Sunday, January 30, 2011

Streams of consciousness. Not quite moments of clarity.

I have been accused of having a stream of consciousness style of writing, and I admit to it. Indeed, whether I am writing fiction or nonfiction or blithely back and forth, I am seldom fully conscious. I don't know how to write any other way than to just shake my brain up and dump my thoughts out on paper (or the html equivalent of paper) in whatever sequence those thoughts might make an appearance. Many famous and even rich writers have written in this style, though I am proof it is not the style itself, apparently, which makes writers rich and famous. There is probably more to it.

Agamemnon to Odysseus: "As I lay dying, the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyelids for me as I descended into Hades."

William Faulkner wrote often in the manner of stream of consciousness (spewing the rantings of his characters' often-disjointed interior monologues) and he didn't do too badly. Nor did Thomas Wolfe and others. Only Relax Max seems to be doing badly at it.

To begin with, they had promised Addie they would carry out her wish to be buried in Jefferson.

Anse is the father of all of Addie's children, save Jewel, who, of course, was the product of Addie's extramarital relationship with her preacher, Rev. Whitfield.

Rachel (Sampson's wife) can hardly hide her disgust; she is all indignant at the way they seem to be disrespecting Addie by dragging her coffin all over the place. But, in order to get to Jefferson from here, one must... travel... there with the coffin. You see.

The late professor Robert Fagles' translation of that passage of the Odyssey: "But she, that whore, she turned her back on me, well on my way to Death - she even lacked the heart to seal my eyes with her hand or close my jaws."

Relax Max can't help but humbly disagree. To him, Homer's Odyssean waters are never THAT shallow: why can't the woman be exactly what Agamemnon says her to be? Why can she not simply have large sad, loving, eyes? - a woman who just can't bear to see her lover die, can't stand to see his life slip away; willing, even, to try to stand between her love and Charon? As if not closing his eyes or binding his jaw will somehow deny Hades? Why does her lack of action have to be callous? Why does EVERYTHING have to be an allegory?

Opinion: Copyright shortcomings

In the United States, before the Copyright Act of 1976 (which became effective January 1, 1978) was passed, those who published their writings and drawings and photographs were still acting under the rules of the previous Act, the Copyright Act of 1909. Since 1978, copyright is assumed to exist from the moment of creation - the moment the thoughts in your mind become materialized in the physical word. On paper. Whatever. This without the requirement of registration or publication, though you might be wise to still do one or the other.

Under the old Act of 1909, the author was given a copyright for a period of 28 years. Back then, one usually registered their work with the government to establish the date of copyright, but the act of publishing the work could also be used as to establish the date of copyright. Thus, under the 1909 Copyright Act, the date when the 28 years started was either the date of registration of the work, or the date of first publication, whichever was earlier.

Under the 1909 Act, the copyright could be extended, if desired, for a second 28-year term. This extension was by formal application, which had to be made sometime during the 28th year of the initial copyright period. Following the first 28-year period, if the copyright wasn't renewed, or following the second 28-year period, if the copyright WAS renewed, the material then fell into the public domain. Some entities, such as the U.S. Government, were not eligible to obtain copyright (and still aren't) but the above information is what normal authors, artists, and photographers (and songwriters, etc.) were covered under.

This blogger has no argument with the 1909 law, as 56 years of protection are plenty if the author is serious about making an effort to reap the benefits of his work. This blogger, despite being the creator of some intellectual property, is NOT in agreement with the current copyright law in the United States (and most of the rest of the world) because I believe current copyright terms of "life plus 70 years" (or even longer in some cases - up to well over 100 years) defeats the second purpose of copyright in our constitution. That is, copyright and patents were to be authorized by the government in order to encourage arts and invention by giving the creator a monopoly on their sale for a LIMITED amount of time.

The current excessive limits make a mockery of that intention. It also defeats, as I say, the second intention, which was to encourage further innovation and invention and art by others, after that REASONABLE time had expired. Placing the work into the public domain so others could feed off it and use it to make ever better things of their own, was the original intention. Today, invention is largely stagnated in the U.S., I assert, and largely because we are no longer allowed to build upon the inventions and techniques and information of the past after a reasonable waiting period gift to the original creator. Big drug companies with on-staff legal departments seem to be able to live with the law the way it is, but not the common folk.

