Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just the Stats, Ma'am

You know that you're condemned to repeat your past if you don't evaluate it, so in a meagre attempt to minimize repetition, I'll stop here to navel-gaze this humble blog via the optics offered up by ExTreme Tracking. Here then some statistics.

Of the visitors to date, migration here was 55.06% due to Internet Explorer 6. Mozilla's Firefox, the Macintosh of Internet engines, accounted for 22.22%, the second highest %, while Mac itself came in third at 6.73%. The Browser Galeon, a satellite launched, I believe, in the Kennedy Administration came in with 1 hit. So, I know I'm getting through to the nether reaches of our solar system, albeit to a machine. Galeon, give my condolenes to Pluto as you pass by; its planet listing days are numbered.

The majority of the visitors/readers, 60.90%, live in the USA. Canada's citizens came in as the second largest % of visitors at 8.45% and I'd say 97.8% of those visits were made by the ever-friendly Whisky Prajer. Thanks, WP. I seem to do well with the Scandanavian countries, as 4 countries are in the top 12. Iceland comes in at 11th, but that's not surprising. It is one of the most literate countries in the world and always on the prowl for something different to peruse. I seem to be but a mere one-shot curiosity in 24 countries; a one-time visit probably made in error. One such country is simply i.d.-ed as Anonymous Proxy. Perhaps that's where the convicted Enron execs will be jailed.
Slovenia is #6, for which I thank Michael and Isoglossia, two sites I heartily recommend.
France is #4 and I have no clue why. Mais, merci beaucoup pour ca.

Iceland was the leading keyword to refer to this site, with the next two highest, Bill and Hicks, referring, of course, to the late great comic, Bill Hicks. In the top 50 words used in a search engine to get here, I'm proud to say, Viagra, sex, nude, and bush never made the list. On the other hand, shmenges and schweik did, but you readers know these are quite the polite and distinguished word.

To all of my 24,802 visitors (measured to date...I was off the track for about 9 months), even the folks who oooopsed here, my thanks to you. Keep those comments coming, they're the knocks on the door letting me know I'm not alone.

Friday, May 26, 2006


A dear friend's son recently graduated from the University of the Arts in Philly. Is this the way to leave the commencement ceremonies or what? Who hasn't graduated from high school or college and not wanted to click their heels or shuffle two-step once off the stage. A Dance of Life before the Dance of Work and Death starts its Monday to Friday beat.

Rhythmic drums, curvaceous dancers, unstated permission to act childlike, forgiveness for any physical mis-step. What else can one ask from a graduation ceremony. I'm sure even some of the profs join in. This samba idea should be copied by any college seeking to put a release of joy into their commencement exercises, for what more enjoyable exercise can a person have than the primordial urge to shake one's....uhm...booty.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bagging It

A short blurb here. Just a note to myself as to just one more reason why my Ever-Loving Wife is the funniest person happening..well, at least to me.

In a recent "discussion" between the daughter and the E-LW, the former was, in her mind, reacting first to the facial expressions of the latter before the latter's verbal expressions had a chance to affect the former. Confused? So was the E-LW.
"So, you're telling me you're interpreting my words prior to their being spoken by evaluating my facial expressions?", the E-LW said to the daughter?

A firm "Yes" was aired. "In fact", the suddenly clairvoyant daughter went on, "I can tell exactly what you're going to say by what I see happening on your face."

Off to the pantry goes my E-LW. Much noise of the Kraft paper variety ensues. She comes out, a brown bag over her head with eyeholes carefully cut out.

"There, let's talk. You can stare at my blank expression all you want; just listen to my words."

Unfortunately, the "discussion" dissipated into laughter and much rolling on the floor. The E-LW, ever-conscious of the environment, keeps the Conversation Bag handy for the next time.

Because, with daughters (and sons), there's always a next time.

(Thanks to Vit for the "borrowed" drawing)

Bend, Harry, Bend

A bi-weekly visit over to Vitriolica Webb's Ite encounters this fine rendering of self-delusional behaviour, the wardrobe version. She is always a guaranteed laugh or, at a minimum, an a-hem.
On occassion, one of her drawings sparks some memories long dormant. Please excuse any perceived sexism on my part; it is unintentional. I simply couldn't resist one of Vit's poignant depictions.

