Original Radioactive Jam

Just a dollop, on a donut with SPAM® Spread* ==>==>==> We've moved!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Working In Escher's World

"Up's down, down is out, out is in"*
How do I know when my associates have been fully conditioned to accept my customary mixed-color footwear? When I show up for work in these:
and the reaction is, "Hey...your shoes match. Is something wrong?"

* Escher's World, Steve Taylor / Chagall Guevara

Monday, August 29, 2005

Loose Cannons

Help Wanted: Spin Doctors. Immediate openings.
Last week the Louisiana director of the ACLU made some interesting statements while speaking to a local news crew, summarized thusly in one headline:

ACLU director compares mindset of Tangipahoa school prayer supporters with terrorists

Here's a link to a later article in which the director apologized for his "hyperbole." [link]

I think this balances nicely with Pat Robertson's recent suggestion to have a Venezuelan leader assassinated. Both made outlandish statements, both have since apologized. Score this round as a draw, maybe?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pardon Our Dust

They've been experimenting on you I'm afraid.
Not content to leave well enough alone, I'm playing with a new bug feature: showing post summaries or "snippets" by default, with a link to see the post in its entirety.

Not the Momma snippet! (Click to see full post)

Not. For details see my explanation in comment #9.**

Yet another update: IE issue now resolved. I think.

This may prove to be more trouble than it's worth. For one thing I haven't figured out how to not present the "See The Rest" link on non-snippeted posts. This doesn't hurt anything, but it implies there's more to the post than what you initally see.* Another side-effect: you'll have to click something - the "Home" link, the weblog title, your browser's "Back" button or equivalent to see all that other great stuff here.*

Anyway I want to try this for a bit, see how it goes. Please let me know if you like it, hate it, don't much care one way or another, etc. Especially etc.

Thanks, folks!

UPDATE I re-read the Blogger Help page where I found this trick; they mention one of the side-effects I noted. Ha, ha, ha. It is to laugh.
Disadvantages: Requires changes to the posts themselves, rather than to the template only. However, the "read more" link is in the template, so it will appear regardless of whether a post has been truncated or not. (Modifying this feature is left as an exercise for the reader.)
YET ANOTHER UPDATE Found a solution to the aforementioned exercise. Happy, I am.
* These statements are not invitations to offer commental abuse. You don't need an invitation for that sort of thing. :)
** Anyone else automatically think of The Beatles upon seeing a reference to "number 9?"

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Syar: One in a Thousand - All Done

Underestimated? Yes. Undervalued? No. I had a lot of fun with this, hope you do too.

At 8:36PM EDT on August 18, 2005 the stat counter keeping tabs on the virtual ephemera of Radioactive Jam recorded visitor number 1000. Congratulations and thanks go to... Syar!

Since Radioactive Jam t-shirts are still dematerialized I decided to give Syar a different kind of prize.¹ Enjoy!
¹ Same for nos. 5000 and 10000? I think not.
(A)WAR(D) Of The Words
1000 words dedicated to Syar

"This was supposed to be... an ordinary... day," Syar said, trying to catch her breath. Her mute companion briefly looked up but offered no reply.
Not the Momma snippet! (Click to see full post) Still winded, Syar glanced at the object of her friend’s attention: an elaborately carved, brightly painted five-foot high pole, roughly a foot in diameter. She had literally stumbled upon the pole an hour earlier; Syar's initial curiosity, put on hold by the sudden appearance of the penguin, began to reassert itself. How did something so ornate end up in this frozen wasteland, Syar wondered. For that matter, how did we? All her bitterness and dismay came rushing back. “Not ‘how’,” she muttered. Syar clenched her fist, faced the cobalt sky and challenged, “Why?!”

No answer. “Right,” she said. “Just another test.” She lowered her eyes and slowly turned to view the snow and ice surrounding her, an unbroken expanse of near-featureless white stretching to the horizon in all directions. The scene held a terrifying beauty. With a conscious effort she pushed aside fear and resentment, and silently reaffirmed her will to survive. The sight of footprints on the snow brought a pang of guilt, and reminded her she wasn’t the only one battling the elements in this frigid place. As the wind resumed its pitiless assault, Syar turned away from the stinging cloud of ice crystals and joined her silent friend near the mysterious pole.

“Any guesses, Nadia?” Syar asked. “Have you seen one of these before?” Again the penguin looked at Syar for a moment, but offered no reply. Syar smiled. Despite the relentless wind driving through her skin, that ephemeral vampire piercing her, feeding, stealing warmth and leaving ice, Syar knew her dear friend would keep her safe and lead her home.

Something seemed wrong, though. She felt the thought begin to take form, but lost it. Syar began to shiver. Trembling, teeth chattering, she tried to focus on the strange totem-like object standing before her.

An hour ago when she’d first seen the pole, she hardly noticed the cold; the wind’s touch had been a silken caress. She had moved close to the pole, and had reached out to touch it when she noticed the penguin standing just beyond the pole. She took a step backward in surprise; where had the bird come from? Had it been standing behind the pole? No. Syar was sure she’d walked around the pole at least once; there was no way she’d have missed seeing the creature. She was working on this curious puzzle when she heard Nadia call her name.

“Syar?” Nadia said. “I’m here. Oh Syar, listen--”

“Nadia?” Syar shouted and whirled about, looking for her friend. “Where are you? Nadia!” Desperate and elated, Syar zig-zagged in short, frantic bursts, but soon slowed to a halt. “Where are you? Why can’t I see you?”

“I’m not leaving you, Syar,” said Nadia. Syar’s hopes rose again, then fell; except for the pole and the still-unexplained penguin, she stood alone on this field of snow.

…The penguin? Syar almost laughed out loud. Great. I’m cracking up, she thought. Is this how the world looks when you lose your mind? Endless snow and a totem pole, with a penguin channeling your best friend? Surrendering to the absurdity, Syar shook her head, looked at the motionless penguin and said, “Why not?” Her strength drained, she sat down on the snow and leaned against the pole.

As her back touched the pole, three things happened. First, she was startled to realize the pole felt hot. Not stove-top or flame hot, but warm enough to cause her to push away from the pole and jump to her feet. Second, as she rose she heard Nadia call her name. Third, the penguin began to run, away from Syar and the pole. Feeling confused and driven by reflex, Syar started running, meaning to catch the penguin or at least keep the bird in sight.

Almost immediately sharp pains caused her to break stride. She felt as if her lungs had turned into tiny, weak balloons, filled with fire and ice instead of air. Syar slowed, stopped and stooped low, trying to catch her breath. This was not good; whether from breathing this super-chilled air or some unknown cause, her usual triathlon-capable wind and endurance were nowhere to be found. After a moment she turned and headed for the now-appealing warmth of the strange pole.

Vision is a funny sense. The visual cortex is easily fooled by persistence tricks and distorted perspectives. Sometimes the mind simply refuses to accept unexpected input. At some unconscious level Syar understood this phenomenon might explain why she continued to walk toward a nonexistent – or at least no longer visible – pole. Though it seemed much longer, in reality she’d only taken a few steps before she realized there was no pole in this direction. Assuming she was disoriented she turned a circle, then another; no pole. She noticed her penguin-friend had stopped running, and almost seemed to be waiting for Syar to follow again. After one more fruitless scan, Syar started walking toward the bird who in turn walked away from her, leading them both…somewhere. Maybe.

“Hey! Chilly Willy! Do you know where you’re going, or are we just out for a stroll?” For a moment she thought she heard Nadia answer, but decided it must have been the wind.

They traveled thus together-apart, trudging through unblemished snow, the stoic penguin with the weakening girl a short distance behind. They walked for about an hour, she guessed; the accuracy of her internal clock was legendary. Or was it? She felt as though she had been forced off-course, out of her fast-moving yet familiar currents, slipping into dark, numbing pools of uncertainty and doubt. She imagined vague predators lurking, waiting for her to weaken further. Resisting the urge to give up, she continued to tread water in these pools. More than once she shouted, pinched her arm, slapped her cheek just to feel a twinge of reality-affirming pain or hear a human voice. When she finally saw the pole ahead she was at once surprised, elated, and relieved; she broke into a run. The penguin was waiting when she reached the pole. Thus she stood panting, out of breath from her brief final run.

Syar reviewed these events, trying to capture the elusive sense of something out of place, something not quite right. She told herself to relax, to look with eyes unfocused, see what seemed to resist observation. In a moment she knew the answer: this was not the same pole.

Like a diver’s splash and waves fading to ripples, this initially disturbing realization quickly settled, smoothed by hopeful pragmatism in Syar’s mind. “As long as it’s warm like the other one,” she murmured. Carefully she placed her hand against the pole; this one also emanated the warmth her body desperately needed to absorb. Syar knelt on the snow, wrapped her arms around the object and held herself against it.

The pole’s heat seemed to drive the chill from her, working from the inside out; she hardly noticed. She felt exhausted, and thought she might be able to fall asleep hugging the pole. She closed her eyes, wanting heat and rest. For some reason the penguin became quite agitated when she did this; it hopped and hooted by her side. Was it trying to get her attention? The bird’s antics barely registered in Syar’s mind. She briefly wondered about the mysterious poles: how did the first one vanish? Was this really a different one, or had the first one somehow moved? Thinking took more effort than she cared to muster, so she prepared to stop. “Who cares if there’s more than one pole, or if the things can walk around?” Her voice was slurred, then she gave a weak laugh. “Guess a pole would hop, not walk… Whatever. Not exactly earth-shattering either way.”

As the words left her mouth Syar felt a deep, rippling vibration flow through the snow beneath her legs. This sensation was followed by a powerful cracking sound then more vibration, stronger now. In a daze, she pushed herself away from the pole and looked around; everything had changed.

She heard Nadia shouting, sobbing: “It’s breaking! Syar – Oh God! It’s broken!” She sounded far away. Still dazed, Syar couldn’t find the penguin at first; her world had indeed fractured into dozens of snow-ice masses, slowly drifting apart on a blue-black sea. Using the pole for support she stood to get a better view. She finally spotted the penguin on an “island” some distance from her own, already unreachable.

Fatalistic thoughts took form and sought control. She sat down hard a few feet away from the pole, no longer interested in trying to stay warm. Syar considered the possibility that she might soon draw her last breath in this inescapable frozen waste. She did not fear dying; she cherished life yet viewed it as a souvenir, something she would remember when her days in this temporal form came to an end. Yet she knew the ache of Things Not Done, and could not deny she wanted more days, years… more time, with her family, her friends, her inimitable posse. How deeply she would miss – she turned suddenly, her morose contemplations interrupted by several different sounds. The noise of something falling and splashing into water dominated the sudden auditory barrage.

It was Nadia the penguin, of course. But now she saw more penguins. Five? Ten? She couldn’t count. They seemed to maintain constant motion: diving, surfacing, swimming, climbing. Then she realized what the other sounds were; hearing her Ragamuffins she leapt to her feet and ran to the water’s edge.

Confusion, joy and sadness overwhelmed her; Syar found herself unable to speak. The only thing she wanted was the one she couldn’t have: to somehow rejoin her friends. She stood at the edge of life, of relative safety and of despair. More than anything Syar hated change; she saw the grim irony of this triangle, this three-edged precipice before her. If nothing changed she would certainly despair and most likely die. There was no safe escape from all three.

“Help me, Nadia,” she pleaded.

“We can’t fight change, Syar. It’s just no good,” said Nadia. “Change always wins in the end. All we can do is stay focused on what matters most. When those things change, we’ll still be able to recognize them. Then we figure out the rest.”

“When did you become so wise, my friend?” Syar asked, her voice breaking. I can’t bear this pain.

“What made you decide to notice?” Came the sweet, sarcastic reply. Syar had been fairly certain a penguin’s facial muscles weren’t capable of delivering a smile; apparently she was mistaken.

Despair reared its head. “Why did this have to happen?!” Still unwilling to accept her fate, Syar directed her bitter challenge skyward.

Nadia replied, “It had to break, Syar. There was no other way.” She paused, then added softly, “But I stayed focused on you.”

