Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Monkey Grip.

I noticed something odd several years ago that I don't think I'd ever paid any attention to before: how people hold pencils and pens. When I first started school, I have clear memories of the teachers showing us the correct way to hold a pencil. We were told to hold the tips of our index and thumb toward the pencil point and rest the pencil along the side of the middle finger. I never noticed anyone ever writing any other way unless, of course, they were-left handed.

A few years ago at my old job, I noticed this girl I worked with holding her pen like a chimpanzee. I wondered why she held the pen in such an awkward way, but I never asked her about it. Later, at a bank, I noticed the girl behind the counter held her pen in the same awkward manner. What was significant to me was that both girls were around the same age, in their early to mid 20's. That made me wonder if perhaps sometime along the way teachers simply stopped teaching students the correct way to hold a pencil. Today in class, I noticed a girl who's probably nineteen or twenty holding her pen in the same awkward way.

So, dear readers, I ask you, how do you hold your pencil? And if you hold it chimp-style, why?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The Meat What Am.

I usually don't spend much time looking at my spam, but two subject lines I saw today stuck out. The first, while typical penis enlargement/Viagra stuff, inexplicably takes a more sinister turn at the end: "Great Pill To Increase Ur Sperms parendum looting". So this pill will increase my sperm count, but will also make it more likely that I'll start looting? Is the looting thing a side effect? (Parendum is Latin, but I haven't tracked down a definition yet.) The second spam subject line is almost more of a suggestion or an insult than anything else: "Keep Ur Small P-E-N-I-S At Home, Don't Bring It Out allign". They want me to keep my penis at home, but also they don't want me getting it out of alignment? OK, I'll do that.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Visions of A Horrible Future.

Yesterday, I saw a girl in the school parking lot standing under an umbrella. So what, you say? The weather was perfectly clear. She was using the umbrella to block the summer-like heat of the sun. I have a bad feeling we're going to be seeing more and more people walking around under umbrellas in the future.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


A large online collection of hand-tinted, turn-of-the-century Japanese stereographic photos.
Doll Parts.

Cowboy Parts is a comprehensive site devoted to Hartland Western toys. My favorite section is devoted to tiny plastic hats.

I love radios, especially old radios. Here's a gallery of vintage Soviet military radio gear. All the text is in Russian.

An amazing color gallery of vintage AM/FM radios is available at Radioattic.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Excuses, Excuses.

I’m sorry for not posting anything, but I’ve been feeling particularly uninspired lately. (Where have I heard that before? Oh, I've written it multiple times, that's where.)

Yesterday I was digging through my archives and made an astonishing discovery about this blog: it used to be good. If you don’t believe me, go back and look at some of the entries from last September or October. I found myself actually enjoying rereading my old posts. It’s all there: funny posts, great links, lots of comments, etc. But it all just fell apart in late November and never recovered.

The only thing I didn’t like about my archives is how I had to reload each page at least once to get it to display right. Using Mozilla Firefox I kept ending up with a very long, gibberish filled page. And not the kind of gibberish you’d usually find here. Of course, it works fine in Internet Explorer. Grrr!!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Frankenstein Eyesight Television Playback.

I love UBU Web, it's a goldmine of weird recordings from the avant-garde to the unbalanced. My new favorite section is FOUND+INSANE. For a glimpse into some truly marvelous lunacy, check out the recordings of material written by Francis E. Dec. These recording aren't Dec himself, but a professional broadcaster who's a fan of Dec's ravings. I recommend "rant 2" and "rant 3". (Available in both RealAudio and .mp3) I think we all feel like these recordings sound on occasion. Well, kinda.

If you liked the above (and how can you possibly not?), then have a look at the Kooks Museum.

Build your own Dalek. Finally a hobby I can get interested in. [Link via The Cartoonist.]
Your Tax Dollars at Work.

Yesterday I got a hit from someone in the USDA. How did they find my blog? By searching for peep show humping stories. And not only that, he (has to be a he) went through over a hundred hits before he got to me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A Day Late and a Dollar Short.

Back on May 22 of last year, I wrote a post about a new invention that had popped into my head. Typically it was one those things that's really stupid, but incredibly useful. It was a "hum search engine" where you could hum a tune and the search engine would find what tune it was. It'd be great for those times where you have a song stuck in your head, but don't know the name of it. Anyway, yesterday over at Metafilter I saw a post about a whistle search engine called Melodyhound. I was flabbergasted. Really. At first I thought maybe I'd been ripped off, but then I found out that this had been previously posted at Metafilter--on September 3, 2002, two and half months before I even started my blog. This is the story of my life. (When I originally posted this one of my commenters suggested I call Shazam, a cell phone service in the UK which does something similar. But it's not quite the same thing. Another commenter claimed the inventors of the .mp3 were coming up with something like what I described.)

This reminds me of something I read about in a biography of James M. Cain years ago. In the 20's when Cain was working as a reporter, he was covering some story in an isolated West Virginia town. The local eccentric announced he was going to unveil the invention he had spent the last few years laboring over. The invention turned out to be the bicycle. The man had never seen one before and wasted several years of his life reinventing something that already exists. This is my future.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Now with Less Uselessness!

