Saturday, May 31, 2008


I guess I was in high school the first time I ever heard the phrase, “Conniption Fit.” I haven’t though of that phrase for years but it recently popped up on Trish’s blog. Being the Internet is a strange and wonderful place I was sure I could learn more about this phrase and see if it is a real medical condition or if it is an exaggeration of language.

Its earliest use can be traced back to 1833 and is defined as a fit of rage, hysteria, or alarm.

At first hearing one might think it has Yiddish roots being it is pronounced “kuh-nip-shun”, but it could have been literally a corruption of the word corruption, which at one time described feelings of anger or sadness. Others believe it was formed as a nonsense word, suggesting a mock Latin origin. There was also an informal English word, canapsha, which had roughly the same meaning as "conniption" during the early 1800s.

To me the concept of someone having a “Conniption” sounds like a condition where inner rage expels internal organs. It’s not a word or a phrase I’ve ever been known to use, but it was fun to explore for this blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Usually the order of road kill is as follows: 1. Opossum 2. Raccoons 3. Skunks. Oddly on my round-trip to Seattle last weekend I counted one skunk and one opossum and get this, twenty-three raccoons dead on the road. I saw more dead raccoons than peeled off tire retreads. What is going on in the raccoon world these days?

Raccoons were a big problem on the farm where I worked as a teenager. The farmer I worked for trapped and shot them daily. He understood the animal and its habits very well. He knew they always traveled down a row of corn and never across a row. They have no salivary glands so they have to dip their food in water. He’d easily kill five every day and the supply never seemed to end. They just kept coming.

I was talking about raccoons with some farmers a couple weeks ago. One of them told me something I had never heard before. He was noticing that many of the raccoons he had been trapping only had a short stub for a tail. He went on to say that when there is too large of a population the alpha males will attack young males and bite off their testicles and their tails. Biting the testicles insures there will be no competition for area females, and they bite off the tails as a marker so they don’t have to pick a fight with that altered male again.

By the way, good morning to you all!

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I drove by a long string of box cars recently. I’ve always liked trains and especially box cars. I always enjoyed reading the company and railroad names on the box cars and wonder just how many miles there wheels have rolled on our continent.

I had a hard time reading the line names on the box cars I was seeing because just about every inch of every freight car was tagged with graffiti. Some cars had letters ten feet tall and four cars in succession.

OK, I can understand the ego boost of having ones tag rolling like billboard across the country, but what I don’t understand is how much it must cost to tag each box car. I’m sure we’ve all purchased a can of spray paint to paint a set of metal out door chairs. When properly painted you might finish a chair and a half with one can of spray paint. These people are painting nearly entire box cars. Can you imagine how many cans of spray paint it takes to cover an entire box car which is nearly the size of a small home? We are talking about a multi hundred dollar investment in ones ego. How can common people invest that sort of money in something they may never see again while risking arrest? For works of this magnitude they need to come with ladders and cases of paint.

It’s just amazing to me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Photo Booth

Every respectable 5 and 10 cent store needed to have a photo booth. It was actually an amazing device. I still have photos that were taken in a photo booth from my childhood. The images are still crisp and clear.

So, no it wasn't the popcorn or the little dot candies on adding machine tape or the fresh nuts, though all those things did make a 5 and 10 a different entity.

Most of the booths I remember had a seat that you could spin to make it go up or down so you could frame your face in the mirror, which was exactly where the photos would be taken. You could use the gray curtain as a background or move it to the side to have a white wall in the background.

You would enter the booth, drop in your 50 cents and ham it up for four shots. Oddly there was never a counter that warned you when each shot would be taken. I often saw the flash through blinking eyes. The flash was a strong light that shone through frosted glass.

It was an absolute marvel when they came out with the color film version. However it was soon eclipsed when Polaroid introduced the instant camera.

I knew some kids who would go in for rude photos that couldn’t be developed elsewhere. Back then there weren’t even photocopiers to sit on. So if you wanted to take a photo of you mooning the camera, a photo booth was your only option.

I understand the old photo booth is quite the collectible these days and are featured at the best parties in the wealthier communities. It’s a wonder supplies are still available for them. It wouldn’t be hard to come up with a digital one that printed to a laser printer. Maybe they have already and I'm just out of the loop.

How special we felt when someone cut a photo up their photo-strip and gave you a picture. I still have a photo of my first love. I wonder if she still has mine.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

5 & 10s

Years ago my sister came for a visit. As we were driving through Warrenton she saw the old Pay Less Drugs (now Rite-Aid) and we had to make a stop there. It seems my sister loved reading a series of books by some Northwest author that wrote about how fantastic it was to go to town and visit the Pay Less. My sister wanted to see if it was a magical as the books described it. I never read those books, so I don’t know exactly what she was looking for, but she seemed satisfied.

This got me thinking about if I were to write about the shopping experiences that turned me on as a kid, what would they be? I’d probably have to say it was all the Five and Ten Cent Stores. Some called them Five and Dimes, but that didn’t make sense to me because they should have called them the nickel and dime, so we called them Five and Tens.

The 5 & 10 was a magical place for a kid and this was probably due to the fact they had toys and bicycles and candy for sale. They had all sorts of things like a general store would have and it was a frequent stop for moms that were trailing kids along. While the moms were shopping for kitchen ware or a new lamp shade or greeting cards kids were free to visit the toy department or look at the birds, fish and turtles that were for sale in the pet department.

