Friday, June 26, 2015

Some Arms Are Too Darned Big to Bare

Thought for the day:  So what? Americans have right to bear arms? In Russia, we have right to whole bear. [Yakow Smirnov]

I get it. I really do. I understand why so many Americans are so adamant about the Second Amendment, and their Constitutional right to own guns. Heck, I even own some myself, because, frankly, I like to target shoot. But, you know? There must be something wrong with me. Something seriously wrong. See, I have absolutely no desire to strap on a Glock before making my usual senior discount day run to the grocery store on Wednesday mornings. Granted, the sight of a little heat on my hip might encourage those other seniors to shuffle their chubby butts outta my way a little faster, and I'll betcha nobody would argue with me about who should get that last can of tomato soup anymore, either. Better yet, I'm sure I'd get much better service at the check-out counter, too. Oh yeah, I'd shoot right through that line... but no, no, never mind. Not my thing. I'll wait my turn.

I also have no interest in slinging a rifle onto my back before taking a walk around the block, or dragging a mini-cannon into town to show off at the next festival.

Even though, according to Georgia law, I can. If our state doesn't grant the broadest gun-owner rights in the country, it's gotta be in the top two, especially since our legislators passed their Guns Everywhere law. Wanta take your gun into a bar or restaurant? Okeydoke. To the park? No problem! You might not be able to smoke a cigarette in the park anymore, but by golly, feel free to tote your favorite sidearm.

I've been to places where guys are walking around sporting guns, and it's almost gotten to the point of it not making me overly paranoid. Almost. It's a little like being in the Old West, if you think about it. Then again, in the Old West, gunslingers had to disarm before going into town, just to make it easier for peace officers to maintain the... peace. Oh, I dunno, maybe I'm making much ado about nothing, because there certainly haven't been any High Noon kinda shoot-outs around these here parts.

So I'm (gulp) not nervous. Nope, not a bit.

See, I don't have a problem with guns, and I'm well aware of a whole slew of famous quotes about the importance of the right to bear arms.

Like what Thomas Jefferson said about the dangers from within: The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.  

And having an armed population has probably saved us from dangers from without, too. Like during WW II, when Japan's  Isoroku Yamamoto said, I would never invade the United States. There would be a gun behind every blade of grass.

(Especially in Georgia.)

But none of that is what prompted me to write this post. This is: a few weeks ago, a local guy (AKA gun nut) took his AR-15 to the airport. The big airport in Atlanta. You know, the busiest airport in the world. What...? You don't know what an AR-15 is? Here... I'll show you.

                                                               THIS is an AR-15:


But our local guy (AKA gun nut) wasn't satisfied with the idea of toting around an AR-15 with a standard clip, as shown in the picture. Oh no, not him. His gun was fitted with a 100-round drum magazine. Here's one of them in action:

The only difference was, the guy at the airport (AKA gun nut) had a single 100-round drum, instead of the two 50-rounders, as shown in this clip. Just the sort of thing you want to see someone carrying when you go to the airport, eh?

So why was he carrying it? Because it's his right, he said. Because, by Georgia law, he can carry a gun into the airport. Tell me, if you see somebody carrying around a weapon like that at the airport, are you gonna feel secure... or are you gonna pee in your pants a little?

Now, I will admit it. I have fired an AR-15 before... and I enjoyed it. Matter of fact, I laughed most of the time I was shooting, because it made this little old lady feel like a real badass... but I fired it under safe operating conditions at the range. And we don't even carry loaded weapons into the shooting club... weapons don't get loaded until we're actually situated at one of the shooting lanes. Again, that was at a range. Not in an airport. Not in the midst of an international crowd of travelers.

