Sunday, September 30, 2007

Midnight Basketball for Seals

...or maybe just midnight bowling.

Our Prelate to the Primates has posted an alarming bit about juvenile seal delinquency. In the spirit of the highly successful midnight basketball program, we here at The Scratching Post call for immediate federal funding for Seal Midnight Bowling Leagues.

Like this. Only darker.

Shenandoah Deer

On Thursday I took my convertible PT Cruiser up into the Shenandoah National Park and zorped around the twising, winding Skyline Drive. Along the way, I stopped to photograph some of the local ruminants who were busy munching away.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Space, There Are No Tow Trucks

Convertible PT Cruiser

I rent from Dollar every chance I get. Probably because of this, they keep giving me upgrades for free right at the counter. This time was the best ever because they gave me a convertible PT Cruiser during some spectacular weather in Virginia.

My trusty steed.

With the top down, it kind of looks a little like a VW bug, don't you think? In any case, it was great fun to drive. I took it all over God's creation, too. On Thursday, my meetings ended at about noon, so I blasted up into Shenandoah National Park and zapped through the winding turns of Skyline Drive, making the fallen leaves dance like it was a car commercial.

My only complaint is the same one I have with almost all Chrysler products. With the top up, the thing has blind spots on either side behind the driver so large that you could miss a semi as you're trying to change lanes. Luckily, I had the top down almost all the time, so this was never a problem. Other than that, I really liked the car. The controls are laid out better than any other car I've driven. It was responsive and comfortable, too. The automatic ragtop controls worked like a charm every time. It's hooked into the speedometer somehow, so you're prevented from trying to raise or lower the top at high speeds. No parachute action for you!

I got some good photos of deer while in Shenandoah Park. I'll post those later.


My arms are tired, boy I just flew in. Har har har. On with the show.

On this week's cross-country trip, I got window seats on two of my four flights. I managed to come across some great clouds to photograph. I'll have to admit that when I resized them for uploading to blogger, I also played with the contrast and intensity to make the sky bluer and the clouds' features more dramatic. The plane's windows were kind of scratched and they added a gray filter to the image so I think I made the pictures closer to real life.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Something Needs to be Done About Classroom Discipline Carthage in the year 400 A. D.

Right now, I'm reading St. Augustine's Confessions. St. Augustine made his living as a teacher and lived around 400. In Confessions, he talks about leaving his teaching job in Carthage...
...the most important reason, and almost the only one, was that I had heard that the behavior of young students at Rome was quieter. Discipline was stricter and they were not permitted to rush insolently and just as they pleased into the lecture-rooms of teachers who were not their own masters. In fact, they were not admitted at all without the master's permission. At Carthage, on the other hand, the students are beyond control and their behavior is disgraceful. They come blustering into lecture rooms like a troop of maniacs and upset the orderly arrangements which the master has made in the interest of his pupils. Their recklessness is unbelievable and they often commit outrages which ought to be punished by law, were it not that custom protects them.
Kids these days!

Update: For more theological theorizing, visit this week's Catholic Carnival.

I've Been Profiled!

...Ronin profiled, that is.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hiding Easter Eggs in Weekly Status Reports

Have you ever read your organization's weekly status reports? Has anyone? Personally, I have no idea if any of the gallons and gallons of prose that gets churned out is ever seen by human eyes. I propose an experiment to find out.

Hide Easter Eggs in your status reports.

For those of you who don't play video games, Easter Eggs are little goodies inside the game that can be unlocked by pressing certain codes into the game controller or by accomplishing some task. In the status reports, it would amount to simply making things up. Here's one possibility.
We looked all week for the missing data and eventually held a seance to find it. Unfortunately, we were not able to speak with anyone from the dead who spoke English, though we do believe we have made reliable contact with Charlemagne's horse. The blood stains from last week's explosion in the primate pens have been, for the most part, cleaned up.
Can you imagine what the CEO would do when they read that?

Play Blogger

Rick Lee turned me on to this one.

Play Blogger is a site that shows you the photos being uploaded to Blogger in real time. It's mesmerizing. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad 121, Bollinger 0.

So Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went to Columbia yesterday and got taken to task by some harsh language from the school's president, one Mr. Bollinger. Bollinger really went after him saying, "Mr. Ahmadinejad, you're an icky man who does nasty things. Stop it this instant!" Or something like that. It was a total rhetorical evisceration.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad, who helped architect Iran's strategy of using children to sweep minefields in the Iran-Iraq War, cowered in the corner like a little girl.


"You're a bad man and you've done icky things!"

