Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Treasures Under Foot

I’ve done a lot of digging around my property. Sure I could have hired excavators and I have in the past, but every time I have done so they end up destroying something. One collapsed the top of my septic tank, another drove over some fruit trees. One even went off course to bury some utilities and dug a trench through an approved septic field rendering that field unusable.

Since then I only employed excavators on land away from the house. I’ve dug a foundation for a house addition by hand. I dug to level the land for a green house by hand. I dig all my fence post holes by hand. I dig my own drainage trenches and trenches for underground irrigation. Oddly where ever I dig I find things that were left behind years ago. Some times is garbage and broken bottles, but often it is an old toy and especially marbles.

I remember back as a child I would burry marbles. It was like burying a treasure, and to kids of my generation they were as good as currency. I figured that if I could remembered where I buried them, I’d always have access to my treasure if I needed it. It was akin to people of my grandfathers’ generation buried their money or kept it in their mattresses because they didn’t trust the Federal Reserve. I knew I couldn’t deposit my marbles in a bank, and that they would be safe in the ground. I’m sure someone has long ago dug the marbles I left in the back yard on Island Road.

I have a pint sized jar of marbles that I’ve found over the last nineteen years on the property where I now live. Sometimes I look at them and wonder if an adult who once lived here as a child will ever come to seek them out. If they do I will happily hand them over.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


You know, while I’m talking Ph.D here, I have to ask why they give out this degree to English and Writing majors. What the hell is so difficult about the English language and writing in this language that justifies a doctoral degree? One of the requirements of a Ph.D is to advance the field. Is that possible in this field of study?

Next, how is it possible to get this same degree in Physical Education? Imagine getting a Ph.D in playing games and lifting weights? Has academia lost its fucking mind? Woody Allen said that those who don’t know teach, and those who really don’t know teach Phys Ed.

Next, same thing goes for Art. I can understand a Ph.D in Art History or Art Restoration, but the other art disciplines…no… no way.

I can understand advanced degrees in just about every other subject, but not in English, Phys Ed and Art. I am sure the requirements are stringent, but they are tits on a bull…totally unnecessary.

This said, if you plan to pursue a Ph.D in one of these subjects, please do us and yourself a favor. Save your time and money. Volunteer your time doing something good and useful for humanity. Set up an exercise program for seniors, teach kids how to draw, teach people how to read and write. You don’t need the letters Ph.D after your name; trust me. You will get more respect and admiration if you just use your knowledge well and do good things for others. Really, it’s time to stop all this Ph.D nonsense.

Oh, and if you are wondering how the above photo relates...that's my Ph.D, Posthole Digger.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Adjusting Chiropractors

OK, I’ve had it up to here (holding my hand high above my head) with Chiropractors. I know you’ve spent a great deal of time learning things of anatomy and physiology, but I really think that’s it.

I do understand that they have some sort of advanced learning which entitles them to be called Doctor, or Chiropractic Physician but their understanding of anything medical stops at knowing the anatomy and physiology. Chiropractic is a practice of faith rather than science.

So what provokes my tirade? I was listening to “To Your Health” last week and Ann was interviewing a chiropractor who was trying to sell some snake oil and she, the guest, kept saying that you really need to check with your medical doctor before going on the regiment. So, what this tells me that she is a dumb shit who is trying to cover her ass from malpractice because she has no idea of what her snake oil really does.

If she were a real medical practitioner she would know exactly how her snake oil would react with other medicines and other conditions in the body. She probably does understand that by adding one thing the equation changes, but she is too lazy to find out what these things are and how to do anything about it. If you are treating medical conditions it is your duty to know what you are doing, just like if you drive a truck, it is your duty to know how to drive it.

I once had a recurring injury. I knew that taking it easy would get me back to normal in about five days. One time it happened again I decided to go to a chiropractor to see what they could do. He made it so the pain stayed with me for months. One day I had enough and canceled all future appointments. Five days later I was all better.

I know so many people who have really bought into the Wo Wo circuit, hook, line and "shrinker." (A Zappa quote) They start with a chiropractor and are then sent to the acupuncturist. Then they go to the herbalist, then to the massage therapist and reflexologist. Somehow the really special clients end up with the astrologist and the tea leaf readers. I’m sorry to all the folks who believe, but you are all being taken.

They probably have you on all sorts of supplements, which are expensive and your insurance will not pay for them; all you need to do is eat better. Everything in those snake oil pills is available naturally in one food or another. Eat a balanced diet and save your money.

Fortunately, our bodies are resilient and can recover, most of the time, from chiropractic manipulation and the nutritional supplements that are over prescribed. When a medical physician makes an error those effects are life altering if not life ending. This is because they are working with the real cause and reaction. This is where knowledge is most important because they are dealing with life and death.

Chiropractors do know their anatomy and physiology, and I will give them that. People who understand the body on that level deserve a Ph.D if they advance that science, but that is where their understanding stops and that is where they should be stopped. They shouldn’t be allowed to touch anyone. They should be able to teach biology and perhaps be expert witnesses, or even consult medical physicians. They could work with prosthetics, but they should not be manipulating a living human spine or prescribing supplements.

There is an odd balance that a physician once told me about. She said, “Sometimes I’m absolutely amazed what injury and abuse the human body can survive and I’m equally amazed that a baby will sometimes die just sleeping in its crib, or that someone will die after cutting their finger.”

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Auto Identity

Today is the final post from the Readers Revenge assignment week. I will resume posting the things I wish to remove from mind. I may do another Readers Revenge in the future. Maybe this summer. I already have a photo for it.

Anyway, in conclusion, this was requested by an anonymous person named who just got a new car.

Why is it women name their cars? Men refer to their vehicles as the car, the truck, the rig or the piece of shit, but women have to give their cars a name.

Thinking back I have never named a car, though in 1973 a girlfriend did name my off the show room floor, 1972 Grand Torino Sport. It was powder blue with a white vinyl roof and a white interior. She named it the Marshmallow. What emasculation! And I was only 17!

I also purchased a green ¾ ton pick-up truck from a woman a few years back. As I was getting in to drive it away she said, “His name is Kermit.” "God Damn you!" I thought, she just ruined it for me. I since sold it and I still see this truck around town. Every time I do I call it Kermit in my head. Damn her!

