Archive for June, 2005

Literary Inquisition

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

The gauntlet has been thrown! The Presurfer has challenged me to the latest “meme” that’s been going around, the Literary Meme. I usually don’t do these because so many are incredibly dumb, but this one has promise:

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451; which book do you want to be?
I’m assuming you mean that I’m one of the volunteers who dedicate themselves to memorizing books and passing them on to future generations, since dead tree editions are banned and being destroyed. (I never read the book, having always lacked the ability to get into Bradbury, but I saw part of the movie on TV when I was in high school. Ironic, huh? Or whatever the correct word is for what I’m going for here, the concept of relying on a TV broadcast of a book-burning movie to answer a question in a quiz that obviously treasures reading as a pastime — yeah, that one’s plumb dragging the ground with dramatic tension and paradox.)

SO ANYWAY: What book would I “be”, hmm … ? How about … Treasure Island! Ha! I bet the volunteers get into fistfights, even duels to the death, over gems like that one. The people coming late to the party probably get told, “Sorry, Turtleboy, all the good ones are taken … you get to be some Robert Ludlum piece of crap!”

The Hobbit or Robinson Crusoe would also be acceptable, as would some nice H.G. Wells.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Is “a crush on” the same as “the hots for”? If so, then how about Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear?

NO BUT SERIOUSLY: Eowyn from the Lord of the Rings books. I was sweet on her and her formidable strength of character long before she was played by the seriously slobber-worthy Miranda Otto.

What are you currently reading?
Just magazines. Oh, and a downloaded Creative Commons Snow Crash ripoff piece of crap called Accelerando.

I’ll try to find the link for y’all soon …

The last book you bought is:
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne. At Half-Price Books, just last Sunday. Sure, I’ve got the text version on CD-ROM, along with about 700 other classics, but it’s too hard to read something like that on the computer. Sometimes ya just gotta have real to get away from the bits for a while …

The last book you read is:
Probably it was half of the ninth book in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin (“Master and Commander”) series. I need to get back to the whole 20-book series one of these days, but I just had to take a break in about April of last year because I wasn’t getting anything else done.

People, they are JUST. THAT. GOOD.

Don’t tell me “Oh, I wouldn’t be interested in books about sailing.” My answer to that: Just shut up and read it. Read the first one — it’ll be a piece of cake if you’ve seen the Russell Crowe movie — and just try to tell me you’re not hooked.

Five books you would take to a desert island:
Trick question. The books I would take would be:

1) An encyclopedia of local edible plants.
2) A book on surviving on a desert island.
3) A different book on survinging on a desert island.
4) See #3.
5) See #4.

My first impulse, of course, is to pick books I would want to read and re-read for a long time, but once I got there I’d feel pretty freakin’ stupid with nothing to eat but the complete works of Mark Twain.

Screw reading. If can just keep myself fed and alive in a situation like that, I’ll find enough things on the island to keep my mind occupied.

But if the question is: What books what you take if you were going away for an indefinite period of time with zero input from the outside world but plenty of time to read, that’s totally different. Hmm … How about:

1) Can I get the O’Brian series in one volume?
2) Ditto the complete works of Twain?
3) Yeah, complete works all around: Verne!
4) Wells!
5) Stevenson!

Who are you going to pass this stick to?
To Yay Kim, of course, and to The Wife and The Spook, if they’ll just write them up and give them to me to post.

And I should point out: Most people that do this meme don’t rattle as much as I do in the course of the writing, so it’s not as much work as I make it look like.

Quest for the Motherland

Monday, June 27th, 2005

I’ve mentioned that I had my DNA tested for National Geographic’s Genographic Project, and that people in the database that had the same genetic markers as me (Haplogroup I) report that their ancestors came to this country from Scotland and Iceland.

It would be okay to be Scottish, but what really intrigues me is that I might be of Icelandic origins. After all, it seems like every other person in the U.S. has Scottish blood, and even Swedish and Norwegian descendancy is common — but I don’t often hear of people saying that they’re of Icelandic heritage.

I decided then, to see how much I could find out about my possible ancestry — so let’s take a tour of Iceland!:

The capital of Iceland is Reykjavik, whose greater urban area has a population of about 182,000, just less than that of Lubbock. The entire country of Iceland has a total population of about 300,000 — just a bit more than Corpus Christi, Texas.

Iceland has the second-longest life expentancy, after Japan.

Meet Miss Iceland 2005!

Meet the President of Iceland!

Icelandic Cuisine, Viking Feast 2005, and the Pagan Food Holiday.

