Saturday, April 29, 2006

My father, myself...


Today is my father's birthday. He was born April 29, 1915. If he was alive, he would be 91. He died 14 years ago, the same year my niece was born. It's how my brother remembers the year my father died. I usually just remember the feelings, not the year.

I think I look like my father. Sometimes I look into the mirror and see his face, especially now that I am middle aged and have gray hair. But I also think I looked like him when I was younger as well.


I look like my father, but I don't think I am like my father. It's hard to say. He was a Taurus and very stubborn. I am a Pisces like my mother and I think I am more flexibly stubborn than he was. I have blue eyes and he had brown eyes.

My father did not go to college. He finished high school and ended up joining the Navy as World War II was winding down. I went to college and avoided the military like the plague.

My father didn't marry until he was 35. I didn't marry until I was 47. I now hold that record.

My father dreamt of finding lost treasures. He read True Treasure magazine and he owned a metal detector. He kept hundreds of notebooks full of notes about lost treasures and ghost towns (which my mother tossed after he died). He never really ventured out much to find the treasures. If he had actually discovered a treasure, I think it would have ruined his dreams.

I just dream.

I guess I am like my father.

Happy birthday, dad.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Rock of ages



History of Idaho, The Gem of the Mountains; James H. Hawley, editor; Illustrated; Volume III; Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company; 1920; Pages 479 & 480:
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

MRS. AMANDA MARTHA KNOX.

Mrs. Amanda Martha Knox occupies an excellent ranch property two and a half miles southeast of Boise. She is the widow of George D. Knox, who followed farming on that ranch and there passed away May 24, 1911. Mrs. Knox was born in the Shenandoah valley of Virginia on the 4th of January, 1850, her parents being Thomas Jefferson and Mary (Mowry) Knotts. During her early girlhood she accompanied her parents on their removal to Washington county, Iowa, and was there reared to womanhood but was not yet twenty years of age when she became the wife of George D. Knox. Later she accompanied her husband to Mitchell county, Kansas, where they lived for some time, removing from the Sunflower state to Idaho about 1890, at which time they settled at South Boise. Later they took up their abode upon the ranch southeast of Boise, where Mrs. Knox now resides, and throughout the intervening period to his death Mr. Knox was engaged in general agricultural pursuits there.

To Mr. and Mrs. Knox were born six children, a son and five daughters: Louisa, now the wife of George W. Butler, of Boise; Elva May, who gave her hand in marriage to Edward E. Butler, a brother of George W. Butler; Edith, who is the wife of Henry Dalrymple; Charles Bruce, who is a farmer of Canyon county, Idaho; Martha Ann, who is the widow of William H. Fease; and Jennie, who became the wife of Edward Bush, both she and her husband being now deceased. The last named left one child, Edna Letha Bush, who was born December 10, 1901. She is now a young lady of eighteen years and since the death of her mother has lived with her grandmother, Mrs. Amanda M. Knox. The family is one of prominence in the community, enjoying the warm friendship and regard of all who know them. Mrs. Knox has long lived in this district and has therefore witnessed much of its development and progress, her memory constituting a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present.
Amanda Martha Knox was my great, great grandmother on my mother's side, and I'm willing to bet that she is the only one in my family to have ever made it into a history book. But although the author suggests that her memory constituted "a connecting link between the primitive past and the progressive present," very little of my great, great, grandmother's primitive past filtered down to my progressive present.

I've mentioned my little forays into my family history through amateur genealogy. I have managed to piece together some of Amanda Knox's story. And although it may not be part of the mythic wild, wild west I've been focusing on (a predominately male-centric west as Shandi pointed out), I think it represents the real west of the common people and one with more of a matriarchal bent.

Amanda was only 20 years old when she married 40-year old George Dawson Knox who had only been honorably discharged from the Iowa Volunteers four years earlier after a stint with the Union Army fighting in the Civil War. George had migrated to Iowa from Ohio. His parents were from Pennsylvania. If you look at a map of the United States you can see that he was following a strong tide that was sweeping steadly west.

