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,


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,


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,


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rocks trucking around on the playa, by themselves

Bentley sent me this excellent article from 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,


[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,


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,


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,


Monday, November 26, 2007

War on Activism and Citizen Journalists

Good read on Piglipstick today: War on Activism and Citizen Journalists. I find myself reading them more and more lately, a good blog find.

Enjoy your growing awareness,


The water fueled car comes 'round again

Intro video of Stan Meyer and his invention (an excerpt):

Video of the buggy after it had been converted:

Mr. Meyer is no longer with us. I'm tracking down where the info went about his invention post mortem. Have to get to sleep right now, but much is on the web about this invention and about other folks who are beginning to get the same results.

In the past, I had written off this particular energy source as a complicated battery, but I have a better grasp of it now, and I think it's a genuine invention. Me and 44 some-odd patents, I should say.

Regarding his death and the conspiracy theories, I really don't know. Best I can find on the web is he died puking in a parking lock of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, and the autopsy says aneurysm. Sad to have lost him, I hope the information gets out and continues to be worked on.

Enjoy the possibility of release,


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Texting The Wife from a late night study session

There's this game that happens when I'm wearing down and getting tired from studying, where I occasionally try to abash the wife with untoward text messages. Usually, the response is either silence, or "BAH" or "You are SO weird."

Last night, however, she had been drinking wine and watching some medieval religious thriller thingy of a movie. Her response was unprecedented.

"What are you wearing right now?"

"The blood of the heathen gods smeared across my soot blackened loins; brow and small of back oily with citrus, ginger, and gold. You?"

I had been duly, resoundingly, and completely outclassed. I conceded defeat immediately.

Enjoy your study diversions, and celebrate your mate,


11 - year - old girl Tests Diet Coke/Aspartame degredation

This little girl did an experiment to test how fast Aspartame degraded into Formaldehyde and DKP (Diketopiperazine). Now if you read up on Aspartame, many sources flood the web saying it degrades into neurotoxins and causes all sorts of maladies. I know I sound skeptical, and really I am and I'm not. The thing is, it is nasty stuff I can tell that, and degrades into nastier stuff, I can tell that too. There are plenty of books on the subject, should you choose to delve.

Anyway, this little girl Jennifer Cohen is definitely getting the cold shoulder from the industry and it's mouthpieces. Check out some of their last correspondence. This girl rocks.

What was the point of this post... well, first it wasn't to create the most text-linked blog post I've ever written. I guess just to point out that little kids (read: citizenry) are thinking about things, and asking questions (read: speaking truth) to industry (read: power). It's encouraging.

Enjoy the crazed postings of a not so awake blogger,


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coming in to the home stretch

Yesterday, woke up from my zombie-like sleep with the word enantiomers stuck in my head. This morning it was Sn1 substitution.

I find myself having to suppress the urge to start every new conversation with a breathless rendition of what I have to prepare for in the next week: "man, I've got a quiz, exam, and a practicum next week. I have to be able to identify like 75 animals by slide or specimen, and every single lecture day I have left in O-Chem has something due and/or a quiz or exam. There's a big exam the last day before finals, and I still need to finish chapter 8, and the class is finishing with chapter nine, and and and..."

I've tipped over the top of the first rise on a big roller coaster, I'm heading down and starting to accelerate, my stomach is lifting a bit from the lack of gravity and the effect is not exactly settling. I can see a couple loops out there, some bumps, and a tight turn or two. I could get all wigged out, but here I sit, and the car is going, and there are no brakes, so what's the use of getting all worked up. So, my practice is to relax and be as productive as I possibly can without raising my blood pressure.

Enjoy the surrender that life sometimes requires,


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chanterelle-sicles anyone?

Went picking turkey day morning with Jon Schell, founder of the internationally famous Alethea Acupuncture Clinic in Northwest Portland. I had some blue cheese, thyme, chanterelle quiche to deliver tonight at the Foodie Orphan Turkey Day, and was out of yellow mushrooms. Good excuse to get out in the woods.

As you can see from this picture, it was cold. Plenty of frost on the logging roads, and some patches of snow on the ground. The dog didn't care, and we got into the mushrooms regardless. They were, however, frozen solid. It was kind of weird to be picking mushrooms, but not cutting them from the stalk, and every time you grabbed one it was rock hard. This would be the last mushrooming trip at these elevations (approx. 3500 ft., mostly south/southwest hillsides). Freezing really messes the mushrooms up, they're just water logged proteins, so freezing then thawing then freezing pretty much tears them apart. We went to an old faithful spot, crossing the stream at a really pretty spot. The frozen logs with snow weren't very easy to navigate but we got across with little incident. The logging roads took us into prime chanterelle habitat -- big trees, moss, and relatively undisturbed forest. The woods here had been logged of their biggest trees some time in the past, I'd guess the 50's, but it had been a selective logging. So as you worked through the trees, you'd occasionally find huge stumps, 6-7' in diameter. But, the trees they left behind thrived and are now reaing 2-3' in diameter themselves. The mushrooms have grown well in this stretch of forest. Here's a picture showing the disturbed, but highly mushroom-productive forest we were picking through.

