Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Barn

I said this before and I left a comment on Syd’s blog about how I find that restaurants with large signs have the worst food. The best food can be found at restaurants with small or no signs at all.

When I lived back on the East Coast there was a place that I used to frequent that was called it The Barn. As its name indicated it was a barn that was once part of a working dairy farm in the late in 1779. The land around it was sold and homes were built in the early 1900’s. The barn became a speakeasy during the prohibition years,and after prohibition was repealed it remained a quiet drinking establishment.

There was no sign for the barn. You couldn’t see it from the road. There was only a light bulb on a tree that when lit people were welcome. There was limited parking so an attendant guided patrons to a spot and when the lot was full the light on the tree was turned off and saw horses were placed to block the entrance. There was no on-street parking.

The Barn was total atmosphere. There were beams that anyone over six-feet tall had to duck under. The floors were the original warped and cracked planks that were nailed down with nails that were made by some local black smith. The tables were carved with names and dates or past patrons from the 1920 and they weighed a ton from all the beer they had sopped up over the last century.

Now I have to admit that the place had great bar food, or at least as good as upper end bar food can be. It was the privilege of eating in such a hidden, historic and exclusive place that made meals there extra special.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Amazing Bicycle Stuff

Yeah, I’m lazy for not writing a post today, but again I will be robbing a post from BPaul’s blog, Institute of Jurassic Technology . BPaul finds the most interesting things on the net for his blog. This video is of a fellow that does some of the most amazing bicycle tricks. I bet he’ll never need a vasectomy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Win Win

Often when I do workshops or classes I am hired by local agricultural associations. Their purpose is to educate their members and potential members. Another purpose is to raise funds for the organization so there is often a raffle.

I always buy $20 worth of raffle tickets and I usually win something. I really don’t need to win anything because I already have more stuff than I use so I usually end up giving my prizes away to those that look like they could use whatever I’ve won.

One year I won a set of hideous drinking glasses. There was an elderly woman next to me that was disappointed she didn’t win them, so I gave them to her. It totally made her day. The next year I won some protective gear that one of my students didn’t own, so I gave her my winning ticket and she claimed and kept the prize. Last year I won two tickets for some concert in Portland by some group I had no intention of ever listening to let alone attend one of their concerts. There were a lot of people disappointed that they didn’t win them so I let them roll the prize over to the next winner, and they were won by someone that was visibly disappointed that they hadn’t won them a moment earlier.

This year I won something I can always use so I kept it. I didn’t feel bad because I did share half of my tickets with someone, and one of my students won two prizes, one being the grand prize.

It’s exciting to win and it is often more exciting to share the bounty making others winners as well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Growing Up Is Hard

Do you remember the sadness you felt when you were growing up when you realized that you were suddenly too grown or old to do certain things that you really enjoyed when you were younger. Suddenly you realized you would no longer be view as cool or that you would look oafish doing something so you moved into adulthood leaving what you enjoyed as a fond memory.

I was a presenter at an agricultural workshop on Saturday. I was one of seven presenters. There were roughly 160 students or participants. The students would spend a half hour at each station listening and asking questions on each presenters’ expertise.

I have been a presenter at this event for probably five years now and one thing I really miss is going around hearing what the other presenters are talking about the way I did before I developed expertise.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Magic Sweater

Sometimes the things I do and say comes back to bite me in the ass.

I saw Blue Mamba this week. I complimented her on a very nice sweater she was wearing. It was a very attractive and colorful tweed knit. I told her that the colorfulness of her sweater reminded me of one of those Magic Eye pictures that you stare into and make your eyes un-focus and cross and suddenly a three dimensional picture pops out at you.

Blue Mamba turns her back to me and says, “Take a good look and you’ll see a Jesus Kite,”

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Real Me

Sometimes I can’t believe my own ears. OK, I was driving to Astoria one evening this week and I drive by a friend standing in her driveway. I see this person ever few months or so and it’s been about six months since I last saw her so I turn around and went back for a short visit.

Now this person reads this blog every morning. She is usually one of the first three here every morning, though she has never commented. I don’t mind that she doesn’t comment. It’s nice knowing she reads and that she is in touch with what I’m doing and thinking.

I’ve been to gatherings with this woman. I’ve visited her in her office on several occasions. She has always been very kind and generous with me. She will always come up to say hi if she sees me in the grocery store. We’ve talked about many of my articles together.

