Thursday, November 30, 2006

Long Live The King

One of the things that attracted me to the house I now live in was a beautiful apple tree that was in the back yard. The previous owner told me it was a King and that I could expect a good harvest every year.

The next spring it blossomed with thousands of flowers and I watched the apples develop over the next few months. The apples got larger and larger until they became the size of a monkey’s head. These were indeed King Apples. You only needed two or three of them to make a pie.

My first harvest was several grocery bags of apples. I made pies, apple sauce, apple cakes and cobblers. I gave away bags to local horse owners. I was amazed by how productive this tree had been.

I took good care of that tree, carefully pruning it and dormant spraying it. I fertilized around the drip line and probably had ten more years of excellent harvests. However, every tree has a life span, and over the next eight years the harvests declined. In its final year it produced only one apple.

It was a sad day when I removed the tree. I have other apple trees, but none ever as good as that King. I plan to put in a couple more Kings next spring. Though it will be years before they ever produce as well as that tree, it will be my gift to who ever lives on that land after I am gone.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oh Deer

Back when I moved here it was my first excursion into living in the country full time. While living in the suburbs had it challenges, one neighbor in particular would take advantage of my frequent out of town trips by helping herself to my water service. She would turn on my water and top off her pool, water her lawn and garden, wash her cars. I couldn’t figure out how I had a $400 water bill when I had been in Hawaii for the last month, but then it came to me…Actually one of the other neighbors ratted her out.

Anyway, living in the country you find that you have other sorts of things taking what you thought was yours. People in the neighborhood knew about my fruit trees and they told me that the deer would wipe them out unless I took action to prevent it. I would solicit their suggestions and I heard many, which included:

  1. Go to a barber shop and get a bag full of hair that they sweep from the floor.
  2. Get some cougar urine and mist some of it on the trees.
  3. Get a big dog.
  4. Urinate around every tree every week.

None of those options sounded good to me, but at that time some new technology gave me some hope. These were the lights that turn on automatically when something emitting heat moves in front of them. They are everywhere now, but were pretty novel back in the late 80s.

So I ran wire to set up three fixtures on the side of a shed. I pointed the sensors toward the trees that the deer would surely visit. The first night I was reading in my living room and I could see nothing but blackness through the window that looked out upon the trees.

Suddenly one of the lights came on, and then another. There was a deer standing beneath a tree stunned by the light where none had ever been on previous raids. The deer collected its thoughts and scampered away.

The following night found me reading in the living room with the window looking into the blackness of night. The light came on again, and the deer stood its ground this time. It even reached up and grabbed an apple. Eventually the light cycled and turned itself off. The dear realized this light was a good thing, and moved before the sensor again turning the light back on. Every time the light went off the deer would go back and cross the path of the sensors to turn the light back on to better see the apples it wanted to eat.

I quickly came to terms with it. Deer have to eat, too, so they got to eat all the fruit they could reach and the rest was mine.

It wasn’t long before the deer had eaten all the fruit it could reach. It then looked in at me through the window in a curious way. I slowly went out side and picked her an apple that was out of her reach, and I rolled it to her on the ground. She spooked for a moment, but returned to eat it. I rolled her another, and she approached closer to me to eat. After several apples I got her to take one from my hand. It was beautiful, but later I realized I removed some of her fear of man and I vowed to never do that again.

Today I still let them eat what ever they can reach, and we both seem to get just enough.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Unspeakable

I find it funny that in the English language we have words that mustn’t be spoken, yet we all know these words, and if we say them by their first letter we have the exact word pop into our minds. How often have you heard a news anchor saying something like, “And he used racial slurs calling African Americans in the audience the ‘N’ word.” We all figured out what he said by that clue.

What about the “F” word? Just by calling it “the F word” doesn’t make the word go away. It just makes the listener imagine the word and possibly placing greater emphasis on it. It’s kind of like someone dying their hair bright pink and then telling people not to look at them.

Every once in a while I’ll hear a child or an elderly lady refer to the “B” word. Showtime has a show called “The L Word.”

Now, I really want to understand exactly what women have against the “C” word. As a male I have been called a Dick, a Prick, a Pecker and an asshole. I’ve even been called the “C” word. I’m not offended by any of it. So ladies, why so sensitive? It’s a great word and I want to use it…often.

It just seems odd that there are words out there that we dare not use. I also find it funny how some words can become main-stream, like "Sucks" and "Blows". "Pissed" is even mainstream. When I was a kid these were really vulgar terms; ones you wouldn't say to Mom.

So, should we free our tongues now, or continue the slow evolution to eventual acceptability of the words that are presently taboo?

Monday, November 27, 2006


It’s interesting how “spin” is used to totally change the meaning of things and events going on around us. Corporate buzz words migrated our thinking from “problems” to “challenges”, and then it evolved from “challenges” to “opportunities.” If you have a “small” house to sell, the realtor will say it is “cozy.” If they say it has a “view”, it means you don’t get to leave home when there is ice on the road. A junky old car becomes “vintage.”

The first time I became spin-aware was when I was in my early 20s. I was working for the Postal Service and a decree came from regional management that said, and I’m not kidding, “Employees shall no longer refer to bulk mail as JUNK MAIL. It should always be called BUSINESS BULK MAIL, and smile when you say it.” Bukowski would have loved that one.

I try not to spin, but sometimes I can’t resist. Like everyone I have a couple junk drawers and a junk closet in my house. I call them “My Subconscious.” It is, after all the place to store things one wishes to forget.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Confession and Contrition

During one of the recent wind storms I had a piece of fiberglass wiggle roofing break off from a roof over my firewood shed. I picked up the fragment from the lawn and it reminded me of another wiggly piece of plastic from my past.

I don’t know how many of you are recovering Catholics out there, but I am and the piece of plastic I was reminded of was the opaque wiggly plastic piece with tiny holed drilled in it. This plastic shield was what kept one anonymous in the confessional of my youth.

