Thursday, April 30, 2009

I'll tell you what...

...customer service is just not up to snuff these days.

[Radio Shack clerk punches customer for trying to return something.]

Happy Birthday, Willie Nelson

He's our own living legend, loved around the world, turning 76 today, and still hard at it... touring, making records. One of the coolest people on the planet.

wiki Willie
Willie website

Tags: - - -

Monday, April 27, 2009

Maru, the silliest cat in the world

I found Maru through Cute Overload, appropriately. The first 50 seconds of this is funny, Maru figuring out how not to get in the box. After that, better put down that beverage so you won't spray it over the keyboard. It's the jumping OUT of the box that really kills me.

If you like this, definitely watch some of the user's other Maru videos, like this one.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Ain't gonna happen. It's a very Austin party. Put on the funnest* thing you can think of to wear, nothing is too weird, grab something for percussion - pots and pans, buckets, shakers, tambourines, cowbells, drums of every kind. Bring kids, dogs (one guy brought his pet pig), and don't forget your camera. There's food, microbrewery beer, kid's activities, costume contest, and some live music later in the afternoon. For us, the highlight is the drum circle. It's lasts for many hours, and is actually quite relaxing compared to the ugly stress we've got going on most of the rest of the time. Here's a 30 second video taken early in the day. Here's one taken later (by someone else) when it was much more crowded. Here are just a few of the pictures I took. (Click here for the Statesman's pro shots)

If Rivendell had showgirls...

There were quite a few topless women, but this is the only one I got a picture of. (Sorry boys and girls, for the lack of more female nudity. I should have handed MrB the camera. I think he seeks it out.)

Cutest couple costume of the day. Fairy with a tiger on a leash. meow!

Someone a bit older than me getting in on the fun. Always good to see.

This little kid had on a t-shirt with the famous Farrah Faucett poster on it. Cute.

There were uniform cops here and there, but this is the Mounted Peacekeeping Brigade.

*not a word, but should be.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Really bad acronym

Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, a.k.a. BARF

It relates to raw food that people prepare for their pets. Some people really swear by this. I used to be exposed to a lot of the raw food evangelism when Alex was still with us, a cat with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). I actually did try giving him some raw meat once - which came right back up just like most of the other stuff he ate - there goes that acronym! At least it's relevant to food. I remember seeing one of these gas stations (BAR-F) in New Mexico, and you have to ask "what were they thinking?"

Furbaby Friday - Someone sent me this

From a Dog's Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

From a Cat's Diary

Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant... I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now.................

Monday, April 20, 2009

Welcome to Stepford

It always bugs me when people offer these words for comfort, “he/she is happy now” or “they are in a better place” after someone has died (including pets… which are people in my book). Even worse is “they are in Heaven” or “they are with The Lord.” These things do NOT comfort someone who does not believe in an afterlife, Heaven, or The Lord.

It is correct to say that their suffering has ended, and those are words of comfort to be sure when there was suffering taking place before death. As for being in a better place after you die, it gives many people comfort to imagine/believe that there is a reward of some kind waiting, and that we will be reunited with all our loved ones again.

I have often thought about how truly awful it would be if everyone (again… animals included) lived forever in some other place, and everybody knew each other from their previous lives. Want to spend eternity with all your exes? Your in-laws and ex-inlaws? All your previous pets? All the animals you killed for food? How about the countless animals sacrificed so that their blood would appease a god... might even be the god you are planning on being near. How about all the dinosaurs?

Believers in Heaven think that all imperfections are removed at the Pearly Gates (and what about the poor oysters who had to produce all those pearls? Ouch! OK, maybe the pearly stuff is created by magic miracle, like loaves and fishes... magical fishes who were never alive and not meant for Heaven), but how could anyone or anything be interesting without nuances, quirks, and individual personality traits? I’m picturing a communal mind with one Controller (you-know-who) and no free will at all. Does that sound like a happy place? And there’s no way to leave it either, not unless you manage to sin (and how would sin be possible if it’s all perfect?) and get tossed out like Satan did in the old myth. Well, I don't know... I don't even think I'd want to be on a permanent happy pill.

