Thursday, October 28, 2004

"Oh, Gimli!"

Ancient Hobbit-Sized Human Species Discovered
"...In an astonishing discovery that could rewrite the history of human evolution, scientists say they have found the skeleton of a new human species, a dwarf, marooned for eons in a tropical Lost World while modern humans rapidly colonized the rest of the planet. The finding on a remote Indonesian island has stunned anthropologists like no other in recent memory. It is a fundamentally new creature that bears more of a resemblance to fictional, barefooted hobbits than modern humans.

...Flores Man was hardly formidable. His grapefruit-sized brain was two-thirds smaller than ours, and closer to the brains of today’s chimpanzees and transitional prehuman species in Africa than vanished 2 million years ago. Yet Flores Man made stone tools, lit fires and organized group hunts for meat. Bones of fish, birds and rodents found near the skeleton were charred, suggesting they were cooked. All this suggests Flores Man lived communally and communicated effectively, perhaps even verbally.

...But the environment in which Flores Man lived was indeed peculiar, and scientists say it probably contributed to the specimen’s unusually small dimensions. Millennia ago, Flores was a kind of a looking-glass world, a real-life Middle-earth inhabited by a menagerie of fantastical creatures like giant tortoises, elephants as small as ponies and rats as big as hunting dogs.

It even had a dragon, although they were giant lizards like today’s carnivorous Komodo dragons rather than the treasure-hoarding Smaug described by novelist J.R.R. Tolkien in his 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy."
---------------------------------------------------'s like suddenly my family's genetics make so much more sense. Except for that grapefruit-sized brain thing...and living in a tropical climate...and their apparent lack of deep-frying skills. But hey--dragons! And other "fantastical creatures"! (How excited was that Associated Press reporter, I wonder, to finally get to use the phrase "fantastical creatures" in an article?)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Who are the people in my neighborhood?

There's the guy who looks like Ted Nugent:

Ted Nugent Guy has a dog that seems to be constantly crapping. Every time I look out the window, it's out there making a deposit by the curb...god knows what he's feeding that thing.

And there's the guy who looks like Wolverine (I haven't seen him for a few weeks, though--maybe he's out on a mission or something):

Oh--and who could forget the overweight senior citizen who dresses like Robin Hood?

I'm not making this guy up, I swear. Bonnand can back me up on this--he too has seen the feather-hatted stranger wandering down my street, wearing his long underwear instead of tights underneath his beach shorts. We aren't sure if he robs from the rich and gives to the poor, though--there aren't really many rich people around in our neighborhood, and this guy doesn't look like he could get too far without being picked up by the cops.

And last, but certainly not least...Jesus.

Jesus is actually a very pleasant neighbor--as one might imagine, I suppose--and although he has a dog like Ted Nugent Guy, Jesus' dog is much more responsible about where it does its business.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

"To Whom it May Concern"

On a recent late-night stroll in downtown Helena, I was making my weekly check of the community info kiosks when I came across something that stood out from all the signs about "Drumming With Gandalf" and gun shows at the civic center. (And oh, there are many of those.) In the middle of one of the bulletin boards was a thick stack of papers stapled together, on which the rantings & ravings of an unspecified local looney had been photocopied from his hand-written notes. These aren't all that rare to find on the community info kiosks of downtown Helena. But, I'm never one to turn down the chance to read someone else's rantings & ravings, so I had myself a quick look-see. (And admittedly, after the whole Unabomber thing going down in Lincoln a few years ago, I think we're all kinda on the lookout for more crazies descending from the hills, too.)

And lordy, was it ever a keeper! Turns out, this tome was all about an upcoming ballot initiative (I-147), which aims to make cyanide leach mining legal again in Montana. (Voters outlawed it in 1998 or so--I'm not sure, as I wasn't here yet.) While I agree with the author's sentiments, and his drawings of goats & deer are lovely, I do have to give him some demerit points for the shoddy craftsmanship of the following poem he chose to include:

I saw a deer
I was full of fear
It was full of cyanide hair
Along with a dying grizzly bear
It walked to me
With a bumblebee
Too weak to sting me
The citizens of Lincoln
Saw me
And charged a fee
To save me,
After being stung by
A cyanide bee
I wonder if this guy knows about open-mike poetry nights down at Miller's.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Not the delicious kind of shots.


THRILL at the sight of pole barns!
GASP at the amount of people waiting in line two hours before the clinic opens!
MARVEL at over 300 syringes!
GAZE at the spectacle of the word "prophylaxis"!
SAVOR the sight of those fantastic Health Department vests!
And SEE Truckasaurus unleash fifty tons of car crushing ACTION!!!!
(Well, okay, maybe not that last bit.)

