Wednesday, May 31, 2006

E-mail about my buddy Gnorman the Gnome

Below is an e-mail I got from a blog reader in the United Kingdom. I've removed her name, plus other info that is not relevant to Gnorman the Gnome. (By the way, that readers from anywhere in the world can read my blog is one of the cool things that I like about living in the Internet Age).


Hi, John -

Had a look at your blog, and saw Gnorman (love the name)!

I was just wondering how garden gnomes (I assume Gnorman is of that sub-species) are regarded in the US. In the UK, they are generally regarded by people who consider themselves proper gardeners as being rather tacky. Anyway, the Chelsea Flower Show is THE top gardening show in the UK, and recently a reporter from the Today Programme (a serious and influential radio current affairs programme) smuggled in Nicholas the gnome:

Might amuse you.

C. in the United Kingdom

Hi, C. in the United Kingdom!

First, thanks for reading my blog! Sorry for the delay in the reply, but I had a 4 day weekend this weekend. :-)

As for gnomes here in the US, while they have been around for some time, I've only recently seen them used with more frequency. I guess you might say that they had become something of a fad, because they've also been in some of our TV advertisements.

As for my buddy Gnorman, he's actually something called a Gnomad, in which you are supposed to photograph the traveling gnome in your city, and then hand him off to someone else who is going to another place. A website for the gnomads helps keep track of your gnome and where he's been.

This is a unique idea suited for our mobile society that keeps in touch via the Internet. When I go to San Antonio (Texas) in about a month, I'll hand off Gnorman to someone there so that my buddy Gnorman can start his travels. :-)

By the way, I asked Gnorman about whether he hangs in gardens like other gnomes, and he said, "Heck no! I have allergies! That's why I'm a traveling gnome!" I guess all gnomes can't be gardeners. ;-)

If you don't mind, I'd like to post your e-mail and my reply to it onto my blog. I will keep you anonymous, of course. I'd like to do that because of the info you provided below, and because your communicating with me from the UK shows just how interconnected we are in this day and age. :-)

Thanks, and God bless



Dear John –

>Sorry for the delay in the reply, but I had a 4 day weekend this weekend. :-)

Yeah, my heart bleeds for you! (No, not really!) :D

This was the first time I’d heard about Gnomad. It’s certainly better than being the common garden variety (literally!) – you get to see the world!

I heard the following story – probably apocryphal – more than ten years ago in the UK. Anyway, a man goes into his garden, and finds his gnome missing. There’s a note that says he (the gnome) is tired of being stuck in the garden, and he’s leaving. Over the months that follow, the man receives postcards signed by the gnome from all over the world. Then the postcard stops. Some time later, the gnome reappears in his old spot in the garden. Wonder which came first – this story or the Gnomad idea?

C. in the United Kingdom

Dear C. in the United Kingdom,

I don't know who created the Gnomads, but if the story you told me is true, it might indeed be the basis of the creation of the Gnomad line. I wouldn't be surprised.


Children born on 6/6/06

In this newspaper article, some parents expressed a little concern over the possibility that their child may be born on June 6, 2006 -- in other words, 6/6/06. That, of course, resembles the biblical "mark of the beast" of 666. Their concerns, though, seem to be not that they may be giving birth to a child of the devil, but rather that their child will likely be teased with such a birthdate. Some are concerned enough that they want to induce labor early if it looks likely that their child will be born on that day. To me, it's just a number. Granted, I don't have a wife with child about to be born on that date, but I think that I would still feel the same way even under such circumstances. I would have to wonder about the potential health issues of trying to induce labor just because the parents don't want their child to be born on a certain date. The health of the mother and child should come first, I would think.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wonder Woman pays a visit

Not wanting to be outdone by a gnome, Wonder Woman paid a visit so that she can be photographed in the various ways that the gnome was. Well, when an Amazon princess comes to your door demanding that you photograph her, who am I to tell her "no"? ;-)

Besides, she could hurt me if she wanted to!

In the photo above, Wonder Woman showed me the punch that she threw to take down one of the bad guys that she fought on the way to the photo shoot. She makes a marvelous pic, doesn't she?

In the pics above, the colors and the lighting add a nice, elegant touch. It convinces me all the more on how these colors will be handy for my 1940's story planned for next year.

The pics above makes for some interesting images. The whiteboard pic almost looks like it was done with a charcoal stick on white paper, while the blackboard looks like a photographic negative (I may try to do a "reverse image" on the Photoshop program just to see what it looks like). Like with the gnome, it took many tries to get these two decent pics. It was hard getting the details of her costume to stand out enough to be recognized for what they were supposed to be. Fortunately, the good princess patiently struck the poses through it all.

Well, that's it for this round of special effects pics. I thank the Amazon wonder for her time and patience. :-)

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Attack the basket, get the foul"

That's what I kept yelling during the Dallas Maverick's game yesterday with the Phoenix Suns. Right now, the Suns are missing Amare Stoudemire, a huge piece of their arsenal, and they're also without Raja Bell. There's very little that the Suns can do to stop attacks to the basket, and if the Mavs draw fouls on top of that, then all the better. That, plus the fact that the Suns are so shorthanded on the bench, would make the Suns hesitant to be too aggressive in getting fouls to stop drives to the basket; because they simply can't afford to lose players by being fouled out.

Right now, the Mavs' depth on the bench looks to be an important deciding factor, because they can keep putting in fresh bodies, while the Suns are basically stuck on rotating about 7 players. For the next game, the Mavs need to keep being aggressive, and to win the next game, which will affect the Suns psychologically. At this level, these are head games as much as they are physical games, and right now, the Mavs have the psychological edge.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Weekend Wrap-up 5-27-2006

ACLU censors itself –maybe it should sue itself, too
The famed American Civil Liberties Union, known for protecting all forms of free speech no matter how vile or offensive –is ironically considering censoring some of its own. This leads me to wonder if the next headline we see will be “ACLU to sue itself for attempt to censor itself.” I hope that they do, because that would be an interesting court case to sit in on. ;-)

Ken "Frito Bandito" Lay and Jeffrey "Light-Fingered" Skilling
Ya ask me, these guys had it coming. I would feel that way even if you didn’t ask me. It’s REALLY hard to feel sorry for these guys, because their actions demonstrate everything that is wrong with corporate culture today. I hope that they spend the rest of their lives in prison for the harm that their selfish actions did to their employees. Many criminals get much more time for crimes that are much less than Lay and Skilling’s multi-million dollar theft of their employees and stockholders. Sometimes, the system works!