The perhaps well-intentioned, though shortsighted and misguided, efforts of the late Congressman Sonny Bono (D-CA) in successfully getting amendments passed to the 1976 Copyright Act, has made a tangled jungle out of a copyright system that should be straightforward and crystal clear. In my opinion, it has gone a long way to stifle American innovation and art due to creating what is, in effect, a permanent monopoly. After "life plus 70 years" who the hell cares? The work is no longer timely or even useful for other people to build upon it.

For what it's worth (and it isn't really worth too much) the U.S. Copyright Office says:

"Applying these standards [of the 1909 Act], all works published in the United States before January 1, 1923 are in the public domain." Woop-de-do.

At any rate, don't let predators claiming copyright on materials before that date intimidate you from freely using the materials they bald-facedly and illegally assert copyright over. Go ahead and publish those beautiful Grimms Fairy Tales illustrations to your heart's content (if they are in books published before 1923), and charge money for them if you wish. Just don't claim copyright on them.

And if you get contacted by a museum or some alleged representative of the "Copyright Holder", tell them to get the best lawyer they can find and come ahead on. These people are predators. Taking pictures of old photos and paintings is settled law: it is not original enough to let them copyright their copies. [Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp., 1999.]

The income from derivative works must be shared with the copyright holder. Parts of copyrighted works cannot be used in your derivative work without permission from the copyright holder of that original work. If it has fallen into the public domain, the the original creator no longer has to be consulted.

1. I am not a lawyer
2. I am not YOUR lawyer
3. I advise you to read the copyright law and test cases thereto

Friday, January 28, 2011

Here's the beef

Chart of retail beef cuts. Click to enlarge chart. Then click it again to make it big enough to read. No, I don't know why.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Octane - don't knock it

In this post, I am only talking about internal combustion, 4-stroke, gasoline-fueled engines.

In the early days of gasoline engines, they discovered two things right away.

1. The first engines knocked like crazy.
2. If you compress the fuel mixture before igniting it, you got more power.

Engines "knock" or "ping" when the fuel ignites before it is supposed to.

One of the strokes of a 4-stroke engine compresses the fuel-air mixture (by design.)

The problem of knocking (pre-ignition) had to be solved. Experiments with various fuels showed that heptane couldn't be compressed very much before it exploded on its own, but octane could be compressed a lot (relatively speaking) without making it ignite on its own.

One doesn't want to use pure octane, for cost reasons, and further experiments showed it could be combined with other fuels and still be compressed sufficiently. Today's low compression (8:1, for example) engines can run on about 87% octane and 13% something else. Heptane. Ethanol. Cheeseburgers. Maybe not cheeseburgers.

Cars with higher performance engines (some Cadillacs, Corvettes, etc.) which put out more power (and are therefore usually higher compression) require a higher octane-rated fuel to not knock (pre-ignite the fuel.) Knocking not only makes your engine have less power, it can damage your engine.

Many "muscle cars" of the 1960s and early 1970s compressed the fuel mixture to over 12:1. Zowie. 95 octane, please.
Octane is tested in the laboratory to arrive at a theoretical performance level, a test known as RON (Research Octane Number.) It is also tested under real life conditions - which show how a fuel behaves under a real load - with a test called MON (Motor Octane Number.) Then an average of the two is taken. The octane rating of the fuel thus tested is arrived at, as the gas pump at your favorite filling station will attest, by the above method, abbreviated (R+M)/2. There are underground tanks which separately hold each level of octane, and the hoses on the gas pump are fed by the proper tank. If the gasoline delivery truck driver hasn't been drinking.
We are not going to go into fuel additives, except for talking a little bit about lead, below. Sorry.

