Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Update: Hopeful Signs in Mississippi Church Racism Incident

The other day I railed against the Crystal Springs, Mississippi First Baptist Church, where some members of the congregation objected to a couple getting married in the church because they are black.

The pastor married the couple in another church. The morons who forced the couple out of the church for their nuptials have not been identified yet. However, it's become clear that quite a few other members of First Baptist are not happy with the racist, wimpy group in their midst.

Church members have stepped forward to condemn what is called a small group who instigated the ban on the couple marrying in their church.

The Jackson Clarion Ledger had an excellent story about the pastor's sermon Sunday, after the controversy blew up.  It's clear, to my relief at least, that most members of the church are not the idiots that caused the problem

To their credit, people are not digging in their heels, and want a sense of healing.  I still wish the horrible people who live in the dark ages,  those living, in their minds at least, in the 1950s, would be identified so that they could feel the full force of the nation's objections.

Still, I wonder how many Neanderthals are out there in this world, and if it's possible for anything can change their minds. And I wonder how anybody can live with themselves for hating large groups of people. Just because it's tradition.

If they're so religious, it's time to ask themselves: Who's going to heaven, and who's going to hell?  

Monday, July 30, 2012

Summer Moments, Burlington, Vermont

Beautifully patterned clouds over downtown Burlington, Vermont
Friday evening
A relaxing scene in Burlington's City Hall Park
Friday evening
There was construction near Leunig's
restaurant in downtown Burlington, so wait staff
jokingly wore hard hats
while serving customers
Walking around Burlington, Vermont on a gorgeous Friday evening, I obnoxiously pointed my camera at what I saw, just to capture the moments of a languid mid summer night. What I came up with:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Crappy Subway Escalator Sad Commentary on Society

Gross news out of San Francisco gives us a new example of the problems associated with homelessness.

An escalator broke at a BART station in San Francisco. BART is the city's subway system.  Repair crews ended up having to call in a Hazmat team when they discovered the escalator broke because it was clogged with A LOT of human excrement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

A broken BART escalator in San Francisco
I'm sure the zillions of people who use the escalators each day were thrilled to hear this news.

It turns out late at night, homeless people find the bottom of the escalators a relatively private area to relieve themselves. So they do it into the holes in the escalator. 

This is certainly one more reason why we need to work to end homelessness, if we didn't have enough reasons already. 

You can't arrest somebody for crapping in the escalators unless their caught brown handed, so to speak, or they admit to doing it. Who would admit to doing that? And there are few public restrooms open late at night in San Francisco, so what's a homeless person going to do?

I've only heard of this problem in San Francisco, but it must be an issue in other cities. 

Makes me glad I'm not a public transit director.

My Backyard Lily Fair

Last week, Jeff took me up to Greensboro, Vermont, to the Vermont Daylily Farm, where I was besides myself with glee.

They have hundreds of really wild varieties of lilies, and he brought me there to shop.

Of course I like the traditional orange lilies, but my gawd, the colors, textures and sizes you can get make my head spin.

I need that variety in my St. Albans, Vermont gardens

Jeff already brought home a bunch of the Greensboro  lilies last year, and they are now in bloom in various sections of my yard. My attitude is, if a few day lilies are a good thing, more are a great thing.

The pictures in this post are lilies that are already growing and happy in my yard. The last pic is in Greensboro, which shows just some of the huge choices I had. You might have to scroll down to see the photos at the bottom, and click on any of the photos to get a bigger, clearer view of them.

At Greensboro, you can wander around the gardens this time of year, and look at the different varieties in bloom. You get a multi-page list which shows which lily is which, and the particulars like when they bloom, how much they cost and how big they tend to get.

We took the list home, after our marking our potential choices. A very nice chore was wandering around the property, imagining which lily would look good where.

I probably could have spend $2,000 on what I wanted. But I'm on a budget, so I limited myself to $124.

It might actually be more fun to add a few lilies every year, so that every summer the color in my yard gets more and more extensive.

We put in the order, and Jeff will go to Greensboro tomorrow to pick up the order. I will be busy planting next week, for sure.

I can't wait.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Members of Racist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi Think They are Living in Jim Crow Days

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson are happily married, but that's no thanks to the creepy racists at the church at which they were supposed to be wed.

