Thursday, May 31, 2007

More creepy crawlies

NOTE: Click here to read the update to this post.

So I'm helping my Supermodel Wife with the laundry Sunday evening. I get out the drying rack (one of those expanding wood ones) to hang up some clothes when I find I have disturbed someone's new home.

The eight-legged tenant of the laundry room in my basement had, by the look of the dried bug corpse in her web, just finished dinner.

Let me just say that I'm not especially a huge fan of the little buggers, but spiders freak me out a lot less than they used to. I used to have a huge phobia of spiders stemming from a childhood incident when I somehow found myself alone in an abandoned campground shelter -- one of the walls shimmering with thousands millions of long-legged dancing arachnids. I had to walk through a foot-thick layer of cobwebs to get out.

Writing about this now, I can still feel the sticky strands of spider silk clinging to my hair and skin.

Anyway, I'm much better now. I'm much more tolerant of spiders. The way I see it, they're keeping down the rest of the insect population that I have a much bigger issue with. No, spiders and me have an understanding these days. They stay at least six feet away from me at all times and don't inhabit public spaces, and I don't crush them out of shear abject terror.

So you can see my dilemma when I found this particular spider had reneged on the deal. I don't want to be unreasonable and smash the thing on general principle, since the drying rack was put away when she decided to live there. But surely you can see that I can't allow the use of the drying rack for a spider home, especially on laundry day.

I was standing there pondering my next move when I took a closer look at the specimen. It had interesting markings on it's back and belly (do spiders have bellies?).That's when the thought struck that I might have something special here. Given the radon levels in our basement, this quite possibly could be the kind of radio active spider that gave Spiderman his powers. How cool would it be to go to work the next day fit and trim and casting webs all over the joint.

So I put the thing on my hand and tried to get it to bite me. Unfortunately, it wasn't feeling very aggressive (I think because it had just gorged itself on a cricket or housefly or whatever the corpse in its web was). So alas, no superpowers.

But I am curious about what kind of spider this is. I know that there are some bloggers out there who are into biology and entomology, so if you could be so kind as to take a stab at identifying the thing in the comments I would appreciate it.

After all, I feel like I should have a name for the thing I ended up smashing.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

3A.M. Poll: Your favorite movie villain

Sure, we all love the heroes, but it's the villains who really make the movie happen (or not).

So who's your favorite? If it's not on this list, just choose the last option and let me know your (wrong) opinion in the comments.



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Check out this big cock

I saw it at Suburban Lawn and Garden last weekend. I'm thinking about buying it to put out on my patio for the express purpose of being able to say to house guests "Would you like to go out on the patio to see my cock?"

You can fill in your own jokes in the comments.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Uninvited guest

"Just don't tell my Supermodel Wife about this," I said to Bill as we drove back to the house.

I needed to give this one a few days to blow over before breaking the news to the wife. After all, we still had a two and a half hour drive home and I didn't need her worrying about this.

Bill (my way hip step-father-in-law) and I were helping my sister-in-law with some home improvements. Her husband Nick is serving a tour in Iraq, dodging IEDs, so this seemed like a meaningful and fitting way to celebrate Memorial Day.

And part of building the new fence in the back yard required us to make a trip to the local hardware store in Junction City. The trip was uneventful, just needed to pick up a few lag screws, washers and L-braces for the project.

But as we returned to my car, from across the small parking lot, we saw what looked like a thin shadow floating across the pavement toward rear passenger side of my car. As we came closer, we saw a rather large, thick black snake slithering toward the protection of my car.

It was about four feet long, about an inch in diameter in the middle and black as fresh tarmac.

There was no rattle, and it didn't have the triangular head of venomous snakes so I wasn't worried about being poisoned. I was content to let it crawl away, or if it didn't, I would just run over it when I pulled out of the parking space.

But Bill, who was on that side of the car, saw that the reptile had other ideas.

"He crawled up into you wheel well," Bill said.

Clerks from inside the store had seen the events and were now approaching with a broomstick.

"Was that another snake?" said the clerk with the 'Rachel' name tag. Evidently, this sort of thing was a regular occurrence.

The brave Rachel bent down to poke the handle of the broomstick under my car. But by now, Snakey (I had named him) had taken up residence inside the wheel cavity, or bumper, or my tailpipe, or someplace else out of sight but still in my car. There was nothing to do but go back and finish our projects.

"I know where I wouldn't be parking tonight," joked Bill. And he was right. The car would stay parked in the driveway, not the garage.

For the rest of the afternoon, I kept wondering if Snakey were still in my car. If so, where? My fear was that when we left for home, he would be coiled up on the floor when we put our 4-year-old in her seat in the back.

And during the two-and-a-half hour drive home I worried that as the temperature cooled during the night, the serpent might climb higher into the engine to seek warmth, there to be chewed up by the various pistons and belts of the car's mechanics. Am I going to wake up to the smell of rotting snake carcass on my way to work one morning?

