Monday, August 31, 2009

To My Wyfe, It Being Her Birth Daye

FOR every hour that thou wilt spare me now,
I will allow,
Usurious god of love, twenty to thee,
When with my brown my gray hairs equal be.
Till then, Love, let my body range, and let
Me travel, sojourn, snatch, plot, have, forget,
Resume my last year's relict ; think that yet
We'd never met.Let me think any rival's letter mine,
And at next nine
Keep midnight's promise ; mistake by the way
The maid, and tell the lady of that delay ;
Only let me love none ; no, not the sport
From country grass to confitures of court,
Or city's quelque-choses; let not report
My mind transport.This bargain's good ; if when I'm old, I be
Inflamed by thee,
If thine own honour, or my shame and pain,
Thou covet most, at that age thou shalt gain.
Do thy will then ; then subject and degree
And fruit of love, Love, I submit to thee.
Spare me till then ; I'll bear it, though she be
One that love me.

(John Donne)

Happy Birthday, love. Da mi basia mille...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Princess Missy

Either that, or a ballerina...

Our Little Miss has decided that she is going full-on Girl, complete with Little Girl enthusiasms ranging from Barbies to Princesses to Ballerinas. In fact, her latest obsession is twirling around to music, which she describes as "being a ballerina".

To go with this, her fascination with Dora the Explorer (Caillou is SO yesterday's stinking fishwrap) has manifested itself with a desire to wrap herself in All Things Dora, which includes Dora curtains, a swatch of which is shown above. Thanks, Mill End Store - you rock!

Meanwhile the Peeper had a very mercurial weekend, by turns angel and devil, laughing and sobbing. He was a great helper at the "clean up Astor School" GI party on Saturday, tho.

So we had a busy weekend, between cleaning house, cleaning school, cleaning up after two busy kids and just trying to clean things up for Mojo's birthday tomorrow.

Stay tuned for some hot 43-year-old birthday fun!

But until then, here's the Ballet of Princess Missy: video

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Lady Eve, or, You Can't Get A Man With A Foot...or can you..?

As I was looking for Barbara Stanwyck pictures for the preceding post, I noticed a curious thing; there are a surprisingly large number of pictures of the lady in the same or a similar pose: reclining or sitting with a man holding her foot.I don't know if it's because she had exceptionally pretty feet, or her directors had foot fetishes, or whether she just had several scenes where her feet or her shoes were a plot device: the above still is from "Ball of Fire", where Henry Fonda as the professor of music falls for Babs as "Sugarpuss" O'Shea, an itinerant songstress and dancer (and mistress of gangstas...), so the idea of her feet as entertainment is fairly congruent with the plot.And here she is giving Fred MacMurray a little nudge with her tempting toes in "Double Indemnity", a terrific thriller and one of her best performances.

And below is perhaps her most sultry foot-catching scenes, with Henry Fonda in "The Lady Eve", a terrific Preston Sturges flick in which she catches Henry, loses him, re-catches him, pretty much slaps him in the face by laying down just how skanky she's been in the past (she was a con artist when they meet in the film taking him for a mark) and STILL re-re-catches him.Can't say I blame him; I'd have gone for Babs if she'd been the daughter of the regiment. Her movie persona was just that smart. And sexy. And funny.

Whatever the reason, the lady's feet never changed in one respect; they were fast, and could think on them.

Dis manibus, Barbara; I hope that you're being smart, and funny, and sexy, somewhere where the audience never tires of you.

VD Friday

Home enjoying another of those "unrequested" days off...

Nothing to say, really, other than the usual: my family is terrific, my job is a little shaky, and my country is a goddamn mess because about 30% of my fellow citizens are freaking oxygen thieves who should be drowned like puppies for being too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time. Oh, and it's cool and rainy. In August. In Portland.

WTF?

August is the only time for Portland to get hot and steamy like an old Barbara Stanwyck love scene. If you can't have your 100-degree days in August, you just can't have 'em.

I love this old poster. You think the smart way to deal with the age-old conversation that has men with money and no nookie on one side and women with nookie and no money on the other would have been to find The Boys a little raincoat for their little soldier...but no - its the Woman who is the Evil; diseased and full of Sin.

