Thursday, December 29, 2005

Farewell Las Vegas I

"Beating them three weeks in a row in Las Vegas is like going into the lion's den and coming out with meat under both arms"
- Larry Merchant
The National Football Lottery (1973)

The following story is not fiction. It is the real life account of a one time Vegas high roller, and financial risk taker who came face to face with the dark side of chance, and his own personal demons. Why should this be a part of Seasons Under The Sun? Well, ultimately it is a story of redemption, and a journey of the spirit, with a little humor thrown in. To that end, Seasons Under The Sun will present the first three chapters of this novella in progress, and a link to the novella site where the complete story will reside... Full Story

Let's get this straight. Occasional "gaming" can be fun, and harmless, but gambling is a passion that can create a lot of strife in your life. Gambling can destroy relationships, and chip away at your soul. Gambling can lay you low even if you somehow learn to win consistently. There are millions out there who don't want to hear this. Right now they're just too busy having a great time gambling, or thinking about future gambling. Why am I telling you this? I am no evangelist, and I don't enjoy preaching to people. I am telling you this because in a "former life" I enjoyed all of the perks and privileges of a Vegas high roller. I was comped for luxury suites, meals, beverages, deluxe shows, and limousine trips to and from the airport. I was invited to a private party where Stevie Wonder was the musical host (couldn't make it), to a heavy weight boxing match with Evander Holyfield (missed that), and went to see Celine Dion with my wife courtesy of Paris, Las Vegas (fantastic show). I am telling you this because despite the lavish treatment, and exciting times it was ultimately a dead end. I know what you are thinking. Another big time loser who finally packed it in after losing a small fortune. The truth is somewhat stranger. I was actually a net winner in Vegas. It must have been part of some great cosmic joke in my life, that I was destined to win in Vegas, only to discover another more sinister form of financial risk taking...

The Story continues here...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Bad Santas before Christmas

I'll be the first to admit that there is a lot of commercial hype that comes with the Christmas season. Many people endure ridiculous stress, and obnoxious relatives, while over indulging in food, and alcohol. Personal problems often get magnified at Christmas being at odds with the idea of a "merry" Christmas. Various religious factions often use Christmas as a time to point out flaws in the Christian faith. A few bold parents injure themselves trying to be Santa Claus, or falling off ladders as they put up lights. Some people actually enjoy adopting a Scrooge-like mentality in protest. However, this little tidbit from New Zealand takes the cake... Full Story

Forty "Santas" went on a rampage through Auckland, New Zealand robbing stores, assaulting security guards, and urinating from overpasses. This story led me to a few dubious conclusions: There should be a 10 PM curfew for anyone in a Santa Claus suit. No more than two Santas should be allowed to congregate in a public place. Any Santa caught with alcohol on their person should be banned from playing Santa for life.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

A Link Exchange Scam?

What would you think of another blogger who you exchanged links with, only to discover after a few weeks that he has redirected all of his traffic from the site you initially linked with to a new porn blog he has authored without letting you know? Well, to me this individual has been dishonest, and devious, or at the very least discourteous (I'll leave it to others to throw in some juicier adjectives here)... Full Story

This person had quite a few blog links on the original site, and I assume that many of those blog owners are unaware that they now have a reciprocal link that redirects to XXX content. Of course this situation is more aggravating if you object to the content of another site, but I'm not here to debate censorship, morality, or sexual inclinations. The issue here is a breach of trust, and misrepresentation where someone can silently corrupt the integrity of your site links, and direct them to content that in no way reflects the content of your own blog. On the other side of the coin my Technorati links now indicate that this new porn blog has a link to my site. I'm hoping this is a temporary situation once Technorati updates its links. One conclusion I've reached is that the original site was cynically created to collect traffic, and links as a "proxy" blog to provide a ready made traffic base for the newer porn blog. This brings up the question of how can you block another site from linking to your blog? One lesson here for all web site owners is to regularly check the integrity of your links, and use some discretion as to who you exchange links with. On the other hand, there are probably much worse situations we can encounter on the web, so I won't stay on the soap box too long. Safe surfing everyone.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Shifting North Pole

I always thought that the North Pole was one of those earth constants, an unchanging, geographic spot on the map. One of those concepts you could have faith in, like the sun rising in the east. Do you remember playing with a compass, and watching the needle spin around to the "infallible" true north? Well it turns out that there has been a rapid movement of the Earth's North Magnetic Pole during the last century moving nearly 1,100 kilometers out into the Arctic Ocean. Apparently, as described in this post on the Science Blog this may be part of a normal oscillation. I guess Santa Claus must have some amazing navigation equipment on that big sled to cope with this, but the telecommunications up there must be hell! We can probably kiss the Northern Lights goodbye in a few years as well since they track the position of the magnetic North which at the moment is heading for Siberia.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Neurotic Blogger Syndromes

It's taken some time for me to realize that there are a fair number of web news aficionados, and other surfers who don't appreciate blogs or bloggers. For bloggers who are brave enough to sign up for a service like where you can submit links to your "best" posts you better have a thick skin, and apply a good dose of flame repellent. Digg started out as a site for technology news submitted by members. Those same stories are then voted on or "Dugg" by other members for their relevance and quality etc. Although the Digg site itself will accept non-technical stories, and others submitted by blogs, there is a vocal minority of Digg members who have little tolerance for such stories, and they will leave nasty comments such as "you worthless, shameless, spammer stop posting your lame stories, or Don't post blogs", or other comments that I won't repeat here etc. Part of this may relate to the fact that the minimum age to become a Digg member is thirteen, and of course the technology news purists may resent the infiltration of other links, but then they should take that up with Digg. Nevertheless, I continued to submit articles to Digg because even flaming feedback can sometimes get your writing juices flowing in a positive way. It's hard to believe that anyone could really believe that a blogger posting legitimate stories, and making a few cents from Google ads is a spammer. In that case I must rank as the most inept, ineffectual spammer on the Internet. That isn't a knock against Google, but a criticism of my own advertising power.

