Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sorry, Wrong Planet...

Even a brilliant mind can seem like it's "jumped the shark" sometimes. Or not.
The eccentric, mega-IQ mind of Stephen Hawking has a Discovery Channel piece upcoming, wherein he postulates that, contrary to years of effort and various and assorted attempts, it is a very bad idea for us to reach out across the cosmos, in search of intelligent life.
Hawking may be too late to dissuade one American city and county on the subject, but we'll return to that momentarily.
His argument seems to suggest that such a search may well result in "be careful what you wish for", and that some forms of life out there, somewhere, might be even more predatory and conquest-oriented, than we as a species have been. Which could result in the ultimate of "hostile takeover" attempts, as have been depicted in sci-fi books and films for years.
I don't know how long it'll take The Daily Kos, HuffPo, Moron.Org, et al, to brand Hawking "anti-immigrant" and a "racist", but let's take a look at this from a
Man has had a fascination with the notion that there must be intelligent life out there, beyond our simple Solar System (anyone watching our Congress of late, knows intelligent life can't be found there). And from Man's first visit to the Moon, there have been various and sundry efforts to reach out and touch an extraterrestrial. In 1972 and '73, Pioneers 10 and 11 were launched into the cosmos, destination....infinity. Aboard both, were symbols indicating our human community, and our approximate cosmic address. In 1977, Voyagers 1 and 2 were dispatched on a similar mission, bearing Earthly recordings of different sounds and ideas, to deliver to whom/whatsoever ultimately might find and collect them, at some point in the endless Sea of Deep Space & Time.
The short speech on one of the recordings by Jimmy Carter, it is hoped, won't be held against us. This might be the reason for Hawking's trepidation, but I digress.
In 2008, NASA 'beamed' a song by the Beatles -- Across The Universe -- as a message, in the direction of the star Polaris (aka, The North Star), to anyone/thing living in the cosmic vicinity thereof. Taking into account such things as physics, the speed of light, government regulation, ASCAP and union rules, it is estimated that the message will arrive in the Polaris neighborhood about the year 2439.
Perhaps Admiral James T. Kirk can do a time warp after the message is received, to tell us how it went over: as a "message of peace", or as an inciting-of-violence obscenity in Romulan, which folks in the future will no doubt wish to thank us for, by sending us a futuristic "Phfffffft!".
Of course, sound waves have been leaving the good ol' Earth for millenia. Granted, up until the advent of radio, any transmissions from Earth that might be eventually picked up by any kind of life form, would be primitive, or across various spectrums of stuff I don't know squat about. Say, when the volcanic island Krakatoa exploded in 1883, what some cosmic listening post in deep space might eventually here would be.....*boom*. How they might interpret that, well:
Alien 1: "Rack ack ack rack...*boom*?"
Alien 2: "Rack rack ACK rack ACK, *boom*!"
Together: "Rack ack ack ack ack ack...!"
By the same token, I know nothing more about deep space radio signals NASA has detected from distant quasars, that could be almost anything, from space noise, to alien programming ("At Xoeygeryg Spunkmeisen Gronificators, We Hold Your Loyalty In Our 27 Hands. Find Us For All Your Flatuminus Needs And Extenitalia. We're Prepostunationally Located In The Horsehead Nebula, For Easy Access! Mind Meld Today!").
With the advent of radio, and later TV, what human-caused signals may eventually reach intelligent life, well..."bang...ZOOM, Alice, to the MOON!"...."Who's on First? Yes, he is. So, Who's on First? You're right! I don't even know what I'm talking about!!!"....might have another race of beings wondering amongst themselves, their own equivalent of "WTF?".
Now, it's possible that advanced cultures in other areas of the cosmos have very delicate, powerful, and capable transceivers, to listen for things as subtle as...whale song. In Star Trek IV The Voyage Home, an alien race sends a probe to Earth, seeking to find out why, in the 23rd Century, they can no longer listen to George and Gracie whale-rap. This, of course, causes all sorts of havoc with human services and conditions -- the disruption of texting ability alone would cause the entire generation of teens to implode and bitch about having nothing to do -- and it takes a handful of humans, on another alien wessel, to go back in time to find the right species to respond to the alien probe. And having successfully done so, the probe does indeed, as Dr. McCoy ventured, get the answer it wants, so it can go do something else with itself.
And all's a happy ending, except for Admiral/Captain Kirk's latest girlfriend, who blows him off too, to go chase a pair of sea mammals 300 years after she wasn't supposed to be, anymore.
I'm sure the alien race that sent the probe, found this part totally non sequitur.
Of course, many have postulated about what a human/alien contact for the first time might be like: would it be more like ET, or like Mars Attacks! In the former case, a heart-warming universal enlightenment descends upon all the world. In the latter case, a bunch of until-now undetected Martians of dubious antecedence and odious intent, wreak all kinds of havoc on Earth -- other than performing the singular public service of hosing the Congress -- before being driven back to Mars by the songs of Slim Whitman.
Or maybe it would be somewhere in between, like in the first Outer Limits (TOS) episode (a personal favorite of my pet rock, Seymour), when an engineer who owns a radio station, makes contact with a race of beings totally unlike anything one would see today with modern CGI special effects. A gaffe on the part of another radio station employee winds up "sucking" the alien from his point of transmission, to Earth, where it doesn't go real good for a couple Earthlings, but ultimately the alien gets to make a James T. Kirk-like speech, warning of the ways of Man in the face of the unknown, before disappearing into the void like a hallucination of an honest politician.
I dunno....Hawking might be onto something here. Perhaps we, as "we" are collectively, aren't ready for contact with an alien intelligence. Perhaps we're already in contact, as aliens have infiltrated us, for study and analysis, to determine if we're worthy of future, more substantive contact. Or perhaps AlGore is the alien, sent to test human intelligence and gullibility; and those who bought into his AGW scam have so totally flunked, getting voted off an alien Cosmic Intelligence Idol show, without knowing they were auditioning.
Whatever the case, I'm not worried about the Beatles speaking for me to Polarisians; my chips will be cashed in long before 2439. And if something malevolent finds, and is offended by, Jimmy Carter's words on the Voyager, well...I'm not a registered Democrat, so no worries there.
In the case of a Mars Attacks! encounter, no worries there, either: I think I have a Slim Whitman album around here, somewhere. If not, I can substitute modern-day Bob Dylan or Ozzy Osbourne one; whale song would be easier to decipher, even for an alien.
Which I may have to do, thanks to a whacked-out ballot initiative that will be up to a vote of the City and County of Denver in 2010: whether to create a City & County Extraterrestrial Affairs Committee, or not. Whether the proponent of this ballot initiative, or those who signed onto it, are also medicinal marijuana prescription holders (which are currently spreading across the City & County like wildfire through a drought-infested forest), is not known.
But before the City & County votes to create this commission or not, perhaps every voter should be required to watch ET and Mars Attacks!, while sober and before voting, to get both up and downsides of the potential results.
At the very least, know that greeting a delegation of extraterrestrials with a release of peace doves, might go over like a fart in an avalanche zone.
Bottom line here: you might think the City and County of Denver is right; or, you might think that Stephen Hawking is right; or, you might wait to find out for yourself, when or if you are contacted by an extraterrestrial that doesn't present a green card, or demand your wallet.
If you find yourself in such a meeting, and it seems to be going well, you can always direct them to Denver; if not, you can try treating them like a wrong number, and respond with a no sprechen das Polarisian, boneless nachos, awpeterstain!
Or hope you have Slim Whitman on your iPod, blackberry, cell phone ring tone, etc...

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Monday, April 26, 2010

What In the Horsefeathers Wuz That?