How my great, great grandparents met and most of George's history are lost somewhere in the chaos that followed the war. After getting married, they migrated to Kansas where I believe all of their six children were born. Again, the only thing that is certain about what took them to Idaho in 1890 is a wagon.


The youngest of their children (shown above sitting on Amanda's lap) was Ada Janette Knox, my great grandmother. She was barely six years old when George and Amanda moved their family west to Boise, Idaho to "engage in general agricultural pursuits." They lived on a ranch southeast of Boise.

If you are unfamilar with Boise (as most people are), it is situated in a valley carved out of the desert by the Boise River. Legend has it that a French trapper stumbled out of the sagebrush desert into the wooded valley and cried, "Le bois, le bois...," -- the trees, the trees. So Boise is the City of Trees (though many have been cut down as part of our progressive present).

I somehow inherited portraits of of the Knox family after my grandmother died. My mother ended up with them and passed them quickly to me, knowing I was one of the few in the family that looked backward in time as much as forward. This is a portrait of my great grandmother Ada or "Jennie" as she apparently liked to be called. She was likely not more than 17 when the photo was taken and I find it odd referring to this lovely young woman as my great grandmother.


Soon after this portrait was done, 17-year old Jennie ran off and married 27-year old Edgar Ellsworth Bush in May of 1901. Seven months later, in December of 1901, my grandmother, Edna Letha Bush, was born (and yes, I've done the math and can guess why Jennie ran off to get married).

I know very little about Edgar Bush, other than he was born in Missouri and may have been a farmer. But after two years of marriage, 19-year old Jennie died giving birth to a baby boy. The baby also died soon after. Edgar quickly remarried and left my grandmother to be raised by her grandparents. Edgar and his second wife died ten years later of tuberculosis. My grandmother only saw her father a couple of times before he died.


My mother relates only sketchy bits of information about my grandmother's life on the ranch with her grandparents other than she was isolated and lonely. Apparently she was so lonely she ran off when she was barely 18 with one of her grandparent's ranch hands, Raymond Sylvester Clark. By that time, George had been dead for eight years.

Edna didn't run far. Raymond apparently had very few ambitions (including work). They ended up on some property adjacent to what was left of Grannie Knox's ranch living in a tent. Although Raymond wasn't much on working he did, father 13 children, the third oldest being my mother, Jenny Ruth Clark. Some kind neighbors got together and built a one-bedroom house next to the tent to provide the family with some more permanent shelter.


The house is still standing (or was last Thanksgiving when I snapped this photo).

Grannie Knox died on July 4, 1936, soon after this photo was taken of her and her daughter Elva. My mother was 11 years old at the time. She remembers a strong, yet kind woman who often sat on her porch in a rocking chair, smoking a corncob pipe.


Amanda was buried next to George in the Morris Hill Cemetary in Boise. Her "excellent ranch property two and half miles southeast of Boise" has long since been razed to make way for cookie cutter subdivisions. I do know that none of the property or proceeds from it filtered down to my my side of the family.

I realize that this isn't an exciting story. It's a simple story of a young girl from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia swept up in a historic migration west to Iowa, Kansas and eventually another valley in Idaho. What it is, is a real story of how the country evolved.

It is also a story puzzle of my family with many pieces still missing. But before I die, I plan to do my best to uncover as much of Amanda Martha Knox's memory as possible and reconnect those pieces of my history that link "the primitive past and the progressive present."

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Last Stand


As I reflect upon the wild, wild west, it occurs to me that I was a confused child. Not only did I think that Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone, Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill were two sets of the same people, I thought General George Armstrong Custer's name was Custard and his last stand was a roadside operation in Montana.

Author's note: There is a chain of frozen custard stands called Custard's Last Stand.

Eventually I figured out that General George Custer was a famous general who died at the Little Bighorn in a battle with the Sioux Indians in what would go down in history as Custer's Last Stand. At the time, Custer was considered a martyr and his defeat became the rallying cry to justify a full blown war on the Sioux. Today, most people have mixed feelings about whether Custer was a hero or a meglomaniac who epitomized the Peter Principle: Everyone rises to their level of incompetence.

I lean towards the latter.