Since then I found that my wife’s family always named the family car “Bessie Lu.” She named her present car Wilber…don’t ask. The person who suggested this topic has a new car that she has named, and every time I see her I ask about it, but I change the name slightly each time. I’m having fun, but she is not amused.

I can tie this in with other theories I have about women. My theory is that women live longer than men because they are more aware of their mortality. They are more aware of their mortality because they bleed every month. Seeing ones own blood is a constant reminder of mortality. Men only see their blood when they do something stupid, and the stupidity takes center stage more than their mortality, and if they cut themselves shaving they will whine like puppies. When you are more aware of your mortallity you take better care of things, including your self.

Women are for the most part, nurturers. Adding a name adds to possessions makes the possessions part of the family, and something that needs to be cared for. Women’s autos last longer then autos owned by men. My wife’s car was purchased new in 1998. It is still as good as new. During that same period I have had five different vehicles.

I now need to add this to the list of things men don’t do and do not do they like it when someone does it for/to them. So remember most men don’t like yogurt, cottage cheese, dancing, white wine spritzers, shopping for shoes, asking directions, being kept from the TV remote, babies, Oprah, The View, Dr Phil, being verbose and naming their vehicles.

Got it, ladies? Unless you are trying to get a rise out of us and are willing to pay the price, knock it off and don’t name our cars and trucks. We know that we don’t want that sort of long term relationship with what we drive. Just like how you aren’t supposed to name a cow that you are going to eat, we don’t want to name our vehicles. We don’t want to live with the attachment and regret that will eventually come. If we start naming our vehicles we will have to start naming our screw drivers and hammers as well. Please, don’t make us go there.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Art of the Blog

Beth and Trish asked me to write about the topic; what makes a blog good, what is interesting and what is uninteresting… Mo3 added a portion about good writing. I confess that I feel like somewhat of a douche bag for even writing this, because this is my opinion only and only the way I see things with my short attention span. So since blogs are places where one may say, "Me, Me, Me", I'll move ahead with todays post.

It seemed to me that blogging was created to give the unheard a place to sound their voices and possibly be recognized. It was a very personal medium where people would share their daily experiences and share their opinions. It is a web log, which is a personal log that one places on the web. There are millions of them now, and they have crawled above the technical horizon they were once beneath to become a new wow factor of the Internet.

I only started blogging last May. Before that I had heard of it, but it wasn’t even a blip on my Internet radar. I fell upon it because I was looking for a certain local photo, and somehow I ended up at It reminded me of web sites I’ve done in the past, so a few days later I opened Astoria Rust.

I visited a lot of blogs to see what it took to hold my attention. I quickly got tired of all the blogs with photos of happy groups of Asians at restaurant tables. I tired of the blogs about women’s shoes. Family pet blogs turned my stomach as did food blogs. Mom blogs were a big turn off as well, but I did read some of them and found that many of these moms were excellent writers. Yes, they featured tales and photos of their children whom I didn’t know or even care about, but under it all were some great ideas, some great personal feelings and often great angst. My eyes were open to the literate heart and the dreams of the mini-van mafia. I also saw the intense love these women have for their families. So for me, mom blogs were not attractive from the exterior, but once inside it was another story entirely. I felt at home.

Being a child of television I have a very short attention span. I like there to be a hook. A blog needs to come at me with good writing or at least a good photo. This is why I always try to get an interesting photo to accompany my articles. I also enjoy a blog that is reliable; one that I can count on reading weekly, daily or even a couple times a day. I used to post only five or six days a week, and then I saw how my stats sagged on the day after I didn’t post and how they often took several days to recover. It was like I had betrayed my readers, so now I post seven days a week and the stats show that there are generally 100 hits a day. The readers have a ritual that I don’t want to upset.

To me a good blog should include personal stuff about the writer. I see many blogs that just take stuff off the net and turn it around into a blog post. Sometimes this is interesting, but a good story from the writer about the writer seems to make it real. It exposes the heart and soul and sometimes the underbelly. These are the writers that want people to relate to them and are willing to go the extra mile while they reach out.

Mom of 3 stated that she is totally put off by bad writing in blogs, where I am not. I am put off by bad technical writing like poorly written manuals, and more so by signs that say “10 items or less” in the check out line. It should be “10 items or fewer.” I think of blogs as internet travel. If I visit a city I expect to hear the vernacular of the city. If I visit somewhere rural I expect the vernacular of that setting. I don’t mind so much that people use or abuse the language. If they have something good to say it will rise to the surface. It’s all about an attempt to communicate. Blogging is not a professional thing; it is one person wanting to be heard and to add some meaning to all the things that are processed by their grey matter. It does drive me nuts when I see the language abused by the print media or anything that is supposed to have professional writers on staff.

Finally, the comments; Bloggers love comments. I have my blog comments sent to my email address so I don’t miss any. I like to acknowledge that I have read them with a reply back to them. Sometimes people will reply to an article I did months earlier, and I always reply back. If it was important enough to them to make a statement, I want to tell them that I read what they had to say.

So in conclusion, the blogs I like and try to emulate have an interesting illustration, brief stories often of a personal nature, and comments that get a reply from the author.

By the way, this article is too long for what I would consider to be a good post for someone with a short attention span, such as myself.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Nietzsche in Love

Lori challenged me to take on this topic “how Nietzsche can influence a relationship.” As a person of twisted honor I am compelled to continue.

Though few cheerful statements were ever published during Friedrich Nietzsche career, I have found some that could be spun with a positive message. Most of his philosophical career seemed to be based upon disrespect for religion (probably what draws me toward him), yet most other statements make me wonder why he never ended his life as a young man.

Of all things, religion is said to be a sexual and moral regulation entity. Before man invented god, people were free to live and love. Early man may not have been fully in touch with their emotions, but as evolution progressed, humankind would have come to understand it. The problem was that religion came along and stopped the evolution of love dead in its tracks. Nietzsche summed it up by saying, “Christianity gave Eros poison to drink; he did not die of it but degenerated into vice.”

