Wednesday, February 28, 2007

For Want of Something New

Several years ago I was asked to present a class on Leonardo daVinci. I had a working knowledge of the man and his work, but I didn’t have an authoritative command of the finer points so I dove into books and I traveled to Victoria, BC to see the daVinci exhibit.

While in Victoria I went to a play which was based upon a rumor that Leonardo used his own blood in some of his paintings and what if we could isolate and clone his DNA… One of the producers took great pride in presenting the audience with music before the play and during scene changes. It was truly remarkable and I had never heard it before. It was haunting and it wasn’t until I returned home where I realized I had to have that music. It was haunting me.

I started searching the Internet for Canadian foreign language music. I knew Canadian radio stations require a certain percentage of music that is played on the radio to be Canadian. Figuring that I had never heard this artist before, he must have been Canadian.

My search turned up nothing so I searched for the theater and found it and I called them, but no one there knew what I was talking about, but they gave me a phone number of the director, who gave me the number of the sound operator. Finally I found out that the CD was Italian, fitting since daVinci was Italian. It sounded continental so French wasn’t far off, and I assumed that it was played in Canada so it had to be French.

The artist was Paolo Conti, who was an attorney who enjoyed singing and left his career to become a singer. Paolo’s style is a cross between Maurice Chevalier and Tom Waits and it would be safe to throw in Leonard Cohen as well.

If you are looking for something different in music that gives you the feel of a hard core European drinking house with the smell of tobacco and a hint of a feeling of cabaret, Paolo Conte may be for you. Allow me to suggest the title, “The Best of Paolo Conte” which was a 1998 release.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

More on Metric Conversion

A long while ago I proposed that we here in Dried Salmon County should lead the nation and go metric: Dried Salmon Metric Article.

Since that time I came across a piece that Moosehead shared with me. Moosehead is Canadian, and by the way, I am so please that I have so many of you neighbors to the North checking in daily, (Auntie L called me "A Touqe Magnet"). Anyway, it seems that the Canadian metric conversion has yet to be completed and it seems they've run into some snags along the way. Moosehead sent me this site, Metric Timeline Site from which I copied this the text below.

Canada's Metric Conversion Timeline

April 1871 Use of the metric system in Canada legalized by Act of Parliament

June 1951 An act passed establishing metric standards for Canadian (Imperial) units: 1 yard = 0.9144 metre and, 1 pound = 0.45359237 kilogram. The Weights and Measures Act was passed.

January 1970 Liberal government introduces White Paper on Metric Conversion which is supported unanimously by the house leaders of all parties

June 1971 Metric Commission Canada established organizing over 100 different sector committees

January 1975 Product labelling begins metrication

April 1975 Weather forecasts use degrees Celsius

September 1975 Ontario elementary and secondary schools begin to teach metric exclusively.
Rainfall and snowfall given in millimetres and centimetres

September 1977 All new cars required to have metric speedometers and odometers.
All road signs were posted in metric

1978 Timetable established for full metric conversion in retailing of gasoline and diesel fuels
Timetables established for full metric conversion in retailing of individually measured foods (either by the kg or per 100 g), metric scales, and for home furnishings (floor coverings, etc.)

January 1980 Deadline for full metric conversion in retail sale of floor coverings & home furnishings passes without enforcement. In 2000 the inch, foot and yard are still used.

December 1980 Fabrics sold by the metre and centimetre.

January 1981 Gasoline and diesel fuel sold by the litre.

January 1983 Two Ontario gas station owners charged under the Weights and Measures Act for selling gasoline by the gallon.

July 1983 "The Gimli Glider" makes national news as Canada's most notorious metric conversion mix-up. See the CBC Archives for video.

November 1983 Moratorium on enforcement of metric regulations requiring retail sales in metric following acquittal of two Ontario gas station owners. Decision moves to the Ontario Court of Appeal.

January 1984 Deadline for full metric conversion of retail scales passes without enforcement. In 2000 the pound and ounce scales are still used.

October 1984 Aquittal in gas station case overturned by Ontario Court of Appeal. The litre must be used in the sale of fuel.

November 1984 Consumer and Corporate Affairs, the ministry responsible for the Metric Commission announces it will not prosecute violators of metric laws despite the recent court ruling in Ontario.

January 1985 Consumer and Corporate Affairs Minister, Michel C�t�, announces that regulations requiring use of metric measurements alone will be revoked and replaced by new provisions

March 1985 Metric Commission Canada disbanded and replaced by a small metric office in the Bureau of Policy Co-ordination within Industry Canada. New provisions were not introduced and re-implementations of metric regulations delayed.

October 1985 Metric Office became the Measurement Information Division with a significant decrease in staff

January 1986 Deadline for full metric conversion of advertising and signage for individually weighted items passes without enforcement. In 2000 the pound and ounce are still used.

April 1988 Measurement Information Division was abolished.
New provisions for metric conversion were never introduced

Today, 2000
Grocery stores post prices by the pound. If metric is present it is much less obvious.
Lumber and home furnishings are sold by the inch, foot, and yard.
Houses are sold by the square foot even if the original floor plans were in metric units.

Ironically, automotive fuel is sold by the litre. Consumers preferred litres and the apparent lower price. When Edmontonians were given the option of gallons by one service station owner soon after the court case they chose to buy by the litre at other stations. This may be an option for grocers who can legally sell meat and produce by the 100 g (i.e. hg) measure.

No official effort on the part of Measurement Canada is being made to complete metric conversion.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Fire Beer

Here is a blast for those of you who have relocated here from the East Coast. When was the last time you got to hear this song?

Schaefer is the one beer to have
When you're having more than one.
Schaefer's pleasure doesn't fade
Even when your thirst is done.

The most rewarding flavor
In this man's world.
For people who are having fun, fun, fun, fun, ....

Schaefer is the one beer to have
When you're having more than one.

There was a Schaefer Beer distributor in the town where I grew up. Once there was a fire in the warehouse and all the beer was considered spoiled. This was long before there were any agencies or laws on the books of how to deal with this. The distribution company took the entire warehouse full of product and dumped it at a wet land that was being filled to become a city park with a baseball field.

For weeks people were arriving there with shovels to dig out the buried beer. When it was over I’m sure there was nothing left to be found. It was a solution to toxic waste that worked well for the beer drinkers in town weren’t too proud to prospect for their amber transfusion.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Cows and Cattle

Dairy farming is a very hard occupation, and I wouldn’t suggest anyone who is considering an agricultural life. My article on dairy farming can be found here
Everyone Shout Moo

If one has the pasture, one could start small with beef cattle. If you have no experience with cattle, it isn’t something you learn on the fly. I’d suggest you spend a year studying under someone with experience. Learn what they do and why. There are long periods of time when you don’t need to do anything with them, but when you need to do something with them you need to pay attention.

