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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The State Patrol Sucks Too

I didn't want to grinch on everyone's parade or badmouth the holidays, but the holidays officially fucking suck. I'm glad they're over. I'm glad things will go back to normal.

And I'm not just saying that because I got pulled over on the way home tonight. Hey, officer, I know that everyone else is out drinking and driving, but I'm actually commuting.

Yeah, it's party time for the world. Just another Wednesday for me.

Happy New Year

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to ring in the New Year with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper. Actually, wait...

I won't be ringing in the new year with Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper, but it's nice to know that they're there if I need them.

Coach Speculation

So Bill Cowher doesn't want to coach Brett Favre. Okay, fine.

But does he want to coach Jay Cutler???

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On Shanahan

Just as I get ready to write a post about the stupidity of firing your head coach after a bad season, the Broncos go and fire Mike Shanahan.

I'm still a bit in shock, and I'm also worried. Now what, Pat Bowlen?

Are you going to turn us into the Chargers, rebuilding every three years? The Lions?

Say what you want about Mike Shanahan, at least we were consistently good under him. We didn't make the playoffs every year, but during the last thirteen years of Shanahan's tenure, the Broncos have only had two seasons below .500.

In the same time, the Chargers had six head coaches and five losing seasons. The Jets...five head coaches since 1995, five losing seasons. The Lions: seven head coaches, ten losing seasons.

I hope we don't go down that road. A new coach every three years, rebuilding every other. That's no fun at all.

So so long, Mike, and thanks for all the wins.

Aurora Cops Suck

A co-worker was telling me the tale of how her sister's house had been broken into over the weekend. It took the cops two hours to show up on the scene. Two hours that she spent freezing in her car, waiting for a black and white to do a drive-by.

I told her that she should have told them that someone was dumping trash in her Dumpster, because three squad cars and a tow-truck would show up within ten minutes, ready to kick ass and take names. I know that for a fact.

Bush the Magic Reader

Karl Rove says President Bush read 95 books last year. I say bullshit.

You mean to tell me that he's reading two books a week? When? I'm a lowly network technician who loves to read, and I can barely manage one a week. I just don't have the time.

If the President has that much spare time...something's wrong. But then again, that's been apparent for a number of years now.

Irony

The blogger who complains about the internetz being boring during the holidays goes on a blogstorm...and then for four days, writes nothing.

Mychal Bell, one of the six black teenagers that beat up a white kid in Jena, Louisiana and then tried to justify it by saying, "I was racismed against," shot himself in the chest Monday after getting caught shoplifting last week. Unfortunately, "Whitey" can't be blamed in this case.

Whitey had an alibi. He was busy distributing the "Barack the Magic Negro" song to loyal Republican voters.

(This race issue is so complicated, innit? Punk kids use it as a defense, and doofus politicians use it to promote their party. It's such a versatile tool, one wonders why we don't try to organize our society around it. Oh, wait...tried that already.)

On a completely different topic, I saw a headline somewhere that I can't find now that a "shark activist was killed by a shark," and I thought, hmmm, that's ironic, but then I started thinking, "What the hell is a shark activist?"

Save the sharks? From what? Hey, I know they are living creatures, vulnerable to all the hazards of life, but sharks have been around for a loooooooong time. Of all the species out there to protect, I think sharks are the only ones saying, "Uh, no thanks, we don't need your help. We're doing just fine on our own."

Mankind, on the other hand, could use a little help. Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Internetz Movez On, Or The Perils of Highlighting

I hate it when I buy a book that someone else has highlighted. It's a hazard of buying a lot of used books, especially on the internet, but it doesn't make it any less annoying. Take a look at this one.

This is from an 806 page tome called The Faith by Brian Moynahan, which I got used for a couple bucks on Amazon. Billed as a "History of Christianity," it's one of those books that would be highlighted, as opposed to the John D. Macdonald mysteries I also buy, but there's no reason to highlight the entire page. Literally...the entire page, except for two sentences, a couple Bible verses, and the fucking footnotes.

I would recommend to this person that they just cross out the irrelevent stuff next time. Thankfully they stopped after the third chapter, so either they ran out of highlighter or put the book down. I'm guessing the latter, as someone who would highlight that much isn't very studious to begin with.

Another less egregious example came from a more recent cheapo purchase on Amazon with The Ancient Maya, compiled by Robert J. Sharer. I have an old version of this book compiled by Sylvanus G. Morley in 1956 (mine is the '77 printing) that is literally falling apart. The cover is held on with masking tape, and inside we're dealing with 1950s era knowledge.

The Morley edition is fascinating reading, but a lot has happened in Maya studies since 1956. They can read Mayan glyphs now! So now instead of just reading about ruins and potsherds, you're reading about royal dynasties and great battles. There's more history, less mystery.

Now we don't have to listen to Erich Von Daniken speculate that Lord Pacal's sarcophagus lid depicts a Mayan driving a flying saucer, we can read the side and see that it says "Here lies Lord Pacal, Born 615 AD, Died 683 AD."

At 892 pages, The Ancient Maya (5th Edition) is also a book worth highlighting. But I won't do that. The first three chapters are already highlighted, and besides, there's nothing highlighting can do for you that can't be accomplished by just reading the text again.

The Internetz Iz Boring

Doing my Seinfeld...

You ever notice how the internet gets real boring around the holidays? All the bloggers are on vacation. The news gets slow and silly. A santa cam? A top ten list?

I mean, internet content providers, you (we?) do realize that in this 24 by 7, 365 day globalized world we live in that some people (and mostly I mean me) don't get to go back home and spend warm and fuzzy time with their families. We don't get a few days to mess around and relax, wear our new reindeer sweaters and drink hot cocoa by the tree.

And we need shit to read. So how about this...in June or July or something, you know, earlier in the year, write some stuff and put it on standby. Just so that when you check out for a week in December, I can continue my daily routine without interruption.

Sounds like a plan to me. Whatdya say?

Christmas Memories

There was that one year when we all got tapes. There were three Metallica tapes and one other one. My stepbrother Nick got And Justice for All. Nate got Ride the Lightning. Jason got Master of Puppets.

And I got New Kids on the Block. It was like Santa Claus was laughing at me.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Now I Have a Machine Gun Ho Ho Ho

Oh yeah, it's Christmas! *

So Merry Christmas, Bitches!

Two points for whoever gets the allusion in the title.

Hint: It's my favorite Christmas movie.

* Also known as "Just another workday for me."

The Ownership Society Dodge

Everyone knows I'm no fan of George Bush. (Although I suspect he will be my favorite ex-president. I mean, he seems like an alright guy...as long as he's not running the country --into a ditch.)

