Friday, October 31, 2008

In Another Light

I haven’t yet run an electrical line to the hen house yet so my morning feedings are done with a flash light. This morning on my way back to the house I shone the light beam through my hand. I recalled how interesting this was to me as a child to actually see the dense look of the metacarpal bones through the red glow of my skin.

Flash lights are tools of discovery for children. It is when we first become aware of the meaning of “seeing things in a different light.”

My favorite story of illumination happened while I was a lad one summer in Canada. As I’ve described in past articles, the place where we stayed was primitive. Refrigeration was an ice house.

For those of you too young to have ever experienced an ice house, they are small barn-like structures. Ice is cut from the lake and hauled by horse carts and stored in a massive block pile and then covered with saw dust as an insulator.

My brother and I returned after fishing one night. We cleaned the fish at the dock and carried them into the ice house. He had his burlap sack of fish and I had mine. We jumped down into the ice pit. He brushed the saw dust away from the area where he stored his fish and I did the same on the other side of the ice block mound. One of us put our flashlight right up to the ice and the light shown out as a mysterious glow on the other side. It was a soft blue-greenish glow.

We placed our burlap sacks on the ice and covered them with saw dust. Then we went to another area of the ice pile, placing our flashlights against the blocks and swept saw dust away from several places which was like opening windows. The entire inside of the ice house glowed like a fire fly. It was the coolest thing had ever seen at that young age. I would love to find an ice house somewhere again and share the experience with others.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vocal Exercises

I was thinking about the lack of invented statements in music these days. Snoop Dogg was pretty good with the trade-marked and patented Schizzle language he came up with, but in the 20s and 30s music was full of all sorts of trade mark statements and phrases.

You may have noticed in yesterdays post where Betty Boop singing the phrase, “Boop-Oop- A-Doop”, which may have been the most famous by far. However let’s not forget Cab Callaway’s, “Hi De Ho.” Then, who could ever forget Milton Ager and Jack Yellen in 1927 with their “Vo Do De Oh Do.” Then there was Mairzy Doats in 1943.

All these songs and many others were inspired during the Great Depression. It makes me wonder if our present Depression will give birth to some sort of new wave of comical phrases in songs. One can only hope there will be something funny to up-lift us over the next few years or decades.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The 60s Would Have Been Nothing Without The 30s

Occasionally I’ll hear someone from the present generation talk about how every once in a while someone from my generation will surprise them with their ultimate hipness. They seem to think that people like R. Crumb and Bill Griffin are innovators and creators of a total classic art form.

Allow me to share something from the 30s that may have very well inspired them. My apologies to those of you on dial-up, this is a 7 minute video that you will be unable to down load.
Real Inspiration

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

East Winds

The east wind is notorious for driving people mad. In California they are called the Santa Ana Winds. In Hawaii they are called the Kona Winds. Elsewhere there are Diablo, Foehn, Katabatic, Sundowner and Loo Winds. Here in the Pacific Northwest we call them the Chinook Winds.

These are the winds that are warm and dry. They winds will line dry your laundry in an hour. They deliver the smell of the Waunna Mill to the western portion of the county. You look outside and see a beautiful day and you walk outside and want to wretch when that happens.

People do and say crazy things when the east wind blows. Animals become very tweaky when the winds change direction.

It is usually associated with a high pressure system. During the summer it’s hot and dry. In the winter it is cold and dry. That was the system we were under the influence of on Sunday and yesterday.

Did you notice anything weird?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Man Who Wasn't There

Though I may come across as a communicator here, in person I don’t have much to say. Blather bothers me, yet sometimes I feel uncomfortable with the silence I create. I recently had a dental appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I don’t like a lot of conversation when I am a captive and unable to speak. It is the age old joke of having a mouth filled with instruments and the dentist or hygienist wants to have a conversation with you.

Even when the instruments have been removed I never feel like talking. It occurred to me that I must seem like the Man Who Wasn’t There. I could see my lack of conversation was bothering my hygienist. I was expressionless, uncommunicative and unemotional, though I was having a good time inside my head. I was enjoying the view of the river and listening to the sounds being created in the office. I ask myself questions like: There is always music being played in dental offices, yet why do they always have a crappy sound system and speakers? I was making catty remarks in my head about the voice of the woman in the next operatory. I wondered why a dental assistant would wear shoes that squeaked so much in a room with those sorts of acoustics.

