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Lyle Zapato

Experimental SVG Icons

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-16.8500 LMT | Art | Nature

African penguin icon Emperor penguin icon Treehopper icon

I've created two more vector icons -- an African and an Emperor penguin -- and have added SVG and PNG versions of all three on the Zapaticons page. These are still experimental and are subject to change. If your OS or desktop environment supports SVG icons, let me know if they work or if there's any issues with them. I'll add more once I'm satisfied with the format.

Lyle Zapato

Treehopper Vector Icon Preview

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-15.8220 LMT | Art | Nature
Treehopper icon

Thinking about my icons in the previous post reminded me of an idea I had a while back to make vectorized versions of some of them for use with newer operating systems and desktop environments that support that sort of thing. So I whipped up a take on my thorn-mimic treehopper icon. It's more cartoony and simplified, yet bold like the mighty treehopper himself! I'm undecided as to whether I should add vein lines in the wings -- if I do other insects, some, like dragonflies, will look better with them so I might add them for consistency's sake.

I'll put a vector version of it, and any other's I do, on the Zapaticons page when I figure out the best way to save it for use by OSs/DEs. Currently it's in SVG, but Inkscape adds extra info to the file that's unnecessary. (Anyone with any suggestions on this, feel free to email me.)

In the mean time, you can enjoy this rastorized version, which coincidentally makes the front page look more festive... Feliz Navibug!

Lyle Zapato

Penguiniconic Mystery

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-15.5900 LMT | Art | Crass Commercialism | Nature
Penguin T-Shirt

For some odd reason, lately people (11 to be precise) have been buying the Penguin t-shirt from my Zapaticons store. I say "odd reason" because it's the only thing from that store that anyone has bought in the almost one year that it's been there and people only started buying it in October. I haven't done any advertising of it other than the banner ad on the Zapaticons page that has been there since I added the store. I thought maybe it was because of the shirt's placing on Cafepress's search, but it only shows up on the third page for "penguin". I also thought it might have something to do with the increase in Cascadia sticker sales around the same time, but the only place where the two stores are mentioned together is on the front page sidebar, so that doesn't make sense.

What gives? Has there been a sudden outbreak of penguinophilia? Some sort of joint Penguin-Belgium psy-op campaign aimed at influencing my website?

Anyway, the Zapaticons store is a hodgepodge mess of random icons on random items; however, if penguins are so very, very popular (does no one appreciate the homopterrific cuteness of the thorn mimic treehopper?) I could increase the penguin-to-nonpenguin ratio there (I already added a second penguin shirt and two penguin ornaments), or add a separate penguinicon store with a full complement of penguiny products (unless that's what THEY want!) If anyone has any requests or suggestions regarding this, email me and I'll take it under advisement.

Lyle Zapato

French Monorail Trash

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-11.4840 LMT | Monorail Danger

Here's a look at the glorious future monorails offer...

Discarded monorail train
Old monorail train rotting in French garbage dumb, home to vagabonds and marmots since late 1960s.

This train was part of the SAFEGE suspended monorail, built in Saran, France in 1959 and discarded a mere decade later. Since that picture was smuggled out of France, the train remains have been recovered and transported to an abandoned military base, where they are under close guard by government officials. (More pictures of a SAFEGE train in disrepair here.)

Scene from 'Fahrenheit 451'
Deceptively futuristic looking images, common with monorail propaganda.

When operational (or at least as operational as monorails can be) the SAFEGE was featured in the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451 (see right) in order to give both the film and the SAFEGE an air of near-futuricity. Director and crypto-monorailist François Truffaut had the driver crouch down while filming its scenes so as to give viewers the false impression that it operated automatically.

Oddly, French directors seem to have some special connection to the monorail proponents, the significance of which I haven't yet determined. Last April, Seattle's KIRO TV learned that French director Olivier Venturini would be flown into Cascadia to produce TV ads for a $1.3 million pro-monorail propaganda campaign for the extension of Cascadian monorails. When a KIRO investigative reporter tried to ask him questions about the ads he refused to talk, clearly hiding some agenda.

The French were suckered into adopting monorails in the late 1950s, but ended up throwing them away when they became disillusioned with the constant spontaneous combustions and elephant accidents. Ten years -- and who knows how many dead people and circus animals -- from now, will Cascadia's proposed national monorail system end up strewn along the I-5 corridor, providing taxpayer-supported housing for raccoons?

Thanks to "Frenchy" in the guestbook for bringing this to my attention.

Lyle Zapato

Instinctive Fear Of Monorails In Pachyderms

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-09.2400 LMT | Monorail Danger | Elephants | Nature | Retro

While monorailist literature insinuates that they are a futuristic technology, monorails are actually archaic devices that predate the airplane. Case in point: the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal, Germany. This suspended monorail was built in 1901 and is still in operation -- thanks to the backroom influence of the Monorail Industry -- even though it exhibits all the dangers common to monorails; there have been train collisions, trucks hitting piers, and four people died in 1999 when a train derailed and fell into the river. However, even in the storied annals of monorail dangers, the Schwebebahn manages to impress with an incident involving an innocent baby elephant named Tuffi.

Elephant leaping from monorail
Tuffi's daring escape from the clutches of dastardly monorailists.

