Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Matchbox Cars - Feel the PWNAGE

62 years ... 650,000 matches ... 430 ships.

Seems the Royal Navy ran out of ships about the same time he ran out of matches.  Nicely timed.

More awesome pics here.

Bonus Thanksgiving

One of (if not the) best parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers.  Having a big-ass turkey sandwich with stuffing, cranberry and gravy piled on is a great half-time snack for Monday Night Football.  But it depends on getting good leftovers.

Last year we realized that we never really take home enough of the right kinds of leftovers.  It would be easier if we hosted, but we never do.  We get our little container, filled with a little bit of everything (typically too much green bean casserole and not enough turkey, ham and stuffing!), just like everyone else who converges on my parents' or uncles' house.  We remedied that by buying a turkey breast and roasting it up with all the fixin's that weekend.  Voila - leftovers galore! As an aside we never wont for desserts; my wife is an awesome baker and dessert is never scarce at Thanksgiving; so we almost always return home with plenty of her cake and pie to gorge ourselves on.

This year we absconded with the remaining half of the huge bone-in ham that my dad contributed, with the promise that he will get some split pea and ham soup out of it.  The soup will come, but for the time being we've been frying it up with eggs, or just baking up a batch of homemade biscuits and having ham, biscuits and coffee for breakfast.  He smokes a good ham.  He doesn't make good pies.  This year he tried to emulate a lemon pie recipe my aunt makes.  I'd never had it before this past week, but I hope she makes it better.  The filling is whole, sliced lemon with the rind zested off and part of the sweetened filling.  The lemon pulp wasn't bad. Biting through the rind was too bitter.  And the crust was thick and hard to cut.  I believe he rolled it out with a Panzer III.  To be fair, good pie crust is not easy to make.  Unless you're my wife.

So we took a big-ass piece of ham and skipped the pie.  But otherwise the container of leftovers was pitifully small.  So we did it again - buy more turkey, stuffing, veggies, roast it all up with potatoes, gravy, hot rolls. Don't forget the cranberry sauce. We named it "Bonus Thanksgiving".

Bonus Thanksgiving is about one thing - maximizing leftovers.  The logic is distinctly American (or, maybe 'murrikan) - consume more up front so it will go farther.  Spend more so you can get bonus points and spend even more.  Hell, it's even more American than the original Thanksgiving.

On a less sarcastic note, it's also a good thing; it's a chance for my family - I, my wife and my kids - to sit down and just enjoy each other over a meal without the additional ten people who make dinner a quasi-stressful event, without dad spending endless minutes detailing how he carefully constructed a Lemon-Panzer pie and describing things like "letting the dough rest in the fridge" as though he just discovered this long lost ancient trick before he shovels down huge mouthfuls of it while making "yummy sounds".

So yeah, Bonus Thanksgiving will be a Chef Cthulhu family tradition. I'm willing to bet Bonus Christmas will, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Prayer...

There are now two prayers that I actually like (well, maybe three if you count the snarky drivel I wrote yesterday).  The first is Lord Nelson's Prayer, penned by the Viscount himself before Trafalgar, where he met his fate.  I like it purely for its historic value, rather than the glaring example of someone justifying his desire for victory in something as amoral as battle with an appeal to a higher moral authority.  A couple of years back I visited HMS VICTORY and got to see the paper on which it was written.  It was rather moving. 

This morning, my cousin posted a prayer on his blog.  This one I also like, a great deal.  And I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

If The Universe Could Hear You...

Well, it's almost time for tryptophan with all the fixin's washed down with the alcohol of your choice, but that doesn't really change the fact that, like the last post I wrote, I have no earthly idea what the hell to write about. It kind of sucks. I started writing here again because I wanted to, but the dearth of motivation is preventing me from really making an effort.

Well, motivation is not really the word. I am motivated to write. I tried doing NaNoWriMo and got all of 400-odd words done. Yay, it says I win just for trying. There are about 6,000,000,000 things I read every day that I'd love to comment on or analyze, but I can never keep my thoughts straight.

I've thought about crazy-ass things like how globalization has made it easy to travel and pass money around, and consequently has made it easier to spread pathogens throughout the globe as evidenced by Max Brook's excellent book World War Z, a zombie book that is about anything BUT zombies.  And then I read about things like the Stuxnet Virus that brings to reality crazy things that Angelina Jolie could stop with her youthful collagen duckface just 15 years ago, when she was only just beginning to make shitty movies.  After putting 2 and 2 together it seems that this computer pathogen could spread globally along similar vectors as zombies, or pandemic influenza, or whatever, given a motivated enough individual to start the process.