There were two 5 & 10s in the town to the north of where I lived and two to in the town to the south along with a Woolworth. These stores all had a lunch counter where uniformed waitresses worked the counters and sold fresh roasted nuts by the cash register. The smells of each department were good enough to leave an impact on me forty years later.

My words could never describe all the magic of a 5 & 10 and I write this only to remind those who are old enough to remember to golden age of this sort of store just what sort of magic we are missing today.

Years ago there was a Newberry’s in Astoria which is now Deals only. I don’t recall if Newberry’s had a lunch counter, but like most other 5 & 10s it had a lower level. One thing I remember was how clean the 5 and 10s were. They were nothing like the squalid mess of Deals Only, where some isles are impassable with boxes of merchandise yet to be stocked.

The post tomorrow will discuss one of the must-have items that all respectable 5 & 10s had to have. Thanks for indulging yet another of my walks down memory lane.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blog Housekeeping

A little Blog housekeeping today if I may.

I’m using a new feature on Blogger where I can schedule when my posts are posted. Back when I used to track the traffic of this site I saw the late night folks read this site as late as 1:30am and the early folks started reading after 4:00am so I now schedule my posts to upload at 4:00am. One of the side effects of this action is that you may catch more mistakes in my writing because I used to pick over all articles one last time before posting and now I just don’t give a rip. I like the consistency of posting at the same time every day. Being an avid blog reader myself, I feel let down when my favorite blogs aren’t consistent with their updates.

Next, if you reply to an article that is a few days old, you may not see me reply. I have the blog set up so that sends all comments to my email, but oddly there seems to be a delay of up to five days. I don’t know if Blogger is the problem of if it is my email server. Either way, sometimes I have nothing to add. I do feel that comments deserve acknowledgement, but sometimes I’ve got nothing. So forgive me if I leave you hanging. I do eventually read all the comments and I appreciate every comment.

On another front, Gearhead will often send me one of his pet peeves for me to write about. Last we he emailed me to tell me it bothers him when he sends someone an email and he never gets a reply. I of course replied to him, yet he hasn’t replied to my reply. Though I bet it’s a Yahoo thing. I have the hardest time getting email through to Yahoo or AOL accounts. He probably never received my reply, hence there is some strange irony there.

Another update, frog kissing is over. We tried two horses, each for a week and sent one back because it was aggressive. We sent another back because it had far less training than the owner stated. But we finally found one that seems perfect so far. I did a marathon 9 hour round trip drive to Snohomish, Washington yesterday to get this horse.

I think I’ve driven over 2,000 miles on I-5 so far this year and hopefully this will be my last excursion for some time.

Other weirdness, in Oregon we don’t pump our own gasoline. For years some lobby has been saying that if we went to self-service our gasoline would be less expensive. I paid 3.90 in Oregon and $4.07 in Washington with self serve. Another weird thing is that the gas station had a $75 dollar limit. The pump shuts off at $75.

Anyway, I'm tired and need to go to bed, so I'll program this to post at 4:00am for you early birds.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Driving Problems

I have a couple of driving issues here that I’ve been meaning to air. First there are sunken grades in three places that just annoy the crap out of me. One is on Niagra, another is just a few hundred feet away on Williamsport Road and the third is out before the second Walluski road entrance as you head East on Hwy 202. It seems like every year or so these sunken grades need to be filled in and I would suspect there is now about 20 feet of pavement below grade. Why not just build bridges?

My next problem it right turns that you don’t have to stop for. They should all be three and four way stops. For instance if you are driving West on 202 (Olney Rd) and you come to the intersection of 7th. There is nothing to indicate to the driver on 202 that the person coming down 7th doesn’t have to stop. There is a stop sign for those who turn left at the end of 7th, and those on 202 may think it is their turn to go through the intersection.

I think there is the same problem at Niagra and 8th. Fortunately unfamiliar drivers are a little more cautious, but I know the chances for disaster at these intersections are higher than three and four way full stops.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


I’ve written on the subject of water before, and how one day the commodity of fresh, clean water may become a problem for the entire planet. Before I continue, I need to admit that I never buy bottled water. Instead I refill a reusable container from local safe water sources. I no longer drink from rivers and swamps like I used to.

Anyway, I had a meeting to attend in Tangent, Oregon last week on one of those hot days. I brought some water, but the meeting room was not air conditioned and I needed several refills from a water fountain.

I have to say that the water in Tangent is either too soft or the water I had was too softened. It could not quench a thirst. It wasn’t crisp nor refreshing even though it was cold. I couldn’t imagine bathing in water that soft. You’d never feel clean or like you got all the soap off.

I’ve been in places where the water tasted of sulfur that was more palatable than the water from Tangent. Sulfur hot springs are also excellent for soaking.

I feel fortunate to have always lived in places where the water was just prefect without major chemical treatment. I couldn’t imagine moving somewhere and not using tap water. I know some people in the area who have their own wells that get really funky as the summer sets in. Some even dry up in August and September.

