Monday, October 31, 2011

This Halloween Brought to You By.......

Found this on Andrew Sullivan's Dish blog at the Daily Beast. (even that name is appropriate for today)

It's an advertisement, but what the hell, it's perfect for Halloween.  And it's one of those rare advertisements that are fun to watch. Punch line at the end is hilarious.  Do watch it on this scary Halloween night,

Elton John Halloween Favorite

Since it's Halloween, I'll offer you my vote for the best tune that can pass as a Halloween song. It's Elton John's "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding."

Lots of spooky music at the beginning, some violent percussion, and a rock out at the end. Almost a sound track for a Zombie fight scene, though the song has nothing to do with Zombies.

In any event, you can enjoy the song, and watch the photo slide show in this video of Elton John in various outfits. I guess you could use the montage to get last-minute Halloween costume ideas.

Epic October Snowstorm Pwns New Jersey House

Yesterday, I mentioned that I was happy that the huge snowstorm in the Northeast missed my house in the northwestern Vermont town of St. Albans. I only got a half inch of fluff.

My house is surrounded by trees. I think I should call a tree surgeon and get rid of some of those trees.

Why? Watch what happened Saturday when heavy wet snow fell on a leafy tree in New Jersey. The leafy tree fell on, well, you'll see. Hope the place was insured.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Epic Snow Misses N. Vermont, Beautiful Dusting Instead

I'm sure you've heard all over the news how the Northeast got clobbered with the worst October snowstorm on record.

It's chaos out there, with trees still with leaves catching the one, two, in a few case almost three feet of snow. Those trees collapsed under the weight of the snow, and three million homes and businesses had no power today.
A dusting of snow on a rhododendron this morning
in St. Albans, Vermont

Up here in St. Albans, in the northwest corner of Vermont, the snow was if anything, enchanting and not dangerous. We only got a dusting. Around Halloween is about the time of year we get our first little bit of snow, so it was about average for us.

The result was a little fairy dust snow on the remaining fall foliage, without the havoc of broken trees, broken power lines, broken spirits.

As I always do when something happens, no matter how minor, I grab the camera and start shooting. The result is the snowy autumn photos in this post
A few snowflakes rest on a colorful
sugar maple leaf in St. Albans, Vermont Sunday

The snow was pretty, but it's too early for it to remain long. So it was fortunate the sun came out this morning, and our trace of snow disappeared.

We'll get plenty of other chances to enjoy the snow in the northern reaches of Vermont between now and April.
A dusting of snow on a sugar maple
Sunday morning in St. Albans, Vermont

Friday, October 28, 2011

Interesting News!

I work as a journalist in Vermont, so I get my share of quirky little stories to work on. But not nearly enough.

Some papers are smaller than the one I work at, so they are able to fit in detailed police blotter columns, and strange little accidents to report on.

The news I normally deal with is usually interesting enough, but there are some days I wish I covered some of these other stories.
Women's cole slaw wrestling on a day when no skydiver
craashed into a nearby beer vendor.
Photo by Jacob Langston, Orlando Sentinel

I saw this headline somewhere on the Internet recently, that's supposedly from a legitimate small newspaper in Florida, I think. The headline was "Skydiver Lands on Beer Vendor at Women's Cole Slaw Wrestling Event."

I couldn't find a lot of details on the specifics of this story. Did the skydiver land on the beer vendor on purpose because he was thirsty? Did the skydiver want to join the cole slaw wrestlers? What kind of beer was it? Were the cole slaw wrestlers annoyed by this interloper? Inquiring minds want to know.

And who knew women's cole slaw wrestling was such a draw? They needed a beer vendor so I'm sure there was quite a crowd. We're so sheltered here in Vermont. I never knew women's cole slaw wrestling even existed.

Elsewhere, a Bozeman, Montana newspaper police blotter had this item: "Three drunken people were harassing and yelling at two bears near West Lincoln Street and South Willson Avenue at 1:06 a.m.."

Well, that sounds like quite a neighborhood. Again, details, please. Did the bears steal the drunks' booze? Or did the bears flee the drunks because, they well, don't like drunks. And what were the drunking people yelling? Did the bears understand? Did the drunks think the bears understood? Did the bears eventually come down out of the trees and attack the drunks? Or just have drinks with the drunks?