Bollinger and his supporters have to be completely ensconced in a house of mirrors within their own egos to think that this was anything other than a massacre for Ahmadinejad. To think that a guy who helped engineer the slaughter of his country's own children for his own purposes is going to let some windbag university president yap at him and not come out the better for it is ludicrous. All Ahmadinejad wanted was some raw video to feed his sycophantic media across the globe.

He got that in spades.

He now has raw video of himself standing in front of American students defending the cause of the Palestinians, claiming that Iran is a victim of terrorism, hectoring the Yanks about interfering in the Middle East and posing as a supporter of democracy and human rights. He's got applause and smiles from the audience to mix in. That stuff is going straight to the Internet after some quick edits. It's going straight to the TVs across the Islamic world, too. Bollinger has no idea this is happening, he's so caught up in his delusions of grandeur.

The cameras of The Scratching Post caught it all on tape.

This one wasn't even close. This was USC vs. St. Mary's School for Girls. It was a 121-0 rout. Bollinger is so dumb he'll go through the rest of his life thinking he really smacked Ahmadinejad around, all the while giving Ahmadinejad some great raw video clips for propaganda.

What a moron.

Update: Argh! I made a grammatical error in the opening titles. I must have slept through English in college. Of course, it looks like President Bollinger slept through History, so I guess we're even.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Slow News Day

After I let our Maximum Leader out at 3:30 (giving her a snack first, of course) I managed to get back to sleep. I slept in later than normal, but still had some time for a cup of coffee (just one!) and a chance to peruse the WSJ and the blogosphere for some inspiration.


I could write a politics post, but those are like marshmallows. You can do a ton of them easily, but they're bad for you. Instead, I went through my referrals on SiteMeter, found an old Friday Ark, located that week's Circus of the Spineless and scoped out some of the entries.


Usually I steal a photo from one of those posts and then link to it, but this one is so beautiful and so unusual that I thought it to be bad form. Instead, I will just link to it and say,


Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Don't Get It

About fifteen minutes ago, I saw a little face peering at me through the front door. Knowing it was our Maximum Leader, I opened the door to let her in. For the last fifteen minutes, here's what I've seen at the front door.

Maybe the folks at this week's Carnival of the Cats can explain it.

My Take on the Jena 6

Our Archbishop of Texas has written a couple of posts on the latest racial spasm in the US. Here's my take on it.

To learn more about this fellow, go here.

Our fascination with the Jena 6 is a sad commentary on parts of our society. Doesn’t it look like the kind of devotional that some give to shadows on billboards that look like the Virgin Mary? There is a faith-based orthodoxy for some in this country that racism is everywhere. The Jena 6 is like a sign from the heavens that their faith has been rewarded and so they flock to the site to worship the event. Meanwhile, things that challenge this orthodoxy are ignored.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Post Storm Sunset

One of the key ingredients in a good sunset is good clouds. After our little squall today, we were left with terrific clouds proceeding across the sky at a stately, unhurried pace. They gave us an excellent sunset tonight. It would have been a good candidate for a video, but I wasn't going to be around to nurse the camera.

Castor and Pollux watch the clouds slide by as the sun sets into the Pacific.

Frugal Videography

I haven't had the ability to make home movies for a long time. It's something I've been wanting to do, but never had the cash to get back into it. Recently, because of my frugal ways (mostly using the Dave Rasmey cash envelope system), I was able to afford a low-end video camera, the Canon ZR-800. With that and a few things I already had around the house as well as some very inexpensive software available on the web, I was able to produce videos like this.

Here's my video development process.

It took a while to figure out the whole chain, but I ended up with something that produces excellent videos for very little money.

I would be happy to share what I've learned with anyone who wants to leave a comment or send me an email. The key part of this process was learning how to use the TiVo to digitize my videos and get them to my computer. The ZR-800 can do this by firewire, but I don't have a firewire port on my PC and it would cost money to buy a firewire card and cable, so I didn't do it. With some searching on the web, I found the trick to capturing the video off of the TiVo's A/V input jacks and from there I was home free.

When I was first saving up for a video camera, the one I wanted was the high end Sony Handicam that stored the videos to a hard drive. It cost about three times as much as the Canon. It had bells and whistles that were enticing, but in the end I decided that I could do almost as much with the Canon. The key feature for me was optical zoom. That was something the camera had to do well, no matter what. The Canon has 35x optical zoom, about the same as the Sony. All of the digital features of the Sony are now done by the video processing system shown above.

The end result is great videos for about 1/3 the price. Pretty cool, no? For more pretty cool posts on how to live well while spending less, visit this week's Festival of Frugality.

