It was election day in Boise today. Seriously. Three Greater Boise Auditorium District board seats were up for grabs. As you can imagine, it was a heated campaign.
You practically had to fight your way to the polls.
Image credit: momboleum
Well, look at that. Today marks SB’s 100th post. I suppose I should celebrate or something.
Image credit: Skubasteve834
There’s nothing quite like receiving a nasty surprise at the doctor’s office.
One of the nasty side effects of depression is weight gain. Since you don’t want to do anything, you don’t do anything. Since not doing anything means not getting exercise … well, you get the idea. Continue reading
Sunday morning in Riverton, Wyoming. My work here is complete. It’s time to head back to the Command Center and hope I don’t have a full-on feline insurrection on my hands.
But first, a nine-hour drive home awaits. Unlike Friday’s journey, I get to see the rest of western Wyoming in daylight. I’ve been looking forward to this.
Jackalope museum? Now we’re talking!
My first stop on the return trip was the hamlet of Dubois, unfortunately named for a rabidly anti-Mormon U.S Senator from Idaho after the post office vetoed the preferred local name, the much more entertaining “Never Sweat.” The jackalope museum doubles as a convenience store, offering plenty of swag lampooning the Forest Service, but unfortunately no Oberto Bacon Jerky. Oh well, the A.1. Steak Sauce flavor will have to do. The helpful clerk apparently hadn’t heard of EBT before (hey, I’m a starving artist type), so I dutifully paid cash.
Grand Teton National Park looks much, much better during the day. Even if you’re not particularly impressed by mountain views, you really should check this one out someday. It’s quite stunning. You’re also not going to encounter a herd of bison grazing along the roadside in Center City Philadelphia, that’s for damn sure. Like in the dinosaur museum in Thermopolis, I sent Beachy pictures.
“Daddy, pet them!” Um … no.
Once in Jackson, I managed to correct the navigational mistake I made on the way out Friday evening. While the Teton Pass offers a more direct return to Idaho, it isn’t all that much quicker than the more circuitous route I inadvertently took Friday night. Being tailed by a Jackson cop all they way to Victor didn’t exactly expedite things either.
But then again, there’s no speeding through here in a 2004 Ford Focus to begin with.
Image credit: Dana’s Rocky Mountain Excursion
After a quick bite to eat in Idaho Falls (which never seems to be quick enough there), I passed through increasingly familiar territory. Although I drove with the “check engine” light on from Carey onward, the staff car didn’t appear to suffer any ill effects. It’s done that before for no good reason, some sort of cryptic transmission complaint which mysteriously clears itself up after awhile. Anyway, the Pyramid Brothers were particularly glad to see me upon my return.
And thus concludes my Wyoming saga. My next trip of note is scheduled for late July, when Beachy and I head to the Vancouver, Washington, area to see Rush. That’s just as well. Frankly I’m a bit tired of feeling my inner Rick Steves for the time being.
It’s Friday, and I’m tired of writing about Wyoming. I’d much rather share this giant, larvae-filled ant colony Beachy and I found in Grandpa’s backyard this evening. It was pretty awesome.
The ants were not amused. They’ll be even less amused when Grandpa goes to spray them.
How’s that for an intro to this week’s FCR?
My good friend Trevor Dodge, a fellow 2T refugee and an accomplished snarkologist in his own right, came across this little slice of heaven this week.
At the library, no less.
Image credit: Trevor Dodge
Now while I suppose there’s a market for such privileged information in case of a rapture (or more likely, an eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano), I really don’t see how one could write a whole book about it. After all, if what happened in Europe after the Black Death is any indication, all you’d have to do to prosper is show up.
Oh yeah, you might want to avoid Wyoming too. Just saying ….
I normally don’t pay attention to reality TV, but when someone genuinely makes the likes of Gordon Ramsay look as calm, rational and unbiased as Walter Cronkite, it’s hard to look away.
“Non-stick. And that’s the way it is.”
Image credit: Blofeld Dr.
Of course, I’m referring to Ramsay’s now-infamous encounter with the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Amy’s Baking Company as depicted on his series, Kitchen Nightmares. The utter lack of civility, decorum and common sense demonstrated by these restauranteurs – whom Ramsay declared beyond help – is breathtaking.
