Friday, September 30, 2011

Your KUNG FU Is *MOST* Powerful !!!

One day, about 20 years ago, my mom and I were in her Den. She'd let me come over and watch Kung Fu theater on her big TV.  After a particularly rousing battle, I turned it off.

She asked me for the newspaper TV guide so she could do the crossword. I rolled it up, and tossed it six feet across the room right into her waiting hand! She caught it perfectly!

The paper had fluttered and flapped on the way, like a kung fu Masters robes when he flies through the air, so I said in my best imitation deep deep kung fu movie voice "Your Kung Fu! It is Most Powerful!!!"

She looked at me over the top of her eyeglasses, and with a poker face let out the deepest kung fu movie Master laugh slowly "Huh! Huh! Huh! Huh!", then went on to read her paper.  She was in her sixties.

I fell on the floor!!!! She can't stand the chop chop movies, and to think she absorbed enough of them to do that perfect comeback. I'll always treasure that moment.

Copyright 2011 VROUK


Here is another True Story told to me by my friend Charlie Nixon, a submariner I worked with at Wang Labs.  You can find a number of similar stories on the Internet if this whets your appetite for humor on submarines.

When sailors on a sub need to use the toilet, flushing is a little different than us land lubbers.  Their poop and ick has to be kept in a tank called a "sanitary", and there are several on the sub.  Since they don't use much water to flush, they have one handle that releases small amount of sea water to flush the poo down the toilet.  Now to be able to force the poop and ick out into the ocean depths, they must put the sanitary tank under high high air pressure or it can't overcome the pressure of the water down deep.  If they pump it up real high pressure, they can shoot it out into the deep water.

Obviously, there must be strong ball valves at the urinals and toilets to withstand this powerful air pressurization process.  So the second handle on each crapper is the ball valve. During normal operations, you do your thing then open the ball valve, open the water valve, then shut them both tight.

From time to time when the tanks are getting full, personnel declare they are going to Blow the Sanitary Tank #4 for instance, or all tanks.  To warn the users NOT to open any ball valve while the tank is pressurized and blown out to sea, they go around and hang signs on all bathrooms and crappers etc. saying BLOWING SANITARIES.  If you have an emergency you can still poo in the toilet, just DON'T PULL THE BALL VALVE! until after the tanks are cleaned and depressurized.  This is announced, and there is even a smell of bad farts permeates the ship while the tank is pressurized, so everyone knows.

But every cruise, there is at least ONE dufus who has to go, ignores the signs, zones out, whatever, and they use the toilet and not-thinking they automatically pull down the big lever to open the ball valve.  WHOOOOOOSHHHH!  The sound is unmistakable throughout the sub, a giant pressure whooshing booming splatting sound.

The person who pulled the lever usually has the presence of mind to shut the valve back quickly, but once Charlie heard a SECOND WHOOSH WHUMP sound after the first.  He ran to see what newbie idiot did this, and the poor guy came out of the head with toilet paper draped around his ears, hair plastered straight back with chunks of poop and liquid shoot, eyes to white holes in a brown poop covered face, between his teeth, dripping off every part of him, and it was all over ceiling, walls, every crevice, and this guy was going to have to clean it all up plus be tortured the rest of the cruise.

Apparently, he'd been in such shock the first time he pulled the handle, he could not process what had just happened to him, and he pulled it a second time to be sure.  :-)  This is hilarious of course to everyone else, except they have to deal with the smell etc. for a very long time.  So, if you are ever on a submarine, and you see the sign Blowing Sanitaries, do NOT pull the ball valve handle to flush!  He even had corn stuck in his teeth.  The pressure is very strong.

Copyright 2011 VROUK


Does anyone else remember the old FINA Gasoline commercial introducing their new gas additive called PHLASH?The jingle is the kind that sticks in your mind forever.  It went like this,
"Gas-O-Liiiiiiine isn't the same an---y----mooooore, cuz now there's FIIIINA and FIIIIINA's got..... PHLASH!!!!
PHLASH, puts the fun back in driving,
PHLAS,H puts the fun back in driving,
Gas-ooo-liiiiine Isn't the same anymore, cuz now theres FINA and FINA's got..PHLASH!!!
Meanwhile a gorgeous girl in a bikini was driving around with PHLASH!
I'd sure like a recording of it.


Prizes like this used to come in Crackerjacks

Why the hell did Crackerjacks stop coming with a real toy?  I WANT TO KNOW!  I've put up with alot of cheap ass shit from companies in my life, cutting corners to increase their profits, but it was a low blow when Cracker Jack went from putting real toys inside, things you snapped together out of plastic, peanut whistles, little comic books, rings, all sorts of stuff, then you were lucky if you got a stupid tattoo!  This happened in the SIXTIES, at the height of their popularity.  WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?!  I want a Congressional Inquiry into this.  Put that little sailor on the stand, and his dog too!

Coca Cola switched from real sugar to high fructose corn syrup - using the Classic to New Coke to cover up the fact. They made New Coke taste even more horrible, so that when you went back to Classic they left in the corn syrup and you didn't reject it.  Rope a Dope.  Now, urban legend has it, the only way to get Coke with real sugar is to watch for batches with yellow bottle caps, these are supposedly extra Kosher with real sugar.  ??  Corn syrup sodas taste like swill.  Just buy some small batch manufacturer sodas like Stewart's etc. that still use real sugar and taste.

KETCHUP.  Until a few months ago, all ketchup in our grocery stores had switched to using corn syrup instead of sugar years ago.  Recently Hunts introduced ketchup with sugar back onto the market, no corn syrup.  I hated corn syrup ketchup, so I jumped on this return to sugar and it tastes exactly like ketchup used to!  AWESOME!  I tried to call their consumer hot line, but they had no method to pass on compliments on their products, could not handle one. ?

COOKIES. I'm sure you have noticed over time that everything in the cookie and candy aisle that used to have sugar has been switched over to corn syrup, AND hydrogenation, where they pump the oils full of hydrogen gas to keep them from spoiling as fast.  Twinkies with corn syrup do NOT taste like Twinkies with real sugar.  Candy bar chocolate coatings, fig newton cookie shell, the filling in a chocolate fruit pie, none of it tastes the same anymore.  It's all crap!

RESTAURANT CHAINS that Start Out with DELICIOUS FOOD both in recipe and serving size, then they CHEAP OUT on the ingredients and cut the sizes after you become hooked.  You've seen this over and over haven't you?  You get used to a place, rave about it to all your friends, and just then they cheap it out and you no longer like it altho you may continue to eat there hoping they will put it back the way it was, they never do.   Mostly fast foods and big chains do this, but trendy spots do it too.

DON'T BE FOOLED!  It is NOT your taste buds getting old!  IT is NOT You!  The products HAVE CHANGED for the worse.  I think the only way we might get change is to document what they have done, we are not stupid cattle they can fool, and then protest loud and clear until the practice either stops or is harder to get away with.  They are already downsizing containers of all types at the grocery store, smaller cans, smaller jugs of bottled water - feel underneath, they are putting big valleys in the bottle bottoms to remove product volume.  Check out the Ozarka Water 3 liter bottle.  It looks like a gallon, but underneath is a giant missing area that equals a liter.

Candy is getting smaller, less cookies per package, yes the "white bread" is cruder and rougher with bigger bubbles in it.  They are "whipping" as many products as they can.  Protein amounts getting less and less.  More and more MSG.  Did you know that "hydrolyzed vegetable protein" is just another term for MSG, mono sodium glutamate.  Papain is another term for similar chemical.  Do you know what "mechanically separated chicken" is?  How it's obtained?  You should, it's in all your chicken nuggets.

I would like to hear what other people have noticed about how they have ruined or reduced the food in our stores and restaurants.  It is NOT our imagination.  NOTHING tastes like it did when we were kids, it WAS better back then.  Poor kids growing up today have NO IDEA how good food can taste or drinks can taste.  Argh!

Copyright 2011 VROUK

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Cooked Over ONE MILLION Hamburgers

It's true.  I started at McDonald's as soon as I turned 16.  I had been working for Dairy Queen for a year at age 15 for 75 cents per hour. When I was able to get on at McDonald's at $1.62 an hour, A BUCK SIXTY TWO I thought I'd died and gone to hamburger heaven!  I had been working sixty hours a week at Dairy Queen and bumming rides to and from home.  Now with this humongous increase in income my mom cosigned on a car and I drove between high school and work.

