Sunday, December 30, 2007

Here Comes 2008 and Some Changes

You might have noticed that I've been monkeying with the Snabulus logo and such. The tinkering will continue until it all looks right with a new look. However, I must admit that a little more than 5 years later I am feeling the ennui (French for boredom) when it comes to blogging.

I am starting to feel more content visiting the folks in the blog roll and making comments than coming up with material here. The funny part is that I am not sure exactly why this should be. Chalk it up to an amalgam of several factors including plain boredom, other goals starting to take precedence, and more complex emanations that would take too long to explain.

To summarize the last 5 years of blogging, there are 3 types of writing which have dominated the site.

  1. The Early Years - Lots of politics and activist writing. These pieces resulted in lots of comments, little in the way of changing minds, but a lot in the way of straining friendships. Interestingly, new readers were not much to be found during this time. My friends span a great number of points of view and while I feel the need to vent publicly sometimes, I try to spend more time pondering the fact that all these folks are bright people and have their reasons for their viewpoint.
  2. The Travel and Living Log Entries - These were the most fun to write and it seemed the most fun to read. The comment count fell a bit, but the feeling of fellowship actually grew as did the number of new readers from outside the pre-Internets Snabby circle. Other family members joined the scene and the satisfaction level was higher for me. These became harder to produce primarily due to two factors. First, we've written about all of our traditional activities already (Oregon Country Fair, Oktoberfest, Verboort Sausage Festival, etc.) and, while we enjoy recreating tradition, we don't see the need to rehash it other than to allow others the chance to share the fun by attending the events themselves. Second, our digital cameras are either deteriorating or lost. We lose that proverbial thousand words for every picture we can't post. We will fix that when we can but, for now, Kaputski!
  3. The "General Entertainment" entries - These entries include the personality quizzes including such gems as: Which cast member from All in the Family are You? What Underarm Deodorant are You? and the always popular Which Serial Murderer are You (ok, these are all fakes, but I wanted to have fun!)? They are great for blogs because they create content when your muse is out back smoking a cigarette and are entertaining to comment about. There was also Kool-Aid blogging, the Snabulus Caption Contest, and other comments on entertainment and pop culture. Some of these were quite popular; others not so much.
While these 3 kinds of blogging have been fun, I feel like those forms have run their course for me. My alternate blogging search has not gone well. MySpace held my attention for about a week and FaceBook for about a day. FaceBook also requires your real name (which I did not give) and they basically collect demographic information which they database and share with their business partners and with other FaceBook users including items you buy offsite (talk about spyware!). No, if I wanted Soviet living, I would have moved there before the walls fell and were then replaced with mob crime. I was hoping other blog software could fill the void of how I wanted to present information, but most are the same as their competitors with only minor difference.

So writing a different kind of blog software might be in my plans. I say "might" because I have a number of other crazy programming ideas I am working on, so this one may get backburnered or not depending on my personal whim. After reading Stephen Colbert's I Am America (and So Can You), I realized that one column writing is not the only method for blogging. Maybe there are other things that can happen like writing smartass comments in the margins so you aren't confusing the reader with parentheses, etc.. So I am going to start looking at how to play with web pages in the same way that Meebo.com can make a web page act as an Instant Messenger to maybe make blogging a bit more free-form. Maybe something will come of it; maybe not. If
my wackiness catches on, I may use Snabulus.com as a delivery vehicle and it will be more of a commercial site (except without the annoying kinds of advertising: I hate that). If that happens, I want to be sure I have a KickAss logo so the experimentation there is likely to continue.

Anyhoo, I am not sure where I wanted to go with this, but I guess the bottom line is that I might be blogging a bit less for a while. Moody, Ladybug, and InfoGeek are sure invited to fill in as desired, but they all have lives (and sometimes other blogs) as well. If my blogging software actually goes anywhere, I may ask for beta-testers. If you want to get burned repeatedly by cranky software, I say GO FOR IT and reply in the affirmative.

Above all, may your 2008 allow you to attain your goals, cope with this tumultuous world and its tempestuous economy. May we all treat each other better and with more respect, try to walk in the shoes of those who are oppressed and less fortunate, and may tenderness and gestures of goodwill triumph over zeal and callousness in the coming year.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ye Old Xmas Tagge-Part Deux!

Now that Snabby & Swinebread have shown their "true colors" for Xmas, I'll do the same!

So to answer Moody's 20 questions:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot Chocolate!
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? Both!
3. Colored or white lights? Colored!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? If I get around to it.....
5. When do you put your decorations up? Anytime between Thanksgiving and Xmas Eve.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Green Bean Salad
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Gee, I don't have a particular one...
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't even remember!
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No. I open most gifts on Christmas Eve.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? With ornaments we've collected over the years, and some hand made ones.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it? Depends, if I don't have to drive in it-great!
12. Can you ice skate? Technically yes, I don't fall down. But have only done it maybe 3-4 times in my life.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Every year I have a favorite gift!
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with friends and family, because that's the only time everybody has off...at the same time!
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Buche de Noel
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Listening to the Cinnamon Bear episodes and fixing all the traditional foods from our various ancestral heritages!
17. What is on top of your tree? The Silver Star!
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? Both!
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls & The Revel's "Lord of the Dance"
20. Do you like candy canes? For looks only, they are highly over-rated as a candy treat.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ye Olde Christmas Tagge

The Moody Minstrel tagged me to answer 20 questions about my Christmas opinions. Here they are:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? No. Wassail.
2. Does Santa wrap the presents or just sit them under the tree? No. See Question 8.
3. Colored or white lights? Both
4. Do you hang mistletoe? If I want to.
5. When do you put your decorations up? All year. We decorate for all seasons.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Ladybug
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Putting up the lights, watching the lights, eating the lights, and the nice nurses working at the hospital on Christmas day (the last 2 are lies)
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? SantaTruth.org or it just got totally obvious...not sure which.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No. I open most gifts on Christmas Eve.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? With my hands.
11. Snow: Love it or hate it?
No
12. Can you ice skate? Can you?
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Yes
14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Trying to spread the word that generosity works better for 12 months than just one and that people suffer in July just as harshly as in December.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Krumkake
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Being with family
17. What is on top of your tree? The entire universe.
18. Which do you like best giving or receiving? I like run-on sentences the best.
19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Not sure, but Dona Nobis Pacem and Silent Night are near the top.
20. Do you like candy canes? For what purpose?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Instant Band, Instant CD

Responding to a tag, Olivia posted an interesting meme on her blog. Basically it involves generating the name of your band, the title of your CD, and the name of all 15 tracks therein using the "random article" feature of Wikipedia. I thought it sounded like fun, so I decided to give it a try.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Moody Minstrel's alter ego band:

George Forell

(Kind of like Jethro Tull, only different.)
Our first LP release is called:

Texas State Highway 320


The track list is as follows:
1 - Endurance
2 - Cec Pepper
3 - Teluk Panglima Garang
4 - Leudelange
5 - The Ship
6 - Persian Dialects
7 - Black and Greene
8 - Drill
9 - Oscar Redding
10 - Western Region, Nigeria
11 - Byavatnet
12 - Yeoman
13 - Terminalia Pellucida
14 - Ministry of Defence
15 - Vom Rath

Hmm...you think any of these titles show any promise?
Okay, what sort of random Wiki bands and CDs can you guys come up with?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Turn that Frown Upside Down

The last post was a quite serious post and the blog could use a bit of counterbalance.