But the biggest question I have is when will it be safe to tell my supermodel wife that she may have shared the car with a 4-foot long snake yesterday.

So to any of you biology experts, how long does a garden-variety snake go without eating? Could he still be in there? Could he have survived two hours at 75-mph?

Maybe I'll go to Midas for a quick brake inspection/snake removal.

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YouTube Tuesday: "You spell 'honour' like a Brit"

It was painfully obvious over the weekend that all of the good TV shows were on hiatus. But luckily, we have the emerging art of short-form Internet 'webisode' serials to scratch out pop culture itch.

Previously, we've featured the Chad Vader series, and God, Inc. among others.

One of my favorite new series is Tiny Plaid Ninjas. In the first of the three episodes, two mortal enemies must work together to defeat a common foe.



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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Son of Hogzilla


By now you've read about the rather largish wild pig killed by an 11-year-old Alabama good old boy with a pistol.

If you haven't read the link. You can also check out posts by XO and ElBorak and a host of other bloggers.

Why would you want to do that? Well, if you're like me, it's because you have nothing better to do than mouse around on the internet reading other peoples' thoughts.

And, like El Borak, I think what people are saying (writing) about this story is as interesting as the story itself.

There are those who don't like to think about where the meat on their table comes from, who think all animals are doe-eyed fluffy unicorns in the land of the Peppermint Princess:
that's disgusting. i don't know which is worse the fact that you shot the innocent creature for three hours strait or that you where smirking in that picture. I wish i could beat that smirk right of your face you dick head. i cant understand why anybody would kill a poor animal. You people disgust me, I hope you rot in hell.
Then, there are those who think parents have no business teaching their kids how to kill monstrous swine -- at least with a hand gun.

Our own Xavier Onassis falls into this category:
I cannot imagine teaching a 5 year old to kill or handing an 11 year old boy a .50 caliber pistol and watching him shoot a half-ton pig eight times an then spend 3 hours chasing it through the woods to kill it and turn it into sausage.

That is definitely not the way I would want to raise any son of mine.
Sure XO, you say that now. But when the oil runs out in a couple of years, and the apocalypse comes and we're living in a Road Warrior-like dystopia, it's going to be kids like that who are feasting on the entrails of their enemies.

Learning to kill giant mutant omnivores? The way I see it, that's just good parenting.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

The Case of the Missing Pants

Xavier Onasis makes a solid point about a lawsuit filed by the father of a drunk driver who was killed because of his drunk (and possibly high) driving.

But believe it or not, that's not the most ridiculous lawsuit in the news these days.

Consider this story from (big surprise) the Washington, D.C., area:
A customer got so steamed when a dry cleaner lost his trousers that he sued for $65 million. Two years later, he is still pressing his [law]suit. ...

..(T)he problem began in May 2005 when Pearson became a judge and brought several suits for alterations to Custom Cleaners in Washington. A pair of pants from one suit was missing when he requested it two days later.

Pearson asked the cleaners for the full price of the suit: more than $1,000.
Now, we've come to expect this kind of idiocy from the Jerry Springer set. But the idiot plaintiff in this case was a freakin' JUDGE!!!

And it gets better...
... (T)he cleaners have made three settlement offers to Pearson: $3,000, then $4,600, then $12,000.

But Pearson was not satisfied and expanded his calculations beyond one pair of pants. Because Pearson no longer wanted to use his neighborhood dry cleaner, he asked in his lawsuit for $15,000 -- the cost of renting a car every weekend for 10 years to go to another business.

Manning said Pearson somehow thinks he has the right to a dry cleaner within four blocks of his apartment.

The bulk of the $65 million demand comes from Pearson's strict interpretation of Washington consumer protection law, which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation, per day. Pearson counted 12 violations over 1,200 days, then multiplied that by three defendants.

But a week later, the Chungs said the pants had been found and refused to pay. Pearson said those were not his pants, and decided to take the Chungs to the cleaners and sue.
I'd like to give this judge the benefit of the doubt. I'd like to think he's doing this to set an example of how bad these frivolous lawsuits are becoming.

But as a judge, he should know better. There is enough abuse in the legal system already, and everybody knows it.

Thankfully, a large segment of the public is behind the real victims in this case. Attorneys for the South Korean immigrant owners of the dry cleaners have been inundated with donations to help the Chung's pay their legal defense costs. A defense fund has been set up at www.customcleanersdefensefund.com.

Now, how do I donate to the fund to get that judge disbarred?

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Friday Blogthing: Hasslehoff

The other day, a friend told me to "hasslehoff" during a bit of good-natured ribbing. After having a good laugh at the expression, I decided I'd better figure out how I would, in fact, "hasslehoff" if the need ever arose.

Luckily, the interwebs once again came to the rescue.

