Monday, February 28, 2011

Another One Bites The Dust

Did you waste the time and effort to watch the "Worst Show On Earth" (otherwise known as the Oscars)?  From all the reviews and rants I have seen, this years show reached new depths of bad. It would seem that a group dedicated to excellence in entertainment should be able to do better.

I have to admit that I did not watch the Oscars. Instead, Molly and I were busy vacuuming and steam cleaning the carpets. Of course, that led to Molly being very unhappy with me. At first only because she got tired of running from the noise of the machines and then because everyplace she went to lay down and rest on the carpet was damp. Pretty much the story of my life - do something good and make the ladies unhappy. {*grin*}

Earlier in the day, Molly was exhibiting her regal prerogatives, scanning for signs of the squirrels she so wants to herd.

She spent hours scanning back and forth, just hoping to spot one of the little miscreants to sprint after. I have to admit that there are times I would happily join her in pursuing them. Just last week the power flashed off as one of them fried themselves on the power lines. You can tell that spring is approaching because the squirrels are coming out to frolic and fry. Goes right along with the tulips emerging and Molly shedding slightly less. All the traditional signs of spring. {*grin*}

Time to get to work (and move all the furniture back to where it belongs).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Long Haul

One of the interesting things about life in a rural area is that you know many people for decades, people who aren't necessarily your friends, but people who have been around forever and are connected to you in odd ways. My mind meandered along that track today when I went to get my hair cut.

Why you may ask? Well, my barber, Don, first opened his shop when he returned from 'Nam in 1972 and I first met him when I returned home from college over Christmas break that year and got a haircut. We ran into each other for the occasional haircut over the coming years until L and I moved back here in 1989. Then it became a regular occurrence. So we have known each other on an acquaintance basis for close to 40 years.

Over the course of that time we have discovered other connections. His late father used to run a pool hall here which was frequented by an uncle of mine (by marriage) who practiced pool at the shark level there for a time. I never put the two together until Dag (his father) died and the obituary mentioned Dag's Pool Hall. By that time my uncle was long gone as well. When I mentioned to Don that I had never mentally connected him with Dag and my uncle, it turned out he had never connected my uncle with me either. Strange how some connections only become apparent later.

Likewise at his 60th birthday party (a small gathering of ~200 people {*grin*}), I discovered that we were for a time related by marriage. The daughter of one of my second cousins who was the in the same class as L and I was married to his younger brother for a time. We only became aware of the connection when she attended the party and we got to talking while waiting for the cake to be cut.

Don also serves as an area Santa Claus every year, both charity and private. He has a classic fire truck bedecked with lights that he drives around delivering cheer and presents, raising money for charity. The Son had many a Christmas where Santa arrived on Christmas Eve with sirens blaring and gifts in tow. Somewhere I even have a picture with mom sitting on Santa's lap from one of those years.

I even sicked the press on Don one election year when the Denver papers were covering the ballot issues out here. He didn't know at first who sent the reporter down to spend the afternoon kvetching with him and his customers, but always swore he'd get even someday. I'm still waiting. {*grin*}

The point of all this meandering is that, one of these days, Don is going to retire and I'll have to find a new barber. That will be a strange adjustment after all these years. No more calling for an appointment and having him recognize my voice. No more asking when I can get in to be made handsome and being told there is no hope for that, but that he might be able to make me look like less of a bum. I'm going to miss that.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hair, Hair, Everywhere

After partying wildly all weekend ... OK, OK going out to dinner with mom and the MIL ... L is back in the mountains celebrating her real birthday (mainly attending the ministry meeting at the prison) and I am back at work. After all, any excitement at this advanced age is hazardous to our health. {*grin*}

Given the reactions to my old joke, you all should be happy that I haven't yet indulged in my penchant for really long and involved shaggy dog jokes. I especially like those that take at least a few minutes in setup and end in a bad pun or other word play. After all, a chorus of groans is so much more rewarding that a few laughs here and there. Especially if it is a multiple part shaggy dog with multiple groans. With that in mind, I hereby relent and present one of my favorite shaggy dogs from the 80's.

A church in the outlands of the old country lost their long term bell ringer. The deacons advertised far and wide to find a replacement, but no one wanted the laborious and unpaid position. Just as the priest was about to abandon all hope of finding a new bell ringer, he answered a knock at the door and saw an armless man standing there.