Pussycat Dolls too sexy for the toy store
Until this news article, I had never heard of the Pussycats music group. They sound like the latest version of the Spice Girls (remember them?). After reading this column on the group, I am surprised that Hasbro even considered making a line of dolls based on them. Someone at Hasbro apparently wasn’t thinking right on this one. It also makes me wonder what is next. Perhaps a Janet Jackson doll with a “malfunctioning wardrobe” outfit, or an Anna Nicole Smith doll that eats your food and takes your money? Or maybe a Tom Cruise doll that hops up and down on your couch when you press its button. ;-)

(I hope that I haven’t inadvertently given Hasbro any ideas for future dolls…)

After a frustrating loss in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, the Dallas Mavericks bounced back in Game 2. I knew Coach Avery Johnson wouldn’t let the Mavs lose a second game. Now the Mavs need to add to their success by winning the games in Phoenix. I still stick by my belief that the Mavs can do this, and go on to the NBA Finals. But they gotta take care of “bidness” in Phoenix first!

Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers baseball team still stands atop the West Division; thanks totally to the fact that the West is the worst division in baseball. The Rangers’ bare margin above the .500 mark is enough to be the winningest team on a division with poor won/loss records. I had hoped that the Rangers would strive to be better than that, but I guess that I will have to take what I can get. Sigh.

Pics of a blimp
Last weekend, Fort Worth hosted its annual Colonial Golf Tournament. A sight that appears at that time is the blimp that is used to shoot those overhead shots for the sports stations that cover the tournament. The blimp provided too tempting a test for my digital camera’s features. My camera has something called “superzoom”, which zooms in by a magnification of 10; and the “digital zoom”, which zooms in by a magnification of 40. The superzoom feature was not easy to use, because the blimp is a tiny an object in the sky, and with the tiny viewscreen that’s on my camera, it took some effort to find a tiny blip in the sky.

However, that wasn’t so much of a challenge as trying to photograph the blimp with the digital zoom feature! The main problem was keeping the blimp in my viewscreen long enough for the camera to focus on the blimp, and to photograph it before it moved out of my screen. It doesn’t look like it from my vantage point, but the blimp is actually moving, and it’s probably moving a lot faster than I think. Anyway, after several failed attempts of trying to capture the blimp fully focused and totally within the viewscreen, I got the image below. It was about time, too, because the sun was baking my face as I tried to get the pic. Now along with the pic below, I have the face of a bronze god.

Memorial Day notes
Monday is Memorial Day, in which we recall the sacrifices of the men and women in our armed services who have served in the past, and who continue to serve us today. In many parts of the world, the military serves as the fist for the person in power. Fortunately, our military does not work that way. They serve to protect us from those who desire to do us harm, and to protect our democratic way of life. While there are those who question some of the actions that our military does (for instance, the war in Iraq), most Americans understand the role that the military serves in our country, and they appreciate it. So on Monday, remember our servicemen and women who have taken upon the responsibility of protecting our country –especially remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice in the performances of such services. May God guide them all in the exercise of their duties, and for those who have died while in the line of duty, may God have mercy on their souls, and may He grant them eternal peace. It is because of people like them that people like me have the freedoms that we do.

Have a great weekend, folks!

And have a great summer!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Meet Gnorman the Gnome

Attached below is my bud, Gnorman the Gnome. He's totally cool, and loves to party. He also graciously offered to pose as I tested the various features of my digital camera. Thanks, Gnorm!

In the pictures below, we see Gnorman in black and white, and in a tone called sepia. The black and white feature will be handy for making some artsy looking pics. If any of you folks have pictures of your parents or grandparents from the 1940's, then most likely their photos look like the sepia tones. Knowing of this sepia feature is rather handy for something that I plan to do next year for a Shamrock story, which is a story of her grandparents that takes place in the 1940's. I plan to take sepia pictures and use them in a style I will call "art photos" so that the whole work will be in a sepia color like you are looking through some old family photo album. I hope this works as well as I hope it will work.

In the pics below, we see Gnorman in a style called "whiteboard" and "blackboard". In short, whiteboard makes light colored areas absolutely white, while the dark areas are make absolutely black, which makes for some very interesting visual effects that can be very artsy. You've seen some whiteboard pics here before in some of my mock-up ads for my website. This feature takes a little working with to pull off, but if you can capture the right pose, then it comes out very cool. Unfortunately, the pic of Gnorm was the best I could do. You can't even see his face! Sorry, dude! The blackboard is the opposite of the whiteboard (of course!) in that it makes the light colored areas absolutely dark and the dark areas absolutely white. This is harder to work with, and it's really difficult to get good pics with this. There must be some trick to this that I haven't figured out yet. I'll keep working on it.

Well, that's it for today, folks! I'll be posting more pics here as I figure out more of the features of my digital camera!

Mavericks lose to Suns in Game 1. Sigh.

In an unexpected upset, the Phoenix Suns defeated the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series. Folks, it wasn't pretty to watch Steve Nash & Co. to basically have their way to the basket. The thing is, the Mavs KNEW that the Suns were going to be like this --and yet, most of the time they stood around like statues as the Suns ran around them. Plus, at the end, the defense failed badly. However, I know that Coach Avery Johnson will make the adjustments like he did with the Spurs. And remember folks --the Mavs also lost Game 1 with the Spurs at the last second just like they did yesterday. This was only one game; this series is far from over. Coach Johnson will adjust --trust me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mavs' March to the NBA Finals continues tonight

The Spurs are done with; now comes the Phoenix Suns. During the series with the Spurs, I noticed a sort of anti-Mavs sentiment out there in my discussions with those outside of Texas. Actually, I don't think the negative feelings are so much against the Mavs as it is against Mark Cuban.

Heck, even I admit that Cuban is the biggest complainer in the NBA, but his complaints aren't entirely without merit. The League was giving way too many fouls in favor of the big name players like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, or Kobe Bryant --so many that it was disrupting the game.

