Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Cutting Room Floor

I suppose honesty often goes hand in hand with social ineptness. Maybe it’s the child like quality in us all that often makes us blurt things out that better judgment wouldn’t allow us to utter had we given a topic reasonable forethought.

I knew that traffic would be bad, and I promised someone a week before that I would meet them for coffee in town. It was a beautiful day so I rode my bicycle six or so miles into town knowing full well that traffic and parking would be nearly impossible.

The event was the Mighty Mo. The USS Missouri was visiting our fair city and it brought droves of people over the roads and bridges to Astoria. A bicycle was the only reasonable form of transportation if you needed to be anywhere on that day.

I was early, so I cycled around Smith point and I was easily able to get down to the port, where lines of people stood waiting to walk upon the teak decks of history. As I stood watching an historical event of all these people coming to Astoria, I found myself being scanned by a television news camera. A TV news reporter stepped beside me and asked one of those lame news questions like,” What do you think of the crowds coming to Astoria?”

I didn’t hesitate when I blurted out the answer. “It’s funny if you think of it, but every one of the people here will probably flush a toilet at least once during their stay. I’d hate to be at the sewer lagoon today.”

Needless to say, they had no follow-up questions for me after that. I watched the news that night and saw that I had ended up on the cutting room floor.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Les Krims

I studied Photography back in the day when the greats had names like Diane Arbus, Duane Michaels and Jerry Uelsmann. These artists reigned supreme over the surrealistic realm of darkrooms with emulsion and chemicals.

However one photographer reigned above those I have deemed as the greatest. To me Les Krims was god of all things visual. I first came across a book by Krims in 1970, in which the photo above appeared. I couldn’t tell if the person above was legless or if it was cleaver manipulation on Krims’ behalf.

I spent many hours pouring over Les’s work with a magnifying glass. The detail of his often arranged backgrounds could not be fully appreciated just seeing it on the surface.

A few years ago I Googled Les and found his address in Buffalo, NY. I wrote him a letter to thank him for changing the way I have viewed things over the past 30 years. A week or so later I got a letter from him. He told me of the new digital direction he had taken and included some samples of his work in thumbnail printed at the bottom of his letter. He asked me a question, which invited me to correspond again, which I did. I asked him some questions as well.

I asked why his work seems to have slipped into obscurity and why he seemed to have faded into the background with the other greats only being remembered by those who were students of the art in the 70s. Les did his best to hide the bitterness that he felt in his heart. It seems that one week he was getting awards and commissions, and the next week the National Organization of Women placed him on the hit list as a pornographer. It nearly ruined his career and his teaching position.

Yes, Les photographed nudes, everyone did. He even photographed his mother in the nude, she was a willing model. Les photographed himself in the nude as well. Some shots had sexual innuendo but most were just interesting compositions with a funny, quirky angle.

I have since collected many of his series, Stack O Wheat Murders, Dear Slayers…

If you would like to sample a comprehensive website about his body of work, please visit:

To this day I am touched that one of the early gods of photography took the time to read my words and respond twice. If you are curious as I was, yes, the man in the photo above was legless.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Animals Within

You know what would be interesting? What if humans were hairy like dogs or cats? We could come with all sorts of different coats and we wouldn’t need clothing, just like your pets. You could actually say things to your friends like “His/her wire hair drives me crazy!” and “What a coat!” or “He/she can shed in my bed anytime.

It’s a fun idea, isn’t it? This all sounds pretty cool until you are poolside one day and you see this guy with an ape-like hairy back. He turns around and the front is as hairy as the back. Suddenly this hairy human concept starts sounding bad. You know, I don’t have anywhere else to go with that topic, but I just figured I’d share it with you. Feel free to take it for a ride on your own. There’s lots to explore.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pay Phones

I was recently parked outside of a building that had a public telephone in prominent display. There was a woman talking on the pay phone and she was in tears. Not fifteen feet away there was a man leaning his back against the building talking on his cell phone. He was smiling and laughing.

I thought about this scene, and it occurred to me that that most of the time I see people talking on their cell phones they are smiling and happy and most of the times I’ve seen people on pay phones they are sad and sometimes crying.

Thinking back to the time before cell phones, the only time I ever used a pay phone was when I was very sad, remorseful, or badly needed someone’s assistance. It was when I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been and needed to get away from as quickly as possible, or when I urgently needed to apologize to someone and it couldn’t wait until I got home.

Pay phones were not casual things like cell phones. They required a commitment and a pound of flesh. Before phone cards, one actually had to use a coin from your pocket that was warmed by their skin inside their pant leg. Your communication time was limited. When the time ran out you had to add more money or risk losing the connection. The connection was tenuous at best.

Maybe cell phone users are happier because they have forty-plus dollars of disposable lucre they can part with every month just so they can say hi while they drive and menace other drivers and pedestrians with their lack of concentration. Maybe the pay phone users are sad because they are tethered by a two-foot metallic cord, and they have to constantly be aware of the time and financial constraints.

As for myself, I have no reason to call anyone. I am neither happy nor sad about it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Kid in the Candy Shop

As Halloween approaches it isn’t uncommon to find a bowl of candy at reception desks of local business offices I have the occasion to visit. Many of the wrappers have the same look they had when I was a child, except now they are hermetically sealed in plastic, so no one can get in them with evil intent and cover their tracks. Safety of the foods we put in our bodies is a concern, however this also covers up something that I found fascinating as a child; the smell.

