Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Predictions for 2010

As I look into my crystal ball I can see the future of many of those that replied to my blog posts over the last year. Here goes:

Ann Samuelson will start a line of inspirational self-help books and motivational posters.

Dalia will find the perfect winter boots in May.

Auntie will build a still out in the garden shed and make blackberry alcohol.

Mo3 will get sick of dogs and put them all up for adoption.

Darev will become a prison shop teacher.

Joni will let me know when the Bradwood Landing cigarette lighters are ready for the SWAG bag.

Tango will be thankful she never got involved with PT Cruisers because Tattoos are a bitch to remove.

Meadowlark will re-enlist in the Marines as the Captain of the bakery.

Donna will get a show on RFD-TV.

Critter will adopt a cougar that wants to eat her husband’s head.

Jaggy will convert to traditional Mormonism and she'll live a life of polygamy, except she will have three husbands and no sister wives.

Blue Mamba will get married if she ever stops driving the loop long enough to receive a proposal.

Heather will finish watching Bliss and finish reading that other book.

Syd will have her sister committed and take custody of TLF.

RichPix will move back to Astoria and become the staff photographer for Bradwood Landing.

Jeff will donate his ugly boots to a charity auction and buy them back for $1.55.

Trop will buy a share in a NASCAR racer. She will own a 10k steering wheel.

CB will get a rubber suit so she can bounce back up the next time she falls or gets tossed out of a meeting.

Beth will go to back to school and learn the trade of pest exterminator and a she'll get a degree in home repair.

g will get the contract to build the Walmart in Warrenton and the Daily Astorian will begin smearing him again because Walmart doesn’t do any print ads.

Lori Hahn will move to Astoria and date people Auntie and I advise her not to.

Amy will move to the UK and will sadly miss Texas after only two weeks.

Weese will move to Long Island, grow big hair and buy a Jaguar.

Moose will become famous for drinking binges, playing practical jokes on everyone and messing with women from South America...Oh wait, he already does all of those things. I suppose he will continue doing all that again this year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Indoor Plumbing

My post on old coal furnaces yesterday got me thinking on another subject. I’ve lived in three houses that were originally built without indoor plumbing. There were a lot of such old homes in the town that I came from. The outhouse was the standard back in the day when houses were built before the 1920s. Both houses I lived in still had their outhouses intact. My mother’s house still has one attached to some out buildings. That was a deluxe one with three seats of differing sizes a divided glass window and plaster walls.

When it became a modern standard to have indoor plumbing one needed to find a place to put a bathroom. In the case of my mother’s house they decided to plumb a large storage closet that also housed the door to the attic. In the case of my other house and many houses like it; most homes had a front and a back porch. Instead of losing an entire interior room, most opted to enclose their back porches. This was a pretty simple solution since it is easier to plumb a new structure then to refit something already existing. It’s easier bringing a tub into a room with no walls than it is to bring one through a narrow door.

I’m very sure this was the case with my present home. I’ve done enough digging around the property to have a good idea where the outhouse was. The original bathroom was built onto the back end of the house which was the porch in the early 40s.

This is not so much of a post about romanticizing outhouses. Having used many of them in places I’ve stayed in primitive conditions I can tell you there is little to feel warm and fuzzy about in one. Outhouses weren’t all that near to houses. The wells were usually closer. I can’t imagine slogging a hundred through the snow to find cold wooden seats as a point of relief. I’m more interested in the architectural aspect of creating a necessity in a place that wasn’t designed for it. It was a challenge that somehow was always met out of necessity, yet blended into the house as though it was always there.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just Grate

My home has a heat pump and forced hot air as its heating source. The vents for the heat are in the floor. Everyone knows where to stand when they need to have their toes warmed quickly. This brings to mind the older homes that I lived in the past.

I’ve never lived in a new home. This home is probably the youngest having been built in 1925 but I have added ne modern additions since, so it is kind of new. However most of the houses I’ve lived in previously were originally built with coal furnaces. There was a coal bin in every basement, which was a room with outside access like a window. The coal delivery truck would come and chute your bin full and a couple times a day you would have to shovel coal into the furnace, bank the flame by dampering it down. Every so often you’d have to haul your ashes and clinkers.

