Monday, November 22, 2021

Day Trader Blues


 When I was a lad around 12 years of age I became fascinated with the stock market.  I would hear my father and one of his friends talk about stocks often. My father was a small-time conservative investor of mostly blue chip stocks.  A lot of people dabbled in those days.  

I listened and read and learned as much as I could.  I followed stocks in the daily paper and drew graphs of the ones of which I was interested.. in hopes of detecting money making patterns.  I would often buy a copy of the Wall Street Journal and I would ride my bike to the next town over and visit a small stock exchange office to watch the boards with other local investors.  I must have been quite a site sitting there watching with intensity.  I was a future capitalist in the making.

Wanting to encourage me, my father was proud of my interest and decided to invest $325 on my behalf with the Uniform Gift to Minors section so the stocks would be in my name.  He asked me to come up with a stock to purchase. I had one in  mind as I was not a timid investor.  I had my eye on a company called Andy Guard.  It was a toy company and I watched and enjoyed it volitivity over recent months going from fifty-cents per share to sometimes to sometimes over $2.50per share.  I wanted to ride that dragon, however my father thought he new better with his conservative strategy. My plan was to buy low and sell high a couple times and then switch to another roller coaster with a larger volume.  As I said, my father was a conservative investor.  So he set me up with a company called Astrex which was a company that made electronic vacuum tubes.  He purchased 50 shares for me at $6.50.  

I told him it was a bad idea since vacuum tubes were going to go away with the advent of transistors.  He asked me to trust him.  Over the next couple of years I watched the anemic performance of the stock symbol ASI made little progress in my portfolio.  However like a sun that was about to go nova there was a change near the end.  The stock was having steady gains and when it finally rose to $12.50 per share I begged him to sell; he would not.  It went up to $16 and I told him it couldn't sustain and I begged him again and then it went nova.  With a bright flash it sunk over the he next few weeks where it sat between $2 and 3.50 per share.  It later became a black hole at 50-cents.  

Astrex was then acquired by another company and they offered me $5.00 dollars to buy back my shares or I could keep them and get nothing.  At this point I was an adult and I finally had a choice in the matter.  

What could have been if my father only listened to me and purchased Andy Guard and let me ride that dragon.  Andy Guard eventually went belly up as well, but I knew when to get out of that one. My charts were undeniable proof that I understood the patterns of the market.

The residual bitterness of that experience of powerlessness changed me into a non investor even to this day.

Saturday, November 06, 2021


 I'm glad I didn't become a vlogger.  In an earlier post you may have seen I was considering starting a Youtube channel, but thankfully I came to my senses.  Yes, I am retired now and I pretty much do what I want when ever I want.  I prefer to take things on with my full attention and not have the distraction of  how to turn all of my situations into content for the channel.  I don't have to set up my Gopro or wear one on my forehead like a tefilln.  I don't have to set up other cameras and iphones to capture it all and then go through the process of editing and posting.  I don't have to consider merch...

Case in point, something of a new experience happened the other day which would have made some good content, but I probably would have ruined everything in the process.  I was working with my backhoe the other day digging a hole in one of my fields in search of finding the water level before the rains came.  I found water at a depth of three feet and that is probably the level where it will be during the summer when I'd like to pump water to irrigate a field to keep the grass growing for the horses.  anyway a hydraulic hose blew on on the backhoe and I had to shut everything down quickly to prevent emptying the hydraulic reservoir onto the earth.

At that point the tractor was dead and I couldn't move it to a convenient area to work on it.  Though the backhoe has it's own isolated fluid system I could disengage it, but the problem was that I would need to run the system to raise the bucket and the outriggers arms which would purge more fluid.  

So I drag out some tools to remove the broken hose, then take a drive to England Marine and  $51 dollars later I have a new hose and then I was off to Auto Zone to buy a gallon of 10W-40 for another 30 dollars and I was back in business.  That is the recommended fluid for the backhoe.  Did you know that 10W-40 is actually hard to find these days?

Well, a half hour later I an home and back in business.  I scooped up the small amount of contaminated soil with the loader and put it on the burn pile to be purified with fire.  I am sure this would have all made good video content for tractor, backhoe and hole digging enthusiasts, but they will just have to read about it here.  and yes, there are these types of enthusiasts on Youtube.  That's where I go for such videos.  Hell, I even subscribe to two saw mill vloggers.  Sounds dull but it is anything but.

