Sunday, May 31, 2009

Expedition: Town Creek Indian Mound

Sara and I went to visit the Town Creek Indian Mound this weekend; it is near Mt. Gilead, NC, and the Uwharrie National Forest.

The weather was nice; mild and clear, after a week of humidity and rain; I had been wondering if the entire state would turn to fungus, it was so damp and sticky.

On the way to the site we rescued a young box turtle:

We actually arrived an hour early, and so went on a ride around the area, passing through towns named Biscoe, Troy, Candor, Pekin and Mt. Gilead. All of them are located in the vicinity of the Uwharrie National Forest and the Pee Dee River. Looks like prime hunting and fishing country, and we saw numerous boats at a public boat launch area at Lake Tillery. The town of Candor became the butt of a running joke on my part, as I wondered if the inhabitants were noted for forthrightness and brutal honesty. I would say things like:

In all candor, that's the ugliest man I've ever seen in my life.

In all candor, that doesn't look like a nice place to eat.

In all candor, they look like the type to tie you to a tree and make you squeal like a pig.

In all candor, it's effing hot out here.

In all candor, I need to pee.

And so on.

Finally we completed our circle and arrived back at the indian mound. It's a NC State Historic Site, with a welcome center/gift shop and restrooms. We watched a film on the history of the mound (you can read more at the Wikipedia link, if you like). Finally we walked out to the site itself; none of it original, save some of the actual mound. The stockade and buildings are all reproductions.

Here's the complex as seen from the entrance trail:

Closer, we came to the entrance to the stockade; it was made intentionally narrow to prevent more than one person from entering at a time, a security precaution intended to deter attacks.

Inside the compound was bare grass, save for three buildings, made in the style of the Mississippian People:

In an active village, of course, the grass would have been worn down to bare dirt through constant use, there would have been more buildings, and open fires/middens/latrines would have all been present.

The mound itself was about half the height of the surrounding Loblolly Pine trees, a reflection of the lack of earth-moving gear more sophisticated than a straw basket and flint hoes.

The hut on top of the mound was the bailiwick of the tribal shaman; a sacred fire burned there throughout the year, and representations of important totem animals/clans are painted on the walls:


A creek runs behind the site, and presumably feeds into the nearby Little River and thence into the Pee Dee system:

We took a walk along the Nature Trail that circles the site, then returned to the visitors center to use the toilets before departing.

One thing I've been noticing in these journeys around rural North Carolina is the number of Baptist Churches you come across; on this journey, we saw these:

Freedom Holiness Baptist Church
Porter Baptist Church
East Macedonia Baptist Church
Calvary Baptist Church
Freedom Tabernacle Baptist Church
Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church
Solid Rock Baptist Church
Alley Grove Missionary Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
Covington Missionary Baptist Church
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church
Holly Mountain Baptist Church
Blackwood Chapel Baptist Church
Stoney Fork Baptist Church
Anderson Grove Baptist Church
Liberty Hill Primitive Baptist Church
Red Cross Baptist Church

We also saw a bluegrass concert advertised, as well as the Big Lick ATV Drag Races. Yeeeeeeee-haw!

Next week: Back to the Beach!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Assume The Position, Students

Kneel before Zod Allah.

Hey! Teacher! Leave Them Kids Alone!

By God, That's The Way It's Supposed To Work

Johnny William Bell was due to be released from prison. As he was processed out, he was arrested for a crime in another county and taken directly to jail; he did not pass GO nor did he collect his $200.

Police using DNA evidence had linked him to a rape committed before he had been imprisoned, and were waiting to charge him with it as he was readied for release.

That's the way it's supposed to work in a properly functioning society. I have given cops and courts grief for turning felons loose or not getting tough with them, but this is an example of the system working properly. Well done.

Hillbilly Feud Ends In Tragedy

The Younce-Moore feud appears to be over with the death of one of the principals involved.

Tally: 1 dead cat, 1 dog presumed dead, 2 wounded hillbillies, 1 dead hillbilly, and 2 wounded sheriff's deputies.

This was up the road a ways in Caldwell County, and yes, trailers and pit bulls were part of the equation.


Stupid peckerwoods.

Posting Crime Updates On Your MySpace Page...

...tells the entire world you're a retard.

Especially when it's written like this:

"On tha run for robbin a bank Love all of yall."

On the plus side, he might be able to get a reduced sentence on grounds of diminished capacity.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"We Thought San Francisco Was The World, And It Wasn't."

Would-be presidential assassin Sara Jane Moore reveals the reason she attempted to kill Gerald Ford: she was a barking leftist moonbat.

San Francisco Values

From A Ship To A Reef

The US Air Force missile tracking ship General Hoyt S. Vandenberg is sunk off Key West to form a reef.

The Bull's Dying...

...and the matador ain't feeling too well, either.

