Monday, December 31, 2012

End of Year Weirdness: Odd Comments on YouTube videos

Just because New Year's Eve is a goofy time of year, I'll present you with a bizarre little video about videos.

Buzzfeed made a YouTube video that highlights some of the best comments people made on some viral YouTube videos of the past year.

The description I just gave you is a bit confusing, and so are some of the comments. But it is fun to watch to get a flavor of the cultural zeitgeist of 2012. Watch and enjoy:

Parents: Let's Do Better With Baby Names in 2013

Though I'm loathe to tell a parent how to raise a child, I have some concerns with a list that came out from the web site Babycenter listing some of the more unusual first names given to children in 2012.

About a half million people shared with Babycenter what they named their new bundles of joy over the course of the year. To qualify for the list of unusual names, at least two kids had to be given these unusual names.

I'm all for giving kids unique and memorable names, but there is a danger with that idea. Below is a list of names and why I think they could be dangerous. Let's start with the girls' names:

Admire: What if she grows up to be a jerk and everybody hates her. Admire wouldn't work in that case, would it.

Excel: You're naming your kid after a spread sheet. Is she going to be as boring and colorless as a spread sheet?

Fedora: Better have a big budget for hats with this kid.

Inny:  And meet her twin sister Outie.

Jury: When she grows up, will she be stuck with jury duty like, every week?

Rogue (Also a boy's name) Well, if the kid grows up to lead a life of crime, the name sure fits.

Sanity: And if she's crazy?

Sesame: I can hear the school yard taunts now. Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?!?

Thinn: And if she ends up overweight?

Zealand. And if she has a daughter once she's grown and married, the kid's name will be New Zealand.

Let's go to the boys now.

Alpha: What happens if the kid turns out to be a milquetoast?

Cobain: Naming him after a supremely talented but very troubled man who committed suicide? Seems risky to me.

Drifter: Aren't those the guys who wander from town to town committing petty crimes?

Hippo: Opposite problem of his sister Thinn. What if Hippo is the preverbial 90 pound weakling?

Hurricane: The name hurricanes after people. Will the coast one day be struck by destructive Hurricane Hurricane?

Neon: Don't blame me if the boy comes one day with his hair died bright fuschia, spring green and fire engine red.

Savior: Oh, please. I know you love your kid, but he's not the second coming of Christ. Trust me.

Vice: He's grow up to be a chain smoking gambler.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Scary Video: Russian Plane Crash Caught on Car Dashcam

It seems every car in Russia has a dashcam. They always catch dramatic crashes, stupid people, road rage, etc.

Here's a particularly scary one. Saturday,  A plane at a Moscow airport overshot a runway and crashed onto a highway, killing five of the eight people on the plane. 

A motorist caught the crash on his dashcam. The worst of it just missed him, but YIKES

Really? Obama Commits Crime of Fashion. Impeach!

Say what you want about President Obama. Everybody does anyway.  Some people are fans, some are not.  Fair enough. Praise him  his policies or condemn him for his political positions.

However, according to one fashion writer, Ellie Krupnick, Obama committed the ultimate sin, a crime of fashion: He dressed without paying the least bit of attention on being fashionable.
President Obama seen here
apparently committing
an impeachable offense:
Being not fashionable.

He committed the crime on a recent brief vacation to Hawaii.

Wrote Krupnick:

"President Obama, bless his heart, was basically a mess: baggy pleated khaki pants and a billowing turquoise button-down shirt... with short sleeves. Oh, and it was tucked in. With a belt." 

Those are Krupnick's italics in that passage, by the way, not mine.

She went on:

"We can tolerate a bright hue (Michelle Obama has certainly worn her fair share), but with men's clothes, fit is key. Obama's shirt is too big around the waist, the shoulders and the sleeves. The pants are too roomy at the top, too long at the bottom and wrinkled to boot."

Oh the humanity!  We're stuck with a president who is incapable of being sufficiently fashionable! America is over.

Yep. Our president is a failure. Not for any foreign policy decisions, economic plans, or opinions on social issues.  The real problem, apparently, is he doesn't dress fashionably enough. At least not for Krupnick.

The photo of Obama's crime of fashion is in this post. To me, the outfit he's wearing does its job. It's fine. Unremarkable. Except to fashion police.

This happens too regularly, more so to women, though. There is this bizarre expectation in some circles that no matter how busy somebody is, (and Obama sure is busy) they're supposed to agonize day in and day out on whether their clothes look Just Right.

Look, there's nothing wrong with fashion and dressing up beautifully and creatively if that's what you want to do. Fashion can be beautiful and interesting.

And yes, we want to be presentable and dressed somewhat close to appropriately for whatever situation we're in.  Some people take casual too far. Look to the site People of Walmart for examples.

 But what I hate, hate, about a number of people in  the fashion industry is the extreme cattiness. You're subhuman if your clothes don't look exactly right. Please just stop that sense of exaggerated horror they express if the outfit somebody is wearing is so last week.

This is why I don't dress fashionably.  Actually I kind of want to have better, nicer clothes sometimes. I wouldn't go for the latest fashion, just something that's classic and looks good.

But why bother?  Those classic and good looking clothes clearly wouldn't be good enough for the fashionista gestapo. That wouldn't exactly hurt by fragile, sensitive soul. But why reward these nutcases with something to condemn? T-shirts and Carhartts it is. Deal with it.

I'll just go through life paying attention to the stuff that matters. Just as Obama presumably focuses more on governing, not fashion.

Because guess what: Contrary to what some in the fashion industry would have you believe. Appearing as someone's idea of perfect is not what most of us want to, or need to aspire to.

I repeat: Deal with it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Now, Maine: Happy Tears at Every Gay Marriage State

As readers of this blog know, I married my husband Jeff on August 26, because we are lucky enough to live in a state (Vermont) that allows same sex marriages.

Every day, I wake up thinking I'm the luckiest guy in the world because I'm married to him.  Thanks, Vermont lawmakers!

Our wedding day was an emotional moment, to say the least, but there are other happy emotional days that have nothing directly to do with Jeff and me.

Every time a state passes a same sex marriage law, and the first couples get married, I confess to shedding a few happy tears.
Steven Bridges and Michael Snell get married in
Portland, Maine Saturday. Congratulations
to the happy couple!

So it was with Maine today. During the November elections, Maine residents voted in favor of same sex marriage. The first of those weddings happened today.

That very first Maine couple to get hitched was Michael Snell and Steven Bridges, wbo put rings on each others' fingers early Saturday morning. . The Portland Press Herald reports the happy couple has been together nine years and   had long hoped to get married.

They look like a great couple and of course I wish them, and all those couples getting married in Maine, long happy marriages.

