Monday, December 31, 2007

Battle of Evermore via Tolkein, for Shocho

I saw this video and thought of Shocho immediately. He's probably already seen it, but I hope not. Notice how the editing of the scenes match key moments in the lyrics, such as mention of the ring wraiths and the runed ring. Nicely done. [technical note, I think this thing is getting downloaded so much it can be slow to load, just give it time it always does]



[via Pacific Views]

Enjoy your gaming friends,

Bp

Acupuncture kicks ass yet again

Mr. Schell of Alethea acupuncture came over yesterday on his way out to a hike and treated me for this fever/cramps thing that was going on.

I was still running a steady fever, but I figure any fever below 102 or so is a good thing, because any temp. above 98.6 kills pathogens at an enormous rate, and anything under about 104 doesn't hurt your body. To be safe, I don't take fever reducers til around 102. Anyway, enough of my quackery.

Jon did acupuncture, I slept it off and sweated it out, and am feeling dandy today. I'm not 100% but I'm dam close. The trick now is to not overdo it and stress my body.

I'm going in today for one more visit and I expect I'll be ship shape after that.

Which means, soon I'll be in "The Palouse" with Mr. Stud Farmhand. Was worried I would have to cancel that trip when this first came down. A bit delayed, but not canceled.

ps: He also treated the cat, which is always a good thing for her old sore hips.

Enjoy your local bio-energetic health care professionals,

Bp

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Some bug photos for you to enjoy


You gotta love friends; Babs sent me this photo set from Pravda online. Right up my alley and a good opportunity to get another post in today without much footwork (still feeling quite crappy).

Cruise around that Pravda page, there are some hilarious other features as well.

Enjoy your invisible means of support,

Bp

ZeFrank on Waves

Here's a big fat analogy, or metaphor, or both for ya'll to wrap your heads around.



Enjoy the moving lights and sounds,

Bp

Some problems in 'me guts

Just coming down from a fever over night, and some intestinal/stomach cramping. This is not leading me to want to write just yet. Am already feeling a bit better so posts should start up soon.

Enjoy your health, it's more fragile than you might expect,

Bp

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bhutto statement

Ok, just caught this over at Piglipstick [there is also a post about how a town in Vermont is considering arresting Bush and Cheney on sight for war crimes]. They are good internet hunters over there I tell you.

I was going to avoid talking about Bhutto's assassination, but when I saw this, I had to post it.

Scroll forward and listen to what she drops at 6:10 with utter nonchalance. I'm not going to speculate or rant or anything, I just thought it was important to point out.



Enjoy the continued revelations,

Bp

Unscheduled time

You know your life is running at too high a rev when you finally get unscheduled time, completely free time, and it kinda stresses you out. Is that stupid or what?

Owning a home, there is always a list of things to do. But now that the sink is in, there are no barn burners. Just stuff to get to whenever. I'm not sure it's that list that's getting to me.

I don't know what's getting to me, except possibly lack of sun. I've had a day or two of very self-directed, "work" free days. I did a bodywork trade with a friend of mine, she worked on me on Thursday and I her yesterday. That's always a good thing, it feels good for me to keep my skills up even though it's been many moons since I did that for a living.

My Qi Gong brother Matthew came over and we did some training together. He's at a stage in the abdominal training that requires a partner, so he comes over a couple times a week for me to train him, or train on him, or whatever you'd call that. It's a wild practice, and still very effective for both of us.

Today, I'm going over to a Redwind Elder's (she's going to kill me for calling her that) house to be an electrician for a few hours. It's a great thing to be able to offer the family. Although I expect I'll never work full time for a company again, it sure is a fantastic skill to have.

I have a few chores to do around the house, but otherwise I'm free. Free to do whatever I want with most of my day. And, just typing that tightens my shoulders... isn't that ridiculous?

Getting out to Stud Farmhand's place in Walla Walla is well timed it seems. I leave Monday. You know a trip is going to be good when fly fishing equipment is required, as well as hot tubbing equipment. Looks like I will get some coaching on how to shoot the shotguns I inherited from my Grandpa as well -- perfect. Hoping there will be some blazing sun to reset my Pineal gland, and this cabin fever will be a thing of the past.

Pootie just brought in a slimy section of root from the yard. He's warbling like he's caught something alive. I think he thinks it's a worm. He's a big worm hunter, and eater, out of the compost pile. Apparently the season is getting to him as well.

Enjoy your random seasonal moods,

Bp

Friday, December 28, 2007

Getting Rid of stuff in Portland 101

Ok, maybe it's not a 101 course, it's just the stops I'm happening to make today.

First stop: Rebuilding Center to drop off the old sink (because Craigslist free ads didn't work well over the holidays, like they normally do).

Next stop: Free Geek to drop off a box full of computer stuffs.

Near Free Geek, 3rd stop: Goodwill drive-through in SE industrial area.

Then bringing more choice clothes and books to: Village Merchants to consign them and pick up a small check from the last few loads. Making money by creating more space in the house = big thumbs up.

Enjoy getting rid of stuff,

Bp

I'm a wimp: impressions of I Am Legend

Since the movie deals with vampirish, light-hating cannibals, I already knew it would be a bit on the horror side of things for me. However, I wanted to see Will Smith wandering about in a human-less New York. I wanted to see how the movie makers pulled that off.

In that regard especially, I felt they did a dandy job. The details are great -- herds of deer running through the streets, the protagonist planting and harvesting corn, and the way he dealt with The Dark Seekers as well. All of that was very entertaining.

There are certain movie genres I avoid, because the imagery of real life can be just about enough for me, without other horrific stuff entering my brain. One of these genres is horror. Although I Am Legend isn't a horror movie (and Tony emphasized this fact after we left the movie, "that wasn't even close to a horror movie") there were those horror moments. Those dead-quiet, in-the-dark, suddenly-something-jumps-out moments. I'll cop here and now to the fact that I had my eyes closed for these. I don't want scary shit in my head, only interesting shit. Once the monsters were exposed and attacking, yeah whatever it's fake. But the gut-wrenching, jump out of your seat stuff I only heard. The sound engineering was enough to raise my heart rate.

A story unfolds, and by the end the movie wraps in a reasonable fashion. It's Hollywood, but not horribly so. Or at least it's Hollywood, but palatable enough.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie. In my book, I would say it's a beer-theater movie -- wouldn't feel a single twinge paying $3 to see it. For those with more specific tastes, I'm betting they'll dig it (Tate).

For me, C+ -- for sci-fi/horror fans, A-.

Here's a taste, in case you've been living under a rock for the last 4 months.



Enjoy your dark heroes,

Bp

Songs Stuck in my Head Series: Bruce Springsteeen -- Radio Nowhere

Considering I just saw I Am Legend last night, the song is topical at least. The thing is, I have no idea where I heard it to get it in my head, it just appeared a few days ago. Hell of a hook, of course, all of the songs stuck in my head have good hooks whether they are good songs or not.



Enjoy Bruce continuing to chug along,

Bp

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fleas vs. vacuumes


According to this Science Daily article, a study has shown that fleas are killed when vacuumed up. No pesticides, no muss no fuss. It worked so well that they did multiple trials because they couldn't believe the mortality rate at first.

A scant few adults will survive the trip(~4%), which I'd wager you could decimate by occasionally sucking up a couple tablespoons of Diatomaceous earth, which shreds up their skin and dessicates them. Charming thought I know, but it does work and I'm sure even better when inside a vacuum bag with high velocity winds to help it.

