Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rocking Horse

I spent quite a bit of time looking for an image of a rocking horse for Chris. specifically one like the antique he had a child. It's also a lot like a plane shaped rocking toy my father had before the war. I looked through pages and pages of images on Google, getting to page 39 in the results before trying eBay and finding it within a matter of seconds. Capitalism trumps again.

His was different in that it didn't have the springs or the separate rockers. I think it was just solid curved pieces of wood. I also don't remember the pony being quite so maniacal...

Link found here.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cat House Project!!

Here's a hilarious ad from CraigsList outlining a great plan to raise money for the Humane Society of Baltimore County.

I quote:

Our latest fund raiser in this cause involves “Kitty Porn”. We have created a calendar for 2009 featuring twelve mostly middle aged, mostly out of shape, mostly Jewish, and completely naked REFOBs (Reasonable Facsimiles of Bikers)! Since our most tender areas are covered by cats, it is suitable for display in family areas (eating areas not recommended). The calendars are $20 and all profits go to The CatHouse Project. E-mail me at the "reply to" address for information about ordering our calendar.
They sound rather brave don't they? Cats are a little too spike to be safe near the tender areas...


Monday, July 28, 2008

Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!

In honor of Cullen's birthday today I present the Dalek chocolate cake. Instructions and creator's blog found here.


What's the first rule of Fight Club?


Jurassic Fight Club starts tomorrow on the History Channel. Dr. Holtz is doing something with this show, although I don't remember the details.

I'm watching Prehistoric Monsters Revealed right now. The dude just said that insects get their oxygen through a series of tracheal tubes. They have their own little internets! Woot!


Sunday, July 27, 2008

These are the questions I ask my teenager

Cullen, who is only going to be a teenager for a short time as he is turning 19 this week, doesn't always get normal mother of teenager questions from me. Sure I ask him where he's going and when he's coming home when he goes out, just like I tell him where I'm going and when I'm coming back when I go out, because it's the polite thing to do, but the really hard questions are entirely different. Take these that I just asked him:

How many are in a cohort?

Do you think if you had enough cohorts of German Shepherd Dogs they could take a raptor in a fight?

And yes, if you've read the Gabriel book the whole dog against raptor theme is repeated, but in a new and different way. There aren't any raptors in this new book. The bit I'm writing is more the sort of desperate fantasy planning you might do when you're completely overwhelmed and out of real world options. While you're engaged in planning to run off to raptor land with your cohorts of dogs your underbrain is figuring out a viable option that doesn't involve chicken concestors.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Let's go to Liverpool

Artichoke, who brought us the Sultan's Elephant and the Teletrascope, is descending on Liverpool in September with a new project. While the details are secret the email they sent me said they are teaming up with La Machine to create an astonishing show. The poster certainly looks amazing.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ticks in Turkey

Here's an interesting article from the Turkish Daily News about a possible tick in the Parliament grounds, where the lawmakers like to nip out for a smoke. The ticks here have Lyme's and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and who knows what else but in Turkey forty people have died of an Ebola like illness called Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever. That's pretty scary.

It was as if a time bomb was placed somewhere in the garden of Parliament. Tick tock… Tick tock… Tick tock…

It was just news when the people of the country were being bitten by ticks and some 40 of them died as a result of getting the deadly CCHF virus, but a tick in the Parliament compound and a parliamentary employee being bitten by a tick was a source of panic and a unanimous demand by parliamentarians that something has to be done urgently against the “grave threat!”

These ticks know no limits… They must have realized that while it might be a natural thing for them to bite normal Turks, entering the premises of the representatives of Turks and biting someone there – though not a representative but just one of those normal Turks employed there – was a crime beyond all limits!

The article is a bit repetitious but well worth a read.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This plan needed rethinking

From last night Credit Union Journal Briefing:

School Bombing Plan Draws Jail Terms
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Two teens who plotted to set off a pipe bomb at a local elementary school to divert police from a planned robbery at Founders FCU a year ago were sentenced to jail terms last week.



Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Chris was just reading a bottle of Lysol and did the math, coming up with this charming notion; for every billion bacteria it kills it leaves one million alive. And you know that means you'll be back at a billion quite quickly.

That reminded me of this comic. Be sure to hold your mouse over the image and read the alternate text.


Monday, July 21, 2008

The light dawns

I just figured out why Comcast is so eager to get everyone to sign up for their phone service. It's because that way when the cable goes out, as it does three times a week or so, they don't have to listen to people calling up to complain. Nobody will be able to call in as their phone will also be knocked out.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Dark Knight

Chris and I went to see The Dark Knight last night, at a late showing, which meant I was up until four this morning. It's a compelling film, with a master performance by Heath Ledger, but the Batman himself is curiously absent, even from the scenes which feature him.

I can't understand why Batman Begins is such a forgettable film, or why Christian Bale is such a nonentity in The Dark Knight. He's an amazing actor, especially in a film I loved, The Prestige.

