Goat Blogging

goats-grazing-lock-the-gate1Finally, the definitive goat blog!

The goat blog the world has been waiting for was just launched yesterday, but already it has advice about every kind of goat exigency anyone could imagine. What if your goat needs a job? What kind of goat do you need for allergies? And is your goat namby-pamby?

For instance, what about goat politics? In the section on Head Butting, all is explained:

What’s the point of being head goat?  It is mostly about food.  You get first choice of everything while the others just stand back and wait until you are finished.  If there is a catch it is that the other goats are going to be expecting you to stand in front when they come face to face with a panting great dane.

The blogger lives in Norway with his goats and other family members.    Welcome to the blogosphere!


Photo: –the sign (in Norwegian) says “goats grazing, please lock the gate”!

Posted in Goats. 2 Comments »

Corpse Photography

There used to be one curious photograph in our family photo album–a picture of a baby in a casket on the porch of a farm house. All of us were either not born yet or too young to remember when the baby died, so the photo was our only link with it. Did the profile look like the any of us? I don’t know, it was a baby, but people did linger over that photo. It was also the only photo of a deceased family member I have ever seen. Until now.

I was unable to be at the funeral of a family member who died recently but the photos are now online at the funeral home website–photos of the deceased from various angles and photos of family members I don’t know–probably the grown up children of people I do know. None of them look like they are exactly at their best, and none of them look like how I want to remember them. Yes, you can order them online for a fee, and no, no one I know in the family plans to buy one.

During the Cold War, I don’t remember pictures of corpses. It was always sort of a taboo. In the newspaper business, the policy was always to show any dead bodies so that the faces were not identifiable. Can you imagine a family having to come across something like that by accident?

Now that our wars have moved to the Middle East, corpses have became the new propaganda tool. In Somalia the photo of an American soldier killed in fighting and dragged around the streets galvanized public opinion and got American troops out of the country. In Palestine’s West bank, photos of dead Israeli babies were posted on the streets with gloating victory slogans, while photos of dead Palestinian babies were shoved under the noses of visiting westerners by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. During the Iraq war, friends in the Middle East–people who were normal by Middle Eastern standards–sent me links to pictures of dead Iraqi babies. In the latest Gaza war, Hamas again trotted out dead baby pictures as part of the propaganda war.

It seems we have now become so calloused that seeing pictures of corpses is now normal, where it was never normal before. Is that why I can now see a picture of a deceased family member online halfway across the country? Or maybe it’s just a matter of different customs in different parts of the country or in different families.

Is there anyone out there whose family does take pictures of the deceased?

Questions are a Burden

prisoner-penny-farthing-550Which is your favorite quotation from The Prisoner?

  • Questions are a burden to others: answers a prison for oneself
  • I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I am not a number, I am a free man!
  • The butcher with a sharpest knife has the warmest heart

Patrick McGoohan fans can vote for more of their favorite maxims or watch the series free online.

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Mike “Are you people nuts” Doogan turns cyberstalker

blogger-dooganLet me add my voice to the blogosphere echo chamber of outrage over the actions of Alaska representative Mike Doogan.  Mike Doogan stalked and outed the anonymous author of the popular Alaska politics blog, Mudflats. Not only did Doogan publish her name, he did so at taxpayer expense in the House Democratic legislators official newsletter, where it still appears. (No, I’m NOT going to give a link.) I guess they must not have any lawyers on their staff to advise them about that.

She also published the “Are you people nuts?”  letter received by some of his constituents on Christmas Eve.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 1) Bloggers are entitled to free speech, 2) Bloggers have the right to political speech, 3) Bloggers have the right to stay anonymous.

Yet another example of liberals eating their own.

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Puma Man Mystical Icons

pumaman-chest-logo1Ah, a new Puma icon. Puma Man is a totally camp super hero flick from the 80’s.  Here is a trailer in English, an Italian promo, and a ten-page plot description.  Not much here for plot, but there are some definite possibilities in the sartorial and iconology departments.

Apparently the real hero is not Puma Man, but an Aztec shaman who discovers Puma Man’s identity by a series of mysterious defenestrations throughout London. Eventually the movie’s namesake, Puma Man is tossed out a window and survives, proving his capability for flying. (And what’s that puma symbol on his chest?)

pumaman-magic-belt-buckle1pumaman-shaman1While Puma Man learns to fly (with the help of the mystical Puma belt buckle), his ams and legs flailing blindly in front of the low budget special effects backdrops, the shaman, dressed in the latest Puma-shaman muscle shirt with mystical designs, keeps kissing his amulet and thanking the Puma Gods, but he still ends up fighting all the bad guys himself single-handedly. It’s another case of “you were the change you were waiting for.”

What is Puma Man doing now? He’s now a medical malpractice lawyer in New York City (altonlawfirm.com).  When the Daily Show did a video about malpractice lawyers in 2005, he was one of the talking heads.