Human were now armed with guilt and suspicion of intent. Is it the person who loves me or is it Satan trying to tempt me. These were the dark ages that created a lot of contempt for women where were burned and drowned as witches. Yet somehow reason again poked its head to the surface. Nietzsche drew out this sentiment when he said, “We love life, not because we are used to living but because we are used to loving.”

People have finally learned to voice their concerns about love and intent. People realized how precious things could be when they were good. Love again had value as did friendship and communication. Nietzsche illuminates this by saying, “When marrying, ask yourself this question: Do you believe that you will be able to converse well with this person into your old age? Everything else in marriage is transitory.” He also said,”It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

Finally Nietzsche seems to fully comprehend the sacrifices one must make for love. He also realized the pain and the value of sometimes saying, “no”, when he stated, ”This is what is hardest: to close the open hand because one loves.”

So to all you wise asses out there who didn’t think I could possibly spin a positive article with the ideas of Nietzsche...there you have it. Now someone buy me a drink.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Find a Penny, Pick it Up...

Continuing with the readers request. Lelo wanted me to write about my coming of age.

Maybe it was the times, maybe it was me, but I was a late starter. That is if one considers 17 as late.

OK, it all started when I was working in a library for a summer job. It was only the librarian and me working side by side for the most part. She was from Paris and I wanted to get more experience speaking French so I would do better in my college French class that I was signed up for in the fall. We made a pact to only speak French to one another unless we had to speak with a visitor who came in to use the library.

Day in and day out we spent our time in conversation, getting to know one another, our likes and dislikes. By July there were discussions about relationships and soon it was obvious that there was some sexual tension between us.

It is now that I need to mention that as stated above I was 17 and I now need to admit that she was 34. I was overly pleased with the direction this was taking…

As August approached, I told her that I’d like to get away and go camping some weekend before school started. She had never been camping and sounded interested in it, so I coaxed her into joining me. I told her all about the camp fire and swimming in the river by moonlight. Of course I never mentioned the rattle snakes, copperheads, deer ticks, mosquitoes, digging latrines and the possible lightening storms.

Things were going rather well. I convinced her to join me for a swim in the river. It was dark and soon she got used to the idea that if she removed her clothing I would barely be able to see anything as the only light was that of a half moon filtering through the leaves of the trees. It was a lot of fun.

We returned to the tent draped in our towels. We were at this time becoming very relaxed and very familiar with one another. We became more familiar by the minute. One thing lead to another and soon it became very passionate.

Now, you must keep in mind that all this time, as well as all summer long, we only spoke French to one another. Absolutely no English at all was spoken until in the heat of passion when she said to me, in English, “I want your pennies, I want your pennies.” I thought what the fuck does she want with pennies? Is this some weird French sex trick thing or is she trying to be some sort of really inexpensive prostitute or something? I reached for my pants and went through my pockets for my change. I wasn’t going to argue. I was going in for the first time. If she wanted my pennies, she was going to get them. I told her that I only had a couple pennies and asked her why she wanted them.

Frustrated, she then told me what she wanted in French. I then realized that when spoken in English with a French accent what she desired sounded a lot like "pennies."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Douche Bags

Continuing with Readers Revenge Week, which is where the readers got to choose the topics I write about this week. Gearhead wanted me to illuminate the term “Douche Bag.” It is a very East Coast term, and I would miss being there every time I heard Sipewitz on NYPD Blue call some one a douche bag. It’s just something you don’t hear people saying in the Pacific Northwest.

The Urban Dictionary had 107 definitions for the term Douche Bag and these are those I found to be most accurate in my view,

Douche Bag(n) {French, fr. Italian "doccia"}US: \düsh 'bag\
International \du:ç; bæg\
1. An object used for vaginal hygeine.
2. A person that is a total moron and doesn't think before he/she speaks or acts.
3. One with an undescribeable idiocy, hence stupidity, poor idea of what's cool, possibly an arrogance about them.
4. One with an intolerable personality.

I, your humble narrator was once on a personal quest to find the true meaning of the malady of being a douche bag. My research came to a conclusion at a restaurant in Englewood, New Jersey. Back then I had friends and we would hang out together all the time. We often found our selves dining together.

On one particular evening we were at a table ranking on Karl, a member of our small subculture who was seated with us at the time. We were trying to determine if Carl was merely a douche bag, of if he was an asshole as most of us had suspected.

At that moment Carl farted rather loudly, and we all said that he was definitely an asshole. Then this dorky waiter came to our table and exclaimed, “It smells like sweet potato pie at this table.” At that point we knew the true definition. An asshole is someone who intentionally does or says something stupid, a douche bag is one who unintentionally does or says something stupid.

It is very possible to be both, by the way. One could intentionally do something and have it turn around with unanticipated results. Had Carl farted and soiled himself he would have achieved both distinctions.

To this day, this is the rule with which I measure the difference. I hope this has been helpful to your multi-cultural understanding.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Killer Beezzz

Continuing with the theme this week where the readers told me what they wanted me to write about; Auntie L asked about Killer Bees and if they would ever come up the Pacific Northwest. I love agricultural themes, so it was fun writing this one...

Though is it commonly known as the Killer Bee; for this article we will address it as the Africanized Honey Bee or AHB.

The primary native pollinator in Brazil was a small stingless bee, but ambitious agriculturalists wanted to expand agriculture in Brazil and knew that they needed pollination on a massive scale. The European honey bee would have served them very well, but greed launched them into creating a super bee. Scientists knew of the aggressive South African honey bee, and figured that if they mixed the genes with its European cousin they might have a bee that was calm in nature and aggressive in pollination and honey production.

In 1956 they set about it scientifically taking precautions, but one new apiary worker noticed the colonies were screened and thought that it wasn’t right so he opened the screens to let the bees out to work.

The bee they created was as they hoped, an excellent pollinator and honey maker, however its behavior was still very defensive. It was aggressive toward any predators or anything mammalian that could be a potential predator. They were aggressive because predation was common place for them in South Africa. The trait carried over into the new breed, Apis mellifera scutellata.

