Monday, June 30, 2008

A Taste of Home

There is just something about the stuff you were brought up with that makes it special and imprints you for life. I was having a chat with an East Coaster the other day and he mentioned Taylor Ham, a product you just don’t see out here. I was never crazy about it, but I remember bringing it out for Jersey ex-patriots.

When I moved out here I had major cravings for east coast foods I missed. Eventually some of them made their way out here like Bryers ice cream and Thomas’s English Muffins. When Yo-Hoo showed up I got a six pack, drank it in one day and never got it again. There are some products that still have not made their way out here; one being Thomas’s Protein Bread. Oh well, I can live without it.

The one food I miss most and would never tire of is Dai-Day Sweet and Sour Duck Sauce. This is a fruit sauce made with, I believe apricots. This stuff was a condiment back there. Here on the other hand if you order a spring roll the Chinese restaurants give you a side of catsup or if you’re lucky a Yin and Yang mixture of catsup and mustard. If you order anything sweet and sour you get this neon pink jellied glaze. What’s up with that?

When ever my sister visits she usually brings me a jar or two. I looked it up on the internet today and I can mail order six - 40oz jars for $27.54, however the shipping would be $26.60.

I’m starting to think it might be worth it. I did after all once mail order a case of Birch Beer from Pennsylvania. I remember the look of shock on the face of the UPS carrier when I told him what he had delivered. I still have a few bottles of it. Six 40oz jars of duck sauce could last me a year or so.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Wizard of Speed and Time

I came across my intervalometer the other day. Back in the 80s I was an aspiring film maker. This was back in the days where computer animation was barely a blip on the screen. I had a super 8mm camera with the proper equipment to do stop motion animation.

I was intrigued by time lapse photography and I wanted to get involved with it. My camera allowed one frame at a time snaps and even had a hook-up for a switch, but a real intervalometer costs at that time hundreds of dollars. I took a trip to a local junk shop and collected enough stuff to make my own.

I got an electric clock, which was great because the motor had some power and it turned at 1 revolution per minute. On the motor I mounted a set of automobile points and a Chinese throwing star. As the star turned the points of the star would open and close the auto points. Each time the spur of the star passed it would open the points and when it was in between spurs the points were closed, snapping a picture. This was six frames per minute. I made variations of 1, 6 12, 18 and 24 frames per minute.

I was able to photograph a snow bank melting and an out-going tide in Hawaii. It was pretty cool.

It was then when I was introduced to the master of stop motion animation, Mike Jitlov. Mike did a lot of work fro Disney and was unceremoniously dumped when he had taught them all his techniques.

I have a collection of many of his Animoto short films and even his full-length feature film, The Wizard of Speed and Time. I am so thankful for the internet because you can now see many of Mike’s short films on YouTube. If you have a moment and check out this clip from the Wizard of Speed and Time. And, yes that is Mike playing the Wizard.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

What Has Happened to TV

When cable TV swept the country it was supposed to be commercial free, not it is only HBO and Showtime, C-span and the NASA channel that are commercial free.

What happened to the History Channel? We used to call it the War Channel, but now they run reality shows, though most of them are somewhat entertaining, but it’s annoying how many times they re-run the same clips in the same show. A show total after the commercial cut-aways is about 40 minutes. Take out the duplicate footage and there is probably about 15 minutes of first run content.

When was the last time you saw a music video on MTV? WTF?

I was shocked to see that ER, Trading Spaces and What Not to Wear are still in production.

Am I the only one who watches the Nightly News Hour with Jim Lehrer? I never hear anyone talking about it. This is probably the best news show on TV. And while I’m on the topic of PBS, I think it’s time to get some new Brit-Coms in the Saturday night line-up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Importance of Importance

I’ve been thinking lately about things that were important to me when I was younger as opposed to the things that are important to me now. For instance When I was younger it was important to make the most of every waking hour and today it is more important to get a good nights rest and have time to reflect on things before making rash decisions.

When I was younger it was important to bound up and down stairs three at a time. Now it is important to contemplate every step. When I was young I wanted to work on my cars, and now I work on my house. When I was young I use inappropriate tools, and now I get the best labor saving tools. When I was young I’d read every book I could get my hands on and now I write and write and write some more. When I was young I drove fast and now I pull over to let tractors pass me (only kidding). When I was young I’d buy at least five albums a week. Now I drive in silence listening for tell-tale signs that the truck is going to break down.

When I was young I was obsessed with dating and mating. Now I’m just happy if someone gives me a sincere smile.

Writing this piece reminded me of an old song by Pete Seger. I saw a documentary on him on PBS a couple weeks ago. He’s getting old and this song pretty much sums up the universal aging process.


