Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy Leap Second

Once again, for the 23rd time since 1972, scientists plan to add a "leap second" to the world's clocks at the close of the year.

I don't understand: When I bought my atomic watch at Wal-Mart a couple of years ago it boasted an accuracy of one second in 100 million years.

I guess when we get older time goes by faster.

I sincerely hope you all are busy loving life and The Lord as much as I do, and that you are headed for a Blessed New Year!

-- Dalton Hammond

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Whatever

I like this. Wish I'd written it. -- D.H.

For My Liberal Democrat Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures who contribute.

For My Republican Friends:

Here's wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Trotter

A Pinehurst Trotter
Here is a picture that I took from my deck yesterday morning. Sharp-eyed followers of this blog will note that I have recently moved. -- D.H.

Copyright 2005, Dalton Hammond

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

Ferguson Center Harvest Moon

Full moon over Ferguson Center at Christopher Newport University
How about that full Harvest Moon the other night?

Here's a picture I made at the new Ferguson Center For The Performing Arts at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. -- Dalton Hammond

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Dealing With Mr. Peepers

When I was newly married -- several lifetimes ago it seems -- we lived on the second floor of a four-unit apartment building. The unit below us was rented to three or four college age young ladies, and the unit beside us was occupied by a young couple. On some evenings we could hear the guy beating his wife.

One night I heard a noise outside our bathroom window and when I looked out I saw some movement behind the bushes below us. When I stood up on the toilet and looked down through our blinds I could see the top of a guy's head. He was looking through the blinds into the girls' bathroom. A minute later I heard a toilet flush and I could see the guy creep around to the back of the building and disappear. I was pretty sure it was Mr. Bud Lite Wife Beater.

The next night I was ready. I had our bathroom window open, the blinds up, and the lights off. Pretty soon I heard the bathroom door close below me and I looked out. Sure enough he was there. He must have been waiting nearby for their light to come on.

I gave him a minute to get settled and then reached out the window and poured a whole pitcher of very old buttermilk in his direction. He scampered away quickly.

The next morning I went out and looked and found a trail of very gross buttermilk leading from the ground by the girls' window to around the back of the building.

I guess the guy had some explaining to do to his wife, but we never saw him out there again.

And that's the name of that tune.

-- Dalton Hammond

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Television Unified Field Theory

I have a theory which explains some things about television viewers. It is based on proven Quantum Theory, er, Mechanics, and is suitable for publishing in Nature Magazine, if anyone should care to try. Credit Dalton Hammond, please.

Everyone knows that the television cathode ray picture tube emits free electrons and also a few X-rays, and possibly even a gamma ray here and there. We also know that the higher-energy X- and gamma rays pass right through the glass envelope of the CRT into the viewer's room, and even into the viewer's body (read: brain). Of course the closer the viewer is to the set the more of the rays he/she will encounter. Obviously, over a long period of time the viewer will encounter more and more of the rays/particles/packets.

Now consider the particles that rain on us from the sun, supernovae, and even from the so-called Big Bang. One such particle (if you can call a nearly massless object a particle) is the neutrino. Every second of every day millions of neutrinos pass through the atmosphere, through our bodies, into the earth, and escape, undisturbed, back into space from somewhere near the Wall of China. About the only thing known to science that will get a neutrino's attention is a gamma ray, and sometimes neutrinos do collide with gamma rays, which is how they were detected in the first place, using a converted bong found in a Greenwich Village dumpster.

Now, what happens when the idle brain of a typical TV viewer watching Beavis and Butthead catches a stray gamma ray from his beloved 25-incher at the exact same time a neutrino from outer space decides to visit? I'll tell you what happens. As anybody knows, when a neutrino and a gamma ray collide, the result is a BLACK HOLE!

That's right, dear viewer, a Black Hole of sci-fi fame, from which not even light -- or even THOUGHT -- can escape. Right there in your brain.

And if that's not enough to worry about you could also consider the neutralino, but let's not get overly concerned about a particle that hasn't even been discovered yet.

You're welcome.
More of My Humor

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Things You'd Like To Say At Work

More of Wendy's pearls. Where does she find this stuff? -- Dalton Hammond


1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of crap.

2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.

3. How about never? Is never good for you?

4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.

5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.

6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.

7. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.

8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.

9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a damn word you're saying.

10. Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...

11. I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid.

12. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.

13. I have plenty of talent and vision; I just don't give a damn.

14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.

15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.

16. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.

17. The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.

18. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely

19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!

20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.

21. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.

22. And your crybaby whiny-assed opinion would be...?

23. Do I look like a people person?

24. This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.

25. I started out with nothing & still have most of it left.

26. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.

27. If I throw a stick, will you leave?

28. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.

29. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.

30. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.

31. A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.

32. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?

33. Too many freaks, not enough circuses.

34. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?

35. Chaos, panic, & disorder - my work here is done.

36. How do I set a laser printer to stun?

37. I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted a salary.

38. Who lit the fuse on your tampon?

39. Oh I get it... like humor... but different.

More of My Humor

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Embers at Ocean View 19-Aug-05

The Ocean View sky was clear, the moon was yellow, and The Fabulous Embers kicked some Beach Music Butt!

I've been a big fan of the Embers for over FOUR DECADES and they've never sounded better. Their sound mix was really good and the band played smarter rather than harder, resulting in a smoothly fitting jam session which they served elegantly. The Norfolk/Ocean View fans knew the words to most of the Embers hits and stayed until the last drum crash. A good time was had by all.

Check out The Embers' web site at

More of My Beach Music Pages

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Happy Birthday Honey

Hi folks. It has been a while since I attempted any poetry. But motivation and Divine inspiration came a few minutes ago when I realized that today is the birthday of my long-lost daughter who surfaced a few months ago after many, many years. We have been thrilled to find each other and we hope a person-to-person reunion is imminent.

The mood of the poem certainly reflects my present attitude and peace of mind. I think I like it better than any verse I've ever done. If you like it too, feel free to use it for whatever personal reasons you see fit. It is otherwise (c) 2005 by Dalton Hammond.

The Lord is faithful, just and true,
His Goodness to impart,
And if I had to make a wish
I'd not know where to start.

My cup so full, my life complete
I thought the Lord was through.
But just when I was out of dreams
He smiled and sent me You.

More of my poems

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Bird Breath

Bird Breath

This was in a "Best Of..." photo series a friend sent to me. -- Dalton Hammond

Saturday, June 25, 2005

More Internet Proverbs

More tidbits from Wendy...D.H.

Some of the best and most original "Musings" it's my pleasure to offer up for your review! Enjoy!

1. Birds of a feather flock together and crap on your car.
2. There's always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.
3. When I'm feeling down, I like to whistle. It makes the neighbor's dog run to the end of his chain and gag himself.
4. If you can't be kind, at least have the decency be vague.
5. Don't assume malice for what stupidity can explain.
6. A penny saved is a government oversight.
7. The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
8. The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then your body and your fat are really good friends.
9. The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
10. He who hesitates is probably right.
11. If you think there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody.
12. If you can smile when things go wrong, you have someone in mind to blame.
13. The sole purpose of a child's middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble.
14. Did you ever notice: When you put the 2 words "The" and "IRS" together it spells THEIRS"?
15. Did you ever notice: The Roman Numerals for forty (40) are "XL"

More Humor

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Fun Things To Do in a Lift (Elevator) Full of People

These have been around but some are actually worth trying. -- Dalton Hammond

Please make your choice :

