Monday, May 29, 2006

Where is my mind?

whoohooo. whoohooo. whoohooo. whoohooo.

There's just something about Kim Deal's voice that makes me want to cry and smile all at once. Up front I should admit to be a bandwagon Pixies fan. I wasn't there from the start. Like so many out there I found the Pixies through the people that they influenced or from exposure to Frank Black and Kim Deal's post Pixies projects.

Recently I've been on a Pixies kick. It is obviously something that I missed out in my youth or rather my early youth. I'm not quite ready to give up my youth. To be honest I'm not sure I was mature enough at the time they were big to appreciate what they were doing. Since then I've been making up for lost time. In the process I think I've fallen in love with Kim Deal. What did it for me? I think it is her ability to (in concert) sincerely deliver an angst filled lyric with a crazy look in her eye, a smile on her face while obviously trying to suppress a laugh and enjoying herself the whole time. What an awesome recipe for happiness.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Sprechen Sie Englisch

So here I am. I've been in Germany for about 12 hours. So far I've done nothing but make an ass of myself, and take a few pictures. I've been to one beer garden, one Irish pub and one English pub. The Irish pub seemed to be the most authentic of the three and that isn't saying much. I swear I went into each of them hoping to get food. The problem is that most of them seem bound and determined to serve beer with their food. I've recently come to the realization that my body does not deal well with alcohol in the beer format. It usually gives me a horrible hangover and horrific flatus. I'm praying for just the hangover, but I suspect that the flatus is soon to come. Here is a link to some pictures I took on the way to the hotel from the airport. There's nothing impressive about any of them other than the fact that they were taken in Germany.

I've been a horrible tourist. I've made no attempt to learn the language other than the phrase "Sprechen Sie English?". I've made it my goal to survive on that phrase alone. How's that for the ugly American? Hey you sons of bitches, if you don't learn my language, you won't get my American dollars. I went to an ATM and got some euros. I accidentally fucked up and tipped the bellman in dollars. He gave me a funny look. For a second, I couldn't figure out why. "What, ain't my money good here?"

Here are the things I've learned so far:

1. Don't make your first meal in Germany Sauerbratten, it will go right through you. You will be crapping purple cabbage and dumplings the minute you can find a seat.
2. Everybody speaks a little English. If they don't, then just shout at them. This will anger them so much that they will find someone that does.
3. It is possible for German person to speak English with an Irish accent.
4. You can only watch free German porn on the hotel tv for about 10 minutes before they turn it off. Hey it's free porn, you don't change the channel.
5. The German Countryside looks like Missouri.
6. Germans don't use sheets, just blankets.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Believe it or not, I'm still glad I live here.

It has been reported that Iran has taken steps to propose and enforce a dress code that specifies distinguishing marks for people of religious minorities. Until recently I was ambivalent about Iran. It's nuclear ambitions seemed to me to be mostly just posturing in such a way as to gain some sort of leverage and possibly concessions in the world forum, aid and increased relations with the US possibly. I'd been willing to overlook the antisemitic rhetoric from their leaders as nothing new and primarily targeted at the common middle east whipping boy Israel. I feel as if Israel's handling of it's own internal problems are the source of many of it's external problems.

This measure however, signals to me a very disturbing change. The idea that Iran and Israel hate one another and that they exchange barbs in the international forum doesn't bother me. The fact that Iran doesn't get along with most of the West doesn't really bother me either. But, rather than focusing it's anger externally it has decided that it will move to isolate the Jews and Christians who I'd imagine are proxies for Israel and the West in the eyes of many Iranians. The fact that Iran wishes isolate it's own citizens does bother me. This is a symptom that, if ignored, could be a red flag of a coming problem. A situation like Afghanistan, Rwanda, Sudan or on the extreme end of things Nazi Germany.

In my opinion most religions, as practiced by most people, amount to little more than an organized superstition combined with a really nice social club. Having said that I'm 100% behind everyone's right to believe and practice their religious beliefs without having to worry about isolation and persecution from neighbors or the government. Having to wear a badge, patch or visible external sign goes a long way towards making this impossible. This movie by the Iranian government makes me nervous and should frankly scare the shit out of the religious minorities that live within the borders of that country. I hope that those effected by this policy, if it is enacted, have the brains and the wherewithal to get the fuck out of that country. I guess if you can't get out, let's hope there is enough sanity within the country to point out that this is a ridiculous law that has no place in any modern society.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I'll keep digging.... Till I feel something.

