What ever happened to the Skyhopper? It was actually called the SoloTrek.

Edit 1/22/2016: The thing I was looking for was not called the Skyhopper, but rather the SoloTrek. My memory was the problem. Apparently the company that was trying to develop it abandoned the project. I am surprised I was not able to find an image of it with multiple searches until today.


As a result, the entire article below is now moot, but I’m leaving it up as a monument to my faulty memory.


The Internet remembers everything. Everything. Even things that people desperately want it to forget. as witnessed in the Streisand Effect.

So if I go hunting for something I remember seeing years ago, I expect it to be there, in some way, shape, or form… even if only as a relic, an artifact.

And when I can’t find it, I find it… disturbing, to say the least.

The dream of the one-man helicopter has never been fully realized, although a lot of people have spent a lot of money on the idea. I remember years ago one outfit was working on one. There were pictures, videos of the thing being tested in tethered mode, solicitations for investment, the works – all very professional.

It may have failed. It may have been a ponzi scheme. Anything could have happened. But there should be some remnant of its existence on the net, but… nothing.

I’ve searched for skyhopper, one-man helicopters, personal helicopters, two-fan hovercraft, and fifty other permutations.


I remember it used two of these things:


… attached to a sort of one-man tripod. Now I can’t draw worth hqiz, but the basic idea was this:


Edit: I couldn’t remember the name, but my memory of the basic structure was fairly accurate.

The pilot would stand on the two platforms, hold on to the controllers, and off he’d go.

I’m almost 100% certain the thing was called the “skyhopper,” but that term has now been co-opted by something from the Star Wars universe. It’s as if any reference to this invention has been carefully and deliberately scrubbed from the internet.

That makes no sense at all… even failed inventions leave traces. And I know that i’m not experiencing a false memory – I was intrigued by the pictures and the concept when I first saw it, and followed it closely until it became clear that no further progress was being made.

Now, I put no stock in conspiracy theories[1], but the absence of any reference to this thing goes against everything I have come to understand about the persistence of information on the internet. It’s just strange.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] What’s really happening, of course, is that the Air Force saw this idea, classified it, killed the inventor, scrubbed all references from the internet, and is now developing the idea secretly at Area 51, aided by the Erich von Däniken foundation.


Wow, Ban Ki-Moon knows who I am!

Today’s mail from the Lads from Lagos:

From: “UNITED NATIONS” <cbnexecutive@onebox.com>


United Nations Headquarters

New York, NY 10017, United States
Tel: +17754105879

Hello beneficiary,

This is to bring to your personal notice that the United Nations(UN) in collaboration with International Monetary Fund(IMF) have considered you as one of the recipient of the AWARD from the UN. The award is aimed at assisting Entrepreneurs to advance upwards and to encourage Philanthropy as well. This is our goal an Non-Profit/Humanitarian organization.

As a recipient ofthis honorable award, you will be receiving the sum of US$10.5million (US$10,500,000.00). Please do accept this pay and also help the less haves around your community.

We have have contracted the Zenith Bank Plc, to handle this payment to you as quickly as you contact them on their detail below:

All you have to do is to contact Chief Financial Officer of Zenith Bank – Mr Stanley Amuchie with your detail and he will do the necessary thing to put back smile on your face once again.

Submit the following:

Your Legal Names:
Contact Address:
Date of Birth:

Contact Person:  Mr Stanley Amuchie
Email: (

Thank you.

Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General,
New York, USA.

Send your replies to: zenithtransact@mailbox.sk
In case it’s not clear to anyone who receives the same kind of email – this is a scam. Ban Ki-Moon would not be sending email of this nature to any individual, let alone from an email address like “cbnexecutive@onebox.com,” or with a return address at some random mail service in Slovakia.
Despite the proclamation “No Upfront Fees,” you can be 110% certain that any victim who responds to this sludge will be asked for money in one form or another, again and again, until they finally catch on or are rendered penniless and indebted.
No Because No
Erika Eichelberger recently wrote at Mother Jones about her opportunity to interview a couple of these drones – it makes an interesting read.
These scams are rampant, and will continue as long as there are people who are willing to sacrifice their ethics for what they perceive as quick and easy cash. Be careful out there.
The Old Wolf has spoken.