  1. Make race car noises when anyone gets on or off.
  2. Shake the person's hand when he/she enters the lift.
  3. Congratulate all for being in the same lift with you.
  4. Blow your nose and offer to show the contents of your kleenex to other passengers.
  5. Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering: "Shut up, all of you just shut UP!"
  6. Whistle the first seven notes of "It's a Small World" incessantly.
  7. Sell Girl Scout cookies.
  8. On a long ride, sway side to side at the natural frequency of the elevator.
  9. Shave.
  10. Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside ask: "Got enough air in there?"
  11. Offer name tags to everyone getting on the elevator. Wear yours upside-down.
  12. Stand silent and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.
  13. When arriving at your floor, grunt and strain to yank the doors open, then act embarrassed when they open by themselves.
  14. Lean over to another passenger and whisper: "Noogie patrol coming!"
  15. Greet everyone getting on the elevator with a warm handshake and ask them to call you Admiral.
  16. One word: Flatulence!
  17. On the highest floor, hold the door open and demand that it stay open until you hear the penny you dropped down the shaft go "plink" at the bottom.
  18. Do Tai Chi exercises.
  19. Stare, grinning, at another passenger for a while, and then announce: "I've got new socks on!"
  20. When at least 8 people have boarded, moan from the back: "Oh, not now, motion sickness!"
  21. Give religious tracts to each passenger.
  22. Meow occasionally.
  23. Bet the other passengers you can fit a quarter in your nose.
  24. Frown and mutter "gotta go, gotta go" then sigh and say "oops!"
  25. Show other passengers a wound and ask if it looks infected.
  26. Sing "Mary had a little lamb" while continually pushing buttons.
  27. Holler "Chutes away!" whenever the elevator descends.
  28. Walk on with a cooler that says "human head" on the side.
  29. Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce "You're one of THEM!" and move to the far corner of the elevator.
  30. Burp, and then say "mmmm...tasty!"
  31. Leave a box between the doors.
  32. Ask each passenger getting on if you can push the button for them.
  33. Wear a puppet on your hand and talk to other passengers "through" it.
  34. Start a sing-along.
  35. When the elevator is silent, look around and ask "is that your beeper?"
  36. Play the harmonica.
  37. Shadow box.
  38. Say "Ding!" at each floor.
  39. Lean against the button panel.
  40. Say "I wonder what all these do" and push the red buttons.
  41. Listen to the elevator walls with a stethoscope.
  42. Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers that this is your "personal space."
  43. Bring a chair along.
  44. Take a bite of a sandwich and ask another passenger: "Wanna see wha in muh mouf?"
  45. Blow spit bubbles.
  46. Pull your gum out of your mouth in long strings.
  47. Announce in a demonic voice: "I must find a more suitable host body."
  48. Carry a blanket and clutch it protectively.
  49. Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.
  50. Wear "X-Ray Specs" and leer suggestively at other passengers.
  51. Stare at your thumb and say "I think it's getting larger."
  52. If anyone brushes against you, recoil and holler "Bad touch!"

Sunday, May 22, 2005

More Miles Per Gallon

Here's a product that can save you a LOT of money on gasoline. I am getting paid nothing for this report; I just wanted to pass it along. -- D.H.

Dollar SignsAt 150,000 miles my 1993 Cadillac was suffering from poor gas mileage. I was getting under 9 miles per gallon in town and about 14 on the road, as opposed to the new car sticker specs of 15 and 25. At $2.39 per gallon for high-octane I was suffering more than my car was.

I tried everything I could think of. I paid a quick lube shop to clean the engine throttle body, which it needed badly. I even replaced the original spark plugs (at 150,00 miles I figured it was time). All to no avail. Various gas treatments I tried didn't help.

Then, on a recent road trip, I bought some STP Fuel Injector Cleaner at a 7-11 just outside of town. What a difference it made!

By the time I had traveled fifty miles my fuel efficiency indicator was showing over 20 miles per gallon, and on the way home it reached an average of 26.5. After about a month I noticed that the cheap gas I was buying was clogging my fuel injectors again so I tried another bottle of S.T.P. with the same result; around 16.5 m.p.g. in town, which is better than I was getting when I first got the car twelve years ago. At under $3 a bottle every four or five tankfuls it's the best thing I have found to help my strained budget.

This story is true. I recommend this stuff to all my friends. Just be sure to get the black bottle that says "Contains Jet Fuel". STP Fuel Injector Cleaner. It WORKS!

-- Dalton Hammond

Friday, May 20, 2005

Be All You Can Be

I've been unable to verify this story...-- Dalton Hammond

Twenty-eight years ago Herman James, a West Virginia mountain man, was drafted by the Army.

On his first day in boot camp, the Army issued him a comb.
That afternoon, an Army barber sheared his head.

On his second day, the Army issued him a tooth brush.
That afternoon, an Army dentist yanked several of his teeth.

On his third day, he was issued a jock strap.
The Army is still looking for him.

More Jokes

Monday, May 16, 2005

Hail to the Chiefs

Don't get me wrong; I think we Americans should support our country instead of tearing it down, especially since

After all these years we should be used to having idiots for President.

-- Dalton Hammond

BONUS: Here's one I lifted from The Prairie Home Companion

A guy walks into a bar and is considering what he'd like to drink. He spots a strange-looking bottle full of a blue liquid. He calls the bartender over and asks, "What's that?"

The bartender says, "Oh, that's new. That's liquid Viagra."

"Okay," the guy says. "Pour me a stiff one."

from Brad Strickland, Oakwood, Georgia

More Jokes

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rhythm of the Rain

In the early 1960s I quit radio station WKIX (the first of three times) after two frigid winters of doing a remote broadcast request show from a local drive-in restaurant and moved to sunny Florida to make my fortune, with no job in sight. I stayed with a friend for a week or so in Tampa until he found me a job to get rid of me.

I ended up at a station in nearby Lakeland and one day I got a call from my friend in Tampa saying a member of the then-popular vocal group The Cascades (Rhythm of the Rain) was in town and would come do a free appearance for me at a Friday night record hop I hosted at a local skating rink. I said sure, and drove over and picked up the Cascade.

That night at the hop he lip-synched the song Rhythm of the Rain rather poorly, I thought, but the two groupies I had lined up to meet him were impressed enough to go for a ride with us in my 1962 Ford Falcon after the show. We rode around until one in the morning before deciding to head for my apartment.

We were turning into my parking lot when the car behind us turned on the flashing red lights. My girl's mother had called the police. We learned that the girls were only fifteen! The Cascade and I were twenty. The girls sure looked older.

My boss came down and got us out of jail and the Cascade stayed with me for a day or two, disappearing for a couple of hours each day and coming back each time with cash, wired to him by his agent, he said. Finally he disappeared completely and a few weeks later I heard that he had been picked up in Orlando for grabbing money out of a merchant's cash drawer. The guy was not a real Cascade, just a total con.

Sometimes I wonder how I lived long enough to grow up.

-- Dalton Hammond

More Radio Stories

Thursday, May 12, 2005

History of Iridium Flares

I have been a member of the internet SeeSat-L newsgroup for many years, which led to my hobby of observing low-orbit Earth satellites. Several years ago an investment group began launching dozens of communications satellites that would enable telephone communications from anywhere in the world. They planned to orbit a total of 77 birds in all which, coincidentally, is the Periodic Table number of the rare metal Iridium, which turned out to be the name they chose for their system, purely for want of a better one.

Shortly after the launches began, keen-eyed SeeSat-L members began noticing that the Iridium satellites passing overhead would sometimes become very bright -- many times brighter than the brightest star -- only to fade away in a few seconds. The group members decided that the two door-sized main mission antennas on the birds were catching the sun's light and reflecting back to the observer on the ground, like a signal mirror.

I was following this thread with great interest since I had purchased stock in the fledgling Iridium company (and sold it at a very nice profit). One of the group members, a rocket scientist named Rob Matson was following it too, asking questions about the observations and the construction and in-orbit guidance of the satellites. Within a couple of weeks Matson had worked out a computer algorithm that was able to predict when and where on Earth the birds would suddenly flare up. He called them "flares", although his peers preferred the term "glints", and the name stuck. All of today's Iridium prediction software use his algorithm.

A few months later I learned that the astronomy club I belonged to had been invited to bring our telescopes and present a star party during a cookout hosted by the local Mensa Society, many of whom were engineers and scientists at NASA Langley. I wondered what I could possibly find in the sky to impress these folks, and went to my computer.

The cookout date coincided with a nice pass of the Russian space station Mir and I began to feel that I had something of interest to the Mensans. Then I cranked up Matson's SkyMap. Voila! A bright MINUS SIX Iridium Flare! I could hardly contain myself as I wrote down the predictions, and smirked.

On the evening of the cookout I looked around the yard and counted over fifty Mensa geniuses and maybe fifteen of us mortal astronomer guests. None of my friends there had ever heard of Iridiums. I looked at my watch which was set to the exact second and thought "This-had-better-work!"

The Mir pass was right on time and lasted for a couple of minutes, giving the Mensans time to come over and see what we were looking at over our heads. I took the opportunity to explain that in a few minutes another satellite, invisible at first, would suddenly brightly appear for a few seconds, and I pointed out a good location in the side yard where I'd meet them.

