Friday, September 30, 2011

Susan Boyle Channels Depeche Mode?

One of my favorite songs ever is "Enjoy the Silence" by Depeche Mode. 
Susan Boyle

Just saw that Susan Boyle came out with a version of it, and I said, uh, oh, that can't be good.  You remember her. She's the frumpy looking woman in 2009  on Britain's Got Talent who was grossly underestimated until she opened her mouth to sing. It's one of the most famous videos on YouTube and I still tear up a bit when I see it. 

That initial success led to a big recording career for Boyle. And I"m so glad, she deserves it. I've always rooted for her. 

However, I usually don't like remakes of my favorite songs. And though Boyle has an awesome voice, I couldn't imagine her taking a crack at Depeche Mode. Kind of like mixing hamburger and ice cream for dinner.

But once again Boyle was underestimated. By me this time. Turns out her Depeche Mode remake is awesome. Compare the two versions for yourself.

Click on this sentence to listen to the Depeche Mode version

And click here to listen to Boyle's take on "Enjoy The Silence." 

I honestly don't know which version is better. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Something Called Dubstep. Dancer Wows

A viral video going around proves that I'm an out of touch old man.

The guy in the video is dancing something called Dubstep. It's a type of music, and a type of dance, I guess. I'd never heard of it until now. I guess my brain is still in 1978 or some damn thing,

The song is a version of the hit song "Pumped Up Kicks," by Foster the People, modified to be Dubstep. The song is slowed, a lot of production elements are added, and there's an intense base vibe to it at times. You have to listen to understand.

But the dancing is amazing, even if you don't like that type of movement. It looks like there's some sort of video editing trick going on, but I'm assured this is really the guy moving without any editing tricks. Really cool, Watch:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Summer Hangs on in Vermont

Today was another picture perfect July weather day.
And the fact it's late September made it all the more wonderful.

Flowers and gardens are hanging in there with this 80 degree late season warmth, so we get to enjoy landscapes that aren't frost bitten ruins, like they usually are this time of year.

A couple of pictures I took yesterday and today of flowers and sedum in my gardens and posted here prove my point.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Traffic Not Like Vermont

This isn't why I live in Vermont.

I'm spoiled in that I rarely have to sit in traffic jams, given how I live in the Green Mountain State.
Last Wednesday. Interstate 89, south
of Georgia, Vermont. Grr!

Which makes it pretty annoying that the traffic jams are cropping up here more and more often.
Last week, it was twice in two days.

On the way home from work Wednesday, things came to a complete standstill on Interstate 89 between Colchester and Georgia, Vermont

Seems there had been a car crash earlier, and although it had been cleaned up by the time I got on the Interstate, the road still jammed up. People rubbernecking at skid marks? People trying to cause new accidents just for fun? People just stopping because it's fun to stop on a major highway and make the whole world stop with you?

It was a complete mystery, but I sat still, not moving for a half hour. It was almost long enough to see a discernable change in the color of the leaves, it being fall and all.

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend an early autumn evening. Breathing in the fumes of the cars and trucks around me, and watch the fuming of all the people around my late to wherever they were going.

Next morning, Joy! I had to take a road other than Interstate 89. This would be a breeze! I had to bring Jackson the puppy to doggie day care, which would take me along Route 7 into Milton, Vermont.

Of course, I forgot about the construction at the intersection with Lake Road, which is the route to doggie day care. They've been digging and scraping and drilling and moving earth since May, and I don't see a difference. I don't know what they're building.

The construction crews there appeared to believe that stopping all traffic to lay pipes between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. is the perfect time to do this. So there I sat in another long line of traffic.
Thursday morning. Route 7 in Milton.
Double GRRRR!!!

Traffic jams are city things. It's jarring to sit there in a line of cars amid the pleasant autumn rural scenery. Will this get worse? Will these traffic jams happen every day? Maybe I should move to somewhere quieter, with fewer cars.

Baffin Island, perhaps?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Too Into His Work

 Glad to see the garden supply place I go to has a sense of humor.

I went to pick up a load of topsoil at Gardeners Supply in Williston, Vermont the other day and saw what you see in the pic in this post.

Either somebody is too into his work in the mulch pile, or Gardeners Supply was trying to get a laugh from customers.

They got a laugh from this customer, anyway. Mission Accomplished.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's With the Mean, Awful Debate Audiences?

