Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Salute to 2008

Little did I know that the snowman built in my yard on Christmas Eve (by a member of the Snabulus family) would melt into an interesting gesture, but I think it sums up 2008 rather well. What started as something resembling human ended up, as President Bush put it, gesturing back at us with less than all five fingers (which he may have learned from the Dean!). In the end, it was just sticks in the grass.

Nonetheless, I would like to hear from you. What are three (or more) good and three (or more) not-so-good things you would like to attribute to the year that passed. They can be personal, cultural, political, or anything you want. You can make your own categories if you want to. Have fun with it.

The winner receives a 2008 VW Jetta. There will be no winner. However, I am 5 billion dollars in debt, so please bail me out.

I will start...

3 Good Things:

  1. My knee is finally doing better.

  2. I still have a job and my family is healthy.

  3. Our house is painted and looks pretty decent.

3 Bad Things:

  1. My other knee is killing me. (Just kidding). The economy. Thanks to taxation rules prohibiting distributions to non-market based retirement funds, most people have highly devalued retirement and education investments.

  2. The untimely death of Josh Westhaver. Sudden tragedy is a terrible thing. I know most readers here have known this pain; some many times over. My heart goes out to you. Geez. I can't even get through a blog post without tearing up.

  3. The continuing destruction around the world caused by humans against other humans. Inhuman.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry (White) Christmas

Merry Christmas Snabulus readers. I thought I would share a public information statement from the National Weather Service.

... Christmas 2008 is by far the snowiest in Portland history...
... December 2008 is the snowiest December on record near Portland

Residents of the Portland Metro area have had an abundance of snow over nearly the past two weeks now... with falling snow reported at Portland Airport today for the 11th consecutive calendar day.

Historically... the 18.9 inches of snow that have fallen so far this month at the National Weather Service office in northeast Portland ranks this as the snowiest December since records began at the nearby Airport in 1940. Additionally... this month now ranks as the second snowiest month on record... only beaten by the remarkable 41.0 inches that fell in January 1950.

Note that while December 2008 GOES down in the record books as of the snowiest in history since 1940... there were many months prior to 1940 where the official downtown Portland climate site recorded snowfall in excess of 30 inches. This well exceeds the amount of snow reported from anywhere in downtown Portland for December 2008.


... Portland Airport and nearby National Weather Service office...

Snow data period of record: Portland airport: 1940-1996...
NWS office: 1996-present)

snowiest decembers
****** 1. 2008 December 18.9 inches ******
2. 1968 December 15.7 inches
3. 1964 December 11.0 inches
4. 1972 December 6.1 inches

snowiest months (any month)
1. 1950 January 41.0 inches
****** 2. 2008 December 18.9 inches ******
3. 1969 January 18.3 inches
4. 1968 December 15.7 inches
5. 1951 March 12.9 inches
6. 1980 January 12.4 inches
7. 1964 December 11.0 inches


Notice how December of 68 was followed by an even snowier January of 69. My mom wrote of a winter when I was a baby when the snow reached the 3 foot porch at the old house. I believe it. Image a combined 34 inches of snow in a city with no salting equipment and very limited plowing capabilities. I am happy with the current pile melting.

Of the 11 days of snow, today was the first day I saw sun on the snow. It made me realize that, as pretty as the storm was, the sight of sun on the snow is 10 times prettier. Good old dingy, gray Oregon. Sadly, it is going to warm up and stay gray and rainy, so there will be no brilliant days with white land and blue sky. Maybe next storm...sigh.

Have fun all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Snow Pics

This is officially the biggest snow storm of my life (which isn't saying much to some of you other Northerners). Here are a few more photos of the experience.

Where is Birdo? There is an Oregon Junco hiding out here in the dregs of our cherry tomatoes. See if you can find it.

This is a shot of our Red Versa. If you look close, you can see the stratigraphy of this storm. There is about 6" of snow under 3/8" of ice under another 4" of snow (the actual depths were more but the wind kept the cars a bit cleaner).

After the freezing rain, I saw the birds trying to get food under the ice in vain, so I went to the store and got some sunflower seeds for them. I think they approved.

Another junco.

Not sure what this bird is, but it found the food!

These are two 5 gallon buckets I left outside. As you can see, the snow has almost buried them. I find the cones above them somewhat attractive for reasons I cannot fathom.

Random Intolerance Cartoon

I saw a pretty good cartoon over at Alternet for the article entitled, How to Get on an Atheist's Good Side by Greta Christina

Replace gays for atheists and you have the whole Obama / Rick Warren thing in a nutshell. Obama got a good trade out of it though. He was able to speak to a few thousand in return for Warren being able to speak to the whole world at an inauguration. There were better conservative voices than a Megachurch pastor. How about a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness? Or no prayer at all since it is all posturing anyway...Ah well.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Super Mega Winter Blast Burst Freeze 2008!!!!! Part Deux

Well, the snow keeps on falling. We are over 6" (15cm) with that much more expected tonight. That would set a record for my lifetime (although I heard we had a few feet [1m] the year before I was born).

Here are a few shots from earlier today.

UPDATE: The precipitation picked up this evening and we could hit the one foot mark. That would be a first for me at my own residence. The black pot is about 18" in diameter.

And here are the originals...

Friday, December 19, 2008

If You Can Read This, You're Old

The MiniSnab just informed me that MySpace rocks and blogs are what old people do. Oops, pardon me while I go take some Geritol...dang it all I can't find my walker. Old. Geez, I must be ALMOST 30 or something. It was an interesting little snippet of conversation between her Aunt, Ladybug, and myself. While I left behind the 30 marker a long time ago, it was all very amusing.

(Don't assume I was kidding about the Geritol and the walker...okay, assume.)

In other news...

Portland, Oregon has been channeling the spirit of Philly or Boston this week. Snow, cold, and wind have been the major themes along with generally yucky roads (although the last 2 afternoons weren't bad). The real fun is supposed to start tomorrow night when (supposedly) 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25cm) of snow are supposed to fall in Portland. This is going to be followed (we are told) with a half inch (1.25 cm) of freezing rain on top. It is a good thing we are heading into the holidays because the MiniSnab has already missed a week of school (Arkonbey is probably saying WTF?) due to the weather. I have a feeling that will need to be made up later in order to meet state requirements. I have a totalled Saturn station wagon with ABS, traction control, and brand new chains, so we can head out for groceries if needed (or walk to 7/11 and live off of junk food). This is the one time of year having a trashed but running vehicle pays dividends.

In yet other news...

Well, I was going to write about current events, but I changed my mind. Most of it is contrived crap. So fudge'em.

I have a fair amount of vacation to use up, so I have only one work day before the end of the year. All this time off is really welcome because I realize how much I've sacrificed for this small company over the last 7 years. This is my due and I am taking it. Thanks to the holidays and the overall financial scene, I am going to focus hard on the home front instead of going on any long trips.

