Splash splash, squish squish

Chocolate Chip Mint: Audio Track To My Memory

At Chocolate Chip Mint (see above) Lynn C. writes about skiing to a sound track somewhere in the Midwest which got me to remembering a ski place somewhere near Lisle, IL, which had a world-class, Swiss-style chalet with a big fireplace and an even bigger bar and a conversation pit and lots of people lounging around in upscale ski togs and, outside, a ski area that looked for all the world like a three-lane bowling alley. And skied like a bowling alley as well.

That (except for one place up along the river near Galena that I've never seen, but always admired the billboard for) is pretty much what all the ski venues in Illinois look like - that, and covered with ice. Midwesterners, as a rule, would do better skiing on ice skates.

Now here, we need water wings. This has been an incredibly tiring and depressing week, late-winterwise. It snowed - I say "snow" because it was nominally white, but in fact it was much more like rain - every day, most days just an inch or so but enough to keep the sidewalks covered in giant puddles a couple of inches deep (splash splash) surrounded by slush to about the same depth (squish squish), which means pulling boots off and on got added to the wrapping and unwrapping and, hence, did I say tiring? Perhaps I did.

It warmed up modestly today and the weathergnome has been kind enough to insert one (1) sunny day into next week's forecast, lest we go all the way around the bend.


Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell - Hulu

I'm just saying here, how B can a movie, well, b?

And the best part is, it gets three and a half (out of five) stars on Hulu.

Is this a great country or what?

The company’s [Cisco Systems'] Mobile Concierge system is capable of connecting customers’ smartphones to retailers’ wireless networks — so a shopper could type “Cheez Whiz” into a cellphone, then pinpoint its location in the store.

link: Cellphone Applications Let Shoppers Point, Click and Buy - NYTimes.com

A few hundred bucks worth of cell phone; $60, $70, $80 per month for service; and a downloaded app or two and you can walk right to the Cheez Whiz.

How amazingly cool is that?

What, you were thinking they work for free?

The House ethics committee ruled Friday that seven lawmakers who steered hundreds of millions of dollars in largely no-bid contracts to clients of a lobbying firm had not violated any rules or laws by also collecting large campaign donations from those contractors.

link: Ethics panel clears 7 on earmarks - washingtonpost.com


WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Saturday he is ready to compromise with Republicans on health care...

link: Obama to GOP on health care: `Let's get this done' - Yahoo! News

I thought that's what he's been doing for the last year.


They don't make 'em like they used to

By Julie Johnsson | United Airlines' Twitter account was hacked Friday morning, part of a broader security breach at the social media site that affected the United Kingdom government and is spreading around the world.

Hackers are using hijacked accounts to distribute mildly pornographic tweets and direct messages to other Twitter users, said Dennis Howlett, an independent enterprise software analyst based in Spain

link: Hackers hijack United Airlines' Twitter account - Chicago Breaking Business

How could you hold your head up if your big accomplishment is hacking a twit?


One of a series of photos attributed to "a man in Magee, MS," and passed along by Formerly From California and By Now I Bet He Wishes He Was Still There Charlie.

Invasion of the Geezer People!!!

I notice inside the back cover of my current reading device from the library is a sticker with a bunch of squares printed on it and the instruction, "To remember what you've read, write your initials in the square." Cracks me up.

I suppose they mean remember you've read this book, not remember what the book says. But still. I do, in fact, occasionally have this problem - not very often, and usually with beach books then - once in a while I discover one or two chapters in I'm reading a book I've read before.

Of course, sometimes that's on purpose. Most recently, I re-read Shakespeare's Henry V after finishing another book about the battle of Agincourt. But usually, it's just a function of my advancing dodderingness and I do not pay it much mind. Now it appears, though, there must be a lot of other doddering people in town. Why else would you put stickers like that in books?

The book in question, BTW, is Valerie Plame Wilson's Fair Game, which will not make, as of this moment, the reading list. I don't know that it's a bad book - it's so heavily redacted by the CIA's censors I can't tell what kind of book it is. That opinion may change - according to the publisher's forward there is a fairly lengthy and detailed afterward to look forward to. So we shall see.

In any event, I am not exactly going into this as a disinterested reader: I think Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Yoo, and up to a dozen other people should be clapped in irons over the Plame affair and for a long list of other reasons as well, and yes, you may interpret that as bias.

The Geography of a Recession

Animated map, here, shows unemployment rate by county for 2007, 2008, and 2009.

And imagine how we feel

Warning: watching American politicians argue about healthcare can be seriously damaging to your health. Symptoms may include migraines, extreme fatigue and sudden violent urges. In the event of exposure to competing statistics - regarding "donut holes", "HMO deductibles", "reconciliation devices" or suchlike - seek immediate medical help. - Times, UK



Photo: Phil Compton


At Olympics: Condom emergency

Health officials in Vancouver have already provided 100,000 free condoms to the roughly 7,000 ahtletes and officials at the Games. That's about 14 condoms per person. But as of Wednesday, those supplies started running dangerously low.

link: Vancouver Now - Emergency shipment of condoms headed to Olympic athletes - Post Sports

See below

I got a special twofer price on exclamation marks this morning.