I admit it: I'm a landlubber. Born in Iowa. While I've been to both coasts, I've never lingered long on either. And I've been to 'sea', so to speak, all of twice. Once, on the daily boat from LA to Catalina Island and back.
The other...on something akin to the SS Minnow, but with no one quite like Mary Ann aboard, and it was no three hour cruise that turned into a really corny series with two equally bad movie adaptations thereafter.
It lasted more like six hours. And the primary theme, from launch to return, was fishing. The subplots will reveal themselves in the telling.
For my first 'sea' fishing experience, we launched out of Long Beach, aboard a boat what's name I can no longer recall. It wasn't as modern as the SS Minnow; in some respects, it more closely resembled the Orca, but without any ominous music. It appeared that the crew was well-versed in both what we were after, fishing-wise, and where we had to go to find it, as their frequent shifts of location and navigation, indicated.
I suppose I didn't necessarily endear myself to the captain, when I asked if Mary Ann was along on this cruise...all I got was a look and something akin to "arrrrrrr", and told where I could get my fishing rod.
Going out from the pier into "open" water, I was reminded why I usually carried Dramamine for such occasions. And why, starting right NOW, I was an idiot to not bring it.
After about 25 or so minutes of the crew making sure they could sort out those with "sea legs", versus those without (aka, moi), we stopped about 4 or 5 miles off shore. I was handed a fully-rigged pole by a crewman I dubbed Gilligan, on which I hooked a live six inch-long shiner (I was haughtily informed by Gilligan that it was an anchovy), I plunked it over the side, letting it sink to however deep the bottom was thereabouts.
My decision to be macho and forego motion sickness medication caught up to me quick; as anyone who's been on the ocean can tell you, the smaller the boat, the more the ocean's motion is a factor. I found the best way to deny what the swells were doing to my pallor was (a) deny that green tint to my face was anything other than sunlight reflecting off the sea (b) look straight ahead at all times (c) brace myself against the side of the boat and (d) not throw up with folks downwind of me. I kept telling myself that I was out here for fun and fishing.
So when one of the few females aboard -- no Mary Ann, but not bad as "lookers" go -- after seeking my help to bait her hook, conversationally asked me where I was from, I was already well-schooled in my "I'm here for fun and fishing", followed by a bit of breakfast going over the side.
Needless to say, I didn't get her phone number.
Now, I was an inland fisherman. I'd fished in lakes, rivers, creeks and farm ponds. Being on the biggest lake the world has to offer, I had never seen any kind of fish the likes our boat began to find. One fellow three positions to my left -- and happy to be upwind of me when I'd chum the water with breakfast -- caught what Gilligan called a "calico bass". Another one, also gleefully upwind of me, hooked into a three-foot shark of some kind, which the crew didn't allow him to boat. Other folks along the railing were hooking some incredibly ugly fish that the crew was ginger in handling (see what I just did there, green-face and all?), and what they referred to as a "rock cod", but a kind they brought aboard in plentiful amounts.
Finally, something *tugged* on my line. Using the tried and true methods of my lake and river bottom fishing from Iowa and Minnesota, I waited until I was sure *it* had my hook; I set it and began reeling in. Curiously, the *tugging* stopped, and it felt as if I was bringing in little more than a snag, if even that.
And then I saw *it*: something off-white in color, looking absolutely NOTHING like a fish. More like a giant centipede, about 18-20" long, and clinging stubbornly to my hook, even though it appeared it could fall off at any moment. As I was about to 'boat' the thing, Gilligan shouted a warning, and immediately stepped up and cut my line, and I watched "it" disappear back into the sea.
Gilligan took my pole and immediately began re-rigging it, his patented scowl (which disappeared in the presence of the females) creasing his mug, but my green-mugged curiosity had to be satisfied, and I asked what was that thing?
"A mantis shrimp", he replied brusquely, shoving my re-rigged pole back into my hands, and hurrying off to continue hitting on one of the three female passengers aboard. I would learn later that a mantis shrimp was nothing to screw with, and used it's forward scaly plating to open oysters and such, hitting them with the force of a .22 caliber bullet.
Intent on catching something more conventional, I'd have to wait: just as I was about to drop hook again, the crew began yelling for everyone to reel in, and the boat began moving: fishing hooks were being emptied of anchovies by a meandering pack of seals, including one who barked disapprovingly at me as I pulled my freshly-baited hook away from his/her lunge for it. This happened several times during our expedition, and not once did any of these seals do parlor tricks in return for a reward. They were, in essence, "welfare" seals, expecting something for nothing.
Finally, we arrived at a spot that Gilligan said in passing -- he was escorting one of the females to the boat's "outhouse" -- produced halibut. I was first to cast out, and patiently awaited my sinking hook to settle, now that my latest 'breakfast chum' had nothing left to deposit.
But before my baited hook hit bottom, something hit my line with a *BWANG*, and took off. It was all I could do to hang on to the pole, as it took line faster than a tornado eats double-wides. I was hanging on for dear life, forgetting my green gills, trying to maintain both my control of the pole AND stay in the boat, when someone to my right shouted and pointed.
Speaking for me, I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing on our port side, as it happened fast: a giant something, rising out of the sea about 100 yards away, before as quickly disappearing beneath the surface of very roiled waters, and severing my line abruptly.
One of my fellow fisherman insisted I had hooked into a submarine. Oh yeah, right: I'm a landlubber, but I knew the difference between water and beer vomit. Whatever it was, I told him with a straight face that it was just as well I didn't land it, since Gilligan wouldn't have let me boat it, anyway.
Since Gilligan heard that, I had to get another pole from another crewman, to resume fishing.
At any rate, not ten minutes after dropping my newly-rigged, baited hook over the side, I boated my first of three halibut, which resembled misshapen door mats with eyes and fins, kind of. And after a couple more "welfare seal" interruptions, in another location we hit into a, a university...of rock cod, and I started feeling like a salty sea fishing veteran, since I no longer had any breakfast left to chum with, and was catching rock cod at a rate slightly better than that of others on my side of the boat.
The earlier female even returned -- seeing I was done chumming -- and again asked me to bait her hook, which got me an 'evil eye' from Gilligan, who apparently was trying to set his own hook thereabouts.
About the time I was no longer noticing the motion of the ocean, it was time to head ashore. Inbound, while Gilligan and another sullen crewman (he obviously didn't get any female phone numbers, either) were cleaning the multitude of rock cod and other assorted fish the dozen of us had caught, I witnessed the largest seabird convention I'd ever seen, assembled just astern of the boat, pacing us. Air traffic control was non-existent, but I saw not one mid-air collision. In fact, as fish guts and other remnants were tossed over the side, little of it actually hit the water: the gulls and terns were like shoppers as the doors opened at a Walmart on the day after Christmas.
Just a whole lot more precise about it.
Finally the boat docked, and I walked with an almost-jaunty stride to the dock. And almost collapsed thereon, as I found that just as my 'land legs' before had not ready for the sea, my newly-acquired 'sea legs' were now not ready for unmoving, solid ground. Even the sullen, no-score Gilligan grinned.
Thus, the official tally for my one and only sea-going fishing story: 3 halibut, 17 rock cod, 1 mantis shrimp, and 1 possible submarine, nationality and class unknown*. Add to it, no female phone numbers obtained (since none of the three looked like Mary Ann, eh), and no breakfast left over.
Oh...and one aggrieved welfare seal.
* actually, I did hook something that took off and snapped my line like Jaws, but between ocean motion, angle of sun, reflection, affects of two prior concussions (the third was still pending), a few cervezas that took the place of the lost breakfast, and with a bit of embellishment, I can't really say what anyone, including me, saw that I hooked. Since the US Navy wasn't waiting to talk to me upon our return, I reckon it wasn't one of OUR subs, if it was anything akin...*wink*

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

A *Roasted* Skunk

Yeah, I know: it sounds very much like something that would finish off what little is left of my kitchen: roasted skunk.
Well, it ain't that kinda roast (the local fire department just let loose a collective *whew*).
No, this h'yar blog -- Skunkfeathers -- is being *roasted* over at Clouds and Silvery Linings, hosted by Eddie Bluelights.
Feel free to drop by and throw some fuel on the fire, especially if you like your roast well-done ;-)

Here is the gist of the 'roast':

Here's the first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

My 'knack' for writing was recognized well before I acknowledged it. In the mid 90s, through what can only be called a 'fluke', I began writing a weekly humor column for a small town newspaper in Colorado. In '99, a friend convinced me to start a web page, featuring my columns. When the paper changed hands and I was discontinued in December 2000, I was used to posting on the web page -- known as Out of (Cyber) Thin Air -- twice weekly, and kept it up for years. A writing friend -- a blogger herself since 2004 -- pestered me into starting a blog in June 2005. It became my hobby, and remains so to this day (I pulled the plug on my web page in March 2007). That's a quick "how I came to blog"; why I blog is, it is, as stated, a hobby. A fun, intellectual hobby. And it's brought me into contact with some incredibly talented, gifted people I have the honor to read and be read by. Every time I do a post that gets one smile or *guffaw*, is reason enough for me to continue.

What's the story behind your blog name?

When I first went online in 1995, my first email address was horsefeathers; since then, I've used cowfethers, moosefeathers, badgerfeathers, snowsnakefeathers, t_rexfeathers ... about the time I started my blog, I commissioned an artistic friend to draw me an icon for my new blog, Skunkfeathers. And that's the way it's been, ever since.

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

The people I've met online, the fabulous talents I've had the pleasure to read and exchange correspondence with, and befriend. And it allows me to share my off-the-wall brand of humor with a degree of comfort; it also allows me to combine my off-the-wall humor with something of a public service: unmasking/making fun of online email scammers, and posting my escapades with them for readers to enjoy (I've been an active scambaiter since 2000).

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

Be wary of pet rocks that disassemble your TV remotes, and reassemble them AFTER watching an The Outer Limits marathon on the Sci-Fi Channel ... it'll get you interesting blogs, but mayhem on the home front.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?