Both my mother and my father were Catholic. My father never attended Church; so it was my mother who felt it was her duty to see to it that her children attend, though she was so cynical about it all. As you’ve been reading about my life and opinions over the past few months you can tell the nuts don’t fall far from the tree. I even went to Catholic School which is a funny story for another day.

Anyway, one of the rites of passage in the life of a Catholic youth is First Communion. However, in order for all these seven year old kids to enter the adult Catholic world with this sacrament, they need first to go to confess my sins to a priest.

A confessional is this booth that is divided into sections. One section houses a priest and on the other side of the wall is where the sinners go to kneel and beg for forgiveness for their transgressions. They speak with one another through a piece of opaque plastic with holes in it, or at least that was the way our confessionals looked.

I remember the Saturday of my first confession like it was yesterday. I had been instructed on the protocol of how to behave, and what I should say before and after my confession. My problem was that I was only seven years old, and I was a good kid who hadn’t sinned. The fact that I now had to go to confession every week after inspired me to become a sinner just to keep it all interesting.

Before going to church for my first confession my mother asked if I had anything to confess. I thought about it and in fear I told her that I had nothing to confess and asked what I was going to do? I couldn’t go to confession with nothing to offer. How could I receive penance if I didn’t offer my sins?

My mother came to my aid and said, “Tell the priest that you committed adultery five times.” I had no idea what adultery was, but if my Mother said that’s what I should do…I did it. I trusted her and was too young to understand her cynicism.

When we got home that evening my mother asked how the confession went. I told her I confess the adultery and received a penance of 5 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers. I got off easy; some of my other class mates were reciting their penance long after I was finished.
My parents howled with laughter. I didn’t get the joke until a year or so after that. I laughed as well and still do.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Skull

As you are probably familiar with all the medical and forensic shows that are now on television, you know that between radiographic and magnetic imagery can now be uploaded to computers and turned into three dimensional representations of what is there.

This is to say that if you had 3-D imagery of your skull, these images in conjunction with a computer and some robotic equipment could be used to sculpt an exact replica of your skull.

If you have ever seen a photo of a pile of human skulls, they are immediately identifiable as human, but if you look closer you will see that each skull is distinct, each having its own personality, so to speak.

Each human has a distinct face. Yes, their may be some familial similarities, but each person has their own distinct face.

There is a specialty branch in forensic science where they recreate a person’s face based upon the features of the skull. This being said, beauty isn’t only skin deep, but it goes to the bone.

So why bring this up? Consider having a copy of your own skull. One you can pickup and study. Something you can feel and something you can recognize as your own. It can be a reminder of who you are under it all and where you will be in the end. It could be a tool to keep one very humble.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Best of the Best

Have you ever heard the perfect song? It’s a song that has all the right instruments, phrasing, lyrics, length, texture, mood, voices, balance, melody… It is a song that you keep replaying, time and time again. Sometimes you can’t wait for it to end so you can start it all over again. A song you would actually like to have played at you funeral.

Astoria Rust’s Top 10 Most Perfect Songs:

I Never Talk To Strangers, Tom Waits & Bette Midler
And I Love Her, Sinatra
Mushaboom, Fiest
Turn Around, They Might Be Giants
Daylight, Allison Krauss
While My Guitar Gently Weeps, George Harrison
The Mariner's Revenge Song, The Decemberists
Rosalee’s Good Eats Café, Bobby Bare
1983 ... (A Merman I Should Turn To Be), The Moon Turns Tides, Gently Gently Away, Jimi Hendrix
Miss Shapiro, Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Black Thursday

I'll admit, I'm not throwing any "A" material out there on the blog this week since readership is so low. This tells me lots of folks read from work and no one is working ; )

There was a morning last month that was strange. It appeared to be normal at first as I uploaded my daily entry into the blog. However after that it seemed as though I had slipped into an electronic limbo. I checked all six email accounts, checked the forums I frequent, checked the blogs that I check daily. There was nothing. No mail, no posts, no new blog entries, no comments on articles. There wasn’t even any spam. I waited, and checked again at lunch time and still nothing. I thought for a moment, “This is what death must be like, or perhaps what it is like to live in Iowa…” No, Iowa can’t be all that bad.

This was a Thursday, and historically Thursdays and Mondays, according to my counter on the blog and the web sites I maintain; are the most active days. Thursdays and Mondays see twice the visitors than any other day of the week.

Where did everyone go? Was there an atomic blast that ended all communications?

Yes, everything worked out. I was happily deleting spam again by the end of the day, but there was a time when I felt as though I were adrift on an ice berg. Sure, I don’t like people enough to hang out with them very often, but I guess I’m attached to the communication or at least the chance for something novel to come out of a piece of communication.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


My step son visited us a couple weeks ago. He unintentionally left behind a CD. I didn’t have anything new worth listening to so I figured I’d throw it in the truck to see what those half my age are finding interesting these days.

As I suspected it was a mix collection of rap, which didn’t put me off. I am pretty open-minded as far as music goes, though I have recently become somewhat jazz resistant. I’m just tired of jazz for the time being.

I listened to the CD several time and I came away feeling that as far as production values go nearly every cut was impeccably produced. The textures are very present and abundant, yet there was little content. It was like cracking an empty egg. There was no memorable content. Maybe I’d remember some of it had I been locked in a room where the CD was played over and over for a week or so, but I never want to have the desire to like something like that so badly; too much effort.

I’ve listened to rap back in the early days, and I think that it, along with most rock, and pop country crap that is the industry standard has seen it day. It’s all empty. Maybe it’s the age of my ears that prevent me from enjoying it the way it is intended, but I just don’t get it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Yeah, Thanks...

Thanksgiving is another holiday that annoys me, which I’m sure you, the faithful readers were expecting. I mean if pissed all over the 4th of July, what’s stopping me from bitching about all the established holidays. So what’s so bad about a food holiday? Nothing when you look at it like that. However as an Atheist, I have a hard time saying thanks to something that doesn’t exist for me.

Also, all the bounty that we are supposedly thankful for here comes at someone’s expense. We took the land from the natives. We ruined their culture, gave them diseases they had no defense against. Their only retribution has been tobacco and reservation gambling.