I just finished Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It was an interesting book with a very sobering message, but Cat's Cradle was written better and engaged me more. Vonnegut was a POW who was one of the few to survive the firebombing of Dresden. The number who died in that event was around 130,000. After reading this and contemplating what I read about Moody and Pandabonium's trips to Hiroshima. After all that apocalyptic destruction that makes 9/11 look like a gnat on an elephant's ass, one must hope that it is never repaid in kind and that we learn to quit talking like it is our divine and sole right to wield such demonic power. And yet if it is going to happen, you and I will be powerless to stop it. So it goes.

The next book is Good Omens by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman. It should be more a bit more fun.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Splotchy Contribution

I had to approach the matter delicately. Mere lack of humanity would be no excuse as far as Lilith was concerned; she was so particular about such things. When she moved she always did so with purpose. Every step, every breath, every twitch in the nether regions, every time her arm flexed in that characteristic way it always did whenever she scratched her left eyebrow (which always annoyed the spit out of me), it was all part of her routine. As far as I knew she was still as much in the flesh as when she was born, but there were often times when she seemed more mechanical than I. Her wires were of a different sort from mine; they were woven from ego rather than alloy.

I remember clearly how I struggled to find the words. Unfortunately, when the implants had gone in, my imagination had gone out. Improvisational eloquence used to be second nature to me, but like a thesaurus that had accidentally gone through the wash, I was left only with so many incoherent smudges in my mind. I stammered and quickly shoved the stammer into yet another box of meaningless small talk. But she was too sharp for that.

"Huh!" she said. Strange. It wasn't a "Huh?" of curiosity; rather, it was a "Huh!" of idiotic amusement.

"Huh huh!"

I asked her what was wrong, and I got only more "huh"s.

No, that was wrong. I remembered that day clearly. She hadn't said or done any of that. The memory was all wrong. My recollection of that day had somehow become corrupted. Had they found me out? Were they using some nameless telepathic conduit into my soul to twist my memories into a blasphemous abomination?

"Huh huh!"

No, wait. It was even more wrong, for I knew I was no longer thinking of that day. So the "huh"s weren't coming from my memory at all, then. They were in the Here and Now! I immediately suspected the dog, but when I glanced over at him he was (unfortunately) sleeping peacefully. Where, then? Where was it coming from?

"Huh huh huh!"

Then it came. That sudden, sharp impact. It sent a jolt through my senses far greater than any psychic flatulence Yog Sothoth had ever lobbed at me. It was total; it permeated me, became my reality, shifted my reality...

And then I woke up. And I saw HIM. There he was, that sorry, bloated, empty-headed, buzz-cut argument against evolution. He was standing there in front me, retracting the hand he had just used to pop me on the head. In his other hand he held...NO!!!

My precious, newly-bought book!!! My beloved tome from the alien gods!!!! It was in the flabby paw of that vile creature!!!!!

"Huh huh huh!" he farted from his mouth. "What's this, you little fag?" He looked at the book with a look that spoke of pure vacuum. "'The Best of H.P. Lovecraft'? Who the f*** is that?"

"Give that back, Bob!" I cried, dismayed at the wimpy sound of my own voice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Splotchy Story Virus

From Splotchy:

Here are the rules:
Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.

The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)

Rivulets of sweat began cascading down my face and I hurriedly wiped one from my brow before its salty bitterness could burn my precious, precious electric eye. No, the fright couldn't simply be attributed to my allergy to cardboard that always resulted in patches of bloody pustules and mottled skin akin to a poorly applied KISS® -- see, Gene? Put your lawyers away -- makeup job nor the fact that a fair number of the riders were curiously dressed like a toupee-less, yet masterfully make-upped Chaim Witz nor the fact that motionless tentacles were protruding from a number of randomly punched holes in the cardboard box that bore the hideous label Contents, frozen spawn of Old One, 72 oz. nor the realization that I had forgotten my glasses and couldn't see not whom, but what, was slowly shambling down the aisle towards me, its apparently glistening appendages slopping on the possibly filthy floor of this potential deathtrap of a bus recklessly driven by an attractively miniskirted, yet maniacal, maniac, her lapel bearing a button barely visible underneath a swath of jet-black hair and emblazoned with I worship Dagon, ask me how!, which I never did by the way.

No, the fright couldn't simply be attributed to any of those mundane things. My wind wandered, dreaming up all sorts of misadventure where I stared death in the face and he stared back and then we had a series of staring contests of which I think I won nearly 40% of them, an excellent number against an entity bearing a head-lopping scythe, don't you think?

I stared out the window, and the undulating, slowly shifting, tree-saturated landscape stared back. I won that contest but quickly remembered the old saw about looking into the abyss and having it stick its tongue out. I pulled my electric eye back into the bus and stared ahead instead.

Next, a cavalcade of nervous fumbling and rummaging through my pockets to make sure I had an extra nine volt battery. I did -- the apparently glistening appendages slopping ever closer amidst a cacophony of bizarre, intermittent noise -- so I knew I wouldn't have to worry about my electric eye running out of juice until I got back.

Which, of course, turned out to be the case, for how else could you be reading this erratic, poorly-written account of horror, unless you stumbled upon the abandoned wreckage of the bus and were rifling through my strangely mutilated corpse severely underdressed for the freezing weather and found this sheet of crumpled and charred paper riddled with poor penmanship along with my wallet that contained a drivers license, library card, work ID, three singles and a bus ticket!

But you didn't because I'm not dead, for I just handed the bus ticket to the shambling beast which indeed was slimy for it -- and it, despite its general human visage, was the most accurate description I could muster -- was close enough that I didn't need my glasses.

"Last stoop fer yew vis'turs."

Ahead in the distance, beyond the cardboard box's melting water -- at least, I assumed it was water, and you know what they say when you assume: Nyarlathotep tears you a new one, chump -- pooling at my feet, the creepy troupe of riders and the inhuman coughing of it, bathed by the light of the red moon, I saw the low, yet eerily distinct skyline of Arkham. (Randal)

Arkum hums with a high electric whine, a noise that is like tinnitus to the nth. The man with the monocle who was so strangely dressed coughed on me as the bus lurched to a stop. I hope it wasn't the virus. Now I hunch my shoulders against the freezing wind that hugs the frozen ground. I have two cloptomiters to go before I'm home and it's dark but for the purple neon gloom, looking like a distant nuclear disaster but is merely low light bouncing off the distant metropolis along with the nearly unbearable high whine. And then the wind blows it back upon itself and for a few moments of relief I almost hear silence. I can barely see the ground beneath my feet.