I don’t recall the last time I saw someone getting a coal delivery, probably not since the late 50. Most of those coal stoves had been replaced or converted to gas or oil furnaces, as was the last house I lived in. There was a large three- foot square heating grate in the floor. On cold mornings one would stand there before venturing to any other room in the house. If your home was a two story house there would be a grate on a ceiling somewhere above the larger floor grate. This was the heat source for the next floor.

One house I owned had an upstairs kitchen and the heat source was a cooking wood stove that was converted to gas. The fire box on the side was sufficient to heat the entire place.

I have to say that the designers of these conversion kits were pretty bright. These heaters were able to keep going for many years. They were pretty efficient as well. Everyone thinks that when they upgrade to the new and modern heating system that they will be saving a lot of money. Each time I went to a modern furnace to replace a refitted model my consumption usually went up by at least 30%.

I have to admit that I sometimes miss the romantic notion of standing on the heating grate in the morning, just as a lizard will sit on a rock until the sun warms its core temperature before it goes along with its day.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Slipping Away

We don’t ride the horses often enough at this time of year. It’s usually too rainy, cold, windy and let’s not forget the days are really short above the 45th parallel. Saturday looked like the day to go riding on the beach so we took the blankets off and put the saddles on and loaded them into the trailer.

As we approached the soccer fields on Ridge Road the engine in the truck started racing. The transmission was slipping, badly. At the risk of totally killing the truck we turned around and headed back home. It is difficult to get a tow when you have a trailer with two horses attached. The engine had to rev at a high RPM to get us going again after every stop, but we finally made it home. Today I will seek mechanical help. I’m hoping it is just a clogged filter or something simple.

Fortunately I have enough hay to last a month, but this has put a serious damper on my run to the lumber yard. I was counting on finishing some projects this week. It’s always something.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sniff, Sniff ...

It’s interesting how smell can permeate everything. I grew up in a town where you could tell which section of town someone lived in just by their smell. There were folk that smelled like the steel mill. There were people that smelled like paint fumes from the Ford assembly plant. There were folks that smelled like wood smoke from the poorer sections of town. There was one kid that smelled like rye bread.

These days, thanks to the Oregon Clean Air Act you can go just about anywhere and not smell anything. Sure the tire shop will always smell like new tires and a new car will hopefully always smell like a new car, but you can go and spend an entire evening in a bar and not leave smelling like tobacco smoke. You can go into a restaurant and leave without a trace of any ethnic culture wafting from your clothing.

This comes to mind because I had coffee with a friend this week in a local coffee house that also serves food. When I got back into my truck I could smell all these food smells on me. Hours later I could still smell their food on me and I didn’t even eat anything. After an hour of not being able to shake the smell my mind started equating it as a stink. I eventually had to go home, shower and change.

As an end result, I probably won’t be going there again. So, all you readers can add that to my list of quirks. I know you’re keeping track.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Escape Artist

I have a friend that has two horses. When I go away she takes care of my horses and when she goes away I take care of hers. She and her family went away for the Christmas weekend so I am taking care of her ranch. Unfortunately when they left in haste they didn’t close the gate at the end of their driveway. I drove up to their place in the pre-dawn hours to find their one escape artist standing in the road.

Often times a horse that liberates itself has an objection to being recaptured. I tried to lure her home by putting food out for the other horse. I called her name. Nothing worked so I grabbed a halter and a rope wan walked out to the road. I approached her indirectly and slowly, talking to her the entire time. She ran when I reached out for her. I’m now thinking I’ll be chasing this mare through the clear-cut all morning, but I figured I’d try other horse catching techniques. I walked a couple steps away from her and bent over slightly like I was bowing but not rising back up. I slapped my leg twice and she cane toward me. I held out my hand and she came to sniff it. I then stroked her nose and slipped the halter on her.

Her pasture mate was relieved upon her return. I finished setting out the rest of their hay and I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t lose my friends horse. I closed the gate at the driveway when I left. I hope all will be in order when I return for their feeding tonight.