For the third time this year, the audience upstaged the candidates during a Republican presidential debate on Thursday.

Too bad it the upstaging was in such a lurid, disgusting way. Where do they get these audiences anyway?

To recap, in past debates over the past few weeks, some audiences cheered when capital punishment was brought up. Kill 'em all! It's fun!

Then in the next debate, some yahoos in the audience cheered at the prospect of a hypethetical man without insurance needing expensive health care. The cheering was for the option of letting the patient die, as punishment for not having health insurance.

At least these audiences are consistent in being pro-death. Except of course for unborn children. After they're  born, they're on their own, I guess.

Thursday night was a debate in which people made YouTube videos of themselves asking question of the Republican presidential candidates.  Steve Hill, a gay soldier serving in Iraq, asked a question about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. The repeal, which took effect this week allows openly gay soldiers to serve.

Some members  of the audience booed Hill, apparently because he is for gay. I guess the fact this guy is risking life to protect these audience idiots' lives is besides the point.

So, if one of these yahoos has a heart attack and the paramedics come to save him, he'll check whether the paramedic is gay first? And if so, would he rather die than be saved?

Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with full throated debates on capital punishment, health care policy and gay issues. I'd bet most of my conservative and liberal friends would agree this stuff needs to be hashed out.

Also, to be fair, reports are many audience members during the booing Thursday night tried to shush the loud boo hoos in the audience or gave them cold, hard stares.

But really, it's depressing to hear people cheer the deaths of other people, or disrespect a member of the military like that.

It's got to be hard, being a idiot audience members like those that boo soldiers and cheer death.  When these guys hit hard times,  as karma almost always dictates,  will anybody respect them enough to give them a hand?

Maybe they can talk to that soldier they booed. Maybe learn a lesson in humanity.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nirvana Masterpiece 20 Y.O. Already!

Yep, I'm feeling old. Nirvana's landmark album, "Nevermind" came out 20 years ago this week.

I do consider it one of the finest albums made, so I guess I join a lot of critics in that regard.

The lead single, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," is among my top ten favorite songs I can think of. True, you can barely understand what the lead singer, the late Kurt Cobain, is singing. And even if you did, some of the lyrics are pretty nonsensical.

"A mulatto, an albino!
A mosquito, my libido!"

But the rage in the song is so cathartic that you have to embrace it. Odd how such a chaotic song could have such great hooks.

So yeah, here's me, a 49 year old guy screaming along to Kurt Cobain. You can, too. Here's the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video. Enjoy

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Facebook Angst Brings World to a Stop

As you undoubtedly heard or saw, Facebook made some changes today that are causing worldwide gnashing of teeth and a crisis mentality that seems to be outstripping concerns about war, economic meltdowns, and the global sense of relief that Chaz Bono survived the first round of cuts in Dancing With the Stars.

I admit I have been among those who is reacting to  Facebook changes as if they were the biggest crisis since The Gong Show went off the air around 1980 And believe me, the demise of the Gong Show was a terrible crisis.

The biggest problem I and a lot of other people are having with the new Facebook is friends' posts no longer appear in chronological order.

Instead, they appear in a way that Facebook thinks users would prioritize their incoming messages in order of importance or level of interest.

I  can't speak for everybody, but really, if Facebook thinks they can figure out how my mind works, they're in trouble. Figuring out how my mind works is like determining in precise detail the logic of the thought process in a puppy sufferng from OCD, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Facebook should just back sloooowwwlly away from my mind and let it wander as it sees fit. Nobody gets hurt that way.

Facebook says this new arrangement will help people who haven't been to their Facebook pages lately and just want to look at the high priority stuff first. Logical enough, but some people, like me, think linearly, so we can process information as it came in.

Here's how Facebook engineer Mark Tonkelowit  put it:  

'When you pick up a newspaper after not reading it for a week, the front page quickly clues you into the most interesting stories. In the past, News Feed hasn't worked like that.  Updates slide down in chronological order so it's tough to zero in on what matters most.  Now, News Feed will act more like your own personal newspaper. You won't have to worry about missing important stuff.'

Fine, but why not give us a choice? Some people can choose the new Facebook system if it works for them, and us weirdos who like things in chronological order can keep doing that.

My suspicion is that Facebook is forcing these changes, rather than giving us options, because advertisers rule. Maybe this new setup will somehow enable marketers to target our interests, so advertisers will flock to Facebook to ensure its profitability.

