Archive for February, 2011

Amazing Krumping Dancing Kids, Age 8.

February 18, 2011

I guess it’s going to be mostly a video day on this blog, on this lazy Friday.

I stumbled upon another cool random video of three eight year old boys “krumping.”

A still from a video of some amazing eight year olds krumping.

For the uninitiated, I can assure you krumping isn’t anything dirty, illegal or inappropriate. It’s a style of dance.

Gawd, I wish I could do what these kids do. I’d impress everybody. But I don’t think krumping is for clumsy middle aged Vermonters.

Anyway, these eight year old kids  have it down so good. You have to watch.

And if you’re an expert at krumping, shoot me a comment. Maybe you could give me lessons.

Dog Frolic Friday

February 18, 2011

I often like to post fun animal videos, usually of dogs and usually as the weekend approaches, for some reason. It’s Friday, so here goes:

Today, I found this on the Daily Dish, a boxer dog vs. a toy Dalek, which is an extraterrestial creature from Dr. Who.

The dog wants to play!

Jerk of the Week: He Poisoned Auburn’s Trees

February 17, 2011

Here’s a real loser for you:

A guy named Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr., 62, was arrested Thursday, charged with poisoning trees up to the age of 130 years old at Auburn University.

Harvey Almorn Updyke, 62, is accused of poisoning trees at Auburn Univeristy.

Reports are Updyke is a rabid fan of Auburn’s archrival Alabama, so that’s why he allegedly did the deed. Some media reports said Updyke saw Auburn kids defacing a statue of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant, so he decided to get even.

The Birmingham (Alabama) News published Updyke’s affidavit on its Web site.

He supposedly used this nasty stuff called Spike 80DF, and experts give the trees a slim chance of surviving.

Updyke denies the charges. But if he is the culprit, what was he thinking?

Among the things Updyke should have considered: Is a football rivalry worth killing trees and putting yourself in jail for up to 10 years?

If he gets mad over football games, I’d hate to see how upset he’d get if, say, somebody broke a window in his house or got in a fender bender with him.

What does killing the trees accomplish? Alabama and Auburn will no doubt continue playing football.

Anyway, talk about taking things to extremes. Bet he’s not president of the local garden club. And I’d hate to hire him as a landscaper.

Makes you feel like going to his house and sprinkling his shrubbery with a nice big does of Roundup. But that would be stooping to his level and killing innocent plants, wouldn’t it?


I’m So Ready for This Thaw

February 17, 2011

I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a thaw like the one that is now settling into Vermont.

A woman takes her chances walking on the ice of Lake Champlain at Burlington, Vermont's waterfront Thursday, despite a thaw that set in.

It hasn’t even been nearly the harshest winter I can remember, but the deep, persistent snow has left me dispirirted and feeling claustrophobic.

Plus, I am chomping at the bit to get going on grandiose gardening and landscaping improvements around my house in St. Albans, Vermont. I want to do it. NOW!

I have no illusions that a couple days of warmish weather will get rid of the thigh-deep snow around my house. There will be plenty left by the time the temperature crashes to well below freezing Saturday morning.

But a man can dream, can’t he?  Who knows, if I get lucky, maybe I can get tiny bits and pieces of work done. I noticed this morning the warming February sun is eroding the snow on the south sides of my house and shed.

It was nice enough for dining al fresco at lunchtime in Burlington, Vermont Thursday, but a lot more snow is going to have to melt here before that's possible.

Maybe, just maybe I can take up a little bit of sod  in those spots that I will replace with flower beds.

I’m going to refurbish the deck in the front of my house this spring or summer and get rid of an ugly railing on it. I noticed this morning part of the doomed railing is leaning, damaged by the heavy snow.  The snow actually gave me a bit of a break, and will make it easier to remove the railing. Maybe I can do it Saturday, if enough snow around the railing melts by then.

It’s surely too much to ask for enough snow to melt by Friday in a woodsy area between the house and road where I can start removing a tangle of brush, dead trees and shrubs, leaving behind some healthy trees.  That will have to wait.

