Aloha, Lizard


One of the perks of working at home is that you can play a musical instrument for relaxation when you take a break. I am a very bad ukulele player, but playing relaxes me.

Unless a fucking lizard leaps up out of the sound hole, that is; then, it’s not relaxing at all but actually terrifying for the millisecond it takes to realize that the organic life form that has just hurled itself from the interior to the surface of the instrument you’re cradling isn’t something scary like a snake or tarantula but just a small lizard, but shit, now that you’ve bellowed like a ruptured cow in fright, the dogs are racing to see what’s wrong, and they’ll eat the poor lizard, so damn, you’ve got to find a way to expel the intruder before they notice it, so maybe if you just sprint to the door holding the uke straight out, the lizard will stay where it is until you get on the porch, but fuck no, of course it runs up the neck of the uke and jumps onto your torso as if you were a tree trunk, but goddamnit, at least now you’re outside, so you can attempt to shake it off as it runs from your shoulder to your boob to your side then onto your back, presumably, since you can’t see it anymore, so you just jump around on the front porch while flailing your limbs (still clutching the uke in one hand) and pray to jeebus that no one happens to drive by and see you having an apparent seizure while holding a ukulele.

Then it’s not relaxing at all. Especially when you get back inside and prop the instrument against the wall – your practice session now irretrievably interrupted – and the fucking lizard comes back out of the sound hole. Or perhaps that’s its mate or one of an entire colony of goddamn lizards who have taken up residence in your ukulele. Fuck.

146 replies
  1. 1
    FlyingToaster says:

    Google “ukelele case”, stat.

  2. 2
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    It is probably very little absolutely no comfort that I think they’re cute. (But I do.)

    I get why it would be startling, and I’m sorry to hear of your relaxation attempt gone wrong.

  3. 3
    WereBear says:

    I suggest you start playing punk rock and channel that adrenaline!

  4. 4
    cleek says:

    you are the Lizard Queen. you can do anything.

  5. 5
    Aji says:

    ROTFLMAO. Oh, sweet jesus, but I needed that laugh* this morning. Thanks, Betty!

    * And that’s a laugh in recognition and sympathy, because when you live in a place like we do, with as many animals as we have, there are waaaayyyy too many opportunities for such experiences. Also, too, Wings likes to give me shit. Just ask him about the dead mouse rotted banana peel sometime.

  6. 6
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I think lizards get a bad rap because we named them lizards. They are cute as the dickens and would prolly get a lot more love if they were called bunnies.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Take the ukelele outside (or hold it outside a window) and shake them out before commencing strumming.

    I am a very bad ukulele player

    Or maybe the doggies are placing the lizards in there on purpose to stop you playing.

  8. 8
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Won’t have that problem if you play the drums, but then Anne Laurie won’t respect you.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    They eat mosquitoes, so I love them. Have you ever seen them in a dominance fight? Seen it a couple times–it’s like mini-dinosaurs fighting. They try to get each other’s heads in their jaws. I’ve seen them draw blood. They’re so small but so fierce!

  10. 10
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Little lizard, small and green,
    Is the sweetest thing I’ve seen.
    Comes to visit almost daily — 
    Lives inside my ukulele.

  11. 11
    scav says:

    Work with it! A Uke Lizard-Marimba Zumba routine!

  12. 12
    MattF says:

    Sounds like a case of Cole-itis. Although you haven’t broken anything. Yet.

  13. 13
    Violet says:

    @MattF: Crap! Is Cole-itis catching via Balloon-Juice?

  14. 14
    SectarianSofa says:

    Lizard plague? Did you not endorse Chris Christie?

  15. 15
    srv says:

    There are no lizards in my djembe.

  16. 16
    Botsplainer says:

    My middle daughter is multi instrumental, and loves her uke. While traveling through Wales last summer, she actually made over 100 pounds with a cup and a ukelele, playing a total 4 hours.

  17. 17
    Rosalita says:

    I supposed you could have done a Roger Daltrey-esque instrument smashing thing… might have been more cool than the jig on the front porch but then you’d be out a ukulele…

  18. 18
    Mnemosyne says:

    I can lend you Charlotte and Annie. They hunt bugs in tandem like they’re a couple of tiny lionesses — it’s a little unnerving, actually.

  19. 19
    MattF says:

    @Violet: The experiment is in progress.

  20. 20
    scav says:

    @srv: But the armadillo has left the Charango. Lazarus is go.

  21. 21
    jrg says:

    “I was right in the middle of a fucking reptile zoo, and somebody was giving booze to these goddamn things. Won’t be long now before they tear us to shreds.”

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne: So the problem is not an overabundance of lizards but a deficit of cats.

  24. 24
    jayboat says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I think lizards get a bad rap because we named them lizards. They are cute as the dickens and would prolly get a lot more love if they were called bunnies.

    Gecko, Salamander… repeat after me.
    Yes, they eat bugs. He was probly hiding there to escape the chickens.
    And they will harmlessly jump into your cupped hands so you can replace them to the nearest green plant.

