Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where Did the Decade Go?

I didn't want to see the double-ought decade end without any kind of blog entry. I'd rather thought the cool, rainy season would herald a resurgence in posts, but it did not. Medical issues in the family took over in the latter part of November and continue to be a priority.

The transition from corporate controlled Republican to corporate controlled Democrat has been interesting and extremely educational for me. To watch the left grow silent while Obama pulled the covers off of his neocon policies was interesting. Watching the right whine about a market driven health care bill after Bush's socialist Medicare prescription plan was also interesting. Dick Cheney routinely gives "aid and comfort to our enemies" through his constant criticism as well. Ironic.

For those who were paying attention, watching how the parts of corporate interests, media, and government come together to play on political divisions to distract people from a larger agenda has been most educational of all. I've now heard both left and right scream "Fascist!" at various things and, it turns out, they are both right. They are just pointing at the wrong culprits when they point at each other.

At the beginning of this decade, we had an expectation that our transactions and our phone calls and our movements were our "own business." Now, we realize that this is not the case. Sprint gives out our locations without a warrant. All Internet providers log our transactions. Our email is not secure and is catalogued. Our phone communications are monitored, logged, and retained. Our faces are taped, our words recorded, and it is collated and databased for an indefinite period. Our "own business" no longer belongs to us. It is bought, sold, traded, and other people often have better access to what we do than we do ourselves. This transition was bipartisan.

This is the end of a decade where the American Dream finally woke up and realized that sleepy time is over. The Dow is roughly where it was a decade ago. I personally have the same salary I did in 2000 and many people I know took a permanent pay cut last year to feed the bonuses of our current overlords. Our medical bills have meant a pay cut retroactive for years. One out of six people is out of a job (and likely many more who "don't count" in the figures). The oil fields are peaking and the decline will continue unless there is a revolution in cheap oil extraction or another source (that doesn't require cheap oil to extract). We are living the end game of our own irrational exuberance of a limitless future and it has only just begun.

To enjoy this new decade and the challenges it poses, I humbly suggest the following:

1. Be thankful for those near you and reward them with your business, your sense of community, and your time.

2. Limit your desires for the next big thing. Most of us have plenty and many have not utilized things we have bought. Find your riches in what you have and who you are with. Find value in that which you had previously cast aside.

3. Find ways to tread more lightly on this wondrous planet. It is indeed a beautiful place and we've all lived to see natural places disappear in our lifetimes. We waste an awful lot of material and energy. Streamlining our approach may not fix everything, but it will help. Recycle, buy local, waste less. Pretty easy stuff. It won't kill you and it will come in handy if things get tougher.

4. Realize that the ideologue next door has much in common with you. Over and over I find that people of every stripe have roughly the same number of standard group types. Some are invaluable, some are powermongers, some are thrifty, some are useless, and so forth. Politics is now a form of entertainment and manipulation, so please don't let yourself get too caught up in it. I did to my regret (luckily, I have 9/11 as an excuse). Listening and thinking is a more powerful currency than righteous rage or self-assured deafness.

So, with that load of bricks I lay upon you, have a Happy New Year! May you find your way to happy things and find comfort and security in your family and friends. I wish you well!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Day After Halloween

For all of you who may be lamenting the fact Halloween is over, I hope this little song by the Sippy Cups brings a smile to your face.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Post at Hypatia Speaks...

Hey all, we've got alot going on this fall - so visit Hypatia Speaks for the latest interesting tidbits!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Time...Is an Illusion...

Today is Sunday...even though it is Tuesday.

Last Saturday was Day One of Ye Olde Academy's annual Foundation Festival, so it wound up turning into Monday. But it wasn't really Monday. There were no classes. We were at the school, we were at work, but we were at play. We were playing all day. We were working by playing, and we played late, so we worked late. That meant it couldn't be Saturday, therefore it was Monday...a strangely un-Monday-like Monday, but Monday nonetheless.

The next day was Day Two of the Festival and therefore a work day. The calendar insisted it was Sunday, but it couldn't be. Sundays aren't for working. Moreover, it was the day after Monday. It was a working day coming after Monday. Therefore, Day Two had to be Tuesday. Tuesdays are work days, and we were working even while we were playing, and it was the day after Monday, so it was Tuesday. The calendar didn't agree, but it was so.

The day after that naturally had to complicate things. Being the day after Tuesday, normally it would be Wednesday, but the Festival was done. The calendar frothily argued that it was Monday, but that couldn't be; Monday had already happened. That left us with a temporal vacuum. But then it was remembered that Saturday had been lost in the shuffle and was still drifting around in calenderic hyperspace. It was called upon to fill the void. Saturdays are usually half work days. However, the Powers That Be (ah-AH) had decided there would be no classes. It was the power down and clean up time after the Festival, so there were no classes. But still there had to be a half day of work, and that meant four hours. Four hours that had no schedule, so they could appear anywhere. I spent my four hours there...four hours appearing where I wanted them to be...and there was almost no one there. Most of the faculty had taken the day off. That made it feel like Sunday...Sunday that was Saturday where Monday was supposed to be.

The calendar displacement had one day left to go. Once again, the calendar jumped up on its soapbox and started screaming rabidly that it was Tuesday. But Tuesday, like Monday before it, had also already happened, so we had yet another void to fill. This time the only candidate was Sunday. Sunday, the day of rest. Sunday, the day of staying home. And so I remained at home on Sunday while everyone else languished through Tuesday. Two separate days, and yet together. Time travel made possible by Ye Olde Academy's Foundation Festival. I wonder if the Powers That Be (ah-AH) are aware of just how much power they have.

Tomorrow things return to normal. Everyone comes together in the great NEXUS that is Wednesday. The day of Odin. The day of woe. The day my 7th grade students have so much trouble spelling right. The line must be drawn...here.

Now let's all sing along with The Cure's "Friday (I'm In Love)":

Monday, you can fall apart,
Tuesday, Wednesday, break my heart,
Thursday doesn't even start.
It's Friday! I'm in love!

