Friday, September 30, 2011

Zappa On The Universe's Foundation

Tip of the hat to Armchair Patriots for this gem.

Can The Lioness Save Her Cub From The Ravine?

Click on the photo, or click here (link) to see what happens.
Tip of the hat to the awesome Science Center for this link.

Aliquots for the masses!

As a parent myself, I can appreciate this situation all too clearly.

Been Through The Desert

This was running through my head in the shower last night... and still keeps echoing around in my brain this morning.

Dewey Bunnell should really name his horse =)

No More Shuttles

I find it sad that we'll no longer see such a site, or new photos, like this anymore.  With the ending of the Space Shuttle Program, a generation of American children will be deprived of the inspiration I remember feeling as a kid.  I remember when the Challenger blew up in 1986 when I was in college and how I sat dumb-founded in my apartment's living room, staring at my roommate's TV, struggling to comprehend how this could happen.  Then, 17 years later, on a weekend in 2003, and I was driving my car in South Carolina when I heard on the radio that Columbia broke up upon re-entry over East Texas, and I grappled with how this could happen, again.

But every time I see a picture of a US Space Shuttle (The Soviets had developed one too, but it never went into space - one of my roommates at Rose Hulman had a Russian dictionary, that described the Russian Space shuttle, in great detail) I remember all the good things the shuttle did - building the international space station, taking up research projects into space, inspiring generations of young engineers and scientists... and it saddens me that this era has passed.

Anwar al-Awlaki No Longer Droning On

Anwar al-Awlaki (AKA (also spelled Aulaqi; Arabic: أنور العولقيAnwar al-‘Awlaqī; ) will no longer be droning on in his New Mexico raised, Colorado State Engineering school educated, American accent, about killing US citizens (link here).  He reaped what he sewed, and his existence has been stamped out.  Good riddance.

I was initially disheartened to hear that President Obama had approved putting this spoiled little brat who hated the Americans who educated him, employed his father, and put food on his table. This reversed what President Ford signed into law about targeted assassinations. But sad little Anwar's rhetoric was EXTREMELY effective in recruiting the weak and feeble minded, the confused and the easily swayed fundamentalists who mis-interpreted Islam among us, and the world is much better off for the removal of this inherently evil & pathetic little boy from the herd.

There will always be some disaffected, angry, spiteful, mis-guided demagogue somewhere in the world.  And Boeing, Martin Marietta, and other large defense contractors will always be creating drones, satellites, and cell phone surveillance mechanisms to track them down, and obliterate them when these little boys (it's typically NOT women who get these chips on their shoulders) become a threat to Americans.

"Violated his civil rights"? - as Anwar's father petitioned in court.  No sir, you failed miserably in raising your son, and he was no longer civil, forfeiting any "rights" he had.  Case closed.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bigger On The Inside Timeline

This timeline, I found quite amusing.  I used to watch Felix the Cat before walking to afternoon kindergarten when I was 5 years old. 

Every child in the United States who does not live in a primitive household without a TV knows who Oscar the Grouch is. 

I began to watch Dr Who on PBS when I was in Hr High School and High School as an excuse to stay up late.

While I currently drink from Bucknard's ever-full tea cup, I used to play D&D with my friends and at least one person in the group would always have a bag of holding in their possession. 

Orion Weiss Impresses Again

PSO's semi-sexist program cover, featuring a few of the 1st & 2nd violinists

Dr. Desert Flower and I had the pleasure of being able to enjoy another of Orion Weiss's impressive piano performances last Saturday night.  We'd first heard him play Mozart's Concerto No.9 in E-flat back in 2009 (link here), and he was remarkable.  This time, he wowed the Phoenix Symphony Concert Hall with a moving performance of Mozart's Concerto No.21 in C major. 

There was an older gentleman one row up and across the aisle from DDF and I who simultaneously leaped to his feet along with me, to give young Mr Weiss an enthusiastic standing ovation once the final note was played.  It was beautiful to hear and see a masterful musician channel one of the world's most talented composers and pianists, pouring himself into the work.  It was quite moving. 

The Phoenix symphony orchestra did a nice accompaniment to Orion Weiss, after they played Erich Korngold's Suite from Much Ado About Nothing, which was not bad.  The Mozart concerto wowed the audience, and then intermission arrived.  We'd pre-ordered a drinky drink (the best way to avoid the RUSH at 1/2 time) that we needed to pick up at the lobby bar, so we missed Michael Cristie's interview with Orion Weiss, stage right, during intermission. 