[photo credit in linked article]

Enjoy your new flea destruction information,

Bp

Saburo's, my friend, I'm sorry to tell you this

O.K., so I've been a Saburo's fan for years. I admit I have a loyalty thing, it lends prejudice in my decision making. I haven't ventured around much in the Portland Sushi scene since I discovered Saburo's. I loved the portion sizing, and even the notoriously grumpy waitress. It struck me as a New York experience, wait in line, get seated by a more-than-offputting server, and order ONE ORDER of sushi ONLY.

I can say, I never had a bad piece of fish there. Other folks have said the quality varied, but I personally never had that experience.

On the other hand, the quality and attention to detail and flavor of the sushi last night at Bara Sushi House beat the hell out of any sushi I've had yet in Portland. The company didn't hurt, Desta and her crew were great fun. It was Desta and The Wife's their first meeting, and it went very well, they enjoyed each other's company.

But the sushi was superb. The portions were traditionally sized, not Saburo's size (which, sadly, makes me realize how much of that grand size is made up of rice at times -- not always, but sometimes), and it's not a cheap meal. We spent about $30 a piece, and were being conservative. But it was worth it, every cent.

My favorite sushi are Hamachi and Unagi. I use them to judge sushi restaurants -- like I use Chili Rellenos to judge Mexican restaurants, or Pad Thai and Red Curry for Thai. The Hamachi last night was absolutely superb -- I've never had better. It was ultra fresh, buttery, just fantastic. I hear from some folks at the table that the way it's cut has a huge effect on how good it tastes. Bara cuts it right, apparently. The Unagi, barbecued fresh-water eel, was also just fantastic. It was barbecued til the fish was just slightly crisp on the edges, and not totally drowned in sauce. Really, really good.

The only criticism I can level from last night is that The Wife got a couple bones in her Unagi for some reason. She was bummed by the bones but not by the Unagi itself. She agrees that the flavor was not to be beat.

I will still go to Saburo's -- especially if I'm having that bizarre craving to "fill up" on sushi. Those two cravings shouldn't really go together in a sane world, but they occasionally do for me. But for a special night out, or a celebratory dinner, I'm hitting Bara's again. For now, in my experience (which isn't exhaustive), it's the best sushi in Portland hands down.

Enjoy your long-winded, early-morning, restaurant posts,

Bp

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Whale Sharks doing well in Australia


I grab every bit of good wildlife news I can find. This Discovery News article, reports that measures being taken to not only protect the whale sharks from fishermen, but also from tourist harassment are succeeding in Western Australia. I have had a dream of diving with, and catching a ride on, a Whale Shark ever since I was a kid. I understand why people want to touch and ride these guys, but how much better to ensure they come around and thrive by keeping a bit of respectful distance.

[photo credit in linked article]

Enjoy your leviathan kin,

Bp

Day after Xmas update

The sink is almost fully functional. My neighbor came by with some beers and stood around and chatted with me as I finalized the installation. Always a big help. Now, a ring of clear caulk around the faucet base and the sink and it's a done deal.

Finally.

Eventually I'll be heading up to Stud Farmhand's 'stead in Walla Walla, probably for some fishing. We may kill some clay pigeons as well (though I hear he is a clay pigeon supporter, so I may need to ask delicately). I'm looking forward to getting out of town, I can't seem to slow down and catch a breath while I'm in the house, and I desperately want to catch a breath before school starts up again.

I will be meeting up with another local blogger in the next few days as well, which will be cool. Matt and I haven't met face to face yet, but it may happen over this Xmas break too [no pressure Matt I know you're busy].

Addendum: Almost forgot, going out with a lovely local body arts celebrity and a few friends tonight, for a private room in her favorite sushi place. She swears it beats Saburo's, but I am reserving judgment. I am one of the gauche westerners who actually likes the huge portion sizing at Saburo's. D. is of the opinion that small sizes are traditional and tastier. We shall see, we shall see.

More later, I have a plumbing apocalypse to clean up.

Enjoy the quiet after the storm,

Bp

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ahh, X-mas eve

Big John is over, cooking chicken soup. The Wife is sewing a drum bag out of Pendleton Wool Ends, and I'm trying for the 3rd time to get the drains in the sink to set in the putty correctly, so they won't leak.

I don't drink much or often. But I think I'll down a few this evening, you know, in the holiday spirit.

At least I have good folks in the house as I work.

Enjoy those who have your back,

Bp

Trip #4

At least this materials run is back to the local hardware/plumbing outlet, instead of Home Despot. I know I probably pay more at Aboy, but I dont' care.

At this point, the water delivery is working fine, but I have a drain problem caused by the fact that the sink is 2nd hand. In yet another instance, the folks who removed this sink did me no favors, and I have to replace another part unexpectedly.

Enjoy your plumbing-free day,

Bp

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Demetri Martin in Central Park -- humor antidote

I thought this guy was one of the "singing" guitar comics, so blew him off. My friend had me watch this today, and now I see that the guitar is just something to do as he delivers lines. Hang with him, he gets better the longer he goes. His style reminds me of Steven Wright. Some humor to alleviate all the bitching that will ensue due to the plumbing project.

An example (paraphrase really): "I think tree houses are very insensitive. That's like killing thing, then making their friend hold it."



Enjoy your plumbing diversions,

Bp

Songs Stuck in my Head Series: Tegan and Sara -- Back in Your Head

Warning, this may get stuck in your head. If you like the band, then go for it and listen away.

You've been warned.



Enjoy your pop hooks,

Bp

Tackling a small twisted metal behemoth

At least I feel like I'm tackling a monster. Today, I do plumbing. Yes me, the ex-electrician, ex ex carpenter -- finally buckling down and doing some plumbing.

I am willfully ignorant of plumbing. Insisting that since it's one of the only things I haven't done on a residential house (HVAC is the other) I wanted it to be one of those things we "just pay for." If I remained ignorant of how to do it, the theory went, then I wouldn't be asked to do it. This held up until we had a leaky antique faucet in the bathroom, which The Wife decided she'd fix. She came and got me when it was all torn to hell and spread (very logically, like someone fixing a carburetor) all over the bathroom floor. That fix took 4-5 trips to the parts store and as many phone calls to relatives.

But you see, we are in absolutely no position to hire a plumber to do that right now, and our kitchen faucet is "fixed" with tight wraps of masking tape. It has busted on the neck and sprays a fine spray of water all over the place every time it's used if the masking tape isn't there.

Oh, it's dandy looking right now -- real Clampitts kinda look, reaaaal classy.

So I'm going to start early and try to knock it off today. Going to get materials (in all honesty I'm planning on 4-5 trips, I'm a rank amateur) is going to be the "funnest" part -- oh yeah, Home Despot the Sunday before x-mas, yeah, that's gonna be great.

The Wife had me buy a sink off the neighbor when he removed it from his perfectly new kitchen. It is still here, a year and a half later, and will be part of this repair, I'll throw it in as well.

Ok /bitching off --

I'll shut up now.

Enjoy your up-to-date and functional plumbing,

Bp

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Writer's Strike: XKCD style

Got a snicker out of this one:


[click to enlarge]


Enjoy your fellow web geeks,

Bp

Lakotah Sioux secede from U.S.

You probably heard that the Lakotah Nation is seceding from the U.S. They hold, very legally, that since all the treaties that were used to establish the "indian lands" have been broken on the U.S. government side, they are null and void. Makes legal sense -- anyone knows a contract no longer holds if one party boges out on it. In fact, and I'd love for someone to check me on this info, every single treaty that the U.S. has made with a first nation has been broken in some form or another.

I have no idea how this will play out, but it seems completely reasonable to me. What the Lakotah will do to recover from the cultural and literal genocide once they have their own nation will be quite a story as well. They are in a tough spot.

