October 30, 2003

Another Time I Almost Died

Although the time I blew up a grenade in my backyard with me standing about three feet away remains the single most amazing incident in my life in which I should have died instantly but emerged unscathed, there have been several other times I narrowly ducked the Reaper's blade. Getting hit by a train comes to mind, as does the time I climbed a water tower and almost fell to my death on the way back down. But. . .

There remains one time that sticks out in my mind as a defining moment when I came face to face with my own mortality. I think I was 16 at the time, and me and my friend, B.J., were out camping at one of our favorite sites. We called it Nort's Bridge, although the campsite itself was about half a mile away from the actual bridge. The site was basically at the head of a long stretch of tall bluffs extending for several miles, with the Upper Iowa River drifting lazily along nearby. At night, with a large fire built up, the shadows danced all the way up the side of the rocky bluff behind the campsite. It was the closest you could come to actually believing in spirits.

During that outing, B.J. and I decided to go for a hike along the top of the bluff. The thing about the bluffs in southeastern Minnesota is that they're pretty much composed entirely of limestone shale. That's just fine when the shale is compacted with tons of similar shale up above, but at some point there has to be a top to the bluff, and that's where things can get tricky. Trees and other plants growing on the top of the bluffs heave up the loosely compacted shale, so flat pieces of limestone litter almost every step you take. It's not an entirely stable situation for human feet.

As B.J. and I navigated our way along the top of the bluff, we zigged and zagged close to, and away from, the cliff edge, depending on how overgrown the vegetation was, picking the path of least resistence. Well, eventually, the path of least resistence brought us dangerously close to the edge of the cliff. Just as I was surveying the beautiful scene of a river flowing about 100 feet below, the shale slab I was standing on gave way, sending me on a brief but alarming slide over the cliff's edge. The rock continued its descent to the rocky shore below while I, in a reflexive action, managed to catch a protruding root, thus saving myself from absolutely certain death. It was right out of a movie, except this time it was heart-poundingly real.

So, there I was, dangling 100 feet over rocks, clinging to a not-so-stable root, waiting for B.J. to pick a careful path down to me so he could lend a hand. I didn't like my odds. Despite the fact I didn't have much faith in the root to which I held on, I tempted fate by pulling myself up. Although the root creaked and bent heavily under my weight, I managed to crawl my way back up to the top of the cliff just as B.J. reached me and dragged me the rest of the way to safety.

We sat together, breathing hard, and eventually we both just started laughing uncontrollably. It really didn't dawn on either of us that I probably should have been dead. It's not in the nature of a 16 year old to acknowledge mortality. That feeling of invincibility doesn't start to really wear off until after 25. For me, it was a funny little thing that happened; a good story about almost falling off a cliff.

UPDATE: And don't forget your best laugh of the day. (You'll need RealPlayer)

Posted by Ryan at 01:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Oct. 28, 2003

Oh. Brother. This week, Stewartville's mouthpiece for the insane really goes off the wall, even for him. I mean, Clown of the Clone 5000? I don't know whether to laugh, or to hide under the bed knowing there are others like him roaming the world.

FOAMOSTYRE Macheye thermocore. Now as we look at 1961 the atom bomb over in Russia in October three sonic booms around the earth 36 hrs. apart & now for the bad news - 50 yrs. Blackout. The year will be October 2011 a 3 series blackout. So now you have the blackouts & for the rest of the master cell we can only say The Clown of the Clone 5000 mach that will be back in 2013. Hope you like this discovery. Now sit back, pull shields down & secure the hatch. (?) Ears, eyes, nose, mouth.


P.S. Now give you something to talk about. The new $20 bill, the 2nd face could it be President Bush? The humpback spindle says yes. Now you got the rest of the story.

Well, if the humpback spindle says so, then who are we to argue? Just so long as the spindle isn't in cahoots with the Clone of the Clown 5000. I never did trust that guy. You may now begin your head scratching as you try to make sense of insanity. Have at it. I'm interested to hear your take on Gary's prognostications this week.

Posted by Ryan at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

My Happy Place

amazing. Some Iraq commentary that doesn't pander to the right OR the left. Right in the middle. My happy place. (Found via, or course, Instapundit.)

Posted by Ryan at 12:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2003

Haunted Houses Aren't Scary Unless They're REALLY Haunted

Last weekend, I stayed in the Twin Cities at Melissa's place. I like it there. I probably like it there better than I do my own little basement room here in Rochester. I think the only thing I don't like about her apartment is the perpetual drone of traffic outside. Her bedroom is positioned in such a way, and with enough of a window/privacy fence buffer that every car that goes by sounds like a muffled snow plow. It's very irritating, and the sound inevitably finds its way into my dreams.

Anyway, this weekend, Melissa really, really, really wanted to embark on the local Trail of Terror, a haunted house of sorts located on the same general grounds as the annual Renaissance Festival, and organized by the same group of people. It's basically a spook house, with the spookiest thing being the entrance fee of $15.95. Thankfully, I had a coupon for one free ticket, thus saving myself the true horror of shelling out over $30 to be annoyed by people dressed in crappy costumes.

But, before going to the Trail of Terror, we stopped to meet some friends of Melissa's who were going to join us for the "scary" event. One of the friends was Anthony (name changed), who is quite possibly even more gay than Jack's character on Wil and Grace. I've met Anthony before, and he's a nice, personable guy with a quick laugh, but the only way he could be more gay is if he had a twin. Even his face has a feminine quality, so it's no wonder that one of his favorite pastimes is to go out in drag. He's one of those gay guys you look at, and you can't help but envision him in the womb, and when the penis started forming, he started kicking and screaming "God damnit, NO! I don't want one! Make it go away!"

Stopping at Anthony's apartment, really, was the highlight of the evening, because this guy had the most elaborate and cool miniature Halloween village set up in his apartment. It was amazing, and it consisted of, at least, 17 small electronic Halloween-themed miniature devices. There was a miniature haunted house with flickering lights and a ghost twirling around the chimney, there was a miniature haunted fun house, there was a miniature haunted farm house. I really can't do justice to the whole set-up with mere written words. It was really just astounding, and it had to cost him a small fortune to purchase all the components. But, the "wow" factor alone almost made it all worthwhile.

The most amusing thing about Anthony's apartment, though, was his doll collection. He had a Barbie Doll/regular doll collection all encased in a glass-covered hutch. I stood there looking at the collection, and all I could think of was Waylon Smithers and his Malibu Stacy doll collection. Just a couple of glances around the apartment, and I was made painfully aware of just how out of touch I am with my feminine side. Me and my feminine side are on opposite ends of the globe compared to Anthony. He's not just in touch with his feminine side, he fondles it daily.

Anyway, once we finally arrived at the Trail of Terror, my lame sensors started going off immediately. Everything around me just screamed that I was going to leave with a "Sucker" label emblazoned on my forehead. And it all started with the hayride. Oh, wait, I mean the HAUNTED hayride, which basically consisted of a tractor, a rickety wagon, and a few haybales that were squashed to half their original size thanks to a multitude of asses plopped on them during the entire month of October.

Did I mention there was a 50 minute line waiting to embark on the hayride? There was a 50 minute line waiting to embark on the hayride. For 50 minutes, we stood in line during one of the chilliest evenings of autumn to that point. Shit, for awhile, it was SNOWING, for crying out loud. I wanted to be at a Thai restaurant, sipping a Taj Mahal beer and eating green curry. But, no, I was standing in line for a HAUNTED hayride in freezing temperatures.

The HAUNTED hayride was pretty much what I expected. As we sat there, inhaling the black smoke belched by the tractor, we jostled forth into the dark, occasionally accosted by folks in costume who genuinely seemed bored to be running from the dark to yell "AUUURGH!" for the 500th time that evening. I mean, it's like this: if I'm expecting people to jump out and try to scare me, I kind of build up a natural scare barrier. I'm EXPECTING people in bad costumes to jump out at me, so why the hell would I be scared when they do?

So, after a 50 minute wait in line, followed by a 10 minute HAUNTED hayride, we disembarked. I was not pleased.

But, we still had to do the Haunted House. I'm sorry we still had to do the Shock Assylum II! Of course, we had to wait in line for 20 minutes first, but that's beside the point. Boy, rereading this just now, I sure come across as a sour Sally but, you know, this only represents about 1/3 of the annoyed ire I felt at the time.

In defense of the Shock Assylum II, I must admit that it had potential. It was dark and disorienting and, dare I say it, somewhat fun once in awhile. But, again, there's something decidedly UNscary about people in costume emerging from the dark with plastic blades trying to scare me. Yes, yes, BOOOOOO and all that. Now, if you'll excuse me. . .

Maybe it's just me, but I think a spook house, particularly on the size scale of the Trail of Terror, could be a lot scarier without trying to sell the idea of a HAUNTED house. Rather than having a a maze that isn't a maze at all so much as a path that always leads out, I think a genuine dark maze that leads back onto itself and has trick doors and surprise slides and is dark, dark, DARK would be far more entertaining and scary. Sure, you could throw in the occasional costumed spooker, but they would also serve the eventual purpose of leading you in the right direction after you've become thoroughly confused and disoriented.

And, if you could afford it, you could have Michael Jackson hiding around a corner. That would be terrifying.

I would happily go through a house filled with the following hotties:

Namrata Singh Gujral. Cerina Vincent. Lauren Lee Smith. Tawny Cypress. Jayma Mays. Rose Byrne. Natalia Tena. Carice van Houten. Sonya Walger. Michelle Ryan. Alice Braga. Kristen Stewart. Katie Leung. Vera Jordanova. Mia Maestro. Ninel Conde.

Posted by Ryan at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2003

And The Winner For Conspiracy Whacko Of The Year Award Goes To. . . The Envelope Please

This comment, posted on the blog Healing Iraq, just cracks me up.

This is obviously a US military psyop. People, don't be so stupid.
Bob (Dogpound) Smith

It just goes to show, if you REALLY want to see ghosts, you'll see them everywhere.

UPDATE: Well, THIS is different. Someone's fisking (i.e. analytically deconstructing) an Iraqi blog, in this case they're shredding the perpetual whiner, Riverbend. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. But, it is interesting.

Posted by Ryan at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Controlling Guns One Dog At A Time

Even though I know I'll probably take some heat for it, I must seize this opportunity to take a stance on gun control.

Let the record show that I firmly believe it is well past time to revisit the Second Amendment of the Constitution and reword it to reflect, in no uncertain terms, that dogs should not be allowed to carry guns.