Scenes like this happen every year in bullfighting countries. Say what you like about the sport, that it is bloodthirsty, cruel and butchery; the fact remains that it takes a great deal of courage to step into the ring to face a bull bred solely for fighting. Look at this particular bull: his horns haven't been cut short or blunted, they are sharp and deadly. The bull isn't too heavy, he's trim and muscular and strong. This one has gone through the entire process of the fight: his shoulder muscles jabbed by the spear of the picador, tired by running after swift bandarilleros who leave barbed darts in his shoulders to weaken his shoulders further, forcing him to lower his head for the thrust of the killing sword, the espada, which can be seen jutting between the shoulders, the blade reaching down to the heart itself. Even with the deadly steel in his vitals the bull was able to raise his head in a thrust that caught the unwary matador in the chest, probably the moment after the sword went in; it's a vulnerable moment for the matador, and this man, Israel Lancho, paid the price for his lapse.

update: It's on YouTube:

Pretty grim footage. Since Lancho was suspended on the horn for at least 3 seconds, you can see that there was more than one damage vector from the horn inside his body. I should note for those unfamiliar with bullfighting that there is usually a fully-staffed emergency facility at each bullring, and an ambulance standing by to handle just this sort of situation. It doesn't guarantee that a bullfighter's life will be saved, but it increases his chances.

Ya Do What Ya Gotta To Win...

...even if most of your male fans think it's a crying shame.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


US Navy Deep Sea Diver's Knife:

Condition: Brand new, still in original packaging.

Cost: I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.

Weight: because of the solid brass scabbard, extremely heavy. My Randall bowie knife isn't this heavy.

Why? Damned if I know. I've never dived. Only thing I could think is that I remember owning the G.I. Joe deep sea diver's outfit when I was a kid, and admiring the knife that came with it. I recently saw one of these in Wilmington onboard the USS North Carolina (BB-55) in the dive locker, attached to a dive suit. That one was probably an antique, this one is brand new. I don't think they're made anymore, but I could be wrong.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

A man has been hired by the Manchester (UK) Museum to be a resident "hermit" in the museum's gothic tower for 40 days and 40 nights, his only requirement being to blog on the experience and "contemplate life's problems."

That's my life's ambition, by the way: to be paid a lot of money to live by myself somewhere, preferably a desert island.

It Was Probably a Yeast Roll...

...from Ryan's Family Steak House. Those little babies are definitely worth stabbing someone over.

More Rude UK Road Names

After yesterday's post regarding Butt Hole Road, the UK Sun published pictures of more rude road names.

Here's my favorite, and the winner of the rudest name competition:

Could you imagine ordering a pizza delivery to such an address?


A Win-Win In Prague

Women who sign a three-year contract to become nurses in Prague, Czech Republic, can get free facelifts, tummy tucks or boob jobs as an incentive.

The girls get a good job and a boob job, the hospital gets nursing staff, the patients and doctors get hot nurses; I can't see a downside, frankly.

Update: Linked by Ace in his sidebar. Thanks!

Poof! There Ya Go!

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates apparently thinks that supermax prisons will just appear when needed:

“The truth is, there's a lot of fear-mongering about this,” he continued. “We've never had an escape from a Supermax prison, and that's where these guys will go -- and if not one of the existing ones, we'll create a new one.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Beware The Dripping Goo

It's at the Raleigh-Durham Airport parking garage, and it will eat the finish off of your car.

Probably bird crap/rain related.

Blind Japanese Pianist Stuns Van Cliburn Competition Audience

Walking arm in arm with his mother but taking confident strides onto the stage, Nobuyuki Tsujii grasped the corner of the Steinway, dropped his arm and bowed deeply toward the audience.

The shaggy-haired 20-year-old from Japan then settled himself before the concert grand, removed a cloth from a tuxedo pocket and wiped the keyboard clean with two sweeping strokes before unleashing his interpretation of Chopin, Debussy and Liszt.

Fifty recital minutes later, the first blind pianist ever to compete in the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition had won the hearts of the Bass Hall audience; a standing ovation lasted five minutes. By Sunday evening, video of Tsujii’s performance, archived on the Cliburn’s Web site, was the most viewed of any performer’s so far in the competition, requested 1,673 times, about 500 more than the next-most-requested performance.

Notify All Backwoods Buggerers

A Health and Safety Executive leaflet advises farmers that pigs' squealing could cause just as much damage to hearing as a chainsaw or power drill.

Don't Forget the Ear Plugs, Cletus!

Derriere Drive Wasn't Considered?

It's no longer possible to literally live on Butt Hole Road.

Ex-Butt Hole Road.

The new name is Archer's Way. Kind of boring. Why didn't they consider Ass Alley? Or Tail Trail? Or Bum Boulevard?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

If possible, weather permitting, why not visit a National Cemetery and honor the fallen?

This is Wilmington National Cemetery in Wilmington, NC. I'll be visiting it 2 weeks from now.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Susan Boyle Advances

Here's the YouTube clip of Susan's Sunday performance at Britain's Got Talent, where she advanced to the finals and got a standing ovation from all three judges:

Whoopi Goldberg, Haze Honeycutt & Antique Books

In a UK Telegraph story, we learn of actress Whoopi Goldberg's interest in used books:

As we leave the theatre an aide appears and hands Goldberg a list. ‘Shops,' she says, peering closely through her trademark glasses that have slipped now almost to the point of her nose. ‘I'm into antique books. I love penny dreadfuls.