Not only was this new bee aggressive to predators, it was also aggressive toward other European bee colonies. Rather than creating a new home for themselves, scout bees from swarms would invade existing European bee colonies, kill the queen and replace the queen with the swarm queen and the rest of the swarm colony. Africanized drones would mate with virgin European queens as well making her offspring Africanized as well.

AHB made its way to Mexico in 1985 and made its way to the United Stated in 1990 and to California in 1994. They can travel 200 miles per year.

The spread of AHB slowed to a near stop about five years ago, and the theory was that past these borders the nights were two-degrees colder and that would be enough to keep them from spreading, but in 2005 they were being found in odd places like Florida and Louisiana without a direct path between. They were found in one place and then another place hundreds of miles away with none found along the way. It has been determined that commercial migratory beekeepers are responsible for their transport.

The present question is if they will ever come up and be able to inhabit the Pacific Northwest. It is possible that a local beekeeper could purchase an AHB colony from Texas, and it could survive here during the warmer part of the year. With their present physiology it is doubtful they could survive a not-semi-tropical winter, but over time they could adapt.

Speaking of physiology, other than their defensive/aggressive nature the only difference between the AHB and its European cousin is that the AHB wings are shorter than 9mm and the European’s wings are greater than 9mm. Also the AHB brood cycle is one day shorter which means quicker colony buildup and strength.

Being in agriculture myself, I have spent some time with beekeepers. I’ve seen colonies that allowed inspection without any protective clothing and I’ve seen colonies that boil out of the hive as soon as they see the carbon dioxide from your exhaled breath. The remedy for this aggressive behavior is to immediately replace the queen the colony. Within six weeks the Africanized bees will have finished their life cycle.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Suckage Factor

This week is dedicated to the readers. I posted a Readers Revenge challenge last week where I invited the readers to tell me what they wanted me to write, no topics were out of bounds. Fortunately Lelo had the only embarassing request which I will run later this week.

Being that Mother of Three wrote on this topic yesterday, I will open with this to keep a good thing going:

Portosan asked me to write on people sucking.

One might ask why it is perceived that people suck. What have they done to earn this distinction? Do people really suck?

The act of sucking takes many forms. We are all familiar with what is generally known as sucky behavior, aggressive driving, being mean, being loud and rude. Each of us are guilty of infractions that piss someone off elevating us individually to the “suck” status.

This is all fine and good, but what Port is getting at is pandemic suckatude, and this is akin to what Catholics refer to as “original sin.” These are the sins we are born with that can only be erased by baptism. Yes, we are all born sucking. There are many examples, but I will use only one. Though we may not think we suck individually, we suck as an entity on this planet.

You are reading this article electronically. You are using electricity. Your electricity is being generated by coal, natural gas or hydro powered dams. The thing that suck about that is that the dams flooded native fishing lands and killed many salmon. Coal burning fills the air with sulfur and greenhouse gasses. Strip mines alter and scar the earth in ways that can’t be repaired. Natural gas comes from countries that we have philosophical difference with. By purchasing their gas we in effect support their causes, which is being against us and wanting to kill us. So by using electricity we end up collectively sucking.

If you think you are above sucking you will have to look at everything you do to see if there is a suck link. If there is one you must baptize yourself against the infraction. In the case of electricity you can pay less than 10% more for your electricity bill which is used for renewable resource power. Check out the Blue Sky option for more details.

But there are sucky things we really can’t avoid; like taxes. We pay our taxes and the government does sucky things with it and yes we are responsible for that as well, but to avoid that you would have to live off the land in a cashless society, but then if you are living off the land you are taking the earths resources and fouling the ground with urine and excrement. It’s unavoidable, we all impact our planet and one another with every breath we take.

What can we do to alter the course suckatude? Simply do anything. Do something to make it better. Spend an hour picking up trash. Turn of unneeded lights. Turn off all the lights in your house and meditate for a half hour a day. Make a commitment not to drive one day per week. It all makes a difference.

So maybe if we can suck a little less, our actions will inspire others to suck less as well. Trust me, people will still continue to suck, but maybe we will be able to tollerate it more.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Leary Voice

Back in my home town there was an Irish Catholic family known as the Leary family. They lived on the poor side of town in a small three bedroom, one bathroom house, and I do mean small. There were six children, four boys and two girls all with curly blond hair. They had a distinct look about them; a very typical Irish Catholic look, but they all resembled one another so much it looked as though they were clones.

Most of the Leary boys were in their late teens and early 20s in 1979. Yes, still living at home in their 20s.

By the way, do you why they are sure that Jesus was Irish? He was 33 years old, still lived with his mother, didn’t have a job and thought he was God.

I drove past the Leary's house several times a day back when the Iran Hostage Crisis was in full bloom. Every evening the Leary boys would paint a sign that simply stated “Iran Sucks” and they’d hang it on a utility pole across from their house. Every day the utility company would come and remove the sign. Each night they would paint a new sign and hang it, and the next day it would be taken down again. This went on for the entire 444 days of the hostage crisis.

The hostages were released on January 20, 1981. I drove by the next day and there was no sign to be seen. However on the following day I drove by and saw a simple sign on the utility pole that read, “Iran Still Sucks.”

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How I Came To Be Here

One morning about 20 years ago I realized that I really needed a new life and in order to do this I would have to quit my job and move away from New Jersey. My first choice was to move to Hawaii. I hadn’t even considered Oregon at that point.

I took a month off, booked my flight and rooms on three different islands. I wanted to see what living on an island would be like and which island would suit me best.

I started in Oahu where my parents spent their winters. One of my goals was to retire or at least not work for a few years, but the economy there would have me working within weeks. That is unless I lived in an unsavory neighborhood.

From there I spent a week on the Big Island, which ranged from the most beautiful to the bleakest place I have ever been. I loved it up around the Parker Ranch and around South Point, but Hilo was nothing special and Kona was a bunch of white cement around black rocks. Racism was rampant on the Big Island. The Hawaiians hated the Japanese, who hated the Chinese, who hated the Samoans who hated the Koreans, and put them all together, they all hated Caucasians.

From there I went to Maui which struck me as being very much like California. Other than the sameness and the made especially for mainlanders type of resorts I stayed at, the rest was just too foreign. I figured it would it be hard to fit in any local culture that didn’t have something to do with the tourist trade.

