of eye-aligned faces. Faces appear grotesquely transformed whilst one focuses on the cross midway between them. As with many scientific discoveries, the phenomenon was first observed serendipitously … The phenomenon … also represents an example of scientific phenomenology which outstrips (in this case) neurological theory. According to Susanna Martinez-Conde, president of the Neural Correlate Society … ‘We may have theories, but the experiments have not been done, because it’s too early. This is really at the cutting edge.'” – from Wikipedia

funhouse | 6:58 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Recipe for cats: When folding clothes fresh from the dryer, stack them on the table. Within the hour, cats will begin to appear.

spontaneously generated boo | 9:30 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, December 5th, 2013

This is the blog my oldest son would’ve written if there had only been such a thing as blogs back around 1989 or so:

Nanotyrannus was only about a third of the size of the biggest tyrannosaurs, which you might think would preclude it from this list [of the 5 most awful Tyrannosaurs]. The problem with that line of thinking is that a third of huge is still pretty freaking big. Hell, a seventeen foot long Nanotyrannus could probably hide in your garage. Are you going to go to your garage, be ambushed by a Nanotyrannus, and be like, “Oh, this is fine. This tyrannosaur is only seventeen feet long.”

From Dinosaurs!WTF?

dinosaurs!wtf? | 8:24 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Finally, somebody else said it too:

Santa is a douchebag

When I was a kid, I used to watch the old Rankin-Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer same as everybody else without thinking much about it. Then as a grown-up I started showing it to my kids and when we got to the scene where Santa tells Rudolph’s dad how ashamed he ought to be for having such a freak for a son, it dawned on me what a huge asshole they made Santa out to be. I didn’t want my kids watching a show that made Santa look like an asshole. When I explained my objection to My Darling B she saw the light, too, and our kids never saw that cartoon again.

Whenever I tell this story, B likes to add that I ruined one of her favorite childhood cartoons. Shucks, it’s all in a day’s work, ma’am.

rudolph | 5:14 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

worst scooter driver everI would love to know the back story that lead up to the video of a person on a scooter running into two cars, another scooter and a bus before finally plunging into a well or a caisson or a pit of despair. There’s got to be one hell of a good story here. Was he drunk? Was he fleeing the authorities? Was he fleeing an enraged spouse? Or was this what his normal everyday commute looked like, except for the part where he plunged out of sight down a deep hole? There’s a terrific story waiting to be told here, I just know it.

backstory | 8:01 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Fling!I just can’t stop watching this and snorting every time it flings the trash all over the sidewalk. I’ll probably still be here when you wake up tomorrow morning, giggling hysterically.

And, just to put the needed dark spin on it: This is a vision of the robot apocalypse. We won’t be killed off by maleavolent weaponized drones connected through a self-aware artificial intelligence like SkyNet. We’ll be accidently hurled across the street into a brick wall by robots that were supposed to be doing something as innocuously simple as emptying a trash bin.

FLING! | 7:48 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Is it just me, or does the Inada DreamWave massaging chair look like the kind of soul-sucking weaponized Lay-Z-Boy used by the villain of a sci-fi movie to make Our Hero scream like an infant?

massage chair

man-eating chair | 9:01 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, November 28th, 2013

suesslikeI started to type “Why does 68 degrees feel cold in the winter and warm in the summer?” I got only as far as “why does” when the spirit of Dr. Suess furnished me with this page out of Green Eggs and Ham, if Green Eggs and Ham had included a page where Sam-I-Am wanders the aisles of Walgreen’s in search of feminine hygiene products and a do-it-yourself Clairol hair care dye kit.

