April 29, 2005

Photo Friday: Fancy.

I missed Photo Friday last week, so you get three for one today. I know, it should be two for one. But here are three. Be happy about it. For this week's challenge, Fancy, here are some photos of the Moleskine Cahiers I bought last month for the purpose of creative writing. I already wrote about that. I chose these for the Fancy challenge because, come on. They are fancy copybooks (as we call 'em in the US) that are just called by the French name for cheap notebook -- that, and they say MOLESKINE on the cover. Yes, they're nice, but I doubt mine would hold up better than a $2 copybook from the university bookstore. The cover is not even very thick. I allowed myself to be suckered into purchasing them because I decided they would get me to write things other than stuffy academic essays. In Hemingway's The Garden of Eden, the male lead is repeatedly referred to as writings his stories in "cahiers," using wooden pencils from the box of them he locks in his suitcase with his stash of cahiers. Despite my Space Pen affection and my own suckling at the Pilot G2 teet, and despite my ownership of at least one nice fountain pen, I love wooden pencils. Especially a nice cedar Mirado Black Warrior, Dixon Ticonderoga Millennium, or my currect favorite, the Mirado Classic. I've been contemplating launching a pencil blog this summer, when things slow down a bit. Anyway, I willingly got pulled into the Moleskine hype, as if Cahier has always been a specific brand like Moleskine has. Really, they're just two types of notebook, which is why I don't understand the complaints about supposed Moleskine knock-offs. I know, the knock-offs are inspired by the success of the Moleskine branded notebooks and are usually inferior, but Modo&Modo didn't invent the idea of a pocket notebook with elastic and a pocket anymore than we can assume that Hemingway used a Moleskine because he carried a small notebook in his pocket around in Paris during the 1920s. I even scored some cool stickers with mine, though I totally lost them. Hell, I lost two of the notebooks for a few weeks. I wish they came in packs of one, but then Modo&Modo couldn't put such a price-tag on them. And then they wouldn't be Moleskines. Not that we only buy Moleskines because they're practical or affordable. It's the fancy factor sometimes, too, no? I mean, look how my simple notebooks came wrapped from MoleskineUS. Dead sexy.

April 28, 2005


In case you haven't noticed, I installed one of those little Sitemeter dealies last week. I was curious enough to see what sorts of Google searches bring folks to my humble weblog this morning, and I found out something that I should be ashamed of but which I really just think is funny enough to make me pee my PJ pants: If you search for "uninteresting shit" on Google, mine is the first site that pops up. Come on, that's funny.

April 27, 2005

Shaved horizon.

I have photos of myself during my first year of college with shoulder-length auburn hair. No kidding. I suppose it was some kind of rebellion. In my Catholic high school, we could not have long hair. No earrings. No facial hair at all. We were supposedly being preparing for the "business world" in which ponytails and beards are totally unacceptable. Still, those of us who could actually grow a nice looking beard were still required to be clean-shaven at all times. They messured our damned sideburns, for poopy sake. Etc. You get the picture. (No, I'm not posting photos of me in long hair. They're in Baltimore, anyway, so I can't exactly scan them for posting purposes. Oh darn.) Anyway, I was walking to the car last week one day, and my hair was stuck to my forehead in the 80-degree weather. My locks have been growing since June, with nothing to stop my expanding mop. I'm 25, and I know people younger than I am who are less lucky than I am in the hairline department. I thought I should appreciate having my hair while it's around. Nonetheless last week, I took out my nice chrome razor-thingy and went to work on my head. Nicely shaved and fuzzy. Very comfortable. Of course, a cold-front came through two days later. But I usually have long hair in the summer and a shorn head in the winter. At least I did it correctly this year. Summers in extreme Southern Illinois are nothing if not beastly (though not as bad as Gary has it in Houston). No to mention the shower-time reduction. And that's always a plus for someone who usually takes two showers a day. Like me, for instance.

April 26, 2005

In praise of NyQuil.