Look, Facebook is a business, and businesses exist to hopefully make money for owners and investors. Businesses do not owe us free stuff, free of attached strings.

So they have to do stuff that maximizes profits. Which is probably the real reason why these changes went into effect.

Of course, a business has to make changes in a way that doesn't annoy customers to the point where they flee to somewhere else.

In Facebook's case, they can get away with this, despite angering lots of people because they are too big to fail. Not too big to fail like banks during the financial crisis, which would have toppled the global economy if they'd failed.

Failing in Facebook's case might be, say,  losing a quarter of its customers. Which would leave millions of people still with Facebook. Which would mean it would remain a going entity.

This is why I like smaller companies. Big outfits, like airlines for instance, can enact this mishmash of fees that we don't understand and piss us all off, and make us feel cheated because we kind of need the planes to travel. Big outfits can essentially tell us to go pound sand.

Small companies to me seem more willing to work with customers, to make money but at the same time don't bury people in red tape and frustration.

The problem is, a lot of us need Facebook, too. Sure, I can just quit Facebook, but nowadays, when you want to promote yourself or let people know you exist, or build a business, you have to use social media like Facebook or Twitter.

This new Facebook set up annoys me, but it's not like they're demanding my right arm, or that I give up all my worldly possessions and join some Facebook cult.

So, I'll deal with it.  In the grand scheme of things, the Great Facebook Crisis of '11 is about is important as whether Charlie Sheen can revive his career.

In other words, I doubt I'll lose much sleep over this.  Unless I'm up all night trying to figure out how to see Facebook posts from friends I want to connect with.

Analysts have said that by doing this it will give Facebook even more data about its users and enable them to target adverts with greater precision than they can now.

Read more:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jackson the Puppy, Mower and Daycare

I'm nervous.

Jeff will be out of town for a few days later this week. Jeff has really been the primary caregiver for Jackson the Puppy, now four months old. I've just had a supporting role.

With Jeff out of the picture for a few days,  I will be solely responsible for Jackson's care. And I'm never going to win the Father of the Year award. Even if my fatherhood role is directed toward a rambunctious, too inquisitive, smart cocker spaniel puppy.
Jackson the (growing) puppy, ready for play

Jackson has never been away from both Jeff and me for more than two or three hours at a time. I can't take him to work with me, so that's an issue.

Luckily, we found an excellent doggie daycare for Jackson, but still, the puppy, a wild child, will be away from me for eight hours at a time. Will that freak him out? And since Jeff is his closest companion, will Jackson freak out because Jeff is away, and all he will have is me?

Will Jackson learn to hate me in Jeff's absence? The puppy is so sweet-natured I doubt that, but still, I don't want to do anything to hurt him.

All these worries are probably overblown, but this will be my first big test as a Puppy Parent. Wish me luck. And if you have any puppy parenting tips, let me know.

For comic relief below is a video I shot Sunday of Jackson and his encounter with my lawn mower. He doesn't normally bark much, but just the sight of a lawn mower sets him off. He looks like he wants to play with the mower, but there's a bit of confrontation there, too.

This morning, I showed Jackson the video of himself. His response? A barking flurry. He wanted to play with the black cocker spaniel puppy on the screen of my laptop. Well, I can't blame him. Jackson  is pretty irresistable, and he knows it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Sunsets

At the risk of boring you with colorful skies, something's going on lately that's causing some great sunsets here in Vermont.

Usually, it means something is high up in the sky. Smoke or ash. Maybe a volcano erupted somewhere? Maybe the forest fire in Minnesota spread some ash high up in the sky, scattering the light to make the sky light up in the evening.

Oh well. I can't answer those science questions, so I'll just enjoy the skies, however they look. The shot in this post was taken from my back deck Saturday in St. Albans, Vermont Saturday evening.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sinful Meteorologists

Meteorologists have a reputation as being goofy, geeky and giddy over things like say, dense fog advisories. But the stereotype is they don't exactly walk on the wild side.

Well, a few of these weather wizards are trying like hell to blow that mild mannered reputation out of the water. Turns out there is are plenty of wild weathermen and women out there.

Exhibit A is Brett Cummins, until recently a meteorologist at television station KARK in Arkansas got his share of, um, notice, for waking up in a hot tub next to a naked dead guy wearing a dog collar.
Brett Cummins, the once-Arkansas TV
weather guy who faces stormy times now

Well, he certainly had an unfortunately wild night.

