Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Fails of Spring

We all need to feel better about ourselves sometimes, to know that some people are dumber, more klutzy than we are.

So every month, I bring you a compilation of some of the sometimes new, sometimes old ways people find to be exceedingly stupid, to injure themselves, to humiliate themselves.

I bring you  the May, 2011 monthly edition of FAILS.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Progress at the House

Sometimes, when I'm discouraged because of a rain out, or a lack of time, or both, in getting things done, like I am this morning, it's worth it to see that I have made progress. As you can tell by the scene in front of my house in the two pictures in this post, I have more work to do, but I've definitely come along.

The first photo shows the scene last spring, when I was trying to build a wall. Next photo was taken recently, as I started to plant perennials and Jeff made major repairs to the deck. Much better.

Makes me want to go out there and do more work, if it would only stop raining. Next up: More plants, and we paint the house a darker green (note the samples on the wall of the house near the window on the right.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

More Damaging Storms in Vermont

This has been quite a year in Vermont weather. We've always gotten extremes, but this year it's one right after another. Flooding has been happening over and over again for more than a month now.
Menacing storm clouds gather over South
Burlington, Vermont Thursday.

This week, repeated thunderstorms have dumped hail as big as baseballs in the town of Duxbury, prompted rare tornado warnings, caused wind damage, and worst of all, caused some of the worst flash flooding the state has seen. The other night, thunderstorms repeatedly followed state Route 2 northeastward from central Vermont to the northeast corner of the state.

Damage was really bad in many towns, including Vermont's capital city of Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury, and especially Barre. In Barre, almost the whole city was covered in mud after the flood. Some streets had two feet of mud on them.  On the trashed Barre-Montpelier Road, piles of mud cleared from the road line either side of the busy route, like ugly brown snowbanks.
Threatening storm clouds over South Burlington,
Vermont on Thursday.

Hundreds of houses and businesses are damaged. The photos in this post are only a glimpse of what happened.

Today, the bad weather was supposed to wane. But they've extended the flash flood watches. Torrential thunderstorms are supposed to blossom again this afternoon, threatening us with anothe rround of wicked weather.

I'm at once fascinated and horrified by all of this. I like the excitement of big storms, but of course I hate even more intensely that people's lives are upended by all of this. Luckily, nobody has died in the latest round of storms. That's miraculous, considering the worst flooding hit at night, when you're out on the road and can't see what's going on until it's too late.
Chaos after flash flooding Friday in Barre, Vermont. 

This storm had the usual array of disaster idiots, too. In flooded downtown Montpelier, a car zoomed around barricades blocking inundated State Street. The car splashed through for about 200 yards, and stalled. Four beefy young guys got out of the car and pushed it away, somewhere. Morons.

A man crosses a mud caked street in Barre, Vermont

A car is barely visible in flooding
in downtown Montpelier, Vermont Friday.

A small crowd of onlookers laughed at them, for good measure.

In Barre, one street was covered in up to two feet of squishy, soft mud. You couldn't even walk through it, much less drive. One guy tried, but got stuck, naturally. Nobody helped push him out, even though he asked. Because he was an idiot.

But people helped everybody else where needed. Clots of people showed up to rescue merchandise from the rising water in store basements in Montpelier. One guy I met hitchhiked for 45 minutes into Barre to help shovel mud, remove ruined furniture from houses, or do whatever needed to be done.

So, we help each other out, and watch the skies for the inevitable next storm. We wait the storm out, clean out the mess and get ready to do it again. It's becoming a routine now.
These guys drove past barricades on flooded State Street
in Montpelier, Vermont Friday. The car stalled, and
they had to push it out of the water. Morons. 

And we count our blessings. It's bad, but not nearly as awful as disasters like that tornado in Joplin, Missouri. Survivor's guilt, I guess.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spring in my yard: Ugly and Beautiful

It's been a weird spring around my yard and property in St. Albans, Vermont.

Even as I work to improve the landscaping, bad weather keeps getting in the way, or undoing my work.
A flash flood surges through my yard in
St. Albans, Vt. last Friday.

