Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cooking With Poo, and Lots of Sand Dredging

Being in a silly mood recently, I was looking at Buzzfeed and found a small item on the strangest book titles.

The winner was called "Cooking With Poo" which honestly doesn't sound that appetizing. I had to wonder if restaurants did this, the health authorities would certainly disapprove.

I thought maybe the book was a takeoff on the Food Network show "Chopped" in which chefs must make delicious meals out of strange ingredients, but I doubt even TV would go as far as Poo.

On the other hand, my dog Jackson goes out in the yard and tries to eat the poo left by the flock of wild turkeys that keep wandering by. But that's another story.

Luckily,  if you read the fine print, "Cooking With Poo" is a Thai cookbook, and the word "poo" means "crab"

So, we're really cooking with crab, which is another, much better thing altogether. We can all take a big sigh or relief now. And I do feel sorry for the author, who is probably a very good cook and is getting picked on for her book she innocently titled, and we all have a middle school mentality.

It turns out that the "Poo" cookbook and many other bizarre titles are the subject of a contest. The Diagram Contest has for years honored, if you can call it that, strange book titles, according to an article in the Telegraph of London. 

I was especially taken by one of the runners up in the list of silly titles. It's called "A Century of Sand Dredging in the Bristol Channel, Volume II."

Volume II!?!?!?   There's that much to say about digging sand out of a channel? The book, running all of 128 pages, is probably for those people who have insomnia and are loathe to take sleeping pills. I'd read the book to see if there's anything to say, other than people dig sand out of channels.

Maybe there's hilarious stories of people, um, spilling sand on themselves? Accidentally getting sand grains in their sandwiches during lunch? Building elaborate sand castles? Do they use little plastic shovels and buckets to do their work, like a toddler at a beach? Maybe this is interesting after all. Or not.

Past winners of the Diagram awards have been intriguing to say the least. The first year of the awards, in 1978, the big winner was "Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice." I wonder if this international workshop goes on to this day.  And are nude mice a problem or something to be celebrated.

Other winners include:

1986: "Oral Sadism and The Vegetarian Personality." I never realized vegetarians have so much fun, so to speak.

1990: "Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual." This sadomasochism seems to be a recurring theme in the Diagram Awards. I'm glad there's a safety manual, though. I support anything that keeps health care costs down.

1994: "Highlights in the History of Concrete": Hey, concrete is partly made from sand. I bet a new book, a collaboration of the guy who wrote the sand dredging book would be interesting.

2002: "Living With Crazy Buttocks" I'd commit suicide inside if I had crazy buttocks, whatever that is.

2004: "Bombproof Your Horse" Because there's nothing worse than an exploding equine.

2006: "The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification": Oooh! Look, a rare Target cart in that ditch near the Interstate interchange. Get a photo before it disappears!

2007: "If You Want Closure In Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs."  Good advice!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dogging It In the Snow

When you're a little dog in Vermont, sometimes the snow is just too much.

Jackson, the cocker spaniel that lives with Jeff and me, discovered this in our yard Sunday. The snow was pretty deep for his little legs. He gamely played as he always does, but the fatigue eventually set in, as this picture series shows: (click on the photos to embiggen them, and get a better view)
Phew! That icy hill was a tough climb!

I think I'll just rest here for a moment

Better yet, it's time to retreat to the warm, sunny  couch
in the living room.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Amazing Snow Circle Art Not The Work of Space Aliens

We finally had a decent snow storm in Vermont the other day, and it is nice to see that clean, fresh blanket of white, instead of the brown grass, dirty patches of ice and muddy hillsides we'd gotten used to this time of year.

It's hard to improve on such a white landscape, but out in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, an artist named Sonja Hinrichsen has done it.

The artist, along with some assistants, paintakingly, carefully carved beautiful circles and spirals into a snowy landscape by walking in snowshoes in precise patterns. Of course, this being snow, the art didn't last, but luckily, the work was photographed.

The patterns in the snow make the field the work was done on resemble an intricately woven fabric. More pictures are at this Flickr Page.

And here's a great video, taken from the air, as the project was nearing completion. So cool!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

LOTS of Beer For Angela Merkel

If you feel boneheaded for screwing something up, tripping over someone, or just briefly being an idiot, watch the video below from a German news broadcast. You're sure to feel better about yourself afterward, because you surely didn't screw up that badly.

Seems German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hard working woman that she is, finally got a chance to sit down for a nice beer. She runs the right country to do that, after all.

Along comes her server, who, well, watch. The newscast is in German, but you don't need a translation. At least Merkel appeared to take the incident in good humor.

Vermont Flurries In One Town, Buried in the Next

You've watched me marvel at the weird, warm winter we've had in Vermont this year, and that trend got weirder over the weekend.

Most of us in the state got a small snowstorm, two to six inches of snow. Run of the mill February weather.

Here in St. Albans, Vermont, where I live, we got five inches of snow. Ho-hum. But the storm focused on the mountain range just to my east, where up to three feet of snow fell. You go from practically nothing to completely buried in just a few miles.

This morning I drove the short 13 miles from my five inches of snow to that nearly three feet in Bakersfield.

Within ten minutes of leaving my house, I was in the middle of the old fashioned winter Vermont has lacked this year. I'm sure glad I didn't have to unbury these cars, or shovel the 30 inches of snow out of my driveway.

For once, as much as I like to play in deep snow, I'm glad the storm missed my place. Scroll down for a couple more photos.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

That Damn Goldfish Ain't Narcing to No Copper!