The fencing and equipment requirements for beef come at a high price. You don’t want you beef escaping, nor do you want to handle their hay by hand.

You need to understand their herd mentality. You need to be able to translate their body language. You need to physically assess their condition.

Fortunately beef cattle don’t need shelter. In fact they get sick when confined indoors. They need to be outdoors in the heat, cold, rain and snow.

What they need is lots of forage and water. Grain is an option because some cattlemen are selling grass fed beef. Grain will fatten beef. This is why beef are often put on grain a month before they are sold for slaughter.

If you plan to get into beef production you will be able to sell a run of the mill steer for a couple thousand dollars, but if you get into better breeds like Angus or Limosen you can see your profits increase dramatically. There are also small breeds you can get into but they don’t return much money at all.

There is a lot to learn in the beef industry, and unless you have someone to guide you through your first two years, you may want to consider a different investment.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Continuing with the weekend series of ways to enter an ag business, or what ever I called a couple weeks ago...

Poultry farming is for lack of a better word, a very odd duck of an occupation. Most will immediately think chickens, but also think about ducks, geese and turkeys.

In my opinion ducks and geese have little agricultural virtues other than they love to eat slugs. They just have little commercial value. Most people who want to eat goose or duck will go hunting for them.

Chickens and turkeys are excellent tasting when they come from a small farm and are allowed to free range and eat things other than what comes in a feed bag.

If you’ve ever cracked a free-range egg next to a store bought egg you will immediately see the difference. The store bought egg has a pale yellow yolk and the free range egg yolk is very bright orange and it almost has a hint of green in it. You won’t make a fortune with an egg stand but it could pay some of the bills.

White chickens lay white eggs and chickens of color lay brown eggs and Aricondas lay blue eggs. You don’t need a rooster for egg production unless you want fertile eggs.

I’ve found that the nicest hens are Barred Rock and RI Reds. Bantams are cute and small and colorful, but they love to fly. They produce small eggs, but they are great brooders. They will sit on any egg until it hatches.

Local free range turkeys can draw some good funds, but you need to decide if you are of the temperament that will allow you to slaughter and dress an animal

Store bought roasters are very inexpensive, but since your chickens are well cared for and are not confined to cages or buildings filled with thousands of chickens your price can be higher for the value added aspect. Same goes for turkeys. It is becoming more to people that they know where their food comes from.

Do keep in mind that on the brain power scale for poultry, ducks and geese are the smartest, chicken are in the mid range and turkeys barely have any brains at all. I have heard stories that turkeys have been caught in a rain storm and look up with their mouths open and have drowned.

Fenced yards are required for poultry. Predation is high from raccoons, coyotes and hawks. Some people with poultry have cages that roll. This way you can roll your birds to a new location every couple of days so they can have fresh greens to eat.

All poultry needs shelter. When building a shelter make it easy to clean. Their manure needs to be composted before it can be used on a garden.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I remember learning to ride a bicycle when I was a child. Once I got my confidence my older brother told me it was time to take the Miller Road Challenge. In our suburban town there was a hill that was somewhat frightening for a child to consider going down on a bicycle.

I was seven and he was fourteen. I trusted his wisdom, and as a younger brother I wanted to do everything he did, so we headed out for Miller Road. Miller Hill was one you had to walk your bikes up. We walked we passed a point where my brother told me that it was the point of no return and that I had to start applying my breaks at this one point or I would not be able to stop at the bottom. I would go through the intersection at the bottom and probably be hit by a passing car.

We walked up the hill, but not all the way, just far enough for my first assault on the hill. Up until then I had only ridden on flat land and I had no real concept of momentum.

My brother pushed off first and I was right behind him. I found the speed exhilarating and was totally captured by the moment to a fault that I forgot about the breaking at the point of no return. My brother remembered to break, so the blur of reality of my bicycle getting closer to his didn’t register in my brain. At that point the crash that ensued went into slow motion; my front tire colliding with his right pedal, the feeling of leaving my seat and flying over the handle bars, my foot clipping his shoulder as I flew past, my body skidding to a bloody stop on the curb with half of me in the street and the other half face down on the lawn of 111 Miller Road.

My brother thought quickly and threw my bicycle on the lawn and placed me on the bar of his bike and rode me home quickly, which was fortunately a half mile away and mostly down hill. I was then taken to the hospital but deemed well enough to live another day.

I continued riding all through my childhood, and only stopped riding when I got my first car at 17. Somehow in my mid 20s I took up riding again. I purchased a Peugeot 21 speed racing bike which was really sweet. It had a computer on it that would tell me how fast I went, average speed, distance and all that. I would ride about 30 miles a day.

I always had the Miller Road hill in the back of my mind, and there were times where my route of travel took me to Miller Road. I would go down cautiously and respectfully, though each time I would push it just a little further.

One day before I moved out here I wanted to put that hill behind me. I had the confidence and the proper equipment. I found myself at the top and with a clear view below I saw no cars ascending the hill; I pushed off and peddled through the gears getting as much speed as my legs could provide leaving the rest to gravity. I also knew there would be less resistance on the tires if I rode down the stripe on the road is paint was smoother than pavement. I tucked my arms and legs in and bent my back and head downwards to make myself as aerodynamic as possible.

There comes a point where the speed of a bicycle with the rotation of the wheels takes on an out of balance character. The valve stems of the tires throw the wheels totally off balance at high speeds and the bicycle actually starts bouncing, but I held tight and rode it out with concern.

I recalculated where I needed to begin breaking and I pulled the break handles at the appointed time and did stop within feet of the intersection with a pounding heart and wind burn on my body.

I looked down at the computer and hit the button to see my maximum speed. I reached 53.1 MPH. I was now finished with Miller Road. I departed with my honor intact.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


If you ever want to experience that “Down Home” feeling or the “Back Like it Was in the Old Days” feeling, another local business that you may have overlooked is worth a visit. You will be reminded how local commerce was back in the 50s and 60s.

There is an institution in Knappa, Granny Patti’s Trading Post. This shop is tucked away off the highway on a dirt road behind the card lock fuel station. I am not aware of the history of the building, and I’m not aware of Patti’s history in commerce. All I know is that I visit this shop when ever I go through Knappa.

Patti’s shop is a wonderland for just about anyone. She has stuff that you just don’t see anywhere. It isn’t a store that just sells things to make a profit, but rather a community focal point. Patti does what she can to give people a deal and make life and Knappa a better place.

Patti decided that Knappa needed a library, so she cleared out a large section of her store, put up shelves and stocked it with donated books. People may come and borrow books on the honor system. I have yet to go there and not see someone there perusing the collection.

She wanted to help people who need things, but can’t afford them, so she opened a thrift store in another portion of her shop. She also takes things on consignment among her other products of which are farm and pet supplies, feed and grain, horse and tack, fishing gear, burn barrels and many other unexpected goodies. She even has poultry and livestock living in the back end of the building.