Early on, scientists discovered a second way to get more "free" power out of a gasoline engine besides compressing the air-fuel mixture before igniting it with a spark plug. That second thing was adding a substance called tetraethyl lead to the fuel. And so this was added to all gasoline. Unfortunately, after decades of doing this, a thin layer of lead covered planet earth. Lead is not particularly healthful to flowers, humans, and other living things. By the 1970s, leaded fuel had been outlawed in the U.S. There are only a handful of asshole countries in the world that still put lead in their gasoline, though some deny it. Here is the current list of countries the CIA says still allow leaded gasoline to be used. I want to "out" them here, for all the good it will do.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
North Korea
(Source: Central Intelligence Agency, 2008)


Q. My car's user manual says it runs on unleaded regular gasoline. If I put premium unleaded instead, will it hurt my car's engine?

A. No. Why would it? You'll just waste money.

Q. Will I get more power if I use Premium fuel in my car that is supposed to use regular fuel?

A. No. Your little car isn't going to compress it any more than it did with regular gasoline. It can't.

Q. Is it ok to use regular gas in my car that is supposed to use premium gasoline?

A. No. You must use premium, if that's what your owner's manual says. Otherwise, your engine will knock. Do you remember why? Then why did you ask this question?

Q. Should I add lead to my gasoline?

A. Only if
1. You don't care about air pollution and killing things
2. Only if you have a desire to completely destroy your expensive catalytic converter in under five minutes.

There's that word catalytic again.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Getting at the Gasoline, part four

Gasoline is not really a single substance that suddenly appears, ready-to-use in your car, as one of the things obtained from the fractional distillation of crude oil. It is, rather, a mixture of some of those things. Moreover, the components found in “gasoline” have been processed further, following that distillation.

To understand this, you should know that the term “gasoline” is really an old trade name for a mixture of fuels that car engines would run on. Back in the old days, it was all the rage to name products with made-up words that ended in “line” like Vasoline and Gas-o-line. Chuck Berry had a hit with “May-bo-lene” but that isn’t the same thing. Anyway, the “trademark” wasn’t really enforced, and the word gasoline became a generic term. The word gasoline isn’t really used much outside North America, anyway.

So, what are those things that are mixed to make this substance called gasoline? The short answer, chemically-speaking, is that it is made up of various hydrocarbons, specifically those distillates which have carbon chains between 4 and 12 carbons. I didn’t want to digress into such a technical discussion of the subject (even though I do understand it a little) because... well, because you are not likely to read it. But some sort of overview is necessary, so here goes:

The stuff contained in crude oil are hydrocarbons. That is, they are made up of combinations of the chemical elements called hydrogen and carbon. In the types of hyrocarbons we are speaking of, the carbon atoms are arranged all in a line (called a chain) with the hydrogen atoms bonded (by electrons) to the carbon atoms. The name of the chemical substance depends upon the number of carbon atoms in the “carbon chain” of that substance. The carbon chains can be quite long but here are the first 10:

1 carbon = methane

2 carbons = ethane

3 carbons = propane

4 carbons = butane

5 carbons = pentane

6 carbons = hexane

7 carbons = heptane

8 carbons = octane

9 carbons = nonane

10 carbons = decane

A drawing of methane, showing the electron bonds simply as lines would look like this:

A drawing of octane would look like the picture at the top of this post.

The lightest fraction that you get when you distill crude oil, is methane. Methane, with only one carbon atom, has the lowest boiling temperature and so it rises clear to the top of the tower before it is cooled enough to become a liquid again. The boiling temperature of methane and the other petroleum gases (up to 4 carbons) is so low it is hard to keep it liquid on a very hot day. That’s why the propane for your barbecue is sold under pressure to keep it liquified (Liquified Petroleum Gas, or LPG) and that’s why the tank has a safety valve so the gas can escape if the tank gets too hot or too bounced around. Otherwise, the tank would explode.

At the other end of the spectrum are the solids at the bottom of the tower, such as paraffin and tar. Things like these have the highest boiling temperatures - over a thousand degrees F. - and have really long chains of 70 or more carbons. I’m not going to get into “aromatics” here in this post. Just leave your mental image of this set on long straight chains.

