Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Barron County Pioneer Village, Part 1

(Mediafire is messing up again. If a photo doesn't show up, just click on it to see it at the Mediafire site.)

(Not sure what this is. Maybe a wire puller.)

While in Wisconsin, I visited the Pioneer Village in Barron County. Lots of good stuff to look at, if you like old machines, old buildings, or old coffee grinders. I ended up taking 60+ photos, so I'm going to split them over 3 posts, and spread the posts out over a week or so.


(Don't drink the water.)

("Little Tattler Radio Headset.")

(Old radios.)

(Traveling medicine man. The sign says that Watkins had been the first to put a "trial mark" on their bottles. If you returned the bottle and the level of the contents was still above the trial mark, you'd get a full refund.)

(Sample medicine case.)

(Tools of torture for the typical dentist.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


While in Eau Claire, I went to Hangar 54 Grill, at the little airport there. The food was good, and the twin waiters put up with the gawking pretty stoically. But the star attraction was the little bat sleeping in the corner of the doorway leading into the building.

Few passengers can deal well with long layovers, and even frequent fliers need downtime sometimes...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Dead Mailman Tower

The flag on Mound Hill Park, at Elk Mound, Wisconsin, is visible from I94 and highway 12. If you go to the center of Elk Mound and turn on county road H, you'll get to the little road heading up to the top of the hill. All that's there is the building, which was constructed in 1937 as an observation point, and was later dedicated to the deceased local rural letter carriers. It's developed something of a reputation as a haunted spot, but there's no reason to expect that ghosts have been gathering there spontaneously after the fact. The Elk Mound parks website doesn't mention hauntings at all.

View from the top of the building. You could see more if the trees were trimmed.

Elk Mound high school is visible towards the center of the photo.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blues in the Park

Some of my more observant readers may have noticed that my blog stopped updating for a few days during the second half of August. The reason was that I'd gone to Wisconsin to visit people for a couple weeks. (Short comment is that I had fun and ate too much food.) One of the things I did during the trip was to attend the Tuesday Night Blues in Owen Park. It's free, and runs during the summer. The band this time was The Blues of the Grateful Dead. They did a pretty faithful rendition of Dead covers. Unfortunately, we got rain at about 7:30 PM, cutting the show short.

The show started at about 6:30 PM, and the crowds hadn't yet formed at that point.

There were several food trucks, serving everything from brats to popcorn, ice cream to loaded mashed potatoes. The fire truck pizza was made in ovens in a real, converted fire truck.

(Brats and popcorn truck.)

(Cameo appearance by the Blue Brothers bluesmobile.)

I didn't try recording the songs, because youtube would just flag them as copyrighted.

During the rain, the moon came out.
The following week, the Minneapolis-based band Armadillo Jump played. They were good, but not exactly "blues." I didn't bother taking photos of them.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, vol. 10 comments

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 10, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+

(Chapter spread.)

The kids are watching a news report on TV about egg farmers having to dump surplus eggs because of a drop in demand. This gives Kayano an idea for their next big assassination plan - buying up all the eggs to make the world's largest custard pudding. She's put a lot of time and research into this plan, and the final result is the biggest, most beautiful pudding you can imagine. Takebayashi puts a bomb at the bottom, surrounded by anti-Koro pellets. Kayano tells Koro the pudding is all his, and he weeps with joy as he digs in. But, as he gets closer to the bottom, Kayano can no longer bear the thought of the remaining pudding going to waste, and she yells for Takebayashi to not push the trigger. Doesn't really matter though, because Koro could smell the plastic explosive, and he'd already disarmed the bomb (which he then eats). He congratulates Kayano on the work that went into this plot, and suggests that Takebayashi develop something that smells less. The class then gets to share in the remaining pudding.

(Itona's final death match.)