But I think he's getting a bad rap on this "ownership society" thing. A lot of journalists seem to want to peg the housing crisis on, as one commenter put it, "the stupid social engineering program to increase home ownership."

Sorry, dude, but it wasn't stupid.

Despite the crappy housing market, owning your own home remains a good idea, one that should be promoted as much as humanly possible.

Here's why:

Unless you are comfortable living in a box, you have to live somewhere, preferably a place with a roof and running water. If it's heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, even better.

Anywhere you live, with the exception of the box, will be owned by someone. Maybe it will be a little old widow, supplementing her social security with your monthly rent. Maybe it will be a rental management company or an entrepreneur.

Regardless, someone is going to hold title to the property you call home. Will it be you?

Or are you content to rent someone else's piece of the rock for the rest of your life? I guess that depends on how self-sufficient you want to be.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

For Chi

I don't know if you heard about this, but Chi Cheng, the bassist of the deftones, has been in a coma since he was in a car accident in early November. I'm pulling for him, and you should be too.

Places I Want to Go

Macchu Picchu

More Bad Writing

While I think Arianna Huffington makes some good points about laissez-faire capitalism in this piece, this sentence is a clunker:
The problem wasn't just the bathwater; the baby itself is rotten to the core.
Say what?

Cliche, meet Mixed Metaphor. Mixed Metaphor, meet Cliche.

While it's true that you don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it's apples that are "rotten to the core." (A baby rotten to the core? What, is it a dead baby? Rosemary's Baby, maybe?)

Ironically, after Arianna's mangled metaphor she quotes William Seidman:
"This administration made decisions that allowed the free market to operate as a barroom brawl instead of a prize fight. To make the market work well, you have to have a lot of rules."
As you can see, his metaphor is a bit more coherent.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On ATM Fees

So I was working on another post and a thought occurred to me that needed it's own post: ATM fees.

Banks get away with charging them, and in many cases they are quite large, by citing the convenience to their customers. That ATMs are convenient is all too true.

However, the banks make it sound like they are inconvenienced when you use an ATM. "You get convenience," they say, "and so we must charge you for it."

But the reality is that ATMs are much, much more convenient to the banks themselves.

I have no idea how much an ATM costs to install or operate, but I know...know this in a way that doesn't require documentation...that they cost much less than constructing and staffing an actual bank. Property taxes, utilities, payroll, insurance, all of these costs are significantly reduced when you're talking about a network of ATMs as compared to a network of brick-and-mortar banks.

In the early days, a fee made a certain amount of sense. Increased costs, in this case an investment in an ATM network, are usually passed down to the consumer, but when the investment starts to pay off in the form of decreased costs, one would expect the fees to go down as well.

But that's not what has been happening. Fees have remained steady and in some cases (mostly with ATMs not affiliated with a bank) they have actually gone up.

We are so used to paying these fees (fees in general) that we don't even question whether they are justified or not, and if we do, we concoct all kinds of rationalizations that make no real economic sense.

I bought some theater tickets on the web the other day that came with fees. I was instructed by the website that if I bought the tickets at the box office, there would be no fees.

Buying these tickets from a person making a salary in a building requiring costly maintenance is actually cheaper than buying them from an automated system run on webservers at a co-located datacenter! That should not be true, but it is.

Thanks to the handy-dandy "convenience fee." So convenient, for you, but more so for them.

Greed...it used to be a deadly sin. Nowadays, it's a bedrock principle that makes the world go round.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Brief Moment of Panic

The boss called me into his office today, told me to close the door and have a seat. Then he looked at me with a straight face and said, "We're gonna have to let you go."

I knew he was bullshitting --it's bonus time-- but for a second (a nano-second, actually) I thought he was serious. He must have saw my face flush because he laughed and slapped my knee, saying, "Just kidding!"

Gee, thanks, boss! (I was right the first time; we talked about my bonus.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

On Rick Warren and his Inauguration Invocation

This is what I'll say about the Rick Warren controversy, and keep in mind this is coming from a militant atheist who doesn't pray even on Thanksgiving:

I don't care.

Rick Warren seems like a nice lady. (Not calling him gay, just saying he's a little femme, okay?) I don't follow his beliefs, but then again...I'm a militant atheist, so no surprise there.

I also don't think Obama is betraying anyone by inviting Rick Warren. Yeah, yeah, Rick Warren's an evangelical, and they are as hostile to gays as they are devoted to Jesus.

But Obama is the President of the United States --remember...not just blue states and red states, but the United States-- and he knows it.

Warren, for his part, doesn't get it. He says:
I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.
Actually, Rick...Obama's base is now all of us, and you should commend President Obama --I'm not waiting a month to drop the "elect" part-- for realizing that his base extends beyond the folks who voted for him. Yep, Rickster, you're his base now, too.

Ah, it's going to be nice to have a president like that, don't you think? I'm not on board with the attitude that says, "You had eight years with your guy. Now we have our guy, so stuff it!"

That's one of the reasons I didn't like Bush. Taking care of the "base" and giving everyone else the middle finger. That's no way to run a country as big and diverse as ours.

Pissing in the Gene Pool

These people need to stop. It's a girl! Duggars welcome 18th child
"The ultimate Christmas gift from God," said Jim Bob Duggar, the father of the 18 children. "She's just absolutely beautiful, like her mom and her sisters."

The Duggars now have 10 sons and eight daughters.
I know the book says "Be fruitful and multiply" but, seriously, isn't say...6 enough? I know "8 is enough" because I remember the TV show from my youth. But 18? Give your poor wife a break, dude!

And show some concern for the rest of us. I'm not talking overpopulation or carbon footprints. I'm talking about the genetic diversity of the species. I'm sure the Duggars are nice people, but that doesn't mean that the homo sapiens of the 23rd century should all have Duggar DNA!

Places I Want to Go

Tikal

From Wikipedia:
Tikal was one of the major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Though monumental architecture at the site dates to the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 to 900 AD, during which time the site dominated the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica, such as central Mexican center of Teotihuacan. There is also evidence that Tikal was even conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bad Writing

I wanted to finish reading this post, but I was too busy laughing about the first sentence.
By now, it’s widely known that Jon Favreau, Barack Obama’s soon-to-be director of speechwriting, was caught in a photo fondling the breast of a cardboard cut-out of Senator Clinton while another Obama staffer holds a bottle of beer to her lips.
Um...Not to be technical or anything, but cardboard cut-outs don't have breasts.

