December 31st, 2008 - Hometown

I liked this photo of a house in my hometown of Ashland, Wisconsin. 
The winter sun was so low, and with the light so damn bright coming off of the sliding of the house it was painful, the unbroken snow with the ubiquitous Weber kettle still out in the yard, and the long shadows alongside the super simple house. 
I had to do it in black & white because it stuck in my head how much it reminded me of atomic bomb testing footage I've seen. There's just these inordinately simple houses sitting out on the desert, being slowly overtaken by sand, manikins standing inside, and when the nuclear flash goes off it lights up the side of the house just like this one. There is a vacuum of silence, things are much too quiet, somethings got to happen. Imperceptibly everything appears to start to wobble and sway very slowly, and before it can even get started the whole house just disintegrates. 

Further down the street we have the 'Restaurant of Mixed Metaphors.'
Here is cool old "Big Ben" the Double-Decker British bus, hawking Chicago-Style GYROS - "America's Tastiest Sandwich" - The Greek Classic. 
It's parked at what once was a Clark gas station where my brother used to work, maybe one day it just ran out of gas and it was time to make it into a restaurant. 
It sits across from the city's Power Company on Lake Superior, the one that generates that annoying sound that no one can quite put their finger on, along with a stunning view of our stockpiles of coal, lime, and gravel.

Of course an establishment such as this begs for an all-purpose Tiki God, in case we missed any euphemisms that misled you into thinking that this wasn't actually a tacky place.
Unfortunately, or not, it was "Closed for the Season," or longer, so to get proper sustenance you must cross "Front Street" (but don't use the new "tunnel", er, sorry I was told it is to be known as the "Pedestrian Underpass") because it's not finished yet. 
Well, the tunnel itself is finished, but any connecting stairways, paths, and accesses are not. It's just sort of "there." 
Kind of like an abstract sculpture, performance art, or the Bridge to Nowhere.
If you make it across Front Street, A.K.A. Highway 2, without being run-down by a logging truck, the current feature at Taco John's is the "Snackarito", which is available in Ranch Chicken or Buffalo Chicken.

With a name like "Snackarito," you'll probably want to order five or six. Minimum. Maybe that was marketing's idea in the first place. Make it sound like an hors d'oeurve and all the drive-thru customers will buy a dozen.
I was a little freaked out staring at the poster on which the food cast no shadows. Nor had it shown any signs of steam or melting. 
I figured I was doing you a favor shooting in B & W.

Which brings us to the strange but proud brownstone known as the "Masonic Temple Building." 
I always wondered what creepy, secret-society meetings went on up in that turret room with the four round windows right next to each other. Maybe they had a set of the city's most powerful giant binoculars and could see directly into the cellars of power. Being right across the street from City Hall was just, too obvious. 
Was I the only one to notice this atrocity, right under our own noses? 
And my Uncle the lawyer, Uncle Tom, was only two doors down. Was he in cahoots too? 
Among my other seedy recollections of the place was being treated by ol' pipe-smoking Dr, Kreher after getting a good chunk of my face gouged out by Arnie Viater's inordinately long fingernails during a football game in High School. "I should prawly give you ten stitches, but with this new tape they got, I don't think I have to!"
"Be careful out there and tell your friend to wash his hands once in a while!" 
Ahh, good times, good times.

Well, it's probably not a good sign when the Jaguar XJ6 has this much snow on 'er. Must be waiting for Santa to bring over a new valve job from Coventry.

Card-carrying members only, except for Lunch Buffet. 
California Nails customers please to take care eating before glue has dried.

Ah, the house that borne and raised me. Didn't I used to be able to bounce a Super-ball over that Blue Spruce...?

December 20th, 2008 - The Solstice Must Go On

Um, continuing with last week after yesterday (!), I wanted to ongo the topic of the Solstice Event at Lowry, and post a few more pics to describe the scene. 
Hmmm, but is it ironic that the shortest day of the year should get such a long write-up in the blog? 
Firstly, or whatever number we're on now, (!) one of the questions I ask my program attendees about snakes is, "Do snakes have skeletons? Do they have bones?"
Many people, even though we have a snake anatomy chart on the wall at both of the nature centers I work at, say, "No!" Quite emphatically.  