Next the food on our table was picked by indentured slaves that often get very low wages in exchange for not being turned in to the boarder patrol. Sometimes they are turned in right before their pay id due.

The turkey you eat, if it isn’t free-range organic, is grown in a factory with tens of thousands of other turkeys that are feed a steady diet of growth hormones and antibiotics. Their environment is full of waste and the smell of ammonia. They do not fly or ever leave the building. It is a sea of white feathers standing in their own waste. After they are slaughtered they are injected with chemicals to make them juicy and extend their shelf life…like embalming fluid would do in humans.

All the stuff we are thankful for may just bite us in the ass one day.

So what will I be doing on Thanksgiving? Writing blog articles, pulling up Scotch Broom seedlings and I’ll probably make a pizza or baked ziti. I will be thankful for not being one who has fallen for this holiday without regard to who gets hurt in the name of tradition.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Old Guys

How many times have you heard someone say, “I attract all the nuts!” or “Why are all the crazy people attracted to me?”

I find that everyone attracts one type of person or another. What sort of people do you attract? I think I’ve found my “attractees” (Yes, I made up that word). I can be sitting somewhere with a waiting room full of empty seats and as soon as an old man walks into the room he’s got to sit next to me to tell me his life story, never fail. It has happened time and time again.

Last week I got to hear the story of this one old man’s son who worked his way up the corporate ladder of the Kotex Company. He said loudly, “YOU KNOW KOTEX? THEY MAKE THE PADS FOR WHEN WOMEN ARE BLEEDING. THEY STICK THEM…”
I cut him off “Yes, I know of the company, you must be very proud of him…” It went on and on, and it always seems to go on and on.

I have heard more stories about World War II and prostate surgery than anyone I know. There seems to be no topic these old guys won’t touch, which makes me wonder if being talkative extends one’s life. Rarely have I ever seen an old man who is quiet. This spells an early demise for your’s truly. Though I do write a lot I’m not big on talking, especially to strangers.

I’ve come to accept this attraction to the point that I no longer bring a book with me when I know I’ll be spending time in a waiting room. I am actually happy to be able to facilitate these old guys exercising their synapses and recalling times when they were young and strong and everything was pure and good. I wish I could speak with my father again. Boy was he ever a talker...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

One Day?

I recently heard a phrase I’ve been hearing since I was old enough to understand the language. I know that someone who visits here has a blog and states that they will do all they can to keep old phrases alive. Is that your blog Melinor? I can’t recall, I read so many blogs these days.

Anyway the phrase is “Going to Hell in a Hand Basket.” I have a lot of questions for this phrase, and maybe I should consult my vast library of Stewart Berg Flexner books on the origins of the English language and its phrases, but that would probably shed logic on the phrase and make it totally uninteresting.

So what does your mind see when you hear this phrase? For me I see the mythical Devil, Diablo, Beelzebub, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, The Out-Cast Angel, The Beast of the Dammed. This is the major face and force of evil, yet he has a light enough and a cool enough touch as not to incinerate straw baskets that cradle those comfortably who are now in his care for eternity. I see a big hulking beast with a delicate basket. It is almost a comfort that there is a lighter side to this mythical character.

According to many who have written me, I should start taking this as a consolation of a final road trip that I will personally be making in my future.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Continuing on the tail of several posts over the last week or so that I’ll call “Me Posts” where I discussed the various work I have done, my education, my spiritual (or lack there of) ideas and how I was inspired by Alan Watts and Les Krims.

I grew up as a reader. My early years were filled with Jean Shepherd, of whom I will blog about on another day. Today I want to talk about the writer who inspired me most. Richard Brautigan opened my eyes and mind to reading and creative writing. I’ll never forget the pictures he would paint with words.

He would write of love, yet he always seemed strangely lonely. My favorite statement of declared love was when he wrote the phrase, “I’d walk 10 miles barefoot on a frosty morning just to stand in her shit.” Christ, haven’t we all been that in love once in our lives? Nothing matters, only the emotion in its purest form.

This short article will barely hint at the complex person Brautigan was. I constantly re-read his books even to this day, and with each reading I glean just a little more.

I once went to San Francisco and had my photograph taken on the steps where he was photographed for the cover of his book The Abortion, the Historical Romance of 1966(see photo above). I was photographed by the statue in Washington Square Park where the cover of Trout Fishing in America was shot. I took a photo of the house on Beaver Street where he wrote Trout Fishing in America.

I cried the night I when I read in the paper that Brautigan had taken his own life. I was on the West Coast at the time (not living here yet). I called all my other Brautigan devotee friends on the East coast. It was 2am for them when I called. They knew I would take it badly. I still get choked up when I think about it and the circumstance of his death.

There was some light at the end of the tunnel, though. Previous forgotten works (Pun not intended, but pretty damn good if you ask me) were published since his death, and his daughter Ianthe wrote a book about him called, “You Can’t Catch Death.”

Fortunately Richard left behind a good body of work. When I’m feeling Mellon collie, there is always something on my book shelf that tells me I have a brother in angst waiting to guide me in another journey .

Brautigan once wrote, "All of us have a place in history. Mine is clouds."

Friday, November 17, 2006


I’ve hinted at this subject in a few comment posts and I’d now like to elaborate. One day a few years ago I was reading a book by James Harriot where Harriot commented on a treatment he was trying on an animal. He said, “…it won’t make a difference in a hundred years.”

That got me thinking about what will make a difference in a hundred years. When I lived back east there were a lot of structures, monuments and trees that were well over a hundred years old, but here in Astoria there are few things that old. There were a couple fires that wiped out the town. Most of the trees growing are the result of a third of fourth planting. The bridges are relatively new.

Then realize how many people have lived here through out history, and we can only name a hand full of people who actually have done something that we still associate with today, a hundred years later. There are some families here who have been here over 100 years, but that’s the only remarkable thing about it.

I’ve done some speaking in schools over the years, and one question I like asking is if anyone famous ever came from their school. Most schools boast of no one famous, yet some will talk about a star athlete from the 50’s or the 60’s who hasn’t been heard of since they left that school.

