Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Favorite Inventions

Everyone can make a list of their favorite inventions that have made their lives easier. Most will say things like computers, or microwave ovens, or cell phones, however one of my favorites is the simple and understated egg carton.

Though eggs can be very durable they can be extremely fragile. There is no better way of packaging them than an egg carton, which is made from molded pulp. It is also referred to as molded paper pulp or molded fiber and in some circles, the term “egg carton material” is synonymous with molded pulp. I don’t like the polystyrene cartons. To me, eggs and plastic don’t mix well together. It’s a natural product in an unnatural container, kind of like bottled water.

Being a small egg producer I barely make enough on the eggs to cover my feed expenses, so I jump at the opportunity to score free egg cartons. I encourage customers to return cartons to me when they are finished, and I happily take cartons with other names printed on them. I am a recycler. I’d rather not have to pay 25 cents for new cartons.

I scored a dozen cartons yesterday and I’m feeling good, so now I’m good for another month. It’s a lot like getting a load of hay and not needing to worry about finding hay the horses for a couple months. That reminds me of another great invention; baling twine. Remember when they used bailing wire. Though baling twine is plastic it really does the job and it can also be recycled. It also has hundreds of other uses around the farm.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Free HBO...Sort Of.

I'm sure that if you watch TV you've probably seen the Hulu commercials where you can stream many of the more popular shows through the Internet. It's a pretty cool service and the shows are interrupted a couple of times with 30 second commercials. However I found an even better site because this one runs no commercials and better yet it plays shows from Showtime and HBO.

During our financial crisis last year we gave up our Dish and went to basic cable and we missed many of the really great shows on HBO, but now we can catch up. I just finished watching the first two shows of the third season of Big Love and it's a better way to watch because the shows can be viewed full screen and they can be pauses and you can scroll back or ahead.

They have shows like Oz, Big Love, Weeds, Deadwood and many many more. They don't have Flight of the Concords yet, but maybe soon I hope. Check it out and I'm sure you'll be pleased. You may get a few pop-us when you start, but just close them and you are good to go.free-tvshows.com

Sunday, March 29, 2009

More Chicks Man

If you watch the show, The Soup, you will catch the reference in the title. I love that show.

Anyway, it is spring and one of the rites of spring is to replenish ones flock of chickens. Last year if you remember I got 24 chicks of which there were four roosters. The four roosters went to the freezer, I sold ten mature hens and I lost two hens to a neighbor dog leaving me with eight.

First year hens lay all winter as long as they have enough light. I built the chicken house with a large window. It was a window that I had left over from one of the additions I built. The inspector didn’t like one window near a bath tub because it wasn’t tempered, so I replaced it and I used to former window in the chicken house. Notice I haven’t called it a coop; it’s a house.

My present flock will slow or stop egg production next winter when they molt, but these new hens will lay all winter so I’ll be able to continue selling eggs next winter.

Last year I visited Kicki’s urban farm and she had one really beautiful hen. It was a golden laced Wyandotte. I wanted some of my own and I saw that my local feed store had a few of them, but they were the silver laced variety. They will be stunning, none the less. These chicks would have been totally sold out by the weekend, so I got four even though I wasn’t ready for them. Once I got them home they huddled together for warmth while I set up their box with food, water, pine shavings and a heat lamp.

It’s really nice to hear them peeping away, though I’m sure I will quickly tire of that. By then I’ll have a spot for them in the chicken house where I store the feed. I can’t mix them with the flock because the other hens would kill them. They will be under a heat lamp for about six weeks, and they will be laying by August.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

School Photos

I was recently in an office where the person I was speaking with had her office decorated with photos of family members and friends, but she had an entire area of school photos of children of her friends. The photos showed all these all American kids and they all looked so normal. The underlying reality is that many of the kids in the photos are probably monsters, or will turn out to be monsters when they get a little older. Just think of how messed up the kid in the photo above is today.

Parental pride is sometimes grotesque. I remember one woman that ordered tons of her kids school photos and she literally passed them out to everyone she knew. She passed them out like Gideon Bibles; they were everywhere and watch out if you didn’t post it in a conspicuous area for all to see when she came to visit.