I know people have religious and other reasons to oppose gay marriage, and they have the right to not like it. But, really, from my perspective, it's so hard not to have your heart melt when you watch those couples committing their lives to each other.

One of the most touching things I've seen when same sex marriage is legalized in various states is the crowds that turn out to wish the newly married couples well.

So it was in Maine. A large crowd gathered in front of the Portland, Maine City Hall.  Maybe the sweetest thing I saw out of this  crowd was when someone playing a terribly off-key trumpet led the hundreds of people singing, shouting really, the song "All You Need Is Love."

Indeed. The video made me get teary eyed again.  Maybe you will, too, when you watch it. It's so sweet.:

Cool, Excellent Way to Put Out a Boat Fire

On Lake Lyndon in New Zealand, a boat caught fire recently.

It's a pretty remote spot. The blaze was too big for a fire extinguisher. The boat was hard to get at. The fire department was far away.

What to do?

Somebody came up with an excellent, awesome idea that worked. Watch:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Vermont Snowstorm was the Anti-Disaster

Up here in Vermont, we had a big snowstorm yesterday. It dumped 10 to 20 inches of snow on huge swaths of the state, including pretty much all of the ski areas.
People in downtown Burlington, Vermont
enjoy a big snowstorm on Thursday.

It was the same storm that had been crossing the nation since Christmas Eve, unloading tornadoes, floods, ice, power failures, snow, traffic crashes, zillions of flight delays and various other woes and crises.

For almost everybody, then, the storm was an unmitigated disaster. Here in Vermont, we do things differently.  To us, the storm caused basically no harm, and was a major cause for celebration.

Last winter, it didn't snow much. We didn't have so much as one statewide storm that could be classfied as a big dump of snow. No powder days on the mountains. The snowshoeing sucked. So did the cross country skiing.

So when this storm hit, nobody could contain themselves. Virtually nobody complained that the roads were icy, that they had to shovel their driveways, that it was cold.

Instead, I haven't seen more people in a good mood in a long time.  Myself included, I'll note.

Despite continued heavy snow that made travel slow, people headed for the hills to ski, ride, sled.

Those that couldn't make it out of town during the storm because they had to work made sure they took the time to walk around in the dense veil of falling flakes, as if they had to confirm this storm was real.

It was real.

Watch this brief video I took at how wonderful downtown Burlington, Vermont looked during the storm,  and how people were really enjoying this:

The elation at the snow even created a newspaper blooper that got people laughing nationwide as it went viral online. The Brattleboro, (Vt.)  Reformer had a banner front page headline heralding the storm. It read. "Let Is Snow, Let Is Snow,  Let Is Snow."

Oops. But we get the sentiment anyway.

The storm hit during Christmas break. It was well-publicized. Which mean that no doubt, people throughout the Northeast U.S. loaded up their skis and boards, piled into their cars and headed north to the mountains of Vermont.

I'm sure the folks at the Vermont Department of Taxes are happy. Like every place else in the nation, Vermont is struggling with balancing its budget. All the sales and rooms and meals taxes this storm will generate will surely help.

Yes, the state spent money on overtime pay sending their plow truck drivers out Thursday, but I'm sure the state will recoup its expenses many times over this weekend.
The unfortunate Brattleboro Reformer headline
announcing the big snowstorm. 

I haven't had a chance to go out and play in the snow very much yet, but I will. I haven't even finished shoveling my large driveway,  but I'll get to it. (I'm too cheap, and I need the exercise from shoveling too badly, to buy a snowblower)

Tomorrow, lo and behold,  another storm is coming in tomorrow.  It's a bit of a surprise because they had been forecasting just flurries. Now, they're saying we'll get 2 to 5 inches of additional snow, with even more than that in the mountains.

That's not a big storm, but it will add to the fun most Vermonters are having.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

OK, One More Happy Christmas/Dog Story

Here's a nice news story (or at least one with a happy ending) that might keep your Christmas spirit going on after the holiday.

A New York woman and her daughter, Mia, 7, went briefly into a store Christmas Eve to pick up a couple last minute items. They tied their dog Marley to a parking meter while they went in

A creepy thief came along and stole Marley. Mia and the rest of her family were heartbroken, of course.

But there were some good Samaritans that helped out. A principal one, Tina Cohen saw a guy selling a dog on the street. She said she knew the dog had to be stolen, because the two clearly didn't look like they belonged together.

Unable to think of any other means to help the dog, she agreed to buy it from the thief. She then took an unharmed Marley to a veterinarian, who found a microchip that pointed him to Marley's owners.

The family was reunited Christmas Day. The thie, Brandon Bacon, 29, was apparently caught on security cameras and faces felony theft charges.

He was the subject of a nice perp walk in front of the media by an aggressive New York media, but he had nothing to say about what he did. I'm sure he's thrilled to have his ugly mug splashed across the news.

He'll have a deservedly lousy 2013, it looks like. Here's the very nice newscast about the incident:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scary Video: Tornado Hits Mobile Walgreens

Up here in Vermont, we're expecting a big snowstorm tomorrow. We'll probably get more than a foot of snow from the storm, which is coming up from the Gulf Coast and will turn into a nor'easter.

For Vermont, the big snowstorm is probably more good than bad. The ski areas aren't complaining about it, given the fact it's the Christmas vacation week, and a lot of tourists and locals have been jonesing for a good powder day.
A tornado sweeps through Mobile, Alabama
on Christmas Day.

The price paid for this snow is the same storm system that is giving us this dump of white spun off a bunch of tornadoes in the Deep South.

Surveillance video of one tornado as it hit a Mobile, Alabama Walgreens just came out. One interesting thing is you notice is how the people there go from curious, to awestruck, to terrified as the storm approaches.

Luckily, nobody gets seriously hurt, though some people got cuts and other injuries from flying glass. It looks like the interior of the store stayed largely intact, which means the people who wisely ran to the back of the store, away from the windows were able to ride the thing out OK.

It is a pretty fascinating video. Watch:

If Online Shopping Spreads to Real Stores, We're Doomed!

Yes, I know the video in this post is just an advertisement for Google Analytics, which means I'm now shilling for them even though I don't mean to, the ad is an eye opener.

You know all the ridiculous hoops you have to jump through when you order stuff on line instead of walking into a store and buying what you need?

The video is a hilarious and sobering look at what would happen if the way companies sell stuff to us online moved their methods to the grocery store.

All proving the point that online shopping needn't be so annoying.

Watch and enjoy:


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Vicarious South Dakota Christmas

As readers of this blog know, on August 26, I had the excellent fortune to marry Jeff Modereger.  I  still  can't get over the fact I was so lucky to meet and marry him,  but that's another story.
The beautifully decorated sunroom in the Modereger
home, Yankton, South Dakota

I'm pleased to report  the marriage is a rousing success. However, like every person in every marriage, certain aspects of wedded life take getting used to, even in the months leading up to the actual marriage.