Friday, December 25, 2009


I was recently asked what my all-time favorite Christmas present was. Though we haven’t participated in Christmas since the kids moved on their own and we haven’t looked back, I had a hard time recalling any gifts I have ever gotten. I could remember interesting things I have given to others because I always went overboard, but I had a hard time remembering anything memorable that came my way.

I finally remembered three things in over 50 years. I remembered the tricycle I got when I was four years old. Next I remember a toy that I got when I was about 7 years old. It was called Form X-7 and that was a kit that melted wax and you could pour them into forms. Now that I think of it I wonder how that wax came out so clean without using a release lubricant on the forms. Next I remembered my sister got me the first Crosby Stills and Nash album when it first came out.

I’m sure I had received things that were memorable, but I don’t recall if they were Christmas, birthday or spontaneous gifts. I am very fond of a tool kit and a miter saw I’ve received in the past. I still use them often.

Anyway, if you are still doing all this Christmas stuff, please make an effort to remember the kindness of others even if their gifts are destined for the land fill.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Bronze Age

Retro is getting so retro these days. We are now getting retro on things that were retro in the 50s from another period. I recall going to friends houses when I was growing up and often time you would spot a pair of bronzed baby shoes somewhere on a book shelf or a mantle.

Parents save the nuttiest stuff from their kids. In my baby book there are locks of my hair from my first haircut. Here’s a weird one, there is a lacquered wish bone from the first turkey I ever ate, which must be some sort of Irish luck thing. My mother being both Irish and superstitious (like one can be Irish without being superstitious) sealed my fate with fortune by including that wish bone in my baby book. I’m still alive, so I can’t complain.

There is now a resurgence of people getting the children’s first baby shoes bronzed and it’s actually inexpensive. The prices range from around $40 to over $500 depending on if you want precious metals or what sort of mounting you’d like.

The process is one of electroplating rather than foundry pouring. Here’s a video if you are interested.
The Bronze Age

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dam Kids

I’ve written many stories here in the past about the Bean Field. This was field that used to be across the street from the home where I grew up. As I got older more and more of the Bean Field was developed. It started on the North end with a Ford Dealership and then the development moved South of that to include an A&P with a strip mall.

With all the development, the top soil had to be relocated to level the grade for the buildings. Graders and earth mover deposited vast amounts of soil behind the site for the A&P. This area was the final relatively flat area before a sand and rock quarry where much of a large hill had been removed.

A few small natural springs ran from the open ground of the quarry. They filled small ponds and puddle which became the rearing grounds for pollywogs. The tiny shallow streams eventually petered out and were absorbed into the soil. Only after a hard rain would they flow to another stream that went between the A&P and The Ford Dealership .

Me and a couple other kids played back behind the new strip mall. We’d always be rooting through the soil looking for arrow heads and fossils. We kept shovels on site, because that where we hung out on a daily basis.

One day we decided to turn one of the springs into a new pond. We rolled some rocks in place and covered them with some soil. A couple hours later the water had filled to the brim of the earthen dam so we added more rocks and soil. We got a good sense for how much water would build after time, so before the day was over we added enough to the dam to last through the night.

The next morning the dam was still in place and the water had risen but it had hit a limit and was being absorbed into the ground. We spent that day placing more soil and rocks thickening the dam so it would hold and we eventually could stock it with fish. We had a pond. It was our kid pond and it was cool.

One morning we were heading to the pond and we noticed a lot of activity at the A&P. There were police cars and heavy equipment and it dawned on us what happened so we gingerly went over to take a look. There were other kids there so it didn’t look suspicious when we showed up. Kids on bikes are the greatest looky-loos of all time.

When we got to the scene it was obvious that our dam washed out over the night. In a torrent the water washed out a couple hundred cubic yards of soil, sand, rocks, gravel and silt into the parking lot of the A&P. It was a non-volcanic lahar. Luckily it didn’t rush into the store, but a good portion of the south end parking area was completely covered by several inches of mud.

After that we laid low for a while and didn’t return to that portion of the quarry for weeks. There was mischief to be made elsewhere and mischief we made.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On A Cold Night

This is the first day of winter. We have already been through a rather intense cold snap here, though we didn’t get the snow that our friends on the Eastern seaboard got last weekend.