The American Style Restaurant chain in Iceland features the “Bacon Borgari M/ Fronskum Og Coke!” See the complete menu in English here.

For that matter, Iceland also has Burger King and T.G.I.Friday’s franchises.

The history of Icelandic cinema, and a list of Iceland-related videos on Amazon.

Download a text file (a mere 174K) of seven Icelandic short stories, in English, courtesy of Project Gutenberg.

A New York artist has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study Icelandic fashion and design.

The first European to set foot in North America was born in Iceland: Leif Ericsson.

Daily News from Iceland: The headlines as I’m writing this include: Excavation in 1973 lava field reveals intact houses; higher prices predicted for groceries; Icelandic artist receives Carnegie award; The Last Farm wins Grand Prize at Spanish film festival. And Midsummer Night in was celebrated Friday in Reykjavík:

… There was magic in the air at the midsummer night festival in Laugardalur in central Reykjavík, held late last night. Eight hundred people assembled in the family park close to the open door swimming pool at Laugardalur. The pool was open and admissions were free.

According to Icelandic folklore, cows gain voices and seals take off their fur at midsummer night. At midsummer night, the dew is said to be particularly wholesome, and stones are imbued with magical powers.

Books, videos, and maps for travelling in Iceland.

Over 8700 Iceland photos on Flickr.

If my ancestors were from Iceland, why did they come here, and when? There’s a good chance that the reason was the 1875 eruption of Mount Askja, which devastated the island nation’s economy and was a major factor in the emigration of 20% of the population in the remainder of the 19th century.

Iceland’s present economy? I’m glad you asked (the boldface accents are mine):

Iceland’s Scandinavian-type economy is basically capitalistic, yet with an extensive welfare system (including generous housing subsidies), low unemployment, and remarkably even distribution of income. In the absence of other natural resources (except for abundant geothermal power), the economy depends heavily on the fishing industry, which provides 70% of export earnings and employs 8% of the work force. The economy remains sensitive to declining fish stocks as well as to fluctuations in world prices for its main exports: fish and fish products, aluminum, and ferrosilicon. Government policies include reducing the budget and current account deficits, limiting foreign borrowing, containing inflation, revising agricultural and fishing policies, diversifying the economy, and privatizing state-owned industries. The government remains opposed to EU membership, primarily because of Icelanders’ concern about losing control over their fishing resources. Iceland’s economy has been diversifying into manufacturing and service industries in the last decade, and new developments in software production, biotechnology, and financial services are taking place. The tourism sector is also expanding, with the recent trends in ecotourism and whale watching.

The Iceland.com bulletin board. VirtualTourist’s Iceland Forum.

Lights, camera, Iceland: Some big Hollywood films were filmed partly in Iceland, including Batman Begins and Die Another Day.

Icelandic Folk Tales, including the myth behind the national crest of Iceland:

The four Guardians of Iceland, one for each quarter, of the country are described in an old tale telling of a magician
who was sent by King Harold Gormsson of Denmark to investigate the country prior to invasion.

He came to Vopnafjörður (Fjord of Weapons) on the East coast and a huge dragon approached him, accompanied by reptiles, worms and lizards.

He went west and south and came to Breiðafjörður (Wide Fjord), where he was approached by a huge bull which waded into the sea and made loud noises, the bull was accompanied by by a large number of spirits.

He went from there and south of Reykjanes (Smoke Peninsula) and wanted to take land at Víkarsskeið (The Sands of Vikar), but was approached by a huge rock giant whose head was higher than the mountains and carried a large iron staff, and he was accompanied by a host of other giants.
Then the magician went east along the south coast, where he could find no landing places. Thus the intentions of the King of the Danes came to naught due to the efforts of the Guardian Spirits of Iceland.

This story is embodied in The Seal of Iceland, where the Dragon represents the Eastern part, the Bird the Northern part, the Bull represents the Western part and the Rock Giant the Southern part.

Is Iceland an “occupied nation“?

The 1972 World Chess Championship in Reykjavik between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky — the tournament that set off chess fever in the United States. Fischer became an Icelandic citizen earlier this year.

Iceland boasts the world’s oldest functioning legislative assembly, established in the 10th Century.

Icelanders in America: A breakdown by state of Icelanders in the U.S.

The Icelandic Canadian Home Page has dozens of links about people of Icelandic heritage in North America, like the Icelandic Club of Seattle.

Icelandic folk music.

The Icelandic sheepdog.

