Sunday, January 31, 2010

Counting Snakes

I know someone that swears that snakes can count and I have to agree with him. His house has one of those underground water meters out on his lawn. Somehow the meter reader didn’t fully close the lid after taking a reading. A momma garter snake moved in and gave birth to a dozen baby snakes. My friend was out on his lawn and saw the mama snake scurrying out of the semi closed lid. He opened the lid in her absence and found the dozen or so snakes.

Though this was the perfect place for snakes to live, he thought it would be better if he relocated them to a place that they would not be disturbed. He built a box similar in size and dug a hole in the ground to bury it. He placed some leaves and dirt in the box.

When the mother snake returned to feed her youngsters he gently removed all of them and relocated them to the new box. They seemed to settle in nicely, but after a short while the mother snake was out of the box making a bee line for the water meter which was now closed. She frantically slithered around and over the now closed lid. She was very upset, so my friend returned to the water meter and opened it back up and there inside he realized that he had missed one baby snake. He gently picked it up and took it to the new box along with its mother.

That mother snake knew exactly how many babies she had. This is how we know that snakes can count.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Wind

Now that we are hopefully nearing the end of our windy season I want to relay a wind story to those of you that never experience the type of wind we have here. When I lived back east, if we had winds of 50MPH we thought the world was going to end. Here we don’t even notice the wind until it gets over 70MPH.

I once heard a story from someone that lives on the Central Oregon Coast. He told me of his neighbor who has a house on the dunes overlooking the beach. The neighbor was burning logs in his fireplace on a windy day. His wife came home and opened the front door the ensuing wind that came through the door lifted the logs out of the fireplace and right up the chimney and shot them like a cannon out onto the beach.

That pretty much explains our windy season here on the Oregon Coast.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Show and Tell

Continuing the conversation of mass communication to people we don’t even know… It was the development of the Internet and various news groups that lead the way for the newest wave of communication with those we never met. From there developed the forums and chat rooms that attracted like minded people that were involved in the same topic, lifestyle and vernacular.

Unless one was a regular contributor to these forums one would never really know who was reading their stuff. Eventually it became more personal when people started blogging, however trackable mass communication didn’t come around until the advent of social networks such as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter where people sign up to read the junk you write. One can gather a fan-base at Youtube where not only your writing is reviewed, but so are your video skills. These places are where you acquire friends and friends of friends that you may communicate with. Often these friends are people you have never met and will probably never meet. With my Facebook account associated with this blog I have never met 18 of the 31 people that are my FB Friends.

The Internet make world-wide communication possible and a lot of people know how to tap into that communication flow. The cool thing is that it costs little if anything and the training in minimal if anything at all.

The need to communicate with strangers is really strong with people today, especially with the kids. I was recently speaking with a school teacher and she told me that the kids in her class are able to Tweet messages with their devices inside their pockets. They can’t see the keyboard, but they can feel it with their thumb. They are able to log in, compose a message and send it without ever removing their device from their pockets. Now that is cool and it demonstrates the need and determination to communicate better than anything else I can think of.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

.... . .-.. .-.. ---

I figure it must be because all humans through the years have had their own Lonely Hearts Clubs. We are communicators like bull frogs at the pond. We send out our calls, and sometimes someone in the distance replies. Back in the primitive times it was the sound of the drum that communicated with those far away, but in the early 20th century humans progressed to armature radio and Morse Code.

Back in the early days many careers required the knowledge and use of Morse Code. Anyone in the communication field needed to know it and be able to deal with code at the rate of 40 upwards to 100 words per minute. This code was used by nearly all radio engineers, Western Union, Railroad stations and anything to do with shipping. There were civilians that also mastered code to qualify for their amateur radio license. CW communications were the main stay of how to communicate with many people you’ve never met.

The interesting about code was that each person hammering out code on a key had a distinctive flare. A well trained ear could determine not only who was sending the code, but also the region in which they lived. It was called the Swing and it is best described as an accent. I’ve heard examples of several different swings and even to the untrained the differences were discernable.

To become good at code was an effort. It was like learning another language or a musical instrument, but with communication it was easy to make a major mistake. One had to constantly practice The more that other forms of communication became available the fewer people learned code. The U.S. Coast Guard stopped monitoring Morse code transmissions in 1995 when their use in sending distress calls had been almost entirely superseded by automated systems using satellite relay. There are still people on the CWs coding like the good old days, but it is a dying art.