And speaking of hot, steamy, Sinful Women...here's Babs herself, pitching some sweet woo to a clueless Henry Fonda in "The Lady Eve".Why Hopsie - you ought to be kept in a cage!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Angel is a Mudflap Girl

Thank's, Powell's Books......for finally finding me a way to fit into to the North Portland vehicle community, yet in a way I can still respect myself.

My own literary angel is looking a a birthday coming up, which means I need to find her a terrific new book. She's pretty picky; likes science fiction and fantasy if they're well written, will enjoy fiction with the same caveat. No romance, history or politics. Intelligent self-help-type books are OK, although she doesn't really read crafty/projecty-type stuff. Some of her favorite authors are David Gerrold, Judith Merkle Riley, Diana Norman/Arianna Franklin, Tom Robbins. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who are you? Oi! Oi! Oi! Oi!

Mojo and I went to the Portland Timbers game last Saturday with my friend Brent, who has an incredible gift for photography. He snapped off some wonderful shots of the Timbers Army at the game and posted them at Teh Facebook, from which I unabashedly stole several to paste here. Brent's eye is terrific, and he managed to capture some of what makes soccer, and especially Timbers soccer, so fantastic.

This guy was cheer leading down in front of the Army; he loved his role, loved the game and loved being part of the Army, and I think Brent shows all of that in a single image.There's no pity in the Rose City.I liked this for the composition of the shot - see what I mean about how Brent has a terrific eye for it - as well as the image from the Culturepulp comic about the Army that came out several years back. The World's Worst Newspaper is less (not that it is ever more, really) for the loss of Culturepulp in the Friday weekend section...This is a real oddity. At some point in the recent (as in a couple of years) past the Army started doing this during the national anthem. At the end of every line you toss your scarf in the air and utter a whooshing sound. So the whole stadium hisses; "Oh, say, can you see (psssh!)/By the dawn's early light (psssh!)" Weird. Kinda cool, but weird.I love this one. The Army has a couple of "gestures", and the jingling keys is one that accompanies the chant "Go home, you bums" (or scum, or punks, depending on the mood). I've also see it accompany the "You're going home in a Portland ambulance" chant, and always, always, when an enemy player is sent off.What a great game, and what great supporters. And Brent - the Portland answer to Bob Capa! You kick ass, buddy!

So if you're in Portland and you hear the Shed rocking - c'mon down and make some noise!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Commo Check

How's everybody doing? Already looking towards the coming autumn, back to school (for those in school, or those whose kids are in school, or those who TEACH school...), trying to cram in the last little bit of summer? Off doing the "late summer vacation" thing, away from the Internets (my family did that for years, took my father's two weeks in late August to travel up to a place called the Watervale Inn in upper western Michigan*)?

Just wondering because it seems a trifle quiet around here. Not sure if all the noise and activity is over at Milpub, or Facebookling, or whether I'm just not posting anything that's drawing comment. But I hope everyone is enjoying a fruitful and pleasant August.

Our August has been a little TOO fruitful in one respect. The plum tree in the back yard goes through cycles of bearing, some years just enough, others a bumper crop that threatens to overwhelm our compost bins. This year was the latter.

We generally try and keep ahead of the falling plums, but got lazy in the first week of August and by the time we caught back up we were overwhelmed. And, worse, somewhere nearby we have a hive of honeybees, who discovered the plums about the same time we stopped policing them up. The bees descended on the fallen fruit and began gorging, and before you could say "little yellow bastards" the back yard was a minefield of aggro honeybees drunk on fermented plum liquor. Poor Peep got stung on the foot as he tried to move the hammock, and I was chased off several times trying to clean up the tempting fruit. But late summer sun and wind appears to have dried up the temptation, and I may be able to gather in the rest.

But other than that, we're thrashing along. My work is still dangerously slow, while poor Mojo's is utterly mad - her attorney boss' mother is dying, the boss is taking time off and the project schedule is exploding. The big Peeper Man is getting ready for First Grade, while his little sister is just her usual adorable self.

With that, I have to tell you a Missy Story.

