May 10

Friday Crap Roundup XIII

It’s the 13th installment of the Friday Crap Roundup! Like its predecessors, it’s more cheesy than scary.

Prediction: Total Crap

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?

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And for a variety of reasons, don’t even get me started on the goddamn Blair Witch Project.

Accentuating the Positive, or Something

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.

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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?

Track of the Week

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.

May 09

SB is Wyoming Bound!

The time has come. Tomorrow morning I leave the Command Center for a couple days to go on my annual pointless vacation. Last year, it was to Salmon, Idaho. This year: Thermopolis, Wyoming.

“But Lane,” you might say, “you’re a city guy. Why the hell would you drive eight hours to a small town in Wyoming where you don’t even know anyone?” Well, the main reason is because I’ve never been there before. While I’m unquestionably more city than country, I also like to go off the beaten path every now and again. Why did I go to Salmon last year? It was because it was the largest city in Idaho I had never been to. I believe that distinction now belongs to Orofino.

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Home of the Maniacs (and a state mental hospital too).

Speaking of crazy, that’s main reason I chose Thermopolis this year, because of its crazy name. Of course, the town is actually so named because of the hot springs surrounding it. It’s in Hot Springs County, after all. Duh. I should have realized hot springs make the place somewhat touristy, which in turn means lodging in the area is a bit pricey. The best rate I could find was $70 a night, and that was at one of those places where I suspect the mattresses are older than I am. Yeah, I don’t want to go THAT bad.

Nevertheless, I’m still going to Thermopolis. I’m just not staying in Thermopolis. Instead, I’m setting up camp at the Motel 6 in the lovely town of Riverton, about 50 miles away. That’s as large as I wanna live right now.

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Yee haw.
Image credit: MoEaFaTi

So what am I going to do there? Same thing I did in Salmon last summer: avoid the touristy areas and just hang around. I’m pretty easy to entertain.

What has me really jacked about the trip is the route I’m taking. Instead of going through the 2T, I’m taking a more direct route through locales such as Fairfield and Arco. I’ll be visiting some places I haven’t been to in nearly 20 years and others I’ve never been to at all.

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Gives you kind of a warm feeling inside, doesn’t it?
Image credit: Squelle

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for real-time snark updates. A full travel diary will appear next week.

May 05

Relics of a Geek

Earlier today I stumbled across a Facebook conversation regarding those wedding dress shopping shows on TLC and what not. Like my friend, I fail to see the allure of something like Say Yes to the Dress. Beachy, however, is steadily moving away from Disney Channel and towards TLC. That show is one of her favorites.

“I’m pretty sure second-graders are in TLC’s target demographic now,” I commented to uproarious approval.

Then the conversation turned to what sort of things we watched or played with at that age. Some like to play “marriage.” Others liked to play “doctor.” I suppose I had more in common with the latter.

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Although I’ve never been terribly fond of roleplaying.
Image source: crackedmoon

They were my sister’s Barbies. Weirdos.

Anyway, Beachy’s sometimes odd behavior has plenty of precedent. In 1981 my class made Easter Bunny figures out of eggshells. Naturally most of my colleagues went with springy, pastel and/or religious themes. Finding that shit boring as hell, I dressed mine as figures from the then-recent assassination attempt on President Reagan.

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“Chasing Jodie Foster’s tail, up and down the bunny trail ….”

Then as now, not all of my interests revolved around the prurient and/or borderline psychotic. Not even close. My most cherished childhood possession? That’s a no-brainer. It’s my copy of the 1976 World Book Encyclopedia, which I still possess. Every time I sit down to write SB they’re on a shelf less than five feet away, acting as something of a talisman of a simpler time. Or one when Jerry Ford was still president, anyway.

Although I don’t refer to them anymore in this era of Wikipedia, they still rest in a place of honor here in the Command Center, all 22 splendorous volumes. I also have the complete 1945 Book of Knowledge, an encyclopedia set originally owned by my grandmother.

