Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review: November and December

November: I still don’t get face book and I haven’t purchased snot glue. I gave up my dial-up internet account, actually I still have it through January, but I will change over to my new addresses by then. I’m still amazed where the readers here end up. My truck has added a few more items to the problem list, like the blinkers shutting themselves off after blinking two or three times. I haven’t been listening to any new music to share with you. Bacon follows me every where I go, especially here where bacon seems to be the new theme.

December: What’s up with all this snow? Last year we had the wind storms that closed our entire region and this year it is snow. This is Astoria Oregon . Snow is only supposed to last a day or two. Just when it nearly all melted off yesterday I wake up to another two inches and it’s still snowing out there (Dec 25). My eye is fortunately much better, almost as clear sighted as it was before, though still seeing several shades darker. I will have a follow-up appointment in January. My loss of respect has now blossomed to one of the persons’ cohorts as well. The behavior of pious Christian men makes me sick. Though I’ve complained to the FTC and the Oregon attorney general, I am still getting solicitation calls from that same company. People that still don’t understand that I am not a Christmas person continue to ask about what sort of Christmas dinner we are planning. I’m making a home made pizza.

Please visit the blog tomorrow of the annual tradition; the 2009 Death Pool.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year in Review: September and October

September: Though nothing else has been stolen from me I am cautious in avoiding the person that stole the pen from my truck. I’ve lost respect for her, as I hav lost respect for others more recently. I still have occasional writers block but it seems I save myself in the nick of time, like wrapping up last years blog posts bought me six days of posting. I only anticipate things on a small scale. Nothing big; maybe getting a new roof on my shop this year. Maybe building some furniture. I’ve also decided to correct people that call Mexicans illegal immigrants or illegal aliens. I want them to be called Mexican expatriates. I am looking forward to a more stable family economy. I’m looking forward to the first camp fire of the new year.

October: Though I can’t really detect it, the calendar tells me the days are growing longer. My resting time will draw to a close. My the advice for the Mikes, both stall mat sellers, I went to Les Schwab where I was able to order the ½ inch mat to replace the one that slid out of my horse trailer never to be seen again. It was a $45 loss. My new mat is screwed to the floor. I’ve been finding some remarkable photos and videos on the web that relate to my childhood. More to follow. Now that I’ve been buying a couple of bales of hay at a time I’ve been able to park in my garage again. I like it so much that I’m considering building a hay barn. Oh and there is a charity that is unashamedly worse than United Way. Christians Children Fund takes 20% of your contribution for expenses . United Way takes 14%. They both suck.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Year in Review: July and August

June 2008: The 100 bales I bought lasted exactly 100 days. I was hoping to have nearly a years supply having gotten used to 80 pound bales of eastern orchard grass. The Jewell hay is in smaller, lighter bales, which is fine by me. It’s actually nice knowing when you will run out of hay by counting the remaining bales in storage. I returned for another 50 bales and I’ve been wanting to go up to get another 50 or 100 bales to get me closer to the next hay season, but the climate in Jewell right now isn’t very inviting for driving. So right now I’m back on$19 bales of eastern orchard grass. I need to check in with Mel to see if she has any projects in the works. I’m down to nine chickens, and don’t plan on slaughtering any of them. I think my sock supply is good.

August: I’ve recently taken more time for leisure. It’s not that I planed it; I’m just becoming lazier and I’m OK with that. The hens are still laying on average five eggs a day. I have successfully kept the horses contained and their fences in good repair. The discussion of the wrong side of the tracks keeps coming up in conversations I’ve been having. I still haven’t rebuilt my manure shed, but it is high on my list of things to do. I am discovering that in homes where there are two male children, the younger child is usually troubled. I am looking forward to the County Fair.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Year in Review: May and June

May 2008: Though I’ve done my best to drain tanks and use stabilizers I fear that all of my motorized equipment is rotting because of ethanol in our gasoline supply. I wish I could convert all my equipment to propane. I spent a lot of time on the road last year. Though I probably will not turn down speaking engagements, I am hopeful there will be fewer this year.

June 2008: I still have yet to get my favorite duck sauce. I wrote about my strawberry princess who gave us some a flat of strawbs. This year we will be able to afford to buy them. Thank you for your kindness. I have been successful in avoiding having my photograph taken. I still wear suspenders and I grow more and more sick of politics.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Year in Review: March and April

March 2008 found me disillusioned with the news industry. I’ve greatly curtailed my news watching. I’ve canceled my subscription the Daily Astorian. I find the best news reporting is on The Daily Show and on Keith Oberman’s Countdown and Rachael Madow. Yes I know they are left leaning sources, but at least they are humorous accounts of what is going on rather than the gloss the networks put on stories.The bed of my truck is a compost heap of hay and there is grass sprouting back there. It’s a mobile turf farm. I find myself thinking of Canada more and more every day.