Today was the culmination of several months of anticipation at work--the mass flu immunization clinic that we've been planning since June.

damn--it went well. Really, really well. Frankly, it rocked. Even with all the curve balls that came at us in the last week or so (uh, like the big-ass flu shot shortage that's all over the news), we rocked that clinic. Rocked it hard core. I think even if Truckasaurus had been there, people still would have been more awed by our flu shot dispersal rockingness than Truckasaurus' fifty tons of car crushing action.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Suggestion Box

You know, I like my apartment. I really do. It's roomy, it has lots of windows, and there's three big closets for me to cram my innumerable amounts of crap into. My rent is reasonable, considering that it includes all utilities except electricity & the phone line. However...there are three very definite downsides to this place.

1. My bathroom is roughly the size of a twin bed. Okay, slight exaggeration--maybe it's more of a double. But definitely not a queen-sized mattress. Lord no. I don't really need a lot of room in there to, y'know, take care of business...but it would be nice to be able to have a bathtub. And enough room to turn around without tripping over the sink. (Is it weird that the closets are all about the same size as the bathroom? Do you think someone took the phrase "water closet" a bit too literally?)

2. The windows are really dirty. I would really love to wash them, but some genius tenant (or landlord) before me decided that it'd be a great idea to nail up all kinds of boards inside the window frames, making removal of the storm windows impossible. And the screens. Many have tried, all have failed. So there's this ever-thickening layer of grime slowly, surely closing me in. I devised a way to clean some of the windows last summer when I moved in--I would wedge my arm up as far as I could reach (not very) while grasping a kitchen spatula wrapped in paper towels. I'm like MacGyver...but lamer.

3. I have no control over the thermostat. You see, my apartment's the second floor of an old house that's been converted into apartments, and back in the day, they only put in one thermostat. This thermostat is under the control of my downstairs neighbors. I'm not a control freak or fact, most of the year, this isn't really an issue. And I'm pretty good at regulating the temperature up here the old fashioned way--by opening the windows or layering as needed. However...when my downstairs neighbors choose to say, leave for the weekend, without adjusting the thermostat, problems can (and almost always do) arise. For instance, my apartment hovered around 80 degrees throughout most of last winter...I should have rented this place out as a sweatlodge to the peyote users down on the corner. (Well, it's probably not peyote that they're using...)

And then, there's days like today, where the heat doesn't apparently seem to be coming on at all. We're down to 61 degrees, people...let's see how low it can go! I've got more mittens & long underwear in the closet--bring it on!!!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Conversation Overheard at the Laundromat.

Two young guys (in their late teens, I'm guessing) are sitting at a table in the laundromat I go to, watching "Survivor" on a TV mounted up near the ceiling just over the crest of the pop machine. The laundromat's night manager, a stumpy woman who looks to be about 40, walks over and joins them at the table. (It's a slow night at the laundromat--just three customers plus the woman's son, who is back in the corner kicking the Ms. PacMan game over & over.)

A commercial break comes on the TV.

Woman: Man, I wish Helena had a TGI Friday's. That is the best restaurant EVER.

Young Man #1: Yeah, it sucks that we've only got an Applebee's. There's, like, nowhere to eat in this town.

Woman: We don't even have an Olive Garden. I moved here two years ago, and I just couldn't believe that there wasn't an Olive Garden here. Oh my god. How can a state capitol not have an Olive Garden???

Young Man #1: I moved here from Seattle to go to Carroll (College)...dude, talk about culture shock. There's only, like, one Taco Bell! And the nearest Outback Steakhouse is in Billings, man!

Woman: Oh, totally. I know--I moved here from Salt Lake City. We had all kinds of great restaurants, like TGI Friday's, and Olive Gardens, and Applebees', and Pizza Huts...the Pizza Huts here just aren't the same.

Young Man #2: Dude.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


I was trying to think of some really clever way to start this out, but I'm afraid with the dearth of caffeine in my system at the moment, this is the best I can come up with. For that, I'm sorry. Really. I promise to try harder in posts to come. I really do.

This sign's been hanging on the garage in my parents' yard for as long as I can remember. My mom painted up a couple of signs like this when I was very young--partially as an outlet for her numerous artistic skills, but I'd wager it was also an outlet for the inevitable madness that must set in when someone's home with three kids all day for years on end--but I don't think I ever actually asked what "willkommen" meant until I was about 10 or so. For the record, it means "welcome" in German--a language that is a big part of my family history, but not so much a part of the family's present. Since I found out what it means, it's always struck me as a really friendly kind of word--kind of a big, fat, goofy word, the kind that would come dancing at you in liederhosen thrusting a stein of beer into your hand, and leading you out onto the dance floor. willkommen! I can't offer you a beer or teach you how to polka on here, but hey, as soon as that technology is available, I'll do my best to oblige any takers. In the meantime, I can deliver on the rest of the willkommen image.