Though I had been there for a little over three weeks I was also starting to understand what “Rock Fever” was all about. Locals everywhere I went mentioned it. It is a feeling of a rat in a maze, being stuck on an island. The only way to shake it is to get away or go mad. People on the Big Island especially have this affliction. Some go to Oahu monthly just to see something different.

With my dreams broken, I realized that it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to move to Hawaii. I headed home but stopped in Vancouver Washington for a couple days to visit someone I was having a long distance relationship with. I was dejected realizing that I might have to stay in New Jersey.

I picked up a local real estate booklet while at a grocery store in Orchards. Those were things I never read, but for some reason I picked one up and threw it in the bag to read later. When settling down for the evening I paged through the booklet. I thought the whole thing was misprinted with the decimal in a position too far to the left. I wondered if they used a different currency here, but that wasn’t so. Houses I knew that were being sold in New Jersey for 400k were on the market here for 70k. I suddenly realized that if the prices were that low in the Portland Metro area, they would be even less here on the Coast. I drove to Astoria (actually Cannon Beach) the next day and picked up some real estate booklets to bring back to study on my flight home.

The day after I returned to New Jersey I put my house on the market.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Day My Dad Was Really Cool

Most kids go through a phase when they are really ashamed of their parents. Sometimes hat phase lasts from birth to death, and sometimes it is minor and un-noticeable.

I remember a day when the pride for my father was in full bloom. It was only two years earlier when I felt there was a low point in our relationship. Two years earlier I got caught selling some pot to a friend. Now that I think of it, the cop was pretty cool and didn’t involve me in the justice system, he just involved my father. This was on the morning that my parents were leaving for Europe for a couple weeks. My father was pissed, and I had to stay with my sister until they returned…

Now jump ahead two years to when I was a senior in high school. I was involved in the stage crew and I was very involved in photography and art. One night after a production the Vice-Principal left his keys behind, and an observant friend rescued the keys, and made copies of the school master key before returning them to the VP the following day.

I received a copy, and I used it for convenience. I often needed to have access to the stage or a darkroom or an art studio, and rather than hunting down a key, I’d just let myself in where I needed to be.

The friend who made the key got into some sort of trouble and he ratted on me for having one. I was called into the principal’s office. My father was called in as well. I had no idea why I was called in, nor did my father.

When we were all there the Principal said he wanted to expel me because I had the master key. He went on and on and finally asked for my father’s comments on the situation. My father asked if anything had been stolen or vandalized. The answer was no. My father commended me for making things more convenient for myself. He said that he would have done the same as I had if he were in my place. The only one truly at fault was the careless Vice Principal, who compromised the security of the entire school and that the school was fortunate that I was the one who ended up with the key instead of other students who might have malicious intent.

My father’s opinion on the situation saved my ass. I was not expelled dor did I have any other disciplinary action taken against me. There were several occasions when I thanked my father for his support on that day. It was pretty cool.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Why is our government so opposed to industrial hemp production in the United States? OK now that I have all you dooby doers attention out there, industrial hemp in not pot. You would have to smoke so much of it to get even the least amount of buzz since the THC content is so low. It would be easier getting stoned by drinking too much water.

Industrial hemp could be a major player in biofuel production eliminating the present use of canola, a plant with the potential to spread disease within the canola plant community, and has danger of cross pollination contamination. Hemp plants grown for fiber already can produce as much oil as soy.

Though many states are for hemp in their local agricultural programs, it is Federal regulations that prevent anyone from starting the process. Experimental hemp crops in the US are hidden behind 12-foot razor wire fences.

Presently hemp is in production for seed oil in Canada. The Europeans grow it more often for fiber. With this one plant we can improve soil tilth, make clothing, biofuels and ther products like plastics. There are over 25,000 products that can be made from hemp. It is disease and pest resistant and cross pollination would only result in pot with a lower amount of THC. The EU and Canadian regulations limit THC content to 0.3% in industrial hemp.

I encourage anyone who finds themselves in the area of a hemp shop, please go in and see all the great things made from hemp. If you see a product you can use, buy it. Money talks...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Readers Revenge

I often get email from many of you suggesting a topic for me to go off on in this blog. Sometimes I will do an article based upon your inspiration and others I am absolutely unqualified write or even read about the topics you suggest.

You folks have put up with my writing for eight months now and now I’m going to return the favor in a bizarre kind of a way. Here’s what I will do. I will dedicate one entire week to the things you want me to write about. All you need to do is either email me or reply to this post and tell me what you want me to write about. The first 7 to reply win.

I’ll go out on the limb and say that no topics are off limits.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Metal Men

I once spent a week alone at a resort in Maui. The reason I was there is a topic for a future article, but for now lets say I was on a fact finding mission. Though I had several day trips to see this and that and see people I needed to speak with, but I found that I ended up on the beach every evening with a tall drink that always included pineapple.

Yes, I found time to do some snorkeling and diving and a lot of fine dining, but those evenings on the beach were most remarkable. However even more remarkable were the mornings on the beach. I would be out there at dawn with a large cup of coffee taking in the morning air. The morning air on a Hawaiian beach is probably the best air I’ve even been in.

Just before sun rise every morning the quiet beach would be invaded by several men with metal detectors. There were five of them. They never spoke to one another and they each seemed to have their own turf. Always looking down with their detectors sweeping right to left to right like a human pendulums.

As I watched every morning four of them seemed to do rather well, stopping and scooping and putting some sorts of objects in their pockets, but one of them rarely ever found anything. I wondered if his turf was bad or if he had a metal detector that wasn’t finding things for him. One morning I got out before they arrived and I put a nickel under a couple inches of sand to see if he would find it, he did.

The next morning I put out more coins in his turf. He found them all. Every morning for the rest of the week I laced his turf with my pocket change. On my final evening I took all the rest of the coins I had and composed a note that said, “Dear Metal Man, I hope you’ve enjoyed finding the coins I’ve left for you this week, but I am leaving today and you are on your own.” I folded the note, inserted the coins and buried it in the sand. I had a flight to catch and I checked out of the resort before the metal men arrived.