In conclusion, you won't be able to see a video of this adventure, but I leave it to the readers of this to picture it in your minds.  That is all for now...

Thursday, October 21, 2021

But They Has So Much More To Give

 

In most cases I say bullshit to the title of this post.  This is in reference to young performers who die at the peak of their careers.  Very few of them would be worth a damn today and here's some of them.

Janis Joplin: Her Big Brother stuff was novel and when she branched out with the over produced Pearl album her work was becoming too pedestrian to sustain any brilliance in her future.

Kurt Cobain: Yes, he was at the top when he went out, but a predictor of his possible evolution leads me to believe he would just have become another Foo Fighter

Jim Morrison: His singing was becoming an unintelligible moan towards his end.  I think he would have realized that the printed word would treat him well in his old age, except no one gets rich from publishing poetry. Thankfully he would have had royalties to fall back on.

John Denver: Yes, he had some catchy tunes that have become ear worms of several generations, but he was becoming more of a parody of himself.  He was unsustainable in the long run.

Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson: Talk about being a parody of oneself...  I think his popularity in his later years was similar to the popularity of Andy Kaufman where you were embarrassed for him, but you couldn't look away.

Amy Winehouse:  I'm on the fence about her.  She had major talent and I guess she left us wanting more, but more of what I don't know. 

Prince: Has anyone actually listened to any of his stuff released after Purple Rain.  His best was behind him after that point.

Whitney Huston: I have no idea why she was famous in the first place with her caterwauling.

Now, there are some people I believe would have continued contributing to their craft and to the good of mankind for decades to come had they continued living and those would be Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty and Mozart. Aside from them the world has been full of one of a couple hit wonders who went out on a good note.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

What a Good Day Looks Like

Some people have a high threshold for what a good day is to them.  I have only a very simple bench marks to check off to reach that goal.

First, if I sleep until 7AM a good day is possible.  If the first cup of coffee is excellent I move the needle up a smidge. Then if I have a hot breakfast I'm sailing along.  If I can get in a nap before 1PM, the bells are starting to ring.  If I don't have to visit an auto parts store it becomes a banner day.

By the way, I rarely get away with going to just one auto parts store.  I usually start with Auto Zone, and they will have only one when I need a set of two.  Then to O'Riley's and they have no idea of what I'm talking about.  Then I go to Napa and they know what I'm talking about but they have to order it and it will be there the next morning by 8:30AM, which means I will be visiting an auto parts store two days in a row...

In addition to the auto parts stores, it is a good day when I don't have to go to a feed store or a marine supply store.

So to sum it up so far, if I meet all the criterion of the second paragraph I am sailing along.  If I get to look at a body of water things are really looking up. If I get home a nd have all my chores done by 5PM, I am stellar.  If Pizza is for dinner I'm sliding into home plate.  If my entertainment consists of post from my favorite You Tubers, my goal is within sight.  Finally if I am in bed and falling asleep by 10PM I have won the good day award.
 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Covid 45

 Oddly, of all the ways to die I have never personally known anyone who has drowned.  On the the hand I know a great many people who have taken their own lives.  To me it is a sad and lonely exit for which I initially feel deep sorrow and pity, but then I get angry over each occurrence, as do most people.  I suppose it is a competitive selfish factor.  Their selfish desire to be removed from existence is competition with my selfish desire for everyone I know to live happily ever after, even though we are no longer close friends.

Until today I had not personally known anyone who died from Covid.  I find that I am pissed off about it because in this case it was totally preventable and in my book it seemed to be akin to suicide.  I don't know why they didn't get vaccinated, but I suppose it came from a misguided political leaning.  

Nothing could possibly be pleasant leaving life behind in this way.  I feel enormous sadness for their close friends and family that they are leaving behind.