I ain't got much, but here goes...

I wanted to help my dad out today (he is in the last stages of moving), but I had too many things going on and next weekend we are gone camping (in a heated yurt) and the weekend after that we are getting ready for family to converge for our Norwegian Christmas Fest(ivus). Things had to get done this weekend or wait for 2008.

So I did the usual 4 loads of laundry and the MiniSnab and I prepared the Saturn* for Christmas tree retrieval. We went to the Reichen tree farm (no, not the 3rd Reichen) and picked out a nice Noble Fir. Just about every Christmas tree sold in America is native to Oregon (as well as actually grown in Oregon), but I like the Noble. Having said that, we usually change species every year; go figure.

We got out our bargain basement table saw out right as one of the Reichens walked up with a chainsaw. He proceeded to slay me and the MiniSnab to feed to his zombies. He saved us getting muddy and lots of effort by cutting our tree down in about 10 seconds. Nice. He jammed the tree into the Saturn*, we gave him some moolah ($) and headed home.

MiniSnab headed off to a babysitting gig and we had a tree propped up in a bucket of water. We had a problem too...where do we put the tree? At first we were going to dismantle a bookshelf and move a couch, but no, too much. We decided to leave the couch and move Ladybug's computer/office desk (w/ print server and scanner) across the living room instead because it was less wide and deep and allowed us to keep the bookshelf. However, we still had (actually still have) one big problem...horrible 40 year old electrical outlets.

The deal with these outlets is that they can't seem to hold a plug anymore. The little things just fall out. The whole dang house is like this. Well, Snabulus.com is on two of these plugs (yep, a server out of my house) and so Ladybug's puter would be. I had three new outlets in the garage and today some upgrades had to be done. Luckily, my meager electrical knowledge allowed me to change out 3 outlets without tazing myself. Viva la difference! I need to kick the gals out on some Saturday and change them all out. 2008, mon oncle, 2008.

Where was I. Oh yes. Electricity. Powerful good stuff, but it is best that we conserve it. Unfortunately, I loves me some Christmas lights. I enjoy all the ways people come up with ways to celebrate using lights. We are no exception. I put up our outside lights a week or so after Thanksgiving and tonight I put the lights on the tree. Our eclectic nature is evident in our display. We use 5 different styles of lights in our yard and as many on our tree. Old-time big C-9 bulbs, smaller C-7 bulbs, minilights, frosted globes, satin globes, bubbling oil lights.

It all stems from my Dad's Christmas collection. He has a variable transformer he ran at 50-70 volts. This allowed his lights to last decades. His light stings look nothing like current strings. Talk about lights. He still has bulbs in the shape of a Rose and an Orange (always reminded me of football bowls), candy canes, Santa faces and THEY ALL STILL WORK (afaik). For this reason, I like variety.

We also joined some good friends this evening for a Christmas dinner and celebration at the local Mormon Church. While we are firmly on the path to damnation, we sure appreciated the opportunity to spend some time with some great people and hear the local high school choir belt out a few Christmas songs. I think Baby Jesus approves.



More happened that isn't worth going into, but it was a pretty full day and I wasn't apprehended without due cause even once. Hopefully that keeps happening.



* The Saturn was totalled a few months ago and has never been the stellar Saturn vehicle I traded in once upon a time; in short, it is a lemon. It has been totalled in an accident (my first faulted accident in 25+ yrs of driving) and requires a bit of TLC to keep it going. Luckily the tree gathering went without incident.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Democrats, Republicans Merge in One Fascist Party

(Political Post alert! I've tried to avoid it, but I've got a stick in my craw. Feel free to ignore it if you wish. At least the target isn't Bush, only Republicans, or our foreign policy this time.)

I've got a fair number of progressive, liberal opinions and a few conservative ideas as well. When I hear about the bills going through Congress right now, I don't want any part of either party.

I've spent years deriding the Bush Administration and Republicans in general for their post 9-11 feeding frenzy on the Constitution. Now the Democrats are in power and they are joining in on the orgy of Constitutional degradation and this steady accelerated march towards a police state.


Part I - Patriot Act Lite (or Darke as I see it)
H.R. 1955: Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (Passed by the House 404-6)


Sponsored by DEMOCRAT Jane Harman

First of all, I would appreciate it if our government didn't lift words directly off of Nazi Germany's steno pads. Homegrown and Homeland were the types of words coined by Nazis who wanted to define who was "us" (Aryans) and "them" (Jews, Catholics [except the current Pope], Gays, trade unionists, gypsies, etc.).

Let's looks at how a homegrown terrorist is defined...

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

`(4) IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term `ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.


Have you ever thought, "If one more of them Bible thumpers knocks on my door, I am going to kill the whole lot of them."?

You didn't really mean it, but it slipped out and your kid repeats what you said at school. You are a domestic terrorist. Oops. I mean "homegrown" like that skunky marijuana the kid down the street grew in the puckerbrush. Or maybe Homegrown like the nice, blonde folks Riefenstahl filmed in the 30s for the Nazi party. You just don't know how they are going to decide based on such an open-ended definition.

Why is it that a loan agreement is so iron-clad but a damn terrorism definition is so loosy-goosy. It makes me want to just...oh, better not to say anything.

Luckily they are forming a money pit called a Center for Excellence, so we are assured nothing of the kind will come of it. Their dinner parties should be quite the thing, dahling.

Part II - The SAFE Act [Stupid Asinine Fascist Excretia]
Securing Adolescents From Exploitation-Online Act, or SAFE Act
Sponsored by DEMOCRAT Rep. Nicholas Lampson
(Passed by the House 409-2)


Read more about this bill here.

The gist of this bill is that all those who provide public Wi-Fi service must record and keep a log of all Internet traffic indefinitely. The stated reason is fighting those bad, bad child pornographers, but we already know that the bad guys are always a step ahead. Meanwhile, all that data is available for any reason and you can be sure that Wi-Fi providers will sell it to whomever wants to pay cash to recoup their equipment costs. Just like with EZ-Pass toll records on the East Coast, these records can and will be used against regular people in a court of law.

Theoretically, it is only for certain kinds of pictures, but how is Starbucks going to know where all the child porn on the Internet is? Answer: they are not so they must record all of it to avoid the $300,000 fine for non-compliance. Not a single Democrat voted against this.

Seems like a good time for that old Merle Haggard quote:

"Look at the past 25 years we went downhill, and if people don't realize it, they don't have their f**king eyes on ... In 1960, when I came out of prison as an ex-convict, I had more freedom under parolee supervision than there's available to an average citizen in America right now... God almighty, what have we done to each other?"


The Presidential candidate to vote against both pieces of crap was REPUBLICAN Ron Paul. Good for him.

For those who think I am overreacting, why not check out this video at Floating Down Denial. We've seen these tunes played before.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Aftermath

For us there was very little aftermath from the tropical deluge; just a reminder that it is smart to clean the gutters periodically. Our power didn't go out and we weren't forced from our homes. Others weren't so lucky...



Overall, for the vast majority, things could have been much worse. However, several hundred were flooded out of their homes and a few died. This storm has left its mark. Today was actually mild, dry, and fair. The waters should recede quickly and we will move on.

