Thursday, August 31, 2006

Where are all the penguins?

Is there anything funnier than some of the dumb things that people actually say? These are from a collection of the dumbest things that tourists ask in or about Alaska, gathered from travel agents, cruise personnel, etc. The link to the whole list is at the end of the post.

  • [From non-Alaskans] "Where do all you people go in Winter?"
  • [On board cruise ship] "What time is the Midnight Buffet?"
  • "How old does a Caribou have to be before it becomes a Moose?"
  • [in gift shop] "Do you take American money?"
  • [in the street, upon viewing an obviously Hispanic lady with her infant in one of those backpack baby carriers] "Oh look - an Eskimo squaw with her little papoose!"
  • [asked in July]" What time do the Northern Lights come on?
  • "Let's go to the post office and get some Alaskan stamps."
  • [ferry passengers, several times!] "Which side of the boat do the whales come up on?"
  • A Juneau cabbie tells me a woman passenger asked him if they turn the waterfall off at night.
  • [on boat tour to seabird rookeries]"What's that white stuff all over the rocks?"
  • [at Denali National Park]"Where do they take the animals when the Park closes for winter?"
  • "What flowers bloom here in the winter?"
  • "If it's dark all the time in the winter how do the kids find their way to school and back?"
  • "Are there still mammoths around?"
  • "Who mows the tundra at McKinley?"
  • "What do you mean, you fight forest fires? It's all snow and glaciers!"
  • Someone actually thought they were someplace southeast of California, because that's where their Rand McNally atlas showed Alaska on the United States map.
  • A friend who lived in Alaska once told me of a tourist who met a black tour guide in Anchorage, and had to have her picture taken with him, because she thought he was a "Black Eskimo".
  • [At Portage Glacier Lake] "How do you suppose they get all that ice in there?"
  • "Is there electricity in Alaska?"
  • [Exchange overheard between 2 tourists on a tour bus] "Is that a bear?" "No, that's a rock." "No, it must be a bear. It’s too big to be a rock."
  • Tourist asked an Indian tour guide "How long have you been an Indian?"
  • [Passenger on ferry] I know the tide goes in and out, but here it's going up and down!
  • [to travel agent] "Will the glaciers still be out in September?"
  • "When does the tour to the top of Mt. McKinley leave?"
  • A reporter from the Lower 48 asked about the Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival: "Just how high do they drop the moose from anyway?"

That last one might be my favorite!
If you like those, there are over 50 of them here.

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Jesus and Maria, new and improved.

You never know who you're going to see on 6th Street. This is over on West 6th, the gentrified part. Looks like a hitchhiker! J.C! You have to stick your thumb out!

The new Maria's Taco Xpress is open, and she's got her statue up on a pole so it's less likely to be vandalized (although that's not going to stop anyone, really). Last summer some punk-ass creeps cut off her arms. We saw this new/repaired version headed down the road in the back of a truck headed to its new destination. Maria's is my most recommended place for tacos and good vibe.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Happy and Stupid

Well, here's a story that I think should be submitted to HappyNews.com!
[giggles] (just kidding... Happy News would never post that!)(but they should) Those annoying subpoenas!

And sweet jeebus, how could we all have been so stupid as to misunderstand this woman's statements so horribly? Note to self: I simply must learn the English language!
Here's what we "misconstrued".
Another one found via POAC.

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But I saw his "Wanted" poster on a T-shirt!

Well, this is rather fascinating. It seems that Osama bin Laden is still on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, but not for 9/11. He is officially "a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world", specifically the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa on Aug. 7, 1998, but not specifically 9/11. Bin Laden is also on a separate “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, but again, not specifically for this event, and never was.
[Link]
Found via POAC.

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Tastes like chicken

When Meat is Not Murder
What if meat were just grown in a lab instead of carved off of a dead body (you will probably prefer the word "carcass")? Looks like they've had some success in making fish in a dish, but don't know what all the health issues will be if it's eaten (there's no consensus among experts on food we've been eating for thousands of years!).

Here are some of the issues I can think of. First of all, there would be some vegetarians who would eat this. I'm not sure I would. It's very unappealing. Honestly, I'm not sure, and kind of doubt it.

They say they can already create fish. Fish is generally regarded as a healthy food (if it wasn't loaded with mercury and other toxins... which it is... although the manufactured version would not be). Beef is not generally regarded as a healthy food -- so would the ideal manufactured meat be like beef? Probably not, except for just satisfying particular tastes. Soooo, instead of just replicating the meat of a particular animal, what if they go for some perfect hybrid conconction that is ideal for humans (maybe other recipes for pets). What if the "people chow" is very much like the meat of of a cat? or a dog? And here's the corker... what if the ideal meat for human consumption is very much like human meat?

Would you still eat it?*

If you are what you eat, then do you eat what you are?

*Factory farms feed cows to cows (that's where the mad cow danger comes in) even though they are vegetarians and certainly not cannibals by nature, yet people have no problem with this. I guess if you have no problem with the whole slaughterhouse process, then you won't care about this detail.

Pic snagged from Petri-Meat.
New Scientist article.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Creek's End


I am sooo bummed. Nickel Creek is going to go for just one more year and officially break up. My favorite band!! Here's the message they sent out through various channels:
Dearest Listener,

After seven years of extensive touring in support of three records (seventeen years as a band), we've decided to take a break of indefinite length at the end of 2007 to preserve the environment we've sought so hard to create and to pursue other interests. It has been a pleasure to write, record, and perform for you through the years and we'd like to heartily thank you for your invaluable contribution to our musical lives.