H/TBrad of Rumproast, formerly of PumaPAC, who posted the link at Rumproast on 03/27/09 at 01:36 AM;  honorable mention to ritamaepuma (who posted it 7 minutes later on PumaPAC 03.27.09 at 1:43 am).  They obviously read each others’ material on a minute by minute basis. Sometimes the fights these blogs engage in remind me of religious zealots whose theological points are minutely different from each other in such esoteric ways that they cannot be fathomed by outsiders but who nonetheless persist in fighting each other to the death rather than turn their attention to those at the opposite end of the spectrum or to the social ills they both claim they wish to solve.

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Bedouins and goats

Here is a Jordanian goat.


The goat belongs to Fatma. Fatima is the one on the left. Yes, they have tatoos on their faces. I found out later that Jordanian women don’t usually allow themselves to be photographed.  I hope I don’t get into trouble with the Bene Sakr for this one.

Fatima is stirring up the goats with a stick to try to get them to be more photogenic for the picture.


Then Fatma took a picture of me with the goat. I don’t know if she ever used a camera before.


[photo edited]

I know a Jordanian guy who put a photo of his wife on the internet–she had a proper scarf on, hair completely covered  and everything.  He had to take it down after some guys at work started making nasty comments about her. There were pictures of his kids too, but that wasn’t a problem.  I wanted to take a picture of her–I had stayed with the family a few times–but by then she didn’t want anyone taking her picture because of the bad experience.

It’s too bad when women’s photos have to be removed–in any culture. You don’t see that happening with men.

Starting a blog

wordpress-blog1So your friends want you to start a blog.  And yourself, not so much.  Maybe.  Depending.

A lot of work, right? You have to post regularly and keep thinking of new topics, right? You have to deal with personalities and readers, right?…build up a core of readers who are interested in your topics?

No.  Forget all of that.

You don’t have to do anything.

You don’t have to have any comments at all. You can close comments on individual posts or for the whole blog. You can have just a title page if you want. Some blogs are nothing more than a resume or a collection of frequently used links. Some bloggers post once a month, others even less, and some just post pictures.  Their  blogrolls are gold mines for the right enthusiasts and the blogs serve as an introduction to the person’s way of looking at the world.

Okay, so you’re convinced.  You want your own blog.  What do you do? First you need a domain name. There are several blogging services that will give you a free one. Blogspot and Livejournal are popular, but the best one is WordPress. You can do a lot with their format and it’s very intuitive. The utilities for dealing with images are very easy to use and they give you enough space to upload almost limitless photographs. The only drawbacks to WordPress are 1) You can’t use your blog for commercial purposes (like Google ads). 2) If someone views your blog with Internet Explorer, they may see it with ads that WordPress puts there.   Still, I like WordPress better than the others.  Or, if you want to spend money, you can get your own domain.

goat-blog2If I had a friend, purely hypothetical of course, who wanted to do a quick blog that would give him an identity page to link to and make his friends deliriously happy, I would recommend a WordPress blog. This type of blog is totally free and could have anything in it from goats to architecture to cruise ship lavatories to just photographs.  Did I mention goats?

How to get started?  Go to WordPress.com and register for a blog.  You will need a unique name that no one else has. If you want to blog anonymously you might also want to set up a separate email account just to register, so your real email address isn’t visible if you comment on a blog with the wordpress format.

toilet-ajp toilet-ajpc

RumpRoast loses Hubcap

Tears rolled down my cheeks this morning as I read the obit of the Rumproast cat, Hubcap. The photogenic Hubcap had captured my imagination as a small fighter who in spite of her size, met life’s challenges with dignity, determination, and extended claws. Her character showed in her face, and even though I’m not an artist, I tried to capture her timeless spirit in a reworking of totalitarian art in the Shepard Fairey style.  Her owner Kevin seems to be one of the most laid back and least toxic of the rumproasters; perhaps it was the influence of this remarkable animal. Ah, well, Hubcap is with Ceiling Cat now.


One blogging community uses a single period by itself in obituary threads as shorthand for a moment of silence.

For Hubcap:

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What’s Wrong with Chicago Housing

“What’s wrong with Chicago housing.” I was told in the staff room, “is that the landlords can’t get rid of tenants.” A friend of his had a tenant who owed a year’s rent. Legally there was no way to get him to move out. In the end the tenant asked for ten thousand dollars to leave, but settled for five thousand. The landlord considered it money well spent.

Can this story be true?

I had just described my latest housing woes. If a tenant is making noise after ten o’clock the police will respond. Apparently repeated police calls can get the landlord in trouble, so the rumor is the landlords can’t do anything about a tenant until the police have been called. And it’s not considered good form to call the police until you have talked to the landlord to try to resolve it. But these new tenants make noise during the day, when I’m trying to read or prepare for class, and the tenant in the back who works night is trying to sleep. (As soon as she is out the door, the rest of her family thinks it’s party city–but that was last month’s battle.)

My coworker’s friends could find me a good place to live in the same neighborhood where I work, he assured me. (as usual, click to enlarge)

img_3489-green-bay-windows1 img_3459-city-sports img_3461-la-mexicana img_3463-two-story img_3456-pay-phones There are people who would rather leave their buildings empty than rent to the wrong people. A tenant who can pay their rent on time every month is in demand and can find a good situation.