He initially took a leave of absence because he was "mourning his friend."

And I imagine mourning the loss of his career.

He finally quit his gig at the television station over this. And I forecast more stormy weather in his near future.

Then there's  Heidi Jones, the former ABC meteorologist in New York who inexplicably falsely said she'd been attacked. 

I guess the partly cloudy skies with a 30 percent chance of showers weren't exciting enough.

She did say she made up the story because she wanted the attention and she was under a lot of stress. Maybe she should have did her forecasts in a more exciting place, like tornado alley.

I found an interesting article cataloging the sordid lives of television meteorologists. A surprising number of them have gotten into lots of legal trouble, often for icky sex scandals. 

I'm your resident weather geek, but I promise you I won't get into a scandal. They're too much work, what with the court appearances, annoying prosecutors, tedious interview requests and the risk of getting an invite to appear on TruTV's World's Dumbest Criminals. 

So, I'll stick to such shocking behavior as having a beer after work, maybe listening to Lady Gaga's latest single, or if I'm feeling really wild, planting a few more perennials around the yard.

Because dead naked men with dog collars just aren't my style.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fire in the Sky

During Thursday evening's really cool sunset over St. Albans, Vermont, I shot a lot of photos, some of which I posted on this blog Friday morning.

Here's one more shot. I call it "Fire In the Sky" for obvious reasons.

Best Eyewitness at Eyewitness News

The news team at Fox 10, a Phoenix, Arizona television station, are certainly consumate professionals, able to tell viewers the news with the utmost in expertise and clarity.

But even the anchors at the station say they cannot hold a candle to the account of a nasty traffic accident, involving wrecked cars and live, fallen electrical wires, as given by one George Lindell, who was involved in the accident and provided probably the best account of what happened.

He certainly does a better job at explaining what happened,  better than any reporter could do. It's WELL worth the watch:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vermont Gloom, Then Wow!

Today was the first of what will surely be the many chilly gray days that will hit as we go deeper and deeper into autumn.

We had to figure out what we did with our fleece and hats way back there in May, but we managed.

Today wasn't all bad here in St. Albans, Vermont. As you can see by the photographs I took in this post, at least the day ended with some beautiful clouds in a bright sunset.

The sunset seemed to confirm weather forecasts that predict several days of bright, cool fall weather coming up.

Headline Funnies

I was playing around on line, and saw a news headline from the oh-so-serious news agency Reuters.
"Nicolas Cage Awoken By Naked Man With Fudgsicle."

If that's not a headline that just begs you to read the story, nothing is.

You can't make this stuff up, which is great about the news business.

Some other headlines in the news this week keep me reading: I swear none of them are from "The Onion"

"Gumby Creator's Son: Robbery Out of Character." (Huffington Post)
For Gumby or creator's son, is what I want to know.

"Jewish Prof Forced to Defend Himself Against Anti-Semitism Claim" ( of Toronto.)
Article said accuser claims prof is anti-Semitic because the prof said that a person who says a Jewish person should be sterlized is basically a scumbag. Accuser says just bringing up the subject even in that context is anti-Semetic. We're a bit sensitive, no?

"Man Who Threatened to bomb Long Island Power Authority Claims He Did It for His Granny" (New York Daily News)
Love your grandma. Even if it means going to jail, I guess.

"No More Cigarettes For Smoking Malaysian Orangutan." (Associated Press)
I'm glad the headline didn't say. Smoking Hot Malaysia Orangutan. That would be awkward.

"Shopper Arrested With Live Lobster in Shorts" (Associated Press)
I guess the guy was inspired by that old song by Fred Schneider of the  B-52s. "Monster in My Pants"

"Speed Dial: Dutch Woman Reportedly Calls Ex 65,000 Times."
Maybe because the Ex has a monster in his pants?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

News Headlines: Compassion and Hate

I was struck by the juxtaposition of two of the top national news stories yesterday.

One was the dramatic footage of people in Utah lifting a burning BMW off of a motorcycle crash victim, saving his life. As the reports noted, the car could have easily blown up, killing the people who were trying to help.

The victim was pulled out from under the car, and taken to the hospital. He was initially reported to be in critical condition, but he's reportedly improving, with two broken legs, a broken pelvis, cuts and a burned left foot

But at least he'll live to thank the bystanders who thanked him.

