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I've been reading this blog for a few weeks, and find it very interesting: Media Chatter, a blog that collects the opinions of students taking Communications 101 from Dr. James Duncan at Anderson University. The course covers, according to his website, the role and function of mass media in our society, and at how social, economic and political forces shape the media and its messages -- and then turns around and redirects the effects that media has on the students back on the media by expressing it online. The writing is what you'd expect from kids with a high-school education, but shows that they're processing what they're learning, and the variety of responses is quite readable. #

How to tie a rope cincture: whether you're going as a monk for Halloween, or just having trouble dressing yourself at seminary (mom always used to tie my cincture for me), these instructions are handy. Found amongst other important instructions at CM Almy, alberdasher to the holy. #

Starting next week, Mystery Science Theater 3000 will return with new content. The messageboard linked seems to range from "cool" to "OMGWTF!" There don't seem to be any of the main onscreen talent returning (they've all mostly moved on to bigger and better things), which will definitely have an impact on the environment, but if they're smart I'm sure they can come up with something interesting. The site will, as of Nov 5 '07, be at #

Seasteading is to build floating human habitats on the open ocean. There's various ways to do it, but the people at have come up with a very adventurous design for a floating home. It appears to be what you get when you take a boat design, remove all motion advantages, and replace them with buoyancy advantages. Much to the chagrin of the libertarians, who aren't going to find utopia at sea, anything that floats is essentially a boat and devoid of any real national identity (and unless they fly a nation's flag may be considered pirates). There's a reason the highest mountains, furthest deserts, and coldest glaciers were conquered before the seas were...oceans are inhospitable to non-swimming creatures. #

Antiques on Broadway, the antique mall D and I used to sell in, is branching out into fine art. The Listed Art Gallery focuses on established artists that have been noted in art catalogs -- which should mean they've got good stuff, as opposed to the newer, more abstract artists that dominate the rest of Broadway's art galleries. I think. Their website is hard to navigate, the images are saved at full-size which affects download speed, their text is jumbled and unclear; I hope they didn't spend any money on the website, because it's only going to confuse and distract potential customers, it'll be a detriment. Except for creating a place to link to, which is more than they had before (even though I tried to talk Arnie into a website years ago; but that's old news). Skip the website, go to the store, by the caboose near Main Avenue and Broadway. #

Via my sis' blog: art that's not art by its existence, but by its interference with photons. #

Proof of Purchase is a neat take on the same spur as the Receipt Site (which, incidentally, wasn't about receipts). Anyways, back to Proof of Purchase: A diligent consumer comments on his own receipts, posting them as a foundish documentation of his life. Had it just been purchases, ho hum -- but the comments make it something more. #

CAT FOUND! Not very friendly or housebroken for a cat -- unfortunately, from the picture, it's obviously an opossum. Could someone be so obliviously stupid, or is it somebody having fun? When you consider that the 'possum pic in the LOST sign is a Wikicommons photo of "AwesomePossum", you can probably assume it's a joke. Still, it's funny to imagine the altrustic household's fun after bringing in such a creature in need. (via) #

Googie architecture: an attempt to make people believe George Jetson has moved in. Originating in the pre-interstate, post-Sputnik world, the future-looking style seems both dated and futuristic by modern standards, recalling the pie-in-the-sky future of flying cars and space-travel, but also the world that eventually crumbled during the social upheval of the 1960s and financial doldrums of the 1970s and 1980s. There's still a lot of the stuff around, although its slowly falling apart and being torn down & replaced with modernism. #

I was dreaming; In my dream, it was night. I was driving a car, looking for a gas-station1, driving around the mall area of South Fargo.

As with most dreams, I only knew it was that part of Fargo. The actual locations weren't "Fargo." The buildings I passed aren't actually there, although they'd fit in well with the actual area of town. Big, boxy structures built from cinderblocks cast like faux raw-cut stone, uninterrupted except for periodic steel fire-escape doors and a glowing neon sigil representing the business' existence. I was driving down the back-streets, off the main drag, so most stores were identified by small rectangle lights above the delivery entrance. A lot of the signs were for stores I didn't recognize, but were interspersed with the everystores: Target, KMart, and so on. As I reached and crossed more major streets, I could look down the road and see the vast parking lots that service each generic retail monolith, each lot dwarfing its building by comparison. It wasn't Fargo as much as it was any city of around 100,000 residents with a mall near the interstate.

As I reached an intersection with the main throughfare, I noticed that the power was off to the south, as far as I could see -- no signs, no streetlights2. I drove north, then through the parking lot of one gas station. The pumps were off, inoperable.

A few blocks further, passing fewer cinderblock retail buildings and more 1970s-era apartment buildings, I found a corner gas station that had no lights on inside the building, but the pay-at-the-pump was working. There were people all over the place, and almost every pump was occupied. I found an open one and pulled in.

