Wednesday, December 31, 2008

This is ironic

So far, I haven't been able to find a map to Rand McNally's corporate headquarters anywhere on their website.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A really inspirational story

I thought that you might like to read this story about a 61-year-old Australian farmer who won the world's toughest endurance race - 875 kilometers from Sydney to Melbourne all in one go! I'm sure his story has been used in 10,000 sermon illustrations relating to Hebrews 12:1-3, where the writer says:
1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (NASB)

My thanks to J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly for posting the link. This really made my day.

The Legend of Cliff Young: The 61 Year Old Farmer Who Won the World’s Toughest Race

Monday, December 29, 2008

Simple joys #48

When someone receives a few Christmas cards, then decides that those and any future cards will be displayed on their office door in the shape of a Christmas tree, but subsequently never gets enough cards to properly form the tree shape, ending up with a ridiculous looking, lopsided triangle.

Maybe I shouldn't think that's funny, but I do.

Why I am blessed to be alive

Thirty years ago yesterday, a plane crashed less than a mile away from my house. It was no small plane, either - this was a McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61, operated by United Airlines. When it hit the earth, in the middle of a large suburban area, it amazingly hit only two houses - neither of which had anybody home at the time. If the fuel-less descent toward the crash site had been just a few degrees off, I would not be here to blog about it. So, thank God for His protection, nearly ten years before I even gave my life to Him.

Here are some links to articles about the crash that almost killed me.

United Airlines Flight 173 (Wikipedia article)

Accident description at Aviation Safety Network

Official NTSB report, with transcript of flight recorder (PDF, 2.74 MB)

Survivor recalls deadly 1978 Portland plane crash (Seattle Times - AP)

(Same AP story as above, on KATU.com with video)

1978 Portland plane crash (many crash scene photos) (Matt Camp Dot Com)

United Airlines Flight 173, Portland, OR (Waymarking.com)

DC-8 Runs Out of Fuel & Crashes Near Portland (Super70s.com)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Speaking of bacon...

My cousin Nicole has a link to this site on her blog. It's for a product called Baconnaise, which probably sounds oh-so-delicious to some and blecchhh-disgusting to others. I'm only blogging it today because I think their slogan is hilarious:

Baconnaise
Everything should taste like bacon.


By the way, they also have another product called Bacon Salt, which is even more absurd and awesome than Baconnaise, and there's even a blog to go along with it. Yes, it's called The Official Bacon Salt Blog. Yes, bacon is all they talk about. Yes, the description is, "The never-ending quest to make everything taste like bacon." Yes, it is so awesome I want to cry.

Even more awesome is the Baconized Bacon Salt Blog.

Update: I have learned that that there's no actual bacon in the Baconnaise and Bacon Salt products. And the salt is low sodium! So hey, vegetarians, go nuts!

2 Talked Back:

At December 27, 2008 at 5:16:00 PM CST, Blogger Matt and Lori Graber said...

Your "bacon vision" is hilarious! We swear we can smell the bacon from our screen!

 

At December 30, 2008 at 2:24:00 PM CST, Blogger Nicole said...

Haha...thanks for the blog link! :) I thought Bacon Salt was the most hilarious thing ever created, so I had to link to it!

 

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I promise I'm not bored

Here's a little exercise I found interesting, because I'm nerdy that way. When you do a search from Google's main page (or the iGoogle page), Google will drop down a list of suggestions that narrows as you enter more letters into the field:


I really haven't figured out why certain words make it to the top of the list, especially since there are words further down that have more results. Perhaps it's just the popularity of the search term itself that promotes it. Regardless, I thought it would be fun to see what words come up to the top for each letter in the alphabet and numerical digit, and maybe some punctuation marks as well:
  • A - amazon
  • B - best buy
  • C - craigslist
  • D - dictionary
  • E - ebay
  • F - facebook
  • G - google
  • H - hotmail
  • I - imdb
  • J - jcpenney
  • K - kohls
  • L - lowes
  • M - myspace
  • N - netflix
  • O - orkut
  • P - photobucket
  • Q - quotes
  • R - runescape
  • S - sears
  • T - target
  • U - utube
  • V - verizon wireless
  • W - walmart
  • X - xbox 360
  • Y - youtube
  • Z - zappos
  • 0 - 007
  • 1 - 123 greetings
  • 2 - 2012
  • 3 - 30 rock
  • 4 - 411
  • 5 - 50 cent
  • 6 - 60 minutes
  • 7 - 7zip
  • 8 - 808's and heartbreak
  • 9 - 90210
  • period - .com
  • ampersand - &nbsp
  • at symbol - @home
  • underscore - _server

Most of these are not surprising, as they are the names of major retailers, social network or search engines. The letter R was unexpected, as I would have thought that something like ringtones, rotten tomatoes, recipes, rhapsody or even r2d2 might have shown up first. Evidently, Runescape is that popular.

Most punctuation marks like ? and * didn't generate any dropdown at all, probably because Google uses them as search tools.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Who wants bacon?

I just ran across this hilarious and nonsensical little site that will apply a large slice of bacon to any website you choose.

All you do is put http://bacolicio.us/ in front of any URL in the address bar, and you end up with oddly hilarious results. It's especially fun to put bacon in completely irrelevant, irreverent and/or inappropriate places, such as:

Susan G. Komen Foundation
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
The United Way
Charlotte's Web IMDb page
PETA
Officer.com
Government of Canada (will not convert to image of Canadian bacon)
Wikipedia page for Muslim

Have some bacolicious fun!

A kid's Christmas joke

Here's a joke I made up yesterday that you can pass along to your favorite Santa-believing child:

Q: What is Santa Claus made of?

A. Jollecules.

I'm reasonably certain that I am the only person who has come up with this joke, and I base that upon the fact that Google searches for "jollecule", "jollicule" and "jollycule" return zero English results. (Except one, which is a false-positive from Google Book Search - it thinks that "follicule" is "jollicule" because of a faded 1897 typeface.)

Of course, a reason why the joke may not work is because I don't know if little kids really know about molecules.

Simple joys #192

That I have been able to get this far into December without hearing "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer". I may make it all the way this year!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Simple joys #70

When something that would normally be italicized, like a book title, gets reverse-italicized in order to write it in an italicized sentence:

Normal sentence - "I was thinking about reading James Joyce's Ulysses, but the pages smelled like old cheese."

Italicized sentence - "Not long after boarding the Titanic, I got this sinking feeling in my stomach. And it wasn't from old cheese."

Let's compare, shall we?

This is what the Freshside Grille - Grilled Pacific Salmon Meal from Long John Silver's is supposed to look like:


Photo: YUM! Brands


And this is the way it came:


Photo: Yours Truly


Not exactly a perfect match, is it?

By the way, there was enough salt in the vegetables that Christopher Columbus could pack meat in them for that long voyage across the Atlantic. Also, notice the darkish brown stripe down the center of the salmon filet on the left. It runs about 1/4-inch deep and is a nearly perfect straight line. There's no telling what sort of mystery machine caused that one. And hey, what happened to my lemon wedge?

On the plus side, I got a free corn stick. Score.

If you need me, I'll be in the bathroom for the rest of the day.

3 Talked Back:

At December 19, 2008 at 3:55:00 PM CST, Blogger Nicole said...

How do they get the stick in the corn? I mean, that looks like the paper stick they use in suckers, and corn cobs are not soft when hot like candy.

I think there is some corn cob trickery going on here.

 

At December 19, 2008 at 4:00:00 PM CST, Blogger stan said...

Corn Cob Trickery would be a sweet band name.

 

At December 21, 2008 at 2:11:00 PM CST, Blogger Matt and Lori Graber said...

