Saturday, April 30, 2011

Happy Spring

No time to post much this morning. Just happy everything is greening up and growing out there.

So I'll just give you a quick flower, one I shot in Charlotte, Vermont  two days ago.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Sifting Through Tornado Photos

One of the many awful things about those extreme tornadoes in the South this week is that the storms literally scattered residents' memories to the winds.

Photos found after the Tuscaloosa tornado
this week
Close to 300 people died in the storms.

Many of the survivors lost everything, including treasured family photographs. Many pieces of homes in devastated Tuscaloosa, Alabama,  probably including photos and important papers, rained down from the sky as many as 60 miles away. The tornado was that powerful.

As a small way to help, and as a memorial of sorts, a Facebook page of found photographs from the tornado has appeared.

People who found the photos are scanning them and posting them on the page. Maybe some people will find the photos and claim them. It might help a little.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Flooding Nails Me.

My property is washing away.

Up here in St. Albans, we've had over the past couple of days the most intense spring rainstorms in memory, and there's lots of flooding going on. A flash flood came out of nowhere Tuesday night and swept across my lawns, gardens and driveway, really causing some damage.

Flash flooding across my yard almost took out
this spruce tree
As I write this a day and a half later, a new batch of severe storms is sweeping in, and will surely compound the problems.

I can't complain, of course. I just got a little taste of the horror and destruction from what is probably the worst April storm in the nation's history. Close to 100 people have died in 200 tornadoes and incredibly flash floods, mostly in the South and Midwest.

But of course that same vast storm struck Vermont, just not as severely, thank gawd, as elsewhere.

I got home from work Tuesday evening in a thunderstorm. The storms kept waxing and waning, but kept up continuously for hours. Sometimes we'd get a tremedous gust of wind. Sometimes a little hail, then booming thunder.

Things got out of hand around 9:30 p.m. A tremendous rush of rain hit, more intense than I've seen in a long time. Then the hail started banging down. Tons of it, mostly dime size or smaller, but some nickel sized.

Watch the video of my deck to see for yourself:

Once the hail subsided, I went outside with a head lamp because I heard the brook roaring like I'd never heard it before. I wanted to see if the culvert holding my driveway up was intact. It sort of was, but it looked threatened.

As I stood in the darkness, lightning flashing around and thunder booming across the valley, I heard the sound of rushing water and rolling rocks up the hill to my left. I turned and saw a foot high wave of water, with a tangle of branches and rocks in it, headed straight at me. I got out of the way just in time as it rushed through.

The flash flood lasted less than a half hour, but by the time it was done, the embankment near my driveway slipped down the hill, there was a major washout that almost killed one of my spruce trees and my lawn was a mess of mud, branches and rocks, some the size of bowling balls.

All things considered, this is a minor inconvenience, not a disaster. But I'm so behind on work this year that this will delay me further.

But every time I start whining like that I remember.  I suffered no mega disaster like so many people across the country had this spring.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dogs, Babies, Bubbles, Viral

I know, I know, a lot of you have probably seen the video in this post already, but I can't help putting it up here, because it's a day brightener. You take what you can get, right?

In the video, we have a little girl, Molly, who is a bit over nine months old, and Bennie, a German Shepard/beagle mix who discovers how much fun it is to hunt bubbles. Molly thinks it's hysterical.

The video has gone totally viral, with well over a million hits and coverage on the news shows, Bennie and Molly are boffo!

Hard to say who's having the most fun in the video.

You gotta watch:

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Drunk Guy and Your Car

I found an interesting video of people reacting to a very drunk valet. Watch the video to the end because you get a very effective message.  They should run videos like this in the United States, too.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dramatic Lake Champlain Attacks Road

As I've written about a few times already, Lake Champlain in Vermont is a foot above flood stage.
Waves from flooding Lake Champlain crash onto Route 2
in North Hero, Vt. in strong winds Saturday.

Saturday,  the wind really cranked up, gusting to around 50 mph near the lake. Of course there were huge waves as a result. The best view I found was waves crashing onto Route 2 in North Hero, in the Champlain Islands.

I took the video you see, below. Kind of looks like the coast right before a hurricane roars ashore, doesn't it?

