Blog

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE:

Craig Conley's Blog

THE '27' CLUB

10/21/14 at 04:46 AM

When I was younger, I used to practice self-abuse voraciously. Everything from sex, drugs, booze, hamburgers, candy bars, driving fast, staying up all night, no matter what…I always pushed things to the max. I felt strong, healthy, and invincible even. So why not? I paid the price for my excesses; hangovers, sore body parts, heartburn, you name it, I had it. But now that I’m getting older, I find I’m lightening up a bit. I don’t push the envelope anymore the way I used to…I opt for comfort rather than discomfort. Back then, it was almost a badge of courage to brag to my friends; ‘Wow, man. I haven’t slept in three days,’ or, Jeez, I got so drunk last night I couldn’t walk’. It was like I was trying to be the alpha-male of the pack using self-destruction as the measuring tool. Have you ever heard of the ‘27’ club? This is an exclusive club whose members have all died at the tender age of 27 years old. The list of famous names is impressive: Jimi Hendrix, John Belushi, Janis Joplin, River Phoenix, Jim Morrison...

Read More

CANDIDATE POLLUTION

10/19/14 at 04:03 AM

Are there no laws which restrict the signs proliferating along our roadways during election years? I’m constantly besieged by large garish signs espousing this candidate or that, this amendment or that – signs warning of impending doom or disaster if so-and-so is elected to office, etc. As if there weren’t enough of that crap on TV already. Now, since we live in an equal society, where all folks can express their opinion (supposedly), I wonder what would happen if I made up a bunch of colorful signs which read, “Vote for who you want, but buy Craig Conley Science Fiction books!” and went around the city sticking them in the ground alongside streets and intersections? How much you want to bet I’d be in jail within days for littering, or obstructing motorist’s view of the roadways, or violating some other city law originally designed to limit obnoxiousness among its good people? Of course, if things followed the patterns established in years past, many of those signs would still be up months after the elections were over…some poor schmuck with a faded sign in his front yard saying ‘Bush/Cheney 2004’ would be a prime example, or the guy with a half-torn ‘Romney/Ryan in 2012’ sticker flapping in the back window of his car...

Read More

FALL COLORS

10/17/14 at 04:00 AM

A green leaf is green because of the presence of a pigment known as chlorophyll. When it is abundant in the leaf's cells, as it is during the growing season, the chlorophylls' green color dominates and masks out the colors of any other pigments that may be present in the leaf. Thus the leaves of summer are characteristically green. Chlorophyll has a vital function: that of capturing solar rays and utilizing the resulting energy in the manufacture of the plant's food -simple sugars which are produced from water and carbon dioxide. These sugars are the basis of the plant's nourishment -the sole source of the carbohydrates needed for growth and development. In their food-manufacturing process, the chlorophylls themselves break down and thus are being continually ‘used up’. During the growing season, however, the plant replenishes the chlorophyll so that the supply remains high and the leaves stay green. In late summer, as daylight hours shorten and temperatures cool, the veins that carry fluids into and out of the leaf are gradually closed off as a layer of special cork cells forms at the base of each leaf. As this cork layer develops, water and mineral intake into the leaf is reduced, slowly at first, and then more rapidly. It is during this time that the chlorophyll begins to decrease. Often the veins will still be green after the tissues between them have almost completely changed color. As the chlorophylls degrade, the hidden pigments of yellow xanthophylls and orange...

Read More

COMET SIDING SPRING

10/15/14 at 04:24 AM

On Sunday, October 19th, comet Siding Spring will pass within 87,000 miles of the Red Planet, Mars. That’s less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth. This celestial visitor originated in the Oort Cloud – a spherical region of space surrounding our sun and occupying space at a distance between 5,000 and 100,000 astronomical units. It is a giant swarm of icy objects believed to be material left over from the formation of the solar system. Siding Spring will be the first comet from the Oort Cloud to be studied up close by spacecraft, giving scientists an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the materials, including water and carbon compounds, that existed during the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. We have quite a battery of scientific instruments ready for this critter…the several Mars-research satellites in orbit around the Red Planet, and the myriad of scientific investigative satellites orbiting Earth and the Sun. Hubble will be taking a look, too. NASA’s astrophysics space observatories - Kepler, Swift, Spitzer, Chandra - and the ground-based Infrared...

