Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Lightbox Fun

I bought this "First Appearance" Batman off of eBay just recently. By first appearance they mean what he looked like the first time he ever showed up in a comic. Kinda cool, I think.
First Appearance Batman
Sky Goes Boom

Below is a video of a recent fireball seen in Canada. Incredible Stuff. Taken from the dashboard camera of a police car.

Found via the always awesome Bad Astronomy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Free Software

I know I have mentioned the website Life Hacker a few times here. I check it every day and would recommend it to anyone who owns a computer and/or ventures occasionally out onto the internets. There was a post the other day that highlighted the favorite free software of the Life Hacker community. You can see that great list here.

A personal recommendation: We do not have access to a graphics program at the library, lord knows why, and I have the free program Gimp installed on my flash drive. It's like having a portable free version of Photoshop. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles but if you are doing some simple photo editing it is a great piece of software.

I am also a big fan of VLC Media Player. Screw Windows Media Player.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What I am thankful for

I am thankful I can walk after getting speared by Cliff Both when I was a frighteningly clueless freshman running back.

I am thankful science now has filmed a whale shark taking a crap.

I am thankful I don't have an arm growing out of my forehead.

I am thankful when that miniature dachshund goes to sleep.

I am thankful that this house has three bathrooms.

I am thankful that I don't have a hairy chest.

I am thankful that someone created Godzilla. Who said nuclear weapons have given nothing back to the world?

I am thankful no one has ever dragged me downtown to see the Thanksgiving parade.

I am thankful that you, yes you, visit this blog on occasion and read this crap.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Where's all the flu activity?

Through a special super secret algorithm Google has announced a flu activity website. Supposedly this will predict flu outbreaks early. I am curious to see if this site actually predicts flu outbreaks quicker than the guv'ment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ladies and Gentleman, Shark Poo!

Shark poo finally caught on camera!. We live in glorious times, my friends.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

More fun with the Google/Life Photo Archive

Great picture of Johnny Bench

A shot of Sandy Koufax I've never seen. That is one thing about his archive that is cool. Many of the photos have never been published so you will see photographs of subjects that interest you that you have never seen before.

Holy cow, check this view of the Polo Grounds in New York City. It's one of my favorite old ballparks.

My other favorite old ballpark, Ebbets Field.

Another great shot of Ebbets Field.

Willie Mays gets some high heat.

Satchel Paige pitching in his first major league game.

Holy cow, Satchel Paige, Jim Brown and Bill Cosby (guest host) on the Tonight Show.

One more: A shot of the atomic bombs test at the Bikini Atoll.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Think She is on the Daily Show's Payroll

I now think that Sarah Palin may actually be Andy Kaufman. This could be Andy's masterpiece. He pretends to die, hides out for a while, gets a sex change and a journalism degree. Becomes Governor of Alaska and tricksies himself into the role of a semi-literate Repbublican VP candidate. It's genius.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things are getting back to normal

If you remember right before election, according to Google Trends, Barack Obama was more popular than free porn. If you look at this chart he is no longer more popular than free porn. Is the honeymoon over? We'll check again around the inaugural.
More Goodness from Life Images Hosted by Google

A drive involved in a wreck being loaded into an ambulance during the 1961 Daytona 500 and Tiny Lund in victory lane after winning the 1963 Daytona 500. Check out how few people there are standing around victory lane and how small that grandstand is.
Everyone Twitters!

