Do we have a State Parasite too?

Being a native Texan, I remember learning in elementary school about the state flag, motto and song. It didn’t seem too strange at the time, considering all the other states had ’em too… no biggie.

But when we got into learning about the state bird, tree and flower, I (even at my young age) failed to see why I needed to be tested and graded over the material. I mean, this type of info is a cultural footnote at best. It really has no practical application. When has knowing any of this come into play for anyone outside of making an appearance on Jeopardy? I figure if someone really has an interest in what flying mammal the state has collectively and officially chosen to represent it (Mexican free-tailed bat – not kidding) they would be naturally inclined to research it on their own in the first place.

What is an “official” designation anyway? So, if any other type of bat is seen in Texas, said observation is not recognized by the state government? What if another state has chosen the same “official flying mammal”? Would that be grounds for inter-state economic sanctions? or WAR?!? But I digress…

What brought all this up again is the fact that I was perusing a website about the State of Texas, looking for some info and ran across a list of “Official Designations of Texas” I will not reprint the entire list. I’ll just give you the high-lights that will get stranger and/or more ridiculous as it goes on… ALL OF THESE ARE REAL.

STATE MAMMALS (three):

small – Armadillo

large – Texas Longhorn

flying – Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

(Evidently a mere single mammal does not adequately define or tell the story of Texas. We need 3. I believe they called a special session of the legislature to discuss possible candidates for yet another: The official state dead mammal, but abandoned it when they realized it would be the same as our state small mammal, and 1 mammal carrying 2 official designations would be too much to wrap our meager little brains around. And as far as having an official “flying mammal”… can you think of another mammal that can fly outside of a bat? I sure as hell can’t think of one. So the designation should be “State Bat” shouldn’t it? Nah, that would just be stupid, huh?)

STATE REPTILE: Texas Horned Lizard (also called the “horny toad”)

(Ok, that’s actually kinda cool)

STATE PLANT: Prickly Pear Cactus

(That’s not too weird, I guess.)

STATE SHRUB: Crepe Myrtle

(Ok, as far as the State is concerned, there IS a distinct difference between PLANT and SHRUB)

STATE NATIVE SHRUB: Texas Purple Sage

(Is this implying that the afore mentioned “Crepe Myrtle” is NOT NATIVE to Texas? Then where do we get off choosing the Crepe Myrtle in the first place?)

STATE FABRIC: Cotton

(They’re trying to squeeze in yet another plant under the guise of a material here… shameless. Not to mention the “State Grass” or the “State Flower”, which we have as well, incidentally.)

STATE DISH: Chili con carne

(I just don’t get why we need an official food!… Is it just me?!)

STATE SNACK: Chips and Salsa

(A “State dish” is really pushing it. A “state snack” is beyond ridiculous. What is it without the Salsa?..Nothing. It’s a mere condiment away from having crackers as the state snack!

STATE SHIP: Battle Ship Texas (USS BB-35)

(Man, I bet the debate raged for weeks before they settled on the one battleship actually named “Texas”… duh)

STATE SHELL: Lightning Whelk

(Um, ok… we have a state shell, They should’ve made it the “Lawrence Whelk” though. My grandmother would’ve loved that.)

STATE GEMSTONE CUT: – The Lone Star Cut

(Ok, this is not a state gemstone. It’s a gemstone CUT. The SHAPE of a gemstone. Huh?, Isn’t that like having a STATE SHOE SIZE?)

STATE STONE: Petrified Palm Wood

(Does petrified WOOD actually count as stone? Sounds a little stupid.)

STATE TARTAN: Texas Bluebonnet Tartan

(Yes folks, it is THAT type of Tartan. The woven pattern that historically identified clans of the highlands in Scotland and the like. Texas decided we needed one as well. Ya know… just in case.)

STATE DANCE: Square Dance

(Ok, I admit this is not all that unusual, but wouldn’t it be hilarious if we could start a voter referendum to have it changed to something absolutely friggin’ goofy, like “The Robot” or something?)

STATE DINOSAUR: the Brachiosaur, Sauropod, Pleurocoelus

(We actually have a state dinosaur. THEY DON’T EXIST ANYMORE!!!! How does something even begin to represent Texas when the last one died millions of years or so before Texas (or even humanity for that matter) arrived?! Am I missing something here?)

AND LAST BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST…. (and I am a not kidding here)

STATE MOLECULE: Fullerene, or a Carbon allotrope more commonly reffered to as a “buckyball”

(WE HAVE A STATE MOLECULE!!!. YEAH!, FUCK YOU, EVERY OTHER STATE!!)

Personally, I’m waiting for the STATE FUNGUS, STATE CLEANING APPLIANCE or the STATE DISEASE.

