Category Archives: wild things

Need a laugh this afternoon?

I was desperate for a laugh this afternoon when I turned to Suburban Guerilla and found this posted by Susie:

Signs of the Great Recession

I got a pre-declined credit card in the mail.

Wives are having sex with their husbands because they can’t afford batteries.

CEO’s are now playing miniature golf.

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 Congressmen.

A stripper was killed when her audience showered her with rolls of pennies while she danced.

I saw a Mormon polygamist with only one wife.

If the bank returns your cheque marked “Insufficient

Funds,” you call them and ask if they meant you or them.

McDonald’s is selling the 1/4 ouncer.

Angelina Jolie at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America

Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their children’s names.

My cousin had an exorcism but couldn’t afford to pay for it, and they re-possessed her!

A truckload of Americans was caught sneaking into Mexico.

A picture is now only worth 200 words.

The Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas is now managed by Somali pirates.

Congress says they are looking into this Bernard Madoff scandal. Oh Great! The guy who made $50 Billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $1.5 Trillion disappear!

And, finally…

I was so depressed last night thinking about the economy, wars, jobs, my savings, Social Security, retirement funds, etc., I called the Suicide Hotline. I got a call centre in Pakistan, and when I told them I was suicidal, they got all excited, and asked if I could drive a truck.

Thanks, Susie, I needed that.

How Gov. Haley Barbour Cuts Costs…

"At his press conference today, Governor ...

Haley Barbour, Air Traveler

It’s hypocrisy time again among the Republicans. Taegan Goddard put up this piece which he took from Time Magazine this morning. 

And this guy may run for President (that will take care of his flying costs for at least four years if he wins.)

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Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, his wife and three aides flew in a luxury jet to Washington in February “for a weekend of politicking, including an appearance on Fox News Sunday and a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference,” Time reports.


He told the gathering: “Our problem is not that we tax too little. It’s that we spend too much.”

However, it appears Mississippi taxpayers “paid the tab for Barbour’s first-class travel. State documents obtained by Time show that Mississippi shelled out $7,020 to shuttle Barbour and his entourage to and from D.C. on its Cessna Citation, a cost that Barbour says is justified by state work he did in D.C. over the same weekend.”

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Things have changed a lot since I went to college…

It’s not often that I see controversy in the press about my alma mater, Northwestern University (BS 1968, MA 1969)… so I was surprised when this turned up in the NY Times:

The president of Northwestern University said Thursday that he was “troubled and disappointed” by a psychology professor’s decision to present his students last week with a demonstration outside class that featured a couple engaging in a live sex act using a prop.

The demonstration had been arranged by J. Michael Bailey, whose Human Sexuality class has an enrollment of nearly 600. On Feb. 21, after concluding a lecture at a university auditorium about sexual arousal, Professor Bailey brought onto the stage a man whom he had invited to participate in a discussion of “kinky people,” according to an e-mail the professor later sent to his students that was reprinted by The Daily Northwestern.

Oooweee! The whole article is available in the Education section of the Times HERE. Checking out the coverage in the Daily Northwestern (click on the link in the quote), I find most of the student community supporting Bailey (who has taught a NU for two decades) and a certain number of outsiders who are offended by the whole thing.

I’ll be curious to see what President Shapiro announced investigation comes up
with… welcome to the 21st Century!

Typically American Innovator, Milton M. Levine, Died Last Week At 97…

President Obama, in his State of the Union Message, told America that it had to get back to invention and innovation… the things that made us great and that were now happening in other countries. He was talking about automobiles and machines of industry, but last week one of the true heroes of American innovation, who invented a unique product, raised a family and sent his children to school on the profits, and sold his company shortly before his death for $20 million.

Who was this great man and what was his invention? In 1956 Milton M. Levine co-created the Ant Farm with his brother-in-law, E. J. Cossman, something millions of American children have used to learn about the dynamic activities of Pogonomyrmex californicus — red ants from California — as they tunnel and create “underground” communities.