The award for overreaction goes to KOIN tv, who called this the Storm of the Century. They must have a lot of faith in the rest of the century. In 1996, we had this kind of rain off and on for a month and it kept raining after that too. They had to sandbag downtown Portland. The flooding covered the large swaths rather than the usual localized floodplains. This was nothing like that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

From the Phillipines with Love

Update 3:Mon @ 10:32am: Things seem calmer and the sky is getting lighter. There is a lot of standing water and one stream I passed on the way to work is within a couple feet of coming over the bridge. According to the weather service, we've received about 4 inches (10cm) of rain which is a lot, but certainly not unprecedented. Lee's Camp about 40 miles (65km) away received over a foot of rain (30cm) in the last 24 hours (1440min). Now that is wet. The wind wasn't bad here, but it was intense along the coast with gusts in the 125mph range.End of Update 3

Update 2:Mon @ 6am: Now it is storming out there pretty hard. Apparently there are widespread power outages and downed trees along the Coast, so storm 2 is the Real McCoy.End of Update 2

Update: Well, storm 1 of 2 is through and it did some damage on the Oregon coast but not much inland other than plenty o' rain. At 9pm Sunday, storm 2 of 2 is getting close and it is already spicier than storm 1 was (not sure which storm belonged to which typhoon). The temperature is still in the mid-40s (about 7-9 deg Celsius), so the word tropical is a non-starter in this case. In fact, storm 1 dumped a foot or more of snow in the mountains, so it wasn't the Pineapple Express-type storm we were promised. Storm 2 could be another matter. If I have power in the morning, I will post more. End of Update

Once upon a time, there were two typhoons names Mitag and Hagibis that lived in southeast Asia. Here they are:



These storms killed several people in the Phillipines and Viet Nam.

They got bored there and moved eastward across the Pacific Ocean. Even though they hit colder air and colder water, they kept moving. After several days, they moved across the entire Pacific Ocean.

While they aren't nearly as strong now, they are expected to hit Oregon in the next day with a one-two punch the Oregonian calls a monster storm...or at least they did until they backed down. Here is a look at the storms coming in:



Nonetheless, Bill Schneider describes the situation on Stu Tomlinson's Weather Blog (Tomlinson is a long-time writer for the Oregonian):

Bill Schneider, science and operations, NWS explains:

The directive that gave offices the authority to issue a "Hurricane Force Wind Warning" in the marine forecast was issued May 21, 2002. In the five years since then, none has been issued along the West Coast of the lower 48 United States. The purpose here is to highlight the extreme nature of rare storms that may only occur once every 5 to 10 years.

These storms are "extra tropical cyclones", meaning they don't have the structure of a hurricane, and should not be confused with an actual hurricane (we won't give them names or anything like that). Storms like this approaching the West Coast are normally much larger in areal extent than a typical hurricane and have much broader impact zone where damaging winds can occur.

The current threat appears to be mostly to the water and the immediate coastline. We noticed Thursday that moisture from three separate tropical cyclones will likely be drawn into this one large storm over he next several days. This is storm has the potential to damage ships or cargo and will be difficult to avoid due to the huge area it will cover.


So, it looks like the coast is expecting 100+ mph gusts and high sustained winds while the Portland area will get 50+ mpg gusts. We had a storm that bad last year but it only lasted a few hours. This one is supposed to go on for 2 or 3 days and dumpea few inches of rain.

Of course, we were supposed to get some significant snow today and that never materialized. Hard to say. We will let you know later what really happened.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Old School Radio



My mother-in-law gave me an early Christmas present that I find very intriguing. At first, I didn't know what it was, but a closer look at the dials revealed it was an AM/FM radio. However, the style was 1960s, though it showed no signs of wear. Well, it turns out to be a bit of old and new put together.

My mother-in-law won it in a drawing at the local classical music station (KBPS: not to be confused with a PBS blab radio station) and didn't really have a use for it. The radio is a Model 1 from Tivoli Audio and Henry Kloss was a designer of the radio. Who was he? Well, you can read more by clicking his name, but he is considered one of the foremost audio designers of the 20th century.

This radio with a little 3 inch speaker has a very warm sound with crisp highs and surprisingly full lows for a system with no subwoofer and only a solitary speaker. I am quite impressed. Excellent speaker technology could account for the high frequency response, but the low frequency and slight overall reverb appear to be generated by a cylindrical port (hole) in the housing with gathers and amplifies the sound.

I hooked my computer output to the auxiliary input port of the radio, and even low quality MP3s with too much compression sound much better with the one speaker than they normally would with my stereo computer speakers.

Tivoli has stereo, clock-radio, and Sirius satellite radio models available in addition to the simple tabletop model I have. If you are not into the retro look, there are more modern stylings of each model available.

Happy listening.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Cinnamon Bear!



It's that time of year again! Very soon the adventures of Judy, Jimmy, the Crazy Quilt Dragon and the Cinnamon Bear will heard in our household! (here's a link to my original post on the show). If you want a quick synopsis of the show, here's some folks in the UK with one! The most complete site with exhaustive info, and old-timey pictures can be found here. If you want to download the shows for free, (not every radio station plays it...) go to this wonderful site, where you'll find other old radio shows like Hopalong Cassidy, the Aldrich Family and The Whistler; just click on the navigation bar to the left. There's even a local company providing Cinnamon Bear cruises. It's kind of nice that kids get the chance to take their picture with the Cinnamon Bear, just like I did in the early 70's! Now I just gotta find the pictures....

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Getting Your Yearly Arlo


(From Wikipedia)


Well, thanksgiving is here again and one of the things I am thankful for is a tradition at Portland radio station KGON of playing Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant (from album of same name released in 1967) each year. According to my blog post (which, by the way, is the number one Google search if you search for "Alice's Restaurant KGON") from three years ago, the song/story starts at 1 pm Pacific Time. I tried calling KGON on Wednesday, but the office was closed for Thanksgiving.

If you are asleep or miss it at that time, a live version done about 30 years later than the original can be found at Arlo.net. It is different, but still entertaining and it has a few asides which mention more modern events.

If you don't mind registering, you can listen live to KGON here (I DO mind, so I didn't try it).

I am also thankful for all the folks who stop by Snabbytown to read our claptrap. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

THE DOOLEY DEAL

I have been seriously threatening to make this post for some weeks now. I've scanned the pictures of most of the main characters...so here goes!

Now this tale does require quite a bit of back story. My paternal grandmother grew up during the roaring twenties with her mother, aunt and grandmother, (her father having died in 1921 of stomach cancer). Her mother and aunt worked full time to support the four of them, so granma was raised primarily by HER grandmother, who taught her so well she could read by the time she was five, skipped several grades, and graduated high school when she was 16.

They thought that was "too early" to go to college, so she stayed home to work for a year, then went to Marylhurst at the ripe old age of 17 to become a nurse. She often shimmied down the drain pipe to evade bed check, and was generally a hell-raiser. Once she crashed the family car when her mother and aunt were away at the beach (at the time, there was no highway over the Coast Range, so you took the train). Her grandmother took all the money she'd sewn into her petticoats to get the car repaired before they came back.

That also tells alot about the difference between granma's relationship with her mother and her grandmother (my great-great grandmother). She didn't get along so well with her own mother, and absolutely adored her grandmother. See the circa 1939 picture above to see what I mean: My father (born in 1935) is on my great-grandmother's knee, next to her is my granma (her daughter), who is leaning towards her grandmother who raised her, with her arm around her as well.

