Monday, January 31, 2011

How Many Masks

I was born without the ability to get into another character. This is not to say I cannot have empathy for someone, I just can't become someone else. I wonder if people who are into Civil War reenactments or those who are really into Dungeons and Dragons can actually leave them selves behind and become someone else. If so, can they leave the character behind when the act is over.

I'm sure some people without multiple personality disorders can be more than one person, but I'm not one of them. For those who can it all brings to mind the philosophical question: Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I'm a man?

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I am pretty amused by genetics in the thought that things improve with every generation or that getting a certain gene pool will mean success. Take for example when a horse with a successful track record finishes their career people pay big money for the breeding with that horse. Case in point I've seen a lot of horses with Seattle Slew lineage and none of these horses were great achievers. They were horses of good confirmation but none of them ever had an impressive track record.

The same goes for people. Take John, Robert and Ted Kennedy, all were big deals as was their father. Their father's money and influence helped the three become very successful, but each generation after that has significantly diminished. The same with Prescot Bush. He had a son and a grand son that became Presidents of the United States, but it strongly appears that each generation since Prescot has a diminishing intellect.

I guess it's really more about money and influence that it actually has to do with a continued genetic trait for success.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Don't Mess With This Film

It is rare when I see a trailer for a film that actually makes me want to see a movie. Hollywood has been turning out crap for years. There are always surprises where a film is actually good. I'm thinking of a film like Fight Club that I thought I would hate, but actually ended up loving it.

Remakes of old films are totally unnecessary. I can't think of any remake that was better that the original. King Kong has been remade at least twice that I know of and none of them could ever instill the fear of the original uncut black and white, 1933 version. And movie versions of TV shows are even worse.

I am thankful that no one has ever attempted to remake my favorite all time movie and I curse anyone that tries to defile the classic from 1956, Forbidden Planet.

This movie was the film that pioneered Science Fiction. This film starred Leslie Nelson before he got into comedy. It introduced a believable robot and it introduced viewers to the Monsters of the Id. It also pioneered electronic music.

I am shocked that Hollywood has been kind enough so far to leave this film alone in it's original mastery. I hope this post doesn't jinx it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Flash in the Pan

I mentioned earlier this month that we have come into a lot of film cameras. We are in the process of selling many of them but we now have several of the more interesting cameras on display in our home. These aren’t worth much and it’s not worth selling them, but they are interesting to look at.

One in particular has a large parabolic reflector attached to it. When I look at it I realize that there are many people who are young enough that they have never seen a flash bulb. The strobe became the device to use on cameras in the early 70s. Cameras were fitted with hot shoes that you connect your strobe to that synchronized the flash with the shot.

Before that the common means of illumination was a flash bulb which could only be used once. It would flash and you eject the bulb, which was hotter then hell and could actually start a fire if it landed in dry grass. You would need to insert another bulb for the next photo.

In 1960s Kodak came up with a new flash system for their Instamatic cameras. It was a flash cube, which was a four chambered cube with a flash bulb on each side. After taking a photo one would advance the film and with this action the cube would also rotate in place with the next bulb ready to go for the next shot.

Once bulbs were obsolete we used bulky strobes that made a high pitched squeal between shots to indicate they were recharging. Today the strobes are tiny and are built into hand held devices that are smaller than the former flash arrays and hot shoe strobes.

It’s kind of funny when you see things you grew up with that were considered innovative at the time now sitting on shelves considered as obsolete antiques.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


For those of you who have a hard time grasping some of the complexities of chemistry and chemical bonds, here's a little video to help you out.
Chemical Bonds

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Idiot Abroad

Sticking for a bit to the TV theme, I’ve found another outstanding show on the Science Channel. It is the brain child of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. This pair worked on a radio show together and there they met radio producer Karl Pilkington. Pilkington was quite a character who had narrow minded opinions on everything that were just too funny to be ignored.

One thing they found funny about him was that he had never traveled abroad. His biggest trip was to Wales and his comments about how the Welsh needed to learn to speak English was priceless comedy. So Gervais and Merchant came up with the idea to send Karl on several trips to see the wonders of the world and record his impressions as a travel documentary.

This series can be seen on the Science Channel on Saturdays at 10pm. Set your DVRs. You can find entire episodes on line.

