Thursday, August 31, 2006

Do Not Question Us

From Rumsfeld's rally...I mean speech...held before the American Legion: "And that is important in any long struggle or long war, where any kind of moral or intellectual confusion about who and what is right or wrong, can weaken the ability of free societies to persevere."

Did he really say that? As long as there is a war on terror we are not allowed to question his actions? Wow. He can go straight to hell.

Don't believe what you read and see

This is too rich: "The good news is that most Americans, though understandably influenced by what they see and read, have good inner gyroscopes. They have good center of gravity. So, I’m confident that over time they will evaluate and reflect on what is happening in this struggle and come to wise conclusions about it."

So yeah, don't read the news or watch reports on the tube. Use your "inner gyroscope" just like our genius president.

One last jab

"...we have learned the lessons of history, of the folly of trying to turn a blind eye to danger." I hope he at least has learned that lesson since he and his cohorts were in charge during the largest terror attack in the history of our country. That's a heck of a snow job, Rummy.


I'll allow Keith Olberman to summarize Rumsfeld's speech: "The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack." Found that via Tom Tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A good idea

I love this idea and we have the technology to do it. If the Fox Network can have a whooshing sound every time a new stat pops up on the screen why can't they do this: "Televised football would instantly improve by throwing a few Madden flourishes into their coverage. For starters, they should ramp up the use of the so-called SkyCam—the XFL used bird's-eye views all the time, and it was the only reason those games were worth watching. Also, when the team on offense huddles up, a graphic should pop up noting how many tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs have entered the game. Ditto for the defense. And after the play is over, they should quickly flash a Madden-esque graphic with multicolored vectors depicting the routes that the receivers just ran across the field."
The man is a genius

Say what you want about Al Franken and his politics but at least he's genuinely funny. Link courtesy of this guy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bet you didn't know this

If you owe eBay $1.70 they will put your account on hold until you pay them if you wait long enough to pay them.

Screw AOL

I've been very pleased by the recent news story about AOL and their questionable billing practices. The news story reminded me of my infuriating incident of AOL dishonesty. It happened well over five years when we switched from AOL to Roadrunner in my abode. When I tried to cancel the account the scam they used was to offer me a free month. I said sure since there was going to be a few days of down time before the Roadrunner was installed and this would allow me to have internet the while time during the changeover. I thought that was mighty nice of AOL.

You know how every website subscription you've ever had works. When the subscription run expires, you can't get in anymore until you pay up, much like my eBay account right now. I figured that I would use the AOL account for a month and once it expired I would use the Roadrunner connection exclusively. AOL had other plans. What they did was as soon as I tried to log on after the expiration date, partly my fault since I was paying attention to the date, they immediately charged $30 to my credit card. I called and said I thought I had cancelled the account. They, literally, laughed and said, "why did you use it?" I'm serious, one woman actually giggled at me on the phone. This is the closest I have ever come to a heart attack. I was seeing red and almost yelling into the phone. I demanded they refund the money, they said no. I demanded to talk to someone else they said it would do no good. I don't remember ever being more angry at any time in my life.

What really made me furious was that I had been a customer of theirs for several years. Somewhere around four or five. I split the account with Chris during that time and I must have paid them almost $1000 over that period. What kind of company does all it can to screw over someone who has paid them that much money? So yeah, the hell with them. I hate to see people lose jobs but part of me desires to see that company go tits up. I bet that if they do go bankrupt they do it at the beginning of a month so they can charge their loyal customers for a full month they won't get.

I came across this poem in an article about Rudyard Kipling and his son who died during World War War I, the first "war to end all wars." Kipling wrote an amazing poem about his dead son a year later. The
article is here and the poem is below and in the article.

