Friday, August 31, 2007

Wanna Look Silly?

Let’s say you are reading the news paper while you are listening the Nightly News on OPB, by the way the best news cast in the world… Anyway, they are interviewing someone and this person sounds intelligent and is making some damn good points on the subject at hand. You can’t resist, so you put down the paper to watch the interview, but then you notice that the person you heard who sounded so bright was wearing a bow tie. All their credibility is immediately flushed down the drain all because they wore a bow tie.

I'm not talking about the formal black bow tie that one would wear with a Tuxedo, but rather the pedestrian, everyday bow tie instead of a neck tie...

They could have been dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. They could have been dressed like a pirate. They could have been dressed like Raggedy Andy and I would not have been prejudiced in the least, but slap on a bow tie and I immediately think “fool.”

Yes, I am that shallow.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Every one enjoys a good laugh every now and then. It is important to our well being, but consider the types of laughing one does.

There is a simple smile and a “humph” of comedic acknowledgement. Then there is a quick giggle that can move on to an actual laugh that can go on for a few seconds.

By far the coolest laugh is the uncontrollable laugh. This is a laughing session that can last for minutes and then subside but start up again at the drop of a hat for another few more minutes. It often almost sounds like crying because the vocal chord portion seems to shut down yet allowing a breathy/ squeaky sound to emit from the throat; kind of like a squeaky toy.

This type of laughter is rare. I think I’ve only experienced it maybe four times in my life. It’s odd, because I can speak the words that got me going, but they aren’t quite so funny now. At the time they had me on the floor in uncontrollable laughter.

I hope to experience this type of laughter at least once more before my life is over, but I hope it doesn’t happen in public because this type of laughter can mimic being drunk or stoned. I wouldn’t want that to be thought of me unless I actually was, which I never am.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Finely Tuned or High Strung

I am always amazed by what can be felt. We humans are sensitive creatures. Someone can give us a glance and it will alter our mood immediately. We can smell a scent and it will change our mood immediately. We can feel or hear something that will change everything as well.

My latest ritual of reading the paper over a cup of decaf on the back porch in the evening recently showed me how powerful feeling can be. I was there minding my own business when I heard the buzz of a mosquito close to my ear. I slapped my face and I don’t know weather I got it or not, but from that point on I just felt like I was crawling with mosquitoes. I had to go inside, and even there I still felt like I had mosquitoes on me, so I had to take a shower to get that mosquito feeling off me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Getting back to the ducks, if I may; another thing they did really well was expose nay junk that ended up in your lawn. It here was something there that wasn’t suppose to be there they would unearth it and leave it where you could see it.

The man who owned my house before me used to smoke Tiperello cigars. These were the thin roll of tobacco with a white plastic tip that would go into ones mouth. He didn’t smoke them in the house so the lawn was littered with the plastic tips. Every day the ducks would unearth several of them.

After not having the ducks now for several years I had forgotten about the Tiperello tips, however I recently needed some fill dirt for a project I was working on and I hooked a trailer onto my garden tractor and drove up on the hill to get some dirt. Any time a tree is uprooted up there one can find good soft dirt under the root ball.

The trailer holds about 10 cubic feet of dirt and I went up for about 12 loads. Oddly on my final load something plastic and white got my attention. Sure enough it was a Tiperello tip. The previous owner must have put out one of his cigars around this tree and twenty years later it turned up in a pile of dirt I was digging.

Plastic is forever. I bet that if I got ducks again they’d start uncovering all the ones the previous ducks didn’t.

BY the way, I was going to have a photograph of the plastic Tiperillo cigar tip for you, but I placed it in the dish washer to clean it up first, however it mush have been washed down the drain because I couldn't find it when I emptied the dish washer. I guess it will be found once again the next time I have the septic tank pumped.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Old Crows

When I bought my house one thing that was included in the deal was a mallard drake who I named Howard. His companions were ten bantam chickens. He lived with them in the fenced chicken yard. I let him out every day so he could patrol the yard for slugs and bugs. He was too fat to fly more than a short distance, but that was OK because me and the chickens were now his flock.

Howard was an angry duck. He’d come up to me looking like he wanted some attention or food, and as soon as he got close enough he’d clamp his bill onto my pants leg and shake furiously. This was something he did daily. I wondered what his problem was. I was always kind to him. He was well fed and he had a safe shelter away from the elements and predators.

I figured that maybe he wanted the companionship of his own kind so that spring I went to Brims and got three duck companions for him. They were named Thing Fish, Sister Ob'Dewlla 'X' and Sister Jasmine Noxema-Tapioca. (Zappa fans will understand)

Once the ducklings were large enough to take care of them selves I let them wander around with Howard. He, being a dominant drake was only concerned in mounting them, even the other drake. Howard went both ways.

