Category Archives: Random Blatherationings


Because I’m still too irate to speak rationally about yesterday’s events (i.e., the attempted coup at the Capitol by the “President” and his cult) to speak without massive amounts of screaming and obscenities (which I prefer to keep off of this site and use on social media instead) I’ll instead blather on for a few seconds about something else that’s been catching my attention the last few days while my brain is trying to revolt and not hear any more horrors.


Now, one might think that given my preferred hair style, i.e.:

…and the way I accomplish it in these now nearly ten months of quarantine and lockdown:

…that hair wouldn’t be that big of a deal. After all, how hard could it be to just buzz it down to fuzz? (“BUZZ FUZZ!!!” Sorry, Paul’s brain is experiencing issues…) You cut it all down to one uniform, short length and it all grows back and stays pretty uniform and then at some point you repeat the process.


Apparently not.

There are either some assumptions in there that I’m not figuring out or my cranial follicles are conspiring to make me insane. Since the rest of the Known Universe is demonstrably working to make me insane, I suspect the latter.

But, what in hell am I talking about?

Well, first of all, let’s talk about the hair around my ears. (And you thought this was going to be boring!) That’s usually my number one indicator of when I need a new haircut since when it gets long enough it starts to tickle and bother me. Now, just a couple of weeks after a haircut, when I was very, very careful to buzz everything down to a uniform length, the hair above my right ear is long enough to be tickling and bugging me – but not my left ear or anywhere else. In fact, it’s still pretty short everywhere else.

Then there’s this SPOT up near the top of my head where out of nowhere in the last three or four days it’s had some kind of bizarre growth spurt and it’s about three times longer than anywhere else. I know for a fact that it was all cut when I last conned the clippers but now out of the blue it’s just almost freakishly long in this one little patch.

WHY? I thought that the pace of hair growth would be pretty uniform, but that’s apparently wrong. Or, again, conspiracy plus Universe equals insanity.

And don’t even get me started on my eyebrows. I believe it was John Scalzi who once referred to his as the “Thufir Hawat starter set.” That’s the track I’m on.

Is it an age thing? Am I doomed to spend the rest of my years unexpectedly sprouting in odd places?

Whatever. Maybe I’ll just start shaving it entirely again. I tried that once and found that it was bizarre (particularly the part down at the end, the incident with the towel) and too much work to maintain. But faced with this madness, it might be the lesser of two evils.

And why are there always only two evils?

Wasn’t this better than talking about politics?

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Filed under Paul, Politics, Random Blatherationings

A Curiosity Question

WordPress tells me that there are over 500 folks who have “subscribed” to this site, who get a notice whenever I publish anything. Which is pretty much every day. And depending on what drivel I’m spouting, I’ll get one or two, or very rarely eight or ten, “likes” via WordPress or Twitter or FaceBook. So I’m thinking that 500-plus number might not mean what I think it means.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve always done with my pages is to put in internal links, like this, which point off to some relevant previous post.

Maybe something about critters, birds, or lizards. (Actually, I consider the birds and lizards to be “critters,” but let’s not split hairs. Or feathers. Or scales.)

Or a friend who’s no longer with us, who I think of pretty much every day.

Or a trip – where I really should finish posting pictures, were’ barely halfway through! (Didn’t I say that at the beginning of this year? What happened?! Oh, yeah…2020. SHAZZBATT!)

So the questions are:

  1. Do these links work for everyone? I assume they do because they work for ME when I look at my posts, but I’m also looking at it with my file permissions and publishing rights, so maybe it’s not working for everyone else? And…
  2. Do you use them, or is it a complete waste of my time?

Thanks, have a safe Halloween tomorrow!


Filed under Random Blatherationings, Writing

Random Blatherationings For June 14th

If you think there should be rules you obviously are new here, but if you have to have them so you’ll know when I’ve broken them, they’re here,

Tonight’s three random seed words are “incertitude”, “scrupulosity”, and “ayegreen.”

ONE: Incertitude is defined as, “Uncertainty, doubtfulness, doubt.” Can I use it in a sentence? “I was full of fluid so the doctor was forced to make an incision and incertitude to drain it.” (That would be wrong, wrong, oh so very wrong.)

Looking for something on Google using “incertitude,” I find the first page of hits are just dictionaries to define it, or give synonyms, or antonyms. (Surprisingly, no homonyms, even from Gray’s Anatomy, despite my previous use of the term.) (Wait, you thought that it was just a TV show? That’s “Grey”, not “Gray.” How could you confuse them?) But then I find page after page of entries in French.

Like this one, which apparently is talking about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Having studied physics, I know about this one. Quantum mechanics, very weird stuff. The tl;dr version here is that in the quantum world, very freakin’ tiny, you can know either where a particle is or how fast it’s going, but never both. In addition, the more precisely you measure one value, the more uncertain the other becomes.

That’s all you need to know to get this joke. “A policeman pulls over a quantum physicist and says, ‘Sir, you were doing 100 miles an hour back there.’ The physicist says, ‘Great, now I’m lost!'”)

TWO: Scrupulosity is defined as, “The quality or state of being scrupulous; respecting decisions or actions; caution or tenderness from the fear of doing wrong or offending; nice; regard to exactness and propriety precision.”

Is anyone ever referred to as “scrupulous” any more? My gut feeling is that it’s far, far more rare than its opposite, “unscrupulous.” Now there, there you your choice of people to label.