Cult Icon Hasselhoff





You are Hasselhoff, the Cult Icon. You revel in your enigmatic and confusing popularity – moreso in the positive aspects of it than the confusing or unclear parts. You are the shining star of the world: more specifically, of Germany. Someday, you will be featured in a ticker-tape parade. Someday!


Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Gastro congressional disorder

While they're hard at not-work not-proposing a plan for dealing with Iraq, our new reps in the House have passed legislation to distract us with a useless investigation into gas prices.

The bill is sponsored by the dramatic Bart Stupak, D-Mich.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., said the legislation would help stop "the truly outrageous prices we are seeing at the gas pump," The Detroit News reported.

"Today, every member has a choice," said Stupak. "Side with big oil or side with the consumers who are being ripped off at the gas pump."
The "us v. them" black and white view point makes for good copy and emotional rhetoric. But like the legislation itself, is merely a distraction.

First of all, the prices aren't "outrageous."

A diagram in the June issue of Wired Magazine shows that "even when prices hit near-record levels in the US, American drivers get off cheap compared to European motorists."

Londoners, for example, were paying $6.65 and gallon for petrol when the article was written. Parisians pony up $6.52 a gallon, and Romans forfeit $5.62 to fly around in their Fiats.

What seems to be getting stuck in Stupak's craw is that companies are making money from selling gasoline. Can you imagine!?! A corporation profiting from doing business! The impudence! The shear audacity!

Look, the reason petroleum companies are charging more for gasoline is because they can, because consumers are paying for it. There are signs that we (consumers) may be reaching our limit, but I still see hundreds of people commuting to work in SUVs and giant pickups with nobody but the driver inside.

Americans don't really care about the price of gas. Not yet. Sure we may grumble. And Stupak and other politicians will try to score political points off that grumbling.

But the way to beat high gas prices is to change our behavior. When we really start to care, we'll buy more efficient vehicles and use more public transportation or maybe ride a bike once in a while.

A congressional investigation sure as hell won't do any good. I suspect Stupak knows this. This looks more and more like a wedge issue. A way for Stupak and Co. to make a meaningless gesture and then point to political enemies as being "in favor of big oil and against the little man."

So tedious.

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Wired on the Bloch

In case you haven't seen it yet, Wired magazine features the the new Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in its June issue.

Sonia Zjawinski gives a two paragraph overview of the challenge of the design and the solutions that architect Stephen Holl came up with.
Of course, burying a gallery under 8 inches of sod could make for a dark, dungeon-like environment. So Holl came up with an innovative skylight system: five giant cubes of glass that jut above ground, channeling natural light into the 840-foot-long gallery (equivalent to a 70-story skyscraper laid on its side). These light boxes, along with strategically placed partitions and computer-controlled window screens, ensure the 220 permanent pieces look their best — and are unharmed by UV rays and the greenhouse effect. Jackson Pollock's paintings are drippy enough.
For those who haven't been in, or seen pictures of the interiors, there is a good illustration of the way the shape of the interior walls redirect natural light to the galleries below.

You can also review pictures I have previously posted. Also, the opening of the new building is only about two weeks away. Check out the schedule of planned activities at the museum's blog.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Priceless works of art

I have become the proud owner of this latest work by my absolute favorite local artist.
"Friendly Alien" 2005

I'll leave it to more sophisticated art critics than myself to do a detailed critical analysis of this piece. But just try to tell me that this doesn't have echos of a budding Picassoesque genius.

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some revelation

I've had some of these phrases stuck in my head since The Sopranos took a stab (pun) at artsy-fartsiness last Sunday.
The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all around it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
-W. B. Yeats
I don't really have much to add in terms of commentary. I don't mean to be maudlin. Certainly I'm more upbeat about the future than Bill B. Yeats was after World War I.

I think the phrase that's sticking with me in particular is "The best lack all convictions, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity." That seems to be particularly descriptive of bloggers, no?

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

3 A.M. Poll: Your favorite Shakespearean insult

I thought I'd take a stab and a little marketing research and ask the two or three readers here for a some polling data.

Hopefully I'll make this a regular thing. Hell, it might even be fun.

We're going to get this started with today's question: What is your favorite Shakespearean insult?

If it's not on this list, choose the last option and add your favorite as a comment.



Got an idea for a future poll question? Email it to me and I'll post it next week. And remember, it's all in good fun.

P.S. -- The entries for today's poll were all taken from actual Shakespearean plays. Anyone care to take a stab at naming them?

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Is that a frog in your pocket?

Professor Paul has posted this week's Kansas Guild of Bloggers carnival over at The force that through...

This is a great roundup of what's going on in the Kansas blogworld over the past week and really showcases a diversity of views. Go read it and then consider submitting a post for next week's carnival, which will be hosted by John B. at Blog Meridian.

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YouTube Tuesday: I held out as long as I could

If there's any program that is consistently successfully satirical as The Simpsons, I don't know what it is.

