Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Picture for the Last Day of 2011

Soon it will all be over. In a few hours, 2011 will be only a memory. The disappearance of 2011 makes me think back to 2001, and all the things that happened ten years ago that seem as if they happened ten months ago.

(The end of the year is a time for reflection, unless of course you are a vampire, in which case it is never a time for reflection. And since, as I mentioned in one of my Halloween posts, from the perspective of horseshoe crabs, humans are vampires, then perhaps it is not a time for reflection for any of us.)

A year ago I posted a picture that I took on the first day of 2010. Tonight I am posting a picture that I took on the last day of 2010. It shows the Old Town waterfront in Alexandria where the Charthouse restaurant is located. Every so often I take a picture that somehow just works, and this was one of them. But my enjoyment was somehow mitigated by the spammy comment that showed up under the picture on my Flickr page, just seconds after I had uploaded the picture, from someone named Nipuntantia7, calling it "Superb.........nice click....the perfect statement for why i love to be behind the lens" and asking that I visit his Facebook gallery.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Tree

It is Christmas Eve, and thus time to mark the occasion with a crudely-drawn Christmas tree, in the tradition of previous crudely-drawn computerized seasonal art.

Christmas trees are one of the easiest things to draw on a computer, as they can be formed entirely of simple geometric shapes. I was drawing crude Christmas trees on my Mac Plus back in the early Nineties.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lizard (King) Video

When I embedded some lizard videos the other day, I found that it wasn't too hard (even though I had to edit the HTML). It got me thinking about videos in general. I don't want to turn into the guy who's constantly putting other people's videos on his blog. But there's one more video that I have to post, because it's way too awesome. It's Jimmy Fallon as Jim Morrison singing the Reading Rainbow theme.

I couldn't figure out how to embed it, but here's the link.

My only quibble is that the guitar sounds more like something from the early Beatles than the work of Robby Krieger.

I've been liking Late Night with Jimmy Fallon more and more recently. Fallon isn't as funny as Letterman was back in the Nineties, when Letterman was doing genius-level comedy, but Fallon's show is the one that I most enjoy in late night right now.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Higgs Boson

Recently, there have been many news stories discussing the fact that scientists may soon confirm the existence of a theoretical elementary particle known as the Higgs boson. The headlines of these media accounts frequently call the Higgs boson by its nickname, the "God particle", which stems from the particle's great importance in certain theories of physics.

I have to wonder how many people who see these stories think that the God particle actually has something to do with God.

It's probably the same as the number of people who think that the Theory of Relativity is a defense of moral relativism . . .

. . . which would be pretty much everyone.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Lizard Videos

I am going to try to embed some videos. I had nothing to do with making them; I just like them.

The first has already gone viral. It shows a Bearded Dragon (Pogona) playing a video game. Well, really it's just trying to eat the ants depicted in the game.

The second video is one that I would like to see go viral. It shows skinks eating banana slices on a porch at Fort Story in Virginia. The source where I originally read about the video says that the skinks are Broad-headed Skinks (Plestiodon laticeps aka Eumeces laticeps). But I can't be sure, as I can't tell from the footage which of the three local Plestiodon/Eumeces skinks is actually being shown. No matter the species, though, this video is the first evidence of which I'm aware of frugivory in the skinks of eastern North America.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Long, Dark Night Without Indentation

In an earlier post, I discussed how, when I started the blog, I couldn't indent paragraphs, until, just like magic, Blogger started letting me use the tab key to indent in my posts.

And then, just like magic, at some time between September 1 and October 13, just like magic, Blogger once again stopped letting my use the tab key to indent in my posts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Belated Halloween Blogging

December is beginning, so, as I noted in my last entry, it's much too late to blog about Halloween. Also, as Julian Lennon once informed us, it's much too late for goodbyes. I don't know quite how that quote applies here, but there you have it. It's much too late for things.

On Halloween night I enjoy reading a story by H. P. Lovecraft, while listening to King Crimson's classic In the Court of the Crimson King album. (By this point in my life, I am running out of H. P. Lovecraft stories that I haven't read, so I have to ration them carefully.) I find that the spooky, otherworldly strains of early King Crimson and the spooky, otherworldly words of Howard Phillips Lovecraft combine well on a night that one would want to be spooky and otherworldly.