The trouble is...what if Friday winds up turning into Monday?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Skeeters, Olallie, and the Big Limp

At the time, it seemed like a smart idea. I was losing weight. I was able to ride on my "acoustic" (read non-electric) bike for pretty much everything and I felt ready to take the next step. It turned out to be a step backwards, but it was still worthwhile.

I've been Jonesing for a decent backtrip trip ever since I wrenched my knee 3 years ago on the Pacific Crest Trail. I decided a trip to Olallie Lake in the northern Oregon Cascades was a good choice. The slopes were mostly gentle and there were many possible camping spots owing to the plentiful lakes in the area.

It was the maiden voyage (for me, anyway) of a 1992 Honda Accord that was a birthday present for the MiniSnab (and she still didn't know about it). Even though the lake is not far as the crow flies from the Willamette Valley, I'd forgotten how far it was as the car flies (about 150 miles from our house). In addition, the last dozen or so miles were on gravel roads.

I pulled up to the trailhead, had some lunch and donned the backpack for this trip. Mosquitoes are a problem in July, but they didn't seem too terrible, so I didn't think much about it. I packed extremely light, but I recently purchased a new CPAP machine that runs on Li-ion batteries and 2 batteries etc. weighed about 8 pounds, so the backpack was a bit hefty. Since this was a solo outing, there would be no splitting of cook gear, tentage, etc. to save weight.

My first mile and a half (or so) held most of the climbing, about 700 feet. The trails were not well kept (when compared to the Pacific Crest trail). Much of the way resembled a dry creek bed. I suspect anyone with a mountain bike would be better off carrying it up a trail like this. The terrible truth is that, even with biking, I am out of shape. When I reached the top, I enjoyed a limited view of the mountain, then decided to find a lake to camp at.

Apparently, the trailmakers had never heard of a switchback because I basically walked straight down a hillside to the first lake. Young me wouldn't have cared, but old and banged up me had to pick my way slowly down the hill. Even so, I ended up turning my ankle and wincing in pain.

Fine, I thought. I will get down to the lake and take stock of the situation. I picked my way VERY slowly the rest of the way, noting a rather exponential increase in mosquitoes as I went. I finally found a stopping place by the lake and dropped my pack. I looked down and saw dozens of mosquitoes on each leg. I wiped one calf and left a black and red smear down my leg.

In a panic, I started throwing everything out of my pack and found the bottle of 100% DEET. That should help. I aimed straight at my calf and sprayed...right into my open mouth. Shit. I turned the nozzle 180 degrees and started spraying the rest of myself, spitting and trying not to swallow. My saliva turned gummy, but I had to staunch the attack. Finally, I coated myself in enough poison to be able to rinse my mouth out a dozen times or so with water.

I continued on to a possible camping spot. The DEET was effective. The skeeters were flying around me, but not biting. I sat there looking over the lake as my foot stiffened up. I realized it was not going to be better by tomorrow, so I made the decision to bag the trip. (mmhmm)

The way back avoided the mountain and was all downhill, but it was more stairsteps of dry creekbed, each of which had me muttering ouches and expletives. When Olallie Lake hove back in view, there was great relief. A quarter mile limp up the service road took me back to the car. I sat in the car, safe from mosquitoes and plotted my next move.

I made my way down the gravel road, then down to the Forest Service road between Estacada and Detroit. Even though Detroit led away from home, I decided to see if there was somewhere to stay and so there was.

My big packpack trip ended at a hotel in Detroit Lake. I went over and had a burger and enough wine to mask my foot pain and headed back to my room. The hotel had a nightly campfire, so I hung out and enjoyed the company of a number of people I didn't know. My CPAP performed admirably in the hotel room that evening. In the morning, I checked my legs. I started counting bites on my left calf and stopped at 42 exrapolating an easy triple digit figure overall. So far, no West Nile or malaria. Whew!

The drive home was relatively uneventful.

So here are the few pics I took...



The view from part way up the hill.



Olallie Lake and Mount Jefferson



The hotel I stayed at.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2009 Country Fair

It was another trip to the Oregon Country Fair this year. This was the 40th anniversary and they celebrated by designing the worst button in their history. I don't have a picture, but they combined their symbol, a peach, with the Forrest Gump/Wal*Mart smily face logo which pretty much negated the kind of "street cred" they were looking for. Nonetheless...

The unique theme for ME this year was connecting with people. I connected with a person from the past and reminisced about old Boy Scout camp staff experiences from 20 years ago. In addition, I made my first ever in-person internet meetup with Ze Bulette (or Catpsi to some) on this trip. I was dropped off about 3 blocks from his home and caught him tending to his canine friends in the front yard. He let me thumb through his Labyrinth Lord rule book and a few other items including a nifty concept of his own, and he dropped me at the bus to catch up with my cohorts at the fair.

The Minisnab also invited a friend on this trip. I will call him Jundoug and he was a real hoot to have along. He also got a big kick out of the fair and we invited him back next year. Here are a few highlights:



While Jundoug and Minisnab toured the University of Oregon, I scaled Skinner Butte (using a really stupid route) and took this shot across downtown Eugene. Spencer Butte is in the background.



For those with gnomophobia, I apologize for this picture.



Ladybug had some beautiful henna work done at the fair. The colorful glitter added to the effect.



Ladybug, Jundoug, and I pose while Minisnab snaps a picture.



My themed parades marched continually through the fair...these look like yellowjackets.



Certainly Green was a theme...



Minisnab shows off her "blue steel" look while Jundoug dons his new horns.



A rhythm wall greeted us on the way out.



Jundoug, MiniSnab, and Ladybug pose near the entrance to The Labyrinth.

Blog? What Blog?

Hi there...I guess I've been away for awhile. I've spent time camping, biking, immersing myself in the Facebook phenomenon, working, and hanging out but not blogging much. I've also been wondering what to blog about without too much new to cover, so I will hit the highlights of the summer over the next few posts.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Garden Musings....

Time to take stock of where we were, and what craziness is happening in the garden now:


So this was the garden some time in May?...In the farthest row you can see a couple pumpkins getting a good start, along w/a volunteer Hosta (the one w/the white & green bi-colored leaves). The next row has broccoli, a small yellow & green Hosta, and a "mystery" plant (the tallest one in the row). Then comes the spinach row, a so-far negligible cucumber row, and in the last row (off-screen) are onions.