Also, "was caught in a photo." That's not exactly what went down. Favreau posed for the photo, with a smile even, and then posted it to his Facebook page. His hand is, indeed, cupping the cardboard cut-out's non-existent breast and his friend is pouring beer (not really) down its non-existent throat. But bad just isn't bad enough sometimes, I guess.

Sometimes you have to put breasts on cardboard and "catch" someone in a photo that they themselves posted to the internet.

Freedom

Uncle Jim called me an asshole the other day. I know what you're thinking, but it was well-earned. I was an asshole. He sent me an e-mail by Baxter Black, a cowboy poet, and for the most part, Baxter was right on, talking about how America is a great place to live and how we should count our blessings. Good stuff, but then he started talking about the soldiers and how they're "directly responsible for the freedom I enjoy."

I called bullshit, as I have been known to do. In the comments to that post, I said this:
I commend [the soldiers'] service, and commend his brothers and sisters in arms (one of whom was my brother). They volunteered to serve their country and they did.

But this does not mean they are by default fighting to protect my freedom any more than they're fighting to preserve the union. My freedom is not at stake in Iraq.
I still stand by that.

Are the men and women in uniform fighting for their country? Most definitely.

Fighting for my freedom? No fucking way.

Anyway, I've been letting this thought percolate in my subconscious for a few days and then I was reading this article on prison life. And all the percolating subconscious thoughts came bubbling up.

You want to talk about freedom? Forget the purple thumbs of Iraqi voters. Forget about IEDs and insurgent plots. Let's talk about this stuff:
Call me paranoid (and indeed, many people have), but the many arms of law enforcement have broadened and strengthened their powers to an extent which would have seemed unbelievable just a decade ago.

The list of ominous indicators is long and getting longer, including warrantless wiretaps, innocent people killed or traumatized during no-knock drug busts based on bogus tipoffs, random traffic stops in search of drivers who have had two beers and will be hauled straight to jail, search-and-seizure of laptops by immigration officers, suspension of constitutional rights for anyone suspected of “terrorist acts,” tasering of citizens who ask why they’re being arrested, harassment of tourists taking photographs in public places, grandmothers fined tens of thousands of dollars because kids used their computers for file sharing, seventeen-year-old boys jailed for having sex with sixteen-year-old girlfriends, men stigmatized for life as “sex criminals” because they urinated in public, photo-radar systems that can track vehicle movements by using character recognition of license plates, naive wives of drug dealers imprisoned for years as “couriers,” and revival of the archaic offense of criminal libel, raising the risk of prison time if you post a little too carelessly on Craig's List. I used to view law enforcement as a source of protection; today I tend to see it more as an instrument of intimidation.
I'm with you on that one, bud.

And I'm not just saying that because I was treated like a criminal for throwing trash in a Dumpster. Or because the TSA can't tell the difference between the kindly grandmother type, like my Mom, and someone with nefarious plans, like a terrorist.

Freedom? Like the freedom to smoke what I want, where I want? Sorry, James, the Marine Corps don't fight for that kind of freedom.

You can smoke tobacco...outside. And count yourself lucky that we haven't decided to ban cigarettes altogether! And if we do, don't expect the Army to come restore your rights.

Are you gay? Well guess what, bud. You can forget about codifying any relationship you'll ever have, and don't even think about serving your country. Okay, think about it, but don't tell anyone.

Where are the special forces commandos preserving their freedom? Sorry, dude, they're too busy playing National Security games in the Mideast. Yeah, you didn't get the memo? Iraqi freedom is what the military provides, American freedom? Not so much.

The whole thing calls to mind that line from Ali:
If I want to die, I'll die right here, right now, fightin' you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Vietcong, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won't even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won't even stand up for my rights here at home.
I guess, in the end, my point is you want to give someone props for providing me freedom...then we should probably make sure they're actually providing me freedom.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Goodbye Kiss From Your Friends in Iraq

Props to President Bush for dodging not one, but two perfectly aimed shoes to the head.

I love the look on Bush's face after he dodges the first shoe. It's almost like his half-cocked grin is saying, "Missed me, bitch."

And what am I to make of the shoe-thrower's shouting afterwards? Are they pulling his hair or what? He sounds like Curly from the Three Stooges after getting knocked in the head by Mo.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dealing With Fools

Twenty five minutes I spent dealing with you idiots today. Twenty five minutes for something that takes two. Twenty five minutes trying to figure out just the right single syllable words to use that will make you actually understand what I was talking about.

I get that complicated technical acronyms like "TMS" is beyond your comprehension level.

But what I don't get is why you're so fucking stupid? Sorry if that sounds mean, but what else could it be? I gave you simple directions in clear simple language. "Pull the power cable from the computer."

That's not hard. It is hard, however, if you don't know what a computer is or are unable to distinguish a power cable from, say, a network cable. But if that's the case.....

WHY AM I EVEN TALKING TO YOU?

You can't help me. I can't help you. So what's the point? Put someone on who has a brain.

Updated: Man, that idiot put me in a REAL bad mood. Breeeeeeathe, James.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Heart Polamalu

I've been getting a lot of shit from the guys at work whenever I gush over Troy Polamalu, but hey...I'm willing to take the hit. Troy Polamalu is the best defensive player in football these days. The guy is involved in almost every play, never gives up, flies around with no concern to his personal safety and to top it off, he's a lot of fun to watch.

I'm not afraid to admit it. The dude is aweome.

(This commercial is awesome too. David Fincher directed it.)

Joe the Phony

I don't mean to pile on Joe the Plumber. I mean, the guy is a plumber...or he was before he became a media sensation...so really, who gives a fuck, right? In the big scheme of things, Joe the Plumber is a nobody. He's just a Republican stooge with all the staying power of a disposable diaper.

The latest reports have been quite funny though.
Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, who became a household name in the final weeks of the presidential campaign, said he asked McCain why he voted for the bank bailout and was stunned by some of the answers.

"I was angry," Wurzelbacher told conservative radio host Glenn Beck on Tuesday. "In fact, I wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him."
But like a good little stooge, you didn't get off the bus. You went to the rallies and held up the signs. And on election day, I think we all know who you pulled the lever for and it wasn't the black guy.

The thing that gets me is not Joe's stooginess, but his complete and utter gullibility. He's still singing Sarah Palin's praises.

Wurzelbacher also campaigned with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. He had only praise for her, calling Palin the real deal.

"It disgusts me on how often they try to bash her just for her sincerity," he said. "She really wants to work for America."
Joe. Listen to me carefully, Joe.