Both great-grandmother and great-great grandmother were also VERY religious, they went to DAILY mass about 6am every morning, and didn't eat breakfast until they got home! My great-great grandmother even became incensed when she heard about a Nudist Colony opening up on Squaw Mtn, ...about 50+ miles from Portland. Great-great grandmother was so pissed, she said "if those hedonists come walking down the road, I'm going to whip them all back to Squaw Mountain!". I don't think it occurred to her that folks wouldn't be walking down 50 miles of a two-lane highway naked from Estacada (a small redneck town just outside of which is the nudist place), but I digress...

Curiously, after granma left the house, great-grandma proceeded to get married several times, four in fact, all WITHIN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! I call her the "Most Married Catholic Woman in America". Each man was older than her, and each died, leaving her to find another old guy to take care of (my dad's theory, which I put stock in as he was witness to several memorable "exchanges" between his mother and grandmother).

And the four husbands count is not including the infamous "Mr. Dooley". Great-grandmother lived in his house as his live-in "housekeeper". Obviously, there was something wrong with his acceptability into the Catholic Church; so he was either divorced, unwilling to convert, or perhaps had more charm than his predecessors.

My grandfather (picture right) died of a massive heart attack 1953, when my dad was 18, and his brother was just 6 years old. He was in his early 40's.... Dad had to come home from Notre Dame and go to work to help out the family. He managed to graduate from the University of Portland many years later...

Now a couple years later in the 50's and granma is going out with a nice man, who happens to have a wife back in Hawaii, but they don't get along and are separated, (but NOT divorced). He also happened to be the Mayor of Rockaway (a tiny coastal town), so the whole family got to go on extended vacations at the beach while granma dated this "beau". Rockaway is still one of my dad's favorite places on the coast!

Now this whole situation didn't sit well with great-grandmother, and of course she thought it was her "duty" to straighten her daughter out. So she called on the phone to give her a piece of her mind...granma was having none of it. She yelled right back at her mother, "AT LEAST IT'S NOT A DOOLEY DEAL!!" and hung up the phone.

Now I must say my granma did finally find love again and married David Garman (who I knew as my grampa). She'd had a stroke and was partially paralyzed on her left side, but she was the best granma ever. She was always laughing, and enthusiastic about what we were doing. She had a twinkle in her eye, and left the extreme religiousity in her past as well. Here's a pic from when I knew "grampa & grandma" - don't you love the 70's style kitchen?


Love to you Dave & Dorothy Garman!
(sorry about the blurry image, there was some kind of red ink on the photo)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Amateur Jet-setting

I know some business people travel all the time, but I thought I'd write about my week all the same.

My travels took me from Portland to Denver (stopover) to Boston to Trenton to Philly to Chicago (stopover) and back to Portland. I spent two days training on a new product at a logistics company in Boston, then headed back to my own corporate HQ in Philly for meetings and general work. The work stuff is boring and also not something I want to mix in to the Snabulus Experience (that's right; we have to spin our image even here). They say that getting there is half the fun and Being There is a Peter Sellers movie and that those kinds of things are game for this blog.

I won't say much about security since the government values their secrecy no matter how vulnerable it leaves us and I respect that. I will say that it is much less of a bother than it once was and that the people working it aren't as uptight as they once were. Kudos on those things. I also realized that a palm-top computer that is as powerful as a laptop is still not a laptop, so I quit taking it out separately and nobody seems to care. Kudos again! My Darth Vader anti-snoring machine (the CPAP) still requires special attention.

The carrier for most of this trip was United Airlines. They love to fly and it shows...loving the customer? Not so much. We already had an experience earlier where we showed up first, got sent to a gate that changed being told our seat would be assigned there, then they tried to bump us from the flight even though we checked in at the beginning.

My luck was much better this time around as all seats were assigned in advance. However, the leg room for anyone over 6 feet tall is marginal to say the least. When people lean back, I usually need to move my knees to each side of the seat. This trip was no exception and I almost always sit behind a "recliner." The good news is that I have no complaints about airline food because, even on a 4.5 hour flight in the middle of a meal time, they don't give you any. Luckily, I knew that in advance.

The weather was generally cooperative for the whole trip with some rain here and there. There was nothing exceptional about my time in Boston geographically as we travelled mainly on Interstates and Turnpikes into a suburban business park that looked nearly identical to those in every other major city in America.

My only constant criticism of the East Coast is their idiotic toll road system. With a couple very minor exceptions, we budget for our highways ahead of time in the West with fewer people and more miles to pave. There is no damned excuse for this system which burns extra gasoline by making people stop and go, and turns taxation into a convoluted, high-overhead mess. More Spirit of 1776 and less Spirit of Union 76 please. Sigh.

I was able to hook up with Ladybug's sister and meet some relatives nearby. They have a nice place with good kids, good critters, and they served up some nice steaks with butternut squash, taters, salad, and some red wine. The company was exquisite as well (I hope they are blushing with a bit of pride if they read this).

The trip from Boston to Trenton set a record for me. The Beechcraft 1900B is officially the smallest commercial plane I've passenged (is that a word?). It appeared to have 18 seats, my 6 feet 2.5 inch frame crouched walking down the fuselage and every seat is both an aisle and a window seat (1 on each side per row). Being a small craft, the cockpit was open and the actions of the pilots were in plain (no pun intended) view. No flight attendants or potty room on this flight, but we only flew for about 70 minutes air time, so no big deal.

Normally on a passenger jet, turbulence manifests itself as vibrations and bumps shaking the plane. On the little Beechcraft, the whole plane would squirrel around. While we only had a couple minutes of turbulence, it was enough to alarm the lady behind me. She calmed down soon enough though. The other fun part of the trip was watching the approach and landing through the front cockpit window. In addition to seeing the runway (if you are tall enough to crane the head as I was), you can also hear an automated voice giving adjustment advice for the landing. A computerized female voice said, "Right. Right. Right." as we were about to land. You could feel the pilot make a very gentle shift in trajectory to the right. It might be old hat to Pandabonium, but this non-pilot was quite entertained by the whole flight.

I've been to the Philly suburbs several times, so there is little new to tell. If you like crab, clams, oysters, and mussels and don't mind a loud crowd, Chickie and Pete's is a nice destination. I've had my cheesesteak and my advice to Philadelphians is to keep your civic pride in the Benjamin Franklin, Constitutional Congress area because your "cuisine" is easily replicable and most places have better fare. Yo, just sayin'. No big whoop, youse.

The nicest part of my travels is seeing my home state from the air. Seeing the arid lands of Eastern Oregon transition into forests and finally to look upon the snowy flanks of our stratovolcanoes says, "Welcome Home!" in the loudest, yet most comforting voice I can describe. Disembarking onto the jetway brings a scent of ocean and wet moss that my olfactory organs have not experienced elsewhere (I've not flown into Seattle or Vancouver BC yet). Travel weariness gives way to a gladness that home and family are but a short ride or drive away.

Ladybug and Minibean surprised me by cleaning the house up and making me feel as if all was in order. I brought them some tourist booty from my travels in return. Now, I must climb back into my normal routine and start the propellers of my life at home. Contact!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

NWMBC & Verboort Update!

Ok guys, lots has happened this weekend!

***See the Update..to the Update below! (I forgot to mention the 2007 theme was "Good & Evil"...with the Beaniac one of the "Evil" minions!***

First of all, Beaniac's school team took 3rd in the preliminaries, and went on to take 6th overall in the finals (2nd in their class). This was out of 36 bands, of which only 12 moved onto the finals. Yea! They did better than they had in several years...I couldn't find this year's performance, but here's one from 2006 (they have the same uniforms for the band, but different ones for the Color Guard).