I'm leaving for work early (as usual) with a silent house behind me when I hear the "thumpa-tump" of little running feet. It's Missy; in the past year she's realized that she can jump out of her Big Girl Bed (unlike the cosleeper-cum-crib she was penned in for her first year with us) and roam about the house when she wakes up. She's my baby girl, rising early and perkily like I do (unlike those in our family who shun the morning like vampires; Mojo and the Peep would sleep until noon if they could) and she often runs out to sit with me when I don't have an early morning job.

But this morning I had to leave, so when she said "Daddy, I want sleep with you in your bed!" I picked her up and held her little body close to my heart, inhaling the warm, sleepy little-girl-morning smell of her, kissed her and told her I had to go to work. I asked her if she could go snuggle with mommy in our bed, and she agreed. So I went back into our bedroom and cuddled her down next to a very sleepy Mojo. I smiled down at the little bright eyes peeping up from behind the falls of black hair and the terrycloth wubbie, kissed her again and said bye-bye.

I went out into the kitchen to pick up my cell and again heard the sound of small feet on the floor, turned, and picked her up.

"Daddy," she whispered in my ear, "I want to give you hug and kiss; can I give you hug and kiss?"

As I carried her back to the bed I felt the whisper-light brush of her lips on my cheek and the "smack!" noise her kiss makes. Two small, fierce little arms went around my neck as I laid her back down amid the wavelets of sheet and blanket.

The morning outside was cool and misting, but it felt as warm as my heart.

(*I should really talk about this place, it's WAY cool. Maybe later this week)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August Night

On a midsummer night, on a night that was eerie with stars,
...In a wood too deep for a single star to look through,
You led down a path whose turnings you knew in the darkness,
...But the scent of the dew-dripping cedars was all that I knew.

I drank of the darkness, I was fed with the honey of fragrance,
...I was glad of my life, the drawing of breath was sweet;
I heard your voice, you said, 'Look down, see the glow-worm!'
...It was there before me, a small star white at my feet.

We watched while it brightened as though it were breathed on and burning,
...this tiny creature moving over earth's floor . . .
'L'amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle,'
...You said, and no more.(Sara Teasdale)

Graecia capta ferum victorem cepit

Busy weekend, between socializing, looking for furniture and the regular household chores.

But I received a comment from a gentleman in Taiwan and wanted to bring it forward to the main blog because I think it touches on something important.

James writes:
"With your adopted daughter how are you going to go about teaching her about her identity? This is something my friends and I talk on about endlessly here in Taiwan. How will you go about teaching her Chinese history? She is young now but at some point she will realize she doesn't look like mom and pop. Will you take the route of Americans are come one-come all? Will you all start to learn Mandarin as a family to try to give her a connection to her roots?

I have some friends that are going back to their countries of origin so that the kids get brought up in "their culture." But doesn't that mean they lose their Taiwanese culture?

This is a very complex issue with no easy answers."
One thing that has never changed about adoption is tragedy. All adoptions start with that; a child has lost her parents, and must start again with a family that is not hers by blood. Even more tragic is adoption across cultures or races, where the loss includes the loss of the society that would have enfolded her.The bottom line for Missy is that she ISN'T Chinese anymore. She's an American of Chinese origin, just like my grandfather was an American of Scottish origin and my wife's great-great-grandfather was an American of German origin. So I will assume that her primary orientation will be to look at China as I do, say, Scotland: with interest in its culture and history but no strong inclination to speak Chinese fluently any more than I want to speak Gaelic. She will never be a mainlander; she lost that when she lost her parents, just one more piece of the tragedy that is orphaning and adoption.

But...the problem is that you can't tell by looking at me that my grandpa stepped off the boat 100 years ago. Bill James once wrote about the huge change in baseball that occurred in 1947 that "...before the black players arrived there were Polish-Americans, Jews, Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans and beyond; after the blacks arrived everyone else was "white"." Missy will never be "white", and so, unfortunately, she will always be a American with a "difference" until us white folks become just another Yank and not THE gold standard of American-ness.

As for her native country and culture, what I would hope is that she WILL be interested enough in China's present to become fluent in Mandarin as well as learn to read it. And from there, hopefully she can connect with her native country.