I visited the Bighorn National Battlefield in Montana with my parents when I was about 14 years old. I came away from it with a sense that, judging from one of Custer's buckskin outfits they kept in a glass case there, he was pretty short. And judging from some of the documentaries I've seen on the Discovery and History channels, Custer's Last Stand was more of a last sprint. I saw one program where they used metal detectors to find bullets at the battlesite and were able to trace the course of the battle. Their conclusion was that it was everyman for himself as the men of the 7th Cavalry just ran around randomly trying to find their happy place to get away from the bullets and arrows.

I can't say I blame them.




I do think that the Sioux were in the right defending their property and reacting to the atrocities committed by the U.S. Army against their people. However, they were only able to bask in the glow of their victory over Custer for a brief time before the inevitable tide of America swept over them.

And I think it was a sad footnote that Sitting Bull ended up performing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show reenacting attacks on the white soldiers. But in the gaudy gaslight of the stage performing before his enemies, he had to pretend over and over again to lose.

History is funny that way.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Joker's wild

I've made it clear almost a year ago that I like the mini-series Deadwood on HBO. Because if you are looking for the real, unromanticized version of what it probably was like in a mining town in the old west, that's your ticket.

One of my favorite characters in Deadwood was Wild Bill Hickock. Wild Bill (born James Butler Hickock, so I'm not sure how he got the nickname Bill) was a real character out of the wild West. And as with Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, I have always got Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody confused. But in this case, they were at least contemporaries and Wild Bill even starred in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show for awhile until he got fired for being drunk (something about not firing blanks during the staged gunfights...picky, picky, picky).



The cool thing about Wild Bill Hickock was that he pretty much lived up to his legend. He had at various times in his life been a stage coach driver, an Army scout, a professional gambler and a U.S. Marshall. And he was pretty good with a gun. It is said an outlaw bragged to him that he could "kill a crow on the wing (flying)." Wild Bill replied, "Did the crow have a pistol? Did it shoot back? I will be."

That's a line even Dirty Harry would be proud of.


It's hard to have a movie about the west that doesn't have Wild Bill Hickock in it. His character appeared in Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman. Jeff Bridges starred in a movie about Wild Bill's life. And apparently Wild Bill was the model for the Rooster Cogburn character played by John Wayne in True Grit. Unfortunately, Wild Bill meets the same end in all of the films (except for True Grit).

Wild Bill survived for so many years because he was always particularily cautious. He never held a drink in his right hand (it was always prepared to reach for his pistol), and he almost never sat with his back unprotected. All it took was one time sitting at a chair at a poker table at Nuttal & Mann's Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood that wasn't against a wall for him to regret throwing caution to the wind. He got shot in the back of the head while hold aces and eights (all black). It was to become known as the deadman's hand.

This is why I try not to vary my little OCD routines.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Crockett Man...


"Born in the mountain state of Idaho
A place with lots of dirt that grows potatoes
Raised in Boise, the City of Trees,
He carried a stuff b'ar until he was thirty-three

Tim Id, Tim Id Crockett, drives a Nissan Frontier!"
--Ballad of Tim Id
I grew up thinking Davy Crockett was also Daniel Boone. This was likely because the same actor who played Davy Crockett in the Disney television movies, Fess Parker, also played Daniel Boone in the 1960s television series. Television causes a great deal of confusion like that.

The Davy Crockett television movies came out in about 1954 and 1955 and started a coonskin cap craze that apparently hung on awhile (the ironic note to the whole coonskin cap craze was that Davy Crockett actually wore a foxskin cap). I think the one my two-year old self was wearing above actually belonged to my brother Dan. I don't think it was a real coonskin cap. This would have caused me a great deal of consernation because later, when I was about 10 or so, I saw another Disney movie called Rascal about a boy and his pet raccoon and really wanted a pet raccoon. The boy in the movie was played by Billy Mummy who also played Will Robinson in the television series Lost in Space. I told you television causes a great deal of confusion.

But I digress.

Regardless, by the time I was really old enough to be aware of such things, the Davy Crockett cap was long gone. But we did have a Davy Crockett cookie jar that I still have.