My Boy Jack (1916)

Have you news of my boy Jack?'
Not this tide.
'When d'you think that he'll come back?'
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

'Has any one else had word of him?'
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

'Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?'
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind -
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
New Toy

You can never have enough things in your life to distract, I always say. I've been looking around for a good piece of software that I can do panoramic pictures with and I think I found one I like. It's called Autostitch and, surprisingly, you don't have to do a thing to make the panorama. You just choose the photographs you want stitched together and the program takes care of the rest. Here's an example below. I took five pictures of my back courtyard and stitched them together this morning. There is some distortion in the picture because I stood in one spot. If you move sideways you can avoid this.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Beauty and horror

I guess images like these were unavoidable if you have a disaster in a city like New York. A city full of artists can't help but produce photographs like these during the worst of days.
Richard Dawkins

"You won't find any opposition to the idea of evolution among sophisticated, educated theologians. It comes from an exceedingly retarded, primitive version of religion, which unfortunately is at present undergoing an epidemic in the United States. Not in Europe, not in Britain, but in the United States."

It gets better

"Actually, holy alliance would be a better phrase. Bush and bin Laden are really on the same side: the side of faith and violence against the side of reason and discussion. Both have implacable faith that they are right and the other is evil. Each believes that when he dies he is going to heaven. Each believes that if he could kill the other, his path to paradise in the next world would be even swifter. The delusional "next world" is welcome to both of them. This world would be a much better place without either of them."

This guy is my hero

"An astronomically overwhelming majority of the people who could be born never will be. You are one of the tiny minority whose number came up. Be thankful that you have a life, and forsake your vain and presumptuous desire for a second one. The world would be a better place if we all had this positive attitude to life. It would also be a better place if morality was all about doing good to others and refraining from hurting them, rather than religion's morbid obsession with private sin and the evils of sexual enjoyment."
Never even knew about this

Sometimes we live in such an interesting world.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Still the worst president ever

During the month, 3,438 Iraqis were killed -- 1,855 because of sectarian or political violence and another 1,583 from bombings and shootings. Nearly 3,600 Iraqis were wounded, the official said.

The release of these figures comes on the heels of a U.N. report that said nearly 6,000 people were killed in Iraq in May and June.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Nation o' prisons

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice in 1980 there were 315,974 prisoners serving sentences of a year or more that were incarcerated in federal in state prisons. That is a ratio of 139 per 100,000 of the resident population. In 2002 there 1,380,370 prisoners serveing sentences of a year or more that were incarcerated in federal and state prisons. That is a ratio of 476 per 100,000 of the resident population. These numbers have risen every year since 1980. You better watch your step and do what your supposed to do, mister.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What to get me for Christmas, the bad-ass camera

Now capturing more souls per second that ever thought possible.
Me need Lotto ticket

"Most people already know the chances of winning Lotto are slim. But did we know just how slim? Rosenthal points out that the odds are so huge that you are more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the shop to buy the ticket than you are to win the major prize."
Chain, chain, chain

Yesterday a regular patron axed me for my email address because he wanted to send me some information about how all our cell phone numbers being released to telemarketers. My urban legend sense started tingling yet I gave him my email address. After I received his email I went to and found an article about this email being a bogus chain email. It copied the link and sent it to him. He was a little embarrassed because he had sent that email to, in his words, "a lot of people." If an email sounds far fetched be sure to check with Snopes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Just in Case

If you were looking for another reason to distrust the Bush administration I found today's entry.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Holy Christmas

Check out the chart from a recent study of countries and how their citizens view evolution. I think it's a nice touch that evolution deniers denoted with a red bar.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Slave to the Ipod

I dig the Ipod. Heck, I love it. For the last few days though, I have spent most of my free time dumping songs into it. This is going to take weeks. I just checked my bank account and I am regretting the purchase a little bit. Next payday can't come soon enough. If you need me this weekend I'll be sitting at home adding songs to my new master.

I can't help it though. I did some math and it looks like I will be able to put almost all of my massive CD collection into this contraption. I'm going to make a playlist of all my Led Zeppelin bootlegs. How fun will that be?

I got up early today. Real early. I can't wait to see how tired I am going to be when work ends at nine tonight. Am I doing dishes? Reading? Making a nice big breakfast while listening to NPR? Hell no, I'm messing with the Ipod. Someone save me.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Changing the toner

We have one of those Dell 3100cn printers here at our branch. It reminds me of the contraption that Captain Pike was strapped in in the original pilot of Star Trek. Today it was my turn to change the black toner in the printer. I approached this task with dread. I observed another librarian here change it a couple weeks back and he's pretty good with computers and he almost quit while changing the toner. My experience was worse.