Yours,

Nickel Creek
(Sean, Sara, and Chris)

Many long-term bands stay together practically forever as a way to make a living, and maybe they enjoy it, maybe they grow musically and maybe not... but I'm not surprised this band is going to take the more career-risky path just to see what's down the road for them as individuals. I have no doubt that the results will be positive, growth requires change. This is how the band looked when they made their first record (Chris was on guitar back then), and Chris and Sara were just 9 years old, and they had already been a band long enough to be good enough to cut a record. Now they are 25 (Sean is 3 years older). Chris has been through a divorce. Lots of (creek) water under the bridge [groan... sorry!]

My other Creek fangirl blog posts:
[Cactus candy] [Nickel Creek, Texas. Population, 2] [The Mighty, Mighty Creek!!] [Mandosaurus roams the earth!]

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Heating up and chillin'

Trying to stay cool in these 100+ temperatures (will these never end?), so no Hot Sauce Festival or Keep Austin Weird run and music festival. Let's see what did happen... I had a very nice birthday on Thursday watching the Mother Truckers at the Continental Club. Got a pic taken with Josh and Teal and a happy birthday from the stage (ain't nuthin' better for a music junkie like me).

Saturday morning there was a cat-related incident. We have 2 cats who are never allowed to meet because it would result in a death-match that's very difficult, painful and bloody to break up. 2 cats who live in the same house 100% of the time. Alex, the aggressive little sneak, managed to get past me and into the room with Jax. Alex is a skinny little cat-hating scrapper bully. Jax is twice the size of Alex, more than twice as strong, has the largest teeth any of his vets have ever seen... and although he's not mean, he fancies himself to be top cat... plus before we took him in he was a street cat who has actually killed plenty of animals for food (and all those other cat reasons for killing stuff).

So there they were, both in the same room, and I was in a panic (which means I was screaming and running around like a nut), and fell down on the tile floor in the process, managed to get back up and capture Alex just as the two had gotten eye contact -- in another second they would have gone at each other full force. I think my screaming and ranting actually helped -- it distracted them from each other to me long enough for me to get hold of Alex and eject him from the room like a grenade with a pulled pin. Everybody got stressed (Jax peed on the floor) but nobody was hurt except for me. I got a major ugly bruise on the knee and lots of general aches and pains. Good grief.

Saturday night we went to see a band we hadn't seen before, The Band Of Heathens (they seem to go by "The Heathens" unofficially, and my guess is that they added the rest of it because there's already a band called "The Heathens"). Really a good band, and love this logo! I got a shirt, just for that reason. I think I qualify as a heathen by this definition:
Function: noun
1: an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible
2: an uncivilized or irreligious person

So I can be a proud heathen and support this band at the same time. (I wonder if I'm "uncivilized". I don't think so.)

Saturday Morning Screamfest and Cat Fight. There's a good band name too. OUCH.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Unintentional humor


This sign was over in the Jovita's restaurant parking lot. Nice people don't bulldoze trees in parking lots (in fact, under-tree parking is considered a benefit), but sometimes trees aren't growing EXACTLY where you want them. [grin]

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Friday, August 25, 2006

When in drought...

Kill your lawn!!
It's OK to kill your lawn, especially in the interest of saving water, and we really need to save water now. An issue of the e-newsletter Austin water utility conservation program explains how to kill your lawn without causing harm, using products such as mulch and organic vinegar. Right now our lawn (what is left of it is just about half of the front yard) has turned into crispy straw, except in the shade where it is crispy greenish-colored straw. I don't think we've had a real rain since the 4th of July, not at our house anyway, and this heat... whew!! The cacti are loving it though.

People's wells are beginning to dry up, and young trees are dying. I hate that! Trees are very important in a climate like this. We've got a baby live oak, and it's located near the birdbaths so it gets plenty of splash (such dirty birds!! thirsty birds too!). Firefighters are extra troubled too, not just from brush fires but from water main breaks.

Some info links:
LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) Save Water resources
More drought gardening tips from Austin Home & Living Magazine

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Friday Cat - Alex doesn't get it

Continuing with the camping stool theme from last week, here's Alex being typically ill at ease.
He likes to get up on the stool because all the cats are doing it and he needs to know why. Enquiring minds...
Alex will never understand cats! Probably because he can't tolerate them. Alex, you really need to lighten up. [not gonna happen...]

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Catymology - - -

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Silly runs and other silliness

LATE EDIT: It's now Saturday and is 103-104 depending on what neighborhood you're in.
A lot of bloggers made a big deal out of Bush's 100-degree Club run, where he has his staffers jog in the 100 degree heat. Personally, as much as I can't stand Dubya, I don't have any problem with that. Those people are his staff, they are with him in Crawford, and they are already puckered up... on both ends... so dance with the one that brung ya.

The other reason I don't have a problem with it is because I don't have a problem with this event that happens Saturday. It's the Keep Austin Weird 5k run followed by a sweaty outdoor music show. Cheap cheap cheap!! Here's a photo gallery from a couple of years back. Costumes are encouraged, to say the least. I guarantee that there will be a few people running in ball gowns and high heels. Some of them will be female!

If that sounds like a weird run, here's one from last week that DID involve running in stiletto heels no less! A bit less crazy though, probably not 100 degrees and had some hefty prize money!

Another silly event that's Austin weird is the Hot Sauce Festival on Sunday at Waterloo Park. What you do is get out in the hot as blazes weather, and stand in line to taste the hottest hot salsas and picante sauces conceivable while listening to hot pickin' rockabilly, blues, bluegrass, swing and honky tonk. (It's not that there aren't nice air conditioned venues that would hold this event, it's just that no one would dream of holding it there.) Admittance is a canned food donation for the Capital Area Food Bank.