There are two really cool things about ducks. First being that you will never see a slug on your property as long as you have a duck. The next fun thing is that mowing the lawn is like a parade. The ducks would always follow behind the lawn tractor catching and eating insects that were disturbed in the process.

It’s been many years since I’ve had a duck. I think of getting some every spring when Brims has them for sale. I kind of miss them, however a few years ago three crows have taken a shine to my place. I’ve named them Bob, Cheryl and Jim. They are pretty quiet and watch me as I do yard work making sure they don’t draw my attention. After I cut the grass they hop down and clean up the insects. The ducks followed right behind the mower, but the crows wait. These three have been a fixture at my place for several years now. I have no idea if they are the same family I first noticed many years ago, but I like to think they are. If so we are becoming old crows together

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Hood to Coast

Yesterday was the Annual Hood to Coast marathon. This is foot race that starts on Mt. Hood and finishes on the beach in Seaside. It is also an opportunity for the city folk to pile into a van and waste hundreds of dollars of fuel by driving at two miles per hour the entire distance while blowing the horn constantly to show support for the person who is presently doing their job for the relay.

Hood to Coast is supported by people who don’t live on the travel route, but those who live on the route have long tired of all the horn blowing noise and gas guzzling vans blocking their drive ways and parking on their lawns, let alone all the tacky crap they write on and bolt to their vans.

Anyway, I was driving home from Brim’s and was behind a neighbors’ pickup truck. On the tailgate he had a sign that said, “Caution, Idiots Running on Road.” I pulled over just so someone else could ride behind him and enjoy it, too.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Dreamers

Women seem to have the most vivid dreams. I know that I dream but I rarely ever remember them, but I’ve known several women who can wake up and go on for hours describing the dreams they’ve had. They get into quantum realities that I wish I could venture into.

Women seem to be guaranteed several hours of visions and travels every night and I just wake up remembering nothing exotic. I go about my day just as I did the day before. I feel cheated.

Friday, August 24, 2007

To Swim

I haven’t gone swimming for 20 years now. I was never a strong swimmer, but I always enjoyed it. As a kid I learned to swim at a lake. To this day I remember the sunfish nipping at my toes as I ascended the ladder by the diving board. I also remember swimming in a lake where my sister lived. Sometimes you’d be in the water and someone would shout “SNAKE!” You’d swim as fast as you could to avoid contact with the copper heads.

Many of my friends had pools and summers were spent poolside and playing in the water. There were always places to swim; lakes, rivers, off boats and rafts. It was endless.

I took up scuba diving in college, yet still enjoyed snorkeling and body surfing when ever I could. I continued swimming when I visited Hawaii when ever I traveled there.

I was once invited to do a dive at night through the ice on the Delaware River to look for eels, but I didn’t go for that one.

It was when I moved out here that I stopped swimming. I did swim once at a spa in Portland, but somehow it just doesn’t dawn on me to go swimming any more. It’s too cold and I’m not that fond of pools… I wonder if I will ever swim again by choice. I don't plan to muck about in the local rivers, nor do I plan any bridge diving. Oh well, at least I have my fond memories of when swimming was good.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Novel Idea

I’ve been asked about my writing a lot lately. Many of my friends are trying to convince me to republish my first two books that are now out of print and finally publish the sequence to my first book that is finished, but not edited as of yet. Some know of another project I was working on a couple years ago that I placed on the back burner.

I admit that I do feel guilty for not keeping up with my novel life, but this blog is serving me as an excellent outlet for my writing right now.

Writing for me is a ritual; an all consuming ritual. I can hammer out a blog article in a couple minutes and then it’s over. Some days when I have the time and the inspiration I can write five or six articles and then I can go about my life.

Writing a book on the other hand is a different story. I can relate to Philip Roth in his book The Ghost Writer where he said he starts writing after breakfast. He doesn’t like what he’s written so he re arranges the words in the sentence. Then he puts them back. Then he replaces some words and then rearranges them. When lunch time rolls around he crumples the pages with the sentence on it and throws it in the waste basket. After lunch he begins the process again.

For me to write fiction again I may have to rent an office away from home. I may have to sequester myself there like a veil. I need just a small room with me, a comfy chair, a computer and maybe a cat. That’s what it may take for me to get back into the fiction business.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I know, I know, I’ve been posting later and later every morning. It used to be where I had a goal to make sure I posted my blog article by 6AM, but lately I’ve been sleeping until after six. Also Blogger has been acting up lately.

