Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Costco Water Really Sucks

Confession time… I have often reeled on about the evils of bottled water and how it takes tree times the amount of water to produce the bottle that contains the water. Bottled water is an ecological nightmare.

OK, now to my confession. I was recently at an event where there was a light meal and offered with the meal was a bottle of water. Having no other containers I took the water. The water was from Costco and I’m writing this in the hopes that Costco has a person searching the net for disparaging things said about their products.

The water was absolutely disgusting, and I’ll say it is worse than the water from the City of Tangent, Oregon. I wondered how this could be. Did the plastic off gas something to ruin the taste? I decided to read the label carefully.
Ingredients: Purified water, Potassium Bicarbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Calcium Chloride and Magnesium Chloride.

I mean WTF? No wonder it tastes like shit. I wanted a drink of water not a chemical cocktail. Doesn’t Kirkland’s R&D taste this crap before it goes into the bottle? They couldn't possibly have.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What's New?

There is something great about certain new things. Not all new things, mind you; just certain new things. There is the new car, which is a combination of new plastics off-gassing, something that starts out clean, a seat that is firm and not yet contoured to your bottom. All that and a bunch of new gizmos and hopes of reliability makes a new car something special.

New clothing can be hit or miss. How often have each of us purchased something and worn it once and there is sits in a drawer until it’s time to ship it off to Good Will?

New shoes need to be broken in. Shoes and sneakers get better and better every day right until they fail. People don’t seem to go for shoe repairs anymore. I remember at least one shoe repair shop in every town, now there is only one in our county and I’d be willing to bet that shoe repair is only a small portion of their business.

Other new things that are totally wonderful are things like socks and underwear. A new springy pair of socks always feels good and new underwear with a new elastic waist band can be exquisite. New furniture can be nice. New computers and pets are usually as bad as they are good.

So there you have it, the best new things are cars, socks and underwear.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Time For Sheep

We spent Friday assisting our friends with their annual sheep shearing. Their flock grows every year and this time there were 80 sheep. The lambs don’t get clipped because their lives have another purpose.

Having done this for several years we can now see everything that needs to be done and we are a well disciplined team of seven people. There are ten or so sheep in the shearing area, ten more sheep in a pen near the area, and a whole bunch of sheep waiting to come in.

First a sheep gets presented to the shearer and he twists the sheep’s head and rolls it over on it’s back where it usually becomes very docile. Clipping starts along the neck and the chest, then down one side and then down the back. When the shearer gets to the final side another sheep is readied to be presented to the shearer.

As soon as he releases the sheep, one person swoops in to grab the fleece and another person sweeps up all that remains. As the shearer starts the next sheep three people pick the nasty stuff from the fleece and they bag it. The bags are then put into piles. There is a pile of wool for sale, one for rams wool, one for lambs wool (from lambs they intend to keep), there is a pile of the best wool that isn’t for sale that gets divvied up between those who are helping and finally there is a pile of garbage which is wool that has sheep crap and dirt attached to it.

When the shearer is finished with the first group, they are counted and released to the field and then we usher in the next group and escort another group into the barn to wait for their turns.

One thing that always surprises me is how strong sheep are. Larger sheep and rams often need two people to work to present them to the shearer, but once they are on their backs and bottoms they are pretty calm. It's also amazing how noisy sheep are. The bleating is incessant. The sound of the power train of the clippers is also pretty noisy.

It feels good to help out our friends and though one is totally dirty and smelly by the end of the day; the lanolin from the wool makes your hands really soft for days after.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ag is About Sharing

The longer I'm involved in agriculture the more amazed I become at how giving Ag people are. Giving time and effort and getting back time and effort is a tradition in Agriculture. Think of a barn raising. Think of several combines harvesting a neighbors wheat crop. When finished they move onto another neighbors field.

I've been on the receiving end of this generosity on several occasions and I've been on the giving end of it on several occasions.

My father used to say, "If you want to get something done, ask someone who is busy." I have to agree because every one involved in Agriculture is always busy, but they always have time to help a fellow farmer. I enjoy being in their company.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lunch Boxes

During all my years of school I've only had one lunch box. It looked like a V.W. Bus. It was cool. I've only seen one and I had it.