When she came to Charlotte about 15 years ago for an appearance, she visited Dilworth Books, now defunct. The owner of Dilworth Books, Haze Honeycutt, was an unreconstructed southerner, and one of his interests was collecting old Civil War books and maps, which he sold through his store. One of the books displayed proudly in the case next to the cash register was a first edition of Little Black Sambo, which Whoopi noticed when she was paying for her purchases. She and Haze had a discussion about the book, without descending to the point of argument or invective, the discussion was polite. Haze said that Whoopi declined to purchase the book, even after he offered her a discount on it.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Preston Brooks Day

If you happen to see your US Senator sometime today, you might take a cane to him wish him a happy Preston Brooks Day.

Whole Lotta Love

When 252-pound Berlin prostitute Ilnes Lorbach entertains her clients, everyone in her apartment building knows it.

Gott in Himmel! Is it an earthquake?

No, it's just Ilnes having sex...

I Tell Ya, Life Ain't Easy For a Boy Named...Stalin

And if young Stalin threatened to kill people, who would be surprised?

It's a shame that Johnny Cash isn't around to sing the song of this troubled lad.

Why Couldn't You Have Been Born Two Hours Later... little bastard?

I'd Hit It

A Cambridge UK student has reached the finals in a beauty contest "despite weighing 10st" (160 pounds).

Here's the little heifer beauty:

Despite the snark, she really is cute.

He Can Run, But He Can't Hide

Actually, since he weights 555 pounds, he probably can't run, either.

I can just hear the cops now:

Dispatcher: All units are advised to be on the lookout for a mother and son who have fled in violation of a custody order. Boy weighs 555 pounds.

Cop 1: Does he answer to "Shamu?"

Cop 2: Does his shirt say "Goodyear?"

Cop 3: Let's stake out all the McDonald's in town, we're sure to get him.

Cop 4: Do they even build cars that will hold the little fella?


Only A Kung Fu Master Could Do That

A 13-year-old Albemarle Road Middle School student is in trouble with the law after allegedly threatening a fellow student on school grounds Thursday.

School officials say the student brought a knife with a 2 1/2-inch blade onto school grounds, opened it, and pointed it toward another student's stomach.

The other student was not hurt, Robbins said.

Yah, I've never been successful at hurting someone just by pointing a knife, either. Probably a Kung Fu master could do it, and I've heard that Australian Aborigines can kill you by pointing a bone at you, but this was a knife with a 2.5" blade. C'mon.

No Air Condition At The Morgue

It's causing a stink in Fresno County, CA.

As well it might.

There's also an issue of opened windows admitting flies, and the flies lay eggs, get the picture, I'm sure.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Warning: Danger Ahead!

Chris Muir's Day By Day is about to get extremely interesting. I'm predicting massive violence against an abusive boyfriend sometime in the near future. Keep an eye out.

This Needs To Be A Movie

It's quite easy to mock and belittle the UK for the actions of its current government, but then you read a story like this and remember that Britain still has citizens whose souls shine in a blaze of glory, even though they might not be noticed during their lifetime.

May Savidge loved her little cottage, and when told that it must be demolished to make way for a road, May did what anyone would not do: she disassembled her cottage, brick by brick and board by board, and moved it to a new, safer location. She did it mostly herself, and the cottage wasn't completely reassembled at her death, but has been since:

May Savidge's story is told in a book (see linking story for info) and needs desperately to be made into a movie; not by Hollywood, which would screw it up, but by some sympathetic British film company. It would be a shoo-in for awards. I'd watch it, myself.

Screwed and Screwed Again

The Romanian-born woman who auctioned off her virginity in Germany will have to pay half of the earnings to the taxman, in effect meaning that she gave half her maidenhead to the German government.


They Didn't Even Kiss Her First

Down From The Attic

Brought three old favorite knives down from the attic this morning:

All of these were acquired during my Navy days, 1980-1984. The Buck 110 is the knife I carried daily when deployed on a ship. It's big, and heavy, and quality-made to last a man's lifetime, as was the black leather sheath it rides in. I spent a half hour buffing the brass clean (it's been in the attic over 15 years) and oiling the sheath. Spyderco pretty much killed the market for a folding belt knife like the Buck 110.

The Western boot knife is probably the best designed and executed of all of the 1970's-1980's era boot knives. It has a quality leather sheath with a belt clip made of tempered steel, rather than the usual thin crappy clip made of sheet steel. It has a blade of 440 stainless and handle scales of dymondwood, so the chance of it surviving 100 years is a distinct possibility, and 1000 years not out of the question. It's not brittle like the Gerber boot knife, and is lighter and less brutal than the A. G. Russell Sting.

The Hubertus Springer (switchblade) was purchased in Hamburg, Germany, while I was on liberty from the USS Nassau, and smuggled onboard inside my boot. It's made of good materials, although fit and finish leave something to be desired. The blade is stainless, the handle scales are red deer antler, and the bolsters are nickel silver. The spring still works, the blade opens with authority and locks into position. This is a quality knife that happens to be a switchblade, rather than a crap switchblade of the type sold to tourists.

It's nice to get reacquainted with them.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twain and Guns

In a discussion at the Ann Althouse blog, someone linked to this webpage of Mark Twain quotes on guns.