In the mid-section of New Jersey, the overflowing stomach that is that state's propensity toward acquisition of non-essential material is a fine clothing store that I used to frequent when style and finances were running neck-and-neck toward zero. For anyone not familiar with the chain, minimal monies were wasted on display methodologies, packaging, carpeting, paint, and lighting. As long as the clothing was not on the floor, a successful merchandising effort was made. Imagine a person with 25-30 years of experience in the fish trade. Take that person, remove his fish, throw him bales of suits, shirts, ties, and sweaters and ask him to display his wares. The pescatorially leaning exposition is what you end up with. All that's missing is the fishy smell...if you're lucky. The shoehorns made available must have been made of some unidentifiable precious metal as the seemingly high value bestowed on them resulted in the store's management attaching 1/2 inch thick chains to them. It was a workout just lifting the shoehorn the few inches necessary to use it when sliding into the footwear.

Just like a fish market, the folks shopping here tend to be loud and rambunctious, offering all within earshot their opinion on "da look", "da style", and "da choice" (the latter word sounding quite garbled and chewed up as it's spit out). There's a lot of grabbing and tugging. You may be on one side of a table stacked with 6 feet of wares. A like-minded dedicated follower of fashion may be on the other. You both spot a must-have. It's located in mid-stack range. You give a tug. He gives a tug. Soon, you're each trying to pull each other through the stack. The bargains are there, you've bitten, and you're not letting go.

One of the pleasures of initial dates with my ever-loving wife was visiting this store. I needed clothes. She needed laughs. We usually walked out loaded to the gills with both. On one visit, some late September, just before the Florida-bound senior citizens migrated southwards, I was in need of some biz pants (the earlier version of casual-day kahaki). While I cruised the aisles chumming for sartorial splendour on the cheap, she sallied about in search of the human condition. Not too long before she encountered a husband-wife exchange.

She: Harry, da white shoooz, da white shoooz! Looking nice with your choices. Don't fo'get da belt. White. No, no vinyl. Stick with da ledder; it's natural and bends.
He: To hell with friggin' matching! Does it look right? Do I look comfortable (??)? Me, do I look like me?
She: Try 'em. Willya try 'em. You!? How can I tell if it's you if you ain't in 'em. Here. Here! Take a coupla pairs of these and those and thems ova' dere. And remember, Harry. Bend, Harry, Bend!!

Unaware of this exchange, I was already in the dressing room, which was a plywood sheeted 8 x 8, screwed together, unpainted, duck-tape-covering-holes-in-the-sheets "room" dropped in the middle of the Men's section. There were benches lining the inside walls, thousand of clothing hooks screwed in no particular order or height on the walls, and a well-worn bedsheet nailed at the top of a door-like hole cut in a jaggedy manner in one of the "room"'s walls. This was the only barrier between we men undressing and any dignity we still had.

Luckily for me, I was well aware of the trying-on process. No privacy in the dressing room meant a visit to this store required you wearing boxers. Furtive glances about showed a rash of neophytes in the room. Bikini u'wear, bulge specials, boat underwear (no pics available...but you know what I'm referring to..those once-white now grey, once semi-tight now sans-elastic underwear that almost need a belt to keep them from slipping to embarassing levels). There was going to be discomfort in this room today!

Harry comes in, dumps his choices on a bench, and proceeds to strip. I turn my head to avoid any eye contact. A shriek from outside the dressing room has us scurrying about.
She: Harry? Harry!??! Do you hear me, Harry? Do you have them on? Are you bending? Bend, Harry, Bend!
He: Alright already, I'm bending. I'm bending!
She: I don't hear you bending, Harry. Bend, Harry, Bend! O.K., that's it. I'm coming in, Harry. You've got to be bending in Florida, Harry.

And so she does. She comes in. She eyes us, one by one, clucking her tongue, giving appreciative head shakes to some, an eyes-upward glance at others, a return view at one or two of us. She then shudders and bears down on poor Harry. The rest of us put on whatever pants or shirts we were holding and jerk toward the billowing doorway, shoeless.

Bend, Harry, Bend! is all we hear as we beat the retreat, heads down. Our faces gradually lose their crimson color. I see my ever-loving wife. She's leaning on a teetering table of goods. Laughing. She shouts out,

Bend, Darko, Bend!

Shipping News

A link from Yakima Gulag points out an interesting result coming from the recent vote in Montenegro to pull out of the shambles of what used to be a much larger Yugoslavia 15 years ago.