So it was with me.   Married  couples know you need to plan well ahead with vacation time, so you can celebrate holidays as best you can with your spouse's family.

You know how it works:  Spend maybe a few days with one side of the family, then a few days with the other side of the family, somewhere else in the country

You just have to do the best you can.

Yes, I knew months in advance I was going to become a married guy in August. But did I plan ahead early in the year to schedule the appropriate vacation time around Christmas? Of course not!   My brain hadn't fully processed that I would be married by the end of the year.  Some old habits die hard, I guess.

The result: Jeff is in South Dakota with his family this Christmas Day,  and I'm staying in Vermont to be with my family.

Actually, his family is my family now and vice versa, but you get the idea.

Luckily, the way my mind spins and races and twists, I can use my vivid imagination and "see" what's going on with Jeff and the rest of the  Moderegers/Stengles/Wainscotts in Yankton, South Dakota, even as  I open gifts and toast the holiday with the Sutkoskis in West Rutland, Vermont.

Even more luckily, I've got material to work with.  Jeff has been sending regular updates and news bulletins,  describing how the holiday is going there. Ever the helpful husband, he's even sent pictures.

Jeff, in his professional life,  is a busy, highly regarded theatre set designer. (Don't believe me? Google "Jeff Modereger" and see for yourself.)

With that talent, Jeff is in charge of decorating the Modereger hacienda in Yankton.

His parents have a fantastic sunroom overlooking a very nice golf course in back of their Yankton home. With all those windows and space, Jeff arranged lights and a nice big Christmas tree tin the sunroom. The lights  reflect just perfectly off the windows at night. It's cold in South Dakota, but he makes it look warm.

The best part of the sunroom decorations comes from Jeff's mother, my mother in law. She has a   beautiful and large collection of little buildings as Christmas decorations. Jeff lines the buildings up along shelving by the windows, forming a gorgeous  miniature village that could be Main Street Yankton, South Dakota or Main Street, West Rutland, Vermont, take your pick.

I'm mentally in both towns today anyway.

Just to feel a little more at home, I went to Google images and looked up photos of Yankton,  to get my bearings.  Plus, I'm Facebook friends with some of the Moderegers/Stengles/Wainscotts, so I get clues from their posts.

 In some ways, Yankton looks similar to the Rutland, Vermont area, which I found comforting. Yankton, on the banks of the Missouri River, has nice rolling bluffs and low hills. Bigger hills and mountains surround West Rutland. But both towns have two or three story brick buildings in their little downtowns and sturdy houses with nice yards that suggest rural stability.

One disconcerting Google photo I found of  Yankton shows a pair of menacing tornadoes heading toward Yankton from nearby Nebraska, but I'll let that go.  

Of course I got to meet many of the Moderegers/Stengles/Wainscotts when Jeff and I married in August, so I have a sense of what they're like.

There's some simularities between the South Dakotans and the Sutkoskis. Many members of both families are prone to boisterous bursts of laughter.

So while us Sutkoskis laugh at our pratfalls and crack up at my wildly inept gift wrapping "skills",  I can almost hear the Yankton contingent laughing up a storm, too.

For most of us, it's impossible to physically be with everybody you love on Christmas.  But in your mind and in your heart, you can be with the best, most important people in your life anytime, anywhere.

I'll have my share of Christmas fun today in West Rutland, Vermont.  But part of me will be in Yankton, South Dakota, enjoying the glow and the laughter of the big, warm extended family Jeff brought into my life.

You can't top a Christmas gift like that.

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Traditional Annual Darlene Love Christmas Greeting

Every year, the amazing Darlene Love appears on Late Night With David Letterman to do a grand, boisterous performance of her classic song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"  It's a tradition on the show.

Every year, I post Love's Letterman performance.  It's my tradition, and what's the Christmas season without tradition?
Darlene Love on David Letterman, Christmas Eve last year

This year, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is particularly apt for me, since my husband is away in South Dakota visiting family. I wasn't able to break away to join him this year.

 I get to visit my family in West Rutland, Vermont, so that will be fun. My holiday certainly will be the opposite of depressing.

I hope everybody reading this gets a chance to be with those they love this Christmas.

Though "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" can be a bit poignant, you can't help but feel great, feel a catharsis, feel joy when you listen to it.  Especially with the elaborate musical arrangement behind Darlene Love, and of course her perfect soulful voice.

 I hope you all find absolute joy this holiday.

Anyway, without further ado: Here's the video. Happy Christmas!

My Traditional Darlene Love Christmas Greeting

Every year, the amazing Darlene Love appears on Late Night With David Letterman to do a grand, boisterous performance of her classic song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"  It's a tradition on the show.

Every year, I post Love's Letterman performance from the previous year. It's my tradition, and what's the Christmas season without tradition?
Darlene Love on David Letterman, Christmas Eve last year

This year, "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" is particularly apt for me, since my husband is away in South Dakota visiting family. I wasn't able to break away to join him this year.

 I get to visit my family in West Rutland, Vermont, so that will be fun. My holiday certainly will be the opposite of depressing.

I hope everybody reading this gets a chance to be with those they love this Christmas.

Though "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" can be a bit poignant, you can't help but feel great, feel a catharsis, feel joy when you listen to it.  Especially with the elaborate musical arrangement behind Darlene Love, and of course her perfect soulful voice.

 I hope you all find absolute joy this holiday.

Anyway, without further ado: Here's the video (sorry about the annoying Nokia ad at the beginning, but you know you can't escape commercialism at Christmas)

Christmas Postcard from Vermont

Yesterday, two days before Christmas, the ground was free of snow in Burlington, Vermont, though snow covered the landscape in most of the rest of Vermont.

Snow begins to fall, Church Street Marketplace,
Burlington, Vermont Sunday night
Burlington is in a low spot, near Lake Champlain, and sometimes misses out on the snow.

As last minute shoppers scurried around Burlington's Church Street Marketplace while darkness fell late Sunday afternoon, it began to snow.

Big, slow flakes drifted down, making everyone think they wandered into a teleision Christmas special. People emerged from shops and restaurants, exclaiming and smiling at the falling snow. Children gaped up at the sky trying to catch flakes on their tongues. Dozens of people whipped out their smart phones taking pictures of one another enjoying the snow.

With the arrival of a little snow, the holiday preparation was complete. Time to enjoy Christmas.

Here's a quick video postcard I made of the holiday scene in Burlington last night:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

NRA Says Media Has Armed Guards. In My Case They're Right (Sort of)

Today on NBC's "Meet the Press," Wayne LaPierre of the NRA claimed that most members of the media have armed guards

Most members of the media hooted at that claim.  And they're right, most journalists I know aren't protected by anything.

