Thursday, January 31, 2008

Imperial Presidency 101 -- Signing Statements

Bush is using signing statements to ignore parts of the new defense funding bill he doesn't like. I could rant and rave, but check out the facts here and decide if you like W's latest utilization of this power. Oh, and here's a good legal article about this administration's use of signing statements as a chaser.

I could so go off...

But instead I'm taking out the garbage.

Enjoy the discipline of not turning into The Hulk every time you receive news from The White House,


KT Tunstall -- Big black horse and the cherry tree, live and solo

This is a "Songs stuck in my Head" series post, for sure.

Everyone probably knows about this lady already, but this is new music to me. Female vocalists with gravely voices turn my crank (such as Joan Osborne), as does talent. So this Tunstall lady is looking aces at the moment, tho to be honest I've only heard this song so far, and that only twice.

The video is very cool, it shows her building this song live through self-sampling.

Enjoy women who are hot with talent,


Epidemic in bat population in NE U.S.

I can't believe I'm linking to a Fox News article.

I'll get over it...

Anyway, bats are dying in droves in their hibernation caves across the upper Northeastern United States. They're calling the disease "white nose syndrome" after the markings left by a fungus on the bats' noses. It's hitting the bat populations hard, hopefully none will collapse.

Enjoy your local blogger squirming from the sources of his content,


Vegetarianism a "perversion of nature" according to hilarious Pravda article

My uncle turned me on to this article in about how vegetarians are a "perversion of nature." It's freaking hilarious, check out a typical quote:

Furthermore, cosmetologists say that a typical vegetarian has dry and fragile hair, dull eyes and unhealthy complexion. They can hardly stand criticism and have a low boiling point. They raise their voice, swing their arms and splutter when arguing. They are weak even in their logic.


And finally, here is a UK newspaper take on the same story. It's funny and provides the saucy Alicia Silverstone/PETA advertising as a counter argument -- touche.

Enjoy the glory that is bad journalism combined with bad translation,


Sperm whales -- sleep and fear

Scientists are thinking that seafaring mammals sleep with one side of the brain at a time. This has been observed in birds, and even hypothesized that they may sleep during flight. So, partial brain sleep is not entirely novel in the biological kindgdom.

As for the fear part, if you delve deep enough into the Discovery News article, you find this link with amazing footage taken by someone in a crow's nest of a research vessel off Northern Chile.

Apparently the ship was under sail power only, engines off, when they headed straight into a big pod of (possibly) sleeping Sperm Whales. At first, I couldn't see why the lady was so freaked out, but then I thought about it.... and watched the video again. They actually touch one of the whales and wake it up -- who knows how they'd act under those circumstances, and there are lots of them. Freaky, but way cool.

[photo credit in embedded article]

Enjoy your amazing cetacean brethren,


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Galapagos sea lion update

Apparently "Sea lions have been killed in the Galapagos for the illegal trade in sea lion penises for the Asian market. None of the penises were taken and the rangers speculate that they were interrupted by the patrol before they could remove the sexual organs."

Info off the Sea Shepherd website.


In Geek news -- Director chosen for The Hobbit

My Canukistani operative, now to be known at "Yuri," sent me this link today -- apparently Guillermo del Toro will be directing the Hobbit Bilogy (is that a word?).

[lots of links in the article, so I left them out of my post]

Enjoy building up an unreasonable amount of expectation and anticipation over a media event -- I know I will,


Evil friends -- Yucatan resort anyone?

I got an email today from a friend regarding a Yucatan Resort for sale, cheap, on Craigslist. Not cheap enough for a mortgage-paying one-income family with a college student in it.


Thanks Criddle -- way to make me question my latitude. Ya weenie.

Enjoy the torturous jibes of friends,


Sea lions pop up in the news elsewhere

Apparently someone dispatched over 50 sea lions in the Galapagos with blunt force trauma. Nothing was harvested off the sea lions.

If some folks are touchy about shooting our local sea lions, consider their argument in context.


Zefrank -- love song to Condi Rice

ZeFrank at his best, singing to the fierce and disapproving Condi. One of my favorite of his pieces.

Enjoy the delicate irony,


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Soma FM: online, commercial-free, independent radio out of S.F.

SomaFM independent internet radio

My favorite radio station for studying and chores is They've had to fight to keep on the air, and I'm very glad they figured it out because it's a great service -- their selections are spot on.

There are a number of channels on the station, but so far my favorite is Groove Salad. I'm not great about electronic music labels but I'd say Groove Salad is downbeat, ambient or chill. Second favorite is Beat Blender, and third is Secret Agent. I find them all to be great music to study to -- the (general) lack of vocals helps, as that is what tends to be a big distraction when I have to concentrate.

A musically savvy bodyworker friend of mine, Tito, uses Groove Salad for background music when he's doing his bodywork for similar reasons.

I haven't spent enough time exploring the other stations, and I've noticed a few new ones popping up lately. Do cruise around the site you may find some stuff you like.

Enjoy self-starter media outlets and the quality they provide,


Monday, January 28, 2008

Surprised by Juno -- a review of sorts

So Tony and I snuck off (I skipped a no credit class *gasp*) and saw Juno today after classes. I have to say, I was surprised. The trailers, the hype, the introductory credits even had me believing it was going to be "way too hip" for my taste. It just seemed a bit too too, a bit too nearly-indie for it's own good.

I'm glad to say I was (at least partially) wrong. If you only watch the first 10 minutes, the look of the movie, the sound track (bet's still out on the sound track as far as I'm concerned), and the inordinately witty dialog could leave you with this same opinion. But if you keep watching, the story gets more real, the characters get more real, and the movie really gets its act together. The script evades the minefield of cliches this story could have been ruined by quite deftly in my opinion, right to the end.

I imagine it's just about impossible to present a movie nowadays that portrays any redeeming qualities in youth, real emotions, without being trashed. It seems necessary, or it is perceived as necessary that films need to cut themselves down repeatedly with self-flaggellating irony or bitter cynicism to be watchable anymore. Folks, especially one and two generations back from me, are just so damn jaded it's hard to imagine how to deliver some simple redemptive human emotion in a movie without being shot down. This movie pulls that off.

It's not perfect, of course. The sound track and volume of said sound track were not my favorite, and the last 2 minutes were close to being too pie in the sky for me. But overall, the movie holds together and delivers some amazing writing and some amazing performances.

Ellen Page is scary good, and worth much of the ride in and of herself. Also, Jason Bateman grabs the screen lately with these weird little parts he's taking (in Smokin' Aces, for instance). He's solid in this movie -- as evidenced by his moment in the below trailer. He exhibits such a nuanced sense of comic and tragic timing that at times he really shines.

I give Juno an A-, very watchable.

Enjoy movies that can remind you of why your own life decisions were the right ones to make,


Info on Bushies' attempt to protect themselves from litigation

Stud Farmhand of Palouse Diary posted this backup information in the comments of my Retroactive Immunity post. Thanks Estu, you rock.

Now your emails, letters, and phone messages can be specific and targeted. Remember, handwritten letters are weighed heavily with lawmakers, but when backed up with emails and phone calls they are best.
OK, I have tracked this down and it is a provision of the PAA additions to the FIAS. Here is the email I just sent to our senators from WA:

I want to signal my vehement opposition to several aspects of the Protect America Act.

