Friday, December 30, 2005

I was greedy and took two.

From The 2006 New Year's Resolution Generator:

"After all the drinking is done, and the hangovers have finally worn off the important decision of picking new years resolutions is upon us once again. If you are anything like me you never follow through with them. Taking that fact into consideration it really shouldn't matter if we let a silly little computer and a couple of lines of code pick our resolution for us. For you viewing enjoyment (enjoyment is a strong word) I present to you the 2006 edition of the geek-foo resolution generator."

In the year 2006 I resolve to:
Make millions in the rubber ducky industry.

Get your resolution here



In the year 2006 I resolve to:
Not forget Poland.

Get your resolution here

Somehow, I always knew.

god
~God~

You're one ineffable monstertrucker! You're nosey and don't like people touching your fruit trees. You're a bit of a pyro and like to con strangers into running around naked. But you're really a good guy, with a lot on your shoulders. When you were 12, you got a little bored, being an only child and all, and built yourself a globe....made of morons and assholes. It was better than the others, considering it wasn't made out of hot gas and fireballs, but the inhabitants were.

So, keep up the good....keep up the work.
Which Biblical Character are you?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Point/Counterpoint

First, a forward floating around out on "the Interweb"...
-------------------------------
North Dakota News - This text is from a county emergency manager out in the western part of North Dakota state after the recent snow storm.

WEATHER BULLETIN
Up here in the Northern Plains we just recovered from a historic event may I even say a "Weather Event" of "Biblical Proportions" --- with a historic blizzard of up to 44" inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10's of thousands.

FYI:
George Bush did not come....
FEMA did nothing....
No one howled for the government...
No one blamed the government
No one even uttered an expletive on TV...
Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton did not visit
Our Mayor's did not blame Bush or anyone else
Our Governor did not blame Bush or anyone else either
CNN, ABC, CBS, FOX, or NBC did not visit - or report on this category 5 snow storm
Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.....
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House....
No one looted....
Nobody - I mean Nobody demanded the government do something
Nobody expected the government to do anything either
No Larry King, No Bill O'Rielly, No Oprah
No Chris Mathews and No Geraldo Rivera
No Shaun Penn, No Barbara Striesand, No Hollywood types to be found
Nope, we just melted the snow for water
Sent out caravans of SUV's to pluck people out of snow engulfed cars
The truck drivers pulled people out of snow banks and didn't ask for a penny
Local restaurants made food and the police and fire departments delivered it to the snow bound families
Families took in the stranded people - total strangers
We fired up wood stoves
Broke out coal oil lanterns or coleman lanterns
We put on an extra layer of clothes because up here it is "Work or Die"
We did not wait for some affirmative action government to get us out of a mess created by being immobilized by a welfare program that trades votes for 'sittin at home' checks.

Even though a Category "5" blizzard of this scale has never fallen this early...we know it can happen and how to deal with it ourselves. In my many travels, I have noticed that once one gets north of about 48 degrees North Latitude, 90% of most of the world's social problems seem to evaporate. Coincidence....I think not.
-----------------------------------
And now, for the rest of the story.

I agree that there's a strong vein of "rugged individualism" that runs up north, and an expectation for self-reliance--and that's something I'm proud of, being from this neck of the woods. And I get that that was sort of meant as tongue-in-cheek...BUT...I'm not altogether certain that comparing these two situations is all that, well, fair.

I mean, #1, there ain't a hell of a lot of people living above 48 degrees north in general in the U.S. I mean, what does that leave, fifty miles of the northernmost parts of ND, MN, MT, ID & WA? Some of the most isolated, desolate (population-wise especially) regions of the country...I drive through these places, I've lived in these places...other than earth and sky, there isn't much else there. Hell, I'm back in the snow belt at the isolated tip-top of WI now, and even I'm not up at 48 degrees north.