Politicians, first and foremost. Reading the political news is even worse than “reading the comments,” and just about as likely to raise your blood pressure or hone your cynicism to a fine point.

The stereotypical lawyer, sales person, or business owner, although I believe that’s probably not true nearly as often as we imagine it to be. It’s just that getting screwed by some business person or lawyer tends to stick in your memory far longer than getting treated well.

Too often, unfortunately, religious and social leaders. Maybe we put them up on a pedestal and expect them to be better than normal or to lead by example, but if you’re going to make your paycheck that way, it comes with the job. If you think being a priest is only a fast way to be alone with pre-teen altar boys or having your own congregation is the ticket to having a free Gulfstream jet (you know who I’m talking about), then maybe you’re seriously lacking in scrupulosity.

THREE: Ayegreen is defined as, “The houseleek Sempervivum tectorum.” Thank god for Google – I never would have guessed that it’s an odd little plant that’s a cross between an evergreen and a succulent, and apparently edible. They’re commonly known as “hens and chicks”?

The pictures make them look like something I’ve seen around, usually in some sort of decorative, desert-like, low maintenance, low water display, or in a rock garden. Rock gardens and “drought-friendly yards” are becoming a big thing around here as we head into the fourth year of the worst drought in recorded history for California. We haven’t had our sprinklers on for almost a year, and our yard looks like it.

They’re apparently native to the mountains of southern Europe The USDA map shows that they’ve been introduced in North America in spots along the East Coast, up into eastern Canada, and into Utah. (What the hell is up with Utah?) I suspect the USDA is only keeping track of where they can be found growing out by the roads or in the woods on their own, not where they’ve shown up in decorative planters at Home Depot. That might be all fifty states.

And do we really want to be “drought-friendly”? Not that I’m nearly as obsessed about a “putting green lawn” as most of our neighbors, but I’m more of a “suffering through as best I can” sort of person instead of a “friendly” person when it comes to droughts. It’s not like I’m going to invite the drought over for a BBQ or to watch the ballgame and have a beer.

Plus, I don’t much like beer.



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Random Blatherationings For July 13th

We haven’t done this in a while, and since the muse-driven spark plugs in my brain seem to be missing on all four cylinders (I only wish that there were eight or sixteen), let’s see if this little exercise can jump-start the neurons. Remember, if you think there should be rules, they’re here, but the first rule of Random Blatherationings is that we’re making this up as we go along. What? You mean it’s not blatantly obvious?

Tonight’s three random seed words are “assentatory”, “maleberry”, and “sourwood.”

ASSENTATORY: The short definition is “flattering or obsequious,” but it’s an obsolete term. Apparently over a hundred years obsolete, since the last reference to the word seems to be the 1913 Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Looking for a reference where the term is used, I get nothing except a prompt asking if I’m really asking about “USS Sentry.”

Sure, let’s go with that! The USS Sentry is an Avenger-class mine sweeper (officially a “mine countermeasure ship”, or “MCM”), commissioned in 1989. She’s apparently based out of San Diego at the moment, with a complement of six officers and seventy-five enlisted, although there is a note on Wikipedia that she’s been designated a reserve ship and only at full crew-capacity when the reservists are aboard. Interesting.

I’m sure when people volunteer or enlist they all imagine that they’ll be driving a tank or on a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier or flying an F-18. But some end up on the smaller ships that are just as important, just as critical with their jobs. It may not be glorious, it may not be flashy or spectacular, but all of the pieces count in the big picture. Plus, these days, it’s a job, and that’s not to be sneezed at.

MALEBERRY: Isn’t that where Opie, Andy, Gomer, and Aunt Bea lived? While the black and white, “aw shucks” attitude, and happy ending with goofy residents every twenty-nine minutes looks a bit dated, the show still holds up pretty well.

Plus, it gave us Ron Howard, who may have only been six years old when the show started in 1960, he must have really been soaking up knowledge about how things worked. As impressive as his acting credits might be (“Andy Griffith Show,” “The Music Man,” “Happy Days,” “American Graffiti”), his directing credits are just amazing. (We’ll just overlook the live-action version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas.”) “Splash,” “Cocoon,” “Parenthood,” “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Rush,” and those are just the ones that pop out of the list as being fantastic instead of merely good. Best of all, he’s in negotiations to do a film version of Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book”? Please, please, please, please, please make that happen!

Ignoring my blatherationings above, a maleberry is “a deciduous, much branched shrub, Lyonia ligustrina, with dense downy panicles of small, bell-shaped white flowers — also called swamp andromeda.” Oh, yeah, that stuff. (I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it, and if I did, I didn’t know what it was.) Apparently it’s only found in the United States along the Eastern seaboard, inland as far the Ohio River Valley, then in the south along the Gulf Coast as far north as Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

It’s also apparently toxic if your dog eats it. Why your dog might be eating it is beyond me, but dogs do strange things. They’re weird creatures some times.

See, the blatherationings were more interesting! (That’s sort of the point.)

SOURWOOD: This is another word for the sorrel tree, which is great information if you know what a sorrel tree is. For the rest of us… Google it. It’s a big tree with big, long, flat leaves and bunches of little white flowers and pods at the end that look like tiny white bells. It looks like it can grow pretty much anywhere in the US except for the central-northern tier of states, Idaho over to Minnesota. From the pictures I see, it seems that it turns bright, bright colors in the fall, red, yellow, and purple, which I really like, but I can’t say that I remember ever seeing one.