So in the grand scheme of things, it is rare that anyone does anything remarkable that will still be around in a hundred years and keep your name alive for that amount of time.

Yes, I understand that if you have a child who has a child, it all falls back to you in the ancestor realm, but in reality few things we do today will matter in 100 years. There are physicians who change and save lives every day, few will be remembered. There are architects who design buildings that may be standing hundreds of years from now, yet Frank Lloyd Wright will be the only architect that will ever be remembered by name.

We know the names of several artists and composers from a hundred years or more in history, but how many Doctors can you name. How many lawyers, preachers, actors can you name from 100 years ago or more? How many police officers and fire fighters? You can probably name astronomers, mathematicians and writers, but how many Pony Express riders, coal miners and shop keepers?

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Years ago when USA Today was first published, I realized it was totally possible to present news content without substance. Unfortunately today it is more often the norm rather that the exception. Rather than seeing real news we get a newsie-entertain-info substitute.

For those of you who need a hint as to what I’m talking about, news doesn’t come with a sound track. I hear it on radio and I see it with all the national Good Morning Today shows. Sometimes they will introduce something in a traditional way, but add music for dramatic emphasis somewhere in the story.

I would love to have a job picking music for news stories:

Republican losses in the election – You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling
The defeat of Gay Marriage measures – What’s Love
Got to do With It
Dick Cheney’s hunting accident – Shotgun
Gasoline prices- Pipeline

I hope y’all know these songs, by the way…

I could go on for hours, but what I see are a bunch of TV stations that produce stock stories and play them all over the country as a substitute for real news. Consider if you have or have not seen these story before. Feeding left over pumpkins to the elephants and hippos at the zoo. Feeding fish filled ice blocks to the polar bears in the zoo on hot days. The story about the 90 year old who is finally getting their high school diploma. The couple who got married on the roller coaster. The autistic kid who can play the piano. The dog or cat that saved their owners from the fire.

Here’s a story I’d like to see. How about a reporter that not only does some investigating but reports on something that flies in the face of their managing editor and sponsors.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sick Day VII

I’m sick of Christmas! (I bet you saw this one coming down Fifth Ave). Yes, I’m sick that Christmas crap was on display in stores in September. I’m sick that there were Christmas commercials on TV in October. I’m sick of all the conservatives who are shoving Christmas down people’s throats. My standard reply to both “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” is “Keep it to yourself, Schmuck!” I’m sick that those of non-Christian faiths or no faiths have to tolerate this annual mania. I’m sick of musicians trying to score immortality by recording a Christmas song that will be played every year. I’m sick that all that plastic crap that people are buying for Christmas is destined to become land fill and future generations will be eternally stuck with your garbage. If you feel you must participate in this frenzy at least shop locally for locally produced products, and hopefully it will be something that can be consumed and recycled like, wine, cheese, chocolate, art, baked goods. Think about this next year when Sunday Market is open (without dogs I hope). All the stuff there is produced locally (relatively).

Here’s a free slogan for those of you in the Porno industry, “Let’s keep the X in X-mas.” My gift to dirty bastards, I’m sick of you, too.

Finally, I’m sick that there aren’t more photos of a vomiting Santa to borrow on the Internet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bonus 2nd Post Today, Dried Salmon Matters

I know that many of you never venture past this blog to the sister associated message board, and yes there is a lot of dead horse beating still going on there. Some of it is funny, but no matter how you view it, it is still an exercise in free speech where the public is allowed to voice their opinions and concerns anonymously.

There is another forum in town that affords the same opportunity to people. It has a lot of history in this community, and it fields the many of the same sorts of topics that arrive on this blogs forum. The difference is that I allow my opinion to stink up my forum, where the other forum is run by a consortium of citizens who keep their distance and allow the public to shape the opinions espoused there.

Some of the administrators of that forum have visited our forum and corrected misconceptions I had about the forum. They were also very receptive to suggestions that I made.

So imagine my surprise when I came upon their blog Monday morning. Imagine my surprise when I saw the name of their blog. Here is a link
Please pay them a visit and wish them well.

A Matter of Records

I’ve been told that once you acquire three of anything, you have a collection. It all started innocently for me, but grew into an obsession as soon as I got into the business.

I guess it all started when I worked on a college radio station. It was a rather new station so it didn’t have much of a record library. The library was the recipient of all sorts of new promotional albums from the big companies, but even back in 1973 there were independent labels out there with stuff well worth listening to. So every week I’d go out and buy ten or so new albums that the station would never get, making my radio shows a little more underground than the other shows on the air.

Word got out that I was spinning the unknowns, and soon I was getting all sorts of promos sent to me at home. By the time I got out of radio all together I had amassed a collect of nearly 2000 albums, AKA expensive wall paper.

One of the disadvantages with the old 12 inch vinyl was that not only did they take up a lot of space, but they also weighed a lot. So when I decided to move all the way across the country to Oregon, I had to figure a way to get 2000 records out here with me. I knew my Subaru wagon couldn’t handle it, besides I had all sorts of stuff like bicycles, skis, computers and other stuff I had to drive out.

I gave away all my furniture, so all I had to worry about were books and records, which I decided to mail to myself. Fourth Class Book Rate was actually reasonable. I didn’t have my own address, so I mailed to my then love of my life who lived in Vancouver, Washington. A month later I bought my house here, so I had to pack them all from her house to my new home where I built shelves and had them in my living room.

Ten years later, she who is now my wife moved in with her two children. We called it the occupation. Just about all of my stuff was given away and replaced by her stuff. She didn’t like the ghosts of my former women acquaintances in the house with her, so any chair they could have possibly sat on went. I did get to keep the art, though.

So my house, no longer being a singles pad, I had to move all my records to a room upstairs that would now be my office. It was a cramped space with all those records. After her kids moved out I was able to take on one of their roomy bedrooms as my office, so the records moved again.

