Monday, November 30, 2009

Famous Last Words: Oscar Wilde Uttered His This Date In 1900

in a dingy hotel room in Paris, broke, dishonored, and mostly alone. His last words: "Either this wallpaper goes, or I do."

Being reminded of this today by some note somewhere on the web, I determined to seek out some few more gems in the vernacular "sang froid" (coincidentally, yet another circumstance for which the French do not possess an expression; who gnu?).

Hollywood 'stars' have a way with (last) words. For example, and one of my favorites, is Humphrey Bogart's last sortee: "I should never have switched from Scotch to martinis." The comic actor Ed Gwynne happened to be answering a question with his last breath. The questioner asked if dying was tough. Gwynne answered, classically: "Yeah, but not as tough as doing comedy." Tallulah Bankhead muttered "Codeine...bourbon..." Joan Crawford heard her nurse begin to pray for her and said "Dammit! Don't you DARE ask God to help me!" John Barrymore claims the marquee, though: "Die? Why my dear fellow. No Barrymore would ever endure something so conventional."

Romantics swoon when reminded that, in excruciating pain from arsenic poisoning, Napoleon still muttered the name of his beloved "Josephine" as he expired. The French do seem to have a gift for this sort of thing. Rabelais' last instruction to his posterity is iconic: "I owe much, I have nothing. The rest I leave to the poor." True to the death to his calling, the French grammarian Bouhours expounded: "I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct."

The foregoing, of course are examples of people who were at least aware they were in extremis. All in all, it's hard to top General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, killed in battle in 1864, whose last words (swear to gawd) were "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dis..."

Friday, November 27, 2009

This Week's Good Dog In Need Of A Home: "Tigger"

Name: TIGGER (here since 1/07/07)
DOB: May 2006 (approx)
Gender: ALL BOY!
Size: a compact 65 lbs. approx
Other dogs: No, at least not now
Cats: no
Kids: good
Profile: Like so many of our dogs, Tigger had to be brought to our facility because his owner was deployed to Iraq. It was a heartbreaking day as Tigger's owner told us it was his third tour of duty. He looked back and Tigger, "hope to see you again boy." Our best wishes are with PFC Anthony Jesse Aguilar...
Another of the big puppies at the Villalobos Rescue Center who would sure like to have a home. VRC does NOT adopt dogs to any applicant who already has a dog. They do NOT like to place their clients out-of-state, and they do NOT like unannounced visitors.

In lieu of X-mas/holiday presents, if anyone would want to send me any, please make a donation to these wonderful, amazing beasts and the good folks who care for them so mindfully..

Thursday, November 26, 2009

WKRP: "Turkeys Aweigh!"

Profound thanks/DOTOF&Trade; to Eli Cates, the indefatigable video surfer, for finding and then reminding me of this. This episode is, to me, the comic equivalent of Jean Shepard's "A Christmas Story."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Skateboarding Bulldog (English) Takes A Wii

I dunno if this is fixed, or if it's real. I have seen enough vid of skateboarding 'bullies' to believe this is true...But who cares, it's way kewl!

Uncle Woody, Your Friendly Handyman Explains Your Friend, The "Angle Stops"

In your home, under every sink and behind every toilet where there's running water, there's a simple valve that controls the flow of water to the faucet or tank-refiller. This valve is called an angle-stop. Paying occasional attention to these devices is a good way to prevent the necessity of spending many hours (and/or dollars) replacing them when they cease to function properly, and it also becomes necessary to repair or replace the fixtures the water supply of which they control.

Especially if they water in your system is "hard"--rich with minerals, salts, etc.--it is a good idea, every so often, to simply twist the valve from the open position to closed, and then open them again.

Unfortunately, if you have left this go for a while, when you endeavor to turn the stem of the valve, it may be frozen open--likely due to mineral build-up inside the valve. This will be evident if, when you try to turn the handle, it is stuck, or resists hand-loosening or tightening.

If this is the case, REMOVE the screw holding the 'handle' to the valve-stem, remove the handle itself (which is cheap-o, pot-metal at best, and too fragile to withstand the torque of a wrench), and turn the stem with a pair of channel-lock/slip-joint pliers.

Operate the valve frequently enough that it seems easy to turn. Do not lubricate. (In many, especially older homes, the valve is soldered ("sweated") to the supply line; in newer appliances, the valves are threaded.)

Do this for every angle-stop in your house, twice yearly (I do it when the clocks change).

Remember: "Righty = Tighty; Lefty = Loosy" for all threaded equipment except that which regulates gas-flow, which is always the reverse...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Homeless Pit: "Blue" Willow Needs a Home...