I could not resist... lol!
After intermission, we settled in for what was billed as the main event - Igor Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (1945 version).  Now I'd heard Stravinsky on my father's installed 8-track that we played in the '66 Chevy van I drove around during High School, and when I'd been in college, I heard Tomita's Firebird Suite when I first discovered Tangerine Dream and other ambient / instrumental artists, thanks to my roommate Tom Vogler's eclectic musical tastes.  DDF was unfamiliar with the Firebird work, and was looking forward to being introduced to it. 

I have to say, that Michael Christie did some of his best work with the Stravinsky piece.  He nicely lulled the audience into a sleepy, dream-like stupor with the first half of the work, and then BAM!!! WOKE UP THE PLACE with a massive dynamic attack.  Afterward, DDF remarked that "that's the best I've ever heard them" was very good, indeed.  "Best", maybe.  Impressive? Absolutely. 

Straight Lines Make Curves

It's all in the perspective one uses.

Jazz Han Solo

this made me chuckle...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toms Toms & Furs

Dr Desert Flower and our friends Tory & Alan went to see The Tom Tom Club and the Psychedelic Furs on September 16th at Talking Stick Resort (aka Terrible Smoke Remorse, TSR).  $50 seats, about 50 feet from the stage, the venue held all of 300 people maybe.  There was no-smoking in the ballroom (which was a relief!) and attentive table service for ordering drinks.  We got to our seats just as the Tom Tom Club began to play. 

After 30 years of playing together, Tom Tom Club is looking a little bit weathered, I have to say in all honesty.  Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz are both in their 60s.  They sounded fine - though their percussion/keyboardist was over-mic'ed, and their wiki-wiki "turn table-ist" I thought was completely unnecessary / superfluous (but it's a good way to keep track of your son, I guess).  The biggest applause lines and inspired audience enthusiasm was when they played Talking Heads songs:  Life During Wartime, and Psycho Killers and Al green's Take Me To The River - so that had a bit of ironic sadness to it.  Chris Frantz is a solid, basic drummer, keeping a beat on his set with nothing flashy. Both Tina and their female lead singer lady (whose name is not listed on their website) are in great shape - especially for being in their 60s.  I was designated driver, so my recollection is completely lucid =)

Our seats were adjacent to a pair of couples who were about our age but who were native Phoenicians.  The blond woman among them had ALOT to drink, and was asking DDF and I during intermission "What High School did you go to?" and "did we hang out at the same bars in the 80s?"  When DDF told her I was from Chicago, drunk blond lady said "I'm done talking to you!", turned up her nose, and left us alone - LOL!  Later, when DDF needed to squeeze by the aisle for a bathroom break, drunk blond Phoenician woman would not stop dancing with my wife, most hilariously.

When the Psychedelic Furs came on stage, they rocked the ballroom.  Richard Butler is the consummate showman.  His voice is impressively the same as it was in 1977. He's incredibly animated on-stage and audience interactive.  Mars Wilson's saxophone work was wicked, superb, dynamic, inspiring.  Mars DOES eerily look like the villain in Fargo, Peter Stormare (though with more hair!).  Bass player Tim Butler resembled Vincent D'Onofrio's "Edgar the bug" in M.I.B. (unfortunately for him).  But these distracting appearances did not diminish the excellent performance.  The Furs played a great concert, very enjoyable - sadly only one encore, but it was after 11pm.

On a strange note, one of the native Phoenicians in the foursome near us was one of those concert goers who ONLY like the B-side songs, and ANYTHING popular he sat down, arms crossed, pouting in his Bryan Ferry T-shirt.  His disdain for anything that was easily recognizable juxtaposed with his Exuberant Thrashing Enthusiasm for the more eclectic less known songs began to become comical the longer the concert went on.  Yeah man, no one is as hard core of a fan as anti-popular-man!  LOL!  Good times!

Good Thing Diebold Is Run By A Republican In Ohio

The Diebold voting machines, which are closed source "proprietary" programmed, are proven to be able to be hacked by Argonne National Laboratory.  Read the excellent Salon article here (link) by Brad Friedman.

I mentioned Diebold with skepticism (of their honesty) back in 2008.  They did not deliver the election for McCain as their CEO said they would and as I had feared they actually might, but they also didn't have enough time to plan and execute their machinations.  Years later, with Republican state gerrymandering, and more infiltration of their closed source voting machines (aka ballot distortion devices), a much easier win looks to be in-store for November 2012.