Anyway, all of that negative rhetoric made me start to question and doubt the blogging life, or god forbid the "blogosphere". Maybe bloggers are all just a bunch of self centered, indulgent, narcissistic and neurotic word crunchers who should get a life. Perhaps we actually have some kind of psychological disorder? Another fellow blogger MichaelM at Smoke and Mirrors started the ball rolling with his description of Blogger Compulsive Disorder. For you blog haters out there, and for others who have a sense of humor here is a further list of Blogger disorders:

If you post to your Blog too frequently, use expletives, and shoot from the hip on various topics you may be suffering from Blogger Impulsive Disorder.

If you are frequently appalled by the design, and content of other Blogs, and leave nasty comments on them here, and there you may have Blogger Repulsive Disorder. Of course you don't have to be a blogger to have this since many Digg members are also prone to this malady.

If you are constantly thinking about what to write, or post next on your Blog, and surf the web incessantly for topic ideas, or that neat piece of JavaScript to put in your template you may be afflicted with Blogger Compulsive Disorder.
(This affliction is characterized in much greater detail by MichaelM at Smoke and Mirrors with his hilarious description of "Blogger Compulsive Disorder". )

If you are a complete slave to maintaining your blog while it destroys your social life, and your hygiene is starting to suffer then you may have Blogger Addictive Disorder or BAD as described in detail by David Thompson at ShrinkWrapped.

Looks like some of us are BAD to the bone. Now I'll put my flame suit on as this story is going to Digg.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Matrix Exposed II

Recent scientific research indicates that the technology to create a Matrix scenario may become a reality. "Now, neuroscientists in the McGovern Institute at MIT have been able to decipher a part of the code involved in recognizing visual objects. Practically speaking, computer algorithms used in artificial vision systems might benefit from mimicking these newly uncovered codes". In theory a computerized machine will be able to stimulate the brain directly with coded signals, and create visual images. In another story here "Sony patent takes first step towards real-life Matrix". "IMAGINE movies and computer games in which you get to smell, taste and perhaps even feel things. That's the tantalizing prospect raised by a patent on a device for transmitting sensory data directly into the human brain - granted to none other than the entertainment giant Sony. The technique suggested in the patent is entirely non-invasive. It describes a device that fires pulses of ultrasound at the head to modify firing patterns in targeted parts of the brain, creating "sensory experiences" ranging from moving images to tastes and sounds. This could give blind or deaf people the chance to see or hear, the patent claims". This technique doesn't even require a direct connection to the cerebral cortex! Military interests are already exploring methods to "harness the power of the Matrix" so that mind bending Holodeck type training simulators can be made to mimic real life crisis situations. Presumably these would accurately depict the geographic and physical characteristics of the targeted environment...

Technology is coming at us like a freight train, and so concerns about mind control, and real, computerized, brain matrices are not unfounded. The research described also implies incredible potential to help people with medical problems relating to the senses, or brain function. The previous post generated some interesting comments, and discussion about the "matrix". These philosophical discussions can become circular bouts of naval gazing, even though trying to find meaning in our lives may be important. After beating this matrix analogy in to the ground where have I arrived? In my opinion spiritual awakening is highly individual, and transcends physical circumstances, and technological threats at some point. If we take the matrix metaphor too far, then we get mired down in cumbersome debate as to what constitutes a real world matrix. I believe the keys to our freedom lie within, and when we discover those keys the external world or "matrix" will change for the better. Many thanks to travel italy, Antonella, and euroyank for contributing to the discussions. There is a compelling philosophical discussion about the nature of truth seeking titled: In the Matrix, which pill would you take, the red or the blue?

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Matrix Exposed

Would you take the blue pill or the red pill? The Matrix movies are still relevant, but should we use them to justify our own biased views of reality and decide who is jacked in or who is unplugged? I assume most people reading this are familiar with the ideology behind the matrix movies. The main character Neo is intitially unaware that his idea of reality is actually the construct of machines, or a computer simulation called the "matrix" until he is forcefully awakened to the truth. The story is spun with a mix of high technology, violence, and religious themes that might be akin to Eastern mysticism. The movie trilogy itself is open to many interpretations, and the plot lines have been critiqued, and analyzed by many fans, and others not satisfied with the films ultimate conclusion. In a recent post the Martian Anthropologist uses the matrix analogy as a metaphor for the human condition whereby most of us are imprisoned by our own minds, and enslaved by working at jobs we hate while numbing ourselves with television, and alcohol. This is one Earthling who must beg to differ with the Martian...

In my opinion, the matrix films are visually stunning, and philosophically challenging, but they provoke more questions about the meaning of reality than they provide answers. Even if there is ultimately only "one" reality that is beyond the reach of our five senses, and imprisoned bodies, then by definition all human versions of reality are derivative, and therefore quite individual. The reality required for one person to function, and progress through life (consuming television, alcohol, heavy work, sex etc.) may be quite repugnant to another, but possibly a prerequisite for said person to achieve an ultimate, true reality for them. The movie itself does not necessarily imply that being unplugged from the matrix would be the best for all humanity, and it certainly suggests that being "unplugged" is not for the faint of heart.

Many of us would agree that the search for truth is important, and for some of us that could mean quitting lousy jobs, or turning off the television. For someone else, such as a poor immigrant, that very job may represent everything that gives them choice, freedom, and family sustenance in an uncaring world, even though they may actually hate the job itself. The television may have opened up unbelievable worlds of freedom, and beauty that they never had access to in the impoverished country of their origin. Go ahead down the rabbit hole if you dare, but don't be surprised if you find another burrow deeper in to linger at, while a few scurry by farther into the unknown. Perhaps many of us should ask ourselves what really is the matrix? Isn't it a little ironic that many of us are spending an inordinate amount of time (including the author as this post was penned) connected to the most pervasive, machine matrix on the planet, the so called World Wide Web? Wouldn't it be easier if we simply had a neural cable connected to our cerebral cortex that we could plug directly into a USB port while we surf and communicate (remember the suspended animation chambers in the movie)? The internet may be the real matrix that we all come to fear, (what year did SkyNet become active in the Terminator movie?) and while I say this with tongue planted firmly in cheek, those who aspire to find "freedom" by becoming professional web masters should take heed! It may be that until our souls no longer have any need to interact with this physical, earthly plane, then we are in a sense imprisoned within this realm no matter how we define our own reality, or someone else's. Yes, there may be lot wrong with the world, and perhaps there is a moral imperative for us to make it better, but I'm not sure that we can blame the "matrix", and our lack of will to fight it. You can achieve freedom, but then you will have to accept the responsibility, and strength of character it takes to keep it. Right now, I'm getting a little frightened of both the television, and internet matrices, so I think I'll plug into natures mosaic for a while, and go for a nice walk in the woods.

