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Hot enough for ya?

They even look like little diablos…

 

News item: Man hospitalized after eating the world’s hottest pepper.

According to an article I read on Cnn.com – a 34-year-old man experienced a series of intense headaches and dry heaving after eating a Carolina Reaper, reportedly the hottest pepper in the world. the man developed excruciating pain in his head and neck, prompting him to go to an emergency room, according to an article published Monday in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

The word ‘reaper’ is in the very name of the damn thing. Did he actually expect a satisfying culinary experience?

What, exactly, would prompt a person to eat something toted as ‘the world’s hottest…anything’? I used to like hot peppers, but I would stop at a cherry pepper or jalapeno. No sense going any further. I used to like Tabasco sauce, too. But you wouldn’t catch me near a bottle of Zydeco Molten Lava Insanity sauce. Who needs that kind of discomfort? What are you trying to achieve?

the ol’ man likes to grow hot peppers. I recall this one crop – they were dark purple, like miniature eggplants. They stuck out at odd angles from their stems. Right there I knew they were dangerous, but how bad could they be, really? I plucked one and cut the very tip off with my pocket knife. I touched the cut end to the tip of my tongue, {{ding}}, just for a split second. The heat (I would say it was more like ‘burning sensation’) began in about 2 seconds, steadily spread across my tongue, throughout my mouth and down my throat. I developed a headache. I drank copies amounts of beer to wash out the toxin (wait, that might have been before the pepper…) and I never did it again.

When it comes to hot peppers, there are some clues to foretell danger. Smooth skin and rich coloring will usually signal heat. But folds, crevasses and odd colors indicate danger. the Carolina Reaper, when fully ripe is a wrinkly and shriveled looking pepper that glows a satanic red and sports a pointy tail. Surely it is cringing under its own Scovilles. Who needs a crystal ball to portend the qualities of something like that?

Furthermore, who is cross breeding these things and developing new species, the demonic Monsanto Corporation? Ironically, no. It is the PuckerButt Pepper Company (no shit).

And remember: If it burns that much on the way in, it sure as hell is going to burn on the way out.

How are you going to quench that heat?

Fire hiney!

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The Russians did what?

Virst, push rock. Then I vill crack you vith my Swiffer!

The Russian curling team was charged with doping. This sounded so bizarre to me that I had to do some research.

And comment, of course.

Russians at the Olympics and cheating go together like mac and cheese. Like politicians and lying. We all know the Russians cheat. They’ve been doing it for years. We don’t even question it any longer, it’s a given. Did the Russians’ cheat this year? Does a bear crap in the woods?

Commrade Svishchev (the head cheese of Russky curling) said it was possible that an athlete’s food or drink had been spiked with meldonium and suggested that rival Russian athletes or Russia’s political enemies could be responsible.

What are you trying to say, exactly? That the Russian figure skating team was jealous of the curling team and slipped them a mickey when they weren’t looking?

Yeah, we’re not buying it.

I don’t wish to offend anyone, least of all the American Curling teams (Congratulations!), but I just don’t think this needs to be an Olympic sport. I will say that, unlike the many versions of figure skating I have to suffer through, I do like that that this game is judged on a point basis, as opposed to the opinions of several judges from other countries that may, or may not, like us.

But the notion of a curler having to ‘bulk up’ is a tough sell. Seems to me that the curling folks are the only Olympic team that can excel at their chosen sport while still sporting a beer gut. (and that right there might be reason enough for me to try out).

The Russian coach tried to defend his team by saying that pushing the polished rock over the slick ice and sweeping the slick ice with the Swiffer are actually hard work. By training hard and working out it is somehow made easier.

And I bet wearing those sneakers is difficult, as well.

I have done a lot of sweeping in my time – floors, decks, driveways, patios – and, although not my favorite chore, I certainly have not much more than worked up light sweat. And then only on a hot summer day.

So, again, no sale.

Is winning a medal at the Olympics really so important to a country that they need to resort to illegal tactics to get an unfair advantage? If the answer is yes, then put more time into training your people. The games are about fair play and sportsmanship. No one cares about you flaunting the size of your rocks…or your Swiffer.


The Bee Zoofer

Necessity is the mother of invention.

 

The yellow zap icon indicates where the entrance to the hive is

 

And what a mother it can be.

I try to keep the compound safe for myself and others. I am watchful for hazards and remediate them as quickly as possible. I was sizing up this big arborvitae that needed some trimming when I noticed a yellow-jacket hive beneath the lower branches.

As I have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, (Bumbles) I dislike flying, stinging insects. Judging by the location of the nest, I could easily see myself getting stung (perhaps multiple times) while mindlessly cutting the grass. Or worse, one of my children or grandchildren suffering the same.

Yikes. No bueno.

I began with standard eradication methods – soaking the entrance hole with a couple of gallons of water-based insecticide. After a few days I could see that wasn’t having the desired effect. Not enough bees were contacting the poison and the leaf litter was sponging up the deadly liquid before it reached the core of the nest.

How could I ambush (bushwhack) the little bastards on their entrance/exit without standing there all damn day?

Enter The Bee Zoofer. (patent pending).

The Bee Zoofer  is a shop vacuum set strategically at the entrance to the bee hive. As each individual bee either exits and tries to take flight, or hovers in for a landing, it gets caught in the suction and…zzz-ZZOOOF! gets sucked into the vacuum. Neat, clean and effortless. The captured bees are bounced around violently inside the vacuum drum, which I believe kills them quickly. To be sure, however, I leave the vacuum alone for a few days before emptying it out, just to be certain.

The most difficult part of deploying the Bee Zoofer is the proper placement of the business end. You need to place the nozzle right beside the entrance hole. That can be a touchy proposition with the rapid comings and goings of an active hive. Once in place, however, you just press the ‘ON’ button and walk away. Of course, it is entertaining enough to watch, for a little while.

Initially, I left the Bee Zoofer running for about 3 hours. Activity in and around the nest certainly slowed down, but the next day it was back to pre-Zoofer levels. I then ran the Zoofer for two sessions of 2 hours each (to allow the shop vac to cool down). Again, activity slowed to nill.

My aim was to reduce the population of bees until the hive could no longer support itself and collapse. Surely any bees that were left are coming back to an empty nest. I could picture their reaction –
‘Hey…WHERE THE HELL IS EVERYBODY??’

But that wasn’t the case. Either the hive was much larger than I thought, or bee reproduction was ramped up to meet demand. So I turned on the Bee Zoofer and procured a long pole and proceeded to poke at the nest from afar. This produced the desired effect of an attack, which also put many more bees into the suction flow. (Full disclosure – I got stung once, on my arm. Aparantly one of the little bastards avoided getting sucked in and went on a large, circular hunt that ended with me. That is what you get from farking with a bee hive).

 


The Gutter Zoofer

 

Once a year I turn my attention to cleaning out the gutters on the house. I usually do this by scooping up the old leaves, dead bugs, particulate matter the roof sloughed off and other crap with a gloved hand and bagging it. It takes much longer than I would like.

This year I set my mind to finding a better way. Somehow I managed to put two-and-two together and cast a thoughtful eye towards my trusty leaf blower. The leaf blower is by no means a one trick pony. It moves a lot of air with little to no effort. I have used it to flush varmints out of the drainage pipe, antogonize groundhogs in their holes and dry paint. I have also used it to get a hot fire going faster than you can say ‘what the fark is he going to do with that?’

At first, I blew out the gutters that were within my easy reach. However, there exists a second level that I have not ever cleaned out becuase it is above my head. There also does not exist a safe method for me to get up to the second story gutters around the house and as such, the accumulation of afore mentioned crap had built up to the point where grass was growing in the gutter.

When grass is growing in your gutters, mi amigos, it’s time to clean them out.

If you have ever purchased a new leaf blower you will notice that most come with a bag and attachments for SUCKING leaves up (as opposed to BLOWING them. As such, the leaf blower is a device that both sucks and blows). I have never used that feature, although I should look into it for some of those tight spots around the shrubs.

One of the attachments is a big curved tube, almost half of an oval. It reminds me of a large wind instument – tuba or saxaphone.

My initial thinking was that if it fit (somehow) for sucking, then maybe it will also fit on the business end for blowing.

Well, not exactly the fit I that I needed. Enter the purple duck tape. Now, before I have to listen to a whole chorus of caterwalling about the proper termination of DUCT vs. DUCK tape let me say this: DUCT tape is silver. It is made by one or two companies and has been around for a long time. DUCK tape comes in many, many colors and was born out of the mispronounciation of DUCT tape by the unenlightened. More on that at another time. This was purple DUCK tape and it did the job nicely – that being holding the black hunk of curved tubing onto the end of the leaf blower and thus turning it into –

The Gutter Zoofer (patent pending).

I clambered out onto the roof, fired up the engine and went to work.

The first thing that I noticed was that it worked well. The second thing I noticed (becasue I am very observant) was that it would have been good to outfit myself with goggles – and a face mask and a hat. The Gutter Zoofer moved a lot of crap, very efficiently, but it moved it ontop of me.

