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A week or so ago, Carl Steadman's was reporting errors -- and now it's finally given up the ghost and won't even resolve in DNS. Not that it had been updated in quite a while, but it's been around so, so, long, that it's absence makes the internet a little smaller. # -- your spot for the most comprehensive daily entertainment news and original musings about everything pop-culture* -- is giving away a tropical vacation...well, if you live in Canada, it'll seem tropical. They're giving away two nights at the Fargo Holiday Inn, $250 in spending money, and tickets to see the band Queens of the Stone Age. Note their attempt at accent humour -- you know they're from Canada, because they're even more ignorant of what the Fargo accent sounds like than actual Fargoans; the only people who can hear it are non-northerners, it seems. Anyways, go enter -- unfortunately, it appears to be only for Canadians, so, you Winnipegians, you're already coming down here to shop at our malls and super-Wal-Marts, get your hotel paid and take in a show! #

Allie, the oldest stepkid, spent the past month out at Trollwood, starting a exactly 20 years after my first summer there -- we spent Thursday night watching her classes perform what they've learned this summer, and she did an excellent job -- and she even made it into the end-of-classes newsletter (she's the one with the red tanktop over the white t-shirt). #

Ah, my loving coworkers called in my birthday to the country station (Froggy, not the other country station) -- it was announced it on the radio and put it on the website. You'll note the website says, "Derek the "Boss" at ISC"'s an approximate transcript of what they announced on the radio. "...Derek, the boss over at ISC, this one was just called in, and they didn't know his last name or how old he is." Now, before you get down on everyone for not even knowing my name -- at least they thought about me! It also put me in the drawing for a free ice cream cake, but I didn't win. Oh, well. #

Looking for a nice, happy place to retire? How about a place known for disemboweling pesasants and enemies? No, not medieval England -- a Transylvanian castle (attributed to Dracula) and surrounding lands are up for sale. It seems the current owner of Bran Castle, Archduke Dominic Habsburg (whose ownership of the castle had been debated recently and Romania even tried buying it back) is looking to sell it off for an estimated nine figures. Torrens controversy and vampire infestation -- it's got something for everyone! #

The venetian blinds in our bedroom begin to glow at around 5:30am, signalling my eyelids to warn my eyeballs, who in turn let my brain know, that they day is starting. The brain tells the eyelids to open squintily, the eyes to strain to see the alarm clock at the foot of the bed...and then the brain turns everything off, before the head hits the pillow, reminding everyone that we wait until the alarm clock (armed with a tuned-in country station to assist in getting me to turn it off within three notes of that song about checking one another for ticks) to tell us when it's really time to get up. By the next day, however, they eyelids and the eyeballs no longer remember what the brain told them. Light is light, and that's their job -- the brain shouldn't be so bossy when it comes to seeing things. When morning comes, things are to be seen, and the eyeparts make sure they let the brain they're ready to do their job.

It's summer, and that's good -- time to spend time outside, if you've got time to spare. Problem is, my days are full to begin with. On top of regular workdays, there's a big project wrapping up this week and a server upgrade this weekend. Some summer things are obligatory: birthday party on Saturday, Trollwood show tonight, Des goes to her mom's next week. Although I intentionally leave my lawn longer than everyone else on the block, I still have to mow it from time to time. Where do I fit in summer fun?

I tuned up my bike a few weeks ago, but I have yet to ride it. I suppose, if I let myself get up at five thirty, I'd have an extra three hours in the day to ride around the empty streets in the cool morning air. Maybe the eyelids are on to something.

Last weekend, we found success in getting up early to go rummaging. In fact, we were up a hour earlier due to a clock mixup, which gave us more preparation time. Most summers, we leisurely get ourselves out the door around 9 or so, a good hour or two after the sales have opened, and end up digging through the leftovers that the dedicated rummagers tossed aside. At seven and eight, all the cool stuff is still there -- plus, it's not so warm, and the traffic is lower. So, why don't I listen to the eyeballs and get up early?

Sadly, I'm already exhaused by nine, when I leave the night half of my split-shift schedule...moving that sleepiness up three hours would cause trouble. It's not so bad if I weren't so busy during the day, but I've got stuff to do. Bills gotta be paid, and so forth. Work, versus fun -- the American Dream is to have as much of both as possible, but "time" is the flaw in that equation. It's always easier to get more work; fun is a bit tougher.

The question, then, is how do I trade work for fun? I'm supposed to be doing a lot more of it -- increasing my self-value by allowing myself more me-time -- but it's tough being poor. As time devoted to work shinks, the dollar-per-man-hour needs to go up to sustain income. But, there's nothing fun about that, now, is there?

