Friday, November 30, 2007

Imaginary Friends

Gearhead once describe a mutual acutance as his “Imaginary Friend.” I’ll admit I was puzzled by his statement at first, but Gearhead made the point that this person was only minimally available, but not afraid to ask others for assistance.

I’m sure that everyone has a friend where you put much more into the relationship than they do in return. This is an imaginary friend.

Now don’t get me wrong, Gearhead and I both like this imaginary friend. He is a nice guy and is very active in agriculture and the politics of it all, but he makes himself unavailable at very inconvenient times.

I spend a couple thousand dollars on his business every year, so he’s my friend. I got a call from him recently. He was in a panic because he had a big presentation to do and he couldn’t get his Power Point presentation to do what he wanted. I walked him through it over the phone, so he’s my friend.

Last week I was asked to speak at an event at which he is also speaking, so I called asking if he wanted to share a ride, he never got back to me. I know I’m going to run into him at the event, and I’m curious if he will acknowledge or deny getting my message.

After considering that even how nice and engaging this person is, had he wanted to travel with me it would have meant more than four hours in a truck with someone other than myself, and two days later there would be the same time and distance in a return trip. I chose to book a flight instead and hoped he wouldn’t return my call. The tickets cost less than fuel for the truck, and the conference hosts are reimbursing me for all my expenses.

I only hope I fly over his driving route and awaken from my nap as he pulls into the hotel several hours later.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heaven (For Me)

So let’s say there really is a Heaven. Everyone has a very personal idea of what Heaven will be to them. Let’s face it, won’t you be disappointed if you hoped Heaven would be as you imagined it and then you come to find out that it really is people on clouds playing the harp for eternity?

So here is my vision of Heaven if there really is one and if I’m actually going:

Fishing will be logical and make perfect sense.
Loud noises will be banned.
Recreational drugs will be free, legal and non addictive.
All music and entertainment will be free and instantly available.
There will be no laugh tracks on television.
People I don’t like will have to wash my truck.
Urinal cakes will smell like fresh fruit.
Postal, UPS and FedX deliveries will always arrive by 9:00AM.
Four-hour erections are normal and don't mean a consultation with a doctor.
Everything will be recycled into thin air.
Breakfast will always be a large meal and really good for you.
There will be one meal a day totally dedicated to the consumption of cup cakes.
Literary agents will seek out writers.
All ads on television must be funny or visually stunning.
Chocolate Chip cookies without the chocolate chips.
Cell phones that don’t sound like you are phoning from the Moon.
There will be absolutely no Blue Tooth devices, ever. Cells are bad enough and then Blue Tooth comes along and sets any progress in better sound back twenty five years.
The Soprano’s will need to keep redoing the ending until there is closure.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I see them every day and I contemplate them. I’m talking about these little drive-up coffee shops that are in these tiny buildings. I admire small structures. They help one to become efficient and not have too much stuff.

When ever I go to the dentist I see a 3,000 square feet floor that is carved up into six operatories, a waiting room, an office, a lab, inner office and a lunchroom for the staff. I think back to Doc Meyer in my home town. His dental practice was housed in a building not much larger than a drive-up espresso stand.

One never needed an appointment with Doc Meyer. If his white Lincoln was parked out back, he was there and ready to work. It seemed he was always finishing with someone when the next someone walked in. After walking up the front steps, you entered the waiting room through a heavy door with a large glass window. There were four chairs in the room, though I never saw anyone waiting in there. The room was fifteen feet wide and ten feet deep.

There was another heavy door with wavy glass between the waiting room and the opreatory. The operatory was about the same size as the waiting room. Doc Meyer was usually tidying up when someone came in. He could have easily been mistaken for a barber because dentists wore what looked like barber shirts back then. Another odd thing was that he was in desperate need or orthodonture work. His teeth had major diastematic gaps between each one making his smile look as though he wore a set of Halloween waxed teeth.

The dental chair, which was very similar to a barber chair, was placed in the center of the room. His instruments were belt driven. Instead of suction tubes he had paper cups with water for rinsing and a ceramic cuspidor for expectorations.

Doc Meyer wore no mask, gloves, lab coats or scrubs. He processed his radiographs in the dark cellar beneath the operatory. He did his work without any of the modern equipment and gizmos found in practices these days. He did good work and he did it in a building that was no larger than 300 square feet.

I guess it is now expected that every practitioner will have all sorts of value added surroundings to wow their patients these days. Don’t you wonder how much a panoramic view of the Columbia River adds to your medical and dental bills? I wonder how much less a dental appointment would cost if my dentist worked out of a 300 square foot office like Doc Meyer did.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We've Got the Power

We are addicted to power. Our houses have electrical outlets every ten feet. We have tens of appliances that are left plugged in at all times, many with digital clocks that drive us mad and need to be reset every time the power goes out for a second.

In the old days we were lucky if there was an electrical outlet in each room, but now our entire lives are tied to the juice. We take our power for granted until it goes out. We don’t care where it comes from just as long it is there when we need it, which is always.