How do I know my youth is all spent?
My get up and go has got up and went
In spite of it all, I'm able to grin
When I think of the places my get up has been

Old age is golden, I think I've heard said
But sometimes I wonder as I crawl into bed
My ears in a drawer, my teeth in a cup
My eyes on the table until I wake up

As sleep dims my vision, I say to myself
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?
But nations are warring and business is vexed
So I'll stick around to see what happens next


When I was younger, my slippers were red
I could kick up my heels right over my head
When I was older my slippers were blue
But still I could dance the whole night thru

Now I am old, my slippers are black
I huff to the store and I puff my way back
But never you laugh, I don't mind at all
I'd rather be huffing than not puff at all


I get up each morning and dust off my wits
Open the paper and read the obits
If I'm not there, I know I'm not dead
So I eat a good breakfast and go back to bed

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We're Jammin

I once lived between two absolutely awful neighbors. My neighbor to the South was an evil divorced woman who came from a family with a long history of criminal activity. For example her father paved his driveway with stolen tomb stones. She on the other hand would hook her hose up to my out door spigot and water her garden and lawn and fill her pool when ever I went away. At first I couldn’t figure out how my water bill would quadruple on months when I was away. Then I once caught her in action.

My neighbor to the North had unleashed dogs that would only shit on my lawn. These dogs loved jumping up on my car and sleeping on the hood and roof. It was like living next the Bumpas family.

The house I lived in was a duplex. I rented the up stairs to my brother. We were both radio heads. Our attic had various lengths of wire that was used as antennae that corresponded with short wave bands. We were able to listen to stations all over the world. There were a great many other things you could tune in with a good S/W radio, which I won’t go into here, but you radio heads know what I’m talking about.

One year I read about TV amplifiers. These were devices that would boost TV signals. Our town didn’t yet have cable and our television watching consisted of channels 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 13 from New York. Seven channels, and some barely viewable UHF channels.

I went to our electronics shop and ordered a TV amplifier. When I hooked it up I was able to get stations from Philadelphia, Boston, Albany and probably 20 UHF channels from every area between. Suddenly I had a choice of 50 TV stations to watch. This inspired my brother who took it up a notch and found an antenna amplifier that had some wild power above and beyond the unit I had. His not only pulled in a stronger signal, but it also seemed to broadcast as well. When he switched his amplifier on, the TVs in the houses right next to ours went to what looked like a scrambled image like the photo above and the speakers emitted a bold electrical hum. No TV channel could be seen or heard. It was like a jamming station. Being hooked to the same antenna my signal was a clear as a bell. I could now see TV from Washington DC.

I remember one neighbor coming over to see if my Apple II was putting out some weird interference. I turned off my computer and went to his house, and it wasn’t that. I knew full well what the problem was.

I did get my brother a device like I had that didn’t interfere, but he still kept the old one for spite. If either neighbor was a prick, they didn’t get to see the last 15 minutes of their favorite TV shows that evening, or maybe for that week if they were especially evil.

Oddly neither neighbor ever asked me if I was having trouble with TV signals. They blamed the interference on a local industry.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I got home late in the evening on Monday and found the message light blinking on our answering machine. Most of the time, I’d rather get a message than a live call. This gives me time to contemplate a reply. I have often fallen for someone’s passions when I didn’t have time to think about the consequences. Like, “hey, wanna come to a party? It’ll be great!” After I agree and when I hang up is when I normally come to my senses.

Anyway, the call on my machine would have been a joy to take live. A dear, dear friend had far too many Mt Hood strawberries on her hands and needed to part with an entire flat before the fruit went flat themselves. I called her back immediately and made arrangements to come down to pick them up right away.

These berries are so tasty and are nothing at all like the strawberries that are strip mined in California. We tend to get used to those big and beautiful yet tasteless California berries, but when a real strawberry comes to the tongue we realize that this is a remarkable fruit and it is something that reminds the joys of being alive every summer.

Anyway, thanks to my dear, anonymous friend for bringing the joy of summer to our taste buds. Thanks also for staying up late and entertaining us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


There was a man who lived next to the Grammar School I attended as a child. He always had an odd look on his face that was similar to a constant grimace. Using an old wives tale and a warning to children that many adults used to instill fear, some of the teachers and several mothers told us that he was making faces at someone and his face froze in that expression. I don’t know if modern adults still use that line on their kids, “Be careful or you face may freeze like that forever.” Something tells me that any exaggeration can and will involve the State who will take children away at the slightest infraction of the truth.

Faces can be things of wonder. Though there are two types of people I am always cautious around; those who smile all the time and those who never smile. Either a constant expression or lack there of is telling. I often wonder why some people smile all the time. Are they enlightened? Are they religious nuts? Are they crazy? Are they naturally happy? Did they smile once and their face froze in that expression just like we were warned it would if we made a face at someone?

Equally strange are those who never smile. There was one man in the Adirondacks who was legendary for never smiling. The joke about him was when someone would say, “I actually saw old man Johnson smile ones; a mosquito was biting him at the time.” Sometimes the joke went, “I saw old man Johnson smile once; a cat just got hit by a car.”