While there’s a great deal of speculation regarding Ramsay’s work in reality TV, specifically as to how much of it is actually “real,” that’s beside the point here. Among other things, no one in their right mind opens a sit-down restaurant and refuses to let servers keep their tips.
I don’t know about Arizona, but in Philadelphia that would get real ugly, real quick.
Sadly, the YouTube clips I watched were taken down. Still, I encourage you to find and watch the full episode rather than just the highlights. Absolutely stunning.
While martinis can be made with vodka, purists argue this classic cocktail should always be made with gin.
Yes, I’m sure. Even in Wyoming.
When I was in Riverton, Wyoming, this past weekend I had a chance encounter with a descendant of Martha “Calamity Jane” Canarie, an iconic figure of the Old West. His wife even does portrayals of her. Now there’s a History Wednesday topic if there ever was one!
It should be an easy blog entry too, right? Well, the historical Calamity Jane is so intertwined with legend, tall tales and flat out bullshit there’s not much to go on. People can’t even agree on how her real name was spelled.
And we can’t even blame sloppy Arabic translations for that.
Image credit: Jim Gordon
According to Calamity Jane’s autobiography – which itself is called into question as most historians believe Jane was illiterate – she was born in 1852. Or was it 1850? Or 1847? Or earlier? In any event, in the mid 1860s Jane and her family moved in quick succession from Missouri to Montana to Salt Lake City. Along the way both of her parents died, leaving the (apparently) teenage Jane in charge of her younger brothers and sisters. After several more years of bouncing from place to place, by 1874 Jane settled more or less in the Fort Laramie, Wyoming, area.
I’ll go out on a limb and say she wasn’t involved with the cold fusion hoax while in Salt Lake City.
Calamity Jane earned her nickname after ostensibly fighting in the Indian Wars alongside Generals George Custer and George Crook. This is disputed in contemporary sources. After moving to Deadwood, South Dakota, Jane then met and claimed to have married Wild Bill Hickok. While it’s accepted she and Hickok were acquainted, there’s no evidence to suggest the two were ever an item, much less married.
Note the pattern here.
“Tell me about it. Hey, two pair!”
Despite all that’s written about her, there’s not much we can say for sure about Calamity Jane. Sources agree that she was a woman who lived in the late 19th Century American West who dressed as a man, told stories and drank too much. That’s about it. The historical provenance of just about everything else is dubious at best.
Much like this fine period piece.
Yes, Jane was clearly a master storyteller. In her later years she appeared as herself in shows throughout the country, notably Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Despite often being destitute herself, Jane was also universally recognized for her generosity. While in Deadwood, at great risk to her own health Jane often cared for seriously ill adults and children.
Jane died in 1903 after years of whiskey and hard living finally caught up to her. She was buried next to Wild Bill Hickok per her request. Yet even in death Calamity Jane’s penchant for embellishment continued to make the rounds. In 1941 and again in 1996, people publicly claimed to be Calamity Jane’s long-lost daughter or granddaughter. However, to date no evidence has surfaced that Jane ever had children.
As for my acquaintance in Riverton, he claimed descent from one of Jane’s siblings. That’s much more plausible.
I’m almost never awake at 9 am anymore, especially after a horrendous multi-state drive which took several hours longer than expected. Ah, but this is Wyoming. I’m here to do things and see stuff!
But not everything though. Drive-through Bud Light? Nah, not my style.
Although the original intent of this journey was to stay in Thermopolis, the lodgings there proved to be just a bit spendy. I stayed in Riverton instead, which is about an hour away. The drive from Riverton to Thermopolis is quite nice. In particular the last part of the drive through the Wind River Canyon. It’s a must for all you armchair geologists out there. And tunnels? Yeah, they have those too.
The first thing I do when I visit a town for the first time is check it out as much as I can. Thermopolis struck me as kind of two towns in one. The “real” Thermopolis, which anyone who grew up in the American West would find very familiar, and the “tourist” Thermopolis. Yeah, the geography and the hot springs were cool, but even on this Saturday morning in early May the swimming areas were jam-packed. Once the summer season hits I imagine it’ll be cattle call time. In short, I was underwhelmed. When it comes to hot springs, for my money Lava Hot Springs out by Pocatello is a better choice.
“Sulfur? Pfft, seen it.”