First I couldn't get the expired cartridge out. I Got ink all over my hands in the process and had a patron hovering and offering "helpful" suggestions. I was following the instructions printed on the printer. I know I was doing it right. I unlocked the cartridge and pulled. Nothing. I pulled some more, this time harder. Nothing. then I really pulled harder and the printer slid across the tabletop. I was grappling with that cartridge like a frontier dentist and getting more frustrated by the second. After about twenty minutes of this there was a horrible cracking noise and it came out. I was sure I had broken it.

Then I had to put the full cartridge in. Twenty minutes later and a few more scary cracking noises I had managed to get the cartridge almost in but couldn't get it to lock. While trying to lock it the barrel holding the toner cartridges managed to rotate around to where I couldn't get to it. I started crying, the patron left and then I emailed the help desk.

John, who is now my hero, walked me through rotating the barrel full of toners so I could get to the one I was "fixing." When it rolled around I was able to lock it in with no trouble at all. What's up with that? Do I have to break it before I can fix it. Nest time someone else can replace the toner. I'll do it again in a few months when I have recovered emotionally.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Souvenir from the mountains

At some point during the rock show at last week's Rhodo I took a stroll into a field to check out the stars since the stars are brighter when you are not in the middle of a smog-choked city. Around Tuesday I started to get a horrible itching rash on my legs. Turns out it's poison oak. Holy hell, does that stuff itch. Not only does it itch, it oozes a clear sticky fluid. I can't begin to tell you how much fun it is.

I am a pod person

Yesterday I couldn't take it anymore. I went to the Apple Store at the mall and got me an Ipod. I decided I might as well cripple my bank account for the next two weeks and go all the way with the Mack Daddy Ipod. I spent all of yesteday afternoon watching the race at Indianapolis and downloading as much as my CD collection as possible to the Ipod. I figure I have a good chance of putting a large majority of my collection onto this Ipod. I'm chomping at the bit to get as much music on it as possible. Unfortunately, as you upload a CD to your computer it is converted to the mpg format the Ipod accepts and it takes over five minutes to convert it. It's a much slower process than I hoped it would be. A faster computer might help but that's going to have to wait since I broke the bank with this tiny little Ipod. It's going to take a couple of weeks but when I hit shuffle at the end of this project I am going to be in music heaven, baby.
Better everything

Not only do kids these days have better toys than when I was a youngster they have better Summercamps also. The little creeps. Oh, if only I had gone to Jesus camp as a child. I am sure I would have lost the faith much sooner than 1984. Damn my luck.

Friday, August 04, 2006


It still doesn't seem real. The night before last I stood about 20 feet from Tom Waits while he played a two hour set up in Asheville, NC. There's not more to say, really. It's just a show that was on my top ten list before it even started. A few highlights:

1) November. November was a surprise and my favorite song off of Black Rider.
2) Clap Hands. I had the lyrics to this song written on the front of my notebook at one point during high school.
3) Invitation to the blues. Done on piano with bass accompanying. He flubbed a line or two but he did the song on a whim.
4) The call and response he did with the crowd while using a bullhorn during Don't Go Into that Barn.
5) The odd little stories he tells between songs.
6) That sligtly hunched over hobo walk and they way he stretched his hand out to the crowd.
7) The footlights that cast his shadow on the curtain behind him. The man knows hot to present himself and he casts a distinct shadow.
8) Shore Leave.
9) Heart Attack and Vine. The way he moaned through the chorus was so different than what he put on wax but it felt just right for the arrangement.
10) I saw Tom Waits.

Of course there were a couple of lowlights.

1) What is it with people that feel the need to fill every empty space a band leaves in a song with their own voices? It's there for a reason, you yahoos.
2) We know you love Tom Waits. He knows you love him. That's why you paid between $65 and $85 for a ticket. Can we leave it at that?
3) There were at least two songs where it looked like Tom was attempting to take it down nice and quiet and work with silence and sound but each time the song got quiet the crowd, aticipating the end of the song, started cheering and Tom then waved his hand behind him to the band and ended the song.
4) When you recognize a song you like is it really necessary to drown the band out with screams? It's nice you like the song but please refer to complaint #2.