Seriously, this is really bad, and resisting doing something about it is potentially going to spread this sort of sadness to everyone you know and everyone who cares about you.  Please consider sneaking away to your pharmacy and getting a Covid shot.  No one will ever know.  If you do it will hasten life getting back to normal for everyone.  You can continuing hating Biden and continue driving around with your Trump flag and your Timberstupidity stickers.  Just do yourself and humanity this one little kindness and all may be well again. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

OK Millennials


 Yes, I am a Boomer and that doesn't bother me, but it seems to bother millennials who think my generation never had any challenges and that everything was handed to us.  We didn't grow up in a Rockwell world as many would think.

First of all our entertainment was very limited.  There was a stiff guy on TV on Sunday nights that thought we needed to see a Singing Nun, and a puppet mouse and people twirling plates on the end s of sticks.  We were patient and hoped that something good would come out one day, and it finally did.  The stiff man introduced us to the Beatles.  Besides that wonderful achievement we were still mired in radio stations that played songs like, "How Much is that Doggie in the Window."

We had to buy music in the record store, or record it from the radio on our reel to reel tape recorders with the DJ stepping over the beginning and the ends of each song with their artificial voices.  We didn't have Napster or Pirate Bay.  We didn't even have tape cassettes yet.

If you had a car you were lucky if you had windows that you didn't have to roll up and down manually.  A car with air conditioning was still a miracle futuristic thing that we all dreamed of.

Later we all worried about being sent to be a capitalist sacrifice in Viet Nam.

Sadly we were the last generation that learned everything we needed to know to get a family wage job straight out of high school.  Shop classes taught us how to weld, work with wood, type set and print, type and learn office skills.  Today you need to enroll in a community college for two years to learn what they should have taught you in high school, especially in math, language and social studies. 

Generations that came after us should be thankful that we pulled back the curtains on the insidious nature of government and corporate America.  Unfortunately we didn't wield any power at the time that would have prevented people like Ronald Reagan from ruining our future.  Christ, we even still have trouble counteracting Trump.

It isn't that the Boomers took advantage of things back in our early days.  These advantages were granted and free flowing back then.  Later these advantages were reeled in by greed and it remains to be seen if the good days will ever be seen again.  People may now be too suspicious when good things come around,  Think of all the people who are suspicious of a vaccination that costs nothing out of pocket.  

We as a people can be strong in mass but the fear of the power of the masses may doom us all.

Friday, July 09, 2021

 


This is the 1955th post on this Blog, which coincidentally is the same year I was born.  I feel obliged to share an old-timey story.

I had a dental appointment today.  I had to wait nearly two months for this appointment.  Everyone at the office was dressed in their Covid 45 space suits.  I couldn't see the doctor's eyes because he had magnifying loops attached to his glasses under his astronaut helmet.  I could hardly understand what he was saying to me.  It was as though I had been abducted by aliens, but without the anal probe.  I'm sure this sight would frighten any child on their first appointment.

I was not terrified by my dental visits as a child.  It was a neighborhood institution, two doors down the street from my home. It was Doc Meyer.  His office was a two room building, what we would be called tiny home today.  Doc Meyers didn't live there, it was simply his office. There was a waiting room with 8 chairs, a coat rack and a table with magazines on it.  There was the front door and a door with waive glass that connected the waiting room with the operatory.  

Doc Meyers was an older gentleman, probably in his 60s.  He was friendly and had a smiley disposition.  He had short cropped silver and his teeth were far from perfect.  His teeth were probably very healthy because there were gaps between every tooth that were wide enough that he could probably slide the thick middle of a round toothpick between every tooth from tongue to gum without touching either tooth in the process.

The office I went into today was a calculated overdesigned nightmare.  Vaulted ceilings to make the rooms look larger. The use of fake stone walls to make the building look more permeant.  A fake fireplace to make the place look homey.  There was no scent in the air.

Doc Meyers office looked like it was out of a Rockwell painting with the scent of clove oil in the air.

The modern office has space age dental chairs.  Radiographs are processed immediately onto a flat screen monitor.  Anesthetic is disbursed by a machine that beeps.  There are halogen lamps, and yellow lights that assist the staff in seeing what is going on when they are using ultraviolet lights to cure the fillings.