But just the fact we’re having a thaw is something to celebrate. A couple weeks ago, just after that thundersnow we got, I was talking to my 90 year old dad. He said when he was little, the old timers would say thundersnow would mean winter’s back was about to be broken.

Dad had a point. Things started getting a bit less harsh several days after the thundersnow.

Now the thaw is settling in. It’s off to a good start. It’s unexpectedly sunny today,   which is great, because the sun will really start to chew up snowbanks and snow on south facing slopes.

The sight of snow and ice melting into storm drains in this thaw is a thing of beauty.

It’s supposed to get foggy tonight, and that’s good. Fog eats snow. It might get into the low 50s tomorrow. That’ll surely quicken the thaw.

It’s funny how a long-anticipated thaw makes ugly things seem beautiful. I love the gurgling sound of meltwater flowing into storm drains. I love the filthy pools of water oozing away from the fading, dirty snowbanks like blood from a murder victim.

I know this is just a quick break, and more winter is on the way. It’s supposed to snow Sunday night. Temperatures will be back below zero next week. But we’re getting toward the end of February. It will warm up again. Even if all the snow we’ve lost gets replaced, at least we don’t have to deal with the snow we had before this thaw.

Soon enough, I’ll be digging up dirt, getting myself all muddy, sweaty and injured with the gardening. In other words, I’ll be in Nirvana.

Lara Logan Case Highlights Internet Meanness

February 16, 2011

I swear meanness on the Internet just gets worse and worse.

What got me thinking about this was a note on Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish blog about reaction to the reported sexual assault of CBS reporter Lara Logan recently during unrest in Egypt.

Particularly awful, hateful comments came from both the left and the right. Lefty journalist Nir Rosen joked about the assault. I guess he figured he could because he believes Logan is insufficiently leftist, and too cozy with the military. Or something.

Nir Rosen lost his position at NYU today over remarkably stupid things he said about CBS reporter Lara Logan

I quote Rosen:

“Jesus Christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger”

“Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse than [sic] I’m sorry.”

He also said he wished Anderson Cooper was similarly assaulted.

Rosen later said he regretted making the statements. Still, he was a fellow at NYU’s Center for Law and Security, but they forced him to resign over the Logan comments, according to the Washington Post and other  media outlets.

On the right, we have somebody who is at least a big a loser as Rosen. Meet conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel, who, unlike Rosen, thinks Logan is too far left, but like Rosen, things Logan, because of her alleged viewpoints, got what she deserved.  Geez, you can’t please anybody.

Conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel also says many not very bright things. She unloaded on Lara Logan, too.

Here’s a sample of the idiotic things Schlussel said.

“So sad, too bad, Lara. No one told her to go there. She knew the risks. And she should have known what Islam is all about. Now she knows. Or so we’d hope. But in the case of the media vis-a-vis Islam, that’s a hope that’s generally unanswered.
This never happened to her or any other mainstream media reporter when Mubarak was allowed to treat his country of savages in the only way they can be controlled.

Now that’s all gone. How fitting that Lara Logan was “liberated” by Muslims in Liberation Square while she was gushing over the other part of the “liberation.”

Hope you’re enjoying the revolution, Lara! Alhamdilllullah [praise allah].

So according to Schlussel, all Muslims are savage rapist, and anybody who thinks otherwise ought to get some bad karma.

Today, Schlussel wrote that she doesn’t actual advocate sexual assault. (Mighty nice of her!) But she does add this:

“THIS. IS. ISLAM. Lara Logan was among the chief cheerleaders of this “revolution” by animals.”

Schlussel also complains she got death threats over her comments. Well, of course some lunatics are going to use utter stupidiy to confront morons, so there you go.

I hope no harm ever comes to Schlussel. I just wish she’d shut up and close her blog. I know I shouldn’t even publicize her garbage, but it’s good to get jerky comments out in the open for public scrutiny and outrage.