Most of the time I just brought my lunch to school in a recycled bag from a Garden State Farms store. These bags were insulated for ice cream sales. They had elaborate illustrations of farms and cows on the bags.

I do remember there were lunch box snobs that got a new lunch box every year. I was very content with my bags and the infusion of my V.W. Bus lunch box in the 5th grade, while other kids got a box in tribute to their favorite TV show that was usually off the air by the end of the school year. It was a case of planned obsolescence and I wanted no part of it. I knew that V.W. bus was a timeless image. I wonder if that lunch box is still in my mother's basement.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Borrowing on a Permenant Basis

I recall when I was around three or four years old, which was long before anyone ever heard of Alzheimer’s Disease, there was an old Polish woman that lived next door to us who would let herself into neighboring homes to rummage for bacon, butter and eggs. She went from house to house and I never saw her return with any of the items she requested. She always managed to find her way home.

I recall my mother explaining to me that I should never let her in and that she had a condition know (at that time) as “Hardening of the Arteries”. I recall my mother being upset that we now had to lock our doors to keep this woman from wandering in at any time, day or night. There was very little that could be done. There were no assisted living facilities back then. There was only a mental ward at the County Hospital.

This was in the 50s when not only did no one lock their doors, but every one left the keys in the ignition of their cars.

Twenty years later I bought that house from my parents and it was then that I found the truth about the family that lived next door. Not only was the old lady a petty thief and had always been one, but her husband would take anything that was not nailed down. I recall them having a nicely appointed walkway on the side of their house. I found out the flat marble stones were grave markers the old man had stolen from the cemetery.

They were both long dead by the time I purchased the house next door; however their daughter was still living there. The daughter felt entitled to poach anything that wasn’t nailed down as well. I recall a couple trips I took and came back to find my water bill had gone from the normal $15 a month to well over $100. This woman must have been watering 24 hours a day in my absence. I only wish I could have seen the disappointment on her face the next time I went away and she found I turned the water off from inside the house.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ripple Rock

F. Lee, local historian, information gatherer, straight shooter, valued friend and long time reader of Astoria Rust is also a frequent contributor to the Astoria Rust Forum. He posted the photo above a couple days ago and I asked him about it. His reply:

It's the removal of Ripple Rock in 1958 at Seymour Narrows up the Inside Passage. I remember when it happened because all 2 or 3 of the Portland tv stations prempted regular programming to cover it for what seemed like hours we watched a flickering image of a tranquil scene; then kaboom!!! Supposedly the largest non-nuclear man made explosion in world history and judging by the photo I couldn't disagree. I was 7 at the time and my world view was pretty limited- so for a long time I assumed it was on the Columbia River because it looked so much like here.

Here is a very cool video he found on You Tube, Ripple Rock.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Poultry Nipples

Any of you who are involved with poultry may remember the problems I was having with water for my chickens. My chickens would stand around them and kick stuff in and poop in them. They would freeze on cold nights. It was a mess and had to be tended to twice a day.

The plastic water containers we were using could not be suspended off the ground like some metal ones. We tried raising them up on blocks, but the hens still perched on them and crapped all over them. The suspended metal ones cost around $40, but we finally found something really cool at

Pictured above are watering nipples. They sell for around $2 each. All you do is get a 5 gallon bucket and drill a hole that is slightly smaller than the nipple and screw it in. It fits water tight. You hang the bucket a couple inches higher than a chickens head when standing. Chickens, being curious peck at it to see what this new thing is in their area and they get rewarded with water. Each of my chickens taught themselves how to use it on their own.

The water is always clean if you keep a lid on the bucket. It takes about a week for my 20 chickens to empty it. Chicken owners will be delighted with how cool and clean this is.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Yes, everyone is upset by the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Actually, the word “spill” diminishes what is really going on down there. They should just say that BP is paving the gulf to bring it into proper scale.

OK, everybody is all pissed off at BP; however the problems within this one incident are the norm rather than the exception with all other oil companies and their regulating agencies. If you are really pissed off you should stop using all petroleum products and boycott the entire industry. No??? I didn’t think so.