Here's another pic from the front end:




You can see the Bleeding Heart's (Coeur de Marie in French), that are next to the garden, and a better view of the Hosta (which I had planted years ago and completely forgotten about). I think my decisions to fertilize the garden this time around, instead of just "letting nature" do it's work helped alot-especially with the "volunteer" plants! We also did amend the soil with some regular garden soil and some compost (which had probably been working for about 3 years...).

So this is what it looks like now!-




The spinach has actually already been harvested: we tried for a 2nd growth, like with lettuce, but it didn't really work out. The broccoli is finally starting to bloom, the cucumbers took off and our "mystery plant" is getting taller and weirder! What could it be??!!

(Our Liliac trees are in the background: I put down some weed barrier, and lots of barkdust to keep down the grasses/weeds that seem to pop up everywhere here!).

So what is that "mystery plant" you ask?



It is a Double-Bloom Hollyhock! You can also see down on the right some bright yellow Primrose (another volunteer), and the crazy pumpkin vines in the back blooming and twining around the Liliacs. For several years after we had a serious garden, we kind of gave up and I tried to make a flower garden...I planted some Foxglove, the Hostas, some mint, Chinese Lanterns, Daisies, and evidently some Primrose & Hollyhocks! This year we decided to try again, and Snabby rototilled the garden area quite well, so I'm surprised about all the plants that survived that!




Now I've got some crazy pumpkin vine pics:




The vine just keeps going, and going.....


This pic shows how it's reached the house, and then turned to go into the Daylilies. It's also a nice picture of the Pumpkin Blossoms, which close and wither very quickly over the course of just a day or so. So far we have just a couple pumpkins started, but I'm already exited for Halloween!




Finally, here is a pic of some of our bounty - a huge Cucumber (I try keeping up on harvesting them, but they get way from me, hiding under the leaves!), a growing Pumpkin and a Black Krim tomato.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Soon to a Geologist

Okay, not so soon in blogging terms, but soon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Non-gasoline post coming very soon!

We just a great time at the Oregon Country Fair and I met Ze Bulette! Until then, my last 2 tanks averaged 30 mpg, so maybe that 22 mpg was a result of the sometimes bad traffic jams we have to sit through around here. We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Second Tank Blues

With no freeway driving, the 2nd tank of gas on the RED Versa got a dismal 22 mpg. So, nothing changed there. Our '97 Saturn station wagon consistently beats that with a large oil burning/leaking problem and a clutch computer bug that shifts hard at weird times. Needless to say, I am not impressed. Good thing I gots my bikes and I workses at home.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pipelines With Attitude

What a difference one "G" makes:

First, from the BBC:


Gazprom seals $2.5bn Nigeria deal

Russia's energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria's state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.


Okay, compare this new company with the 90s rap group NWA Wikipedia entry:

N.W.A (the initialism for: "Niggaz With Attitude")[1] was a Compton, California-based hip hop group widely considered one of the seminal acts of the gangsta rap sub-genre.


Suffice it to say that this will not go down as one of the better-chosen company names ever. However, in the gloomy world of petroleum energy this is about as much levity as one could hope to expect, so I will take it.

I found the first link via Talking Points Memo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First Tank

Our first tank with the new transmission garnered 30 mpg. Compare that to 23mpg with our first ever tank (after buying the car). However, the new tank included a lot more freeway driving. Nonetheless, our best tank ever was 30 mpg with the original and that was on a highway-only road trip to California.

I am encouraged.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

End of Transmission, Start of Transmission 2

Our RED Nissan Versa has never gotten very good mileage; about 70% of the advertised EPA. I chalked it up to a lot of things, but in reality it sucked. In the last few months a strange clacking became more and more evident by degrees. When Ladybug took it in for service, she pointed out the sound. It turned out to be a problem with the CVT drive. CVT is a new type of transmission (continuously variable transmission) that uses belts instead of gears to allow the vehicle accelerate smoothly. It is supposed to be more fuel efficient. Heh.

Well, a problem with part of the transmission is a problem with the whole assembly, so they ordered us an entire new transmission on warranty. It took a week to arrive and it was a two day repair job (we got an Altima loaner car in the mean time; I asked Ladybug to bring home a Z car but no luck).

The new transmission is quieter and seems a bit more powerful at high RPMs than the old one. I am hopeful that our mileage will climb up a bit closer to the EPA value. I will let you know. Sadly we now know that any CVT problems when we exit warranty will result in big $$. Remember that when checking out new cars (assuming anyone will have the wealth to do so over the next decade or two).

Interestingly, since I started working at home, I don't drive nearly as much. I can also bike wherever I want instead of a course to work. I am soooo green. I am proud to be a drop in the bucket.

In every energy endeavor, the greenest thing you can do is to NOT do. Sadly, this is often not possible so it will be the reality of energy that drives us more than our own behavior, individual or civic. Sad, but true.

==============================

On another note, I joined the Facebook revolution after figuring out how to deal with the fact that you are essentially sharing every word you utter with everyone you've ever known or will ever know as well as potential employers, vengeful prosecutors, angry city council members, and every one else good, bad, or indifferent. I have the privacy ratcheted down as tight as is practical. My language is very positive and couched in the most generic, positive way. No politics and no religion.

Nonetheless, I am able to inject my personality enough to make it worthwhile. I am in touch with dozens of people I haven't spoken to in years and even decades and I feel enriched for the memories that has uncovered. On the other hand, it is a time eater and dozens of superficial relationships can't hold a candle to a few deep ones, so there are tradeoffs to consider.

I meant to do a bunch of stuff on our garden as well, but that didn't happen either. We have rows of pumpkins, broccoli, spinach (mostly harvested and eaten already), cucumbers, and onions. We also have a single red bell pepper plant that we hope survives until our wet, cool spell ends and two tomato plants in pots (Brandywine and Black Krimson heirloom varieties) which are coming along well. This is in addition to Ladybug's herb garden (♪ ♫ parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme ♪ ♫) which I will let her elaborate on as she is becoming quite the herbalist.