Much of the power generated in the United States comes from coal fired power plants. After that generation comes form gas and hydro. There are more wind generators now, but not nearly enough to make a sizable dent in the fuels that we have to burn to keep it all going up to full power.

Some enlightened Americans have taken it upon themselves to put up their own solar collectors or wind mills where they make their own electricity and sell the surplus electric company. This does not remove from the grid, but instead it banks what they make in a utility give and take. Though there is an initial investment, the system can potentially pay for itself over a number of years.

Now, I’m not one for suggesting new laws be placed on the books, however I think it would be a good requirement for all new buildings to have a built in solar or wind generator with a kilowatt output that has a relation to the size of the building. I'm not saying it should be able to produce 100% of the needed energy, but at least some energy.

Imagine a new development with each house having solar panels that put back into the system instead of constantly drawing from it. Imagine new unavoidable big box stores that don’t just consume, but actually put energy from renewable resources into the grid. If all new development did their share we could drastically reduce burning fuel to run all our digital clocks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Diverse Education

I find it funny when I hear or read the news that some teacher or a school district is being taken to court for saying things that don’t fit the mould of the modern enlightened education model. The courts would have a field day with the things that I’ve seen during my education.

I went to Catholic School until the eighth-grade. We were taught by nuns and these ladies were crazy and I'm not even taking into consideration their sadistic tendencies. Never once during our classes in religion was the Bible ever used or mentioned. I never saw my first Bible until I was in high school and all these churches started having Coffeehouses on Friday nights. It seems the play Jesus Christ Superstar made churches realize there was money in going out to the pop culture. No book was ever used for religion classes when I was growing up.

One nun was really involved in the numbers racket. She’d send her bets home with one of the students whose father was a bookie. When she won she'd buy sodas for the class.

We had several nuns who were racists and often fed us misinformation. It was mostly against Blacks and Asians, but they often slurred Italians as well. I had friends in class who were of Italian heritage and I could see this really hurt them. I once got on one nun's shit list because after she had a long rant about Italians, I asked her, "Isn't the Pope Italian?" It was Paul the VI and he was Italian. She turned beet red and threw me out of class and told me to go home. It was a nice day, I gladly accepted her discipline. Note, she made no phone call to my parents, nor did she give me a note to take home. I was just released on my own recognizance and allowed to wander the streets at will.

There was one nun who insisted on teaching us how to read and write Russian foregoing all other lessons for months. We never got it. We never wanted to get it.

We had another nun who instead of teaching us Geography would give us lessons and read us books about Atlantis.

There was another nun who made us all go out and buy the book, “Edgar Cayce, The Sleeping Prophet”. We spent most of the year studying Cayce and Nostradamus.

I feel good about having that sort of diverse education. We still learned all the other stuff before the year was over. How many 6th graders do you know who read Edgar Cayce? There were about twenty of us. It would be totally frowned upon in schools these days. That sort of material is even out there for home schoolers.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Cunning Linguist

Sometimes it a wonder to me that we can even communicate in this country. It is as though we have dialects that separate us linguistically as badly as the Chinese.

We’ve all heard the song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off”, you say Tomato and I say Tom-otto. I recently met with some Almond Growers from California and they kept calling almonds “Amm-ands.” WTF?

I was reminded of a time when I worked in an up-scale bakery. There was a woman from Texas who came in and wanted a Pecan pie, but addressed it as a Pee-Can pie. I corrected her and told her it was pronounced “P’con” pie. She asked how I knew my pronunciation was correct, to which I said, “Madame, a P’con is a delectable nut and a Pee-Can is that which is kept under one’s bed in homes that do not have plumbing.”

She looked at me, cocked her head to the side and blinked a couple times and then said, “I think I change my order to the P’con pie please.”

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Spoiled Rotten

I find it interesting when someone describes themselves or others in an endearing way by using the term “Spoiled Rotten.”

When you look at it, neither word in the phrase is nice. Spoilage is waste and rottenness is a state of decomposition.

Maybe I’m warped, (or so I’ve been told) but when I hear that someone is spoiled rotten I immediately picture them with mold growing from their decomposing head.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Jack Frost

I been thinking about the things people believe lately. This train of thought started recently when I found myself scraping frost from my windshield. I normally park in a garage so I rarely see frost on glass. I haven’t seen frost on the windows of my home either.

I thought back to when I was four years old. We lived in a house where the windows would frost up on cold nights. I remember my mother explaining that the windows had been painted by Jack Frost, who dashes about on cold nights and paints windows with frost. Even at four years old the story sounded somewhat plausible, but not logical so I pressed my mother with question after question about Jack’s activities. She got to the point where she knew I wasn’t buying it and gave it to me straight. There was no such person as Jack Frost.

It was a month later that year when I pondered Santa, coming to the same conclusion. My mother resisted and finally gave in there as well, but swore me to secrecy since she didn’t want me to be responsible for ruining the beliefs of others.