Yet another police blotter went as follows: "10:10 p.m.: Suspicious people were reportedly doing something with flashlights by the side of North Fifth Street at Custer. A deputy checked and found the people were not suspicious but merely Canadian. The out of towners were enjoying an evening stroll."

Those darn Canadians. Always coming to the United States to cause trouble. Walking with flashlight! Spreading terror in the hearts of, um, people who are afraid of people walking down the street.

I'm sure these news hits will keep coming. They're all important, so be assured I will keep you fully informed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fading Fall Beauty

Up until now, it's been a warm autumn here in Vermont. Some foliage, and flower gardens have lasted until now, October 26. Usually by now, most plants and trees have gone dormant, and we've entered the gray stick season.
Flowers still bloom vigorously at the end
of October in Burlington, Vermont

Today was the first truly chilly, almost wintry day. It's snowing in parts of the state. It's a cold afternoon, in the 30s, damp and overcast. Yucky.

We haven't really had a hard freeze yet. This cold wave has just started, and the hard temperatures in the 20s won't come until tonight or over the weekend. So there's some unusual fall and even almost summer beauty to lighten up the drab almost November Vermont surroundings, as you can see in the photos I took that are in this post. The frost will nip tonight and tomorrow, so even these colors will fade to brown.
Ivy has turned dark orange on this
brick wall in Burlington, Vermont
forming a nice, monochromatic image

Decorative grass glows during a brief
interval of sun yesterday in Burlington, Vermont

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bust a Move at the World Series

I'm not going off today on the pathetic fight between dancer Maks and judge Len on Dancing With the Stars the other night. (Really, you don't want to know)

Instead, I'll take you out to the ballgame. Specifically, Game 4 of the World Series the other night between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.

No, we're not going to watch game highlights. Instead, we give you Dancing with a NEW Star. Before the game or during a break, a grounds crew member decided to augment some music playing over the loudspeakers by dancing. Wildly.

I'm sure we'll find out who this guy is soon enough. I haven't seen anything on Google News yet, but there will be a feature about him soon, no doubt.

Even if you're no fan of baseball, this video of the exuberant dancing is a thrill. The guy hits all the right moves. I also love how the entire stadium cheers the guy on, while the baseball players seen completely oblivious.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Marriage Withstands the Sandstorm of Time

Found this hilarious wedding video, at the bottom of this post, out of Arizona recently. It vividly illustrates  the perils of an outdoor wedding.

The ceremony is under way, and all of a sudden the groom looks up in shock and surprise. Yep, a wall of dust is heading right toward them.  Well, at least it wasn't rain. Or lightning.  Watching the video made me conclude I will never, EVER get married in Arizona.

Soon the haboob hits. I love the irony of the happy couple in the midst of the sandstorm pouring together two vessels of sand into one to symbolize their union. Couldn't they just grab dust and sand out of the air?  There sure was plenty of it.  But grabbing the blowing sand from everywhere would have symbolized polygamy, I guess, so it's just as well our newlyweds stuck to the original plan of their ceremony.

At some points, the couple and the priest marrying them almost disappear in the dust and sand and wind. I bet the pair wished they eloped to someplace non-sandy.  They should have come here to Vermont. No sand storms ever. Of course the epic floods we've been getting lately might have turned the wedding into a washout. I guess there's no safe place.

Happily, the couple muscled through this early test of marriage bliss. No word on how the guests managed the dust.  People cry at weddings, but I bet the dust inspired a few extra tears.

I hope the reception was indoors and everybody had nice, refreshing drinks.  Maybe somebody bought the happy couple a Dustbuster as a wedding gift.

I also sure hope they didn't serve sandwiches (ha!) at that reception.

Insurance Outrage of the Day

Remember that horrible tornado that wrecked Joplin, Missouri back in May that killed all those people?

Leave to one insurance company to almost make a bad situation worse. Even as other insurance companies came through.
A workman' s comp insurer made this horrible disaster
even worse for one Joplin, Mo. man,

This insurance company Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, reversed itself and did the right thing, though, after an  Associated Press article on the outrage appeared, as described below.

Nothing like bad publicity to prompt a change of heart, huh?

Here's the deal: A guy named Mark Lindquist, a social worker, cared for three developmentally disabled adults. The tornado was coming. He could have fled, or stayed home, where the tornado didn't go.

