Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Daily Peeves

Office-Bear_SleepSome random observations and pet peeves:

Urinal etiquette:  If you are entering a men’s room that has only three urinals in a row, all unoccupied, it is poor form to use the center urinal, in case some other man comes in immediately after you.  Men prefer to keep an arm’s length distance between themselves and other men while urinating.  I don’t know why this is so, but it is.  Please observe this at all occasions of micturition.

People who park in handicapped parking stalls because they are “only going to be a minute” should be put permanently into such state that they can use those spaces legally.  Besides my own dear Mrs. Animal, my mother and my father-in-law rely on those spaces; abuse of them by smartasses (or dumbasses, the two being frequently interchangeable) may be one of the few things that will drive me to physical violence.

I weep for the death of written and spoken English.  “No one” is two words.  You don’t “loose” a contest, you “lose,” you loser.  “Totes” are bags, not an acceptably abbreviation for “totally.”  “Ur” is an ancient Babylonian city, not an acceptable way to abbreviate “your.”  “Ne1” is not anyone, nor is it anything.  It’s not cool.  It’s not hip.  It’s wrong.  Stop doing it.

Related topic:  Capitalization and punctuation are important.  It means the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.  And what the hell ever happened to the concept of a query in written English?  If you are asking a question, your sentence should end with this piece of punctuation:  “?”  Learn it.  Know it.  Live it.

Yes-YOU-bearWhen the hell did it become socially acceptable to eat dinner in a nice restaurant while keeping your hat/cap on your damn pointy head?  Uncover your damn head while at the dinner table.  The only worse headgear faux pas is to fail to uncover when the flag passes by during a parade or event, or during the playing of the national anthem.  If you don’t have any damned respect for yourself, show some for the other people around you.

Ok, I feel better now.

Animal’s Daily News

Smiling BearSoldier Dies From Massive Erection After Firing .50-Cal For The First Time.  Understandable (and satire.)  Excerpt:

“He was liked by everybody in the unit. He always found a way to liven everyone’s spirits when training got tough. I know he was so excited to fire the .50-cal,” said Private Stephanie Taylor. “All he talked about for the week leading up to it were the weapon system’s capabilites. He actually walked around quoting the Army field manual about it.”

Witnesses stated that as Rojas began to fire the machine gun, he sprouted an erection which became so large it busted through the notoriously weak crotch seam of his ACU pants. Army medical officials listed his cause of death as priapism, described as “a persistent, usually painful, erection that lasts for more than four hours and occurs without sexual stimulation.”

“We probably shouldn’t have waited four hours to get him medical attention,” Taylor said. “We’ve all seen the ads, and should’ve known the risks. ”

Best line of the story:

Rojas fired his full combat load before passing out due to the lack of blood and oxygen in his brain.

Full combat load.  Heh.

MIGHTYTHOR_1_SIMONSONVARIANTI’ve fired the Ma Deuce, and it’s a thrill – not really sexual, as this wonderful bit of satire implies, but it’s as close as one can get to feeling like Thor, the God of Thunder, without possession of an Odin-enchanted hammer.

All kidding aside, the Ma Deuce is a remarkable piece of ordnance.  Adopted in 1933, it’s the longest-serving weapon in U.S. military inventories with one exception:  The .45 caliber Colt/Browning automatic pistol.  Both are Browning designs (the M2 was actually based on the earlier Browning 1921 water-cooled .50 caliber) and both are still the best examples of their type available.

Their value as a replacement for Cialis, though, remains doubtful.

Animal’s Daily News

Probably not actually one of our ancestors.
Probably not actually one of our ancestors.

Here’s some food for thought; over the last four million years or so, there have been quite a few human and near-human species wandering around, but today there is only one – us, H. sapiens.  (Some days I question that specific name, but there you are – thank Carolus Linneaus.)