As you know if you've been following this blog or a while, I have a real issue with the standard sort of "Chinese heritage" stuff that many American parents stick their kids in; lion dances, kung-fu, silk robes...sure, these are "traditional culture", but why them and not Hong Kong hip-hop, Shanghai dance moves, Pobaby cartoons and speed dating in Beijing? The local adoption group, Families with Children from China, is all about the former - what I call the "Chinese restaurant"-type culture - so they're no help. They refuse to accept that they're just like I am - a clueless white American, with no more understanding of what makes contemporary China tick than Elmer Fudd knows about Confucius.

The reality is that while I can talk to her about the Warring States period, Empress Cixi and the Great Leap Forward, I am nowhere tuned in enough to help her appreciate her homeland's modern culture. She will have to get that herself, if she wants, when she's old enough. With any luck we can get involved with Chinese-American organizations that can help her with that and get her started early.

So she will always be caught between two cultures, that of her birth and that of her adopted country, the same old dilemma that first-generation immigrants have always had.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Well, THAT sucked...

Educational software produces some...unexpected...results.

(From xkcd)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Par 3 Fourteenth has a nasty dogleg right before the windmill...

The past weekend we ventured up to the Steakburger in scenic Hazel Dell, WA.This place is fairly amazing - a sort of time warp without the pelvic thrust, it is a thumping piece of 1962 that remains virtually unchanged beside the mighty roar and thrum of Interstate Route 5.

Aside from the Space Age feel of the place, the burgs were fresh and good, the malts chocolate and malty and the miniature golf very, very retro.

In the days of my youth my ex and I used to holiday on the Jersey shore. There are three basic things to do on the Jersey shore: drink, go to the beach, and play either mini-golf or skee ball.

I hate fucking skee-ball.

But the mini-golf in Hazel Dell is pretty amazing, a whole two generations removed from the fancy lights and buzzers and whatnot of the Jersey shore. Peeper raced about from hole to hole, my father-in-law played a bad, methodical game, Mojo and I chaperoned the kids, and my sister- and mother-in-law abandoned halfway through to watch and help the kiddos.

Here Maxine experiments with a putting technique I suspect that Tiger Woods has already abandoned as unprofitable... videoSo as you can see, much fun was had at the mini-golf behind the Steakburger in Hazeldell.

A Thousand Words

Just in case you're wondering why the 90% top income tax bracket, regulation of credit default swaps, an end to offshoring and downsizing, a public option for health care reform and a swift end to foreign filibustering aren't going to be coming around anytime soon.

(crossposted at Milpub)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Use the Force, Luke...

So the Peeper and I are watching "The Empire Strikes Back" for, like, the four zillionth time the other day. He loves it, I'm willing to sit through it again from love of the Peep and a sort of distant affection for the impact of the originals back in the Seventies.

But, I have to admit, the daddy mind wanders a bit.

It doesn't help that I still remember having a bit of a thing for the actress Carrie Fisher back in the day.

So I was sitting there watching Princess Leia suddenly get a tingle of her Force power and (being male and post-pubescent) thinking about Carrie, and the Force, and consequently thinking about sex. In particular, thinking: "Y'know, if I could suddenly manipulate stuff with my mind, the hell with throwing stuff at evil Sith Lords or manipulating weak-minded minions. We'd be talking really, really, really. Great. Sex."

You can't tell me that G. Lucas didn't think about that, too. The guy put Fisher in a totally gratuitous metal bikini in his last decent Star Wars flick (and, when you think about it, what decent flicks HAS the guy directed since the first SW epic? He's a pretty tragic story, when you think about it.)

But so far the sexual innuendo in the lightsaber-and-droid milieu is pretty anemic. Probably good, in that Mister Peep is way excited about the new season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" coming up in a couple of weeks. He's all about gunships and blasters. But I'm going to have a hard time watching smart-alec teen jedi Ahsoka Tano without a smirk until this whole notion wears off.

Lechery, lechery, Star Wars and lechery. Nothing else holds fashion. At least the one for the daddy and other for the Peeper. I don't know if I can handle the day he starts to fashion the former. But I do wonder...who will his Carrie Fisher be?