OK, here’s the weird thing. While visiting in her driveway she actually asked me if all the stuff I write in this blog is true. She wanted to know if I am a quirky as I portray myself to be. I was in her driveway with my dirty truck ; with an Eminem CD playing; with composting hay in the truck bed. At first I couldn’t believe she was asking this after all the chats we’ve had over the past two years, but upon later reflection I realized that there are probably a lot of readers out there that think I’m making all this stuff up.

I think it’s time I come clean and tell all you doubters out there that yes, it’s all true. If anything, I understate my quirks and my wayward activities.

P.S. I was driving Auntie and Silent Bob to the Crabs Festival yesterday because they didn't want to ride the shuttle buses like commoners. Anyway, Auntie gets in the truck and immediately says, "I can't believe you are listening to rap. How old are you anyway?" So I turn it way down so that it was nearly silent and when we get by the Fair Grounds asks, "Is that Eminem you're listening to?" Now how did she know it was Eminem when the volume was so low that one could barely hear it? I bet she's a closet listener.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cutting Glass

I once had an accounting teacher that often said, “No matter how fast you go through a puddle, a little mud has got to stick.” This makes me think of all the things I’ve learned over the years from classes I’ve takes. One particular class came in handy today and that was a stained glass class that I took years ago.

I finally got around to fixing all the broken glass in my greenhouse from the storm damage from last year and this year. I built the greenhouse about 15 years ago with glass that I got from people that were replacing their windows and glass doors in their homes. Wind and flying debris took its toll.

I had two glass door panels on the roof shift and crack. These panels were made before tempered glass was required in sliding doors. They were, however made from thick quarter inch glass. I was able to remove them without further breakage. I replaced the roof with new panels. There were several 40” X 17” windward windows that were blown out and I used the salvaged glass to replace them.

I still have all my glass tools; an oil filled cutter, T-square and nippers. The tricks to cutting it are to lubricate the glass with oil on the cutting line, hold the cutter as vertical as possible, score it in one motion and snap it apart quickly after scoring it. It takes a while learn to cut glass properly and it feels good knowing that I took important lessons away from my stained glass class. I can’t even imagine how much it would have cost had I used all new glass for this repair.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Laughter

I’m sure everyone has had a fit of uncontrollable laughter. I am talking about the kind of laughter that is so intense that you can’t catch your breath and it’s usually over the stupidest things.

The stage was set. It was around 5pm. I just finished the project I had been working on all day and I decided to sit down and drink some water. There was stillness in the air. There were no frogs croaking; there was no wind. The neighbors weren’t running lawn mowers, motorcycles or string trimmers. No dogs were barking; no guns were being shot. It was quiet; totally quiet like it was before I had neighbors.

As I sipped my water the silence was broken by one neighbor somewhere that shouted, seemingly in disbelief rather than anger, one word, “Asshole!”

Asshole is such a funny word when you think about. I mean, really, think about and to call oneself or someone else an asshole is just downright funny. I’m laughing as I write this and it happened six hours ago.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No Government?

I keep hearing that Government is not the solution. Consider this, maybe it is. The government does things that we as individuals don’t want to do or can’t do.

Yes, there is waste in government, but look at all the waste in your own life. How much garbage do you produce? How much have you purchased that has never been used and sits in a garage or a closet. It is human nature to waste and justify it.

I have to admit that it feels pretty good to be able to leave my driveway and drive on thousands of miles of roads that government paid for. It feels good knowing that I can pick up my phone and dial three numbers and have a government paid public safety person respond to my concerns. It feels good that I can look at pictures from the government funded Hubble Telescope. It is nice not having beggars come to my door. It’s nice knowing that no matter how dire someone’s financial situation is, their children will have opportunities to be fed, clothed and educated. It feels good that there are standard measurements from coast to coast.

I can point out as many failures of government, but we learn from things that fail, at least I hope we learn. So to you anti tax/anti government people out there, what services that our government supplies you are you willing to give up? I don’t mean services that are provided to others that you don’t use or support, I mean the services provided to you that you do use.

For those of you Tea Party participants if you got all your tax money back would you maintain the pavement in the front of your property? Would you help feed, clothe and educate your down on their luck neighbors children? Can I call you to investigate a crime at my house? Probably not. More than likely you will spend it on future land-fill items that will not benefit anyone but yourself and more than likely it won't even benefit you.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blind Faith

I once was talking with a friend about an acquaintance that seemed to have gone over the deep end in religion. My friend said to me that he wished that he too could embrace some sort of faith in something with total blind commitment and resolve so that he would feel that everything would be OK in the end.