The two roles are even similar in that he plays a reserved man with an enormous secret in both movies. He's heartbreaking in The Prestige and he's not really there in The Dark Knight. It's baffling.

But even so, you should go and see The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger alone is worth the price. He's like the embodiment of the Trickster archetype. Coyote and Anansi would be proud.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Complications ensue

I had a dream last night about a movie I was making, writing, directing, etc. After I woke up all I could remember were the dailies, really just one scene where my lead, a teenage boy who had come to town and gotten involved in a complicated plot that required a change of clothes and ended with him stuffing a sock into his pocket, where it dangled along his leg. The voiceover said:

The sock hanging from my pocket was a constant reminder that while the city may be hot enough for me I may not be cool enough for the city.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer

I hated the first Fantastic Four movie. I wasn't going to watch the second one but I really like Doug Jones so I finally forced myself to watch it tonight so I could see his performance. It was so not good. The characters seemed to be having a contest to see who could be the biggest jerk. Johnny is a creep, Reed is a pompous jerk, Susan is a barbie doll with inflated lips and Ben is a jerk with a short fuse. I think Susan is supposed to be the nice one all the rest are supposed to be super cool macho people but it didn't work for me. It was nice seeing Stan Lee but five seconds of Stan Lee does not a movie make.

Next up Rainman. I love Dustin Hoffman.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Going to be at Comic Con?

Neil is signing and selling 100 of his black t-shirts to raise money for the CBLDF. The entry before this one has more details.

I've just picked up another weekly column so I am busier than ever. It's for an automotive site and the first one was about awful commutes and crazy things you see on them.

Then I had to run up to Baltimore to see my optho-neurologist and there was a tractor trailer that had burned up that slowed traffic for miles. Then on the way home a car accident and a bus that may have been on fire. A fire truck was behind it doing something so maybe. Three incidents in the space of like four miles. Bizarre.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm going to fly on down and fly away


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Are Patrick Maitland and Gigolo Joe cousins? Just wondering. They're both awfully pretty.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mad as a bag of snakes

This is a nice advert for Richard Hammond's book On the Edge, written about his crash and his recovery when he was "mad as a bag of snakes." Writing about traumatic brain injury is difficult. Understanding it may be even more difficult for those fabled people who have, as the saying goes, never been sick a day in their lives. That's one of the values of a book like this, making it easier to understand something that has been sensationalized.

Side note - it's interesting to me that he mentions Stephen King in the Mirror article as Stephen later went on write Duma Key, which features a man who has a traumatic brain injury after some construction equipment backs into his truck, nearly killing him. Stephen did an excellent job, as I mentioned when I talked about the book for my Quality Time column.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sredni Vashtar

I was talking to someone the other day and the subject of Saki's story Sredni Vashtar came up. Unfortunately I don't remember who it was but I do remember that they hadn't read the story. I've hunted it down and here is a html version that's not too hard on the eyes. Weirdly this file doesn't actually say that Saki is the author but he is and the story was collected in the book the Chronicles of Clovis, although Clovis himself does not appear. The story is of course in the public domain since Saki died during the Great War. I'll post the beginning here.

Conradin was ten years old, and the doctor had pronounced his professional opinion that the boy would not live another five years. The doctor was silky and effete, and counted for little, but his opinion was endorsed by Mrs. De Ropp, who counted for nearly everything. Mrs. De Ropp was Conradin's cousin and guardian, and in his eyes she represented those three-fifths of the world that are necessary and disagreeable and real; the other two-fifths, in perpetual antagonism to the foregoing, were summed up in himself and his imagination. One of these days Conradin supposed he would succumb to the mastering pressure of wearisome necessary things---such as illnesses and coddling restrictions and drawn-out dulness. Without his imagination, which was rampant under the spur of loneliness, he would have succumbed long ago.

Mrs. De Ropp would never, in her honestest moments, have confessed to herself that she disliked Conradin, though she might have been dimly aware that thwarting him ``for his good'' was a duty which she did not find particularly irksome. Conradin hated her with a desperate sincerity which he was perfectly able to mask. Such few pleasures as he could contrive for himself gained an added relish from the likelihood that they would be displeasing to his guardian, and from the realm of his imagination she was locked out---an unclean thing, which should find no entrance.

He's such a beautiful writer. I love the bit about hating her with a desperate sincerity. That's a lovely description of the intensity of childhood emotion. And if anyone knew about Aunts it was Saki. (And of course Roald Dahl.)


Friday, July 11, 2008

In which I profess ignorance

Here is an ad for a device with which I am unfamiliar. It has a terrifying name; Beaver Squeezer Log Grapple, and it costs six grand.

I'm just wondering if the company has a website. And if some people end up there accidentally while Googling "beaver squeezer" for some other reason. If so I would be really nervous if I ever had to look something up on their computer.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Robin Hood hater

This week's column is about Robin Hood, the series playing on BBC America and how I can't stand it. I didn't mention two things:

1) The green eyes in the opening credits don't seem to belong to anyone. They're just there to match the forest or something. As far as I can tell the actor who plays Robin Hood has blue eyes.

