September 28, 2007

Bestest Video Of The Week

There are some things that simply can't be improved upon, and the awesomeness of that video is one of those things.

Posted by Ryan at 03:01 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Nick Coleman: "Intellectually Deficient"

It's been awhile since I've performed a solo literary ass rape on Nick Coleman's tripe, but THE DROUGHT ENDS TODAY:

You knew the powers that be would take bold action after the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge. And it didn't cost a dime!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Nick Coleman is still ranting and raving about the 35W bridge collapse, the cause of which has yet to be fully investigated, but which Nick feels he's expert enough to opine about as if he knew it was going to collapse a week before. Because, Lord knows there were countless Coleman columns penned about "structurally deficient" bridges prior to Aug. 1, 2007. Why, Coleman was a veritable fountain of outrage when it came to the condition of Minnesota bridges. Just kidding. Coleman was more outraged about President Bush giving a thumb's up sign that Coleman mistook for the middle finger. Not that there was ever a follow-up column on his part correcting that error or anything.

The Minneapolis bridge was one of 70,000 "structurally deficient" bridges in the country that Americans have worried about.

Oh, really, Nick? Americans have worried about those bridges? Really? Besides you?

So government officials are going to make us stop worrying. Not by fixing bridges -- that would cost billions -- but with smoke and mirrors and baloney.

Smoke and mirrors and baloney? See also: Nick Coleman columns.

Here's their idea: Change the terms. State highway officials want engineers to stop scaring us with spooky labels. You may have thought it was the sight of cars in the water and crying people trapped under tons of concrete and twisted steel girders that scared us. Nope. It was the terminology.

Or, hey, maybe they've realized idiot columnists like Nick Coleman are hoisting the term "structurally deficient" up as some sort of damning indictment, as if "structurally deficient" somehow means 70,000 bridges nationwide are going to collapse tomorrow. Gosh, it's almost as if Nick Coleman is guilty of the kind of unnecessary fear mongering he's so quick to accuse others of.

So our highway departments have rolled up their sleeves and, with American know-how and a "can-do" attitude, have begun a rebranding effort to lull us back to sleep.

No, Nick. They're engaged in a rebranding effort so morons like you don't seize upon a lazy narrative rather than actually looking at the facts of the matter.

No more unpleasant labels such as "structurally deficient." We need something soothing.

Not "soothing," dipshit, just more accurate in description, so dung heaps like you don't equate "structurally deficient" with "OMG! We're all going to die!"

I suggest calling them "Ready For Rapid Gravity Removal" bridges. That's what happened to our "structurally deficient" bridge. It fell down. And it killed people. Or perhaps I should say, it lowered itself into a river and some citizens were inconvenienced.

Which of course lead to Nick Coleman "Penning reactionary drivel," or "Obsessing over an isolated incident and insisting it's the result of a much larger problem," or "Writing complete and utter crap."

Brave leaders, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau, who also serves as Boss of Highway Construction, have done little more than pose for pictures while avoiding responsibility and robbing money from other overdue and underfunded highway projects to try to pony up the front money for a new I-35W bridge. They can't keep the state highway headquarters from falling down, but they are re-engineering English.

Who shot who in the what now?

Normally, someone would have to cite proof of such rapid fire allegations, but Nick's accustomed to his nonsense slipping past the editing desk like water through a strainer.

They have priorities.

One brave new wordsmith at MnDOT asked this: If car dealers call used cars "previously owned," why can't we find a term for "structurally deficient" that isn't unpleasant?

Wait. What? Is Nick being sarcastic here? I would hope so. Otherwise, he's making a pretty serious charge.

"Death Trap"? Too gloomy. "No Tax Bridge"? Too truthful.

Wait! I have it!

Instead of "structurally deficient," let's call them "faith-based bridges": Close your eyes and pray you get across.

Okay, I'm going with Nick just being sarcastic, in that "Nick trying to be funny but failing miserably" sort of way. You can almost imagine Nick driving around the Twin Cities, bracing himself and casting a wistful eye at a picture of his family on the dashboard just before he crosses each and every bridge and overpass. Such is the life of someone lacking a life. Sad thing is, there are people who actually read his nonsense and nod enthusiastically, so eager to adopt the most simplistic of bridge-collapsing narratives.

Whatever these geniuses decide to call bridges like the one that fell into the river, I don't think they will fool anyone.