Psychosomatic Addict Insane

Prodigy, Breathe.

I tried, back in May of 2011, to listen to more Prodigy while on an Air France / Delta flight that had personalized music selections... but I found it too "in your face", abrasive, wrap-ish, and couldn't make it through a single song.  Breathe though, is a catchy tune, and gets the adrenalin pumping in the morning.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wanted Poster - Solo

Be careful, if you see this guy in the 80s, he may be posing as a young  engineer from Virginia Tech who drives a Saleen Mustang, and is sometimes mistaken as Barry Manilow. 

If you run into him in the in the 2000s, be aware that he accepts any terrible script he's given, no matter how lame - well, not quite Nicolas Cage lame, but still....

Rumor has it, he supposedly has a vacation home somewhere near to Jackson Wyoming, but Dr Desert Flower and I saw neither young nor old Solo.  Perhaps he's already been captured and a bounty collected?

I've always been fascinated with cross sections - probably good that I'm an engineer.

One Does Not Simply Walk In

Mordor, one does not simply walk in.  Not even (or perhaps especially) if you are John Cleese, with an exceptionally silly walk.
[I wonder what Disney Imagineers think of the Mordor / Magic Kingdom co-opted logo... lol!  I do love the arced Elvish script]

Belle Tétons

Grand Téton National Park is a remarkably beautiful place.  Dawn, mid-day, evening, just-after-sunset, the jagged mountains rising up suddenly from the placid glacial lakes in the foreground are ever changing, and hard to capture on an amateur picture.  These are the "best" of the images that Dr Desert Flower and I took of the Grand Tétons.  
 The "haze" above was courtesy of multiple lightening caused fires that were burning in and near the park  But that was fine - it's natural, and the fires are part of the natural cycle of removing copious combustible materials from the forest floor.

Free Lift Ticket?

The $60 cable car line goes 1000 feet higher (seen here).
Free is a great price.  Dr Desert Flower and I were looking at the 9000 foot high mountain next to Teton Village Wyoming where we stayed earlier this month, and saw that there was a restaurant and bar at the top of the mountain.  We looked around for lifts, and there was a "World Famous 100 person lift" that cost $60/ Huh? $60 each?  We didn't think so.  SO we walked further down Teton Village, and found a better one.  It was Free - or at least that is what the teenage young lady at the bottom of the lift told us.  Perhaps it was because it was September, and there was no ski-able snow, and the Teton Village resort wants people to go up to the top of the mountain and spend money on food and drink, we didn't know.  But it was a pleasant ride up and back. 
 The lift stopped / hesitated only once, in the ascent and once in the descent, about 1/2 way along the 5000 foot rise and 2 mile horizontal run.  It had been many years since I'd last been on a lift, and I was snapping pictures away like a little kid.   Hanging in the air over a mountain slope made both Dr Desert Flower and myself recall the US Marine jet crash near the Aviano Italy air base that killed 20 people who were in their cable car minding their own business... but the flights into Jackson Wyoming were routed no where near to the mountainside.

Horizon Organic Unsalted Butter

I stumbled across Horizon Organic Unsalted Butter at my local Fresh & Easy.  It's a WHOLE Dollar more expensive than non-organic butter! (OMGosh!)   A dollar is worth avoiding bovine growth hormone, needless antibiotics, and it feels good knowing I am supporting a local business. Horizon Organic is head quartered in Broomfield Colorado (relatively local). (1-888-494-3020).  Highly recommended.

Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Pear White Tea

Earlier this summer, I picked up a box of Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Pear White Tea.  It was an experiment, as I've never had Ginger Pear anything before, and sometimes Ginger aggravates my digestive tract, but Trader Joe's has very few organic choices that have any caffeine.  Waking up at 4am, I NEED to caffeine to jump start my metabolism, brain, consciousness. 

The organic ginger pear was tasty.   I had it with organic stevia of course, and it made for an enjoyable July and August.  The tea came in individual little plastic pouches that were easily transportable without the hassle and mess of loose tea.

Whenever I am at a store that sells tea, I keep a look out for caffeinated organic teas.  Right now, the staple in our cupboard is Fresh & Easy's Earl Gray organic tea, as the "go to" baseline source of my morning caffeine.