Cool Things in North Portland: Columbian Cemetery

It's not a very peaceful spot.The entire plot is beneath the I-5 interstate overpass that flies the monstrous steel, glass and rubber torrent of traffic from Kenton to the edge of the great river and back.

Even if the freeway didn't lour over it the neighborhood, what there is of it, is insalubrious; a cheerless waste of mid-century industrial erections characterized principally by a complete lack of anything resembling elegance, grace or dignity. The Slough, which meanders along the north edge of the Columbian Cemetery, is infilled wetland as foetid sump, known throughout the greater Portland basin for its toxicity, sediment laced with heavy metals and trash-choked bywaters.

But for all of this, there is a certain mournful peace about the old burying ground.
The plot as just a part of a donation land claim filed by one "Captain" Lewis Love, pioneer, farmer, logger and eventual timber baron and merchant. A New Yorker who crossed the continent in 1849 with his wife of 13 years (who we know from his mouth only as "Mrs. Love" - the captain's autobiography mentions only that the worthy's maiden name was Griffith. I see from the cemetery register that he is buried next to an Alice R, who is probably the doughty missus.) and, presumably, children to hack out a homestead on the lowlands of the Columbia South Shore.

Homesteading the swampy flats south of the Columbia wasn't a game for weaklings. Here's the captain telling his granddaughter Harriet about the rich bounty of the Columbia Valley:

"In the spring I moved in a little log house joining my farm on Columbia Slough and soon after we all took the Mountain or Camp Fever, and also ran out of provisions, yet we had good friends. The year before we moved there, there was a good crop of potatoes raised on the place, and that year there was a few volunteer potatoes came up. Our friends, the wood rats, would dig them up and bring them in a pile them up in the log cabin and we would steal them from the rats and make our soup of them. This was our living for some time. We had no doctor only from the Hudson Bay Co. and he charged $50.00 per trip besides his ferriage which brought his bill to $52.00. Between him and the wood rats we weathered it through."

Tough? You could say so.

Some time during the family's stay on the flats north of what would be Kenton they buried one or more of their own there. Neighbors and friends were probably interred along with them, and eventually the site became a public burial place in 1857.

Today roughly whatever remains of about 5,000 souls are entombed there. The grass is rank and the trees are rough because there is little money to pay for the mowing or trimming of them. Many of the older headstones are illegible, some have fallen, and most have the sort of lonely, dejected look of an object no longer cared for by the living.But the old Long burying ground is, in its way, a part of the living North Portland, part of the soil which my own children spring, Cadmus-like, and, as such, has its own sort of sad, orphaned dignity.

The collected wisdom of the Internet









No message - just a collection of demotivators and other bizarre creations from the 'Net. Enjoy.

Cool Things in North Portland: Chopsticks III

Every time I drive past this place on Columbia Boulevard I crack a smile.I just try and figure out how the subtitle on the sign - the sort of fractured English spoken by Asian B-girls - made it past any sort of proofreading at the sign manufacturer. And I have to admit; I don't know how CAN be lounge.

Trial before Pilate

The generation of this post came from two very different parents, as should all fertile offspring. The first was a comment on the earlier post at Graphic Firing Table about celebrity culture in general and as it applies to Lance Armstrong, the cyclist, in particular. The other was a part of a long conversation I've been having with a friend, a terrifically bright and vital woman, about perception and truth and the relationship between them.

First, the comment. The poster, a friend of ours who is a cyclist himself and is married to a fitness fanatic and passionate cycling addict, said:
"...your discussion of the Lance's bad behavior was the final straw, and I just took off the yellow bracelet I have been wearing for months...as I read the coverage, and read about Kristin Armstrong I felt less and less happy about wearing the symbol of somebody I increasingly thought of as callous and egotistical. The details of his breakup with Sheryl Crow just crystallized my distaste for Lance's character."
So the revelation of Lance's ruthlessness put an end to both the bracelet and the respect.

The discussion revolved around my friend's concept of Truth as something universal and immutable, a sort of Truth as Godhead, that exists as an object beyond, immune to and unaffected by, human perception.Its a good discussion, and well worth the recounting but beyond what I want to talk about here. But I want to use it as a frame to hang my subject on.