Fortunately, Cuban has the money to pay the fines he gets for complaining so publicly. The NBA can't ignore his complaints, though, so for the sake of the game the fines were worth it, because this year's playoffs have been the most exciting in years. And of course, I can say that the fines are worth it, because it isn't my money. ;-)

My prediction for this series: The Mavs in 6.

Now for something from a bud of mine that I'll call Joe, who sends me these kinds of e-mails whenever the local teams do something exciting --like beat the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs. (incidentally, the last time I got this kind of e-mail from him was when the Texas Longhorns won the national championship earlier this year). Anyway, as you read the e-mail below and you're visualizing Joe doing these things that he describes, keep in mind that Joe ain't no tiny little Chinese gymnast --so for him to be doing all the things that he describes below paints interesting and entertaining images to visualize in your head. :-)



As usual I did my jumping about the room. I know that I jumped off of the top rail, swung off the chandelier and did a full layout Sukahara and and landed in a pike position. Then I jumped up and walked along the wall ala “Crouching Tiger” movie up the side of the wall, on the ceiling then dropped down Mission Impossible like and stopped just above the floor. Then realizing that I had no rope to suspend me, I crashed to the floor. But, no pain! Too excited. What a great game. I hope they get the championship this year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

They pulled my punch!

You good folks remember this blog entry from a few days ago:

"In God We Trust" NOT.
In a move worthy of Soviet Russia era censorship, Liberty Elementary School in Colleyville, TX has removed "In God We Trust" from the face of a U.S. nickel that appears in their yearbook. The school didn't want to offend those of different religions. What a lesson to teach the children: censorship and defacing our coins is acceptable so long as you're offended. Thomas Jefferson, the face on the nickel, owned slaves. That's offensive, isn't it? So shouldn't his face be removed from the yearbook cover as well? To be safe, the school should just have this blank, silver circle without "In God We Trust" and Jefferson's face. Somewhere out there, Joseph Stalin is rolling in his grave, wishing that Adobe Photoshop had been available back in his day.

Well, I sent that blog entry verbatim to my local newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (FWST from here on), as a Letter to the Editor (LTTE from here on). Here's how it appears in the LTTE page:

What a lesson to teach the children: Censorship and defacing our coins is acceptable so long as someone might be offended.

Thomas Jefferson, whose face is on the nickel, owned slaves. That's offensive, isn't it? So shouldn't his face be removed from the yearbook cover as well?

Josef Stalin is rolling in his grave, wishing that Adobe Photoshop had been available back in his day.

John P. Araujo, Fort Worth

See how much shorter it is? At first, I thought that it might be because of space issues (or rather, the lack of space), but if you look at some of the other letters on that page, you see that some of the LTTEs are longer than mine --so it wasn't a space issue.

What I don't like about the edited version above is that it "pulls my punch" of my original statement. I really hate it when editors do that. I take great care to not use the usual shock tactic of saying the "n word" or the "b word" or other such words, because I see that as a writing cop-out. If I want my statements to have some "punch", then I'll let my statements make the punch; I don't want the punch to come from some shortcut tactic as throwing around shock words.

I know and understand that it's not my newspaper, and the FWST is within their rights to edit as they please --but what would have been so wrong with printing my LTTE exactly as I wrote it? So folks, I'm really disappointed that the FWST felt the need to pull my punch. Or as it would be said in shock word fashion, I'm pissed.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Oh, YEAH!!!!! Mavs beat Spurs!!!

In what was an awesomely fought series, the Dallas Mavericks finally prevailed and defeated the San Antonio Spurs 119-111 in this best of 7 series. Neither team was willing to give up; each team fought tooth and nail. However, it looked like the Spurs spent all their "mojo" getting the tie in the 4th quarter, because in overtime, they seemed to be out of gas. The Spurs had to come from WAY back to get the tie --about 20 points at one time, I think.

Now that the Mavs have won, I don't have to be mad about the officiating (especially in this game). ;-)

But an idea can be had about how the refs were doing: About halfway through the game, a graphic displayed that only one Spur had more than 2 fouls at that point, but there was about 4 (and maybe 5) Mavs that already had 4 fouls at that time. As it is, 3 of the Mavs fouled out by the end of the game, but fortunately, the Mavs didn't fold and held out to the end. I'm proud of these guys. I think they have overcome a very significant mental block in getting this series victory. Who knows how far this will carry them from here on?

Way to go, Mavs!!

Odds and Ends commentary 5-22-2006

Immigration yet again

In a discussion with others over the weekend, I finally agreed on something with a group of folks that are in favor of total amnesty for illegal immigrants (that is, legalizing them by a congressional act instead of letting them go through the regular citizenship process). They mentioned that those companies and other employers that hire illegal immigrants should be cracked down upon, because they are the reason that the illegals come here in the first place. I agreed, and I wondered aloud why that angle isn’t covered more in the news. After all, if these employers were more diligent about not hiring illegals, then it would be make it less worth their time and sacrifice for illegals to come here; and thus, we’d theoretically would have a drop-off in the number of illegals. There must be some political angle at play here, or there might be some politically correct reason why this isn’t covered more. I’ll be giving this angle more thought and see what I come up with.

First column topic for my website

I’ve decided on the topic for my first column of my website. I will be discussing the free press and why we need it now more than ever. I will also be discussing my views on the shortcomings of today’s media and why it’s important that they correct it. I will be posting drafts of that column here on the blog and on another website that I frequent so that it can be subjected to the views and criticisms of others. Sometimes these folks catch stuff that I will miss, so I view their input very highly. I eventually want to get to a pace that I do at least one column a month, but right now, I’ll settle for getting this first one up.

Edtoons lacking in this blog!

Yes, I’ve been lax in posting edtoons here. Basically, nothing in the news really has jumped out at me to make an edtoon over, but being in practice for making edtoons means working on something anyway just to stay in practice. My bad, folks. I’ll get back on it this week.

