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I've spent hours over at Collector's Quest scanning and uploading photos from several 1960s Tournament of Roses parades -- go have a look. Never has a clown crotch been more flowery. #

Benday dots are what you get when you put your nose right up against a magazine or newspaper photo -- it's a printing process to make all the colors out of the 4-color CMYK spectrum, or create gradients in black-and-white, by converting the variances in color and brightness into an array of dots. Also known as dithering or screening, the benday process was invented in the 19th century and has worked out well since; your inkjet printer probably uses a variant. Roy Lichtenstein loved 'em, and made a name for himself out of exaggerating existing ones. Why "benday"? Well, ask Ben Day -- he's the inventor. #

Trouser mice: a euphemism for the male genitals. And when I say 'genitals', I do mean plural -- 'trouser mouse' is the singular and more common phrase. Spammers, not known for their grasp of the english language, have been offering the terrifying prospect of enlarging all of my penises, no matter how many I have lying around. I guess, if they're that small as to need enlarging, I might not even notice that they're all there. At least I can get a little entertainment out of the inbox annoyance. #

Trollwood Performing Arts School has announced the 2008 mainstage musical -- on the mailing list, anyways; the website is stuck at 2006 or 2007, depending on which page you're looking at. However, I can help y'all out -- 2008's Trollwood Mainstage Show will be Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Trollwood performed Joseph in 1994, and they say it's their most-requested revival. Sadly, it will be the last show performed at Trollwood Park -- in 2009, TPAS moves across the river to Minnesota. #

In 1891, Theodore Schwennesen circumnavigated the world, a trip of a global scale -- which included passing through Fargo at one point:

Now to Morehead and Fargo with 12,000 people on the Dakota border. Here everything is bare, hilly land. Buildings look lost and lonesome, no trees, just hills and valleys interrupted by some rocks...

Upon crossing into "Dakota", as he calls it, his description of the rest of the state isn't too much different from today, although there's more of us around now. Remember: this was only 70-80 years after Lewis and Clark, and only 15 years after Little Big Horn, and indian attacks were still on people's minds. Most of the cities he mentions were only a few years old, and the rest is still wilderness, save the lonely railroad tracks Schwennesen was on. Interestingly, the 'fort' he reports seeing in Hebron was most likely Fort Sauerkraut, a makeshift defense against indian attack during The Indian Scare of 1890; due to the, er, "success" at Wounded Knee, Fort Sauerkraut was no longer needed by the time of Schwennesen's trip. #

I haven't seen a more awesome thing yet today: Mondospider. The mechanics in it seems rather simple -- it's not exactly spiderlike, except in approximate shape -- but it performs its purpose beautifully. Do I want one? Oh, but yes I do. #

Be careful when using pseudomathematics to describe your business -- the transitive property is a harsh mistress. #

A while back I wrote about how to build your own Winky the Cat. The original is a stuffed cat, wired to your brake lights, and its eyes match your blinkers. Scary stuff -- but it was a real thing, advertised in auro parts catalogs. Don't believe me? Ask Destiny. We actually saw a REAL one, in the wild, on the rear window shelf of a boat of a car a few days ago. The fact that it was in the Wal-Mart parking lot was not an anomaly. #

Scott Brown of Fine Books and Collections magazine (one of my favs), has crossed that line so many book collectors toe up to: he, his wife, and some friends have bought a bookstore. Bully to them; it'll probably be a lot of hard work, but if they've got their head on straight and love what they do, success will be theirs, regardless of sales. #

Henry Rollins, star of Johnny Mnemonic and the best screamer in the universe, is coming to Fargo next March. With a name like "Henry", you don't expect to much...until you see the guy. Doing a GIS for him gets so many intensely angry photos of Rollins that I peed myself twice. Well, you'd be intense too, if you had your best friend killed in front of you. Still, every interview I've seen with Rollins shows he's bright and three-dimensional as a person, and I've got a lot of respect for that. #

Flom is a microscopic town in west-central/northwest-central Minnesota, in the Ulen-Twin-Valley area. Beet farmers in the area know my dad as one of the agriculturalists for Crystal Sugar; Flom is one of the areas we usually hear about, just because the town's name is so much fun to say. For being a little unincorporated community, Flom has a presence on the internet -- first of all, they've got their own community website. Nextly, they have their own blog: Flom Footnotes. The focus of both sites is largely geneology and history -- and, hey, whaddayaknow: I've got relatives on their biography list! Violet is my great-aunt; her husband is Dennis, mayor of Twin Valley. #

Those of you may think my interest in insurance history is a unique and insane obsession, and then I find this guy: The American Term Life Insurance History Project. Too bad most of the content is wrapped in "buy my insurance!" stuff, but I suppose websites have to pay the bills somehow (hint). The TLIHP has some excellent archives of old documents, small so far but it appears it is going to continue to grow with more paper. I loves the old documents. #