Music Line-up:
NewBoy 11:00-11:30am
White Ghost Shivers Noon-1:00pm
Guy Forsyth 1:30-3:00pm
The Texas Sapphires 3:30-5:00pm

My personal week may not include either of those events, although they are pencilled-in. Yesterday, we went to Zilker Park (in that already-mentioned 100 degree heat) to see Joe Ely with Double Trouble, Blues on the Green free show. Maybe more on that later. Fantastic show. Tonight we'll go to the Continental Club to see the Mother Truckers free happy (3)hour show. Friday -- nothing. Chillin' with some TV (Meerkat Manor, Monk and Psych). Saturday, no plans, maybe Momo's for The Band of Heathens and the South Austin Jug Band.

This is the event on Sunday I am really going to try not to miss. They take stuff from the student moooove-out in Spring, and instead of it going in the dumpster it goes into this giant Garage Sale. I'm hoping it will be even more fun than the City-Wide Garage Sales they regularly have at Palmer Events Center, because those are just collections of dealers. There are a few bargains if you dig for them. This one should be truly a garage sale.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Another one for me

I was born on this day in 1953. Last year I assembled a list of things that happened on my birthday, and it is mostly a list of horrible disasters like Hurricane Andrew, Mt. Vesuvius, stuff like that. So this year I decided to list the stuff that happened in the year I was born. This is edited down from the entire list in wiki 1953. My comments are in italics.

January 7 - President Harry S. Truman announces the United States has developed a hydrogen bomb. Ouch.

January 14 - CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel first meets to discuss the UFO phenomenon. Official results are to publicly "debunk" them and use the media to ridicule people. The CIA goes into the disinformation biz on UFOs. I have also read somewhere that 1953 was the year for the greatest number of UFO sightings. I just knew I was alien spawn.

February 13 - Transsexual Christine Jorgenson returns to New York after successful sexual reassignment surgery in Denmark.
Wow! This was a pretty big deal.

February 18 - The first 3D film, Bwana Devil opens.

March 5 - After 29 years of ruling the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin dies.

March 14 - Nikita Khruschev selected general secretary of the Soviet communist party

March 17 - Nuclear test in Nevada - with 1620 spectators at 3.4 km.

March 26 - Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine.
"Polio" was one of my nicknames as a kid. When I was just a few years old I told Grandpa's neighbor that I had polio (I didn't, and who knows why I said that), so he called me "Polio" for the rest of his life.

April 13 - Ian Fleming publishes his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale in the United Kingdom. I am stirred, but not shaken by that news.

April 25 - Francis Crick and James D. Watson publish their description of the double helix structure of DNA.

June 30 - The first Chevrolet Corvette is built at Flint (Michigan)
I helped to build Corvettes in St. Louis (before they moved to KY), but just for one day on loan from the boring old Impala/Caprice car line.

August 7 - Ohio admitted as a U. S. state, retroactive to 1803.
Helllooooo Cleveland!!!.

August 19 - Cold War: The CIA helps to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and retain Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on the throne (see: Operation Ajax). Truman didn't know what kind of Pandora's Box he opened when he created the CIA.

October - The UNIVAC 1103 is the first commercial computer to use random access memory. When I was born, there was no RAM. Now look! We can't even live without it.

December 30 - The first color television sets go on sale for about $1,175 (American dollars). Three channels and not even all in color. I didn't get a color TV until sometime in the 1980s.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Killer! Psycho! Critters! Oh my!

Seems like there is just one weird story after the next, and not weird in a good way. Some real X-Filey stuff here. The fear of wasps is called spheksophobia, and the fear of bees is called apiphobia or melissophobia. I rather prefer the latter because remember how on The X-Files the bees were an integral part of the mythology, and Fox Mulder's abducted sister was named Melissa? Coincidence? I think not...

In Southern Alabama they are finding these giant nests, larger than local entomologists have ever seen. Now that is one ruined 1955 Chevy! Another story in the news this week, killer bees killed a 39 year old man in Arizona... 300 stings! And here's a real story as scary as a movie plot: Bees on a plane! Thousands of them! Luckily the plane was not in the air when they took it over.

Then there's the story out of Washington state (where it's still too cool for Africanized Killer Bees and Giant Mutant Yellowjacket nests big as a Volkswagen), they are dealing with a bunch of badass raccoons that have already killed 10 cats.

All I have to say is keep your animals in and don't go out the door without a bee-proof suit.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sea cows and sea cowboys

Mercows head north
An endangered manatee has been spotted up near Rhode Island, further north than it is expected, but water temperatures are up. A couple of weeks ago, New Yorkers got a look at a manatee in the Hudson River. Global warming? mmmmmmaybe... well, who's to say?

Ancient sailors thought the manatee was a mermaid - an honest mistake, perhaps, for a sailor to make after months at sea. [Link]

OK, I've always been puzzled by this. Maybe it is the case that these sailors were so desperate that they were happy to see anything with curves, but still, I have to think that this is partly because of them having a different "feminine ideal" than people have now.

(putting aside the fact that they are not only seeing these big spuds as half-woman, but they are thinking that they are mermaids -- something that doesn't even exist -- or does it?) "Honest mistake"? Kind of funny.

Picture snagged from Flickr

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Funny quote of the day

Of her album, she says, "I, like, cry, when I listen to it, it's so good."
-- Paris Hilton

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Wikiality

Along the same lines as my last post on those little bits of wisdom that people like to quote (and believe) without even thinking about it, I found this word, "wikiality" on the Urban Dictionary.

7 user-provided definitions for it are given on this page. Here's the most popular one and the one I like best:
1. Reality as decided on by majority rule. Based off wikipedia's 'majority rule' fact. Featured on The Colbert Report July 31, 2006.