Namely, where there was a Yugoslav navy on May 21st, there no longer is one, technically speaking, on May 22nd. What to do with all of the personnel and the ships? Does Yugoslavia follow the fine example of Bolivia and maintain a land-locked naval force patrolling the rivers in Serbia? That decision may not work too well; Yugoslavia does not have a large body of water within its new confines as Bolivia has with Lake Titicaca.

Or will the local painting contractors in Montenegro make a killing re-painting the Yugoslav vessels as Montenegrin ships. That is, if the ships are turned over or sold to the newly recognized country of Montenegro (which has been around in previous incarnations as an independent country).

Will the ships be used for patrolling the Adriatic Sea for criminals, castaways, and drug smugglers, or will they be converted to Mega Luxury Yachts plying the waters around Ulcinj?

Should be an interesting turn of events and negotiations to follow as the tentative split-off between Yugoslavia and Montenegro begins around mid-July of this this summer. Foreign investors are already being curried to lay out major money into the development of Montenegro's beautiful but small (199 km) coastline. But, if you're Yugoslavia, 199 is larger than 0. Even Bosnia-Hercegovina has a spot on the coast, albeit a tiny 20 km.

I'll be visiting Estavisti, Belgrade Blog, Yakima Gulag, and Eric @ East Ethnia for info as it comes in. As an American currently residing in Nis (for a short spell, it seems), Eric's take on what's happening with the split-up should be interesting and enligtening.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Favorite Waste of Time

From the ever resourceful (and tempting) Whisky Prajer, comes a link to this site, a place guarranteed to suck in your valuable time. The picture noted here is just one example of the japes, jabs, and jujubees that the sexually-indeterminent Superdickery provides. All are authetic and unalterred, or at least that's what the FAQ state.

This picture also indicates that the No Child Left Behind program should cover our superheroes' shortfalls as well. Yes, they, too, should not be left behind either. As we non-Super Mathematicians know, 20 X 16 X 10 does not equal 32,000. It's, like, closer to 196,015.66667, right?!?

A hat tip to WP, for once again giving a link to pass on. And, as he noted, time will pass by quickly as you guffaw and click.

Addendum: Spiderman, a favorite comic hero of mine, that usually comes up for me is, say, one like this one, from the 1980's. WP, waffling on his all-time favorite super-hero prefers Spidy to the Cowled Crusader. I've still got a soft spot for Ironman, who later turned into this Iron Man. No. just joking, although Ted Hughes' Iron Man is quite interesting in his own twisted unfortunate way.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yeah, I'm in the Bear Import-Export Trade.

Regular visitors (I thank you in sufficient amounts of profuseness) are familiar with postings of the export-import business that thrives in the former republics of Yugoslavia on this site. When in need of a profession to quote as one's own when asked, "So, what is it that you really do?", export-import rings well. The services and products that are the subject of this activity are broad and wide. As pointed out by Balkan Scissors, here is an example of the breadth.

A quick translation of the title "Slovenački medvedi". That would be Slovenian Bears. The subtitle notes that Slovenia has recently become the largest exporter of bears in Europe, a fact that's surprising in that who would keep track of such a fact.

But then, if you're in import-export, you do want to get noticed in some manner, so handling the exchange of bears seems to be a win-win for all. You as the bear exporter get noticed. The bear, as the product, gets a less confined forest to ramle around. The receiving country, in this case France, gets the needed furry animals to make their nature reserves more complete.

The bears are shipped alive not butchered for their internal organs as in East Asia where the demand for bear gall-bladders drives a non-living bear trade. Confirmation of the number of bears exported, live, from Slovenia has been hard to track, although "between 1975 and 2003, over 14 000 Brown Bear bodies, skins, skulls and trophies were reported to be traded globally (being only a fraction of overall annual national harvests), with Canada being the largest exporter, followed by the Russian Federation and the USA. Together, the 25 EU Member States were the second largest importers of trophy items after the USA (excerpted from here).

