Thursday, May 31, 2007

About Face


The photo above was found on flickr.com, and it is something I've done with my own face in the past. You will notice that the left face looks friendlier than the stern right side.

It is odd that we humans can pick up on something as subtle as an eye brow that is elevated slightly higher on one side of the face which we give a characteristic meaning to. We can look at someone and we can instinctively see something deeper about them. We can generally judge if we like someone or not at first glance. It is a totally silly extra sense that we seem to employ quite regularly as humans.

Here is how to see yourself as a right and a left faced person. Photograph your face with a neutral expression, split the image in half, make an extra copy of both sides, turn them around so as to join the right side with an inverted right side photo to make a whole face and do the same with the left side. You will see that when the two right sides are together you look like a different person than you do when the two left sides are together. Somewhere in between is the real you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Handsome Women


There is an odd term out there and that is, “A Handsome Woman.” The word “handsome” usually infers a masculine good looks rather than delicate pulchritude.

I’ve analyzed the faces of a few people I know and to me it seems that my definition of handsomeness in women stems directly from something as simple as a nose being a bit more prominent or wider on one’s face. Sometimes it’s the position of the jaw that will make some women handsome. This is not to say the features aren’t feminine, they are, but just not delicate.

I once saw a photo of three sisters next to one another. Two of the sisters were very feminine looking and the third sister was handsome. The handsome sister was not at all unattractive. She was just as attractive as the other two, but she was more handsome with less delicate facial features.

I really have no where to go with this other than it being an observation. I will see a handsome woman every now and then and I'll think to my self, "now there is a handsome woman", but then I feel bad for thinking that. I wish there were other terms for attractive women who don't possess pixie-like features. The term handsome seems so unjust.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Things I Haven't Done


I often write about my experiences on this blog and recently I’ve been thinking about things I’ve never done and probably never will do. For instance I’ve never been to a topless bar. I’ve never had a lap dance. I’ve never been in a gay bar. I’ve never been with a prostitute, though I did know someone who was prostituting herself to pay her way through medical school.

I do have one funny prostitute story. I was in Hawaii near the Marriot in Wakiki, and friendly young woman wearing tight black clam diggers and a tied above the stomach buttoned Hawaiian shirt approached me with an unlit cigarette. She asked me if I had a match, and I told her that I didn’t smoke and I didn’t have a match. She then asked if I wanted some company for an hour or so. I realized she was a hooker and my answer was, “Sorry, but I don’t date smokers.” She laughed and walked looking for another match.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Jokers Are Wild


The other day, Tom at 33 Days posted a list of practical jokes he has been playing on people recently. It made me think of a few I have done (that I can admit to due to an elapsed statute of limitations) over the years.

One place where I worked I replaced motivational posters with demotovational posters and no one noticed.

Another place I worked had painting contractors painting the facility. They would hang up “Wet Paint” signs everywhere. I printed up “Dry Paint” signs and hung them over the wet paint signs.

I once mailed a can of spam to someone who e-mailed me too frequently. As you can see my attempts are feeble compared to the masters.

One of my favorite pranksters is John Fraser of Cannon Beach. He (allegedly) purchased a bunch of keys at a garage sale, and put a string tag on each one that said, “US Bank Back Door” and scattered them all over town. People were turning in the keys at the bank and at the police station for days. The police were not amused. The funny thing was that the US Bank didn’t have a back door. The police were not amused.

My all time favorite prankster is Moosehead who works in an agricultural field. He initiates his new employees by backing his truck up to an electric fence making sure there is contact. Then he asks his employee get out of the truck. Once their feet hit the ground they drop to their knees. Yep, it’s kind of on the cruel side, but dang, I’d like to see it.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Possessed


With the Long Beach 100 Mile (or what ever they call it) garage sale going on this weekend, I figured this would be a good article to run.

The human desire for possessions is such an odd thing. I am amazed even by the collection of things I’ve accumulated over the years. Yes, we all needs tools of sorts to do things we feel we need to do, but our collecting nature somehow weaves out of control and becomes a behavioral disorder.

It all seems to start with good intentions, but somehow the things we possess begin possessing us. Eventually, that which we once wrongly considered as assets begins draining us of our assets by guilting us into renting storage units or building extensions onto our houses.

Just talking with people I’ve come up with the two major offending possessions that people deal with and rarely use:

1. Sporting equipment. It seems that people get interested in some activity, but soon find the idea of the activity was much more intriguing than the actual activity. How many times have you been in someone’s house and saw a dusty set of golf clubs in the same place in the garage for the last ten years? Bicycles and skis are also on that list along with ping pong tables and billiard tables. I have three tennis rackets and I’ve only played tennis twice in my life.

2. Exercise equipment. People should never buy this equipment, even if they designed an entire room in their house to hold this equipment. It will never be used after the first week. Join a club or go for a walk, just don’t waste your money on equipment.

If you ever get a bug to buy any sporting or exercise equipment you should really question if you will still be interested in owning it a month later. It will keep you from having a garage sale next year.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Split Writing Personalities


As many of you know I don't get up and write my articles every morning at 5AM. Instead I write them in advance and post them after 5AM. I was working on this article yesterday and hit "post" rather than "save as draft." So this article was up for about 10 minutes before I realized it and took it down. So if you read it yesterday, you have the day off today. Here it is:

There are a couple blogs I visit for ulterior motives. I’m not so interested in the blogs, but I am interested in the people who reply to these blogs. The people who reply have the funniest most engaging things to say when they comment on blog articles, but when you click their profile and visit their blogs there is little creativity there.