With two or three minutes to go I started calling out for everyone to join me -- and they all did. Every last person in the yard was soon standing in a gaggle as I pointed to a spot in the sky where our flare would appear, hopefully. With ten seconds to go I nervously looked away from my watch, took a big gulp, and pointed to the sky as I counted down.

When I reached "two" the sky where I was pointing suddenly lighted up like a flashbulb for about three seconds and an awesome "Ahhhh" arose from the Mensans as the entire group broke into appreciative applause.

It was one of those magic moments.

-- Dalton Hammond

More of My Astronomy

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Guilty Until Proved Innocent

I admit it; I lifted this one from the Toastmasters web site. -- Dalton Hammond

A man was pulled over for speeding down the highway. The officer came to the driver's window and said, "Sir, may I see your drivers license and registration?"

The man said, "Well, officer I don't have a license. It was taken away for a DUI."

The officer, in surprise, said, " What? Do you have a registration for the vehicle?"

The man replied, "No sir, the car is not mine. I stole it, but I am pretty sure I saw a registration card in the glove box when I put the gun in it."

The officer stepped back, "There is a gun in the glove box?!?"

The man sighed and said, "Yes sir, I used it to kill the woman who owns the car before I stuffed her in the trunk."

The officer stepped toward the back of the car and said, "Sir do not move, I am calling for backup."

The officer called for backup and about ten minutes another highway patrolman arrived. He walked up to the window slowly and asked the man for his driver’s license and registration. The man said, "Yes officer here it is right here."

It checked out so the officer said, "Is there a gun in the glove box sir?"

The man laughed and said, "No, officer, why would there be a gun in the glove box?" He opened the glove box and showed him that there was no gun.

The second officer then asked him to open the trunk because he had reason to believe that there was a body in it. The man agreed and opened the trunk. No dead body.

The second officer said, "Sir I do not understand. The officer that pulled you over said that you did not have a license, the car was stolen, there was a gun in the glove box, and a dead body in the trunk."

The mans looked the officer in the eyes and said, "Yeah and I'll bet he said I was speeding too."

More Jokes

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Dalton Hammond on the LPGA Tour

My friend Mark talked me into going with him to the MIchelob Ultra LPGA golf tournament this afternoon in Williamsburg, VA, although at first I didn't want to go.

I tried every excuse I could think of: "It might rain." "I don't want to do all that walking." "It'll be too crowded", et cetera.

When I voiced my best excuse, "I don't want to spend the money for a ticket" he told me "Don't worry, every time I go to one of these things a stranger on the shuttle bus always comes up with some free tickets for us."

"Fat chance", I thought. But it turned out to be a pleasantly cool, sunny afternoon and since I really had nothing better to do I agreed to go.

The shuttle bus from the parking lot was pulling up to the ticket gate and Mark hadn't said a word, so I decided to speak up. In a voice that could be heard all over the bus I asked him, "Now where do we go to buy our tickets?"

Just then a fellow sitting across the aisle from us leaned over and said "You guys need to BUY your tickets? I've got a couple of spares, take these", and handed me two complimentary gate passes.

"Unbelievable", I thought. Mark just smiled.

I had a great time, the girl-watching was superb, and we got to see Annika and all the stars of the LPGA do their thing on the newly renovated Kingsmill River Course under beautiful Spring skies.

The moral of this story: "Even a turtle gets nowhere until he sticks his neck out."

-- A tired but happy Dalton Hammond

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Women Seeking Men

I know that spelling doesn't come easy for some people, but I'll never understand why they don't run a check on their spelling and word usage before they advertise their illiteracy all over their web log, or worse, their Personals ads.

I'll probably catch pure Hell for this, but here goes:


"'Peek' my interest", their ads say
Expecting me to come their way.
While others write in hopes to seek
A man their curiosity to "peek".

While meaning not to be oblique
My fervour they could never pique
And my love I would never sell
To some dumb broad who cannot spell.

-- By Dalton Hammond

More Poems

Monday, May 02, 2005

2005 Iditarod Report

Remember my story a few months ago about the Iditarod -- The Great Trail Sled Dog Sled Race? Well, my friend is back from Alaska and has thawed out, and files this captivating photo report on the great race, and on life in the northernmost part of the United States. Oh, and as you read it keep in mind that she is a great-grandmother! -- Dalton Hammond

Why Nome?

'Why do you go to Nome?' -- the most asked question about my adventures on the frozen coast of the Bering Sea. My answer…'there’s no place like Nome'. Nome, born of the gold rush, was everything and nothing that I’d expected in 2004 when I ventured there to volunteer at the end of the greatest long distance race on earth. The small town of approximately 3,000 people stole my heart. What a great place to be! That’s why I went back this year to once again volunteer my time for the Iditarod.

The flight from Anchorage to Nome is a venture in itself. My flight left the Anchorage Airport about 30 minutes late (nothing unusual for airlines in Alaska). There were other volunteers and Iditarod officials on board, which made the flight entertaining. We flew first to Kotzebu (an Eskimo village within the Artic Circle) to take some cargo and pick up high school basketball players, both boys and girls, that had played in a tournament there and were on their way back to Anchorage.

Landing in Nome is uneventful. The excitement is being able to land at all. My airplane on Sunday night, March 13, was the last flight that was able to get into Nome until Wednesday afternoon, March 16. You see only scattered buildings as you approach the landing strip. As we disembarked, you immediately notice the difference between the Nome Airport and what most of us are accustomed to in the lower 48. As you emerge from the airplane and down its stairs into the cold and wind, all you can see is a lone one story building surrounded by the machinery of flying, but hardly welcoming. And yes, you exit down a flight of steps at the back of the airplane onto the frozen ground. There is most always cargo in the front of the airplane. Upon entering the terminal (that’s also questionable), you are welcomed by stifling heat and a crowd of folks standing about waiting for their luggage. It’s a little uncertain as to where baggage claim really is at the Nome Airport; it’s wherever the handlers decide to put your bags and up to you to find them.

Nome will definitely leave an impression on you. There are no tall buildings, the streets are icy and the tires occasionally spin as they strive to grip the road. I was picked up in a van driven by another volunteer (Rudy) who has volunteered at both the beginning and the end of the race for years. Rudy put 5 of us in his van, told another 5 to wait; it would not take him long to drop us off. Of course it would not take long, the town is so small, you could actually walk from the airport if it were warmer, the roads not icy and you had no luggage to haul! The building above is where I worked most of the time. It is the recreation center for the village and is located on the main street of Nome (Front Street) with the frozen Bering Sea behind.

My hotel this year left a lot to be desired! It was built in the early 1900’s and was probably built originally as a bordello or rooming house…I think the first. I had been warned about the hotel, but staying cheap was my goal this year since I knew I would be working most of the time. I changed rooms three times before I settled on a room I felt was in the quietest area. Because the hotel is very cheap…there are a lot of natives that stay there for Iditarod week. Of course they are there to “party” not work, so they stay drunk for the week. One morning I was accosted by a native woman in the very tiny lobby of the hotel. She wanted to buy drugs. After explaining that I was there to work and did not have any drugs, she allowed me to leave the hotel. Another morning I had to tip toe around a drunk passed out on the steps leading down to the lobby. And another morning there was yelling in the hall about 4:30am which of course did not set well with me since I had to be at work at 7am. Finally on the last day four natives were checked into the room directly across the hall from me. I had enough so I checked out of that hotel and went to another very old hotel, but well maintained and not noisy, for my last night in Nome. I needed a good nights rest because I was leaving at 6:30am the next morning, had an 11 hour layover in Anchorage which I planned to spend with my friends, and then an overnight flight home, so I knew I needed a good nights rest. It was also good to have my own bathroom (had to share in the other hotel) and have a television and telephone. I felt like I was in a Ritz Carlton after the first hotel. Needless to say, I will not be staying there again!

The photo above is where I spent all but one night of my stay this year. Hopefully next year I will be sharing an apartment with the parents and sister of one of the mushers, my friend Aliy. We met last year at the Bed and Breakfast where we both stayed, and then this year I worked some with Aliy’s mother. We will start to look for an apartment soon as all the better places fill up fast. There are not many options. The mushers stay with host families in the village.

This is me with Aliy and one of her lead dogs, Dugan. Dugan retired this year and is going to a good home to become a 'couch potato'.