Originally selling for $1.98, Levine sold mostly through mail order the 6″ x 9″ plastic “farm” with clear plastic sides that revealed the tunneling insects. Demand was so great that a 10″ x 15″ model soon followed.

If you were a fourth grader like me who ordered the ant farm, you waited for it to come in the mail only to discover that it contained no ants. There was a coupon which you sent in led to delivery of a plastic vial with 25 worker ants inside (no Queens, which were illegal to ship over state lines). This meant that, some weeks later you had to order more ants to replace the ones that died. Or, you could dig up your own and hope you got a queen… and were likely to find a completely different breed that “didn’t get along” with the little red guys. That’s what happened to mine.

Levine sold his company, Uncle Milton Industries, in 2010 after 54 years of producing the great American product. The original sized ant farm sells today for $10.95. Commenting on what he had learned from Pogonomyrmex californicus, Levine once said:

“I found out their most amazing feat yet… They put three kids through college.”

We should all remember the way innovation can spring from almost anywhere in America. Farewell, Milton Levine… you helped make us great.

America is Going Nuts!

Now there is a rank loony blogger holding up Wal-Mart as a way to protest the “ground zero mosque.”

You know, people BELIEVE this crap. That’s what scares me most.

From Salon:

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Anti-Islam blogger to hold pro-Wal-Mart rally
Obsessive anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller is having another New York rally in support of bigotry and insanity. This time, though, there’s a twist: She is still protesting the imaginary “ground zero mosque,” but she also wants everyone to know that she’s in favor of Wal-Mart.
The giant retail chain that has successfully held the lead in America‘s race to the bottom would like to expand into New York City. The City Council is against the idea. Geller, obviously, supports Wal-Mart, because liberals dislike Wal-Mart, and liberals love Muslims, and Muslims hate America, and so therefore Wal-Mart is good and loves America.
Also, Geller is the lady who decided to loudly boycott Dunkin’ Donuts because it had an ad in which spokesperson Rachael Ray wore a scarf that resembled a keffiyeh.
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More Than 1,000 Dead Birds Fall From The Sky

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BEEBE, Ark. — Environmental service workers finished picking up the carcasses on Sunday of about 2,000 red-winged blackbirds that fell dead from the sky in a central Arkansas town.
The birds had fallen Friday night over a 1-mile area of Beebe, and an aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found outside of that area. The workers from U.S. Environmental Services started the cleanup Saturday.
Mike Robertson, the mayor in Beebe, told The Associated Press the last dead bird was removed about 11 a.m. Sunday in the town about 40 miles northeast of Little Rock. He said 12 to 15 workers, hired by the city to do the cleanup, wore environmental-protection suits for the task.

Robertson said the workers wore the suits as a matter of routine and not out of fear that the birds might be contaminated. He said speculation on the cause is not focusing on disease or poisoning.
Bird Government Testing, Lightning Or Poison? What Caused Birds To Fall Dead In Arkansas?

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Wow…it’s like an old Twilight Zone Episode.
Any thoughts?

Thanks to NPR I’ve found out that I’m at least 1% Neanderthal…

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This year was a good year for Neanderthals. Yes, they did go extinct about 30,000 years ago, but scientists now say their genes live on — in us.

Scientists also found a 40,000-year-old finger in a Siberian cave that apparently belonged to an unknown human-like creature. And hair from the corpse of a 4,000-year-old hunter revealed his blood type and a predisposition for baldness.

What made these discoveries possible was DNA, which is becoming biological science’s window into the past.
This year a team of scientists brought together by the Max Planck Institute in Germany actually decoded the billions of DNA segments extracted from Neanderthal bones. It was the culmination of years of research into retrieving intact, ancient DNA from the bones of humans and their ancestors.
“We estimate that about one to four percent of the genetic ancestry of non-Africans is from Neanderthals,” says David Reich, a geneticist from Harvard University and a member of the research team.
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I guess in order to have this mix of species there had to be, at some point 40,000 years ago, some romance (by this I mean sex) between Joe Neanderthal and Sophie Sapiens, or some other mix.
They also found out that aside from Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens (us) there was likely a third species that we don’t know much about.