The fact remains that we as consumers could do so much more to reduce dependence on petroleum, but there is so much resistance. We should buy only locally produced goods. Anything not local should have come to you by train or ship, not an 18-wheeled truck that was driven over 1,000 miles to make the delivery.

We are tearing down dams that have been working for half a century to save fish. My question is why those fish didn’t go extinct within the first ten years that hydro dam was in existence? If you want to save the fish, stop eating them and the numbers will return. The fish ladders work just fine and always have and water is a good source of power.

I’ve read that there are a lot of organizations out there that don’t want wind mills because they kill the occasional eagle. I say build them and give any dead eagle a Darwin Award.

Aside from that, think how many dead whales and sea lions wash up on the beaches every year. Why aren’t they rendered? The average whale can provide 25-40 barrels (42 Gallon barrel) of oil. Instead we bury them in the sand or worse yet they used to blow them up. It’s not like we are hunting them. We’d be just using a natural bounty that the sea provided just as Lewis and Clark did. Whale oil is a very versatile product and a lubricant like none other. In 1957 watch and clock oil sold for $5 an ounce.

It seems our diversification of energy sources is being held up by the people. We don’t want LNG, nuclear, dams, tide or wind energy but we want the electricity without regard to the filthy coal fires that are producing it. People think BP is the problem and they have created a very nasty problem; however they are just a scapegoat. We are the problem. We demand cheap energy and really don’t care how we get it as long we can’t see it and as long as nothing is produced in our back yards.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Eskimo Snow

An inappropriate post for the first day of summer, but... There is a myth that the Eskimos have four hundred words for snow. This isn't true. They have about as many words that we have for it.

The Eskimos' Hundred Words for Snow
by Phil James

tlapa powder snow
tlacringit snow that is crusted on the surface
kayi drifting snow
tlapat still snow
klin remembered snow
naklin forgotten snow
tlamo snow that falls in large wet flakes
tlatim snow that falls in small flakes
tlaslo snow that falls slowly
tlapinti snow that falls quickly
kripya snow that has melted and refrozen
tliyel snow that has been marked by wolves
tliyelin snow that has been marked by Eskimos
blotla blowing snow
pactla snow that has been packed down
hiryla snow in beards
wa-ter melted snow
tlayinq snow mixed with mud
quinaya snow mixed with Husky shit
quinyaya snow mixed with the shit of a lead dog
slimtla snow that is crusted on top but soft underneath
kriplyana snow that looks blue in the early morning
puntla a mouthful of snow because you fibbed
allatla baked snow
fritla fried snow
gristla deep fried snow
MacTla snow burgers
jatla snow between your fingers or toes, or in groin-folds
dinliltla little balls of snow that cling to Husky fur
sulitlana green snow
mentlana pink snow
tidtla snow used for cleaning
ertla snow used by Eskimo teenagers for exquisite erotic rituals
kriyantli snow bricks
hahatla small packages of snow given as gag gifts
semtla partially melted snow
ontla snow on objects
intla snow that has drifted indoors
shlim slush
warintla snow used to make Eskimo daiquiris
mextla snow used to make Eskimo Margaritas
penstla the idea of snow
mortla snow mounded on dead bodies
ylaipi tomorrow's snow
nylaipin the snows of yesteryear ("neiges d'antan")
pritla our children's snow
nootlin snow that doesn't stick
rotlana quickly accumulating snow
skriniya snow that never reaches the ground
bluwid snow that's shaken down from objects in the wind
tlanid snow that's shaken down and then mixes with sky-falling snow
ever-tla a spirit made from mashed fermented snow,
popular among Eskimo men
talini snow angels
priyakli snow that looks like it's falling upward
chiup snow that makes halos
blontla snow that's shaken off in the mudroom
tlalman snow sold to German tourists
tlalam snow sold to American tourists
tlanip snow sold to Japanese tourists
protla snow packed around caribou meat
attla snow that as it falls seems to create nice pictures
in the air
sotla snow sparkling with sunlight
tlun snow sparkling with moonlight
astrila snow sparkling with starlight
clim snow sparkling with flashlight or headlight
tlapi summer snow
krikaya snow mixed with breath
ashtla expected snow that's wagered on (depth, size of flakes)
huantla special snow rolled into "snow reefers" and smoked
by wild Eskimo youth
tla-na-na snow mixed with the sound of old rock and roll
from a portable radio
depptla a small snowball, preserved in Lucite, that had been handled
by Johnny Depp
trinkyi first snow of the year
tronkyin last snow of the year
shiya snow at dawn
katiyana night snow
tlinro snow vapor
nyik snow with flakes of widely varying size
ragnitla two snowfalls at once, creating moire patterns
akitla snow falling on water
privtla snow melting in the spring rain
chahatlin snow that makes a sizzling sound as it falls on water
hootlin snow that makes a hissing sound as the
individual flakes brush
geltla snow dollars
briktla good building snow
striktla snow that's no good for building
erolinyat snow drifts containing the imprint of crazy lovers
chachat swirling snow that drives you nuts
krotla snow that blinds you
tlarin snow that can be sculpted into the delicate corsages
Eskimo girls pin to their whale parkas at prom time
motla snow in the mouth
sotla snow in the south
maxtla snow that hides the whole village
tlayopi snow drifts you fall into and die
truyi avalanche of snow
tlapripta snow that burns your scalp and eyelids
carpitla snow glazed with ice
tla ordinary snow