However, I had the gutters cleaned inside of 10 minutes and I didn’t have to perform any hight challenging theatrics or unsafe ladder tricks.

Good until next year.


Just leave snakes alone

 

Wasn’t this enough of a hint?

This Public Service Announcement is brought to you from an article on CNN.com (6/29/2017).

Up to 70% of reptile bites are provoked by the person bitten, based on cases seen by the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

That does not surprise me, nor any of the Bird Crew, I am sure. Each one of us has done our share of antagonizing reptiles (amphibians, mammals, birds, insects and just about anything else that can be found crawling, walking, flying or swimming in the northeastern US). I don’t know why, exactly, but it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Arizona has more, and more deadly species, for sure. But I have not seen very many animals unfortunate enough to cross the path of a gang of teenage boys escape unscathed.

“Most of them tend to be males under the age of 25 who have been drinking …

Holy shitake, stop the press! Under 25 and drinking?!

“…they’re out there messing around with snakes doing some dumb stuff,” said Goode. (Matthew Goode, a research scientist in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona)

 What I like best about this article is that, much like a well written poem or haiku, Mr. Goode was able to convey the entirety of his message with a minimum of well chosen words. Two properly constructed sentences, actually, that cover all of the ground most of us guys (and quite a few girls) know from experience.

Messing around with snakes is dumb, no argument there. But a snake basking on the side of a trail or swimming by when you are fishing is just asking for trouble. It’s not unlike waving a red flag at a bull. It prompts action.

And the addition of alcohol? That is just fanning the flames.

“Hey Birdwell! There’s a cot-danged rabble snake over here in the ditch. Grab me a stick…and another beer…”

That was in my younger years. These days I am much kinder and softer of heart to the local fauna. Just ask the 4-foot black snake that I uncovered while turning over the mulch pile with my pitch fork. I could have easily (and safely) skewered it, skinned it’s scaly hide and rendered it’s bones (for the collection). But I refrained.

Because I like rodents even less. And snakes eat rodents.

Like a lot of things in life, the hard lessons are the best lessons. I consider myself indeed fortunate to have all fingers and toes intact. It doesn’t matter much if the object of your scorn is lacking legs or not. If it has a head and teeth, watch the fark out.

 

 

 

 


The {{{ping}}} of DEATH

An anecdote from the debris strewn shoulder of the information highway.

Well, maybe from the roadcrew who works on the info hightway. Either way, this will be a tale of digirati that those of you versed in the use of command line tools, open ports, internet access and hackers et al may well identify with.

For those of you not so versed, I will put things into laymens terms as only I can.

‘Ping’, in the computer world, is a utility (tool, command) that checks to see if another computer is online and responding. You can equate it to shouting “Hey!” at someone down the hallway and them saying “Yo!” in reply. It always struck me as sort of an echo-like term, sort of an electronic equivalent of that sound the sonar makes in submarine movies. {{{ping}}}

Also, understand that connecting a computer to the internet these days is a lot safer and easier than it was, even a few years ago. Today, your Internet Service Provider (ISP, Comcast, cablevision, Sprint, AT&T, etc.) provide some level of security and monitoring to prevent malicious folk from running amok (roughshod) about the place and causing mahem, chaos, discontent, aggrivation, irreveerance, indigestion, agita, hair loss, irritable bowel syndrome… you get the picture.

But back when I was under the tutilage of the Dingo, things were still fairly unprotected. Not unlike a drunken hot tub party in the 80’s and we all know where that went.

The Dingo and I were fast getting a new office online, when our network monitoring application notified us that someone was scanning our ports. (Intruder Alert!) A port scan is an application the gropes the router in all of its errogenous zones looking for a way inside the network. That is to say, trying the doors and windows to see if anything was unlocked so that the malferous could enter and cause mahem, chaos, discontent, aggrivation…you get it, right?

Our first inclination was to shut down the router and force this jamoke to find other, easier fish to fry. But that would also blow all of our people in the office off the wire and that would create more people who would be experiencing the aforementioned bodily discomfort, which would then result in them projectile vomiting those ills upon us.

No bueno.

But me, being the Birdwell and all, thought differently. What could we do in the way of a counter-attack, I queried.

Well, reply-eth the Dingo, we don’t have any contra-attack applications readily available, but if we did we could simply send him a ‘ping-storm’.

“Ping-storm, eh?” I retorted. “Like if we just kept pinging him until his machine was overwhelmed?”

“Precisely. We call it…the Ping of Death.”

Buuuaahahahaha!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I liked the sound of that.

“And what if we were to just do that very thing ‘long-hand’, like from a few different computers in-house?”