Elsewhere in the mean Internet world, a West Coast CBS reporter apparently had some sort of stroke on air that affected her speech, and when she started to report, jibberish came out.

I won’t show you the video of what happened, mostly because people have been using the video to mock the reporter mercilessly. People: She was having a medical problem. Show some compassion. Do you hate everybody?  Hope that doesn’t ever happen to you.

I admit I sometimes have a mean streak when I write this blog. I can be viscious toward some people. But I try to call people on the stupid things they say and do that are their choice.

Of course I welcome any views that oppose mine. Write ’em in the comment section. But if you’re just going to say stupid, angry things without making a coherent argument, I will not give you the time of day.

There. I always feel better after a rant.

Soap Opera on the Newscast

February 16, 2011

This brief little clip of a nightly news show has been making the rounds big time on the Web. Seems the female anchor once had a bad experience with the male anchor. Now it’s payback time. Watch:

Oh, why or why can’t all newscasts be like that? Here in Vermont, you just get a little stiff  (hah!) banter about how cold it is outside. That gets old fast.

In the clip, I just love the look of death the guy gives the woman, and her smug look as she says “Thank you very much” and moves on to the next news item.

I suppose there’s a chance that whole thing was scripted, but somehow, I hope not.

Don’t you wish you were in the studio when the cameras were turned off? Don’t you wish you knew the whole back story between these two? I wonder if she will get in trouble? If so, will she think it’s worth it?

I know we will never find out what’s going on and to be honest, it’s none of our business. But still. Maybe somebody can fictionalize it and turn it into one of those nighttime soap operas, like “Desperate Housewives.”

I LOVE tawdry moments so this made my week.

February 15, 2011

I’m almost reluctant to post this video, as the guy probably had no idea he was being filmed. But I  can’t resist.

Somewhere, I guess in California, a guy at  a late night diner couldn’t figure out what was food and what wasn’t. So he ate his napkin.

By the look on his face, it appears the napkin was relatively tasty. Watch:

I hope I never do anything that dumb. Everything you do these days is on camera.

I have other questions: Do napkins cause intestinal distress? Are they in any way, shape or form nutritious? What seasoning makes them taste better? Are there any good napkin recipes on line?

Will napkins be an ingredient in the next episode of “Chopped,” the Food Network’s show where chefs have to make dinners with weird ingredients?

Will somebody eat a plastic spoon next? Or the plate?

Suddenly, I’m not hungry anymore.

Last of the Free Range Kids

February 15, 2011

I was a free range kid. Sounds like a free range chicken, I know, but it was more fun than that and it had a better outcome.  I wasn’t an ingredient for the church chicken pie supper, for example.

Go ahead. Let your children run wild. You just might be making them smarter if you do.

Free range kids is a term used in an an entertaining blog by Lenore Skenazy dedicated to discouraging overprotective adults and letting kids live their lives.

It seems free range kids are rare these days. What they are are children whose parents don’t schedule everything for the kid down to the millisecond, who let the kid explore unsupervised, get into a little trouble, dream up their own games, their own rules, and learn to be self-sufficient.

Of course, nowadays  it seems letting a kid just be an unscheduled kid for just one second is tantamount to child abuse in most circles. And that’s too bad, because it’s one factor that threatens the competitive edge of the United States on a global stage.

Yes, it’s true kids have to learn more and learn better in school. But if they just know a lot of facts by rote, that’s not going to get us anywhere.  That’s where free range kids ought to come in.

If you explore, and use your imagination as a kid, you wire your brain to solve all the unexpected, weird problems that will come up when you’re an adult.

Instead, we wrap the kids in a stifling cocoon. If we think of any danger that could so much as scratch a kid, we keep them away instead of letting them learn what’s dangerous and what’s not.  No wonders bored kids just sit around and play video games. We took all their fun away.

I’m all for supervising kids, but really.