The following September started attending Kindergarten at a Catholic school. This was where I was being indoctrinated with religion. Resistance was futile, I was assimilated. Questioning anything was addressed quickly with a thick wooden yard stick across ones ass. I had to wait until I was finished with that school in the eight-grade before I could come out as an Atheist.

I’ve never been a believer. Sure I will support a cause here and there, but true belief is something I am not capable of. I marvel at those who do believe. I am somewhat envious that I can’t fathom the idea that there are 72 virgins waiting for some people in their after life, or that people will one day meet Jesus or their friends and relatives that have gone before them. God, Heaven, Hell, Happy Hunting Ground, Reincarnation, Jack Frost and the like, I don’t believe in any of it.

People seem fixated of life after death. There are millions of people who attend religious services and dedicate their behavior totally to this reward concept. However, the potential for disappointment with that line of thinking is nearly as large as the universe. Life after death? I will be content finding there is death after life and I’ll leave it at that.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I live with a perfectionist. I have spent so much time correcting things that just catches her eye as being wrong. I recall rebuilding a rabbit hutch three times. I recall fussing for hours over color schemes. I recall framing a wall of one of the additions I built on the house and then ripping a lot of it apart to move a door over 18 inches.

I admit that I live in fear that she will ask me to do something because I know it will never be correctly done the first two times. I do my best work while she is away visiting family. It is those times I can make all the mistakes I can possibly make and fix it with trim.

The new catch phrase around my house is, “But you know I’m a perfectionist.”

It was last weekend that I realized that I am an imperfectionist. I find great joy in the quirky and funky. I don’t even mind if the quirky and the funky are of my own design and creation. The only problem is that when a perfectionist goes up against an imperfectionist, guess who always wins… That's just perfect, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Phobias and Setting the Record Straight

OK, I keep hearing about my phobias. I’m mocked on the forums about needing a plastic bubble and people saying things to me in person like, “you are so nutty with all your phobias.”

My germ phobia doesn’t control me. I won’t let it. When you walk past someone who was just coughing up a lung, tell me you take a deep breath hoping to capture some of the expelled virus essence. If not and you hold your breath in hopes of self preservation, you are more like me. Is that wrong? I am fully aware that there are germs everywhere and it is often the one you don’t see is the one that gets you.

Yes, I hate shaking hands with people but I still do it because it is socially awkward not to. Tell me you haven’t shaken hands with someone and wondered what the hell was going on in the palm of that hand.

Funny story about that and my reputation proceeding me, I ran into a friend the other day who told me I shocked his wife. I didn’t like the sound of that so I asked for clarification. He was someone who had the party I went to recently. Before the party he warned his wife that his friend Guy would be attending, and told her not to make any effort to shake my hand because I am nutty about that sort of thing. So I show up and he introduces me to his wife and I immediately reach out and shake her hand. Now I look not only like a kook but like a hypocrite as well. I don't have a problem with that because I am often both, a kook and a hypocrite.

Though I’ll admit my mind is abnormal in many respects; I can still conduct myself as expected socially. So please don’t walk on egg shells around me. I will make accommodations for any quirks on my own, and you probably would never notice.

It was a great party, by the way. I even stayed up hours past my bet time. And yes, I got comments on that, too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Windows or DVD

I saw a commercial the other day for a family mini van that was more like a living room with a DVD player and a card table. I can’t seem to find a reason to justify this sort of equipment. I'll admit that I am a TV junkie, just not in a car. I have a hard time looking away form a movable bill board, but I resist because they are unnatural.

When I was growing up our vacations were all taken by car, be it a ten hour drive to Canada, or the twenty-four hour drive to Florida. I spent weeks in cars watching the landscape pass. This was entertainment, better than any DVD that the kids insist on watching today. I was able to look at and wonder at the flora and fauna, geology, architecture and mechanical engineering. I studied clouds and stars from the back seat of an Oldsmobile Super 88.

Our road trips had me asking questions about things I was seeing but didn’t understand. My father told me he realized I taught myself to read when I was only three years old. I was reading theater marquis as we drove through New York City.

I love looking out windows. I used to get pissy when flying because it was courtesy to close your window shade while in flight so people could watch a movie. Here I am at 30,000 feet with a beautiful view above clouds and mountains and crop circles and I have to close my window so someone else can watch Whoopie Goldberg in another movie that will be forgotten as soon as we deplane.

I guess it’s all changed these days with personal monitors behind every seat. I haven’t flown in over ten years now, and I don’t plan on going anywhere, but I do miss looking out the window and seeing the clouds from above.

I find that no matter where I go there is always something interesting to see out the window. Even the least interesting view through a window is better than any DVD.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Home Towns and Economic Development

Last week Auntie wrote about home towns and how they change. I replied that if our home towns didn’t change we probably wouldn’t have left them.

I grew up in an idyllic town. There were old homes and old businesses and old families of several generations. It was a town where as a resident you probably knew just about every resident and most of their phone numbers. You knew every ones name and their relationship to others in town and where their parents worked.

