Sunday, May 31, 2009

This Makes my Brain Hurt

These guys believe so strongly in your right to life that they just might have to kill you if you disagree with them. I find the press release by Operation Rescue to be stunning. They say "we are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down." This released by a group that called Stiller America's Doctor of Death. You can see the icon that links to their page about him below. They're shocked? What did they think was going to happen?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Squirrels 1, me 0

Squirrels 1, me 0
Originally uploaded by zzazazz

OK, he won. He beat me, trounced me, walked all over me. I tried everything except murder to keep this squirrel out of my bird feeders. Nothing worked. He always came back. Each time he came back he devastated my bird feeders. I surrendered yesterday and went to Lowe's and bought me a squirrel feeder. He spent a good hour there yesterday evening munching away. He was there this morning as I left for work. He'll probably be there tonight when I get home. Now that he doesn't have his face buried in a bird feeder he's actually cute and fun to watch. He will stay cute and fun to watch just as long as he stays out of the bird feeders.

A football thing I didn't know

I knew a lot of NFL teams are moving to a two running back system but I was not aware teams limited their running backs' carries like they do with pitchers and pitch counts. Below is a quote from an article on the soon-to-be-expanded NFL season and how it will effect regular season records. I'm not a fan of expanding the NFL season. I like it right where it is. I think this will bring down the level of play.

"From afar, it appears two extra games could put Eric Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 in jeopardy, but it’s highly unlikely. Like pitch counts in baseball, teams monitor the number of carries for running backs, and because of the brutal nature of the position, that carry count isn’t likely to rise exponentially. Instead, teams will just increase the workload of No. 2 running backs.

To get near the 2,000-yard mark, most NFL running backs would have to rush in the neighborhood of 400 times in a season. But many teams now try to keep their primary back below 350 carries in a regular season in hopes of extending their careers. Why? Because they’ve seen the damage a “super” season can do.

Jamal Lewis has never been the same since he rushed the ball 387 times for 2,066 yards in 2003. Terrell Davis’ career essentially ended with his 392-carry season in 1998. Shaun Alexander’s career plummeted after his 370 carries in 2005. In essence, any back hoping to push Dickerson’s record would likely have to do it in the fashion Barry Sanders did in 1997, when he averaged 6.1 yards per carry on 335 rushing attempts

Squirrels 1, me 0

Squirrels 1, me 0
Originally uploaded by zzazazz

OK, he won. He beat me, trounced me, walked all over me. I tried everything except murder to keep this squirrel out of my bird feeders. Nothing worked. He always came back. Each time he came back he devastated my bird feeders. I surrendered yesterday and went to Lowe's and bought me a squirrel feeder. He spent a good hour there yesterday evening munching away. He was there this morning as I left for work. He'll probably be there tonight when I get home. Now that he doesn't have his face buried in a bird feeder he's actually cute and fun to watch. He will stay cute and fun to watch just as long as he stays out of the bird feeders.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How does your garden grow?

I'll tell you how it doesn't grow. It doesn't grow in the soil around our house, that is for sure. The garden we put in last year was a failure except for a few green peppers and a couple of okra. This year I put together a raised bed garden and put in a combination of top soil and organic potting soil from Lowe's. The bed was a gift from the One Big Loud Guy's father. He ordered one and he was sent to and he told Chris I could have the extra one. It sure was easier than the amateur carpentry I was contemplating. We have planted about four different kinds of tomatoes, squash, cucumber and okra. Is it too late to plant some beans?

Here is a view of the raised bed garden with the sunflowers in the foreground. It's growing pretty good.

Melanie is pointing at something in the picture above. Here is what she is point at, a cluster of cherry tomatoes. So far this garden is already looking so much better than last year's fiasco.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm outta the game? No, you're outta the game, man!

There is a nice photo essay of the event here. Check out the picture of Lou Pinella laughing. There is a longer and better video available here. Love a good baseball on-field meltdown.
Another one sees the light

I think every one of these right wing torture apologists should spend ten to twelve seconds on a water board. This false debate needs to end and Jesse Ventura could end this debate with a one hour television special.
Newish Science Fiction

Alan axed about newish science fiction. I can recommend a couple of things. I don't read science fiction as much as I used to. There is still a lot of good stuff out there.