There's an endless supply of dumb criminals out there, but what really disturbs me is they are getting even dumber. I thought that was impossible.

Exhibit A in this fear is a 16 year old burglar in Illinois who killed goldfish in the house he was looting because he didn't want to leave any witnesses to his crime, according to Daily Herald Web site
A dead goldfish, like the ones a 16-year-old killed in
Illinois so the fish wouldn't talk to cops.

He apparently poured hot sauce, mustard, ketchup and spices into the fish tank to kill all three of them.

What did the kid think the goldfish would do? I could see it now:

Detective: All right, just the facts, ma'am, I mean goldfish, What did ya see?
Goldfish: Oh, it was so scary. He was big, bigger than me.
Detective: Well, you are a little goldfish.
Goldfish, Yeah, I guess, but anyway, he was about six feet tall, skinny, wearing those saggy jeans. I thought they'd fall into my tank here and kill e. I was so scared."
Detective: Those saggy pants are scary. Here, have a Valium to calm down. What did he take:
Goldfish: (Sobbing) All of my fish food. And the little underwater palm tree and bridge I like to play around in. What am I going to do?
Detective: We'll get him. Don't worry.

The real person who investigating the burglary, Arlington Heights, Illinois Police Detective Mike Hernandez, apparently didn't interview the goldfish because 1. They were dead and 2. Is apparently sane and doesn't talk to fish.

Hernandez, according to the Daily Herald said the goldfish killing, and the reason for it, "is a little disturbing."

Police did not identify the goldfish murderer, because the case is being handled in juvenile court. Too bad, I'd love to know what the kid thought the goldfish would say.

Luckily the police caught the kid, so there's no goldfish serial killer out there, thank gawd.

Friday, February 24, 2012

It's Friday, Time to Party With the Monkeys!

I found a goofy little video from the BBC about monkeys who like to get drunk, like some people do on a Friday night.

Interestingly, the report says roughly the same percentage of monkeys as humans are teetotalers, or drink but stop before they get too drunk, or keep drinking until they're completely schnockered.

While humans tend to disrespect fellow humans who imbibe too much and make fools of themselves, the monkeys in the video tend to look at their most drunken companions as leaders.

Oh well. Enjoy the video below and don't make a monkey out of yourself by drinking and driving.

More Lake Champlain Clouds

This mild winter, I've been repeatedly drawn to Burlington's Waterfront Park, as the clouds over the strangely unfrozen lake have featured this wonderful mix of dark and light, sun rays breaking through rthe clouds, and a mix of warm and  cold colors.

You've seen several photos I've taken down there in this blog over the past couple weeks. I couldn't resist a couple more.  I took these on a pleasant 50 degree Wednesday afternoon, as a small, but rollicking storm approached.

The storm would bring quick downpours, bursts of huge snowflakes and some rumbles of thunder later that night. It was as if winter and spring were arguing with each other as to which should be the dominant feature of the moment.

The photos capture a bit of the mildness of the warm February day and the roiling feel of the atmosphere getting ready for at least a semi-storm.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Delete Those Annoying Facebook Photos, Sue!

It always comes down to lawsuits.

You take a simple problem with a simple solution, and get the lawyers involved. It's the American Way.

The latest case is from Minnesota where a guy is mad is uncle posted somewhat embarrassing childhood photos of him, with a few snarky comments. You could just delete the photos, but nope, let's sue!

Well, the guy, Aaron Olson's been trying to sue his uncle, but so far the courts have been unsympathetic. A judge recently threw out Olson's suit.

And by the way, the lawyers weren't heavily involved in this case, as it turns out. Olson represented himself. Kind of badly, according to the court papers.

Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of good reasons for lawsuits. They can bring justice to people who were seriously wronged, and help people who have been financially devasasted recover.

But really. Suing over some stupid Facebook photos? I could see a lawsuit if the photos made the person out to be some monster, or icky criminal and a child molester or something.

These photos were pretty tame, we're told. And it's not hard to untag a photo somebody's put on your Facebook wall. Try it! It's easy!

I haven't seen the photos in question. They've been deleted from Facebook, which is probably just as well. Now Olson can sue any photographer who might have (perfectly legally) photographed him entering or leaving court. You have to keep those judges busy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Derkin Tokmak Probably Can't Get a Handicapped Parking Sticker

My hero of the day is Derkin Tokmak, a performer with Circ du Soleil. I found a video of his that's absolutely amazing that you can see at the bottom of this post.

Tokmak, 28, contracted polio when he was one year old, according to his Web site's bio.  He was left without control of his left leg, and he lack some control of his right leg.

Despite that, he grew up to become a break dancer, then hooked up with Circ du Soleil. His prowess at dancing, using his crutches as part of his breathtaking, acrobatic act, probably means the DMV would turn him down for a handicapped parking sticker. 

It appears Tokmak doesn't care about that. Watch him dance, so next time you won't whine about how you move a little awkwardly after twistting your ankle a bit:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Four Minutes of B-52s Insanity

Yesterday, while marveling at a certain televangelist's hair in this here blog thingy, I referenced the B-52s and wondered if they would be mad because the televangelist stole their style.

That got me thinking I should demonstrate the B-52s style. What better way than to show you a video of one of my all time favorite songs, "Rock Lobster?"

You have to appreciate a record in which the band gives credit to the person who plays the smoke alarm as part of the song.

So, here we go, More than four minutes of the best insanity you'll ever see.


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Televangelist With the, Um, Amazing Hair

Hats off to Jan Crouch for having the world's best hair style.