Included was this great old pic from 1908:

It looks like old Sam'l is using an old Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless model, and was caught by the photographer in the middle of a speed reload.


High Stakes Marine Salvage: A Primer

Gregg Stemm: is taking treasure from shipwrecks piracy?

Treasure hunters vs. governments. If the ship is in international waters and the government has made no effort to salvage the wreck themselves, why shouldn't you profit from it?

(interestingly, the Times labeled this image "looter.")

Scorched Earth Policy

Or, How To Get Rid of Ants And An Acre Of Michigan.

Could have used ant killer. Could have just poured a bit of gasoline on the hill. But nooooo.....

Cheesus Christ!

A couple found Jesus in a Cheetos bag.

Judge for yourself: Oops, we're talking about Jesus, so Judge not Lest Ye Be Judged:

Cheesus is missing an arm. Presumably he can grow it back if he needs it, although it should be noted that re-growing limbs is not among the miracles attributed to Him, nor have any of the saints been able to pull it off.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wolfram Alpha Daily Question

With today's question, we discover that Wolfram Alpha is a folk music fan and possibly a Communist:

They Pop When You Bite 'Em

Eyes, that is.

Kinda like a grape, I'd guess.

Shh! It's Siesta Time!

The city of Granada, Spain, writes a city ordinance forbidding excessive noise between 3 and 5 in the afternoon, the time period of the traditional Spanish siesta.

The siesta is more easily understood if you've ever experienced a Spanish summer. A quiet rest in the stupefying heat is a blessing, especially where air conditioning is still uncommon.

More of Them Out There Than You Think

Leatherback Sea Turtles, I mean. So many, in fact, that it turns out they aren't all that endangered as a species, after all.

How did it happen? Same way it always happens: scientists draw conclusions from insufficient data:

Scientist: Leatherback Sea Turtles are endangered.

Man: They are?

Scientist: Yes. We counted them. They're endangered.

Man: What about that bunch over there, then? Did you count them?

Scientist: What bun...oh, crap.

Man: And you went to college for HOW many years?

Scientist: Put a sock in it, would you?

They Missed Me Because I'm Covered In Sand!

Trailer: Robert Downey As Sherlock Holmes

Click this link to see the trailer at the UK Sun website.

It's an interesting take on Holmes and Watson (Jude Law plays the good doctor), and should make a ton of money.

Still, I'd rather see Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke as Holmes and Watson, as I saw them just the other night in a delightful version of Silver Blaze.

And in my room lies a complete collection of the Holmes stories, neglected these last few years; maybe it's time to renew my friendship with the duo.

Story: Komodo Dragons Venomous After All


Take-away statement:

Until now, despite the fact that the dragon's venom gland visibly runs along its jawline, scientists had not realised it was even poisonous.

"That's because no one bothered to look," sid Dr Fry, who noted the gland during his work with captive Komodos at Singapore zoo.

That's science at work, friends and neighbors.

This Year's Eephus

Mark DiFelice and his 82-mph cut fastball.

What the hell. There's always room in baseball for a junkball pitcher, if his junk is good junk. I'm sure that somewhere up in baseball heaven Rip Sewell is smiling.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Message In A Bottle: Recovered!

I mentioned in this post that I launched a message in a bottle from the fishing pier in Carolina Beach, North Carolina on the 9th of May. I just received my letter back in the mail. The message was found on the 14th of May at 10:30 a.m. at Garden City Beach, South Carolina, which is south of Myrtle Beach. The condition of the bottle was perfect, no moisture from the journey. The following notes were written by the finder:

Weather was stormy on May 13 with high winds and extra high tide where bottle was found next morning.

No "thank you" for the $5 bill I enclosed in the bottle, although I'm of course grateful that the finder took the time to fill out the information and send the message back to me.

Here's a map of the launch and recovery points of the bottle:

Point A is the fishing pier at Carolina Beach, NC. Point B is the high tide line at Garden City Beach, SC.

100% recovery rate so far. I'm pleased as punch.



Ship's ball cap of the battleship USS Alabama (BB-60). Having been in the Navy myself, I'm a little bit quirky about wearing ball caps from ships or commands I didn't serve on. I normally won't think of wearing a ball cap from a ship I didn't serve on, or a command I wasn't attached to, so I won't be seen in a SEAL team cap, for example, simply out of respect and not having earned the right.

I'm going to make an exception with this cap from the Alabama, however. This ship was the single reason I was inspired to join the US Navy in the first place; permanently moored in Mobile Bay, Alabama, as a tourist attraction, I visited her in 1970 when I was approximately 9 years old, and my life was changed. I ran all over that ship for the hour or so that my parents allotted, playing at shooting the various machine guns and anti-aircraft cannon fixed about the ship, sneaking into restricted areas, checking out all the aspects of a WWII sailor's life; I knew from that day what I wished to do with my life, college was never a consideration. I entered the Navy when I turned 18, and lived four magical years as a sailor before leaving to do something else, a decision I regret to this day.

So, although I never served onboard that wonderful ship, I'll wear a cap with her name and hull number to commemorate the part she played, albeit briefly, in my life.