I highly recommend Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It's the story of a smart teenager in San Francisco that rebels against his government after getting roughed by the Homeland Security people. It reads like an old Heinlein juvenile novel at times.

Another young adult novel that blew me away is the book Peeps by Scott Westerfeld. It's a unique take on the vampire novel. And, no, it's not about a vampire detective investigating murders by a serial killer ghost pirate from another reality.

Michael Swanwick's novel called Dragons of Babel takes the fantasy novel and stands it on its head. It's set in the same world as his novel The Iron Dragon's Daughter. That one really knocked me off my feet. He does genre bending right.

There's an older book by Vernor Vinge (pronounced Vin-jay) that every reader of science fiction should read. It's called A Fire Upon Upon the Deep. It has one of the most creative alien species I have ever experienced, a canine hive mind creature. I first read it in 2005 and I couldn't believe I hadn't before.

Joe Hadleman is still writing excellent novels and a recent favorite of mine was The Accidental Time Machine. His most recent novel called Marsbound is going to have a sequel. If you haven't read his novel The Forever War you are missing out on a seminal work. Some say it's a response to the glorification of the military in Starship Troopers and it definitely is the retelling of his Vietnam experiences. As Joe puts it it: 'Basically, The Forever War is “all about Vietnam,” said Haldeman, a draftee who served in Vietnam’s Central Highlands in 1968. “I didn’t sit down and make a chart or anything,” he said, “but the [Vietnam] war was my model.'

As far as re-reading Heinlein, I've been doing that myself over the last couple of years. Recently I re-read "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel" and before that I read "Between Planets." I really enjoyed the latter and I found this quote in it: "There were many, many times thereafter that Don regretted having enlisted - but so has every man who ever volunteered for military service." Amen to that. I'll probably read another Heinlein this summer. I haven't decided which one yet. Maybe "Time Enough for Love." It's been a long time since I read that one.

Another writer in the vein of Heinlein is supposedly Charles Stross. He wrote a book called Saturn's Children that is dedicated to Heinlein and Asimov. Stross himself describes the book as "A space opera and late-period Heinlein tribute." I haven't read it yet.

I have to leave and get ready for work but I have to mention Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. It's another young adult fantasy book and it's magic.

That was fun, I haven't written a nice long blog entry in a while. It's all about content.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We’ve been banished from an Eden of oscillation

Science fiction writer, John Scalzi, regularly allows guests to write an entry on his blog. It's usually a novelist who has a new book coming out. This week China Mieville breaks down the crime novel. Great stuff.
What the?

OK, I do the fantasy/science fiction paperback ordering for the library. My question is is it really necessary for every new fantasy novel to be an urban-occult-vampire-mythological-detective-romance story? I've noticed traditional romance writers are now branching out and writing vampire romance series. This is a bubble I am very ready to see burst. I'm not surprised I haven't seen a series come down the pike where Thor is narrating a noir detective story where he has to investigate the murder of the town's head vampire.

Johnny Bench 1976 Topps
Originally uploaded by zzazazz

Alan commented that he saw a Mark Fidrych rookie card I had scanned in a few months ago and it gave him a warm nostalgic feeling somewhere in his tummy region. After reading that email I realized I hadn't scanned in an old baseball card in a while. This one here is a little beat up but this has always been one of my favorite baseball cards. I always liked the ones taken during games as opposed to those staged spring training pictures.

Johnny Pissoff

Today Michael Blipped a song from I guess he then subscribed by my account and it showed up in my inbox. I had forgotten I even had an account on this sit. In fact, I had forgotten this site even existed. I went back and looked it over and saw that it has a good selection of music and you can embed songs at it has "The Illiad" by Ed Sanders. All you need to know about Sanders for starters is that he was in the Fugs.

I first heard "The Illiad" on a compilation album called "Big Red Ball." It had a bunch of wacky stuff on it but this song stood out. It's still one of the funniest pieces of social commentary I have ever heard. I know I played this for Kevin and Kevin back in high school. I don't remember if they were impressed or not.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Driving my Okinawa Car
Originally uploaded by zzazazz

This is me in the late 80s tooling around town in my $500 Toyota.