1. I am completely opposed to the lack of meaningful judicial oversight of surveillance authorized under this program.
1a, I feel that granting sole power to the executive to authorize such surveillance violates the separation of powers
1b. I am concerned that the private companies so authorized will exceed the scope of surveillance allowed by this law, and abuse the ability to surveil for their own purposes
2. I am opposed to giving US contractors immunity from local law when working oversees.
3. I am opposed to granting immunity to US officials as allowed for in the proposed legislation.

I ask you to support the current filibuster as well as to ensure that any law passed to extend amendmnet to FISA address the above concerns. Civil liberties are a defining issue for me and one which determines how I vote. Your support for civil liberties will go a long way towards earning my support of your next reelection.

Enjoy the relaxation and release from tension that quick, appropriate action can provide,


Little Dudes: Pitohui, poisonous bird

This colorful little dude is the Pitohui dichrous, one of a small family of poisonous birds found only in New Guinea. The feathers and skin of many of the Pitohuis contain various Batrachotoxins, the same type of poisons found in the skin of Poison Dart Frogs. Although the specifics aren't yet known, scientists are confident that the birds receive the poison in their diet, then incorporate it into their skin and feathers.

Here is an audio of an interview with Bruce Beehler, a scientist who is searching very remote sections of New Guinea to find more of these rare birds. And here is a well-written National Zoo article on the discovery of the poisonous birds of New Guinea.

There is one other poisonous bird in New Guinea, it turns out, the Blue-capped Ifrita. New Guinea has a stamp with a good image of one.

Off to exams.

Enjoy the natural anomalies, especially the colorful ones,


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Poem -- First Rain

Was out in The Shire again this weekend, helping The Luddites get their new shop set up. We worked in the rain, and in the snow. I was reminded of this poem I wrote almost 10 years ago when I was wiring new houses. [The formatting is more elaborate on my copy of this poem -- some day I'll have to learn how to introduce tab stops in HTML, but not tonight]

For The Luddites,

First Rain

Here it is --

Bright grey morning, almost warm.
Then sheets & sheets of rain pouring over this new roof.
First rain, introducing the long season.

Now, forests begin to smell like mushrooms,
elk stamp and steam in the cold trees.

This worksite smells of wet concrete,
wet flannel,
and cold feet.

These new houses are surrounded by moats of sticky mud,
extension cords smear it into hands & shirtsleeves
at the end of the day.

Apprentices complain,
and trout go off the bite.

candles at home,
hot meals,
and friendship

become startlingly more important
than long weekends and solitude.

('99 - '04)

Enjoy your artistic reminiscences,


Forgotten English -- poosk

"poosk: to search for vermin on a person."

I'm so going to use this word.

[source: Jeffrey Kacirk Forgotten English 2008 Calendar: A Calendar of Vanishing Vocabulary and Folklore"]

Enjoy your primate habits,


Friday, January 25, 2008

Ethanol at decent cost, from any organic cellulose -- sounds good.

We are in startup land again, but these folks claim to be able to produce ethanol at around $1 a gallon. And, they'll leave the corn itself for food -- they can use everything else instead. Apparently, they can use much of municipal waste for their process.

The Wired article linked above states, "It also generates 7.7 times more energy than is required to produce it. Corn ethanol typically generates 1.3 times more energy than is used producing it." This was one of my biggest concerns about U.S. ethanol -- with the old technology, it was damn near taking as much gas to produce as it was producing, and in many climates taking more. If the claims are true, they've made the process efficient enough to be truly viable.

Sounds awesome, but I'll wait til the BBW is singing before I get too jacked up about it. Let's see how the plant flies once it's running (hopefully next year).

Enjoy technology flowering at the behest of need and funding,


Lack of ire lately? Check out this latest Bush move -- retroactive immunity.

Looks like we have an interesting rider on a bill this week. It gives Bush and his cabal retroactive immunity for war crimes, specifically those regarding Guantanamo and torture (it's called Torture, not "treatment of prisoners" in my book). Not willing to wait for pardons from the next compliant president, the Bush cabal is writing immunity into legislation now.

If I had more time I'd point you to places to make a ruckus, but by now folks aught to know how to do that. Actually, I just thought of a convenient link to answer these questions over at Palouse Diary -- "Places to Flex your Political Muscle," a great post consolidating the info you need to make a ruckus.

[video via Piglipstick, kickin ass in the NW]

Enjoy life, make a ruckus,


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Lolcat for the Birder Set

I am posting this for my Ornithological brethren. [To which The Wife says from over my shoulder, "There are no Ornithological bretheren out there" -- oh Ye of little faith.]

Since I've started Ornithology class, the Sibley Guide has taken on somewhat canonical weight.

Lolcats are a guilty pleasure of mine anyhow, might as well be out with it.

Enjoy any humor that comes your way,


Everlast -- What Its Like

I've long thought this song was brilliant -- good lyrics, good music, some hard truth mixed in. The Wife was listening to him when I got home tonight, so I thought I'd share this video. Was hell to find one that wasn't censored.

EVERLAST - What It's Like

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Enjoy the calls for compassion from unexpected places,


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chili commentary

Me: (after tasting The Wife's chili) "I don't know, it doesn't taste like it needs much of anything."

The Wife: "Cornbread."

T.: "Hate."


The Wife: "Ok, he's right it does need Hate more than it needs cornbread."

Forgotten English -- pollincter

I bought myself the Jeffrey Kacirk Forgotten English 2008 Calendar: A 366 Day Calendar of Vanishing Vocabulary and Folklore on a whim, and will be posting some words periodically from it that I enjoy.

Today (actually January 14th's word, I'm catching up) is:

pollincter -- One who prepares materials for embalming the dead; [from] Latin pollinctus, French polingere, to wash and prepare a corpse for a funeral.

Enjoy learning archaic words and usages,


Time to dance

I'm still listening to mashups, what can I say. Here's one called "Trippy Dirt Child" which combines: "Busy Child" by Crystal Method "Dirt" by Death in Vegas "Trip Like I Do" by Crystal Method "Starting Over" by Crystal Method "Diesel Power (Dirtchamber Mix)" by the Prodigy "Indo Silver Club" by Daft Punk.

It's uncool to still be listening to mashups I hear. C'est La Vie.

The video below is a bit of a "Song for the Wife" moment -- few know that the introduction to the classic Trip Like I Do by Crystal Method has audio from The Dark Crystal by Jim Henson.

Here's a video inspired by that, for The Wife (bummer it's only the intro to the song):

Ps: This stuff is beyond "old school" -- reaching the level of 'geezer techno' at this point.

Enjoy your weird and geeky musical tastes,


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fire lighting, no matches, no friction finesse needed

How to light a fire with simply superfine steel wool and a 9-volt battery, check it out. I have a certain friend who is very good at starting a fire with some sticks and his hands -- I'm still going to work on that method, but for now, this is an awesome stopgap until I get those skills.

Good items to put in a little emergency kit. Of course, with the battery and wool WELL separated.