Having fun is much harder than working, it seems. No wonder the eyelids are so ready to get up in the mornings -- it's their job, and they can't let themselves lie around doing nothing. It's a mindset problem, though; there's not a lot of reality effecting these ideas. Back to the "me-time" thing, I guess; I need to recognize the value in relaxation, equate that with the value of work, and not get into the "how will I have fun when the power is shut off?" mindset. We've never had the power shut off, and it's unrelated to my free time. I need to make myself believe that work is work, and fun is fun, and I need both. Maybe my eyelids will take a break, let me sleep in a bit. They work too hard, so early in the mornings.

Ah, this is the stuff reality TV is made of. Take one naiive, cranky, straight-laced person, and toss them into a mud-soaked, drug-fueled music festival. Hilarity ensues. I'll admit, I'd probably have as much fun as she did, but I can recognize an un-fun time and avoid it if possible. Rainy, muddy Rollag? I can do that happily. Pseudo-Woodstock? Sorry, I'll stay home. I'm not quite as tightly-wound as Ms. Petronella Wayatt, though: I'd laugh if <Wikipedia was edited to make me appear to be a crazed whacko. #

When Luke sold his landspeeder in Mos Eisley, those Jawas must not have been paying attention to where they parked. It ended up in a Florida auto impound lot -- where the story is that it was donated to the police department a few years back, and hasn't been put into useful service yet. #

Just a little to our north, a gradeschool principal has been encouraging reading in his students for 14 years -- by offering self-deprecating events if they reach their goal. This year: eating fried worms if the students read a combined 2.5 million pages. The goal was met, so the principal donned his finest attire and ate his promised meal. Note to take away from this article: earthworms, fried in white pepper and salt, seasoned with sesame oil and Thai sauce, aren't too bad -- but I'd bet my unwashed socks would taste good, fried and coated with Thai sauce. #

A "new" country station, BOB 95 FM, appeared in Fargo a few months ago, and they've gone over the top to draw attention to themselves...I suspect it's because there's nothing remarkable or impressive about their programming. Honestly, it is indistinguishable from the other country stations in town -- I've been forced to listen to 'em at work -- and they need to force people to believe they're the coolest generic-country-top-40 station. One of their more creative advertising attempts is a rip-off -- sorry -- parody of the manah-manah song, complete with country-themed muppets (you can even get tattoos of their muppetty madness). For the uninformed non-fishermen among you, those red-and-white round things are "bobbers", a float that keeps the bait off the bottom and shows when you've got the fish on your hook. "Bobbers" ibid "BOB", the radio station's name, which, no doubt, was chosen to make it sound more folksy, like that guy Bob who lives two houses over and always invites you to his barbecue and snowblows the entire block's sidewalk just because he's got nothing better to do than be nice. (via) (more in manah-manah) #

The Realist was an absurd, brainy satire magazine from the 1960s counterculture scene, and a fan is scanning it all and presenting it online for all to see. #

When I saw the headline "talking paper made by scientists", I thought it was talking about a wall-sized talking tape, but it turns out they're really figuring out this printable electronics process that's been talked about, but hasn't been put into practical uses quite yet. But...back to my original thought -- take a large cardboard sheet, printed with a billboardy advertisement, with a strip of plastic ridges demarked down one edge of the sign, encoded with an audio message. Instructions would encourage passers-by to run their fingernail down the board, activating the message, which is amplified by the size of the cardboard sheet. I think MY idea is cheaper, requires no electricity, and will be less prone to catastrophic failure (not working at all). #

Talk about a rock-star's life: Isaac Slade, lead singer of The Fray (whose "How To Save A Life" seems to have been written for intense, slow motion montages of television doctors desperately losing a plot-integral patient), not only is a hit musician, but now appears to be descended from genuine aristocracy. Sir Benjamin Slade, an eccentric British millionaire (are there any other kind?) started his search for an heir, having no direct lines of his own, and it seems his family tree intersects with Isaac Slade's ancestors. They've visited, and things seem rather certain that Isaac Slade will be Sir Slade's successor. It's like Charles Dickens was brought back to life to write a summer-reading-list hit -- but it's REAL. #

The peregrine falcons that have lived in Fargo for years now have a reason to visit a town a little further north. One of their brood, as identified by his nameband, has moved into the Smiley watertower in Grand Forks. Hopefully the city has decided not to tear Smiley down -- we wouldn't want a homeless falcon wandering Grand Forks, so far from his family. #

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The diet for last weekend was mechanically separated chicken. Robots, no doubt, play chaperones in the henhouses, keeping a proper distance between the animals, lest their flesh become less edible than the stuff inside the chicken nuggets. Nuggets weren't the only chicken on the list last week: Chicken pot pie, chicken fingers cut up in a salad, chicken and dumplings, garlic chicken pizza...pre-cooked fowl that repects a proper social distance is a major part of the food economy these days. It's also cheap -- a whole chicken, whose respect of personal space is unknown, is going to cost less than a gallon of milk soon. Chicken is everywhere, getting too close to others, touching inappropriately, making rude comments...chickens are an unsavory lot, despite how good it tastes.

