Voted "Best Blog With No Readers", 2009 Blogspot Awards.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And a Happy New Year

Akkerman's a little out of tune as usual, but stay with it.

Why Speed Cameras Don't Work


Simple enough. Speed through a camera trap, then claim these clowns put a picture of your license plate on theirs. Same type of car? They found a friend with the same car you have.

The state has the burden of proof-- they have to prove it was your car. Print out this article and take it before the judge. Instant acquittal. This is why they set the fine so low, with no points on your license. They just want you to mail in the money, knowing that if you challenge it, the state will lose.

Take my advice: print out the article, and show it to the judge. Instant acquittal-- even if you're guilty as hell. Speed cameras were bogus from the start. They're just moneymakers for the state and the companies that build and operate them. Do your part and help eliminate them.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Gold-digger of the Year Award


(the couple, in happier times)

It's hard to find lists of top gold-diggers, but a few names come to mind: Brooke Gordon, Anna Nicole Smith, Heather Mills.

Add this one: Marie Douglas-David.

$53,000 a week? That's seriously high-maintenance. I hope she was worth it, George. I really hope she was worth it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Grinch of the Year Award

Goes to:

Reuters!
Winning entry: No Christmas cheer as recession gathers steam

Despite the best efforts of those in the bad-news media to cast a pall of gloom over our holiday, there's plenty of Christmas cheer to be found. It's too bad the ace reporters at Reuters can't find it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Break

Exams and stuff.

I'll post when I can.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Wrong Again.



Rolling Stone recently published their "Top 100 Singers of all time". As usual, they're wrong about everything. It reads more like a list of "who's got the best publicists" than who the best singers actually were.

The fact that Bob Dylan (above) was #7 should be enough proof.

But wait-- here's more. Karen Carpenter had a voice worth its weight in gold, and snuck in at #94. Art Garfunkel is another with a stupendously good voice-- he was #86.

But what's worst of all are the sheer omissions. Deep Purple's Ian Gillan is totally omitted-- and he had a better voice than Robert Plant (#15). Yes, he did.

No, it gets worse. More total omissions: Lena Horne, Stewkey, Arthur Brown, Cher, and Marc Bolan. All of them worth including. Yet somehow they found room for Lou Reed. I'm sorry, but Lou Reed couldn't even sing. At all. Period. End of paragraph.

But the worst omission of all is a woman who could give their #1 a run for her money: Shirley Bassey. Completely omitted. Rolling Stone is sad. I'm calling Rolling Stone sad right here. Sad. Wrong about everything.

If you have a subscription, cancel it. I'm serious. You're just wasting your money.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Eyebrow Thing

I have no idea where it came from, but along the way I realized that I find a certain type of eyebrows very attractive.

I like them thick, straight, and dark. A few examples:

Comedienne Sarah Silverman:


Supermodel Kathy Ireland:


Actress Ilona Staller, AKA Cicciolina:


The reverse is also true; I detest thin, arched, plucked brows. Paris Hilton comes to mind. No need to post any pictures of her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Preparedness

I hate the terms "survivalist" and "survival". They bring to mind images of Grizzly Adams living in a log cabin, or worse, militia nuts playing war games in the woods.

Terms like this do nothing to help you and me through times of trouble and woe. "Preparedness" is a lot closer to being an accurate description. You have to be prepared for catastrophe.

I recently discussed this topic with an ordinary guy who told me he'd "just take (his) chances". I told him I used to think like that. I figured that if big trouble came, it would be in the form of a Russian missile with a nuclear warhead. You could decide to either die slowly of radiation poisoning or walk outside, face the blast, and hope for a quick and relatively painless death.

Experience has taught me otherwise. Hurricane Katrina was an eye-opener for many people. It's much more likely that any crisis we will face won't be of the life-and-death variety, but of the cold-wet-and-hungry variety. A little preparation will go a long way.

In the coming days, I'll have a few more posts on this topic.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Panorama: University of Maryland


(click for bigger. MUCH bigger.)

This is a panorama taken from the top of the top of the parking garage behind Cole Student Center at the University of Maryland College Park campus. You can see Byrd Stadium and a good bit of the campus to the South.

I wanted to take a picture of the inside of Cole. I was there to take an exam. It was a great place for a panorama, but one person had "concerns". That's all it takes to shut you down these days.

Lessons learned:

1. If you're around any people, at least one will have "concerns". Be prepared. Whenever you take pictures in public places, it helps to know your rights. Bert Krages, an attorney, has put together a very helpful guide to your rights as a photographer.