See, I don't get it. If that man wanted to bring a loaded gun into the airport, which makes me a tad nervous anyway, but if he did... why not a handgun? Something for simple self-protection, if that's what he felt he needed to do. Something he could carry in a holster, or unobtrusively in his pocket. Why such a kick-ass in-your-face kinda gun that's gonna scare kids half to death, give three people heart attacks, and make grandma tinkle in her undies? I'm just saying... why? To prove something, but... what? I get it. It's his right. How, I ask you, are the police supposed to know he's one of the good guys when they see him toting that bad boy around? See, here in Georgia, the law also says police aren't allowed to ask to see anyone's carry permit. How do ya like them apples? The game warden can ask to see fishing and hunting licenses; police can ask to see a driver's license, but as for asking to see a paper concerning the legalities of carrying a gun? Nope. Can't do it.


Here's what I think. That guy is an ass. Sure, he acted well within his rights. But were his actions really intended as a means of embracing those rights, and making the public more comfortable with him and other gun owners exercising their rights, as he said, or was it more a matter of him trying to get his stinkin' fifteen minutes of fame? More like infamy, but he definitely got... and continues to get... a lot of attention.

I think it was the latter. I think that guy (AKA gun nut) has a bad bad attitude, and I also think his narcissistic actions only served to frighten people, demonize gun-owners, and stir up a hornet's nest of anti-gun sentiment. And the people who genuinely care about the right to bear arms should be just as ticked off at his look-at-me antics as the travelers he terrified at the airport are. To be perfectly honest, gun rights aside, it saddens me to think of anyone who only feels safe while carrying a loaded gun.

                                                        What do you think?

                                   Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Pull His Finger

Thought for the day:  I never got along with my dad. Kids used to say, "My dad can beat up your dad." I'd say, "Yeah? When?"  [comedian Bill Hicks]

If I remember right, that picture of my father, brother, and me was taken on an Easter Sunday. A long time ago. You know, back in the Dark Ages. We were mostly happy in those days, living in a tiny rental home in a fairly quiet neighborhood, with a decent-sized yard, and some room to roam around us. Things were never quite the same after we left there and moved into a row home with a postage stamp yard, and wall-to-wall people. I often wonder if our lives would have been different, easier maybe, if we'd stayed in what we thought of as the country.

He was a very difficult man with a lot of personal demons, our father, but I guess he did the best he knew how. Now that he's been gone for a few years, I do my best to remember the good times. Like the years we spent in that home, and the day my mother took that picture. Back in the Dark Ages.

I had another post prepared for today, but in honor of Father's Day, I opted to post something about fathers, instead. The bulk of this post is a re-run of a Father's Day post from 2011, originally titled, In Honor of Toasted Marshmallows, which describes my Smarticus pretty darned well. He can be tough and crusty on the outside... sometimes too tough... but on the inside, he's very sweet and gooey. Both qualities made him a wonderful dad, especially since he had me to balance things out a little. Because he tended to be too hard on our boys, and too easy on our daughter,  I had to be the Enforcer with our daughter, and the Mediator for our sons. (I mean, really, grounding them for life was a tad too much...) Anyhow, he was, and is, a terrific farter father, and I'm pleased to say both of our sons are superior farters fathers, as well. And you know, no matter how tall our kids are, I'm pretty sure they'll always look up to their dad.

This picture was taken quite a few years ago, too, but not in the Dark Ages. Our kids are no longer small enough to climb all over Smarticus, but... our grandchildren are. (Some of 'em, anyway.)

Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected. [Red Buttons]

There should be a children's song: "If you're happy and you know it, keep it to yourself, and let your dad sleep.  [Jim Gaffigan]

Okay, shall we revisit that old slightly edited post now? I'm even gonna leave in the four-year-old weird news bits...


Thought for the day:  Howcum a man can wait patiently for hours on end for a fish to bite, and can wait patiently in the freezing cold for hours on end, waiting for a deer to come by, but can't tolerate so much as a ten minute wait for food in a restaurant ... where it's a sure thing?