But then ... yawn.  Maybe I'll burn the brain cells doing something more inane like configuring my fantasy football lineup for the coming week to keep my 4-game winning streak alive.

But I digress.  Back to Thanksgiving.

Yes the white man came, across the sea, and brought them pain and misery...because, you know, they were already living in harmony and hadn't already been trying to slaughter each other for their land, food and women for the last however many centuries simply because the other injuns lived over the river and through the woods and not here.  Doesn't justify shit, but face it - homo sapiens = bastards whether you have rifles or rocks tied to sticks.

So the Europeans prayed to God and used him as a convenient conversion sham to conquer and when that had petered out they shrouded expansion under his will.  The natives prayed to the Great Spirit or a pile of sticks or whatever and it did them a whole shitload of good.  At least in Innsmouth they pray to Cthulhu and once you get past the fish transformation you get to live forever.

So I found it kind of amusing when yesterday, at the office just stuff yourself and believe you have it good Thanksgiving potluck, a fellow of mine suggested "Let's have the biggest atheist here say grace."  I snerked.  That would have been him, because I'm still an atheist in denial holding on to what vestiges of his agnosticism can still get him by.  But the reason I snerked was because he was standing behind my boss; a good guy, but a dyed in the wool Christian through and through.  Which is probably why he said it.

So when we had broke to eat, I suggested he try this at his table this Thursday:

"Oh Universe, thank you for big-banging and expanding in such a way that your physical properties developed in such a way that I can experience and enjoy the life I have right now.  But you can't hear or understand this, so why am I even saying anything at all..."

But alas, in the end, I will always be a sort of middle-of-the-road guy when it comes to beliefs.  So enjoy the weekend in whatever way gives you the most benefit.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Don't just write something...sit there!

..."What the fuck are you doing here?"

Not much, to tell you the truth. 
So maybe you should write something.

I would if I had anything to write about.

But this place has been idle for 9 days and you told yourself you were going to keep maintaining it better.

Oh, all right...

It's amazing how you can get caught up in the whirlwind of the mundane, just doing shit as it comes.  The problem is November.  R'lyeh gets little done between now and Decemberfest I mean Hey Buy Shit It's Winter no wait Put the Porn Back in XXXmas and Hey Let's Get Smashed On This Night That Happens To Straddle An Arbitrarily Determined Important Day wait that's New Year's (I'll keep that because I actually like getting fucked up once in a while) so in anticipation of that all the little shit that can wait until after the holidays gets front loaded so you have to deal with it all early when it can certainly wait until later.  So you end up working long days on the relatively mundane and insignificant stuff that would be perfectly suited to occupying those first couple of hung over days back in the office.  And in the process, you have little time for anything else like writing shit or reading what other people write.  I thought maybe this would go somewhere, but it doesn't.  So kill it.
Whatever.  I wrote something.  Can I go now?


But I need to.  I have to pack for a trip to Atlanta tomorrow.  And I really have nothing.

Fine.  Whatever.  At least you know your limitations, as mankind should.  So just post a video or something.

No, dumbass! Something with less talent. And more boobs. And big Flinstone puppets.

Oh. Here y'go.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Barkeep! Prithee adimpleate me another homerkin of your finest ale!

For tonight, I toast the Great Cthulhu's lordship over the icthyarchy!  I beg your pardon?  You refuse to serve me?  Then you had best obarmate against my imminent pugnastics by which I shall immediately and impudiciously pudify thee in his great and terrible name!

No, "obarmate" does not mean to ruin the country, so you Tea-Tards keep that word off your signs.

Besides, most of you are obarmated enough already!

Won't you please donate just a few minutes of your time, and save the words?

(Heh, heh! I've finally figured out how to use "Randal words"...)

Friday, November 5, 2010


...the night at the Verizon Center. It'd be better if the fucken' Bruins were winning but they apparently forgot how to shoot. And Thomas forgot how to block shots...

Off for a weekend away after tonight. Back on Monday.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Night Whatever...