In Doc Meyers office he had to process the X-rays in the cellar under the operatory. He would numb you with reusable needles in a syringe filled with Novocain, which was in use before carbocyanine or lidocaine. The seat was a barber chair.  His instruments were belt driven, not air driven.  There was no suction tube, but instead a cuspidor.  I don't think that he even kept chart notes.  I don't recall how he was paid.  I'd just walk in without an appointment, he'd work on me and then I would walk home.  No note or bill to take with me. He must have sent a bill in the mail.

I know I'm over romanticizing the old days and I wouldn't want to go back to those pioneer days of dental treatment. However the amount I paid today was nearly 1/4 of the cost of my first car that I bought off the show room floor in 1972. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Finally


 Those of you who have faithfully followed this blog over the years will surely remember that the one thing that has always been on the top of my want list has been a shinny new backhoe.  Well, I finally got one.  It isn't new nor shinny but it works like a dream.  It is an 80's Mitsubishi Satoh Buck.  It is a 3 cylinder, 18.5 horse diesel.  Other than surface rust on the loader arms; there is nothing wrong with it.

No longer will I need to turn the compost by hand.  No longer will I need to dig out stumps with a shovel.  No longer will I have to cut sod and dig trenches by hand.  No longer will I need to hire someone to burry a horse. 

Every day I've been doing something with it and I've only wrecked one wisteria arbor, which I will get around to fixing one day.  I've also dug a trench to burry a water and electric line to one of the pastures.  I cleared over a hundred feet of berry vines that were obstructing a pasture fence line.  I've turned the horse manure compost pile twice and leveled another compost pile.  I pulled a near death spruce treee out of the ground.  Soon I will re-stone the driveway and then I plan to add some drainage tiles and stone and then top coat the round pen so we can exercise the horses during the rainy winter months.

After working on this tractor for several hours yesterday I came away with the feeling that I had an excellent day and I feel I will have many more to come.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Fishing



 
One of the biggest challenges I've found in my retirement is fishing.  I grew up fishing on the east coast. I had a good grasp of fishing there and it was easy.  I'd generally go out and get my limit no matter where and when I'd go fishing.  Oddly here in Oregon I haven't developed the local skill. I have been successful on the odd occasion which only emboldens me to embrace future failure.  

When people walk by and ask if I'm catching anything, my reply is often, "I'm weeding the lake or river one cast at a time", which is often the case.

I go out mostly to relax and enjoy the outdoors.  Yes it would be nice to have a catch every once in a while, but I don't get upset when there is nothing, except the other day.  I was fishing the south side of Coffinberry Lake. I had the dock and the picnic table all to my self when along comes this guy asking if I minded him sharing the dock.  I agreed and he was a nice enough guy, but a bit on the talkative side. I don't go fishing to socialize. I know I could have moved off to regain my solidarity, but somehow there was little discomfort.

We both started off trying different lures and nothing was working, and then we both switched to Power Bait.  Suddenly this other fellow got a hit, a strong hit and then he pulled in a nice fifteen-inch trout.  On the next cast he got another, and then on his next cast, yet another.

We were casting in the same general area, using the same baits and setups.  He nailed three trout and I got none.  Was it dumb luck?  Skill?  Karma??? 

I will continue putting in my time on the lakes and streams.  Perhaps I will learn to improve my odds against the house, or hone my craft, or pay off my karmic debt, but I will not give up...yet.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Sellers Remorse

 We are all familiar with buyers remorse, but I have only felt sellers remorse twice in my life.  The first time was when I sold a nuc of bees to someone who didn't take my beekeeping class.  It was a total disaster.  At least twice a year for several years after I was called to this person's house because their bees had swarmed.  Sure I got to keep the swarms, but I feel bad for his neighbors who had to suffer through the swarms and bees moving into their structures.  At the time I felt comfortable selling him those bees because he showed me he had the proper equipment and a couple of books.  I was wrong.

Last week I had sellers remorse again.  I sold our pop-up tent trailer to someone who was too eager to buy it. I know that campers are a hot item right now, and the idea of owning a compact unit like a pop-up is much better than the reality.  I hope the buyer has some retention of my warnings, though I'm not sure their attention span was fully present.  There are simple things that one must know like being level really matters if you want the sink to drain, or have the refrigerator work, or even have the door fit correctly and close.  There are other things like how to fold up the camper, and not putting the camper up for the winter if the canvas is damp.  