Not with Nick Coleman on the case, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

"Great idea," Larry Decheine said sarcastically on Thursday as he was watching workers dismantling the 35W bridge wreckage. "Let's not face facts. Let's just change the wording."

This is, of course, the Nick Coleman "man on the street" interview we've all come to know and love.

Decheine, a retired Mounds View city worker, came down from Blaine with his wife, Georgia, and their friends Ray and Carol Fortuna of Ham Lake to view the disaster site from the 10th Avenue Bridge.

It was their first look.

"I keep thinking about that little baby that went into the river, with her mom," Georgia was saying. "Innocent people just going about their innocent little lives. It's really sad."

I told her she had it all wrong. There is nothing to worry about. We are working on coming up with better terminology for shaky bridges.

Sad thing is, I can actually imagine Nick saying such a thing. In fact, I wouldn't be one bit surprised if he conducted interviews in just such a way so as to elicit the kind of quotes he thrives on. Oh, wait. . .

"Yes, words are the cheap treatment," a 79-year-old retired 3M engineer named Tor Flatebo said when I explained the Word Fix to him. Flatebo and his wife, Lisa, came from Oregon -- where Flatebo has designed 30 bridges -- for a grandson's wedding, and to see the bridge.

Ooh, let's cap "Word Fix" so as to grant it extra meaning. Also, note how Flatebo came to Minnesota from Oregon for a grandson's wedding. . . AND to see the bridge, as if they both carried the same weight. Oh, sure, their grandson got married, but they took far more pictures of the bridge, by gum.

"Whatever they call this, it's a disaster for sure," he said. "You can see that. The bridge wasn't watched properly. They are all rusting away. It never should have happened."

Watched properly? There are bridge watchers? All what are rusting away?

Nearby, an amazed Danish banker named Mikkel Gronning was staring at the wreckage with his wife, Pia, and their two children. Planning a summer visit to Minneapolis to see relatives, they were stunned by the collapse.

Nick Coleman: your one stop shop for "amazed Danish bankers."

"We worried, 'What's going on in this place we are going?' People died here! If this happened in Denmark, the people would be angry and some politician would lose their job. This would never be forgotten. People would talk about this for 100 years."

It's at this point Nick must have looked up and realized it was close to 5 p.m. That's the only way to explain the completely nonsensical ending to this completely nonsensical column.

Well, that's Old Europe for you. Those people just don't know how to solve problems.

They would never be smart enough to change the words.

Cue the crickets chirping, and the sole coughing guy towards the back of the room.

Posted by Ryan at 09:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 26, 2007

Disarm That Man!

Yes, I posted a link to this video back in 2004, but I thought I'd check to see if it's been moved to YouTube. And of course it was. Still makes me laugh like crazy.

Posted by Ryan at 03:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 25, 2007


Considering the picture of the gay Iranians on the gallows I posted yesterday, I find it somewhat ironic my ThunderJournal is sporting the occasional targeted ad for "Spinal Injury lawyer."

That is all.

Posted by Ryan at 09:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Driveway Expansion Update

It turns out, after two hours of me running around between every governMENTAL office throughout the city, you don't actually require a building permit to pour a driveway extension.

Oh, sure, the driveway extension has to adhere to certain regulations (which mine does *taking a bow*), but no license required. Go figure.

Posted by Ryan at 08:45 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 24, 2007

What Did Obi-Wan Say About "Point of View" Again?

Uploaded by luvnews

In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country.

No, I don't suppose so. . .


Posted by Ryan at 02:21 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 21, 2007

The Tribunal

In case you're interested, I was a member of a fisking trio that tore Nick Coleman a FRESH RECTUM.

Posted by Ryan at 08:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Idea That Should Have Been Mine



Granted, I would have called it something more catchy, like "Bottled Bush," or "Vageline" or "Crotch Rot." Is it just me, or does that model have the severe look of someone who just oozes angry Vulva?

Key Quote: "VULVA Original is not a perfume. It is a beguiling vaginal scent which is purely a substance for your own smelling pleasure. Breathe in and enjoy, anytime, anywhere, the odour of a beautiful woman."

Just imagine, walking into your boss's office, only to see him taking a big whiff of Vulva.

YOU: Oh, sorry, boss.

BOSS: Don't you knock?!