It’s interesting to me that The Man Who Wasn’t There on the exterior had a party going on inside his head. It probably would have amused my hygienist as well had I only let her in, but that would be too much like blather.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More From Guy's Phrase Dictionary

I recently wrote Making Up The Language, which was about words or phrases that families or individuals coin. I just thought of a few more terms that are used around our place:

Hoof Cookies, come from horse hooves with shoes. Mud, hay and crap gets packed in their hooves and sometimes comes out on its own and it looks like a round cookie in the shape of a horses hoof.

Poochie Lips, are what you get when you find a horse’s sweet spot usually above their shoulder. By rubbing or scratching this spot, most horses will extend their necks, twist their heads and pooch out their lips like they are going to drink from a straw. Then their lips start fluttering.

Wild Water, is what the family pet is drinking when they drink from a toilet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Animals Eating

We all know what fun it is to feed weird stuff to our animals. Feeding peanut butter to dogs is always good for a five minute laugh. Keeping an apple in your pocket will keep horses busy for hours trying to get at it. Feeding apples to horses is funny as well because they soon start drooling apple juice. Catnip for cats is always good for a laugh.

However I think I’ve found the most amusing thing to feed an animal. Spaghetti for chickens is hilarious. They slurp spaghetti like humans. I would love to find something like a six-foot strand of pasta and watch it disappear like an anchor rope in the water.

I know, I’m a simpleton…

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hello Darkness My Old Friend...

I know there are a lot of day-light worshipers out there that get really bummed by the shorter days as winter approaches, but I’m not one of them. I wake up before first light and start my outdoor chores by spot light and flash light every morning. I never start any equipment until after 9:00AM as a courtesy to my neighbors. Fortunately there is always plenty of quiet work to do before 9:00AM.

During the summer I often find myself beginning my day at 5AM and often I continue working outside until 8PM. However, I really appreciate the shorter days of winter where the sun goes down and within a half hour it’s too dark to do anything. During the winter I get to go in earlier and have dinner at a reasonable hour. I like eating around 6pm, not after 9PM.

There are days when the rains prevent a lot of things from getting done that need to be done. These are good days for naps. I love the gloom of winter. I love relaxing in the evening.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lost and Sometimes Found

In Richard Brautigan’s book, In Water Mellon Sugar, he wrote of The Forgotten Works, which was a place where all things that were ever lost or forgotten can be found.

I very rarely ever lose anything and when I do lose something I figure it was stolen. The only things I can think of that I no longer have are: a record by M. Frog LeBatt and an antique apple sauce jar that looks like an apple. I suspect a former sister-in law for taking the record, though she denied it and I suspect a former live-in girl friend for the apple sauce jar and she denied it. Both items had their proper places and they are no longer there.

Sometimes things are lost and found. Once my father returned from Europe and left his entire camera bag at JFK Air Port. He was heart sick, but I convinced him to go back and look for it. We drove the 50 miles, and sure enough it was right where he left it. Like that would ever happen these days. An unclaimed bag would now be detonated.

I recently wrote about replacing the floor boards in my horse trailer. One thing I didn’t do was bolt down the rubber stall mats. Stall mats keep horses from slipping on the wood. I figured they might slide around a bit, but I never suspected they might slide out from under the door. Normally the horses keep the mats in place, but oddly I was driving to Jewell this weekend with an empty trailer. When I arrived there I found that one 4’ X 6’ mat was missing. It dawned on me where I had noticed a thump when I was driving. I thought it was a block of wood falling over in my pick-up bed, but it had to be the stall mat slapping the road. It is a very similar sound.

All the way on my return trip I kept an eye out for the stall mat. They cost around $35 to replace, so I was hoping that no one would have stopped to pick it up, but someone out there saw this valuable item in the road and it was gone. It was the beginning of a bad day.

When I got home to unload the trailer, the back door smashed a large ceramic pot that we collect rain water in; a $40 error. Then I realized I miscounted the hay that I bought and I was one bale short.