I value our water. Living in a water district I’ve seen several times that we’ve been cut off. Once we had ten people staying with us when a land slide took out the water main for five days. Fortunately we got by on rain barrels and water from the pond. Other time we were cut off when vandals shot the water tower. We lost water nearly every day while they were widening a road. They cut us off for a day at a time when they have to spur into the line for a new development. Most recently our water district was plagued by leaks.

Regardless of all the delivery problems, I am thankful we are on district water. Things could be so bad if we weren’t.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More On LNG

OK, I’ll admit that I was once anti LNG, but as many of you know I changed my opinion on all of that earlier this yearArticle Here. Personally, I think that the anti LNG movement is so vested in opposing it that they are not willing to consider other benefits of Liquid Natural Gas. I just finished listening to an anti LNG show on KMUN where the host and three guest spewed rumor and half to no truth for a half hour with no one from the opposing side present and no opportunity to call in to dispute their so-called facts.

As I’ve stated in the past these anti LNG factions say that they are opposed to foreign gas supplies entering the country, even though much of the LNG we would get will come from Australia. Yet they don’t mind filling their Subaru or Prius at the pump with refined oil products from the countries they have disputes with. So it’s OK for technology you are presently dependent on. You are real good at sacrificing for your principals, aren’t you?

I think that not only should we embrace LNG but we should convert all of our automobiles to run on it. We are currently paying $4.00 per gallon of refined gasoline or diesel, while LNG is selling as fuel for under $1.80 per gallon. Other advantages of natural gas include that it can be used directly as it is taken from the ground, while other fuels must be refined. It has an octane rating of about 130 as compared to 83 for gasoline. Natural gas leads to reduced engine maintenance and to longer engine life. Natural gas vehicles run about 80 percent cleaner than conventional vehicles.

If the Anti-LNG folks were truly working to better the environment on our planet they would abandon all their gasoline burning devices and go 100% Natural Gas or gas generated electricity. This will never happen because they already have too much money and energy in opposing this clean energy source. Oh, and they will say it isn’t clean, but if you had to choose would you rather live in a community with an LNG terminal or an oil refinery. If you are of the total NIMBY mind-set, than maybe you shouldn’t drive. All communities need to share some sort of burden that keeps the fires burning for commerce and every day living. How can we think we are more self important than other communities.

Yes, there is natural beauty here just as there is natural beauty nearly every you go on this planet. Do you think the home you live made the vacant natural land look nicer with a structure on it? How about that driveway of yours? Is that beneficial to the environment because it is sealing in the nature below? Think of the foot print you are leaving on the planet just for your personal comfort.

The fact is that we demand energy and we consume energy and it isn't fair nor right to be xenophobic about an industry that wants to meet our demand and pay us tax revenue in the process. This may be the best thing that we can do locally for the environment. If you are anti LNG, please consider what is written here with an open mind before you continue your condemnation.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ethanol is Evil

I think it is time to end the ethanol experiment. It has been a total failure. Yes, it sounds earthy and like it’s good for agriculture and for lessening our foreign oil purchases. The fact is that it takes farm land out of food production and turns it into a non rotation agricultural strip mine.

A few years ago it took a gallon and a half of fossil fuels to produce one gallon of ethanol. Now that ratio has improved a bit where it takes one gallon of fossil fuel to produce a gallon and a quarter of ethanol. Though the ratio is better it is still not worth the end product.

A big problem with ethanol being added to gasoline is that it harms the fuel systems in cars and equipment. The problem becomes a real big problem with small infrequently use small equipment, like gas powered chain saws and string trimmers. The local John Deere dealer in my area will no longer guarantee any equipment that uses an ethanol blend gas, but in Oregon it is mandated by the Federal Policy Act of 2005 that all gasoline contain 10% ethanol. We can not buy pure gasoline any more and there are no additives to remove ethanol. We are basically screwed by a law that is going to ruin our equipment.

A number of years ago they sold a gasoline/ethanol mix in Portland during the winter months. At that time I was driving a car with aluminum fuel lines. Every time I filed up in Portland I’d have to go through two tanks of local gas before my power returned to my car.

Just the other day I finally got my 2 year old Stihl string trimmer started, but I couldn’t keep it running. I thought about it and realized it is probably the 10% ethanol in my fuel that screwed me. Now I know that I must run all the fuel through the system and store it dry. This goes for my trimmer, chainsaw, and generator.

The ethanol experiment has been a miserable failure and I’m sure the ethanol lobby will be much stronger than the voice of the American people who are now just waking up to this fact. If the ethanol industry wants to continue poisoning our equipment, they should at least pay form our retrofits and upgrades or at least give us the opportunity to have a choice to not use their products when we choose not to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sharpen Your Mind

One of G’s recent comments reminded me of how much I miss wood working. My shop is in desperate need of being re-roofed. It presently leaks in more places than it doesn’t. Everything is under blue tarps right now until I can get to spend four days on one project when it isn’t going to rain.

My love for wood working brings to mind a conversation I was having with a friend a few years back who was telling me of a school of fine wood working in California. This institute was serious about perfection. He told me that when you enroll you don’t even get to put your hands on a piece of wood for the first month or so. Every class hour is spent on how to correctly sharpen each of your tools.