August is the time of year when I get outdoor things done. I work hard and sleep well. In the past two weeks I put in a new 60 foot round pen with a base of clay, topped by geo-cloth and 20 yards of sand. Then I moved on to digging, piping and rocking a thirty foot area that always seems be a wet area.

Yesterday I was at the sheep farm all day to assist with the shearing of forty eight sheep. You may have read about by adventures with this last year with the Aussie shearer. Here is a link to that article Knots This year it went much better. I wasn’t asked to tie any knots and the Shearer was a Kiwi this year. He never once insulted me or any one else.

Sheep are pretty strong animals and when there are several that want to get by you it’s best to stand back. Taking one out of the group can be difficult. You just don’t convince them by being nice. They need to be grabbed by the head and thrown on their back. Only then when they are on their back do they calm down. And yes, sheep with horns are much easier to deal with. The horn is a natural handle. Stranger yet are Jocobs Sheep, they have four to six horns. That’s no lie, look it up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The One Day Job

I have a friend who told me that he has a hard time retaining employees. The jobs he has are difficult and the pay he offers is very good. His story reminded of a job that I once held for one day.

I was applying for a job at a high tech company when I lived in New Jersey. A day after the interview I was called back to the company where the owner said that he was really impressed with me, but unfortunately the job I applied for was going to be filled by someone who had years of experience in that position with another company. He went on to say that he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to hire me because I showed him some qualities of good work ethics while being interviewed. He asked if I was interested in working for his other company as a machinist and the pay would be nearly double what the pay would have been for the tech position for which I had applied. I told him that I had no experience as a machinist, but I was willing to give it a go.

The company I was sent to made specialty ceramic pieces for who knows what. Once these things came out of the kiln they needed to be shaped and finished. I was placed on this drill press with a very strange diamond bit. The ceramic piece was placed in a jig and it was my job to drill holes in this piece from different angles.

The ceramic pieces where very hard to the degree one would think they were made of metal. The diamond bits were hard as well, but there was a delicate balance in the milling. If you went too slowly, you weren’t making the production figures, and if you went too quickly you’d burn up the diamond bit. I burned up three bits and only turned out a hand full of finished product by the end of the ten-hour day.

I went home exhausted and went right to bed setting my alarm clock for 5:00 the next morning. When I awoke I could still feel the tension. I wondered if I’d ever get any better at drilling these ceramic bits. By the time I finished my first cup of coffee I realize that I couldn’t see making a career of this occupation. I picked up the phone and called my boss and told him that I was no machinist. I never looked back and I got another job by the end of that day.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Moved? But I Haven't Gone Anywhere!?!

You know you’ve lived in a place for a long time when you find an old phone book and you look yourself up and see your name was listed with a different address and you still live in the same location.

When Dried Salmon County shifted from using Rural Route addresses to street names a few years ago many of us were a little put out because we had to change our stationary, inform all who contact us by mail and renumber our mail receptacles.

Making matters worse, within the first month or so it was realized by the powers that be that my new numbers in my address were wrong. The numbers they had given me would have placed my house across the street, so I got to move up one digit to get me on the right side of the road.

It’s worked out pretty well. The letter carrier sends back mail addressed to my former addresses unless it’s getting close to Christmas, then I get everything. I guess I’m a good enough tipper to get this additional bonus for an extra three months a year, but not a good enough tipper to get that return service year round.

Now that things have settled down I figure it can’t be long before they want to change our area code. Oddly that was exactly the letter I got from Qwest last week, the day after I wrote this article. We will soon be blessed with a new area code here on the North Coast. It's not too bad because we won't have to convert. It seems like it will be for new numbers issued, but we will all need to dial eleven digits to make a local call beginning in October. Remember the days when one didn't have to even dial the exchange? Just dial four digits and you got through...

I guess we have all moved, just not physically.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ferret Kids

Kids see things much differently than adults. I was reminded of this recently when I walked over a drain in a large parking lot. It took me back to this big strip mall in the neighboring town where I grew up. This was the hangout for kids on the weekends the way malls are today.

This shopping center was especially cool on Sundays because there were blue laws in New Jersey and most stores were closed. This left us an empty 20 acre flat parking lot surface to ride bicycles. Though, after a couple hours of riding we looked for other things to do.

Somehow one of us came upon the parking lot drainage system. These were large concrete pipes under the parking lot where the rain water would run off into and be carried away. This pipe line was just the right size for a kid to wander around in. Like ferrets we explored every underground avenue.