Enjoy geeky survival information,


Nutria, and why we should develop a taste for them

Here is a video from Discovery News quickly explaining what Nutria are, and why they are a problem invasive species. We have them in Oregon, and they're spreading. So far the best site I've found about them is from the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife -- it gives biological, environmental, control, and culinary information.

In the South, they have bounties on their heads (tails actually) and are served in restaurants, after a quick naming face-lift to Ragondin (as they are known in France). My father, the big geek, ordered it when he was in New Orleans a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Ragondin certainly sounds more appetizing than a popular common name for them in the South of Swamp Rat.

I've got this thing about trying to create and encourage human exploitive markets for damaging invasive species. Having humans very interested in harvesting a particular animal or plant has in the past produced spectacularly decimating results -- why not apply this here and now? Make the next haute cuisine dish based on Ragodin -- create a run on the animals like we had on Redfish after Cajun cuisine became popular in the 1980's. I'm trying to develop plans for Starling-based "perfect nutrition wild-bird" catfood as well, but that's probably worth a post on its own.

By the way, Nutria Fur is fabulous -- similar in quality to Beaver. You know you want some guilt-free fur -- admit it.

Mr. Luddite might have Nutria in his mill pond, and if the water is clean (sure looks clean) they will become dinner in the near future. Expect a report.

[photo credit website]

Enjoy your edible invasive species,


David Lynch about Iphone cinema

Blatantly ripped this from Shocho over at I Quote Myself. I love it, his voice, his look, his words -- just cracks me up.

Enjoy the talented iconoclasts,


Monday, January 21, 2008

A brief splash of politics -- Hormuz and Unverified Voting

Had these links floating around waiting for a blog posting for a few days now, figured I'd just share them real quick.

First a well written piece on the recent Gulf of Tonkin -- I mean Straight of Hormuz jilted attempt at making an excuse for war. Next, a article investigative piece on some of the people behind electronic voting -- you'll never guess, they have GOP connections -- no, really!

[via Estu and Astock, respectively]

(Remember kids, if the unverified black box voting pisses you off, you can always just hack the stupid things and elect someone dear to your heart for your district -- I kid, I kid.)

Enjoy catching up on your blogwork,


Cats and Human A & P

I marvel at my cat's knowledge of my internal anatomy. Specifically, the location of my bladder.

In the mornings, when Pootie is antsy for food, he starts in trying to wake us up. Normally this involves jumping up on the bed and chewing on a hand, or rubbing us in the face. But the big move is standing on your full bladder. How the hell is he so accurate?

He got me this morning, jumping up quietly so I wouldn't stir from sleeping on my back, then standing his front two feet right on my bladder and pressing. It's like a big "wake up the monkey" button, it works every time. I wish I could act like it didn't work so I didn't reinforce this action when he did it -- but I always sweep him off, I just can't let him keep pressing there. I know damn well that it's affirmative feedback and basically training him to do it, but I can't take the pressure dammit.

I did figure out how to train him against rubbing his cheek and whiskers in my face in the mornings though. I waited, fully awake, as he started his routine -- he approached my face -- and I bit him. Got him good, right on the front leg. Now, if he tries it I just bare my teeth and he's out of there. If I could only figure out a similar maneuver for this other trick...

The little weenie.

Enjoy your domestic felines,


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Couple pictures of The Shire (as it's now to be known)

Here is a view down the valley I visited yesterday from the road. It goes gravel, but is well maintained.

This second picture is another view, with a bit of elevation. Until I get some maps out I couldn't tell you exactly what direction I'm facing, I think roughly West. There are lots of sheep, some cattle, and goats being raised here.

This last picture shows one of the many creeks and rivers that wind through the valley. There were plenty of steelhead fishermen plying the waters while I was there.

Got to go, more later.

Enjoy pastoral landscapes when you can find them,


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Home from The Shire

I've discovered a wee shire in the foothills of the coast range, where The Luddites have procured an old mill site and are settling in to build their shop (producing Landark Wood Finishes) and start in with their plans to start a Folk school.

The area isn't a horrendous distance from Portland, and yet when you are there you feel like you are really out in the boonies. The valley is positively bucolic.

Since it's going to take some time before The Wife, T. and I have enough money to procure land in that area, I can't tell you where this beautiful little hidden gem is, because the land values need to stay put til we can afford to do something. I mean, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you -- you understand.

I snapped a few pictures and will post soon, must get to other chores tonight first.

Enjoy your crazy, dedicated friends,


Friday, January 18, 2008

Speaking of jerks in media, and action -- O'Reilly steps in it again

Brave New Films has got my attention again, this time about an assanine O'Reilly assertion that there are no U.S. Veterans who are homeless, or if there are there are very few of them. See the video below. And when you are done, if you want, check out this page at Fox Attacks for info and options.

I'm headed out soon to check out the beautiful coast range valleys just outside of Corvallis Oregon where some friends are moving. Ya'll have a good weekend.

Enjoy revealing the truth -- no better job out there,


Good news on the Savage front

Received this email update today regarding the actions against Savage and his idiocy:

P.S. And a brief update on Michael Savage. Thanks for your calls and emails, they are having a big impact. Advertisers are caving and freaking out. Union Bank of California has already pulled, and there will be more to come next week at

Thanks to any and all who acted, the guy's a menace.

Enjoy doing the right thing,


Thursday, January 17, 2008

First day on the river

I posted a (close similarity) to this in the comments below, prompted by Tate's question: "so how was the sea lion counting and watching?????"

This is the early season, so our down-the-river locations for observation had nothing going on. But we got up by the dam and saw one Stellar [the Endangered type] dinking around a bit, dam they're big.

The best sighting of the day was an immature bald eagle tag a 2' sturgeon and head off with it. Very cool.

The seals and sea lions won't be in in force for another month or two, so right now we're basically providing "0" slots for the data, which is important for the timing of arrival information.

The wind cut right through me, I'll be adjusting my gear. It was about 35 degrees with approx. 25mph steady wind to the East. I.E. pretty fucking cold.

Was great to be outside, getting school credit, on the lookout for animals, and getting fieldwork experience.

Pretty quickly I fell back into "Fire Lookout" habits from back in the day, it was funny to notice. I did the whole "open eye scanning" where your whole field of vision is fuzzy and you only focus on movement or details that needed clarification, this certain timing I had when I was doing the lookout came back to me as well. It's almost a robotic head turning-without-thinking-about it thing.

This should be another post in and of itself -- I'll repost it above.

Thanks for asking Tate, apparently I had a lot to say.

"Michael Savage" is a dickhead

Michael Savage is a serious, dangerously idiotic dickhead. Before you click on that video link to hear his anti-Muslim bullshit, be warned that it's intensely severe and idiotic, ignorant, and hateful. I forgot how bad Right Radio was until I heard this. That anyone listens to and believes this spew of ignorant, xenophobic, penile-implant-needin' crap is amazing to me.

There are options for activism against this buttface and others like him on the same page, consider them if you care to. I'm going to the Columbia River with some binoculars and wash this sewage out of my mental space.


Off to watch sea lions

I'm going to become deeply involved in the whole Sea Lion/Bonneville Dam/Salmon problem this term, and probably next. The crafty "C404" lion that kept figuring out how to get where he wasn't supposed to was one of the reasons this story got famous -- the other is the intense controversy surrounding the situation.