Click on the graphic below to read the finer print. Pretty good stuff.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Music weekend

A great weekend of music, starting Friday at the Old Settler's Music Festival. Rain was coming down in buckets, along with thunder and lightning - not what you want for an outdoor festival. It caused delays but they managed to only cancel one act, and The Greencards - the main ones we were there to see - were only delayed for 1 hour. Rain continued to spit during the evening, causing rain ponchos to come off and go back on a ridiculous number of times. The band has a new record out on Tuesday, and if you are around here you can see them at Waterloo Records at 5pm for a free show and meet/greet. It's a great CD! They don't come to Austin often enough these days.

Saturday, there was a jam-packed day at Old Settler's with no rain, but we didn't go because of the Gary Louris/Mark Olson show(s). They are ex-Jayhawks frontmen, and you probably know that we looove the Jayhawks here at Texas Oasis. They did a free in-store at Waterloo Records at 5pm. Here's a pic from that, and we caught the song "Two Angels" on video at this link.

The show at Antone's had Pinetop Perkins opening.

He is 95 years years old. I got his autograph, and he seemed extremely frail. It took him a really long time to write out his name, but he sure didn't have any problem finding his way around the keyboard. He not only keeps performing, but he tours as well. There was a great backing band of some of the best blues musicians in Austin.

I was first in line (typical me) because I got dropped off in front of Antone's right after the record store show while MrB went home for cat-duties. It was an all-seated general admission show, and I was skeptical about that (Antone's seldom has chairs in it) but I have to admit that it worked out great for this. Here's a video from the show, a beauty called "Two Hearts."

Sunday we took a pass on activities and caught up on chores and work. It was a gorgeous weather day.

Some stuff to make your head spin

Friday, April 17, 2009

Furbabies Friday - Who's that guy?

Henry (inside) and Jax (on screened porch) don't mix. Jax is territorial, strong, and weighs twice as much as Henry. Henry is a frail little old man with arthritis, so we want to keep him from getting pounced or even stressed.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at When Cats Attack on Sunday - -

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Colbert's tweet

now that the obamas finally got their dog, joe biden has someone new to blame those accidents on

Stephen Colbert on twitter:
Link found through ColbertNation so it's really him. [note, I can't find the link on his site now, but it was there last week]

Embarrassment and riches

You know I love Olbermann. It just seems so plainly obvious that if corporations would pay their fair taxes just like all of us have had to do, that this country (and the rest of the world) wouldn't be in such an economic pickle. You might just say that this issue is kinda important, if you were making an extreme understatement, that is.

Utah Savage has a good post up on taxation outrage.

And on another note, I would appreciate it if you all don't judge everybody in Texas by a few of the genuine whack-jobs (like Goodhair Perry, Box-turtle Cornyn, Chuck fake-Texas-Ranger Norris and the list goes on). This is embarrassing for not only the liberals in Austin or crammed into pockets in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio - but for the moderates in those places too. Secede?? PHFFFFT!!! Stupidest idea I've heard in a really long time.

To offset the the crazy "Let's abolish the government and give everybody a gun" frenzy of yesterday (and there was some of that in this town too) (and if you really want to live in a place like that, there are many choices in this world, all of them extremely dangerous), today on the anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings, there are "Empty Holster" protests (read more here).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The pall of malls

We watched Seth Rogen's Observe and Report last weekend, and I saw in the credits that it was filmed at Winrock Mall in Albuquerque. That's a mall that was close to my heart because I was living there when it was built in 1961. It was the first enclosed mall in New Mexico, and it was so absolutely high-tech, modern, beautiful, and so downright cooooel. As an 8-year old who was not too fond of the parents' hobby of driving out into the middle of the desert to look for rocks, it was infinitely more interesting than anything else. Of course, in retrospect it must have been magnified by my kid imagination, very much like so many other things that it's best not to revisit as an adult because you will ruin your memories.