I could see what direction the day was taking, so I unloaded everything and went in and took a nap just so I’d stop screwing up for a while.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Releasing the Bonds

I was going to wait until after Election Day to post this, but now might be a better time to get some attention. Not because I am under the delusion that my voice would actually influence a vote, but more that I think it’s time to turn the page on a common practice with public agencies.

Presently when places like the Fair Grounds, the College, Libraries, Fire Stations, and even the County Jail want to make a big mortar and brick addition to their holdings they usually present the voters with a bond issue to vote on. Sure I’m going to sound like a cranky old guy about how much these measures have raised my taxes over the years, but I have to admit that I’ve voted for all of them. I am supporting college bond on the ballot this November.

I’m starting to think that bond measures are the fast and dirty ways to raise money, leaving tax payers on the hook often until the improvement we are paying for is obsolete. What ever happened to saving for a project? Responsible people have to do it all the time. People save to repair their homes. They save to buy boats and cars and homes. They save for vacations. Sure, we were able to get zero down loans which proved to be disastrous for many.

Why can’t agencies funded the public save for future expansion? Why can’t they plan things in twenty-year increments? I do understand that some public budgets do not allow carry over funds from year to year, but why not create a Foundation? I know the College has a foundation that commits its money to fund scholarships and some can be used for minor technical purposes, but why can’t they start right now saving for another update fifty years from now? Why can’t firehouses have foundations that have fund raisers and invest their monies for future equipment or expansion?

A Foundation would make it easier for people to give gifts in their wills. A public entity could watch the progress of their Foundations dollars and the excitement will build more funds toward the purchases they desire to make. Most of all it will take the local tax payers off the hook. It will show the real community support and can make projects even more popular than they would have been if they just showed up on the ballot.

We are becoming tax saturated. Each issue that passes makes it harder for future issues to pass. The public can only bear so much burden of the well intentioned public entities. I wouldn't mind if we became a fully Socialist country where all of our needs would be met, but death by 1000 cuts is a bad idea.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Three Moves is Equal to One Fire

I’m thinking of all the things I’ve accumulated since I moved here twenty years ago. Though I’ve given many things away, I still have lots of stuff. This reminds me of when I moved here from the East Coast. There I had years worth of accumulation, which most of it I left behind.

When I moved here I shipped my record collection to myself, about 1,800 albums at that time. I also mailed most of my books out here as well. I did give away about five hundred books among other things. I gave away over 100 house plants and all my furniture. I gave an old oak ice box that I refinished. I gave away just about all my plates and dishes. I gave away all my tools. I gave away a utility trailer, though I should have kept it and hauled that across country. I gave away and upright string bass.

Other than the records and books I shipped myself, the only things I brought with me was all that I could fit in a 1982 Subaru wagon with a roof rack. That was a couple pair of skis and two bicycles, my stereo, and Apple II computer, and Okidata dot matrix printer and my clothing.

I had such a humble re-beginning. Who would have known that I would accumulate so much stuff again? This is not to say that I have a lot of junk around. I have stuff for the farm and tools for my shop. I just wonder what I will want to take with me when living in the country is no longer practical for the age that I hope to become.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Natives In The Tank

Keeping the horses in the hay for the winter reminds me a similar thing I had to do when I lived back East.

One day my brother caught a small snapping turtle and he took it home and put it in an aquarium in his living room. It dawned on me that it would be fun to have an aquarium with native fish in it. I had a couple empty twenty-gallon tanks which I filled and went out and caught a four inch pickerel and four inch small mouth bass. It wasn’t long before I figured that they weren’t going to eat fish flakes, so I added some minnows to each tank. This was good food for them.

My collection grew in the next couple weeks with a few more twenty-gallon tanks which one became the home of a small perch and another housed some cray fish and the final one got some sun fish and blue gills.

The sunfish and the cray fish were happy to eat pieces of ground beef, but the perch, pickerel and the bass would only eat live minnows. I had to go out and get a tank just for minnows. Sometime in October I realized that our local bait shops would be closing for the winter and that had better stock up on enough minnows to last me the winter. I got ten more ten-gallon tanks and put about fifty minnows in each tank. I would try to keep at least ten minnows in each of the tanks containing the bass, pickerel and perch. They were able to feed at will.