The Icelandic military: The Coast Guard.

The island of Grimsey is the northernmost part of Iceland, and is intersected by the Arctic Circle. Even though the population is less than three hundred, there are several lodging houses, and visitors can get a certificate for having crossed the Arctic Circle.

The first episode of The Amazing Race — Season 6 took place in Iceland.

The genealogy site Cyndi’s List has a whole page of links of resources for finding Icelandic ancestors, including Mapping the Icelandic Genome, which is exactly the kind of thing that got me into this research.

And last but not least: Bjork!

You can find more information on this great fascinating country at Iceland.com, I Like Iceland, IcelandTravel.com, the Lonely Plant guide (including an excellent map,), the Wikipedia entry, and the CIA Fact Book entry.

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Ha — That was fun! Of course, when I get more genetic testing done, and compare the results against more databases, my ancestors might not turn out to have come from Iceland after all …

But hey, I’ve learned a lot of new things about a part of the world, and researching a land of glaciers is a pleasant diversion on these 100 degree Farenheit days in Texas.

Then again, I just might be descended from Vikings …

Chip Captain

Friday, June 24th, 2005

I’ve been meaning to post this for the past few days, but hey, better late than, um, not getting around to it at all …

Here It’s been a dark week in Geekdom. Jack Kilby, the inventor of the integrated circuit, has died at age 81.

Sure, there were computers before 1958, but they were the size of barns and the cost of entire farms. Kilby is the man who, eventually, put a computer on your desk.

PBS’ News Hour program had a great discussion of his contributions to the world; you can read a transcript here.

My personal perspective on the microchip and its economic implications began with calculators in 1973. My younger cousin bought a fairly basic Texas Instruments calculator (with square root) before the beginning of his senior year in high school and paid $150 for it. I waited until I really needed one, which was just about a year later (for my statistics class, at the beginning of my college statistics class), and I paid just $75 for the same thing.

A year later, it was $15 dollars.

And remember, this was back when $150 was a nice chunk of money — brand new cars could be had for $5000, and gasoline was about 30 cents a gallon.

A hundred dollars, more or less, was a lot to pay for something that does a little more than add and subtract, but lots of us were paying.

That’s how much value this innovation brought with it.

Kilby was a rookie employee at TI when he began working on circuit design, and within a year the company filed his groundbreaking “Solid Circuit made of Germanium” patent — yes, he used a wired-up flower as a demonstration of semiconductivity.

I’m sure the other engineers laughed at him at the time, but sometimes to get the job done you just have to hook up the jumpers to whatever comes along.

Maybe somebody else would have started this whole ball rolling eventually — but they didn’t. Kilby did, and he’s the reason we’ve got PC’s and networks and digital cameras and iPods and cell phones.

For better or worse.

Skunk Works — Update

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

Le Skonque! Le Skonque! The Spook sends this update to last night’s skunk post:

Nice write up. I’m truly impressed.

I trapped and relocated one of the little pests last night. His new home address for his fan club is :

2 miles north of Slaton Airport
FM 400
Mountain Fork of the Brazos River
Slaton, Texas

Two more of his brothers and sisters volunteered to participate in the relocation program this morning. I haven’t had a chance to review the two candidates resumes yet, but being familiar with their brother I feel sure they will measure up.

As a side note skunks can and do carry rabies and may have a very long gestation period. This may be up to 18 months. I have not found any veterinarians who recommend keeping one as a pet. Believe me, I tried.

later

Skunk Works

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

Last week I mentioned that our Lubbock correspondent Spook was in the middle of a polecat infestation; here’s his update, complete with photos:

What

Here’s a couple shots of the baby skunks that have taken up residence in my shop. The best I can tell there’s 4 total. They’ve gotten a little dusty in the last couple of weeks and need some maintenance , I’m just to lazy to do it. If you look one is taking a piece of fish back to his den.

The Rube Goldberg / Huck Finn trap I cooked up looks like it may work. Yeah, it’s not cutting edge technology but the price was right. Last night I waited for all four to crowd in but they were leery of the box. Tonight relocation efforts will resume.

later

I’m sure we all wish Mr. Spooky the best of luck with his little trapping adventure — and, on the off-chance that the inevitable should happen, here are some tips on what he should do after his odoriferous encounter.

Also: Here’s all you need to know about skunk spray — what it is, and how to go about getting rid of it.

And, while we’re on the subject, let’s learn more about our little striped friends, starting here, here, here, and here.

Tips on skunk management.

“Love me, love my skunk.”

