Bluegrass, Celtic, or Old Time?

I love all of these genres, so I was delighted to see a blog post over at Bluegrass Nation which lays out in very clear terms how to tell the difference between them. Some of their article may be tongue-in-cheek or at least light-hearted, but I found it a great read.


The Music

Old Time and Celtic songs are about whiskey, food and struggle. Bluegrass songs are about God, mother and the girl who did me wrong. If the girl isn’t dead by the third verse, it ain’t Bluegrass. If everyone dies, it’s Celtic…

The Instruments

A Celtic banjo is small and quiet. An Old Time banjo is open-backed, with an old towel (probably never washed) stuffed in the back to dampen sound. A Bluegrass banjo has bell bronze mastertone tone ring and a resonator to make it louder…

The Bluegrass fiddler paid $10,000 for his fiddle at the Violin Shop in Nashville. The Celtic fiddler inherited his fiddle from his mothers 2nd cousin in County Clare. The Old Time fiddler got theirs for $15 at a yard sale…

Read the full post over at Bluegrass Nation.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The fruits of abuse

Almost everything I post here is designed to uplift, to interest, and to inspire. In general, I do my best to avoid the depressing, the shocking, or the bizarre. Today I make an exception, but only because there’s an important message behind the event.

The children of Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick published an obituary for their mother in the Reno Gazette-Journal. In contrast to this beautiful tribute, the one published in the RGJ was anything but kind. It has since been removed by the newspaper as they investigate the circumstances surrounding its publication, but here is the text in full:

Marianne Theresa Johnson-Reddick born Jan 4, 1935 and died alone on Aug. 30, 2013. She is survived by her 6 of 8 children whom she spent her lifetime torturing in every way possible. While she neglected and abused her small children, she refused to allow anyone else to care or show compassion towards them. When they became adults she stalked and tortured anyone they dared to love. Everyone she met, adult or child was tortured by her cruelty and exposure to violence, criminal activity, vulgarity, and hatred of the gentle or kind human spirit.

On behalf of her children whom she so abrasively exposed to her evil and violent life, we celebrate her passing from this earth and hope she lives in the after-life reliving each gesture of violence, cruelty, and shame that she delivered on her children. Her surviving children will now live the rest of their lives with the peace of knowing their nightmare finally has some form of closure.

Most of us have found peace in helping those who have been exposed to child abuse and hope this message of her final passing can revive our message that abusing children is unforgiveable, shameless, and should not be tolerated in a “humane society”. Our greatest wish now, is to stimulate a national movement that mandates a purposeful and dedicated war against child abuse in the United States of America.

Let’s make a couple of things clear before we go on:

  1. This is the Internet, and hoaxes are as common as mosquitoes in Winnipeg.
  2. The accuracy of the facts surrounding this brutal obituary have not been independently confirmed, neither have they been refuted.
  3. The world is full of people as toxic and abusive as the alleged decedent; if you doubt me, just plug into the domestic violence feed, but be warned – it’s not for the faint of heart.

For the sake of argument, I’m going to assume that the events are accurate, that the woman in question was as horrific as stated, and that the family members are using this as a legitimate vehicle to obtain some measure of closure and healing. It is to their credit that instead of becoming monsters in their own right, they have done their best to turn the tide and mitigate the effects of child abuse, transforming their own agony into positive energy for the benefit of others.

Doubtless some will invoke de mortuis nil nisi bonum [1] and say that this obituary was heartless and spiteful. Without question, forgiveness is a healing balm; Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix have demonstrated this convincingly by turning tragedy into redemption for thousands of others. Mary Mullaney in the other obituary I referenced above used to say, “Never say mean things about anybody; they are “poor souls to pray for,” and Disney’s Thumper recited his father’s good advice: “if you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” But no man knows another’s pain, and sometimes peace cannot be obtained without the opportunity to express things that have been long hidden, long suppressed.

Child abuse is much more common that we would like to think. In the context of some personal development work, I’ve heard stories that would curdle your blood, and shared a few of my own. It is only by getting these stories out, where they can be looked at, dealt with, and worked through, that sufferers of abuse can hope to burn that negative energy off and be able to move their lives forward. So, yes – it was an angry and hurt-filled obituary, and I can only hope that through its writing and publication, the children of this woman can find both release and closure. I wish them well.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


[1] “Of the dead say nothing but good.”

A message from myself



Found this in my mailbox the other day. It was from me, to me. Except for the fact that I hadn’t sent myself any spam recently.

At first I wondered if my email had been hacked, but I have a pretty strong password on that account (it’s AGHwqeiraas23894!!abaouUAWU, in case you were wondering) – it looks like Gmail picked it up as a spoofed sender, and no one else has contacted me with foul abuse, so I’m pretty sure that’s not what happened.

But I was curious as to who was sending out this garbage – rubber stamps? Well, not really. What I ended up with is this:



Make Money with Meghan. Sheesh. Another get-rich-quick scam… except the only people who are getting rich are a few top-level bottom feeders (how’s that for a metaphor?)