The real Davy Crockett, unlike his Hollywood counterpart, did not go on to become Daniel Boone (who actually lived a bit before Davy Crockett). Davy Crockett was a Tennessee good ol' boy who ended up with a brief career in Congress but failed to get reelected because he opposed President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act (which was the law that allowed the United States government to negotiate with Native Americans and trade them prime farm land for swamps and desert view property).

Davy Crockett became a living myth. Apparently he was a talker and could spin quite the tale. But apparently he could shoot off more than his mouth and was a crack shot with a rifle. For some reason, in 1835 he decided to take part in the Texas revolution from Mexico (I've heard it was kind of a publicity stunt to bolster his waning political career). He died at the Alamo in March 1836 (wearing a foxskin cap).

But Davy Crockett is one of the first media heroes that sprung up around the new frontier that was creeping farther and farther west. In addition to the Disney movies, he was immortalized in umpteen movies about the Alamo and was played by John Wayne and Billy Bob Thornton (which shows you how our standards for what a hero should look like have changed dramatically over the years). God knows who they'll find to play him next.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Give it a west!


"Go West, young man, go West."
-- Horace Greeley or John B.L. Soule (depending upon who you ask)
If you haven't figured it out, yet, it's "Wild West Week" at Dizgraceland. What that means (other than an opportunity to put my face on many lengendary characters of the West) I don't really know. As with all of the proceeding theme weeks, I tend to let my mind wander where it will go. The only difference this week is that I will start by pointing it West.

My first observation is about the little quote at the top of the page. "Go West, young man, go West," is almost always attributed to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune from 1840-1870. Greeley was the founder of the Republican Party (which should endear him to THE Michael). Ironically he was a staunch supporter of the common worker and once employed Karl Marx as a foreign correspondent.

Most sources now credit Terre Haute Express Editor John Soule for using the phrase first in an editorial in 1851. So I've already started out Wild West Week with a bit of disillusionment regarding the statement that kind of fueled the rush west in the first place. Something tells me that Wild West Week is going to be fraught with other such balloon bursting party poopers such as that.

In the process of rooting around my family tree, I did discover that many of my relatives did go west via the station wagon of the 19th century -- the covered wagon. I may be digging up a few of them (just figuratively of course) as we head west and share some of the myth busting stories of my own ancestors.

Anyway, I'll stop for now because I've discovered that five paragraphs is just about the limit of most people's attention spans on the Web (including my own). So hop on and try to keep the saddle-side up and the horse-side down as we ride off into the sunset in search of the wild, wild West (not the television series or really bad movie). Yee....Haaaaaw!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Do not pass Gogh...


I liked Vincent Van Gogh's works before I knew they were Vincent Van Gogh's works. The Starry Night has always been my favorite. We had a set of Child Craft Books when I was growing up. They were a kind of encyclepedia for children that were full of stuff about music, art and literature. That is where I first saw The Starry Night.

The painting was completed near the mental institution at Saint-Remy 13 months before Van Gogh died. I didn't know that when I flipped to the page in the Child Craft Books where Vincent's painting was. I didn't know anything about him cutting off a portion of his ear to prove his love for a prostitute or his lifelong battle with mental illness. I just loved that painting of a night sky that was alive.

Years ago, I was in London and went to the National Gallery. It had paintings of many of the artists I'd grown to appreciate by flipping through the Child Craft Books. And although they didn't have Van Gogh's Starry Night, they did have a painting he had done of a chair. It sounds weird, but just standing there in front of this painting of a chair, I was close to tears. I am truly convinced that Van Gogh was a genius. Not because I have been told that he is a great painter, but because his work captures something beyond description. The painting of the chair, like his painting of the night sky, was alive.

I've heard stories that Van Gogh would eat his paints to see if their color touched his sense of taste in the same way. Maybe the paint metaphorically became his blood. Ironically, there are some who conjecture that the lead in the paints at the time perhaps contributed to his madness and his genius.

What truly makes Van Gogh great to me was that he painted and painted, not for fame or money, but because he loved and hated painting. Van Gogh was not recognized as a genius until after his death. I believe he only sold one painting while he was alive.