Across the street from the elementary school I attended was a house in an unassuming sort of neighborhood. The houses were the type you would see in any industrial town, but this house had an odd addition attached to its side that jutted toward the street. It was built in a time when many businesses were run from rooms added onto the proprietor’s home.

Mrs. Topnik ran a candy shop from her home. It was the kind of place where a kid with a nickel could make out pretty well. She had some offerings that were as inexpensive as 5 for a penny. More than the convenience of popping across the street during recess or stopping by before walking home from school, the thing that always brought me back was the smell. Upon entering her store you were confronted by the sound of the bell on the door which summoned Mrs. Topnik to walk from her home through a curtain into her shop. You were also confronted with every possible candy smell that was off-gassing on her shelves. You could actually taste the air. It was the smell of all the candy varieties blending together to make a wonderful opera for the olfactory senses.

Mrs. Topnic was, as I remember, a frail older woman who looked as though she was nervous around children. Her shop was open six days a week. Her shop was closed forever by the time I entered high school. Her oak and glass candy cases sat empty and her son was storing some of his things in the shop.

I can still hear the squeak of the spring on her screen door, and I can still see in my mind some of the signs she had in her shop. My mind has accumulated forty years of clutter since those days, but still I remember that beautiful smell that simply can’t happen any more now that everything is sealed in plastic.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Long House

I recently had an out of town speaking engagement in a populated area. Living in the country I rarely find myself among a large group of people. It takes some mental adjustment for me to meet with a large group. I start my adjustment period while driving through the suburbs where I can see houses and condos from the freeway. They are close together with small plots of land that rest behind fences. I think of all the work my land requires and how easy it would be to manage the postage stamp back yards behind these homes.

One item I find striking is the amount of roofs one can see from the freeway. It is indeed a petroleum product composition world out there. I see all those new condo roofs and realize that they will all need to be replaced within 20 years. What a shame. Pete Seger’s song, “Little Boxes” always comes to mind.

I wonder, if I had to live in a populated area, would I be able to stand the standard suburban house or condo? My answer is that I’d prefer not to, but what would I find acceptable? Then it came to me; Courtyard by Marriot.

If you’ve never stayed in one, they are usually large hotels with a courtyard in the center which is totally enclosed within the building. The courtyard is garden like with water features. There is usually a restaurant somewhere in the mimicked outdoors.

Upon further thought, consider a shopping mall. Imagine having a building like a big indoor shopping mall. Get rid of all the stupid mall shops like Victoria’s Secrets, Orange Julius, Pottery Barn and turn the shops into apartments. Sure some community shops can stay, but they would be normal community shops like a butcher, a baker, a market and a library. There would be a lot of natural light from above and indoor plants.

The advantages would be numerous, such as fewer building materials needed to accommodate all the homes and shops. This would use far less land than the equivalent shelter and shop space would require in a single dwelling neighborhood. Crime would be reduced if not totally eliminated. A sense of community would be enhanced. Energy could be saved. The environment can be controlled for recreation when it is hot, rainy or cold outdoors.

Think of the job you presently have. Would it be possible to have your place of work in this environment? Could the business you work for be head quartered in this environment? It probably could unless you work in transportation or in industry.

This building could have attached schools and a hospital. Everything could be under one roof.

No, I'm not planning on giving up the farm, but if for some reason I had to it just makes more sense to live in a community under one roof. Almost like a later version of a long house.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Tram

I recently went up to OHSU (Oregon Health and Sciences University) and had a tour of the new building at the top end of the tram. The high-cost tram with major budget over-runs is a pretty impressive beast. All and all the “Wow Factor” is well worth the price. This tram is something really unique about Portland. The view of the valley and river below are phenomenal.

Back when the hospital on the hill first opened, no one could have possible envisioned how big a complex it would become. I am impressed that there is still room to expand.

Parking can be a major challenge and this tram should alleviate some of the trouble. I would be willing to bet the OHSU complex hires more people for parking control than are hired for most industries here on the coast.

This tram and the complex is the work of visionaries. Yes, it all comes at a high price and there are a lot of bitter taxpayers and neighbors. However, future Portland residents will appreciate it one day for what it really is and what it means to the community.

I’m sure there was a lot of bitching over every bridge that was built in Portland. There was a lot of bitching about the Astoria/Megler Bridge, called at the time the bridge to no where. Now that they are there, they are used and we hate it when they are closed down for any reason. They are the focus of art and design. They are touch stones to our community.

Humans have a strange ability to become very fond of things that facilitate our transportation. We used to love our horses and now we are fond of our cars. We are fond of certain roads we travel, and certain bridges we cross. Any time I travel I will see a road or a bridge that reminds me of home. We have some remarkable bridges in Oregon, Yaquina Bay, St. Johns, Old Youngs Bay are among my favorites. Having driven on bridges such as The George Washington, The Tapanzee, the Golden Gate and the Brooklyn Bridge, the three Oregon Bridges I mentioned are small in comparison but their architecture can stand up to the design of any famous bridge.