Not that I read up on the product or anything, but apparently you rub Vulva on the back of your hand using a special applicator. You then wait a few moments for it to be absorbed into the skin, at which point you're free to sniff the back of your hand until your nose tingles with the scent of Vulva.

Honestly, how does one become so addicted to the "tangy" aroma of a female's crotch they have to keep a flask of Vulva handy? Is there a 12 step plan in place for dealing with such an addiction?

UPDATE: You know, the more I think about it, the more obsessed with Vulva I'm becoming. For example, notice the package says "Vulva Original," which implies a sequel or follow-up product. And, really, which woman in the world has a claim to the smell of the original Vulva? Eve, I suppose, if you want to get all Biblical. But, then again, there's Summer's Eve douche, which is supposed to scour out that "tangy" smell.

I wonder, if you were to combine Vulva with Summer's Eve, would there be a kind of matter/anti-matter reaction that produces nearly limitless energy? I'm not saying you should try it, necessarily, but I'm curious.

Also, notice the packaging says "Vaginal Scent," which again implies some sort of alternative scent yet to be announced. I'm imagining a throng of horned up males, standing in line, sniffing aggressively at the back of their hands, waiting to purchase their first bottle of "Vulva 2.0: Taint Scent."

LOL UPDATE: Jimmo comments: "$30 per phial? For something I could make myself with a can of StarKist and a strainer?"

That made an already good day, even better.

PROPHETIC UPDATE: I suppose I should be bracing myself for the types of targeted Google ads that are going to start appearing here as a result of this post.

Posted by Ryan at 09:51 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Ah, the joys of Guv-mint

Okay, so, as some of you may or may not know, I've been in the process of digging out a 23 ft. x 13 ft. expanse of what used to be my lawn in order to eventually, hopefully, create a driveway addition so The Girl or I no longer have to park on the street, depending on who's week it is to get the garage (yes, a one car garage).

First off, don't think, FOR A SECOND, digging out a 23 x 13 foot expanse of lawn, with a spade, is easy. I made that mistake. Now, over a month later and seven truckloads of dirt disposed of in a variety of ways (some legally questionable), I've decided it's a task that should be hired done if it's at all financially feasible.

ANYWAY, it's all finally dug out. 23 ft. x 13 ft. x six inches deep. It's ready to be framed up, leveled out with gravel fill, and topped off with concrete.

Once I get the building permit, which is apparently more difficult than digging the hole in the first place.

Yesterday, I was introduced to the fantastic world of Rochester/Olmsted County bureaucracy. Thinking, foolishly, that getting a building permit would be a simple enough affair, I left work an hour early and went to the Olmsted County Government Center. Once there, I wasn't sure, exactly, where I was supposed to go, so I went to the window that made the most sense, which was "Property Records," among other things.

There, I asked one of the clerks if I was in the right place to obtain a building permit. Much to my surprise, she said "no," and proceeded to tell me I had to go to the Public Works facility, which was about 15 minutes across town from where I currently was.

Since I'd never had to apply for a building permit before, I figured the clerk knew what she was talking about, so I went back to my car and journeyed to the Public Works facility, walked up to the front desk, and asked if I could get a building permit.

"And for what kind of building project, sir?" I was asked.

"A driveway extension."

"A driveway?"

"Well, kind of like a parking space off the driveway."

"Oh, we don't issue that kind of building permit."


"You need to go to the Public Works office at the government center," she explained.

"But. . . I just came from there."

"From the government center on 4th Street?"

"Yes, that government center. They told me to come here for a building permit."

"We just issue permits for buildings, not driveways. If you hurry, you can get back there before 5."

So, lacking any further argument, and foolishly assuming once again the person I was talking to actually knew what she was talking about, I drove back to the government center, and talked with the same woman who sent me to the Public Works facility.

"Yeah, I was here awhile ago asking about a building permit, but I didn't mention it was for a driveway project," I explained.

"Are you sure you went to the right building?"

"Pretty darned."

It was at this point when another clerk stood up and started relating how when she and her husband did their garage project, they had to first go to Rochester City Hall and THEN to the Public Works facility. This inspired a lot of conversation amongst all the other clerks, and the eventual consensus was reached that I should try to run over to the City Hall building, which I did, but it was after 5 p.m., which is the exact time all City Hall employees vanish as if taken by The Rapture.

So, here I sit, with a huge hole in my driveway and no permit to de-hole-ify it, or even any idea where/how I'm supposed to obtain said permit.

