is older than it's ever been and now it's even older


I was listening to NPR on the way in to work this morning, and I heard this story about humpback whales on the east coast of Australia (audio link; but notice the unnecessary apostrophe on the entry page). Turns out that researchers have been studying these whales for years and years and there is a set mating song. Now this isn't a sort of "Louie Louie" two and a half minute single, it's a ten minute "Stairway to Heaven" that has only had minor variations for the last few decades. And then two whales from the west side of Australia showed up with a radically different song. Instead of having the song be drowned out and ignored by the other hundreds of whales with the usual eastern song, the whole mass of the whales changed their songs to be the same as the new whales' song. This is the sort of thing I think about when I hear about how superior we are as humans to the totality of nature. What crap. We're animals too, and we don't give nearly enough credit to how much like the rest of the animals we really are. Take this story, for example (via Follow Me Here). The thrust of the article is that scientists are finding out all kinds of crazy brain structures at work for various animals' feats of memory and cognition, like what a homing pigeon uses to find its way. I find it especially interesting that smell is related to that particular aspect. Consider how your memory works. If you smell something you really, really, remember -- it can cause serious flashbacks. Common smell triggers include baking food (Turkey anyone?), elementary school smell, and perfume. I swear every time I smell Tea Rose perfume I cannot help but think of mom.

On the other hand, scientists also like to use the similarities between us and other animals for research, most of the time for good, but sometimes I wonder. In this article, the author examines a recent study on cannabis use. The study's authors claim that because the monkeys voluntarily injected themselves with THC that means it's addictive. As the link points out, however, if you take a really hyper monkey and tie it down, it will probably want to figure some way to ameliorate its condition. I'll leave the really good points to the article, but suffice it to say it is absolutely hilarious. The other thing I noticed about that article is it was written by a co-writer of When Elephants Weep: the Emotional Lives of Animals, a book I've read that deals with some of the same subjects raised above. While some of the examples in the book will raise an eyebrow, some of the others are absolutely fascinating, such as the way elephants communicate and recognize the carcasses of relative elephants if they come upon them.

Warning!! Blasphemy ahead!! This site is called HeritiCards, which is "fun for the whole damned family." (via Blue Ruin) Pretty funny stuff for the non-easily offended crowd. It kind of reminds me of the Landover Baptist Church spoof site, which is also pretty damned funny.

Re: the ISSN post yesterday, as an official Journalist, I think I'll post special editions from time to time. Saturday is the Big XII championship game and thus should warrant a pregame special. I also am taking the LSAT that day, but I figure I'll find enough time to post a few links.


Sucks to be right all the time. Only a dusting of snow fell last night, although we've been getting a little off and on today. Too much for flurries, too little for snow showers. I always get amused by the different classifications for snow. In Oklahoma it's always "flurries" or "snow." Here, the continuum goes from flurries to snow showers to light snow to heavy snow to blizzard and some funkiness in between. I'm also still not used to the idea of winter long snow cover.

Still not sure what a blog is? This article goes over the phenomenon again. As I pointed out in my opening post, many webloggers are a part of Metafilter and as any article appears in the media, it gets posted there and then discussed ad infinitum. The discussion on this article is particularly amusing and includes statements like "I for one am HEARTILY bored of reading articles where I'm not mentioned... " That's funny. I suppose if you're blogging for recognition by the blog community the fact that only 10 blogs ever get mentioned by these articles could chap your hide, but as far as I'm concerned this particular site is for friends and family, and myself, too, as it's organized my links far better than any favorites or bookmark configuration. Oh, and for Barbelith, the person I quoted above, here's his site.

Stupid statistic of the day: Over 75% of visitors to my site use Netscape.

Maggie is back at work today for the first time in nearly two weeks. She had nearly 50 voice mails and over 175 emails to clean up. Yowzers! When I went back Monday I had two voice mails and only about 50 emails. I guess she is more valuable to her company than I am to mine. She has administrator status on this blog, also, and I've invited her to post to it, but I think she's worried about being tarred with the geek brush. Ah, screw it. I would classify myself as more of a "dork" than a "geek" but it's pretty subjective.