 I suppose if a reporter does get in trouble, they can poke their assailant with a pen or bash him in the head with their iPhone.

In my case, though, I do have an armed guard.  His name is Jackson. You can see him in the picture in this post, hard at work protecting me at home last night.

Predictable: Whackadoodle Conspiracists Say Newtown Was a Hoax

Once again I delve into the inevitable, in which the fringes inform us the awful stuff we've been seeing and reading about out of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre was all a hoax.

Apparently, the government, or the United Nations, or I don't know, space aliens from Neptune orchestrated a fake school shooting so they can take all our guns away. Or so the UN can take over the world, or something.

Like all weird conspiracies, the hoax promoters going to great lengths to link vaguely similar, but mostly unrelated situations.  The fathers of both the Newtown shooter and the person responsible for the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado earlier this year are sort of, kinda working in the financial sector.

Neither man is the top dog in these businesses, but somehow, both were going to testify to the U.S. Senate on some weird financial scandal involving something called LIBOR.

The U.S. Senate was planning on no hearings regarding the matter, and nobody had heard either guy was going to testify for anything.  But of course we're not supposed to believe that.

All those newscasters, traumatized families, grim rescuers and police you saw on TV? All actors hired by the government. The proof? The father of one dead girl briefly laughed nervously before a press conference at which he tearfully rememebered his daughter

That brief nervous laugh proves he was an inept actor hired by the government, supposedly.

Another wacko site, Infosalvo, says Newtown was a "staged false flag attack" whatever that is, but it's some sort of plot to take away everybody's guns. 

Atlantic Wire sums up the conspiracy theories this way:

Depending on who you believe, it's the global banking industry, the Freemasons, and Barack Obama (who is also the anti-christ) acting on behalf of "his Illuminati Jewish handlers like Mayor Bloomberg of NY and Dianne Feinstein."

The conspiracy theories aren't all homegrown. According to AtlanticWire, Iran says the massacre was a hit by Israeli officials to punish President Obama for not being loyal enough to Israel, and Obama covered all this up, in order to take the punishment rather than retaliating.

I read these off the wall conspiracy sites every once in awhile because I get a strange jolt of entertainment reading stuff from people who have really gone off the rails.

But maybe I shouldn't read this stuff. Maybe when I do, I'm contributing to the problem. I give them all a Web hit, which in this day the more web hits somebody gets, the more "legitimate" they are, even if everything there is nonsense.

I'd hate to live the life of one of these conspiracy nuts. The paranoia!  So many people, lurking around the corner, trying to take your liberty, your rights, your life away. It could be anyone! And the web of conspiracy is so extensive! It's tentacles are everywhere! Everyone is suspect!

Can you imagine living in fear like this instead of seeing things logically. They've watched too many bad TV movies growing up, and now their life is now one big, awful, preposterous, cheap TV movie.

The conspiracists also have a caustic effect on society overall.  Few people believe these nutcases, of course. But does exposing ourselves to their delusions nudge us just a bit toward a bit of increased paranoia.

I hope not. We sure don't need it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa Worked Fast For This Kid

I'm a bah humbug kinda guy around Christmas, but like the Grinch, my too-small heart can go three sizes (and break the frame of the X-ray picture) under certain circumstances.

Here's one: A fun little video in which Santa has learned a little boy wanted Spiderman for Christmas.

Here's what happened:

Another Wicked Storm Hits Vermont

It seems like almost every storm that hits Vermont these days turns out worse than forecast.

Yesterday, they predicted high winds in Vermont, maybe gusting as high as 65 mph in a few isolated spots right along the western slopes of the Green Mountains.
Fierce winds in Vermont
yesterday snapped the top
off a spruce tree, which then
got hung up in powerlines.

Instead, winds roared over a much greater area of the state than forecast, slamming broad areas of Vermont, mostly in the western half of the state. They gusted to 73 mph in the town of Jericho in the northwest, and 70 mph in Pawlet, in the southwest.

The gales roared along Route 7, the main highway up the western side of the state. Near Middlebury, the wind knocked over a tractor trailer traveling along the road, precipitating a crash that killed a person.

The television news showed blown down barns, shingles flying from roofs, windows blown out, power lines hanging in a tangle of fallen trees. It's one disaster after another around here. Come to think of it, it's one disaster after another everywhere, isn't it.

I drove around in the storm, in some places worried that  trees whipsawing back and forth would snap and fall on my truck.  . Just as I got to Underhill, Vermont, the storm intensified, and trees and branches started falling.

The roar was loud, the truck was rocking. At one point, I stopped to remove a large branch from the road so I could continue. Finished with that task, I started to drive on. Looking in my rear view mirror, a tree slammed to the road right where my truck had been parked.

The tree wasn't big enough to have killed or seriously hurt me had it hit the truck, but it definitely would have caused some damage. Phew!

Here's one of the videos I took of the storm yesterday in Underhill Vermont:

Next, I parked near one of the most popular sledding hills in Vermont. A little snow was mixed with the rain at this point, but in that kind of wind, there was no tobogganing in this storm, as you can see in the next vid:

The wind was picking up even more, so I decided to get out of dodge. But I stopped down the road for just one more video. The rain made it all seem that much more dramatic:

I know, I know, you can't point at one storm and scream Global Warming. And we've had storms this bad before. But the unsettling thing is the storms, or the odd weather, the strange heat waves, the relative lack of cold waves, the wind that seems to always roar, the floods, the long dry spells, it's definitely not the weather I had when I was growing up in Vermont

If the disasters keep coming, and getting more frequent, not just here in Vermont but everywhere, when will it start to really affect our lives. Obviously it already affects the lives whose property was damaged.

But what about people like me, and the vast majority of us who suffered no real property damage in Fridays storm? Luckily for me, of the dozens of severe storms, winds, or floods that caused damage in Vermont over the past five or six years, only perhaps three caused very minor damage to my property. So minor that in each case I spent less than $50 fixing the problem and was able to make repairs on my own.

A weak tornado hit my house in 2008 eight months after I bought it. That storm blew out a window, tore a few shingles from my roof, removed part of a flimsier roof over my deck,  and I still haven't found one of the deck chairs that went flying.

Two flash floods in the spring of 2011 caused a bit of damage to my driveway and some of my gardens, but didn't touch the house. It seems like I'm always out in the yard, cleaning up more branches from yet another storm.

The wind yesterday wasn't nearly as powerful at my house as elsewhere in the state. The electricity stayed on here, and only a few small branches litter my lawn. I escaped unscathed again.

But even if I keep avoiding direct effects from a parade of disaster, will I pay the price in higher food costs as droughts and floods take their toll elsewhere. Will the nation eventually deal with unrest or refugees somewhere in the world because the weather got too extreme for them to live where they were?