We also found some wonderful food at our local farmer's market so we've tried to divert most of our grocery money to our local growers and make the effort to eat whole foods instead of processed crap food. With any luck, the health benefits will trickle down to us. The prices are comparable and, at least with asparagus, the produce lasts much longer in the crisper than the store.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Durasmoulder

Sometimes we like to have a little fire in our beat up terracotta outdoor fireplace. Last night we got started a bit late (10pm) and, being in a hurry, I bought DuraFlame's new lower "carbon footprint" log.

Ladybug lit it up and it started going...really slow. She was able to coax a flame not much bigger than a candle and it was down to smoke within an hour...but not burnt.

We went to bed and got up the next morning. It was still 90% unburnt and still smouldering in the pit. At noon, after 14 hours of smouldering, I went out and threw a dry stick in there and started blowing to get it ignited. They were burning faster together, but after another hour the original log sat smoking more than ever. My neighbor came over to make sure our house wasn't burning down. I came out a while later on break from work, found more dry fuel and got my lung bellows really moving until there was a tornado of flame whipping up in the chmney.

That was enough to incinerate the rest of the log. I swear it was made out of candle wax. I've never seen a log last 17 hours without needing a relight.

Needless to say, the next time I need a chemical campfire log, I will be sticking with the demonic envirobasher version of the Duraflame. I can't image there being more carbon coming out of a hotburning log that is gone in 2-3 hours. The whole idea of buying green is an over-the-top marketing ploy anyway. If you want to be earth friendly, don't burn a log. Put on a coat or go to bed. We opted to enjoy ourselves for a rare treat instead. No problem.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Pollen Attacks!

(Some of you might have seen a brief post about the Prez and the lofty perch we no longer stand upon, but I decided that it probably wasn't worth the effort, so I deleted it. I was right, but who cares? Stuff like that leads to talking points that are pointless and mental mass debation. So I write about this...)

Those in Oregon and southwest Washington were treated to (or victims of) a rare show yesterday. The second severe thunderstorm warning issued in the 25 years I've paid attention happened then. 1" (2.5cm) hail, heavy rain, high winds, a tornado warning, and definitely some funnel clouds were the order of the day for a city that gets about 1% of the thunder of an average Florida town. The local weather geeks have more info.

The biggest event we had at Rancho Snabuloso occurred at the beginning of the storm. I knew it was coming, saw the marching hordes of cumulonimbus on the radar, and the NWS warnings as things moved in. However, the menu called for barbecued chicken and I started early to avoid the storm. The sky turned gray and dark as I cooked and I hoped I would have time to finish. We erected a cheap plastic tarp shelter for the summer, so I weighed that down while I waited with some hope that the darn thing would endure.

My wildest moments came before the first drops of rain or the first clap of thunder. Wind ahead of the squall line began whipping up just as I was finishing the chicken. Our line of Douglas Firs and Pines in the back yard whipped into a frenzy and the air turned foggy and yellow with pollen and debris blown from the trees. Not knowing if this was a few temporary gusts, I hurriedly finished plucking the cooked chicken from the grill and ran it into the house. I am sure that pollen seasoning was prevalent on the plate.

I ran back out and surveyed the remaining chicken. The wind was getting crazier, so I removed it, put it on another plate, killed the propane, and brought it in the house. The wind whipped the entire time and the foggy/dusty yellow air continued swirling. I am still surprised we lost no branches and our cheap shelter survived unharmed.

I went in thinking that all hell was about to break loose, but the winds died down a couple minutes later. The rain began to fall and apparently most of the storm was spent by then with only moderate rain and a few close thunder rattlings. The temperature dropped from 85F (29C) to 61F (16F) within about 90 minutes (90 min). On TV, we watched a comma-shaped supercell with funnel clouds sighted pass by the Portland Airport and an informed weatherman gave good information while everyone sounded like gibbering idiots.

Ladybug and I saw some small trees snapped in half today while we were driving around the neighborhood. All in all, it was an interesting end to an early and somewhat humid heat wave.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Everthing You Never Wanted to Know and MORE!

Romance in France

A fun meme I got tagged with.....

Q. Is there anyone of your friends that you would ever consider having sex with?

A. I can honestly say NO!

Q. Sex in the morning, afternoon or night?

A: All of the above.

Q. What side of the bed do you sleep on?

A. The side which doesn't have all the books I'm currently reading..

Q. Have you ever taken your clothes off for money?

A. No...I'd probably have to pay the spectators now!

Q. Have you ever had sex in the shower or the bath?

A. Sure!

Q. Do you watch/read pornography?

A. Read HELL YES!...like some old quote goes "sex-fun to do; ridiculous to watch"

Q. Do you want someone aggressive or passive in bed?


A. Both, it's all good.

Q. Do you love someone on your blogroll?

A. Nope

Q. Would you choose love or money?

A. Love is the best, a little money not bad

Q. Your top three favorite kinks in bed?


A. It's all in the mind baby, all in the mind....

Q. Has anyone ever gone beyond your personal line of respect sexually?

A. Hmmm, not sure what you mean-never did anything scary kinky....but regretting I was with a couple of douchbags who were total jerks, yea. But ya live and learn!

Q. Where is the most romantic place you have had sex?

A. The beach, a nice B&B, a fancy hotel....

Q. Where is the weirdest place you have had sex?

A. In cars...I guess

Q. Have you ever been caught having sex?

A. Unfortunately yes, once, in the woods.

Q. Ever been to a bar just to get sex?


A. No, 'cuz I almost never went to bars...and didn't (still don't) understand "bar culture".

Q. Ever been picked up in a bar?

A. See above

Q. Have you ever kissed or had sex with someone of the same sex?


A. No.

Q. Had sex in a movie theater?

A. Does kissing & groping count?

Q. Had sex in a bathroom?

A. Yep

Q. Have you ever had sex at work?

A. Eww, no.

Q. Bought something from an adult store?

A. Oh yea

Q. Do you own any sex toys?


A. Yes, but hardly use 'em...

Q. Does anyone have naughty pics of you or are you on film?

A. Nope-Thank GOD!

Q. Have you ever had sex with someone and called them the wrong name?


A. Of course!...the funniest one is when I called him the name of the cat, then the dog..my kid...finally got to his...we ended up laughing so hard. Another guy freaked out though..it "meant" something evidently - yea, like my brain wiring is a little off!