The show has been around for 20 years and they haven't lost their edge.


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Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Bloody Monday

"Concrete steps and faces don't mix too well," said Dr. Obvious.

It was the summation of a series of events that had started about an hour earlier as I was rinsing the shampoo out of my hair. My Supermodel wife had excitedly burst into the bathroom holding a 4-year-old with a mouth gushing blood.

In the bustle of a Monday morning routine, the 4-year-old had followed her mother to the basement where fresh clothes hung ready for the work week. Clothes retrieved, the mother had asked repeatedly for the child to come upstairs and get ready for school

The final, most urgent "request" got the 4-year-old to react. But the hurried footsteps slipped, or tripped, sending the child mouth-first into the concrete steps.

Blood spewed (it always seems to spew in cases like this) from a gash inside the lower lip and the gums of the top incisors. It was all accompanied by howls of pain which we would learn is actually a good sign, an indication (along with no loss of consciousness) that there was no concussion.

We applied a cold press while I finished getting dressed. The dose of children's ibuprofen had kicked in by the time we arrived at the urgent care center.

The kiddo was a good patient and allowed multiple people to poke and prod and feel. The diagnosis was a "minor laceration" to the inside of the lip and a slight abrasion on the outside. No sutures needed.

The aforementioned incisor was loosened. The dentist later predicted that, while the tooth is fine, there will undoubtedly be some discoloring which will go away when the permanent teeth come in.

So how was you're morning?

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm ok. You're ok. They're OK Jones

I like hanging out with really cool people.

As a lifelong square, I enjoy basking in their reflected hipness. So I wanted to send a quick thanks to the proprietor of Happy In Bag for hosting the get-together Saturday.

It was nice meeting people from the new neighborhood, especially people as cool as HIB. I also enjoyed talking with Spyder, whom I met for the first time at the blogger meetup last month. JDoubleP was also there with his wife and Awesome son.

As a music industry insider, HIB was able to use his considerable influence to get local trio OK Jones to play a great set in the living room. One of my favorite tunes was Besides Fall in Love (listen to it here, then buy it here) from their album Push/Pull.

I think a good time was had by all. The bag full of blues CD's from HIB's private collection given as party favors was a nice parting gift. I was sorry I had to leave so early.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Baby you can drive my Vespa

Dinner table conversation the other night brought up the topic of the price of gasoline.

I had remarked to my Supermodel Wife that the QuickTrip on the way home showed the price of $3.19 a gallon -- for the cheap 86 octane stuff.

"I don't get it," she said. "What has happened that the price is going up? What has changed."

My answer? Nothing has changed.

People are still driving, which means there is a demand. Drivers continue to be willing to pay the higher prices. Take us, for example. Even with the per gallon price north of $3, we're still planning an out-of-town trips. We went to a wedding last weekend and we'll be traveling to a graduation ceremony soon.

Our behavior isn't changing. Or is it?

This USA Today reported that for the first time since the early 1980s, drivers are cutting back on their miles.
The growth in miles driven has leveled off dramatically in the past 18 months after 25 years of steady climbs despite the addition of more than 1 million drivers to the nation's streets and highways since 2005. Miles driven in February declined 1.9% from February 2006 before rebounding slightly for a 0.3% year-over-year gain in March, data from the Federal Highway Administration show. That's in sharp contrast to the average annual growth rate of 2.7% recorded from 1980 through 2005.
The article points out that the price of gasoline is only part of the reason for lower miles driven. There are social and demographic causes as well, including a trend of upwardly mobile professionals moving into revitalized city centers and in increase in the use of public transportation.

So now it seems the rubber is meeting the road (or rather, not meeting it). The response by the petroleum industry will be interesting. Will there suddenly be a miraculous increase in gasoline production to increase supplies, stabilize prices and keep drivers driving? Do "they" think they have found the breaking point, and now want to stay as close as possible without going over?

Regardless, I don't think we'll see gas below $3.00 a gallon again.

But on the bright side, this information will help me make the case to my Supermodel Wife that I should start commuting to work on a new Vespa.

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Friday Blogthing: Who wants to live forever

There's an old saying that nobody wants to live to be 100... until they're 99.

This survey says it looks "pretty likely" that I'll live to be 100. I'm not so sure 67% probability is likely enough for my taste. Maybe I'd better start working on that.

Chance You'll Live to 100: 67%

100 is looking pretty likely for you right now. You've made your health a priority.
So kick back, keep doing what you're doing, and enjoy the great life you've made for yourself.
And you might get to see what the world is like 70, 80, or even 90 years from now.


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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Inaugural Angry Blogger Award

So I'm reading through my usual lineup of blogs yesterday and got to Dan's post about how the Global Warming/Energy Consumption issue has become such a polarized debate.

Dan linked to a report that NASA satellite data showed that in 2005, enough ice to cover California melted in Antarctica.