Believe it or not, my native fish collection was much more interesting that the tropical’s. I had a friend that had several tanks of African cichlids, and after seeing my sunfish and blue gills he eventually sold his fish and got into natives as well. One advantage is that they don’t cost anything and are easily replaced and another advantage is that you don’t need to heat the water. You can also use native plants in the tank.

The pickerel was a bit boring. She would just stay stationary until it was feeding time, and there she would strike like lightening and then return to her spot.

Every once in a while I will go somewhere where there is a fish tank, and it is then when I am tempted to start another native fish aquarium. It’s really much cooler than one might imagine.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Needles in Haystacks

I’m sure everyone has heard the expression, “Harder than finding a needle in a hay stack.” And I’m sure that most people equate it with the difficulty of finding one small object amongst a lot of stuff, but the problem of finding a needle in a hay stack becomes even more difficult when you look at a hay stack in the light. The blades of hay are often shinny and reflect light the same way a needle would. I’ve been fooled before by seeing something glistening in the hay only to find it was a reflection from a smooth blade. The reflection often looks like a needle. So if you were to search for a needle in a hay stack you would spend most of your time being fooled by light. That is unless you came armed with a really good magnet.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Old Photos

One of the frustrations of writing about things I experienced as a child is not having the exact image or illustration I would like to have to show exactly where I was. It is akin to trying to pass off a photo the Statue of Liberty in Las Vegas as the real thing. Had I known the images of something like a hot dog stand would have importance to me one day I would have taken a dozen photos. Sometimes the illustrations I find go far above and beyond what I could possibly have hoped for.

Ginger mentioned her appreciation for the illustrations I use the other day and how fitting they are. I know this gets mentioned every time Rich Pix brings up the issues of photo credits to me, so your protest is noted in advance, Rich, but I often review hundreds of illustrations for each article. I down load between ten and twenty and then I try each one out to see how it looks against the text. Weird, I know I shouldn’t fret over that sort of stuff for a blog, but that’s what I do.

I really need to start bringing a camera with me every where I go because many of the things we see today will be gone when they become important enough to write about them. In the future.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Studly Behavior

Sometimes I get amazed by natural animal behavior. Though a lot of undesirable traits can be removed from stallions simply by gelding them, (castrating), some traits never leave them.

My horse was gelded and I don’t know at what age. He is 15 now and he is pretty mellow, but he still hangs on to two studly traits. First he is very tidy and he does his business generally in one spot and one spot only. Mares will generally let go where ever they happen to be when the urge comes on, but my horse does a stud pile. I know it sounds like a porno term, but a stud pile is a pile of crap. The higher they can stack it the better. This tells other stallions that there is a horse in these parts that craps really big piles so it must be a big horse and they better leave.

For me stud piles are easier to pick up than going over every square inch that mares tend to crap over and walk through. My gelding will always go outside to go. He will never soil his stall.

The other behavior is the prance. Though, he has been snipped, if we walk by a mare that is in season he will arch his neck and start prancing proudly like a dressage horse. In dressage the movement is called a piaffe, and it is described as a movement in trot (alternate diagonals). It’s beautiful and somewhat fun to ride.

We were riding on the beach the other day when four up-wind horses approached us. He went into his stud mode and showed off until the horses passed to a down-wind position. He looked magnificent.

The thing that gets me is that no matter what training we give our horse there is always something under it all that we will never be able to extinguish. Sometimes we try enhancing what they do naturally. It's all good and it's all beautiful.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hot Dog!

Hot dogs don’t seem to be a big menu item here in Oregon. They were big on the East Coast when I was growing up. Just about every town had a hot dog stand of one kind or another. I recall Johnny and Hange’s and Libby’s in Patterson New Jersey as giants of the industry from the early part of the 20th century. When going to Yankee or Shea stadium it seemed like everyone in the audience had at least one hot dog during the game. On the streets of New York there was always a Sabrett hot dog cart within sight.

In the town where I grew up there was a road side stand that looked like the building in the photo above. It was a long shack with shutters over the open air windows. When they were open the shutters were propped up creating a make-shift roof above the customers that came to the counter. There was no neon signs nor as I recall there weren't even any signs stating what sort of business it was. The place was called Herk’s and it was a hot dog stand. It was the home of the Texas Weiner, which was smothered in onions and some sort of saucy ground beef concoction.