In the 60s and 70s it was no longer necessary to learn code to speak to the masses of strangers out there. All one had to do is buy a 4 watt CB radio and you were able to connect to people all over with amplitude modulation signals bouncing off the ionosphere. On a good night one could skip their signals a thousand miles or so like a stone on a pond. Throw in an illegal linear amplifier and you could skip every night no matter the conditions in the ionosphere were.

We humans go to great lengths to communicate with those we do not know. This is why we send out space crafts like Voyager containing messages hopefully to one day be intercepted by other intelligent life forms. We are humans and we have a need to communicate.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eclectic Tastes

I’m not talking about those young enough to have Hippy parents, but rather to those who had pre-hippy parents that are now over the age of 45. Remember your parent’s record collection? It was usually composed of one type of music; usually pretty bland and white-bread. Have you asked yourself why is it our generation had such eclectic tastes in music? Look at anyone’s collection and you will see that our generation has everything from Classical to Rap to Rock to Bop to Swing to Motown. The list is endless, yet we are only one generation away from the stuff our parents listened to. Why is this?

My theory is because we grew up on Top 40 Radio. Top 40 got a bad reputation when FM became popular. FM formats allowed the playing of longer versions of songs and it allowed a play list of material that was far less commercial. FM became the interesting medium, however it was Top 40 with its tightly scripted format that was in reality the adventurous format.

Think of it, Top 40 didn’t play just the top 40 rock hits. Top 40 played the top hits of every type of music out there. Where else could you hear Frank Sinatra next to the Turtles next to Mason Williams playing Classical Gas. On top 40 you could hear Tennessee Ernie Ford singing 16 Tons, and Herb Alpert’s Spanish Flea. Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit next to Puff the Magic Dragon. How about How Much is the Doggie in the Window and the Battle of New Orleans?

What I am saying is that if you grew up in the Top 40 Radio world you too probably have acquired an eclectic taste for music. My thanks to Dan Ingraham, Harry Harrison, Dandy Dan Daniels and Cousin Brucie and those that worked at 77-WABC when I was a kid.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Death of a Passion

With the warmer days and the approach of spring there is a certain nagging in my DNA to acknowledge that which is a rite of spring; the opening of baseball season. By this I don’t mean professional baseball or even semi-pro or even high school athletics. I’m talking about the snow finally melting and the ground is too muddy and hard for a kid to play foot ball. Kids have to play something and if it’s spring the game is baseball. This game can be played with as few as two people, but it can be better the more players you have, going up to 8 people per team.

As a kid, these games were spontaneous. As a kid we always traveled on our bikes with a mitt strapped to it somewhere. Somewhere hidden in the bushes around our favorite sand lot was we hid balls and bats. We never measured the distance from the pitcher to the plate or the distance between bases. It was all done by eye. We didn’t even have bases. We’d just find some piece of trash and lay it downs where we though a base should be.

One time one of the guys found a porno magazine out on the sand lot. It was immediately torn into four sections and they became the bases. For us it was more of an incentive to get on base. We were kids out on our own. We made our own rules and we played by them. We were having the time of our lives.

I recently drove by a bunch of kids playing on a ball field. They looked like they were having a hell of a time. They were deeply involved in the joy of life and it was clearly visible. One of the reasons I suspect was because their parents were nowhere in sight. These kids were free from the constraints of parental micromanagement. They were free and didn’t have to look over their shoulders for signs of approval or disapproval. It took me back to the days when I lost my joy for baseball.

I was just a kid at whatever age a kid is when they join the township baseball leagues. This is the one that is for kids that are too young to join Little League. We didn’t have sharp uniforms, but just Tee- Shirts with names on them like Cubs, or Pirates, or Tigers.

It wasn’t my parents that made me join, it was peer pressure. In fact my mother tried talking me out of joining telling me that it would make me hate baseball forever. I couldn’t ever see that as a possibility, so I joined. I should have known that something was up on try-out day. Each kid was given the task of throwing a ball, hitting a ball catching a fly ball and shagging a grouder. When they completed all those tasks they were given a tee-shirt of the team they were on. I immediately noticed that the better players all got darker shirts and the worse you played the lighter in color your shirt was. My shirt was orange. Above me there were black, navy, purple, brown, green and red. Below me were the yellow and white shirts. Everyone wearing a color lighter than brown were doomed to mediocrity.