My post yesterday invoked a memory of when I was a kid. I’d go to bed with my battery powered transistor radio and an ear phone, and I would snuggle under the covers. I recall the cold nights East coast winter nights and how cool it would be in my bedroom.

The house I grew up in was built in 1865. It was of the Federalist style. There was a lot of attention paid to elements of design and structure, however little attention was paid to insulation. We at least had storm windows and an attic that kept some of the heat contained, but there were breezy evenings where if you had a candle lit for atmosphere, it could have easily been blown out if it were in the right location.

Bed was a refuge on a cold night. It would be cold getting into bed, but even as a youngster it wouldn’t be long before my body heat could warm the bed to a tolerable level. My mother told ne stories of how her father would put a brick by the flame and then wrap it in a towel to put it at the foot or her bed under her covers to warm her toes. She was the skinny blond haired Irish lass; the apple of his eye.

We had baseboard heat. There was no open flame and I never got the warm brick treatment. I was on my own to generate my own bed heat. I didn’t mind, but just hearing the stories of a father’s love for his daughter always made me wish I had a daughter so I could warm her toes on a cold winter night.

I don’t burn the fireplace very often, so I suppose these days if I had a little daughter I’d take one of those bags of flax seed my wife sewed up years ago and pop it into the microwave for two minutes and we would have an instant bed warmer, but somehow that isn’t nearly as romantic as a hearth heated brick wrapped in a soft towel.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Though my MP3 player was only $15 I still have to justify the purchase of it to myself and that goes like this:

When I replaced the radio/CD player in my truck last summer, there was an odd feature in the new unit I had never seen before. It has an input jack where one could plug in an MP3 player. This jack has been bugging me since I first laid eyes on it. You see, I have an entire collection of radio shows by the late Jean Shepherd that he did on WOR in the 60. Shep, I’ve written about him before, was a writer and you probably know him for the Christmas Story. You know the one about the leg lamp in the window and the kid that wants the BB Gun.

When I was growing up, Shepherd had a 45 minute radio show on WOR five and sometimes six nights a week. It was a lot like this blog where there would be a new topic every night and he would tell stories from his life experiences. I would listen to the radio with one of those old style single piece ear phones while in bed. It was theater of the mind. There I’d be in the dark with my eyes wide open as my mind was filled from the creative images Shep would paint with words.

I loaded all of his radio shows on my MP3 player and now whenever I’m in my truck I plug into that input jack and I get transported back to the early 60s. The race track bugle announces that a new Jean Shepherd show is ready to air and it all begins again.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Deal

If you read the post from yesterday, about a week after getting my web cam another deal came up. It’s the product above which is a 4 gig MP3, video, photo, FM radio for $15. I couldn’t resist. My wife has an iPod about the size of a book of matches, and she loves that thing. I’m afraid to show her this one because she’ll want it and I’ll get stuck with the crappy iPod.

I’m digging this Daily Steels website.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Deal

So I get this email from g with a link to this web site. He knew that I was wanted a web cam. I used to be really involved in web-cam communications with reflector sites from White Pine and teleconferencing through net meeting. It was a lot of fun, though I admit my mug doesn’t go over very well on web cam.

So I open the site and there is a web cam for something ridiculous like six dollars. I couldn’t pass it up. Though I’ve only used it once so far in a short chat with g. I guess I’d use it more if I were alone, but most of the time I am not. I just feel like a dork being witnessed talking out loud to my computer.

Anyway, if any of you have been to Woot, this site is similar however the items are less costly smaller ticket items. Like Woot they have one deal per day, and ever couple of weeks they will feature something I could actually use. Check them out at You can also see what deals they have had in the past so you can know what to expect.

Thanks again for the tip g. Are any of you readers out there Skypers?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Old School

This came to mind while I was conversing with someone about what the term “Book Bag” means. Back when I was in grammar school, Catholic Grammar School for that matter, each child went out and got a new book bag at the beginning of every school year.

These book bags were heavy leather satchels. They never were made from synthetic materials. They smelled like a shoe store. They had a handle but never a shoulder strap. Inside the bag there were usually a couple dividers. After getting all our books for the year our book bags would bulge from the content. The books were often pretty heavy for the pre-teen and I swear that one of my arms are longer today because of it considering I had a one mile walk to school each day. Setting the book bag down when got to your class was a great relief.