What did this teach me? It taught me to appreciate art that touches me, not art that I should like or that would be a good investment. It also taught me to create for the love of creating, not for fame or fortune. Because as with real stars, the light of genius isn't usually seen until long after the star has burnt out.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's alive?



I feel a bit like Dr. Frankentim at times when I mess about with Photoshop and animation software. To mix metaphores, sometimes it is like Forrest Gumps box of chocolates: you never know what you are going to get.

For some reason I thought it would be interesting to put my face on Rasputin's (he was a Russian mystic who was the official psychic of sorts for the Romanov dynasty and greatly influenced Nicholas and Alexandra during the end of the Russian monarchy). He was sometimes referred to as the Mad Monk. Basically he had spooky eyes.

Because he had spooky eyes, I wanted to keep that part of his face and his pretty kick ass beard. So I ended up just putting my nose and mouth on his face. The result was pretty freakish, even by my standards. It kind of looked like Donny Osmond on acid. Add a little animation and I think I've created a monster.

I kind of like it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Fighting words



I had a long discussion this morning with a co-worker about e-mail and how it is right up there with the telephone as a form of communication spawned in hell. I just think that e-mail has created this weapon of mass destruction for passive aggressive people to wreck havoc on the world.

Part of the problem is that it's human nature to try and get the last word. E-mail provides a forum where two stubborn people will die at their keyboard typing back responses in an effort to fire the last shot in an e-mail version of Battleship. Even if you write, "You Win," some people will type back one more e-mail saying "I know." This of course requires you to respond, "No you don't" and the whole thing starts up again.

E-mail, with all of its faults, is better than instant messaging, text messaging or chat rooms. I will go on record yet again that I despise the shorthand language that is evolving from these evil channelers of the devil. I was watching a program last night where a couple of teenagers were "texting" each other (I hate that they have made a verb out of it) with phrases like "I h8 my voiC" and "wen cnI Cu?" There is even an online translator for creating this cancer on the English language called Lingo2Word.

Well, I tnk txt msgN sux. To prove it, I translated a little Shakespeare for you:

2 B, or nt 2 B:
dats D Q:
Whether 'tis nobler n D mnd 2 suffA D slings n arrows of outrageous fortuN,
Or 2 taK arms against a sea of troubLs, n by opposing Nd em?
2 di: 2 zzz

That's just wrong (dats jst rong).

Language is an art. This lingo crap is graffiti.

Ironically, even the word blog came from this doublespeak: Web log. And even more ironic is that I know that many of the people who comment on this blog are going to torture me with the shorthand text lingo. But I will comfort myself in the knowledge that, As D ruler of dis blog, Ill alw av D lst wrd.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Fromage de tĂȘte



Definition of headcheese: Not a cheese at all, but a sausage made from the meaty bits of the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) that are seasoned, combined with a gelatinous meat broth and cooked in a mold. When cool, the sausage is unmolded and thinly sliced. It's usually eaten at room temperature."

"First, clean the pig’s head. With the help of a saw and hatchet or cleaver, open the head and remove all passages into the head, nose, ears, etc. It is very unpleasant to run into a stray tooth or long, stiff hair. Be thorough!"
--Recipe for Headcheese from www.askthemeatman.com
I would not eat a head of pig
That is something I would not dig.
I would not like them with a long, stiff hair
I would not like them anywhere.

Not the head of a calf, nor a sheep or cow
No way, no how, not even a sow
I would not eat a head of pig
I would not like it, it's not my gig.

Could you? Would you? Try a head of goat?
Could you? Would you? Start to bloat?
Could you? Would you? Eat the brain?
Could you? Would you? Be insane?

Not a head of goat. I don't want to bloat.
No way a brain. I'm not insane.
Not a calf, sheep or cow.
And no way a sow!

Not from a mold. Not room temperature or cold.
Not even if it's free. You let me be!
No lips, no spleens, no ears or teeth!
It makes me sick and that's my beef!

I will not eat a head of pig!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Bidding cheese a fair fondue...