How could this be? How can someone be so good and on when writing comments on someone’s blog, but on their own blogs their writing is poor and uninteresting? It’s almost like a personality disorder. It’s like people who behave totally differently depending who they are with. Like when they are at home they are upstanding citizens, but take them to Las Vegas and they become the person who they have locked up inside them.

I know we all do this from time to time, but how does one turn off the creativity when the lights go down?

I am pretty much myself in all situations. I wake up and I’m me. I write my blog and I’m me. Sure I may be a bit more inflammatory on the blog at times; more than I would be in a face to face situation if I didn’t know someone very well, but I’m still me.

So how can someone who always says the brightest things in a reply not be so clever when they produce their own material?

Just in case you are wondering, these people have never visited this blog and I don’t have their blogs on bloglines and they don’t live around here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Cut


Recent events in the county has people wondering what would happen if their personal income were cut by 15%. Personally 15% would have been a joy compared to what my wife and I have endured over the last year or so. To make a long story short, due to an illness our family income was reduced by 43% in the last year. It is doubtful that sum will ever come back to its former glory.

So what do you do to maintain the life style you’ve become accustomed to when nearly half of your income goes away?

The largest expense for us is the mortgage. It was really a costly monthly payment being that it was a fixed rate, 15 year loan. We had to refinance to a 30 year loan. That cut our monthly expense nearly in half.

Though we pay more for our electricity because we are 100% on the Blue Sky Plan which funds renewable resource generation like wind power, we further reduced our consumption by 20% just by being more vigilant about turning off the juice when not in use.

We no longer go out to eat. We no longer go to movies or concerts. Also we avoid going to the store when we find we are out of something. We now wait and shop only once every week. If we run out of something, there is always a list going for the next week and the item will need to wait.

We now get most of our prescriptions through mail-order where the co-pays are usually much less than through a walk-in pharmacy. We also get a 90 day supply rather than a 30 day supply which is only available through mail order.

We cut the amount of channels we subscribe to on our satellite TV. We used to have 180 channels, and are now down to 50 and HBO. We will probably drop to just a basic service after the final season of the Sopranos is over.

Rather than buy books we paid to join the Astoria Library. It too is expensive if you don’t live in the city, but much less than what we were paying to buy the books we read every month.

So it seems that it is totally possible to survive a massive pay cut. So far so good and I haven’t had to look for additional work. Hopefully agriculture will keep us afloat again this year.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Scent


There are some common bad smells that turn my stomach. It’s a slow day on the blog so here is my list:

Microwave popcorn
Patchouli
An electrical ballast that is burning out
Cat urine
Cars that have had big dogs in them over a period of time
Urinal cakes (but I guess it is better than a world without them.)
Feet
Cooking cabbage
Pig shit
Pine-sol

My favorite smells:

Cookies baking
Cinnamon
The combination of wood smoke and horse shit together.
The ocean (sometimes)
Mimeograph copies (only we old folks remember that one.)
A bicycle shops
A freshly cut tree
Lumber yards
Cedar shavings
Coffee

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Freedom to Speak


I have to say that I am proud of the citizens of Dried Salmon County who feel that there is still enough freedom in this country that they can voice their opposition to the powers that be.

There is an on-going opposition to the war every Friday at the Post Office. On Sunday there was a group marching in opposition to LNG. Lately this blog along with its associated Astoria Rust Forum, Dried Salmon Blog and Forum, North Coast Oregon, Jeff Hazen’s blog and the District Attorney’s blog have been the hot seat for exchanges of points of view and comedy. I recently looked at my stats and can’t believe the amount of traffic these comments are getting.

I was trying to think up a phrase that would capture what is going on in our little corner of the cyber universe. There is such passion among the writers. There are also some mean spirited exchanges and many claiming the moral high ground. There are accusations and evidence being called into question. There is a quarrel between philosophies; means of understanding and values.

This particular article isn’t about my thoughts and concerns in the matter, but rather an appreciation of the process that we are all going through to keep everything within view and open for all to read and form their own opinions or organize a dispute.

The phrase I came up is Anarchistic Democracy. To me it may be the prefect term to describe that which is happening all over the country in opposition to the freedoms we’ve already surrendered and lost. This is the time for debate on all levels. The things we deem as evil must be removed. So folks, it’s good to see such diverse voices out there.

Sure there will be detractors who oppose any contribution of anonymous opinion, but it is the idea that is important. These forums and blogs give everyone the microphone in equal portions. Keep those ideas and opinions flowing.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My First


I was thinking about my first bicycle the other day. I don’t remember my age at the time, but I think I was a late starter. I was probably seven years old when I learned to ride on my brother’s bike. As I remember his bike was a black bare-bones utility thing. It had no charm; just function.

As I kid I was good at saving money. Any birthday money or coins that came my way got socked away. I’d count it every day and I was so proud to have saved up $53.96, a figure I remember to this day; nearly fifty years later.