Also soon to come on my website…

I’ve made the decision that, after I publish my first Shamrock superhero story to my website, I am going to switch from color comics to black and white with shades of gray. I much prefer color comics, but seeing as how I’m the only one working on this right now, it is taking a lot longer for me to make them than I would like. I’d rather be posting stories up faster than be more concerned that they are in color. Maybe at some future time, I can have someone add the color, but for now, I’d rather work on establishing a regular pace that I can work on them and put them up. Right now, colorizing them takes too much time –especially since I’m also working on other things on top of that.

And in June, I plan to have my old computer upgraded so that I can get DSL at home so that I can add to my website on a regular basis. Once I’ve gotten the upgraded computer AND the DSL –watch out!

Coming this week on my blog

I will be posting more cool pics that I took over the weekend that demonstrate other abilities of my cool digital camera. I’ve used film cameras all this time for all these years, but now I am totally sold on digital cameras, and I probably won’t go back to them anytime real soon.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Weekend Wrap-up Commentary 5-20-2006

"In God We Trust" NOT.
In a move worthy of Soviet Russia era censorship, Liberty Elementary School in Colleyville, TX has removed "In God We Trust" from the face of a U.S. nickel that appears in their yearbook. The school didn't want to offend those of different religions. What a lesson to teach the children: censorship and defacing our coins is acceptable so long as you're offended. Thomas Jefferson, the face on the nickel, owned slaves. That's offensive, isn't it? So shouldn't his face be removed from the yearbook cover as well? To be safe, the school should just have this blank, silver circle without "In God We Trust" and Jefferson's face. Somewhere out there, Joseph Stalin is rolling in his grave, wishing that Adobe Photoshop had been available back in his day.

Agg-Town Fights DVD update
So far, this issue seems to have lead to some productive dialogue. I just hope that it leads to productive results instead of explaining away that these kids are "actually victims of somesuch disorder" and doing nothing. This is a problem begging for a true solution, and anything less will result in more Agg-Town Fights DVDs being produced by someone else.

The Da Vinci Code
Someone asked me what I thought of the hubbub made over The Da Vinci Code movie. I told them that this movie was to be the anti-Catholic Left's answer to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Well, it was critically panned for the most part, and the only reason it has large audiences now is because of the amount of press given it. But I won't protest the movie, nor will I encourage others to do so. That would only give it more press, and if the critics weren't crazy about it, then why should we make any more fuss over it?

So it goes to a deciding game 7 for the Mavs and the Spurs. Sigh. If nothing else, this series has been one for the ages. In fact, 3 of the 4 series are going to a game 7. This is like college "March Madness", except it's May, and it's the pros. For a basketball fan, this has been fun! But the fun will be sucked out if the Mavs lose Game 7!!!!

The Bird is back
The bird below is named Marcela, and it hangs by my desk at work. I wanted to name it Halle Berry, but I got voted down, and it was named Marcela after a popular student worker who had just graduated at the time. It hung there for about a year and a half until about Christmas time last year, when I hung something else in its place. Anyway, now seemed like a good time to put the bird back up because I have a blog, and it's a liberal bird (this is so because it has a sign about Austin, Texas, which is a liberal town) --and sometimes I need its take on the left wing side of various issues. Next I need to find a conservative bird to give the opposite viewpoint, and we can have some very interesting discussions (Okay, who out there just said that I need a life?).

Friday, May 19, 2006

Jason Terry's suspension is totally bogus

Okay, I gotta say this: The suspension of Jason Terry for Game 6 is totally bogus. Finley had landed on Terry, and in the heat of the moment, Terry was fighting him off. No, he shouldn't have thrown that punch, but this was an intense moment of an intense game of an intense series. The foul wasn't even called at that moment during the game --and suddenly just before a crucial deciding game is about to be play, now it's a foul? As it is, the refs have been calling a lot of disruptive, ticky-tack fouls on both teams in this series, and this heavyhanded action is a referee ego-trip run amuck. All the refs will accomplish here is to guarantee that Mark Cuban will be on their backs like a bad habit. Let the players play!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Moog and Oog: The Arms Race

When I had heard the term, "paleoconservative" and "paleoliberal", it made me think of cavemen for some reason. Then I thought that it would be funny if cavemen really did have left and right leanings in those days. So thus, I came up with Moog and Oog. Read on, and let me know what you think. Maybe I'll make more such stories of these two.


Moog and Oog: the ultimate paleo-politicos.

Moog: the ultimate paleoliberal.
Oog: the ultimate paleoconservative.

Moog and Oog are a couple of cavemen at the local rock pile, digging for good throwing rocks. During their search, Moog and Oog talk about the rumors that a local tribe is experimenting with something called “spears” and how it will affect the power balance among the neighboring tribes. Oog asks “What you think about rumors of new weapons Bear tribe said to have?” Moog answers:

Moog: Me not like it. Me not even like using regular weapons, because me feel that we should all just try to get along.
Oog: Ha, me knew you going to say that. You always want to get along.

Moog: What wrong with that?
Oog: You live in dream world. Real world not like that.

Moog: Maybe real world not like that RIGHT NOW, but could be.
Oog: No. Bear tribe and our Wolf tribe always fight. It go way back. My father Og fight Bear tribe, and his father O fight bear tribe. My son Ooog will fight Bear tribe too. It tradition.

Moog: Maybe Bear tribe always fight Wolf tribe because Wolf tribe always fight Bear tribe.
Oog: Bear tribe started it. Legend say Bear tribe leader Ditka hit Wolf tribe leader Muk during inter-tribal council way back when.

Moog: Me know this legend. Legend also say that Muk called Ditka bad name. That why Ditka hit Muk.
Oog: So? Ditka no need hit Muk. Bad name just name, not fist.

Moog: To call someone bad name called ‘provocation’.
Oog: There you go again, use big words. Me think you just make those up.

Moog: Provocation real word! It in dictionary!
Oog: What is ‘dictionary’?

Moog: It book of words
Oog: What is ‘book’?

Moog: Never mind. But it word. Trust me. Me not lie to you.
Oog: Me know you not lie to me, because you part of Wolf tribe. Bear tribe always lie, not Wolf tribe.

Moog: What if Bear tribe say that Wolf tribe always lie?
Oog: Didn’t me just explain? That lie! Bear tribe always lie.