Every summer she has a customer appreciation day which is festive with a petting zoo and other attractions. This year she had a roasted goat to support the local goat breeders. Every Saturday is cake day.

Patti is at the center of this…I’ll call it a cultural center. If she is in the shop you will hear laughter. Patti knows every one and everything. If you don’t see what you want, ask because it’s probably in there somewhere and she’ll find it.

Patti is kind in assisting the community and local organizations with donations. She makes what may be a sometimes difficult life for rural residents, much more bearable and affordable. She’ll share advice, she’ll make you a deal and she’ll make you laugh.

If you find yourself in Knappa go see this show for yourself.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Maybe I’m just attracted to clutter, but damn I sure do love shopping at Grover Utzinger’s hardware store. If you’ve never been there you need to put it on your list of must visit old timey shops in Dried Salmon County. Grover’s is the second shop on the left just after you cross the Old Youngs Bay Bridge. It looks like a small shop and by the standards of the modern hardware stores, but every thing anyone could possibly need is in there.

You can enter the shop and think you see everything, but no, there is a door to this little goat path cat walk where the nuts and bolts are kept. You need pipe? That another door that you need to go through and ends you up in this room that looks like a garage, which is nearly the size of the main shop. Need a plastic septic tank? He’s got them outside.

Grover’s is a Mom and Pop and a couple of kids shop. It has everything but open space. I don’t remember which franchise it is under, maybe True Value, but a few years back they had to join the modern world and set their inventory up on a computer. It was demanded by the head office. It seemed to inconvenience them greatly, but they plodded through into modern times, but when you go there now, the computer is turned on but never used. You bill is prepared on a calculator and if you need a receipt, you’ll get one that is hand written or one from the register.

In that shop Grover is the computer. He seems to know every product and the quantity of that product in his store. I have yet to see him run out of anything, except maybe lamp oil when the power was out for three days around here.

So pay a visit and look around. I’m sure you’ll see things you’ve never seen before. Most of all you’ll see a store of yester-year.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Disappointing News

I’ve been seeing growing discontent with the Daily Astorian. In recent weeks at least two of our local blogs have covered the subject:
North Coast Oregon and Dried Salmon Matters, I love that name ; )

There seems to be a lot of growing concern over the Daily Astorian, be it accusations of character misalignment or just plain looking the other way when someone in the story is loved and respected by the editorial staff. The two main local news reporting arenas are the Daily Astorian and KAST radio.

Hunter S. Thompson coined the phrase “Gonzo Journalism” back in the 70s. Gonzo Journalism is when someone reporting the news becomes a part of the story.

KAST frequently is caught up in a quasi Gonzo state because of the stupid things they do like get a generator from the county so they can continue to broadcast when the power is down and they never test the generator often enough so when they needed it, it didn’t work. Or having a pissing match with the DA around election time (which I particularly enjoyed). Or the pissing match they had with the Sherriff and the County about the generator. Or about the General Manager getting pulled over and flashing an honorary Deputy card. So this is a news media that is placing itself in the news stream.

The Daily Astorian on the other hand under reports things. It never paints any of its friends in a bad light, the District Attorney, for instance. It also doesn’t report on several major things that have happened there in the last five years. Two stories come to mind.

About five years ago two people in this county, one from Knappa and one from Gearhart died of CJD, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The disease was even mentioned in their obituaries, though a search of the Daily Astorian archive will not show it. So what’s the big deal? CJD is the disease one acquires from eating beef with BSE aka mad cow disease. I’m sure the editor knows all about BSE and CJD because his other newspaper, the Capital Press often has articles on it. Even last week there was a new case reported in Alberta. So is the Astorian trying to keep the word down so as not to hurt steak sales at the restaurants who advertise in his paper?

Next, about four years ago there was an outbreak here of the Norwalk and Norwalk-Like Virus Infection aka. Norovirus, which has symptoms of gastroenteritis. There were a few peeps in the paper about ship passengers having this condition, but there was never a mention of the nursing homes and assisted living facilities that went on lock down. Employees who were at work were not allowed to leave, and employees on the outside were not allowed to enter.

People log onto our blogs and forums and accuse us of writing about rumor and hearsay. We are actually on a constant fact finding mission. We rely on people to write in and share what they know. There are things going on here in Dried Salmon County that we want to know about and things we should know about and our local trusted news media has let us down time and time again.

It is the responsibility of the news media to share news. Had I wanted to read something with a slant or something that excluded major events I’d read a trade publication or I’d watch Fox or CNN.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Pain Industry

Way back in September I wrote about the State Fair. I don’t even remember the article other than there was a photo of the No Spitting sign. I am recalling one of the things that is associated with the Fair and that is all the sales people in tents or packed in booths in one of the Expo rooms. Other than the popular cleaning supply and cook ware that is for sale; there is one industry that is well represented and probably has more products than any other. This would be the “Pain Industry.”

Most people don’t look at a collection of vendors and lump them together, but somehow it dawns on one that there must be either a lot of pain or a lot of perceived pain out there. Think of all the stuff for sale that caters to our pains: hot tubs, foot baths, foot massagers, back massagers, buckwheat pillows, beaded seat backs, bags filled with flax seed that you place in a microwave and use as a heating pad, vibrating chairs. No matter what pain you have there will be a vendor at the State Fair that is willing to sell you a solution.

Pain is a funny thing. It is rare that there is a solution to it other than major life style changes, like losing weight to ease back pain and joint pain, wearing proper shoes to alleviate foot pain. Sometimes surgery such as carpal tunnel or breast reduction will help pain as well.

It is sad that most of the palliative treatments sold at the State Fair have little or no effect on pain other than to distract ones senses from it for the duration of it’s use.

I do not suffer from chronic pain but my wife does. I’ve seen all sorts of solutions come and go. The only two things that seem to help her are the Jacuzzi tub and the Tempur- Pedic mattress. These things were the best investment in pain management that we’ve made.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sheep, Llamas and Alpaca


If you are considering starting a sheep farm, please do so only for lamb production. The wool market is so poor that most sheep owners burn the wool after their annual sheering. Sheep aren’t as easy to keep as goats, nor are they as intelligent. They are more submissive. Get a sheep on its back and it pretty much stays there. It is much easier to remove one goat from a herd than it is a sheep. They really stick together. Seeing a sheep in the pasture is much better than the reality of it.

There are some cool varieties of sheep. My favorite is the Jacobs, (pictured above) which can have four or six horns. They often have a spotted fleece as well.


I have yet to see why anyone would want one. They do make good guard animals for sheep and goats. They are tall and that will frighten coyotes away. Maybe they can be eaten or something, but other than that all I can say is “WTF?”


This is the newest animal to join the ranks of a multi-level marketing scheme. Yes they look like delicate llamas and their fleece is soft and wonderful, but paying over $10,000 (some go for 50K+) for an animal who has minimal amounts of fleece with a fiber that has no memory, just doesn’t make sense to me. Alpaca have a very long gestation period as do llamas. The high price is paid because they are relatively new to this continent. Please don’t buy one because you think you’ll make big money as a breeder. Back in the late 70s llamas were going for high prices, ten or twenty thousand each, but once they got established the price dropped dramatically. Now people give them away. I can’t tell you how many llamas I’ve turned down. This too will happen with alpacas.

One positive thing about alpaca ownership is that the alpaca farmers have one hell of a co-op. They process and market alpaca wool. They keep it all special and they also keep the prices on the animals high. This animal pricing will not last for ever. There will soon be a glut and the market will fall, hence my calling it a multi-level marketing scheme. Those at the bottom of the pyramid will male all the money and those at the top will lose the most.

Alpacas are nice animals, but…

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Continuing with the starting up in agro business series today I will cover goats. I was going to break down these articles into four posts, but I think it's better to run them all at once so as not to spread this out for too long a period.

Goats are an all around multi purpose live stock option. There are meat goats, fiber goats and dairy goats. If you are thinking of adding goats to diversify your agricultural standing there is a lot for you to learn before you commit to this way of life.

I’ve done a lot of research on the topic and decided against becoming a goat farmer for several reasons, most of which was the fencing requirements. Here are the goat basics for those who are thinking of starting their agricultural life with goats.

Having goats is like having a field of two-year old children. They go everywhere and climb on everything and they will eat just about anything. They are browsers and like to eat things from above rather than grass below. Trees and shrubs are above.

It is said that if your fence will hold water, you may have a chance of holding your goats in. Fencing should be of woven wire, not welded. Electric fencing may be used in conjunction with woven wire fences but not instead of it.

You will often hear goats referred to by the following: "Buck or Billy" - a male goat. "Doe or Nanny" - a female goat. "Kid" - a young goat. "Wether" - a castrated male goat.

Goats are much easier to care for than sheep. They are just healthier stock and hardier. They do live in herds so they like company. If you are going to get a goat be sure to have a companion for it, be it another goat, a horse, a cow or a lama. Its companion needs to be a grazer. Humans, cats and dogs don’t fit the bill.

Goats need shelter. They will look to duck inside as soon at the first raid drop hits the ground. Goats also need to have their feet trimmed monthly. This is something you will not want to hire out because of the expense.

Goats have horns which can be a big problem. Often show requirements dictate that the goats being shown be dehorned of disbudded. Disbudding happens when the goat is about two weeks or younger. A hot iron is held to each bulb on the goats head for 14 seconds. This heat disrupts the cells in the goats head that grows the horns. This procedure can be fatal to the goat, and if improperly done a freakish horn can still grow. Most goats will scream during this process, but when it’s over the goats behaves like nothing ever happened.

I’m not a big fan of disbudding, but for those who plan on showing goats, or those who will be in close contact with them like milking them or shearing them should consider disbudded goats for the safety of the humans dealing with them.

Unless you are going into breeding goats, you don’t need a buck. Frankly they stink because to attract mates they urinate in their own mouths and spit it all over them selves. Also you need to keep the bucks in their own yard with their own shelter. If you don’t, they will mate when you don’t want them to and they will make all the other goats smell like them. Bucks need extra strong fences with electric wire because they have been known to mate through a fence.

Goats are funny about their food. If they walk on it, they won’t eat it. You can give them the nicest alfalfa but anytime it hits the floor where they are standing they won’t touch it. They have different requirements than sheep. A little copper is good for a goat and it will kill a sheep. So if you have both, they both need their own feed that they can’t share.

For more information, visit this web site:

Goat manure can be used immediately in a garden. There is no need to compost it.

Dairy Goats

Today we will cover dairy goats. There are six types of dairy goats that are recognized by the American Dairy Goat Association. They are Nubians, LaManchas, Alpines, Oberhaslis, Togenburgs, and Saanens.

These goats have been bred to produce good quantities of milk. Just in the way there are dairy cows and beef cows, this is the same selective breeding that has happened with goats.

These goats are generally large animals. LaManchas are notable for having small ears. Nubians are multi colored, and most dairy people find the Nubian to be to playful and noisy. This is an important trait when you have to confine a goat for milking. Though all breeds above fit the bill for the jobs they do, one rises above them all. The Oberhasli is a gentle well mannered goat. They are full of good looks as well because they nearly look like a deer (see photo above).

For the best tasting dairy it is a good idea to control what goats eat. What they eat will translate into flavoring the milk. Many dairy goat keepers allow their goats only a small yard to forage and feed them well with purchased hay and grain.

Caution should be taken if consuming raw goat milk. I learned my lesson the hard way and got sick once for two months. You can make cheese, ice cream and butter from goat milk. Aged cheese is the better idea and that brought $16 per pound at Sunday Market last year.

There is a commitment when becoming a dairy goat farmer. When the goats are in milk you must milk them twice a day and keep good production records. They are easy to milk by hand or you can purchase milking machines. There are no ends of things you can buy.

Remember also that you need to use extreme caution when milking a goat with horns. They will eventually get you.

Meat Goats

Before the mid 1990s the term meat goat referred to just about any goat. The most popular for human consumption were Spanish, Myotonic, Nubian and Pygmy goats. But then a new goat appeared on our shores from South Africa with superb muscle structure. This goat is known as the Boer. In ten years this goat has revitalized the US meat goat industry. It is generally a healthy animal that builds weight quickly and naturally. It has a very good temperament.

It is said that with the growing Hispanic and Muslim population in the United States Supply can not keep up with demand for goat meat. People I know in the industry do not even have to advertise. People come to their door looking to buy goats.

Boers are at market size at around six months of age. The going rate is presently around .75 cents per pound, though $1.00 per pound standing is what most will charge to sell it right off the farm to an individual.

Pure breed Boers with excellent confirmation are worth more as breeding stock than as meat. The goats that are sold for meat are usually Boers crossed with another breed, or Boer wethers (a castrated male)

The Oregon Meat Goat Producers are a cooperative that organizes the sale of your goats with others who are selling goats in your region. Their web site is: and it is a good resource for any one getting into the business.

I know several people in the goat business and few are making a living at it. It takes years to get to the size of an operation one needs to actually produce income.

Fiber Goats

The final category of goats is fiber goats. These goats are primarily used for their fleece not for their pelt. The breeds of fiber goats are generally Angora, Cashmere and Fainting goats. There is also the Pygora, which is a cross between a pygmy and an Angora. These small goats are nice for the hobby farmer because of their size, but pygmy or anything crossed with a pygmy often had difficulty birthing and often needs to deliver by caesarian section.