I read the report and came to the final sentence..."No further melting has been detected through March 2007."

Maybe there hasn't been further significant ice melt in the past two years. Maybe there has been ice buildup. Maybe the data just isn't available yet. Regardless, this seemed to me like it could use a little more elaboration, and I posted as much in Dan's comments.

Hell, it doesn't really change the climate debate one way or the other, I was just curious.

But the winner of the inaugural Angry Blogger Award didn't take kindly to my curiosity. A commenter know only as "les" invited me, after what I thought was a pretty vanilla comment by myself, to "Get a fucking clue or shut up."

The funny thing is that a lot of (not all) Liberal bloggers like to position themselves as being on the side of open mindedness, curiosity and the scientific method.

"Ask questions," they say. "Don't take it on faith. Be skeptical."

Frankly, my comment wasn't even very skeptical. In more than two years, I don't recall every writing that I think global climate change is hooey. I've called out AlGore for being a hypocrite about it, sure, but that's a bit of a different issue.

Anyway, "les" did prove Dan's point... that the issue is politically polarizing. He probably didn't intend to make a bad example of himself, to assume he knows my position on the issue based on an innocent and relatively innocuous question. He revealed himself to be the kind of prejudice, knee-jerk, hysterical, red-in-the-face, frothing-at-the-mouth fanatic that most Liberals criticize.

So for showing that he was the Jerry Falwell of Liberals yesterday, I confer upon "les" the Angry Blogger Award.

Congratulations

Angry Blogger Award
Dude, chill out

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Book Report: The Blind Side


Title: The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game
Author: Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Synopsis:
Through an amazing and rare series of events, a young man from the ghettos of Memphis changes his destiny, avoiding an almost certain short life in a drug gang to become one of the most anticipated potential NFL players in years.

My thoughts:
In The Blind Side, Michael Lewis relates the story of a young kid, Michael Oher, who suffers from every conceivable social disadvantage in life except for the fact that his substantial physical gifts make him uniquely suited to play the second-most important position on the college/NFL football team: left tackle.

Lewis gives a good primer on how the left tackle position became such an important role on the team. Starting with the career ending leg injury suffered by Joe Theismann on national television in 1984 through the current day NFL where some left tackles get paid more that quarterbacks, Lewis walks us through some of the reasons why "In football, as in real life, the value we place on people changes with the rules of the game they play."

But this football primer is really just to set the background for the story of Oher. Faced with the huge hurdles of race, poverty and lack of education, Oher finds a way to leverage his one advantage: That he hit the genetic lottery.

It turns out that, through the chance of natural selection or a gift of god, Oher has the body of a prototypical NFL left tackle. If he can only overcome his lack of education, a murdered father, a drug addicted mother, and a society that seems not even to know he exists, he has a chance to earn millions playing a game for which he seems specifically designed.

Luckily he meets a family in Memphis. A rich, white, evangelical Christian family no less, that takes him in, sees to his education and only then allows him to set off on his journey to the NFL.

There are many setbacks along the way as you can imagine, car accidents, academic troubles, even an investigation by the NCAA. But the story, like all good stories, ends with a beginning -- in this case the beginning of Oher’s football career. The next chapter will be written this fall, Oher’s junior season at Ole Miss and it’s one I'm keen to follow when football season starts.

The description of Oher's journey from the ghetto to a college scholarship and the stories of those who helped him along the way are very compelling. Lewis' writing is solid, and tends to get in the way of the story only rarely.

Rating: Recommended.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

YouTube Tuesday: Fierce Blue Ascot

I don't know about you, but if fashion is cyclical I dread the return of the electric-synth gender ambiguity that dominated pop music during the 1980s.

You know, that whole era of big hair, lots of makeup, frilly clothes and musical instruments that play themselves?



This is some kind of marketing campaign for Sprint's music download service. The actor playing "Ian" is Dominic Keating, a star of the ill-conceived Star Trek: Enterprise series.

Still this video is completely plausible. Such a band could have existed and produced such a song. The parody is spot on, and it's good to see companies taking a risk like this.

UPDATE: I just discovered that you can download a copy of the mp3 (for strictly ironic purposes of course).

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YouTube Tuesday: Scientonomy

Yesterday the BBC program Panorama aired an episode which attempted to dig a little bit into Scientology. The "religion" is trying to gain recognition as a religion in the UK, over the objection of citizen groups.

I watched the 30-minute program online. Here's the first 10 minutes. You can watch the rest here.



The Scientologists' main spokesman in the piece is Tommy Davis. This guy does his best to look like Agent Smith while following the BBC reporter around, gettin' all up in his grill, and basically harassing and impeding him the whole time.

The pestering continues on and on until, in an understandable fit of frustration, the reporter John Sweeney completely looses it with an old school shout down. Of course if I were in Sweeney's shoes, I'd be the subject of an assault charge for trying to knock the Raybans off that pencil-necked little fascist.

