Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another trip to the Farmer's Market

Today Chris M. joined us for a trip to the Farmers Market. Here he is with a bag of bread and meat gazing longingly at the Nova's Bakery booth.

I bought a bag of chicken legs and thighs from the Red Dirt Farm people again. I can't wait to grill that stuff out. I can't recommend the Red Dirt Farm chicken highly enough. They won't be back until July 19th so keep an eye out for them then if you head out there. I will probably grill the chicken tomorrow because tonight I am grilling up Polish sausage that I bought from the same vendor as last week. That stuff was good enough to sell in Maple City, MI. Believe.

Melanie saw a veggie last week that intrigued her. She talked to an Indian lady this week that told her how to prepare it. So she bought a couple. The veggie is called 'bitter melon' and it's the spiky veggie in the pictures below. She also bought some baby eggplant. You can see the two items below. We also got a bunch of tomatoes. Tomato sammiches for everybody!

Before we left with our goodies Chris wandered through the Greenery Shed in search of catnip which he did find and purchase. Here is Chris wandering.

After we got back home Chris and I pitched wiffle balls to each other and smacked them around the back yard with the plastic wiffle ball bat I bought a couple of days ago. I hit my first kong shot over the house today. I wish I had a picture of that mighty achievement. You should have seen that ball jump off the bat. I bet not even Jim Thome could have crushed a wiffle ball any harder than I did.

Finally found it

I've been looking for the picture below for years. I finally found in the Sports Illustrated Vault. I've mentioned The Vault here before. You can essentially read, for free, every issue of Sports Illustrated that's been printed since the magazine started. It's a gold mine. I read an article written on Johnny Bench during the spring training of his second season and it was revealing to read an article about a future legend written while he was essentially still a kid. I'm sure there are hundreds of similar articles like that in there to read. Think of you favorite sporting figure and search him out in The Vault and you will find something that will be worth a read.

This is a picture from 1995 of Kirk Gibson bowling over Kansas City Royals catcher, Pat Borders. I found a quote in the internet from Border about the collision:
"Kirk Gibson got me once and hit me so hard I hurt for three days. If you let me hit Gibson every day for a year, I’d still owe him for that one."

Kirk Gibson was one of my favorite players and this is one of my favorite baseball pictures. I hope Sports Illustrated doesn't mind if I include this screen capture from their website.

Here's a different angle that I found posted on some message board.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Robert Sawyer Lecture on SF

I found this lecture on Robert Sawyer's website. It's an excellent analysis of what makes good and bad science fiction. I highly recommend giving it a listen. He breaks down quite nicely why Star Wars isn't really good SF.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Carlin Interview

I just finished reading this amazing interview with George Carlin that was done for the magazine Psychology Today. If you are interested in George this interview is great. It covers his work habits, his philosophy and his personal life.
Another Podcast

Yesterday afternoon, while hanging out on the porch, I recorded a new podcast. If you have a hankering you can play it here. I recommend choosing download, not play. The play option on the website doesn't seem to work.

Melanie Saves a Turtle

Today we rode our bikes to the animal hospital to pick up some flea medication for the dog. The dog and all three cats got fleas and Wendell medicated the cats last night so Melanie thought she should do the same with the dog. On the way back we cut through Park Road Park and we came across a snapping turtle in the middle of the road. He didn't look well. I think he got halfway across and then the heat got to him and he was stuck.

Melanie approached him and started to pour some of her water on the pavement around him.

After a little bit of that he seemed to revive and then he started moving into the shaded area to the right and then truged on down into the swampy hole in the ground that used to house the park's pond.

Melanie is a friend to all turtles.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

I'm sure everyone knows about Carlin by now. I'm really pleased he had one more HBO special in him before he kicked off. I saw it a couple of months ago and he was still kicking butt. George was my hero. Pretty much everything he said I agreed with. His bit about global warming really opened my eyes. "The planet's fine. It's the people that are fucked" is one of the most profound things I've ever heard a comedian say. His ability to step back and see the absurdity of the world has helped me more than a little bit.