Sunday, June 20, 2010

When You Can't Look Away

I found this thing on Youtube and it's honorably bad, but I'm hooked. It's called Annoying Orange and there are several of these posts all having the same progression and result. It's kind of like watching House.

Annoying Orange. By the way, this orange is really annoying

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Everything For Tea

I mentioned Long John Baldry in the post yesterday. For those of you that have never heard of him before, Long John Baldry was the premiere Rock and Roll and Blues legend in England. He inspired the Beatles and just about every group out there. He gave a career to Rod Stewart, who by the way paid all of Long John's medical bills as Long John was dying. Ever wonder where Reginald Kenneth Dwight became Elton John? Dwight was going by the name "Elton John", in homage to Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean and Long John Baldry.

I was hoping to find John singing this song on youtube, but I found only a crappy live version so instead I present to you an audio only version that John did on his Everything Stops For Tea album
Everything Stops For Tea There is a player at this sight so you don't have to download the file.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Of The Voice

When I wrote about Joanna Newsom’s voice the other day a thought came to mind of how much we like to be entertained by people with voices that are untraditional. Some voices are down right bad like the deep voiced grunting of Satanic Metal groups. Some we kind of like. We must like them because many of them have been selling records for decades.

Billie Holiday had an unconventional voice that was full of passion. It wasn’t a great voice, but she could carry a tune.

Leonard Cohen basically talks his songs and if his voice gets any deeper he will only be heard by elephants.

Tiny Tim’s voice was grotesque, but somehow we kept listening.

Kim Carnes showed that a bad voice couldn’t hurt a good song, though she hasn’t done anything new in the last 20 years.

Joe Cocker, I’ve never figured out what the appeal was there.

Rod Stewart, may have been better as a folk singer. His version of Mother Ain’t Dead with Long John Baldry was outstanding, but I never liked anything else he did. Here's a Link to the song. There is a player at this sight so you don't have to download the file.

Janis Joplin, yes she had soul, but her voice reminds me of dragging a muffler under your car.

Ian Durry was OK with his Pop Punk thing. He was more funny than talented.

Bjork really needs to pursue acting more than song.

Joanna Newsom, is like Lisa Simpson inside a sack with fighting cats.

Both Joan Baez and Stevie Nicks singing reminds me goats at feeding time.

I almost forgot about Palo Conte and Tom Waits, my two favorite gravelly voiced performers who whave the ability to sing real pretty and real ugly.

I’m sure I’ve missed some, so feel free to share your list.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Thanks goes out to Moose for sending this to me. You know that hill behind your house? You'll never look at it the same again after watching this video.
Landslide Video

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little Joanna Newsom Goes A Long Way

I’ve recently written about College Radio and how they are on the forefront of what is really new and hip. Lately I’m hooked on the station from Texas A&M. You can find it on itunes, KANM. Along with the stream there is a crawler that tells you what is being played at the moment. If you hear something you like you better read the crawl because the DJs never tell you what you’ve been hearing.

