Random…Whenever: The Browser Tab Clearing Edition

I don’t know about you, but I seem to collect browser tabs like…like…well, like someone who collects a lot of stuff (feel free to provide a decent simile in the comments section). I do this with the thought in mind that if I find the content interesting, then surely the alert and brighter than average readers of the Gazette will, too. I have absolutely no basis for this belief, by the way. For all I know, the reader’s interest level for any given subject is actually indirectly proportional to my interest level. Nevertheless, as with the Dude, I abide.

But there comes a time when the rubber must hit the road, and I must either do something with those open tabs, or close and [probably] forget them…consigning them to that Great Path to the Underworld Paved With Good Intentions. And because things are a bit on the slow side today at Casa Fire Ant, I’m going to do the former. Buckle up and lets hit the interwebz (yes, that’s how we used to talk back when blogs were an unironic thing).

But first…do you remember when I posted videos of a variety of music that caught my attention a week or so ago? Of course you do. I started that musical journey with several songs that had West Texas as their primary subject. I just realized that I forgot one of the best ones.

Back in 2020, Miranda Lambert met up with Jack Ingram and Jon Randall on a ranch outside of Marfa, Texas, and armed with two microphones, two acoustic guitars, and I’m guessing a fair amount of adult libations, they recorded a terrific album creatively entitled The Marfa Tapes [here’s a pretty decent short review] which was released to critical acclaim (it was nominated for a Grammy) in 2021. I’ve found this album to be eminently re-listenable; it’s the antithesis to the slick Nashville, over-produced recording style with high-school boy mature lyrics (“cold beer and hot girls…“) that plagues country music today. And there’s kind of a love letter to West Texas on the last track of the album. Here ’tis; enjoy.

Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall — Amazing Grace (West Texas)

If you like the song and want to know more about it, check out this review from Vulture, New York (git a rope!) magazine’s entertainment offshoot.

  • Climate Science—No KISSing: This is a post on the Hotter Than A Habañero blog, a publication of the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. This article explores a couple of different ways to assess just how “eco-friendly” various forms of energy production and transportation really are. Their conclusions might surprise those who worship at the Holy Temple of Thunbergian Outrage.
Simpsons cartoon mocking wind turbines
What goes around…may or may not actually go around…
  • Do you live in a place where you have to rake a lot of leaves in the fall and/or spring? I do, and one of the biggest challenges is what to do with the leaves once they’re in a pile. The obvious answer is to put them in a big trash bag for disposal, but convincing 40-50 gallon trash bags to cooperate is a real pain. Enter the Easy Bagger, one of those slap-my-forehead simple inventions. It’s just a big sheet of stiff plastic that rolls out inside a trash bag to make it stand upright while you load it with…well, anything. Pair it with this giant dustpan and you’ll be a leaf-bagging machine that will be the envy of the ‘burbs.
Black and white AI-generated photo of a man looking at a giant pile of leaves.
This guy is wishing that he had an Easy Bagger and Giant Dustpan.
  • I’m sure that you have often gotten into an argument about which country is bigger, Turkmenistan or Kazakhstan. I know I have (spoiler alert: it’s the K Country). But how can you prove your superior knowledge of relative area of geopolitical entities? Well, it’s easy to do now that you know about www.comparea.org. You can even shame your neighbor from Rhode Island by comparing it to Texas, area-wise. I’d advise leaving the guy from Alaska alone, though.
A graphical comparison of the relative areas of Wichita Falls, Texas and the island of Aruba
Important information that you’ll only find in quality publications like this one.
  • Alert Gazette readers will no doubt recall that while I have absolutely no fear of snakes, I am unashamedly arachnophobic. And, yes, I realize that’s probably a character flaw, but I’m determined to hold onto it. That’s not to say that I’m completely uninterested in learning more about those creepy, malevolent, eight-legged freaks. I’ve occasionally wondered how likely it is that I’ll get bitten by a black widow spider. As it turns out, the likelihood is infinitesimal because it takes a lot to convince that species to bite…if you believe this article.
AI generated image of what it thinks is a black widow spider, even though it's not even close
If this is what AI thinks is a black widow spider, we have nothing to fear.
  • I recently learned that MLB doesn’t know what Rickrolling is. Given that she knows everything, this not only shocked me but it made me wonder whether there are other equally uninformed people walking amongst us. If you fall into that subset of the world population, allow Wikipedia to educate you.
You know the rules…and so do I.
  • Following surgery last September, I decided I needed to add some core strengthening exercises to my workout routine. In a moment of mental weakness (i.e. my normal state), I’ve started doing abdominal planks. I’ve managed to work my way up to an interminable two-minute plank — easily the most mind-numbingly boring two minutes of any day — and I wondered what the record is for the longest plank. As you might guess, there are some extremely — well, crazy isn’t really a very polite term so let’s go with motivated — people. The GBWR has a whole list of plank records in various categories, including one for hula hooping in the plank position. The longest plank on record: more than nine hours. The most frequent question about that record: “why?”
It’s good to have goals.
  • Pretty sure I got this next thing from someone’s Facebook post. It’s a website called Birthday Jams, and it purports to tell you what the #1 pop, R&B, and country songs were for any given date. I was going to try it with my birthday, but then I realized that music hadn’t yet been invented, so I went with the date of our wedding. Had I know that we could have had the intensely romantic ballad Will It Go Round In Circles by Billy Preston played during the ceremony, I would have rented an 8-track tape deck. [By the way, the #1 song in the UK on that date was Skweeze Me Please Me by Slade, the #1 R&B song was Doing It To Death by Fred Wesley & the J.B.’s, and the #1 Country song was Love Is The Foundation by Loretta Lynn. Judging by the song titles, Billy Preston was the least applicable to a wedding…or a wedding night. 🤣]
Faster fails?
  • Just when you thought you knew everything there is to know about screwdriver tips, they spring the Japanese Industrial Standard on us. This could be the explanation for a lifetime of mechanical mishaps on my part. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
The differences are…um…dramatic?
  • Automobile logos are fun, aren’t they? Especially when they feature or include animals. Here’s a website that claims to have the “complete list” of every car logo with an animal. Maybe they missed some; I have no idea. What I do know is that they need a remedial class in recognizing a ram.
Mockup of a ram's head on a bison skeleton
Buffaloat? Ramalo?
  • Did you know there exists a species of snake that has tentacles? Did you care? If you answered no to the first question and yes to the second, check out the imaginatively-named tentacled snake, via Wikipedia, a fish-eating denizen of southeast Asia. Whatever you might otherwise think about this snake, you have to be impressed by its ability to anticipate the direction a fish is going to flee in an attempt to escape becoming dinner. Also somewhat unique to this serpent is its freeze response when grabbed, putting it into the same behavioral family as opossums and fainting goats. Nature sure is funny sometimes.
  • Lastly, and definitely leastly, I’m intrigued by the possibilities suggested by this 2018 movie: The VelociPastor. Here’s the hook: After losing his parents, a priest travels to China, where he inherits a mysterious ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first horrified by this new power, a hooker convinces him to use it to fight crime. And ninjas. But, whatever you do, don’t read this synopsis on Wikipedia, because the plot of a film of this caliber shouldn’t be spoiled by, you know, spoilers.
Movie poster for The Velocipastor
Most of the movie’s budget was spent on making this poster.