My town was changing as I grew up. It was inevitable because all towns change, but for me there was a limit to the amount of change I would accept. The 90s was an era for great change. The old houses were being destroyed and being replaced by banks and stores. Every month another local historic land mark was destroyed to make way for the new. Our town grew by 25% in a couple years with a population of Condo Dwellers. A simple bicycle ride became a dangerous activity. I had to leave and seek a new area in which to live.

I found Astoria. Back then aside from gas stations the only franchises in town were a McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Safeway, Sentry, and Radio Shack. I could live with that. Astoria had that small town charm and a sense of community that felt welcoming.

When I moved here I supported only local businesses when furnishing my home and filling my cupboard. I bought automobiles and machinery here. I bought books and music and art here. I hired local professionals. I still do most of my business locally.

It is this local shopping that builds communities. I appreciate seeing local businesses thriving.

Oddly there is an internal conflict I have when I have to process the idea of leaving things as they are and economic development. I’m not one who welcomes change, but at the same time I don’t feel I have the right to tell people they can’t do what they want to make a living or even grotesque profits from their investments. My former town was in an economic boom when I left.

I was at a party recently, really I was, no lie. There were people there who were talking about economic development and about the benefits of increasing the logging operations and building new buildings here and there and bringing industry into the county. Yes, there were a lot of Republicans there. I was out-numbered, but I started getting a sickening feeling that they truly believed that this vision of growth was a good thing. No one brought up the point of where and when it was all going to end and what we would look like in twenty years. The premise was that it was good for the community and it will give the children a reason to stay in the area.

I’m sure that vision is fixed for them, but in reality if you want the kids to stay here they should stop development right now. It was development that made me flea my home town and not want to return.

I wish that these visionaries could see the benefits of staying small and the possibilities of down sizing. Bigger is never better. When we get bigger we need to add more infrastructure to support the society. This means more government, more social programs, more schools, more jails, more police…it never ends.

There was a time not all that long ago when the Jail pictured above was the right size for this area. (By the way, for you out of Towners, that is our old County Jail and it was used in the film "the Goonies.") Would you prefer to live in a world where a Jail of this size was sufficient or in a world where we need a County Jail that can house hundreds? Uncontrolled growth and economic development will make us bigger, not better.

The Betsy

Thanks TH for resurrecting this post I deleted as described in my last post, "Oops."

Last Monday I ran my monthly Sick Day post entirely about Betsy Johnson. As you know, I write a lot of articles. Many get comments and many articles are ignored, but that sick day post surprised me with the amount of replies people have given me in person or sent me through my personal e-mail. I also got replies on my article on LNG that also addressed Betsy's involvement.

I heard from three local people in politics who said that my comments were right on and that they no longer respect or support her.

I heard from a friend in Columbia County who shared this story with me:

Betsy showed up at a clean up project I was volunteering on about 3 hours after we started. She waddled 5 feet from her Mercedes to pose for the camera, then left. Pissed me off supremely to see her in the lead picture in the paper like she'd actually been there working. A Scappoose City councilman worked side by side with me all day getting scratched up and filthy. He wasn't even mentioned in the article.

Betsy is a wealthy woman who probably believes that greasing a cause is as good as actually doing something. Most people would rather see their leaders actually doing something when the cameras aren’t clicking. Doing things that assists a cause with more than money and lip service.

People confuse financial support with real support. The donors are often only after political gain from their tax deductible contributions. It is like a paid advertisement.

If I had a cause and Politician A donated money and Politician B worked with me side by side, I would remember the contribution of A until the money was used up, however I would always think of B as a team member and someone who sacrificed their time. Time is always worth more than money since money is often made on the backs of those who don’t get paid much for their time.

Betsy has disappointed many people in this County. I’m not sure yet if this article and the linked articles above is a warning for her or if she is past recovery in our eyes. It is nice to see a politician take a stand on a topic, right or wrong, but her support of changing our County Charter was a bad political decision, not only because she is not a resident of this County, but because the measure she supported was brought about for reasons of spite against the County Commissioners who once supported her.

Losing support of local leaders may doom her political future. Losing support of the local blogging community can be a disaster as well. Her poor decisions and grand standing has already been spotlighted on three blogs and on the forums. This is how it started with Josh. Caution and contrition is strongly advised, Betsy.


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Someone pointed out to me tonight that the Betsy Johnson article I ran earlier last week is missing. I deleted it when I thought I was deleting the draft. Shoot, now I'll have to try to reconstruct it. I'm sure it's a topic I'll be revisiting from time to time. Hope you got to see it the first time around.

The Cook's Dilemma

I’m sure we’ve all heard the advice not to go food shopping when you are hungry. When you do shop hungry you end up buying all sorts of stuff that you want to eat right now. Conversely, when shopping after eating you end up buying more items such as cleaning products and things like tooth paste and personal products.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the difference in your cooking abilities when you are hungry or not, which is cooking way too much or just putting out chips and salsa.

My question here is, how do chiefs and cooks do their jobs? Can one do an entire shift and be hungry the entire time, or have they developed the skill to plod on like a machine even after having a meal? If they sample their food for quality all day as they cook, they can be full after an hour on a shift. How do they keep up with the balance of the workload?