You probably wouldn't be surprised to know the highest volume of long distance phone calls always occurs on Mother's Day. Not that there aren't plenty made on Father's Day, too. But most of them are collect. Why is it moms get the thoughtful gifts, while dads can usually count on getting aftershave or yet another tie they'll never wear? And when Father's Day rolls around, why do the kids think it's okay to buy dear old Dad something from the discount bin at the Dollar Store, and what's more, pay for it with change left over from the cash he gave them to buy something really nice for Mother's Day? As Bill Cosby put it, Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.

Just because the phrase Pull my finger is in the lexicon of  fathers worldwide doesn't mean they aren't as sentimental as mothers. Not at all. They just don't show it as easily. Very often, they're like toasted marshmallows: crusty on the outside, and all sweet and mushy on the inside.

In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to share some excerpts with you from an article you may have seen before. Geezers has appeared countless places without attribution, but as best I could discern, it may have been written in 2001 by a West Virginia chaplain by the name of Koren Fae Rawlings:

Geezers are easy to spot. At parades, they're the ones standing a little taller and often saluting when the flag passes by. At sporting events and at ceremonies on national holidays, they're the ones who stand erect and hold their hands over their hearts when the national anthem is played.

If you bump into an old geezer on the sidewalk, he'll apologize. Pass a geezer on the street, and he'll nod, maybe say hello. Geezers trust strangers and are courtly toward women. They hold the door for the next person, and always, when walking, make sure the lady is on the inside.

Geezers have moral courage. They're the ones staring down those making offensive remarks or acting in an offensive manner. Geezers seldom brag unless it's about their grandchildren.

This country needs geezers. We need their decent values and their common sense. We need their breadth of experience, their depth of knowledge and high ideals.

Thank God for all Old Geezers.

And thank God for fathers.

Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." And Charles Wadsworth said, "By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong."

So give your dad a break. Even if he's not the affectionate sort, and his last hug felt more like a wrestling hold, let him know how much you appreciate him. Because he may not tell you how to live, but he lives, and lets you watch him do it.

To all you fathers, a very happy Father's Day. And to all of you who still have fathers, go ahead ... make him happy.  Pull his finger.

And now, 'tis time for the (ta DA!)

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

Pull my hoof
Cows have taken a bit of heat for the amount of methane they produce, and some countries have even considered imposing a "methane tax" on the people who own them. In 2008, researchers in Argentina hooked cows to the bizarre-looking contraption on the left to collect their methane, quantify it, and ascertain how much it contributed to the country's greenhouse emissions. As it turned out, they contribute quite a bit. Final results indicated that as much as 30% of the country's greenhouse emissions consist of cow farts and burps.

*** Now, the Australian government is taking a hard sniff at camel belches. With an estimated 1.2 million feral camels roaming the outback, each belching approximately one hundred gaseous pounds of methane every year, that racks up to a global warming impact equivalent to 1.1 tons of carbon dioxide. Per camel. The recent legislative proposal would allow sharpshooters to earn carbon credits by killing camels, and then these credits would subsequently be sold to global polluters to offset their own emissions. Bureaucrats are expected to reach a decision on this proposal by the end of the year.

I'd walk a mile for a roll of Tums. [morguefile]

***  The city of Nederland, Colorado, is offering to sell the celebratory rights for ... a dead man. When 89-year-old Bredo Mortoel died, his family decided to preserve his body, in hopes of one day being able to bring him back to life. So his body,  packed in dry ice, resides in an outdoor shed, and for the past ten years, this small mountain town has been celebrating this deceased man on ice with an annual festival, replete with a parade of hearses, frozen salmon tossing, and coffin races. Believe it or not, it's been a very popular festival, but you know how the economy is. The Chamber of Commerce says the festival has simply become too expensive, so they're trying to sell the rights to it, and hope an event company will step up to keep this unusual festival going.

our daughter and her husband

*** Ever wonder what those Scotsmen wear under their kilts? The answer became clear for recent groom Angus McClure, who sat his kilt-clad bottom on his new bride's knee. Unfortunately, his bare and poorly-wiped bottom left a brown "skid mark" on her pristine gown. Let's just say she wasn't at all impressed. In fact, she decked him, and a knock-down, drag-out, free-for-all followed. Police say they've seen nasty wedding party brawls before, but none quite this nasty. Seven people were hauled off to jail. The bride and groom? Once they sobered up, the report is they reconciled, and fortunately, have no memory of the melee. Let's hope no one took pictures.