As I was getting out, I noticed Garrison Keillor3, host of Writer's Almanac and Prairie Home Companion, was standing close to the gas station itself, obviously people-watching. I hoped to grab his attention and say, "hi," but he wasn't looking my way.

As I was putting the filler in my tank, Kiellor walked by -- I said loudly, "Hey, Mr. Keillor!" He grunted a dismissing greeting back, but turned back my direction. "What brings you to Fargo?" I asked.

"Have you ever eaten rabbit?" -- he didn't wait for me to respond -- "Nasty stuff, but sometimes it's what's on your plate." He walked away.

My subconsious does an excellent Keillor.

I take that to mean he really doesn't want to talk, or even acknowledge, any Fargoans, so I don't say anything as he walks away.

After a few minutes, before the tank is full, he wandered back towards my car. He looked inside and said, "Got lots of little boy things in there," noticing a bunch of stuff on the back seat belonging to my stepson. "Yup," I respond.

Keillor turned to me, lifted up his head a little, lips slightly parted, and regarded me as though studying a book through invisible reading glasses perched at the end of his nose. "So, how's that Razzamatazz Centre going? Amazing Centre?"

"You mean the Alerus Centre -- that's in Grand Forks4. Here, we've got the Fargodome."

"AH! The Fargodome, yes, that's my kind of a place. Oh, you don't have just boy things in here, you've got the whole boy as well." He reached through the open window and adjusted the jacket my sleeping stepson was using as a blanket in his carseat.

"That's my stepson. He's the youngest, he lives in Wisconsin with his dad -- My oldest is my stepdaughter, who lives here, and my daughter, she's 10, no, 11, lives with us."

Keillor sat down on the concrete curb next to the pump. I sat next to him.

"See, my wife is a bit older than me -- I'm 33 -- but my stepdaughter? She's 18...closer in age to my little sister than I am."5

Keillor spoke in the faint, high, strained voice he uses for serious, "what-are-you-gonna-do" statements: "Oh, my boy, why do the times have to change so?"

1 The van is almost out of gas; I noticed it last night on my way home from work. We don't own a car anymore.
2 Our power was out on Tuesday afternoon for an hour or so; my experience driving home was much like this - as I got closer to the house, there were no working stoplights, no power for signs or gas pumps.
3 Keillor was in the news recently, due to a problem with a stalker.
4 I was in Grand Forks a few weeks ago; the stretch of 32nd Avenue out towards I29 also resembles the area in my dream.
5 I don't know why that was supposed to be surprising, but dream-Derek thought it world-shakingly strange.

In 1811 and 1812, some of the most powerful earthquakes ever hit North America, changing the flow of major rivers and altering the landscape. If you think they were on the west coast, you'd be mistaken: these earthquakes hit eastern Missouri, around New Madrid. That was 200 years ago, so the few residents were quite shaken up, but no concrete buildings went toppling, no gas-lines ruptured, so while an interesting story, these 8+ Richter earthquakes didn't have the impact they'd have today. An isolated incident? Probably not. #

North Dakota is experiencing a resurgence in the classics, as high-school courses in Latin and Greek fill up. From the urban areas (Destiny is taking it in the 6th grade here in Fargo) to the more rural schools. Those languages are the only I was interested in taking in high-school, but the Montana high-school I attended only offered French and Spanish. It's good to see classic languages being restored, in a time when education is being dumbed-down and sanitized. Looking at education as a serious art, instead of base entertainment and daycare, is something society is missing. #

NOAA's got all kinds of excellent toys. One getting a lot of use today: their satellite wilfire detector. I'm not sure what all the hot-spots mean (Saskatchewan?), but the SoCal wilfires make their presence obvious. #

It's a bit off the beaten path, so we rarely drive past it even though it's in the middle of town. Still, it's so striking that when we do happen to take an odd detour down 2nd Ave or 22nd St in South Fargo, the eyes of everybody in the van get wide and someone says, "Woah -- what's that?!?" It's a house made from concrete domes, two blocks off Main Avenue. It's even for sale right now. #

In the 1920s, crystal radios were all the rage: broadcasters abounded, the equipment was cheap enough and small enough to be fit anywhere -- including the surface of a postcard. There's nothing particularly spectacular about it as far as radios go, except for the ingenuity in micro-scaling the technology at a time when today's semiconductors and microscopic electronics were a pipe-dream. Want a postcard radio of your own? Shoppes in the UK have modernized kits for sale. #

The "pirate menace" has moved from Minnesota to North Dakota -- (and, not named in the lawsuit), a service that takes the ancient usenet and makes it more accessible to the average user, is on the RIAA's naughty-list. Turns out -- wha?! -- they're located just down the street from the Dairy Queen on 45th Street. Sierra Corporate Design, the business at that address and on the other end of internet criminality in the past, has no corporate website, past domains ( and tied to their company have lapsed, and they don't seem to be taking interns anymore. Still, there's a difference between the medium for piracy exchange, and the actual transfer. Since usenet posts reside on's servers (although, since it's user-posted, as an ISP they're not legally responsible for the content, though that's changing), they're going to run into the precedent set by Napster: if the data touches your computer and you know it, you're getting sued. #