Every one of us knows someone who never smiles. We wonder if the person is disagreeable or there is absolutely no joy in their lives that would warrant a smile. We may wonder if they are shy or insecure feeling that a smile would let out too much personal emotion and make them appear vulnerable. Every case is different, but there is one thing that is a major joy and that is when you can bring a smile to the face of someone that never smiles. This, when it can be achieved, is a golden moment. I’ve cracked a few in my life, but never Old Man Johnson. He was hard core.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ganga for Lori

Lori was saddened that my mention of the Ganga in a post earlier this week wasn’t a story about pot. Well this one is for you Lori:

It was 1968 when I became of age in the use of marijuana. Rumors were rampant among my parents generation that even looking at marijuana leaves would lead to chromosome damage and that our children would be mutants. It would have been a better deterrent had they said that smoking pot would lead to becoming golfers or politicians. As children ourselves we could hardly consider or envision the day when we would actually want children of our own.

I started smoking pot with a girl named Donna when I was in the 7th grade. You have to remember that pot back then was nothing in comparison with the resinous stuff that is used today. The stuff we had looked like seeds and stems with some oregano mixed in. A person would have to smoke several joints to feel the effects that one would feel with two hits of today’s herb. An ounce sold for $20 back then. I have no idea what it goes for now. I haven’t purchased any in last 30 years, and I haven’t had any since New Years Eve, 2003.

I was a very casual user when I was in my teens, though every once in a while my mother will bring up Donna’s name and address here as Donna, that girl who got you hooked on drugs. I was never hooked I explain to her, but she will insist that I was hooked. Donna and I never did a lot of smoking. We weren’t real stoners, just classmates who occasionally smoked pot together when we could get it.

Donna eventually went to college got a degree and became a Registered Nurse. She married a nice guy and they had a baby who was unfortunately born with Downs Syndrome. So fixed in my mother’s mind is that this condition was caused by the chromosome damage from smoking pot. I no longer argue the point with my mother. At her age I feel she deserves to always be right in her assumptions. I just tell her in a passive aggressive way that it was a good thing I never had children of my own since Donna and I had taken up the herb a mutual amount of times. Oddly as a grand mother she will never agree with me on that statement. She would have liked to see me have some kids.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


I spent a day working with a professional timber faller last week. This faller has been working in the woods for the last 20 years and was very good at reading trees. He could instantly size up a tree and know where it wanted to go and how far he could force the tree to fall in a different direction. He could spot a diseased tree by subtle hints that amateurs just don’t see.

Being an amateur, I was somewhat comforted that my self taught techniques were same techniques he used to test tree tension and to get the hell out of the way when movement started. I was impressed with his safety measures as well. In the woods you don’t get to become an old logger if safety isn’t your first thought before cutting into a tree. I have been so lucky that my skull hasn’t ever been pierced by a widow maker or that I hadn’t sliced off my leg.

The greatest thing I learn when ever I work with a timber faller is how much they respect the forests. Many people I’ve talked with over the years regard loggers as wilderness rapists. Some timber companies in the past were opportunists, but it seems that the lumber industry has come to realize that their future depends on the maintenance of a healthy forest environment. They now seem to make better decisions in regards to cutting, replanting and maintaining the forests.

(By the way in the event you were wondering the History Channel series, Ax Men was filmed around here. Some of it real close to where I live.)

It is just great to spend the day working with a rough and grizzly person with a 40 inch chain bar who is careful not to trample a seedling.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I had a speaking engagement in Cowlitz County on Thursday and I figured I’d return home on Washington Route 4 instead of Oregon Hwy 30. Highway 4 is a bit more scenic and goes through or side skirts a few cute little towns. It was a longer trip, but somewhat nicer.

Though the sun had set a beautiful cloudless blue evening sky was visible. Somewhere west of Puget Island is started raining, or so it seemed. I looked up and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so I turned on my wipers and got a major smear. I realized it wasn’t raining at all but rather my windshield was the death spot for thousands of insects. Every time I drove by a swampy area it would happen again.

Windshield washers can only go so far and I’ll have to take a razor to the windshield today to get it clean again. I haven’t seen that many bugs on a windshield since some of my Canadian excursions when I was in my 20s.

Folks who live in these areas must be driven crazy from all these bugs. It reminds me of just how bug free it is where I live. I am thankful for that.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Turning On Jesus

I am one that can only take just so much foolishness. Sure I do enjoy some, but when it gets to a certain point I can’t hold back. My wife knows this about me and she will often take a bullet for me like she did yesterday.

I’ve written some articles on integrated pest management for agriculture that get published or cited or get me speaking engagements and people like to contact me to comment from time to time. Lately I’ve been contacted by extremely religious people from the South East. The one yesterday from Georgia told my wife that the Lord spoke to him and gave him instructions to look me up on the Internet and call me. At this point she felt it best not to hand the phone over to me.

It seems that Jesus told him a solution for the whole IPM problem in agriculture, and he was supposed to call me and tell me what the Lord said and that I would be able cure all the ills of farming on the planet.

My wife asked if he could tell her and she could tell me. He asked if Jesus was her personal savior. When she said that he wasn’t her savior the man said that Jesus only wants believers to hear his words. My wife informed him that I am an Atheist and that I would probably be less receptive to any Lordly suggestions than she. At this point the man wondered openly why Jesus would have told him to call me, of all people.

My wife suggested that maybe he could find someone in Agriculture at the University of Georgia to speak with. She handled this call much more tactfully than I would have.