On Thursday morning I was shaken to awakeness at the bathroom sink, my first destination after barely opening my eyes. Turning on the water resulted in the acrobatic drain-escape attempt by a house spider, who shocked me with his speed; the basin was too deep and he eventually succumbed to the flood, much like his relative I met a few months ago. They may be working hard to make sure I don't wander through the day in a half-daze, ensuring my wide-eyed awareness by jumping out at me when I least expect it, violating my personal space, making me think something's crawling on me for the rest of the day. On Saturday night that feeling paid off; somehow, somewhere, a wood tick ended up on my body, and managed to crawl up to the base of my neck before being caught, flicked off my finger, then stepped on twice. Being stepped on wasn't enough to even phase it, but it was done for my own sense of well-being. Take that, foul intruder! Were I to mechanically separate ticks, I wouldn't have to check every little air movement past my armhairs for the presence of an interloper. Finding a woodtick is also of the gravity that not only am I creeped out, but those around me also spend their time checking the slightest touch for the sign of a bloodsucker.

At first leaving work Thursday night, I thought the car in front of me was swerving to avoid a bag slowly blowing across the street, but once I got closer I realized what was being circumvented: a mama duck and what appeared to be two dozen ducklings crossing the street. The curvy streets and mixed-use zoning created 'dead-spots' in between lots, lower areas that end up being shallow reservoirs of rainwater, full of bugs and perfect for a duck family to move into. The family was moving to a larger, damper area cross the road to the west, presumably for swimming lessons. I did my best not to intrude upon their personal space, moving my van towards the middle of the road to discourage other drivers from driving right through the buggers -- who, for as late at night as it was, should have been wearing 3M reflective products, or at least something bright and visible -- and waiting until they had made it as far as the curb before proceeding.

Saturday, however, required my incursion into the personal space of others, man and animal alike. I recieved a call at seven am, asking for my attendance; at noon I was called again, letting me know the event was moved up, so I hurredly made my way over to my parent's house. My grandparents were already there, offering their support to my mom. When I arrived, the travelling vet had just given Max, my parent's dobie-something-cross, the last shot to stop his heart. He, as a small puppy, wasn't taken care of well, and between those problems and others he never grew out of it, remaining fearful of others and ready to use his sharp teeth to let you know his emotional state at the time. As a puppy, not so bad; as a hundred-pound beast, unacceptible. He should have been put down long ago, when he grabbed the arm of my stepson (no major damage, but I made sure Max understood it wasn't acceptible, which then put the fear of children in the dog's mind and we stopped bringing the children into their house); when he ripped up my mom's hand, requiring stitches, it definitely should have been done then. His antisocial behavior had finally made my mom worried enough for the safety of others that she saw the need to put him down. It's not that he's a bad dog -- it is that he could not follow the social boudaries set for humans and dogs. Dogs bite to tell each other 'back off'; humans frown on using teethmarks to communicate. The few times we dogsat, he was put in his place quickly; he was fine after that, however still a bit too much of a risk to be allowed around children unattended.

I went and sat with my mom and petted Max as his breathing grew shallower; he began to shiver, and his breathing stopped. His loose skin reacted when you pet him, pulling and bouncing back, but after a minute or so it felt different, like a rubber glove, lifeless and artificial. I helped load him into the vet's trunk, destation creamatorium. Instead of burying him in the back yard, as mom wanted, I suggested putting up a marker instead; the vet pointed out the legal issues of burying such a large body in the back yard. I offered my condolences to my parents, making sure to offer to dad as well, since my mom was getting the majority of emotional support. I left shortly after, leaving them to their own feelings and dealing with mine.

I know, I like to push that North Dakota has low crime, low violence, low natural disasters, etc....however, opening lines like this one might give people pause when considering a move to the Dakotas: If you hold a flame to your faucet and the water catches fire, the North Dakota Geological Survey wants to know about it. . The water catches fire?!? Oh my fuck, what kind of place am I living? "If you walk outside and bump your head on the air or a pack of boulders devour your dog, please report it to the authorities." #

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