“I’m here about the bell ringer job,” the man said.

“But,” replied the priest, “How are you going to ring the bell with no arms?”

“Just watch me!” the man said.

The priest and the armless man climbed the staircase up to the bell tower. The armless man ran at the bell and rammed the bell with his forehead, causing the bell to move slightly. The armless man backed up and timing his run carefully, once again ran at the bell and rammed it with his head. The bell swung even further. After several more carefully timed running rams, the bell swung far enough and pealed mightily, releasing a beautiful sound from the bell.

“The job is yours,” said the astonished priest.

"That is fine," said the armless man, "but I must insist on remaining nameless since I have enemies."

"Well, ... I guess that will be OK." said the priest.

Every hour from sunup to sundown, the armless man climbed the staircase in the bell tower and ran repeatedly at the bell until the bell rang. After weeks of on-time beautiful bell ringing, the village returned to normal life. One day, the armless man miss-timed his final run at the bell and missed it entirely. Out of the tower he flew to crash onto the cobblestones below. A crowd quickly gathered and looked accusingly at the priest standing over the body.

Someone yelled, “Does anyone know this man?”

The priest sadly answered, “I don’t know his name, but his face sure rings a bell.”


After a period of several weeks morning, the deacons once again began the process of looking for a bell ringer. Shortly thereafter the priest was awakened from his evening nap by a dull thud at his door. When he opened the door, he saw no one until he looked down and spotted an armless and legless man on the step.

"I am here about the bell ringer position that was held by my armless brother. I was far across country when news reached me and I have been travelling since. Family honor demands that I assume the position held by my late brother." said the armless and legless man.

“But,” replied the priest, “How are you going to ring the bell with no arms and no legs?”

“If I can ring the bell, do I have the job?” the man said.

"Yes, but you must first show me that you can ring the bell.", replied the priest.

The priest and the armless, legless man climbed the staircase up to the bell platform. The journey was painful and arduous for the armless and legless man. He was near exhaustion when they reached the bell platform, but persisted in his mission.The man slithered his way across the platform at the bell and slammed the bell with his forehead, causing the bell to move slightly. The man backed up and once again slithered at the bell and slammed it with his head. The bell swung even further. After several more carefully timed slithering slams, the bell swung far enough and pealed mightily, releasing a beautiful sound from the bell.

“The job is yours,” said the astonished priest.

"That is fine," said the armless man, "but I must insist on remaining nameless since I, like my brother, have enemies."

"Well, ... I guess that will be OK." said the priest.

Time passed and the armless, legless man rang the bell day after day. He was always on time and reliable and the villagers were overjoyed to once more hear their bell peal out across the land.

One fateful day, the armless and legless man was ill with a cold. When he slammed his face into the bell, it left him disoriented and dizzy. After several more passes at the bell, he was completely lost and slithered off the bell platform and on to the cobblestones below. A crowd quickly gathered and looked accusingly at the priest standing over the misshapen lump that had been the man.

Someone yelled, “Does anyone know who this man is?”

“I don’t know his name,” sighed the distraught priest, “but he’s a dead ringer for his brother.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wild and Howling

No, not my birthday celebration. The wind. What did you think I was talking about?

So yesterday I turned another year older (all of 57 years and the gray hairs were all earned). Four days from now L will have her birthday and join me in being older. (Notice that I did not say how old she was? A gentleman never discloses a ladies age. Just kidding.) The upshot of all that is that our real birthday quasi-celebration will be tomorrow night with our moms. Sort of splitting the difference if you will. 

It is funny to grow older. My friends and I were all convinced we'd never make it to age thirty in those halcyon years when we were sure we knew everything. Now we all laugh about it and remember those that are not still with us. One friend thinks that the fact we are all still alive is proof that we weren't living life to the limits. Of course he then has to back down a bit when we point out that he is still with us and hasn't led an exactly sedate life. {*grin*}

On a more serious note, you might have noted that Twitter shut down Twitdroyd and UberTwitter access today while at the same time pushing a commercial tweet for their new Twitter Mobile. Sounds like idiocy on the part of Twitter to me. I always figured people should be able to chose their own favorite method of using any service. A few more stupid moves and Twitter will be removed from my universe forever. (Facebook and MySpace already shot their own toes off and are long gone from my universe.)