I would have asked if you have the voice of Jesus in your head why it’s OK, but if you have any other voice in your head you are crazy. Seriously folks if Jesus is speaking to you and telling you need to do things you probably need some Lithium. Though it seems like it’s real and though you want it to be real, it simply isn’t. You are being swept up in the spirit that false prophets use to get you to donate money to them. They make it seem so possible and logical. I know you have good intentions, but please if you aren’t going to go on medication for this malady, please at least try to keep your revelations to yourself.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Yesterdays post made me think of something odd. Here in Oregon we have so much water but it’s rare you ever see anyone enjoying it. Sure people go to the beach, but relatively few. We rode our horses on the beach the couple miles from the Peter Iredale to the DeLaura Beach access two Sundays ago. We passed only three cars parked on the sand and we had only four cars drive past us. (Yes, you can drive on the beaches here in case you were wondering.) It was a beautiful day yet very few people and probably the same amount of people you’d see on that same stretch of beach on a rainy day. Other than Haystack Rock and the Prom our beaches are for the most part under used.

If you look out at Youngs Bay you will rarely ever see a sail boarder or a Jet Skiier. I’ve seen one group of kayakers this year. When you look at the Columbia River, you rarely ever see a pleasure boat such as a yacht or a sail boat. You will see people going out fishing and commercial crafts, but rarely will you see pleasure boats. If this were the Hudson River you would be able to walk across the river from boat to boat.

Is it that we have too many potential water recreation spots? Is it that our water and climate are too cold? Is it that we are too busy to take the time to share our time with the water?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

American Ganga

I’ve been thinking about water in the way of rivers, lakes and ocean beaches. My post from two days ago about going to the lake every summer reminded me that not everyone went to their lakes for the summer. Some people did just fine visiting their local lakes, ponds or pools. While growing up our family was a member of a local Country Club.

No we weren’t rich or snooty. The Country Club membership was part of the benefits package where my father worked. All employees received this benefit no matter if you were the CEO or the lowest paid part-time employee inn the guard shack. Imagine employment with benefits. This was an age where companies treated their employees like family and usually got the same feelings in return.

Eventually this Country Club was sold to the County and became a County Park. It was and probably still is a wonderful park. It had two large sand bottom lakes for swimming and a large lake between for fishing and boating. There where tennis, handball and basketball courts and probably a hundred picnic spaces in different parts of the woods.

Having gone there since a child I still went there after it became a County Park without much thought other than the fact I now had to pay a fee to get in. One hot summer day I found myself in a traffic jam back on the old country road that serviced this park. I figured there must have been a wreck because this road never saw that much traffic.

As I inched ahead I saw what the problem was; the park had been discovered. There were thousands of people visible at the lake and all the cars were in line to go into the park. It looked like the Ganga. I could no longer imagine swimming in lakes where there were potentially so many that could be pissing in the water at once.

When I was near the entrance to the park I continued down the road to one of my favorite little known spots on the Ramapo River where I knew no one would be. There I could swim in peace.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Say Cheese

I remember my mother saying that she always tensed up when anyone brought out a camera and it is nearly always showed in her portraiture. She never translated well from 3 to 2 dimension, but every once in a while there would be a golden photograph of her.

On the other hand I have a sister-in-law who has never had a bad photo taken of her. Though most photos show the same expression, it looks good every time.

I think I suffer the same affliction as my mother. There is only one photograph of me that I find acceptable. It’s the only one I ever use in my bio and it’s getting old, fast. I think I just need to have someone take a hundred or so photos and hopefully there will be one shot that I’ll even like a little.

I wonder if I don’t like my photographs because of projection or I simply don’t look as good as I think I look and my photos are a constant disappointment of the reality of this fact. Maybe I’m cosmetically challenged.

Either way, I need to do something about it. I know that since I have no children of my own, it isn’t important as an item to be handed down to future generations. A photograph of me will have no significance in the future, but for the moment it would be nice to have a reasonable likeness where one can say, “He doesn’t look so bad.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Summer Vacations

Every year around this time I find a void in my life that has been there for about the last twenty years. The void is from the lack of preparation for summer vacation.

When I was a lad I always knew that sometime soon we would be heading up to the lake in Canada. I would have all the stuff I would needed for the trip cleaned and ready. I would use my kid money to buy extra supplies like hooks, line and sinkers. Then there was the countdown. My entire life revolved around this annual event.

Sometimes we would go up in May, and again in July and again in August. Some years we would only go up for one week. Regardless of when or how often we traveled up there, I always knew we were going.

Even after my father could no longer make the trip due to health problems I made several trips to the lake on my own.

When I was in my 20s I was introduced to another lake in the Adirondacks. This lake was five hours closer than the Canadian lake. I would stay at this lake several times a year. It was always a given that a lake was always in my future every summer.

When I moved out here the tradition ended. Trips here were always more spontaneous. There was little planning. “Hey the weather looks good, let’s go!”