Originally uploaded by zzazazz

This is the pleased look Isaac wears on his doggy face after barking at something that has had the audacity to walk past our house on the sidewalk.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another Link from Warren Ellis

It's a webcomic called Aimeski, Evil Girl Genius.
Rockin' Japanese Women

Remember that all-girl band that played in their barefeets in Tarantino's "Kill Bill?" I do. They are a real band called the 5,6,7,8s. Rockin' song below.

The 5,6,7,8s - Bomb the Twist

Friday, May 22, 2009

High Contrast

High Contrast
Originally uploaded by zzazazz

I don't know if this guy parked his Porsche in front of my car to be funny or if he just took the first spot he saw.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fun With the Cell Phone Camera

scary cat
Originally uploaded by zzazazz

This is my orange tabby, Gallagher, on the kitchen counter. You can see the coffeemaker in the background.

Friday Flickr Finds on Thursday

Hey, that's a good name for it. I'll post Flickr pictures on Thursday and call it "Friday Flickr Finds on Thursday."

The Taquemenon Falls in the upper peninsula of Michigan. I remember my grandmother loved these falls.

A Lego version of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.

A nice view of that farm in Leelanau County in Michigan

An Indian fights off a dinosaur. Photo by my old telephone reference comrade, Tom.

A view from the Ridgeway Trail in England

A long exposure shot of a creek at sunset on Lake Michigan in Leelanau County. Kevin thinks it's Shalda Creek. I do too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meetin' up with peoples

In today's society where folks move all over the place there may come a time when you and a couple of old friends want to get together and instead of just agreeing on Las Vegas like normal people you decide to meet somewhere in the middle. If so, you can go to this website for a suggested meeting place that is fair to all involved.
New Search Engine

Have ya'll heard about the new search engine called Wolfram Alpha? It's designed to give you answers instead of linking you to websites. I was messing around with it today and plugged my birthday date in. It will also compute fairly complex searches like largest countries by area in Africa. You can also compare different states or countries by entering them and separating them by commas. I did California, Michigan and North Carolina here. If you look near the bottom you can see it generated a graph comparing the population growth of all three states. I am going to use it for reference questions at work and see how it does me.

I'm sure you are aware of the event that those over at Talking Points Memo are calling Cheney's Torture Tour. I do like the new revelation that is coming out about "enhanced interrogation techniques." How's that for a euphemism? Now we are being told that torture stopped before Bush's second term and may have been mainly used to tie Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda. A connection that most everyone that pays attention knows was impossible because Iraq was a secular government and Al-Qaeda is a far right nonsecular terrorist group. Now that we know that we have Dick Cheney and his little torture tour and he's claiming that since Obama says we will no longer torture that we are less safe than when Cheney and Bush were torturing people. But if we were so much safer when they tortured, as Josh Marshall asks, why did they stop in 2004?

The NASCAR All Star Race

I usually end up watching the All Star Race every year. I got hooked on it in 1992 when Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison played bumper cars on the last lap. I love when Earnhardt drives Petty into the grass on the back stretch. If memory serves, I believe Davey Allison broke a couple of ribs on the last lap crash. This was the first time I ever jumped out of my chair while watching a sporting event at home. The All Star Race can be something special when it all comes together. You can see the last lap of the 1992 All Star Race below.

This last Saturday night was just as good as 1992. Below is a video clip of part of the last 10 laps. NASCAR made a good decision by announcing that during the last ten laps yellow flag laps would not count. What this gave us was essentially three shootouts in one. Each time they crashed they just did it again. I will say one thing about Kyle Busch, who in this video below you will see causing chaos on the restart, he races these all star races like Dale Earnhardt did. Watching him race recently he reminds me of Dale. He drives to the front as hard as he can. In fact I am going to now call Kyle Busch "Little Earnhardt" or "Little 'E'" for short. A lot of fans hate him now but he's going to be a legend before he is through.