Waves driven by strong winds surge ashore along flooding Lake
Chanplain in Alburg, Vt. Saturday.

Easter Weirdness

I don't know about you, but aren't Easter traditions a bit, well, odd?

As far as I'm concerned, Easter Bunnies
are weird and scary
Giant rabbits hiding eggs around your property? That sounds like a bad acid trip. Is that the way we want to raise our kids?

Besides, what if the kids don't find all the eggs. Eggs get a little gross just staying there out on the lawn for days, no? Stinky, too.

Rabbits procreate like, well, rabbits, so I'd hate to have these giant rabbits get together for a little ooh la la. I don't want the world overrun by giant rabbits. It would be almost as bad as in that old money Ghostbusters, when the Stay Puft Marshmallow man threatened the world.

Can you really blame the kids in the video below, when said giant rabbit shows up outside their window? I'd think it's the end of the world. Watch for yourself:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hey Mechanic, My Car's Not Handling Well, Why?

I found this little video out of Germany, where some motorist appears to be a oblivious to a teeny, tiny little problem with the right front driver's side tire.

Remember, Driving Public: It's always a good idea to keep your vehicle well maintained and road worthy. You want the car to handle well, unlike our friends in the video below:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring flooding/cold continues

Thank gawd today in Vermont was nice.

Yesterday made it seem like spring in the Green Mountain State was cancelled for lack of interest. Believe me, there's plenty of interest.

It snowed off and on all day. Not much, just some in the air. A few areas got a dusting of snow. It was windy and cloudy, and waves on the flooding Lake Champlain gushed cold dashes of water onto unsuspecting people along the lakeshore. was not a nice spring day in Burlington.

Just goes to prove how fickle spring is in Vermont. Below is a video I shot of yesterday's miserable weather along the lake, as waves slapped into a pedestrian walkway.

Ahh..Ahh... CHOO!!! A Springtime Video

My nose has been running a bit more than usual lately, a sure sign of spring. Yes, snots are a sign of spring, just as much as gorgeous daffodils and robins trilling happy morning songs.

When I saw the video in this post, below, my eyes really got itchy and I started sneezing. Just the vicarious look at springtime in its glory. Talk about pollen! That is one horny tree in the video, which was shot in late March in Lewisburg, Tennessee:


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yankovic and Gaga Dream Team

Great news for all music fans!

Weird Al Yankovich
Weird Al Yankovic and Lady Gaga have settled their differences. Lady Gaga has declared that she likes Yankovic's parody of her song "Born This Way," and will allow Yankovic to put "Perform This Way" on his album and promote the song.

I'm so relieved. I'm sure most of you have heard Gaga's "Born This Way" since each  hit radio station in the country appears compelled the play the song roughly 27,387,230,399 times a day.

Yankovic's "Perform This Way" picks on Lady Gaga's, um, unique style of dress and style. Sample lyrics:

"I'll poke your eye out with a dress like this
Back off and enjoy the show.
I'm sure my critics will say
It's a grotesque display
Well, they can bite me because I perform this way.
I might be wearing Swiss cheese
Or maybe covered with bees
It doesn't mean I'm crazy
I perform this way. "

You have to admit these lyrics are beautiful, deep, and meaningful, no?

Watch the video below. It's not the official video yet, and it was made at the time when Yankovic thought Gaga wouldn't let him put the song on the album. So ignore the little note at the beginning.

It is so worth watching, just to read all the lyrics. Honestly. It will surely change your life:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vermont Stage Co.'s "Sylvia" And My Future With Dogs

Last night, I saw the excellent preview performance of the Vermont Stage Company's latest production, "Sylvia," and it got me thinking about my inevitable future with dogs.

"Sylvia" is about a guy named Greg (played by Stephen Bradbury) going through a mid-life crisis who finds a dog named Sylvia. He brings Sylvia home, much to the dismay of his wife Kate (played by Melissa Lourie)

The dog, Sylvia, is played hilariously by Kathryn Blume.  She articulates the thoughts of the dog as she becomes established in the household and changes the relationships with everybody involved.
Vermont Stage Company is presenting
the excellent play "Sylvia" through May 8

Go see this play. It's sweet and funny and touching. It's cleverly written, and, as usual for Vermont Stage, it's done just beautifully. It runs through May 8.