I continued my search after snapping a screen shot. I found all sorts of explanations. All of them made some kind of sense, and all of them contradicted each other, so I still don’t know why 68 degrees feels colder in the winter than it does in the summer, but I did find out why the house was actually colder today: The thermostat is programmed to let the house cool down to 64 degrees after seven o’clock on weekday mornings, because we’re on our way to work by then. It didn’t know we weren’t at work because today is a holiday.

interrogative | 8:09 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

I’ve been on the road for a couple days in the service of the Great State of Wisconsin, which means that I haven’t had a decent cup of coffee until just this morning. The hotels we stay in on these trips are all the kind that serve a complimentary breakfast of dried cereal or make-your-own waffles, and the coffee they set out for us comes out of a great big stainless steel urn. I was very hopeful the first time I saw that. Although coffee that’s been stewing all morning in a great big urn does not always taste the best, it’s usually strong enough to strip the paint off the sides of a battleship. Alas, chain hotels have apparently figured out how to water down urn coffee so it wouldn’t wake up a light sleeper if you poured the whole thing on his head.

I’m a light sleeper, but I’d like a strong cup of coffee in the morning, preferably two. That’s just not happening, not at the hotel and not anywhere near the hotel. The off-ramp territory where chain hotels are built seems to be the last places on earth where Starbucks fears to tread. I don’t like the coffee Starbucks makes; it all tastes burned to me, but at least it’s strong. I’d trudge a quarter-mile on foot and gratefully slug back a cup of their French Roast if I could just get my hands on one, but no joy.

There’s usually a McDonald’s nearby, but I won’t set food in a McDonald’s again until after the apocalypse.

Which reminds me: Whatever happens, even if the zombie hoards are overrunning the city, do not resort to drinking the stuff that comes out of those toy coffee makers in hotel rooms. Not only is that stuff not coffee, it’s not drinkable. It may even be injurious to human health, but I’m not saying anyone should be forced to drink it just so we can find out.

javaless | 9:40 am CST
Category: coffee, food & drink, random idiocy, travel, work, yet another rant
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Friday, November 15th, 2013

Litton RX hard suitThere’s been a lot of publicity lately for a book I just finished reading, “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo,” and all of it has been along the lines of “From Bras to Space Suits,” or some such nonsense.

It’s a much more fascinating book than all the hype makes it out to be, not least because it brings to light the “hard suits” that were designed to compete with the “soft suit” that was eventually selected by NASA. If there had been just a skosh more room inside the spacecraft, we might have seen Neil Armstrong step out of the lunar lander in a suit that looked like something straight out of The Forever War, or Starship Troopers, Gundam or whatever battle armor-story is most relevant to your generation.

Not that the A7L pressure suit, the one that the moon walkers ended up wearing, wasn’t totally badass in its own right. It had a way of making every one of the astronauts who wore it look like a helmeted gorilla whose superpower was being able to fly spaceships. Now that I think of it, wouldn’t that be pretty awesome?

But the hard suits had it all over the soft suits as far as looks go. The AX-3 was probably the best-looking of all of them, but if I were going to film a cinematic version of Starship Troopers, I’m afraid I might not be able to resist the retro look of the Litton RX-2 hard suit. It was designed to be practical, not photogenic, and yet it managed to be both.

At the Smithsonian:
Ames Research AX-2, 1966/67
AiResearch EX-1A
Litton RX-2A
Litton RX-3, 1966
Litton RX-4, 1967
Litton B-1A

Bugs, Mr. Rico! | 12:39 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, November 14th, 2013

According to today’s puzzling meme, I’m supposed to feel secure in the national sense because of deer hunters:

A blogger added up the deer license sales in just a handful of states and arrived at a striking conclusion:

There were over 600,000 hunters this season in the state of Wisconsin .. Allow me to restate that number: 600,000! Over the last several months, Wisconsin ‘s hunters became the eighth largest army in the world.(That’s more men under arms than in Iran . More than France and Germany combined. ) These men, deployed to the woods of a single American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms, And NO ONE WAS KILLED.

That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of Pennsylvania and Michigan ‘s 700,000 hunters, ALL OF WHOM HAVE RETURNED HOME SAFELY.

Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the fact that the Hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.

And then add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states.
It’s millions more.

The point

America will forever be safe from foreign invasion with that kind of home-grown firepower!

Hunting… it’s not just a way to fill the freezer. It’s a matter of national security.

That’s why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.

Food for thought, when next we consider gun control, whether you agree with it or not.