In order to make money from these scams, you have to be willing to do one thing:

  • Sell the hope of making money to others, whose job will be to sell the hope of making money to others.

In order to do this, you pay these drones for the privilege of setting you up with one or more websites, and open yourself to a neverending round of upselling, which will cost you far more than you’ll ever make.

There are a few red flags associated with all of these internet scams:

  • Do a little digging, and you’ll see that many of them trace back to Tim Atkinson And Zak Meftah, a couple of young snake-oil salesmen who have saturated the internet with incarnation after incarnation of their scummy “opportunity”.
  • If you get onto a website and hit your “back” or “close” buttons, you’ll invariable get one or more of these popups:



I mentioned the one above in an earlier post about work-from-home scams, , but the concept is the same. Some of these websites will offer you discount after discount just for saying “no, thanks” – and even if you take the bait for the low, low price of $9.00 instead of $49.50, or whatever their initial fee is, they’ve got their foot in your door and will likely make up anything they lost from your enrollment on upsells and additional worthless training.

  • Just type the words [system] scam into Google; invariably the first several pages, or more, will be filled with websites advertising [system], or telling you that [system] is totally bogus and inviting you to sign up with [other system].
  • In all likelihood you found out about [system] through a dishonest and deceptive spam email, as I did.

All of these money-making schemes are full of sound and fury, and signify nothing. Yes, people are making money – the ones at the top who don’t give a rat’s south-40 about the thousands of people below them who will never see a dime of profit. Remember – these systems are selling nothing but the system itself! They add no value, create no lasting worth, and are designed only to give false hope to countless victims and enrich the ones at the top of the pyramid.

Do you really want to work with people who base their income on fraud and deception?  Be smart – stay away from such “opportunities.” There are a few legitimate companies out there, selling legitimate products, who offer their affiliates the chance to make money from a home-based business, but they are few and far between. 99% of the schemes being advertised on the net today are pure jiggery-pokery, and you would do well to avoid them like the plague.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Space Rock

But not the way you might think.



This is a hydrophane opal, found in mines at Welo, Ethiopia. You can read more about these opals at the School of Gemology.

When I first saw this posted over at reddit, people were mentioning that it looks like an ocean bottom – but the first thing I saw was this:



The “Pillars of Creation” in the Eagle Nebula

Whatever you see, the stone is beautiful. Some of the other pictures of the stone reminded me of Ammolite, which I first encountered in Vancouver, BC.



Nature is amazing.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Know : Languages List and their Writing direction

Propel Steps added a pingback to my article on writing systems, and this article is fascinating in its own right.


Language direction

This is an index of the all the writing systems on this site arranged by the direction in which they are written. Some writing systems can be written in a number of different directions, others were originally written in various directions but eventually settled on one direction.

Why some writing systems are written in one direction, and others in other directions is a bit of a mystery. It might have something to do with the writing surfaces and implements originally used, fashion, the handedness of the creators of the writing systems, or other factors.


  • Left to right, horizontal
  • Right to left, horizontal
  • Left to right, vertical, top to bottom
  • Right to left, vertical, top to bottom
  • Left to right, vertical, bottom to top
  • Right to left, vertical, bottom to top
  • Boustrophedon
  • Variable

Example of Armenian written from left to right

Left to right, horizontal

The following writing systems are written from left to right in horizontal lines:

View original post 1,079 more words

How the 1% live

I’m currently yanking the chain of an advance fee fraud scammer, much the same way I did over here. This one appears to be operating out of China. I’ll be posting a full report at the end of the game, but in the meantime, Mr. “Zhang Yong” has asked me to do some research for him so he can have a base of operations in the USA after all those “millions” have been transferred into my bank.


Just in case you’re wondering, these chests of money don’t exist.


See? This excellent certificate of deposit shows that I, personally, deposited lots of dollars into a Hong Kong bank.

Anyway, here’s the official request:

I am in receipt of your mail and the words in the contents made me happy that I finally got the right person for my proposal. As you have stated in your email that all monetary assets pertaining to this venture are confidently secure and that you are going to search for a business that will profit both of us. I will so much appreciate if you could start searching for a very nice four bed house with a very big garden located in a quiet environment conducive for learning.

So I did a little research on the net and found this lovely property – a real one – for sale by Sotheby’s:


Only $28,950,000. Wow; a real steal. In addition, if you look closely at the page, you should be able to buy the same property in the Fringe Alternate Universe for about $11,000,000 less:


But seriously, assuming that the “Other Listing” is just an “oops” (I sent the agency a note letting them know that they might want to contact their webmaster, so the page probably won’t look like this for long), I allowed the monthly payment calculator to tell me how much this charming 4-bedroom property would be:


Assuming a $6 million down payment, your monthly charge would only be $157,708.

Cushlamochree. Who the hqiz has this kind of money? And this is only one of countless homes like this all over the place, in cities like New York and Boston and Los Angeles and San Francisco… and they’re selling.