Doesn’t this make your New Year brighter?

Zappa conducts “G Spot Tornado” with the Ensemble Modern:

Late career Zappa working in Europe where they always appreciated him more. I just ran into this one and was fascinated:

Happy 8th day of Zappadan!

I am sorry to report that Jerry Bock has died…

Composer Jerry Bock, who, with lyricist Sheldon Harnick, gave us so many wonderful musicals… Fiorello, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me (one of my all-time favorites), The Apple Tree, Tenderloin (another of my favorites), and The Rothschilds… died at a hospital in Mount Kisco, NY. He was 81 years old. He died about ten days after Joseph Stein, who wrote the book to Fiddler, and a few weeks after Tom Bosley who played Fiorello. I feel like a whole age of musical theatre is passing away.

From the NY Times obituary:

Jerry Bock (left) and Sheldon Harnick in 1970

Jerrold Lewis Bock was born on Nov. 23, 1928, in New Haven, the only child of George Bock, a salesman, and the former Peggy Alpert. He grew up in Flushing, Queens, where he wrote his first musical, “My Dream,” while still in Flushing High School.

When he was a senior at the University of Wisconsin, he and a classmate, Larry Holofcener, wrote another musical, “Big as Life,” about Paul Bunyan. After graduation they both went to New York, where they were hired to write songs for “The Admiral Broadway Revue,” which evolved into “Your Show of Shows,” the popular vehicle for Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca.

In 1955 Mr. Bock and Mr. Holofcener contributed music and lyrics to the musical “Catch a Star,” which was a flop, before joining with George Weiss to write the score for “Mr. Wonderful.” Mr. Bock married Patricia Faggen in 1950. She survives him, along with their son, George; their daughter, Portia Bock; and a granddaughter.


Hey, I just got this video about YOU.

Seriously, you’re in it, so you really need to see it. Basically, the future of the free world is in your hands.  Go here:

– Bill

Oh P.S. Olivia Wilde is in it, too.

(and if it says view in Facebook it goes faster.)
BTW: This is the best political ad I’ve ever seen.

Bill 1 – Groundhog 0

OK… today I scored in the Groundhog Trapping game. Before I get all caught up with myself I have to admit that the creature was very, very small. I can’t believe that this is the beast who tunneled down next to our back foundation… nor did it seem big enough to have eaten all that cantaloupe that was outside the trap yesterday.

That must mean that this critter is a child and still has parents down in the hole. Elly recalls that when our tenant over in Hagerstown had a groundhog problem last year, he ended up trapping three of them (not, of course, at the same time.) So I’ve rebaited the trap and set it again and I’ll see if there’s a new animal caught tomorrow.

Before I did that, however, I had to deal with the little fella I caught. Putting the trap in the back of my new old Subaru, I drove about 5 miles from my house to the Opequon Creek Fishing and Wildlife Area, Federal land where wild beasts are welcome, and turned the groundhog loose. It ran off so fast that in a split second it had vanished. I hope it is happy there…I didn’t want to kill it and I didn’t want it to get near any other houses. When I catch the rest of his family they will go there, too.

So now the trap has fresh (albeit rotten) cantaloupe in it and the spring trigger is set. Now if I can just keep our smaller dog, Byron, away from the trap and the groundhog hole, I’ll feel much better.

Outwitted by a Groundhog…

I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but we have  a groundhog (at least one) living in our back garden with a hole right at the foundation of the house. Bummer. This isn’t good for the garden, of course, so we ordered a Havahart trap which I put out yesterday. The plan is to catch the groundhog, then put the trap in the back of my old new Subaru and drive it out into the woods (far enough away so it won’t find its way back), then release it in the woods. I don’t have to kill it, which satisfies my particular feelings, and it can have a lovely new life in nature.