On the other hand, at the Republican presidential debate the other night, moderator Wolf Blitzer offered a hypothetical case in which a young man can't or won't get health insurance, then needs hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care?

What's the solution? The government pays for it? Charity? Some other funding source? Just let him die?

Some members of the audience, mostly Tea Party members, cheered at the idea of letting Hypothetical Man die. 

Cheered? They cheered Hypothetical Man's death? It's perfectly legitimate to debate how to pay for health care. How big is the government's role? Or should there even be a goverment role?  Should we just make Hypothetical Man come up with the money somehow?

But to cheer at the "solution" to let the guy die instead of saving him, as many commentators have already said, is just sick. What were they cheering? If other people die, there's more money for me? That people who don't or can't get private health insurance deserve the death penalty?

I'd hate to think what other things these people think others should die for. Hey, he was unemployed for a month, and collected federal unemployment money. Off with his head!!

Here in Vermont, we continue to have thousands of people mobilizing with money, donations, elbow grease and more to continue recovering from a huge flood a few weeks ago. On the other hand, there have been a few reports of looting, thefts of relief supplies and scams.

I hope both locally and nationally, the compassionate ones, the normal ones, far outnumber the scumbags who cheer the deaths of people and steal from people who are going through an incredibly tough time.

I also hope there's serious karma for the bad people. Because I wouldn't want to live in a world where pure, 100 greed rules everything

Monday, September 12, 2011

Puppy Poop and Witching Hours

It's now almost two months since Jackson the cocker spaniel puppy moved in with us here in St. Albans, Vermont.  Amazing how you get into a routine with such a little guy, who's getting bigger by the minute.

Jackson the Puppy attacks an errand stick that fell
out of the brush pile yesterday. Bad stick!
Funny how his routine is apparent, too. I feel like a parent, because I'm watching Jackson grow and develop his own personality.

He doesn't have the bathroom routine down yet, unfortunately. He dutifully goes outside first thing in the morning to pee and poop on a corner of the lawn, like he's supposed to. Then he runs inside, receives a Scooby Snack for his excellent bathroom behavior, then marches straight to the hallway or spare bedroom to pee and poop once again. Sigh.

Makes me want to pee and poop on Jackson to teach him a lesson, but I don't want to get gross.

He's developed a couple of unhealthy fascinations. Like all good all-American boys, Jackson loves motorcycles and loud trucks. He stops whatever he's doing to listen very carefully as such vehicles go by. It's just a matter of time before he starts chasing them. How do you explain to a puppy that a rumbling dump truck bites back if you try to nip at its wheels?

Like other boys, Jackson likes playing in the mud. With all the rain we had, the little brook by my house that we've named the Woof River is running again after drying up during an arid July. So, usually, right after a bath, he rolls in the muddy gravel on the edge of the Woof River and almost gets sucked over the falls and through the culvert. Puppies and boys love scaring their parents, don't they?

Witching hour comes around 8 p.m. each evening. I'm sure theres logic to this, but at that hour, after a brief nap, he gets up,  takes each of his toys, one by one, bites down on them,  shakes them as violently as he can, runs full speed into the kitchen and slides hard into the cupboards, then runs full speed with the toy into the living room, crashing into the plants by the windows. This goes on until he goes through all his toys.

Then he goes to me, where I'm sitting on the couch, and leaps up so he can bite the tips of my fingers. They taste good, I guess.

Then it's time to go outside, ostensibly to pee and poop some more - he's a pee and poop machine - but he ends up hunting crickets. He pounces on each one he sees, eats them, spits them out, and eats them again. Yum!

It's amazing I have any crickets left on my property. I wish he'd chow down on the mosquitoes instead, but us dog owners know we can't be picky.

This post sounds like I complaining about Jackson a bit, but really, inviting him to live with us was among the best decisions Jeff and I have ever made.

He's such an ego booster. I come home, and he runs over to greet me as if I'd been given up for dead years ago, only to materialize out of the blue, happy to be home. I get a hero's welcome from Jackson, at least until it's time for another Scooby Snack.

Last evening, I got home, and Jeff was away running errands. Jackson was home alone.  I opened the door and he leapt out to greet me, I got down off my feet onto the deck and wrestled an ecstatic Jackson. He was so funny during that, I had the best, loudest, longest belly laugh I've had in years.