Of course, you can't put a hat on her hair, so I guess it's hat's off, permanently.

Jan Crouch and her husband Paul are televangelists with the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Her hair is better than even the most elaborate drag queens I've seen.  So today, in pictures in this post, I'm celebrating Jan Crouch for her epic 'do.

Inquiring minds want to know:  How does she do it? How much product is in it? Has she single-handedly destroyed the ozone layer? Do televangelists have tall hair because it brings them closer to God? Does she have to stay away from careless smokers because her hair is so flamable?  Does somebody have to carry a fire extinguisher and follow her wherever she goes, just in case?

Does anything live in there?  How does she sleep with that hair? What does it look like first thing in the morning? How long does it take to fix up for the day? Is it heavy? If so, is her neck unusually strong? Could she use the hair as a weapon? Has she used it as a weapon, and if so, was she charged with assault with a deadly weapon? Or assault with a hairy weapon?

Can you see her hairdo from space, via satellite? Are the B-52s mad at her for copying their style?

Scroll down for more breathtaking looks at Jan Crouch's daring hair styles.

Meanwhile, in Sydney

Random video I found of a free spirit dancer at the Sydney, Australia airport. Hey, you gotta appreciate that he's happy:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Springtime in a Vermont February

Around where I live in far northwestern Vermont, spring is busting out all over. At least Vermont's version of spring. And it's a good month early.

Usually, there's a good foot of snow on the ground in mid-February, temperatures routinely hit zero or lower, and there's seemingly no hope of spring ever arriving.
Mid-February in Vermont? Spring daffodils
break ground in St. Albans. 

Today, I spotted a daffodil shoot coming up near a sunny corner of my shed. There's absolutely no snow on the ground. Sugar shacks are boiling maple sap to make syrup, a full month ahead of schedule.

Underfoot, it's squishy mud season. I've been able to get outside to do early spring chores, like cleaning up leaves, cutting brush and trees. I was even able to dig up some dirt in sunny, south facing areas as I work to expand perennial gardens

Of course, I have to do the work now, because the other shoe will drop. Come April, when I really want to go to town getting my gardens going, I guarantee, we'll get snowstorm after snowstorm.

Maybe we can make giant snowmen on Mother's Day. Or at this rate, they'll cancel Fourth of July fireworks because of the snowstorm?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

White Stripes Meet a Science Lab

I found a neat video. It's a remake of the White Stripes song "Seven Nation Army," which was a big hit in 2003.

In this version, people used actual sounds and video footage taken inside a science lab, painstakingly edited it, and ended up with a great version of the song. Watch:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Devil Dog?

Is your dog running wild through your house? Chewing up your favorite shoes? Eating your homework?

It might not be normal dog behavior, says a woman named Olga Horvat. She says maybe your dog is possessed by the devil.
My dog Jackson. Is he possessed
by the devil?

According to the article I found a couple months ago, Horvat fortunately has a solution for you. For the low, low, price of just $186, you can buy a devil-deflecting pendant for your dog to ward off this satanic behavior.

Yes, your dog can be that nice calm, saintly animal you always wanted.

As for me, nah. My dog Jackson is a devilish little guy. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

No War Until After Madonna Concert, Please

Nobody likes war. War is so deadly, so destruction, so disruptive. War can interrupt your concert plans.

But luckily, a Facebook group has come to the rescue to possibly postpone a potential war between Iran and Israel, at least until after a planned May 29 Madonna concert in Tel Aviv.
Is Madonna's planned May 29 concert in
Tel Aviv a good excuse to postpone
a nuclear war?

As you've heard on the news, the governments of Iran and Israel hate each other. Iran basically wants Israel to disappear from the face of the year. Israel objects to Iran so much they are allegedly killing its nuclear scientists and threatening to bomb Iran to bits to get rid of their nuclear program that Israel says Iran wants to use in a nasty war.

That's serious stuff.  Especially since  Madonna, smarty that she is, would probably cancel her concert if there's a war going on around Tel Aviv. Especially a nuclear war. The war would hurt ticket sales, and exploding bombs would surely disrupt her eye-catching stage show.

But, the Facebook group figures, if you wait to start the war until after the concert, everybody can have a good time with Madonna, and not waste money on pricey concert tickets that would become useless if the concert is canceled.

Methinks this Facebook group is on to something. There can be a variety of things Facebook groups can postpone, postpone and postpone.  Nobody likes trying to meet the IRS April 15 deadline to pay taxes, for example, so maybe a Facebook group can get the IRS to postpone the deadline until, say,  Lady Gaga's 50th anniversary tour some decades from now.

Or we can postpone death until after Justin Bieber's grandson becomes a big pop smash. Hey, it's worth trying.

People, Animals Do Cool Things

It's a little late to be offering more 2011 compilation videos, but this one is great.

It's four minutes of people and animals really doing cool things. Look for my favorites in the video: The jump roping car, the upside down ball juggler and the old lady whacking the bank robbers with her purse. I'm sure you'll have other favories.

It's amazing how creative people and dogs and whatnot are. Watch and enjoy:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Magical Saint Bernard Rain Forest

Here's a fun random video I found: It shows 42 St. Bernards romping with a child in a British Columbia rain forest. Very magical feel to it, and the sound of 42 St. Bernards romping around and huffing and puffing is pretty cool.

The St. Bernards are from Lasquite Saint Bernards, a breeder out there in British Columbia. Here's the very fun video:

Adele's Tearjerker, Analyzed, Newtered

It's all Adele, all the time, since she took home those six Grammys on Sunday.