To all the people living in Fiji, Bangladesh, Vanatau, and New Orleans, I am sorry about the failure of the US and others to come up with a strategy for dealing with global warming. Enjoy your homes for now.

Please note that this weblog's application for an ISSN is pending. An ISSN is the international code number that tracks periodicals for libraries and databases. Of course it's a periodical; all I need to do really is have an

intention to continue
publishing indefinitely and
being issued in
designated parts.

I do that! Note at the end of every post there's a bit about posted by (me) at ***link***. That link is to the archive where each of these posts will be saved in perpetuity. That also qualifies as a designated part. What it also does is make this eligible for posting debate evidence that would be acceptable for use in a debate round. I can't wait to post articles about how various things will lead to nuclear war.


I just got back from Duluth, where I went to send out a bunch of inventory and have a nice drive. Mag came with me, and so did Relffits. While I was working Mag went antique shopping and found some stuff that I would talk about but may very well wind up as Christmas presents. Afterwards, we ate lunch at Grandma's, which was wonderful, but I had a bad selection, namely:

The Monte Cristo
A triple decker of thinly-sliced ham, smoked turkey, Swiss and American cheese, layered on Texas toast,
breaded and deep fried. Served with fresh fruit. $8.99

Not the most intelligent choice before the two hour car ride, if you get my drift.

Snow is predicted tonight in the 2-5 inch range. I have a standing statement with Bob and Gary at the office that a four or more inch snowfall means they can expect me late or not at all. Come on, blizzard! Unfortunately, I know in my heart that we'll struggle all night to barely make it to two inches and I'll still have to go to work in the morning, but a man can dream, right?

It came from outer space?

My mom sent me this link about people who fantasize about getting their healthy limbs amputated. That's pretty sick. I bet Haygruh has a strong opinion about that, too.

We found out our car is dead. Kaput. Tot. We have talked extensively on our options, and are leaning towards getting a new one. Suggestions are solicited. It really sucks that of the Minnesota family the only one truly proficient in the process of buying a car was Jerry. I am learning a lot on the fly as I research our options. Fortunately, Art, a friend of the family was always thought highly of by Jerry as a good car buyer, so I am getting some help from him. He told me about the Kelly Blue Book site which is a good place to start. He also told me about this site, which has an incredible amount of stuff. Art was soft selling his style and success in a typical Minnesota understated manner, but after reading that last site, which he highly recommended reading, I now have a picture of him going in there with a thick folder of reports, invoice information and rebate and incentives intelligence organized by expiration date. I'm not sure I'm that hard core.


First day back to work since Jerry's death. I've added a bunch of links to the left, and de-centered them as well. It's pretty sad that I have so many more links on my work computer than the one at home. I even have more links that I didn't put up, but some of them don't exactly fit in the neat categories I put up. A good example would be Molly Ivins' column, which I do read a couple of times a week, but I figure if there's anything spectacularly good I can always just link to it in my entries here. Another choice that is always good is the News of the Weird site. I've actually gotten a few submissions into the NOTW and if I get time I'll link specifically to those. I'm also somewhat fond of checking for neighbors of mine in the St Paul police prostitution arrest shame page. I've never seen any, but at least before the Payne Reliever closed my neighborhood was WELL REPRESENTED in the weekly arrests. Oh, but all those pictured are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Eventually, I'd like to classify further the blogs listed. I've noticed in my surfing there seem to be a lot of Minnesota blogs. The only one I have linked to the left is Dack, but I know I've seen at least three others. There are probably dozens. A pillar of the blog community is Kottke's site, which used to be a Minnesota blog, but he just moved to California, as documented in this New Yorker article. This publicity has been hashed and rehashed on the web so much by bloggers that I shudder to link it here, but most people who are seeing this site aren't really of the weblogging ilk anyway.
I also enjoy some Australian weblogs. The only link I have right now is the Age, which is in the Pro Blogs category, although I think it's more properly semi-pro, like the Obscure Store. I linked the Virulent Memes blog on my first post, which is also Aussie, and I visit a couple others on an infrequent basis. I suppose I'll do that as I get around to it. Same goes for the British blogs. Linkmachinego is a Brit amateur blog, as is Blue Ruin (a site I really like) and the Guardian is a (fully) pro Brit blog.