You know, I have been told over and over again that cold medications make being sick worse, since they prolong it. Snot and coughing are the body's ways of getting rid of the cold, I'm told, and I'm getting in the way of my own wellness by taking medicine. Right. I have tested this crappy hypothesis and decided it's just wrong. NyQuil helps you sleep when being sick, snotting all over yourself and coughing up stuff would otherwise keep you awake. That much is true. And sometimes a nice 8 1/2 or 9 hour sleep session is exactly what you need. I think the drug helps in this case. Then again, I'm no doctor or nurse or scientist or anyone else who would know what he or she is talking about. That saying on the advertisement where the voice-over says that you will wake up "refreshed" is not quite true, though. I've been in a fog all day from that deep NyQuil sleep, with no drugs taken at all since last night. Still, the fog was not heavy enough to escape the coffee net, which is finely-woven and catches all but the heaviest blues. The coffee net took the fog outside and gave it to the cloudy day, leaving me to get plenty of work done. So when the day is done, I'm praising coffee, not a thick red sleep-drug.

April 25, 2005

Sick in spring.

Not sick of spring. I had a minor tickle in my throat last night. I knew what was coming. Minor sickness. And all that. Oh, well, it could be worse. I could have a real job or classes to go to or teach. Instead, I have two large-ish papers to put together in the next two and half weeks. More like two. I guess. So "having" to stay home today in my PJs didn't exactly throw a wrench into the work I needed to get done today. No other kind of heavy metal tool, either. I have hardly eaten a thing since yesterday, and I can't even stand to drink coffee. Neither are like me. I don't feel like doing anything, but that's totally like me. So there is some normalcy, you see. Is that a word? Cold-drugs are good and bad. On the plus side, I can stop coughing and dripping. Very good. On the other hand, there's the FOG. I have the fog. Well, I don't have it. It's a veil. Helmet. Glasses. Fuzzy screen for my eyes and ears and tongue and nose. Not my body, though. Everything is very feely-touchy-cold. Fleece and flannel pants are Okay, but don't actually touch me please. Not for a few days at least. No matter how buxom. Voluptuous. Or huggy. Need to work and sleep. Good to be alive. But flowers and greenery give me a headache today. Please some normal rain tonight and softness and quiet. No loud neighbors. Snow would be better, though. Snow would be soft and quiet. Like I said. No hope for that. Tea. More tea. The Ramones on the computer speakers. Maybe an episode of "La Femme Nikita" or two before bed. Cozy bed. Nice for sleeping. Chair hard. Butt hurts. Bed calling. NyQuil and French cookies. Mmm. Laters. Peace and alley 5000 to all my kids in Baltimore and beyond. And other things that I would never actually say.

April 23, 2005

Besides (post-green-cloud).

Uncle Henry reminds us that we have to take Nature as a whole, as put very well in "A Winter Walk." If you love spring in the Heartland, you're a bad lover if you don't take the storms, too. And who wants a bad lover?

April 22, 2005

Green cloud.