Members of the mostly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, abruptly decided the Wilsons couldn't get married at the church, as planned, because the couple is black, according to television station WLBT.
"Christian" members of a Mississippi church would not let this
couple get married in their church because -horrors! - they are
African American

The white "Christians" at the church, told the pastor he would be fired if he wed the couple in the church.

The pastor, Dr. Stan Weatherford, wed the Wilsons at a nearby church, because he said he wanted to officiate the ceremony, but did not want to ruin the couple's day with wackos at his own church.

Frankly, I think Weatherford's days at this "church" are numbered anyway, because he did go ahead and married the couple. A black couple. The horror!  

Weatherford comes off as a nice enough guy in the WLBT report. I'm not sure he did the right thing by moving the wedding. Maybe he could have made a stand. But he was in a tough spot, and had to think of something in a hurry. And he was thinking about the couple's happiness.

So I give him a pass.

I can't wait for an explanation from the congregation, if we get one. They'll stammer about how they're not racist., but come up with some other excuse. It will be interesting, I'm sure.  It sounds like they'll say the Wilsons are not official members of the church, but I'm sure anybody will find other non-members getting married in that church.

As long as they are white.

Imagine if a black gay couple tried to get married in Crystal Springs,  Mississippi,

Is this community proud that they haven't advanced a whit since before the civil rights movement?

These mega-bigot moments come up from time to time in America, unfortunately. You always get these idiots who proudly let their moronic mindset come to the surface. Crystal Springs is just the latest example.

And this will play out like these mega bigot moments always do. The church is in for a HUGE crap storm of people mocking the "Christians" at this church, deluging them with nasty emails, calling them up to yell at them until their phones melt.

I love the irony on the Web site of this church, which states "These are Exciting Times for Crystal Springs."

They don't know the half of it! The exciting times they mention refers to a building project, but that's not what they're going to get! No sir!

These crap storms always die down eventually. I'd like to look up what happens when we all move on to the next controversy and the lights and cameras go elsewhere.

In the meantime, if you've got a shred of decency. stay the hell away from Crystal Springs, Mississippi.

Bear Cub Rescue Turns Popular

This video below in this post has been all over Facebook, but I have to share it anyway, since it's so fun and cute.

The Facebook posts don't give the backstory. According to ABC News, Tom and Shirley Schenk of Ruidoso, New Mexico, heard the bear cubs crying all night in a trash dumpster near their home.

The bears had been around before, and bears had figured out how to unlock the dumpster and get inside. Sometimes, they couldn't get out. The Schenks developed a tried and true rescue method for trapped bears, and even had the ladder ready for a quick rescue.

At first light, the Schenks put their rescue plan into place. If you haven't seen it, watch the video to see whether the rescue was successful If you have seen it, it's worth another watch:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Do SUV Drivers Like Creating Roadkill?

Found a video where a guy did an interesting experiment.

He put realistic looking turtles, snake, tanatula and leaf on the shoulder of a road, and watched about 1,000 vehicles. His conclusion: Six percent of the drivers are willing to swerve to intentionally kill a small animal on the side of the road.

Of course, the positve way of looking at it is 94 percent of drivers won't be mean to small animals.

The video is strangely engaging and informative:

An interesting finding is that most of the people who swerved to kill the small animals drove trucks or SUVs.

I want a follow up study: Why do people intentionally run over the animals? It's obviously a nasty thing to do. What did the animal do to them? It probably gives these motorists a sense of power, but you have to be pretty pathetic to base your self esteem on an ability to crush a tiny turtle or snake beneath the wheels of your giant truck?

What are these people like, when they're not killing small animals? Are they future psychopaths, ready to turn into small critter exterminaters to mass murderers? Almost all of them are probably not that psychotic.  Are they loners because everybody hates them? Or do they hide their assaultive personalities well. Do they own animals like dogs themselves? How do they treat their pets?

While you're swerving to kill the turtles, do you worry that you're driving unsafely. Do you also threaten bicyclists and pedestrians?

Obviously, most people who drive SUVs and trucks DON'T run over critters for sport. I drive a Toyota Tacoma, and I feel guilty for days if a chipmunk runs out onto the road and I can't avoid hitting it.  So they will never let me into the Kill Critter Club. Or whatever.