I'm afraid the whole cheese thing is coming to a head (and not just mine). I think it is starting to grate on people's nerves. But before the cheese slips off my cracker for the last time I just had to point out something really weird I recalled -- I've actually been to a cheese factory.

Okay, I know it is startling, but about three years ago, Tess and I took a trip to the Oregon Coast and stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory in, oddly enough, Tillamook, Oregon. If you aren't from the Pacific Northwest then you probably have never heard of Tillamook cheese, but let me just tell you it is pretty darned good. And if the truth were to be told, this is the second time Tess and I have stopped at the factory because, although we've never seen anyone at the factory actually make cheese, they do give out pretty good samples. Plus you can get really fresh cheese curds in their gift shop.

Anyway, I was sifting through some photos from that trip and I ran across a couple of photos I took outside the factory. And low and behold I saw this really odd anomaly in the first photo:

Yes, that is the outline of a dairy cow distinctly etched out of beauty bark next to the cheese factory. I mean, I think this is like one of those weird crop circle type things which would lead me to believe that maybe something else is going on in that factory. It could be one of those beacons to signal extra terrestrials or something.

Now look at the second photo of a replica ship that is next to the factory:

Ignore the blocks of Tillamook cheese standing and pointing at the ship. That is just me (I really like their smoked cheddar). But look at the name of the ship. Yes, "Morning Star." And "morningstar" occasionally comments on my blog (rarely on topic, but she comments nonetheless). Isn't that weird?

You just never know where cheese will take you.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Gouda ol' boy...



Okay, I said I wouldn't Photoshop my face on anything this week. I never said anything about not Photoshopping anything onto my face. So technically, I've kept my word.

I feel much better, too.

Your inner cheese

I typed "I love cheese" into Google and ended up at www.ilovecheese.com. That had a cheese profiler to determine your cheese personality.

I Love Cheese!, Cheese Lovers, Cheese Profiler

No matter how I answered, this was my profile:
"The Family (Wo)Man
You are very family oriented and spend most of your time caring for loved ones. Whether it’s volleyball practice, playgroup or a family picnic, it seems you and your family are always on the go. Your favorite meals are quick, satisfying to the whole family and often include casseroles, lasagnas and pre-prepared dishes. When it comes to cheese, you tend to favor processed varieties, such as American cheese, that are easily incorporated into family fare.

If breakfast needs to be portable, stuff a warm tortilla with a thin omelet made with Colby cheese. When afternoon hunger pangs strike, American or Cheddar cheese slices sandwiched between apple wedges make a great midday snack. And when it’s your turn to be soccer mom or dad, bring the team bite-sized snacks-on-a-stick prepared by alternating pieces of fruit, such as grapes and pineapple chunks, with cubes of Cheddar, Swiss or Havarti."
I think something is terribly wrong. I said I preferred rock climbing in the Himilayas over Disneyland as the perfect vacation. I said I where creative, yet cutting edge clothing and live in a trendy neighborhood. How could I be a family (wo) man?

They also have something called the "snackulator" to determine your perfect cheese snack. Apparently I'm a cheddar and Keebler crackers kind of guy.

Oh well. I don't think the dairy path was for me after all. It made me me kind of phlegmy. Maybe it would have been different if I could have put my face on a round of Gouda or perhaps a nice Edam. I really think it is too early in the season for Stilton. I just don't know. All of this is just a bit too cheezy for me. It doesn't make a shred of sense no matter how I slice it.

I'm disillusioned with cheese anyway. I think it has alienated me from my blogger friends. No one seems to care about the endless types of cheese there seem to be. I guess the cheese really does stand alone.

Sigh.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Say, "Buffalo Cheese" Pleeze!


Photo note: My face has not been Photoshopped onto this water buffalo (though I did have hair like this at one point in high school).

Buffalo Cheese: Modern, unpasteurized, vegetarian, hard cheese of wheel shape with thin, leathery, polished, natural rind. The cheese was introduced on market in 1996 and became very popular. It is the only hard buffalo's milk cheese made in Britain. It has a mild flavor with a hint of almonds.--www.cheese.com

I went to www.cheese.com, the number one cheese resource to do some research. Buffalo cheese jumped right out at me. It is a cheese made from water buffalo milk. I am left with many unanswered questions after reading about buffalo cheese at http://www.cheese.com/ :How does one go about milking a water buffalo? Who was the first person to suggest milking a water buffalo? Why? How did the water buffalo react (I would guess poorly)?