Jebus, why didn't somebody tell me my site feed hasn't worked in over two weeks? It's been broken since I switched it from only putting up partial posts to full posts. The URL changed and I didn't notice. It must be a wildly popular feed. Anyway, it's fixed now. Knock yourselves out.

And if you read the above and don't know what I'm talking about, just go back to sleep. It's not important.

Friday, April 09, 2004

For the Birds.

Yesterday as I walked out of a store, I felt something wet hit my head. It was cloudy, so I figured it was starting to rain. After I walked a few steps I brushed my left palm over my hair where I’d been hit. It came back with a white streak on it. Bird shit? I remembered seeing some painters doing some work on the other side of the shopping center and wondered if it was paint. In my car I tried to wipe off the white streaks and it didn’t come off. Paint? I drove home. At a stop sign I sniffed my hand. It smelled kinda funky. Bird shit.

And it’s not the first time a bird has used me as a toilet. Once I got hit on the arm when I was about nine or ten. Several years ago a bird in a very high oak splattered my jeans slightly as I rode in the back of a pickup truck.

Try as you might, there’s simply no dignified way to walk around with bird shit in your hair. Unless, of course, you’re alone and the house is empty when you get home, which, thankfully, it was. So I rinsed it out carefully at first and then had a very long, very thorough shower.

Stupid bird.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Turkey Wars, pt. II

I got a good shot of the dominant turkey this morning and posted it at my moblog (which I've been neglecting almost as much as this blog). The shot was done by using a pair of binoculars as a telephoto lens for my digital camera. It's not a great picture, but it's pretty good for something done without a tripod.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Turkey Wars.

I haven’t been posting anything because there hasn’t been anything worth writing about recently. Well, a little while ago I saw something I’ve never seen before that's worth posting about: a wild turkey fight. I’ve seen wild turkeys around on and off for years, but they never really did much of anything. They’d stroll around a bit, peck at the ground, and then run away if they got spooked. I’ve seen them fly a little, but not much. I had no idea they fought.

For the past week or two a big male has been strutting around the yard, occasionally puffing himself up and fanning out his tail feathers. I didn’t really know why he was doing this, but it was interesting to watch. A couple of days ago I shot up a roll of film in my Nikon with the 70-210mm zoom lens on him. (I’ll get it developed in the next year or so, I promise.)

Apparently the puffing up is a gesture showing dominance. It’s not just for show either; turkeys are rough fighters. The puffed up one and another male went head-to-head (or maybe beak-to-beak is a better description) and pecked and clawed at each other until the challenger ran away. I’d considered getting my Nikon, but it didn’t have film in it. Had I gotten it, the fight would’ve been over by the time I got back.

Later the puffed up was fighting again. This time the challenger, don’t know if it was the same one as earlier, came from the opposite side of the yard. This fight was more violent. One of them would grab the other’s head with his beak and pull at it. There was lots of severe pecking. They’d also entwine their necks in a way I’ve seen snakes do on nature programs. Very educational. But eventually the challenging turkey ran away.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Just Call Me Windbag.

Last night I suddenly remembered a quasi-local blog I used to read. I haven't read in months because I just completely forgot about it. The person who does the blog works at the private for school for girls I worked at as a temp back in late summer/early fall of '97. And since these days I'm nothing but a doddering old twit with absolutely nothing to say, I'm going to drone on a bit about this temp job. Humor me. Or just leave. I don't really care.

An entry on the front page about an old fire-damaged house on the school property reminded me of a few things. An awful movie called Crazy People had been filmed partially on the school grounds in the late 80's. We temps were assigned the task of cleaning all the junk out of this fire-damaged house. Inside in a box I found a dozen or more copies of the screenplay to Crazy People. I kept a few and one of the other temps kept one, the rest ended up in the dumpster. I could've sold all of those on Ebay, but that was 1997 and I didn't think about stuff like that back then.

I've always wanted to throw a couch out of a second story window and when we were cleaning out this house I got to do just that. But, unfortunately, it wasn't very spectacular. The only interesting part was when the couch got stuck in such a way that we couldn't pull it back in and I got punch and kick it until it fell. Fun, but ultimately dull. Considerably more fun was lifting an old junky Royal electric typewriter over my head, slamming it down into the dumpster and watching it come apart. It was sort of Pete Townsend meets William Faulkner. Cathartic. I highly recommend it.

I found this big, heavy duty wooden easel in the house and decided to keep it. I guessed it was just old junk and that the school's art department had all new easels. I took it and propped it up against the front bumper of my Buick because I couldn't figure out how to get it in my car at the time. It stood there leaning against my car all day until a bit after quitting time I managed to get the thing in my car. A few days later I went into the art department and saw about twenty or thirty clones of the the easel I took home. I thought, "Oh, shit. I think I just stole an easel." But if I hadn't kept it it would've ended up in the dumpster with everything else. Anyway, it has a good home now. I gave it to my sister who's an art student.

One of the great things about working at that place was that we could keep anything that was going to be thrown away, so I ended up with a lot of junk. My most bizarre acquisition was a huge 35mm movie projector from the 40's. It's the kind of projector they put in movie theaters. I also got a couple of chairs, a suitcase, books, slightly damaged copier paper, stationary they threw out by the ton, envelopes, and god knows what else.

All in all, it was probably my most interesting temp job. (Unfortunatly, you can't tell by the way I wrote this.)