But what if some other species, or several others, were still kicking around today?  Excerpt;

Imagine how things might have turned out had the Neanderthals or Denisovans survived alongside Homo sapiens. What kind of cultures, societies and political structures would have emerged in a world where several different human species coexisted? How, for example, would religious faiths have unfolded? Would the book of Genesis have declared that Neanderthals descend from Adam and Eve, would Jesus have died for the sins of the Denisovans, and would the Qur’an have reserved seats in heaven for all righteous humans, whatever their species? Would Neanderthals have been able to serve in the Roman legions, or in the sprawling bureaucracy of imperial China? Would the American Declaration of Independence hold as a self-evident truth that all members of the genus Homo are created equal? Would Karl Marx have urged workers of all species to unite?

Over the past 10,000 years, Homo sapiens has grown so accustomed to being the only human species that it’s hard for us to conceive of any other possibility. Our lack of brothers and sisters makes it easier to imagine that we are the epitome of creation, and that a chasm separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. When Charles Darwin indicated that Homo sapiens was just another kind of animal, people were outraged. Even today many refuse to believe it. Had the Neanderthals survived, would we still imagine ourselves to be a creature apart? Perhaps this is exactly why our ancestors wiped out the Neanderthals. They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.

Bear-stuffsIt’s an interesting thought.

Some years back the esteemed paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey stated that if you took a Neandertal, shaved him, put him in a suit and put him on a New York City subway (think for a moment of the typical denizens of the NY city subway system) he probably wouldn’t attract too much notice.  This is often quoted to imply that the Neandertal were “just like us,” which they weren’t – for one thing, you’d need to give Old Cuz a hat to cover his flattened and elongated cranium, otherwise suit or no, he’d look pretty odd.  But Leakey clarified his comment at a later point, adding that if you pulled the same trick with a Homo erectus, everyone would stare at him; if you did it with a Homo habilis, everyone would move to the far end of the car.

But forget for a moment what it would be like to have a family of Neandertals living next door; forget the implications to everything from government to religion to medicine.  I can think of one professional field in which our ancestors would have excelled; put a six and a  half-foot, robust, massively muscled H. heidelbergensis in the ring with any of today’s “professional” wrestlers, and the resulting match would, I suspect, be very, very short.

That’s a pay-per-view that I might actually kick in a few shekels to watch.

Rule Five Friday

2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (1)Am I a RINO?

 Full disclosure: I loathe the term “Republican in Name Only (RINO).” In my experience this term is generally used to describe any Republican who disagrees with the complainer on any given topic. Social-issues conservatives use it to describe libertarians, defense hawks use it to describe non-interventionists, and fiscal hawks use it to describe Bushian “compassionate conservatives.”

 It’s not that some of us – indeed, all of us – are not sometimes justifiably subject to criticism. It’s just that this term, RINO, has been battered around so much that it’s lost all meaning. It’s now the intellectual equivalent of shouting “TROLL!” on an internet message board. It doesn’t mean anything; it doesn’t draw any valuable distinction; it’s just a whine, an ad hominem with no significance – a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

 And, I’ll admit, part of my irritation with this term stems from having had it applied to myself, on more than one occasion. Why? Because I dare to think for myself, and depart from what some folks consider Republican orthodoxy.


 I’m an atheist. There’s an old saw that states “if a conservative is an atheist, he doesn’t go to church. If a liberal is an atheist, he tries to get any mention of religion removed from public life.” I’m perfectly happy if other folks are religious, and it brings them peace, solace and a sense of well-being. I don’t share their beliefs but t2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (2)hat doesn’t mean their beliefs are without value – to them. I say “Merry Christmas.” Why? Because that’s the name of the holiday. I am probably more irritated with activist leftie atheists than Christians are, because I get tarred with the same broad brush that the lefties are hit with in reply.

 And so to many Christian conservatives I’ve encountered, my atheism renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 I’m a (small-l) libertarian on most social and legal issues. I think the War on Drugs has been an unmitigated disaster and should be ended. I think the War on Poverty has been an unmitigated disaster and should be ended. I think the Imperial Federal government should get the hell out of things like education, commerce, child care and health insurance. I don’t see anywhere in the2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (3) Constitution that allows the Imperial Federal government to intervene in people’s personal decisions unless those decisions cause harm to someone else.