One of the songs that won a Grammy was her sad breakup song, "Someone Like You." The song's been the subject to a lot of analysis lately, because everyone who hears it says it makes them cry. (And here I thought I was the only one who reacted to that great tune like that)
Adele struggles to hold on to all six of the
Grammys she won Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal got all scientific on us, saying there was a musical method called appoggiaturas that naturally inspires us to cry. Hmmm. "appoggiaturas" sounds like the technical name of some nasty STD, but it's not.

According to the WSJ article by Michaeleen Doucleff, appoggiaturas is "an ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound."

That sounds awful, like an off-key orchestra to me, but it's a lot more subtle than that, apparently.

Appoggiaturas is hard to explain but if you listen to the song, Adele sings, "...someone like"

The way she breaks up the "you" as she's singing is supposed to trigger our brains to get all emotional on us.

But Dan Wilson, who co-wrote "Someone Like You" with Adele, told NPR Monday the first he heard of appogiaturas was when he read the Wall Street Journal article. 

Wilson, sensibly enough, doesn't approach songwriting in a scientific way. Neither does Adele, apparently. Wilson said a good song that people can relate to will make people emotional. It's that simple.

 With Adele, we wrote this song that was about a desperately heartbreaking end of a relationship, and she was really, really feeling it at the time, and we were imaginatively creating," Wilson says. "That walked her back through that experience. And when you and l listen to that song, we walk through her shoes through that heartbreaking experience — but it's in our imagination. And so instead of being devastating, we're like children play-acting. We get to have an imaginative experience."

Hell, it even looks as if dogs get into the emotional act, as you can see in the vid within this blog of the sad French bulldog getting over the breakup of a romance to Adele's "Someone Like You." The vid also gives you a chance to hear parts of the song for yourself, to see if you can detect the "appogiaturas."

Whatever the reasoning behind the song, there's bound to be parodies of something this popular. The funniest one was a video I found that takes footage of Adele at the Grammys and does a reworked voice over of "Someone Like You" as a slam on Newt Gingrich.

This is a nonpartisan blog, so the opinions expressed in the video are not necessarily my own. And of course, dear readers, if you find great parodies of any of the other presidential candidates, let me know and I can feature them.

Meanwhile, enjoy (or curse) the opus: "Someone Like Newt" by the fake Adele.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Update: British Video'd Phone Thief Caught

To the surprise of nobody, the guy I wrote about Sunday who was on the British train  Feb. 2 and stole somebody's mobile phone and not caring that another mobile phone user was filming him and yelling at him has been cited.
Ross Heckman, the "nasty little scrote" who stole
a phone and posed with it for an outraged passenger.
He was ID'd Tuesday.

The British Transport Police gave Ross Heckman, 21, of Addlestone, Surrey what is termed a "caution," according to the Web site Get Surrey

As an aside, I love the way the British say things. In the comments section of the Get Surrey article, someone called Heckman a "nasty little scrote."  I'll have to borrow that expression in the future when describing someone unpleasant

Anyway, Heckman has to cough up the equivalent of $782, write a letter of apology to the woman he stole the phone from, and stay out of trouble until at least June 14.

A pretty light punishment, if you ask me, but then you figure the whole world now knows who the thief was and where he lives, so he's going to be living in hell for awhile. I'm sure he'll be hounded by neighbors, and especially that notoriously wild British press.

Oh well, Ross, live and learn, right?

The Martha Stewart Dog

While Jeff was away this weekend, working his butt off on 12 to 14 hour days, Jackson the dog and I were lounging around the house, getting nothing accomplished.

Yeah, Jeff's the ambitious one in the household.

I snapped a pic of Jackson lazing on the couch. Looks like a tastefully disheveled photo set for a Martha Stewart magazine layout. It's a glorious portrait of sloth.

The BEST Whitney Houston Tribute Ever!

I know, I know, the tragic death of Whitney Houston is all over the news, and you probably didn't want me to go on and on here, but bear with me. This is good.

Of all the tributes to Houston I've seen, this one's the best. It's a 90 year old woman marking the singing sensation's passing by dancing to Houston's hit, "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."
This wonderful 90-year-old woman offered the
best Whitney Houston tribute I've seen.

The video came from a Facebook page called "My 90-Year-Old Grandma,"put together by her loving grandson, who takes care of her.

The woman likes to dance, and here's a great passage from the Facebook page, noting that the woman enjoys dancing in the car when a good song comes on the radio. Here's the dialogue:

Grandma: "I should stop dancing or everyone will think there's a crazy old lady having a seizure."
Grandson: "Don't worry. The windows are tinted. I don't think they can see in."
Grandma: "Then roll down the windows!"

You gotta love a lady like that.  Of course I love anyone who makes a lie out of the stereotype that old age means no movement, no fun, no joy. I wish everyone had a woman as vivacious as this in their lives.

Here's this wonderful woman's Whitney Houston tribute. It will make you smile even if you are mourning the singer's passing:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fly, Robin Fly

I did an article for the Burlington Free Press on the fact that robins this year are basking in the warmth and bounty of a Vermont winter.

Yes, I know a Vermont winter is barren, cold, snow covered and empty, but this year is different. Lots of berries are left over on trees from a wet summer and fall. The ground has little or no snow, so there's plenty of food there. Less importantly but still significant, it hasn't been that cold, so those robins aren't exactly freezing to death.
A robin I photographed for the Burlington Free Press
story I wrote on robins wintering in Vermont

The robins I've seen around my house all winter look happy enough, except when my dog Jackson decides they're great toys to chase. (Jackson is always so disappointed when the robins fly away. They're supposed to stay on the ground so he can catch them.)