As for Verboort...it was a little different, I managed to be first in line again, but barely. In fact, I had such a late start that I was sure I wasn't going to be first...barely arrived before a couple from Pendleton! I got some free sausage, and did another interview for the local girl who's been doing a yearly documentary on the Festival for a couple years now.

The Salsa Garden folks were there, and Snabby showed up a bit later, much the worse for wear after tripping over the curb while helping Beaniac load her flags. It was a good thing too, as I started feeling pretty poorly myself, and ended up throwing up behind the big smokehouse! I left about 1/2 hour before they started selling, so Snabby got the sausage & kraut (with help from the lady from Pendleton-Thank you!). That also put an end to our plan to maybe head out to Corvallis to see the NWMBC finals.

We can look forward to Winterguard though, and that's more fun, since it's just the Flag teams and you don't freeze to death outside in the stands!

UPDATE..for the UPDATE!

Here is a video of the 2007 performance during the 1st competition of the season. I actually saw this performance, and I loved it. Well, you can't help but think everything your own kid does is the best! Anyhoo, although it's a bit rough, (sorry Moody, I'm sure you'll spot all the musical flaws..), they did a much improved version a month later for NWMBC...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Verboort Sausage & Kraut Time Again!


Hey ya'll , it's that time again folks! Where the "crazy lady" gets up somewhere around 3am to drive out deep in the county in search of homemade sausage, kraut and camaraderie! The pic here is some generic folks in line, but gives you a good idea of how many people hang out and wait in the dark for this event! Now if you have the time, the title bar link takes you to an old post of mine for more info...and if you like to read alot!

This year is also complicated by the fact our daughter's final event for Color Guard are the North West Marching Band Championships at OSU on the same day, in a town far far away! Here's a MAP to show you how far away it is! We live on Hwy 26 closer into Portland...of course all you local "Snabolians" already have an idea of our conundrum! We may have bag the NWMBC (she's riding the bus w/the rest of the band anyhoo) and it costs $15 per person just to get in! Verboort is closer and will feed us for months to come....

Now we gotta see if we can beg, borrow or steal some pics from the kid's performance....goll darn, the thought of the Gravenstein applesause that comes w/the dinner is making my mouth water again! (It's homemade too!)

Which reminds me I need to kick myself in the behind and start canning applesauce in the Fall again. Can't stand the stuff in the stores! Then all I need to do is make me some pie, and old-fashioned coleslaw...I'll have the dinner down!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hell, A Happy Weenie

Oops! I mean Happy Halloween!



Check out more Geek-O-Lanterns here (courtesy of Wired magazine)

Have fun and watch out for all those hard-to-see trick-or-treaters when you are out driving tonight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DewKid Lives Near Mordor

DewKid has some pictures of the smoke from the wildfires in California.

Scary stuff. I hope they get it under control and soon.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Halloween


Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, probably because it's so spontaneous! There is no "official" day off and no governmental recognition. In spite of this, it has been celebrated in the US for more than 100 years!

Mostly it's a completely secular celebration, although some for some Pagans & Wiccans it's a major holiday, Samhain. The fundies either ignore it, campaign against it, or celebrate alternatively with a generic "Harvest Festival" (isn't that Oktoberfest? tee hee..) or construct Hell Houses.

In any case, I find it's alot of fun for kids, and now, for adults as well. It's an excuse to be a little bit crazy and weird, spend a few hours indulging in candy, and maybe even having a costume party!

So tell me your favorite Halloween story, and don't leave anything out!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New Show: Pushing up Daisies

Pushing Up Daisies = (Narrator from Series of Unfortunate Events) + (Narration style of Amelie) + (60s retro theme of Edward Scissorhands) + (Quirky character types of Ugly Betty or My Name is Earl)

There were some other references in there too. In fact, they may have borrowed the entire pilot episode from other places for all I know. It is a pretty good show, but I am not sure I will keep watching it. In the age of torture being described with pleasant euphemisms, I am not sure another show about moral ambiguity is what I need. The premise is that the main character can touch a dead person/animal/whatever and bring it back to life, but if he touches them again they die. The twist is that if they stay alive for more than one minute, somebody else must die. You can imagine the dilemmas that would come up.

Check out IMDB for more details.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Don't Taser Me, Either, Bro!

In Florida you can be tasered for asking questions at a public forum.

In Portland, Oregon, on the other hand, you can be tasered for videotaping police conducting an illegal search on your neighbor's property.


Good thing it isn't Myanmar. Police shoot people for videotaping things there:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ma (or someone's Pa)

My mom would have been 73 years old today. She had lung cancer and died at 69 instead. The easy thing is to say she shouldn't have smoked, but that doesn't explain how George Burns lived until 100+ smoking cigars or why my grandfather lived into his 90s after being exposed to asbestos particles for years and years.

The fact of the matter is that we lost her before we wanted to and the particulars along with their moral/rational sense of superiority was irrelevant; to say the least. That fact was driven home this last week as my good friend's father passed away from the same ailment. Just as my mother volunteered to help many who needed it, this father built a business that provided for his wife and sons and many others. If he or my mom had been struck down in any of a hundred other ways, the pain and remembrance would not change.

My dad called me today to recall the memory of my Mom. There are few of us who become Desmond Tutus or Lance Armstrongs or others who are quoted for years to come, but for most of us, a more modest legacy remains. My mom or my friend's dad may not be published in every major newspaper, but they sure touched many lives and left a good mark in this world. They are worth remembering and worth grieving even years later.

In time, sadness gives way to a life that goes on with the capacity for happiness, but every passing life leaves a mark that changes us forever. For me, it is a pang that subsides, but for my friend, the wound is fresh and it cannot be salved in a day or a week. It seems of no consolation when pain is ripe and bare and present to know that things will get better...but in the back of the mind, this knowledge is the microscopic seed of later healing.

I've lost several loved ones over the last decade, but those words I have been most comforted by were the ones who acknowledged my pain by admitting their own and oddly, flowers. Before I really got hit with pain, I always thought flowers would be a nuisance. When the day came when I thought there was little life left in this dark, grey world, all the flowers that people sent us were proof against the darkness. Every pot and vase was a message from somebody saying, "We love you. We sense your pain. We wish you well." While it couldn't stem the feeling of loss, these tokens built a bridge back to the idea that things could get better.

And indeed they have. Goodbye Mom. Goodbye, Mr. Grant. We will heal from our pain, but we will remember your lives.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Politics and Grammar

Language and government often make a very sensitive mix. After all, within our own lifetime we have seen plenty of political interference in the way people communicate. In the U.S.A. what qualifies as "appropriate language" as well as the level of restriction put on words that fall afoul of that standard can be viewed as a barometer of which way the conservative - liberal balance is tipping. Elsewhere in the world we have seen provinces and even whole nations try to impose linguistic restrictions in an attempt to preserve the "integrity" of their native tongue. Such laws, often very appropriately referred to as "language fascism", tend to be absurd at best and hypocritical at worst.

Well, now Brazil has gone and taken the proverbial cake. In a bizarre twist one would expect to find in The Onion rather than Bloomberg, the governor of the Federal District (i.e. the capital city of Brasilia) has officially banned a verb form, specifically the present participle, from government use. (Sitting here typing, it is occurring to me that some of you may not be recalling what a present participle is. Broadly speaking, being the nice guy that I am, amusing though it may be, I'm providing a telling link here.) To quote him:

``The present participle is hereby fired from all federal district entities,'' the governor wrote in a decree posted on the government's Web site last night. ``As of today, it is forbidden as an excuse for INEFFICIENCY.''