Then the winterizing instructions have to be followed.  One year I didn't winterize and the next year I had to replace the water pump, the flushing pump for the toilet and the propane regulator.  

In short, my remorse isn't from selling I truly cherished.  We already have a new truck camper that we will be using.  My remorse is for the buyer who I'm not sure can handle the responsibilities of ownership.  This type of camper is not something someone should have if they don't have strength, follow-through and patients to handle all the challenges that come with this type of camper.  I didn't see these qualities in the buyer or any of the family members.  I wish them luck and by writing this I wash my hands in the deal.


 

Monday, April 05, 2021

Banking on Human Stupidity


 Have you ever gotten notice of a price increase of a product or service where they state, "we are increasing our price to stay competitive"? Does that make sense on any level? My cable company has done this in the past and I recently got one of these notices from Netflix.  

If they want to be competitive they should lower their price so people will flock to them rather than Paramount, Disney, Hulu... So rather than pay the higher price I lowered my service version from the now over $15 per month to the $8 a month service.  My former plan allowed me to watch on four devices and the half price allows me to watch on one TV and one other device.  I only watch on one at a time anyway.

My cable company has just begun offering a streaming service for $15 per month which I am considering ove my current cable plan.  I am actually at the point where I'd do just fine cutting the cable all together and watching everything I need through YouTube and what ever I can find with my VPN.

Corporate greed is not good and I do not want to perpetuate it.




Monday, March 15, 2021

Top 10 Worst Drivers in Oregon


 Every state should be able to produce a list such as this, but after living in Oregon for one year shy of half of my life I think I am qualified to produce a list for my state.  I present the top ten worse drivers in Oregon.  Here goes...

10. Ford Mustang drivers.

9. Any car or truck with flags.

8. White pickup trucks.

7. Washington Drivers.

6. All muscle car drivers 

5. Anyone with a TimberStupidity# decal.

4. Most any Toyota driver.

3. Cops

2.  All small Toyota trucks with big tires.

1. Low-riding Hondas with a loud exhaust system

That is all for now...


Monday, February 22, 2021

Rain and Retirement

I am really enjoying my retirement.  I have a list in my head of things that I need to do and if I get to one of them every day I feel accomplished.  I don't ever set a goal of more than one thing per day because I know I don't have the energy that I used to have.  If I get out before Noon I'm content and if I get in by 5PM I'm very happy.  Things always take longer than I anticipate these days.  I spent four hours putting chains on the lawn tractor the other day. It should have been a simple job, but it wasn't.

I don't set the bar very high at all on rainy days. I always have to take care of the horses and sometimes I don't even go out there until late afternoon.  This may horrify some of you that I only look in on them once a day when it is raining, but I have them covered.  I installed WiFi cameras so I can check on them with my phone at any time.  I can see how much hay they have and how much mucking out needs to be done.  I can even hit the mic switch and talk to them if I like.  I can even hit their mic switch to see if they have anything to say to me. They aren't normally very talkative. That's one thing I do like about them. The cameras also have night vision so I can see them in the dark.

Hopefully the rains will end soon and I'll be able to put them out in one of the fields that they haven't totally ruined.  Horses are hard on wet soil.  I'm running out of room in the manure storage bin. 

Like the horses I want to get out as well.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Anticlimax

 OK, for the few of you who replied I was hoping to share with you a new direction for the Astoria Rust blog.  I was going to move all of this into a You Tube vlog.  I spend a lot of time on You Tube these days.  It's my on-demand source for entertainment and education.  It's a good format, but I've made some attempts at starting the filming process with an iphone and a Gopro and I couldn't stand it.

The stuff I'm watching has at least some technique and editing, but have you ever tried using a video editor?  It's a nightmare.  Maybe I'm showing my age, but as a Boomer I've coped and overcome tech challenges since I owned my first Sinclair computer, my Apple I and Apple IIe.  I continued overcoming challenges with my IBM-XT and DOS its amazing 10MB hard drive.  Then came Windows.  I noticed the beginning of my tech downfall after Windows 95 was replaced by Windows 98.  Since then it has been two decades of my barely treading the tech waters with all the new things such  Android, IOS, Windows 10, Linux and Unix...