Wikiality refers to the changing of reality or truth via a Wikipedia-like system, allowing the public to change facts as long as there are others that agree.

6. A word coined by Stephen Colbert of the Colbert Report meaning Wikipedia's reality. Anything said by wikipedia, which may or may not be contrary to actual reality. A Democracy on facts.

Wikipedia (Wikiality): Albert Einstein was a pantheist.

Einstein (Reality): It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.

Of course, the Urban Dictionary is made up of wikialities itself, that's because it's a slang dictionary, and slang by the very nature of itself is defined by the popular acceptance of its meaning.

It's always good to consider the source of your "facts" before accepting them as such. For instance, Big Tobacco has a set of "facts" for you that might differ from the facts you'll get from the American Lung Association or the American Cancer Society. As one of the entries on the provided link says, "Galileo was wrong".

I will continue to use Wikipedia as a valuable resource (and keep in mind that it's all user-submitted), and don't think it's less reliable than the encyclopedia on the shelf, a school textbook, ancient scriptures, or the stuff from the News media (actually, it's more reliable than some of those). I am also a bit of a Relativist and reject the concept of universal truth. My reality may be different than yours... in fact, I know it is because our perceptors and filters are different. If there is a universally true definition of the meaning of life, the universe and everything (42!!!!), I don't think I'm any more capable of understanding it than this cat here.

I will keep using wiki, I think it's fascinating and fun just to surf around on it, which is called "wiking off" or "wikisurfing" on the Urban Dictionary, making me a "wikipedestrian", among other things. ;-)

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Old saws and quotables

[Foxholes] No earth-shattering news. Just a little good press for us godless types. You know, sometimes, when a phrase is uttered that many times ("There are no atheists in foxholes") people just believe it -- just because it's been said by so many people, including respected well-liked people. It ain't necessarily so.

I can think of another saying like that, and this one irks me too:

"That which does not kill me makes me stronger"

Bullshit! There might be cases where it makes you stronger if you get over it, but sometimes it just makes you real sick, or makes you wish you were dead, and sometimes you barely survive it and it grinds down your health or mental state and kills you later.

Don't believe everything you hear, even if your mommy told you so. [snort]

War Criminals

Did not go to the anti-Rove rally [News 8] [Statesman] [Statesman slideshow] but did go to the Bush Crimes Commission panel discussion last night.


The panelists carry some cred. This is taken from the website:

Ann Wright resigned from the U.S. diplomatic corps in March, 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. A retired U.S. army colonel and career diplomat, she served in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001.

Ray McGovern, Retired CIA analyst. In 2003, McGovern founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Larry Everest, a journalist and author of Oil, Power, and Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda. He has covered the Middle East and Central Asia for over 20 years for Revolution newspaper and other publications.

The audience always has a lot of good comments and questions. One woman stated the obvious, if Bush is impeached, don’t we get Cheney? Well, yeah, of course. That’s why Cheney needs to be held accountable as well. The goal of this organization is not specifically impeachment, it’s holding guilty parties accountable for war crimes, cause for impeachment if anything is. You might think that an audience for something like this would be all liberal Democrats, but it’s really not so. I would say it’s largely Libertarian, based on people who make comments anyway, probably a third to half.

Listening to speakers like these does tend to give me some hope. It seems like this is an ant trying to push over an elephant, and in a way it is, but it’s important to not let people forget what is really happening. The charges are aimed at the entire administration and are defined here on their website.


[Previous post pre-event] - - - - - - - - - -

Saturday, August 19, 2006

SsssssssssoaP - Just plane fun

The Snakes on a Plane movie was a whole lot of fun, with B-movie hilarity and Sam Jackson just playing his persona (love it!!). Our viewing was actually the final viewing of the Snakes on a Day 24 hour marathon, and I sat next to someone who had been part of that, there were about a dozen people in the audience who were still there from that. The pic is just some people in line with homegrown shirts and stuff. I don't know them but they were nice enough to let me take their picture. The audience was fantastic for this. Of course, lots of them had already seen it multiple times and there was mass chiming in for certain lines which I will not reveal here.

The Alamo Drafthouse has had a special beer made up for the movie, Samuel Jackson Badass Ale, click it and look at the label -- what a hoot. They also put little plastic snakes on everyone's food order. It blended right in with my pizza and wouldn't have even noticed it unless Mr. B had alerted me about finding one in his fries.

Apparently the night before at the first official showing (the 10-midnight), Quentin Tarantino was there with his Grind House/Death Proof cast (Rosario Dawson and more), with a live snake demo - a guy twirling rattlesnakes in his mouth, cobra antics and more. Read all about it at Harry Knowles Ain't It Cool. He's got a great first-hand rundown of the event.

QT has bought a house in Austin, according to a rumor I picked up over on Austin Metroblogs. This is the "house". Nice, huh? Well, he's here pretty often, he might as well have a residence. "Death Proof" is his half of Grind House. Robert Rodriquez (QT's best buddy) directs the other half, which I think is called "Planet Terror". I see that Naveen Andrews (Sayid from TV's Lost) is in this so I wonder if we will see him out club hopping [sigh]. [LINK] [MAP]

[My previous SoaP post] - - - - - - -

Friday, August 18, 2006

Just a glass of water and an order of whoop ass

I understand that Karl Rove is in town this weekend for a dinner and fundraiser. View the invitation over at the Pink Dome, and a lovely thing it is, what could be more inviting than his picture? That's why I would suggest wearing this sweater:


From Steal This Sweater.

EDIT: Mr. B and I are soooo in sync. I found this forwarded message from him in my inbox. Looks like an event:
I KNOW THIS IS VERY SHORT NOTICE BUT PLEASE, PLEASE, COME IF YOU CAN! The press will be notified and hopefully our signs will appear in the media!