There is much to say about this, but beyond presenting the problem there's not much more I can say. Already, just being briefed about the situation, I realize how shallow the information I based my previous opinions on really was. That realization made it that much easier to just suspend opinion and gather data, and let the facts guide policy instead of sensationalist news or polarizing organizations without any local investment in the situation (had to bite my tongue, or typing fingers, not to link a few of the accused there).

As an example of the heatedness of the topic, I was out shopping for the final pieces of gear I'll need to do the work out at the Dam last night and ran right into it. Hard to find weatherproof, warm gloves that are thin enough you can write with them on. Anyway, I mentioned what I was getting the equipment for, and a thin, pimpled teen working the next aisle over said, "oh that about ruins my day... you are studying those things? I wish they'd just shoot them."

I mentioned that the situation is complex, and that one of the species of sea lions at the dam is endangered, so indiscriminate killing is really not a good idea. A few minutes later I heard we heard the kid mumble "I don't care if they're endangered, shoot em all." The salesmen helping me said, "he's just 18, so he gets a pass for being an idiot, we were all there once." This is true, but you can bet all his fishing buddies and probably his whole family feels the same way.

So I'm stepping into a bit of a cauldron here, but I'm excited to be doing direct observations of wildlife with intent to solve problems with the data. Real biology stuff, its exciting.

Time to pack it's gonna be colder than a well digger's ass out there.

Enjoy getting involved, even if it's not easy,


There will be Blood -- trailer and review

Tony kidnapped me right from school and took me to an early showing of There Will be Blood at Cinema 21. How they got the exclusive first run I don't know, but it's good to see an art-house theater get such good material.

There isn't much I can say about the movie without it being a spoiler. It is intense, it is masterfully crafted on every level, and Daniel Day Lewis is bone crushingly virtuosic in his performance. The movie is not for a light night out, but then Paul Thomas Anderson's movies never are.

You can go into the metaphors it creates, or focus on the use of "music" (oftentimes just intense sound when the director felt like it) or lack of it, the feel of realism throughout the movie, or of course the performances (not a weak one in the bunch) -- but any way you stack it, the movie rocks. And to belabor the point, Daniel Day Lewis is phenomenal. So much of this movie centers around silent close-ups of his bent-nosed, sweaty face -- just hanging the audience there, and letting him show us exactly what we need to see for the movie to keep moving. Just fantastic.

In the end, you will be exhausted -- exhausted by spending so much intimate time with characters you would rather not share a drink with. And, you probably won't go back and see it next week either. It takes some time to digest and assimilate. But, despite the bitter flavor, I believe this will be one of the most iconic pictures of the last few years for it's multiple perfections, its depth, and its epic scope.

The movie's dam long, by the way, so be prepared. Pack in supplies and hit the loo before hand.

I give it a solid A, A+ for fans of the director and/or D.D. Lewis who are more likely to forgive its length.

I am finished,


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Elijah Wood interviewed about The Hobbit

Here is an article dropping a few more hints about the two Hobbit movies, including some interview material from Elijah Wood.

The only thing that worried me a bit, is that they look like they might "stretch" or even fabricate material to fill in the gaps in the story that they want to cover. But, if you look at what was written "off the page" for the last movies (like the "Gollum talking to himself/psychotic scene") they did a bang up job -- so maybe it's not as worrisome as it first seems.

[via my faithful Canukistani operative]

Enjoy the article,


Michigan has no democratic primary vote?

"The Democratic National Committee has stripped Michigan of all its delegates to the 2008 national party convention as punishment for scheduling an early presidential primary in violation of party rules. "

I just don't get the system any more, someone 'splain this to me.

Is it true that Michigan Dems have no say in the primary because of this?

Also -- isn't the Democratic field at least ONE candidate bigger than this chart from the Washington Post?

Michigan Democratic Primary Results

Candidate Votes %
Hillary Clinton 328,151 55%
Uncommitted 236,723 40%
Dennis Kucinich 21,708 4%
Chris Dodd 3,853 1%
Mike Gravel 2,363 0%

I'll have to get back to this stuff when I have the time -- but if someone can pop me a thumbnail explanation in the comments I'd sure appreciate it.

Enjoy the insanity,


Dems for Romney

Let's all hope the Mittster gets enough votes to stay in the race, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, after all. And, I want the Republican side of this race to continue to be as hilarious as it's been. As the video says about Romney, "He's rich, desperate, and lashing out like a drunken fratboy." Just keep up with those attack ads man, I'm sure it will work.

This video is worth your time, I assure you.

[thanks to V.A. Momma]

Ps: The campaign may have worked, maybe dems did come out in droves for the Mittster, it appears he took Michigan, let the fun continue.

Enjoy a good belly laugh,


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fishing with a remote controlled boat! (hacking Diebold voting machines) Check out this video!

In my continuing effort to point out the absurdist reality of unverifiable electronic black box voting, I've found this video to share. It shows a group of guys fishing for pike with, not a pole, but a toy remote controlled boat!

What does this have to do with electronic voting machine fraud? Well, I hope that folks who clicked on this link to see this great video of a group of guys fishing with a toy boat, will also take a quick moment to check out my (completely fictitious and for humor purposes only) proposal to hack Diebold electronic voting machines. Don't worry, all you need is a philips head screwdriver and a flashdrive, and a peek at this instructional video.

Enjoy progressive activism, even when it's totally fictitious,


World of Warcraft meets... Ron Paul?

I know it's said often, but my god the world is a strange place. It appears WoW gamers who support Ron Paul for president have organized an enormous online campain. The event was well enough attended that they lagged the server [gamer talk, sorry].

What a strange time we live in -- so so strange.

Enjoy the endless novelty created by the high-tech earth monkeys,


[graphic via embedded Village Voice article -- article via Jmichael]

FDA set to approve cloned animals for food markets

According to this AP article, the FDA has approved cloned animals safe for for market as meat and for milk production. The final approval is a few months away. It doesn't look like they plan to make it mandatory to label it as such either.

Enjoy the comfort and confidence provided by your corporate government agencies' oversight,


Little Dudes: Xenoglaux loweryi -- Long Whiskered Owlet

I came across Xenoglaux loweryi last night in my Ornithology text, and had to share.

They live in remote mountainous regions of the Andes, and the extant world population is estimated at round 250 birds.

In March of '07, a team in Peru spotted one for the first time in the wild, according to this National Geographic article. On only three occasions have they ever been caught in mist nets.

These owlets are considered one of the Holy Grails of birding -- there are probably "listers" (birders who list every bird they've spotted, but specifically the subset of birders who are completely obsessive about this) drooling on the computer screen as you read this. It doesn't get much rarer and exotic than this little dude.

[photo credit in embedded National Geographic article]

Enjoy the little feathered anomaly,


Monday, January 14, 2008

Between 230 - 330 Mpg?

This little doozey is called an Aptera. Despite being a prototype at this point, the numbers are impressive, and the intention for the price-point is as well. They don't intend for this to be a luxury or specialty vehicle at all.

The potential mileage is hard to explain as it has to be graphed, so a simple number like those in the title don't really capture the calculations. As the electricity drains, it changes -- "after 350-400 miles it eventually plummets to around 130 MPG." I love that they use the word "plummet" before 130 MPG, I could read that sentence over and over.