That's a tough question to answer... and about the time I try, a more significant post by one of several quality bloggers I read will come along. The significance is, there never seems to be a 'ceiling' in the quality of bloggers.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

Again, a tough one to answer. I think the one I wrote that meant the most to anyone -- besides some of the military history posts I've done -- was a tribute to a fellow blogger who is always going out of her way to help others; then she suffered a mild stroke (TIA), and I wrote a piece for her titled A Time To Give, A Time To Heal. This was back in '06 or early '07; she still reminds me that it's her favorite entry I've ever written.

If you were to suggest two blogs for roasting who would you pick, and why?
I don't know if these have been through the roast before but I have several in mind:

She of She Writes who is worthy of all the attention she gets.

Other wonderful blogs I would recommend are:
Sniffles And Smiles (Janine Abbott)
Baron It All (Frank Baron)
A Day In The Life of Me (Monica Newton)
Mayden's Voyage (Cora Blinsmon)

The why is simply the quality of the product these bloggers bring to their respective blogs. I'm never disappointed with a visit to any of their blogs, unless they haven't posted in a while.

(Thank you Mike for these fine recommendations - I will be writing to all these popular bloggers in due course)
That concludes the formal aspect of the interview but it would be nice to get to know you a little better while you are slowly turning on the roasting spit. So while you are screaming in agony above the open fire here are a few more questions for you.

Pick three things you can't live without (no you cannot have ice cubes to cool you down)

My sense of humor, my blog friends, and my storm chasing.

If we were to make a movie about blogland, what would it be and who would you cast in the leading roles?
Ah, a sore spot with me right now; my pet rock Seymour, keeps trying to write movie scripts he claims are first-run and one-of-a-kind; all of them appear to be knock-offs of classics, done in parody-style ("are NOT!"..that was Seymour in the background). So if a movie about blogland were going to be done, I'd leave it to Seymour...I'm comfortable that Steven Spielberg will never option the script ("will TOO!").

If you could live your life again who would you be, and why?

If I could live my life again, I'd live it as me. And hope to do it better. Being able to go back and do it again, retaining the wisdom and lessons I've learned/squandered up to now, would be a triple plus. At any rate, why would I want to be someone else, with my own glaring imperfections staring me in the mirror?

You have been given a wonderful talent from above. This causes you to make your mark on humanity and be world famous. In which area would prefer: a best selling novelist, a brilliant artist, a gifted musician, a fantastic singer, a charismatic leader, anything you choose, and why?

I'd settle, albeit reluctantly, for the best selling novelist. But with fame comes a price; I'm not sure it's a price my preference for a low-key lifestyle would reckon well with. But I'm not famous, so no worries ;-)

If you were an ice cream cone, which flavour would you prefer and who would you most want to lick you?
Oh horsefeathers, that's easy: chocolate. Women LOVE chocolate. 'Nuff said.

(Yet another fine answer - I've had several good ones lately LOL)

Describe in one sentence your perfect day

I write a blog entry that everyone who reads it, laughs aloud.

If you were a fictional writer which one would you be and why?
I'd be me...I don't see myself in the ranks of the top fiction writers of the day. I'd settle just to be me, and write something that people enjoy reading.

And finally if you have answered all these questions I invite you to ask me one in return - it's the least I can do. OK fire away!
Well, lemme see h'yar...*mulling*... okay ... if a sheep is a ram, and a donkey is an ass, why is a ram in the ass a goose?
*Jeopardy Theme Music*

Now ladies please shut your eyes while I answer Mike's question. Oh go on then, but I did warn you!
he likes to ram his point home of course! Also he trys to solve riddles, is a bit sheepish, confuses geese with turkeys and requires the services of SpecSavers! There - understand it now?

Thanks for the opportunity, Eddie.

You are most welcome Mike and a popular choice. Thanks for the interview.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Get Back To Me"

*Note: this is from the Xmas archives from about '05 or so...but I didn't have time to prep something else, so you gets this 'un now*

Andy Williams (and others) sang it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Santa hears that these days and winces.

But, he perseveres. Tradition and public expectations are hard to buck. Easier to get a reindeer to do that, but I digress.

To the newly-dubbed and totally unofficial (for the season only) Santa Claus email addy (aka, one of my email addys) , came an email today with the title "Get Back To Me". It was from none other than Chief Anthony Mayor.

It's basically the same old same old, with the same old typos and spelling gaffes; and it demands immediate attention because time is shot. I think he meant "short", but whatever.

As if Santa hasn't got enough irons in the fire (the elves are trying to prevent him from playing any more bad golf), now he has Nigerian email scamming Chief Mayors demanding "immediate attention".

And Rodney Dangerfield thought he got no respect.

But Santa knows that the Missus won't brook him ignoring a wish letter. Especially now. So Santa returned the following response, diplomatically balancing answering something of a wish with providing the reality of the times in his suave, debonair style:

Chief Mayor Tony:

Damn, that's an impressive title you got yourself there. Some mayors are called "chief" by their adoring and/or grovelling subords; I oughta know, especially in the latter case. But you have twice the title of a regular chief or mayor. While it tends to be a bit redumbdant, that's strangely in keeping with your email to me, and has some bearing on my response.

Chief/Mayor, I am so sorry but you present me with this offer to give me the business at the absolute WORST possible time of the year for me. You see, I have a 24/7 gift preparation service that is running behind schedule, with elves working triple time, getting me in all sorts of hot water with elves rights groups, payroll, my know how it is; you're a chief.

And it gets worse: three of my reindeer are questionable for the 'Big Night' (two with muscle strains, and one with cramps...who knew?). Training replacements is no easy matter, as flying reindeer aren't a dime a doe-zen.

See what I just did there? No...I'm sure you don't. That's a little North Pole humor, but I digress.

And while I'm busting my hump to get the production and shipping end ready, the Missus is being hounded on the administrative and PR end by animal rights folks, labor rights folks, the PC folks who want the mere mention of "Christmas" banned in public, those incredibly pesky ACLU types who don't think I go far enough to represent everyone well enough to avoid offending SOMEBODY, SOMEWHERE, the OSHA folks, etc.

Add to that, my having to file flight plans in countless national airspaces, taking into account "no fly zones" where some trigger-happy software program is waiting to put an anti-air missile up Rudolph's tail pipe, and those nit-picky homeowners' associations and their "no rooftop landings" rules. And on, and on...

Finally, there's the wee matter of my having to cover the globe to reach every good boy and girl's homes (another bone of contention with the ACLU...the "too much time on their hands" clods) in the 31 hours I am allocated according to this silly thing designed by a Roman tyrant called a calendar, over 2000 years ago. In so doing, I have to violate more than a few laws of science, Nature, and piss off the global warming crowd with my "alleged" contributing to the ozone hole with my and the reindeer's flatulence.

Call it rude if you want: but you try eating a few billion cookies and drinking an ocean of left-out beverages of various types, and see if you don't get gas. The reindeer don't fancy hauling my ever-expanding ass all over the stratosphere, either.

Bottom line, Chief/Mayor: I am just not available right now for you to give the business to.

But in having perused a proof-read copy of your missive (I have an elfen secretary who is positively anal-retentive about spelling and grammar), I find that there is something I can leave in it is you use for a stocking over the firepit. Maybe a meerkat hide, I dunno (I won't tell the animal rights folks). Anyway, I think you'll benefit from a spellcheck program for your computer. And I also think you'll benefit from a brand new case of Handi-wipes, for when (or if) you remove your head from your ass, especially when it comes to sending out fourth-rate scams from Third World countries, you moronic turd.

The Handi-wipes may give you a whole new perspective. Try and use 'em.

Just so's you know that Santa isn't always jolly; I have a public image to keep up, even when shrieking rugrats are peeing all over me. But the public ain't here now; it's just you and me, Chief/Mayor. So permit me to tell you, in all genuine and season's greetings, heart-felt candor, that you, Chief/Mayor, suck ass.

Merry Christmas, outhouse breath.

"Jolly" Ol' St. Nick (and other "nick" names...*snort*)

If a reply is received, you'll be the third to know. If, that is, my anal-retentive elfen secretary doesn't have an apoplexy trying to decipher it, first.

*Chief-Mayor Tony did reply...but not coherently: I got a return email with no text. Left the poor buggers speechless, I did*

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Rumor of Kansas

*Author's note: this entry was originally released 9-2-05; updated 7-31-08; and re-released in April '10, in keeping with the travel humor theme of late*

In a recent post I read, a blogger was in the midst of waxing most favorably about his driving visit to Colorado. Like most good things, it -- the visit -- had to come to an end. Faced with a return to Texas, he opted for the eastern route out of Colorado, and faced that dire dearth of splendor to the east, what he referred to as "the visual equivalent of wiping ones' eyes with sandpaper".