The only bicycle shop in town was on the other side of the tracks. By this I don’t mean to infer a social condition of the neighborhood, but rather an actual physical divide of our town of which there are only three ways to cross under.

This bike shop was called, “Young World.” Besides bicycles they sold cribs and baby furniture, toys and games. Half of the store was dedicated to bicycles.

The store was owned by two brothers. One was tall and thin and had a bald head, and an eye lid on one eye that only opened half way. The brother looked like Shemp from the Three Stooges. They were nice enough and tolerated unaccompanied children in their store who constantly flooded in to buy gum or sparklers or ogle at the shinny new Schwinns on the sales floor.

I was in the store with my mother one day. She was buying a gift for someone and I as usual went to look at the bikes. One of the brothers was rolling out a new bike they had just assembled in the back room. It was a beautiful two toned, brown and white Rudge 3-speed English Racer. It was magnificent, so much so that I nearly fell to my knees when it was parked right before me. I looked at the tag in hopes that the price tag would be within my $53.96 price limit. It was $68.00 and that was $14 more than I had. It would take me a month or two to dig up that sort of cash back then. A seven year old could only do so many chores and cash in so many deposit bottles.

I was never one to ask my parents for financial assistance. Even at seven years of age I knew their financial situation with four children didn’t leave much for luxury. In my mind I knew that this bike was a luxury.

I guess I behaved differently than all the other times I had gone in that shop with my mother. It must have been evident that I was struck with the beauty of this machine. She asked me what I thought about it. I earnestly said, “I wonder if they will put it on lay away for me?”

My earnestness paid off. My mother pulled four crisp twenty-dollar bills from her purse and told me to go buy it. I was thrilled. I told her I would ride it home and that I would give her my savings when I got there, which I did.

I’ll never forget my first ride on that bike, going under the railroad trestle and up the hill on the long straight-away home. The freedom, the wind in my hair and burning in my legs from pumping the peddles up the small hills. I was now a cyclist.

This was my first major purchase. I took good care of that bicycle until I outgrew it. I eventually traded it in when I was in the seventh grade for a purple Schwinn Ten-Speed. Since then I’ve had two Peugeot racing bikes that I moved out here with. I quickly found the roads out here eat half inch racing tires and I gave those bikes away. I now have a Mongoose mountain bike which I don’t ride or clean often enough, but I’m still in the game.

I relive my first bike when ever I see a young kid peddling with joy and living in the moment on their best friend in transportation. May their memories be as fond as mine.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Walking


Walking interests me. I was somewhere recently watching people walk. They were going everywhere in all directions. People, young and old were finding the need to be somewhere else. Some desires were intense while others were more casual.

We don’t even think about walking unless we for some reason can’t do it. My father spent the last fifteen years of his life in a wheel chair. He told me he often dreamt of walking. He would wake with momentary joy thinking he actually did walk again, but realized the reality when the dream faded as he awoke.

I once spent some time with friends who had just finished medical school. As we drove through the city they would discuss the pathology of people walking down the street. You can tell a lot about people by the way they walk.

Walking as a biped is interesting. You actually lean and fall forward and then you catch yourself quickly with another foot. Continuing with the momentum you lean forward and begin another fall and catch your self with your other foot.

The first steps of a toddler are magical. You can actually see them get it and they keep improving their skills and learn to run and eventually dance.

Sometimes I stand back and look at the patterns of my walking on the dew sprinkled lawn while doing my morning chores. There is a lot of coming and going. Animal tracks in the snow are always interesting as well. Rarely ever a direct line is seen. Meandering is the way of like with animals as well. It reminds me of the comic strip "Family Circus" where the cartoon shows the varried path of children as they go about their day. A straight line is never seen.

All of it is a flirt with a fall, but we continue forward.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Phone Books


It seems that just about every week there is a new phone book lands in my driveway in a plastic bag. There is Dex, My Little Phone Book, The Yellow Book. Enough with the phone books already! There must be big money in publishing these things. I wonder how businesses can afford to be in all these books.

Maybe you phone book publishers should make them available only to those who request them. Send me a card in the mail and if I want your book I’ll reply. It’s just sad to see the natural resources that go into publishing just one edition.

Hint, I get all the numbers I need on-line.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Country Life


I know I haven’t whined about this in a while, but it is now official, I no longer live in the country. When I first moved out there I couldn’t see another neighboring house. Now it seems that I can see 13 houses. Oddly when people move to what was once the country it is necessary to bring with them at least one barking dog and three children with motorcycles. You also have to be afraid of the dark and leave your lights on 24 hours a day.

On Thursday we were out with the horses and realized that we couldn’t hear one another talking over the sound of no less than three motorcycles, two lawn mowers, several barking dogs and a couple weed whackers.

I am hoping for rain; heavy rain.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Just So Everyone Knows


In the event you listen to or read local news media and you can’t figure out where they are coming from and why; here is a re-cap.

The Daily Astorian is known as a bleeding heart newspaper to some, but I think they just pander to what ever audience they have on any particular day. They are scoop whores, so if you give them the scoop, they are your friend. This is why Josh Marquis gets such good press with them. He tries in cases in the Daily Astorian. He calls Forrester every time he gets a pimple on his ass. Josh knows how to work the press; sensationally. Instead of handling his recent loss of County based funding by negotiation and offering something, or dealing with it in a productive way that would build trust, Josh goes right on the offensive with a headline, “It was like they spit in my face!” Josh is working the media like he always does instead of attempting to find a reasonable solution.