I will admit to being totally weather-obsessed lately. As anyone around Southern Illinois knows, spring here is tumultuous to say the least. There are constantly "strong storms" or "severe weather" in the local forecasts and via the Weather Channel's website. This is all new to me. In Baltimore City, the mountains knock around the storms that come through, so I can't say I ever even saw hail until my first spring in the "Heartland" last year. On the darker side, Maryland gets both tornados and hurricanes. I harbor some kind of fear of hail. It's always tempting to go and hide with the car under cover at school, to avoid the falling ice chunks. Last week, it hailed some small hail. I didn't go anywhere, since driving in a bad storm would be one of dumbest things I could do. The car was fine. Ford does use pretty nice paint, so little double-pea-sized hail didn't do any damage. Cape Girardeau (an hour away across the Mississippi River in Missouri) got a whole half-hour of hail and had some flooding. We were lucky here in Carbondale. Same thing happened today. According to the 6 o'clock news, several Southern Illinois counties got large hail and terrible winds. There were reports of "larger than golf-ball-sized hail" and even some "soft-ball-sized hail." That's crazy. The latter could actually hurt you, and I have had enough head injuries in my short lifetime thank you very much (I'll write about my forcepts birth one day; it's a funny story). In the field across from my little apartment, there was a green cloud that started to spin and seemed to be coming down toward the field. I don't know why a cloud would be green.* There has been so much pollen around here that our black car is actually green every morning. It brings to mind a line from "The Simpsons" where Homer begs, "Why does a bear need a crow-bar?" I went outside and snapped a few photos, and I had to brace with my leg to keep it from slamming shut in the wind. I heard the dude who works for our property manager saying that he'd never seen anything like that. And he's from around here; he told me that once. So I freaked out a little. We sped off in our little black car to get away from the green cloud and the trees near our apartment. There were already tree limbs all over the ground, like some meteorological battlefield scene. We were sitting still at one point, and the wind was blowing the car around on its suspension system. That's strong. The rain sounded like gravel hitting the side of the car, and it felt like some frat boys in PCP were trying to flip the car over but couldn't because they eat too much frat pizza. I figured, fuck it. I was supposed to be working hard today, but I was out worrying about some storm instead -- this after my compulsive weather-checking online these days. I literally dropped my pen and book and ran. How cowardly is that shit? The hell with that foolishness. So we went to the mall and had coffee and the type of vegan cookies I always enjoyed from the coffeeshop near Boston College back in the spring and summer of 2003 when I was a strict vegan. By the time we came outside again, the storm had passed. The car was still slick with pollen and dirt, so I assumed that it hadn't even rained that much. After hearing the reports of hail across the region, though, I got worried again. I went out after dinner and checked for hail damage. Yes, just like some little small-weinered dude who replaces his lacking unit with a car. That's sad, I know. I shouldn't let possessions own me. And all that. It's good to confess it here, I suppose. I should really stop being such a neurotic little baby. Despite all of this bad weather bullshit (would be a great title for something), here I am in a sweater and red flannel pants. It's cold. Very cold. There is a frost advisory for the area this weekend, and it doesn't even freeze most nights of the actual winter around here. I love cold weather, and cold weather for a weekend is even better, especially since Southern Illinois won't be seeing that again anytime soon. And to boot, my asshole neighbors aren't partying tonight. I should be in a much better mood than I am. [*I swear on the coffee gods, that photo is not altered at all. It's really that color, and Canons always do a nice job of capturing that.]

April 20, 2005

Who you is?

Tired of checking out the ten most recently updated blogs on Blogger, only to find that just two or three are actually written by humans and are about anything beside penis-enlargement, porn or weigh-loss through magical pills? Me, too. Blogger's fighting it. Happy about that? Me, too.

April 19, 2005

Fundamentals of the faith.

This came across our department listserv yesterday: an article on the true meaning of the term "fundamentalist Christian." While Catholics don't always fall into this grouping, we could all certainly use to read this short piece when they are picking a new pope for the world as I type this. Some folks have mentioned some of the author's points on this very blog, in comments to posts about religion or tolerance. It seems to hit home, it does. I think, if Jesus were alive and living in American, he'd think that Pat Robertson was a jackass. W.W.J.D.? He'd love everyone and want everyone to have the chance to express their love for other people; he'd want everyone to be able to marry whoever they want to. He'd tell us that wars are stupid if there's no immediate threat. What are we fighting, the Crusades again, only this time to spread democracy? W.W.J.D. about abortion rights? I don't know where he'd stand on the issue, but he certainly wouldn't stand outside of abortion clinics calling people baby-killers and sinners. That's hate speech, and he preached love, right? I saw some people on the side of a busy road in Maryland last summer with gigantic photos of dead fetuses that sorta looked like babies, and they were shouting that we were all evil and going to hell. For my part, I stuck my head out the window, told them they were "fucking sick" and drove my car a little too fast and a little too close to their picket line on the side of the road. I probably cut a bunch of people off on my way home after that, since I was angry and spreading it. Hate only breeds more hate, as it did in me that day. On a lighter note, W.W.J.D. about coffee? He'd drink too much of it and then blog about things he didn't really think about all that much. Wait, that's W.W.JohnnyDo~

April 18, 2005

Timbuk Who?

