Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Truckin'

Did cool toys like this exist when we were kids?


Bodie's (nephew) Birthday, 10.18.08

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What is that Funk!?

Man, this is like greasy fish sammich in a brown paper bag Funk. 5 day old pot of collard greens in the back of the fridge Funk. Did I say this was Funk?
My favorite comment, from lildawwg. That's a compliment, by the way.

I challenge you to NOT bob your head to this. Funk it up. Good Gawd.

The Annual Most Worthless News Item Day

If there's a handful of days you can count on local television newscasts to milk for a pointless, lame story every year, you'd have: Groundhog Day, the day the polar bear at the zoo gets a new ball to play with, and April 15th. If there's anything more worthless to cover for news, and lots of times the ever-coveted live shot, it's a TV news reporter interviewing late tax filers at the post office.

Douchy Reporter: "Hi, Sir, what's your name?"

Citizen: "Uh, I'm Mike."

Douchy Reporter: "And Mike, why are you filing your taxes so late?"

Citizen: "Uh, because I can."

Douchy Reporter: "Oookay, thank you. Well, John and Sue, as you can see, it's a hostile, stand-offish crowd here, very tense as last-minute tax filers manually place their envelopes, one by one....Bob, can you get a shot of that......right....yeah, right there......as they place their envelopes in this blue rectangular steel container right over there.

What will happen next is at Midnight, a postal worker, presumably a middle-aged female of large build, will gather these envelopes, and place them into a receptacle of some sort, we're not entirely sure what that receptacle will look like at this time. It then gets wheeled into this large stone structure you see here with a pronounced chimney on top of it.....Bob I don't know if you could get a shot of that....yeah.... we can only assume that there's some sort of furnace or incineration device in there.

Then, small pixies, perhaps up to 40 or 50 we've been told, will then take these envelopes and place small codes and bars on them, apparently encryptions that only the IRS can decipher. This is done with a dusting of glitter of some sort. Amazing stuff, apparently. They then will be transported instantaneously via a portal device, to the IRS, is what I'm being told. The entire process, once the envelopes are inside, John and Sue, it all takes roughly 7 seconds. Fascinating story unfolding here, as it does every year, John and Sue. Back to you."


Here's one example from yesterday. They opted not to to the live shot (presumably to keep the news crew out of harm's way), but you can cleary see the pandemonium that was unfolding at this particular Sioux Falls, SD post office. Oh, the humanity....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tales of Douchebaggery

Perpetuating the stereotype of bloggers in a coffeehouse. I've temporarily become what I hate. Help me, Tom Cruise.

First Chase of the Year: SC Nebraska 4.4.09

Photo Courtesy Dick McGowan

Since I didn't come to the Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium on April 4th armed with anything but a notebook and a pen, I really wasn't thinking about doing any storm chasing that particular Saturday afternoon. I was just wanting to see a presentation I had heard before from Mike Umscheid about weather photography, and then pick up a copy of the Storms of 2008 DVD, and be on my way. So it was good to run into Darin Brunin, who I hadn't seen in a few years. He and Dick McGowan were selling the charity DVD, and had their eye on the afternoon for a potential chase set-up for low-topped supercells in south central Nebraska. What the hell..... I couldn't pass up the opportunity to learn a few things about cold-core setups from a couple of chasers whom I have a lot of respect for.

Here's a direct link to Dick's summary of the day, with pictures (including the one above!), since I was completely flying blind, and they were nice enough to let me tailgate for an afternoon....something they don't do for very many people very often. Most appreciated, fellas.

NOTE: Since the severe weather season is upon us, and I tend to have this....thing....about tornadoes & what-nots, I'll be dedicating some time to the subject for the readership who may not have quite the fetish I do about such phenomena. There's plenty of blogs and sites out there for hardcore chasers to talk about hardcore forecasting, data, setups, and all that stuff. That kind of online weather geek pr0nography appeals to me....but certainly not all of you. So I'll do my best to dumb it down and keep it light & airy, and lace it with heavy doses of self-deprecating humor about just how "out there" this world of storm chasing actually is. I may piss off the die-hards in the process, but there's not many of them who are looking at this site anyway, and they're not really my audience in the first place. Besides, if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

I'm rambling.....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two Tickets to the Gun Show

Having grown up in small town Iowa, I should know more about guns than I do. Maybe that's just a stereotypical assumption about growing up in the country. I probably have more friends that hunt than those that don't. My dad wasn't much of a hunter, and I know my grandfater wasn't, either. Dad took my brother out a couple times to hunt pheasants, but with little to show for it. I think my brother learned more about firepower (real and homemade) from his Grandpa Bartu, a gruff, loud scrap iron peddaler/farmer of Czech heritage, on his acreage just outside of Crete, NE. This was where my brother's prized "Goose Gun" was fabricated out of Falstaff, Hamms, and Schaffer steel beer cans, duct tape, and some lighter fluid.