Moog: But me mean that Bear tribe could be saying same things we say about them. How we know who right and who wrong?
Oog: Let me draw you picture. Look here: This Bear tribe. They always wrong. Now look here: This Wolf tribe. They always right.

Moog: But…
Oog: No “but”! That way it is!

Moog: But…
Oog: Don’t make me throw this rock at you!

Moog: Okay, me just get back to original topic. Me think we should talk to Bear tribe before they make spear.
Oog: Yeah! Good idea! That way, we bust up plans before they make them! Maybe take spears too!

Moog: No! Me mean that we talk peace with Bear tribe!
Oog: ‘Peace’! Hah! Bear tribe not know meaning of word ‘peace’!

Moog: You know what word mean?
Oog: No, but me know that they not know it, either! They dumb!

Moog: Peace mean we leave each other alone. No more fighting, just getting along.
Oog: Bear tribe never stop fighting. They make spear to make more fighting, not less.

Moog: Good point, but maybe if we make peace talks, we stop something before something starts.
Oog: No need for talking. We just make better weapon than spear. We get Weapons and Designs R&D Committee on it before Bear tribe can make trouble with spear.

Moog: Ah, now we getting to point me trying to make. What has Committee made so far?
Oog: Committee come up with cutting edge technology: rock for throwing, and club for hitting, but Committee need to stay ahead of curve. That why we need counter to spear, but we need to know what spear is and how it work.

Moog: We get closer still to point. So what happens when Committee make counter to spear? What Bear tribe do next?
Oog: Me not know. Maybe they make better weapon than our weapon.

Moog: So what happen when they make better weapon than our weapon?
Oog: Then we make even better weapon.

Moog: Then they make even better still weapon. So when it stop?
Oog: It stop when they stop.

Moog: Maybe it stop if we stop first.
Oog: Then Bear tribe will end up with better weapon! That not good idea!

Moog: But if we stop before they stop, then they lose interest in making better weapons. Then arms race need not escalate.
Oog: What arms have to do with this? I thought we talk about weapons.

Moog: ‘Arms’ is other name for weapons.
Oog: Why not just say ‘weapons’?

Moog: Because saying ‘arms’ sound smarter.
Oog: Saying ‘arms’ when you mean ‘weapons’ sound dumb, not smart!

Moog: (Sigh). Okay, then weapons race need not escalate if we give Bear tribe no excuse to escalate.
Oog: But Bear tribe may escalate anyway.

Moog: Hm?
Oog: In fact, Bear tribe may escalate BECAUSE we not improve weapons technology.

Moog: Why would Bear tribe want to escalate if we give them no reason to escalate?
Oog: So that they stay ahead of us in weapons race. Then they always hold it over us during inter-tribal talks.

Moog: That make no sense. Then Bear tribe causing trouble they not need cause.
Oog: It make perfect sense. Bear tribe may be liars, Bear tribe may be always wrong, Bear tribe may even be dumb, but Bear tribe not stupid.

Moog: Hmm. You do have point. And they at least smart enough to make spear, so if they get edge, then they try to keep edge.
Oog: Me think peace was possible so long as no one made weapons in first place.

Moog: Ah, me see what you saying. Once one of us made throwing rock and throw at other guy, then weapons race begin.
Oog: Yes, then other guy make throwing rock, and then each tries to make better weapon than other.

Moog: So if it start, then it can stop. That point me been trying to make all along.
Oog: Too late. Genie out of bottle. There no going back now.

Moog: But surely there other way than simply accept grim specter of death to wind its way in valley?
Oog: Who this specter guy? Is he part of Bear tribe?

Moog: Him only metaphor for point me making.
Oog: Oh, so specter part of metaphor tribe.

Moog: Uh…….something like that, yeah.
Oog: find any good rocks yet?

Moog: No, me not find any good rocks; me only find rocks good for throwing so we can continue senseless acts of death and destruction.
Oog: You can be real downer, you know that?

Moog: Sorry. Me try better to put happy face to pain and suffering.
Oog: See? Now you get in spirit of things!


Spurs win 2nd game

The Dallas Mavericks were unable to finish off the San Antonio Spurs last night, so the best-of-seven series is now 3-2. The Mavs will have to wait another day and another game to put away the Spurs. It was a very frustrating game, but I knew all along that the Spurs were not going to go down quietly. They ARE the defending champs for a reason, after all. Even with all the frustration from yesterday, the Mavs were only a missed put-back away from winning the game. But I still believe that they can do this-- they just have to go through another game to do it. Remember, my prediction had the Mavs winning this in 6 games, and tomorrow is the 6th game. I'm still on track for my prediction, in other words.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

NBA playoff seeding

Remember back on May 10, when I had said that the NBA playoffs should use a different seeding system than the one they have now? Well, David Stern heard me!

However, the seeding system he proposes is different from the one that I'm proposing. I'm still working on that, and I'm also trying to decide how to post it here. It might look kind of awkward posted as text here, so I might make it an image file instead. I think the NBA should take a page out of the way the college playoffs are set up, because those playoffs are often very exciting, and excitement draws fans.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Odds and Ends Commentary 5-16-2006

Halfway through May already?
Can you believe it?

Bush's speech on immigration
I didn't get to see President Bush's speech when he gave it, but I did read the text of what he said. From the sound of it, it sounds like he's trying to please as many people as he can --which is what politicians do, of course. However, I think that a lot of what he said made sense. Saying it is one thing, of course --but the implementation of the ideas brought forth is "a whole 'nother animal". Also, I only saw what Bush plans to do about the border to Mexico, but the U.S. also borders Canada. If we build a "Maginot Line" at the U.S./Mexico border, wouldn't terrorists and other bad egg types just get around that by coming through Canada instead? But I guess we should stick to solving only one problem at a time, eh?

In the meantime, my opinion on this issue still has not changed after all this. I still welcome those who wish to come here; but they still need to go by the book by going through the process of becoming a citizen as the immigrants of the past have done.

"Agg-Town Fights DVD" reactions
This article shows how Arlington, Texas is reacting to the recent bad news of the taping of teenage fights being sold as DVDs. While the arrests are a good start, I think that this will only prove to be a "Band-Aid" instead of a solution --in other words, they can't just treat the symptoms, they need to find the cause. While they can remove some of the instigators, the environment that caused this whole sorry episode still needs to be dealt with.