I think back to times in my life when I actually believed in things for short periods of time. I have always been a skeptic. The nuns that tried to teach me when I was in grade school got tired of me questioning their dogma. Eventually it would come down to their be-all end-all answer, “It’s the mystery of the faith.” I’d shoot them the “That’s Bullshit” look and then the topic would change to something I wouldn’t question.

There are answers that are totally unacceptable to me when I am skeptical. One of which is “Because it is in the Bible.” Look folks, I have as much faith in the Bible being a true accurate accounting of events that actually took place as I have in Lord of the Rings being accurate and reflective of true events.

Other than religion, I can’t see how people can blindly commit to political parties. Neither MSNBC or Fox have anything to do with truth and reality let alone fairness and balance. It is so odd to see people getting up on their hind legs because of created mass hysteria be it Tea Parties or anti LNG rallies. It seems that people embrace their lack of objectiveness and like to focus their tunnel vision without regard to reality.

It would be such a luxury to agree and resign ones destiny to a belief. I envy those that feel they know their faith is a reality and not understand how others don’t see their truth as fact. It would also be nice to live in Oz, or Willy Wanka's Chocolate Factory.

Monday, April 20, 2009

All from Impressions

If you look at impressionist art you can often see exactly what inspired the artist. Keep that thought in mind as I digress.

Kite flying is difficult in a neighborhood with so many obstacles such as trees and utility poles and lines. Kites are meant for open fields and the beach.

Three of us were riding horses at the beach on Sunday. There was a lot of traffic on the beach and there were also a lot of kites in the air. Kites freak horses out. It’s like throwing a Frisbee over the chicken yard. Chickens just go nuts when anything large flies over them at a low altitude. Horses must imagine kites to be dragons, especially when they rip back and forth and dive and ascend at high speed.

When riding on the beach so many things freak horses out like the surf, the line between the wet sand and the dry sand, shore birds, dogs, children and the general vastness. Riding horses at the beach is often no day at the beach, if you know what I mean.

OK, I’ll digress further while tie it all together. So we were riding our horses on the beach and I spotted a kite in the distance. It wasn’t a diamond shaped kite, it wasn’t one of those modern winged kites and it wasn’t a box kite. Do they even make box kites anymore? It was more like a diamond shaped kite without the straight line between the points. It had curved material between the points.

This left me with an impressionist image for me to undo in my mind. Then it dawned on me. I asked my riding partners if they saw anything in the kite in the distance. They didn’t see what I was seeing until I shared my vision with them. I told them that we needed to go into the kite business where we will make Jesus Kites; then one of my companions saw it and said, “We need to name it Cruci-Kites.” Our other riding partner just smiled and shook her head in silence.

Here’s what it might look like when flown in a neighborhood:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Magic Jack Review

I’m sure most of you have seen the ads for Magic Jack and oddly there isn’t a lot of talk going around about it. I got one, and it is problematic for several reasons.

Magic jack is a USB device that plugs into your computer with which you can make quasi free phone calls, or let’s say unlimited calls within the US and Canada for $19 per year.

First, to get one with a 30 money back guarantee you need to use a credit card, not a debit card. With a debit card you are charged immediately, with a credit card they don’t bill you for 30 days, though web reviews claim it is very difficult to return the device.

Next, some USB ports don’t have enough juice to power the unit so you may need to get a USB hum that plugs into the wall.

Once you plug it in it is self installing. You are asked your location so it can assign you a somewhat local number. Mine is a Portland number. You need to wait a couple of hours before your number is assigned and once it is it pops up on your screen display. You can dial from your computer or from the phone connected to it. This device has voice messaging and caller ID at no extra charge.

The connection quality is weird. I seems like it sounds good, but people on the other end say that I echo and occasionally cut out, kind of like some cell phones. I am presently on a 5mbps service. I don’t know if the sound is better with a 10mbps set up. It would be easier if I ended every statement with the word ”Over” so the person on the other end would know when they can begin speaking.

Another problem is that if your computer goes to sleep so does your phone and you may need to unplug and re-plug it in again to reboot.

In conclusion I’m not that thrilled with it and I wouldn’t recommend purchasing one. I hope future generations of this device will improve in quality.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Like many people I live in fear of forgetting things. I work better from lists so I can check off what I’ve done and focus on what is before me. Sometimes I forget to make lists.

I waste a lot of time by forgetting. I’ll be ready to get to work on a project and realize that I have to go back into the shop to get a tool. Then I forget the right size screw and I go back again, then I find I’m missing a part and search for that and end up going to the hardware store. It’s a wonder I ever get anything done.