Does anyone out there reading this run over small critters for laughs and giggles? Or know somebody who does? I'd love to know the reasons.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Creepy Kids Give Seagulls Laxatives

A video making the rounds this week shows a bunch of kids at some beach giving seagulls laxative-laced food and watching the resulting mess.

I love a good prank, but unlike a lot of commenters on the YouTube video, I can't bring myself to have a sense of humor about this one.

Really. The kids are just creeps who need to get a life. And they're proud enough about this to post a video on YouTube?

I'm definitely no fan of gulls. Those damn birds are aggressive, annoying, noisy and messy. Go away! But still, is it fair to feed them something that could injure or kill them?  I think some people are aggressive, annoying, noisy and messy, but that doesn't mean I will feed them laxatives or otherwise harm them.

What about the people below who are the victims of the shit rain from sky, induced from these lousy kids? At best, a day at the beach is ruined. People deserve a break, and these kids unilaterally decided to kill that idea.

I don't know how unsafe the bird crap is, but it can't be good.

My suggestion: Find out who these kids are and make them take a nice, refreshing dip in the local sewage treatment plant.

Storm Has Me Playing Pick Up Sticks

Another round of severe thunderstorms rolled through Vermont Monday evening. All these storms had missed my house this summer, until Monday.

A great gush of wind and rain slammed St. Albans, tossing down trees across streets and highways, cutting power, and making a general mess.
This dead tree fell on my property during Monday's storm
It dropped in a perfect location to avoid damage and allow
easy cleanup

When I arrived home shortly after the storm ended, I found my property here in St. Albans was pretty much unscathed. One dead tree toppled. It was one I was going to cut down anyway, and it fell in the exact spot where I was going to drop it. Perfect.

Tuesday, though, it was a game of pick of sticks on my acre of property. On closer inspection, I found twigs everywhere. I had to get rid of them, because they would have interfered with lawn mowing, and looked crummy in the garden beds.

As I picked up the sticks, dozens of them, it felt a little like fall cleanup. It seemed that summer had reached its midpoint, and the first hints of fall were there.

Yes, it was relatively warm and humid, typical July weather. Sometimes, the sky looked like summer, with billowy clouds spitting out showers. Other times, the sky had a November feel, that look you get on the first cold day, when there's been snow flurries, and the ground is hardening with frost.

A gusty wind from the northwest blew all day, too. Unusual for July. It was a warm wind, but it's almost never windy from the northwest in the summer.
I collected this pile of twigs as I cleaned up after Monday's storm.
Beer bottle is there for scale.

We have plenty of summer left. So it's not like I've put the season aside. My day lilies are still blooming nicely, everything is nice and green and will stay that way for awhile.

But Monday's storm was a ceremony. It marked the midpoint of summer in electric fashion, and sometime fairly soon, we'll have to start thinking about autumn.

I took a video of the storm as it blasted St. Albans. It's below:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

People Want David Hasselhoff!

A terrible crime wave has hit Vermont: Somebody is stealing life size cardboard cutouts of David Hasselhoff from Cumberland Farms convenience stores. 

Just take in this statement from Burlington, Vermont police:
They love David Hasselhoff so much they
are stealing cardboard cutouts of him from Vermont
convenience stores.

Male in his 60s, but looks no older than his 30s, with lovely golden waves of hair and piercing blue eyes recently went missing from two locations," Burlington Police Ofc. Kim Shelley said.
Cumberland Farms is selling something called "Iced Hoffee," hence the promotion involving Hasselhoff.

I don't know how appetizing that is. I mean, iced coffee with David Hasselhoff's chest hair in it? I don't think so.

In any event, people like him, if not the Iced Hoffee so much the life sized images of Hasselhoff are disappearing as fast as they go up. From Vermont. And stores throughout the nation. 

Quite an odd collector's items, don't you think?

I'm wondering what people are doing with these Hasselhoff images. Do they put it in their bedrooms and sigh at David's eyes, and think how lovely it is he's in their bedroom? Isn't that a little creepy? 

Maybe the cutouts will be on the beach along Lake Champlain or some other Vermont lake the rest of the summer. We can recreate the show Babewatch, I mean Baywatch on Lake Carmi or something. 

I don't know what the penalty is for stealing a Hasselhoff cutout, but imagine explaining your crime to fellow inmates once you're convicted.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quebec Town Hates Front Yard Garden. Why?