But here's a twist. Putin is reported to be ready to acknowledge them, in retribution for the White House stance on Kosovo. Genius. Talk about unexpected allies.

[Thanks to Piglipstick for finding that extra winger on the story.]

Enjoy your inter, intra-national news,

Bp

Friday, December 21, 2007

Remembering Solstice

Consider giving a moment to the fact that we're tipping over into another 1/4 of the season now. This isn't a Hallmark Holiday, it's real -- the skies reflect it, the sun reflects it. It's the Darkest dark, longest night, the sun turning around to return home, all of that. Can be a good time to think about your life and the year coming, or just go out side and take one, good, conscious breath.

Enjoy your naturally provided holidays,

Bp

Rock Steady -- an Aretha Remix

Been busy as hell today, but didn't want to neglect folks -- so here's some dancing to keep you amused til I have time to research and/or write. I would have preferred an original version of this song, without the remix element, but once I started watching the video collage, I couldn't stop. Some totally rocking outfits and dance moves and retro awesomeness.



Enjoy your dancing 70's and 80's brethren,

Bp

Thursday, December 20, 2007

T. and I Kickin' it old-school...

Real old school, like -- in the 3rd Grade Old School.

T. is far left, second row from the bottom -- I'm far right on the same row. Stripes, apparently, were in that year.

Sociological note: All the kids who ended up being gay (were later revealed to be gay, how the hell do you say this right... anyway, there are 5 in this photo) can be connected one to another in a continuous line. Meaning, are standing together.

[bigger version available via click]

Enjoy your personal prehistory,

Bp

Our next big food cultivar: Yacon


I was introduced to Yacon by Carolyn, a good friend of Patrick Gracewood's. She tends her vegetable garden at his studio space, and is a big fan of the plant. Yacon is a South American plant that readily grows in Oregon. It produces tubers that are not only tasty and easy to store (just store in the cellar in boxes full of sawdust -- will last all winter), but are reported to have multiple health benefits, not the least of which is stabilizing blood sugar levels.

When we heard of a tuber vegetable someone was excited for us to try in our garden, we were all skeptical. Our last experience with this kind of talk involved Sunchokes, or Jerusalem Artichokes. An old roommate of ours told us these would be great garden vegetables, producing big tall flowers as well as tasty food. The tubers, when steaming hot and buttered, were pretty good. But once they cooled the "odd" aspect of their flavor became so pronounced they were all but inedible. This same strong flavor dominated any dish you tried to introduce them into. We tried to remove the patch we had, and had to re-remove these pernicious plants for 2 more seasons before they were all the way gone.

So, we were skeptical about the Yacon. Carolyn showed me her stand in N.E. and the foliage was really dandy. The plants were tall and vigorous, and provided a nice screen along one side of her garden. She offered some of the tubers for us to taste test, and sure enough they were as billed -- like Jicama, only better. Crisp, very sweet, and juicy -- they immediately got the thumbs up from T. and The Wife. So now we just need to find a spot to put them.

If anyone out there has grown them I'd like to hear your stories. I'll report back as we introduce them into our garden this season.

[picture was grabbed from this commercial Yacon site -- show your love and check it out, they provide the photo and I'll provide a bit of traffic for them]

Enjoy your exotic, utilitarian, medicinal plants,

Bp

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Converting CO2 emissions into fuel

Some excellent news on the technology front -- there is a new device that can convert greenhouse gas emissions into hydrogen fuels. Here is a link to the article in Discovery News that talks about a promising new invention that uses sunlight to help convert CO2 emissions into fuel. Another nice thing about this discovery was that it was developed on U.S. soil -- at the Sandia National Labs in Albequerque, New Mexico. Good to see some innovation in the States.

Smokestacks creating hydrogen fuel for emission-less power generation? Would be nice wouldn't it.

Speaking of greenhouse gas emissions, we replaced our Subaru Outback with.... a Subaru Outback. What can I say it was a great car at a good price -- variety can be over-rated (especially by the imminently middle-aged, apparently).

We will continue to reduce our use of the car, and this little period of transition has shown us ways to make that even easier. The Wife, for one, has figured out a simple public transit route to work. She found it a refreshing change, and not a burden as she might have expected.

Thanks for the family support we received during our little financial hiccup, you know who you are, it was invaluable in every case.

Enjoy your relationship with combustion,

Bp

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Einstein quote

I come across good quotes all the time, but this one just struck a chord in me that made me want to share it.

"The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe." - Albert Einstein



Enjoy your next breath,

Bp

Stop the MF'n presses: Peter Jackson has signed on to produce The Hobbit

Geeks and nerds, dorks and dweebs everywhere -- let us drop our heads, and take a moment of silence in thanks... Peter MF'n Jackson is going to make the MF'n HOBBIT!

Thank God.

You know, it just had to be done. The universe was set atilt by the LOTR movies, and it needed The Hobbit to set it right again.

And now we have it.

The Wife's gonna freak out.

Enjoy your earth-shattering revelations,

Bp

Edit/Addendum: A few more links about the subject: E news online, the grandest of fansites theonering.com, the NYT talks about fan pressure before the deal was done. Ok I'll stop now.

Belly Rubbin' Music -- an explanation

A dear friend of mine emailed a ?? back to me when I used the term Belly Rubbin' Music in our correspondence. I was referring to Otis Redding in the email, and hopefully the embedded video below will illustrate at least some of what I mean.

The Wife and I use terms that we made up ourselves for so long, we forget that other people don't use these terms. I got the term Belly Rubbin' Music from one of my parents, I don't know which one. The Wife picked it up from me.

BRM spans decades, and covers different genres and epochs of music, as well as different levels of musical talent. Not all BRM is good music, but it doesn't have to be, it just has to have that special something, that something that means grab your mate and get sultry. Some examples of BRM performers are Barry White, Al Green, and Luther Vandross. BRM is by no means restricted to these performers, but they are stand-outs in the field. There are new artists trying to pull off the simple animal magnetism that these previous performers can induce, but I'm not sure any of them do it.

R & B crooner singing a slow dance would be one way to define the term -- but I'm betting that's way too specific. Not all BRM singers are considered R & B. Something you would put on the turntable to accompany lit candles, some incense, and baby-making is a better definition.

Yes it is an imprecise term -- and the dear friend I'm referring to abhors imprecision, so I beg his accommodation on this issue.



Enjoy your own made-up languages,

Bp

Monday, December 17, 2007

What to write about, and why

I've spent a lot of time today thinking about what is appropriate to blog, and why. Much of what has happened with me in the last few days have just been too personal to be blog material: family finances, spiritual/religious work, working some issues out in my marriage, etc.

This led me to wonder what the lines are about "bloggability" and how I've set them.

I know that talking about spiritual work (for example) seems on the one hand fine and on the other complicated. I talk a bit about Qi Gong, but that practice can easily be interpreted to be a "health" pursuit -- the way many people view Tai Chi or Yoga. And talking about the sweat lodge (inipi) or any of the other Lakotah ceremonies we participate in begs so much discussion and back-story that I often just pass over those opportunities.

I will probably do a post about blood-quantum and Lakotah ceremonies, but that is some seriously touchy stuff, which might be best left for face to face discussion. I just haven't decided as of yet.

I like writing whenever I can create humor out of a situation. I love humor in many forms, and I think it's eminently healthy. Maybe I've just had a few humorless days, and what would have been perfectly bloggable last week seems a bit flat today.