Skunk-borne rabies outbreaks have recently been reported in Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, and, yes, in Texas.

But Aspen Skunk Rabies Research, Inc., is working hard to dispel the image of the American mephitis mephitis as a disease-spreading pest.

Skunk Haven — “Furry stinkers need love too!”

Skunkfest! (It’s like Oktoberfest but with less polka music.)

Jerry Dragoo, Skunk Man.

You know all about Pepe Le Pew and Flower from Bambi, but other skunk characters haven’t fared so well.

NOT Skunks: Skunk Fire, Skunk Park, Skunk Records, Skunk Ape, Skunk Weed, Skunk Works, Skunk Train, Skunk Studios, Skunk Cabbage, Skunk Sheds, and guitarist (and defense analyst!) Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

Veni, Vidi, Wiki …

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

… I came, I saw, I edited!

That’s right: Today was a geek milestone in my life — I edited my first Wikipedia entry. Sure, it’s probably something I should have done it a long time ago, but there was nothing I really wanted to put myself forward as an expert on.

Today, though, I stumbled across an entry composed of hundreds of bits, contributed by lots and lots of people — and I thought of a few bits that weren’t there, so I added them, just like that.

The specific things I submitted — well, those can wait. What’s important is that a lot of people might not be too familiar with Wikipedia.

Basically, it’s an encyclopedia written by thousands of people just like you and me, instead of by a centralized, closely-supervised staff.

Wired Magazine had an excellent article about Wikipedia a couple of months ago, and began with this sketch:

Dixon, New Mexico, is a rural town with a few hundred residents and no traffic lights. At the end of a dirt road, in the shadow of a small mountain sits a gray trailer. It is the home of Einar Kvaran. To understand the most audacious experiment of the postboom Internet, this is a good place to begin.

Kvaran is a tall and hale 56-year-old with a ruddy face, blue eyes, and blond hair that’s turning white. He calls himself an “art historian without portfolio” but has no formal credentials in his area of proclaimed expertise. He’s never published a scholarly article or taught a college course. Over three decades, he’s been a Peace Corps volunteer, an autoworker, a union steward, a homeschooling mentor, and the drummer in a Michigan band called Kodai Road. Right now, he’s unemployed. Which isn’t to say he doesn’t work. For about six hours each day, Kvaran reads and writes about American sculpture and public art and pub­lishes his articles for an audience of millions around the world.

Hundreds of books on sculptors, regional architecture, and art history are stacked floor to ceiling inside his trailer – along with 68 thick albums containing 20 years of photos he’s taken on the American road. The outlet for his knowledge is at the other end of his dialup Internet connection: the daring but controversial Web site known as Wikipedia.

So how does a loose network of thousands of dabblers go on to produce anything remotely dependable? Because it’s vigilantly policed by Wikipedia community:

Whenever somebody amends the entry, the watch list records the change. So when that anonymous vandal replaced a Jimmy Carter photo with a nose-picker, all the Wikipedians with Jimmy Carter on their watch list knew about it. One of them merely reverted to the original portrait. At the same time, the user who rescued the former president from Boogerville noticed that the vandal had also posted the nose-pick photo on the “Rapping” entry – and he got rid of that image just four minutes after the photo appeared.

On controversial topics, the response can be especially swift. Wikipedia’s article on Islam has been a persistent target of vandalism, but Wikipedia’s defenders of Islam have always proved nimbler than the vandals. Take one fairly typical instance. At 11:20 one morning not too long ago, an anonymous user replaced the entire Islam entry with a single scatological word. At 11:22, a user named Solitude reverted the entry. At 11:25, the anonymous user struck again, this time replacing the article with the phrase “u stink!” By 11:26, another user, Ahoerstemeir, reverted that change – and the vandal disappeared. When MIT’s Fernanda Viégas and IBM’s Martin Wattenberg and Kushal Dave studied Wikipedia, they found that cases of mass deletions, a common form of vandalism, were corrected in a median time of 2.8 minutes. When an obscenity accompanied the mass deletion, the median time dropped to 1.7 minutes.

It turns out that Wikipedia has an innate capacity to heal itself. As a result, woefully outnumbered vandals often give up and leave. (To paraphrase Linus Torvalds, given enough eyeballs, all thugs are callow.) What’s more, making changes is so simple that who prevails often comes down to who cares more. And hardcore Wikipedians care. A lot.

The result of this approach is a half-million entries — six times the number in Encyclopedia Britannica.