Being a native Iowan, I am accustomed to jokes about my particular state of origin (note: Stephen King's Children of the Corn used Nebraska as a backdrop, not Iowa..nyah nyah). Being a transplant in Colorado, I am accustomed to hearing and making jokes about transplanted Texans (about hunting), Califorlornians (about them having screwed up their state, and now seeking to do the same here), Floridians (about their winter driving and ballot-reading inacumen). And of course, who hasn't heard a joke or two about the great waste of the northern plains, North Dakota, rumored to be one of the last places on Earth that the Ice Age revisits yearly, along with my ex-fiancee, but I digress.

For anyone who's driven across Kansas by accident or design, and survived the sheer boredom of it, well..."ack" doesn't begin to describe it. Travelling east, you leave the splendor of Colorado's mountains and foothills, and emerge into a vast...flatness, relieved only by crossing the border into Misery.

Freudian slip...Missouri.

In Colorado, on a clear day you can climb to the top of a mountain, and see for miles in every direction. In Kansas, you can do the same thing using an 8' step ladder.

But the thrill just ain't there.

I once mused that so much of eastern Colorado, from Limon to the border, looked so much like Kansas -- flat and desolate -- that Colorado would eventually declare, fight, and win a border war with Kansas. Then, flush with victory, Colorado would force Kansas to take everything east of Limon.

Misery -- not the state -- loves company.

But I would be most remiss if I didn't acknowledge that there is another side to Kansas, and many a staunch ally who stand up vociferously for that side of Kansas. To them, Kansas is the I-ching. Kansas is an oracle. A temple, a shrine. Indeed, a diety. Kansas is the answer to all things mesocyclonic. Kansas is a paragon of EF* virtue. Kansas isn't Iowa...but it, to this sect of dedicated, devoted, science and meteorologically-oriented, mild-to-madly-insane lunatics, is Heaven.

Storm chasers.

To them, beholding mesocyclonic supercells on the vast plains of Kansas, is akin to a deeply poignant, intensely moving religious experience. To drive through horizontal rain, and suffer the slings and dings and pits of golf ball/worse size hail, to get that perfect image of the swirling leviathan from the 'bear cage', is akin to a cigarette after perfect sex, or a score in a karaoke bar that doesn't lose it's luster outside of barlighting.

Well, sorta.

For them, the miles tallied in Kansas are a badge of honor. It is the Yellow Brick Road of meteorologic reality. And in the midst of what they seek, it's not unlike the interior of a Walmart the day after Xmas. Or Katrina.

And just so's you know, I do know a person or two who resides in Kansas, and do so by choice. Yeah, they do seem pretty sane, and neither one's a storm chaser. And they proudly love it.

It's one of the many rumors that is Kansas.

* Enhanced Fujita Scale, a system of rating the energy/destructive power of a tornado

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Tale of Three States

Time to make more 'friends' on the state-by-state fauxtravelogue, which seems to be becoming pseudopopular here, what with all the commenters asking me to make fun of their state.
I would be a less than gracious blog host, were I to disappoint.
In the mid-late 80s -- I want to say late spring of '88, and on the eve of another presidential election cycle, which will become relevant here in a bit -- I was tasked to go on a field assignment with my corporate security mentor (hereafter known as Bill), back in my big league corporate days. The assignment: a workman's comp investigation/surveillance of an employee, possibly milking the system.
It seemed simple enough: fly into Boston's Logan Airport, and drive to bucolic Nashua, New Hampshire. Both places I had never before been, though my ancestors had a passing familiarity with both Boston and just down the coast therefrom. More on that in a bit.
The flight proved relatively uneventful, other than me losing a crapload of quarter-a-game hands of "knock" gin to Bill. After landing, luggaging and getting the rental car, I was assigned the dubious task of "navigator", as we departed Logan. Using a trusty rental car map, I deduced -- as did Bill -- that we would pass through a tunnel to exit the island that Logan was on; alas, the tunnel was unavailable due to the time of day (afternoon rush hour), so we saw a sign that said, in essence, "drive your cahr this way", and off we were, in the direction of what we believed was Nashua, New Hampshire.
I wasn't able to form much of an opinion of Boston at this time, as I alternated my comparing the map with assorted landmarks, since there appeared to be an amusing lack of highway signage, once we were clear of Boston proper. All I knew was, as time went on, and highway signage was scanty at best, I kept looking at my watch, reckoning that at any moment, the skyline of Nashua would make itself apparent.
Almost three hours later, it still wasn't happening. Bill was not the least non-plussed with my apparent lack of navigational skills; his many years of travel wisdom calmly informed me that "you're only lost if you care where you're at". He apparently didn't, so I quit sweating it too, though I felt obligated to find a landmark somewhere, so as to tell me where we didn't care we were.
And shortly thereafter, I got it: as we entered the quaint little burg of Salem, Massachusetts.
Besides being a bit off-course, we were now entering the reputed land of witchcraft and a whole host of nasty supernatural things, at least according to books and movies I'd had occasion to read and watch. As it was getting dark, and we were just now realizing that we were heading northeast instead of northwest, Bill pulled up along side of a local denizen on what I took to be a bicycle, and I started to ask her for directions out of Salem.
The cackling laugh that resulted from hearing our plight was followed by a long, bony finger, gesturing in the direction of an intersection ahead. When I politely went to thank her, I made something of a mistake in throwing in "you're a godsend".
Her eyes flashed, thunder roared from a clear night sky, and suddenly, our four-door, full-size Ford, became a two-door Yugo.
"Nice going" Bill muttered, the steering wheel dragging across his ample stomach, his 6' 3" frame sandwiched into a space meant for someone a third less calories than him.
"Mwhpfhfpth" was my reply, with my knees up my nose.
Fortunately, a few miles northwest of Salem, the 'spell' -- or whatever it was -- wore off, and we managed to make Nashua within 90 or so minutes.
I found New Hampshire to New Hampshire. It really didn't look much different at that time, than say, Iowa did, save for the lack of corn and soybean fields, and the fact that you could practically spit from one side of it to the other. In fact, I found New Hampshire to be...really small. Rustic. Serene. Y'know...boring as hell. But the Holiday Inn was nice, and no cackling wenches appeared to be turning people or cars into assorted things of dubious antecedence, so I didn't mind this kind of boring.
The next day, and after successfully surveilling our subject of review, we returned to the hotel, only to find that, there on TV, was our hotel. Seemed that there was a politician from another state, who was using the Holiday Inn in Nashua, to announce his intention to run for the his party's nod as candidate for President of the United States. Neither I nor Bill recalled having ever heard of the guy, but while Bill watched on TV, I went to the patio and looked down into the courtyard; and there he was, three floors down and about two rooms over, sitting outside in the grass of the courtyard, before a live TV camera.
Even then, he had bad hair.
After he finished his announcement, he got up and wandered beneath us, glancing up as I stood gawking over the railing. Making eye contact -- even though I was then registered in the opposing political party to him -- I felt obligated to say something conversationally polite:
Me: Nice speech.
Him: *Grin and one thumb up*
Me: But get a better toupee...
Okay, I really didn't say that last part. At any rate, I had seed the future, but not the one I thought. Not that he'd win the presidency in that particular election cycle; but a bit over 20 years later, he'd be one step short of it.
Joe Freaking Biden.
After another day of surveillance of our subject of review -- and Bill's determination that the subject in question was not what he'd been alleged to be -- we wrapped it up, and bid adieu to quiet, bucolic, rustic, serene, miniscule, boring New Hampshire.