I really enjoy the fall colors when the trees turn, something that I miss here in Southern California. We do have some trees that turn and some of them do so with spectacular color, but it’s a tree here or a couple there, all surrounded by dry brush, palm trees, cactus, and so on. In the midwest, northwest, or up in New England especially, it’s every stinkin’ deciduous tree from horizon to horizon that each turn their own palate of colors, with the pines and evergreens thrown in for contrast.

Of course, that simply a sign that snow is around the corner, and while that’s also something I miss in SoCal, I’m not so sure how well I’ll react to it if and when I end up back in a climate where there are actually four seasons. It should be “interesting” when it happens.


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Random Blatherationings For February 8th

Another game we haven’t played since October. What happened? Oh, yeah, NaNoWriMo, then other writing and the holidays, and now all of that plus my volunteer work with the CAF.

What kind of writing do we get tonight? Gold? Silver? Bronze? Aluminium foil? (Extra karma points if you pronouned that “Al-You-MIN-ee-um” instead of “a-LOOM-in-um”) (If you think there should be rules, they’re here, but the first rule of Random Blatherationings is that there are no rules in Random Blatherationings.) In the spirit of those cold international snow and ice games going on along the Black Sea coast, tonight’s three random seed words are “polynia”, “iconodule”, and “sentine.” (The fact the three words have nothing to do with those snow and ice games is wonderful. And, yes, I am listening to the “Saturday Night Safety Dance” again tonight as I write. Tasty!)

Polynia: When I first saw this word defined as “the open sea supposed to surround the north pole”, my immediate assumption was that it must be something like an 18th Century word, from a time when the planet hadn’t been mapped to within an inch of its life and the explorers of the age thought that there might be a huge sea up north, instead of unending ice. The Northwest Passage and all of that.

You know what they say about “assumptions.”

On further review, it seems that it’s a Russian word that has been “borrowed” by English and it has nothing to do with the north pole in particular. So, the first definition was only partially correct and was entirely misleading. Kids, this is why you check more than one source, especially on the internet!

Polynia (or “polynya” in American English) are large patches of open sea surrounded by sea ice. They can occur either in the Arctic Ocean or off the coast of Antarctica. They can be caused by localized thermal upwellings, where warmer water rises and keeps the surface from cooling enough to ice over, or by katabatic winds or currents that sweep ocean ice away from the coast, leaving an open area between ice masses swept away in successive years.

Of course, two hundred years from now this could be a totally archaic term, along with “sea ice.” As much as that will suck for our great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren, it will suck a lot more for the polar bear, walrus, and penguin species that will be extinct in the wild.

Iconodule: The dictionary says, “one who serves images opposed to an iconoclast,” which would have been massively confusing even if my brain weren’t half fried. I’ve got a vague idea what an iconoclast is, but does “serves” in this definition equate to “worships” or “delivers?” Time to dig further.

Wikipedia is of limited help at first, defining “iconodule” as “someone who espouses ‘icondulism’.” Really useful, that. Does it logically follow then that a “digwopadoodle” is “someone who espouses ‘digwopadoodlism’?” Asking for a friend…

They then point out that I really didn’t understand what an “iconoclast” is. There was a religious war in the 8th Century over whether or not you should have pictures in churches? And I thought that WE argued over stupid shit! Anyway, it seems that an “icondule” was someone who wanted pictures in churches, while an “iconoclast” was someone who wanted pictures forbidden from churches.

You would think with planet-wide starvation, poverty, and an average lifespan that didn’t reach puberty they could find more worthwhile ways to spend their copious free time — but I guess you would be wrong!

It also occurred to me that if a philosophical division of such import were to break out today, the guys in favor of the paintings would be “iconodudes.” At least in Southern California.

Sentine: Finally, a definition that I can understand! “A place for dregs and dirt in a sink or sewer.” Isn’t that what we lay folk refer to as a “trap,” that U-shaped pipe under the sink?

Not quite. Further research (again!) shows that it’s an obscure and outdated term for “a sink, a sewer, a bilge hold, or a place for dregs.” We should have a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to be used to send some punctuation to whoever is writing definitions for that first website.

My last semi-lucid thought for the night is that Sentine would be the perfect name to use in some sort of spoof or comic version of “Les Miserables.” Sentine could be the Parisian whore with the heart of gold, born with a silver spoon in her mouth but forced into a life of sin and squalor by some evil archbishop or cardinal who was actually her real father. If you’re doing the Disney version, Dregs and Bilge would be the friendly animated cat and parrot who help her expose the scoundrel and win the true love of the prince. If you’re doing the Matt Groening version of the Disney version, immediately after the wedding, the peasants will rise up and behead them both.

I either need sleep, food, or both. For some reason I’m finding that completely hilarious. Madness approaches…

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Random Blatherationings for October 20th

How ranty and silly and stupid can we be with a headache tonight? Let’s see. (If you’ve forgotten the rules, they’re here.) Tonight’s three random seed words are “wine”, “trick”, and “limit”.

Wine – OK, first of all, putting this into Google generates an estimated 620,000,000 results. That’s just a bit nuts, no? Anyway, more randomization to cut it down to a more manageable number leads us to the web site for the Napa Valley Wine Train. We’ve never been on this one specifically, but we went on something similar that heads off out of one of the Seattle suburbs a few years ago. It was a fun experience as I remember it, and I don’t doubt that the Napa Valley train is also fun.