Fortunately I didn’t go there to relive my Hydrotube days (even though Thermopolis still totally has one). I went for more Thoreau-esque purposes, to suck the marrow out of life or something. Speaking of marrow, Thermopolis has plenty of bones for public perusal. Where? At the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum, silly!
“Dinosaurs,” I thought to myself. “Of course!”
“Wyoming is world-famous for dinosaurs!”
OK, I went to the dinosaur museum mainly to take some pictures to send to Beachy. Still, I was quite impressed with the place. They have a triceratops, a T-Rex, a nest of baby dinosaurs and even an aptly-named supersaurus. It was actually worth the $10 admission.
The gift shop? Not so much. Damn. Beachy is lucky I found something for only four bucks.
Good thing there were baby dinosaurs.
I spent about three and a half hours in Thermopolis, which as it turns out was about as long as I wanted to be there. My curiosity sated, it was time to head back to Riverton to check that town out. Riverton turned out to be a rather surreal experience.
Thermopolis was just the warmup.
History Wednesday is tomorrow, so, um … continued on Thursday!
I’ve been on the Internet in some form for nearly 20 years. Back then the World Wide Web looked like this:
“Graphics? Are you mad? You’ll crash the entire campus with those!”
Image credit: Russell Boltz
I often miss those days. Everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was in ASCII text. Social networking? That’s what a Telnet-based BBS was for. I still have an account at one. You should go visit them. They’re lonely.
Before 1996 or so there was a definite Wild West feel to being online, especially if you didn’t tie yourself down to some heinous monstrosity like AOL. If you knew what you were doing there were plenty of ways to interact with interesting people worldwide on a completely noncommercial basis.
And you were never, ever short on coasters.
Image credit: techfun
Sadly, those days are long gone. While I’m all for making a buck online, I find it amazing that corporate America is still so bloody clueless about it all these years later. Banner ads? No one looks at those anymore. Pop-ups? Just about any decent web browser can block those. Video spots? Better keep those under 15 seconds, or we’re outta there.
Take YouTube as an example. Given that approximately 99.97 percent of the population clicks that “Skip Ad” button as soon as they see it, I wonder why people bother paying to put up ads upwards of two minutes long, knowing damn well virtually no one will watch more than the first five seconds.
“What were they selling? Who knows? Who cares? Play ‘Gangnam Style’ dammit!”
Some advertisers have grown wise to this and (I assume) plunk down more cash so YouTube will run their entire 15-second ad without a skip option. To YouTube’s credit I haven’t seen them force anything longer, at least not yet. Fifteen seconds is at the upper end of my tolerance, I’ll say that.
If you want something really irritating, check out those sites linked at Cracked and elsewhere which feature articles such as “15 Celebrities Who Are Living with Serious Medical Conditions.” You know, those sites so chock full of ads they take forever to load only to provide you with an absolute bare minimum of content? I had to sit through an entire Wendy’s commercial today, just to find out Kim Kardashian has psoriasis.
Sneferu has more fulfilling moments when he’s licking my hair out of the bathtub.
Image credit: David Shankbone
I keep hoping technology will eventually allow us live in more enlightened times and that we’re just in a state of transition now. But damn, it’s a painful transition.
It’s the 13th installment of the Friday Crap Roundup! Like its predecessors, it’s more cheesy than scary.
Although he can be a bit of a crank, I’m a fan of James Randi and his efforts to expose people with “supernatural” powers for the frauds they are. Earlier this week he called out noted “psychic” Sylvia Browne over her latest epic fail. To wit, on national TV in 2004 Browne told Jouwana Miller – mother of the long-missing Amanda Berry – that her daughter was dead. The problem is Berry was found earlier this week, traumatized but very much alive. The worst part is her mother died several years ago.
I try to keep an open mind about everything, but Randi’s logic is sound. There is simply no scientific evidence whatsoever supporting supernatural phenomena. If someone proves otherwise, great. Until then, can we please dispense with all these idiotic ghost hunter shows?
And for a variety of reasons, don’t even get me started on the goddamn Blair Witch Project.
Tuesday’s post on regional accents was a big hit if my stats mean anything. I wrote that post on a spur of the moment basis after seeing the map on Facebook. Funny how topics like that become popular, while posts I plan days in advance get fewer views than an Abe Vigoda striptease.
