chugg•nutt (chug’nut), n. 1. part of the name “The Rotten Chuggnutts,” a public access television show that aired in Spokane, Washington during the mid-1990s. 2. term for a person involved with the television show. 3. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) handle and username for a variety of message boards and web services. 4. something unmentionable. 5. the online identity and brand, for better or for worse, of the author of this web site.

March 22, 2007

Where there's smoke, there's fire

Last night, as I reported on my Hack Bend blog, the house across the street caught fire. It wasn't terribly serious, as these things go: some hot embers from the chimney landed on the wood shake roof and sparked into flames. But the fire department came out in full force; there were four engines, the fire chief's (or whomever's) SUV, an ambulance, and police closing off the street.

The weird thing is, we didn't hear any of the emergency vehicles arrive, but other people in the neighborhood told us they heard them coming. Instead, around 6:20 I started noticing a rumbling noise coming from outside, but we were eating dinner and I didn't think much of it—nothing that couldn't be checked until we were done, anyway. It was my wife who took something out to the garage that heard the noise, too, and went to the window to see what it was.

Imagine our surprise!

So we ran outside and rubbernecked along with the rest of the neighborhood. Smoke was still rising from the roof next to the chimney while we were there; our neighbor next door told us she had seen the flames when she came out. They were still hosing the roof down, but got the smoke under control pretty quickly. After that, they tore out the chimney and the part of the roof that was (presumably) still hot and/or smoldering.

Nobody was hurt. According to the KTVZ article, the fire did $25,000 worth of damage, with minor smoke damage inside the home.

Here's some of the pictures I took (when I finally had the presence of mind to run back in the house for the camera):

Fire trucks on the scene

Fire hydrant pumping water

Fire fighters clearing the roof after a house fire

Fire fighters clearing the roof after a house fire

Fire fighters clearing the roof after a house fire

Apologies for the mediocre quality of these pictures... it was dusk and the low-light conditions along with the zoom was enough to get the point, but some came out shaky. And actually, when it was starting to get really dark, they brought one of the engines over with a set of bright spotlights to illuminate the scene:

Fire truck at dusk lighting up the scene

You can see the light pole sprouting up from the top of the truck. And here's a shot of the lighted-up scene at full dark:

Fire truck lighting up the scene at night

I actually think this last picture is kind of cool. Unfortunate set of circumstances, but you know what I mean.

Posted by jon at 1:21 PM : Comments (1)


March 19, 2007

Spring break: San Diego

Next week is spring break around here, and this year we decided to pack up and head down to San Diego for the week, to visit my brother and his wife.

We're driving down, spreading it out over two days each way. It's roughly 1000 miles from Bend to San Diego, so that's a lot of driving. But hey, that's the Jack Kerouac experience, right? Sort of. Though I'm pretty sure Kerouac didn't have a family along with him.

It's been awhile since I've taken this much time off from work. I wonder if I'll be able to go back.

Posted by jon at 11:40 PM : Comments (0)


February 25, 2007

Comic book rant II

Okay, it's been a good long while since I unleashed a comic book rant here and got my geek on. If you don't read comic books, or don't care, or whatever, you can safely pass this by. Otherwise, expect this to go long, and you may even be a little embarrassed for me. :)

Full-on rant after the jump...

Posted by jon at 11:53 PM : Comments (1)


February 23, 2007

Psycho!

The other day Dave posted a story riddle with a creepy punchline: the people who answer it "correctly"—i.e. a certain way—think like psychopaths. (Sorry to spoil the surprise.) It's meant to illustrate a particular way of thinking that pyschopaths exhibit: that of other people—even family—as impersonal tools to be used for their own benefit.

(Fortunately, I didn't answer the riddle "correctly.")

Of course, I make random connections, as I am wont to do, and I remembered this older post on Boing Boing about psychopathy:

Are psychopaths genetically adapted to survive by exploiting the rest of us?

[CBC's Quirks and Quarks] talks to research psychologists about the biological basis for psychopathy — and the fact that psychopaths are sexually profligate and have lots of kids. Psychopathic rapists target fertile women — not children or old women.