Posted by Ryan at 09:10 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 20, 2007


Caroline says: I don't know. This fruit seems bruised.

Ryan says: Bruised Fruit would be a great name for a. . .

Ryan says: Bruising the fruit would actually be a most awesome euphemism for masturbation.

Caroline says: Hmmm. Perhaps. It doesn't do anything for me, though.

Ryan says: No, you're still stuck with "Flicking the bean."

Ryan says: Or, "Playing with the little man in the boat."

Caroline says: Yeah. I got nothin'.

Ryan says: Or, my personal fave: "Rubbin' Hood."

Caroline says: I thought it was something about a guy in a canoe.

Ryan says: Possibly. I'm not completely up-to-date on my female masturbation slang.

Caroline says: Heh. Slangin' the 'tang.

Posted by Ryan at 08:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 19, 2007

Magical Bat, Indeed

Holy crap.

Posted by Ryan at 01:50 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 17, 2007

Animal Planet

Caroline says: Can't make this stuff up:

Ryan says: "Animal expert Jack Hanna and an 11-month-old flamingo became trapped while trying to squeeze through a security turnstile at an Ohio airport. It took firefighters to finally get the flamingo out."

Ryan says: Screw Jack Hanna, apparently.

Caroline says: If it weren't for my flamingo ...

Ryan says: Well donkey not impressed.

Caroline says: Well Donkey gives stamp of "Meh" to that story.

Posted by Ryan at 01:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Considering Myself on Notice

Somebody visited my ThunderJournal, and they had a domain origination of DHS.GOV.

That's a touch disconcerting.

Posted by Ryan at 01:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 14, 2007

Hee Haw!

Well, this week, for me, seems to be revolving around "Silence of the Lambs," for whatever reason. First, I came across the Buffalo Bill theme music, "Goodbye Horses," which I linked to in the preceding post. Then, a DONKEY WENT AND FELL DOWN A WELL.

The picture that runs with the story is funny all by itself: the imploring look on the donkey's face; the firefighter apparently scratching his head in bemusement. You can almost imagine the donkey screaming, in a Catherine Martin sort of wail: "Don't leave me here!"

But then there's this picture:


"It puts the lotion on its fur, or else it gets the water. . . Brrrr!"

Posted by Ryan at 11:28 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Having a Little Pun

Ryan says: Maybe he's singing "GOOD BUY HORSES."

Ryan says: It may be a song about a discount horse outlet.

Caroline says: That's a different angle.

Caroline says: So are the horses at Good Buy Horses second-hand horses?

Caroline says: Or perhaps they have slight defects, which is why they can be sold for less.

Ryan says: No, no. They're a Good Buy.

Caroline says: Wow. That sounds too good to be true.

Ryan says: Now, if the chain was called Good Buh Bye horses, you may have a valid point.

Caroline says: Good Buh Bye Horses: Our Horses Are "Meh"

Ryan says: See Ya Stables!

Ryan says: Exiting Equestrians!

Caroline says: Hay Hay Horses!

Caroline says: We're Neiiiigh-ver Undersold!

Ryan says: Foal me once, shame on you. Foal me twice. . .

Ryan says: Supposed to be colt this weekend.

Caroline says: Brrrr ... filly!

Ryan says: You know, I just had a thought.

Caroline says: Get out!

Ryan says: What if it's "Good Bi-Horses?"

Caroline says: Well, that's a horse of a different color!

Ryan says: That'a whole different avenue entirely.

Ryan says: That would almost be. . .

Ryan says: Okay, I'm reaching on this one. . .

Ryan says: Geighhhhh.

Caroline says: Oh no you DI'N'T.

Ryan says: *meekly* I did.

Ryan says: It was bad, wasn't it?

Caroline says: Well, since you mentioned it ... yes.

Ryan says: I feel like such a horse's ass.

Caroline says: It was pretty sad(dle).

Ryan says: I was just trying to stirrup a little humor.

Caroline says: Some good, clean, unbridled humor.

Ryan says: I'll try to rein it in a little.

Caroline says: How very chivalrous of you. (Yes, it was a reach; but "cheval" means horse in French)

Ryan says: You FAIL!

Caroline says: Now, don't put the cart before the horse. I think I'm still in the game.

Ryan says: I'll let you back in, but you're. . . bare(ly)back.

Caroline says: Thanks for spurring me on.

