Tuesday, July 31, 2001

I am worth exactly: $2,516,752.00. I'm not insured for that much, though. Should I be?
This scared the bejeezus out of me. Scramjets.

Monday, July 30, 2001

There's something so appealing about blank media: tapes and discs; all sealed up in its shiny packaging, it glimmers and beckons me towards the many wonderful and creative uses to which it may be called. So many infinite possibilities, yet so finite are my time and my talent. I almost feel that I'm doing it a disservice by recording upon it.

Sunday, July 29, 2001

I have, at times, a distressing ability to understand the postmodern viewpoint -- though I reject it vehemently. I hope this comprehension is entirely due to my 20th-Century Continental Philosophy class and not just something I picked up on TV.
Ugh. It's too hot to blog :-)

Friday, July 27, 2001

Regardless whether or not you think paying 24 Cambodians 40-cents-an-hour for data entry is blatant exploitation or just employing them at a fair, competitive wage, and they should just be happy they have a darned job, this is the Harvard Crimson we're talking about here, long the champion of paying everyone, even student workers, a fair wage.
Here's more information on natural climate changes from JunkScience.com. That site also has an article making the point that with China, India, and Brazil (three leading polluters) excempt from these "global warming treaties," because they're "developing nations," the real impetus of such treaties is not to reduce the as-yet-unproven effects of global warming but to slow the United States' economy and manufacturing -- the United States is unusual in that we have environmental groups who would loudly hold us to the terms of the treaty, wheras other countries do not, and since there's really no penalty for not sticking to the terms of the treaty, the United States would really be the only nation in the world held to the treaty -- the rest of the world would be free to pollute as much as they wanted.
Oog. Okay, so there really isn't much possible good which can come of the 2008 Beijing games -- the only lasting effect will be the new stadiums built for the ongoing purpose of public executions.

Thursday, July 26, 2001

You can tell a lot about a person by who his enemies are. If you can be picked out seemingly at random from all the other people walking on the busy street, and verbally assaulted by two young, angry skinheads in a Chevy Truck for no apparent reason, then you must be doing something right.
Now, now, now. You know as well as I do that there's no hard evidence which suggests that global temperatures on a whole are increasing (well, I guess I should say that in the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures have increased significantly in the last four or five months). And even if hard evidence existed which suggested that global temperatures were increasing, there would be no evidence to link that to any human beings have done: the planet, as we know, has its own cycle of temperature change (ice ages, droughts, and the like). This is seldom reported.

Do you know who's actually signed the Kyoto Treaty? Romania. That's it. Last I checked, Britain hadn't signed it, Australia hadn't signed it, and Japan hadn't signed it. No one else wants to sign the treaty because for nations with any semblence of industry or an economy it's such a dumb idea. For nations without an economy, who just want to make a fast buck by suing the industrialized nations, it's a chance to make some money without having to own up to their own dreadful economic state. Even the Clinton administration recognized this and never sent the treaty to the Senate for ratification during the three-and-a-half-years he had been in office since the 1997 treaty was written up (in 1997 in a truly bi-partisan measure, the Senate voted 95-0 not to adopt the treaty should it ever be sent to them). This is seldom reported.

Of course if things like this were reported, it would probably signal that the end for the Environmental Industry -- and the billions of dollars they scare out of the American people each year with such doom-and-gloom (and utterly untrue) scenarios -- may be closer than they'd like it to be. There's big bucks (American dollars!) in manipulating peoples' fear. It's a cheap tactic, this sort of protection racket ("Give us your money, your internal-combustion engines, and your toilets or you'll be BOILED ALIVE!!!"), but evidently it works on the majority of people.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Big news at this hour, the second spider-lily stalk bloomed today. Pictures at 11. AM, that is, tomorrow morning. Good night!

Oh, to those of you who need to hear it, please don't worry about a thing. You're being watched-out-for by One who doesn't want anything bad to come to you. Just keep remembering that.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Spider Lily (taken early in the morning, which explains the lack of direct sunlight). Just visible in each picture is the second stalk of the plant, which hasn't bloomed yet.

Small resolution.
Larger resolution.