Read More

EDUCATION FROM CASINO WINNINGS?

10/13/14 at 04:42 AM

This Amendment 68 brouhaha has me concerned. I don’t think I want money from gambling to be incorporated into the funding structure of our education system. What happens if receipts fall short? Do we open another casino? Raise the limit at the tables…or track? Would there be even the slightest chance that the gambling dons would have a say in where the money goes within the education system, i.e., suppose they withheld certain amounts until better players (and more favorable betting odds) were purchased for the school sports teams? Having the kind of people who make their money off the get-rich-quick mentality of casinos and racing tracks in our education structure is absurd. Education is about raising people to the heights of artistry and intellectual magnificence…gambling and betting is going in the opposite direction. The ads currently running on TV purport to do nothing more than benefit schools if the race track is allowed to add a casino. That is utter nonsense and blatant spin doctoring. Don’t fall for it. Those...

Read More

DESTRUCTIVE ENERGY

10/11/14 at 04:29 AM

Fracking is using 7 billion gallons of water a year in four western states: Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, and North Dakota. Oil and gas deposits have been found along the Colorado Front Range and oil companies, in March 2012 at Colorado's auction for unallocated water, aided companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites to become top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers. A 2013 study published in Endocrinology - "Estrogen and Androgen Receptor Activities of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Surface and Ground Water in a Drilling-Dense Region" - found water samples near Colorado gas drilling sites using hydraulic fracturing showed the presence of chemicals linked to infertility, birth defects, and cancer, at higher levels than areas where fracking was not taking place. The study also found elevated levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in the Colorado River, where wastewater released during accidental spills at nearby wells wound up. State officials charged with promoting and regulating the energy industry estimated that fracking required about 13,900 acre-feet of water in 2010 and projects water needs for fracking will increase to 18,700 acre-feet a year by 2015. Environmentalists point out that the water used by fracking gets lost from the hydrological cycle forever because it is contaminated. I’ve seen so many ads on TV...

Read More

AIRPLANE MUFFLERS

10/09/14 at 04:38 AM

I live by an airport. I’m constantly annoyed by the rasping rattle of small airplane engines as they fly over my house. They aren’t required to have mufflers on their engine exhaust. Why not? I know the roar of the engine helps feed the Snoopy and the Red Baron fantasy of a lot of those pilots, but they should have a little more consideration for those of us they’re buzzing over. Too many times my peaceful, quiet solitude as I sit under my tree in my back yard gets shattered by the loud drone of a little Piper Cub doing touch and go landings at the airport. Yeah, you can say it’s my fault for buying a house so close to the airport, but that’s not entirely true. You can say it’s the city’s fault for building the airport so close to housing, but that’s not it either. Automobiles and trucks and motorcycles are all required, by law, to have muffler systems in place to reduce the noise they make. Why not airplanes? Sure, if they fly high enough, you can’t hear them (or can just barely hear them), but they don’t always fly that high...

Read More

THE NIGHT

10/07/14 at 04:30 AM

I step out onto my back porch. I look up at the night sky. It’s 11 or 12 o’clock. The hustle and noise of the day is winding down. The night air smells so wonderful. Clean and fresh. The stars glimmer through the restricting haze of the atmosphere. I am alone. I am free. All the judgmental condemnations of the daytime are gone; it is becoming quiet. The good people are asleep. The few patrolling police officers have missed me. For this moment, I am free. I look up at the majesty of the stars and I am One with the Universe. No one to tell me what to do; no one to insist that I fit into their program. I walk along the empty deserted street in the wee hours of the morning; perhaps I see another person…I nod gently – an imperceptible smile on my face – he (or she) nods back with the same smile. Acknowledged wisdom; acknowledged understanding of our shared perspective…words can’t fully connect us…we are too deep. Only the nod will do. I know and you know. I walk on. The...