I presently have one photo of someone’s’ kid on my fridge. It is of my niece who lives in Paris. I know we don’t have to display it since they probably won’t come around for another year or so, but it’s really OK by me. However I would have to start drawing a like if a second photo were to appear there.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Astoria Crabs Festival

It’s nearly time for the Astoria Wine and Crabs Festival. Yes, you too can come to the Clatsop County Fair Grounds and pay exorbitant parking fees, but if that’s not for you or if you prefer not drive drunk you can easily catch a shuttle bus to and from this event. A word of caution: you will be returning on these shuttles with people that are really drunk so wear a rain slicker to repel the vomit. The ride home is like going to a Gallagher show except you will be hit stomach contents rather than watermelon.

Once at the Crabs festival you can purchase a commemorative wine glass that makes the price of parking at the Fair Grounds look like a deal. At that point you are free to roam around and pay for wine samples from the hundreds of unique local wineries. After dumping at least $20 you will be lubed enough to wander out to the horse stalls where a bevy of skanks of both sexes are waiting to share their crabs with you. Hopefully if you don’t get robbed you will have enough cash to buy a bottle of Quell when you sober up.

So get ready to grow your nails for scratching and get down with your inner skank, the Crabs Festival is coming to town in April.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I Am Very Frightened

This is too good not to post. Thanks to BPaul, I robbed this from his blog Institute of Jurassic Technology

This is a chart of public acceptance of evolution, by Country. Oddly Canada isn't listed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Signals

More signs of spring are emerging every day. While I tended the horses this morning at dawn I could hear the birds waking up with song on their little bird tongues. When I finished my chores I went back in the house and poured a cup of coffee and took it out on the porch.

I love the mornings. It is so quiet except for the sounds of the birds and frogs. I could hear a rooster in the far distance, probably a mile away. Near my house I could hear a wood pecker pounding away like a jack hammer. The tree he or she was working must have been dead enough but not rotten so that the sound was like it was jack-hammering a drum.

As day light started to gather I saw a pair of ducks coming through the trees descending into my pond. The birds were now gathering at the feeders and the humming birds visited the flowering shrubs.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Off Kilter

Today (Monday) I am paying the price for staying up late last night. I intentionally stayed up so I could see all of the new season of Axmen on the History Channel. I missed the first and third shows when they aired. Just before going to bed I realized that I didn’t have a blog post ready to be posted at 4:00am. I’ve been really slacking on my blog writing lately. I’m simply uninspired, so if you wake up and find nothing new here; sorry in advance.

Going to bed that late totally threw my pre-bed rituals off. I neglected to set the dish washer. I neglected to set my coffee up which normally brews itself automatically at 5:00 am and I forgot to set my alarm clock.

Instead of waking up at 4:30 like I do on my own every morning and turn off the alarm clock before it rings, I awoke at 5:59. I went down and couldn’t find my favorite cup; it was unwashed in the dish washer. I used another cup and poured a cup from the carafe; it was cold and left over from yesterday. Everything was off, but I was showered and back on schedule by 6:30.

I think I’ll need a nap today. The fourth Axmen of the series is on tonight at 10:00 pm, but I’ll be sure to have things in order before I go to bed tonight.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Will Meet You at the Station

There was a rail line that went through my home town. There was a train station in every town the railroad went through. It was one of those things that towns grew up around. Always near the rail lines were industries, post offices, lumber yards and brick yards. This is the way things got around before long haul trucking became so common. Back in the day, trucks were more for a local delivery and trains did all the long hauls.

Railroad stations were interesting places to me as a kid. I toured all the stations that my bicycle could take me to. They were temples of transportation. The insides were always large church-like rooms with pew like benches and every sound echoed seeming forever. My voice may still be echoing in some stations.

The train stations were staffed with men behind barred windows. I remember the one in my town wore a green visor, just like one would see in the movies. This person sold tickets and handed out schedules. Behind him was some ancient office equipment and an enormous safe.

I was at the Kelso train station on Saturday. This station looks very much like a proper station in my mind. There was only a hand full of passengers there waiting for the train to arrive and their voices echoed in the large hall. I secretly wished that train travel would once again become popular so that station could live in all its potential glory.