Q. Do you think oral sex constitutes a form of intercourse?

A. Sure...sex is sex.

Q. What's your favorite sexual position?

A. All of 'em

Q. What's your favorite sex act?

A. Anything that gets me & mine where we want to go!

Q. Have you ever had sex with more than one person at a time?

A. Nope, but have thought about it...totally impractical in real life,(prolly wouldn't even want to honestly) but fun for fantasy!


I tag anyone who feels compelled to answer personal sex questions in the blogosphere!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pretty Flowers

Hey everyone, Memorial Day is coming up...when my family "goes to the graves". Although it started out as a military thing, most folks around here have turned it into a Day of Remembrance for ALL thehir dead. For us, it's pretty informal, we just put flowers on the graves of friends & family, or on their tomb if it's in a mausoleum. We never spend money on the flowers, but collect them from our yards, and pick up containers at the cemeteries a couple days before - if you wait too long, they are usually out!

Here are some late spring pictures from our gardens:

Lupine

I chose a pink lupine last year, just because I was so tired of the regular purple. I really like it, and it has gone great guns since I replanted it in a much larger container. I saw a huge bumblebee humping the blossoms things morning, it was quite a sight!



Potted Garden

You can see our California poppies, a large Bleeding Heart plant, some Heirloom tomato plants (one Black Krim, and one Brandywine), and a "miscellenous" pot with Rosemary, Italian Parsley and some summer flowering bulbs (which I can't remember the name of right now).


Pink Rhodie

This Rhododendron from our front yard is show stopper, the blossoms are huge! I severely pruned this bush last fall, but we still have plenty to use for this years' bouquets.



Pale Purple Rhodie

Another one from the front yard (we have 3 total), which has lots of flowers this year. I've always liked Rhodies since they grow so well here, take very little care, and come in so many colors.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Adjustments

I am pleased to announce that Isis is back on line with Floating Down Denial which has a great post on food sustainability and security and the Japanese concept of Satoyama.

Thepsilam has a new home for his blog (Thep's World) on a snazzy new blogging tool called squarespace.

Check 'em out!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Second Verse, Same as the First

This is a cold war era video I found over at The Oregonian embedded in an article by Peter Ames Carlin entitled, "With nuclear annihilation imminent, Portland keeps its cool"



It is 27 minutes, but well worth at least spending 10 or 15 minutes if you can't see the whole thing. The video hit me on a number of levels.

It is a piece of propaganda first and foremost. With our more sophisticated abilities to criticize media, it is plain that this video is meant to invoke fear that leads to compliance. Our current terrorism hysteria is not much different from this video. Take a small but spectacular threat and pump it for everything it is worth.

However, it could also be considered an example of how a community could react to an extreme situation. Those do happen. CBS and the US gov't chose nuclear annihilation, but imagine if such a plan could have been carried out for the big hurricanes of the last 5 years. What if actual coordination had occurred and people cooperated instead of complaining for once in their lives? How many lives would have been saved? How could a pre-existing plan have helped to cope with the financial aftermath of those who lost so much? Emergency Preparedness is not just a Boy Scout merit badge.

In Portland, the same plan could be put together to respond to natural catastrophes. Instead of selling out for corporate contracts and cutting our public resources to the bone, we could actually plan for difficult times. With dwindling natural resources and growing population, it would be a smart idea.

Instead, we prefer a circular firing squad of blame and allowing the most belligerent to wield the microphone. GM is facing bankruptcy and America debates whether to help. I will bet that one of Toyota's worst years ever isn't turned into a cable news circus. In fact, I would bet the government quietly makes sure Toyota does just fine.

It might be an idea for our own country.

(On the other hand, Japan had their own financial meltdown and didn't recover very quickly due to their own foot dragging, so there you go. We appear to be acting similarly to placate the bankers, so prepare for a slow recovery.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Twitter, Blogspot style

Oh, my elbow itches. Let's tell everyone. I'm THAT important.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Short Star Trek Review and Fan Guide

Excellent film. One of the best movies I've seen in a long time. See it.

Should you see the film?
* Trekkie = Yes
* Non-trekkie = Yes

Consider the franchise rebooted.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Ladybug and I took a walk in Portland's Washington Park and Hoyt Arboretum last weekend. It was a wonderful time of year for flowers. The cherries were late in the blooming cycle but the late bloomers were as beautiful as the early ones. I took the revived camera with me. Click the pictures for a closer look.


This overlook shows a view of Portland to the northeast (away from downtown).


A delightful bunch of mushrooms grows around this plant.


Some nice, thick cherry blossoms.


This is a variety of currant growing near the Hoyt Arboretum visitor's center.



This was labelled as Silver Manzanita.


A trillium in the early white stage.


A slightly blurry picture of several trillium (trillia?) that shows the progression from white to deep pink over time.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I am, once again, a Rebel

After double-checking something someone told me, it does not appear that Clear.com internet services is owned by ClearChannel. That makes me a bada*s, internet swashbuckler thumbing my nose at the big boys once again.

(Trying to ignore the little guy's massive ad campaign in the process)

Ha!

In the age of teh Internet tubes, I should know better than to blog verbal hearsay. Bad, bad Snabby.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April Blooms

I resurrected my best digital camera on the hope that it was battery problem rather than a camera problem and got lucky. So now I have a decent camera for the first time in almost 2 years.

Here are the results of the first couple forays into our yard and in Washington Park above Portland, Oregon.

These pictures are from our own yard:



These are the leaves of our water-catching lupine. No flowers yet on this one.



Several years ago, I planted a wild bleeding heart that I bought at some native plant sale for a non-profit organization. It has slowly spread and is doing quite well.



This is an ornamental flower (I believe it is in the mint family) that Ladybug is growing in a hanging planter.