After an Internship (courtesy of the reddit community)

reddit is a strange beast. Tailor your subreddits and settings carefully to avoid the dark side and the NSFW (not safe for work) stuff, and it can be a source of valuable information as well as good entertainment. If you like cats, paving your floor with pennies (don’t forget the sealer), using bananas for scale, and a host of mad references, you may find it a congenial place. But I digress.

Recently redditors began posting pictures of what it’s like after an internship at [company name.] I found these amusing – and revelatory – so I have collected them here for your reading pleasure.


At Google


At Microsoft




At Apple



At Comcast


At reddit

And, of course, what it’s like after an internship at pretty much anywhere these days:

homeless person sleeping in cardboard box


The Old Wolf has spoken.

So about that “Complimentary Trip” (Part II)

Click through for Part I of this travel scam.

So after sending in my certificate to IIG Promotions, including a SASE, we received this from Travel Select Rewards:

“Dear [Recipient]:

Thank you for choosing the Travel Select Rewards 7G.

Enclosed is the Certificate you selected. Please read all the terms and conditions before sending in the Registration Form included in your Certificate. We will not be able to take any calls prior to registering your selected certificate(s). [In other words, we’re not going to help you with this process. If you make the tiniest mistake, you’re screwed.]

IMPORTANT: Depending on the reward you have selected, your Registration Form must be received within 21 days or 30 days from the issue date of your Reward Certificate, or your Reward Certificate is void. Please reference the certificate(s) for clarification of all the terms & conditions and time requirements. Voided certificates will not be acknowledged or returned.


Here, in full, are the terms & conditions referred to everywhere. My comments are in [brackets and in blue.]


You have received an exciting airfare promotional offer. [Note: Unlike the original postcard, this is not a “complimentary vacation.”] Below you will find the terms and conditions regarding this promotional offer. These terms are important to the processing of your reservation. Please carefully read them in their entirety.

[How many people will actually take the time to do this? “I have read and accept the End User License Agreement” is one of the most-frequently told lies on the internet today.]

Description of the Program:

This offer includes round-trip coach airfare departing to and from a major US internaational airport within the continental U.S., Puerto Vallarta or Cancun, Mexico and three days and two nights of standard hotel accommodations for two adults (double occupancy required). Recipient and guest must be 21 years of age or older, be a U.S. citizen and possess a valid driver’s license and a major credit card. A purchase of two additional nights of accommodations at an IIG Promotions approved hotel property will be required if the recipient selects a Mexico destination. [Note: at no time does the “offer” say anywhere that you have won a “free trip.” If you got this certificate as the result of sitting through a high-pressure vacation club presentation, be assured that it is worth precisely $0, and will end up costing you a lot of money.]

Registration Form Requirements:

Log on to http://www.rewardregistrationcenter.com to build your IIG Promotions online profile within 30 days of the issue date of offer. Once your offer is registered, you will be provided a link to your Travel Request Form (TRF) to begin the booking process.

If you do not have internet access, you may complete the attached Registration Form and return the original (NO COPIES) to IIG Promotions. Registration Form must be received within 30 days of the issue date of offer. Once your registration is accepted, a TRF will be emailed to you within 14 business days to begin the booking process. If an email is not provided, a TRF will be mailed to you. [Notice all the time-sensitive dates in this offer. Any delay whatsoever, whether your fault or not, will void the offer.]

A $100 refundable deposit in U.S. Dollars, in the form of a money order or cashier’s check will be required at the time of mailing your TRF. Failure to follow all registration requirements, terms of offer, and deposit not being received in the time frame specified renders offer & certificate void without exception. Mail all correspondence to IIG Promotions, P.O. Box 3479, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405 [Based on the myriad complaints out there about this outfit, getting any money back from them is either impossible or a nightmare. The fact that they only accept payment in money orders or cashier’s checks is a huge red flag.]