Friday, September 21, 2007

For the Arizona Cheesehead

The Arizona Cheesehead was one of the very first blogs to link to me. She's a Jimmy Buffet fan, too. Every time I see storm clouds out on the Pacific, I think of the Buffet song, Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season. It starts with "Squalls out on the Gulfstream, big storm's comin' in soon..." Every time I think of that line, I think of her.

With that in mind, I made this video for her from our sunset tonight as some clouds threatening rain malingered off the coast. Enjoy, Cheesehead.

Why Doesn't Anyone Say "Thank You?"

Every week The Modulator hosts the Friday Ark. He posts links to all kinds of animal-related blog posts. If you send yours in on Friday, you'll see the link go up within hours. He must be checking his email fairly often to catch the links that fast. If you read the comments of his Ark posts, you'll find people leaving their links there, but you won't find more than one or two notes of thanks. The Arks are typically 20-40 links long, too.

How come no one says "thank you" to him?

Here's this week's Friday Ark. If you like the posts, even if one of them isn't yours, a "Thanks!" might be in order.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Taking Kids on a Field Trip now Requires a Background Check

This year, my daughter's school is requiring that any parent that wishes to drive the kids on a field trip be fingerprinted and undergo a background check. We also have to watch a 20 minute video on God only knows what. It's probably something like, "Human sacrifices: should you participate?" or "Driving with children: can you avoid killing them all?"

It's certainly understandable that these precautions are being taken. During a field trip last year, I was driving a car full of kids when I received a call from the principal on my cell phone. Before the call faded, I thought I heard something like, "Please kill all the kids in the car ahead of you." Here's what happened.

Also, many fathers who pick up their kids at the school like to come in full Viking battle dress. There are frequent slaughters (followed by the inevitable pillaging) at our school.

A friend of mine cheerfully gives directions to the fourth grade classrooms before he disembowels this man.

Yep, I bet we're a lot like your school. It's no wonder we need this kind of protection. It's hard to believe that years ago there were no cell phones, no pagers, no text messaging, no fingerprinting, kids walked to school, kids rode their bikes around the neighborhood and car seats weren't designed to withstand direct hits from Exocet missiles.

It's amazing we ever survived.


My neighbor across the street is an Italian fellow in his 80s. When he was a boy back in the old country, he used to lead his donkey from the grape fields to the wineries bringing the grapes to the vintners. He is the very picture of the classic Italian man. His wife of 50+ years is Mexican and has similar traits from her old country. They're an unforgettable couple.

As an aside, if you ever go and visit them, you must go armed. Armed with gifts, that is. It is absolutely impossible to leave their house without carrying something out with you. No matter how strong your protestations may be, you will leave with a bottle of wine, some cut flowers, some food (and what food it is, too!) or something like that. You must strike preemptively with a gift of your own if you are to leave without guilt.

The wine they give you has a particular charm because the man makes it himself. He buys grapes in Escondido and brings them home, still on the stems in bunches. He's got a hand-cranked grape plucking device that pulls the grapes from the stems and then there's a few more steps straight from the old country to get the delicious grape juice into a vat the size of a small hot tub to begin the fermentation process.

He buys enough grapes to fill a full-size pickup truck


After a few months, he ends up with a room full of bottles of outstanding wine which he then gives to visitors. It's like having a little bit of Italy across the street.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast There, Mateys!

Arrr! It be Talk Like a Pirate Day today. So batten down yer hatches and prepare to buckle your swashes! Fairly warned be ye, says I!

The greatest pirate of all time: Errol Flynn as Captain Blood.

Update: For those of you whose swashes still aren't buckled and would prefer not to walk the plank, here's a quick lesson on how to Talk Like a Pirate.

World of Good, Children in Crisis Style

Welcome back to another World of Good (WOG) entry here at The Scratching Post. I've taken an unwanted sabbatical from these, but I think you'll find that my return to WOGging is with a bang. Children in Crisis (CIC) is that good.

CIC seeks to provide a stable, loving home for children who have been taken from severely abusive families in Northwest Florida. There, the foster care system is severely overtaxed and CIC will provide an additional resource for the state's social workers to house children who are fresh out of very bad circumstances. In order to meet this need, St. Simon's-on-the-Sound Episcopal Church and Shalimar United Methodist Church is creating Children's Neighborhood, an emergency shelter for infants, toddlers and young children.

As you read their story, what jumps out at you is how the volunteers from these churches saw that these children were in desperate situations and needed a safe and stable place to go. The folks of CIC put together this video that describes what they do and how they got started.

