Friday, June 29, 2012

Finger Trick

This really does seem impossible to do. I've been sitting here trying like an idiot for the past five minutes.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Dixie Dregs Perform "The Bash" Live

I was shocked to find out a couple of years ago that this concert at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1978 was filmed. Like a lot of people, I had owned the live album that came from this show since it first came out but didn't realize that the audio was taken from a video feed. It sounded very good for a live concert, let alone an audio feed from video. Anyway, here is a country-ish tune they did back then called "The Bash" (although Andy introduces it as "The Wabash" for some reason). Boy these guys were good. The ultimate jazz-rock fusion band.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How NOT To Garden

I’ve been wanting to write this post for ages! There are few things that peeve me more than gardening run amuck, and unfortunately, that describes nearly 8 out of 10 homes in America by my estimation. I blame Better Homes and Gardens for most of this train-wreck along with Frank Lloyd Wright, the dingbat who started this whole mixing of houses with nature to begin with.
Take a close look at this monstrosity he created:

I ask you, how could you possibly get to the backside of this house to do any major structural repairs if you had to? How would you even begin to clean that idiotic glass that goes all the way to the roof on the left side? There’s so much foliage that there’s no place to put a ladder or a lift. And those upper windows are at least 35’ high. What’s worse is that it’s completely pointless. There’s such a thing as too many windows, and this is a prime example of it.

The following is great example of bad planning. Look at all this silly foliage completely mucking up the yard and burying the house. What happens when you need to do tuckpointing and painting or clean the windows and gutters? How would you get a ladder up to those windows on the left if you’re goofy enough to plant a tree right where the ladder has to go?

The following is similar. First look at how slanted the roof is. Obviously you can’t walk on it to clean the gutters. You’d have to do it from a ladder. But just where are you supposed to put a ladder? And who would be silly enough to spend 6 or 7 hundred grand on a house just to hide it behind a forest?

Here’s one last bad example. Now there’s a nice shade tree in the yard at just about the right distance from the house. It shades the house well and isn’t close enough to do much damage. But those bushes are gonna create a nightmare to try and work around. They may not be very tall, but they extend out about ten feet and butt right up against the house. If you had to put up a ladder, it would be so slanted that you couldn’t use it without taking your life in your hands. How would you paint the siding down behind the bushes when they’re right up against the house? I’ll tell you something else; planting a forest against your home is gonna do nothing but bring a ton of bugs into the house and undesirable varmints into the yard.

Look at this next one. See how nice and clean the house looks without a ton of garbage up against it. It could stand to have a couple of shade trees though.

When I was a kid in the 60s almost everybody planted their gardens AWAY from the house OUT in the yard instead of UP in the yard. Here’s an example of what you could do with a little creative thinking. Plants and trees are out away from the house the way they ought to be.

Here’s another example of a halfway decent way of doing things. There’s some foliage up near the house, but not bunched right up against it, and the foliage is small with quite a bit of room between adjoining plant-life. And the big trees are out away from house where they help instead of hurting things.

I especially like this last one. It’s a much smaller, sensible home with small plants that aren’t doing any real harm. Everything looks clean, easy to maintain, and easy to get to. All it takes is the slightest bit of common sense. Anybody can be a good gardener. Always ask yourself before you plant a tree, bush, or flower, "If I put it here, can I still get to my house from top to bottom in case I need to work on it?," because you WILL need to work on it!


Saturday, June 9, 2012

The FS-1 Flying Sub

One of my favorite TV shows as a kid was “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.” It was made in the mid 60s as a futuristic show set in the 70s and later the 80s. The main submarine in the show called the Seaview (billed as the first privately owned nuclear submarine) was cool enough, but when they introduced a mini-sub that could fly in the second season, it turned a lot of heads. There were toy versions and models of it for sale in every department store. They called it the FS-1 (Flying Sub-1), but there was at least one other called the FS-2 (they kept crashing these in the stories, so the following week a new one would show up.)

Obviously most of the footage on the show, especially the underwater scenes were done with miniature models, but what I just found out is that the FS-1 was an actual flying sub made by General Dynamics and Reynolds Metal in 1964-65. It featured a pair of massive solid-fuel turbine engines and really could both fly and submerge. It was used by the Navy until the mid 70s. Here it is:

Some of the flying footage on the show was actually done with the real thing! It was built to look like a stingray, and they succeeded except for the yellow color. But who knew this thing was rea!? And here I was saving all those Bazooka Joe wrappers for the coveted human powered submarine prize thinking it might be as cool as the FS-1 when I got it—not!

Tom Veal's "Stromata"

Just a quick note of praise for Mr. Veal's excellent website and blog. He's probably best known to sci-fi writers (he once served as chairman at the World Science Fiction Convention), but he's a devout Christian who really has his head on straight about most topics, and he muses on almost every subject under the sun. If you have never visited his website, you really should. It's called Stromata.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

C.S. Lewis Space Trilogy - 1st Editions

(Click to enlarge.)

I found a nice picture of these at Ebay today. Believe it or not, I had never seen the original 1st edition books with their original dust jackets. I really like these. Dust jackets today are so darn busy and flashy, but I find these to be very warm and inviting. They look the way books did when I was a kid going to the library. Simple and understated is better I think.

However, having said that, note that in the upper left corner of Out of the Silent Planet there's a drawing of a planet with a ring around it. The trip in that book was from Earth to Mars and back. Mars has no rings! In fact, only Mars, Earth, and Venus were featured in the three books. No rings around any of them. I bet Lewis wasn't too crazy about that dust jacket design to say the least!

Perelandra shows a drawing of huge castle-like ocean front house. I don't remember there being any houses at all on Venus mentioned in the story except maybe huts, and that's where the ocean was. It was a very primative land on Venus where a new Adam and Eve lived. There was a large country house on Earth toward the beginning of the story, but it wasn't near an ocean. What were the people who designed these dust jackets thinking?

Did I mention that the guy selling these books is asking $3,400 for the lot? I'll never understand the minds of collectors.