 So to many establishment-type and law-and-order conservatives I’ve encountered, my libertarian streak renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 I have a strong science background. I don’t “believe” in evolution; belief implies acceptance without evidence. There is plenty of evidence. In fact there are – literally – tons of evidence. I accept biological evolution, intellectually, as the best explanation of the present diversity of life on Earth, based on an examination of the (tremendous amounts of) evidence, evidence that includes varied fields such as genetics, zoology and paleontology. I understand climate change – that is, I understand that Earth’s climat2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (4)e has changed continually, cyclically, through most of the planet’s 4.55 billion year history, and that it will go on changing, whether Western civilization cripples itself to appease a few hysterics or not. And I understand that the Earth is 4.55 billion years old.  As liberal icon Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said(and he was, in this case, correct) people are entitled to their own opinions, but not there own facts.  As an Objectivist, I base my decisions and opinions on facts.

 So to many evangelical Bible-believing conservatives, my science background renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 And here’s the big one: I don’t think abortion should be illegal, within limits. Those limits?  I think limiting late-term abortions is reasonable, especially as the father of a 30-week preemie who is now a college student and a 2nd degree black belt.  And I think parental rights for minors trumps everything else – when my kids were minors, they couldn’t have a tooth pulled without parental consent, I’ll be damned if an invasive procedure should be exempt.  And finally, I object to public funding for abortions – again, not for moral reasons, but for economic ones.  The taxpayers are not responsible for people’s poor decisions; an abortion is an elective procedure, and should no more be done on the taxpayer dime than should a nose job.  But outside of those narrow exemptions, I think abortion should be legal and safe.

I think Roe V. Wade was bad constitutionally, as I think it intruded unreasonably on the principle of federalism – but my criticism of that finding is constitutional, not moral.  I also think things like this are appropriately handled at the state, not the Imperial Federal level. But I also don’t think government at any level should be making blanket legislation regarding medical decisions. And the moment you start carving out exceptions for every different circumstance, you 2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (5)eventually end up with – the IRS.

 So to many pro-life conservatives, my libertine stance on abortion renders me a suspicious character – maybe a RINO.

 On the plus side for almost everyone in the Republican Party, I’ve been a registered Republican and a reliable GOP voter since 1979. I’m a Life Member of the NRA and a long-time (40 years) Second Amendment activist (probably something of an understatement there.)

I wrote a book on the antics of hysterical (and almost universally left-wing) animal rights kooks. I think, and regularly write, that the three great, transcendent crises the United States faces today are the runaway Imperial debt, the unconstitutional ballooning of the Imperial Federal government and the rise of radical, fundamentalist Islam.

 But, as I said earlier, the term RINO is all too often used to describe any Republican that the complainer disagrees with on any given issue. And I’ve had it applied to me, by one or two (hundred) folks, because they differ from me on one or more of the above issues.

 That’s far too broad – and ridiculous – a brush.

A long time ago Ben Franklin quipped “We must all hang together, or we shall most assuredly hang separately.”  We of the political Right need to learn from him.  We need to remember that someone who disagrees with us 20% of the time agrees with us 80% of the time.

We’ll keep losing Presidential elections until we figure that out.

2015_02_13_Rule Five Friday (6)

Rule Five Friday

Here we are, with the first Rule Five Friday of 2015!  2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (1)

The year itself is a bit bemusing.  When I was a tad, growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I couldn’t have imagined what the year 2015 would look like.  If I had tried, I would have been mostly wrong.  I know for a fact (because I asked him) that the Old Man, who grew up in the 1920s and 1930s, is even more bemused by greeting 2015.

So what will 2015 have to offer?

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (2)Politics:  A new GOP Congress will be seated in a few days.  Will they rein in what has increasingly become an Imperial Presidency?  Will they get serious about tax reform, regulatory reform, immigration?  Recent history makes one skeptical.  The GOP’s strategy lately seems to be a writ-large version of Mitt Romney’s 2012 debate performance against President Obama; every time Governor Romney had an opening, every time there was blood in the water and he had the chance to move in for the kill – he bunted.  I’m afraid the GOP Congress will do likewise.