A couple in Drummondville, Quebec, well northeast of Montreal, are having quite a war with their town because they are growing vegetables in their front yard.
Criminal activity: A Quebec couple seen here breaking
the law through the evil activity of growing veggies in
front of the house. 

This criminal couple (How dare they have anything other than wasteful, expensive to maintain grass in their front yard!) say the vegetables they're harvesting have improved their health, neighbors like the garden, and they share produce with their neighbors)

But the town said a neighbor complained, though I think that's code for a zoning enforcement person complained that his will is not being followed the way he wants it to be followed.  Apparently, front lawns in this Drummondville neighborhood are required to be 30 percent grass. I don't know why that rule is in place.

The couple face fines of $100 to $300 per day if they don't remove the garden and plant grass. 

As you can see by the photo, the garden is well maintained, so it's not like the neighbors are looking at an eyesore. And I do think it's reasonable to expect people with front yard gardens to keep them looking nice and neat, and well landscaped.

Not explained in any of the articles about this incident, and similar ones elsewhere in the country, is why zoning departments insist on grass on the front yard and not gardens. Gardens use less water, and better for the environment, and aren't a waste of space like lawns can be.

HGTV, that home and garden design network that shows all those oh-so-perfect houses, notes that front yard gardens can be designed to look absolutely gorgeous.  You might try tastefully arranged raised beds, landscaping and scattering some flowering plants among the veggies to make things look pretty for the neighbors and those hyper-critical zoning department inspectors.  

Don't get me wrong. Grassy yards are great if that's what you like. It's your house, do as you wish. No sense of living with surroundings you don't like. But geez, a garden is a bad thing?

Drummondville officials think so. They are working on an ordinance banning the growing of vegetables on front yards anywhere in town.  Because as we all know, a tomato plant growing on a front yard can lead to all sorts of criminal behavior.  I mean, what if somebody uses the tomatoes from the front yard garden to make salsa or something awful like that. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Road Painting Overenthusiasm

From Failblog/FailNation, I give you this bit of confusing road paint. Hope your travels today don't get this complicated.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Awesome Anti-Child Abuse Ad

Sometimes the most effective advertisements are the simplest. And some of the best ads are also public service ones.

I ran across this award winning one, from UNICEF, that calls attention to child abuse. The ad was from the Santiago, Chile offices of Ogilvy & Mathers. Watch it. It's good:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Storm, NYC Style: Cigarette Butts Attack

Up here in Vermont, it hasn't rained much this summer, but when it has, we tended to get violent storms with high winds that push down trees, lightning that starts fires, torrential rains that turn streets into rivers, and hail that pelts gardens into pulp.

But, we should consider ourselves lucky. In New York, they had a bad thunderstorm Wednesday, which filled subway stations with disgusting water laced with rat crap and urine (and people walked through it anyway, YUCK!)

At least Vermont storms are a bit cleaner than those in the Big Apple, no? As proof, I offer you this video of an overwhelmed subway drain during the storm geysering water and lots and lots of old cigarette butts.

Look at it this way: The video is a good incentive to stop smoking for those of you who do indulge:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Newspapers, Church Signs Unintentionally Amuse

I keep running across unfortunate newspaper headlines and layouts and posted signs that fail to work. But the people who screwed up did us a favor by making us laugh. Some examples:

In the first photo, police have made this startling conclusion about crime

Next, I'm not sure the newspaper has otten who the suspects are quite right.

Third, I guess the church needs some joy on Sundays after a week of gloom. At least they're staying optimistic.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How Do People Do Such Amazing Stunts?

This video I found on Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish will either inspire you or make you feel inadequate, but I'm giving it to you anyway. Just because it's amazing what people can do.

Don't try this at home kiddies. Better yet, try this at home. You might get a sense of accomplishment:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dog Contrasts, Hot Dogs,

I took the photo on Burlington, Vermont's bikepath along the city's waterfront about a week ago. I love the two contrasting pairs of dogs. So I hope it brings a smile.

Also, I love, below, the parked police car, somewhere, on a hot day. I especially like how they left a thermometer inside the vehicle to let people know how hot, how quickly it gets.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Unique Day Lillies, Thanks to Jeff

Jeff bought me some really cool varieties of day lilies from Greensboro, Vermont, last summer. They were near the end of their blooms when he got them last August, so I didn't get to fully enjoy them.