As you can see in the photos, even as flash flood surge through my yard, wrecking things, flowers continue to grace the area. The lilacs, like the one pictured near my front door, are especially fragrant. Ahhh...

The day after the flash flood, these lilacs
serene bloomed in front of my house. 
All the weird weather doesn't matter in the end.  I keep plugging away, and things gradually improve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Horrible Sounds of a Tornado

Of all the news and images coming out of Joplin, MO, where a tornado yesterday killed 89 people, the nost stunning video has visuals that are almost nonexistent.

But the sounds pack such an emotional wallop. It's the sound of 20 or so people huddling in a convenience store cooler as the tornado hits. The sounds and the terror are haunting. You don't want to ever be hit by a tornado, that's for sure.

Listen for yourself:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Slo-Mo Landslide Fun

Out in Wyoming, there was this weird landslide that went very, very slowly.

Usually, we think of landslides as masses of dirt and rocks and trees tumbling in a scary fashion down a hill.

In Snake River Canyon, Wyoming, one slide is only moving several feet of day. Wyoming Department of Transportation workers had a little fun doing a time lapse video of the slide, complete with DOT workers enjoying the ride on the slide. Really, really cool. Watch:

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Beautiful, Ugly Flood

For a month at least, Lake Champlain in Vermont has been flooding, wrecking camps, damaging homes and roads, and just causing misery and annoyance.

The water isn't receding fast, so this will go on for awhile.

I took the photo in this post two days ago at Burlington, Vermont's flooded Perkins Pier. It's sad that the park there is under water and wrecked, but I do like the photo. The oddly bright colors, the reflections and the misty background are strangly pretty, even though nobody is happy the flood is continuing.

Click on the pic to make it bigger and get a better look at it, if you'd like

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Woman Yakked 16 Hours on "Quiet Car?"

Meet Lakeysha Beard, who, according to media reports, sat on the quiet car of an Amtrak train in Oregon recently.

Lakeysha Beard, the alleged Amtrak
yakker extraordinaire
The quiet car is meant for people who don't want to listen to cell phone calls. So none are allowed. According to television station KOMO, Lakeysha decided the quiet car was the perfect place to hold a loud, 16-hour cell phone conversation.

Sixteen hours! Who can possibly talk that long? Well, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.  did in December  during a filibuster, but that's OK. He was on the Senate floor, which is a far, far, louder cry than an Amtrak quiet car.

I also want Lakeysha's cell phone. The battery lasted 16 hours? Wow! It's a super phone.

Anyway, she supposedly got aggressive on the train when fellow passengers told her the shut the &*@$ up. Lakeysha complained that she felt "disrespected" by passengers' complaints and the fact that she got arrested.

All this will be sorted out in court, and we're really yet to hear her side of the story.

But if Lakeysha's tale is true, stay away from her. She'll talk your ear off, that's for sure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rapture Plans For Saturday

As many of you might have heard, the end of the world begins this Saturday.

According to some preacher or scholar or something named Harold Camping, the Rapture hits over the weekend. True Christians get sent express mail or something to heaven, while the rest of us suffer through the next six months of Armeggedon, until the world ends with a whimper. But we'll find a way to party until it's over anyway.

If the rapture happens, God is a genious at timing it for maximum effect.  Camping says God will start the festivities time zone by time zone. So it will start at 6 p.m. Saturday for everyone.
Harold  Camping, shown here, tiredly explains
that the Rapture starts Saturday

Which is very thoughtful. That will give me time to go to Home Depot Saturday morning to get bracing for the house. I'll need the bracing because the start of the fun will be announced by a massive earthquake, Camping says.

I'll also have time to hit Price Chopper for some crackers, cheese and wine to sustain myself through the event. Really, I should invite people over and have a party. It's Saturday, so why not?

I'm not sure what the dress code is for the Rapture. Black tie, business casual or clothing optional?  I suppose I should get a flash light to see which of my neighbors get boosted out to space..

That way I can take part in the looting. A Facebook page has started to guide people toward looting the property of Christians who are raptured. Since the world would end pretty soon anyway, we can just take their good stuff and enjoy it before starting our stint in eternity in hell.
 Will this be a common scene during
the alleged Rapture, scheduled by one person for Saturday.

