Monday, June 27, 2011

What Is This? Pork? Can I Get Some Potato Salad?

OK, so there is a fire, and it is getting really close to the highway. The trooper selects an overpass about a mile from the fire and blocks it at the exit ramp. It's pretty simple; the road is blocked by fire, you have to exit here and go north to another road. Drivers get impatient so they pull out onto the shoulder and drive up to the exit where they have to wait their turn. Good job, guys. The fire trucks now have to go onto the grass to get to the fire. Some clever motorist sees that if a water truck can drive on the grass, there is no reason why he can not. Firemen now have to cross the incoming lane, bump over to the access road then rejoin the main road after the overpass.

What was a ten minute wait has changed into a half-hour, because the trooper has to direct two lanes, two shoulders, and one grass of traffic into one, and tell each driver that they have to go north. While I'm getting instructions, a woman in the grass lane gets impatient (the trooper is making them wait the longest) drives around us, gets onto the exit, then goes back onto the highway and drives into the fire. To make matters worse, she's not the only one.

I didn't hear of any fatalities that evening on the news, so the firemen must have stopped them and made them turn back. I'll be honest here: the volunteer services are some really great people, but sometimes heroic action brings out the inner Napoleon. This isn't always a bad thing. The trooper, a paid professional state employee, has to be polite to people. The firemen, volunteers, can get all drama queen with those who cross them, to greater effect.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm Going To Pay My Doctor With These

The Chinese sure can make pretty money when they want to, can't they? A peaceful sea with old style junks on one side and a modern steamer on the other, all watched over by a dragon which effortlessly blends into the clouds above, done in dollar green with a businesslike border.

Hang on; what's that guy doing with his hands?

Turns out that it's a 1938 One Yuan Federal Reserve Bank of China note. Among collectors, there is minor controversy as to whether engravers in occupied China inserted ;-) hidden propaganda messages in their banknotes or not. The Chinese must have anticipated such discussions because this one is blindingly obvious. The only point of contention is how the Japanese authorities let this one get by.

Happily, it's reported the engraver made a clean getaway.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Building A Future Out Of The Past

I've always disliked the currency of the United States. Apart from the spooky one dollar bill, our money looks dull verging on ugly, and it's only getting worse. No one will accept the presidential $1 coins as change because they look like a crappy cheap token. We always have to take a stack to the bank.

One day though, the dollar will stop it's long and far decline, and the people will need something to reassure them that they can have faith in their money again. I think the best way to do that (apart from having a fiscally responsible government that has cast the Fed out into the wilderness) is to have currency that speaks power, wisdom, and confidence. Best way is to look to the past for inspiration, and the best example of all is the 1896 silver certificates known as the "Educational Series".

The fiver. Best of the lot.

Ah, the good old days. Half naked deities bringing electricity to America so it can be even more awesome. The rumor is that the notes were short lived because of prudishness over the overexposed goddess, but today the uproar would be over the theme of the $2 certificate, an allegory titled "Science Presenting Steam and Electricity to Commerce and Manufacture". Commerce? On money? Helped by Science? Outrageous!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Don't Need No Stinkin' Mentos

The small white object on the road in front of the blue pickup is a two liter Diet Coke bottle. I'm standing halfway to the launch spot. In my career I've had dozens of sodas spew, but none have gone as far and as straight. Must have been a perfect storm of heat, sunlight, impact angle and energy release.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I've had a major problem the last few days with something eating my tomatoes. At first, the suspect was insects or birds, but I was able to find a damaged fruit still leaking juice:

The edges were suspiciously sharp. When rotated ninety degrees the bite pattern became evident:

So what is it that takes one bite out of ripe tomatoes, is never seen and leaves no tracks on dusty ground? There can be only one conclusion: Satan. Satan is in my garden.

I felt diabolical eyes on my back. I slowly turned and snapped a photo:

Seriously, is there anything cats can't tear up?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bless You, Ed Anger

You speak for America.

I have to say the Weekly World News was my favorite tabloid. When everyone else was turning to celebrity gossip or at least pretending to offer useful information, WWN kept up the steady stream of alien encounters, Domesday predictions and crank cures that gave tabloids their good name. They also knew how to bow out gracefully, downsizing to a few pages in the Sun and going online rather than compromise their journalistic integrity. Lohan did what? "Mean Girls"? Anything else worth noting? It took the WWN to point this out to everyone else in the industry.

I really should get the comic book as a sign of solidarity.