Though my step children are much better traveled that I was at their ages, I feel they may have been deprived of this ritual. There was always a spontaneous, “Lets pack up the skis!” “Pack your bags, we are going to visit your grandfather down on the South Coast!” But there was never the lore of planned in advance Summer vacation. Instead they got to go to Europe, Las Vegas, Alaska, Hollywood and other places. They just took trips instead of building memories through the stability of traditions of family vacations. It’s kind of sad.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Language Purge

Every few years the French Government gets together and purges their language of foreign (non French) terms. They create an equivalent word in French and then remove the foreign word from the vernacular.

I think it is time we adopt a similar policy and here are some examples that I would like to see disappear from the English language:

We have to stop saying “Even Though.” The word “Though” is more than sufficient.

We have to stop using the word “Irregardless.” It is not a word, but I hear it more than I care to hear it. Worse yet I hear it from people who do a lot of public speaking. “Regardless” is all that need be said.

“Meteoric Rise” will have to go as well. Meteors fall, they do not rise.

If we speak and have speakers, why is it spelled “Speech?” It should be “Speach”, or change the others to “Speek” ans “Speekers”

I think it is quaint to say, You all” or “Y’all”, but really is should be “All of you.” And you East Coaster with the “Youz-Guys.” I always wanted to stab my ears with ice picks every time I heard that one.

“Cookies” need to become “Bakies” because you bake them, not cook them. “Buildings” need to be called “Builts.”

Any others?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It’s OK Being Green

Auntie commented the other day about my new suspenders being green. She had me pegged for someone who would wear red. How wrong could she possibly be? On one hand I may be a “Read me, read me!” type, but I am not a “Look at me, look at me!” type.

Green appeals to me. Green is the natural color around here. I remember what a chore it was to keep the white trim on my house, white. One day I decided to paint it all green because nature was trying to turn it that color any way. Why fight it?

Though I no longer have a pair of dark green trousers, I do feel the pull to get another few pairs. I have green flannel shirts (and a few red but I don’t really like them other than for the Mackinaw look every now and then.) I recently had to retire my favorite pair of green underwear.

Green just blends in with the environment better around here. Green is soothing. Green doesn’t stand out. I don’t like to stand out.

There are some ugly tones of green which I avoid, but I am drawn to a dark forest green. I don’t really like all the marketing that is done around the color green and the environmental green thing. Though the color green is associated with cash, can’t we just drop using “Green” as the pretentious marketing tool? I mean the crap that is sold under the guise of being an “Environmentally Friendly Green Product” just turns my stomach.

So Auntie, my suspenders are green, and they don’t have any slogans on them. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Legacy

I was having an e-mail chat with one of the readers here and he shared a slogan button with me and a great inappropriate place to wear the said button. I replied that this button would need an explanation if it were ever found after his demise.

That got me thinking about what I should get rid of before I die. Think of it, one day you will die and someone will be responsible for going through all your stuff. So just what do you do with the salacious correspondence that Grandma saved from the 40s when she tried to keep up the morale of her man who was fighting in the war? The woman who read you stories and baked pies... She wanted to do what when he returned home? What happens to Grand-Pa’s stash of porno that he left in the shed? What if they had some toys? They may have been gag gifts that they too embarrassed to throw away. Maybe they haven't seen or used these things for 30 years and forgotten about them, but they are still their artifacts after they die.

I don’t have any bongs or drugs or pornography. I may have some books that might cause concern and lead people to think I was some sort of an anarchist wacko. I have some old fiction and articles that I wrote that I should get rid of simply because they are archaic with concepts I no longer embrace.

So imagine your entire life of making a name for your self and becoming a respected member of the community coming to an abrupt end when someone finds out one of your secrets after you die. Anyone remember J Edgar Hoover? How about Nelson Rockefeller? Nuff said?

So a public service reminder to all of the readers here… What do you need to get rid of before it is found without an explanation?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Lack of Suspence is Killing Me

I couldn’t stand it any longer. Yes, I’m a slow learner. It took me seventeen or so years to realize just how good and convenient Wellington boots are. I finally took another step towards clothing comfort. I finally got a pair of suspenders.

It was a combination of again realizing that I have no ass (See my article from 2006) to hold my pants up, and the fact that I spend entirely too much time hoisting my pants back up while I’m working.

It is such a pain to be working on something over your head and feel the tell-tale signal that your pants are going down. Drop everything, hike them up and begin again. It’s a pain to be clearing a trail with a tool belt with an extra chain and some wedges and a hammer. With a chainsaw in one hand and gas and oil containers in the other hand and pants wet from wicking the moisture off the salal as you pass. Pants drift downward with every step. You have to stop and drop everything, hike them up and begin again.

I didn’t go totally crazy by refitting my wardrobe with all new trousers with riveted in suspender buttons; though I am told that is the best way to go. I just got the clip-ons, which is probably frowned upon the way clip-on neck ties are frowned upon by those who know how to tie a Windsor knot.

The suspenders I bought are a twelve-dollar quick fix, though I may migrate over to professional suspenders one day. In the event you were wondering, they are green.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


After a long winter one tends to forget there are such things as mosquitoes. I have never had a mosquito problem at my house, but I went to DeLaura Beach on Sunday. We no sooner had the horses out of the trailer and we were covered. It was better once we got moving on the trail through the woods, but stop just for a moment and they caught up and swarmed you again.