I wonder if kids today have any sort of the same relationship with their back-packs they use today. One would think you should have some sort of attachment to something that resides on ones back like a parasite.

By the time I got into the eighth grade many of us cooler kids graduated to a square brief case, but it was rare that a brief case would last an entire year. The old book bag could sometimes last two years, but they did wear out. Straps would break, handles would break; however they were tough bags and could take a lot of punishment.

It was sad to see an old friend end up in the trash, but that sentiment was quickly forgotten when the new book bag smell hit me. I had a new friend and it was time to move forward.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


That was pronounced as “Ped-it-tel” and it was a noun that meant an automobile with one burned out head lamp. I’ve always prided myself on quickly replacing burned out head lamps, though in my nearly 40 years of car ownership I’ve probably only replaced four head lamps.

I replaced both head lamps in the truck last year. Since then I think I had some weird surge that messed up the electrical system in the truck because in the last year I’ve had trouble with the CD player the directional lamps, the switched and motors for the power windows and the head lamps.

I’ve replaced all the broken stuff, but I was left with one mystery. My head lamp worked on the drivers’ side however it would often blink off and then blink back on down the road. If I wiggled the wires it would go back on. So I decided to replace the harness that hooks into the bulb, and that fixed it for a week, but then the low bean would work just fine, but the high beam would turn itself off after being on for only a minute or so. I tested it over a week or so and then I determined it was a heat problem, so I replaced the bulb and it all works fine now. It seems that the heat from the lamp made the filaments inside expand enough to turn itself off.

It’s nice to have brights again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cleaning My Desk

This is a photo of my desk. Yes, it was time to clean it out. I found all sorts of historical articles inside. I found business cards of people that retired ten years ago. I found instructions for Web Meeting Reflectors. I found photos of people I haven’t see in several years and I’ve since forgotten many of their names. I found some CDs I haven’t listened to in ages. I found floppy disks, remember them? I found hundreds of writing instruments. I found notes to myself that I have no recollection of what they mean or why I wrote them. There are account names and passwords.

I found some artifacts of things people sent me because of articles I’ve written here. There is the Josh Marquis for Pope poster. There is a photo of a dog taking a crap at the Sunday Market. Is a photo of Jacob’s Sheep. There is a photo of the art of one local artist I can’t stand along with his fucking piece of crap red building that he was desperately trying to get rid of before the roof blew off and suddenly it became a shrine. Mercenary Asshole!

Anyway, most of this stuff is destined for the burn barrel or the land fill and it’s time to start a new collection. Moving on…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


It’s finally happened. Our rooster, who I address and Blue, not in homage to Donna’s horse, but rather to the color of his legs; finally crowed for the first time on Saturday. He got a deep husky voice that seems to be searching for its comfort zone. I’m sure he will settle for his one voice within a week.

The hens are starting to squawk like they are thinking of laying. They are getting really henny. I have their next boxes blocked off to prevent them from claiming them as sleeping boxes. I’m waiting to have an egg turn up somewhere before I open it for use. I’m expecting some action now that it’s warmed up. I relieved that I no longer have to keep heat lamps glowing in their coop to prevent their water from freezing.

Unfortunately I can expect to be awakened from my naps with the sounds of hens laying and a rooster proclaiming his ownership of flock and territory.

Monday, December 14, 2009

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

I don’t mind TV commercials as most people do. Not only do I find many of them often excellent examples of short films, but they also reintroduce us to music that we’ve long forgotten and overlooked for its quality. They also introduce us to things we’ve never heard.

I got interested in hearing the Electric Light Orchestra again after those Volks Wagon commercials that used Mister Blue Skies. T-Mobiles use of “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” got me hunting down old Cat Stevens albums.

Sometimes it goes the other way like when iphone’s used Feist it kind of turned me off to Feist oddly because I enjoyed the indy air she had going and the commercial over exposed her.