He understands spin and putting people on the defensive. Now the Daily Astorian is asking the County Manager to offer 15% of his salary. Apples and oranges, Forrester! Marquis is employed by the state, Derickson is employed by the County. Scott Derickson is only a messenger who does what the Budget Committee and the Commissioners ask him to do. Forrester have you lost your f-ing mind. You should know better that to try to spin this in Josh's favor. You are way off base. Maybe you are thinking we should throw a 15% tip at the State Police who also do work in this county. Let's not forget the State Parks and Forestry employees. What about all the people who work in the State Building on Marine Drive? 15% for them, too? I think that all the staff of the District Attorney should be employed by the State and the State should pay the County for the court rooms and offices it uses.

Let's say for a moment that maybe all this is about is about people not liking Josh. If you have an entire Budget Committee and a majority of the County Commissioners and County Staff that don't like the DA (throw in a couple hundred blog readers and a couple thousand under-voters), maybe the man is really not wanted here and perhaps he should consider going elsewhere because his presence and credibility is now going to get in the way of the cases he is bringing before the courts. I know that I would have to claim prejudice against the DA if I were selected for jury duty.

Another odd bit about Forrester and Webb, and I’ve mentioned this before, the Astorian endorsed Kulongowski for Governor, but these two endorsed Saxton in the Capitol Press. WTF? You are pandering to your audience, just like the DA.

Next, let’s move onto New Northwest Broadcasters, KAST in particular. This pseudo news organization panders to its conservative base and the dolts that call in on the “I Hate My Neighbor and Everybody is a Jerk” call in show. The host claims to be a Democrat, yet tolerates the Hate Radio format with the racist, (and friend of Josh), Lars Larson, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, and that other old guy who has teeth that whistle. This station will support anything that offers advertising dollars, Bradwood Landing LNG for one.

So we have one news paper that can be bought with a scoop and a promise of continuing scoops, and we have a radio station that one can buy with advertising dollars. Everything you hear or read comes from this base.

Just so every one knows.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Governance


What ever happened to individuality? So often I hear of people being chastised for not saluting the greater concept. Employers want team players so people bend and give up on their convictions to the like minded goals that is generally dictated by what the leaders say is the vision of their future.

I especially like it when someone comes forward from within an organization and spews their contrary opinion. Most memorable was when a County Road Crew employee, I think his name is Wheatley, laid into the then Road Manager, Randy Trevillian in a well worded letter to the Editor of the Daily Astorian. Trevillian was up to some dirty work at the time which I will not go into here and now. This letter writer was someone who was not afraid of the repercussions of bringing an alternate truth to the surface. He stuck his neck out and said his piece.

More recently Karen Mellin, Clatsop Community Board member, wrote a letter to the Editor highlighting all the attempts the college has made over the years to push through a bond for a new campus and how the college stopped listening to the public years ago. She spoke of her opposition to this because of what the public voices to her. This is no election year stunt by Mellin since her term isn’t up until 2009. She is a board member who had her cries covered up by the majority of peers in her circle. Karen is not one to goose step with the others. She is doing the job that the voters asked her to do. So far the college has failed to fund a bond for a new campus at MERTS, Down Town, John Warren Field, and a cow pasture in Warrenton. It is time to stop all the bond madness and move onto plan B. Or is this now plan E? Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We can't afford to keep learning on these bond issues. Move on...

Personally I do think we need a new campus, but not for the reasons being presented by the present board. For me it is the energy concern. The old campus has tens of thousands of square feet of single paned glass and little if any insulation in walls or ceilings. The heating cost can be cut drastically with new energy efficient buildings and heat sources.

Still, with my opinion aside, I totally respect what Mellin and Wheatley have done. I love it when people stand of against the smoky back rooms, good-old-boy network and the way things have always been done in the past. These people have leadership skills because they have no fear. A lack of fear can often be a bad thing, but when used in conjunction with what it right, it becomes golden.

If you hear the words, “Shared Governance” coming from someone in your organization; run for your life. This phrase comes from a weak leader who is afraid to make an unpopular decision. It turns everyone into a stakeholder and promotes like mindedness. When something goes bad all stakeholders are to blame and share this blame equally along with the leader.

This is not to say that a good leader shouldn’t ask for advice; they should always seek the council of others. However, they alone are at the top of the food chain and they alone should render a decision and take the praise or condemnation that follows.

Ask yourself if you are a leader. Would you write a letter to the Editor about an injustice you see in your workplace or in a civic organization to which you belong? Most people wouldn’t. I salute the individuals out there who dare to be individuals and leaders.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Noooo! Not Again!


Today I will conclude the writings of my recent trip to Bend. I know to some people that is a trip they can do every week and it doesn’t bother them a bit. I’m a bit more of a home body so anything further than a hundred miles raises my anxiety level.

This is mostly because I don’t trust the vehicle I’m driving. I don’t care what the vehicle is or how old or new it is I always seem to encounter a problem on the road. Once a couple years ago we were going to a horse show in Albany, Or and we had a tire blow out, but the problem with an all wheel drive vehicle you can’t just replace one tire, you need to replace them all.

Last fall I went to a conference in Newport, and that took out my power steering.

When I was driving cross country to move out here my thermostat got stuck in the open position. The car ran cool all the way here which means the heat never worked. Leaving Rock Springs at 5am when it was 12 degrees out wasn’t a good idea.

On a recent trip to Colton my check engine light came on, but that was because the kid at the filling station didn’t tighten up the fuel cap.

Every once in a while when I’m on the highway and I smell gasoline, I immediately think I have a leak. Or if I smell antifreeze I think my head gasket is blown. Why can't I smell something good while I'm driving? Something like cookies...

So here I am returning from Bend and my check engine light comes on at Kah-Nee-Ta. I'm a 190 miles from home. AAA will tow 100 miles for free, and I feel better the nearer I get to Portland. This time my transmission seems to be slipping. I drove all the way home. The shop I go to tells me that I should really panic when the light starts flashing; it didn't. As it ends up the problem is a throttle arm switch, a $210 repair.

I’m starting to have an aversion to travel. I wonder how others constantly travel and get away with it. I would like to go somewhere just once and not have a problem.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

200 Mile Difference


I’m sure you’re all tired of all the writing I’ve been doing about my recent trip to Bend, but I’m constantly looking for blog fodder. Spending long evenings in a hotel room gave me a lot of time to write about the things that were around.

One of the cool things I always forget about when visiting a higher elevation area is that when you open a shampoo bottle you packed at sea level, the content blasts out.

I was amazed by how many Native Americans I saw hitch hiking on the back roads.

When I left Astoria, I listened to KMUN, 91.9. When the first Ken Nordine tape was finished, 91.9 was a Portland Christian station. In Bend, 91.9 is the Community Radio Station of the Warm Springs Reservation. They would play Native drum and chanting music in the early morning. Every hour they would teach you a new Native phrase.

Though Bend is only 200 miles away, the geography, plants and culture are so different. At times it was like visiting another country. One can easily be distracted from the culture when you see all the national shopping chains stacked up on the roadside. And they are putting in a new Wal*Mart about 20 miles away from an existing one. It is so sad to see this uncontrolled franchise growth. Soon the sage brush and the scrub jays will be all that is left of the old Bend, and you’ll have to go further out to see them.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Don't Jump!


While driving to Bend on Rt. 197 from The Dalles I was able to see the beautiful country where the hay that I feed my horses comes from. After passing through the agricultural belt as you are rising in elevation you enter a hundred mile area of sage brush. The road is long and curvy and hilly. The horizon is punctuated by high tension transmission lines.

As a younger man I may have been tempted to do this trip on bicycle, but I’m no longer seeking such adventure. This road is a long one. You don’t want to leave The Dalles with less than a half tank of fuel because you won’t make it to the next gas station in Madras.

Speaking of adventure, while passing through the town of Maupin you drive across a bridge that is probably over a hundred feet above the cold and swift moving Deschutes River. On this bridge there is a sign that states that it is unlawful to jump or dive from this bridge. I’m sure they had to put that sign up because they had a problem with people doing just that. Wouldn’t it be interesting to place that sign on the Golden Gate Bridge or the George Washington Bridge? Maybe we can get one for the Astoria/Megler Bridge.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Good Things About Hotels


First let me say that when I stay in a hotel I never stay in a shit hole. I usually stay in a national or regional chain. I have had to stay in lesser hotels or motels on occasion like after being on the road for 18 hours and realizing it would be better to sleep in a bed rather than behind the wheel. Yep, places with painted cinderblock walls, warn carpets, leaking faucets… However now, my stays away from home these days are less spontaneous.

So in the places I now stay I must give my compliments go to the wallpaper contractors who work in hotel rooms. They usually do a great job. The carpet layers also usually do a good job.

Hotel furniture always seems sturdy and well made. The art in the rooms is getting much better these days as well.

I always wonder how it is that hotel rooms have hot water on demand. You turn on the hot faucet and hot water pours out within two seconds. How do they do that? I know it takes about 30 seconds to get hot water to my bathroom at home, but in a hotel, it’s always ready.

I’m also glad to see hotels offering to not wash your bed linens every day to save water, energy and money. I’m also glad to see them all using florescent bulbs in all their lamps these days. Some times the lights have to warm up to shine at full illumination, bit the light is soft like a regular light bulb.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

10 Problems With Hotels




With as much traveling as I’ve done over the years I find that most hotels share similar problems. Actually they aren’t problems; they are more in the order of annoying quirks.

First, why is it the curtains never close all the way? You pull them together, yet they still have an open gap where they join.

Second, why don’t hotel rooms ever have a night light? I’m a stranger in a strange room and I don’t want to turn on lights just to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

Third, why does the bedding always feel like plastic? Nothing feels like natural fiber.

Fourth, where do they get their pillows? They are too puffy so when you lay your head down on one the rest of the pillow comes up around the side of your head.

Fifth, What’s up with the huge television cabinets that take up a lot of real estate in the rooms? They try to hide the TV and to watch it you must open doors that only open wide enough to view it from one bed.

Sixth, in trying to upscale rooms for the business traveler they now have large desks with room for a laptop and a nice executive chair that when in place needs to be moved away in order to pass.

Seventh, what shitty tile setters do they hire to lay bathroom tile? It is rare to ever see a well done tile job in a hotel.

Eighth, what’s with the popcorn ceilings?

Ninth, why is so hard to regulate the heat in a hotel room.

Tenth, why are shower heads so low? If you are over five feet tall you have to bend over backwards to get your hair wet in the shower.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Opening Sunday Market


The Astoria Sunday Market begins again this Sunday. I will probably go and see some old friends, step in some dog shit and come back to write yet another anti-dog article.

Really people, let’s have respect for others and leave Poochie at home. I know you think that Poochie is a family member and thus deserves all the benefits a two legged child deserves, but really, Poochie is a dog. Poochie can lick his or her own anus and does so often and with vigor. Poochie even loves licking the anus of other animals. The next time I see a dog licking a human’s lip I’m going to puke. Just seeing people with their ass licking dogs makes me want to puke. So please, just for me, leave them at home.

Now for my personal ass kissing moment, Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

May 10th


It was May 10, 2006 when I first wandered in to the wonderful world of blogs. I was searching the internet for a local photo for some reason I don’t remember. I came across the Dude Mung Blog, and I ventured further from there to other blogs he had linked on his site. It made me miss my previous local web sites, the 4B10 Zone and Touchy Feely U. I though it was time to be back on the web. I always felt better when I let my creative juices flow.

The first day I posted two articles and I’ve been posting ever since. It has generally been a positive experience. There have been a few bumps in the road. I’ve made many friends and a few enemies in the last year.

I’m proud of many of the articles I’ve written. Most of the best stuff (in my opinion) just started with a vague idea and then blossomed into a full blown left wing rant. The articles actually firmed my convictions. My personal favorites include my anti United Way articles, Nimby, about our garbage and my agricultural pieces.

The defining article about the Dried Salmon District Attorney in July really put this blog on the map. The replies to that topic were still pouring in even after the article was archived. Trying to get out of the Josh business, I created the forum were the readers could hash and rehash the topic if they wished to do so. Oddly the topic has moved over to the Dried Salmon Forum, (not associated with this blog) and the topic still has legs. Back in last July I had no idea that an elected official could be so hated and distrusted among the people of the county. He really should pass the job onto someone. Josh is no longer respected and one needs respect in that position.

There have been times when I’ve considered cutting back and posting only weekly articles, but somehow the topics keep surfacing and I keep writing. I do hope this inspiration continues and my abilities are able to keep up.

As for future plans I hope to have a drink with Mo3 and Auntie L, and I’ll bring the pepper spray if Mo3s dogs gang up on me. I hope to meet Syd in Mississippi one day.I hope to meet all the Canadians who visit and comment, Beth, Boo, Trish and Moose. Hey, what ever happened to Boo, I miss her. Trish, send her my love. Gearhead, the kids from Seattle(I am still unable to log onto your blogs except Amaya) Zoe, Rich, Mel, TH, Jaggy, Lori, Donna, CB, Mo3 and Slave Hubby, Auntie, Love Anon, Jeff, Robb, Sharon, Lelo, Trop, Wen; thanks for dropping by. I know I'm forgetting someone... And to all you who read and never comment. I know who many of you shy folks are, and I'll never tell that you are checking the blog from work ; )

So today is the one year Blogaversary of Astoria Rust. I’ll probably spend some time reading the archives today. Not so much to relive those post, but rather to avoid writing about the same topics a second time.

My thanks go out to all of you who come back to read this stuff every day. This dopey blogger is honored and touched by your constant returns and comments. Lets move ahead into the second year together, shall we?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Check It!


Here we are living in the enlightened age of electronics. We can be just about anywhere and access just about any information we could ever possibly need. You can be in the middle of the ocean and find out where the closest Dunkin Donuts is to your location with a GPS device. You can consult complex air line schedules on line, then book a flight and pay for the tickets on line and then pay off your credit card on line as well. You can book your rental car and hotel and score tickets to a performance all within seconds.

We have computers in our cars that will tell you your elapsed mileage, your average MPG, your average speed, the miles you have left until you run out of gas, the inside and outside temperature and direction of travel. It can all be changed from standard to metric with the push of one button.

OK, we have all this, so why do we still have a check engine light that is expected to monitor everything associated with the engine and drive train? This light will come on if someone doesn’t tighten up their gas cap. It doesn’t ever tell you what the problem is, just that there is a problem. Then you have to go to a service center where they have to hook up a code reader to see what the problem is. If it isn’t a problem they can then reset it so the light goes off.

My question is; why can’t they make a read-out that tells you what the problem is so you can fix it your self? How about if they made one that would tell you how severe your problem is? Maybe one you can reset after you fix the problem, or at least let you travel a hundred miles or so without it nagging you.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

L&C River II


Having posted the article on the Lewis and Clark River last Thursday, I was reminded of two experiences I had that quickened the heart.