Ryan says: I'm chomping at the bit to come up with something better.

Caroline says: It's tough to do without beating a dead horse, you know?

Ryan says: Think of the poor horse, being beaten even after it's dead. That mustang.

Caroline says: (grroooooooooan)

Ryan says: Why the long face?

Posted by Ryan at 09:25 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 12, 2007

Just so you know

I've been updating the Vacation Pics post below, if you're interested.

Posted by Ryan at 08:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 11, 2007

Heart Stoppage

Nothing quite like coming to work on an eerily familiar clear, cool, September 11 Tuesday morning, transcribing an interview while skimming an article about the sixth anniversary of 9/11. . . and having an entire Rochester IBM site-wide electrical outage.

Things are back to normal now. But. . . GAH!

Posted by Ryan at 09:03 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 10, 2007

No Offense Intended

I normally get a kick out of Pepsi and Mountain Dew promotional sweepstakes. They're an amusing diversion and, truth be told, I won $175 over the course of the last two promotions, so I have to admit to having a very slight financial interest in the sweepstakes.

But honestly, the latest promotion is just completely lame. It's dubbed "CALL YOUR PLAY" and the prizes, such as they are, are practically unattainable even if you engage your wildest imagination.

And then there's the animated image of Reggie Bush. Look, I'm sure Mr. Bush was offerred an enticing endorsement package, but even he couldn't have imagined how awful he'd be presented in this promotional campaign. I mean, seriously, there's even a replayed bit of him dabbing at his eye with his finger and then wiping his finger on his shorts. How disgusting is that? He couldn't have known the camera was recording at that instant, and he certainly couldn't have known the good people at Pepsi would get together in a boardroom and say "That's great! That's real! Athletes also get eye goobers that need to be dabbed! This will certainly win points with the common folk!" Why not just have him pick his nose and play with his boogers? Or maybe pick at his ass crack? The possibilities are endless.

NOTE TO Pepsi PEOPLE: This post is just a personal critique and should not in any way prevent you from awarding me either an HDTV or a GMC Sierra, even though the odds of me winning either are slimmer than me launching myself to Mars with a burst of my own flatulence.

Posted by Ryan at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2007

Vacation Pics!

Okay, folks, I'm back. No car troubles. No random murders. No real drama. Just relaxed vacation fun. With pictures!

As I posted previously, as far as I-90 goes, South Dakota is one long expanse of nothing. Hour after hour after hour of horizon as far as the eye can see. Then, after about five hours of mind-numbing sameness, you encounter the badlands, and you're left wondering what, exactly, that seemingly endless gash on the landscape is even there for. Acres upon acres upon acres of eroded features carved out of an ancient seabed now exposed to rain and wind. Yes, the photos are small here, since has had an issue as of late when it comes to thumbnail images.




We could have spent hours just wandering over the ridges, but we had to get to our campsite before nightfall, because setting up a tent in the dark would have been, shall we say, difficult, especially since it was a tent still in its original box that I'd never set up before.

The next day, we did the obligatory visit to Mt. Rushmore. This was my second trip to the stony presidents, the first being when I was six or seven. Things have changed a bit. Not with the carved heads, mind you: they're pretty much the same, but there's a new grand walkway consisting of pillars with all the state's names and years they were granted statehood. It was all very stately and grandiose and neato and all that.


And, of course, the iconic Mr. Rushmore image:


More pictures and narrative to come, once I figure out how to better edit these images so they fit nicely in my ThunderJournal.

After reaching Gardiner, Montana, we stayed at the only place in that town that had a campsite with showers and water. I think it was Rockey Mountains Camping, or something. Whatever it was, it crammed tents together like sardines and RVs were give the royal treatment, with royal treatment being, well, green grass which was watered regularly.

For reasons that make sense for only a very select few people, here's a picture of Bjork:


The next morning, we entered YELLOWSTONE at the northern entrance, where Teddy Roosevelt laid the corner stone of the arch into the park, for whatever that's worth. Rather than waste our time right away at Mammoth Hot Springs, Mel and I decided to do a 5 mile hike, which started like this, with a view of the hot springs:


The hike was called Beaver Ponds Loop Trail, because there are a bunch of, well, beaver ponds, like this:


Of course, Mel had bearanoia so bad, she had to wear a bear bell, which annoyed us both to the point of insanity, but Mel insisted it was necessary. Still, we stopped at one of the beaver ponds for an automated shot with the camera, which caught an image as fuzzy as any bear we didn't see:


Upon our return to Mammoth, we actually did, you know, the Mammoth Hot Springs boardwalk hike, which takes you a lot longer than you may expect, but is still worth some awesome photos, provided nobody is in the frame.