Is there any one in the industry out there who would care to comment? How do you do it?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Boring Music

This is usually the time of year when there is a big push to get new music out before the public for their holiday shopping pleasure. Music sales have been kind of flat over the past few years. Some blame the flat sales on illegal music downloads, however I think it is boredom that is tanking the industry.

There has been a release of two long awaited albums in the last month. Both are boring beyond words. First there is the new collaboration between Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. This collection puts forth a new definition of the word boring. Their voices are well matched, however just about all the songs suck...really badly. They are just about all lullabies. I can't stop yawning. OK, here's my song by song review of the album:

Rich Woman: No one doing anything exciting there. It's like a tune
Chris Isaak would do if he were playing at a retirement home.

King of the Blues: Blue Bayou with a pedal steel. Maybe a lullaby.

Sister Roseta Goes Before Us: Who let the Gypsies in the room? What
the Gypsies have banjos? Fuck we're all doomed!

Polly Come Here: A dirge? Oh my god, doesn't this song ever end? I
can't keep my eyes open.

Gone, Gone, Gone: He should have done this song with Olivia Newton
John in Grease.

Through the Morning, Through the Night: Oh fuck, now I want to kill

Please Read the Letter: Robert, god damn it put your teeth back in.

Trampled Rose: With this song I envision myself sitting wet in the
rain in the woods with a pistol contemplating ending it all. Fuck do
I hear gypsies again or is it Uhura from Star Trek doing a fan dance
in the distance trying to seduce an alien?

Fortune Teller: OK they are running out of ideas, they'll write about
anything. Cha Cha Cha.

Stick With Me Baby: She should have done this song with Aaron
Neville…on second thought no one should have done this song.

Nothin: Finally some sound… well that didn't last long.

Let Your Loss be Your Lesson: Finally a Lesbian song! Krauss would
make a pretty hot Lesbian, don't you think?

Your Long Journey: Where's Mother Maybell?

The other totally boring album is Joni Mitchell’s “Shine.” Totally boring! Why isn’t there anyone putting out music that one would want to listen to more than once. I want to hear a song for the first time and shout, “Damn, that was good!” and I want to keep hitting the replay button on the CD player. I want at least one song that is so good and unique that I want to make an entire CD of that song just so I can play it over and over again without needing to hit the replay button. No artists out seem to be giving me a reason to live these days.

So what and I listening to these days? Rufus Wainwright, but to make the CD that I'm listening to I had to pull songs off of five albums to make one good CD with 14 songs.

If the music industry wants us to start buying music again they have to give us something good to buy. Rat bastards...

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Milk Man

The other day I saw what looked like an old milk truck and it brought back some fond memories of the old days. I’m not talking about the stainless tankers that go to farms and pick up milk for processing. I’m talking about the tall rounded delivery route trucks that were driven by men in white uniforms who would deliver milk to your home.

I remember the milkman we had when I was about four years old. His name was Clarkey and he was a quiet friendly man who always waved and smiled at me through the window when he made his delivery. He would place our family order in an insulated milk box on the porch. I was fascinated by his cream white Divco Milk Truck with rounded brown fenders. I was fascinated how he drove the truck with the doors open.

It was near the end of the age of the milk man when my mother canceled all future milk deliveries. She told me that Clarkey was very upset that he lost yet another customer to the dreaded milk machines that were popping up every where. These big refrigerated vending boxes were found on just about every thoroughfare and vended milk 24 hours a day.

Milk machines just made sense since you got milk when you needed it and the milk came in cardboard cartons so breaking a glass bottle was a thing of the past. Also the milk machines charged less for milk. It was about a quarter for a quart.

I don’t know what the progression of events were like in other parts of the country, but where I lived these machines were around for only about ten years or so before they were replaced by milk stores that sold milk in glass containers again. The one gallon glass jugs had durable plastic handles and I’ve known many people who broke a gallon jug while driving them home in their car. A gallon of milk on the loose in a car certainly changed the character and value of one’s car quickly. Now our milk is packaged mostly in plastic containers

This all came to mind because I have two one gallon glass milk jugs out in my shop. The previous home owner left them behind when he moved out. They are a touch stone of a time gone by which takes me back ever further to recall Clarkey ascending the steps to the porch of the house where I lived.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November 15

It was twenty years ago today that I became an Orgonian. I remember driving to my new home on a cold, clear late afternoon. I just left the title company with the keys. The house was empty and cold.

I wandered around the house with a video camera to record the house as I found it. I haven’t looked at that tape since then, but I should look at it again.

The previous owners left me some wood and some chickens and a duck. I fed the animals before dark and I went in and lit a fire. I don’t recall what I ate that night. It must have been take-out of some sort because I didn’t have a refrigerator.

The next day I went out and bought a washer and drier and a refrigerator. I bought a bed and some other furniture.