Like the bridges, the OHSU Tram is remarkable as well and will soon be loved as a distinct land mark of Portland.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Signs of the Future

I know I’ve touched on this subject before in one of the Sick Day posts, but… I find political signs offensive. Have you ever been convinced to vote for someone by a sign on someone's lawn? Lawn signs are a simple reminder that there are people you agree with and the others with the opposing signs are assholes. It comes down to support. No matter whom your candidate is, all that plastic crap on the lawns of America will end up as land fill. What a shame that no matter how much you campaign on environmental issues your political and your campaign legacy is plastic garbage that will take thousands of years to disintegrate.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sick Day VI

I am sick that when I went back to the scene of the crime, I discovered that the rat bastard cop pulled me over two miles past the city limit of North Plains. No way was he following me within city limits. This will be the last time I will speak of the incident. I’m sick of aspartame. I’m sick of Vegans. Can vegan babies breast feed? Can vegans have oral sex? Can vegans have sex? I think not! That would be exploiting another living creature for personal benefit. Shouldn’t this result in the same outcome as the Shakers? I’m sick of the color brown, and while I’m at it, lime green can go to hell as well. I’m sick that Costco has had Christmas stuff on sale since September. Speaking of Costco, I get physically sick (motion sickness) when I walk in there and see all those televisions tuned to the same station…it friggen makes me dizzy. (Yeah, I’m a woos.) I am sick of political pundits, conservative and progressive alike. If they think they have all the answers they should run for office and change the world. If not, shut the fuck up!

There I feel better now… Oh one more thing, I'm sick that the Wal*Mart talk is starting up again. I'll leave you with a bonus photo.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dang it!

Dang it! I deleted this post and all the comments, so here it is without all your comments. Sorry folks! (Note contrition for next week)

Since I have nothing to confess or feel sorry about I'm just going to fill space with something I wrote back in July. I think the creepy photo has prevented me from posting it sooner, and I just want to get the whole thing out of my "to be posted pile."

By the way I feel a "Sick Day" coming on strong for tomorrow...

Every day life is now Comedy…Tragedy…..Comedy…Tragedy

I wake up in the morning...Comedy

I look in the mirror...Tragedy

I check my email and upload an article to the blog...could go either way...

I check my friends blogs...usually Comedy

I tend to the animals...Comedy

I have breakfast...Tragedy (health concerns)

I look at what I need to do that day...Comedy

When I get paid…comedy…no…tragedy…well maybe a little of both

I check out the news...Tragedy
From there the day is usually an equal balance of comedy and tragedy until I check the blog before I go to bed to make sure no one dropped me a duce in the comments.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ohhhh Baby!

I find it odd that humans have adopted the word “Baby” into their language of love. Last week Mel had an article titled, “Baby, I lied.” Syd was trying to take a photo of K’s face and got the finger instead, Syd’s comment was “Come on Baby…just turn around for one picture.”

Baby is something I’ve never cooed to anyone. What exactly is the baby likeness of an adult human? I could understand if the one you call “baby” has really soft skin, cries at least 20 times a day and shits their pants, but adults have pubic hair, scars, gum disease and language skills. They aren’t babies.

I know a group of women who are known as “The Babes,” which still gives me the chills when I call one of them “a babe.” But they insist, and I comply. Their estrogen influences me in ways I can’t even begin to understand.

I know it’s all acceptable endearment language, but couldn’t the phrase and word coiners come up with something better? Something a little less...how shall I say it...a little less disgusting.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yeah? Who's Asking?

I get e-mail (yes, if you poke around my profile you can find my e-mail address) from people who want to tell me something, but don’t want to post a comment on the blog. That’s fine, I welcome all comments however they come to me. I also get a lot mail from people who asks who I am. Another Blog thinks that I am a Canadian ex-patriot who lives on a boat, and I can see where that confusion would come from since when I started this blog I used a name that was a sort-of tribute to Hunter Thompson. There is another blog replier out there who use that name, so I dropped it…

I think there are fewer than 10 people who do know I am associated with this blog. It doesn’t matter who I am. I am “the Guy who writes this blog.”

It’s better not knowing. Think back to when the Mouth of the Columbia was doing his weekly restaurant review anonymously. He was shielded from people knowing who he was, and I think he was able to give a much better review of a restaurant that wasn’t trying to perform abnormally because they realized they had to because he might write about them. I like Richard Fensack, and I do appreciate his reviews, but they just aren’t the same as they used to be, back in the day before he came from behind the curtain.

I also remember listening to the radio a lot while I was growing up. I had a mental picture in my head of what Cousin Brucie, Jean Shepherd, Dan Ingrahm, and Don Imus looked like. The only person I wasn’t disappointed by seeing was Allison Steele. My mind developed a mental picture of the faces of the people on the radio. I enjoyed what was in my mind more than reality. Except Allison Steele was hotter than I could ever imagine.

While you question who I am, please remember I often ask myself who I am as well. I suppose this blog is fleshing me out a bit. Sometimes I even surprize myself with what I write.

So readers, if you enjoy the writing here, please add your own voice and face to it. It will be much more enjoyable to you. It doesn’t matter where the articles come from, once you read them, they belong to you. I’m not going to tell you who I am for now, unless you want to make a major cash contribution to my retirement fund, or want to give away a back-hoe with a bucket loader.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Go Fish, Please

Just when you thought something was safe to eat out there, here I come along with another warning about something very problematic that most people never regard. The problem is factory fish also known as farmed fish.

Fishing is a dangerous industry where it isn’t uncommon to hear news that several lives are lost in the cold pacific when a boat goes down. It happens all too often. The solution to this danger and loss of life is set up net pens and cages where fish can be grown and controlled and harvested in relative safety. Farming makes salmon cheap and plentiful. It sounds like a good idea, but in reality it is something that is not only an environmental disaster on many levels, but it is dangerous to human health as well.

