Wednesday, August 8, 2007
NASA's impending launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour with Barbara Morgan, the teacher-turned-astronaut who was Christa McAuliffe's back up 20 years ago on the ill fated Challenger Shuttle, made me think about espresso. Of course, in the Pacific Northwest where knowing how to operate a commercial-cappucino maker makes you more marketable than having a degree from one of the nation's top universities, it doesn't take much to make us think about espresso.
But there's a rational reason for my current thoughts. Espresso pots, like space shuttles, have O-rings, and if they're not put together right, espresso pots, like space shuttles, blow up. I learned this when I was about 13. I went to pour my mother a cup of espresso and the instant I lifted the pot off the stove it exploded, sending shrapnel all over the kitchen, some to this day still lodged in the walls. My mother sighed, rose from the dining room table, shuffled to a cupboard, dug out another espresso pot--this one twice the size of the one before--and began over, this time making sure to put in the O-ring.
Tea pots in Britain need a certain amount of competence to operate, too. Twenty years ago I was visiting a friend in Oxford, and even though I was exhausted and jet lagged, my host spent a good while showing me how to operate her electric tea kettle before I went to bed. Heaven forbade I should wake before her and wait an instant longer than necessary for a morning fix.
In the morning, though, what I really wanted was not a cup of tea, or even espresso, but a hot bath. Alas, my friend had only mentioned the workings of the bath in passing. Consequently I took a cold bath. That's because even someone such as myself--someone who does know how to operate a commercial-cappucino maker and has a degree from one of the nation's top universities--couldn't figure out the dropping in of coins of hard-to-find denominations into even harder-to-find slots, and then figuring out the right order to manipulate the series of pulleys, levers and knobs to avoid asphyxiation or scalding. I'm not a rocket scientist.
Best of luck to all the astronauts on the Endeavour.
McHumor.com's Coffee and Tea Cartoons
McHumor.com's NASA Cartoons
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"Demographic studies show that almost 100% of those who use coffins are dead." That was a note I jotted down in my cartoon idea note book. "Is there a way to expand the market outside of going on a shooting spree?" I added and promptly scratched out. Then I had a brilliant idea. Not a cartoon idea, but a genuine business idea. A way to double if not triple, quadruple the coffin--or as people in the trade refer to them, casket--market: sell to the living.
Caskets sell for between $1,000 and $10,000, and therefore is probably the most expensive piece of furniture anyone who's not a convicted CEO will ever use. Why shouldn't you get some use out of it while you're still alive? My uncle was buried in a casket with box springs. Box springs! The man didn't even sleep on box springs when he was alive. His last years of slumber could have been his most luxurious if he'd bought his casket before his death.
And the niche marketing opportunities! Futon lined caskets for crunchy granola types, IKEA casket-kits for do-it-yourselfers, and as a guest bed for those beset by out-of-town visitors over staying their welcomes. Caskets could fit into any room's decor with appropriate accessorizing. If made out of teak, it'd make a tasteful coffee table and since caskets have to be waterproof you could have a unique bathtub by adding a soap dispenser and a rubber ducky. The possibilities are endless.
I'm lousy at business so I'm going to let someone else run with this brilliant idea of mine. Oh, and before you try to sell me a casket, you should know that I plan on being cremated by ABC, Affordable Burial & Cremation Company of Newport.
McHumor.com's Cartoons about Funerals
McHumor.com's Cartoons about Heaven
McHumor's Cartoons about Hell
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I thought about this when I went this weekend to Portland to see Body Worlds, a special exhibit at OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). It's got dozens of bodies and body parts that have undergone a process called plastination. How to describe it? Corpses have been stripped of their skin, plastic has been injected into their muscles and other remaining tissues and then posed in amazing and stunning positions.
The exhibit has been surrounded by controversy. Is it ethical to display bodies--especially still anatomically correct ones--in a museum? OMSI and Body World officials say that it's all been done for educational purposes, to get people interested in anatomy and to show people what happens if you smoke, drink or partake of other unhealthy lifestyle choices. None of it, they say, was done for prurient purposes.
And are the plastinates--as the preserved bodies are called--art? The poses they're in are striking. The first case you encounter at the OMSI exhibit has a man holding his skin that has been peeled off his well muscled body. When I saw it I let out an audible "Woah!" As I went through the exhibit, I said "Woah" more times that I've ever said in a single afternoon . . . except for the time that I was on an ill tempered horse, but I'll save that story for a future blog.
My take on the controversy? Since all the bodies were donated by people who knew what was in store for them in the after life, is it any worse than having fifteen minutes of fame by being a contestant on Survivor or Are You Smarter than A Fifth Grader?