However… the groundhog made me look stupid when I checked the trap this morning. It had eaten the bait trail right up to the trap’s open door, but did not enter the trap to get to the bait inside… just past the trigger mechanism. Double Bummer.

OK, I rebaited this morning, putting only a few pieces of delicious rotting melon (a favorite of groundhogs) outside the trap door, and put more pieces inside the trap leading up to the trigger mechanism with the bug feast on the far side. If this doesn’t work, I’ll have to change strategies.

Quote of Mystery – Where did this come from?

Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, left this message on Prof. Anita Hill‘s voice mail at Brandeis University:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.

This was, needless to say, out of the blue and a couple of decades after Hill’s testimony at Thomas’ confirmation hearing ( remember?… Hill said Thomas “repeatedly made inappropriate sexual comments in the workplace and described several in lurid detail.”) Thomas had then called Hill’s accusations a “high-tech lynching, but they were never disproved.

So why did Ginny Thomas (who makes a living as a far-right lobbyist for Liberty Central, attacking Obama and his administration as a leftist tyranny) drop this message? Well… the FBI wants to know.

More coming, you can be sure.

45 Shopping Days Until Zappadan

And while we wait, here are The Persuasions doing an a cappella version of Lumpy Gravy:

Waiting for the refrigerator man… Fighting Fruit Flies.

The repair guy from GE is coming this morning some time (they said between 8 and Noon and we’re well into that now) to look at our noisy freezer that’s dripping water into the refrigerator section below. I tried defrosting (which on a frost free machine is hard to do) and that didn’t solve the problem. I have a feeling that there is a fan part that needs to be replaced. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, it is raining out, so I’ll have to get wet walking the dogs. They don’t mind, of course, but I do. It’s cold as well (my back deck thermometer hasn’t hit 60° yet), so this is going to be an uncomfortable walk. Still, of course, without a car until tomorrow when we go down to Linda’s to pick it up. So I’m trapped in the house again today.

I have been battling with fruit flies for the last week or so… they pop up everywhere… drains, fruitbowl, cutting board area… and, since we don’t use any poison sprays, getting rid of them was a real problem. Until I did my research, of course, and discovered how to make “fruit fly traps” which have worked so well that you hardly see any of the little bastards around.

How does one make a fruit fly trap? Simple. Start with a good, widemouthed jar (we always have plenty of old Ball jars around which we use for canning) and put in about an inch or two of warm water with a squirt of dishwashing soap. Then add a shot of apple cider and a shot of red wine. Cover the top of the jar with a piece of Saran Wrap and use a rubber band to keep it tightly sealed at the neck of the jar. Now comes the tricky part… you have to punch a few very small holes through the plastic wrap… small enough for the fruit flies to get in but not so large that they can go right out again. I use a nut pick to punch the holes, but a fork could do it, too.

Then all you have to do is put the jar wherever the greatest number of the pests have been spotted. I made four jars and put them in various places in my kitchen. Now all you do is wait. In about an hour or so you will notice a distinct reduction in the bugs. The next day when you check the jars you will find they are full of little drowned fruit flies. Amazing!

I change the liquid and reseal the jars every few days and my fruit-flies are now nowhere to be found (on the first refill day there were much fewer of them caught in the traps, so we are succeeding quite well.)

I think I’ll post this bit about my fruit fly traps over at Panhandle Vegan… I know my friends over there could probably benefit from the strategy.

Looks like Oct. 30 will be a great Saturday to go to DC…

If you watched The Daily Show or the Colbert Report last night, you know why.

If you didn’t. check out the HuffPo article below:

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Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert will march together on Washington.

Or against each other in Washington.

Either way, expect plenty of Comedy Central fans to show up on October 30 when Stewart’s “Rally To Restore Sanity” will meet Colbert’s “March To Keep Fear Alive” in the nation’s capital.