If you would like to explore some of the brilliant discussions, theories, and critiques relating to the movies see the Matrix explained. I look forward to further stimulating posts on this subject by the Martian Anthropologist, and one thing I think we would both agree on is the importance of trying to search for the truth, and reality of our own lives. See the The Matrix Exposed II for further insights including technological advances that anticipate a Matrix reality.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tomorrow Again

Tomorrow wake up with a smile.
Tomorrow help a friend.
Tomorrow make peace with an enemy.
Tomorrow hug someone you love.
Tomorrow be good to your body.
Tomorrow stay in the present.
Tomorrow discover something.
Tomorrow stay true to what you are.
Tomorrow is full of infinite possibilities.
Tomorrow is a Rainbow

Have a great Tomorrow,


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Interview with Satan

Seasons Under The Sun's senior reporter Beau recently tracked down that ragged, old soul hunter while he was on vacation in Paris. You may recall how he fanned the flames of social unrest, and violence that spread rampantly across the city not long ago. He made Beau cool his heels for two hours in the lobby of the Hotel Francois before deciding to grant him an interview in his lavishly appointed suite 1313...

You don't usually allow interviews with the press, or especially low level publishers like me do you Beelzebub?

Beelzebub? Beelzebub?? If you call me that again I'll roast your loins in hell fire! I'll be damned to know how some of these insulting nick names have stayed the test of time. I'm the King of Babylon, but you can call me Abaddon.

Abaddon... hmm... not really familiar with that one, but whatever you say Sir Abaddon. Now if you don't mind answering a few questions I'll forge ahead here.

Sure, why not? I've got a nice forging operation down below if you get my gist.

One burning question I know a lot of boomers would like to ask you. Were you responsible for that whole Rolling Stones, Hells Angels,
Altamont concert fiasco back in 69? Don Maclean seemed to implicate you in his song "American Pie".

Is that the best you can come up with? Some misguided, grungy, music event? At that time, Mr. Jagger came close to signing one of my no release contracts, so I almost paid him a visit, but he was just a dabbler in the black arts back then. He tried hard to ingratiate himself to me with that song "Sympathy for the Devil". It was kind of catchy I guess, but I far prefer the music in "Dante's Inferno". Actually, I sent a lesser minion there to stir things up, and shake the cage of all those free love hippies who seemed to think that nothing could go awry in the city of love. I still have to talk to those bikers about copyright infringement though. You can't use the word Hell just because you start a club, or some such nonsense!

Wasn't it kind of a petty event to mess with if you were so busy with wars and things?

I should blast you with brimstone breath you plebeian. I already told you I sent a minion, and I barely gave it my stamp of approval anyway.

Well I do have some more important questions for you Abaddon. In your opinion are we heading for the end of the World like the Bible says?

At least you're in the ball park with that one. I am hanging around this earthly plane a little more often right now because you could easily convince people that the end of the world is at nigh with all of this confusion. It's like a self fulfilling prophecy, so if I stick around and stir things up a bit mankind might just finish off the planet anyway without any help from Bible prophecies. I just make my presence known, do a few interviews, and eventually get a few more to sign on. Marketing is a powerful weapon you know, just ask Donald Trump.

That sounds pretty grandiose, but I am in no position to argue. I've heard some interesting theories floating around about the present U.S. Administration. Is someone in there really the Antichrist?

You're cutting it awfully close with that one Bozo, or Beau is it? You know as well as I do that there will be many false prophets, and besides any real Antichrist will have a lot more flair, and charisma than those boring, Texas oil barons. Don't you think I might assume that role myself?

I suppose you might have the qualifications. Do you have any other travel plans after Paris?

Events are kind of taking care of themselves in Iraq right now. North Korea looks interesting, and I hear the weather's good, but the food stinks. I think they might need a little pitch fork prodding to keep on with the whole Nuclear program there.

Exactly how do you get around when you assume earthly form?

Well in this day and age Lear jets are the only way to go. Do you think I'd tolerate that infernal airport security, delayed flights, and lousy airline grub? I don't have a lot of time to waste, while I'm laying things to waste so to speak.

One more thing here? Are you stilled ticked off at God for casting you out of heaven all those years ago?

I just knew you were going to ask that one. A few hundred years ago I would have smote thee to death for being so impudent, but to tell you the truth that whole falling out thing with him has led to some wonderful opportunities. Just look, I get to do interviews with geeks like you. Seriously though, since I left the "fold" I've almost maintained equal footing with him. I'm sure he often questions his so called wisdom in giving me the boot, and he's sure got his hands full right now. Anyway your time is up. I've got to finish up here, and get a move on. If you're interested in some lifestyle enhancement products I've got a nice contract here for you to sign before I leave.

Uh... no thanks. Well I did have a few more questions here Beelze... oops I mean Abaddon, but I can see you're a busy fellow. Is there any where you could be reached for a follow up story?

Just sign the contract, and you'll get all the stories you need.

Like I said, no thanks.

Alright then I'm off. You might want to stop by room 666 for a few delicacies if you have the time Beau.

Well actually I've got to take one of those airline flights you were referring to earlier. Thanks for the interview I guess?