I planted them in my St. Albans, Vermont gardens late last summer. Most of them came up nicely this spring and summer,  and now I get to enjoy the results. They're a little later than the standard day lily varieties, so as the traditional ones fade away, these take over.

I'll have to get a lot more of these unusual varieties. They are gorgeous.  Here's a few sample pics. Click on the pics to make them bigger.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dramatic Video: Another Reason Running Red Lights if Bad

I first saw this video in the Gothamist, and it goes to show you what happens when you're a moron and you race down a busy city or suburban street and run a red light.

Miraculously, according to the Gothamist, nobody was seriously hurt. I felt bad for the person the moron hit. He or she was minding their own business, slowly going through an intersection and heeding a green light, and WHAM!

I don't feel as sorry for the red light runner. Haven't heard if he's been charged or not. The video was recorded by one of those red light monitors that take photos of scofflaw cars and send the owners a ticket.

According to New Jersey officials, this was recored at around 5:30 a.m. May 29. What, moron was late for work? Now he's really late.

At least stupid guy was smart enough to wear a seat belt apparently, as you can see in the video he stayed in the driver's seat despite......well, watch.  Then there's controversy, see below the video.

Of course, the video was released to show that running red lights is bad, which is true. But these red light monitors can also be regarded as money grabs.  Some cities are said to set their red light switches so there's no time for a motorist who starts through with a green to get to the other side before it turns red.

Then they are ticketed. Traffic standards call for a certain length of time where the light is yellow, but some cities shorten it, maybe to get money. One woman said she got a ticket in New Jersey because for one fifth of a second, her car was still in the intersection when the light turned red.

So I'll guess we need to begin stopping at green lights, too?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Marriage Proposal Turns Crappy

This started lovely. In the video you are about to see, a guy proposed to his gal on the bench where they had first met.

She said Yes.... Yay!

After the two calmed down a bit, they decided to shoot a video they would send to their family, sharing the good news. The video starts off fine, but then you see two guys arguing.   Things get really, really crappy. Just watch:

To make some brides feel better on their wedding day,  and if it's rainy, people say the rain is a sign the marriage will last a long time

I wonder what the folklore is on crappy marriage proposals like this?  I guess dog poop is a form of compost, and compost makes plants grow well, so maybe this marriage will grow well, too?

I also wonder if the two arguing guys in the video are married. If so, their poor spouces!  Did these guys have anything better to do than this?  What do they fight with their spouces about? Were their marriage proposals marred by dog poop fights too? Inquiring minds want to know

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Girl Gets Wild Catch While Fishing

Here's documentation of a fish that got away. In a wild way.

A woman was fishing off a deck on a rainy, miserable day near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. And she got one! Yay! So she started reeling it in.  But watch how the fish got away. Or, more accurately, stolen.

I wonder if something like this would happen in Lake Champlain, Vermont, if the legendary lake monster Champ intervened.

NOTE: Video has some strong language, so NSFW:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Good People of the Week Awards

Yesterday,   I posted something on a corporation being totally abusive and awful.

So, as a counterweight, I'll feature some people who popped up in the news last week who took on a much more positive tack.
Texas A&M alumni and students block a potential
Westboro Baptist Church protest at a funeral. 

First we go to Texas A&M, where an alum, a soldier, Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, who was killed at a Fort Bragg training exercise.

As they often do the vile Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket the soldier's funeral, to yell things like God Hates Fags and similar lovely sentiments. They often go to soldiers' funerals because the wackos of Westboro think that's the right thing to do.

Anyway, students and alums at Texas A&M quite reasonably thought that Tisdale's family should not be subject to Westboro's abuse during the funeral.

So, an "Aggie" Ryan Slezia decided to gather up people from Texas A&M to form a "human wall" to block Wicked Westboro. The 650 people or so who showed up wore purple shirts, the school colors so that the funeral could go on in peace.

It turns out Westboro didn't show up. They often say they are going to, but wimp out. Which is a good thing.

Next, we find a man who finds seeks out purple hearts for sale. But not to collect them for himself. Zachariak Fike, who at last report was a member of the Vermont National Guard, finds them in antique stores and auction sites, and tries to find the owners of the Purple Hearts and their families.

Fike already has a Purple Heart of his own, having been injured in Afghanistan in 2010. So far, he says his record for returning the medals if 5 for 5.