It is now 20 years later and I wonder if the metal man was amused.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I have got to say that I like Martin Luther King Day. Why? It’s because this is still somewhat a solemn where people can reflect on history and prejudices. Yeah, yeah, let’s all sing Kumbaiya…I can hear you out there. But MLK day still hasn’t been ruined commercially like all the other holidays.

I bet and hope we will never see a MLK Day White Sale at Macy’s. Holidays as solemn as Veterans Day and Memorial Day are ripe with commercial come-ons. Furniture stores and department stores shamelessly shill their wares debasing the days of respect they are meant to be.

Sure, I am anti war and against killing and all that stuff, but even as irreverent as I may be I would never commercially or verbally defile those who have spent several years of their lives or given their limbs or lives in our military service.

I won’t be buying a new car, a bed or a couch on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, no matter how good the deal. I hope this crass commercialism continues to keep its hands off Martin Luther King Day. But think of it…How long can that be avoided?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Zen and the Art...

It is so funny when you come upon things that you had written a half of a lifetime ago. I recently found a book I was working on when I was 23. It was titled, “Zen and the Art of Holding Nothing Sacred.” It was a book of short Zen stories and the adventures of a young Caucasian Zen Master.

As I remember, at the time I was enamored by Zen stories and Zen Koans, but I felt a little out of the center since these stories were handed down from sixth-century Chinese monks. Yes, the stories were still very much relevant, but there was a lot of modern Zen stories and Zen-like irony happening in our lives every day. Instead of a story revolving around monks like Tanzan, my stories revolved around shlubs named Bob or Suzie.

As I read some of those stories again, I urged myself to turn many of them into something that is blogable. I won’t tell you which stories they are, but if you find enlightenment in the next few weeks, so be it. Guy-tzu has done his job.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mouth Dump

When you think about it, we humans stuff some really crazy stuff into our mouths. Much of it is cultural and regional. If you think back, all our ancestors a hundred years ago and older ate all kinds of crazy stuff. They dressed funny, too. If you ever visit a historic recreation like Ft. Vancouver or Ft. Clatsop (Dried Salmon) on days when they are doing the historic food of the day thing, you will be totally grossed out with selections of salted lard, leathery smoked fish and meat, and they don’t even touch upon the rancid stuff they ate as well.

We are no different. Your great grand children will one day learn of you diet and it will make them want to puke. Raw oysters? Tapioca, aka fish eyes and glue. Artichokes, a good excuse to eat butter. Lima beans, the food of the anti-Christ. Tripe, pork rinds, Rocky Mountain oysters, caviar, Pâté de foie gras. What about blood pudding and Haggis? Do you have any idea what Jell-O is made from? You might want to start puking right now…and if you puke on someone you can add another tick to the meme when I send it around to you.

Oh man, we are sick bastards, and I’m surprise we don’t compete with crows for road kill.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sick Day IX

I’m sick of all the Labyrinth Walks. I’m sick of gun and knife shows. I’m sick of people. I am sick of new operating systems, I say we all go back to DOS 3.3 or Windows 3.1 and call it good. I’m sick of seeing people writing stuff down on yellow legal pads at meetings. You know they just rip the pages out and throw them away when they return home or to their offices. I’m sick of people who always have to say, “Bless you!” when someone sneezes, like blessing a sneezer will save them from eternal damnation. Hint there are no demons up your nose that are being expelled; they’re only snots up there. People should not be blessed for extricating snots. Maybe thanked, but never blessed. So, all you snot nosed people and all you blessers make me sick. Finally, Lelo, if you think this went unnoticed when you replied to the question the other day, “What is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever done?” Your reply, “ Hmm. When I was little I'd cup my farts and pass them on to my brother.” That’s really sick, Lelo! But it made me laugh, and I still love you anyway ; )

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ugly Part II

(For those of you reading from places other than here, there are four liquid natural gas companies attempting to build plants which will totally destroy the present commerce and uniqueness of the Columbia River.)

Speaking of ugly skies, I find it odd that with all the anti LNG stuff out there, few seems to be outraged by the concept that these towers will stand at three times the height of the tallest building in Astoria. Can you imagine what sort of shadow they will cast? It’s not bad enough that the LNG rat bastards want to screw up the fish in the river, screw up the shipping channel, pollute our air with the standard 1-3% escape from venting the gas in transit, but to top it off they want totally screw up the landscape and erect several two-hundred plus foot, white storage tanks?

People need to envision what ugly monstrosities these tanks will be. I don’t care how much they say or do. I don't care what they look like in a watercolor painting. They will never be able to cover these things up or make them look like they belong there.

You folks who say that LNG is OK with you… Why don’t you just invite the LNG people over to take a big shit on your lawns and drive ways? That’s what they are going to visibly do to our county and to the Columbia River. It’s going to look like Newark when they are finished.

They think that if they show us beautiful watercolor art we will be lulled by their sense of beauty. To them money is the only thing of beauty that they understand. It is that sort of concept of beauty that has stripped our forests to stumps and taken all the fish from our rivers and sent them away in shinny cans. Now every couple of years we have to reinvent our economy to compensate for our losses we suffered from corporate greed.

So, shall we take a lesson from history, or shall we do it again? If you are sick of the exploitation of our most unique and beautiful region, it's time to speak out and write to our representatives and the FERC.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ugly Part I

Why do we put up with an ugly sky like in the photo above? How did it happen that we evolved or devolved to the point where can pass under this sort of shit every day and not even see it and worse yet not be totally outraged by it?

I can’t tell you how many times a year my power goes out because of trees knocking down the power lines during a wind storm. So the power company sends out a crew of five or ten workers, who replace the lines and utility poles. It usually takes a couple hours. The last storm it took a crew of 10 over 14 hours. This happens a couple times a year. How much would it cost and how much could they save by running the lines underground? Our phone lines run underground, and we always have phone service.

Above ground utilities are ugly and dangerous. And if you think I’m pissed about this bit of ugliness, wait until you see tomorrows post.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A History of Geography

It is so funny how people will often be attracted to live somewhere without regards to the geographic memory that the locals have. There is a rather new development in Astoria called something like Eagle Ridge. Yes, you too can plunk down several hundred thousand dollars and have the locals say, “Oh, you live off the Dump Road.” You may correct them by saying that your street spurs off of Williamsport Road, but they will continue calling it the Dump Road. At this point the home owner should resign and accept the fact that they live off the Dump Road.