Another sad thing about this station other than its lack of use is that there is no ticket agent in the station. There is a barred window where one should be, but instead there is a computerized machine that scans printouts from home computers. It also accepts credit cards and prints tickets.

Every time I go there I hope to see an older bald man with a green visor and low slung reading glasses that sit upon an unsmiling face behind the barred window personally selling tickets to travelers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's Getting Worse All the Time.

I often wish that there was some consistency in music. I don’t like it when a new act come into the world really strong and gets worse with every effort that follows. Like the first Led Zep album was great, and the next one wasn’t as good and the third was OK and the rest just sucked. Now Plant is singing crap with Allison Krauss flushing both their careers into the toilet.

Bruce Springstein had the same problem. He started strong and now he sounds like a babbling idiot. I saw him on the Daily show this week and now I am ashamed to tell people I’m from New Jersey.

Snoop Dogg has been going down since Doggie Style and that was released back in 93. The only two that gained momentum that I can recall was the Beatles that got better as time went on. The other is Eminem. I know there are still the rap resistant here, but this guy really gets better every day. He started off with stuff that was hip hop street poetry, and now he’s having fun with sound. He can make his voice do incredible things, and thought it is vulgar and has all that stuff that gives rap a bad name, I really love it. Slim Shady is standing up. Oddly his Dr. Dre is responsible for producing a lot of Eminem’s work, but Dre’s own recordings bore me to tears. How can this be?

Does anyone out there have any other suggestions of music that has gotten better over time? I bet you’ll be hard pressed to come up with any.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Middle of the Road

Dalia commented on my article about Rap which brought to mind how ridged people really are with their musical tastes. There are people that I’ve known that have never let their radio stray from whatever their taste is and I’m amazed that they haven’t become bored with it all.

I am reminded of the decade that I spent working for the US Postal Service. This office had a strange arrangement with the radio. Every day at 5am the radio was tuned to this local station that catered to the senior set. The DJ played the same songs every day at the same times. The news, traffic, weather and commercials ran every day at the same time. The same morning jokes were run every day at the same time. I often wondered if there was actually only one show that was on tape that they reran every day.

Every morning the younger set was allowed to change the station precisely at 7:00am, and one might think that after suffering through the daily repetition and boredom; they would go wild, but no. They choose a station that was every bit as boring and repetitive. Every day at 7:00 it would play the song Monday, Monday; followed by Neil Diamond; followed by Simon and Garfunkle; followed by…

Every once in a while when one of the radio mob was absent I would turn on college radio stations from NYU or Fordham and few people could stand it. It was then that I realized that middle of the road is king in America. So the next time you tune into the Grammy Awards and wonder “WTF?” that is what America is listening to and paying good money to do so. Really, people. Try out something new.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My Student Friends

If you think back to your school days you will remember some remarkable teachers that will always be with you. I am still in touch with my high school photography teacher. I still quote an accounting professor I once had and I still reflect on lessons I learned and stories I heard in Modern Asian History.

All these years later I find myself teaching classes and I find that at least one student in every class stays in touch with me long after the class is over. I have been teaching my annual class for nearly ten years and I am still in touch with students from the first session I ever had. Some keep me posted on their progress and some send photos of their families and tell me how their lives are going. Some call me when problems develop and I talk them off the ledge.

I look forward to these relationships. I make sure all students have my email address and phone number. It is gratifying to know that what I’m saying is actually meaningful to the students and that they are committed enough to stick with it and don’t fear to ask for further advice.

I recently did a class and as I lectured I scanned the room and wondered who it would be this time. There was one student there that attended my class twice before and she was one that I’ve stayed in touch with, so there had to be someone else. No one seemed to stand out. When the class was over I had several individuals come up and thank me and ask additional questions, but when everyone had gone there was one remaining woman. She told me she had questions but was too shy to ask them when class was in session. We sat down and chatted for nearly an hour and have since been in email contact.

With spring quickly coming on I’m sure I’ll be hearing from at least one member of each class I taught. Bring it on.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Farewell to Battlestar Galactica

Sadly this Friday will usher out the final episode of Battlestar Galactica. Based on the roots of the 1978 TV show, this new version was resurrected in 2003 and has since grown to be a standard by which many science fiction ventures are now measured.