Looking at the hunk of hard buffalo cheese, it also strikes me that it would be a challenging product to market. I suppose you could take the Dairy Farmer's of America's approach and keep it simple with: GOT BUFFALO CHEESE? The campaign could be accompanied by photos of famous people with buffalo cheese crumbs on their face.

Or I could take the Bud Light approach and use humor:

SCENE: Urban Hip party with lots of beautiful people mingling. A geeky looking guy is standing next to the food table that is piled with elaborately prepared party food. The geek is holding a paper bag. He reaches in and pulls out a hunk of buffalo cheese and sets it on the table. He next takes a serving knife and saws off a hunk, slaps it on a cracker and puts it into his mouth. And instant hush comes over the party and all eyes are on the geek who swallows audibly and smiles weakly. Crumbs of buffalo cheese are stuck to his face.

A tall super model approaches and says seductively: WHO CUT THE BUFFALO CHEESE? She takes the geek by the arm, grabs the cheese and they leave together.

Okay, okay, buffalo cheese is never going to be a household word even with my great marketing ideas. Besides there are literally hundreds of cheeses to choose from and they are all listed at http://www.cheese.com/. And if I hadn't already picked a NO TIM'S FACE PHOTOSHOPPED ON ANYTHING WEEK as my theme I'd be doing a Cheese a Day blog with riveting posts about Galloway Goat's Milk Gems, Fynbo, or one of my favorites -- Knockalara. Just read what http://www.cheese.com/ has to say about Knockalara:
Knockalara is a fresh, feta-style cheese made on the Waterford farm by Wolfgang and Agnes Schliebitz. Its light tang goes beautifully with fruity olive oil, so it's ideal in salads. Knockalara comes either plain or preserved in herb-flavored olive oil.
No wonder these cheese sites are getting all the traffic.

Banner day

It's a banner day at Dizgraceland. I've decided that this week's theme will be: NO IMAGES OF TIM PHOTOSHOPPED ON ANYTHING WEEK. I'm sure this will disappoint people like THE Michael.


That doesn't mean I won't be including images with my blog entries. I'm just giving my poor old face (and your eyes) a rest. It's not that I love my face so much that I feel compelled to put it on everything. It just happens to be the one image I own and won't run into legal or emotional conflicts if I use it randomly.

Besides, it's time I got back to writing more and stopped relying on cheap graphic tricks to get attention.

I suppose I was getting a bit carried away with graphics and ignoring my roots as a highly trained writer. I wasn't always a burned out blogger with a Photoshop fetish, you know. There was a time that I had a dream of writing the great American novel. I was going to change the world.

But hey, life happens. I'm not bitter about it. Oh, maybe I can get a bit sensitive about the fact that I never even get my blog listed on Blogger.com's blogs of note pages. And it can get discouraging to discover that someone's blog about cheese gets more hits than mine. I'm good with that. I don't need attention to feel validated.

Sorry about the banners. I'm not sure where they came from, but they seem a bit hostile. Regardless, I promise you a fun filled week without my face (other than on the title banner of Dizgraceland)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Eggstra, Part II: Dyeing Art







THE END

Easter Eggstra

Obviously, it is Easter Sunday. Not being what anyone would call a religous person, I don't really celebrate it in the Biblical sense. I do realize that it exists to commemorate Jesus' resurrection. Though I think many people get confused and think it is the celebration of his crucifixion (which isn't much call for celebration despite what Mel Gibson would lead you to believe).

Regardless, Easter has pretty much always meant dyeing eggs and eating chocolate bunnies to me. And unlike many people I do understand the significance of eggs and rabbits being associated with Easter.

Brief primer: The name Easter is derived from the Saxon Eostre, a goddess of spring who also measured time. The bunny has always been a symbol of life and renewal. The egg is a symbol of fertility. The Easter bunny bringing eggs was dreamt up by a marketing person to sell candy (I'm not making this up).