Thanks,
Kim McIntosh,
VoteRescue
CodePINK

*********************

Citizen’s Arrest of Karl Rove!
Saturday, August 19th @ 5:30PM
Meet up with Cindy Sheehan, CODEPINK Austin, and National CODEPINK to make a citizen’s arrest of Rove for his numerous crimes.

Bring signs, banners, and any thing else to let Rove and his supporters know that there is a new branch of law enforcement in town and we plan to hold them accountable.

We will gather outside the parking garage of the Renaissance Hotel. If you are facing the main entrance of the hotel, the garage is on your right.


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Friday Cat - Staying Warm


Henry, the most perfect cat in the world, loves to escape the air conditioning in favor of the dry sauna, also known as "the screened porch". The 100+ degrees we're having now does not bother him in the least. This little folding camp stool with the mesh cup holders is a favorite of all 4 of our cats, maybe because it only holds one cat at a time. It MIGHT hold 2, but Henry would prefer otherwise.

I couldn't resist passing along this cat story from the news. This cutester named Sebastian with the bulldog bite has just gotten a couple of gold crowns. His caretaker thought it was a good idea to help protect his teeth. Sebastian, I think they are casting for the final installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, so... if you hurry... no eye patches needed for this boy though. What gorgeous peepers.


- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Red Peonies - - -

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Don't Wash Me!

This is some great stuff. Scott Wade of San Marcos, TX creates some pretty nice drawings in the dust on his car. View a gallery of his creations here.

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Another one for EJ

Happy birthday to my favorite guitar player, one of the finest musicians in the world, native Austinite Eric Johnson. He always looks very young, due to clean living apparently, and can pass for 20 years younger [ssshhhhh.... he's 52]. Right now he's out on tour and in Connecticut tonight opening a show for "Stevie Guitar" Miller, who some people call the Space Cowboy, some call the Gangster of Love.

I really miss Eric. Since we moved here I have been able to see him play on the average of about once a month, give or take, but this year I haven't seen him since February. He's been on tour a lot this year with Joe Satriani and now Steve Miller and Sammy Hagar (and playing lots of headlining gigs too), so it's good exposure and I'm happy for him but still waiting for another home town show. There was a pair of shows in Dallas but that's officially a hassle going up there (not going to Beaumont for a show either). Anyway, light a candle on a vegan cupcake and raise a cup of herbal tea for Austin's own space cowboy. Pictured is his latest instructional DVD, which I have watched in amazement.

In honor of Eric's birthday, we are having the hottest day of the year here. Actually, every day this week has been hotter than the one before, but today could beat them all at possibly 105 degrees (yesterday was 104). So just hold that candle up. It might light itself. ;-)



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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Darth Side

Mr. Blueberry has directed me toward this very informative and revealing set of online video segments from PBS Frontline. The title of them is "The Dark Side" and they have helped me to grasp a few things about this whole Iraq invasion, Colin Powell's behavior, Tenet's behavior, Cheney/Rumsfeld and what they are about, etc.
In "The Dark Side," FRONTLINE tells the story of the vice president's role as the chief architect of the war on terror, and his battle with Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet for control of the "dark side." Drawing on more than 40 interviews and thousands of documents, the film provides a step-by-step examination of what happened inside the councils of war.

Early in the Bush administration, Cheney placed a group of allies throughout the government who advocated a robust and pre-emptive foreign policy, especially regarding Iraq. But a potential obstacle was Tenet, a holdover from the Clinton administration who had survived the transition by bypassing Cheney and creating a personal bond with the president.

After the attacks on 9/11, Cheney seized the initiative and pushed for expanding presidential power, transforming America's intelligence agencies and bringing the war on terror to Iraq. Cheney's primary ally in this effort was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.


They are available in both Real and Windows media formats.

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Protecting seals by design

Check out the design competition slideshow to raise awareness about the Canadian seal clubbing event that still happens every year. Some very creative and disturbing stuff, it should make people think.

And remember this: fur makes you look fat.

I'm just sayin'...

(to explain a bit, the boycott against Canadian seafood is based on the fact that the seal clubbing is carried out largely by Canadian fishermen as their off-season occupation)

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Riddle

A black dog stands in the middle of an intersection in a town painted black. None of the street lights are working due to a power failure caused by a local storm. A car with two broken headlights drives towards the dog but turns in time to avoid hitting him. How could the driver have seen the dog in time?

Armadillos moving up

[Link]
Two years ago, Missouri Department of Transportation maintenance workers in Franklin County weren't seeing armadillos among the road kill they clear from highways. Now they see about one a week, said spokeswoman Linda Wilson.

By contrast, maintenance workers in the Department of Transportation's 12-county region near Springfield see them "every day," said spokesman Bob Edwards, who said the numbers seem to increase every year.

The research scientist in the article says it’s “too early to say” whether it’s due to global warming. Maybe that’s true. It could be due to evolution. I guess it’s too early to say about that either.

The only place that I have ever seen a live armadillo was in the children’s area of the St. Louis Zoo. Cutest darned things ever. I know I don’t get out much. I definitely don’t spend much time in the rural areas of Texas, but even when taking a trip, all I’ve seen are the road-kill versions.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Just push -- and sharpen sometimes

Mr. Blueberry (the Lawn Ranger) has taken another step toward being an environmental hero. He has sold the electric mower (which was already considered a "green" alternative to the gas mower) and gotten this reel push mower. Pretty neat! There isn't a whole lot of grass left in this "green garden" and what is there is getting crispy in this weather. That's OK. With water restrictions inching up on us with this drought, people don't need to be wasting water trying to turn everything the color green. Just leave it alone and before you know it, it will look like Texas, especially if you nurture the cactus and wildflowers.