A little over a minute into this video below you will see Ryan Newman take his #39 car to the high side in turn 4 which then puts three cars side by side. Not something you ever really want to do in turn 4 at this track. There's no room for that and you will see what it causes. We had a few friends here that night and we were hootin' and hollerin' at the TV and just carryin' on like fools. There is nothing like watching a classic all star race live. Now that I watch the replay I finally get to hear what the announcers were saying. I had the center channel on my sound system turned way down and all we could hear was the cars. I love being able to do that. Kudos to those drivers and their performance on Saturday night. Nobody got hurt and all those guys drove their asses off. You could feel how hard they were driving. It was beautiful and ballsy

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thump Thump

Yesterday, on the way to the store, I ran over a snake. I was cutting through a neighborhood and topped a small rise and there he was, right in front of me. I had not time to swerve and I just ran right over the poor little guy. I circled back around to see if he was OK. Halfway back I picked up Randy who was walking to the mall. We investigated the snake and determined it was a king snake. A beautiful king snake. It was motionless in the road and I assumed it was dead. When it saw my car it started moving towards the side of the road and the safety of the yard a few feet away. He was moving well except near his head. I moved closer and saw a lump right below its head. I felt terrible. I guarded it with my car until he was able to slow crawl into the grass. I wonder if he'll make it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

During the fight...

Tonight is the annual NASCAR All-Star Race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway which I still like to call the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Recently the race, like a lot of NASCAR's events, hasn't had the same luster as it used to. What drives me crazy about it now is the long delay between the race-in race and the final race. An hour of bad music and extended driver introductions is just too much.

Tom Higgins, I know I've mentioned him before, wrote about racing for the Charlotte Observer for a good long time and he has a story on the paper's website today. It's about the classic 1989 All-Star Race. Every time Higgins writes a column about stock car racing's past it's always a treat for me. You can read it here.

Next year I need to remember to remember that the truck race at Lowe's Motor Speedway is usually pretty good. I watched the end of it last night and those guys really race hard.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another Wikipedia Story

There is good advice in this article on a hoax played by a Wikipedia user. We use Wikipedia here at the library a lot. It's most useful to me as a tool to start a search. A lot of times a teenager will come up to the reference desk and say something like, "I have to do a report on Some King III." You can then ask the kid who this person is and a lot of times he'll have no idea. You can plug that name in Wikipedia and then you'll know where to start looking. I can tell if this person has enough renown to warrant a full biography or if I'll have to grab a book on his country's history and look the person up in the index.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Friday Flickr Finds

I did a quick Google search and there appear to be dozens of blogs that have something called Friday Flickr Finds. I'm special, just like everyone else.

Cars in turn 1 at Darlington at last weekend's Southern 500

A series of pictures of two guys running across the street in the rain

One of the polar bears at the North Carolina Zoo

The India Gate in Delhi

An aerial view of the Mackinac Bridge

The Alden Bar in Alden, MI

Lenny Federal at the Neighborhood Theater

Late in April there was a benefit and Lenny Federal was part of it. WTVI was there filming it and you can see the performance here. I think it may be the whole performance. If you watch the whole thing you will see Wendell Black at some point.
One Planet is not Enough

I present to you a tribute to the gazillions of lifeforms that have been decimated by the rays from the black hole of a killer galaxy.

I win.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Tribute

Kevin posted a video that he claimed paid tribute to 4 dead people. I now offer the video below which is a tribute the millions that lived in London in 1903 and are now all dead, excepting of course the few centenarians still kickin' it live on the banks of the Thames. I haven't counted but I bet you see almost 1000 once living human beings in this film. You also see a lot of horse poop in the street.

Beat that, you son of a gun.

Saturday I drove to Darlington, SC to see NASCAR's Southern 500. I love going to Darlington for a race. There's a magic about the place that I think is multiplied because other smaller market tracks like Rockingham and North Wilkesboro have gone away. One of the reasons I went to Darlington the first time was because I had lamented the passing of Rockingham and was angered when Darlingon lost one of its races so I decided to put my money where my mouth is. Now they are calling this race that takes place on Mothers Day Weekend the Southern 500. For a few years Darlington didn't even host a race called the Southern 500. Some of the decisions that NASCAR makes perplex me sometimes. I think they have studied Major League Baseball and have decided that in order to be known as a major sport that have to make decisions that hurt the sport.