"Fresh side grill"... if that's the "fresh side"...I'm afraid for the "unfresh" alternative. Add to this meal the gianormous Wendy's ice cube cokes and you've got a real depression meal. LOL

 

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Simple joys #255

Getting the foil lid off of the yogurt container in one piece.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The last 366 Days of Creativity post this year, I promise

So obviously, 366 Days of Creativity didn't make it to 366 days. It didn't even reach half that number. I will not be winning any sort of persistence or commitment awards for my failure to draw something every day of 2008.

But I have learned a thing or two. One, as I fell into the habit of making a panel cartoon as my daily effort, I began to start looking for situations that could be made funnier, then figuring out how best to condense them into one frozen moment in time. Second, I started getting better at shading in the third dimension, which was something I hadn't really done at all in any of my previous Photoshop-drawn comic art. So I do think that even if I wasn't able to complete a drawing every day this year, I still consider the experiment a modest success.

Well, here's what happened. The drawing bug has bitten me again. Even with the easy distraction of Nintendo 64 games, to which I have paid quite a bit of attention as of late, I still have been able to spend a little bit of time putting ink on paper. I've really just been doodling in the sketch books for now, but I still have some ideas from earlier this year that I started and never finished.

And this brings me to a point of decision. Should I endeavor to do something for 2009 like I did for 2008? Maybe not a drawing a day, but something that keeps me at the drawing table (dining room table) more regularly. I do have a new idea for next year, one that many other people have used successfully for all sorts of pursuits, but I am still unsure if I'm going to be able to put into practice.

The idea is to wake up a set amount of time - say, 30 minutes - before normal every weekday, walk out to the table, and draw until the time I usually get up, which is about 6:45 a.m. This is a time of day that I am consistently doing nothing else (except for sleeping), so there wouldn't be anything else that would take priority over this regular drawing time. On weekends, the drawing time would be allotted wherever I feel like I want to fit it in; Saturday is a good sleep-in day, and Nicole and I are often doing other things on weekends that wouldn't allow time to draw. So, no pressure.

If I commit to draw for a period of time rather than create a certain number of pieces, that will relieve a lot of the pressure that I was putting upon myself this year. 366 Days started to become more about getting the thing done rather than trying to improve my craft, and it sucked after a while. But if I had an idea for a larger project, and I worked on it a little bit every morning, I wouldn't feel so bad if I skipped a day.

And, of course, whenever I've finished something, I'll try to remember to scan it and post it. At least, I'll try - if I have a project that's too big for the scanner, I'll have to figure something else out.

Oh, and one more thing, I'm not going to be cataloguing every drawing like I did this year. I had the notion that if the single-panel comic idea took off and became something I could eventually sell, I thought that organizing them into a basic inventory might be helpful at some point. But what happened was that part of the reason for giving up the drawing-a-day was that I dreaded updating the spreadsheet. So, in 2009 and beyond, there will be no more drawing inventory. I'm drawing for me, not for Benjamin Franklin.

So what do you think? Or, more realistically, how many days do you think I'll last this time?

1 Talked Back:

At December 17, 2008 at 5:57:00 PM CST, Blogger Matt and Lori Graber said...

Good idea, modified into a more enjoyable format. With no pressure to produce a finished project each day. Looking forward to 2009 !

 

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Silent Night"...with a twist

Here's a version of "Silent Night" that really explores some beautiful harmonies, even if it doesn't follow the traditional chords or notes:


Silent Night - Priscilla Ahn

Update: I apologize if this song didn't embed correctly. I have tried everything I know to get it to work, but it is imperfect. Try clicking the link below the player - although imeem may need you to register in order to listen, in which case I'm sorry about all of the hassle. It really is a beautiful song, though!