Finally, I read a good joke today and thought I'd share it and leave you smiling.
B and T worked together in a factory and were both were laid off at the same time.   So they went to the unemployment office together.
Asked his occupation, B said, 'Panty stitcher. I sew da elastic onto da ladies cotton panties.' 
The clerk looked up panty stitcher. Finding it classified as unskilled labor, she gave B $300 a week in unemployment compensation.
T, when asked his occupation replied, 'Diesel fitter.'
The clerk looked up diesel fitter and it was classified as a skilled job. So, the clerk gave T $600 a week in unemployment compensation. 
Later, when B found out, he was furious! He stormed back into the office to find out why his friend and co-worker was collecting double his benefits.
The clerk explained, 'Panty stitchers are unskilled labor and diesel fitters are skilled labor.' 
'Wut skill?' yelled B. 'I sew da elastic on da panties. T puts dem over his head and says, 'Yeah. DIESEL FITTER'.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Today is being spent making up for all the brain deadness of yesterday. Yesterday was one of those days that would have been better spent not even getting out of bed. How bad was it? Well ...

The day began with me getting up and mentally going through my todo list for the day as I got dressed in my bathroom. My attention wondered back to reality when I saw a flash of green and  had the random thought "I don't have any green pants." A few moments later it struck me that I was busily trying to stuff my leg into my green tee shirt sleeve and pull it up in the belief it was my pants. That brought reality crashing in for at least a few moments, at least long enough to finish getting dressed and get to work. At least I didn't look quite as odd as Lady Gaga in one of her tamer incarnations:
But it was close, too close for comfort.

The bad thing is that it was the high point of my day. The rest of the day amounted to being interrupted mid-thought in everything I tried to get done. I got phone calls from every marketing firm in the universe, a couple from people who still won't believe I'm not named Steve, and the usually assortment of lost pets and animal care concerns. After trying 5 times to fill out the grant paperwork for a proposal and still not getting past the first paragraph, I decided to go with the flow and just shut the brain down for the day. How do you handle those kind of days?

So today my brain has been rebooted and the cogito interruptus has been at a minimum. Maybe I'll even get some real work done and not do battle with non-existent green pants. A guy can hope, can't he?

Maybe tomorrow will be even better as I turn yet another year older and closer to death (with due apologies to Pink Floyd for mashing their timeless lyrics). (Yup, that's right. I have a {*gasp*} birthday tomorrow.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Growing Exponentially

And no, the question is not "What is my waistline doing?" {*grin*}

Along with all the publicity about running out of IPv4 addresses, how many of you caught on to the near exponential growth of the beast called the internet over the last 30 years? Given that I was assigned my first domain name in the eighties when there were only a few of machines connected, I have seen it happen and lived to tell the tale. Sometimes it has amazed me and other times it has seemed like the most obvious of things.

What do I mean? Consider the following data points:

Year Number of Internet Connected Devices
1984 1000
1992 1 million
2008 1 billion
2010 5 billion
2020 50 billion (est.)

Who would have thought that an academic/DARPA experiment to go beyond dial-up store and forward systems would grown into such a monster. 1985 was the year the very first .com domains were issued ( was the very first in 1985). Most companies saw no purpose to registering a domain name back in the good old days. All the hoopla would come later.

So my question for you is how many devices in your home and on your person are connected to the internet right now? I come up with between 10 and 20 for me, depending on how you define device. (And no, my toaster is currently not connected to the internet!)

Happy ...

... whatever day. It was originally supposed to be Happy Valentine's Day, but then I was awoken at 3:30 this morning to inglorious sound of Molly the wonder dog retching by my ear. One of the joys of pet ownership is the occasional gift of upchuck, be the pet a dog or cat. I just wish it didn't happen while I was sound asleep. By the time it was all cleaned up and the carpet cleaned, I was wide awake. At least it wasn't hidden like kitty cats tend to do. {*grin*} For some reason, cleaning up after the dog brought to mind the days of the Son's infancy from long ago when we would undergo poop containment system failure. You know, when the onsie has both legs full and the only sane method of recovery is the emergency shower as you peel the onsie off. Odd how the mind will connect unrelated scenarios like that.