Imagine spending at least 160 hours in classes learning how to sharpen things. It may seem like it is going over-board, but once you fully understand the advantages of sharpness, 160 hours is a small price to pay. Think about the difference you feel when you exchange the blades in a razor. Think of the lengthy cuts you’ve made in the past that strained your equipment.

I was recently cutting wood with a dull chain saw. When I replaced the chain the rest of the cutting that day seemed effortless in comparison.

This sharpening class makes me think about other classes I have taken over my lifetime. I wonder if I would have been a better learner had each course had the equivalent of a lengthy sharpening exercise before the actual class began.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Secret Society

I was talking on the phone with Gearhead the other day and we were talking about communicating with certain people who never embrace technology. We compared notes where we have both experienced this scenario with several people and it goes the exact same way every time. You ask someone for their e-mail address and they announce that they don’t use computers, they sit back and then the put on a big bold defiant smile.

Gearhead and I both come across this often. A lot of our work is done with tech savvy people in agriculture. We deal with people who have self piloting GPS tractors. We deal with people who trade commodities via wireless internet from hand held devices while they are in their fields. We deal with people who save time and money if not make time and money with technology. Then there are those who resist and are damn proud of it.

Personally, I think it is a secret cult that has roots similar to Scottish Rite Masons. I have named them “The Members of The Church of Ludditeism.” They are an offshoot of any various bands of workers in England (1811–16) organized to destroy manufacturing machinery, under the belief that its use diminished employment. Their smug smiles are their secret handshakes.

It has to be because they all have the same reaction; they announce, they sit back and then they smile. It’s always in that exact order.

Gearhead told me about someone who took it ever further one day. He was in a meeting and he passed around a short article for his staff to read and one guy pushed the article away, announced, “I don’t read!”, he sat back and smiled. Gearhead said ,” I couldn’t believe it!” I thought about it for a while and realized that this guy must have been a high priest of the Luddites. He didn't even accept print.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Knew Them When

Back when I was doing some speaking at high schools I would often ask the students if anyone famous ever attended their school. It was usually after some thought that they presented me with the name of someone who broke some record in track and field back in the 60s, but I never heard of anyone real famous.

This makes me wonder if any famous people ever attended high school or if there aren’t quite as many famous people as we might think. Even in the 50 years of the existence of my high school the only close to famous person there was a guy who played professional baseball for about three years and then faded into obscurity.

Though it may be hard on a school that none of its students ever made their marks on fame, think of how hard it is on a school when their only famous student is infamous.

Think of it, Lee Harvey Oswald had to go to high school somewhere. Rosie O’Donnell had to go somewhere. Go down the list of criminals and national idiots and they had somewhere they called home. Do their high schools hide this mark of distinction?

There are always towns that are confused about their celebrities. Curt Cobain lived in Aberdeen, Washington. This is a town that refused a statue of Curt because they didn't want to promote what he stood for, however when you enter the town there are signs that say, "Come as You Are."

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Jones

OK, I have a new habit. I’m Jonesing for some right now. I’m weak and the nastier the better. By the way, have you noticed the word, “Nasty” seems to be getting a lot of use lately. It seems like everything I read these days has the word, “Nasty” in it.

Anyway, maybe I’m deficient in vitamin C and am on the verge of scurvy, but I’m finding I can drink vinegar straight out of the bottle these days. I’m digging balsamic vinegar. I even like the type that makes my eyes cross. Give me a small bowl of vinegar with a dash of oil and a hunk of good bread and I’m happy. It’s my equivalent of donut dunking. I can’t get enough of it. I’ve even considered how it would taste on oat meal.

OK readers, your best shots.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Sometimes I’m amazed that people will admit to the stupid stuff they do. Just like in the post the other day when a friend admitted that he crapped on his camo jacket. Had that happened to me I would never tell anyone, yet some people like airing all their laundry.

I don’t know what to call it. It isn’t pride and it isn’t shame. It’s just funny when people offer intimate accounts of themselves lacking foresight, sense or good judgment. Which part of the ego is fueled by such an admission?

In the world of blog it is called “Dumbassery” and thinking back I’ve had a few incidents to report here in the past couple of years. Most people try to cover their dumbassery, and some share to entertain and show they are only human.

A funny thing is that cats are seemingly fully aware of their personal dumbassery. I’ve seen my cat stalking something and suddenly make a grand attempt at a capture that failed. Once on the ground she will extend her back leg and start licking it as though the entire thing I saw was a choreographed a way to position herself for cleaning and nothing more. The bird that flew away in the process had nothing to do with it.

One cool thing about Dumbassery is that it is always blog worthy. If you can't think of something to write about, think back to something in the Dumb-Ass file. We all have one.

Friday, May 16, 2008


It seems that everyone is a photographer these days. People are leaving professional careers to join the ranks of the digital spirit takers.

I was shocked to learn that my heart throb weather reporter on KATU, Julia Radlick left her job to start her own photo business. She is shooting families, children and dogs and she’s doing some rather good work as does her sister and father. I guess it’s in her blood.

I wonder how many people would be photographers these days if digital photography never came around. How many people would be willing to sacrifice a room in their homes that would be filled with equipment and trays of stinky chemicals? Who would ever want to deal with color printing again with all the steps, many in total darkness.

Photoshop and fast computers has made it possible for everyone to do something interesting.