The most memorable event of my first 24 hours in Oregon was at one point in the evening I turned off all the lights and went out side. I went into the back yard. It was clear and cold. The frost had already settled on the lawn. I looked up at the vast sky and the stars were magnificent. I heard the sound of coyotes in the distance.

Back then there were few neighboring houses and I could see no lights in the distance, just the woods around the property. I was alone at night in the wilderness. I loved that feeling. It made New Jersey seem that much more distant. I was exactly where I wanted to be. Twenty years later I am still there and I hope to be there twenty years from now.

Cheers to everyone who feels at home where they are. Those who do not, I wish for you the joys of home in the near future. There is nothing quite like it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Talking Turkey

The Turkey Shoot article reminded me of something cool my father did when I was growing up. I guess I am a lot like him in ways. As they say, the nuts don’t fall far from the tree…

Anyway, as you may have read in the Turkey Shoot article, the local Fire Department would hold an annual Turkey Shoot in the Bean Field. As I wrote in the Bean Field article back in September, at one point some of the Bean field had been developed into an A&P Grocery Store and Strip Mall.

Every year since the beginning of time the Fire Department would get all their turkeys from Janek’s, a local family butcher shop, but after the A&P was built they gave their business to the A&P grocery chain.

My father thought that was a poor decision for them to stop supporting a local family owned store and community institution and throw their money at the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. Yes, the A&P had lower prices, but Janek’s was part of the history of our town. My called the Fire Chief and the Mayor to voice his opposition. They wouldn’t budge. From that point on we stopped supporting that fund raiser.

His genes in me have given me the ire when I hear that a Wal*Mart is trying to enter and take over a community.

Here is a link to Janek’s History if you are curious

Monday, November 12, 2007


As spiffy as our modern computers seem to be there is still something that nags me to say that if our toasters acted as badly as our computers; we’d just throw them away.

In actuality, even with all the glitches we encounter, our machines have come a long way. I remember back in the day when we had to write our own programs for our Sinclairs, Apple Is and IIs and Ataris. We could have purchased them, but it was an adventure to get a book or magazine with programs in them. We would save the data on a cassette recorder. You had to follow them exactly line by line. Add a space or misplace an o with a zero and it wouldn’t work. You could spend a week on the more complex programs as though it were a jig-saw puzzle. If it didn’t run you had to search out the missing piece, line by line. What you read were pages of codes like: “00010:If Null goto line 00060.” Line after line, page after page of mind numbing code.

Later versions of DOS allowed us to write batch files. Each version of DOS that came around empowered us more and more, and then came Windows. We still had control with windows because it was still basic DOS with a shell, but it seems with each advancement of window we were given power up front, but took away the underlying powers that we used to dink around with.

Then came HTML and the World Wide Web where we were allowed to learn and use code again. It was grand, but then HTML became so advanced that we could no longer write it without an HTML editor.

As it stands today I won’t even look at the registry. I won’t even look in my Windows or Root directory any more. Maybe I’m just getting too old for the adventure and potential doom of messing with things anymore. There are few things worse than getting your heart broken by a computer.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I recently taught a class down at the Central Coast and spent several days in a hotel on the ocean front. I was lulled to sleep every night with the sound of the ocean in the background. It was a constant white noise of indeterminate waves. I couldn’t pick out the sound of just one wave, but rather I was hearing all the waves crashing together on the beach and off shore. It was constant.

I thought back to my beach days growing up on the East Coast. We didn’t call it the beach back there, it was always the shore. I can’t recall a day at the shore where the sound of the waves ever blended together to make white noise like they do in the Pacific Ocean. In the East a wave will crash, and then there is silence for a moment and then the next wave crashes. Some crash and continue crashing down the beach and you hear them fade in the distance. Some waves come in and crash up and down the beach at the same time in a wondrous thunder.

Though I love the Pacific, I do miss the individual character of the single wave addressing the shore. However, for falling asleep, both oceans have their merit.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Gunpowder and Lead

One reason I no longer like or own guns is because of all the stupid things you can do with them that seem to make sense at the time. I grew up with guns and I understood proper gun safety, but I rarely practiced it.

Once a friend and I shot bullets past one another’s ears just so we could hear what a bullet sounded like when passing by. Another time I used the stock of a gun to pound in a tent stake and the gun went off.

Once when I was in my 20s I had a 45 caliber flint lock pistol. I wanted to shoot it one night so I went in the basement and set up a target in front of a stack of news papers. I didn’t load it with a big charge since it was indoors. When it shot the large 45 caliber ball hit the bundle of news papers and didn’t have enough power to pierce them so the ball bounced off the stack and came back and hit me in the stomach. It didn’t pierce the skin but I had a welt for a month or so.

It was then that I started to realize that there was a pattern developing and that maybe I should give up my passion for the smell of gun powder.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Turkey Shoot

When I was a lad, our local fire department would hold a Turkey Shoot in the field across from where I lived every November. Now, for those of you who immediately conjure up the image of people shooting turkeys, that wasn’t it at all.