Oddly this new underground navigation skill came in handy one day when a friend’s mother dropped her keys down through the grate. I told her to wait right there and I’d be back with her keys in ten minutes. Like a river rat I navigated the pipeline in little time and retrieved her keys. She gave me a few dollars as a reward. Being a curious kid paid off for me on that day.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Poaching Big Game

I have a friend who tells this story and swears it’s true:

He went hunting with some friends who were taking their elderly father out for what was to be his last deer hunting expedition. Unfortunately when they woke up from camp in the morning they found that their father had died in his sleep.

They were out in the middle of nowhere, so they place their father in a game bag and placed him in the back of the pickup truck and drove him to town where there was a phone in a local diner. As one brother called the State Police the others sat down and ordered breakfast.

When the police arrived they all went out to the truck, but the game bag was missing. Someone had stolen what they thought was a deer in a game bag. What an interesting surprise that person must have had when they opened the bag.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lessons Learned

I bet we all remember when we learned a lesson the hard way against the counsel of the adults. The adults gave you lots of warning, but you just had to find out for yourself.

For most children it is “Don’t touch that, it’s hot!” I don’t remember that particular lesson, but the lesson I remember learning on my own is one which made me listen better to the adults in my life.

I was seven years old and I was in Canada with my father and brother. We had an expedition with a guide at a lake we were unfamiliar with. We went fishing for trout. For some reason I was really thirsty, and I kept dipping a cup into the lake and drinking the water. Every time I did that I would get a warning not to do that because I’d get sick. I was fine and the water tasted really good.

After a couple hours we took the boat to one of the islands where our guide started a camp fire to cook the trout we had caught that morning. After only moments of standing on the island I felt a strong compulsion to seek out some bushes where I could expel the rumbling in my gut. Oh my, I went and I went. When I was done I had to go some more.

I’d hear the rest of the party telling me the trout were almost ready to eat. I’d shout back that I’d be right there. I’d clean myself up and start heading over, but as soon as I stood, I was compelled to return to the laurels and continue my most important task.

After an hour or so I must have been clean enough for intestinal surgery. There couldn’t possibly be anything left to squirt. I wandered from the laurels. The fire was put out and everyone was getting back in the boat. They asked if I needed to stay on the island and they’d pick me up later, but somehow I knew I was finished. I finished the afternoon sleeping in the boat and I never dipped my cup for water again.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fly Me To the Moon...

There has been a big fly that has been flying around in my house for the last four days. I have no idea how that fly can go so long without stopping. I’ve chased it for hours and have since given up knowing that the damn thing can’t live forever. It is eventually going to have to land and die.

This fly reminded of one of the first problems I found with my house. When I moved it every wall was covered by dark paneling. If you were around in the 70’s you know that just about every surface in every house was paneled. It was a hideous trend that made every room look like a dark coffin.

The first thing I did was to take out all the paneling. Under it was sheetrock that nearly butted up to the knotty pine ceiling in the living room. There was a small bit of a gap which didn’t bother me until the first warm day after that. I came into the house to notice there were thousands of giant flies. I couldn’t figure how they were getting in at first, but then it looked like a fly waterfall coming from the gap in the sheetrock. There was a gap in the exterior siding where the flies were getting into the wall and once in the wall they just continued their journey into the house. There was nothing in the wall that would attract them, unless there was a dead mouse in there or something.

There were too many flies to swat so I had to go to the hardware store to get a no-pest fly strip. I caulked the gap where they were getting in then I set up the pest strip. This is a real dangerous poison though it is supposed to be only for indoor use. I didn’t want to live in the house while it was doing the deed, so I took off and stayed with a friend that night.

When I returned the next day there were dead flies everywhere. I vacuumed up five gallons of them. I can’t believe a concentration like that. I’ve never seen that sort of thing in the wild. It was a perfect storm of flies.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Eeeeek, A Mouse

Continuing with this weeks home invasion theme, what house doesn’t have an occasional mouse? Not mine. I have no idea how they get in.

My hands have been on every square inch of my house. Having built two additions myself, and refitting the rest of the house inside and out I thought I had found and sealed any entrance a mouse could use. Places that aren’t solid have been screened with hardware cloth and caulk. Any hole that has a pipe or wire going through it has fireproof caulk filling any gaps, yet they still get in.

I know they are there when I see the cat fixed in place for hours looking at the wall. OK, I think, they are in the wall, but they can’t get into the house from the wall, and then I find a headless mouse in the laundry room.

I’m giving up and leaving it to the cat. That’s life in the country.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Pet Slave

I was never a pet person, but when my wife and her children moved in with me they brought their dog; an old cocker mix.

