PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

September 9th, 2006

Yep Yep Yep Yep Yep Yep

I was on the computer, and also talking to the Boy, and in response to something he said, I answered “Yep Yep Yep Yep Yep Yep!”

He had no idea what I was talking about.

Fortunately, we live in the age of instantaneous information overload, so I was able to educate him almost immediately.

If any of you out there are similarly clueless, here are the Sesame Street Martians:

By the way, when’s the last time you actually used a rotary telephone? I can’t even remember the last time I touched one.


September 8th, 2006

Music Video Madness

My college had a campus radio station, KRRC - The Dirigible of the Airwaves. I think we had a signal strength of 10 watts, and if the planets were aligned and the upper atmosphere cooperated, you could sometimes hear the station as far away as the West Hills.

There were advantages to only being heard on our little campus. KRRC had alumnus Barret Hanson (that’s Dr. Demento to you) do a live show while I was a student, and he was able to play all the songs the FCC normally wouldn’t allow to be broadcast uncensored.

The other neat thing about KRRC was that pretty much anyone could sign up for their own radio show. One of my friends had a weekly program, and used it to play his favorite songs. He had a fairly short playlist, which meant we pretty much heard the same songs every week. That didn’t matter, though, we tuned in anyway.

So, this week’s MVM is a retrospective of JB’s radio show, and a bit of nostalgia for simpler times, when getting my physics homework done and finding an empty washing machine were the biggest stressors in my life.

Thomas Dolby - Hyperactive

E.L.O. - Telephone Line

The Fixx - Red Skies

The Fixx - Saved By Zero

September 7th, 2006

Forklift Safety

Klaus is a brand new forklift operator on his first day at work. But all does not go smoothly for Klaus in this Industrial Safety training video.

The narration is in German, but don’t worry — you’ll be able to understand all the important parts.

Note: Watching Klaus is not for the squeamish

One of my all-time favorites

September 7th, 2006

It’s just a rat with a furry tail

I arrived at the house last night glowing with the exertion of my ride home. As I coasted into the driveway, I saw the wife come out of the back door and walk to meet me.


She never comes to meet me, unless she has bad news. I gave her a very suspicious look.

“What did the children do?” I asked.

“Nothing. They’ve been fine.” she replied.

Okay, that meant it had to be something that was her fault. Before I could interrogate her further, the back door flew open and the girl bounced out.

“BABY SQUIRREL!!” she screamed.

“GET BACK IN THE HOUSE. I’m talking to your father.”


Oh. This was going to be bad.

It seems one of our neighbors found a baby squirrel in a tree they were cutting down. The poor thing had looked stunned and shocky, and of course my children had insisted that we take care of it. The wife had put it in a plastic bowl, with a little blanket, where it was still laying motionless.

“We’re not going to keep it.” I said.

“Of course not.” said my wife. It seemed that one of our other neighbors had rehabilitated injured squirrels in the past. It was hoped that we would be able to pawn it off on him. Unfortunately, he had acquired two Bassett Hounds in the meantime, either of which could have finished the little guy off in a single bite. So it looked like we would be keeping him at least overnight. Meanwhile, the wife and kids couldn’t stop ooohing and ahing at the little rodent.

In my opinion, a juvenile squirrel that remains that still and quiet while in the presence of this much hoopla and kerfuffle is not just in shock - - they’re not long for this world. I was thinking internal injuries, but my wife disagreed. By the time we went to bed, he/she/it was bedded down in a freshly cleaned and sterilized cage, on an old t-shirt, tucked under an old diaper, with fresh water and hand-shelled sunflower seeds close at hand.

By this time he/she/it had quit blindly staring into space, and was showing every sign of settling in and getting comfy, turning around under the diaper and curling up to sleep.

I don’t know if it ate or drank anything overnight, but this morning when we checked on it, it was under the diaper with just its whiskered nose and beady eyes peeking out.

Yes, it’s terribly, terribly cute. No, we aren’t keeping it.

And that’s final.


Well. The wife took our squirrelly houseguest to the Audobon Society, where they identified it as a Fox Squirrel. Unfortunately, Fox Squirrels are a non-native species here in Oregon, and they are, in fact, outbreeding the native species. As a result, the Audubon Society of Portland Wildlife Care Center does not accept Fox Squirrels for treatment. Which left the wife with something of a dilemma. In the end, she opted to euthanize the little critter rather than either releasing it into the neighborhood, or trying to reunite it with its mother. It’s a tough choice, but I think the right one.

Particularly since she will be the one that will have to explain it to the kids. Oy.

September 6th, 2006

Polka Power

As a child I adored Spike Jones and his City Slickers. When I grew up, I realized what consummate musicians he had to have in his band, in order to be able to record the zany pieces that they did, and I admired them even more. When I look around at today’s musical personalities, no one can hold a candle to Spike.