When fish are kept and fed in net pens there will be nearly 40,000 fish in a 90 X 90 X 90 foot pen. In this concentrated state, sea lice are passed from fish to fish. The fish waste becomes concentrated falling to the sea floor in like a toxic mat that kills crabs and shellfish. The surrounding water is akin to a raw sewage dump, with the fish ingesting large amounts of their own waste which ends up back in their tissue that people eat.

Other than fecal waste there is also a cocktail of noxious substances such as contaminated feed, toxic chemicals and artificial colorings. Chemicals used on salmon farms include anti-parasitics to kill sea lice, antifoulants to kill fouling organisms such as barnacles and mussels on the nets, antibiotics to treat infectious diseases and artificial colorings to dye the flesh of the farmed salmon pink.

Farmed salmon also escape from time to time, polluting the gene pool of the wild salmon by interbreeding with them. They spread diseases that the Pacific salmon have no defense against. A report published in 2003 by the Royal Society of London proved conclusively that repeated escapes from salmon farms could lead to extinctions in wild salmon populations. Mass escapes of alien Atlantics into the Pacific waters of British Columbia are now so common that Atlantic salmon have been found breeding in rivers and streams across Canada and have been caught as far away as Alaska.

There is a difference in the food quality of a natural wild salmon as opposed to farmed salmon. In their natural state, wild salmon eat algae, which are rich in healthy omega-3 fats, or "good" fats. When we eat the fish, we, in turn, consume those healthy fats. Wild salmon also swim freely so they're lean.
Farmed fish on the other hand have high levels of PCBs and other toxins and high levels of fat of the non omega-3 variety.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database, this is how the two types of fish compare:
Farm-Raised vs. Wild Salmon, 8-ounce Serving
Calories: 466 farm-raised; 413 wild
Total Fat: 28 grams farm-raised; 18.5 grams wild
Saturated Fat: 5.72 grams farm-raised; 2.84 grams wild
Protein: 50 grams farm-raised; 57.6 grams wild

When you purchase seafood, a lower price should speak volumes to you as a consumer. Look for packaging that assures you the fish is wild. Better yet buy it right off the boat if you have the opportunity. The only things possibly worse than factory fish, is supporting the industry and eating their toxic products.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Collection

I don’t know why I continue to do it. It’s a Yankee thing or an October thing I guess. I can’t resist buying a copy of the Farmers Almanac when I see it arrive on the shelf. I have a collection of these annual almanacs dating back to 1972.

I don’t know why I get it, especially since it was Yuppified a few years back. I don’t care for the trend predictions (they are almost always wrong). I don’t care about the tide tables, I use the one from City Lumber. I don’t care about the lunar cycles, if the night has clear skies it’s usually a full moon, if not, it isn’t full. I don’t care about the year in advance inaccurate weather predictions. I don’t care much for the recipes or puzzles. I don’t care about the planting tables… Yet every year I buy a copy of this publication. I think it used to cost Seventy-Five cents; it is now close to Five dollars.

This year I got it on October 1st, and I haven’t even opened it yet. I may not open it because the idea of the publication is usually far better than the reality of the publication itself. I really should sell the whole collection on ebay and put it all behind me.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Willis is Back!

Let's Celebrate!

Having the Final Say

The photo above is of how someone got the last word. The Last Word can be fun, and think of all the last words that have yet to be discovered.

I find it very interesting how many people are critical of the Daily Astorian. This is our five-day a week daily news paper. They are accused of bad writing, bad editing, self serving editorials, favoring certain people, giving no credence to others. If you have a honeymoon with the paper you can do well with their coverage, but when that honeymoon is over, it’s over and you will pay.

A few years ago someone submitted a poem, which was printed and all the copies were distributed before someone found a problem. The problem was that if you lined up the first letter of each line it spelled “Forrester Sucks.” (He is the owner and managing editor). Heads must have rolled on that day. A poet got the last word over a journalist. This is so rare. I wonder if it is now someone’s job to look over submitted copy to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The College Bond

Every where I go I hear opposition to the proposed new campus for Clatsop Community College, (that’s Dried Salmon Community College.) I am hearing all this sour grapes crap from Warrenton, and I’m hearing people in Astoria whining about the relocation of the football field.

So in essence the opposition comes from people who want us to spend twice as much on infrastructure than is needed, and from a group that holds sacred a giant lawn that gets used probably only 100 hours per year.

Aside from those asinine reasons there is a host of other reasons people are against it, like those who think everything will be alright if they put in elevators in the present CCC buildings, and those who like the view of the present campus. Let’s not forget those who don’t like the College president, the former President, or Board members, or even some instructors.

When it all boils down, there is one reason that is undeniable as to the immediate need of a new campus. The reason is energy. If you visit the campus as I did recently you will see that every window, and there are a hell of a lot of them, most facing north… every window is single pane glass. Can you imagine the cost of heating five or six massive buildings with single pane glass? Think of the old home you bought. Probably the first major thing you did was to replace the windows, or buy storm windows, and I bet you replaced the furnace with something more efficient. I’ve done this to two homes already and the energy savings was not only noticeable but drastic.