This is followed by Karasuma teaching the kids about Free Running (similar to parkour, but in the woods). Koro turns the lesson into a game of cops and robbers, with him and Karasuma being the cops. The kids are to remain out of "jail" for 1 hour. If they win, Karasuma has to buy everyone snacks. If they lose, they get double the homework. Karasuma has to try to capture everyone within the first 59 minutes, and Koro will go mach 20 to get the rest of them in the last minute. Karasuma isn't happy about being roped into the game like this, so he gets serious about tapping everyone on the shoulders as fast as he can. Koro makes for a bad guard, however, and keeps letting the "prisoners" escape. In the end, Karasuma is led away from the pool at the top of the hill on the school grounds, and Koro is unable to get to Nagisa and Karuma at the last minute because they're hiding at the bottom of the pool, holding knives. The kids did eventually learn how to hide their tracks (footprints, broken branches) and Karasuma is impressed at how well they'd done.

(Itona's tentacles are showing their roots.)

Next, someone is stealing women's bras and making it look like Koro is the culprit. Eventually, the villain turns out to be one of Karasuma's henchmen, who has been enlisted by Shiro to lead Koro into a trap. The trap is a tall, enclosed tarp area surrounded with anti-Koro chemical, and Itona stays at the top of the trap, shooting down with his hair tentacles (turned into sectional blades this time) to keep Koro from escaping. Shiro claims that this plan is based on the class' Okinawa hotel attack with the fly boards. Initially, Koro looks like he's being whittled to pieces, but when Itona attempts his killing blow, he misses. Koro says that while Itona is stronger and faster than before, he keeps following a predictable pattern that is easy to evade. Koro then uses some of his tentacle energy to blast Itona out of the sky. The boy goes into another berserker rage, and this time, Shiro doesn't care. Itona has lost for the last time, and is no longer of use to him. Shiro leaves, and Koro tries to make the boy join the rest of the class, but Itona also escapes. Over the next couple days, there are news reports of someone destroying cellphone shops, and one of the other girls, Fuwa, discovers that there used to be a small mom-and-pop shop that made specialized circuit boards for cellphones, owned by Itona's father. The five employees working for the company sold the technology to an overseas firm, and then quit. Itona's parents went bankrupt, and Itona himself was forced to live as a homeless street urchin. He'd been bullied by other kids and adults before being discovered by Shiro and having the tentacle weapons surgically implanted in his brain. The tentacles are currently killing him, and the pain is making him lash out reflexively at his family's "enemy." The group intercepts Itona at the next cellphone shop, which is what Shiro was waiting for. Shiro captures Itona in an anti-Koro net and drags him by the back of a truck to a spot where Shiro's minions are acting as snipers in the trees, with anti-Koro pellet guns aimed at Itona. Koro desperately tries to free the boy while also protecting him, until the 3-E class arrives to use their free running skills against the snipers. Shiro admits defeat, and drives off with his men, promising to leave Itona alone now.

(Return of the rare Japanese mountain otter.)

Itona still has lots of problems, from the messed up tentacles to having no clear goal anymore. Ryouma attempts to enlist him in his gang, and the others try to help getting him to focus on something else. Takuya Muramatsu takes the boy to his father's ramen shop, and Itona complains about how bad the food is. Taisei Yoshida tries to show off his father's motorcycles, but he drives badly and throws Itona into the bushes. Kirara Hazama tries to get the boy to read all 7 volumes, 2,500 pages, of the Count of Monte Cristo, and Itona explodes in rage. Fortunately, the boy's tentacles are weakened, and Ryouma can stop him, saying that rather than thinking about his failures, he should be trying to get stronger to kill Koro, and restart his father's factory. Koro steps in and volunteers to remove the tentacles for good, and Itona lets him. Once the tentacles are gone, Itona is thinking more clearly, and he starts using the electronics training he'd gotten from his father to make a nearly soundless remote-controlled battle tank. It has flaws, but some of the other kids in the class offer suggestions for improvements, such as with the camera optics and weapons control systems. Then, they get wrapped up trying to use the tank to spy on the girls' locker room, until the rare mountain otter shows up and destroys the tank. Itona is philosophical, and starts working on "tank #2." Elsewhere, Karasuma's boss is talking to Shiro about teaming up. Shiro, who is letting a small lab mouse run around in his robes and on his face, says that he's found an even bigger monster than Itona had been, implying that he has his sights on Nagisa (this is misdirection).