T-Posts were driven in the ground and a rope was strung. That was the limit of how close you could get to the targets. About fifty feet away other T-Posts were driven into the ground and a wire ran from post to post. Twenty targets were clipped to the wire.

For a dollar you would buy a shotgun shell for your 12-gage shotgun and you got to shoot in a round. After the twenty targets had been shot at one of the firemen would retrieve them and bring them back to the tent to see who won.

Shot from a gun is not like a bullet. It sprays several lead bbs that randomly hit the target, or not. The shooter who pierces the target closest to the center wins a turkey. If several were too close to call there would be a shoot off.

I’d show up every year with several dollars and the family shotgun, an L.C.Smith, just in case you gun nuts were wondering. I would shoot in the first five rounds. For me it was the excitement of shooting, it wasn’t about winning a turkey, though I did win a few.

When I ran out of money, I would walk down to a tavern that was down the street and ask anyone if they wanted me to shoot for them. Picture this, a twelve year old kid walking into a tavern with a shot gun. It didn’t even raise an eye brow back then. Some of the rummies would give me a buck or two to shoot. Sometimes I won and I’d deliver their turkey certificate. Even if I didn’t win I’d always bring them the target I shot. They’d usually give me some cash for being a cute kid with a gun. I’d take the cash and shoot some more.

It was fun being a kid with a gun and a sore shoulder at the end of one Saturday each November.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Natural Gas Stinks

I’ve written before on how when you write something on a blog, there are people who work for companies who scan blogs just so they can do damage control or plug their industry in the blog comments. I wrote about a product a few months ago and they replied with a message about their company and a contest they were having. Our pal Beth wrote about the problem she was having with another company and their team contacted her immediately to resolve the problem. I believe this happened with my article yesterday. I wrote about electrical power and I got an anonymous reply that talked about the virtues of natural gas. You can read it the reply yesterday.

Their message was purely a positive spin akin to “Who doesn’t love puppies.”
If you continue on to read my reply I go on a rant about how dangerous natural gas is. How often have you seen what is left of a house after a natural gas explosion? It is total destruction.

The gas company TV ads show a gas leak as a guy in a sloppy costume drinking milk out of a carton and then the utility worker comes and rounds him up and takes him away in his van. What they should show is what is left after an explosion and how entire neighborhoods get evacuated.

I can think of no reason, even economic that would justify having this dangerous substance pumped into ones home. A simple internet search will reveal the hundreds of times houses explodes because of natural gas. Then there are pipe line explosions. This stuff is by no means safe.

Add to that, here in Dried Salmon County we are being courted by several Texas LNG companies who not only want to build large storage tanks facilities along the Columbia River, and have large bulbous tankers coming into these ports several times a week, but they are going to build a couple hundred miles of pipeline that will render a lot of agriculture and forest land unsafe, useless and unsellable. The frequency of pipeline explosions is alarming in this country. The frequency of home and business explosions in this country is alarming as well.

So, it isn’t enough that they want to endanger our river, our shores and our property inland, but they want you to believe it is perfectly safe for home use, even though it doesn’t smell like chocolate chip cookies.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I turn off lights and appliances when they aren’t in use. I often don’t turn lights on unless it is absolutely too dark to function. Some people have this habit and some don’t. Though I can be smug about this (what I see as an) attribute, I can also be smug about turning off the lights when people leave them on.

I’ve spoken with people about this before and I asked how this energy saving mind set came to them. Some credit their Hippy parents. Some credit the energy crisis of the 70s. There are all sorts of reasons out there but mine is a little different.

I once had a bicycle with a headlight on it. I could have gotten a battery powered light however batteries were different in those days. They didn’t last as long as the Alkaline batteries we use these days. Sometimes twenty minutes was all you could get out of a battery powered lamp.

My bicycle light was powered by a generator which was a device that you clamped to the frame of your bicycle and when you needed to use the light you would slide and lock the turning wheel of the generator into place. The wheel would rest upon your tire and as the bicycle wheel turned the generator wheel would be spun by the bicycle tire. The problem was that these generators took so much energy to power one light bulb that it was tiring. You would even have to peddle while going down hill.

Yes, products now consume much less energy to get the same results, but still, can you imagine what sort of effort one would need to put out to power a toaster?

I’ve been to some museums that have devices that let the participant see exactly how much effort it takes to power a single light bulb. Everyone who tries this will think differently about leaving lights on.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I had an acquaintance once that grew up as a bit of a red neck on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He did go to college and became an executive with a major international corporation. Oddly, even with his education and the fact that he spent years with the cultured upper crust his redneck heritage constantly shone through.

We were once in a car together. We drove by this Dutch Colonial home that had a large divided light, floor to ceiling bay window with probably a hundred panes of glass in it. The photo above is the closest I could find and it does not do the window in this house justice. It was spectacular.

Now most people would think how beautiful it would be to be inside that beautiful house looking through that semi circle wall of glass. They would think how esthetically pleasing the relationship was between window and the house and the garden.

George was not like most people. As we drive by this place he says, “Damn, I’ve always wanted to throw someone through that window, and I think of this every time I drive by it.”

