Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

In addition to being the day Christians think Jesus took a 3 day nap and then vamoosed back to Heaven, today is also our 18th wedding anniversary which, to me, is a much more significant occasion. No one is more surprised that I’ve been married for 18 years than I am.

Here we see the judge pointing out how my receding hairline will only get worse.

To say that I was apprehensive would be to put it mildly. Not long before Anne and I tied the knot, two of my good friends — people who seemed to have their shit together way better than I had and seemed to have happy marriages — got divorced. Their marriages ended around the five year mark and I worried that I, someone not known for having his shit together, would end up following a similar path.

My mother, Mary, with my sister-in-law, Deborah, and my niece and nephew, Jasmine and Dakota. In the background is the back of my brother, Wes, a bit of my dad, Jay, my mother-in-law, Kathy, and my sister, Cindy.

To be sure, there were some rocky points early on were it seemed like things would not hold, but somehow we managed to keep it together. True to the vows, we’ve had our share of in sickness and in health and richer and poorer. There were days that we had no idea what we should do so we did the best we could and hoped for the best. So far that seems to be working.

I swear I haven’t fallen asleep in this pic.

I have nothing deeply profound to offer on marriage other than to remember what it was that brought you two together in the first place and keep working at it. Some days she’s going to need to lean on you and on others you’re going to need to lean on her. I think that’s part of what marriage is all about. Finding your way though life with the help of your best friend. (Note, replace him/her with appropriate pronouns for non-hetero marriages.)

My daughter, Courtney, and my father-in-law, Aral.

It’s weird how it both does and doesn’t feel like it’s been 18 years. I love you, Anne, and I’m so happy we’ve had all this time together. I’m looking forward to many more years to come.

I actually watched an old-timey coffee grinder being restored.

I often surprise myself by being fascinated by things that, had you told me I would be fascinated by them, I would tell you you’re out of your mind. I blame PBS’ This Old House for making me like this.

You see, for three years or so I worked for a fleet tracking/stolen vehicle recovery service called Teletrac here in the Detroit area as part of the graveyard shift. It was part tech support and part service job. Not only did I keep the computers that ran the system up and running, but when calls came in or a car was stolen I was the person who interacted with the customers and police. The system was pretty stable and calls were infrequent so there was a lot of downtime where my job consisted of breathing and trying to stay awake.

Fortunately we had a TV available to us. Unfortunately it was only over-the-air broadcast capable and at 3AM there wasn’t a whole lot on the big four networks worth watching. Hence my first real appreciation for PBS in general and TOH in particular. Keep in mind, this is a good 30 years before I would actually own a house and I and my co-worker had no real home maintenance experience, but it wasn’t long before we were offering our critical takes on the floor tile choices the people on the show were making. I don’t make a point of watching the show anymore, but when I did I really enjoyed it.

Which brings me to this YouTube video by the folks at My Mechanics which I stumbled across over at Boing Boing. It’s simply 26 minutes of some guy who bought a nasty old metal coffee grinder refurbishing it to pristine quality. That’s it. No real narration other than the occasional bit of text.

In this video i’m restoring an old coffee grinder. A few weeks ago I bought an old bench grinder to restore on eBay. The guy who sold it was actually selling more antiques, he had a room filled with old items. I took a look at his other stuff and this unique coffee grinder caught my attention right away. So I ended up buying it for $35. The one thing that really impressed me on this coffee grinder was the metal body, usually they’re made of wood. I also liked the colour very much. The restoration itself turned out to be a lot more challenging than I first expected. I’m very happy with the final result of this coffee grinder. I really like how the handle turned out.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have neither the know-how or the patience to do something like this that makes it so fascinating, but I watched the whole thing and was impressed with the results. The video doesn’t cover every single second, but it does appear to cover every step and meticulous is definitely a good word to describe the process. There is a part of me that wishes I could to this sort of thing, but another part that knows it’s not something I’d actually enjoy. Watching someone else do it on YouTube? Yeah, I can get into that because what was likely days — if not weeks — of work was compressed down into a mere 26 minutes. Me doing it myself? Probably not a good idea.