The mushrooms being frozen made some extra steps to the cleaning process, affected their texture a little bit, but didn't diminish their flavor a bit. The quiche I brought to the potluck tonight were a huge hit, and I was more than pleased to be serving genuinely wild food that I had gathered myself. I love that shit.

Enjoy your little triumphs,



An ad popped up on my google targeted advertising, top of my email screen that I had to investigate.

Cornhole Sets, Bags - - Cornhole Sets and Bags Complete Sets Starting at $79.99

You know, where I grew up, "Cornhole" didn't refer to some kind of bag throwing, corporate get together team game.

... depending on how you used it.

Enjoy your double entendres,


Tommy and The Coens answering questions about No Country

Quick video, I picked it because it was the first one I could find that had Tommy in it.

Oh the hate mail I'm getting backstage for having beaten many of my friends to this movie.

I'm going mushroom picking this morning so I can make quiche for our foodie, orphan turkey day celebration this afternoon. Talk to ya'll soon.

Continue enjoying your media heroes,


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Country for Old Men -- review of sorts

This movie was a shoe-in for me on many levels. For one, Cormac McCarthy was a revelation to me as a writer. Blood Meridian blew my mind -- it was violent, gorgeous, biblical in sweep. Like nothing I had ever read, except maybe Faulkner.

So, I'm supposed to be talking about the movie. What can I say, it's awesome. The Coen Brothers do a fantastic job in their sincere, dry, in your face way. Their adaptation from the book is excellent, the dialog is just pitch perfect (sorry for the cliche, but it is).

Every actor on the screen just pops, especially Tommy Lee Jones. He's one of my favorites anyway, but he really nails this performance. It's like it was written for him. When he finished the movie with the last few lines of dialog, it was like watching a gold-winning gymnast peg a landing. Ok that's a horrible analogy. It was a dam near perfect confluence of writing and acting.

The movie has multiple oscars written all over it.

It's a violent movie, don't be mistaken. It's about a psychopath -- no bones about it. It is a rough film.

I'm just going to leave it at, if you like the Cohen brothers, or Cormac McCarthy, or modern noir thrillers, or Tommy Lee Jones just go see it. Trust me. If you are squeamish, you probably want to stay home for this one, or be prepared to cover your eyes a few times.

Enjoy your artistic heroes,


Thanksgiving note from Grandma

[hand written in tight, loopy cursive]

"Dear B & K,

Once again I'm grateful for you, My Family, and then for the awe-inspiring Beauty -- just outside my Patio Door. The ground is slowly being covered as dark red, bronze and gold leaves drift down. Many different kinds of leaves finished for this year.

Golden brown Pin Oak, Red, crinkle edged Crepe Myrtle flutter down, their smooth white trunks and branches left bare. Liquidamber trees with their "maple-shaped" leaves falling to the ground like so many stars - stem upward - red and gold.

They crush under foot.
Fall berries orange-red; left over rosey roses and Camellias; clumps of sharp green lily leaves awaiting spring.

Dark green pines and cedars above the roof tops making a fine backdrop.

A single tall Tulip tree covered with little smooth balls like an early Christmas tree.

A lone dove - or two - search the seed scattered on the patio floor.

All of this is to be seen; to be enjoyed --

Outside my Patio Door
I'm Thankful to be here!
At our Home this year!

Love, Grandma L.
Happy Thanksgiving"

[Grandma rocks, what can I say]
Enjoy the love of relatives,


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just to drag today's posting further into the gutter

I'll share my latest favorite from I Can Has Cheezburger?

I'll get to real posting soon, probably tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.

Enjoy your strange and alienating sense of humor,


Jim Gaffigan -- Hot Pockets skit

I can't believe I haven't posted this video yet. It's 2 am, I'm on a study break, and it's time to laugh (because the other option, as we know, isn't productive). This skit is huge both with The Wife and The Study Group. Always good for a moment away from schoolwork.

Enjoy your comedic mental mini-vacations,


Monday, November 19, 2007

Island stories over breakfast

After a very dense Organic Chemistry lecture, I went out to breakfast with Big Chocolate. We were talking island ecology, and the ceremonies associated with gathering food, and he began in with a childhood memory.

In October or November, the Palolo swarm. This is cause for staying up all night with nets and buckets, and waiting for them to wash ashore. The timing has to be right, and men row back and forth offshore in canoes and lanterns looking for the swarm. When it happens, folks scoop up the wriggling wormlike things and pack their buckets, many eating the delicacy fresh out of the ocean.

An image that stayed with me, was that he said Leis of a particular yellow fragrant tree orchid were the appropriate offering when the Palolo came in. In the mornings after they gathered, he said the high tide mark was knee deep in fragrant yellow Leis, and you could smell them from far far away.

What a beautiful image. I could listen to island stories all day, I swear.

Off to continue cataloging Texas vertebrate species.

Enjoy your writhing oceanic delicacies,


New "test your website" site -- are you banned in China?

This one is my favorite yet, test to see if your website (would) be blocked in China.

Mine, of course, came up blocked.

Turns out that it doesn't necessarily mean you really are blocked, so it's a bit of an activist gimick site. Fun nonetheless.