There's always crappy world situations to blog about... research teams in Antarctica having "beach parties" in shorts and t-shirts because it's so warm, and then getting burned all to hell because of the lack of ozone; a worrying trend in U.S. policing where severe overkill and violence are used in response to easy-to-solve situations; food prices getting jacked by agri-business and their damned lobbying, mixed with "terminator" seeds that keep farmers from being able to gather their own seed for the next year. That list goes on and on, and just didn't feel like stuff I wanted to get into today.

It seems, some days, that it would be easier if I had no thought whatsoever about what goes out onto the blog and just write about absolutely everything in my life. It would definitely up the quantity of writing here some of the time, but as some famous professional bloggers know, there are lines are best uncrossed (she lost her job over a blog).

There are so many stories generated by our street full of interesting, intelligent, weird, and culturally diverse neighbors that I just pass over for fear of inadvertently souring one of these relationships. I'm known to occasionally share completely inappropriate information -- the main story being how I inadvertently outed someone as gay by making the bad assumption that if I had known for years, surely their parents did too. That's not a feeling I'd like to repeat, frankly.

So instead of finding an actual subject, I'll contemplate my navel publicly -- that passes, doesn't it?

Enjoy candor wherever you can find it,

Bp

I love targeted advertising

I watch the adwords "targeted" advertising at the top of the page, and occasionally get a giggle out of it. Today's (as pointed out to me by Stud Farmhand) is particularly good.

How did meth treatment and brain booster supplements get on there? Is there something you aren't telling me, reading audience? Do we need to talk?



Enjoy The Man trying to figure out your schtick,

Bp

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kontroll: sleeper review

This is a classy little sleeper of a directorial debut. If you are into camerawork and cinematography, I highly suggest it. If you are into interesting foreign films, I would suggest it also. [I didn't originally mention, it's a rental -- not in theaters]

The story is about ticket checkers in the underground subways beneath Budapest. But, especially towards the end, you realize it could be a dream, or a bardo. In that regard there are hints of Jacob's Ladder in the movie. There are also some stylistic choices that remind me of Donnie Darko.

The director allows himself so little to work with... simple set of characters, limited range of settings (cinematic though, very cinematic settings), and not much information given to the viewer -- and yet maintains tension and interest throughout the movie. I was impressed by this.

It may knock your socks off (if you are a serious cinephile who counts classiness very high in a movie's favor) but more than likely it would provide an interesting diversion some evening. I give it a B-. Not for everyone, it's very European in that it hints more than explains, which to me can work if done correctly, but some find maddening.



Enjoy your new European directors,

Bp

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Speaking of Opera

Here is a sexual harassment opera, based on the transcripts of conversations with Bill O'Reilly of all things. I don't know where Little Thom found this, but I freaking love it. And, it fits with the opera talk lately.

[Be aware, it's explicit, probably pg-13, maybe R]

Enjoy your classical renditions of irony,

Bp

Friday, December 14, 2007

Top 9 posts ever [for now]

A friend asked me if I had looked into which were the all time favorite posts so far on the blog. The thing is, it changes all the time. I use Google Analytics to snoop in on my own site for stuff like this. Below are the top 9 posts right now [the first in the list is always some weird thing that doesn't make sense to me, so y'all get 9]. This list changes radically all the time, and there are some weird surprises in here. Strange the responses that worldwide search engines will give ya.

Every time I check the list I can make up little theories in my head about why this and that show up, but really I don't trust them. It's a real crap shoot. For months on end the biggest content on my site was my first post that mentioned Aikido. Whyso? Hell if I know.

1. The artist introduction on Walton Ford.
2. Building top-bar bee hives.
3. Report from the computer lab: Cher just walked by.
4. Little dudes post on Jerboa.
5. Ron Paul on the Demented Philosophy of Conquest.
6. Condom fashion show in Beijing.
7. Beloved Sitka Spruce succumbs to storm.
8. How to start picking wild edible mushrooms.
9. Burts Bees ad regarding Colony Collapse Disorder.

Enjoy your own, personal forms of civilian espionage,

Bp

ZeFrank: Bust that Cycle

Been a while since I posted some ZeFrankiness. This one is about busting cycles, shaking up your life a bit. Of course, that's not all it's about, and it get strange, but what would ZeFrank be without the strange.



Enjoy your throwback internet v-log postings,

Bp

Waking up to Pavarotti

This morning, I slept in. Like, I really slept in. It was amazing -- but that's for another post.

When I came downstairs, T. (who often has Friday's off) was watching The Three Tenors -- big, bombastic operatic virtuosity. This was a performance where Domingo, Carreras And Pavarotti all performed in one night. They did multiple pieces, and it was all about perfection, testosterone, and showmanship.

T. has taken up Opera and Baroque Music study and appreciation lately. He still loves political underground hip hop and R & B divas, but the European traditions are where he spends most of his time. I think his European blood is finally insisting itself upon him.

So, I stood around in my robe and we kibitzed at the screen as the tenors did their thing. It's all so over the top, we just don't have anything in America that is analogous. Pavaroti with his little white hankie, praying before he sings, standing so magnanimous yet proud as he takes in the adoration of the crowd. Oh the drama, I tell you.

Tait would just suddenly start cracking up as one of the guys busted a sustained note and collapsed down into a bow for the crowd, "I love it, it's just sooo over the top I love it!"

I wish I could re-create the kibitzing and peanut-gallery commentary, but it's that in the moment kind of humor that's hard to relate after the fact. We'd make comments like "see, here he's giving the audience a rest. He's riding them like a horse, you got to give a horse some time at the water trough or you are going to wear them out." Or, when they raised their hands to receive the adulation of the crowd after a performance, we'd say "it really is this big, yes -- it's not just the voice ladies, it's the penis, it is THIS BIG, it's true."

It went on and on.

Anyway, here is a taste of the show (we got it on Netflix). I'm no opera fan, but in just a few minutes I could tell Pavaroti was the master, the absolute pole star of this art form. It's not my style music but I know good when I see it. Plus, watching anything that occasionally throws T. into uncontrollable fits of laughter and rolling around is worth my time.



Enjoy virtuosity, wherever you happen to find it,

Bp

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Project Hamad has good news!

The guantanamo detainee that sparked the whole project, Adel Hamad, is home in Sudan. His name isn't cleared yet, and he will be pursuing that, but he is with his family. The Project update is below.

-------
to: Members of Project Hamad


Dear Bpaul,

We finally have some great news to report. Adel Hamad is back in Sudan. Over two years after being cleared for transfer, Adel Hamad has finally arrived in Khartoum and was immediately released and allowed to reunite with his family. Earlier this week the U.S. government had announced the transfer of 15 Guantanamo detainees, two of them Sudanese. The Sudanese government believed that one of those detainees would be Adel Hamad but we had no confirmation that indeed he was on that plane until this morning. William Teesdale, his legal counsel from the Federal Public Defenders Office of Oregon, should be talking to him within the next hour or two.

We at Project Hamad want to thank everyone for your efforts and for keeping hope alive.

We will post again soon about the implications of Hamad's release. His lawyers hope to press the U.S. government to still give Adel Hamad his new CSRT hearing so he can truly clear his name. And we must remember that Adel is only one of many detainees cleared for transfer long ago, but who remain in legal limbo at Guantanamo. Adel Hamad's downstairs neighbor in Pakistan, Ameur Mammar, detainee #939, is just one of many examples. Lets keep them in our hearts while we celebrate Hamad's release.

We will write again soon. In the meantime, follow the progress on our blog.

Thanks,

David, Ben and Laura
Project Hamad
http://projecthamad.org

If this blog wasn't on some watchlist already, it sure as shit is now. C'est La Vie.