Overall it’s true, so if we disregard some assumptions that hunters Don’t possess the same skills as soldiers, the question would still remains… What army of 2 million would want to face 30 million, 40 million, or 50 million armed citizens???

For the sake of our freedom, don’t ever allow gun control or confiscation of guns.

I’m supposed to feel safe and secure because hunters who shoot at deer and geese a couple times a year will protect the US from invasion by armies of men and women who have been trained to shoot back with missiles, bombs and bullets from armored vehicles, helicopter gunships and supersonic jet planes. Hmmm.

puzzling memes | 5:40 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

meme01Maybe I’m missing the point of this meme, but to me, your argument is invalid when you start with the premise that North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran are better than the US because they shoot people who cross their borders.

puzzling memes | 6:35 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Sarah Palin? She just stomps around and makes noise. She’s a political Godzilla.
– My Darling B

political Godzilla | 4:59 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks, random idiocy
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Sunday, September 15th, 2013

I’m pretty sure this is the weirdest thing you’ll see all day. Let me know if I’m wrong.

“Provide two (2) forms of identification …” That parenthetical aside has always bugged me. Always. I’ve had a long, weird admiration for legalese since I learned how to write, but the addition of that parenthetical numeral has never made sense to me. If there are people who didn’t understand the sentence with only the number written out, but the light bulb suddenly came on when their eye passed over the numeral, I haven’t met them yet.

Sunday morning brain vomit | 8:31 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Saturday, September 14th, 2013

The song stuck in my head this morning is the saccharin-sweet teen ballad Loving You by Debbie Gibson Minnie Riperton. It’s been playing on a loop for hours. I want to die.

Next-day edit: I eventually got this song out of my head without killing myself, but it came back the next day. Not only that, I had the nagging feeling that I couldn’t blame this song on Debbie Gibson. That bugged me so much I had to ask the Google who sang it. Turns out to be the hit song that crowned the career of Minnie Riperton, a 28-year-old singer who had lapsed into semi-retirement when she was discovered by a recording studio that signed her on to record this and other songs for the record Perfect Angel. So the song that made her a star is the one that makes me want to hang myself. Kinda makes me feel like a grinch.

Wait, it gets better. Three years after she hit it big with that song, she was dead of cancer. And as if that wasn’t enough to make me feel guilty about hating this crappy, crappy song, it’s based on a lullaby she made up to sing her daughter to sleep. There. My total shittiness is now complete.

Kill Me Now | 12:16 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, music, random idiocy
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Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Baby, The Rain Must Fall, the song in which Glenn Yarbrough uses weather as a metaphor to tell his gal why he wants to boink other women, has been playing on a loop in my head ALL FREAKIN’ DAY!

Memory is a cruel thing. In thirty years I probably won’t be able to remember my own damn name, but I’ll bet the nursing home orderlies will all think Baby, The Rain Must Fall is my favorite song, coz why else would I sing the chorus over and over all day long?

this is your brain on drugs | 3:30 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, music, play, random idiocy
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five dollar billAt the grocery store the other day, I walked in just as a guy was backing a shopping cart out of the rack and passing it to his daughter, who appeared to be about five years old. “There you go,” he told her, “get all the germs off.” The little girl obliged by taking a wet wipe from the dispenser at the front door and giving the handle of the cart a few swipes before she lost her hold on it, allowing the wet wipe to fall to the floor. She quickly picked it up and resumed wiping. So, not as germ-free as dad had hoped.

A little later I spotted the same little girl sitting in the fold-out chair of the shopping cart while her dad ordered from the meat counter. The little girl was chewing on the corner of a five-dollar bill. I can only guess that her germ-hating dad had been looking for something that would distract her long enough for him to talk with the butcher, so he gave her a bill that only several thousand other people stuffed in their sweaty hip pockets, slapped on top of sloppy restaurant tables or bars and otherwise fondled with their unwashed hands. The irony was piling up fast.

fiver | 7:28 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy | Tags: ,
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Saturday, August 31st, 2013

How to make a baby…

…the rest of the series at My Modern Met.

how-to | 4:13 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Thursday, August 29th, 2013

thoughtful chin strokeWith a thoughtful chin stroke, I proclaim the following:

All public toilet stalls shall from this day forward be installed with big, red fire bells that shall clang and clang and clang until the users thereof shall flush their dookie, because yuck.