Because in this case the is a central Truth to the matter: the entirety of the personality of Lance Armstrong himself.

This is utterly unknown and, more to the point, unknowable, to any of us; my friends, me, you the reader. We cannot know Lance Armstrong as he knows himself, as his family and friends know him, even as those who are acquainted with the man know him. What he likes, what he doesn't, his strengths, his failings...beyond the crayon drawing of the man presented in the public media we have, like my friend's concept of abstract Truth, no way of understanding LA through inquiry or perception.

We can observe, assess and judge what we see as aspects of the man's personality. And I have, and did; saying that, while I respect the man's athletic skills and his tough struggle back from cancer, his treatment of the women in his life leaves me cold, and less that enamored of him as a husband, fiancee' and lover.

But the things is, those things don't lessen his skill. They don't detract a bit from his courage.

And they don't affect his stated belief, through his Lance Armstrong Foundation, "in life...in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being...in energy: channeled and fierce...in focus: getting smart and living strong. Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything."

As someone who has been shot at, well, Lance, no, attitude isn't everything = windage and elevation make a difference. But let that pass.

The thing is, the yellow bracelet can mean different things, and I would say that it may mean more, or less, or just different things than the man himself.

If you're wearing a Livestrong bracelet to symbolize your fight against cancer, or someone's hope for recovery and survival...or as a way of expressing support for the man as a cyclist and a champion, then it seems to me that revelations of the man as a man, husband, father, partner really don't dim the brightness of that little rubber band. You can support the man as an athlete, or as a cancer survivor, without admiring or respecting his romantic or sexual ethics.

But if you're wearing it as some sort of general show of affiliation or association with Lance Armstrong the man, well...

...then you're probably wearing it for the wrong reasons.

Lance Armstrong is no different from any of the other strong, glib and pretty people we "meet" through the electronic media. His strength cannot strengthen us, his prettiness gild us, or his fame enhance us. His intelligence doesn't make us wiser, his wealth make us richer. We are who we are regardless of our wish to cover ourselves with a tiny corner of the mantle of his celebrity.

Sadly, we live surrounded by the notion that none of the realities in the above paragraph are true, but we are smaller and lesser for believing them. When Pilate asked "What is truth?", he meant to pose a conundrum, not state a contemporary confusion. But more and more, I believe that we in 21st Century America are truly confounded separating our perceptions from reality, belief from fact, and the cold truth from warm and inviting lie.

(crossposted from MilPub)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Counting Crows

Those of you who've followed this blog for a while know that I enjoy birds and watching birds. And you might remember that of the birds, perhaps my favorites are the clever members of the corvid species; the crows, jays and ravens.

These guys are the Cantonese of the bird world - smart, aggressive, adaptable and ubiquitous. And now a young woman from Seattle named Lyanda Haupt has written a new book about them and their success in a human-dominated world.

"Crow Planet" is her personal observations of the corvids, and especially the more human-adapted species of corvids such as the American Crow of her home town.

I haven't yet read her work, but the reviewers suggest that she covers some informative and entertaining ground, including her own personal observations of the crows of West Seattle. Her blog, "The Tangled Nest" includes her ruminations on the birds as well as recipes, urban gardening tips and an embarassment of other notions. Lyanda seems to be a very Northwest sort of Hip Urban Mama, full of crunchy granola wisdom and jam cooking hints. The reveiwers also noted that the reach of her prose seems to exceed her grasp, for the same reasons - which is not by any means a reason to avoid her work.

In a lot of ways people are very crow: we tend to be fascinated by cheap and glittery objects, we take what we want rather than just what we need, and we tend to hold our grudges long after they benefit us. So I'd recommend her new book to anyone looking for an insight in both crows, and people.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Random Ten

The grandparents are here! The grandparents are here!

As usual when the in-laws show up, life has taken on a sort of random, meandering quality. So in honor of this weird evntful non-event, I'm just sitting here with Little Miss in the background watching "Dora the Explorer" (or as she describes it, "DoradoradoratheExplorer!" pulling over the random things I've been thinking about.