Most of the volunteers make do with foot power in Nome. We truck from hotel rooms and apartments to the finish line and to the headquarters, all hours of the day and night, often alone, something most of us would not do in the “real world”, shivering in the cold with layers of clothing, only to break out in a sweat as we move indoors. This year was much warmer than usual in Nome. It got up to 30-35 degrees during the day, which is not good for the dogs and mushers. And as it turned out, the weather was not good for me either. On Wednesday, March 16, the teams started coming into Nome. One of my jobs during the week was to work security at the finish line. I would walk about a quarter of a mile down the street when they come into Nome, to get the spectators back from the street and away from the dogs. Then I would run up the street with the dogs to keep people from trying to pet them or get in their way. Then when they got to the finish line, I would have sometimes one to two hours before the next team. I got hot running, then cool down, then hot again. As a result, I came home with a really bad case of laryngitis and a head cold. I could not talk above a whisper for more than a week.

This is a picture the morning the winner came in of me working security at the finish line.

Many of the mushers came into Nome with colds. And some of the dogs got pneumonia from over heating in the daytime and then the cold at night. They were just not used to it being that warm. There were 14 teams that dropped out due to the weather conditions their dogs were not used to. The dogs really do well at not more than 10-15 above zero and down to 30 below.

Fans, volunteers, mushers and Nome residents all blend together during Iditarod. Without names, you quickly begin to recognize faces. The first few days are considered the learning curve. Last year was mostly learning, although I still felt I was an asset to the volunteer staff. This year the lessons I had learned were: cell phones do not work in Nome, airplanes are never on time, sometimes no one gets in or out of Nome for days due to blizzards, and the place to hang out and get some really local food (notice I did not say GOOD local food) is Fat Freddie’s.

Nome certainly reflects our past. The town is still isolated in some ways. There are two scheduled flights per day in and out of Nome, but those are always subject to cancellation or delays due to extreme weather or they may have to fly somewhere else first to take cargo that is not normally on their route. There are no roads and it is too far to do much traveling by sleds or snow machines. All you have to do is look out at the frozen Bering Sea just a short distance from the finish line to realize how frail human structures can be.

Nome has withstood the onslaughts of wind and snow for many years and yet it is still there clinging to its foundations. You can close your eyes and see history there. It is more the old way of life than in Anchorage and villages surrounding the bigger city. You can literally imagine yourself on the runners of a dog sled and for a moment you are transported back through history, seeing Nome as it may have been in 1925 when Leonhard Seppala and the other musher heroes and their dogs saved the lives of Nome’s children by getting the serum there to treat the diphtheria epidemic.

The most fun job this year was getting the information area organized and training new volunteers to work the area. Last year was a little frustrating due to my being new and it being totally unorganized. I communicated with the Nome coordinator this year beginning in January. I emailed my ideas on how to make the area more organized so upon arriving in Nome on the evening of the 13th, I was handed a stack of written material (everything you could possibly want to know about the Iditarod and the mushers this year) and told to organize it for the information desk. After doing that my first morning there, I set out to recruit volunteers that I could train to cover the position when I was working in another area or just simply needing a break. In doing this I met and became instant friends with three people from the Anchorage area. One was “Will” and his wife 'Zuleen'. Will is the flight doctor for bush pilots in Alaska, Zuleen is a nurse. Their friend Kandy is a Merle Norman Beauty Consultant. All three were so much fun and easy to get to know.

This is me updating the “leader board” in the recreation hall. We have every mushers name on the board with all the checkpoint locations. We log in time they arrive in a checkpoint and how many dogs they have. Then we log the time out and how many dogs. The board is for the spectators, friends and family of the teams. We keep all the times using military clocks Since we use military time in the radio world, I am accustomed to it and have no problem translating for those not familiar.

Most of the regulars were back to work the souvenir merchandise sales, so I stayed away from that this year. I found it much more interesting to be in the information area answering questions for spectators in person and people from all over the world calling with questions about the race or where their favorite dog team was at that moment.

Here I am with Charlie Boulding…a real character! He is originally from North Carolina but moved to Alaska in 1983. He lives with his wife in the bush in central Alaska. They have no running water and no electricity. They hunt and fish in the winter for their food. This was Charlie’s last Iditarod and unfortunately he had to drop out because the weather was too warm for his dogs. He plans to volunteer now and maybe run some shorter races.

I spent a limited amount of time in the dog lot. If I had not gotten a slight head cold and a bad case of laryngitis the last three days I was there, I would have worked there more. It was enough however, to fall in love with 'Heidi' -- a sweet, good natured mixed breed that finished this year in 11th place as part of Aliy Zirkle’s team. Each year I fall in love with lots of dogs but there is always one that stands out as being truly special. Heidi wanted to come live in North Carolina, but her musher said she needed her to race a few more years, so we parted with a big hug from me and a sloppy kiss from her. Now to answer the question “why do I go to Nome”? Heidi and several hundred dogs like her are the reason I go. I feel like I am doing something for them. All you have to do is be there to see them at their kennels get so excited when their musher or handler comes into the lot with harnesses. They jump into the air barking as hard as they can. This is their way of saying “please choose me today…I want to run”. Or come to Nome just one time to see the dogs come across the finish line. They are so happy and still eager to run even though they have just run over 1100 miles on the most rugged trail in extreme weather conditions.

This is Heidi and I am currently using her picture as my screensaver at work. Below is another sweet face. I wanted to show you the igloo built by the handler of this dog. The igloos were ready for the dogs on this team when they got into Nome. They were built with large balls of snow and positioned so they cut off the wind which was very strong much of the time.

This is Zoro with the beautiful blue eyes. And below are a couple more sweeties.

And this is Blossom…another of my favorites!

I hope that answers the question many of you have asked me several times…and the question my husband continues to ask every year. I go because I love the dogs…I find the mushers extremely interesting and a joy to get to know…and…there’s NO PLACE LIKE NOME!

The best long distance runners
eat raw meat
run naked
and lay in the snow

(From an Alaska Airlines t-shirt)

Dallas Seavey coming into Nome…the youngest musher to ever run the Iditarod. He turned 18 one week before the start on March 5. His father, Mitch Seavey, won Iditarod last year. His brother Tyrell, 19 years old, ran this year and finished 16th. Their dad finished 3rd.

Not your average great-grandmother, huh? -- Dalton Hammond

Iditarod -- The Great Trail Sled Dog Sled Race

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ducks Go Shopping

Mallard duck hen and babies go shoppingToday was a nice day. Why not take the whole family grocery shopping?

Needless to say, this momma mallard and her brood caused no small stir in the Harris-Teeter parking lot this afternoon. Store management was experienced with this sort of thing and the hen and her nine babies were soon relocated to a nearby ditch from whence they came.

All in a day's work.

-- Dalton Hammond

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

O Beautiful, For Darker Skies

M83 barred spiral galaxy
Have you ever looked at a picture of a majestic spiral galaxy like the one -- M83 -- pictured here and wondered what it would be like to live in one?

Get ready for this: We DO!

Our planet Earth, the Sun, and all of our neighboring planets are situated about two-thirds of the way out one of the stellar arms of a barred spiral galaxy like M83, that we call the Milky Way.

Composed of billions of stars so far away that the spiral arm we live in looks to us like a trail of milk painted across the night sky, the Milky Way can no longer be seen, indeed has NEVER been seen, by millions of Earth's residents because of artificial light pollution.

While unwanted light is mainly a big problem to professional and amateur astronomers who study the stars, it prevents us all from enjoying the beauty and majesty of the universe we live in. Entire generations of city dwellers and suburbanites worldwide have been deprived of ever being able to see the magnificent river of stars above us.

Fortunately, lighting engineers have developed new ways of giving us nighttime illumination for commerce and security that doesn't invade our night skies, and may in fact be less expensive to operate than traditional lighting. But much work must be done to educate the public and our elected officials, and to pass laws enabling the new lighting provisions.

Lights should illuminate the ground. Light directed to the sky is wasted, expensive, and pollutes the night.

You can get involved in restoring our nighttime sky. Check out the International Dark-Sky Association and see how you can help save the Milky Way.

Look up an astronomy club near you, visit one of their public star parties and look through their telescopes at the wonders above us in the night sky. You and your family will love the experience.

May your skies be clear -- and DARK.

-- Dalton Hammond

Some Dark Sky Treats

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Cat and the Mockingbirds

Several years ago I was pulling into my assigned parking space in front of my apartment when I noticed my neighbor's housecat crouched on the lawn in front of the apartment building. He was studying a mockingbird that was sitting high up on the roof ridge of the adjoining building on the left. It was clear to me that the bird was taunting the cat, calling to him in squawks and screeches that only a mockingbird can produce. The cat lay perfectly still, watching the bird from the corners of its eyes, pretending not to notice.

After a few minutes the bird grew silent and right away another mockingbird joined in the heckling from a roof on the building to the right. The cat remained still but slowly cast its eyes in the direction of the second bird.

I decided that the cat's ego was taking a bad bruising but since the birds were high up and far away that they were in no danger, so I went inside.

The next day when I got home from work I found the same scenario. The birds were again on the rooftops and the cat was back in the yard enduring the harassment. This drama continued for several days.

After about a week I noticed that the birds had become more daring. They would first heckle the cat with their raucous calls, then swoop down just over his head like a dive bomber, taking turns on him, then return to the roofs.

One day as I pulled up I saw the cat eyeing the mockingbirds which were on the ground on either side of him about thirty feet away, both still heckling. The cat remained still and took it all in. It began to seem possible that if the birds got too adventurous one of them might get killed, scaring off the second one for good, teaching him a good lesson in manners.

The next morning when I went out to my car, on the ground I found TWO separate piles of mockingbird feathers.

-- Dalton Hammond

Another Mean Bird Story

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Words Women Use

Thanks to Wendy for the following translations. -- Dalton Hammond

This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

Five Minutes
If she is getting dressed, this is half an hour. However, five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house

This is the calm before the storm. This means 'something' and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with 'nothing' usually end in 'fine'.

Go Ahead
This is a dare, not permission, DON'T DO IT!

(Loud Sigh)
Although not actually a word, the Loud Sigh is often misunderstood by men. A Loud Sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over 'Nothing'.

That's Okay
This is one of the most dangerous statements that woman can make to a man. 'That's Okay' means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

This is the least used of all words in the female vocabulary. If a woman is thanking you, do not question it, just say you're welcome and back out of the room slowly.

More Jokes

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Death by Hummingbird

The hummingbirds are back from their winter vacation in Mexico. My first hummer visitor of 2005 showed up a few minutes ago and has already taken a few large swigs from the feeder which I fill with a mix of one part sugar to four parts water.

I read that the females mostly stay in the nest and that it is the males which come to the feeder. The cute little things can be quite aggressive, guarding the feeder and driving off smaller males. I can attest to that with this grisly true story. -- D.H.

One day as I sat in my office chair, I watched a drama I'll never forget. Outside my window a small hummingbird was trying to get to the feeder but was being attacked by a larger male. The smaller bird finally succeeded in perching on the feeder and had just begun to sip when the larger bird swooped down and alighted on the young one's back, as if to mate. As I watched from four feet away, the larger bird suddenly drove his stiletto-like bill into the other's back just below the neck, and both birds toppled into the thick pachysandra ground cover below the feeder.

While what I had just seen was trying to sink into my reverie, the larger hummingbird flew out of the pachysandra and perched on the feeder. He then spat out a foamy wad of blood, shook his head once, and began to feed.

-- Dalton Hammond

My Hummingbird Poem

Monday, April 18, 2005

Heron Sketch

I was on my pier taking film pictures through my 8-inch reflector telescope one day when this heron appeared over the tops of the marsh grass. He was molting or something and kept pecking at his feathers with his beak, leaving himself looking rather scruffy. I decided to use his picture for a sketch, and after a few tricks with the scanned photo image in Adobe Photoshop this is what came out.

I kinda like it and gave small framed prints of him to almost everybody I know for Christmas a few years ago.
Heron Sketch
(c) 2005, Dalton Hammond

More of My Pictures

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Forwarded Emails

First, here's the link to a great article about forwarded emails.

Now, I'm going to quote from the article, but you should hit the above link and read his essay for yourself.

Then send it to everyone you know. -- D.H.

One of the great mysteries of life is why people think they're ever, EVER, making anyone happy by forwarding garbage emails... and virtually ALL sorts of emails that get mass-forwarded ARE garbage.

People get terribly offended when I say that; their usual retort is, "But, it's a way to show people I care, and that I want to keep in touch." First off, you do NOT show "caring" by sending out what is essentially spam to people, and secondly, it is NOT "keeping in touch" to pass someone else's email along. If you truly want to keep in touch with people, invest 30 more seconds and type "Hi, how have you been?" and send THAT instead (using BCC so they don't realize you've sent it to everyone), and if you actually CARE, write a real email, detailing what's going on in your life, and asking about theirs... and then send it to the 500 people you're convinced you care about.

For every category of garbage email, there's an excuse for sending it.

Well stated. -- Dalton Hammond

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

He Said...She Said...

I didn't write these; I just enjoyed them. -- D.H.

He said: 'Shall we try swapping positions tonight?'
She said: 'That's a good idea - you stand by the ironing board while I sit on the sofa.'

He said: 'What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?'
She said: 'Turn sideways and look in the mirror!'

On a wall in a ladies room: 'My husband follows me everywhere.'
Written just below it: 'I do not.'

Q. How many honest, intelligent, caring men in the world does it take to do the dishes?
A. Both of them.

Q. How does a man show that he is planning for the future?
A. He buys two cases of beer.

Q. What is the difference between men and government bonds?
A. The bonds mature.

Q. Why are blonde jokes so short?
A. So men can remember them.

Q. How many men does it take to change a roll of toilet paper?
A. We don't know; it has never happened.

Q. Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and good-looking?
A. They already have boyfriends.

Q. What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?
A. A widow.

Q. Why are married women heavier than single women?
A. Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.

Q. What is the one thing that all men at singles bars have in common?
A. They're married.

Man says to God: 'God, why did you make woman so beautiful?'
God says: 'So you would love her.'
'But God,' the man says, 'Why did you make her so dumb?'
God says: 'So she would love you.'

-- Dalton Hammond
More Jokes

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Secrets of Successful Southern Collards

Few vegetables contain more nutrients than collards. My momma grew up on a Southern farm during the Great Depression, and this is how they cooked them -- and talked -- back then. -- D.H.

Cut three or four quarter-inch slices of salt pork fatback (streak o' lean, streak o' fat) and cook like bacon in a big pot to generate enough drippings to coat the bottom well. When they are really browned take out one or two sample slices, munch like bacon and leave the rest in the pot. Yum!

Collard leafStrip a mess of collard leaves from their stems and rinse as you put them in the pot with the fatback grease, er, flavoring. One stalk will fill a large pot. Add one teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper (preferred) or dried crushed red pepper flakes (don't overdo it) and about a quarter cup of water, or better, chicken broth. (I use Better-Than-Bouillon Chicken Base which keeps for a long time in the fridge.)

Cook at a very slow boil, stirring and mixing often until collard leaves are wilted al dente, around 30 minutes, adding a little broth if needed to prevent burning. You don't want the collards floating in liquid, just sitting in it. The collards are cooked when you can smell them two farms away.

One mess of collards makes four average servings, twelve servings if the diners are Yankees, and only one-and-a-half if feeding a Southerner. Serve demi-tasses of pot liquor for dessert.

Note: If you're not used to Southern Cooking you could -- and probably should -- cut the salt, pepper and cayenne in half, depending on the size of the collards stalk.

I was kidding about the demi-tasses, but you'd certainly want to sop up the pot likker in your plate with a piece of corn pone.

Nutrition Facts (1/2 cup cooked collard greens)

Calories 56
Protein 1 gram
Dietary fiber 2.9 grams
Carbohydrates 2.5 mg
Dietary fiber 0.4 mg
Calcium 74 mg
Vitamin A 2,109 IU
Vitamin C 9 mg

-- 'Joi de la Cuisine' Dalton Hammond

Friday, April 08, 2005

Skin Cancer Checkup

At my annual skin cancer checkup today I learned that my skin doctor studied at the University of Illinois and worked at their campus radio station. Is this what Einstein called "Spukhafte Fernwirkungen"?

Skin cancerAfter I informed him that I was a Carolina guy of sorts and once worked at the U.N.C. campus station, we avoided the topic of the recent NCAA basketball championship, and he proceeded to find and remove three new basal cell carcinomas; one from my back and two from my left ear. That makes three that have been found on that ear so far and a total of nearly two dozen pre-cancerous tumors which have come off my skin and bowels in the last ten years. All have been benign, so far, like my humor.

Get those checkups friends.