Now, I realize that many gun enthusiasts out there will maintain that it is every dog's God-given right to carry whatever firearm it deems necessary to protect itself, but I am of the staunch opinion that dogs just can't be trusted to wield guns in a responsible manner, and their rights to keep and bear arms should be curtailed in light of this.

It may be rash of me to insist that every Schnauzer with a Mauser is irresponsible when it comes to firearms, but the news items I've seen over the past couple of weeks seem to indicate otherwise.

According to a news broadcast by Spokane, Wash.-based KXLY, North Idaho resident Cindy Whitaker was shot in the leg by her dog, Baby, in an incident she calls an accident but which this columnist believes was a cold and calculated act by a cold and calculating canine. But, you be the judge.

The incident was sparked when Whitaker, who is wheelchair-bound, heard a commotion in her backyard. She cautiously wheeled herself outside, armed with her trusty pistol. Upon opening the door, however, she was accosted by Baby, who knocked the gun from Whitaker's hand, stepped on the weapon, and seriously shot the owner in the leg.

As for baby, Cindy and her husband say they hold no ill will towards the animal who was just being a dog.

Just being a dog? Perhaps. But if "just being a dog" means that the dogs of the world won't be held accountable for their actions when it comes to guns, then they should not be allowed to operate the weapons. I say let's revamp the Second Amendment immediately. No guns for dogs!

I can hear all the nay-sayers out there right now, saying "nay." That's just an isolated incident, after all, you say. One bad dog shouldn't spoil it for the rest of them, you say. Ryan Rhodes is sure a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness, you say.

Well, to you I say, "thanks," and also, according to a news report that ran in the Times of India, Juan Evangelista Poot, from Yucatan in Mexico, claims to have been shot in the back and neck by his pet dog.

Poot was outside his house when he was shot. He turned around and saw that the dog had picked up his gun and was holding it in its mouth.

Police officials refused to arrest the canine sharpshooter, which begs the question: why are dogs so frequently given such leniency in canine-related shootings? What makes them so special that they don't have to stand trial? If they're immune from the legal process that the rest of us are subject to, why then should they be allowed to bear arms?

I mean, I'm just saying.

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2003

20,000 Visitors

Ah, a milestone. Congratulation to whoever it was with the service provider "eschelon.com" for being my 20,000th visitor. Warm happy feelings being projected your way. Now, who will be my 100,000th visitor?

Posted by Ryan at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

Myopia Aftermath

Following the "Myopia" post below, a comment thread ensued in which myself and a few commenters (Joshua, D, and Sarge). For those who don't want to read through a sea of commenting text, the gist of it pretty much boiled down to a historical argument about the nation of Israel, whether it has a right to exist, whether the Palestinians were shafted, and with some editorializing as two why the Islamic world hates us today.

It was capped, at least the last time I checked, with a Joshua comment: "Nice concession Ryan. Now. What does it actually MEAN? Change of opinion about U.S. policy? No? Hm. Shocking."

The concession to which he was referring was that the Israelis and Palestinians both share culpability in the current situation in the Middle East. Not exactly a groundbreaking concession.

The problem I have with such a historical dissection of a current situation is that it's basically fruitless beyond being an academic exercise. So many of the critics of current U.S. foreign policy hold up past U.S. foreign policy as a bloody carcass of failure that we should humbly acknowledge and lay prostrate to the condemnation of world opinion.

But, well, see, I don't buy that. It's easy to look back at the numbers and say, well, the Jews had no legal claim to Palestine, and they certainly didn't have a right to 56 percent of the land since they only represented 10 percent of the population. If you look at the numbers alone, you're missing 2/3 of the issue. But, if you look at the political climate at that time, with U.S. and U.K. compassion for the displaced and persecuted European Jews, and with the U.S.S.R. being perceived as backing the Palestinians fresh from their lowering of the Iron Curtain over much of Europe, the picture changes dramatically.

Today, it's almost impossible to understand the political climate of the post war world. But, at the time, the fear of the U.S.S.R. and its ambitions were no doubt palpable. The Cold War, though over now, was responsible for more paranoia on both sides and subsequent hot wars the world over to warp foreign policy for years on end. Are we supposed to feel culpability and shame for actions taken during a tense political arena in which two sides sat poised to annihilate one another with the push of a button? No.

To take it further, should we now look at Israel and say, well, in retrospect, and since the political climate has changed, we've decided you have no real right to occupy the Holy Land, so we're going to relocate you to Idaho? Of course not. Do I understand that such a stance is going to irk the Palestinians? Sure. Does it change my view on U.S. policy? No.

Why? Because it's not about the past. It's not about pointing at past U.S. policy to decipher where we may have gone wrong. The political landscape has shifted too dramatically since then and now. Now, it's about the CURRENT landscape. It's about the CURRENT state of Israeli/Palestinian relations, and it's about the CURRENT state of the Islamic world in general, which has grown stagnant, indignant and suspicious of the West. Are they justified in that? Sure. Are we supposed to apologize? No.

I was born in 1975. In 1993, I graduated from high school. In 1998, following a five year college plan, I graduated with a journalism major and a history minor. On Sept. 11, 2001, I witnessed the result of rabid hatred and resentment towards the United States. It came as kind of a shock to me, and I didn't much care to deconstruct past U.S. policy to understand why zealots were flying planes into buildings. It just, you know, seemed like a pretty useless exercise at the time. "Oh, they're flying planes into buildings! I should really hit the books to try and find out why." Um, no.

You could conduct all the research you want to discover why we're so hated in the Islamic world. You could trace it back, not just to U.S. involvement in their affairs, but also the British, and French, and Germany and on, and on, and on. You could trace much of it to a rapidly evolving modern world where Democratic nations, with their newfangled concepts of human rights, gender equality and embracing thought, ideas and discovery just perpetually goes againsts the dictates of strict Wahabbi interpretation of Islamic scripture. You could understand, right down to the deepest part of your soul, how Western beliefs are perceived as a threat to Islamic fundamentalists.

You could learn and understand all of that, and they'd still want to fly planes into buidings.

On another note, Joshua did say something at a different site that had me nodding in agreement. He pointed out that, in a lot of discussions and comment threads, people have been blurring the lines between Islamic radicals and those who don't subscribe to their fundamentalist beliefs and hatred. It's becoming a bit disconcerting to read comment threads that simply lump all Arabs into THEM. That's not good. Our enemy here are terrorists, and while it is true that most terrorists are Arabs, we have to remember that not all Arabs are terrorists. If we start making that dangerous transition, then we'll find ourselves in a particularly nasty situation.

Posted by Ryan at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2003

Just Some Random Stuff

I love writing, but I HATE typing. I HATE writing with a pen. I HATE writing with a pencil.

If it were up to me, I'd be able to use some sort of mental telepathy to transmit my thoughts directly to paper. No more of losing a minute thought because I couldn't locate the that dastardly "Q" key. No more losing a funny analogy to the ether when I pause to question the spelling of a word. I'd just push my index fingers against my temples and think really hard, really focusing, until my thoughts bake their way into readable text, like hidden lemon juice writing being made visible when held near a toaster.

I know that they make special voice recognition software that transcribes spoken language into text, but the products are often so flawed I wonder if the underlying base code is not, in fact, comprised entirely of a compendium of old viruses and worms. In addition to being rather expensive, the products (such as IBM's ViaVoice) often can't distinguish between "there, their and they're" or any other multitude of English nuances that can trip up even the most polished grammar nazi.

Besides, you're still relying on a middleman to get your thoughts down. Instead of a keyboard, you have a headset and software and, ultimately, your voice. I, for one, have a terrible time speaking my mind. It all comes out in a jumble of nothings because, like typing, my mouth simply can't adequately convey what the hell my brain is trying to tell it. The mouth can only spew forth one thought at a time, while the brain can process several thoughts at once, and five out of every six thoughts have to be set aside due to the mouth's ineffectual design.

Those extra thoughts just kind of sit there for awhile, waiting for the spoken thought to have its say. But, if the one thought takes up the mouth podium for too long, the remaining thoughts eventually start to wander off, miffed that they haven't been given equal time. Don't piss off a thought. They'll leave you.

Just my own take on the Rumsfeld memo that the media jumped on like lions on a gazelle: I honestly don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Every week, our magazine staff meets on Wednesday morning to get updates from everyone and to brainstorm. Our publisher often asks very pointed questions to find out where everyone is on a particular article or to find out where managing editors are in getting their particular issue together. We try to guess where the technology marketplace may go, particularly where IBM is concerned, and come up with article ideas accordingly. By all accounts, we have a pretty successful portfolio of magazines we produce, but we're always wondering where and how we could be doing better.

With that in mind, let's turn to Rumsfeld:

The questions I posed to combatant commanders this week were: Are we winning or losing the Global War on Terror? Is DoD changing fast enough to deal with the new 21st century security environment? Can a big institution change fast enough? Is the USG changing fast enough?

Or, as my publisher might say: Are we reaching our readership base? Are we doing enough to entice advertisers? Can we find a niche magazine market regarding IT that hasn't been exploited by several other publications? To me, Rumsfeld is asking good questions that should inspire thoughtful and, hopefully, fruitful discussion.

With respect to global terrorism, the record since Septermber 11th seems to be:

We are having mixed results with Al Qaida, although we have put considerable pressure on them — nonetheless, a great many remain at large.

USG has made reasonable progress in capturing or killing the top 55 Iraqis.

USG has made somewhat slower progress tracking down the Taliban — Omar, Hekmatyar, etc.

With respect to the Ansar Al-Islam, we are just getting started.

Again, this seems pretty straightforward. He's assessing US strengths and weaknesses, successes and shortcomings, etc. It would be pretty pointless to hold a meeting in which everyone agrees that we're just doing super great at everything, engage in a round of handshakes and break for an early lunch. Don't you think?

But then, there's the quote most of the media seized upon:

It is pretty clear that the coalition can win in Afghanistan and Iraq in one way or another, but it will be a long, hard slog.

For me, that's, like, well, duhhhhhhh. Anybody who honestly thought we'd initiate military campaigns to overthrow despicable regimes and new Statues of Liberty would sprout from the sand a couple of weeks later were disillusioned to the point of being institutionalized. But, how does the media spin that quote? For awhile, MSNBC.com had their lead story headlined "Grim Outlook." Today, I can't find that article, which has apparently be switched with "Rumsfeld questions war on terrorism." Or "Rumsfeld: Mixed results in war on terrorism."