Getting back to Valentine's Day, L and I have been together and celebrating the day in our own low key way for 39 years now. We met the first day of sophomore year of high school in 1969 and didn't start dating until the fall of 1971 - not due to a lack of effort on my part. The first time I asked her out, she said she couldn't because her grandparents were in town and then showed up at the event I asked her to sans grandparents. Needless to say, it was a couple of years later that we actually went on a date. The rest is history - much to the concern of her parents at the time. I think they got really tired of flicking the porch light off and on when I'd bring L home from a date and we'd sit in the car talking for hours in front of their house.

This Valentine is for you, L. I miss the days when we could spend hours cuddling and talking about anything and nothing without life getting in the way. May we return to those days in the future.
Nothing like a little scientific humor to go with the sentiment of the day. (You do recognize Charles Darwin, don't you?) (You can find this and other scientist Valentines over at Ironic Sans.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Do you know what it means? I think it is one of the more informative terms ever to come from sociology and psychology. It explains so much of the atrocious behavior we see every day in real life and on the news from our fellow human beings.

So what is it? One definition is "doing together what you would not do alone." Wikipedia says
Deindividuation, as described by Leon Festinger and colleagues in 1952, is the situation where anti-normative behavior is released in groups in which individuals are not seen or paid attention to as individuals. Simply put, deindividuation is immersion in a group to the point at which the individual ceases to be seen as such.
One of the clearer explanations of the experimental results underlying the phenomena  and the societal appearance was given yesterday in the wonderful "You Are Not So Smart" blog. I encourage you to click on over and be amused and amazed and edified.

Deindividuation explains phenomena as diverse as crowd riots, flash crowds chanting "jump" to potential suicides, much teenage behavior, and facebook and blog attacks. It makes clear much of the ugly behavior that happens on line. But the most interesting part to me is how easily the problem can be controlled simply by requiring people to identify themselves as individuals. Any one who has run a public forum that allows anonymous comments versus one that requires a validated ID knows just how powerful it is for commenters to be seen as individuals rather than as part of the faceless horde.

The really sad part is that it is an unconscious feature of all of us. Anyone can undergo deindividuation with only a small nudge in the right circumstances. So what do you think? And which of these two pictured individuals is more likely to suffer deindividuation?
(picture credit unknown)
Does it change if they have on hoods?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cold Doggy

Remember how I remarked on Molly and her cold loving habits yesterday? Well here she is at about 9 this morning as the temperature hit 2 degrees.
This is after an hour of me repeatedly calling her and asking if she wants to come in and getting the "Who me?" look in response.

My real question is what does she hope to spot as she scans the snow. The squirrels don't come down to the ground when it is this cold, so it can't be a squirrel. Likewise the birds aren't flitting about much right now. (Although I did see a flight of at least a 100 geese circling and honking this morning as I shoveled the walk!) So what is it that is so interesting?

I have my own theory. This is when Molly thinks her deep thoughts. You know, the thoughts that she tries to express when she sits with her head in my lap and makes googly eyes at me. Rather than dumb affection, I always wonder if it might not be more along the lines of her trying to mentally convey that she has solved all the problems of the universe and why haven't I caught up to her. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Day That Was

Today was a day of meetings and odd phone calls. In between trying to keep the sifting powder snow off the walk so people could make it in to the meeting and having it continue to sift back in and getting a whole spate of wrong number calls that wouldn't believe that I was not named Steve, it was an interesting day. I'm considering offering snow gliders at the curb and changing my name to Steve. What do you think?

On top of that, it is currently about 1 degree with a slight breeze outside. Just cool enough that Molly the wonder dog is only laying on her back in the snow with her legs akimbo for 15 minutes at a time rather than hours. It always amazes me that she will lay there in the cold with her fur flying in the wind and give me this look that says "What? Me come in? No way." Sort of like the way she likes to use her nose to make big snow mounds so that she can lay on them and survey the snow for signs of action. I suspect some of that is from the Husky that is mixed in with her Border Collie.

Now that Molly has deigned to come in, she is laying at my feet and snoring as I write. I envy my dog's life at times. Getting fed, drinks on demand, a doorman to let her in and out, and the ability to drop off to sleep at any time. When does my life get that good? Maybe when I look this good?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Here We Go Again

After being tolerable for a few days, the cold is returning with a vengeance. The temperature has been dropping at more than 10 degrees an hour, the wind whipping at 25 mph, and snow trying to come down rather than blow around. It was in the 40s today, but it is now below 10heading for subzero. Let's hear it for the return of the cold! Tomorrow is scheduled for highs in the 5-10 degree range with winds to 40 mph. Late winter on the high plains. Nothing like it for variability.