As Beau finished speaking, the room instantly filled with thick, acrid smoke, and as it slowly waned he realized there was no else in the room. The slippery Devil was up to his old tricks again. Beau took the elevator to the lobby without stopping on the sixth floor, and he didn't look back.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Nothing Post

The problem I'm having here is somewhat pathetic, and embarassing, and no I'm not trying to mimic the old Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George try to hawk a TV show pilot for "A show about nothing". The problem is that despite all of the amazing things going on around me, and in the world right now I'm unable to follow through on any type of inspiration or spark to complete, and publish a post to this darn blog... Read On!

Now I can find any number of selfish excuses why this is the case (taking antibiotics, stubborn infection, working too hard, getting ticked off), but the simple answer may be that I have hit the first wall that separates the established bloggers from the also rans in the internet writing world. My initial enthusiam has slammed hard into the fist of DO YOU REALLY WANT TO WRITE WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND SOUL?, or is this just a whimsical little hobby that you will soon bypass for some beer, pretzels, and a good TV show, or something else that doesn't challenge the "stuff you're made of", as I believe writing conscientously does. Yes, this is a post about nothing, the nothing that is presently between my ears. It would be great to hear from others who have encountered writer's block in any of its tawdry forms, and overcome it. They may be able to inspire the rest of us still mired in the swamp of tired prose, weak analogies, dangling participles, poor sentence constructs, and generally uninspired writing. THE BLOG MUST GO ON!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Skipping Halloween

Thought I'd turn out the house lights tonight, and pretend no one's home, but I'll probably just stay in the dungeon, and come out occasionally to give the Halloweeners a scare. I won't even need a costume to do that. At least it's not a full moon, so I don't have to check for hair growing on my knuckles. In these days of the health conscious consumer you'd think that something other than candy would be handed out on Halloween, although I'm sure it makes a lot of dentists happy. Oh well, it's just once a year, and Halloween seems to be a waning practice anyway. By the way hoodlums, keep your eggs to yourself this year! It's really just a waste of a perfectly good egg.

Yours Truly,
Halloween Scrooge

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Best Internet or Blogging Experience

What would you consider to be your best experience while using the internet, or keeping a web log? Does it involve a personal connection, business success, or technology accomplishment? My best experience with blogging occurred recently when I stumbled across a blog called "Journey of the Spirit"... Read On!

I had done a search looking for blogs that have spirituality has a theme, and the title of this one intrigued me. There were only a few posts to read on the blog, but these were true gems. Her last post was dated June 22, 2005. The writing was very honest, expressive, and open like the voice of a true seeker. I decided to leave a comment on one post saying to the writer that I felt she had a very genuine voice, and to please keep writing and posting as in my opinion her fairly new blog showed great promise. A few days later this person sent a kind e-mail thanking me for my encouraging words. She then decided to write, and publish a post called "Words of Encouragement" to her blog. On reading this post I was overwhelmed, and humbled by her beautiful response. She is certainly a kindred spirit in the Internet world. I hope others take some time to visit her blog named Journey of the Spirit, and enjoy the honesty of her prose.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Psychic Events

I know that the word occult has a bad connotation with many people, and it does stir up some sinister associations especially amongst those who may have a conservative religious philosophy. However, in the spirit of being open-minded there are many definitions, and descriptions of paranormal activity that simply fall under the category of unexplained phenomena... Read On!

I don't pretend to be well read, or even knowledgeable in these matters, and can only speak from personal experience. While these experiences have been infrequent, and unexpected they did leave a strong impression at the time. The most powerful feeling or sense of a spirit world, or alternate reality occurred in my life at the time of my fathers death. The details of these events are too personal to discuss in a public forum, but I could say that there was a strong sense of benevolent spirituality that manifested itself intermittently over a few days. The primary theme was an absolute conviction in the belief of an after life, and one that held hope and promise. It wouldn't be unfair to suggest that these feelings might have had a psychological basis rooted in the despair of losing a loved one, except that they became manifest in certain physical realities that convinced me otherwise. Great mystical, and religious leaders have described visions and experiences of extrasensory events, so these ideas are not foreign to major religions. I am sure many readers have experienced phenomena that they found difficult to explain on the basis of five senses only. Precognition or the sense of knowing a future event is often reported, and may relate to something trivial ("I just knew that you were going to visit me today"). Of course basic probability calculations would suggest that sheer coincidence could account for many happenings deemed precognitive, and we likely forget the many times we felt something would happen yet nothing transpired. I believe that in this new century scientists, and others will start to unravel these mysteries, and even discover plausible mechanisms to explain paranormal events. We should not fear, or deride these investigations, as the search for truth shouldn't diminish or threaten your religious, and spiritual beliefs whatever they may be.

Disclaimer: The reference to Psychic in the post title does not constitute an endorsement by the author for any commercial, or other psychic services. I do not use such services, and readers should make an independent decision as to whether these services have any value to them.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blog Advertising

Do you hate seeing advertisements on Blogs? Do you think it is an affront to honest posting? Are some forms of advertising OK? Do you have advertising on your Blog? Would advertisements for other Blogs fall into the same category?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

StarBucked at StarBucks

This was the order (more or less) from a lady I stood behind at an ever cheery, Starbucks cafe. "I'll have a grande, double espresso, decaf, low fat, caramel macchiato, with extra foam, brewed at 180 degrees centigrade, topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a dollop of whipped cream."

Not only did she snap this order out like a drill sergeant, but repeated it again because the cashier didn't catch it all on the first run. After hearing it, the cashier didn't give the slightest hint of irritation, indignation, or surprise as she recited this lengthy order back for the brew master (is that the right term?). No offense to any finicky java drinkers out there, but have we become so bloody inundated with minutiae, and choices that even ordering a beverage becomes a complex, itemized, shopping list? Now don't get me wrong, the lady had every right to order whatever beverage Starbucks could whip up for her, and variety is the spice of life, but somehow this seemed a little over spiced to me. Not to mention the lengthy line of customers behind her. So much for my attempts at zen like patience and tolerance I guess.