April 2008: Though I wrote about monocles I have yet to need one. Came pretty close though. I had two bumble bee hives this year. One was eaten by raccoons and the other obviously didn’t like the location I provided and they left. The roll call of readers remained about the same. I’ve gained some and lost one after April 24th. Also my knees still hurt from the fall I had back then, but I have started taking MSM and it seems to be helping, somewhat. We kissed a bunch of frogs. I spent a lot of time returning horses we got on a trial basis, but we kept a Tennessee Walker Pinto from Seattle. I haven’t been in the media much this year, but my Google Alert keeps popping up with old articles and interviews that I’ve done in the past.

Tomorrow I’ll cover May and June.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Year in Review: January and February

I figured this would be a good week to wrap up the year and give you some updates to things I’ve written over the last year.

In January we were still getting over the December storm. Though the blow-down was all carted off and sold, I am still cutting stumps and burning debris. The funny thing was that we decided to cut all the trees around the house because with most of the tree already blown down any wind could have brought the other trees down on the house. We did leave one tree figuring it was young and supple and would never blow down in our lifetime. Well we had a wind storm a couple weeks ago and you guessed it, the damn thing blew down and it would have taken out our laundry room had the tree been any larger.

In February I wrote about meeting Matt Stansberry, a blogger that I admire because he goes out fishing all the time. I report sadly that I never went fishing with him this year. Fuel prices were high during the summer, and I never made the trip to his place, plus he was busy getting married and starting a family and nursing a sick pet. Maybe in 2009.

Next, I never did any further exploration of crafting with tampons. I started writing opinion pieces for NCO, but soon got sick of my own opinions. I also wrote here about my change of opinion on the whole LNG issue and as I saw events and the politics of the anti LNG faction I can honestly say that I am more in favor of it now than I was a year ago. Remember, in January 2008 I was against it, in February I changed my mind with reservation and now I am totally for it.

March and April updates tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


I have several weaknesses, one of which is cookies. I love the damn things. Most guys love beer, or sports, but I have passion for cookies. I do not appreciate it when cookie makers over do it by adding way too much goop such as nuts, chunks of chocolate.

Sometimes cookie makers get it right. Kicki recently gave me some oatmeal cookies for my ride home. Now “The Keeks” is what we’d call “Crunchy. ” She is a granola, and that’s fine, she thinks I’m Crunchy as well, but I was a little worried that she was sharing something that would taste healthy, and we all know that there are few good tasting healthy dishes. I was pleasantly surprised that she made the prefect oatmeal cookie. There were a few raisins and sun flower seeds, but the balance was absolutely perfect.

I love it when people pay attention. A while ago I told a friend that then only way I would like chocolate chip cookies would be if they didn’t put chocolate chips in them. Today this friend brought me a batch of chocolate chip-less chocolate chip cookies.

It seems that some people know the way to my heart; cookies, and good cookies at that. I’m a simple guy. I used to judge a person by their cup cake making ability, but these days all it takes is a good cookie.

To my dear friends who care enough to make me cookies, thank you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What We Are Not

It is said that first impressions last. Have you ever heard something someone thought of you that was totally off base?

My wife once worked in an office where the word was that she and I didn’t celebrate Christmas because we were very religious fundamentalists that believed that Jesus wasn’t born in December. The truth is that we are both Atheists and we don’t buy into all that Christmas stuff.

Another woman I know once told me that she heard that I volunteer and counsel young widows in my church, and that my wife doesn’t like it in the least. This one is funny on so many levels, first because I been a member of a church since I was 12 years old, next because I can’t imagine a congregation that has a guild of young widows that need counseling. My mother is the only widow that I actually know.

I’ve often been called a Canadian Expatriate when in fact I am a New Jersey Expatriate. Though I do hope to be an American Expatriate living in Canada some day.

How do people come up with this stuff?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Kid Work

It seems that there was always an opportunity for a kid to make money when I was growing up. We were for hire for cutting lawns, raking leaves and the cash cow of all cash cows; shoveling snow. Some kids would wait until the snow hit and they would cold call customers, but I had clients lined up. When the show hit I was out at dawn and I was able to knock out a few drive ways and walk ways by 9AM. By Noon I was tired but I had a pocket full of money.

Kid money was hard earned and I fully understood its value. Though shoveling snow was more strenuous than other forms of kid work it was the most satisfying. Cutting lawns was boring; back and forth, back and forth, watch the dog shit fly. Raking leaves was boring as well, and a strong wind could undo all the hard work.