Exhibit A is an article about a school in New Jersey for kids that’s basically on a farm, where the children learn by doing. It’s very outdoorsy, too. According to the Web site Boingboing, state regulators came in and ordered the school to fence off the stream, cut all tree branches lower than seven feet off the ground, make the kids wear shoes indoors and get rid of or stash away a cat that hangs around the school.

Kind of defeats the purpose of the school, no? Yeah, if I were a parent I would want reasonable protections. But remove all tree branches that could possible clonk a kid in the head?  God forbid the kid discover that unwisely swinging from a tree branch can lead to a bruise.

I’ll sound like a cranky old timer here and say, “Back when I was a kid….”

Cue the codger story about how it was better in the old days, but it’s true. When I was little, I’d spend an entire afternoon exploring the mountain, alone, behind my house. Or I’d go into town, and it was up to me to find friends, and maybe join a game of football. No parents scheduled anything. And it was up to me to get home in time for supper. If I didn’t, I’d just have to fix myself something to eat.

I think the whole lifestyle as a kid made me more creative, imaginative and able to think on my feet. What kinds of kids are we creating where everything is so controlled? I wonder if they’ll ever be make their own decisions.

I know some college professors who tell me some students are totally at sea when they arrive on campus, because they never had to make a decision for themselves, and are utterly lost.

I have to completely agree with New York Times columnist David Brooks, who said that Amy Chua, the woman who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” actually coddled her children too much.

Chua hit a buzzsaw of criticism because she forced her kids to practice music for hours, had exacting standards for academic achievement, and was kind of mean when the kids fell short. Many parents said Chua was too mean.

But Brooks is right. She did coddle the kids by not allowing them much of a social life. Brooks puts it best:

She’s protecting them from the most intellectually demanding activities because she doesn’t understand what’s cognitively difficult and what isn’t.

Practicing a piece of music for four hours requires focused attention, but it is nowhere near as cognitively demanding as a sleepover with 14-year-old girls. Managing status rivalries, negotiating group dynamics, understanding social norms, navigating the distinction between self and group — these and other social tests impose cognitive demands that blow away any intense tutoring session or a class at Yale.

Yet mastering these arduous skills is at the very essence of achievement. Most people work in groups. We do this because groups are much more efficient at solving problems than individuals.”

I’m obviously no parenting expert, but I have unsolicited advice anyway. When your kids get home from school today, bundle them up and send them outside.Then leave them to their own devices.

Do this every day. You might just end up with a genius


Fascinating Contrast on Gay Rights

February 14, 2011

I saw two posts in the excellent JoeMyGod blog today that really were a study in contrasts.

JoeMyGod is a gay advocacy and news blog. He’s pretty thorough.

Anyway, one ridiculous post had a moron named Pastor Donald Spitz saying all gay parents should be put in jail for life. He says that if two parents of the same sex, or just one gay parent, is somehow the worst kind of child abuse.

"Pastor" David Spitz has some, um, interesting views on gay parents

I guess he uses the word “pastor” loosely.

As opposed to instilling children with hate filled, completely bogus ideas. That, apparently is OK.

In the video, the words “Jesus Forgives and Heels” Spitz had better hope Jesus forgives him. His “logic” might be putting him in hot water in the moral department.

The last half of his video also shows photos of “abused” kids, but they look well adjusted and healthy at various and sundry gay pride events.

I saw the horrid video earlier,  but YouTube has since taken it down. It violated their policy on hate speech. No surprise there.

The contrast comes from a nice 80-year old woman in Iowa. They’re debating the issue of gay marriage there. Though many gay marriage opponents are fairly respectful and base their opposition on their religion, other opponents are pretty hateful.

The lady from Iowa has had enough of that, thank you very much. Her son came out as gay maybe 30 years ago and she shared her life lessons for a video:

Joe Jervis, the JoeMyGod said it best: “You just want to hug her and sit down for warm cookies.”


My Sister in Vermont Knows How to Party!

February 14, 2011

Saturday night, I went to the most completely, utterlessly tasteless party I’ve been to in ages.