I was met with a perculiar look that conveyed to me that I might be on to something.

Dingo obtained the IP address of the attacker as I went about garnering all of the available pc’s that were not being used. I came up with 3 – mine, Dingo’s and a spare. Then I went about opening a command line (DOS prompt) multiple times and pinged the offending address – 27 separate instances on each machine. We knew we had driven off our attacker when his response times slowed to a crawl, then died all together.

You lose, thanks for trying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It would be the same as you walking into a room with 81 people in it and saying “Hello, I’m the Birdwell’s minion, how are you?”, waiting for a reply, shaking that person’s hand and then saying, “Nice to meet you, talk to you again soon” to each person as quickly as possible all the while sampling hors d’ovres, sipping champagne, watching the clock and keeping a hacky-sack aloft (because that is what your pc is doing, or something like that). Your head would esplode and you would likely need to wash you hands.

What we had done was overwhelmed this bongo player’s machine to the point where it could not process – anything – anymore. At least until he performed a hard reboot. And by ‘hard’ I mean pull the plug. The three finger salute (Ctrl+Alt+Fark You) would not work because the computer could no longer process imput from the keyboard, it was way too busy responding to pings.  But by that time we had notified the ISP of the offending address this chucklehead was coming from and had him black listed.

Black listed. It’s as bad as it sounds. It means that the ISP knows you are up to no good and then trains a watchful eye on your digital ass.

I took a great deal of satisfaction in it, to be honest. It is not often one gets to stick an electronic boot up some deserved netizen’s porthole.

I am the Birdwell, Network Mutha, and you, whoever the fark you were, are not.

 

 

 


‘Cause I’m the tax man

and you are not.

Who was the jackass who decided (and approved) putting a check box on our federal tax forms stating: Check here if you would like to contribute $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign?

What is that, some kind of bad joke?

Fleece us for every thing you and your cronies can think of, then ask if we, out of the goodness of our hearts and pockets, would like to flip you another $3? I would be insulted, if it wasn’t so incredulous.

Wait, back up a sec; I am insulted.  So screw you and your election campaign, as well as the horse you rode in on.

I blinded them…with TAXES!

First, why the hell should I contribute to anyone’s election fund?  Who is contributing to my election (retirement) fund? You want me to help you out? Buy a few copies of my book. (Oh, that’s right; I will be helping you out, with the tax on each sale. GFY.)

Second, if you have decided to be a politician, fund your own election, dirt bag. Anyone running for president of the US has plenty of money of their own to do so. You don’t need mine, I assure you. (Here, have another 3 dollars out of my pocket so you can go to Washington and learn how to take many more dollars from me).

This is nothing more than another angle to play one side against the other.
Oh please, let me give another $3 so we can beat the godforsaken – fill in the political party of your angst here – in the next election.

I realize that you are well aware of this, but just so that I can blabber at the wall, let me spell it out.

You tax the dollars I earn in my paycheck, before they even hit my hand.
You tax the dollars that I spend.
You tax the dollars that I save.
You tax the dollars that I earn on my savings. (that one fact alone is dispicable).
You tax my income tax refund. (in the rare instance that I actually get one).
You tax just about everything I purchase.
You tax the roads I drive.
You tax the gas that fuels my car.
You tax the food I purchase to feed my family.

You tax the land I live on.
You tax the house that I live in.
You tax the fuel that heats my home.
You tax the electricity that lights my home.

You tax my health care insurance.
You tax me if I die.
You tax the spot where I am planted into the ground.
In the wonderful state of New Jersey, you tax me if I try to leave. (nice job, asshats).
You even tax me (by way of a service charge) if I file my taxes electronically! The very method that reduces the cost of their collection.

About the only thing you don’t tax me for is when I relieve myself…oh, wait. Toilet paper is taxed. So you’ve got that covered as well.

Can you hear me now, Birdwell?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But you want me to give you another $3, for the President’s Election Campaign.  Haven’t I already done that, about a dozen different times as listed above?

I understand fully that it takes a lot of money to run a country and tax dollars are what fund our way of life. But there are more and more people every day, so your tax base goes up, every day. Yet there is never anything in the way of relief for us. Instead, you spend your days devising ways to keep yourselves in office, playing smoke and mirror games to keep our eyes off of your wrongdoings and finding even more ways to bilk us out of our hard earned dollars.

It goes way beyond greed and insult. I’d say immoral, but that is a regular part of your day. This is like duping the poor kid down the block, who is a little slow; out of the pocket change he made delivering newspapers.

Before I give you another dollar of my hard earned cash, put a dollar onto my bottom line. Till then, you could save some money by removing that line from the tax form.


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