That's going to call for some painful societal level soul-searching if the solution is to have any good, permanent effect. Our society still hasn't shaken off the effects of "political correctness", so it may be a while longer before any serious, productive societal-level soul-searching takes place. PC has become to our society what alcohol is to an alcoholic, and just like the alcoholic who wants to quit, this statement must be taken to heart: "In order to fix a problem, you first have to admit there that IS a problem." How the city of Arlington responds to this and what solutions they offer will go a long way in telling us where we are in regards to actually dealing with problems like this.

The Da Vinci Code - book and movie
I've been reserving judgment on The Da Vinci Code until I've either read the book or seen the movie. However, I haven't heard a lot that is positive about it. From the sound of it, there's a lot of basic flaws in the book that undermines the credibility of the story. Granted, it's a work of fiction and even says so at the beginning of the book, but judging on the coverage that it's been given, you would think that it was a scholarly tract rather than a novel. However, one error got my attention right away: the albino Opus Dei monk. Opus Dei doe not HAVE any monks!

Plus, my liberal-minded coworker is offended by the portrayal of the albino character, who also happens to exhibit some un-albino type traits --like driving at night. According to her, the eyesight of albinos are usually poor, so they don't usually drive at all, much less at night. If the book can't get even basic facts right, then it says a lot about the accuracy of the rest of the book. In other words, if it can't get info about albinos right (which should be easily available for anyone who bothers to find out), then how can we trust its accuracy in regards to Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and the Catholic Church?

The only reason that I can see for its popularity is because it "dares" to say bad things about Jesus and Catholicisim. Nowadays, saying bad things about Jesus or Catholicism is as about gutless as it comes, because anyone who does such a thing will know that they will have various anti-religious groups coming to their rescue. While I don't believe in the so-called "liberal media bias", I do believe that many members of the media suffer not so much from a deliberate attempt to slant their coverage in a left-wing way, but rather from being among only those who already believe the way that they do. It's called "groupthink". The more liberal-thinking members of the media has an axe to grind with the Catholic Church, so they'll be all over something like the Da Vinci Code which says things that they want to hear. It's rather pathetic when you think about it; to be so hostile to Catholicism that you'll give credibility even to something as misinformed as this novel.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Close-up of a 1941 penny

Here I was testing the close-up zoom feature of my digital camera by taking pictures of a 1941 penny. Ain't it cool? Imagine the history that this penny has seen. You can tell that it's been around, judging by the smoothed out edges that it shows.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend Wrap-up Commentary 5-13-2006

Bush's speech on immigration on Monday
President Bush is going to speak Monday on the issue of illegal immigration and what he wants to do about it. If you went by what you've heard from protesters, you'd think that he was in favor of deporting all illegal aliens and building a "Great Wall of China" at the US/Mexico border; but actually, Bush is much more open to these immigrants than what your average conservative commentator is comfortable with. However, the outspokenness of these commentators, plus the counterprotests of Americans has led Bush down this road of addressing the nation in this fashion, and from the sound of it, he may concede somewhat to the desires of his conservative base. If that is indeed what he ends up doing, the protesters may wish that they had left well enough alone, because as I said above, Bush' s initial plan was already close to what they had been asking for. I shall be commenting on his speech on Tuesday.

"Agg Town Fightz" videos
"Agg Town" is the slang, hip-hop name for the city of Arlington, Texas, which is located between Dallas and Fort Worth (this info is for those readers who are not from Texas). The "Agg Town Fightz" (which I shall call ATF from here on) are videos that were filmed (usually by cellphone cameras) and produced by a local group of black teenagers. They took pictures of fights among black teenagers and put together fight videos on a DVD, and added rap music in the background. Apparently, the sale of ATF went well enough that a second ATF 2 was also out, and a ATF 3 was apparently in the works. Attached below is a link to the story from a local newspaper:

I find the whole story not so much as an outrage as it is depressing. With all that our society has gone through to help us all have equal and civil rights, plus with all that is available out there for young people today with computers and technology plus all the information and knowledge that is to be had via the Internet, this is how some young people choose to use these talents --to make and sell fight videos? Here's what's particularly bothersome: The producers of this video are black. One of the producers said that this is a hobby of his. Let's view this statement from this perspective: What if the producer who said this happened to be white? The NAACP, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and all of the other prominent black leaders would have been down here protesting in ways that haven't been seen since the 1960's. So with that, let's ask this: does it really make a difference if the hobby enthusiast producer happens to be black? Isn't the outrage just the same? I shall be commenting more on this as this story develops, because what we are seeing here is a significant demonstration of our society as it is today.

Retirement of Hummer 1
So the vehicle will all the fuel economy of a tank is finally going to be retired, eh? Once the price of gas got to around $3 a gallon, that pretty much doomed this gas guzzler. I never drove one, and I always wondered how it would have felt. Does it drive like a regular car, or does it feel like you're driving a tank?

The Dallas Mavericks play Game 3 today of the best-of-seven series with the San Antonio Spurs. These next two games are in Dallas, and they will be an important test on where the Mavs are in thier development as an "elite" team. Beat these guys --who happen to be the defending champs-- and the Mavs will have overcome a significant stumbling block in the psychological development as a team. If they win this series, then I forsee them going all the way to the championship.

As for the Texas Rangers, the best that can be said right now is that they still lead the worst division in baseball. I guess we gotta take what little progress we can get right now, but dang, I would really like to see some consistency on this team --particularly in the pitching, but also with the offense. The Rangers, though, have to strive to be better than they're going right now.

Mother's Day
That's tomorrow, folks. Don't forget to wish your mother a Happy Mother's Day. Otherwise, she'll let you know in her own way that you forgot. ;-)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Mavs kick Spurs' butt

Mavericks 113 Spurs 91

Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about! Okay, normally I save the sports reporting for the "Weekend Wrap-ups", but the Mavs don't play again until Saturday, and I can't wait that long to talk about it here!

In Game 2 of this best of seven series, the Dallas Mavericks handed the San Antonio Spurs their butts on a platter. >:-)

That's how it shoulda been for Game 1! I knew Coach Johnson wouldn't let them lose Game 2.