Unfortunately, Tommy Davis' lack of PR acumen only serves to strengthen the public perception that Scientologists are crazy, whacked-out, paranoid, cultist Nazis. They obviously don't "get" that when you act like your batshit crazy, people assume that you are, in fact, batshit crazy.

If they want my advice, they'll give honest answers to the questions. Or, if they actually are the shysters everyone thinks they are, make up elaborate but plausible lies.

But following people around, harassing them, provoking them only makes it look like they have something to hide.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

It was a beautiful day





We were looking for something fun, local and inexpensive to do after lunch on Sunday, and since we were in the neighborhood we opted for a stroll through the sculpture Kansas City Sculpture Park.

Our four-year-old was impressed with the Henry Moores... for about 10 minutes. Then she was more interested in finding a shady patch of ground to play in the dirt.

But it was a nice stroll nonetheless.

The new Bloch Building looks terrific framed against the lush landscaping. I was very impressed with how well the it integrates with the south lawn of the museum. It becomes almost a wall of a large outdoor room, creating a intimate experience in a large landscape.

PS- If you can't wait to see the inside of the Bloch Building, there's another really good slide show of the interior online at Architecture for Art.


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Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Blogthing: Hey, you can't argue with the Celts

You Are An Olive Tree

You're a warm, kind person, and you always seem to be the mediator.
Balanced and reasonable, people can count on you to be tolerant.
You have a well developed sense of justice - and avoid aggression and violence.
Your idea of a perfect day? Reading in the afternoon sun.
You are cheerful, sensitive, empathetic, and free of jealousy.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Political football

Well, this seems like it should be pretty easy to figure out.

Jim Quinn, a political radio talk show host in Pittsburgh, has claimed on the air that he has a "source with authority" who says that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius made remarks about the poor response of the National Guard to the Greensburg tornado at the behest of Howard "Barbaric Yawp" Dean and top Democratic Party leadership.

The implication of course, is that the situation was dramatized and exaggerated for political gain. That in fact, the response was more than adequate.

According the source, Sebelius called Sen. Sam Brownback to apologize for her remarks, saying she was sorry and that the DNC had told her "we can't let an opportunity like this go by." The source said Sebelius was told not to ask for National Guard help, so that the situation could later be spun as a lack of response.

For his part, Brownback was (reportedly) saddened and disappointed by the Gov.'s conduct.

Of course, none of this has been confirmed. It's definitely plausible, and I wouldn't put it past Dean and the Dems to try to make political hay. Of course, I wouldn't put it past political talk show hosts to make up this sort story for the sake of politics an ratings.

It seems to me, though, that a phone call could settle this whole thing before it gets started. Get Sebelius and Brownback on the phone, have them explain the situation. Either she said that stuff, or she didn't. Either she made the call, or not (hell, you could probably just check some phone records if you don't trust the two principles involved).

Get them on the same call together and they'll have to agree on what happened. Then let the shit hit the fan or not.

UPDATE [10:18 p.m.]: J.D. is keeping it skeptical over at Evolution. No definitive "evidence" one way or the other, but it sounds like J.D. is leaning toward calling BS on this story.

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Out on a Limbaugh

The problem with being a jerk in the broad category of political discussion, is that it often has an affect opposite of said jerk's intentions.

For example, a certain cretin from Topeka (which, I won't name in this form for reasons which I have previously explained), convinces more people that he is wrong the more he speaks.

Worldwide, Muslims didn't make any new allies when they began burning embassies in response to editorial cartoons.

Likewise, the vandal who defaced a billboard of Rush Limbaugh in Baltimore only provides the media with a reason to give Limbaugh free promotion via news stories.

No doubt, the vandal (probably a liberal), gained some short-term personal satisfaction from the act of vandalism (assuming s/he feels no guilt from the criminal act). But the result is a raft of news stories, additional notoriety, a bump in blog references and possibly a spike in listenership for Limbaugh's program.

If a person can't look objectively at a situation and discuss topics rationally, it's usually a better decision to just turn the radio dial to Air America (if it's still on the air).

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Your chance to help

We received this announcement in an email from the K-State Alumni Association.

Apparently, Pizza Huts in Kansas will donate 20 percent of purchases tomorrow to the United Way Greensburg Disaster Fund if you mention the fund when you order. This fundraiser applies to all dine-in, carry-out or delivery orders.

So if you're like me and wondering what you can do to help, here's your chance. And you could munch on some bread sticks to boot.

Here's a story on fund-raising efforts, and here's the info we received (click to embiggen):

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Foo bar

Remember a couple of weeks ago when it was nice on Saturday? When the sun was out, it was warm, and it didn't rain?

Yeah, those were good times.