Instead, he covered the three men with a mattress and laid down on top of the mattress in a last-ditch effort to save them from the tornado. But the storm's 200 mph winds were too much. The three men died, and Lindquist was greviously injured. He accumulated $2.5 million in medical bills.

According to the Associated Press, via Huffington Post, Lindquist was  denied a workman's comp claim.

This was ""based on the fact that there was no greater risk than the general public at the time you were involved in the Joplin tornado," according to a letter to Lindquist from Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, his company's workers' comp provider.

Again, Lindquist could have fled and left the three disabled men to their own devices, but didn't. So doesn't it seem Lindquist was in fact at a greater risk because he stayed with them?

Yes, I know that $2.5 million is a lot of money. And that would damage the company's bottom line. And it's true Lindquist didn't have private health insurance, because he couldn't afford it on his salary.   

I'm not entirely sure what the solution is, but the one we've got here sure doesn't work. I guess the insurance company agreed with the audience at a Republican presidential candidates' debate earlier this year. If you don't have private insurance, and you have a catastrophic medical emergency, you should just die, sucka!

The insurance company said later Monday it reversed its decision after reviewing information on the case. Like what appeared in the Associated Press article.

It's scary, though, what happens when an outrage like this doesn't make the papers, the Internet or television news.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Father of the Year and Cutest Kid of the Year Nominees

This video is going viral, and why not? It induces very much needed smiles in these nasty times.

The video shows a dad, who made videos of himself reading books to his little daughter so she could watch them while he was deployed in the military overseas.

We get to see the little daughter reacting as dad reads the book to her from a video screen. Obviously a great dad, and an adorable kid. I love her reactions to her father.

If the two aren't back together yet, I hope it happens very soon. Meanwhile, thanks for the smiles.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bear Cub Hunts Nutritious Meals

The nutritionists out there always tell us to avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store. It's the land of processed sugar, fatty foods and stuff that is really, really bad for you.

Head to the produce aisles instead. Seems a bear cub up in Alaska has been following nutritionists' advice closely, or least paid attention to Michelle Obama's entreaties to eat our vegetables.

The cub showed up at a Ketchikan, Alaska, supermarket, and picked out the freshest fruit he could find, as you can see in the viral video, below:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Excellent Troll Killer

Leave it to The Onion to come up with best tech fix to the bigges scourge of the Internet era.

The parody news site has an article in which Internet trolls are lured to a decoy site, thereby freeing legiimate Web sites of those awful people who incessantly post wildly stupid, mean-spirited comments on anything that appears on the site.

The Onion article on the decoy site called Outkube says:

"According to sources, Outkube boasts thousands of articles and forums carefully crafted to draw in dim-witted web users and effectively quarantine obtuse, uninformed comments on topics such as gay rights, Ryan Gosling, the threat of Sharia law in the U.S., health care reform, whether Kobe is better than LeBron, Jewish control of the government and media, the New York Jets, the Second Amendment, and professional wrestler John Cena."

I know this is a fake news article, but I have to believe there is some technical wizard out there who will take this idea and run with it. Steve Jobs unfortunately is dead, but there must be some young genius out there who will create this Next Big Thing. 

Think of the aggravation this would save. News and other Web sites are constantly scrubbing their comment sections of troll comments. Trolls are generally stupid enough to fall for a decoy site, aren't they? 

This solution is also much less messy than the solution I've thought of, which is grabbing all the trolls and leaving them naked, on northern Canada's Baffin Island, in January.

Friday, October 21, 2011

World Ends Today, Again!

For the umpteenth time, the world is going to end today.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Harold Camping, who told us the world would end on May 21 (and also in 1994, but whatever) said the world would end Friday, October. 21. That's today, folks.

The article notes that Camping is not quite as strident in his prediction as he was on May 21. (We're still here!)
Harold Camping is predicted the end of the world
today, again

It won't be a big noisy deal, he says. Just the end, sort of, kind of, but he doesn't say exactly what that means.

There was quite a bit of mocking and moaning back in May during the original prediction.  A few people panicked. More just made jokes by putting out clothes on park benches with nobody in them to suggest the clothes' owners went up in the rapture.

I celebrated the rapture on May 21 by mowing the lawn. OK, I'm unimaginative. Sue me.