According to their most recent newsletter, Children's Neighborhood is well on its way to completion.
By fall 2007, we’ll have the capability to help with the severe shortage of foster homes in our community and address the urgent need of an emergency shelter for infants, toddlers and young children. At present, children are being placed in over capacity foster homes, placed out of their county, moved from foster home to foster home and siblings are frequently separated. The Children’s Neighborhood is being built on a 20 acre site made possible by a long term charity lease from Okaloosa-Walton College.
Florida doesn't lack for enjoyable recreational opportunities. There's plenty of fun to be had fishing, boating, going to Disneyworld and lots more. It looks like the people of CIC have found an opportunity to have the most fun of all: helping tiny tots who have nowhere else to turn. At the end of the day, I'll bet they're the happiest folks around. Stop by the CIC website and see if you agree. There you will find plenty of ways you can help, no matter where you live. In any case, I'm sure you'll agree that they're doing a World of Good.

For more WOG posts and an explanation of why we WOG, check out this post.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Something Needs to be Done About These Raccoons

We're still under a raccoon siege here at the 'Post. We stay buttoned up all night because the raccoons still visit the neighborhood. You can tell, because they're digging holes in everyone's yards looking for grubs. Meanwhile, I can't seem to explain the situation to our Maximum Leader. She's used to going outside and playing at night. Staying inside is so boring and when she gets bored, she eats.

Last night she woke me up at 2AM to feed her and play with her. She got a snack and I tried to ignore her, but she wandered around the house ripping at things. She didn't go after the furniture because she's a very good cat, but she went after any books or papers that were within reach.

I can't say as I blame her. I'd be bored silly if I was cooped inside during my normal waking hours, too. I've just got to find a solution for the raccoon problem or we're all going to be shouting and meowing at each other.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This Week on Survivor: A Three Mile Walk!

On Saturday I joined some folks from my son's high school and participated in a 3 mile walk to raise money for the American Heart Association. I'd never done one of these before and I had a great time. I spent the walk with a local building contractor and learned quite a bit about his business and how things are going for him. One of the more interesting anecdotes was that during last year's rapid rise in steel prices, he watched bids become obsolete as he built. Costs for raw materials that he had used in his estimate rose by 20-30% in the process of construction so when it came time to buy them, he was eating his profits to make the purchases.

In any case, what surprised me the most was the amount of support personnel for the walk. There were juice stations, portable toilets, bands, loudspeakers and paramedics all over the place. All for a 3 mile walk! I walk 3 miles just dorking around Mission Bay on a lark. After seeing all of the emergency preparations, I wouldn't have been shocked to have found a fully operational field hospital at the bend of the first turn. It was ridiculous.

Just to be safe, I have one of these follow me every time I walk to the mailbox.

What a load of sissies we've become! I suppose we have the trial lawyers to thank for this. I would much rather have had the Heart Association save the money for heart disease research than have them spend it on hovering Life Flight helicopters and a temporary morgue.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My First Sunset Video

I stayed up longer than I wanted to doing this one, but I'm relatively happy with it for a first try. I could point out all the imperfections I see in it, but instead I'll just share it with you.

It's a Mexican Prison Food Fiesta!

Tonight I decided to use some odds and ends I had in my pantry, fridge and garden. I cut up three pieces of bacon, cooked them in a deep skillet and then removed the cooked bacon. In the remaining bacon grease, I sauteed a chopped onion and some pressed garlic. Once that was limp and cooked, I added a can of refried beans, a can of diced tomatoes, some oregano from my garden, a bit of mild salsa and some hot sauce. Once it was hot, I put it over some steamed, plain, white rice.

¡Ay carumba! It was delcious!

Come and get yer vittles, boys!

Tampa Bay 31, New Orleans 14

Sickening. Just sickening.

A Brief Note About Pay Per Post

I just did a Pay Per Post ad and was glancing through the remaining opportunities when I came across one that offered a hefty payout, but included this restriction: "We would PREFER you NOT to disclose that this is a paid post."

What does that do to the integrity of a blog? If I'm blogging about some product or another and I don't tell you I'm being paid to do it, doesn't that corrupt the rest of my writing from there on out? And how obvious would that be, anyway? "No, really, guys, I'm totally in love with my new SewerVac. I've never had such a clean sewer line. It hardly ever gets clogged up and fills the lower two floors of my house with raw sewage now that I'm using SewerVac!"

Uh, I don't think so.

So just what is the Pay Per Post client who doesn't want you to be honest with your readers selling? Their product or your soul?

Like a kid in a Candy Store

This is a Pay Per Post ad. But I would have done it anyway for reasons that will become obvious.

This is my baby.

I'm almost ready to pull the engine and transmission whereupon I shall rebuild the transmission and check the engine for corrosion before I reassemble it. I might even rewire the electrical system.