Safety concerns are to be taken care of with Formula-One crashbox technology and to exceed most of the passenger vehicle requirements.

As petroleum stores get more and more expensive to extract, technology will change.

Enjoy the unknown,


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Music for the Wife -- Apocalyptica

I'm always dazzled by the range of musical tastes The Wife has. One of the first bands she ever turned me on to was Apocalyptica -- 4 virtuoso Finnish cellists covering Metallica. It was one of the most unusual bands I'd ever heard. I think that even if someone didn't know Metallica, they will be impressed by these guys -- they really are amazing musicians.

She was proud of this particular catch, because she asserts she won an argument with her mother about how heavy metal, and Metallica in specific, wasn't music. When she played "One" as played by Apocalyptica she proved her mother wrong. [I know V.A. Momma reads this blog -- I am only the messenger. Only reporting what I'm told ma'am, I assure you.]

The embedded video below is the debate breaker for The Wife, and has good production values. This video, however, shows the completely unexpected sight of cellists as Rock Star Gods on stage -- replete with thousands of screaming fans, twirling hair, the whole rot.

As we watched and picked these videos, The Wife (who played violin in High School) said that as a teenager she would have had a crush on every single one of these guys -- "the cellos, the hair... oh yeah I would have followed them around like a puppy."

Enjoy cognitive dissonance whenever you can find it,


Daniel Craig, Sexy (hacking Diebold voting machines) Daniel Craig Shirtless!

In the interest of appealing to a wider audience than the original Oiled-Up-Bikini-Girls hacking post, I've found some Daniel Craig material to accompany my (entirely fictitious, and for the purposes of entertainment only) appeal to voters in the electronic, unverifiable, black box voting machine states.

The real Daniel Craig Moneyshot is video of him walking out of the ocean in the new James Bond -- this however is not easy to find on the internet, so I grabbed what I could (see link here).

Since that material was so sub-par, I found a more typical youtube genre -- that of the slideshow-to-music fan video. The video embedded below had the best music, and this one had some of the best pictures.

So, for all you folks out there hot to get into Daniel Craig's pants (Tate), there is a little collection of visuals for you.

But remember, what this is really about is you hacking a Diebold voting machine with a screwdriver and a flashdrive, and putting James Brown, or Big Bird, or Vanilla Ice for president. That's the important (and totally fictitious, for humor only -- all you NSA observers who read this blog) part.

Enjoy the results of Daniel Craig's prodigious workout regime,


Beano works for doggie methane

When I was visiting Stu's household this last week, I dubbed his dog Sophie "The Methane Coyote." She was a time bomb of gastrointestinal terrorism.

In response to the new naming, Estu came up with this great graphic.

Trena Cardwell, of Chukarhill Kennels in Kittitas Washington is known as the bird dog trainer extrordinaire in the Farnham household. She has trained untold numbers of Estu and Colleen's dogs, always with fantastic results.

When Estu complained about the The Methane Coyote, Trena suggested dosing her with Beano before meals. Apparently, it works like a charm, and she gets to feel special because she gets something the other dogs don't get.

But if a single dose is missed -- soon after the meal it is missed *sorely.*

Enjoy the science of protecting yourself from your pets,


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Girls Girls Girls (hacking Diebold machines) Girls Girls!

I just thought I'd try to encourage internet awareness of my (purely fictitious) proposal to hack as many electronic voting machines as possible (note legal disclaimer in said link), by including this video of oiled-up women in bikinis playing with power tools in the same blog post. I'm sure Benny Benassi would be more than proud of this particular context for his... art.

After you click the link above to find out about a fabulous plan to hack voting machines (that is presented purely for humor value and in no way suggests that people actually do such a horrible thing) -- then think about it while watching the video below.

Enjoy good old American advertising strategies,


I know how to fix electronic voter fraud!

Let's have an organized movement of Kucinich supporters just hack the dam machines themselves. How come only the warmongers get all the fun?

You think it's hard, here is a video to show you that it's not, and only takes a flashdrive and a phillips head screwdriver.

Don't worry, there's absolutely no way to recount the vote, so he'll either have to win or they'll have to do a re-vote of some kind -- a paper vote or mail in vote to "correct" the "inconsistency." In either case it would be verifiable, and the actual most favorite candidate would win.

You see, it's only "voting inconsistency" if a non-corporate, anti-war candidate wins by cheating. It's business as usual if the other type wins -- hell at this point it's a tradition.

You want to see lightning-fast recounts? You want to see verifiable paper trails come up in congress, pass, and be implemented in unheard-of speed? Have KUCINICH WIN!! That'll light a fire under their asses, wouldn't it!


[as is becoming usual, got this info from the ever-handy blog Piglipstick]

Legal Disclaimer: I would never seriously suggest that every single person that has the balls to do it go out and hack voting machines, making their mothers win, or Woody Harrelson, or Dr. Ruth -- it's just an absolutely whimsical little fiction I'm proposing for the purpose of creating blog traffic on my own little personal non-commercial blog. It's a game -- see -- for kids!

Ps: I was going to pick Ron Paul as the candidate of choice, but if he got into office, even for a few minutes -- he'd start knocking out programs like Head Start, and Social Security so fast he may cause problems. Sorry Kucinich, I'm sure you understand.

Enjoy your pre-tea morning inspirations,


Friday, January 11, 2008

Name Change with The Study Group

[a pre-requisite for this post is The Study Group introduction, describing a few of these people and their nick-names -- still my most popular post on this blog]

Pre-med students have to take all 3 terms of grueling O-chem. We Oranismal Biology majors, with intent to become teachers, only have to take 1 term.

When The Study Group (almost all pre-meds) found out about this, they looked at me incredulously and said "you're gonna take all 3 terms, RIGHT?" I had to be honest -- dreading the response, "Uh -- no." That damned class is responsible for my first B at PSU -- it broke my streak, the bastard.

Oh the derision and foot-stamping, oh the incredulousness that ensued. We've been studying together, maniacally, for over a year now, and I had to go and fuck it up.

Doc Ock said, "Well, you have a new nick-name then. It has to be done. You're now YOKO... because you BROKE UP THE BAND!!"

It has stuck, I am now known as Yoko to The Group.

Enjoy the loyalty of friends,


Oh the humanity -- two prime examples

First story: In New York, two men cart their roommate's dead body down to the check cashing center to cash his SSI check -- genius.

Second story: A Canadian user of illicit street drugs sues her drug dealer for getting her hooked, and pain and suffering -- and wins! Double genius. [thanks Canukistani Kate for posting this one in the comments below]

I almost considered creating a new label, "Oh The Humanity" for these types of stories, but decided against it. I'm pretty sure I don't want to dwell on this aspect of human behavior, it's just too... too. With these two stories cropping up for me within days, I had to share tho.

Enjoy the inanity of it all,


British ditch "War on Terror" language

"The people who were murdered on July 7 were not the victims of war. The men who killed them were not soldiers," Macdonald said.

I've long asserted that you can't have a War on Terror, because the combatants are criminals, not military, and that's how you deal with them. Holy hell, some sense has crept into the world, I may faint. See more in this article.