My friend who was my guide on this river knew how to get into places that weren’t obvious. There was one place where the only way in was to wear waders and walk along an under-water ledge while holding onto rocks on the cliff beside you. The ledge was deep enough that the water would come up to the top of hip waders nearly pouring over. If you mistakenly extended a leg out into the current your leg would be grabbed and tugged down stream. If you didn’t regain collection of your leg, you would be sucked down stream with it in water that was way too cold and swift to swim. You could only hope to survive the couple mile trip down stream.

Another time I was a couple hundred feet downstream from the dead line at the fish ladder. I was up on a ledge looking for a way to get closer to the water. I took a step on what I thought was solid ground, but ended up being a bunch of leaves being cradled on some old washed roots. I fell fifteen feet to the rocky river below. I just missed landing directly upon a sharp boulder that would have broken my back.

I hit the water and went under. I lost my glasses and my fishing rod. My waders filled with water and I was being dragged into the first chasm. I had little control of the situation and knew my possible fate if it continued. I kicked off my waders and held onto a rock in the middle of the river for a moment. I was able to claw my way over the rock to the upstream side of it. There I was able to lunge to another rock where the current wasn’t quite as swift. Then I got to a tree branch and eventually made it to shore where I realized I no longer had my fishing rod, my waders or my eye glasses. I was wet and cold, but fortunately I didn’t lose my pants with the keys in my pocket. My car was parked near by. I stumbled up the embankment.

I got into the car and began to shake. This had been the closest I had ever come to losing my life in the wilderness.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Sick Day XIII


I am sick of the misuse and over use of the word “Devastated.” Most people living in the U.S. haven’t a clue what devastation really is. Unless you’ve lost your home and family,friends and neighbors, you don’t have a clue.

I am sick of the misuse and over use of the word “Awesome.” If you are awestruck over the color of a car or a song on the radio you don’t have a life. You are a simpleton. Get a life, have an adventure and discover what the true meaning of “awesome” really is. All you are presently having is a near life experience which isn’t even half as exciting as a near death experience.

I’m sick of all the times I attempt to throw something into a garbage can and miss and have to go back and pick it up and deposit it properly.

Finally, I’m sick of the programming on KMUN from 3-5 every day. I mean, how much yack do we need? Are we so easily turned around like sheep that we need a constant barrage of Noam Chomsky to keep us thinking progressive thoughts? I’m not one to shy from depressing dissertation, but enough is enough. And while I’m on the subject, how much BBC news can we stand? All they report on is war and terrorism all over the world. It’s like listening to a Republican campaign speech without the words "freedom" and "liberty" placed in every other paragraph.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Phone Numbers


Why have no letters ever been assigned to the number 1 on a telephone key pad. Had they done this the number 7 could drop one of its four assigned letters and the number 9 could get rid of two of its four letters. It just seems more balanced if each number had a burden to share.

I'd also like it if they started using names for telephone prefixes. Where I grew up our phone was Laffyette-9 0r LA9. The next two towns were Davis 7 (DA7) and Elmwood 9(EL9).

Are there any old timers out there who remember their letter prexix?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Sad Day


Sometime thing just go from bad to worse. On Thursday, my wife had a fall and her hip landed on a rock. I arrived home to find her in bed with an ice pack trying to reduce the swelling. She asked me to go to pick up a prescription for her and when I returned home from that trip I found an ambulance and a rescue truck out in the road and in the drive way. In my absence she had fallen again. Fortunately nothing was broken, she was just bruised badly and she has to rest.

Oddly this is the weekend I am scheduled to teach a class in Bend, so I had to find someone who could take care of her and the horses in a moment’s notice. Auntie L came to mind. I called her and she was happy to help a dopey blogger in need.

Auntie spent the day at my place while my wife rested and got better, but when I got to Bend I got a call from Auntie that her step father passed away and she needed to take care of her family. My wife is now well enough to take care of herself, though I understand that Love Anon is going to drive over and make sure things are good tomorrow in my continued absence.

I am so fortunate I have the friends that I have.

I send my love and sympathy to Auntie L. Please drop by her blog and share some kind words of support during her time of sorrow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ken Nordine


I can’t even begin to imagine how the American youth, or as Moosehead calls them “Youts”, feels about the technology they have grown up with. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a foggey because I never used a cell phone to take a photo, nor have I ever sent a text message. Our relationship to the hipness of a culture is defined by the technology we embrace.

Obviously I am not a man of the present times because I still harbor fond feelings for stereo amplifiers that have vacuum tubes. I have fond feelings for spinning vinyl. I have a fondness for old technology multi-track reel to reel recordings. I don’t like synthesizers and samplers. I guess I could play with them, but they just aren’t the same as multi-tracking.

This is why I particularly love the music of Les Paul and Frank Zappa. However there is a multi-tracking artist that outshines them all, Ken Nordine who is now 87.

Ken has bee working in the voice-over industry since the 40s and started making recording of his own in 1955. Listeners of Public Radio were treated to his works on a weekly radio show about 20 years ago with his series of Word Jazz and Stare With Your Ears. I recorded them every week.

Ken combined the reading of stories and poems with over-dubs of his own voice or voices commenting or having dialog in the background. Sound effects flew in and out, running themes or inside jokes would come and go through the mix. Sometimes his half hour show would be about a number or a color, but it was always the counterpoint of voices and dialog that peaked the interest of the listener.