All of this reminds me of one of my journalism classes in college. Each student was assigned a specific campus beat, and my beat was campus security. One night, campus security was called to deal with a fight between three students. Not particularly newsworthy, but one student was roughed up enough to require stitches. My professor encouraged me to find an angle to MAKE it more newsworthy.

That angle, it turned out, was that *gasp* alcohol was a factor. What a shock. Still, for a dry campus, the fact that a fight ensued, on campus, with three inebriated students suddenly became the story. When my professor eventually posted the story on our campus news Web site, it was headlined something like "Booze Sparks Brawl." Alcohol became "Booze." A scuffle became a "Brawl." Basically, a non-story became "News."

Likewise, a leaked Rumsfeld memo, which pretty much outlined everything anyone with half a functioning mind already knew, became a news story that indicated we may be LOSING the war on terrorism. Questions transmogrified into "Doubts" simply through the way in which the words were presented. Or to quote the lead paragraph of the MSNBC.com article:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld questioned whether the United States was doing enough to win the war on terrorism, citing "mixed results" in the fight against al-Qaida in a pointed memo to top Pentagon officials last week.

Rumsfeld is portrayed as having doubts about the war on terrorism, and THAT became the story. THAT'S what became news. And THAT'S part of what's wrong with the big media today. Sensationalism sells, at the expense of integrity.

Posted by Ryan at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)


Sorry, but this makes me shudder. (hat tip: Instapundit)

UPDATE: Wow. Gotta link to this one too. (Hat tip to Sarge on this one)

UPDATE 2: I like this one of a naked chick, too.

Posted by Ryan at 12:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Oct. 21, 2003

This week, Stewartville's resident head case has a LOT to say. Apparently, the project to do whatever it is he thinks he's doing is in full swing. He's a busy man, what with a cranium arguably filled with overcooked spaghetti. Let's begin, shall we?

FOAMOSTYR Macheye thermocore Styrofoam. Now that you have the firing sequence (1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 2) we'll give you the numbers on the digital radar spindle of light. 1 digital sq. equals 4 digital sqs. 4 digital sqs. Equal 8 digital sqs. 8 digital sqs. Equal 16 squares, 16 equals 32 squares and keep going. Now you have double duplication from the left, no cells but spindles. The spindles of the under palm on the left.


PS Now this can be called a discovery & it will be called LX7-Blue Spindle left outside palm - CMMC-wind. If you don't like that try cover-up, try treason, Diabo Crater, Arizona & Fish Canyon, Colorado, the world's oldest volcano. Now let's play the game.

Hmm. . .well. . .INTERESTING. I like to think that, if the X-Files had continued for 20 more years, this would be the type of stuff we'd hear Mulder spouting off about. Alas, we'll never know.

Posted by Ryan at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

Cyber-Terrorism? Eh. Me Not Think So

Today, James Lileks wrote:

As you may have read - not in newspapers, heaven forfend - a large portion of the blogworld has been crippled by attacks on the company that hosted a pro-Israel website, and the attacks are coming from servers that host Al Qaeda groups. This makes me uneasy; there's something else going on here, I think. It's like hearing reports from Alaska radar stations of peculiar blips on the screen. Someone's testing something.

What do we call these guys? Script Qiddies? Haqers? How about: Jew-Hating Gynophobic Devil Pawns, or JHGDPs for short? (Pronounced: Je-hig-dip.)

I've no reason to say this, but: my antennae are twitching. I have this feeling that 2004 is going to feel a lot like 1968. But it's just a feeling.

Far be it for me to disagree with Sir Lileks, but I have to disagree with Sir Lileks. Although I have no doubt that cyber-terrorists exist, and that they're out there lurking like digital bogeymen, I don't particularly fear their technological expertise.

For the record, yes, some al Queda-linked Web sites got together and apparently went after an Israel-based Web site called Internet Haganah which, as I understand it, is a site that tries to expose and shut down web sites that recruit and encourage terrorists. In the process, the jihadist hackers inadvertently overloaded a Web hosting site called Hosting Matters, which hosts a lot of popular blogs, including A Small Victory, Instapundit and Amish Tech Support.

The hackers utilized a Denial of Server attack which, in the hacker world, is basically among the most unsophisticated methods of hacking you can perform. Compared to the real Internet menaces out there, it's the equivalent of Harry Anderson pulling a rabbit out of a hat while David Blaine levitates nearby. Guys, you brought down one Internet site and some blogs. BLOGS! And those only briefly. So, you disconnected some folks on a conference call. Big deal.

Still, that doesn't keep the jihadist idiots of the world from engaging in some self-congratulatory back patting. Heck, to hear these guys talk, you'd think they brought the entire Internet down and stole the personal identification of every person who ever purchased off e-Bay or Amazon. I particularly loathe the heading of the site: "Jew-boy's Site Goes Dooooooown!!!!!!!" Nothing like a little rampant anti-Semitism mixed with unabashed glee. But, whatever.

My point is, these folks are about as sophisticated as Mike Tyson in a jail cell throwing a television around like a gorilla with luggage. They hardly constitute a real threat to the wider world of the world wide web. They couldn't hack their way into a cookie jar if it came to finding vulnerabilities in the major corporate sites on the Internet, and even the smaller players are shoring up potential flaws faster than cyber-jihadists can read instruction manuals on how to author Internet viruses. They're so far behind when it comes to understanding Internet and network technology, they may as well be tapping away on an Apple IIc.

Still, I'd still feel safer if the entire world were running on Linux rather than Windows.

UPDATE: Kinda, sorta, somewhat related. A recent post over at Healing Iraq underscores just how unsophisticated(though admittedly unsophisticated in a truly evil way) terrorists can be.

I heard some very distressful news today. Someone has been writing graffiti all over Baghdad threatening to kill children who accept the new schoolbags that are to be gifted to them by UNESCO for the new school season. Also warning that any hand waving to the infidel Americans will be cut.

Are these people sane? I mean what are they thinking? Is this our latest form of 'resistance'? Threatening our own children for getting some shiny new schoolbags. I am trying very hard to understand. This so called resistance is getting hated more and more by Iraqis everywhere. I'm sure this will only add to that scorn exponentially. They are losing any sympathy they may have had earlier. The terrorists have turned out to be MUCH dumber than I thought.

Posted by Ryan at 12:02 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2003

Geronimoooooo. . . uh, oh!!


Posted by Ryan at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

A Day That Starts On The Wrong Foot

I woke up this morning, got ready for work, said a few brief words to my roomie, Amy, and then walked out to my car. En route, I paused to look at the pumpkins I carved on Friday. They're looking pretty rough; high temps have accelerated the rotting process. Oh well, that's why we bought two pumpkins each, so we can carve another gourd later in the month, closer to Halloween.

I walked across the lawn a couple of times, looking at the pumpkins from different angles, before finally acknowledging that I had to go to work. Crap.

So, I was sitting here at work, sifting through a sea of e-mail, when I noticed a smell. It was a subtle smell, one of those smells you notice briefly, but then it goes away, but then it comes back. Before long, I started to realize that the intermittent smell was probably an indication of something malodorous on my part.

I recognized the smell, which is to say I remember smelling the smelly smell from sometime way back in my memory banks. And, I mean wayyyyy back in my memory banks. I was in 9th grade, I believe, sitting in front of a Macintosh computer during my first class of the morning: keyboarding. Perhaps one of the reasons I recognized the smell so quickly today was because I was, once again, sitting in front of a computer and keyboard when the smell first tickled my nose.

I was sitting next to one of the hottest girls in school at the time. She was a senior, with the most fantastic set of breasts ever to adorn a female chest without requiring artificial augmentation. I spent most mornings sitting next to her with the most raging boner imaginable. It made me a very self-conscious typist.

Well, that one morning, as I tried to make my lascivious yearnings less obvious, I noticed a subtle, sweet yet sour smell permeating the air. The smell would be there, and then it would be gone, and then it would be back again. As I sat there, sniffing the air like a dog catching the scent of game, the hot girl sitting next to me started doing the same. She smelled what I smelled. The only question that remained was what the smell actually was.

Gradually, I narrowed down the source of the smell, and I couldn't escape the conclusion that the smell was coming from me, although I had no idea from where. It was driving me crazy. Finally, I shifted in my seat and crossed my left leg over my right knee, and the once-subtle, on again/off again smell suddenly became an assaulting odor.

And that's when I finally saw the massive squish of light brown dog poop on my shoe.

There's no dignified way to discover dog poop on your shoe. When you first see it, you recoil in horror, and you want to get away from it, but you can't, because it's ON YOUR SHOE. It's practically attached to you. You ARE the poop! So, there I sat in typing class, with the hottest girl I'd ever known in my existence sitting next to me, and I was poop boy. Oh, yeah, THAT'S attractive.

I finally raised my hand and asked to go to the bathroom, and I was excused. I exited the classroom, carefully walking on my left heel to avoid any possible poop tracks. I scanned the classroom floor for any poop tracks I may have made on my way into the room: there were a couple of smears, but nothing that would implicate me directly. I heel-stepped my way to the bathroom, where I removed my shoe and washed it under the sink. Crisis averted.

Fast-forward to today. As I typed, that faintly familiar odor came back, once again, to tickle my nostrils. This time, however, I recognized it almost immediately. Instinctively, I lifted my left foot, and there, just like old times, was a massive squish of light brown dog poop. I swear, it came from the same dog as all those years ago and, if not, it was certainly related.

At first, I tried to dislodge the poop using a paper clip, but that was a messy and, quite frankly, a disgusting way to go about it. Eventually, I opted to heel step my way to the bathroom, where I removed my shoe and washed it under the sink. Thankfully, no one came in while I cleansed my Sketcher.

No morning that starts with dog poop on a shoe can mean a good overall day.

Posted by Ryan at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2003

Oh, And Iraq, Too

I haven't ranted about Iraq and the media's police blotter approach to reporting on the events in that country because, well, far more important and far smarter bloggers have commented quite eloquently on the matter. That being said, I'll just direct you to some Iraqi blogs you may find interesting. Two of them are old news, but there's a new blogger in their ranks, and he's quite good.

Salam Pax: About the most famous Iraqi in the world, with the exception of Saddam Hussein. A compelling read, with insights you don't always expect.

Riverbend: A perpetual whiner but, given the fact that a war was recently visited upon her country, I guess that's understandable. Still, she whines about everything.