ANTI-WAR - The Senate voted to extend the PATRIOT Act for another year, as requested by the Obama Administration. The vote came without any debate, and by voice vote so that individuals did not have to make their position public.

Perhaps the most galling part of the vote was that not a single privacy provision was added to the bill, despite Congressional Democrats promising such reforms.



If it looks like rain you won't care.

link: Stick Umbrella from Lands' End

I can't remember the last time I owned an umbrella. I think it was when I lived in New York, and there I never owned one very long. Back then, in the Mad Men era of the 60's, you could buy an umbrella in the subway for a buck or two and it would get you two, maybe even three blocks before the wind blew it inside out and you left it in the corner trash can. Which was usually enough.

But then, eventually, I acquired a car and when you have a car you don't need an umbrella so much. You just sort of dash.

But now I'm walking again and Spring is on the way. Last time I was a full-time walker I used a poncho on rainy days. Ponchos work fine, but in the summer they're hot and all year round they're vaguely disgusting, so I decided this time buying an umbrella was the way to go.

The problem is, real umbrellas, the kind you need when you are colonizing India or invading Normandy, are outrageously expensive these days. I've seen them listed for as high as $700 on the web; $400 would be a budget figure. And those little sawed-off ones you can buy at Walgreens for $5.00 - well, real men need real umbrellas, not runts.

So I was stumped until I found this baby at Land's End (link above). It's a serious umbrella with a real, wooden shaft. It's not enough to hold a charging rhino at bay, but it ought get me through the day. Today it's raining and I used it for the first time. It works just fine.

Bank, library, coffee

That's my walking list for this morning. When you're walking you have to plan your errands more efficiently, get stuff all in one loop instead of doubling back and forth. When you're driving it's probably not a bad idea either.

Speaking of the library, it turns out l read those old retro paper "books" a whole lot faster than I can listen to them (or, more precisely, faster than the narrators can read them - I could fiddle with speeding up the playback but somehow that doesn't seem sporting, does it?) so two new books on the book list today, an Alex Cross thriller by James Patterson called The Big Bad Wolf and Barbara Ehrenreich's Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America.

Oh, and how's this for cool? I now have a shortcut to the library's card catalog on my iPhone, so I can look up a book and reserve it from anywhere on the planet except some parts of southern Vermont.


A strengthening storm will take aim at the Northeast with immobilizing blizzard conditions in some areas and disruptive snow, a treacherous wintry mix, flooding rain, and battering waves in others.

link: AccuWeather.com - Weather News | Strengthening Northeast Storm to Cause Immobilizing Blizzard, Damage

See that orange thing? That's us. Here. Mix. Mix means take all the snow, all the rain, and anything else you got, put it in a pot, stir well, and dump it right on us.

Also lots of wind.

This is just Nature's way of flipping the bird at New England. It seems every year we get our worst winter weather right at the end of the season - March, plus or minus a week. Blah.


Photo: Phil Compton



...for all the time I spent rubbing beeswax into my boots because I can walk through just about anything now and still wind up with dry feet. Which is a good thing. That's what's on the sidewalks and all over the streets now - just about anything.

It snew, of course, and then it sleeted and rained. And somewhere in there, I'm pretty sure it slushed. Also glopped. The last time I went out to shovel the sidewalk was covered with three inches of water just barely cold enough not to run. I've seen a lot of winter but I've never seen anything quite like that. And shoveling it - well, what do you expect when you shovel water?

The power's gone out twice today, but only for a short time each time. Those Pilgrims did a pretty good job stringing wire, although it's never as bad here as it is up on the hill. For all I know, they're dark there.

Come to think of it, though, I think I'll leave my phone on the charger all evening JIC.

The good news is, it's been reasonably warm. If it freezes tonight - it's not supposed to, but if it does - things are going to be pretty nasty in the morning. I work tomorrow, but I don't have to leave home until noon. By then, things should be in pretty good shape.

Meanwhile, there's only one more month.

Ah, the good old days

Do you remember these?

- Noted by our Midwest Bureau (yo, M!)


...here's why I think all-electric cars, the kind you have to plug in to re-charge, are a really, really stupid idea:

A community snow

About four inches last night, perhaps a little bit more, easily the second worst snow we've had all winter- or maybe the first worst, depending on what you think is bad. This one's wet. Very wet and very heavy. The low last night, it appears, was 33º and it should remain above freezing pretty much all week.

So, fairly warm, and no wind, and also, as it turns out, trash pick-up day today, which got everybody up and out to the curb fairly early this morning, and at dawn there were little knots of people all up and down the road, leaning on snow shovels and chatting about whatever, this or that, snow stories and whatnot: It was all cozy and small-towny - which, of course, should be no surprise, this being a small town and all.