In other news, another Super Bowl has come and gone. I can remember the original game - it was viewed by many of us as a self promo akin to the Billy Jean King/ Bobby Riggs tennis matches that would come later. Now it has grown into a behemoth that takes over the land of TV and sports for a day. Who'd a thunk it?
Somehow I find the Super Bowl a bit anticlimactic unless one of my favorite teams is in it. Needless to say, neither Pittsburgh or Green Bay fall into that category. But I did like the way Green Bay played and was a bit surprised at the apparent nerves shown by Pittsburgh. We had the MIL over and ate burgers and chips and commented on the ads - which in my opinion were not as creative this year. Oh well. Time to go into full football withdrawal. What will I watch with no more football on?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Couldn't Resist

Jay over at Bailey's Buddy had this absolutely hilarious picture on his blog today with the caption "They want in!". Sort of sums up the current state of the universe, doesn't it.

Thanks Jay. It made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

By The Way

Did you remember that yesterday was "Work Naked" day. Did you celebrate at your place of work? Inquiring minds want to know.

It was a bit too cool to contemplate here with the sub-zero highs. But clear this gentleman was in the swing of things.
Everything Goes Better on Work Naked Day

A Potpourri of Posting Wonder

You've probably noticed how unreliable my posting habits have become. Or maybe not? No excuses, just too many other things on my plate at the moment.

I had a meeting last Friday in Greeley which is about 100 miles to the west of here. Getting there for the 8am start time entailed being on the road before the sun had risen. Between here and Greeley, there is about 60 miles of the Pawnee National Grassland - prairie grassland and sage brush preserved in it's original form. Of course that also means that there is close to an 80 mile stretch where there are no services as well. None of that probably enthuses you, but as a prairie native it does me. It has been a while since I was driving westward as the sun rose behind me amidst the thousands of acres of prairie. It is so flat around here that you can see for 20 miles in all directions (which always made me wonder how western writers could talk of indians sneaking up on people out here).
(The view in spring. Picture from

As the sun rose, the landscape went from black to shades of gray and then to patches of glorious molten red. The sage brush and the antelope herds suddenly became clear and then the light increased to the point where color appeared. And in my mind was the thought that this is the way man was meant to live. (If you can't tell by now, I am a born and bred flat-land prairie lover.)

The other thing that was spectacular about the day was that it was in the 60s by noon with only a light 15 mph breeze. Basically it was as if spring had arrived early. It was close to 70 at 5 pm. Fast forward 72 hours and it was about 6 degrees at the same time of day. Monday night it got down to 23 below zero and at 10am Tuesday as I headed off to a meeting, it was still 14 below with wind chills in the -35 range. Made the 50 yards from my truck to the door of the meeting place an interesting journey (The nose piece on my glasses froze to my nose in that short span. Of course the first thing you do when you walk inside and your glasses steam over is reach up and remove ... Ouch.). The temperature eventually got close to -1 for a high, but the wind chill never did get above -20. So last night the temps were in the -17 to -19 range and the wind chills were in the -30 to -40 range. Pretty typical late January weather here. (It could be worse. L called last night and by 8:30pm it was already -22 in the mountains with wind chills lower than -44. She said it made the walk from the garage to the door somewhat painful to exposed skin.)

Here's hoping the weather people have it right and tomorrow makes it above 20 degrees. We could use some warmth and the people (Hi Mom) with frozen pipes would like it to not blow so much. (Mom's pipes have thawed since we have gotten up to 10 degrees today and the wind shifted direction.)

P.S. I think we are becoming less and less like our pioneer blood lines. Maybe we are becoming a nation of wusses. I cannot remember ever having school cancelled because of the cold as a kid. Now they cancel for temps in the -20 range? I suspect that some ancestors are rolling over in their graves. (My great grandparents homesteaded out here, ...) Heck, I can remember being sent outdoors at recess to play in weather that was -20 or worse. It was standard that all girls kept extra pants and tights at school to put on under their dresses. Now I seldom see that kind of weather preparedness. Like I said - we are wussing out. What do you think?
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