I hate to admit it openly, but I like Starbucks espresso coffee drinks even though the prices might be called outrageous. On the other hand, there are the disappearing rain forests, and the poor under paid coffee farmers. So you see it is a guilty, ambiguous pleasure, and that creates a schizophrenic feeling as I enjoy my Starbucks brew. Somehow they have managed to develop a cult like clientele, and perhaps we need to be saved from their clutches by an intervention. Last night I had the scissors in position over my Starbucks card, but with coffee withdrawal taking hold and my hands shaking I just couldn't go through with it. One solution to save money and help the environment would be to buy organically grown coffees, and brew your own drinks at home, but somehow that's just not the same. Any coffee addiction treatment centers out there? Check out this page at The Aesthetic if you find yourself asking just
why do people hate Starbucks?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Howling at the Full Moon

"Fly me to the moon and let me sing among the stars... Let me see what life is like on Jupiter and Mars" "Blue moon, you saw me standing alone, without a dream in my heart" "Dancin' in the moonlight everybody feelin' warm, and right"
"I see a bad moon rising"...

That full moon is right out there now. I hope you can see it. Gaze at it for some time if you're able, slow your breathing down, meditate, a slight quiver runs down the spine, a little spooky that ol moonshine... That moon has witnessed many harsh lands and deeds, it's staring back at you, tempting you, enticing you. Mysterious and haunting, cold and unforgiving... you want to capture it, possess it... Read On!

Moon mythology permeates the culture. We speak of lycanthropy and vampirism as though there might be a ring of truth. We speak of more crime, aggression, suicide, disasters, accidents, sleep walking, supposedly all agitated by the full moon. Alas, the skeptics and science have dispelled these myths when analyzed by hard, cold evidence, and statistics, so the nurses, psychiatrists, and police should surely put their fears of the full moon to rest I suppose..., but just take another look out at that full moon, and try to convince yourself that it has absolutely no effect on human affairs or behavior. That old moon may still have some secrets for us after all.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Funky Wise Owl

"The wailing owl Screams solitary to the mournful moon." - David Mallet, Excursion

The Owl here was created with Adobe PhotoDeluxe software, and is a modified photo of a native soapstone carving purchased at the Cowichan Native Village in Duncan B.C. Unfortunately I do not have the carvers name. This will be my profile photo for now, as the Owl symbolizes many qualities in the spirit world (wisdom, mystery, knowledge, religious beliefs), and I hope any night Owls out there will appreciate it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Poll Update

Thanks to everyone who has voted in the best President poll so far. As of this post and time Bill Clinton has a significant lead followed by Ronald Reagan. Of course the voting sample is not statistically significant at this point, at least between the front runners. Why Bill Clinton?

Perhaps his attempts at addressing social reform left their mark, and the economy certainly thrived during his administration despite the ultimate market crash partly relating to the Internet/dotcom bubble popping. This may show that citizens will forgive personal and moral indiscretions far quicker than they will domestic or foreign policy gaffs of significant magnitude a la Bush. Bill could also play a pretty mean saxophone. Many Canadians also seemed to have an affinity for Clinton and vice versa, but I'm not sure what that means in the final analysis (personally my favorite President is Jimmy Carter because I think he was and is a great person, although I would confess to some ignorance regarding how well he rated as the Chief). I plan to keep the poll (in the prior post) open for at least a few more weeks to see if the early trends continue, and to establish more valid results. Of course the results might be different if the votes were restricted to U.S. internet addresses. Keep the votes coming in as I think the results might lead to some good discussions.

The following excerpt is from a discussion about a presentation called "Personality traits of U.S. Presidents" by Stephen J Rubenzer et al.

"It may come as no surprise that the research shows that most modern presidents are clearly extraverts. However, the data indicates that the early presidents scored below average on this factor. Does that mean that presidents are becoming more extraverted, or that the entire population has become more extraverted? The researchers say their data can't answer that question, but "given the increasing role of the media in presidential elections, the more plausible explanation is that the change is limited to the presidents and not the general population."

What makes a good President?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Best U.S. President

Do you have a favorite President? Do you think he was the best one in the last few decades? Let us know by voting below, and then view the up to date poll results. Please leave a comment if you would like to explain why your choice is the best. The current President might win an approval poll, but how does he stack up with recent Presidents?

Who would you rate as the best U.S. President?
George Bush Jr.
Bill Clinton
Ronald Reagan
George Bush Sr.
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Richard Nixon

Free polls from

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Coffee Cats

It's not much of a stretch to say that we are a coffee crazy society. Caffeine fuels the daily buzz of commerce, and you can't really be a tech geek without an espresso addiction. Have you ever seen a coffee withdrawal rage? It's truly a scary sight, often associated with bleeding from the nostrils and frothing at the mouth (non whipped), so buy your damn espresso drinks fast, and don't make others wait too long in the Starbucks line. If you do wait too long in line it's called getting Starbucked. There are more coffee varieties, blends, and brews made from the beloved beans than ever before along with innumerable cafes dotting the city landscapes. You can see three Starbucks cafes in the same city block and you have to wonder what the marketing strategy is, but who would argue with their success? Just check the history of their stock price, and annual revenues from across the world. Coffee drinking is truly a viral phenomenon, so of course there has to be a coffee out there that boggles the imagination in terms of origin and price.

There is one type of very rare, expensive coffee called Kopi Luwak that has some connoisseurs turning their heads. The next time you say that a cheap cup of java tastes like crap you probably won't be talking about Kopi Luwak, but actually that wouldn't be far from the truth. That's because Kopi Luwak is made from the digested, and excreted coffee beans deposited on the jungle floor by the Luwak, a small, "cat like", marsupial also known as the parodoxurus, or common palm civit resident in Indonesia. These animals climb the coffee trees, and eat only the ripest coffee cherries. In the process of digesting an outer shell the inner coffee bean remains intact, and apparently the enzymes in the civit's stomach add extra flavor to the bean through fermentation. The resulting coffee or "poopachino" purportedly has a heavy body, and a strong, musty (?something to do with anal gland secretions), caramel taste with a complex and unusual flavor. At prices of up to $300 U.S. per pound you probably won't see it on the shelves at your local grocery store any time soon, but a few commercial coffee shops are starting to take notice.