One of the things that I really like about this manga is how Koro-sensei constantly acts so weak and easily distracted. He has character flaws all over, from an interest in etchi magazines, to a massive sweet tooth, to being overly sensitive to embarrassing situations. Then, he'll suddenly get serious and he then becomes invulnerable. Most of this is an act, as part of his training to get the kids in class 3-E to level up to where they can indeed assassinate him. Conversely, the Japanese language introduces two meanings to the words "assassinate" and "kill." There's the obvious, literal translation of killing someone, but most of the time everyone in the manga uses the second meaning of "to simply defeat an opponent so that he stops wanting to fight anymore." So, when Koro tells his students to "kill" him, it's hard to tell if this is supposed to be literal, or just hyperbole. Regardless, all of the other adults do actually have a history of really killing people prior to when they show up in the story.

Fun stuff, and therefore recommended.

Inside cover quote:
"When you see the rainbow, he's feeling everything. All human emotions, good
and evil, past and future, and the memorial for reaching volume 10 in the
series. This is for you."

Back inside cover quote:
"There are tentacles.
There are tentacles.
Sigh, there are tentacles.
- Korokorokyuu"
(This is probably another parody, but I don't know what the original is.)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, vol. 9 comments

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 9, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+

(How to blow someone's mind. Or, at least, throw off their concentration.)

The rest of the kids think that Nagisa really is going to kill Takaoka. Koro tries to tell Ryouma to cool him down, but the boy has already thrown his stun baton, which hits Nagisa in the back of the head. Ryouma tells him to remember his training, and Nagisa hooks the baton on his belt and attacks with the knife. Takaoka is disappointed, and he kicks the boy around a while. However, Nagisa stands back up with a smile, and recalls Lovro's discussion on special attacks. This one only works as a last resort, and depends solely on the element of surprise. But, Nagisa has fulfilled all three requirements for it - having 2 weapons, there's a way to deceive the enemy, and the enemy knows fear. Nagisa approaches, and drops his knife. Takaoka focuses on the falling blade, and Nagisa leaps forward with "Neko Damashi" (the trick used in sumo of slapping in your opponent's face to confuse him). Takaoka steps back, giving Nagisa time to grab the baton and stun him in the armpit. Takaoka begs the boy not to give the smile, but Nagisa smiles, says, "thank you, Takaoka-sensei" and stuns him in the neck.

(Koro's idea of a haunted house is kind of monologue heavy.)

Takaoka goes down, but before the class can celebrate, Smog, Gastro and Grip show up at the door. However, with their boss defeated, they have no reason to keep fighting. Additionally, Smog thought that Takaoka was a bit too unhinged, so he didn't actually use the virus on his victims. Instead, he just made them sick for a bit. He gives the kids some pills to help the others recover faster, and Gastro tosses his bullets out as souvenirs, and as an invitation to a more serious contest next time. Karasuma radios for a helicopter pick up. The military arrives to arrest the mafia in the hotel, while Grip, Gastro and Smog airlift out themselves. Afterward, Karasuma has Koro embedded in concrete, surrounded by anti-Koro material and sea water. At the end of the 24 hours, Koro recovers his body in a huge explosion, and he easily escapes the trap.

(Irina wants a romantic dinner, but Karasuma just wants to talk about killing Koro.)