Having dispensed with our adequately sucky rental car map -- I bought a Rand-McNally one -- we were in no time in the state of Maine. Literally, since one could almost miss New Hampshire by turning sideways, and to make a wrong turn anywhere in New Hampshire, you'd wind up in another state.
At any rate, we didn't spend much time in the state of Maine, other than for Bill to point out Portsmouth Naval prison (he was active USNR at the time), and stop by the USS Skate, on display in the general area, where local moose would occasion by and try to hump it. A early nuclear sub that had set undersea speed records (which, according on on-site literature, were still classified), I was amazed at how anyone of my size (6' 2", 195 lbs) managed to do months at a time at sea in such a vessel. Especially one so hornicated on by local moose.
Other than a prison, a tourist trap grounded sub and amorous moose, that was the extent of my experience with Maine. I'm sure it's a nice place, with overly-friendly moose. More, I can't say, for once southbound, we were almost immediately back in Massachusetts, New Hampshirally speaking.
Now, Massachusetts and I had something in common, at least ancestorily. At least four direct family descendants of mine had landed at Plymouth Rock on the Mayflower, before some of them went onto form a moving company. While two of them didn't weather the first winter (which had nothing to do with any of the Kennedys driving off bridges), the daughter -- Priscilla Mullins -- did. She went onto marry John Alden, have 10 kids -- guess they didn't have much else to do at the time -- and put down roots to one helluva big family tree.
Of which I'm a wee twig.
At any rate, I found coastal Massachusetts to be...rocky. But no amorous Bullwinkles to be seen.
And folks thereabouts tended to talk kinda funny: "yahr" instead of "yes", "cahr" instead of "car", "curhb" instead of "curb", etc. And one local told me that I talked funny.
I would also, that evening, become something of an annoyance to a nearby couple in this seaside seafood emporium, as I took on my first cooked lobster...and almost lost, spraying them and myself in the process. Bill and my waitress were amused; the couple, not so much (that story's told in a previous entry).
Then, after a night in a seaside motel that was clearly designed for the cast of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz (my feet hung almost 6 inches off the end of the bed, and the bathroom had been salvaged from a Boeing 737), it was back into Boston, with a little time to kill before our return flight. So we meandered over first to where the USS Constitution was berthed (and nearby where this very old photo of yours truly was taken), then to the old North Church -- surrounded by high rises, and no longer with the field of vision to signal from the tower, one by land, two by sea, three by migratory amorous moose -- and finally around Paul Revere's house (some of the dung his horse dropped during his famous ride, was for sale in the gift shop, freeze-dried).
Despite all the history round about, the tone of things was different: no clop-clop of horses, no tramp of red-clad British soldiers, no patriots making impassioned speeches in the square, about giving liberty or death; just hordes of pedestrians, "cahr" horns, and maniacal taxi cabs, driven by folks with Middle Eastern and Indian accents, though some of them had mastered "yahr", so as to blend in with the local flavor.
As we boarded the plane to return to Denver -- a roomy DC-10, and a pub flight to boot -- I made it a point to remember to NOT, after politely asking for something from a Massachusetts-based flight attendant, throw in "you're a godsend".
I didn't want to take a chance on repeating the Salem maneuver. A DC-10 was infinitely preferable to a suddenly finding myself flying home on a broom, backward.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Product Review, Eh?

I reckon that not everyone who reads this blog, bothers to comment. And that's fine. As my great grand-daddy might have never said, "if ya can't say somethin' nice, say it in Azerbaijani, so no one will unnerstand a word of it". Which may or may not prove germaine to what follows.
So...regular readers h'yar know that, up to now, the only product reviews/endorsements I have ever done, were my tongue-in-cheek endorsements of the truly 'unique' products by Bonco, UnInc, like the Bug-a-BOOM and PHFFT! Asure. But reading them, you simply had to know that I was yanking your chain, right?
Well...perhaps one of my lurkers out there didn't do a whole lot of 'targeted research' of this blog, before sending me what they dun sent me...'cuz I got me an out-of-nowhere request to do a product endorsement, and for something I reckon most of you will view as I did.
But first, I'll let you read it h'yar yourself:
Dear Skunkfeathers,
May I ask you to write a review for Jet Email Extractor 6.5.216294 tool on your blog? I will give you a registration code in exchange. Here is the link: (which, if any of y'all want it, feel free to ask)
You may place this link alone without description or on existing post or create new post with a short description (language and text is up to you).
*TOING*...she don' know me vewy well, do she? And she/he/bot goes on:
Here is brief information about our Product:
(company name changed for heck of it) Dagnabbit Jet Email Extractor is a good helper in conducting email marketing campaigns (aka, sending out a sh**load of spam). Every email campaign requires large lists of email addresses. It was designed to collect targeted email addresses of potential customers to boost your sales and revenue (and to send out a sh**load of spam). Dagnabbit Jet Email Extractor will build huge targeted mailing lists. It connects to lots of news servers and retrieves email addresses from the headers of each and every article in chosen target-related newsgroups.
- captures email addresses at very high speed. Multithreaded. Average speed is 100,000 emails per hour (and that makes for a sh**load of spam).
- extracts not only user's email but also name. Your direct marketing will be personalized ("Hi, (your name), you have been personally SPAMMED!"). Adding personalized content to email marketing messages is a great benefit (to my SPAM folder)
- automatically removes duplicate and incorrect email addresses (but doesn't, I note, remove itself from pestering MY email)
- extraction is strongly targeted to specific audience (rather like an enema)
- exports the results into text file (mailing list)
For more information please visit (the link)
Herzits Stubramowitz (name changed to protect endangered sea-going email spam during spawning season)
Tech Writer
Dagnabbit, Inc (not their real name, but eh...)
So, she wants me to review and endorse a product that promotes email spam. Ain't that quaint?
Of course, I'm a bit of a stick in the mud on stuff like this; I don't arbitrarily click on suggested links from unsolicited emails. BUT, I do frequently pull my stick from the mud and poke it in the ear of the sender, to see what kind of response I might get. Thus, I did respond to this one:
Dear Extractor's Digest Ma'am,
After reading your offer, I can't hep but wonder: have you ever read my blog? Just wonder' h'yar.
While I awaited an answer to that simple question (which I never got), I decided to provide more than the emailer counted on, and approach this in a manure that readers here will recognize from the Bonco product line:
Introducing, by DAGNABBIT Inc. Thingamabobs, The Pharting Jet Email Extractor & Enema Spammer!
Face it, folks: simply put, you simply do NOT GET ENOUGH EMAIL SPAM! You know you don't. And deep down, you know YOU WANT IT! Oh, go ahead...admit it. YOU..WANT..IT! Not only that, but you WANT TO MAKE MORE OF IT! You want to JOIN the EMAIL SPAM REVOLUTION!
Well, the folks at DAGNABBIT, Inc., -- in absolutely no cooperation with the mad scientists here from Bonco, UnInc, who think they molest woodpeckers -- have created a program that will allow you to TOTALLY INUNDATE your friends, family, extended friends, soon-to-be enemies....just friggin' EVERYONE...with SPAM!
And with their Email Marketing/Harassment CamPAIgNs tool, the Jet Email Extractor, you can collect thousands upon millions upon billions upon trillions of email addresses, personalize them, and then INUNDATE THE WHOLE FRIGGIN' LOT WITH PERSONALIZED SPAM!
Yes, you read that right: SPAM FOR EVERYONE! Let no emailer be LEFT BEHIND!
Not only will this program scan every last source for any and ALL email addresses, it will allow you to TERRORIZE THE EMAIL WORLD WITH A VERITABLE BARRAGE OF TARGETED, PERSONALIZED MARKETING EMAILS! Now you too, can behave like a Congress-like contemptuous mailbot, and send emails to known and unknown persons in all the far corners of the email Earth, at a rate of 100,000 emails per hour!
With this handy-dandy program to overload servers and spam filters, the Jet Email Extractor makes sensational julienne fries, shakes, and other healthy snacks*!
With the easily-deployed program to rape and pillage email addresses, the Jet Email Extractor gets rid of vericose veins, hangnails, the smell from flatulence, ear wax, post-rectal drip, and those annoying gnats that gather in clouds around you during the spring and summer months**!
Once you have downloaded and installed the Jet Email Extractor, turning your computer into the SPAMMER even rabbits can't multiply like, you'll find you can repair any tear, clean any stain from any fabric, leap tall buildings in a single sentence, fix the economy, make the world love us, and invite any pesky asteroids to renovate Newark, NJ or Jackson, MS***!
* Claim not necessarily made by the real company nor evaluated by the FSA (Federal Spamming Agency, an offshoot of the AlGore Internet & Global Climate Scam Initiative)
** Claim not necessarily made by the real company nor evaluated by the FDA, AMA, Red Cross, Unicef, ASPCA, AARP, GreenPeace, or any other non-sequitur organizations with acronyms
*** Claim not necessarily made by the real company nor evaluated by FEMA, though a local Jackson area, badly-written newspaper -- knowd here for it's sandpounding stupidity, as the Cladipus Licker -- is highly suggestive of the desirability of an asteroid strike thereat, so the place can be fixed from what they've screwed up from the basement on up, so's they can start over and try to get it right next time around...
**** DISCLAIMER: the company that made the request of this blogger to perform this h'yar product review and endorsement, will probably not make that mistake again. All claims herein regarding the product being reviewed and endorsed, were written at 2:30am in the morning, prior to the ingestion of caffeine, and are probably not supposed to be taken seriously as part of a daily regimen of diet, exercise and bowel movements. Email spam blows goats -- again, not evaluated by the Agriculture Department, FCC or Goat Herders of America. The company promoting this email abomination,, Matthew Lesko or the estate of Billy Mays, are not likely to endorse some/any/all that was written herein, since the latter two would have made a far different presentation in style and format, one of which while wearing the most ridiculous of attire. Bonco, UnInc, attempted to talk this blogger out of doing this product review and endorsement, citing their "exclusivity clause contract" for me to review and endorse strictly Bonco, UnInc. products. I told them to get blood out of a pet rock and sue Seymour, who's not currently available, and could care less about litigation. Results may vary. This offer void where someone can actually understand Azerbaijani. Skunkfeathers and Bonco, UnInc., are indemnified and held harmless, which at my age, is becoming moreso by the year on the latter part, to the female of the species, but I digress at every opportunity.
Yawp...I don' 'spect to have companies flocking to my blog for product reviews and endorsements anytime soon. I reckon I could guaran-dang-tee that, too, if I required them to write their proposals in Azerbaijani.
Which I can't read, either.