In addition to mixing up some of the components that are distilled from crude oil and making gasoline from them, it is also possible to break up the chains of some of the longer chained hydrocarbons and use the resulting parts - shorter chains - to make more gasoline rather than just be satisfied with the amount of gasoline you normally get out of a barrel of crude oil (about 40% of crude oil is gasoline.)

A “catalyst” is some substance which acts to facilitate a chemical reaction. Facilitate usually means “to speed up” the process. Catalysts themselves don’t undergo any permanent chemical change. They only help the chemical change along or make it occur in the first place. Your body, for example, makes specialized enzymes which act as catalysts to speed up the digestion (breakdown of long/complex chemical chains) of some foods.

When long hydrocarbon chains are broken into smaller chains, this is known as “cracking” the chains. When a catalyst is applied for the purpose of speeding up the breakdown process, the procedure is called “cat cracking." Much of the work that goes on at an oil refinery, post-distillation, is concerned with squeezing more gasoline out of a barrel of oil - cat cracking longer-chained components down so they can be combined to make more gasoline. (Or diesel, or jet fuel, or whatever the market is currently demanding more of.)

Next: Why octane? - don’t knock it!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Getting at the gasoline, part three

Crude oil contains many components, all of them useful. Gasoline is one of those things. These wonderful things are separated from each other by heating the crude oil to the various boiling temperatures of the components, then recovering them by cooling the vapors back to liquid state and collecting those new liquids.

Some of the components are very liquid, some are thicker, some are almost solid, or actually solid. The crud ones that are solid/almost solid require the highest boiling temperature to boil them.

Below is a list of the components of crude oil and show their boiling temperatures. Somewhere in this discussion I should work in an explanation of carbon chains, but I'm not going to do that right now. Here is a list (heavy on the bottom and the light stuff on the top.) Click to enlarge the chart:

You have most likely passed by an oil refinery and noticed the tall distilling towers. Basically, the crude oil supply is piped into the bottom of those towers up to a certain height and then heated (usually by steam). The bottom is hottest and so the lighter parts "boil" off and the vapors go upwards, of course. As the vapors get higher and higher in the tower, they get cooler and cooler since they are farther from the heat source at the bottom. When the various vapors get high enough (cool enough) they turn back into liquids. The various liquids are collected into trays at the various heights and drawn off out of the tower and piped to separate containers/holding tanks. One for gasoline. One for Diesel. One for kerosene. One for motor oil. And so forth. The "trays" at the various heights all have perforations ("bubble caps" like a soda pop bottle with a loose cap?) in them so the lighter components which are still vapor can keep going up higher into the tower until they too cool enough to liquify. Each catch tray is located at the height in the tower that is at the right temperature. See?

I will put up another picture to show this better. But the main thing to remember is that the entire crude oil is being boiled at the bottom of the tower and that means everything but the very heaviest components boil off and rise up the tower. When they cool enough to pass back through their boiling temperature, they liquify again, at different heights in that distilling tower. So thats how crude oil gets separated into the various parts we use for many different things.

Oil refinery distillation towers (columns) and holding tanks

You can go here to see an animation of the distillation process. (Go to the link and then scroll down toward the bottom of the page to see the flash animation.) Please do go look, because it will give you a much better understanding of the process than I can describe in words here. This is located at a very interesting site called "How Stuff Works". If you have an interest in more details of how crude oil is refined, stay on that site and read for hours! I can't tell you how much I like that website or how highly I commend it to you.

Do you know what octane is? Do you know what "Cat Cracked" means? If you visit this space tomorrow, you will know these things and even more!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting at the gasoline, part two

Fractional distillation is a process that separates the individual components of a chemical mixture, by heating the mixture to the various boiling points of the components.

Gasoline is extracted from crude oil (petroleum) by fractional distillation.

If you have 5 gallons of water and a bottle of whiskey, it is easy to combine those chemicals: simply dump the whiskey into the water and stir.

But how do you get the alcohol back out again? Not quite so easy.