I wasn't one of those guys that listened to Carlin secretly while growing up. I didn't really start appreciating him until I was 21 years old. I remember I bought the album "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" and I was hooked. He's one of the few artists that I have listened to pretty much everything he did and, as he got older, he got funnier and more edgy. Edgier? Sometimes he could come off as bitter and angry but for someone whose eyes were as open as his how could he observe the world and not be more than a little disgusted as he aged. As George said, "I don't have pet peeves. I have psychotic fucking hatreds." He may have been angry but he was still the funniest out there. He always went for the laugh.

I'm curious to see what kind of theme the ridiculous political cartoonists come up with to commemorate George. I admired that he was a devout atheist to the bitter end and I hope not to hear that he had a death bed conversion. Well, if he did you can't blame him. Those last few minutes when you know you are going to die have to be scary and we're hard wired for that god stuff.

I did see George once several years ago. Can you believe I had to be talked into going? I thank Diana for insisting I go. I believe she said something along the line of "Isn't he about your favorite comedian in the whole world? Why aren't you going, asshead?" So, we went. It was great, of course. I think it must have been in 2002 and he delivered a masterful reading of his "10 Commandments" routine. About 75 percent of the material I had heard before in a recent HBO special but the fresh 25 percent was special. There were a couple of routines that he was still fleshing out and he was referring to some notes as he performed. You got to had him that, he was always working on new material. He might bring out an old classic like "Stuff" or "Football and Baseball" but there was always something new added to it.

So yeah, he was one of my heroes. He was a genius. He was hilarious and he had some of the best comedic timing ever. And his books were funny. He made funny faces and could do cool voices and he was as comfortable in front of a crowd as a person could be and he shared swallows by holding the microphone to his throat.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We got up at 7:30 and went to the Charlotte Farmers Market. I can't really say I had forgotten how awesome the food and prices are there but it nice to be reminded. We got some great veggies and some chicken breasts from a young farmer that calls his farm Red Dirt Farm and I bought a jar of pickles from a delightful older German woman. Those chicken breasts, which we grilled last night were the best I have ever had and those pickles were absolutely delicious. I'll never eat store bought pickles again.

It was pretty crowded. Here's a shot of, I think, building B.

Here's Melanie standing in line to purchase some veggies. She bought some nice squash that she ate with her most awesome chicken breast.

After the farmers market we came back and made some breakfast and lazed around until I had to go to the library for an appearance by Lenny Federal. This is something new I am trying. I hope to bring a local musician into the library every couple of months. I thought it went real well. About half the crowd was kids with a parent. Each family stayed for about 20 minutes to half an hour because the kids would get antsy after a little while. One little guy even let out a big yawn between songs to let his mom know he had had enough. That got a nice chuckle from the adults in attendance. It worked out like I had envisioned. As some people left more came in. I walked around the first floor a few times and invited some library users in and they had a nice unexpected musical addition to their day.

Here's a shot from the early part of the show.

After that we cooked out while listening to A Prairie Home Companion and then watched Oceans 13 and went to bed. That was a good day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Three from the Vampire Squadron - GSW_Negatives_4_2X3_262m
Originally uploaded by fizzix

I came across something today that exemplifies everything awesome and cool about the internet. This guy has scanned in a bunch of photographs his father took in the Pacific from 1945-48 while he was in the USAAF. Not only has he scanned the photos but he has posted them to Flickr for us to enjoy. Take a look, there is some great stuff in this collection.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sentator Jim Webb

I found a fascinating article on Jim Webb in the recent New York Review of Books. He's got me intrigued. I'm going to keep an eye on him.
I wouldn't say: "When you die, that's it." I'd say: "When you're born, that's it."