Healing Iraq: This guy is new to the blogging scene, but from the sounds of it, he has beginner's luck (well, that, and it helps to have Instapundit link you a couple of times). He's a great read, and he offers up a lot of content and *gasp* good news the mainstream media wouldn't be caught dead reporting.

Posted by Ryan at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

Weekend Recap

Carving pumpkins is fun, but only after you get the disgusting innards fished out of the shell.

Melissa and I, in our second annual act of pumpkin carving, trotted out the pumpkin carving utensils, wine, and most importantly, pumpkins, Friday evening. We were characteristically late in going about it, 9:30 p.m., so we were cognizant that we weren't going to be going to bed any time soon.

Ah, technology. Back when I was a young' un, I had to fall back on my own pumpkin carving imagination, which usually resulted in a typical pumpkin with triangular eyes, a triangular nose, and a lopsided mouth with as many square teeth as I could cram in there, all based on my own imagination.

Now, there are stencils. Now, you can tape a picture on a pumpkin, poke a design onto the orange flesh, and then cut out fantastically detailed designs with stress-free precision. And, there's the Internet, which gives you access to more pumpkin stencil then you can shake a stick at. Okay, you could shake a stick at them, but why bother?

I chose a Calvin stencil (as in Calvin and Hobbes), while Melissa selected a stencil of a koala bear. The only hitch was that the stencils were just too small. So, I saved the images to the computer, fired up a photo editor, enlarged the stencils and, voila: pumpkin stencils while -U- wait. The Internet: it's not just for porn any more.

Unfortunately, the selected designs were pretty, well, DETAILED. Carving our gourds took many an hour, and we didn't wrap things up until 2:30 a.m. But, damn it, those pumpkins looked awesome. I captured Calvin's true essence, while Melissa's koala just invited me to go down under. Did I just type that? Anywayyyyyy.

On Saturday, Melissa and I went to my buddy's house, where we prepared to go on an uncharacteristic Mississippi River boating excursion in October. My buddy, Troy, owns a boat, which is one of the main reasons he's my buddy. He also recently bought a fuseball table, thus strengthening his position as my buddy.

The boating was phenomenal. It was 72 degrees, which is extremely unusual for this time of year, and the fall colors were still just vibrant enough to just sit and drift and marvel at Mother Nature in Minnesota: a nice prelude to the shit season that is winter. If spring, summer and fall are Mother Nature at her best, then winter is Mother Nature with severe PMS. Man I hate winter.

Once I get my own Web page up and running, to be unveiled when I'm damned good and ready, I'll try to remember to post pictures of the pumpkin carving and the boating. Maybe I'll also post nude pictures of me lying seductively in front of my computer too. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

Sunday (yesterday), the mercury reportedly hit 77 degrees. In OCTOBER! Unbelievable. I went for a five mile run and was beset upon by more Japanese beetles than there are Japanese in Japan. Seriously, these bugs are truly getting out of hand. When I'm 84 years old, I'm just going to sit on the porch and talk about the great beetle infestation of 'Ought 3. Of course, by then, we'll be under control by the alien invaders from Sirius 7, who keep the population under control by random anal probes, but at least the beetle problem will be under control.

Now I'm at work and I must write about boring stuff. Even more boring than this post, if you can believe THAT.

Posted by Ryan at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

Cheddar's Better When It's Rated X

When a blogger has nothing else to blog about, it's nice to have the Cheddar X to fall back on.

1. What was the last person, thing or event that made you cry?

9/11 anniversary stuff aside, I'd have to say it was my grandfather's funeral. I spoke at the funeral, and there was something about standing in front of the church, the same church where I had sat at so many Christmas masses with a feeling of total contentment, that just about made me drop to the floor in tears. On an unrelated note, my grandfather's casket was the heaviest thing constructed by man. There were six pallbearers, and we were on the verge of dropping the thing by the time we got it positioned over the grave. I swear it was made of lead.

2. What was your most recent vivid dream about?

Just last night I had a fucking hair dream. If you've never had a hair dream, let me explain. I've been shaving my head now since I was 21, primarily because I was destined to lose my hair anyway, and also because I look smoking hot with a shaved head. But. . . I occasionally have hair dreams in which I inexplicably find myself with a HUGE head of hair. We're talking gorgeous locks flowing down to my ass crack. I don't know where the hair came from, but I don't care. It's just super-cool to have hair again, if only in a dream.

3. What is the best bumper sticker you've seen or thought up?

The best bumper stickers in the world were placed on my old '89 Cavalier by me. They were: "Kinky Is Using A Feather. Perverted Is Using The Whole Chicken." "I'm Hung Like Einstein, And Smart As A Horse."

4. Who was your worst room mate? Why?

Spoon. Oh, God, SPOON! My fourth year of college, I shared a dilapidated party shack with four other guys. Spoon, so named because it reflected his intellect, was among them. He was a short scrawny dork with an impossibly deep voice for his size. He fancied himself a ladies man, even though he got laid a total of zero times during the year. It was widely believed he just hadn't come to terms with his homosexuality yet. Spoon loved himself with a ferocity that would apall even the most narcissistic people on the planet and he had a collection of colognes that could gas most third world countries. Spoon had a passion for loud music, and not necessarily GOOD music. He would blare his stereo at the most ridiculous hours of the day and night, and since I was in the room closest to his, I'd march into his room regularly and threaten his pathetic existence. And his room was HUGE, and compared to my fucking mouse hole of a room, it was palacial, which only made me hate him even more. But, it was his stupidity that irritated me the most. When he brought his TV upstairs to his room, I brought my TV downstairs so the rest of the roommates could continue watching TV. Spoon came downstairs, looked at the TV, and asked "Who's TV is that?" "It's mine." "So, you brought your TV downstairs, then?" Yes, you fucking MORON!

5. What do you order most often when you go out to eat?

If I'm at a new place, I always like to try their fettucine alfredo. Otherwise, I have a weakness for ribs.

6. What's your cocktail of choice? Or beverage for the non-drinkers?

Crown Royal and Coke.

Bonus Question:
Can anyone explain how Arnold Schwarzenegger became the governor of California? And how we can get rid of him?

He was elected through a recall of an ineffectual and monumentally corrupt governor who had all the personality of an angry cobra. Arnold won the recall due primarily to his celebrity status. As a sidenote to this, I find it amazing how the true enemies of Arnold tried to paint him as (and still believe him to be) a goose-stepping Nazi. WTF? He said he admired Hitler's abilities as an ORATOR, and anyone who has ever seen a clip of Hitler pounding away at a podium has to admit the guy had an uncanny ability to inspire crowds through his speeches. Granted, he was a hateful and evil runt of a man who should rightly go down in history as one of the most despicable creatures ever to walk the earth, but the guy had a knack for public speaking. Having said that, I think I'm now qualified to be governor of California. How do you get rid of Arnold? Through an election.

Posted by Ryan at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2003

Studies That Could Change Your Life, But Probably Not

Some of the greatest breakthroughs to benefit mankind have come about as a result of important studies conducted by important people with important titles making important amounts of money.

Where would we be today, for example, if it weren't for the studies conducted by Masters and Johnson about the intracacies of human procreation? Well, my dreams would be far less interesting, for one thing. Where would we be if it weren't for the studies that led to automobile engine heat balance, car safety, car noise and riding comfort? Well, my dreams would be far less interesting, for one thing.

And, truly, where would we be if it weren't for the diligent folks working around the clock to understand why cookies crumble? Wait a minute, a study was conducted to find that out? Why, yes, there was.

According to an Oct. 2, Reuters news report out of London, British scientists say they may have worked out why the cookie crumbles. Every year, biscuit-makers throw away thousands of biscuits because they emerge from the oven cracked or broken. Thousands more reach the supermarket shelves but then crumble in the hands of their would-be eaters.

Well, okay, I guess that warrants a study. Doesn't it? I mean, isn't the phenomenon of crumbling cookies something that can tear families apart and lead to widespread rioting and looting?

Researchers at Loughborough University in central England say the problem may be due to cooking techniques and humidity.

"When you take (a biscuit) out of the oven it likes to absorb moisture from the atmosphere," Loughborough University's Ricky Wildman told BBC Radio Thursday.

It "likes" to absorb moisture? I think the real story here isn't the act of cookies or biscuits crumbling so much as it is the fact that cookies are apparently thirsty. I find that fascinating.

He described the process as like "an earthquake running through the biscuit."

"It's very exciting," he added.

I think Mr. Wildman really needs to get out more, maybe meet a nice girl and buy her some flowers. Just get out of the lab, man!

In other "exciting" news, we learn that dog breath is often times better than human breath. According to an Oct. 16 news report, again from Reuters and again out of London, we learn that more than half of Britons could have breath that smells worse than their pet's, according to a survey released Thursday. And women are the worst offenders, with three out of five failing a sulfur emissions test, according to research by toothpaste manufacturer Aquafresh.

Leave it to Aquafresh to go down the forbidden path of unlocking the secrets of the sulfur emissions jetted forth by humans and their pets. Is nothing sacred, Aquafresh? Is nothing sacred?! Perhaps I'm being too harsh here because I suspect that my own sulfur emissions, both front door and back, are probably appallingly high.

"Some mouths may be dirtier than cat litter," dentist Brian Grieveson said in a statement that accompanied the research.

Well, okay, I hope I'm not THAT bad. But, what if I am? What if people are secretly joshing behind my back, talking about "Old Cat Litter Breath Rhodes?"

"Oh, sure," all the women say. "Ryan's a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness, and I'd love to wrestle with him in a tub full of Jell-O, but he HAS to do something about his cat litter breath."

Thanks for the complex, Aquafresh. Like I needed another one.

Finally, we turn to yet another groundbreaking study that answers, once and for all, where the worst place is to pass gas. I, for one, find it hard to believe that there's a BAD place to pass gas, but that's just me.

According to results, um, "Yahoo.com/prnews/030826/nytu031_1.html">released" Aug. 26 by (who else?) Gas-X, the three worst places to pass gas are 1) at a business meeting 2) on a date and 3) in an elevator. Again, in my mind, those are the three BEST places to pass gas, but what do I know.

I think it's interesting that such a survey was even conducted, so I decided to learn more about it. Apparently, the online survey was made up of a national panel that included 1,534 men and women, 25 and over. Why am I never selected to sit on a cool panel like that?

Somebody should do a study to look into that.