What I haven’t ever quite “gotten” is the snooty connoisseur view of wine. I guess it’s like trying to explain rainbows to a blind person. We’ll be generous and allow that the folks who can tell an ’85 Whatchamallit from an ’83 Thingamading blindfolded by smell only just have some superpower that I don’t. On the other hand, it might just be that the emperor has no clothes and the whole wine snootiness thing is bullshit.

Which is not to say that I don’t like wine. A glass here and there, once a month or so at most, works fine for me, as long as it tastes OK. I don’t care about “fruity”, “full-bodied”, “nutty”, “aromatic”, or any of the other thousands and thousands of adjectives that get bandied about. I just like it to not taste like turpentine and give me a bit of a buzz. (As long as I’m not driving. NEVER have a drink and then drive!)

Trick – Aside from the simple dictionary definitions, movie titles, and music albums, apparently filmmakers like the word “trick” in their names. I see “Trick Dog Films“, “Cat Trick Films“, “Trick Pony Films“, and “Dark Trick Films”. This last one has me the most curious, since it doesn’t seem to have a web site (hell, even a simple dude like me has three of them!), just a Facebook page (with almost no traffic), yet seems to be talked about now and then by almost every trade publication in Hollywood.

When I think of Hollywood and tricks, I think of The Magic Castle. It’s a bit hard to get into (you can only get an invite if you’re with a member, and you only get to be a member if you can qualify as a performing magician) but if you ever get the chance, TAKE IT! We’ve been there two or three times (one of Ronnie’s former co-workers is a member) and it’s spectacular. We’ve seen a few of the stage shows there, but the best I’ve ever seen is in one of the close-up magic rooms, where there are only ten or fifteen seats and you’re within arm’s reach of the magician. Even when I saw these tricks that close, I was baffled. An incredible treat!

Limit – Lots of links (millions and millions) to articles about the “debt limit”, many about the mathematical term “limit” used in calculus, but my favorite is the speed limit. I’m a really good driver and have the record to prove it – not a single ticket or moving violation or accident that I caused in over forty years of driving. I’ve gotten two or three parking tickets for expired meters or parking in a marked zone – but no moving violations or tickets for speeding, running a red light or stop sign, reckless driving, drunk driving (see above), texting while driving (ditto!), or any of that. I’ve been rear-ended by someone else three times, each time while I was stopped in traffic or at a red light – but the closest that I’ve ever come to causing an accident was putting a dent in the Long-Suffering Girlfriend’s car in a parking lot at some point before she became the Long-Suffering Wife. (The kids were in the car and laughed their asses off, and still give me grief over this incident, so I have to include it here.)

But the speed limit? One of my pet peeves is people who drive at it in the fast lane. On the Los Angeles freeways, nothing screws up traffic more than some clown doing exactly 65 MPH in the fast lane on a wide open, traffic free freeway, while everyone else is trying to 70, 75, 80…

Even worse, on the I-5 between LA and San Francisco, for over 300 miles it’s two lanes in each direction with tons and tons of traffic. The right lane is full of trucks, doing 55 MPH (or less on hills). In the left lane are the folks in cars who just want to get from place to place. With 300 miles of straight, dry, flat, and BORING in front of us, we just want to make tracks. These folks are usually doing about 80-85 MPH, despite the 70 MPH speed limit. At least, until they get behind the yahoo doing 69.99 MPH because it’s the law.

Who died and put these folks in charge? Who deputized them? Do they not realize the incredible hazard that they represent as one car after another has to try to find a space between the trucks to pull over into the slow lane, gun it, and slip past them? Even the CHP says that they need to move over, and I’ve heard (it might be an urban rumor) that the CHP can and will ticket someone doing this for reckless driving.

I’m not saying that you need to be driving at 90 MPH, 95, 100+! That would be even more dangerous and stupid. But the 65 and 70 MPH speed limits are politically based, not engineering based. (Jerry Ford’s 55 MPH speed limit was even more so – I’m with Sammy Hagar on this one! Especially if I get to wear that jumpsuit…)

As a side note, when I ranted about these guys on Facebook a couple months ago, my brother pointed out that my dad would have been one of those guys, and probably actually WAS one of them. That’s true, he probably would have been. But that’s one point where he and I would have to agree to disagree. Vehemently. Honking and flashing my lights in his rear view mirror.

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Random Blatherationings for September 18th

Looking for enlightenment, bubbie? If you look here you’ll be enlightened about the “rules” of this exercise. (I haven’t looked recently, so I may be breaking every rule – although I think there’s a rule requiring me to break the rules, so…) The three random seed words (from a NEW random word generating site) are “pail”, “garlic”, and “trailer”.

Pail – The first few dozen random Google hits are either for Garbage Pail Kid dolls on Ebay or for diaper pails on every retail site on the internet. Who knew that diaper pails were such a big business these days? But finally I hit a listing for “PAIL” which is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) airport code for Iliamna Airport in Alaska. It looks like a mid-sized, regional airport with two runways, 5086 feet and 4800 feet long respectively. No tower, but I doubt that’s unusual in most places in Alaska. At least the runways are paved!