Enjoy the last shreds of your "untrammeled" U.S. internet,


Morning feline safety tip

When climbing stairs in your robe, in the morning, not quite awake -- make sure to note the activity level, or 'hyperness" of any cats you step over in the stairwell. If the cat impeding your progress is "feeling frisky," burning off calories after breakfast with dilated pupils and a kitten-like energy, and you are a man with only a robe on, do not under any circumstances step over said cat.

[No, Pootie didn't get me in the nana's this morning, he attempted and failed. A warning to us all.]

Enjoy your external genitalia, while they last,


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Follow up on the writer's strike story

The lines of connection get pretty convoluted when you jump around reading blogs linked from blogs. I found this fantastic blog post explaining further about the writer's strike and about Hollywood and how it is not a free market system there and how unions can help. It is from the Kung Fu Monkey blog, which I found via the Pacific Views post regarding the writer's strike, which I found through Orblogs, which is a blog post compiler for local Oregon and Pacific NW blogs. I am a member of Orblogs and get a bit of traffic to the site because of it.

How many degrees of separation? Gets dizzying sometimes.

Oh, and the original link regarding the writer's strike is very well written, I highly recommend it.

Enjoy traveling the intarweb tubes,


Video explaining a good old-fashioned strike -- you go writers

Having been part of a non-striking unions wage negotiation team, I fully support striking when necessary. Toothless tigers get no meat.

This video is both entertaining and educational, explaining the position of the writers in their current strike. Union membership is at an all-time low right now in the U.S., as low as levels in the 1930's, when the idea was first catching on. Don't buy the hype, support union workers.

[via HinesSight]

Enjoy your OSHA rules, 5-day work week, and overtime,


Ancient Peruvian suspension bridges investigated by MIT students

[photo credit in article link]

This New York Times article talks about the amazing rope suspension bridges that the Peruvians had made in the Andes before the invasion of the Conquistadors. A group of MIT students worked to replicate the means by which the bridges were made, to study the properties of the structures. Very cool.
[thanks Bentley]

Enjoy your mind-blowing ancient knowledge,


Physical impossibility experienced upon awakening

So I woke up this morning, and the sheets and blankets were all in their usual spot... over on The Wife's side of the bed. I had a sheet and 1/2 of a wool blanket, the other wool blanket, and the quilt were all scrunched over on her side.

This is normal, and to be expected. As we all know, The Wife is ectothermic, and derives her heat from outside sources. This is her special super power in the hero team that is our marriage, she is Ambient Temperature Girl. Combined with Thermonuclear Boy, much crime fighting gets done.

Here's the thing. The Wife is in Washington right now helping out with a Waldorf School fund raiser for The Good Reverend's family.

This leaves me with only two explanations. One: The wife has remotely, from a state away, stolen the covers. Two: Her side of the bed has somehow taken it upon itself to steal the covers for her, even though she is not here.

I don't know which answer is stranger... (more strange... however you say that).

I'm off to church [read: sweatlodge], see ya'll in the PM.

Enjoy your physio-spiritual anomalies,


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy birthday Dad

Look at that handsome 'lil fella.

So I was going to compose this big sappy birthday post for dad but you know what, he knows I love him like crazy and I'll be talking to him soon regardless.

So, ya'll get a kid picture instead.

Love you Dad,


Wire terror in India

As a recovering electrician, I get these types of photographs emailed to me periodically. What can you say to this one other than wow, just wow. This one is from Bangladesh.

If the power pole doesn't strike you as particularly crazy, just click on the picture for a closer view. Imagine throwing a ladder up there to do a little crossover work... oh the horror.

Thanks Kate for the picture, I expect it to come up in a nightmare sometime soon.

Enjoy your sadistic friends,


Real Oregon winter day

It's noon, I'm still in slippers and sweats. Saying that "I have homework to be doing" I've realized is just redundant. I always have homework to do, even if I never slept again until finals I could keep myself busy the whole time. Take a deep breath and keep going.

What was I going to write about again? Ah yes, outside. Bright grey, windy, mid-40's, drizzling, dripping, wet uncomfortable Portland winter. Makes we want to sleep all day. Definitely doesn't lend one to feeling "peppy." I'm in good spirits, just not feeling very "A personality" this morning.

This is the weather that I prep new Oregonians for. All those Arizona/California folks who are moving here now (as I did 20 years ago), not wearing socks, insisting on jeans in the winter, expecting sun more than 3-4 days a month. This is the weather I advice they manage against.

The rap normally goes something like this: Get over the mountain at least once a month. It's cold, but it's clear and bright and there will be sun. Your Pineal needs that sun, your skin, your psyche. It's worth the gas money, just go. And, go home or to some other sunny locale for at least 4-5 days in the dead of winter, February is best. Slather yourself in sunscreen and sit by a pool or a beach and get some sun, get warmed to your bones, let the dry air dehumidify your innards. By the time spring comes you will be ready for flowers, but the nice thing about this city is, you will get them. In spades. It's always worth the wait.

Enjoy the unasked-for advice,


Friday, November 16, 2007

Burts Bees ad regarding Colony Collapse Disorder

Here's a kinda slick commercial for Burt's Bees that talks a bit about Colony Collapse Disorder.