Posted by Ryan at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Oct. 14, 2003

This week, Stewartville's contribution to mental illness offers up his views on space, styrofoam, patriotism, and even a little poetry. Shall we begin?

FOAMOSTYR Macheye thermacore Styrofoam. Now for the full wrap up of space. The last uncontrollable force of space is called wind, but the controlling factor for the wind is called BLUE MOON. "The BLUE MOON OF NOON:" Cold or hot. There will be those that say, "No Way," but those who say "No Way" don't call yourself Americans.


PS Firing sequence 123-132

The blue moon of noon? It has a good beat, and I can dance to it. I just don't understand how this guy can function enough in society to feed himself, let alone pay bills. But, whatever.

Posted by Ryan at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

Congratulations To China And All That, But. . .

Well, China's joined the space race.

With ground control watching, Yang unfurled the flags of China and the United Nations to "highlight China's persistent stand for peaceful exploration and exploitation of space," the government said.

Yayyy! Yay for peaceful exploration and exploitation of space! Yayyyy!

In a statement issued by Xinhua, Chinese President Hu Jintao said the launch was "the glory of our great motherland and a mark for the initial victory of the country's first manned space flight and for the significant, historic step of the Chinese people in the advance of climbing over the peak of the world's science and technology."

Um, yay? Woo hoo? Clap, clap?

Referring to China's earlier unmanned space launches, an announcer on the English-language government channel CCTV-9 invoked American astronaut Neil Armstrong's words upon first walking on the moon. "If these were small steps," the announcer said, "then now we are taking a giant leap into space."

Okayyyy, guys, we get it. Good job. Let's not overstate the matter here.

Seriously, I don't know where China intends to go from here, but I hope their addition to the space community gives NASA a much-needed shot in the butt to start seriously looking beyond near-earth orbit and expand their vision outward. I find myself strangely irritated every time I realize that I wasn't born yet when the last moon landing occured, and I'm kind of disappointed that we haven't been back, even to the moon, since.

I mean, shouldn't we have domed moon bases established by now? Shouldn't we be mining the moon for its rich helium -3 content and learning how to design other-worldly construction projects? I don't know. Maybe such things have been on the drawing boards for some time but are continually scrapped due to some failing here or there. I just think it's kind of disappointing that, in the four decades human beings have been exploring beyond the earth, we haven't been able to go farther. I understand that space does funny things to the human body, and we need time to address that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that we've just gotten lazy and have lost our imaginative spark.

There's a lot of space to discover. Let's get out there.

Posted by Ryan at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2003

Oh Yeah, The Cheddar X

Mmmmmm, X-rated Cheddar.

1. Do you think NJ just passing a law banning people from driving while drowsy will be effective in preventing accidents, or just another law that will fall by the wayside after a few years?

I really don't know how you'd enforce such a law. I mean, how does an officer tell if a motorist is drowsy? It's not like you can smell drowsiness on the breath or anything. I don't know enough about the particulars of the law, but from where I stand it's like trying to make a law against thinking sexual thoughts while driving. That law would SUCK!

2. What is the best book that you have ever read? What made it such an excellent book?

If you've never read Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, you're missing out on one of the best works of dark humor ever written. It starts out bizarre and ends bizarre, and is a laugh-out-loud scream everywhere in between. Whether it's Major Major Major Major only being available to be seen when he's out of the office, or Milo Minderbinder's ability to buy eggs for six cents and sell them for three cents, and still turn a profit, or the dead man in Yossarian's tent, or Nately's whore, you'll be treated to a cast of characters that expose war as the crazy and opportunistic machine that it is. I've only read it twice, but I should read it again, as well as its follow-up, Closing Time.

3. If you were a multi-billionaire and decided to donate to a charity or good cause, what would they be?

Cancer research would be a top priority, as would AIDS research. Although it's easy to say I'd donate to famine relief organizations, I'm not sure which ones. As a multi-billionaire, there's a lot that could be done, to put it mildly. The multi-billionaire I saw on TV who built a $430 million yacht he only sails occasionally makes me question the priorities of the super-rich, as if I needed any more reason to do so.

4. What was your best wedding present? If you've not been married before then best birthday present, same for the follow up below.

Best birthday present? Hard to say. Hard to remember. Probably the birthday party trips to a local hotel swimming pool with all my friends when I was really young.

5. What was the worst?


UPDATE: I don't mention my magazine articles much, because, well, they're dull as gray paint. But, I'm particularly happy with this one.

Posted by Ryan at 11:17 AM | Comments (0)

Basic Transportation

Last night, I drove to the Cities to stay with Melissa for the night. We hadn't seen each other in over a week, and the phone can grow tiresome, and eventually the itch to just BE with her overcomes the realization that driving to and through the Cities is an absolute pain in the ass, particularly when you consider that I'll be back on the same road the next morning before the sun is even up.

Driving back to Rochester today, though, as the sun crept over the horizon and illuminated the rapidly changing foliage colors, my thoughts were transported back in time to a similar morning ten years ago.

I was about one month into college, and I spent that first month basically in a haze of trying to learn a new way of life. Dorm life. College life. Dorm life for me consisted of a huge brick building located about three miles away from campus. Lourdes Hall was an old nun's quarters, and boy did it look it: plaster walls, tile floors, soaring ceilings crisscrossed by pipes, and steel doors that reverberated down the halls when they slammed shut. The rooms were about as Spartan as you can get. There was also an old heater in the corner that once melted my shoes from two feet away during a particularly cold winter evening. I hated that dorm room.

And I hated the dorm bus to campus even more. Lourdes Hall offered a free bus service to the main campus each morning, a loud, smokey, gigantic bus (with a hinge in the middle for better cornering) that arrived at campus about 45 minutes before I even had to be in class. I hated dragging myself out of bed so unnecessarily early to catch that bus every morning. But, I was told that Winona State University encouraged students to take the bus, so who was I to bitch? I was just doing as I was told.

I remember, though, as autumn progressed, watching the turn of the season each morning as the bus rumbled along and the sun poked through the surrounding bluffs. I remember the leaves: orange and red and yellow. They were being choked off from the tree, but during those brief moments when the sun flashed over their surface, they looked radiantly alive. But, more than anything else, I remember the bus ride drowsiness. It was a drowsiness that can only be achieved by valium. It was a drowsiness that made it painfully clear that my fencing class that morning was going to be an exercise in sluggish reflexes. I would sit in front of the gymnasium each morning, my head nodding as I tried to catch a precious half hour of sleept before class started. I hated those early mornings. I hated being so sleepy.

Then, one morning, about 10 years ago to this day, actually, as the bus pulled away from Lourdes Hall and made its way to campus, I noticed a student getting into his car and driving to campus.

"Hey," I thought to myself. "I have a car. In fact, we're passing by it right now. Why in the hell am I not driving to campus rather than catching this bus almost an hour before I have to? Why?"

Why, indeed. I never rode the bus again after that day, and I grew to savor the extra time soaking in the warmth of my bed. I felt monumentally stupid that it didn't dawn on my earlier that I had a fucking car, but that stupidity only lasted for a short while, because I'd fall back asleep again, and dream of naked women.

Posted by Ryan at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2003

A Rootin' Tootin' Wedding

The way I figure it, the cultural differences between the Islamic world and the West can be summed up by the way the two cultures observe weddings.

In the West, it used to be customary to throw rice at the newlyweds as a symbolic way of ensuring fertility. However, that practice has been curtailed as of late following the discovery that birds, after eating the rice, swelled up and died as the rice expanded in their stomachs. Oops. Sorry Tweety.

Instead, Western weddings nowadays usually acknowledge the bride and groom through the blowing of bubbles or, in an attempt to apologize to the birds of the world, the throwing of birdseed.

In many Islamic nations, on the other hand, it's customary to celebrate weddings by shooting guns into the air. They do this because. . . well, I have no idea why they do this. I imagine the tradition started something like this:

GUEST #1: I'm so extremely happy for the bride and groom right now, I can't resist hoisting my AK-47 and firing random rounds into the air!

GUEST #2: What are you doing bringing an AK-47 to a wedding?

GUEST #1: *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!*

GUEST #3: What is he doing? What's the matter with him? Somebody make him stop!

GUEST #2: Do you think I'm crazy? The guy's armed, and apparently stocked enough with ammo to be able to waste it shooting it into the air!

GUEST #3: Good point. Come to think of it, I'd rather join him than try to stop him. I'm going to run home quick and get my gun.

GUEST #2: Yeah, me too.

GUESTS #1, #2, #3: *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!* *Bang!*

And so the custom began. However, every time I see footage of celebrations being perplexingly augmented by gunfire, I'm forced to wonder where all those bullets go. What goes up must come down and all that. They have to go SOMEWHERE. Where?

Now we know.

Thanks to an Oct. 13, Reuters news report out of Belgrade, we learn that a two-seater sports plane on an unauthorized joyride was apparently shot down by mistake when it flew over a Serbian wedding party where guests were firing guns into the air, local media reported Sunday.

This type of thing would never happen with bubbles, or birdseed, or even rice. During Western weddings, you can be relatively certain the festivities won't bring down an aircraft cruising overhead.

"I heard shots from a wedding party which was very close to the crash site. Then I saw the plane in flames. It was shot in the left wing," witness Zoran Vukadinovic told reporters.

Yep, the pieces seem to fit, don't they? Let's see, you have gunfire, you have a plane in flames, apparently shot in the left wing. Hmmmmm. Elementary, my dear Watson, as Sherlock Holmes might say. Just for the record, I think that "Zoran" is a super-cool name.

"A few moments later, while attempting a crash landing, it was caught in overhead power cables," he said.

Man, that plane just couldn't catch a break.

Local media said neither of the men held a pilot's license.

Oh, so it's THEIR fault they were shot down over a wedding?

Firing guns into the air at weddings and other celebrations is common in Serbia.

Just a thought, but maybe it's time it becomes LESS common. There's a lot of non-lethal birdseed and bubbles in the world today. Come on, Serbia. Join us.

UPDATE: And, when you're wrong, you'd best admit, such as I'm about to do here. Mitch Berg points out Not to intrude, but Serbia is predominantly Eastern Orthodox, not Moslem. Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo are Moslem - but that's not where this happened, is it?

Followed by Michael Snider: Good for Mitch.