Monday, July 23, 2001

Two interesting things happened today. At least two interesting things. Number one: I'm now officially registered with the U.S. Library of Congress, Copyright Office, whatever. It did take eight months, they weren't joking about that. Number two: one of our spider lily blossoms bloomed today, quite unexpectedly. Tomorrow morning, when it's light out, before I go to work, if it's still there, time and weather permitting, I'll post some pictures of it, because it's really cool looking. Well, that's all I've got for tonight.
Another thing about electronic toys: they're just another thing to break. Broken things upset me. My MOJO CD/MP3 player, for example. It's perfectly functional for how I use it, but the line-out jack (which I don't use, but you know, might someday) is a little flaky and I don't get the right channel when a cable is plugged all the way in. I could open it up and replace the jack but would be risking the functionality I do have with it -- which, as I said, is all I need. But, still, it's not 100% in proper working order which I find offensive by some unknown neurosis. Sometimes I wish everything I owned was made out of wood and could be easily fixed with woodglue and toothpicks, but I know I could never actually live with that simplicity. I like the toys too much. Well, maybe when we get back from our road trip (for which I purchased the MOJO in the first place), I'll look into replacing that jack.

Sunday, July 22, 2001

This site is reallllly scary. The release of the movie version of Spiderman is still almost 10 months away and in their interview with Sam Raimi all they can talk about is a sequel, what would the sequel be about, etc.

It really is frightening the religious fervor with which these preview zealots look forward to these movies (holding screenings for a trailer?), even though the actual act of seeing the movie could never live up to all of the expectations and energy they've put into waiting for it.

I wish I could remember who it was who said that the problem when a person stops believing in God isn't that they believe in nothing, it's that they start believing in anything.

To a certain extent I can remember when I used to buy all the hype surrounding these movies (the last time I bought the hype, incidentally, was in 1994, when The Mask came out), and so that's why I feel a little sad when I realize just how empty, ephemeral, and meaningless getting caught up in this hype really is. Nowadays, I usually wait until the movie's out on DVD before seeing it, and I don't enjoy it any less (or any more) than had I not waited the four or five months since the theatrical release.

Anyways, this tendency to make a movie the center of your life, and your raison d'etre... it's consumerism of the worst kind.

Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that those who are most opposed to western 'materialism,' and consumerism are always those with the most toys?

And yes, to be perfectly fair, I suppose I need to include myself in that number... :)
Spain is in deep trouble. Their birth-rate of 1.2 children per woman is not sufficient to support their social welfare system and it's heading for collapse. The only solutions are to either have more children or to hope immigration increases by a factor of 10 (that is Spain must accept 10 times as many immigrants per year as it does currently). Another solution, of course, is to heavily encourage euthanasia for anyone over the unproductive age of, say, 65.

It's ironic that such "progressive," social policies (in this case social-welfare) always seem to assume another very traditional institution (in this case, large families). When the traditional institution collapses (as it has in this case) as a result of the progressive social policiy everyone seems amazed when the policy which depended on it then becomes threatened. It's not so much that you're punished for violating the natural order of things, it's that violating the natural order of things just doesn't work. Sure, you can get away with any dumb idea for a while (such as running your car without any oil in it) but ultimately it'll all come crashing down around you.

But who knew that Spain would eventually be begging the Moors to invade?
Well, here it is. Sunday morning. The stairway is half polyurethaned, and depending on how it looks it may not need a second coat. I recall that I had a Storm watch once, but the spring-pins which held the band to the watch fell out. It's still somewhere in a ziploc bag, waiting to be taken to the jewelers shop to be repaired. There's a place in town, here, Magic Bus (not a huge online presence, but a web search for it led me to this forgotten page -- these old pages are like time capsules, you know? Who was Kendra Meyer, and what was she doing at MSU? What did she go on to do, once she left?) which carries the entire line of Storm watches.

Sorry about the book.

Saturday, July 21, 2001

"The problem with people who feel chronically bored is that they themselves become unbearably boring. And the biggest drawback to the grotesque and fantastic diversions designed to rouse them from their stupor is that those entertainments become the most boring ordeals of them all."
-Michael Medved on Fear Factor.