The duo have been hinting at a major announcement for several episodes in a mock response to Glenn Beck’s own “Restoring Honor” rally that was held this year on the anniversary of a famous Martin Luther King speech at the same monument. There’s no indication that the announced get-together is a joke, though. Both comedians are telling their audiences to book hotel rooms now (though for different reasons, as you’ll see).

“It’ll be like being in a chat room,” Stewart explained. “But real.”

Stewart punctuated his announcement on the earlier program with a homemade-looking banner reading, “Take It Down A Notch For America.”
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Escaped Dog…

For the last hour and a half I have been attempting to get my younger dog, Byron, back into the house. He wriggled his way off his leash when we were coming back from a walk and now he’s running around the neighborhood.

Has this happened before? Yes… but we try to avoid it recurring since he gives us such trouble getting back into the house. Our other dog, Nestle, can be lured by dog biscuits or by opening the car door and saying “Let’s go bye-bye.” Byron likes to run in large circles… come back to the door and wait till you come out to get him, and then run away again with a big laugh on his Rottweiler Mix face.

So my final solution is to leave the front door open and c0me upstairs to the living room (2nd floor of our town house) and wait until he gets so thirsty he’ll come in for his water bowl. It always happens eventually. Meanwhile, I have to keep Nestle on his leash or he’ll run out the front door looking for Byron. The problem if Nestle, my old Lab Retriever (10+ years), forgets what he’s doing, wanders off and gets lost. I have to drive for blocks to find him, and then he’s happy to jump in the car. Byron never likes to hang out with Nestle if they both run off… something you think my older dog would remember… but he doesn’t. Nestle stays by the window, at the end of the leash, and watches for the escapee.


Wonder of wonders! as I write this Byron has tiptoed up the stairs and is heading for his water bowl… excuse me while I run downstairs and close the front door.


OK, we’re all back where we should be. Byron is exhausted from close to two hours of running around the neighborhood. Nestle seems content to have him home again and has curled up and gone to sleep.

Dogs! The children of our old age!

Working Morning

I’m getting ready to meet Candi from the American Conservation Film Festival for coffee at Mellow Moods at 10:00. We’re going over the stuff I’m filling in on their website database for people looking up the 30 or so films (features and shorts) that are now scheduled.

Once everything is up and running, I’ll direct my readers to the site… this is a film festival that Elly and I have been going to for several years now and we always enjoy it (and learn from it.)

One of the films I’m looking forward to is “Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist”:

Seen through the eyes of activist Peter Jay Brown (“Whale Wars) Confessions offers an intimate look at shipboard life amongst members of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. These self-proclaimed animal saviors and sea rebels immerse themselves in action-packed conflict including ramming illegal fishing vessels, sinking pirate whalers, and arguing amongst themselves over a vegetarian vs. vegan diet.

I’ve got to pack up and get out of here… more later.

It looks like I have Aphasia…

What a miserable day today has been.

First, I had my quarterly doctor‘s appointment with Dr. Kugler over in Hagerstown, MD, and brought up, as I have just about every time I have been to see him in the past few years, that I have these small periods (usually not more than a couple of minutes) where I lose control of language when I’m speaking. These “seizures” as he calls them do not effect intelligence or physical presence… I just babble incoherently for a couple of minutes until I become aware of the meaning of words again. It is one of the reasons I am glad not to be working as a teacher or sales professional any more… it HAS happened during a class and when I was doing an Insurance presentation to a client back in my Aflac days.

Anyway, now I am apparently blacking out for a couple of seconds on some of these seizures and waking up without remembering what has happened. I’m not rolling around on the ground or anything like that… I just don’t remember what happens at the time.

Dr. Kugler sums all of this up as Aphasia. According to the National Aphasia Association, the definition of this condition is:

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that
impairs a person’s ability to process language,
but does not affect intelligence.
Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and
most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing.