[via Shocho]

[thanks to Estu in the comments for pointing out my spelling error, I had War OF Terror as a nice Freudian Slip in the title, fixed now]

Enjoy the moments of calm,


Scheduling conflicts, college-style

Sometimes it feels like every term I'm juggling the scheduling of 3-5 intense, nearly-overlapping part-time jobs. Except the managers of these jobs don't talk to each other very much, or accommodate each other very well.

I've changed my school schedule 3 times already this week. Each time fearing that I'll do some slip up that will extend my graduation date beyond June. The pieces have to fit together juuuust right or I have another 3 -6 months before graduating.

And the counselors are all experts in damage and liability mitigation. You are informed, over and over again, before most any session starts that they don't do this, don't do that, can't help you with this, you'll have to go elsewhere for that.

It's a little stressful.

I look forward to not changing jobs every 3 months. Even though many of the jobs themselves are quite interesting lately (Ornithology, as an example).

Enjoy your steady employ,


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tornado warning in The Couve

Looks like Clark Country got some tornado damage this morning, and a tornado warning for the rest of the day. Careful out there, intense weather is all fun and games til someone loses an eye.

Enjoy your climactic conditions, best you can,


Giuliani gets 9.11% in three different NH towns

What are the odds that Giuliani gets 9.11% in three separate New Hampsire town primaries -- Campton, Sandwich & Hampton. [check the source, it's AP]

My good friend Estu likes to use the law of parsimony, otherwise known as Occam's razor, to analyze this type of event. The simplest or most straightforward, least effort, least complicated answer is most likely the truth.

Seriously, what are the odds? Should be easy for a statistician to calculate -- which means near impossible for me to calculate. If anyone out there can calculate the odds, I'd love to see them. How does Occam's razor apply here.

Piglipstick, where I got this info, postulates this may be a message (presumably from the folks who defrauded the vote, to show that they had). I don't know either way, but it sure as shit is interesting.

Enjoy the enormous anomalies,


Inventor of the "Super Soaker" has solar energy in mind

It seems Lonnie Johnson, the inventor of the Super Soaker series of water gun toys, is now looking to invent a much more efficient solar power system. The nuclear engineer, who holds over 100 other patents, is working on an engine system to create solar power -- but it's an engine that uses heat to move ions. If it lives up to its claims, it would be approximately twice as efficient as current PV systems.

He was smart enough to make meeeelions on kids toys, here's to him pulling this one off too.

[via the canukistani operaterative of The Institute of Jurassic Technology]

Enjoy your glimpses of the future,


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Song stuck in my head series: DiVinyls, I Touch Myself

Actually, the real category this video and song should go under is "songs that may have permanently affected my endocrine system." It was getting a lot of play right as my voice was getting weird, if that tells you anything.

Enjoy the one-hit wonders that helped set your biological clock,


Ps/Addendum/Newsflash: After that video played, I found THIS ONE which is the same song but edited to show the sweaty, manly undercurrent of lust between Captain Kirk and Spock... it's genius.

New record

Broke 200 readers today, according to the bravenet site meter (see link on bottom of sidebar).

I know all meters count different, and some folks checking multiple times are being counted twice if their internet security clears cookies.... but it's a milestone nonetheless.

Enjoy the growth of your hobbies into something interesting,


Your favorite: a Poll!

Wanted to throw this out to ya'll:

Enjoy your chance at interactivity on the intarweb,


I was wrong on the Ron Paul vote fraud

The specific instance I mentioned, where one town had come in with zero votes for Ron Paul, was a Human Error, according to officials. In that instance, it wasn't an electronic voting machine thing at all, it was simply a person taking the 31 votes and writing down 0. Except, in a vote-counting scenario THATS A BUG HUGE FUCKING DEAL. Possibly big enough to instigate a recount, it's votes for crissakes, you've got to get it right.

In this article, they do talk about how stinking easy it was for the voting machines to be hacked, as tested by the organization Black Box Voting. They also cover the voting irregularities more thoroughly than other sources I've seen.

I noticed too, that when I tried to Google this story -- all the top hits were blogs, conspiracy websites, and discussion forums. Where is Big News on this? Oh that's right, Ron Paul isn't newsworthy, I forgot.

I swear I try to stay away from the political stuff -- I swear. But, like The Godfather, "they keep pulln' me back in."

Enjoy truth wherever you can find it,


Fox News Awesomeness

Check out this video. It shows two separate "random focus groups of Republicans" that Fox put together to discuss candidates, and have their discussions aired.

Except there is the same guy in both groups. What are the odds eh?


Enjoy watching Fox news digging their hole even deeper,


Possible new Big Wave Record set, Jan. 5

The former record of a 70 footer off Maui may be broken by surf teams working off Cortes Bank, Southern California. The big-wave teams of Mike Parsons, Brad Gerlach, Greg Long and Grant Baker hit a break on January 5th at Cortes that may bust the record. It awaits verification, but I thought the picture was worth a thousand words.

This post is mainly for The Wife who has the hots for one of these meathead big wave riders, Gerlach I believe. Who loves ya, honey.

[picture credits in linked article]

Enjoy the mortal danger of others,


The best antidote to bad news -- Bacon

An instant classic: Jim Gaffigan on Bacon [via Dooce -- nice call Heather].

Enjoy laughter, whenever you can find it,


Let the voting irregularities begin

Ticketless voting must be fixed before the general elections. There must be a physically-countable product of voting so votes can be challenged and checked. It should have been fixed before the primaries. I predict we see some very funky numbers coming from every state that uses electronic voting in their primaries.

The first I saw (thanks Piglipstick) involve Ron Paul in New Hampshire... in small towns where people absolutely assert that they voted for him, the votes were counted and he received --- ZERO votes.

What was the difference between the last primary and this one? At least on the democratic side, it was a caucus system in Iowa and not voting machines.

In New Hampshire, it is LHS associates' electronic voting machines.

Polls predicted different outcomes, which happens, but when black box voting is being used in the state it throws the whole vote into question.

If you want to look into the issue of verified voting more in depth, check out

I'll have to dig up something to enjoy, this shit pisses me off,


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Steve Novick vs. No Child Left Behind, and some theory about Neocon strategy

Looks like Novick is calling for the repeal of the No Child Left Behind fiasco. This would be huge for me personally, because I will soon be working as a public school teacher. The circumstances no child left behind created are virtually unworkable. Forcing teachers to "teach to the test" is one of the biggest results of this idiotic policy. Steve Novick picked the right issue to distinguish himself with me as a voter. I'll keep watching him and Merkley to determine the best future senator, but this news puts Novick way in front in my eyes.

I've long held that the Neocons have a strategy for privatizing social services. It goes like this: 1. Starve the funding for said service (in the case of schools, just steadily cut the funding; in the case of Social Security it took the Reagan Revolution to crack the bank and allow the government to just flat out steal the money before it could be wrecked), 2. Start up the spin machine about how government can't administrate social services as well as private companies can, 3. Continue in said fashion, starving out the service financially and adding legislative roadblocks as much as possible (no child left behind as an example, hobbling good teaching) until public sentiment begins to shift, 4. Push for privatization to fix this "problem." Of course, if you left the money in social security, there would be no problem; if you adequately funded education, there would be no problem. "The problem" is completely fabricated.