Friday, July 20, 2001

If you have RealMedia player, 20 minutes to spare, and a moderately-fast cable modem you can check out The Road To Leamington, my latest home video opus. It's a story of family visits, rusted farm implements, and Belgian chocolate... lots of Belgian chocolate.
I know I haven't blogged at all today, but I've been busy. And now I'm a wee bit too tired to blog (driving around Ontario and eating Belgian chocolate can be quite demanding). The paper printed my letter to the editor, but reading it again it sounds really aloof. Ah, well.... The 2-hour Junkyard Wars Trans-Atlantic Challenge competition was really worthwhile and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed that. Well, I'll write more tomorrow. If you'd like to see a picture of my sister with a couple of horses (she's the one in the middle - har har har) here you go.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Oh, theologian Malcolm Muggerage said, "the greatest tragedy that can happen to anybody on earth is to become too much at home here!"
I am now priveledge to the secret knowledge: how many meringues are too many.

The answer is 18, +/- 6.
I'm feeling very much at peace with things at the moment. The notable exception is this spider bite on my shin which is quite itchy and irking me to no end.

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

It was mentioned that this should be blogged, speaking of living with a pregnant woman:

You're (as a pregnant woman) entitled to as much griping and crying as you feel like. Because at that point you're pregnant, and taking care of you is one of the small ways, I'm learning, that the husband prepares for the responsibility of raising a child.

So gripe away :)
Okay, here 'tis. I was thinking on my drive home about the real danger of political correctness, the new tone, or whatever you want to call our current Rules Of Discourse: ie. don't offend, don't rile people up (unless you're riling religious folk; if you're riling religious folk you're somehow viewed as courageous, nevermind that 95% of the population does it too), and don't judge. The real insidiousness of these rules of discourse is that presume that there's nothing worth offending, riling, or judging about. For, if there were something worth getting people worked up about, then it wouldn't be a rule of conversation not to do it. But since we're supposed to be all cozy and mum with whatever situation or type of behavior we find around us, well, then, there's probably nothing worth making a row about.

The fact is, of course, that there are things on the line which make getting into peoples' faces, if necessary, or offending their delicate "new tone," sensibilities the duty of a responsible human being. In the face of injustice or wrong-doing, if such things exist, you win no points by adopting a laissez-faire, except, perhaps more friends who tolerate you because you don't upset them. If you do believe in such things as justice and truth (with a capital-T if you prefer), I guess it comes down to which you value more: fighting for or just believing in what's right, or the company of folks with whom you relate only on a level of mutual blankness with regard to each others' rather tepid belief in "tolerance," (with a capital-T, if you tend to lean that way).

Whichever approach you ultimately wind up taking, you'd do well to remember always that there are souls at stake. Whether you choose to nourish your soul and others by sticking up for truth and justice or to nourish it by standing around at parties talking about the latest Kevin Spacey movie or some other equally ephemeral subject with your equally sophiticated and vacuous friends is really up to you.

(And if I seem a little harsh in any of this, it's only because I recognize in myself the tendency consistently to lean towards one of the above and shy away from the other, despite the fact that I know better).
Shoot! And I had something really profound to say, and I forgot what it was. It was either about stem cells or Sony Memory Stick media.

Monday, July 16, 2001

Another movie, this time in RealMedia format (so you'll need your real player). It's an intimate look into our crawlspace, The Lost Archives of The Crawlspace.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

This is a little awkward and disturbing.
I think what I may be missing is a group of people with whom I can discuss things without feeling like I have to tread on eggshells. I've not had such a thing for about three years, and I think it's finally catching up with me. How would I go about creating something like that?

Here's an article byAlex Jones, a former Pentecostal minister who after studying the Church Fathers came to conver to Catholicism, and by the grace of God, just this past year was able to convert over 60 of his Pentecostal parishoners as well.
This was said by a character in a cowboy sketch on Prairie Home Companion, and amused me:

"Good judgment only comes from experience, and all the really useful experience only comes from bad judgment."
I wonder if there's any such thing as a solipsism wherin you can invite along a few of your friends or loved ones. The thing most appealing about solipsism is that the self doesn't have to take into account (or take responsibility for) any other selves. In that respect it's very liberating (and a lot less tiring). It's also very limiting because the most precious joys we have in this life are the relationships we form. In that respect it'd be nice to just invite the people you love into your existence and leave everyone else out. But I don't suppose that's either very tenable or ethically respectable. Still, there are times I know I'd be happy enough to have just a few minutes without worrying about the rest of the world.