Apparently politicians in Brazil are notorious for linking endless participle phrases in government documents as a way of hiding what it is they truly want to say. It is effectively grammatical double-speak, or grammatical camouflage. It also leads to pages and pages of unnecessary discourse. Therefore, to increase efficiency and reduce costs, the governor wants to do away with the abused grammar form.

Now, that's really looking out for the public interest! After all, clearly another potential fringe benefit of the ban is increased academic performance in Brazilian schools (Wow! That's a lot of schools!)(WHAP) since it means one less complicated grammar rule for kids to worry about. Maybe the U.S. should take a lesson from this!

Speaking of which, if you had the authority to do so, which grammar rule would you ban? As for me, I think I would get rid of particle phrases (not to mention rhetorical parentheses).

Monday, October 08, 2007

Changes at my Alma Mater

I graduated from Western Oregon State College in 1987. My how things have changed...but first a little background.

My dad is moving and, in the process, is going through decades of family history. Among the items we ran across was the rate schedule for the 85-86 school year. I was curious, so I did a bit of checking things out.

First of all, it is no longer Western Oregon State College. It is Western Oregon University. The name distinction is important as it signifies that the school now offers graduate degree programs. However, not just the name has changed.

For the 1985-86 school year, yearly tuition for in-state students was $1,428. Now it is $5,763. Out-of-state fees rose at a slightly greater pace. Dorm living went from $2,307 then to $7,380 in 2007. Books rose from about $600 to around $1,125 (book prices vary due to a number of factors). Interesting, but then price increases are expected in our market economy.

What is more interesting is the rate of increase. The consumer price index from 1985 to 2007 rose by a factor of 1.92. In other words, a one dollar item in 1985 costs roughly $1.92 now. If you go back and do the math on the increases from the previous paragraph, you will see that tuition has gone up 4.04 times for in-state and 4.36 times higher for out-of-state students. The cost of living in the dorms is 3.20 times higher. Books are roughly the same as the CPI increase.

As you can see, the rate of increase for tuition is twice as much as for the American market as a whole. This puts a great deal of strain on working families who want their children to do better than their parents did financially. Indeed, some will be closed out of higher education altogether thanks to this inflation of college pricing. I know it is out of fashion in the age of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to say this, but the stark fact is that racial minorities will suffer more than the white majority from this (other than the tiny percentage who ride the athletics gravy train). However, this increase is enough to harm everyone to some degree.


In fact, according to the Oregonian, the big drive for colleges falling on tough times is to recruit from other countries; especially China. Western Oregon University is held up in this article as a model for just that reason.

The Chinese subsidize their students' American education as do many countries, which puts American students at an unfair disadvantage. However, this unfairness is self-inflicted. Our knee-jerk reactions against taxation harm our own competitiveness in a world market where other people aren't so quick to shoot themselves in the foot. However, we would rather build bridges to nowhere, expensive cold war weapons, and other pork barrel projects than invest in our own people to compete in an increasingly difficult marketplace.

Why do we do this to our own children? Out of my current group of friends, I can't think of one who hasn't benefited greatly from public money, whether through state-supported colleges or through GI pay in the National Guard or standard military and maybe other ways I am not aware of. We've received more free wampum then we are willing to admit to. However, our children will not be so lucky. They will face expensive colleges and a military where clever bean counters try to finesse them out of their benefits or make them wait for medical care which is often substandard.

These are the same children and grandchildren we hope will forgive us leaving them less than we got. Not cool.

John Cougar Mellencamp: Jena



The struggle for equal protection under the law continues...

UPDATE: The link died, but you can go to Mellencamp's web site to see it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

An Oldie but Goodie



Title Bar link takes you to my Butternut Squash recipe - I'll be making it for the Halloween party we're having this year... it's Um-um good! It also tastes better if you make it a day ahead to let the flavors blend. I'll be serving it along with some Baguette crostini, Chicken Apple Walnut Salad (1st recipe) and Pumpkin Spice Cake (see below-it's not like the one in the picture though! Our scanner isn't working...)

2 pkgs spice cake mix
6 eggs
1 can (16 oz) pumpkin
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups vanilla vanilla baking chips
2 cans (16 oz) vanilla frosting (or make your own)
Red, Yellow & Green food coloring paste
textured paper towel
2 pastry bags & pastry tips #5 round & #352 leaf
1 cup flaked coconut (optional)

In a mixing bowl combine cake mixes, eggs, pumpkin, milk and oil. Beat on low 30 seconds, medium for 2 minutes. Stir in chips. Fill 1 greased muffin cup 2/3 full. Pour remaining batter into two greased and floured 12 cup fluted tube pans. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes for cupcake, 40-45 minutes for cakes. Cool in pans COMPLETELY, then remove.

Level bottom of each cake, spread one cake bottom with frosting, put cake bottoms together to form a pumpkin. Tint about 3/4 of remaining frosting orange (combining Red & yellow), tint the final remainder green. Place cupcake upside down in the center of cake to make a stem, frost with green frosting. Frost the cake with the orange frosting. Let stand, until frosting is slightly stiff, about 30 minutes. Press paper towel lightly into surface to texturize.

Use green frosting and round pastry tip to pipe curly vines from pumpkin stem and base. Use second bag and leaf pastry tip, and holding back at 45 degree angle, pipe leaves randomly along vines.

Color coconut with green food coloring and sprinkle around base of cake.

Notes:
1. I recommend food paste as using regular food coloring gives only a pastel color, not the deep rich green/orange that you want.
2. Making your own frosting is a bit better, the canned kind never quite hardens up.
3. You can skip the whole coconut step, it does look nice, but isn't necessary.
4. If you want lower calories, use applesauce to replace the oil.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Faster than a...speeding mountain bike!

This video shows a very fast mountain bike run. The good news is he set the world record. The bad news is that this video montage shows everything in video bites without showing the whole thing. Hopefully more will come out later. I was going to show you another mountain bike speed video that ended in the bike disintegrating, but the injuries sustained were a bit much for a family site like this. Well, okay, a somewhat family site. You can search "mountain bike speed" at YouTube if you want to see it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

Oo, Gross!



Saw this on my Dad's truck. Liked it.

I was preparing a post on the Media's Flying Circus regarding Ahmadinejad, but I realized that our House of Pravdas news sources we're going to cherry pick the propaganda and leave us with polarized debates on irrelevant talking points. I can sum it up accurately and succinctly by saying, "A guy talked at a college." All else was posturing on all sides.

Oo, gross.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Don't Tase America, Bro

This certainly hasn't been a slow news week. While CNN, Fox, and the local news (all of which are shown on the telescreens at my workout facility) are all showing Britney Spears and OJ Simpson news, they do occasionally break away for 10 to 30 seconds at a time to cover (sandwich in) the following REAL news events happening this week:

Civil Rights March in Jena

From Reuters:


Civil rights protesters converge on Jena

JENA, Louisiana (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of black Americans descended on a small town in central Louisiana on Thursday to protest what they say is injustice against six black teen-agers charged over a high school fight.

Protesters arrived in buses and cars from cities as far away and apart as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New Orleans for a rally in support of the "Jena 6."

The case has become a symbol for many blacks of a wider struggle against racism and perceived discrimination against black males by the criminal justice system.