Visitors here like Rich, Chantel, Matt and Lelo all have a great eye, though I think Rich is the only one making a living at it. Chantel’s photos are moody and a bit on the Noir side (but in color). Her images tell some interesting stories. The photo of Chief Condomhead above is by Chantel. It looks totally different than any other image I’ve seen of that carving.

A few years ago the Daily Astorian had a photographer named Andy Dolan. This guy couldn’t take a bad shot. Even though he continually photographed the bridge, he made the damn thing look interesting in every shot. What ever happened to him?

When I was doing photography I actually didn’t enjoy using a camera. I loved dealing with my work in the dark room. I rarely felt as though I had the natural eye for images, but I could do magic with high contrast paper and reticulated film. I still don't enjoy working with a camera, but one day I should explore a good photo editing program.

When I visit I see that one of every 100 or so photographers actually have the natural eye for the interesting. I've had experiences where things that seemed interesting in reality looked pretty boring when reduced to a two dimensional image. I've also had images of the mundane turn out really well in a print.

One of the problems with photography is that it has only been a bastard step-child of what is considered fine art. It has the same distinction in the art world once held for illustrators. It was commercial work that wasn't fully appreciated as art. The only people making good money at photography are commercial photographers who do work for the press, advertising, weddings and special events. Occasionally free-lancers catches a bone here and there, but it is a tough business.

For those of you who have the "eye" and have yet to be compensated, please keep at it. Your day will come.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Jaggy had a wonderful post yesterday which I will copy here today. If you’ve ever seen Inside the Actor’s Studio, James Lipton asks every guest the series of questions below. This is the closest I’ll come to ever doing a Meme.

1. What is your favorite word? Canada.
2. What is your least favorite word? Smitten, it sounds like a glove for young cat or like it is related to smite.
3. What turns you on? Restful naps.
4. What turns you off? Being awake between the hours of 10pm and 5am.
5. What sound or noise do you love? Summer rain.
6. What sound or noise do you hate? The wind above 60mph.
7. What is your favorite curse word? Rat Bastard.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Pathologist/Coroner.
9. What profession would you not like to do? Auto Sales.
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? Ha ha, you were wrong you Rat Bastard.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tying The Knot

A long time ago I wrote about my ms-adventures in knot tying in the article entitled as knots. I am still totally unable and unqualified to tie anything other than my shoes and an occasional neck tie. This is a real shame because I would love to be able to tie knots. I have a reverence for a good knot, be it one that is secure or one that slips. I even admire decorative knots.

There is a certain dexterity missing in me. I am unable to shuffle cards as well. There are a number of other things I probably can’t do, but I don’t go looking for trouble anymore.

One thing that would come in real handy would be learning how to gather and tie off an electrical cord. I usually spool them between my elbow and my thumb, but that’s as far it goes. Some people can do that and then they change direction and spin the cord around the mid section of the wire just like it came from the factory, nice and tight. I tried and can not do it. My way of storing cords must be a way of self knotting them. I’ll put them away and have to spend 10 minutes untangling them before their next use.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Air Power

I’ve got a small building project going on. It’s a chicken coop which is 6 foot by 8 foot and 8 feet high with a salt box roof. I’ve had all sorts of coops over the years, and it is time that I did one on a larger scale. It will be nice to have a walk in place in the coop to store straw and food. Egg collection will be easier being I will be able to walk right in and stand without crouching.

This building is of the size that it is neither big nor small, yet it’s big enough to bring out the framing nailer and the compressor. It just makes more sense to shoot ten nails in the time it takes to hammer just one.

The funny thing about framing nailers is that when you get a box of nails for the gun you generally get enough to build an entire house. The last box I got was enough to build the last addition on my house and build two sheds and some walls in a friends barn. I needed more nails for this job and at $50 a box I was almost tempted to use a hammer, but I have them now and it is probably a life time supply.

I also have a roofing nailer which I should be using on the project tomorrow. Out of all the construction tools I’ve ever purchased the compressor and nailers have saved me more time and energy over the years. When I think back to doing a roof with a hammer and nails, it’s like thinking about the stone age in comparison.

For small projects I use a pneumatic brad and quarter crown stapler. It is so nice no longer banging my fingers with a hammer, and to date I haven’t shot myself.

Anyway, this small project reminds me how I don't miss building. When I first moved here I knew little about construction. I remember putting in my first sky lights with my limited tools. I actually used a jig saw for everything back then. When the time came for the first addition our architect convinced me I could do all the work my self. Most people would have hired a contractor, but that would have tripled the price. We were on a tight budget, so I read the codes and studied the requirements of the plans and learned about things from the ground up and it all worked out. I never failed an inspection, though I did have to replace one window that needed to be tempered because it was too close to a bath tub. I've been wondering what to do with that former window for years now, so I decided to use it in the storage room of the coop.

For the promised update, we could no longer stand having the chickens in the garage so we set them free in the green house until their coop is finished. I need to finish it quickly because we need to plant tomatoes in there.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Very Superstitious

Though I always believed myself to be immune from superstition; I realized that I may be more superstitious that I would like to admit to being. No, I don’t make the sign of the cross or make any predictable repetitive movements that would indicate ritual superstitious behavior; however I am a member of Triple A. It used to be that I would have a mechanical breakdown at least once a year that required a tow truck. Since getting Triple A five years ago I have yet to need their services. I know the minute I drop the coverage I will need a tow, so I will continue re-upping my membership every year.