New study shows dubstep disrupts mosquito mating habits as well as annoying your parents.

A study on mosquito feeding and mating habits published in the journal Acta Tropica says that the bitey little bastards have a hard time eating and/or fucking when exposed to the song “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex. Apparently the low-frequency sounds common in dubstep not only drive your parents up the wall, but cause havoc with the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti.

For the experiment, researchers created a “music-on” and “music-off” environment in which they studied the Aedes aegypti and came to some conclusions.

Mosquitos in the music-on environment were less likely to feed on the provided host and were less likely to reproduce than mosquitos in the music-off environment. Researchers believe that these findings can be used to help develop more ways to control Aedes-carried diseases.

SCIENTIFIC STUDY FINDS “SCARY MONSTERS AND NICE SPRITES” BY SKRILLEX STOPS MOSQUITOS FROM HAVING SEX – EDM.com

I can’t begin to imagine why this would bother mosquitoes, your mom.

So the next time your parents try to tell you to turn that shit down, just explain how you’re protecting yourself from yellow fever mosquitos and ask them if they’d rather you got sick and died.

April 1st is dangerous for the credulous on the Internet

It’s that day again. The day of pranks and mischief where everyone tries to pull one over on you. Tech companies in particular really seem to enjoy this day and go to extra lengths to put forth almost believable fake products.

Companies like nVidia and their new R.O.N. AI Personal Assistant for Gamers:

I could totally use one of these for the RageConverter™ technology alone. The Troll Destroyer would also be nice.

Then there’s Newegg with their announcement of their entry into hardware production with their first CPU for gamers that continues the current trend of putting RGB lighting on everything. The Newegg iBrite RGB CPU:

It’s not clear how you’re supposed to see the RGB lights once you put a heatsink on it, but the specs of this processor more than make up for it: Cores: 100 — Threads: 200 — DDR5 RAM support: Sure, probably — Base clock: 1.4 PHz — Overclock capable, but doing so might create a small black hole inside your CPU (and void your warranty).

ThinkGeek goes all out for April 1st with a number of fake products that are often things people would really want. So much so that in the past they’ve actually turned some of them into real things you can buy. This year they’re “offering” up the Burned Bread Toaster by Banksy for the low low price of $1,370,000.00, the Flame Jam Hoop for all your Boomshakalaka needs, the Captain Marvel Universal Pager for a mere 1¢ (with $9.99/month 2-year service contract), the Roomby: Kirby Robot Vacuum that’ll suck your carpets clean, the Marvel Thor Mighty Mjolnir Mailbox because your mail is worthy, a Motion-Controlled Mimic Package to stop those porch pirates, the NERF Nuke to end all those NERF gun wars once and for all, the Power Wheels Desert Drifters so your kids can live out their Mad Max dreams, and — my personal favorite — the Bean Bag Onesie for all you lazy millennials out there.

Logitech has given in to demands to rename Wireless Mice to a more appropriate mammal considering that they lack “tails.” Announce they will now be called Hamsters:

Google is excited to introduce their newest product: Google Tulip! Decoding the language of flowers has been a decades-long challenge. But that changes today. Thanks to great advancements in artificial intelligence, Google Assistant on phones and Google Home is now able to understand tulips, allowing translation between Tulipish and dozens of human languages.

If you want to try for yourself, set your Google Assistant on your phone or smart speaker to the English language and say “Talk to Tulip Translator”. Yes, they went through the trouble to add this to the Google AI. I tried it. It works. This is some serious above and beyond for the sake of a joke.

Gotta admit, the amount of work some of these companies put into their pranks is impressive and I do look forward to this each year. However, I can imagine that for some folks the day is a nightmare.

Wow! You really can order anything from Amazon.