I worked at McD's my sophomore and junior years, got out of school at noon to get there for lunch rush.  Everyone at school who spoke to me called me Ronald McDonald. I would work double shifts and close the restaurant, not get home till 1 or 2 in the morning then back to school.  Worked weekends.  I excelled at grill man especially during rushes so they often put me on grill.  I got good enough I could have won the golden spatula if I'd gone to the competitions.

I started tracking how many cases of frozen hamburger patties I personally cooked, and kept track over the course of my five years with McDonald's on and off.  I surpassed one million hamburgers cooked in my fifth year.  This was arrived at by multiplying the number of patties in a case (both ten to one patties and 4 to 1 patties) times how many cases I had recorded that I cooked.

I could lay down twelve frozen patties, six in each hand, on the 400 degree grill, in two perfect rows in less than two seconds.  I could turn them in a few seconds, keeping the sear intact.  I could keep the grill full as fast as the burners could reheat, sometimes four dozen patties or more cooking at once.  We employed systems back then called pull lay and turn lay.  If you wanted to keep burgers coming up continuously, you either told grill man to cook on the pull lay, meaning when you pull one set of done patties, you lay down the next set.  Or turn lay, for rushes, every time you turned one set you laid another set.

The Caller/Wrapper, a Crew Chief, decided what to call based on the time and business level.  You might be percolating along on a 4 / 2 pull lay on regulars and a 2 / 2 pull lay on quarters.  Or in rush you might be 24/12 turn lay on regulars, and 16 / 8 turn lay on quarters.  The caller might reassign numbers of the finished regular ten to one patties to Macs or Hamburgers.  He'd also call out how many to Cheese.  The grill man had to communicate back to the Caller all the time with Turning so many, Laying so many, of what, Pulling so many, asking for Cheese calls etc.  and announcing whenever he set a tray of finished burgers up for the Caller to wrap or box by saying stuff like "Nutritious and Delicious Big Macs Up!" or "Hot and Delicious Cheeseburgers Up!"

We had extensive training films that taught you every move, every aspect, right down to how many grains of salt and pepper mixture should be applied and when, the perfect time to turn the meat and remove the meat, how the meat would keep cooking after pull, how to sear, how to turn, on and on.  Only the best grill men could keep the grill going full tilt.  If you were by yourself in the kitchen, you had to also toast the buns and dress them with condiments and assemble the burgers, and keep everything stocked, the grill cleaned, etc. etc.  It was a workout when busy or alone.

I worked my way up to Opening Crew Chief by the time I quit working for them.  I worked at various stores around KC.  Used it as a fill in job between jobs in seventies.   

I despair when I see what the McD crews do nowadays, all the pride is gone, they are sloppy, the food is cruddy and cold, dirty stores, slow, crew doesn't know what they are doing.  It's very sad.  Back in the day, we had pride in the job we did.  I'll tell more stories later.  I still love McDonald's food, and it's still one of the premiere American companies.  Hamburger U in Chicago turns out managers still, Corporate owned stores and private owned stores are still way different.  I miss Mayor McCheese and Grimace and the Hamburgler.  Ray Kroc used to send us little flexy vinyl records with his recorded pep talks and latest advertising jingles to our homes.  I changed to Jack in the Box my senior year, but went back to McD's several more times.  I'd still recommend it to people if they want to get into management.  The training is fantastic and translates to all else.

Copyright 2011 VROUK



This is a favorite toy I once heard about in 1985 from robot toy crazy Japan.  They are NOT making fun of Christianity, they honestly sold these to Christian kids to play with.  "Put your money in God Jesus Robot, all your Wish Come True!"

Robot would say YES or NO, like an 8 ball toy.  Flash lights, make noise, move.  What else could you want?  I love it, and wish I had one.   Meaning no disrespect.

VROUK Approved!


Fans of Physics are Familiar with the conundrum of universal expansion or contraction, dark energy and dark matter, and where is the "missing" dark matter predicted to be somewhere in our universe?

Elaborate theories, such as those describing baryonic and non-baryonic dark matter on web sites like WIKIPEDIA, don't offer concrete answers.

For the first time anywhere, I present my theory on where the missing matter is:
KETCHUP PACKETS (and other condiment packets) discarded with stuff still in them!

Think about it.... every time you tear open one of those darn convenient ketchup (or other condiment) packets, no matter how thorough you are, you leave a certain amount of condiment in the packet when you toss it out.  I'll leave it to a Physics student or Mathematician to calculate the average amount of condiment discarded this way, but the grand total aggregate must be ASTOUNDING!  Think of enough wasted condiments like this recovered from all the tossed packets around the world daily... if you put them in a river bed and they started flowing, they might be enough or more than enough to equal the volumetric flow rate of Niagara Falls!!!  Now multiply that "hidden" wasted matter times how many condiment using planets there must be in the universe, and VOILA!  Missing Matter Accounted For.   It's KETCHUP!

Now I know that many of you subscribe to the National Geographic Magazine theory... that states that the combined weight of all the stacks of old National Geographic Magazines in all the garages in all the world are enough to explain plate Tectonics, and you favor the corollary that these NatGeo Mags are the "missing matter".  But you'd be wrong.

It's a sad sad truth that Physics Professors and Students and Scientists all over the world are underfunded and starving, not to mention they have no original theories to work on.  Well I propose that we put them to work testing my theory, and in the process they can eat the wasted condiments therefore no longer starve.  You're welcome!

There is NO truth to the competing theory that the missing mass is tied up in unsold versions of various Apple gadgets sitting in warehouses.   I welcome your accolades and laurel wreaths.  Now that I have solved the biggest science problem of the day, and I have no doubt my discovery will lead directly to Star Trek Replicators, I suggest that I be named God Emperor of the Universe.  It's only fair.

SQUINT AS YOU APPROACH ME, LEST YOU BE BLINDED BY MY BRILLIANCE!   You may kiss the hem of my robe.  Just throw coins...
carry on, I'll be in the area all day.  Try the Veal.

Copyright 2011 VROUK

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I saw this cartoon many years ago, but cannot find it anywhere on internet, so I recreated it the best I could with Paint and clip art, Enjoy!  (I don't remember creator, sorry)


I have a question.
How much money do the people of the USA spend on the electricity to run all the holiday lights strung up inside and outside their homes?  This includes Christmas, New Years, Halloween, etc. and includes inflatable yard decorations energy cost, and animated displays.  I'm sure a math or physics or electronics whiz could answer this.

How much do individual USA people and families spend on fireworks each year?

How much is spent by USA pet owners on luxury pet goods as opposed to perfectly adequate supplies instead?
For instance, gourmet pet food or treats instead of plain pet food or treats.  Pet costumes, pet jewelry, extra pet grooming such as dying dogs hair wild colors and patterns.  What is the difference in cost between what they actually spend, and what they really need to spend to keep pets healthy and happy but no luxuries?

How much do USA people spend on roses for various holidays?  I'm referring to florist style cut flowers?

How much is spent by USA on special holiday chocolates or other gift candy such as Halloween, Easter etc.?

Now, if we could see the totals of all that "luxury" spending, money that is spent by people who have a surplus of money, more than they need to live comfortably, it would be shocking.  Each of these things consists of BILLIONS in spending.  Yes, holiday lights enrich the spirit.  Yes fireworks are entertaining.  Yes, pet owners want to lavish their pets with only the best available, even though the pet would be just as happy with more plain supplies.  Yes flowers are a delightful luxury item of beauty, a sign of extravagance supposed to prove greater emotional intensity.

HERE IS MY MAIN QUESTION:  What if the people of the USA were to figure out this spending, and for the coming year, spend only HALF as much on luxury items as above, and take the OTHER HALF and use it to feed all the needy starving underfed children we have in the USA?  I believe tens of BILLIONS of dollars would be made available to erase hunger among USA children and seniors and homeless?

Copyright 2011 VROUK

Howdy! Howdy! Howdy! I'm a Cowboy!


Planet Ethel in the Car Stereo System

A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... Missouri about 1989.... I was running a local chapter of a Star Trek club called Starfleet Command.  Our ship was the USS Altair and exploration vessel, and I was a Commodore.  We had an active core membership of about twenty, all ages.  We met monthly, celebrated holidays, had parties, made costumes, went to conventions, had fun.  I was asked to speak on the technology behind the USS Enterprise at a convention in Indianapolis, and two club members Caroline and Debbie wanted to car pool and all go together from Kansas City.