If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the series “Flying Wild Alaska“. It was on the Discovery Channel for three years and I really enjoyed watching it. It was a hoot watching the Tweto family and their family of Era Alaska employees fly around through fall, winter, spring, and summer. (They apparently don’t have a regular route to Iliamna, though.) It really gave a good idea of what bush flying is all about and how critical general aviation is to just maintaining the basic necessities of modern life in a state bigger than Texas where there are fewer paved roads than in some counties down in the lower forty-eight. I’ll admit, sometimes they got all “reality TV” on you, building up some relatively minor thing (like a go-around) into a huge crisis. But there were plenty of other times when I was watching folks try to land on an ice runway in a Caravan or twin Otter with a fifty-knot cross wind in instrument conditions and I had nothing but total respect for the pilots who can do that!

Garlic – Yeah, yeah, yeah, world’s healthiest food, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Out here on the west coast, if you’ve been anywhere near the Bay Area or driven from LA to San Jose, you know about Gilroy, which bills itself as the “Garlic Capital of the World”. Going west on California Route 152, up over the coastal mountains from I-5, past the San Luis Reservoir and Pacheco State Park, you can smell the garlic ten miles before you get into town.

But today Google randomly led me to the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival, which seems to be the east coast equivalent of Gilroy. And it’s coming up on September 28th and 29th! Serendipity Rears Its Ugly Head Yet Again! Food, drinks, musicians (including Captain Squeeze and the Zydeco Moshers!), games for the kids, and more! What’s not to love? And really, I say that sincerely, because if I were in the area and didn’t have other more pressing plans, I would be there because that all sounds wonderful.

Except for the Morris dancers. I never knew of Morris dancers or Morris dancing until I heard Stan Rogers talk about it on his live album, “Home In Halifax“. Track six, you know the one I’m talking about.

Wait, what? You don’t know who Stan Rogers is? Please go and instantaneously (or sooner) listen and learn to love all of his albums, then come back. We’ll wait…

OK, now that you know why you need to beware of the Morris dancers (WARNING – this link will take you to a video that shows that every horrible and terrifying thing said about them is true) and you have a deep and abiding love of Stan Rogers’ music, go and have a great time at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival (New York State Thruway exit #20, mile marker 101).

Say hello to Captain Squeeze for me!

Trailer – A word with two major meanings so Google either gives me a place to rent or buy something to haul behind my car or lets me look at upcoming movies. Rather than pick any one movie or television show trailer, I want to do a mini-rant about the movie trailer art form in general and one old one and one new one in particular.

First of all, I love movie trailers. I think that it’s brilliant how someone can take a couple dozen tiny little clips of a movie that lasts two hours and get you in the mood to plop down hard-earned cash to see the film when it comes out. I also think it’s extremely clever how some people in this day and age can mess with trailers and re-cut them to be for a completely different mood. The first one of these I remember seeing was a faux trailer for “The Shining” done as a romantic comedy, but just this week I saw another great one for “Monty Python & The Holy Grail” done as a serious medieval battle flick.

However, this is a power that can be used for evil as well as for good. In 2001 there was a trailer that is on my short list for the best ever made. It made me want to see a movie so bad it hurt. I had tears in my eyes every time I saw the trailer. Looking at all of the pictures of planes and incredible flying, I just wanted to let all of that flying SPFX wonderfulness just swallow me up and surround me for two hours. I knew that “Pearl Harbor” was going to be spectacular! Um, yeah, that “Pearl Harbor”. The one that turned out to be a film that I could barely sit through, one of the worst movies I had seen in years. Still a fantastic trailer, but a good example of a trailer that is 1000% better than the film it advertises.

Now, everywhere I look at the theater, online, or on television, there are new trailers for “Gravity“, which opens in the US on October 4th. They are all intense, gripping, spectacular, amazing, utterly terrifying, and I haven’t wanted to see a movie this badly since the original “Lord of the Rings” films first came out. I really, Really, REALLY want to see this film! I keep seeing comments from NASA folk and science fiction people who have seen sneak previews, and every single one of them says that it’s one of the most spectacular thing that they’ve ever seen.

I hope so. I need it. I couldn’t take another “Pearl Harbor”.

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Filed under Flying, Movies, Music, Random Blatherationings, Science Fiction

Random Blatherationings for August 30th

What? I haven’t done a Random Blatherationings post for August yet? (If you’ve been fortunate enough to let the “rules” leak out of your brain, they’re here.) Time to fix that! Tonight’s three random seed words are “hemisection” (a division along the mesial plane or one of the parts so divided), “quizzism” (the art or habit of quizzing), and “dietetic” (of or performance to diet or to the rules for regulating the kind and quantity of food to be eaten).

Right, then…

Hemisection My first random Google adventure takes me to the Wikipedia entry for Brown-Séquard Syndrome, apparently because “any presentation of spinal injury that is an incomplete lesion (hemisection) can be called a partial Brown-Séquard or incomplete Brown-Séquard syndrome.” The short version for the non-medical professionals out there (me, first of all!) is that “lateral hemisection” is a fancy medical term for cutting, and when it happens to the spinal cord it shows up as paralysis, and Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard was the guy who first described this in 1850.

The history of physiology is not my strong point (glad I didn’t get that for the “forgotten final“) but it’s obvious that people knew prior to 1850 that if your spinal cord was cut there was going to be paralysis. (Actually, I’m pretty sure that death in such circumstances was far more common than paralysis.) It seems that what Brown-Séquard figured out was that certain neurological messages were carried in different fibers of the spinal cord, so that if there were partial cuttings of the spinal cord you might lose your ability to feel temperature or pain.