So I complain about lousy people yes, but there's a lot of good ones out there, too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

AT&T Sues Small Firm For $1.15 M Over Fraud It Didn't Commit

Here's this week's awful, greedy corporate lawsuit.

In 2009, phone hackers got into the system of a 14-employee company called Todd Tool and Abrasives Systems in Ipswich, Mass and racked up close to $900,000 charges on the firm's phone lines in a few days, according to the Salem (Mass.) News.

In 2009, someone at Todd Tools' phone carrier, Verizon, noticed that Todd Tools' phone usage, which usually amounts to a $700 monthly bill, suddenly went to more than $200,000 in four days.
 AT&T Sued a business for fraud
that it did not perpetrate.

Verizon figured fraud, yanked Todd Tools' ability to make international calls until the hacking was fixed and waived the big bill, as was the decent things to do. End of story, right?

Well, in comes AT&T. Todd Tools owner Michael Smith said he never had a contract with AT&T, but the hackers used some sort of "dial around" that used AT&T's system.

Even though Smith had nothing to do with the fraud, AT&T sued him for $1.15 million, the cost of the hackers' bill plus interest.

According to The Salem News, AT&T said it was entitled to the money because Smith should have had a better, more hack- proof phone system. Also, even though Smith wasn't perpetrating the fraud, AT&T said since their system was used, Smith was on the hook for the cash.

So, AT&T was willing to drive a small company  out of business over a fraud that originated in Somalia. I'm sure AT&T didn't really lose $1 million, but hey, if you can get some extra cash from some poor sucker, why not?  And maybe Smith should have had more hack proof equipment, but shouldn't AT&T have had the same? And if Verizon was able to figure out a fraud was going on and pull the plug, shouldn't AT&T have detected it too?

I'm  sure there's a legal basis for AT&T's lawsuit, but was there an ethical basis as well?

As always in these cases, AT&T  beat a hasty retreat when this situation started making the news. But how many small businesses is AT&T killing in other lawsuits that don't make the news? After all, these phone scams must be a dime a dozen.

But the "nice" people at AT&T said their offer to drop the suit is contingent on Smith dropping his counter suit, according to The Salem News. So, they put the poor guy through the wringer, cost him at least $30,000 in legal bills and almost killed Todd Tools, and Smith is supposed to say it's OK?

I'm glad I don't have AT&T as my phone carrier, but knowing them, they'll probably sue me for $1.15 million for exercising my First Amendment rights to criticize them.

Anything to make a buck, right?

Rain and Flowers Create Great Photos

Last week, a thundershower passed over my house and gardens in St. Albans, Vermont, giving the flowers a needed dousing. Then the sun came out, and as usual, I ran around the yard, taking pictures. Here are some of them:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Stupid Customers Entertain, At Least

I found a great time waster on Reddit, a whole thread on stories about incredibly stupid customers. 

If you don't want to go through the whole, detailed thread, here are some of my favorites from it:

From a tour operator in Washington, D.C: "How do you get all the flags to fly in the same direction?

At Disney: "What time does the 3 O'clock parade start?"

At a bookstore: "I need to return this Bible. It's exactly the same as the one I already have."

At a hair salon: "Cut my hair to make it longer."

Tech service: "What time does the Internet close?"

Tech service (again) "I have the Internet with news, but could I also have the Internet with shopping sites?"

Television repair shop: "Could you send a plasma truck out here to refill my plasma TV?"

At a t-shirt shop: "If it's buy one, get one free, why can't I just have the free one?"

At a deli: "Which is bigger, the half sandwich or the whole one?"

At an adult movie theater: "Can I bring my 12 year old daughter?"

Do you have any dumb customer questions you'd like to share?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Moonwalkers, Cows on Motorcycles, Creative Hurdling.

This Saturday morning, I give you three, very brief special moments from around the world that happened recently.

First one: Combine wet pavement, slippery sneakers, a little inspiration from Michael Jackson and Voila! You get this momentary but fun video of a moment of life in New York City:

Meanwhile, in Montreal, just another cow playing drums on a motorcycle rumbling through the city:

Next, we're off to China where a hurdler at an athletic competition had either a very good day or a very bad day. You decide:

Friday, July 6, 2012

Wild Storm Chase, Burlington, Vermont, 7/4/12

The Fourth of July in Vermont had some fireworks that no pyrotechnic company could beat.