Camping is also making excuses for May 21.  The article states: "He now characterizes May 21 as a tremendous event that unleashed a spiritual judgement day, not the material one he expected."

Oh, really? Pardon my ignorance, but I see nothing different now that we're a few months past May 21. What does a spiritual judgement day look like? Does God judge how you look while you pray, kind of like the goofy judges scrutinize the B-list celebrity contestants on "Dancing With The Stars?"

Or is a spiritual judgement day a time when we more often see images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary on window reflections. kudzu infestations and pieces of toast?

I don't know what I'm going to do today to celebrate the end of the world. At work, I have a couple deadlines to meet. But if everybody's dead by tomorrow, does that mean my deadlines are, well, dead?

Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow. Maybe

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bright, Beautiful Vermont Rainbow

Facebook is alive tonight with images of a dazzlingly bright rainbow that appeared over Burlington late this afternoon.

Of course, I had to shoot the rainbow, too. It was probably the most briliant one I've seen in a long time.

I was weird, as usual. A lot of photographers got beautiful shots of almost the entire rainbow. I decided to just get little pieces of it. I guess I'm odd but so what.

You can see in this post what I came up with. Hell, it was fun.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bridge to Nowhere

Up here in Vermont, we're replacing a lot of bridges that got washed away by the epic floods from Tropical Storm Irene back in late August.

Too bad we don't have a lot of money to play with. Nobody knows exactly how we're going to pay for the new roads and bridges we need. But we're building them anyway and hoping for the best.

But if we did have money to spend, I wish we could build a span like the one in Norway pictured in this post. Believe it or not's it's not a bridge to nowhere, like that one in Alaska a few years ago that got people riled up.

It's built in a way that gives the illusion that if you drive on it, you take a big dive into what looks like terribly cold water. I'd be afraid to drive across it. But you can go quite safely over the bridge and not worry about anything, the span's designers said.

Next up, maybe, a house that looks like it has no walls. As far as I know that doesn't exist, but hey, architects out there, impress me. Design a house like that!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Vermont Fall Foliage

Fall foliage season in Vermont only lasts a short time, but it is always glorious.  After a couple weeks of great color,  the mountains are turning winter gray as the leaves fall. Only the Champlain valley and lowlands in the southern half of Vermont have full color. There's probably only a week or so of decent leaf peeping left.
Golden leaves reflected in a pond being
rippled by a breeze in Richmond, Vermont

We've got another windy rainstorm coming tomorrow night, so more of the foliage will fade. With a dull overcast today, I have a chance to go through a few of the pics I took. Some are traditional landscape photos, some are experiments, like the one I posted last week.

I'll give you a couple examples of what I came up with in this post.  Of course, there are better fall foliage photographers than I, but just going out and shooting is fun, and maybe it will increase my skills further.
Red leaves with a stark gray
background in Richmond, Vermont. 

A hilly autumn landscape near Bakersfield, Vermont. 

Washing Machines Have Sex, Too?

Today, I'm letting my inner fifth grader out.

Like probably all fifth grade boys in the universe, I find the following extremely funny: Somebody's washing machine sounds like it's having a fantastic sexual experience.

I'm certainly glad that inanimate objects do the nasty, too. Watch the following video to see what I mean. Hope the downstairs neighbors didn't complain.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Dog is Growing Up

Jackson, our cocker spaniel, continued to grow by leaps and bounds.

Raising a puppy really is like raising a kid. His personality is getting more fully formed and complex. Like a growing kid, he is usually charming and sometimes maddening. But he's making Jeff and me proud.

I just wish I could put Jackson's energy to work.  A week ago, I gave him a five foot long willow tree branch, with several branches offshooting from its main stem. He loves big stuff like that. The willow branch is now whittled to almost nothing.

It's nice that Jackson has reduced the willow branch to a nice manageable size, but I wonder if I can channel that chewing to something more profitable. Maybe we could go into business as a paper shredding company.

Or I could collect all the shavings from his branch chewing and sell it as mulch. Also, there's an electricity generating plant in Burlington that uses wood chips to generate the juice. So I could maybe sell the shavings to them. Jackson could make me a lot of money. I'm the idea guy, he's the workhorse.