My mother, bless her heart, made me the most beautiful hand made Star Trek uniform (from Wrath of Khan) so I could appear as a true Starfleet Commodore.  She based it on a crappy pattern we bought from Gene Roddenberry's wife Majel, at Lincoln Enterprises, but she ended up having to make her own pattern because I was too fat.  She studied photos, and remade the jacket numerous times to get the shoulders and fit just right and made me look like a million dollars.  Thank you Mom for all your hard work.  All those hours we spent in your cold garage, but you did it, even down to the ribbed white turtleneck stick up collar dickie, and the chain edge of the blouse, everything was perfect.  She is a master seamstress.  I still have the uniform jacket hanging in my home.  Anyway, I digressed.

Caroline and Debbie and I did not have much money so we packed my tiny sports car, really only two comfortable seats, with cooler of food, electric skillet, drinks, luggage, costumes, everything we would need to enjoy a weekend Trek Convention.  The car was groaning (little Subaru XT6 '88 wedge shape car) and one of us had to take turns sitting in the back seat crosswise with our legs up on all the luggage.  So we took turns driving and rotating seating.  Being a Silly Bunch as it was, we were riffing comedy bits about things we saw on the way, and when we reached the Missouri river crossing area near Columbia Missouri, some road signs inspired me. "Hey!" I said, "why don't we be secret Indian Tribe members for rest of trip and we'll adopt Indian names from these road signs, they kind of sound like Indian names."  So the gals agreed and I let them choose first picks, so Caroline became Falling Rock, Debbie became Watch For Fog and I was left with Ice on Bridges.  So the rest of the trip we called each other those names, but never explained them to anyone else.  LOL

As we approached Greater St. Louis and started consulting our map, and I was driving and the gals were arguing about which route to take, I was thinking we needed some gas, so I said "We better head to Planet Ethyl pretty soon."  This got one of the gals to decide that Planet Ethyl was in the Car Stereo System.  (star system)  So that was our destination instead of Indianapolis.  We'd ask each other how far to Planet Ethyl, etc. etc.  We had so much fun!  It made the cramped car almost bearable.
One last thing about the trip, the last day of the convention, Sunday afternoon, I was still in my uniform from my talk, and we were loitering in a room full of humongous space ship filming models, oohing and ahhing on our way out of the hotel, and a little boy and his mother came in the hotel door, obviously he had missed the convention, but his mother had brought him anyway to see the free display of ship models.  He shyly came up to me and held out a Star Trek magazine and asked me if he could have my autograph!  He thought I was an actor from the Star Trek movie.  I was so touched I did not have the heart to tell him, so I signed my autograph and told him that we needed men like him and I hoped he joined Starfleet.  He ran back to his mother wide eyed and so excited.  I told my mom that her expert tailoring and costume making had made a very nice thing happen for a little boy.

Copyright 2011 VROUK

Annual Run-Like-A-Girl Marathon


How to catch Wasps, Hornets, Mud daubers, Huge Spiders, Moths, Bugs of all kinds inside your house:

Bug vacuums will catch Wasps. The Bug Wand is the one I have and it works good for wasps.
I have used it many times to catch Wasps. I had to mail order it, but since many local stores sell
 the "As Seen On TV" merchandise, maybe you could call around and find someone who has it. The Bug
 Wand. It's about 14 bucks. I've used it on Spiders too.  Sometimes I catch a big spider, usually
 one of the hunting spiders that runs fast.  They can live inside the catch tube forever.  Then I
 turn it on, which makes the spider stay down by the fan intake, and catch a wasp, then I put the
 plug in and watch thru the clear plastic tube.  They are natural enemies, the spiders are food for
 the wasps.  Usually the wasp wins, but sometimes both die.  My brother says I'm supposed to take
 them outside and "release" them.  What?  I don't want them back in the house.  He says take them
 far away.  ?  In the middle of the night?  No, I'd rather be a monster.

Ad Copy:
"The bug buddy insect catcher known as the Bug Wand is the perfect solution for capturing and
 disposing of household pests. This bug vacuum is the newest member of your pest management that
 will help in picking up pantry pests and insect pests in a jiffy. It's the clean, quick and safe
 way to be rid of bugs. The next time some creepy-crawly is discovered in your home or business,
 don't spray them, don't whack them, bug vac them with the Bug Wand! No more messy splatter on the
 walls or ceilings. If you want to be able to pick up and dispose of insect pests and maintain pest
 control, try out this insect vacuum today!
 The bug vac one-of-a-kind spider vacuum device works by sucking up the household pests into a tube.
 You don't ever have to touch pantry pests again! 9 volt battery not included."  It's about 15
 bucks.  If you can't find it, target sells a kids toy Bug Safari vacuum for 29.  Amazon sells a
 similar wand but much smaller for 14.  

I have had great success with Mouse Glue Sheet traps. Take a glue sheet, and use it like a ping
 pong paddle against the Wasp, don't let it touch anything else tho! If wasp lites, gently touch the
 glue to the wasp wings, and it's history. Or swing the glue sheet thru the air to contact the Wasp
 while it's flying around. Cheap and throw it in trash. Just don't stick glue to hair or walls or
 lamps.  First time I tried it first I got my own hair, had to cut it off, then I made the rookie
 mistake of smacking the sheet to my bedroom wall where the wasp had lighted. Oh, I got the wasp,
 and when I pulled the glue sheet free from the wall it took paint and the whole layer of paper
 covering one side of the drywall, left about a six by six inch excavated patch.  So don't touch it
 to anything but Bug.

DUCT TAPE and Broom Handle:
For cheap solution, wrap a ball of duct tape, sticky side outward, around the end of a broom
 handle.  It doesn't have to look great or last long.  When Wasp lights, slowly maneuver the sticky
 tape wad near the Wasp, then smack it to it quickly the last couple inches away.  If you are lucky
 you stick to it's wings. Quickly then pull the tape off the broom, squish the ball and into the

If you have one of the now banned halogen floor torch lamps, that uses the rod shaped halogen
 bulbs in 300w or 500w, when lamp is cool remove the protective glass sheet above the bulb that
 keeps dust and junk off it. (because even a finger print on the halogen bulb can make it burst
when it heats up, keep it clean) Then light the lamp in room with Wasp.  It will fly toward super
 bright light. Oh yeah, don't YOU ever look at the lit bulb, will burn your retinas.  And don't
 EVER touch bulb unless fully cooled, will give third degree burns.  One of two things will happen.
 Either the wasp will come to the light, land nearby and the heat and light will make it sit there
 in a stupor until it dies and slowly burns into a crispy critter.  The smoke will rise from the
 lamp and stink, that's how you know it's done!  Keep lamp away from flammables like curtains.  If
 you are less lucky, wasp will only go close enough to blind itself, then it will fly crazily and
 unpredictably around the room while blind. Oh joy.  At least it can't see if it lights. So get out
 the sticky stuff.  

Where do they hide?:
Lamps, light fixtures, ceiling, top of picture frames, between curtains and window.  Even inside food boxes. Your shoes, your clothes, in closets, in a book, under the toaster, even inside the frig guts attracted to the evaporator pan.  They have to drink eventually.  Toilet, dripping faucet, evap pans, air conditioner runoff, water sitting in drain traps. 

Why do they keep appearing in house?
Probably built a nest inside one of your storm windows, then found tiny hole in window sash and
coming inside to explore lured by temperature difference.  Wolf spiders and other running hunter spiders follow bugs in under door bottoms if you don't have a tight seal or sweeper.  Gnats arrive on bananas, or fly in thru open door or window.  Flies follow in thru open windows or doors.  They also hibernate in windows and "reactivate" at odd times, waking up and weakly flying around.  You might even have a dead mouse somewhere in a wall, under a sofa, perhaps it got into the house and died of starvation or whatever, and then the insects blossom in it's body.  My wasps come in thru fireplace chimney.

Why have I developed so many ways to catch Wasps in the house?:
I needed a better method than standing across the room squealing in my underwear while spraying a 20 foot stream of wasp knock down poison and rendering the house unlivable for days. So I tried lots of different ways.  I also had to find ways that worked good when I was super groggy and barefoot, since I usually had been asleep when called upon to save the day.

If you have gnats and or flies bugging you, the safest way to get rid of them is those curly cue strips of sticky
fly trap paper you buy in packs of three or four that look like fat firecrackers.  You pull the strip out of one end, and hang it up near the problem area.  Do several.  After the first few gnats and or flies stick to the strip, they will start all landing there, until most of them are caught.  First day or so you may not think it's going to work, but it will.  Moths will NOT land on sticky strips for some reason.  You have to get special moth lure boxy sticky traps for them.  And big spiders and wasps are strong enough to pull free from all but the heaviest glue traps.  I've watched a wolf spider pull loose from a glue mouse trap.  They can even lose legs because they'll grow them back.  But they do get slowed down, so you could squish them or throw them out if they get caught. 

Ways you should NOT use inside the house:
Wasp and Hornet Poison Spray that shoots an aerosol stream of poison twenty feet.  Sure, you can
douse the Wasp and half the room, but then it's like Chernobyl. That stuff is oily and last for
 weeks, the smell is toxic and can kill you too.  Don't spray it in the house.

No Pest Strips: bad idea.  They are not meant to be hung in a closed air environment like air
 conditioned or heated room, especially not with humans present.  Will damage humans from the get
 go.  Only to be used in well ventilated areas where people don't hang out.  If you are not going
 to be in a house for weeks, you can hang them in every room while gone, then air out house for
 hours after returning and seal open strips up airtight for storage.  But be warned, the poison
 that they ooze into the air will penetrate foodstuffs, wrappers, boxes, inside refrigerators, will
 coat plates and drinking vessels and silverware and pots pans etc.  It's like coating everything
 in house with Dichlorvous Vapona R.  Not good.  You have to discard all that stuff, or wash it
 thoroughly including all linens. Elderly are especially susceptible to breathing  distress and bad
 effects from pest strips.  Keep Away!  But they will kill everything if left in a space for a few
 weeks.  Also don't use Bug Fogger's for same reasons. 

Bug Zappers, big NO NO inside the house, just forget it.   

Copyright 2011 VROUK - all but ad copy/photo

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



Once upon a time, I used to smoke a pipe.  I enjoyed all aspects of the Fine Art of Tobacciana.  Even read books on the subject, studied the history of tobacco smoking, very much enjoyed it.  The web site above is quite a resource for those who enjoy pipe smoking, whether you still actively smoke, want to, or used to. Check it out!

Another great web site, but local to Kansas City is Diebel's Sportsmens Gallery.
Mr. Fred Diebel sold me my first pipe at his long gone Crown Center location in Kansas City.  He was so knowledgeable and patient with a first time pipe buyer.  I was 18 and on my lunch hour I would haunt his store. He recommended a cherry wood pipe as my first, smoked cool, not too expensive, big bowl, rustic.  He told me the difference between pipe tobacco's, how they're made, what toppings were, how to load a pipe, how to light it properly, form the cake, how to tamp, how to relight, how to draw and keep it going for almost an hour and how not to burn your mouth or generate too much moisture.  How to clean the pipe, how to store it and the tobacco, what the tools were such as a "nail", a pouch, a rest, a pouch or rollup wallet, a humidor, the different woods and styles and makers, how each smoked, etc.  All in one visit!  That started me on sixteen years of pipe smoking before I quit.  I'd still smoke now, but can't have it around while caring for my mom.  I went on to learn so much more, thanks to Fred instilling in me a desire to know as much as I could.

I bought briar pipes in different styles, ceramic, meerschaum carved in fancy shapes, long church warden pipes, exotic shapes, big Dunhills bought while in Harrods in London, I started collecting old pipe racks, humidors, books.  I learned how Columbus men watched the natives on Hispaniola form a mounded up pit of dirt in the jungle floor, shove long hollow bamboo like tubes thru the pit wall along the ground so one end was inside the pit, the others radiating out like spokes, and then tobacco green leaves would be piled in the pit and lit and the natives would lie on the ground on their stomachs and suck the smoke into their lungs through the tubes until they passed out delirious under the trees.  I learned how a strong dose of nicotine lowers the blood supply to your brain by seven percent.  How the quickest way to absorb nicotine directly into your blood is via smoking a powerful cigar, the lining of your mouth is most efficient at absorbing, and the amount of nicotine cigarette smokers get is as nothing compared to cigars.  This caused me to dub cigarettes "sissy sticks" or "little puffs of nothing."  I learned that if you bought a really good cigar, one that cost a dollar or more each, grown from cuban seed in Nicaragua or Honduras etc, wrapped in a green wrapper, if you smoked such a cigar, your bones would turn to jelly and you'd slide under the table.  Pipes and cigars make you "get low" not high.  Cigarettes give a "lift" through oxygen narcosis, starving the lungs of oxygen because you inhale.  Big dose of nicotine suppresses you.  I started buying long cigarette holders and Turkish cigarettes.  Joya de Nicaragua cigars, virgin latakia tobacco slices that hand to be finger rolled before smoking, thats rubbing the leaf slices till they looked more like pipe tobacco.  I started blending my own pipe tobacco.  I was so addicted to nicotine I once combed the carpet under my car seat where I'd spilled some tobacco just so I could smoke when desperate.

There is alot more to tell... but who is interested any more?  Pipe smoking has all but disappeared.  People no longer recognize the famous quote "a woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a Smoke!"  The age of the fine art of tobacciana is fading, as the last Wizards prepare to light their final bowls and puff away into the fabled land of legend.

In honor of Fred Diebel, I dreamt up a little story in my head, maybe someone could turn it into a comic book? 
What if Fred Diebel were actually TOBACCO MAN, Super Hero?
Fred would use his Tabac Attack! Shooting cigar projectiles thru a smokescreen.
Fred would "smoke" the Bad Guys.
Fred could have a teenage sidekick, Nick 'o Teen
Tobacco Man's nemesis would be the evil Dr. Grabow!
Tobacco Man could call on his trusty friend, Captain Black!
His HQ would be WhiteHall.
The only way to enter the invisible dimension that contains WhiteHall is to puff out a huge cloud of pipe smoke and step thru it, ala Hogwart's Train.

Copyright 2011 VROUK


My All Time Favorite Monty Python Skit
Ann Elk with her theory on Brontosaurii


I was very groggy from sleep this morning, and I'm getting senile, so when I went to give mom a drink thru the straw when she woke coughing, I could not think of any words for things but had to give her the usual verbal cues. I found myself saying in a frustrated voice "put your things on the thing and thing!" (translation: put your lips on the straw and drink) We both slowly cracked up.
Copyright 2011 VROUK


A grudge they say is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die. Or as the Shaolin say, it's like hugging a cauldron full of glowing coals to your chest and expecting the other person to be burned. Or it's like making too many trite analogies and expecting the other person to uh, umm.... look! it's a bird!
Copyright 2011 VROUK


 What a treasure trove of bizarre Japanese videos and commercials. Hours and Hours of jaw dropping entertainment. Before you think the Japanese are too weird, remember, we sent them PeeWee's Playhouse. Ahem.
I especially like the POO GENIE, CHOCO BALLS, BANANA MAN and of course anything by Denki Groove such as the Flashback Disco video.
VROUK Approved!


Above is a photo taken looking northeast toward the western end of the Blue Ridge Mall.  From this perspective, you are on Sterling Avenue and 43rd Street. Visible is the Safeway grocery and Blue Ridge Bowl (underneath the grocery), Ward's just peeking out on left and the rest of the Mall goes on to the right/east.  This was taken most likely when Mall was new in the fifties but I don't know the attribution.

There is a wonderful BLOG called LabelScar that allows people to explore closed shopping malls via photos and discussions.  There is a page for Blue Ridge Mall, and I wanted to add to the thread there, but for some reason my post was rejected, so I have included my memories below to add to all the observations on LabelScar for Blue Ridge Mall.
                                     Link to Labelscar.
Anyone else with Blue Ridge Mall memories, feel free to post here, or you might enjoy Labelscar.  Sorry for any errors I've made.

My Memories of Blue Ridge Mall:
My mom took me to the Grand Opening of Blue Ridge Mall in 1958 in a baby stroller, I was one.
She and a neighbour took their strollers up to spend the day and see what all the hype was
about.  Prior to BRM, they had shopped at places like Alton Plaza, the Independence Square, or
Downtown KC.  In fact, my mom says it was BRM that "killed" the Indep. Square in terms of being
a shopping mecca.  For those not from the area, Independence Missouri has a quaint antique town
square with the old County Courthouse in the center, with streets of quaint buildings and shops
surrounding it.  Prior to shopping malls, it contained all the shopping, government offices,
utilities and other destinations for the town, enough to keep it quite lively.  This all
changed with the advent of malls.  It became a shadow of it's former self, only slowly reviving
in recent times as a historical destination with eclectic shopping and restaurants etc.

Blue Ridge Mall was one of the first large open air shopping malls in the region, located at
the intersection of US 40 Hwy and Interstate 70 and Blue Ridge Boulevard, at a point where
Independence, Raytown and Kansas City Missouri all converge, and a stone's throw from the
Truman Sports Complex, the home of the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs stadiums.

When BRM opened, not only did all the stores facing the huge surrounding parking lots have
plate glass windows and outside doors, but there were numerous "lanes" like Community Lane,
sidewalks that led between stores to the interior of the Mall and the central Promenade.  These
Lanes were distinguished with benches and planters with flower beds, and mysterious stairs that
descended down into darkness, chained and gated at the top.

That brings up a major topic of BRM that no one else has discussed which I find really odd,
that is the freight / package pick up tunnel.  In the parking lot facing North at the Jones
store end was an iron height beam at the top of a ramp that led down under the mall heading
south.  Trucks would enter this tunnel to deliver the goods to the mall's biggest stores.  At
the bottom of the ramp, basement level for the mall, were a series of loading docks and doors
and steps.  Major stores like Jone's and Penney's and Ward's, Newberry's, Harzfeld's, and the
Concourse level had dock doors or package doors out into this cool dark tunnel.  If you bought
say a refrigerator from Ward's, you were given a ticket, and told how to go into the tunnel,
find the Wards dock, park angled, climb the stairs and ring the pickup bell.  Someone would
come, take your ticket, and bring your purchase to their dock, help you load it and off you go.

The other end of the tunnel led to a ramp that surfaced / came above ground right next to where
Mont. Wards met the Safeway on the North side.  Trucks would exit there and go onto Sterling
Avenue to leave the mall.

The "Concourse" level mentioned elsewhere originally consisted of two tunnels, one on either
side of Harzfeld's basement.  One led west and terminated in the bowling alley and there were
public bathrooms at the bottom of the stairs up to the surface that came out where Safeway met
the rest of the Mall on South side.  The Bowling was underneath the Safeway, in fact when you
went to get a jug of milk at the far back of Safeway, you could hear the bowling balls hitting
the pins right underneath you!  That tunnel I believe had the radio station, the dance academy
and not sure what else.  The other tunnel to the east of Harzfeld's branched out and connected
to the loading dock tunnel, next to public bathrooms, and it had Mall Security, the Nursery,
barber shop, shoe repair, small things.

This was before South Court.   It was not originally connected to Harzfeld's or Penney's
basement, at least not to the public.  The only elevators I remember originally were Harzfeld's
just to their basement, Wards, Jones and then the new J.C. Penney's.  The new elevator accessed
from the Promenade did not come until much later after South Court was built. 

When Penney's built it's new massive building where the Safeway had been, they wanted three
stories.  Also, people were tired of the sloped parking lot toward Sterling, and so, since
Newberry's went out of business and had escalators they decided to make it
North Court with big outside entrance, and old Penney's became South Court with big
outside entrance.  Originally there were only stairs going down to lower South Court for the
first couple years, because old Penney's had only had stairs.  They did knock a hole thru from
Harzfeld's basement to the new lower South Court so handicapped people could get down there.

Eventually they added very steep escalator down to lower South Court, and built a dedicated
elevator in a niche they cut out of space between Harzfelds and Zales entrances on the
Promenade.  So you could still take the elevator if Harzfeld's was closed.  They then
cut up the old stores into many smaller stores.  Lower South Court had Burstein Applebee's
electronics and records, the Brothers Fish pet store, Don's World of Beef, Andersen's book
store, Putsch's cafeteria and Carousel (fast food), Kim's Orientals, tobacconist, hall to
Harzfeld's, hallway to public bathrooms and loading dock tunnel, etc. etc.  Upper South Court
once had a McDonalds!, then a "loose meat sandwich" place, a GNC, a Salon, eventually antiques,

North Court was designated to be a Food and Entertainment area to compete with the bigger newer
malls.  So in Lower North Court at bottom of Newberry's escalators they built a four screen
mini theater annex of Blue Ridge Cinema, and people used it's bathrooms, next to it was
SpacePort the futuristic game arcade, and originally the rest was Mall office, hall to loading
dock tunnel, and several fast foods, an early one was SMAK's with its Seal mascot Smakie!
There was also a door to the underground parking garage, north of malls basement level.

The upper North Court had fast food places and a little seating to eat and doors to the above
ground North parking lot. When Penney's had to do major excavation to dig out the bowling alley
for their lower level, the mall decided to add covered parking, so they dug out the whole North
parking lot, from the dock tunnel ramp that descended near Jones on the east, all down the
basement level of the mall all along between the mall and north ring road, then out level to
Sterling and all where Blue Ridge Bowl was and under the southwest parking lot too.  They then
put a layer of concrete on concrete stilts above the new "Sterling level" parking to make it
covered.  You only went into it from three places.
A ramp down the southwest corner and under, entrance and exit from Sterling with flashing
lights due to alot of accidents at first, and the entry ramp near Jone's.  Oh yeah there was
one more ramp down on ring road in northwest corner.  So now the exit from the freight / pickup
tunnel came out next to Ward's basement, around the corner of Penney's basement and dock, and
straight out Sterling.  

Ward's extended their regular elevator down into the covered parking, and opened a door to
their basement level from the north.  So you could park underneath to the north or West and go
in thru Penney's, Ward's, or North Court.  There were loooong stairwells to get up to ground
level around Penney's, but kinda dangerous, people used Penney's elevator instead.  They had to
put speed bumps outside lower North Court doors to slow traffic down, people were getting hit
coming out the doors.

In the heyday of the mall before all this, during heavy shopping times you could not find a
place to park, you'd go round and round the mall waiting for someone to leave.  After they
added underground, people jammed it circling waiting to get a place so it was always full of
fumes in busy times!   There was one year, a few years after they built the parking lot up on
stilts, that it shifted a few inches due to weather, and people were afraid to park on top of
it around Penney's, it was buckling and getting huge dips, but it never did collapse.

I rode my bike to the mall, crossing over the "dangerous" oooh! bridge of Blue Ridge Blvd over
40 Hwy to get there!  :)  And Rexall Crown Drug having wood floors, and nickel paper kites, and
ten cent comics and candy bars and penny candies all types. If you had fifty cents you could
get a sack of candy and two comic books and a kite. :)  And the memories of freezing between
stores at Christmas, you had to put your coats on, go to the next store, then everyone would
take their coats off and I had to carry them till we left that store.  And the sacks were all
super thin paper, and if you clutched them tight for hours they would tear!  Wards sacks were
green.  Harzfelds charged for their fancy shopping bags.

There were so many good smells, candy counters, lunch counters, coffee shops, treats.  Russel
Stovers candy.  Velvet Creme with it's white wire back ice cream chairs. Cake Box sugar cookies
in colored shapes like Hearts or Pumpkins or Turkeys or Santa.  The candy nut counter in
basement of Jone's.  Popcorn in Rexall.  Woolworth's had that Sno Cone cart outside their
door, and wonderful hamburgers.  When Fred Harvey's Blue Rooster Cafe was at the east end of
parking lot (really good steaks and seafood and chicken and COFFEE) they also ran a cafeteria
in the north west end of the mall called The Holland House.

A carnival used to regularly set up in the southeast parking lot every few years.  I remember
the dinosaurs outside mentioned above, the machine cranked out wax, not plastic, dinosaurs.  I
just had my three remaining dinosaurs from that machine smashed in an accident, they were wax.
I remember how weird it was when they enclosed it to get the A/C and Heat, that was the big
deal, and the stores opened their inside entrances WIDE OPEN and how weird that was!   No more
fighting with airlock double doors.

For those who don't remember Fred Harvey's, that's the same firm that had the diner and the
fine dining room at Union Station.  It sat empty, then was ChiChi's, then Hong Kong buffet,
then torn down.

The old lit up sign on 40 Hwy was magnificent, especially if it was foggy. The letters M A L L
would light up in sequence vertically, and a round cylinder of clear light bulbs on top would
light it's bulbs in sequence around and around to look like a Lighthouse, very cool in fog.
Huge lit up arrow full of yellow bulbs pointing into mall with Blue Ridge in script. Must have
been three stories tall.  First the Mall letters would light up, then top lighthouse cylinder
then arrow, then lighthouse bulbs would chase round and round and arrow would blink on and off,
then start all over.  This was before I-70 of course, so US40 was the main drag.  There was a
Blue Ridge Standard gasoline service station right next to the 40 Hwy entrance.  Had the best
mechanics, three bays. I remember waiting on the brand new I-70 West on-ramp next to BRM the
day the stretch of I-70 opened from there to downtown KC.  We whizzed to downtown in about 15
minutes driving slow to take in the whole new experience. I marvelled at all the houses that
had been torn down and streets now cut off in dead ends.  You were looking right into people's
back yards!  How weird!

I remember Santa arriving by helicopter to BRM above the Safeway parking lot and dropping ping
pong balls by the hundreds onto the crowd below. Some ping pong balls won prizes.  Oh, those
mysterious stairs that led downward in the "lanes" when it was open air?  They went down to the
freight tunnel.  And no one has mentioned it, but it was not actually totally open, there was a
corrugated roof over the middle promenade, held up by huge steel ibeams, higher than the level
of the store roofs so air and light came in all around it, but it kept some of the weather off
the center promenade.  So open to the air, but a little bit of cover in the middle.

Oh yeah, that connection above ground from Wards to the Auto Center, that was their storage for
tires and such, not open to public.  Oh yeah and the Blue Ridge Cinema down 40 to the east was
torn down a couple of years ago.  I just read a new arcade is opening in Indep. with some of
the machines from SpacePort, don't remember where.

Happy Joe's had a Super Dooper Double Dipper soda with 7 scoops of ice cream and quart of pop
for two people. They also had 21 scoop sundae if you could eat it all you could have a second
one.  And a window with footstool for kids to watch pizzas being made.  They were part of a
chain that still has restaurants open elsewhere in the country.

There was a Gold Crown Hallmark next to Jones.  Optical store.  I remember that some storms
knocked out Woolworth's windows, and cars rammed into Woolworth's and Newberry's, and energy
savings was big, so they decided to brick up almost all the outside plate glass windows to save
energy, and close most the outside access doors to individual stores.

I remember the Security Patrol was a light blue open air WWII type Jeep with awning roof and
single rotating bubble light on top on all the time, and they were always somewhere in the
parking lot watching.  Every year we'd go to Zale's to get free I Am Loved buttons.  I also remember

many hours spent in the Singer sewing machine and fabric store looking at patterns, McCall, Butterick,
many more. 

Woolworth's was a godsend if you were young and had only a few dollars to buy Christmas

BAUHAUS - Bela Lugosi's Dead

White on white translucent black capes
Back on the rack
Bela Lugosi's dead
The bats have left the bell tower
The victims have been bled
Red velvet lines the black box
Bela Lugosi's dead
Undead undead undead

The virginal brides file past his tomb
Strewn with time's dead flowers
Bereft in deathly bloom
Alone in a darkened room
The count
Bela Lugosi's dead
Undead undead undead

Here is a youtube fan video made to go to this classic song. Below is my review for residualbill, the film maker:
"I especially liked the visual theme throughout that matched the "white on white translucent black capes" of the song, a critical element to the atmosphere of the soundscape. Admired the way black/white battle mirrored good/evil, carried thru in every part right to the ending sunrise. This video is a triumph worthy of the song, and should be used in film appreciation classes to teach film students. Technically this method helped mask the flaws in the original footage. A masterwork."


Follow the link to watch the videos of the talks given at the World Maker Faire in NY, 2011.  If you are not familiar with Maker Faire or Maker Magazine, they involve the world of DIY, a new movement that encourages people to make things with their own hands and brains.
There are all sorts of links on Facebook and the web for every major city, just google it.

VROUK Approved!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I Am A Cologne Whore.  I admit it.  Let me get a whiff of a really good cologne and I will follow it anywhere.  Ahhhhhhh.  Too bad they are so expensive, because I tend to like the best, so can't afford them.  Have not bought any in a loooong time, but here is a list from the past, compare to what you've worn.  Let me know if you too are a Cologne Whore.  :)

Colognes I Have Owned and Used, Maker, Year of Debut

Skin Bracer, Mennen, 1931
English Leather, Dana, 1949
Brut, Faberge', 1964
Jade East, Regency, 1964
British Sterling, Dana, 1965
Nine Flags:, Colton, 1965
America - Mountain Green
Brazil - Aromatic Tabac
England - Royal Saddle
France        - Panache
Germany - Live Oak
Ireland - Green Moss
Spain - Manzanilla
Sweden - Clear Spruce

Hai Karate, Leeming, 1967
Hai Karate Oriental Lime, Leeming, 1968
Jovan Musk for Men, Jovan, 1973
Musk for Men, Faberge', 1975
Jovan Ginseng for Men, Jovan, 1975
Sex Appeal for Men, Jovan, 1976
Polo, Ralph Lauren, 1978
Andron for Men, Jovan, 1981
Drakkar Noir, Guy Laroche, 1982
Tuscany, Aramis, 1984
Monogram, Ralph Lauren, 1985
Xeryus, Givenchy, 1986
Guess Men (original), Guess, 1991
Jovan White Musk for Men, JOvan, 1992
Wings for Men, Wings, 1994

WHAK A MOLE Keyboard SOKR BOPR Pointer

Idea for Invention!  How about a Whak a Mole keyboard and Sokr Bopr pointing device?

Hunh? Hunh?  BRILLO!
Here's how it works:  You have a large keyboard in front of your huge monitor, with rounded key half domes that rise up when you start the machine.  You type by standing in front of the monitor and "keyboard" and hold two soft mallets, with enough heft to smak the "keys" and make them retract.  So typing becomes fun exercise hammering out your words with the two mallets.  Now we need to be able to move the mouse around.  Easy!  Place pressure sensor strips on all four edges of monitor and bolt it down quite securely.  On the other end of the whakking mallets are soft air filled Sokr Boprs.  You use those ends to "whap" the edge of the screen.  The pointer moves away from the side you're whapping on, the amount depends on how much you whap it.  So by a frenzy of nunchaku style whapping on the monitor edge, you can drive the mouse anywhere it's needed.  Keys on the keyboards will represent the right click, left click, etc.

Now interfacing with your computer can be great exercise too!  Cheaper versions could use roll out pressure pad keyboards and perhaps pressure sensitive gloves to smak with for mouse movement.


Fantastic wacked out video by DJ Swamp called Worship The Robots, catchy tune and very creative costuming on the cheap.  Add this video to your wack collection.
VROUK Approved!

Robot Chicken - Emperor Takes Vader's Call

This is one of my All Time favorite clips from Robot Chicken's send up of Star Wars.  Robot Chicken is a show on cable tv's Adult Swim cartoon show.  Worth a look if you've never checked them out.  I love the ring tones from an AT&T Definity system!  And the sarcastic quiet mocking with his guests while empy is shmoozing Vader.

FRESCA VINYL Show - L.A. Public Access TV

 Here's a Trippy Clip from the Fresca Vinyl Show
Public Access cable tv in Los Angeles
Apparently, the name of this show comes from the toy Doll passed around between guests and host, I think it is named Fresca Vinyl, thus the show.  I'm intrigued and going to watch more clips of the show.  I loved the free spirit and wackiness of the dance above, so I found the full clip of the show it was taken from:  Ooops!  Apparently the TV Show did not like me linking to their video because they took it private.  They left the tiny clip above. Well La Dee Da Miss Thing!  Also, apparently the Pet Shop Boys forced removal of their music video I had linked below that was used as background.  Things are disappearing off youtube left and right!  Sorry, I have no control over that.  I could not find any other copies of that music video, not even "official" so I guess it's lost to the world or you have to buy it on DVD or whatever? ??  Why make the video? If you are from the Fresca Vinyl show and dont want me talking about your show or linking to your youtube videos, just drop me a note and I'll delete this posting altogether. ??? 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

United States of the Americas - Why Not?

Question?: Why can't North America, Central America and South America for that matter, join together into one governmental and economic unit - sovereign union or commonwealth?

Canada is organized into states with state capitals and overall government organization and bureaucracy that unites them, with democratic form. Same for U.S.A. Same for Mexico. Many of the Central America countries are the size and population of these North American states. The South American countries, at least the large ones, are also divided up into regions/states with representative democracies. There are a few countries that are not democracies, and there is the problem of how do you accomodate the very tiny sovereigns compared to the very large. Perhaps a state in Mexico has 20 million population, whereas a whole country like Tobago has population of 54,000. How can they both have valid representation?

We could have one highway system, unified and standardized. One citizenship, no more illegal alien problems except from outside the America's. No border to guard, just coastline. Simplify security. One system of airports and airport security. The extra security that would come from increased mix of natural resources each area would gain that they did not have before. Only have to maintain one set of military services, standardize fleets, planes, tanks, weapons etc. One set of law enforcement standards and practices and databases. One overarching court system. One legislature. One executive branch. Might be one President, might be multiple?

It would make the strongest powerhouse of economic and physical might the world has ever seen. Increases genetic diversity. Overall health would improve as food standards, sanitation, drinking water, pollution cleanup, disease control, all could be shared and offer more to more people. Allow the population to move freely within the commonwealth, no passport necessary unless leaving the Americas. Create a super high speed train from Canada to Tierra Del Fuego.

Either accept all languages such as French, English, Spanish, Portugese or pick one or two and focus on them and teach all children both. In two generations everyone will be bilingual who needs to be. Allows for larger geo territory to absorb refugees in case of geo catastrophe. Would generate a boom in home ownership. All empty USA properties would fill up and many USA people would settle elsewhere within Commonwealth for economic or health reasons. More travel and vacation dollars would be kept within the commonwealth.

Our languages are from the same Romance language root. We share religions. We share many common political concepts and practices. Our cultures are blended. Our socio-economic infrastructures are already blended.  Why not take the next logical step and put together a unified entitiy that could lead the world for the next 200 years?


The Ritual Scraping of the Face is a serious problem for men.  If you soak your beard stubble enough to soften it, then your skin is too mushy and gets cut alot.

 If you don't soak the stubble, then you have to press harder to cut the beard hairs, and you get cut alot.

 If you use the sharpest blade possible, you get cut alot.

 If you use gimmicks like five blades that pull the hairs AND skin upward for cutting closer to the root, you get cut alot.

 If you use an electric razor with or without chemical to make hairs stand up, you have to cram it over your face so much and so hard, you get electric razor burn, removing too much of your skin layer.

Your beard grows in all different directions, requiring long years of practice to know just which way to stroke the razor blade over which spot of face, while holding a wet soapy slippery razor handle, and usually hurrying behind schedule.

Modern razors do not lend themselves to allowing the cut hairs mixed with quick setting concrete shaving cream or gel to be rinsed out of the razor head, unless you use a blast of super hot water, and this heats the blade, amplifying the cuts.

If you're black, the close shaving blades cut the hair right at the skin, the stubble is razor sharp and curled, it digs downward into the hair follicle and creates "razor bumps" or folliculitis barbae, coiled embedded hairs in infected pockets of skin, so you have to use "wavy" razor blades called bump fighters.

If your razor is too dull, it pinches up your skin and cuts it bad.

If you emerge from the bathroom with anything less than a baby butt smooth whisker zone, the person you usually want to kiss avoids you like the plague, commenting loudly, disparaging your shaving ability.  If you are smooth but cut all over, then comments are made about butchering yourself, don't you know what you're doing, etc.

If you are unlucky enough to have facial hair that grows quickly, you get a five o'clock p.m. "shadow", or beard stubble long enough to sandpaper the face off your loved one when you get home.  If you plan on any kissing that night, or going out etc., you have to shave a SECOND time that day, another situation fraught with it's own deadly perils.

Men's facial hair is stronger than copper wire of the same diameter.  Imagine trying to shave off copper wires with your pitiful razor.  After one stroke, it's dull.  After shaving around your mouth, you might as well be using a butter knife.

Is it any wonder men will buy vibrating six blade electric light sabers with lubricating strips and medicated strips for a hundred bucks or more just trying to get a good shave? 

If you are a significant other, do NOT "borrow" your man's razor and use it and put it back without fessing up first, and without leaving them with a new pristine blade to use.  If you read this rant then you know why it drives men INSANE and produces a knock down drag out fight if you use their razor because it's better than yours, or you forgot to buy one.    And NO, men CANNOT use depilatory cream on their FACE, it's too harsh.  A few men have resorted to having their beard hairs electrocuted one by one and killed permanently,i very painful I understand.

In the final chapter of EVERYONE's lives, men, women, children, if your body is to be viewed at a funeral, embalmed and makeup put on to make the corpse look natural, the undertaker shaves all corpses, male or female, first.  Because even peach fuzz can make the funeral makeup clump up and look unnatural.  Just wanted to end on a upbeat note.

Why to men shave?   Because women say that being kissed by a beard is like being rubbed with a fuller brush, or steel wool, and it takes the skin right off THEIR faces.  So there we are.  I'm sure there are other reasons, social, psychological, unbringing, the way it feels.  Even gay guys sometimes don't like their hubby to have a beard.
I welcome your own observations.


For those of us who MUST drink carbonated beverages, soft drinks, soda, pop, soda pop, fizzy water, whatever you want to call them, what the hell is going on???

If you've been paying any attention, the price of "soda" we'll call it has shot up this year like a bottle rocket. Right now, retail price for a gallon of brand name soda, oh like Coca Cola or Pepsi, is hovering around 4 US dollars per gallon.  That's $1.99 per 2 liters.

The average retail price around here 12 months ago was $1.49 for brand name 2 liter.
It quickly jumped to $1.69 per two liter, and stayed there for nine months.  That first jump they blamed on a shortage of high fructose corn syrup.

Then, a couple months ago we started hearing rumblings that corn prices were beginning to shoot up, and there would not be enough corn produced to meet world demand.  The price shot up to $1.79 retail per two liter.

A few weeks ago, the news was full of "the corn harvest in US has been decimated by drought, hurricanes, rain, floods, many many factors, there will only be a 27 day surplus of corn to carry over into next year.  We were told farmers had planted more acres with corn this year than any other year since WWII, this was the second biggest crop planting in history, and yet weather had kept it from being a bumper crop.  They tell us for the world economy and corn in particular to stay stable, we must have more than 30 days surplus heading into the next year.

So bing, bang, boom - retail price around here shot up to $1.99 per 2 liter for brand name.  At the same time, brands started circulating "throwback" versions of their sodas using real sugar cane sugar instead of corn syrup.  People loved it, it caused a frenzy, but as the beverage industry discovered sales of soda did not plummet at $1.99 a 2 liter, they quickly pulled the real sugar versions so they could continue the high prices and blame it on a corn shortage.

Now.  Sale prices.   All through this time period, if you were willing to watch for loss leader sales and be patient and stock up, you could regularly find these very same 2 liter bottles of brand name soda for anywhere from 88 cents, to 99 cents, to $1.29, to even WalMarts "low low rollback price" of $1.49.    These sales occur often enough that if you were careful about your purchasing, you could keep a fair supply on hand at half retail price.  HALF.

Since people who are poor cannot afford $1.99 for 2 liters of cola, the beverage makers introduced a 1 liter bottle and priced it the same as an old two liter used to be.   Surprise surprise!  People are dumb.  People are desperate.  People are addicted.  However, if they can get a 42 ounce cola at McDonalds for a buck, or a 20 oz single for say 79 cents, then even poor gulllible addicts would not buy the one liter.  It was unnatural anyway, eeewwww!  *shiver*

So now, since they refuse to lower the retail price back down to less than $4 a gallon, they introduce the 1.5 liter bottle.
Whaaaaa????  What's this?  You see a display of them stuck in the frozen food aisle.  It looks like a two liter, but something is wrong.... something different.   You have nothing to compare it to visually, hence it's location away from all other sodas.  And the price.... $1.09 !!!  But wait a minute, the 2 liter bottles in my cart are "on sale" for $1.79.
Oww!  What is happening in my head?!  It HURTS!!!  I think it's MATH!!

Goshdammit, if I WANTED to do Math, I'd be a Rocket Surgeon!!!  OK, now I'm mad.  Hmm, let's do some cyperhin and gazinta's.... one times two carry the five, erase erase, plus three.... wait a minute!  If I divide the price of soda into half liters, there are three of them in this new 1.5 liter bottle, and therefore 1.09 divided by three equals ... equals....oh damn it let's just say 36 cents per half liter.  OK, now there are Four half liters in the 2 liter bottle.  $1.79 divided by four equals 45 cents per half liter.   So the 1.5 liter bottle costs the equivalent of $1.45 for two liters.  And the two liter on sale bottle is $1.79.