As I spend more time in my garage, I find I want it to be more conducive to work. I've got my stereo system and all, but I really want better access to my tools, a better way of storing sporting equipment and a tidier way to stash bicycles, skateboards, scooters, snorkeling gear and so forth.

Enter Car Guy Garage. Looking through their website gives me the same giddy feeling I got when I used to scope out the Sears Christmas catalogs in the 60s. Workbenches, storage solutions, small refrigerators, pegboard, they have it all. Just like the Hot Wheels ads I used to drool over at Christmas time when I was a wee lad, picking out my favorite item from their inventory is very, very hard. However, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I shall endeavour to do so. Let me just click through their products and...

Oh my. Oh my goodness.

Look at this.


I don't know what else to add. Car Guy Garage. The name says it all. Get all your garage accessories there and make the other guys in your neighborhood green with envy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A New Day Dawns at the 'Post

Yesterday I used some of the money I had been saving with all of the frugality tips I've shared and bought a low-end digital video camera. It's a Canon ZR-800. I picked it out because I've always liked Canon's optics and it had a 35x optical zoom. It required a firewire cable and card to transfer the movies directly to my PC, but being frugal, I did not buy them. Nor did I buy the expensive tapes or long life batteries.

I did, however, get the 4 year warranty from Best Buy. It protects me from accidental destruction of the camera and will give me the confidence to use it in unusual and hazardous situations.

In order to get the videos from the camera to the PC, I followed the instructions found here and hooked it up to my TiVo. Using TiVo Desktop and Video ReDo Plus, I had a way to get the data to my PC without buying anything else.

The results were truly glorious. Here's my first test movie with the camera.

The sky's the limit now.

Update: I threw this one at the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats because it had a video of our Maximum Leader. Was that gratuitous? Let me know in the comments.

The Pressure's Too Much!

In the last two days, I've received comments from two of the IMAO bloggers, Harvey and Spacemonkey. Add to that the very nice things that jimmy has been saying in the comments and now I feel the pressure to perform.

"Blog, darn you, blog!" yells my subconscious. "Come up with something witty! Clever! Erudite! Just sit there and make funny farm animal noises if you have to, but do something!"

It's all too much for me, I tell you. I can't take the strain, the anxiety, the fear of a bad blogging performance. I think I need to go lie down for a while and try to relax.

Ahhhh. That feels better. Hold all my calls, Jacob.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Apple Gives China the Stick to Beat it With

Engadget has pointed out the development of the first iPod Nano clone from China. Like that's a surprise. Only in the dim bulb minds of people embracing multicultural moral equivalence was this a shock. China and the US are not the same. Apple gave the design for the Nano to a Chinese company to make them and now it looks like that design somehow made it's way into the hands of another Chinese company.

Well, duhhh. What did you think was going to happen? News flash to the multiculturalists: China is a kleptocratic dictatorship. They don't care about the environment, they don't care about laws and they certainly don't care about the soul-patch wearing, ultra-hip, self-important twits at Apple.

It's, like, so cool to be making videos about global warming on my Mac, dude. Like, working with the Chinese makes us totally in tune with the people who...wait a minute! My shoes are missing!

Next time, try working in a country that hasn't built itself on theft, slavery and the obliteration of its ecosystem.

Will You Play Legos With Me?

"I'm sitting on the plans I drew up for a way cool construction. After we build it, let's cruise over to the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats and see what's up with them."

The Democrats Double Down on Stupid

Being at least peripherally in the business, I pretty much knew what Petraeus was going to report before he showed up. Having listened to the talk shows and heard all the political wrangling, I figured that Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the rest would move away from their retreat and surrender positions and pick up some kind of attack on Bush and the Maliki government, but agree to leave the troops in Iraq.

It never occurred to me that they would stick to their retreat and surrender plan. It was just too stupid to contemplate and yet that's exactly what they've done. I don't know who is giving them military advice, but they need to be fired immediately. This slide alone from General Petraeus' presentation tells you everything you need to know about the war.

Anbar was supposed to be Al Qaeda's (AQ's) capital for the new Islamofascist Iraq. They've been almost entirely driven out of the province by a combination of Allied and Iraqi forces. This progress is irreversible under any conditions short of Reid and Pelosi's plans for retreat and surrender. Just like the capture of Antwerp in World War II, which gave the Allies a massive supply pipeline to feed their advance into Germany, the elimination of AQ in Anbar will lead inexorably to their defeat. You just don't come back from losses like this. In fact, I defy anyone to come up with a counterexample.

Once Antwerp had been opened to the big freighters and the Allies could move in large amounts of supplies, the game was over.