How much? Less than four hundred a month.

And for $400 I could get what, a one bedroom? More than that. I might even become part of an extended family and be invited to parties. (And what do you bet I could get close to becoming bilingual?)

Back at the homestead, one of the other tenants told me she saw the new upstairs tenant–the one causing my current woes–sitting around on the stairs with a bunch of gang-bangers. She says she’s upset–her kids don’t gang bang. There are already gang signs in the alley that weren’t there two years ago.  Now what?  Add to that the beer bottles on the front boulevard and under the porch and the funny incense smell wafting through the building. Mene, mene, …

Last week the landlord assured me he was writing “quiet enjoyment of premises” into all the new leases. But realistically does it matter?  Can a tenant only be evicted for criminal activity? Or at all? Or does a landlord just have to fill an apartment without any regard for what the tenants are like? Should I just be grateful this one doesn’t have eight visitors every hour who stomp up the stairs and stay for five minutes before tromping down the stairs again?

This week I have called the landlord several times already to complain about the noise level from the new tenants upstairs, but today around ten I was awakened with what sounded like a tuba solo shaking every room.  Um pa. Um pa. Sticking my nose out the door I could still hear it from outside the building, but there an entire mariachi ensemble, not just the base line, could be distinguished.  Could this be captured on a little digital camera?  Here it is:

Update:  Curious, here is a conspiracy video with lots of scary low bass notes. And there’s always Holst’s Planets. The Mars movement has some good bass notes; YouTube doesn’t do it justice though. This recording is quite bad, in fact it’s not so much a recording as a digital version, but the low notes have a remarkable vibrational effect.

New update:  My new neighbors are now quiet–after I played the YouTube for the landlord!! Let’s hope it stays that way and that I don’t have to move.

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Zinzin Road

I can never resist anything with the word “road” in the title. There’s the Kipling poem “Road to Mandalay”, Kerouac’s beat generation epic “On the Road”, and Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.”  I’m also intrigued by any word with the letter “z” in it.  It brings to mind such exotic references as the well “Zem-Zem” in Mecca (I have tasted water from this well, brought back by a pilgrim) and the Zagazig puzzle from the Fu Manchu book series, an encrypted message based on an Egyptian town with that name.  So when I saw the title “The Road to Zinzin” on the shelf of the local Unique Boutique second hand store, my 35¢ was as good as spent.

peacecorpslogoThe Road to Zinzin by Fletcher Kniebel, published in 1966, turns out to be a Peace Corps book.  It is written in an engaging style–lots of characters and conversations–so it’s going to be an easy read.  And I have known plenty of Peace Corps volunteers–most recently I dated a guy who had been in western Africa, the setting for this book–so the settings and situations grab me immediately.

Here’s a great snippet of conversation:

“I accept,” said Lew.  “Some day, though, when I’ve got a paying job, I’m going to write to you for my board bill.”

“Forget it,” said Stevenson. “Feeding the Peace Corps is one of the few worthwhile things I do.”

May Allah bless all the Stevensons of this world.

Other situations will also be familiar to volunteers.  One volunteer (only one?) has an intestinal affliction and must leave the room suddenly.  Volunteers use the local expressions and customs when greeting each other. There is a volunteer from Mt. Holyoke. Corruption is rampant in the country: supplies meant for schools get derailed, officials think of reasons to charge locals for non-existent services, and volunteers’ housing is owned by locals with ties to the agencies involved  who make a killing on the rents. The narrator’s life in-country gets complicated by someone with local influence.

Other situations are not as easily recognizable. Volunteers have political discussions and criticize the local government instead of being incurious about the country they find themselves in. They drive motorcycles instead of taking public transportation. They live clustered together in one village and not isolated where they can be immersed in the culture. They don’t learn the local language, except for one guy who has “gone native” (doesn’t PC have the best and most intensive language program in the world?). The emphasis is on development, not cultural exchange (this must have been before the wording of the PC goals was officially changed). There is a staffer who drives around and brings their mail instead of having it get lost in the country’s postal system or forgetting  it in a corner of the Peace Corps office.  And the staffer actually cares about the volunteers’  malfunctioning appliances instead of how many times a week they can get into the embassy swimming pool.  The volunteers in the fictional account actually stay in Peace Corps for the whole two years.  Although the Peace Corps doesn’t publish its attrition rates, in my experience, at least 50% of real volunteers are gone within a year.

Already there is an inter-racial romance in the plot, quite edgy for the  60’s, but likely to be pretty ho-hum by 2009 standards. But after living through the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, I’m ready to go back in time and peer through this little window to the 60’s.  Take me home,  Zin-zin road.

Here’s one reflection from a volunteer in the book that  isn’t dated:

Maybe in two years out here I haven’t helped Kalya or the U.S. much, but I’ve sure learned a lot about myself and other people, and that’s worth the price of admission.

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