Fiber goats are popular among those who spin their own wool or work in fiber art. Their fleece may be combed out as needed or sheared like a sheep every year.

The quality of their fiber can range the grading system in three different grades. Some are soft and some are coarser. Another challenge is guard hare that needs to be separated from the fleece. These are longer hairs that protrude through the fleece and change the texture of the final product, so it is best to remove them before carding.

You do not want to use the fiber from a buck. It is very difficult to get the smell out of it. If you are going to take all the time to wash, card, dye, spin and loom or knit this fiber, you will be disappointed that the smell is still present in your finished produce. Use your bucks strictly for mating.

The fiber from most goats and alpacas have no memory, which means that what ever you knit with it will probably flatten out and lose its intended form. Most often goat fiber is mixed with wool from sheep to solve the memory problem.

Fencing is a challenge for fiber goats. Their thick fleece insulates them from being shocked when going through an electric fence, which is a big problem in their containment.

Also, these goats may also be used as meat goats if you ever want to sell them.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Country Blues

To the casual observer and listener, Country music and Blues may have a lot in common. Both are indigenous American art forms. Both are pretty much based on a three chord progression. Both often deal with heartbreak and pain.

There is however a big difference in attitude between the two. In Country music there seems to be a continual theme of either, “I hurt you and I’m sorry”, or “You hurt me but I still love you and always will.” It’s really mushy when you think about.

Now the Blues is totally different with the theme of, “You hurt me, and not only am I not going to let that happen again, but I will get my revenge on you, you dirty rat bastard, or you rotten bitch.”

Think of it, songs like “Further on up the road, someone’s gonna hurt you like you hurt me.” Or David Bromberg singing, “I’ll be god damned if I will ever be your fool!” These are just a few that come to mind, but think of this the next time you listen to Country or the Blues. If you are heartbroken and you want sappy, listen to Country, but if you want to wield a hatchet you better put on your shades and turn the blues up really loud.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Poetry Contest Skit

Though most readers agreed with me and admitted they don’t like poetry; a few of you commented that I should be more open to it. Below is a piece that I wrote and was going to submit to Simple Salmon, but it seems that the River Theater no longer does Simple Salmon, so I will share the skit with all of you here. It is about a County Wide Poetry Competition:

A spot light comes up on two color commentators who are seated at a table stage right. They each have a microphone and head phones.

Male announcer (BOB):

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to 25th annual Clatsop County Poetry Competition. I am Bob Kilmer and I am here with the 2005 poetry champion from Arch Cape, Roberta Elliot.

Female announcer (Roberta):
Hello Bob, it’s nice to be here.

Four poets stand quietly on stage as the lights come up. Each poet holds a sign of the town they represent, Cannon Beach, Seaside, Warrenton, Astorua.

Well Roberta, I bet the four poets before us are getting themselves psyched up for some tough competition tonight.

A feeling I remember well, Bob. These poetry champions have clawed their way to the top having survived years of training and the first two elimination rounds earlier this year. Knappa, Arch Cape and Gearhart were eliminated in early January competition. Jewel, Elsie and West Port were eliminated in the late February competition.

And lets not forget the disgraceful disqualification of Tolovanna Park and Brownsmead this year after they were accused of using poems from the internet.

Yes Bob, that was a real black eye for competitive poetry. Hopefully our competitors here tonight can remove some of the tarnish from these competitions.


It’s too bad because the poet from Brownsmead had that wonderful poem, “My pets are missing, has Vicki returned?” It was world class poetry.
We are now watching as the poets warm up for the competition.

The four poets contort their faces and flex their tongues as though they were warming up and stretching for some strange sporting event. Some start making noises like they are working their vocal chords.

While the poets warm up I would like to share the rules of this competition with our audience. All poems recited can only consist of three lines. Haiku is acceptable. This is No-Contact poetry meaning that the poets must keep their hands to themselves at all times. They are not allowed to use props or gestures other than facial gestures.

A bell rings as though it were a boxing match.

There is the starting bell. The poets will read in alphabetical order according to the town they represent. The judges will score the poems when the first round is finished. Astoria is first up.

Let the games begin.

There is a momentary hush as the first competitor approaches the microphone. Each poet reads the title, pauses and reads their poem.

ASTORIA steps to the mic:

The sun has recently risen
The “Play Here” sign is awakened
Good news, the bars have reopened

CANNON BEACH steps to the mic:

The birds can be heard
The locals have come out
Snow and ice on Highway 26, again

SEASIDE steps to the mic:

The bus station now vacant
Under the awning where passengers wait
Ten second-hand cigarettes collected today

Warrenton steps to the mic:

Fifty Dollars in my pocket
I smell like fish
Lon Mabon is coming to town

This is a strong first round. All poems address local conditions where these poets live, eat, sleep and write.

Roberta, do you have any predictions before the judges render their scores?

Well I think that the daily events in Astoria and Seaside may be mundane to the judges, however Cannon Beach and Warrenton are describing special events that are dear to their residents. Warrenton may take this round.

The scores are in from the judges. We have 7.9 for Astoria, 8.9 for Cannon Beach, 8.0 for Seaside and 9.3 for Warrenton. You called it pretty well Roberta. Warrenton is in the lead.


It’s the years of experience, Bob. I see the poets are collecting themselves and preparing for the second round.

Astoria steps to the mic:

A morning colder than icewater
Tears nearly freeze on the supporters’ cheeks
No new campus this year.

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

A surfboard in pieces
A large shark swims close
I am so screwed

Seaside steps to the mic:

The stones in the cove
Rest still on the shore
As my car is on blocks, tireless

Warrenton steps to the mic:

Factory built tract housing
The cement floor cools my feet
Every where I walk

This round seems to have less strength than the first round, but if it were my vote I’d place it on Cannon Beach. Their poem is much more desperate that the others.

I agree, Bob, but the pure emotion in the piece by Astoria will be a contender.

Her come the scores Astoria 9.4, Cannon Beach 9.5, Seaside 8.6 and Warrenton 8.2. Astoria makes a strong comeback but can’t compete with the pure simplicity of Cannon Beach tonight.

Bob, you can see the contestants are now breaking into a sweat. I can’t tell you how physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting these events can be. Contestants have been known to pass out during these competitions. Astoria is stepping back up to the mic. Let’s see what this round delivers.

Astoria steps to the mic:

Though the surface is smooth
The ebb is strong
Which barge will hit the bridge today?

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

A mere speck on the cliff face
As evening approaches
Who will phone the Coast Guard?

Seaside steps to the mic:

A flash of red and blue
Evidence is gathered
The bodies have been found

Warrenton steps to the mic:

The sand is high and level
I look below to the life
In the drainage ditch

Man and nature, man verses nature. What wonderful poetry we are seeing here tonight.