  25. 25
    Rosalita says:

    So the problem is not an overabundance of lizards but a deficit of cats.

    not necessarily, part of the problem is that cats get a hold of the lizard tail, which breaks off, and the lizard gets away.

  26. 26
    cmorenc says:

    Getting stoned again in the a.m. eh, Betty? Must be some pretty good shit. Lizards in the ukelele when you try to play it? Just be thankful you’re not into piano, or those would be piano piranhas swimming out of it on each note. Guessing that’s a really good sativa you got there, eh?

  27. 27
    John Weiss says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I like ’em too, no only for the reason that if they were large enough, one would be dinner.

  28. 28
    West of the Cascades says:

    Another occupational hazard of living in Florida …

  29. 29
    scav says:

    @Violet: But as the speed removal was triggered by advancing dogs, the locals would seem to be acceptable cat standins, although their napping obligations clearly interfered with their vigilance duties.

  30. 30
    Citizen_X says:

    It’s Florida. You’re lucky you don’t have coral snakes coming out of the shower drain.

  31. 31
    Dead Ernest (Thought Wrangler) says:

    You are a delight.
    A treasure.

    I dropped into comments to simply say that. But then…


    Little lizard, small and green,
    Is the sweetest thing I’ve seen.
    Comes to visit almost daily –
    Lives inside my ukulele.


    I’m certain that the two of you, working on a collaborative endeavor; a book? a movie? – would not just be sublime, but redemptive. I believe you two could save the world.
    …or at least write a kick-ass Young Adult novel. 👯

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    @John Weiss: “Cooking with Lizards”

  33. 33
    gogol's wife says:

    Your adventures are hilarious, much more colorful than Cole’s. This reminds me of the lame but entertaining British mystery show Death in Paradise, where the uptight but brilliant detective who’s been transferred to a Caribbean isle has a beautiful green lizard in his house who kind of helps him solve mysteries. Or not.

    Open thread, so: has Odie Hugh Manatee been around lately? It seems to me as if he hasn’t.

  34. 34
    Amir Khalidthe m says:

    Smashing musical instruments is more of a Pete Townshend thing. All Roger has is his microphone.

  35. 35
    burnspbesq says:

    Meanwhile, the nine lizards that work at 1 First St., N.E. have declined to review a Ninth Circuit decision that struck down Arizona’s ban on all abortions after 20 weeks.

    It’s dangerous to read too much into denials of cert, but this is good news.

  36. 36
  37. 37
    Violet says:

    @gogol’s wife: You’re right. I was thinking of him just the other day. Last comment I found from him was on September 12. Hope he’s okay. Didn’t he have some health issues a few years ago? Or am I mis-remembering?

  38. 38
    brantl says:

    I came close to spaynig the screen.

  39. 39
    pamelabrown53 says:

    Love your posts, Betty. As a Floridian, I can attest to the eponymous lizard.
    BTW, when I clicked on your post, I was subjected to a loud commercial by Fresh Step kitty litter.

  40. 40
    Amir Khalid says:

    Smashing musical instruments is a Pete Townshend thing. All Roger has is his microphone.

  41. 41

    Fournier on the twatters:

    Did Christie clear a lane for a Donald Trump run for the White House?

  42. 42
    Librarian says:

    having an apparent seizure while holding a ukulele.

    I think that’s how Arthur Godfrey died.

  43. 43
    beltane says:

    @ranchandsyrup: Great idea, Fournier. A Donald Trump presidential campaign would provide concrete proof of the FSM’s love for the earth and all its creatures.

    Next we will hear how Clint Eastwood’s chair is a leading contender for the GOP nomination.

  44. 44

    @beltane: I’m sure that Trump would fulfill Fournier’s LEADER-erection as he would calmly and thoughtfully convince Democrats in Congress to sign on to his crazy ideas.

  45. 45
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    It used to take sleep deprivation, an extended road trip, personally having ingested enough substances to stun six roadies plus it being at least 4 am before I ever saw lizards crawling out of my guitar.

    In broad daylight and sober — I have to say I’m impressed.

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:


    There are no lizards in my djembe.

    My hovercraft is full of eels.

  47. 47
    MattF says:

    @ranchandsyrup: And now, if anyone ever takes Fournier seriously, you can point and laugh.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    cckids says:


    not necessarily, part of the problem is that cats get a hold of the lizard tail, which breaks off, and the lizard gets away.

    Not always. When my cats were younger & more into hunting, oh, the lizards they caught! It was unnerving to someone who’d never had a pet before.

    I feel your pain, Betty. Last fall, while transplanting some mums, I was digging in a flowerpot, turned away for a second, turned back & a four-inch long scorpion was crawling out of the pot. WHERE I’D JUST HAD MY HANDS.

    BTW, screaming “HOLY SHIT” at the top of your lungs does not endear you to the new neighbors, who were out with their small children.

  50. 50

    @MattF: I wish I could rent Nelson Muntz to follow Fournier around to do just that.

  51. 51
    👾 Martin says:

    Florida is all about things leaping out unexpectedly. Cockroaches, crocodiles, lizards, black kids with skittles, your kid. You guys need to come to consensus on the appropriate response to being lept out upon – either shoot it or chill. Flailing around on the porch would be an acceptable middle ground.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    cckids says:


    You’re lucky you don’t have coral snakes coming out of the shower drain.