2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (3)In retrospect it seems likely that Mitt Romney is just too nice a man for political campaigning.  Maybe what the GOP needs now is a pit bull.  Maybe they need more pit bulls in the House and Senate.  The Democrats have always been good at playing hardball; it’s high time the GOP learned it as well.

Science:  As noted in our New Year’s Eve post, there is indication that 2015 might be the year that we find life somewhere other than Earth.  If it happens, that’s huge.  It’s probably past huge.  It’s an amazing thing to consider.  But there will be other advances, in genetics, in medicine, in paleontology, in technology – things we haven’t been able to imagine.  One of the frustrating things about 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (4)writing science fiction is coming up with some hyper-futuristic gizmo, writing it into a story, and then finding out someone has made one already.

That’s what makes science and technology fun.

The World:  Less cause for optimism.  Russia’s ongoing economic collapse may bring a halt to the dictatorial ambitions of Vladimir Putin, but then again they may not; the former chekist remains popular with the Russian people.  If he remains in control of Russia, look for his ambitions for lebensraum to continue.  Whether he chooses to run afoul of NATO or not is anyone’s guess, but this much is plain:  Putin looks at President Obama and sees an ineffective weakling.

So do many others around the world, which brings us to Iran, which rogue state is frantically refining uranium to build nukes.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., there is one chance in eight they will deploy a nuclear weapon in 2015.  Tel Aviv, 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (5)London and New York would all be high on the target list.

And yes, that would likely be the beginning of an overt World War Three.  At that time, yr. obdt. may well find an answer to the question “how bad will things have to get before the Army will start retreading fat old men like me?”

In the meantime, life goes on, which brings me to:

Personal stuff.

Outdoors:  Hopefully a trip to Alaska is on the agenda this year.  Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. were last in the Great Land in 2009, which is far too long.  Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder season deer/elk hunt in the Gore Range in the High Rock Creek/Farnham Creek area, west of Kremmling.  2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (6)It’s good country but higher than we’ve been hunting.  I used to hunt that country a lot but haven’t done so much the last few years; it will be interesting to get back into those mountains again.  I’ve always had good luck in that country.

Travel:  Starting the year in Ogden, Utah, a place I love.  But at mid-year something significant might happen; Mrs. Animal has applied to the JET program, which (if she is accepted) will have her spending a year in Japan, teaching English to Japanese elementary school kids.

That will be interesting, especially as I have enough flier miles to travel to Japan twice.  We both love Japan; the people, the country, the scenery.  Neither of us would want to live there permanently, mind.  We’re much too American for that.  But it’s a great place to 2015_01_02_Rule Five Friday (7)visit.

Family:  Last but not least, another grandbaby will make his/her appearance in late August or early September.  The Animal clan’s plan to breed the world into submission proceeds apace; look upon my works, ye mighty, and tremble!

So, bring it on, 2015!  We’re ready for ya.  To all True Believers, may your New Year be happy, healthy, and profitable.


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Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!
Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Yesterday over at PJMedia, Dr. Helen Smith presented this; Prostitution Was Made Illegal – Is Porn Next?  Excerpt:

So, marriage is all about what bargaining power women have and finding ways to get men married off to benefit society, women and children–and maybe get better “trading partners”? Seriously? There is no mention of the benefits to men directly, only how their participation will benefit others. So all men are to be sacrificed to the cause without thought to their rights, needs or desires? It’s no wonder they have turned to porn. Prostitution was made illegal — is porn next?

In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., prostitution and porn should be legal – but that’s a story for a different post.  What is interesting about this story is the assumed benefit of marriage, per se, to men, women and children.

It’s a popular meme to point out that children brought up in a home with two parents who are married tend to be happier, better educated and to succeed in life more than children of one-parent homes.  This assertion is used by lots of folks to promote stable marriage as the best living arrangement for families, and sure, it’s a good arrangement; Mrs. Animal and I have done very well in just Smiling Bearsuch an arrangement for 23 years now, and the Old Man and Mom will in March hit their 67th year as a happy married couple, with five happy, successful kids (if you can call five people in their fifties and sixties “kids.”)