                                             Have a wonderful Father's Day, y'all.

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Welcome Home

Thought for the day: Better late than never.

Smarticus and I had a new, but welcome, experience on Tuesday night. He was invited to an American Legion hall to receive a Certificate of Appreciation for his service in Vietnam. Never mind that my favorite grunt (i.e. infantryman) came home from there forty-five long years ago; someone finally wanted to welcome him home now. They wanted to say... thanks. For a job well and honorably done.

Plus, they were gonna (ahem)  feed us. So we went.

At the end of World War II, troops were welcomed home with ticker-tape parades, and with lots of cheering and speechifying, all signifying universal appreciation and respect. The sign over there -----> represents just a smidgen of the appreciation and  support that has been given to soldiers returning from tours in the Gulf War, and from Iraq and Afghanistan. (And that's a good thing. Definitely a good thing.)

But Vietnam vets? None of that. My father-in-law, A WWII vet, made and hung a huge Welcome Home banner across the front of the house for Smarticus, but our country as a whole met our soldiers returning home from Vietnam with silence, and even worse, with disdain. Their sacrifices went largely unappreciated, and were dismissed, or even insulted, by a population that was, for the most part, grossly misinformed.

No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.  [Richard Nixon]

Yeah, I know. Nixon said that, so it isn't exactly a recent quote, but that doesn't make it any less true. The fact is, the media got so many things wrong back then, a proliferation of half-truths and myths became accepted by most Americans as facts, and further inflamed raging anti-war sentiments, sentiments which led to the shameful treatment of those who served their country by fighting in it.

I could go on a major tirade here, and tell you about some of the blatantly incorrect and misleading reports and myths from back then, but that isn't the point of this post. The point of this post is that our country is finally trying to set things right.


It's finally considered appropriate to thank our Vietnam vets. In 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution designating March 30 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. (Funny, but I didn't hear anything about it. Did you?) The idea was to spur a national effort to recognize the men and women who were denied a proper welcome upon returning home more than forty years ago.

Since then, more and more states have passed similar resolutions and laws, naming either March 29 or 30 as Vietnam Veterans Day. (When U.S. troops left Vietnam in 1973, the date was March 29 in Vietnam, and the 30th here at home, so either date is considered acceptable.) Besides, the date doesn't matter nearly as much as the sentiment.

Combat troops were first sent to Vietnam in 1965... fifty years ago. That fifty-year milestone is now spurring an increasing number of demonstrations of appreciation around the country for veterans of that conflict. Later this month, Ft. Stewart, in south Georgia, is holding an official welcome home ceremony for Vietnam vets, with lots of pomp and circumstance, just like the ones they've been holding for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Other bases around the country have already held such ceremonies, or will be doing so at various times throughout the year. And some governors, aided by organizations like the American Legion, are even providing certificates and medals. Like in Tuesday night's ceremony, where the state senator presenting the certificates and medallions said, It is never too late to say thank you.

That's Smarticus in the front row, third from the right. It was truly wonderful to see him and these other vets finally get some recognition, and to finally get that thank you and welcome home they all deserved. And as the wife, and sister, of Vietnam vets,  I hope you'll forgive me for saying it, but... It's about damned time.