    Ok, seriously? Ew.

    Reminder to self: never visit Florida.

  54. 54
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @👾 Martin:

    Florida is all about things leaping out unexpectedly.

    e.g. the Presidency of George W Bush.

  55. 55
    StringOnAStick says:

    Speaking of missing commenters, has anyone seen The Bobs lately? He mentioned he was suffering from cancer and that he’d probably read more than comment anymore. If you’re out there, The Bobs, I’m saying hello and I’ve been thinking about you.

  56. 56
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Smashing musical instruments is a Pete Townshend thing.

    Also, too, Paul Simonon.

  57. 57
    slippytoad says:

    This is not a ukelele problem. I have many guitar-shaped instruments and I’ve never had to chase a lizard out of any of them.

    However, I have had a spider crawl into the 2x Barlow lens of my telescope, make some kind of cocoon, and then die leaving a mush of organic goo inside my $200 eyepiece.

    So, it’s more a “you live somewhere where the wildlife is wild” problem, I think. Don’t let it stop you.

  58. 58
    👾 Martin says:

    @Roger Moore: My nipples explode with delight!

  59. 59
    StringOnAStick says:

    Plus, I love playing my ukulele. It’s a refreshing break from the finger-killing stress of my mandolin, and a ukulele is just such a happy, chill instrument. Good choice, Betty.

  60. 60
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Ah, central Florida. How I love it.

    Just like the mid-Atlantic where I’ve spent most of my life, it’s got ants and roaches and fleas and so forth, but unlike the mid-Atlantic, it’s got little lizards running around everywhere, and the occasional alligator.

  61. 61
    CaseyL says:

    That was either the first lizard’s buddy, or the lizard reacted to the commotion by returning to what had been a safe, quiet space. Small reptiles like small, dark places to hide.

    At least anoles (the proper name for Florida’s “chameleons”) don’t scream when they leap onto you.

    Many years ago, a curator at Miami’s zoo gave a talk about his adventures with animals. One anecdote was about the time he opened a kitchen cabinet in search of a late night snack, and a gecko – emitting a little reptilian shriek – jumped out of it onto his head. He was… startled. To say the least.

  62. 62
    👾 Martin says:


    Reminder to self: never visit Florida.

    You just now figured that out? The shooting random people for sport wasn’t enough?

  63. 63
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @slippytoad: I once picked up a recorder to play it and had an earwig crawl into my mouth.

  64. 64
    👾 Martin says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    e.g. the Presidency of George W Bush.

    Excellent example.

  65. 65
    geg6 says:

    Just one of the many reasons I could never, ever live in Florida. Freakin’ lizards. On the boob. Ugh.

  66. 66
    Violet says:

    Moar gunz!

    The Transportation Security Administration found 1,828 guns among travelers preparing to board planes in 2013, a 20% increase from the year before, according to an academic study.

    The number of detections at airport checkpoints continues to rise from 1,123 in 2010 to 1,320 in 2011 to 1,525 last year, according to the tabulation of TSA data by Northwestern University’s Medill National Security Journalism Initiative. About five guns are found every day nationwide.

    About 84% of the weapons found were loaded and one in three had a bullet in the chamber ready to fire, according to the study. The most popular weapons found were .380-caliber and 9 mm handguns.

    Are they finding more guns because there are more guns, or because the TSA is getting better at finding them?

  67. 67
    Violet says:

    @geg6: There are far worse things one could have on one’s boob. Chris Christie, for instance.

  68. 68
    geg6 says:


    No way the FSM loves me that much. No way.

    Oh please, please, please, pretty please!

  69. 69
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I would have paid to see Betty yelling “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherbleeping lizards on this motherbleeping ukulele!”

  70. 70
    geg6 says:


    Oh, for heaven’s sake! Now you’ve done it. Just the thought of that has my boob trying to hide in my armpit.

  71. 71
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Violet: And memories of 9/11 and the immediate reaction to that are fading, perhaps?

  72. 72
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I have it on good authority that cats keep the anoles at bay.

    Cats also have a thing for palmetto bugs. I don’t really find them that freaky, anyhoo. They aren’t terribly fond of human environments. And they don’t move as quick as German or Asian roaches.

    (Ya, we had some freaky Asian roaches at work. They eat paper. And they fly. And the spray for them is noxious.)

  73. 73
    The Other Chuck says:

    I think “My ukulele is full of lizards” just replaced “My hovercraft is full of eels” as my favorite phrase.

  74. 74
    Gravenstone says:

    @beltane: According to the infallibles from NoiseMax a couple OF days ago, Trump the Con Artist has is eyes on the NY Governorship at present. Well, on the wallets of the gullible who might toss some coin his way, should he enter the fray that is.

  75. 75
    Violet says:

    @Another Holocene Human: If people had been allowed to bring guns on board planes, 9/11 never would have happened. /wingnut

    I wonder what the age, gender and racial breakdown is for the people they caught trying to bring guns on planes. My guess: mostly male, mostly white, mostly middle-aged.

  76. 76
    Antonius says:

    Get a case.

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    A gun really shouldn’t be that hard to find, given the technology that has been used for over a decade now. I’d bet more guns.
    I did once set my bag on the conveyer, it went through xray and when I went to pick it up there was a 9mm sitting in the handle. I got about 2-3 inches from it before I saw it and withdrew my hand. I asked the assholes WTF? They said it was a test of the xray. I asked what if I hadn’t seen the gun and had actually grabbed it? Would I have been shot? They thought me calling them assholes was funny.

  78. 78
    rikyrah says:

    Wealthy divorced donor helped write controversial child-support bill
    January 11, 2014 10:30 am
    Wisconsin State Journal

    A controversial bill that would allow high-income parents to avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in child support was written with the help of a wealthy donor to the bill’s author, Rep. Joel Kleefisch.

    The Oconomowoc Republican acknowledged Friday that Michael Eisenga, a multimillionaire business owner, and his attorney helped write the bill, which could pave the way for Eisenga to force the court to reopen his divorce settlement.

    The lawmaker insisted in an interview that the measure, Assembly Bill 540, would not affect Eisenga’s case.

    “I’m certain the bill would not affect Mr. Eisenga in any way because it’s not retroactive,” Kleefisch said. “He wanted it retroactive. It’s not retroactive.”

  79. 79
    Violet says:

    @Ruckus: Seriously? They used a real passenger’s bag to “test” the scanners’ ability to see guns? Without permission? WTF? That’s wrong on so many levels. Seems like they could easily find ways to test the system without involving passengers without their knowledge and consent. What recourse would you have had if they claimed it was your gun?

  80. 80
    rikyrah says:

    Taking ‘worship of self to a whole new level’
    01/13/14 12:49 PM—Updated 01/13/14 01:15 PM
    By Steve Benen

    There are meaningful, substantive questions about Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) bridge scandal that will offer the public salient information about alleged corruption and abuses of power. But if you’ll indulge a brief departure from what actually matters in this story, there’s another angle that’s generating some attention: what we’re learning about Christie himself.

    At last week’s lengthy press conference, there was a moment that stood out for offering a peek into the governor’s personality. Christie was knocking down reports that his friendship with David Wildstein dates back to their high school days. The governor said he and Wildstein had different pursuits at the time, but note how he said it:

    “We didn’t travel in the same circles in high school. You know, I was the class president and athlete. I don’t know what David was doing during that period of time.”

    For Christie, it wasn’t enough to distance himself from the man who served as his eyes and ears at the Port Authority; the governor also felt the need to mention his high-school stardom.

  81. 81
    rikyrah says:

    High court tackles recess appointments

    01/13/14 10:12 AM
    By Steve Benen

    People wait outside the Supreme Court in anticipation of key decisions being announced, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2013. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
    Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP

    People wait outside the Supreme Court in anticipation of key decisions being announced, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 17, 2013.
    The big case before the U.S. Supreme Court may seem a little dry for anyone who isn’t a political science major, but it’s an important one when it comes to separation of powers and the ruling will have a significant impact.

    The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Monday in a case with potentially dramatic long-term implications for the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.

    The legal question is whether the president may temporarily appoint people to staff executive branch agencies when Congress is not conducting business but also not technically in recess – known as pro forma sessions.

    For those who’ve forgotten about the case, let’s revisit our coverage from May.

    The Constitution extends some fairly specific powers to the nation’s president, including the ability to make recess appointments. In practice, however, using this power is rather tricky.

  82. 82
    Thoughtcrime says:

    Has anyone mentioned yet that one of our best reps has announced his upcoming retirement?

    Huge shoes to fill:


  83. 83
    Violet says:

    Love this:

    Leaders of the New Jersey Assembly announced Monday they were establishing a special investigatory committee that will be solely focused on the questions surrounding lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September.

    “As the evidence in the case has unfolded, it’s become clear the questions that need answering here are no longer just transportation questions,” Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto (D) said in a statement announcing the formation of the committee.

  84. 84
    Roger Moore says:

    The best guess is that it’s actually a test of the operator, not of the equipment. One of the big worries with screenings is that the operators will get bored and careless after watching bags for hours, so they occasionally challenge them with a real gun. From what Ruckus said, they put the gun outside his bag (on the handle), which would make it easy to retrieve without opening his bag and make it clear that he didn’t put the gun there. I’m a lot more worried about the incidents I’ve read about where they did tests by putting explosives into people’s luggage and then lost them.

  85. 85
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, my favorite ukulele cover of “Hey Ya” from a talented young Irish musician named Orla Gartland.

    (I think she was about 15 when she made the video, so some of the lyrics may be the radio-friendly version.)

  86. 86
    rikyrah says:

    Chris Christie’ other lingering controversy
    01/13/14 10:40 AM
    By Steve Benen

    New Jersey’s state Assembly is already investigating Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) bridge scandal. Making matters slightly worse for the Republican governor, the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Jersey is prepared to open an inquiry to see whether any federal laws were broken. What else can go wrong for Christie?

    As it turns out, an entirely different controversy can draw the scrutiny of federal investigators.