Just because my ADHD brain runs off on tangents, often cheesy, campy tangents, all these robins made some 1970s disco highlights pop into my head. I just love that era, so icky, so kitschy, so gold lame, so sexual in a one night stand sort of way.

Specifically, the winter robins made Silver Connection's epic 1975 disco hit, "Fly Robin Fly," pop into my head.

I find it striking that the entire lyrics to the song consist of seven words: "Fly, robin fly. Up, up to the sky," yet there are dozens of Web sites that offer you the lyrics to the song, in case you want help memorizing it.

The video for "Fly, Robin Fly" is pure 70s schlock.  Watching it gave me a belly laugh. And if you are as sick as I am, you will too. Watch:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Camera Phone Thief Poses for Camera Phone During Theft

Now that we live in a world where everything is photographed, videoed, recorded and put up on social media, we bring you this story about the theft of a smart phone.

This thief is posing with the phone he just stole. Hmm.
Wonder if he'll get caught?
A British blogger named Matt Parker said he was on a British train late on Feb. 2  when a woman  left behind her bag. Her phone was inside the bag.

Parker intended to take the bag, with the phone, and get it back to the woman. However, a seemingly paparazzi-friendly guy on the train stole the phone. 

Parker took a video on his own smart phone of the whole thing. He yelled at the guy for awhile, trying to shame him out of the theft. The thief was undeterred, even seeming to smile for Parker's camera phone while he nonchalantly stuck with his plan to steal the phone.

A very clear still from the photo, which you see
to your right, is also getting wide publicity.

If this guy thought nobody would see the resulting video, boy he was more stupid than we thought. As of 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. , the video has had more than 270,000 hits. And since it's just starting its sharp arc of turning viral, I'm sure a million or more people will see it before the week's out.

I wonder where this loser is going to hide?

I suppose Parker could have tackled the guy, but I agree with him that it was good that he didn't. You never know what will happen, and it's not worth getting hurt over a phone.

The woman whose phone was stolen. Deonne Farquharson,  managed to get her bag containing other valuables, such as cash back, thanks to Parker.  Said she:

 ”Matt was a hero.  It was wonderful that he stood up to this guy. I am glad no one got hurt and I just hope the thief gets caught.”  :”Thankfully I only lost my new phone.  I managed to get back by bag, keys, credit cards, and cash thanks to Matt. "

As I said, Parker posted his video on YouTube.  (see below). As it's gone viral, so I'm sure somebody will turn the loser in. I'd love to see whether he's so brazen once he's inevitably caught:

The Scent of Valentine's Day

 Valentine's Day is coming up, and that means it's time to show your honey  just how much you love him or her.

My suggestion is to back sloowwwwlly away from the cliches: You know, the roses, the romantic dinner, the chocolates.
This guy stands ready to give you a romantic sewage
plant tour. Photo by Todd Maisel, New York Daily News.

So what does that leave as a Valentine's gift?  Glad you asked. I suggest a nice romantic getaway to New York City, where there is a special Valentine's Day tour of the city's Newton Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

I know, I know, sewage doesn't necessarily scream "I Love You!" but look at it this way. If you take your beau on this tour, she or he will know you thought long and hard to find something unique to give.  And isn't that the point of Valentine's Day?

Think of the special memories of this sewage tour. As plant superintendent Jim Pynn said in a New York Daily News feature on this heartwarming tour:“ 

Just imagine going home and saying, ‘Where did he take me on Valentine’s Day? I went to see the digester eggs in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.”

Those digester eggs, by the way, are a huge highlight of the tour. Basically, according to the Daily News, like a giant stomach that treats convert waste to something, well, not quite as bad, I suppose. 

Nothing says love like contemplating a digestive system. 

And after your romantic, heartwarming tour of the sewage plant, maybe you can find time and energy to explore the Fresh Kills landfill. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

An Internet Troll Found: He's As Lousy As Expected

 Darren Burton: Disgusting British Internet troll exposed.

More proof that Internet trolls are such wimps: The British Broadcasting Corp. television show "Panorama" tracked down a scumbag who put disgusting, racist rants on Facebook tribute pages of people who had recently died.

The reporter found the guy, named Darren Burton in Cardiff.  Moron Darren didn't really have much to say in the confrontation, other than to say he somehow has the right to say such stupid, toxic stuff.

The only surprising thing in the video is someone was with him. Who in the world would want to spend a minute with this moron?

The jerk said he doesn't give a second thought on how his toxic drivel would affect people reading it.

"Fxxk 'em," he said with his characteristic charm. I bet Darren's a huge hit with the ladies!

I remain absolutely fascinated by the scourge of Internet trolls, in the same way we all gawk as we pass by a really bad, multi-car pileup on the Interstate.  Except unlike the accident victims, we don't have any sympathy for the trolls. I particularly like it when a troll's real identity is exposed, so this Darren case is awesome.

For the unitiated, trolls are people who post offensive, insulting, stupid, infuriating and ugly comments on any kind of Web site, to get a rise out of people. Trolls are too stupid, too lazy, too emotionally stunted to do anything for themselves, so they sit in the basements of their parents house and spew bile all day. Not the kind of person you'd want to meet.

I haven't found much literature on why trolls do what they do. The closest thing I've come to is a piece in Gawker a few months back that tries to explain these allegedly human waste pits.