That can only be a good thing.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Stupid People Make My Life Longer

OK, in a grim era of war, recession, natural disasters and catfights on Project Runway, complaining about stupid people making life inconvenient seems petty.

But I'm going to do it anyway.

Dumb people are good at wasting everyone's time.
While crawling along at 5 mph in a long line of vehicles on Interstate 89 heading toward St. Albans last night, I started thinking about how stupid people make me waste huge chunks of my life.

I was cooling my heels on the Interstate because some lanes were closed, forcing us all into one lane northbound. If everybody was on the ball, that wouldn't be much of a problem. You'd get into the appropriate lane ahead of time, and everybody would get through at about 45 mph instead of the usual 65 mph. I can deal with that.

About 90 percent of us on the highway did just that. But it takes a few idiots to screw things up. The selfish and stupid among us roared past us in the lane that would be closed just ahead.  I could almost hear their thought process. "Why should I wait in line. Jersey Shore is coming on TV in ten minutes and I HAVE to be there to watch it. If I don't, I'll just DIE!"

I wish they would die.

So these pinheads cut into the open lane at the last minute, forcing everybody to hit the brakes.

That causes a chain reaction of braking cars behind, and pretty soon you have hundreds of cars moving more slowly than an arthritic grandmother carrying a Volkswagon on her back. All because a few morons think they are more entitled to get somewhere than everybody else.

You would NOT believe how much I was hoping that I'd find the drivers of these cars upside down in a ditch, up against the ledges, their cars in flames.

I was pleased as punch to see, behind me, drivers of two tractor trailers and a bus take matters into their own hands. Near the end of the line, they positioned their vehicles so nobody would pass and cause more of a problem. I owe the tractor trailer drivers and the bus driver a nice sixpack of beer. After they stop driving, of course.

The night before last, I made the mistake of stopping at a convenience store to pick up a few things on the way home from work. There was one parking spot left. But just as I was pulling in, the ditzy woman in the car opened her door, so I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting her.

Then she stood, in the rain, with the car door open, having a giggly conversation with the person in the car. She couldn't get out of the rain, out of my way to do that?

After an eternity, she moved, and I pulled in and parked. I found myself behind Ditz Girl at the cash register. She bought a 25 cent pack of gum, then pulled out her debit card to pay for it.  It didn't dawn on her that she needed the card until the clerk said "25 cents, please." That launched Ditz Woman into a search of her wallet to find the debit card. The search lasted about as long as the Great Depression.  By the time she found the damn thing, I was greatly depressed.

The clerk told her to slide her card. She looked up at him as if the clerk demanded she immediately solve all questions about interplanetary space. Which made sense, since the inside of Ditz Girl's head was obviously interplanetary space.

Finally, with that accomplished, the clerk told her to enter her PIN number. Another hard question! Why is life so full of hard questions! Like how am I going to chew the gum I just bought here and walk to the car at the same time?"

The clerk told her how to enter the PIN number. But she started to, and midway through, forgot how to do the job again. The clerk flashed me a look as if to say, "You are about to witness a murder." I flashed the clerk a look to say, "Not so fast, buddy, I got dibs on murdering Ditz Girl."

After a period that was as long and frustrating as this summer's Congressional debt ceiling debate, Ditz Girl finally figured out the PIN number puzzle and had her gum. It only took about ten minutes for her to figure out how to put the debit card back in her wallet, but I imagine that was a world record for her.

Finally, I bought my milk, soda, bread and the copious amounts of alcohol I suddenly decided I needed and left the store. But Ditz Girl was not done with me, no sir. As I was pulling out of my parking spot, she backed out of hers,  and stopped the car in front of me, boxing me in while she embarked on another giggly conversation with the passenger in her car.

There I sat, thinking, "Do I drink the beer I just bought, or do I smash all six bottles over her head?"  Just as I decided I would drink the beer, then smash the empty bottles over her head (Why be wasteful?) she finally moved.

Thus ended another long chapter of my life wasted by another person who was too dumb to be alive.

I bet you have dumb person stories too. Let's hear 'em. And be smart. Thanks.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Drowning and Burning

The East Coast continues to drown this morning.

 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania had almost four months worth of rain in a day. More than 10,000 people are being kicked out of Binghamton, N.Y. ahead of what is predicted to be the worst flood in the city's history, beating a record set just five years ago.