2. Whenever they shut you down, you will have gone though all of the steps of setting up your tripod, leveling, getting your exposure just right, etc... It's very frustrating. If you just snap a quick shot, you'll probably get away with it, but when you start setting up your tripod, people are much more likely to pitch a fit. I think I'll try quickie non-tripod panoramas in the future.

3. When the weather limits your outdoor time, get your camera set up as much as possible before you go outside. That seems obvious, but it deserves mentioning. I used an auto setting here because I didn't want to adjust the manual controls with numb fingers. You can see the differences in exposure settings, especially in the sky.

4. The horizontal level of your camera is important; the vertical level, not so much. If the best part of your view is below you, tip your camera down. When you adjust your stitches, you'll want to pull together the parts that draw attention. The sky isn't as important as the ground.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm Too Sexy


Apparently, Captain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame is too sexy for Disneyland, even when played by the C-list rejects preferred by the Magic Kingdom.

Just one look at the devilish rogue and girls will lift their shirts. This has caused the powers that be to throw the Captain overboard. They've fired all of their Captain Jack actors in the name of family-friendly entertainment.

Now you know who to dress up as next Halloween-- and it works as a date movie too. I can affirm this from my own experience. Get that Keith Richards thing going, and they just can't help themselves.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Move the Ball a Little


The old saying goes, "Offense wins games; defense wins championships." The Redskins aren't winning enough games right now, and at 7-5 are looking like they'll miss the playoffs. They either have to move to the NFC West or put up some more points.

Going into this weekend, they have scored just 208 points. Four other teams have less than 208 points each, and their combined record is 6-42-1.

The defense is strong and special teams are good, although field goals have been shaky lately. This contributes to the lack of points, but the real problem seems to be the play calling. How can you have the best running back in the league, a strong and healthy offensive line, a Pro Bowl-quality QB, a bunch of good receivers, and not score touchdowns?

I say, be more aggressive. Just one failed third down conversion will stop a drive. If you're forced to make a lot of third downs, you're going to have a lot of stalled drives. Try to get first downs in two plays instead of three.

Give Portis the ball more, with less of the two-yard grinders. Give him the chance to break a few and he will. Campbell is a good runner; give him more keepers and QB draws. He's a big guy; he can take a hit. Throw downfield, not to the sidelines.

That's my advice as an armchair play-caller, and I have an undefeated record.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Distractions


Taken from a Daily Mail article, but never mind the ring-- look at those eyes.

I prefer brown eyes, and that is exactly the shade of brown I like best.

Someday soon I'll discuss my eyebrow fetish, too. I have a thing for a certain type of eyebrows. I'll explain later.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Joy

I've been saving this one. Clark Griswold would love it.

It's Apollo 100, but without the cat this time.

Once again, turn it up.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Why Is It...


...that the people with the loudest mufflers are the same people who think they have to warm up their car for five minutes before driving?

I just had one of those outside my window. It brought back memories of a neighbor who didn't just have the loudest muffler, he had the stinkiest exhaust. That's pretty much his car up there. Same color, too.

I didn't go to look at this car, but I didn't have to. God saw it. God remembers.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Can't Get There From Here

Recently, I made a road trip from here in Rockville to South Dakota and back. (Lessons learned: Indiana is beautiful, Illinois is very flat except near rivers, and people West of the Mississippi River are just too friendly.)

I also relearned a lesson I should have remembered: avoid driving in Pennsylvania. However, I wanted to see Wheeling, WV on the way back, so I planned a route that took me through a bit of Southwestern PA along Interstate 70, then South on US 219 back to Maryland. It looked easy enough on the map.

Then I encountered this interchange near Greensburg.

Your mission is to enter the map on 70 at the lower left and exit on 70 at the lower right. That's all you have to do. I still can't figure it out. At the time, I wound up taking US 119 South and justified it as "the scenic route".

(image from Google Maps, click for bigger)

An Unfortunate Choice of Words


"Commandos mop up last of Mumbai militants"

Ouch.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let's Roll

Another "always bring your camera" moment. I found this one just as the tow truck was arriving.

The driver was a teenage boy who appeared unharmed. I overheard him talking to someone, saying he'd had "a lot of problems lately".

All I could think was, "I hope you like bicycles."


(click for bigger)



Sunday, November 23, 2008

Movie Moments



Aubrey: The crew will take it badly. Wally was popular. Have they expressed any feelings on the matter to you?

Maturin: Jack, before answering I'm compelled to ask: Am I speaking with my old friend, or to the ship's Captain? You see, to the ship's Captain I'd say there's little I detest more than an informant.