And as a point of reference, if anyone watched "The Office" last Thursday, when the promo for "ER" came on during the credits, this was the song that played.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The physics of a kindergarten rhyme

It may have been as early as kindergarten when I learned this little poem:

Little rabbit in the woods
Little man by the window stood,
Saw a rabbit hopping by
Knocking at his door
"Help me, Help me, Help me," he said,
"For the hunter will shoot me dead!"
"Come little rabbit, come inside
Safely to abide."


I say poem, not song, because it was never taught to me as a song. Perhaps the teacher didn't know the tune or was not comfortable singing. Also, I learned the last line as, "Safely you will hide," which really makes no difference to the message of the poem.

This morning, that little ditty came up in conversation with Nicole. After sharing the differences between her version and mine (which I just did one paragraph ago - come on, reader, weren't you paying attention?!), I began to think about the implausibility of the rhyme's timeline. I mean, aside from the fact that the rabbit could talk.

Think about this: A little man in a little cabin sees a rabbit hopping by his window. The rhyme's wording, though, implies that the rabbit is simultaneously knocking on his door. How can this be? Is he hopping by, or is he knocking on the door? Can a rabbit do both?

It looks like there are several possibilities here:

1) The rabbit is knocking on the door from a distance.

Since rabbits need four paws upon which to hop, one can assume that he would knock on the door with his ears, or some sort of device that is held by his ears. This would require very strong ears, and an extremely long device which would allow the rabbit to knock on the door while he is hopping by the window.

2) The window is part of the front door.

The rhyme does not specify where the window is (that the little man looked through to see the rabbit). Most people would assume that it is a front window, which would probably be within a couple of yards away fromt he front door - or fewer, considering that this is a little cabin in the woods, and not a standard residential house. But consider this: What if the window was a part of the front door itself? Obviously, it would have to be low enough for a standing little man to be able to see through. Would this satisfy the physical requirements for the rabbit's simultaneous actions (hopping by window, knocking on door)? I submit a tentative yes, in this scenario: The rabbit is at the front door, hopping side to side, and knocking on the door with his ears (see #1). But! I said tentative because the rhyme may not support this, and here's why: If the rabbit was knocking on (at) the door while hopping around, wouldn't the rhyme's words be, "Little rabbit in the woods, little man by the front door stood?" The text itself seems to discredit this, which is why I submit my final theory:

3) The rabbit is actually hopping on top of the front door...

...which was, for some reason, detached from the cabin and lain in front of the window before the rabbit ever came. The act of hopping is a repetitive impact on the surface upon which the hopper is...um...hopping, and could, in a court of law, constitute "knocking" if the hopper's appendages, paws in this case, are hard enough to make a rapping sound. Now, while most rabbits who hop are doing so without any sort of hard shoes on their paws, keep in mind that this was a talking rabbit; therefore he has been educated at least to the point of being able to interact with little men. One could postulate that if a creature has been educated enough to talk, he has been taught the benefits of wearing sensible shoes, especially while traversing an unpredictable surface like a forest floor. And when the rabbit came upon the scene, his hopping by would have made a knocking sound on (at) the front door that was laying on the ground in front of the window.

So, if theory number three is the most plausible, then this is the timeline: At some point before the scene, the front door of the little cabin in the woods has been removed for reasons unknown. Then, a shod (and, I like to think, bespectacled) rabbit, who is fleeing a merciless hunter, comes upon the scene, and, noticing the door on the ground, hops upon it in an effort to get the little man's attention. The man sees the plight of the rabbit and hears his cry. He invites the rabbit in to his cabin, where he will safely abide (or hide).

Of course, since the front door is laying on the ground and not attached to the cabin like it should be, the hunter will probably just barge in and start shooting.

Oh, well. Who's hungry for fricassee?

1 Talked Back:

At December 16, 2008 at 8:12:00 PM CST, Blogger Nicole said...

Haha...seems like you've got time on your hands...