What was I thinking when I dressed for the day? My feet are freezing. Thank the dog for the electric eye. I can see the faintly pink glow of my signature footprint along this well trod strip of stone. But it seems eerily empty for now. Odd. This time of night is usually humming with voices coming out of the dark. All I hear is the high city hum and the wind. Several layers of skirts fly up from a gust of wind and I almost topple backward. These tall rubber boots on their platforms are wonderful in a crowd, extend the stride, and strengthen the buttocks, lifting its heft of weight into the air like a pillow. But skirts?

I hear the dog once and know I will turn left half way up the lane to my bunker. His voice always rings out once when I reach this spot and even without the eye I turn left, arm raised, palm flattened upward to make contact with the wire of the compound. I trail my gloved fingers along the fence until I feel the gate. Here I must remove my glove and place my naked palm against the freezing surface of the palm ID pad. And it slides open almost silently. I enter and hear it slide shut behind me. It locks with a hollow sound that makes me shudder with pleasure. Now small photocell lights flank the path like little pale full moons.

I have a single bunker. I am gifted in certain arts. I can talk to the mad and read their minds. I can smell danger. And I am old. No small accomplishment in these times. So the dog, as he calls himself, and I live together in a cube of concrete with a pyramid roof alone, in silence, but for the sound of my own voice softly talking to myself and his rare great bark or low growl.

He doesn't rise when I come in. But I hear him panting softly in his dark corner. The room is only warmed with his body heat. All the fuel was burned long ago. But food will be brought for both of us. He could so warm me better if we slept together but he will not. So I wear all my clothes trying to keep from shivering. I would never ask to sleep in his bed but have invited him into mine. Often. No luck.

And now before my fingers stiffen in the cold I must answer the questions sent to me by the mad. Only the mad understand the mad, but not all the mad have my gift to hear their inner voices. We are all somewhat gifted. Some of us have visions, hear voices, but I can only listen to the inner voice, the one that never says aloud what it most fears.(Utah Savage)

The irony of hating that Will Smith movie where he was the only pure human he knew of makes me laugh until I cry only once a day usually, but this makes the second time today.

I'd like to be able to distract myself from this existence as I sometimes can with some maudlin or quirky tale that was uploaded to this confounded eye, but for the time being I just place it on its charger, wondering yet again what renewable substance has been able to sustain the charger's life these 25 years. If I knew that, would I be freezing here like this?

I wish someone, anyone, could or would answer that question. I wish Lilith were here to ponder it with me.

Yes, there are the halflings, but they really are not very good company. The electronic portions of them seem to override most of their humanness. But, compared to those the blogoscopic entities have fully infiltrated, they are a veritable schmorgesborg of spontaneity. I am not sure if I should admit that my insane mother was right and that my "specialness" would "save" me in the end, but those like me are few and far between these days.

What was once a blessing, my telepathic tendencies, has become such a curse that I would no doubt kill myself were it not for Lilith. My only hope is to find her. (Freida Bee)

My human part slept while my body electric recharged its high capacity 9 volt battery and spare. Visions and algorithms of chaos and order merged into organic patterns that ultimately morphed into circuit boards with dendritic hierarchies of contacts and junctions. The damn things recurred every night in increasingly complex ways. Start with a fern and a laptop and merge them at ever deeper levels to the nth degree, then throw in the spikes of fear and uncertainty that only occur in dreams and that is close to what I experienced.

My circuits were designed explicitly to increase my ability to absorb the impossible, but they can only do so much. When a person is strolling along on that perfect day only to become a witness to Fishmen devouring the sanity of best friends and professors; well, it is just too much for even electronics to bear. A cleft formed between my organic and electronic parts.

I rambled through Arkham analyzing the meaningless life forms carrying on what they believed were normal lives. What dupes! My electric eye could see the sub-nanometer band, viewing parasites feeding on the souls of so many, sapping them of confidence and ambition. I tried to feel some compassion, but the firewall stopped me and I felt nothing.

When I finally found Lilith, she was horrified at the abomination I had become. I was crestfallen and it seemed as though I choked on a thousand copper wires trying to maintain a semblance of humanity. Humanity was losing and I couldn't stop it. I knew then that she would become bait in my quest to vanquish the Old Ones. (Don Snabulus)

Okay, I tag:

Moody Minstrel (on this page if he desires)
Somebody famous!!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Super Mega Winter Blast Burst Freeze 2008!!!!!

Storm Team 12 and Task Force Blizzard Freezecakes (ok, I made that up) predicted it and it finally happened. It got cold and snowed.

I woke up early this morning and it was above freezing and green. I scoffed at this stupid weather forecast. Fifteen minutes later it started snowing and it kept going all day today.

During the heat of the day, the temperature had dropped about 8 degrees F. As evening closes in, it is getting even colder.

The MiniSnab (with my help) put up the Holiday Lights (ordinarily I would say Christmas Lights, but there IS A WAR on regarding blah blah blah). She did a decent job until she started getting cold, then it got a bit sloppy. If the 50 to 60 mph gusts tonight don't shatter the bulbs, we will fix it tomorrow.

The cat wanted to go outside, we obliged, and when we noticed him at the door a couple hours later, he had snow on his fur and he appeared to be rather ticked off. We let him in, dried his fur, and let him roost in his indoor resting spot. These are the feline perils when humans lets kitties make their own decisions.

The outdoor faucets are sheathed in styrofoam, the crawlway vents are closed, and we have enough food to avoid driving for a few days. Temperatures could get down as low as 10F (-12C). It should be fun watching the weather and the local news hysterics on TV (though we generally ignore the local news).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Very Sad Day

Our friend Josh died today. Swinebread has the details here. He was a good guy and he will be missed. This picture of him in costume was from a 2005 party at our house.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


The MiniSnab volunteered to be a disaster victim for a drill at a local hospital. It was a massive earthquake and she was "injured" in the event. They let her wear her "wound" home. Here are the pics:

Maybe I should have called this "Ich bin ein Berliner":

It sounds like she had fun and it was time that our Homeland Security money went to something that teenagers found fun.


Monday, December 08, 2008

The Pr0n P0l1ce

or The Porn Police in non-Hackese...

Remember how superior we felt when we heard that China routinely filters and censors Internet content to "ensure harmony" within their country?

That can't happen in "civilized" democracies can it? Australia, UK?

Well, yes.

Australian Gov't Mandatory ISP Filtering/Censorship Plan

The Australian Federal Labor Government, which was elected on 24 November 2007, has a 'plan' to force all Australian ISPs to implement server-based filtering systems to block access to 'child pornography', 'X-rated material', 'violence', 'prohibited' material, 'inappropriate' material and 'unwanted' material on a secret blacklist compiled by a government agency. Prior to the election, Labor said the objective of their 'plan' was "to ensure that children are protected from harmful and inappropriate online material".