Here is an article that I wrote for North Coast Oregon back in February:

For years nervous horse owners have kept an ear to the rail waiting for the seemingly inevitable storm that was coming our way. We watched reports of West Nile infected mosquitoes coming over the Rocky Mountains and moving west. We watch as the first cases showed up in California, moving north. When the first cases were reported in Eastern Oregon and Washington we knew it wouldn’t be long.

Late last summer the first case of West Nile Virus was reported in Clatsop County. A dead crow turned up in the yard of Patrick Morrison in Gearhart. Hal Nauman of the State Health Department confirmed the arrival of West Nile Virus in Clatsop County. Many diseases are spread to humans and animals by mosquitoes throughout the world: Chikungunva, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Japanese Encephalitis, La Crosse Encephalitis, West Nile Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, Yellow Fever, Dengue, and Malaria.

West Nile Virus, like the case found in Gearhart can infect humans. There is a vaccine that is used for horses, but there are no approved vaccines for humans. This virus can have three different effects on humans. The first is an asymptomatic infection; the second is a mild fever termed West Nile Fever. The third is a neuron-invasive disease termed West Nile meningitis or encephalitis. My father became a paraplegic due to complications of what was diagnosed as meningitis and encephalitis at the time. We have only recently realized that it was more than likely West Nile Virus.

There is now the possibility that people here in Clatsop County may one day contract this disease that is spread by mosquitoes. I wonder if it is now time for Clatsop County to get involved in Vector Control for public safety.
At home, people are asked to make sure to eliminate any standing water on their property or use biological agent BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) dunks which are small round biscuits that one may purchase in garden stores. Dunks can go in small ponds, and bird baths. They are toxic only to a few insects but especially mosquito larva.
There are several counties in Oregon that already have Vector Control districts or agencies. Their task involves education and the spraying a biological agent into lakes, streams, ponds and swamps. Vector diseases can easily become an epidemic and it will be well worth the cost instead of paying for the on-going consequences if these diseases ever take a firm foot-hold in our county.

Just to demonstrate how important an issue this is to the rest of Oregon, here is a list of the twenty Vector districts around the state.

Baker – Baker Valley Vector control
Clackamas – Clackamas County Vector Control
Columbia – Columbia Drainage Vector Control District
Crook – Crook County Vector Control District
Deschutes – Four Rivers Vector Control
Jackson – Jackson County Vector Control
Jefferson – Jefferson Env. Health
Klamath – Bly Vector Control District
Klamath Falls – Chiloquin Vector Control District
Lane – Lane County Env. Health
Malheur – Malheur Env. Health
Marion – Marion County Env. Health
Morrow – North Morrow Vector Control
Multnomah – Multnomah County Vector Control
Umatilla – West Umatilla Vector Control District
Union – Union County Vector Control District
Wasco – Wasco County Weed Depart.
Washington – City of Beaverton – Washington County Vector Control

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I Miss Country Music

It was time to put in a different CD in the player in my truck. I think I got over my Marilyn Manson phase, especially after Marilyn blew one of my speakers. Lately I’ve been driving and flipping between Au Revoir Simone and Zappa’s classic, “Cruising with Rubin and The Jets.”

I dusted off a CD cover I found under the seat of a CD I reviewed very positively last year, Miranda Lambert’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. It played for a moment and I was placed back to what I was doing last July when I couldn’t remove this CD from my player. It was haying and Rodeo season. I was consumed with her music, but by mid August I’d found another musical love.

While listening to Miranda again, my only criticism came to mind again and that is how loud and rock-like Country music has become. I thought back to the early 70s when Country music was starting to change. Back then it was only important to have nice tune with some heart-felt or catchy lyrics. A good Country song didn’t have guitar solos, though it may have had some interesting licks, but they never over-powered the song.

My mind was immediately taken back to a 1972 album by Bobby Bare. It was called Lullabies, Legends and Lies. It was a double album of songs that were written by Shel Silverstein. To say the least, it was a most remarkable collection that confirmed that Shel may have possibly been one of the top ten lyricists on the 20th Century.

There were songs that covered vast landscapes of rural life and life on the road. Probably my favorite was an eight minute song called Rosalie’s Good Eats Café. Originally this song came from a poem that Silverstein published in Playboy. It is a long poem of which the song uses less than half of the lyrics.

Yeah, I know I’m going to get some shit from some of you after all I’ve written about my dislike for poetry, but this is really good stuff and not that shitty Fisher Poet crap.

If you have some time check out the link, and a funny note for all you Lesbian readers, the poem is hosted on

Rosalie's Good Eats Cafe

Anyway, through Bobby Bare, Silverstein’s songs became a touchstone of Country music for me. Silverstein’s raspy voice was never meant for main-stream acceptance or air-play for that matter. We who appreciate the old time Country sound are fortunate the two of them worked so well together.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Burning Up The Minutes

I’ve got a home phone and my wife and I each have a cell phone. Even with all the opportunity I have to call people I rarely ever do. I have three numbers in my cell phone history and they are the only numbers I ever call.