Enjoy the victories,

Bp

Meth labs still exist in our neighborhood, barely

This is an excerpt from the crime prevention e-newsletter I receive. One perk from being a neighborhood watch coordinator. The bold text I found particularly interesting. I have heard the legislation requiring prescriptions for pseudoephedrine (as annoying as it is for most folks) was effective in nearly eliminating production in Portland, but that the labs just moved to Mexico where they produced even stronger product. Great to have the labs gone, too bad demand is high enough to create a whole new production/distribution structure.

--------------

2. Methamphetamine Lab Bust in Southeast Portland
From Multnomah County Sheriff’s Information Office:
At 12:30PM on 11/29/07, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Special Investigations Unit seized a large methamphetamine manufacturing lab as a result of a search warrant service at 3622 SE 49th in Portland. The search warrant was obtained as a result of an ongoing investigation that the MCSO SIU team had been conducting, regarding distribution and possession of methamphetamine. The Multnomah County Drug Lab Response Team was called in to mitigate the hazards associated with the lab and process the lab evidence for prosecution.
At the residence they discovered an amount of finished methamphetamine, 35 lbs of elemental iodine (essential methamphetamine manufacturing chemical), 6 lbs of red phosphorous (essential methamphetamine manufacturing chemical), a large quantity of other meth manufacturing chemicals, a 38 caliber pistol, 22 caliber rifle with silencer and a 22 caliber pistol with a silencer.
Deputies arrested the resident, Berardinelli, Ted Wayne (6/16/52) on the following charges:
1. Manufacturing a controlled substance (meth) w/in 1000 feet of a school.
2. Distribution of a controlled substance (meth) w/in 1000 feet of a school.
3. Possession of a controlled substance (meth).
4. Three counts of ex-con in possession of a firearm.
5. Two counts of unlawful possession of silencers.
Berardinelli has been lodged in the Multnomah County Detention Center on the listed charges.
Although this is only the third meth lab the Multnomah County Drug Lab Response Team has processed this year (prior to current pseudoephedrine legislation we processed 40 to 60 per year) this event demonstrates that some meth labs still exist in the community and citizens still should be diligent regarding behavior associated with such activity.
Contact Info:
Lt. Jason Gates
Acting Public Information Officer
Multnomah County Sheriff's Office
Office: 503-251-2451

Enjoy your lab-free neighborhoods,

Bp

Quote from my current reading: Annie Dillard

Here is a paragraph out of the book I'm reading, Annie Dillard's Teaching a Stone to Talk. She has just spotted a weasel for the first time, and is describing it.

Weasel! I had never seen one wild before. he was ten inches long, thin as a curve, a muscled ribbon, brown as fruitwood, soft-furred, alert. His face was fierce, small and pointed as a lizard's; he would have made a good arrowhead. There was just a dot of chin, maybe two brown hairs' worth, and then the pure white fur began that spread down his underside. He had two black eyes I did not see, any more than you see a window.


There are more outrageous or esoteric quotes to pick, but that one caught me by the directness of her language, her varied use of sentence structure, and the unusual analogies she makes.

Enjoy your literary heroes,

Bp

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sociological impact of changing cars, the Dude-nod

So I'm driving around a borrowed truck that a kind friend lent me. It's a diesel, full sized Ford, raised high enough that I see the roofs of most SUV's. It is a big bastard.

In one day of driving, I've received no less than 3 Dude-nods, and 2 Old-guy mini-waves. I never got these driving a Subaru outback.

The Dude-nods came from mid-30's working types, rough work clothes, also in trucks. A couple occured in a Home Despot (no that isn't a typo) parking lot. At first I didn't know what was going on, but then I realized -- it was the truck.

Next were the old-guy mini-waves. Maybe you've seen this, the four-fingers raised off the steering wheel in acknowledgment of a courtesy. The old-guy normally has over-sized glasses on, probably a blue baseball cap and an ill-fitting vest of some sort -- either Carhart or down. You let them in the lane of traffic, and they give the mini-wave. I never got the mini-wave when I drove the Subaru, and I didn't drive any differently. I let folks into traffic, and abided (abode?) turn signals, and stopped with plenty of room so pedestrians knew it was safe to cross. But never did I get the Dude-nod or the Old-guy mini-wave.

Who knew.

Enjoy your random sociological realizations,

Bp

You know, I always thought the whole "cell phone, gasoline, boom" was B.S.

Apparently not. I guess not all safety measures are fear-mongering, liability-inspired hoo-haw. (If you aren't feeling patient, forward to about 1:00).


http://view.break.com/415848 - Watch more free videos

[via Portland Mercury Blog]

Enjoy your new safety tips,

Bp

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Crafternoon" photos

Crafts are an important part of the culture around here. The Wife and her little clan of crafters get together on alternating weeks and have a "knitting circle" called Crafternoon. Most of the crafts folks are doing involve leather and beads, and there is a group gift project that lots of folks are working on. I've tried to make the photos so that details of this gift aren't given away.


So, the first photo is just the state of the living room during crafternoons -- notice the cheese popcorn, and the oolong tea set. Classic.


The second picture is our friend working on a snazzy stick-constructed bead loom.















Third is a picture of another friend of ours, and oft-commenter on the blog, working on a new-fangled bead loom.





This last picture shows the incredible work our friend does -- he's been working on this deerskin bag for over a year, a little at a time. I'll have to get some photos of it when he's finished, it's just amazing.

Enjoy the excuses to hang out with your friends,

Bp

So much hate for Venezuela's Chavez

When Chavez and Venezuela's nationalized oil company does things like this -- how can the U.S. corporate neo-fascist beltway jerks support them... I mean, help the poor? Over profits? PLEASE.

Little Dudes: Euchoreutes naso -- Long-eared Jerboa

This little dude was filmed for the first time recently by a team working in the Gobi Desert. This BBC news article has a nice writeup as well as a number of short videos showing these guys hopping around. It's outlandishly cute, so be warned. Shout out to my two secret BBC sources for simultaneously tipping me off to this article within an hour of each other.


The animal looks to be in many ways similar to the Kangaroo Rat of North America (Dipodomys californicus, for example) to which it is a close relation. They both have this outrageously long tail, which begs questions about its function. Since they both move primarily by hopping, maybe it relates to that.

The ears remind me of another North American desert mammal, the Kit Fox. But the Fennec Fox of Africa has an even closer ear/body ratio as the Jerboas in the BBC article. Many desert animals use big ears as radiators to cool off their blood, and others because the desert lends itself to nocturnal behavior and ears are a huge asset there.

Have decided to make the "little dudes" an official label and post type on the blog, so look for them in the future.

Enjoy the earth's esoteric taxonomies,

Bp

Monday, December 10, 2007

Report from Institute Headquarters -- Golden Shield Qi Gong

I haven't talked about my Qi Gong practice much, because there isn't a lot I can say that conveys the experience of it. It's subtle, and strange, and hard for me to put into words. The effects are obvious, but the practice itself is quiet and personal.

For those of you who haven't seen the original postings, I practice Jingui Golden Shield Qi Gong. Originally it was a guarded temple-style Qi Gong, held only by a few adherents at a time. Now it is taught openly in the United States. Dan Pappas is the instructor for the Portland chapter of the Jingui school. He's an approachable and encouraging instructor for the students here.

There are martial applications for this practice, namely the ability to be protected from physical harm to the body. These are benefits of the beginning levels of the practice, but not the primary focus. Primarily the results of practice are a healthier, more resilient constitution, and a greater amount of sustained energy throughout the day. I can definitely vouch for that, pulling ridiculous hours during the school term, and yet not getting dragged down nearly as badly as I used to. I've almost stopped going to acupuncture to help me deal with the bad conditions I create while in school -- not eating right, not sleeping enough, and stress. I didn't intend to stop going, it just kind of faded from lack of need. Or, to be more accurate, lack of catastrophic need. I could always use some acupuncture, just like I could always use some bodywork. It's never a bad day for a massage.