Jackson is quite the fashion model and actor, as you can see by the photos in this post. He's got a come-hither look in the first shot, a comic "Who, me?" pose in the second, and sort of demonic branch chewing monster in the third.

He's no one-trick pony, no sir. I think we should get Jackson into the movies. He would be awesome as a comic actor, but he could also be a leading man, and maybe we could also get some sort of horror movie franchise going with him.

I think Jackson could give Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey and Jack Nicholson a run for their money.

Of course, the economy being what it is, it might be hard to get Jackson a job. Maybe he could join the Occupy Wall Street protests.

So far, Wall Street, some conservatives, polticians and others remain rather unimpressed with Occupy Wall Street. The movement might be more successful if we add Jackson to the mix. I mean, who can resist a cute cocker spaniel when it asks for something.

When Jackson asks for food, he looks at you with pleading eyes, as if you're the last hope in the world of saving him from starvation. As if we are starving him. You should see how much Cesar dog food, and doggie biscuits and Goldfish treats he goes through.

So, we just train Jackson to use those same, pleading eyes to ask that the middle class catch an economic break, or whatever the Occupy Wall Street folks are asking for.

Of course, Occupy Wall Street can't pay Jackson for his efforts. After all, many of them have the short end of the economic stick.

Stick, did someone say "stick?" Jackson's getting all excited now. He's ready to play. Somebody better throw him that stick, or he will just die of anticipation.

Maybe Jackson should just run for Congress. Polls show that only 12 percent of the public think Congress is doing a good job. So if we add Jackson to the mix, the ratings could only go up, even if our cocker spaniel can't write legislation, or break a Capital Hill filibuster.

Then again, maybe I'm underestimating Jackson. He's great at interrupting any conversation by displaying his cuteness. So if there's some sort of obnoxious obstructionism going on in Washington, we could just put Jackson in the middle of it, everybody would ooh and ahh at him, and problem solved.

Hey, anything is worth a try, right?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Staffing Goes to the Dogs

I had to get ahold of somebody at a government agency in Vermont called the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization, or CCMPO. Yep, a nice dry, alphabet soup outfit. They plan transportation priorities, Not a lot of drama.

To find who I was looking for, I went to their Web site's staff list. It had the usual listing: "Jane Smith (I made up the name) joined the CCMPO in 2008 and is responsible for managing the Transportation Implementation Program blah....blah....blah...zzzzzzz"

At the bottom of the staff list I got a nice surprise. I always like finding a sense of humor amid the dullness of bureaucracy.

The last staff member on the list was listed as follows: "Meeka, a dog. Meeka joined the CCMPO in the summer of 2010 and is responsible for maintaining staff morale. She does bark and jumps up sometimes but is overall a pretty good dog."

I hope Meeka enjoys a long and successful career at the CCMPO. Hmm. Maybe my Jackson the cocker spaniel can go out and get a job. We do need the extra income.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cliff Collapse Drama

I love the fact everybody has a camera nowadays to capture drama as it happens.

For example, I'll take you to Cornwall, Britain. On Sept. 23, some seaside cliffs collapsed. This wasn't just a few rocks and pebbles rolling down the hill. Basically, a mountain fell into the ocean. How cool is that?! I just love things that go boom, take up a lot of space and stir up a lot of dust.

 (By the way, nobody got hurt. Reports are geologists saw this coming, and roped off the area and warned people away)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Spinning and Not Getting Anywhere

Ever have a day like this? You feel like you're spinning and spinning but not getting anything done.

All you get is a headache, or vertigo, or worse. It happens to all of us. (Luckily today is better than this for me, I hope the same for you)

To demonstrate that out of control feeling, I give you Milou, a baby chimpanzee who almost spins himself into oblivion. There's a good chance you'll laugh. The thunk at the end is priceless.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Vermont Foliage in a Rippling Pond

At this time of year, zillions of photographs surface depicting Vermont's fine fall foliage. This year is no exception, and I've been among the throngs trying to get those great landscape photos of autumn colors.

Like some people, I like to play around a little bit with photography, taking shots that are just a little odd, a little different. Often, these efforts don't work out, but that's OK. The point is to have fun. Other times, the photos turn out intriguing, and I like them.

The other day, I pointed my Canon Rebel at the blue sky and colorful foliage reflected on the surface of a pond. I tried some of those mirror image shots of the pond reflection and real landscape, and they turned out OK.