Last week I had a little blast from the past. I've been a big fan of the band Tool for a long time. They are now touring to support their new album 10,000 Days. When I saw that they were going to be in KC for a date I jumped at the chance to get a ticket. The show was visually pretty spectacular. The light show consisted primarily of 4 large screens that showed either menacingly psychidelic swirls or equally menacing clips from Tool's videos. All of this combined with the motion controlled lighting to produce a pretty stunning visual experience. Add to that the nice effect that the band was constantly back lit to hide their actual appearance. This effect has been achived at previous shows using makeup or costumes. It was nice to see them still being coy about their looks but changing how they were doing it. Set in the tiny Memorial Hall it was a little too loud for my taste, but that may just be the fact that I'm getting older. I could have used a set of ear plugs. The set and encore were pretty good. I have to admit that I don't have the new album and I'm sure that the songs that I didn't recognize would be found there. The new songs were all certainly Tool songs so they don't seem to have strayed from their strong points. While a little dissapointing it is understandable, nobody would accept it if they brought out an album heavy on dance beats or an accordian. All in all it was a good concert. I tried taking a few pictures with my phone and this was probably the best of the lot.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The benefits of being bald

So, I've been bald, or nearly so for six days now. There are a few things that I've learned.

  • Your hair provides more insulation than you realize. My head has been cold non stop for the last week. The weather hasn't cooperated much in this area either. I'm going to need a sunny day soon.

  • The number 666 wasn't tattooed on my scalp. I'm only a little dissapointed.

  • I know a lot of very generous people. With the help of a lot of generous people, I've been able to raise $6000 so far.

  • Apparently, I bare some resemblance to Billy Bob Thornton.

  • It also sounds as if my original hair do wasn't doing a whole lot for me.

  • My hair grows really fast. It looks my scalp will be back to it's original level of visibility in a week or two.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Why is it that I can eat food that is so spicy that it capable of delivering a chemical burn and never suffer from heart burn, but I can eat a turkey sandwich and have excruciating heartburn? For once I'd like to be able to eat a food that doesn't burn one or both ends of my alimentary tract.

Friday, May 05, 2006

They talk by flapping their meat at each other

I've read this short story before, but had completely forgotten it.

By the way, this is the first time I've used youtube to display a video, so tell me if you have any trouble seeing it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The direction water goes down the drain.

So, here's the proof that I'm a giant geek. I'm traveling right now, so I'm writing this from a room in The Hotel Monaco in Seattle. This room is pretty nice and it actually has a giant whirlpool tub. When I say giant, I mean it. This thing is deep. I was able to fill it reasonably full and be nearly ass deep in water. If you are staying in a place like this it is silly not to take advantage of the amenities. I decided that I should grab a soak in the tub.

When I was young, rather than an actual pool, many of my friend's parents bought cattle tanks to use as pools. I know this sounds pretty low rent, but it is pretty common where I grew up. The tanks are usually about twenty feet in diameter and about 3 foot deep. One of the fondest memories of these tanks is when a group of kids would take up spots along the rim of the tank and we'd all walk in circles until we'd got the water moving in a giant whirlpool. After we got the water going at a good clip, we'd plop down into the water and let it carry us around in circles. This is one of the simple pleasures that I remember from being a kid. In an attempt to recreate this experience I directed all ten of the whirlpool jets in the same direction while I was in the tub. The results were less than spectacular. I got out and dried off. After I was half dressed, I noticed that I'd left the tub running. I went into the bathroom and found that the whirlpool tub was living up to it's name. The water had formed a wonderfull little whirlpool. There was a nice three to four inch deep indentation in the center of the water. I then drained the tub and that's when the magic started. OK, not really magic, but it was cool anyway. A column of air formed from the surface of the water all the way down to the drain. The colum was at least four inches at the top and narrowed to about two inches at the drain. What was even cooler was that the funnel was completely stable with almost no ripples.

This put an idea in my head. What if the jets are pointing the other direction. Fifteen minutes later I had the jets reconfigured and the tub refilled. I wanted to see if the same results happened if the water was spinning the opposite direction. It took another ten minutes to get the water spun up with the same four inch dimple as before. Now, here's the interesting part, when I opened the drain, I didn't get the same beautifuly symetrical whirl pool as I'd gotten earlier. The whirlpool with the opposite rotation whipped around wildly and wasn't nearly as wide as the one earlier.

I did some poking around and didn't find anything conclusive to explain this. From what I've read, the corriolis effect is quite negligible. This is obvious since the tubs maintained the draining direction established by the orientation of the spin of the water. I guess the small differece made by the corriolis forces could have a destabilizing effect on the whirlpool.

So the fact that I spent almost 45 minutes filling and draining a tub to do an experiment that was nearly meaningless is probably proof that I'm just about the biggest nerd you've ever seen.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The theme from Jaws

Am I the only one who has theme music from the movie Jaws running through my head while taking care of business on the throne?