That's all. The same thing happened at the Neil Young show in Nashville in 1998. I guess that's part of the price for being an icon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


This weekend was the annual trip to to a place a few miles north of Boone, NC called Valle Crucis. Or as Wendell likes to say while moving a hand slowly in front of his face, "Vale of the cross. Vale of the cross." This year was the ninth time I have been up to Valle Crucis during the last weekend of July. Since 1998 Wendell has gone up there with me also. He missed one back in 2004 but he's made the rest. The summer of '04 was a tough one for Wendell. He missed the trip due to a graduation and he missed Sonic Youth at the Orange Peel because he was sick.

This year's Rhodo (officially known as the Rhododendron Festival) was one of the best. There is a softball tournement that takes place but, once again, we didn't bother to go see the games. We are there for the company and the band that plays on Saturday night. Brigham went with us and he had never been before. He's been job searching for a few months now and a trip to the mountains was just what he needed.

The usual cast of alcoholics was there. There is a great group of people we only see about once a year for this event. Sometimes I am in awe when I see how much booze these fory and fifty and sixty year olds can put away.

Saturday night was a night to remember. After the band played a smokin' set in an old barn down the road we headed back to the campfire as we do every year. Some guy at the campsite next to ours that was sharing our campfire stayed behind and had a roaring fire going when we got back. That was cool but starting a fire is half the fun. We didn't complain.

Hanging at the fire with Lenny, Stevie, Barry, Kathleen, Bobby, Brigham, Wendell and a dozen other folk was a hoot. For some reason this guy showed up and started interviewing Lenny. I don't know who he is. I don't want to know who he is. Well, maybe I do want to know who he is just so I can be sure to never be anywhere he is ever again. He was dressed in a black and white urban cowboy outfit and he thought he knew about music but was just a terrible blowhard. Sometime after 1 am he disappeared and then reappeared with a jambox slung over his shoulder and he followed Lenny around playing him Allman Brothers and music by the band and the Monkees. Here's a picture of him. If you see him run.

The cowboy ended up getting smashed and he brought Lenny along with him. It got very silly and started to get annoying and...he...wouldn't...leave. He kept blaring music around the campfire and my tent was right there. I said to Brigham that there was no way I was going to be able to sleep until he and that radio were gone. Three am comes by and he's going strong. 4 am, still there. Sometime around five he finally disappeared for good and I crashed somewhere around six. After it hit five I said to hell with and decided to see how long I could hang. I haven't stay up that late since my clubbing days in Okinawa. The sky was getting light by the time I hit they hay. I think I got about three hours sleep which isn't too bad for staying awake almost until dawn.

One of my traveling companions (I won't say which) got as drunk as I've ever seen him. I had to help him to his tent which was a pain because he was being a belligerent little bastard. About an hour after he passed out I saw him stumble out of his tent and step behind someone's van to tinkle. I rushed over to make sure he didn't fall and hurt himself. After his micteration we chatted for a second before Bobby came up to say hey. We stood there and marvelled and my buddy's drunkeness and I saw another Federal teenager walk by. I waved her over and three of us laughed our drunk-ass friend for a minute. He finally decided to back into his tent. I didn't realize until later that he had had to cut the mesh screen of his tent open because he couldn't find the zipper when he had to tinkle. Instead of messing with the zipper he decided to dive through the hole he had cut in the mesh. Instead of diving he fell through the hole, getting through up to about his belt. As he belly flopped his weight brought the front half of his ten down on top of him. All me and the two kids could see were his legs kicking like a breach baby. The three of us laughed for a good two and half minutes solid. I mean, we just roared. I don't know the last time I have laughed that hard. I got one of those good breathless giggle going that I used to get because of Tom's wit while in telephone reference. It was one of those classic moments you have with friends that you will never allow them to forget.

That was Rhodo. Rhodo always provides you with memories. What more can you say about something.

One more thing

Oh yeah, I am going to Asheville to see Tom Waits tomorrow. You heard me right. I have't been this excited about a concert since the KISS reunion tour in 1996.