It is bringing tears to my eyes, Bob. I’d like to take them all out for a drink, or at least to see a good therapist.

The pure desperation of the poem from Cannon Beach has me on the edge of my seat.
The scores are: Astoria 7.9, Cannon Beach 9.7, Seaside 8.8 and Warrenton 7.4. It looks like the judges didn’t like Warrentons submission, and to thing they have a 9.3 with a previous poem.
It looks like Canon Beach is holding on to the lead at this point.


Yes they are, Bob, and Astoria is in last place with an average of 8.4. However there are two rounds left and anything can happen.

Astoria steps to the mic:

He comes out of the car
A light in his eyes
He can touch his finger on his nose, this time

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

Glass floats wash ashore
With the flotsam and jetsam
The wind has removed my roof

Seaside steps to the mic:

A gathering to eat
A feast at the beach
The smell of tallow kisses the air

Warrenton steps to the mic:

Fish fish fish fish
Boats boats boats boats
Strip Malls and Big Box Stores

I see Astoria and Warrenton are getting bitchy. Cannon Beach is in yet another disaster. Seaside on the other hand is becoming playful. The judges may turn on the participants in this round.

I agree, it is a good idea to diversify your presentations in competitions such as this. Astoria 7.7, Cannon Beach 7.8, Seaside 9.8 and Warrenton 7.5. Wow! Warrenton got spanked by the judges.

It happens, but now we have the final round. Most competitors save their best for last.

Astoria steps to the mic:

The weeds and lawn grow wild
Shops are boarded up
The Flavel’s are in Tewskberry

Cannon Beach steps to the mic:

A bundle of alder
Burned warmly in the stove
My vacation rental has been turned to ash

Seaside steps to the mic:

The Autumn is brown and yellow
Nature is red in tooth and claw
Did you get your elk?

Warrenton steps to the mic:

So many churches
I attend them all
To smite the Democrats.

Oh my! What a strong finish for each poet! It’s anyone’s guess what the judges will decide with this final round.

Here are the scores: Astoria 9.9, Cannon Beach 8.9, Seaside 10.0 and Warrenton 9.5.

A 10.0 for Seaside. That is unheard of in most poetry competitions.

Yes but it may have been the definitive Seaside poem, and it may have been the definitive Clatsop County poem.


If they could only have thrown in a pair of muck boots I would have been brought to tears.

The final tally is in making Seaside the champion with an average of 9.04, second place goes to Cannon Beach with an average of 8.96. Astoria is third with 8.56 and the reserve champion is Warrenton with 8.38. How do you feel about these scores Roberta?

I never want to second-guess the judges in a poetry contest, they have a so many factors they use to judge these competitions. Though, if I were a judge in this competition, my background and philosophy would have me rating the pain of poverty higher than the pain of the middle class. If you compare Astoria to Cannon Beach for instance, Astoria had the pain of waiting for the bars to open, the failure of a bond measure, flotsam in the river, not driving under the influence and abandoned properties. Cannon Beach had rock climbing, surfing, ice storms with solitude, windstorms and cozy fires. Each town has their own disasters, but I tend to feel more sorry for the Astorian disasters.


Class warfare comes in all forms, Roberta, even poetry. I’m going to try to catch the champion from Seaside as the poets exit the stage.
Might I have a word? Might I have a word?
Now you are the Clatsop County Poetry Champion, what are you planning to do?

Seaside Champion:
I think a road trip is in order. I’m sure I’ll be able to get to Newport and have a good time with the prize money.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this competition has no prize money.

Seaside Champion:
No prize money? So what do I get for being the champion?

Well, you get to be the Clatsop County Poetry champion for the next year, and you get to have your poems published in a book that no one will buy except for the winning poets of the other counties who have their stuff in there as well. It’s only $70 per copy. You can buy several copies and give them away as gifts.

Seaside Champion:

You mean it cost me $100 to compete and another $70 to get a book with a few of my poems in it? This is a bigger rip off than the shipping costs on E-Bay.

Roberta: begins speaking over the ranting Seaside Champion
Well it’s time to end our broadcast of this years Clatsop County poetry contest. Thank you and good night!

Seaside Champion:
Rants as he/she is escorted forcibly off stage
How dare you? You rat bastards. I will slander all of you in verse. You rat bastards!!!!!! Rat Bastards!!!!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Need a Card

What a dumb shit I am, I thought VD was tomorrow, so here's tomorrows post.

If any of you neglected to get a card for the one you love or lust, feel free to print, color and cut one of the cards below that fits your situation best. Love Guy

The People Verses Valentine

One of the legends says that St. Valentine wrote to young women while in prison and left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, and signed it "From Your Valentine" before he was executed.

So here is this guy, a priest, a Bishop of Rome, in jail writing love letters to young women. Doesn’t it make you wonder why he was in jail? Was he a stalker? A paedophile? Both? Based on the record of the Church…you can draw your own conclusion.

The Valentine economy moves a lot of money around this week. I'll save you some money on cards. Check back tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Small World, Isn't It?

I don’t get out much and going to the blogger meet-up was a treat and reminded me of when I used to live in coffee houses long ago. I should do it more often because I always find inspiration in those places.

One really cool thing happened while we were waiting for others to arrive. There was a fellow messing around with a camera over on the couch. He had a book next to him which was a text book on Black and White Photography by Richard Mizdal. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had to go over to him and make sure and it was true.

Richard Mizdal was my high school photography teacher. He now teaches Photography at SUNY on Long Island, NY. Small world, eh.

Richard is also a painter. Here is an example of his work.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sick Day X

I am sick of Poetry. I am sick of Poets and those who think they are. I’m sick of the Fisher Poet Gathering. I mean fishing is bad enough and then they have to top it off with depressing poetry. Why not just fuel up the boat and head west until the motor stops. Spare us, please. I’m sick of the mono-tone poetry readings on KMUN on Friday afternoons. If poetry was good don’t you think poets would at least be able to make a living from it? There are people who make a living at everything else in the world, but not poetry. This is to say that poets have a lesser value in society than people who clean puke from the bathrooms in bars. So just knock it off or keep it to your self.

Short month, short list...I feel better now.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Starting Up In Agro-Business

The agricultural gold rush is a long ago thing of the past. There aren’t very many start-up opportunities any more, yet I often hear of people who want to get into farming. Maybe it’s the romance of the idea of living off the land or getting back to basics. Maybe it is fear of modern life. What ever reason, farming is a gamble at best. When you enter a casino the odds favor the house and as a farmer you have no better odds.

The start-up price of land and equipment makes it virtually impossible to even consider making a profit for many years. Yet there is a way to become a farmer if you so desire.

The trick is to start small and progressively build your product and experience. In agriculture experience is the greatest teacher. Reading all the books on any topic never prepares you for when a cow dies in your milking parlor, or when you deliver a truck load of walnuts and find they are infested with husk fly.