UK ISPs switch on mass Wikipedia censorship

According to discussions on the Wikipedia administrators noticeboard, this is because a transparent proxy has been enabled for customers of Virgin Media, Be/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon and Opal. This has two effects: users cannot see content filtered by the proxies, and all user traffic passing through the proxies is given a single IP address per proxy. As Wikipedia's anti-vandalism system blocks users by IP address, one single case of vandalism by a single UK user prevents all users on that user's ISP from editing. The effect is to block all editing from anonymous UK users on that list of ISPs. Registered users can continue to edit.

The content being filtered is apparently that deemed to meet the Internet Watch Foundation's critera for child pornography – in one case, this involves a 1970s LP cover art which, although controversial, is still widely available.

Even here in the good old US of A, they are trying to softshoe the same approach...

Bush FCC chairman considering 'porn-free Internet'

The proposal to allow a no-smut, free wireless Internet service is part of a proposal to auction off a chunk of airwaves. The winning bidder would be required to set aside a quarter of the airwaves for a free Internet service. The winner could establish a paid service that would have a fast wireless Internet connection. The free service could be slower and would be required to filter out pornography and other material not suitable for children.

I don't need to tell anyone here what the problem is. Smut may start out as hard-core porn, illegal images of children, and so forth. However, as you've already noticed above, it can quickly become an excuse for much more. It is also a foot in the door to move beyond so-called "no brainer" crime legislation and into the kind of political censorship that is rampant in places like China.

We tried using parental controls for the MiniSnab, but soon found problems going to medical sites that discussed women's issues. In fact, I found out that if you turn on Safe Search at and look for "clitoris," you will not get any matches. However, if you search for "penis," no problem...there are thousands of hits. How does that tickle your fancy?

Blame it on the liberals. Blame it on the conservatives. When it comes to governmental power, they are guilty and guilty.

There is a lot of crap on the Internet. The ONE and ONLY thing about the Internet that makes it a revolutionary medium is the freedom of expression and free flow of ideas, sometimes controversial ones. Without that, it is no more than a fancy television. If you can't navigate or speak without a goddamn cop or lawyer breathing down your neck, then you would be an idiot to keep using the medium. This is what the neanderthal Labor Party of Australia and conservative Kevin Martin at the FCC (seriously dude, the Nazi eyeglasses need to go) don't realize.

On the other hand, if we all went encrypted then none of their stupid filters or e-mail reading software would work. HTTPS and PGP are our friends. Cut out the spy-in-the-middle. If Microsoft sold our info down the river, the hackers would find out and we could all switch to an open source platform. Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some Stuff Just Didn't Happen

This is pretty funny and a reminder that not all threats are created equal:

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Over the river and through the woods... Grandmother's house we go. This is our third Thanksgiving gathering dinner, but no turkey today. Just us turkeys. :D

It is also my last day off before returning to work. I am reasonably happy with my home improvement tasks (there is always more to get done) and I might even be ready to take up the keyboard again at work without going nuts. I am not going to think about what might have been piled onto my ToDo list while I was gone.

Friday, November 28, 2008

How Fortuitous

Our Panasonic TV died this evening after about 15 years of service. If it was going to happen, let it be on the biggest sale weekend of the year. The newspapers are filled with Wide Screen TV loss leader sales. Those are likely sold out, but there are still plenty of deals left. So tomorrow we go looking for the small models of the new HDTV technology. Wish us luck.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to you. I am thankful for all who read and/or comment here.

I thought about putting up a YouTube video I saw recently in which Sarah Palin is doing an interview oblivious to the turkeys being rendered in the background. However, I am sure you can find it if you are curious.

Instead I will refer you to our post about Alice's restaurant from last year. That is a much funner tradition than delving into the realities of turkey production and political ineptitude.

UPDATE: If you want to listen to studio version of Alice's Restaurant, Tennessee Guerilla Women blog has a link to the MP3.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mending Fences and Shelves

It is a complicated story, but I am enjoying my second week of vacation in 2 months and I freaking deserve it. Today was sunny, cool, and breezy, so I did a bit of outdoor work. We have a cedar fence that was ancient when we bought the house, but it is definitely getting more rickety now. The gate in particular was falling apart, so I went after it with a bunch of wood screws, a drill (with a screwdriver bit), a Sawz-All, a shovel, and some Love. After several adjustments, we have a gate that is stronger, though it definitely has a more patched look to it.

For those that remember Fort Bean, I installed a door but I never installed the strike plate, so the door would fly open whenever the temperature reached 70 degrees F or so. Today, I finally fixed that. There is actually a lock on the door knob, but the plexiglass in front is so thin that a lock is a bit of a joke.

Ladybug has been limping along for quite some time with a set of broken drawers in the kitchen. Well, they are shelves that are supposed to roll out but the rails would twist and drop the shelf. At least that is what I thought. Also, the bottom shelf was improperly glued and would stick against the bottom lip causing another headache.

In preparation to buy a new set of rails, I started to measure the various widths and diameters of things when I noticed some improper installation (previous owner, not me, I am perfect, mostly) I had missed before. It wasn't the twisting that caused the problem, but the rails were not secured in back. The weight of the drawer pushed the back of the rails out dumping them out. I rummaged my parts drawer and used a few wood screws and the problem was solved.

The bottom drawer bottom was separated from the sides, so I used some Pergo glue from an earlier floor installation to reseat the wood into the grooves provided. For the uninitiated, Pergo is a laminate wood floor material where they take a plywood-like surface and put a photographic image of wood grain on it. The Pergo glue looks, smells, and bonds like Elmer's wood glue. It worked great on the kitchen drawer. Our entire house has Pergo floors (in a medium oak style), so don't go telling me about how we are poisoning ourselves with McWood or creepy composite resins or I shall become very cross. In any case, Ladybug is pleased to have easy access to her evil kitchen tools again.

To satisfy my geek side, I attempted to resurrect an old laptop PC which has a tendency to give a Blue Screen of Death every 1 to 10 minutes. I originally suspected the hard drive and bought a new one, but it didn't help. So I removed everything except the original memory and the CD drive. After some trial and error, I discovered 2 culprits: the battery and the "newer" memory module. The battery was causing the catastrophic failures and the bad memory module would make things act weird in between.

So they are gone. The laptop is wholly dependent on wall power and has only 256 MB of RAM, but it has a 120GB hard drive and I was able to install Ubuntu Linux 8.10 on there. Ubuntu runs well, 8.10 is MUCH better with the Wi-Fi awareness, and it seems to handle all the new cool stuff without getting too crazy on the memory. THe PC is an old PIII Pentium 500 MHz, so it isn't too swift to begin with. I am going to use it for my alternative programming experiments...mainly learning languages I've been curious about but not able to explore for this reason or that. Yay! Another PC saved through rubber bands and chewing gum.