Today and tonight will determine what sort of spin the media puts on the abject legislative failure that is Congress agenda will govern the American body politic in the next two years.  My prediction?


At least there is a small group of people that aren't crazy and the stupid Tea Party c*** who won't touch her own because she can't find "separation of church and state" on her labia the Republican lady from Delaware is (reportedly) getting trounced.  Ultimately, it won't change much.

So, while you count percentages and wait for the world to be exactly the same tomorrow as it was this morning I might as well offer this item, brought to my attention by a Facebook friend, as a salve for whatever wounds you may be suffering tonight.

Monday, November 1, 2010

IA!! IA!!! Jack O'Thulhu F'taghn!

Pattern by King-Reaper at Deviantart.  My wife (who is much better manipulating printers and programs than I) got it to print out the right size so we could get it on the pumpkin.  I used an Exacto-knife and a crab-picking tool to cut out the pattern and scrape it to about 3/4" deep.  All in all about 3 hours of work but worth it.

Here's a pic of Jack O'Thulhu, Jack Skellington, and two more Jack O'Lanterns guarding our doorstep this evening.

Have a happy and Lovecraftian Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This fuckin' town is killing me

I remember calling the guy who places me in new jobs (called a "detailer") many months ago, trying to figure out what I was doing next.  I decided I needed to make up for a couple of years of cushy jobs by taking something hard.  I told him Afghanistan, Iraq or Horn of Africa - I figured they're always looking for people to fill the slots, but I was wrong.  They had nothing for me.  A couple of years ago you couldn't beg someone into an augmentee job.  So he told me he had a job for me in a certain 5-sided building sunken city of complex, non-euclidean geometry.

I tried to explain the difference between the building and Afghanistan.  "One place is a meatgrinder and a hazard to life, limb and career.  The other is a country in Central Asia."  It didn't work.  Here I am.

And it turns out I'm right.

If it's not the whacko hostage takers getting gunned down right next to your bus stop...

...or the people shooting at your building in the morning before you show up for work...

...it's the (stupid) Al Qaeda wannabees looking for friends who will help them blow you up.

Of course, you'd be right to point out that I am a volunteer and I didn't have to stay in as long as I did to get to work where I do and when I do.  And you'd be right.  Then I could point out that we also wouldn't be here if our civilian leadership had had a better notion of grand strategy and the use of the military as part of the continuum of foreign policy and not the sole source of foreign policy for the last 15 years or so, and I'd be right.

But I wanna' play the victim today, and hindsight is always 20-20.  Still doesn't change the fact that I eat my breakfast a mere few hundred yards from people who are trying to kill me.  They won't succeed...

I've been doing the Crossfit thing for the last month or so; it's been good for ripping about 15 lbs or so off my fat ass.  I had to scale this workout though (did 5 rounds and only 20 reps of each exercise) because let's face it - I'm not in the shape these gals are in.  Not even close.

Whatever.  I'm out of time and out of bullshit.  Long drive ahead of me tomorrow back up to the Land of Lovecraft to hang with the family this weekend.  I'll have time to think about the (non-) plot of my writing next month.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Well shit what do I do now?

 Facebook Friend: "I've decided to do NaNoWriMo this year. 50,000 words in 30 days, blahblahblah..."

Me: "I thought of doing that once and writing a story that's sort of a combination of Patrick O'Brian and H.P. Lovecraft. I'd call it Master and Cthulhu."

Friend: "You must! I mean, come on: O'Brian even has a book call The Yellow Admiral which is already *this* close to the Admiral in Yellow. Ocean voyages...sunken cities of madness...this stuff writes itself! You owe it to the world, man! C'mon..do it! All the cool kids are!"

So now I'm thinking about it.   Even slinging bullshit, can I get 50,000 words out in a month?  I must admit, it's very tempting.

And even along the lines of what I discussed above.  I wrote a short piece about 18 months ago that was accepted by a Lovecraft-inspired e-zine.  I even noticed that Crum just found it a couple of weeks back.  I figure a fictitious early 19th Century sea voyage of a ship named Innsmouth from the east coast to the Pacific Northwest - through the mysterious waters of the South Pacific, home to R'lyeh, and the big smelly mud-flat of Lovecraft's Dagon, with some native-bred-to-Deep-One intrigue (linking the Pacific-origin of the "Innsmouth Look" to the ship and the story), apeshit madness and mutiny, and throw in the discovery of some bizzare, artifact-driven combination of celestial navigation and ship propulsion that brings Yog-Sothoth into play and I could probably cobble together 50,000 words of crud under the "No plot, no problem!" mantra.