I was listening on Tuesday and I heard something very interesting. It was a harpist who can be best described as a musical talent equal to Owen Pallet and Kaki King, but with the voice of Lisa Simpson. Lyrically she is very interesting if you can get past her voice. I’m sure Joanna Newsom is an acquired taste, but she’s worth a listen if you’re bored of all the stuff you’ve been listening to.
Joanna Newsom Video

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I think I’ve mention before one of the reasons I move out here was because my home town became too crowded. Roads that were originally used for horse and buggy traffic had been widened for modern traffic, but some roads can’t be widened enough for the volume of traffic that seems to grow every year.

I just got a little taste the traffic nastiness last week. Many of you may be aware that the Old Youngs Bay Bridge is closed until June 20th. This means that all the traffic has to go over the new bridge and take the left turn at the light just passed Fred Meyer.

Last Friday I had to wait through 4 light signal cycles to make that left turn. It reminded me of New Jersey and what is in store for our future as this area keeps growing. Traffic has even increased at my house over the last two years. We used to see one car go by every half hour or so, The other day I paid attention to how many cars went by in a half hour and found there are now 25. Maybe it’s getting time to move further out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Future Archaeologists

It has often been said that future archaeologists will learn all they need to know about our culture by digging through our dumps. It is true; we discard everything that was important enough at one time to buy and possess. Considering all we buy and how little of it is still with us the following year would be astounding to most people. If we could weigh all our stuff coming in and going out we would find just how little we actually keep.

Also think of all the money we spend on time. These are things cable TV, cell phone and internet service. When we use these things we have very little to show for it in the end, but we can’t seem to live without it.

Some of this will be misleading to the future archaeologists, especially if there is ever a science of digital archaeology where one researches old data to get a feel for our present culture. Imagine if they ever encountered a present day spam filter. They would assume that there was a big market for fake watches, college diplomas, mail order medications and penis enlargement. They would also assume that the rich were trying to give away all of their money and wonder why so many of these philanthropists came from Nigeria.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Squatter Skunk

You may recall my post a while back where our very hairy black and white cat got sprayed by a skunk. Recently I’ve been catching a whiff of skunk every time I go out to feed the horses. My hay room is built on pier blocks and there is a one-foot air space under the floor. This is where I discovered the chickens were going under there and laying eggs. One day I cleared 30 eggs out from there. I made it chicken proof, but every morning I was finding my chicken barrier messed up.

It’s a perfect place for a skunk, but I really don’t want them or any other critters under there. Today I stapled a curve of chicken wire around all access points. It is fastened to the wood above and it lies across the ground on the bottom. Hopefully the skunk will now be able to crawl out and not get back in. There is always something odd going on around here which requires an odd solution.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oil Cam Hemry

If you are really into the oil spill here is the view from several cameras that Congress gets to see. Oil Cam.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Once I was driving my horse trailer across the Astoria Bridge when traffic stopped on the Washington side. There was a bit of a breeze and suddenly I saw my vent cover blow off the roof of the trailer. It landed on the pavement. Since I was stopped I was able to retrieve it and reattach it later. Then during the storm of 2007 the damn thing totally blew off again and smashed into a thousand pieces. I replaced it and the new one is still in place.

This week we drove down to Salem to pick up a pop-up tent trailer. We finally realized that tent camping is just not a good fit us; taking an hour to set up a tent and then needing to crawl in and out is a pain. Also, tracking all sorts of stuff in and only being able to stand up in the center makes dressing and undressing inconvenient. Worse yet is folding up a wet tent when you go home.

The tent trailer can sleep 6 and it has a sink, a dining table with bench seats, a three burner stove, ice box and a furnace. It’s pretty slick. It can be towed by a car so I can haul the horses with the truck and my wife can haul the camper with her SUV.

