Wednesday, September 17, 2014


          Have you gotten an email with this ominous little critter's photo?  It's probably entitled "This is not a mosquito... incredible!"

       I've got a relative (who shall remain unnamed) who sends me daily Obama-bashing email forwards she receives from her circle of conservative contacts, and no amount of complaining on my part has dissuaded her from passing them along to me whenever she's in the mood.  Love her dearly, but I've long ago given up the thought that she'll (sooner or later) get the point and stop inundating my inbox with Koch Brother Bullshit.  I'm quite certain Obama will have been out of office for a decade before she stops sending emails bashing his administration.

         This particular forward was interesting, though, so I read it through 'til the bitter end.  Here's what it had to say about the mechanical mosquito in the picture:

No, this  isn't a real mosquito. It's an insect spy drone for urban  areas, already in production, funded by the US  Government.
  It can be  remotely controlled and is equipped with a camera and a  microphone.
   It can  land on you, and even has the potential to take a DNA sample  or leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your  skin.
  It can fly  through a slightly open window, or it can attach to your  clothing until you unwittingly take it into your home. It can  then be guided to the top of a curtain  or other invisible location where it can scope entire rooms  and monitor everything being  said.
   Given  their propensity to request macro-sized drones for  surveillance, one is left with little doubt that the  government has big
plans for  these micro gadgets.
(And to think we were  worried about West Nile virus!)
And now you know why our  government wants the law changed to allow drone surveillance  in the United States.
   This is a  great example of what THIS administration is doing to control  every aspect of your privacy, your freedom, your health care  and your finances!!!
   It's time  for a major housecleaning in Washington.
   If you are  naive enough to think we aren't headed for total government  control of the American population, just delete this. If  you're paying attention to what's happening, you know what to  do!

           Now, I have no doubt our spy mavens are working feverishly to develop tools like this, and tiny remote control spy devices disguised as insects or spiders isn't beyond the realm of possibility.  But to cough out that little tidbit at the end, that this is the work of "this administration" to "control every aspect of your privacy, your freedom, your health care, and your finances" was over the top lunacy, even for conservatives.

          So I ran it past the folks at, just for shits and giggles.  Here's what they had to say:

The specific mosquito-like object pictured above is, however, just a conceptual mock-up of a design for a MAV, not a photograph of an actual working device "already in production." And although taking DNA samples or inserting micro-RFID tracking devices under the skin of people are MAV applications that may some day be possible, such possibilities currently appear to be speculative fiction rather than reality. 

         I've sent that paragraph back to my loving sister in east Tennessee, but I doubt it will even be read.  She's not any more interested in facts than I am in paranoid emails bashing this president.

         Anyway, I think we can put down our fly swatters, for the moment (although I would love to see what would happen if one of these were to fly into a bug zapper...)!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE PERFECT WOMAN (a "work" in progress)

             Frederic Doazan sums up modern society's insane obsession with female perfection.

                  Not for the squeamish...

Monday, September 15, 2014

WHEN WEEKENDS GO BAD... (seriously? You're waking us up at 6:20 in the morning because you can't find your daughter's soccer pictures?)

           It's been quite a weekend...

           I rolled out of bed bright and early Saturday morning, grabbed my cameras, lenses, and a cooler of water bottles and headed off to shoot four little league football games for a local organization.  Blessed with overcast, cool temps, it should have been a piece of cake to cover this event.  Should have been.  The best laid plans of mice-like men?

           I always carry two cameras with me for an event, just in case.  Saturday was one of those cases.  The first burst of shots I took with my ($2700, camera body only) 5DMii was all it took for me to know my day wasn't going to go smoothly.  The camera continued to fire, even after I had taken my finger off of the shutter button.  Then one of those dreaded error messages popped up on the LCD display screen, telling me the camera was "unable to shoot", with instructions to take the battery out of the camera and reinsert.  Same result.  Rinse and repeat.

           The action on the field continued (such as it was... little league football mostly consists of players trying to find their way into the right huddle, then a continuous series of flags thrown by referees who insist on following the rules concerning offside and illegal procedure... at one point in the "game" they moved the ball back and forth in five yard increments five different times, and at no point in that series did the ball actually get snapped into play... heavy sigh...) so I put down my high-priced paperweight and shot with my backup camera.  

            When the final game whistle blew, I grabbed my stuff and dashed home to process 2000 photos for my website.  I was mindful of the clock on the wall, since my beloved Vols were set to kick off their first road game of the season in a couple of hours.  Their game with Oklahoma went about as well as my first few shots at the little league football game.  In fact, I believe the little leaguers would have had about as much luck keeping the Sooners out of the backfield as Tennessee did Saturday night.  It was butt ugly.

             So I went back to my computer and continued processing pictures.  At 1AM I called it a day, poured out the last dredge of warm beer from can number five, and crawled into bed next to my lovely (and dangerous) wife.  I rolled back out of said bed five hours later, and went back to the computer to finish processing the game pictures.

             Why the hurry, you might ask?  Glad you did.  Friends of ours had invited us to go with them to see the Tennessee Titans game against the Cowboys in Nashville, which meant we had to gather tailgating supplies (one jug of Bloody Marys, one jug of rum Cosmos, six cans of Yuengling, lots of ice, hats, sunscreen, etc) and get to their house for a 10AM blastoff.  Two hours to make a thirty-five minute drive to the stadium?  No sweat, right?

             Wrong.  We ran into the traffic jam from hell ten miles from the stadium.  Standstill traffic on westbound I-24 (which is not at all rare for that stretch of pavement, trust me).  We amused ourselves by consuming the tailgating supplies as we crawled down the highway... two miles in one hour.  A guy wearing a backpack and smoking a cigarette strolled past us on the side of the interstate, and before we started to move again he was completely out of sight.  We arrived at the stadium and took our seats with 1:38 left to play in the first quarter.

              Speaking of seats, they were terrific.  Padded seats in the club level directly on the fifty yard line of the west side of the stadium, sun overhead and moving to our backs as the afternoon progressed.  The "game" wasn't nearly as good as the seats.  Our Titans, who had surprised Kansas City last week by showing up disguised as a professional football team, reverted to form and laid an egg almost as large as the one grunted out by the Vols the night before in Norman, Oklahoma.  It was 16 to zip at halftime, and other than a few minutes of false hope at the start of the second half, it went downhill from there.

              Meanwhile, we stepped into the club level mezzanine for three rounds of $9 domestic beers as the carnage continued outside.  When it was over (officially, not football-wise) we started our mile and a half hike back up the hill toward our friends' SUV for the slog back to Murfreesboro.  We had no sooner left the stadium than my wife suddenly clutched her right abdomen and began to groan with every other step.  It only got worse as we trudged along.  Half a mile from the car she was doubled over in pain, sweating like a cardio/kickboxing student in one of her sadistic classes at the karate studio.  We finally stopped and sat on the sidewalk in front of a cafe as our friends went to get the vehicle for us.

              My wife won't go to a hospital unless she's unable to walk, so arguing with her about it is useless.  We crashed at about 9PM, and she groaned in pain off and on all night.

              But this morning, she was sleeping well.  I know, because I was sleeping well, and that only happens when she's not thrashing around kickboxing her way out of muggers' clutches in her dreams.  Well, we WERE sleeping well, until the phone rang.

               Who the fuck calls someone at 6:20 in the morning?  Well, in this case, it was a befuddled woman who wanted to know why she couldn't find her daughter's soccer pictures on my sports website.  Six fucking twenty, and she's upset about a soccer gallery she can't find.  Turns out she was trying to find her daughter's soccer pictures in a volleyball gallery.

               I'm shitting you not.  She had been scrolling through volleyball pictures, perplexed, because the soccer pictures of her daughter that she'd been looking at the night before were missing.  And they were such great pictures, too, she said.  I'm hard to compliment when you wake me up before my first cup or two of coffee.  In fact, it's best to just save any or all conversation until I've had at least a whiff of caffeine.  

                But I saved my profanity laced outburst until after I'd hung up the phone.  In retrospect, I sort of wish I had just gone ahead and cut loose at the moment.  It's important to set boundaries, and perhaps taking someone's head off over the phone might dissuade that person from waking someone else up in the future.

                So, I've spent this morning wrapping up my camera for shipment to a Canon repair center in New Jersey, and I'm sure the news won't be good.  In the meantime, I'm going to order another camera online, just as soon as my wife gets out of bed and moves some money into our business account to cover the cost.  If they can fix my camera for a reasonable fee, I'll have two great cameras for future events.  If they can't fix it, I'll at least be back to where I was before this weekend started.

                Too bad it's not possible to just rewind the clock and start a weekend over from the start.


Friday, September 12, 2014

CUSTOMER SERVICE AT SEARS MUST HAVE LEFT WITH ROEBUCK (Squatlo tries to use a coupon... insanity ensues)

              I'm not a coupon person.  My lovely (and dangerous) wife definitely is.  She can find them in the newspaper, or load her store card digitally with money saving coupons on items she intends to purchase, and end up saving us a lot of money every time she goes shopping.  On those rare occasions when I've been asked to carry a couple of coupons on one of my solo trips to the grocery store, I always end up grabbing the wrong item and paying full price.  On one memorable occasion I managed to pick up the wrong items three out of three times, thus negating the handy-dandy "Buy One Get One Free" bargains she had in mind when I was sent to Publix.  She took the receipt and my bag of errors back to the customer service desk, and managed to get a refund of over $25.  I'm surprised her eyes didn't roll completely out of socket that day.

               In my defense, it's easy to confuse items if their only distinguishing information is that one is "heart healthy", or "sodium free", or "bland as a sandpaper sandwich".  You have to grab the EXACT ITEM LISTED ON THE COUPON, not the one next to it that's cleverly disguised as the thing you're looking for...  And I'm not a guy who likes to stand in front of a rack of tomato paste carefully deciphering content labels, while a lady with three screaming urchins pushes her shopping cart over my foot.

               But this is a new day, and hope springs eternal.  Or it did.

               On my way back from another clusterfuck I won't bother to go into (fodder for another rant...) I remembered that my wife and I have been invited to accompany friends of ours to this Sunday's Tennessee Titans game against the Cowboys.  We don't usually attend the games, but always watch them together during football season.  So this is a rare treat for us... to actually go to LP Field for a game, fight through the traffic and the crowds, pay $8 for warm, watered down domestic beer, sit through interminable commercial timeout delays in the midday sun, and then fight through the crowds and traffic to get back home?  We can't wait!

                But while I own and proudly wear many different shirts adorned with the Titans logo, I'm not sure my wife's wardrobe has anything "stadium worthy" for her to wear to the game. On my drive back from the aforementioned CF, I remembered having been given a COUPON worth $22.20 at any Sears store.  We had purchased a gas grill in the spring, and apparently our purchase warranted this generous coupon to spend on any product Sears had in stock.  I was passing that very same Sears store when this occurred to me, and I also remembered that Sears stocks women's clothing.  She needs a nice Titans shirt, Sears sells nice Titans shirts, and I have this wonderful COUPON worth $22.20.  What could possibly go wrong?

               I don't know when Sears hired all of the people from the community center's Club Geritol, but everyone working in that place today was pushing the limits of any life insurance salesman's actuarial tables.  Everywhere I turned I was greeted by befuddled Wilford Brimleys and Jessica Tandys... people who seemed nice, but (on the whole) knew nothing whatsoever about their employer's store or the products therein.  Asking for help in my efforts to find women's Titans gear, I was twice told (by different people) to just keep looking, because they "move everything around so much" it was impossible to know where anything actually was at any given moment.  Seriously.  Same response.  Twice.  Wilford and Jessica and the rest of the cast of "Cocoon" pointing me in various directions.

                 I finally found a size medium Titans shirt in the men's section of the store that looked stylish enough, and at that point I began my search for a working register.

                 "Sorry, young feller, this register's only for appliances..." said one gentleman.

                 "I'm sorry, son... the clerk who's supposed to be at this register has gone somewhere..." said another fellow, looking around as if he'd lost his car in the parking lot. 

                  I just kept walking around until I found a clerk actually ringing up another customer's items.  There was a problem with the scanner.  And the customer was upset that her toddler clothing had rung up at a far higher price than what was advertised.. an additional 75 cents.  They quibbled, and the clerk (a dead ringer for Aunt Clara from "Bewitched") insisted the price was correct.  The customer (who was accompanied by a little girl who ought to be starring in "Poltergeist" if they ever do another remake) insisted the price was 75 cents too high.  I got out a dollar and was fully prepared to pay the difference, but the customer agreed to pay this outrageous amount.  She got her things, and I stepped up to Aunt Clara's counter, still relatively hopeful.

                 She took my wife's shirt (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!) and flashed the tag with her handheld scanner.  It did an ominous double bonk, akin to that annoying noise they use for scene changes in "Law and Order" reruns.

                "This didn't scan." she announced.  "Were there any more of these where you found this one?"

                "Quite a few." I said.

                "Where did you find this?" she asked.

                Sensing the inevitable snag, I replied, "I have no idea.  Way the hell over that direction..."

                She tried the scanner again.  Bonk bonk.  Scene change.  With that she turned and called out, "Jerry?" at Wilford Brimley in appliances.

                As he moseyed up, she asked, "What do you do if the scanner doesn't accept the tag?"

                "Well, you key in this number right here..." said Wilford/Jerry.

                She glanced at the end of his pointing finger, then said, "Well I can't read THAT..."

                So Wil/Jerry read it aloud to her, at arm's length, while she keyed in the digits.

                It didn't bonk bonk.  Progress.  She looked very pleased, and said, "Your coupon is worth $20."

                I pointed out that the coupon itself read $22.20.  She insisted it was only good for $20.  I remembered how annoyed I had been when the last lady quibbled over 75 cents, so I told her to just ring it up, and I'd happily pay the difference.

                So she punched a couple of keys, and we all heard the bonk bonk noise again.  I looked at my feet, and tried to remember what that anger management guy had said about slow, deep breaths.  

                "This coupon won't work unless you have a Sears card, apparently." was the next thing out of Aunt Clara's mouth.  "Do you have a Sears card?"

                "No, ma'am.  I don't."

                "You want one?  I've got an application form right here..." she dug through some paper to find an application for me.

                "No ma'am.  I don't want to fill out an application for a card.  I just want to use this coupon to purchase that shirt.  That's all I want."

                 "Well, it says here you need to put in your Sears card information.  Maybe if you keyed in your zip code it would work.  Try that." she offered.

                  So I keyed in my zip code.  Twice.  Bonk bonk, both times.

                 "You're gonna have to have a Sears card if you want to use this coupon, I guess." she said, finally.

                  I left the shirt on the counter and walked away.  I may have uttered a few wordy derds on my way out, because I remember at least two geriatrics turning to watch me leave.

                  I don't coupon well, obviously. 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE FAMILY THAT BRAWLS TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER (Sarah Palin and the trailer trash clan go a partyin'!)

The Palins arrive for the party...                    

           I've written highly critical things about Blunder Woman in the past, and most recently made light of the fact that dozens of people were signing up to pay Sarah Palin $10 per month to have access to an "all Sarah, all the time" television network.  But I must confess... If Sarah and her network buddies are the only outlet showing the video of last Saturday night's alleged drunken brawl involving the entire Palin clan, I might subscribe for a month or two.

           The details are sketchy, but enough witnesses have come forward with the same basic story to make it worth a mention:  Apparently, there's a thing called the Iron Dog Race across Alaska, and apparently it's a big deal to the folks who live in that godforsaken place.  

          According to multiple accounts, the Palin clan arrived at a post race party last Saturday night in a stretch Hummer limo, and almost immediately the problems began.

           Palin's son took offense at the sight of one of his little sister's former boyfriends.  Words were exchanged.  Then the host of the party asked the Palins to leave.  At that point, Bristol Palin reportedly assaulted the guy hosting the party, striking him multiple times.  Before long almost all of the Wasilla Wankers were going at it, and the police were called.  At one point, Track (or Truck, or could it be Trek?) Palin was seen standing in the street shirtless, flipping birds at other party guests, while his mom, the almost-vice-president-of-the-fucking-United-States stood behind him shrieking "Don't you know who I am?" at everyone.

            Someone was quoted as having yelled back, "This isn't some damned hillbilly reality show!"


             Because no one was willing to press charges (or because enough money changed hands to make such a thing go away), the police were unwilling to name participants in the brawl.  Palin's hubby the Todd-ster was seen with a bloody lip or nose (accounts differ) when at last they took their leave and got back into the limo.

             But like a certain video tape of a certain NFL running back involving a quick left hook inside a casino elevator, there's almost certainly a video of this incident out there somewhere.  Whomever owns said video is probably in contact with TMZ as we speak, angling for the very best price for that oh-so-desirable footage.

             Won't this be fun?