At that point your team was going to lose every game. Sure you might pick a win by mistake or by forfeit, but you were on a losing team. There were even games where both teams lost.

It was like we enlisted in the military. We were all in uniform and we had people shouting at us. While we were in the outfield we could hear the parents yelling at us. We could hear the coach yelling at us. It was a constant stream of insults peppered with words like “lazy” “hustle” and “wake up!” The coach was the worst. He never shut up and by the end of each game we were morally worn down. When we kids were alone and out of ear shot we wished for the coach to have a painful death so we could all piss on his grave.

Each game of the season got more and more oppressive. There was a collective dread as game day got closer. We all felt it; the entire team. Several of us refused to even show up to the last game of the season. There were at least four of us that became life-long baseball haters after that. To this day I still have not watched a baseball game, nor do I ever plan to. My mother was right, it ruined an innocent passion for the national pastime.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Zen and The Art of A Grudge

I reworked a draft of my first book in 1999. At the same time I was still in touch with a former girl friend who was an artist. I always liked her work. To this day I have two of her etchings and two of her paintings hanging in my home. Her work was good, not great, but good. She was a more imaginative print maker than a painter, but her painting skills were getting noticeably stronger.

In the spirit of keeping in touch I sent her a copy of the draft. About a year later she sent me some photos of her most recent work. I sincerely liked it with her new bold, colorful and rounded style. I wrote her to praise her work comparing her recent style to a reminiscence of Diego Rivera.

The next message I got from her included phrases such as …and the horse you rode in on. She was totally pissed. I suppose my efforts to send her examples of the similarities for a side by side comparison even pissed her off even more. I guess she wanted me to tell her new style was unique and never seen by human eyes before.

So I go to my mailbox tonight to find a large envelope with her return address. Inside is the draft I sent her with a letter that stated: “I never could get through your book. There was just too much I would have torn apart…”

Now that is a woman who can hold a grudge. A ten year grudge is a heavy one. I hope she feels better. I know I got a good laugh out of it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Spring is Springing

I think it’s great how signs of the coming new seasons arrive often at the mid-point of the existing season. Like sometimes there will be a really hot dry day in May and it will remind you of summer. There will be a colder gloomier day in August that will remind you of autumn. There will be a dusting of snow in November that reminds you of winter.

Here we are now at the later part of January and the daffodil bulbs have sprouted, but more than that the horses have started shedding. You don’t notice it so much with a black horse, but a paint with a lot of white hair you see a dusting of white hair on the ground where she stands most frequently. It’s nearly time to remove the horse blankets and find the curry combs and dedicate all the sluff and skirf to the ground where the birds can collect it for their spring nests.

Spring is nearly here, folks.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Oh No You Don't!

As you may know, I originally came from the east coast; New Jersey to be precise. One thing I do miss about living there was the cultural diversity. Here there is mostly people of Scandahovian heritage, and most of those are third and fourth generation. The next closest thing a foreign heritage here are Californians. Their ideas and cultures are way and I mean way different, though they think they fit in they often don’t but still seem to achieve acceptance by the welcoming locals.

Back East it wasn’t uncommon to meet someone that didn’t speak English. Somehow it was never a problem. I’ve had haircuts by immigrants that just stepped off the boat. The steel mill in town hired several people that just arrived from Poland and Russia. The Greeks came over in droves and learned to speak the language by waiting tables.

When one went to a Pizza Parlor you could expect to hear a mix of English and Italian. In fact that’s how many of us learned how to speak a rudimentary version of Italian. And by the way, for you Orgonians, the word it It-Talian not Eye-Talian.

Pizza was simple in New Jersey. Each Parlor had a distinctive crust, but that was it. There was no deep dish pizza and no white sauce pizza. If you were lucky you could get Calzone, but that was as exotic as it got. Your choice of toppings were: onion, peppers, sausage, olives, mushroom, pepperoni and meatball. Anchovies were also an option though I’ve never actually met anyone that had them on their pizza.

We could be tolerant of a lot of things back then. We could accept vast cultures, but the resistance that met the new craze of the Hawaiian Pizza was astounding. Following shortly on its heals was the Mexican Pizza, yet another abomination. I came to accept these pizzas and even order the Hawaiian from time to time, however I recently saw a pizza on Tango’s Blog that has me drawing a line as to what I will accept as legitimate. The photo above is of the macaroni and cheese pizza. That is just unnatural. How dare they?