This year, late at night, I came upon this accidental juxtaposition:

It looks as if it could be the cover of the book, but it's actually the book with the King Crimson CD on top. The CD cover art shows the 21st Century Schizoid Man, the song about whom was sampled by Kanye, in what might have been a sign of the apocalypse. (A picture inside the CD booklet depicts the Crimson King himself.)

Here is the book's real cover:

Such interesting coincidences will be harder to come by if recent reports that record companies will stop producing CDs in 2012 are true.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Belated Halloween Blogging

Thanksgiving is over, which means that it is much, much too late to be blogging about Halloween. I posted some entries about Halloween last year, and I wanted to post about Halloween this year. Unfortunately, I was trying to get several other things done, and didn't have time to write anything about Halloween. Also unfortunately, I was not able to finish most of the other things that I was trying to get done.

My main plan for Halloween blogging was to recount the story of attending my friend Adam's Halloween party ten years ago, the last time that anyone invited me to a Halloween party. But that story is much too long, and I don't think that I'll be getting around to it this year.

In addition, just as I marked last Halloween by using my computer to draw a crude jack-o'-lantern, I wanted to mark this Halloween with a crudely-drawn ghost. Now I have produced that ghost; you can see him at the top of this post. (I was trying for a ghost; it could be a really bad attempt at a baby seal, or maybe a white tree stump.)

I leave you with one final thought in the theme of Halloween, and also (for any twelve-year-old girls out there) in the theme of the new Twilight movie: To horseshoe crabs, we are the vampires.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Let's Play Some Moneyball

A few days ago I saw Moneyball. Everyone at the theater received a lovely gift bag containing a Brad Pitt bobblehead doll, a pouch of chaw, and an air freshener in the exciting new "locker room" scent.

That is not true. There was no gift bag.

But I did see Moneyball.

The movie is about a general manager and his assistant who led the Oakland Athletics to an unprecedented string of twenty consecutive victories by implementing a set of controversial hiring practices based purely on statistics. These practices were originally called sabermetrics, and eventually became known as "moneyball" after the book which first chronicled the events in question.

(The movie does not address whether the principles of moneyball have spread to other sports. For example, in professional hockey, is there moneypuck? If a hockey team cannot afford a player who is missing seven teeth, can it compensate by acquiring two other players, one of whom is missing three teeth, and the other of whom is missing four teeth?)

I am not a sports fan, and normally don't see sports movies. The reason that I saw Moneyball was that the general manager's assistant, a character named Peter Brand, played by Jonah Hill, was based on a real person named Paul DePodesta. As I have previously noted, I went to school with Paul for many years in elementary and middle school. I saw the movie because I was interested in seeing a story about Paul, and also because I like to think that if someone made a movie about me, Paul would see it.

I haven't seen Paul in at least twenty years, but I could still pick out some differences between the real and fictional versions of him. Peter Brand looks like Jonah Hill; Paul DePodesta, to judge by internet search results, looks uncomfortably like Anthony Weiner. Peter Brand grew up in Maryland and went to Yale; Paul DePodesta grew up in Virginia and went to Harvard. And, most importantly, Peter Brand has almost no self-confidence; Paul DePodesta had more self-confidence when he was in fifth grade. He is someone whom I could imagine easily navigating the corridors of power in professional sports. He is even someone whom I could imagine being invited to play basketball with the President, kind of like, well, someone else with whom I went to school.

As I have said, I am not a sports fan, and thus the wrong person to appreciate a movie about baseball. And for the most part, it wasn't even a movie about baseball, it was a movie about people talking about baseball. (It was also a movie about spitting–most of the characters spent waaaaay too much time spitting tobacco juice into paper cups.) I suppose that the most interesting part of the story was how the general manager, Billy Beane, had to go to extraordinary lengths to convince or force other people in his organization to go along with his plans.

Beyond that I can only say that I was duly impressed by the smallness of Brad Pitt's nose, which is shown many times in profile.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steve Jobs

As probably anyone who lives on the Earth's surface knows, Steve Jobs died earlier this month. (I don't need a link for that, do I?) I don't know much about Steve Jobs, but I do love the Mac. When I am using a Mac, I feel as if I am driving a car. And when I am using a computer running Windows, I feel as if I am driving a vehicle made up of most of the major components of a car salvaged from a junkyard and bolted together into something approximating a car. (This does raise the question of whether the Mac's advantages are primarily functional or simply psychological.)