    Federal investigators have some questions for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his staff – and it’s not over the revenge traffic scandal that dominated last week’s headlines.

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspector general will investigate whether the governor’s office improperly used federal aid money after superstorm Sandy for political gain, NBC News has confirmed

    After the storm devastated parts of New Jersey in 2012, the state launched a public-relations campaign to encourage tourism, using taxpayer-financed, post-Sandy emergency funds. In all, the Christie administration spent $25 million on the ads.

    But several agencies competed for the p.r. contract, and the Christie administration chose the firm that wanted to put the governor and his family in the commercials, which aired during Christie’s re-election campaign. Indeed, there were other firms that submitted significantly lower bids, which were passed over. Those firms did not intend to include the governor’s family in the televised commercials.

    “This time, he’s outdone himself,” the Star-Ledger editorialized in August when the ads began airing. “This time, he siphoned off money that was intended for victims of Sandy to promote himself in a series of TV ads. That is a new low, one that should play prominently in his campaign for re-election.”

  87. 87
    Gretchen says:

    Thanks for the laugh. I can say that as someone who is in a safely frozen place right now.

  88. 88
    rikyrah says:

    When federalism meets Cantor’s voucher push
    01/13/14 11:13 AM
    By Steve Benen

    Last year, the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” was light on policy prescriptions, but one measure was mentioned repeatedly: “school choice.”

    In reality, Americans can already choose to send their kids to private schools if they want to, but that’s not what Republicans are referring to. Rather, “school choice” is a poll-tested euphemism for private school vouchers. It’s an idea that dates back to the days of Brown v. Board of Education – after the ruling, vouchers were touted as a way to help white kids flee segregated schools – but in recent years, Republicans have touted vouchers as a way to privatize education, undermine teachers’ unions, and give the appearance of compassion towards low-income families.

    But now that some GOP leaders are talking up their approach to combatting poverty, using public funds to pay private-school tuition is generating a new round of attention. This was especially true last week when many prominent Republicans presented a war on the war on poverty.

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor vowed Wednesday to protect and promote school choice programs and attacked Democratic politicians, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for seeking to block the growth of charter schools and voucher programs. […]

    “Right now, school choice is under attack,” Cantor said. “It is up to us in this room and our allies across the nation to work for and fight for the families and students who will suffer the consequences if school choice is taken away.”

    There are quite a few problems with this. For one thing, “school choice” is a misleading label for vouchers. For another, there’s very little evidence to suggest vouchers are helping children in a measurable way. And finally, if vouchers are “under attack,” it’s probably because they’re not popular and struggle to withstand court scrutiny

    But of particular interest was Cantor’s criticism of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who intends to charge wealthiest charter schools, many of which receive public education funds on top of private donations.

    As Laura Clawson noted, the House Majority Leader wants Congress to intervene.

  89. 89
    👾 Martin says:

    @Ruckus: Finding them isn’t hard. The problem is that filtering out false positives (basically, anything metal) is damn difficult to do quickly. If passengers could be subject to a 5 minute inspection, then easy – nothing would get through. This is part of the rationale for why security inspections should be done at the gate and not at the entrance where they’re done now. There’s time at the gate, but not when people are rushing wondering if they’ll make their plane/not get bumped.

  90. 90
    Ed Drone says:

    All this talk about lizards — meh! What kind of uke is that? It looks “older,” and the label isn’t a familiar one. It looks like a concert or tenor uke, too, and not a soprano.

    So, what do you play? I have a modern one (Kamaka, maybe? I can’t recall) but my joy is the late ’20s Weymann soprano that looks exactly like a Martin style 0 and has tone and volume to spare. I love it.


  91. 91
    Violet says:

    It’s this kind of bravery that is a hallmark of Democrats:

    Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who finds herself in a tough race for re-election this year, will not attend a speech President Barack Obama is delivering in her home state on Wednesday.

    A spokesman for Hagan confirmed to CNN on Monday that because the “Senate is in session on Wednesday,” the Democratic senator will not attend Obama’s event on the economy in Raleigh, North Carolina.

    Wouldn’t want to be seen with the blah man.

  92. 92
    Karen in GA says:

    Since everyone probably stopped talking about the uke ages ago, I’m going to talk about it. Because I’m late that way.

    I have a Kala KA-CEM. At first it was okay to pick up every now and then, but after a while I found I was playing it every day, sometimes two or three times. But I just wasn’t getting the same rush I used to get from it.

    So I got a banjo.

    Ukulele: the gateway drug.

  93. 93
    rikyrah says:

    Lawmaker Sent Early Letter To Christie Alerting Him On Closures (READ)
    HUNTER WALKER – JANUARY 13, 2014, 1:11 PM EST

    New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) provided a letter to TPM on Monday showing that she attempted to alert Gov. Chris Christie (R) about lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, just six days after the lanes reopened.

    The letter gets to the heart of one of the major unanswered questions in a scandal that has erupted from the closures: what did Christie know and when did he know it?

    The lanes were closed on Sept. 9 and re-opened again on early on the morning of Sept. 13. Weinberg, whose district includes part of Fort Lee, N.J., which saw days of traffic gridlock because of the closures, wrote the letter on Sept. 19.

    The letter was addressed to William Pat Schuber, a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the bridge, expressing her dismay about the lane closures. She also copied Christie on it.

    “I am at a loss for words regarding the Authority’s sudden change in the traffic flow pattern to the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee. Reducing the number of lanes during peak traffic times has caused a significant hardship for many in the area. This decision, made with no public comment, has created significant congestion in Bergen County,” Weinberg wrote.

  94. 94
    Trollhattan says:

    Uke lizards were minding their own bidnez, playing canasta with the palmetto bugs. I suggest putting a web cam inside to watch the action.

  95. 95
    Trollhattan says:

    @Karen in GA:

    Quoting a favorite bumper sticker:
    “Use an accordian
    Go to jail.”

    You’ve been warned–the path to evil is steep and relentless.

  96. 96
  97. 97
    scav says:

    @Karen in GA: Ahhhh, well if we’re adding the Banjo to the Ukulele, shaking violently to rattle the lizards, we might just end up with George Formby

  98. 98
    raven says:

    I am trying the dictation function on the Mac to see how it works.

    eta wow pretty good!

  99. 99
    Karen in GA says:

    @Trollhattan: No accordion. I’ve kind of got my eye on fiddle. The only thing stopping me is that I know how impatient I am. From what I understand, it takes forever to get good enough to get a decent sound out of it — never mind actually learning any tunes. I’d probably give up on it before I get a decent note out of it.

    Ask me again in a year, though.

    @scav: I considered the banjolele for about 10 minutes, but then decided to skip it and go straight for the hard stuff.

  100. 100
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @raven: I’m using the handwriting recognition on my Note quite a bit.

  101. 101
    Violet says:

    @raven: The voice recognition software on my phone works well. And then I got a cold. So frustrating! It would completely misunderstand me and even if I repeated things slowly I’d get crazy word substitutions.

  102. 102
    beltane says:

    I remember my grandmother opening up the umbrella of her patio table and seeing dozens of those little lizards running out. Many times, I would open the umbrella on my own hoping to see this wonder repeat itself but it seems it was a one-time deal. As a kid, those miniature dinosaurs are what I liked best about Florida along with the little tree frogs. The palmetto bugs, on the other hand, were the stuff of nightmares. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over seeing one of them crawl out from the crotch of my cousin’s bathing suit.

  103. 103
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Ed Drone: It’s a fairly inexpensive tenor Kala. I’ve had it for several years. I was playing “Stairway to Heaven” when the lizard made its appearance. DENIED!

    @Karen in GA: My daughter and I picked up a fiddle dirt cheap at a yard sale, and when we took it to a music store in town to get it strung, we found out it was worth exponentially more than we paid for it. My kiddo wants to learn, but I’m having a helluva time finding someone out here in the sticks to teach her.

  104. 104
    Botsplainer says:

    I posted this to Facebook about that shafted skater. I’m still pissed.

    Stupid human interest programming ruins the games every time, and this time, the USOC got neck deep in it. Just show us the competition, please, and skip the longrunning drama. Tell us a little something about the athletes, domestic AND foreign as the games develop – you know, by doing real, onsite sports journalism. I don’t care about the background pieces set to music about the parents, grandparents, little sisters, dogs, cats, hamsters or school grades (which consumes about 75% of all Olympic programming which could be devoted to otherwise cool stuff, like competition). I realize that I’m asking something horrible – like actually paying people to do real stuff instead of cheaply producing an extension of reality TV bullshit, but look to how the BBC does Olympic games for an example of doing it right.

  105. 105
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Dead Ernest (Thought Wrangler):
    @Karen in GA:

    Thank you all, most kindly.

    ::blushes, casts eyes downward, scuffles toe in dirt::

  106. 106
    raven says:

    @Violet: how to talk to your Mac. I’m really amazed how this works, it will even spell colloquialisms!

  107. 107

    When you say aloha to the lizard, are you saying hello or goodbye?

  108. 108
    Betty Cracker says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Might have to steal that (with attribution).

  109. 109
    gogol's wife says:


    This has been reported in the Times for ages. I guess nobody cared before.

  110. 110
    Violet says:

    From the link:

    You don’t need to train it with your voice, and while it does get better over time as it learns your voice, it’s not like many mobile assistants that need hours of input before they work effectively.

    I think this is where the problem came in. I use it all the time for texting in situations where I need to reply quickly or I don’t have both hands available or whatever. It usually works pretty well. But when I got a cold I guess my voice sounded different enough that it really threw it off. It was kind of funny. I didn’t think I sounded that congested but to the voice recognition software I guess I sounded really different.

  111. 111
    Skerry says:

    Another shooting in Florida today. Two shot, one dead. Evidently about texting in a theater.

  112. 112
    danielx says:

    Dear Betty:

    Don’t ever change. We like you just the way you are.

    BJ Commentariat

  113. 113
    Roger Moore says:


    Evidently about texting in a theater.

    If the texter is the one who wound up dead, it will be ruled a justifiable homicide.

  114. 114

    @Roger Moore: Of course the movie that was playing was Lone Survivor.