I mean, what are those that have been raptured going to do, call the cops?  Or maybe God will send down lightning strikes.

But in any event, why would those raptured even care if we steal their stuff. I imagine heaven is pretty well stocked up with all the nice creature comforts everybody needs.

I'm having a hard time figuring out which music to play for the rapture. The obvious choice, at first glance, would be "Rapture," by Blondie, but I don't know if a song about a space alien eating cars, bars and guitars quite fits.

I thought of another tune I remember that sort of fits, called "Tomorrow, Wendy," by Concrete Blonde. It's dark and intriguing and spooky and dramatic and has themes sort of related to what Camping is talking about.

Sample lyrics to "Tomorrow, Wendy"

"I told the priest
Don't count on any second coming.
God got his ass kicked
The last time he came down here slumming.
He had the balls to come
The gall to die and then forgive us
No, I don't wonder why
I wonder what he thought it would get us."

On second thought, those lyrics are incredibly harsh, aren't they?  Probably pretty mean and insulting to Christians, too.  And it's not exactly a friendly send-off to those Rapturing out to outer space or whatever. So I guess we have to give up on Concrete Blonde, I'm afraid.

Besides, most Christians I'm familiar with are taking Camping's Rapture rantings with an enormous grain of salt. These rational Christians seem to just want to continue living and being good people, which frankly is a refreshing attitude.

So, enjoy your Saturday. And I wouldn't cancel the dinner reservations if I were you. Somehow I think Camping's Rapture schedule indicates the man just has too much time on his hands.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Needs Dancing With the Stars?

I admit I've been watching "Dancing with the Stars." and have been impressed by how much the finalists have improved.

The final four stars performed last night, and I guess we find out who might get axed tonight. (I'm guessing Ralph Maccio, but what do I know?

But who cares about Dancing With the Stars when there are even better dancers out there. Like in the following video of a street dancer in Paris. I didn't know any human can control every muscle in his body like this. It's amazing. Watch:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Most Dramatic Tuscaloosa Tornado Video Yet

The following video recently surfaced on YouTube. It shows yet another of dozens of videos of that awful tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama last month that killed so many people.

The person who took this video kept shooting even though he ended up in the edge of the tornado. Not a smart move. Had the tornado been maybe a few feet closer to him, he surely would have been killed.

Just the roar of the approaching storm would have sent me screaming and fleeing into the basement.

Still, it's an incredibly dramatic video, and worth the watch, if only to encourage people to hide in their basements when a tornado approaches. 

Even Gloom is Better in Green

Yesterday was a washout weekend spring day, not much to do in a constant drenching rain.

I could whine, but we could also go back to even gloomier times.

I've been taking daily pictures of my backyard this spring, just for fun and to document the seasonal changes.

So, yeah, yesterday was bleak, but it was still a whole lot better than earlier, before things started coming to life. This is plain in the photos on this post, the first taken April 1, the second yesterday, May 15.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Child Abuse Video Disturbing, or Not?

An Irish anti-child abuse organization has come out with a disturbing commercial against child abuse.

Yes, I know about 99.9 percent of the people out there are against child abuse, but the aim is to encourage people to report, stop and otherwise discourage abuse.

The commercial is graphic, but in a way, dignified, in the way the child talks about the world he wants to grow up into, as opposed to the horror he's living. Give it a watch and tell us what you think:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mowing the Rain. How about hail?

After a great week where I was stuck indoors much of the time, it's the weekend, time to get outside and do landscaping, mowing, etc. for clients.

And it will pour all weekend, according to the forecast. In fact, we're under another flood watch here in northern Vermont. It has been one rainy spring, let me tell you.

So I'll try to mow in the rain. One  day last May, I was desperate to get things done so I mowed while it was snowing, and there was an inch of slush on part of the lawn. Nothing like wet grass and ice to clogged the mower.

I don't know how much I'll get done outside today, but it's clear some people are more determined than I am. I offer up the video, below. It shows golf ball sized hail coming down (Ouch!)  Will it stop this guy/idiot  from mowing the lawn? Well, see for yourself.