All of these things got caught up with relgion because the Church followed in the footsteps of conquering Romans and absorbed the sacred rights and traditions of the lands they "conquered." So Easter was originally just a celebration of spring.

Don't get me wrong. I like Easter. It is the one time of the year I actually make hard boiled eggs. To this day, the smell of vinegar always reminds me of dyeing eggs. And I rarely let an Easter go by without dyeing eggs. This year was no exception. I bought the PAAS egg decorating kit that basically consists of 9 food coloring tablets, a colorless crayon and stickers that come in a box big enough for a Monopoly game. The box promises all sorts of fun activities that turn out to basically be opening the box and dropping the tablets in glasses (I think egg dyeing kits are brought to you by the same people who sell Sea Monkeys).

Anyway we dyed eggs and only had one bad one.


I don't really know why we dye the eggs. We don't have Easter egg hunts like we had as kids. I remember the dog was usually the best one at finding them. He seemed to keep finding them for months, too. I imagine ours will end up in an egg salad sandwich.


I do think Easter is getting too much like Valentines Day. You have to buy cards and then candy and presents. I was at the store yesterday fighting with old ladies at the Fred Meyer for last minute Easter stuff. It's amazing how aggressive a 70-year old with a shopping cart can get when you are standing between her and the last package of Peeps.


I really suprised Tess this year, though. I found this really cute stuffed bunny.



And an even cuter chocolate bunny.



Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Upside down



Notice anything odd about the above photos (other than they are upside down and of me)?

Okay, now let's turn them right side up and see if we notice anything odd now (other than they are photos of me)?

If you are observant, you will notice that the photo on the right, although right side up, has the eyes and mouth upside down. Yet when viewed side by side and upside down, you probably didn't notice the difference.

Okay, what do we learn from this? Well, not much, but it should teach you that if you are looking at things upside down, you might not be getting the complete picture.

Let's try another example:
Unless you have been living under a rock, you should recognize this upside down image as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. Now let's turn Mona right side up:

So the next time you are out out at a bar hoisting a few with your friends and you sort of lose your balance and fall off from your bar stool. Just keep in mind that your upside down perspective of that amazingly attractive person you see across the room may be skewed. Beer gogs don't help either.

This has been a public service of Dizgraceland where we like to keep things on the up and up.



I think I have pretty much made my point here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ringmaster of the Mind Circus

Circus Week at Dizgraceland is drawing to a close. I have to admit that it has been kind of fun to run away to the circus for awhile. But it has made me think. Or more accurately, think about my thoughts and ideas.

Because, do you ever really stop and think about thinking? I mean, do you ever wonder where your thoughts come from (other than the obvious medical explanations of the synapses firing in the brain and such)?

I do.

I most often wonder where my ideas for such things as circus week come from. I've come to the conclusion that it's very much like having a mind circus playing in my head in several different rings. Fortunately (for me at least), I am the ringmaster and get to pick and choose which idea I introduce on center stage at any given time.

Anyway, back to the original question, where do the thoughts or ideas come from? Who trains the "acts" for my circus? And who hires them and plants them in my brain to perform on my cue? Is it my brain? Does it come from experience, education and knowledge? Or do I have a cosmic satellite dish in my head drawing in signals from the universe.

I’m just not a big believer in randomness in the universe. I can’t believe that molecules just randomly come together and form a chair (anyone who has worked with a committee of any kind will appreciate the futility of any group coming to any useful conclusion unless they are guided by a leader). So who is guiding my thoughts under the big top where I can introduce them?

And don’t try to drag a god into this. I’m not in the mood for a theological debate. I’m just trying to determine why the molecules in my brain work together to come up with the thoughts I think. How is that delicate balance struck? And paradoxically, I’m also trying to figure out why I’m even thinking about thinking about thinking.

Thinking about thinking makes my head hurt.


Whew...glad that thinking stuff is past. The circus is packing up its tent and leaving the blog anyway. It's time to unplug the theme for another weekend of random posts and ponder what next week's theme will be. But I'm not going to think about that now.

At least I think I'm not.