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Pastafarians Unite!

I know that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not new (although it is still great) I did stumble upon the core tenents of the religion called: “The 8 I’d really rather you didn’ts”: (enjoy… and PAY ATTENTION!)

 

1 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Act Like a Sanctimonious Holier-Than-Thou Ass When Describing My Noodly Goodness. If Some People Don’t Believe In Me, That’s Okay. Really, I’m Not That Vain. Besides, This Isn’t About Them So Don’t Change The Subject. 

2 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Use My Existence As A Means To Oppress, Subjugate, Punish, Eviscerate, And/Or, You Know, Be Mean To Others. I Don’t Require Sacrifices And Purity Is For Drinking Water, Not People. 

3 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Judge People For The Way They Look, Or How They Dress, Or The Way They Talk, Or, Well, Just Play Nice, Okay? Oh, And Get This In Your Thick Heads: Woman = Person. Man = Person. Samey – Samey. One Is Not Better Than The Other, Unless We’re Talking About Fashion And I’m Sorry, But I Gave That To Women And Some Guys Who Know The Difference Between Teal and Fuchsia. 

4 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Indulge In Conduct That Offends Yourself, Or Your Willing, Consenting Partner Of Legal Age AND Mental Maturity. As For Anyone Who Might Object, I Think The Expression Is Go F*** Yourself, Unless They Find That Offensive In Which Case They Can Turn Off the TV For Once And Go For A Walk For A Change. 

5 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Challenge The Bigoted, Misogynist, Hateful Ideas Of Others On An Empty Stomach. Eat, Then Go After The B****** 

6 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Build Multimillion-Dollar Churches/Temples/Mosques/Shrines To My Noodly Goodness When The Money Could Be Better Spent (Take Your Pick): 

a. Ending Poverty 

b. Curing Diseases 

c. Living In Peace, Loving With Passion, And Lowering The Cost Of Cable 

I Might be a Complex-Carbohydrate Omniscient Being, But I Enjoy The Simple Things In Life. I Ought To Know. I AM the Creator. 

7 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Go Around Telling People I Talk To You. You’re Not That Interesting. Get Over Yourself. And I Told You To Love Your Fellow Man, Can’t You Take A Hint? 

8 I’d Really Rather You Didn’t Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You If You Are Into, Um, Stuff That Uses A Lot of Leather/Lubricant/Las Vegas. If the Other Person Is Into It, However (Pursuant To ..4), Then Have At It, Take Pictures, And For The Love Of Mike, Wear a CONDOM! Honestly, It’s A Piece of Rubber. If I Didn’t Want It To Feel Good When You Did It I Would Have Added Spikes, Or Something. 

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Read more about Him at: http://www.venganza.org/

Playsets from the Bizarro World

I was wondering around Toys R Us looking for gift ideas for my kids and came across the playsets by Playmobil. Most of them are completely normal or understandable, like pirates, knights, cops or things of that nature. Then I saw this one. It’s called the “Comfortable Living Room Set” and it features a guy pouring a glass of wine in his bachelor pad living room. Is he single?… expecting company later?… who’s coming over? Now check out his decor… Now check what he’s wearing! Awesome! (Are those tinted glasses? Now it’s getting creepy)ImageThen I saw this one. It’s called “Royal Banquet Playset”. Which is perfect if your 4 year old child wants to stage a decadent meal for French aristocracy circa 1770. I can already hear toddlers across the country exclaiming: “LET THEM EAT CAKE! FOR WE ARE THE 1%!” (And YES – It comes with a cake! (I can see it on the dessert trolley) Now, If Playmobil makes a “Guillotine playset” we’d be in bidniz.

ImageThen I became curious as to what else they offer in terms of playsets, so I go online to look, when I discover this ABSOLUTE FREAKING GEM of a set. You get to harass a homeless man as a member of the Kaiser’s secret police force… I WILL HAVE THIS!

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School is still mandatory, right?

This is a quote straight from my grandfather’s mouth but, “what is it with kids today?” Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy meeting people of all ages, but nothing like meeting a very young person makes me sigh with disbelief quite like anything else. And when I say young, I’m talking about young adults. (Let’s give actual kids a pass on this) And, of course, it’s not ALL young pups, but a helluva lot of ’em these days.

I don’t consider myself old. I’m just over 40, but I still find myself, on occasion, in the same places as young-uns. Consequently, you end up meeting and ultimately TALKING with them. It can be quite the experience. At first I wrote it off to me being a decade older, growing up in a different time, having nothing in common, or whatever. But the more I talk with some of them, the less forgiving I find myself. I’ll give you some examples:

(Speaking with a girl in her early 20’s about recent historic events)

Me: “Yeah, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the The USSR collapsed.”