I wonder why the guy just didn't let the hail beat the lawn into submission. And I wonder how dented his mower is now. Hell, I wonder how dented his head is now.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm Baaacck! (I think)

You might have noticed I've been gone for a couple days. I usually post one item a day, with a few exceptions.

Not might fault this time. Apparently, the folks at Blogger, where this blog hoodicky I write is located, were trying to fix the system and instead it went kablooey for a couple days. (As you can see, I'm using all the high tech technical terms here, so I'm probably losing you.)

The bottom line was anybody who had a Blogger account couldn't do anything with it for a couple days, and at least temporarily had posts from a day or two before that deleted.

Hopefully, the wizards at Bloggers have started feeding the hamsters again so the system will resume running smoothly.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Darlusz the Frog Embraces Change

Darlusz, the Polish frog that lives with us in St. Albans, has been out of sight, almost out of mind lately.

There's so many black flies that hatched from the record spring rains we've had that he's been gone getting fat and happy munching on them.

But he emerged yesterday as home improvements reached another crescendo at our place, and Darlusz came out to inspect the changes.
Darlusz the frog inspects the great new deck Jeff
installed at my house.

"Dis new deck, is wspaniate," using the Polish word for wonderful. "But da rotten board on da old deck. It had lot of doz tasty bugs. Dis new cedar board, no bugs. What, you make me go hungry,?"

I swatted at the thick cloud of black flies around my head for effect. "Darlusz, um, I don't think there's a bug shortage. Besides, I haven't thrown out the old boards yet. They're stored over there, behind the house, next to the perennials I'm going to plant".

The deck in question is at the front of the house was a hazard. Jeff worked his butt off the past few days ripping out the old boards and putting in the cedar planks. Between that, the painting Jeff did on the shed, and all these other projects he's doing, I feel like the lucky recipient of a new house on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition"
Darlusz the frog inspects perennials I'm planting near the new
deck. Wreckage of the old deck is in the background.

Darlusz interrupted those thoughts. "Deese plants day smell nice and day not even blooming much yet. What you do with those,?" he asked while sniffing around the collection of perennials I had purchased at Claussen's, a Colchester, Vermont plant nursery that's bursting at the seams with plants.

"Now that the deck is fixed and the stone wall is mostly built, it's time to plant some flower. Make the place look like a real house," I said.

"Day nize," Darlusz said. "See, you like color too, I see. You got da daffodils blooming all over da place. Now deeze. I like."
Darlusz searches for tasty insects to eat in the truckload
of rich topsoil I bought for the new perennials.

I looked at Darlusz sternly and said. "I'm glad you like them. I do, too. But be warned: A lot of these plants attract butterflies, honey bees and hummingbirds. You will NOT touch any of those insects and little birds That's part of the reason I'm planting these. I like to look at them, and I like to see what little bits of wildlife they atrract," I told the frog.
Darlusz helps guide where to plant perennials near the new deck.

"But I get hungry," Darlusz whine. "But OK, I stay away. I search elsewhere for da bugs," he said.

"Here, I'll help," I said waving a towel around my head to drive the approximately 1,378, 276,322 black flies swarming around my head toward Darlusz.

Darlusz took a deep, satisfying gulp of flies. "You goud man," he said, between burps.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Odd, Cool Musical Interludes

Trolling the depths of the Internet, I found a couple musical interludes that were outside the usual pop tart diva computer music you hear on the radio.

The first brought me back to the 1988 Tom Hanks movie "Big" in which they danced on that big piano in the FAO Schwarz store.

This time, some people went classical.  I present to you Bach's Toccata & Fugue:


Next, we go to China, where the television show "China's Got Talent" is in full swing. Every country, including probably Bothswana and some settlements on other planets have gotten in on the "(Name Country Here)'s Got Talent"

In China, a 65-year old  grandmother performed to a little Michael Jackson. To great effect. Check that out, too.:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Photos: Many Joys of Spring

One of the best decisions I made last fall was to plant daffodils close to the stone wall I built during the summer at my house in St. Albans, Vermont.

The exuberance of the daffodils contrasts nicely with the subdued cold placidity of the stones. 