Time is no longer on AQ's side. The proof of this is that there were no spectacular attacks leading up to General Petraeus' report. AQ understands the PR nature of the war very well and they knew this report to Congress was coming, yet they could manage no massive bombing campaigns. Exhausted, depleted and on the run, life is just going to get harder and harder for them.

That's what makes the Democrats' call for retreat and surrender all the more inscrutable. This presentation gave them an out where they could have salvaged some of their honor and moderated their positions. Time isn't on their side, either. Even the MSM has begun to take note of improvements in Iraq. As time goes on, more and more stories about the changes taking place in Iraq will surface and their position will become more and more untenable. Their current strategy makes no sense to me at all.

If someone can provide it, I'd love to see the explanation.

H/T: Thanks to Hot, Fresh, Now for giving me the link to the General's presentation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to Decide What to Blog About

If you've been blogging for a long time and the interest is waning, it might be worth going back through your old posts and looking for two things. One, which ones still make you smile? Two, which ones received comments that make you smile?

I discovered this by accident while mucking about with my SiteMeter statistics. A bunch of people had been directed by Google searches to some monthly archives. As I tried to figure out just what Google was directing them to, I noticed myself reacting to what I had written.

As I looked past week after week of World of Good posts, I kept thinking, "Man, do I miss those." For whatever reason, I just have not had the energy on Tuesday nights or Wednesday mornings to churn those out any more. Since they are not topical, I'm going to try to write three or four this weekend and have them ready to post so I can get back into the swing of it.

The second thing that struck me was the fun array of comments on this post about my ultra-cheap, but ultra cool stereo for my garage. I inserted one of my favorite Monkees tunes in it to let people know what Dr. Frankenstein's Stereo's inaugural song was. There were only a few comments, but they still made me smile.

Now all I need to do is bottle the inspiration that led to those...

Perhaps the Best Hillary Clinton Theme Song of All

I might even like this better than my suggestion, The Monkees' Auntie Grizelda.

From the comments on YouTube, I think this is the communists' East German national anthem.

Reading the WSJ Doesn't Mean You're Frugal

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal online had a page one poll asking at what price would gasoline make you cut back on other purchases. Here are the results as of this posting.

The correct answer is "at any price, gasoline causes you to cut back on spending." Money spent on one thing is not available for spending on something else. If the price of gas goes up and you don't change either your spending or driving habits, then where do you get the extra money to pay for the gas? Why, your credit card or your savings, of course! Either one has a limit.

If you're smart and you pay cash for everything, then the money for the gasoline comes out of your cash and it automatically changes your spending habits on everything else. Meanwhile, 27% of the poll participants from the WSJ website said they'd just keep spending, no matter what. Well, that explains the current mortgage mess. Even some of the WSJ readers are financial dunderheads.

For more frugality fun, check out this week's Festival of Frugality.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Texans Say Dey Gonna Beat Dem Saints?

...err, I don't think so.

Our Official Artist has called me out regarding the Texans-Saints game on November 18. I can't imagine that the spread will be anything less than 10 points in favor of the Saints. Yes, N'awlins looked pretty bad against the World Champions, but that's hardly a gauge of how they'll crush the hapless Houston Texans.

Bring it, baby. We'll be ready.

An Enormous Opportunity

Our Missionary to the Frozen, Northern Wastelands points us to this post discussing Iraq as an "enormous opportunity." How right that is!

I had a chance to interview coworkers who were candidates for the I MEF SCIAD position this week. These people were unreal. Many of them were former Marines who wanted to do their part and go back. Brilliant, hard working and dedicated, they were civilians volunteering for a job that would see them deployed repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan.

America is an amazing place. We have a lot to be proud of in the removal of a psychotic, fascist dictator and the nurturing of the first Arab democracy. I'm proud to be a very tiny part of that effort.

Blogging Will be About Light

I was going to post an explanation about my light and shallow blogging lately when I came across this video of light art.

Rather than explain my intellectual absence from this blog, I'll just show you this cool video.

This blog has become a passion with me and I am deeply grateful for my regular readers and commenters. I look forward to the day in the very near future when I can devote some more neurons to my posting. In the meantime, I'll be finding odds and ends to amuse you when you stop by.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I, for one, Welcome our new Jellyfish Overlords

My son was tasked to find an article in a science magazine for his biology class. We discovered one in a Discover magazine claiming that jellyfish were taking over the world.


Woke up With a Headache if you must leave a comment, please don't use any capital letters. I can't handle loud noises right now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Today's Inspirational Quote

...comes from Robert Frost.

"The best way out is always through."

I've been using this a lot lately.

Keeping Your Kids in a State of Fear

For those of you who don't watch The Half Hour News Hour, here's a clip from last night's show on a handy new product to make sure your children are raised in a state of fear.