Next, remember all those posts I did about every time I take my truck anywhere the check engine light would come on. I bought a code reader last year and stuck it in the glove compartment in the truck. The light hasn’t gone in since I bought it.

I wonder what other things I could do to make my life smoother in the long run. This is not an invitation for people to reply and suggest prayer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Still Don't Get It

Maybe it’s because I’m old and maybe it’s because I’m a douche, but I still don’t get tattoos. I don’t get piercing, nor do I get shortly cropped dyed blond hair. I don’t get goatees or low rider pants. I don't get repeat offenders. Is it stupidity or obsession that drives people to a life of crime?

I don’t get camo clothing. It doesn't make you less visible unless you are squatting in some bushes. Speaking of which I have a friend who was bow hunting one day and it got unseasonably warm so he removed his camo jacket. Some time goes by and he forgets about it, and he finds himself needing to take a crap... You guessed it, he crapped right on his jacket. That was good camo.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Allow me to present some history if I may. I started this blog two years ago today. Previously I had some local sites by myself and with friends when we decided that group emails just weren’t enough. About twelve years ago one of us checked out Geocities and shortly after we all had our local sites up and running. We even collaborated on a couple sites. These sites were very much like the blogs of today. It was a lot of fun, but we all seemed to lose interest after a couple of years.

One day I was searching the net for some local photographs and came across Dude Mung’s blog. It rekindled my interest in having a site. I wasn’t crazy about Word Press and Blogger wasn’t very reliable, but I liked the ease of use and the look of blogger, so that’s where I went.

For the first few months I posted five or six days a week. I only posted on Sunday when I was pissed off about something. Eventually I got less pissed off about stuff, but started posting on Sunday for those who checked in. It became a habit to post daily.

Speaking of being pissed off, I used to regularly post a “Sick Day” post on the first Monday of every month, but lately either I’ve found less to be sick about or I feel that I’ve covered most of it in the past. However with Sunday Market starting up again, I’m sure I’ll have something to be sick about next month.

I also post my annual “Death Pool” on January 1st every year. So far I think that Angel Harvey is the only one to pass this year, so far. Last year I called Vonnegut.

Today Astoria-Rust begins its third year. The blog has made some impact on a few regardless which side of an issue I come down on. I’ve heard myself being quoted by others who have no idea who I am. That’s always interesting when you hear people discussing your ideas. It’s hard to butt in and say, “That’s not at all what I meant.” I just let it go because people are discussing the topic. I’ve changed some minds, I’ve opened some minds and I’ve pissed some people off. The readers have often changed my mind, opened my mind, but rarely ever pissed me off.

A few of the things I’ve changed my mind on in the last year have been LNG and the impact of new-comers on the life long residents. I am no longer against LNG, and I try to consider the people who predate my arrival here when I air an opinion on how things should be done here. People move here because it is unique, and then they try to make this place like the place they moved from. They think they know what is best for the locals. Yet people who were born here want more opportunities for employment other than yet another art gallery or a coffee shop. I find the locals have been too nice and too tolerant of new-comers. Though this trend seems to be reversing.

I want to thank all the readers who stop by and comment. People come here from all over the country and three Canadian Provences. Back when I kept stats it seemed that nearly 10% of the readers wrote in comments. Kind of makes one wonder what the other 90% are thinking.

As I move forward into the third year I only hope to become more objective. I hope to continue sharing my view of the things I'm familiar with. I enjoy writing and teaching and hope that I find something to write about by tomorrow.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Parlor

It seems as though the word “Parlor” has been rendered archaic. How often have you ever heard someone describing one of the rooms in their house as a parlor? In my entire life time I only knew of one family that addressed a room as a parlor.

My idea of a parlor is a room by the door where one waits or where one may be entertained as a short term visitor.

You will hear of a hair dressing shop these days, or you may hear the words Beauty Shop but rarely will you hear the words Beauty Parlor used anymore. Funeral Homes have replaced Funeral Parlors. It was probably the association with funerals that people stopped calling the rooms in their homes, parlors.

Massage parlors are associated with illegal activities so they are rarely referred to as such and haven’t been since the 70s. Ice cream parlors are in decline with the use of the term opting more for branding like; DQ, Baskins and Robbins. Ice cream parlor is more generic. Parlor game and parlor tricks seem to be a thing of the pastas well.

Tattoo parlor is still a used term. Dairy farmers still use the term “milking parlor”, which can give one an impression of Gary Larson cartoon just waiting to be drawn.

Since the word Parlor is soon to be forgotten, is there any wonder no one knows of the word “locutorium?”

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What The Ad Really Says

There is a TV commercial for a company that is a service that will tell you the history of an automobile you are considering buying. It shows a car in a flood and the ad reads, “new upholstery.” Another one of a car that had been in burned by an engine fire; that ad said “Hot!”

Horse shopping is a lot like shopping for a used car because of deceptive and or exaggerated descriptions. After a while you can learn to see through what they are saying. I've been seeing them all during the last two weeks. It's a precious moment when you can ask the owner how they came up with the totally inaccurate description.

