Thursday, July 31, 2008

Geek Poetry 2

Dyson, Rueben, and Rachel

Dyson, Dyson, I've been thinking
What a nice world it would be
If a sphere could capture all the
Sun's escaping energy.

Dyson, Dyson, I've been thinking
Of the places I could go
If the sun could be surrounded
By a spherical halo.

I wrote that on October 6, 1998.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Demographic Mismatch

GMail, Google's e-mail offering, puts up ads in your inbox that are targeted to you through some kind of magical algorithm that scans your messages for content and matches up the ads to you. It reminds me of the intrusive advertising in Minority Report, the last Tom Cruise movie I saw before I realized exactly how guano loco he really was.

Somehow, I got this ad at the top of my inbox. I think the magic algorithm failed.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Geek Poetry 1

Schrödinger and Heisenberg were walking through the town.
Said Heisenberg to Schrödinger, "I think I'll knock you down!
I say my fist's a particle, and I control the speed.
The placement, as I'm sure you know, is something else indeed."

Said Schrödinger to Heisenberg, "Until we check, you see,
We can not know the end result of your attack on me."
And so the squabbling pair talked on of manual ballistics.
And that is why we have the science known as "quantum phystics."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Post Diem

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of Son's adoption. Group hug.

Sheep Warp

Many years ago, I had trouble falling asleep one night. I decided to try the old cliché of counting imaginary sheep that were jumping over a fence in my mind. I had seen that on so many cartoons and teevee shows that it just seemed guaranteed to work.

I set up the little hill in my mind. A little fence appeared. So far, so good. The first little lamb scampered up the hill, jumped over the fence, and hopped out of frame. The second little lamb was even cuter. It jumped over the fence, and like the first one, hopped out of frame.

The third sheep approached the fence, jumped up, and zoomed off into the sky. What?

The fourth sheep behaved like the first one. So did the fifth. The sixth one zoomed off into space. I started to get concerned by this, so I decided to find out what happened to the sheep that zoomed off into the sky.

The camera view in my mind followed the sheep up into the sky. As it turns out, the sheep were flying through the air, legs splayed, wearing WWI aviator helmets and goggles. This amused me, so I started to laugh. That made it difficult to fall asleep. Mission unaccomplished.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Some Juxtapositions Are not Funny

Just sit and savor the awfulness.

  • After a graduation ceremony in Louisiana, where the multilingual valedictorian said a sentence in Vietnamese to better speak to her parents, a school board member started an initiative to standardize graduation ceremonies to be English-only.
  • The US Army needs speakers of Arabic to help with interactions in the Middle East.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jackets? Part 2

After a short jaunt, my car says it is 73 outside. That's more plausible, but why the jackets?


So I have seen two people today wearing jackets. It's in the 70s right now. My car's external thermometer says 80, but I disbelieve that.

Once You Go Geek....

Hoji at Geek, Interrupted has caught the That's Amore bug (second, third, fourth). In the words of Nelson Muntz, "Ha ha!"

Go check him out. He's good people.

Foto Phriday

Here is a picture of our hostas from last week. When we moved into the house nine years ago, there weren't as many. If anyone wants some of them, come on by with a shovel. I'm sure we can work out the details.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Mandy sent me a transcript of a conversation she just overheard in the women's restroom.

Woman 1: I told him there is something seriously wrong here!

Woman 2: Yeah?

Woman 1: He said, "What you're showing me are your tastebuds." I said "Nuh-uh Doctor! Those aren't my tastebuds! There's something wrong with me!"

Woman 2: Yeah, stupid doctors. [pause] So Jill's deodorant smells different today.

Woman 1: Oh yeah? What's it smell like?

Woman 2: It's fainter than usual. Really nice and light.

Me: [Getting the #3ll out of there as fast as I can.]