Well they do. They're actually quite thin and very fragile, similar to fish bones. Worms do not, however. But they have five pairs of hearts, so they don't feel slighted. 
So be careful not to drop your snake or you could easily break it's bones. We had a snake with bad arthritis that recently died at Springbrook, she had very inflamed vertebrae. Nothing is sacred. Especially a serpent, come to think of it.
Anyway, they have this cool snake skeleton at Lowry. 

These were the activities awaiting you in the "Craft Room": Making a Star Gazer (toilet paper tube with holes poked through the aluminum foil covering one end, to adequately represent the night sky (makes a great restroom conversation starter), making a Sunset Shaker and Solstice Drum, for accompanying the Holiday Carols or making just plain celebratory noises, working a finger labyrinth in the sand, and experiencing the wonderful "Star Dome", which is a home-made air-filled bubble along the lines of a "Moonwalk Room" made of dark tarps with holes poked in the top to represent the night constellations. You can get about fifteen people inside laying on their backs and demonstrating amazing knowledge of astronomical sky decipherment. Which was completely impressive I must say. I found the North Star. Astronomy is not one of my strong points.

Dianne Rowse points out some part of Orion with a laser-pointer cat toy.

Meanwhile in the basement, people are trying out the awesome labyrinth, which was designed by one of our local naturalist artists. I must admit, there is something reverent about walking the labyrinth, something found "between the lines." And I mean that more figuratively than literally.
I tried for a "ghostly shot" with a long time exposure and meagerly pulled it off. You can see some people stopping as they begin to turn the corners and proceed inward. (Meanwhile, The Amboy Dukes featuring Ted Nugent are playing "Journey to the Center of the Mind" inside my head...)

One of our cute crafter kids putting the finishing touches on her solstice drumstick.

And the band played on. The band would be Dr. Nick Rowse, with fiddle, caressing the carols of the season.

Hey, it ain't a party in my book until somebody lights the frozen Bundt Cake.

Woops, Halloween leftover I guess. Wrong group of pagans. Nevermore.

Here's the big show, Dianne Rowse explaining the Scandinavian traditions of the Solstice time. The cool thing was that from my position I could see a deer watching her through the window and when she tapped her bell to get everyone's attention, his head snapped up like toast in a toaster. Evidently it wasn't worth getting all worried about at that point though, so he kept on munching bark and following the program through the window. That would all change when I came out in the guise of a twelve-foot tall puppet in the vague form of Old Man Winter.

The bonfire ROARED, that is um, sizzled on as the temperature continued to drop. From the +17 degrees during my arrival at 3 PM, it had plummeted down to +2 degrees plus a nasty wind-chill at 4:30 PM. Ah, the First Day of Winter does not disappoint! Plus it was snowing.

Either the labyrinth became more popular as time went on, or someone took a wrong turn and traffic was backing up.  
Maybe next year I'll see if I can walk it in the puppet suit...

December 20th, 2008 - Star in the Cottonwood


I realize I'm post-dating here, but I wanted to go back to Solstice Day and relate one of my projects that turned into a "fun thing."
As bit of exposition, for the last three solstice celebrations I and sometimes my wife Sharon have helped out with the solstice event they have at Lowry Nature Center at Carver Park.
They have a "tying down the sun" ceremony, a bonfire, a labyrinth to walk, along with crafts, music, and story-telling. 
Our first time at the event three years ago, I somehow agreed to man the twelve-foot tall "Old Man Winter" puppet. 

I figured it would somehow help my fears of social anxiety, though I'm not sure how that works exactly because you're totally hidden inside the thing. Two "helpers" come along and hold the poles for the arms and tell you where to step as you have no clue whatsoever as to what is going on in the outside world. It's probably just as well when you look like that.
I do lead the procession around the building to the bonfire in the back, so I guess it is the only time I have actually been at the front of a parade. I suppose it takes a little sociability to lead a parade even though all anyone sees of you is a giant goggle-eyed paper-mache head on a flowing robe.
This year I again fulfilled my role, and I have to admit I'm feeling more and more like Old Man Winter every year. However, next was where the Fun Thing came in.
As hopefully you noticed in the opening photo, there is a star in the cottonwood tree. 
I found this out when my Master Naturalist teacher, Pat Rummenie, told us a Native American folk tale about the Star in the Cottonwood, about a little star that wants to be near the human beings. I liked it so much that I got an MP3 of it being told by Mary Louise Defender Wilson, and rewrote it a little so that I could tell it (I figure folk tales have a built-in penchant for a little tweaking) and have been relating it to kids and adults during my nature center programs when we find cottonwood branches, and they all seem to really respond to it.
My version goes like this:

The Star in the Cottonwood Tree

A long time ago, when everything was still new, up in the sky were many, many stars.

Amongst them was a little star that was very interested and curious about everything.

This little star travelled across the sky. It would stop and examine so many things.

One day, the little star came down by the earth. It travelled all around the earth, looking at all of the animals, all of the birds, all of the plants, and everything that was alive.

The little star came near a village. There was a sound coming from the village. This sound was so beautiful, so wonderful, that the little star could not believe it. It had never heard anything so beautiful in all of the heavens and all of the places it had visited around the earth. So the little star stayed close to the village.

It listened and listened, it could not get enough of listening to the beautiful sound.

Soon the little star realized, “I am a star, and I should be up in the sky with the other stars.

Even though sometimes we stars are very far apart, I had better go back up there to be with them.”

So the little star went back up into the sky to be with the other stars, but it still kept thinking about the beautiful sound it had heard coming from the village. It began to get very lonely and very sad.

One night when all the stars were shining and close together talking about different things, the little star asked if it could go back to the village so that it could hear that beautiful sound again.

The other stars answered politely that no, it was a star, and that it belonged here, up in the sky with all of the other stars.

The little star didn’t say anything. It tried to be involved in all the things that stars do, shining in the night sky, travelling here and there, dodging the planets, but the little star felt as though it didn’t fit in with the rest of the stars, and it missed the beautiful sound more than ever. It got so lonely, it pleaded with the other stars. “Please may I go back to that village…?

I want to live there and listen to that beautiful sound forever!”

The oldest of the stars said, “I’m sorry little star, but you cannot do that. People live in that village. They have many things to do in order to stay alive; they have to gather their food, they have to build their houses, they have to mend their clothes, they have to teach each other.”

The eldest star continued, “If you go back there, shining around as you do, the people will be distracted, wondering why a star has come down shining around their village. They will be disturbed by you and they won’t be able to get all of their necessary things done.”

So the little star thought and thought.

Finally it said to the other stars, “If I can find a way to be close to that village without them seeing me, can I stay there?” 

The other stars chuckled and said, “Yes little star. If you can find a way to be close to that village without disturbing the people and keeping them from their work, you can go live there.”

So the little star got an idea. It went down by the village, but not too close. It got close enough to hear the beautiful sound, but not so close that it disturbed the people.

It noticed it was next to a tall, tall tree, a cottonwood tree. The tallest tree in the area.

It thought, “This is perfect! I will stay inside this tree so that I can hear the beautiful sound. But I will not disturb the people.” And so it did.

And it listened to its favorite sound, the sound that came from the village.

This was the sound of the people laughing, and talking, and teaching each other.

The star is still inside the cottonwood tree today, listening and hoping to hear more of those beautiful sounds.

So I told the story at the solstice event, as the regularly-scheduled story-teller couldn't make it. The ironic thing was, a couple weeks before this I had gotten an idea to try and cut some cottonwood branches and polish them up to bring out the stars:

I was able to do this and ended up coating them with Super-Glue to make sort of a clear-coat effect. I had intended to drill some holes in them to string them like beads, but that didn't happen. I made as many as I could though, and handed them out to kids after the story. 
It was pretty cool.
The interesting thing about them is that the stars don't necessarily get bigger the farther into the branch you go, nor do they get smaller the farther towards the tip you go. The best place to find them is in "the Knuckle" or joint of the branches where there are some wrinkles and you can snap the branch easily. They seem to occur more in older branches, and are barely noticeable in green wood. Sometimes they are just not there at all no matter how old the branch is.
In cutting them, I found the best tool I had was a Dremel with a ceramic cutting wheel and then emery cloth by hand to finish them out. On some I left the outside bark on, (below) some I took it all off and sanded everything. Some of them are weird. You cut one side, and then after cutting the other side you find that the star is completely different: bigger, smaller, or not there at all!


I've got some other ideas I'd like to try with them.
All in all it was very cool the way everything came together.
So Happy Solstice. Look for the Star in the Cottonwood, but don't go breaking the branches off of the trees now. Use the ones on the ground, the stars are better anyway.

December 22, 2008 - (Elaphe guttata), or red rat snake


I worked the 12 to 4 gig at Springbrook yesterday, and with -9 F temps + -21 F windchill, I wasn't expecting much in the "walk-in" visitor department. 
This went pretty much as expected, but was saved from a total shut-out when a thickly-layered gentleman (it took the casting off of a few layers to confirm this) came in with camera in hand, asking if I'd seen the Barred Owl today. I hadn't but he said it was the star of the Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, hanging out all day, performing, and providing dynamic photo opportunities.
There were about six deer hanging around the feeder all day though, determining their pecking order and looking much too domesticated eating birdseed four feet from the door, shaking the birdfeeders and running and nibbling the buds off of trees.
My interest was inside on this day, I was checking out one of the "baby" corn snakes, the offspring of our gray corn and our red partial albino corn that had hatched their eggs back in October.
The little nippers are now getting to be about 10 or 12 inches long, and filling out to about the diameter of a pencil. I wanted to get one out in the low, bright sun coming in our southwest windows at the nature center while I could, as it seems to go down faster than lemonade on a hot summer day after about 3 PM now.

One very interesting thing about this particular snake is it shows signs of partial albinism and has trippy RED eyes. Not just red eyes, but red irises and red pupils. And they are very round. Something of a Little Orphan Annie sold her soul to the devil effect.
At first Siah thought she was blind, but she seems to have pretty good senses all around from what I can tell. It just makes me wonder what exactly she does see. I know from my own sport optics lenses that red tends to enhance contrast on a cloudy day, I wonder if it's like that for her, or if she can see better in the dark. Snakes don't have that great of distance vision as it is, they say 3 to 4 ft. usually, as they use their highly sensitive infra-red sensing heat organs, their molecule-tasting tongues, and their vibration sensitive bodies to do the heavy lifting in the sensing areas.

When the light comes through just right from the side, her whole eye lights up like a ruby crystal. 
Very classy.

All in all, very interesting. As naturalists are fond of saying (especially when we can't think of a good reason for a weird coloration or supposed adaptation) "There are often significant variations between members of the same species."  Kind of a cop-out, like saying, "because that's just the way it is". People are the same way. We're just different. We won't go into the why right now though.
But.... without variety it wouldn't be a horse race.

December 19th, 2008 - Diplomacy

I came across this pic from our visit to the dog park from the other day. A very rambunctious approximately year-old black lab came mysteriously thrashing out from deep in the marsh, unescorted and unattended and then flopped down on the snow and sat staring intently back the way it came.
That was until it's sensors picked up Happy's presence and it went into grizzly bear mode, as seen in the above image.
I'm reminded of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom", viewed on many a Sunday evening, much too close to the screen of a huge console TV at my cousin's or grandma's with a gut full of ham & scalloped potatoes being told I was a better door than a window. By the time I figured out what that meant, Marlin Perkins was having his interview inside the safety of the Land Rover while his bare-footed assistant "Jim" was out wrestling the grizzly.  This had all the makings of one of those situations, with Hap stepping in as the short-shrifted "Jim".
Hap was keeping all channels of communication open, with all his cards on the table as it were, until he figured out that this was an immature grizzly bear and that all it wanted was some token butt-sniffing and to then have it's butt waxed in a game of chase, which Happy provided for it admirably. 
Nobody beats the artful dodger at his own game. "Jim" lives on, at least until next week, when he may be lowered into a pit of venomous snakes or must remove an infected stye from a bison's eye during the rut.

December 18th, 2008 - Walking on Water

Took a walk with Sharon and Happy today, down on the creek and over to Minnehaha Park and back.
It was really a test of the home-made snowshoe bindings I put on the shoes I got for $13 at the Minnesota Naturalists Convention silent auction this year. A classic pair of Tubbs - No. 200 modified Alaskan style, (10 x 40") from the old days when they used to lace them with rawhide in Vermont. They are a bit heavy, but I like the feel and the workout.
So far so good on the bindings. I woke up a few days ago with an idea in my head that I could cut apart an old pair of Sorels and mount the front half on the snowshoes with zip-ties, then come up with a strap system to attach the heel cups.
I am happy with the result, especially considering I didn't have to go out and buy anything to make them. I already see some tweaks I need to make though. Always with the tweaks.