After that move I decided to sell a lot of the collection. The records were really getting in my way, so a collector from Seattle came down and took about 1500 of them leaving me with only 500.

This weekend my wife wanted to move her office down stairs into one of the guest rooms. We still want to have two guest rooms on the main floor, so I moved my office back up stairs, so all 500 records had to be moved once again. Now I’m thinking I should sell the remainder.

I would like to copy some of them onto CD. There is some rare stuff in the remaining collection, rare British imports and boot legs. I have a recording of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Johnny Winter jamming together. I have the works of Philip Glass on the Chatham square label. Almost everything Zappa ever did on vinyl. All vinyl works of Brian Eno, and I mean all, even things he produced in the early days like Lady June. Amazing Blondell…I could go on.

It’s such a hard decision, but I will never move them again.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Education Fall-Out

My recent articles on the jobs I’ve had, education and spiritualism has spurred many of you to write me to continue the discussion via email in private. We’ve covered areas such as over education, lack of apprenticeship in today’s work place. We discussed the lack of commitment among employers and employees and poor work ethics and policies.

Many of you also said that you had fun in college or in University (the Canadians call it University), but the education receive there have been of little use. One person said they thought it was a conspiracy to keep people out of the work force for four more years. Oddly the argument was very good and may deserve an article about it one day.

Out of all the positions I have ever applied for I have never been asked to produce a document proving I had a diploma or a degree. It was often just assumed that I had one or one wasn’t required.

I am personally not impressed by degrees, unless the degree one has relates directly to the work they do. I like it that my dentist has a degree in Dental Science, yet I am not impressed that some of the art that I own was made by someone with a graduate degree.

My father was poorly educated. He dropped out of school in the 6th grade back in the late 1920s, but he went on to learn four languages, ran a successful business and provided a good education for his four children.

It is said that those who graduate high school now will not make it in the world without continuing their education. This is pretty sad because the college education these days is still way over valued, yet I see people with graduate degrees applying for $10 per hour jobs. The market for the over educated is far past its saturation point.

Not only have the high schools failed to deliver adequate life skills education to the students in their charge, but the colleges extend this disappointing result farther into student’s lives. Yes I do know that high schools still offer job training for those who aren't on the college track, and often it is the parent at fault. They don't want to see their kid installing toilets for a living, and they think their kid deserves to be the next CEO of IBM. Let your kid be what they want to be. They will find their own way. This way they won't feel so guilty and you won't feel so resentful when they are installing toilets after having recieved a 100-k education that you are still paying for.

The military is no better. I was speaking with a fellow who finished his tour with the Marines. I asked him what skills he came away with. He told me, “I am now qualified to clean or guard anything.”

So how can one be successful in this world? Unless you are a knuckle dragging, slack jawed mouth breather you have a chance. Develop your verbal and your writing skills, and be sure to read a lot. Be confident without being cocky. Have an air of accomplishment and individualism. Be flexible. Keep your body art and opinions to your self. Remember, opinions are like ass holes, every body has one and most of them stink.

Terry Cole Whitaker (aka the yuppie preacher) once said, “If you can’t find a job, make one up. They are all made up anyway…”

Another quote which I believe came from Reverend Ike is one that I find very interesting. “If you want to be rich, you need to look around and see what all the poor people are doing, and don’t do any of that stuff.”

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Alan Watts

Yes, I know he looks like yound Morbious from the Forbidden Planet in the photo above, but... Writing about Alan Watts brought to mind a few other things he said in some of his lectures that made me "think" way back when... Watts had a beautiful British accent. It was a literate, articulate tongue. Definately not working class or upper crust. He was quite understandable.

Here are some of my favorite Watts statements that I remember from listening to him over 25 years ago.

“We’ve always had the question about the chicken and the egg, which came first? The solution depends upon how one views the problem. So let me propose that a chicken is one eggs way of making more eggs.”

“It is man who builds square buildings and makes square things. This doesn’t happen often in nature other than crystals. Most of nature is round. It is a wiggly world in which we live.”

“It was an act of Irreducible Rascality!”

“When Jung was working on his theory of the dark side, he met a fellow who seemed to be perfect. Jung could find no dark side in this man, and he was about to give up on his theory all together, but then the man invited him to is home to meet his wife, and immediately upon meeting her Jung realized he had found this man’s dark side.”

“You know that when something is ineffable it is something that can’t be F’ed.”

“The Universe is a web of jewells”

“I misunderstood Suzuki (a Japanese Zen Master and writer) when I asked him what the essence of Zen was, I thought he said, ‘Act, but don’t act’, but what I found out later in his writing he said, ‘Act no bad act.”

"As important as it is to have a memory, it is equally important to have a forgetory."

“The word ‘Person’ comes from the Greek magaphonic masks that actors wore on stage known as ‘Personas’. So when you say that you are a real person you are admitting to be a genuine fake.”

"The that for which there is no whicher."

"A trip well traveled is often better than arriving."

" poor Krell..." Oops, that was actually a Dr. Morbious quote, sorry ; )

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Recycle Awareness Week in Oregon

To commerate Oregon recently naming November 11-18 Recycling Awareness Week, I present this article:

I am an avid recycler, and in this age of recycling you would think that everything we buy would be recyclable. Yet the grocery shelves are lined with items that are destined for the land fill. Even making the effort to purchase things in containers that can be recycled; you still find a lot of stuff that will be trash in the end. Inner seals, plastic lids, inner plastic lining, non corrugated cardboard…

More things are being recycled these days, batteries for one. I don’t know of any place locally, but I have a friend take my depleted batteries to Corvallis where they are recycled.

Why isn’t clothing recyclable? Sure I know you can donate old clothing to several places that resell them, and stuff like old socks do well as a shop rag, but what happened when you have too many old undershirts and socks and really have no need for that many shop rags. In the old days there was the rag man. We had one in my home town. He actually had a horse drawn cart with tin cans on it that would jangle as he came down the road. People would come out of their houses with rags and junk, and he would haul it all away and resell it. The junk would be scrap metal and the rags would go to the paper mill.