Aubrey: Now you're talking like an Irishman.

Maturin: Well, I am an Irishman.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BREAKING NEWS

There must be a word to describe this sort of "journalism".

Asinine
comes to mind.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Say This With Me

Adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma

"Craniopharyngiomas are thought to arise from ectopic nests of stomadeal epithelium left during the embryonic development of the adenohypophysis. Craniopharyngiomas are often designated as “adamantinomatous” when stellate cells and keratin pearls are prominent."

(Image of cholesterol crystals in adamantinomatous craniopharyngioma cyst fluid)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Perfect 10

Cover the children's eyes.

This is Lydia Fixel. She's a "plus size" model.

The fact that she's plus size is proof that today's models are way too skinny-- but you already knew that.

(as usual, click for bigger)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wow. Just Wow.

There's so much awesomeness in these clips.

They're from the other night's Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge. In the first clip, Asma gives Salman a toy barbell in tribute to his passion for weightlifting, and sings "Chunri Chunri".

video

As if that wasn't enough, Katrina gets Salman to dance with Asma, and the hosts coax Asma into singing in Arabic.

video

The quality of blogger.com uploads isn't that great. If you like what you see, (and how can you not?) you can watch the originals here and here. Many thanks to surinderr for the excellent vidcaps.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Very Definition of Cheating


How do you get up the tallest mountain in the world? You climb it, of course, like Edmund and Tenzing (shown above) did.

What you don't do is drop onto it from an airplane.

Just so you know...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joy

Long ago, sometime between late and early, I was hanging out with friends. Our host decided to treat us to a "special song", as he called it. I'd never heard it before.

As it turns out, it's a modern version of an old one. So old, in fact, it was written by J. S. Bach himself.

I recall my reaction. I had to coin a new term to describe just how I felt. I called it a "pleasure flash". If you've ever felt a transient moment of bliss (in a non-sexual way), you should understand.

So here it is. Watch for the cat.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two Hamsters, One Wheel: The Director's Cut

Save this and watch it when you need a dose of hamster fun.


video

Friday, October 17, 2008

Your Guess is As Good as Mine

Just what breeds are we looking at here? Bloodhound and Beagle? Dachshund and Black Lab?

dog

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That Poor Car

I saw this Taurus wagon a few years back in a North Bethesda parking garage. Here is why you should always have a camera with you. I shot several pictures all around the car before realizing there was someone in it.

I've seen other cars filled with junk, but I doubt whether some of them are driveable. This one rolled. If you look closely, you can even see the driver.

(click for bigger)





Monday, October 13, 2008

The Travel Bug Made Me Do It




(click for bigger)


It's not just any travel bug, it's a MEDCOM travel bug. That means its owner wants pictures of it at US Army locations. Montgomery County offers a wealth of opportunities for seeing sites dedicated to medicine and the military, but I know of a place called Forest Glen where they intersect most appropriately for this TB.

I used to ride my bike around there as a kid. I remember the pagoda and the "miniature european city". The old city is gone now, replaced by semi-detached housing. On the other side of the road, the Army does their business in a big blue building named after Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.

I figured I would just pass through the area sometime and stop there to take pictures with the TB. As it turned out, I didn't get that opportunity for so long that its owner emailed me wondering if I still had it.

So I made a road trip down Beach Drive, turning right at the Emerald City, under the beltway and left. Then right and up one of the steeper hills in the area. Then left and go straight. The WRAIR is the place on the right with the fence and guards. The picture above is of the old front gate over on Brookville Road. If you click on it and look closely, you can see the esteemed Senator's name over the entrance.

I probably gave their security people something to do for a while. I'm sure they got better footage of me than I got of them. I imagined an official vehicle rolling up and some guys with badges wanting to know just why they shouldn't send me to Gitmo. I used to ride my bike in there. Times have changed.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Hard Out Here for a Christian

It seems the Christians in India are just too good at converting Hindus. The message of peace, charity, and "least of my brothers" (Mat 25:40) has found an audience, particularly among the Dalits, or "untouchables", mostly in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

Of course, this has upset many Hindus. The murder of one of the Hindu religious leaders, Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, on August 23, 2008 gave them the excuse they were looking for. Never mind that Saraswati was killed by Maoist rebels-- the rebels are too hard to find. Instead, these Hindus have gone after the Christians and their churches.

According to the Roman Catholic Church, in the past several weeks, about 300 churches have been burned, and about 50,000 Christians were made homeless. Did you catch this on the news? Probably not. The media must have been too busy to tell you.