Even Shaquille O'Neal. Happy day.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brothers in ideology

Once again remarks from Al-Quaida show how close their rhetoric is to that of America's far right. The only thing that differentiates the two is the name of their god. Check out these guys and each time you read the word "democrat" or "leftist" or "those that want to murder us" insert "godless Americans" and it's like you are reading a piece by the same people.
Los Angeles Sports Memorabilia Museum

An interesting article from the LA Times about a private sports memorabilia museum that sounds pretty nice. Personally, I'd love to see Babe Ruth's private traveling trunk from the 1930's. It's like an idol representing the god of debauchery.
So little left to destroy

My goodness, George Bush is just going to suck as much as possible to the bitter end.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Google and Life Magazine Photos

If you do a search in Google Image Search and at the end of it tack on "source:life" you will be search Life Magazine's archive of photographs. It's awesome. Check out this cool shot of Ted Williams I found. Or this one of Mickey Mantle! I wonder why the picture of Mantle is round? Is it because of the lens used and the time period? Any photography geniuses out there? There is a similar picture from the same year and the same photographer of Ted Williams here. I also found this haunting picture of Babe Ruth at his last Yankee Stadium appearance. How about Marines in a land crafting heading towards Iwo Jima. You can see the islands distinct low profile with Mt. Suribachi on the left. Here's a shot of a kamikaze plane exploding in midair. Want to see football how it is meant to be played? I love this shot of Jack Benny and Mary Livingston holding their radio scripts. OK, one more, an aerial shot from 1948 of Detroit, MI. Dig the pollution in the background.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cedric Burnside

Back in the early 90's I read about an album called Deep Blues. It was the soundtrack to a movie by the same name. I had always been a blues fan but I had figured that the old blues I loved didn't exist. Once I read about this album I had to have it. The first track on the album is a song by R.L. Burnside called "Jumper on the Line." It completely blew me away. The person behind that spooky guitar with a voice as deep and rich as the soil he tilled when younger was alive and currently making music. I had to find out who he was and get more music by him. If you watch the video you will see a kid wearing a shirt with yellow sleeves. That is R.L.'s grandson, Cedric Burnside. I didn't see the actual film until a few years ago. It was hard to find.

Two years later the label Fat Possum released an album by R.L. Burnside called "Too Bad Jim. It was produced by a writer called Robert Palmer. Palmer also narrated the movie "Deep Blues" and wrote a book with the same name. If you have any kind of interest in blues music this book is a seminal work and you will get a lot out of it if you crack it open. It really lays out how and why the blues evolved. Now that I think of it I don't know why I don't own the book "Deep Blues." I should rectify that soon. "Too Bad Jim" is an amazing album. It was recorded live with Kenny Brown on second guitar Cedric's father, Calvin Johnson, on drums.

For several years Cedric Burnside, R.L. Burnside's grandson, played drums for the old bluesman as he toured the country. Cedric is joy to watch play drums. I have called him the blues Keith Moon. He's all over the place with he plays. He hits the drums hard and fools around but he still manages to keep a tight rhythm. A good example of Cedric playing with R.L. can be viewed here. The second guitar player here is not Kenny Brown.

I can't ever describe what it was like to see R.L. Burnside play. I'll just say that it's the best live music I've ever seen. There's something about people like R.L. They have the ability to reach deep inside themselves and tap into the energy of the universe. A transformation took place when he performed. Not all the energy he harnessed was good either. That was part of his magic.

Chris first got to know Cedric Burnside when R.L. Burnside played at the Double Door in Charlotte, NC. Chris is more gregarious than I am and he hung out with Cedric in the ready room upstairs at the club. A few months later Chris, Wendell and I drove up to Cleveland to see R.L. Burnside play at the Euclid Tavern and this time we hung out in the back of club with Cedric and R.L.'s adopted son, Kenny Brown. I found Cedric to be one of the nicest people in the world. He was only 20 when we met him but he is friendly, smart and funny and he loves being on the road and meeting new people. While we were getting to know each other Robert Cage was playing inside. I remember distinctly talking to Cedric about a song Robert Cage played that had a real unique rhythm and as we discussed he started playing the song. We said simultaneously, "That's the one!"