Along with (cxhchhhxxttt paTOO!) Bank of America, we’re part owners of a 6-bedroom home in Central Utah. That monthly payment would just about buy our place every single month… for 30 years. I have a hard time getting my head around that kind of money… and it’s not lost on me that there are people in the world for whom $30,000,000 for a home would be considered petty cash. We just re-watched “Inception,” and I remember chuckling at this little exchange:

Cobb: For this to work, we’d have to buy off the pilots…
Arthur: And we’d have to buy off the flight attendants…
Saito: I bought the airline.
[Everybody turns and stares at him. Saito just shrugs]
Saito: It seemed neater.

Yes, it’s Hollywood – but let’s not kid ourselves – there are people like that out there.


It’s not a very nice world we live in when it comes to social equality; and, all things are relative. A large percentage of the world’s population would look at me and think I live like a potentate.

Our species deserves better, but how to overcome the massive inequality in wealth allocation without resorting to forced redistribution is a puzzlement.

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931

Those who would simply take from the rich and give to the poor ignore this at their peril, but the dangers of social leveling are only part of the problem.  When I studied Economics in college – the only class I ever got a “C” in – one of the few concepts that really stuck was that at its base, money represents stored labor. This concept has been pretty much thrown in the trash; in our country, the Fed keeps creating new fiat dollars, and these are promptly snapped up by corporations and individuals who trade in the most complex, esoteric and incomprehensible instruments imaginable, not one of which has anything to do with work. It’s all smoke and mirrors, and as the recent bubbles (dotcom, housing, etc.) have shown, all of that wealth can vanish in a heartbeat.

More important than fixing the financial structure of our society would be fixing what goes on in the hearts of men; this article is a good spotlight on the depths of immorality to which humanity will sink when it comes to the gathering of money and power. One of my favorite quotes from entertainment comes from “Star Trek: First Contact”, when Picard explains to Lily,

“The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”

Please, make it so.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Salt Lake ComicCon 2013

I’ve been to two other conventions, San Diego and NYC. This was Salt Lake’s first, and from my own experience and the general reception, I’d say it was a smashing success.

The con planned to be held at the South Towne Expo Center, but the response necessitated a move to the Salt Palace, and by Saturday afternoon, the place was packed to the doors – the fire marshals declared the event “Sold Out” at 3:00 PM, and we almost didn’t get back in after lunch.

There were some great costumes and great displays to be seen, and some high-level celebrities available to meet and greet – saying hello cost nothing ,but photo ops and autographs were available (for a fee). I plunked down for an autograph from William Shatner; steep, but it was worth it.

Chris & Bill Shatner

The first image was taken in 1974 at a meeting of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters, shortly before I left on my two-year mission to Austria. The second at the Con, and it was a miracle that I was able to snap it. I had hoped that I could duplicate the pose, but Mr. Shatner was signing autographs faster than a Subway sandwich assembly line, and he graciously allowed me to take the selfie. So, almost 40 years apart… and we still look good.


Fear Factory 2

Fear Factory (A large Salt Lake spook alley)

Fear Factory

Fear Factory – these guys are sparing no expense


Freddy Kruger


Major Kira Nerys from DS9


Steampunk Wookie and Captain America Stormtrooper



These guys, Jessica and Robert Burbidge, were on site but I wasn’t able to spot them. Photo from



Azog the Defiler – Manu Bennett was on site, but I didn’t make it over to see him. “Balin” (Ken Stott) was signing autographs over at the Weta display (see Gollum, below) but I couldn’t get through the press of fans.)


Nerds, nerds, nerds… they scares us, Precious!


Amazing Remote Control R2D2, one of the most accurate I’ve ever seen (and heard). Leia looked great as well.


Air Force exhibit – auto upgraded with fighter plane tech





Other Celebrity Guests


John DeLancie, AKA “Q” from Star Trek


David Prowse is Darth Vader

Also said hello to Peter Mayhew (Chewebacca) and Henry Winkler, who was very gracious to mingle with his fans (he got a hug from my wife, but no photos were permitted.)


Puppetry was not forgotten


A huge display from the Salt Lake Lego Club


French TGV

‘ IMAG2558

Train Yard


Aircraft Carrier


Random Constructions




The Munchkin Village from the latest Oz film


Emerald city with castle


Medieval castle

We only spent about 6 hours there, but it was awesome enough that I’d love to attend next year if it’s feasible. I was exhausted (didn’t sleep much the previous night because I’m still on a graveyard shift schedule) but came home thoroughly happy.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beautiful San Francisco

car photography san francisco

This gorgeous photo was taken by UK automotive photographer Tim Wallace of Ambient Life Photography. It was posted to reddit, and one of the commenters, /u/xiaopb, linked to the following two photos:


This was taken by xiaopb’s great-grandfather in 1951 (I’ve tidied the photo up a bit)


And here’s a 2010 shot of the same street from the same angle, I’m assuming by /u/xiaopb him/herself.

San Francisco, along with Boston and New York, ranks among my most favorite cities in the US. It’s just so vibrant and diverse. Yes, it’s got some issues as all large cities do, but I never miss an opportunity to go there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.