But there’s an issue with the meme that I think is broadly overlooked.  I think the cause/effect relationship is reversed.

It’s probable that responsible, thoughtful, motivated people with good work ethics, people that value education and responsibility, tend also to be the kind of people who follow traditional paths through life – school, career, marriage, children.  Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, some in my own family.  We’re talking broad trends here.  And the broad trend is this – these are the kinds of people that tend to produce happy, educated, successful children.

So the cause-effect relationship isn’t “marriage-responsibility-children-success.”  It may well be “responsibility-marriage-children-success.”

Until some study comes out that convincingly makes the case that traditional marriage in and of itself somehow conveys personal responsibility on a couple, I remain skeptical.

Rule Five Friday

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (1)Could it be that, even with all the issues that we face today, there is cause for optimism?  It would seem so, at least set in the longer context of human history.  Take a look at for some data that will give reason for hope.  A few tidbits from that site:

In fact, for most of human history, life was very difficult for most people. People lacked basic medicines and died relatively young. They had no painkillers and people with ailments spent much of their lives in agonizing pain. Entire families lived in bug-infested dwellings that offered neither comfort nor privacy. They worked in the fields from sunrise to sunset, yet hunger and famines were commonplace. Transportation was primitive and most people never travelled beyond their native villages or nearest towns. Ignorance and illiteracy were rife. The “good old days” were, by and large, very bad for the great majority of humankind.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (2)Average global life expectancy at birth hovered around 30 years from the Upper Paleolithic to 1900. Even in the richest countries, like those of Western Europe, life expectancy at the start of the 20th century rarely exceeded 50 years. Incomes were quite stagnant, too. At the beginning of the Christian era (CE), annual incomes per person around the world ranged from $600 to $800. As late as 1820, average global income was only $712 per person.

Humanity has made enormous progress – especially over the course of the last two centuries. For example, average life expectancy in the world today is 67.9 years. In 2010, global per capita income stood at $7,814 – over 10 times more than two centuries ago.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (3)But forget for a moment the last two centuries, and let us consider just one lifetime – that of the Old Man, who a couple of weeks back saw his 91st birthday.  One of his earliest memories would have been around 1926 or 1927, and that was the memory of the night his younger brother Lee died – of pneumonia.  In today’s world, Lee almost certainly never would have been in any danger.  He also remembers having twin sisters, also younger than he, who died shortly after birth, following a long, difficult labor.  Again, today, they probably would have been delivered by C-section and survived.  It bothers to Old Man to this day to think how his mother felt to have lost three of her five children before any of them saw their third birthday.

But that kind of thing wasn’t that uncommon then.

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (4)Personally, I never had the chance to ask my paternal grandmother how she felt about any of that, because she died in 1944, aged fifty, a massive stroke almost certainly caused by undiagnosed hypertension.  Again, today, she would have been diagnosed and treated, and probably lived much longer.

Fast forward to my own children; our youngest daughter was born in 1996, three months early.  Mrs. Animal suffered through eclampsia and the labor was induced to save her life.  Both survived just fine, and our little Peanut is 18, now a second-degree black belt and a college student, so she obviously came out just fine – but a few days after the delivery the doctor presiding over this high-risk case told me “twenty years ago, they probably both would have died.”

It’s a great time to be alive.

Take some time and browse  One of the things you’ll come away with is that there is one great driver to human progress:  Liberty.  As their “About” page states:

2014_12_26_Rule Five Friday (5)While we think that policies and institutions compatible with freedom and openness are important factors in promoting human progress, we let the evidence speak for itself. We hope that this website leads to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world and stimulates an intelligent debate on the drivers of human progress.

Threats to freedom, threats to liberty and the rule of law are found all over the world, of course; most notably in the Middle East.  If one needs a reason to oppose the spread of Bronze age barbarity like that advocated by ISIL, Al Qaeda and the like, the Human Progress project will give you plenty of reasons.