It’s funny, but I never see kids trying to hawk work any more. There were some young girls a few years back that would sell lemon aid door to door with a wagon. I’m outdoors a lot and they caught me daily. I was happy to be one of their customers. I never saw them again after school started up at the end of the summer.

I wonder if the times are different or if kids are different. Are parents no longer encouraging kids to learn a work ethic early because of all tat could happen to them with all the creepy people out there, or are kids too lazy to blaze a trail for their own betterment?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Yeah, Yeah, Get Over It

I’ve finally did it. We got cable internet so all you IP trackers out there can now change the label on your tracker when I reply to one of your posts.

Oddly, the cable contractor that came out called around 8PM on Thursday. Charter is so backed up that they hired contractors out of Spokane to do all the new installs while the local Charter workers are cleaning up the blood from their recent conversion.

Now, you must realize that when things get simpler I, of course have to muck it up with complications. I bought a wireless router on Friday. The installation seemed to go along easily, but it didn’t work. I installed it again and still no-go. Then I installed it on the other computer and still it didn’t work. I really miss the days of plug and play. Why was that done away with?

I was going on my fifth hour of the twenty-minute installation when I realized it was time to call India. Some of the configuration just wasn’t taking. After an hour on the phone we got both configurations where they needed to be, however rebooting still didn’t activate either computers wireless functions.

It was then that I realized the switch on one lap-top was set in the off position, and the other lap-top that has a wireless beacon light to show if it is working is actually a beacon light switch. I hit that switch and the wireless function came to life. This lap-top is all black and it’s even hard to see the letters on the key board let alone see this was actually a switch.

So I am now up and running with high speed. Auntie will need to find something else to mock me about.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Find A Penny, Pick It Up...

Auntie obviously is unable to find this in the archives, so I figure I'll post it for her today. It's not like I'm sitting on any good posts. Most of the readers here have already seen this. Most of you replied to it way back then. This was written as a reader challenge. I foolishly took readers requests for things to write about for a week. It was tough, but I got through it and relived a treasured memory. I still feel weird sharing it. Yeah, I can write about my quirks, but it's hard to write about my sex life. Well here you go:

Continuing with the readers request. Lelo wanted me to write about my coming of age.
Maybe it was the times, maybe it was me, but I was a late starter. That is if one considers 17 as late.

OK, it all started when I was working in a library for a summer job. It was only the librarian and me working side by side for the most part. She was from Paris and I wanted to get more experience speaking French so I would do better in my college French class that I was signed up for in the fall. We made a pact to only speak French to one another unless we had to speak with a visitor who came in to use the library.

Day in and day out we spent our time in conversation, getting to know one another, our likes and dislikes. By July there were discussions about relationships and soon it was obvious that there was some sexual tension between us.

It is now that I need to mention that as stated above I was 17 and I now need to admit that she was 34. I was overly pleased with the direction this was taking…

As August approached, I told her that I’d like to get away and go camping some weekend before school started. She had never been camping and sounded interested in it, so I coaxed her into joining me. I told her all about the camp fire and swimming in the river by moonlight. Of course I never mentioned the rattle snakes, copperheads, deer ticks, mosquitoes, digging latrines and the possible lightening storms.

Things were going rather well. I convinced her to join me for a swim in the river. It was dark and soon she got used to the idea that if she removed her clothing I would barely be able to see anything as the only light was that of a half moon filtering through the leaves of the trees. It was a lot of fun.

We returned to the tent draped in our towels. We were at this time becoming very relaxed and very familiar with one another. We became more familiar by the minute. One thing lead to another and soon it became very passionate.

Now, you must keep in mind that all this time, as well as all summer long, we only spoke French to one another. Absolutely no English at all was spoken until in the heat of passion when she said to me, in English, “I want your pennies, I want your pennies.” I thought what the fuck does she want with pennies? Is this some weird French sex trick thing or is she trying to be some sort of really inexpensive prostitute or something? I reached for my pants and went through my pockets for my change. I wasn’t going to argue. I was going in for the first time. If she wanted my pennies, she was going to get them. I told her that I only had a couple pennies and asked her why she wanted them.

Frustrated, she then told me what she wanted in French. I then realized that when spoken in English with a French accent what she desired sounded a lot like "pennies."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

CC Santa Revisited

I recently visited an article I wrote here a few years ago that was in the spirit of the season. I like this story and I'll repost it for those of you that have not poured through the archives. And even if you've read it before, it's bee long enough that I'm sure you've forgotten it. Enjoy:

Not being a person instilled with vast amounts of glee, I avoid any holiday parties I am invited to. This wasn’t always the case. I was once young and full of optimism.