O.K. the room is warm enough to start training, I'll be back with ya'll tomorrow. I have a great animal to introduce for the Random Biological Tidbit that two of my BBC-o-phile friends turned me on to.

Enjoy your winter break, such as it is,

Bp

Didgeridoo cures snoring?

You never know what you are going to run into while surfing the web. I can't even remember my trackback to this video which explains how Didgeridoo playing cures sleep apnea, but their assertions seems solid [if you don't have a DivX web player, use this link to download one, I don't trust the link provided by the movie site]. The Didgeridoo basically strengthens muscles in the throat (and nose?) and keeps you from snoring. I may have to get myself a Didj.

It would be a good excuse to visit my international bachelor-extordinaire friend who lives in a geodesic dome on Vashon island. He plays Didj quite well and could give me lessons. Always good to have a reason to visit the Puget Sound, it's beautiful out there.

When I mentioned this to T. over breakfast, he said "and playing Didjeridoo, like snoring, is best done alone. Remember that."

Enjoy your nocturnal (noise) emissions,

Bp

Falling

There's been some falling going on. Hearing about healthy people in their mid 30's falling doesn't have the same affect as hearing "grandma fell" -- but it's amazing how badly they can go even when you are young and healthy.

The Wife lost her footing on some ice-slicked stairs last night, hurting her wrist and hip. We're all glad she didn't hit her Coccyx, which has a tendency to break under these circumstances. She's a bit gimpy but the Arnica homeopathics are working quite well already. She of course fell on the same side as an old injury, as we all know old (and new) injuries are magnetic, and attract further damage.

The old injury was from a 27' fall she took in college while up in a scissor lift hanging theater lights. She fell onto rows of theater chairs "in the only way possible not to end up with at least multiple broken bones or more likely paralyzed" to paraphrase the doctors. Nothing was broken but it took years of physical therapy to get her body to settle back into a workable state, she was a solid bruise from neck to ankles.

This experience has erased in her the desire to ride roller coasters and other carnival rides that involve heights.

This last year T. took a strange and expensive fall as well. He was in the Pearl, unloading some delicate cargo out of the back of his car. The only spot he could find was right at a street tree, so the door and angle and tree created a bizarre spot for him to unload his stuff. He turned in a strange way, his foot went out, and he went down, shattering his cargo all over the place and dislocating his kneecap. Boom, just like that, immobilized. When I arrived we tried to splint it up so we could lift him to get him into our car, and the pain was so intense he went gray and shocky looking. We were forced to call an ambulance. It took two doses of some zippy new intravenous pain medication (one of the paramedics leaned over and said into T.'s ear in a strangely gleeful way "this stuff is brand new, let us know what you think"), a space-age inflatable splint, and 4 paramedics to get him up into the gurney.

The dislocation ended up being something the doctor could "reduce" right in the E.R.. We had T. home and getting home-visit from acupuncturist Jon Schell within a couple hours. With intensive acupuncture, he made his flight to India not 10 days later, and had no problems with his knee the whole trip. It was amazing how fast the acupuncture worked to stitch him back up.

And now to go wrestle with banks and insurance agencies to arrange for a replacement car.

Enjoy your working and pain free limbs,

Bp

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Ron Paul on the "demented philosophy of conquest"

It's too bad Ron Paul is so extreme in some of his personal views, because the grand majority of his political views I agree with. Feels weird to type that, but it's true. He keeps talking straight to the sacred lies held by both parties -- he points out that the "war on terror" is just wordplay to justify endless war; that the Federal Reserve prints money with no backing, thereby taxing through inflation; that income tax would be unnecessary if the government would get the hell out of other countries' business and tend to its own; the list goes on and on.

Here's a little bit of him, it took me forever to find a couple decent videos to show, but if you cruise a bit you may find some surprisingly honest and frank discussions coming out of his mouth. And then, every once and a while, some good ol' fashioned Texas religious fundamentalism and thinly veiled bigotry. A shame really, because most everything else his platform is built on is absolutely reasonable. Some folks excluded from his personal worldview support him anyway because of the clarity of his politics and the respect in the individual those politics support.

Ron Paul in Congress, "Terrorism is a tactic, you can't have a war against a tactic."



Chris Matthews gives me the creeps, but this is a great interview:



Enjoy the insiders who are speaking out,

Bp

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cool blog: A woman and her Coyote (and her tomcat)


The Daily Coyote is a blog out of Wyoming, where a woman is chronicling and photographing raising a little coyote pup to adulthood. She's a hell of a photographer, actually. A nice surprise of a site.

[via, of all places, the Portland Mercury Blog]

Enjoy the stories, however they come,

Bp

Strong Tea -- Keith Olbermann on the newest B.S.

When The Wife saw me watching this not long after waking up, she said "you drink some strong tea in the morning, don't ya."

Sometimes I do I guess.

I have some comments, but I'll let this video ride on it's own merits. Olbermann's righteous indignation can give one a nice, warm feeling, wouldn't want to diminish it with my own commentary.



[via The Quiet Pool]

Enjoy the disruption of the propaganda machine,

Bp

Friday, December 7, 2007

Oregon Shrimpers first in the world to receive International Certification

In an awesome bit of news, the Oregonian reports that Oregon shrimpers have been certified by the international Marine Stewardship Council for their sustainable and eco-friendly fishing methods.

Does this mean there is no damage from their shrimping? No, but it does mean they are trying, give a shit, and are working to find a balance that for fishermen and the resource itself. Bycatch is a horrendous problem with the shrimping industry, so anything done to eliminate it is fantastic in my book.

I was going to include a picture of bycatch from shrimping, but found it too disturbing/depressing to force upon ya'll.

So, any Oregonians reading this need to know that there will be a blue label on Oregon-caught shrimp now. If you choose to buy it, you will not only be buying local but also supporting an industry that's trying to go in the right direction.

Enjoy the incremental improvements,

Bp

Beowulf in 3D, a trashing

Holy hell this movie was bad. It had its moments, but they were few and far between and the ... foibles, the... missteps were so egregious and common that they became the standard element of the film.

At times the animation was quite breathtaking, cool panning shots and close ups on faces especially. But the makers insisted on trying to add depth to the story by having these Computer Animated characters act. Sorry, unless you have the team that put together Golem working on every character in the movie, it just ain't going to happen. They over reached.

It started making me wonder whether there is some predictable curve you could plot that if a movie has over a certain budget, the suckier it becomes. Pirates 3 had a huge budget, and it absolutely sucked rocks.

The best thing about these huge budget fantasy/sci fi movies is their trailers. Maybe that's the new theory in Hollywood, if it makes a good trailer and has enough stars in it it will make money, so all's well.

I had more to say about how hyperbole is fine, especially in movies depicting the big, old myths -- but that the hyperbolic "detail" in this one was just over the top. He fights his enemy naked for instance -- who gives a shit (other than Tate, who would probably appreciate that scene, despite many carefully-placed scrotal covers).

Men yelling about what they're going to do seems a big theme too, in this movie and in 300. Another movie, come to think of it, that looks best in the trailers, that takes an overblown myth that could have made a decent movie and makes it suck by including ideological undertones that makes one want to puke.

A hint to the movie makers, when using one of the old stories -- one that includes father/son conflict, and seduction by power, and selling your soul to the devil -- don't try to modernize it. Don't try to "make it relevant today." By its nature it's already relevant, it appeals to deep psychology, just leave it the eff alone and it will work fine.