When you spend a hundred and fifty grand on clothes, when you drop twenty grand on make-up, when you get this deer-in-headlights look when Charlie Gibson asks you about the Bush Doctrine, you are NOT the real deal. You are a stuffed shirt.

The chick who knows her stuff, even if she's not much to look at? That's the real deal.

And what's this "she really wants to work for America" crap? Which America, Joe? The "real" America that thinks a gussied up know-nothing is "the real deal?" Or the rest of us who aren't so gullible?

Joe the Plumber? More like Joe the Chump.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Few Things

In this time of change and upheaval, it's nice to see that the English-as-a-second-language crowd at 7-11 are entirely reliable. You can ask them nicely for a "carton of Marlboro Lights" but all they will hear is "Marlboro Lights" and instead of producing a carton, they'll set down a single pack. Perhaps it's not incompetence. Maybe they're just looking out for my health.

I had a catastrophic contact failure at the grocery store today. It rolled up under my eye lid, the end result of which was me, wandering blindly down the canned goods aisle, tears streaming down my face as I asked the kind sighted people where I could find the restroom.

Having seen the movie a half dozen times now, I think I can say that Tropic Thunder is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I have since taken to talking to my dogs in Lincoln Osiris's voice. "You hungry? Yeah, man. How bout a little dog food? That's what I'm talking about." My dog Jack is deaf so he can't hear me, but I find it endlessly amusing.

That and whenever I need to make some kind of excited exhortation I now say "Big ass titties!" Say it with me: "Big ass titties!"

Last week, the neighbors with the annoying dog moved out. I'm not sure if they were evicted or what, but they left a lot of stuff behind. They took their dogs though, which was a good thng. This week some more people are moving in...with even more annoying dogs. One of them looks like, and I shit you not, a chihuahua mixed with a pit bull. I heard the little beast yipping and yapping earlier today and wondered how I was ever going to get used to it.

Woah, boy, when they said Chicago politics were corrupt they weren't joking, were they? I still find it the height of hilarity that Jesse Jackson Jr. is in the middle of it too. The apple truly doesn't fall far from the tree. (Is there a Jesse Jackson III out there, or are we done with these clowns yet?)

The boss, who supported McCain, asked me how I felt about "my boy" Obama now. I laughed and said I was glad they were finding this out now. What I find comforting is that no one is defending Blagojevich except Blagojevich himself. If Blagojevich was a Republican, I expect he would have more defenders.

You know, like when White House hacks exposed a CIA agent, or when the president decided the Geneva conventions were, ahem, quaint.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Operation Mongoose

Alright, blogfriends. I've been nominated for a blog award. Yes, it's amazing, I know. What an honor.

The only problem is that I'm currently not the front runner for said award. I'm in a three-way tie for second place! This just won't do, so I'm asking everyone who cares to drop by Grant Miller's spot and vote for the Lift With Caution blog in the "Least Influential Political Blog" category.

I really want this award. (And if you've been following my rants, you know it's well-deserved too.)

So help a brother out. Shave your beard and vote twice!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Dumbest Fucking Guy on the Planet

This is rich. From the famed Glenn Reynolds:
Barack Obama, by the way, would be well-advised to take a break from reading books about FDR and read [Doug] Feith’s War and Decision. Now that the politicking is over, that book will likely get more attention, and it deserves it.
Doug Feith was one of Rumsfeld's cronies, a guy who Tommy Franks, the general in charge of both the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions, called the "dumbest fucking guy on the planet."

Sorry, Glenn, but Obama would be "well-advised" to ignore Feith's advice. And really, if you're saying "Listen to the dumbest fucking guy on the planet," what does that make you? The second dumbest fucking guy on the planet?

Feith's book, incidentally, has already received some attention, namely from Matt Yglesias, who wrote:
His book will do little to dispel the sense that his role in the presentation of pre-war intelligence claims was deliberately dishonest, since he’s produced a fundamentally dishonest book.
Get that dishonest book in the hands of the president stat!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Yeah, I Know All

Dude, what are you doing here? If you were wondering where I stand on your new love, well, you can have her. I ain't interested.

Just a little advice though, man to man. Don't loan her your car, and keep a REAL close eye on what she's doing on Myspace.

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Global Phenomenon

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when they called it the World Wide Web, they weren't joking.

I guess my blog has been around long enough and has touched on enough subjects that I get random visitors from all over the world. Granted, most of them are looking for info on Arwa Damon, but hey...I'll take what I can get.

Here's a sampling of some of the countries of origin that have visited me (in blog form) in the last few days:
Canada (Duh...Both Katrocket and Dale are regular Canadian visitors, and moreover genuine blogfriends. Still, it's international...so it counts.)
The United Kingdom (They speak English, so not much of a surprise there, either.)
Cyprus
The United Arab Emirates (Dubai specifically)
Australia
Japan
Norway
Lebanon
Sweden
Spain
The Netherlands
Ireland
India
Germany
China (Apparently I'm Great Firewall-approved)
New Zealand
Qatar
Nigeria

Yes, Nigeria.

Missing Your Targets

Via Andrew Sullivan, I came across this lucid post on why the Cinemark boycott is a bad idea. A little backstory: Cinemark's CEO donated the maximum amount (10 grand) to the Prop 8 campaign in California. When Prop 8 passed, activists in the GLBT community organized a boycott of Cinemark theaters to protest.

(Disclaimer: Cinemark Theaters is one of my company's biggest partners.)

While I don't doubt the good intentions of the boycott, it seemed to me that it was a little silly. Jennifer Vanasco explains why so I don't have to:
A boycott is bad when a company is being targeted because of the personal donations of someone in the company — especially when the company itself is pro-gay or gay neutral, as Cinemark is (it has high ranking, open gays in its leadership, it supports LGBT film festivals, it's running Milk).
To use a war analogy, the activists think they're sending a guided missile to an enemy encampment, but what they're really doing is carpet-bombing the entire valley, civilians be damned.

Free Stuff is the Best

Yesterday, this plant was sitting on the counter at work with a sign that said "Free to a good home."
And I thought, what a coincidence. The free plant finds a guy with a good home. I guess the universe isn't as hostile, conspiring for the destruction of all things, as I think it is. At least, not all the time.

I guess now we'll see if I can nurse it back to health.

This Shirt is Great

Not sure I'd actually wear it, but I love the idea. They got the cyclops from Krull on there! Bonus points for Rocky from Mask and Jerry from Enemy Mine. (I'd say the same about Sloth from The Goonies, but Sloth already has a place in the pop culture landscape. When have you ever seen a reference to Krull?!)
I love Enemy Mine. Whenever little Zammis calls Dennis Quaid "Uncle" a tear comes to my eye. That's what my nephew calls me. Not Uncle James, not James.