But I Keep Talking About It

Okay, I know I know. I am not an economist but I keep blabbing about it. I am just speaking my piece (peace?) because:

a. I actually have time to do it
b. Because the whole thing pisses me off at a deep level

So, enough about the Money Heist 2008.

Chicken Feed Follow Up

In the previous topics, Dave mentioned the following in the comments:

The Federal reserve is loaning seven trillion dollars to the US Government.

The US Government then turns around and buys stock in failing banks, and now motor companies.

When the government owns stock in business it has a vote in how that business is run. They can set terms for executive salaries and bonuses for instance.

And that is how America turns into a socialist nation.

Actually Dave, I agree with you (please don't faint). Although it is not socialism in the strict sense, it is definitely socialistic for the government to become a major stakeholder in the American economy.

I also agree that it was planned in advance to the extent that the credit bubble perpetrated by the banks and hedge fund operators had the same predictable outcome as any historical form of speculation.

However, it wasn't the MoveOn or Code Pink or International ANSWER types that perpetrated this. It was perpetrated by free market capitalists who saw an opportunity to get filthy rich, manipulated the government into going along with it and then stuck the rest of us with the bill when they knew it was over.

The only recourse left to avoid another depression was...wait for it...government spending to "save capitalism." We are so far from the producing-goods-and-services type capitalism that everyone expects that it isn't funny. Not funny at all.

Almost every reader here knows about the Savings & Loan scams, so this isn't anything new. The main difference here is an exponential increase in the amount of money involved and the fact that it seems as if nobody will be going to jail or get censured in Congress this time around.

It is a bit ironic that the people who brought quasi-socialism to America were the ones who railed most strongly against it, against regulation, and convincing so many to hate any kind government spending or involvement. For nearly 30 years, we've paved the way for mega-mergers, loosening of bank regulations, by thinking we were aiding a free market. It wasn't as free as the liars led us to believe.

Now there is no choice: the money is overflowing from the pockets of the perps as their prearranged deal with the government unfolds and makes us all poorer. We are shocked into compliance just as we were on September 11, 2001. Their assets are safe and ours are at risk and we must just lump it with no expectation of justice or true reform.

Dave is also correct when he says that government will get a bigger say in business. It will be interesting to see what choices government agencies responsible for investing make. There are a number of scenarios and, as with 9/11, the rapid changing of events along with the discretion granted by the concept of emergency means that we are prone to large instances of misconduct just as we've experienced in the post 9/11 wars (torture, extraordinary rendition, etc.). After the corporate infusion of money into the government by lobbyists decreased the interests of individuals in favor of corporations, so the infusion of money into business by the government will probably do the same. Business and government are creating a marriage made in Hell and the majority of people are the abused children of that marriage.

This is truly a learning moment. However, learning depends on seeing outside the left-right, Christian-secular, industry-intellectual box. People are kind of getting it at times, but not in large enough number or as angrily as they should. I suspect we will all muddle through blaming it on the boogie men dreamed up on our favorite political websites.

As an afternote, I found a breakdown at Talking Points Memo of how much money is going towards which programs in order to stave off financial collapse. Calling it all one thing is a bit of a misnomer since there are a number of programs going on to deal with it all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not an Economist

I don't know much about no economy...

I am just finding the whole thing as interesting and disconcerting as you do.

$700B is Chicken Feed

Try $7.76 trillion. This is according to Bloomberg and most of it will be controlled by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve and inheritor of Alan Greenspan's ultimate betrayal of Ayn Rand*.

The article outlines what is going on beyond the publicized bailout. Here are a few excerpts:

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

Remember the saturation coverage 15 months ago about this? Me neither. I guess it was a matter private between our government and the banks.

Congressman Darrell Issa, a California Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said risk is lurking in the programs that Poole thinks are safe.

“The thing that people don’t understand is it’s not how likely that the exposure becomes a reality, but what if it does?” Issa said. “There’s no transparency to it so who’s to say they’re right?”

The money that’s been pledged is equivalent to $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. It’s nine times what the U.S. has spent so far on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Congressional Budget Office figures. It could pay off more than half the country’s mortgages.

$24,000 for each member of your family including you and there is no transparency. We fought in a revolution for much, much less and now we wait and see. That'll screw us for a generation or more.

“Some have asked us to reveal the names of the banks that are borrowing, how much they are borrowing, what collateral they are posting,” Bernanke said Nov. 18 to the House Financial Services Committee. “We think that’s counterproductive.”

$24,000 of your money and you don't get to know where it is going. At least they aren't using the Al Qaeda excuse (yet).

Bernanke’s Fed is responsible for $4.74 trillion of pledges, or 61 percent of the total commitment of $7.76 trillion, based on data compiled by Bloomberg concerning U.S. bailout steps started a year ago.

You better get used to being poor if this crap doesn't work.

* I know many like to crack jokes about Ayn Rand and her misguided Objectivist philosophy, but we won't be if turning our currency into a speculative enterprise only bought us a few more decades and a much larger fall. I am obviously hoping it won't, but this bailout is orders of magnitude larger than the 90s S & L bailout and nobody is sounding cheerful about it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Few Presidential Notes

Wow! I get a few days off. I took 5 business days which, thanks to the short Thanksgiving week, adds up to 11 days off in a row. There is a fairly major customer install right in the middle, so it is not without risk of interruption.

As such, I have a bit of time to

a. think
b. write

These are good things! I've heard this, so it must be true.

In the big picture, there is plenty to write about. A new President of the USA is forthcoming, the economy decided to flush itself down the toilet, and we are now presented with an opportunity to learn a great deal about how things work at the levers of power.

And what an interesting education it has been. We've seen free market conservatives lobby for corporate socialism on the grounds that companies are "too large to fail." We've seen pro-labor liberals lecture the auto industry, one of our last large industrial employers, on how they need a plan for profitability or they won't see a red cent of the big giveaway. We've seen an electorate placated into giving thousands of dollars per person for all of these programs with no discrete plan, no transparency, no trust in the recipients, and no expected outcome that the measures will work; all while the stock market dives like an osprey into the water because of those same reasons. What is one to make of this? Quite a lot really, and not much of it is good.

A fire was kindled on November 4th when Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. Unlike many who read my posts here, I am highly suspicious of the candidate who threw so many good people under the bus to be elected. However, I was near tears of happiness watching the American people reject the failed leadership that has damaged our Republic with unnecessary war, unnecessary division, and unnecessary damage to our Constitution. It was indeed a historic night and, as Moody Minstrel said earlier on this blog, the weight reverberated beyond race and to a point beyond. It was difficult to deny the shear human force that propelled Obama past voter purges, racial hatred, and the media cult of contrarian xenophobic "conservatism" (see American Conservative magazine for REAL conservatism).