Another deterrent from producing videos is that I can't stand the sound of my own voice.  I truly considered running my voice through a synthesizer program.  Maybe it would come off better sounding like Stephen Hawking.

I must say that I do miss blogging and miss many of the friends I made along the way in this on-line environment, though many are still with me on Facebook. Facebook has been a means of thoughtless communication for me.  It's easy with little writing required. Just a good place to post memes that echo my cynicism and sense of irony.

Yes, gone are the golden days of blogging, but I suppose I will continue on from time to time.  I refuse to blog on a daily basis like I used to.  It is a fine way to communicate, though I may tend to look like the wall paper in your grand mothers house from time to time.  Please bear with me.

Friday, January 15, 2021

 Are any of my old readers still out there?  Please reply for a special update...

Monday, July 16, 2018

Pollinators of the UK

From all the articles I've read and correspondence I've had over the years with European Beekeepers, I figured there would be hives everywhere.  However, I never saw a hive nor a honey bee in Belgium.  I didn't see much in England.  There are flowers everywhere.  The English are very proud of their gardening skills.  We were there in May when I can see a bee nearly anywhere I look in Oregon.

We were probably into our seventh day be fore I saw my first honey bee outside of a restaurant  accross from Bodnant Garden.  They were actually plentiful, but after that more honey bee dearth through Northern England.  We saw no bees in Bath, Wells, Glastonbury, Kensit, Stow, the Lake District, Conwy, or London... I didn't even see a bee in the Kensington Palace Garden.  I saw a lot of begging American gray squirrels, but not one honey bee.

I had to wait until I got to York for my next encounter and I didn't actually see any bees there, but I did see two back-yard hives at a home from the York Wall near York Minster. 

The photo above is one that I use in the class that I teach that illustrates that beekeeping can be a good project for city dwellers. That is the Tower Bridge in London in the background.

The next time I go over, I am going to seek out the bee community.

Conversation With A Young Britt

Bodnant Gardens
We visited  Bodnant Gardens on our way out of Wales.  It is a magnificent part of the National Trust with miles of trails through formal gardens, fields, forest, ponds, streams and pools.  

Zan, with camera in hand was constantly on the lookout for the right angle on nearly every plant for her floral series.  She was laying on some rocks working on some water lilies when a father arrived with his two children.  The son wanted to get closer to the pond to look for polliwogs and Zan was in the flower zone and I had to break her trance to let the children pass by.  Upon hearing my accent the father saw an opportunity for his children to speak with some real Americans.  She he introduced himself and his children as we introduced ourselves.  

We told them were we were from, Oregon and its geographical location and all about where we lived.  The daughter was shy and reserved, but the boy had a lot of questions about the animals that are native to where we lived.  I can imagine him envisioning the wild west wilderness when we told him about black bears, cougars and Roosevelt elk.  We told him of the sea lions, beavers and otters.  The father seemed delighted of what we were offering by way of conversation.  We told them that we have horses and honey bees at our house.

After we ran through all the animal stories we could think of, the lads attention opened up to another type of question.  He asked, "Have you ever met Elvis Presley?"  Seeing us as older Americans, I had to tell him that Elvis was more popular with my older sisters' generation.  He was disappointed, but I did mention some of the famous Americans I've met which he hadn't heard of, but who his father was keen to hear about.  

It was a fine time spent.  This was a good father trying by every means to enrich the intellect of his children.  As time went on I wondered about his fascination with Elvis.  Where did it come from?  I doubt that there are a lot 10 year old Americans who know or even care about Elvis.if they've heard of him.  Most Americans I know think of Elvis as a parody of himself.

Later on in the trip I noticed that a lot of smaller eateries and coffee shops in the UK play American 50's music in their establishments.  It happened in several places in Bath, York and London.  I think they just love the stuff.  Personally I would have preferred to hear British music from the 50's.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Food in the UK

When traveling to the UK you might expect the food to be gray and tasteless, but this is not the case.  Though most foods look like they've been baked or deep fried, don't let that put you off.  What should put you off is the lack of anything green on your plate other than a small container of mashed peas as pictured above.