I met my old friend, Jeff, down there. We set up camp withing sight of the banking of turn three. He and I hadn't hung out by ourselves in almost ten years. It's pretty amazing how close old friends can fall back right into the same rapport they had even after such a long layoff.

About an hour after we set up we headed down to souvenir row because I needed a Mark Martin hat.
Souvenir Row

Oh yeah, Darlington is an incredible place to people watch.

The damn planes pulling banner signs circled the campground all day long. All day long. After a while I was completely sick of it. Is it really necessary for one to be floating above your campsite all day? Is it? Next year I am bringing a rocket launcher.
One of those evil planes that circled the campground all day

Yup, people watching.

We moved inside around 6:30 and I took a lot of pictures of the people around us.

We had a good view of the entrance to pit road and these two guys were tossing a football.
Crew members tossing a football before the race

Did I mention the people watching?

The multitude
Darlington Fans

I followed these two around trying to get a good shot of them.
Two Women at Darlington Raceway

We had an amazing view of turn 3

Robby Gordon in the pits. You can see he has a Darlington stripe on the right side of his car. They get those by scraping and/or smacking the outside retaining wall of the track.
Robby Gordon in the pits

Eventual race winner, and my favorite driver, Mark Martin in the middle of turns 3 and 4

This is our view of the front stretch. Man, we had good seats.
Cars heading down the front stretch

This is Jeff. Jeff noticed that the rednecks now cheer Jeff Gordon. We both are very confused by that. If you remember the 1990s then you know how much they used to hate this guy. I think it's because he's now a veteran. They hate the new young hotshots like Kyle Busch now and Gordon in the 1990s. Southerner are resistant to change.

Dale Jr. leaving pit road. I still can't believe how popular he is.
Junior leaving his pit stall

This graffiti from the mens room is priceless.
Graffiti in the Darlington Mens Room

The cars really hugged that wall coming off turn 4.

This is Mark Martin leading the race not long before he eventually won it. I've never been so excited at a race before. I've never seen my favorite drive win in person. I couldn't sit down for the last 30 laps.
Mark leading Jimmy Johnson late in the race

An early race panorama
Darlington Panorama

Here's a panorama after the sun went down.
Darlington, May 2009.  Southern 500

Monday, May 11, 2009

Been a cop long?

I was messing around on Youtube today and came across this hilarious scene.

OK, how about a clip of Dom Deluise on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. I had never seen this before until today.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I'll be posting some pictures and writin' tomorrow about my awesome Darlington experience with my old buddy, Jeff. For tonight I will leave you with the start of last night's Southern 500. May Darlington always exist. What an amazing place. It's the people that sit in the stands that really make it fun for me.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Flickr Finds

Wendell Scott. The only black man that has won a race at NASCAR's highest level. If you haven't heard of him, he's a fascinating character. Classic old skool stock car driver.

A nice arty fart photo taken in Asheville, NC

Scary clouds near the North Carolina/South Carolina border

Vintage bathing beauties from my favorite Flickr user that posts old found photos. Superbomba is my hero.

I'll be striking this pose tomorrow because I'll be in Darlington!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I love a good documentary

Rosary Bleeds

I heard Dom Deluise died the other day. I mainly knew him from his appearances in Mel Brooks movies. He was great in Silent Movie and his cameo in Blazing Saddles is famous. My favorite performance by him was in Canonball Run. I've always loved the outtakes that play as the credits roll. You can really sense how much fun it must have been to be around him.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

So Long

Originally uploaded by zzazazz

Judging by the sign advertising Dancy Construction company it looks like another nice old house that faces Freedom Park is going to get bulldozed. Any guess on just how big and ugly the house that will take its place is gonna be?

It's all good because George said it was OK

Wow, I was ready to move on but I think we need to nail these people. Rice actually says in this video that torture isn't torture if it's given the big okey dokey by the president.