So it went that while we did have a couple of shotguns in the house, I never really did much more than shoot the occasional squirrel around the farm with an old, refurbished .22 rifle. One particular two-day killing spree netted 4 squirrels. I assumed that Granny Ocle would find this successful haul rewarding, and surely she would know how to prepare and cook the tasty varmints. Granny Ocle was refered to by some family members as "The Weasel" for her propensity to enjoy the bonier, gamier cuts of meat, such as the neck of a fried chicken, the chicken heart, gizzards, and, yes, her prophesed enjoyment of a well-prepared squirrel. Problem was, when it came to squirrels, she didn't really enjoy the preparation. Thus, the 4 squirrels' deaths were for nothing more than a young boy's brief & fleeting interest in small firearms. I don't think I've shot anything living since, at least nothing that I actually hit.

Recently we were in Clarinda, IA at my in-laws, doing the family thing for the weekend. My brother-in-law heard about a gun show that was taking place on that Saturday at the county fairgrounds. So in planning out our strenuous day of grilling, playing with the kids, shooting skeet (or Blue Rock, as it's called in these here parts) with some cousins, and enjoying a cigar or two, he thought it would be good to check out the show. Sounded good to me, I told him, with a hint of trepedation. Initially, I was not looking forward to the visit. It's just not something that's a hobby or interest of mine. At all. But over the course of the morning, I began to think about the gun show in a different light. Think of it like going to the State Fair, I told myself. I began to look forward to the potential people-watching aspects of attending my very first Southwest Iowa gun show. I am an admitted dirt track racing fan, although I don't wear the costume of an obnoxious racing t-shirt and a pair of Wranglers with a chew can ring in the back pocket. So how far off could a gun show crowd be?

Let's just say there were a lot of Bush/McCain votes in the hall this particular day. It was a bit of a mixed bag of a crowd. Of course, you had your overall-wearing farmer crowd, who were mainly there for sporting shotguns, maybe a high-caliber rifle, still for sport. Then you had the crowd who felt compelled to wear their camouflage. I suppose since it's customary to wear the colors of your favorite team to a sporting event, it's the same to wear your favorite camo brand to a gun show. There was the obligatory Rebel flag displayed at one booth, but I'm sure other booths were envious. Fathers brought their young sons, passing on their appreciation to the next generation. That seemed okay to me. Sleeveless shirts and dirty hats. Men trading stories of how their handguns had been stolen out of their trucks. An older man, the innocent-looking grandfather, brandishing an AR-15 assault rifle. Where does he work again?

Boxes of old handgun pieces were particulary curious to me. I commented to my Brother-in Law, "Hey, how many missing murder weapons are in here? Some poor bastard is probably sitting in a cell right now waiting for someone to find the evidence that will overturn his sentence. Hey, here it is!" There was a foul, pungent stench in the smaller show area, a fragrance derived from collective poor hygeine from some of the show-goers. It was an odor I remember a couple of kids in elementary school having, growing up poor, maybe not knowing any better. It bothered me then. That flashback made the whole vibe of the show a bit troubling; the sociology of it.

I suppose of all of the interesting faces at the gun show, I may have been the one that stood out to some. I seemed to be the only person who was taking the occasional picture. No flash, of course. That would be rude. I'm guessing there's either an unwritten rule about picutre-taking at a gun show, or it may have been clearly posted at the front entrance, right next to the huge raffle for a $1700 shotgun. Missed that. I was taking a picture of one particularly menacing assault rifle, although certainly not the most troubling weapon there, presumably used to shoo the occasional stray cat off the back porch. A woman behind the table asked me, "What's the picture for?" I told her the truth. It was my very first gun show. "It's like I'm on a vacation," I said. She sheepishly chuckled with an older woman who was there with her, maybe nervous at my too-inquisitive pocket camera. I got the message. Fair enough, I had seen what I had come to see.

I was hoping for some overriding theme to be taken away from the event. Maybe something of a good lesson to be learned that I didn't already have preconceived. But, truth be told, it was everything I thought it would be an, sadly, more. I'll leave the political discussions for another time & place, only to say that it would take a pretty damn convincing argument for me to not get behind some type of assault weapons ban. While I saw more guns for pure sport, I saw far too many guns for the sole purpose of taking human lives. There's protection, and then there's 10 rounds per second.

At least I can say that I've been.