Since I'm covering hopeless presidential hopefuls (see also), next we've got the well-prepared Fargoan Kris Kerzman, who is readying for his breakthrough dash for the presidency in 2024. With plenty of time on his hands to woo potential (yet infant) voters, veto his own eating decisions, and otherwise work his potential presidency into his mundane life, he's got my vote in 2024 so far. #

Whaddayaknow -- a North Dakotan is running for President. Speaker Gerald Polley, a psychic from Bismarck, had God visit The Embassy Of The Kingdom Of God And The Grand Alliance for a while. God left him with instructions to run for President, and -- not seeming like one to ignore a mission from God -- Polley is seeking the Republican ticket. #

The AC Whispergen is a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) generator for public consumption -- it is mounted in the home, and generates steam-heat (for radiator-heated buildings), and electricity for powering appliances and such. At its core: a Stirling heat engine, those magical closed-system hot-air engines that run on pretty much anything that burns. Here in the US, people grouse over how high burnables like oil and gas cost, without considering how inefficient electricity is at heating, so these probably will have most of their application in places in the US without easy access to the power grid. Granted, since it involves burning it's not as 'green' as most off-the-grid people would like, but I'd bet there's a market for lake cabins, rural farms, and deep-rural businesses who won't have to rely on the poor connectibility of those areas. Sadly, Whisper Tech is a UK-focused company; the US is getting in on it, but on a industrial-scale and they don't talk about the poorly-scaling Stirling engine much. #

Girl In The North Country started a blog recently, shortly after moving to Fargo. She'd lived in Oregon, grew up in Luverne, MN, spent time in Sioux Falls -- similar climates to each other -- but though Fargo isn't that further north than the others....well....whether college students or no, people always seem to arrive in the fall, just in time to meet our friendly arctic climate we call home. She is here to study the refugee population and blogs about people-watching, so I think I'll keep an eye on her. #

You'll notice I've SEO'ed all my intrasite URLs. Old links still work, but hopefully Google will index the majority of the site now. I've noticed that our sites that have the php?option=thing URLs rank lower than pages on the same site with nice URLs: hardly any search-referrers come in to KKC for the CGI kind of URL, but the 3-year-old URLs with a folder structure get all kinds of hits. if I do a search at Google, I can only get things from the first page or so. Not so, now, I hope: also, browsing the archives is easier, with everything broken up by month, over on the right sidebar. #

MetaFilter has been compiling the All-Encompassing List of Penultimate Industry Books, with the simple question: what's the best book for beginners in your field? The list appears to be intended for a new liberal-arts library -- and they seem to be starting off on the right foot. #

Fargo, apparently, has trouble with loonies. With the dollars at parity (and, as I read someplace, is even being treated at $0.95 Canadian), stores aren't keeping up with the trend: Scheel's has treated it even, while Gordmans was partying like it's 2004. If you've been ignoring that Canadian fundage that you toss in the change bowl, you might want to start using it -- and give it a good look-over because it can be collectible. #

Has the week gone by without a funny cat thing? Well, here's one that's only mildly at the cat's expense: November the kitty meets a treadmill. #

Sealand, the first thing I'll buy if I win the lottery (although I may have to settle for a royal designation for the time being), has it's own "online newspaper", the Sealand News. #

What happens when you're commissioned to do an illustration comprised of some of the most offensive words in the english language? The magazine decides it's too offensive to use. It's what you get for being too good at your job. #

A Cenotaph is a grave-marker, sans corpse. Soldiers without a grave of their own share one. Temporary ones appear for automobile victims. Terror victims get a controversial one. Those lost at sea require one. If you want your ashes scattered, your family will probably get you one. #

Man, and I almost missed it: It's Banned Book Week 2007. The most challenged book: And Tango Makes Three, a tale about two make penguins who raise a chick of their own. Interestingly, classics like Catcher in the Rye and Huckelberry Finn have reduced in scorn. #

Daughter Destiny, in case you hadn't noticed, has been writing book reviews online for hobby and profit -- this month is a very, very ambitious project: review 31 Goosebumps books, one-a-day, until Halloween. Click here for the whole blog. #

A sad day, indeed: on his 4,200th day, Rogers Cadenhead has closed shop on Cruel Site of the Day. Outlasting legions of "cool site" lists, he set the example for all the wierd-stuff blogs today. #

The "Thinkery" visited Fargo recently, and took a bunch pictures (not just Fargo, though -- the first few and the last few only). They liked the White Banner sign so much they put it at the top in the blog: it definitely is an excellent sign, with it's 1960s mix of Bookman Swash and Copperplate, and Mod energetic angles and dots. I do tech and webdesign work for them, so I spend a bunch of time near that sign. #

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