Read More

WRONG RELIGION

10/05/14 at 04:00 AM

The recent beheadings by members of this so-called Islamic State in the Middle East begs a question. What kind of religion requires its followers to brutally cut off someone’s head? If that’s in your scriptures, trust me, you’ve got the wrong religion. The truth of the matter is that this is a gang of angry folks who’re unhappy because they don’t have the shiny goodies they think everyone else has, and they gather together under the banner of religious persecution and fight for their God. Such a motive allows pretty much any atrocity anyone can think of because it’s being done for God. Tell me, boys, as you’re slicing through that flesh and blood is spurting everywhere and the victim is howling in pain and anguish, do you believe that your God is praising you for your actions? Sitting on his throne up in Heaven and putting a gold star beside your name on the rolls? Telling all the other high-minded holy men sitting beside him to make sure and give you special treatment because you have become such a good person? I rather imagine that it’s much more likely that when you die, you’re going to find that your inhumanity to your fellow man has condemned you to eons of dark thoughts, ignorance, and gnawing pains in the pit of your stomach – never (or barely) able to look another person straight in the eye from the weight of the guilt – until a suitable period of penance has passed. Could be lifetimes…maybe even one for every person you killed? Finding a...

Read More

PERFORMANCE BOND

10/03/14 at 04:40 AM

I wrote about the poor getting poorer the other day and happened to mention the French princess who once said, “Let them eat cake.” I got to thinking about that and then remembered the French fondness for the guillotine. That’s where the phrase, “Heads will roll,” came from. I put that with the upcoming elections and had an idea. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not in any way suggesting any type of assassination or attack on our beloved(?) public officials; this is just sheer speculation and should not be taken any other way. But considering the dysfunctional and incompetent selection of personality disorders asking to be elected this fall, I wonder what would happen if we made a slight modification to the job description. Suppose that we set up a guillotine in the public square, and if an elected official’s approval rating fell below 50% - off with his head! I bet first off, all those individuals who had no clue about how to do the job, or were only in it for the money, or who were just BSing their way into it looking for the perks and the fame and fortune…I’d bet they’d withdraw their job application immediately. As a matter of fact, I imagine it would suddenly become very hard to fill those positions…you’d have to have real philanthropic humanitarians with the brilliance, dedication, and determination to serve the populace well. Rare birds, to say the least. If you think about it, this idea isn’t so far-fetched, either...

Read More

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

10/01/14 at 04:35 AM

The first space station was Salyut 1, which was launched by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. Several transformations (and outright additions) later, the International Space Station of today was officially created in 1998 by the merging of the Russian Mir-2 and Space Station Freedom together. It currently maintains a nearly circular orbit between 205 and 255 miles with an inclination of 51.6 degrees to Earth’s equator. It travels at a velocity of 17,227 mph and completes roughly 15 and a half orbits around the Earth daily. The station provides crew quarters for each member of the expedition's crew, with two 'sleep stations' in the Zvezda Module and four more installed in Harmony Module. The American quarters are private, approximately person-sized soundproof booths. The Russian crew quarters include a small window, but do not provide the same amount of ventilation or block the same amount of noise as their American counterparts. A crewmember can sleep in a tethered sleeping bag. Visiting crews have no allocated sleep module, and usually attach a sleeping bag to an available space on a wall—it is possible to sleep floating freely through the station, but this is generally avoided because of the possibility of bumping into sensitive equipment. It is important that crew accommodations be well ventilated; otherwise, astronauts can wake up oxygen-deprived and gasping for air, because a bubble of their own exhaled carbon dioxide has formed around their heads...

Read More

CHANGE AHEAD THIS FALL

09/29/14 at 04:42 AM

The elections are coming and lines are being drawn. This one is for control of the houses and senates of state and federal governments. Forget the Independents, Green Parties, Libertarians, etc., etc. The game is between Democrats and Republicans. Back when I was a kid, there was a fair balance between the two parties…there were just about as many Republicans as there were Democrats. But today, that may not be the case. Republicans favor the wealthy folks among us, less taxes, smaller government, no welfare handouts, full speed ahead with making money…even if it destroys the environment or the future. Republicans are what’re called Conservative in their outlook, and they haven’t changed much in decades. They’re still holding onto the Christian beliefs about marriage, child-bearing, the death penalty, and so on, while keeping faith with the oh-so-important looking the other way when it comes to cheating on taxes, disregarding what the military-industrial complex bombs are doing to the limbs and bodies of the foreigners they’re getting dropped on, the overwhelming scientific evidence supporting global warming, and several other blind spots. It used to be...