I wasn't sure what to do with this picture of the Pergola I took today, it wasn't very different from others lately so I went after it with the Kaleidoscope and a few other tools from Paint Shop Pro. The thing I like about the result is that it looks like a sketch with a lot of line-shading used to fill in. Ironic that it came out vaguely snowflake-like, or maybe not. The blue is from the sun on the snow, the gray details are the Pergola all munched up. Takes me back to the Spirograph days, without the pins coming loose during the last few orbits and messing the whole thing up for you. 
A Spirograph and a Lite-Brite and the hours could fly by.

December 17th, 2008 - Doctor Deco

I took the train to my doctor appointment downtown (Mpls) this morning, and ambled into the Medical Arts Building just off of Nicollet & 8th a little early.
It's a pretty cool Art Deco style building that's been kept up in the style pretty well. Lots of gold leaf and ornate marble, hanging lamps and arched ceilings.
And a row of telephone booths, of all things.
I half expect my doctor to come flying out of one with a pipe and fedora, leather satchel and topcoat over his arm. He's got the look that could pull off a fedora too.
But not today, just someone getting their hair trimmed at the Arcade Barber Stylists, and the usual downtowner foot traffic. No one really knows where they all come from or where they all go.

Then we have this stylish but overly modernized "Rod of Asclepius" symbol on the elevator doors. I'm not sure exactly what's going on here but it seems the rod has been replaced with some sort of thermometer-bearing whaletail totem, and the serpents are, in my humble opinion, "smirky."
Still better than a faceless steel door, by a long shot.
I was waiting for the elevator door to spring open just as I snapped the shutter. Wouldn't they be surprised. Hmmm. Gives me an idea for a future photo op. I suppose I couldn't pull it off too many times in the same building though it would be interesting to see the facial expressions. Yiy! Paparazzi!

Then there is the supreme puzzler to me. Where did the 13th floor end up?
It's like that bit in Spinal Tap the movie...
"Yes, but this one goes up to 11."
"Couldn't you just make it go up to 10 and then have it be just that much louder? "
"... uhhh but this one goes up to 11..."

How do I know I'm not on the 13th floor when I'm on the 14th?
My appointment was on the 11th floor, and I've never been up any higher than that.
I'm not sure if it's unluckier up there or not.
I'm tempted to take the stairs and see if it's there then. Maybe it's just the elevator that has triskaidekaphobia.


Sorry for the shakiness, I hit the first floor just as the shutter was going off and I was too embarrassed to go back up or into another elevator. People were giving me very questioning looks as they filed into the elevator.
I said, "HI!" just a little too loudly, and walked out quickly.
Hmmm, I wonder what the braille readers think when they read it.
More on this, I'm sure.

December 16th, 2008 - Grab a Mammal and Hunker Down

It was bloody cold this morning (-9 F, -22 WC) when we went out to the cars. So cold, in fact, that our lame windshield washer fluid seemed to be lacking in the anti-freeze department. 
We compared drives home and found we both had the same problem after running the washer and wipers. With the defroster blowing full on, the solution instantly froze to the windshield and the wiper blades stumbled over it like a drunk on a warped barroom floor.
This, plus a dusting of fresh, fine snow made for one of those drives home where you feel like you're piloting an armored personnel carrier and trying to peek out the bulletproof slot that serves as a windshield on those things. Luckily (or not) the highway speed was about equal to the top speed of an armored personnel carrier, so you never felt like you were out-maneuvering your infantry running alongside.
Upon arriving back to base, we had intended to regroup and drive for eatables, but instead traded off eating crackers and pitching pennies for who got to hold the dog next.
I don't know what we'd do without him.
Stay warm. Hunker down with whatever you can.

December 15th, 2008 - Extremities

This is what your mailbox sees when you open the door after shovelling the walk in -9 F, with a -22 F windchill. It sees your wind-burnt schnoz and your struggling to unlatch both eyelids simultaneously. It sees you reach in and fail to get the mail without taking your gloves off, and it hears you curse and struggle taking them off, trying not to touch any metal. It sees your knuckles cracked and bleeding from a -17 degree dew point. And it watches as you close it's door and listens to you hobbling off muttering, "bills, bills, bills." and, "hey, a card from Betsy!"
Your poor mailbox.