I was recently asked for permission to reprint a blogpost I'd written a while back -- that site is The Liz Library, a site devoted to women's law, children's legal issues, custody & divorce, and all sorts of very personal, nebulous, and subjective legal issues that affect everybody's lives at some point. Of course, I agree with a large chunk of the stuff on her site, even though it doesn't always benefit dads; however, solving the wrongs done to kids and families due to selfishness and cruelty is good for society. My article appears here. #

dysgenics: negative natural selection caused by outside, non-Darwinian forces, favoring weaker and less desirable genes in the pool. Originally coined as a description of the genetic effect of war, in which the healthiest and strongest are tagged for death while 4Fs remain available for breeding. Largely used as the opposite of (and justification for) eugenics, it has been brought into the public eye with the movie Idiocracy: society crumbles because giving birth is seen as a poor decision, so those predisposed to poor decisions are the only that breed. #

What do you do when you have so much spare cash around that average Christmas gifts (e.i. humorous boxer shorts, "Special Edition" DVDs of 1980s movies) would seem insulting to your loved ones? Buy a concert -- for a cool million-and-a-half. Invite 499 of your friends (that's 500 total, not one more person over. Sorry, Shelly from the gas station, I'm out of tickets), get to rub shoulders with Regis Philbin -- and that's gotta be worth $1,500,000 on it's own, you know -- and not only do you take in a top-notch performance, but you get to keep the piano. Rich people apparently find it insulting that performers take the piano with them after they're done performing -- it's like the caterer getting to keep the leftover pigs-in-a-blanket after the party, how rude! If you're doing the math, take out $80,000 for the Steinway, and you're still spending $3,020 a head. What they don't tell you is that you can hire most orchestras and rent a concert hall for significantly less the Niemann-Marcus price, bring a thousand friends (Shelly, you're back in!), and still get to keep the piano. Regis Philbin, well, he must be the spendiest part. #

KNDS, an excellent hodge-podge LPFM format station in town, is a must-listen from 8am to 9am on Tuesdays. In that timeslot is Bluegrass In The Valley, a listenable and entertaining show focusing on that fun branch of the folk-country-western tree. I've always had a taste for bluegrass; the content of country music annoys me to no end, but bluegrass is folksy enough to be enjoyable. #

Defictionalization: When a object or product of fiction becomes real -- not scifi generalized predictions like robots or satellites, nor the naming of something as homage, but something more like Bubba Gump Shrimp and red Swinglines. It seems to largely be a convention of marketing: fiction has long been the realm of speculative invention, so while initially seeming like a term for literature, defictionalization more likely to work its way into marketer's vocabuaries. "Did you see what the propmaster came up with for that 22nd century soda can? Let's talk to Pepsi about defictionalizing that ASAP, coordinate with the film's release." #

I only have a vague understanding of the Planet of the Apes series -- even though I believe I've seen the first 3 movies multiple times -- but with the TV series, the comics, and so forth, I'm a bit behind. Thankfully, there's an all-encompassing timeline, including crazy and self-contradictory stuff (that's the best stuff!) so I can catch up on my Planet of the Apes universe at my own pace. #

Ever wondered what's up with the gypsies? Girl in the North Country can fill you in. As far as nomadic-cum-interstitial societies go, the Romani are an oft-overlooked one, since its range so overlaps that of what we'd consider civilized world. An interesting statistic: Of the Bosnian refugees that have been in Fargo for several years, the majority are Roma. #

In 1936 a famous photo was disseminated, highlighting the drought during the depression by showing a sun-bleached cow skull resting on cracked, dry earth. However, some sharp-eyed newspapermen at the Fargo Forum noticed that the same skull appeared in some not-so-arid photos taken by the same photographer around the same time. The Forum cried foul -- the skull had been moved, to provide a more powerful photo. The photographer argued the common defense: it may not be what was happening, but it shows what was actually happening. Rothstein wasn't particularly affected by the revelation, photographing some of the more famous photos of the Dust Bowl (which, it seems, was also staged), but the FSA drew criticism that if they had to fake all their photos, they must be faking the rest of their work. The Forum warned Roosevelt, who was visiting the state at the time, not to trust such faked photos; North Dakota wanted to let the president know that we're doing just fine here, thanks. Turns out, Rothstein was with Roosevelt at the time. As the Time article above notes, the Forum had a field-day with faked photos, it seems: one claimed the Missouri River was bone dry (not true), and another claimed cattle were overrunning the State Capitol (only true on Stampede Saturdays). Oh, OK, that last one was completely false: it'd have been pretty tough for a herd of cattle to get all the way to the capitol grounds, even back in the 1930s, but someone had a photo to prove it, so it must've been true. #

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