He's right, of course. Serbs are predominantly orthodox (I've been in Belgrade during the New Year when pop-corn gun fire sounds all over the place at midnight, then a larger bang -- my buddy looks over at me and says, "grenade"). Croats are predominantly Catholic, Kosovo's people are predominantly Muslim but the territory still sits within Serbia's borders (hence Slobo's desire to get rid of them all back in 1998), Bosnians can be Bosnian-Serbs, Bosnia-Croats or Bosnian-Muslims -- the ethnic mix is, or was, about 1/3 each (oh, forgot, there are also Croatian-Serbs from the Krajina region of Croatia, bulldozed in 1995, and Croatian Muslims from near the B/H border to the south.) Then there are the Slovenians, which are mostly Catholic but pretty homogeneous insofar as there are fewer Slovenian-Croats and Slovenian-Serbs, which is why when they seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991 (they were the first to declare independence) there were fewer cultural and territorial points of conflict.

This particular incident took place in central Serbia, far from any Muslim population (although the proximity of Muslims to Serbs with guns usually results in a great deal more gunfire, but that's for another time). Basically, Serbs rarely need a reason to shoot off a weapon.

What is it with me and eating crow this week? It's been a steady diet, let me tell you.

Posted by Ryan at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

The Ladybug Battle Continues

For those of you who don't already know, the Midwest is being invaded by Japanese beetles, otherwise known as ladybugs. This invasion, compliments of a USDA initiative undertaken in the late 1980s as a means to control soybean aphids, finally hit critical mass this years thanks to a drought-ridden summer followed by this October's Indian summer.

Make no mistake about it, the ladybugs are out in full stink-fucking fury. I blogged about them before, but the true extent of their invasion was laid bare this weekend when I went back to my hometown to check on my parents' house and do some end-of-the-year yardwork.

As I mowed the lawn Friday afternoon, it was a toss-up as to whether I was cutting more grass or more ladybugs. Some of the little buggers managed to take flight before the mower set upon them, but the vast majority became beetle mulch. The survivors, however, made their displeasure known by landing on me and excreting their stain-creating whatever the hell it is. Some stains were green, while other were brown, while still others were a combination of the two.

Oh, and they also bit me a lot. I'm sorry, I guess their bites are gingerly referred to as "pinches," as if the ladybugs are coyly flirting with me. Well, those "pinches" are painful little bastards. And, woe be it to you if you actually take revenge on the pinching little pukes, because the slightest squeeze makes them let loose with the most foul-smelling aerosol ever to be shot forth by a bug the size of a pea.

With the yardwork completed, I went inside to wash up, because I was covered in little specks of ladybug shit and ladybug stink. That's when I made the discovery that, upstairs, the ladybugs had staged a takeover of my parents' home. I mean, every corner of every room upstairs had a conglomeration of beetles hugging up against one another. Each corner, I think, housed a minimum of 10 to 15 ladybugs. They were EVERYWHERE.

So, out came the Raid. I sprayed Raid in every room, on every corner, on every surface. When I was done spraying, the entire upstairs was a fog of Raid that could have qualified as a weapon of mass destruction, at least according to the insects of the world. I retreated downstairs to wait for the Raid fumes to expire.

The aftermath was astounding. My parents' bedroom alone consisted of carpet that was 78 percent covered in ladybug carcasses. Hundreds upon hundreds of dead ladybugs littered the upstairs, including a large helping residing in the bathtub. And I STILL didn't kill them all. I saw several more resilient bugs clinging to life, and the drapes. So, out came the Raid again.

I never did get around to vacuuming up the little bastards. I'll get to that task the next time I'm home, provided the ladybugs haven't taken over the house completely.

Posted by Ryan at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2003

Limerick Contest, Where The Winner Wins Nothing

Michele, over at A Small Victory, is conducting another limerick contest. You don't win anything except bragging rights which, for me, is like the best prize ever. The rules:

-- Your limerick must contain the names/site names of at least one blogger.

-- Mentions of multiple bloggers (preferably with links) in your limerick will score you more points.

-- Putting the mentioned bloggers in a comprimising or scandalous position in your limerick gets points, as long as it is done so in a humurous manner, and not meant to intentionally hurt someone.

-- posting the limerick on your blog and linking back to this post will score points.
Getting the blogger(s) you mention in your limerick to link to you gets more points (you must leave a comment here with the link).

-- If you are not a blogger, but participating, you can get handicap points.

-- Mentioning anyone running in the presidential race, or anyone who is thinking about running in the presidential race of 2004 is forbidden.

-- You cannot mention me (Michele) in your limerick.

-- Extra points if you can squeeze in a reference to any of the following: donuts, the Yankees, hockey, Radiohead, menstrual cramps, Hello Kitty, PETA, Jonah Goldberg, NPR, The Village Voice, Google or Fark (that was a very random list, culled from walking through my blogroll and has no meaning, so don't look for it).

-- If you don't follow the standard limerick form, you are disqualified.

My submissions thus far are listed below:

Laurence Simon, the blogger of yore
Has a blog that features cat stories galore
One day Nardo attacked him
While another cat whacked him
Who picked Laurence Simon for the Dead Pool? Score!

The perplexing moonbat blogger, Hesiod
Had a real name of Hank, Bob or Ted
His political mind
Is one of a kind
Who knew that one could blog while brain dead?

James Lileks was writing his Bleat
And he was nude because of the heat.
Just then the phone rang
And Jasper nipped at his wang
Bad dog! That's not a dog treat!

A limerick praising me from Doggerelpundit :

Good Lim'ricks require a good planner,
And Ryan doth write in this manner.
His concepts are clever
His rhyming bad? Never!
(Oh, perhaps a small boost as a scanner)

My response:

Doggerelpundit writes words that do flatter
I'm so happy I couldn't be gladder
In fact, I'm so pleased
My bowels just released
And now here I sit in my own fecal matter.

I sure miss the fake blogger named Puce.
With misspellings he wrote fast and loose.
He was a hit real quick
With his directive to CLICK
And he was a magnet for commenting abuse.

The Instapundit, known as Glenn Reynolds
Spends his time stalking dog kennels
He prefers to eat puppies
That were once owned by yuppies
And spice them with paprika and fennel

Posted by Ryan at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2003

I Got Hit By A Train Once

Not many people can say that they got hit by a train and survived, but I can. Granted, I didn't get hit seriously or anything. I mean, it wasn't like I was walking down the tracks and got hit head on. If that were the case, well, I'd be dead now, wouldn't I?

No, my brief encounter with the train that hit me was far less serious, although it required a brain fart of staggering proportions on my part. Oh, and it also required the ingestion of vast quantities of beer.

It was the spring of my third year of college. I had just turned 21 a few months prior, and I was revelling in the novelty of being able to purchase alcohol legally from liquor stores. On that particular Saturday, Winona, Minn., was celebrating its annual Spring Fest, which more or less had become a college-wide excuse to get shitfaced by 1 p.m. For the record, that year was the LAST year that Winona allowed Spring Fest. But, anyway.

Following the Spring Fest morning concert, an event that involved students drinking cans of beer as fast as they could and throwing the empty cans at the band, those who could still engage in locomotion staggered their way back to campus. I was part of the exodus. It's funny how so many drunken young people think that repeatedly yelling "Whoo HOO!" somehow constitutes a form of communication. One person let's loose with a "Whoo HOO!" and that's following by several students across the street echoing with their own "Whoo HOO!" Really, what are they Whoo HOOing about?

As I made my way homeward, I remembered a request by my roommate for me to bring home a couple cases of beer, because we were going to have a small party that night. So, I stopped in at a local liquor store and made my purchase. It didn't really dawn on me that I would still have to walk six blocks carrying two cases of beer, but oh well.

With my purchases in hand, I continued my staggering trek homeward. About midway there, however, I realized that a train was coming. I judged the distance between me and the tracks and the approaching train, and I decided that, if I ran, I could probably make it across. So, I started running. It was at this point that fate intervened on my behalf. One of the cases of beer broke open just as I was reaching the tracks, and I had to stop my quest to beat the train in order to pick up a few loose cans of beer. In retrospect, I probably would have made it had the case not broke open. I probably would have beat the train by several seconds. But, still.

So, as I stood there, waiting for the train to pass by, I got this great idea. I mean, this was a fabulous idea. I noticed that most of the train cars were of the cylindrical variety, and I thought it would be cool to run my hand alongside one of those cylinders. I just couldn't resist the allure.

So, I extended my hand and touched the train, a train that was chugging past at about 40 miles per hour. That's when I realized that those smooth cylindrical train cars also have protruding ladders running up to the top of the cars, and one such ladder was zooming towards my arm at 40 miles per hour.

Realizing my folly, I tried to jerk my arm back to safety, but I wasn't quick enough, and the ladder smacked my fingers with all the force one would expect from a train. The impact spun me halfway around, and it did so so quickly I found myself with no sense of balance whatsoever, so I did a pathetic sort of indian style sit right there in the dirt.

I wish I had a picture of that moment. It was one of those snapshots in time that I'd love to be able to give to my parents sometime in the future after I've become somewhat successful in life. It would be a way of saying, yes, I'm doing all right now, but take a look at THIS. And then I'd show them a picture of me, sitting indian style in the dirt, with two cases of beer next to me (one broken open), staring in wondrous pain at my rapidly expanding right hand that had just been struck by the train slightly blurred by motion behind me.

In the time it takes a college student to shotgun a beer, my hand swelled up to the size of a catcher's mitt. I thought it was going to pop. And the pain! The pain was exquisite! I thought for sure my hand was broken in 4,342 places. It HAD to be.

Still, I had a mission. I had to get two cases of beer three more blocks to my apartment. And I did it! Carrying the broken open case under my left arm, and clutching the intact case in my left hand, I made it the rest of the way home without getting hit by another train or anything.

"Man," said Troy, my roommate, as I practically fell into the entryway. "What the fuck happened to your hand?"

By that time, in addition to being twice its normal size, my hand started to take on a purplish quality. There would be no intimate relations with my right hand for the foreseeable future. Even in class, holding a pencil was a real trick for well over a week. But it wasn't broken, which was astounding to me.

And the moral of the story? Don't get hit by a train, because the train ALWAYS wins.

Posted by Ryan at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed For Oct. 7, 2003

Well, all my speculation last week about the possibility that Stewartville's favorite oddity would no longer post his puzzling Miscellaneous ads has been discounted. He's back, and in extremely rare form this week. I mean, this time, he made the leap from weird to outright bizarre. But, don't take MY word for it:

FOAMOSTYR. Macheye thermacore styrofoam 9 mos. 28 days inside left knee cap. Lint & fuzz. What is known as 928 adrenaline run in the camouflaging of color white is not white, but camouflaged as red spindles.