My newest is a commercial for Dish Network or the other Satellite TV Company. It features a blond woman singing this quasi techno tune. It got my attention so the next time it came on I looked closely at the credits and I was shocked to see it was Christina Aguilera and her song, “Keeps Getting Better.” The tune was like a combination of Marilyn Manson, Nellie McKay and Kate Bush all wrapped into one. I couldn’t resist and wanted to hear more of her. Unfortunately her good stuff is far and few between her crappy stuff which is mostly Hip-Hop wanna be. I’m going to keep my eye on her because with the right producer she could be cranking out some interesting stuff instead of the Whitney Huston like crap she is known for. I’m hopeful. Check it out here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Five Fewer

Back in August when I got 26 baby chicks I had no idea they would all survive. It’s unheard of, but having them inside the Super Max has kept them all safe from harm. Though they do free range every day nothing as of yet has preyed on them.

Now those 26 chicks are all fully grown and should start laying by the end of the month. The coop was cramped with chickens at night taking up every inch of the 15 feet of perching posts I have for them. I wondered how I was going to deal with the potential of two-dozen eggs a day. It was time to sell some hens, and luckily I knew of someone looking for some.

I parted with one of each breed, so now I have four of each variety and Blue, the rooster. I still have too many chickens, but the 20% reduction in the flock will save me a lot of trouble and food expenses. I’m thinking the eggs will start coming at the end of the month after the solstice. I’m taking orders.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Doctor Who?

First of all, I am not one of those people that think TV is evil. I love TV and I always have. Back when I had a satellite dish I had the full deal with hundreds of channels. Then we went through some financial hard times and I got rid of the dish and got very basic cable, which is nearly as pitiful as broadcast TV. When the financial crisis was averted I upgraded to a few more channels.

It’s been a year now and I decided to get back more that I missed so I now get four of my old favorite channels again. RFD-TV is hokey, but fun. Sundance and the Independent Film Channel is a must, but the best of all of them is BBC America.

With that said I just want to alert everyone that the new season of Doctor Who, The Waters of Mars will begin on December 19th. Things are getting weird. If you missed the Dr. Who special as I did in April, you can get “Planet of the Dead” on Net Flix. Very cool.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Travel Anxiety

I heard someone recently talking about the anxiety that everyone seems to have when they travel through a tunnel. It may be slight but there is always a relief when one exits a tunnel.

Here in Oregon there are several tunnels that we travel through on a regular basis. There is the Arch Cape Tunnel, which was in danger of collapse a few years ago. There is the tunnel on Hwy 26 which had a partial collapse a few years ago killing an ODOT worker. There are two tunnels, one for each direction right before Portland on Hwy 26 and there is one on Burnside up in the hills on the down side entering Portland. There is also the tunnel across the river before Chinook.

The tunnels mentioned above are through rock, but in New York we had the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels that went under the Hudson River. These are long tunnels that twist and turn. Once inside you lose all radio communication. Seeing any water on the road raises suspicion even though one knows these tunnels are drilled through the bed rock under the river.

There seems to be an innate urgency to get through a tunnel especially when you cannot see the exit and when the exit comes into view a feeling of relief ensues.

I’ve known some anxiety when traveling over a long bridge as well. I wonder what would happen if there was a quake while in mid span. We’ve all seen the movies of Galloping Gertie collapsing in the wind. We’ve seen what happened to the Bay Bridge in Oakland during the quake. Let’s not forget the recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis which was just a structure failure. So going over the Astoria Bridge, the Freemont Bridge or the Lewis and Clark Bridge in Longview gets my attention by reason of anxiety. I even get a jolt going over the steel grate bridge over by the Fair Grounds. I tend to think that bridges are inherently more dangerous than tunnels, but oddly I get more anxious traveling underground.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Returining in Good Order

Anytime I return home after being some distance away the same thought comes to my mind just as my home comes into sight. I think to myself, “ Good, the house is still there.” Then I think the same when I drive closer and see the horses, “Good, the horses are still there. This doesn’t occur when I return from town or other short trips; just when I return from a road trip.

We all know of stories where people returned from a trip to find their home burned to the ground or that their animals have died or escaped.