Washington Park stuff is still to come...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Viva La Compagnie

I added a link to a new blog over on the right called Techxpose (or Tech Xpose or something of the sort). The proprietor and I had a nice Meebo-chat on virtual machines based on my earlier post about virus-proofing. It is new, so go visit and find out the latest tech buzz!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My 2009 Stumptown Comics

The 2009 Portland Stumptown Comics Festival took place last weekend. I like it because it is quirky and 100% Portland. I grabbed my two grand nephews, gave them some money, and turned them loose. I only purchased two comics this year:



Historyonics



I still Live - Biography of a spiritualist

Ladybug is an avid historical reader, so I thought these might pique her interest and so they did. I purchased a couple comical comic prints for the MiniSnab as well.

The kids bought their own items. One went for a couple indy artists and bought $7 worth of Super Mario yellow star candies. The other focused more on mainstream comics purchased at the Cosmic Monkey table.

The weather was beautiful and the guys had a great time. Hopefully the economics next year allow for more conspicuous consumption of homegrown art.

Friday, April 17, 2009

On the Bleeding Edge: WiMax

Given that we had NetFlix and a Digital TV ready setup, Comcast TV and internet service was getting a bit redundant. It was time to cut costs.

We made the decision to try the new kid in town: Clearwire. Instead of cable, phone, or fiber optic lines, we had the opportunity to be one of two cities in America to sample something called WiMAX, or 4G, wireless internet. Being wacky carefree, schizophrenic Luddites cum Technojunkies, you can guess what phase our vampiric technical mood swing wrought.

In a nod to one of the last local dial-up providers, we chose PCEZ.com to be our Clear.com dealers. For those in our geographic area, I recommend giving these good folks a nod. They provide a good service to many who can't afford broadband and deserve a financial "bump" for their cheerful service. They got all of our information entered and a few days later we received a WiMAX modem.

An aside: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Translated into English, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." WiMAX may seem like a big new idea, but the seeds were sown a long time ago and I was a part of it.

Back in 1998, there was already a microwave internet service in town called WantWeb. They no longer exist, but an extremely talented person I know wrote about them in Computer Bits magazine right here. For the time, their 750k download speed was phenomenal. Unfortunately, the FCC wouldn't allow microwave uploads, so 14.4k through the phone was as fast as you could upload. That pretty much killed them I think.


Hooking it up was quite easy, but there was one problem. By coincidence, the network I hooked into used the same numbering scheme as my own network (192.168.15.x). With a little router fiddling, I fixed it and we were freed from being next to the nearest cable/telephone jack in the house. I could set up communications anywhere I wanted to (so I did).

The speed was excellent right at first. I attributed that to being one of the first people to sign up. Our plan calls for 6M download and 512k upload speeds. Not as fast as our cable company, but I figured it should be fast enough. We hooked up our Vonage phone and our computers for home and work and off we went.

The speed is mostly consistent, but we do get weird slowdowns when watching Hulu or YouTube that we didn't get when we first signed up. Sometimes the person talking to me on the phone will break up even if they are on a landline. We generally can have only one computer watching video at a time which is unfortunate since we were able to do that with Comcast, but it may be more of a sign that we need to get a life than blaming it on Clear. I think signal variations and the same things that affect TV and radio likely affect this connection.

Our monthly price is $55 that breaks into $30 for the service, $10 because I wouldn't sign a 2 year contract, $5 for the Clear modem rental, and $10 for a static IP address for my business work. Not awesome, but not bad. If you get their USB stick, you can take your laptop all over the city and not worry about Internet access. We went with the home plan. Now that the office has moved home, my employer is defraying the cost.

If you get static IP, know these things: If you use a router, you will need the help of Clear tech support to put your router in their DMZ on the WiMAX modem. This allows your port forwarding to work. You will need your router's MAC address handy as well. You should also know that they block port 80, so you can't run a standard web server on a standard port. They don't advertise this anywhere. Their reasoning is idiotic and I think the tech basically made it up. If they were worried about bandwidth violators, they chose the wrong port.

Overall, I think it is a decent deal for those who want freedom of movement, don't mind a small speed hit (though still faster than many DSL plans), and don't want to host a web page. There was an anti-big company factor involved in it for me to. I loves me those independent companies. However, it was all ruined when I found out that Clearwire is owned by ClearChannel. You know, the nice folks that own a bunch of radio stations, censor playlists, and organized the Dixie Chicks CD burnings when they mentioned the obvious about Bush before it became common knowledge...yeah, them. Out of the frying pan and into the fire I guess. We will probably keep it for now and dump them if the sunspots flare up and mess up our signal (the next couple of years will likely show a cyclical increase).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

When Disappointment Isn't

Spring vacation was a little different this year. It had to be. Times are tougher for everyone. While I am fortunate to still be employed for now, some good and very capable friends are not. There would be no trips to California or beyond this spring. In fact, due to some interesting circumstances, Ladybug and MiniSnab vacationed for the first part of the week, while I did for the last part thanks to the generosity of Papa-in-law-Snab.

Our travels this year brought us to the southwestern corner of Washington State, about 2 hours driving time from Portland, OR. Ladybug and MiniSnab spent a few rain-soaked days in Long Beach, WA seeing the sites and visiting museums sans camera. I brought mine and enjoyed a dry day and a couple drizzly wet days.

We drove to Leadbetter Point State Park at the northern tip of the Long Beach peninsula. The actual tip is a protected area for the snowy plover, so we hiked down to the Willapa Bay side of the park and looked west over the bay where we found this barnacle-encrusted log.



You Make the Call. Low tide or high tide?



On Friday, we went into over the bridge into Astoria, Oregon for a bit of window shopping, then back to the northern shore of the Columbia river and its confluence with the Pacific at Cape Disappointment. This rocky headland is home to a profusion of cormorants.



If you zoom into this picture, you can see the aftermath of a large wave crashing into the cape. A temporary waterfall.



This is the Cape Disappointment lighthouse in the foreground. Emerging into a background is a large cargo ship emerging from the treacherous Columbia Bar and out into the Pacific.