So all you tax payers who vote against the new campus should be prepared to shell out the dollars to heat these old dinosaurs until the buildings fall down. You can either pay for it now letting some of the State grant funds assist, or you can continue having your tax dollars fly out all those un-insulated windows. Your call.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Contrition II

I had it pointed out to me that I misspelled border in my Contrition article last Sunday. I spelled it ”Boarder” and I was indeed talking about a boundary rather than a lodger. See folks, I’m falling apart. I also misspelled continent in a reply, spelling it cointenent. That was picked up by my elderly Canadian friend, who takes great pride in finding fault with your humble narrator. Everyone needs a hobby…

Speaking of contrition, I did my speeding ticket diversion on the Internet this week. It is pretty funny and lame. Each exercise came with multiple choice questions and some essay questions, which are obviously not taken into consideration as to if you pass of fail the diversion program.

I consider myself to be honest and open, to a point. I am also intolerant of certain forms of bull shit. So when essay questions were required for statements like “What will you do to prevent yourself from making the same traffic mistakes?” My answers went along the lines of, “I will use my cruse control and avoid speed trap towns like North Plains whose budget is a pot of filthy lucre gained from those who pass through on a state highway.” Or “I was just going with the flow of traffic and they picked me out of thirty other cars in the pack, bastards…rat bastards…all of them!”

The biggest pain of the internet diversion course was that each chapter had a minimum and a maximum of time allotted. If I finished a ten minute minimum chapter in one minute it wouldn’t let me proceed until the ten minutes had gone by, so I got a few blog articles written while waiting down the clock.

So how is that for contrition? I feel better now. Do you?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Finger Nails on the Blackboard

Ask people what their least favorite musical instrument is and you will often hear, a violin (not a fiddle) that does those cat screaming classical pieces. You will hear derogatory things about the banjo from those who hate country music and/or hillbillies. You will also hear musical glass, yep that can be annoying as well. You will also hear bag pipes, and I swear if they ever play bagpipes or play Amazing Grace or Will the Circle be Unbroken at my funeral I will jump out of the box and kick as many asses as my decomposing body can muster the strength to kick.

Anyway, back to topic… My personal least favorite instrument is the harmonica. I don’t know why, but I just can’t stand it. I’ve met Toots Thielman, and I used to work with a guy who was in the Harmonitones (Yep, you need to be a real old-timer or into really obscure music to know that one.) Both excellent musicians, but their instruments drive me crazy.

I used to have to turn the sound down on the TV when ever the theme for Northern Exposure came on. To me it’s that bad.

OK, you now know yet another thing that drives me crazy. Want another? I had a person include a word in a conversation with me today that drove me nearly harmonica crazy. Get this; the word was “Discreetful.” I nearly lost my mind; I may still…

This makes me appreciate even more when I hear an excellent orator, or if I may, a cunning linguist. I appreciate it also when I read words that are so perfectly placed together that I need to go back and read them again just to remind myself of a perfect moment in bilateral literacy. Mel’s blog has my attention these days. Anyone who can come up with the phrase "Stupid tunaskank" is worth reading in my book.

If I ever compliment your writing, please be aware that I am sincere, and I actually “have to” tell you that your word and phrase positioning gave me some joy. The more I hear and the more I read, the more I hold dear that which is very good.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ello Gov-na!

The campaign for Governor of Oregon confuses me. Personally I don’t like either choice. Is Kulongowski even running? No lawn sign, no mailings; not that I’d ever be convinced to vote for someone because of a lawn sign or a piece of mail. There is just little visibility, meaning he isn’t running very hard. It makes me wonder what’s up with that. I’ve met Ted and my impression was that he was a well dressed little man. He didn’t seem to be a man of vision, but rather one of fortunate circumstances. His words were only words with little purpose or meaning, good only for sound bites.

Then there is Saxton who is promising to cut State waste by 10%, but he won’t say what he is planning to cut or even what he sees as wasteful. The only hint he may be providing is that he is for Charter Schools, which tells me he wants to further gut the school systems. The next thing that bothers me about Saxton is his supporters. Ron is promising to get rid of illegal immigrants, but when you drive in rural farm country the farmers all have big Saxton signs in their fields. These are the people who hire the illegal’s and Ron will be rounding up their employees. Now the farmers will have to pay higher wages since the only people who will do that sort of labor are illegal’s. Saxton also started the race with a negative campaign, and now he is resorting to making up statistics and selling lies over the commercial air waves. Too bad Kulongowski is choosing not to campaign at all.

Betsy, you better be in this race four years from now.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Extra, Extra, Hot News In Dried Salmon County

Normally I don't post twice in one day, but you've got to see this.


I’ve been writing some fiction where the narrator’s daughter is synesthetic. Never heard of it? It is rare, and I’ve talked extensively with someone with this condition.

Synesthesia is often describes as a continual LSD trip. It is a condition where senses cross over and present a strange sort-of sensory overload. Synesthetic people will taste sounds, feel smells and see music in the air. One telling symptom is seeing colored letters or words. A synesthetic person reading this will see each letter has its own color like the photo above, or each word will have their own color letters. Aside form the sensory overload causing difficulties in learning, imagine seeing the word “green” and the letters for this word are always pink. It would be confusing at best.

The synesthetic woman I spoke with told me that when she hears music she can see the air move the way the rest of the people see heat rising. Really loud music really distorts the air for her vision. She told me that she can physically feel a hoop when she smells bread baking. Not with her hands, just with her feelings, the way we remember things we have touched. She also hears what she tastes. She will taste things and hear certain tones.

Imagine being an undiagnosed child with this condition wondering why others so flatly describe the things they are describing.

My wife’s children are both red/green color deficient. She figured this out when they brought home pictures from school and all the evergreen trees they drew were all brown. Red, green and brown all look the same to them. They also favored the color yellow because it is a color they can see vividly.