Well, except for one guy. Wierd Al Yankovic is the true heir of Spike Jones.

Enjoy this medley of classic polka tunes.

September 6th, 2006

Everything’s Bigger Fatter in Texas

According to this news article, the following delicacies have garnered honors (or at least attracted attention) at the Texas State Fair in this and recent years:

* Fried marshmallows on-a-stick

* Fried peanut butter, banana, and jelly sandwich

* Fried macaroni and cheese

* Fried Cosmopolitan

* Fried Praline Perfection

and the Big Winner at this year’s Fair:

* Fried Coke

Fried Coke?!?

Oh yes. Fried Coke.

“Gonzales deep-fries Coca-Cola-flavored batter. He then drizzles Coke fountain syrup on it. The fried Coke is topped with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry.”

Oh. My. God.

September 6th, 2006

Color and Season

The human retina contains light-sensitive cells. There are three types of color-sensitive cells, or cones, that allow us to perceive more than 10 million different shades of color. An additional type of light-sensitive cell in the retina, the rod cells, have a very different response to light. In normal situations, where ambient light is bright enough to strongly stimulate the cones, the rod cells play virtually no role in vision at all. However, in dim light, the cone cells are understimulated, leaving only the signal from the rod cells. The result is a sort of monochromatic vision. Put simply, in conditions of dim lighting, colors can appear ‘washed out’ or even absent. In particular, as autumn progresses and sunrise begins to come later and later, the period in the early morning wherein one’s vision is largely black and white is similarly extended.

Which is all really just a long-winded way of explaining why I am once again wearing dark navy blue socks with gray slacks.

September 5th, 2006

Love Blazers

I just about sprayed a mouthful of coffee on my monitor when I saw this. Not only am I old enough to remember ‘The Love Boat’, but you would be hard pressed to find a more nostalgic fan of ‘Star Blazers’.

For those of you too young to know what the @$#%$ I’m talking about, just trust me: This is an inspired clip.

Get Star Blazers for yourself!

September 4th, 2006


Whenever I go riding these days, I’m under a lot of pressure. I feel compelled to be increasing my mileage, so I can improve my endurance. Or trying out new routes. Or increasing my average speed. And I go riding because I need to stay in condition, or to decrease my insulin resistance, or to compensate for the ice cream I had for dessert last night.

I rarely go riding just because I want to.

But I rode to work last Friday, and I will be aggressively riding to work all through September as part of the 2006 Bike Commute Challenge, so when I decided to go for a ride today, I could do so without pressure. I could just ride for the fun of it.

I could just go ramblin’. Because I’m a ramblin’ guy.

So, I rode into downtown Beaverton and checked out the new coffeehouse Ava Roasteria. You can see my comments over at Portland Metroblogs. After that, I rode a few blocks down Hall to The Bike Gallery to get some new cycling socks. Unfortunately, it was closed for Labor Day. No worries, no pressure. So then I pedalled over to the Tualatin Hills Nature Park, although I didn’t even get off my bike there but just circled the parking lot. I came back to Murray and, because I’m just a bit of a masochist, I climbed up and over the big hill on Murray, then came home via Brockman and the Fanno Creek Trail.

When I got home, I was good and hot, so I stood under the oscillating sprinkler in the front yard and let the icy drops of water bring down my temperature a bit.

Labor Day. The end of summer. There’s so much I didn’t get done this year, and soon the rains will begin. As I recall from last year, by the time we reached the end of September, it was already getting dark and cold in the mornings, making it hard to get motivated to keep riding. I’m really not ready for the summer to be over.

Well, at least I’m not going back to school tomorrow. Ha!

September 4th, 2006

Failed his Saving Throw

The Crocodile Hunter is dead. According to Time Magazine, Steve Irwin was snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef when he “happened to swim over a large ray which, startled, whipped its barbed tail upwards into his chest. He died instantly.” It was, apparently, a reaction of the ray to feeling ‘boxed in’ by Irwin and the cameraman who was filming him.

I expect the mourning and accolades to pour in thick and heavy for the next week or so. And I feel a great deal of sympathy for his widow and the two children he has left behind, children that he apparently adored. But I have to say that this is a case of the odds finally catching up with Steve. When I (infrequently) watched him on television, I usually found myself screaming at the screen, usually telling the “Croc Hunter” what an idiot he was. He routinely took chances that were avoidable, and played fast and loose with his personal safety, and the safety of his family. Remember the infamous ‘dangle the baby while feeding the croc’ incident?

Irwin always made me angry because he sensationalized the serious work of wildlife biologists and conservationists, who are often placed in danger, not for ratings, but because they are trying to save a species or a habitat, or to advance the body of human knowledge.

But as much as he pissed me off, I have to acknowledge Irwin’s deep and sincere love of animals and wildlife. And although he did things that I would have considered foolhardy, he was doing what he loved. I just hate that he has left behind children that now have to grow up without a father.