Do we no longer recycle clothing because all of the plastic content? Back in the 50’s there was pretty much cotton, wool or leather, all recyclable for some purpose.

Maybe it is too radical an idea, but what if manufacturers had to make their packaging from totally recyclable materials and make sure they could be recycled again when you were finished with them? And shippers, stop using Styrofoam peanuts. At least use the ones that decompose in water (they’re actually edible as well, but they don’t taste very good.)

Recycling is still a bit of a pain in the ass. Sure there is curb-side pick up, and you can now mix newspapers with magazines, but it is odd that I have to recycle plastic grocery bags at the grocery store, and all else at the transfer station. If I purchased all this stuff from a grocer, I should be able to recycle all of it at the store that sold it to me in the first place. Sure the store would be annoyed by this just as they are annoyed by deposit bottle returns, but maybe grocers then would have some power behind what they choose to sell and not to sell. Manufacturers and packagers would have to start thinking responsibly about packaging before pushing all this crap on us that ends up in our land fills.

Here’s a story from the archive if you want more info on this topic NIMBY.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Warm Glow

Writing the Starry Night article reminded me of the old wood stove I heated the house with at that time. After a few nights of burning wood I found I could calculate how long the wood that I had under cover would last. There was only enough to last until mid-January.

I went out the following day and purchased a new chain saw with a 20 inch bar, and started working on the slash piles left behind by the previous owner who had logged a couple acres. Trees that were leaning or rubbing against another tree on the upper wooded acreage were fair game as well. I wouldn’t cut anything that was healthy.

There were some nice hunks of alder in the slash piles which I cut, and trailered down the hill. Once there I split and stacked the wood. Eventually it made it into the house for burning.

It is said that the difference between good alder and rotten alder is about 15 minutes. Though the alder was still good, the quick change became evident to me one night. I had a nice stack of wood in a corner by the wood stove, and one night I woke up to go to the bathroom, and that was a good time to check the fire as well. However when I looked down into the dark living room I saw the strangest sight. The wood pile was glowing. It was pretty creepy; the damn pile of wood was glowing like it was radioactive or something.

I turned the light on to see what the hell was going on, and the glow stopped. I turned the light off and it glowed again. I picked up a sample of the wood to examine it closer, and there seemed to be a yellowish tint to some parts of the wood. Turn the light off and the yellow part glowed.

The following day I asked someone about it and they told me it was phosphorescent mold, and it isn’t all that uncommon here. In fact if you get stuck fishing the Lewis and Clark River in the canyons above the 400 line in the dark you will often see the forest floor glowing when you leave.

What a strange and wonderful place.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Bonus Cheer For Astoria Rust

Thanks Girls!

(and thanks Lelo in Nopo, I stole it from her site)

Starry Nights

I moved here from a suburban East coast town 19 years ago this month. It was my first big move to the country. Sure I lived in country setting previously, but only for short periods of time. One of the requirements I had for housing here was privacy. I didn’t want to see any neighboring houses.

My first night in my new house was a crisp clear frosty moonless night. The previous owner left me a good stack of fire wood. I lit a fire in the wood stove and the house was empty, but warm. I hadn’t yet purchased any furnishings.

With nothing better to do I turned off the lights and wandered out side to look at the stars. It was dark, and a type of still darkness I’ve only experienced in the Canadian wilderness previous to that.

The Milky Way spanned the sky, and the voices of coyotes could be heard many miles away. Occasionally I could hear a cow bawling in a field a mile or so in the distance. It was a wonderful time, yet nearly a spooky time wondering if something were to drag me off in that instant…would I ever be found.

My life here began on that night. The next day I went out and purchased furnishings and appliances for the house. There was a steady stream of delivery trucks here for the next two or three days. It had become a home, my home.

Sometimes I still go out on those frosty clear dark moonless nights and look skyward. I think back about the past 19 years, and all the kind people I’ve met, and all the laughs I’ve had, and all the writing I’ve done and especially all the things I’ve learned.

I so love it here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Zen and the Art of Nothingness

I get emails from time to time from you readers who ask what my spiritual background is and where I stand today. I guess I do throw out a lot of mixed signals, and generally come off as a hard core atheist.

I grew Catholic. I even worked in a Catholic seminary for ten years,(for those who read yesterdays post the jobs there were switchboard operator, librarian, night watchman) not teaching by the way. That was enough to make anyone question their faith. The shit I saw go on there would amaze the average church attendee.

From there I studied Christianity. I listened to the late night radio preachers on AM radio. The carrier waves would make their trip up north to my radio from WWVA in West Virginia and other 50 thousand watt stations from North Carolina would beam in as well. This got me reading the bible, but I found so much conflicting information there so in a short time I decided it was all bull shit.

In my mid 20s WNEW FM, a New York progressive rock station would play a 45 minute Alan Watts lecture at 6:15 am every Sunday. I got in the habit of setting a timer to record every Watts lecture, and I still have a drawer full of tapes.

The better part of this Sunday ritual was leaving the house just before the broadcast began. I drove to New York City for breakfast every Sunday. I’d listen to Watts as I drove. I always had to take the George Washington Bridge because I’d lose the signal if I took the tunnel. I’d near my favorite café’ as his show ended.

Sunday mornings in New York were always magical. I couldn’t stand the city the rest of the time, but Sunday mornings were at time I could be there. After breakfast I’d either do something in the city or drive back home listening to Vin Skelsa. It was a wonderful time in my life.

So I ate up all the Eastern philosophy I could, but one day I had enough of it, and I realized that there is really nothing out there. It was evident with all the pain and suffering, and injustice. All the miracles that had been reported since the beginning of time were actually nothing out of the ordinary. Sure the stories are fun as is an Ouiji Board, but that doesn't make it real.

Now I’m not trying to convince you believers out there that there is nothing, and I’m not trying to convince the non believers there is something. There is simply nothing for me and I'm totally OK with that. There is nothing I can do about it either way.