Syar felt a lump form in her throat, but her eyes remained dry. And suddenly she knew what she needed to do. She might not defeat change, but she could certainly fight. What’s the most effective way to battle change? She asked herself. Answer: do the most unexpected thing. Syar tensed, then dove headfirst into the freezing sea.

Immediately she tried to rotate, to turn and face the surface. She wanted to see the water from her splash fall back into the whole, watch her waves fade to ripples as she slowly dropped to pain-free depths. Instead she found herself spinning, whirling like a skater or a football in a tight spiral flight. In fact she felt more like an airborne football than a sinking, drowning girl. She arched her back and felt herself begin to tumble. Trying to regain control she flailed her arms; she saw a flipper strike her feathered chest.

Syar had also been fairly certain a penguin could not scream under water; again she was mistaken. She finally righted herself and managed to swim a slow loop. Then she spotted Nadia, and the other penguins she’d recognized as friends. She decided to accept this most unexpected change, relaxed and quickly found her wings, so to speak, and swam to join the others. Syar learned the joy, grace and beauty of life as an aquatic bird. A penguin might be flightless in air, but few creatures match their ability to “fly” under water. Syar and her penguin posse rocketed up and down, dove hundreds of meters and enjoyed a sense of freedom and fulfillment of purpose unparalleled on the surface world.

It seemed like only a few moments had passed when Nadia swam beside her and said, “You need to surface now, and breathe air again.” Syar understood this; a penguin can stay submerged a long time on a single “breath,” but she had no need to push her physical limits. She directed her torpedo-like body toward the faint glow overhead and quickly ascended. With a final flex and thrust, Syar broke the surface…


“…her fever broke. I screamed and nurses came running. They thought she died or something. She went right to sleep, so we've still been taking turns in here." Nadia’s voice.

Syar kept her eyes closed. As she “swam” back from the depths of a much-needed restful sleep, she considered her vivid memories. She could only begin to guess what must have really happened, but this did not concern her. She was right where she belonged, right now. She knew every person in the unfamiliar-feeling room, knew their names, their chattering voices, their hopes and dreams, how they appeared, even where they stood. These dear ones knew her as well, and this was as it should be. Let changes come; she and her friends would stay focused on what mattered most. With a weak smile, Syar opened her eyes.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why I Love Gmail Sponsor Links

love is a many-sponsored thing
You're familiar with Blogger's email-on-comment feature, yes? When someone leaves a comment, I get a copy in my gmail account. If you use gmail you're also familiar with Sponsored Links (SLs): sidebar ads related to something within each open email. Okay. So Demosthenes left a couple comments on the Syar's Story post. Here's two of the SLs gmail thought I needed to see based on Demosthenes' first comment:
Not the Momma snippet! (Click to see full post)

  • Is He In Love With You? If you're asking that question, here's what you need to know: www.lovetactics.com
  • On the edge of a breakup? How to decide whether to stay or whether to leave. www.loveisnotagame.com
Let's be clear on this. For the first one: I do not know, but I am not asking, therefore I neither need nor want to know. For the second, sorry - no. Read his first comment (14th of the "Story" post) and see if you can guess why these links surfaced.

His second comment triggered multiple SLs for "HairMax Laser Comb," which "Thickens hair at home" and boasts(?!) a "90% User Satisfaction." This raises several questions.
  • Is HairMax Laser Comb truly the best SL for the word "max?"
  • What happens to LaserComb-thickened hair away from home?
  • 90%?!
The real joke: I keep my hair stubble-short.

If only all SLs were this amusingly bizarre. Then again...what kind of SLs do you see?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Quality Time

from the why-are-you-still-here dept.
Busy, work-filled workdays for the likes of me (I know, can you believe it?). In a way this is good, though: my posting suffers, so you don't. Suffer. Quite so much. Silliness. But I digress. Here's some weblogs you might not - but definitely should - be reading:
Great, great stuff. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

For a Change of Mind

blue brain wash rules, red kind of sucks. JMO.
This is what I'm talking about. In a word, "yummy!"