So far, my (lay) opinion about CCD is that the bees are being overworked, undernourished, and overcrowded which is affecting their immune response. Once the immune system starts to drop then opportunistic infections sweep in and bizarre diseases start showing up -- "new" viruses and stuff. Similar to when someone has full blown AIDS and starts getting bizarre opportunistic infections that modern people have avoided for decades now, because their immune response is basically non existent.

Anyway, opinions aside here are some pretty pictures with bees.

[via Bentley]

Enjoy your pollinated produce,


Follow up on zombie dog story

Talked with T. this morning, and he remembers the dog as well. Apparently the little town is Essex, California. He remembers it for a billboard that says "Thanks to Johnny Carson for bringing Color Television to Essex California."


Enjoy your childhood friends,


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mojave Green rattler story -- zombie dog cometh

We were covering snakes today in Vert. Zoo class, and the subject of vipers came up. Then the subject of venoms came up -- which naturally leads to a discussion of Mojave Green Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus), one of the most dangerous snakes in North America.

As I have mentioned in the past, I grew up taking field trips to the Southwestern deserts with T. and his father, who is a prominent archaeologist. D's specialty is SW indian rock art. On many of these trips he took us into very snaky territory. I never got to see a rattler (was dying to), but of course T., who was afraid of snakes, often did.

On one trip to the Eastern Mojave, D. pulled us into a little dried up shack of a gas station for a fill up and some drinks. This place was right out of an old bugle boy jeans ad, looked something like this but with a bunch of broken down rusted hulls of cars around and a single antique gas pump out front. There was one old guy running the place, and if memory serves he really was sitting on the front stoop in a rocking chair. He was ancient, a real desert rat.

Mojave Greens were a topic of conversation the whole drive out, so of course we had to ask the local about them. "Oh you won't find those around here, no siree. My dog kills em on sight, hates em, just hates em."

Just about then this horrific carcass of a dog limped around the corner. It was some mid sized fuzzy mutt that looked like a zombie dog, missing big chunks of flesh all over its body. It looked like someone had splashed acid on it. The side of it's face was melted back at the cheek, one leg wasn't working so hot and was missing flesh, and a huge bald spot showed on his haunch too. "Been bit 3 times, that dog has. Hates those dam snakes. Lives to kill 'em. So you won't find em anywhere near here."

Any time someone mentions Mojave Greens now, I get an image of the Zombie Dog of the Eastern Mojave and shiver just a little bit.

ps/edit: Almost forgot to mention WHY these snakes are so damned dangerous. They have a strong mix of both hemotoxin and neurotoxins to deliver. Normally vipers only have one or the other, both of them together is quite virulent. One starts digesting you from the inside out, the other paralyzes you, including your respiratory and cardiac function. Ouch.

ppss: No matter how dangerous they are to humans, I in no way condone the gratuitous and ignorant killing of these little guys. They are a vital part of the desert ecosystem and don't recover well from damage to population levels. Just give them the respect and distance they deserve and go your own way please.
[photo from]

Enjoy your venomous childhood memories,


A novel moment

How to create a novel moment for yourself.

1. Head to the restrooms, distracted. Possibly reading a class handout, or a text message on your phone.

2. Enter bathroom.

3. Look up to find that (if a man) there are no urinals in said bathroom.

4. Realize slowly where you are.

5. Pass a lady entering the bathroom on your way out, smile and tip your hat.

6. Walk fast to the correct side of the world.

Enjoy your unexpected gender flummoxes,


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A look inside Guantanamo

According to this Wired Magazine article, an official Guantanamo Bay Operations Manual has been leaked through The document is of course disturbing, and foreshadows Abu Ghraib in many of its instructions. Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller is the man who signed the document, and was sent to Abu Ghraib shortly before the infamous damning photos were released from there.

[via LTB]

Nothing to enjoy here,


Condom fashion show in Beijing

Here are a few pieces from the condom fashion show, hosted in China on World Population day. Yes, those dresses are made solely of condoms. One of the goals (other than advertising for the condom manufacturers) is to increase aids awareness in China, where sex education is still having a hard time getting on its feet.

[thanks Richard for the heads up]

Enjoy your latex prophylactics, in all their forms,


Little Dudes: Spea bombifrons -- Plains Spadefoot Toad

Doing a survey of all the vertebrate species in Texas for my Vertebrate Zoology class. This little dude's name just cracked me up. Bombifrons... sounds like a Jamacian rapper or something.

Other than being a cute LD (little dude) with a cool name, Spadefood toads are interesting in that they estivate (read: hibernation but when it's hot) during dry periods, then dig out of the soil when it rains and breed like crazy. They're basically desert toads. The whole family is cool that way -- living where amphibians have no right being.

Time is up, off to Aikido class.

[grabbed photos from]

Enjoy your random natural anomalies,


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Artist Walton Ford -- Audubon meets Hieronymus Bosch


I ran across this first image in a magazine after the exam this morning (it went fine, we can all relax now) and had to know who this guy was. Walton Ford is his name and his art absolutely intrigues me.

His realism is reminiscent of Audubon (purposefully, it seems), but the subtext of most all of his paintings are at lightest political satire, at harshest condemnation of colonial/imperialist policies [in truth, I had hoped this would be a light post sans politick, but such is the material that catches my eye lately].