Dr. Marnie Rice is a psychologist with the Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene, in Penetanguishene, Ontario. She studies criminal psychopaths who are incarcerated there. She views psychopathic behaviour as an evolved survival strategy. She says that there’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that psychopaths are mentally ill but there’s good reason to believe that their disturbing behaviour is an evolved trait. She says psychopaths have evolved to capitalize in a particular environmental niche — namely preying on the rest of society.

Yeah, it's kind of an odd thing to be ruminating about. But it's a weirdly compelling idea to imagine that psychopathy is a possible result of natural selection. It makes a certain sense. I wonder what the "particular environmental niche" is referring to—large cities? Seems to me (from a purely layman's perspective) that's where this particular trait would take hold and be successful in an evolutionary context.

For reference, here's Wikipedia's article on psychopathy.

Anyway, cheery thoughts to take you into the weekend.

Posted by jon at 11:49 PM : Comments (2)


February 13, 2007

On a podcast...

So my friend Brian of BuzzTouch Designs has a regular podcast, each show lasting a few minutes (not super long, like some) and touching on local happenings—and on yesterday's "episode" I was the guest star. Or interviewee. Or something. Basically, Brian called me up and we did an interview (I was in my "Brew Site" persona) on the topic of beer label art.

I had fun doing it, and actually thought it turned out okay. (Not a slam on Brian—I just wasn't sure how I'd sound myself!) You can listen to the show here.

Posted by jon at 4:48 PM : Comments (0)


February 11, 2007

Books, books, books

So far this 2007 I've been consuming bunches of books. Kind of continuing my trend from last year, though based what I've gone through in these first six weeks of the year, my year-end list might be much larger.

  • Lisey's Story, by Stephen King. His latest, pretty good but not the best he's ever written. I had a pretty good hunch where the plot was going and I was mostly right. What makes it interesting is all the backstory which is where all the real stuff is happening.
  • Manifold: Origin, by Stephen Baxter. Rounding out the Manifold series he wrote (the first two of which I read in the last months of 2006). Interesting concepts, all of them (he wrote them as possible solutions/scenarios to the Fermi paradox), but one thing Baxter generally isn't good at is characterization. And Origin, plot-wise, is the weakest of the bunch; a lot of stuff happens that has nothing to do with the final reveal, or the overall point of the story.
  • High Desert of Central Oregon and Bend in Central Oregon, both by Raymond Hatton, which I reviewed respectively on Hack Bend here and here.
  • The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. Sure to be controversial. Oddly enough, it's the first Dawkins book I've read, even though he's been publishing since the '70s. He's been called "Darwin's rottweiler," and that's pretty much in full force here.
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive, by William Gibson. Pretty good read—it's Gibson, after all—but I think my least favorite of his three "Sprawl" novels. Neuromancer set a pretty high bar.
  • I've been going through all the trade paperbacks of the Fables comic series (available at the library, which is very cool). This is a really brilliant series. The premise: All those fairy tales and fables of lore are real, but they've all been driven out of their worlds by a mysterious Adversary, and live in New York City in their own private and secret community named Fabletown. King Cole is the mayor, Snow White the deputy mayor, like that. For mature readers. I'm through the first seven trades, at least three were this year.
  • The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson. Pretty good, about the cholera outbreak in Victorian London in 1854 and how that changed science and cities.
  • I'm also finishing up Bend, Overall by Scott Cook, though that's quite a bit shorter than most of the others. It's a guidebook read.

Next book will be fiction again. I haven't decided on one definitively yet; it's between Idoru (William Gibson), Wolves of the Calla or Cell (Stephen King), Singularity Sky (Charles Stross), and A Deepness in the Sky (Vernor Vinge). Or, perhaps I'll read several concurrently...

Posted by jon at 10:31 PM : Comments (1)


February 10, 2007

Transformers. Live action movie. OMG.

Okay, I was a little slow on the uptake for this one: Transformers: The Movie. Live action. For real. Opening July 4th of this year.

I remember hearing the rumor about this way back when, thought, "Hey, that would be cool," without thinking it would actually happen—you know, the usual Hollywood stuff, rumors are always flying. Then, suddenly, I recently spot the trailer online and nearly fall out of my chair.