I forget my sister’s birthday every year. Even if I mark it on the calendar I forget get. I no longer try to remember phone numbers; not even my own cell phone number. I have no idea what my license plate number is.

I went grocery shopping with a list last night. I know my list is only an impression of what I think I need to get, but I always forget to add things. There was something in the back of my head that was nagging me that I was forgetting something that I’ve been needing to get for weeks that never makes it onto my list because I keep forgetting it. It was something made of paper. I went through a mental list of paper products that are available. I don’t use paper plates, napkins, or cups. I don’t buy newspapers anymore; the Oregonian is all fluff and the Astorian is totally a biased propaganda hand puppet of its publisher. I didn’t need a sketch pad.

In a flash I remembered I needed envelopes and furthermore it jogged my memory to remind me I needed power steering fluid. I felt good that my memory finally worked but was soon returned to reality when I got home and realized I forgot to get postage stamps.

Oh, and before you suggest I use Ginko Biloba, I have a bottle of it and I always forget to take it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Farm Trucks

I always get a laugh when ever I see one of those commercials that are selling some brand of agricultural products. The farms are quiet wonderland s of sweet farm children, old tractors and well kept pick-up trucks with bushel baskets of apples.

I’ve never seen a farm truck that was in any road worthy condition out in the field. Most farm trucks are too broken to fix economically, but they still run and can haul things around. The farm that I worked on as a boy had a farm truck. It didn’t have breaks. It was missing body parts and there were cracks in the windshield and the mirrors were missing. However at 14 years of age I learned how to drive with that truck hauling flats of tomatoes or whatever we pre-grew in the greenhouse out to the fields to be planted. At harvest time I would drive that truck loaded with bushels of tomatoes, corn, peppers, egg plant, squash or crates of cabbage.

Whenever my present truck develops a new quirk I call it a farm truck. So far two windows won’t roll down, the blinkers get stuck on without flashing. There is a crack in the windshield and there is a dent on the tail-gate. How long before it is left to rust in a pasture.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bubbles, The Modern Vernacular of Destruction

It seems that after Watergate all scandals picked up the suffix of the word “Gate” in an attempt to suggest or high-light corruption and cover-up. It is an uncreative means of sensationalizing while soft selling a concept. Each scandal should have enough merits that it should be able to be called by its own name.

Another lazy thing I’ve noticed has been the use of the word bubble. First there was the burst of the Dot-Com bubble and more recently it was the Real Estate Bubble and Mortgage Bubble that burst. I’ve also heard the term Economic Bubble.

While living in a bubble means one is protected and insulated from influence, bubbles are closed spheres. I can somewhat understand the bubble analogy since something is artificially inflated and is destroyed by greed. The term “bubble burst” seems to over romanticize what historically happens when times that are good turn bad.

I’m surprised that more descriptive phrases haven’t come about in recent years. The bubble is too much like a replaceable toy. It could have been so much more colorful:
The Dot-Com 404
The Mortgage Massacre
The Economic Elysian Field
The Market Death March

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Why is it that men and women are so verbally different? Men seem content just to process things by thinking about them while women need to verbalize to process their feelings. Communication seems to the number 1 cause of relationship problems between the sexes and I’m sure that is the number 1 topic at marriage counseling sessions.

I’ve written about this before (August 2006), but at that time I was writing about my distrust of talkative men. The fact is that on average, women speak 24,000 words per day where men speak only 12,000 words per day. Women are constantly trying to coax their men into talking more, however men don’t ever seem to try to get their women to speak less.

It is totally unnatural for men to talk as much as women. Believe me women that if you ever do coax your man into being chatty you may be opening Pandora’s Box. You may never forgive yourself when you see what we have been thinking and what we have to say and most of all what we’ve been suppressing for all these years. It isn’t pretty. Just back off and no one will get hurt.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Reasons to Be Late In Astoria

Having always been punctual I anticipate everything when I go places and try to give myself at least 20 minutes head start. Here on the coast there is a different sense of time where late is a way of life. It is rare that anything starts on time here because the late factor is built into nearly every function. Sometimes being early can work to ones advantage.

Lateness causes a brief explanation that is generally understood and approved. Here is a list of pre-approved excuses for being late:

1. I got stuck behind a school bus. Out on the narrow country roads there are few spots where a school bus can pull over to let traffic by, so one has to hang back while the bus stops at every house and driveway for a country mile or two. Good for a 20 minute delay.

2. Water in the road. You know that anyone coming from Cannon Beach or down Hwy 202 during high tide after a heavy rain is going to be late. Good for up to a four hour delay.