But I decided to wait for a breeze to ripple the water, and took my shot then. The nice thing about the resulting photo, displayed in this post, is you really can't tell what it is. Looks like stained glass to me.

I'll keep taking traditional shots of landscapes and weather, which I like to do. And it's something I'm sometimes successful at. But the pond experience encourages me to take chances. That's the wonderful thing about digital photography. You can delete the disaster and nobody is the wiser.

National Idiot Day

Some days, the news is filled with people being idiots more so than usual. So maybe National Idiot Day was yesterday or today.

The Republican debates, one of which was last night, are always fodder for laughs at some of the things candidates said. Michelle Bachman thinks Herman Cain's 999 plan might be the devil's work because if you turn "999" upside down, you get "666"

Rick Perry said the American Revolution happened in the 16th century.  But enough politics.

We also have the victims of a Danvers, Mass. corn maze. Seems mom, dad, and three-month old baby got lost in the corn maze. It was getting dark and they couldn't find their way out. So they called the cops.
The corn maze in Danvers, Mass. where a
family called 911 because they were lost

Um, I hate to be Captain Obvious here, but couldn't they, uh, bushwhack through the corn instead of following the zigzag paths of the maize maze if they were that stuck?

Mom says she's never taking her three month old out again. That's a little overprotective, if you ask me. But then again, if mom gets lost that easily, and panics that easily, maybe it's all for the best.

Next, we move on to New York, where some guy took the subway. Which is fine, since millions of people do that routinely. But he did it while clinging to the outside of the subway car. I sort of wanted the guy to fall off and touch the third rail, just out of spite of his stupidity.

The NYPD Transit Bureau, in a fit of understatement, had this response: "The act shown in this video is both stupid and dangerous." Yeah, I'd say so.

Here's the video of this moron:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall, I Mean, Sesame Street

Like lots of Americans, I've been watching the growing Occupy Wall Street demonstrations across the country. They're lashing out against the growing income inequity in this country, and the perception that the playing field isn't level any more, that the big wigs are calling all the shots, at the expense of the rest of us.
Bert runs afoul of police during Occupy Wall Street
or Sesame Street protests

It was inevitable these protests would spread to Sesame Street, as can be seen in this photo blog. Muppets unite!   Great photoshopping, anyway.

Where will the protests spread to next? Maybe the Brady Bunch will get involved. But probably not. It would just devolve into Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.

I suppose the Teletubbies could get involved, but I don't think they can chant much. They just make those weird noises, so they might be ineffective. I also don't think Tinky Winky would make a great protest spokescreature.

I think the Looney Tunes characters from the Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour would be great at this.  The coyote could give the ill-fated Acme products to the Wall Street bigwigs, and the Road Runner would then chase the big wigs to hilarious, explosive results.

Bugs Bunny can go onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, say "Nyah, What's up doc?" then throw a carrot into the works, setting off a chain of events that throws every hedge fund in the world into total disarray.

I don't trust Elmer Fudd with his gun. He'd probably yell about the Second Amendment, and team up with the hedge fund managers and chant "Kill the wabbit!"

It could get violent.

Then Pepe LePew could come onto the floor of the NYSE and save the day. I don't think the super rich tolerate skunks that well.

There could also be some infighting. I think Tweetie Bird and Sylvester the Cat would be too busy fighting each other to fight for justice.  But these kinds of protests always have their share of internal discord, so they'll work it out.

The best part of the Looney Tunes protest would come from the Tazmanian Devil. Just unleash him in the opulent penthouses in the Upper East Side and watch him single handedly bring down the rich and powerful.

I don't know if any of this is plausible, but hell, you've got to make social change fun somehow, right?

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Vermont Flowers Still Bloom

It's been a warm autumn in Vermont so far. The foliage season is here, although it's hitting later than it usually does.
Sedum in my garden still glows pink in the warm
late afternoon sun on Sunday. 

The summer-like fall weather is both good and bad, but mostly good. On the minus side, I'm still getting chewed up by mosquitoes outdoors, which has never happened to me in October before.

On the (very) plus side, flowers are still blooming, as we haven't yet had a very harsh frost yet, at least in Vermont's Champlain Valley.

The sedum in particular seems especially vibrant this year. A shout out to my friend Denis Desjarlais for giving me the sedum as a gift this summer.