Mistaken Identity

I saw the animal that lives under our summer kitchen. It is not a skunk. It is a small groundhog (a.k.a. woodchuck or whistlepig). I think there are some chipmunks under there, too that live in harmony with the woodchuck, but I won't comment on how weird that is. I'm debating whether to engage in chemical warfare or use some nonlethal methods to remove the squatters.

However, Rusty told me the other day that he saw a real skunk curled up and sleeping in his barn. Rusty tried an approach where he left the barn open until dusk, then locked it up tight. He thought he might be able to convince the skunk to find another bed.

Yesterday morning, I saw a dead skunk a couple hundred yards down the road. It might be the one from Rusty's barn, because Rusty reported no skunk sightings last night.

We'll see what happens with Marmota monax, but the skunk situation seems to be under control.

The Shot Mustn't Have Worked

CrankyProf is playing the role of Typhoid Mary.


There is a road on my way home that has a little gravel patch next to it that a lot of cars use to turn around. I'm not sure if that's the reason it's there, but that's what happens.

A few days ago, I saw a pigeon standing in that gravel patch. This is kind of unusual, because pigeons aren't especially common near this area for some reason. I thought back to the days when my dad build us kids an aviary to keep pigeons, pheasants, and chukars. We didn't like them too much.

Anyway, the next day, I saw two pigeons. Pretty interesting. The first one must have found a friend.

The third day, I saw four pigeons. I'm afraid to go down that road now, because I fear this trend will continue.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Prophetic Dream

I dreamed I saw on a moonlit stair
Spreading his hands on the multitude there...

--"The Prophet's Song" by Queen

A while back, I had a dream that I was in a crowd of thousands of people who were flocking to see the great seer, the Cow Prophet. The Cow Prophet was dressed in saffron robes and was sitting in the lotus position.

"Tell us, o great Cow Prophet," the people cried, "of what the future holds."

The cow prophet opened its dewy eyes, cleared its throat, and said, "I'm just a cow. Stop asking me things."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Elegant, Beautiful, Strange - The Fightin' Clowns

EBS Guy works as a security guard/usher at some local sporting venues. Please recall that he's 60 now. Last night, he got in the middle of a small riot and tackled some troublemaker. He brought in a picture from the newspaper and was showing it off. I think that next time he should wear his clown suit.

Hilarity Ensued

GPop and I decided that Son needed to be weaned a little more from some of our caretaking. We've been adding things to his responsibilities as he gets older, but we decided last night that Son should share in the nightly reading.

He took the book we've just recently started, and began where we'd left off the night before. About two minutes into it, he grimaced and let loose with a two to three second gas leak. He thought this was the funniest thing he'd heard or done in ages, so he started laughing until he was weak, and tears were running down his face.

After a couple of minutes, he regained some semblance of control. I looked at him very seriously, and said, "Mungus." This time, he dropped the book, and his sides started to hurt. Then he told me that he couldn't breathe due to laughing too much.

Lather, rinse, repeat until the mungus lost its power.

Today's Haiku

Important meeting.
Agenda shows much to do.
VPs like to talk.

Monday, July 21, 2008

First Name... Hugh

We went to the grocery store on the way back from seeing Kung Fu Panda last night. We were supposed to have done some other stuff, but I banged my head against a door lintel in the shed we're remodeling, so I wasn't really up to a lot of activity, due to the headache and sore neck. I done banged it good.

Son was pushing the cart, and I was fully capable of opening the trunk. GPop sort of elbowed me out of the way so I couldn't hurt myself any further trying to unload the cart.

GPop looked at Son and said, "Help me unload this."

Son looked blankly and pleasantly at GPop.

GPop repeated, "Help me unload this."

Son continued to look at GPop.

GPop, frustrated by now, said, through clenched teeth, "I asked you to help me unload this!"

Son jerked into action, started to help GPop, and said, "You were mumbling! I thought you said something about 'mungus.'"

It struck me that it made perfect sense to Son that GPop kept repeating nonsense more and more irritably. I started to giggle, then I laughed uncontrollably most of the way home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Just a Little, in the Back of the Throat

A friend was looking for another way to say the phrase "learning curve."