This was the kind of place that deep fried their hot dogs. I know it sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, but hey, these things were great before we all learned what hot dogs were made from.

Herk’s was a popular stand. My sister worked there and she would give me free cups of root beer when ever I visited her there.

With their success came some building modifications that enclosed the customer end. Outdoor picnic tables were replaced by indoor seating and Herk’s stayed open all year.

Eventually the owners retired and sold the business to someone with few business skills who ran it into the ground. It was again sold and reopened as Taco Jacks, which lasted for a year or so. Mexican food wasn’t big back then on the East Coast. In fact I don’t think I even sampled Mexican Food until I was in my late 20s.

I went for years without having that sort of hot dog again after Herk’s closed, but one night I found a hot dog stand on the shores of Lake Champlain. There they served Michigan Red Hots. These hot dogs were even better than anything I ever had at Herk’s. Usually the foods that are imprinted on you at an early age are the standard that makes anything tasted after the impression was made seem inferior. However, these Michigan Red Hots blew Herk’s out of the water. It still stands as the best in my mind, but now the competition is over because I can’t eat like that any more.

So hail to the old hot dog stands and to the time before cholesterol counts controlled our lives.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making Up the Language

It’s funny how some families develop their own language after a while. Often it’s a language that needs further explanation when spoken in public.

I think the first instance of a new language emerging was when my wife’s eldest son started using the word, “Gription” pronounced grip-shon which is a combination of holding and traction.

Next my wife couldn’t remember the name of a back hoe and she started calling it a “Digerator.”

One I started is “Shitsville,” which is any craft shop. The word Craft often sounds like the word “Crap” so it isn’t a large leap from Crap Store to “Shitsville.”

When we want to say that something is absurd we will say, “ Bring Your Suits.” In a warmer climate you will always hear the term when you are invited to any party, but here on the coast no one owns a pool, so just the absurd notion that you are requesting someone bring their swim suit to any function.

Another one that sounds funny is if you ever hear me say “I’m going to go home and take my pants off.” That actually means that I am tired and I’m going to put my sweat pants on and relax for the evening.

I’d love to hear the terms and words you use that can only be found in your families.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Apple of My Eye

Back when were still developing our pastures we would have pasture envy when ever we drove buy lush pastures that seemed that no matter how horse were on them, they never got eaten down to nothing. We rotate our pastures so they don’t get totally eaten down. We have one that we put the horses on that has been eaten down. It is a sacrifice area and it is used as a play pen. I will be adding another acre to the pasture rotation next year which will ease more of the burden on the other pastures.

Now that our pastures are coming in very well we don’t have pasture envy all that often any more. We now have apple envy. We lost all of our fruit trees in the storm last December. We used to eat a lot of the apples, but we also fed apples to the horses. Now when I drive by houses with trees full of apples I want to stop and pick bushels of them. I have found some apple trees in the wild and I always fill my pockets when I walk past them.

I seriously need to replant. Life just isn’t the same without an apple tree on the property.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Yesterdays Numbers

Something dawned on me while I was dialing my mother’s number the other day. That is the only phone number that has been burned into my memory other than my own phone number that I’ve had for 20 years now. I don’t even know what my own cell phone number is. I have to push buttons to find it when ever I have to give it out.

When she answered I asked her how long she has had the same phone number. She had to think about it for a moment and she realized that she and my father got their first telephone sometime between the birth of my mother and my sister. It was sometime around 1945.

She has had the same phone number for 63 years. You would think there should be some special prize for uninterrupted continual subscription and use over that long of a period. If her phone number was a person it would qualify for Social Security.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rain and Ice

We had a frost on Thursday. This is when I wish I had built a three-hundred bale storage barn. Right now I’m storing hay in my garage where my truck should be. I fear I will have to invest in an ice scrapper instead this year.

I know most people don’t park in a garage, but I love it because you never have to deal with frost. You don’t need to rush to get in your truck when it’s raining, and most of all your vehicle gets to dry off. It is so wet out here in the winter that one of my cars actually grew a fern on its bumper.