I remember a time when I was 18 years old. I was working at a Catholic Seminary, which had amazingly ornate Christmas parties. One of my co-workers was a really hot 30 year old woman named Judy. She and I really hit it off, being we were two fish who really had no business being in that pond.

We were at this party together, which got over early so the older workers could get home to bed before 8pm. Judy said to me that it was too early to call it a night so we should go to her husband’s club for their Christmas party. I was up for it, so we got into my car and she told me to head towards Hackensack. We drove down a foggy Rt. 17 to Rt. 4, and once we got to Hackensack she guided me down roads I had never been on before. We finally ended up on this dark, pot hole filled road with overgrown weeds and trash on the side. We pull up to what looks like an abandoned bowling ally with hundreds of motorcycles parked out side. I’m now nervous…

We walk in the door and are confronted by the loud noise of music, drunken bikers shouting and drinking and bowling. There was a large banner that said C.C. Riders, North Jersey. Holy shit! I had just recently finished reading Hunter Thompson’s book Hells Angles. I walked on egg shells in fear of getting stomped. I stuck close by Judy and Pete. There was no way in hell that I looked at all like I belonged there with my soft 18 year old, peach fuzz, boy face.

After an hour or so I started to relax. All attention was drawn to the biker Santa that came thundering in on a Harley. He got off the bike and sat on a chair by the bar. He shared a few Ho Ho’s and commanded all the ladies to get in line. “OK ladies!” He started, “Come here and sit on Santa's face and I’ll guess your weight!” Oh man, I thought, what the hell am I seeing here? It all turned out pretty harmless. Anyone who sat on Santa’s lap came away with a present of either a dildo or a bottle of beer.

I stayed a little longer, but after two fights broke out I figured it was time to take my 18 year old boy self with the peach fuzz face safely back to safety suburbia where there were nice houses and nice lawns and where anyone with a motorcycle had them cleanly tucked away in their garages with blankets on them waiting for the warm days of spring.

The attendees of the party were used to these sorts of get-togethers where I was not. There is a certain euphoria one feels when they escapes a potentially dangerous situation unscathed. This euphoria stayed with me for days after that party. To this day, when I pass a biker club on the highway and hear their thundering engines bark like lions as they pass, I think back to that night in Hackensack, New Jersey and get a feeling of euphoria again.

Friday, December 19, 2008


If you remember I recently wrote about the joys of animal crackers, however lately I’ve got a thing for graham crackers. It made me curious about graham flour and what it is exactly.

The Wikipedia entry on graham flour states that graham flour is a type of whole wheat flour named after the American Presbyterian minister Rev. Sylvester Graham, an early advocate for dietary reform. According to the Larousse Gastronomique, Graham despised processed white flour and believed that bran was the cure-all for the bad eating habits of his compatriots.

Rather than simply grinding the whole grain wheat kernel (bran, germ, and endosperm), in graham flour the components are ground separately. The endosperm is ground finely, initially creating white flour. The bran and germ are ground coarsely. The two parts are then mixed back together, creating a coarse-textured flour that bakes and keeps well. Graham flour is used to make graham crackers and pie crusts, among other things.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Retina

OK, so I got an appointment on Tuesday with a retina specialist in Portland. I drove over Route 26 without chains or studded tires. There was a warning sign that traction devices were required. I drove on anyway and got to my appointment on time.

After the preliminary exam someone mentioned injecting a dye. I feared they were going to inject directly into my eye, but they put it in the back of my hand. They took all these photographs of both of my retinas in intervals that showed the blood as it pulsed through my eyes. They also did this strange thing that showed my retina in cross section. This was really cool because it showed my right retina as a line with a dip in the center, however it showed my left retina as being flat with a convex bulge in the center and a smaller bulge on the side.

As it turned out the condition I have has a long name that takes several pages to write out in full, but basically what it is, it blisters within the retina. A retina is a membrane that is paper thin and I developed two pockets of fluid inside this membrane.

One of the cool outcomes of this is that though the sight in the left eye is blurry, when I look at words on a page or at a photograph they somehow appear to become three dimensional.

The cause is stress. I always thought I handled stress well, but I guess not. We just had a major stress reliever in our lives. You may recall that back in May or June I wrote about our income being cut in half and all the belt tightening I was going to have to do. We burned through our savings to keep the mortgage paid and even got help from a family member for the past two months. However, we just got the news last week that our claims were settled with the Long Term Disability company (my wife is disabled) and she will once again qualify for full benefits and we will be paid back for the duration where they weren’t paying us. It was good news, we get to keep the farm and be able to keep the animals and even get a few extra cable channels.