Did you know you can buy mannequins on Amazon.com? I didn’t until I read a follow up news article about the guy who is protesting a city order to lower the height of his fence. I suppose I should explain how this particular revelation came to me and why I give a shit.

So this guy by the name of Jason Windus in Santa Rosa, California built a six-foot fence around his yard so that he could let his dogs outside without them running all over hell’s half-acre, but he lives on a corner lot and his city has an ordinance that says you can’t have a fence that blocks the view of drivers at an intersection and one of his neighbors complained so he had to lower part of his fence to 36 inches. It’s probably worth mentioning that this wasn’t a chain-link fence but a wooden slat fence, hence the obstructing the view of drivers issue.

Dude’s pissed so he did what any red blooded American would do to protest government overreach and busybody neighbors: He set up a Naked Mannequin Garden Party in his yard:

Then things took a dramatic turn overnight as someone(s) in the neighborhood stole two of the naked mannequins from Windus protest scene!

Late Wednesday night, Windus heard what he thought was “some kids having fun” outside his house on Peterson Lane. Those revelers, he believes, made off with a mannequin who’d been outfitted with a blond wig, leopard print eye mask and nothing else.

The following morning, a second female mannequin was missing. In their haste to get away, the thieves apparently jostled the life-like figure, whose right leg fell off. The wayward limb spent the night on the sidewalk.

Source: The Press Democrat

What kind of America do we live in where a man can’t have a Naked Mannequin Garden Party without some of the guests being kidnapped?? (Mannequinnapped?)

So all of that led me to this article at the Sacramento Bee titled: “Man orders more naked protesters from Amazon as thieves snatch two of his mannequins.”

Windus blames the thefts on the city order to lower part of his fence to 36 inches, KGO reported. He had outfitted a mannequin with an army-style helmet to serve as a guard, but that apparently failed to deter the thieves, Windus said.

Despite the mannequins gone missing in action, Windus says he’s not giving up on his protest, The Press Democrat reports. He replaced the lost partiers with three other mannequins he had in storage, and has ordered two more from Amazon.

Source: The SACRAMENTO Bee

My first thought was “What the shit?? You can buy mannequins on Amazon?!?” Whereupon I immediately went to Amazon and searched for “mannequin” and — HOLY SHIT! — not only do they have them, BUT THEY’RE CHEAP TOO! $50 for a complete mannequin?? I may have to start my own garden party!

This is relevant to my interests because of Ralph. Ralph is my Security Mannequin. I picked him up way back when I did a stint as a part-time retail worker at a Meijer store for a second job in my early 20’s. They were going to toss him into a dumpster and I stepped in and gave him a proper home. It’s got to be at least 30 years now that he’s been a constant presence in the background of my life. When I moved into the apartment in Canton back in 1998 he sat on the half-wall that separated the stairway up from the front door from the living room area. He wears one of my old Les’s Place BBS t-shirts and one of my many hats. His job there was to stare with dead eyes down the stairs and startle folks coming up from the front door, which he did often.

*Knock Knock*

“Maintenance… GASP!!”

These days he sits on the bar in the basement wondering when someone is going to pour him a goddamn drink. Amazingly enough, in all this time, I’ve never taken a direct picture of him. I have tons of pictures where parts of him are visible in the background, but the best I can do is this heavily cropped shot from the Christmas before last:

Still wearing the same shirt that hasn’t been washed since it was put on him.

As you can see, Ralph lacks arms and, more importantly, anything below the waist. That hasn’t stopped him from loyally guarding my home from intruders by lurking in the background and being a little creepy. I would really like to have at least gotten him some arms by now, but I’ve never taken the time to actually do so. I’ve also thought about trying to find him a female companion and, thanks to Amazon, that reality is within reach! Why, I could have a whole mannequin army now!

Now that I think about it, my wife might object to that idea so I guess it’ll have to wait. The world is safe from my legions of fiberglass minions… for now. In the meantime I’ll have to take a proper picture of Ralph when I get home tonight.