We recently returned from a jaunt to Portland and as those thoughts came into my mind, my wife actually spoke them. I guess it’s a universal fear and relief.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Rabbit

If you look through the history of illustrated stories and cartoons you will see a lot of animals that have taken on human attributes to tell stories. There are a lot of cats and dogs because most people live with one of these. As animals get further from domestication they become less frequently used in illustration. There is however one animal that seems to appear in story telling more than most others. This is the rabbit and they appear just about everywhere.

Bugs Bunny is probably the most famous:

Then the Trix Rabbit tried cashing in on the look of Bugs:

Matt Groening's Life in Hell delivered a grotesque twist on the idea of a rabbit:

Brer Rabbit is old school:

There was Rabbit in the Winnie The Pooh adventures:

Miffy is a relative new comer to the animated rabbit scene:

Watership Down charmed a generation:

Hefner latched onto the bunny and turned it into an icon of the magazine empire:

Let's not ever forget about Ray Johnson:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Pockets of Nature

I’ve always enjoyed stumbling upon a natural setting that is surrounded by things that anything but natural. I remember my first surprise when I was very young was at a highway clover leaf. We would drive on this cloverleaf to get onto the highway and one day I noticed several ducks landing in the grassy area. I later rode my bike there and went down to explore. Not visible from the road, I found a small reedy pond in the center of this half acre sacrifice area with all sorts of life in it; frogs, turtles, fish and ducks.

I was surprised again when I checked out a tiny stream behind the library of a neighboring town. It was a small stream that one could easily jump over and probably wasn’t deeper than a foot in any of its pools, yet this stream had schools of native trout. These trout were stunted in size because their environment wouldn’t allow them to grow larger than what the stream could support.

I’ve seen these areas here as well. Next time you drive to Fred Meyer you will notice all sorts of wet land mitigation areas between Fred Meyer and the strip mall to the North East. There is also some ponds between Fred Meyer and Hwy 101. I will say that up close the waters in these ponds look totally disgusting, yet I’ve seen all sorts of water fowl there making their living.

It’s just nice seeing nature reclaiming some property after the devastation of surrounding construction.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sick Day XXXI

I am sick of Mozilla Firefox. Every time I download an update it removes features I like and it runs slower.

It used to be you could click the arrow on the address bar and it would display your most frequently used links and if you didn’t use a link for a couple weeks it would go away. The next version I got still had this feature, but old links didn’t go away. The new version 3.5.5 is only used to input an address. If you type a bunch of used addresses will come up, but that is a pain in the butt to me, so I have to use the book marks instead. There are only probably five addresses I use often and now I have to hunt them down in my bookmarks.

Then the next something happened to this program a couple months ago where it takes about 30 seconds to open up leaving me wondering if I double clicked well enough so I do it again and then I end up having two or three screens open. There is also a conflict with Java and the browser needs to close down whenever you run a Java application.

I would like to go back to MISE, but MISE doesn’t get along all that well with Google products. I’ve run Opera, but that sucks and is underpowered. Safari sucks, too.

Look Mozilla, if you want to continue screwing things up, at least let us go back to and earlier version that actually worked. Rat Bastards!

And while I'm at it what the hell is going on with Blogger's spam filter. Fortunately I found a way to avoid most of it, but some still gets through. Look if something is coming through in a language other that the one the blog is registered as, it's probably spam. If it has links to other internet addresses, it's probably spam. Fix it you Rat Bastards.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Old Photos

I am in the process of decommissioning one of my old computers and as I do so I am going through all the files and making a copy of things that I have written long ago and photos that I took long ago as well. I will be sharing some of them here from time to time.

I came across a photo of a fence I built around my blueberries. This was when it was new and before I cut the posts to a reasonable length. This fence was pretty much destroyed in the storm of 2007, but I've since rebuilt it.

This winter I plan to enclose the entire garden inside a fence like this. It has worked very well in regards to keeping the deer out. It probably looks solid enough to them to keep them from jumping it. The only problem I’ve found with it is that it isn’t chicken proof so I’ll need to attach some bird netting to the bottom to prevent them from going in to feast.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


Somehow this blog has caught the attention of the people at asking me to put a link to their site on the blog. I don’t have links or buttons on the blog, but I figured I’d give them a plug.