Later, in early 1999, we saw R.L. in Asheville, NC and Cedric saw us walk in and greeted us and said, "Have you seen Grandad yet?" I said no and he said, "C'mon back" and we got to hang out in the club's kitchen with R.L. Burnside. I remember R.L. seated in a folding chair wearing a ball cap and a jean jacket. At some point a young kid came in with his girl friend and offered R.L. a beer. R.L., smiling and not saying a word, slowly pulled open his jacket and pointed at a fifth of whiskey stashed away in the inside pocket. He was good. That is also the night that Wendell, Chris and I got to hang out with the band after the show Wendell and I sat on each side or R.L. while he told us dirty jokes. One of my most prized memories.

Around 2000 R.L. had heart surgery and pretty much stopped touring. We didn't see Kenny and Cedric on the road again until 2003 when they played at the Orange Peel in Asheville. We approached Cedric and he recognized us and after his set (they were opening for another band) we got to hang out in his bus with him for a while and chitchat.

That brings me to this last Thursday. Cedric Burnside and, his new partner, Lightnin' Malcolm played at the Double Door here in Charlotte. We arrived a little after 9:30 and they were already playing. They played until after 12:30 with a break in the middle. Their project is know as the Juke Joint Duo and they play music in a similar droning blues style as R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. I bought their new album called "2 Man Wrecking Crew" and it's really good. I really love the first song called "R.L. Burnside." It's a tribute to his grandfather by Cedric.

It was an excellent show. Lightnin' Malcolm is a R.L. Burnside acolyte and channeled the old man a few times. He plays and sings R.L.'s songs well and, what impressed me the most, he and Cedric write and sing their own songs. I like what they are doing. They are taking the music they grew up with and making it their own. I'd love to see this project get some legs so they can stick with and expand it. If they come anywhere near you, go see them. You will be amazed. Be sure to approach Lightnin' and Cedric and say hello. You'll be impressed by how friendly and fun they are. They live for what they do.

During their break we hung out with Cedric in the van and he played a couple of songs on an acoustic guitar. They were unfinished songs and he was just trying them out. That was a very cool thing. I hope they come around again soon because spending an evening listening to a member of the Burnside clan play music is one of the more special things you can do in this world.

A few pictures from the other night.

Cedric Burnside

Lightnin' Malcolm

In the van with Cedric

Chris and Wendell jamming
Penn and Teller were right

Bottled water is bull shit. Personally, I never drink the stuff. My tap water that runs through a Brita filter is just fine, thanks. If I need to transport water I got bottles for that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A before the haircut picture
Hits and Hits

Yesterday, when I posted the picture of my new hair cut, I had a big spike in hits. I think every week now I will do some drastic body modification and post a picture of it. Next week: Mohawk!
More on Rickles and Obama

I found a nice column on Rickles' bombing with an Obama joke the other night. You can read it here. He makes a good point. The joke Rickles told was pretty mild compared to other things he has said over his career. The far right will probably call it political correctness but Robinson's point about this being a warm honeymoon period for the president elect seems more plausible to me.
Kite Boarder Meets Right Whale

Cool story and picture here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Redone Panorama

This has less detail but it's smoother than the last one.
My Hair was Making me Feel Fat

Today at lunch I got my hair cut off. It was getting old. I had had the same hair for about ten years. Now I can wear hats again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Great Don Rickles

To know me is to know I adore Don Rickles. He was on Letterman last night and I checked the CBS website just now hoping to find a link to his full appearance. All I could find was a two minute long portion of his appearance. I had to go to Youtube for the whole thing. I don't know how long these two videos will be up but take a look at them. The guy is 82 years old and as quick as he's ever been. There are a few clunkers here but if you fire shots off like Don does you are going to have a couple of moments that don't go over well. His Obama joke went over badly but I think it had more to do with his delivery than the content of the joke. Watch how Letterman masterfully allows Don to recover. That bit is on the second video.