How about a great interview with Gore Vidal? You can read it here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another type of cell phone user

Another great type of cell phone user at the library is the person I like to call the Wanderer. The Wanderer takes a call and immediately stands up from wherever he is sitting (usually the open study area in the middle of the floor) and circumnavigates the library in search of a spot where he can talk without disturbing anyone. If he is sitting in the study area in the middle of the floor he heads to the fiction area where first he enters the reading room. He sees people reading magazines and newspapers there and then turns down into the stacks. In the stacks he sees people browsing for novels. They give him nasty looks so he heads back to the open study area. Once back there he ducks into one of the word processing cubicles and discover that is the loudest spot in the library. He then heads across the to nonfiction and has to stop short because we have a sign there that signifies that area as "The Quiet Area. No talking." Now he's boned, he's got nowhere else to go. He looks over at us at the reference desk and we give him the "you're in the library, there is no place to go talk on a cell privately." Then he does one of two things. He either tells whoever he is talking to that he is in the library or he goes downstairs and then outside.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Statistics and terrorism

I just finished an amazing novel by Cory Doctorow called "Little Brother." It's about a 17-year-old hacker that takes on the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist attack in San Francisco. To me it stands right alongside Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is Harsh Mistress" as a great story surrounding instructions on how to start an insurrection against an oppressive government. I am going to get this book into the hands of as many teens as I can.

One topic he addresses in the book is the Paradox of False Positives when it comes to increased security and data mining. He also wrote an article about the paradox for the Guardian. You can read it here. If you enjoy the article you will dig the book. Believe.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The ever expanding universe

I just read on Warren Ellis' blog that our universe may have been spawned from another universe. I like the idea. No beginning no end. Who knows where we might end up next?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Screen shot

I use a media player called VLC. Why? Because I'm a hacker, that's why. Well, actually because a hacker website told me to. I found out a couple of days ago that you can take screen shots with VLC. How cool is that. Check out the picture here. It's from the discussion in the diner for the episode called "The Contest." One of my favorites.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Today's high temperature was in the mid nineties. I think it was God getting back to me for the text I sent to Kevin last week asking him if they still had snow in Northern Michigan. Who's laughing now? I'm not. The temperature is fifteen degrees above normal. That means it will be 110 in July. I think if it gets that hot you start having scorpions living in your backyard.

Cell Phones

For a while when cell phones were starting on their pat to ubiquity the library tried to keep people from using them in the branches. An idea that may have sounded good when the rule was first put into action. In reality we seemed to spend a large portion of our day chasing people around and telling them to hang up their phones. It was counterproductive from a public relations standpoint. Especially when one of my former coworkers would grab the "no cell phones in the library" sign and wave it in the offenders face after she chased them down. Most signs telling library users to refrain from an act are pretty obnoxious as it is. The added indignity of waving the sign around brought me back to high school.

Now we allow people to use their cell phones in the library. For the most part it works out OK. Ninety nine percent of library users realize that their voices are transmitted electronically and it is not necessary to yell into their phone in order to be heard on the other end. It's the other one percent, let's call them 'yahoos', that cause problems. These yahoos are mostly adults. Kids with cell phones know they don't have to holler. The yahoos raise their voice well above conversation level and proceed to project their bidness into every corner of the second floor of this building. It's shocking, really. My favorite yahoos are the ones that go into these computer cubicles we have. Cubicles that, due to their design, naturally project sound. Not only are you talking too loud but you are now broadcasting. You might as well be standing on water, dude.

The library's policy is that we allow cell phone use as long as the phones are used quietly. Now when I go tell someone to hang up his phone it's usually not an awkward interaction because he's usually being too loud and, hey, it's still a library, take it outside.

Monday, June 02, 2008

No fun allowed either

Originally uploaded by zzazazz

Mel and I saw this walking to Earth Fare during lunch a couple of weeks back. This was stuck on the outside door of a construction site. What kind of a boss doesn't allow construction workers to play music?