In an earlier post I mentioned how hard it is to get ice in the UK.  That's nothing compared to getting a salad. The best you can hope for are root vegetables.  Now don't get me wrong; they do wonderful things with root vegetables, especially potatoes.  The famines have taken their potato skills to a whole other level that can't even be whispered at in Idaho.

My first hint of the dearth of greenery came on out third night in Bath.  We were too tired to go out to eat so I opted to go to a neighborhood small-time burger joint to get some burgers and shakes to go.  A lad about 18 years of age whas running the whole show.  He asked if I wanted salad with the burgers, and I said, "Yes Please! in hopes that if Zan didn't like the food she would still have a salad that would agree with her.

When I got back to our room and opened the bag I realized that his offer of salad really meant "Would you like a piece of lettuce on your burger?"

I believe in all the places we dined while over there a real salad was offered on only two menus.
Though I must say we had some excellent food while traveling complimented by the finest root vegetables.

Two notable common foods were also excellent.  Fish and chips is a staple.  Chips being what we call steak fries where nothing special, however the fish has a very light and airy tempura thing going on.  It puffs away from the fish making the meal look much larger than it actually is.

The other is the pastie, which is pronounced "Past-Tea" and not like the like the nipple covering in strip clubs.  This food was created for miners.  It is a round pastry dough that is filled with meat and vegetables and then folded over into a half circle and crimped at the seams.  Miners who worked in the tin mines would put a warm pastie in their pocket and work until lunch.  They removed the pastie and ate all but the crimped crust which is the handle of the pastie.  Tin miners often had arsenic on their hands that is present in tin mines.  They would hold the pastie  by the crumpled edge and eat all they could except where they touched it.  That crumpled edge would be thrown away.

The pastie I had was on the bland side, however making them with a nice sauce inside like B-B-Q sauce or teriyaki and adding some onions and garlic could turn this pastry into a craze that could challenge the American Hamburger...Seriously.  It's a complete meal.

One Thing The USA Does Right

Traveling to Europe was an enlightening thing.  All of those people that say the USA is Number 1 really haven't a clue of how far behind we actually are on many fronts.  However, I do have one thing in mind that where the USA is out in front of all the places I visited and that is the Americans With Disabilities Act, also known here as the ADA, not to be confused with the American Dental Association.

If you have a major mobility issue a trip to Europe needs to be carefully planned.  There are cobblestone streets everywhere in the UK. It is rare to find a shop without at least one step to overcome before entering.  Some train stations in Belgium have a lot of steps between platforms and the trains have steps. You need to call ahead for special accommodations which means the station will often reroute the train to a different platform and employ personnel to haul ramps or other equipment to assist the disabled passengers.

London is somewhat better.  The Tube Stations all have lifts (elevators), yet still there is the constant reminder to "Mind the Gap".  There is also room on the trains for wheelchairs park, though most people store luggage there.

We only stayed in thee hotels that had elevators, two of which had stairs to the main entrance.  Two porters would come out to physically hoist the wheelchair up the stairs.  No entrance ramps in sight. Though the B&Bs we stayed in were large enough to accommodate 30 people or more, they all had steps to enter and narrow stairs to each floor. 

I'm sure many places have ways to accommodate persons of diminished abilities and other places just can't.  For many the airport will be the last place with abundant accessibility.


Traffic vs. Trains

We drove up North on Friday, and as usual there was a traffic jam from Olympia to Kirkland, and I wondered how The United States lost its way.  Thousands of cars with relatively few passengers.  In Europe few would ever consider driving their cars very far out of town.  Trains are the normal mode of travel.  Generally everywhere you need to go is on a rail line.

Any time we asked about which train to catch, it seemed that everyone had apps on their phones that could adderss any question we had.  The trains were fast and comfortable.  They are the main part of the European infrastructure.

When you mention trains to an American they discount the entire rail process.  But few people I know have ridden on any sort of train in ages.  Yes, we could have taken a train to Seattle, but once there there were few other options to get where we wanted to go.  Portland has a great light rail system, so if you were coming to Portland your transportations needs could be easily met.

Why doesn't the US value the rails as part of its infrastructure?  Where is our money going instead?  What I see is that the US is supporting oil companies and is in too deep with it defense budget to even attempt to think sensibly like Europeans to lessen the burdens of its citizens.