Dying snow persons of Morgantown

This December has been an unusual mix of weathers. We had more flurries yesterday, but the snows of the big blizzard of two weeks ago had mostly melted away. For a brief while, things warmed up in Morgantown.

That might seem like a good thing, but it neglects to consider the individual cost to Snowmankind. While you rest in your cozy homes, countless Iced Americans are left to face the elements without adequate shelter.

Witness the horror as, emaciated and starving, they waste away.

Some barely possess enough scraps of fabric to protect them from the elements.

Others are scarcely recognizable, mere shades of what they once were.

Even those who had once gotten fat off the land now wallow in filth and squalor.

And the women … well, as is so often the case, the women put on a brave face through it all.

Please, the next time it warms up … think of the snowchildren.


Getting carded

We haven’t done Christmas cards in a while. I’m not against the practice, and have even engaged in it in the past, but being a student and living in an apartment can leave you feeling less-than-settled. The sending of festive holiday cards, by contrast, is more that tends to be done by people with a firmer handle on their affairs.

(I say this by way of generalization. I am sure there are many absolute basket cases who send Christmas cards. I mean no offense by my stereotyping.)

Anyway, it’s been a while. But this year I came across some good ones, so they’re goin’ out.

The one on the right depicts the Krampus, the Austrian spirit that torments naughty children. The card itself ($11 for 12, but possibly sold out by now) was designed by Melita “Miss Monster” Curphy, whose site I was pointed to by Krampus Kards – apparently there are people who put together these cards every year, which is FANTASTIC.

On the left is a local product, a blood-spatter analysis card designed and sold by the WVU Forensic Science Club. You can get 5 for $10, which goes toward the club. It’s on nice paper too. Here’s the inside.

They also include a logo inside for the people on your Christmas card list who are wondering just what in the hell you’ve sent them.

Mergy Krampus and a Killer New Year!

Morgantown photo dump

Morgantown is a weird place. This is not a criticism of the city, but rather an observation. Jess and I like Morgantown, but there is the occasional strangeness. One of my favorite things about having a phone is being able to capture these images. Call ’em documentation, call ’em evidence, but here are a few scenes from the week that was.

After Jess’ weekly pregnancy checkup, we headed back to the car. Pictured is the car parked next to us. May I draw your attention to the vicinity of the front tire:

Behold the wonder of Street Pie.

On closer inspection, the pie appeared to be pumpkin. Why does one leave a pie on the ground in a parking lot? This is one of the mysteries even a Ph.D. does not prepare one to answer.

Here is a book I was not aware existed. I present it here without editorial content:

I choose not to speculate about the length of this book. It does bear mentioning, however, that this is the book immediately below it on the shelf:

Good to know there’s a backup plan.

Finally, here’s an odd choice of trend to seize upon:

Surely there is a reason for this, one other than being an epidemic enthusiast, but I’m at a loss.

Why does Farmville hate Christmas?

Hope I’m not stirring up the wingnuts with this, but it got my attention. Farmville players recently received a tree from the game. The tree is initially bare, but you can load it with gifts from friends, which you open on Dec. 24 (me, I’m hoping for chickens).

Due to my compulsion to collect worthless (but visually mesmerizing) strings of 1’s and 0’s, I am thrilled by any new opportunity to gather the meaningless in service of the pointless. Farmville, as always, is only too happy to oblige, and so I’ve been trimming this virtual tree with virtual gifts from my virtual friends. But as I scrolled over the tree today, I noticed this:

While I applaud your bravery in going with the “Holiday Tree” label, Farmville, I’d be curious to hear some of the no doubt calm, rational, and not-at-all-hyperventilated comments you’ve received about this.

For too long, an age-old tradition has been sullied by those who would hide its true name out of some loyalty to what’s popular, or “correct.” Rather than embrace what countless others have found meaningful – the gifts we give, the tree we harvest and decorate, the hams we eat – these individuals have chosen to know the season by a name other than its true one, seeking to hide the true celebration behind it all.

I am referring, of course, to Saturnalia.