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We are getting Doggett

I was pleased to see that after the latest Texas redistricting happens that Lloyd Doggett will again be our Congressman. It will be nice to actually have a Congressman who represents my views. I'm not used to that one. He's been against the Iraq war since the start, and is such a thorn in the side of the repugs that I think getting rid of him was one of the main goals of Delay in the last redistricting. Well, look who's still around and who isn't?

Doggett still has a battle on his hands though. He got more of Travis County back, but they also gave him some very red neighborhoods so sailing will not be smooth.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Snakes on a Day, all snakes, on a plane, all day

Well, this is pretty crazy, for sure, but it's for a good cause... especially considering that this movie (like all horror movies that play on people's phobias about critters) is going to stir up even more snake hatred than there is now. Remember that venomous snakes need love too. Doesn't everyone? Well, maybe not Dick Cheney.

It's a S.o.a.P (Snakes on a Plane) watching 24 hour endurance marathon being held at the Alamo Drafthouse (where else?) that takes place the day before it officially opens. The charity which benefits is VenomousReptiles.org. Here's how it works: if you make it through the whole thing - you pay nothing. If you leave after one show, you pay $1000. Then the amount is divided in half after each viewing (2 shows = $500, 3 shows = $250, etc.) Oh yeah, and they are filming the event for a documentary.

[Snakes on a Day Alamo Event link] [Snakes on a Day website]

There's no way we can afford something like this, but are going on to the Alamo on opening day. There should be plenty of costumes and home-grown S.o.a.P shirts along with a rowdy B-movie loving crowd. I wanted to come up with something - maybe Indiana Jones yelling from the biplane "THERE'S A SNAKE IN THE PLANE!!" No time for that though, it's not as though I have nothing to do but design weird t-shirts that most people won't get (even though those are the best kind).

I am not afflicted with Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). This article suggests that the fear of snakes and spiders comes to humans through evolution, but that's hard to buy without more evidence. If that were the case, wouldn't it be universal? What do I know? I'm no scientist, that's for sure.

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Baaa

Kingdomality test, found via Silly Humans. (oh yes, and you have to go over there right now for the funny cat video)

Your distinct personality, The Shepherd is to tend to your human flock. You understand the needs of those for whom you are responsible. Shepherds are vigilant and reliable. You realize your obligation and commitment to the well being of those entrusted to your care. Shepherds are very dependable. You engender a feeling of comfort and stability to those within your charge. On the positive side, Shepherds can be empathic, caring, understanding, practical and realistic. On the negative side, you may be manipulative, close-minded and sentimentally rigid. Interestingly, your preference is just as applicable in today's corporate kingdoms.

OK, I can see it a little. I think it must also be part of my profile to not be in agreement with the negative traits. Sentimentally rigid... I might go along with that one if it means "not sentimental". What DOES it mean? I am definitely not manipulative. When things are going against me for long enough, I tend to just go away (quit) rather than pull strings. I have had to train and discipline myself to stay with an employer when I feel that I not have been (and will not be) properly rewarded or appreciated. I do it by weighing the positives about the job. As for close-minded, that's not true. I guess the most important thing about this me and this quiz is that I hate profit corporations. I hate their approach of supporting their bottom line at the cost of all ethics, grinding down people and the environment in the process, not to mention supporting war and the neo-con agenda. My ultimate goal is to work for causes that I support, ones that I think are good for humanity (like music, art, healing, small businesses, stuff like that. Screw the globalwide military-industrial complex, Mal-wart, blah blah blah. Fiddles, though, are a good cause. Mandolins, guitars... yeah! Massage... photography... animals... now we're talking)

As for my flock, it's all kitty cats.

If work-related, I have no employees and don't ever want any. I have turned down management positions many times for this reason. I don't like having power over other people's destiny, giving guidance and making hiring/firing decisions. The fact that I didn't want/have kids is part of this mentality. I was raised in an independant hands-off manner and treat other people the same way -- so I think that's the opposite of manipulative.

Crazy cat-lady in the making.

The Bush Crimes Commission

Passing along an upcoming event and some links:

The Bush Crimes Commission, an offshoot of the "Not in Our Name Statement of Conscience", is hosting a community forum on August 20 in Howson Hall from 7-9pm. The forum is called "Speaking the Unspeakable: Is the Bush Administration Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity?" and "will bring a panel of prominent whistleblowers, eyewitnesses, victims and experts to give testimony that make visible the reality that this administration has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity - acts that, by their scale or nature, shock the conscience of humankind."

Sunday evening, August 20, 7-9pm
Location: First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin
4700 Grover Avenue
Austin, TX 78751
E-Mail: info at austinuu dot org

Friday, August 11, 2006

Project for the OLD American Century

Just passing along a progressive news resource site I just found, and looking forward to exploring some more. The look of the site is very much like the other one, you know the one. Anyway, this one not only has news but video and audio resources, along with really great t-shirt art and stuff. Here are some samples:

I am probably the last one on the block to find it, but still want to share.

What happened to "terrorists"?


I was puzzled by Dubya's use of the term "Islamic Fascists" when describing the suspects in this latest foiled airliner plot. He has always freely used the word "terrorists", and that is the proper description in this case. These are religious extremists. "Fascist" describes Dubya much better than it applies to these people, even though he is also a bit of a religious extremist (Amurican Taliban), but he is more of a corporatist than these people... so why switch out the term "terrorists" in favor of "Islamic Fascists"? I have to think that the speech writers made this conscious decision since Dubya is almost completely inarticulate. I wonder if his administration is trying to connect the term "fascist" in the minds of the American people to them, since it is so often associated with him. I know that Islamofascism [Wiki] is a term that's used in the media.