Neil Gaiman was one of the writers on this project, and that gave me hope it would be cleanly put together and relevant, but it didn't save the movie unfortunately. I'll bet because of the enormous money surrounding the movie, he was just hog-tied as an artist. "It's got to go by the book, or we won't make our money back."

This post was supposed to be short, whups.

Here's the r-rated trailer for Beowulf, it at least touches on the best moments of the movie and might be a better use of your time than watching the movie itself, even in 3D.

By the way, the dragon near the end is quite great. Again, not great enough to save the movie, but it is dandy for sure.



Enjoy avoiding enormous wastes of your time,

Bp

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Guy Ritchie movie coming out -- Revolver Trailer

I tend to like Guy Ritchie movies, and I like Jason Statham despite some of his egregious choices of parts, so I'm looking forward to this movie, despite some less-than-glowing reviews. If it keeps getting canned, I may wait to see it in a $3 beer theatre, but I'll probably see it nonetheless. [yikes, addendum/edit: looks like it may be stinkier than I at first hoped. Definitely a beer theatre movie.]

Here's the trailer for it, called Revolver.



Enjoy the trailer, if nothing else,

Bp

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Looking for car advice

So it looks like Geico has decided our little rubazu was a total loss. Now we have 5 days of rental car to find a replacement.

I don't yet know what money they're going to give us for this car, but we need to find a replacement. I wanted to ask ya'll's advice.

We need:

room for 4-5
decent mileage (ideally fantastic mileage)
roof rack
generous trunk
abs breaks

Things subaru had that we don't absolutely need:
all wheel drive
lots of bells and whistles (leather seats, side mirror defrost, etc)

We're open to all ideas.

When we had more money we were considering either a Prius or an extended cab truck. Kind of opposite ends of the spectrum though, one has mineage the other gets us into the woods easier. We're still split on the horns of that dilemna. I'm thinking a 2x4 truck with some clearance and extended cab might be the best of all worlds, room for people but still able to get out into the woods. Rarely have I needed 4x4, but often I need clearance.

Anyway, fire away any suggestions you can think of. Also, if you are in Portland area, let us know where you think it would be good to look for cars too.

I'll work on getting back on track for studying now, blah. Was hoping just to get the Rubazu back.

Enjoy what you can,

Bp

ps/addendum: So far I'm looking at foresters and Toyota matrix. I don't think we'll be able to get a car without taking on payments so I've succumbed to that idea and am willing to pay more than we get, but not a ton more.

California "winter" on Geese Aplenty

Geese Aplenty is a blog I somehow stumbled up on a few months ago. The guy occasionally posts real gems of writing, and today's was particularly good. For anyone who has lived in California or has visited there during the winter, you will be able to relate.

The post is about California and its "winter."

Here's some of the post:

California has no idea what real seasons are, and it will never know because it’s separated from them by thousands of miles. It has no idea that elsewhere in the country, the leaves turn so bright and vivid that they look as though they’re on fire. It doesn’t know that if you stand in a certain place at just the right time, the air smells of apple cinnamon. It doesn’t know that when the storms start to hit, the days become as hard and cold as a runway model’s face.


Enjoy those random strangers with whom you share untoward hobbies,

Bp

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Zoological tidbits and definitions

OK we are studying together, I'm going to type up some random interesting or unexpected zoological tidbits as I study for my Vertebrate Zoology final this Thursday. This post is somewhat inspired by Harper's Index, actually.

Rhino horn isn't actually horn, but compacted hair.

There may be a connection to lack of sunlight exposure and autism (hey, it's in my lecture notes I'm just the messenger here).

The Dayak Fruit Bat is one of the only mammalian species where male lactation could be the norm.


Cervids (deer and some such folks) that have antlers (almost all of them do) tend to shed them once a year. The interesting tidbit is, Reindeer and Caribou are exceptions, and don't shed theirs at all.

Of the egg-laying mammals, only the Echidna incubate them inside a pouch in their body. The Platypus makes a nest inside a burrow and incubates her eggs outside her body.

2 grams appears to be some kind of lower limit for size of an endothermic animal. Both the Kitti's Hog-nosed bat and Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) run approximately 1.6 - 2.0 grams. They are generally accepted to be the smallest mammal and bird around, or at least representative of each.

I think I'll do this some more tomorrow.

Enjoy your anamilian kin,

Bp

Largest Sitka Spruce in the U.S. succumbs to storms



This Sitka Spruce (also known at the Klootchy creek giant) is huge, and I just can't find pictures that give it justice. Apparently it snapped in half high above the ground during this week's storm, in high winds. It was a consistent stop for me on my way to the coast, and most Oregonians will have some memory to share about visiting it. A local news station took submissions of people's photos around the tree, which may give you some impression of it's grandeur.

This is one of the oldest living things in Oregon, and one of the biggest trees in the state as well. The tree was coming to the end of its natural life cycle, and showed signs of wear long before this storm finally snapped its trunk.

I'm very curious what will be done with the wood, the value is immense.

Sad to say goodbye to this giant being.

Enjoy your old relatives,

Bp

Monday, December 3, 2007

Nice look into government workings

Almost didn't get a post in today.

I have two minutes, so I'll keep it short. I picked this ZeFrank episode because he goes into specifics around a bill that was being blocked in congress. It's a quickie little civics lesson and outing of a pork barrel (hows that for cliche) senator.




Enjoy your finals-free lifestyles,

Bp

Sunday, December 2, 2007

An unexpected study break


So we're studying over at The Den (Doc Ock's apartment) when we heard a very serious crunch outside and a car alarm going off. Somehow, I knew. I stood up, got my shoes and started lacing them. I went outside and clicked my keys and sure enough the alarm turned off.

Some poor guy was turning a corner in a light truck, and as he accelerated out of the turn lost the back end on wet street and wet leaves. He really nailed the car, pushing the back tire into the curb hard enough that it's not exactly at the right angle anymore. I'm thinking the axle is maybe not so hot.

He was all right, he came up to the apartment and we started doing the do, we offered him condolences, tea and hot openfaced tuna melts, and the dance with the insurance company begins. So far Geico is fine, but time will tell.

An unexpected 3-hour study break (all told, getting the rental car etc).

Oh, and (although I see its use and I find myself enjoying little bits and pieces of it) Organic chemistry , with this professor and his Rampantly Rigorous Tests (tm) -- can bite me.

Enjoy your infernal combustion transportation,

Bp

Grisly check to fire ant invasion -- a little horror film for Saturday Morning

To quote Annie Dillard in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: "Fish gotta swim birds gotta fly; insects, it seems, gotta do one horrible thing after another. (p. 64)"

Here is a link to a video about a biological control that is being used to slow down the fire ants in the United States. The story involves eating brains and maggots, so if you aren't the horror film type you might not want to click the link (the images actually are pretty vanilla, it's the concept, really, that turns the stomach). I, of course, was fascinated.

Lets hope this works and doesn't backfire, as biological controls have a tendency to do.


Enjoy nature's brilliant atrocities,

Bp

Saturday, December 1, 2007

T. and Pootie enjoying the first snow

We had our first snow this morning, and here is a picture of T. and Pootie on the front porch enjoying the weather. You can see a bit of "winter interest" in the front bed, with the basalt and nice spray of somesuch grass... but overall winter is not the hottest time for our front beds. We're working on it, with the gentle but persistent prodding from a good friend of ours who knows about these things.

I'm off to study.

Enjoy your lazy Saturday morning,

Bp

[ps: Blogger seems to be having some problems with photos right now, so if you click on the picture today to get a bigger version, it will download instead of just display. Maybe it will make a good postcard or something, enjoy. Hope they fix it soon.]