Yes, I'm fully aware I'm out-geeking even myself here, but back in the day Transformers were the toys to have and it was the cartoon on TV to watch. I even made paper Transformers, for crying out loud.

Not surprisingly, Wikipedia has a comprehensive page on the Transformers movie. I only have one complaint: Bumblebee will no longer be a Volkswagon Bug—instead, he's a 1974 Chevrolet Camaro. WTF?? That just ain't right.

Posted by jon at 9:25 AM : Comments (1)


February 9, 2007

Growing Up in Central Oregon: Livestock

This is part of an ongoing series of articles that I'm writing on Central Oregon and growing up here; you can view the introduction here and the series as a whole here.

Living relatively self-sufficiently on five acres, we always had some livestock. For all intents and purposes, we had a farm, but it was more of a small family farm than the big operations I usually think of when I hear the term (with cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, etc.).

At any given time our livestock generally consisted of one milk cow and a coop full of chickens. Along the way we tried out different animals, but this was the general combination that held.

Read on...

Posted by jon at 11:45 PM : Comments (4)


February 1, 2007

wikinovel

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later, but I don't quite get how this is going to work: Publisher launches its first "wiki" novel. It's:

...a Web-based, collaborative novel that can be written, edited or read by anyone, anywhere thanks to "wiki" software, the technology behind Web encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

The novel, "A Million Penguins," went live on Thursday and its first lines are already being written, edited and rewritten by enthusiasts on www.amillionpenguins.com.

Penguin, which embarked on the project with a group of creative writing and new media students, says it is using the novel as a test of whether a group of disparate and diverse people can create a "believable fictional voice."

So, are they planning on "locking down" chapters as they're finished? Because there's really nothing stopping anybody from going in and changing, well, everything at any point, if it truly is open like Wikipedia. Suddenly chapter three makes no sense because chapters one and two are now telling a different story.

Cool and interesting experiment, though. I might have to play around with it.

Posted by jon at 11:47 PM : Comments (0)


January 30, 2007

Making lunch (a vignette)

Making lunches for the next day: my daughter's, then my own. My daughter's is simple: peanut butter and honey, carrot sticks, CapriSun, GoGurt, cheddar cheese sandwich crackers. Oh yeah, throw some candy for dessert in, too. Pack it all up in the Barbie cooler.

Start on mine. Bologna and cheese on wheat, very original. Retrieve from the fridge: mayonnaise, dijon mustard, bread. Pause, then queue up some Journey on the computer. The kitchen is apparently in need of rock ballads tonight.

Highway run
Into the midnight sun
Wheels go 'round and 'round
You're on my mind

Sandwich comes together. Set it aside, back to the fridge. Carrots, celery... celery is droopy, good thing it's the last of it.

Any way you want it
That's the way you need it
Any way you want it

Oddly appropriate music to chop veggies to. Careful of the fingers, the carrot is rolling a bit. Now, cottage cheese or yogurt?

Streetlights, people
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night

Cottage cheese. It's the big container, Costco-sized but not from Costco. Scoop some into the tupperware-that-isn't-tupperware plastic bowl, snap a lid on it. Pack it all up into my lunch cooler (soft-walled), then grab an orange while Steve Perry tells me to Don't stop believin'.

Lunch is ready.

Posted by jon at 11:10 PM : Comments (2)


January 22, 2007

Truth(?) in advertising

So there's this article that appeared in the New York Times about Activia, Dannon's yogurt that is filled with "live cultures" that are healthy and good for you. And they're marketing it like it's something new and revolutionary.

Ummmm, okay...

Except every bit of yogurt I've ever bought—regardless of brand—has been full of live cultures that are healthy and good for you. That's what yogurt is. Seriously, go buy a generic brand of yogurt—it says this on the container. Are people not aware of this?

Yeah, I know there's a lot of misinformation out there, but for some reason this one just rubbed me the wrong way.

Posted by jon at 11:49 PM : Comments (3)


January 18, 2007

Oregon Lottery Space Invaders!