  115. 115
    low-tech cyclist says:


    It’s this kind of bravery that is a hallmark of Democrats:

    Truth in labeling would demand that they change their mascot from the donkey to a scared rabbit.

  116. 116
    jayboat says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The best guess is that it’s actually a test of the operator, not of the equipment. One of the big worries with screenings is that the operators will get bored and careless after watching bags for hours, so they occasionally challenge them with a real gun. From what Ruckus said, they put the gun outside his bag (on the handle), which would make it easy to retrieve without opening his bag and make it clear that he didn’t put the gun there. I’m a lot more worried about the incidents I’ve read about where they did tests by putting explosives into people’s luggage and then lost them.

    Once last year, while in the xray line (exit side), I tried to make small talk with the operator and asked if his dreams were in x-ray. He waved me to lean over the roller track and have a look. I was fairly surprised to see the monitor in color. He told me they only worked it for 10-15 minutes at a time- it was too fatiguing to go longer.

    As one who spends many hours glued to a monitor while processing images, I can relate.

  117. 117
    Gravenstone says:

    @rikyrah: That would be Joel Kleefisch, husband of the WI Lt. Governor Rebecca. Nice family, that one.


  118. 118
    Tommy says:

    @raven: Just to hop into your thread. I tried 3-4 different voice assistants with my Andriod phone. They were all kind of hit or miss. Some seemed to do this well. Others something else well. All in all they were flat out stunning how well they worked. But removed them all, outside of what I can do with the built in Google/Android stuff, just cause I find it strange to “talk” to my phone.

  119. 119
    👾 Martin says:

    @Skerry: That text must have leaped out at some unsuspecting moviegoer.

  120. 120
    StringOnAStick says:

    One of the nice things about ukuleles is that they don’t have to be expensive to be at least a reasonable instrument to play. Even the cases are cheap; you can easily get a super tough, nylon hardside zip-up model by UkeCrazy for $65.

    Things like guitars, or worse, mandolins, well, you need to spend a bit to get something comfortable to play, especially acoustic guitars. Mandolins are worse because they are more like an orchestral instrument and they aren’t that hot an item anymore, so not as many are made. Ah well, it all comes down to what floats your instrumental boat.

  121. 121
    Tommy says:

    @Skerry: I just don’t know what to say. I like to note that when I was much younger I had a terrible temper. I found that I was too small of a man to have said temper and learned to control it. Maybe over control it. It takes so much to piss me off I can’t put it to words.

    Sure I still get easily frustrated, like somebody texting in a movie theater and a few thousands other things, but I got it under control. I just “grin and bear it.”

    Maybe pot being legalized. Time out boxes in places could be an idea. Heck a little Zen meditation (works for me) is what this nation needs, cause if you get in a fist fight, much less get out a gun a pull the trigger cause somebody is texting in a movie, dude got issues.

  122. 122
    👾 Martin says:


    But when I got a cold I guess my voice sounded different enough that it really threw it off. It was kind of funny. I didn’t think I sounded that congested but to the voice recognition software I guess I sounded really different.

    It works the way that a lot of face recognition does – by setting up standard profiles against a statistically large number of voices. After a little bit of using it, it assigns you to one of those profiles. So Texans might be one profile and Boston another profile and Scots in another profile (or more likely several of their own). That gets you about 80% of the way there, and then the software does the heavy lift at the end. That’s also how it picks up local colloquialisms, by placing you in a local geographic context.

    So when you have a cold, you no longer match your profile as well as you normally do. The reason they don’t need to be ‘trained’ is that unlike previous voice recognition that was all local, this is all network connected, so the software constantly trains on everyone using it. You don’t need to do all the work yourself.

    And as more people use it, the software has gotten much better. And as they roll it out to more countries, it’s gotten much better in other languages.

  123. 123
    raven says:

    @Tommy: Yea, I’m anticipating being in a sling for a month or more so I’m checking this stuff out. I like the way it works in text fields online and in Word.

  124. 124
    Paul in KY says:

    I really wish I had seen that. Excellent recapping, Betty!

  125. 125
    Paul in KY says:

    @Violet: Saw them going at it while I was soaking in a pool one evening on Anna Maria island. Really cool.

  126. 126
    Karen in GA says:

    @Skerry: I feel conflicted.

  127. 127
    Jay S says:

    Now I’ve got “Ukulele Lady” stuck in my head.

  128. 128
    Roger Moore says:

    I don’t know if they do it that way, but it would be possible to do X-rays at different energies and then superimpose the images in false color to give an idea of what things are made of. You’d use some relatively low energy X-rays that would show just about any commonly used metal, some higher energy ones that would pass through magnesium or aluminum but not titanium or iron, and then some higher energy ones that would go through iron but not copper. That would let you see if somebody was trying to hide something made of steel, like a knife or gun, in amongst something relatively innocuous like a tangle of charger cables.

  129. 129
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @raven: You’ll be keyboarding way sooner than you think. Try it beforehand, just bind the upper arm to your torso as a test. You should have reasonably normal movement from the elbow down, so just lay the keyboard down at an angle that’s comfortable for the hand on the surgery side, and you’ll adapt on the other side.