But the real golden nugget of information in the Wikipedia article about our pal is that he was “known for self-reporting ‘rejuvenated sexual prowess after eating extracts of monkey testis’.” If you’re going to have something truly bizarre listed in your biographical material 119 years after your death, I say you should really go for it, and that one’s setting the bar pretty high. Where does one go to find more details on these self-inflicted “experiments”? And why were they necessary in the first place? Granted, they didn’t have Viagra in the 1880’s, but was he really that desperate?

He sounds like an “interesting” guy, for many reasons.

Quizzism Ignoring all of the Google entries that just take you to a definition, the first random web surfing leap takes us to a listing for an e-book from Google. “Quizzism: And Its Key Quirks and Quibbles from Queer Quarters, A Mélange of Questions in Literature, Science, History, Biography, Mythology, Philology, Geography, Etc. Etc. with Their Answers” was published in 1884 by Albert Plympton Southwick.

How interesting. The 2013 internet in all of its randomness has shown us a book from 1884 about “Quirks and Quibbles From Queer Quarters” immediately after an article about a really bizarre physiologist from the late 1800’s.

The mind boggles.

First of all, how can Mr. Southwick’s first and biggest question not be about Brown-Séquard’s monkey testicle diet? I can’t imagine that not being a prime topic of debate in the 1880’s! I’ll have to get this e-book to find the answer. It says the answers are included, right there in the book title that’s 36% too freakin’ long to fit into a 140-character tweet!

(I swear, this is being written in one draft, sequentially, stream of consciousness, totally random, and so on. I only wish I were a skilled enough writer to be making this shit up.)

Secondly, how can I not use the name “Albert Plympton Southwick” as a character in a novel some day? Really? Just let the name roll around on your tongue for a moment and you can practically see him there in the flesh. No doubt to be played by either John Cryer or Rick Moranis in the movie version. And even more odd – there’s no Wikipedia entry for Albert Plympton Southwick, but there is a Facebook account under that name? I have got to meet this dude!

Finally, how much does one have to shell out for this treasure trove of ancient wisdom? It’s free! (Gotta love Google!) But there aren’t any reviews of it yet, at all. (What a huge surprise that is!)

We’ll have to fix that. Now it’s a quest! We’re on a mission from God!

Dietetic No big surprises here, an “I feel lucky!” Google search sends us to the web page for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Good, I’ve got a few choice words about a “dietetic lifestyle”.

I understand that eating double cheeseburgers and fries and ice cream three meals a day with candy and salty snacks in between is bad for you. I’m not an idiot. (No matter what the Long Suffering Wife’s family says!) Despite knowing that it wasn’t good for me, I ate like that for a long time – BECAUSE IT TASTES GOOD! When I got done eating I WAS FULL and all of the little happy receptors in my brain were firing off and I could go into a blissful food coma.

Now that I’m a little older, I’ve had to spend the last fifteen years or so paying the price for that. First it was the salt that had to go, in order to keep my blood pressure under control. Then it was the sugar and sweets, so that I could lose a few (dozen) pounds. Throw in a bunch of exercise and running to help things along. Just when I thought that I was doing a great job and should be getting an “Atta boy!” from the doctor, instead I get told that I have to drastically cut the pizza and the pasta and the bread and the rice and all of the other carbs and even many of the things that I had thought were “good” and “healthy”. (For example, Jamba Juice.) SHAZBATT!!

Now that I’ve lived with that last dietary adjustment (and by “adjustment”, I mean “restriction”) for about two years, eating teeny, tiny portions of anything that might have actual taste and ginormeously huge portions of bland, raw veggys and salads, I’m finally (sometimes) getting my “Atta boy!” from the doctor. I’m exercising more, losing weight, have good blood pressure, and I get spectacularly wonderful A1C results. Despite all of that, most days I would kill for a burger, fries, and a chocolate malt.

Every once in a while, just because there needs to be a teeny, tiny bit of moderation in addition to those teeny, tiny portions, every once in a while I’ll justify “falling off the wagon” just for one meal. Once a month or so if I’m at a ballgame or someplace where there aren’t a lot of healthy dinner choices, I’ll have a couple of hot dogs and an ice cream sandwich. If one of the kids is home or we’ve had a rotten day and everyone’s tired, I’ll let myself have pizza or Chinese food. Just so that I can occasionally remember how wonderful all of that “bad” food is, I’ll allow myself to indulge without guilt.

Here’s where karma bites you in the ass.

That pizza or candy or burger or malt or fast food or whatever that you just KNOW tastes so freakin’ good (and in your head actually tastes even better, like ambrosia, because you can’t have it), that stuff absolutely tastes like crap after your body has adjusted to a steady diet of “healthy” food. Eat it and you will feel like a poisoned slug for days. Despite how “good” it is supposed to taste.

That sucks big time, in a totally cosmic way. That’s just the gods messing with our heads because they can. You take something that you want soooooooo bad, you get it taken away, and when you are finally able to indulge just a tiny bit in order to again experience how wonderful it is for just a few minutes, it turns out that YOU have changed so that the wonderful, wonderful thing is now complete garbage to you. It’s still wonderful for all of the other folks who are still “poisoning their bodies”, and at the other extreme there are the sanctimonious “healthy people” who think that the salads and granola and water are the best thing ever. But stuck in the middle, EVERYTHING TASTES BAD.