 

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Friday, December 12, 2008

At least they have an escape plan

Check out this Manhattan rooftop art installation by the late Rudolph de Harak:


photo by Philip J. Hollenback,
ripped off from BoingBoing


This is a replica World War I Sopwith Camel, complete with runway, built on top of the 77 Water building in 1969. But now, with Google Maps and their aerial photos, the whole world can see this fun sculpture.

Maybe there's just a lot of weddings this month

Every website that I've looked at about Pachelbel's Canon, otherwise known as Canon in D, makes no mention whatsoever about it being any sort of Christmas song. Often times, people do play it at weddings, but I really don't know of anyone playing it at a Christmas church service.

This does not stop the local "lite rock" station*, which has switched to an all-Christmas format (because nobody else will), from playing the song about every hour and a half.**


*For the record, I do not choose to listen to this station. It is forced upon me by being on radios in the background at work.

**Also, I should mention that I really do like the song, and that I actually don't mind when I hear it. My favorite version was arranged for a cappella singing. But I just don't think it's a Christmas song.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I want this in my house!

Ever wanted to feel like the Jolly Green Giant?


flying carpet, Seyed Alavi, 2005


This is a carpet that was sewn to look exactly like an aerial photo of a landscape. In this case, it was a section of the Sacramento River. But what about the forests near Mt. Hood, or the autumn colors in the Great Smoky Mountains? How awesome would that be?


The artist who created this work is named Seyed Alavi. Here is a link to the "flying carpet" page. Check out some of Alavi's other installations while you're there. Pretty interesting stuff.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why I haven't yet added you on Facebook

It's not that I don't want to add you, it's just that, especially if I haven't seen or talked to you since high school, I'm really kind of daunted by the prospect of writing my whole life story for the last 20 years. How did I end up in southwest Missouri? What have I been doing with my life? How did I meet your wife? What kind of job do I have? Why am I in college now when the rest of you wrapped it up in 1994?

Hey, I think Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends, especially now that I am married and nobody will think that I'm so desperate to find a date that I'll mine my personal history to find anyone—I mean, hello, isn't that what 95% of Classmates.com users are doing?—even though I never needed to do that myself. I have been able to reconnect with people I had almost completely forgotten about, as well as those whom with I shared a season of friendship at one time. And I am behind on recapping my last few years with a couple of old friends, one of whom I just gave this blog's URL as a temporary update. I will write to you soon.

But there are still quite a few faces I've seen for whom I haven't yet clicked the Add Friend button. And I will someday, perhaps. maybe what I'll do is write a kind of standardized history of me, a few paragraphs that I can tweak depending on how long it's been since I've seen you. When I do that, I'll start clicking again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What's wrong with this picture?


Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto


No, it isn't the ridiculous steel and glass structure growing out of the building like some sort of modern architectural tumor, it's this:


The street is named Avenue Road. Really? Could they not come up with a name for it? I've got it: Eyesore Museum Road.

Those wacky Torontonians.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Spreading some Christmas cheer

Here in the office, our department is sending Christmas cards to people in the armed services overseas. I just signed about a dozen cards in a row, and frankly, I wish I could have done more with each card. Basically, the cards that we used were ones left over from the boxed multi packs of Christmas cards that we weren't going to give to our own families. Nearly all of the cards are the average, milquetoast, garden variety "Happy Holidays" type of card. There were a couple of more Biblical cards, with wise men and Scripture verses and the like. What I would have loved to see was some funny cards, or just more whimsical cards. Then we wouldn't feel so obligated to write such a serious note in there to our men and women in the trenches. After all, they see serious 24/7/365...why not a little levity?

I did what I could to be funny without raising the (potential) ire of my coworkers who hadn't yet signed the cards. Isn't it funny how the people who are giving the cards would be more offended at a little ridiculousness than the actual recipient of the cards? Anyway, there was one card that had a couple of black terriers on the front of it. What they have to do with Christmas, I don't know. So inside the card, I said, "Thanks for your sacrificial service. Come home soon—those black dogs on the front miss you." There was another card that had a sprinkling of glitter on the front. My message: "Thank you for all that you do. Sorry about all the glitter all over your hands." (Of course, I myself had glitter all over my hands after I wrote that.)