Yesterday morning it was 40 degrees to the good, things were melting and life was grand. As the day bore on, the temperature dropped steadily until it was - 2 F upon waking this morning. That remained the "high" for the day. The sun appeared temporarily in a mockery of brightness. 
Many were the stories of the Rime of the Not So Ancient Commuter this morning. 
Some had to abandon all hope of entry to their vehicles as the ice encrustment was too great, even for the hair-dryer set on High Style. Visions of Shackleton and the Endurance flitted darkly with the swirling ice crystals as I searched for a breach of containment wide enough to leverage my barely recognizable car door open. It groaned in resistance as the old maple tree in the Taylor's yard creaked in harmony. I was in. 
But would it start? It would. I had won the weather lottery for this day. 
Huzzah.

December 14, 2008 - Bug-Eyed

One of my greatest wonders when it comes to insects is what they "see" or what sensory input they might be receiving from their many eyes, and what it becomes after processing within their small but amazing insect brains.
Some caterpillars have six pairs of eyes, some arachnids have eight eyes, with some insects such as the mantids having two large compound eyes, and three smaller eyes between them. 
What can they possibly be seeing, and how can they possibly parse all that information into usable data for their tiny brains?  We humans have such "large" brains and can't seem to figure out all of our sensory information. Without all of our previous associations, memories, shapes, and perceptions to compare them to, they often flit through without becoming any type of "intelligence" to us at all.
The other day during the clean-up / clean-out at Wood Lake, we came across this intriguing-looking optical device made from a beautiful turned-wood barrel and multi-prism lens.

Purported to be a "prismatic insect eye", I was drawn immediately to it. 
It is similar to a kaleidoscope when you first look through it and start rotating it around, but then if you hold it stationary and move your head you get quite different results.
My first instinct was to put it up to my little camera, but there wasn't time in the middle of the task, so it had to wait until now for me to have a little session with it.

It seems to reproduce colors quite well, and I played around by looking at my single LED flashlight for a while, producing this molecular model similar to the element magnesium. Sort of. Well it has twelve "electrons" anyway. Whatever it is, I'm sure Wesley could induce it to grow into a dilithium crystal during one of his lab projects.

I then went mobile and condensed our refrigerator down into it's own planet. You' would think it's internal atmosphere would be too cold to support life, but we have much evidence to the contrary on that point.

Next I tried the old photographer's technique of holding the camera and lens together and spinning around in the office chair. 
This produced the labyrinthine house of cards derived from my desk organizer. 
Again, there is a lot of symbolism at work here. This is a bit too close to reality for me though.

I'm not exactly sure what this is. Perhaps a pile of Krugerrand, but I think I would remember leaving a pile of Krugerrand around the house. Perhaps a geometrical meteor shower reflected in the gold shingles? Yeah, that's probably it.

This I recognize as our extremely expensive and dirty linen window curtain, with my laminated maple leaf stuck in the window corner for highlight. It also somehow reminds me of stacks of toilet paper. 
What would Freud think? What would Kafka think? And what's more, how do these insects get anything done when they have to sit around and psycho-analyze all the visual-input constantly coming in through their many eyes?
Insects truely are: Amazing Creatures.

December 12th, 2008 - Cooler Quandary

quandary
Noun
pl -ries a situation in which it is difficult to decide what to do; predicament; dilemma [origin unknown]

Origin unknown. I like etymological unknowns. Someone made up a word at some point, we're not sure who, when or where, but it caught on and it stuck to the rolling mudball that is English.
Cool.
And speaking of cool, I'm not sure how to handle this. Do I just leave it in the fridge and not use it, or do I need a walk-in cooler to be able to eat a salad?

December 11th, 2008 - POST #300!!!


Infinite Universe
Blog Post Number Three Hundred
Has Arrived!


Let's see, post number 300.
It's December 11th, I still can't accomplish my original goal for this year to post at least one post every day, but with 19 days left in the year, if I post 3.421 posts every day I have left, I can still post THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE posts in a year!
Hmmm. Doesn't quite have the same ring to it. 
And I'm not sure I could uphold the same "high standards of journalistic quality" (sticking finger down throat) that my dedicated public has come to expect after over a year of interpreting the Infinite Universe for you. Hawwwk Tooie!

Gave it a hell of a try though. And it ain't over yet. I wonder what Jim Brandenburg thinks.

Not available in stores.

The inimitable Pickett Model 300. If you know what this is, you come from a generation without a letter designation.

Exactly.
Now where am I going to get 300 candles at this time of night?!