Bright Lights, Big City. Or Small Town. My sister Laurie celebrates at her surprise 40th birthday party Saturday in West Rutland, Vermont.

In other words, it was absolutely the best party I’ve been at in a long, long time.  You can tell by the pictures scattered through this post, taken by my brother-in-law David Jenne, that this celebration ROCKED!

The occasion was my little sister’s surprise 4oth birthday party at the American Legion in West Rutland, Vermont.

Happy Birthday, Laurie!

Her partner Bennie and a lot of her friends conspired to put this together, and somehow kept it from Laurie, who otherwise has a knack for finding out about everything and everybody. She’s sort of the TMZ of Rutland County, Vermont.

Laurie's friends present her with a cake with some impressive decorations at her birthday party Saturday.

The party, aside from being a rocking hot time, illustrated perfectly the two Vermonts I inhabit.

The Vermont stereotype is well known. Vermont is this ultra liberal vegan, free range, hemp wearing, back to the land. oh-so-politically correct, socialist paradise.

There’s some truth to the stereotype, and that type of crowd, though not as extreme as I describe, is certainly a big part of Vermont.

Nothing wrong with this free range and sustainability group. Gatherings with them are usually fun, educational, interesting, stimulating. But some of these people can be a little too self-conscious, too self-controlled, too polite for my tastes. At least in social situations.

Laurie cuts the rug with a friend of hers, whose name I forget, a plumber dude, at her surprise birthday party Saturday in West Rutland.

This was not a problem at Laurie’s party.  I don’t think anybody there could have been self-conscious if they tried.

As soon as things got underway, friends promptly gave Laurie a sort of shot glass shaped to look like a guy’s, um, junk.   They gave her a similarily shaped straw for her drinks and insisted she use it. Other people shared the straw, of course, for the future blackmail pictures, I believe.

A birthday cake carried the same theme,  prompting one of Bennie’s adult sons to say. “I’ll bet dad isn’t that big.”

Alrighty then.

Probably the highlight of the evening was when the DJ started spinning tunes. The music leaned heavily toward artists like Kid Rock and Shania Twain. It was disconcerting to say the least to hear the crowd singing along to Shania as they danced. “Man, I feel like a woman!” is a little alarming coming from a drunk middle aged male plumber with big rubber cow barn boots on.

My sister Laurie gets down! At her 40th birthday party Saturday in West Rutland, Vermont.

But he was caught up in the moment. The guy picking his nose as he danced was probably in the same boat.

That’s why the party was so perfect.  Everybody let their hair down. Nobody worried about being polite, or felt like they had to say the right thing and show off the fact they memorized an article from The New Yorker or The Economist.

At Laurie’s party, nobody discussed the foreign policy implications of Obama’s economic team clashing with House Republicans over trade tariffs. Instead, people discussed how drunk they were getting. Nobody at Laurie’s party played any weird obscure music to impress us by how esoteric their taste is.

Instead, we rocked to songs like “Strokin” and “The Cha-Cha Slide.” The only reading material around were off-color birthday cards for Laurie and a montage of old, 1970s and 1980s pictures of Laurie with very unfortunate hairdos. Mullet anyone? How about a Dorothy Hamill look?  (Note: Laurie’s hairstyle is dramatically better these days)

At Laurie’s party, the Budweiser flowed, the food almost prompted a raid from the American Heart Association, fashion statements tended toward old, battered jeans and t-shirts. The people who overdressed for the party wore Carhartts.

It was such a relief to be in a room where I didn’t have to behave. Laurie really seemed to enjoy herself too, which was of course the point of the party. She’s smart enough to surround herself by people who, yes, are intelligent, clever and on the ball, but they don’t feel like they have to prove it to everybody. (Well, OK, maybe one or two of her friends are just plain dumb, but that’s true of everybody’s social circle)

So Laurie, Happy Birthday. Keep rockin’, keep the beer flowing and the country music blaring. Believe me, everybody is thanking you for it.