Here is a clip of the reluctant traveler Karl Pilkington commenting on traditional Chinese food. An Idiot Abroad Clip And if you want more Here is more

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Dream of the 90s is Alive in Portland

For those of you that are intrigued by Portland, Oregon and want to see what life here is really like I suggest you tune into the new show on IFC called Portlandia. I know I live 90 mile West of Portland, but it is very much the same here on the coast and sometimes more so. This clip will sum it all up for you pretty well. Portlandia Clip

Monday, January 24, 2011


I got an education in treasure hunting on Saturday. My brother has been researching metal detectors for months now and it was time to take the plunge. Normally a do-it-yourselfer, he has always made his own metal detectors in the past. I remember his first one was made with wires clued to a 45RPM record that was attached to a broomstick with a circuit board on the other end. To make it work you had to turn on a transistor radio and the radio would make noises when you got close to metal.

The shop we went to was in a home in an unassuming neighborhood. We figured it was a Mom and Pop operation where they may have had a few models for sale, but when we were lead into a former garage we soon saw the basement of this house had a labyrinth four rooms. Each room was dedicated to a different brand of detector.

We spent most of our time in the White's room. White's metal detectors are made in Oregon and that's what he was shopping for.

I was amazed to see all the features modern metal detectors have. They sell for prices between $179 and $2,000. There were some there that give off different tones depending on what metal it detects. You can select what metals you want to look for and have the detector ignore metals you don't want. These things will show you what's down there and how deep it is. Simply amazing. I just may need to get one for myself. But for now I did get a couple new gold pans.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Another Language

I’m always amazed when I see someone with typing skills that are above what I think is humanly possible. I’ve become a functionally quasi 45 WPM typist because of all the writing I do. I do look at the keyboard when I type. However, I am in awe when I see a master at work. I’m talking about those 100+ WPM people. I’d love to be able to type as fast as I think.

Another thing I never see any more is people doing shorthand or stenography. These are skills that were being taught when I was in high school. Now people use tape recorders to record and then they transpose when they get to their keyboards.

Shorthand is like another language. Most people these days don’t even have an idea of what shorthand or stenography looks like. Here is a photo of Court stenography.

I wonder how long it will be before these become lost languages.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

And The Band...

I’ve been thinking about war protest songs and how they rarely ever seemed to come about until the war in Vietnam. Even the Pete Seeger song, Waist Deep in the Big Muddy, which was about a platoon on practice patrol in 1942 wasn’t written until 1967 and was more a statement about Vietnam at that time.

I can think of no anti-war songs from Korea or World War II. I can think of no real anti war songs for all the wars we’ve been involved with since Vietnam. There have been a few vague songs that hint of a retro feeling, but none have captured the country like the anti war songs of the 60’s. Oddly, many of the songs that came from the Country Music community seemed to edge on the pro-war sentiment during the second Gulf War

However one of the greatest anti war songs is a song written in 1971 by Scottish-born singer-songwriter Eric Bogle. The song is an account of a young Australian soldier who is maimed in a confrontation with the Turks at the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War. Where most war songs are the embodiment of anger; this song is the embodiment of sorrow.

The video for the song

Friday, January 21, 2011

Larry Griswold

My wife posted the video link below on her facebook page recently. I had never heard of this guy but his stunts are amazing and to top it off he's wearing a suit.

The Wikipedia article on him states: Laurens (Larry) V. Griswold (September 17, 1905 - August 24, 1996), known as "The Diving Fool", was an American gymnast and entertainer who was involved in the early development of the trampoline.

Larry Griswold Video from 1951

Thursday, January 20, 2011


There is something unnerving about coming home and finding one of your horses standing by the side of the road eating grass. I chased him up the driveway with the truck and ran him into one of the open pastures. One more month and this escape artist will be gone.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Busy As A...

Out of the entire wild kingdom it seems that the hardest workers are ants, beavers and bees. This is probably because their job is not only to eat and reproduce but a greater goal is to create and maintain a home and fill it will food for hard times. Sure squirrels and many rodents will do the same, but not to the extent of ants, beavers and bees.

I suppose it is the industrious nature of these animals that inspire humans, but somehow I appreciate the browsers and the grazers. Everything they need is provided for them. They are the gypsies, roamers and nomads of the wild.

I recall the last time I went to Hawaii. I paid a small fortune to fly there first class from the East Coast. I paid a small fortune for a suite in the Hawaiian Regent. I felt like one of those industrious animals fortunate enough to squirrel away enough of the abundant money I was making back in those days to provide myself with that life style.