There's still one day left to the vacation trip, so Koro tries to set up a haunted house to get the kids to pair off and start forming romantic couples. This plan backfires because most of the kids know Koro's big weaknesses. However, they discover that Irina likes Karasuma, and everyone bands together to get Karasuma to have a moonlit dinner with Irina. Unfortunately, all Karasuma wants to do is talk shop, so the woman reveals the first time she killed someone. She was in Serbia, and she was 12. The military had invaded her village and killed her parents. She took her father's gun and shot the soldier that discovered her. She then spent the night in a closet with the corpse. She apologizes, gives Karasuma an indirect kiss (rubbing her lips with a napkin and then rubbing his) and leaves. Karasuma wonders if that was a new assassination technique. The students complain about her messing up their plan.

("You can assassinate anything, including the parental chains holding you back.")

Nagisa is in a sushi bar, talking to his father about his mother, and his making friends in school, when Koro comes up to announce a summer festival at the school (then eating a couple plates of sushi and putting the food on Nagisa's father's bill). Most of the 3-E class goes to the festival, and completely empty out all the games-of-skill booths. Koro runs several food tables to make enough cash for desserts for the rest of August (his teaching salary is very paltry). The kids enjoy the fireworks, while the international governments decide to triple the bounty on Koro to $300 million. Shiro and Itona prepare for their next attack, with Itona using his hair tentacles to do lifts with a semi-truck. The main shocker, though, is that one of the students wants out of 3-E.

Note that in the middle of setting up the summer festival, Koro calls Lovro to invite him to join in. Lovro begs off because he's in another country on a job. After hanging up, he's surprised by a faceless young man that apparently kills him just by pointing a finger at his head. Lovro seems to be dead, and the guy walks off, saying that his name is "God of Death."

When classes start up again for the second half of the year, Takebayashi, the maid cafe fan, and the one that helped care for the sick kids in Okinawa, gives a speech in front of the entire school (written by Asuma) saying he's happy to escape 3-E and rejoin the ranks of society in 3-A. Turns out that his father and two older brothers are doctors, having graduated from Tokyo Medical University, and his family has pretty much disowned him. He's desperate to get attention from them, and an offer of money from the school (to discredit Koro) was too much to pass up. The chairman has Asano write a second speech, which is supposed to completely humiliate the 3-E class and distance Takebayashi from everyone else, while Asano demonstrates to the other boy that there's no love lost between him and his father. Meanwhile, Koro wants the class to provide what he calls "after care," with groups of kids keeping an eye on Takebayashi at all times to make sure he's ok. Takebayashi, too, is realizing that the 3-A classes are too easy after all the coaching he'd gotten from Koro. He wants to relax at a maid cafe with his new classmates, but they're too terrified of him and of getting bad grades to do anything but run away. Finally, Koro addresses the boy on the street, saying that there's many things you can assassinate, including the chains of fear and expectation from other people.

The next day, Takebayashi decides that he'd rather be in 3-E, and during his second speech he takes a trophy he'd stolen from the chairman's office (for best school in Japan) and "assassinates" it (smashing it with a wooden knife). This guarantees Gakushu's wrath, and ensures he'll be demoted (earlier, we were told that one other student had done the same thing and had been demoted to 3-E, also). The chapter ends with Koro telling 3-E that he wants Karasuma to teach them how to handle explosives (following the incident at the pool with Shiro), and Takebayashi is the only one that picks up the pile of chemistry textbooks that represent the day's reading.

Inside cover quote:
"When his face is black, he's completely sunburned.
He recovers in 2-3 days, but during that time you can't tell if he's crying or angry. It's very confusing."

Back inside cover quote:
"If you put your mind to it, you can wiggle.
If you do not put your mind to it, you can't wiggle.
When you do not put your mind to it, wiggle wiggle WIGgle WIGgle.
- Korozan Uesugi (1751-1822)"
(This is a parody of Harunori Uesugi's famous quote:
"If you put your mind to it, you can do it;
 If you do not, you cannot -- that is true for all things.
 When something cannot be done, you are the one to blame
 For not putting your heart into it.")