We took advantage of that day to explore our new neighborhood a little more. We moved in last fall and spent most of the winter doing fix up projects around the house. But on that day, that glorious, sunny spring day, we headed over to Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard in the Ranchmart Shopping Center for an afternoon refreshment.

I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised. The mom & pop shop has two locations now (the original is in Brookside). The Ranchmart location has the feel of an old-timey neighborhood ice cream parlor, but it has the look of a modern franchise, from the kewl coffee house d├ęcor to the flat-screen TV to the impressive and well-used meeting places.

What impressed me most was the traffic. There were lots of people there. Singles, couples, families and groups. Some popping in for a to-go order, others enjoying the beautiful day on the sidewalk, still others in book clubs or study groups in the back room.

It made me feel like I might be in what passes for a small town in these parts.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dialog with a 4-year-old about Iraq

Scene: Me and the 4-year-old daughter B. in the car returning from Dairy Queen where we have picked up a "Welcome Home" ice cream cake for the homecoming party for Uncle Nick, who is home on leave from Iraq.
B.: Daddy, does Uncle Nick have a big job?

Me: Yes, he has a very big job.

B.: In... Iraq?

Me: Yes. He has a big, important job in Iraq.

B.: Oh.

B.: Is Uncle Nick a soldier?

Me: Yes. He's a soldier in Iraq.

B.: Oh. ... Does he have to fight?

Me: Sometimes. But only when someone wants to fight him.

B.: Who wants to fight him?

Me: The bad guys.

B.: Are there lots of bad guys in Iraq?

Me: There are some bad guys. But most of the people are good guys.

B.: What do they do with the bad guys? Do they kill the bad guys?

Me: ...

Me: ...

Me: They just try to catch the bad guys. They try to make them into good guys.

B.: Oh. So the bad guys won't be bad anymore.

Me: Right.

B.: Is Uncle Nick the only soldier?

Me: No. There are lots and lots of soldiers in Iraq.

B.: Like hundreds?

Me: More like thousands.

B.: Thousands? What's a thousands?

Me: That's a lot of hundreds altogether.

B.: What are their names?

Me: I don't know all of the soldiers' names. There are so many that it would be hard to know every name.

Me: My friend Bill from high school is a soldier. But there are lots more whose names I don't know.

B.: Oh.

B.: When are we going to eat the ice cream?
And... scene.

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YouTube Tuesday: Robot Chicken skewers George Lucas

Remember the hilarity that was the Robot Chicken sketch when Evil Emperor Palpatine learns that the Death Star had been blown up? ("What the hell in an Aluminum Falcon?!?").

Well, Seth Green and Co. are planning a larger feature based on that concept, and at 3 o'clock in the Morning, we have the non-exclusive preview. The show airs June 17 on the Cartoon Network.

"Your tongues can't repel flavor of that magnitude!"


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Monday, May 07, 2007

At the very least you need a beer*

We had a lot to celebrate on Saturday. It was Cinco de Mayo, a day very important to my family's cultural heritage, and my brother-in-law Nick, recently arrived for R&R from his deployment in Iraq, was visiting.

So what better way to commemorate both occasions than to enjoy an activity so close to the Mexican culture: a tour of a local artisan brewery.

We arrived at Boulevard Brewing Co. on (fittingly) Southwest Boulevard a couple minutes early for our 10 a.m. tour. According to our schedule, we would take the tour then be finished just in time to slosh down enough free beer samples to get us through lunch.

The tour started in the Boulevard tasting room with a brief introduction by our host, Jason, about the history of beer in the U.S. According to Jason, the pilgrims stopped at Plymouth Rock not because they had arrived at their destination, but because they had run out of beer and needed to find provisions to brew more. (Presumably, after brewing more beer, they were too "chemically inconvenienced" to go any further).

Anyway, fast forward a couple hundred years during which beer became so popular that pretty much every town in the Union had a brewery or three, to prohibition in the 1920s which effectively shut down all but the biggest breweries, to 1989 when I graduated from high school and John McDonald founded Boulevard Brewing Co. (I may have left out a few details, but you can fill in the gaps for yourself when you take the tour).

We then were guided through the brewery proper. Jason showed us the original brew house that was bought from a small town in Germany. We were walked through the brewing process, from the milling of barley, making the mash, introduction of hops, fermentation, filtering and bottling.

Jason showed us the new expanded brew house that will allow Boulevard to ramp up production to meet a growing demand for their beers.

Employees at Boulevard get some great perks, including a basketball court inside the bottling plant, a workout facility and an employees-only bar where you can drink (of course) free Boulevard beer.

Finally, we ended the tour back in the tasting room where the five Boulevard brands were ours for the tasting.

I had previously tried the Unfiltered Wheat (my favorite) the Pale Ale, the Dry Stout (very smooth, not at all bitter, my second favorite) and the Bully Porter, so my first sample was of the Lunar Ale. I gotta say, it didn't speak to me. It's a wheat based beer, but it had a taste on the back of my tongue that I can only describe as "green."