Is it any wonder there are so many points of view to every topic. Some people see more or less than others. Yet we seem to co-exist in spite our senses or lack there of.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Winters

I grew up on an old Federalist style home, similar to, but smaller than the home pictured above. It was built in 1861. It had a lot of interesting features, such as pine plank floors, rolled glass windows, working shutters and this giant brass doorbell.

My father purchased the house in 1959 when I was four years old from two elderly sisters who were known as the Winter sisters. The Winter family were old money blue bloods in our town. I remember seeing them dressed in long black dresses with black boots and bonnets. They weren’t nuns or of any religious order. They were women stuck in the Victorian era.

The cool thing about this old house was that there were some cool out buildings. There was a buggy shed with a wooden floor. There were hitching posts. There was a garden shed. There was a well house with a stone walled well. There was a pulley with a chain attached to a bucket that I would send down and collect the cleanest best tasting water I’ve ever tasted.

My favorite building was a plaster walled, three seated outhouse. I have come to find that it is really uncommon to have an outhouse with plaster walls and ceiling; with a divided glass window with curtains, but it is equally uncommon to have three seats in an outhouse as well. Each hole and seat was of a different size, probably rated as child, women and men sizes. Each had a mahogany seat.

I have stayed in places that employed an outhouse (not a port-o-potty but a real structure), and on thing about them is that they have to be moved from time to time. Often times the owner will dig a new hole, build a new structure and then burn the old one or just leave it there to rot. If the structure was still sound they might be moved. This would not be possible with the outhouse on my parents’ property. It was far too large and it was attached to the garden shed and garage.

My father plumbed the house before we moved in. We never had to use the outhouse, though I occasionally did just because it was there. I wonder if the Winter sisters ever had to employ someone to scoop that thing out. I wonder what it was like for them to head out there on a 100 foot journey through snow drifts. They probably didn’t think of it. It was just the way of life and they probably found relief returning to a drafty house with a warm coal stove.

As a post script, the Winter sisters moved to another part of town. They lived in a small Cape Cod style house with indoor plumbing. I would see them working in their garden from time to time as I bicycled passed their house on my way through their neighborhood to visit friends. I never saw them in the black Victorian garb that they wore when the lived in the house we purchased from them. They dressed in flower pattern old lady dresses now that they had a more modern house.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tales of a Dirty Mouthed Boy

I’ve recently commented on Sassy’s blog to tell her that I love it when she talks dirty. She had a rant going on where she used the word “Fuck” several times.

It got me thinking about why my attention is always drawn toward the vulgar tongue or toward statements with colorful and rude interpretations. There was a flash in my head and then I remembered Rudy Ray Moore and the Signifying Monkey.

This was at the time when nearly every teenager knew every word of all the George Carlin and Cheech and Chong routines. Comedy recordings sold very well. I was but a teen when someone gave me an 8-track tape. They said, ”You’ve gotta listen to this…you’ll laugh you guts out…Skip ahead to this track with the monkey”

I had been familiar with vulgar conversations as any white 17 year old kid growing up in the suburbs of New York City would have been. Here I was holding a tape that would take my education in vulgarity to a whole new level. Rudy Ray’s photo was on the cover. He was surrounded by bare breasted women. I took the tape to my powder blue 1972 Grand Torino Sport with a white vinyl roof and the 8-track player.

“Way down in the jungle deep, the bad assed lion stepped on the signifying money’s feet…” Rudy Ray’s voice had all the power of a late night fire and brimstone preacher with Southern black affectations upon his gravelly voice. This was the sound that 17 year old suburban white boys were protected from hearing all their lives. It was akin to having a nickel bag, culturally forbidden, yet fun.

Rudy Ray was himself signifying his eight minute poem that is based on African folk tales, and also hinted at in the song, “Straighten up and fly right.” It is a poem of insult, innuendo, pride, lies, remorse, and most of all the filthiest language you’ve ever heard.

I was changed at that moment. I realized there were others who actually spoke the way I spoke to myself in my mind. I have no idea where that tape or that car is today, but the words are still with me. If you want to hear it, here is a link, and click on the Signifying Monkey

So if you ever go mad and lace your blog articles with colorful, vulgar, disgusting language and insults; I will be there reading with joy because someone writes the way I speak to myself inside my own head. I’ll probably leave you a comment telling you I love it when you talk dirty. And I truly do.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

I know I'm late putting this article up (or realy early), but I figure if the Capital Press can sit on this story for three weeks, so can I.

I am often surprised by the number of blogs are out there that are dedicated to fiber arts and knitting. When I happen across one of them I don’t discard them and move on. I linger and check them out. The reason is that I just came very close to getting a herd of fiber goats. These would be Cashmere, Angora and Pygora breeds of goats. I wanted to diversify some of my agricultural intentions, and it seemed doable on the small amount of acreage (10) that we own.

A couple weeks ago we went to the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival at the Fair Grounds in Canby. This is Mecca for anyone involved in any fiber art. There were hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of visitors, (and unfortunately only two food vendors). There were some amazing things to see at the Festival, and amazing tools as well.

I was expecting to see a bunch of earth mothers and people in home made clothing, but in reality there were men and women from ever imaginable social environment. There were children and great grandmothers working fiber side by side. There were men pumping away at spinning wheels making yarn as thin as thread. There was a woman knitting four socks in the round with one set of needles. There were looms.

This Festival is free admission and free parking. Classes that are offered for a fee and early registration is recommended.