Black Friday

In honor of the stock market's biggest one-week drop ever, I give you a classic by Steely Dan:

Monday, October 6, 2008

One Hell of a Race This Weekend

I don't mean that demolition derby in Talladega. I'm talking about the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Ten hours of furious driving and non-stop action from start to finish. Sometimes endurance races like this are won by a margin measured in laps. This one was won by less than five seconds. It took a thousand miles to get there.

I have to say right here that if they want to capture an American audience, giving it a poofy French name won't help. But let's try to overlook that. Some of the best drivers in the world went down to Georgia, looking for victory. The best automakers in the world sent their best cars, seeking bragging rights. Audi, Acura, Chevrolet, Ferrari, Peugeot, and Porsche were all there. Thirteen automakers in all, from six countries: Germany (2), France, Japan, USA (4), UK (4), and Italy.

In the LMP1 class, Peugeot sent a great car, seeking once again to break Audi's dominance. Just like Le Mans in July, they won the pole and led many laps, but were passed by an Audi late in the race and went home in frustration. The real winner was us, who got to see the good stuff. This was the kind of racing I live for.

Chevrolet, having chased away all competitors in GT1, had only themselves to beat. They sent two evenly matched Corvettes and left them to fight it out. Fight they did, with more of the fender-banging that's become customary between the teams at Corvette Racing.

Acura squared off against Porsche in the LMP2 class, but a series of mishaps left Acura's hopes dashed. Roger Penske's Porsche teams pulled off a 1-2-3 finish.

The GT2 class was another classic Ferrari-Porsche slugfest. Just like Sebring was in the spring, with the Ferrari F430 GT of Risi Competizione battling the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR right down to the wire. Back in the spring, they had an incredible fight to the checkered flag at Sebring, trading paint and leaving dents. Petit Le Mans was incredibly close too, with Ferrari winning by seconds.

For race fans that really get into the dirty details of why and how race teams put cars on the track, this is the best thing going. And for those of you who just watch for the wrecks, there were several of those, too. Look on YouTube.

You've got one more chance to catch these cars this season, at Laguna Seca. It'll be broadcast October 19th on NBC. Check your TV guide for the exact time, or go to TVRacer.com.

Moribund the Burgermeister

Back in the Middle Ages, a curious phenomenon would sometimes occur. Many people would suddenly go insane, with hallucinations and wild dancing. In 1969, it would be called Woodstock. Back in 1569, they called it Saint John's Dance. Nobody understood it, so in keeping with the times, they blamed it on the devil.

Modern scientists believe it was a manifestation of ergotism, caused by a fungus which infests grains, particularly rye. It produces chemicals similar to LSD, so it really wasn't much different from Woodstock after all. Come to think of it, I'm sure there are people who think that Woodstock was the devil's work, too.

Leave it to Peter Gabriel to write a song about it. This is one of his very best. He never made a video for it, but a fan put his own on YouTube. Play it loud.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'll admit it, this was clever


At least I didn't have to listen to that damned song again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tip of the Day

"Rick rolls" are more than just not funny.

They're old.

And they're not funny.

If you still get a laff from rickrolling, you're sad.

Really sad.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Preachin' Blues



Time to get some religion. The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band is here to bring you a Sunday Sermon entitled "Your Cousin's on COPS".

Hang them from the Yardarm, Part II

Now the Ukrainian freighter is anchored off the African coast, with a US destroyer lurking about a mile away. What happens next? First, the US Navy will bring in some SEALS to plant explosives on the rudder or propeller to disable it in case the pirates try to move the ship.

The Russians will probably try to do the same thing. Most of the freighter's crew is Russian, so they have an interest in it as well. Naturally, the US and Russian navies won't tell each other, but they'll know what the other is up to anyways. Then they'll wait and negotiate with the pirates. Food will run out, and things will come to a head. The Russians and Americans will sort out who gets to raid the ship.

I'd place my bets on the Americans getting to do it, on account of the Ukraine being a US ally. So the ship gets raided, and whatever is left of the ship and crew heads to its original destination. You heard it here first.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hang Them From the Yardarm


It looks like Somali pirates (pictured above) have bitten off a little more than they can chew. This time, they captured a Ukrainian ship bound for Kenya with RPG's, Zu-23 anti-aircraft guns, T-72 tanks, and ammunition.

The good news is that the captured ship is slow and vessels from the US and Russian navies are racing to intercept it before it reaches port. The bad news is that it's been described as a "floating ammo dump". This could get messy.