It also seems to be caused by either a stroke, a brain injury or a developing brain tumor. I don’t think I have had the first two, and a worry about the third. Over the next two weeks I have three different tests with specialists… a neurologist, a heart person and someone else, that Kugler’s office set up. I’m not excited about this, because…

Second, as I came out of Kugler’s office and started up my 2001 Toyota Echo (which has been a very reliable car) the engine started to overheat (a signal light popped up on the dashboard) and, as I went to the grocery store, it stalled out. I let it cool off a while, went to the gas station at the Grocery complex, filled the tank, checked the oil and saw it was low… added three quarts.

I started up again, but as I was going near my daughter Penny’s house in Martinsburg it started to smoke from the front and stalled out. I let it cool for a while, then slowly drove to Penny’s driveway where the car died. She had a bottle of coolant which we put into the coolant holder. Still couldn’t get it to start up… so I called Triple A.

After an hour when Triple A still hadn’t arrived, the car had cooled off enough to start up again and I managed to get it home, where it died again. I have an appointment at Brown’s tomorrow morning to find out what’s wrong. It may be the thermostat, or a coolant leak, or something else.  Whatever it is it will be an expense we didn’t predict this month and I’m dreading it.

So, as you see, it’s been a lousy day so far. I hope yours was better.

– B

At the Breaking of the Fifth Seal… an Atheist’s view of Revelation…

Behold… the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

A red horse brings war (isn’t it amazing that we now equate Republicans with the color Red… what we used to use to describe the far left Commies of the forties and fifties?)

A black horse brings famine (as the fields dry out from global warming we see food supplies shrinking… and as more chemicals are sprayed on plants we turn food into evil.)

A green horse brings death (green as the money that the top 2% of society increases their accumulation of as we fail to restore the taxes which they no longer have to pay.)

A white horse brings Satan’s warrior (with white hair…or silver… like Newt Gingrich ready to move Muslims away from Ground Zero by putting the area under the control of the National Parks Service…)

See why I feel much better not believing this crap? I don’t need a religious mystery to account for all the evil that is being brought on us by people who have decided, as the entire Republican Congress has, not to work with the President and to oppose EVERYTHING… even things they have consistently supported in the past. By taking this chance, they will regain control of Congress and once again take us into oblivion.

But don’t you think that when they take control of Congress that the Democrats will have learned nothing from their two years of negativity? Do you think the Democrats will show them how it should be done by WORKING WITH THEM?

I wouldn’t count on it.

If I wanted to know what a definition of Hell was at this point, it would be the entirely stupid government of the United States which takes the best possible democracy and turns it into an oligarchy of the Boehner/McConnell (which used to be called the antichrist.)


I saw a Praying Mantis in the garden yesterday as I watered…

…a change from the stinkbugs, bees and grasshoppers that I’ve been seeing. Is it mating time?

Perhaps Isabella Rosselini can give us some insight:

Love it!

And now for the last post of the evening…My Wife Knows Everything vs. The Wife Doesn’t Know…

…perhaps you saw this on a news program. It’s from a race last Sunday at Monmouth Park:

… and, of course, MY wife knows everything, too. And she always wins!

Photoplankton declining due to Global Warming…

Which means so is Oxygen and Seafood… here is part of an article in Nature… I recommend you go in and read it all.

Cross Posted in Under The LobsterScope and Panhandle Vegan.

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Ocean greenery under warming stress

Marine phytoplankton — the vast range of tiny algae species accounting for roughly half of Earth’s total photosynthetic biomass — have declined substantially in the world’s oceans over the past century, researchers report in Nature1 this week. The findings add to concerns that climate change is dangerously altering marine ecosystems.

Phytoplankton are the basis of the entire marine food chain, and have an important role in the global carbon cycle. Through photosynthesis, they produce around half of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere and drive the ‘biological pump’ that fixes 100 million tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide a day into organic material, which then sinks to the ocean floor when the phytoplankton die, or are grazed and digested.

Since 1950 alone, algal biomass decreased by around 40%, probably in response to ocean warming — and the decline has gathered pace in recent years.
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