Frankly, what disturbed me most was that there weren't any bodies posed in positions we're all more likely to find ourselves in on a daily basis. They had a skate boarder in the middle of a flip, his male organs a'fly'n, a hurdler in mid hurdle with brain slices coming out of his skull and a fellow balancing on three balls while holding all his internal organs in the air. Where was the couch potato with a beer in one hand and a remote in the other, or a blogger hunched over a computer? Apparently the plastination process removes not only all the body's liquids, but the fat, too, so I imagine some of these folks may look better in death than they did in life. Still, I think I'm only volunteering as an organ donor. No everlasting fame for me.
McHumor.com's Medical Cartoons
Body Worlds Web Site
Friday, July 20, 2007
Between Michael Vick's involvement in dogfighting and yet another person in suburban Portland being mauled by a pit bull, dogs have received a lot of press recently in the Oregonian. My family is worried that my dog, Sweet Pea, will kill me. Well, not exactly kill. Just be the cause my death. It's not that she--a large dog pound mutt, a malamutt, so to speak--is a dangerous dog. She's more of a hazard than anything. Speed Bump is one of her nick names because she's always under foot. Whenever I move, she and my cat, Inky also move. Sometimes I feel like the president and the secret service. I get up from my desk and she perks up. "She's on the move," she signals to the cats. "Get ready to swarm in case she decides to go down stairs."
My family's fears aren't totally with out foundation. My uncle died due to complications from injuries he suffered after tripping over his dog. It could have been worse. She could have been his therapy dog. She was a shepherd as I recall. Maybe that's why shepherds are on various lists of "Dangerous Dogs."
Sweet Pea's best friend is my cat, Inky. Actually, I think they're more than friends, if you know what I mean. I just wish they wouldn't flaunt the fact that some in the house have a love life. At least they're both fixed (although I don't think they think they were broken before) so I don't have to worry about baby mutants, even though I'm sure they'd be cute. Also since Sweet Pea's a she and Inky's a he, folks in the Red states can't object.
McHumor.com's Animal Cartoons
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
A real-world friend of mine convinced me that I could drum up business by posting a page on MySpace, so post a page I did, http://www.myspace.com/tmccracken. Within minutes someone named Tom emailed that he wanted to be my friend, quite a heady experience for someone who's socially awkward. Usually people in high school only wanted to be my friend when they needed me to help them with their homework.
According to Tom's profile he has 190,892,016 friends. Even though Tom must spend most of his time writing his Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa cards, he was kind enough to say that he would be glad to help me figure out how to get the most out of MySpace. Alas, he added a p.s.: "One thing I can't help you with is HTML/decorating your profile." Apparently if you want to be one of the cool people on MySpace you have to "Pimp" your Profile. Having a page with a plain white back ground and helvetica type is about as geeky as wearing black sneakers in high school in the 1970s.
To pimp properly you should know programing code. Don't know programing code? Don't worry, MySpace tells you. There are many people on MySpace who know code who will want to be your friend.
I looked at several MySpace page templates. Glitter, cuddly animals and flaming skulls are popular motifs. I'm thinking of creating my own template with black sneakers.
Meanwhile, I have already had a business offer due to MySpace. Monica, a talent scout from www.TeaseEntertainment.com, asked me to become one of their "performers." According to her I can make up to $100 an hour. Who knew there were so many people out there willing to pay $3 a minute to chat with a 50 year old woman who's added a few minutes to the hour glass figure she had in college? I wonder if they'll pay extra if I take off my sneakers while "performing."
I welcome any "pimping" suggestions you may have.
McHumor.com's Computer Cartoons
Monday, July 16, 2007
I spent much of the weekend doing battle with the jungle that's grown up around my house in the last year. I have an ancient DR Field brush cutter that's not quite as old as my Electrolux vacuum, but it's still old. DRs are those mowers where in the advertisements someone rolls through what looks like an old growth forest and leaves behind something that looks like a golf course. Well, no one would mistake my yard for a golf course, but that's OK. The brush is gone and that was the purpose of the Weed Wacker Massacre. I used to fight forest fires with the U.S. Forest Service, so I can't claim ignorance about what precautions a responsible home owner should take to reduce their chances of losing a home in a fire.
Now if I could only protect my home from space junk. There are several un-funded satellites out there that have refrigerator-size pieces of titanium in them that won't burn up on reentry, and I just know that one of them is going to come crashing through the skylight above my bed. I'm not sure how I know this, but I know this is how I'm going to die. I see it clearly. I'm going to be snuggled between my cat and dog gazing dreamily at the stars when a satellite hurtles toward us. Obviously, the most dangerous place for me is my bed. One advantage of this knowledge is that I don't worry worry about cancer, car accidents and other things that might kill you. Be safe.
McHumor's Forest Cartoons
McHumor's Space Cartoons
Friday, July 13, 2007
Another scorcher on the coast: 68° Fahrenheit, 20° Celsius. Usually we have fog and wind in the summer. Despite this, 100 years ago in the Willamette Valley they advertised that the coast had a Mediterranean like climate. At that point, though, the big draw here was alcohol, not the climate. Much of the Willamette Valley was dry and booze has always flowed freely here. Given enough to drink, you , too, might think you were in the south of France when on a beach in Lincoln County.
The fact is, the hotter it is inland, the foggier and windier it is here. If it's 100° in Corvallis and Eugene, two things happen. Folks in Corvallis and Eugene say: "It's hot here. Let's go to the coast where it's foggy and windy," and they come wearing shorts and flip flops and because it's foggy and windy they're cold and they end up buying a coastal sweat shirt. A month goes by and once again it's 100° inland, and once again folks come from the Willamette Valley and once again they come wearing shorts and flip flops and once again they buy coastal sweatshirts. Open people's closets inland, and surely dozens of coastal sweat shirts tumble out of them. That's OK. It keeps our economy rolling. Keep cool.
McHumor's Weather Cartoons
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I can't believe I've been writing this blog for almost a week and no one has asked me about my fascination with slugs mating. Apparently sex only sells so far. Would a web page titled "The Mating Life of the Ariolimax columbianus" get any hits? Oh well. It's my blog, so here goes.
A common rule in nature is that if it’s smaller than you, eat it; if it’s bigger than you,you run from it; and if it’s the same size as you,you mate with it. That in part explains the behavior of a sea slug, a nudibranch (Navanax inermis) that will try to eat each other, and if they fail at that, they mate. Imagine the after mating conversation. One lights a cigarette, inhales deeply and says: “Hope you didn’t take my trying to eat you personally."
The most common slug around here is the banana slug, Ariolimax columbianus. It's closely related to Ariolimax dolichophallus which translates to a slug with a big--how shall I put this--a big Male Organ, an MO for short, an MO that can swell to lengths longer than their body. They’re also related Ariolimax californicus brachyphallus which translates to a slug from California with a small MO. Take that California!
Speaking of large MOs, a starling’s sex organs weight 1,500 times as much during mating season as they do the rest of the year.
But I digress. Back to the mating habits of slugs. Slugs take their time doing just about everything, even mating. They take hours to mate, sometimes days. Before you start to get jealous, I should mention that they get so into the act that to uncouple they sometimes need to gnaw off their large MOs. Their large MOs? As in both of them have MOs? Yeah. They're hermaphrodites (i.e. they have both sex organs). Good thing, otherwise you can imagine the couple counseling they'd need after one of them gnawed off the other's MO.
In red states? Well. I'm sure slug sex isn't allowed in red states.
Maybe sometime I'll write about why it takes a minimum of three whales to mate.
McHumor's Relationship Cartoons
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
It used to be that when we needed to make room at the adult table we put grandma or grandpa out on an ice flow. With global warming, there just aren't that many ice flows available. They're needed for the polar bears. How else to explain why so many people are putting their elders in humongous RVs and setting them adrift on Highway 101?
RVs the size of the USS Enterprise are the bane of our summer existence. It is nice, though, to see that folks driving them are getting more environmentally conscious. Fewer are towing gas guzzling SUVs. Now many tow hybrids.
They all seem to drive 40 mph. Until, that is, they get to a passing lane and then they go at warp speed. There's a reason for this. They ARE the prototype for the USS Enterprise. Grandpa sits up front wearing his captain's hat and every now and then he radios Scotty in the engine room. These behemoths are big enough that they must have engine rooms.
He radios Scotty in the engine room and he says: "Scotty, can't you give me more power?"
And Scotty says: "I'm trying Cap'n, but I don' think the dilithium crystals can take it anymore."
And grandpa says: "But, Scotty, there are twenty or thirty cars behind me, cars filled with kind and patient Oregonians. I remember how it was before I retired, trying to get to work on time so I could make a few more payments on the RV. Please, Scotty, you've got to give me more power."
Of course, this is science fiction since it's rare for anyone in RVs to notice the lines of cars behind them and even rarer for those in the lines to take the extra time to enjoy the scenery.
No, what grandpa really says is: "Scotty, why don't you try calling technical support?" The problem is they're in Lincoln County, Oregon where cell phone service is spotty. If you see someone hunched over in a pretzel-yoga like stance, chances are it's someone who's found one of the few sweet spots where you can get cell phone reception.
Grandpa doesn't know this, so when the RV crests a hill and speeds up he thinks it's Scotty doing his magic. Grandpa puts the pedal to medal and grandma pedals furiously. Some of the cars behind them try to pass, but before they can, they're stopped by a flagger. That's because in Lincoln County speed limits are enforced by pot holes and the shortest distance between two points is always under construction. Happy trails.
McHumor.com's RV Cartoons
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
For the second time in a little more than a year I've had a vacuum cleaner go up in flames, which is pretty amazing since my view of cleaning is that if you do it today, in three, four or five years you might have to do it again. You see, among other things, I have a disorder disorder. Norman, my long term house guest, is the tidy one. He's gay and out of the closet, but he likes everything else to be in the closet. His obsession with cleaning almost makes Felix Unger of the Odd Couple look normal.
The vacuum cleaner I've used most of my life is a 1930s or 40s Electrolux we inherited from my great grandmother in the 70s. It''s twenty unwieldily pounds of moderate suction power that was never thrown out because of one of my family's own idiosyncrasies: a Smithsonian like tendency to never throw anything away.
I abhorred that vacuum more than nature abhors a vacuum, but it was a hunk of indestructible metal. I routinely dropped it down the stairs while doing my weekly chores, but it never stopped its moderate sucking. While my peers drooled over John, Paul, George and Ringo in teen idol magazines, I drooled over vacuums in the Sear's catalogue said to be "feather light" or coming with a "deluxe compact canister." My parents finally bought a new vacuum when I left home, and that was probably only because I took the Electrolux with me. Hey. It was free and I was a starving cartoonist.
I eventually splurged and replaced it with a modern day Hoover and when that blew up I
replaced it with something that looked like it was out of Star Wars. When that one started smoking today I told Norman that he was working my vacuums to death. He said my dog's fur was the root of the problem. Whichever is the case, I've come up with a solution. I pulled the Electrolux out of the closet. Norman's going to be here for a few more months and I'm hoping his daily vacuuming of the rugs and the dog will kill it (the vacuum, not the dog) and I can finally throw it out in good conscience.
McHumor's Cleaning Cartoons
McHumor's Dog Cartoons
McHumor's Cleaning Cartoons
McHumor's Dog Cartoons
Monday, July 9, 2007
Cod liver oil is supposed to be good for the brain, but I'm not sure why. It's not as though cod are known for their intellect. A fishiologist (an ichthyologist for you Latin buffs) once said that the smartest fish make the dumbest rat lost in lab mazes look like Einstein.
"Fishing. The thinking man's sport." That's what my grandfather would say as he baited my hook in the dark. My grandfather loved fishing. He'd study tide charts for hours trying to figure out when the best tide for fishing would be. Since the tide changes every six hours and 14 minutes you'd think that every now and then the best tide would be at the crack of noon, but no, it was always at four in the morning. Always! If it was drizzling, well, that meant the fishing was going to be even better. The thinking man's sport? "Just how smart are these fish?" I always wondered. We were the one's sitting in the rain at some ungodly hour. Maybe I'd have understood it better if my mother had insisted I take cod liver oil everyday of my life.
McHumor.com's Fishing Cartoons
McHumor.com's Neurology Cartoons
McHumor's Nutrition Cartoons
Sunday, July 8, 2007
There's no end in sight to Waldport, Oregon's heat wave. Another 70° day is predicted for tomorrow. You read that right. Seventy degrees Fahrenheit, twenty-one Celsius. That's hot here. That's when people who have them start popping salt tablets. It's when people frequent our topless beaches, a topless beach here being one where if you're feeling frisky you take off your sweatshirt. It makes living with the rain (on average 100 inches or 2.5 meters a year) worth it along with jokes like, "Oregon: Where Lewis and Clark Discovered Seasonal Affected disorder."
McHumor.com's Weather Cartoons
McHumor.com's Oregon Cartoons
Saturday, July 7, 2007
McHumor.com's Bird Cartoons
Friday, July 6, 2007
Blogs. They're a mystery to me. People are posting the minutia of their lives on line and, even more perplexing, other people are actually reading these posts about the minutia in other people's lives?
Oh well. I don't understand gravity either, and I've yet to float out into space, so here's today's T- minutia: I had my semiannual mammogram today. One good thing about mammograms is that after each one, it's easier for me to touch my toes without bending my knees . . . and I don't mean touch them with my hands.
It's too bad that those of us with more breast than we need or want, can't donate the excess to those who want or need them, sort of like Locks of Love where people donate their hair to make wigs for chemo patients. If I ever had plastic surgery, it would be to have my bladder enlarged.
Well, that's enough minutia for the moment since one of the things that most perplexes me about blogs is how people find time to read them, much less write them. 'Til whenever.