Girl: “What’s the USSR?”

Me: “You’re kidding…It was a Russian confederation, basically”

Girl: “Russia collapsed?! When did that happen?

Me: “It didn’t exactly…nevermind. It happened in 1991”

Girl: “Oh, well I was only 6 then”

Me: “Granted, and I was only 6 when the Vietnam war ended, but I still know it happened..”

 

(Speaking with an equally young man about his desire to travel)

Him: “Have you done much traveling?”

Me: ” I’ve been out of the country on a few occasions.”

Him: “Man, I’d like to go to Brazil, but it might be tough to get around.”

Me: “Why is that?”

Him: “I don’t speak Brazilian.”

Me: “They don’t either.”

Him: “Oh man, that’s right, they speak Spanish! …duh!”

Me: “Actually, they speak Portuguese.”

Him: “Really? You mean like in Portugal?”

Me: “Exactly.”

(I can forgive Spanish as an answer, but I mean seriously… Brazilian?!)

On another occasion I had the pleasure of speaking with a young girl about the nature of the earth. She got this perplexed look when I stated that that it’s humbling to consider that the Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. Her ACTUAL response: “How can the earth be that old when this is only the year 2010?” She then raised an eyebrow as if to say: “Aha, gotcha!” For a split second I actually thought about trying to explain what the Julian/Gregorian Calendar is, but took another look at that raised eyebrow and decided it was a losing battle.

I’ve also had a conversation (no shit) with some guy where I had to say: “I think you’re thinking of something else… When I say ‘McCarthyism’, I’m not referring to anything clever that Jenny McCarthy may have said.”

I mean, school is still mandatory in this country right? Top sociologists of the day maintain that the 26 year old of today is roughly equivalent to the 21 year old of decades past. Which means that 20 to 25 year olds are basically teenagers that can legally drink…scary fuckin’ thought. The accessibility of information is damn near absolute no matter where we are. After all, its the information age, right? Seems like we should be progressing in social / educational development instead of slipping backwards. But, I guess it’s not entirely bad, as I do get a chuckle out of it. And, of course, amusing myself is one of my top priorities.

Stuffed Crab… “Shanghai Style”

I went to eat Chinese food at a place in Houston that is normally pretty good. It seems they had a new item on the menu… Stuffed Crab. Awesome. I love stuffed crab, so I ordered it. It turns out that Chinese stuffed crab (at least at this restaurant) is nothing more than ground beef served in a crab shell. GROUND BEEF! Apparently they were unclear about what people are expecting when they order stuffed crab.

I asked why the stuffed crab contained no actual crab. I received a puzzled look that seemed to say: “You got exactly what you ordered.” I when on to explain that what I ordered was stuffed crab; what I received was some ground beef served in crab shells and that there is a difference between the two.They still didn’t understand. The waiter continued to point at my plate while bobbing his head saying “stuffed crab.”

I went on to explain that by his logic, they could have served me crab shells stuffed with jelly beans, whipped cream or dog shit and that would still technically be stuffed crab. They did take it back and bring me something else, but I find it curious that my waiters English seemed to improve considerably when he was dealing with patrons that were not complaining.

So, I thought that before I went I would point out that the “fortune cookies” did not actually contain fortunes. What I received in my cookie was a platitude: “The silent man easily maintains his dignity.” A fortune is a prediction of something that has yet to happen, like “You will meet a tall dark stranger”. That’s the kind of thing I’m looking for in a cookie, not advise or cliches. But I didn’t actually mention it since I thought that that would be going out of my way to be an asshole. So, then I thought about it… and did it anyway.

Creepiest Church in the World…

By the mid-1800s, the crypt at the Sedlec monastery had been a popular burial site for centuries, with plague outbreaks and Hussite Wars contributing thousands of remains. In the 1870s a local woodcarver was hired to make creative use of the bones that had been piling up in the crypt. This was no minor task: the ossuary contains the remains of over 40,000 people, many of which were used to decorate the chapel. The effect is as beautiful as it is macabre: elaborate light fixtures, arrays of bells, furnishings, splashy wall treatments and coats of arms are all loving recreated from skulls and bones of all sizes. Is that chandelier staring back at you?

To reach the monastery, drag your bones 800m south from Kutná Hora’s main train station. More gory details at http://www.kostnice.cz.

Words of Wisdom

I know that people have blogging like crazy about the death of Steve Jobs, but I wanted to acknowledge his passing anyway considering my incredibly high opinion of his life and legacy… so I’ll just leave you with a quote of his:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

 

Words of Wisdom for sure.

 

Rest in Peace, Mr. Jobs