A cormorant flies through the ocean spray from the surf.



I am a big boy, but not even close to this Sitka Spruce.



This was as close as we came to a sunset. It was still beautiful even in its grayness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

And If Respect ISN'T Earned...

I've decided to try to bust up this blog post drought by seeding a passing cloud of angst. In other words, I'm going to try concocting my own "meme". It's a pretty pointed one, too.

We're all told we're supposed to respect our elders. In fact, in some cultures (and religions) it's not even subject to question; if you don't face your seniors, bow down before them. and take their every utterance to heart you risk facing ostracism if not worse. This is particularly true if the elder in question holds a special place in society by virtue of his or her position and/or reputation. Failure to show proper deference marks you as a certified fink.

But what do you do when you are confronted with a "respected elder" who proves to be not all s/he's cracked up to be? That brings us to this "meme". List seven quotes spoken by "respected elders" that show them to be rather less than worthy of respect. It is not necessary to identify who said it.

1. "I'm a great man. I am famous in these parts because I am great. Even if I do something that would get someone else in trouble, no one would blame me. No one would even complain because they all know that I'm a great man, and they know they're lucky to have someone like me in their midst." (Sadly enough, he wasn't joking.)

2. "I realized long ago that I'm no ordinary human being. I am specially blessed. Because of that, there's no chance of anything bad ever happening to me. There's not even any chance of my making a mistake. But because I'm so blessed, I have an obligation to help other people. I do this by correcting their way of living. No one lives right. They're all doing it wrong, so I have to do my best to get them to follow my perfect example." (No, he wasn't joking, either.)

3. "I am the best trained and most experienced member of this department, so naturally I'm the one who deserves the most respect, but no one respects me. That just goes to show that there are many problems in this department. If you have any questions or need any advice, I would recommend you come talk to me. Don't listen to any of the others." (I don't think he was joking, but when he says things like this it's kind of hard to tell.)

4. Respected Elder: (sigh of annoyance) "Look, I'm gonna ask you to tune up with the strobe tuner before rehearsals from now on!" Me: "I have been tuning up with the strobe tuner before rehearsals! Look!" (Plays tuning Bb, strobe tuner stops dead on zero.) Respected Elder: (sigh, pause) "Well...look, you should know better than to trust a damned machine! From now on, don't use the tuner!" (Look, I've gotta patronize you about something!)

5. (In response to a call to brush up on CPR because of a student with a diagnosed heart condition:) "We have no business trying to administer CPR! Even if it means the student dies, it can't be helped! We are neither doctors nor paramedics, so we have no business pretending otherwise! We're not qualified!" (The same individual in response to a call not to intervene excessively in the issues of a student with a diagnosed psychological condition:) "It doesn't matter if we are trained in psychological counseling or not! If we are on the scene, it is our responsibility to deal with the situation! We have no business not intervening to help a student, qualified or not!" (I have no business making up my mind!)

6. "Well, I can't really say whether we've had much success. Looking back, we probably haven't really had much, but the point is that it's our system! We've always used it, and we've never had any problems with it! If it's not broke, don't fix it!" (At least we're comfortable in our mediocrity!)

7. "I'm the commander — see, I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being president." (But the real point is, "Can you explain why you say things?)

Do I really have to stop at seven? Whatever, good enough. I think I'll tag Snabulus, Ladybug, Dave, Dean Wormer, Arkonbey, Swinebread, and Catpsi.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Ok, here we are again - Spring has sprung and it's time for "Wearin' of the Green" and some good food too! Here are some links to the traditional fare I make for family: Corned Beef & Cabbage and Lucky Lime Dessert (leave out the pineapple for my version).

I also have several cute Leprechauns made by Annalee that I use to decorate our home for holiday. I can safely say that St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holiday, besides Halloween. I often wish I could be in Chicago or New York one year to see the big Parades they have...but one which is inclusive (and smaller, so maybe more enjoyable!) is the St. Pat's for ALL Parade & Festival in Queens, NY. Besides, on St. Patrick's Day, I want to party, not listen to alot of preaching!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Rise of the Database and more...

Hi kids. I've been a busy camper lately and the writing muse just hasn't been a-knockin' lately. I WARNED YOU THAT THIS WOULD HAPPEN. Oops, I was channeling there. There are a number of things going on.

Changes, changes, changes. Ladybug is out job hunting. I am closing my office space and moving my work home to save my employer money. I dumped cable television and Internet for WiMax connectivity. My daughter's iPhone is DOA 3 months into a 2 year contract. The new year heralded some painful back problems. We are refinancing El Rancho Snabuloso to increase our odds of staying in our home if things really turn crappy.

Before discussing all that, I wanted to share an article by security expert Bruce Schneier. As you know, I am a fan of living a life free of outside surveillance. I don't need people meddling in my life. Nonetheless, it is important to know when a seismic cultural shift occurs so you can fight for what is still possible in the new situation. From birth records to death certificate, we have always been accessible, but in the age of data sharing, connections are being made that most people aren't even aware of. Schneier summarizes the new playing field rather well. I share it because I don't think most of my readers are aware of how the smallest threads of data can connect our disparate points of data out there or how that process even occurs.

Welcome to the future, where everything about you is saved. A future where your actions are recorded, your movements are tracked, and your conversations are no longer ephemeral. A future brought to you not by some 1984-like dystopia, but by the natural tendencies of computers to produce data.

Data is the pollution of the information age. It's a natural byproduct of every computer-mediated interaction. It stays around forever, unless it's disposed of. It is valuable when reused, but it must be done carefully. Otherwise, its after effects are toxic.

And just as 100 years ago people ignored pollution in our rush to build the Industrial Age, today we're ignoring data in our rush to build the Information Age.


Pollution is an interesting analogy. I am sure there are flaws in it, but it is an effective means of pulling the reader out of their normal thought process.

Rather than doing a bunch of quoting, I would admonish you to read the whole article (the comments are interesting too). I share one more interesting point...