Not very hard either: simply heat the water until it is above the boiling point of the alcohol (174 degrees F.) and collect the alcohol vapor as it rises off the top of the mixture. Then, run the alcohol vapor through a tube whose other end is hanging over an empty contatiner, and BOOM! the alcohol will cool back to a liquid in the tube (assuming you made the tube long enough) and the liquid will drip into the empty container. The water will remain in the first container, since you didn't heat it enough for water to boil (212 degrees F.)

Actually, there is no BOOM! when this happens. I just threw that in there.

Neglecting little real-life details, such as you are unlikely to get all the alcohol out of the water the first go-around, that's basically how fractional distillation works.

Want a more practical example? OK:

1. Put some (human edible) carbohydrate into a kettle and add some water and yeast and mix it up. Put an airtight lid on the kettle. Run some coiled copper tubing from the airtight lid up to the ceiling and down the wall so the other end of the tube is hanging over an empty catch container. Put a little on-off valve in the copper tubing as it comes out of the kettle lid. Turn the valve to the "off" position.

2. Wait for about 2 weeks so your mix (let's call it "mash" or "wash") can ferment.

3. At the end of the 2 weeks, come back and turn the little valve in the copper tubing to "on" so the vapor can escape out of the kettle and build a fire under the kettle. Slowly heat the mixture. Not too hot. Hot enough. 174 degrees F. If you really do this, you will want to rig up a thermometer so you can see how hot it is inside the kettle.

4. Put the liquid that drips out of the other end of the copper tube into bottles. Or jugs.

5. Don't light a match while you put it in bottles.

This is fractional distillation. Alcohol (ethanol) is created by the action of your mash mixture fermenting, and heating the mixture separates the alcohol from the water and goop, as described at the top of this post.

Caveat: make sure the carbohydrate you use is edible by humans. Corn. Rye. Potato peelings. Cactus (agave.) ApplesPeachesPlumsCherriesBerriesPears. Molasses. Grapes. Sugar water. Like that.

Important: make sure your carbohydrate is clean and pure and edible by humans. Don't drink the stuff we talked about yesterday which was made by wood pyrolysis (destructive distillation.) That is methanol. Methyl alcohol. Wood alcohol. OK? Wood alcohol will make you drunk, but it will also make you blind. Stick to corn and other grains. Ethanol is the name of the alcohol you want to produce in this example. Not only can you get drunk on it, you can also burn it in your car (and probably already are). Unless you drive a diesel car.

We are sneaking up slowly on how we "make" gasoline. (Tomorrow)


1. Don't do this.
2. Remember that pressure cookers can explode if they are not vented. An on-off valve is needed.
3. Remember that alcohol which is not still mixed with water is flamable.
4. Ethanol is made from EDIBLE carbohydrate. Clean. Not rotten. Pure.
5. It is not legal (in the U.S.) to distill spirits. It is especially not legal to sell the bounty of your mash. Unless you get a permit to do so from the government and put tax stamps on all your bottles. Good luck with that permit.
6. You CAN make up to 100 gallons of wine and 100 gallons of beer per person per household for personal consumption. You still can't sell it.
7. If you filter the fermented goop and drink the liquid (without distilling it) it is called wine. Or beer, if you use malt and add hops, I guess. But that has nothing to do with fractional distillation, so I don't know why I told you that.
8. Don't do this.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting at the gasoline, part one

Distillation is a chemical process that separates a substance into it's constituent chemical components.

Generally, there are two methods of doing this, depending upon the nature of the substance being broken down: "destructive distillation" and "fractional distillation".

Destructive distillation is done when solids need to be deconstructed for their individual contents. For example, if you heat wood in a closed container without oxygen present, then you can collect the methane gas that is given off. The wood is forever changed, though, and becomes charcoal.

Most of us are more familiar with the other process, called "fractional distillation" which is used mainly to separate liquids. Fractional distillation is possible because various liquids boil at different temperatures.

A person who makes whiskey back in the woods is using the chemical principle of fractional distillation. He is after only one chemical - ethanol - so he doesn't need to have apparatus that is too precise with regards to temperature, as long as his fire is just hot enough to boil off the alcohol in his mixture.