I tried once to express this (politely) to a dietitian who was silly enough to ask how I was doing with my new diet restrictions. I got a look of scorn, disdain, and pity that I’ll never forget. She was enlightened and no doubt filled with angelic joy as she ate her salads and drank her 1% fat almond milk. I was a simply a lost soul who couldn’t accept her truth.

Yeah. “Dietetic”. I’ve got a few things to say about that word.

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Random Blatherationings for July 23rd

Feel lucky, punk? (If you’ve forgotten the rules, they’re here.) Tonight’s three random seed words are “disgest” (to digest), “panton” (a horseshoe to correct a narrow hoofbound heel), and “crustaceology” (that branch of zooumllogy which treats of the Crustacea malacostracology carcinology)

Disgest – Google comes up a complete blank on this one, simply assumes that I’m spelling “digest” incorrectly. (I double checked, I’m not.) The unabridged dictionary has it as an obsolete version of digest and cites something by Sir Francis Bacon.

Sir Francis Bacon was a prominent English orator, statesman, author, and scientist in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. While looking up some facts on him my brain’s still quietly digesting art thoughts from The Getty visit, so what immediately caught my eye in the Google search was an image of a sculpture at the Oxford University Museum.

11465080_1a5dcbbc5a_z Photo by Kevin Walsh (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The “dead eye” thing on sculptures has always freaked me out a bit. I’m guessing that there’s some reason to do it that I haven’t heard of. (Having said that, there was a sculpture at The Getty that had the eyes done in silver inlay on a marble bust – that was even creepier.)

The detail in the stonework on this entire piece is just unbelievable, but the detail on the ruff goes even beyond that. Someone either was a huge fan of Bacon or was getting paid a lot of money for an incredible piece of art.

And I thought that the ruffs made of lace or cloth looked stiff & uncomfortable!

Panton – Google doesn’t find anything relating to horseshoes that I can see and wants to assume that I can’t spell “Pantone”. (Google is very big on thinking that I can’t spell tonight – don’t be so judgemental, Google!) But there are results returned for “panton chair” and “panton valentine leukocidin”. Let’s pick Door #2!

As the old Knight Templar in “Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade” said, “He did not choose wisely.” A CDC article pops up with a whole bunches of $35 words. “Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Genes in Staphylococcus aureus”.

Do you know what “tl;dr” means? I’ll summarize as best I can (i.e., badly). Panton and Valentine were researchers who in 1932 looked at a strain of staph cells that were particularly toxic and a source of all kinds of problems in cuts, injuries, and infections. This 2006 paper is from a group of researchers in Rotterdam that were looking at how infections caused by that strain of staph are currently distributed both by time and location.

What this reminds me most of is the recurring nightmares many college students have where you show up for a final exam in a critical class that you had totally forgotten about and never attended at all. Some time for extra credit your subconscious will have you show up naked and/or late for that forgotten class and final.

Remind me to tell you some time how I finally got rid of that particular nightmare.

Crustaceology – “That branch of zooumllogy which treats of the Crustacea malacostracology carcinology”? Are you freakin’ kidding me? “Zooumllogy” isn’t even in the first two unabridged dictionaries I look in – I finally find it in a scientific dictionary. It’s the subcategory of biology that refers to animals. (Why couldn’t they have just said that?) “Carcinology” and “malacostracology” both refer to zoological classifications of crustaceans, particularly lobsters and crabs. So from context it means… Ooh, look, a butterfly!

Who was the first guy who looked at king crabs and thought that they were edible? Who was the first guy who even saw king crabs? The reality TV shows on Discovery Channel always show these guys out in the middle of the Bering Sea in fifty-foot waves dropping traps down into hundreds of feet of water, so it’s not like someone just stumbled across one of these things.

So, ignoring that, let’s say that somehow you’ve managed to grab onto a king crab and it looks like a huge freakin’ armor-covered spider from the bottom of the ocean. My first response would be to run screaming and worry about getting clean underwear later. What inspired someone to instead say, “Man, if that thing doesn’t kill me, I’ll bet it’ll taste great with some drawn butter!”

It’s things like this that make The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy a much, MUCH better foundation for theology than the Bible. There’s too much just plain freakish and bizarre stuff out there every day that goes totally unnoticed and unthought about for there to be any intelligent design behind it all.

Are we done? Close enough, although we never did find anything relating to orthotic horseshoes, did we? Google that and see what comes up!

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Random Blatherationings For July 14th

OK, that was really weird – I had typed “Random Blatherings” into the title and the spell check doesn’t like “Blatherings”, but just to be even more goofy and stupid I changed it to “Blatherationings” and now it seems fine. “Blatherationings” is really, really a word? Really?

OK, this is either not going at all the way I expected or it’s going exactly as it needs to – or both.