The whole play is deceptively simple, but it really gets you thinking about how something as seemingly simple as an ordinary dog changes people and their relatonships in complex, sometimes scary ways.

Jeff, who by the way, is the set designer for "Sylvia,"  and I are thinking about getting a dog, and the play made me think about how this future dog will change us. I don't think it will be anything as dramatic as in "Sylvia." I won't give the play's plot away, but there are scary moments within some longstanding relationships in the production.

I haven't had a dog in decades. Jeff is an expert at dog companionship.  When a dog moves into our home, I first and foremost want to do right by the dog. The dog needs to be loved, safe and happy. I want to ensure the dog trusts me, and knows that I have his or her best interests at heart.

At the same time, I don't want to let the dog take over my whole life, or change my relationships in any negative way.

I told Jeff he'll have to train the dog, and train me to be a great companion to the dog.

It goes without saying the dog will change my relationship. At the intermission of "Sylvia" I was growing fearful about what a dog might do to my life.  Will it be a grenade that blows up everything I've established in terms of my domestic bliss? But at the end of the performance, however, I was reassured. I just have to be open to change and love, at least if "Sylvia"'s playwright, A. R. Gurney is correct.

A dog is without guile. He or she won't really try to undermine my life, or my relationships, my sense of balance. He or she will just want to join my "pack" and be happy.

Just by being there, the dog will have effects on my life. It turns out it's up to me, not Fido to ensure the dog will change my life in a positive way.

I don't know what kind of dog we'll get or when we'll get him or her. The more I think about it, though, the more I find the challenge of having a dog companion incredibly appealing. I can't wait to meet him or  her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That Tornado Was Hungry!

We've all seen on the news those  horrible stories from survivors of all the tornadoes that hit the nation last week. (Bad news: More big tornadoes are forecast for the Midwest today)

Anyway, on the lighter side,  I found the witness account below from a guy who was in a car when a tornado hit. It was his lunchtime, and the worst thing about the tornado was, it stole his hamburger! SRSLY!

I love the Southern accent, too. "I was scaid!" Well, I'm glad the guy is OK, just a little hungry. I want to buy him a lunch.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Animal Sounds: Today's Time Waster

Today, I stumbled on a video of a very normal looking young woman who sits in front of a camera and does remarkably good animal impressions.

She must have practiced for years. It's actually worth taking a watch. So get away from those work spreadsheets, and and watch the inanity, uh, insanity:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

At Least There Are No Tornadoes in Vermont

We here in Vermont have been complaining about the weather, as usual.
A large tornado roars into Raleigh, N.C.
Saturday afternoon.
This weekend featured wind, cold rain, and a little sleet and snow. Today is supposed to be showery, windy, cold, maybe some hail. Lovely.

But at least we haven't been getting tornadoes, so we have nothing to complain about. Those storms over the past few days have been incredible. And they really have been attacking cities.

It was amazing to watch a feed from WRAL, a television station in Raleigh, as they filmed a large tornado sweeping through the city's downtown. They have an amazing time lapse video of the tornado coming at WRAL's building.

Just scary stuff.

The Charlotte News & Observer also has a lot of tragic, incredible photos of the storm and damage. 

Here's a video of one of the tornadoes in Sanford, North Carolina around some shopping centers.  Go to the mall, get a tornado, apparently.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Month of Fails

Oops! Almost forgot. Every month I find a video that compiles the top fails, flubs, accidents and stupid moments of the previous month.

The March episode came out some days ago. I have it below. Watch it to prove that your day is going better than many other people's. At least better than the people in the video:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Don't Get Too Excited About Summer

The trouble with spring in Vermont, if you can call it trouble, is people just get too excited about it. They think if it gets above freezing, it's summer.

Exhibit A is the photo in this post of some young guys swimming in Lake Champlain. I took the photo Tuesday. The air temperature at the time the photo was taken was 52 degrees. The water temperature was 34 degrees.

So you tell me. Were these guys jumping the gun a bit? Jeez!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Protest Had a Good Beat/Easy to Dance To

Yesterday, I covered the visit of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to Burlington, Vermont.  for the Burlington Free Press.