Friday, January 22, 2010


The acronym R.S.V.P comes from "Répondez s'il vous plaît", a French phrase that translates to "reply, if you please." I suppose it is always polite to reply regardless of how small the message. I usually reply to all messages other than spam.

You may notice that if you post a comment on any of my posts here I usually acknowledge your comment a day later. I often even reply to comments on older posts and archived posts. Sometimes things do get by me where I’ll forget to reply to comments and I feel guilty when I finally do catch my error.

I guess I do this because I often like to get some sort of acknowledgement when I write someone. I don’t like to be kept hanging when I ask a question. I also suppose that I have a good reputation for replying to people’s comments, questions or emails. I guess I let someone down by not getting my usual last word in.

I was corresponding with one of the readers here. I sent her a question and she replied. A few days later I got the same reply from her again. She thought that since I didn’t reply to her reply I must not have gotten her reply. Se told me that I am usually very good about acknowledging her messages. Now when she writes and we are finished with a particular topic I will finish my final message with the words “Final Message in This String.”

I don’t want to leave her hanging. Let’s see if she replies to this post ; )

Thursday, January 21, 2010

About Face

Yesterday I mentioned that Bobby Applegate’s face resembled a parrot. If you think about it there are probably many people in your life that resembled different animals. Bobby had a small pointy mouth attached to a big round head.

I know a few horse faced people. One girl I knew looked a lot like a llama. She had a long neck and a short snout. I grew up with a set of twins that looked like raccoons. There are some people I see today that resemble cats and when I see a mouth breather I often think they look like fish. I’ve known a mouse and a rat.

I’ve seen some people that look like sharks and a few that look like apes. There is one local woman here in Dried Salmon County (boy I haven’t used that phrase in a year or so) with big round eyes that looks like she is constantly in shock. She doesn’t move her eyes, but moves her head to look at things. I’ve seen her around for at least ten years now and every time I see her I think of her as a chicken. The only thing that is missing from her is wagging her neck back and forth when she walks.

I’ve known jowly, saggy eyed people that resembled basset hounds. I’ve known people that looked like poodles and others that look like bull dogs. Fortunately no one ever found an animal resemblance in me, though being six feet two inched in the 7th grade I was often called a bean.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sawdust Memories

The infamy of Doug and his stories of gaseous debauchery brought to mind some other grammar school memories. These memories, though much more benign are just as memorable, to me at least.

There was a child that transferred midyear into our fourth-grade class. We were a friendly class and accepted him right away. No one even mentioned that he had the face of a parrot; that is a post for another day, but let’s just say we embraced him as a new member of our small school. We never asked him why he was a mid-year transfer. He never offered info as to if they just moved here or if there was trouble in another school. As far as we were concerned he was just another kid in the same 4th grade boat we were in; watching the nun trying to teach us stuff.

The odd thing about Bobby was that every day at 10:30 he’d lean over and vomit all over the floor. All the kids with neighboring seats would slide their desks away from the pool and gather by the coat closet until Albert, the school janitor arrived with a bag of saw dust and a bucket and mop.

After Bobby hurled he was OK and class resumed. There was no phone call to his mother to pick up a sick child; everything simply resumed as though nothing had happened. It was only notable when I went home and my mother asked what happened in school. I’d report something like, “The nun spanked Jimmy today. It was Debby’s birthday and her mom brought in cup cakes, and Bobby Applegate puked.”

The next day at exactly 10:30 Bobby puked again. The same thing went down, the kids scurried and moved their desks, Albert came in with the vomit kit and life resumed. I went home and had to give the report, “I got an A in Geography, Michael got a new dog and Bobby Applegate puked again.”

Bobby Applegate was becoming famous. My mom didn’t even ask about what went on in school when I got home. She’d just head right to the important stuff asking, “Did Bobby Applegate puke today?” My answer every day for the next two weeks was, “Yep, 10:30 on the dot!”

On the Monday of the third week Bobby didn’t come to school and neither did he on the next day or the day after that. No one mentioned him. It was as though he was contracted to come and test Albert’s vomit cleaning ability; Albert passed the test and Bobby moved on to test the janitorial staff elsewhere.

I know he didn’t die because I saw him around town from time to time, but I never had a chance to talk with him. To this day I think of him every time I post a “Sick Day”® post with a vomit photo.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Doug Part II

Of course you knew what Doug’s other talent would be, so turn away now if you don’t have the stomach for it.