I suggested "ramp-up time." Then I thought about the worst possible way to say that in business speak. How about "incentivized on-the-job training cycle?" It made me retch a little.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Recent Observations

The quality of discourse lately on the Internet has been something like this.

Person 1: Anyone who disagrees with me about my cause du jour is Hitler.

Person 2: You suck!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Foto Phriday

Here is a picture of a warning label I saw the other day. I love how the Electricity Monster will kill you with its jagged electrotentacle.

UPDATE: It's possible that the electricity monster is faith healing the little man.

What to Do?

Our house is an old farm house with several outbuildings. One of them is a structure called a "summer kitchen." This was a small building (maybe 10' by 12') that was used as a smoke house in the winter and a kitchen in the summer. One could cook there when it was too hot to have an oven going in the house.

Anyway, the building doesn't have much of a foundation, so there is space between the floor and the ground. We believe a skunk may have taken up residence there.

I'm all about wildlife having its environment. That does not include any space inside or within two feet of any of my structures. I want Mr. Skunk to move elsewhere, but I'm a bit uncertain how best to extend this invitation.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Travel in the Right Circles

I was standing in line last night to get a sports figure to sign his new book. We have relatives that would like such things. GPop was in charge of the event, so he was able to arrange for us to be in the first 100 people. That means we were able to leave quickly.

Whilst we were in line, there was a couple of sports buddies who found their places in line and tried to be everybody's best friend. These are the kinds of guys who, in their 30s, still wear their high school letter jackets to occasions other than costume parties or the beer-intensive part of class reunions. The louder one noticed that my wristband number was 19069, and I was standing behind 19070 and 19071. "Hey, why are you all the way back here?"

I responded politely, but with a tone of voice that was supposed to indicate that I had no interest in continuing the conversation. "My son has 19072, and I'd rather stand back here with him than cut in line in front of these folks."

"These folks" happened to be two college aged women. The man started flirting shamelessly, then told everyone that he was going to buck the system and call his wife to sneak into line so she could take his picture with the sports "hero." And he kept touching people.

Throughout this ordeal, the man kept trying to soften his more egregious behavior by repeating the mantra, "Hey, we're all having fun here." I have decided that this saying is a 100% accurate marker of jackassery.

Today's Observation

It's hard to have a firm belief in humanity's enormous potential when there are so many counterexamples.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I know this isn't going to do any good, but...

  • Barack Obama is a natural born citizen of the United States of America, and is therefore eligible to be President, unless there are other disqualifying factors, like being under 35 years old or something.
  • The horrible events of September 11, 2001 were not an inside job.
  • Same-sex marriage will not destroy the fabric of the space-time continuum.
  • The act of expressing an opinion is not anti-American. The opinion may be.
  • You are not always right. Neither am I.
  • When your employees tell you something, then you pay a consultant to tell you THE SAME THING, you are probably wasting some of your money.

It's Getting Worse

This, this, and this.

In medieval Japan,
He's the Shogun's top man.
That's samurai.

Please send help.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Fog

I don't know what it is, but for some reason, I believe there is a correlation between foggy mornings and me smelling the odor of skunk. There have been too many instances to dismiss this as nonsense. I'm not sure if there is always a lot of skunk action going on, and the fog just allows the smell to travel greater distances, or if skunks get all panicky when fog rolls in.

Any skunkologists or smellologists that want to comment?

p.s. Our niece used to say, "snunks."

UPDATE: A woman at work also commented on skunk smell on her drive to work this morning.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Not That There Was Much Question...

But I won't be voting for John McCain.

Foto Phollow-Up

Shay asks, "How did the one where you dropped it turn out?"

And I reply...

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Feedburner tells me of searches used to arrive at my blog. I think I may be the intarweb's source of information on three-eyed humans or kittens.