I'm not the only one took note of the use of this term. From the LA Times:
Muslims upset by Bush's remarks
President Bush was widely criticized by Muslim leaders Thursday for saying that the breakup of an alleged plot to blow up airliners over the Atlantic Ocean was a triumph in the "war against Islamic fascists."

Muslims, already resentful of the scrutiny they have been under since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said the politically charged phrase unfairly connected one of the world's great religions with Nazism and totalitarianism — and fueled hostility against Islam and Muslims in America. They said it also contradicted Bush's earlier statements that Islam was a religion of peace.

"There's nothing Islamic about fascism," said Edina Lekovic, communications director for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles. "Suggesting there is only over-politicizes things in a way that does not accurately describe the criminal adversaries we face at the moment."

"Islamic Fascists" is offensive and inappropriate, in my opinion, but a great improvement over "evildoers". Sweet Jeebus, that one's got as many conceptual definitions as there are people, and would also describe the one who uttered it in many of them. Of the 3 terms (Islamic fascists, terrorists, and evildoers), at least Islamic fascists does not describe the speaker, since he is not Islamic.

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Not a Muggle in the bunch

I missed the show yesterday... [working]... but a couple of these Wizard bands played in Austin: Harry and the Potters and Draco and the Malfoys. Turns out, if you go on MySpace, there's a huge crop of these bands. Looks like it's a movement! Some of them aren't too bad, haven't given a fair listen to them yet.
Draco and the Malfoys
Harry and the Potters
The Whomping Willows
The Hermione Crookshanks Experience
Huffle My Puffle
Dobby and the House Elves
Siriusly Black
Hogwarts Girls
The Remus Lupins
The Moaning Myrtles
Number 12 Grimmauld Place
The Mudbloods (from Austin !)
Ron and the Weasleys
Ginny and the Weasleys
The Quidditch Pitch Incident
The Giant Squidstravaganza

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Friday Cat - STILL Cute with Bad Habits


Here's Duncan looking typically silly. He likes to dangle his front paws down like that. It looks funny. This cat is 10 years old and gets crazier by the year. Very sweet, but twice as nutty

Here he is enjoying the freshly washed, still unfolded sofa slipcover. We have had to replace it recently with a vinyl version (and THAT gets covered in yet more plastic! The more plastic the better, either that or we need to get a sofa we can just hose down! [grin]) because crazy Duncan is still* peeing or pooping on the sofa during his crazy hour. This is almost daily -- several times a week anyway. He has had to ratchet up the cute factor to make up for it, but he excels at that. He's already christened the new slipcover a couple of times.

*a followup to his blog post about 3 weeks ago. Crazy cat!

Finally, here's scientific proof that cats rule, they enslave us and control our behavior. You know it's true if you are owned by cats. It was only a matter of time before they figured out WHY!

- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Blog d'Ellison - - -

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Will September be much better?


Typical... Austin in August... no relief in sight. That afternoon siesta idea is a pretty darned good one. Yaawwwn!

EDIT Aug 13: Urrgh! Those relatively cool 99s and a couple of the 100s in the coming forecast have now been revised to be as high as 104. [wilt]

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Not taking any chances with shampoo

Threat level at airports has been raised to Orange. You will not be allowed to bring any liquids on the plane with you, including hair gel or shampoo. Bummer... and glad I'm not flying anywhere. I hate checking luggage.

Why even have Threat levels Blue and Green? Those will never ever ever be used. Just something to boost the other colors up, I guess. Like carpet padding or insoles or the dirt at the very bottom of the planter.

EDIT Aug. 12: hmmm. Well, I guess I have to take back the last paragraph. In this story, it says: "The nation has never been below yellow since 2001 although Hawaii put itself at blue for a year after the national system was adopted. It has since upgraded to yellow."

Blue Hawaii. I guess they couldn't resist.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bush baby - both kinds

This all started innocently enough. We watched this really good animal movie (really a kid's movie that adults can enjoy) called "Duma", about a boy needing to return his grown pet cheetah out into the wild. Besides all the kitty-cat cheetah goodness, this movie also features the bush baby, which is one of the cutest things on earth. Still pictures do not do them justice, and what's even more of an injustice is what turns up in internet image searches for "bush baby". YIKES!!

OK, most of these are real pictures, there is some photoshopping here and there, there's one in particular I'm hoping is not edited (take a guess). Also, howzabout that stupid little moustache? Click to enlarge.

I think this one is my favorite!

Apologies once again to the adorable little bush baby.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Wipe out poverty, be Republican.

[uuummm... in the opinion of one person anyway]
News 8 Austin (local news on cable) doing random voter surveys at the 4th of July gathering.

For most of the Rangel family, the hot topic is immigration. The matriarch of the family, Antonia Rangel, said even though she's Catholic and Mexican-American, she decided to vote Republican 15 years ago and hasn't turned back.

"They said, 'What?! You are a Catholic and a Mexican-American and you vote Republican?' I said, 'Yes, because I don't want to stay poor. If that's the party for the poor people, I don't want to stay poor all my life," she said.

Well, it's one thing to be a [fill in the blank ethnic or sexual orientation minority] Republican if you realize that you are supporting causes that are going to be at odds with other issues you may have because of your [fill in the blank] status, but please... if you are really this ignorant... that's not Shinola we're wading through here. Buy a clue if it takes every penny you've got.

Here's a good quote from a good Republican back when being Republican meant something else entirely:

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. -- Abraham Lincoln

More Abraham Lincoln quotes here. He was a wise and funny man.

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The snakes in Spain stay mainly in the plane.