Essentially, trolls seem to think they're doing us all a favor by attacking what they see is maudlin, unnecessary sentimentality on the occasion of a person's death, or whatever emotional event is going on that they see fit to attack.

I do disagree with Gawker writer Adrian Chen, who sympathizes a bit with the trolls' goal of getting the public to stop engaging in public grief via Facebook and Twitter. Really, what's the harm if people want to indulge?

The real harm is the emotional kick in the teeth these horrible trolls inflict on families of the subjects of the memorial pages that the trolls attack. Our buddy Darren's "fxxk" 'em" attitude appears to be common,.

Chen does get one thing right; He writes: "Trolls are sociopaths, not cultural critics."

On the bright side, not too many people will mourn when the trolls die, so at least in that respect they're minimizing sad emotions by being awful.

And I'm always gleeful when a troll is exposed, like the BBC did to Darren Burton. Because it exposes them to some retaliatory hate, which might be the only way they'd understand the harm they inflict.

Still, these trolls don't stop, no matter what, sometimes even after the heat gets high. Back in November, I wrote about a moron who pretended to be a military veteran to get goodies and bragged about it on YouTube. He's still out there making more videos, but he seems to have toned it down slightly.

So, we have to live with the evil trolls, in much the same way we have to live with natural disasters, despotic dictators, war and foot fungus.

In any event, here's the video of the BBC encounter with our troll Darren:

Filling a House With Water, For the Hell of It

I don't know why I love this video. People filled the upper floors of a house with water until the floor collapsed and sent water gushing through the lower floors.  Just mindless destruction, for fun. I like it.
Some guys filled this upper floor room of a house with water
until the floor collapsed. Cool!

I used to do this thing as a kid, only small scale.  I wouldn't destroy entire houses, which is a good thing.

I guess I was a bit of a sicko. I'd dam up a small stream, build a little play town below the dam and then break the dam to create a flash flood. Or I'd pretend a box was a house, cut rectangular holes in it for windows, then set it on fire and then use a little squirt bottle to put the fire out, like a fire department.

I know, that's really weird. But it dissipated any anger or frustration I might have had. And to the relief of everybody, I outgrew this little predeliction, and don't do anything like that anymore.  That said, I'm in favor of letting go of anger by any means necessary, as long as it doesn't hurt anybody or destroy property that somebody wants.

But that doesn't stop me from enjoying other people try this sort of stuff:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Too Much Fun Skating on Norway Lake?

Here's a strange little video making the viral rounds on this here Internet thingamajig.

It's great to skate around on the (mostly) smooth ice of a frozen lake in the middle of winter. This guy, apparently fueled by LOTS of vodka, cavorts on the lake, and in the lake, with props including underwater cameras, and a chainsaw. He doesn't look cold, though I surely would be if I was crazy as this guy:

Another Round of Fails: January This Time

As I do most months, I post a compilation of fail videos from around the world, just to assure you that you are not as clumsy or stupid as some people. OK, most people. I belatedly give you a compilation from January.

This is a self-esteem exercise: When you see the dumb ideas people have, you know you're doing pretty good. And there's just some plain old bad luck mixed in, too.

For some reason, this month's compilation has a lot of fireworks mishaps. Time to celebrate, I guess.

Photography: Warm Winter Sunset

Yesterday was another uncharacteristically beautiful day in Vermont. Skies were an endless blue, the sun shone warm. It was warm. Not what you'd expect in February.

The sun is setting later and later in the evening, too, as we slowly make our way toward spring.

In the twilight as I got to my truck parked near Burlington's lakeshore to go home, I saw that Lake Champlain actually looked inviting. It's still unfrozen, a legacy of this oddly warm winter. The sky was still clear, the wind still.

The whole thing made the lake look simple, pure and calm. So I had to shoot some photos.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Man, Hungry for Criminal Charges, Threatens to Eat Cops

In my never-ending quest for ever more moronic crimes of stupidity, we go to what started as a run-of-the mill car theft last month in Indiana.

Police caught up with Paul Brock pretty quickly and made the arrest. Phew!
The very hungry alleged criminal: Paul Brock wanted
to hunt down and feast on police

Brock was simultanously rather displeased with the arrest, and was suffering a serious case of the munchies. So, to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, he threatened to eat the arresting officers, the search dogs they had with them to catch him and the officers' families.

Boy, Brock must have been famished! The handcuffs police put on Brock were a problem, and he requested they be removed so he can proceed with his hunt. Police declined to remove them, but were kind enough to add charges of intimidation and resisting arrest to the car theft and drunk driving charges he already faced.

The sympathetic police, not wanting to force Brock to go on his hunt, put him in jail instead, so he wouldn't have to go through the hassle of tracking down, killing, butchering and eating his targets. Instead, the nice lunch ladies in prison are presumably feeding him his meals.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Florida Condo Clouds Are Really Cool

An outfit called Panhandle Helicopter took this great photo of the highrises along Panama City Beach, Florida.

If winds, humidity and other weather  conditions are just right, you get these waves of fog that wash over the buildings, according to a blog by Jim Loznicka, a WJHG-TV meteorologist in Panama City.

Looks to me like the air coming off the water is almost moist enough to produce fog. When the air lifts over the buildings, it cools maybe a fraction of a degree. But the cooling is probably enough to condense the moisture in the atmosphere into fog.

Pretty cool, as you usually don't see buildings affecting the weather that directly.

Be A Rock Star When Someone Lets You Down

Recently, a relative of mine let me down big time, again. She has a habit of doing that.