The Mavs could have won Game 1, because they basically did in Game 2 what they did in Game 1 --with the exception that the Mavs didn't score points in Game 1 like they did in Game 2. This is why I feel confident that the Mavs will finally win against the Spurs this year.

Also, NBA Commissioner David Stern commented about this set-up in which the #1 team in a conference is playing the #2 team (in won-loss record) in a semi-final. This series should have been the conference final. Hey, it wasn't the Mavs' fault that the current set-up had them as the 4th seed! So heck yeah, this series should have been the conference final!

Both basketball and football can benefit from a different seeding system, for that matter. The recent Super Bowls have been Super boring. This goes along with my theory that both of these leagues should use some sort of bracket system like colleges use. In an upcoming blog, I shall construct some brackets based on the teams that were in the playoffs in both the NBA and NFL, and we'll see how those teams would have lined up in a bracket system like colleges use.

(What am I, ESPN over here or something?)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Warning signs

In the story below, keep in mind that the reference librarian in question is a Quaker!

And then there’s this story:

This was done by a British Literature professor!

It’s times like this that we see that even the normally tolerant, open-minded left wing can display such intolerant behavior.

The above examples (there are other examples, of course) are part of why I can’t fully align myself to the left –which does not at all mean that I’ve gone gung-ho for the right, either. I’ve learned some years ago to not align my views to only one side of the political spectrum. Each side has their good and their bad, and to be too focused on one side amounts to basically cutting off one side of your brain. Just like birds need two wings to fly, we need both halves of our brains to think and function properly.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Barry Bonds blows "save" opportunity

For some strange reason, Barry Bonds refused to sign the ball that a fan caught of his 713th homer. The fan, Carlos Oliveras, is a U.S. Air Force serviceman. He approached Bonds, but Bonds would not sign. Instead, Oliveras got a photo taken with Bonds, and a certificate of authenticity was stamped on the ball.

Bonds foolishly blew a "feelgood" moment, because he sorely needs some positive press right now. He is getting booed because fans don't feel that he deserves to pass Babe Ruth's career home run record due to his alleged use of steroids to reach that mark. Whether that's fair or not to do to Bonds, he did himself no favors by refusing to sign Oliveras' ball.

Maybe he does not support the war in Iraq, and if so, then his refusal could be some sort of political statement about the war. If that's the case, then he is certainly entitled to his opinion (I happen to not exactly be all in favor of the war myself), but he's gonna have to take the grief that comes from such a point of view. Signing the ball of a U.S. serviceman would have been a "double bonus" for him, but instead he has served up a "double negative". So thus, this can rightly be considered a "blown save" opportunity.

Despite the fact that we might have very similar views of the war, his questionable refusal to do something that would have done a lot for him makes me wonder about the man and his decision making. In other words, maybe I don't want Bonds to get the record, either!

Odds and Ends Commentary - 5-8-2006

Short note on the Journey to Nerdville

Just in the past couple of days, I've learned about something called "MP4" files, or "vodcasts", and that they can be played on newer iPods and cellphones. They are like MP3s, but in video format. For an Old School Fool like me, that's just too cool. I was looking into getting a cellphone soon anyway, so I'll ask about that feature while I'm at it. Of course, I'll comment more on this when I get a cellphone and try to download an MP4 file.

Patrick Kennedy

While it is good that Patrick Kennedy is checking himself into rehab, who doesn't believe that he got a free pass that none of us would have gotten had we done the same thing? The famed "Kennedy Mystique" makes the Kennedy family the closest thing that this country has to royalty, but I wonder if that does more harm than good for the Democratic Party? As "the party of the little people", party members should be willing to take their lumps like anyone else when they do wrong. Kennedy getting a free pass sets a bad example, and worse, it gives ammo for the conservative talk shows to use against the Dems. The issue may have been largely dropped from the mainstream media, but don't think that the conservative talk show hosts are going to let this issue get away too soon.


What a bad weekend for the local pro sports teams. I don't know if it was rust on the Dallas Mavericks' part from being off for almost a week, or that the San Antonio Spurs came to play, or if it was both, but the end result is that the Mavs lost by two when it was all over. However, I don't doubt that Coach Avery Johnson is all over this, and that he already has something in the works for tomorrow's game. I still stand by my original prediction of the Mavs in 6.

And while we are on the topic of mystiques, the Texas Rangers got themselves swept by the New York Yankees. While the Yanks are still a formidable team, they are also a beatable team. The Rangers could have easily have gotten a win or two from this series, but I believe that they got spooked by the so-called "Yankee Mystique" (I tell ya, put a Kennedy in a Yankee uniform, and there's no telling what they can do!). It's only because the Rangers happen to be in the worst division in baseball that they happen to still have a marginal hold on first place. The Rangers are better than the team that they appeared to be in this series, and that's what's so disappointing.

Mock-up ads for my website

I didn't get to post these last week, so here's some today. I'll try to post more of them later in the week. I made the following ads this way: My digital camera has a feature called "whiteboard" in which light colored surfaces are made absolutely white, while dark surfaces are made absolutely black. That contrast makes for some interesting pictures as shown below. Once I took the photos, I opened them up in Adobe Photoshop and stretched and skewed the image to emphasize the facial expressions shown below. Then, of course, I added text to finish it up. The end result is a visually interesting and humorous ad --which is important if people are going to remember it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

End of the Week Wrap-up 5-6-2006

French toast again, or "If Dad doesn't know, ask Mom!"

I asked my mother about why the cost of French toast is much more than the cost of regular toast when they're both basically slices of bread, and she said that it's because eggs are used in the making of French toast --sometimes two or three eggs that the toast is dipped in. So basically, the cost covers both the toast plus the eggs used to make it. So there ya go.

Being an artist vs. looking like one

On the campus where I work, an art professor I know wears no other shoes besides Birkenstock sandals. Even in wintertime, she wears them --but with socks. I discussed this with some people I know, and they thought that all artists wore them. They had this impression that artists were supposed to be liberal, sometimes surly and arrogant, dressed Bohemian style (basically, like a slob), hate Bush, and of course, wear Birkenstock sandals. That got me to thinking: Isn't that a stereotype, actually? I consider myself an artist --certainly not a Picasso or a Rembrandt --but certainly an artist. And yet, I don't dress or act that way (okay, maybe I can be a tad surly at times, but it's not because I'm an artist).