What can you say after reading that except, "Jeez."

UPDATE: Out of curiosity, I did a Google search on FOAMOSTYR. No results found. How come I'm not surpised in the least? So, here's your chance to redeem yourself for the failed Simpsons quote game you all refused to play earlier. Your mission: come up with a definition for foamostyr. Come on, let's give this guy a legacy in which he came up with a new word. Do it for schizophrenics everywhere. Crissy Moran. And Crissy Moran again. Crissy Moran naked.

Posted by Ryan at 05:12 PM | Comments (1)

I'm Bored. Entertain Me

What's your favorite Simpsons quote? And, no fair using Ralph Wiggum's classic "The doctor said I wouldn't have so many nosebleeds if I just kept my fingers out of there." That's too easy.

UPDATE: Or don't. You bunch of lazy, good for nothing, Simpsons hating, grumble grumbles.

Posted by Ryan at 01:05 PM | Comments (25)

Someday, The Actors Will Rule The World

Granted, Ronald Reagan was an actor so, technically, an actor has already ruled the world. But, this whole Arnold thing has me pondering a national political theater in which celebrities are a shoo in for elections.

You know, I'm thinking Ben Afleck as a senator and J-Lo as the governor of Missouri.

Is it just me, or it just a tad creepy that Arnold won the California recall election based almost solely on movie catch phrases? As far as I've read, he never really said anything of substance during the debates. He never really showed that he had a grasp of anything even remotely related to the nuances of running a state government. And yet, there he is.

Granted, we had Jesse "The Mind" Ventura" over here in Minnesota-land, but at least he had some level of political experience prior to our monumental fuck up electing him to our governorship.

I guess I'm glad that it's California's turn to experience the ego of a celebrity intent on pursuing his own agenda of promoting himself, but I certainly don't envy that state. They'll learn, soon enough, what it's like to have an idiot in office.

As for our next president? I'm thinking Clint Eastwood. I think he'd rock.

UPDATE: I should note here, lest I call down the lightning bolts of Zeus from you politically-attuned readers out there, that I'm not making a political judgement here. I'm merely marveling at the apparent power of celebrity status when it comes to modern politics. The Terminator, much like the "The Mind" before him, apparently inspired a turnout of younger, atypical voters. I haven't closely followed the California recall because, well, I don't LIVE there, so there may be more to the election than simply celebrity status. But, from where I sit, that seems to be what most voters recognized, and that just strikes me as creepy.

Posted by Ryan at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2003

Some Flavors Just Can't Be Improved Upon

Having just gargled with new Natural Citrus Listerine, I can now officially say that the taste of Listerine simply cannot be improved. It will alway, ALWAYS, taste like battery acid mixed with pee.

The folks at Listerine have tried to hide the burning taste with mint, and now citrus flavor, but that stinging, burning, battery-acid/pee flavor is always in the background, defying all attempts to mask it.

Don't get me wrong: Listerine works. I mean, anything that tastes THAT awful, and is still marketed as an oral hygiene product, simply HAS to be good for bad breath. But, man, who knew that the road to fresh breath had to go through Listerine? It's just so nasty.

Posted by Ryan at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)

Getting The Axe

So, last night, I realized I needed toilet paper. I had exhausted my 32 roll horde I purchased many weeks ago. And, because I'm a particularly huge fan of taking a crap at home, I decided to go forth in search of butt wiping goodness.

Of course, any trip I make to the grocery store becomes an "I also need" excursion. Oh, I also need deodorant. I also need detergent. I also need milk. You know, the usual.

Now, normally, I'm not a sucker for advertising. I have my standby brand-name purchases. I always buy Tide, because that's what I've always used. I always buy Charmin, because that's what I always buy. I tend to rotate anti-perspirants, because my pits build up a tolerance so I end up switching brands to confuse them and stop them from leaking sweat beads. Still, I stay pretty loyal to Right Guard.

But, last night, I saw Axe body spray. And then, for some strange reason, I envisioned myself getting on an elevator with a hot chick who just can't resist my manly perfumed body, and she rakes at me with wild lust. You know, just like in the commercial. After that, I wasn't able to control myself. I HAD to have Axe body spray. And I don't mean just one bottle, either. I bought TWO. Different fragrances, of course.

Just for the record, the two fragrances I bought, "Voodoo" and "Tsunami," are quite pleasant.

So far today, I haven't been approached by even one female, let alone seduced on an elevator, but I remain optimistic.

Posted by Ryan at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2003

Oh Yeah, And Before I Forget: The Cheddar X

If you don't do the Cheddar X, you should, if for no other reason because it gives you something to post about.

1. Where would you be if you were in a band?

Passed out backstage with a heroine needle protruding from my arm and three hot groupie chicks trying to suck my flaccid wang back to life. I soooo should be a rock star.

2. What compels people to obey the law, the desire to avoid prison or caring for their fellow man? Why? Why not?

I think the majority of human nature embraces order over anarchy as it's simply more conducive to survival that we be civil to one another. Laws, provided the laws are fair, provide structure and balance to human societies and enforce the ideals of right and wrong. The fear of reprisal, such as prison (and the rape awaiting you there) keeps most people in line. Still, I think that speeding ticket I got last Christmas was a total pile of fucking shit.

3. What's your favorite secret trick or shortcut either you can do or you know about?

Well, if I told you, it wouldn't a secret any more, now would it? Stop your prying man. Just stop.

4. There has recently been quite a bit of exposure regarding biased reporting from Iraq. Is it the responsibility of the news agencies to report good news as well as bad news?

Well, yeah, duhhhhhh. To hear the news media tell it, you'd swear the coalition was losing the war, when in fact rebuilding accomplishments occur every day, but you never hear about those. Virtually all hospitals and universities are back in operation, hardly the hallmark of a nation wallowing in a quagmire. By reporting only the negative, and playing it up so monumentally, it just drives the lunatic agenda further and makes them think they're winning. Media organizations have an obligation to report on both sides. That's basic Journalism 101, and it's something the big news media outlets have forgotten in the name of selling stories.

5. What should the age of consent be and why?

Jeez, I know people who are in their 30s who have no business copulating. I guess 18 is as good an age as any. If kids are feeling the itch, chances are they're going to go ahead and do it. Therefore, I think setting an age of consent is not nearly as important as sexual education, so if kids do decide to bump uglies, they're at least armed with the information they need to do it safely. Of course, I'm admittedly biased here, what with my father being a sexual education teacher and all, but I do know that the ultra-religious kids who were pulled out of my father's sex ed classes on theological grounds were also the first ones to get their girlfriends knocked up before they were out of high school, or shortly thereafter. I, however, am now 28 and child and disease free. amazing what a little education and common sense can do for a person.

6. Are you a Stealth Blogger? That is, do you let the people in your life know you blog? If so, why? If not, why not?

All my family members know about my blog, including cousins and aunts and uncles. I don't know if they visit regularly, and frankly I don't care. Actually, I know my parents don't read me any more. Oh well. The girlfriend knows, pretty much all my friends know. What can I say? I'm out there, Jerry, and I'm loving every minute of it.

Posted by Ryan at 02:09 PM | Comments (0)

Bug Hullaballoo And Insane Heart Rates

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the Japanese beetle (or lady bug), but I'm here to tell you that they have control of Minnesota right now. Take several consecutive days of abnormally cold temperatures, stir in an indian summer, and BAM!, we're talking beetle explosion.

I'm not kidding. These bugs were everywhere yesterday. I went for a five mile run, and I had to keep batting the annoying buggers off my shirt. A little known thing about the innocent-looking lady bug: the bastards occasionally bite, and they leave some sort of excrement on white shirts that leave a dark stain. I've decided I don't like lady bugs.

Lazy weekend. I went up to the cities to see Melissa. Upon my arrival, we had sex. If there's one thing a week of absence will do, it will build up a lot of sexual need. I had scarcely entered her apartment before we found ourselves deep in the sheets. Any weekend that begins with sex is bound to be, at least, above par.

Saturday, we went to a Halloween outlet, and I was disappointed at the overall lack of realistic Halloween gear. What can I say? I like creepy shit. As we left the store, however, we came to the realization that the day had become stellar: warm sun, blue sky. So, we broke out the rollerblades and trekked all around the trails traversing the Como Park area. Minnesota is funny that way. You take for granted all the really nice summer days, just assuming you're entitled to them, but when a nice fall day rolls around, you savor it like the last Jolly Rancher in the pack or Kelly Clarkson.

This is going to be a bitch of a winter. Mark my words. Lots of snow. Bitter cold. It shall test the resolve of even the most seasoned Minnesotan. Perhaps I should buy a snowmobile this year.

Speaking of buying things, I'm now in the hunt for a house, or at least a townhome. I want my own place. I want a place that is uniquely mine. I want an office decorated like a Japanese room. I want a bedroom that doesn't also serve as a computer room and living room. I want space. And, damn it, I want a dog.

Last night, I went to bed fairly early for a Sunday evening. 10:30. Come midnight, I awoke with a roaring heart rate. It felt like my heart was trying to burst from my chest and flop around on the carpet. This happens once in awhile, and I'm not sure why, although I suspect sodium intake, or at least something that has to do with my diet for the day, has a lot to do with it (last night was Famous Dave's ribs and fries, so you do the math). It's an incredibly uncomfortable experience. One minute I'm happily sleeping away, the next minute I'm snapping awake, my heart pounding in my chest like I've just sprinted for three miles.

I tried watching television. I tried doing pushups. I tried pretty much everything. Finally, I ended up grabbing a beer and nursing that while I surfed the web. Hey, I figured, beer is a depressant, right? I don't know how solid my reasoning was, but whatever the case, my heart rate subsided after about half a can. Don't look for my name in the medical journals any time soon, but the Rhodes Almanac now specifically states that "Half a can of beer can bring down an out of control heart rate."

I can live with that.

Posted by Ryan at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2003

A Man Of The People

"I don't know what is marijuana. Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand." -- Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien

Posted by Ryan at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

Pop-Ups Keep Popping Up

An open letter to all online advertising Web designers:

I don't click on your pop-up ads. I don't. I won't. Knock it off. At what point, in what meeting, was it decided that the best way to connect with potential customers is to assault them with irritating pop-up ads while they surf the Web for things they ARE interested in? It makes no fucking sense.

