Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ben Was Bored...

...and made Cassidy's meal of pure awesome.

A Spring Walk Across the OSU Campus

Whatever strengths and weaknesses Oregon State University may have- and I could go on ad nauseum about either- one thing that you have to grant is that its landscaping is absolutely beautiful. Our winters may be gloomy, but the spring flowers, when we get a few days of sun, are mind boggling. Today's highs were probably mid 70's, about perfect in my book, and the next two days are supposed to be even warmer and sunnier. The rhododendrons and azaleas peak in early to mid May; at that point the whole campus is a riot of color.
Rhodies near the engineering buildings and a close-up.A magnolia near Chemical Engineering, and another close-up.One rhododendron is just coming into bloom; the others are still budding. Milne Hall (Math) on the left, and The Valley Library in the middle distance.Azaleas Since OSU has a world-class forestry school, there are many non-native species on campus, but lately they've been trying to give the natives some representation
A trillium; I'm not sure what the flower in the middle left is.
And a close-up of the trillium, with a background of diabase (intermediate grain size between gabbro and basalt), another native material.Again, I'm not sure what this is, though it looks like some kind of apple or a relative- maybe a crabapple? Note the moss and lichen growing on the twigs. Epiphytes like it here even better than the flowers. Most trees here stay green through the winter even though they've lost all their leaves.


Ozma is rarely underfoot, unless I have just come home and walked into the kitchen... she knows that means food. And she's so damned fast and quiet that this event almost always involves her getting kicked (accidentally, of course). I keep hoping she'll learn.

But one of her more endearing habits is her inclination to stay close by where ever I am. I have learned that if I get up to go to the bathroom and come back to my desk, I need to look around and make sure I know where she is. She doesn't appreciate getting run over by the chair.She has been appreciating the warmth lately. The last couple of nights have been chilly- down in the 30's- but I've been leaving the porch door open enough for her to come and go as she wants. She is still able to jump up onto the porch, which still amazes me: if I was able to jump a proportional vertical distance, it would be about 50 feet. Over the winter she has learned to scratch at the door to get my attention, but there have been a couple of nights I've gone to bed before she decided it was time to come in. In the morning, she was curled up about a foot from my face.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Those Crazy Alaskans

The Alaska legislature has rejected the nomination of Wayne Anthony Ross, Governor Palin's pick for attorney general. Apparently, according to this article in The Anchorage Daily News, this is the first time the legislature has rejected a choice for a leader of a state agency. Given the nature of quotes from Ross that have been circulating on the internet over the last few days, I'm pleased to see him rejected. One quote attributed to him (which he claims is not accurate) is “If a guy can’t rape his wife, who’s he gonna rape?” Whether the quote is accurate or not (and I'd be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, without further evidence), this ding-a-ling has left a looong paper trail of written screeds he'd have a harder time denying. According to the same article, "his nomination was thrown into grave peril when his opponents presented evidence that he called homosexuals “degenerates,” leveled invective against an African-American student offended by a statue of a Klansman, vowed to undermine the sovereignty of Native American tribes, and allegedly defended men who rape their wives."

Now the fact is, we as a culture have become jaded and apathetic regarding extremist righty rhetoric; just a few years ago, faced a major PR crisis when one of hundreds of video submissions for an advertising campaign made allusions to the fascist tendencies of the Bush Administration. The right was convulsing, and even the left was awfully sheepish about the event- though I felt at the time, and still do, that the clip in question was thought-provoking, timely, and contained a firm nucleus of truth. Now, the manic media madman Glenn Beck gets paid millions to spend hours each week describing fatuous parallels between "socialist" "fascist" "communist" "happy face" Obama policies and those of Hitler, in between bouts of tears and loving his country. And the right nods sagely to itself as it contemplates the rapture and teabags. And the left rolls its eyes and grits its teeth and tries to stay polite.

The point is, I'm not really surprised or shocked or outraged to hear attributions of such comments to Wayne Anthony Ross, or W.A.R., as his vanity plates proudly proclaim.

But when a nominee for attorney general is quoted as saying, "it seems to me the most important thing that can be done by the Senate is not argue with legal or illegal but to appoint somebody to represent Juneau," by the reporter to whom he made the comment, I have to say I'm really, really glad to hear he was rejected. Isn't it nice that a person whose proposed job is to enforce the law didn't get that job after saying that he wasn't really worried about whether things were legal or illegal? Baby steps, people, baby steps.