I may never take advantage of Amazon’s offerings of cheap mannequins, but the fact that I could is somewhat amazing to me. When I stop to really think about it, this probably shouldn’t be so surprising to me. I’m sure this has been a possibility for a long, long time. I mean, you’ve been able to buy a 50 gallon drum of lube from Amazon for years now, so why wouldn’t you be able to buy a mannequin? (I just know that search query is going to cause no end of amusing emails from Amazon on “things you might be interested in!”) The only reason I didn’t know about it before was because it never occurred to me to search for it. All these years of loneliness for Ralph and all I had to do was check on Amazon.

Surely my house will have good fortune now.

I came home to an unexpected delivery from Amazon yesterday. I originally thought it must be something Anne had ordered because she orders stuff all the time that I have no clue about, but she pointed out later that it was addressed to me. Puzzled, I opened the box and found a solar powered Maneki-neko or Good Fortune Cat.

A lot of folks think these are of Chinese origin as you will often see them in Chinese restaurants in America, but they are actually a Japanese lucky charm. I have a couple of porcelain figures in the house already, but I’ve always wanted one with a moving arm and so I put this fellow on my Amazon wish list.

Ignore the clutter in the background. I hastily took this pic with it on the dining room table.

I’ve no idea who sent it to me. The note that came with it simply read: “Hi Les, I’ve read your blog for a long time. We seem to be on the same page on just about every issue. It’s a small token, but wanted to say thanks. You’re a good dude. From – Just some Canadian guy living in the U.S..”

No, thank you, Some Canadian Guy! I’ve wanted one of these for a very long time and being solar powered means I don’t have to replace batteries in it all the time. I’d probably still be blabbing away on here even if no one was paying attention, but it is always gratifying and humbling when I realize folks make a point of seeing what nonsense I’ve spouted recently. It’s been almost two decades and that hasn’t changed for me. Thank you for dropping in.

A short lesson on getting what you want in 6 pictures.

Our two cats, Cuddles and Jasper, are reluctant housemates. At best they tolerate each other’s company when it’s absolutely necessary. Such as in the morning when breakfast is served in side-by-side dishes or when the sun is shining through the doorwall making for excellent solar recharging opportunities or even when there is a noise outside and the front window is the only good spot to investigate it. Otherwise they don’t like to share things. Cuddles, for example, has laid claim to our king size bed. If he’s on it then Jasper will generally demur and go elsewhere.

The basement tends to be Jasper’s domain and when I’m on the computer he can often be found curled up in the kitty bed sleeping. Cuddles used to dominate my computer time back when we were in the apartment and my setup was in the second bedroom and he often looks put out when he comes downstairs and sees that Jasper has claimed the kitty bed. Every now and then, though, he gets an opportunity to hang out with me and claim the bed for his own. Jasper, being a master of logic and reason, will sometimes have to convince Cuddles that it’s Jasper’s turn to sleep in the kitty bed. Here is how he accomplishes that goal:

First, establish what it is you want.
You may find someone has already laid claim to your objective and may complain that “they were here first.”

Gently explain to them why they should shut the fuck up and get out of your spot.
“Fuck you, I’m not moving.”
Claim victory via calm reasoning and superior argument.
Relax in your newly claimed objective.

There is little need to resort to (much) violence when you have a well-reasoned argument in favor of your position. We could all learn a lesson or two from this.

Sterling Heights, MI would really like you to stop calling their new sculpture “The Golden Butthole.”

One county over from where I live here in Southeast Michigan is the city of Sterling Heights. Apparently this past January they completed a sculpture in the median of M59/Hall road near Lakeside Mall to commemorate what they call the “Golden Corridor” because it has a shit ton of businesses along it. The sculpture is of a big golden ring and below is a picture of it.

It’s your typical, innocuous, modern sculpture the likes of which dot various public lands in any number of midwestern cities. So, naturally, someone dubbed it “The Golden Butthole of Macomb County” and set up a Facebook page on its behalf. Much to the annoyance of the city council of Sterling Heights the name has stuck. So they’ve set out to do something about it!