So while other kids were reading stuff like Charlotte’s Web and various Judy Blume titles, this was what I was reading. A lot.

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A LOT.

I wasn’t entirely a mutant, though. As a matter of fact, I have an original Optimus Prime from around 1985 in the staff car trunk right now. It’s not in Antiques Roadshow quality to say the least, but I still can’t bear to part with it.

I also can’t figure out where else to put it. It’s been in my trunk for over four years now.

May 04

The Twaddle of Twitter

Although I’ve had an account there for a couple years, I’ve only recently warmed up to Twitter. As a writer, when it comes to social media I prefer the free-form style of Facebook. There are certain things which simply cannot be said in 140 characters.

Still, there are plenty of sophisticated people on Twitter who tweet intelligent things. Indeed, attempting to compose a complete thought – complete with the requisite hashtags and replies – in the space provided can be a worthwhile challenge.

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Especially if you’re not saying, “R U A BELIEBER 2? OMG! LOL ❤ #corporatewhore”

I set my Facebook postings to automatically copy to my Twitter account. Fully 75 percent of my tweets come from that. However I’ll go over to Twitter and post directly there from time to time. I’ll do this especially if I want to reach people who aren’t necessarily on Facebook.

Given my penchant for snark, you may be surprised that those of you who “follow” me find yourselves in very good company. Among others, my followers include the Mayor of Boise, a major news outlet, a former NFL player, members of the Idaho Legislature, published authors and even a United States Senator.

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Flattop and all.

While this is all well and good, the number one reason I’m on Twitter is to advertise SB. You know, get as many eyeballs on the blog as possible. That said, my numbers were, shall we say, lacking. So a couple weeks ago I came across one of those Twitter “follow back” accounts, which is kind of an electronic chain letter, but without the threats of eternal damnation.

It’s also free. As anyone who’s been online for any amount of time knows, “online marketing” is one of three things on the Internet you never, ever pay for.

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The other two, of course, are news and porn.
Image credit: Luke Hollins

So did this little ploy work? Well, sure. Within moments I was getting new followers left and right. Now I’m up to nearly 100! Woo hoo! Yes I know having only 100 followers sucks, but let me have my moment, dammit!

The real problem is I didn’t get a lot of follows from the aforementioned sophisticated people. However, I did get a shitload of followers among 15-year-olds who worship Lil Wayne and communicate in wingdings. That’s OK I suppose, but …

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… let’s just say I’m not reaching my target demographic here.
Image credit: ~psdlab

So, my faithful, sophisticated and snarky SB readers, help a guy out and follow me. My Twitter feed is getting stupider by the day.

Apr 27

Lane Has Some Mystery Crap to Share With Their Friends!

Beachy is more proficient with the computer with each passing day. All in all, this is a good thing. She’s relatively comfortable with Windows now, and she’s finally stopped calling the mouse the “remote.”

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Which I think she did to annoy me.
Image credit: Jim Rees

Surprisingly, we made it through the day without watching a single Smosh video. That’s because Beachy remembered she had some Facebook games going. So, we spent the better part of the morning playing YoVille and Café World. This is a slow, painful torture for me, not only because of the surfeit of cutsey tween crap in these games, but also because Grandpa’s DSL connection has all the pep of a Trabant 601.

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“DAAAAADY!!!!”

As you’re probably aware, YoVille, Café World, Mafia Wars, FarmVille and several other Facebook games are created by an outfit called Zynga. While these games have many diverse themes, the basic gameplay is the same. To wit, click to get and/or make stuff, click to annoy friends to give you stuff, complete “quests,” and experience Sisyphean labor firsthand as Zynga constantly bombards you with new tasks and features without giving you time to master the existing ones.

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Their logo should be a coked-out hummingbird.
Image credit: Mdf

This last bit is important, because Zynga offers a myriad of features and labor-saving utilities by charging you credits. That is, credits you buy with real money. Yes, people buy said credits by the millions. However, they comprise fewer than 10 percent of those playing Zynga games overall. This, along with the games’ inherently annoying qualities, probably explains why Zynga’s stock today is worth roughly one-third of what it was when the company went public in December 2011.