A repeal of No Child Left Behind is huge, and would be an enormous boon to education. It would be a huge wrench in the works for folks who want to privatize education. With just a modicum more funding, education could flourish in this country -- with 1/1000th the funding the military receives, it could be a model for the whole world.

[I can tell there is more for me to address here, but I've run out of time -- expect more on these subjects in the future]

Enjoy the remnants of your public education system,


Disease and flowers own the Dinosaurs?

This World Science page article introduces the most recent work of George Po­inar Jr. of Or­e­gon State Un­ivers­ity and his wife Ro­ber­ta, which suggests that insects, climate and the spread of flowering plants had much to do with the disappearance of the Dinosaurs during and after the K-T boundary. Their book “What Bugged the Di­no­saurs? In­sects, Dis­ease and Death in the Cre­ta­ceous” doesn't completely discount the effects of massive meteor impacts (the most popular theory today regarding the disappearance of the dinosaurs), but say that there were more problems for the Dinosaurs than that -- namely insect-borne pathogens. One telling point is that not all the Dinosaurs disappeared right after the big impact marking the K-T boundary, many lived thousands of years longer, including those that eventually evolved into birds.

The environment was very tropical during this time period, and this combined with the spread of flowering plants led to an enormous radiation of insect life. These are good conditions for diseases of all kinds, not the least of which being blood-borne pathogens spread by insects, like Malaria and Leish­ma­ni­a.

[photo credit in original linked article]

Enjoy your cold, bug-less winters,


Monday, January 7, 2008

Great Borscht hidden in SW Portland

So there's this Java Man coffee franchise (#7 to be exact) that serves authentic Russian food for lunch. Many Russian students at PSU know about it, because one of the professors has them go and order a meal in Russian at the end of their first term of class. The proprietor is apparently very patient with the tongue-tied patrons. It was one of these students that led me there for lunch today.

I had a bowl of Borscht that was absolutely dandy. It was served with a stuffed baked good called a Pirog, a rich kinda-fried Russian pastry. The two made for a warm, comforting and filling meal -- and cheap at only $5.25.

It's always a big deal to find good food near the University, because most of the food readily available within walking distance blows chunks. Ok, that's a bit strong, but it is sub-par to say the least.

Borscht isn't the only Russian dish that Alex and Alla serve at their coffee shop. There is also Golubtzi (cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice); Siberian Pelmeni (Russian dumplings); Vareniki (dumplings with various fillings -- cottage cheese, potato, cabbage); and polish sausage (on a bun, American style). They have a pastry counter full of home-baked pastries as well, which come highly recommended. Not all are sweet, I saw one stuffed with mushrooms and cheese.

If you find yourself near SW 5th and Taylor, look for the Java Man coffee and say hi to Alex. His thick accent is a perfect accompaniment to the food.

Java Man Coffee #7, 518 SW Taylor, Portland OR 97204. Hours 6am - 5pm Mon. - Fri./ Sat. 10-5pm. Phone # (503) 279-0298

Enjoy your hidden ethnic food gems,


Hound of the Baskervilles

As I sit here and take a stroll through the blogs I check in the morning (my new wakeup routine), the howling begins. Next door is a beautiful, but dangerous, Malamute near-puppy who howls all day long when her owners leave for work. We've dubbed her the Hound of the Baskervilles.

The problem with this dog is that it bites, unpredictably. It's a dear when it's with it's owners only. The perfect dog, sweet, and even obedient. But if a stranger approaches, she gets nasty. And, interestingly, nasty in a hidden way. She *wants* to get a bite in, so often shields her aggression so the person will approach close enough to nail.

The situation is very sad, because as I said it is a beautiful dog, and when alone with them a well-behaved one. She is pure-bred Malamute with beautiful fur and eyes. But, after researching what to do about the behavior problem, after going to multiple trainers, the owners are at an impasse. They've contacted rescue organizations, and foster organizations, and no one will take her because of the biting. They've seen a doggie therapist, and to my knowledge she still bites.

And they're now pregnant.

They're being cornered, it seems, into putting the animal down. It is looking like their only option, and they keep promising themselves if they hit one more brick wall, they'll do it. But, as I sit here, the Hound of the Baskervilles is still howling its sad cry.

Enjoy your non-dangerous pets,


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reality check

For some reason I simply can't believe the new quarter starts tomorrow. This is going to be my most packed yet since returning to college. I'll also be dealing with ACTUAL REAL LIFE TEENAGERS next term for the first time in years. We'll see how that shakes down regarding my intention of becoming a secondary school teacher.

I have one "little dudes" class -- Ornithology. Birds have toes, so they count.

I have Aikido again, but intermediate this time. That'll make a bruise.

I have a community service class which puts me into a local "in need" high school to help out.

And I have Human Genetics (yawn). I'm so tired of the micro, the mini, the minuscule in my schooling I can't tell you. Atoms? Fuck 'em I don't care anymore.

I want to study little dudes dammit, THINGS WITH TOES. I know I know, Humans have toes -- but "little dudes" means nonhuman things with toes. Is that too much to ask? I'm a biology major for crissakes, Organismal Biology at that -- why can't I study nonhuman things with toes? Why must I always peer into a microscope -- WHY?


Whew, I feel better, do you feel better?

Enjoy your next 3 months,


Regarding bigotry

There is a great conversation happening over at Preemptive Karma on "civil unions" vs. marriage. I found myself swept up in it in the comments section. There are elements of states rights, and separation of church and state, and legal rhetoric around the phrases involved being discussed.

In the end, to me, this is a simple issue. Either you are for the same legal rights for all Americans or you are not. If you are not, you hold a bigoted stance.

Here is Merriam-Webster's definition of bigot:
a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

Take away all the obscuration and diversionary discussions, remove all the fluff, and bigotry is what I find under the anti-gay-marriage side of this discussion.

If I'm being too simplistic, enlighten me please.

Enjoy civil discourse when you can find it,


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Improved shark picture -- lolshark

I confess, I find many lolcats hilarious. My friend Kate posted this picture in the comments for the shark post below, and I wanted to make sure folks didn't miss it -- a lolshark. The whole "has a flavor" is a thread running through lolcat humor. I thought this treatment of it was genius.

Enjoy your internet-driven interactive wiki humor,


Amaziong Great White photo, and some stats

Saw this photo on another Oregon blog The Doc Is In, and it got me thinking about irrational fear of shark attack. The images scare the eff out of us, and touch a primal place inside it seems. Thus, this means they are good media, good things to flash about to create emotion and sell airtime and movies -- and get blog hits too.

It is this same fear that promotes and supports the wanton killing of these great animals, sadly. Here is a picture editorializing my feelings about this killing (couldn't resist).