Don's appearances on Letterman over the years have been special. They have a great rapport. I don't know if I've ever seen any guest make Dave laugh like Rickles. Many times Dave will insert himself into an interview, with Rickles he just plays the straight man and sits back and laughs. If you have some spare time to go to Youtube and do a search of "Rickles Letterman" and you will find hours of special stuff.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All We Need is One Pin, Rodney

This guy linked to a Lite Beer from Miller commercial recently and I had to just embed my favorite. I remember just loving these commercials when I was a pup. The commercials were so fun. I have always wondered what was the reason they were so good. Was it the writers? Was there a director or a team of fellers that put this together? It has the same feel to me as the Sinatra, Martin and Sammy ratpack. I don't know. I just loved 'em. Enjoy.
A Photo Essay of Obama Campaigning

After seeing this set of photos I am really confident in my view of Obama as a president that is more in contact with what it means to be an average American than we've had in that office since the last one to be born in a log cabin. Too early for Lincoln comparisons? OK, how about since that president that told us we didn't have to be afraid?

What is disturbing to me is the resistance to Obama on the far right. Guys like this are still spouting unfounded rumors of Obama's "socialist agenda" or "communist agenda." Two mutually exclusive ideas, from what I understand, but facts are not necessary with this garbage. Not only that, but this congressman also compared Obama to Hitler. This insanity has to stop. Back in 2000 when that idiot Bush was elected there was not this reaction by the left. Sure we thought he was a joke but I don't recall this much rage over his "election". We even let things go after that questionable Supreme Court decision (looking back now we may not have protested enough). Heck after 9/11 (before he prostituted American dead for his personal political gain) we actually got behind monkey boy and gave him our support. C'mon, right wing wackos, suck it up and get behind your president. If he starts to put white folks in concentration camps or tries to give my Xbox 360 to the poor kids down the block I'll protest with you but until then act like adults.
Charleston Panorama

The Battery area of Charleston is pretty amazing. There are the expected old mansions and a nice park with a view of the harbor. Below is a panorama I attempted on S. Battery Street, a street that runs east to west on the northern border of the park. It's a little messy and probably needs to be done over with Autostitch. Sometimes you can use too many pictures.
South Battery Street Panorama

Below is a satellite shot of the park and the street of which this panorama was made.

View Larger Map

Monday, November 10, 2008

UFO Welcome Center

One of the beautiful things about our country is that so many of us are nuts. It can a double edged sword. Because of the wide spread lunacy of the average American we sometimes elect people like George W. Bush and Tom Delay to power political positions. You take the good with the bad, I guess. If we weren't all so crazy then a few of our more colorful citizens wouldn't build a flying saucers out of plywood and plastic in their backyards. I found the one picture below yesterday in Bowman, SC. God Bless America.
UFO Welcome Center
OK, this is funny

Great comment on Obama sitting down with unpopular world leaders here.
The Election

Since I have been sitting in a hotel in Charleston, SC with a broke down internet connection for the last four days I haven't had a chance to comment on the election of Barack Obama. I wasn't one of those Obama maniacs as the right liked to call his most enthusiastic suppporters but once it came down it him and Clinton I was behind him all the way. When it came down to him and McCain and McCain picked the shockingly unqualified Sarah Palin and then started running a disgustingly negative campaign full of Rovian slime then I really prayed for an Obama victory. At that point I decided that McCain didn't deserve a victory and if Palin ever inherited the presidency we would have been on our way to an idiocracy.

I am just happy that a thoughtful and intelligent person will be president for the next four years. What more could we ask for, really?

You know what is too bad? People like Hannity and Limbaugh are not going to let up on Obama. It's going to be the Clinton presidency all over again. It's going to be ugly unfounded rumor after ugly unfounded rumor until our political dialog is poisoned again. It's time for the listeners of these shows to start pushing back. Sure you'd like to think the worst of your political opponents but to let the devil sit on your shoulder and whisper lies into your ear for three hours a day doesn't help anybody. Take a chance, open a newspaper, go to a legitimate news website and, god forbid, turn on NPR. I think you'll find that bias you've been told about is not the force you may think it is.

A few more pictures from Charleston

Friday night I took a few night shots down at the battery with the tripod. I need to get a better camera for these night shots but these are OK.
The Battery at Night

The Memorial to Confederate Soldiers
The Memorial to Confederate Soldiers

A street going north

On Saturday we went to the market on Market Street. It was full of touristy stuff. We were expecting more local artists and craftsmen. Still, it's another nice old set of buildings.