Here's what she looks like these days:

New Feature: Ask Wolfram Alpha!

Wolfram Alpha is a new search engine that promises to be able to answer text questions asked of it. The UK Guardian has a fine story about the new search engine, including a cogent analysis of its current cababilities:

"like a roomful of idiot savants. Each knows a scary amount about a topic. And, unlike a such a roomful, WA also knows how to recombine and compute what each of the savants knows. But if the room doesn't have the savant you're looking for, you get back nothing but a "Huh?"

So, as a new feature after amusing myself with a few tests, here is a question I asked of Wolfram Alpha:

Eventually I hope to teach Wolfram Alpha jokes, and hope that it will assist in my tentative plan to overthrow the Obama government.

Irony of the Day

Militant Saudis who kill innocent people in terror attacks in Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere are a disgrace to their country, a Saudi prince says.

Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, Saudi second deputy premier and interior minister, said Monday in Riyadh he hopes to stop the spread of Islamic militancy through the media, KUNA, the Kuwait News Service, reported.

The prince blamed "propaganda and yellow journalism" for helping to recruit Saudi youths into militant organizations and called for media reforms to protect the country's security.

"Our media, whether it is the state media or private media, should be realistic and well prepared," he told KUNA.

From Wiktionary:



Noun: One who is naïve.

Idiot Vice President Biden Compromises National Security

Greasy Joe was shown the secret emergency bunker at the Vice President's house at the Naval Observatory, and it only took him four months to compromise it.

Was this place's existence classified? Can we impeach Greasy Joe for this idiocy? What a moron.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

We Drove 260 Miles... see a hole in the ground.

Here's the hole:

Daniel Boone once hid in it from Indians, so the story goes. I've gone partway into it when I was younger and slimmer, but never all the way down. It's a crawl-on-your-belly sort of cave, and I didn't wish to become stuck in the passage without having informed anyone of my destination, so I backed out and left the deepest interior unexplored.

As I say, we drove quite a distance just to see it. We'd have burned up fewer miles by taking the Interstate, but we would have missed driving through some fun rural NC countryside. Next time I'll take more pictures of the journey, rather than the destination, since we had more fun on the trip up there than we did at the cave itself. It's often that way, though, isn't it?

Friday, May 15, 2009

NY Times On NC Trout

Fine little story.

No Shame, No Pride

A Polish photographer documents the drinking culture of Cardiff, Wales (UK).

Even those who should be setting an example, such as judges, are drinking so much that they pass out in a creek and drown.

And it's not a new phenomenon, is it? Didn't Hogarth paint scenes of such swinishness?

Jekyll and Hyde. Stevenson nailed it, didn't he?

But Can You Eat Burgers In All Those Places?

For just over $5000, you can go on a Burger-King sponsored burger pilgrimage.

You can see various places throughout the world where the antecedents of the hamburger are thought to have developed, such as Oxford, Wales, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Beijing, Cairo, Bangkok, Malacca, and Kuala Lumpur.

Do they have Burger Kings in all those places? I won't go if they don't have a Burger King.

Sorry I Castrated You On National TV

Oprah apologizes to author James Frey.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Well, I Kind of Suspected That

A couple of seasonal workers at Yellowstone National Park have been fired after a webcam caught them urinating into Old Faithful Geyser.

The park's dispatch center was called after someone watching a webcam on the geyser saw six employees leaving the trail and walking on Old Faithful on May 4.

The geyser was not erupting at the time.

Blazingly Fast Single Action Revolver Shooting

Five targets in .88 second:


h/t Knuckledraggin' My Life Away

Armed Boy Scouts Vs. Iraq Vets

Training the Obama Youth against right-wing extremism.

IMPERIAL, Calif. — Ten minutes into arrant mayhem in this town near the Mexican border, and the gunman, a disgruntled Iraq war veteran, has already taken out two people, one slumped in his desk, the other covered in blood on the floor.

The responding officers — eight teenage boys and girls, the youngest 14 — face tripwire, a thin cloud of poisonous gas and loud shots — BAM! BAM! — fired from behind a flimsy wall. They move quickly, pellet guns drawn and masks affixed.

“United States Border Patrol! Put your hands up!” screams one in a voice cracking with adolescent determination as the suspect is subdued.

Mother of the Year

When, during a domestic disturbance in Missouri, police threatened a man with a Taser, a woman gave the man her baby to use as a human shield.

*shakes head sadly*

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Apple Jingoism

A UK writer mourns that the ignorant UK public prefers other apples to the Cox's Orange Pippin.

But now, 184 years later, the empress of all apples is under threat of being ousted from her throne by vulgar - and literally more tasteless - rivals such as Gala, Jazz and Braeburn. Year-round sales of Gala have - I can hardly bring myself to write this - already overtaken the Cox, and UK production is following the same sorry trend.

Apple-eaters are being seduced by the shiny red skins of foreign rivals. Not long ago I was appalled by the sight of those even more vulgar arrivistes, Pink Ladies, being sold in our local supermarket in a free fluorescent Barbie-pink plastic holdall.