In his Art:21 site bio you can find many more pictures, some interviews and possibly some insight into his process. I think his work is staggeringly good, so here are a few I grabbed for your enjoyment.

"The Red Kite"

"His Chaplain"

"Dying Words"

Enjoy the tenuous beauty of it all,


Random ZeFrank show -- knitting porn

A video for you while I run off to catch a bus, to take an exam.

Enjoy your thousands of errors,


Monday, November 12, 2007

Executive compensation, time to talk?

Looks like some bosses are being paid more than the company they are running is worth. You think something might be a bit off in executive compensation? Ya think?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2005 Ceo's were paid 821 times as much as a minimum wage worker. See the chart for how this ratio grew in 40 years from 51 times to 821 times.

Here is a nice article by Marshall Brain positing a hypothetical situation where executive compensation is halved (from $4-million to $2-million) and the lowest paid employees in that same company could have their wages doubled.

Many in politics would have us believe that this country can't afford it's poor -- where if you do the math, it's the ultra out of sight rich that are the greatest burden.

Enjoy your economic thinking,


Vocab test that Generates food donations

A simple website,, offers up a game. You test your vocabulary, the minimal advertising generates money for food donations through the U.N. Simple, and a decent game to boot.

I'm testing in the low forties so far. They always seem to have a winger in there somewhere that throws me off.

[via a Long Tough Blog]

Enjoy your multimedia, game-generated starvation relief,


Picture of futility

Sitting in the parking lot of a bank, on veteran's day, waiting for 10:00 so it will open.

Enjoy your bank holidays,


Sunday, November 11, 2007

I guess that's appropriate

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

I checked the Oregonian blog (local fishwrapper of record, known as the Whoregonian by many) and it came up High School, and The Mercury blog (local paper for aging hipsters who now have the cash to go to music shows, but still probably won't vote) and it came up Junior High School level.

Enjoy your vocabulary lessons,


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Christopher Walken Dances!?

I ran into this video listening to online music with the wife. I couldn't believe my eyes... Christopher Walken dancing the whole video??? Too awesome to be true.

Song's neither here nor there, but the video is an instant classic.

Enjoy your cinematic heroes,


A day off

"So, how are you feeling now, your crazy week is finished."

"Well, my inner child has just kicked me in the shin and is in the living room pissing on the couch."

"You better go out and see a movie."

"I was thinking that was a good idea, yeah."

Friday, November 9, 2007

Luddite finds Kings on the coast

Received this image today over email from a very happy Luddite.
His spider sense got tingling and sure enough he found some Boletus edulus, or King Boletes, or Ceps, or Porcini.

I like many wild mushrooms for eating, but when I had these for the first time -- I hesitate to say this, but I think they blow most others out of the water.

(waits for lightning from the mushroom gods)

They all have their place and flavor and compatible dishes, but Ceps are just so dam good. Ok... Black Chanterelles are super tasty as well. And Matsutake have an incredibly unique and robust flavor... okok, it's apples and oranges. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, all that rot. They're all good.

It's just I don't get Kings where I pick hardly ever. So, the grass is greener down the coast today.

I'll recover from this green, envious tinge momentarily.

Enjoy your friends' successes,


Homeopathy passes a rigorous test

I'm a big fan of homeopathic medicine. I've used it for years, to great effect. But it's just not easy to talk to folks about it, especially trying to describe that the more dilute the remedy, the more powerful it is. Vibrational medicine is counter intuitive that way.

This gory but well designed test
shows that a homeopathic remedy had the intended effect, even though it was in a concentration that had been proven to no longer carry any of the actual molecules of the original source (in this case belladonna).

It is exciting to see a study working on it in a rigorous and scientifically recognized way.

Enjoy your paradigm busters,


Report from the bunker

Full crew here at Team Organic's headquarters in the seedy "bonfire" neighborhood of 28th and S.E. Stark. There are 3 intense men circling a too small dining room table. Occasionally, they curse under their breath as they write, hunched over their work like jewelers with bad eyes. There is a couch pulled out from the wall to make room for a 4' x 6' dry erase board full of esoteric stick drawings, with C's and OH's and Br's. It could be a football play, a bank job, or even a hit.

We lost half of the internees around midnight -- leaving Big Chocolate, Captain America, Doc Ock, and me behind.

You know, Bromine is more selective. You do know that don't you. You better... and remember it too.

By all rights there should be a haze of smoke in the air, and bags of drugs somewhere, maybe shoulder holsters on the big guys at the table -- for the intensity of the scene here. At least there aught to be multiple sports games playing on radios around the room, and a bookie cage in the corner with nervous gamblers smoking outside of it.

There is an organic chemistry exam tomorrow. The teacher has openly stated that he's going to "make this one harder" than the first one. We're nervous. We're cornered. There are chemicals on sticks everywhere.

If you knock on the door, use the code.

Enjoy your school-free life,


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Squirrel Obstacle Course

Quickie video snack for the day. Via my Mom on email. Couldn't resist posting it.