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Animal’s Christmas Wishes

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!

No news today, not on this lovely Colorado Christmas Eve.  No deep thoughts, no musing, no notes on the passing scene.

Instead, today, just accept our best wishes from all here at the Casa de Animal (along with the concomitant Christmas Hump Day totty) and a heartfelt Merry Christmas to all True Believers!

Regular posts will return on (Rule Five) Friday.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!
Happy Hump Day!

Since yesterday’s comments were directed at a possible 2016 candidacy by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, it seems only fair to discuss an announcement today by a GOP candidate – Jeb Bush.  Once again Michael Walsh weighs in over at PJMedia; his comment:

Just what America needs: three presidents in one family, and the prospect of another Bush/Clinton election. A total disgrace to the American ideal. Jeb and the rest of the clan should reconsider before he embarrasses himself further.

I will second that and add my own, “Oh, HELL no!” to the chorus.

Yes, it’s a fair comment that, if Jeb Bush runs, his father and brother won’t be on the ballot.  Yes, it’s a fair observation to note that the electorate and the media should judge Jeb Bush on his own merits, and not those of his father and brother.

But they won’t.

bears-cute-awesome1-11Just as the tenure of Bill Clinton will be an issue in any possible Hillary Clinton candidacy, so will the Presidencies of the first two Bushes be in issue in any 2016 race involving Jeb Bush.  His father is remembered positively for the runaway success of the first Gulf War (seen as a success mostly because of our quick withdrawal with no attempts at nation-building) but was otherwise a tepid President at best.  And George W. Bush, fairly or not, will always be remembered as having presided over the economic collapse of 2008.

But the larger principle is this:  We are not supposed to be a nation with elite families.  Be they Roosevelts, Kennedys, Gores, Bushes or Clintons, the very idea of elite, ruling-class dynasties is something that should make any American shudder in horror.

That is why Jeb Bush should not run for President.

Animal’s Daily News

Silver BearIn the style of the esteemed Dr. Sowell, here today are some random thoughts and notes on the passing scene.

Some interesting work possibilities are in progress.  Bids are out on four projects; two in the Bay Area, one in Cleveland, and one in Ogden, Utah.  Of the four the Ogden job is vastly preferable.  As far as the work itself there is little to differentiate the four, but the Ogden area is vastly preferable to the others; quiet, scenic, friendly, reasonably close to home, and the climate and landscape are familiar.  We are reliably informed there is some great waterfowling in the area.

Sleepy-BearGasoline prices continue to drop.  We filled up Mrs. Animal’s Explorer today for $2.66 a gallon.  Before the Thanksgiving holiday gas here in the metro Denver area was over $3.  Apparently the Saudis are ramping up production to try to squeeze out the boom in North American shale production, but either way it’s good for consumers, and when the sheiks run out of oil the shale fields will still be there.  And they can’t touch us on natural gas production, which will continue.

The 2016 presumptive Democrat Presidential front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is underwhelming crowds.  In the considered opinion of yr. obdt., who has been a dedicated election-watcher since the 1976 contest, she won’t be the nominee.  She is carrying more baggage than a Samsonite factory, and she is old news.  And remember – she was the presumptive nominee in 2008 as well, and was adroitly taken out by a newcomer nobody much had heard of before that year.

Manly Arts.
Manly Arts.

One of our favorite state wildlife areas, the 891-acre Brush State Wildlife Area, no long requires reservations!  This SWA is a great place to jump-shoot some tasty wild mallards, and there are white-tailed deer, rabbits, a few pheasants, quail and squirrels on the land as well.  The Brush SWA is also not what most non-Coloradans think of when they think of our state; east of Ft. Morgan, it’s all Platte River lowlands, flat and lightly wooded with cottonwoods and ash trees.  It’s a fun place to take a shotgun and wander around for a couple of hours, and now that we can do it on short notice – which work schedules frequently mandate – it’s back on the list of Things That Need Doing.  Maybe this week sometime.

One that outdoorsy note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.