I went out to ABQ when my mother died in the early 90s, and visited Winrock with some relatives. Of course, 30+ years made a heck of a difference and I didn't really recognize it, but it didn't just look different, it was like one of those discount outlet malls. They had a J. C Penney and forgot what else but mostly kind of junky, a few notches above a roadside kiosk. After seeing the movie I did a google search, and discovered that Winrock was chosen because it was a dead mall, only 3 tenants remaining! Practically deserted.

I am not about to weep over a shopping mall, but it IS one of main early teen hangouts so it kind of strange to see its birth and death. I never really go to malls anymore. There is nothing of interest there. Maybe it's time for them to die so we can get back some greenspace and maybe some community gardens. Wouldn't that sound better?

mall hall of fame
malls of america
Winrock wiki

Good times ahead, but no down time

Dashing in for a quick post. Got hit with a work bomb on Monday on the "day job" (big pile of work/very short and firm deadline) so I've barely been up for air or news or goofing off or anything of the sort. Missed Fastball at Waterloo Records and the Brewster McCracken house party at the home of Tim & Karrie League, the owners of the Alamo Drafthouses with Jon Dee Graham playing because I was mentally wasted from two too-long days and over an hour of bumper-to-bumper and sirens tonight (sigh}.

Friday we will be at The Old Settler's Music Festival (should be comped in for the day), and they have a great lineup as always. It's a great little Bluegrass/Americana event on a pretty piece of land by Onion Creek and a pretty good vibe.

This weekend the town (especially So. Congress) will be in party mode and full of classic cars cruising the streets for the Lone Star Roundup. Lots of great live music in the rockabilly vein too, or just a good time to park yourself at Jo's Coffee and watch the "parade" go by.

For people-watching with a twist, you might want to consider the Bare Buns 5K Run in McDade. Yep, it's just what it sounds like, and probably best experienced if you are game for getting closer to nature yourself.

We are going to keep our clothes on and go to see Gary Louris and Mark Olson (of the Jayhawks). They have an in-store at Waterloo Records and a show at Antone's, both on Saturday. Should be wonderful.

On Sunday, we will rest.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Elephant apparently violates zoo sexual morals

A Polish Zoo has taken in what they believe might be a gay elephant. [LINK]

And wouldn't you know it? Some politician over there has a problem with it! I guess his personal life is somehow affected by this.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Furbaby Friday - Needs a caption

Jax in mid-stretch wearing his soft e-collar. He's a funny cat.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at Artsy Catsy - -

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Boxmasters, this isn't worth it...

...unless you are mainly wanting some really weird stories to tell down the road, and my instincts tell me you've got those in Spades already. It’s hard to resist the allure of getting major exposure by playing in a band with an extremely famous person like Billy Bob Thornton. It gets you in front of big audiences. It gets you gigs, like gigs with Willie Nelson… maybe connections… but look at this band and how uncomfortable they are. They look miserable at being put on the spot by the incredible assholery of their band leader. This vid is 13 minutes long but is worth watching for the train wreck effect.

I’ve seen Billy Bob Thornton play – actually about 3 times (please note that it was not with this band). All were in captive situations where we were waiting for another band and couldn’t vacate our turf. First of all, he took 3 times longer than anybody else to get his show set up, and he refused to use the regular microphones (maybe he’s afraid of them like he’s afraid of antique furniture), but the one he used sounded like absolute crap. Even forgiving that, if you take away the novelty of the fact that you are watching a famous actor, then you are left with a musician who might be able to get gigs in a bar band, maybe even in Austin (although in Austin I don’t think they would be in prime time slots or venues), but would definitely not rate opening for Willie or playing ACL. That’s my humble opinion folks. He gets bookings because he’s a great and very famous actor who has the additional hook of having been married to Angelina Jolie. It’s stupid for him to expect other people to pretend that’s not the case.