What are the real risks though, just to be clear? Here are a few numbers I grabbed from this great ichthyology site from the Florida Museum of Natural History:

Annual Risk Of Death During One's Lifetime

Disease and Accidental Causes of Deaths, # Annual Deaths, Death Risk During One's Lifetime

Heart disease 652,486: 1 in 5
Cancer 553,888: 1 in 7
Stroke 150,074: 1 in 24
Hospital Infections 99,000: 1 in 38
Flu 59,664: 1 in 63
Car accidents 44,757: 1 in 84

Shark attack 1: 1 in 3,748,067

U.S. Annual Average of Animal-Related Fatalities During the 1990s

Deer (Vehicular Collisions) 130
Dogs 18
Snakes 15
Mountain Lions 0.6
Sharks 0.4

Now think about that -- dogs intentionally killed 18 people in this time period, that's pretty creepy in and of itself. It's not at all like the 130 unintentional deer-related fatalities, in my book.

[all above stats Copyright International Shark Attack File]

[original story and photograph credit here]

Enjoy your irrational fears,


Friday, January 4, 2008

Brick House via Star Wars -- for Catherine the Great

I was on the phone tonight with my good friend Catherine Just, known to us as Catherine the Great. She mentioned that the blog had gotten a bit wordy for her lately -- she wanted Cliff's Notes versions of each post. So, for C the G, here is a short post and one of your favorite songs.

Enjoy your responsive bloggers,


Big Wind

That is a picture of Stu's horse Ace, an old friend of mine, being blown about by the wind storm this morning in Walla Walla. It's also, coincidentally, part of Stu's back yard, normally the part where you can look out over rolling wheat fields and then to some beautiful foothills in the distance.

The winds at that time were 35 mph or so, with 55 mph gusts. About an hour later, when I decided to attempt a drive home, they'd ratcheted up 10 - 15 mph and the gusts up even more. Stu and Colleen had lost power in the house, about 10 minutes after they filled the tub and some 5-gallon containers full of water. No power, no water in their little water district. That was one of the reasons I decided to leave, I didn't want to put a strain on their temporarily limited resources.

It was a bit surreal to drive in the wind. The sky was dark and the road had constant debris flying past, lots of tumbleweed especially. There were barn roofs torn off and laying by the side of the road, and at one point a downed tree caused me to have to detour a bit.

Eventually, I hit open road, which in this part of the country is really really open. That was comforting, no more trees, just wheat. Outside of Milton-Freewater Oregon, when the road really opened up, I came upon 3 semis in a row that had been capsized by the wind and abandoned. Next was 6 power poles that were down in a row, but to my luck away from the road instead of over it.

The whole drive until way past Pendleton was dark like in the picture with Ace. Just a muddy grey weird color, almost like the color the clouds take on before a tornado, but a bit less green.

The roads were nearly abandoned, except for service vehicles of all sorts. I didn't see any car wrecks, just slowdowns due to trees in the road or big debris. It only took me an hour or so to drive out of the worst of the wind and be back in the gorge, on I-84 West, heading home.

I dodged a bullet apparently though, because not long after I got through Pendleton, the 84 was closed, and the winds increased even more. Gusts were reaching over 70 mph.

All in all it was an exciting and interesting drive home. Time to shower all this grit out of my hair and ears.

Enjoy your normalized weather patterns,


Operation Clay Pigeon Liberation -- continued Walla Walla report

So, the day before I was to leave Walla Walla, the circumstances were right for Stu and I to head out and do some shooting. We were sent on a wild goose chase by a forest service employee first off, but in the process saw a pretty little wildlife area not 20 minutes from the house. We then drove rural roads that poked up into the foothills all around, in search of an established shooting area -- normally a quarry or hillside with a good turnout, littered with bulletholes and some spent targets.

Although we saw lots of land, some great vistas of the valley where Walla Walla rests, horses, deer and pheasants -- we didn't see good shooting areas anywhere. Stu and I are crippled by a conscience, so won't just shoot just anywhere. Although we knew we'd be picking up every shell spent, there is no picking up clay pigeon shards -- so the area had to be established as a shooting area or we wouldn't use it. We did see the characteristic bulldozings of a mini housing development right in the middle of some prime agricultural land that was quite tempting. They were trashing the place anyway, and all the soil would soon be covered with insta-lawn -- but we drove on.

Eventually, after driving many country roads lined with farms and wheat fields, we decided to follow the Touchet river.
That was a dandy decision in and of itself, because the valley was really beautiful, with foothills on either side, occasional outcrops of basalt, and lots of agricultural land following the river bottom. The whole river had riparian restoration work running down both sides all the way up the valley. I've seen more riparian habitat restoration on this short trip than I've seen in months.

As a side note, outside while I type this, the wind is absolutely furious. A dust cloud has just moved in and darkened the sky, and substantial debris is flying by the office window. It's impressive, going to be an interesting drive home.

Back to clay pigeons. As we were driving and oogling over the dandy brown trout and steelhead water, the perfect agricultural and scrub mix for pheasants and quail, we came upon a gravel quarry. I pulled into it, and at first it looked too clean to be a shooting area, but then we saw a pile of clay pigeons. That was the sign. We had finally found our elusive shooting spot.

We set up and each had a turn shooting while the other threw targets -- but to be honest I did the lion's share of the shooting. This was my first time and I was excited to try it out. I want to be a serviceable shooter with the old school double barrel guns I inherited from my grandfather. He would appreciate that -- wingshooting was a skill that all the men in my family had just one generation back, and one I sorely lacked.

In the end, over 8 dozen clay pigeons were released into the wild, with only one dying of anything but natural causes. Only 1 in 100 died a violent death. We laughed over our record, and decided that we needed to head up the CPLA (Clay Pigeon Liberation Association), or better yet the ACPHL -- Association for Clay Pigeon Health and Longevity. Liberation didn't adequately express the degree to which we showed ourselves to be staunch supporters of clay pigeons dying of natural causes, on the ground, victims of gravity not shotgun shot -- longevity was best. I may need to get some ACPHL bumper stickers made up to be able to advertise our dedication to clay pigeon health.

We came home to Colleen's fantastic cooking. We cleaned up the guns (another big part of the scenarios for me, I watched carefully), ate dinner and sipped whiskey before bed. A dandy day to be sure.

Enjoy learning about your blood relations by walking in their footsteps,


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Most beautiful bird in the world: Impeyan Pheasant

Hows that for a provocative post title. I'm serious, however, these birds are otherworldly. The colors you see on the male here are completely liquid and iridescent. I really wished I could find video of them so you could see this aspect of the bird's plumage in action, it's just outlandishly gorgeous.

The bird is known as a Himalayn Monal, or Lophophorus impejanus. Its range includes some of the more conflicted parts of the globe currently; Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tibet -- as well as Bhutan and NW India.

Like most pheasants, it likes temperate to even cold temperatures, and what prompted this post was seeing a gorgeous specimen in an outside aviary in downtown Walla Walla. He was strutting around just fine in the still 27-degree weather. There were other exotic pheasants there, and they too weren't in protected greenhouses, just penned and open to the weather. It's amazing to me that something so outrageously colored lives in a cooler climate, something in me just expects to hear that it's Tropical/Equatorial.

Fancy salmon flies sometimes utilize Impeyan feathers in their patterns, which is another reason I was thinking about this particular bird recently. I know this guy, see, who ties very classy salmon/steelhead flies.

Here and here are a few other links to sites with more info and pictures. They're worth a browse.

[Hey! Now the post is even Spell Checked, like a REAL POST -- just can't get used to these set up options at Stu's house darnit.]

Enjoy the extravagant beauty,