This series has been dark, but well written. The characters are every bit as complex as characters on shows such as the Sopranos. I didn’t get into this show until the third season, but borrowed the previous two seasons of DVDs from a friend and got caught up and since then I have been caught up in all of it. I am sorry to see it go, but there is some hope. The SiFi network, soon to be SyFy, will be running a prequel starting in 2010. This series will be called Caprica and will take place before everything got weird. I hope the writers can hold to their present high standards.

SiFi will have an eleven hour marathon on Friday before the two-hour serries finale. So don’t call me on Friday because I won’t be answering the phone.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Zeezo The Clown

A special treat for you Zeezo fans out there. A while ago I did a post about how much I dislike Safeway and I used a photo that Gearhead and Jeff immediately replied positively to about Zeezo the Clown. Coming from the East Coast, I grew up with Bozo the Clown, so I had never heard of Zeezo.

Anyway, I had a reply to that article, and I'm sure that no one ever checks the archived article here so I figured I'd share it with you Oregon natives, Zeezo fan.

"Blogger Larry said...

The Zeezo that you saw in Oregon is not the original "Real" Zeezo. The 1st and real Zeezo the Clown was in the Denver Safeway Division. He traveled to 6 states - but did not do shows in Oregon. That was Bob Berghim (not sure of the spelling) who used the idea and paid Larry Campbell (the original ZEEZO) a small amount each month for using the idea, name and dressing like ZEEZO. The postcards that Bob gave out of ZEEZO - was not of him. It was the picture of ZEEZO in the Denver Div. of Safeway.
Bob passed away many years ago. But Larry is live and doing well - living in Huntington Beach, Calif. email: czeezo@gmail.com

I'm (not)* too crazy about Safeway too!
signed, ZEEZO the Clown (Larry Campbell)"

I wrote to Larry and he sent the photo above. I asked him several questions and here is his reply:

I'm now 72 years young. There were only 2 Zeezos and you saw not me but Bob Berghim. Did two shows last week and one tonight.
I'm retired US Coast Guard and do shows at the military bases around the world.
If you really want to know the man (me) just go on Google and type in Zeezo the clown. There is one from Bliss and one from Richard.
Give me a call or email if you need any more info.
Keep a smile, Larry

Larry's resume:
1962-63 Children’s parties and store promotions Long Beach Ca.
1963-64 Juneau AK Happy Birthday Show with Zeezo the Clown
1965-Present International Brotherhood of Magicians
1965-66 Denver Co. Store Promotions Safeway Inc. Various Hospitals.
1965 Cast Member, Fred and Fae Show (ABC-TV)
1967-1969 Traveled 6 states for Safeway Denver Division, school assemblies, radio and TV Promotions
1970-1972 Full-time student.
1973-1988 Owner of 13 retail magic stores known as Zeezo’s Magic Castles (Colorado, Oregon, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Missouri)
1889-Present Volunteer for U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force to entertain at military bases: USA, Japan, Singapore and Germany. Carnival, Celebrity and Norwegian Cruse Line.

So there you have it folks. I love blogging. Consider dropping him a line. It's kind of cool to do something that people remember many years later.
* the word not was missing, but it seemed to be implied.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Equine Dentistry

Last week I wrote I wrote about how my horses wouldn’t eat the new food I got them. Since then the mare has started eating again, but my gelding is still not taking his feed. He will eat hay, but nothing else.

Tooth problems are always suspected when something such as this comes up. I’ve had his teeth floated about a year and a half ago, but at a recent convention I sat through a presentation of an equine dentist and that opened my eyes to a lot of interesting things. Namely, would you have your physician work on your teeth? Sure your doctor can spot decay and gum problems, but they aren’t really equipped or have the in-depth understanding of your mouth. The same thing goes for your vet.

The first problem is that the teeth that have problems are in the back of their mouth. If you stick your arm up to your elbow in their mouths their teeth are where your fingers are. A normal vet can grind off hooks and jagged edges, but they normally don’t have the understanding of the pathology.

All this said, I took my horse to an equine dentist, who immediately removed a broken tooth from the poor guy. He found that he had been doing all of his chewing on one side of his mouth; for years. The dentist did radiographs, balanced the mouth and evened out the occlusion. It was amazing to watch and I understood it because of my years of working in the dental industry.