I love it! When we took our trip to Wisconsin earlier this year, we got a tour of our ancestral lands by my 94 year old great aunt who showed us the path she used to walk to school every morning some 85 years ago. It was about three miles each way through farmland and forest. These days, parents won't let their kids walk four blocks.

As far as the show is concerned, having watched the last six episodes, The Half Hour News Hour always has a great opening segment with tiny fake news stories and a great closing with Dennis Miller. In between it's sometimes spotty, but last night it was pretty good from beginning to end. There was a great debate between a retired general and a bumper sticker writer as well and if I can find that, I'll post it, too.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

September Sunset

At our house, Autumn means more than just the start of the NFL season. It means the start of a period of great sunsets. Yesterday's was kind of a tease for future ones.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Osama is Channeling Hillary Clinton who is Channeling Team America

Osama's latest video (if that's really him) sounds almost exactly like a Hillary Clinton campaign speech which sounds a lot like a clip of the Film Actors' Guild (F. A. G.) from Team America: World Police.

Osama: America is the cause of the violence in Iraq. Corporations are influencing the politicians (even the Democrats!). The Middle East will be a happy paradise once the infidels leave.

Hillary: Invading Iraq caused more problems than it solved. Corporations are to blame for high medical costs. We can negotiate with the happy Islamofascist countries.

F. A. G.:
I'm not sure where one of them ends and the others begin.

StopTheACLU has an open trackback weekend going with some interesting posts. Check them out. So does Woman Honor Thyself.

Feline Alarm Clock

Having solved my previous insomnia issues (for the most part) through changes in diet, habits and the partial resolution of stressors, I am now experiencing a new kind of insomnia.



Between the raccoon siege forcing us to keep our Maximum Leader indoors all night and her new diet designed to prevent feline obesity, I'm getting woken up earlier and earlier every morning.

Friday, September 07, 2007


When can you just lay out, fully relaxed, if not on a Friday?

Well, maybe everyday if you're a cat.

The Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats can answer this question completely.

The Pareto Principle and Corporate Blogging

At my workplace, I have been evangelizing about blogging to the point where we now have about 30 blogs going. Recent discussions on how far our corporate blogosphere will take us towards an improved information distribution system have brought up objections like, "a large percentage of the population will never surf over the blogs and see what's been posted."

My response: So what?

The Pareto Principle is the formal name for the 80-20 rule. The Pareto principle states that for many phenomena 80% of consequences stem from 20% of the causes. For example, it's a fairly well-documented fact that most sales come from a small number of salesmen. For the bloggers and commenters where I work, we're going to find out that 80% of our traffic and comments come from 20% of our visitors. Furthermore, I think it's fair to suggest that 20% of our workforce will provide 80% of our visits.

What does all this mean? Well, it means that the visitors and commenters are the ones who are interested in providing the integrated solutions to our work problems, as evidenced by their desire to surf across the blogs and find out what else is going on. A large percentage of the workforce will be content to put in their 40 hour weeks, do a great job on their work and then go home. The fact that our hit counts won't ever top 30-40 hits a day for all but the most popular blogs is not indicative of failure. The fact that the information is now available to the 20% of the population that cares is success in and of itself.

Furthermore, even if your comments are coming from just a handful of readers, it does not indicate failure. Persistent access to your posts and comments is what matters. All you really want is your portion of those 20% who are passionate about our mission.

For some blogs, like our IT group's blog, we can expect to see days of massive hits. From time to time, they will post things that will be of interest to the 80% of the workforce who does great work, but whose interests lie elsewhere. Other than that, it's the access to the information from people you would never come into contact with otherwise that is the great payoff for blogging and commenting.

Speaking personally, I'm glad we started this. Already I've expanded my professional network through the blogs that come from units located far away from me. To me, that's the payoff right there.

For more good stuff, visit the Carnival of Better Blogging.

Caffeine Retrenchment

After living caffeine-free for a few weeks, I've gone back to one cup of coffee in the morning. That little spike of energy is just too good to pass up. Without it, I find myself unable to write or focus early in the morning. Apparently, the activation energy required for blogging is slightly higher than my normal, uncaffeinated levels. I'm still drinking a lot less than I used to and I really feel better because of it, so the experiment wasn't a total waste.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Why I'm for Fred Thompson

This is how a normal, grown-up human speaks about the issues facing the next president.

This is such a breath of fresh air. Hillary inhabits a world that hasn't existed for decades. She talks about economic hardships that don't exist and makes promises that defy mathematics. Mitt Romney talks at us like we're children. Rudy is riding a single event into the ground. I hope Fred sticks with this style of communication. I hope his campaign is successful, if for no other reason than that it might finally drive a stake through the heart of the 365 day a year political campaigning that the Clintons unleashed on us years ago.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Fred Thompson is Running

I didn't see anything in this that I objected to and a lot that I liked.