No big deal, since it's her problem and everyone else around me has been terrific, so I'm doing great. (It's a long, boring story as to what happened)
Pink, seen here showing people how to recover f
from a betrayal.

In any event, I briefly found myself stewing about the actions of this relative. So, I went to Dr. Matt of All Trade's prescription to feel better and it worked like a charm.

If you find yourself in this situation, go to YouTube, and find the video to Pink's song "So What." The song is about the collapse of a romance, but it can apply to anybody who is a Jackass to you.

What you do, is sing along, loudly to the video, while watching Pink's antics and doing so repeatedly until you feel GREAT.  (Taking the riding mower for a spin down the street is optional)
The most critical lyrics are these, directed at the person who betrayed you:

"I'm alright
I'm fine
And you're a tool
So, so what
I am a rock star
I got my rock moves
And I don't need you tonight"

So here's your Video Valium of the Day:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Soul Train Flash Mob Delights

I have to say I lovd the vibe in the video I found to put at the bottom of this post. It was a flash mob of sorts in New York's Times Square as a tribute to Don Cornelius. You'll smile through the whole thing. Don't watch it at work, you'll embarrass yourself in front of your colleagues as you get FUNKY!!!!!
Dancers get down many years ago on "Soul Train."

Cornelius, who established the long-running show "Soul Train,"died recently at age 75.

I always thought of Soul Train as "American Bandstand"s older, wilder brother.  American Bandstand, though fun for me to watch as a kid, was a little too wholesome and earnest. The mostly white dancers on the show were just a little too reserved. The music they danced to was just a little too conservative, a little too mainstream.

Soul Train, on the other hand, was a hot party in the Big City, something I regretted missing out on as I sat in the living room of the family home in the Grand Metropolis of West Rutland, Vermont. (Population about 2,400 at the time)

The Soul Train music was more raw, more joyous, more raucous that the stuff you heard on American Bandstand. The dancers, mostly black, were fabulous, somehow both cool and hot, and they hinted at a sexual, dangerous audacity.

On Soul Train and in the video of the Times Square event, you see all these mod, huge afros, straight from the year 1970. Or maybe frizzy from the year 1970. The hairdos went out of style way back when, but with the death of Cornelius and the fondness and nostalgia for Soul Train and the passage of time, those afros to me are hot, hot, hot again.

I smell a fashion trend coming in those afros and big round sunglasses. Like I said, Hot!

Abortion Wars and Believing Everything You Read on the Internet

A major oops from either Congressman John Fleming, R-Louisiana or one of his staffers.

His office posted major, breaking news last week on his Facebook page. The headline on an article he or his staff found and wanted to share with his constituents was this: "Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex."
Rep. John Fleming, R-Louisiana seems to take The Onion
very, very seriously.

Fleming is a solid opponent of abortion. And we all know it's a hot button issue. People on both sides of the argument have passionate attitudes toward abortion, that's for sure.

We're not going to get into who's right on the abortion debate here. I don't have the wisdom or the wherewithal to add anything to the topic.

But there's one tiny little problem with Fleming's news flash. The abortionplex article was from The Onion,  that satirical Web site that comes up with outlandish, false news stories as comedy.

Good lord, did anyone on Fleming's staff actually read the Onion article? Even the headline?  You'd unquestioningly believe an $8 billion, 900,000 square foot abortion complex was being built in Topeka? And the article says the place has a three story nightclub and a 10-screen multiplex theater to "make abortion more of a social event." That made sense to somebody?

Plus, the fake news was old. The abortionplex piece was published in May, 2011, but got new life on the Internet thanks to last week's controversy involving the Susan G. Komen Foundation's decision, and then the reversal of its decision, to fund  breast cancer treatment at Planned Parenthood.

Fleming's Facebook post has since been taken down, but still, I think it's time for whoever is responsible for Fleming's Facebook page that heed that advice to not do anything embarrasing on the site. You'd never know who will bite back.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Promised OK Go Cool Video

I know I'm risking turning this blog thingy into an OK Go fan site, but I did promise to show you their new video last week when I displayed the group's neat Sesame Street video.

Again, OK Go, made a video that was waaaay complicated to do. Where do they find the time. In this video, they spent four months setting up a course, and four days shooting a video of a car that rigged up that has a pneumatic arm and a bunch of other features that plays music by hitting things (discarded pianos, bells, other stuff) as it drives through a desert.

Pretty awesome stuff:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Burlington Lights Up

Christmas is long gone. (Phew!) But Burlington, Vermont kept its Christmas lights up, just because nobody likes the dark and gloom of  winter.

This week, for a winter festival ongoing in Burlington, they added some big colored lights to the white theme in the main shopping district, the Church Street Marketplace.

They should put them up next Christmas. You can see the results in a photo I took on Church Street last night

A First: Fun From North Korea

I never thought I'd seen the day where I would post something about fun in North Korea. Yes, I did have something goofy on the recent death of their dictator, Kim Jong Il,but that was us reacting to their awfulness, not something awfully funny from North Korea. There is a difference.

North Korea has to be the worst place in the world. The family-run dictatorship government is a closed off cult of personality. Not only do the people who live there have no freedoms, they're basically starving and freezing because the government is so isolationist, evil, selfish and just horrible.

But, we have the video you will see at the bottom of this post. I don't know if it's North Korean propoganda about how wonderful they are, or if a sense of  humor bloomed somehow in that rocky, dictatorial soil, (This performance is in Norway)  but we have of all things, accordian players playing a hit from the 1980s.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Onion News: Oregon Euthanasia Takes a Teenage Turn

The Onion News Network the nation's most trusted news source, or at least the most satirical, has this, um, gripping report on an Oregon couple's painful decision to euthanize their teenage daughter, who is so brain damaged she can only text, groan and roll her eyes.