3. Slide. Mud slides are common on Hwy 202, Lewis and Clark Road and Highway 30. Good for a one hour delay.

4. Chip Truck. This means another chip truck flipped by the curve west of the John Day Boat Ramp. Good for a two hour delay.

5. Black ice. People here still don’t fully understand how to drive on ice. Good for a two to four hour delay.

6. Bridge was up. There are three major draw bridges in the Astoria/Warrenton area. Each causes the occasional ten minute delay, however some how roll up to make for a 20 to 30 minute delay for traffic. If you time it right you can be part of two bridge openings from the same boat and get delayed for an hour.

7. Cows. When they are in the road drivers have to stop and often try to herd them back into their confines. This is fun to watch when people do this not knowing the nature of cows. Good for a 30 minute delay.

8. Elk. They don't even have to be in the road. They can be grazing in a field and people have to stop and gawk. That's a 20 minute delay.

A skillful chronically late person can combine several of the excuses above and not show up at all.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Sadly one of the nasty things about living in the country is that we become the dumping ground for unwanted pet. Maybe it’s because our animal shelter is often burdened by animals that are rescued from collectors.

The photo above is of my cat Abby. One day I saw this tiny kitten skulking across our deck trying to get out of the rain. Being feral, she tried to make herself really small and I thought she just had really short legs. I thought she was a wiener cat. After seeing her hanging out for a couple of days I put some food out for her and she soon became comfortable eating what we provided. I couldn’t get close to her.

Knowing how short the life span of feral is, I wanted to habilitate her; she showed some nice personality traits, but she was shy and frightened. I caught her in my Have-A-Heart trap and I brought her in the house to get her out of the cold. We kept her in one of our bathrooms for a couple of days with food, water and a warm place to sleep.

We were able to get her into a cat carrier to take her to a vet to make sure she didn’t have feline leukemia. The vet found her healthy and guessed her age at six to eight weeks. We brought her back home and let her have run of the house so it would be imprinted as her home. After another week of good feeding she went into heat, which made her about six-months old. It was her lack of good nutrition that dwarfed her. She was and still is a tiny cat now that she is nine years old.

Abby is still squirrely. She will not allow us to touch her as long as we are standing up. She has no problem hopping up on our laps if we are sitting down. She has no vices as far as clawing the rugs or furniture. She is quiet and she hides well. The funny thing about her is that she always looks like she is angry, even when she is purring contently. I know she isn’t angry, she just has one of those scowly looks about her.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Review From the Cheap Seats

I know most of you don’t like television, but it’s a way I veg out and avoid recreational drug use. Anyway, I have some observations:

The Deadliest Catch, who the hell is eating all that Alaskan King Crab? I haven’t had King Crab in over 20 years. King crab, like artichokes is simply an excuse to eat butter.

Axe Men: Don’t these guys know they are on TV and every nasty thing they say about one another is going to be seen by the others? I just watch so I can see Jay run his saw with his mechanical hand.

American Logger: This show has actual polite loggers with trucks that are way over loaded. This show centers around trucks and equipment either sliding off the road and overturning, getting stuck in the mud or getting stuck in the snow.

Ice Road Truckers: This would have been interesting as a one hour documentary, but a third season? Don’t the viewers get it? What's next, a show about root canals?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Recycling Agricultural Material

Agriculture has turned to plastics in a big way, and most times all this plastic ends up in land fills across the country. Think of it, there are Ag-Bags, those long plastic tubes that contain hay for cattle, there are plastic flower pots and plant containers, there is deer netting, some feeds come in plastic sacks, there is plastic film that is used as greenhouse roofs that needs to be replaces when it gets old and there is baling twine.

Though agricultural recyclers deal in bulk, they aren't interested in us small timers dropping off our baling twine that we collected from our last load of hay. It is better if you can form a group that can send all their stuff off once a year in bulk. It would be nice if one of the local ag suppliers would start a recycling collection program. I know it would be a big headache, but if grocery stores can recycle cans bottles and plastic bags shouldn't all businesses be set up to recycle the packaging material they sell?

Depending on where you live, the site linked below may be able to help you find a Ag recyclers in your area. If your area isn't covered, simply do a search "(your State)agricultural recycling" and you should find something.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Stepping Up to the Plate

With all the lay–offs around the country I’ve been seeing elevated tension in several blogs that I read. How does one get a job when few are hiring and those that get the jobs are the cream of the crop.