Oddly, when we got home we realized the vent cover had blown off somewhere in route. It’s just amazing that we can’t seem to be able keep a vent cover attached to our trailers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Egg Salad

I remember while I was a lad, my mother always had a few hard-boiled eggs in the fridge. She would mark a X on their shells in pencil so they wouldn’t be confused with the other eggs. I recall having an egg salad sandwich for lunch at least weekly. Egg salad was in the rotation along with my other school lunch sandwiched, being tomato, baloney, ham, roast beef, peanut butter and Jelly and tuna. I went to Catholic School so Tuna was a requirement on Fridays before Vatican II, but the other days of the week I could expect a lunch comprised of an item on the aforementioned list.

I always liked egg salad and now that I have chickens and sell their eggs I rarely have enough eggs left to do anything with. Recently one of our weekly customers went away for the week and we had an extra dozen, so we made egg salad. One problem is that fresh eggs don’t peal very easily. Eggs should be at least two weeks old before boiling them. Most eggs you buy in the store are at least a month old before they even get to the store. Our eggs are never older than four days old so process of making an egg old hasn’t even begun when our eggs get consumed.

Anyway, we boil up a dozen eggs which were nearly impossible to peal, but we made a nice batch of egg salad. I just had an egg salad sandwich which was better than any I remember having as a child. One thing though, this sandwich was the messiest sandwich I’ve ever eaten. There was egg salad squishing out in every direction and dripping everywhere. I used several napkins just to keep egg from my face and when I was finished I felt I needed a shower. It’s a good thing I rarely eat in public.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Keep Me Hanging...

I know it’s been a while but suddenly I have a new pet peeve. It’s when you reply to an ad posted on Freecycle or Craig’s List and the rat bastards never reply back to let you know if they’ve given away or sold the item.

For months now I’ve been checking my email hoping I’ll get a message telling me to come pick up the wire fence panels. I’m also waiting to hear about the pop-up tent trailer. The rat bastards are keeping me hanging and I don’t like it one bit. In reality I know the items are both long gone, but there is still a little hope still burning inside me that thinks that maybe I’ll get an email that says, “Sorry dude, my computer has been down for ages so I haven’t been able to reply before now. It’s yours!”

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


I wrote about Wolfram Alpha a couple weeks ago. One cool thing about this information engine is that you can enter the date and year of your birth and it will generate all sorts of information and events that happened on the day of your birth. For instance as of today I have lived on earth for 20,000 days.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Pyrite Pirate

There was a hay field across the street from the house I grew up in. I’ve written of it often. It was called the Bean Field because at one point in history it was a bean field. At the opposite end of the field was an exposed area like someone quarried dirt and rock from the hill side at one time.

The biggest attraction of this cut away was that it was the home for the most fascinating rocks and fossils I had ever seen. I recall spending hours rooting around discovering all sorts of sedimentary beauty. It was a rock-hounds wonderland.

A lot of the rocks were full of pyrite, better known as fools’ gold. On a sunny day they sparkled like gem stones. I recall when I was about seven years old I found one boulder that was quite spectacular. It was really big probably weighed more that I did. I just had to have this rock so I went home and got my red Radio Flyer wagon.

I returned to the rock and I recall struggling to roll it into the wagon bed, but I managed. The most difficult part was wheeling this heavy cargo across the bumpy surface of the field where clods of grass nearly upset the wagon on a few occasions. Once I got it to the road it was easy to get it home and I rolled it off the wagon next to our well house. This trip severely damaged my wagon. One of the axles was bent and it never served me well after that.

This rock was worth it. I recall offering to sell the rock to my uncle. He offered me fifty cents under the condition I keep the rock. What a deal, but that meant if I accepted the 5o cents I wouldn't be able to sell it to someone else for a higher price. I think I took the 50 cents.

I haven’t been home in at least 20 years, and I wonder if that rock is still there behind the well house. That uncle is now dead, so I could resell it.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


Here is a video of my Irish friend Catherine who is living and working in France. If you would like to hear more you can stream her material at Myspace but you need to roll your mouse down to find it.

Here is her video: Swerve

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe deserves some fame. Seriously, seek out and listen to everything she's ever recorded. This 24 year old performer from Kansas City has it all; a keen musical ear and strong interesting production values. She's not just noodling around, this is some serious stuff. She has an energy level that is unmatched. I strongly recommend you get a copy of her album, Archandroid. I can tell already this will be one of the defining album of my 2010 summer.
Janelle Monáe Video Tight Rope Link Here.