Despite all this, if I had to choose between investing in Apple or Microsoft, I would have to pick Microsoft. In order to make money, Apple has to produce a constant stream of innovative products that transform the market. But this can't last forever. Either Apple will run out of ideas, or the public will stop caring. One day the average consumer will decide that he already has an iPhone, an iPod, and an iPad, and doesn't need an iPipe, an iPump, or a drink of iPop. (Steve Jobs is presumably also responsible for the trend of putting the letter "i" in front of words, a trend which has now gotten dangerously out of control, or rather, iControl.) In contrast, Microsoft makes products that are not innovative, and in fact generally considered barely adequate–but it makes money on them. To make another silly comparison, Apple is a four-star gourmet restaurant (or three stars, or five stars, or whatever the maximum starrage is), and Microsoft is McDonald's. In twenty years, the four-star gourmet restaurant will have lost its luster and gone out of business, and McDonald's will still be McDonald's.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Past and the Future and Going Back and Movies

I can't help noticing that a new version of the Eighties movie Footloose is coming out this week. I'm not too interested, because, as far as I can remember, the original Footloose was pretty lametastic. But I am pleasantly reminded of the promise from producers Bob Gale and Bob Zemeckis that there will never be a re-make of a truly great Eighties film, Back to the Future.

Back to the Future is a movie that could have only been made in the Eighties, because it wouldn't have worked without the upbeat optimism of that decade.

If Back to the Future had been made in the Nineties, Marty McFly wouldn't have traveled back to the Fifties. Instead, he would have hung out with his slacker friends, gotten stoned, and talked about traveling back to the Fifties.

And if Back to the Future were to be made today, Marty McFly also wouldn't travel back to the Fifties. Instead, he would stand on the roof of the gull-winged DeLorean with Doc Brown singing duets of Lady Gaga songs while the other characters perform choreographed dance moves in the background.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Musical Mayhem

I came across an online article entitled The 30 Harshest Musician-on-Musician Insults in History. It is definitely worth reading for anyone who considers himself a historian of rock music, or in general a music snob, like me. I note that most of the insults involve alternative rockers; classic rock stars, particularly the British ones, generally seem to be friends with each other.

The article contains a lot of NSFW language of the kind that rock stars would use to insult one another. It also contains the names of various alleged, presumably English, rock stars such as "Richey Edwards" and "Alan McGee" whom I've never heard of and who didn't seem worth taking the time to research.

In the article's funniest quote, David Lee Roth said of Elvis Costello: “Music journalists like Elvis Costello because music journalists look like Elvis Costello.”

And Elvis Costello said of Morrissey: “Morrissey writes wonderful song titles, but sadly he often forgets to write the song.”

And Morrissey said of Bob Geldof: “Bob Geldof is a nauseating character. Band Aid was the most self-righteous platform ever in the history of popular music.”

That's a complex chain of hate.

Despite the adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I doubt that these quotes can be construed to mean that David Lee Roth and Morrissey are in any way allies.

Also of note, Robert Smith said of Morrissey: “If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’ll eat meat — that’s how much I hate Morrissey.”

So perhaps Elvis Costello and Robert Smith are allies, if nothing else allies in the fight against Morrissey.

Ironically, though, despite the hostility, both Robert Smith and Morrissey have trilobites named after them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Dawn of Indentation

In resolution to a problem that I noted near the start of this blog, I notice that in my last few posts, Blogger has finally started letting me use the tab key to indent the start of paragraphs.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Summer, Summer, Summer

Summer, it turns me upside down.

The Cars sang these words long ago, when the world was young.

Summer has been taking its mandate to turn me upside down a little too literally recently with the historic Virginia earthquake. As someone who works in the field of geology, I observed the earthquake with a certain detached interest, except for that period of about two seconds when I thought that the building that I was in would come down and I would die.

Once again, of course, I am tardy in my blogging; everyone has forgotten the great East Coast earthquake, and moved on to the great East Coast hurricane. I am unsure what will happen here next; I am leaning toward either meteorite or volcano.

But, once again (again), summer, it turns me upside down.

And indeed it has been a very long time since the Cars released that song. In fact, as I understand it, it was originally intended as a duet between Ric Ocasek and Dimetrodon.

Summer is the most tightly constrained of the seasons. Like all seasons, it has an astronomical definition (a period starting on the summer solstice and ending on the autumnal equinox) and a meteorological definition (June, July, and August). (The meteorological definition is superior, and I could explain why, but that sort of serious science writing is not what I'm going for here.) What makes summer tightly constrained, though, is not its scientific definition, but its public perception. Summer is popularly viewed as the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day, or the time between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next, or even the time between the end of one network television season and the beginning of the next. There can be an early winter, but there can't be an early summer, because winter can be seen to start when a certain threshold of cold is reached, but summer can't start until certain benchmark date arrives.