After the market we stopped by the Confederate Museum run by the Daughters of the Confederacy. Holy crap, there is some amazing stuff in there. I saw the first flag to fly over a CSA city and one of the first flags at Fort Sumter (that one had bullet holes in it). There were worn uniforms and homemade clothing made by families during the siege of Charleston. It's full of priceless artifacts. It's the best five dollars you will spend in Charleston, SC. Seeing that flag that flew over Fort Sumter gave me the same thrill I got when I saw the jacket Lincoln was wearing when he was shot.

After the market we drove out to Sullivans Island to see the ocean.

Here is the light house.

Here's Mel on the beach pointing at something.

This is what she saw. It was heading out to sea.

Here is me at the beach.

The obligatory head down deep in thought beach walk photograph.

Holy smokes, the ocean sure is big.

We saw a crab and I stuck the camera in his face. He didn't seem to care. I think he was not feeling well.

Another view of the crab. IMG_3522

There were sandpipers all over the place. Sandpipers

We swung by Patriot Point and there was a display of new and classic military vehicles. I saw the style of Jeep I drove on the Mojave Desert when I was the driver for a controller during a combined armed exercise. I loved, loved, loved driving this vehicle over the desert.

There was this dude dressed up as a WWII paratrooper talking to awe struck boy scouts about his gear.

Patriot Point also offers a nice angle on the bridge over the Cooper River. I didn't realize that there is a walkway over the bridge. That is reason enough to go to Charleston again. It's just calling out for a panorama.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Howdy Again From Charleston

A lot of people sure love Charleston. I've had about ten friends tell me where to go to eat or have a drink. Dave's suggestion of the Hominy Grill sounds intriguing. I walked past it today and it looked like a nice traditional diner.

Didn't really do any sightseeing today. I got up real early for the conference and just lazed around afterward. I walked back and forth twice to the conference and that's almost six miles on foot. There is a shuttle but I haven't used it. It's been so nice out, mid 70's, that walking just seemed to be the thing to do. My dogs were aching when I was done.

So far the best presentation was the second I attended yesterday. Geoff Bilder gave a great and enthusiastic presentation on the problems facing researchers when trying to determine the authority of a web document. I was hoping he would have a blog but I have only found an older blog that hasn't been updated for a year.

Today I attended a good seminar on using digital video for research. It looks like the java based interfaces used on sites like Youtube are definitely going to end up in libraries. In fact they already are. I know we at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library have access to PBS videos via NC Live but I'd like to see us eventually subscribe to a service that has historical videos matched up with text. Primary sources all are the rage so what could be more appropriate than video? We already have some lectures series on CD, why not on our online resources? Of course they didn't discuss how much this stuff costs. Right now it's geared more towards academic libraries it seems to it may be beyond a public library's budget.

Tomorrow there is a talk on Wikipedia and libraries. I am interested in seeing what is said there.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Howdy From Charleston

This will be quick and sweet since I am in the lobby and don't want to hog the computer. I am at a librarian coference and have done some sightseeing. A few pictures to follow.

The city's famous bridge. It's beautiful

Me at the Battery. A great park at the southern tip of Charleston.
At the Battery

A sunset view of the city from across the river. Found this by accident, just driving around.
Charleston from Across the River

Fort Sumter. I think it's Fort Sumter. It was in the right spot.
Fort Sumter at Sunset

A panorama of a view of the city from across the river.
Pano of Charleston at Sunset

Melanie standing in front of the city at dusk.

So far this city has been really cool. It's small and easy to get around in and old. Lots of old buildings and it's been in the mid 70's for the last couple of days. I'd like to write more but don't want to hog the internet in a hotel full of librarians and a wifi network that is down. I'm surprised there isn't a line. They must be all out getting drunk.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Google Trends

Have you heard of Google trends? It's a way to see how popular search terms are on Google. You can even see how two or more terms compare. You can limit your search to region and by time. All of the searches below are for searches done on the United States of America.