Will we get disaster fatigue? Every time I turn around, the weather somewhere in the nation kills people and destroys houses. I know that's always been the case. But if the disasters get bigger, more people die, more property gets flattened, how will we react?

Yes, as a weather geek, I got my share of excitement watching the wind dramatically rock the trees yesterday. And as is often the case, even the worst weather has beauty. During yesterday's storms, the cloud briefly parted to reveal some gorgeous rainbows.
During yesterday's big storm in Vermont, the skies cleared for a
bit, revealing rainbows, even as trees continued leaning in the wind.

The storm is still around here in Vermont his Saturday. The wind is calmer but still gusty, and as I look out my window, I see that it's gotten colder, it's snowing and a dark cloud that forecasters say contains a very heavy snow squall looms just to my west. It's headed right toward me. More weather excitement. I like that.

A snow squall is just part of winter. Occasional destructive storms are just part of life.  Let's just hope a constant parade of devastating storms and weather extremes don't become part of life. Or death.

Friday, December 21, 2012

World's Worst Funeral Home Ad?

Usually, when funeral homes advertise, they try to strike a tone of compassion, quiet, respect.

Not a funeral home somewhere in Guatamala. It's party time!

They've got Santa! Hot babes in tiny Santa outfits! Hot babes in hot Santa outfits winking at you seductively from caskets!  Talk about putting the fun back into funerals!

So if you're looking for that perfect Christmas gift for someone you wish was dead, head right down to Funeraria Lopez funeral home in Guatemala for the death of a lifetime!

Here's their advertisement, destined to be a classic:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Meanwhile, In Siberia....

People love to play with water when it's really cold

This video is among the best: Watch what happens when you throw a pot of boiling water from a high balcony when it's 42 below celsius.  This is apparently somewhere in Siberia. 

I love how the stripe of ice fog from the water drop lingered in the air forever, as if the air itself is half frozen and semi-supports stuff like a gelatin would.

What fun! But I'd rather live without the experience because I'd rather not be in 40 below weather


When You Have Bad Mugshot of Yourself, You Had a Lousy Year

Indulge me while I share my fascination with some mug shots. Buzzfeed has offered up a yearly delight: The best mug shots of 2012.
Charge: Indecent exposure (I'll bet!)

Even though all of these people allegedly broke the law, you have to feel sorry for them. They look so hapless, so clueless, such trainwrecks.

If you think you had a bad 2012, these people surely had it much, much worse than you. I've included a couple examples in this post, to give you a hint of what's in the list, if you're too afraid to click on the Buzzfeed  link.
Charge: DUI, Speeding (or on speed?)
Charge: DUI/Leaving Scene of an Accident
And being seriously pissed off

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Speeding Ticket for Standing Still?

Boy, they're strict with the speeding tickets in Baltimore.

A man there got a speeding ticket generated by one of those traffic light cameras. It said he was going 38 mph in a 25 mph zone. But the accompanying video shows the man was in his vehicle, stopped at a red light, doing a whopping 0 mph when he was supposedly speeding, according to NPR and other news outlets.
A safety feature? Revenue generator? Both?

This gets my conspiratorial juices flowing, especially since there's been other media reports that the cameras attached to traffic lights are often inaccurate. Deliberately or accidentally is unknown, and probably depends on the eyes of the beholder.

The whole thing begs the question: Are the red light cameras for public safety, to discourage dangerous speeders, or are they just an excuse to generate revenue? After all, many people. especially out of towners, don't want to spend, say, $500 battling a $200 traffic ticket.

Maybe some red light cameras are a "visitor's tax," you know, you've got to find the revenue where you can, right?

The lobbying group National Motorists Association opposed red light cameras for a variety of reasons, including the possibility of them being inaccurate, that they might correctly identify the driver of the offending cars, and there's not much accountability.

The Baltimore Sun yesterday editorialized that the city should shut off its red light cameras, in light of the stationary speeder and that the cameras often have a 5 percent error rate.

We'll see how all this plays out.

Dramatic Video: Mudslide Shoves Train Off Tracks!

There's some challenging weather across the nation this week, with a blizzard in the Plains, the threat of severe weather in the South, flooding and high tides in the Pacific Northwest, and icy mixed precipitation in New England.

So the weather is probably lousy where you are. Not as lousy, though, as it was for the people operating the train in the Associated Press video, below. Luckily, nobody was hurt and no hazardous chemicals spilled in this incident in Everett, Washington on Monday

But still. This was scary.  Watch, especially if you like "weather porn" (defined as dramatic weather videos)

Heroic Comfort Dogs Ease Newtown Pain

There's been a blast of well-deserved, positive media coverage this week of Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dogs, who are brought to disaster zones, or wherever there is heartache, to soothe wounded psyches.

Ten  of the Comfort Dogs have been in Newtown, Connecticut in the past week helping people cope with last Friday's elementary school massacre, according to USA Today
Comfort dogs at work in Newtown, Conn.

The program started in 2008 after a shooting at an Illinois college. The program has grown so that there are now 60 Comfort Dogs, all friendly golden retreivers, in six states.

The beauty of these gentle dogs is they offer gentle loving and happiness without ever adding judgement, political opinions, prejudice or general dislike into the equation. They really do become a refuge.

I especially like how most individual dogs in the group have Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and are available via email so that people who've met them can keep in touch.

The Facebook pages don't have much verbiage from the dogs, of course, but the pages offer a place for people to thank them, and many people have done so.

And the dogs forward news about their activities, which is posted on the Comfort Dogs' web site.

Here's a dispatch from a Comfort Dog named Jackson, reporting from a Joplin, Missouri school after a terrible tornado there in 2011.

"In Joplin, I continue to bring love to those who have been affected by the tornado. If a student is having a bad day, they come to the office and talk to me or visit with Mr. Schamber (Principal) while I comfort them."

"More and more adults keep coming by too! While the adults are petting me, they usually stay a little while talking to Mr. Schamber about all the challenges they have been facing. Many times Mr. Schamber will lead us in a prayer before they leave the office. My favorite part about coming to Martin Luther School every day is that I can hang out with the kids in the classrooms or on the playground where we play a lot."

As an aside, this dog is double after my heart because one of my own dogs, a happy, loving cocker spaniel, is named Jackson.   And he does make me smile a lot, so this definitely works.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's My Constitutional Right to Demand We Act Responsibly!

After the Newtown massacre, everybody is talking about rights: The right to guns, free speech, religion, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I'm stepping back and looking at the big picture. There is one overarching symptom that is making life harder in this nation. Not only in the context of Newtown, but in everything.

Many of us have stopped acknowledging that with our rights come responsibilities.   We have a ton of rights, most of them enshrined in the Constitution. We're lucky, compared to the repressed lives of people in so many nations, where so many governments force their people to endure a life without the freedom we have.