When I'm on Excite.com, and I try to surf elsewhere, I don't need an ad popping up telling me all about a Speed Blaster Upgrade. I don't fucking care. It's just another fucking window I have to close. Do you honestly think inconveniencing me constitutes a sound marketing strategy? It's like shopping at a grocery store and having a stock boy race by and slap a "10% Off on Baby Wipes" coupon on my forehead. First off, that would really piss me off. Second, I don't fucking need Baby Wipes.

And stop with the swirling little animation ads that appear in the smack dab middle of the page I'm trying to view. That's not working either. I want to read the text behind that annoying fucking thing, but no, I have to sit back and wait for the full animation segment to wrap up so I can close the ad and read the page unhindered. I can assure you, that does little to impress me and makes me even more apt not to ever, fucking EVER, buy your fucking product.

I understand that it's your job to come up with innovative online marketing vehicles. But you simply have to fucking realize that your goal here is not to alienate your audience by irritating us to the point of lunacy. If I want your stupid ass product, I'll go looking for it. So, why don't you, oh, I don't know, put a nice non-intrusive ad in the corner somewhere, something that catches the eye without prompting a flood of fucking additional windows to open. After all, I'm surfing for news and information here. I did not log on so I could play a perpetual fucking game of digital whack-a-mole.

I would also like to point out that I think pop-up ads and, to some extent, cookies, in some ways represent, to me, some sort of tampering with my computer. I know you think you're just gathering valuable marketing data, but the fact is you're fiddling with the settings and preferences of my computer. MY computer, not yours. I'd appreciate if you just kept your grubby fucking hands off my computer. If, for example, you came into my house to see what sort of cereal I eat and what brand of light bulb I favor, I'd have pretty much free range to send you out the door with my shoe buried heel deep in your ass, and I have to wonder, really, what the difference is when it comes to MY computer.

I hope you take my comments under advisement, and that you will, in all due haste, go fuck yourself.

Thank you.

Posted by Ryan at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

Start Of A Strange Autumn

Yesterday morning, as I exited the warmth of the house and entered the nipping chill of this unusually cool start to October, I noticed something I had never before witnessed. First off, I should note that there was frost on the ground. I've seen frost before, so that was no big deal.

But, all down the street, I noticed that trees were shedding their leaves, and I mean they were just dropping their leaves like snow. These were healthy green leaves, without a trace of fall color to them. Yet they were just cascading from the trees, piling up in enormous blankets in the yards.

When I got back from work, people were dutifully raking up mounds and mounds of green leaves. I've never seen such a thing before. Practically every single leaf on those trees, and trees all over town, were virtually bare. It was like the fall season kicked things into super fast forward.

Does it have to do with an early frost? Does it have to do with our summer drought? Can anyone explain it?

Posted by Ryan at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

North Korean Marketing In High Gear

Arms Dealing Nation Excited About New Nuclear Weapons Campaign

PYONGYANG (Rhodes Media Services) -- Determined to further establish itself as a world leader in arms dealing, North Korea has been heavily focusing on its "We Have Nukes, Too" advertising campaign.

North Korea has been extremely successful in branding itself as a bad boy, rebel without a cause, and it has built a loyal customer base in such countries as Yemen, which has been an enthusiastic buyer of North Korean-made SCUD missiles.

"Our sales really took off after we were named to the Axis of Evil by President Bush," said North Korea's chief marketing manager, Kim Jong Park. "You simply can't BUY exposure like that. Now that we have nukes, we don't have to rely on lucky breaks like that any more. Now we can just yell 'Nukes! We got nukes here! Get your nukes right here! Made fresh daily from one of the two remaining members of the Axis of Evil! Satisfaction guaranteed!' And we don't have to pay much for advertising, either because, if we just blurt out 'Nukes!' pretty much every news organization in the world runs with it. I'm telling you, it's a pretty sweet deal, and it makes my job really easy."

Park said it was also a stroke of marketing genius to name their missile delivery systems Nodong and Taepo Dong, because they appealed to customers with a sly sense of humor.

"Yemen can't wait to get their hands on a Taepo Dong. Any Taepo Dong," said Park. "I mean, think about it. How many nations would like to attack another country using some Taepo Dongs? That's classic comedy with a little mayhem thrown into the mix for good measure."

Posted by Ryan at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2003

Schizophrenic Screed for Sept. 30, 2003

It's not looking good this week, folks. There are indications in this screed that this may be the nutball's last installment. But, don't take my word for it, read for yourself.

MACHEYE OFFICIALLY OVER. Cold eagle left LX7. Now we can say the end to the Holocaust, the end to WWII, the end to all wars. No more gains. Those that want to drag it out & hide behind the proof now can be called a traitor to the U.S. That's called aiding and abetting.


PS The final chapter can be & will be called Mach 5000-LX7 digitizing. That's all. Thanks America for the great help.

Wait a minute. Somebody is helping this guy to do whatever it is this guy does? Stop that right now, unknown helper!

Posted by Ryan at 08:06 PM | Comments (0)

Salam Pax On Iraq

Although his blog has been silent for some time, I went out in search of Salam Pax today just to see where he's been. Well, he's been a lot of places. If there's one success story to come out of the whole Iraq war, it's Salam Pax. Anyway, I found a question and answer segment over at the Guardian. In it, Salam had some interesting things to say about the war and occupation. You can read the whole thing, but some of the items I found the most interesting are here.

When asked if he wanted occupation forces out of Iraq: no not yet please, if this is going to work it will have to be done with the help of whoever is willing to help us and it is going to take a lot of time. so if you don't mind, please wait around a little longer. and maybe invite some friends [UN] it makes the party better.

On marketing the war: oh the motives question. whatever they told us the motives and reasons were, don't trust them. I personally think there is a commitee living under ground controlled by grey aliens who make these decisions :) no seriously, didn't rumsfeld go on TV and say that going with the WMD argument was a political decision, you see it is all about marketing. how are they going to sell the war to their domestic markets. nice big posters of mushroom clouds always work. everything that has happened now in the UK and the US is just making me trust politicians even less. but it is nice that we got rid of Saddam.

On Iraq then and now: one of the problems is that we are very stuck in the now. because people's daily lives have become so difficult the last couple of months they tend to forget that an absolutly amazing thing has happened and that a whole new era has started, we are just going thru the painful process of the birth of the new Iraq. this is what I think. you need to remind most people of that alll the time the Governing Council we have should keep the hope up and keep the focus on the future alawys.

On media reports throughout Iraq: the truth is that the situation in the north and south of Iraq is not like central Iraq. the south is not great but it is mellower and the north is like a different country all together. of course there is much more to be done and it is not being done fast enough but once someone sits and gives you the numbers you just realize how big the effort needed is and just how long it is going to take, I had a chance to meet with the UNDP poeple who were working on the electricity issue and their estimate is 5 years to meet demand because it was short in the first place. the CPA and the Governing Council should try harder than they are now but I don't really think they are doing absolutely nothing. they are just slow and up to their eyeballs in bureaucracy

On Arab media: not Jazeera or Arabiya they feel as if they come with an agenda, I don't really trust them that much and I have seen people's reaction to their presence on the street. their reporters were about to be beaten up a couple of times. I don't want this do sound as a plug for them but they are really very balanced, go check Iraq Today

On obtuse media, and rebuilding responsibilities: that is because it is "Media", they only look at what they like. lots of businesses are open and private banks are back up, there are people who have set up huge generators and are selling electricty in neighborhoods. these things are all done by Iraqis with no help from the coalition forces, we don't need them to do these things we need them to help bring up the bigger structures.

Posted by Ryan at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

There's Real Fighting, And Then There's Hollywood

I'm a black belt, and that doesn't mean shit.

Despite nearly seven years of martial arts training, I'm still relatively certain that, under the right circumstances, I could endure an ass stomping the likes of which you'd never know.

If someone is truly enraged, with adrenaline and whatever cocktail of drugs swimming in their system, there's a very good chance that all the martial arts training in the world won't be able to prevent the inevitable ass thumping.

These thoughts came to me last night as I drove home from my hapkido class. There are some really BIG guys in the beginner's class that I teach. I mean, professional football offensive linemen big. When they throw a punch at me, I feel a genuine obligation to get the hell out of the way. I find myself wondering, if I ever bump into a human behemoth in a bar who wants to crush me, whether I'd be able to defend myself.

The answer is yes. And no. The conventional wisdom is that, if I end up in a fight situation, I should let my opponent make the first move, thus absolving me of some sort of legal argument that I "started the fight." What I've come to believe is that is complete and total bullshit.

If I let someone attack me first, there's a real chance that attack will be successful. And, then I'm screwed. Even a slight grazing of the head with a fist is all that's required to unbalance and disorient me enough to make me vulnerable for an onslaught of follow-up blows.

Therefore, I've come to the conclusion that, if someone takes an aggressive posture with me, I won't be waiting for their first attack. I'll be crashing into them with knees and elbows flying, and I won't stop until they're motionless on the ground. And then I'm going to run away as fast as my fucking legs can carry me.

Back when I was a red belt, during my buddy's bachelor party, I ended up in a situation that should have ended differently, in retrospect. I asked a drunken kid to turn down the stereo at 4 a.m. and he refused. So, I turned it down for him. He then turned it up even louder. I then turned it off. He then tried to break a beer bottle on the kitchen counter and come at me with it, except the bottle didn't break, so he held the fully intact beer bottle in his hand and threatened to whack me with it.

That's when I tried to "negotiate" with him. I tried to explain to him that jail is bad, and he loudly asserted that he wasn't afraid of jail. My negotiations weren't going well. In a move I still can't quite fully understand, I shot my hand out in a lightning quick motion and . . . I snatched the bottle from his hand. The bottle made a super cool transition from his hand to mine. I was now the armed opponent, but only for a moment, because I threw the bottle behind me.

Even though the situation was defused with no loss of blood or consciousness by either party, the altercation still bothers me. What the fuck was I doing trying to "negotiate" with a bottle-wielding drunk? The moment he came at me with a bottle was the moment I should have laid into him with every foot and fist technique I know. By hesitating, I was putting myself at more risk. It haunts me to think I could be so cautious when instant action was required.

Since that incident, I've made a point of working out each week with the heavy bags at my martial arts studio, practicing, over and over, cutting the distance between myself and the bag and bashing it repeatedly with my knees, elbows and fists. I found myself wondering last night if all that practice will be enough "the next time."

Hopefully, "next time" won't happen, but if it does, I hope I kick the fucker's ass.

Posted by Ryan at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)
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