The only problem for most is the price. You probably know how much it would cost a human to be sedated and have their mouths worked on for two hours. For a horse the price is slightly less…slightly.

My horse has a tooth that will need to be extracted on his next visit. This will be a three hour procedure and will cost twice what I paid for my first pick-up truck. Ho-boy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blog Writers

One of the joys of reading blogs is that sometimes the writers come up with lines that captivate me as a reader. The lines are often very personal, but then that is what blogging is about. It is a weblog or a digital diary. I know the sampling below is just a few random lines I've collected from all the blogs I read. Don't be offended if your lines aren't here. It just means I was too lazy to cut, paste and save them into this post I've been holding onto for the last six months. I'm sure your perfect lines will appear in future editions of this post. I appreciate good writing.

Here are some lines that struck me:

Chantel wrote:
I’m in the basement of a dental school waiting in a room that looks like it was arranged by a decorator fired from a job at the DMV.

Becky wrote:
Place your bets—but I am only accepting gold, sliver and recreational drugs— perhaps Euros.

Dalia wrote:
god, the noises that man made! like trying to stuff an angry raccoon into a blender.

Darev wrote:
He'd throw his food on the floor and roll on it like a dog with a dead squirrel.

Trish wrote:
So now I'm speaking in (sort of) haiku? It goes with my blank stare and gentle rocking.

Blond Goddess wrote: Finally I was forced to have a stiff drink and masturbate so I could calm down before I had a heart attack.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Tweets, any of you that are following me on Twitter, don’t bother. I’ll probably never return there. I joined to see what it was all about and found it to be a bigger waste of time than Facebook. I mean, really! Isn’t blogging enough? How many social networks does one need?

The only reason I’ve been checking into Facebook is because I am nosy and I want to see who is ”friends” with whom. Yep, I’m nosy and catty and often say to myself things like, “I can’t believe they have “that” person as a friend. You know, you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends. I guess some folks are into quantity.

I don’t know, but I’m thinking that what FB is doing in comparison to blogging is what text messages does to letter writing. Entries seem to be totally made of fluff with little thought or heart. It’s all good though, because some people don’t get blogs. Frankly sometimes I don’t get blogging either.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Just Don't Get It

1. Fanatical sport fans
2. Golf
3. Soccer
5. Having birds as indoor pets
6. Having more than one cell phone
7. Affiliation with Democrats and Republicans
8. Romance novels
9. Motivational posters
10. Leaving lights on all night

I just don’t get it; any of it.

Friday, March 13, 2009


One of my wife’s kids was a real finicky eater. When we went out to eat he would only eat chicken strips and fries. One day we noticed that he only ate foods that were white; white meat chicken, potatoes, white bread, plain pasta, rice, cheese and oddly, cauliflower. It was a never ending struggle to get him to eat anything with color. Sooner or later we just gave in. It wasn’t worth the constant battle and eventually he grew out of it. At least he was eating.

Worse than having a kid that doesn’t eat is having a horse that won’t eat. Everything was going fine with the horses until I recently bought a new bag of their Purena Essential 12 feed. Normally they follow me into their stalls when it’s feeding time as they did the other day. I poured their food into their bowls and both horses sniffed it and walked out. I left it over night and the next morning the food was still there.

I returned the bag to the store and got another and now one horse will eat it, but my gelding will not, so I got him something else entirely, which he nibbled on but not enough to give him a good meal. To make things worse, I ran out of my Jewell hay. They loved this hay to the point there would be tongue prints on their mats from licking up every morsel. Instead I got some $19 a bale orchard grass. This is high powered horse fuel, and they are wasting half of what I feed them. It concerns me when half ton animals don’t take in the food they need. I’m not going to spoon feed them, but I need to try pouring honey or oil on their food. Their look of disappointment with what I am feeding them is obvious. I need to get both of them eating again the way they had been.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


OK, I'm a lazy rat bastard for posting this rather than writing today, but this is so good I couldn't pass it up. Click Onion Story for the full report.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Creamed Torino

It was November 15, 1972 when I was in my first and only auto collision. I was leaving my girlfriend’s house at dusk, right at the time when you could still legally drive without headlights, but prudent drivers turned them on as soon as the sun hit the horizon. She lived on a busy road. I looked both ways and I pulled out without seeing the un-illuminated car coming at me at 45 MPH.