Friday, November 30, 2007

James Brown -- Sex Machine

I figure it's Friday night, and although I'm leaving to go study, ya'll should boogie down, even if only for a few minutes.

And check out that righteous 'stache!!



Enjoy your booty shaking,

Bp

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A matter of taste

Some of these crack me up, so I will continue to occasionally submit ya'll to them. This one is especially relevant because we used to have a little pygmy hedgehog named Mitch.



Enjoy the humor, despite yourself,

Bp

Whales and Even-Toed Ungulates related


Apparently I missed this until now, but Cetaceans (whales, dolphins) are closer related to Even Toed Ungulates (Artiodactyla: deer, cattle, pigs, hippos) than to all other mammals. So closely related that new superorder was created, called Cetartiodactyla.

I had heard that whales were very related to Hippos at some point, but hadn't really seen the relationship til today in Vertebrate Zoology class. The morphological evidence (anatomical evidence) as well as the genetic and molecular evidence both strongly confirm this grouping. It's quite well backed up.

Just interesting to me, to imagine the progressions these animals followed coming to their current state.

[illustration via Afrol News]


Enjoy your long-term musings,

Bp

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rocks trucking around on the playa, by themselves


Bentley sent me this excellent article from geology.com about the sliding rocks of Racetrack Playa. There still isn't an explanation, I love natural events for which there are not yet explanations.


Enjoy nature's anomalies,

Bp

[photo from linked article]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Inspirational video, no joke

Doc Ock said he watched this video and his "father insides" just revved to full speed and he cried like a baby. Even Captain American said he can't watch it without tearing up. We are all grinding away on Organic Chemistry and needing to keep our morale high, so we watched this video.

This is a sports video, and it's inspirational. Most people would think I was about to be sarcastic, because I'm not the big sports fan, and the term "inspirational" nowadays is almost always a setup for a cynical, ironic flippant comment of some kind.

I watched it, and sure as shit I teared up.

Story of McElway, an autistic kid who only really opened up around the high school basketball team that he was the assistant for. He was a huge fan, and carried water and balls and towels for the team for years. At the end of the season, years into his involvement with the team, the coach had him suit up and go in.

We watch. We imagine ourselves in the kid's place. We watch the crowd reaction.

And then we commence to have leaky eyes.



Enjoy your sappy but healthy emotions,

Bp

New comment on the Naomi Wolf Post, reposting here

This comment just posted in the archives, at the Naomi Wolf post, and I didn't want it to get lost.

Check it out.

Posted by rs suckle:

The Ten Steps of the Fascist Shift as interpreted by Naomi Wolf and applied to the Bush administration, could equally apply to Presidents in the 1920’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s. United States history has been through many worse times and survived.
While researching the 1920’s for my book “The Ragman’s War,” I learned many dark secrets about the Roaring Twenties hidden in union archives, news articles from that time, and in memories of old men.
Applying the 10 steps to the administrations of Wilson, Harding and Coolidge would have made it the 1920’s the worst decade for fascism in US history. Steel and Rail Barons controlled all branches of government and wielded their influence to keep millions of immigrant workers laboring in the mills and mines for little or no wages. Dissidents and union organizers who riled against this serf system of cheap labor that kept the Twenties stock market roaring were branded as anarchists. They were detained, deported, jailed, or murdered.
In the mining towns the mine families were forbidden to bear arms, to assemble, to have free ingress and egress to their towns, to sing hymns, and join unions. During the 1927-28 strike in the western Pennsylvania coalfields, they had their property seized and sold at auction and were evicted from their houses even when the rent was paid. Company agents had free access to invade their homes at whim.
Constitutional abuses in the bituminous coalfields around Pittsburgh were so bad that members of the US Senate decided to visit the area to evaluate the situation. The ACLU did their own investigation and reported their findings in a booklet titled “The Shame of Pennsylvania.”
Don’t believe me then look it up for yourself or read “Bucket of Blood the Ragman’s War,” “The Battle of Blair Mountain: The Story of America’s Largest Labor Uprising,” or “Storming Heavan.” Then there was the Red Scare of 1919, the Palmer Raids, and persecution of the IWW (Wobblies)? What about the Red Scare of the late 1940’s under Truman? How many communists and sympathizers were detained, deported, jailed, or went into hiding? Is Wolf an historian or a just sharp cookie out to sell books and bash Bush?

The Ten Steps of the 1928 Fascist Shift:

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy (Communists, Wobblies, Labor Unions).

2. Create a gulag ( Captive Coal Towns, Wobbly Interment Camps, Deportation Centers).

3. Develop a thug caste (Coal and Iron Police, Pinkerton Men, American Legion).

4. Set up an internal surveillance system (Paid Stool Pigeons, Mail Interception).

5. Harass citizens’ groups (Company Sheriffs, State Troopers, County Sheriffs, Constables, Coal and Iron Police, KKK, Jim Crow Laws).

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release (union organizers, black lists, civil rights activists, Wobblies, innocent immigrant workers).

7. Target key individuals (scientists, academics, journalists, artists, writers, social activists, movie producers, labor leaders and organizers).

8. Control the press (coal, steel, and rail barons, judges, Hearst Syndicate).

9. Dissent equals treason (Sedition Laws, Red Scare, Palmer Raids, Anti Union Laws).

10. Suspend the rule of law (suspension of Constitutional rights for coal and steel families, Rossitor Injunctions, Coal & Steel companies rule the towns they own, their appointed agents are the law).
OOPS!!! Wolf forgot about suppression of free speech.

Taxonomical mnemonics #2

Ok, I'll do one more mnemonic. We found that humor worked best, and ridiculousness. We dialed this last mnemonic in finally the last hour before the test. Sure enough, we had a specimen and had to I.D. it. No way I would have remembered if it weren't for this.

This cute little dude (though I think of them as dudettes) is the Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus. We didn't have anything to go on. We had to reach, and create another storyline/character to make it stick.

This Dear (deer) mouse (myscus, don't ask me why but it worked) thought she was a dog (perro), so went to go get a manicure (maniculatus). Keeping maniculatus from turning into manipulatus in our heads was key here... that just kept happening.

Somehow, that scored me a few points on the practicum.

Enjoy figuring out what works, no matter how weird,

Bp

Taxonomical mnemonics

Just walked out of my Vertebrate Zoology lab practicum (read: a test with slides and specimens). I can say with confidence that I owned it. Been beating my head around Latinate names for days now, narrowing down the list of what I can remember and what I can't to a few that just wouldn't stick in my brain.

Some names have a memory hook of some kind, like Tamias minimus, the least chipmunk. Least -- minimus -- some connection there. Tamias, well that's just a memorize thing.

But some animals got on the short short list of "how the hell am I going to remember this effing name."
This cute little dude made the list. It's a Northern Flying Squirrel.

Here's the process. Order Rodentia -- ok that makes sense, rodents, squirrels, not a problem. Family Petauristinae -- not much to go on there... I start to sweat a bit as I write up the flash card. Scientific name Glaucomys sabrinus, wow, panic time. There's just nothing that seems to relate to anything in there.

Punchy from going over so many flashcards, my study partner and I (her daughter may be traveling with Paris Hilton soon, WTF -- another story for another time) started just trying to piece anything together that would help us with these last few tough nuts.

In this case: Sabrina has glaucoma, is a taurus, and has a pet flying squirrel = Glaucomys sabrinus, family Petauristinae -- TADA!

We have others, I may or may not subject ya'll to them.

Enjoy it, whatever it is,

Bp