We're not going to stop the march of technology, just as we cannot un-invent the automobile or the coal furnace. We spent the industrial age relying on fossil fuels that polluted our air and transformed our climate. Now we are working to address the consequences. (While still using said fossil fuels, of course.) This time around, maybe we can be a little more proactive.


I have a Norwegian friend who is a database consultant. On a recent data mining project in the US, he was shocked at the low level of privacy laws employed here. He says that the work he was doing would not be permitted in most European countries. Much of the identify theft that is rather easy to commit in the United States simply isn't possible in Europe. We need to adopt their privacy safeguards.

The 4th amendment of the US Bill of Rights is resilient enough to protect us from both public AND PRIVATE sector intrusions of our privacy; we just need to recognize this fact and enforce it through the various legal means at our disposal. Sadly, this amendment is usually the first one attacked when people are gripped by fear.

Enough of that.

======

For those of you with young girls in your sphere of family or friends, I submit the following prayer for them...



I am not a religious person, but if you watched the video, you will see that this hardly matters.

Finally, I am cleaning up the blog entries on the right. The major new addition is going to be the previous owner of the Eugene Torrents site and current owner of a new blog who comments under the name Catpsi. Lovers of Chaosium and Cthulhu will want to link immediately to this site. Commenter Dave should get a kick out of the Exopolitics site that Catpsi links too I think.

Some others, like Freida Bee and Isis: Floating Down Denial have either become private or have finished their time on the Internet Tubes, so I will be trimming our those links. Isis foresaw most of the current turmoil and gave several good hints for getting through it. If you stay towards the real (food water shelter) and move away from the ephemeral (unlimited petroleum and theoretical monetary policy), you will be doing yourself a favor.

PS: For the person who sent me the Meebo message about posting something new to bury the Sexy Men post, I did not do this post for you. A little equal time for all the babe-a-licious chick action is overdue and very called for in the current society.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Damn Sexy Men List

Alright folks, we've had alot of T & A lately, (see Dean's Future Hotties Post at Atomic Romance here). But what about us hetero ladies and gay guys? What hot celebrity crushes tickle our fancies? Well I have compiled my own completely arbitrary list here...but note I've put them in in "theme" catagories..so the actual 1-9 numbering will be different.

Doctors..(er uh, "medical personnel")- starting with my very first crush...

8. Randolph Mantooth: Emergency! - I know this guy made my little 6 year old heart pitter-patter for this "hero" who went around saving people. Perhaps he was the actor who set the precedent for my Hero/DR fixations in the years ahead. Guess what? At the age of 63 this guy is still HOT! (see pic)..and throughout the years he's done alot of fundraising for Firefighters too. You can even watch old episodes on Hulu!





7. Alexander/Siddig el Fadil: Dr. Julian Bashir Deep Space Nine - What can I say, the smarter the better! Maybe it was the English accent or just his plain "Tall, Dark and Handsome" good looks which are so dreamy...in any case he was the only one on Deep Space Nine that was remotely.. "interesting" to me.





3. Hugh Jackman: The Fountain - All around hot, obsessed with his "endless love", historical drama and time travel! What more could you want!...well there's Wolverine, but who wants claws in..um...certain areas? And of course his definite Tall, Dark and Handsome qualifications go without saying...




4. Sean Maher: Dr Simon Tam Firely & Serenity - Again I have to go with the brilliant hero guy...(did you notice it's kind of a thing with me? I've never been attracted to so-called "bad boys"). He saves lives, isn't a jerk to his sister, and has very dry sense of humor... which does tickle..the funny bone (as it were... :P ). I hope we'll be seeing more work from Mr. Maher in the years ahead...on another Joss Whedon show maybe? (Please?)




Young 'uns - For the Raddle Crabber* in all of us...

6. Zachary Levi: Chuck - A nice, extremely geeky almost-graduate of Stanford who is busy saving the world while working at "Buy More"...Again, Tall (very!), Dark and Handsome...and very smart. I think you get the picture...I'm helpless in the face of uber-intelligent cute characters with a big slice of heroic goodness!




9. James Franco: MILK, Tristan & Isolde - Ok, I have to admit he caught the Beaniac's eye first, (they saw Tristan & Isolde in French class... of course)..and evidently there's some kind of Celebrity Incest Law (where one may NOT take a liking to the hot young dudes of one's offspring...) so I can only list him here purely for artistic.. er...aesthetic reasons. Oh hell, he's hot so go see MILK. You'll be glad you did...



2. Jason O'Mara: Sam Tyler Life on Mars - Oh my gawd, the Irish accent (not on the show...in real life!), his cute twinkling blue eyes..can you tell he's my new hotness? This show is an American version of an original BBC production. It's really interesting,(a little bit of Sci-Fi & Cop show drama rolled into one).... and the music is SO cool, really authentic to the times...you can watch back episodes on ABC even!




WRITERS - saved the BEST for last!

5. Alan Moore: Promethea, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - This guy is a geeky girl's God...his work is legendary, and often incorporates uniquely feminine perspectives, which is rare in the comic world. I love that most of his graphic novels are sexy, adult and so historically dense (having a copy of the Dictionary of Imaginary Places handy is a must!). Plus the fact he's a Pagan, wears alot of kooky mystical jewelry, and isn't afraid to take on big bullies like DC Comics & Hollywood makes him a hero in my book!


1. Neil Gaiman!!!!: The Sandman, The Graveyard Book - Like Alan Moore, this amazing writer is very prolific...imaginative and damn sexy, and I'm not just taking about his mind! Did I mention he's Tall, Dark and Handsome? The mythologically rich Sandman series will really awaken you to his wonderful world; a little creepy, sometimes dangerous, but where a willingness to do good, be brave and resourceful in the face of life (and beyond!) is often the best we can hope for in this crazy world. I'd recommend some familiarity with classical knowledge, (by this I mean traditional Western European history & Greek/Roman mythology) to fully appreciate his work (doesn't hurt for Moore's stuff either), but you can enjoy it with all the "riga-ma-role" too. Like Moore, he's a geek girl's GOD, plus he has his own blog where you can read all about his real life thoughts and adventures too!


*my own special word for "cradle robber" - invented involuntarily due to my own bassackwards brain!