The sound of the crash was surprisingly loud. I also remember the wall of broken glass hitting me like a bucket of tiny ice cubes. Broken glass was all over my hair and clothing. My baby blue, four month old Grand Torino Sport had been creamed. It wasn’t totaled. It needed a new driver side door and a rear quarter panel. Though it was fixed seeming as good as new I found glass to vacuum each time I cleaned the car after that.

Since then I’ve been a cautious driver. It was then that I realized the concept of mortality, a lesson that doesn’t normally come to most males until later in life. So, Auntie, I am immune to your taunts regarding my driving.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Confession Time

OK I’ll admit it… On February 21 I mentioned in a post that I was digging the group, The Flobots and I told the rap resistant folks that they didn’t have to read any further. Since that time I became totally fascinated with rap and at this point I am totally consumed.

I started listening to Eminem, the Marshall Mathers album. From there I went Dr. Dre, with which I was totally unimpressed, but then I spent some time listening to Snoop Dogg, and then I landed on Nate Dogg whose voice is very reminiscent of Ike Willis, Frank Zappa’s studio singer. Sure, a lot of the content is disturbing and vulgar. There is a lot of corny gun fire sounds and the over use of bells that sound like the Taco Bell gong when a feeling of gravitas is intended. There is a lot of posturing for brand recognition (who the rapper is), but one must dig deeper to get to the heart of it all.

At the heart you will find the voice of poverty induced despair that may have been overcome but never forgotten. There is the voice of bad decision making without regret to the point where making bad decisions becomes a way of life and a source of inspiration.

Also at the heart you will see a lot of humor and play; be it by making up words or using sound or voices in a funny way. There is also a hint of acknowledgement that everyone is just role playing and you came to hear a show so here it is.

Most importantly at the heart there is the music that lies beneath all the words. It takes me back to my love for the minimalist musical movement. Repetitive themes of interesting riffs and sounds and dance beats run like a river beneath nearly every song. I would love to be able to listen to all this stuff without the words because it is well produced, remarkable and most interesting. The music is stand-alone good.

I am not encouraging the weak of heart to go out and buy any rap collection, but I do implore all who find themselves somewhere where rap is being played to take a good listen. Don’t resist. There is much more there than what meets the ear. A hundred years from now this stuff will be viewed and revered as Urban Folk music.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Muse

There was a comment on the 15 Albums post I ran on Saturday where someone said they couldn’t understand how any album could be life changing. I stick to the life changing declaration since each of those albums took me in a different direction. I won’t go into each title I mentioned, but let’s take for example Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach, which introduced me to and took me down the path of minimalism. This collection enabled me to hear sounds differently. The repetitive notes become a rhythm and the rhythm becomes more like a slow vibration and eventually you can hear the music everywhere such as the drone of an engine, or in the sound emitted from a vacuum cleaner.

The word ”Music” has a relation to the word “Muse” which is an inspiration.

The life changing events that came about from listening to British music such as the Beatles, Eno and King Crimson is a language thing. The English have a masterful command of the language as we Americans resort to slang and other forms of linguistic laziness. The well phrased lyrics of the Brits actually expanded my understanding of what words should actually be used for. Do you think that an American could have ever possibly come up with the term, “If there’s a bustle in your hedge row…”? No, we come us with stuff like, “Let’s go surfing now, everybody’s learning how…”

The imagery created by the lyrics of the English expanded a lot of American minds and carried them to literacy. I wouldn’t have been inspired to write had I not learned the power of uncommon words and phrases.

I’m sure that many people were introduced to the life style of surfing because of surf music as many people were moved to activism because of folk music. Many people were lured into the Hippy lifestyle because of the music of the 60s.

In conclusion, the music I grew up on is the direct inspiration of who I have become.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I’ve been listening to the new Van Morrison album, “Astral Weeks” and I remembered what adults were saying about the music we kids listened to back in the 70’s; “How can you listen to that crap? You can’t even understand the lyrics!”