Read More

POLITICAL MUD-SLINGING

09/27/14 at 04:14 AM

The elections are almost upon us and I’m amazed at the amount of political mud-slinging going on. The television and radio waves are full of it, not to mention newspapers, roadside signs and, unfortunately, my mailbox. The slightest transgression from a candidate’s past is blown up and magnified for all to see. As if we didn’t already know that these characters were oozing sleaze trails as they walked down the street. It seems the sexual infidelities are the favored presentation, followed closely by indiscreet comments about everything from minorities to betraying the US workforce with overseas outsourcing to, depending on the area being spoken to, either increasing the military or downsizing the military or police forces. One thing you don’t hear though – nobody talks about how greedy they’ve been or intend to be. No mention of the limos, the $2,000 suits, the offices and staff on the payroll, the expensive air travel, the masses of campaign money collected (and where exactly it goes), the nice...

Read More

SCOTLAND'S NO VOTE

09/25/14 at 04:13 AM

I was quite relieved to see that Scotland voted against seceding from the United Kingdom last week. The UK is basically a small island. The three countries inhabiting it, England, Scotland, and Wales, are more like sections or states than countries. They all speak English as a primary language, although if you get one of those old Scots with a thick burr, it’s hard to decipher what he’s saying sometimes. Of course, Welsh is pretty bizarre, too. All those double letters which aren’t normally doubled (ll, dd, etc.) can be confusing. But then, try going down to East London sometime and listen to those blokes talk. I guarantee you won’t catch but one word in ten…and they’re speaking proper English words. Unfortunately, the accent and the word substitutions from colloquial sources can mystify anyone who wasn’t born nearby. Still, I’m glad to see that the United Kingdom will remain intact...

Read More

EASY RIDER BIKE

09/23/14 at 04:12 AM

The customized Captain America chopper Peter Fonda rode in "Easy Rider" came to symbolize the counterculture of the 1960’s. Now it's for sale. The auction house Profiles in History told The Associated Press that it estimates the Harley-Davidson will bring $1 million to $1.2 million at its October 18th sale being held online and at its galleries in Calabasas, California. The seller is Michael Eisenberg, a California businessman who once co-owned a Los Angeles motorcycle-themed restaurant with Fonda and ‘Easy Rider’ co-star Dennis Hopper. Eisenberg bought it last year from Dan Haggerty, perhaps best known for his roles in the ‘Grizzly Adams’ TV show and movies, who was in charge of keeping the custom-designed bike humming during the 1969 movie's filming. The gleaming stars-and-stripes panhead chopper with chromed hardtail frame is accompanied by three letters of authenticity. One is signed by the National Motorcycle Museum, where it was displayed for 12 years. Another is from Fonda and a third from Haggerty. The bike features a forward-angled front wheel and handlebars, fishtail exhaust pipes and a teardrop-shaped gas tank where the riders stashed their cash. It was designed with input from Fonda who insisted...

Read More

SUPERNOVA DEBRIS

09/21/14 at 04:29 AM

I have a fondness for supernovas. They are the most powerful explosions in the Universe, and being something of a pyromaniac, I just adore them. I read everything I can about them. But I’ve noticed that many of the articles I’ve read describe how the star burns up all its fuel in the explosion. Now this is nuclear fuel, of course, as the primary energy comes from the Strong Nuclear Force which is released during the fusion process. Just like the energy that keeps our Sun going – the Strong Nuclear Force is liberated when atoms are heated so hot they bump into one another and fuse into one larger atom and convert a tiny bit of their matter into energy in the process (E=mc2). I’m realizing now that describing the star as having all its nuclear fuel go up at once to make the supernova explosion is misleading. Not all the protons, neutrons, and electrons are annihilated in one single moment. If that were true, there’d be no debris left over…and there is debris left over. Always. How about this for a scenario? Since a star is a sphere, and a sphere has more matter in its surface layers than at its center (common geometry), it stands to reason that there would be more gravitational pull near the surface of the sphere than at its one center point. What if, when a star gets huge...