I admit these games are addictive to the uninitiated. I played a few of them myself for a time. Finally I got tired of the aggravation, as well as the never-ending Facebook wall posts to loan a hoe here or taste a pie there. So a few months ago I uninstalled all the apps and set my game notifications to “ignore.”

Here’s the rub. Even though I don’t play anymore Zynga still has all my game profiles loaded on their servers. Yeah, you can still visit my CityVille town or plow my FarmVille fields. Beachy still has me as her Café World “employee.” Before I stopped playing she took the liberty to “dress” me.

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Which I KNOW she did to annoy me.

Apr 26

Friday Crap Roundup XI

It’s another Friday in the 2T, so it’s time to pollute the Internet with another Friday Crap Roundup. Beachy is in a foul mood because some kid trashed a killdeer nest at school today. As for me, it was yet another boring-ass drive down here. At least I got to use the air conditioner today.

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But come Monday, bullies goin’ down.
Image credit: Вasil

This Here’s a Union Blog Now

In terms of finding stuff that’s funny and/or stupid, this week sucked. Maybe I should try harder, or maybe people should try to be funnier and/or stupider.

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Well, this guy opened a library, but who gives a rat’s ass?

Anyway, for lack of material the week’s highlight is that I officially became a union thug. That’s right, I’m now a member of the National Writers Union, which is a local of the United Auto Workers. I figure it’s high time I went out and shopped my skills for income, or something like that. So if you wanna hire me, you know where to find me.

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And no, I don’t get the juxtaposition either. Just go with it.

And Now, a Shameless Plug

Hey! In case you hadn’t heard, you can like me on Facebook. You can even like Djoser and Sneferu now!

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Cute kitties! You can friend cute kitties on Facebook, or something ….

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter as well! Pinterest too, I guess. Can someone explain the appeal of Pinterest to me?

Track of the Week

Ah, what the hell. Let’s take it down another notch to finish the week.

Smooth.

Apr 22

A Gift to Google

SB has been around for nearly three months. In that time I’ve managed to cover nearly 1,300 topics in over 70 posts and probably in the neighborhood of 10,000 words, the size of a short book. Naturally, that’s caused some disparate search engine traffic. Today I want to share the highlights of those searches with you. For one, it’s funny. For another, it’s yet another lazy-ass way to put a post together.

These findings are based on Google searches, as Bing and the others didn’t have a lot of material to work with. I know many of you were looking for something other than a silly-ass blog from Idaho, so I’m trying to help out with some facts about the topics you really want to read about. I’ve already covered SB’s top search query, “gr8tits2play,” several times. I’m not going to discuss that further today.

Main Street Guitar Company

Despite being mentioned a grand total of once here before today, SB appears as the third link in a Google search for this term. That tells me there’s not a whole hell of a lot of information on this company.

It appears Main Street Guitar Company is (or more likely, was) based in Cedar City, Utah, of all places. The company has no web site, and every indication is the Cedar City location is no longer in business. As for my Main Street bass, it was made in China. I can tell because the sticker on the back of the headstock clearly says so.

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My phone battery is charging. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.

As for the quality, I can tell you I paid well under $100 for my instrument used. Glean from that what you will.

Feodor I

History Wednesday’s top contribution to Google appears to be its account of the hapless 16th Century Russian czar. SB makes a first-page appearance for the term, ahead of entries from such august scholastic organizations such as, um, Answers.com.

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Feodor would be 455 years old if he were alive today. How about that?

As for Feodor’s much better-known father, Ivan the Terrible … yeah. I have my SEO work cut out for me on that one.