One morning I went out for my early morning walk at 5am and I noticed several people sleeping on the beach tucked up against the sea wall. They covered them self in blankets of newspaper. It was there that I found the grazers. People of wealth paid their money to sleep in hotel rooms close to the ocean, and the people with few resources were sleeping closer to the ocean and getting the full Hawaiian experience. I’m sure they could have gone to shelters, but instead they were fully ensconced in a tropical paradise. Later that morning I sat having breakfast on my balcony and on a bench below I could see several of the guys that live on the beach playing checkers or chess; having coffee and something to eat on benches at street level that overlooked the ocean.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Break in the Sky

My brother called me to see if I wanted to hike up to the top of the property to see if the continual wind and rain of late has done any damage. I agreed since I really needed to take advantage of the momentary lack of rain to check on the seven colonies of bees I have up there. I haven't been up there in the last three weeks and at this time it was too wet to drive the truck up there.

I knew that most of the standing timber that could be knocked down had been destroyed by the storm a few years back, but we found water gushing everywhere. The trails were slick clay when I first moved here, but over the years soil and grass nicely covered over the trails. This rain washed away some of the soil exposing the clay beneath. The inclines were slick, but still passable and none of the trails were washed away.

When we got to the bees I was saddened to see one rather large colony was totally dead. Normally colonies will cut their own population to a couple thousand bees, but this one did not. I had left them enough food for a winter strength colony, but this colony never depopulated itself. It takes a lot more food to feed 20,000 bees than it takes to feed 2,000 bees. Being that I hadn't been able to get up there for the last three weeks; sadly they starved. I also found another dead colony, but all the others were alive and strong. I suspect the stronger colonies robbed the honey from the two colonies that starved.

I gave the there five colonies up there a good dose of food, and I went to check on the colonies by my house. I had lost two of those colonies earlier this winter, but the others were fine. Even the Brownsmead bees were doing well.

Now if I can keep up with the feeding through the rest of the winter the bees may have a really strong start this spring.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away...

I'm sorry to disappoint all of you that come here early to read a post. Frankly this rain is getting to me. I know I moved here for the gloom, but lately it's been too god damn gloomy. I just don't feel like writing when it's this bad around here.

The horses haven't been out for over a week. I let the chickens out and they take cover under the porch. I'm pretty sure all my bees are dead and it's been too wet and windy to check on them. The roofs in my hay room and my shop and garage are leaking. There is a leak in the house as well. I'm seriously considering a move to Eastern Oregon or Washington. Seriously.

I have a neighbor who has been keeping weather records for the last three years and he tells me that rain and winds have been increasing every year. I'm not sure I'd like to continue living here if this trend continues.

The only good thing to come out of all this weather, I heard the frogs chirping in the swamp when I went out to feed the horses this morning.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The King is Dead

For me, every time the Decemberists have a new release I listen with excitement and then finally remove my ear buds disillusioned. A few weeks later I give them another listen and as if by magic I like what I hear. I suppose this is the case with their new release, The King is Dead. I listened to it wondering where all the sound went. Is this Decemberists-Lite or am I just not getting it yet?

Their new collection will be formally released on January 18th but you can hear it in its entirety at NPR until then.

Listen Here

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Enough With Alaska Already

What's the deal with Alaska? I think there is way too much television time dedicated to the state. Think about it. Here is a list of the reality shows I'm aware of that feature Alaska: Ice Road Truckers, Tougher in Alaska, The Deadliest Catch, R-5 Sons Alaska, Sarah Palin's Alaska, Alaska State Troopers, Gold Rush Alaska, Flying Wild Alaska, The Alaska Experiment. There are probably more.

If the Discovery/TLC/History channels want some ideas I'll be happy to share some of mine with them.

Mosquitoes Alaska: A show where they have contests to see how many mosquitoes can be killed with one swat of the hand. The season winner gets a lifetime supply of Deet.

Alaska Bears: A show that shows candid footage of bears shitting in the woods.

I'm Screwed Alaska: A forensic show about all the stupid things people do to get killed in Alaska.

Screw You Alaska: A show about what Canadians really think about their neighbor to the West.

Wild Food Alaska: A show about all the disgusting foods the natives eat like seal flipper and stink eggs.

Loser Alaska: A show about losers from the lower 48 that go up and continue to be totally unemployable even in Alaska.