Just Uncle.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Good Day

I did not die on the way to work today, so I guess it was a good day.

(And I didn't even have to use my AK.)

Updated: And I made it home too. Whew...

Jon Stewart Skewers MSNBC

And they said the Daily Show wouldn't be funny or relevant after the election...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Delirium Trigger

I've read about Coheed and Cambria in my guitar magazines, but never really got into them. But I do like this song. There's some very good riffage and there's something interesting about Claudio Sanchez's slightly emo vocals.

Good News

With stories of corporate executives flying to Washington in private jets to beg for public money, even as they cash their million-dollar paychecks, it's easy to forget that there are honest-to-god decent businesspeople in the world.

Here's one example:
Even though employees at the Peer Bearing Co. no longer work for the Spungen family that recently sold the Waukegan-based ball bearings maker, they still received a turkey each this Thanksgiving in keeping with tradition.

But even better was the gift that came in mid-September, when the Spungens threw a party to celebrate the company's acquisition by a Swedish company.

They gave away $6.6 million in year-end bonuses to Peer's 230 employees, decided by a formula based on each worker's years of service.
Yes, $6.6 million dollars given to 230 employees. Not $6.6 million given to one man.

Check out this guy's story:
On the day the checks were distributed, Valentin Dima watched as co-workers broke down in tears over their bonus checks. He drove home first, then opened his envelope: $33,000. His wife received a check for a smaller amount, and the two Romanian immigrants have since taken a Caribbean cruise to celebrate.
That's amazing. America needs more companies like this.

The top-heavy corporate fraudsters? Not so much.

(I first heard about Peer Bearing from my brother, who flew out to Waukegan not too long ago for a training seminar. He came back thoroughly impressed with their business and the Spungen family in particular.)

Bad News

Yet another punk with a gun.
A 21-year-old suspect was arrested Tuesday in Thornton after allegedly firing gunshots at two people in Pecos Park.

The suspect, Jonathon Edward Suarez, of Thornton, was being held in Adams County Jail on Tuesday on attempted first-degree murder and robbery charges. More charges may be pending.
Niver Creek Middle School was put on lockdown for a couple of hours after the shooting.

Niver Creek Middle School is where my nephew goes.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

F.O.D.

You know, ladies, when you screw a guy over, saying "sorry" doesn't make it feel any better.

When you say "I never meant to hurt you" after you cheat on a guy, it tends to ring a bit hollow. I mean, do drunk drivers "mean" to kill people?

When you say "I value your friendship" but take actions that basically ruin that friendship, who am I to believe? Your words...or your actions?

And the "I adore you" crap? Is that why you started seeing someone else and stopped taking my phone calls? Because you adored me? Shit, man, what would you do if you hated my guts?

Anyway, this song kind of sums up how I feel.

Another Stupid Athlete

Maybe I'm the dumb one...but it seems to me that if Plaxico Burress wasn't a millionaire out clubbing then he wouldn't need a gun. (A sad tragedy with high-paid athletes these days is that they are prime targets for lazy criminals. See, Darrent Williams, Sean Taylor.)

And if he didn't have a gun, he wouldn't have shot himself in the leg at a club.

I know, I know. If you wanna roll with the big dogs, you have to piss in the tall grass.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Announcement

So my girlfriend is cheating on me.

Well, maybe that's too unkind. She started dating a new guy before she broke up with me. I guess technically, that's not cheating.

And I found out on Myspace.

Fucking Myspace.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Looking For Love in Ayn Rand Land

I used to know this libertarian guy who thought Ayn Rand and her objectivist philosophy was the bomb. He took a personality test once and it diagnosed him as having a mild form of Asperger's Syndrome.

He didn't have Asperger's Syndrome, but I found it curious that slavish devotion to objectivist principles could be mistaken for mental illness. (Note: I said "mistaken." I think objectivists are wrong, not crazy. I mean, yes, man is a rational being...but we are often influenced by irrational emotion. And by often, I mean often. And yes, we all act in our self interest, but any parent who has sacrificed a night of sleep to comfort a crying child would recognize that "self-interest" sometimes takes a backseat to larger concerns. Beyond that, I don't think "man" is all that good at recognizing what's in our self-interest and what's not. If we were completely rational beings, that wouldn't be a problem, but we're not, so...)

At any rate, I wonder how many objectivists recognize how, ahem, odd they can be. Here's some excerpts from user profiles on an objectivist dating site.
My name is Daniel. I consider myself to be a born-again egoist and I have dedicated the rest of my life to self-improvement. People see me as a socially inept loner because I tend to avoid superficial conversation but actually I love talking to people who like to think (the problem being I don’t know very many).
Well, you know what non-objectivists say, Daniel. Perception is reality.

Here's Chinoy from the Phillipines:
My individualism takes precedence at all costs, if not at all times.
You mean the individualism that led you to become an Ayn Rand acolyte? Because swallowing someone else's philosophy whole makes you real individualistic, bud.

Here's Rob, who takes this form of individualism to ridiculous lengths:
Ayn Rand ignited the fire within me that was searching for the right spark. My every action is guided according to my philosophy, and my philosophy is the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

I am interested in meeting someone that truly embodies the values and virtues of Objectivism. I have found very few women that have not already been beaten down to a flimsy, irrational, empty pulp. I have changed many girls’ lives, but no one has blown me away yet.

I never “hook-up” randomly, I never kiss a girl that doesn’t deserve mine. I have yet to find a girl deserving of my falling in love with her. But “other people” are secondary values no matter what, so finding someone is not a priority for me.
Um, Rob, I'm not surprised you haven't found anyone to blow you away, considering how "other people are secondary values no matter what."

Maybe these guys would have better luck if they stowed the ego and acknowledged that human weakness is universal, even within themselves.

Sloppy Eggs

I talked to a guy from West Virginia yesterday that sounded exactly like Jesco White. Must be an Appalachian thing.
Tired of eating sloppy eggs? Make em your own damn self, then.

(I first encountered Jesco White on The Atomic Bitchwax's first record in the intro to the song Shit-kicker. "You talk about a warped mind, I got one.")

Friday, November 28, 2008

Modus Operandi

As events unfold, it seems that the idea that the Mumbai attackers were "targeting westerners" is loosing some currency.
Some experts said the operation bore resemblances to plots orchestrated by al-Qaeda, in that it involved multiple, simultaneous attacks targeting foreigners. In this case, according to witnesses, the gunmen sought out Americans and Britons, and also took hostages at the local headquarters of an Orthodox Jewish group.