It happened one day in November. It was early on a rainy morning. Classroom seating was arranged by last name. Doug’s last name placed him in the geographic center of the room.

Doug was known to fart on occasion. He’d do it when the nun was writing on the board and then he’d shout out something like, “Oh, Frankie, that was disgusting!” The nun would turn around to see a dumbfounded Frankie sitting there. Sister Vivian would say to Frankie, “Mr. Hasbrook, you are excused, please leave the room.” Which meant, go to the Boy’s Room and don’t come back until you’ve purged yourself.

Doug would do this several times in a row expelling several people from the room and the nun never put it together that each incident sounded pretty much the same and that it was always Doug calling out the names of the false perpetrators. Doug pointed at people randomly. There were 18 of us in class so he had a fresh crop every day. He even pointed the finger at girls and everybody knows that girls don’t fart…ever.

Doug was a gassy kid. He was very adept at expelling gas from every orifice in his being. One day he revealed the true genius of his craft. It was the sixth grade. It was that rainy morning in November. We were working on Arithmetic when suddenly the thin wooden laminated seat under Doug’s butt started to resonate. It was further amplified the metal enclosure under the seat that was used for book storage. This wasn’t just an ordinary fart, but rather one that went on and on. It was a John Coltrane sax solo, totally out in a room full of Bee Bop.

After ten seconds of the same note Doug started playing with the pitch. By then nearly every jaw had dropped. This thing just wasn’t stopping. Doug had a look of pleasure and relief on his face, along with a side of “At this point I wouldn’t stop it if I could.”

Finally after around 45 seconds Doug’s symphony came to an end, but still amazed, the class was frozen in a stunned condition, even Sister Vivian was at a loss.

Have you ever been a witness to someone putting Sea Marker into a river? This is a chemical dye that is used to show currents or leaks in an underwater pipe. All I could say is that the odor of Doug spread through the room quicker than Sea Marker in a swimming pool. It was like the concussion an atomic bomb. Suddenly the room was full of the screams of sixth graders. Everyone ran either for the door or to one of the four classroom windows thrusting their heads outside gulping at air like a goldfish in a bowl of stagnant water.

It took a while but I looked around and saw that the only person still seated at their desk was Doug. Finally Sister Vivian piped in and said, ““Mr. Grant, you are excused, please leave the room.” Doug looked at her and actually said, “What?” Sister Vivian replied “Get out!”

Doug headed for the door, but being the true professional that he was, he flashed a particularly toothy smile as he let out another short blast as he exited the room. We were done learning for the day.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Chorus Line

Everyone has a talent, or maybe even two things they are more than proficient in. This was the case with a kid I went to elementary school with. His name was Doug. He wasn’t a good looking child. He was pudgy and not particularly coordinated. He always had a buzz cut and his clothing always fit too tightly. He probably could have made a good bully, but he’d never be able to catch anyone on foot.

Doug did have a talent; he was a belcher. Doug’s talent went far beyond the pedestrian burp after taking a sip of soda, he could recite the alphabet. He could sustain a belch through all 26 letters and sometimes have enough left over to start counting.

Impossible? Not at all. He once gave a”workshop” (for lack of a better term) on how to do this burping technique. It involves attempting to breathe in but not letting the air into your lungs. It’s like reverse burping. You take air directly into your esophagus. There it can be stored for a while and unleashed like a lion’s roar when needed.

Doug had several disciples. During recess they would all gather by the big tree at the school yard playground and practice their craft. From a distance they sounded like a swamp full of bull frogs, but up close you could hear them discuss technique as though it were part of the Pavarotti Masters Program.

Occasionally I will burp a very cathartic belch. I know this is so different that the image you all have of me, but sometimes I do. It is then when I think of Doug and his bullfrog chorus standing by the tree going at it for 45 minutes every day.

There will be more on Doug’s other talent tomorrow.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Internet Entertainment.

If you are a fan of you may be equally delighted by

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Dread

I know that everyone has a reason to wake up in dread from time to time. Today (Friday) it was my turn. I went to bed with some concern but when I woke at 5am I was simmering going toward a full boil.

I was down to my last half bale of the 96 bales of hay that I put up back in July. Supply is no problem. I can get hay from my source in Birkenfeld. She takes care of my hay needs year round. (Wink, I know she’s reading this.) My dread was my truck. If you remember the problems I had with my truck at the end of December while hauling horses with the trailer; I’m still distrustful of the truck. It’s OK, but it’s just a little weird, but I still don’t trust it.