Don't Cha Know Alaska: A show that continues to portray the life of comedian Sarah Palin as she defiles nature, makes up words, history and geography and shares her Moma Bear values with the media.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Group Order

Are there any locals out there who are planning to order chickens this year? I'd like to order five or six but one place has a minimum of 15 chicks and another has a minimum of 20. Let me know if you are interested and I'll get an order together and give you more details.

Also, while I have you here, does anyone want to order some hedge poplars? They grow 3 feet a year.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ain't Right On The Head

I'm into symmetry. I do my best to make sure the buttons on my shirt line up with the belt and the zipper on my pants. I like to see that my shoes and tires wear evenly. I like things to be balanced, however I have a balance problem that hits me at the core. When ever I ride my horse my wife complains that my saddle is crooked. While I feel centered it's obviously true, a crooked saddle stands out for someone viewing from behind. I do all I can by readjusting it and changing the length of the stirrups, but nothing ever seems to work.

My next problem is with my head. During the rainy season I usually wear a hat when I'm outdoors. I have a couple baseball caps and one stylish full-brimmed hat. They all feel comfortable when I put them on, however whenever I see myself in a reflection the center of my hats are always off to one side. I'll straighten it but as I do the comfort lessens.

So maybe all those people that wear their hats to the side or to the back all have wonky heads as well. I have a new appreciation for them, yet I guess I should be happy my head is only slightly wonky.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When The Call Comes You Must Go

Years ago I was visiting some friends in New York State, and while we were talking the phone rang and we were off on an adventure. My friends had a friend that worked as a stunt actor and his specialty was doing stunts in hot air balloons, so of course he had one. The day was right for a flight so he called and invited us.

Balloons are pretty and exciting and all but they are are a real pain in the ass because they take forever to set up and then you have to have a chase crew to fetch you when the ride is over.

As it turned out he had his crew in place and we arrived to the launch field where the basket sat along side of probably sixty-feet of colorful nylon dragged out flat on the field. A gas powered fan was blowing air bringing the balloon slightly to life. When there was enough air to make it look like a colorful cavern hot air was added to lift it off the ground.

This was carefully done as not to singe the cloth. Eventually the balloon was upright and full. We climbed into the basket and we were ready to take off. The tethers were released and we were off. We were not five feet off the ground when a gust of wind came up and pushed the windward side of the balloon in pushing a gust of warm wind down the neck into the basket where we stood.

The balloonist pulled the rope venting the air through the top and we came back to Earth. It was disappointing for us all, but as he told us, "I'd rather be on the ground wishing we were in the air than be in the air wishing we were on the ground."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Camera Dump

My wife and I (mostly my wife) have been sorting through a life collection of cameras,and camera equipment. So far there are something like 36 cameras and boxes of filters and adapters and lenses and we haven't even begun to jump into the darkroom equipment. The hard part is knowing what is valuable because when you look on ebay most film cameras sell for $10, but then there is the rare camera which we are finding some of those. Our home could look like a camera dump, but she is carefully numbering, labeling and listing each camera and each lens.

At least I am familiar with most of the equipment that has come our way, but I'm in over my head when we are dealing with professional movie cameras.

More equipment coming soon.

Monday, January 10, 2011


During the last month I've been to two memorials for people that have had major impacts on others. There were no fewer than two hundred people at each of these memorials.

Though everyone thinks they contribute towards the betterment of mankind and society there are those who go above and beyond. I wonder how they found enough time in one lifeting to achieve all their accomplishments.

Thinking of my own mortality, as most attendees of memorial services do, I don't have a portfolio of accomplishments that will make my eventual passing notable. Sure, I've taught some classes, done some good deeds and entertained a hand-full of people that read this blog, but I doubt I actually know two hundred people and I doubt I'm close enough with twenty people that would even be interested in attending a memorial when I go. Though it really won't matter to me, but I'd probably be happy with a memorial at a table of six at the Urban Cafe.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Homage to Kinkade

Thursday, January 06, 2011

No Difference

I spent a considerable amount of time on the road last weekend. It gave the chance to do some serious radio surfing. Before I continue on this topic, I have to state that in the past I covered the topic of the differences between the attitudes in music, like how in the Blues the general theme, "You hurt me, and I'm never going to let that happen again you bitch." Country music of old days the theme was "You hurt me, but now I have a bottle and it's going to be OK." I respect both of those themes and find them both amusing.