-- Dalton Hammond

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

University of North Carolina -- NCAA Basketball Champions

Congratulations to the University of North Carolina Tarheels basketball team and Head Coach Roy Williams. As they say, "If God is not a Tarheel, then why is the sky Carolina Blue?" -- D.H.

Bruce Weber has a new point of view.
While orange was his favorite hue,
Roy Williams and Heels
Let him see how it feels
For his walls to turn suddenly blue.

(c) 2005, Dalton Hammond

Silent Sam
There is a famous Tarheel legend surrounding this Confederate monument at the main quad at U.N.C. :

Every time a virgin female student walks by, the soldier fires his musket in salute.

To this day he is still known as Silent Sam.

-- Dalton Hammond
More of My Poems

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Top 10 Suggestions For Guys While Playing Golf Or Standing At A Urinal

10. Back straight, knees bent, and feet shoulder width apart.

9. Form a loose grip.

8. Keep your head down.

7. Avoid a quick backswing.

6. Quiet please!...while others are preparing to take their shot.

5. Stay out of the water.

4. Try not to hit anyone.

3. If you are taking too long, please let others go ahead of you.

2. Don't stare while others address their balls.

1. Don't let anyone see you take those extra strokes!

-- Dalton Hammond

More Golf Stories

More Jokes

Friday, April 01, 2005

Astronomers Receive Outer Space S.O.S.

I suppose I'd better stick to being a truthful person. This little attempt at deception seems to have fooled exactly no one except maybe myself. I thought I had penned the ultimate 'Poisson D'Avril', which of course is idiomatic French for 'April Fool'. Even with the help of fictional characters Dr. Lirpa Sloof (backward: 'April Fools') and Professor Ralos Ecraf (backward: 'Solar Farce') and 415 page hits this story never got much attention. I'm glad, in a way. It just seems to show that the public is smarter than they get credit for being sometimes. Happy April Fool everybody. -- Dalton Hammond

Radio Telescopes Detect Alien SOS from Extrasolar Planet

Science - International

Fri 05/04/01 12:13 AM AEDST

MELBOURNE - Two independent teams of astronomers have decoded an audio S.O.S. from a planet circling a nearby star outside our solar system.

Using a public internet-based database network of dozens of large radio telescopes and combining their weak signals, scientists say they have translated an intergalactic distress message from intelligent beings on a previously unknown planet circling the nearby star Poisson D'Avril in the constellation Pisces, only 6 light-years from the Earth..

Poisson D'AvrilAccording to Dr. Lirpa Sloof who headed a team which studied the data from the Very Large Telescope Array (VLA) in New Mexico, the transmission code was based on the Periodic Table of Elements, a chemical array which is unchanged throughout the universe and which scientists have long considered to be useful for possible communications between the Earth and other-world civilizations.

An Australian team reported that the transmission was not only intelligible, but was successfully translated into fourteen different Earth languages, including English, German, Arabic, and Latin. "This proves that they have been listening to us", said Professor Ralos Ecraf of the Australian consortium, which confirmed the findings in a separate, independent study, details of which are scheduled to be published next week in the scientific journal Universe.

"I can only say at this time that the signal was a request for help, took 6.4 Earth years to travel to us, and contained specific references to Earth events that happened over thirteen years ago", Dr. Ecraf told reporters, refusing further comment.

The star Poisson D'Avril is a supergiant red star in the constellation Pisces, and has long been regarded by scientists as a likely supernova candidate; expected to end its life in a catastrophic explosion and then shrinking to form a black hole from which not even light can escape.

More Aliens

More Jokes

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sailing Home

It has been a while since I posted any of my photos so I dug up this one. It probably lacks any redeeming qualities that a real photographer looks for, but I kinda like it. You might recognize the location -- the same place on my pier where I took my Stalking the Night shot. It is so peaceful sitting down there for only a few minutes that I can just feel my blood pressure going down. I hope you like it. -- (c)2005, Dalton Hammond

Sailboats coming home

More of My Photos

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Computer Swallowed Grandma

I've no idea who the author is...wish I'd written it. -- Dalton Hammond

The computer swallowed grandma
Yes honestly it's true
She pressed "Control" and "Enter"
And disappeared from view.

It devoured her completely
The thought just makes me squirm
She must have caught a virus
Or been eaten by a worm.

I've searched through the recycle bin
And files of every kind
I've even used the Internet
But nothing did I find.

In desperation I asked Jeeves
My search to refine
The reply from him was negative
Not a thing was found on-line.

So if inside your inbox
My grandma you should see
Please "Copy", "Scan" and "Paste" her
And send her back to me.

More Jokes
More Poems

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Great Federal Reorganization Plan

After much deliberation I hereby offer my original 10-point program for restructuring the federal government. -- D.H.

Great Seal of The United States

1. The Senate and Congress of the United States will close down their expensive offices and chambers in the U.S. Capitol and immediately begin holding all their business in the Pennsylvania Avenue Hooters.

2. Cash payments for Arab oil shall be replaced by equivalent value in Washington State beef products.

3. The head of the World Bank shall be replaced by Martha Stewart.

4. To protect the world's whales, all U.S. Navy sonar testing shall be replaced by Beach Music.

5. Thomas Mesereau Jr. shall be named Secretary of Defense.

6. Full congressional pardon shall be given to Pete Rose.

7. Minimum wage shall be offered only to employees who can prove having performed at least minimum work.

8. The national Income Tax shall be repealed, and all Radio, Television and Motion Picture products shall be taxed at the rate of ten cents per cuss word.

9. All remaining Survivor TV episodes shall be produced on location in the Guantanamo prison.

10. The $20 bill as a unit of currency shall be replaced by the 50 mg Viagra.

Your Humble Savant,
Dalton Hammond (c) 2005
More Jokes

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

How To Copy Your Windows Monitor Screen

So you think the Windows Print Screen keyboard key doesn't do anything any more? Because it copies the contents of your monitor screen to the Windows clipboard which runs invisibly in the background, you can't see it working until you Paste its contents somewhere.

Let's look at this handy feature.

Go ahead, press the Print Screen key once. Now open your favorite graphics editor, or if you don't have one go to Start > Programs > Accessories and click on Paint. Either way, when the program comes up press Ctrl and V which is the shortcut key combination for the Windows Paste function. VOILA'! Now you can edit your picture and Save As a BMP, TIFF, or preferably a GIF or JPEG file, to the folder of your choice.

When I practiced these instructions a minute ago I came up with a GIF file that was 148 kb in size. The BMP version was a whopping 2.84 MEGabytes, way too big for useful email sharing. The JPG, which is a compressed graphic file, was 112 kb, which isn't too bad.

The images will display as the same size of your monitor screen setup so for email or use on your web page you'll want to resize the image to something more manageable, around 200 to 600 pixels wide. While still in Paint you can use Image > Attributes to resize. Just be sure to adjust width and height proportionately or you'll squash your image. Or hit the Default tab in Attributes for a reasonably-sized image, about 36 kb on my system.

Another tip: If you're going to work with photos much and don't want to spend several hundred bucks for the ultimate graphics program, Adobe Photoshop, check out VuePrint at

As much as I use Photoshop for professional image processing, VuePrint is my standard image viewer/processor, and has been for fifteen years. I'd be lost without it. You can be up to speed in VuePrint in no time, as opposed to the five-year learning curve in Photoshop. Ed Hamrick doesn't know me, and I'm not getting a penny for this endorsement. Try it.

A final note: You can't use the Print Screen function to copy Windows Media Player screens and similar applications, sorry. Use SnagIt instead.

-- Dalton Hammond
Other Windows Tips

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bill Clinton Jokes

Well folks, I've tried hard to stay non-controversial on my blog, but I couldn't pass these up. -- Dalton Hammond

Manufacturers announced today that they will be stocking America's shelves this week with "Clinton Soup," in honor of one of the nations' most distinguished men. It consists primarily of a weenie in hot water.

Chrysler Corporation is adding a new car to its line to honor Bill Clinton. The Dodge Drafter will be in production in Canada this year.

When asked what he thought about foreign affairs, Clinton replied, "I don't know, I never had one."

Clinton lacked only three things to become one of America's finest leaders: integrity, vision, wisdom.

Clinton was doing the work of three men: Larry, Curly and Moe.

The Clinton revised judicial oath: "I solemnly swear to tell the truth as I know it, the whole truth as I believe it to be, and nothing but what I think you need to know" (and redefine "it" as needed).

Clinton will be recorded in history as the only President to do Hanky Panky between the Bushes.