2) They always end the show with a "comic" situation or a joke then freeze the actors in the act of laughing. It's very 60's sit-comesque and doesn't work for me at all.

The reason I keep turning the show on is because it's like a primer on how not to act or write. It amazes me every week.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Scary fraud story

Here's a very interesting article from this week's issue of our Fraud and Compliance newsletter.

It's about flipping in a specific zip code in Atlanta and one paragraph is particularly chilling as it documents the many times one residence has been flipped in the last few years. The author then talks about how the widespread fraud is making it difficult to determine the actual value of the house, which is currently owned by a lender.

It's well worth a careful read. And if you like you can subscribe to the newsletter, which is free and comes out once a week on Wednesdays. The link to subscribe is free.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

No fish but

Cam went fishing the other day and came back with these photos. He's in Alaska visiting his dad for six weeks.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Save the best for last

The most interesting, thought provoking part of this piece by Cory Doctorow comes at the very end.

Risk-taking behavior — including ill-advised social, sexual, and substance adventures — are characteristic of youth itself, so it's natural that anything that co-occurs with youth, like SF or TV or video games, will carry the blame for them. However, the frightened and easily offended are doing a better job than they ever have of collapsing the horizons of young people, denying them the pleasures of gathering in public or online for fear of meteor-strike-rare lurid pedophile bogeymen, or on the pretense of fighting gangs or school shootings or some other tabloid horror. Literature may be the last escape available to young people today. It's an honor to be writing for them.

I wholeheartedly agree with just about everything he says there. When we're young we learn by doing and making mistakes. How many times do we fall before we learn to walk properly? We have to be prepared to be hurt, sometimes badly, to learn new things and to become new people, to fulfill our potential.

And yes, there are certainly people out there who are trying very hard to keep our young people from spreading their wings, or even noticing that they have wings.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Build your own room!

Looking for a place to stay in Brooklyn? You can build your own!

Best part of the ad:

The architect moved out before he could complete this room, so it has curtains instead of walls. That's about the only con.
(** I don't mean for the photo to be deceiving.. Your space is BELOW that room. There are curtains up now, and a cabinet, and cushions and bedding and whatnot.)

I've no idea why they posted a photo of a room that's not for rent but this isn't the first time I've seen this approach. One ad we saw was for a six foot by seven foot room or, as we like to call it at my house, a closet, and they posted an image of a huge master bedroom.

This is for Chris, btw, as he prepares to go back to school in the fall.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Best argument ever

I love this sketch because it's so true. The pettiness of the whole thing, the sneering, the snottiness and then the final line; all delivered perfectly. Brilliant.


Friday, July 04, 2008


There's a Twilight Zone marathon running on the SciFi channel right now, going on until five am.

What are you waiting for? Go watch it!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cable out again

My cable was out again last night, which may have been a good thing as I was weirdly spellbound by the terrible Violet Blue thread over at BoingBoing. The comment trail, which is around 1400 comments at the time of this post, has numerous examples of how not to communicate.

The loaded language is so prevalent as to make the entire thing actually painful to read. You can tell people aren't listening when they start throwing these kinds of terms around:

You people


Hand waving


Get some sun

I'm so bored


owe you nothing



And I could go on but it's depressing. It's even more depressing to see people I used to respect behaving so badly I wondered if someone had stolen their passwords.

Not activating my password when I registered a year or so ago was obviously the right move.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A couple of interesting and sad things

1) This obituary of Walter Sukacz, who was captured by the Nazis when he was a teenager.

Mr. Sukacz, a native of Jaskowicz, Poland, was seized by Nazis by the time he was 16 and sent to work on a forced-labor farm in Germany. He was liberated by U.S. soldiers in 1945.

He immigrated to the United States in 1949 and joined the U.S. Army before he became a citizen. He served during the Korean War in Germany, where he earned his grade and high school degrees.

Prisoner of the Nazis, became an American GI himself then served in Germany during a different war. That must have been really odd. And brave.

2) This piece from Match It For Pratchett about how bus stops can be soothing to those that suffer from Alzheimer's.

They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

It's nice that this works but it wouldn't work for those who never had a decent public transportation system and were never in the habit of taking the bus. I wonder what would work for them. Fake Starbucks?

3) Story about patients poisoned with lead in their marijuana.

One package contained obvious lead particles (Figure 1); this strongly indicated that the lead was deliberately added to the package rather than inadvertently incorporated into the marijuana plants from contaminated soil. At this point, we involved the police, and a full criminal investigation was begun. Health authorities immediately started an anonymous screening program for marijuana users. After 2 weeks, 145 persons had used this service. A total of 95 of these persons had blood lead levels that required treatment (>25 µg per deciliter), and some of these persons had dangerous levels of lead (>80 µg per deciliter).

It's rather terrifying. The lead is absorbed by the respiratory tract which is a pretty quick route to the bloodstream. Luckily the police and the health system worked together and quickly and saved quite a few lives.