Implicit in the Constitution, though, is the rights we enjoy come with personal responsibility. I think that's why the Founding Fathers generally wanted government out of the way: They trusted us to balance our personal freedoms with everybody else's.

Has that trust broken down?  Maybe it has.  

Yes, we have the right to free speech, to say anything we want. But don't we have the responsibility to at least not be one of those horrible Internet trolls who say things that are beyond dreadful, wishing innocent disaster victims suffer more or die, because said trolls get their jollies from it? Or to call in threats to churches in Newtown,  also because it's fun?

It's not all about you. So shut the F**k up.

We have the right to pursue our religious beliefs as we see fit. But our religious rights don't give us the authority to impinge on how others worship.  I don't want to hear any more from some religious nutcases that the fact I don't pray the way they do, I'm taking away their "rights."

The way you worship works for you. You don't have the "right" to tell me or anybody else how to pray. You worship how you want in your church, and I'll do the same in mine. If we disagree, we'll just leave each other alone. It's not that hard.

The Second Amendment says we have the right to own guns. Many of us own guns for hunting, personal protection, target practicing, whatever. Great! But a few people who own guns seem to think they have the "right" to handle their weapons any way they want. Even if it endangers the rest of us. Don't we all have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?  Not to mention the right not to get shot by some stupid yahoo?

Speaking of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, your right to such pursuits doesn't mean you can run roughshod over the rest of us. If money makes you happy, you have the right to earn as much as you can, as long as you have the responsibility to not screw the rest of us over in the process.

You have the right to the liberty of doing whatever you want on your own property, as long as you are responsible enough that you don't trash, ruin or destroy the value of the rest of our properties in the process .

I'm not looking for the government, some corporation or some other refereeing overlord to keep us all on the straight and narrow. My call for responsibility might fall on deaf ears, but I figure we all have to start somewhere.

After all, it's both our right and responsibility to do so.

Torturing Airline Passengers is Seasonal Tradition

A lot of us are taking planes to see the family this holiday season, my husband included, so that means it's time for the national game to begin: Torturing airline passengers!

It started early this year with this news. About a week ago, Delta Airlines employees thought the perfect target for a holiday torture would be to focus on a Marine that had been badly wounded and disabled in Afghanistan, according to the Washington Post.
Delta Airlines is accused of mistreating
a disabled Marine in a wheelchair

Lance Cpl. Christian Brown is a double amputee, and Delta employees thought such a person belonged in back of the plane, and clumsily bumped and pushed and jarred his wheelchair down the narrow plane aisle in full view of everybody.

There were plenty of chances to give him a far more dignified ride. Several passengers in First Class in the front of the plane offered to give up their seats for Brown, but the employees refused, saying the plane had to take off immediately.

Turns out the plane was actually running early. And besides, how long would it take for somebody in First Class to move to Coach and give Brown the seat?

The Washington Post quoted retired Army Lt. Col. Keith Gafford, who witnessed the incident thusly:

“I have been flying with Delta for a gazillion years and this crew treated Chris worse than you’d treat any thing, not even any body. I did 27 years in the military. I have seen a lot of things and have seen a lot of guys die, but I have never seen a Marine cry,” said Gafford, who served two tours in Iraq. “What the kid said was, ‘I have given everything that I can give and this is the way I am being treated? This is how I will be treated for the rest of my life?’” 
A Delta spokesperson gave the usual corporate apology, and said the company would take the additional necessary next steps, but didn't say what those steps are. Firing? Retraining? Or is Delta just going to let the whole thing blow over?
Apparently, the TSA agents detected what was believed to be bomb residue on the girl's hand and/or wheelchair. False positives happen sometimes, so OK, so far, not so bad.
TSA is also accused of abusing somebody
in a wheelchair, this time a 12 year old girl
But in this case, they kept the girl out in the public eye, not letting her mother near her, and not explaining what was going on. This lasted for nearly an hour, during which the girl was clearly upset, and occasionally cried.  They finally let her go without an apology.
How about a little compassion until or unless it was proven the kid was some nasty little terrorist, or something?  And maybe investigate the situation out of the view of all those passersby?
Yes, I know the TSA has a tough job and yes, I know we all want them to stop anybody from making terrorist mischief on our planes, and yes, some people are going to be subject to false alarms. Deal with it. But do you really have to be this insensitive?
TSA, in response to the publicity, like Delta, sent out the usual bland statement:
"TSAs mission is to safely, efficiently and respectfully screen nearly two million passengers each day at airports nationwide. We are sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screen experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA through a variety of channels." 
Which leads me to my big point here. It' is INFURIATING that every time some company or some agency gets called on the carpet with some real or alleged misdeed, they resort to these same bland statements, that was probably written by one guy 20 years ago and just recycled by everybody.
These bland PR statements arguably anger people more than the original problem, because they don't address specifics, and don't say what will be done to fix the problem. The message in these statements. "Go away and quit bothering us. We'll do what we damn well please."
And notice how the TSA statement implicit blames the girl and her mother for the PR mess. They wanted them to provide feedback in their channels. So that unpleasant publicity not happen and the TSA can just bury the problem without doing anything.

More people ought to stand up and make a public stink if treated horribly. That doesn't mean complaining at every slight, or going into hystrionics. But really. let's hold people and companies just a tiny bit accountable, shall we?

Monday, December 17, 2012

On Cue, Here Come the Sandy Hook Massacre Scam Artists

All of us want to show our support for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, who lost so much and are suffering so terribly in the wake of Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Well, most of us anyway. You might have noticed on Facebook and Twitter and other social media invites to "like" or otherwise acknowledge or donate money to memorial pages and memes for the shooting victims.

It's easy and natural to respond to the invites. We want to do something to help. But according to, most of those invites are scams.

The ones that ask for money are often run by people who will just pocket the money.

The memorial sites that just want you to "like" or support turn out to be dangerous, too. They seem safe. A friend you know on Facebook has liked the page, and invites you to like it, too. Since your friend is trustworthy, you like the page, too, to show support for both your friend and the Newtown victims.

What you and your friend don't know is this process means the memorial pages and memes get a lot of traffic and likes and whatnot. That, in turn, means these pages become financially valuable. The operators of these pages later sell the site on an online market, and somebody makes a lot of money of your good will.

Plus, these pages and such get converted to some sort of lousy product advertisement, and then a few months down the road you and friends get spammed.

Charming, no?

Obviously, the people who do these sorts of scams deserve a really horrible place in hell. Really, using the nation's grief to make a buck. I don't know what the criminal penalties are for all this, but I hope it's extreme.

So, go ahead and donate money through a known, reputable organization that you've researched. Show your support for the people of Newtown.
But ignore those prepackaged Facebook memorials that are popping up in your feed over and over again. Most communities hit by tragedy post information about reputable organizations on their Web sites, so check that out, according to Technorati.