The Luwaks used to be considered a nuisance or pest in Indonesia, and that put their lives at risk, so perhaps coffee production has actually helped a species survive and thrive for once. It would seem that small treasures can be found in unusual places and under strange circumstances just like picking a few beans up off the jungle floor for a cup of java. There must be secret laboratories somewhere working feverishly to chemically duplicate the civit's natural fermentation process so that cheap, similar tasting, synthetic Luwak coffee can be brewed. Coming to a Starbucks near you!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Paris Hilton?

Alright. I have now made some forty odd posts on this barely born, blog trying to find its way. However, it is somewhat sad, comical, and ironic that an earlier, brief, silly post on Paris Hilton has generated the most comments for any one post on this Blog. I realize that how widely a post is read may not be reflected in the number of comments left, but so far the small sample here would indicate that controversy, fluff, and pop icons do create interest. I bow to the power of Paris, however I hope the majority of posts published here will stick to substance. Gotta leave the ego out of it.

Autumn and Hockey

In this part of the world the leaves are nearly off the trees, and there is a chill in the night air even after a pleasant fall day. Summer is becoming a distant memory, and students are busy trying to get their bearings after starting a new semester or grade. After a long hiatus and lock out based mainly on player/owner greed professional hockey is back in town. I thought the fans might show their frustration by sitting out a few games, but the first Oilers game was a sell out. On the other hand the presence of professional hockey in a smaller market such as Edmonton is a big economic boom for many businesses, and arguably important to the community in that sense. As for me, professional hockey is something I can do without, although I will continue to take my uncle to the odd game since hockey is steeped into his blood. My uncle played it, coached it, and lived through the glory days of hockey before sound bites, steroids, million dollar trades, and ridiculous ticket prices. Hockey is a great game, but you don't need to see the professional version of it to enjoy a great spectacle. There are great amateur games around, but even there the lure of future professional contracts has corrupted some of the action. There have been games where there are more fights between parents in the stands than players on the ice, coaches heaping abuse on their own or competing players, and referees attacked all in the name of competition. Heck, I think I'll stick to playing a little shinny in the alley with a few buddies!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Karaoke Krazy

Apparently there has been a recent upsurge in the sale of Karaoke machines across North America. It would seem that much of this is attributable to the ever popular American Idol television show, and that is likely true, but one can't overlook the availability of many new and cheap Karaoke machines of reasonable quality that make it easy to try your vocal skills. The new machines have better sound quality, and utilize a variety of media formats including graphic CDs, and DVDs that will display the song words on a built in monitor or television screen. Computers can be rigged up as Karaoke machines, and there are games such as Karaoke Revolution for PlayStation 2 that score a player based on their pitch, rhythm, and timing. So for those of us who only sing in the shower, and secretly believe they could perform well in public if given half a chance it may be time to give Karaoke a try. I tried it recently, and while belting out a particularly high note our cat looked at me wide eyed with ears back, and then shot out of the room in terror. Every ones a critic I guess. SUTS would like to hear about your adventures in Karaoke, and any tips for beginners would be great!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Anger Management II

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."
-Albert Camus

In keeping with the theme of the last post here are ten thoughts previously compiled by David A. Willson:

1. Accept that most things in the world are out of your control.
2. Accept that it is your choice to get angry about those things.
3. No one makes you angry.
4. Life is unfair. Waste no energy lamenting or trying to change that fact.
5. No one likes to be around an angry person. No one feels like helping an angry person.
6. So why be angry? Maybe you really don't want your problems solved. Maybe you just want to complain and wail and gnash your teeth.
7. Take stock of yourself. What do you want?
8. You should smile more. Your face won't break.
9. Anger is a weed; hate is the tree. -St. Augustine
10. Anger makes a rich man hated and a poor man scorned. -Thomas Fuller

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Pour a splash of Vodka, and a dash of Vermouth over ice in a chilled Martini glass, and drop a speared olive in. Find a nice reclining chair, and sit down. What were you worried about a moment ago? It doesn't matter now. Take a sip, close your eyes, take a deep breath, relax. You don't get fired every day, and for now you are free. Enjoy it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Paris Hilton

She may be a perfectly nice young woman in private, but haven't we all had enough of this ongoing, superficial, bullshit, media exposure of this jaded, indulgent, not so little, rich girl?

Hangover Cure List?

"How many Irish does it take to change a light bulb?
Twenty One. One to hold the bulb and twenty to drink until the room spins."

You wake up in the morning irritable, and depressed with a headache, and dry, gritty eyes. It's another freaking hangover on the weekend, and a miserable way to start the day. You might call it another variant of the weekend warrior syndrome if you never drink during the week. You get up, and look in the mirror then say "Alright you miserable sot this time you're going to kill this malaise, so let's see what's out there in hangover cure land." A few hours later, and a little research gives you some hope for salvaging the day...

Well, there is probably no such thing as a hangover "cure", but there are a few things that can alleviate the toxic symptoms we endure after a bout of drinking.

First a disclaimer: Although there is sporadic scientific evidence for some of the remedies suggested here it would be prudent to consult with the appropriate health care experts before adhering to some of these methods.

I will stake claim to one of the suggestions listed here, and that would be a proscription for some mild exercise after you've hydrated yourself. For me this works as good, or better than anything else, and yet I haven't seen it mentioned elsewhere.