General TRF and Offer Requirements:

  • Three different preferred dates of departure and destinations are required. [They’ll validate the cheapest one for you.]
  • A 60 day minimum advance notice for preferred travel dates is required. [So they can find the cheapest fare.]
  • Preferred travel dates must be in chronological order and be at least 30 days apart.
  • Offer is for double occupancy and both travelers must travel on the same itinerary.
  • Monday or Tuesday departures only [This limits your options significantly. If you didn’t take the time to read these terms and conditions carefully and propose travel dates outside these two days, your entire offer will be voided and the cost will be sky-high.]
  • Refundable deposit will be applied to outstanding travel fees and taxes due at time of booking.
  • Recipient is required to pay all government taxes, carrier/supplier imposed fees, ticketing/servicing fees (approximately $119 to $219 per person) and any upgrades selected at the time of booking. These fees will vary based on the destination and dates selected.
  • Recipient and guest’s base coach airfare (excludes government taxes and carrier-imposed fees) is not to exceed $200 per person. [Note: your base fare can’t be more than $200.00, but taxes and fees will most likely be at least $219 per person. This is hardly what classifies as a “deal” in anyone’s book. In the end, you will end up paying almost as much or more for a trip than if you had booked it yourself online using a travel aggregator and looking for your own deals.]
  • Payment must be made using a major credit card; payment cannot be refunded after travel is confirmed. [This makes it impossible for you to get your funds back if anything goes sideways.]
  • Departure and arrival destinations are restricted to IIG approved international airports. [But they don’t tell you which ones those are before you send in your $100 deposit.]
  • Hotel accomodations are at one of hundreds of nationally known hotels in our system such as Intercontinental, Choice, Wyndham, and other hotel affiliates.
  • Only one offer per household will be issued during the promotional offer time period and all travel must be completed within 12 months from your issue date.


To keep offer from becoming invalid, all correspondence is time sensitive and needs to be returned by mail in the designated time frames. [If you don’t, the whole ball of wax is void.] You will receive a written confirmation with directions and check-in times (if applicable) by mail or email about two weeks prior to your departure date and only after your vacation has been paid in full for any outstanding governmental taxes, service fees and or additional travel services if ordered through IIG Promotions. It is important that you do not leave for your getaway vacation until you have received written confirmation. IIG will not be responsible for travel arrangements made prior to the confirmation of your trip.


Request for travel dates, cities, ports of departure, travel itineraries and airport offerings outside what is allowed in this promotional offer will result in your travel becoming a discounted trip. [The price of that discounted trip will be astronomical. Have a look at some of the complaints.] Once reservation is booked, failure to show for hotel reservations will result in recipient being charged the full retail value of offer [guaranteed to be some astronomical random number.] Some destinations may be considered high demand year round. This offer is valid for weekday travel during low season with year round usage when available for a surcharge [guaranteed to be astronomical.] During high season, special events, weekends, conventions, holiday and peak travel periods a surcharge [guaranteed to be astronomical] will apply, when available. Holidays and Peak Travel Periods are defined as one full week before, during or after any major government holiday or during the months of March, June, July and August. Non-stop flights, class of service of accommodations, length of getaway not covered in offer are available upon request and require an upgrade fee [guaranteed to be astronomical.] Primary certificate holder must make deposit payment. [If someone else pays the deposit, the offer is void, and good luck getting that money back.] All travel components are restricted to Published and Tariff fares. All travel components are subject to IIG’s promotional availability and booked at IIG’s sole discretion. IIG reserves the right to substitute offer components without notice. This offer does not include the cost for additional guests, extra nights and upgrades or any type of incidental expenses such as but not limited to food, beverages, hotel amenity/resort fees, government taxes, gratuities, travel insurance, and service charges, Sorry, no pets. IIG is not responsible for travel suppliers schedule changes. IIG will make every effort to accommodate your preferred travel date(s) but has the right to add, delete or substitute travel dates, resort, hotel and or destinations. IIG has the option to substitute another promotional travel offer of equal or greater value if this offer becomes unavailable.

Refund/Cancellation Policy:

If a need arises to change travel or services booked, all reservations are final and non-refundable. [Sorry, you’re screwed again.] Cancellation Policy – Cancellation penalties apply and certificate will be ineligible for future use. [Good luck getting any of your money back, sucker.] Confirmed reservations may be changed based on travel supplier policy and at IIG Promotions sole discretion, a minimum fee of $25 applies [but you can be sure it will be a lot more] and is the sole responsibility of the recipient. Should you need to cancel your reservations, prior to being booked, IIG Promotions must receive written notice 30 days prior to the expiration of your travel offer. Cancellation must be sent U.S. Certified mail to: IIG Promotions, P.O. Box 3479, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405

Limit on Redemptions:

Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in this offer or appear on a confirmed reservation, late correspondence, submission of an incomplete Registration and or Travel Request Form, will result in forfeiture of offer and wil not be acknowledged or returned. Reissue Policy – IIG Promotions does not assume any liability or responsibility for lost or stolen certificates. [This clause is the biggest loophole of all. If you make a single mistake anywhere along the byzantine booking/redemption process, your offer goes up in smoke, and they don’t even have to tell you about it. Your deposit, were you foolish enough to send one in, vanishes like the dew under a desert sun.]

Non-transferable: No Cash Value:

[Brother, they got that one right.] This offer is non-transferable and cannot be sold or redeemed for cash, nor shall any rebates, refunds or credits be issued for any unused time, day (s) or space. This offer is not valid in conjunction with any other discount or promotional offer, nor is it valid for use with group travel. A group is considered two (2) or more families traveling together or meeting at the same destination with the same arrival date.

Limitation of Liability:

This offer us void where prohibited by law. IIG Promotions reserves the right to substitute the components of the offered vacation and varied itinerary with equal or greater value without verbal or written notification should circumstances so require. [Don’t ask, we won’t tell.] IIG Promotions does not assume any liability for damage, expense, or inconvenience, nor for any loss, injury or death or damge to any person or property at any hotel or on any aircraft/ship, or in transit to or from said hotel/aircraft/ship or for any cause whatsoever due to delays, cancellation due to nature, mechanical breakdown, strikes, or acts of God. All federal, state and local laws apply. IIG Promotions assumes no responsibility for any promises or claims, written or verbal made by anyone, other than those made in the terms and conditions provided herein. [In other words, if the pitchman you talked to promised you anything at all, if it’s not in this contract, you’re out of luck.] This is a promotional offer [note: not a “prize” or a “free vacation”] and is not to be sold to the end user without prior written consent from IIG Promotions. This offer is not to be used as an employee incentive, by any affiliate of IIG Promotions or the sponsor’s affiliate. The offer is null and void if it is used incorrectly [that’s a huge loophole]. In the event of any mediation, arbitration or litigation relating to this Agreement, the parties (1) agree to the exclusive personal jurisdiction of the state courts located in Mohave County, Arizona and the federal courts located in Phoenix, Arizona, and (2) waive any claim of inconvenient forum. [If you don’t like using our bought-and-paid-for justice system, tough luck.]

You may cancel this contract without penalty or obligation within 30 days from the date of purchase or receipt of the vacation offer/certificate, whichever occurs later. You may also cancel this contract if accomodations or facilities are not available purusant to a request for use as provided in the contract. If you decide to cancel, you must notify the seller in writing of your intent to cancel by returning the certificate and sending notice to IIG Promotions, P.O. Box 3479, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405. IIG Promotions is registered with the State of Florida as a Seller of Travel. Registration No. 37367. [Note: this whole scheme is a devious way of selling you an overpriced trip unter the thinly-veiled guise of an “exciting offer.” Remember: you get what you pay for, and TANSTAAFL.]¹ No person should rely upon reprentations other than thoe included in these terms & conditions. [Read: We know that our salesmen out there are going to lie through their teeth to you, and we take no responsibility for anything they say.] This contract is for the purchase [Note: “purchase,” not “reward.”] of a vacation certificate and puts all assignees on notice of the consumer’s right to cancel under section 559.933, Florida Statutes. California Seller of Travel Registration No. 2093731-50.

To streamline the process, we will not be able to handle any phone calls prior to receiving your registration form. [This is repeated multiple times. They don’t want to talk to you or explain anything. If you make a mistake, it voids your certificate and “offer.”

TL;DR – This is not an award or a complimentary trip. It’s an offer to sell you travel, and a very deviously-designed one at that. You think you’re getting a deal, but in the end it’s almost a guarantee that it will cost you more than if you had booked the travel yourself (assuming you did good research.) The people who operate this company and their attorneys must have been pimps and pedophiles in a previous life.

At any rate, I went to the website² and registered as requested. I was promised an email with further details in return. Stand by for Part III.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

¹There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

² Just for yucks and giggles, the additional Terms and Conditions on the Website (which didn’t display properly, by the way – I had to “view source” on that page to see them) are below:

Acceptance of Terms of Use. This Web site and the services offered on it (the “Service”) are owned and operated by Infinity Travel. The Service is provided to you pursuant to the terms and conditions of this Terms of Use and any operating rules or policies that may be published by Infinity Travel (including the Privacy Policy), as may be amended from time to time (collectively, the “Agreements”). You shall mean you, any invitee of yours, and anyone who may receive a gift or credit from you which is redeemable by using the Service. BY USING THE SERVICE, YOU ARE INDICATING YOUR AGREEMENT TO BE BOUND BY ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CONTAINED IN THE AGREEMENTS. User Responsibilities. By consenting to the Agreements, you agree: To represent only yourself on the Service, and no other persons, living, dead, or imagined; the Service may only be used by natural persons (i.e., individuals) on their own behalf and not by or on behalf of any commercial entity unless explicitly permitted by Infinity Travel; To provide accurate information to Infinity Travel, including, but not limited to information required to register with the Service; To not use the Service to: Reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, resell, distribute, publish or exploit for any commercial purpose the software, products, or services provided by Infinity Travel or obtained through the Service without obtaining the express, prior written consent of Infinity Travel. This restriction includes any attempt to incorporate any information from the provide for your own access to the Service, including but not limited to obtaining and maintaining all telephone, computer hardware and software, and other equipment and paying all related charges. Privacy. As part of the Service registration process, you will provide certain personal information to Infinity Travel. Your personal information will only be used in accordance with Infinity Travel’s Privacy Policy. Infinity Travel reserves the right to, but is not obligated to, inform you by email of changes or additions to the Service or of any Infinity Travel related products and services. Vendors and Goods and Services Infinity Travel and your organization will not be liable for any loss or damage incurred as a result of any interaction between you and a vendor accessible through the Service. All matters, including but not limited to delivery of goods and services, returns, and warranties are solely and strictly between you and the vendor. You acknowledge that Infinity Travel and your organization do not endorse or warrant the vendors that are accessible through the Service nor the goods and services that they provide. In the event of any mediation, arbitration or litigation relating to this Agreement, the parties (1) agree to the exclusive personal jurisdiction of the state courts located in Mohave County, Arizona and the federal courts located in Phoenix, Arizona, and (2) waive any claim of inconvenient forum.

Don’t you think the customer knows his/her own address?

Yarg snarl yarg.

I run an online business. People pay me via PayPal, or use that service as a credit-card broker.

Every now and then, I get a popup like this when shipping:


And then you can’t go forward or override the popup until you use the “suggested” address. Notice that the only difference is that the customer entered “Hot Springs,” and the Post Office (xchxxxchhxttt paTOO!) demands “Hot Springs National Park.”

For the love of Mogg’s holy grandfather, don’t you think the customer knows his own address? Is the Post Office so stupid that even with a correct ZIP Code, they’ll be unable to deliver the parcel because their database happens to have a slightly different name for the locality?

It’s fine to provide this information, but they need a button that says “Use Address As Provided” so that the seller doesn’t have to take the time to go in and manually change the address.

The Old Wolf has ranted.



L.S./M.F.T (Like Strike Means a Facebook Touch-up)

In the last couple of days, two individuals have written about experiments that they conducted at Facebook.

Mat Honan, at Wired, wrote about what happened to his Facebook feed when he “liked” absolutely everything he saw for two days.


At the same time, Elan Morgan was conducting a similar experiment… by not liking anything at all, and when she saw Honan’s post, was inspired to write about her experience.


Before you go on, I recommend you read both articles in their entirety. There are some good thoughts in each, addressing more than the facebook issue. I will quote this, from Schmutzie’s blog post:

The first thing I noticed was how difficult it was to not like things on Facebook. As I scrolled through updates, my finger instinctively gravitated towards the Like button on hundreds of posts and comments. It has become a gut-level, Pavlovian response. I saw updates I liked or wanted others to know I liked, and I found myself almost unconsciously clicking my approval.

The Like is the wordless nod of support in a loud room. It’s the easiest of yesses, I-agrees, and me-toos. I actually felt pangs of guilt over not liking some updates, as though the absence of my particular Like would translate as a disapproval or a withholding of affection. I felt as though my ability to communicate had been somehow hobbled. The Like function has saved me so much comment-typing over the years that I likely could have written a very quippy, War-and-Peace-length novel by now.

I have experienced much the same thing myself. Clicking that “like” button has become addictive, similar to the upvote/downvote arrows over at reddit. Both these articles made me think over the nature of my participation at Facebook.

A side note: my feed is full of other things, of course – lots of promotion from people running businesses, lots of politics, and – it goes without saying – lots of kittens and Pinterest shares. But, it is worth mentioning, no advertisements – I use FB Purity, which cleans up my Facebook feed in a way that makes it tolerable to use and much less noisy and chaotic. Social Fixer accomplishes the same thing. If you’re not using one of these, I highly recommend checking them out.

As for myself, I use Facebook to share things that are important to me; ideas, feelings, issues that I feel deserve attention, and to keep in touch with those people in my life who help me move forward. The “like” button has been a quick way of exchanging “strokes,” a concept introduced by transactional analysis and defined as “a unit of recognition.” As people, we need these strokes. Those who don’t get them on a regular basis end up feeling alone and isolated; even those who are introverted by nature and prefer solitude to social interaction need this kind of recognition and contrive to get it in other ways that serve them best, including self-stroking.¹

Mr. Honan noticed that by liking everything, he disovered that

“My News Feed took on an entirely new character in a surprisingly short amount of time. After checking in and liking a bunch of stuff over the course of an hour, there were no human beings in my feed anymore. It became about brands and messaging, rather than humans with messages.”

Contrariwise, Schmutzie (Elan Morgan’s alternate pseudonym) discovered that refusing to like anything and posting meaningful comments instead resulted in the exact opposite:

“Now that I am commenting more on Facebook and not clicking Like on anything at all, my feed has relaxed and become more conversational. It’s like all the shouty attention-getters were ushered out of the room as soon as I stopped incidentally asking for those kinds of updates by using the Like function. I have not seen a single repugnant image of animal torture, been exposed to much political wingnuttery, or continued to drown under the influx of über-cuteness that liking kitten posters can bring on. (I can’t quit the kittens.)”

Yeah, I enjoy the kittens, too. But what a contrast! By not using the “Like” button, one effectively short-circuits Facebooks ad-targeting algorithm and allows a more human environment to prevail.

I can’t tell you how much I like this concept… but I’m not going to click the button.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

¹That’s not what I meant and you know it. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Don’t send in the clowns… give them love.

The recent and tragic passing of Robin Williams has spawned a flurry of tributes and analyses, and many of these focus on the issue of mental health. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s unfortunate that it takes the death of a beloved actor to focus the public’s ephemeral attention on an ongoing problem. At the same time, it’s not like the issue has been unknown or has been being ignored all this time; my very first encounter with the issue of depression came from the classic poem:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
– Edwin Arlington Robinson

When I read this poem for the first time (probably around 9th grade, which would have been 1964) I thought, “How could someone so rich and powerful and enviable do that?” Then I lived with depression for 30 years. Not mine, but someone else’s, and I learned that this is not something that is tied to external circumstances, and it’s not just something you “get over.” No matter how hard some people work, no matter how much therapy, no matter how many meds, that blackness just doesn’t  go away. You can’t regrow a leg by thinking about it, you don’t make ALS disappear just because you want it to, and depression is just the same. And sometimes it just hurts too badly to keep going.

In 1967, Dave Berg wrote “The Lighter Side of the Mating Game” for MAD magazine. He had his finger on the pulse of the insecure comedian:

Dave Berg Georgie


A much darker, but no less accurate summation was created by Nicholas Gurewitch, the creator of the Perry Bible Fellowship:

Perry Bible Fellowship - We Need the Funny


In a recent ABC News article, Dr. Rami Kaminski, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University School of Medicine was quoted as saying, “The reason so many comedians are at risk for mental illness is because being funny is not the same thing as being happy.”  He also said he believes many comedians mine humor as a way to escape depression and anxiety.

Several articles and blogs which appeared pursuant to Williams’ death are worth reading:

The Death of Robin Williams, And What Suicide Isn’t – Elizabeth Hawksworth

Robin Williams’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish – Dean Burnett at The Guardian

David Wong, over at Cracked.com, wrote a savagely honest article about the relationship between comedy and internal suffering (he’s a humorist himself, and  speaks from experience, although this is obviously only one scenario, and doesn’t apply to all cases):

  1. At an early age, you start hating yourself. Often it’s because you were abused, or just grew up in a broken home, or were rejected socially, or maybe you were just weird or fat or … whatever. You’re not like the other kids, the other kids don’t seem to like you, and you can usually detect that by age 5 or so.
  2. At some point, usually at a very young age, you did something that got a laugh from the room. You made a joke or fell down or farted, and you realized for the first time that you could get a positive reaction that way. Not genuine love or affection, mind you, just a reaction — one that is a step up from hatred and a thousand steps up from invisibility. One you could control.
  3. You soon learned that being funny builds a perfect, impenetrable wall around you — a buffer that keeps anyone from getting too close and realizing how much you suck. The more you hate yourself, the stronger you need to make the barrier and the further you have to push people away. In other words, the better you have to be at comedy.
  4. In your formative years, you wind up creating a second, false you — a clown that can go out and represent you, outside the barrier. The clown is always joking, always “on,” always drawing all of the attention in order to prevent anyone from poking away at the barrier and finding the real person behind it. The clown is the life of the party, the classroom joker, the guy up on stage — as different from the “real” you as possible. Again, the goal is to create distance.

You do it because if people hate the clown, who cares? That’s not the real you. So you’re protected.

The full article is rather coarse so I don’t quote most of it here, but if you’re not offended by such things, you can visit the source.

For me, the takeaway from all of this is that much more needs to be done in the area of treating mental illness. When people get sick, they visit a doctor without hesitation. But let a person suffer from depression, and it’s usually hidden away in the closet and discussed in hushed whispers using euphemisms like “chemical imbalance.” Those who suffer usually manage to function in society, but are rarely free of judgment; most often heard from others who have no clue are things like “happiness is a choice, just snap out of it.” This and about 100 other platitudes, things that are never helpful to say to someone with depression, can be found at PsychCentral.

The other important point is that there is nothing that you can do for a friend or loved one who suffers from the blackness. Depression is still poorly understood, and there is no “cure.” The same source above provides a list of things that can be done, but this list – while accurate – is highly clinical and omits the two most important things you can do: Love and accept. People with depression need a community of friends who can provide support and acceptance without judgment. Even this won’t make the blackness go away, but it’s the best thing friends and family can offer.

In conclusion, two beautiful tributes to the life of Robin Williams:

Patch Adams: ‘Thank You for All You’ve Given This World Robin, Thank You My Friend’

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Big boys play with big toys

Saw these posted over at reddit the other day and since I live just down the road from where these big boys are used, I thought I’d share it. In fact, one of the men in my neighborhood drives one of these trucks. The comparison with the school bus next to it is pretty mind-bending.


Here’s an image of the Kenecott open-pit copper mine where these devices are in use; the inset shows one of the loaders and its relative size to the pit.


Next up is a time-lapse video showing the reconstruction of an access road that was wiped out during the massive slide of April 10, 2013 – in fact, four of these monster trucks were buried in the debris, but have since been recovered.

Of course, even these humonstrous machines are dwarfed by the Bagger 288, the largest movable machine ever created by man – built in 1978 in Germany by Krupp.

bagger 288

This beast was designed for coal mining, and it chews up everything – including the occasional stray bulldozer.


For more eye-popping images of this device, head over to Dark Roasted Blend.

“Honey from the bee-bee.”

When I was a kid in New York, living in the Germantown area of upper Lexington Avenue, we had a lot of wonderful stores in the neighborhood. There was a German deli across the street, Jewish delicatessens, and many others. On occasion my mother would bring home a little wooden box filled with comb honey:


… and that’s what we called it, because I was around six or so, and it seemed an apt description. Not from the store, not in a bottle, but right from the beehive. And what a treat it was.

I haven’t had it for decades, and recently I started looking. Places like Whole Foods and Sprouts claim to carry it at certain times of the year, but I’ve never seen it there. So I started looking online. You can find it, but by the time you add shipping prices, it becomes too extravagant an indulgence.

Enter the local farmer’s market:


Got some today, along with some other yummy breads and berries and vegetables and a tamale for lunch and mini-doughnuts fried right in front of us in the most wonderful automatic doughnut maker that made me think of Homer Price and his grand adventures, courtesy of Robert McCluskey:




The honey was just as good as I always remembered it, and the wax still got stuck in my teeth. Hooray for farmer’s markets!

The Old Wolf has spoken.