I suspect it was actually the relief of the stress that caused my eye trouble. The surgeon told me that it should get better on its own, but I have to return for a re-evaluation is six weeks.

Thank you, one and all for your concern. I try not to share bad news here. You all probably have enough bad news in your lives where you don’t need me dumping my baggage on you, but I feel somewhat obligated when something of this magnitude comes about. I communicate with many of you more than I communicate with people face to face. Thanks for listening and pass me some valium.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh Canada

I took this from our pal Moosehead. Being we are living through a cold snap right now I was reminded of my time in the North Country.'re truly a Canadian if...

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from
September through May,
You may live in Canada .

If someone in a Home Depot store
Offers you assistance and they don't work there,
You may live in Canada .

If you've worn shorts and a parka at the same time,
You may live in Canada .

If you've had a lengthy telephone conversation
With someone who dialed a wrong number,
You may live in Canada .

If 'Vacation' means going anywhere
South of Detroit for the weekend,
You may live in Canada .

If you measure distance in hours,
You may live in Canada .

If you know several people
Who have hit a deer more than once,
You may live in Canada .

If you have switched from 'heat' to 'A/C'
In the same day and back again,
You may live in Canada .

If you can drive 90 km/hr through 2 feet of snow
During a raging blizzard without flinching,
You may live in Canada .

If you install security lights on your house and garage,
But leave both unlocked,
You may live in Canada .

If you carry jumpers in your car
And your wife knows how to use them,
You may live in Canada .

If you design your kid's Halloween costume
To fit over a snowsuit,
You may live in Canada .

If the speed limit on the highway is 80 km --
You're going 90 and everybody is passing you,
You may live in Canada .

If driving is better in the winter
Because the potholes are filled with snow,
You may live in Canada .

If you know all 4 seasons:
Almost winter, winter, still winter,
And road construction,
You may live in Canada .

If you have more miles
On your snow blower than your car,
You may live in Canada .

If you find 2 degrees F 'a little chilly',
You may live in Canada .

So now you know...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eye, Eye, Eye

While driving to Portland on Friday, I realized that I was having trouble seeing with my left eye. The signs on the highway were blurry. When I blinked I could see a light circle on my eye lid. Later in the day my eye sight was no better, and maybe even worse. When looking at my computer keyboard I could only see the outer letters on the keyboard.

Fortunately, I was able to get an appointment with my opthamologist first thing on Monday being he had a lot of cancellations due to the weather. He has been aware and mindful of my eye problems and this turn has him concerned to the point of sending me to a retina specialist.

Not knowing the future, I plan to plod ahead and write whenever possible. I still have one good eye for now, but it does make me wonder just how much ones’ life can change and how quickly things can change. I’ll keep you all posted.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sock It To Me

I find that the term “Sock it to me” had to be the strangest buzz phrase of all time. Originally it meant, “ Give it (respect) to me” or to Mark Twain it meant “put it bluntly.” Later it took on a new sexual meaning when Jazz musicians took the phrase over. The actual phrase was taken from a hit record entitled 'Respect' (1967) recorded by Aretha Franklin, which featured a chorus repeating 'Sock it to me' quite rapidly in the background.

The phrase quickly resurfaced with Judy Carne on the TV show, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In. Judy would say the phrase and have water dumped on her. Other characters in the show took up the phrase as well as guest that appeared on the show such as Richard Nixon who said “Sock it to ME???” Hubert Humphrey was invited on the show as well but declined. Humphrey was heard later saying that this might have cost him the election. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels closed up the movement by adding more over-use to the term and then it finally died with the 60’s.

Fortunately, “Sock it to me” has not become a retro mainstay lexicon. It is merely a touch stone for those that were there and those that wish to forget. It reminds us that we should take great care in the phrases we choose to represent an entire generation.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kicki's Bacon Adventure

Sorry, but one more post about Kicki and bacon thanks to Trop. Click on the hyper text to see My memory of the last time I visited Kicki.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

To All You Yahoos Out There

A note to all you that use Yahoo as your E-mail provider:

I understand that having an E-mail address that you can always have regardless of your ever changing Internet Service Provider is convenient, but frankly Yahoo sucks. I cannot tell you how many times important communication has been lost when sent to Yahoo addresses. There are people with Yahoo that I’ve corresponded with for years; I’m in their address book, yet my messages to them still get sent to their junk box.

I have learned to reply to my Yahoos out there with separate messages from two different E-mail accounts, yet sometimes that doesn’t work.