I do find it funny that I never believed in Santa Clause, and I knew that by age 4, yet I believed in God until I was in my mid 20s. Santa makes more sense to me now than God does. For some people the changing leaves or a beautiful day is enough proof for them that there is a monotheistic deity that keeps everything going. To me, I feel that no one could ever be that much of a control freak and micro-manager.

So which ever side of the fence you are on I will conclude this article with a tale of two deaths.

It is said that the night Alan Watts died he was sitting on his couch tossing a balloon into the air. He said, “This balloon feels like the spirit leaving my body.” He died moments later.

When physicist Richard Fenyman was on his death bed, one of his graduate students asked, “Richard, you have been a lifelong atheist, if you meet God when you die, what will you say to him?” Fenyman replied, “I’ll ask why he never presented any proof.”

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Tasks in Life

I always find it interesting when I visit a University and see all these kids (comparatively speaking) who seem to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. I can’t imagine being in my mid 20s and knowing that I want make a life time commitment to be a physician, a lawyer or an engineer. Having attended a casual community and state college back in the 70s with barely any direction or focus on anything other than getting it over with, I was shocked to see the focus of my friends attending Brown and Columbia. These were not party schools. Students would be writing and doing research every possible moment. It would be a beautiful day on a weekend, and my friends were at their desks studying.

Because of my short attention span, I’ve always valued working more than “ass in seat education.” It was evident when I constantly changed majors. I’ve had some very interesting jobs. I started working on a farm as a summer job when I was in the 8th grade. From there I worked after school jobs on a switchboard, and in a library. I worked as a night watchman and as a programmer at a radio station while I was going to college. I also installed underground sprinkler systems and garage doors on weekends. I had a stint one summer as a fishing guide in the Adirondacks. I played bass guitar in group that did bar gigs. I was a photographer. I worked as a machienest (only for one day). Then I worked in bio research where we were doing experiments turning human umbilical cords into bio grafts. Then I spent a few years working for the Post office, and got out before killing any one. I’ve worked in a bakery, and in a medical office doing insurance billing. I’ve done computer repair and consulting.

I now do agricultural things and I create and work with databases and web sites. I do a little writing and teaching on the side. I do some public speaking as well. I do some publishing and I make custom wood furniture pieces. The big money from the 80s is gone as is my ambition. I’d rather do lots of little things than one big thing these days.

Though it goes against the grain of all the claims of advanced education, I'll be the first to admit that except for one database class, all the college classes I've ever had not one has ever had any relevance to the jobs I have taken. All the time and money that I and my parents spent on my education was pertty much a waste. None of it prepared me for anything and hasn't been useful yet. My important learning has been totally on my own. Yes I still take a class every now and then. It makes me wonder if someone who spends their entire life focused upon one task can render as much joy as I have with my many and varied interests.

Monday, November 06, 2006

No, You're Not Crazy, It's Called Fibromyalga

It seems to me that it has become an epidemic. I just realized that I know 8 local women with Fibromyalgia. I’m sure I know at least 10 more who are suffering in silence thinking they are crazy and are yet to be diagnosed.

Fibromyalgia(FM) is a condition that is most often developed by women and was earlier called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This is a misnomer because those with FM most often have CFS, but those with CFS don't necessarily have FM . The symptoms of FM are: Fatigue that interferes with work and daily activities; sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up feeling tired); morning stiffness; headaches; chronic pain; constipation or diarrhea related to irritable bowel syndrome, restless leg syndrome, bruxism, memory problems and difficulty concentrating; anxiety and/or depression.

The condition falls in to the category of Rheumatology, and is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed because physicians attempt to treat individual symptoms, and not the entire disease. Many, better yet MOST physicians know nothing about FM.

The latest research states that most problems start with poor sleep cycles. FM sufferers have easily disturbed sleep cycles which interrupts the replenishment of dopamine in the body. Without an ample supply of dopamine muscles can not repair the damage they receive on a day to day basis, so each day the FM inflicted get worse and worse to a point of exhaustion and chronic pain. The body also lacks a good quantity of growth hormones.

Doctors will do a back flip and a happy dance if you walk into their office with Lupus, but walk in with Fibromyalgia and they will do all they can to convince you to look for help elsewhere. This is because other than some changes in diet, the only other treatments are pain management, sleep management and triger point injections. Physicians are so gun shy with everyone trying to work them for drugs that many out-right refuse to get into chronic pain management.

What can be done if you think you have FM? Discuss it with your physician and see how receptive and knowledgeable they are on the subject. If your doctor becomes a stone wall, start searching for a doctor with an open mind who keeps up with modern medicine.

FM clinics are starting to pop up around the country. The first and best research clinic is in Portland, Oregon. You will be asked to have some blood work done to rule out some conditions that mimic FM symptoms. You may want to have a sleep study done as well after the diagnosis is confirmed.

An internet search should yield a local support and information group. There is one is Seaside. The groups are a great way to keep up with the day to day advances in treatments.

Fibromyalgia can become a disability. Getting into a treatment regime can hold the condition at bay for many years. Unfortunately, this is one that doesn’t get better on its own, but it can be managed, somewhat.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I once heard a story about Picasso. He was having coffee with an American and the American told him that he didn’t like his (Picasso’s) art because it was unrealistic. “ No one has two noses and three eyes,” he said.

Picasso asked the American if he had a photo of his girlfriend with him and asked to see it. The American took a wallet sized photo out of his wallet and handed it to Picasso. Picasso looked at the photo with a puzzled look on his face and then asked the American, “Is she really this small?”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Let's Rest Here for a Moment and Catch Our Breath

Maybe you are rather new to this blog and you don’t have time to read all the crap I write and have stored in my archives. Articles have been flowing in nearly every day since May. To help you feel like you have any working knowledge of this blog I will try to get you caught up with some of the language, definitions, history and rules here. OK, let’s go!

Birks are Birkenstocks, which I wear when I’m not wearing muck boots. I can’t tie a knot to save my life. I don’t have an ass, it’s flat like an old white man ass. Don’t ever ask me to say grace. Don’t ever invite me to a pot luck. Sick days are not days where I stay home and vomit. These are days, usually once per month when I sound off about things that make me sick, or piss me off. Clatsop County is known as Dried Salmon County here. Anything with “Clatsop” in its name gets changed to “Dried Salmon.”