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Monday, April 12, 2010

More Politically (In)Correct Travel Humor

Here, I get to comment on two states -- or three, or four, or heck, even five -- in one entry, and perhaps piss off not just one aggrieved commenter in one state, but potentially a whole bunch, in five.
And it's Andy's fault, sort of. He wanted me to make fun of Louisiana.
Having been there, I can. And more.
Back in my corporate cog days, I received a rather unusual assignment: travel to West Monroe, Louisiana.
At the time, I was an investigator in a Fortune 500 company, based in Denver, CO. So what was I being sent to a major paper products manufacturer facility to do? Surveillance? Internal investigation? A facility risk assessement? A pre-labor dispute preparedness survey?
Nawp...I was being sent to pick up a truck. Phffft. Perhaps I'd figure out later whose Wheaties I'd apparently peed in.
Now, I'd been to Louisiana before: two trips to New Orleans, well before Katrina rearranged portions of it, with a 3rd trip in the near future. But West Monroe (pronounced Munn-row, by some of the locals), was another critter entirely. To get there, I was sent to Dallas via Delta Airlines; and from Dallas, aboard one of those pathetic 'vomit comets', into Shreveport, LA. From Shreveport, I drove on to the land of lots of trees, humidity, possum-paved highways, grits....and huge friggin' palmetto bugs.
We Yankees call the danged things roaches, but I digress.
Not that my stay in West "Munn-row" was totally unpleasant; our local corporate security rep was very helpful by day, and a gracious host one evening, especially after his 4th or 5th bloody mary, interspersed with scotch on the rocks, which helped him break into a bad Irish brogue to bellow a version of Danny Boy neither I nor his wife had heard before, or since (speaking for me, anyway).
That next morning, sporting a tad of a hangover myself, I stepped out of my hotel room in downtown West Munn-row, only to see my copy of USA Today trying to walk off, apparently on its own. Suspecting a bloody mary hallucination, I reached for it, only to become engaged in a bug-o'-war with the biggest friggin' roach (aka, palmetto bug) I'd ever seen (I kid you not, it was the size of a starling). A bug-o'-war which I won, at the cost of a paper that was no longer readable, dripping with palmetto guts after a prolonged paper-in-hand-to-antenna struggle.
A nearby maid just shook her head and muttered something about "danged Yankees". I got to hear that term a lot down yonder.
On the day it was time to pick up the truck -- a brand new 1990 Ford F-350 crewcab, which was not what apparently had been ordered -- my cohort recommended that, instead of heading back west on I-20, I should go north, through the "splendor" (his words) of Arkansas. I'd made the mistake at some point the previous evening mentioning that I'd never been to Arkansas.
Dang it.
I don't remember all of the route I took north out of West Munn-row, but as I crossed the line into Arkansas on a backroad, I knowd I was in for the longest non-stop drive possible, starting with the sign: Welcome to Arkansas, Unless Yore A Yankee, Then Just Mosey Right On Outta H'yar.
I figured I could find solace on the radio, but not in this part of the state. I found two radio stations I could pick up thereabouts: one was broadcasting a fire-n-brimstone southern Baptist revivial, interspersed with some Ray Steven's ditty about a squirrel loose in a Mississppi church.
The other wasn't: it was being officiated by a dj who, doing his best Northern Exposure dj imitation, was philosophizing about the movie Deliverance, and playing the Duelling Banjos theme song over...and over...and over...and between times, speculating on if them hippy-lookin' Brits (I suspect he meant the Beatles) were behind the demonic reversal of the Dueling Banjos theme, and how it was affecting hootch prices and making goats less amorous, or some such a thing.
So I re-reckoned I could take some solace in the "splendor" of the rural scenery as I rolled along, only to note that even the birds had straw in their beaks, straw hats on their haids, and waved muskets at bypassing "city fellers" or the neighboring clan they were apparently feuding with, ala the Hatowls & McCrows.
Charlie Daniels rerouted his trip via Omaha. I was quickly figurin' out why.
But I did eventually hit a north-by-northwest-bearing interstate highway, and started seeing a bit more of the splendor of Arkansas: rolling hills, trees, fewer outhouses, and no 400 lb denim overalled toothless denizens, pointin' flintlocks at the "danged Yankee". I even saw a billboard, advertising a tourist trap destination: Come See The Biggest Dung Pile Outside a DC, Y'all!
I don't remember the town, but at least they were wise enough to know they could NEVER stack it as high as DC, then or ever.
As I got closer to Little Rock, I knew I'd returned to something akin to civilization, as I was able to stop at a gas station that didn't have mule-powered gas pumps. And I even saw a modern Arkansas State Police vehicle, complete with a trooper out recruiting dates/cigar humidors for the then-governor.
The significance of this would register a few years' hence.
Not long after then at any rate -- having entered the state at 55 mph, and exiting at 80 -- I was back on familiar ground: I was in Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. And not much else goes on, save for an occasional tornado, rearranging terra firma with no particular design idea in mind during the process.
Evening time was setting in as I saw the familiar welcome sign to Kansas (Kansas Welcomes You; Yawning Prohibited), and pushed on, listening on the radio to a rather poignant missive about the pros and cons of wheat cross-pollinating with sun flowers, and how it was a harbinger of the agronomist's Apocalypse; this on a station that clearly wished it had something else to broadcast about, like tornado warnings or hog price reports (it did those "on the tens").
Sadly, the weather wasn't prime for tornadoes, and what with night fall, it would have been wasted, so I just drove on, enjoying being relieved of the scenery Kansas has to offer, by the cover of night.
Technically, the equivalent of reducing barlighting at closing time to pitch black.
After a short nap on the outskirts of Goodland, Kansas, I saw Colorado at sunrise. It was splendid (other than when I thought someone had moved the sign, for about the first 100 miles, back into Kansas). I knew I was home when I could finally see the mountains to the west, as I sat mired in a multi-mile traffic jam during the latter stages of morning rush hour in Denver. The horns, the gestures, the sirens, the xchanges of road rage gunfire and smell of pollutants, let me know I was back from where I'd begun.
Dang it.
DISCLAIMER:,, and a crapload of other .coms, may or may not necessarily endorse, agree with, or understand one syntax error of what just transcribed on your computer screen via h'yar. Which is probably fine, I think. All pokes and jibes at any and all locations are meant in jest and good humor, except maybe the last part, or perhaps parts of the middle part, or maybe even some other part. BUT be that as it may, the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of a Geico Caveman, Betty White, Tiger Woods' putter, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Cheech 'n Chong, or The Carol Burnett Show on YouTube. And where the opinions expressed herein, tend to clash with those of readers who didn't find anything pleasing herein, I regret that I must tell you I don't care ;-)

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Friday, April 9, 2010

The "INCOMING!" of Spring

An almost summer-like day at the end of March, had me suit up and go find out how much out of shape I was, as I climbed Green Mountain Park's trails for the first time in '10.
Answer: I could be a gold medalist in the 1000 Meter Obscene Phonecall Olympic competition.
One concerned pair of young female joggers stopped and asked me if I was alright during one of my "find and suck in every last particle of oxygen nearby" breaks; my between-gasps " left side still works, too" convinced them they could move on, perhaps a little faster than they'd come upon me, but I digress.
Green Mountain Park (aka, William Frederick Hayden Park) has provided me with writing material before: two encounters with rattlesnakes (in '07), and a mythical tangle with a raging Girl Scout troop selling cookies at oxygen-point (in '06 or '07, I forget). But I missed it's latest offering, until the end of my first excursion of 2010 thereon.
A little background: apparently, back in the 1930s, Green Mountain was pretty "out there" and desolate, and with the proximity of Camp George West in Golden (or whatever it was called then, as a military facility; now, a law enforcement training academy), Green Mountain was perfect for the denizens of then whatever Camp George West was called.
To shoot at.
What type(s) of military ordnance was expended into the north face of Green Mountain, wasn't revealed in a story in several local publications earlier this month. But in the wake of a wild fire that consumed much of the natural cover on the north side, in the summer of 2008, hikers have begun discovering remnants of expended ordnance.
There are concerns that not everything shot into Green Mountain back then, performed as designed. Some of it might still be lying around or partially embedded in the mountain. Live.
This apparently prompted the posting of a new notice at different entrances to the park. A notice I missed when I got there, but it caught my eye as I was preparing to leave. I read it. I read it again.
And I heard that tell-tale *TOING* that gets me in trouble hereabouts.
Now, I don't think any single individual from the City and County of Lakewood's Parks & Recreation Department, is a regular reader here. So I will excuse them for not consulting with me BEFORE they had someone draft and post the memo that now adorns probably every entrance to the park.
Instead, I will post now, for my regular readers, the memo that the City posted, in its mundane entirety; and in italics, what I would have graciously added, had they bothered to consult me, first:
Pieces of spent artillery shells from prior to WW II have been found in the park, and this indicates a potential that unexploded pieces of artillery could be in the park and may explain why you occasionally see a deer, coyote, rabbit or snake, go flying to pieces in the area off the beaten path, accompanied by a dull *BOOM* or *POOF*.
For Your Safety:
- Recognize that old artillery shells or military munitions could resemble a baseball, a pointed pipe, a soda can, a muffler, an oversized bullet, a flare cartridge, a pie plate, a metallic tear-drop with fins from a foot long to the size of a human, a pineapple, a wrecked UFO, an R2D2 that you hope isn't whistling or chirping when you find it, or other metallic objects.
- Retreat from the item - do not touch, move or disturb the item, taking care to note that to move the item, one has to touch it, and since we already told you NOT to touch it, moving it would be demonstrating that you're either illiterate or a moron. Immediately leave the area following the same path you entered area. Do not try to compassionately herd local wildlife away from scene; you'll only wind up herding them into it, unless you're hungry and are a member of the other PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals).
- Report the item by calling 911 and resist the urge to blame George Dubya Bush, who wasn't president in the late 1930s, for you ill-educated, military-hating idiots out there.
Let's all do our part to keep our park pristine, and to avoid blowing the north side of it all to Hell or Broomfield**. Thank you.
I am sure that if anyone from the City of Lakewood gets around to reading this, they will hasten to consult with me in the future on further such memos*.
* to quote one of my somewhat regular readers, *snerx*
** a fair piece north of h'yar, but might be in reach, depending on what ain't blowd up over there just yet...