Well I drove about 30 miles listening to new style Country music, which was basically an affirmation of, "I have my faults, but I'm becoming a better person thanks to you." After resisting a healthy vomit for 30 miles I advanced the radio to the next station was a Contemporary Christian station where the theme was basically an affirmation of, "I have my faults, but I'm becoming a better person thanks to Jesus." Needless to say I did vomit in my mouth at that point. There was absolutely no difference in the music or un-clever lyrics.

What I want to know is how can anyone accept modern Country music or Christian Music as an art form? Haven't these people ever heard an interesting sound or do they just enjoy stuffing marshmallows and mayonnaise shit into their brains?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Honkey Tonks

After hearing the term Honkey Tonk over my life time I only recently thought of looking up the entomology of the term.

Basically what it means is a cheap bar, saloon or night club that features country music. The earliest use of the term was in 1924, earlier the phrase honk-a-tonk was used in 1894.

The "honkey" portion of the term was attributed to the sound of geese, which led an unsuspecting group of cowboys to the flock instead of to the variety show they expected.

The "tonk" portion of the name may have come from a brand name of piano. One American manufacturer of large upright pianos was the firm of William Tonk & Bros.

It seems more of a term to describe the music than an establishment term. There are honkey tonk bars and not all host honkey tonk music. There is a lot of self described honkey tonk music out there, but when you hear the real thing you know it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


I spent some time in Yachats Oregon (pronounced Ya Hots)on Sunday. There is a small State Park on the waters edge. There is an out cropping of basalt where the waves crash. It is very scenic, however the gem of this park is the few small patches of beach. The beach only comprises less than an acre, but the beach is filled with small agates. As one looks down the glistening of these small stones shines like multicolored stars.

Though I don't make jewelry, collecting a small sample of these stones makes me want to start smithing just so I can display my finds for all to see.

Monday, January 03, 2011

From the Bottom Up

We've been having a cold snap here and when I drive by local rivers and marshes and see the stiller waters with a crust of ice I'm reminded of the coldest cold snap I ever experienced when I lived on the East Coast.

Back then I was a hiker. My earliest college class was at 12:30 so I'd get up early and hit the trails for a couple hours each morning. There was a stream I'd often hike along. It originated from Bear Swamp Lake and it had a brisk flow with lots of rocks and falls. It was the perfect fly rod trout stream.

A stream with that volume of water and rapid flow rarely ever froze but it was so cold the water temperature was well below the freezing point and the stream started freezing from the bottom. The boulders on the river bed turned a ghostly white and seemed to glow. After a few days the entire river was frozen from bottom to top. The ice was thick and clear. While walking upon the stream I could see areas where the river still flowed deep beneath the ice.

I walked about a mile up the stream to the first waterfall and it was time to turn back. Though it was beautiful and amazing; it was still cold and I didn't want to freeze like that stream.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Archaic Terms

One of the more charming aspects of the works of James Herriot is the language and terms. Being fresh out of veterinary collage with a mind full of the new scientific terms it took him a while to cone to terms with the the archaic local jargon that described the ailments of the animals he worked on. Terms such as Stagnation O'T' Lung, Husk, and Runnin on Three Cylinders.

Even in the present day I find that there are many maladies of the horse that linger with their old common names. There are Scratches, Mud Fever AKA Greasy Heel, String Hault, Joint Ill, Aural Plaque, Grass Sickness, Heaves, Moon Blindness,Proud Flesh, Rain Rot, Wobbler, Tying-Up,Ring Bone and Side Bone, Rug Sores, Scours, Navel Ill, Strangles, Founder and my personal favorite, Got A Rib Out.

Many of the common names easily describe the conditions they represent and they still work quite well today. They are much easier to say than their Latin medical terms. It's what keeps modern animal husbandry linked to its colorful past.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Death Pool 2011

I didn't do so well on last years Death Pool. One person on the list was already dead and only one, Elizabeth Edwards, of the twelve others actually passed. Since I pick the candidates so poorly there is a good chance that my choices will squeak out another year.

So here is the 2011 Death Pool. Remember no wagering.

Billy Graham
Elizabeth Taylor
Maya Angelou
Martin Landeau
Ed Asner
June Lockhart
Robert Duvall
Gordon Lightfoot
Andy Grifith
Dr Ruth Westheimer
Roslyn Carter
Larry King
Tim Conway
Jim Neighbors
Sun Myung Moon
Frank Gifford
John Madden
Buck Henry