Even when I was in my teens I never used the phone all that much. I had some daily contacts, but nothing that was too over board.

I was out at Fred Meyer the other evening. I usually go there on the same evening every week, and I see that there are regulars there every week. There is one woman I see there nearly every week and she spends every moment on the phone while she is shopping. After finishing there I saw her in Costco, again on the phone. Eventually I saw her in the car behind me waiting at the traffic light, still on the phone.

The entire excursion lasted about an hour and each time I saw her she was on the phone as she was the week before that and the week before that. What could possibly be so important that one is in constant communication? Maybe it’s insecurity. Maybe if she keeps voices in her ear they will drown out the voices in her head. Who knows?

We have an inexpensive cell plan. It’s an old plan where we have two phones and we share 100 minutes a month for, get this $35 per month. I think there was only one month where we even came close to using our 100 minutes. Maybe I’m not a communicator.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Subscribed Out

I once knew an old John Birch’er who said his approach to a desert was similar to Communism. He would take small slices so no one would notice, but eventually consumed it all. It makes me wonder how often we are sliced to death by the things we subscribe to.

Mo3 recently commented telling me she would one day convince me to subscribe to XM radio. I used to have it with my Dish service, but never used it. As a stand alone she said the cost is $13 per month (which is $156 per year.)

So consider the other things we subscribe to on a monthly basis:
Daily Astorian (EZ pay) $9 per month which comes to $108 per year.
Most Internet Services $30 per month which comes to $360 per year.
Most people subscribe to two magazines which comes to around $40 per year.
The new GPS tracking device $5 per month which is $60 per year.
Cell phones I’d guess are $35 per month which come to $420 per year.
Triple A is $121 per year.
Costco Membership $45 per year.
XM $13 per month which is $156 per year.
Public radio or TV membership $40 per year.
Onstar $37 per month in $444

I’m sure I’m missing some like gyms and spas, Netflix, Credit Checks and Fraud Services but with just this list one could easily spend $1,794 on subscriptions and membership services.

So, no, I don’t plan to take on any new comers.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Not a Good Look

I know, it’s Saturday, but I don’t want to save this for a sick day because believe it or now I always hope the each time I do a sick day post I always hope it will be the last. I’m tired of getting sick over stuff.

With this said I have to vent about one thing, and that is people who wear their hair up like Pebbles Flintstone or people who always wear their hair in a tight pony tail. Trust me folks, this isn’t a good look. It’s OK if you have to keep control of your tresses on occasion, but tying that mess up every day is pointless. Why not just get a comfortable hair cut where your hair looks good and doesn’t constantly get in your way.

As someone who had several stints with long hair, if you have to tie it back every day you have a problem not only with functionality but with looks as well. Hack it the hell off.

Friday, June 06, 2008


There is a certain feeling of pride when you do something that is really excellent or better than excellent. Sometimes it can come from something as simple as doing a good job of mowing the lawn. I know there are times when I’ve built something or written something that I can look back on as being excellent. There are a lot of not so excellent things in our lives so it becomes extra special when you really nail something. Its excellence can be enhanced when it draws admiration from others.

Sometimes we do things that seem to become more and more excellent as time goes by. I have students of some of my classes or people who were in the audience of talks that I’ve given who still contact me to keep me posted on their progress or ask for continued advice. At times I feel like a farmer who plants a crop in the brown dirt and suddenly one day the brown dirt seems to turn be cover with green growth. There is pride when you see your thoughts and actions turn into something much more.

My classes and talks usually have fewer than a hundred people in attendance. The last time I checked this blog had about 80 readers a day. So I do get my ideas out there, however it is only occasional where I feel like a particular article is excellent. I actually feel better about articles I write after they’ve been in the archives for a while.

I write this piece today because I heard an excellent song on the radio today. This song has been around for more than thirty years and has been heard by billions of people. I wondered what it must feel like to have one of your works get that much attention and have that much longevity. It must go beyond personal satisfaction especially when there are financial rewards associated with what you’ve done that makes one more independent and able to try for that sort of success again and again.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sick of Politics?

Someone who replied to my Sick Day post the other day said they were sick of politics. I am, too. Recently I’ve been standing back and catching my political breath. When one relaxes and steps back it becomes more obvious that politics is cyclical and it swings like a pendulum. It swings from Progressive to Conservative and back again. It’s always been this way in our country.

Compare the Presidential political parties since 1901:

President # 26&27-Rep, 28&29-Dem, 30&31-R, 32&33 D, 34 R, 35&36 D, 37&38 R, 39 D, 40&41 R, 42 D, 43-R.

Another strange thing about politics is how favorable history becomes to those who were disgraced or disliked while they held the office. In spite all their faults while in office, history has become very kind to Johnson, Carter, Nixon, Ford and Clinton.

Yes, I’m sick of politics as well. Elections and recalls happen. Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. If it doesn’t go in your favor, give it four or eight years and things will most often return to your favor again.