Little-Known Facts About the Vietnam War

  • Although many people think it was a war fought by draftees, a surprising 2/3 of the soldiers serving in Nam were actually volunteers, as opposed to WWII, when 2/3 of the soldiers were draftees.
  • Although the average age of the soldier serving in Nam has often been reported as nineteen, it was actually 23.11. The youngest was sixteen, and the oldest, sixty-two. (The average age of those serving in WWII was twenty-six.)
  • Thanks to the mobility provided by helicopters, the average infantryman serving in Vietnam saw 240 days of combat in a year. By comparison, a WWII infantryman serving four years in the South Pacific saw an average of forty days of combat. 
  • Vietnam vets were the best-educated our nation had ever sent into combat. Seventy-nine percent had a high school education or better. 
  • From 1965-1972, 8.7 million Americans served in the military. Approximately one-third of them spent some time in Vietnam. Of those, only about twelve percent were in combat.
  • Of the many men and women who lost their lives in Vietnam, 86% were Caucasian, 12.5% were black, and 1.2% of some other race. 
[Sources: General William C. Westmoreland, Lt. Gen Barry R. McCaffrey, and the CACF (Combat Area Casualty File)]

Infantry duty is a rough business, even in peace time. [James Dunnigan]

So is there someone YOU need to thank? Certainly, we all owe gratitude to our vets, but who else? A spouse? A parent? A sibling or friend? A child? A teacher or minister who encouraged you when you needed it the most? Somebody. Surely, there's somebody. Don't assume that person already knows how grateful you are. You've gotta say it. Or write it. Because, despite what that state senator said, sometimes it is too late, so don't put it off, especially not for fifty years. Say it today. 

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. [William Arthur Ward]

Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.  [Zig Ziglar]

Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.  [Margaret Cousins]

So, all of you... thank you. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog, and thank you for your terrific comments. You guys rock.

                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

P.S. For anyone reading this post on the afternoon of the 17th or later, I apologize for the unusual header picture. Because I won't be around tomorrow to change the header pic for Friday's post, I opted to remove the more appropriate picture of a vet leaning against the Vietnam Memorial, and to replace it with a pic that complements Friday's post.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Technology

Thought for the day: The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people. [Karl Marx]

I may be a bit of a fuddy-duddy, but I'm not the kind of fuddy-duddy who rips at my clothing and smears ashes on my face over the horrors of new technology. Quite the contrary. While I do admittedly hang onto some of my old ways out of a determination not to cede any of my hard-earned abilities to some new-fangled gadget,  (like a calculator... HA!) I'm also excited by amazing technological advances.

I like my new telephone, my computer works just fine, my calculator is perfect, but Lord, I miss my mind!  [author unknown]

Tell ya what, let's kick some technology around, just for fun. Along with some of the newer stuff, I'm gonna include a handful of excerpts from past posts, as well. First, we'll start with something that first appeared in a July, 2011, post. I believe I referred to the technology back then as... electric boobs.

For Dolly Parton's iKini, perhaps?
***   New York designer Andrew Schneider created quite a buzz when he came up with a way for women to charge their gadgets with... their boobs. Sorta. Called the iKini, his design, currently available from Solar Coterie for about two hundred dollars, is a bikini covered in photovoltaic strips, (i.e. solar panels) terminated in a USB connector capable of providing 5 volts. And yes, it IS possible to swim in it, ladies, provided you remember to unplug your gadgets first. And oh yeah, better not try to reconnect until you're completely dry. Men, never fear. Another  version is in the works just for you. The solar shorts, to be dubbed iDrink, will feature a higher voltage output capable of  powering a peltier junction, which will connect to a custom coozy, so you can keep your beer cold while charging your iPod. (Too bad Mr. Schneider didn't figure out how to harness methane in his design, too. Some men could power a small TV ...)

And then, in February of 2012, I mentioned another innovation:

***  These guys from the Netherlands may be brilliant computer gurus, but their sense of fashion leaves something to be desired. Erik de Nijs and Tim Smit recently unveiled their new creation, which they've dubbed  Beauty and the Geek. It's a pair of jeans ... with a built-in full-size Bluetooth enabled keyboard. (Talk about a laptop!) Integrated speakers and a wireless mouse are included with the pants, and the invention works with a USB device and wireless connection. The idea is to allow users to walk around, but still be in control of their computer. Okay. Um, what I'd like to know is ... how do you wash these things?