Usually fractional distillation is more precise than that, and great attention is paid to the various boiling temperatures of the components that make up the substance being distilled. Perhaps the most common example is the fractional distillation (refining) of crude oil.

We will take a closer look at the process of fractional distillation next time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


[Note: "Mugs" is a reprint from a recent WayHarsh post]

WHO IS BILL AYERS? (For those of you whose memories started after the 1970s)

1. Bill Ayers is a distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois - Chicago.

2. Bill Ayers was a member of the radical Weather Underground which claimed responsibility for terrorist bombings in the U.S. between 1970 and 1974. One of the Pentagon.

3. They ran. They hid. They made the FBI's most wanted list.

4. The FBI infiltrated the organization and the ringleaders were captured and brought to trial. Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were standing trial when...

4. The case was dismissed in progress for "prosecutorial misconduct." Bill Ayers, his now-wife Bernadine Dohrn, and others escaped life imprisonment.

Today, Bernadine Dohrn is an associate professor of law at Northwestern University. She and her husband Bill Ayers live in Chicago.

Notable quotes:

Bernadine Dohrn, congratulating Charles Manson after the Tate/LaBianca murders...

"Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in pig Tate's belly (sic). Wild!"

"Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson!"

Here's a picture of professor Bill Ayers standing on the American flag.

In an interview with the NY Times, published a few days after 9/11, this wonderful being said: "I don't regret setting bombs." And, "I feel we didn't do enough."


In the mid 1990s, a Chicago advocate for the poor, a "community organizer" by the name of Barrack Obama decided to launch a political career at the state level. That campaign was launched with a fund-raiser in the home of Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. Both Obama and Ayers were board members on a Chicago anti-poverty organization together for three years. Obama and Ayers lived within a few blocks of each other. They appeared together. Ayers donated to Obama's state senatorial campaign. ($200.)

Obama knew Bill Ayers, and it was not a passing relationship. Obama KNOWS Bill Ayers.

Obama says he shouldn't be held to account or associated with something that happened when he was 8 years old, that Bill Ayers has never been convicted of the bombings.

A police officer was killed in one of those bombings, in San Francisco. People were injured in campus bombings by the Weathermen.

The far left Liberal establishment cries foul: a person should not be "guilty by association" because it just isn't fair.

I beg to differ. Maybe your parents chose what people you could have as friends and who they wanted you to stay away from. There was a reason. I believe a man's character determines how he will act in a crisis, and what his core values are. I believe who he chooses to hang out with DOES reflect on his ability to be our President.

Obama didn't set off any bombs or kill anyone. Obama is not a terrorist. But he doesn't think he's doing anything morally wrong by hanging around with these people and hiring a bunch of tax cheats for his Cabinet. That bothers me.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ridding the world of crazies and Arizona

Analyzing the facts to solve the problem methodically and dispassionately like Sherlock Holmes would do.

1. There was a shooting incident in the USA recently.

2. There have been many shooting incidents in the USA over the years.

3. Almost always in these cases the shooter is deranged, or is a social misfit in some aspect or other.

4. The recent shooting took place in Arizona.

5. The recent shooting took place in Tucson.

6. The recent shooting took place in an urban shopping area.

7. The recent shooting involved a minor political meeting where a congresswoman was intending to interact with her constituents and receive their comments and input.

8. There was a large grocery store near where the shooting occured.

9. There was a large pharmacy near where the shooting occured.

10. The shooter arrived in an automobile.

11. The shooter had a handgun.

12. The shooter had ammunition for his handgun.

13. The shooter knew how to fire his handgun.

14. The handgun was capable of firing a large number of bullets before having to be reloaded.

15. Old people were shot and killed.

16. Young adults were shot and killed.

17. A child was shot and killed.

18. Sometimes these types of shootings take place on college campuses.

19. Sometimes these types of shootings take place in high schools.

20. Sometimes these types of shootings take place on the grounds of elementary schools.

21. Sometimes these types of shootings take place where the shooter used to be employed.

22. Sometimes the shooter is young.

23. The shooter in the most recent case had parents and lived in their home.

What other facts and potential clues can you think of?