Normally I’d let my bitch with Yahoo slide. I’ve been letting it slide for years, but someone that is trying to schedule me for two speaking engagements this spring thought I was not interested in the engagements. He finally found my lengthy reply in his junk box or trash bin. I think I will continue the negotiations by phone.

So all you Yahoos out there should be wondering what you are missing because I’m sure I’m not the only one sending you stuff that isn’t getting to you. It’s not like I’m using messages with the words “Rolex, Enhance, Important, or Degree” in the subject line.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Love of a Marble Arm

One memory from my childhood was that my parents didn’t make a lot of purchases for the home, but when they did buy something it was something of quality.

I was recently driving home over Highway 26 just after sun set. As I was coming down the back side of the pass by Saddle Mountain the sky was a pearlescent pallet of vivid reds, blues, yellows, pinks and purples. I was reminded of a Chase lounge chair that we had in our back yard. It was a heavy thing of quality with a thick cushion. The chair also had flat arms made from polished pieces of marble with the same colors in them as I saw in the sky as I drove home. The stone in the arms was fascinating to look at.

I remembered sitting on that Chase lounge one summer evening and noticing the sky that evening looked exactly like the arms of the chair. There is a certain sky that triggers my memory for that chair. It is rare, but every once in a while it is a perfect replica.

Oddly, that chair was stolen from our back yard one evening and never seen again. It must have been two people that took it. The chair was far too substantial for one person to handle. My parents were angry when they realized the chair had disappeared. It must have been rather expensive. I was young at the time and had no idea of the value of money, so I was angry that someone that stolen a perfect replica of a perfect sky from us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Many horse owners spend lots of time and money following advice of the many super-star horse trainers. There are many clinicians like Clinton Anderson, John Lyons, Julie Goodknight and the Parrelli’s. While guising as horse instruction, the instructions are meant more for the potential trainer. It is easier to train horses than it is to train people.

One of the biggest problems people have with their horses is respect. If you can teach a horse to respect you the learning will come easy and quickly for the horse. Respect isn’t granted, it is earned. This is one of the points that have been driven into me, not just in the horse training arena, but in the world outside of horses. The horse world has taught me a real life lesson.

I am not a wealthy man. I can’t employ and pay people; though in the grand scheme we all employ one another. In the grand scheme what is earned and what is paid is respect. Starting when we first meet someone, we grant a degree of respect to a stranger. The relationship is then evaluated from time to time to see if more respect is due.

I was recently present when a local executive seemingly lost his mind in an encounter with others. Any respect I had ever banked for this person flew out the window, and I’m starting to think it is “case closed” at this point. The basis for respect is trust and I for one will not be the frog that ever takes that scorpion across the river.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Reality and Entertainment

I was born into a home with a black and white television. Chances are that if you were born after 1965 you came to a home with a color television. The old black and white sets were replaced or delegated to another room where it was a luxury to be a home with two TVs.

Small black and white TVs could still be purchased. These sets were bought by parents for their kids to put in their bedrooms. It kept the kids out of their thinning hair and away from their (the adults) TV.

We were a one-TV home. I remember the day when we replaced our black and white for our first color TV. The black and white set had lost all of it ability to hold the horizon. Remember the horizontal hold where the screen would roll and you would turn the knob and it would start rolling in the opposite direction?

Getting a color TV was a big deal and fascinating and all that, yet somehow I felt a sense of loss and remorse. I had grown up in the world of the gray scale. It was a world where the real world was seen in living color and the entertainment world was seen in black and white. Suddenly I was being tosses into a gyre where the entertainment world was attempting to fool me with its clever imitation.

I rebelled when I could by turning the color control knob to black and white. I was annoyed by the colors. In black and white, when the NBC peacock fanned its tail, I could easily tell each feather was in a different color though the tones were gray.

Eventually I gave up my quest for black and white entertainment other than the occasional foreign film. I rolled over and accepted color. It’s much too hard to figure out how to change the color these days. There is no longer any knobs to turn. You have to find a set up screen by using a remote and then you have to actually alter and save settings and then find a way back to watch a program. Sure some of you may laugh, but I have a hard time storing numbers on my cell phone let alone doing something with the TV other than changing the channels or lowering the volume.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Danger Calls

I registered my home phone and both cell phones on the national do not call list, yet I constantly get calls at home usually from what is listed on the caller ID as “Unknown Name.” I recently found out that you can dial *77 and it will block callers that do not show a return number.