From Southern Studies blog


Why the 'progressive' blogosphere silence about the Jena 6?

As we reported earlier today, thousands of people -- with African-American youth being the largest contingent, say our sources on the scene -- have descended on Jena, Louisiana for a historic march in support of the Jena 6.

The Jena 6 has become the main topic of discussion on countless black websites, radio stations and street conversations, inspiring countless activists young and old to take action.

But on this historic day for the most high-profile civil rights issue of the moment, where is the progressive blogosphere? I did a quick tour of the major "progressive" sites to see how they were covering it -- and was astounded to find a complete white-out of this historic cause


This is not surprising to me. Everyone from TV to blogs likes taking potshots at Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and it doesn't surprise me that cable TV focuses more on their personalities than the fact that a death threat in the form of a noose isn't punished and a schoolyard fight turns into a 20 year (each) prison sentence for 6 young men.

Confirmed racists like David Duke and Mark Fuhrman are getting on TV as proponents of "family values" while Republican moderates try to counsel me about how all of this is flotsam from the past and why should I dredge it up? Well, thanks to a number of factors, racism against Blacks is back in full force. Way to go, America.


Kerry Tasers Free Speech



Isis at Floating Down Denial pointed this out a couple days ago along with making a very good point (he also has the more common, better quality video of the incident). Why were young Democrats, supposed champions of the Constitution and civil rights, applauding the police for tackling and using a taser on a high-spirited student journalist who asked uncomfortable questions that I would like the answer to? The student was unarmed and was waiting for Kerry to answer his question.

The ensuing silence among candidates and partisans is a telling sign that Democrats appear to be gearing up for a transition of Bush's extraordinary and illegal escalation of executive power so they can take a turn at fascism themselves. Regardless of what Jon Stewart says, this is a case of authoritarian overreaction that should never have happened. The fact that people like Stewart and several liberal bloggers are willing to equate being loud-mouthed with police brutality as essentially cancelling either out shows that this "side" has a problem with moral porportion. I've never been tasered, but I've never heard anyone describe it as "no big deal." It is a form of social sadism that people aren't more outraged about this.

Senate Condemns Free Speech

I remember when it was okay to run an ad in the New York Times without getting condemned by Congress. I could see it if someone denied the holocaust or advocated the death of world leaders (yeah, I am talking to you Robertson) or child pornography, but those kinds of trifles go unpunished. However, accuse the PR leader of the military, General David Petraeus, of deliberately misleading the public about the level of unrest and chaos in Iraq, well then you even get the Democrats breathing down your neck. MoveOn.org did just such a thing this last week and the Senate did their part as well.

Why would so many Democrats join Republicans in condemning this fairly innocuous ad? Could it be for Power? For Next Year? Maybe.

By the way, the ad is spot on. It is our government who refuses to live in reality.

Don't tase me, Bro.

This phrase spoken by Andrew Mayer as his right to free speech was tackled to the ground at the Kerry speech has already caught on. Both left and right wing outlets already have products out with this phrase on it. Before the pop culturists turn this into another form of entertainment, maybe we need to stop and think about whether our need to laugh should come at the expense of fighting for equality and our freedom or waiting to see how much more ethnic cleansing, disease, and death we will tolerate in Iraq under the glare of our eagle.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arrrrgh

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Liberals and Conservatives Really Do Think Differently!

It apparently isn't just the politics.

The linked LA Times article tells of an interesting experiment conducted by scientists at New York University and UCLA. College students that were known to be either frothily left-wing or frothily right-wing were asked to take a stimulus-response test which was designed to lull the examinee into a conditioned response.

The result?

The conservatives processed the information more quickly and responded faster.
However, the liberals made far fewer mistakes.

Even more interesting was the brain scans of the participants. The liberals actually showed far more activity in the areas of the brain related to conflict and problem solving than the conservatives. This meant that the liberals were far more prepared to adapt to the situation at hand and deal with it appropriately. The conservatives, on the other hand, quickly formulated a fixed response pattern and more or less stuck to it even if it caused them to make more mistakes.

Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A look at 6 years ago in comics

After it happened, the news seemed to be everywhere.


Ruben Bolling


Nobody was quite sure what to say.

Jim Siergey


For a short time, there was hope that we would pull together.

Tim Eagan


But we didn't for long.

Lalo Alcaraz


Soon, violent rhetoric ruled the day.

Matt Wuerker


The next thing we knew, we were being sold a war in Iraq.

Andy Singer


However, the war didn't turn out as the planners hoped.

Joe Sharpnack



The cartoons were shamelessly photographed from a book called "Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoons" (2002) edited by Ted Rall. Rall is an accomplished cartoonist himself. Attitude 2 and Attitude 3 are now available as well.

The authors are captioned below their comic with a link to their respective websites. Check out their stuff! Click the pictures to get a closer look.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Statement seems to have Lost its Meaning

It'll be a cold day in Hell before I...

Yeah, maybe when Hell freezes over...

Well, it turns out that Hell is just east of Trondheim, Norway. Not very hot at all really.


View Larger Map

Now, the train to Hell fills up pretty fast, but you can get a one way ticket to Hell if you are quick enough.



If this post bores you, you can go to Hell.
(and go skiing)

Only the Shadow Knows



This grainy picture was taken by Minibean's low-end digital camera about 4 hours ago. I woke up the family at just before 3am to view a lunar eclipse. If you saw my solar eclipse post a couple of items down, you will notice that Pandabonium and Maximilian Strange mentioned this lunar eclipse was imminent in the comments. We were lucky enough to have clear skies and it made for a cool, crisp look at the moon with temps down in the 50s F(about 12 C or so). Autumn is in the air!

I stayed up until the moon was a dark red, then I went off to bed (I DO have to work at 7am you know). I'm sure NASA and a few other places probably had better pictures, but I like Minibean's record of the event anyhow!

UPDATE: Here is a slightly better photo of the event.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jim Bouton Brings Back 80s-style Baseball



1880s, that is. Jim Bouton pitched for the Portland Mavericks Single A baseball team in the 1970s after a major league career that began in 1962. He wrote a tell-all book, Ball Four, that pissed a lot of people off, but the sport eventually forgave him.

Ye old ball game
By Steve Henson

On a quaint patch of green in this historic western Massachusetts town last weekend, Bouton's vision of recreating an authentic 1880s ballgame amid a theatrical set piece of the period sprang to life at the first Vintage Base Ball Federation World Series.

...

As for the playing rules, Bouton and his board of directors of renowned baseball historians and writers have cherry-picked from 1850 to 1890 the ones they believe make for the best spectator sport. Besides the batter's choice of a high or low strike zone, other rules that no longer exist include: A foul ball caught on one hop is an out; there are no balks or timeouts; the hidden-ball trick and quick pitches are allowed at all times; and if the lone umpire can't see a play, he may "appeal to the bystanders and render his decision according to the fairest testimony at command."




I believe I actually remember seeing Bouton pitch once for the Mavericks (though it was about 35 years ago, so not very well). What a great idea this is! By the way, there are more interesting pix at the link, so check it out!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mark your 2017 Calendars



(from the Strange Maps blog)

In the event we don't get nuked in the next 10 years (see post below for details), it looks like we will get a glimpse of a solar eclipse, this time in August. Our last solar eclipse was slightly less exciting because it was a dark, wet February day to begin with. Nonetheless, the darkening sky was eerie and interesting, especially in its rareness. On this rainy August day in 2007, I am more optimistic about our odds for good weather in 10 years.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The View from Mt Tabor is Fantastic

(thanks to my bro and a loyal reader for pointing this out)



Well the US gov't, in cooperation with local authorities and private freeloaders, are conducting a nuclear bomb test scenario here in beautiful Portland, Oregon. Let's scare you a little with a local fallout map...