It's awfully hard to be your brother's keeper if he or she doesn't exist.
If you have concerns about the impending energy crises and how plans to increase our energy supply will affect the environment, this might be worth a read.

Saturday, July 14, 2001

Well, it's about time to watch a sceeeery program on TLC, called Scream Test. It's another one of those Blair Witch-inspired reality scary shows. Jackie loves these things. I like squirrels, myself. Here's a squirrel movie, but it's about 3.5MB.
Spent some time today, crawling around in the crawlspace. It's kind of nice down there. I also went all Ginzu with a hedge-trimmer, neatening up our shrubbery.

Friday, July 13, 2001

Okay, this is just adorable!
You know, on the other hand: in 2008 there are going to be just loads of journalists in Beijing. I don't think the Chinese Government quite realizes that it's not 1936 anymore: in this day and age journalists and cameras can and will go where they please. It's a pity we have to wait seven years, but this may just be the opportunity needed to awaken most people to the realities there.

In fact, if the games bring Taiwan and China closer together, and keep China from invading the tiny island republic (no, not Togo, for all of you SCTV fans out there -- Taiwan!)... what is it that Joseph (of coat of many colors fame) said?

But not everyone is overlooking the impact the games themselves will have on the average Beijing citizen, many of whom will be forced out of homes (and of course they're unable to afford new homes) to make way for the Olympic Stadiums.
Alright, then. The UN is just evil, evil, evil. And Canada... why should anyone in Canada care how many children people in Guatamala have?
Here's my second MPEG movie. Only seven seconds long and a healthy 1.65MB. I can make it smaller, but it looks really crummy if I do.
I really hope whomever is President in 2008 has the decency to boycott the Olympic Games. Of course, that's assuming there's still violent offences against God and man in China in 2008. Which itself assumes there's still a China in 2008 or, on the other hand, any countries or territories with whom to compete which aren't a part of China by 2008.

Thursday, July 12, 2001

My first mpeg movie.
The antenna on my Motorola PCS phone (which I bought about a year-and-a-half ago) had become the laughingstock of the NOC. It was wobbly and about ready to break off, despite my repeated attempts to secure it with scotch tape, then epoxy, then heat-shrink tubing. Finally, as a last act of desparation, we brought it to the Novi Sprint PCS store, off Haggerty Rd., just to see if they knew how to order a replacement for me, and how much it would cost. After standing around for a few minutes, I explained to the guy there what the problem was, and he took the phone to see if he could find the right part. About five minutes later, he came back, phone in hand, with a brand new antenna! I asked him how much I owed him and he said nothing. I thanked him and we left. That was it! No receipts, no warranty info, he just gave me a new antenna. I have always been satisfied with the service we get from Sprint PCS, and now I'm even more than satisfied -- I am pleased. ;)
*yawns and stretches* Once again, the dawn of a glorious new day, and the shades of the night have been slept away. The lawn's been watered and the contents of my .mp3 directory (on my website) completely gone (again). I think this is part of some sort of anti-piracy measure, so I'll need to email the system's administrator to please stop doing that.
There are times -- growing far too frequent -- when the rift which divides our culture becomes all too apparent. At those moments, when it becomes clear which side I'm on, what's at stake, and just what divides us...

Where to begin?

From a stricly empirical standpoint, I become somewhat taciturn.
From a psychological standpoint, I become aware of (and have to control) my natural, rather sardonic tendencies.
From an emotional standpoint I become a little sad because without shared beliefs it's very hard to relate and communicate with one another. (It's awkward too, because I have very few friends with shared beliefs with whom to relate. Interesting word 'relate:' without my family, without my wife, I'd be absolutely lost -- though not lost -- a disembodied self with a roadmap and no car).
From a physiological standpoint I become quite tired.

It is a rare self which can gaze at that rift and not become tired. I think a few Saints have accomplished this: to look into the void and without comprimising illuminate it and still find themselves completely energized.

Perhaps this is Grace.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

What is this supposed to mean: "[This] approach [is] at least as ethical as using spare frozen embryos,"? That's like saying that cheating on your wife by sleeping with a brunette is at least as ethical as cheating on your wife by sleeping with a blonde. And these are the sort of people to whom the scientific community turns to to make so-called "ethical," decisions? Give me a break.
Harrison Ford is at it again. Way to go!