So, foliage and flowers. You can't beat that when you're outside in the fall in your summer clothes.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Vermont Puppy Loves Indian Summer

Yesterday, we here in Vermont managed to get in a gorgeous warm, sunny day on a Saturday. So we could actually enjoy it.

Jackson, our cocker spaniel, knows at age six months that it's October, so you'd better get outside when you can. Winter's coming.

So he romped around in the sun with the rest of us. He's just more photogenic than a lot of humans

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mom: Dinosaur Toys are Satan!

Not sure if this is a fake thing or not, but I found one of those little on line mom discussion groups, where moms seek and give advice to each other.

Do NOT ask me how I ended up at such a site.
Is this dino toy Satan in disguise?

Found a GREAT query from a mom who is offended somebody gave her kid toy dinosaurs.  The fun time waster is reading the hundreds of responses she got. A lot of them are hilarious.  First, here's what she says about her neighbor and the situation:

She says she is a Christian, but the Bible doesn't say anything about dinosaurs. Should I let him keep them, as long as he understands that dinosaurs aren't real? Even the PBS shows that he watches talk about dinosaurs and evolution, and how the scientists found these "bones" but the Bible doesn't say that God ever created them, and the earth is only 6,000 years old, not old enough to have "bones" that they say are MILLIONS of years old! I know that Satan tries to trick us in many ways, and this is one way that he tries to fool man into believing that there isn't a God who created the universe. How can they be bones when they are made out of ROCKS? I told my son that dinosaurs are one of Satan's many ways of tricking man, and he must talk to God before he plays with them. Am I handling this right? My first 3 were all girls, and I adopted boys, and lots of mothers tell me that boys are often attracted to these dinosaurs. So I don't know what to do. Is this just harmless fantasy play for him, or should I be worried that he may go on to believe in things like evolution?

Do you have any advice for this woman? If so, put them in the comments section of this post. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dog to Cop: Thanks Bud, Can We Go Now?

Fun video I found for Friday. Doesn't start out fun. Dog gets stuck in wire fence. Cop struggles, and frees the dog. (don't worry, the dog is OK) Dog takes off. Watch what happens next. Very cute:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hey, It Still Runs. Wrecked Truck Goes

We've all driven vehicles with a bit of body damage. A dent here, a scrape there. It happens.

Today, I've got a guy who's not going to let a little body damage to a pickup truck stop him. No sir! A flaming building had collapsed onto the Ford truck. Almost half the truck was missing, and the other half didn't look so good.

Let's go to the tape to see how the driver did:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Christie Too Round For the Oval?

The fat police are probably happy New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided not to run for president.

There were a few people out there who had said Christie is unqualified to be president because he is rather portly. An example was a column by Gene Robinson that raised the question of Christie's weight and the wisdom of running for president. Robinson's column wasn't too bad until he ended with the snarky unsolicited advice for Christie: "Eat a salad and take a walk."
I don't know if Chris Christie is qualified to be president or not,
but is his weight the deciding factor?

That made me run for the cupboard to scarf down some Twinkies.

Is that really the thing to focus on? He's fat? So skinny people are automatically qualified to be president? And fat people should just go off in the corner and eat their Doritos and shut up? If skinny means you're smart and disciplined, how to you explain skinny dumb slackers?

The beef with the beefy Christie, at least among some of those critics, is the fact that he is fat means that he is undisciplined. Um, Christie was somehow disciplined enough to become governor of New Jersey. He didn't get that far swilling Pabst Blue Ribbon and stuffings Cheetos into his cheeks.

Besides, most people have undisciplined corners of their lives even when they manage to focus on other things. President Obama struggled with cigarettes. Rick Perry says he was a lackluster college student, and he actually seems proud of that. We won't even get into the otherwise smart and hard working Bill Clinton's lapses into, um, extracurricular activities during his presidency.

Aren't there other, more important things to consider when evaluating Christie?  Little things, like his political positions, his demeanor, whether he is able to work with others. Can he negotiate? Be firm when need be? Understand complex policy?

I won't offer an opinion here on whether or not I like Christie's politics. But are looks the best way to judge who would make the best leader? I thought we're electing presidents, not studs and fashion models.   Vin Diesel for president?