Oak Grove Sauvignon Blanc

Dr Desert Flower bought a bottle of Oak Grove Reserve Sauvignon Blanc from Total Wine last month for about $10, and we enjoyed it with some pollo asada earlier this month before going on vacation.  It was delicious!  Crisp. Not too citrus-y.  Pear & apricot notes.  Wonderfully dry and flavorful.  Reminded DDF of some of the better quality Bordeaux whites we've enjoyed.  We were surprised and impressed.  Oak grove Vineyards of San Martin CA makes a delicious Sauvignon Blanc.

Serious Munchies

I seem to have a serious case of the munchies today.  I tried the new Ben & Jerry's Schweddy Balls ice cream flavor last night, and I think it must've spiked up my sugar.  I'm almost as hungry as this ring wraith.

God Is Good

How Big Is Your Worm?

In a relative comparison, one can gauge worm sizes, using the following chart.
 Note:  I loved the original "Tremors".  Reba "you picked the wrong damn rec room to invade!" was hilarious!  And most people enjoy Bacon  [g].

Avoiding a Downward Spiral

Avoiding a Downward Spiral today... so I'll post an upward one instead. are getting sleepy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wedge Antilles - Unsung Fictional Hero

Probably the only good Wedge-y in the Universe   =P

Religion Is Like A Penis

I saw this over the weekend... and I thought to myself "Oh, How true!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"What is the Internet?"

Don't they know, it's a series of tubes!?!?!  (certainly not a dump truck!)

Just 14 years ago... man, do these Today Show hosts sound clueless.

Kolob Canyon of Zion National Park

I mentioned last Sunday how Dr Desert Flower and I drove Celeste through Kolob Canyon, after leaving the main body of Zion National Park and heading north towards Park City Utah, but I did not have time to really say much about Kolob at the time.  So this posting is all about Kolob Canyon, specifically.

First, Kolob Canyon is conveniently located next to I-15.  It's very easy to access from the interstate, and when we arrived, there was not any rangers taking admission or checking for park passes at the entrance.  There WAS a sign that said everyone was required to stop at the visitors' center, but we had our yearly pass (purchased the day before) and drove past in 'blissful ignorance' ('we no speaka English so well' would have been our excuse to any park Ranger who asked us for our pass).

Having been to Sedona many times and seen our fair share of "red rocks" I am not easily impressed by large red rock formations.  Yes, they're pretty and nice to look at, but in Sedona, from the city, they are rather far away.  You can indeed go off-road and get closer to them, but they're somewhat eroded and smaller in stature.  At Kolob, the red rocks are MASSIVE, and VERY impressive.   The park road winds through the canyon, and very few park visitors were there to clog up the road (Yay!!!).  The vistas were beautiful.

 When I inquired to a Park Ranger back at the Zion NP southern entrance if there's many visitors to the Kolob Canyon entrance, she assured me "oh yes, it's very popular" - I think she was trying to sell me on it, when in fact, large crowds were exactly what I was NOT looking for.  I am glad she was wrong.
Looking South from Kolob Canyon towards Zion Canyon

If you are ever traveling along I-15 in Utah, you really should make a stop in Kolob Canyon and take some time to appreciate this national treasure.

Now You Can Ask & Tell

shhhh - don't tell
This week marked the end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), the inane and unfair compromise that President Clinton signed into law after an indignant Republican Majority House of Representatives, lead by demagogue and philanderer Newt Gingrich refused to authorize a military spending bill (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1994) that Democrats had included language within it allowing people of all sexual orientations to serve in the US armed forces, and Republicans stripped out.  So Clinton signed Defense Directive 1304.26, which directed that military applicants were not to be asked about their sexual orientation.

According to elected representatives like Pray-the-gay-away Michelle Bachmann, Get-off-my-lawns-McCain, I'm-not-a-frothy-substance-Santorum, and legions of others - most of whom never served in the military, nearly all of whom were never enlisted men or women, but who had many homophobic friends and donors who were in the military - ending DADT was going to bring about a catastrophic collapse of US Armed Forces readiness.  There would be shower rapes (even though it's the military, and not a fraternity house), and sexual harassment. 
Only Male Sparrows have black feathered chests

All the fixed-position fox holes we dig in Afghanistan and Iraq would be filled with hesitant soldiers wondering if their buddy 'had their back' or was looking at their bum.  [Note to readers who have not taken ROTC, fixed position fox holes went out with the Vietnam war for the most part, once the advent of helicopter troop mobility, unmanned drones, and laser guided munitions came to be a reality on the modern battlefield. There are still fixed, defensible positions, but rarely ever is it a fox hole.]