In the past I’ve written pieces on diseases that are delivered to humans by mosquitoes. I’ve written pieces on Mad Cow and the human form, CJD, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. I’ve written about Lyme disease and Norovirus. It scares the crap out of me when I think about how quickly disease can spread from continent to continent these days. It frightens me when I see how quickly diseased spread through the agricultural community. In the last decade I’ve seen things like soy blight, mad cow, varroa mites and Colony Collapse disorder sweep across our nation.

One problem I find with agricultural disease is that there is a lot of misinformation out there where antidotal remedies are substituted for things that may really work in prevention and treatment. These are times when a great website such as come in handy. Please check it out and book mark it for future reference. Use it for up to date information on what ever concerns you.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Does anyone out there remember Ursula Ulrich? She lived in Arch Cape. She was a local artist that moved here from Switzerland. She worked in concrete and she was my friend.

I helped Ursula by building the forms for a commission she was awarded. You can see these art works at the memorial park under the bridge in Astoria. They are decorative pieces in a nautical theme in the sidewalk and in the concrete walls.

Ursula contracted pneumonia and tried to treat it with holistic medicine. Unfortunately she died within a week. I encourage everyone to get a pneumonia vaccine.

I think of Ursula often. I think of our days of eating good bread and drinking good wine. I think of her when I enter the door to my house where I have two of her piece hanging to greet visitors. I came across her photo on one of my old computers and it brought back all the memories of a dear friend.

I wonder how much she could have accomplished had she not died some fifteen years ago. She produced so much work in her short tenure as an artist.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Tears of Beauty

Though many people think of me as an icy curmudgeon; I will admit here and now that I do have emotions though I don’t like people around then my emotions issue to the surface. I absolutely hate it when I get choked up in front of people.

I’ve mentioned that go around the state teaching classes or doing lectures from time to time. I get choked up every time I talk about a friend of mine that invented a machine. I go through the slides as I always do and I fight back the urge to get choked up about it. I linger on a slide and sip some water or coffee until I have my emotions under control. I know what it is. It’s the beauty of it all. It was a complex problem that no one was able to solve, and my friend came up with a practical mechanical device to solve a problem that the science community felt could only be fixed by using more chemicals.

There is another situation of beauty that gets me choked up. Actually it does more than chokes me up; it reduces me to tears every time. They aren’t tears of sorry or joy, but tears of beauty. I find the 1985 Australian film “Bliss” the most beautiful film I’ve ever seen. Yes, there is some nasty stuff in it and it is definitely not appropriate for children and people that are morally sensitive, but this has to be the best movie ever.

I’ve been watching this film several time a year since 1985 and I’m surprised to find that I am now getting choked up earlier and earlier in the film each time I watch it. I watched the film again today, and it was yet another cathartic experience. I feel much better after a good cry. Then I can get back it being the icy curmudgeon you all know and love.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Town Slut

I have reservations about writing on this topic, but I'm hoping to clear the air for those who have ever been falsely accused.

Sunday we talked about the Town Drunk. Today I’d like to address the Town Slut. Usually the Town Slut isn’t a slut at all. This is often a title given by rumor by someone that was jilted. In my home town this designated person was called Mahwah Mary. I knew Mary. She was a couple years older than I. She was shy and mousy and even if she ever had a promiscuous moment it was nothing compared to the popular girls really deserving of the title. The name Mahwah Mary was still in use when I moved away nearly twenty years after I first heard that name. The name had transcended to a legendary moniker. I sincerely hope that no one remembers who first held the title. Guarding ones reputation often has the opposite effect.

I was recently having a discussion about the local names for town sluts. I’m curious what names the readers here have come across for the local girl, supposedly gone bad.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Prices, Supply, Demand

I don't understand how prices are developed for electronic equipment. Why is it you can buy a cell phone which is a transmitter and receiver that comes with tiny full color video displays and a camera that shoots stills and movies. It usually comes with some cool computing capability with a calculator and an address database. Phones can be tracked by GPS. This sort of device can be easily found for around a hundred dollars. Yet you'll be hard pressed to find a good hand-held GPS unit that does some simple proprietorial calculations with a color display for under $200.