I started driving the windy/hilly roads from my house to Jewell. For those of you that aren’t familiar with HWY 202, though the speed limit is 55 MPH, it is rare that one can achieve that sort of speed while constantly slowing for hair-pin curves, 6% grades and truck swallowing potholes. To make matters worse, most of the trip is out of cell phone range.

Every time the truck down-shifted my knuckles would turn white. After about 25 miles I was starting to feel confident that I was going to make it and I did. I nearly forgot my fears, but then I realized I’d have to travel the same road home, but this time heavier with a ton of hay in tow.

I made it home without incident, but I’m going to stick to short runs with the horses before I’ll have the confidence to take the truck any major distance away from home with cargo.

I now have enough hay to last three months. The dread is gone. I'll sleep well tonight and I'll wake up without dread in the morning.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Time Only

Sometimes you find things and you have no idea what they are or how they can be used. Other times you may find things and figure out a use for them other than for what they were intended; like using a newspaper to cover your head when it’s raining.

There are things like bottles. If you find a bottle you can use it as a container. You can recycle it or you may choose to display it. Its original intent has now been superseded by other uses.

But, sometimes you’ll find a thing that has that unique special purpose, or perhaps a universal purpose that is recognized by anyone that ever lived or tread by the water’s edge. Before I spill the beans I want you to think of the innate purpose that comes to mind when you find a nice flat round stone. It is about two to three inches in diameter and it is between a quarter inch and a half inch thick.

That’s it! It’s a perfect skipping stone. When was the last time you skipped a stone across the water? I loved doing that as a kid. I’d even go to a gravel quarry and spend a few hours collecting perfect specimens that would all end up on the bottom of lake or a pond before the day was done.

There is something about the hydroplaning wonder of skipping a stone and watching the trajectory of the stone across the water’s surface. The cadence of the beats increasing until the stone is swallowed under the surface tension to spend the rest of its ageless rock-hood days submerged in a quiet eternity; never to be skipped again.

It’s sad to have a great performing stone that can only be used once; like a firecracker.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The World's Fair

Unless you are over the age of 50 it is doubtful that you’ve ever been to a World’s Fair or Expo. I was fortunate to have gone to the one in New York in 1964, and I recall briefly visiting the Expo in Montreal.

As a child of 9 the World’s Fair was an exciting place where one could gaze into the future. Countries and corporations such as GM and IBM had exhibits there and it was something like Disney Land. I recall Disney had an exhibition hall as well. Buildings were built and landmarks were created such as the Unisphere and the Space Needle where they remain to this day. Many of the other buildings were torn down when the Fair was over.

Maybe I’d see it all differently today, but the impression I had of it at 9-years old is still with me today.

Whatever committee that selects where these Fairs will be was favorable to the US for the first 65 years of the 20th century, but we seem to have been excluded ever since. Here is a list of where they’ve been and where they will be until 2015. Hopefully all you young readers will eventually get to see one.
The list:
1904 St Luis
1933 Chicago
1939 New York
1962 Seattle
1964 New York
1967 Montreal
2000 Hanover, Germany
2005 Aichi, Japan
2010 Shanghai
2012 Yeosu, Korea
2015 Milan, Italy

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's Coming

I have to admit I feel badly for all of you that are surviving the cold snap that has a grip on most of the nation right now. I also feel bad about the following post, but I went out to feed the horses this morning (now yesterday morning) at 6:30 am. It was 52 degrees and the frogs in the near-by swamp were chirping. The daffodils have sprouted to about three inches tall.

On Sunday I noticed the bees bring in pollen from the willows and hazelnut trees. The seed I put in the three unused pastures is sprouting. It’s nearly time to put out the humming bird. Hold on all of you in the rest of the country. It’s coming.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I'm Not That Sorry

It’s interesting when you analyze the three types of apologies that people share. Some people just apologize for everything and their words and emotions are insincere and little more than a knee-jerk reaction to everything they think they have some control over.

Next there is the submissive apology where someone simply says “Uncle.” That too has little to do with any sorrow or contrition, but more to do with submission and wanting to move on.

Then there is the heart felt sincere, heart-felt apology. This is the rarest. Harry Scherer has a segment on his weekly radio show called Apology of the Week, where he reads all the apologies that were made by notable people over the previous week. I doubt that many of the ones on his show are sincere, but rather an attempt to save face and limit the damage to their future income. As shallow as they may be they are demanded and people seem to accept them with conditionally, but the transgressions are never forgotten or fully forgiven.