Employing every cliche from every network news drama story, the Onion News Network team brings us totally up to date on this highly important issue. Especially to you parents of teens.

I particularly like the shots of the protesters who don't want the girl euthanized. You can catch demonstrators carrying signs that read "Trying on clothes is proof of life" and "Caitlin isn't brain-dead. She's just an idiot."

And you have to feel for Caitlin's mom, who urges viewers in the report to "go home and hug their kids, and be thankful they don't have such a piss poor attitude."

Also, when watching the video, stay on to the end for a glimpse of upcoming news story of utmost importance.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Piggy Prank on Police in Vermont

The Burlington Free Press in Vermont broke a big oinky piece of news this afternoon with word that Vermont State Police have been seriously pranked by inmates at a jail.

Free Press writer Mike Donoghue reports that one or more prisoners at a jail in St. Albans, Vermont altered the decal that goes on state vehicles. Part of the decal has an image of a Holstein cow (this type of cow is a Vermont icon.) They changed the pattern on the cow's shoulder to look like a pig.
The altered image of the cow on a Vermont State Police decal.
Photo by Mike Donoghue, Burlington Free Press.

Full disclosure: I work at the Free Press. But I can never resist sharing coworkers' stuff when it's this good.

Anyway, the anti-police crowd sometimes calls police pigs, so this might not go over well in Vermont law enforcement.

It looks like the State Police is trying to figure out how many vehicles have this altered decal, and are also saying the Vermont Department of Corrections has a lot of 'splainin' to do, as Ricky Ricardo might have said.

Reaction to the piggy prank is mixed. Some people are congratulating whichever inmate did this for his creativity, others are annoyed there was no oversight.

Do read the Free Press article. It is something. Plus it's entertaining to check out readers' comments. I'm betting the paper will have updates, too.

No word yet on whether the paper will get comments from the Muppets' Miss Piggy. 

OK Go Teaches Us Our Colors

I post videos by the group OK Go whenever I come across one. I'm such a fan of their intricate, amazingly done music videos. If you don't like it, tough, just indulge me here.

The group just did a piece for Sesame Street, teaching kids all about primary colors and what they do. A nice basic lesson, yes, but boy, the kids will remember their colors forever if they watch this short, but delightful video at the bottom of this post.

There's also apparently a new video coming out Sunday or Monday, so I bet I'll have another post about OK Go next week.  Their best video is probably the one involving a huge Rube Goldberg set up that is absolutely fascinating.

Meanwhile, enjoy OK Go's trip to Sesame Street.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

$5,300 For A Snotty Tissue?

For sale: A 2005 Chrysler 300C, only about 19,000 miles on the odometer. Kelley Blue Book says it's worth about $14,300. Asking price $1 million.

Barack Obama once owned the car. So the "Obamacar" can sell for a ridiculous amount, says its current owner Tim O'Boyle.
Is this car worth $1 million to you?

So far, no takers, and some experts say the Chrysler will "only" fetch maybe $100,000.

This got me thinking about the sky high prices people will pay for weird things that had the honor of being touched by celebrities. I guess that makes them magical.

Some examples:
In 2008, Jay Leno got Scarlett Johansson to blow her nose into a piece of tissue. The snotty tissue later sold for $5,300. I hope the person who bought it got a nasty cold.

A piece of gum that Britney Spears once gnawed on fetched $4,000.  Some French toast that Justin Timberlake couldn't finish eating was purchased for $3,154. I wonder if the French toast was worth more once it really started to rot.

Justin Bieber once sold a piece of his hair for $40,668, but at least the proceeds went to a good cause: Rehabilitating animals.

Old-timey celebrity detritus also sells for big money. A battered hat once worn by John Wayne sold for $119,500. A chest X-ray performed on Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s costs its buyer $45,000.

I can't find a clear explanation for this insanity. I'm sure some people see this stuff as an investment. Buy something weird for a ridiculous price, then try to sell it to some other sucker, I mean buyer, for a higher price. Some researchers refer to the phenomenon as "contagion," with the notion that the stuff some celebrity touched has some sort of essense that can be transferred. Or something.

Geez, there's all kinds of contagion you could get from this stuff. Britney's gum? What else was she chewing the night she had that gum?  And how long was Justin Timberlake's French toast left out on the table. How many flies landed on it?

An article from June at speculated that people just want to fantasize about being the celebrity who owned it. The article quoted psychotherapist Joan Ingber, who said, "Maybe it's a way for someone to slip into the celebrity's skin and the trappings of their lives."

But why spend tens of thousands of dollars on memorabilia to vicariously live the life of a celebrity, when you can go to, watch Entertainment Tonight, or buy a supermarket tabloid to get the dirt on what your favorite celebrity is doing? Then you can just pretend you're in the middle of the scandal du jour of the week if that's how you get your kicks.

Yes, you, too can get in and out of a car wearing a teeny tiny miniskirt with no underwear so you can flash your, well, never mind. Or you can recite Charlie Sheen "winning" screeds out on the street if you prefer that.

Or maybe you can do the hard work of becoming an actual celebrity. Just sign up for as many reality TV shows as you can, try your damndest to make an utter, complete loutish fool out of yourself so that you can watch the fame wash over you.

See? No need to spend that kind of money. You can thank me now for saving you all that cold, hard cash.