So I switched to the sixth beer on tap, labeled only as "Test." Boulevard often has a test beer on tap in its tasting room and today it happened to be an India Pale Ale.

It was a great surprise for me. I'm typically not a fan of the bitterness of IPAs, but it didn't bother me in this test brew. It was so well balanced and the finish so crisp that this ended up being one of my favorites.

Boulevard would do well to add it to their brand lineup.

*10 points to the first person to name the author of this quote.

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Wha happa???

The astute observer will notice that there have been a few changes around here lately.

The old original Blogger template seemed to be growing a little clunky. It seemed there was a lot of neato stuff that could be done with the shiny new Blogger.

So, for the last couple of weeks I had been experimenting with a new template on a supersecret test blog. Then yesterday, I decided to go ahead and take the plunge, pull the trigger and flip the switch.

At least one astute observer (perhaps the astutest) John B. of Blog Meridian noticed immediately. He left a comment on the post previous to this one:
I like the new layout; in a couple of places I've seen hacks for the 3-column layout, and I've wondered, given all my blog's links and geegaws, if the 3-column might be helpful.
Have you lived with it long enough to know whether you like it?
Well John B., the short answer is... No, I haven't had it up long enough to know whether I like it. It seems like it might be a little too busy, that it offends my minimalist taste. Maybe I need to get rid of some of the chicklets in the side columns or something.

Actually, it occurs to me that maybe widening the gutters between the columns would help. If there are any CSS Code Ninjas out there who can help, I would be very grateful.

But I'll probably stick with this layout, out of inertia and laziness if for no other reason.

I am interested to read what everyone thinks, so please post positive reaffirming messages in the comments section.

PS -- I wanted to say a special thanks to Stavanger at Blogcrowd who put up with a lot of my dumb questions through this process. For anyone thinking of updating their template, this is a great resource.


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Friday, May 04, 2007

Gunbusters?

I'm seeing these signs at various places around the city lately.

Are they new? Are they just now popping up because of recent events?

Or have they always been there and I'm just now noticing them (because of recent events).

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Friday Blogthing: My cell phone etiquette

Believe me, my cell phone manners are much better than my table manners.
Your Cell Phone Etiquette is
51% Bad, 49%
Good

Your cell phone manners are simply okay. Sometimes you can be very considerate.
But when you are in the middle of an important conversation, all rules go out the window!


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Buddy can you spare $50 million?

With apologies to J.D., I can't help but be excited about the prospect of owning my very own Mark Rothko original.
The prize item in Sotheby's New York sale of contemporary art on May 15th is by Mark Rothko, a Latvian-born, American abstract expressionist. David Rockefeller picked up the painting, titled White Centre, for around $10,000 in 1960, and it hung in his outer office when he was chairman of the Chase Manhattan bank. The painting is described by Oliver Barker of Sotheby’s, with barely a trace of exaggeration, as "a masterpiece".
The top price fetched by a Rothko to date is about $22 million. But experts of the hoity and/or toity expect White Centre to go for upwards of $45 million. In fact, rumor has it that Sotheby's has guaranteed Rockefeller a cool $40 million at a minimum.

So basically, all I have to do is come up with about $50 million to get my grubby little hands on this modern masterpiece (I figure I'll need a few extra million for bribes and other incidentals).

I'm coming up a little short so far. I've got about 12 bucks. So anyone want to loan me $49,999,988?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Nelson update: New Yorker review

The New Yorker has posted a review of the controversial Bloch Building, the new addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, designed by Stephen Holl.

Despite local criticism of the project, the reviewer gives the work high praise indeed:
As it turns out, the building, which will open in June, is not just Holl’s finest by far but also one of the best museums of the last generation. Its boldness is no surprise, but, in addition, it is laudably functional, with a clear layout, handsome and logically designed galleries, and a suffusion of natural light. Furthermore, Holl’s five glass structures, punctuating the hill, don’t mock the old building as you might expect; they dance before it and engage it.
The addition is set to open in about a month, and I for one am pretty excited. I had an opportunity to tour the addition as it was being constructed.

The New Yorker review has a pretty good slide show of the structure. You can also view lots of pictures of the project that I previously posted here.

Hat tip to Dan at Gone Mild for finding the article.

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YouTube Tuesday: Next month on ABC

The TV networks have a knack of cancelling the shows I like and making more of the crap I can't stand.

For example, new shows like the excellent The Black Donnellys, Six Degrees and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip have been canned while I'll be forced to avoid more of the simple-minded Deal or No Deal clones, so-called reality programs or lame stand-up comic based family sitcoms.

It's like the networks want me to use the DVR and Bittorrent to get decent programing.

Anyway, the one bright spot is this pilot episode for an upcoming ABC sitcom: Haunted Lesbian Sorority.



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