He was in Vermont up the GOP base. Which isn't that huge, given the state's liberal reputation. But Priebus noted Wisconsin, where he's from, was perceived as pretty liberal, too, and the Republicans still managed to take over in the 2010 election.  So for Vermont's GOP,  there's always hope.

Fun fact: Priebus noted that if you took the vowels out of his name you end up with RNC PR BS. So maybe he really was born to be chairman of the RNC.
Demonstrations protest against RNC Chair
Reince Priebus Wednesday in Burlington, Vt.

Anyway,  there was the inevitable demonstration against Priebus's visit because some people are unhappy with the Republicans' and Priebus's views of labor unions.

But of course, this is Vermont, so the demonstration had to be entertaining. Fun. Definitely not negative. It had to have a good vibe.

So the roughly 125 marchers were fronted by a clot of drummers who ensured the whole protest had a good beat and was easy to dance to. Kind of like you'd see years ago when Dick Clark was hyping a hot new hit on American Band Stand.

One motorist, in fact, stopped me as I was covering the protest, notebook in hand. She wondered what was going on, as the music was so good. She seemed disappointed when I told her it was a demonstration, and you probably couldn't download the music on iTunes.

At the protest, we also had a woman blowing on a trumpet, super badly. It sounded like a combination of a million party balloons being deflated and a tornado hitting a high school's music and band room. The crowd chanted "Fee fi fo fum, inviting Priebus sure was dumb," which certainly fell short of the oratory of say, Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. But the group's heart was in it, so it was OK.

And besides, none of the 220 or so Republicans listening to Priebus thought his visit was dumb, so I guess we had another difference of opinion there.

So, Burlington had another little exercise in Free Speech. Priebus did a nice job firing up the state's GOP, and the demonstrators who are against the Republicans also did a nice job firing themselves up.

It was a relief to see and hear two opposing viewpoints with neither side resorting to much anger or negativity.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Horrible Fetish Producer Sued, Thank Gawd.

This is really a new low. A video company in Florida is under the gun for paying homeless men $50 to be beaten by scantily dressed women for fetish videos, according to the Associated Press in Florida.

The article, by Tamara Lush, a great reporter who used to be a coworker of mine at the Burlington Free Press in Vermont, says some of the men suffered some pretty nasty injuries.

Obviously, these videos were sold, but what sicko would want to buy them? Everything is wrong with this.  There's violence. Vulnerable people are being exploited. It's disgusting. Making money through beating up people?

I'm all for sexual turn-ons, if that's your cup of tea, but there are limits.

To be fair, the video company says it did nothing wrong, and that people are trying to make him look bad to get money. However, homeless advocates say the victims' stories are consistent with each other, and with the advertisements for the videos.

It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit proceeds and whether the homeless people who say they were beaten will get any compensation.

In the meantime, I will advocate for non-violent, private sexual content, thank you very much. Ugh.

Yeah, I sound like a prude, but it's better than getting hurt. Or hurting someone, no?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is This Kid a Terrorist?

There's a weird video making the rounds, of TSA agents in some airport really scrutinizing a six year old kid. The video is at the bottom of this post.

I have no idea what the circumstances are in the scene, but the girl really doens't look like a terrorist to me. And yes, I've been known to call kids little terrorists.
TSA searches of kids, while necessary, I
guess, give me the willies

I guess the kid was drug tested, too. Again, there could be things that I don't know about from this video, but is it possible this kid planned to blow up the airport, but was too addled on crack or oxycontine to pull it off? I kinda doubt it.

Or is it just a random search, where they pick every sixth person to be their search target and our six year old was the lucky winner?

You know how some people are afraid of flying? I'm not. I'm fine once I'm on the plane, but I'm afraid of airports. Too confusing, too much security, too many rules. That's why I don't fly much.

Here's the vid:

Monday, April 11, 2011

All That Snow Shoveling, Gone

 "Ah, it finally nice out. An' tasty bugs I eat. Da flies, day juicy," said Darlusz Zabagaiski, the Polish frog that lives with me here in St. Albans, Vermont, who says he's my muse.
Me standing next to a snowbank I shoveled, with
Darlusz the frog over my left shoulder, in Feb.