Lately we have been getting calls that show the return number as 062-264-5219. The announcement says something like, “You are in danger of losing your warranty. Press 1 if you would like to speak with a representative or press 2 if you would like to be removed from our list.” I’ve pressed 2 before and the calls keep coming. Yesterday I pressed 1 so I could ask why my number hasn’t been removed. I was put on hold with three calls before me in the Q so I listened to the music on the phone while I waited.

As I waited my call waiting beeped, so I hit flash and that call was another call that said, “Your credit card rate is in danger. Press 1 if you would like to speak with a representative or press 2 if you would like to be removed from our list.” I pressed 1 and then heard the same music that was being played on the other call. I went back to the first call, and when a representative answered I asked what company was calling and the representative immediately hung up.

I get this sort of call weekly and what I would like to know is how come with all the technology available to the phone companies where they can turn over all sorts of records to Homeland Security, why can’t they cannot stop spam phone callers from having a track back number that has a non-existent area code that starts with a zero? Why can’t they trace the calls and shut down the service to the offenders?

Update: I got a call from Quest on Monday morning and they said that there are one- way out going calls which can't be dialed back. The company is out of Georgia and are calling about both, extended car warranties and credit cards. Complaints should be made to the State Attorney General's office, which I have done. Quest said that they have been getting a lot of complaints and that the AG's office is actively working on the case.

Monday, December 08, 2008

You're Dreaming

There are few things more annoying than having someone tell about their sleeping dreams in great detail. This is partly because their ability to make an effable account the vividness is totally lacking. Another reason of annoyance on my part is jealousy; because I don’t remember my dreams.

I do dream, and sometimes I can remember them for a moment or two after waking. I can only recall three vivid dreams that I’ve had that have stayed with me to this day. One was of King Kong looking in my window when I was a child. Another was of finding myself somewhere that I wanted to be and I pinched myself in my dream to make sure I was really there and I felt the pinch in my dream. The third dream was too personal to share with anyone…ever, but damn it was good.

I envy people who wake up having experienced an entire other life where things are fantastic. Even their night mares are fantastic. Their dreams are virtual reality of sorts and they call into question the old philosophical question, “Am I a man dreaming that I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man?”

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Commercial Interests

One can tell a lot about the culture we currently live in by watching commercials on TV. Have you noticed that men are being portrayed more often these days as fools and idiots? This is disturbing.

Another commercial trend I notice is that a lot of commercials are using black and white images to portray something bad and suddenly color is introduced when a product comes along to save the day. It’s as though they want to vilify gray scale images.

Has anyone noticed that the CBS News on weekend evenings is sponsored by really crappy mail-order products that often cost less than the shipping and handling?

Finally, what happens if your TV is connected to a Clapper and a Clapper commercial comes on?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Alarm Clocks

The other day in the article about the sounds that come to my home on the wind, Loopy said something about the siren that still blows at noon everyday from the local volunteer fire department. I’m a bit surprised to hear that in the day where every volunteer has a scanner or a plectron; that sirens are still sounded at all.

In the town where I grew up there were five volunteer fire departments, two of which were in ear shot of where I lived. One station had a siren and the other had a loud horn. The horn had a code that by counting the horn blasts you could tell where the fire was. Every day at Noon the siren and horn would sound; I suppose as a test. Then they would go off again at 5PM as another test. They were somewhat convenient because if you worked within ear shot you would know when the lunch hour began and when your work day was over. You wouldn’t think it was so great if you lived within a half mile of the horn. It was very loud and very sudden. It could scare the crap out of anyone unsuspecting of the sound.

We also had a mill in town that would blow a steam whistle at 7AM and 12:30PM. These were convenient as well by telling you if you heard the 7AM whistle you were going to be late if you were still in bed, and the 12:30pm one told you when lunch was over.

The odd thing about the steam whistle was that it had no bearing to any operation or crew shift at the mill. It was something that was set up when the mill was built in the late 1800s. No one knew why or how the whistle even sounded. No one knew how to alter the timing or even prevent it from going off. Even if there was a power failure the whistle would still sound as though it were hooked to some cosmic team clock. It may be some phantom or ghost whistle. I’ll need to ask some relatives if it still goes off. The mill has been closed for several years now. It still may be operational.

Friday, December 05, 2008


I’ve often written about how disappointed I am with local pizza. It’s an East Coast food branding thing. I won’t get over it. I can barely stand the take-and-bakes. Papa Murphy’s is the only local take-and-bake that doesn’t activate my gag reflexes. Sorry Fred Meyer, Safeway and Costco, but your pizzas are revolting.

Anyway, I made a hand thrown pizza last Thursday. That’s right a Positive Happy Givings pizza; get over it. Starting with a cup and a quarter of very warm water and some yeast, a pinch of sugar and salt, one brings life to the flour as it is slowly added and eventually kneaded.