Every year, the wife and I travel into the wilderness of Kroger to select the finest $30 Frasier Fir in all the land. We cutteth that tree out of the store, the work of the hands of the workman, with the debit card. We deck it with silver and with gold; we fasten it with nails and with hammers, and one of those green plastic bases, that it move not.

For this day, we allow our slaves to treat us with disrespect.

Come the eve of December 24, the real excitement begins. In the tradition of my Druidic ancestors (on my father’s side), we do then observe the winter solstice with the hanging of our socks (the better to catch falling coins) and lie in eager wait for the coming of Odin All-father astride his great steed Sleipnir. Gifts and punishments are doled out as befit our comportment in the year that was. It is a magickal time for all.

Lo, Saturnalia! And a mergy Krampus to all!

Luke Ravenstahl may not be winning hearts and minds

I like Mayor Luke (okay, he’s not MY mayor, but I’m in Pittsburgh pretty regularly). He’s the youngest mayor in Pittsburgh history, and for a brief stint he essentially changed his name to “Screw the Baltimore Ravens.” He also spent some time at Mercyhurst, and, as everyone knows, people from Erie County love politicians who’ve lived in Erie.

Apparently, though, he’s a little shove-y. And might have borrowed a city SUV to go see Toby Keith – but ya gotta love his defense: “That’s what 27-year-olds do and I shouldn’t be any different.” The guy can’t even go to Steelers games anymore, which is a blessing or a curse depending on your geographical inclination.

So there’s some stuff, sure. But on a recent trip to Craig Street I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like this:

Biting critique, or just a catchy portmanteau? You be the judge.

There is no Mars info here

I had resigned myself to not posting today – there’s just too much going on in the real world this week – but this cracked me up. I just logged into the site a few minutes ago. Not having posted or promoted today, I didn’t expect any activity, so I was surprised to see 30 hits (that’s a lot for me), nearly all going to my post of ultrasound pics from a few weeks back.

“Did mom send the baby picture link to her friends?” I wondered.

Then I noticed the “Top Searches” listing. This is a cut-and-paste of what appears there:

face on mars,  face on mars picture,  mars face,  mars picture of face,  face of mars

I feel I owe you an apology, Mars enthusiasts. You have surely come here seeking info about the mysterious face on the red planet, and instead you are subjected to, well, this:

Whereas traditional ultrasounds roughly resemble an image of the face on Mars … these new techniques look more like the face on Mars if it had jaundice and was in slightly better focus.

I apologize if you feel your trip has been wasted, but I do admire your enthusiasm for search string permutations. Thank you for using the Internet.


On this, the last day of National Blog Posting Month, I bring you this cautionary tale of sheer terror from deep in the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. Take a moment to dim the lights in order to set the mood.

I was given cause to enter the vacant building on Wednesday the last, the day before Thanksgiving when all souls are occupied elsewhere with their preparations nefarious. As I climb’d the stair to the floor second, my footfalls did echo about me in the eerie quiet.

Twas then did I look, as though somehow beckoned, to the high wall. Perhaps some slight motion did catch my eye? I know not. But there, nestled in that lofty corner, lurked … a BAT. Leathery wings masked the beast’s slavering jaws, and it was only by God’s grace that it had turned its countenance away from me, that I might not be struck afeared by its glowering crimson gaze.

Providence smiled upon me, tho, and so I crept past with a shudder. That day was I spared. But humans do poorly not to remain vigilant, dear reader.

Entering stately Martin Hall once more this Monday morn, I trod thoughtlessly up-stairs to mine office, when what did I encounter? I tell you, reader, THE BEAST HAD RETURNED! Clinging to its same location, the most foul and unholy abomination did lurk in wait for some idle journalism student to happen past.

Twas only by my wits that I survived to pass along the tale, but I tell you this: I must still pass the creature once more today, and my God’s mercy be upon me!

So: Bat in the building. That’s it in the top right – the little black dot. I don’t know if it’s moved since Wednesday, or even if it’s alive (can they hang on if they’re dead?). No guano on the floor. Do they fly around inside the building at night? Has anyone seen it?