I must admit, it is tempting...since I'm living 400+ miles from my family and have no friends I have several hours a night.  It would put that 18 month-old blog with just two posts on it to some use.  I'm about 95% sold on the idea of it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tee-pee for your mental bunghole...

Fourteen years ago yours truly was in graduate school, studying remote sensing, quantum mechanics, orbital mechanics, cosmology, semiconductors, optics, and a whole host of other brain-grinding classes to earn the title "Master of Science in Applied Physics" with a specialty in space systems. Long, had days of class followed by studying well into the evening; it's a good thing I was single then.

On a typical school night I'd study until 10 pm, then clean up and shower. Then I would de-compress my strained brain by seeking out what it desperately needed - Beavis and Butthead.

There was a certain brilliance to their imbecility. While their adventures were pure, unadulterated silliness, their running commentary while watching the music videos of the day was priceless and really quite insightful. Yes, the Stone Temple Pilots were a shitty Pearl Jam copy. Yes, Ace of Base sucked. Yes, Pantera rocked. It was, for a time, the sole redeeming program on MTV. It's cancellation in 1997 marked the day the channel went from 99% shit to 100% shit.

Music was at an interesting point then. Technology was coming on strong, but not so strongly that you didn't still need some modicum of talent to make it really, REALLY huge in the biz. I've often wondered what a Beavis and Butthead video critique would look like today. Would they wear meat dresses while they watched Lady GaGa spew her highly derivative, talentless crap all over the screen? How would they react to a System of A Down video?  I no longer have to wonder.


Well, according to the New York Post they almost are.  If Mike Judge can keep his comic and artistic integrity that's so evident in King of the Hill, Office Space, and Idiocracy - and why shouldn't he.  I ... gasp! ... would actually be seen watching MTV!

In case you haven't figured it out, the first eight seconds or so of this short video should explain how I feel:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's all Greek to me.

While at one of America's mega-monopolizing book stores today I picked up some new brain food:

Closeup of Vase
Image Source
Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent a man to be suspected.
Man, sounds like they had some real Tea-Partiers on their hands in the days of "hallowed antiquity". 

Yes, I'm going to read Thucidydes' History of the Peloponnesian War.  I'm actually doing a good bit more.  I'm embarking on a personal study of the war based upon three books:

The Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan, widely considered the definitive, single-volume source for the "general reader" looking to understand the event.  It is still around 500 pages -  a decent chunk by anyone's standards.  From it I hope to get a reasonable understanding of the conditions that led to the war between Athens and Sparta and, as the book boldly promises, lessons and insights that are as relevant today as they were 2500 years ago.

The next book I plan to read is A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson.  Definitely a controversial author for his conservative views and support for the war in Iraq, Hanson is nonetheless one of the foremost military historians in the country.  This book examines how both sides fought - on land and on sea, weapons, organization, tactics, etc. - within a somewhat disjointed (he admits as much in the preface) accounting of the history itself.  

Finally, there is The Landmark Thucydides edited by R. B. Strassler, apparently the only amateur of the bunch.  Unlike other translations, this has additional notes and appendices by classical scholars that will help put the text into context for the "uninitiated" reader.  I used a similar annotated text when I read Clausewitz last year, and On War is only 150 years old, so I figure if I'm going back to Greece in the 5th Century B.C., I'll need much the same.  My plan, in reading the above two books (which reference Thucydides extensively) is to refer to Strassler as a primary source to go back to and do all the extensive digging and thinking when I feel the need to do so.

I know I'm getting it backwards, I should probably read the primary source first.  But as many academics will tell you, you smash your brain against the primary source only to finish it wondering "What the fuck did I just read?" until your secondary sources shed light.  I'm not in school anymore, so I'm running straight for the light.

Why am I subjecting myself to this?  Because Daniel Drezner told me I should.  Well, not exactly.  I have, however, deepened my interest in history in the year I was away from the blogosphere, and also gained a new interest in strategy, policy and decision-making, both historic and current.  And to tell you the truth, in much of what I studied over the past year (unfortunately I did not get to study the Peloponnesian War) does echo still today.