Rush, Texas is big. Pick another town.

[LINK] I know that Rush is considering moving to Texas, and Goodhair Perry is trying to talk him into it, but Perry seems to think that Austin is a good place for him. Uh... no... not really... not even close. Anywhere else in Texas would be a welcoming, nurturing, snuggly environment for him.

BLECH! OK, I know there are quite a few very rich, ultra-conservative political types who do live here, and they, thankfully, manage to stay out of the line of sight of most of the general population. I guess Flush would be like that, but oh please! I just don't want him associated with the town I love, unless Robert Rodriguez and/or Quentin Tarantino are using him in one of their upcoming movies. That I would like.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

White Castle to House to White House

A lot of the headlines for this story have some version of this. We were thinking that Kal Penn was probably headed into some highly-compensated and time consuming movie deal, and that's why his character has suddenly exited House (and now I'm glad that we watched it rather that DVR'ing it because, although they waited until after the episode played to announce his new job to the press, the manner of his character's exit has been widely reported).

I haven't seen any of the Harold & Kumar movies (yes, I know... I have a big pop culture gap and I plan on seeing them), but I can strongly recommend a movie of his called The Namesake. In fact, I though about it a lot during the recent Presidential election when the subject of Barack Obama's middle name came up. It's a good one.

If you DID already see the House episode and want to see the show's little tribute vid, click here.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Guns are U.S.

A very limited roundup of recent "you can pry it from my cold dead hands" news.

[LINK] A father shot and killed his 5 children and himself because his wife had decided to leave him. The father had been put on a parenting plan by state child welfare officials in 2007 after a "minor assault" on one of the children. Several weapons were found in the home.

[LINK] A man shot and killed 13 people and himself at the American Civic Association, probably because he was upset about losing his job and because he was having trouble learning English. The victims were thought to be randomly selected.

[LINK] In Pittsburgh, after a man argued with his mother over a dog that was urinating in the house, when she called the police to have her son removed from the home, he shot and killed 3 police officers.

[LINK] A woman with a history of mental illness shoots her 20 year old son in the head at a firing range, and shoots herself.

[LINK] AP reports that 53 people died have during mass shootings in the USA during the last month, including the nursing home slaughter, a traffic stop bloodbath, and the man who shot his 2 children, 3 relatives and himself at a housewarming party.

cartoon by Pat Bagley

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Politicians invade the burbs

We were shopping at Costco yesterday - picked up all the essentials for the weekend: bottle of wine, 2 cases of beer, and some solar lights for the backyard - when who should walk past us but Senator John ("box turtle") Cornyn! I was wearing my Obama shirt (shown at right, click to enlarge) that I got at the local Obama Store, and I doubt that he liked it (but should expect that in Austin). Don't know what he was doing here, I think he lives in San Antonio. Maybe he was up here visiting Gov. Goodhair Perry. He got the moniker Box Turtle from the prepared notes of a speech delivered to the Heritage Foundation in 2004 regarding the the issue of gay marriage (although, apparently the reference to box turtles was removed from the actual delivered speech)
[LINK] "It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right. . . . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife." -- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), advocating a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in a speech Thursday to the Heritage Foundation.
Sen. Cornyn, one of our 2 right-wing conservative Republican Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison being the other. Ugh. At least our US Representative is Lloyd Doggett, a person who actually represents my views. He's a rare gem of a politician too. We love him.