There are good and bad consequences associated with every issue and every decision that is made. A level political head can see it both ways and roll with what comes. Passions will rise when issues and decisions push upon peoples’ livelihoods and/or deeply held beliefs.

There is always hope in the air that one day everything will line up and all things political will go the way of out personal politics. But realize if it ever does go that way, the pendulum will always swing back in the other direction again.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Warning, don’t be shocked, but I went to a party last weekend. OK, it was a small party of ten people. I guess I have a reputation because when ever I do show up at a party, everyone gasps and says, “I can’t believe you actually came!” Lori Hahn even called me a “near-misanthrope” on her blog the other day. Too funny, but I’ll have everyone know that I have gone to all but one party that I’ve been invited to in the last year. I wanted to go, but the damn thing started at 9pm (close to my bed time) and it was going to have loud music.

There was a lot of good conversation and story telling going on. Even stranger, someone there actually uttered the word/phrase, “Fiddle-dee-dee!” and brought a room full of conversation to a halt. “WTF was that?” we all asked collectively.

As with all parties there comes a point when it is time to leave. I am usually the first to leave and I lived up to my reputation. Parties are often over when the food runs out or when someone there makes such a fool of them selves that leaving is the kindest thing one can do to preserve their memory of the foolish person before the stupid action imprints itself permanently in your mind. My favorite party ending event is when the host starts talking about bringing out a game. This is my cue to say, “Thanks, but I need to get home and take care of some animals.”

I’m not big on games, probably because I spell “Tieam” with an “I”. Probably because I humiliate myself enough on my own without the added weight of a game to make me look like a total dork above and beyond the standard I’ve already set for myself.

What can I say? Maybe I can sum it all up with the word/phrase, “Fiddle-dee-dee!”

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Repair Shop

In my home town there was an old Russian guy who had radio and TV repair shop across the driveway from the house where he lived. His house was right on the Route 202, a busy narrow road in the industrial district. It was busy like our own Route 202 in Astoria.

His home was on an outside curve so he could never see traffic while backing out of his driveway. He never even made an attempt to check for traffic. He would just back out of his driveway without looking and oddly no one ever hit his car.

I was friends with his grand son so I had the occasional reason to visit his shop. It was really geeky for the time with radio parts, vacuum tube testers, oscilloscopes and radios and TVs he was working on or had for sale.

The old Russian was a smoker. He had a talent of never flicking off his ashes from his cigarettes. They would grow and grow and sometimes stay on until it was time to extinguish the cigarette. His steady hands and slow movements probably made him a good electronics repair person, like a brain surgeon for circuitry.

This old Russian comes to mind because I recently heard a Russian pronounce the letter V as a W. You know how they call “Vodka” ” Wodka.” I remember being in the shop when people would bring him radios to fix. They would state their problems they were having and he always had a question them. Every time someone faced him at the counter he would take a long drag on his eternal cigarette with the two inch long ash and ask “How’s the Wolume, Sonny?”

Sometimes there was no volume, sometimes there was buzzing and sometimes the volume was soft or loud. These were all hints to the Russian. I now liken it to going to a doctor with a twisted ankle and the first thing they do is check your blood pressure and listen to your heart. To the old Russian, the volume or “Wolume” was the heart beat of all things electronic. It told him how involved his surgery would be.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sick Day XXI

I am sick of show tunes on KMUN. Does anyone actually think any of them are any good? The singers are raspy, and usually off key. The songs are rarely ever any good. They may be musically interesting, but the lyrics are corny. I know people used to listen to Elliot Naar for lack of any better entertainment back in the day, but seriously how can this tradition still be going on?

I’m sick of concrete sections of freeways. There is a section up by Tacoma where my truck was bouncing like one of those cars that are all tricked out with hydraulics. Come on WDOT, pave it. I’m sick of Interstate 5 in Washington and Oregon.

I’m sick of all the wind at my house now that the trees are all gone. I’m sick of stumps. I’m sick of having a project list that is so long that it will take years and tens of thousands of dollars to finish.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

What They Say and What I See

Sometimes I jot down an idea for a post, and fortunately (or unfortunately) I look up what I was going to write about and find my points are totally invalid.

I was going to do a piece on towns that have proclamations signs at their entry points, such as All American City. When I see those signs I think, “How xenophobic! Do you need to be related to a Daughter of the Revolution in order to live here? “ In fact it is an award to a town for civic involvement. It just sounds stupid.

I’ve also driven through some Crime Stopper Counties. I wondered if they were certified by McGruff the Crime Dog. Do they really think that posting that sign on the Freeway is going to have any effect on criminal activity in their community? What it tells me is that the community has a perceived crime problem and that I’d rather not be a part of it until they get their problem under control.

I don’t feel all that positive toward Police Outreach Programs such as Crime Stoppers and DARE. I think they are the equivalent of having a magnetic support ribbon on your car or a Lance Armstrong bracelet. I mean BFD! If you want results, pay the police directly and stop wasting money of feel-good signs. If you want to pursue real crime, then stop wasting time pulling people over for seatbelt violations.