We visited with many of the fiber animal keepers, and after talking about all the fencing requirements we stepped away from the idea. It is said that if your fence can hold water, you might be able to keep a goat in it. Also we heard that animals full of fleece can pass through an electric fence because their fleece insulates them from shocks. We decided we don’t need a pasture full of something akin to human two-year-olds with their disappearing abilities.

Make plans to attend next September if you have any association with fiber arts.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I’ve received some correspondence where the writers stated that they wished I would post an article seven days a week. Their Sunday is a void without entertainment. My first reaction was to tell them to get a life, but upon further consideration I realized what they meant, somewhat.

I grew up in a state with ”Blue Laws”, which meant that just about all stores were closed on Sunday. I don’t recall how it all was, but you could buy food but not clothing on Sundays. Grocery stores and restaurants were just about the only thing open on Sunday. If you needed something, or if Sunday was the only day of the week you could shop you would end up crossing the border to the next state enhancing their economy.

Blue laws were derived out of the Jewish and Christian “Day of Rest” concept, though many Christian and Jewish groups use Saturday as their “Day of Rest.” So why do I take Sundays off? I’m an Atheist I shouldn’t take any day off. It simply comes down to the fact there are few people who read blogs on Sunday, and by not publishing a Sunday articles I write 52 fewer articles a year. Let’s face it, if someone came up to you and asked you to write 52 articles, could you?

OK, OK, I’m getting off the track here. The point is that I kind of miss posting articles on Sunday, so I’m going to commit Sundays to be a day of Contrition. This will be the day when I publish corrections and apologies for errors and transgressions of the previous week. See, after all these years the Catholic guilt still runs deeply within me…

This week on the blog in the Diamond Story I incorrectly stated the book my wife was reading was “Honeymoon with my Brother”, but the book was called “The Grail” by Brian Doyle.

Next I misspelled spatula in the Kitchen article. My eyes are going and I picked the incorrect word in the spell checker. I picked specula.

My apology this week goes to Lucy. I really am sorry, but it is best, you’ll see.

So I may return next Sunday if I mess up or offend (and feel bad about it).

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Eyes Have It

Everyone hopes for a long life, and Americans are living longer than any generation before us. At the end of the 19th Century our life expectancy was 37 years. Early in the 20th Century we were up to 50 years, and currently our life expectancy is 80 years. In 200 years we have doubled our life expectancy.

How can anyone have a beef with that? Well there are several concerns, one being able to out-live our pensions. Another concern is that many body parts fail us one at a time rather than the general systemic failure that our ancestors experienced.

So by the statistics, being 51, I have several years ahead of me, but in the last year I’ve noticed my eye sight is degrading. I’ve worn contact lenses since I was in my 20’s, but now when wearing them I need to employ reading glasses. My eye doctor tells me that contacts will soon be out of the question for me, and that I will need bi-focals. He also said I am showing signs of macular degeneration. Christ, I just cut my pony tail off two years ago, and already the dominos started falling.

I’m not going to list all my age related maladies and ailments here, at least not until I’m a bit older, take up golf and fall in with the crowd that bitches about their health and brags about their grand children in every conversation. But damn it, my eyes are starting to go. I love looking at stuff. I wake up at night just to look at stuff. I beg my eyes to hold out. I want to be able to see things as I draw my last breath.

I have a friend who became blind while in his 20's. He gets along very well. He simply can’t do everything a sighted person would be able to do, but he get’s along very well. He actually does things that I would not be able to do even with eye sight.

I am lazy. I don’t want to re-learn things. I know so little right now and I need my eye sight for as long as possible. I understand that when one loses one of their senses the other remaining senses become keen in an attempt to make up for the loss. I don’t want that. I don’t want to hear better, and I’d rather my hearing go than my eyes. That way I would no longer be annoyed by all the new neighbors and their yapping dogs. Bastards…

Rat Bastards…All of them…

Friday, October 06, 2006

What's Cookin?

Think of how often you are drawn into a conversation about the differenced between men and women. I’ve blogged about it before, I am But a Man, but I find it amazing how often the differences come to the surface.

Today we will explore the difference in terms of cooking. My wife is an excellent cook, while I am an average cook. She hates to cook, I don’t mind it and it’s better than eating raw food. Often I will cook something like Baked Ziti, (East Coasters living here are now salivating) and I’ll make enough for a couple days of left-overs and some more to freeze.

Generally when I cook I use a minimal amount of tools. Maybe a pot or two, a fork, a knife and perhaps a spatula. I’ve got it down to a science where everything I use will fit in the dish washer with room to spare.

Loading the dishwasher is always my job because I have mastered how to fit things in there for one load. Normal people would need three loads to accomplish the same task.

On days when my wife gets tired of my meal plan she will sequester herself in the kitchen. There is banging and clanking and motors running for hours, and when it finally get’s quiet it’s time to eat. However all that banging and clanking isn’t a good thing as far as I am concerned. This tells me that she is using every pot, pan and tool in the house.

The sink is piled high with mixer blades, bowls, various food processor parts, every sharp blade in the house. There are pots, pans, lids, cutting board all soaking in one sink. In the other sink there are bones, eggshells, vegetable parts, empty containers and all kinds of stuff that have nothing to do with the meal. (By the way I could not find a photograph that would do this topic any justice. They weren’t severe enough or if they were severe enough they had shitty looking sinks and faucets, and I wouldn’t want people to think that the photo was of my kitchen.)