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Time...

*From the 2006 archives, and third in the Kansas Has Company-Politically Correct Travel Humor series...*'s now "another time". For those of you hypersensitive to gender issues, you may want to skip to the next blog entry. Or re-read the previous one (Kansas Has Company, from October 2006). *Warning: stereotypical male opinions/observations upcoming*

There we were: two brothers, at a Travelodge in Mesa, Arizona, down for a little family unfun of the abruptly deceased kind. It was the early evening of that first night, just before sundown that I first noticed her, walking with slow deliberation across the parking lot toward her room, about a dozen doors or so away from us. At a distance, she was tall, in the 5' 10" or so range; she appeared to be rather lean and sleek, moving with something of a grace that one might expect to see of a woman in elegant attire, or finely honed like an athlete. She was blonde. At a distance, I couldn't judge her age with any accuracy, but guessed anyway that she was 30-ish. She was clad in very short shorts, and a t-shirt that didn't cover her midriff. And she had that walk: the walk so demonstrated by Jessica Rabbit in that dimly-lit bar lounge.

No doubt about it: she caught my attention.

Later that evening, while little brother was trying to get a wireless signal for his laptop computer (the hotel said it had such, and it did: but only if you opened the door of the room, and sat in the doorway to "get" it), sitting next to the open door, he saw her for the first time, too: and did one of those classic head-jerking double takes. Yep: at a distance, not bad.

We're guys; that's the way it is, until we're indifferent or dead.

The next morning, while awaiting Maricopa County deputies with whom we had to meet, I saw her again, walking from her room to the office; during that slow, purposeful walk of hers, she turned and glanced my way, and nodded her head.

Little Bro: Looks like you might have made a new friend here.
Me: So it do.

Perhaps just male-ego illusions...

After a busy day of dealing with the things necessary for the trip and getting dinner in another seemingly over 60s eatery, the sun was coursing it's way below the roofline of the hotel; in the dying embers of daylight, it was still quite warm, but calm and pleasant outside. So we grabbed a couple beverages (lightweights we are, they were Cokes from the vending machine at the office), and 'parked it' outside of the room, shooting the breeze and enjoying the relative peace of the evening.

Then she came out of her room: once again, clad in those very short shorts, and midriff-baring t-shirt. She was apparently in the process of cleaning the air filter on the AC unit for her room; she glanced our way a few times, and threw a couple comments in our direction that neither of us could discern.

Okay, we're guys; we stared back, particularly when she bent over at the waist to do something, facing away from us. After finishing up whatever it was she was doing, she -- with a bottle of Corona Beer in hand -- leisurely sashayed to the dumpster near the street, and then walked back, and chose then to stop and visit with us.

Still cloaked in the lengthening shadows of night, she looked, well...interesting. Then she walked up to within three feet of moi, and the soft lights escaping our open hotel room splashed across her features like a lighthouse, revealing...a rock-strewn, hostile shoreline. And right there, up close and personal, we saw her in all her...self.

Recall if you will or can, the visual reaction of one of the members of The Dirty Dozen as the seven prostitutes entered their barracks, and one of them was exceptionally....rough-faced (he stared, shook his head and went "phwhew").

That was the reaction both of us suppressed, as we entered into conversation with the body of a woman, with the face of the late Sam Kinison:

Her: (in a voice that left us in some doubt as to the gender we were speaking to) How're you boys doing tonight?
Us (more or less): Uh, fine. And you?
Her: Oh, just great! I'm on my third Corona *takes a long pull at it*...ahhhh, I just love a good cold one on a hot night, don't you?
Me: Never had the stuff, myself...I prefer Sam Adams...
Lil' Bro: Stuff's terrible. Makes me see things. (Lil' Bro was having more subtle fun with this than I was, and made it rough for me to keep a straight face).
Her: Really? Too's really good stuff *takes another long pull on the bottle in what we took to be a suggestive manner*

She introduced herself as "Karley", we in turn, introduced ourselves as ourselves.

Her: Where you from?
Me: Colorado. And you?
Her: Oh, I'm a native to this area.
Lil' Bro: Do you still live here (meaning in the area, since she was staying in the hotel)?
Her: Oh yes..I've been living in this hotel now for about three months...are you two just visiting, or on business?
Me: Just visiting for business, so to speak.
Her: And what do you visitors do?
Me: Well, he (Lil' Bro) is a rocket scientist type who works on quantum thingees or some such..
(she giggles in a gravelly sort of way)
Me: and I work in a casino.
Her: Really? Bet you know how to play the spreads, don't you?


(unable to resist)
Me: So what do you do for a living, Karley?
Her: Ohhhhh, I....I work in personal customer service.

(Lil' Bro and I exchanged brief *TOING* glances while she took another pull on the bottle)

(unable to resist again)
Me: Personal customer service, eh? I get the sense you enjoy what you do.
Her (with another giggle sorta): Well, it pays my bills...and depending on the client, it can be quite fun.
Lil' Bro: I'm sure it has it's sucky moments, too (this one nearly ruined my weakening facade).
Her: *Taking a long last, draining pull on the beer, and tossing her head in a "this way, boys" manner* Well, you two, if you get bored or want some fun, drop by my room, anytime.


And away she Jessica Rabbit-walked. Almost seemingly even slower, so we'd get the full effect.

We sat there for a minute, exchanging glances like *are you number two-ing me?*, then meandered back into our room, holding the laughter until the door was shut.

From that moment on -- and here, my conservative mean-spiritedness comes through like a belch in church -- as the story of the trip was/is told, she became known as Barlight Betty, the Travelodge Trollop.


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Monday, April 5, 2010

Politically Correct Travel Humor

*This is Part II of How to Sometimes Piss Off A Reader By (in their mind) Unfairly Dissing Their State With Tongue-In-Cheek...from 2006*

I drove through New Mexico and it was just stunningly splendiferous! I have never seen anything quite like it, ever in my middle-aged life! Oh, the splendor! Oh, the grandeur! Oh, the endless miles of things that absolutely NO ONE ELSE HAS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD! How could ANYONE say ANYWHERE was BETTER than NEW MEXICO?

In the previous blog entry, a reader took offense to my tongue-in-cheek anecdote of travelling across New Mexico, enroute to it's somewhat look-alike neighbor, Arizona. Among his other emotional observations was that my seeing eye dog must have been asleep, I'm full of sh**, and he even managed to throw a f**k in there (to borrow his colorful metaphors, which are not standard fare in this blog; unlike some individuals, I don't need to employ the simple four letter words to make a point).

Guess that person told me, eh? What he told me, he didn't intend to. I'll return to that momentarily.

But I must acknowledge that the person did have one point that was relevant and, for a critique, carried merit: I misspelled Albuquerque originally. That much has been corrected. Thanks for that correction.

If you've read much of this blog, I tend to make fun of things. Frequently, the target of my humor -- satire, parody or sarcasm -- is me. I do things that, in the light of having survived it, it's funny. And I have no problem poking fun at myself. Hard for anyone to be offended when it's me I'm having a laugh over.

As for places, I've made fun of Kansas: I've often suggested that Colorado start a border war with Kansas, and after we've soundly thumped them, make them take all of Colorado from Limon, east. 'Cuz it all looks the same. I've also poked fun at North Dakota; my very capable chiropractor is from North Dakota, and is a doll to boot. I let her read it; she laughed, and didn't bend me into a pretzel thereafter.