  130. 130
    Roger Moore says:

    @Karen in GA:

    I feel conflicted.

    Wait until you hear the whole story. Maybe it will turn out that the shooter was the person who was asked to stop texting in the middle of a movie and decided to defend his right to be an asshole with lethal force. Then you could feel extra justified in throwing the book at him.

  131. 131
    Tommy says:

    @raven: The Dragon personal assistant worked the best for me. If you are up at like 3 AM (as I am) Dargon run ads all the time for their speech software for desktops. It is supposed to learn with you. As you might guess they have an app for tablets and smartphones.

    That said it wanted to be like Siri (the Andriod app). An assistant. I didn’t want that.

    You might look at SwiftKey if you have an Android device and only “one good arm/hand.” A keyboard app. I have small hands and can’t thumb type on my tablet. This has many options, including single hand typing that are amazing. When I want to “thumb type” on my tablet it splits the keyboard to the left and right of the screen so that is possible.

    And the autocorrect, it kind of actually works. Best like $4.99 I’ve spent on my tablet/phone.

  132. 132
    Karen in GA says:

    @StringOnAStick: Hell, I got a hardshell uke case from Musician’s Friend on sale for $25 a few months ago.

    I got a Makala dolphin bridge soprano uke for about $50 from Uke Republic, with Aquila strings and a decent setup. Extremely playable. I have it in red. I just Googled it because I forgot the manufacturer name, and now I’m considering getting a sunburst blue one. Why? Why not.

  133. 133
    Karen in GA says:

    Can’t blockquote on this laptop. Ugh.

    @Roger Moore: From the Tampa Bay Tribune:

    The couple was sitting in front of the suspected gunman, and one of them was texting on the phone as they awaited a showing of “Lone Survivor” when an altercation started over the cell phone use and then the shooting occurred, the sheriff’s office said.

    The long link:

  134. 134
    Tommy says:

    @Karen in GA: Know I am preaching to the choir here.

    But honestly what person, sane person, goes to a movie with a gun?

    The only thing I always take out of my house are my keys and a wallet. Usually my phone.

    But I can’t imagine adding a gun to that list. I often run back to get my wallet. I can’t imagine saying, “hey wait mom/friend/women I am dating, I need to run back …. I forgot my gun.”

    Are these folks fearful. Weak. Crazy. Self-important. The “rulers of the world?”

    I mean I know a TON of gun owners (I am not one myself) and not a single one of them ever thinks of taking a gun to see a movie.

    I wish if only for a few minutes I could enter their minds to understand their thinking. I took a ton of acid and mushrooms years ago, I think I could with stand it and not break with reality :).

  135. 135
  136. 136
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gravenstone: I just discovered that both of the Kleefleisches were TV anchors before they got into politics.

  137. 137
    Yatsuno says:

    @Tommy: When we were prepping my house for the surgery, I noticed my brother had a handgun in a holster. I just looked at him like he was an idiot, then asked what the hell he needed that for. My condo is in a very safe quiet neighbourhood. He just said it was his right to have it. He’s not the brightest of our bunch.

  138. 138
    Roger Moore says:


    The only thing I always take out of my house are my keys and a wallet.

    I don’t always bring my wallet; when I’m going out to exercise, I leave my wallet at home.

  139. 139
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Betty Cracker: It was written for you to do with as you see fit.

  140. 140

    Well, I almost choked to death…am eating a late lunch, took a huge bite of sandwich and then made the mistake of reading your post, Betty. LMMFAO

  141. 141
    JR in WV says:

    When Ms JR and were first married, we were broke… I made $90/month plus a marriage allotment. So we had a tiny 8×40 foot trailer in the subtroplcal keys. The first night I was away for duty, she was really homesick and at bedtime there was a gheko on the bed. She spent hours trying to catch/mash the poor little guy, and gave me holy hell the next afternoon when I got home.

    I had a hard time not laughing, which would have damaged our relationship early on.

  142. 142
    WaterGirl says:

    @Thoughtcrime: go read Booman tribune if you want to be even more depressed about the implications of his retirement.

  143. 143
    Miss Bianca says:

    Is it…is it…IN MY HAIR?!
    Lizards, lizards everywhere!
    Look! Another, green and scaly
    Pops from Betty’s ukelele.

    Just forwarded this story to my BF, as we just found a so-called “fence lizard” hiding in our firewood…thanks for the laughs!

  144. 144
    Rebecca Allen says:

    I am also an ukulele player, and playing is also my primary form of relaxation (and I’m not particularly good either). I would be quite startled if a lizard jumped out of my beloved Kanilea. (Not much chance of that happening here in Tacoma, WA, though.) However, you should consider that it is after all a Hawaiian instrument, and Hawaii is full of small lizards (mostly geckos in my experience). Perhaps the lizard was giving your ukulele a Hawaiian blessing.

  145. 145
    Paul in KY says:

    @cckids: Big scorpions are OK. It’s the little ones that will kill you.

  146. 146
    Paul in KY says:

    @Tommy: They were only in the previews!!! Jeezus, Florida!

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