The result is also a bunch of entries which would never show up in any respectable encyclopedia, like “List of songs with titles that don’t appear in the lyrics” … which happens to be the topic I contributed to.

The list is self-explanatory, and contains like Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and “The Battle of Evermore” — the one’s where you’ve always had to tell your friends, “No, the name of the song isn’t “Hey Hey Mama, Said the Way You Move” …

Anyway, when I got down to the Monkees section, I noticed that there were only three entries, so I doubled the size of the section.

A couple of hours later I realized that “Papa Gene’s Blues” didn’t qualify under the rules of the entry (anything like “The Ballad of John and Yoko” or “Annie’s Song” refers to the song itself and therefore is a different type of song, or something, whatever), so I deleted it and remembered “For Pete’s Sake”, also known as the ending theme of the Monkees TV show.

Then, still drunk with power, I went to the Waitresses section and added “No Guilt” (the lyrics include the words “I know someone who really met Belushi”, but not the words “No Guilt”).

Ha — just like that, I contributed to a global knowledge project!

I could get used to this …

Plus: I just noticed that there’s a link to a page for Laurie Anderson’s Big Science album, no currently no information has been entered …

Hmm …

Things – Monday Edition

Monday, June 20th, 2005

What’s the ‘Frequency’?: Via Boing Boing, an article about a TV pilot, Global Frequency, that the idiot network executives at the WB were too dense to approve, but which has nonetheless acquired a huge fan base as a result of its illegal availability on BitTorrent. The show is (or was to be) about “an active ‘smartmob’ consisting of 1001 people organized through advanced cellphones who respond to global emergencies and phenomena ranging from Heaven’s Gate-esque cults to rogue military operations”.

Wow — that sounds like my kind of high concept!

One of the citizen reviewers commented, “What’s most cool is that it is all about a paradigm for global action that you can love whether you’re red or blue — ordinary people who are extraordinary in some way who are taking responsibility for fixing things that are broken, regardless of consequences, when the powers that be not only haven’t asked them to, but would be pissed off at for trying.”

Now that the project is famous via the internet, though, the only people dumber than the suits that turned it down are the suits from other networks that aren’t jumping on it.

Seriously, think about it: Could you buy this much publicity for a show? I wouldn’t be surprised if GoldenPalace.com (they’re the folks who buy up all the Jesus-in-a-taco and Advertise-on-my-pregnant-belly offers and other things that pop up on Ebay) jumped in and sponsored the show themselves.

To the dogs: This one’s for The Wife and any other doggie lovers: FlickrDogs, a blog that features dog pictures that people have posted on Flickr.com.

Now I just need to upload Schotzy’s and Molly’s pictures, then just sit back and wait for them to be discovered.

(Link via Look at This.)

Work work work: I did a weird variety of troubleshooting at work today. I had to reset Vickie’s password after she came back from vacation. I had to tell New Boss in Training how to spell fuchsia, and when he didn’t believe me, I told him the color was named for a flower which was named for its discoverer, a Dr. Fuchs, F-U-C-H-S, which is how to remember how it’s spelled; he still only took my word for it after he ran it through the spell checker. I had to field a systems information sales call that Todn8r forwarded to me since Main Computer Guy won’t be back until tomorrow — it was one of those salesmen who won’t take “I don’t know anything about that” for an answer, and who asks way too many nosy questions about the company.

Finally, I had to fix Manufacturing Manager’s computer so he could once again access the Internet.

“So what did you? How did you fix it?”

“I released your IPCONFIG settings so they’d reset themselves from a cold boot.”

“Huh? You what?”

“I used elfin magic and pixie dust”, I said, making a sprinkling motion with my fingers over his monitor.

“Oh. Okay.”

The Father’s Day Files

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

Learn the History of Fathers Day and get some Father’s Day Facts.

Need to sharpen up your fathering skills? Just go to Fathers.com, where you’ll find tips “for every fathering situation”, “initiatives to get dads involved in their children’s lives”, and “research-based training you can receive from the National Center for Fathering to improve your fathering skills”.

Pop of the Charts: The Living Years, Leader of the Band, Watching Scotty Grow, Father and Son, and Papa Don’t Preach.

 This is my dad, at about age 26!Movie Dads: This Is My Father, Mom and Dad Save the World, Father of the Bride, Daddy Day Care, Papa’s Delicate Condition, My Baby’s Daddy, Getting Even With Dad, Bringing Up Father, Dad, Da, and Mr. Mom.

TV Dads: Father Knows Best, American Dad, Make Room for Daddy, My Two Dads, Major Dad, Father of the Pride, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, The Feather and Father Gang, and My Three Sons.