I was doing yard work yesterday in the 65 degree sunshine, watching the last of the snow melt and the buds finally begin to swell on the trees. There's even hints of green on some warm, sunny patches of my lawn.

"You shovel da snow all winter, and for what? It all go. Why you bother," Dalusz said, sipping a Diet Coke to wash down an early season mosquito. He was next to remnants of what had been an immense snow bank this past winter.

Well, we had to get out of the driveway this winter. You expected us to hibernate all winter,?" I asked the frog.

"Yes," was his response.

My shoulder is still killing me from hefting snow onto what was an eight or nine foot snowbank at the spot where Darlusz was resting. Now, it was just a tiny, dirty patch of snow, destined to disappear in hours under the onslaught of 65 degree air and sunshine.
 The same snowbank yesterday, with Darlusz, after most of it
melted in the warm spring weather.

"Lots of things that take work go away. You have to deal with it," I told Darlusz.

"It OK, he said. You make snowbank, it melt, dare's water, da bugs grow dare, and I have da lunch," Darlusz said, smiling.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bad Eyebrows

I found a random Web site that showed people with strange eyebrows.
Add caption

There's a Web site for everything, isn't there.

I stopped on the eyebrow site because I'm fascinated by people who start out looking perfectly fine and make themselves look ridiculous.

Do they want attention? Have a skewed sense of what is attractive? Want to be ugly on purpose?

I can't complain about these people too much, though. They're not hurting anybody. Well, except maybe  the guy with profanity tattooed onto his eyebrows.

So go ahead and make your eyebrows weird if you want. Just don't expect me to pay you too many compliments.

There's no limit on how people want to mutiliate themselves, I suppose.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Truly Bizarre Bonnie Tyler Cover

That '80s song, "Total Eclipse of the Heart," by Bonnie Tyler is certainly an odd duck. All that overwrought drama, crashing drums, overproduced orchestration is a wonder to behold. Who could top that?
Hurra Torpedo, "The world's greatest kitchen appliance band."

Well, an outfit called Hurra Torpedo could. They've done a rather, um, novel cover of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" that involves incredibly bad singing, and -- even better, smashed appliances as musical instruments.


The band bills itself as "the world's leading kitchen appliance rock group," and I surely can't argue with that.

I especially like the band member who's pants are falling off smashing a kitchen range with a what looks like a sledgehammer. This is a gem:

Musician Goes to the Dogs

Meet Tucker, in the video below, who is quite a pianist/singer.

Tucker's family says he practices at least three or four times a day, but he's not getting better at it, unfortunately.

Still, he's better than a lot of the pop tarts with their auto-tuned moaning I hear on Top 40 radio.

See for yourself in the video. (Hat tip to Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish for alerting me to this)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Driving Wreckage

After a tough winter, it's understandable that people are driving around in dented, battered and mechancally iffy cars and trucks.

All those icy roads, collisions, potholes and frost heaves do take a toll. For instance, I just spent $400 on a new wheel bearing for my Toyota Tacoma yesterday.

But as the following video shows, some people don't abandon their vehicles when they get too battered. We end up with the the following scene on a Russian highway. Don't ask that guy for a ride!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Vermont's Fitful Spring Continues

Spring is always an unpredictable time of year. Yesterday, a drenching rain soaked everything thoroughly, preventing me from really doing much landscape work and warm season prepping around my house in St. Albans, Vermont.
Wet trees in my yard shine in the sun as a sleet and rain shower
draws to a close last evening

Toward evening, the sun came out, and I was tempted to head outside and get some work done.

But it was still awfully wet, and that black cloud off to the northwest look ominous.

Sure enough, the cloud came overhead and unleashed a torrent of rain and sleet. It only lasted five minutes before the sun reappeared. As the remaining sleet slanted down through the sun in the gusty winds, the trees looked flash frozen, but it was just millions of water droplets glinting in the sun.
A highway near my house gleams in the evening sun after a shower,
contrasting with dark, wet trees and shrubs

I gave up on working outside with the new onslaught of water from the sky. But everything seemed newly washed and fresh and ready to turn spring green and grow toward another lush summer.

It was chilly, the fallen sleet crunched underfoot, but new green shoots struggled up through the muddy ground.

Finally, despite a cold wind, it felt like spring really had a plan to finally arrive.