Seventy-six consecutive days and seventy-nine posts into this adventure, brain fried, not in a “writing mood”, realizing that it’s exactly today that I most need to get something written, can’t even do an “Odds & Sods” post because I’ve gotten one half-written already with several follow-ups to previous posts but I need to do some actual research to finish that off; I really should be studying my Spanish numbers for tomorrow night’s quiz; it’s too cloudy to go out and shoot more astrophotos of the moon and/or Venus and/or Saturn tonight; and I think that I’ve finally made this enough of a run-on sentence (which I know that I tend to do and I try to limit it but sometimes it’s just my own thematic style, a work in progress) to really piss off my daughter the English teacher…

…so instead let’s do this. Three rolls of the “I’m feeling lucky” wheel on Google, I’ll spout opinion and bullshit, with luck some of you will read it, with more luck some of you will be moved to make some comment on it, we’ll get a conversation going here, and we’ll call it a night.

Going to a random word generator, my three seed words for Google are “unease”, “ichthyoid”, and “exit”. (This is going to be a disaster.)

Unease – I get the definition of the word at The Free Dictionary website. What this makes me think of first is how boring “The Free Dictionary” is despite its usefulness. It’s better than because you don’t have the ads and so on, but a much better site which I dearly love is The Urban Dictionary (guaranteed NSFW!!).

If you want to be uneasy, just get caught reading The Urban Dictionary at work by a prudish, conservative boss. But if you see some term in the press or on Twitter or FaceBook or whatever and you’re thinking, “Huh! Kids these days! I wonder what that means?” then The Urban Dictionary is the first place to go. Just don’t go if you’re easily shocked.

For example, on the front page of the site you’ll get the “Word of the Day”. The word for July 12th was “lane splitting”, a pretty benign term from the motorcycle world that I’m sure you can all figure out. On the other hand, the word for July 8th was “wub one out”, the definition of which contains a number of words that I can guarantee you my mother has never use or has never heard.

Ichthyoid – and we’re right back to the definition in The Free Dictionary (“a fish or fishlike vertebrate”) and whole page of other definition sources, so let’s page through the Google listings for something more interesting (they’re my rules, I just made them up fifteen minutes ago, I’ll trash them as I see fit!) and look at what’s on the “green ‘l’ in ‘Gooooooooogle'” page.

This is…promising. It’s a YouTube video from April of someone dancing in their living room wearing a blue & yellow “fur suit” to the song “Thrift Shop” by (apparently) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis? (Obviously, rap and contemporary pop are not my strong suit!)

First of all, the fur suit is kind of an anime/furry thing and it’s not bad if she (I’m assuming it’s a “she”) is going to ComicCon or something for some cosplay. (“Cosplay” is another term you can look up on The Urban Dictionary…) Or trying out as a mascot for the high school sports teams. The dance routine doesn’t suck and if she’s doing it impromptu to the song she’s doing a good job. Just recording this and putting it up on YouTube shows she has more guts than I would about that sort of thing.

I just don’t think she understands what “ichthyoid” means when she named her video “Ichthyoid Zombie”. She’s not fish-like – she’s a furry critter with a tail, like an anime fox or raccoon. And most of the zombies I see mentioned (except for Brad Pitt’s) don’t dance, they do more shuffling and stumbling. But perhaps I’m subscribing to an outdated stereotype.

What would really be cool (and this really isn’t a “me” thing) would be if I had an army of followers and readers like John Scalzi or Wil Wheaton. Right now this video has 218 views – if I were one of them, in the morning it would have 21,800 views. Wouldn’t that freak her out? THAT would be cool! C’mon, everyone reading this, go to the link if you haven’t already and get some friends to do it too, let’s see if we can double the view count overnight!!

Exit – so just maybe the “I’m Feeling Lucky” choices on Google are sponsored. This gives me the website for the Syfy show “Exit”, which a brief perusal shows to be a brand new (two full episodes available to watch online now!!) reality-television game show of some sort.


I would like to give Syfy some love, but I just can’t. I’ve been a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy since childhood. I’ve been a card-carrying SF fan, going to cons, running cons, publishing fanzines, voting for the Hugo Awards, and so on for thirty-five years now.

I hate Syfy.

I never really hated them when they started out as “The Sci-Fi Channel” (not just because “sci-fi” is what mundanes called science fiction to belittle it while “SF” was what the fans called it) showing nothing but constant repeats of really old, really bad “B-movies”. I just didn’t watch them much.

I disliked them when they started making really bad “B-movies” of their own. I know there are some who think that they’ve now gotten so bad that they’re good (i.e., last Friday’s “Sharknado”) but I’ll say it – the Emperor has no clothes. Their programs suck.

And I really started hating them when they started committing a significant chunk of their schedule to showing “wrestling”, as in WWE or WWF or WWsomethingreallyfreakin’stupid.

Why can’t they be showing “Star Trek” re-runs, and “Twilight Zone”, and classic SF movies, and “Outer Limits”, and hell, even “Lost In Space”, “Time Tunnel”, and “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea”? The worst episode of any of those shows would be better than the crap they have on there now.

And since they have the name “Sci-Fi” or “Syfy” or however they want to market it this year, that’s what a significant portion of the population thinks of when they think of science fiction. They’re taking something I love as wonderful and thoughtful and intellectual and mind expanding and they’re using it as corporate wrapping paper for stale dog turd and old fish guts.

I hate them. Won’t watch. Ever.

There, that was a pretty good rant, right? I guess maybe this idea worked as a blunt force exercise to jump start my muse for the evening. I like it!

And now to study some Spanish numbers. Uno! Dos! Tres! Cuatro! (Insert “Wooly Bully” here.)


Filed under Random Blatherationings, Science Fiction, Writing