Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mr & Mrs Caveman For Dinner

Having fallen hopelessly, passionately, in love in middle age, what do Boyd and Mrs. Boyd talk about during dinner?

Last night it was cavemen with Mexican food. Carla picked my feeble mind about the links from our chimpanzee-like ancestors to modern man.

LiveScience gives a great run-down of the top ten hominids to work with.

From Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis) to my personal favorite, the Neanderthals and why some people have big noses, we covered the fabled path from monkey to man.

For the record, we're both deeply christian, but also happen to believe in evolution.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Monkey Island Model Progress

Below are two images from my Monkey Island project.

Before starting on the model in the real world, I'm building it in my computer using Google Sketchup. It's a great (and free) 3D modeling program from Google.

Thirty years ago, I would have begun the model building process by drawing up a blueprint on paper, but computer generated 3D modeling is a much stronger tool.

Although very rough, you can see I'm starting to develop the basic shape. The idea here is that I'll be able to use this computer model to create a card paper rough model of the castle that I can then add clay details to, finishing the model.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Perils of Stick People

For years we've depended on stick people to keep us safe. This flickr photo pool gathers stick people warning signs from all over the world. See if you can figure out what the danger each picture tries to prevent.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Social Networking For Grown ups

Social networking sights like Facebook or Myspace are far more popular with kids, but they're actually more useful for grownups.

When you're a kid, you see you have a lot more opportunities to see your friends than when you're a grownup. You go to school five days a week and most of them are there. You go to football games on Friday night and they're there too and Sunday school on Sundays and parties and dances and sports and all sorts of opportunities for social interaction. When you're a grownup all that slows down considerably.

When you're an adult things are different. You go to work five days a week, but most of those people aren't really your good friends. Some you don't even like at all. When you get home you have kids or housework to deal with and going out just isn't as much fun as it used to be so it can be weeks between times when you see your friends face-to-face.

That's where social networking sights come in handy. You can check sights like Facebook or Myspace once a day and get short snippets of life from and about your loved ones. Folks who just love to talk (like me) might even keep blogs that you can read and share.

There's a stigma attached to older users of social networking sights because predators have used them to solicit children. The stigma is going away though and, thanks to some very diligent people, the predators are being caught and dealt with.

It may be easier for me to adapt to this type of technology since I've been on the Internet so long, but the Internet is changing all of our lives and I'm going to predict that this type of social interaction is only going to grow among all age groups as time goes on.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

So, What was that?

It's an elephant.

When I was a kid, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to town. Somehow my mom got wind of when they would be unloading the circus so she took us kids to watch.

A whole army of trailer trucks were waiting at the fairgrounds with strange looking people speaking strange languages milling around them. I was eight years old and had my Kodak Instamatic ready to capture the spectacle.

I was thrilled beyond measure when they started unloading some fifteen or twenty Asian Elephants from the trucks. Circus ladies in circus outfits rode the elephants the two-hundred yards from the trucks to the livestock buildings at the fairgrounds where the elephants were held for the circus.

The elephants were too big for the regular livestock stalls so they kept them in the judging area which was about a quarter acre of covered open space. The circus people set up ropes so we couldn't get too close to the elephants and they couldn't get too close to us.

Excitedly, I began snapping Instamatic photos of the giants. One big female took and interest in the process and started reaching out to me with her trunk.

Whoever set up the ropes must not have calculated correctly because this big baby was able to snap the camera out of my hands with the tip of her trunk. Immediately a long-haired, German-speaking fellow retrieved my camera for me.

My Instamatic was covered in elephant snot, but I got the picture! What you see above was taken the moment before a circus elephant stole my camera!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Where have you gone, Atticus Finch

Mississippi turns it's lonely eyes to you.

This business with Dickie Scruggs breaks my heart and who knows where all the tentacles of this debacle will end.

The story emerging from this case is one of a pin-striped gang of street thugs, running Mississippi like their own private turf, extorting millions, both legally and illegally from anyone stupid enough to do business in Mississippi.

It would make a great plot for a John Grisham novel. Don't expect one though, John's pretty friendly with the principals.

One thing that particularly bothers me is that I really admired Ed Peters and Bobby DeLaughter before learning that Scruggs and his cohorts lured them into their web.

The thing these guys don't seem to get is that we mere mortals depend, desperately depend on the law to be true and honest and most of all, just. For us, for "we the people", the law is much more than just an opportunity to make millions like a football star. It is the whisper thin barrier between our simple lives and abject chaos.

What they did, what we have to suspect they have been doing for thirty years, is very close to treason. Robin Hood and Atticus Finch never made a billion dollars.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tupelo Bigfoot Caught on Film

Clearly this short film shows some sort of primate, I'm not sure if it's really Tupelo though.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bigfoot Spotted in Tupelo

Bigfoot has been reported in Mississippi and Arkansas for years. Maybe somebody should have checked the costume shops.

From the North East Mississippi Daily Journal

4/9/2008 6:44:42 PM

By Danza Johnson
Daily Journal

TUPELO – With four gorilla sightings on Thomas Street on Wednesday, it seemed the infamous Oliver inspired a copycat or copy primate.

According to police, two postal workers and two parents picking their children up from school claimed to have seen a huge primate run into the woods behind the post office shortly after 2 p.m.

Because all the accounts were separate instances, School Resource Officer Lt. Terry Sanford said he doesn’t doubt that people saw something, but he’s almost sure it wasn’t a gorilla.

“We got a few calls about the gorilla, but we didn’t see anything,” said Sanford. “People said they saw the animal run into the woods. I think what they saw was a person dressed in a suit trying to get a reaction out of people.”