More Jokes

Friday, March 18, 2005

How To Be Happy

You will thank me for this. -- D.H.

In our Western success-driven culture we are driven from birth, by our parents, teachers, friends, and by our society, that to be successful is the most important thing we can hope to achieve. Unfortunately, "success" in our world is often defined as having expensive clothing and cars, impressive friends, and someone who loves us according to our own personal definitions of love. Sometimes in the real world we fail to acquire all those material things, and -- let's face it -- no one could ever live up to the "love" we desire, as we have defined it. No one could. Don't you agree?

In her wonderful pocket-sized masterpiece, "The Portable Therapist", Susanna McMahon, Ph.D. shows us ways we can transcend our Western "Doing" Model, and learn to accept the events in our lives and the people over whom we have no control, and adopt the more realistic "Being" Model of the Eastern cultures. She writes "Despite the implicit assumption...that you can control your destiny -- not in your control. Luck,fate, and chance all play a big part in determining external success...there is nothing we can do to control them."

The book is easy reading, and each chapter is only a few pages long, making for perfect bedtime study. You'll fall asleep each night feeling better about yourself.

That's what I call real success: Learning to accept and be happy with yourself.

When I began writing this post it was not my intention to sell anything, but as I thumbed through the dogeared pages of her book for more quotes to share with you I realized that could do a far better job than I. Click the link below to read reviews and sample pages from this book that could change your life and show you how to realize the healthy self-esteem you deserve.

Good luck to you! -- Dalton Hammond

the Portable Therapist

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Eagles Live...Finally

The first time The Eagles came to this part of the country in 1980, everybody else at the radio station went to the concert but me, while -- as The New Kid In Town -- I stayed on the air and played Eagles music and cried. After that concert they swore they'd get back together again When Hell Freezes Over. Sorry, I Can't Tell You Why.

EagleHell stayed frozen until 1994 and I got tickets this time, but they caught the flu and cancelled the show. When they came back to town the next year the makeup show tickets were Already Gone before I heard about it. I decided that In The Long Run God didn't want me to see The Eagles or something and I elected to just Take It Easy.

That was until a few months ago when I learned that they were once again going to perform here In The City. With charge card in hand, your humble reporter was ready to Take It To The Limit and I bought two tickets online for only $ lots of additional fees, about two minutes after they went on sale, which gave me a Peaceful, Easy Feeling. My New Kid In Town was disappointed we weren't going to see Ludacris but the Eagles would have been her choice of favorite white bands if she could have remembered their name. As it turned out she was Wasted Time since she got tied up and couldn't go, so as a Desperado I invited a music afficionado friend instead.

The concert was last night and I enjoyed it more than any I've ever attended, and I hope to do it again One Of These Nights.

Life's Been Good To Me. -- Dalton Hammond

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Definitions That Make Sense

You'll like some of these better than others, but I'll bet you'll end up telling a few to your friends in the next day or so. -- D.H.

  • ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and is now growing in the middle.
  • BEAUTY PARLOR: A place where women curl up and dye.
  • CANNIBAL: Someone who is fed up with people.
  • CHICKENS: The only animals you eat before they are born and after they are dead.
  • COMMITTEE: A body that keeps minutes and wastes hours.
  • DUST: Mud with the juice squeezed out.
  • EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
  • HANDKERCHIEF: Cold Storage.
  • INFLATION: Cutting money in half without damaging the paper.
  • MOSQUITO: An insect that makes you like flies better.
  • RAISIN: Grape with a sunburn.
  • SECRET: Something you tell to one person at a time.
  • SKELETON: A bunch of bones with the person scraped off.
  • TOOTHACHE: The pain that drives you to extraction.
  • TOMORROW: One of the greatest labor saving devices of today.
  • YAWN: An honest opinion openly expressed.
  • WRINKLES: Something other people have. You have character lines.
-- Dalton Hammond, with help from Wendy

More of My Jokes

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Lost in Manhattan

A few years ago I worked in a used car sales office with a guy who used to be a truck driver, who told me this story:

Big truckOne day he was making a delivery in downtown Manhattan and got lost after turning onto one of those narrow one-way streets where he couldn't turn around or even see to back up to a nice wide avenue. About that time one of New York's finest came riding up on a horse, looked into the truck cab and yelled at him with an Irish accent, "Hey, where'd you learn to drive?"

My friend looked back at the mounted policeman and replied in a semi-controlled snarl, "I learned to drive in a lot bigger place than this!"

The cop looked up at all the skyscrapers towering over their heads and asked, "Huh? What could be bigger than this place?"

The truck driver relied, "The COUNTRY!"

-- Dalton Hammond

Thursday, March 10, 2005

She Was the Star of the Show

A couple of Christmases ago, my promise of a couple of drinks and a nice seafood meal enticed my roommate to accompany me to the annual dinner meeting of an astronomy club I belong to. I knew she would be younger than most of the attendees but I figured with her bubbly personality she'd fit in just fine.

Everybody there was a dignitary as far as I was concerned, but to her they were just strangers, yet she was careful to maintain her little-girl poise and sense of wonder, asking non-technical questions about stars, planets, astronomy, and the universe of the couples sitting around us. They included the president of the club, the director of a leading planetarium, and a fellow who is considered to be one of the foremost amateur astronomers in the state, and their wives.

While I was mentally applauding her for her grace and composure she became thoughtful for a moment and it was clear to me she was wondering what else she might offer in conversation. Suddenly her eyes twinkled and she looked straight at the nearby dignitaries, sticking out her tongue at them as she said "I've got a star -- on my tongue ring!"

Sure enough, SHE DID! -- Dalton Hammond

Tongue ring

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Birth of the Earth

"In the beginning...the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Six thousand years or more after those words were written by our Biblical forebears, that's still what our learned scientists believe about the origin of our Earth and solar system.

You may have already seen the image of mine of M42 - The Orion Nebula - on this blog a few weeks ago, but don't leave yet; here's what it should look like with a bigger telescope and the professional expertise of my amateur astronomer friend Paul Gardner. When the new picture comes up click on it for an even larger view. Totally awesome!

Orion NebulaThis area is a cosmic star factory and one of the most beautiful wonders within reach of the amateur telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope and other new telescopes now in service can see much farther inside these and other clouds of luminous gases to actually see new stars - protostars - and presumably other planetary systems being born before our superenhanced eyes. -- Dalton Hammond

More of my Backyard Astronomy

The Golf Bifocals

I thought I'd heard all the golf jokes in the world but this one was new to me. Stop me if you've heard it. -- Dalton Hammond

Golfer silhouetteA foursome of golf hackers always teed off every Saturday at 10 AM and were all usually there well before tee time. One Saturday Mark rushed to the tee just in time, as the other three were teeing off. Mark apologized and explained that he had stopped at the optometrist office on the way to the course to pick up his new bifocals.

Mark put on his new glasses, teed up his ball and after turning his head this way and that proceeded to hit the best drive of his life. His approach shot to the green was even better than his drive - leaving him a birdie putt which he drilled into the middle of the hole. Mark continued to play the best golf of his life, breaking 80 for the first time and winning every bet.

The golfers retired to the clubhouse after the round to celebrate and allow Mark to buy the drinks. After the first round his friends began to press him to explain his new golf skills.

Mark said "Guys, its these new bifocals - when I put them on and looked over the top I saw a little ball and a little club - when I looked through the bottom I saw a big ball and a big club - but when I looked just right I could see a little ball and a big club. So I hit the little ball with the big club all day. When I putted it was even better, I hit the little ball into the big hole with the big putter."

Everyone thought this was exceptional and decided to have several more drinks. After a while Mark excused himself to visit the Men's room. Several minutes later, when he failed to return one friend went to check on him.

He found Mark at the urinal with the front of his trousers soaking wet. "What happened?", his friend inquired.

An obviously tipsy Mark replied "I don't know. I was standing here at the urinal and I looked down and saw two - one big one and one little one. Well, I didn't recognize the big one so I put it back in my pants!" -- D.H.

More of my Golf Stories

Friday, March 04, 2005

Cucumbers and Leeches

As the rusty pickup truck rattled along the unpaved path that ran between the tobacco field and the edge of the woods my uncle cursed the suckers that he could see beginning to emerge between the tobacco stalks and the base of each thick, sticky green leaf. They would have to be removed, by hand in the next few days, he decided. There was always something you had to do to tobacco. 'Transplanting', 'suckering', 'topping', 'priming', 'grading', 'tying', 'barning', and 'curing' were farming terms I learned on my summer visits to my cousin’s home, and even as a city-reared boy I knew what my uncle was thinking.