When I cook I clean as I go, when she cooks she looks for things to dirty. Remember, All I need is a knife, a fork and a pot to cook most meals. When she cooks it will be a two dishwasher load night, and at least one trip to the compost pile, one to the recycling bins. The difference between our cooking styles is amazing.

After the left-overs from last nights meal are finished I’m going to buy a weeks worth of takeout from a Chinese restaurant so the only things that get soiled will be some bowls and chop sticks. When that finished I’ll get out a fork and a pot and start all over again.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

United Way Continues to Suck

With the United Way campaign gearing up here in Dried Salmon County, I figured it is time for a friendly reminder that the United Way still sucks. The original post I did on Why United Way Sucks back in August is by far the most searched topic on this blog. Yesterday alone I had hits from Oklahoma, Georgia, Colorado, Montana and three from Oregon from people who Googled or Yahoo’ed the phrase Untied Way Sucks.

I still get comments and emails from that article. My advice, print out the article linked above, and when you are given a United Way packet, attach it as your response. Get the word out. If people hear on a commercial that the United Way is good and does good things they will believe it until they can be shown that they’ve been lied to.

After I penned the paragraphs above, I went out to retrieve my mail. There was a stamped envelope from Salem. The stamp was canceled with a Salem postmark that said United Way. So now the US Postal Service is pimping for them with cancellation marks.

This corporation has powerful tendrils sucking unaccountable billions of dollars out of nearly every private business and government agency in America. Don’t fall for it.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Poor Farm

My wife and I both grew up with parents who were children of the Great Depression. If you were born of Boomer parents, you certainly missed a rearing of those who invented frugality. My parents understood poverty, rationing and making due with
little. They understood the underground economy.

You may see a documentary on the rural poor or inner city poverty, but back in the 20’s and 30’s that was the way the entire country was living. No matter how much pride you had you still needed to eat. People went on “relief” which was the predecessor to what we now call Welfare or TANF (Temporary Aid for Needy Families.)

My wife and I were having coffee on the porch this weekend. She was reading a book, Honey Moon With My Brother, about these brothers who were touring all wineries in Oregon, and she came upon a mention of Edgefield which was once known as a County Poor Farm in Portland and is now owned by the McMenamins and is an upscale resort and winery.

She asked what ever happened to poor farms. She and I both heard our parents warn of going to the poor farm. My parents spoke of them on the east coast and hers on the west coast. We also heard a lot about the WPA (Works Progress Administration 1935-1043). My grandfather on my mother’s side died of a heart attack on a WPA bus. My father’s father was a moon-shiner and sold whiskey out of his bakery so he was in good financial shape.

Poor farms were generally County run agricultural communes for indigent persons and families; predating Social Security. Some came about in the early 1800’s and many closed as late as the 1950’s. This was a way that those who were hopelessly unemployed or unemployable to survive with a place to sleep and food to eat while still contributing something to the community.

We wondered if a “Poor Farm” concept could work again. It seems unlikely that it would. Farms are often economic sink holes and any good that would come of them would come at a very high cost. It would build character, but few marketable skills.

In a perfect world we could have poor farms or industries that trained people while getting them back on their feet. I’m talking more then what Good Will claims to do. I’m talking about total immersion and transformation. Maybe it is an idea worth revisiting on some level.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Time's Up

I was recently reading someone’s blog where they were describing waking up early and how one of their relatives had a clock that would run backwards every once in a while, and the alarm would go off at the strangest times.

This got me thinking about how reliable, and yet how unreliable our clocks are. Yes, most clocks run and run for years without problems, but I’m sure we all have a problem clock in our lives. For some it’s simply the VCR or microwave clock that needs to be reset after a brief power outage. I have seen clocks that when plugged in backwards will run backwards. You don’t see that so much anymore because they now have one prong of the plug larger than the other. In the old days it was easy to reverse the polarity and get some things to run backwards.

I do have one battery powered clock that was pretty unreliable. The minute hand would become inaccurate after a couple weeks. Within six months the clock was running about 25 minutes fast. I would start arriving places ridiculously early.

After two years with this clock I found a way to fix it. I simply removed the minute hand. Now instead of telling me the incorrect time, it gives me an impression of time. It is rare that I ever need to be somewhere exactly on time so I don’t have a watch. I haven’t worn a watch since I was sixteen.

So call it coastal casual, but I rely on impression time and I am never early of late. Now I wish I could obscure the time on the digital clocks in my life.

Monday, October 02, 2006


We, as a culture have been brainwashed to believe that diamonds are rare. The diamond, a symbol of ultimate strength and beauty, is anything but rare, however the strangle hold that De Beers Consolidated Mines Company holds over the industry is far reaching. Their brainwashing ability has been a success.

DeBeers controls the market on two thirds of the world’s diamonds. This gives them ultimate control over the supply and the price for this gem. Their mining concerns in Africa are wrought with environmental concerns and immoral labor practices. Investing only a fraction of their massive profits would remedy most of the issues, but greed rules supreme.

DeBeers does what ever it can to crush competition. As civilized citizens we should do what we can to crush DeBeers. Don’t buy diamonds, but if you must for industrial purposes, please do your homework and buy them for diamond companies with no ties to DeBeers.

Yes, there are diamond mines in the US and Canada. A little internet research will yield contact information where you can find if any particular company has dealings with DeBeers.

Remember, a diamond is a piece of coal that did well under pressure. You have the option to buy synthetic diamonds or another gem stone of equal beauty and greater relational value. So please do so.