Enjoy your dexterous mammalian kin,


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Oldest [formerly] living animal found

From this Science Daily article:
A team of scientists from Bangor University's School of Ocean Sciences believe they have found an animal which did just that, a quahog clam, Arctica islandica, which was living and growing on the seabed in the cold waters off the north coast of Iceland for around 400 years.

Unfortunately, the animal was killed in the process of discovering its age. Gah!

Enjoy your reductionist science,


Viral blogs, the famous JcPenny catalog issue

So I get this awesome email from my Mom a few days ago -- it is a bunch of pictures out of a JcPenny catalog from 1977, with some snarky and humorous commentary. Then I receive an email from another friend tonight with the same pictures and text and upon actually reading it, realize it is in a blog. I search the internet and sure enough, there it is... in a blog called 15 minute Lunch.

It's an accident, a lark. This guy who blogs casually finds a bitching find, writes it up, and BOOM it goes viral. By viral I mean, he's getting like over 200,000 hits on his web log just this week. It won't stop there, I think this is just hitting it's steam as far as getting out there. People love it.

Don't misunderstand me here, his commentary is funny as hell. He did a great job with the material -- so it's not a complete accident it works. It's a complete accident that the world is built in such a way, that the internet is built in such a way, that probably half a million people will see this guy's moment of inspiration. That's just awesome.

Result: that little bar of Google Ads on the sidebar of his page is actually going to pay this guy some money for the next few weeks or so -- possibly longer. [Net savvy blog readers click around on the ads when they like the article, because it ups the possibility that the author will break the minimum monthly earnings and actually get a check from Google] Probably not a lot, maybe enough to buy a nice dinner for he and his wife, maybe enough to do something a bit bigger -- but something. A quick find in the insulation between some joists, a witty post on his personal blog, and this guy's a temporary superstar. This is his 15 minutes (unless it parlays into something bigger).

It's all very cool. Including the post itself, you should check it out it rocks hard.

Enjoy your 15 minutes -- parlay it into a comfortable life if you can,


MSNBC yanked off basic cable, an example of why

You now have to pay for MSNBC on Comcast cable. It used to sit near other major news outlets in the "40's" channels, but now is relegated to pay-for-service 128ish. There didn't seem to be much forewarning about it, nor does there seem to be much coverage of the fact. Everything I'm finding are in local blogs, the most mainstream of which is the coverage of the move on the Oregonlive blog.

Watching the video below may answer your questions as to why MSNBC, formerly Fox News channelmate, was moved out of the neighborhood.

Special Comment: On waterboarding and torture
Special Comment: On waterboarding and torture

Removing this channel from the basic cable subscription removes Mr. Keith Olbermann's show (read:rant) "Countdown" from many people's homes. Thousands and thousands of people's homes. Fox news still gets to pull their tricks however -- like connecting the Southern California wildfires with Al Qaeda (if you watched the whole Olbermann rant above, think about how this fits with the "plausible fictions" that could be created by torturing terror suspects).

Here is Rolling Stone's article on the man, which includes a link to their top five Olbermann rants.

Enjoy your life, relentlessly, despite all this crap --


Monday, November 5, 2007

How to start picking wild edible mushrooms

I have a request from the comments! I feel so, official.

How do you start out collecting wild edible mushrooms if you don't have any friends with experience? I'd say, pay someone to be your friend -- I.E. take a class. The absolute best class I've ever taken was the Wild Mushroom Conference at Breitenbush Hotsprings. It was fantastic. There was a PhD for every 6-7 attendees the year I went, and I spiked up from picking Chanterelles only (!!) to having experience and confidence with over a dozen edible species. It's a bit of money and a bit of a time commitment, but I cannot possibly suggest it more highly.

Here's the heartbreaker, you missed it for this year. It is held mid-late October every year. The date floats a bit depending on availability of teachers.

If you have the patience, wait a year and go to that, I couldn't imagine a better start.

If you can't wait a year, hook up with the Oregon Mycological Society. I met many members when I attended the Breitenbush conference, and everyone was very sweet and helpful. They are so enthused about mushrooms that it is just contagious. There are some world-class mycologists who associate with this society, a fine fine group of folks. Their conference, also, was last month. But there are trips being planned all the time, and when you get in contact with them I'm sure you could find a mushroom outing just about any weekend of the fall season.

Bare bones: go out with PEOPLE who know what the hell they're doing. Don't rely on a book, ever. Some people would scoff at this comment, but this is my opinion. Why juggle around with danger like that, there's no need. There are scads of helpful folks who are more than willing to help you get started, just get a hold of them.

Oh, and absolutely buy David Arora's books, and other field guides. I keep his All that the rain promises, and more on me when I'm in the woods, and the huge tome Mushrooms Demystified in the car for deeper investigation. There are other good books out there but I prefer his, they are what I was weaned on.

Hope that helps, and if you have any questions just let me know.

Enjoy your newest hobbies,


Wild Edibles I did pick, post #2/2

A writing challenge to myself: finish this post before the Chanterelle Blue Cheese quiche is out of the oven -- go!