Incredibly intense thunderstorms roared down from southern Canada, and as alwasy, I set about storm chasing as the weather developed.  I always have to collect more weather porn, don't you know.  And belatedly on the Fourth, I got some real money shots from the weather.
Burlington Free Press phototgrapher Glenn Russell
documents flooding in downtown Burlington
after a wild July 4 storm.

At midafternoon, one complex of storms formed just north of the Canadian border, a little above northwestern Vermont. It appeared the storms were heading right toward my St. Albans, Vermont house, so all I had to do is sit and wait with my camera and intercept them.

Nope. They storms veered to the east, despite the dire severe storm warnings for St. Albans. I couldn't catch up with the storms as they headed toward Danville, Vermont, in the northeastern part of the state.

I had to give up the chase.

The area around famed Joe's Pond in Danville was hammered with fallen trees, overturned boats and lots of damage.

I thought I missed all the storms, until I saw on radar that another complex formed northwest of Montreal.

I wondered it the storm would hold together, and boy did it ever. It formed a "bow echo" on radar a backward "C' shape that portended trouble.
Flooding on South Union Street in Burlington after
a very severe thunderstorm on July 4. 

This one kept further west than I thought.  As I raced south to intercept it as I saw going by to my west, the storm raced south over Lake Champlain, finally making a beeline toward Burlington, Vermont.

Burlington got hammered with 60 to 70 mph wind gusts that knocked down lots of trees. Even worse was the incredible amount of rain that fell in a short period of time. Lots of streets flooded, as did cars, business and homes.

Sadly, a building that takes in homeless people during the day for meals and help got trashed by the flooding, according to the Burlington Free Press. 

Here's the film of the storm I took on Burlington's Riverside Avenue. This wasn't taken through a fogged up window. The visibility was really that bad, it was raining so hard:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bailey The Dog Moves In With Us

Funny how families can change dramatically at the drop of a hat.

Like ours, for instance.
Bailey, the latest addition to the
Modereger/Sutkoski family. 

It's now a two-dog, two person household here in St. Albans with the arrival of Bailey, a dog of indeterminate breeds and high levels of sweetness. (His name until Tuesday was "Baileys" but Jeff and I decided to drop the "s")

We'd vaguely discussed getting another dog at some point, but had no firm plans.

Barb, the woman who runs the excellent Deja Vu Kennel in Milton, Vermont  where we take Jackson, our very active cocker spaniel, was worried about a dog she was taking care of.

The dog's name was Baileys, because his fur is the same color as Bailey's Irish Cream.

Baileys' family had fallen on hard times, from what I heard, third hand.  They had to move to a place that wouldn't accept dogs. Their future together was uncertain. Barb was looking for a foster family to take Baileys in temporarily. Would Jeff and I be interested?

Jeff and I discussed it Monday night, and decided we would tell Barb on Tuesday that we were leaning toward become Bailey's foster family, but we'd have to think about it for a few days.

Tuesday morning, I brought Jackson to  Deja Vu Kennel,  like we usually do. Barb introduced me to Baileys.  I noticed immediately how sweet and affectionate he is.

Then she told me Bailey's family abruptly got an opportunity out of town. They couldn't take Baileys, and had to give him up. That day. The family said they would bring Baileys to the Humane Society of  Chittenden County  and hope for the best.

Now, the Humane Society does an excellent job. But Bailey just turned 12 year old. He might not be that adoptable. He could be euthanized there.

I know I can't save every dog out there. I can't turn into a hoarder. I can only take care of the people and the animals that I can manage. Doing more would be unfair to me and especially the dogs and people I try to aid.  Sombody else will have to do the rest. Cold as that sounds, that's just the way it is.

But I'd already made a connection with Bailey. And he with me. He looked me in the eye when we met  briefly Tuesday morning and we formed an attachment. I know Bailey didn't know what was going on, but it almost feels like he looked at me and said, "You're my last chance, bro."

I could manage two dogs in the house, and so could Jeff.

Jeff was at work. I called him and told him the situation. "I couldn't live with myself if we let him go," I found myself blurting out. I found my eyes getting wetter.

Jeff wanted him too. Our family's fate was sealed. Bailey is now a full standing member of the Modereger/Sutkoski/ household.  I feel like the Brady Bunch theme song should be playing right now.