Only one more bottle; I'm saving it for a TBD special occasion.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Captions, Anyone?

Found this image in a Consumer Reports testing archive. Thought it might be fun to make up some captions.
Such as, "Amidala's hair care secrets - revealed at last!"

Monday, August 15, 2005

Does This Look Impacted?

aka death grip
People¹ have said my "technique" for holding a pen is "wrong." Does this look "wrong" to you? Do you hold a pen in a different way?

¹ i.e. my generally supportive but occasionally savage immediate family.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cate Starts Yet Another Meme

oh freddled gruntbuggly thy micturations are to me
This depicts when I'll propagate another so-called meme, I told myself.

Then on a recent visit to Cate's weblog I noticed a simple yet profound deviation from Raj-normal: her comment timestamps showed more than hh:mm. I don't like the terse view but hadn't thought much about alternatives. Until I noticed Cate's nicely expanded format. Immediately overcome with format envy I readied myself to search the entire digital universe if necessary to learn The Trick! Unfortunately I thought to check Blogger's Settings first and found the annoyingly simple answer.

So now, just because Cate did something on her weblog, I've done something similar here. As will some of you, I suspect. Meme.

In closing I want to say I pretty much like Blogger better than Microsoft. The End.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bring on the Flu

good fer what ails ya
I can't wait to see the television commercial weenies take a crack at this one, found on Ananova. Yes. An amazing "ancient cough medicine recipe" made from... snail slime. I'm already cured of any potential cough; just thinking about this whole thing is killing me.

Is it just me or does anyone else have nagging doubts about the credentials of whomever translated this "recipe?" First scary part: not only does a company make such a product. Someone apparently buys this stuff. Pays. For. Snail. Slime. "Oh, what a world! What a world!" - WWotW

The factory owner says she has "more than 8500 snails working." This is the part where my mind starts to spin out of control. Somebody call PETA! Wait, snails aren't animals. PETM? No. Maybe they like their jobs. This is the part where you start to imagine things like job descriptions, resumes, break rooms, and WorkMollusk's Comp. Do they have management positions? Do promising candidates get put on the Fast Track? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Do they have a workers union? Picture them on strike, in their little picket lines holding signs that say stuff like "Unfair To Local 12 VTSU"¹ (with of course a different meaning for at least the 'S'). And if the fast-track managers can't maintain production, will they resort to hiring "scabs?" No. They'll bring in... slugs!

Whew. You probably can't tell but I'm actually kind of enjoying this. Finally we come to the most puzzling part of the story: flavoring. The first question is obvious: why use any flavoring at all? I find it inconceivable to think anyone willing to pay for orally administered processed snail slime will quibble about how it tastes. What are they going to do, return it?
Customer: I didn't like the way it tasted.
Merchant: You bought Snail Slime, you moron! Ha-ha just kidding, no offense. Also no refunds, sorry. Try these Snail Slime caplets instead, they cost more but they're better.
Customer: (pays, smiles) Thanks!

The second question is also my last one. After they decided to add artificial flavorings to their Snail Slime product line, how did they conclude avocado should be one of them? I think maybe they misfiled the results from the Flavor Focus Group working on their next snail slime product, rumored to be a predictably effective emetic.

Or maybe one of the fast-track managers took over the marketing department. Would have been a hostile takeover, of course. A real... slugfest.

¹ If you "get" this admittedly obscure reference without resorting to Google (be honest!) let me know. I will gladly write a post in your honor and heap lavish praise upon you.

Friday, August 05, 2005

O Sole Mio

it’s not too late to stop reading this for the love of Ethelbert stop
The one and only Scroobious Scrivener recently posted a shoe revue, then invited her readers to do the same¹. Her Five Questions: How many pairs? Most expensive pair? Cheapest? Last shoes bought? How many shoes under your work desk?