There were a few more dandy edibles that we picked while out last weekend. Two of them are in the Boletus family. I like Boletes for picking with beginning mushroomers because it has a safety built into it. If it has sponge instead of gills underneath, it's at least safe to pick and check out later (if there isn't a mentor around to check). The worst you get in the pacific N.W. is one that will slime up like a slug when cooked, or be bitter as hell and obviously inedible (big hint, when the bitter bolete is sliced with a knife the whole flesh section turns blue very quickly). So, relatively harmless compared to some of the other scary fungi out there in our forests.

The most abundant Boletus we ran across was Boletus zelleri. The magenta coloration on the stem, and the suede-leather-like brown cap are telling markers for this dandy little mushroom. It has conspicuous yellow sponge as well. Like all boletes, the bugs love em. Pick them young, and slice them in the field to make sure they aren't buggy (when is say buggy, what I really mean is maggoty, yech). They are great to eat, especially after they've been dried, with a strong enough flavor to hold up to mixed dishes and really beef up vegetarian soups and stews. They can often be found in the city, underneath large Doug Fir that are surrounded by mossy lawn. Of course you have to be sure the folks who tend the lawn don't use chemicals, and that dogs don't have access to the site. I've picked enough while driving around in an electrical van in the fall to make two large pizzas. It was great.

The next Boletus we picked, in much less quantity, was the Admirable Bolete or Boletus mirababilis. This handsome bolete grows out of rotting wood, has a slightly longer stem (generally) than the Zeller's, and doesn't have the magenta coloration on the stem. Otherwise, it is a pretty dam close look alike to the Zeller's. A nice thing when two look alikes are both tastey. I've found that when I am in old-growth forest, with plenty of rotting logs on the forest floor, and lots of moss, these can be the most conspicuous and abundant edible around. Again, since the bugs like them too, the take tends to be less than with Chanterelles, which bugs completely boycott. This is another good drying mushroom (all the Boletes are), and has a bit of a lemony flavor sometimes that is quite pleasant.

Finally, and on a completely different note, we picked Angel Wings -- Phyllotus porrigens. These are thin, translucent shelf mushrooms that like to grow especially on downed hemlock logs. They probably grow on other softwood logs as well. They are easy to identify, sometimes abundant, and often a nice look of variety in a mushroom dish. The flavor is delicate, and the texture sturdy/slightly rubbery. They won't melt in a saute pan which is nice. It's not an outrageously tasty mushroom, but it's great to add to a mushroom medley dish, and always fun to collect.

There we go, the last of this week's edibles. [general disclaimer coming, warning] Please do not use these posts as a guide to pick and eat mushrooms out of the woods. These posts are best used for fun reading, and backup material for use when you are in the woods with someone who knows their stuff. If any of my warnings about possible fungal poisonings sounded nonchalant, I didn't mean to come off that way. You really don't want to mess around with these guys as a mistake could end up being a huge one.

[all photo copyrights are credited in the text links for those mushrooms next to the photos in this page]

Enjoy your arboreal daydreamings,


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wild Edibles I did pick Post 1 of 2

Figured a decent explanation of what I did pick and will enjoy eating from this week's picking trip was in order.

This first handsome mushroom is the famous Chanterelle (in this case, probably a Cantharellus formosus). A great beginner's mushroom, with few look alikes, bugs never invade them at all (an awesome trait that one realizes if you pick any Boletes, which get buggy quick), and just dandy for the table. Many would say that these are Cantharellus cibarius, even experts, and hell I won't argue with them. Fact of the matter is, they're both tasty and I'll take it. From a culinary standpoint, these are one of the world's favorite wild mushrooms. There are hordes of recipes (especially French) that use it.

I do know we run into a few other types of chanterelles in our pickings, and on this trip it was Yellowfoots, or Craterellus tubaeformis. The difference in appearance is subtle, but once you have been picking for a while it is easy to spot. Not worth wasting too many words on, as they too are tasty and I'll take em.

Next is the majestic Cauliflower mushroom, Sparassis cripsa. A big, impressive, easy to identify edible. It maintains an al dente texture even after long cooking, which some say is why the name includes "crisp." Always love to find these in good condition, the grand majority I've seen were past their prime and melting down. Always a sad sight. As a culinary mushroom, this one has an interesting texture and a nice bold mushroomy taste. Not flowery like the Chanterelle, but almost meaty. The shape and texture make it a great noodle replacement in Stroganoff recipies.

We found a nice little bunch of Honey Mushrooms, or Armillaria mellea growing out of the base of a Vine Maple. This is not a beginner's mushroom. It is brown (so many inedibles in the forest are brown, or "lbj's" -- little brown jobbies), and can be mistaken for a few other types of mushrooms. Once you get the spec's down, it becomes easy to figure out however, it just takes a trip or two with someone who is familiar with this species.
This is one of the mushrooms known to make some people a bit allergic/queasy depending on what substrate it grew on (since it always grows on or in a tree or rotting wood). It is always recommended for first timers to eat a few bites of this mushroom and then sit for a bit to make sure you aren't one of the people who react to it. I've eaten plenty of them to no effect so I collect them whenever I can. They can grow in impressively huge clumps, and make for quite a haul. For eating, the stems can be a bit stringy, but to me provide a nice textural quality. These mushrooms have a nice woodsy flavor, and are strong enough to hold up in mixed recipes.