But NOW??? Holy moley, wearable technology has grown by leaps and bounds.

[wikimedia commons]


***  NOW... we have eyeglasses for hooking up to the Internet, and  smart watches that can do just about everything but cook dinner. Then again, I'll betcha those smarty-pants watches can make reservations at your favorite restaurant, or make a list of things to buy at the grocery store... and even tell ya where the stuff you need is on sale for the best price. (Not sure if they can actually tell you what time it is.... but heck! your smart phone can to that, right?) NOW there's all kinds of smart clothing that can monitor body functions and movements. The science of wearable technology may be in its infancy, but it's growing bigger every day. The smaller and more powerful processors become, the easier it is to incorporate their capabilities into something that's not only portable... but wearable. Last month, Georgia Tech held a two-day symposium to highlight some of the wearable tech work that's being done by students and faculty there. Things like the haptic gloves, designed by PhD student James Hallam, which enable stroke victims to more quickly recover the use of a weakened hand, essentially teaching it by by utilizing feedback from their strong hand. Things like the Smart Ballet Shoes and Ballet Hero, both designed by Emily Keen as a valuable tool to teach the fine art of ballet dancing. In addition to the many projects and prototypes demonstrated at the symposium, industry representatives were in attendance, too, to see how they might capitalize on some of these innovative ideas. [If you're curious about how some of this kinda stuff has already been implemented, check this page, created by Canadian Tom Emirch. Thanks to his efforts, Canada is one of the leaders in wearable technology.]

Gee, do you think technological advances might improve the workplace? Not so much, according to this piece from a post I did in February of 2012...

***  I've heard of efforts to eliminate waste in the workplace before, but this is downright ridiculous. Picture this: flashing lights, a blaring alarm, and the loud admonition, "Time's up, you slacker! Get yer can off that can!" Okay, so that isn't exactly what's happening, but employees at a call center in Norway are being monitored by a high-tech surveillance system that triggers an alarm if they spend more than eight minutes of the workday in the bathroom. That's right. Evidently, flashing lights alert supervisors to the time-wasting  loo loiterers, but needless to say, the employees' union is protesting the crappy policy, and have high hopes this new intrusion into poo-break privacy will go the way of other failed means to control their potty habits. Last year, one Norwegian firm actually made female employees wear a red bracelet during their "time of the month" to justify more frequent trips to the bathroom. (Think they considered brown bracelets for employees with the runs, or green ones for tummy upsets and pregnancies?) Another company made employees sign a lavatory visitor's book, and still another issued electronic bathroom key cards. And here, I always considered Norway to be a bastion of freedom and individual rights. Turns out some of their companies have forgotten about man's inalienable right to sit on the throne. Hmmmph! I'm betting their bathrooms don't even have magazine racks.

[wikimedia commons]

*** I guess you've all heard about the 65-year-old German woman who recently gave birth to quadruplets. In case you aren't familiar with the story, the soon-to-be-retired teacher already has thirteen children, ranging in age from 9 to 44, but it seems her nine-year-old daughter wanted a younger sibling. So, uh... why not? I guess she figured, since technology could make it possible for someone her age to get pregnant, she might as well go for it. And go for it she did... all the way to the Ukraine, where donated eggs were fertilized and implanted into her post-menopausal body. Multiple times. (If at first you don't succeed... ?)  The tiny premature quads were recently delivered by C-section, and last I heard, are in critical condition. So what do you think? German doctors had advised her against it, saying it was much too dangerous for both her and any potential baby. Was it selfish for her to proceed? Was it an ethical choice? Or was it a matter of her body, her decision, so it's none of our business? (What I really want to know is how much money does Germany pay its teachers??? Holy moley...)

NASA photo by John Hop [wikipedia]
***  The spacecraft Messenger was the first to orbit another planet... Mercury... and this photo was taken in 2011 on its first fly-by of that planet. Over the past four years, it has circled Mercury more than 4000 times, and took more than 277,000 photos of it. (Geez, that's even more than we took of our first son...) Last month, as planned, it ended its mission with a crash landing.