What things can we deduce from the clues? What action needs to be taken in order to prevent public shootings from happening again in the future?

I know the followers of this blog pretty well, so certainly the most obvious remedy they would most likely suggest would be to make it illegal for private citizens to have guns in the U.S.

But what other things should we do, based on the other facts we’ve uncovered?

1. All people should, at the very least, be given psychological testing at least every three years. (Crazy people do more than just fire guns in crowds.) One would be issued a “not crazy” stamp on his driver’s license. Definition of "not crazy" would be set by a committee consisting of Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, and James Carville.

2. All schoolchildren would be moniored to make sure they weren’t loners or being bullied. Or at least not allowed to wear black to school.

3. Arizona obviously needs to just be ceded to Mexico and be done with it. They’ve simply offended liberal sensibilities one time too many. Their professional sports teams could be moved to Alabama.

4. Tucson is not as bad as Arizona as a whole. Pehaps everyone could be moved on campus and just build a wall around it.

5. It is obvious that shopping centers draw crowds of people, therefore we need to take another look at the “freedom of assembly” thing to see if that portion of the constitution is outdated. In the meantime, no more permits for large stores within 2 miles of each other.

6. Private automobiles have a terrible history of causing and facilitating crime in the U.S. For one thing, drunks couldn’t kill nearly as many innocent people if they were made to walk or ride buses. Cars use oil and mainly only create more and more Arab wealth. Americans have no constitutional right to own cars. Cars need to go.

7. If guns can’t be banned, at least require them all to be single shot .22s.

8. Obviously, the elderly should not be allowed to attend public events.

9. The time has come to find an alternative to education where large amount of students congregate in a confined area. Home schooling for elementary students is the answer, if coupled with computer degrees for older students.

10. Employees who are fired instead of retired should be assumed to be disgruntled, and each must be followed to insure they don’t return to their previous workplace.

What else can we do? Much. but the above would be a start.

The very thought makes me feel safer already.

Tomorrow: quotes on this subject by politicians and talk show hosts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Are you shy? How to learn not to care what people think about you or something like that.

Bob Parsons almost flunked out of high school, joined the Marines and was wounded in Vietnam. Then he taught himself how to program computers and started a bookkeeping software company which he sold to Intuit in 1994 for $64 million dollars. Then he started a company called and, in addition to trying to sell you domain names, he tries to explain how to rise above the herd in your own life. This on his video blog on the GoDaddy webdsite.

Bob says he was shy, but learned to overcome it little by little. This is how he says to do it.

Me? I just like the Boots Randolph-Benny Hill girl-chasing music.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Angelika's questions

Here are Relax Max's answers to Angelika's odd questions. I'm only answering because the prize she offered was so big.


Feeling NormalRandom Questions because


am still wide awake but not quite ready to watch my DVRed crap.

Answer them in the comments or on your own blog & link back to me.

  1. Do you think Don Rickles is Funny? No. He used to be when his act was new and shocking. Tedious now.

  2. Have you seen "A Piece of Work" starring Joan Rivers? No. It's entirely possible that Joan Rivers should be put to death. Some say.

  3. Do you think this is appropriate? No. Jesus. That's disgusting.

  4. Salt and Pepa Let's talk about sex
  5. At what age do you think it's appropriate to discuss sex with your child? 25 or so. If then.

  6. Did your parents have "the talk" with you? Are you kidding?

  7. Do you cuss/curse? If so, how much. If not, why? Fuck no. That shit's vile and classless.

  8. Have you seen Knowing with Nicholas Cage? No. At least not knowingly.

  9. Do you use Netflix? No. Because of their rude popunder advertising. I guess that's why I never saw Nicolas Cage's movie, huh.