Namely, they’re holding an official Name The Golden Corridor Icon contest on their Facebook page — because the saga of Boaty McBoatface has apparently taught no one anything — and are giving away a crap load of gift cards to local businesses to the winner.

Hey! Have you noticed anything new lately on Hall Road?

Kidding, kidding. Of course you have! And while we prefer to keep things PG around here, we have heard of the golden ring icon’s… unsavory nickname. (Do you all kiss your mom with that mouth?)

The City of Sterling Heights is launching an OFFICIAL NAMING CONTEST for the golden ring icon — and we have some pretty fun incentives for the winners! Businesses along the Golden Corridor have donated more than $1,000 in gift cards to be given away to the winner of the contest! Be a part of history and help us name the golden ring icon. Because, like it or not, this thing ain’t going anywhere, people.

So far it’s not going too well. The majority of comments consist either of people saying it already has a name or that it’s a WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY AND YOU SUCK! Or it’s a lot of variations on Golden Butthole such as Gilded Anus and The Golden Cornhole Corridor. One guy by the name of Scott commented “Petition to move the Joe Louis fist to the Golden Butthole”, but someone over on The Golden Butthole of Macomb County Facebook page was way ahead of him with this Photoshop:

Photoshop image by Jeffrey Birkett.

Wonder what it would be like to fly through a Golden Butthole? Dougie Mac has you covered:

The total cost of the sculpture, along with two smaller welcome signs that have small versions of the sculpture, and electrical work for lighting came out to around $442,500. Sterling Heights is the fourth largest city in Michigan so it’s probably not a huge knock to their budget even if some residents think the money would’ve been better spent elsewhere.

To be fair, butthole is not the first thing that came to my mind when I saw it and there are certainly worse pieces of public art to be found in various cities. Canton, which is right next door to where I live in Westland, has tons of sculptures on corners along Ford road all of which I think are probably worth more as scrap metal than as suburban beautification, but I’m not an art critic either. The Mayor of Sterling Heights, Michael Taylor, is hopeful that this rebranding will help draw attention and boost businesses and attract new residents.

At least he’s right about it drawing attention.

French people try to say difficult English words.

I have become quite the fan of YouTube videos over the past couple of years. At this very moment I am subscribed to over 302 different channels and, ever since we cut the cord, flipping through YouTube videos after dinner has replaced flipping through channels on Cable TV. There’s a lot of good content out there and when watched through the YouTube app on our Roku the commercials are few and infrequent. One of my favorites is The Try Channel where Irish folks try foods and drinks from other parts of the world. As a result, YouTube sometimes recommends other similar videos.

Like this one where French folks attempt to say difficult English words:

To be fair, I often have a hard time with that last word. Thankfully, I don’t have occasion to use it very often. This goes all the way back to 2017 because sometimes YouTube takes awhile to get around to recommending some things.

I’ve had dreams kind of like this.

This commercial for IKEA beds is pretty impressive:

What’s even more impressive is the work that went to making it possible.

The “Beds” protagonist, Max the dog and many of the beds were hung from cranes and suspended over buildings during the 3-day shoot in Johannesburg.

The VFX team at MPC (Moving Picture Company) collaborated with film director Juan Cabral and advertising agency Mother London to create a detailed matte paintings, adding CG beds and embellishments and compositing elements including the NASA rocket and plume.

Led by 2D Creative Director Bill McNamara, MPC’s 15-strong team utilized the innovative filming techniques – which captured a great deal of the action in-camera – to then create the VFX and embellish the shots. In order to build the bed staircase, Ikea beds were filmed against green screen on the ground.

Ikea Beds in the Sky – The Inspiration Room

Apparently this was filmed and released all the way back in 2014, but this is the first time I’ve come across it. Still, very cool so I thought I’d share it.