In this holiday season, and yes I said holiday, not Christmas, because I am including Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, there are a lot of our soldiers all the way on the other side of the planet from their families and friends at home. They miss it here, and they miss all of the things that make this country great, those things that they are over there fighting to protect. We've done pretty good about supporting our troops (this time), but I know that there's more that we can do.

We got an e-mail this morning that has a list of items that our men and women are in dire need of, and some things that they really wish they had. Here's what they say:
…it seems that the below items for care packages would be a blessing. Most items are extremely short … if they have them at all. These items are very hard to get…. The shelves are empty most of the time and when a shipment comes in, they are wiped out pretty fast. Some are wish-list items....

Shampoo
Q-Tips
Baby wipes
Soap bars & liquid
Chapstick
Deodorant
Hand lotion
AT&T Phone cards
60 watt light bulbs
Power strips
Charms blow pops
Short cheap extension cords
AA & AAA batteries
Mouse traps
Chocolate
Socks (white & green cotton)
Homemade cookies
DVDs
Rolls of Charmin
Multi-vitamins
I would probably add handheld video games and decks of cards to that list. And High School Musical 3 napkin holders. (Only joking.) The e-mail said that it takes two weeks to ship these items overseas. So, to get things in the hands of our soldiers by Christmas, things should be sent out by next week.

Here's a few links organizations whose mission is to send mail and care packages to soldiers:

Any Soldier
Treats for Troops
Operation Shoebox
America Supports You

Or, just do a Google search for "send care packages to troops" to find more.

God bless our troops. May they come home soon—those little black dogs miss them.

2 Talked Back:

At December 2, 2008 at 8:27:00 PM CST, Blogger Amber said...

So, I know I am a random stranger who is hijacking your blog...but I did want to add something to your post. My cousin, who is in the Navy, cautioned me that EVERYTHING edible that is shipped with any kind of soap ends up tasting like soap. Kind of a let down to see chocolate chip cookies and taste Dial. So, I would send the shampoo, q tips, soap, charmin and wipes in one box and the cookies, chocolate and lollipops in another.

P.S. You don't know me, but I come here alot because I think your random insights are hysterical. I figure you won't mind much since you put it out in here for anyone to find. And online connections seem to have worked out very well for you in the past, what with your wife and all.

 

At December 9, 2008 at 9:57:00 PM CST, Blogger Matt and Lori Graber said...

You put a smile on my face, today...Thanks!

 

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Talk about having too much time and money on your hands

Here's an event for people who clearly have nothing else to do:


Image probably Copyright © Disney,
found here


I mean seriously, you're getting together with other people from across the country, maybe around the world, to do nothing but trade Disney-themed pins back and forth with each other? How useless* an endeavor is this? What kind of a strange person would spend his or her hard-earned money to travel to Epcot Center for a weekend and then spend the whole time trading pins?! I mean, you're in Epcot Center, for goodness sake!

Here's a question—how would you like to have been the designer who was hired to create this logo? Sure, the money was probably good, but wouldn't ithave been more than a little bit disappointing? "Sweet, I get to design a Disney logo! Oh...that's what it's for. Meh."

*To qualify the above opinion, I will disclose that I was once someone who used to collect business cards, with heavy emphasis on used to, and I realized how strange it was, immediately after a less-than-favorable article about me was published in the Oregonian.

2 Talked Back:

At December 2, 2008 at 12:49:00 PM CST, Blogger Emily said...

the way people are addicted to these pins is scary. When we were at Disney this summer, it was borderline crazy!

 

At December 2, 2008 at 1:33:00 PM CST, Blogger stan said...

This must be what people refer to when they talk about the underground economy.

 

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