The one I dealt with yesterday afternoon was advertised as finished, yet it only knew how to go forward, left and right, and sometimes stop. She was a sweet horse, but never knew anything else than the basics. Finished horses should know how to collect and frame up, neck reign, turn by leg pressure, haunch turns, forehand turns, back up, side-pass and all sorts of trots and canters and walking speeds.

Here are some texts that make me see red flags:

Great trail horse = Knows how to go left, right and straight.
Some Parelli training= Inexperienced trainer who watches entirely too much RFD-TV and the horse is confused.
Finished horse less than $4,000=Owner has no idea of what finished means.
Barefoot=Owner fell for the Strasser Cult and he horse has had hoof abscesses.
Broodmare=Hasn’t been ridden for years or ever.
Excellent Ground Manners=Has no manners under saddle.
Easy Keeper= Will eat everything in sight and is probably aggressive at feeding time.
Beautiful=A hand full. There are always problems with the beautiful horses.
Beautiful Summer Coat=Looks like it has Cushings Disease the rest of the year.
Professionally trained for 30 days=Let me know when it’s had 90 days or take 2k off the price.
Loves working in arena=Horse is spooky outdoors.
Loves outdoor riding=Horse is spooky indoors.
Get up and go=Horse never stands still.
Lead Mare=Will attempt to kick your other horses to death.
Curious and smart=Escape artist.
Young for her age=Should include a shovel in the deal.
Need tune-up=Needs overhaul.
No vices=Yeah, right…

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I recently got a SWAG catalog in the mail. Swag stands for “Stuff/Shit We All Get.” If you have a business you get solicitations from all sorts of swag companies who want to print you company name on just about anything for you to give away.

You have more than likely accumulated a lot of swag in your lifetime. Key chains, hats, cups, T-shirts, pens… I can say swag items have never got me to buy or support any company that I wasn’t already supporting.

Some companies hand out some really nice swag. Go into a doctor’s office and see all the swag the pharmaceutical companies dole out. You will see clocks, clipboards, boxes of tissues.

Hotels have swag, I always take the scratch pads, but I leave the pens, the conditioner and the shampoo. I will take the moisturizer if it smells nice. Red Lion Hotels have this lime and ginger stuff that smells really good.

My favorite piece of swag is an Air France pocket knife, which I can no longer take on planes. Another is a pencil that was made from recycled denim from the Portland Water Bureau. And no, I've never flown on Air France or been a customer of the Portland Water Bureau.

Some people can’t get enough swag. Some people go overboard and take everything that isn’t nailed down. I knew one woman who would take coasters from every bar we ever went to. She would take all the artificial sweeteners from the table. I had another friend whose grandmother loved swag, so she went out and collected stuff for a year. On her grandmother’s 80th birthday he present was a box full of all sorts of free stuff and samples and general swag. Her grand mother was delighted and spent the rest of the week filling her canisters, salt shakers and catsup bottles with all the free stuff.

I’ve become swag resistant. I can go to a conference or a convention and come away with nothing these days. I was recently at a thing put on by a vendor and they gave all the participants a very nice writing tablet and a stylish pen. As soon as I left the session I gave it to an obvious swag collector. It was nice but it was something I’d never use and it would eventually end up as land fill. I already have too many things I don’t and will never use. I still have swag from my childhood.

I’ve come to realize that I already have too many pens I don’t like or use. I’m real picky about my writing instruments. I don’t like hats or T-shirts that advertise anything. I will take home horse grooming products from horse expos from time to time. I like swag that can be used up and not the made in China plastic crap that you just throw away when you realize there is no use for it.

There is something in us that dictates we take all things that are offered for free, but we really should learn to resist. Don’t become imprisoned by swag. It will just fill your junk drawers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Growing Potatoes

Weese mentioned planting potatoes in her yard the other day. Many people don’t know this little potato trick, but you can harvest a field of potatoes from a three-foot by three-foot box if you are limited for space.

What I’ve done in the past was to construct a wooden box where I could add or remove the boards on the side. I’d plant the potato starts in some soil on the bottom and as the greenery rose above the soil I would cover most of it with more soil. By the end of the summer the box will be filled with dirt and the potato start would still be at the bottom and tubers will have formed and grown all the way up the stem that I continually buried.

You can do this in just about any large container as long as it doesn't hold water in the bottom.

When the foliage at the top finally dies in the autumn at the top of the box it is time to remove the boards and shovel away the soil. You will find you will have close to 100 pounds of potatoes all grown in a three foot cube.

This method is much easier than a potato field because to grow potatoes properly in the ground you need to dig a deep rut and hill the soil constantly. It’s just easier to control a big cube than it is to manage a field. It takes less space and less water. It’s not too late to try it this year. Have fun!

Monday, May 05, 2008

When the Cities Close

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. I say this while thinking about cities in the arid regions such as Phoenix, Los Angelis, Las Vegas. It seems totally unnatural to have a city somewhere where it can’t possibly support itself. It is also unnatural to have a city that is so large that it can’t support itself. We may see these cities abandoned within our lifetime because of a lack of water and the expense of trucking in food. It is getting pretty desperate, and it a problem that can’t be fixed with conservation. It is far past that point.