Two that just recently showed up that made me laugh are "sphinx short hair" and "sunday bacon."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Woe Is Me

I want some comfortable footware that I can slip on and off. I hate sandals. Crocs stop at size 13, and I wear a good sized 14. Stupid manufacturers.


Tough Guy

Son reacts pretty badly to mosquito or fly bites. He gets big, itchy welts, and he scratches them until they bleed. I've been putting on some hydrocortisone cream on his welts recently, because he can't reach the ones on his back.

As he was telling me where they were the other day, he noticed one on his knuckle. "Huh. I have one right here. It's like I punched a bug."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Paper Towel Mystery

The paper towels in one of our buildings smell like bacon. Weird.

Foto Phriday, Plus Foto Phriday

I live in a pickup truck intensive part of the greater Capital City metropolitan area. I work in a part of town that's saturated with BMWs and Saabs. On Thursday, I was walking between two buildings our company occupies. I had to cross a bridge to get there. Each one of the corners formed by the upright post and the railing had a spider web in it, but only on the left side of the post as I was looking at it. This suburb has a reputation for being tidy. That apparently extends to the wildlife.

I read about a photographic technique where you put your camera on a timer and throw it spinning in the air. You end up with a blurry picture of something that looks sort of like spin art. This is my second attempt. The first one didn't turn out at all.

Not Quite as Humorous

A few miles after the glasses/nose guy, I saw a truck with a slogan painted on the side. I think it was a political stance, but I'm not sure. It said, "Toll's Is Stealing."

Words to live by. Or at least to paint on your truck.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Other Favorite Grateful Dead Song

When we went to visit GPop's family a little while back, I was relaxing in the passenger seat while we made our three-hour drive to the family homestead. GPop tends to drive a little faster than my old-lady speed (cruise control at the speed limit in the right lane), so we were slowly passing traffic. We had recently discovered that our new phones could be used as MP3 players, so I loaded up the phone with plenty of Car Talk, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, and Le Show.

I was people watching with my sunglasses on, and I thought it would be interesting to find someone to blog about. As we approached one tractor-trailer rig, I saw the driver in his rear-view mirror. He was kind of tan, but it looked like his nose might be in a bandage, because it was a bit lighter than the rest of his face. As we got closer, I laughed at the idea that he was wearing one of those novelty pairs of glasses with the nose and mustache. I felt bad, because the guy was probably recovering from some operation or injury.

Nope. Sure enough, he was wearing the novelty glasses. He was hoping someone would notice, so I smiled and gave him a thumb's up. I think we made each other's day.

My favorite Grateful Dead song is "Uncle John's Band."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Boy

The day before yesterday marked the second anniversary of the day GPop and I met Son. We acknowledged the day, but since the more important day is the day he officially joined our family, it passed without too much fuss.

However, I was in a reminiscing sort of mood, so I pulled out the archived copy of the story from the Capital City newspaper from February, 2001, where That Man visited Son's school. Son was in kindergarten. I realized how much of a jerk That Man was even then. Here are some quotes from the article. As usual, I've changed the names, but everything else is pulled directly from the story.

And later, during a round-table discussion at Pseudonum Elementary, Bush introduced [Firstname] Congressman by asking him, "Are you with me, Firstname?'' After Congressman made noncommital remarks, Bush smiled and said, "That means yes."

Moments later, Bush turned to Gov. Jerky McJerkface for support, grinning and asking, "What do you think, guv?"


Pseudonym was selected for the Bush visit because of its successful mentoring program and rising proficiency-test scores. As Big Corp founder Bigshot McRich and his wife, Mrs. McRich, watched approvingly, Bush, his wife, Laura, and McJerkface talked with 13 volunteer tutors from Big Corp who were providing one-on-one reading lessons for 13 kindergarten students.

"Everybody's going to college in here?'' Bush asked, playfully rubbing the head of 5-year-old Son Oldlastname. "It starts with being a good reader."
The flip interactions with the other officials just grates on me. I'm pretty informal, but there are some situations that call for a bit of gravity.