(Hopefully, the link works to view the rest of the comic here.) So I ditched my nearing the end of the term work yesterday afternoon to watch Fight Club. Near the end of the scene where Tyler and the Narrator have their first fight, when they are sitting on the curb passing a bottle of beer, I wanted one. So I went on to drink all of the beer in my fridge. Can't say how much or how many. So I guess that's quite a bit of beers. But that's Okay. Getting drunk on a Sunday afternoon is a luxury we don't always have. It's not the most evil thing to give in to it. I suppose. Now khakis on the other hand...

April 15, 2005

Photo Friday: Rest.

For this week's Photo Friday challenge, Rest. It's a kitty on an old bench outside of the Makanda Country Store from last summer. I know, after the last post, who'd think I post a photo of a kitty? Don't worry, it's not Mr. Kittensmootch or any of his offspring. It's really a re-posted photo from another post. Sorry to be lazy. I need to hit the post office and fast. I suppose you know why. My secret is to hit the tiny one in Makanda, rather than the riot in Carbondale. It's too nice of a day (and Friday to boot) for that mess.

April 13, 2005

Selfish blogging.

Check out this post from Frozen Toothepaste. He has got some good points there about the selfishness of personal blogs. They can get pretty me me me sometimes. Too often. Like the Kitty Bloggers and the Baby Bloggers. Who really cares what Mr. Kittensmootch or Baby does every single day? Publishing a post about something really cute Mr. Kittensmootch did or about a milestone in Baby's life is one thing. Even I can appreciate that. But recording the life of a feline or archiving a public list of every little outfit Baby wears is madness. No one really gives a shit if Baby wore purple pants today or if Mr. Kittensmootch took a shit in your underwear drawer. If you love Baby so much, pay Baby some more attention. Baby might put his little finger in the socket while you're fucking about on the internet. I though raising children was a full-time job, which is why I don't ever want any progeny. Seriously, though, sometimes I prefer the selfishness of personal blogs. Sometimes I think it's almost lazy when people have blogs that are totally politics/reviews/etc. Maybe not lazy, but not all that interesting. None of the author in there, and that's why we read blogs. At least why I do. I'm not saying that no one has a right to blog about Baby, Mr. Kittensmootch, Mrs. Woofcakes or anything else they want to. I am guilty of blogging about some pretty useless and uninteresting shit. I'm sure. Don't tell me, though. I'm deluding myself. Maybe we bloggers should consider whether the events and photos that we publish for the world to see are really interesting to other people. I know, there is someone somewhere who can find anything interesting. But come on. You know what I mean. I don't hate babies, though I'm not fond of cats and how they make my eyes swell shut if I touch them. Maybe we should show some restaint or common sense or something before we bare the boring parts of our lives for people to be burdened with. But then again, such considerations or rules would damage the spirit of blogging, i.e., the freedom to put whatever you want to on your blog. We forget that sometimes, and we want people to post what we feel comfortable with on their blogs, such as this instance of people forgetting that a blog is not a free-speech forum for anyone but the creator (props to A for not deleting the post; he is an awesome guy). What right do I have to tell someone to stop blogging about their baby or kitty or car or god or sexual disfunction? No one forces any of us to read anything that someone writes. I just like be an asshole sometimes. There are some great bloggers out there,* and there are a thousands pages of shit from not-so-good bloggers for each of them. Here's to another page of total shit. [*Including dozens that I link to and that didn't get randomly selected from my blogroll to paste in those there fancy coding acrobatics.]

April 11, 2005

Russian Space Pen, a gag.

This is extremely funny, though incorrect, along with the rumor that NASA paid for the development of the Fisher Space Pen and the rumor that the Russians – being more pragmatik – than the Americans, simply used pencils in space rather than spending millions of dollars trying to develop a pen that could write in space. I think the implication is that we were not far enough ahead of the Russians because of things like spending money on a pen that could write upside down. Mr. Fisher spent his own money on developing the Space Pen, and NASA never asked for it. He is a neat guy who likes to tinker with things, and that’s it. Same goes with the rumor about Russian space pencils. It’s simply not true. The Russians use Space Pens in space just like we do. The metal graphite in pencils poses a threat to equipment, and the Russians know that as well as we do. Now you know. But still, those space pencils are really funny.

April 09, 2005

Bandwagon from space.