"Unique and Independent"

Michael Tomasky and Andy Duckworth examine how Texas could truly achieve Governor Perry's claimed uniqueness and independence, for example, by turning away federal funds for highway maintainence. Or guaranteed and subsidized loans for rail freight line maintainence. Or, they could actually secede. Money quote: "They'd be a failed state in about four years." Video here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What Is It With Bacon?

So this guy makes the equivalent of an acetylene torch with "engineering-grade bacon" (proscuitto). But vegetarians, don't despair: he makes another with breadsticks and a cucumber... it's not as effective at cutting plate steel, but still very impressive. I'd bet if he dipped the breadsticks in olive oil, they burn back more slowly and cut steel as well as the bacon. Whatever. Obviously, this is an economic issue... some people have way too much time on their hands these days. From The Feedbag. I can't get the embedding to work, but it is worthwhile to click over and watch the clip.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday Words

Criminy... I knew I'd been sort remiss about keeping up with my "regular" posts, but it's been almost a month since I last posted Wednesday Words. I'll try to do better. Promise.

Hey, put down that teabag! It could be loaded!

If Democrats Were As Dumb As Republicans

We'd hold demonstrations proclaiming the benefits of predatory redistribution of wealth, confiscating 99.9% of all incomes over a dollar per year, and throwing those funds at those who earn less than that amount. And we would call these demonstrations "Golden Showers." The fun would arise from the fact that as soon as the recipients passed a dollar, we would take away all of their funds, and give the golden shower to someone else. Golden Showers for Everyone!

My mind reels.

No Teabagging Here

All the teas at my favorite coffee shop are bulk.
Could I offer you a strainer?
After all, what's the fun in teabagging if you get all those loose twinings in your mouth?

I have to admit, I'm kind of naive about a lot of this stuff, and the unintentional double-entendre associated with this event was completely off my radar until late last week or so. I'm horrified, not by the name itself, but by the complete idiocy and obliviousness of the other major party in this country.

Iris and Sam and I had a funny converstation about this topic a moment ago, and I figured while I had the camera motor up and running, I'd share a picture of Sam, another of my favorite Interzone People. I thought this came out well. I have lent Sam a number of Sci-Fi/Fantasy books over the last couple of years, notably Connie Willis and George R.R. Martin. She adores the "Song of Fire and Ice" series, and has been dragging her reading out the fourth volume for several months now, trying to make it last until the next volume comes out. I have been so accustomed to thinking of her as "Sam," that when she sent some links in an e-mail a while back, with the sender identified as "Samantha (lastname)," it was actually a couple of hours before I realized who it was from.

Shock and Awe I Can Get Behind

If you haven't seen the video of Susan Boyle's stunning performance on "Britain Has Talent," you need to take a few minutes to give yourself a treat. (Embedding is disabled, so here's the link to the YouTube site)

I came across this Monday, and even then, it seemed like it was going viral. I'm pleased to post items that seem obscure but worthy of attention, but I feel it's a waste of everyone's time to post things that most have already seen. Chats with a number of fellow coffee drinkers, though, has made it clear that many folks have not yet seen this clip. I told Ben last night that I had sent it to him and Lydia, and that if it didn't make them cry a little, I didn't want to know, because it meant they weren't human. Ben told me earlier today to rest assured that they were both quite human.

The Washington Post has an article that gives a little more background on this wonderful woman.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bad Time to be a Pirate

From Big. Crush.Tha'ss rite dawg... Obama be da man. In other news, Yoda is looking for a new job.Now in fairness, if we were to plot Al Quaida #2 leaders killed vs. president, it would look much the same, but shrub would have 6391 #2 leaders killed, and everyone else would have zero. You have to hand it to Al Quaida... their chain of command is astonishingly effective. We could take out 6 or 7 #2 leaders in one day! Then four or five the next. Judging by Chief Justice Roberts' performance, we wouldn't be able to swear in two vice presidents in a month, let alone a half dozen in an afternoon. But I don't think Obama has taken out a single number two Al Quaida leader yet. Better get on the ball, Barack! The right might decide you're not all you're cracked up to be. And we couldn't have that.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Funnies: Easter Edition!