Apparently the reason that the Cox's Orange Pippin is dropping in popularity has to do with the fact that it's a seasonal apple, and in addition, might be a little mealy:

Another criticism levelled at the Cox is that it lacks a certain crunchiness. Well, forgive me, but raw cabbage has crunch aplenty but you don't see us wolfing that down.

Myself, I hate mealy apples, no matter how good they taste. I did an apple survey here at our local markets last year and discovered that the Pink Lady had the best combination of flavor and crunchiness, as well as an appealing skin color (they are also known as Cripps' Pink). Japanese Fuji apples are good, as well. Jonagold have a good reputation but I've found that they bruise and spoil easily. Don't even bother with Gold or Red Delicious; the growers long ago made the decision to breed them for appearance rather than flavor.

Give It To Barbie, I'm Sure She's Hungry

A tiny watermelon from South America.

I have to think that this falls into the category of foodstuffs that are more trouble than they're worth to eat, such as peel-and-eat shrimp or nuts left in the shell.

2 Out of 3 Ain't Bad

Army Seeks Inexpensive, Lightweight, Reliable Battery

Gee, aren't we all? At the very best you can get any two of those qualities in a battery, but all three? Not at our current technology level.

Don't Bring A Waffle To A Gunfight, Even At Waffle House

A couple of disadvantaged citizens acted out in a way typical of our disadvantaged citizenry, resulting in one of them being shot.

B*tch, I done tole you I don't do no scattered n' smothered...

Distressingly, the shooter won't even be able to find work at Waffle House-level jobs in the future, thus guaranteeing an existence on welfare and other government-sponsored financial assistance programs that the tax dollars of the gainfully employed will be forced to fund.

h/t Drudge Report.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'll Pass, Thanks All The Same

New Zealand wines with a strange bouquet:

Although the question naturally arises, what food do you match it with?

She Was Only MOSTLY Dead

An Australian hospital was forced to apologize after pronouncing a woman dead before she actually was.

So, of course:

Update: The UK Sun reports that the old lady in the story was discovered to be still alive by nurses attempting to put her into a body bag.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Weekend At Wilmington, NC - - With Photos!

As mentioned in the previous post, my girlfriend Sara and I took a weekend off to go to Wilmington, NC to visit the beach and do beachy stuff.

Sara took Friday off from work; I, who work 3rd shift, start my weekend at 7:30 Friday mornings when I get home. Thus we had most of Friday, all of Saturday, and a few hours on Sunday to enjoy our coastal excursion.

Sara arrived at the house around 8:45; we loaded the car up and got underway. I had a canvas weekend bag and my canvas briefcase; Sara had three bags already in the trunk. We both took cameras. I took along my Eee 1000 netbook computer, hoping that the hotel we had booked would be true to its advertising and have free wi-fi.

The trip down was uneventful, a straight shot down US Highway 74, about 200 miles. The weather in Charlotte the previous week had been miserable, a mixture of rain, thunderstorms and warm humidity. The sky was overcast as we wound our way southeast.

We had decided not to overplan the journey, so meals and itinerary were improvised, although we had a few definite destinations, such as the memorial to the USS North Carolina (BB-55), which is moored (sunk in the mud, actually) beside the Cape Fear River in Wilminton.

We didn't stop for lunch on the way down, neither of us feeling hungry enough until nearly in Wilmington. We arrived around 1:00 p.m. Rather than check into the hotel we decided to continue directly toward Wrightsville Beach, and eat lunch somewhere near there. We also both began getting urges from our bladders, a situation that was resolved when we saw a Harris Teeter grocery store sign, a chain that we are familiar with in Charlotte. Clean bathrooms, conveniently near the entrance. We then continued a search for a mutually agreeable restaurant on the way to Wrightsville Beach. We simply didn't see any we wanted to dine in, so out to the beach we went, over the bridges and onto the island that is Wrightsville Beach. Since it is a small island, you can circumnavigate it in a half-hour's time or even less, depending on traffic. Down at the south end we found a public beach access, paid $1.50 to park, and walked out onto the beach. The weather had given way to sun and hazy blue skies. Most of the beachscape photos from this first beach encounter weren't good enough to post here, but I'll post a representative one so you can see the beach:

I was reintroduced to my favorite gull, the Laughing Gull:

Laughing Gulls are so named because of their laughing call, usually sounded while flying. Their black heads will change color during the course of the year, fading to white during the non-mating season.

Sara and I discovered that walking the sands of Wrightsville Beach was a real chore, the sand being so softly-packed that our feet would sink in up to 6" each step; quite a walking chore for two sedentary (not to say fat) people. We gave up extended beach walking as a bad investment, and thus our haul of sea shells is rather pitiful, indeed. None of the beaches we visited, though, had an abundance of seashells.

After struggling through the Wrightsville Beach sand for a while, we headed back to the car in search of lunch. We finally decided on Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q, a chain that Sara was familiar with. The BBQ was good, pork cooked Eastern-NC style; I had two sandwiches. The hush puppies looked rather like dog turds and were lacking in flavor. Copious quantities of Diet Coke washed everything down.