We have a new president that says all of the right things, but can he DO the right things? At first glance, it doesn't look good. His cabinet choices thus far could have been chosen by Bill Clinton for their adherence to principles of corporatism and globalization. Unfortunately, it was just those principles in conjunction with W-style Reaganomics that have led us to this precipice. On the other hand, the people themselves are capable and could be led by the right person to do smart things to preserve the American middle class and stabilize the economy to some degree.

Even if they succeed, there are two challenges that remain in the wilderness of serious consideration. We are at a long-term degradation of cheap energy and a long-term boundary on our own ecological sustainability.

Some are looking at the gas pump prices and thinking we are somehow "in the clear" but think about this...the Dow Jones is more than 40% lower than it was 8 years ago and these supposedly "lower" gas prices are up 30% (approximate values of course). It won't take much of a recovery for the prices to recover as well. Things run out. The Gold Rush didn't last forever because the recoverable gold didn't last forever. And yet we still mine gold even without that rush. The same is true with oil. We will get all the easy stuff, but we won't run out. It will just get harder to extract. Unlike gold, however, we need oil for every phase of modern society from fuel to plastics to fertilizer to vitamins. The hairspray cable jockeys or the emotion-poking radio squawkers say little to nothing about this. They are such idiots that maybe it is for the best. Nonetheless, enjoy your cheap Ecuador bananas and Australian wine now because the price will be going up.

Since the Great Depression, the population of the United States has multiplied roughly 2.5 times. A great deal of arable land has been paved over, built on, and even preserved as wildlife refuges since that time. While technological innovation has allowed us to grow more food with less land, much of that growth was derived from cheap fuel, cheap fertilizer, etc. If our current recession deepens into a new depression and the domestic oil gushers of the 30s are gone, how are we going to feed our 300 million people? Just about every aspect of the marine food supply is stretched to the maximum. We have crops that terminate their seeds and can't grow another year. How will our increasingly urban population eat?

The consensus among climatologists is that our planet is warming and that the climate changes will cause disruptive changes to cultures and economies. The problem is that nobody knows exactly what changes will happen or how severe they will be. Also, it should escape nobody's notice that the time frame for change exceeds not only our attention spans but that of entire nations and that there is no consensus on what constitutes a proper change or the impact of such a program.

President-elect Obama has given only the slightest public attention to these challenges. As with previous administrations, the strategy (if there is one) to cheap energy and sustainable ecology (if know) will take place behind closed doors while rhetorical pabulum keeps We the People occupied with other matters and out of "their" business.

These are difficult challenges and the easy answer of making a bigger, more intrusive government to handle it could lead us more quickly to a bad end. Bigger, more intrusive corporations could do the same. However, a resilient and well-tempered approach that encourages small and large scale innovation along with positive leadership helping us into accepting a more efficient lifestyle would make a huge difference.

Reality can be a harsh, but patient teacher. It can give us plenty of rope, but eventually it runs out and it pull us forward on its own terms. The trick is to move along with that rope before it pulls you. I hope Obama can learn that skill before austerity and efficiency are imposed on us quickly by cold, hard reality.

For some folks I know, it is already too late for the soft fall.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Answering the Challenge (My Own Way)

1. Five names you go by:

a. Kevin
b. Kebin-sensei
c. The Moody Minstrel
d. Moody
e. ano gaijin

2. Three things you are wearing right now:

a. Black jacket by "Comme Ça Ism" (a gift from the wife...but I've heard that when I wear it at the school it makes me look like a "fushinsha" [lit. a "suspicious person"]). 
b. Bright blue Dunhill necktie (bought for a steal at a famous duty-free shop in Sydney).
c. Glasses.  (Gucci, believe it or not!)

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:

a. A real weekend...or even one full day off.
b. A studio with a grand piano, recording gear, and a splendid view of the ocean.

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:

Doubtful, but I'd like to see Seymour, Kami, and Olivia do this.

5. Two things you did last night:

a. Got carried away writing on the Impasse blogventure.
b. Tried and failed to go to bed early for a change and get some sleep.

6. Two things you ate today:

a. Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Raisins & Spice.
b. Calorie Mate nutrition bars

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:

a. Mr. Ogawa.
b. Mr. Yamazaki (director of the Kashima Seaside Jazz Festival last Saturday).

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:

a. Teach four classes and endure at least two meetings.
b. Try not to lose either my lunch or my mind.

9. Two longest single-day car (not bus, etc.) rides:

a. Milwaukie, OR to Boise, ID (10 hours/distance uncertain)
b. Milwaukie, OR to Nyssa, CA (8 hrs/distance uncertain)

10. Two of your favorite beverages:

a. Coke & Myers Rum
b. Tully's French Roast

Now let me add my own extra meme for all of you (with a tip of the powdered wig to Kami):

If you saw me in the back of a police car, what would you think I was there for?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Arkonbey Challenge

Arkonbey challenged me to divulge a little about myself. I tag Moody Minstrel, DewKid, and Hypatia...

Here goes:

1. Five names you go by:

a. Don
b. Donald
c. Zeke
d. Snabby
e. Captain Zarquon

2. Three things you are wearing right now:

a. loud green shirt from the Oktoberfest festival in Mt. Angel, OR
b. LL Bean olive drab short pants (endless summer)
c. A smile

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:

a. financial independence
b. an IT and QA presence at work

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:

Not saying

5. Two things you did last night:

a. Watched Firefly episodes with Ladybug
b. Removed viruses from a PC

6. Two things you ate today:

a. A wonderful quinoa and squash dressing
b. taters, egg whites, and sausage

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:

a. Ladybug
b. My Dad.

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:

a. Cook breakfast
b. Take MiniSnab to a babysitting gig

9. Two longest car rides:

a. Milwaukie, OR to Elko, NV (12 hours/700 miles)
b. Hillsboro, OR to Clear Lake, CA (10 hrs/about 550 miles)

10. Two of your favorite beverages:

a. Water
b. La Yunta Torrontes wine from Argentina

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner

by Randall Jarrell

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from the dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Post-Election Reflection

I remember well that day when I was 11 years old.
My best friend's house was up for sale.
People were always coming and going whenever I was there.
I'd already gotten used to it, but then that one family came.
I remember they were cheerful. 
They were friendly, warm, polite.
I would've liked to meet them.
But, with narrowed eyes and sour voice, my friend quickly ordered us to his backyard.
His manner said it all long before he asked that question:
"What are they doing here?"

Then, as we played, I heard a happy, "Hello!"
I turned to see a girl, maybe a year or two younger than me, standing in the door.
I remember she had bright eyes and a sunny smile.
They looked so pretty on her colored face.
"Hello!" I said in cheerful reply.
"Um, come on," said my friend impatiently.  Grabbing my arm, he dragged me away.
I asked him what his problem was, and I got an annoyed sigh.
"Don't look at her," he said in my ear.  "Just ignore her."
I asked him why, and he used THAT WORD.

Yes, I'd heard plenty of jokes using that word.  I admit I repeated many.
But I'd always thought it meant a type of person, like "redneck" or "greaser".
That family and that girl certainly didn't fit the image I'd always carried in my mind!
Apparently I'd been mistaken.
In my friend's eyes, the color alone brought the damning title.
And the world suddenly seemed like a smaller place.

I remember, though not so well, that day when I was 14 years old.
A school dance had just ended, and we were going home.
Behind me on the bus, a boy was loudly guffawing as he told his friend what had happened.
A girl had asked him to dance.
I didn't really know the girl, but I'd met her before, and I knew about her.
A year below me, she was mostly quiet, but was smart and friendly.
She seemed to get along with her classmates well enough.
She had a nice smile, but her eyes always looked so sad.
I often saw her walking alone and wondered if she was lonely, but always from afar.
I'd never heard anyone speak ill of her till then.
Had it been one of the other 99.2% of the girls at our school, the ones who were white, yellow, or red, the boy would probably have said yes.
But she and one other were of the 00.8% that were black.
And the boy used THAT WORD.

Self-righteously, I said to myself that I wished she had asked me.
I would have danced with her quite happily.
But then I felt the pangs of self-doubt and cowardice wrenching my gut.
I knew that dancing with her would probably make me a target.
I'd be laughed at, possibly even attacked, for "loving" someone who was THAT WORD.
My spirit failed me, and I looked the other way.

A year later, the other colored girl from my junior high days was in one of my high school classes.
The teacher happened to be my own father.
The girl and I had gotten along well when we'd shared a class at the junior high.
But now she looked at me with fire in her eyes and a jutting lip.
Then she demanded, "Is your father prejudiced?"
I told her that, in all honesty, I didn't know, but insisted that I was not.
She then demanded to know if my father used THAT WORD.
I said I'd never heard him say it, but she wouldn't be soothed.
She hated me clear till she moved away and left the school.

Fast forward several years, and I was wandering the benighted streets of Portland.
Certain friends thought themselves wise in their ways.
We wound up chatting with a most interesting group.
They said some of the wittiest and cleverest things.
I thought I would like to get better acquainted.  
At least until they robbed me.

That was far less serious than what happened the next time.
A similar-looking group suddenly converged on us on a darkened street.
They were clearly much less friendly.
The threats and oaths poured from their mouths as we bolted away through a construction site.
Escaping to the light, we were told to be careful.  
A group of THAT WORD were looking for "whiteys" to "roll".
We stopped going to Portland at night.
We started using THAT WORD much more often.

In my university days I worked for a while at a pizza restaurant.
One of my coworkers made me nervous and edgy.
There was no real reason for me to feel that way.
Indeed, he was probably the most dependable person there.
He was always the coolest to me.
I did my best to be just as cool to him in return.
But I always tensed up when he came in and said hi.
The memory of those Portland nights always came screaming into the back of my mind.
I never referred to him as THAT WORD.  I would never dream of it.
But I'm shamed to admit my heart probably did.

At the same time I noticed something very odd.
I knew a singer called "Roo", had a housemate named "Veggie".
Though their color was that of my coworker, neither of them made me nervous at all.
I counted them both among my friends.
It was clear that my fear was selective, and I wasn't sure why.
Perhaps it was because they were in my cozy worlds of "music" and "home".
There was no reason to think they were different.
It was natural to forget the Portland memories.
THAT WORD simply didn't enter the picture.

Now I've spent almost twenty years in Japan.
I've met folks from Kenya, Egypt, and Iran,
Plus India, Bangladesh, Tanzania,
Pakistan, Singapore, and Latvia,
Chile, Peru, Lebanon, and Malaysia,
Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia,
The Philippines, Sri Lanka, France, and Thailand,
Australia, Holland, China, and New Zealand,
And many others I've naught room to name,
But one thing I have noticed is that they're the same.

If a man twice my size from Niger isn't scary,
Then why should someone from back home make me wary?
MLK said it best:  character, not the skin,
Is what we should judge, if the dream can begin.
THAT WORD is a mask, an excuse to divide,
But it really has little of substance inside.
But can we all change?  I say, "YES WE CAN!"
We proved it when my land elected this man.
Character, not skin, decided the game.
Let history judge him on merit, not name.

We have taken a bold step, and yet I still know
That, as a culture, we've still far to go:
Blue-leaning states voting Rep, not Dem,
Because they can't stand voting for "one of THEM",
Business refused to those bearing his name,
Stereotypes oozing out of blogs and op-ed pages,
Evil words spoken in mikes or on stages.
Some people, it seems, can't let go of THAT WORD.
They don't want to see their reality blurred.

But if we all simply learn to ignore 
These divisions, they won't trouble us anymore.
Then a little girl's "Hi" won't set off an alarm.
A request for a dance won't be a cause of harm.
A violent gang will be judged only by
What it does, not by color of face, hair, or eye.
Don't call me a "whitey", and I won't use THAT WORD.
Neither is needed; let's not let them be heard.

No matter who you voted for, let's look at the age.
Indeed, change has come, and we've helped set the stage.
But where it will go, none can say as of yet.
I hope we learn what we should and should not forget.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oregon is a Yellow State

Since this is election season, there is talk of red states, blue states, the same for counties, etc. After spending a week away from the campaign commercials and other assorted garbage, I've come to the conclusion the Oregon is a yellow state this year.

The major trees in western Oregon are either evergreen or the leaves turn yellow in autumn. I spent a few days at Champoeg State Park this week getting away from the crap at work, getting some alone time, and riding my bike around aimlessly looking for wildlife and nature. You will see that Oregon is a yellow state in autumn.

I had a cat to keep me company and you can watch him in the YouTube video below. He is on his way to the rescue people who give cats good homes. This one will have no problem. He is a real sweetie pie.

To the pictures!

Sunset over a grove of Douglas Firs.

A little later looking out over the Willamette River

It is amazing how still the waters get when there aren't boats tearing up and down the river at all hours. It is nice and quiet too.


A collection of leaves gather in the water by a boat dock. Notice that not all of them are yellow.

I brought my "acoustic" bike on this trip (as opposed to my electric bike which stayed home charging).

I don't generally make a practice of taking pictures inside a public restroom (certain US Senators can thank me for that). However, this bunch of ladybugs were quite interesting.

Gee, I wonder why these are called Big Leafed Maples? Not sure. Acer macrophyllum echoes the common name. On the other hand, the Lodgepole Pine is called Pinus contorta, so there you are.