In the interest of fairness, I should also probably put some of Valerie's links on too, but I suspect she has as many sites she regularly visits as I do, so I'm not sure I want to open that can of worms. Val, just start your own blog and I'll link to it. In the meantime, all the other geeks really like this site. :)



Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey, those were great cookies. Can I get the recipe?

When eating your turkey, do you ever wonder, is the rumor true that turkeys are so dumb they'll look up and drown in a rainstorm? (Link out of the Straight Dope archive)

Let's give thanks to Mr. Gutenburg. (Link via Robot Wisdom.)

Let's give thanks for a stable Solar System. At least I hope it's stable.

Mag and I are going over to the Stiffler house to eat dinner and watch the Vikings game. Jerry and I were going to watch it, and we were pretty sure we'd have to fight the women to let us keep it on and not just change it to Anne of Avonlea or Pride and Prejudice. Uh oh. I shouldn't have put that last one on. Now Maggie will know that version is available on DVD. The six tape box set is bad enough. I'm just glad she has to share it with Krista and Dianne. Anyway, I'm watching that game whether I have to fight them off with a drumstick or not.


The last few days have been really surreal. Yesterday was the visitation and funeral, and there was obviously some strong regional character in what happened there. I am used to the usual protocol being a visitation period at the funeral home or just before the funeral in an hour long window. The visitation last night was two and a half hours long and Dianne (Jerry's wife, my mother-in-law) stayed in there the whole time. All of the kids (Mag, me, Jeron, Beth, Krista) were pretty much in and out. The funeral was upbeat and short, which is good, and the turnout was outstanding. The church was packed, standing room only. It was really cool to see so many people that were touched by him. I gave a brief eulogy, using the bit I wrote Monday as a major part of it, and then there was a dinner. That seemed a little bizarre, but I understand it's Minnesota tradition to do stuff like that. All in all, I feel a lot better about things now than I have since, and I think the rest of the family does too. I always thought that the group that spent that vacation in Germany was a core that would keep doing things for years and years and years. In fact, I know we will, even without Jerry, to keep his family going and keep his memory alive.

Maggie is an eternal optimist and always loves things to look forward to. Since normalcy has to return sometime, I'm looking forward to going fishing. Jerry loved fishing. Jeron and I were also sad that we didn't get to go turkey hunting with Jerry as we had planned this year. But, if you want to get a license, you can get it here. We're planning on doing it anyway, so I guess I have to do that application too.

Thank you, Warren G Harding, for the word normalcy.

Hey, remember when you were in school and carried around all of your books in a backpack which was usually pretty heavy? Check out these weenies.


Jerry Stiffler, 1940?-2000

Jerry Stiffler, my father-in-law, died Saturday suddenly at his home. In an age dominated by cynicism, insincerity, dishonesty and meanness, he was none of those things. In fact, he was without a doubt the nicest man I've ever known. I don't have a single memory in seven years of knowing him of a mean thing he ever said or did. His compassion was incredible, and his devotion to his family is something that I will strive to emulate every day from now on.

Last January, Jerry and I went to a Vikings game just after Maggie and I had announced our wedding date. He was happy -- no, he was jubilant. After the game, he shook my hand and said, "Welcome to the family." This conversation was some time removed from Mag and I telling him about the wedding, so I said, "Wow. Vikings games are a family initiation?" He just laughed hard and reminded me about the marriage. What a funny guy. I have so many great memories of him. I can still picture him in my head so vividly. It just really seems unreal. Two years ago we all went to Germany. It had been a dream of his to take his family to Europe for some time. He had such a great time and was consistently happy the entire trip, which is more than I can say for everyone else on it, but he held everything together by his faithfulness and youthful enthusiasm for living. Two days ago he pulled the car from where it broke down by the side of the road. That was the sort of thing he did for us it seemed on a daily basis, fixing things that broke, helping me put the Christmas lights up on the house, anything we ever asked him to do. The night before he died we went to the Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter restaurant and celebrated Krista's birthday. I'll always remember him the way he was that night -- happy as always, and drinking the same type of beer as me (Paulaner dark Hefeweizen).

