Friday, May 29, 2015

6 Unique Uses for a Loaf of Bread if You Forget to Put the Damn Salt In and Songs by @SisterSniffle

I would like to say we've all done this. But the truth is, most people these days can't bake a simple loaf of bread to save their lives. If most people can't pick something up off the shelf at the supermarket it isn't going to happen. 

Even most of the stuff people call homemade these days depends on some preprocessed ingredients or a box of premixed something or other.

I'm not suggesting we should all press our own olive oil, or slaughter our own meat, although the closer we can get to that, the better. But no, I'm just talking about a simple loaf of bread. 

The process is so easy. Water, yeast, maybe sugar, or honey, oil or butter, take a bike ride, let it rise, and voila! Right?

I've done it a million times. Yes?

OH! That's right! I forgot to mention SALT! 

So, as I was saying, I would like to say we've all done this before, put all the ingredients in our recipe, only to be distracted by, let's just say, hypothetically, your ten year old son who is running around the house, running behind you as you're trying to make your dough, with his plastic toy light saber and hitting you, over and over, just manically hitting you on the butt. 

Maybe he's just giggling like a crazy person, running around through the kitchen, down the hallway, back through the dining room and again, and again..."SWAT!" and "Giggle, giggle, giggle!" Or... something like that. It could be any distraction I guess. 

That's just my example, for some reason. 

So you put all the ingredients in your dough, go through the process, smell that awesome bread baking smell, pull it out fresh and hot from the oven, dab a little butter on it... MMMMMMM!

Somehow, in one of those timeless, paradoxically Zeno-ish moments, you actually taste it before it hits your mouth. And you realize you've forgotten the salt. Truly a baking tragedy has occured. 

Of course, this is a first world problem. Of course, the loaves should be eaten anyway. Of course, you can just salt the butter and make do. And of course, that isn't what happens. As a truly modern human, the choice is simple..."BLOG." I can use this as an excuse to fill up the world with more blogging, specifically...lists.

As part two of my ten part series on ridiculous list making articles I thought it would be nice, or rather...appropriately ridiculous, to help the reader find some unique uses for "bread with no salt in." 

Given the current subject matter at hand, which is "bread with no salt in," and that the writer was also the baker, one might question whether such a list is something the reader could even find useful. 

In fact, one might presume to think I will fail to include all of the pertinent information due to some inherent lack of focus.

All I can say to that is it hurts my feelings and makes me want to cry. I know I'm the one making it all up in my head before I've even finished writing. But I'm imagining you reading this and you thinking I'm stupid and that hurts my feelings terribly and it makes me want to cry. 

The more I think about it, the more I think a bunch of people will read this and everyone will be laughing at me. And now I'm really embarrassed and quite sad! I'm not sure I should even finish this...

Hold on, my son is running around behind me... I'll be right back....

OK, where was I? 

Yes... Here is my list of possible uses for a loaf of bread which you screwed up by being distracted by your son being freakish and hitting you on the butt...or whatever.

#1:  This might work better for you than it did for me. I tried to get the bread to write the rest of this article, or rather "article" for me, but all it wanted to do was draw silly pictures and try to philosophize above its pay grade. 

I'm not saying I didn't like the picture. Quite genius actually. But it really wasn't helping me accomplish my deadline. 



#2: Since the loaf of bread really couldn't get it together enough to produce something I could use in the creative department, I decided it might be more useful at handling some of the chores around the house. 

The first one I tried was letting it do a little yard work. But it was raining, so it, and I, decided this might not be the best idea. The loaf got a little soggy and needed a long rest afterwards and a bit of drying off. 

Nobody likes working in the rain I guess.  
#3: Not wanting to give up on the idea of free help around the house, we tried a little kitchen work. 

I was still baking bread and needed help with some of the slicing and packing. For some reason, this just seemed to make the little fella freak out and sob uncontrollably. 

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on the psychology of bread loaves. But I think it might have had something to do with repressed memories. 

Or hell, maybe it was just chemical. Sometimes the reason is less important than the solution. But this wasn't really working out either.  

#4: OK. So when faced with all the unexpected, uncontrollable blubbering that kitchen work seemed to bring out, I decided I needed to lighten up a little, let everybody have some fun. 

I pulled Mr. Monkey out of his cage and let him and the bread ride down the stairs together. This was a blast for all of us. 

We had tons of fun and it could have gone on forever. The noise was a little much for my kids. And I had to run my son off the stairs where he was now sitting and watching something, probably terribly inappropriate for his age, on his Kindle. But I didn't have time to supervise my kids. I was busy dealing with this saltless hunk of bread. 