Diversifying is a great hedge against failure. This is where let’s say, you have sheep; it is convenient to have dairy goats as well. Both have different products and you’ve diversified your line in the even there is a catastrophic failure of a falling market for one of your products.

Another way would be to have beef cattle, and then you could raise long-horns as breeding stock. Most times a good breeding long horn with great confirmation will sell for ten times the price of beef for meat. It’s show business.

The trick is to start slow, and grow slowly. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have gotten into agro business in a big way and lost everything in three years. I’ve seen it happen in horse farms, nut and fruit orchards. I know a few migratory beekeepers who went from a hobby to five-hundred colonies in one year and lost over four-hundred colonies during their first winter.

My advice is to first join an agricultural organization in your field of interest. There are associations out there for every field, many with local branches. Get to know those who are teaching your subject of interest at Oregon State University. Meet people who are established and working in your field. When talking with them don’t try to impress them with what you know, but rather talk to them about the things you don’t know.

Over the next few weeks I plan to explore different aspects of all sorts of agro businesses. I will try to deliver these articles in an honest way so as not to give the illusion that you can make tons of money in any of these fields without a lot of hard work, and I mean a lot of hard work.

There is an old adage that says, do what you enjoy and the money will come. Let’s make that the first rule, it has to be enjoyable.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lincoln Logs

I recently saw an ad for a custom built log home. I was reminded not only of the log cabins I have been in over the years, but also of one of my favorite toys as a child. That would be Lincoln Logs.

I got my set in the early 60s, back before the got funky with plastic and had additional options and figures to go with them. They have since gone retro, but they are still more modern than the ones I had.

I don’t recall if they came in a box or a tube, but everything about them was good; the feel, the weight the color the texture and even the taste. When working with them you were only limited by your imagination and how big your supply was. I had one set and I knew of other kids who had two due to duplication of gifts by aunts who didn’t check first. I would have been totally delighted if I were ever to receive two sets back then. Oh the things I could have built…

I was fortunate though, just to have one set while some children never had them at all. I entertained my self endlessly with them and accounted for every piece when I put them away.

I don’t recall now if my toys got passed down to my nephews or if they eventually ended up in a land fill. I doubt my set is still in play today, though if I could get them back I’d certainly spend some time with them again on the floor.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Table For Six

Last night (Wednesday)I partook in a ritual that started probably 15 years ago. Back in the days when I was a single man I made friends with a bunch of guys who live in Manzanita and Nehalem. We used to meet at Cassandra’s for pizza every Tuesday night where we’d all hang out and tell stories and lies and gossip.

I don’t have close friends that I hang out with but this is as close as it gets for me in the friend department. It makes me wonder what it is that bring people together in the first place. I often see dysfunctional friendship where you can’t see the thread that binds some people together as friends. The people actually can’t stand one another, but they tolerate one another just for companionship. This is not the case with me and my friends from Tillamook County.

Back to what we call Men’s Night Out. Due to geographic distances and other obligations I have, we no longer meet for pizza every Tuesday. It lost steam when Fawn sold the pizza business, but now once a year we all meet at the Warren Pub in Tolovanna Park. I feel fortunate that all these guys take an evening to head North for my benefit. It is nice to know that my company is enjoyed enough to continue this ritual year after year. I feel deeply honored.

There are six of us who are always there. Sometime someone will bring another guest, and we've sometimes had as many as ten show up for this event. Last night we were just the core of six. It was comfortable.

What I find most interesting about these men is that they are literate. In a world where most men don’t read books, all of these guys not only read, but I don’t think that any of them own a television. One of them has never owned a phone.

Without all the garbage-input from watching TV these fellows have evolved into interesting men with great adventures and great stories to share.

Early this spring two of them will head back to Alaska for their seasonal employment. We four who remain here for the summer will gather stories of our own. We will meet again next February, if not sooner and share more amazing stories, discuss great books and share great laughter over the ironic situations we confront in our day to day lives.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Type A

A few years back there was an interesting television show called Northern Exposure. Without going into to much detail, one of the characters was having a mid life evaluation and a caring friend found him grazing in a field. His sympathetic friend said to him, “Grazing, it’s good for you. Grazing makes one think slower.”

This makes me think of all the Type A people I know, who not only think quickly but do everything quickly. It amazes me to see them in action and it is like watching a juggler. Every thing in balance, few details ever over looked.

I have never been a fast thinker. This is not to say that I don’t get on top of my game. Sometimes I am totally on, but I keep it low key. I don’t see how fast thinkers can sustain the energy it takes to think and act so quickly. I’m sure my, “I’ll get back to you” attitude must set their nerves on edge.

One thing I do as a slow thinker, I never respond to anything quickly. If you email me, I will read it and mull it over for a long while before I reply. Not a rude amount of time, but I do consider the topic fully.

I spent some time watching the animals in the pasture. Their heads were down, thinking slowly, not calculating or planning ahead. They were totally in the moment. It must be a real bitch to constantly think beyond the moment and not take the opportunity to graze and slow the world down. I admit that I am thankful to all the Type A people who get a lot done. I just can’t keep up.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Benchmarks of Age

Jaggy recently did a piece on age discrimination. She, being a young woman finds she has been the victim of age discriminationm on an on-going basis. It got me thinking about certain events that made me realize that I had come to a benchmark which made me of a certain age. There were two events that come to mind. One was when I was in my early 30s when I met this woman who was at the time, 65 years of age. One of the first things I thought of when I met her was, “I’d date her!”

The other was last year when I was attending a function where there were quite a few young women, probably in their 20s. They were in tight jeans and were wearing their tops that exposed their bellies, and the thought that came to mind was, “Wouldn’t they make lovely grand daughters?”

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bonus Post

Water Under the Bridge

Recently, I was tossing comments with Tryan and he mentioned that someone lived a certain distance down stream from me. This reminded me that I hadn’t been on the river in a while. I got two kayaks about ten years ago, and I used them often, but about five years ago I started a big addition on my house which monopolized my time for about a year. Then two years later I started yet another major addition to the house, and then other things came up… However, I have yet to return to the river.

I’ve seen some wonderful things on every river I’ve been on in this county, but one thing stands out as the coolest unknown feature. I’ve never heard anyone ever speak of it.

First let me state that kayaking on the Columbia River is dangerous. I’ve seen rip tides where I was nearly propelled into pilings or sucked out to sea. There are all sorts of hidden dangers in and on that river. If you attempt to kayak the Columbia be sure to do it during slack tides and know when the tide changes.

