Spam Haiku: Google, Spam, Bing

Mmmmm. Spam. Google SPAM. Delectable. Once again, I’ve received a spam that is far, far too amusing to throw into the electronic junk heap. Thank you, GODS OF SPAM! And I mean this in its many, varied ways. Mostly unretouched. All delicious.

Sooner or later,
Google will find all new spam
methods. These pre-com-
spam

Image from o.canada.com

 -puted numbers, hold
on in a very giant
information bank
From computerhistory.org

Image from computerhistory.org

for millions of the
URLs on the net. But
We’re sad that it seems…
Image from comesitbythehearth.blogspot.com

Image from comesitbythehearth.blogspot.com

…Memorial Day
wasn’t important enough
to Google. Hail Bing!

 (This Google/Bing feud is apparently real, people.)

Image from siftingreality.com

Image from siftingreality.com

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Big Heron in my Back Yard

(With a grateful nod to The Dead Milkmen).

The other morning, George came running into the bedroom to rouse me from my morning Sudoku: “Hey! Check it out! There’s a great blue heron out back!”

Really?

Really.

They’re not terribly uncommon around us, but they’re not something we get on or near our property, since we don’t have a water source. I do, FYI, know someone who’s back yard fish pond has been fished out by herons dropping by, which is something my local friends should take under advisement if they’re considering any landscape renovations. I mean, seriously, people. It’s like setting out an all-heron sushi buffet, and I digress.

A few days ago, we had a nearly biblical-level deluge in the ‘burg; I even joked on the Facebooks about needing to build an ark. When it rains very hard our neighbor’s poorly-drained farmlet floods. This creates a temporary lake and paves the way for unexpected visitors. We’ve had ducks and geese swimming mid-farm-property, which is kind of surreal. There may not have been fish at the farmlet, but there are plenty of snakes and frogs and crickets and mice for an opportunistic heron to feast on.

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Surprise!

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So, you got any fi– heyyyy, what’s that thing?

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Ooh! Or there’s that thing, too!

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No but really, which is my better side?

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This is my “pensive” look. I’m just waiting. For Godot. Or a snake. All the same to me.

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HA! FLAPPING DEATH FROM ABOVE!

A few things:

Hooray for zoom lenses! I was at least a hundred feet away when I took these pictures.

They really are magnificent to look at.

So long as you don’t try to keep a stocked koi pond. (For future reference.)

Travel Theme: Orange

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa misses the sun and longs for some fiery, bright orange to brighten up the days. Mmmmkay. I’m in.

First, check out the gorgeous orange bill and throat pouch of the double-crested cormorant. I saw this beauty when I was somewhere near Point Pleasant, NJ, the weekend after my niece’s wedding. Can I tell you exactly where I saw it? No. Thankfully, cormorants are hardy creatures whose numbers are on the rise. If you really want to see one for yourself, it shouldn’t be that hard.

I don't know why it's double-crested. It just is.

I don’t know why it’s double-crested. It just is.

During a recent trip to Baltimore, we saw an Orioles game. It was great fun indeed. But there was SO. MUCH. ORANGE.

SAAA-WING, batter batter batter, SWING!

SAAA-WING, batter batter batter, SWING!

This past February, I was walking around my yard (or “touring the estate”, as we like to say), I found this lonely leaf, stuck in the branches of a rather confused pussy willow. It was warm, it started to bud early, then it snowed…poor plant. But I don’t mind saying I was glad to get the picture, with the orange of the dried leaf highlighted by the sun, beaming as it made its way full west.

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Hey there, leaf. Thanks for catching the sun like that.

I was ridiculously taken by the bright orange keys on the old-fashioned cash register on display at the Meadowlands Museum. This fascinating little museum is three floors of thoughtfully curated, locally-minded, educational entertainment. I could’ve sat in the fluorescent-paint-illuminated coal hole all day. And they had old, leather football helmets that, when I thought of getting hit while wearing one, made me cringe. Bye bye, brain. But. They also had this cash register, which had (seemingly) random orange number keys and a big orange no-sale key. No sale, our Spanish speakers will attest, also means “Don’t leave”. This makes me kind of wistful and sad. I took about a thousand pictures of this thing.

Wait, but...what? Where you going? :(

Wait, but…what? Where you going? :(

And finally.