I did realize, unfortunately, that all this horseplay wasn't getting anything of any real value accomplished. So I decided I had better get back to my task of listing stuff, which is very productive, helpful to society and people love. 

#6: After the bread got to the bottom of the stairs and I crammed Mr. Monkey back into his cage thinking I could now finish my very important list, I had a sort of epiphany.

Why not just leave the loaf of bread at the bottom of the stairs and use it to prop open the door.

I had originally intended to make this a list of ten things to do with a crapped up loaf of bread. But, let's face it, this is getting old quickly. 

So in the end I decided it might be best just to make it a list of six things to do with a crapped up loaf of bread you forgot to put salt in cause your kid is messing with you while you're trying to bake.

I got a little distracted while writing this, I'll admit. So I hope I got all that right. Sometimes getting things right depends on subleties.  

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hero Worship vs Craft Beer and Good Music

I often imagine myself alone, walking through the rainforest, looking for my spirit animal. It's just a cool thing to do. And, somehow, that little internal image reminds me that people are ridiculous. Of course, there are those who might think my imagination is ridiculous. 

I knew a guy once. You've probably known someone like this. He tried to convince me that the only way to be successful in life was to make a lot of money. He had an expensive car. He had one of those jobs where you take advantage of other people by making money for marking up money or just rolling around in money or something. He was basically a shit. 

His whole concept of life was that people wanted to acquire wealth. The more wealth they had, the more happy they were, obviously. 

He had convinced himself that he was correct by using words like "security" and "prosperity" whenever he needed to defend his overabundance of stuff. 

On my eternal, internal rainforest quest to find my spirit animal this man is there, in the bushes, under the rocks, whispering condemnations and constant admonitions. 

He wants me to know that his worship of "security" in the form of "MONEY" is a representation of Life's purpose. He wants me to know I am a fool for not following the green paper road to his little land of Oz. 

We live on.

Heroes, of worship, come in many forms: rock stars, writers, politicians, programmers, players and preaching prayers. There is this need inside some to be seen, on top of the mountain. "Look at me!" 

How do I explain to those people that I only want to find that fleeting dream, deep inside, where raising my children, a small fire with a few friends, good drink and a guitar, smacking a drum and laughing some, is my vision of heaven?

Heroes, are seldom seen.    

Always there, under those rocks, where they stand upon mountains sits the ancient monkey, who waits to whisk in and steal the meal for the simple feast when we turn our backs in some revelous moment.

He will squeak and tweak and into the back seat of his BMW, will throw the fun away. 

As I say. He is basically a shit. 

There are women as well. Like this man, just as much shits. The difference is simply, they have large, sculpted tits.

Out in the mass of potential that is the vacuum of space, the draw pulls. Everything will fly apart. Shits and tits, everything will cease. 

What will tears have ever been? 

I often think of myself alone, roaming through the woods, looking for my spirit animal. It's such a cool thing to do. Somehow, that little internal image reminds me that people are ridiculous.    


Thursday, May 14, 2015

NASA Study Shows Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf Nearing Its Final Act

A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

"These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating," Khazendar said. "Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet. This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone."

Photo: NSIDC/Ted Scambos

Ice shelves are the gatekeepers for glaciers flowing from Antarctica toward the ocean. Without them, glacial ice enters the ocean faster and accelerates the pace of global sea level rise. This study, the first to look comprehensively at the health of the Larsen B remnant and the glaciers that flow into it, has been published online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Khazendar's team used data on ice surface elevations and bedrock depths from instrumented aircraft participating in NASA's Operation IceBridge, a multiyear airborne survey campaign that provides unprecedented documentation annually of Antarctica's glaciers, ice shelves and ice sheets. Data on flow speeds came from spaceborne synthetic aperture radars operating since 1997.

Khazendar noted his estimate of the remnant's remaining life span was based on the likely scenario that a huge, widening rift that has formed near the ice shelf's grounding line will eventually crack all the way across. The free-floating remnant will shatter into hundreds of icebergs that will drift away, and the glaciers will rev up for their unhindered move to the sea.

Located on the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Larsen B remnant is about 625 square miles (1,600 square kilometers) in area -- roughly the size of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan combined -- and about 1,640 feet (500 meters) thick at its thickest point. Its three major tributary glaciers are fed by their own tributaries farther inland.

"What is really surprising about Larsen B is how quickly the changes are taking place," Khazendar said. "Change has been relentless."

The remnant's main tributary glaciers are named Leppard, Flask and Starbuck -- the latter two after characters in the novel Moby Dick. The glaciers' thicknesses and flow speeds changed only slightly in the first couple of years following the 2002 collapse, leading researchers to assume they remained stable. The new study revealed, however, that Leppard and Flask glaciers have thinned by 65-72 feet (20-22 meters) and accelerated considerably in the intervening years. The fastest-moving part of Flask Glacier had accelerated 36 percent by 2012 to a flow speed of 2,300 feet (700 meters) a year -- comparable to a car accelerating from 55 to 75 mph.

Flask's acceleration, while the remnant has been weakening, may be just a preview of what will happen when the remnant breaks up completely. After the 2002 Larsen B collapse, the glaciers behind the collapsed part of the shelf accelerated as much as eightfold – comparable to a car accelerating from 55 to 440 mph.

The third and smallest glacier, Starbuck, has changed little. Starbuck's channel is narrow compared with those of the other glaciers, and strongly anchored to the bedrock, which, according to authors of the study, explains its comparative stability.

"This study of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers provides insights about how ice shelves farther south, which hold much more land ice, will react to a warming climate," said JPL glaciologist Eric Rignot, a coauthor of the paper.
The research team included scientists from JPL, the University of California, Irvine, and the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway. The paper is online at:

NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:

10 Reasons to Stop Making Lists of Things and Calling Them Articles

Saint Stupid's Day Parade by: Evrik
1: It's lazy. I could expound on this idea. But since this is a list article I'm in lazy mode, so...

2: Breaking things down into little lists is awesome if, say, you're going to the grocery store, or organizing bills, but how boring it is to do to the otherwise interesting things in life. At this point (see item 1:) I could easily track down some quote about making lists and insert it here. This would flesh out the list, helping my list writing career blossom.

3: Being a smart ass about what other people do is far superior to making lists. I know some people enjoy their little lists. They must. I see the damn things all over the place. But those of us who are tired of seeing these lists, well... As for me, I'm going to make fun of you. Because it's really annoying to see so many ridiculous lists.

4: The obviously arbitrary nature of exactly how many items it takes to constitute an important list is ridiculous. It used to be, at the very least, always divisible by tens. Top 10, top 20, top 100, or something similar. But now, as the laziness has begun to completely take control, it's just wherever the writer chooses to stop on their list. In fact, the headline of this article might change shortly due to my emerging need to go buy some chicken nuggets, a 10 piece, by the way...not 6 or 7 (I don't actually eat chicken nuggets. But I'm in character I guess).

5: List writing makes you think you're really on top of things. Like, if  I write a top ten list, or, rather, let's say, since we're getting loose with our numbers, top 8 list of barbecue restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama, I seem, by virtue of even writing this list, as if somehow I am qualified to judge these things. This might be due to some erroneous comparisons drawn in our modern human brains between some of the more historically significant lists, such as the Periodic Table, or a list of American presidents, or, let's say, and the most important by far... a countdown on how many school days are left until Summer. When, probably, I took a very unscientific poll of people who already read the drivel I'm pushing. And, even more narrow, probably I get responses from my little poll from the very few people who read my stuff, and support my needs because they either know me, or have stock in my magazine, blog etc. 

6: Verifiable data is important, yet list articles are often just making shit up. Not everyone is just making shit up. But it's easy to nurse the numbers a little bit to sell something, It's an age old tradition. And usually these lists are done by someone who is either directly, or indirectly trying to sell you something. It's rare that you'll see a "Top Ten (or 7, whatever) Businesses That Poison You With Toxic Ingredients," or "Top Seven People in Our City Who Use Their Power to Manipulate Local News Outlets." Sure, you'll see a few of these. But it's usually something about home buying, happy food places, great cities, etc. You know, something seemingly benign... "Top 10 Scents for Hand Soaps." Jesus! I mean if you're the kind of person who reads an article to find out what your hands need to smell like... Actually, I bet a lot of intelligent people read articles to find out how their hands need to smell. It's probably a good way to fight certain effects of Asperger's Syndrome. So they, can read these list articles. But only them.
7: It's trivial! A lot of these articles are taking up space in papers, or on websites, in blogs, and even worse, in the minds of Americans, where other, more important information might be. Yes, I'm judging. We, Americans, all of us, have a responsibility to spread actual, important news. I understand strategy...the need for a newspaper or blog to acquire and retain readership and sponsorship. But hell, it's getting really bad. Of course, I've had a number of people who kind of dig what I'm doing offer to lend me their design talents to spruce up my old jalopy of a blog. But I don't know how to explain it to people sometimes. I...don't want to be you. I...don't want to be them. I...don't believe hero worship or your method of judging credibility has paid off so well. And doing whatever it takes to sell papers, or not piss off your advertisers makes for a greasy slide into Hell. And Hell is where you'll find numbered lists of what to eat.

8: It bolsters poor quality news outlets! Listen! I know citizen journalism and blogs have caused serious damage to an already floundering news community. That's one of the reasons I drive my jalopy of a blog. I will never try to pretend I'm a world changing journalist. If I stumble on something world changing, or work really hard and make a dent in my small part of the world, great! But I don't give a shit about making tons of people think I'm important. And, though a rare light will shine through, that's a big part of the problem with journalism today. Mainstream journalists have become far too self involved and self important. Perhaps they always have been, but they are certainly more observably so now. And people are seeing through their bullshit. What does this have to do with lists you might ask. Shit...I guess nothing. Lists are just so boring and vacuous I guess I start to spin out of control into real issues. Sorry... I'll get back to it. 

9: Top (insert number) list articles are freaking boring, cheapen the beauty of the mind, and require no in depth thought. The very nature of them is to break everything down into bite sized pieces and spoon feed targeted information to an already dumbed down society. They are the monkey throwing poop of communication. How many pieces of poop, and which pieces of poop are better. The top ten pieces of thrown monkey poop. Are you sure you want to be spoon fed now?

10: (See item 1: and just circle back around) I'm finished with this list!   


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

NASA Announces Journey to Mars Challenge, Seeks Public Input on Establishing Sustained Human Presence on Red Planet

What do you need to bring, and how do you minimize the need for delivery of future supplies in order to establish a sustained human presence on a planet 140 million miles away from Earth?

NASA is embarking on an ambitious journey to Mars and Tuesday announced a challenge inviting the public to write down their ideas, in detail, for developing the elements of space pioneering necessary to establish a continuous human presence on the Red Planet. This could include shelter, food, water, breathable air, communication, exercise, social interactions and medicine, but participants are encouraged to consider innovative and creative elements beyond these examples.

Participants are asked to describe one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities and operations that are needed to achieve this goal and, to the greatest extent possible, are technically achievable, economically sustainable, and minimize reliance on support from Earth. NASA expects to make up to three awards at a minimum of $5,000 each from a total award pool of $15,000.

NASA’s efforts for sending humans to Mars is well underway today, with spacecraft monitoring Mars from orbit and rovers on the surface. The International Space Station is testing systems and is being used to learn more about the health impacts of extended space travel. NASA also is testing and developing its next generation of launch and crew vehicles -- the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crewed spacecraft.

NASA’s two-prong approach is to build reusable space capabilities and incorporate commercial and international partners. By developing new technologies along the way and creating the systems necessary to maintain a permanent human presence in deep space, humanity will pioneer space, pushing out into the solar system to stay.

Given spacecraft limitations on weight and volume -- and a minimum 500 days between resupply opportunities -- innovative solutions are required for a mission to Mars that is not dependent on Earth for resources.

NASA seeks technical submissions that describe the development of capabilities and operational events necessary, in both the near- and long-term, to advance this bold journey. Submissions may consist of proposed approaches, capabilities, systems or a set of integrated systems that enable or enhance a sustained human presence on Mars. Solutions should include the assumptions, analysis, and data that justify their value. Submissions should include a process to develop, test, implement, and operate the system or capability.

Submissions will be judged on relevance, creativity, simplicity, resource efficiency, feasibility, comprehensiveness and scalability.

For more information about the challenge, and details on how to apply, visit:

For more information about NASA's journey to Mars, see:

#DrivingBham: Sunvarmint Says Don't Be Nice! Be Smart!

Courtesy is an absolute must when driving. Please don't get me wrong. Something I learned long ago, which I believe helped me deal with stress when I'm driving, is that traffic is a social situation, not a mechanical operation. 

I wish it was more mechanical. I wish people were able to just follow traffic laws and proper driving techniques, read road signs, use turn signals, know the difference between a flashing yellow light and a flashing red light. 

God knows, even if people drove the way they were supposed to, poor street planning, or outdated roadways, signage and other institutional shortcomings would cause enough traffic misery.

I emphatically encourage anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car to obsess on proper driving skills and know-how.

Be the one in the car who knows the difference between yielding and merging, and who properly practices each maneuver.

The modern world is allowing people to dumb down in so many ways. The new text and Internet use of languages are sloppy and not precise. Instead of evolving in the many ways open communication could allow, we are, in many unfortunate ways, devolving due to the many different conveniences available today.

When it comes to driving, this new sloppy way of living can be deadly.

Of course there are the obvious driving no-nos, like texting, making phone calls, reaching under your seat to grab your rolling papers to prove your behind the wheel spleefing dexterity and skill. We all know those things are idiotic, except when we do them.

I think, instead of focusing on the obvious, often abused offenses such as texting or distracted driving, we should focus on the overall problem of "driving while dumb-ass."

Now, driving while dumb-ass is a flaw that many people think they don't have. It's always the person in the other car. If you are going too fast, you think everyone else is going too slow. If you are going too slow, then those speed demon, young whippersnappers jamming up behind you are the problem. 
You crave that moment when you pull up next to them at the stoplight to prove they wasted their speeding and you'll get there just as fast. 

Then, whichever side of the slow vs fast argument you're on, if you're the kind of person who personally engages other drivers in combative behavior (on a regular basis) then you are guilty of DWDA. I don't mean to say you're DWDA if you shoot a bird at one driver every blue moon. We've all dealt with the situation where we just have to tell someone off because, let's face it, they shouldn't be behind the wheel but no one else is correcting that problem. So you decide flipping them off is necessary, or yelling, or whatever else your choice of noticeable compaint might be. Congratulations. You solved the problem and they will go home crying and never drive again. 

The only opinion I have about that sort of reaction is that it is sometimes forgivable. I, myself, have engaged in a little bird flipping, yelling and other expressions. But I have realized that often, people to whom that is directed actually kind of like it. And so I feel like they have drawn me into their little world. Whether or not I can draw them out of there is questionable. But if I feed them, they will stay. So I try my damnedest to avoid the hate sex with other drivers. 

All of this being said, my main point is that driving is a social situation. People drive with their emotions just as much as they drive with their intellect. If you have your emotions in check...great. Otherwise they will come out of your brain, slide down your arms and legs and into your car. 

One gesture in particular is actually more worrisome than others. In today's driving world we all know to expect a bit of jerkishness. People will cut you off, tailgate, not let you into traffic, pass on the solid line etc. I know this sucks. And those of you who do this, well, you're sucking. But as much as you irritate me, there is one action that gets to me just as much. Politeness.

Now, as I said at the beginning, courtesy is an absolute must in driving situations. But, and this is an extremely large and important but...But it can also be deadly as hell. 

If you know the rules for driving, the basic ones, y'know, that helps a lot: Right turn on red almost everywhere, The person on the right goes first if you arrive at a four way stop at the same time (it's called right of way), Flashing yellow light means caution, Flashing red light means stop, The left hand lane is for passing (move over after you pass or you are DWDA), Tailgating is dangerous and illegal even if you're correct that they need to move over...

But I've heard of and seen first hand another major problem... kindness. If we all stick to the rules it's easy for everyone to drive safely. But when you decide you're going to express your love of humanity, a random act of kindness, and say, let a person out into busy traffic flow, or relinquish your turn to move at a stop sign, you might also be causing harm or even killing them. 

One time, which is only one of many, but the worst, I witnessed an act of kindness cause a serious problem. On 280, when the traffic was simply awful, a very sweet person attempted to allow a car to pass over the lane and through traffic, from the adjoining intersection and into the traffic flow on the other side, going the other direction. They were frustrated. They didn't understand why others weren't joining them in their random act of kindness. And "BOOM!" When the car finally made it through the artificial gap created by this sweet driver's good will, they were creamed, hard.

I've seen other minor incidents of similar misguided attempts at goodness. Often, other drivers who attempt to allow me to move forward instead of them at stop signs, or into traffic are perplexed and frustrated if I don't follow their lead. But if I have no idea what is coming up beside them, or see no reason why they should allow me to move first, I am dubious and untrusting. It isn't that I am untrusting of their intent. I know they're really nice. I know they're expressing that age old social activity of friendship, happily spreading the joy of their niceness. No, I trust that part. I want them to be the one's that watch my house for me while I'm out of town, or get my mail, etc. But I don't necessarily want them to be across from me a a stop sign. 

Now, to make myself entirely clear. There are MANY situations where courtesy is important while driving. There are MANY situations where kindness is necessary, helping a stranded person, watching out for others who might have drifted momentarily, either out of their lane, or out of their mind. We aren't perfect mechanical creatures. We need to allow a bit of flexibility to account for all the apes controlling thousands of pounds of steel flinging themselves madly across the planet. But, as with many other things in life...I know to watch out for the ass hats. It's the kind ones that can kill you. 

So, closing, finis, in conclusion, adieu and a happy healthy so long Sally, I will ask you, very careful with your "nice."      

PS. I'm not talking about driving in New Zealand or Malaysia or some exotic place. What I'm talking about is here. I mean the driving rules are pretty damn consistent throughout the good ole' U, S of A.