Kneading bread somehow sparks a genetic memory for me. My fathers’ family owned and operated a bakery in the town I came from. It was in operation from the late 1920s and it was closed before I was born in 1955. As a child I knew where the bakery had been and rode by it often on my bicycle. I looked into the windows and tried to imagine seeing all my relatives at younger ages running the shop. I never did learn why the bake shop closed, but I suppose it was due to the death of my grandfather and the rest of his children wanting to earn better money in local industries.

It seems the understanding of bread has been unintentionally passed down to me. People say the bread I make is good, however I nearly always find fault in it. Either I don’t like the crust or the bubbles of gluten are just too small or too uniform for my liking. Eventually I give up bread making out of disgust, but somehow I eventually find myself kneading dough again. Maybe this time I will get it right, yet I doubt I will ever get it right.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Bacon Never Ends

Last month I wrote about having the last BLT of the year, which brought a few of you out in sympathy who wanted to sneak me some bacon contraband, especially Auntie. Really folks, it’s fine. I’d rather take a bacon hiatus which will make my bacon season even better next year.

Somehow bacon keeps coming into my life this year. I was recently visiting my friend, Kicki in Portland. She lives in a beautiful home, and as soon as I walked in she apologized for the smell of bacon that was in the air. I told her that men are not repulsed by the smell of bacon and in fact most men are attracted to it. Women could wear bacon perfume when they want to attract a man or a dog. It would work every time. Kicki found this philosophy very amusing.

I go out to my mailbox on Friday and there in was a padded envelope from Kicki. I wasn’t expecting anything from her. I laughed all the way up the driveway after the contents were revealed to me. As you can see from the photo above it was a chocolate bacon bar. Kicki, you warmed my heart.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Honey Don't!

I get a lot of mail from different agricultural groups, but the one that I am presently bonding with is the news letters from the National Honey Board. One cause they have been championing is how companies can use the word Honey when advertising and marketing products, yet some products that do so don’t even have any honey in the product. The National Honey Board has a goal to make it so in order to use the word Honey in packaging, honey must be the primary sweetener used in the product.

When you go to the market you will see so many products with Honey in the product name. Sometimes the word “Honey” is larger than the product name itself. Read the labels and you will be surprised. The primary sweetener in Honey Nut is sugar. Honey is #2 down the list. Here’s a good one, Honey Made Graham Crackers are first sweetened with sugar and then high fructose corn syrup and then sweetened more with normal corn syrup and then with molasses and finally the fifth sweetener is honey.

I like that the NHB is trying to flex their muscle, especially seeing how the maple industry totally lost control of the use of the word “Maple.” There is now more artificial maple flavoring out there now than there is real maple products.

I do understand that some of these products are dietary institutions, and I’m not suggesting you abandon buying these tasty treats, but I do want you to realize the corporate manipulation that is going on and how you are being duped.

I challenge you to read the labels on honey ham, honey roasted nuts and anything that has the word “Honey” on the label as a selling point. Let me know if you ever find anything where honey is the primary sweetener.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Good Old Day May Not Have Been

I am still amazed when I see something get replaced by plastic. I know it is for safety, durability and/or economics, but I really have a bad feeling of what is to come from it all. Most everything that came is glass containers now comes in plastic. I thought it was a good idea when shampoo was placed in non-breakable plastic containers, but now it is hard to find products in glass any more.

I do understand that glass is heavier and more fragile. One can ship a hundred or more plastic containers at the same price one could ship 25 glass containers. As I preached in the past about not buying bottled water and instead fill a reusable container with tap water, we have been searching for glass containers for our water and they are pretty hard to come by. We did find some iced tea in glass and we snapped them up. I would really like to get some stainless steel water bottles, but the price is beyond reasonable.

More plastic disappointment recently came in a box of Barnum’s Animal Crackers. What was once an inner container made of wax paper is now plastic that somewhat looks and feels like wax paper, but it isn’t anything as natural as was or paper. There used to be wax paper that contained graham crackers and now that is plastic as well.

I know, I’m a hopeless romantic for the way things once were and I do overlook the inherent evils of that which was of the olden days; like how the wax used to make waxed paper is paraffin, a petroleum product, and how before padded plastic was used on automobile dash boards people had more injuries when involved in crashes.

I suppose it’s easy to become myopic.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sick Day XXVII

I am sick of Chemists. I have yet to meet a chemist that wasn’t a know-it-all and generally disagreeable. This goes for anyone in the chemical industry. On the surface they seem nice, but under that veneer beats the heart of a full-time rat bastard, ass pain. That’s all I have on that subject.