It'll be hard at times, but Jeff and I have the wherewithal to take care of Bailey. We'll give him an imperfect, but good home. He'll be loved. Jackson will make sure he has a fun playmate.

Jackson has some jealousy issues, but I know that will work out. Both Jackson and Bailey crave individual attention. Both dogs will realize soon enough that there's plenty of love to go around at this house.

Despite the jealousy, Jackson and Bailey do play well together.

Bailey looks and acts younger than his 12 years. He's mellow. Incredibly affectionate. He already likes to curl up under my desk as I type away at my laptop.  I know that given his age, Bailey won't be with us for too many years. That makes me sad, but I'll just enjoy the time we have together and focus on that.

Right now, as I type this, he's at my feet, listening to the clatter of this keyboard as I sit on the couch pounding away at the laptop.  He looks at me every once in awhile to see that I'm OK, and that I think he's OK. We agree everything is fine and go back to what we're doing. Jackson's asleep, curled up against my side, looking blissful.

Jeff had to go to work for a few hours and he'll be home soon. The four of us will go outside and play around the yard. A happy, suddenly bigger family.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Don't Be Stupid With Fireworks

Breaking News: It's the Fourth of July, time for among other things fireworks.  If you want to play with toys, try water balloons, Frisbees, bubbles, whatever, not fireworks.

Don't be a dufus like these people with fireworks.

Making You Feel Good About People

Here's a video from Buzzfeed  to watch after watching the news. The news always has disasters, people acting horribly, crime, hypocricy, meanness, and stupidity.

The news also has people acting nobly, and the video takes incidents that appeared in various news outlets of people acting like, well, humans. It's a good video to put in your file when you need cheering up. I especially like the animal rescues:

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

No Cell Reception? Trash the Cell Phone Store!

We all have love/hate relationships with our mobile devices. Gawd, they're convenient. How did we live without them in the bad old days? You'd have to wait to get home to see if you got any phone messages.

We didn't even have email, instant messaging and Twitter. How in the world did we get along without knowing what everybody was doing the instant they were doing it.  I mean, it's positively medieval not knowing that a distant friend is about to go to a sushi bar for lunch, or not having up to the minute updates on the exploits of Lindsay Lohan.
Our hero in the midst of destroying a T-Mobile store.

On the negative side, these devices sure are frustrating. You want to check your smart phone to see whether any new cat antic videos have been uploaded within the past five minutes, and you can't get reception! Or it loads too slowly!

Sometimes the exasperation with smart phones boils over. Which is apparently what happened in Manchester, England recently, when a man who has HAD IT trashed a T-Mobile store. He's so calm about it as the video below shows. And wait until the end. He is so polite, so pleasant with the police. I'm not kidding.

The Daily Mail says the man, Jason Codner, 42, was upset because T-mobile wouldn't give him a refund. 

And I'm sure it's worth a stint in jail to demonstrate you are not happy with your T-Mobile service.

 I'm sure he feels better now. And if he gets a better phone, he can upload his new viral video:

Jackson The Dog's Sunny Sunday

The weather was sunny and a little cooler Sunday up here in St. Albans Vermont, perfect for a black dog like Jackson who doesn't like the hot weather and isn't keen on playing in water or with lawn sprinklers, either.

Jackson spent Sunday evening leading a dog's good life, as this photo series shows: (Click on the pics to embiggen them)
Ahh, the good life out on the deck
OK, I'll pose for a portrait, but make it quick!
Oh! Daddy Jeff has pizza. He's GOT to give me some!
Hey, Daddy Matt! Tell Jeff to give me his pizza!
No?! Well, screw you then!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Worst People in Colorado Springs Fire Zone

Today's nominees for the worst people in the world, never mind just in Colorado Springs, are Belinda Yates, 38 and Shane Garrett, 36.

This lovely couple decided that it would be fun to burglarize houses that didn't burn in the evacuated Waldo Canyon section of Colorado Springs, where that big fire was, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

It's bad enough to burglarize a house, but to steal from an evacuated house, whose owners are probably already traumatized by the fire, is beyond bad. This little couple deserve a special place in hell.

The Gazette said the two were caught with meth, so it looks as if drug addiction might have been a factor.

So, what nonviolent punishment do you suggest for our buddies Belinda and Shane? Creative ideas welcome.