H/T: Stop the ACLU

Finally, a Meaningful Presidential Poll

Driving in to work this morning, I heard Laura Ingraham talking about a Today Show poll asking, "Which presidential candidate would you like to drive cross country with, Hillary Clinton or Rudy Giulliani?"

What a stupid question. The answer, of course, is Hillary. You wait until she has to make a rest stop and while she's in the ladies' room (assuming that's the one she decides to use) you make a cell phone call to a friend. When you get out into Death Valley, you pull over and abandon the car with the harpy still in it and hook up with your friend who is waiting there for you, taking the keys to your car. By the time Madam Ratchet Jaw stops fogging up the windows with her endless, idiotic blather and finds that you have left the car, you'll be long gone.

After that, the question the Today Show would ask would be, "Would you pick up Hillary Clinton if she was hitch hiking?" to which the answer would be a resounding "No!"

In any case, the whole poll was a useless waste of time. I would like to offer a much more intellectually substantial one for each of the parties.

Democrats: Which presidential candidate would you like to see slathered in chum and fed to a walrus?

There are two Americas. One with hungry walri and one without. Which one do you live in?

Republicans: Which presidential candidate would you like to see shoved, face-first, into a beehive?

I'm sure the bees want to hear your position on corporate taxation.

Place your votes in the comments.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

George Bush is Dracula

Forget all that George Bush is Hitler nonsense; The New Republic sent me a link and summary for an article claiming that President Bush is manipulating our subconscious.
What if everything you thought you knew about politics was wrong? What if, rather than being a struggle for power among individuals and parties with different agendas, it was really a struggle for your subconscious?

That is the question that John B. Judis's eye-opening cover story asks this week. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Judis shows how voters are susceptible to politicians who can manipulate their fear of death. Obviously, we all want leaders who can defend us, but only recently have social scientists begun to understand how a fear of our own mortality guides many of our political choices without our ever realizing it--and how politicians like George W. Bush can, and have, tapped it to further their own policies. It's a fascinating essay that will change the way you look at the Bush administration, the war on terrorism, and perhaps all of politics.
Don't look into his eyes! He'll put you under his control and soon you'll be paying more for crappy public education!

Peter Scoblic, the lunatic executive editor of TNR, has taken Bush Derangement Syndrome to a new level. Soon there will be articles in TNR suggesting that President Bush sent hordes of bats to attack blacks in New Orleans.

Sunset Clouds

Here at the offices of The Scratching Post, we can always tell if we're going to have a good sunset by the clouds. The clouds are really what make a good sunset. With a low haze, all you get is a muddy sunset. On a clear day, you get a blazing ball of red-orange dipping into the Pacific. On nights like last night, you get some pretty spectacular images. Click on this one for a much better version.

Castor and Pollux silhouetted against the sunset sky.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Are you Sure it's not Dinner Time?

It's too hot to do much today here in San Diego so I'm scoping out one of my favorite new cookbooks, Terry Thompson's Eating Southern Style. I just came across a recipe for Fried & Braised Cabbage with Country Ham.

In lolcat-speak, "Want."

I'll make it later today (if I can wait that long) and take some photos to foodblog it.

Update: It came out very nicely. It's very easy to make and provides a one dish meal. Essentially, you brown potatoes and ham in bacon grease and then cook cabbage in the mixture with some brown stock, vinegar and brown sugar. Here's what it looked like.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


After our Maximum Leader recovers from yesterday's feline celebrations, she'll wander over to this week's Carnival of the Cats and see what's up. Why don't you try it, too?

A Caffeine Counterattack on Insomnia

So last night, I continued my bout with insomnia. My stupid body just refuses to cooperate and I woke up at 1:45 AM this morning.

This means war.

I started this morning with 2 cups of coffee. Later, I took a brisk, 4 mile walk around Mission Bay while it was very hot and humid. Later today I'll play some basketball and lift weights accompanied by a Diet Coke or two. I've had quite enough of this insolence on the part of my body and this time I mean to put an end to it.

By the time the caffeine has stripped my body of whatever energy the sun and exercise leaves, I'm going to crash so hard that it's going to feel like I was hitting a wall in a Chinese sedan at 40 MPH.

Me at 8 PM tonight.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Blogging Will be Light

...because I'm up to my eyeballs in paperwork this weekend. In the meantime, check out some outstanding insect photography by clicking on this image.

Image used without permission from the Rurality blog.