I never used to post on Sundays unless I was really pissed off by someone or something. My stats show that I have more visitors on Sunday than Saturday, so I try not to disappoint people who surf over on the weekends. Sunday is also a day of Contrition when I post my errs and apologies for the preceding week. If I have nothing to confess you get to read a regular article.

Do not like Warrenton, Cannon Beach or Gearhart. I don’t like Seaside either, but I do respect it. I feel sorry for Hammond. I am indifferent about Jewell. I like Astoria, and Brownsmead, and I don’t know how I feel about Knappa/Svenson…my opinion on them changes daily.

I don’t like garbage, waste and plastic and I vigorously promote recycling. I am very into natural agriculture and knowing from where my food comes. I dislike most of Corporate America, and Lars Larson. I don’t like clothing that advertises products. I can’t stand dogs at the Sunday Market. I love music and art, but am very critical of musicians and artists. The Untied Way is evil.

I love the County and State Fair. I hate telephones and love cup cakes. I love BLTs and trains. I am nostalgic, but I don’t fear the future. I can’t stand harmonicas, and at times I have a dirty mouth. I most definitely have a vulgar mind. My eye sight is going and I hate the diamond industry. Use of the phrase, "Rat Bastards!" must be immediately followed with the prases, "Dirty Rat Bastards!", "All of them!"

As for those who comment on the blog:
I do not normally delete comments. I have deleted a few unintentionally. I did delete a comment by Gearhead once, and now he deletes his own inflammatory comments before he posts them, but blames me, your humble narrator and blog administrator, by including "my" deletion text in his message. Believe it or not, Gearhead is a very dear friend and devils advocate. He really isn’t an asshole in real life. We are in the same type of agricultural business and he is highly respected expert and leader in his field.

Thartill has a local political blogNorth Coast Oregon A lot of it is way over my head due to my short political attention span, along with my bouts of lethargic apathy over the things that lead up to a vote. I have to give him credit for not being a douche bag like most political blog hosts. Yes he has passion, yet he isn't a douche bag, go figure...

Moosehead and Boo7 are Canadians. Please be gentle with Boo7, she’s a sweet heart, but feel free to mess with Moosehead; he has a French lower half. I’m not going to explain that one. You’ll have to ask him. Most people who reply have very interesting blogs of their own, so please check them out. Carrie and Mel come to mind as two very talented Oregon bloggers. Then there are all the kids up in Seattle. Dang, I will get to all of you in the future.

Blog Rules:
1. If you call me an asshole you have to type LOL right after the word.
2. No one gets to pick on Syd, ever. If you want to do that you have to do it at her blog, but be prepared to have 30 people kick your ass all over the internet. You will be left sitting in your house with the lights off like a Jehovah’s Witness on Halloween.

OK, you're pretty much caught up now, so let's move ahead.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And the Heavens Opened...

So I turn on the computer at 4AM, and I find an email from Les Krims regarding the blog post here earlier this week.


I discovered some very kind words about me at your site, which I certainly don't deserve. But thanks.

How's the agriculture business?

Things in Buffalo don't change much.


Les Krims

P.S. I've attached a picture made of me this summer on Martha's Vineyard. The picture was made by a very fine photographer named Stephen DiRado, who I met as he walked off a beach about 1/2 hour before sunset, his 8"x10" camera slung over his shoulder. We met on a different beach on the Vineyard about 12 years ago at the same time of day. Neither of us photographed the other 12 years ago. This time Stephen photographed me. In 12 years it will be my turn to photograph him. Ain't life strange?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What Really Counts in Politics

Pollsters can do and say what they wish. They can try to predict who will win and who will lose elections with scientific methods that boast their stats are plus or minus 3 percentage points of total accuracy. They try to screen certain demographics, and base it all as scientific evidence. What science are they using; Mathematical or Political science? Candidates pay a lot for poll results. They think they can tailor their campaigns to adjust their numbers come Election Day.

OK politicians, I’m about to save you a lot of polling money on your next election. When you want to know who will win the election get a good photo of the candidate you are running against, and hold it up next to your face in the mirror. Who is better looking? That’s who wins.

Only a few of your supporters care about your issues, they only care about who looks better. OK, take Kevin Manix against Ron Saxton. Manix looks like a dweeb, like Regis Philbin. Face Saxton against Kulongowski, and Saxtons beady eyes and the fact he doesn’t open his crooked mouth makes him look like a bully, so I predict Ted, the better looking well dressed little man will win.

You don’t believe me? Let’s look at some recent history: Kennedy vs. Goldwater; Gerald Ford vs. Jimmy Carter; Bush vs. Kerry. By all rights Gore won against Bush. Yes, I’m aware that Nixon doesn’t follow the mold, but maybe if McGovern had more hair, who knows?

OK what about Clinton vs. Bush senior? Both are relatively good looking men, so what was the deciding factor there? Barbara Bush looked like George Washington with boobs. Hillary’s better looks pushed Bill Clinton over the top.

Yes, my friends; as sad as it may be, it’s all about good looks. We are that shallow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Tillamook is a very odd town. It is Seaside without the glitter. I stay out of Tillamook because I understand that if they don’t like you down there they stuff you with cheese and roll you in cow shit. Just kidding, really, I just like to say that. To me being stuffed with cheese and being rolled in cow shit is just a funny image that my brain conjures up from time to time. I guess it all stems from the first things that confront you as you enter town from the North. First you see the Tillamook Cheese Factory and a little further down the road you start smelling the cow shit. Locals, am I right or not?

After that introduction you continue through down town and shortly then after you are on your way out. The final thing you notice upon your exit is the one remaining enormous blimp hanger which is now a museum that houses aircrafts.

OK this is going to sound reminiscent of a Mom Blog, but one time we were driving down the coast, and my wife’s youngest son, who was 7 years old at the time, sees the giant building ahead and asks, “Why do they have a museum for air?”