This was fairly interesting. Basically individuals will not be bearing the sole cost of environmental "redistricting," -- they will be compensated for the lost value of their property. It's actually pretty cool!
This must be stopped.
What if Archimedes drove a '79 Lincoln Continental? "If you give me a lever large enough, I can move my Ford."

Um... okay. How 'bout:

Did you hear about the Backstreet Boys' latest tour? It's called the "Black and Blowin' 0.2" Tour.

Oh, all right. Than' kew!!! Good night!

Tuesday, July 10, 2001

In conversation today, I think I finally hit on what I find so offensive about the notion of "overpopulation," -- that the world is somehow becoming "overpopulated," (and it's always intended to mean with human beings. No one ever suggests that there are too many sharks or that we should start forced-sterilization of squirrels). The conversation turned towards areas of the world which are considered to be "overpopulated," including, appropriately enough, the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

And the roads of Ann Arbor is a good example. The problem isn't that there are too many people, or drivers, it's that the systems which sustain those drivers (and people, to round out the anaology) are the problem. If you had a complete idiot as a traffic-manager in a city, you'd have traffic problems and probably conclude, if you didn't know better, that the problem was that there were too many drivers. It's the same with "overpopulation." You look at India or Africa or wherever and say, "They're so poor and must be so completely miserable, that must be because there are too many of them," where the problem may (and often is) actually with the governments of those countries, exploiting the resources of the country rather than applying them justly and appropriately to the people.

My big aesthetical and moral problem with the usual "overpopulation," arguments is that they tend to lead down the road to genocide: "Well," so-called good-meaning people might think, "look at how poor and unadvanced and sad and dirty and miserable those Sudanese are! And they have no contraceptives! No wonder they are so poor -- there are too many of them!" And rather than think about how to help them and allow them to develop their nation and grow prosperous... what's their solution?

Keep them from reproducing and reduce their overall number.

It implies a denial of the overall problems which cause poverty and injustice.

And it implies racism at its most vicious.

So I guess you have to be honest about what you really mean when you say the world is becoming "overpopulated." Do you mean there are too many poor people in the world? Do you mean there are too many people in the world who don't look like you, who don't share your values or beliefs? When you say you don't want a large family because you don't want to contribute to "overpopulation," do you really mean that the idea of that much responsibility frightens you? Intellectual dishonesty when it leads to thinking you like a television program when it's really quite terrible is one thing. Intellectual dishonesty when it leads to forced sterizations, infanticide, and -- ultimately -- genocide is quite another.

Anyway, I promised I'd provide some links debunking the myth of overpopulation, and here they are:
  • Joseph L. Bast's "Ending the Myth of Overpopulation," explores the drastic economical and ecological consequences of attemps to curb population growth.
  • More scientific data from Dr. Jacqueline Kasun's The War Against Population. (Did you know that no more than 1-3% of the Earth's non-ice-covered land is populated by humans? And that the world's population could support itself, given current technology and providing the same standard of life, even if it were 8-22 times what it is now?)
  • The political economist's approach (I love those guys!), from a Washington Times article by Nicholas Eberstadt

And the list just goes on and on. It all suggests that the near-frenzied push to sterizile, contracept, and abort is not based in scientific fact, but is most definately ideologically motivated. That is to say it is racism, most foul.

Monday, July 09, 2001

Caught Dion DiMucci tonight on EWTN's Life On The Rock youth program. It's easy to characturize those people: both the old rock n' rollers and contemporary Christian musicians, but it's really not fair to do that in either case. Here's someone with a pretty remarkable life (he didn't get on the Big Bopper's plane because a ticket cost $36 -- the same amount as rent on his parents' Bronx apartment) and a fairly decent musician to boot. Anyway, I've learned not to prejudge someone just because they've been labelled or confined to a musical genre that is elsewise so unhip.

Sunday, July 08, 2001

Oh, all right. So I haven't blogged terribly much this weekend. We did put the dishwasher on another circuit, though, so it won't trip the circuit the refridgerator's on evertime the pump kicks on. Also I put up a birdfeeder. So all in all a very nice weekend.