This being said, when the tide is out one can take a kayak under the Astoria-Megler bridge. Not just under the bridge, but under the concrete foundation that support the main span. If you paddle out there is a current break in front and behind the concrete structure. The concrete structure is supported under the water by four posts that are on the bottom of the river. What looks like solid concrete from the shore is for lack of a better word, much less in reality. You can float under the concrete structure and once inside there is (if I remember correctly) a pentagon shaped opening that looks straight up to the steel work that holds the span. Once in there you are protected by an eddy from the current break. If you stay there too long the tide will trap you in there.

It is just an amazing place to be to contemplate the river and the bridge. If you ever do this trip, please be careful and don’t do it alone. Be sure to rear a life vest.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Lumber Yards

There is just something about an authentic lumber yard. I’m not talking Home Depot, Lowes, Lumbermans or Astoria Builders. These have all succumb to the newer is better business model. City Lumber is authentic. Manzanita Lumber is authentic. The old Cannon Beach Lumber in Cannon Beach was authentic.

I really enjoy a lumber yard that has worn and unleveled floors. I enjoy a lumber yard that has a dark basement with really worn floors, where the really special items are kept. I enjoy a lumber yard that is on the rail road line and that’s how their lumber used to arrive. I love the old storage buildings with dirty or broken windows. I love the barn swallows that build nests in the lumber storage sheds. Even though they shit on the hardwood, I love them any way.

The buildings of a lumber yard complex should always me made from lumber, not steel, concrete or fiberglass. Their lighting needs to be simple light bulbs in an industrial fixture or florescent tubes, not mercury vapor or halogen lamps.

I enjoy driving to three or four different buildings in the compound just to fill my order. I enjoy lumber yards that have loading docks. I enjoy lumber yards that smell like wood. I like it when you can look past the counter and see a giant safe back in the office. I enjoy lumber yards that have some cats living there. I enjoy lumberyards with items on their shelves that still have the price tags that were placed on those items decades ago.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

There's Nothing Like It

I’ve been thinking about experiences that are classic. It’s the one and only thing that is like it. Nothing compares. Here is my list:

There is nothing like the first cup of coffee. The second cup is never as good.
There is nothing like the return of a vivid memory. There is nothing like waking up well rested from a nap. There is nothing like a good piss. There is nothing like a close call. There is nothing like the death of someone you love. There’s nothing like the smell of a bakery. There is nothing like a tropical shower. There is nothing like the taste of blood. There is nothing like the feeling of falling. There is nothing like feeling young again even if only for a moment. There is nothing like the smell and the look of a freshly mowed lawn on a warm day. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you feel like you’ve made a connection. There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that you are responsible for a major screw-up.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mini Size Me

Stores have become professionally designed as slick subliminal sales machines. Products are strategically placed for sale and collateral sales. People are so far in debt these days often because they are victims of the science of marketing. I get a creepy feeling when I go into a supermarket and see all this junk stuffed on the end caps. It is a good reason to make a list and stick to it when you go to the market. Remember the marketing machine is out to get you and strip you of your lucre.

So how does one shop for groceries without all the “entrapments” of Fred Meyer and Safeway, and yet not pay an arm and a leg for things at a convenience store? It is odd how only the people who are really local to the smaller markets ever go there. I’m talking about Ken and Sons in Warrenton, Hunt’s Market in Svensen and Okey’s Sentury Market in Naselle.

These stores don’t provide a lot of room for shopping, but they generally have everything you could ever need. They were considered to be large stores in the 50s before the Super Market came into being. These stores aren’t full of marketing glitter. At most there may be some plastic parsley sprigs between the meat sections.

These shops are locally owned and they take pride in purveying the best without going over the top. Pride in the things you sell is important, not only to the image of the store, but to the shopper as well.

One thing you will notice when you go into one of these stores is that there is a friendliness that you don’t find in the larger stores. This is because the employees work for a place that is owned by a local community member and the store is a big part of the community, thus further cementing their personal bonds with the people who live there. The employees are stake holders in the store and the community. You normally don’t find disgruntled workers in a small market.

All I ask here is that if you normally go to one of the big food chain stores, please just for one week visit and support a small local grocer. I think you will find that the smaller stores don’t offer as much as the big stores, and that’s a very good thing.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Saving Graces

I saw a very odd advertisement last week. It returned the phrase “Saving Money” back to what it actually means.

As a culture we are used to the ads that promise that we will save money. In reality spending money is the opposite of saving money. You can buy a sale item and the cashier will tell you that you saved $10 by shopping there. Ever use a club card at Safeway? At the end of the transaction they say “Thank you Mr. or Ms. whateveryournameis, you saved $7.59.” Not at all true; you’ve spent $75. 98 on stuff that should have cost you $50, and even if you had only spent $50 you still spent it, not saved it. They should tell you that your purchase was discounted by 10%.

Saving means to take the money and not only, not spend it, but to put it away so it won’t be saved. Put it in the bank or burry it out back. That is what saving is all about. If the money is in your pocket it isn’t being saved. That money is ready to go.

If the Save the Whales or Save the Rain Forest projects prevented the death of only 10% it would not be a saving at all. It would be a disaster. By thinking that you are saving on a sales price, you may be headed for economic disaster because.

So about the commercial I mentioned earlier. It talked about taking the money that you would spend one day each week and sticking it into a savings account. What a brilliant idea. Average your weekly spending and sock away one seventh of it.

It isn’t rocket science, but in a way it is. This generation isn’t on the whole, very good with saving. Most people are in thousands of dollars of credit card debt. They are living hand to mouth, pay check to pay check. They don’t save and further more they can’t save. If people could start small with 1/7 of their net pay going into savings, in seven years they will have saved one year in wages.

The children of the depression understood this, but their children and their grand children have no concept of saving. When the generation that saves are all gone, their savings will go to spenders. Our nation will be in dire straits economically when the nations that lend us money call in their chips.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Issue of Trust

I was reading a blog of a desperate mom who I won’t single out here, but it appears her daughter got in trouble for taking something that didn’t belong to her. The mother was at the end of her rope as to what to do. I replied and then realized it was an interesting story that should be put up on this blog.

My reply:

I know it sounds corny, but we had the same problem with one of my wife's children. It was a trust issue and the task is to reward only trust worthy behavior.

What I did was I created a "Trust-O-Meter" which was graded from 0 to 100%. We placed it on the fridge. Being that we needed it in the first place meant there was little or no trust to begin with. We set it at 10% to start. Each day the trust would rise by 10% when there were no questionable interactions. With each gain came more reward. At 100% he had everything. Each 10% offered things like staying up later, more TV, going over friends houses, having friends over... Each event of bad behavior lost points depending upon the nature of the deed. It worked pretty well. He could actually track his progress and see the rewards that come with progress, or see the immediate stripping away of the trust he had gained.

Steve Powell, a local child therapist loved the idea when I told him about it and he now suggests it to parents of the kids he sees with trustworthy issues.

All in all, the kid, now in his early 20s turned out pretty well. He appears to have a moral compass that often wasn’t in view as an adolescent.