As planned. Isn't it amazing that scientists can direct, monitor, communicate... and even land, whether soft or crash... space probes from such incredible distances, and with such phenomenal accuracy? Boggles the mind. (Too bad our newspaper delivery person can't do as well.)

[wikipedia commons]

***  Isn't that a cool-looking model of DNA? The advances made since its discovery are also nothing short of mind-boggling. Like the stuff of science fiction... and not just for the purposes of answering those annoying talk show hosts' question: Who's your baby's daddy? Yeah, DNA testing can determine paternity, but it can also ascertain the presence or likelihood of developing a particular disease, and all kinds of other amazing state-of-the-art things.

Then again, it can also be used for more, uh, mundane things, as described in this old clip from a July, 2011, post...


***  It's terribly annoying when a neighbor repeatedly allows his pooch to use your yard as as its own personal potty, isn't it? It's annoying to a New Hampshire apartment complex owner, too. The plentiful piles of poo were ruining the aesthetics of her lovely complex, doggone it, so she decided to do something about it. Residents have until today to submit pet (ahem) samples, so she can use them to set up a doggie DNA file. That's right. From now on, when an unpleasant mound of manure is found, she's gonna test the dog doo DNA to reveal the inconsiderate culprit. She doesn't yet know what she's gonna do once the doo is identified. Perhaps a fine, she says. (How about lighting a paper bag of "evidence" outside the offender's door?)

A recent article in the newspaper reminded me of that earlier post, because DNA-testing dog poop seems to be a more popular pastime than ever. According to the article, twenty-six apartment and condo complexes in the Seattle area alone have recently obtained DNA test kits from a company in Tennessee called BioPet Vet Lab. And guess what? A quick Google search revealed there are plenty more companies offering this same service. Who'd a thunk it? While some people fume over the stinking heaps of poo dumped in their yards, others are raking in heaps of money because of it. What a country.

photo from US Navy [wikipedia]
*** A couple years ago, I did a post about Military Working Dogs. It's amazing what they can do. They're even trained to jump out of airplanes! (YES... more than once...) Now let's talk about dolphins and sea lions. Did you know they're trained by the Navy to do stuff like detect land mines? Yes, we already have advanced sonar and listening technology, but dolphins and sea lions, with their keen eyesight and biological sonar, have proven to be experts at detecting mines, swimmers, and mini-submarines, so they can be invaluable in thwarting possible terrorist attacks. Currently, the Navy has 90 dolphins and 50 sea lions, which are being trained in San Diego. Many of these critters have already made multiple deployments to trouble spots in the world. Today, they work alongside Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, and some day, the UUVs may be advanced enough to do the job on their own, but for now? Their innate abilities, coupled with extensive training, make dolphins and sea lions an integral part of national defense. Sometimes, technology can be trumped by good old-fashioned biology.

*** Okay, technically, this last piece doesn't have anything to do with technology at all; I just thought it was... funny.

Ready? Chinese officials are launching a campaign to crack down on strip shows... at, um...  funerals...

Yeah, at funerals. Seems like an odd combination to me, too.

But not to the Chinese, especially to those who live in rural areas. See, to their way of thinking, having a good crowd at a funeral is a way of honoring the deceased, and what better way to bring in a crowd than to provide entertainment? At one time, operas were performed at funerals, and later on, movies were shown. Offering erotic strip teases and lewd shows is the more popular method to attract a crowd these days, though. Some fad. Somehow, I don't think I'd feel all that honored if a bunch of strange men were drooling over some hot chick at my funeral... but that could just be me. After all, I am a bit of a fuddy-duddy.

                                          Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

In the Bowling Alley of Tomorrow, there will even be machines that wear rental shoes and throw the ball for you. Your sole function will be to drink beer.  [Dave Barry]