I noticed the Town of Newtown, Connecticut has information on their Web page on how to donate, how to help.

That's the best way to ensure your support is really felt. They sure need it.

Simple, Peaceful Image: Crescent December Moon

Sometimes I like the simplist images the best. Saturday at dusk, I took "The Boys" as we all them, the dogs Jackson and Bailey, outside to use the restroom in our yard in St. Albans, Vermont

I looked up to see the crescent moon in the clear sky that was fading from blue to black. The moon and the sky and the quiet winter air seemed so peaceful, especially in light of the particular awfulness in the news that day.

So I snapped a picture of the moon to remind myself on dark days and nights there is tranquility to be found out there. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A New Take on Bad Employment News

They say the economy is recoverying and I suppose it is, but it's still not great out there. Unemployment is too high, layoffs continue, wages are still stagnating. I know, deal with it.

But a couple news items that came out in the past couple of days offer two examples of how a few employers have sunk to new lows in dealing with this difficult economic picture.

First we go to the Kansas City Star, a major Missouri newspaper. With everything going to the Internet and mobile devices, these are tough times in the newspaper business. People are getting laid off left and right, and the Kansas City Star found it had to lay off two reporters. Bummer, but these things happen.

How the HR people handled this situation is, well, creative, but Geez!. They called the two reporters into the office, said one of them had to go, and told them to leave and decide between the two of them which one lost her job, according to

I saw a lot of comparisons to The Hunger Games with this bonehead idea.

If they're interested, I've got a better approach for the Kansas City Star. If they have to shed employees, why not let the HR director go. The HR director is the one who is supposed to make the difficult decisions on which employees to let go when it's not financially feasible to keep all of them on board.

Instead, the Kansas City Star HR person punted. He or she did not do their job. So why not let this person go, and keep both reporters on?

But don't believe me. Let's go to the experts. Here's something from NBC News/Business:

"......  pitting one person against another is not the way to go, said Nan Russell, host of the “Work Matters” radio show and author of “The Titleless Leader.”

“Personally, I think it’s very appalling that individuals would be in that kind of situation -- not only from the emotional standpoint for them to have to make that decision, but also for what happens to the people who are left behind and their now lack of respect for the leaders in that organization,” she said.

Russell went on to say in the NBC News/Business article: " Employees, in turn, expect that their leaders will make fair, tough decisions, and when they do, they earn workers’ respect and trust."

But making two people choose who will be the one to leave indicates someone lacked the courage to make the choice"   

What Russell says seems obvious, but apparently not.

Elsewhere,  a publisher is hiring! Yay! But before sending off your resume to Dalkey Archive Press   (Warning: If you click on the link to Dalkey, be prepared for an assault on the eyes. The Web site is incredibly poorly designed and inartful. But I digress.)

According to Salon, they don't want anybody who would ever have any personal commitments, who isn't willing to come in at a drop of a hat nights and weekends, who never gossped, or came in late for whatever reason or offered unsolicited advice on how to run things.

Quoting directly from Dalkey, you get this:

"Are willing to start off at a low-level salary and work their way upwards; possess multi-dimensional skills that will be applied to work at the Press; look forward to undergoing a rigorous and challenging probationary period either as an intern or employee; want to work at Dalkey Archive Press doing whatever is required of them to make the Press succeed; do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.); know how to act and behave in a professional office environment with high standards of performance; and who have a commitment to excellence that can be demonstrated on a day-to-day basis. DO NOT APPLY IF ALL OF THE ABOVE DOES NOT DESCRIBE YOU."   

Hmm, no pay, no time off, no life, what could possibly be wrong with this job? I'm sure people are stampeding Dalkey with resumes as we speak.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Incomprehensible Newtown Massacre: A Few Thoughts.

Like everybody else in America, I can't get my head around the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre, in which 27 people died, including 20 young children.
A mother comforts her daughter after
the Newton, Ct. school shooting. Photo by
Melanie Stengel, New Haven Register

The news channels have been on for 24 hours now, trying to explain the unexplainable. It's too much for me to get to the heart of the matter. It's too big. Too baffling. My thoughts have gone around the edges of this, touching upon just a few of the millions of issues, concerns, thoughts, prayers this all leads to.

We don't know what led Adam Lanza, what could lead any human to kill innocent young children.

Most people who are seriously mentally ill people,  holding vicious grudges or harbor white hot anger don't spray bullets into crowds, especiallly when the crowd consists mostly of kindergarteners.

I was listening to an NPR report last night on the profile of mass killers. The problem is, millions of people have the same mental traits as these monsters, yet these millions of people never hurt anyone.  So how do we weed out , in advance,   the people that would cause such heartache. You can't.

Of course we hurt for the families of the people who lost their children, their joy. Nothing we say and do can help, really. I know it's our responsibility to make some good come of this, but obviously no amount of good will fix this. The world, unfortunately is much worse for this.

 What would have become of the children had they been allowed to grow up, thrive, live?  Many of them would have contributed wonderful things to the world. We've all lost that.

I also worry about the police and other emergency responders who raced to that school.  Yeah, cops are tough, paramedics are seasoned, but not tough enough or seasoned enough to live with the horror of those poor children, gunned down. Let's hope they find the peace they need.

As an aside, I want to especially congratulate the cops and responders who led the children out of the school, and had them cover their eyes as they did so, so the children wouldn't have to see the carnage they were seeing. These responders surely spared these kids a lot of mental trauma.

One of the best things I saw rattling around social media yesterday was a link to the Mr. Rogers Company, which offered help and how to talk about something like this to kids. 

The best part of the link is this quote from Mr. Rogers:
Mr. Rogers passed away ten
years ago, but left
behind comforting words
for situations like this.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers - so many caring people in the world."

As in every American disaster, there's been a huge outpouring of help for the people in Newtown. I know. Because I looked for the helpers on the news and saw lots of them.

But now I have to go negative. There are a minority of people who insist on not helping. To make things worse. To further their agenda. Yes, I know there's a renewed debate on gun control. There's that. Some of the gun control debate is healthy. Some not.

However, I really want to touch on people who are even more vile with their agenda. People like Bryan Fischer and Mike Huckabee are going around saying the reason this happened is prayer was taken out of the schools and God doesn't go where he's not wanted so he didn't protect the kids in that school when the shooting started.

What sad lives these people live if they think a God would be so spiteful that he's allow a bunch of innocent kids to be killed. What these people are really after is a theocracy, and they're on a religious war to bring us that weird, right wing form of Christian theocracy.  And they'll stoop to something like this to advance their agenda.

Next up: The gays did it. Some of the same people who say God was kicked out of schools will repeat the nonsense we hear in every disaster: That God is killing our children, our innocent people in shooting sprees, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods because many of us are accepting of our gay families, friends and neighbors.