Name: WILLOW (here since 5/19/09)
DOB: July. 2008 approx.
Gender: male
Size: he's a very BIG boy, very tall.
Other dogs: good
Cats: no
Kids: to be determined

Profile: Poor Willow has now become another L.A. statistic. A stray dog and one of those "rare" blue dogs, he was found wandering in a not so good part of town. If not for the kindess of a woman walking her Cocker Spaniel, this gorgeous guy would have probably died on the street. Willow is a very affectionate dog but will also need a strong willed owner. He still has alot to learn as he acts like a typical teenager. But one thing that is for sure, he's ready to make your home a place to plant his roots. Afterall he is a "Willow"...

What a glorious looking beast! They're SO noble.

The folks at Villalobos Rescue Center do not like to adopt their dogs out-of-state, and do NOT place their dogs with anyone who already owns dogs, either.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Worked to Death: A video

I was not always an effete academic. Back in the late '70s and early '80s, I was in the construction bidness, a journeyman, Class A (non-residential) carpenter, working on bridges and high-rises. During that period of about 6 years, I nearly got killed on the job on three occasions that I know of. So the following has a special poignancy for me.

Lucky me! Just a few close calls:
#1: 1978--Climbing onto a scaffolding with my tools to go hang fascia board on the MicroSoft campus, my foot slipped on a patch of ice and I fell about 25 feet. I landed in a partially-frozen mud puddle that was about a foot deep, which absorbed most of the energy of the fall. It knocked the wind outta me, but in a little while, I got up, and picked up my tools, and went back up.

#2: 1979--Working on a bank in Bellevue Wa, the boom of a concrete-pumping crane over-balanced on it's pads, and toppled almost on top of me. I was tied-off, and jumped out of the way into space. I got a little cut up on rebar wire, and contused by the sudden stop against a column, but otherwise was okay.

#3: 1981: On a bridge outside of Santa Barbara, on the hiway over the mountains, I was jacking-up the bridge's falsework to grade, when the jack shifted an 1/8th of an inch and spat the 2-foot-square of half-inch steel that was between the load and the stud of the jack in my direction. It missed me by less than a foot. It sailed across the canyon like a deadly frisbee, close on 200 feet, and dug out a big chunk of sandstone. It happened so fast, if it had hit me, I'd have been dead before I knew what happened. I quit that job after that one...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Info: How To Connect your Computer to your Stereo...


This process can be significantly simplified by purchasing a cable of sufficient length that has a male 1/8" mini jack (headphones style) connector on one end and two male RCA connectors on the other end. This decreases the number of components required and also saves you a couple bucks.

Make sure to start with the lowest volume on both systems or you could damage your speakers.
While it is not necessary on modern systems, to be safe, turn off the computer and stereo until you're done connecting the cables.

Things You'll Need

RCA Cable

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Well, THAT Was Fun!

The Ancient Order of the Aging Curmudgeonly Librul Bloggers of the Middle Valley of the Rio Grande del Norte (AOACLBMVRGN) once again conducted one of its irregularly unscheduled gatherings to quaff suds, gnosh bar food, and to regale one another with war stories of the blogging variety.

Attending were:
Pat, one of the local/regulars, a high-school social studies teacher who manages two blogs, Family & Friends for political-educational-social chitchat, and one--Optimus-- whereupon he flogs his novel of the same name;

Russ, another of the local/regulars, who is a retired mathematician, and has one blog --Private Buffoon--but spends most of his time looking after his seriously ill wife;

OneFly, a visitor from Colorado, who maintains a golf-course and presides over a blog called Out of the Cornfield, where he posts notes and comments on the passing scene in/around Steamboat Springs, as well as his quite remarkable photographs; OF (Tom) brought two of his pals down along with him, and, naturally

Y'r O'b'd't S'v't --whose bloggy enterprises comprise an ever-expanding empire devoted to banality and trivia.
Our little froup (WAAAIT) comprises a wide variety of interests and experience, and is focussed on the demonstrable fact that truth and facts have a Liberal bias.

This was our third or fourth meeting. We'd happily expand the membership, for which there are no other requirement than that aspiring participant be 1) moderately conversant in the important issues of the day/week/month/year/decade, and 2) a convivial conversationalist 3) with a taste for libational spirits.

If you'd like to be notified of the next gathering of the AOACLBMVRGN, leave word in the comments, and I'll inform you of future plans.

All of which was a cap to an interesting experience: a 90-minute session in which Y'O'S posed "nekkid" for an art-photographer from NYC, whose project as I understand it is to catalog in some way the many shapes and stages of physiological decline and decay among middle-aged (and older) males. I am, of course, ideally suited for such a display...

The fotog shot with real 6"x6" color film with a pretty nice Mamiya camera. After developing them, she then digitizes the negatives (iirc). She said she'll send me jpegs.