Now summer is almost over. A while ago I was watching Jimmy Kimmel's show, and he said that, even though he hadn't gone to school for years, he still felt sad when he saw the back-to-school sales. I feel the same way. (I usually did pretty well in school, but I hated it.) In the unlikely event that I ever have any children, I don't think that I will be sad about them going back to school, but I will be sad about everyone else's children going back to school.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Skink Adventures

I thought that it was time to put the scaly back in Scaly Distractions, to do some serious herpetological blogging rather than making lame comments on lame elements of popular culture. I don't often blog about incidents from my daily life, because my daily life consists almost entirely of working and sleeping. But earlier in the month I took some time off from work, and had several skink-related adventures. (In case you didn't know, skinks are lizards of the family Scincidae).

(In the spirit of skinks, I began the post with a photograph from 2003 of an adult male Five-lined Skink in breeding coloration. See the full-sized original here.)

On Friday, August 5, I went to Leesylvania State Park, in search of the Eastern Fence Lizard. I saw sixteen Five-lined Skinks . . . and one baby Eastern Fence Lizard.

On Monday, August 8, I explored some locations in Loudoun County, where I encountered more skinks. I will have to analyze my photographs to be sure, but I think that one was a Broad-headed Skink, which would be the first member of that species that I've ever seen, and also the first verified record of that species in Loudoun County. (As to why I went to Loudoun in the first place, that is a skink of a different color. Perhaps I will tell the story one day.)

On Tuesday, August 9, I didn't feel like going anywhere major, so I just walked around in one of my favorite wildlife-watching areas of Alexandria. I randomly encountered a Five-lined Skink in the middle of a paved bike path. There seemed to be something wrong with the lizard, because it was having difficulty moving and its right front leg seemed to be missing. I tried to pick it up. The skink eluded me, until it ran under the upturned front of my shoe, and I was able to catch it (the skink, not my shoe). I discovered that the right half of its body was coated with a tar-like substance, and the right front leg had become entirely glued to the side of the body. I walked around holding the skink for a few minutes, not sure what to do, during which time the skink bit me two or three times. I thought about taking it home, but that wouldn't have worked for several reasons. Fortunately, the animal shelter was located only about two hundred yards away, and I dropped the skink off there.

A while later I was walking in the other direction when I got to where I had found the skink. The veterinarian from the animal shelter came out to release the skink, which had been cleaned off with mineral oil. She (the veterinarian, not the skink) said that Five-lined Skinks were frequently seen on the external walls of the animal shelter building. I mentioned that in 2006 I had seen a Ground Skink in the area, but had never seen one again. The veterinarian said that Ground Skinks have been found in the shelter's dog exercise yard.

(This is the Ground Skink from 2006. See the full-sized original here.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Harry Potter

Three weeks ago the final Harry Potter movie had its opening weekend. (I meant to blog about it then, but I don't have the energy to stay current.) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2 made huge money and received inescapable media coverage, which was at least marginally more interesting that the debt ceiling. I, unfortunately, did not care.

I'm down with all the major topics of nerd entertainment—Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, comic books, X-Files, Buffy . . . But I don't find myself having any interest in Harry Potter in any form. Will Thimblethorpe find the magic thugwump? I don't know, and I don't feel like reading several thousand pages to find out. And I also don't feel like watching several hours of film to find out either.

Maybe Harry Potter is too silly for me. I know that there are elements of Star Wars, Star Trek, etc., that are silly, but the Harry Potter series looks entirely marinated in silliness. And I know that the Harry Potter series is in large part a gigantic fight to the death. But it's silly people having a gigantic fight to the death.

Or maybe I've just passed my nerd expiration date. Maybe I've gotten too old to absorb anything new in the science fiction/fantasy category.

I do, however, enjoy the new Seven-Eleven LARPing commercial.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Some Random Thoughts Involving Music and Biology

The New York state government is battling Giant Hogweed, a conflict of the type chronicled by Genesis in their early Seventies song The Return of the Giant Hogweed.

This news prompted me to do some research and learn that hogweed is a completely different thing than pigweed, which is referenced in a Mark Knopfler song.