My wife also just finished reading the James Harriot collection, and she was looking for creatures to save. I recall we were driving to Manzanita one evening and she said, “Turn around, there’s an injured kitten on the road.” I turned the car around to discover that it was actually a crow that had been struck down and its wing was moved by the wind every time a car drove by it.

The next day we were driving down our country road and out in the middle of no where a kitten darted across the road in front of us. When we returned that evening, that same kitten darted across the road in the same spot. The following day my wife went for a walk down to the spot and rescued the kitten.

People mistake the country as a good place to dump unwanted animals. Please people, be responsible, don’t dump your animals on us.

Anyway we now had a cat and a dog. I didn’t want to be a pet slave, one who constantly lets pets in and out, so I got a pet door that fitted into the sliding door we used to have. It worked out well. So much so that when I replaced the slider with a real door, I designed a pet door in the wall of the new addition. The cat and dog could come and go as they pleased.

One day I started noticing that the water bowl for the pets was getting really dirty. I’d freshen it every day, but every morning it was dirty. Then one evening the pets were with me while I was reading in the living room and I heard the pet door swing a couple times, so I snuck up to the laundry room and turned on the light and I saw three raccoon asses all going out the pet door at once. That was the end of that good idea. I again joined the ranks of the pet slave. The pet door has been closed ever since.

Monday, August 13, 2007


I never noticed any problem with my first ten year of living in my house probably because my bedroom at that time was down stairs. Occasionally I would find a bat flying around and I’d capture it and return it outside. I couldn’t figure how they were getting in the house.

After moving to a bedroom upstairs I learned that my house was infested with bats, and they were mating and living in the airspace between the ceiling and the roof. For quiet creatures they were pretty noisy. It was pretty annoying.

They usually left by the second week of August, so I took matters into hand and began a renovation where I removed the flat ceiling to fix the problem. I vaulted the ceiling and added a sky light. The only place I could see that they were getting in was in a vent which I screened so they wouldn’t be able to get in next year.

It was mid May the next year, and they were back, living in the portion I didn’t vault. I cut a hole in the ceiling of another room and put in a device that emits sounds that supposedly bats can’t stand, but they didn’t leave. When I checked on the device a few weeks later it was covered in bat guano. They were attracted to the sound.

I then put moth balls up there figuring the vapors would run them off. It didn’t. I also spent time outdoors trying to figure where they were getting in. There was guano all over the roof so there was no one place where I could see a concentration of an entry/exit. It had to be something to do with the old roof. It could have been any where. I’ve heard it said that they can slip into a space that one could slip a quarter through.

Eventually it was time to replace the roof and make the siding on the dormer match the siding of the rest of the house that I had just redone. I remove the old comp roof, and the two cedar roofs under the comp roof. One cool finding was that this was on the oldest part of the house that was built in 1925. Under the first roof I found a label from the Arch Cape Cedar Mill. I still have it.

As it all turned out, by re-siding, re-sheathing, re-flashing and re-roofing I was able to eliminate what ever entrances they had been using. The house has been bat free for the last six years.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I am really disgusted by gluttony. It isn’t just the people driving 6 MPG Hummers, but more the people who take food gluttony to a whole new level. There are Super Size offers everywhere.

Pie eating contests are really disgusting. Nathan’s Hot Dogs in Coney Island have an annual eating contest. There are oyster bars that have contests. There are also all you can eat establishments. There are steak houses that give you a prize if you can eat a 72 ounce steak. There is a place in Seattle that has 12 egg omelets on the menu. Also, an all you can eat menu isn't a challenge.

Meals that are this large are not only unhealthy and unnatural; they are grotesque and prey on human greed and create a culture of gluttony. What possible reason could there be for this sort of thing? I know the NASCAR crowd thinks I'm crazy for saying this, but knock it off you pigs.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


I recently quoted Yogi Berra in an article about the Sunday Market. Yogi is a master of turning our language into what could best be described as a puzzle. I copied all these quotes from the web for your entertainment.