I’ve spoken with a few of my friends that own companies that employ a lot of people and they are telling me that though it is sad that people are losing their livelihoods this has been an opportunity to cut the wheat from the chaff. These lean times are forcing them to be creative to keep their businesses alive. It is also a good time to show the door to employees that are unwilling to step up to the plate.

I am surprised that in these times some workers will not bend to pick up some slack, make an extra effort to make themselves noticed for being a valued employee.

My brother told me about his daughter who never refuses to do a task at her job and asks if there is anything else she can do. She will do her job anywhere and anytime; nights or weekends, it doesn’t matter. People in her company are being laid off in record numbers, but she continues to get assignments.

I am reminded of a cat that once lived with us. He was a lazy cat that lived to eat and sleep. We brought a new kitten home and thinking he was going to lose his cushy life with us he went out and showed us his worth. For nearly two weeks he spent the days and nights hunting leaving no fewer than five mice, voles and moles at our door step every day. He eventually became secure in his old ways when he realized we weren’t going to replace him.

I find it strange that my cat had a better understanding of how things work in the world of business and industry than many human workers.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Where Does It End Up?

As I write this I am watching American Masters on Public Television and the show is on my favorite composer, Philip Glass. The show is about his life, his family and his music. It also showed him in his homes in New York City and Canada. As I look at his collection of art and trinkets I realized just how much money I’ve spent over the years buying his recordings and tickets to his operas and concerts and seeing films he had scored.

I watch this show wondering if some of the stuff he owns came directly from my lurker. I mean he had to pay for that stuff with someone’s money. You know that when you hire someone to build a house for you and after they are paid you can see that they’ve purchased a new truck as a result of what you paid them you see your dollars being put to work and it’s all good. However, when you pay your taxes you can only hope your money goes toward causes you care about and not towards a thousand dollar toilet seat.

I hope my Philip Glass money went toward a piece of art that all his friends and family now enjoy.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Come On Out

I once met a local blogger that was obsessed with the lurkers that visited her blog. It simply drove her mad that people would read her stuff and not identify themselves and comment. I guess she wasn’t getting enough applause and recognition for what she considered the genius of her cranial drippings.

Years ago I had a stat counter on this blog and I kept an eye on my hits like it was the stock market, but one day I realized that I was writing more for myself and I didn’t care if anyone was reading. This blog to me is a way of getting ideas out of my head so I can move on to think about other things.

I do still have a stat counter account and I consult it once in a while just to see how many unique visitors come this way. I’m not a real stat whore. I don’t tag my posts with key words that draw people in from all over. Most of the readers here come from blogs that I follow and comment on. I get hits from between 60 and 80 unique visitors a day, of which there are about ten readers that comment here on a regular basis.

I mention this because just in the last three days three lurkers have come out of the closet. One, my nephew’s girlfriend who just had a baby commented on my anti social post earlier this week. Another reader from Virginia emailed me, and someone I went for a horseback ride with on Sunday told me she reads as well. It’s funny because you never really know who is reading. It’s a good thing I’ve been behaving lately.

So I extend a warm welcome to all you lurkers out there. Don’t be shy if you feel like commenting. I’m just a dopey blogger. I don’t bite people other than Auntie, g, Moose and Darev. If you don’t feel like commenting; that’s OK, too.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

My Mexican Pet

If you live on the West Coast, more than likely someone you know will have traveled to Mexico during the last year. When they come back they will usually come back with some sort of trinket for you. Just about everywhere I go I notice that people have the little colorful carved wood trinkets like in the photo above. I have been given my share over my years here.

By the way, I said West Coast because I found that most people on the East Coast go South in the winter, not Southwest. They have their own trinkets back there.

A few years ago someone brought me a new brightly painted wooden figurine from Mexico. I placed it in a place of honor, but after a couple of days I noticed that there was a tiny pile of saw dust around the base. Every morning there was a fresh pile of sawdust which I would sweep away. I told others about it and I got all sorts of suggestions. One person said to put it in the microwave, but I didn’t want to kill whatever was in there. I was fascinated by it and I wanted to see how it would go on.

Over the following months the creature bored several other holes in which it dumped a steady stream of sawdust, but one day it ended. It took about six months for the little creature to complete its life span. I was hoping it left behind some hatchlings, but after a year had passed I knew nothing was ever going to enjoy the tunnels again.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sick Day XXV

I am sick of Auntie always saying my recent Sick Day posts are lame, bitch!