The question also came to mind as to why British art rock bands always get biological nomenclature wrong, which is to say that they get it wrong in the two examples of which I am aware. The scientific name of Giant Hogweed is Heracleum mantegazzianum, but Genesis (as I confirmed from the CD booklet) gives it as "HERACLEUM MANTEGAZZIANI". Along similar lines, Yes has a song called The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus), which is apparently named after a real species of fish, whose correct name is actually Schindleria praematura.

The Wikipedia entry informs me that the English name of Schindleria praematura is Schindler's Fish . . . which should not be confused with Schindler's List . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

More Celebrities and Some Confusion

It has been a long time since I last blogged. The Sudeikis/Helms episode of Saturday Night Live came and went without any mention of an uncanny similarity between the two, leaving me to conclude that I am the only one who sees that similarity.

In other television news, several weeks ago the world witnessed the departure of long-time Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hary. In the spirit of confusing celebrity pairs, I am reminded of days long ago when Mary Hart shared the airwaves with Mariette Hartley. Whatever happened to Mariette Hartley? Well, okay, one can read the linked Wikipedia article to find out whatever happened to Mariette Hartley. And of course in even bigger departure news, Oprah Winfrey ended her talk show. Could someone please explain to me why people go crazy over Oprah? She seems as if she could be the only person on television with even less talent than Carson Daly, if such a thing is indeed possible.

And Clarence Clemons has died. He made a lot of music with the E Street Band over the decades; what stands out most in my mind is his work on Dancing in the Dark. From the perspective of synesthesia, the synthesizer that forms the backbone of Dancing in the Dark is a smooth, gleaming gold, whereas the saxophone is a contrasting fuzzy gold. Even more remarkable is the sense of musical detachment created in that saxophone solo; it isn't a part of the song, but instead floats above the song and outside it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Celebrity Confusion Abounds

I have a problem with confusing celebrities.

Ever since childhood I have confused Mickey Rooney and Andy Rooney.

Publicity for the current season of Dancing with the Stars has reawakened my confusion of Scott Baio and Ralph Macchio. They have similar names, they look similar, they both reached their respective peaks of popularity at about the same time, and they both worked with Pat Morita, Baio in Happy Days, and Macchio in The Karate Kid.

I am also starting to get Nathalie Portman and Winona Ryder confused—although separated in age by a decade, they kind of look alike, they both have fake last names, and they were both in Black Swan. (Please note that I know of the Black Swan connection only by reading about it; I don't watch movies about ballet.)

But none of this can compare to my difficulty in differentiating Jason Sudeikis (from Saturday Night Live) and Ed Helms (from The Office). These two NBC stars register on my brain as the same person. I even got them confused in a dream last year, as I previously noted on the blog.

A few months ago I kept seeing television ads for a movie about a man running wild with his friends. Bizarrely, sometimes the movie starred Jason Sudeikis, and sometimes it starred Ed Helms. I took this to mean that either I was going crazy, or Jason Sudeikis and Ed Helms really were the same person. As it turned out, there were two similar films being released at the same time, Hall Pass (starring Jason Sudeikis) and Cedar Rapids (starring Ed Helms).

This weekend my confusion will reach some sort of critical mass. Ed Helms will be hosting Saturday Night Live, where he will come face to face with cast member Jason Sudeikis. The part of me that is still a nerdy fifteen-year-old expects the show to begin with the two of them rushing together uncontrollably, causing an enormous explosion in which both of their bodies will be converted entirely to energy. The part of me that is a slightly more mature nerdy adult can only wonder if anyone else will note the similarity. Am I the only one who sees it?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dammit Jim, You're an Actor, not a Singer!

William Shatner, who for years explored the cosmos in the role of James Tiberius Kirk, has announced the track listing for his upcoming album. The album contains covers of a variety of space-themed classic rocks songs, including Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly. That's one song that I can really imagine him rocking Shatner-style: My grubby halo . . . a vapor trail . . . in . . . the empty air!

The album will be titled Searching for Major Tom. Perhaps Shatner wouldn't need to search if he were aware that, as someone once informed us, ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we know Major Tom's a junkie.

Of course, none of this beats Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.

Monday, April 18, 2011

People Whom I Have Known Part III: Foreign Policy

I'm old. I don't consider myself old. I think to myself: I'm young. I'm hip. I know who Taylor Momsen is. But I'm actually old enough to remember when Slash and Axl were on speaking terms.