Satiated we got on the road again, this time to visit the USS North Carolina memorial. It's the actual WWII battleship, moored by the Cape Fear River. We paid our admission fee and went out to the ship. By now the weather was warm and sunny, the sky very blue. We toured the main deck and took the below-decks tour, skipping the topsides tour of the bridge. Going up and down the ladders was more of a chore than when I was 20, unfortunately, and some places (the 16" gun turrets, for example) I was no longer prepared to enter, so I skipped those. Still, I got a few photographs, such as the float plane at the stern of the ship:

Here's the inevitable shot of the 16" guns from the bow of the ship:

The ship was equipped with 9 of these guns in three triple turrets, two forward and one aft. To fire them the ship would normally turn broadside to her target so that all 9 guns could fire, sometimes simultaneously, a tremendous blast that would be felt all around the ship. The shells weighed each as much as a Volkswagen Beetle and had a range of 20 miles.

Smaller than the big 16" guns are the 5" guns, located all over the ship in twin turrets:

These were multi-purpose guns, useful for shore bombardment, ship-to-ship action, and even anti-aircraft, I believe. 5" guns are currently the biggest that the Navy still uses, most other purposes being served by missiles.

The lower decks of the ship were hot, with ventilation only coming in at a few places such as the mess decks and laundry area. It wasn't air conditioning, or it didn't seem to be, just ventilator fans, so consequently we both worked up a sweat on the below-decks tour. They had recorded sounds of navy life piped throughout the ship, such as announcements for mail call, VIP's arriving/departing, and even period music playing on the mess decks. There was a lot of vintage gear in some of the cabins, such as nice old baseball mitts/bats/footballs in the officer's cabins, and I saw a genuine old Diver's Knife in the dive locker, it looked similar to this:

I'd love to have one of those.

Here's a last photo from the ship, the sign that told the sailors what time liberty ended and what the liberty uniform was, also any information that might be necessary to know in a liberty port:

It was nice to see an old Navy ship again. This fall I plan to visit Norfolk again, and will probably visit the USS Wisconsin in Portsmouth, she's a tourist ship there now.

After we departed the North Carolina, it was time to check in at the hotel. We did so, finding it to be in a nice area, fairly safe, and close to pretty much everything in Wilmington. It was the Comfort Suites on Market Street, and I can recommend it to anyone staying in Wilmington.

After a rest and a shower, we went to dinner at a Golden Corral. I can't say it was a memorable meal. No hamburgers available, so I ate fish (cold), scallops (overcooked, small), some rolls and some softserve ice cream. Disappointing, but not so expensive as to be tragic.

After dinner we returned to the hotel and bed, early for us at only 9 or so, but I'd been awake since the previous evening and was worn out. Sara was, also. Apparently I began talking and mumbling in my sleep, as Sara reported the next morning. I must have been dreaming of being a judge in old times or perhaps a vivisectionist, because Sara reports that I said at one point, "Go and chop his dick off." She says I then mumbled for a while and finally said "Strange substance. What the fuck is it?" This provoked howls of laughter from both of us, and was a running joke for the rest of the weekend; even on the trip home, I broke out in spontaneous belly-laughter several times thinking about it. Go and chop off his dick, indeed.


Next morning we ate breakfast in the hotel dining room before departing; scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and we split a fresh-made waffle. We then departed for the beach at Fort Fisher, the site of a battle during the Civil War. The trip down took about 45 minutes, I think. We parked in the park HQ parking lot, and walked out to the beach. Pretty day, clear and sunny. Sara, who had drunk two cups of coffee for breakfast, suddenly had an urge to relieve herself so we went back to the HQ building. Although the ladies' room was already unlocked and it was only 5 minutes until opening time, the officious NC State employee would not allow Sara into the ladies' room, instead directing us to one further down the beach. We cursed and grumbled about the malice of government employees as we got back into the car and drove to the other restroom.

There are some wonderfully twisted trees at Fort Fisher, pruned and worked by salt vapor into fantastic shapes:


After wandering the beach for a while, we decided to take the ferry across to Southport and Oak Island, North Carolina. We got to the ferry a few minutes before 10, when the first ferry departed, and watched the antics of the Laughing Gulls while waiting to board. Finally we drove aboard the ferry and it pulled away from shore. The day was lovely by this time, cloudless and blue, with a warm sun.

Along the way we saw a sailing yacht heading out to the open ocean:

We also saw a little island, perhaps an islet, or maybe it's just a sandbar, off to our left; uninhabited, it looked like a fine place for an overnight party:

This little islet doesn't have a name when I checked on Google Earth, although it's probably named on nautical charts, no doubt. Looks like a fun place to bury treasure. Arrrr.

When we neared the Southport ferry terminal, I noticed an old abandoned coastal lighthouse:

I've often wished to have lived a hundred years ago, working as a lighthouse keeper on a screwpile lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay.

After we offloaded in Southport, we decided to visit Caswell Beach and the Oak Island lighthouse. The trip down there took about a half hour, and as we approached and passed the Oak Island light we noticed that people in miltary uniforms were actually rappelling from the top (sorry, no pics of it). We discovered that there was a Military Appreciation Day going on at the lighthouse site, although we decided not to stay for it. Sara liked the looks of the Coast Guardsmen who were directing traffic through the area, they were wearing their blue working uniforms.