Friday, June 04, 2010

How Old Would They Be Now?

Back in January, 2008 I did an article on how young many of the icons of my generation were when they died. I figure it’s time to see how old these people would be today had they lived. Below is a list of names, how young they were when they died and what age they would be today.

Freddie Prinze 22 -56
River Phoenix 23 - 40
Tupac Shakur 25-39
Otis Redding 26 - 69
Curt Cobain 27 - 43
Hendrix 27- 68
Janis Joplin 27- 67
Jim Morrison 27- 67
Big Bopper 28 - 80

Sid Vicious 31- 53
Cass Elliot 32 – 69
John Belushi 33 - 61
Marilyn Monroe 36 - 84
Diana, Princess or Wales 36 -49
Sam Kinison 38 - 57
Dr. Martin Luther King 39 - 81
Harry Chapin 39 - 68

James Dean 24 – 80
John Lennon 40 - 70
Robert Kennedy 43 - 85
Natalie Wood 43 - 72
John Candy 43 - 60
Freddie Mercury 45 - 64
John F. Kennedy 46 - 93

Thursday, June 03, 2010

On Velvet

Back when I was in my 20s I was dating an elementary school teacher. Oddly I never enjoyed hanging around with people I worked with, but is seemed our social circle was comprised of all the people she worked with. There was always and event or a party where several of us were found hanging out together. We went to their homes and they came to our homes. We all went places together as friends do.

There was one couple, both teachers, which actually surprised me. When we went to their home it seemed like a normal home on the outside. It was well kept and they had a nice yard and garden but upon entering they wanted to give us a tour of their art collection of which they were genuinely proud. Every room in their home had a velvet painting as its center piece.

I was looking for the catch. I was waiting for them to go into some sort of John Waters kitsch mode, but they were sincere. They absolutely love paintings on velvet. To them it wasn’t hokey at all. They even had their portraits done on velvet and proudly displayed above their bed.

We spent the entire evening there and not a word was mentioned about it all being a big joke. On our way home I asked the woman I was dating if they were real about the velvet paintings. She told me they were very serious collectors. To this day I think of them every time I see velvet, whether or not it has paint on it and I shiver inside.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Big Chill

My brother recently told me that he is cold nearly all the time and he said he’s been cold ever since we snorkeled in a cold Canadian lake close to 30 years ago. He told me that he was so cold in the water that day that he nearly drowned.

I recalled the day. The water was colder than I ever remembered it to be on previous summers. I am seven years his junior, but somehow the water didn’t effect me quite so drastically. I could see his exhaustion when he pulled himself out of the water by our cabin.

It reminded me of one of the works by Robert Service, "The Cremation of Sam McGee" where Sam froze to death in the Yukon and when friends cremated him they checked on his progress and he was inside the furnace alive. The last portion of the poem is:

"And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.”

I hadn’t thought about this event since it happened until he brought it up as we talked around the fire pit recently. It made me wonder how many things in my past altered my present life or what events upset my core temperature, so to speak.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Vinyl Fencing Sucks

Being and owner of both large and small animals; fencing is something that is in mind. I need to keep horses inside the pasture. I need to keep chickens out of the gardens and I need to keep predators out of the chicken coop. It’s amazing what one can do with electric braid wire, chicken wire and hardware cloth.

I am surprised to see a few farms using vinyl fencing, especially horse farms. I have yet to see a vinyl fence look good after two years of its installation. The three fences I see most frequently is one that the elk are constantly taking out. Horses just haven’t learned that all they need to do is lean on the rails and they pop right out. The other two fences are now totally warped by the wind. I saw them all being installed by professional installers, yet after a good wind storm they all lean like surf pines.

These white vinyl fences turn green faster than any wooden fence I’ve ever seen. It looks like not only does one have to reset the posts after a good wind storm, but pressure washing is also necessary. It seems to me that a good old wooden fence is the best value and lowest maintenance of all ridged fencing.

Vinyl fences look artificially good when first installed, however with their components being so uniform any mistake stands out like a sore thumb.