War with Syria. What could go wrong? I mean, seriously, what could possibly go wrong? We send in the carrier group, we release the robot drones, then we rent video of the missile strikes on pay-per-view. What red-blooded American wouldn’t pay to watch that? Socialist ones, that’s who. I say, stop dilly-dallying around and let’s get this party started. I can’t wait to see my children in uniform, parachuting into yet another country that looks like a cat box to save the world for democracy.

State representative Paul Tittl is the most brilliant man alive. Tittl wants to raise the speed limit on Wisconsin’s highways from 65 mph to 70 mph so people can get home faster to spend more time with their families. That would definitely work for someone who was commuting from Milwaukee to Superior, giving them almost a whole 45 minutes to play with the kiddies, while commuters between Milwaukee and Madison will get an unbelievable 9 minutes more. Thanks for pointing that out, representative Tittl! I didn’t pay attention during math class, either!

If I had an articulated glove of stainless steel armor, all I would do is think deep thoughts like these all day, every day. Please send your donations to: Oh God Dave Please Metalically Stroke Your Chin, c/o Harvey the Wonder Hamster, PO Box 07734, Monona WI 53716

thoughtful chin stroke | 7:40 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Maybe I’m missing something …

[Texas] state agencies described resistance from some fertilizer companies in trying to inspect their facilities. The Fire Marshal’s Office has identified 153 facilities in the state that are believed to store ammonium nitrate. Since Texas doesn’t have a state fire code, the fire marshal lacks the authority to conduct inspections if the company resists.

Texas has a fire marshal, but it has no fire code? Pardon me for asking, Texas, but isn’t that like tits on a bull?

code red | 6:12 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, August 26th, 2013

hothothotWell, the temp is already 75 degrees at five o’clock in the morning, so the heat, how hot it is, and sweating like a pig is all anybody will be talking about today …

hothothot | 5:30 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Friday, August 23rd, 2013

While listening to a recording of “Jumpin’ At The Woodside” by Count Basie, I asked My Darling B, “Does this song make you think of a man with a paper bag on his head?”

She looked at me like a puzzled puppy.

“Gene, Gene, dancing machine!” I said, thinking that this would explain things. It did not.

Well, then:

woodchoppers | 9:12 pm CST
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Thursday, July 25th, 2013

lonely cell phonesThese are two of the loneliest cell phones in the world.

Before last night, these cells went everywhere with their owners, but that was before the smart phones came along. Now, they sit untouched on an end table, gathering dust while their owners download apps, tweet and play Angry Birds.

Poor little cell phones.

lonely | 7:56 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Saturday, July 20th, 2013

WASHINGTON D.C. (UPI) – Both houses of Congress worked through an all-night emergency session that began yesterday afternoon to pass sweeping legislation to bar Christians from holding public office, serving in the armed forces, carrying firearms or operating any kind of motor vehicle or aircraft.

The legislation began as a bill introduced only yesterday afternoon in the House by Speaker Eugene Sheisenbach (R-Mich) after considering an e-mail he received only that morning.

“It was a message from a close personal friend,” Sheisenbach said. “I usually don’t open e-mail with a subject of ‘FWD:RE:FWD:SUBJ:FWD: IMPORTANT!!!!!’ but he’s not the kind of guy to send junk mail so I checked it out.”

The e-mail was a link to a video depicting three people discussing the Christian phenomenon known as “the rapture” as they rode in a car. In the video, two of the car’s occupants, both Christians, abruptly disappear, leaving the third in the back seat, evidently a non-Christian, gaping in astonishment.

“When I considered the metaphor of a driverless car as a leaderless America, the implications were staggering,” Sheisenbach said. “Imagine the chaos our country would be plunged into if our president and a majority of congress were to vanish without warning!”

“And that’s only the beginning,” Sheisenbach went on. “How many of our soldiers and sailors might suddenly be called to heaven? What about our police officers? Fire fighters? This is a threat to the safety and security of our country, and we’ve been ignoring it for generations! Global terrorism pales to insignificance in comparison!”