Read More

REAL VIDEO GAMES

09/19/14 at 04:18 AM

Here’s an idea which won’t be well-received, I’ll bet. You know the video games like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty? Real life-like action where you’re blowing away people in war simulations, firing like mad, explosions everywhere; or battling cops and other supposedly unpleasant types to rack up high scores by stealing cars and getting away? Naturally, I wonder at the message we are sending to our young ones with such games, but the First Amendment protects free speech in all its forms, including these troubling manifestations. Of course, we can’t stop them now that they’re out there, but what if we decided to go a bit further and require these games to become even more life-like? Suppose from now on we required game player manufacturers to install a disc-writing subroutine in any new player which would overwrite any game disc someone inserted in order for it to play with stronger reality programming. Like, in Grand Theft Auto, you could wreak havoc, bash hookers, and make your getaway in your stolen prized auto, but if you got caught by the cops, your play disc would then only play the inside of a jail cell every time you booted it up (until the 10 or 20 years in real time of your sentence was up)...

Read More

FRACKING LIES

09/17/14 at 04:14 AM

There’s an organization called “Protect Colorado” (oddly enough!) which is advertising that 93,000 jobs will be lost in Colorado if a fracking ban is initiated. I’ve never seen such hogwash! True enough, jobs will be lost if fracking is made illegal, but those jobs are going to be in the oil and gas industry, and if they are working to gang-rape Mother Earth to squeeze out every last drop of petroleum from her bosom, then I say put ‘em on the unemployment rolls. Let them find some kinder, more beneficial work. Fracking is a process which uses millions of gallons of our precious fresh water for each well! EACH WELL!! MILLIONS!! The cost to our biosphere for those few gallons of gas is disproportionate, to say the least! It’s time we started the cold-turkey withdrawal from the gasoline syringe – we all knew it was coming anyway. Fracking is like stealing from your parents to keep your habit going. This disgusting organization is running a thinly-veiled and misleading ad campaign to try and get citizens to believe that fracking is good (“protect”?) for states. It is not. One fracking site in Texas used so much water to fracture several wells that the local aquifer ran dry…leaving the unsuspecting citizens without drinking water or water for agriculture...

Read More

TRACTOR BEAMS

09/15/14 at 04:10 AM

Scientists studying how floating particles move on the surface of water have come up with a way to pull them in, push them away or make them stay still. They can now precisely control objects by generating waves with specified frequency and amplitude. The work by Australian National University researchers might find use in cleaning up oil spills. It could also lead to a better understanding of how moving water develops into rip currents. It also could be the precursor to an actual ‘Star Trek’ tractor beam! "We have figured out a way of creating waves that can force a floating object to move against the direction of the wave," said physicist Horst Punzmann, who led the research. "No one could have guessed this result." At the heart of their advance was the discovery that complex surface waves generate currents that can be tuned to impart specific desired movements in objects bobbing on the surface...

Read More

THE PREGNANT DUCHESS

09/13/14 at 04:28 AM

Well, it seems Kate is preggies again. The royal couple announced that the Duchess of Cambridge was once again knocked up – coming a year and two months after little (future) King George arrived. That’s smart, actually. I think having kids one right after the other is better than spacing them out over a wide range of years. Not only is it better for the kids since they’ll have brothers and sisters to play with in their own age group, but it’s better for mommy, too. She can devote her whole attention to the child-raising scenario and get it accomplished more-or-less all at once. Good to do it while she has the energy, too…wouldn’t want to be 65 years old and trying to contain a 14 year old kid. When Prince Harry was told of the forthcoming new heir to the throne, knocking him down to fifth place in the line of succession, he just laughed and replied, “Great.” I don’t think Harry wants to sit on the throne – he’s strikes me as more the playboy type. And what a great position to be in...