Caswell beach was pretty, and by now it was early afternoon. The sky was blue and clear, and the wind was blowing hard from the southwest, directly onto the beach. Rather than go onto the beach itself, we contented ourselves with sitting on a bench on the access walkway and observed the beachgoers. I was wearing a sun hat, Sara was bareheaded and had forgotten her sunblock, so she ended up getting a sunburn on her face, although I offered to let her wear my hat.

While we sat on the bench there at Caswell both pelicans and gulls would pass down the beach in front of us, flying back and forth, sometimes quite closely. I did my best to get some action photos of these birds in flight, and had to content myself with one acceptable shot, of a brown pelican:

And here's a beach shot of Caswell:

After about an hour and a half at Caswell we decided to leave and search for a lunch. We decided that we wanted hamburgers, and that if we didn't see a place advertising huge, juicy charcoal-grilled hamburgers we would content ourselves with a Burger King stop. We quickly found that the section of North Carolina north of Oak Island is one huge backwoods wilderness until you get back up to US Highway 74. In fact, it was so backwoods that it made me think uncomfortably of this:

So we didn't find any burger joints on NC 133 until we got back to 74, and when we got there we didn't see anything acceptable either, so we went back into Wilmington and ate at a Burger King on Market Street, not far from the Smithfield's BBQ we had eaten at the day before.

After lunch we made a quick trip to the hotel to clean up a bit and then went to the Cape Fear Serpentarium in downtown Wilminton in the historic district. The Serpentarium is nice, with both an upper level and lower level of glass-fronted exhibiting vivariums featuring a collection of snakes, lizards and crocodiles. We watched the director of the Serpentarium, Dean Ripa, feeding Bushmasters, Gaboon Vipers, a Nile Crocodile and a Reticulated Python. I took a couple of photographs through the glass, and was happy with the results:

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake (Crotalus Adamanteus)


Gaboon Viper (Bitis Gabonica)

After we finished at the Serpentarium we returned to the hotel to prepare for supper. We decided on Michael's Seafood Restaurant in Carolina Beach for supper, followed by a visit to the fishing pier, also at Carolina Beach. We drove down the same road we had taken that morning to get to Fort Fisher. The evening was clear and warm. When we got to Michael's we had a choice of eating outside immediately or waiting fifteen minutes for a table inside. Since the day was still hot we chose to wait for an inside table.

I had a lobster tail and scallops for dinner, Sara had coconut shrimp. Sara hadn't had lobster in years and had never tasted scallops, so I gave her portions of my plates. She decided that she didn't like either one, and went back to her shrimp. The lobster was a bit overdone and tough to cut; the scallops were cooked correctly, but since I had ordered them blackened, were a bit too spicy to eat until I had dipped them into a horseradish aioli that had accompanied them. All in all, an expensive but rather undistinguished meal.

After supper we proceeded to the fishing pier at Carolina Beach. It was about a half hour from sunset as we made it out to the pier. With me I carried a message in a bottle that I had made up using an empty plastic water bottle, a message typed on the computer in Poor Richard font (a nice touch, I thought) and a $5 bill, both pieces of paper sealed inside a Ziploc bag and placed inside the bottle. The note simply congratulated the finder and awarded them the $5 bill, and asked that the letter be returned to me with finder's information such as date and where the bottle had been found. We went out to the end of the pier, past all the fishermen, and I tossed the bottle overhand into the Atlantic. The pier was pretty long and we weren't in the surf zone out there at the end of it. It appeared to me that the bottle was heading north when I last saw it, rather than headed directly towards shore. I'm hoping that it will make its way out to sea and that I won't get the message back from Carolina Beach with a finder's date of the very next day after I tossed the bottle. Most likely of all is that the bottle won't be found.

Sara and I stayed on the fishing pier until after sunset. A bold pelican, half-tamed from receiving free fish handouts, posed for photographs:

Here's a shot of the Carolina Beach fishing pier, a wooden structure:

Out at the end of the pier the wooden structure was swaying slightly, which made Sara remark that it was making her nauseous.

The return trip to the hotel was uneventful, other than the howls of laughter as we kept saying go and chop off his dick to each other.

After returning to the hotel we ate some of the watermelon, which was rather bland, and went off to bed.

Next morning we packed up our gear for the return to Charlotte, but decided to swing by Wrightsville Beach again and sit on the fishing pier there for a while for a last look at the ocean. Thus, after checking out of the hotel, we found ourselves back on US Highway 74 headed eastward.

The morning was glorious at Wrightsville Beach. Parking that early was free, but a nominal charge was imposed to let us onto the concrete fishing pier. We sat quietly, watching the waves and the beachcombers, taking a few last pictures:

Wrightsville Beach, NC, 10 May 2009


Here is an amusing "litany of NO" that can be found at the Wrightsville Beach fishing pier:

And with that, we said goodbye to our beach weekend.

The trip back to Charlotte was uneventful, other than my temporary panic at not finding my pocket knife in my trousers pocket, and remembering that they were in the pocket of a different pair of trousers. We got home about 1 in the afternoon.

Thanks again, Sara, for a wonderful weekend.