I've poked fun at the Left Coast (aka, Califorlornia); I've poked fun at Florida. I've poked fun at my own home state of Iowa (I've heard jokes about the place for years, and find some pretty inventive humor in some of them). Ah writs like ah dun think them thar rednecks writs, 'speshully when ah'm funnin' them thar Nigerian scamster fellers hyar.

Yep, I do that.

At the same time, I've travelled through 38 of our 50 states thus far: and no matter what the state, there is always something good I can write about it. Each state is unique; each state has history, geography and culture unique to it. That's a simple statement of fact.
At the same time, any number of persons of varied antecedence, erudication and ability with prose, can find something in the most splendiferous place, to poke fun at.

If I'm of a mind, such humor will be written at such a time and place as I wish to. It just so happened that in the previous case of New Mexico, I found the good thing was leaving it behind...*oh dang, I dun it agin*. Hate when that happens.

Since my reason for traversing New Mexico was for attending to a family loss, and not for seeking the scenery I'm sure is there in abundance, that didn't factor heavily in the previous blog entry. The fact that a map would lead me to such stuff, and I wasn't there for that, obviously went over the head of this emotional, in-need-of-Valium critic.

Now, what this complainer to my one-time view of New Mexico has decided is, in essence, I'm full of ca-ca. Tell ya what, fella: sometimes, I am. Deliberately. It's called humor. It might not fit your definition of the word; but perhaps you find humor in something that someone else objects to. From the tone of your pithy comments, I'd reckon so, even though I have to concede not knowing you, any more than your pathetic comments indicate that you know me.

Be that as it may, you can challenge my facts, where/if I've bothered to put up any outside of tongue-in-cheek; you can point out my typos and misspellings, which are pretty hard to deny once they're posted for all to see. You can even challenge what I consider humor, and deign it nothing of the sort. And you'll be right for your little universe. No doubt, you'll even have folks who agree with you.

Humor is subjective, and humor tastes run quite the gamut.

Folks are free to come and go here; those who enjoy what they read, I always welcome their comments when they choose to do so. Those who don't like what they read, are free to not visit again; no point for someone to come in here and constantly grouse about what I chose to write about and/or how. If they choose to comment, it's my choice to let their words stand, or take them down, if I feel they've crossed a line of decorum that I set on my blog, and I won't brook the crossing of. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Heck, I can even live with some emotional criticisms.
But when the critic insists on punctuating it with four-letter words that display an intellectual shallowness of the commenter, as well as dilutes his/her arguments and objections, that generally diminishes their complaint to the point of rating no worthwhile consideration from me.
But in this case, I went and gave him some consideration. In fact, I gave him a whole blog entry's worth of it. Frankly, more than his whiny, foul-mouthed diatribe deserved. I'll even leave up the comments he posted on the previous entry that so bunched his panties in a wad. That way, folks can decide what it is that they consider him, me, and/or both, to be full of.

* the unhappy party fired a couple parting salvos in comments that showed he didn't get it, picked up his marbles and left, and -- *yawn* -- took me off his overflowing blog roll. Boy, that sure hurt...considering I never knowd I was on it, and noticed not a whit of traffic difference, before or after.

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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kansas Has Company

*This originally wasn't intended as a two-part post; it started as a one-time entry, from what started as a very unhappy life event in 2006; but thanks to one very disgruntled reader, it became a two-part entry, and amused at least a sure to read the comments at the end, and Part II will make perfect sense*

The reason for the trip was anything but enjoyable. But the reason made the trip necessary: I had to drive from Denver, Colorado, to Phoenix, Arizona. Cost negated the flying option, leaving me only the choice of route.

SW across Colorado and into Utah, then straight south to Phoenix, or straight south from Denver to I-40, and then straight west into Arizona, traversing a fair portion of New Mexico. Those were the choices.

For expediency, the choice was dictated by interstate highway: I-25 to I-40 to I-17, destination Arizona, by way of New Mexico.

Having now made the drive and returned via the same route, I am armed with an opinion based on personal experience. And personal experience renders an opinion somewhat more viable from one what's been there. And that experienced opinion is thus: Kansas has competition for *yawn*.

Or put another way: driving across New Mexico is like wiping ones' bum with a cactus*. At least, the route I took, anyway.

Less than an hour into New Mexico, I was already bored with the flat, endless vista of not a helluva lot, punctuated by little else, interspersed with several mega herds of antelope. After passing perhaps the fifth such mega herd, I dared to mindlessly venture a set-up line to my equally-smart ass younger brother:

Me (in a mind-numbed state): I wonder what the antelope's main predator is here?
Lil' Bro: Kenworths...


A hundred miles more -- and nothing else added to the scenery -- it was his turn to lazily stumble into a set-up line:

Lil' Bro: What do you think the New Mexico state slogan is?
Me: Roadrunner...the coyote's after you..


Of course, there were a few breaks in the scenery vacuum that defined New Mexico south toward I-40 at Albuquerque. One such was Santa Fe, New Mexico. Which my brother slept through. Waking up 30 minutes later, this brief conversation:

Lil' Bro: Where are we?
Me: About 40 miles south of Santa Fe.
Lil' Bro: Missed it, eh?
Me: Yep.
Lil' Bro: Miss much?
Me: Dunno...I slept through it, too.
Lil' Bro (tilting his head back to resume his nap): Good. Then we both have something to look forward to on the return trip.

We approached Albuquerque with some trepidation, knowing that not only did we need I-40 west there, but from our distant (sorta) childhoods, we recalled the sh...crap that Bugs Bunny used to get into, everytime he missed that infamous "left turn at Albuquerque".

On the trip down, a turn left simply wasn't in the geographical cards, short of circling the town and approaching it from the south. Ideologically, it was even less in the cards, but I digress. Anyway, it worked out okay: no stuttering pigs or maniacal ducks were encountered as a result of turning right at Albuquerque.

Instead, once clear of it, we re-encountered that signature geography that so well defined this part of New Mexico: nuthin'. Save for some curious rock formations that straddled the interstate for a period of some miles: my rocket-scientist brother suspected that they were lava bed formations; my less-geologically-educated self suspected that they were large deposits of petrified dinosaur dung. While Lil' Bro was probably right, we spent a few miles considering the warped notion of some NMDOT engineer -- probably off at a donut shop giggling to him/herself -- over routing I-40 direct through a massive petrified Jurassic outhouse.

And, of course, there were the various and sundry Indian reservations we motored through. Each marked by a sign noting the entry to a particular tribal reservation, a sign noting the exit from a particular tribal reservation, and somewhere there betwixt -- in the middle of absolutely nuthin but petrified lava or dino dung, depending on ones' education level -- were ornate, even lavish, tribal casinos.

We figured that the only craps we needed to chance were the fauxpetrified ones we passed at 80 mph.

As we continued west, a discussion briefly landed on an issue that cuts across national politics and science fiction:

Me: do we pass anywhere near Roswell?
Lil' Bro: *scanning map*...nope. It's behind and well south of us.
Me: So much for alien encounters.
Lil' Bro: There's still Arizona.
Me: Not the same...these here have big heads and eyes, and those ahead have fake IDs.

Seven hours after crossing the Rue-it-con, we exited New Mexico for the distinctly similiar geography of NE Arizona. Relieved as we were, we both knew that, in roughly three or so days, we'd have to do it again. And neither of us fancied another seven hours of wiping our bums with cactus*. So we pondered the alternate route north to Utah, and east to Colorado.

But after three days in Mesa, AZ (a SE 'burb of Phoenix) -- where every restaurant we stopped in, WE were the youngest people present; and on every other block in the town sat a mortuary, as if we needed constant reminders as to why we were making this trip -- we were ready to face about anything other than another meal with false teeth in the mashed potatoes.

Even New Mexico.

And that was how it wound up: weather to the north and a rockslide along western I-70 in Colorado made it necessary to revisit that which we'd just yawned through. Dadgummed Roswellians: they were going to make sure we took that left turn at Albuquerque.

Which we did, without incident or interference from animated animals, aliens of any kind or local/state gendarme, strangely enough (since we passed through at 80 mph enroute, and returned through averaging 85+).

And even with the left turn at Albuquerque, nothing had changed. New Mexico remained exactly as it had probably been for eons: the equivalent of wiping ones' butt with a cactus*.

At least in Kansas, they don't have cactus.

At any rate, that's my fauxtravelogue for New Mexico. Great people, I'm sure. Wonderful place to avoid, I know (at least the route we took).

In a brief aside, I did leave out one aspect of the Mesa experience: the encounter we had with the hooker at the Travelodge we stayed at in Mesa. But that's for another time.


* of course, I was kidding about the wiping the bum with a cactus. But as readers will note, one reader took mighty offense at my poking fun at the state to our south...

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