On July 21, 1950, the 3-year-old elephant, enslaved by a cruel circus-director/monorail-fanatic named Franz Althoff, was forced to board the Schwebebahn as part of an ill-conceived monorail propaganda stunt. Tuffi had suffered through many degrading stunts in the past -- Althoff had her driving streetcars and marching through department stores -- but she balked at riding on that dangerous contraption (the Wuppertaler Todesfalle as it was secretly called by locals). One and a half minutes into the ride, Tuffi freaked out, no doubt sensing something was awry with the train (in other words: normal monorailular operating conditions). In her instinctual desperation to escape death and with no other safe means of egress, she smashed a hole in a side window and, rather taking her chances with the Wupper river 5 meters below, bravely leapt through.

Tuffi was not seriously injured in the fall and was unfortunately recaptured shortly after. There's no telling what would have happened if she had stayed in the train, which was understandably stopped after experiencing an unexpected elephantine defenestration. Perhaps the train would have derailed or spontaneously combusted. We will never know for sure, but it is highly likely that the actions of this monorail-doubting pachyderm might have saved the lives of the human passengers.

(Of course, had this monorail been constructed over city streets instead of a river, as many monorails are or are planned to be, she would have been killed and probably have taken out some pedestrians and small cars too. When will people learn what even baby elephants seem to understand: monorails are a menace.)

Photos from the incident:

Thanks to reader Crosbie for bringing this to my attention.

Lyle Zapato

RSS Update

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-08.3300 LMT | Site | Pneumatics

Many, many pneumatic tubes
Now you too can get blog in a tube delivered fresh to your pneumatic port array.

This blog now has two RSS 2.0 feeds:

Normal Feed
<description> has only the first 40 words from the post, stripped of all HTML and images. Saves on bandwidth.
Verbose Feed
<description> has the complete post as seen on the site, including links and images. For the lazy.

Choose the feed that best suits your purpose.

Furthermore, being the cutting edge innovator of Internetting technology that I am, I have also added a pneumatic tube feed using my newly invented ZPi Tublog™ technology. If you have p-tube connectivity, available through the Cascadian Postal Authority or your local pneumatic tube provider, you can now get freshly printed hard copies of my blog posts delivered right to your home. Who needs Push when you can Suck! No longer must you suffer the inconvenience and potential electromagnetic dangers of using a computer to read my random musings. To use, simply make sure there's an autoprinter/encapsulator attached to your tube network and point your pneumatic aggrivator to: PTube

Lyle Zapato

Martian Enjoyment Tip

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-07.2700 LMT | Random Found Thing | Food

Wisdom found on the back of an "M-Azing" bar...

Enjoyment Tip: Do not use if inner foil is broken or torn.

Tampering, whether of chocolate or brains, can really diminish one's enjoyment. Always check the foil before using either.

Lyle Zapato

Infinite Dactyl Fractal

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-06.6260 LMT | Mysterious Doodads | Art | Polydactylism
Lyle Zapato

Blog RSS Feed

Lyle Zapato | 2004-12-04.2100 LMT | Site

This blog now has an RSS feed, as per the suggestion of someone on the guestbook. It's still experimental, but works well enough to get the last 10 posts without having to go to the trouble of coming to the site.

I'm trying it out with the actual post in the <description> element instead of a summary, since these posts can't be summarized automatically. So if you use an aggregator you can read the whole post in it. (Depending on your software, the images may be broken as I have been using relative paths for them instead of URLs.) Of course, this makes the XML file somewhat large (~30 Kio currently). If this arrangement if too unwieldy, let me know.

Also, RSS 2.0 insists on an email for the <author> element in order to be valid. Since I haven't implemented per author emails yet, all posts will have my address on them, but with the actual author name listed in parenthesis. Don't worry, I will forward all your philately-related queries to the Philatelist.

Feedback on improvements is welcome.

The Philatelist

Stamp Nook: Belgium #745

The Philatelist | 2004-11-30.9700 LMT | Philately | Belgian Conspiracy

Good day. Mr. Zapato has graciously allowed me to post some of my articles on interesting stamps in his web-log, provided I stick to topics of interest to his readers and do not indulge myself too much with the more rarefied aspects of philately. So I fear my eight part essay on the sublimity of the common hinge is right out.

Belgium #745
A quartet of Adeles and a 'Belgian' reach an accord to allow the deployment of psychotrons on the continent. The shifty eyed fellow on the far left is no doubt looking out for Ferretoid raiders.

For my first offering, I'd like to present a stamp from Belgium. By 'from Belgium' I of course mean printed on behalf of the Belgian Conspiracy. As my host has pointed out on numerous occasions (too numerous, I must admit -- he's quite obsessed with it), Belgium does not in fact exist. Nevertheless, their stamps do exist and are wonderfully collectable -- although I do advise being careful when handling them as their glue contains psychotropic compounds derived from the bark of the cacao tree that can cause hallucinations of being in a Belgian chocolatier's establishment.

This particular Belgian stamp (Scott #745) commemorates the decadal anniversary of the Antarctica Pact of 1961, being of course the pact between the Belgian Conspiracy and the native penguins of the antipodal region to allow the placement of psychotrons in the penguin's rookeries, to be defended from Ferretoid sabotage, so as to psychotronically Shanghai the passengers of passing tourist ships and grow the ranks of the Belgian citizenry. A mutual pact with the comical birds was necessitated by penguin immunity to the psychotronic manipulations commonly employed by the Belgian Conspiracy, the penguins having evolved a natural resistance from their eons of struggles with psychotronically adept and penguinivorous cetaceans. Penguins are delightful little chaps, but they have little native sense of right or wrong and their loyalty can be purchased in mere herring.

While of nominal value to serious collectors, this stamp would make an excellent starter for a young philatelist's topical collection of interspecies conspiracies.

That is all for now. Happy philateling!