Strange and so very unexpected, none of this has come to pass this week.  Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have come out publicly have been loved by their parents, reaffirmed of friendships with colleagues, and been told "yeah, we sort of knew" by many.  The terrible forebodings and right wing predictions have not come to fruition.

What HAS come to an end, are the punitive, petty, and pathetic attacks and reports of puny, feckless, hateful, nasty-little-turds who were reporting their fellow military personnel to the chain of command for "being gay".  Whatever their reasons - jealous that the gay soldier was a better person, angry that the gay soldier didn't think the reporting soldier was attractive, envious of the better position the gay serviceman had, lustfully repressing their own homosexuality and upset that someone they worked with was not repressing theirs as well - those mean spirited & misguided attacks are now ended.  Military courts no longer have to discharge 10% of their servicemen and women (and a much higher percentage of Arabic translators - but who needs Arabic translation now a days anyways?) for being who they are.

Dr Desert Flower and I know and have worked with many nice gay people (engineers, scientists, librarians, mathematicians, real estate agents, managers, moms, dads, students), and some of them were in the military, or were significant others of those who were actively serving in the military.  Over the years since 1994, we've heard of all sorts of stories of convoluted arrangements, where a lesbians pretended to be dating and living with gay men so that the ranking officers back at the base would be 'thrown off the trail' of each service persons' sexual orientation.  We'd heard of emails and phone calls to friends and family from FOBs (forward operating bases) being monitored for sexual content and how gay servicemen would have to speak in code to their significant others.  We'd heard of how excellent soldiers and airmen were dishonorably discharged once some pathetic fellow soldier reported someone's 'gayness'. All of these stories made me feel bad that straight people (or some gay soldiers who kept repressing it, to try and will or pray the gay away) could treat gay and lesbian service personnel with such disdain, such hatred, such disrespect.

"Support the troops" you always hear conservative candidates and their supporters say.  But not if they're gay, or anchor babies, or one of them is one of those Muslims types, or anything except a WASP.  Well, it's nice to know that as a civil society, we're one step closer towards acceptance, and another step further away from Dumphuckastan.

If we had President McCain or (ughhh!) President Palin (I SHUDDER to think that), DADT would certainly still be in place, or it would be replaced with some more punitive. 

There Is No "Try"

Don't Feed The Pigeons

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tattoo Decision Flow Chart

Dr Desert Flower is talking to her little brother at length this evening, while I am losing at online scrabble and checking the book of faces, so I thought I'd post this somewhat hilarious, but Very Accurate flow chart to help people decide, when they should get tattoos. 

Youtube Comments, So Revealing

What is it with people who can post anonymously (anyone can make up an internet name) and make comments and criticisms online, that brings out the worst in so many?  This made me first chuckle, but then grimace and shake my head the more I thought about it.  Very sad.
It makes me tend to ignore all comments, everywhere.

A Very Hands On Approach

Private Jet Owners, Congress Has Your Back

Congressional Assembly Members & Senators of the Empire, do not despair, your Lamba shuttles, Gulf Streams, and other exclusive transportation that helps separate you from the masses, avoid airport security pat downs, and maintain that awesome bubble of exclusivity in which you live, think, and luxuriate are safe from any annoying tax hikes, transfer fees, or imposed tariffs.  You, and your wealthiest supporters deserve all of the perks you can afford, and the government certainly has no place in trying to take any of your 'hard earned' dollars.

No, instead, Republican candidates for President and the leaders of the Empire's Senate minority and Congressional Assembly majority keep insisting we need to "broaden the tax base" (that's code for "tax the poor", or "squeeze those who are struggling to keep their heads' above water').  While the richest and most well funded representatives and the corporate aristocracy who fund their campaigns and insure their power base have vastly disproportionately more of the world's (much less the nation's) ability to pay, the teaming, churning, disgruntled masses can easily be convinced that your best interests are their best interests as well.   And for those who are not so easily convinced, they don't have the the money to afford body guards, live in secure communities, or drive in armoured cars like you do, so you're safe.   Do not fear.  The Republican congress has your back.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Staying Out Of The Rain

Keeping the pussies dry.
I wonder how long that umbrella stayed put, and did not fall into the water?

Last Day of Summer on Alderaan

The arrival of Fall finds Alderaan to be unusually warm...

Not So Cute Panda, 4

Pandas make unpleasant kitchen co-workers.