I love this time of year anyway, despite the dense clouds of black flies swarming around us. It's foliage season in Vermont.  Not the one the tourists come from far and wide to see in the autumn. It's the much better one, when everything is coming to life. Scrolls down for photos. 


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Epic Lake Flood Pics

Lake Champlain here in Vermont has had its worst flood on record. The crest yesterday was a foot over the old record. There's been lots of damage, as you might expect. The governor declared a state of emergency, the National Guard is helping, and we're officially a disaster zone. 

I've been taking pictures of the flood, and the river flooding that led up to it. A few are in this post to share.  I've been contributing, along with almost the entire rest of the staff to extensive flood coverage in the Burlington Free Press if you want more details.

Stay dry!
Lake Champlain floodwater destroys a camp
on Colchester Point, Vt,  May 6 2011

Another view of camp destruction from Lake Champlain
floodwaters, May 6, 2011

Lake Champlain floodwater invades the U.S.
Coast Guard station in Burlington Vt. this week.

A toy truck rests on the hood of a car flooded
by high Lake Champlain water, Burlington Vt.
earlier this week. 

Water from Lake Champlain invades a
Burlington, Vt. building this week,

Laundry is caught in floodwater along the Missisquoi River
In East Berkshire, Vt. on April 27

Floodwater cascades over a dam along the Lamoille River in
Fairfax, Vt., April 27, 2011

Cars make their way through floodwater along
Route 105 in Enosburgh, Vt., April 27, 2011.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bath salts, Goats, Bras, and a Drug Problem.

In my continuing search for the weirdest crimes, I found a good one.

Mark Thompson was high on bath salts and got
really weird. Photo from the Kanawha County
W. Virginia Sheriff's office.
It seems a guy in West Virginia got high on bath salts, stole a neighbors pygmy goat, got dressed in a bra and panties, brought his new friend the goat home and killed it. Hoo-boy.  The Charleston (W.Virginia) Gazette had what had to be the most wild first sentence of a news story the publication has ever printed.

Here it is:

"Police say an Alum Creek man high on bath salts killed his neighbor's pygmy goat and that neighbors found him in his bedroom, dressed in a bra and panties, next to the dead animal, said Lt. Bryan Stover of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department."

As a journalist, I would almost kill to write a story like that.
The suspect, Mark Thompson, 19, has to be more than mortified, given how his story and picture is rocketing across the Internet worldwide. Quite a way to get famous, no?

This is hilarious, and I got a laugh at this weirdness, but as I dug deeper, it turns out this incident is part of a big new drug problem.

I never realized bath salts represent a serious drug issue until now. Apparently, there is stuff sold as bath salts everywhere, but people take them to get high, often with disasterous results, according to ABC News. 

ABC says people do really weird things on bath salts what with the hallucinations and such they cause. Exhibit A appears to be our buddy Mark Thompson.  Bath salts are advertised as such and are legal, for now, but they're advertised with a wink and a nod. You buy "bath salts" to take a bath, ha ha, but then you go home and get high.

Just great. Another creative way to cause drug issues, crime, injuries and death. And think about it. Thompson has to live with this forever. As I said, it's all over the Internet.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Daffodil Days

Reason # 2,789,785,987 why I like this time of year:  This daffodil in my yard, St. Albans, Vermont, May 1, 2011

Saggy Pants Screws Up Beer Theft

I thought that whole style trend of the past decade of guys wearing super baggy, low riding pants had gone by the wayside.

Apparently not, as we see in the surveillance video in this post. The moron steals some beer, but his pants are riding so low that he trips over the pant legs, with hilarious results. He deserved it.

Another reason to go against style trends and wear pants that have a reasonable chance of staying up and in place.

So have a toast to our moronic criminal of the day, maybe using some of the beer this guy tried to steal:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bin Laden's Obituary

Very few Americans are mourning the death
of Osama bin Laden this morning.
Leave it to my friend Gary Rith, who found a Mark Twain quote that nicely sums up the death of Osama bin Laden:

"I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure."

A lot of Americans will be reading a certain obituary with great pleasure today, I'm sure.