Friday, July 06, 2001

The "Unbreakable," DVD set is almost worth the money for the feature on Comics, included on the 2nd DVD, alone. Interviews with Scott McLeod, Will Eisner, Alex Ross and a bunch of other comic book artists I didn't recognize (no Carl Barks). But now I really want to check out some of Trina Robbins' "Go Girl," comics, based on the strength of that featurette (they didn't even show scenes from the movie or anything like that, if you can believe it!).

Let me do a Google search and see what I can come up with.

Thursday, July 05, 2001

There's a lot to be encouraged about in the news today, believe it or not!
  • Archbishop Weakland's wreck-a-vation of the Milwaukee cathedral is not going uncontended by the vatican.

  • A petition is circulating to finally excommunicate pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

  • On a related note, it seems Americans' support for legal abortion is slipping.

  • And a courageous heart ("I do not fear anybody. I was sent here by the Pope to serve local people and I will not allow them to be disturbed,") beats still in Kenya, despite opposition from the ruling KANU party.

Wednesday, July 04, 2001

With my final remaining ounce of strength (hopefully for the day), I complete this blog:

I just caught a show on WFUM, the Flint Public Television station called "Teen Voice," (well, okay, I only watched the first 10 minutes) a sort of roundtable discussion group with teenagers. When it first came on (I was flipping through the channels) I thought, "okay, how much am I going to hate this, and what those dumb ol' teenagers have to say about things." Actually, though, the topic was reality-based television shows and the outlook these teenagers had on the individual shows in particular was infinitately more perceptive and smart than anything I'd heard on 'adult,' radio, in terms of commentary. On Temptation Island: "They only have people on that show who are looking to cheat, no one who's on the straight-and-narrow." On Jackass: "It's just idiots doing things no normal person would do, getting messed up." On Survivor (only one teen had seen part of one episode): "The dude was crazy burned." Kids today, teenagers, are incredibly smart (not as smart as I, though -- I've never seen any of those shows). Not necessarily cynical about the motives of those force-feeding them entertainment (cyncism belongs to Gen-X, our generation), but definately not as credulous as I remember we were. The cultural purging necessary after the self-indulgent, self-pitying excesses and irresponsibilities of the Baby-Boomers generation (think Bill Clinton) has begun at long last.
To my best approximation, "I have a headache," would be rendered, in Dutch, "Ich habben hooftpain." Or somesuch.

Well, happy Co-Dependence Day. Betcha never thought we'd long for the days of ol' George III when all they used to tax was stamps and tea. And paper. Who uses paper, stamps, or tea anymore?
Well, it's been said, it's time for bed.
I'll write more tomorrow, I promise.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

I think one of life's truisms is that if you feed enough of anything to a laboratory rat, it will eventually get cancer.
I rather enjoyed this: 10 Reasons to Have Another Child.
So it had to have been my third or fourth year of college when I realized that I didn't have the talent or the inclination to publish revolutionary works on epistemology like Dennett or Fodor. And it was probably two or three years after that when I realized that I probably wasn't ever going to be invited to the Vatican to present my latest book of Catholic Apologetics to the Pope. Something about complex, abstract thought -- you know, really thinking -- well, it's an awful lot of work.

Sunday, July 01, 2001

Well, if this weekend had a downside, I'd say it's that our only 100% Motown and R&B station, 105.1 The Groove has changed formats. It's now 105.1 "Magic," which means 20 years of lite-rock bubblegum. It was all just so sudden.

Oh, but I was playing around with the venerable SR-16 this evening, running it through the vocoder on the Nova and came up with this Jarre-esque piece: Jean-Michel's Lament (Netscape users know to right-click, save-as on that link). Look for it, and RealMedia versions of the song linked off my music page real soon. As for the song itself, it's sort of a retro electro-ambient new-agey tune. Put it on, dim the lights and just... zone out.
Eek! I just put Preen N' Green on a substantial portion of the side lawn thinking it'd help it (somehow) and then noticed it's not for lawns, so I hope it doesn't mistake the lawn for one big weed. We'll see, I guess.
Well, our 1st Anniversary is going well! We went to Church, then to Target where we got a steel and knife block for our new blades. Then we went to lunch at E.G. Nick's, and then over to Backyard Birds in Plymouth, your one-stop shop for expensive birdbaths and lawn ornaments (for those of you interested in smiling buddhas, they had a bunch, priced $81 to $373 -- but why not just get a St. Jude for $27, which they had on clearance).