Maybe I’ll be able to park inside again next year, but for this year it’s more important to have dry hay than a dry truck. It looks like I'll need to purchase an ice scrapper.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Juice

Why is it that you can’t find on any grocer’s shelf the juice from the juiciest fruit on the planet? I have never seen watermelon juice available anywhere. I’ve seen some weird juices combinations like mango-banana-guava, but never watermelon.

There are some stand alone juices like orange, grapefruit, grape, prune, apple, pineapple and tomato. Once you get into the exotics they seem to get blended with other juices. I don’t think I’ve ever seen strawberry juice as a stand alone juice. I have seen carrot juice as a stand alone juice, but carrots have no where the same amount of juice content as a watermelon.

I’ve never seen cantaloupe juice. I don’t think I’ve ever seen peach juice, but I have seen clam juice. I think I’d rather drink cantaloupe juice over clam juice any day.

Maybe next year I’ll drive the truck over to Hermiston and load the horse trailer with water melons. I’ll press them for juice and make frozen watermelon concentrate. Then in May when everyone is looking forward to a nice summer watermelon I will make my fortune selling watermelon juice by the glass. It will then be bye-bye blog because I will be too rich to bother with the Internet, except for maybe a franchise web site.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Burning Frustration

I grew up in a generation of burners. To protest the war in Viet Nam, draft age men burned their draft cards in protest. It is said that feminists burned their bras, but I’ve never actually met a woman that did that. Bras were too expensive and I would suspect the synthetic material would smell pretty bad when ignited. I think ‘Bra Burning” was more of a concept than a reality.

I did know flag burners, and I’ve seen people burned in effigy. It is more civilized to burn a person in effigy that it was to tar and feather them as they did in the 1600 and 1700s.

We don’t see all that much burning in protests in this country any more. We never see burning tires in the streets like we see on the news coming from the Middle East. We never see Molotov Cocktails. Maybe it’s due to arson laws.

I never hear of mortgage burning parties any more. It seems that our mortgages will outlive most of us. Many of us will experience the flames of the crematorium before our debts are ever satisfied.

The only flames happening now are on the Net where readers flame one another for their opinions.

Maybe people have more respect for fire than to use it as a tool for protest. Fire is warming and has atmosphere. After spending a night around a camp fire it’s hard to employ it for another purpose other than to cook your food and warm you while engaging in good conversations.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Black and White Memories

We accepted that things just weren’t colorful back when our movies and televisions were black and white.

I recall there was a white line in the road, now they are yellow. Tennis balls used to be white; they are now yellow. Street lights were white and now they are yellow. It is said the yellow light somehow deters criminal activities.

Tee-shirts were always white as were underwear. We grew up with white socks and white bread. Before Howard Johnson’s came around there were only two flavors of ice cream.

Henry Ford said that you could buy the Model T in any color as long as it was black. Events were either black tie; semi-formal, or white tie; evening formal events.
There were white knights and black nights. Cowboys wore white hats if they were good and black hats if they were the villains.

Ideology was black and white. Things got weird when shades of gray came into focus. After color finally came through the technological threshold, things got brighter and one would think that we would by now be living is a peacock tail world of ultra color, but as I look around, I see a silver monitor on a black stand. I see a black computer and a black radio. I see an off white printer. Most of the things I see are black, off-white and silver. What a disappointment when we all expected a colorful future.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Scary Movies

Thinking back to when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s in the world of black and white television (often with horizontal hold problems), it was a wonder we were ever able to be frightened by the scary images we saw when compared to the technical realism that we see on screens today. Were we just more naive back then or are we more callused today?

I was talking recently with a contemporary that stated her entire family was nearly frightened to death every year when the Wizard of Oz was broadcast. Though they all knew how the story ends, as soon as those flying monkey came out, the family literally screamed every time. This woman tried to convey how frightening that scene was to her kids and they looked at her and said, “You must be joking!”

I recall my first time seeing the Monster from the Id on Forbidden Planet. I recall being frightened by The House of Wax, House on the Haunted Hill, Frankenstein, Wolfman, the Mummy and the Crawling Eye. In the theater there was "Wait Until Dark", where every theater totally darkened the house lights; exit signs included for the last seven minutes of the movie. These films pale in comparison to the horror films of today. Even Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was scary, but fortunately she was pretty hot and personal fantasies overpowered any fears that one might have.