The fee she paid me for posing covered the beer and chile-cheez fries consumed later at Spins--a sort of sports bar that bragged they have 'just about every beer under the sun, but which, upon inquiry, turned out NOT to have Bass Ale...So, staying in character, I drank Arrogant Bastard, a nice, bitter, hoppy Ale by the Stone Brewing Company.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Take Pity on A Pit-bull! What's Not To Love?

Name: BUTTERCUP (here since 10/12/08)
DOB: approx. October 2005
Gender: female
Size: not too big and not too small
Other dogs: decent, but may need to be the only dog in the home.
Cats: to be determined
Kids: to be determined, but we think good.

Profile: Firstly don't shoot us for the name. A Pit Bull named Buttercup? But honestly she is one. Talk about sweet and cute and cuddly. Despite her ordeal surviving through yet another disaster in Louisiana, this little blue brindle cuddle bug is happy with life. She would make a great play time buddy yet a great lay around the house dog. Click here to visit a page where there are photos and bios of Buttercup's kennel-mates.
If you're a dog-lover, and especially if a Pitbull has ever stolen your heart (at which they are incredibly adept), your heart has to go out to the folks a Villalobos Tescue Center. Among the many good deeds for these misunderstood and noble beast-companions, the Center took in 40 abandoned dogs from the wreckage and turmoil and loss of Hurrican Katrina, in 2005.
Villalobos Rescue Center works ceaselessly to give pitbulls another chance in life. Each and every dog taken in gets spayed or neutered and is given any medical treatment necessary. We work patiently to reacclimatize fearful dogs to the loving care of a human, so that they may eventually be adopted. In some cases, these dogs have never had a kind word or touch, and it is a slow process. After determining temperaments and compatibility factors, we begin that long search for the perfect home.

The placement process is extremely slow. Unfortunately, pit bulls are their own worst enemy — their loyalty and devotion make them the perfect victim. Have we already forgotten about Petey? He was the loyal ring-eyed dog of the Little Rascals. Yes, Petey was a pit bull! You see the dogs themselves haven't changed — we have!

We've turned these all-American family dogs into the killing machines. It is our responsibility to turn this around. We owe it to them. After all, aren't they man's best friend?

On any given day, VRC cares for between 150 and 200 pit bulls here at our 10-acre facility. As you can imagine, the costs associated with running an operation of this magnitude are overwhelming. Our monthly operating expenses have now increased to $15,000, and our vet bills stay at an average of $5,000.

Here nestled in the hills of the high desert, dogs who have suffered in silence will never hear another gun shot or the siren of a pursuing police car. Every night they will fall asleep to the yipping of coyotes and the soothing hoot of the owl. They are safe and content. The only thing missing is a home of their own. Please help us to help them.
Click here to donate or learn how to help.

And watch the story all this week on Animal Planet...

Pit Bulls and Parolees : TV : Animal Planet

Pit-bull and pit-mixes account for almost 60% of all dogs euthanized every year. They are sweet, smart, affectionate, loyal, and loving.

There's no such thing as a "bad" dog. They get made that way.

Handy Information: How To Chug A Beer

Do your friends make disparaging remarks about your masculinity whenever you fail to chug a beer? Do you feel the need to prove your virility by downing beers faster than any of your buddies? Well read on, and discover secret techniques to humiliate your friends and reclaim your manhood.

The Basics:
Buy some beer. Only do this if you're of legal age (21 in America, 20 in Japan and Iceland, 18 or 19 in Canada depending on province, and around 18-19 most everywhere else... Except France, Netherlands and Denmark, which is 16). Don't bother with good (expensive) beer. If you're drinking it this way, you probably don't care about taste. If you care about taste, this article may not be for you. Read How to Drink Beer.
Practice with water. Your "training" will be more effective if you have your wits about you.
Let the beer warm up a little. It helps if the beer is not ice-cold (talk about brain freeze) but don't drink warm beer, either, or you'll end up with a stomach full of foam.[1]
Let the beer build up bubble if you pour it. Then wait for the bubbles to subside. You want to get rid of as many bubbles as possible because that'll make the beer easier to drink quickly. While you're waiting, the beer will warm up a bit (see previous step).
Right before drinking, hit the bottom of the glass on the table. This releases more carbon dioxide.
Lean your head back slightly. Open your throat, take a half breath right before drinking, and then swing the glass or can quickly so the beer rushes to the back of your throat. Swallow right before the beer actually hits your throat (see video above). Then let gravity take over; the beer should essentially pour down your throat. Try to keep your tongue low and out of the way. Alternatively, you can take a big breath and breathe all your oxygen out of your lungs. Once your throat is clear, tilt back.
Crush the can. If you're chugging from a can, crush it from back to front, as if you're squeezing a tube of toothpaste. This should help you push the beer out of the can and into your mouth faster than it would normally flow. If you squeeze too early or too close to your mouth, you'll trap some beer in the can. Twist the beer can as you crush it.[2]
Slam the empty container down, letting your friends know that you drank a beer faster than they did.
Lagniappe: (For the Advanced Chugger, there are more variations on the page...)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coming Home