Additionally, the remark about all of the kids going to college, while I think was well-intentioned, really misses the mark. The ZIP code where that school is located currently has an unemployment rate of 8.1% and 31.1% below the poverty line. Contrast with our home ZIP code now with 1.7% unemployment and 5.7% below the poverty line.

Anyway, I was pointing out some of these things to Son last night, and I told him that I was glad he hadn't been harmed by his contact with That Man.

Son scrunched up his face and said, "Duuuuuhhhhhh. Now I'm brain damaged... derrrrrrrrr. I caught The Stupid. Duuuuuuhhhhh."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Literacy Matters

A few days back, Cranky Prof posted a link to an article that showed a correlation between number of books in a household and children's test scores. There was a table that showed that children living in houses with greater than 100 books tended to do better on science, civics, and history than children with 26 to 100, 11 to 25, or 0 to 10 books in the house.

I just counted books in my bedroom. I counted 126 across my nightstand, GPop's nightstand, the computer desk, and under one dresser. I didn't look under the bed (a place that should terrify the faint of heart or allergic of nose) or in the couple of boxes that are filled with books and other miscellanea.

Son's bedroom has stacks of books, the teevee room probably has at least five to ten times the number in our bedroom, and the barn has several storage totes filled with the things.


Please Help Me Stop

Another one....

Oh, I've run out of feed
For my horse, so I need
Th' oats and more hay!

[Ducks and runs out of room]

Monday, July 7, 2008

For the Birds

I was at lunch today with Mandy. She told me the story of how she and her husband rescued an orphan baby bird recently. Part of the story is how Mr. Mandy tried to rebuild the nest in their gutter as a first pass at restoring the bird to the wild. He is an engineer for a large company known for making well-engineered machines. I was imagining that his recreated nest now met all of the OSHA safety regulations for single occupancy avian creche structures. That made me laugh.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday, dear GPop!
Happy Birthday to you!

Please, dear readers, help yourself to some cake.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

That's Amore, Again

Yesterday, another That's Amore spoof appeared in my head. This seems to be the only way to get it out.

Oh, my Mexican friend,
Meet Supreme Court's right end,
That's Sam, Jorge!

Let the booing commence.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Primary Grades Motivation

We took Son to see Walking with Dinosaurs last weekend. We had a fun time, although Son is probably at the high end of the age demographic for the show.

We moved at the intermission to some closer empty seats, because there were some especially active children right behind us with pretty piercing voices. One of them was chanting probably the funniest thing I'd heard in a long time.

"CottonCandyCottonCandyCottonCandy! Oh yeah!"

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Amazingly, There Are No Injuries

Here is a video of a current project we're doing. Rusty is helping us tear down a shed so we can rebuild it - better, faster, stronger. Unfortunately, this video just shows some building demolition without the America's Funniest Videos tree-falls-on-house part that would win us some money. Money we could use to rebuild the shed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Phone Books

A co-worker has a local yellow pages phone book on top of the cabinet that sits over his cube. I opened it to the "Entertainers" section and left it on top of that cabinet. In our fair city, Entertainers is equivalent to Escorts, which is equivalent to... well, you get the idea.

The book is now at his eye level, but higher than eye level for most of the department. I will keep an eye out to see how long it stays open to that page.


At the recent adoption picnic, Son got his hair colored blue with temporary color, and he got a temporary airbrushed tattoo on his forehead that said, "HOTTIE". The tattoo and hair artists were young women. When they finished, they told Son to go show a young man the results. I'm guessing that they were using Son as a proxy to flirt with the young man, because the young man claimed that he had been too much of a chicken to get the tattoo.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mission Halfcomplished

The first half of the year is past. I've met my goal of at least one post a day so far.

Probably not Getting There Next Day

I was stopped in traffic. The other side of the freeway was blocked. My side was stopped, because drivers are looky-lous. The accident involved a FedEx tractor-trailer. The rear wheels on the trailer had fallen off!