The people in one area of Lewis and Clark have long ago come to accept the idea that they live in Pig Pen Crossing. I’m sure people living off the Dump Road will one day accept and own their geography as well.

There are a lot of content people living in Boring Oregon. They’ve come to terms. I’m sure I’d come to terms with where ever I moved. I always though it funny that the area where I live was once known as Melleville. There was a sign in Seaside that pointed to Melleville up till about five years ago. Sure, it isn't Snotville or anything like that, but still.

One thing I don’t think I could deal with is a really long street name. I was once in a town that that was settled mostly by Polish and Russian immigrants. There, they named several streets after the town’s fallen soldiers. Streets were tagged with fifteen-letter, multi-consonant names. So imagine spending ¾ of a million on a house and your return address is one that you will never be able to pronounce.

So it has now become a fantasy of mine to become a developer and give the streets really awful names like: Dickhead Drive, Asslove Street, Cow Pie Place, Carnal Court… I’d like to see who the hell would accept living on streets named like that. I could have interesting neighbors.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Maybe I was frightened by Rod Steiger’s portrayal of Carl in the Illustrated Man who stressed in a Cajun accent that they were not tattoos but rather “Skin Illustrations.” When one looked at the illustrations they were taken on a horrific journey of a story that the illustration was telling.

With that preamble out of the way, I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t like tattoos very much. Sorry if you’re reading this, Lee, I know you and many others love them, but…

Maybe I’d get some if they could use invisible ink and the only way to see them was to pour lemon juice over them; that being the way all kids know of how to read invisible ink. Maybe a toaster was part of the process as well…

Other than self mutilation aspect of it all; the thing I really dislike is that my father was of the generation that served in WWII and all of his friends came back with all these tattoos that looked sharp and colorful, but by the time I was five in 1960 these tattoos no longer looked bright and sharp. They looked like dark cancerous blemishes. All the colors melded into an ameba-like shape. Letters became unintelligible, images became a free-form aberration and add to that the sagging of the skin and loss of the youthful muscle tone made the whole thing look really bad.

Though I have had people explain to me that it is art, and I agree it is, I've seen some amazing work, but I'm the kind of person that can't even stand having paint or wood stain on my hands. I will scrub until my skin is raw. I couldn't imagine having a tatt that I couldn't scrub off, ever.

I'm glad I never got one when I was younger, because I don't think I still hold onto anything that I believed back then. All the people in my life have changed, my ideas have changed and I as a person have changed.

So I’ve never bought into the whole tattoo thing, and I have enough physical faults without adding to them.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Sure, I’ve been accused of counter social behavior before. People even expect it of me and I try not to disappoint. Yet still I occasionally get tagged by someone who wants me to do a Meme on my blog, like I’m Mr. Sunshine and Lollypops.

If you are unfamiliar with Memes, they are a list of questions that a blogger gets to answer and post on their blog. Some are pretty funny, but on this blog I don’t do blog links, I don’t tell people who I am and most of all I don’t do Memes. So if you insist on sending me Memes, I will first insist you answer and post the Meme below, and then I’ll consider doing your Meme…maybe. (But probably not.)

Have you ever purged?

Have you ever puked on someone?

Have you ever been paid for sex?

Have you ever paid for sex?

What was the most expensive thing you ever stole?

What is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever done?

What do you feel most guilty for?

If you had to kill yourself, how would you do it?

Have you ever had sex with a boss?

If so, ever at work?

Have you ever masturbated at work?

Have you ever had a STD?

How many people would you kill if you could get away with it?

What is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever swallowed?

There now, stop sending me Memes. Bastards, rat bastards...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

When I Grow Up

Even at age 51 I still ask myself what I want to do when I grow up. As I have written recently, I’ve had several jobs, but none I would consider a career and few jobs have I ever had a consumptive passion over.

I do know there are several jobs I’d never want, regardless of the pay, and they are:
Fisherman, too cold wet and stinky.
Plumber, too cold wet and stinky, plus there is a lot of crawling involved.
Mechanic, I have no mechanical ability.
Croupier, I can’t shuffle cards, (Can’t tie knots either) and I am very bad at games.
Bar Tender, I would not have a good eye as to when to cut people off.
Middle School Teacher, Too much energy and hormonal stuff going on there.
Long Distance Truck Driver, too many temptations to go off course.
Fund Raiser, I hate begging.
Fast Food, hard to get the stink off.
Hair Stylist, too many ways to screw people up.

Here are some jobs I’ve never had and I wouldn’t mind trying, regardless of pay:
House inspector
Heavy equipment operator
Staff comedy writer
Set builder
Limo driver
Art Restorer

And finally, if I could only get paid for blogging.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Have you ever had aebleskivers? I was delighted to find they weren’t so rare when I moved out here.

For those who are unfamiliar with them, they are Norse pancake balls, traditionally with pieces of apple in the center. I first learned of their goodness when I was a lad of 17. I would drive a couple of my girlfriends home from school. One was of Danish and the other was of Swedish heritage. Their mothers just loved me and often they would make us aebleskivers for an after school snack.

The tool used to make them is called a monka pan which looks like a skillet that is mixed with a muffin pan, but with rounded bottoms. You fill each rounded cup with batter, insert a piece of fruit or jam in the center. Once one side is cooked you slide a fork around the edge and flip the ball over and it cooks the batter that was on the top and forms it into the ball shape. They are plated when they are finished and sprinkled with powdered sugar with a little jam on the side for dipping. It’s a wonderful warm snack.

After high school and college I settled down and wanted to make my own aebleskivers, but finding a monka pan in New Jersey before the Internet was not an easy task. I did find one through a relative who worked in the culinary tools industry. It took me years, but I finally got one.

The funny thing was that I was in Canada a few years after that, and I went into a hardware store in Buckingham, Quebec. There on the floor was a stack of probably 50 cast iron monka pans on the floor that they were selling for $1.00 each. I picked up a couple.