We went to Concord, MA for an afternoon while visiting my beloved Russian professor. We saw the illustrious North Bridge (American history buffs, you know the place of which I speak!) and the North Bridge Visitor’s Center. They were prepping for a wedding that was going to take place…very soon in proximity to our visit. Like, that day. I don’t know when it was scheduled to start, I wasn’t invited. Regardless, the wedding event doer guy (wedding planner? Florist? Groom? Not sure of his role) had that air of a man who was just…waiting. For longer than he wanted to wait. With a big old bouquet of bright orange roses.

The flowers were quite beautiful.

The flowers were quite beautiful.

So that’s my orange. What have you got? 

See you ’round Ailsa’s page!

How Typecasting Begins: Snowpiercer

Last night I went to see the movie Snowpiercer, and for those who never heard of it, let me sum up: post-environmental-apocalypse survivors are on a Train of the Future that’s been designed by a train genius, runs on a globally connected rail system and is powered by a perpetual-motion engine. Passengers are socially stratified. Those at the front of the train live in ease and luxury; those at the rear of the train live in squalor. The back of the train finally decides that enough abuse and degradation is enough, and they stage a revolution. Chaos and bloodshed ensues.

With me so far? Great. So. Here’s how I watched this movie:

Yay! Captain America and the Shit Pie Lady join forces with Billy Elliot and an intensely weathered Elephant Man to fight social injustice! I won’t tell you what part Truman’s creator plays, because I don’t want to be a spoiler. Tilda Swinton plays a post-modern Mouth of Sauron but you know…she’s just so good she can’t be typecast.

All you actors out there: fall down on your knees in gratitude that I am not a casting director.

And go see Snowpiercer if it’s playing anywhere near you. Sometimes the logic is a little shaky, but MAN is it ever an adrenaline rush! Plus Chris Evans. :)

Here’s the trailer.

Spam Haiku: Carp Bait

Once again, I have received a spam too delicious to not celebrate. This one, apparently, extols the virtues of carp bait. 

Carp bait.

Like I could leave that alone.

In order to preserve the syllabic pattern of a haiku, I inserted one word. Just one. Otherwise, it is untouched. Enjoy.

You will probably

recognise some or all of

these as some as used

i-have-too-much-stuffmore than others with

very great success in carp

baits. After users

carp baitchoose their avatar

they’re transported into their

apartment. But have

avatar apartment

you ever once thought

about living in your boat

full time. Esquimaux.

eskimo in a kayak

Photo credits:

Pile of stuff: http://infolific.com/leisure/safe-long-term-storage-of-household-goods/

Carp bait: http://www.trails.com/how_30322_homemade-ground-bait-carp-fishing.html

 Avatar apartment: http://avatar.wikia.com/Mako_and_Bolin’s_apartment

Eskimo in a kayak: http://bonkersycarax.blogspot.com/2012/10/road-trip-part-five-problem-is-all.html

Travel Theme: Horizons

This week at Where’s My Backpack?, Ailsa asks us to look to the horizon for her travel theme. So, OK. Off into the distance!

George and I recently went to visit his daughter in Baltimore. The first night we were there we went out, you know. Dinner, cocktails, that sort of thing. The next day we walked around the city and then went to a baseball game, which was great fun but made for a long day. That night, we decided the right thing to do was have pizza and wine on the rooftop deck, and admire the skyline as the sun set. Here is Baltimore’s iconic Domino Sugars sign, seen over the rooftops of Locust Point.

Ahh, beautiful Domino Sugar sign...

Ahh, beautiful Domino Sugar sign. Even from the back you’re sassy.

This picture was taken closer to home for me. It was so close, in fact, I was home. We had some fantastic fog roll in from Buffalo Creek (Crick, if you’re local) one night, and this was how my back yard looked. I love that you have no idea where the tree line ends and the sky begins. Oh yeah. There’s a whole line of trees in that fog.

There's a crick and some trees back there. I swear.

There’s a crick and some trees back there. I swear.

This past December, we were in Myrtle Beach for our niece’s college graduation. When we were on our way out to dinner, a crazy-strong storm blew in–we were completely waterlogged crossing the street from the parking lot to the restaurant’s lobby–and we were a little early for the dinner rush, so I could run around the restaurant at will. The restaurant was right on the beach, and I ran around from room to room (big restaurant) looking out all the windows at the soaked world outside. This is what I got.

That is some angry ocean.

That sure is some angry ocean.

Sometimes…oh, this kills me…sometimes, cliches and stereotypes have some basis in fact. And New Jersey’s snark-riddled reputation as a land of refineries and factories and traffic…well, there’s this section along the Turnpike that George and I joke about, that we know we’re home when we see it. (Jersey peeps,’fess up, you do it too.) But. Sigh.

Cars and smokestacks, far as the eye can see.

Cars and smokestacks, far as the eye can see.

However! New Jersey also gives it up for moments like these.

Sunset, Normandy Beach, NJ.

Yes.

Yes.

What’s on your horizon?

I’m Still Processing The Death of Robin Williams

The news this week, it was shocking. Shocking. Robin Williams. Dead at 63. I grew up on a steady diet of Robin Williams. I remember when he, bizarrely, showed up on Happy Days and had an epic thumb battle with The Fonz.

And I watched Mork & Mindy almost greedily every week, because–particularly in first two seasons–there was nothing quite so aggressively funny on TV.

My mom even got me a pair of rainbow suspenders, which I wore until the clips gave out and just stopped gripping. (And I’d think they were secure and would go out and then a clip would slide up until it reached the end of my waistband. Once it did, it would indeed fly, be free, right into my face. Oh, embarrassment on the playground fer sure.)

Like so many others out there, I loved Robin Williams for his energy and razor-sharp wit, his lightning-fast ability to find the joke, to make anything (a basket of eggs? Really?) hilarious. And I loved him for his ability to handle dramatic roles, too, bringing human complexity and an astonishing depth of emotion to a character that, in the hands of a different performer, could easily end up being too one-dimensional. I’m looking at you, Dead Poet’s Society.

He was brilliant. He was admired. And now he’s gone. If he’d died of a heart attack or was killed in a car accident…we have mental scripts in place to cope. But Robin Williams took his own life. He’d always been open about his long-standing struggles with depression, and also with substance abuse, so it was no secret that he had some malignant, tenacious demons. But still. In a society that views “success” as the answer–which he had, at least outwardly–Robin Williams’s suicide is inconceivable. 

The commentary surrounding his death has been interesting. I have, for the most part, stayed away from anyone who’s completely vitriolic; I don’t need to read articles written by socially stunted hatemongers to know they exist.  But the one statement that I can’t stay away from, which I’ve seen expressed in various media outlets and have heard from people I know and love, is that his act was selfish. And I recognized myself in that statement; ten years ago I might have said the same thing. I have since moved past it, realizing that depression is far more pernicious and illogical and lying and thieving than those of us who aren’t depressed can understand. Still, I get why it’s part of the public patois about suicide. I just don’t think it’s right or fair. We’re never inside anyone else’s head. We don’t know what’s happening anywhere else except in our own noggins…and even then, if you find me someone who’s legitimately got it all together, I will pass out in shock. Mental illness is so dreadfully misunderstood. As a society, we need to bring the same sensibility to the treatment of depression that we bring to, say, the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Both can cripple. Both can kill. But you don’t tell an RA sufferer to “get over it”. 

When I was a little kid–maybe 9 or 10 years old–I was at the beach and got caught in an undertow. I was pulled out in the waves, and slammed back on the beach, and pulled out, and slammed back. Over. And over. And over. I didn’t see a way out, there was no way to break the cycle of being sucked out into the water, and slammed back to the shore. Finally, something solid loomed up in front of me and in desperation I grabbed it; I remember breaking the grip of the waves, and how the waves felt resistant to my release. Luckily, the solid thing turned out to be the feet of a man doing surf fishing. It could have been a shark, it could have been an electrical box that was on fire, it could have been Jason Voorhees in full machete-and-hockey mask regalia. The point is, I didn’t care at that moment what I grabbed, so long as it got me out of the crazy cycle I was trapped in. 

While I don’t claim that that’s what was going on in Robin Williams’s head, I will say that for that split second, for that one miniscule moment in time, I understood what it’s like to not care any more about what the exit looks like. Desperation isn’t selfish. It’s just desperate. We tend not to revisit these moments, since they’re usually unpleasant and force us to contemplate our own mortality. But I’d make the bet that if everyone took a good, long look at his or her past, we could all find at least one moment where logic and presence failed and desperation took over.

That’s a spot from which compassion can grow. I challenge everyone to find it.

 Rest in peace, Robin Williams. 

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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