I have become much better about limiting my exposure and setting myself up to apologize. If I ever do offer an apology it comes from sincere concern and remorse. When I say I’m sorry it comes from a true sorrow.

Monday, January 11, 2010


I sleep pretty well. I am able to empty my head before going to bed and I’m usually asleep within five-minutes of hitting the pillow. I have great empathy for those with sleep disorders because I have had bouts of insomnia in the past. I don’t know what caused them, but the bouts have disappeared as mysteriously as they arrived. Though there are still times that I wake up at two in the morning with a concern I can or should do nothing about.

Normally something stupid wakes me up wondering if I put I put my next dentist appointment on my calendar. I have gotten up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and noticed that a dome light was left on in the car or the truck. There I have to weigh if I think I’ll still have a battery in the morning. I usually go out and turn off the light.

A windy night is hard on me because I instinctually want go out and inspect for damage considering how something nearly always goes wrong here during a wind storm.

Last night I woke up wondering if I left my generator out. I had some work to do yesterday that would have required three power cords to be joined, so instead I figured I’d roll out my generator and use that instead. I finished up just before dark and got distracted by needing to bring the horses in and lock up the chickens. I left the out all night; I was sure of it.

I just came in and there it was right where I left it. Fortunately it didn’t rain last night, though had it been raining I probably would have gotten up at 2AM to wheel it into the garage.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


One thing that comes with ageing, for me at least, is a lessening of the urge to make rash decisions. I won’t suggest that I procrastinate, but rather weigh and consider until the time is neigh.

When I was young I was a marketers dream. I recall once driving by a Subaru dealership that was having some sort of an event with food where I pulled in and left with a new car two hours later. I had no intention of buying a new car an hour previous to pulling into that dealership.

I recall back when I was collecting records I’d buy music because I liked the name of the band or performer, or I liked the cover art while having no idea what their stuff sounded like.

Maybe it was because I had an enormous amount of disposable income back then. Now I’m financially less well off, but I’ve also been there, done that and the T-shirt has been used as a shop rag for years. Still the urge strikes me from time to time. My eldest step-son visited us this week. He was showing off his new Droid. It’s a very cool open source phone that has free apps and it runs WiFi and it’s just really cool. Immediately after he left I checked them out on-line, but I didn’t buy one.

I have become one of those people that can go into Costco and leave without spending more than $25. I do it all the time. It makes me wonder just how much money I wasted on impulse in my lifetime.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I Want To Ride My Bicycle

A comment by Teri the other day regarding her riding her bicycle through agricultural country reminded me how much I miss my long distance bicycling days.

Before I moved out here I used to go for a 30 mile bike ride every day. 30 miles may sound daunting, but it wasn’t. It was a discipline. I had two bicycles, one I used for flatter rides and a lighter one for hilly rides. The heavier was a touring bike and the lighter a racing bike.

The racing bike had these extremely thin tires but the roads back East were smooth. The first time I rode that bike out here the tires were shredded by the coarse roads we have here. I ended up giving those bicycles to someone with appropriate roads and I got a mountain bike.

The mountain bike is no pleasure to ride. It isn’t very ergonomic and my neck hurts for days after a ride. The fat knobby tires have a raised ridge for road riding, but turn slightly and the knobs start humming. It’s simply no fun at all and it makes me glad to ride a horse instead.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Good Old Days

I have often spoken here about the good old days. We all know the good old days no matter when we were born, there were better older days than the present days. John Oliver did a piece on Monday Night's Daily Show that brings it all into focus. It's a five minute piece that gets better and better. Please take the time and enjoy this video. John Oliver and the Good Old Days

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A Quick Change

I always find it interesting when the climate changes in a couple hours. You go into the house and it’s 50 degrees and go back out a little bit later and it’s in the 30’s. I’m reminded of a day I was hiking in the Adirondacks on Mt. Morris. It was a brisk day in the 20’s, but suddenly and I mean suddenly, within the matter of a minute the temperature rose by at least 20 degrees. It was like a warm humid cloud just rolled in from somewhere, kind of like swimming through a warm spot.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On the Record

I was recently thinking about the different media versions of recordings I’ve had over the years, for instance I’ve had King Crimson first album on LP (long play record) 8 track, cassette, CD and now MP3. That is five incarnations of the same music.