Others said they were dubious of a connection to Osama bin Laden's organization. They said al-Qaeda has relied on suicide bombers, not gunmen, and is not known to have cells in India.

David Miliband, Britain's foreign secretary, told reporters that it was "premature to talk about links to al-Qaeda" and that it was still unclear who the intended targets were. "This is only the latest in a series of attacks in India over the last year or two," he said, adding, "Terrorism is not just a war against the West."
No, it's not. It's a tactic, used by a variety of bad people in a variety of bad ways for a variety of bad purposes.

And like I said before, it's a complex problem not served or addressed by hysterical oversimplifications.

Black Friday

I went to Bass Pro Shops to take advantage of their 5-hour after-Thanksgiving sale this morning. They had polar fleeces for $10, which is a steal, and I wanted to pick up at least two of them since the arctic conditions at the job keeps me shivering most days.

The place was a madhouse. Lines ten deep. Shoppers shoulder to shoulder. Economically-depressed deal-seakers clawing at deeply discounted merchandise in a feeding frenzy of Thanksgiving proportions.

And of course, I had to pick the slowest line.

I got my two fleeces though, and with that, I'm done with Black Friday. It was not a pleasant experience.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

While you were eating turkey and watching football, I was...eating turkey and watching football, and making over $50 an hour at the job.

We never close.

Same thing tomorrow, too.

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight

From the moment I got into work yesterday until we finally changed the channel, I watched the Mumbai massacre unfold live on CNN, the Communist News Network as Uncle Jim calls it. It was carnage. Fires, bloody civilians, scared police, scrambling commandos. The death toll kept changing. First it was 200, then it went down to something like 120.

One thing, though, remained constant. They were targeting westerners, specifically Americans and Brits.

At first, that seemed almost plausible. There were witness reports that the terrorists demanded to know who held passports from the US and the UK. The attacks were coordinated on a lot of places westerners might be: hotels, restaurants, that kind of thing.

And yet, the latest news report says this:
The death toll from the series of coordinated attacks was at 125, including at least six foreigners, by Thursday evening authorities said. An Italian and Briton were among the confirmed dead.

Another 327 people were wounded in the attacks, including seven British, three American and two Australian citizens.
That's not targeting westerners. That's killing indiscriminately.

And yet, because of the initial reports, there will still be people pulling out that old Bush trope, "They want to kill Americans because they hate our freedoms." Um...not exactly. That's an oversimplification of a very complex problem.

How can we fight these terrorists if we can't even be honest with ourselves about their methods and motivations? Short answer: We can't.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Natural Bedfellows and Silly Diversions

This is hilarious. Al Qaeda complaining about the media's pro-Obama bias.

I know a certain ideological college professor from Tennessee who voiced similar complaints.

Meanwhile, the Professor embeds this joke of a video:

I'm a bit tired of the Angry Left trope. Yes, Keith Olbermann is insufferably smug, but that Terry Tate video was funny.

But you wanna talk anger, let's talk about this guy:

A Related Thought

In my last post, I asked:
If life begins at conception, why the need for the gestation period? Why not pop out fully formed from your father's head like Athena? Why bother the female with nine months of hell? Oh, right...the Garden of Eden thing.
Thinking about that a little more, I wonder how elephants offended God so bad that he made their gestation period lasts almost two years?

Horses get it for almost a year. (I told you, Mr. Ed, not to eat that apple. Now Mrs. Ed is gonna really suffer!) We humans, with our nine month averages, got off easy!

(God must really like snakes, too. Not only did he eliminate that whole live-birth thing for them, but he gave them the ability to reproduce without having sex! Yes, true parthogenesis. Kind of contradicts the whole, you will lie on your belly in the dust and your head will be crushed thing, huh?)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Wake-Up That Wasn't

I had such high hopes for this piece:

A Wake-up Call For Conservatives: It was the Right who delivered America to the Democrats.

I've been peripherally aware of the "Now what we do?" discussions amongst right-wing thinkers, but I've been disappointed with the results. There does seem to be some consensus that social conservatives are to blame, more specifically their strange fascination with homosexuality and their equally strange fixation on the (settled since 1973) issue of abortion.

To me, these are simple things. I like girls and I don't really care what you like. I'll never have an abortion --don't have the right anatomy for it-- nor would my lifestyle require one if the subject came up. And sorry, guys, but according to all the documentation I've accumulated in my 32 years, my life started when I was born.

I didn't get to drink nine months early. I mean, I'm reasonably sure that I arrived when nature, or God*, or my Mom, said I should arrive and not one second earlier.

Or am I going to get an amended birth certificate that says I'm nine months older? No? So we're not going to grandfather this whole life-begins-at-conception thing, then? Oooooookay.

At any rate, I was sorely disappointed by this "Wake-up Call for Conservatives." A comment I left captures the gist of it:

“There are liberals who go to college, get a journalism degree, and work their way up through the ranks for years — somewhere like the New York Times — all so that they can be in a position to effect change (in their case, slant stories in order to help causes and candidates they care about).”

Are you gonna name names or am I just going to take your generalization of the liberal boogeyman for granted?

This part was just downright ridiculous: “Or a liberal will go to college and become a teacher primarily so that he can effect change — and be in a position to feed their point of view to young minds, who will then vote for his side down the road.”

Riiiiight, because in the modern world teachers really are that influential.

Also “Free Mumia?” I haven’t seen a “Free Mumia” sign since 99!

So while I agree that conservatives screwed it up by not being very conservative, I think you should also start looking at the straw men you’re arguing against.

You got beat by REAL political opponents, but you keep fighting against cartoon caricatures.

Free Mumia…sheesh.
If there's a wake-up call, I hope it's that.

If you fight straw men, you'll always win. But you'll vanquish no one.





* (I'm always confused by these esoteric religious notions, like life begins at conception, or homosexuality is an aberration. They seem to assume that even God doesn't know what he's doing.

If life begins at conception, why the need for the gestation period? Why not pop out fully formed from your father's head like Athena? Why bother the female with nine months of hell? Oh, right...the Garden of Eden thing.

And the gay people that pop up in every generation? God has no purpose for them? Even if it's beyond our feeble human understanding? They're just lost souls at the mercy of Satan? Sorry, dude, but the Garden of Eden only exists in stories and Satan is just a character in an old pulp magazine.

We're talking about the real world here, not the Expanded Universe of Judeo-Christian mythology.)

My Man

I keep getting these e-mails from my aunt, trying to beat that "uneducated" thing into the ground, I guess.