Logistically-speaking, if one had to evacuate a town in ND/MN/etc. for a blizzard (unlikely, given the distances one would need to cover to get to another town in most places, and since most of those weather systems come together fast & cover big swaths of country--plus, there'd be fewer law enforcement/disaster preparedness staffers available than by a metro area), think of how much less authorities would have to deal with. Far fewer people, which means far fewer resources to have to put together...plus, you'd be dealing with smaller communities, where people most likely know each other better and are used to working together, so there'd be a lot of previously established relationships to build on. Also, buildings are constructed differently up north, with basements, stronger insulation, etc., so if people do have to shelter in place, they've got much sturdier places to do so in. Also, these are people who are used to not being able to get out to a store every day, given either weather, distance, or a combination of the two. Urban life, from what little I've experienced, is a different animal: more services available, more stores close by, perhaps less immediate perceived need (at least by past perspectives, before the hurricanes hit and gave some people a reality check) to stockpile stuff the way rural people tend to do (and I mean, like, really rural people, who live more than an hour from some suburbs).

Plus, I think it's a big overstatement to say that these areas don't have any social problems. What about the extreme poverty? Clashes between Native Americans/tribal governments and local/state governments? Towns evaporating as people migrate south? Drug culture exploding? Economies crumbling as remaining industries move south/overseas? I mean, seriously, it ain't all a bowl of cherries up north, either, and I think a lot of the same issues that plagued MS & LA before & after the hurricanes are just as prevalent up north, in proportation to the population of the area. To say otherwise strikes me as a bit naïve and/or unfairly cocky.

I'm certainly not saying that there weren't a lot of people who were poorly prepared during the hurricanes this fall, because there obviously were. And given the predictions for a bad hurricane season, and the fact that they occur almost every year, people should've been better prepared. But there were also many people down south who did prepare, and who did the best they could to evacuate and to get supplies together so they wouldn't have to rely on outside aid. But I think there's a huge difference between getting a blizzard, and getting your house blown away. A blizzard generally does temporary damage, if any--a hurricane can do an awful lot more.
---------------------------------------
And because all episodes of Point/Counterpoint must end this way:

"Jane, you ignorant slut."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Gotta hand it to those Swedes...

Anybody know Swedish? Wanna tell me what the hell a "Genevad" is supposed to be? Because I got one in the mail today, and so far its purpose has stumped four out of five Asbachs...

(But seriously, thank you, Grey & Allison, for the conversation piece.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

We need more twinkle lights!!!


Here's a few pictures from around the ranch the last couple of days...

Out in the back yard...

Jane, enjoying some quality time with her beloved chair.

Toivo the cat, enjoying the forbidden luxury that is Jane's chair.

Flan-tastic!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Please do as the man asks.


(Thanks to Josh for passing this along.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Snow!


We got another dusting of snow last night--maybe three, four inches. Just enough to make things pretty, but not so much that school had to be cancelled like it did in Duluth earlier this week--they got over 15 inches on Tuesday or Wednesday...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

When Christmas decorations go horribly, horribly wrong.


With all due respect to the lovely people that gave this to my parents (and really, they are lovely people, I mean that)...this is the most horrifying Christmas decoration I have ever seen.

It's one of those fiber-optic light dealies that seem to be in all the stores this year--the tips of Frosty's broom are fiber-optic lights, the bands on his hat are fiber-optic lights, and the rings around his eyes are fiber-optic lights. All of which would be fine & dandy, if every ten seconds it didn't turn BLOOD RED and terrifying. Kind of takes away from the whole holly-jolly ambience.

Is it any wonder the cats keep trying to wrestle this thing to the ground? It's like Jack Frost, but without all the laughs.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

This is what passes for a scandal around here.


Imagine my surprise when I saw a story connected to the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in nearby Hayward headlining on MSN.com today...there is quite the little scandal unfolding down there about a long-standing "world's largest muskie" title that may have been fraudulently obtained back in the 1940s. This is what passes for a scandal around here.