After listening to this new collection for about a half hour I realize there had been maybe four words that I actually understood. Van Morrison has always been a bit of a mumbler, but he has now risen to the point where he is 99.9% mumbler. The occasional understandable word does squeak out, but now I’m not sure if they were actual words, or a mumble that sounded like words.

Lyrics that are misunderstood can be a lot of fun. Remember Credence Clearwater Revival singing “And there’s the bathroom’s on the right” that was actually supposed to be, “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” Who can forget the Michael Jackson song Billie Jean where Jackson sings, “The chair is not my son.” Does anyone actually know the words to Louie Louie?

Van Morrison could have a treasure trove of misunderstood statements if only he could announciate a little better.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

15 Albums

There has been a Meme going around where Bloggers list the fifteen most influential recordings in their lives. Here are my fifteen.

Philip Glass, Einstein on the Beach
Mothers of Invention, We’re Only in it for the Money
Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
Crosby, Stills and Nash, 1st
Steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians
Beethoven’s 6th Symphony
Walter Carlos, Switched on Bach
Jefferson Airplane, Bark
Beatles, White Album
King Crimson, In the Hall of the Crimson King
Fripp & Eno, No Pussyfooting
Terry Riley, Ten Voices of the Two Prophets
Electric Prunes, Mass in F Minor
Johnny Winter, 1st
Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Friday, March 06, 2009

Porcupine Noses

Years ago I had to miss one of our dinner meetings because the winds and rains made travel over Nehakini too treacherous. This is a road that was cut out of a rock mountain. Below the road is a cliff that falls 500 feet to the sea. After a good storm the road is cratered with rocks that have fallen from the cliff above. Rocks the size of engine blocks are not uncommon.

The next week I asked what I had missed, and the group said, “Porcupine Noses.” This is a story that this fellow only tells on very rainy and windy nights. I asked for a recap, but no one in the group would say a word. It wasn’t their story to tell and to them, telling someone else’s story is akin to sleeping with someone else’s girlfriend or wife. They just don’t tell someone else’s story.

I have met with then on other stormy nights, but somehow it’s never been stormy enough to rekindle and repeat the story. It has easily been ten years since the story was last told, and I’m hoping to be in their company again on a stormy night so I can hear the story of porcupine noses.

Yes, I have thought of the possibility that they have been yanking my chain over this story for all these years. I wonder if the story here is really how you yank the chain of a story lover, and that Porcupine Noses is just a good name to get me hooked. But somehow I still believe there is a special story out there waiting to be told again on a dark, rainy, stormy night where the power flickers on and off. I’m sure I won’t be disappointed because this fellow is a master story teller. He could tell stories about making peanut butter sandwiches and I’d be on the edge of my chair.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Waking Up

Aside from alarm clocks and smoke alarms which are designed to wake anyone up, it is amazing what humans are able to sleep through. Think of the noises that homeless people sleep through. Think of the noises we sleep through. I’m always amazed to hear that there had been a wild thunderstorm that I had slept through. I’ve slept through earth quakes, sirens and I once slept through a train wreck that took place two hundred yards away from one house I lived in.

This topic of weird sleep habits came up at dinner with the guys the other night. One fellow spent his summers as a smoke jumper in Alaska. Upon his return home his girlfriends were always shocked to wake up and find him sleeping on the floor. He would unconsciously get out of bed in the middle of the night go back to sleep on the floor since he was used to sleeping on the ground. It would take months for him to get used to a mattress.

Another of the fellows would sleep well unless someone ran water somewhere in the house. The sound of water would wake him up in a panic and this was because he had a military career in a submarine where the sound of water running meant there was a catastrophic breach and a watery grave wasn’t far behind.

For me it is the wind. I can sleep through nearly anything but when I hear the wind I can’t sleep. I have had enough wind damage with trees falling on my house and out buildings. I’ve had roofs blow off out buildings and had shingles ripped off. The sound of wind to me means I will have to assess and fix something. Things I have spent building to code sometimes weren’t strong enough to withstand the wind. Trees that I loved were uprooted or snapped in half. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live in twister country.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sea Legs

When I had dinner with the fellows last week we talked about sleep. We talked about how whalers, upon their return home often had to suspend their beds from ropes so every movement would rock them to sleep.