Oddly, I doubt that Clatsop County could support its population on what could possibly be grown and raised here; though we may come close to self sufficiency in the beef and dairy production. We may be able to supply enough power for local consumption is we were to have wind mills on the coast and up and down the river. We have a good water supply.

We keep hearing reports of food riots and hording, but what happens if this becomes a reality for every community? You would think that maybe the Mid-west would do fine with all their agriculture, but most of what is grown in the Mid-west is corn for processing and ethanol production. There is very little coming out of the American bread basket states that is fit for human consumption these days. The corn and soy all needs to be processed before humans can eat it.

It is becoming clear how important it is to buy locally produced foods. Transporting our food from all over the country and the world is not only costly, but it is a risky proposition if transportation prices make it too expensive to continue trucking and shipping it in. By supporting our local growers we hope it will keep them well fed so they can keep us well fed if the current system fails.

It is more important than ever to grow our own supplemental food supply. If you aren't already doing it, start small. Put in some beans or peas. It will taste good and you will save some money. You may even find that you like it so much that you may put in a simple greenhouse to grow things like tomatoes, peppers and basil; three things that only seem to grow well indoors in our cold coastal climate.

The great thing about plants is that you don't need a lot of land. Most thing can be grown in containers and easily protected when the weather changes.

Getting local now will help you adjust slowly. There is the possibility that locally grown items will be all you will be able to get in the future. If that happens there will be a mass migration from the cities to places where people can eat.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Farm Boots

I find it hard to believe how quickly I go through pairs of farm boots. Usually I can walk through muck, swamps and streams for about two months or so before it happens. I'll step in the water and cold liquid will ooze onto my toes.

In years past I'd try to find the crack or the hole and goo it up with silicon caulk, but that patch may only last for minutes or a day at best.

I know I should go out and buy a more durable water proof boots, but it is so convenient to be able to slip them on and off. Maybe I should start buying them in bulk.

It wasn't all that long ago that I started wearing them. I wished I started wearing them years ago. To think of all the times I felt safe and sufficient in garden clogs only to lose one in the mud and then step directly into the mud while trying to get back into them. I've never had a pair of Crocks. Though the lightness of that clog would be welcomed, the vent holes on the top would not make it good foot wear when there is dew on the grass.

For those of you who this article reminds you that your farm boots need to be replaced, the black and orange ones at Gimres will outlast the black ones from Fred Meyer and they are generally the same price.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

We're Talking About Chicks, Man!

I forgot to mention that we got our chickens three weeks ago. There are twenty little peepers living in a box of straw showered by a heat lamp. Our Spring has been colder than normal. I decided to house the chick in my wife’s office, but even with daily bedding changes they room began to stink. Birds are really disgusting animals and should never live inside peoples homes. Sorry Syd, but really…they are disgusting.

They now reside in the garage. They’ve doubled in size in two weeks and are attempting to fly. I will need to build their new coop within the next two weeks. They will be flying out of their box by then. I don’t want to find chickens roosting on my truck.

For those of you keeping score we will be off to kiss our second frog since posting the article about horses two weeks ago. Updates will follow on both the horses and chickens.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Yogi Berra once said "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." This reminds me of when things grow so large and get out of control or depart form their original simple mission.

Recently I commented on another blog about how big the Crab, Seafood and Wine Festival has gotten that it can never return to its humble roots where it was a fun thing to attend.

I also commented on Astoria Sunday Market. Aside from the crowds, the dogs and the strollers that that make this weekly event difficult to maneuver through, I find myself missing the little market it once was when it was held on Saturdays by the Astoria train station. In the beginning you went there to buy fruit, vegetables and plants off the back of someone’s pick-up truck. You could buy some wooden ware for gardens. It was totally agricultural in nature. If you came here after the demise of our old Saturday Market, you missed something that was really sweet. The present Sunday Market is more like a Wal*Mart in comparison.

At the present market you can buy all sorts of crap that you don’t really need which has absolutely nothing to do with agriculture or common sense for that matter. I mean does anyone really need a PVC marshmallow shooter?

The sea of white vendor tents without local business licenses brings to mind Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves as they spent their days crafting their wares and going from market to market in a hopeful attempt to remove lucre from the locals.

When I used to go to the old Saturday Market, I would leave feeling refreshed and grateful. When I leave the present Sunday Market I feel tired, angry and abused. I wish people in power would realize that bigger isn’t better. It never is.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Hay Man, I've Got Some Grass

For being a relatively smooth grass, hay seems to stick everywhere. Normally I buy hay, stick it in the hay shed and dole it out to the horses twice a day, but it keeps turning up in the strangest places. It is all over my truck. There is a pile composting in the back of the truck, which is to be expected, but there is hay everywhere in the cab. I opened a tool box the other day and there was hay in it. I went out to my mail box the other day and there was some hay in it.

I remove my shoes and work shirt when I enter the house, yet I find hay in my bathroom. I find it in my desk drawer. I found it once in my lap-top. I haven’t found any in the refrigerator. Hay must not like the cold.

I was at a conference a while back and I was wearing a sport jacket. I found hay in one of the pockets. There is hay in my check book. I find it everywhere.

I recently found some timothy on my roof this winter. I haven’t had timothy for close to a year now.

Hay is truly amazing for its ability to get into everything and be everywhere. I bet hay can even be found on the Moon.