Some of the worst flooding on record is happening in several other spots.

Luckily for Vermont, the worst of the latest round of rain missed the flood ravaged state. We just had minor flooding last night.

And we've seen Texas burn. Here's a video from the Texas Parks and Wildlife department showing how fast wildfires move. It's a scary video:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Still Loving Freddie Mercury

Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen, would have been 65 years old this week, and the tributes are pouring in.
Freddie Mercury

Even today's  Google Doodle had an animated short depicting Mercury.

I'm glad he's getting all this attention. To me, Mercury, who died in 1991,  had one of the best rock and roll voices ever.

He was a showman, maybe a diva, but his strong voice, with its big range, helped rock me through high school and beyond.  He was the bold id I wanted to be.

My favorite Queen song, "Spread Your Wings," wasn't nearly their biggest hit and doesn't perfectly showcase Mercury's voice.

But it came out during low points while I was in high school. It was on Queen's "News of the World" album, which I played over and over again until it wore out from overuse.

I feared my life would dead end right after high school. It didn't, of course, but teenagers tend to be overwrought, and I was the overwrought-est of them all.  Silly me.

So I listened to this lyric, over and over:

"Sammy was low
Just watching the show
Over and over again
Knew it was time
He'd made up his mind
To leave his dead life behind"

Here's the video for that tune:

I always felt like I was Sammy when I heard that song.
And it turned out, I was.

No, I was never as spectacular as Freddie Mercury, but I'm still having a great trip of a life.  I stopped watching the same show, over and over again. I spread my wings and flew away. Mercury helped me leave my so called dead life behind.

So thanks, Freddie

Monday, September 5, 2011

Storms, Rain, Wet Still in Vermont

As I noted yesterday, Vermont continues to be harassed by bad weather.

So far, this latest round hasn't been another uber-disaster, but just annoyingly threatening and slightly damaging.
A nasty looking thunderstorm bears down on
St. Albans, Vermont on Sunday.

Yesterday, here in St. Albans, we weren't due to get any weather until late afternoon, but at 11 a.m. the sky to the west turned as black as can be. The dark clouds swirled and lowered and rolled, and I was sure we would get a lot of damage.

Luckily, the storm had a bigger bark than bite. There was a lot of lightning, a big downpour, a bit of hail and some impressive but not terribly damaging wind gusts, and it was over in 15 minutes.

From there on, thunderstorms seemed to fire up all around me but never hit with full force. Elsewhere in Vermont the storms knocked down trees, cut power (again!) and caused some flash flooding. The flooding wasn't nearly as bad as last week.

Today, there's a drenching rain here in St. Albans, but it's not torrential. My brook is behaving itself so far. Elsewhere in Vermont, there's areas of downpours.  Some of Burlington's streets flooded. So far, no major new flooding though, so we all have to keep watching unfortunately.

A towering thunderstorm cloud erupts southeast
of St. Albans Sunday evening at sunset.
 The moon is still out, though. 
At least forecasters now tell us Hurricane Katia is going to miss. The remnants of Lee, with it's inches and inches and inches of rain, is another question. Maybe it will hit, maybe it won't. Gawd, I'm still so ready for some boring weather.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Too Many Weather Worries

On this strangly tropical, humid September morning, there's more weather worries here in Vermont.

The forecast calls for severe thunderstorms with scary winds and hail late today, followed by another drenching rainstorm that could cause more flooding tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday.
Flooding near Fairfax, Vermont in April.

This comes a week after Tropical Storm Irene flooded Vermont in the worst disaster since 1927. We've been on the national news, and the whole state is mobilized for aid and cleanup.

It's been a weird, scary year of weather in Vermont.  I've been lucky. I have not suffered much at all from this weather,

I wonder when the other shoe will drop on me. Will the roof blow off in a bad storm this evening? Will the brook finally take out my driveway tomorrow?

I don't mean to complain. People in Vermont have been walloped repeatedly all year. So many people have lost homes, businesses, farms and livlihoods in the bad weather that keeps happening over and over again.

It feels like my turn will have to come soon.
Wreckage after flash flooding in Barre,
Vermont in May.

Luckily, until now, I've been a sad bystander to these weather problems. Sometimes the weather has been just very odd but relatively harmless, like the snow thunderstorm in February and the huge, deep blizzards of February and March.  The only pain I got out of that was a sore back from shoveling snow into eight foot deep piles.