What I find especially amusing is that this isn't apparently just big news around here (it's been in all the local papers quite a bit)--it apparently qualifies as national news now, too. I hadn't realized that anyone outside of the top half of Wisconsin even knows what a muskie is.
--------------------------------
Seeing that picture of that glorious fish-shaped museum reminds me of a more innocent time in my life...the summer of 1998, my 2nd back from college. I was working a crappy job as a summer hand for a gas pipeline (no, really), where I spent most of my days listening to a 50-something guy named Zippy talk about his Beanie Baby collection and mowing the lawn with a push-mower while dressed in mandatory hardhat, goggles, ear plugs, and steel-toed boots. (Again, really. Wait, let that mental image wash over your brain...there. Now we can move on.) On the weekends, my parents would only allow me to travel within a 60-mile radius of Ashland, with the exception of Duluth, which remained off-limits (this was back in the days when they were still scared to drive over the Blatnik Bridge).

So, my friend Emily and I made it our mission to keep ourselves entertained that summer by keeping within that 60-mile radius...and touring what came to be known as the "Big Stuff." It started out with a day trip to Ironwood Michigan, and our pilgrimage to THREE destinations on our burgeoning "Big Stuff" list: The World's Tallest Indian (standing at 52 feet tall in the middle of a residential neighborhood), the Giant Ski-Boy, and, of course, the local Big Boy restaurant. And it just kept snowballing after that...in the end, it was fairly alarming how many large fiberglass objects are perched within this 60-mile radius in the middle of nowhere. Big fish, big apples, big loons, big "Indians," big everything.

Ah, those were the days...maybe one of these days I'll find my "Big Stuff" pictures & scan them in. I seem to recall something about a giant goat somewhere...it is crucial that such epic tales not be lost to the ages.

Friday, December 09, 2005

But who'll get there early and count the balls?




I hate to be the bearer of bad news...but...well, this is SHOCKING news--simply SHOCKING! I got to my friend
Sarah's house for bingo on Wednesday night, we got started with the bingo playing, and then one of the dippy hosts stopped to announce that next week will be the LAST BINGO TV BROADCAST...EVER! Yes, that's right--the show is being cancelled. And since it's the only show on the channel, I reckon that means that the channel's being cancelled, too. Woe onto us. And woe onto the soon-to-be-umemployed former theater majors hosting it, too, and this close to the holiday season at that. Maybe they can go find last-minute jobs as elves at those get-your-picture-taken-with-Santa things in the mall.

The only good news is that next week's final show will mean that the $32,000 jackpot will have to be given out, finally, so dammit I really need to get my head together next week and pay attention when they're calling the numbers out. People laugh, but really my B.A.D.D. (Bingo Attention Deficit Disorder) is no laughing matter, especially not when there's 32 grand in question. Whatever will we do with our Wednesday nights after that, though? I suppose we'll have to take up drinking instead...see, this is how it all starts, you take away the younguns' bingo nights, and all hell breaks loose.

On a bingo-related note, we keep seeing commercials for this guy's fitness tapes during the commercial breaks...and oh my god. His head, it just does not fit with his body...even if he got a haircut, he'd still look goofy. His face looks just like my screenwriting professor in college, too, making it all the more eerie and gross.

(I HIGHLY recommend his photo gallery...hahahahahhaha!)


Thursday, December 08, 2005

It's not the cold, it's the wind chill. Wait, no, it IS the cold.



I was up in Duluth on Monday, just in time to see the very beginnings of the ice forming on the bay up there. Before the inlets along Lake Superior's shore freeze (some go faster than others--for example, by Ashland, the bay's already frozen, because it's one of the more shallow & sheltered areas on the water), a layer of what looks like steam floats & rushes over the top of the water for a few days, as all the temperatures mingle and the very first cracklings of ice form across the water's top. It's pretty cool to watch. Literally.



Here, you can see the swirling better...