Here's a British article regarding a shipment of France-bound Slovenian bears. Luckily, Slovenia will soon be in the EU, so currency, tariffs, and some taxes will be uniform and thus easier for the bears to deal with the trauma of Ursine Cleansing.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Da "Sig"

Ah, how age wears down life's little pleasures. When I opened up my first checking account in college, I recall going through a stack of signature cards before finally settling on a version of my signature that was both the essence and the flying-high flag of my identity. Writing my 2-3 monthly checks, I carefully scrolled out my penned identity. Usually each mailed check meant about 10 checks were discarded so that one exquisite one could make it to the mailbox. I imagined the receiver of my check spending days admiring the curves, the curlicules, the swish of the trailing end of my signature. Why, my check was probably not cashed promptly because it was hung up by someone's desk, being mooned over as to it's beauty. To me a CND$10.43 cheque (yes, my virgin checking account was drawn from the Royal Bank of Canada. Well, actually Banque Royale du Canada) was equivalent to any check Carnegie or Mellon signed off on when they purchased their steel mills, railroads, or senators. Why would I bother with USA banks with common names like First National Bank or Perth Amboy Savings and Loan?

As I got older, the number of checks that were trashed before being mailed or handed over came closer and closer to a 1:1 ratio. Nowadays, what checks I do sign for personal or business related monetary exchanges are handed over with some perceptible squiggle in the signature area. I trace this atrocious penmanship back to my first credit card. Upon receiving it, I flipped it over to attach my signature. Oh, no! I only got one shot at this permanent record. And the strip of plastic to put my mark? Microscopic in height! I had to do a 45 degree slant on my name, as if a gale force wind was blowing my identity toward the windward side of the card. Of course, the pen I was using was the never-drying ink kind, so the extreme right-leaning signature was, in addition, smoodged to a cloud of semi-distince letters.

No matter, it seemed. Any charge card slip I signed was acceptable. Smoodge stood in for my identity. My check signing skills diminished as well. My inked identity seemed of no importance to the cashing receivers of my promissary notes. Even checks I'd forgotten to sign were accepted. The money in my checking account seemed unharnessed and ready to bolt with the passing of any paper from my hands.

I've started, recently, to make an effort with my sloppy penmanship. To my surprise, clarity of letters is now prompting more inquiries than my rushed signing attempts. In this age of electronic money transfers, it seems the written name is attracting the curiousity I used to extend to folks without running water. I'm waiting for the local museum to come calling, inquiring about this penmanship thing.

Here's a hilarious little experiment on testing the expanding borders of signature comparison. My favorite is this one (the matrix series).

Friday, May 05, 2006

I hear the Zagnuts

From the always excellent (very premium!!) site, New York Slavs, comes notice that the Zagnut Orkestar is coming to town.
This band, I must be telling at you, is most of a surprise for me. It is a smack to the head after I've been turned around and around like a donkey-tail pinning fool. In the days of high school, the biology class is the universe center for scalliwags to be occupied with jests and acts of sophomoric type. So, here in the public of the interent, I must post an apology to one Mr. Nick B., a classmate who a collection of us academic hooligans teased with the maliciousness only possible at an all boys school. Mr. Nick B., a tall lad with hairs of curl and eyes of hazelish blue, never seemed to have the problems burdened on us in talking with the fairer sex. His goofy grin seemed enough to attract any come-hithers in sight. We handed out our revenge the academic way.

While exploring zygotes with our microscopes one day, one of our band noticed Nick, hovering on the outskirts of our wrath.
"Want to see the...zagnuts, Nick?"
"Uhmm,, they really do look like zagnuts!??"
"Nick, how about hearing them? Do you want to hear the zagnuts?"
One of the crew tilted his head to one side and deposited his rather large and wax encrusted ear over the eyepiece. He started humming some commercial ditty.
Nick scooted in next to him, waiting for his chance. As soon as there was space, he eagerly lowered his ear, tuning in for zagnuts.
He, of course, heard them. Only, Nick's humming alluded more to Klezmer and accordians. Holding a hand to our faces, we nodded our heads to his humming, guffawing only after he stood up, thanked us, and walked away.
Nick became an instant classic at school.
The man who heard the zagnuts.
Little did we know that he was hearing the future, while we were locked to the humdrum of the present.

As with the girls, Nick was way ahead of us. He saw and heard things we assumed to be ridiculously unreal. The Zagnut Orkestar? Nick B.'s been listening to them for quite a while. Hats off to you, sir, along with my childish apologies.

Gimme 3 Steps....Mister

A short bit on last night's "The Daily Show" supported by a blessed overstock of 233 blank pages of 8 1/2 x 11 paper led me to this fine place. Jon Stewart had mentioned that within the Homeland Security Guide to the Pandemic Flu, there was a short spiel on the Three Foot Space. Knowing his ability to stretch a fact to its breaking point, I downloaded said 233 pages of the Homeland Security Guide to the Pandemic Flu and found, on page 177, that Mr. Stewart was not stretching the truth. It is specifically stated that "Three feet" is the minimal distance one should keep between co-workers to minimize the passing of the avian flu.