Though I’ve never been to sea in anything other than a short jaunt in my kayak; I can somewhat relate to this. Once I went fluke fishing on Barneagat Bay (New Jersey) with a friend. We spent ten hours in a small craft rolling with the waves, up and down, up and down. Even after arriving home several hours later and going to bed several hours after that I could still feel the motion of the waves as I was in bed. I could still feel the motion when I woke up the next morning.

The only thing I could relate it to was like when you attend a real loud concert and your ears ring for several days after. The motion must have reprogrammed my inner ear and sense of balance.

I’ve always taken the large ferry boats when ever I’ve gone to Victoria, B.C., but I understand there is a catamaran that ferrys people from Seattle or Port Townsend. I understand that when the water is wild on Puget Sound the visitors have rubbery legs during their first day after their trip.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers

Darev brought up the term “Shiver Me Timbers” stating that he doubted it was actually in the pirate vernacular. Actually it was more than likely a pretty common term in the days of the wooden sailing ships . From what I’ve read the term does have a unique history and it is a term of exclamation of surprise, disbelief, fear or annoyance.

There are three things that will make the timbers on a boat shiver, the first being a cannon ball, the second is when the boat is lifted in heavy seas and slammed down into the trough of a wave making the whole boat feel like it is coming apart.

The third reason for shiver is one that I’ve personally experienced and that has to do with frequency and resonance. Each object has a resonant frequency just like when you run a finger over a wine glass rim the glass should ring. If you’ve split a good hard wood you will often hear the wood ring. Tesla did a lot of studying about how to shake buildings apart by finding their resonate frequency.

Sailboats are no different. There is a certain speed where the friction of the water passing the keel makes the entire craft resonate like sympathetic strings on a lute. While you are in the craft it isn’t all that musical. It’s more like driving over the wake-up strips on the side of the road. It is a loud bass hum that instills a sense of fear that eventually your boat will just explode from the vibration.

Shivering timbers were not taken lightly by persons at sea. It was a healthy fear. There was a lot to fear while at sea. There were all sorts of Leviathans, giant squid, sirens, pirates, privateers, warships, storms and St Elmo’s fire. We tend to forget the lore of the sea when we see the large freighters lumbering up and down the Columbia to and from the sea.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Sick Day XXIV

I am sick of people that say, “Yee Haw!” Chumps, this ain’t no wagon train. Do you have the foggiest notion of what Yee Haw means? Where it came from?

Yee Haw is a bastardization of Gee and Haw. When you are running a team of draft animals, be it draft horses or oxen or sled dogs for that matter, “Gee is the verbal command to go right and “Haw is the verbal command to go left.

Any drunken teamster that shouts out Gee Haw is confused and unable to guide his team. So while you may think that Yee Haw is a celebratory term in reality it is someone that has no idea what they are doing.

If any of you use the term, sure you may want to sound like cowboys, but to those of us that have actually worked draft animals, you sound like ass holes. Now go somewhere else and try to sound like pirates instead.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Mens Night Out

Last Wednesday night was the evening that I look forward to every year. This is our annual convention of Mens Night Out. I’ve written about this before. It’s usually a group of seven guys, including myself, that have been friends for years. I am the newcomer to the group having joined their association seventeen years ago.

Most of us used to meet for dinner together in Manzanita every Tuesday night. This went on for years, but anyone of you that have been in Manzanita let’s say ten years ago and return there today you will see that the Manzanita with a personality is no longer there. It has gone the way that many small coastal towns have gone. Its soul has been sold for the quest of tourist dollars. Very little is left of the bones of the charming town that once was.

We met for dinner at the Warren Inn in Tolovanna for lack of any old places to meet in the Cannon Beach area such as the Round Table (not the pizza chain) or the Whaler. There is still a place called Bill’s Tavern; it isn’t Bill’s Tavern anymore. I’d be willing to bet the architectural plans for the new Bill’s Tavern cost more than the former Bill’s Tavern structure, which was basically a big drafty shack that served burgers and beer.

Anyway, we sat and ate and talked for close to three hours. Seven guys, many with gray beards and most with flannel shirts. We are guys that read rather than watch sports. We have a lot to discuss and a lot of stories to tell. I will share some of our topics here over the next whenever. I will close today by stating that it is wonderful to be in the company of good friends even if it is just once a year.