I went inside and a weather forecaster on television confirmed a warm spell is due in a few days.
Daffodil plants just coming up in my yard gleam in a post
shower evening sun last evening. 

The dark grays of winter will slowly fade, as will the remaining, dirty patches of snow in the woods.  The green is coming. I can feel it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

American Top 40!!!!!!!

It's a chore, sometimes, driving through rural Vermont if you don't have decent music in the car, and you have to rely on radio stations to keep you entertained.  Consider my experience as I drove the two hours home from Rutland to St. Albans the other night:

Hmm, the oldies station. Click:
The Carpenters wail, "Don't you remember you told me you love me baby. Baby, baby, baby baby, oh baybeeee!!"

Click. The top 40 station.
Some pop tart's on: "Sticks and Stones will break my bones but chains and whips excite me."

A country station?
".....I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights...."

A familiar radio jingle: .American..Top 40!!!!!"
It was a rerun, of all things, of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem from April 5, 1986.
Casey Kasem kept me company the
other night with a 1986 blast from the past

Wow, a time warp from the 1980s. I need somebody with big hair and parachute pants, pronto!

I quickly got immersed in Casey's minutae of the chart toppers of 1986.

This particular Top 40, had two differents songs with the same name, Casey tells us, both called "I Can't Wait."  What fun! I can't wait to hear them, to see if I remember the songs

I do remember them! Stevie Nicks angrily warbles through one of the "I Can't Wait" songs, over a background of urgent '80s era thunks and clanks and fake drums. Fun Fact: Her "I Can't Wait" is off her "Rock A Little " album. "Rock A Little" is also the current name of Nick's official Web site.

Turns out I recalled the other "I Can't Wait,"  by a now-forgotten group called Nu Shooz. I actually like this danceable song, even if it does sound a bit like a really bad earthquake at a wind chime factory. It turns out Nu Shooz is still going strong, though their sound has changed to something they call pop/jazz/cinema. The reviews look good, though.

Another blast from the past follows almost immediately after "I Can't Wait as Casey plays something called "Beat's So Lonely," by Charlie Sexton, who, when he was on the chart in April, 1986, was a 17-year old wunderkind who apparently was on his way to being a huge superstar.

I hadn't  heard of Sexton since 1986, though I've learned, upon looking him up, is that he is still a well-respected musician, band members for big acts like Bob Dylan, and has been producing many hit records. So good for him!

I remember loving the song "Beats so Lonely" in 1986, but upon hearing it again the other night, it sounded so overwrought. Which is what you'd expect from a 17-year old.

Then it was time for the highlight of the snow, the Long Distance Dedication. It was from a guy from North Dakota, who was sending it out to his wife, who presumably lived in the guy's house, so there wasn't much of a distance to carry.

No matter. Mr. Fargo wrote that he was cleaning out his garage and found some eight track tapes, one of which featured Bobby Vinton's song, "I Love How You Love Me."
Bobby Vinton helped soothe my drive home the other night

Good gawd, I thought that song was so cheesy and hokey back in my wild semi-youthful days in 1986. Casey Kasem sure is old school, I thought.

Then the song played. It immediately made me think of my lover, and I melted. What a beautiful tune. Yes, it's cheesy as hell,  but since it conjures up great thoughts, what the hell.

Radio stations obviously play Casey Kasem reruns to appeal to our nostalgia, of course. That's OK. Indulging in "American Top 40" gives us a chance to indulge in assessing where we've been, where we're going, and provides a soundtrack to get the juices flowing with those thoughts.

I see the musicians in the 1986 Top 40 countdown have also evolved and grown and changed, so we're all in this together.  As I neared home, Van Halen's song "Why Can't This Be Love" blasted from my truck's radio (The biggest mover within the countdown!,"  Casey gushed)

I pulled into the driveway, took one last look at 1986, and pronounced myself happy to be home, alive and well in 2011.

A Touching Anti-Bullying ad

The following video is making some major rounds on the blogosphere and I'm going to join in, because the more the message spreads, the better.  It's an Irish public service announcement fighting anti-gay bullying.

Regular readers of my previous blog at will know how much I rail against such bullying. It's nice to see this very effective, touching, in every sense of the world, video, below.  