Like this one. It looks almost like winter in the foreground, thanks to the extremely hot, clear blue water, but in the background, it's painfully late summer in northern Yellowstone.


And then there's this image:


I'm so happy about that picture, I could crap my pants. . .

OOPS! I crapped my pants!

On to the next day, when we hiked, and hiked, hiked. . . and HIKED around the Yellowstone Grand Canyon (YGC) area:



Unlike the Grand Canyon everyone else knows about, the YGC was carved out rapidly, if the park ranger narrative is to be believed. Whereas the better known Grand Canyon is known to have taken millions of years, the YGC is believed to have been primarily carved out in just a few weeks, many many thousands of years ago. How is this possible? Because of a combination of Yellowstone's many thermal features, which can turn hard rock into basically pretty unstable soil/rocklets, the warming of the earth that began in earnest several thousand years ago, and the unleashing of a glacial lake; all of which culminated in a deluge that was able to carve out this most amazing rift in an astonishing amount of time. For a wiki explanation, GO HERE. Ice Age: The Meltdown, also addressed this.

Looking the other direction, you see the Lower Falls which, in addition to being more solid and resilient than the rest of the canyon (yet still slowly eroding) are about the most photogenic falls in the park:



We also hiked down to the Lower Falls starting point, where a rainbow was visible in the mist and prompted the inner voice yelling "you must get the perfect rainbow shot!" I tried. Many, many times. I failed. But I'm still going to post one image:


The same day we hiked the YGC, we also made our way to our campsite within Yellowstone itself, Grant Village, which would be our "home" for the next five evenings, which wasn't our plan, but an eventual, and unexpected rain came about that made us NOT want to pack up a wet tent, because who wants to do THAT if they can avoid it.

Anyway, on the way to our campsite, going South from the YGC, we saw all manner of things, including herds of bison, which basically walked where they wanted, when they wanted, clogging up traffic like an artery block, but also making for Kevin Costner-esque landscape pictures:


Later, further on our drive to our campsite, we saw a forest fire in the distance, across Yellowstone Lake:


When I first saw it, I thought it was a massive park thermal feature. Turns out, we were in the park during about the peak forest fire risk time-frame of the season. The scars of the 1988 massive fire that devastated 1/3 of the park are starkly visible practically everywhere you look. Dead trees stick up like God-sized toothpicks (God being a subjective size for all, depending on belief system; atheists can can call them "tall burnt trees" I guess), even amongst the most picturesque of views:


There has, of course, been nearly 20 years of growth, which varies depending on how hot and long the fire burned in places, as well as when fickle seeds decided to take root. Still, it had to be devastating for park rangers, and visitors really, to enter the park only a couple years after the blaze. It must have been dreadfully bleak and sad. Today, of course, there's life amongst the carnage:


Please note, I took that picture entirely for dramatic and photogenic effect. There are much taller trees than those that have been growing in the park since 1988. Honestly, the fire that killed the trees in that picture could have been killed 5 years ago. I have no idea. Hell, I may have planted them, for all you know. I didn't, but I'm just saying.

Anyhooooo! We finally arrived at our campsite, and the next morning was geyser viewing day, beeyatch! Starting with the West Thumb Geyser Basin, which hasn't seen an active geyser for over a decade, so it was more like a hot pool basin, which was cool in its own way, but not particularly good for pictures, except for Abyss Pool:


"Barely Able to Bear It," c. Ryan Rhodes, Sept. 6, 2007

Some of you may have noticed a conspicuous absence of regular ThunderJournal posts over the past couple weeks. Others of you are no doubt asking "Who are you, and why are you writing this ThunderJournal?"

Well, the reason I haven't been dutifully transcribing my existential foibles is simple: I was on vacation. Specifically, I was camping in Yellowstone National Park. Which, by the way, I want to make perfectly clear here sleeping on a cot in a damp tent, in 38 degree weather, eating questionable items burnt black over a campfire, isn't quite what I'd call a "vacation." Rather, it's more like a trial, or form of personal torture, with admittedly fantastic scenery to help dull the other senses so as to fool you into thinking you're actually having
some sort of fun.