Here is the Hangover busting list:

  • Drink lots of water before and after sleep (unless you are on
    medically proscribed fluid restriction). Sports drinks may
    be a good alternative as well since they contain sugars, needed minerals, and electrolytes such as potassium.
  • Take a shower or bath.
  • Ingest sweet foods that contain fructose (helps the body
    metabolize alcohol).
  • Do some mild exercise, or take a brisk walk (stimulates the
    circulation etc).
  • Vitamin B complex tablet (within recommended daily dose).
  • Cysteine (within recommended dose) as it counteracts
    acetaldehyde a toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism.
  • Vitamin C for its antioxidant effects.
  • Be wary of headache pills as some (acetaminophen), can
    increase the risk of liver damage in conjunction with alcohol,
    and some (ibuprofen, aspirin) can cause gastric irritation.
  • PRAY.

  • Here are tips on preventing a hangover:

  • Drink clear alcohol. Dark alcohol tends to contain a substance called cogeners, and these types of alcohols are more likely to cause hangover symptoms. White wine, vodkas, and light rum are examples of clear alcohols. Red wine, dark rum, sherry, and brandy are high in cogeners. Beer is somewhere in between.
  • Drink slowly, and have some food in your stomach. If you are a small person the same amount of alcohol will affect you more than it would someone larger.
  • Try to drink in moderation. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that women have no more than one drink per day and men no more than two drinks per day. One drink is defined as a 12-ounce bottle of beer; a 4-ounce glass of wine; or a 1 1/2-ounce shot of liquor.
  • Drink some water in between your alcohol containing drinks as that will decrease your alcohol consumption, and help prevent dehydration
  • Of course, hangovers can be prevented altogether if you avoid alcohol completely, but that's not for everyone either.

  • If you are concerned about alcohol abuse here is a list of complications that can occur with excess drinking.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Hybrid of computer and human generated prose

    Most of the words, grammar, and syntax in the following paragraph have been computer generated with a little human editing thrown in. This creates a kind of cyborg language that might stimulate many creative pathways in our writing endeavors whether they be fiction or non-fiction. It seems to demonstrate that communication can sometimes be effective even when conventional grammatical rules are not followed. There is a whole world of synthetic language out there, and with the advent of greater advances in artificial intelligence we are beginning to confront the implications of this. One day machine code might articulate our deepest emotions as the following paragraph hints at.


    Everything to know about Technological Impact on Everyday Lives. Sometimes I wonder if there is more to life than to struggle to be the best or to simply struggle to find oneself? Why am I talking about Technological Impact on Everyday Lives, you probably wonder?... Well, when the grass was still green, and the sky still blue I was totally into music. Lucky me, huh? In a nut-shell: But something wasn't right. I saw an image of the X-Files again and again . Which would be nothing special, but my eyes were opened to a new reality, and I began to hear the music again.

    If you would like to explore some of these ideas further one place to start would be the Blog-O-Matic site where you can obtain random, dynamically generated blog posts.

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Quote for Today

    "Hatred is our only true enemy. Hatred has no other purpose but to destroy us. Never give it the opportunity to conquer you. It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    Lost in the nether reaches of Cyberspace publishing

    This blog still needs to find a unique voice. At this point none of the posts are really connected to each other, although they might interest readers as individual articles. As a relatively new blog the site traffic, and comment numbers are quite low. The advertisements on this blog are really out of proportion to the readership numbers at this point, and I question the decision to stay with advertising on this blog. Blogging as a commercial enterprise is not really the point for me, and it should be secondary to the integrity of posts, but if the advertisements mainly reflect the content of posts then I think that is a fair, symbiotic relationship that adds value, and interest for the reader. I am committed to publishing a blog that has value, and interest for readers, and anticipate that the present seed blog will morph or mutate into a publication that is responsive to readers opinions and comments. I welcome all feedback both positive, and negative as this blog continues to grow. Please visit from time to time as the blog journey continues.

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    Buddha Jazz

    Here we see the Zen master named Jazz in a state of recline and absolute bliss contemplating the great nothingness of being. This image was taken within an hour of him sinking his fangs into my left thigh, because I insisted that his claws be gently trimmed against his will. He planned the ambush, and it occurred a few minutes after the trimming. Despite this willful attack I love him unconditionally :-).


    Next Blog

    I have now visited hundreds of other blogs in land using the next blog icon on the navigation bar while leaving a few comments here and there. It has been an interesting journey and I thought I'd share a few observations. It doesn't take long to notice that the original templates are radically altered on some blogs by masterful manipulation of the HTML code. This is often associated with a very artistic looking blog, and some fine art work. Unfortunately some of these blogs are difficult to decipher, and some are associated with annoying pop ups, malicious code, and even viruses (although they were detected, and cleaned by my anti-viral software). Some use an annoying fade in or fade out feature when you click Next Blog delaying your arrival at the next site. There is a whole subset of these blogs with cartoon characters, radically altered templates, and strange love sick messages strewn across the page (expressing myself as an aging boomer here). A lot of these blogs seem to be loaded with style, but lacking in substance. There are many heart felt, diary, like blogs about family, children, babies, jobs, and hobbies. A lot of these blogs seem real, and despite the sentimental ramblings in some they often make for good reading. The X-rated blogs were few and far between on my journey, and I was thankful for that. Unfortunately the spamming type blogs came up a little too frequently, and you'd think there would be better ways to sell something. Of course I found a few inspirational posts strewn along the way in my Blog journey, and as for my own blog, let's just say that it's a work in progress.

    Thursday, September 08, 2005


    Anyone who has visited this blog before may have noticed a few color changes. I have been playing around with the template code to try and improve the color scheme. I don't think I quite have it yet. Any suggestions?

    North to Alaska

    This will be one of my last posts for at least a week as I will be heading to Alaska this weekend. My wife and I are finally going on an Alaskan cruise, something we have wanted to do for years. Alaska seems like a magnificent, mysterious place with amazing vistas, and wild life relatively untouched by modern civilization, but who can forget the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the political wrangles over Alaskan resources enviously eyed by the southern states. There is really no such thing as virgin wilderness anymore, although some of the preserved Alaskan parks likely come close. Speaking as a Canadian there is one unforgettable, compelling, historic link between Alaska and Canada. This would be the gold rush, and the treacherous Chilkoot trail traversed by thousands in search of riches, many of whom died attempting to reach the Yukon. Stretching from Skagway, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon traversing the Chilkoot trail required incredible fortitude and stamina.
    The trail is symbolic of what humans will attempt in an effort to find a better life. Perhaps we can all reflect on whether we have put full effort into our attempts at succeeding in life, especially when the chips are down.