Then the snow melted and it rained like hell. In late April, on the day tornadoes were laying waste to Tuscaloosa, Alabama and a bunch of other southern cities, flash floods swept Vermont during the heaviest April rains on record.

My little brook heaved out of its banks, covering my lawn with rocks, branches, mud and gravel. The embankment holding up my driveway collapsed.

Lots of people had it worse, with lots more property damage.

It kept raining through the month of May, making Lake Champlain's water rise to the highest level on record. Thousands of shoreline properties flooded, eroded, were battered by waves and covered in debris.
Storm clouds loom over Addison
County Vermont in July.

In the third week in May, a flash flood covered my lawn with debris again just after I cleaned from the previous storm. Other areas saw worse flooding, which lead to road washouts and damaged houses.

A week later a much bigger flash flood hit, laying waste to Barre, Vermont and surrounding areas. Central and northern Vermont communities were devastated, and they're still trying to fix the roads from that one.

During the summer, while parts of Vermont were repeatedly raked by severe thunderstorms with gale winds and giant hail, other sections of the state withered in dry weather. Farm fields that were swamps on June 1 turned into dusty, brittle messes by mid August.

Then Irene hit with its worse floods since 1927. And now we're under threat from more dangerous weather today and tomorrow.

They say that global warming is increasingly causing more extreme weather. This constant battle with the elements, I'm told, is the new normal.

I shouldn't complain about my worries, since I'm not in the same position as so many thousands of Americans who've had their lives upended this year by tornadoes, floods, wind, fire, drought and hurricanes.

But I'm getting tired of watching the television weather people have to walk us through the latest danger. Here are the roads that are closed. Here's when we think the big hail will come. The strong winds will peak this afternoon. The biggest flood danger is at rush hour tomorrow. Stay off the lake because there will be far too much lightning.
Tropical Store Irene flooding in Waitsfield,
Vermont last Sunday.

Lately, listening to the forecast every morning is getting more and more like receiving bad news from your doctor.

Which is sad. Because I want to go back to the days when the only anxiety stemming from listening to the morning weather forecast was wondering if I need to bring a sweater,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cuteness Relief After the Flood

It's been a tough week here in Vermont after all that record, disasterous flooding. Having been in the thick of it much of the week, I was given a day off yesterday.

So, it was me and Jackson,  our cocker spaniel puppy, just hanging out at the house in St. Albans, Vermont.

While I tried to take it relatively easy, Jackson had an exhausting day of hunting down and killing the crickets chirping around the house, chasing down five gallon pails rolling down the hill, and digging holes in the hope of finding buried treasure.

I offer you a few pics of Jackson's exploits, below, just because we could all use a cuteness break.
"What was that!?"

"Who, me?"

"Don't worry, Matt, I'm on guard.
I'll keep those crickets away from you!"

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kansas Jerks to Worsen Vermont Disaster

Just when you thought the Vermont flood disaster wrought by Irene couldn't get any worse, we learned the other day that the Westboro Baptist Church plans to pay us a visit next week.

Flooding in Waitsfied, Vermont on Sunday.
The Kansas-based "church," really a bunch of yahoos, are that small group of people, mostly from the same family, who tour the country spreading hate and stupidity wide and far.

Their favorite activity seems to be to go around disrupting military funerals by saying they're happy the soldier died because God hates gay people.

Yeah, it makes no sense, but they are a bunch of weirdos who like to kick people when they're down.

Anyway, most people think the flood in Vermont that killed four people and devastated parts of the state was a tragic natural disaster. The Westboro Yahoos think the flood was God's punishment. You see, Vermont allows gay marriage, so of course God would send a downpour our way. OK. What is God saying when Vermont has nice weather?

These bozos said they'll be in Montpelier Monday. I hope it stays peaceful and everybody pretty much ignores them.

My worry is somebody in Vermont who was pushed over the edge by the flood will come down there. Maybe they lost their home or their job, and just can't take any more. I obviously don't want anybody, including the Westboro Yahoos, to get hurt, but there's a lot of hunting rifles in this state, and I don't want some crazy guy from some small town to bring his weapon to confront the crazies from Kansas.

So Vermonters, we'll let the Westboro Yahoos do their little song and dance and ignore them. They'll go away on their own.  We're too busy helping out our neighbors through a bad patch.