I am sick of cars that turn off their own headlights five minutes after you park them and turn them off. I warn people all the time that their lights are on, and they tell me they will go off on their own. I've now stopped warning people, so those truly in need of the warning will have dead batteries thanks to all the assholes that employ what they think is a cool feature. If I open the door to my truck when the lights are on I hear an alarm. That’s enough of a warning for me. I also can’t lock my truck if the lights are on. Isn't that enough?

Finally, I’m sick of women on Facebook that use a photo of themselves in a wedding dress. What are you, a bragger or are you that insecure? Are you just wanting to hang a No Trespassing sign on yourself? Are you saying, “I got a man legally and now I can relax?” I don’t care how many times you’ve been told that you are a beautiful bride, no one, and I mean no one looks good in a wedding dress. It’s like wearing a giant white Oldsmobile. It is a total man replant. I think that’s why they were invented, so guys at the wedding reception wouldn’t hit on the bride. I’m sure I have a few brides and brides to be pissed off at me right now, but hey it’s the truth regardless if you want to hear it or not. Wedding dresses are made for women for the purpose rubbing it in the faces of other women. I’m sick of it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

That's Garbage

I was pulling Donna’s leg on her blog the other day. She wrote about having to dig through her garbage to find something she had thrown away. She said she dug through coffee grounds, carrot peels and cardboard boxes. Anyone that has a garden, or chickens, or a dog and a local place to recycle things should have a minimal amount ofgarbage.

I am always shocked when I see that someone has thrown a newspaper or a can or bottle in the trash. Anyone that stays with us gets to hear how we separate things and we encourage them to follow our ways while they stay with us. I have a compost bucket under the sink for coffee grounds, banana peels, egg shells and things I don’t feed the chickens. That stuff is mixed with our horse manure and lawn clippings and eventually ends up in the garden.

There is another container that I use for kitchen scraps for the chickens. The horses get any apples or carrots that get old. Any fat or bacon grease gets melted down and mixed with bird seed and turned into home-made suit cakes that I store in the freezer to feed the birds the following winter. Cardboard, cans, bottles, office paper and newspaper gets recycled. I burn the paper that can’t be recycled.

I know that people find it hard to believe that I only take my trash to the transfer station once a year and that it all fits in one load in my six foot truck bed. As a better example, I saved an empty two and a half pound nut jar from Costco and I’ve been putting my un-recyclable trash in there for the last two weeks and I’ll probably get one or two more weeks of content in there before I can no longer fit anything in it.

I’m sure I’ll still have a full truck when I go to the transfer station this year. There will be broken things and construction waste from when I re-roof my shop this summer and when I replace some broken glass from the greenhouse, but it is always my goal to create a little waste as possible.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Not the Social Type

I guess I’m not so good about staying in touch with people, especially family. It’s not that anyone brought this to my attention, it was just a passing thought.

I always promise my mother that I will call her in a couple of weeks every time I speak with her on the phone and before I know it four months has passed. I speak with my sister maybe twice a year and she is the one that usually calls. My brother lives about 500 feet from me and I only see him once a month.

I have several nephews and nieces and the only one I hear from is Robb, who replies to this blog every now and then. Robb got married last summer and he gave the net address where I could view the photos. I didn’t recognize anyone. I barely recognized Robb. There was one niece and three other nephews there. They all look so old now. I remember them the way they were in 1980 or there about.

I got an email from another nephew recently which I nearly deleted before opening because I didn’t recognize the name. It’s a good thing I didn’t delete it because it was a photo of his and his wife’s or girlfriends new baby which I was to print out and give to my computer-less brother.. See, I don’t even know if he is married. His baby is probably in school already…I am so out of touch.

I also have two nieces from my brother that is deceased. I think the last time I saw them was when one was ten and the other younger, probably seven. The younger one was out to visit my brother recently. I waited around all day, but I had an evening engagement to attend to, so I missed meeting her. She’s been back twice more and I have yet to meet her. Her sister invited us to her wedding a few years ago, and I didn’t go. It was right in the middle of some family health tragedy that went on for months at my place. I didn’t even send a gift, which I regret. Believe me I look for reasons to go to Canada, and I passed up a trip for the wedding.

I suck at being an uncle, and I guess it’s safe to say I don’t feel too bad about it either. I was never good at keeping in touch with my uncles and aunts and there is really no reason my nephews and nieces should keep in touch with me. I probably would have sucked at being a parent, but I did manage to avoid that. I guess I lack the sentimentality gene.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Single Trait Selection

Today I am going to touch on the agricultural abomination known as “single trait selection.” STS has been used in the breeding of most animals for hundreds of years. If you have a specialty dog it was more than likely a product of STS. It was bread to have those long ears or that powerful upper body or the webbed feet. The breeders found a trait in one animal that seemed beneficial and bread more animals that had that trait. Sooner or later it becomes a focal point of an entire breed.