There used to be magazines dedicated to the monster trade, Monster, Creep and a few more I don’t recall now. I think I can safely equate the movies I watched as a kid as something akin to a starter drug and the movies that come out today are like crack or heroine. The stuff we got off on back then is nothing like the stuff needed to get the masses off today. It's a wonder we haven't all been frightened to death.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

True Grit

I was thinking back to when I was a kid in New Jersey. Every couple of months my mother would hand me some money and tell me to go to town to get a hair cut. I’d ride my bike to the barber shop. It was usually a Saturday morning, so there was always some waiting time. Back then it seemed like all the local barbers were Italian with slight accents from the old country. Occasionally they would speak to one another in Italian, but they were very good at conversing in English.

All barber shops had a variety of magazines to read while you waited. There was usually a stack of Look and Life magazines. There was a special rack for true crime and men’s magazines where kids were not allowed to venture. Being a kid I was limited to Life and Look and another magazine that I’ve only ever seen in barber shops. That was one called Boy’s Life.

Boy’s Life was this idyllic magazine of virtues for children of Republican families. It promoted the Rockwell vision of what an American boy should hold dear. Frankly, I found the entire publication to be a bit douchie.

The only redeeming factor were the adds in the back that sold X-Ray vision glasses, magic tricks and model cars. One ad that always intrigued me was the one that had the picture of a paper boy selling Grit. They went on about the money and prizes one could earn selling subscriptions and delivering the Grit Newspapers in your community.

In all my years I have never actually seen a copy of Grit. I had no idea what it was all about until I looked it up on Wikipedia a few moments ago. The philosophy of the paper back then was: Always keep Grit from being pessimistic. Avoid printing those things which distort the minds of readers or make them feel at odds with the world. Avoid showing the wrong side of things, or making people feel discontented. Do nothing that will encourage fear, worry or temptation... Wherever possible, suggest peace and good will toward men. Give our readers courage and strength for their daily tasks. Put happy thoughts, cheer and contentment into their hearts.

Since then, Grit has turned into a bi-monthly perfect bound magazine that covers agriculture and rural issues. It’s funny, but if a kid tried to sell me a subscription now, I’d probably go for it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sick Day XXV

Was there a meeting that I missed where it was unanimously voted by a quorum that it is now OK for people to fart openly in public? What the hell is going on these days people? The other day I was in a store and this woman bends over and lets one go. She stood up quickly and I hoped she would be able to contain herself but she kept pumping it as she walked away. Every time her right leg went forward more gas would be left behind. I immediately remembered what finding a patch of warm water was like when I swam as a child. I had to abandon shopping in that isle so as not to become over come by the scent of her digestive tract.

I was having a conversation with someone and suddenly sounded like someone was practicing the trumpet in his pants. It too, was a long recital. I'm surprised he didn't stop to apologize even after my eyes crossed

People just don't hide it any more. I was recently in a waiting room and I watched a guy across the room actually lift a cheek and let one rip. Come had to lift a cheek? Rat bastard! Dirty rat bastards! All of them.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Puzzles of Agriculture

One thing I love about visiting other small time agriculturists is that I always come away with ideas to solve problems I am having. My most recent problem was water for the chickens. If you give them a small container the first thing they will do is walk through it, shit in it and then put all sorts of other stuff in it. Even if you have a chicken watering system which is an upside down bucket that empties into a tray they still muck it up. They will perch on top and crap into the water.

I visited a friend that keeps a small flock of hens in her yard Portland. Her set-up was immaculate, but the first thing I noticed was that her watering system was suspended above the ground with a chain at chicken level. Being it was off the ground, the chickens couldn’t walk through it and being it was suspended by a chain they couldn’t roost above it. It was a perfect solution.

I’ve inspired others with the way I do things as well. I have paddocks outside the horse stalls so our horses aren’t stuck in stalls all day when the weather is bad. They can come in and go out when ever they feel. The first year I used hog fuel in the paddock, but after a good dose of rain it turned to chunky mud. The next year I used sand and that turned to mud as well. After learning my lesson during the first two years, I dug trenches through the paddock area and laid drainage tile and drainage rock. I covered it with geo-cloth and then put stall mats on top of that. It never gets muddy in there any longer.

It’s an expensive solution, but a few horse owners have followed my example and they no longer have winter hoof problems.

I figure at this rate, in a few hundred years we will have all the problems of agriculture ironed out making it all much easier.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

United Way Still Sucks After All These Years

At about this time every year I get reminded by my dear readers that it’s time for me to do my annual rant about why United Way sucks. Needless to say, United Way still sucks not only because they have all the supporting businesses that agree to payroll reduction programs shouldering all the burdens of fund raising. That’s right tax payer funded institutions are using their employee time and office supplies to promote United Way. The suckage continues with the Postal Service providing United Way cancellation marks on postage and United Way promotions on metered postage.

The suckage continues further with United Way executives each making (not earning) hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary.

If you want more on the history of United Way sucking, please follow the links to the previous articles.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I was listening to Johnny Winter’s first album again the other day. As an ex-guitarist I still found my fingers ripping off the notes on an imaginary fret board in the air. It made me realize why I gave up playing in the first place. I’m simply not nimble enough to play. Though I had no resistance from any strings and I didn’t have to make my left hand comply with the plucking of the right hand; I still couldn’t keep up. I never developed the speed required to be a good guitarist.

I remember when I was in my early 20s and I thought I was pretty good, and then I met a guy we called “The Wild Man.” He was amazing and was able to play chords, notes and arpeggio all while sympathetic strings hummed along behind a walking base line. It was like the bastard had four left hands going up and down the fret board all at once.

Now before any of you start lecturing me by saying that if I had the commitment and practiced I would have been able to achieve that sort of mastery, let me say that you are wrong. This 15 year old obviously sold his soul for that sort of talent.

Thinking back to now, there are very few things in life that I’ve actually been nimble at. Music, art, physical activity; though I was a good cyclist as far as speed and endurance. I’ve never been good at shuffling cards or tying knots. Dance…yeah right.

So if you are particularly good at something, please realize that you have a gift. Out of all the talents I suspect I might have, the only one I’m absolutely sure of is that I can make some mean zucchini bread and I’m OK with that. We take the gifts we are given.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Not So Fresh From the Field

As I mentioned yesterday I was driving through the vast agricultural areas of Oregon recently and I was struck with the scents of farms. Some farms smelled like dirt, while others smelled of chemical fertilizer. Some smelled of manure, but the oddest scent I came across was a farm that had the smell of rising bread. It was the smell of yeast. I don’t know what it was because I’m not all that familiar with all the verities of farm smells, but it was a smell that was comforting and disturbing at the same time.

I remember working on the farm when I was much younger. Each field had a different smell. The corn field has a good smell as did the tomatoes. The butternut squash had something going on that was somewhat nauseating, but the worst was the cabbage field after a long rainy spell followed by a few days of heat and humidity. Ho-man it could gag a maggot.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fresh From The Fields

I was driving through the Oregon Heart Land yesterday and I always find it interesting to see all the political signs the farmer host on their land. Usually one can see that most field farmers lean to the right politically, but this year I am noticing a major change. Yes, there are still a lot of signs supporting Smith and Erickson, but in my hundreds of road miles I never saw one sign promoting McCain. I did see a few sheep and dairy farms supporting Obama who have been GOP strong holds in the past.

I know all the conservative pundits are back peddling away from all their anti McCain stances and opinions they were spewing back in June, but somehow it seems agriculture isn’t buying it this year.

Another observation is that Allen Alley is spending way too much money to become the State Treasurer. His sign has a nice look, but damn, what isn’t he telling us with his war chest?

So who do I think will win this year? As always it’s the better looking candidate. Smith and Merkley are a toss-up because Smith’s face is getting really pudgy and his hair line seems to be going down his forehead instead of receding. Merkley has some sort of uni-brow going across his moon face. Both are pretty unattractive these days.

As for the Presidential campaign, other then McCain looking like he's hording nuts in his cheeks; they are both good looking candidates and I can't predict that race either. It strikes me as odd that both candidates are promoting "Change", but if Americans really wanted change this race would be against Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. Hopefully this will be my final political post for the year.