    Packing up Chilkoot Pass

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    The Wonderful Art of Heather Keenan

    Heather Keenan is a superb artist who lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She is a well known artist in the city who has participated in many galleries, and art shows in additon to having many published art works. Her art forms are diverse, but always reflect a sensitive, symbolic, and spiritual kind of ideal. Such words can't fully express the depth she often reaches in her paintings. I have seen the same person spontaneously laugh, and cry while viewing one of her works as they often have a strong emotional impact. To my knowledge, her art has never been influenced by commercial pressures, and she remains true to her own voice. She has worked quietly in the Vancouver Island art community for years, and it is time for the rest of the world to become aware of this wonderful artist and person.

    If you would like to see a sample of her work, or arrange to see her art in person please go to Heather Keenan

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005


    My apologies to those fellow bloggers or internet surfers who leave legitimate comments, but in an effort to control comment spam I have activated the verification function. Using verification for comments feels somewhat presumptuous to me at this stage as I don't want to discourage anyone from leaving a comment, but such is life.

    Katrina and the Pundits

    It's been gut wrenching enough for most of us to see the terrible saga of Katrina unfold, but now as with most disasters of this magnitude where mistakes are made we all have to endure the political posturing and finger pointing in the aftermath. "This agency was inept, that public official was incompetent, the President was caught off guard, the Feds didn't work well with State and local officials, it's all part of a racially motivated right wing, conspiracy, it's a legacy of prior left leaning democratic administrations, and so on ad nauseum".

    People! Let's leave the name calling, and head bashing alone for now. Just put all your efforts into providing positive aid for the gulf region no matter what side of the fence you are on. The spirit of cooperation is a powerful force if we can put aside our petty greivances. America can show the world that despite some initial difficulties it can mobilize resources after a disaster like no other country on earth. For this to happen though teamwork and effort will be required by all, not petty squabbling to provide more fodder for the always waiting media hounds.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Original Labor Day

    Can't Sleep. Just prior to writing this post my wife and I were awakened at 12:30 AM by someone claiming to be from the gas company. Through our phone intercom he said there was a service disruption in the neighborhood, and requested access to our residence. Being the somewhat typical, wary city dweller I declined to open the door, and he said that someone would return in the AM. I then proceeded downstairs and attempted to light a burner on our gas cooktop, and sure enough no gas! Arrgghh! I suppose I should have let the poor fellow in, so he could check the gas appliances, and ensure our safety. This got me thinking about Labor Day, and all of the hard working people across the globe, many of whom provide some kind of 24/7 service. To most of us Labor Day is a last chance long weekend to pursue leisure, and summer activities prior to returning to school or work. I have never really reflected upon a deeper significance for Labor Day.

    In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."

    So this Labor Day as you water ski at the lake, cycle down the coast, sip a mint julep, or watch a sports event on TV, take a moment to consider those often unrecognized workers who labor diligently to support their families, help society, and make the world a better place. That person might even be you, or the man from the gas company in the middle of the night.

    Have a great Labor Day everyone!

    Statue of the Laborer

    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Humanitarian Aid for Victims of Hurricane Katrina

    I doubt if most of us can really imagine the reality of a large city completely flooded by the surge of a killer hurricane. One of the most historic cities in North America, and other beautiful gulf coast areas are now part of an unprecedented disaster that will take years to recover from. At this moment there are still many people stranded, and needing to be rescued. There are widespread power outages, a lack of drinkable water, food shortages, and the threat of imminent disease outbreak. Families have been wrenched apart, and there is tremendous suffering. Please find it in your heart to provide assistance to these unfortunate victims in any way that you can.

    The American Red Cross is one organization to consider for any donations, but there are many other worthy contributions as well.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    Forty Year Old Virgin

    The title of this movie suggests that there might be something unique or unusual about someone being a forty year old virgin. Now I can't say that I definitely know any male virgins who are forty or older, but I suspect that their numbers are greater than one might think. There are more than a few male bachelors who reach their forties without tying the proverbial knot, and surely some of them are still virgins. The movie itself, despite some good laughs, suggests that anyone who is still a virgin at forty is more than a little quirky and eccentric. Wait a minute! When you stop and think for a moment about some of the bad scenarios associated with sexual activity such as disease, unwanted pregnancy, impotency, awkward morning exits, addiction, and self esteem issues, then maybe abstinence isn't such an odd idea. It's too late for most of us, but if you happen to know a forty year old male virgin just leave the poor guy alone! He's probably a priest anyway.

    For those of you who might be interested in pursuing some information on abstinence, there is help out there. A word of advice though. Never, ever, ever have your chest hair waxed and removed.

    , ,

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Blog Rant

    OK. I admit it. I need help. This blogging thing is beginning to tick me off. Having the patience of a gnat doesn't help as I wait for the comments and page clicks to roll in. I don't want to admit that I am a newbie. These posts are all over the place I know. So come on! Somebody out there in Blog land help me. Please! I will humbly consider any advice. Leave a comment or two. Post to my blog if that is possible. Leave me a link to your blog. I'll go there I promise. Let's do reciprocal blog rolls (sounds kinky). God forbid I might even learn the mighty HTML code. I am getting desperate for contact. I didn't think isolation, and desolation existed on the web, but here it is on my own damn *%%!#%* blog site. Fellow bloggers have mercy, and leave me a sign that someone is out there. I know, suck it up, stop wallowing in self pity, take action. I will, I really will, but pleeeeeeaaaaaaaaaase heeeeellllllppppppp now!

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    The New Top Gun

    Coming soon to a theater near you!

    See the incredible aerial stunts!

    It's the cinematic release of ...


    Directed by T. Cruise
    Starring T. Cruise
    Produced by Oprah