In fact, my interest in these topics has expanded so much that I'm planning on writing about them more often, as part of a new policy think-tank.  I think I'll call it:

The R'lyeh Institute for Policy, Strategy and Highly Incomplete Thinking, or RIPSHIT.  Look for it, coming soon...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Every Child Left Behind

I was wondering what to write about when I found this outstanding video on a friend's FB profile...so I'm going to be lazy.

Information, knowledge about HOW we learn, cultural assumptions about who can be educated and standardization / anaesthetization in an industrial-era education system are bad news for our kids.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Write something. Just...write something!

Life pretty much revolves around commuting right now. Since graduating, I've been moved to a job in DC R'lyeh. Instead of ripping my family out of a house, community and school system (this time one we actually LIKE) yet again, we made the decision that I would be the one to go and I would visit the family as much as possible.

Driving to or from work in DC R'lyeh is a laughable proposition, so I take the train. For those who have never taken the Metro, please share in the experience:

The 6 am trains aren't that bad. Not very crowded, and it's easy to tune everyone out with headphones, put on some classical, and read a good book.

Weekends are a different story. For all but two since I've been here (the end of July) I've headed back north to RI. This is where you find out how much the I-95 Corridor FUCKING BLOWS. (Flights are fairly inexpensive; would that I had the $800+ per month to fly back every weekend.) So I've spent much of my time thinking about how to get from the Beltway to RI as quickly as possible by car. The best way I've found (north to Scranton, PA then east on I-84 to RI) still takes 8-9 hours depending on traffic. Until this past Friday.

The view from my weekend...

Average speed was about 1.5 mph for about two hours. When in the middle of a traffic jam I often find myself wondering if it was caused by someone being an idiot and, if it was, if the bastard who caused it "paid" enough. I guess this poor, dumb bastard did. Interestingly, knowing what had caused it made the situation easier to bear. No, not because I was glad the dude got shot and killed. (But, dumbfuck, don't pull a gun on a state cop unless you really, really mean it. And if you have a firearm, it helps not to draw attention to yourself by stealing vehicles.)

Coming back today was similar, but different. I need to take some rural side roads, and passing through a local Fall Arts Festival delayed me for an hour. Hmmmm...Fall Arts Festival. On Columbus Day. I wonder if it used to be a Columbus Day Festival. But not anymore. Now we all have to feel guilty about the course of history. I find recent bitching about holidays to be annoying. All the wingnuts want you to be suitably penitent and somber on any holiday dealing with the military, and want you to thank a vet for every single holiday. And if you're not a Christian you should remain in bed and only breathe just enough of their air so you don't die on December 25th. And if you're a moonbat then any holiday - period - is at its very root a celebration of genocide.

So I had contemplated making a handy-dandy do-it-yourself holiday admonishment mad-lib-like thingy where you could choose from three columns and mix and match to make a silly sentence like

"Don't wash your car on Labor Day because you're just celebrating genocide by giving money to the evil car wash", or

"Don't fart on Thanksgiving because this is a Christian country and Jesus will sic the veterans on your ungrateful ass."

Instead, I'd invite you to make up your own.

But where was I? Oh, back to the driving. I don't always mind the long delays or the long drive. It gives me time to listen to the classic hard rock / metal station on Sirius and remember my misspent youth. Lots of repetition, but lots of good driving songs. Like this old favorite of mine. For some reason, the pedal always hits the floor.

"Don't floor the accelerator when you hear Billy Squier. You're just memorializing Hitler when you do!"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

So what the Hell do you write...

...when you haven't written in forever?

An update? Naaaaaaaah...suffice to say I'm fine and nothing cataclysmic happened.

Hell I have no idea what prompted me to even look at this site again. I wasn't sure where to look for it but then again, you don't find R'lyeh on maps any more these days.

I did find I had received some recent hate mail dealing with Allah panties. Apparently I'm going to get VD from isrelain areal sharen in bed. I hope she's smokin' hot.

Wow. Maybe I'll change my mind and side with the Teabaggers on the whole Ground Zero Gay Wedding Mosque thingy.

Shit...that was an update. Oh well, I guess I'll start writing shit again. Or at least trying. Beats deleting this thing. Well, maybe not. It'd be easier if I hired a typist to take dick-tation - errr, the words I say and type them out.

I think her name's Isrelain.