One of the few good parts of getting older is that, possibly, if one is lucky, a few of one's acquaintances or former acquaintances may acquire enough power or prestige (or perhaps infamy) to become useful topics in casual conversation. This happened to me twice last year, with the cases of Paul DePodesta and Rey Deceraga. And now it happens again with Samantha Power.

Samantha Power was last seen in 2008, when she resigned from Barack Obama's presidential campaign after calling Hillary Clinton a "monster". But now Power has reemerged as a senior aide at the National Security Council, and one of the primary architects of our military intervention in Libya. As such, she is the subject of conjecture and analysis all the way from The Nation to National Review. There is even speculation that she might be our next Secretary of State.

Before all this, though, she was one of the freshman counselors in my dorm during my first year of college. I didn't have much contact with her, because I didn't cause much trouble, and the freshman counselors were mostly concerned with the troublemakers. When I think back on our limited interactions, what stands out most in my mind is that she did not approve of my handling of the Squirrel Situation. But I don't feel like relating the Squirrel Situation right now.

At that time, I had no idea that she would rise to such heights in our government, nor how fake her name would sound if she were to be in a position of . . . well . . . power.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Words of Wisdom III

If you fall off a horse, you have to get right back on, so you can fall off again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trilobites on the Small Screen

In March of last year, I blogged about a scientific paper in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences in which several new species of trilobites were named after alternative rock stars of the Eighties.

Now, in the same combined spirit of paleontology and popular culture, I report on a paper in the December 2010 Journal of Systematic Paleontology (abstract here). Stephen R. Westrop, Raina A. Waskiewicz Poole, and Jonathan M. Adrain investigate trilobites from the Cambrian of Oklahoma. (Adrain is one of the authors of the earlier paper.) The following new species are established:

Dokimocephalus stewarti

Dokimocephalus blacki

Stittella beeae

The theme here, which may or may not be apparent to you, is that these trilobites are named after people from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, and Samantha Bee. (I must admit that I have never watched The Daily Show, which appeals only to a very specific audience of smug young urban liberal college-educated white people.) I, of course, know who Jon Stewart is; I have no idea at all who Samantha Bee is; and I have some idea of Lewis Black from his appearances on other shows, though not much beyond the general impression that at any moment his head could explode.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trolls and Elves and Hobbits and Sheens

He's lean. He's mean. He's Charlie Sheen.

Every so often a series of unrelated things will come to my attention, and join together in my mind in a way that seems to make sense, if only to me. The most recent occurrence of this phenomenon stems, as does much of our modern discourse, from the strange saga of Charlie Sheen.

We start with John Cryer admitting that he is a troll . . .

. . . at the same time as this discussion of a rare genetic disorder that makes people look like elves . . .

. . . briefly calling to mind Homo floresiensis, an extinct hominid sometimes known as a hobbit . . .

. . . and finally leading us to the theory that The Lord of the Rings may have been based on a true story.

Monday, February 7, 2011

An Uncharacteristic Sports Post

I haven't blogged in over a month. There are lots and lots of things about which I want to blog, but I don't have the energy. On most days, when I come home from work I'm exhausted, and I fall asleep, and then I wake up, think Ugggh, and just watch TV.

I am using the occasion of the Super Bowl to force myself to write a blog entry. I don't follow sports, and I have no partisan feelings on who should have won the game (but if i had been forced to choose a team I probably would have gone with the Steelers because I would not have been required to wear cheese on my head).

My question is, what's the deal with Green Bay? Does it really exist? All my life the only times that I've ever heard about the city of Green Bay are in conjunction with its football team. But how could a city get a football team if no one had ever heard of the city? It's almost like a fake city that was made up for a soap opera, along the lines of Bay City or Port Charles.

(This is only a random comment, not meant in a spirit of malice or hostility. If you are a Packers fan, please don't get mad and throw your cheese at me.)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Photograph for New Year's Day

(The full-sized original is here.)

I took this picture a year ago, on January 1, 2010, about half an hour after the picture that I posted on Christmas. It feels as if I took the picture yesterday. It shows the parking lot of the swimming pool at Cameron Run Regional Park in Eisenhower Valley. Before I took the picture I walked around the edge of the pool complex. It was closed for the winter, locked up and abandoned. I went back there in the summer and the pool was open and bustling with people. Now it is locked up and abandoned again. And soon it will be open and bustling with people. One is spurred to consider how fast time passes.