Read More

ROBBERY FOR SMOKES

09/11/14 at 04:43 AM

I’ve noticed that a lot of the local convenience store robberies seem to involve cigarettes. Money first, of course, but a lot of the time the robber goes for cigarettes, too. I understand that cigarettes are getting very expensive with so many people wanting to eliminate the tobacco habit from humanity, but I rather doubt those cigarettes taken during the robberies are going to be resold. A more plausible explanation would be that the robber has gone broke and is desperate for a smoke so he musters his courage and knocks off a convenience store for a pack or two. Any money he can get – since he’s already there, so to speak – as well; but I wonder how many of those robberies are motivated primarily by the tobacco addiction. I’m going to guess more than a few. If that’s the case, how many of those crimes...

Read More

RUSSIAN CONCERNS

09/09/14 at 04:21 AM

I am concerned that Russia is not going to stop until the Ukraine is back under Russian sovereignty. Russia has such a massive military…so well-equipped…and a long history of being a ruthless people, I just don’t see them lying down and doing nothing while the Ukraine secedes from the motherland. Especially with Vladimir Putin running things. He strikes me as something of an egotistical bully who would punish anyone who challenged him. I might be wrong, but current events sure seem to be leaning in that direction. Russia has not withdrawn and allowed the Ukrainian people to form an independent government, instead they are slowly but surely building up their forces around the separatists, moving in heavy military might in the form of tanks and such, and increasing the number of combat troops on the ground in the area. It looks like they’re getting ready to quell the “uprising” and put it down by force. Don’t be surprised if in the coming months, something dramatic happens there. Of course, the timing couldn’t be better for Putin. Right now the US is involved in the ISIS problem and it’s grabbing the media attention...

Read More

BIRTHDAY GEMSTONES

09/07/14 at 04:34 AM

I wrote about the birthstones linked to the month of your birth, but did you know there are also birthstones tied to the day of the week on which you were born? Here they are: If you were born on a Monday, your birthstones would be Pearl or Crystal. If perchance you were born on a Tuesday; either Ruby or Emerald are your birthday stones. Wednesday’s birthstones are Amethyst or Lodestone. Thursday is Sapphire or Carnelian. Friday’s birthstones are Emerald or Cat’s Eye. If you were born on a Saturday, your birthday stones would be Turquoise or Diamond. Finally, if you were born on a Sunday, you’d have either Topaz or Diamond as your birthday stones. There are also specific birthstones related to the signs of the zodiac (for you astrology buffs). Aquarius is Garnet. Pisces is Amethyst. Aries is...

Read More

BIRTHSTONES

09/05/14 at 04:27 AM

By her who in the January is born, no gem save Garnets should be worn, they will ensure her constancy, true friendship, and fidelity. The February-born shall find sincerity and peace of mind, freedom from passion and from care, if they an Amethyst shall wear. Who in this world of ours their eyes in March first open shall be wise, in days of peril firm and brave, and wear a Bloodstone to their grave. She who from April dates her years, Diamonds shall she wear; lest bitter tears, for vain repentance flow; this stone, emblem of innocence, is well known. Who first beholds the light of day in spring's sweet flowery month of May, and wears an Emerald all her life, shall be a loved and happy wife. Who comes with summer to this earth, and owes to June her hour of birth, with ring of Agate on her hand, can health, wealth, and long life command. The glowing Ruby shall adorn, those who in July are born;...

Read More

9 YEAR-OLD KILLER

09/03/14 at 04:47 AM

Well, another example of why guns need to be banned. A 9 year-old girl in Arizona was being instructed on how to shoot an Uzi automatic weapon. The gun got away from her and shot her instructor in the head. He died. A couple of things come to mind. One: What kind of parents take their nine year-old daughter to a firing range to learn how to shoot an Uzi? An UZI, for Chrissakes! A 9 year-old girl!! She probably still has a Barbie doll and Hello Kitty underwear! Two: What kind of qualified instructor would even consider teaching a nine year-old girl how to shoot an Uzi? That’s unqualified if ever there was a word for it! Three: How is that poor young girl going to react the next time someone tries to get her to hold a gun? For the rest of her life, she will be filled with horror at the thought of what happened that day. Psychoanalysts, get ready…this one’s going to be in there deep. Four: It’s going to be labeled an accident...

Read More