This day, commemorating the armistice ending the carnage of WW I, SHOULD be celebrated as International Peace Day!" Please, don't "thank" us veterans. Remember the ones who didn't come home, and help the ones coming back injured. But don't thank us. Just be glad to see us.

And work for peace...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What's in a name?

My blog-crush, the redoubtable, charming and loquacious PENolan, the Menopausal Stoner, had this up on on her blog today in a wholly different context. My family sur-name, in its ur-original language out on the western Steppes, would have been understood as vernacular equivalent of "Hempster." On the family crest, there's a little bird--the 'konopi'-- which feeds on the pests that might attack the hemp plants. Which might explain my personal proclivities...

Without hemp, the whole regimen of trans-oceanic exploration and conquest of the rest of the planet from Europe would/could never have occurred...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Meet Budreau

He's an American Pit Bull Terrier. Via Wiki:
The American Pit Bull Terrier is the product of interbreeding between terriers and a now-extinct breed of bulldogs to produce a dog that combined the gameness of the terrier with the strength and athleticism of the bulldog. These dogs were initially bred in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and arrived in the United States with immigrants from these countries. In the United States these dogs were used as catch dogs for semi-wild cattle and hogs, to hunt, to drive livestock, and as family companions;[1] however, some were selectively bred for their fighting prowess,[2] and starting in the early 20th century, they began to replace the bull terrier as the "dog of choice" for dog fighting in the United States.[3]

The United Kennel Club (UKC) was the first registry to recognize the American Pit Bull Terrier. UKC founder C. Z. Bennett assigned UKC registration number 1 to his own dog, "Bennett’s Ring", as an American Pit Bull Terrier in 1898.[1]
(I'll leave tthe curiosity of the reader making the remaining links to which the end-note numbers refer. They're on the Wiki page--W)
American pit bull terriers today successfully fill the role of companion dog, police dog,[4][5][6] and therapy dog;[7] however, American pit bull terriers in general have a higher tendency towards dog aggression[8] and constitute the majority of dogs used for illegal dog fighting in the United States.[9] The fighting reputation of pit bull-type dogs led the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1996 to relabel pit bull terriers as "St. Francis Terriers" (not to be confused with the "Terrier" mascot of St. Francis College in New York) so that they might be more readily adopted;[10] 60 temperament-screened dogs were adopted until the program was halted after several of the newly adopted dogs killed cats.[11] The New York City Center for Animal Care and Control tried a similar approach in 2004 by relabeling their pit bull terriers as "New Yorkies", but dropped the idea in the face of overwhelming public opposition.[12]

Budreau's a handsome, tawny, noble, head-out-the-window, 75-lb lap-dog. He loves the car and especially the truck. He sits beside me 'girl-friend close' at times. He seems to crave the contact and proximity. He loves to be UP, too, looking down. He'll rest atop the tallest accessible space available. They're enthusiastic dogs, and energetic, and they love to SPRING off their hind legs. If Budreau's leg had not been damaged (before he came to me; I don't know how it happened), I doubt I could keep him inside a six-foot concrete fence.

I will attest that, although he is the sweetest, most loving, most attentive dog I have ever had, and if I vet you, he'll be friends with all people, he's not good about other dogs.

So I have to keep him and Hanna seperate. And that is another story...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

High Anxiety

From LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) comes a petition of some immediacy:
Don't Let Congress Censor Discussion of Legalization

As soon as this Thursday, November 5, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee could vote on an amendment that will legally prevent some of the government's top advisers from even discussing the idea of legalizing or decriminalizing drugs as a solution to the failed "war on drugs."

Yes, you read that right. The Senate just might censor its own policy advisers from giving science-based advice.

The censorship amendment's author, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), is trying to attach the speech prohibition onto an otherwise positive bill that will create a blue ribbon commission to study our nation's failed criminal justice and drug policies.

The commission is supposed to make recommendations for ways to improve the system, but how can they do that with the blindfold that Sen. Grassley wants to put on them?

Please take action below and tell your senators to oppose the censorship amendment!
You'd KNOW that that ancient, tooth-sucking, censorious shitbag Grassley was in in on this, wouldn't you?

Follow the link to the petition. Sign UP!