Since “thorough shoe inventory” was on this weekend’s to-do list I decided to check it off a little early and emit the results. I think you’ll agree this is a fairly typical catalog, much the same as what you’d find in any guy’s closet.
1. How many pairs?
Okay. I distinctly remember none of my teachers ever writing report card commentary like "Good at following directions" or equivalent. So I'm going to summarize my answers to pretty much all five questions with a single photo. You can click the pic below for a bigger view.
And let's not dwell on conventional metrics like "number of pairs²". Look at these through my eyes and instead of mere pairs you'll see... combinations. Yeah. There's a lot of possibilities here. :->

¹ "Follow in her footsteps" - apropos, but too predictable.
² Um. Nineteen I think.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Opportunistic Little Monkey

i think we all saw this coming
Demosthenes should have known better than to announce his absence. Looks like the little yellow monkey has taken their conflict to the next level.

Update: In case the link doesn't work for you, here's a snapshot I managed to capture.

Relief efforts are already underway. If you're interested in supplying virtual aid and assistance, please comment accordingly.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Contrast And Brightness

think of it as intermission
(Note: a reader's comment prompted me to review this post. Looking with "afternoon" eyes I saw an unintended stridency, unfounded opinion and a fairly strong bias. So I changed a few things. What's here now is better, I think; hope so anyway. If you want to see the post in its original form - too bad. It's gone¹. Eaten by monkeys, of course.
Around here we promote and enjoy silliness, mostly. But sometimes "real" and/or serious items deserve a look from our admittedly limited attention span. Case in point: some stories on the subject of terrorism.

First up is this article titled "Terrorism, Islam, reform: thinking the unthinkable." The writer - Maruf Khwaja, a journalist living in the UK - gives what looks to me like a clear and compelling assessment of what must be done by "only Muslims themselves" to bring about a "long-term answer to terrorism in its Islamic guise."

I admit to having felt a glimmer of optimism after reading his essay; then I saw this bit of news: "Iranian president praises suicide terror." The article linked to another from early July, titled '40,000 time bombs in Iran', a story about Al-Arabiya TV station broadcasting an Iranian suicide bomber recruitment drive.

Goodbye glimmer, I thought. Then I considered some things. First, the two arguably inflammatory articles were posted on ynetnews.com, part of "Israel's leading web news site." Please understand: I pretty much can't be anti-Semitic (think it over, you'll get it). I call attention to the source not to disparage but to suggest considering the impact of perspective on any story. Israelis and Arabs share at least one thing: a deep, lifelong distrust of their enemy.

I watched the video clip, with its translated subtitles. I saw its gathering of would-be suicide bombers. Then again I might have been watching a wholly-staged propaganda film, "leaked" to adversaries for God only knows what hidden reasons.

Here's what I do know, or rather who: a number of Muslims, none of whom attended the videotaped rally. Do you understand what I mean by this? I hope so. Are there volatile, dangerous problems challenging people the world over? Yes. Do suicide bombers attack innocent people? Yes. Does "something" need to change within the Muslim world to end these attacks? Maruf Khwaja says yes. Do Muslims as people and Islam as faith define, personify and exist as the embodiment of The Problem?

Let's just say people who think that last statement is true scare me way more than the aforelinked video clip. No offense but if you think "Muslims" are The Problem, I feel sorry for you and kind of hope you're interested in starting your own colony on Mars. Soon.

Compared to a mindset intent on blaming entire societies for the heinous acts of an empowered few, a saga chronicling the antics of a wild toy monkey starts to seem not only tame...but sane.

¹ This is where I encourage you to accept small disappointments and get on with life, not where you find the earlier text. Sorry.

Monday, August 01, 2005


these things usually turn ugly
Interesting how some Brits send birthday greetings. Headline of a recent BBC article:
Pratchett takes swipe at Rowling

This sort of brutal, senseless and possibly unprovoked Ad Hominem tongue¹-lashing could adversely affect Ms. Rowling's ability to complete her crucial seventh novel, tentatively titled Harry Potter and the TBD.

Writing book No. 7 will be hard enough, considering what unfolded in book No. 6².
¹ -in-cheek. Relax. Take deep breaths.
² My all-time favorite HP review.

Give Peas A Chance

not sprouts though.
A generally reliable source has published this report on escalating hostilities involving the little yellow monkey.

This might be a good time to lock & load. Or panic. Or perhaps both.