She says:
This is really something to watch and see just what I said before the people who voted for Obama really didn't know anything and were very uneducated. This is so pretty sad indeed.
She then links to some documentary I didn't watch. Whatever.

Then I run across stuff like this:
[O]ne of the things I hope my presidency helps to usher in is a, a return to an ethic of responsibility.

That if you're placed in a position of power, then you've got responsibilities to your workers. You've got a responsibility to your community. Your share holders. That if -- there's got to be a point where you say, 'You know what, I have enough, and now I'm in this position of responsibility, let me make sure that I'm doing right by people, and, and acting in a way that is responsible.' And that's true, by the way, for members of Congress, that's true for the president, that's true for Cabinet members, that's true for parents. I want all of us to start thinking a little bit more, not just about what's good for me, but let's start thinking about what's good for our children, what's good for our country. The more we do that, the better off we're going to be.

WALTERS: Should bank executives -- it's almost Christmas time -- forgo their bonuses?

OBAMA: I think they should. That's an example of taking responsibility. I think that if you are already worth tens of millions of dollars, and you are having to lay off workers, the least you can do is say, "I'm willing to make some sacrifice as well, because I recognize that there are people who are a lot less well off, who are going through some pretty tough times."
I agree 100% and that's why I sleep soundly at night. Here's a guy who knows the true meaning of "moral values." (And it ain't got nothing to do with stem cells, okay?)

You can call that "spreading the wealth" or "socialism" or whatever you want to call it. I call it doing the right thing.

Cold Hard Reality

Holy fuck.

Check this out:
Jim Bianco of Bianco Research crunched the inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout has cost more than all of these big budget government expenditures – combined:

• Marshall Plan: Cost: $12.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $115.3 billion
• Louisiana Purchase: Cost: $15 million, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $217 billion
• Race to the Moon: Cost: $36.4 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $237 billion
• S&L Crisis: Cost: $153 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $256 billion
• Korean War: Cost: $54 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $454 billion
• The New Deal: Cost: $32 billion (Est), Inflation Adjusted Cost: $500 billion (Est)
• Invasion of Iraq: Cost: $551b, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $597 billion
• Vietnam War: Cost: $111 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $698 billion
• NASA: Cost: $416.7 billion, Inflation Adjusted Cost: $851.2 billion

TOTAL: $3.92 trillion
You know who's responsible?

Poor people.

(Bullshit.)

Chinese Democracy

I've had about a week to chew over Axl's new record, so I feel condfident when I say that A) It's more November Rain than Welcome to the Jungle, B) Axl needs to grow the fuck up already, and C) there are some strangely effective ear-worms mixed in with all the dross.

The first point isn't that big a deal if you prefer the piano-playing swimming-with-dolphins Axl as opposed to the strapped-in-an-electric-chair screaming-like-a-banshee Axl. Axl still screams like a banshee, but he's not one for stripped-down "rock" simplicity. You might have thought that you needed guitars, drums and a bass to make a rock song. Not so, Axl says. You need a piano, an assortment of sythesizers and samples, maybe a mandolin and a harp. Ah hell, just throw in a full symphony orchestra and you're guaranteed to get that epic sound.

Trying to find a song that doesn't have a sample or orchestral swell is like trying to find a bush in the pages of Playboy magazine these days. You're just not going to see it.

That's not neccesarily a bad thing, as some of the strongest numbers on Chinese Democracy aren't the maudlin rock epics, but instead are the quirky numbers like If the World or Sorry. For some reason, I've been listening to those songs more than the "rockers."

If the World is one of them, which is strange because it's straight-up disco funk. You can almost see the roller skates cruise by in short shorts and long socks. What's even more unusual is that Axl sings the song in his signature high-pitched warble, when you would think some good old R&B melisma would be called for. I'm not sure if I like the song or just the fact that its so unique and weird. (Axl as a crooner? When you see him turn up his coattails as he sits down at the piano, all pretense of being a tough-guy rocker is dropped in favor of being a Hot Topic Liberace.)

Then there's Sorry, another one of the slower songs. With its slow, building pace and strange diversions into accented singing --I thought Axl was from Indiana, not Jamaica-- it actually has an interesting chorus. It's a little droney, but drone isn't bad when done well, and I'd argue that Sorry is drone done well. I do have to admit, though, that when Axl sings, "I'll kick your ass like I said I would," he sounds like a little dog whose bark is bigger than his bite.

Axl, are you talking to Tommy Hilfiger or what? Real men don't threaten to kick someone's ass. They just do it. And I'd say that anyone who does say, "I'll kick your ass," has very little ability to make good on their promises. (Remember that song on one of the Use Your Illusion records called "Get in the Ring" where Axl calls out all the rock-writers who wrote bad things about him in magazines? More fake tough-guyness. Real tough guys aren't that sensitive, and when their feelings do get hurt, they don't write a song about it. That's the heavy bag was invented for.)

In the final analysis, Chinese Democracy is more of an embarassment for Axl than a triumph, and not because it was so long in the making. It's a pretentious over-produced, ultimately soulless record. What soul it does show, reveals a tiny emotionally-retarded man whose moment has definitely passed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Knew It

The bartender from Bender's Tavern (which would have been practically empty if me and Ginger hadn't stopped by for a drink after dinner) was the dude that was in the late-90s Denver rap-rock outfit Chaos Theory. (Yes, I have their CD and I scanned this image from it.)
He's the guy with the tatted head. And yes, that's how I recognized him.

Related anecdote: It must have been at least ten years ago, but Chaos Theory played a free show at the Capitol Hill People's Fair. My brother got kicked in the face in the moshpit.

Friday, November 21, 2008

An Interesting Contrast in the Local News Today

Lance Hering, a Marine on leave from Iraq went missing two years ago up in Eldorado Canyon. His friend said he had fallen while they were rock climbing and been knocked unconscious. When the rescuers returned, Hering was gone. The authorities and volunteers searched the area for five days, until it was revealed that Hering had just split.

There was surveillance footage of him getting on a Greyhound bus, and then he was gone. The friend was arrested, and Hering disappeared. Turns out, he went up to Washington, changed his name to "Nine," and worked on a tree farm for a few months. He grew his hair out and started a hippie beard. But he was in deep shit, and he knew it. The Marines wanted him for going AWOL, the state wanted him for false reporting and wasting five days of rescue efforts.

Now he's going to be spending the new few months in court and the new few years in jail.