Cause I know you wanna know where I live. (Click to enlarge the photo.) It seems that everyone is posting the image of where they live from space from Google's newest gear. So I will, too, lest I be a web-wall-flower, too, like I tend to be in real life. Real life. That's what this is a photo of. It is, after all, where I sleep and poop. Thing is, the red arrow points across the street from the little lane of tiny apartment buildings where I live. The yellow box is where I actually am when I am typing this. My little home. Green around here, huh?

April 08, 2005

Photo Friday: Plastic.

For Photo Friday: Plastic. I'm used to seeing trails on the East Coast marked with a blob of a certain color spray paint on trees. When I was a Boy Scout, the trails at our camp where called by their colors, not by where they led or began or meandered. The Blue Trail was where we went to smoke, so-called because of the color on the trees. It was not called the Behind the Pool Trail by anyone. I have not been there since my last year of college, but I believe that the C & O Canal trail in the Maryland mountains is marked with stumpy foot-high mile-markers that are colored a sort of dirty sangria red. Don't walk into one of those. Or try to sit on one. Some of the trails at Giant City State Park here in Illinois have these high-tech and flexible plastic trail markers, thus the photo. Do they have the elasticity to, say, throw a rock like a catapult at your old college roommate who is town for a visit? No, I tried. They are soft on the recoil. I suppose that's so that they won't knock you in your fellas if the person in front of you pulls it down on their way by, like a thorn bush to the groin. Safety first and all that. (Enlarge the photo to see a nice couple in the background.)

April 07, 2005

Template props.

I swear that I have never ever seen any blog anywhere on any server etc. that changes its look more than this one does. This time, I was inspired by Gary's Flow. I began with the Blogger Minima template, tweaked the code beyond recognition, and here it is, sans banner image. I like the trim, unsullied look of white for now. For now. You know I'll go nuts on something else before the summer hits. You know it. Expect it.

April 06, 2005

Leaving my mark.

People really like to leave their marks at Giant City State Park, from Civil War soldiers to rednecks, tourists and bored frat boys. While I am not brave enough, stupid enough, callous enough or strong enough to carve my name into the rocks of the Giant City, I did leave a mark in the park this weekend on one of the over-looks above the bluffs. To the "Mark Loves Ashley" and "Fuck Bush" tagging, I added my name with a Space Pen, lightly and in shakey capital letters. Honestly, my handwriting is better than that on paper, when my low blood-sugar is not making my hands shake. Promise.

April 04, 2005

Beer buzzed blandness.

I know. The template is horrible. It's a modified version of a very generic template. But I needed to get rid of the black. It's too nice and sunny around here now for that darkness. Hell, it's in the mid-70s. But I'm a little too...loose now to really mess with concocting a better template. Sam Adams Boston Ale (not the usual Lager) is a very nice treat today. I got up at 5:30 in the morning, to see my parents off before their long trip back to Maryland, and being awake before dawn like that it is not like me. If I see dawn, it's always before bed, with the growing trouble sleeping I've been experiencing lately. I was actually falling asleep trying to work. That's tired, man. And the beer doesn't help, I know. Anyway, maybe Wednesday, when I am hiding in the room where the computer is while my wife has her little women's group over, I'll come up with something better. Maybe then. We'll see.

More on Starbucks.

Again, from the INeedCoffee.com newsletter. Only this piece is short and interesting and not likely to piss anyone off. I pass up allegedly-organic sludge for good coffee from Starbucks at the university everytime I need a fix. Let [s]he who likes not a nice cafe' au lait made with Verona throw the first non-corporate coffee stone. If [s]he can find one anywhere.

April 01, 2005

Photo Friday: Hot.

For this week's Photo Friday challenge, Hot. I know what you're thinking: What is so hot about pencil shavings? Well, do you know how hot manually sharpening that many pencils makes a person who has a full French press of coffee in them? If not, do this. Get yourself a Bodum pot (8-cup model) full of French roast. Quickly, sharpen 24 Prismacolor pencils with a nice little KUM sharpener. You'll know, and you'll appreciate it and the smells and tastes and textures. And you'll sweat. Because you will get hot.