If you think about it the music industry has been leaping forward over the last century and a quarter. Music was first recorded on wax cylinders 1888-1929, however production of wax cylinders declined with the Great Depression.

Next came the flat disks with a variety of speeds ranging from 60 rpm to 120 rpm. The speed became standardized at 78 revolutions per minute in 1925. These recordings were made on hard rubber and

In 1931 microgroove LP 33⅓ rpm record and the 45 rpm single records are made from vinyl plastic and could hold a total of 45 minutes of recording.

1958 saw the invention of a 5inch by 7inch cassette making a portable version of reel to reel tapes, but that product failed and was replaced by the standard cassette in 1962 which could hold up to 60 minutes of recordings per side.

1964 saw the creation of the 8 track loop that was the rage in the 70, but remained problematic with tension problems and tracking problems. People moved back to the earlier cassette tapes which were more reliable.

In 1976 the compact disk was invented and is the present falling standard which is being replaced by MP3 which was invented in 1991. I presently have an MP3 player that I haven’t reached a limit of it’s capacity. I’m listening to Jean Shepherd radio shows recorded in the 1960. Each show is 45 minutes long and there are 64 loaded on my player with room for more.

I can’t help but wonder where it will go next. It’s hard to believe there is any room for improvement, but I’m sure someone out there is thinking.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I figured it’s time for a chicken update for all of you following along at home.

We got our first egg from the new hens on December 29th. It was a small eggs, but a great first offering none the less. The next day there were none, but there have been four eggs every day since. I suspect they are coming from the Buff Orpingtons because those are the only hens I’ve seen sitting in the nest boxes. The hens are still developing and the eggs are small in comparison to the eggs they will be laying soon.

If you recall I got my present flock as new chicks back in August after all my other chickens were killed by a weasel. They were all hatched on August 4. So they started laying just short of five months of age. Eventually many hens will start laying large double yolkers until their internal egg laying machinery gets it all figured out, but for the next few weeks they will be thinking small.

I’m going to cut this short. It’s time for breakfast.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Sick Day XXXII

I'm sick of people that always wear camouflage. You know we can still see you and you look just like a back woods, slack jawed, knuckle dragging mouth breather.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Acting Your Age

I though back to when I was a kid of 16 years of age. I lived in a New Jersey town right across the state line from New York. When I was 16 the legal drinking age in New Jersey was 21, but in New York it was 18, so we would pick which of us kids looked the eldest and send them into a NY state mom and pop store with cash to buy a couple quarts of beer. Then we’d hang out by the Ramapo River drinking casually, not getting drunk, but rather enjoying the forbidden fruit of youth.

This came to mind because I was out with two friends the other day. We were checking out a horse up near Scappoose and on the return trip home we stopped for a bite at a roadside family restaurant. While presenting the menus the waitress pointed out to me and my male friend at the table that if we were over 55 we could order off the senior menu. He is in his 60’s; I am 54, but I figured if they suspect I’m old enough for a senior discount, I’m going to go for it.

It’s just funny that 38 years ago I was faking my age to buy beer and now I’m faking my age so I can get French Toast for $4.25 off the senior menu.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Astoria Milk Dealers

I often write on agricultural and historical items which landed one reader here. She sent me some photos of some milk bottles that were found on her parent’s property. She asked if there were some sort of dairy cooperative here. All I know is that I used to buy Seppa Farm milk at Sentry and now I see they sell to Tillamook. There used to be at least ten dairies in the Lewis and Clark Valley alone, and I doubt there were runs to Tillamook every day back then.

So what can you locals tell us about the old creamery association (Astoria Milk Dealers)and bottling plant? Where was it? When did it close?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Death Pool 2010

If you’ve been following my death pool posts over the last few years, a New Years Tradition, you will know that a good year one can almost guarantee an 90% failure rate, so there is a better chance that someone on my list will not die. However in 2009 I did slightly better guessing correctly with: Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Farrah Fawcett, Ted Kennedy and Soupy Sales. I thought the rest were shoe-ins.

OK, I know you’ve all been waiting all year for this years list so here goes:

Annette Funicello
Bob Dole
Woody Allen
Joe Namath
Peter Max
Jimmy Carl Black
Sophia Loren
Elizabeth Edwards
Barbara Walters
Dock Severensen
Dick Clark
Micky Rooney
Betty White