I quickly empty my basket of 2 liter bottles, ditching them in the freezer cabinets and load my basket with 1.5 liter bottles looking all around to see if anyone sees me.  Then I smugly rush to the checkout stand before someone discovers their mistake.  Only it's no mistake.  I'm STILL paying 50% MORE than I would if it were truly on sale as it will be if I just wait, but I think I'm getting away with MURDER.  Clever Clever soda companies.  Clever Clever retailers.  I even like the smaller diameter bottles, easier to hold.  Now I fully expect they will slowly raise the 1.5 liter price up until it costs even more per ounce than the 2 liter.  Just watch.  I bet you won't see them go on sale, either.  And poor people can afford $1.09, so you've brought them back into the loop.  And at that price, who would buy a generic crap soda 2 liter over the REAL THING 1.5 liter?

OK.  It's basically water that the beverage companies are sucking out of the Oglala Aquifer for free at a rate so high the Aquifer is sinking an inch a year, and it underlies all the states in the middle of the country all the way down to Mexico.  Farmers are upset because THEY were sucking that water out for irrigating scrub desert land in Kansas and Texas etc. and now our bottled water and soda guzzling habits are impacting them.  Forget about people who depend on wells for their water in large areas, they will soon be shoot out of luck.  OK, so they are depleting the aquifer in our lifetimes (well that part of it the oil drillers are not ruining by frakking) and then they are adding artificial COLOR that means DYE plus artificial sweeteners plus artificial flavors plus CO 2 carbonation, they force a large amount of carbon dioxide gas into the liquid to make it a "fizzy lifting drink" that tickles your nose and cuts throught the phlegm we all get from pollution.  Where do they get this CO 2 gas?  It's made industrially.  And no, the oxygen in it does not benefit you.  Then they add HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP as the main source of sweetness and taste.  They substtuted it into soda at the same time they put it in virtually every other food in the supermarket, years ago, because cane sugar was too expensive.  Corn was plentiful, cheap and government subsidized.  No matter it does not taste the same, and many people have low level corn syrup allergies.  This is why if you are in your forties or fifties, most the food you taste now tastes like crap compared to how it used to.  Oh, and the carbonation?  Dehyrdrates your body, acts as diuretic, and no study has ever been done large scale on the health effects of that much CO 2 gas going thru your body.  And the caffeine?  Well of course this is the main addiction for most people.  One of the most addictive drugs on the planet.

Don't even get me started on the tricks they use when listing how much caffeine is in a product.  They fudge it to make it look higher now than it is, since people want super caffeine.  Compare Coke Zero and Pepsi Max.  Pepsi Max measures their caffeine per 8 ounces.  Coke Zero measures theirs per 16 oz.!  Ta Da!  Divide it in half, and Coke Zero caffeine is no higher than regular Coke.  Insidious.

OK, back to my original complaint.
You can buy crude Vodka cheaper than chocolate milk.  You can buy beer cheaper than SODA. Even GASOLINE is cheaper per gallon.

HOW COME Always Save bottled drinking water is 99 cents a GALLON,
While beverage giant "drinking water" is 2 bucks or more a gallon?????  Especially when they come from same sources, or brand name is even worse?
And designer water, forget it?  Add so called caffeine or vitamins or flavor to water, forget it, same price as soda.

And the ELECTROLYTE LIES!!!  The only real decent usable source of electrolytes in a quantity to do your body a favor while drinking a reasonable amount of liquid is PEDIALYTE.  You drink a couple cups of Pedialyte a day, no more charlie horses, bye bye muscle cramps, your kidneys and liver say Ahhhhhhhh!, you become hydrated.  You would have to drink FIFTY BOTTLES of GATORADE to get the same electrolytes, but then you'd get a ton of sugar.  Powerade even worse.  None of the "sports drinks" that claim electrolytes even come CLOSE to gviing you enough to matter.  But people are dumb.  They believe the advertising.  Plus, pedialyte can taste like warm spit, Gatorade is sugary yumminess.

Well, I don't have any answers to all this.  If you find it possible to avoid soda or other rip off beverages in your life, then more power to you.  I don't know where it's all leading, but it will turn ugly one day.  You think people were pissed off when they could not obtain any food, just wait until billions of addicts can't get their SODA.

OutHouse Memories

Photo montage I made illustrating parts of an outhouse.

OUTHOUSE MEMORIES: Show of hands, how many actually used an old outhouse, the homemade wooden kind that stank and had pissants and catalog pages, not one of these portapetes or other modern contraptions that actually had toilet seats. Do you have any stories about same?

I used them at my grandparents farm, and other relatives in the Ozarks, and even a few behind ancient gas stations on long drives when a kid.

The moon symbol represented "night soil", so you knew this was the outhouse and not a shed. The hole in the ground was typically sloped back away from the buttholes so stuff would roll to the bottom. This made some outhouses tilt over time.

Eventually you had to move the outhouse and dig a new septic pit to set it over, fill in the old one. Kittens were known to fall in. Remember we didn't have running water or much

I remember that you needed to check for black widow spiders in the butt opening area so you wouldn't get bitten on the butt.  If piss ants were swarming around, you'd brush them
off best you could because they bite.  It stank to high heaven and was pretty hot inside usually, or freezing, so you didn't really want to stay long.

Too bad if you did not bring something to wipe with, or check to see if there was
anything there like toilet paper, or catalog pages, newspaper, dried corn cobs. (no, dried corn cobs are soft, not rough, they were saved after eating the corn and left to
dry out then put in a container in the outhouse).

Some people kept a ladle and little pot of lime in the outhouse to scoop into the pit to "sweeten" the smell and dissolve the poop.  A flyswatter was a good thing to hang in there,
lots of flies, and wasps and spiders.

Most outhouses were single holers, meant for one person at a time.  Sometimes you'd encounter a double holer, very fancy, for use in a large family or a business setting.  Very
rarely would there be his and hers.  very very fancy ones might have wooden toilet rim seats attached, that was rare.

The Sears mail order catalog was more like telephone book paper back then, not shiny slick paper, so it was good for wiping.

Teenagers would play "pranks" with Outhouses, especially on Halloween.  Sometimes the school principal's outhouse would wind up on the roof of the school or some such.

There were other names for the Outhouse, the Crapper, the John, the Privy, the Pissoir.

If it was dark, you better take a lantern or lamp or flashlight.  Most people did not go out
to the outhouse in the dark of the night, instead they kept a "honeypot", "honey jar", "slop jar" or other names for a container to poop and pee in, inside the house.  This was
usually a speckled enameled stock pot with handles and lid.

It might be kept under the bed, or on a porch.  People used it in the night, then dumped it in the outhouse during the daylight.  It stank really bad.  Sometimes people had old
chairs or rocking chairs with a big round hole cut in the chair seat, and just enough room for the honeypot to fit underneath.  That was someone too old or frail to squat over
the pot could sit in comfort while they went in doors.  One did not use the honeypot during the daytime, one went to the Outhouse.

There was a crude wooden latch on the Outhouse door, so you could keep someone else from opening the door on you.  I remember pissant bites are very painful.  There are only two sub types of ants that are attracted to urine and like to hang around outhouses and also bite.  They have a very specific look to their legs.

As neighborhoods started to become "citified", and towns wanted to outlaw pooping in a hole in the ground, and they got a city water supply for running water, they made people
slowly get rid of their outhouses and install bathrooms.  You either piped the poop out to a septic tank or cistern buried in the yard, and eventually when septic sewer lines were expanded you were forced to hook on to the septic sewer run by the locality, and help pay for it.  Many old yards have dangerous old cisterns or septic tanks ready to collapse if someone walks on them.  Children have died.  They should have passed laws to make them be filled in.  The difference between a Septic tank and cistern is that cisterns have no lateral drain lines to carry excess liquid away under the ground, you were expected to have them pumped out over time by a poop truck.  Septic tanks have pipes that allow excess yuck to spread out under the yard, and they only get pumped out if they clog up.

You can tell if an old house was on cistern or septic before sanitary sewers because the drain pipes and poop stacks exit the house just below ground level, instead of way down below the basement floor.    Or there might be the holes in the basement wall where the poop pipes originally went out to the back yard.

I may post more info about outhouses if anyone is interested.  For instance they are wildly different around the world.  Troops during WWII sometimes constructed "latrines" with twenty or more seats in a row, hanging over the edge of a steep cliff, etc.  I'm afraid that there are not that many people left alive now who actively used outhouses or at least remember them.  We need to capture this important part of the zeitgeist before it's all gone
and no one can remember how people pooped before talking spritzing diagnosing washing air drying singing japanese space toilets.

Copyright 2011 VROUK