It’s OK to do it to dogs, but what about chickens? There is a breed of chickens that have been created called the Cornish Cross. Last year I got some because I heard they were good meat chickens as opposed to being good layers. What I quickly found out was that they were Franken-Birds. As soon as they got their feathers they were so enormous that they could barely walk. They would sit or lay down in or around their food source and never move and never stop eating. In weeks they became larger than any chicken I had ever seen. I let them live even longer, close to four months before I slaughtered them. They were the size of turkeys, probably 20 pounds each.

These chickens were bread for meat. They are too fat to breed to one another, all fertilization is done artificially. Another thing is that within six months this breed usually dies of a heart attack. An observer can see it coming because their red combs and wattles turn blue a couple of days before they die. When they die it is called "Flip-Over Disease."

As I said I slaughtered mine and it was problematic since they were too large to fit in the killing cone. They met their fate on a stump with a hatchet. However, even while I was eating them I couldn’t get over the fact that I was eating some weird mutant of single trait selection.

I was offered some Cornish Crosses this year and I quickly turned down the offer. It was painful to look at them constantly wallowing in their food. Yes, they are quick meat producer and can be slaughtered before most other chicks get fully in feather, but there is just something wrong with it. It’s just wrong…that’s all.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Free Meals

When I was a 15 year old kid a friend got me a job at a Catholic Seminary as a switchboard operator. The photo above is of the building I worked in. It was a cool job for a kid. It was indoors and there wasn’t much to do but transfer calls, sort mail, read magazines and watch TV. The switchboard had four outside lines so I could call three of my friends and we could all talk at once. When no one was there I even used the fourth line. Five people on the line at once; I was a star of me peers.

The building I worked in housed six priest, the Seminary library, two classrooms and the dining facility for the priests. One of the perks of the job was that meals were included. The priests were well fed and they ate in a traditional formal Jacobean dining room. I, on the other hand ate in the office. I’d get a phone call from Regina, a round Polish cook with a New York accent. Every night I answer the phone and on the other end I’d hear Regina say, “Come git-cha supper.”

Before I could hang up the phone I could hear Regina closing the hatch on the dumb-waiter. By the time I made it to the kitchen a steaming plate of whatever with lots of potatoes was waiting for me on the first floor. I’d grab a beverage from the fridge and I’d make my way back to the office.

The funny thing is I can’t remember what sort of food she served. All I remembers is there were always lots of potatoes. There was another cook that worked on Regina’s days off. Her name was Lorna, and her meals were lighter, fresher and less dependent on starch as filler. No matter who was cooking the meals were always welcome and something to look forward to.

Eventually I started working nights there when I went to college. There were no late night staff besides myself, but I had run of the kitchen and was allowed to cook anything I wanted. The cooks for the students would arrive at 4:00 am to start breakfast. I’d get a full breakfast before heading off to school. I was even allowed to eat there on my days off. Think of my budget, getting three meals a day for free while I was in college. I know college kids that would kill for that arrangement.

Tonight I sit here writing, wondering what I’ll have to make myself for dinner after I finish this post. I would love for the phone to ring and hear Regina’s voice on the other end saying, “Come git-cha supper.”

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What Ownes You

I was at Costco recently and as I parked I saw someone placing some large boxes in the bed of their pick-up truck. One thing was a new TV and another box was a printer and there were some other things. As I watched the boxes go from the cart to the truck I has sympathetic buyers remorse for that family.

I used to live a very simple life where most of my possessions could be moved in two loads of a Subaru wagon, but in the last twenty years I too succumb to being a possessor of stuff. I’ve never gotten over my earlier ways to the point where I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I install something new into the house. It’s mostly the left over cardboard boxes that bother me because they show nearly the exact volume you are losing in your space.

There are so many space robbers. Think of how much counter space you lose if you have a microwave oven. I know that new HD TV is really cool, but if you need to get new furniture to accommodate you are losing some major space.

Yes I understand that there are some space savers, like people getting rid of their land line phones and going totally cellular, and that desk top computers are being replaced by lap tops and CD players are much smaller than turn tables and CDs take up less room than vinyl records, but we still have a lot of stuff that takes up way too much room. Most people don’t park in their garages because they already have too much stuff in their garages.

So to the family, I do feel for you. Though you think you’ve taken a step forward, you actually may not have when you find your possessions own you.