A local costume dealer said a man and a woman bought a gorilla head and hands Tuesday, stating that they already had a suit.

If anybody wants to arrange Bigfoot sightings in Jackson, we have the above suit here:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Guess What This Is

What in the world can this be?

I'll give you some hints:
  • I took the photograph myself in 1974.
  • The subject smelled really bad.
  • I wasn't in any danger but I almost lost my camera.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Monkey Island Postcard

I found this old post card of the Jackson Zoo Monkey Island. It says "58" but it looks older than 1958 to me. If I had to guess I'd say this was probably from the '40's. "58" is probably the catalog number for this particular postcard.

It shows the island as seen from the alligator pond with the ramada (like a band stand, not the hotel) in the background. Where you see a stretch of trees is now the elephant exhibit.

This was probably a black-and-white photograph that was tinted in the printing process to make it appear color. That's why it looks sort of like a cartoon.

The little houses still existed when I was involved with the friends of the Zoo back in the 80's and 90's. They weren't on the island anymore though, and were only brought out during Christmas at the Zoo.

It seemed like they were wood covered with porters cement. As I recall, they were from the original zoo at the Jackson Fire Department before they moved to Livingston Park.

The whole island was originally covered in concrete to make it easier to clean up the monkey poo. I think they dug it up so grass and what-not would grow, but it may have just washed away through the years.

I don't remember the tree. It was gone before I got to zoo going age. I believe the little bridge may still be there under all the brush that's grown up.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Zebra Woman

When I was a kid, the order came down from Washington to desegregate the Mississippi public schools. This was a huge deal but I was pretty much confused by it all, being so young.

Not only were the schools to integrate white and black students, they were to integrate white and black teachers as well. I was in the second grade.

A lot of people pulled their kids out of the public schools that year and a lot of public school teachers went to work for the private schools trying to handle the overload. That year at Casey Elementary School, they changed the teacher for my class three times.

My mother decided to try and prepare me for the third teacher because she was going to be different. Mother explained that the new teacher was half white and half black and I was to be nice to her and a good boy.

Now, I understood what white people were, and I understood what black people were, but a person half white and half black was new to me. As best I could figure, she must have stripes like a zebra or spots like a leopard or maybe she was white on one side of her body and black on the other side.

As you can imagine, I was pretty excited to meet this fantastical person.

When the new teacher arrived (I wish I could remember her name) it was quite a disappointment. She was neither striped, nor spotted, nor white on one side and black on the other. She was older than my other teachers and her skin was just a little darker than mine and she had curly hair.

Despite her lack of oddity, I tried to be nice to the new teacher, but she seemed very tired to me and uncomfortable in her new position.

The next year, I too went off to private school. Despite my father's liberal ideals, it was thought best for us kids to get away from the turmoil in the public schools. I moved to a parochial school though, not one of the Citizens Council schools.

Now that I'm grown, I wish I'd stayed in public school. My wife graduate from Murrah and she turned out pretty well. Things settled down after the first couple of years of integration and it might have done me some good to go to a school with a more diverse student body.

Model Of Jackson

Once upon a time, there was a small-scale model of downtown Jackson.

I remember it was displayed in the foyer of the auditorium for years when I was a kid. I'm sure there was a plaque or something on it saying who made it and why but I've long forgotten such details.

It was a huge thing, maybe eight feet long by four feet wide and included pretty much all of downtown.

Does anybody remember this? Does it still exist somewhere?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Terror and the Symphony Ball

When I was a kid, there was such a thing as the Jackson Symphony Ball, put on by the Jackson Symphony League. It was a really big deal. Patterned after the New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes, they had a king with a court and pages, costumes and dancing, and the whole thing was held in the Jackson Coliseum.

The idea was to make money for the Jackson Symphony (now the Mississippi Symphony). I don't know if it didn't actually raise any money or if it was too much trouble or what, but they haven't had a Symphony Ball this big in a long time.

My mother wasn't the kind of person to join a volunteer organization like the Symphony League without doing any actual volunteer work so one year she ended up in charge of all the costumes for the Symphony Ball. I remember racks and racks of costumes filling the living room and the dining room of our house and strangers in and out to try them on.

The King of the ball that year was the governor of Mississippi, John Bell Williams. Williams was a World War II hero and lost one arm in battle when his bomber crashed. Sometimes he wore a mechanical prosthetic arm that ended in two curved metal prongs.

Williams was an old style Democrat and had previously served in congress in Washington. He supported segregation but, as governor, he didn't fight the court order when it came down to desegregate Mississippi public schools.

Arrangements were made for the Governor to come by our house and try on his king costume before the ball. My dad had supported Williams' opponent in the governor's race so this was a slightly delicate moment.

My mother pulled us kids aside to tell us that a very important man was coming to the house and we were to be on our best behavior and be very polite and say "yes, sir" and especially not to stare because he had only one arm.

Determined to be a good boy, I spent the next day and a half preparing myself to meet this important man with one arm. I wasn't going to stare and I wasn't going to say anything stupid like, "Nice to meet you, we voted for William Winter." or "Hey mister, where's your arm?".

The big day came and a nicely dressed, older man came to the door in a dark suit with a hat. I was six years old.

Now, my mother was wise to warn us about meeting a man with one arm, and I was ready for that, even though I'd never met a man with one arm before.

What she didn't tell us was that he had replaced that arm with what appeared to me a gleaming metal HOOK like Captain Hook from Peter Pan, so I ran and hid on sight of it, not to come out until after the Governor had left.