Honey Boo Boo

Uh oh. Google’s webmaster tools tell me SB has an average search rank of 11th for this train wreck. Thankfully, an actual search proves this isn’t the case. Google doesn’t even have me in the first 10 pages …

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… yet. Oh, this could get ugly.
Image credit: ~AngryDogDesigns

My Favorite Search Terms

Of course, not all the search terms that stick around here have any staying power. Many are simply hilarious, such as:

“desirable outcome carnival cruise triumph”
“when did a trading post at moose factory get stupid”
“has anybody really thought about the logistics to the movie air bud”
“strom thurmond takes a dump”
“do cats try crap on astro turf”
“ghaddafi leisure suit”
“what in the hell is going on at idaho state university”

“The last time I saw people covered in that much feces they were touring the White House with Al Roker!”

Beautiful. Keep it up, y’all.

Oh yeah, for fans of SEO, “gr8tits2play.” Ha, ha!

Apr 19

Friday Crap Roundup X

Woo hoo! We’ve made it to the 10th Friday Crap Roundup! What’s the anniversary gift for that? Ah yes … iPads.

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Just be glad it’s not spyware behind Door #3 … this time.

Quite Simple, Really

SB is not a soapbox for me or anyone else, so I try to keep the political comments to a minimum. However, this graphic I came across on Facebook earlier this week is too good not to share.

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No caption necessary.

Hey, What About …

Longtime readers have no doubt noticed I haven’t said much about Cracked or the gym recently. The reason is quite simple. I haven’t done anything with either. Doing something about that is on my agenda for the next few days. No, really. Trust me.

A Word on Phnom Penh Nightlife

Since I started this blog around 10 weeks ago I’ve deleted nearly 550 spam comments … and kept four which were legitimate. It’s obvious these people don’t read the posts. Case in point: one guy told me, “I like Your Post about Khmer Karaoke Celebrities.” Um, WTF?

SB has covered some 1,250 topics since its inception, but I’m pretty sure “Khmer karaoke celebrities” isn’t among them.

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Yup … pretty sure.
Image credit: dalbera

I would have kept the comment, but I don’t want to encourage the bastards. Let them hawk their fake Nikes and Dutch porn sites elsewhere.

Track of the Week

Rush was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week, an egregious slight finally rectified. Let the lobbying for Mojo Nixon commence.

About damn time.

Apr 18

Fighting the Electronic Prostate

There almost wasn’t an SB post today. It’s not my fault, dammit. My Internet connection has been spotty at best, holding just long enough for me to open a web browser before it takes a dump again. The fact cable modem support is an exercise in futility doesn’t help.

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“Is your computer on? Did you power cycle the modem? Did you sacrifice an ocelot to the Rapa Nui?”

With the possible exception of watching Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, there’s nothing more annoying than a craptacular Internet connection. Granted, this doesn’t happen near as much here as it does in the 2T, but it’s still a pain in the ass. Especially when I have shit to do. How bad is it? Well, it took me a solid hour to download a single photo from Wikimedia Commons.

I better end this post before I push my luck too far. Sorry ’bout that.

Apr 16

Bits for Vanity

There are two types of people in this world: people who occasionally Google themselves, and damn liars. Last night I felt that self-congratulatory urge.

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Wait, Myspace is still around?

I’ve been on the Internet for some time. It’ll be 20 years in October as a matter of fact. As a result there’s a lot miscellaneous electronic flotsam related to me. For example, a Google search might lead you to incorrectly assume I’m still an insurance agent or even running for Governor of Idaho. Sadly, neither has been the case for years. You might also notice I edited a book many moons ago. That remains true.

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Pictured: Hardcore writer’s narcissism.

I admit I have an easier time finding information about myself on Google than some. “Lane Startin” is a fairly distinctive name, much more so than, say, a “John Smith” or a “Jennifer Jones.” That means I can reasonably assume anything that turns up is about me.

Which makes results such as this all the more perplexing:

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Flabbergasting.

I suppose when and if this blog becomes an integral part of society they’ll let me have a Wikipedia article again. But knowing Wikipedia as I do, probably not.

More Facebook Crap

Hey! Did you know SB’s staff cats Djoser and Sneferu have Facebook pages now? Click on their names to “like” them. They’ll be eternally grateful, I think ….

Oh yeah, I have a Facebook page to “like” as well. Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter!