Sunday, November 29, 2009

Beware - The Glowing Red Eyes

It seems that no one was killed on Black Friday this year. Then again, it's the time of the year to dwell on positive thoughts. Why even pause for a moment to think about Jdimytai Damour, a seasonal Wal-Mart employee who was trampled to death last year by the greedy horde that bolted as soon as the doors were open?

Yup, I hate the Holiday Season. It's one of the biggest scams going.

Usually I try to minimize my eXposure to all the eXmas advertising that tries to get one worked up into a buying frenzy. But this image caught my eye:

Check out the eyes on the reindeer. A satanic beastie or what? Looks hungry.

The perfect symbol of an impatient herd ready to storm a store on Black Friday.

Papernet: Brooklyn!

If newspapers and Web sites can go hyperlocal, why not a zine?

Fred Argroff's zine sums up the geographic area it covers with its name: Brooklyn! Nothing fancy about its format: 8 1/2" by 11" sheets folded lengthwise and stapled together into a digest-size edition. It's the content, not the format, that counts.

Brooklyn! #66 features a photo-essay of the annual Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. No actual mermaids showed up -- even though one costumed participant went all out and had her legs fused into a tail. She must have wiggled, not marched, down the appropriately named Surf Avenue.

The latest issue has photographic evidence that you can find Heaven and God in Brooklyn, at least when it comes to delis and restaurants. Besides providing short articles about local history, Brooklyn! also features a lexicon and pronunciation guide so that you, too, can speak Brooklynese.

If you wanna know wat Fred Argroff thinks, three bucks well-concealed inna envelope will get you a copy. Snail mail to Penthouse L, 1170 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11230-4060.

[ Note: Usually I don't review hardcopy zines. But while the Internet has ended up being the primary medium for many zinesters and other non-mainstream writers, there is still a thriving zine culture out there. On occasion I will review examples of the "papernet." ]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

XR #67: Pain In Ass

It was difficult but I finally got the latest edition of my zine published. Once again, the CTS (computer time suck) factor.

With my budget I can't afford to buy Microsoft Word. Also, I have tried the latest version of MS Word, 2007, and it's an overcomplicated piece of shit. Too many options, too many chances to screw up or find yourself in a dead-end.

I tried three freebie wordprocessing programs: Abiword, Jarte, and OpenOffice Writer. What I want in a wordprocessing program is capability with MS Word, the ability to save in the .doc format. I would format a file with a text box in Abiword, save it as a .doc but when I opened it later, the text box was was all fucked up. I won't bore you with the problems I had with Jarte.

By default I ended up with OpenOffice Writer but that also has its quirks with .doc compatibility when it comes to frames/text boxes. Take a MS Word document with text boxes and when you open it up with Writer, enjoy the jumble.

And then there's the learning curve, trying to find a command within a particular program. One program hides it here, the other over there, or you don't find it anywhere. Time is sucked away by compatibility problems and the lack of standardization. Imagine cars made by different manufactuers and each company places the gas pedal in a different location, anywhere it wants – including the steering wheel. You want to speed up, your foot keeps pressing the floor, but you're supposed to be using that lever on the steering column. And as for the brake...

Anyway, I think I've found a decent trade-off with OpenOffice Writer. On the plus side it does an OK job of converting a file into a PDF format from the ODT (open desk text) format. (I have a scanner that is supposed to convert hardcopy into PDF but the files come out too dark.) On the negative side, converting ODT to .doc sucks: headers with issue and page numbers disappear.

Over at (AKA I just uploaded the PDF file for XR #67 if you want to read my stuff in a zine format. Unless I hear any complaints, I won't be uploading any more issues in MS Word format. I've decided to try to simplify my efforts, concentrating on a few projects, using only a narrow choice of programs.

That should mean more time for writing. And more time to write about something besides my CTS problems.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Your Attention Captured But...

This curious ad pops up on my Yahoo email account:

(Click on image for eXpanded view.)

The text reads: “You're probably wondering how a guy like me ended up paying way less for car insurance.”

That isn't the curious part. Check out the portrait of the man who is supposedly making the endorsement. While he is not a movie star or male model, it seems the image has been made to accent his features to the point of distortion. It looks like a wide angle shot taken up close so that his nose and glasses appear to be too big. Of course, being “dentally challenged” (a nod to you PC types) doesn't help either.

At first glance I thought it was an ad for Geico, a car insurance company that features TV spots with actors made up as Neanderthals. (“So simple a caveman can do it.”) But this image shows a member of Homo sapiens.

Photoshopped? If not, then the photographer isn't presenting his subject in the best light.

Does it make you want to run out and buy car insurance? Especially with that headline about President Obama backing insurance regulation. Did he approve this ad? Is the company being promoted now under new government regulations set forth by Obama? What is this company's connection to the president and insurance regulation? Details, please.

I think I'm going to add this tagline to my blog:

Obama Backs Free Speech, Responsible Bloggers

And speaking of details, there's the disclaimer in tiny print at the bottom of the ad:

“*This testimonial is not an actual representation of an experience by any one consumer.”

Ya think?

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Other Ufologist

[FLOTSAMETRICS and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science. By Curtis Ebbesmeyer & Eric Scigiliano. Nonfiction. © 2009.]

Curtis Ebbesmeyer is an oceanographer who could also be called an ufologist. He investigates incidents of UFOs – unidentified floating objects, that is.

His book Flotsametrics reveals that the oceans of the world form a giant conveyor belt of eleven planetary gyres. These gyres carry miscellaneous man-made objects in circles until they wash up on shore. A container ship at sea encounters a problem and tub toys are spilled overboard. By tracking from where the toys were dumped to where they wash up shows the path of an oceanic gyre.

One would first expect that such research is interesting but has no practical value. After all, a cargo ship from Japan loses some merchandise that washes up months or years later on the west coast of the United States. So what?

But as Ebbesmeyer explains, the gyres show how they are part of a worldwide system that can affect mankind. Pollution – such as garbage patches – is spread by the conveyor belt.

One series of UFO incidents haunts Ebbesmeyer, large ceramic urns that have washed up on the Northwest coast of the US since 1961. He has tried to years to determine the origin of the urns. Unlike an ufologist who doesn't have physical evidence, Ebbesmeyer has the goods - but he doesn't know what they are.

Ebbesmeyer is also interested when a MIB comes ashore – not a man in black but a message in a bottle. MIBs have made it easier to track gyre currents because each one usually contain a note explaining its point of origin.

One wonders how Ebbesmeyer would react if a man in black did wash up, flotsam from an UFO – the alien ship kind – that crashed and sank at sea.

Ufology meets ufology.

[More info at ]

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Peekaboo Alien

Is an alien peering around the corner at me...

Or am I'm just looking at an image of alien worlds at the wrong angle?

Paranormal Expo: How About A Quartz Mothership?

(Wrapping up my coverage of the Paranormal Expo held in Plattsburgh, NY on October 24th.)

UFOs and haunted houses and everything in between.

The guest speakers at the Paranormal Expo covered it all.

Dan Lowenski, UFO specialist, didn't come across as either a complete skeptic or true believer. During his slideshow presentation he referred to various cases, some puzzling, but he didn't flat out say that he believed that every case was true, that hoaxes and misidentification never happened. With his background in law enforcement, he presented a balanced view of ufology.

Part of the slideshow showed a training exercise once conducted in the Adirondack forest with a mock up of a crashed UFO. Codenamed Project Diogenes, the participants located the mock UFO and conducted an investigation, a simulation of what should be done if an alien craft did actually crash. Lowenski said the exercise was done years ago with a limited budget; that's why the “special effects” of the crash weren't top quality.

During the Q&A after Lowenski's presentation, a woman in the audience mentioned a case involving a Japanese airline pilot who had encountered an UFO. (I think she was referring to the incident back in 1986 when a pilot for Japan Air Lines observed a gigantic UFO over Alaska.) She stated that the night it happened, she saw the alien mothership over Plattsburgh.

The last presentation of the day dealt with an investigation into a haunted house in the region. The home owner said he was a skeptic until unnerving occurrences happened in the old house he had bought and was renovating. Some local paranormal investigators – affiliated with an organization founded by his brother-in-law – encountered all sorts of weird stuff. This all seemed to be caused by the spirit of a mentally disabled woman who lived in the house a long time ago.

Someone in the audience asked if an attempt was going to be made to release the spirit. The lead investigator and the home owner explained that there was a lot of quartz in the stone walls of the house and in the ground where the house sat. Quartz, it was mentioned, is a material that strongly binds spirits.

UFOs, ghosts, new agers and crystals – sometimes it all ties in for some people like those who attended the PExpo.

Paranormal Expo: Sorry, I Don't See It

(Another post about the Paranormal Expo held in Plattsburgh, NY on October 24th.)

“Do you see my white aura?” she asked.

The psychic had moved back from the podium during her presentation, standing against a white wall.

Someone in the audience said they could see it.

All I saw was a faint shadow to one side of her cast by the fluorescent ceiling lighting. Was that what she meant?, I thought.

Then she stepped away from her original position and then pointed at that spot.

“See how my aura was left behind?”

Sorry, no. But a woman in the audience said she saw the psychic's aura lingering in place. The psychic replied that she could see the audience member's aura: it was orange.

“I've been told that before,” replied the expo attendee.

Then the speaker gave that woman a reading from the podium, relaxing, closing her eyes. She said the woman was a creative and independent person. So am I.

Then the psychic cut her reading short, saying that there was more information but it was dark and she would share it with the audience member afterward.

I had arrived late for the presentation, only catching this last part. I wondered what I had missed.

Obviously my sixth sense had failed me. I would've got there on time if precognition had compelled me.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Liberal Paranormalist Conservative?

Three key aspects of a successful business: location, location, location.

Shouldn't the same apply to online political ads?

There's a congressional race going on in my neck of the woods, northern New York State. It had been a three-way race but the Republican candidate dropped out; she was considered a RINO (Republican In Name Only) partly because she didn't toe the conservative pro-life line regarding abortion.

Some anti-liberal narrow-minded Republicans got together and are running their own man, Doug Hoffman, as a conservative party candidate. I don't follow politics – most of it is bullshit - but this race has intruded upon my online activities.

One blog I check out is Why?... Thoughts Of An Angry Old Woman. The angry woman is Regan Lee's mother. While Regan is into UFOs with her blog, The Orange Orb, her mother “Skazski” is into politics but with a strong a liberal viewpoint. The other day Skazski was ranting about that buffoon, Rush Limbaugh. Right above her post was an ad for Doug Hoffman:

I found that ad placement to be incongruous. Then I went over to, a site that not only covers UFOS but also related paranormal topics. Guess what I found there, right next to an ad for a creepy sci-fi movie, The Fourth Kind, a film dealing with alien abductions? Yup, another Doug Hoffman ad:

I don't know if the ads are only popping up locally, i.e., computers around here are being identified by location and that's why I'm so blessed with Doug Hoffman ads. But why would a conservative try to sway voters by popping up on a liberal's blog? Better yet, why would a down-to-earth conservative push his POV on an “un-earthly” site like UFO Digest? After all, according to the disclosure movement, politicians – especially those favoring strong government – are keeping the truth about UFOs from the public.

Must be some sort of Illuminati trick...