  10. What's your favorite fruit? Bananas. Then Strawberries. No, wait. Bananas and strawberries.

  11. Do you prefer morning or evening? Morning. But I don't get up until evening.

  12. Do you have a racist/bigoted family member? How do you deal with that? I guess you are saying that would be wrong, right? heh. I dunno. I don't think so. I think if they were telling racist jokes I would just stand there and stare at them instead of laughing. Is that too non-violent?

  13. I just realized the other day that my son's sperm donor is 52. That makes him the same age as Hugh Laurie. Are you surprised by that? I'm surprised Hugh Laurie is 52. I thought he was the one, though. Or that 7-11 clerk you had a crush on. But I guess Evan was already 12 when you discovered the 7-11 guy. Did you ever see The World According to Garp? Do you remember how Glenn Close got pregnant with the comatose soldier? Trivia: what was his rank?

  14. Do you feel as old as your chronological age? Sometimes. Not when I am sleeping or blogging. When I am watching Auburn kicking last second field goals against Oregon in the national championship game I feel old. Or pissed. I guess feeling pissed is not the same thing as feeling old. Can I have a do-over on this question? No, I feel young. Like Captain Kirk in Genesis.

  15. Children
  16. Do you like kids? Sure. Very tasty.

  17. Do you make New Year's Resolutions?
  18. Yes. I don't keep them, but I make them.

  1. 16. Do you buy organic whenever you can? No. I prefer to toughen my immune system by ingesting chemicals with long names. Does McDonalds count as organic?

  2. 17. How often do you eat out at restaurants? I don't know. Who would count something like that? Not very often. Wait. You mean fast food too, or regular restaurants?

  3. 18. Do you think you're kinky? No.

  4. 19. Do you believe in love at first site? At the first site I come across? You mean sight right? Sure, I guess.

  5. 20. Do you have to go to the bathroom right now too? What do you mean "too"?

  6. 21. The average person picks his/her nose 5 times per hour. Do you believe this? Are you above or below the norm? It would be really difficult to keep that down to 5 times per hour.

  7. 22. Are you married? Yes.

  8. 23. Are you younger than 30? Almost. Heh. No. :(

  9. Oriental Ramen Noodles
  10. 24. Will you send me some Oriental flavored ramen to feed The Boy? No. Postage would cost more than a case of that stuff. I secretly like it though. Not oriental flavor. BEEF. YO!

  11. 25. How do you like your eggs? Unfertilized.

  12. 26. Are you a good cook? Naw.

  13. 27. Do you prefer sweet or savory food? I like hot food. Like Mexican food.

  14. 28. Do you watch any of the Real Housewives shows? Get real. Damn girly blog of yours.

  15. 29. Do you think you need to lose weight? It is one of my new years resolutions.

  16. 30. Do you talk to strangers in real life? Sometimes. If they stop me in traffic and are wearing a badge. Not in grocery store lines though. If they try to talk to me, I just stare at them like a cold fish as if they had tried to tell me a racist joke.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Single drop of rain


I was a highwayman. Along the coach roads I did ride

With sword and pistol by my side

Many a young maid lost her baubles to my trade

Many a soldier shed his lifeblood on my blade

The bastards hung me in the spring of twenty-five

But I am still alive.

I was a sailor. I was born upon the tide

And with the sea I did abide.

I sailed a schooner round the Horn to Mexico

I went aloft and furled the mainsail in a blow

And when the yards broke off they said that I got killed

But I am living still.

I was a dam builder. Across the river deep and wide.

Where steel and water did collide

A place called Boulder on the wild Colorado

I slipped and fell into the wet concrete below

They buried me in that great tomb that knows no sound

But I am still around..I'll always be around..and around and around and

around and around

I fly a starship across the Universe divide

And when I reach the other side

I'll find a place to rest my spirit if I can

Perhaps I may become a highwayman again

Or I may simply be a single drop of rain

But I will remain

And I'll be back again, and again and again and again and again..

Monday, January 10, 2011

"It was a cold and stormy night."

Writing a novel is harder than you might think.

Fred's wife stared at him with open disgust. Fred knew she didn't believe his story at all.

Fred was becoming decidedly uncomfortable now.


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