Oregon Lottery Space Invaders Scrach-ItI find it rather surreal that the Oregon Lottery is now offering Space Invaders lottery tickets. Seriously. It's part of their "Travel back" line of Scratch-Its. They look rather complicated though, and cost $3 a pop.

Now they need to come out with other classic arcade games: Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Asteroids...

Posted by jon at 11:45 PM : Comments (3)


January 17, 2007

Links

Just a collection of links to things I like and/or found amusing recently.

Posted by jon at 11:44 PM : Comments (1)


January 10, 2007

2007 Chuggnutt Zeitgeist

Yes, it's that introspective time again. Since I've done these for the last two years already, I thought it would be interesting to put it all together in a table format to compare years.

  2006 2005 2004
Number of blog entries: 155 244 306
Total words written (approximate): 29,894 39,810 45,537
Average words per entry: 192.9 163.2 148.8
Total visitors (including all the junk): 1,041,504 633,100 242,433
Average visitors per day: 2,853 1,734 687
Total real visitors (approximate): 681,069 430,505 n/a
Average real visitors per day: 1,865 1,179 n/a
Most active month:  October, then May October n/a
Ten most popular blog entries:
  1. The Skittles beard commercial: 8,253
  2. Bill Gates' house: 2,985
  3. Smoke alarm batteries: 2,922
  4. Jack Bauer Facts: 2,245
  5. Cooking salmon: 2,186
  6. The Lost Ultimate Theory: 2,016
  7. Chuck Norris facts: 1,935
  8. The name game: 1,778
  9. The Dirty Screech: 1,705
  10. Life is what happens when you're making other plans: 1,390
  1. The Burger King creeps me out: 28,910
  2. Houston's glass public toilet: 9,610
  3. My Burger King mask post is on fire!: 9,511
  4. Goofy Burger King job flyer: 5,234
  5. The Donald Trump/Bend urban legend: 4,879
  6. Leonard Nimoy's Bilbo Baggins: 4,862
  7. Super Wal-Mart: 4,619
  8. Central Oregon's biggest baby?: 3,821
  9. Leeroy Jenkins!: 3,781
  10. Never ending fall: 3,017
 
Total non-spam comments: 599 1,556  
Ten most popular searches landing here:
  1. boba fett: 2,851
  2. darth maul: 2,243
  3. burger king mask: 2,158
  4. skittles beard commercial: 1,395
  5. free palm ebooks: 1,389
  6. matrix name generator: 1,045
  7. pdb reader: 993
  8. jedi: 890
  9. never ending fall: 865
  10. biggest baby: 851
  1. burger king mask: 5,295
  2. boba fett: 3,086
  3. pdb reader: 1,972
  4. free palm ebooks: 1,805
  5. darth maul: 1,534
  6. kermit the frog: 1,376
  7. leeroy jenkins: 1,221
  8. www.amazon.com /burgerking: 1,210
  9. super walmart: 973
  10. palm reader: 877
n/a
Top five search engines:
  1. Google: 66,133
  2. Yahoo: 19,000
  3. MSN: 4,526
  4. AskJeeves: 1,871
  5. Altavista: 510
  1. Google: 72,180
  2. Yahoo: 20,629
  3. MSN: 4,042
  4. AskJeeves: 1,259
  5. AOL Search: 1,061
n/a
Approximate breakdown of browsers and traffic:
  • Internet Explorer: 61.83%
  • Firefox/Mozilla: 25.06%
  • Opera: 0.76%
  • RSS stuff: 5.21%
  • Other: 7.13%
  • Internet Explorer: 61%
  • Firefox/Mozilla: 23%
  • Opera: 1%
  • RSS stuff: 2%
  • Bots/search engine crawlers: 8.2%
  • Other: 4.8%
n/a
Total number of bot hits: 418,028 n/a n/a

Posted by jon at 11:49 PM : Comments (1)


January 7, 2007

Words written in 2006

I'm adding up the numbers from my three blogs, and it turns out that between them I wrote approximately 101,192 words among 511 blog entries for 2006. Wow... the previous year the numbers were 78,181 and 466. Another way to look at it: that's roughly the equivalent of a novel a year.

Posted by jon at 2:02 PM : Comments (5)