• "This is like deja vu all over again."
• "You can observe a lot just by watching."
• "He must have made that before he died." -- Referring to a Steve McQueen movie.
• "I want to thank you for making this day necessary." -- On Yogi Berra Appreciation Day in St. Louis in 1947.
• "I'd find the fellow who lost it, and, if he was poor, I'd return it." -- When asked what he would do if he found a million dollars.
• "Think! How the hell are you gonna think and hit at the same time?"
• "You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there."
• "I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early."
• "If you don't know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else."
• "If you can't imitate him, don't copy him."
• "You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."
• "Baseball is 90% mental -- the other half is physical."
• "It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much."
• "Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hitting."
• "A nickel isn't worth a dime today."
• "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."
• "It gets late early out there." -- Referring to the bad sun conditions in left field at the stadium.
• "Glen Cove." -- Referring to Glenn Close on a movie review television show.
• Once, Yogi's wife Carmen asked, "Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?" Yogi replied, "Surprise me."
• "Do you mean now?" -- When asked for the time.
• "I take a two hour nap, from one o'clock to four."
• "If you come to a fork in the road, take it."
• "You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn't enough in the second half you give what's left."
• "90% of the putts that are short don't go in."
• "I made a wrong mistake."
• "Texas has a lot of electrical votes." -- During an election campaign, after George Bush stated that Texas was important to the election.
• "Thanks, you don't look so hot yourself." -- After being told he looked cool.
• "I always thought that record would stand until it was broken."
• "Yeah, but we're making great time!" -- In reply to "Hey Yogi, I think we're lost."
• "If the fans don't come out to the ball park, you can't stop them."
• "Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel."
• "It's never happened in the World Series competition, and it still hasn't."
• "How long have you known me, Jack? And you still don't know how to spell my name." -- Upon receiving a check from Jack Buck made out to "bearer."
• "I'd say he's done more than that." -- When asked if first baseman Don Mattingly had exceeded expectations for the current season.
• "The other teams could make trouble for us if they win."
• "He can run anytime he wants. I'm giving him the red light." -- On the acquisition of fleet Ricky Henderson.
• "I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat, and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"
• "It ain't the heat; it's the humility."
• "The towels were so thick there I could hardly close my suitcase."
• "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours."
• "I didn't really say everything I said."

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Content

Some readers of this blog never comment here. I’ll run into them and they will tell me that they’ve been reading and they share their comments with me in person.

Recently one reader asked me how I come up with the stuff I write about, and I pointed at my head and said, “There a circus up there.” It was a bit of a boastful statement which I now regret saying. I gave it some more thought and realized it wasn’t a circus at all. I just have thoughts that come to me just like anyone else.

If you visit with someone and have a normal conversation you will touch on several topics. Each one of those topics can be spun into a blog article. That’s what I do. I just think about whatever I’m thinking about and then I turn those thought into an article.

I would love to be able to crank out an article with vast depths and impact every day, but that isn’t possible, at least for me it isn't. So, I’ll take what ever idea I have that I’m thinking about and write about it. Any one can do this. How many interesting things have you thought about in the last hour?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Table for One

Humans are highly social creatures. Some just can’t function without others being around them. I’m not one of those social humans. I’ve mentioned before that my limit with any one person is about 4 hours. By the time the second hour rolls around I’m formulating an exit strategy.

I’ve always been this way. I work better alone and I am just a better person when I’m left alone. Even in my youth I was this way. Sure I had friends, but I always took off when I had enough socializing.

The point was driven home one day when I was speaking to an ex girlfriend on the phone one evening. She was one who tired of my tendency to go off by myself for a week or so every now and then. She asked what I’d been up to and I told her that I had just purchased a new computer and a new telescope. Her reply was, “Oh good, more things you can do by yourself.”

I smile and think of her words every time I set my up telescope. She was right and I’m still very much that way. It’s nice having some distance.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Your Ride

If you have a business that requires you drive to meet clients or even drive clients you have a problem. OK, let’s say I have someone come over to give me an estimate and they show up in a BMW or a Mercedes I am immediately suspicious that I am going to be charged too much, but if they show up driving a piece of crap I question if they are actually professional enough to deserve my business. So what’s a business person to do?

The answer is to buy and drive a restored classic. The cool thing about classics is that it shows you have an eye for detail and a reverence for history and transportation. It shows you can really take care of stuff especially if you lie and tell your clients you’ve been driving it since you were 17. Clients will immediately like you and be fascinated by you, and then the product will become an extension of how cool your car is.

Now, I’m sure that there are people who will say that the type of car isn’t important, but trust me, if you pull up in a shinny classic people will notice and appreciate your ride. You will always hear, “I had an uncle who had one of those.”

If you think a restored car would be too over the top, try one that is not restored, yet serviceable. I have a friend who drives this old Studebaker. The original upholstery should be replaced, the paint is a little dull, but the body is in great shape. Everywhere he goes he gets into conversations about his car. He immediately becomes more likable because he has a cool car. This could work for your business.

