October 24, 2005

Existentialist Cowboy Joke

"Say your prayers," Butch said, hand poised above the sandlewood grip of his chrome-plated forty-five.

"God is dead!" came a tiny voice from his hand.

The other gunslinger was confused, but didn't have
time to think about it. He reached, but was gunned down
before his hand reached his own weapon.

A hanger-on from the crowd had the guts to ask,
"So what was with that 'God is dead' stuff?"

"I," said Butch, "have a Nietzsche trigger finger."

September 17, 2005

Celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is held every September 19th, I took a little test to see if I am good pirate material or not.

You Are A Pirate!
You Are A Pirate!

What Type Of Swashbuckler Are You?
brought to you by Maddog Varuka & Dawg Brown

July 18, 2004

Final Fantasy XI Wedding Etiquette

Welcome to this site! If you are reading this post, you either came here out of curiousity or you are an honored wedding guest who was given a link specifically for this information for the wedding of two characters in FFXI. In any case, thank you for stopping by!

This post provides the etiquette guidelines provided by Square Enix for weddings in FFXI. We, the bride and groom, have been asked to pass this information along to our wedding guests, and this seemed the most efficient way to do so, since there are more words than fit into a Play Online Navigator message box. :-)

Note: The portions of this post that are in quotation marks are provided by and copyrighted by Square Enix.

I have to admit that some of their suggestions are of the sort that would make some people just itch to violate them, but fortunately some of those sorts of suggestion are impossible and in any case, none of our guests would be so uncouth as to do anything so rude and disruptive. The rest are simple wedding guidelines for conduct, attire, and so on. We look forward to seeing you at the wedding!

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November 08, 2003

Gravity Hill in Sonoma County

My original post about Gravity Hill has generated more comments than any other post. The requests for directions have gotten to be more than I can handle one at a time, so I am posting instructions on how to get to the Gravity Hill that I know about here. Briefly, what happens here is that cars placed in neutral in a trough in a road back rapidly up a hill.

This is not a unique phenomenon; such are reported all over the world. Some people say that all such phenomena are optical illusions, and that may be true for some. In this case, however, this is a for-real Gravity Hill, not an optical illusion. If you stand near the top ‎of the road, and a car is in the trough of the road, you will find yourself looking down on the ‎top of the car. This would not be so if it were an optical illusion, unless ‎somehow light is being bent in funny ways, in which case there is still a ‎mystery here.‎

Please note that this is the only Gravity Hill I know about. If you know of others, feel free to post directions in a comment. Thanks!

The directions assume you are already in the Rohnert Park area; Rohnert Park is on 101 just south of Santa Rosa.

Take the Rohnert Park Expressway east to Petaluma Hill Road.

Take Petaluma Hill road south to Roberts Road.

Take Roberts Road East to Lichau Road.

Take Lichau Road east for a while. At the very crest of a hill, where there is an iron gate with a ranch name on it (something San Antonio), you are at the start of the Gravity Hill section.

Drive down to the bottom of the trough you see in the road. If you start climbing up again, you've gone too far. The circled spot in the map shows roughly where this is.

What I do when I reach this point: I stop my car, but leave the engine running and the car in neutral. I keep my foot off (but near) the brake pedal. My car is facing east. At this point, it starts to roll all the way back up the hill toward the something San Antonio gate. Of course, I am careful to look in the direction in which the car is rolling, keeping an eye out for other cars, as this is a narrow road.

Enjoy the spookiness!

Circled  spot showing Gravity Hill in Sonoma County

DISCLAIMER This is in no way a recommendation for unsafe driving. Always be cautious when driving, and watch out for other drivers. Take care of yourself and others in the car, always wear seatbelts, always have your child safely seatbelted or in a car seat as appropriate, obey all traffic laws and the rules of common sense, and drive safely.

September 19, 2003

A Distant Chipmunk on the Horizon

Those of you familiar with Pink Floyd's song, Comfortably Numb, may not recognize the following line from that song:

"A distant chipmunk on the horizon."

And rightly so. It isn't in there. However, to some, that is the line that immediately follows, "There is no pain, you are receding."

This sort of thing comes from people listening to, but not understanding, the lyrics of a song, poem, or other. It is human nature to try to make sense of what is heard, and it is a well-known scientific fact that, if a person doesn't understand what is said (for example, if their vocabulary doesn't include the word or phrase), they will translate the words into the nearest set of sounds that make sense to them.

Sometimes, the problem is pronounciation, always a problematic thing with rock musicians. For example, for years I thought Creedence Clearwater Revival was singing, "There's a bathroom on the right." (I am not making this up.) I am embarrassed to admit how long it took for me to finally figure out that what they were really singing was "There's a bad moon on the rise." My only excuse is that this is how my mother sang the song, and I didn't think she could be wrong.

At the time, I also didn't know that the name of the song was "Bad Moon." In fact, it was when I first learned that the name of the song was "Bad Moon" that the penny dropped and I realized what they had been singing all along. Until then, I thought "There's a bathroom on the right" was one of those strange, surrealistically random phrases that rock musicians were fond of putting into their songs in that era.

Mishearing song lyrics (and other such things) isn't new, though it has become more popular to codify and collect the mishearings. There is even a term for misheard lyrics: mondegreens. If you Google for the word "mondegreen," you'll find any number of Web sites devoted to the topic (and explaining the origin of the term), though my favorite misheard lyrics site, which you won't find by searching for mondegreen, is

While checking out that site, I was relieved to find that I was not the only one who thought that Creedence was singing about a bathroom on the right. Though chipmunk lovers everywhere may be disappointed to learn that that Pink Floyd lyric should be "a distant ship's smoke on the horizon."

January 25, 2003

Nanotechnology and Oil-powered Cars

My daughter goes to a school that requires seniors to present a thesis before an audience. She isn't a senior yet, but has friends who are, so we went last night in support of her friends. It was interesting.

Each student had to do a project related to their thesis. One had planted an orchard of 62 olive trees, which apparently is his forever, a generous donation from his parents. At the end, he passed around olives he had harvested and cured himself from his trees.

Another student had torn down and was rebuilding an old redwood barn, making it into an office, salvaging the redwood as he went. A third played the piano--an original composition of hers--while a mezzosoprano sang the words to the poems she (the student) had also written. Yet another student had gone behind the scenes of the grape-growing industry and had had her eyes opened about the problems of pesticides and migrant labor. Fortunately, more wineries are realizing how much healthier organically/biodynamically grown vines are, and how much tastier the resulting grapes and wine are.

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December 12, 2002

A God Joke

Three scientists were talking to God. They were saying, "Hey, God, we don't need you anymore; we can make Man ourselves."

God said, "Oh, really?"

And one of the scientists replied, "Yeah! Now that we've broken the genetic code, we can do anything. As a matter of fact, why don't we have a contest as to who can make a man faster? You versus us. What do you say?"

God, amused, said, "Sure."

So the scientist went back to his friends and said, "We're going to have a contest with God to see who can make a man faster: Him or us."

His friends were all excited and agreed that this was a good plan. So the first scientist went out and scooped up a big pile of dirt. Instantly, a bolt of lightning struck the ground near the man, making him drop the pile of dirt.

Looking up at God, startled, he said "What was that for?"

And God said, "Make your own dirt!"

October 28, 2002

From Miskatonic University

This is one of the funniest email exchanges I have read in a while. Someone finally decided to get back at one of the Nigerian scammers in a most classy, humorous, and intelligent way. It helps to be somewhat familiar with H. P. Lovecraft's work, but you don't need to be.