Jerrry will be buried Wednesday at the Old Salem Shrine in Inver Grove Heights, where Maggie and I were married just over a month ago. I'll never forget the look on his face as he led her down the aisle. I'm really going to miss him.


Today is the third day after brewing my Hefeweizen. It's an all-extract beer, which means that I bought the malt extracts pre-made and don't actually use any grain. In the continuum of homebrewers, you can use all-extract, partial extract, and full mash. I don't think I'll ever get hard core enough to do a full mash brew. There's a lot of equipment needed, temperature monitoring, and some serious mess made. Besides, the full extract beers are already better in some cases than the microbrews you get at the store. There are stores like this one all over the country to supply zymurgists like myself, and getting started isn't that expensive.

I'm gradually learning some html to improve the page over the raw, bare bones structure you see here. I'll just say that this will never be any technological feat. Most of what you see is autogenerated, which is a testament to how cool this blogger thing really is. Last night I started figuring out the section to the left. As I get a clue that will fill up with good links.

I saw this article and thought of my good friend Haygruh, who also has one leg. I'm sure he has an opinion on this issue. Haygruh, who lives in Portland, is currently waiting out the election crisis with more than interest on the line. After he found out that his local Soil and Conservation board election had no candidates, he organized a write in effort to get himself elected. The election board is still tallying such votes.

It's snowing. It's been snowing off and on all week. Ugh. On Thursday the car broke down on the side of 494 on my way home. I started trudging into the 0 degree wind chill and got a ride from a very nice lady who stopped and let me use her cell phone. Who says Minnesota Nice is dead?

Any design help is appreciated. Email using the mailto icon below (one of the half dozen or so html commands I know). Hey, I was able to get this going knowing only three, which tells you how easy it is to start a page like this.


Hobbsblog begins.

First post here. I suppose I should introduce the page, but I think that's a waste of effort because I can't really think of anything to say. This rant in particular made me want to start blogging, mainly because I think it's pretty lame if taken seriously. I've been reading the blog it came from for probably six months or so, and it seemed somewhat out of character. I'm not sure, but I think it's a joke. There's been a moderate sized hoo-haw over at Metafilter about it, and that got my motivation to actually start this blog. That and the desire to get in on blogging before it got too popular. Ha ha. Jeff Shaw, wherever you are, I'm thinking of you when I say that.
Jeff was a friend of mine at college who was notorious for only liking things before they got popular. You know, the type that think REM's last album worth anything was Document and Prague isn't worth visiting because it isn't unknown.
Don't worry, Jeff, I still love ya even if I have no idea where you are, you haven't bothered to look me up in 4 years etc. I'm not bitter.

Then there's the election, and I will not say anything (yet) on this matter except to say that I couldn't get through to anywhere the night of the election until late -- except this site. Orvetti has been wrong about many things this election but never alone - just quicker in making the mistakes. Specifically, premature calls on Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, and all the rest. Also, Orvetti picked Maria Cantwell over Slade Gorton in Washington, who is a supremely loathsome character, and who now looks like he'll win re-election.

On the subject of blogs (weblogs to friends and family who are unversed in the terminology), the subject of an A list of blogs is another topic amusing me now. I don't understand why some people would be jealous, but apparently there are some that are. I myself am very fond of the Obscure store and reading room, a blog I consider "semi-pro" because Romenesko makes a living off of his other page, and got my first links to amateur blogs from his links on the right side of the page. As far as I'm concerned the A list is the blogs I bother to come back to. In the next couple of days I'll start putting those on.

Finally, in what little biographical information I'm putting on here, I live in St. Paul with my wife, Maggie, who works for the Minnesota Wild NHL team, and our 8-month old Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Relffits. We got her at this farm in Yankton, South Dakota. I enjoy brewing my own beer and watching football, and seeing as my hometown is/was Norman, Oklahoma, that means at this time of year it's all about the University of Oklahoma football team. Go, Sooners. Beat Tech.

This is a great site to play around in.

This is the funniest spot on the web.

This is where you can play Tangleword, the best online game. Go now. My handle is "Deathpuppy" if you see me there. I also play at Lycos with the same handle whenever I can't get in to the first linked site.