We also found plenty of Shrimp Russula, Russula xerempelina. This is another "not a beginner" mushroom, as it has a look-alike that will make you puke, Russula emetica. Emetica often has a more candy-apple red cap, but the real test is virtually every Shrimp russula I pick I take a tiny bit, chew it up and let it sit on my tongue. Shrimps will be neutral, with possibly a tiny bit of pepperyness, but nothing major. Emetica will after a few seconds be incredibly hot, peppery, and bitter. It's not subtle. The reference guides love to talk about the shrimpy, fishy smell that these develop as something you can I.D. them with. In my experience, that smell only happens when they are really old and/or drying out. There is little to no smell on the young, succulent ones you will be picking. Take note of this fact, however, and if you have a dehydrator set up to dry a bunch of these, stick it outside or something, otherwise your house will smell like the bottom of a fisherman's dory in no time. Did that once and the house smelled for days. For cooking, they are mild and very tasty when fresh, sauteed like market mushrooms. But I think they are best used after drying, when their unique flavor is at its peak. Cream accents them well, so cream of mushroom soup is a good option for dried Shrimps.

Ok, it's late and I need sleep, that's enough info for one post. I'll finish off with some boletes and Angel's Wings in the next day or two.

Enjoy your wild culinary delights,


ps: I took the first two photos, and the second two come from the articles that I link to about that particular mushroom.

How much does Comcast make to allow the government to wiretap us?

Pretty good cash apparently. According to this story on The Raw Story, Comcast charged $1000 to initiate each wiretap, and $750 a month for as long as the wiretap was active.

[via Debbie Does Nothing]

Enjoy your hour-shortened day and extra sleep,


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Cryptozoology today: Bigfoot in Pennsylvania?

This handsome fellow was photographed by a trailcam in Alleghaney National Forest. Nowadays, pictures don't mean much, what with photoshop and all, and guys dressed up as bigfeet. But, it's fun to stare at it and wonder if some of these critters are running around North America some place.

Check out the Oregon Bigfoot website for more musings on this subject.

Enjoy your zoological anomalies,


Wild Edible mushrooms I won't pick, and why

Yesterday, the crew ran across a couple varieties of edible mushroom that I don't pick. In the process of writing this post, I realized that the reasons I don't pick them turn out to be pretty wishy-washy.

The first and most abundant is the Black Elfin Saddle, or Helvella lacunosa. Basically, I don't eat this one due to anecdotal evidence. I remember reading, or hearing somewhere, that if you ate a good amount of these and consumed alcohol, you could be temporarily paralyzed for about 24 hours. Harmless, but freaky. I, for the life of me, cannot find any reference to this "fact" anymore. So, I Have to chalk this up to superstition. Liamsdad is not saddled with these irrational fears, and collects and eats them with enthusiasm.

The second mushroom is a really handsome sucker called a Western Grisette, or Amanita pachycolea. It is very identifiable for someone with mushroom experience, it's supposed to taste dandy (despite what the Cali website says) and it would be another feather under my cap should I collect and eat it. But, you see, the term Amanita sends shivers up my spine. This is the family that sports both the Death Cap (Amanita phalloides), and the Destroying Angel (Amanita ocreata). Both of these mushrooms will take you out, dead, with one small serving. You may be saved with an organ transplant, but who wants to go through THAT hassle. I'd have to miss DAYS of school. So, I don't pick this handsome and tasty mushroom.

We found both on our last trip -- Liamsdad grabbed up the Elfin Saddles and I pointed out and talked about my fear of the Western Grisette and we left it at that. I figure, better safe than sorry, even if I can't find a single reference to back up my memory of temporary paralysis.

Enjoy your unfounded fears,


[Photo copyrights/credits: Elfin Saddle Mark Steinmetz; Western Grisette, Taylor F. Lockwood -- whom I've met, hell of a nice guy.]

Friday, November 2, 2007

Great Mushroom Hunt

Went into the Cascades with a few friends to gather mushrooms today. There are many other duties I could have canceled this trip for, but the wife encouraged me to just take a day off.

Liamspapa, his co-worker and friend Wes, Big Jon (of acupuncture fame), and Naboo the clinic dog were all in attendance. We worked our butts off, but the payoff was amazing. This might be the most diverse haul of mushrooms I've come out of the woods with. I'll talk specifics regarding the species of mushrooms we gathered in a later post, lets get into some pictures for now.

My first full basket of the trip, with chanterelles, boletus, angel wings, shrimp russula, elfin saddle, and honey mushrooms.

Liamspapa with some Chanterelles and Wes looking in.

Big Jon with his Cauliflower mushroom.

Wes on top of a huge stump presenting some Angel Wing mushrooms (couldn't get this to look decent except in black and white).

My last basket of mushrooms from the day, with a beautiful cauliflower mushroom Big Jon had seen last week and actually found again, Chanterelles, Angel Wings, and Zeller's Boletes.

We did some serious slogging, and my dogs are barking now. Sore all over, but happy for a great day in the woods. Happy to be teaching these guys some edibles other than the (wonderful, but limiting) Chanterelle.

More later, I have an apple cider vinegar bath to take to ease these aching limbs.

Enjoy your fungal frolics,