So after I did my time on the shovel and came in for another cup of coffee I went out again for a little walk and to take a few pictures like this one, looking up the street from in front of the house I live in.

The snow removal people were buzzing around happily, there not being much cause for rejoicing this winter if you're in that line of work. Schools are closed (of course) and also the community college - well, hey, that's a school too I guess, but somehow it's different, and it seems to me - OK, call me a geezer, go ahead - if you're going to teach kids skills that will help them better their lives the first of such skills should be: Get your butt to work.

It's one of those snows that's kind of pretty on the outside but, on the inside, ugly - heavy, wet, slippery, sloppy stuff. Still, it's a lot easier to take this time of year that in, say December. Now the end of winter is, at least, in sight.



It turns out, strangely enough, that before they were little blobs of shared code libraries were buildings - buildings - full of shelves called "stacks" (I have no idea why they were called stacks because there's nothing stacky about them I can see) and on these shelves, err, stacks, there were rows of quaint reading devices, each containing hundreds of papers printed upon with ink. And no battery connector - you had to operate these things by hand.

Or have to, in the present tense, because these libraries and their colorful, retro reading devices - called books - still exist. We have one here, in fact - a public library supported at least in large part by public funds which have recently been substantially cut. The funds. Cut. Substantially.

Our mayor recently noted, notably, while announcing these library funding cuts, that he sees libraries as being somewhat like soup kitchens - serving reading to losers, one supposes, although perhaps he was alluding to hot, wet books. Whatever. He made no mention of whether he was planning to cut soup too.

So it is, it seems, all over the ubercommie state of Massachusetts - funding for public libraries drying up. It is said that in Boston, some library branches may be closed. Maybe they will just toss the books into the harbor, with the tea.

Nonetheless I borrowed one of the books (Yes! You can borrow them! Free!) called "Bright-Sided." I will attempt to read it, and let you know how that turns out.

Grim, huh?

Of course you also notice all the temps get well above freezing in the daytime so even if there is snow - assuming it's not a lot of snow, which would be more like slop - it'll mostly be like it has been all afternoon - a sort of time-release rain.

It comes to this

The network [this would be the ABC Family network, I think, although maybe it's just the ABC network without the Family part; maybe the Family part means something else] calls Bristol Palin [who is scheduled to "make her acting debut," I'm not kidding, on an ABC Family show called "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," a life so secret, in fact, I've never heard of it although maybe it's big among people who watch ABC Family, or not] the most famous teenage mother in America.

link: Bristol Palin to guest star on 'American Teenager' - Yahoo! News

And I'm just wondering, most famous teenage mother in what circles - just at ABC or just at the Associated Press or in some wider universe, and how does one find these things out? Also, does "teenage mother" automatically mean unmarried teenage mother or is there some other kind? I've been out of touch.



Photo: Phil Compton

In Missouri it's whatever floats your boat

Cash-strapped legislators have recommended spending cuts for Missouri schools and shelters for battered women, but so far the yachting class can enjoy another season of clear sailing.

Thanks to a longstanding tax exemption, Missouri’s marina set can opt to pay a small fee in lieu of sales taxes and shave as much as $30,000 off the purchase of a $500,000 boat.

That tax exemption alone is depriving state and local coffers of more than $6 million a year, according to some estimates....

link: In a time of budget cuts, yacht sales sail through untaxed in Missouri - KansasCity.com

Somehow, Babe, this story totally cracks me up

Long a fixture among young people, use of the country's most popular illicit drug is now growing among the AARP set, as the massive generation of baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s and '70s grows older.

link: Pot use among seniors rises | Raw Story

Todo done

I had this big stack of stuff on my desk, figured it might take the better part of a day to clear up but it didn't, it was gone in about five minutes. All but one thing had expired.

Which has been, pretty much, my approach to todo lists (or, more accurately in my case, todo stacks) all along. Just let the stuff pile up until it's either already finished or it's too late to do anything about it anyway and then just toss it out. Poof.

Like, for example, these receipts for car repairs, not to mention the towing bills. No need to file those. (Not that there was ever much need to file such things. The car came into my life free and, some years later, left the same way, an almost biblical symmetry that was ordained from the start. I only kept the receipts because an orderly folder of receipts came with the car and, well, maintenance is maintenance after all; that, and out of habit, I suppose, although the habit mostly involved letting things stack up on my desk. As I was mentioning. Earlier.)

Killing civilians undermines their trust, says McChrystal

KABUL, Afghanistan – A NATO airstrike on what international troops thought was a group of insurgents ended up killing as many as 27 civilians, in the worst such case for more than six months, Afghan officials said on Monday.

link: NATO Airstrike Is Said to Have Killed Afghan Civilians - NYTimes.com

Some very, very cool photos...


link: Photos of my models - a set on Flickr

...noted by our Midwest Bureau - models of cars from the 50's photographed in miniature settings. Gotta go see this one.

Love the Studebakers!

And let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls

Spiiderweb™: Student shot during gun safety class