It is even funnier that it is now a major project for me to make aebleskivers. A few years ago we got all new appliances and our stove is a ceramic top. You can only cook thing with flat surfaces on it, which means no woks and no monka pans. So when I ever want to have aebleskivers I need to haul out my camping cook stove. But you know, it’s really worth it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

January Thaw

The term “January Thaw” came to my mind recently. It is a term I haven’t thought of since I moved out here. What it was, was a major inconvenience to any kid who lived in a cold climate where this happened. For me, New Jersey fit the bill.

OK, here in Oregon there are two types of weather, rainy from October 1 – July 4, and Sunny and dry from July 5- September 30. So here people do what they want to do all year, but in New Jersey we had a season for summer things, swimming and cycling, fall was foot ball, spring was baseball and winter was skating.

Shortly after the last football game of the year, which was Thanksgiving Day, our ponds would start to freeze and would be skateable long before Christmas. If you outgrew your skates from a previous year, there was still time to petition for a new pair before the 25th.

Our ponds would freeze very well and all the kids in town would meet at the ponds closest to where they lived. If it snowed, no problem, everyone would show up with snow shovels and we’d clear the surface in no time. The funny thing was that it was rare that any kid would voluntarily shovel their own drive way or side walk, but our pond was always clear. After a heavy snow the town road department would plow the ponds with a jeep with a plow. Every once in a while they’d fall through the ice and need to be towed out.

All was always well and good until the second week of January when the weather would warm up and everything would melt. All the snow and all the ice would disappear for a week or so. It was hell for kids because the roads were too wet to ride bicycles, the fields were too wet to play ball on. It was just a mess with nothing to do. However, after a week or so the temperature would drop again and the ice would return to the ponds of three more months. We would be out there every possible moment after school. On weekends we would before the sun came up and we would stay past 10pm. We would warm ourselves by a bon fire.

There was a great social structure on the ice. The better skaters were looked up to, but those of lesser skills were not looked down upon. Everyone skated with their age appropriate groups.

There were people who dared to skater close to the dam where there was what we called rubber ice. This ice would never freeze solid, and the weight of the skater could make the ice dip under the water that was open between the dam and the edge of the ice.

There were the other daring people that would ascend the hill besides the pond and ski down the snowy slope with their skates and over a dock at the edge of the pond. The skater would fly through the air like an Olympic ski jumper, landing on the ice with enough momentum to carry you across the pond to the fire.

Our town and the local Lions Club even sponsored an ice carnival each march where there were races and expositions.

Here on the coast of Oregon it never freezes like that. We will have a frosty night once in a while. If it snows it will last rarely any longer than two days. In order to share the magic of skating with your children you need to drive them to a mall in Portland where it is warm and safe. It isn’t really skating the way I know it. It is more like walking in circles on a slippery surface.

To me skating means feeling the ice crack under you occasionally. Finding a place where the ice is so clear that you can see aquatic life below. It’s the cold wind and the bon fires. It is seeing fifty kids with gloves, mittens and brightly colored hats and scarves. To me it is a right of passage and a means of becoming independent.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Unseen

Sometimes it takes decades before any notices certain changes. One thing I recently noticed is that it is now 2007 and it has been years since I’ve heard anyone talk about actually seeing a UFO. (by the way, anyone recognize the ship in the photo above?)

It used to be nearly everyone claimed to have seen one back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, but now you’d think that the number of sightings would still be the same and there would be better documentation since most people have cameras in their cell phones and most places on Earth now have constant video monitoring. There are all these collection devices, yet nothing new ever comes out.

Are the alien aviators shy because they now realize that they will be photographed? Or are they all gone now the Cold War is over?

It’s a good thing the image of the Virgin Mary still shows up on the occasional grilled cheese sandwich, so some can continue believing in things that aren’t really there.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Emotions From Words

I always love it when something on the exterior makes something happen on the inside. Yes, men often love to be stoic and keep their emotions in check, but to me nothing feels better than being touched on an emotional level.

Though I’ve seen the movie Bliss (the Aussie one) hundreds of times; I still become totally emotional by the beauty of its ending. There has to be a film that affects each of us. I still get choked up when I think of some of the animals that are no longer in my life.

Sometimes I will write something that affects me as well, even my fiction. Recently, Melissa, a poster on the CCM forum (or is that the DSCM?) mentioned a quote from my Starry Night article where I said, “I so love it here.” I was reminded that I was choked up when those words flowed from my fingers. Another was in the article about cupcakes when I was talking about sharing cupcakes with my friend Jody. I was totally losing it by the time I got to the part about the stripped string around the box.

Sometimes to the reader it may seem that I just use words to fill a page. I swear I don’t have a quota. I feel fortunate I can post an article every day; often with a little heart mixed in. My quest for the proper words and their constant rearrangement sometimes pays off with an emotional gift for me. Hopefully they occasionally pay off for those of you who visit every day and allow my words to enter your minds and become a part of your lives.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Death Pool 2007

As New Years revelers nurse their hangovers and make resolutions not to ever drink again, Astoria Rust is much less remorseful. I don’t have anything to atone for, and had I, it would have appeared in one of my Contrition posts.

With all the year in review shows on TV, one tends to think back on the past. Though only a few Rust readers remember any of the old web sites I’ve had over the years, I was reminded of a tradition I started way back when, which I plan to continue here.

So welcome to the first annual Astoria Rust Death Pool. Since our readers in Washington State can face pretty stiff penalties for Internet gambling I will tone this down to personal rewards of Karma. Here are some names, and feel free add more if you think I’ve missed anyone. Keep your own records. You may choose any name on the list and if the person dies this year you get a karma point. If you pick them and they don’t die you lose a karma point. It’s a pretty simple cosmic wager.

So here are some names of people I am betting will die in 2007:

Lauren Bacall
Yogi Berra
Jack Black
Fidel Castro
Walter Cronkite
Billy Graham
Andy Griffith
Stephen Hawkings
Don Ho
Alan King
Larry King
Tommy LaSorta
Jerry Lewis
Rupert Murdock
Iggy Pop
Andy Rooney
Micky Rooney
JD Salinger
Pete Seeger
Tony Soprano
Charlie Watts
Kurt Vonnegut