1. How is it that a little girl can be adorable and yet stubbornly impossible at the same time?

2. Having just posted a long rumination about the Tour de France, I was amused to see that the great race has also had its great cheats, in particular Hippolyte Acouturier,

whose notion of drafting one of the race vehicles by tying a wire to the bumper and holding the other end in his teeth pretty much fits the description in the article: "While simply catching a ride from a car is an undeniably effective way to win a bicycle race, its lack of deniability and general dumb shit blatancy severely detract from this being a usable method of cheating." Deplore the man's ethics if you will, but you have to respect both his ingenuity and his craziness.

3. I picked up earlier that the Transportation Security people have now got adorable little uniforms and steenkin' badges and everything, but, really, THISis ridiculous. TSA peeps, repeat after me: I am not a copper. I am not a copper. I am not..."

4. Is it a relict of our arboreal days that we learn to throw fairly quickly (if not accurately, at least not all of us) but catching seems to be a late-developing skill?

5. Has anyone else thought lately about the cell phone as the pocketwatch of the 21st Century?I know that I don't wear a wristwatch anymore, and am pretty much timeless when out of cell range. IS this happening to everyone, or is it just me?

6. I'm not sure I can stand much more politics as usual. When the so-called health care "debate" centers around lies about euthanasia for seniors and ginned-up riots at town halls, I'm afraid that the state of American political give-and-take is so deteriorated as to make the antics of the Imperial Roman senate look like the deepest cogitation of the great philosophers.

7. If you haven't seen Swiper the Fox dressed up as a giant hot dog, you haven't...I'm not sure what you haven't, but you haven't something. One of the more interesting things about having kids later in life is it gives you perspective on the stuff you loved as a kid.And, frankly, that perspective isn't real flattering sometimes. Much - perhaps most - of what gets fed to kids is utter crap. Dora the Explorer is actually more tolerable than most, but the whole notion of Dora as a tween idol? Hmmm...not so much.

8. We here at the Fire Direction Center seem to be singlehandedly supporting the commercial rock industry in Northwest Oregon. This may or may not be a good thing. But the results are pleasing. What is it about people that we seem largely unable to resist the impulse to fiddle with the vista that nature presents us.

I wonder if some far future archaeologist will find the stones we've laid and scratch her head, trying to figure out what the hell those odd primitives were up to.

9. One thing I just don't get about the politics of natural resources is the whole "drill, baby, drill" and the Right's attitude of "Nothing to see here, move along, there's noting going on..." I've been thinking about this with the recent curvetting about over Detroit bailouts, green energy and oil drilling leases off California. I mean, petroleum geology is a specialty but the overall geology of petroleum isn't rocket science. Biomass requires geologic levels of pressure and temperature to transform organic hydrocarbon to keratin and then petroleum. This HAS to happen in geologic time; a minimum of thousands of years, and more likely tens of thousands. I've never read of a petroleum source younger than Pliocene age (>1.8 million years old).

So think about the chronology of petroleum in the Industrial Age: essentially ALL the petroleum used by Man has been used between 1850 and today, a period of 150 years. To go from exploration to production to consumption takes a barrel of oil perhaps forty years and typically as little as twenty.

Do the math: 1 million years plus to make it, twenty to use it.

We're running out of oil. Not today, not tomorrow, not next week. But not that long from now.

So we can either pretend that we're not and get gobsmacked by the Post-petroleum Era. Or not. Go figure which will be less painful.

10. Interesting conversation with my daughter this morning. She was playing her favorite game, pretending to be a baby. So I asked her: do you remember what it was like when you were a real baby. And she replied (translated from the Maxine): "I was in a school and there are lots of grownups and no other babies and they didn't want to see me being a baby."Hmmm. THAT's interesting. She's an intriguing little girl. I hope to be around long enough to know the woman she grows into.

Friday, August 07, 2009

When my job sucks...

...is when I have to tell people about stuff like this.No big shock. It's crummy construction from the 1950's, no drainage behind it, chinzy little footing, just falling apart like you'd expect. But the poor homeowner has a retaining wall that's retaining two things right now, jack and shit, and jack just caught the bus outta town.Sometimes I feel like the Angel of Wallet Death, giving people the bad news about stuff like this.