(map courtesy of the Oregon Truth Alliance)

..how's that? Are you scared yet? That's right, Powell's Books is safe, but no more Blazer games. This exercise will be taking place over the next week.

The US Gov't has a new money spending campaign called Operation Noble Resolve. The Department of Fatherland Security picked little old Portland, with a low population density, no oil refineries or other energy centers, and a shipyard with a scarcity of military clients as their playground for a nuclear weapon.

I have no doubt that they are serious about this, but this scenario is for a 10 kiloton ground burst likely to be detonated by Al-Qaeda operatives that are, by some magical coincidence, more than 10 years ahead of the entire industrial capability of Iran in creating a nuclear weapon.

I will grant you that our little berg is not immune from a nuclear strike, but I suspect Russia, China, and North Korea (and possibly a pissed off Israel if we don't indulge their expansionism) long before anyone else in this category. Given the long history of nuclear energy in Russia and China, this scenario falls far short of their capabilities.

In addition, for the price of a community college student's report, I've already beaten our government to the punch. Over 20 years ago, I did a report in college on the effects of a one megaton (about 100 times bigger than Noble Baloney) blast on the Portland area. In my report, the blast was an air burst over the Burnside Bridge. The blast zone was orders of magnitude larger than that shown above and the death toll would have been in the hundreds of thousands over the course of time. I just wish I could find the dang thing in my boxes of schoolwork. If I do, I will type and post it (it was hand written).

I am preparing a post on how logic and risk intertwine to confuse the heck out of us, but suffice it to say that I don't appreciate my beautiful city and state being used for an implausible scenario. My take (and my contributing reader as well) is that any type of radioactive bomb from the so-called Al Qaeda would take the form of a dirty bomb, whose output would be more psychological than physical. Their element of surprise is gone and the days of fooling airplane passengers (if that is what happened) are long gone.

At any rate, if you see any would-be crusaders in P-town running around for no good reason talking about radiation over then next week, point your fingers and laugh at them and ask them to quit wasting our money on unlikely threats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Roy Horn says "WTF?"

Here at Snabulus Blog, opportunities to show friendship and tenderness tend to take a back seat to pop culture references, satire, civic events, and occasionally politics. In this video, the good feelings get a turn at the steering wheel.

The story can be found here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It Isn't...



...as though...



...nobody has...



...warned us...



...about this....


US doles out millions for street cameras
Local efforts raise privacy alarms

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | August 12, 2007

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Homeland Security is funneling millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a "surveillance society" in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost, privacy rights advocates warn.

...

In the last month, cities that have moved forward on plans for surveillance networks financed by the Homeland Security Department include St. Paul, which got a $1.2 million grant for 60 cameras for downtown; Madison, Wis., which is buying a 32-camera network with a $388,000 grant; and Pittsburgh, which is adding 83 cameras to its downtown with a $2.58 million grant.

Small towns are also getting their share of the federal money for surveillance to thwart crime and terrorism.

Recent examples include Liberty, Kan. (population 95), which accepted a federal grant to install a $5,000 G2 Sentinel camera in its park, and Scottsbluff, Neb. (population 14,000), where police used a $180,000 Homeland Security Department grant to purchase four closed-circuit digital cameras and two monitors, a system originally designed for Times Square in New York City.

"We certainly wouldn't have been able to purchase this system without those funds," police Captain Brian Wasson told the Scottsbluff Star-Herald.


Think about this. Nobody has time to watch these thousands of cameras. If the terrorist threat is truly real, they aren't going to proactively catch the perpetrators until after the destruction is wrought. All they can do is say after the fact, "Yep. Those were definitely dudes from some country with some brown people."

However, such data can be used to remove the freedom of non-terrorists.

Attention cheaters: E-Z pass is watching you

By CHRIS NEWMARKER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Friday, August 10th 2007, 6:31 PM

E-ZPass and other electronic toll collection systems are emerging as a powerful means of proving infidelity. That's because when your spouse doesn't know where you've been, E-ZPass does.

"E-ZPass is an E-ZPass to go directly to divorce court, because it's an easy way to show you took the off-ramp to adultery," said Jacalyn Barnett, a New York divorce lawyer who has used E-ZPass records a few times.


Of course, there are the Pollyanna's who just "can't believe our benevolent way of life here in America" would be compromised by the nice people who control our market and our nation.


Getting to know allabout you

ATTENTION, SHOPPERS -- WHAT YOU TELL SUPERMARKET CLUBS MAY BE USED AGAINST YOU.

BY JENNIFER VOGEL

When Robert Rivera signed up for a Vons grocery store card, he had no idea that detailed records of his shopping habits would one day be used against him. But that's exactly what he says happened.


Well, you're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Data integration and mining is the new frontier and as much as it is convenient to look up your friend's house on Google Maps, it is just as easy for the corporate socialists to broker your personal buying information, no matter how personal or embarrassing, and sell it to the highest Bidder or give it to government officiAls under the auspiceS of tErrorism prevention.

I'm not talking Ahmed who lives in Apt. 13 hoping that he can just do his damn job without getting a coke Bottle shoved up his Ass by some redneck in a dark room. I'm taLking about you, Janet. I'm taLking aBout you, Robert. I'm tAlking abouT every gall-durn 'Murican no maTter how freakin' wHite or black you are buying "Harry PottEr" or a few too many tampons or a Couple bags extrA of fertilizer for your oversize garden plot. YOU, Stupid coMfortable AmERicA!

It is time to wake up and smell the Orwell, neighbor, and stop worrying about whether the abortion is being considered from somebody you've never met, or the tree you've never hugged could be cut down by someone you've never met because when you are under surveillance, you could be punished for exercising your right to even express your honest opinion about it. Understand? Maybe, maybe not. Hard to say. It seems so remote...

The So-Called Protect America Act: Why Its Sweeping Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Pose Not Only a Civil Liberties Threat, But a Greater Danger As Well

The Washington Post, the New York Times, and politically-diverse organizations ranging from the John Birch Society and the Cato Institute to the American Civil Liberties Union all agree that the PAA is a serious mistake, and threat to the civil liberties of Americans. They point out that the law ignores the Fourth Amendment while, at the same time, hiding its actual operations in national security secrecy. Indeed, Congress was not even certain about the full extent of what it has authorized because President Bush and Vice-President Cheney refused to reveal it.


...but it gets worse every day.

Well, you know what? It isn't the few who connect the dots and realize that something terrible is happening who are going to turn the tide. It is the hundreds of millions of Americans who are slightly bothered here or there about snippets and sound bites here and there that contradict not only our Constitution and Bill of Rights, but the entire difference between a place once known as the "The Land of the Free" and places likes China. Places where you get along or go to jail for "re-education." My hope is that the non-conformists among us can look past petty political differences between right and left and look at the society that greedy and dull-minded Democrats and Republicans are building together.

Do you ever wonder what happened to this guy?



In America, he could have made a difference. In China, he might be still in jail, or "re-educated" or dead. Which country do you want to live in? If you are concerned, consider writing your Congresspeople, even if your are afraid it won't work.