On that subject, who are the Most Popular Sitcom Dads? And do sitcom dads reflect reality?

It’s not only people who have fathers; if there’s an area of expertise or a genre of entertainment, there’s someone who has been named the “father”: The Father of Medicine, Father of Mystery Writing, The Father of Modern Drama — and Galileo seems to have been especially fertile, fathering both Modern Astronomy and Modern Physics.

In some cases, though, the paternity is in dispute, as with the ongoing debates over the true Father of Modern Dentistry, Father of Modern Dance, and the Father of Chemistry.

And who is the Father of Science Fiction, H. G. Wells. author of The Invisible Man and War of the Worlds? Or Jules Verne, arthur of Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Underthe Sea?

And who is the Father of Rock? (How about we just say it was Buddy Holly and be done with it, okay? Okay!).

33 Uses for a Dad.

Father’s Day on Ebay.


(Note: This post was to have been my half of my second co-blogging post with the Presurfer on Friday — but I haven’t heard from him since Wednesday, and he hasn’t posted since Thursday, so, since today’s is Father’s Day, I’m going ahead with my part of it.

It’s not like Gerard to go this long without posting and without letting his readers know what’s going on, so I fear something’s wrong. If anyone out there knows anything, let me know, please.)

UPDATE: Presurfer is back up and running; it turns out to have been an ISP problem, which I can sympathize with. I’m just glad nothing bad happened …

It’s a Gas Gas Gas

Friday, June 17th, 2005

Scientists think they have discovered what’s behind the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle: Methane gas.

It seems that some bacteria in the deepest parts of those waters excrete methane gas, which can take solid form on the water’s surface, and which can blow up when ships and planes which pass over.

So this might be the answer: Not dimensional portals, not abduction-crazy aliens — just flatulent germs.

Can’t wait for the movie.

Some Quick, Various Things

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Shut Up, Klink: I’ve always had this joke on myself about how my brain is stuffed with thousands of bits of trivia, but I can never remember vital information. I keep saying how someday I’ll be in a car wreck and the ambulance techs will say, “Quick, what’s your blood type?”, and I’ll say, “I don’t know … but I do know that General Burkhalter on Hogan’s Heroes was played by Leon Askin — does that help at all?”

The reason I bring that up: Leon Askin died on June 3, at the age of 97 — like Eddie Albert last month, he was almost in George Burns territory.

Of course, he probably appreciated the success he achieved playing a Nazi officer on a goofy sitcom, but one of the real gold stars on his Report Card of Life was his participation in Steve Allen’s PBS series, “Meeting of the Minds”. This series involved Allen chatting with a group of historical characters, as played by actors. This would mean Cleopatra laughing it up with Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale exchanging witticisms with Plato.

I still remember Askin playing two characters: Karl Marx and Martin Luther. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, but I do remember Luther getting humorously huffy when one of the other guests accused him of “pontificating” … ! (Think about it … ha!)

Anyway, my point is: Enjoy the clownish roles, but remember that most actors accomplish so much more in their lives.

Hey, the old dude even had a website

Cats and Polecats: My old college buddy Spook back in Lubbock, a frequent contributor of material for my blogs, sends this anecdote:

My neighbor gave me a kitten a few weeks ago for the shop. That was fine with me as there’s a few mice around. The cat’s ten weeks old and did catch a mouse last week. It was time for the cat to move out in
the main shop as he’s a total pest. I tossed the food bowl , litter box and cat out in the shop and forgot about them.

A hour or so later I checked up on the cat to find him stretched out about four feet from his bowl watching a baby skunk chowing down on his food. I know for sure of three and maybe more in the shop. I called the wildlife rescue people and ask what to do… They said to ignore them and they’d leave in about 6 months. I’m not sure that’s a option.

They are good looking, jet black with artic white racing stripes.

later

I would just like to add: That’s your tax dollars at “work”: “Just ignore them and they’ll leave in about 6 months.”

Another Attack: I’m always mentioning cool stuff I see on G4TV’s Attack of the Show. Now it turns out they’ve added a blog, where they post, among other things, bunches and bunches of links (30 for today alone!) that didn’t make it onto the show, like this site of “alien drawings by childhood abductees”.

This blog definitely going in my Time-Killers blogroll (on my old blog, for now).

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Okay, that’s enough random stuff for now. I’ve got a really long “co-blogging” post scheduled for tomorrow, tentatively, with the Presurfer, so check back then.