And then there's Sgt. Jon Stiles of the Colorado National Guard. Lived down in Highlands Ranch, a nice part of town. Was married for eight years to his wife Launa. He served in the honor guard, presenting families with the traditional flag. Had been in Afghanistan since March, was wounded in an explosion, but came back for more anyway. He was killed a week ago and buried today at Fort Logan National Cemetary.

Two soldiers, two very different stories.

Lucky Man

As we drove back into the city last weekend, the radio was tuned to a country station that played Montgomery Gentry's song "Lucky Man." The first verse hooked me instantly:
I have days where I hate my job
This little town and the whole world too
Last Sunday when my Broncos lost
Lord it put me in a bad mood
Just based on that, this song had the potential to be one of my favorite country tunes. But there's more. The whole song is like a delicious enchilada, full of all kinds of cheesy goodness.
But I know I'm a lucky man
God's given me a pretty fair hand
Got a house and a piece of land
A few dollars in a coffee can
My old trucks still running good
My ticker's ticking like they say it should
I got supper in the oven, a good woman's loving
And one more day to be my little kid's dad
Lord, knows I'm a lucky man
I've never been accused of being a "glass is half full" dude, but I liked that.

But then I did a little digging into the song. The actual lyric mentioning the Broncos really refers to the Bengals, and the group (because Montgomery Gentry is really two guys) made something like eighty versions for all the different markets. Dallas got "when my Cowboys lost," Green Bay got "when my Packers lost."

I'm not so sure I like that. It's clever marketing, sure, but I feel a bit suckered. You mean you're not really Bronco fans?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chaco Canyon 2: This Time For Real


The true account is here: The Trip

The Sites:
Una Vida
Hungo Pavi
Pueblo Bonito: Part 1, Part 2
Chetro Ketl
Casa Rinconada

A look back at the Mesa Verde expedition.

The Trip


We stayed in a KOA Kozy Kabin outside Bernalillo, New Mexico, about three hours away from Chaco Canyon. It's kind of like camping, but with cable TV and electricity and, you know, a bed. And a free pancake breakfast.
As documented in The Chaco Incident, the dirt road to Chaco is a mess. Rough? Yes. Rocky? You betcha. Washboarded out? Definitely.It is also quite remote.But we made it this time.And now we don't ever have to do it again.

One last thing. Not too far south from Chaco is Cuba, New Mexico and a little restaurant called El Bruno's. If for some reason you're just passing through or feel the need, stop by. The food is excellent.(This is the door to El Bruno's.)

Casa Rinconada


From the guidebook:
The Chacoans constructed the Casa Rinconada great kiva atop a natural hillside, within a large community of small villages. The imposing public architecture of the great kiva dominated the view from the villages. Across the canyon, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Del Arroyo, and Pueblo Alto formed the core area of Chaco.
It's the largest excavated kiva in Chaco Canyon and can be seen in this Carl Sagan video.

Chetro Ketl


From the guidebook:
Chetro Ketl is a Chacoan great house. As is the case with most other great houses in the canyon, its original construction was modest. Beginning with a single-story room block around A.D. 1010, it grew to become a monumental structure that covered almost 3 acres by the early 1100s. The overall ground plan of Chetro Ketl is a D shape, with the front wall of the plaza forming the arc of the D. There are an estimated 500 rooms in the site - approximately 225 ground-floor rooms, and 275 second-and-third-floor rooms.
Aside from being one of the largest sites in Chaco Canyon, Chetro Ketl has some unique features. There's a colonnade along the wall, reminiscent of Mexican architecture, that was later filled in.The Chaco Handbook says:
Two great kivas were situated in the large open plaza, and a tower kiva was constructed near the middle of the central room block. Excellent examples of stone discs found in great kiva seating pits can be seen in the excavated great kiva. The smaller great kiva was backfilled with soil following excavation, and its location is not readily apparent today.
Here's the tower kiva, visible from the back of the ruin.The back wall. The horizontal slit along the second floor indicates where a second floor balcony once stood.The beams that once lay in these holes are gone, but the holes remain, a testament to the Chaco masons.Some ruins just next to Chetro Ketl called the Talus Unit, a separate dwelling but probably integrated with the Chetro Ketl community.Anasazi rock art.

Pueblo Bonito Part 2

Going inside.These doorways are actually quite small. I had to crouch and hunch my shoulders in just to get through them.There are no roofs in these rooms anymore, but look: they left a metate! (A metate is a stone the Chacoans used to grind corn. The wear on this one indicates it saw a lot of corn in its day.)The southeast rooms on the second floor have these corner windows. The guidebook says there are only seven of them at Pueblo Bonito and that they were later additions. One of them (not this one) was probably used as an astronomical marker of some sort.The rooms seem to go on forever, all of them connected by these meticulously constructed doorways. One of the T-shaped doors common to Anasazi architecture.

Pueblo Bonito Part 1

From The Chaco Handbook:
The best known of all Chacoan great houses, located at the center of Downtown Chaco, less than half a mile away from Pueblo Alto, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo, Kin Kletso, and Casa Rinconada. Though it covers somewhat less ground than Chetro Ketl, this D-shaped great house is the largest of all Chacoan great houses with almost 700 rooms, 32 kivas, and 3 great kivas.
Here's a cluster of kivas seen from atop the boulders that once made up Threatening Rock, a rock formation that fell in 1941 and destroyed the northeast side of Pueblo Bonito.This is the interior of the back wall. Rows of tiered buildings would have curved along here, accessible only by ladder.This section of wall is at least four stories.Here's an area with a couple of very deep kivas. These are much larger than any we saw at Mesa Verde and at Chaco, they're all over the place.Here's my brother and nephew resting on a bench. This picture also gives you a sense of scale about the place. It was massive.This is the interior of one of Pueblo Bonito's great kivas. The stone pillar in the middle is probably the fire pit, while the ones on the sides are "raised floor vaults," whatever those are.Here's a view of the plaza and the rows of buildings surrounding it.

Hungo Pavi

From the brochure:
Hungo Pavi is one of the few Chacoan buildings to remain unexcavated and undisturbed. When the Chacoans migrated away in the A.D. 1200s, forces of nature slowly collapsed the roofs and upper walls. Centuries of windblown sand covered the building and native grasses and shrubs grew on top, leaving the upper walls protruding from the mounded site to indicate its former glory.
This wall is a testament to that former glory.
Here's another view.
Hungo Pavi probably had 150 rooms and only two kivas, one of them a great kiva you can't even really see.
Detail of the stonework.
It's been reinforced with concrete since, but you can see how intricately shaped the stones were. It wasn't for beauty, as all this would have been covered in mud plaster, but its strength has lasted a thousand years.Fajada Butte in the distance.