A checklist for keeping up with not getting infected gives you a generally queasy feeling. Yes, there is a checklist of items. But the checklist is so general that it seems it was provided moreso to prevent future lawsuits than to actually help the individual, business, or organization to get things right. It most certainly invites one to contact (and pay) some health officious sounding companies; the checklist provides the worry but not the particulars for assuaging.

For the sake of mnemonics , I say bring back Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme 3 Steps" as the theme song for the Avian Flu. The word "Mister" in the song being an allusion, of course, not to some red-neck in a bar but rather one of our fine-feathered friends who, it seems, would wreak a whole bunch more damage on us than the love taps administered by a honky-tonky bar habituee.

(This is a good place to put to bed the 4th song of the What was I Thinking?? Song Cycle. No need for a long dissertation, complete with footnotes. I won't even place any links to this song. Everyone, unfortunately, knows all too well the gist of the lyrics and the ruanway train guitar hijinks involved of Lynyrds Skynyrd's Free Bird. I will, however, point out this most excellent Reverend Billy C. Wirtz album, "Pianist Envy". One of the songs, "Freeway to Stairbird", a song of ingenuity since it melds the pomposity of "Stairway to Heaven" with the whiny clammering of "Free Bird". I couldn't find the lyrics on line. Please be assured that this cd is a must-have for your collection. And, as always, if you buy the cd and don't like it, return it to me at this internet site and your account will eventually be credited).

So, if the birds are flying overhead, hum that song ("Gimme 3 Steps") and put some snappy steps between you, your co-worker, and influenza.

Wanting to know the latest? Here's the Situation Update from the World Health Organization.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Large Roadside Attractions

In a comment on the previous entry, I laboriously went on about a trip the family took to the wilds of Kenora, Ontario. One of the attractions of the trip was the plethora of large sculptures of animals we encountered on the way from Delaware to Kenora. Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario seemed to be a particular centerplace for this phenomenon. Fourteen Large Animal Sculptures in one city! There's a site specifically tailored for Large Canadian Roadside Attractions (listed by province, to boot!), a spot I spent way too much time clicking through. (Highly recommended and added on to the list of other internet sites to visit).

Curious to see if those Canadians had trumped us on the Large Animals demanding our paeans to Nature, a quick search came up with the following. From the Koen Brothers, there is, of course, Brainard, Minnesota's Paul Bunyon and his blue ox.
One site deals specifically with the Muffler Men inhabiting our byways.
As expected, things are just plain big in Texas and Jim Tankard wants to document that fact.
Debra Jane has an interesting little place that includes this giant woman in New Jersey. (Her sister resides in Illinois)

This site, World's Largest Roadside Attractions takes you to Australia as well as providing you links to largeness around us.

Other sites to visit, when making your summer vacation plans include Roadside America,
..and here's a NYT article from 2003 worth a quick skim.
Jeffrey Sward's site includes attractions no longer viewable, a sorry state of affairs. A pulled pork restaurnat in Columbus features this.

When you're tired of LARGE, here's somewhere small to lord over.

And, of course, there's at least one book that beckons.

Lastly, the original Large Roadside Attraction, still bringing in the daily gapers.

Monday, May 01, 2006


The Rat Portage Thistles, later re-named (as was the town sitting on Lake of the Woods) to the Kenora Thistles, won the Stanley Cup in 1907. Among the clean-shaven lads on this team was one Art Ross, whose name was later attached to the Art Ross Trophy, Hockey's accolade to the annual scoring leader. The Montreal Wanderers was the losing team that year, an unaccustomed position for such a large city team. The disgrace of losing to a team named for a prickly flower must have made the mighty Wanderers squirm. So much so, that they challenged the Thistles for the Stanley the same year.

So, in 1907 (as in 1896, 1899, 1902, 1903, 1906, & 1910), there were two Stanley Cup champions in the same year. And you thought the current rules in the NHL regarding penalties were confusing.

Why bring up the Rat Portage Thistles? Well, Mr. Whisky Prajer was discussing the NHL's comeback, so I thought I'd throw some stubbies on the fire.

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