For those of you who know of the exquisite weirdness of Ken, I hope you can close you eyes and stare with your ears again. For those who have not you should be able to find some sound clips on the net. I have a long trip coming up and I’ll be taking a box of cassettes with me. Yes my truck has a CD player and a Cassette player and a sound system that kicks ass.

Ken Nordine’s discography is below:

1955 - Passion in the Desert (FM) / 1963 (FM)
1957 - Word Jazz (Dot) / 1967 (Dot) / 1983 (MCA)
1958 - Son of Word Jazz (Dot)
1958 - Love Words (Dot) / 1959 (Dot)
1959 - My Baby (Dot)
1959 - Next! (Dot)
1959 - The Voice of Love (Hamilton)
1960 - Word Jazz Vol. 2 (Dot)
1966 - Colors (Philips) / 1995 (Asphodel)
1967 - Ken Nordine Does Robert Shure's Twink (Philips)
1968 - The Classic Collection: The Best of Word Jazz Vol. 3 (Dot)
1971 - How Are Things In Your Town? (Blue Thumb)
1972 - Ken Nordine (Blue Thumb)
1979 - Stare With Your Ears (Snail) / 1988 (Snail)
1984 - Triple Talk (Snail)
1986 - Grandson of Word Jazz (Snail)
1990 - Best of Word Jazz (Rhino)
1991 - Devout Catalyst (Grateful Dead)
1993 - Upper Limbo (Grateful Dead)
2001 - Transparent Mask (Asphodel)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rivers


I’ve always lived where there are year round rivers. I don’t think I could stand living in a dry climate where they only ran after a gully washer.

Oddly, the tidal rivers aren’t my favorite. Though they are beautiful to look at and float on; they really aren’t all that user friendly. The problem is the mud on the banks or on the levy makes it nearly impossible to get out of a kayak. Sometimes you can float for miles before you can find a place to get out and stretch your legs.

The Columbia is much more user friendly than the lower Lewis and Clark, Youngs and John Day for kayaking. However putting the kayak aside and going upstream is what I enjoy most about the local rivers.

When I first moved here I had a friend who showed me the Lewis and Clark River from the 200 Line to Bridge 11. I was introduced to several places where few humans have ever gone. There are gorges and places you just cant get to without repelling down.

The local fishermen who visited these areas gave them appropriate names. There was the Goat Hole, named because the ledge that one had to traverse was only suitable for goats. There was the Rope Hole which was another ledge one had to walk and someone had strung a rope along the cliff wall so one would have something to hold on to. Finally there was the Freeze Hole, which was a chasm you had to repel down into. It was so deep that the sun never shone into it. The rocks would freeze during the first cold snap and seem to stay frozen until spring no matter what the weather was like in the rest of the county. This is a place that if something ever happened to you, there is a good chance you would never be found.

So why not fish somewhere easier? It’s because the currents are strong in these chasms and the fish had some good holes where they could rest before going upstream to spawn. It was exciting fishing and watching some of them jump the falls. There were times when I just went there to get away from it all.

I hope to find the time to start visiting the upper river again this year. I get too hunkered down on the farm and I really need to get back to the beauty of the old fishing holes.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Simple Song


Every once in a while you come across a song with lyrics that are very clever. The fact that this song is still out there today may make it the most clever song of the last century.

The song below shows up here and there every once in a while and every time I hear it I think about how clever it really is and how much fun it must have been to write a little ditty like this. Melodically, it is typical 40s and pleasant and cool for children as well.

Mairzy Dotes
Words and music by Milton Drake, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston.

Mareseatoats and doeseatoats and littlelambseativy

and kid'lleativytoo wouldn't you?

Mareseatoats and doeseatoats and littlelambseativy

and kid'lleativytoo wouldn't you?

If the words sound queer and funny to your ear

A little bit jumbled and jivey

Sing mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy

Mareseatoats and doeseatoats and littlelambseativy

and kid'lleativytoo wouldn't you?

Mareseatoats and doeseatoats and littlelambseativy

and kid'lleativytoo wouldn't you?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bill Braun


I don’t mean to step on the toes of Art Girl, also known as Auntie L, but I have to write about art today.

I go through a lot of galleries. Anytime I visit a town I like to go through the galleries and see what the local talent (or lack of talent) is doing. I often leave galleries muttering to myself, “So many artists; so little art.” Yes I know I’m peeing in the pool of local galleries here, but hey there are very few gallery quality artists here. I mean who the fuck would ever buy those bronze clowns? You all know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

OK, now on to something good. There is a gallery in Kirkland Washington called the Gunnar Nordstrom Gallery where I first became acquainted with the work of Bill Braun.

As many of you know I’m a sucker for Trompe L'Oeil painting. When I walked into this gallery there was what I thought was a piece made of construction paper stapled to craft paper. It was interesting is a 3rd grade art project way, but why was it at this gallery. I looked closer without touching. It was construction paper on craft paper; I was sure of it, but oddly the staples didn’t seem to reflect the light. I couldn’t resist, I touched and I couldn’t believe it. It was a painting. The shadows were perfect. The colors were perfect. Everything was perfect. I had been totally fooled.

Bill Braun is a master of Tromp L’Oeil. Click the link below to see a good collection of his work.

Bill Braun