A funny story he told me about people wanting to talk to him about his car was when he was going to hear Senator Ron Wyden speak. He arrived later than he wanted and he wanted to park and rush into the auditorium, but as he got out of his car he heard someone say, “Hey a Studebaker, I have one of those.” My friend thought, “Oh shoot, I’m late for the talk and someone wants to chat up my car, again…” He turns around and the person talking to him was Ron Wyden. That was as good as it gets. He got to chat it up with Ron one on one, and neither cared if they were late.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I’ve never enjoyed tests no matter what the nature of the test is. I go through life with a self assured attitude and I really dislike it when I have to qualify something by denoting my perception.

It’s not that I’m not a good test taker, I’m very good and I never cram or even study. I figure if I know it, it will be there. If not, it won’t.

I’ve had a lifetime of academic tests and I honestly hope to never have one again. I have nothing to prove in academia. However now I subject myself to quarterly H–A1C tests, daily glucose testing, and then there is the annual eye exam. To me all these tests are more bothersome than any academic tests, though I realize deep down that what is simply is what it is.

I was anxious at an eye exam recently. Sometimes I just can’t tell which better, the first or second. Sometimes one and two both look bad for different reasons, yet I am force to choose. Sometimes flipping back and forth and I just say “Screw it” and I pick one. It’s not like I’m ever going to pass an eye exam.

After a half hour of different exams my eye doctor told me that my eyes are the same as they were last year and my vision hasn’t gotten worse nor has my macular degeneration.

I guess that’s the best I can hope for in passing any test these days.

Monday, August 06, 2007

I am an Oxy Moron

I like many others fell for all the Oxy Clean commercials. A few years ago I got some and used it to remove stains when things were spilled or dropped on the carpet. One day I mixed up a bigger batch than I needed and I figured I’d just add it to the load of laundry I was doing.

Being a man I rarely ever read directions, or especially fine print. I never knew that Oxy Clean and bleach are not to be mixed, ever. Suddenly the washing machine started sparking and this strange smelling gas vapors rose from the machine. It was like a mad scientist lab experiment gone bad, horribly bad.

Electrical sparks were shooting out from the machine, so I ran to throw the breaker but the smoky vapor was still emitting.

I opened all the doors and windows. Then I set the washer to drain, threw the breaker back on and listen to the barely functioning machine gurgle and burp, and after more sparks the foul liquid was gone.

I tried filling the machine with fresh water but it wouldn’t have it, so made a service call. The washer was toast. Even the repair person never heard of that happening before, so I finally read the fine print on the package, and Oxy Clean is not to be used with bleach.

It was a new machine, but my home-owners policy covered my stupidity and I had a new machine the next day.

My Oxy Moron adventure makes me wonder what other things shouldn’t be mixed.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

County Fair 2007

I again feel enriched now that the Dried Salmon (Clatsop) County Fair has ended for another year. I got to talk to folks I only see at the fair every year. We get caught up in the events and lives of our families over the last year. I also saw Mo3 and met Slave Hubby for the first time.

Many have children that are off to college and are no longer exhibiting but come back to help others. The Fair was a big part of these children’s lives for many years. They prepared all year for the competition and either did well or did not, but they all had fun in the long haul. It is said a trip well traveled is often better than arriving.

There are families so entrenched in the Fair and it is great just to see the intensity of their love. I don’t know them all but a few that come to mind are the Weaver, Hecox, Edwards, Jasper, Rowland, Skipper, Johnson, Harn, and Nyberg families just to name a few. I have a lot of respect for what you do.

I was proud to see one of my former horses competing and picking all sorts of awards. I got choked up with pride every time she and her rider entered the arena.

I was happy to see the showmanship that all the animal owners had with the animals they care for every day.

I had one of the best steaks at a cook-out there on Thursday night. I enjoyed seeing the Master Gardener Demo Garden. Walt John has been the driving force behind that garden since it started and it was good to see him there in his favorite place.

On the sad side, it seems as though attendance was down yet again. Fewer local businesses had booths. Georgia Pacific wasn’t there, and the space that used to have businesses was filled by the County Police, the Army and an RV dealer. I will encourage the Fair Manager to use their website to better market the Fair next year.

All and all, the kids were there with their animals and that’s what the Fair is all about for me. Congratulations to all the FFA and 4-H participants, you did good. I’m happy to live in a county that is supportive of your efforts. See you at the State Fair.


Saturday, August 04, 2007


Has Hollywood totally given up on being creative? They have had remakes of movies that weren’t all that good the first time around. In other cases they rework, classics that could never be improved upon like King Kong.

As far as movies that have sequences, the only thing they do is devalue the first film. The only one that ever really needed a second part was Kill Bill and that was Part One and Two from the start because they knew no one would be able to sit for that long.