Send a personal invitation from Samuel L. Jackson! Customize an audio greeting from Samuel L and send as e-card or even phone message! It's a hoot! Freak out your kids or parents. ;-)

Yup. I have to see this one. Can't say why but I am psyched, just hoping for some B-movie goodness.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

You ain't nuthin' but a guard dog!

Weird story of the day:
A Doberman pinscher, guard dog in a children's museum, goes nuts and destroys Elvis Presley's teddy bear along with hundreds of teddy bears worth over $900,000. Elvis's teddy bear was on loan to the museum. Quoting the General Manager of the museum, "I've spoken to the bear's owner and he is not very pleased at all."

An understatement, I'm sure.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Heroes and Villians

Another movie night at church on Friday. It was a showing of "America: Freedom to Fascism" which just left the theatres. Truthfully, quite a few reviews of this that I'd seen had pretty much dismissed it as libertarian evangelism encouraging people to stop paying taxes, so I was ready to write it off as uninteresting. That's not the case, that is deceptive on their part (the critics). I can't believe that those people really watched it. OK, as a movie I would critique it by saying that it was like 2 separate parts: one gritty factual human drama where we are given a certain amount of evidence that, in fact, there is no law requiring people to tax on their wages, and some situations that have arisen with people and the IRS. Simple as that. Fascinating and worthy of much study! If there is such a law, someone should point it out. That would end the controversy. The second part is the frightening paranoid speculation about the World government that may be unstoppable, Real ID and RFID and the implications of all world citizens being in a common ID database, and eventually chipped. When I said paranoid, I didn't mean there was no reason to be afraid. As the saying goes, "Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they aren't out to get you". Anyway, the movie is worth seeing if you can find it. It's always good to check things out for yourself, make up your own mind.

Saturday we went to the IMAX to see Superman Returns on the 50 ft. screen and (partially) in 3-D! The IMAX is the ONLY way to see a movie like this. Just fabulous even when the movie is marginal. The 3-D effects were not that successful. If you want a great IMAX 3-D experience, go and see Deep Sea 3-D. As for the movie, it's OK. Kevin Spacey is always good, but you know, they could just cast Dick Cheney as Lex Luthor and there would be no acting required. Overall the movie had more religious overtones than I like, and the characters pretty flat.

Saturday night we re-watched "V for Vendetta", so now, after 2 police state documentaries (the other one was on Wednesday night) and this fiction one, I am in a heightened state of freak-out and paranoia.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Looking for brains and wandering aimlessly

First Thursday was a nice night out. We spent a good bit of time at Jo's Coffee listening to awesome blues by Gary Primich and Mike Keller. He's a great guitar player, one of my favorites in town. Always a reliable good time. Gary asked me to pass around the tip jar for them. I guess I looked honest and there for the music. [grin]

I didn't get the scoop on it* (see below for the scoop), but there was a whole parade of zombies making the rounds. They were bloodied and hungry and calling for brains (typical zombies!). They must be making another zombie movie in Austin. I know some people who have gotten to play zombies in other films, I don't even know the names of them, straight to DVD I'm sure. Looks like fun anyway. I said to Mr. B, "See anyone we know"? Chatted with the guy who turned a school bus into an art/photo gallery, all about remodeling and travelling around in a bus (we used to have an old school bus in the 60s/70s), and Mr. Blueberry won free tickets to Alejandro Escovedo at the Glenn. Thank you again, KGSR!

Jo's is the best place for people-watching!

*EDIT update: The zombies are the cast of a zombie stage musical. There is also a zombie musical film being made in Austin, so there are extra zombies around.
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Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Cat - Make Me Laugh

I heard that the sun sinks in the West, so I'm waiting for it by the sink. nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! Hey! I'm here all week. Please tip your service humans. Here's a tip for you... don't bet on the horses. Heyyyy... somebody stop me!


- Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Full of Crap - - -

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Live from NORAD, and New York, and Boston.

Vanity Fair Special: 9/11 Live, the NORAD Tapes:
10:10:31
NASYPANY (to floor): Negative. Negative clearance to shoot.… Goddammit!…
FOX: I'm not really worried about code words at this point.
NASYPANY: Fuck the code words. That's perishable information. Negative clearance to fire. ID. Type. Tail.

We went to the 9/11 truth movie and discussion last night (posted in advance of the event here) -- lots of stuff to think about, some things I knew about or had heard of, some new topics. Pretty well attended, I would say about 150-200, give or take... not bad for a church movie night and on a topic that most people are still closed to, something not even to be discussed! Even many liberals are really not receptive to even entertaining the thought that 9/11 may have been either an inside job or simply allowed to happen by the government (not much difference between those two, is there?).

I am open to it. I want more information! I do not believe one thing or the other, I like to be as skeptical as possible until I can no longer deny that something is reality. (Yes... I have my opinions, just like everyone. A "belief" is much more of a commitment than that... in my opinion... )

And speaking of reality, there is a dose of it in this Vanity Fair article (link at top of post) on the release of the NORAD recordings. NORAD's actions have been a part of many of the conspiracy theories (and was indeed mentioned in the film by Alex Jones, although in fairness his film is a couple of years old and now we have some fresh and revealing information to replace what was previously either deception, spin or speculation), and I believe that a few questions have now been answered. The article also comes with sound files.

As for the rest of the meeting, it was very good. Got a packet of resources, some recommended books, including this one from Davidson: "Defying Hitler. A Memoir". Sounds absolutely fascinating, I do want that one.

Also, I was relieved that there was no one who spoke out in agreement with the person whose solution to the problem (of defying the New World Order/neocons, etc.) was to arm everyone and "kill them all". Umm.... yikes!!

- - - VF article found through RawStory