We're loving thy neighbor. But I guess that part of the Bible isn't important to the likes of the religious wing nuts. And I'm sure they're offending the vast majority of Christians who are good, loving and giving.

Oh, and by the way, I'm not aware God has been kicked out of schools. Organized, coerced Christian prayer has, because there's a variety of religions in this nation, in our schools, and we have to respect that. Even if we don't like somebody else's religion.

People are free to pray silently, however they want, to whatever diety they want, in our schools. The following sentence is going to sound inappropriately flip,  but it's heartfelt: I bet there was a lot of praying in that school during the shooting spree.

Now,  there's a lot of praying going on across the nation and world.   I bet, I hope, a lot of those prayers will be  answered.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Not-So-Glorious Animal Kingdom Taxidermy

You bag a big game animal, or your beloved dog, cat or other pet dies, and you want to capture some vestige of the animal's glory for posterity. Beyond photographs and video, the only way to do that is go to the taxidermist.

If you're into that sort of thing, it might work. Or it might not, judging from the Tumblr site Crappy Taxidermy. The site will probably make you reconsider the taxidermy route, but it will make you laugh. Or cringe. Or both.

How could what had been such glorious animals look so awful? You'll marvel like I did. I grabbed a few examples from the site from Crappy Taxidermy to give you a peek.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tornado Victim Explains Storm to TV Crew as His Ceiling Collapses

I bet the reporter and camera operator for television station WIAT had mixed emotions when the story they were covering this week unexpectedly got more dramatic.

Clint Thornton was standing outside his front door, explaining to the news crew what happened as the tornado smashed into his home the night before.

As he was talking, a steady rain was falling on his badly damaged roof. Suddenly, it all caved in inside the house, just a few feet from where Thornton and the news crew were standing. Family members were in the house.

Luckily, nobody got hurt, and Thornton said the family will be OK because they're in God's hands.

As I said, the news crew must have had mixed emotions. On one hand, boy did they get a more dramatic story than they bargained for! That's always fun for a journalist.

On the other hand, they were in no mood to see people suffer or get hurt. I know first hand what it's like to be a journalist when people are caught in disasters. The victims want their story told, so they are more than happy to answer your questions.

But you still hate that these perfectly nice people have to go through this, when they clearly don't deserve it. In any event, Here's the video. Yikes:

Dropkick Murphys Christmas Song and Video a Chaotic Glory

You might have seen my rant a few days ago about how I hate most Christmas songs. I noted there are some exceptions, and I found a new, awesome one.

The Dropkick Murphys have just released something called "The Seaons's Upon Us." a raucous tribute of sorts to family togetherness during the holidays.

Hat tip to Ryan Mercer for alerting this to me, via Facebook.

You can't listen to the song in its full glory without simultaneously watching its crazy, chaotic, but oddly familiar to my life video to the song.

Now you can watch it too!

Here it is:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Frauds, Scams Confusion for Everybody Who Goes On Line, i.e. All of Us.

Seems every day, I see awful new ways were awful people screw up your life via computer.

Online scams are old hat. Now, the New York Times is reporting on "ransomware" in which creeps infect your PC with a virus that freezes up everything, except for the message they send, saying if you send them a bunch of money, they'll unfreeze the thing.

Of course, they don't unfreeze the computer when victims send the money, but people try anyway, and the criminals get the money.

Most of the criminals seem to be those shadowy overseas figures you always hear about, usually from Eastern Europe. I imagine prosecuting these creeps isn't going to happen too often. I guess all you can wish for is karma.

The stolen money isn't the worst of it. Basically, when this happens, you have to call in an expert to rid your computer of the virus. And in doing so, the expert has to wipe away all your files. I guess this will encourage me to back up stuff, won't it?"

Things really have gone beyond the Nigerian money scams, haven't they?

In a much less serious bit of Internet weirdness, many people on Facebook are saying they are on the social networking site as having "liked" a company or cause and they insist they have done no such thing, according to Bernard Meisler at

There's some nonsensical likes, according to Meisler. A liberal supposedly liked Mitt Romney, an opponent of big box retailers is purported to have liked Walmart, and a vegetarian liked McDonald's.

Even dead people on Facebook are reported to be "liking" things. Really, how many dead people shop or order things through

My understanding is Facebook "likes" can make money for whoever is liked, and that could tempt people into finding fraudulent ways to get liked.

I really, really unlike all of this.

Meisler links to an October Business Insider piece that suggests if you reference a URL on your Facebook page, that might translate to a like, even if you were hating on whatever was in the Web site whose URL you referenced.

Facebook cracked down on fake likes earlier this autumn, but the problem seems to persist.

Facebook insists that people are probably liking things by accident as they fumble with the wrong buttons on their tiny smartphones, Meisler writes. The dead people liking things are probably a function of them hitting like buttons before they died, and the likes subsequently show up post mortem.

Meisler said maybe Facebook isn't doing this. It could be the retailers found a way to have their products, services or people liked by people who had no idea somebody was liking something on their behalf. Or a third party is selling the fake likes, Meisler speculates.

The bottom line is, it's more true than ever that many of us really don't know what we like.

Oddly Compelling Annual Google YouTube Year in Review

Once again, Google has put out its annual Zeitgeist video, which races through some of the most important, or telling, or memorable moments of the year.

It sounds like an exercise in self-congratulations by Google, and it probably is, but the video is also oddly moving. I thought so, too, in 2011 and posted their video last December.

So, I'll make it a tradition and post the 2012 version. It does show what a hugely complex web society and humanity are:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just-Married Gay Couples in Seattle are Charmers!

Photographer Matt Stopera of Buzzfeed documenting the rush of gay couples getting married in Seattle after Washington legalized same sex marriage in the past week. He had an absolutely great idea.
This couple had been together 23 years before being
able to marry in Seattle the other day. 

He asked the many couples arriving to get   married to write in a notebook how long they'd been together. Then, each party in the couple was asked to write in the notebooks their favorite things about  their new spouses, then display the message for Stopera.

(For the record, if somebody asked me to do the same when I married Jeff in August, it would have been hard for me to decide which of his many qualities is best, but I probably would have chosen his deep compassion and kindness) 

Anyway, Stopera's photographs of the marriages in Seattle are absolutely charming and have had me smiling all day.

I loved how most of the reasons the couples gave either involved a sense of humor, or references to love and devotion.
This couple was together three years before marrying
in Washington State the other day

And for those who think gay marriage is so sinful and awful, the reasons people gave for loving their new wives and husbands in Seattle were the same the best reasons straight couples love each other.

Which isn't surprising.

When love blooms in any way, shape or form, just stand back and let it grow. We're all the better for it.