After making his born-again chauffeur pull over and driving his own limousine into town, Sheisenbach began immediately conferring with his colleagues and found that, among those who did not profess to be Christian, few had given the matter more than passing consideration.

“The Christians in the House,” Sheisenbach said, “informed the rest of us that when they are called away, the world would be plunged into such chaos that crashing planes and burning buildings would be the least of our worries.”

“Well, of course it’ll be chaos!” Sheisenbach surmised. “With the police force gutted, the military incapacitated, planes falling out of the sky and cities burning out of control – who wouldn’t call that chaos?”

“It quickly became apparent to all of us that only an entirely secular government would provide for a safe, secure America after the rapture,” Sheisenbach concluded.

“I had to admit he had a good point,” admitted Rep. Rusty P. “Stephen” Wackenhut, the Speaker of the House and a born-again Christian. “Not only that but, thinking it through, it was more than a little irresponsible of me to hold a position of such importance in the House when I couldn’t say I’d be in for work tomorrow. Heck, I could’ve vanished before legislation was enacted without so much as a ‘Gotta go!'”

The sweeping legislation, unanimously approved by all members of the House and again shortly afterward by the Senate, not only barred Christians from any office or job from which their disappearance would endanger others, it went further to forbid anyone but atheists from assuming those positions. “What if we open it up to Muslims or Rastafarians or Scientologists, and then it turns out they’re going to go ‘poof!’ too?” asked Sheisenbach, only a bit rhetorically. “And there were those guys who got swept up by a comet a couple years ago.”

“We weren’t even going to take a chance on agnostics, or anybody else who might go all wishy-washy,” Sheisenbach said. “Who would want anybody but an earth-bound atheist doing their colonoscopy? Just imagine being face-down on the examination table with that sticking out of you and nobody around to remove it. Gives me the willies.”

Yeah, it’s a repost, but it’s one of my favorites. Sue me.

poof | 7:19 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Monday, July 15th, 2013

A fender washer is a circle of steel about the size of a half-dollar with a smallish hole in the middle. I had one in my collection. I needed four, so I pocketed the one as I got ready to jump into the O-mobile to head down the road so I could save big money at the hardware store.

But first, a bit of fun.

“Do you have any of these?” I asked My Darling B, showing her the washer. She frowned at it for a long minute. It almost looked as though she were thinking, Now, darn it, I know I had a bunch of those. Where did I put them?

That’s not what she was thinking, though. What she was thinking was what she said about a minute later: “Um. No? I don’t have any … metal donuts?”

fender | 9:12 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, My Darling B, O'Folks, random idiocy
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Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Who hasn’t needed this guy to save the day at least once in their lives?

Mighty Mouse | 9:05 pm CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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Sunday, July 7th, 2013

If you read nothing else today, you should devote fifteen minutes to Eyeball of Providence unless, providentially, you have an appointment tomorrow with a doctor who will slice your eyeballs open and you’re feeling at all anxious about it.

… if you have to have cataract surgery and have not seen “Un Chien Andalou,” the classic short film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, which famously features the slicing of an eyeball, you might skip it until after the procedure. You might also not like to know that in modern times the idea for intraocular lens implant surgery got going in 1949, when one Sir Harold Ridley observed that Plexiglas fragments from exploded Spitfire canopies had not led to infection or rejection in the injured eyes of Royal Air Force pilots. You might also wish you weren’t reading this. Too late.

One of my instructors in college taught a film class where he showed them “Un Chien Andalou” and said that, even after he told them exactly how the special effect was done, they didn’t want to see it again. I still regret not signing up for that class.

The idea that trained medical specialists can slice open your eyes, then put them back together so they work properly, has fascinated me since my father went to the doctor with cataracts and came back with artificial lenses that had a creepy sparkle when the light hit them just right. I didn’t know until today they were made of Plexiglas. Fascinating!

“Eyeball of Providence,” Daniel Menaker, The New York Times

Plexi | 8:38 am CST
Category: daily drivel, random idiocy
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