Yesterday was also our day to meet other politicians. We attended a meet and greet party at a neighbor's house with Austin Mayoral candidate Lee Leffingwell, and City Council candidates Mike Martinez, Sheryl Cole, and Perla Cavazos. We have 2 very strong left-wing progressive Democratic candidates for Mayor, both currently in City Council: Lee Leffingwell and Brewster McCracken (gotta love that name). I'm leaning toward McCracken and MrB is leaning toward Leffingwell so we may vote differntly, not sure yet. As long as one of them defeats that goofy Republican Carole McClellan One Tough Grandma Rylander Keeton Strayhorn, who goes by a different moniker everytime she runs for something. For Governor it was "One Tough Grandma" and now, since Austin is a young-thinking place, she is going by "Carole". You may know her as the mother of Scott McClellan. She is whacked.

Sheryl Cole is a no-brainer for me. She's a Democrat and current City Council member, running against a Libertarian. I have Libertarian friends but don't want them representing me in government, I just don't agree with the ideology.

Perla Cavazos is a Democrat running against another Democrat, Chris Riley. MrB started out our conversation with the embarrassing question, "I have a Chris Riley bumper sticker. Why should I vote for you?" But she took it in stride and actually chatted with us for quite a while. She and Chris Riley are both alright, and I told her I was undecided in order to redeem the conversation a bit, but I am still leaning towards Riley anyway.

They all liked my shirt, which also got lots of kudos during SXSW too.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bees and Black Oil - but no X-Files

It's maximum poppy time here in Central Texas, and we have a yard full of them. Here they are surrounding one of the birdbaths, and they just as thick as this in some of the pathways and people areas (the yard is geared more toward birds, bees and butterflies than people anyway). The birdbath is made from a chip/dip serving tray and the bottom of an old barstool.

Here's a bee packing a sweet load of something above. Below is one of a crop of surprise sunflowers that sprouted up this year. We're pretty sure they are Black Oil Sunflowers planted by birds from the birdseed mixture. If you want to make birds really happy (especially cardinals) get the seed with a lot of black oil sunflower seeds. I adore sunflowers, they are my favorite flower. These are just a couple of feet tall with one pretty big flower, and it's the first time we've had them. In a month or so we will get our regular crop of the type that grow 10-12 feet high and are covered in small flowers. I don't know what they're called, I call them Texas Sunflowers but that's not the right name.

Below is a thick collection of butterfly eggs. We don't know for sure what kind - MrB insists that they are Monarchs, and we do get lots of Monarch activity here because Austin is on their migration route toward Mexico. Well... we'll see what these eggs produce...

Here's the eastward view of things as they look now (above) and things will just get thicker and taller through the early summer. For comparison, here's the same view as it looked this past January. We went to Costco and got some solar lights to add some nighttime illumination - at least now some of the sharp-pointiest plants are lit up.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Cat Friday Bonus

This starts out funny, then you think it's headed for a lull, then it got so funny it gave me those unsuppressable giggles where the more you try not to laugh, the more you have to laugh anyway and can't stop. Cats just crack me up. Keep watching.

Found via Cute Overload (I think).

Furbaby Friday - Toasty Toes

Henry feels pretty good in his fleecy bed.

Here's one of the main reasons: his heater is nearby and running. Just like us humans when they get older, he likes a warm room. The big frizzy pillow is a homemade scratching post that doubles as a booster to help Henry to jump on the big trunk so he can sit near the window.

I couldn't stop at one cat post today. Click here for Friday Cat Bonus.

Tags and links: Friday Ark - Carnival of the Cats - This week's carnival is at No Cats Allowed - -

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

How much more black can it be?

Scientists have created the blackest material ever made [LINK]:
Scientists have fashioned what may be the blackest material in the universe: a sheet of carbon nanotubes that captures nearly every last photon of every wavelength of light.

The substance absorbs between 97 percent and 99 percent of wavelengths that can be directly measured or extrapolated. It's the closest that scientists have yet come to a black body, a theorized state of perfect absorption whose closest analogue is believed to be the opening of a deep hole.

"How much more black can it be?" - to quote Spinal Tap when first seeing their new album cover, which looks like the image above. The answer, by the way, is "None. None more black."

Breaking News!

Dick Cheney dies of heart attack.