Because Easter falls on a Sunday this year! Now Easter is a fairly grim holiday, if taken at face value: a religious leader is executed in a particularly horrific manner, then re-emerges from his grave as a zombie three days later... and eventually establishes a nation based on brain-dead "principles" and "values." For example, every life is sacred, as long as you haven't been born yet. After that miraculous event, you're on your own. People who don't look like you or believe what you believe are not fully human, and Jeebus fully approves of killing them... I think this is part of the whole zombie thing. You can't become a zombie if you're still alive.

But the point is, some of these funnies are kind of grim, just like the holiday (and The Addams Family). If your answer to the question, "How far should the Addams Family go?" is "Not too far," use some discretion. I will say, in my own defense, that I've shown the most questionable of these to other coffee drinkers, and all have elicited some laughs. But some have brought out (funny to me) expressions of repugnance and disgust. So when you get to one that makes you cringe, stop there. I'll try to order these from innoucuous to utterly tasteless. You have been warned.

I'll start with the downright silly "Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves." I've never understood the desire to dress up pets, but obviously it's a common compulsion...
(From this post)

Then we have last week's find, This is Why You're Fat, from this post:
Deep-fried Cadbury Eggs!

Like most holdays, Easter is associated with a variety of foods. I remember some lamb cakes (with coconut wool) from my childhood, but aside from the candy, my strongest Easter food association is an exquisite ham. But apparently cakes are a big one for many people. Cake Wrecks... what, you don't know about Cake Wrecks? Oh, have you got a treat in store! Well, that blog has been presenting some hysterical examples of badly conceived and executed cakes for several days now (Followup: Easter cakes, I should have said. Cake Wrecks has been posting hilarious cakes for almost a year- the first blogoversary will be May 20). As always, if the photo itself isn't enough to crack you up, the snarky commentary will reduce you to tears. The comment here is "How about a couple of coiled yellow snakes to get you in the Easter spirit?" And with this one, she remarks, "You know what screams "Easter" to me? A couple of red, white and blue doughnuts. No, really. Look:The Christmas-y red and green ones would have been too much of stretch, though. [nodding] Totally."

Now each of the posts I've linked above has a number of wrecky cakes, but she has done a couple of others that each have their own share of laughs, including one on lambs and one on chicks. And on the regular feature, Sunday Sweets, some truly exquisite examples of artisan cakes will spark your sense of awe instead of your sense of humor. I think today's offerings are among the most impressive I've seen.
You don't want to know how Santa funds his operations. (Savage Chickens)

An explanation for why, even though the zombie raised havoc for weeks after his reanimation, there is no "Gospel According to Jeebus:"
fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Despite the fact that all holidays have historical baggage associated with them, it seems only the wingnuttiest fundamental christians (I will not dignify them with a capital letter) see Satan in every tiny deviation from some Cliff Notes version of the bibble that only they are privy to...
(From Criggo)

I'm assuming this is photoshopped, but often times such assumptions are very, very tenative... From LoLtheist.

Even Pharyngula got in on the Easter action...
Now I do want to insert some text here, first to note that the next (and last) two "funnies" might be offensive to some... I personally find them very funny in a morbid sort of way, but you might not. Since this is my blog, I decide what goes and what doesn't... I just think it's polite and thoughtful to be aware of, and sensitive to, my guests' sensibilities. That said, I'll preface the next with a joke I've always liked.

A customer walks into an "inspirational" store and browses around for a few minutes. He comes up to the counter with a baseball cap with the initials WWJD blazoned across the front in metallic gold. He asks the clerk, "What does 'WWJD' mean?"

The clerk responds, "It stands for 'What would Jesus do?' It's a reminder that each time you run into a moral quandry, the best way to the Christian answer to the problem is to ask yourself that question."

The customer looks down at the hat for a moment, then looks back at the clerk, and sets the cap down firmly on the counter. As he turns to walk out, he says, "Well, I don't think Jesus would spend 29.95 on a cheesy baseball cap made in China. He couldn't even read it unless he took it off."
(From LoLtheist)

Now this is definitely not one for the kiddies...
...but don't worry, he gets resurrected for next year. It's the miracle of Easter! (From My [confined] Space)