I kid, of course. Well, mostly. The 38 degree weather at night was a particularly nasty surprise, even though I knew ahead of time it was supposed to be "cold." Apparently, my definition of "cold" differs considerably from the definition used by people who write Yellowstone travel brochures.

All of this was a longwinded way of explaining why you'll see several posts over the next few days or weeks dedicated to the topic of my Yellowstone vacation. For this installment, I'd like to talk to you about bears.

If you decide to camp within Yellowstone Park itself, you'll hear an awful lot about bears. You'll see enough literature about bears during your vacation, you'll be an absolute expert on all things "bear." You will not, however, probably see a bear. At least "The Girl" and I didn't, even though The Girl spent the better part of a month basically convinced she'd be bit and mauled by a bear at least three times before our vacation was over.

Now, I had been to Yellowstone previously. I was six or seven years old, and it was fairly standard practice at the time for motorists to actually feed bears from their automobiles. The bears, of course, loved this culinary practice, so much so they spent the better part of their day along roadsides waiting for the next free meal.

Eventually, park rangers started frowning upon the practice of carside-to-go bear feeding. They feared the bears would inevitably become so comfortable with automobiles, they'd start driving cars themselves and, given the already congestive traffic and crumbling roads, the park wouldn't be able to accommodate an influx of cars carrying bear motorists. Now, if you believed that last sentence, you should really consider putting your head in a bear's jaws to see what happens.

No, of course the rangers feared, rightly so, bears would become sofamiliar with, and fearless of, humans, they'd begin investigating campsites and rummaging through campers' foodstuffs, which is exactly what eventually happened, prompting the powers that be at Yellowstone Park to embark on a course of action to preempt motorists and, by extension, campers, from feeding bears or otherwise providing bears easy access to human munchies and, which would also hopefully preempt bears from munching on humans. The way they went about this was to try and scare the living bejeezers out of anyone even remotely thinking about camping within Yellowstone Park. They went about putting up fliers about the dangers of bears, and park rangers were trained to be extra serious when they explained to campers--with a Stephen King kind
of narrative delivery--the dire consequences of leaving any morsel within sniffing range of a bear which, if the rangers are to be believed, is just shy of 1,000 miles.

To their credit, the Yellowstone Park campaign to make bears more terrifying than nuclear weapons was a resounding success. As evidence of this success, I needed only look toward The Girl, who was so completely convinced a bear lurked behind every tree hoping to snatch a Pic-a-Nic basket, I started to believe she was suffering from a new psychiatric disorder I dubbed "bear-a-noia."

Bear-a-noid people are not a rational lot. When you ask a bear-a-noid person a question, no matter how bear-unrelated it is, the answer will almost certainly have something to do with bears.

ME: So, what do you want to do today?

BEAR-A-NOID PERSON: Well, I sure don't want to get eaten by a bear, if
that's what you're asking.

ME: Do you know where I think we should go next?

BEAR-A-NOID PERSON: You better not be thinking "Bear-ville, or
"Bear-opolis!" I don't want to go to either of those places!

ME: Did you know there's a bear right behind you?

BEAR-A-NOID PERSON: *relieves bowels*

As I said, despite The Girl's rampant bear-a-noia, we didn't see a single bear during our entire Yellowstone vacation, although we did see some bear tracks along a lake shoreline, and we saw an elk carcass consisting of bleached bones, which any bear-a-noid person will tell you had to be killed and stripped clean by a bear that very morning.

Tune in next time when I'll discuss why "Getting There is Half the Fun," is the vilest lie ever ever perpetuated as some sort of sage wisdom.

Posted by Ryan at 05:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 05, 2007

Pretty Cool

THIS GUY trains in mixed martial arts at the same gym I train in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I've only sparred with him a couple times, and that was awhile ago (he tapped me out twice, of course). Here's hoping he performs well.

Posted by Ryan at 07:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2007

From Another Undisclosed Location

Okay, I'm actually in Rapid City, S.D., after a marathon drive yesterday spanning nine hours and over 500 miles from Grant Village in Yellowstone. We're now facing the expanse, once again, of the S.D. plains, with a probably stop-over in Sioux Falls, unless we get really ambitious and decide to push the rest of the way home, which is unlikely.

In the meantime, enjoy the new ThunderJournal title.

Posted by Ryan at 11:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
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