If that isn’t bad enough they re-hash old TV shows that don’t translate well 20 years later.

Fortunately someone hasn’t tried to re-do and destroy films like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Being There, Bliss and Forbidden Planet.

I know they got John Waters blessing and support to remake Hair Spray, but what was wrong with the first one that needed improvement? I hope they remake Pink Flamingos just so I can watch John Travolta eat a pile of real dog crap in the last scene.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Yesterday I wrote about pipe smoking and how pipe tobacco smelled good as opposed to the smoke of the cigarette and cigar. Well my father was a cigar smoker as well. Any character he built with his pipe was completely removed when he lit a stogie.

I know that the word stogie is associated with all cigars, but its true meaning describes only one type of cigar, the short Italian smoke the goes by the name of DeNobli. There are a few other brands as seen in the photo above. One which was his favorite, Polumbo, is not pictured above.

These cigars aren’t those big fat round mouth turds that you would associate Bill Clinton or Winston Churchill. Instead they look more like round beef jerky sticks, like small Slim Jims, but bumpier and more wiggly. I think it’s the same type that Clint Eastwood chewed on in his Western films.

Anyway these stogies really smelled bad. They had a pungent yet more so acrid punch to them. They were really bad if you smelled them in a house or in a car. Somehow they didn’t smell that bad when smoked outside.

My memories of my father smoking his Polumbos come best to mind when I remember fishing on a mosquito ridden Canadian lake. It was always nice to be down wind of him because the mosquitoes would avoid that smoke like it meant instant death to them.

Ironically my father lived the last fifteen years of his life in a wheel chair due to a bout of encephalitis which was more than likely caused by a mosquito bite on that Canadian lake. He couldn't smoke those damn things all the time.

My brother and I once tried to relive our youth by visiting that lake in Canada. It was mid summer yet the mosquitoes were still very abundant like they usually were in the spring. We were fishing behind this island as evening approached. Suddenly we could hear the sound of mosquitoes on the wing and a cloud formed over a swampy area near by. They were coming our way.

I opened my tackle box and my brother watched in amazement when I pulled out a red and white box of Polumbos. We lit them and continued fishing until it got dark. We toasted our father who would have been delighted by the tribute. Not one mosquito bothered us that evening.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Smoking Pipe

Every once in a while I come to the realization that I haven’t seen something in a while. It recently dawned on me that I hadn’t seen any smoking a pipe in years. It seemed to have died out in the 70s. The culture moved from smoking tobacco pipes to smoking pot in hookahs and bongs. Then there were hash pipes and now crack pipes.

Pipe smoking (tobacco) was very much the norm when I was growing up. My father smoked a pipe. He had four that I remember. One that he took to work, one that was a formal home pipe, another that was an old well worn home pipe and then there was the corn cob pipe.

Corn cob pipes wouldn’t last as long as the other pipes, so it was an easy gift for a kid with little money to get his dad on Father’s day.

There was something rich about the smell of a can of tobacco. The smoke from the pipe was rich as well, and it never seemed to be stinky like cigar and cigarette smoke. Pipe smoke flavored the air, adding some strange sort of elegance to what ever environment it was in.

Think about all the paintings and photos you’ve seen of pipe smokers in the past; Hemingway, Popeye the Sailor, Van Gogh, Sherlock Holmes, McArthur, John Kennedy… I can’t think of any famous images from the last twenty years that included a tobacco pipe.

Times change and the older I get the more things become obvious to me. I wonder if there will ever be a resurgence of tobacco pipe smoking, but then I'm still waiting for a resurgence of the Nehru jacket.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I just looked back at the archives of this blog from last August and the articles are as fresh as if they were written today.

Here’s a quick wrap-up:
1. Dogs are still rampant at the Astoria Sunday Market.
2. Houses that are being built are still way too big.
3. Undocumented Aliens are having a harder time working.
4. There is still flag waving by the Post Office every Friday.
5. United Way sucks more than ever.
6. I’m scheduled to shear sheep again and test my knotting skills.
7. This is still a great place to live.
8. The Ft. George Brew Pub is open for business.
9. The County Fair is open for business again and I’m expecting a poor turn out since their only outlet for information is the New North West Broadcasting Co.
10. The rule for moving to the country is getting a big dog that barks, running motor cycles from dawn to dusk along with lawn mowers, string trimmers and leaf blowers and you must leave all your inside and outside lights on 24 hours a day.
11. Our District Attorney, Josh Marquis is even more of an embarrassment to our community and it appears he won’t stop until he drains the last cent from the county budget.