The last easily visible sunrise of the trip. It was dry the whole time, but the fog and clouds became more persistent with each passing day.

I would never order an espresso at a Buttville store. Luckily, the real name is Butteville so drink up!

Happy Halloween from the pumpkin farm!

There was a big hatch of box elder bugs and they seemed to collect in the screen of my windows.

My home away from home.

Here is the kitty. He loved to talk to me and spent a lot of time hanging out with me. On the colder nights, he especially liked nuzzling up to the camp fire.

Big leaf maple on the left, apples on the right.

For all of you who live in or near an Oak Grove, but can't see any oaks because they've been replaced with is a REAL oak grove.

So I was letting my mind drift as I rode my bike up the lane through this golden field of grass when a great flapping and clattering occurs on this fence post in front of me. I was only about 15 ft away from the Great Blue Heron when it bolted and glided over to the place you see above. If I had been paying attention, I might have gotten a good close up. On the other hand, my brain definitely benefited from the relaxation.

The original townsite of Champoeg is marked off by intersection. I had a nice stroll along DeGrasse which ended in the middle of a field.

When the American settlers finally outnumbered the native Americans and French-Canadian metis in Champoeg, they allowed democracy to fluorish and create a government in Oregon in a close vote. Well, the Native Americans really didn't get to vote, so...well, you can guess how it went.

Above and below are more shots of the cabin.

An oak gall sits like an easter egg on the ground.

The vine maple is a refreshing break from all the yellow leaf deciduous trees in the forest. It can show several colors on a single leaf. Also, depending on their environment their foliage can seem as if there are different species of tree in different areas. The don't get very tall, but they are one of my favorite trees.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shifting Gears

One more day until vacation. From monster stress to several days of alone time. This is the kind of transition I can get my mind around. Since I chose ole Jack in the previous post in one of his more psychotic roles, I thought Easy Rider was a bit better direction to go. Believe it or not, I saw a stars-and-stripes kid's helmet just like Peter Fonda's about a month ago when I was helping my Dad clean out his storage area. He still has the darn thing. Hopefully I will come back with some nice fall foliage shots and get them on line before the first snows.

In the mean time, we can look forward to some of the most inane advertising in the next 2 weeks as the election I think of as Cognitive Dissonance 2008 nears. Well, you can...I am going to try to avoid the whole thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Worst is Over (except for this Hubris)

All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All work and no play makes Don a dull boy. All quirks and no planes make dogs a doll toy. All jerks and flow-bees makes frogs a Mull joy. All quarks and no leptons makes Hawkings a bit coy. All corks and no bottles makes wine a non-existent ploy. All smirks and no plan makes George a dumb boy. Fall cirques and no jokulhaups make Iceland a cool place. Call Dirk and no more cakes annulled today. Luckily, I gots vacation next week.

(This was prompted by the fact that I've worked about 40 hours since Friday and I normally work M-F)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Halloween in the Time of Cholera

Although you'd never guess it by the Christmas decorations in the stores, Halloween is just under two weeks away. I've been saving some items to share during the Halloween season and here's the first: a set of photos from a fellow named Steve Martin, (no, not that Mr. Martin).

These photos were taken during the early 1900s and are of people in costume. All the photos are very good and very much in the spirit of Halloween. Make sure to check out the rest of the photos while you're there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Snabulus Debate Coverage

This was the defining moment of the 2008 debates:

Tip of the hat to Talking Points Memo for the vid link...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

August in Seaside, Part III

It seemed like the hotter it was in Portland, the more the fog moved in to protect Seaside. Finally, it descended upon the entire city.

A length of pipe from from some unknown portion of Seaside's infrastructure cuts a silhouette in the fog as it raises out of this sandy beach. The mossy surface along with the background shows that the work of nature and man are sometimes one and the same.

A sand castle fortress reminds me a bit of Tolkien's Helm's Deep. No orcs or Riders of Rohan appeared out of the fog or in miniature on the ramparts. I count myself lucky.

Here we are at the Seaside Inn restaurant getting ready for some wonderful entrees.

The "main drag" in Seaside has undergone many changes over the years based on economics and the predictions of the changing tastes of the tourist trade of which Portland pays the major role. The new Seaside reflects the consumer culture with many more opportunities to buy trinkets than to enjoy amusements. With that said, some of the old amusements still hang on. Places like Pronto Pup (a corn dog joint where you can see the batter and frying in front of your eyes), Tiny Tiny Tees miniature golf, and the bumper cars you see above were all around when I was a kid. That kind of nolstalgia is one of the biggest draws for me. They bring up memories of the last of the operational nickel and dime games including nickelodeon movies, losing my first lunch on the Tilt-A-Whirl, and breathing the smells of corn dogs, cotton candy, and saltwater taffy wafting on the sea breeze. These were some of the brightest spots of my childhood.

I've never played here, but Fascination is a game which has obviously been around for a while. It is probably a "gateway drug" to gambling.

At the Seaside turnaround, statues of Lewis and Clark stare out to sea and, on this evening, a beautiful sunset. Speaking of Lewis and Clark,...

On Friday morning, I left to pick up the MiniSnab from her backpacking trip to the Olympic mountains in Washington state. While I was doing that, Ladybug and her dad stumbled across a reenactment performed for the benefit of a local historical group. Actors recreated 1808 and using period technology, demonstrated the salt making techniques of the Lewis and Clark expedition along with showing the clothing and equipment that the crew had at their disposal. They were quite impressed with the display.

The trip between Portland and Seaside was not so visually appealing....

I was actually shocked at the amount of large scale logging which has taken place near Highway 26 over a 40 mile stretch over the last two years. It is looking less like a dark, verdant forest and more like the aftermath of a volcanic eruption (we know about that thanks to Mount St. Helens).

To be sure, a strong storm with some gusts knocked down corridors of trees as if a tornado passed through during the 2006-2007 winter. There are areas along the highway where uprooted trees form a 10 to 20 foot high dirt birm along the leeward side of the freeway that is only rarely broken for a quarter mile. I have a hard time believing that this entire area of knockdown was the result of that storm and that the clearcuts were entirely salvage cuts. Most of the area is part of the Tillamook State Forest which is owned by the state of Oregon. I know the post-9/11 economy coupled with federal "security" mandates which were imposed without funding placed every state in a huge economic hole. Perhaps Oregon made some tough decisions that I failed to keep up with. In any case, many of these clearcuts march right up to the back of private properties and For Sale signs abound. This was an area which we considered moving to at one time. I am glad we didn't now.

I didn't find much during my short Internet research, but it probably doesn't matter because the trees are gone now and it will be decades before it starts to look like a forest again. The damage was done by man or nature, so we go on trying to remember the forest that was.