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sick Day XVIII

I am completely and totally sick of Betsy Johnson. She is no longer a real person. She’s just someone who is totally politically reactive. She yammers on and on with so many “I” statements that I want to puke just from hearing the shrill of her voice.

She totally mishandled her support of measure 4-123. She probably thinks that Josh is more popular than he really is and by supporting him it will earn her some points with the voters here in Dried Salmon County. Think again, Betsy.

The airport deal got you noticed and now you are being scrutinized. We are now seeing one bad decision after another. Your next campaign will be a difficult one because not only do you make me sick, but I see this sickness is already spreading through out the community.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chinese Food

I never tire of Chinese food. I wonder why that is? I get tired of every other cuisine after two meals, but I can do Chinese food for two meals a day for weeks and never tire of it. I’m not all that fond of Japanese or Thai food. Mexican food is boring, at least the way it is presented here in the North.

It’s just Chinese food that I’m crazy about. Also, I can't cook Chinese food very well, so I'm at the mercy of restaurants. But then I've always heard that food always tastes better when some one else cooks it.

I know, I've been doing a lot of food posts lately and I promise to stop. It's just the change in the season that is making me want to pack on a few pounds, crawl into a cave and hibernate until spring.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Smell of Lunch

Writing about the cucumber sandwiches the other day brought to mind all the memories of going to grammar school. It was a small Catholic school and it didn’t have a working cafeteria. We ate lunch at the bingo tables that were set up in the gym/auditorium. Of course they had bingo tables; it was a Catholic school.

Since we couldn’t buy lunch, everyone brown bagged their mid day meal. Some kids had lunch boxes, but it was easier for my mother to pack me a sandwich wrapped in foil and placed into a Garden State Farms bag.

The interesting thing about a brown bag lunch is that when you get to school, your sandwich is still cold, but as the morning advances the sandwich gets warmer and starts off-gassing. By 10:00AM you can smell what is in the bag. The food smells waft out of the rack or cubby hole under your seat.

It would be a game to guess what was for lunch. Every sandwich possess its own scent. Think back and you will distinctively know the difference in the scent of tuna as compared to bologna as compared to peanut butter and jelly as compared to bacon lettuce as compared to egg salad...

I recently packed a sack lunch when I had to go out of town for a day. The scent of the sandwich wafted through my truck. I could smell the bread and the mayo and the turkey breast and the tomatoes. It stimulated my appetite so much I had to indulge before I got half way to my destination.

I know of people who have lost their sense of smell and I feel sad for them because they are missing out on the best of what food has to offer.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Holy Cow

Sorry I'm late, My net was down.

From the outside one might think that cows are all alike. I’ve heard people call bulls cows before and it was obvious they were bulls, even to the untrained eye. “Cow” denotes the sex of the bovine. Calling all bovines cows is like going to a kennel and saying, “Look at all these bitches!” Not all dogs are bitches, only female dogs are, which brings to mind, what is the term for male dogs? If there isn’t one I vote for calling them “Bastards.”

OK, I got off track here. What I was getting at is that there is a difference between dairy bovines and meat bovines, but more importantly there is a big difference between dairy men and cattle men. Having met both it seems that it is like the difference is so vast, you would think there were working with two totally different creatures.

Cattle men are often tall, thin guys with weather aged leather skin. They will often look at you skeptically and quickly look away to the sky or to the soil as though they are checking for conditions that are about to change. Cattle men are loners in vast spaces. They need no company or comradery. Their vision is hawk-like. You don’t ever want to get in a fight with a cattleman. Though they may seem too thin to defend themselves, they have resolve and a resourcefulness that will over power any opponent.

On the other hand, the dairyman most often will appear to be well fed and friendly. They love company and they love talking. They will share opinions with you and look you in the eye when they talk to you. In fact they look you in the eye to the point where it may become uncomfortable. To get them to look away all you have to do is ask about their herd, and they will look away to see if there is a cow in sight that they can make an example of.

I may be wrong but it seems that the cattlemen think of their bovines as a commodity, but the dairymen think of their bovines as family. My hat is off to both of you.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


About thirty years ago I worked with an old guy named Watson, and yes, that was his first name. His mother was ahead of the curve of white people who name their children after other people’s last names.

Watson was, as I said, old. He was way past the age when most people pack it in and retire. Work was his life. He is probably still working if he is still alive.

Watson didn’t walk, he shuffled. There was always a cigar stuffed in the corner of his mouth. Yes, for those of you too young to remember one could actually smoke a cigar indoors back then. Shoot, there were even ash trays in hospitals and medical waiting rooms.

I was concerned for Watson once when we exited the building together. I stopped at the curb to wait for a break in traffic before crossing the street, but Watson just shuffled into the street. Traffic stopped to let him cross, I followed. When we arrived safely I scolded Watson, saying, “Damn it Watson, you could have been killed!”

Watson rolled his cigar from one corner of his mouth to the other and looked at me squarely and said, “I live my life.”