You’re on your own with the visuals.
I was hoping for a response from Rick Aschmann regarding my southern Idaho speech sample by now, but a couple days after my post The Huffington Post ran a story about his site too. Since they get a few more hits than I do, I suspect he’s pretty inundated at the moment. No fair! I wrote about it first!
In response to Duke’s comment, people are telling me things like that all the time now. Perhaps they feel sorry I’m turning 40 in a few weeks. Who knows?
Since I’m on the road today (this FCR was written in advance), I figure some good travel music is in order:
Fitting, given that Atomic City is on the itinerary.
It might not seem like it if one listens to American mainstream culture, but Mexico has come a long way in the last 25 years or so. While the country continues to face some very serious issues, it has also become a fairly stable multiparty democracy. Indeed, in my humble opinion one which has outpaced most of the former Soviet Bloc nations over the same time period.
This is in spite of being the scene of the shortest tenure of any head of state in recorded history. More on that in a moment.
After declaring independence from Spain in 1810, Mexico endured two absolute monarchies (one of which came courtesy of the Hapsburgs), several disastrous wars and enough outright corruption to make Silvio Berlusconi look like a paragon of honesty.
This guy lost over half of the country yet still managed to become president … 11 TIMES.
By the turn of the 20th Century Mexico was well into a period known as the Porfiriato, an era of repression dominated by the virtual dictatorship of President Porfirio Diaz, who had effectively been in power since 1876. Although the Porfiriato represented by far Mexico’s longest period of stability to date, it was anything but democratic.
Finally tired of decades of stagnation, the Mexicans overthrew Diaz in 1911 after a ham-handed attempt to hand the aging strongman yet another re-election “victory.” This event sparked what became known as the Mexican Revolution.
“Wait, did somebody say, ‘stagnation?’”
Anyway, unfortunately for Mexico Diaz’s overthrow soon degenerated into an all-out civil war with multiple competing factions. This is the era which produced Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, who effectively became warlords in the north and south respectively. By the time the dust settled in late 1920 Mexico went through 11 presidents in the space of less than 10 years.
Francisco Madero was the main figure during the early stages of the Mexican Revolution. A liberal reformer strongly influenced by Benito Juarez, Madero became president in late 1911. In the hopes of establishing national unity Madero included pro-Diaz and other conservative figures in his government, who then proceeded to bring reform efforts to a standstill.
In February 1913 forces led by Generals Victoriano Huerta and Felix Diaz (the former president’s nephew) staged a coup d’etat against the Madero government with support from Henry Lane Wilson, the American ambassador. On 19 February Madero was forced to resign and was executed a few days later.
The idea, of course, was to make Huerta the new president. There was just one problem. Huerta wanted everything to be “legal,” but he wasn’t in the presidential line of succession. Well, that’s where our friend Pedro Lascurain comes into the picture.
“Pedro, we have a little job for you ….”
Under the constitution of the day, as foreign minister Lascurain was fourth in the presidential line of succession. Since Huerta had already forced out the first three – Madero, the vice president and the attorney general – Lascurain was legally entitled to become president, which he did with Huerta’s blessing.
President Lascurain had two items on his agenda: (1) appoint Huerta as interior minister (and therefore next in the line of succession) and, (2) resign. He dutifully accomplished both. Huerta then called a late-night session of the Mexican Congress to validate the move, which they did with Huerta’s soldiers training their guns on them so they didn’t miss the point.
Sources disagree exactly how long Lascurain served as President of the United Mexican States, but it was certainly less than an hour. Perhaps quite wisely, Lascurain left politics immediately afterward.
Huerta then took it upon himself to establish a military dictatorship which made the Diaz regime look like an anarcho-syndicalist commune. Meanwhile in Washington, President Woodrow Wilson – aghast that Ambassador Henry Lane Wilson (no relation) took such a leading role in this mess – recalled the rogue diplomat and demanded Huerta schedule elections. The diplomatic situation quickly deteriorated from there, leading directly to the occupation of Veracruz the following year.
“Yeah. Thanks a lot.”
Although the Huerta regime lasted less than 18 months before it succumbed to rebel forces, the general – often called El Chacal (“The Jackal”) – remains one of the most vilified figures in Mexican history. As for Lascurain, he quietly spent the rest of his life as an attorney and law school director.