While we're at it, why do some people think Hillary Clinton ought not be in public service because she wears pant suits? Must a woman look like a Playboy Bunny to run things? Do you really want a ditz to determine whether we, say, drop bombs on Pakistan? Can you picture it? "Oh, I thought Pakistan was my ex's last name. I thought we were bombing my ex's house, not a whole country. Me bad. (giggle)"

As for Christie, he's pretty P.O'd with the pundits talking about his weight. But he does make the distinction between pundits and comedians. Christie says he's a public figure, so he's fair game for the comedians. As long as they're funny, he said.

You know what? After this, maybe we should elect somebody who is very ugly for president. Physically, I mean. Could be the start of a brand new political trend

I dunno. That seems like discrimination to me. There's lots of legitimate ways

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bad Boss Starts Contest, Employees Flee

Want a job?

I bet there's openings at QC Mart.   I also bet you don't want to work there, even if you're down to your last dime and living in a discarded refrigerator box down by the railroad yard,

Turns out he boss, William Ernst of the Iowa-based chain of convenience stores, had a nice little contest for employees, where he encouraged them to guess which coworker would get fired next, according to the Des Moines Register. 

The lucky store clerk who stabbed his co-worker in the back and accurately predicted the firing would win, get this, a whopping $10. Whoopee!!!

Some employees objected to this contest, and quit. All this came to light when one of the employees filed for unemployment, Ernst contested it, and the case went to a judge.

Said Administrative Law Judge, Susan Ackerman, sided with the employee: She said, in part:
"The employer's actions have clearly created a hostile work environment by suggesting its employees turn on each other for a minimal monetary prize," she wrote. "This was an intolerable and detrimental work environment."

Too bad Ackerman is such a killjoy. I imagine her ruling will discourage other employers from creating any more, um, innovative, employee contests.  Imagine the other cruel contests employers could dream up, just to be mean. (That seems to be the American way, in the eyes of a few employers out there)

Maybe a $20 prize for the correct guess as to which co-worker keels over and dies next because they have no insurance.  How about $25 for the person who correctly guesses how many pints of blood another co-worker loses during an accident with faulty equipment.

Here in Vermont, we don't have any QC Marts, so we can't join in the fun of this happy little corporation.  So we'll just have to marvel at the company's unique management style from afar.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dogs Better Than "Sit, Stay!"

My dog Jackson, at just over five months old, is still a work in progress in the obedience department.

He's a bit like a teenager now. Sweet much of the time, and defiant every once in awhile. And prone to mistakes. But he's a smart little boy, and I'm sure the kinks will be worked out soon. He is learning fast, so I'm happy.

As smart and clever Jackson is, I still doubt he will match the discipline and athleticism in the following two videos. First is a dog that is sooooo good at resisting temptation. I could learn from him, because if you so much as put a cookie in front of me, I eat it. Watch:

Next, we have a dog who might have a future career in the NBA:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Waves of Joggers, Bicyclists Assaulted by Waves

I'm whining about this weekend's dismal weather here in Vermont. It's cold, with almost continuous rain. Not great for outdoor work, or leaf peeping. But it's always worse somewhere.

Take the video in this post, for instance. The other day, it was very windy in Chicago. Despite that, people went out for runs or bicycle trips along a path near Lake Shore Drive. But the wind, and high-ish water had other plans for these people. Luckily, nobody got hurt, though a puppy was washed into the lake and needed a daring rescue. (Puppy's fine, though)

Below is a video of said waves taking out runners and bicyclists.  So if you're having a bad day, rest assured somebody else had a worse day recently:

Music: No Need for Lyrics

Found this fun little trip down memory lane. Three musicians decide to take samples of hit songs from the 1960s through 2008 that at least partly get by without lyrics. Just different vocal sounds. Most of the songs are great classics, too. Works for me:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Summer is OVER! But Fun Lingers

Here I sit in St. Albans, Vermont on a Saturday morning, October 1, and summer is definitely over. After a couple weeks of summer-like weather, it's 43 degrees, raining like heck and there's a nasty north wind blowing.

Not a day for the beach.

But it's fun to remember summer. To help, I have this fun video of a bunch of kids doing a water show in a neighborhood pool. It will really make you smile, it's so goofy, but it's great. I'll betch $10 you can't get through the video without at least grinning a little: