Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Parade and/or Fireworks – Anybody Go?

I actually saw about half of the parade today. I just felt like standing/sitting outside for awhile and chatting with some people. It was alright. The weather was OK, but not perfect. I haven’t seen a 4th of July parade in Racine for years, but what I saw was respectable. Except for the politicians early on. I was gonna yell something out, but then thought better of it. I did see the plane flying with the anti-Doyle, Mason & Lehman message. ( There weren’t a lot of gorgeous floats, and it seemed like there were some large gaps occasionally, but it was not bad for a town on a lake in the middle of the rustbelt, in the middle of a recession.

The fireworks I have passed on for decades. The scene at North Beach gets way too crowded and intense for my liking. I’ve been listening to the police scanner as I write this, 10 PMish. The men and women in blue are working their butts off tonight, and not just at the lakefront. Lots and lots of calls about people partying too loud or rowdy. Lots of calls about illegal fireworks and firecrackers. I’m content to sit home and listen to it in the distance.

Anyone else go?

The Bare Essentials of Safety

Air New Zealand has unveiled a new safety video they use on their planes.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Definition of OLD

Happy 4th of July...Try This at Home

Happy Fourth to everyone. So what is the science angle here? It is all about making some of your own fireworks.

It is pretty easy to make snakes out of baking soda, sugar and alcohol or lighter fluid. For a little fountain, try the famous Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Sparklers are a little trickier but can be made at home. You can make firecrackers by extracting the powder from toy caps. A patriotic flaming alcoholic density column is a fine addition to any Fourth of July Celebration. You can make smoke bombs and fountains as well.

And all this might make you it off with dry ice ice cream.

These are just a few of the many little science experiments you can do...I'll admit I left off some of the more dangerous ones I know because I want you to have a good Fourth of July!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Memories of the 4th of July!

What memories do you have as kids of the 4th. I remember sparklers and punks (no not those kinds, the bug repellant kind), something called 'snakes,' and firecrackers. We would have a parade in Oconto Falls and then dash off to Gillett for their little parade...candy was given to children.

And then we would go to the cemetery to visit the graves of my grandparents. Flowers were placed on all the graves.

The evening fireworks were actually on the 4th of July!!!!!

And in thinking about it, I remember my older brother putting a cherry bomb outside my oldest brother's bedroom window and running like the devil. Unfortunately, my oldest brother had a little bit of an anger management problem at that age. Poor Dave...he always thought it was worth it to harrass Neil! I can still see Neil coming right out that window in his underwear, chasing his younger brother. I will have to remind them of that memory! Or maybe it will be in my best interests not to do so!!!!

In any event, all of you have a great weekend and be safe.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Lion Whisperer

Sorry. I'll stop hogging the blog. I just had to post this.

That looks like it would really be fun and really be scary.

California is a bankrupt

I love the Russian announcer's snide intonations. That's gotta be intentional, right?


I saw the above video and figured the ManGroomer was a joke. But I noticed the internet address at the end and checked it out: Not only do they have a back shaver, but they also make a "private" body hair shaver, as well as a nose and ear hair trimmer.

I'm glad I wax instead.

Drink Beer, Go To Space, But Can You Drink Beer in Space?

Just a quick post, I just found out that as part of its 250th anniversary, Guiness is giving you a chance to win a trip to space on Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic. Virgin Galactic will take you on a sub-orbital flight to 60 some miles up (60 miles is widely considered space) where you can experience weightlessness and get spectacular views of Earth.

That's not the only prize. They are also giving away a trip to an underwater bar and a private show by the Black Eyed Peas (all three involve black, get it? Dark beer, dark prizes!)

I can definitely think of worse reasons to have a beer!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

AARP replies to most troubling questions...

Q: Where can men over the age of 60 find younger, sexy women who are interested in them?
A: Try a bookstore under fiction.

Q: What can a man do while his wife is going through menopause?
A: Keep busy. If you're handy with tools, you can finish the basement. When you are done you will have a place to live.

Q: Someone has told me that menopause is mentioned in the Bible. Is that true? Where can it be found?
A: Yes. Matthew 14: 92: 'And Mary rode Joseph's ass all the way to Egypt .'

Q: How can you increase the heart rate of your 60+ year old husband?
A: Tell him you're pregnant.

Q: How can you avoid that terrible curse of the elderly wrinkles?
A: Take off your glasses.

Q: Seriously, what can I do for these crow's feet and all those wrinkles on my face?
A: Go braless. It will usually pull them out.

Q: Why should 60+ year old people use valet parking?
A: Valets don't forget where they park your car.

Q: Is it common for 60+ year olds to have problems with short term memory storage?
A: Storing memory is not a problem, retrieving it is a problem.

Q: As people age, do they sleep more soundly?
A: Yes, but usually in the afternoon.

Q: Where should 60+ year olds look for eye glasses?
A: On their foreheads.

Q: What is the most common remark made by 60+ year olds when they enter antique stores?
A: 'Gosh, I remember these.

Steven Seagal

I’m watching a Steven Seagal movie on AMC , Out for Justice (1991 – 1 star). I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen most of Seagal’s movies. They’ve been released direct to video for years. In my estimation, Seagal is a master of self-parody. Over time, his movies transformed from martial arts action films into satires of martial arts action films. It appears that that was unintentional, though I’m not always convinced. 1991 is prime Seagal, one year before Under Siege, his greatest commercial hit. Nowadays, Seagal kind of makes cameo appearances in his own films. In fight scenes, his face will be shown, then the hands of someone else. He is bloated and often seems disinterested. In Out for Justice, Seagal is doing his own stunts and fight scenes. The Beastie Boys and Gregg Allman are on the soundtrack. A sample Seagal line from the movie: “Now you tell your brother I’m gonna cut off his head and piss down his throat!” I love it.

There is another side to Seagal, though. I mean, besides the one that blames the FBI for his career: Seagal has been playing guitar since he was 12 years old. He loves the blues. He has a band, named Thunderbox, and they have two albums out. You can read all about Seagal at Meanwhile, here’s a little Steven Seagal and Thunderbox:

What ales Molson retirees?

Saw a "sad" story at Reuters that details how the recession is affecting hardworking (and apparently hard-drinking) Canadian brewery workers at Molson. According to the story:

Molson retirees in the province of Newfoundland will see their monthly allotment of beer fall from six dozen a month to zero over the next five years.

Current workers will see their allotment drop from 72 dozen bottles a year to 52 dozen.

What other job would give you 72 dozen bottles of beer a year as part of your employee benefits program? I can't decide which is worse -- giving employees tons of free beer, or taking it away.

And this might not be the end of the story, as the unions involved "have launched grievances in Montreal and Vancouver, where the allotment is less." So, crack a cold one, and stay tuned .

Written by someone else...don’t know who.........SER

Dear Madame Zoltar

Hello, my busy bees! How are you? The 4th of July is almost upon us and there is still an occasional chill in the night air. I am so glad that I am not in charge of the weather, entirely.

Speaking of the weather, to read about my whereabouts during this past weekend’s picnic, please refer to the 36th comment on the “Today is the Day” blog: Apparently, a good time was had by all, no matter where we were.

I apologize to Ms. Beejay for my blog being a little late today. I didn’t realize that she is such a fan. In the future, I will transmit my blogs to her telepathically as soon as they are conceived. That way, Ms. Beejay, you will receive all of the Zoltar®, all of the time. See you in your dreams. And while you’re driving somewhere. And when you’re trying to think of something else or remember something, all that will come to mind is Zoltar™. Enjoy.

There were no messages in my email this week. I also received no telephone calls or telegrams. That is a good thing, for it means that my beloved Irregulars are not currently troubled by any gnawing psychic doubts or questions. It is my only desire to serve the needs of my audience.

I considered making some comments on local and regional political matters here, but I tire of the machinations and lies. It is like commenting on sewage week after week. It stinks to high heaven and those who revel in romping through the muck are simply covered with (and full of) shit. Lying, thieving scoundrels and their lawyer leeches butting heads with other lying, thieving scoundrels and their lawyer leeches. If you have the morals of Al Capone and the capacity to lie, lie, and lie some more, then you, too, can become a street gangster or a politician. There is little difference between the two other than the fact that the street gangster will lie to you less while he robs and rapes you. Our City Council is poised to approve whatever lies are issued from above and the police force stands ready to enforce them. Common sense and decency are the domain of only those whose taxes support the political hacks that attack us from on high and the street thugs that undermine us from below. There is no honor left in Racine, only lies and ashes in the mouth. Oh yes, and parties, too, parties, parties, parties! So, smile when a gun barrel is pressed to your neck or the mayor’s personal friends plunder the city, for that is the price that we must pay as we party our way to prosperity in Racine, Wisconsin.

Please send your questions and comments to me at:

Have a wonderful week my friends. Enjoy the 4th of July, when the best of Racine will display their patriotism by combining drunkenness with explosives and firearms. To quote my favorite ex-mayor, “Give me a party, or give me a 14 year old girl!”

No Zoltar today???

You don't suppose she is still locked in that booth in the Old Opera House in Arcadia, Florida do you???? She was near a boar's head with a detached, bloodied arm. Anything could have happened.

Zoltar, if you are out there, check in...I would hate to have to go out there and break the glass to get you out!

Summerfest 2009

For the last two nights, I was a Summerfest rockin' out! Last night I saw Heart with Layla. There we met Joe (aka Rock and Roll Guru.) We had a great time! Joe is an energetic and likeable dude. He knows a lot about rock and roll and knows all about the ins and outs the Summerfest scene. And the stories he can tell....

Heart ROCKED! Layla and I danced and sang the night awayto their hits. They opened up with Barracuda and rocked their way through the night playing tunes like Crazy on You, These Dreams, and Magic Man. My highlights were their moving versions of Zeppelin's Going to California and the Who's Love Reign Over Me. More on the show here and here.

Just got back from seeing Davey Knowles and Back Door Slam. They ROCKED! Davey Knowles is phenominal! He blazed his guitar away through tunes like Outside Woman Blues, Almost Cut My Hair, and Come Home. This guy is a legend in the making!!!

But wait! There's more! We got to meet Davey Knowles! Thanks to Joe again! Davey seems to be a very personable guy. What a night! More of the story here.

Off to California tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our darling Abby

No, Abby, I am not posting 'the picture' although kk and SER both have it! And perhaps a few others who are on Facebook! Go, guys, go!

I had such a delightful time with Abby-girl while she was here when she could fit me into her schedule. Too much giggling (nah, I don't think so)...and all the while helping me entertain a ten year old child....remind me next year about that one, Abby!

I envy you guys for having her around all year and I just get her for a couple of days.

B. :(

Goodbye Ulysses

Today NASA will be shutting off one of its longer missions, the Ulysses spacecraft. Never heard of it? Not surprising. It did not get a lot of publicity in the popular media. Ulysses was launched in 1990, and swung by Jupiter 1992. Jupiter's gravity was used to change its orbit so it passed over the top and bottom of the Sun as seen from Earth (or close to the Sun's north and south poles if you prefer...not quite exactly over them as the orbit was inclined about 80 degrees). Unfortunately, Ulysses didn't take lots of pretty pictures so it wasn't a media darling.

Ulysses was studying the environment, the solar wind, the magnetic fields, and cosmic rays. Since Earth orbits in a plane that goes roughly around the Sun's equator, we have never made measurments over the poles before. Ulysses provided us with a wealth of information about this environment. Ulysses lasted 18 years, well over the length of a solar cycle so we got to see the Sun at solar maximum and some data from the currnent deep solar minimum.

There is a live webcast starting at 10:35am EDT of the switching off ceremony.

Ulysses has been a very productive craft for many years. It will be missed. Wish it could have lasted for the next solar max, but its hard to ask for more than 18 years!

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicist Blog.

To Madam Zoltar

I have a brilliant idea. Make a bunch of dolls, all shapes/sizes/sex/blond/brunette/red. ethnic, etc and sell them with pins (these will be for 18 years and older) and a HEX on the pins which you would supply. The dolls will come with a holagram signifying authenticity. Then when someone is mad at someone they can buy a doll that resembles that person and 'put a hex on them' with the pin. Also according to statictics 95% of people will have a down time at one time or other and they will know that it came from your 'hex'. He He. Also I will be a silent partner in any capital gains. I have a few I would buy. I'm the man baby! Sorry for the familarity...I'm the man MADAM ZOLTAR!

Monday, June 29, 2009

West Side Web

Or My Life As a Musical

Property Tax Assessments

Your House As Seen By:


Your Buyer.....

Your Lender....

Your Appraiser ...

Your County's Tax Assessor ....

Your Father's iPod...

Except it was called a Sony Walkman. Recently, 13 year old Brit Scott Campbell gave up his iPod for a Sony Walkman for a week, 30 years after the Walkman came onto the scene.

You can check out all his thoughts on the Walkman. My favorite is, "It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette."

Typical male...didn't read the instruction! Seriously though, maybe it wasn't such a silly mistake. He probably never saw a cassette tape growing up. The only tapes he was likely to have encountered were VHS tapes that only have one side, and I am not sure how many of my friends knew about the different types of tapes back when Walkmans were common!

These came out when I was in middle school. By the time high school started, we were all listening to them on the bus on the way to field trips and sporting events. They eventually gave way to portable CD players before MP3 players took over.

Next step is to figure out how to get rid of the wires. I know some wireless headphones exist, but they tend to be large and bulky so I wouldn't use them when I run anyway (and I hate the wires bouncing around!) You can buy MP3 player sunglasses but they are heavy and uncomfortable as well. That is the next advance I want to see. I am sure it is only a matter of time.

Twittering Apollo 11

I have been busy and on travel but will be trying to write up some ideas this week. I wanted to post a short one to get ball rolling here.

Nature is twittering Apollo 11. Well, 40 years after the fact. They are doing kind of a media mashup where they are twittering 40 years after the Apollo 11 mission. They have already started with tweets on the astronauts training and other launch preps. On July 16th, they will twitter the launch. Everything is being done 40 years later so we can experience the mission in a way you just couldn't in 1969.

You don't have to subscribe to twitter, just check out the Apollo 40 plus feed and you can see what they are doin.

I remember in 1989, I think it was A&E, aired the original news coverage with David Brinkley. I wasn't home for some of it and was setting the VCR to tape it. Now, on the 40th anniversary, videotapes are already fading into history...if the do television broadcasts, I will Tivo it this time. Wonder what I will be doing on the 50th anniversary?

Reprinted with permission from the Half-Astrophysicst Blog.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


A professor at CCNY for a physiological psych class told his class about bananas. He said the expression "going bananas" is from the effects of bananas on the brain. Read on:

Never put your banana in the refrigerator!!!

This is interesting.

After reading this, you'll never look at a banana in the same way again.

Bananas contain three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills - eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school ( England ) were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey.. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system..

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and
chips.. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady..

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, there by reducing our potassium levels... These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Warts: Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a plaster or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around So maybe it is time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A banana a day keeps the doctor away!"

Game Time

It has been a while since we have had a game to play. This one is tearing me up.

Circle the Cat

Mme Zoltar

Photo courtesy of Beejay........

What Color Does for Photography

You have to be old to appreciate this


Thou art God. I think some folks don't rightly know what it is to Grok. For a great read if you like Sci-Fi, find a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Once you Grok Grok, you will be enlightened. You might even get the joke at my last sentence.

Windows 7 Pre-Order Offer

I was talking with drew and Layla at the picnic yesterday about Microsoft's pre-order offer on Windows 7, their new operating system that is getting good reviews. Here's the scoop:

"Windows 7 is coming on October 22, 2009. Here's an easy way to get it fast and save a bunch: Pre-order a Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade for $49 or a Windows 7 Professional Upgrade for $99. That's about half off the estimated retail prices. This offer is available through participating retailers. Pick one below and pre-order today. They'll tell you how to get your copy when Windows 7 is available.

"The offer begins on June 26, 2009 and will continue while supplies last, or until July 11, 2009, whichever comes first."

I am seriously contemplating this. The guy who mentored me into computers advised waiting until the first service pack comes out before buying a new operating system, but with prices like these, I don't know that I can afford to wait.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I mentioned this to a couple of people at the picnic yesterday. This trailer is for a new Star Wars video game...very high quality. If this were a movie, I would be totally geeking out to see it!