Granted, the stereotype of non-conformity is usually expected, but --isn't it a tad ironic for an artist to conform to a stereotype of non-conformity? In other words, doesn't it fly in the face of being a non-conformist to conform to an expected standard of non-conformity? I think it does, and I think that I'm being a non-conformist artist by consciously trying to NOT conform to the expected non-conformist stereotype. So there. What's the artist community gonna do about it? Call me a rebel? Wouldn't that make me a non-conformist? Gotta love it. ;-)

Chaos in the superhero universe

My student workers at the university library where I work, plus people that I know online keep me up on the goings-on in the superhero universes of Marvel and DC Comics (which I shall refer to from here on as MCU and DCCU respectively). In the DCCU, they just completed a limited series called Infinite Crisis, and as a result, the superheroes are going to be expected to register as heroes in the countries where they work.

Meanwhile, in the MCU, they're just starting a limited series called Civil War. In the MCU, as a result of a disasterous episode of a superhero reality TV show, the federal government is now going to require superheroes to reveal their secret identities to the government, and to register basically as supercops for the feds. This divides the superhero community, because many of them feel that they need the anonymity that the mask provides. Also, it would only take a corrupt federal employee to sell their secrets to the highest bidder for their identities to be known by the wrong people. Or it could be a super villain who threatens utter devastation unless a superhero's secret to be revealed. I guess you can look at it this way: Would you trust the federal government to keep your secrets? Anyway, this series is about the chaos that ensues from this federal action.

I shall be keeping up with this, because I may write it in for my own superhero on my site. Whe I've gotten more info on the results of these actions in both the DCCU and the MCU, then I shall comment more on how this will affect what I plan to write for my own superhero character, The Shamrock.


After having almost a week off, the well-rested Dallas Mavericks are now set to play the San Antonio Spurs starting tomorrow. I strongly believe that the Mavs can do this. My prediction: The Mavs in 6 games. The key will be for the Mavs to give the weary, banged-up Spurs no rest. Come at them hard and fast right from the get-go, and don't let up until the clock ticks down on that 4th win. Stay tuned, folks... this could be the Mavs' year to go all the way! :-D

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Edtoon - US/Mexico border 5-4-2006

This edtoon is about the issue of Mexico legalizing certain drug usage, but as the article above states, President Vincente Fox has now backed off this bill, and says that he won't sign it. Below is the edtoon that I had come up with for this issue.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Notes on the Road to Nerdville - 5/3/2006

Notes on the Road to Nerdville - 5/3/2006
"Old School meets High Tech" or, "Old Dogs can learn new tricks"

I just noticed that this is my first Nerdville note on this new blog. In my previous blog, I had posted the occassional note about my journey to learn some new high tech gadgetry. Now I shall continue that Nerdville journey note-taking here. :-)

My newest high tech toy is an MP3 player. It took me a bit to figure it out, but once I figured out about "ripping" and "syncing", the rest sorta fell into place. As they say, with new tech comes new terminology --or something. Anyway, I've been trying to step up (no pun intended) my walking exercise, which is rather boring without at least a radio to listen to. But on the FM side, I'm tired of hearing music from the 60's and 70's, and newer music does not interest me. On the AM side, though, there's only so much conservative talk radio that I can listen to.

Along comes my MP3 player. First, it's NOT an iPod, but a brand called Sansa. I didn't want the real deal, because I didn't want to spend that kinda money on an iPod only to mess it up. But since I chose an MP3 player that my student workers weren't familiar with, they couldn't readily provide the assistance that they could have otherwise provided had I gotten an iPod like they have. Well, excuse me for not being like everyone else! ;-)

But I generally learn about stuff by messing around with it, and if it doesn't break first, then I start to learn about it by trial and error. Well, now I got enough of a hang of my MP3 player to be able to upload podcasts of news stories and debates. When I went walking around today, it was so cool to listen to something that was actually helpful and informative--instead of listening to something by the Beatles for the umpteenth time. Don't get me wrong; I like to listen to music from time to time as well, but if I'm going to have a site and a blog that are going to emphasize opining, then I need to listen to more stuff like that. While I am "old school" in some ways, it's times like these that I appreciate living in the Internet Age.

This has been a note from the road to Nerdville.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Odds and Ends Commentary 5-1-2006

Oops, Baby, she did it again

Rumor has it that Britney Spears is pregnant again. It could be worse. It could be Tom Cruise that is expecting again. (I hope that this comment doesn't come back to haunt me).

French toast

When I took my dad to lunch the other day for his birthday, he asked a question that I did not know the answer to. He looked at the price of regular toast and the French toast. He then asked, "How come French toast is so much more than regular toast? Aren't they both basically just slices of bread?" My dad has this tendency to ask these kinds of questions right out of the blue. I didn't know the answer to that; all I could figure is that the batter that they cook it in must cost that much more. He thought that it could be possible. Does anyone know why French toast costs so much more? My dad's probably already forgotten that he asked that question, but now I'm curious.


The Dallas Mavericks are one win away from making life easier for themselves. If they can sweep the series against the Memphis Grizzlies, then they can just kick back and chill while the Spurs and the Kings slug it out in their now-tied-up series. I don't recall the Mavs ever being able to do that in the playoffs. They could use the rest, because many of their players are banged up.

The Texas Rangers, at this point in time, currently lead the worst division in baseball. They've shown some improvement since the start of the season, and if they can develop some consistency, then they should be able to make a serious run for the division title. Most of the "ifs" are in pitching, and if those questions can be answered, then we just might be talking playoffs come September. Yeah, I know... it's too early in the season to be talking playoffs, but I think that the Rangers made an important step in straightening themselves out from their poor start. It's a good sign.

Coming up later this week

One edtoon will come up this week. I have the idea, I just have to figure out how to make the artwork match the idea. That's one of the challenges of making edtoons. Also, I shall be posting mock-up web ads of my website. This is in case I advertise on someone else's website. I could use this web ad art as a link to my website. I've got quite a few made, and once I figure out which ones I like the best, I shall post them here.