The article mentions that the pirates even have a spokesman. I'd like to hear what he has to say. Probably something like, "Arrr!! Avast, ye scurvy dogs! We'll not be giving up our booty! We'll send ye all to Davy Jones' locker!!" He'd probably add "Allah willing", just to get us all confused.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Teeter Totter


























A new Harris Teeter opened in my neighborhood this evening. It's at the foot of the "beige behemoth", one of the many high-rise condos that have sprung up in the area. I decided to walk over and check it out.

It was crowded, especially around the free samples. I didn't want to stand in line for an hour to get the kind of freebies I can get any day at Whole Foods, so I just bought some scallops and horseradish and got out of there before any more over-friendly drones could try to help me.

I did have fun looking at a cross-section of my neighbors, at least the kind of neighbors who'd go to the grand opening of a new Harris Teeter. It was just like the Census Bureau figures for the area: 75% white, 10% asian, 10% latino, 5% black, and very middle-class.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Hamsters, One Wheel

video

Meet the Dwarves. The white one is Buster, and the tan one is his wife, Maxie. They're a couple of Phodopus Campbelli, or dwarf hamsters. Somebody abandoned them on a table at the food court of the local mall, and they spent a while in the Lost and Found before I decided to adopt them.

I didn't realize just how much fun they would be. They used to play like this all the time, until they started making babies and I had to separate them. Nobody had told me they were of opposite sexes. Max was very playful, and Buster was a master of escape-fu.

They had two kids, but that's another story. They've all gone off to the great wheel in the sky, but have left me with many good memories, plus pictures and movies-- and a lot of cages, wheels, and stuff. It was fun while it lasted.

What Kind of Title is That?



Some people might not understand the idea behind this blog's name. Am I dissing my home town? What's wrong with Rockville?

Actually, the name comes from the title of an old song by REM. How old? 1984. I know a lot of people who weren't even born then. Amazingly, REM is still around and still plays the song in concert.

The story goes that Mike Mills, the band's bassist, wrote it for a female friend who was moving from REM's adopted hometown of Athens, GA back to Rockville, MD. Now that I live here, it's become something of a theme song.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Bad Idea


I just can't seem to find the right tool for making scrambled eggs. I started using regular stainless steel table spoons, but the problem is that the eggs stick to them, even through the dishwasher.

So I had a collection of spoons with egg stuck to them. I got an idea. I have some toilet bowl cleaner with hydrochloric acid in it. That's got to work, right? I poured the acid in a glass and dropped the spoons in. After an hour, the acid was green and had foam on top. I pulled out a spoon and sure enough, no egg. The problem is that all of the spoons are now micropitted and have lost their sheen. They don't look right and don't feel right on the tongue.

That's one of the ruined spoons on the right side. You live, you learn.

Watching the Cars Go Round

I've been a fan of auto racing for about ten years. I remember the very race: it was NASCAR Winston Cup, the night race at Bristol, 1995. I was amazed. It was total insanity and I was hooked. I guess I got lucky. If it'd been Pocono I might be writing about football instead.

Before you jump to any conclusions, let me say I'm not much of a NASCAR fan any more. I'm kind of like someone who enjoys music but the first music they discovered was The Jonas Brothers. Then they grew up and found the good stuff.

NASCAR lost me around the turn of the millennium, when they were screwing up races and upset fans were throwing beer cans on the track. That was also when the Indy Racing League was at its very best. I discovered sports cars around that time as well.

The IRL season has just ended, and the others are winding down. Maybe that's why I'm starting this blog now. I have some time to fill. I'll try to be entertaining.

A Hiccup Cure that Always Works

I remember reading it as a child, but I don't remember where.

The short version: Take nine small sips of water, with a small breath between each one.

The long version, with the benefit of years of practice: Take a deep breath and let it out. Take a small sip and swallow. Inhale a little bit. Take another sip and swallow. Inhale a little more. Repeat until you've done it nine times. If you have to exhale, you're inhaling too much. If you hiccup during the procedure, start over.

There's nothing special about the number nine. I just use nine because that's the number I read. It's always worked for me, so I stick to the formula. Is that superstition? Tradition? The placebo effect?

I'm starting to over-analyze it. I do that sometimes.

Friday, September 19, 2008

First of all...


This is where it starts.

You can expect blogs about auto racing (Indy and sports cars), books, movies, guns, hunting, women, music, and maybe even a little politics.

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.

Reading List

  • Man Is Wolf to Man, by Janusz Bardach
  • Don't Swallow Your Gum! by Aaron Carroll & Rachel Vreeman
  • Instant Replay, by Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap
  • New York, by Edward Rutherford
  • The Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson

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