The kids are alright.

Best "Ode to Joy" Creativity Award

Check out this cool video from a Japanese advertisement. Bet you've never heard "Ode to Joy" played like this This video is the best time waster of the week.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vermont Winter Finally Dead?

Yesterday, up here in St. Albans, Vermont, I celebrated the fact that a snowstorm that was to have socked the area Friday never materialized.
Some crocuses blooming at my St. Albans, Vt.
house on Saturday

Instead of shoveling snow, there was an opportunity to get some work done outdoors preparing for the growing season

The weather was mediocre, but I celebrated the fact that at least we've graduated to something akin to the normal spring fitful atmosphere. The sun, when it was out, was warm, and the clouds billowed like they do in the summer.

But those clouds sometimes blew a few chilly gusts of wind, and spit out a few raindrops, and snowflakes in the higher spots.
At sunset, streamers of rain and snow coming from a cloud c
creatred this wispy view

Still, it was a great alternative to winter. The remaining snow on the ground was melting fast, and it looks like it will stay warm enough for the next week for that slow thaw to continue. Rejoice!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lawmaker Drinks to Montana

Every once in awhile, a politician comes along that has a viewpoint so novel, so bold, that you have to sit up and take notice.

Meet Montana lawmaker, and bar owner Alan Hale, who caused a big stir last week by essentially saying tough DWI laws are a bad idea. 

Such laws "are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years," Hale said.
Montana lawmaker Alan Hale

Or a way of death. It all depends on your perspective.

Fun fact: Another person named Alan Hale played the skipper on "Gilligan's Island." The Gilligan's Island Hale also owned a restaurant/bar called "The Lobster Barrell" for a time in the 1970s and 1980s.

Anyway, in a big, wide open rural state like Montana, Hale reasoned, how the hell do you get to a bar to drink other than driving?

Hale didn't get into the concept of designated driver, but, hey, leave the picky details to the bureaucrats. A lawmaker like Hale is the big idea guy.

Maybe he's on to something. A lot of people are on drugs, too, and they sometimes break into homes to steal stuff to buy the drugs. You've got to get the drugs somehow, right? So why is breaking and entering illegal? By preventing drug addicts from breaking into your house and stealing your electronics, aren't we destroying the drug addicts' way of life?

Hale, who hasn't been granting interviews, is surely thinking about his Next Big Idea. So, here's to our Montana lawmaker, who surely has an, um, interesting political future in this great nation.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Montreal is Europe in North America

Last weekend, I went to Montreal, Quebec, Canada,  which is less than an hour and a half from my St. Albans, Vermont home. So I practically live in a Montreal suburb.
A street in Montreal's Old Port

I need a big city fix every once in awhile. I define "big city" as anything over about 250,000 people, so my standards are pretty small.

Hey, I live in Vermont, where the biggest city, Burlington, has about 40,000 people, so the entire population of the city can easily fit in many stadiums. All of Vermont has the population of a small city, roughly 630,000 people.

Given how close I live to Montreal, it's a wonder I don't go there more often. I hadn't been there in nearly a year. Just too busy.
A stained glass window in the Notre Dame
Basillica of Montreal

One thing I like about Montreal is it is in some ways architecturally like a European city. Of course, there's the Old Port, the area of buildings dating back 300 years or so. It kind of looks like an old neighborhood in Paris or something.   A particular highlight is the Notre Dame Basilica of Montreal, with its beautiful ornate interior.

I made sure to take plenty of photos while I was there.

Even the nondescript houses, apartments and neighborhoods in Montreal are built differently than those in the United States. The run-of-the-mill buildings in Montreal are not distinctive, necessarily, but it's nice, just for a change, to see architecture that's a little different than in my home state, just a short distance away.

Montrealers speak French, or at least a version of French known as Quebecois. That also helps you feel like you've gone to Europe.

I'm happy to say I can almost say I live within spitting distance of Europe. It makes me sound so haughty, pretentious and special.
The colorful exterior of a Montreal building

Of course, not really, as unlike the well-dressed Montrealers I was surrounded by, I wandered the city dressed in Carharrts and a flannel shirt.

You can bring a hick Vermonter to the city, but you can't take the hick out of the Vermonter.