Children weren’t allowed to work in tobacco, so my job during the summer visits was to help pick cucumbers, which were coming in daily during late June and early July. It was back-breaking work, crawling along the rows looking for the elusive vegetable which hid under the thick leaves. Even at that young age I had an undiagnosed heart problem that kept me from producing my fair share of cucumbers, and I developed a reputation for being lazy. When the field was picked we’d take our harvest to a nearby temporary grading station that paid my uncle according to the sizes we brought. In turn, my uncle paid us each fifteen cents for our day’s work and we ran off to the country store where big cookies in a glass jar were two for a penny and a Sundrop cola was a nickel. To this day nothing quenches a summer thirst like a Sundrop, I think.

The truck swung around a corner of the woods, bringing Mr. Bill’s house into view at the top of a hill two fields away. It was a big two-story farmhouse with a circular, unpaved driveway and huge windows that ran all the way across each story. Mr. Bill owned all the farmland in the area, even my uncle’s house, and my uncle worked for him. We were told that Mr. Bill was away in Europe on vacation for several weeks as he always was this time of year and I thought about that for a moment. I wasn’t sure what Europe was, but my aunt had told me it was on the other side of the ocean. Although my cousin had never seen an ocean, I had, several times. Europe sure seemed far away. Mr. Bill must be an okay guy, I thought, since we had his permission to go swimming in his pond while he was away.

A rough path in the woods caught my eye. I knew from previous visits that it led down to a clear spring. When the Corps of Engineers built the big reservoir not far away a few years earlier, many of the local farmers’ wells ran dry, forcing them to set up barrels to catch rain water that ran off their corrugated steel farmhouse roofs for use in laundry and Saturday bathing. Once a week my uncle would hitch up a mule, wagon, and some barrels, travel to these woods and go down the path to collect fresh water for drinking.

We were soon at the pond and I immediately noticed that it had changed very little. Some of the weeds were higher, the area looked generally snakier, and the diving board looked more in need of paint, but in the heat and humidity of the rural summer it looked like an oasis to my ten-year-old eyes. Big spotted turtles the size of dishpans lolled just under the surface of the brown, murky water and seemed to be watching as the boys first, then the girls hid behind the truck to change into bathing suits.

All of us splashed and played for a large part of the afternoon, stopping every ten or fifteen minutes to come out of the water, in pairs, to pick off the blood-sucking leeches which had attached themselves all over our bodies. We were always covered with them. The idea was to pick off what you could, then turn to your partner and pick them off his back, hair, and anywhere else he couldn’t reach or see, and he'd return the favor. Then we’d jump back into the water for another round.

We burned off a huge amount of young energy that afternoon, and as we toweled dry and dressed I thought about how nice it was going to be later that night, lying on the blanket out by the vegetable garden, looking up at the sea of stars overhead. Out in the country the Milky Way was always so bright it seemed a person could read by it. There was nothing else to do since nobody had television in the early 1950s, and I’m certain that as I lay there contemplating the wonders of the universe, I developed my love for astronomy that continues to this day.

As the pickup took us home I glanced back at Mr. Bill’s house on top of the hill and stared. The late-day sun behind us bathed the house in a ruddy glow, and shining at us, as if saying goodbye, was a round red reflected sun in every window of the big house. I thought about Mr. Bill and Europe, then more urgently, began to think about my uncle's primitive outdoor Johnny House I would need to visit when we got back.

I was asleep, dreaming of cucumbers, by the time the pickup reached the main road.

(c) 2005, Dalton Hammond

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Change Your Life With Yoga

You will thank me for what you are about to read. I would like for you to consider trying a few hours per week of enjoyable, relaxing yoga which can take years off your life and inches off your waistline in your own home without any special equipment besides your own floor.

I'm not going to try to sell you any yoga product, and I have not posted any ad links relating to yoga unless my ad block in the right-hand column automatically suggests some without my knowing it, which it is likely to do per my affiliate agreement. Also, I'm not going to post any yoga links except for the wonderfully illustrative Sun Salutation graphic I borrowed which you can click to help you get started. I have no commercial tie to the web site; I'm just trying to help you enjoy your life and your body more.

Some personal background: When I was in Junior High School back in the 1950s I hurt my back somehow and I thought I would never get over it...and almost never did. Over the years I tried exercises, chiropractors, medicine, the whole gamut, but nothing really solved my problem. At times I'd walk around in a semi-crouch for weeks, in constant pain. "If I'm suffering like this in my youth, what will my life be like when I get old?", I wondered.

Then, after decades of pain, I discovered yoga.

Yoga Sun SalutationNow, I AM getting old but I get around like a teenager, actually better than some teens. When young people come to my house I sometimes ask them if they are able to touch their toes without bending their knees. Many of them who have never stretched except to pick up a TV remote cannot, and I tell them that I couldn't either when I was their age. Then I stand up, place my palms on the floor, and show them a nice Sun Salutation, which is pictured here.

There's nothing about yoga that is mysterious, and it doesn't have to be taken as a religion or some sort of occult philosophy. Yoga is like a take out what you want.

Back when I was smoking, just one one-hour yoga class would help me bring up huge gobs of cigarette crud from my lungs. I could taste air for the first time in years and could feel air in parts of my lungs that I thought had failed to function forever. My blood pressure would go down. I felt relaxed and refreshed, a new man. Little aches disappeared. Now that I think of it I suppose yoga helped me stop smoking.

And I left every class hooked up to a tighter notch in my belt than when I went in.

I discovered that many of the exercises I had been doing at home (read: stomach crunches) were actually causing my back problems and building mass where I didn't want it (stomach). My instructor showed me how some of the same exercises, done properly, work on entirely different muscles to give proper results and relief. I also learned that many of the stretches I had been doing over the years were harming me because I hadn't gone through certain easy warmups first.

There are many types of yoga and many different postures and some may not be right for you. Check with your doctor to be sure. For example, because of a heart problem I can't do aerobic-type yoga. Also, there are still some yoga postures I can't get into, and I guess I just don't want to work that hard. I have found what works for me.

Before you give yoga a try it is very important to find an instructor who will listen to your health history a bit and explain to you the programs which are suitable for you. Done properly, there should never be the slightest pain or discomfort when you are in a yoga posture, but without some instruction before you get started it is possible to hurt yourself. A one-hour class should cost around five dollars and you'll be given a list of poses and postures to do every other night or so for homework.

What I have seen of pilates reminds me a lot of yoga and I suppose its benefits would be similar, but I don't know for sure from personal experience.

What I DO know from personal experience is that yoga can make you feel MUCH younger, breathe better, sleep better, and will help you enjoy your life a lot more. You can't ask for much more than that. Check it out.

-- Dalton Hammond (feeling 16)

Also check out my post: Do You Sweat A Lot?

Monday, February 28, 2005

Be An Einstein

You are invited to participate in one of the most far-reaching scientific experiments in history.

Einstein@Home LogoOne of the predictions of Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity field equations is that a large acceleration of mass produces a ripple in space-time called a gravitational wave. A better understanding of gravitational waves would be of enormous significance in helping us to understand how the universe works. Unfortunately until recently there has been no way to detect or study this phenomenon.

Scientists believe that exploding stars, binary pulsars, and certain other massive space objects produce gravitational waves, and to study them, facilities have been set up at the U.S. Laser Interferometry Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, as well as the British-German GEO-600 gravity-wave observatory. Observations have begun and massive amounts of data are being collected, all of which must be analyzed before they can become useful.

Unfortunately only a super-supercomputer could handle these data. That's where you come in.

Einstein@Home is a collaborative project involving many thousands of computers around the world which collect and crunch smaller portions of data, sending the results back to project scientists for final analysis.

I have been running Einstein@Home on my home computer for several weeks. The program was easy to set up, runs invisibly in the background during my idle computing time, and does not slow down my system in any way. I can see the results of my work in archive and real-time, and I have the satisfaction of knowing that I am contributing to the advancement of science.

To find out more and start your own adventure in scientific discovery go to Einstein@Home at

Once you get running it may take up to a week for you to receive credit for your work since your results will be validated against other computers for accuracy.

Then give yourself a nice pat on the back.

-- Dalton Hammond

My Backyard Astronomy Page