Well, I see that Google trends has Obama dominating searching in the United States. Maybe that's a good sign. Does interest breed votes? You can view the chart for the last thirty days here.

This chart is sobering though. As you can see there is more interest in Obama and Muslim than McCain's age. Intriguing.

What is really encouraging is that in the last 12 months Obama has closed the gap between himself and free porn. Not only has he closed the gap but in the last couple of days he has actually passed free porn! Now that's power. I think it's interesting that John McCain has not yet topped free porn this month. If you can't beat free porn how can you hope to beat Obama? You can see here how badly Bush did against free porn in November of 2004. He peaked early but fell off at the end. Obama is peaking late which, if you ask a playoff bound coach of any team sport, is what you want to do.

As you can see by this chart that Jesus keeps a pretty steady search rate and and if this wasn't an election year he would be ahead. At least he is still beating the Beatles. Take that, John Lennon! Mr. Smartypants.

Most importantly you can see here that pizza delivery is kicking the snot out of frozen pizza.

On a More Serious Note

Google has an election map that you can here. It's interactive!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Yesterday was a cool day. Not weatherwise, it was actually in the lower 70's with a beautiful clear sky. I present the day in pictures.

First off I got this shot of Wendell awake before noon on a Saturday. Seeing that is like seeing bigfoot so we have a bigfoot on the run type shot of Wendell.

This is Gallagher. He thinks he runs this place. Right now he and the dachshund are in the middle of a power struggle.


It was a perfect day for farting around at various retail stores. Here we see local celebrity, Melanie, preparing to head out and face her public.

At Home Depot they had one of those silly Christmas villages on display. The little figures look pretty creepy closeup. They also look to be cheaply made. I'm guessing "Made in China" and are probably poisonous.


Next stop, Garden Ridge. But first let's pause for a self portrait in the back of a rear view mirror of the giant SUV we parked next to. Things in the mirror are not as fat as they appear.

Local Celebrity, Melanie, runs the gauntlet of paparazzi in the parking lot of Garden Ridge.


After Garden Ridge we went to the Roasting Company on Montford Drive. The Roasting Company is a great chicken rotisserie place that has been around for a long time. It is the local restaurant that I have visited the longest here in Charlotte. I started eating there in 1993. I hadn't been there in a while and I almost forgot how delicious their chicken on rice dish is. Man, I love that place.

Later in the afternoon we used some rope and a softball do knock down some dead limbs from the oak tree in our backyard. The project was a success and no one was injured. The One Big Loud Guy was here and after our yard work we shot some hoops.

Nothing but the bottom of the net.

After dominating the first game of Horse the One Big Loud Guy rests.

This is just before Melanie kicked mine, Chris' and Wendell's asses at Horse. She just walked outside and totally dominated the second game. That's wrong.

Wendell attempting to hypnotize the basket so more of his shots wills fall.

After the second game of Horse a slam dunk competition broke out. I won. Here we see the One Big Loud Guy jamming the ball home. Melanie observes.

Look at that son of a bitch sky!

Sometimes the ball bounces over the chain link fence and rolls down into the back corner of the yard. The yard slopes toward the back corner and that ball rolls and rolls when it hits the yard.

I get a little slam dunkin' action. Bam!

Another one. That is not my ass hanging, just my lower back.

Check out that form. Eyes on the prize.

Wendell gets rejected by the rim.

Chris almost tore the rim off with this dunk.

I leave with this shot of my amazing form while dribbling the ball.

Afterward we retired to the porch for a few drinks and some tunes followed by one of the worst movies I have ever seen, Poultrygeist. Avoid it at all costs. It's supposed to be a funny deconstruction of horror movies but it's actually just stupid. The first 45 minutes are watchable. After that I started looking for a way to hurt myself so I could go to the emergency room.