Sunday, July 31, 2005

Getting a buzz 4 ounces at a time

I attended my first Oregon Brewers Festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland. I've been a fan of microbrew beers for a long time, but obviously my beer knowledge is not as developed as many of the people who attended the Brewers Festival.

I still have much to learn before I can become a true connoisseur. But I can qualify as a beer SNOB (Supporter of Native Oregon Beer). They had shirts like that at the festival, but at $20 a pop, I wasn't that much of a SNOB.

So, I may not be able to masterfully describe the characteristics of a beer by its hoppiness or the maltiness. But I know what I like. And my favorite beers of the festival, of those I was able to try (and there were too damn many to try them all and not end up on my lips) were the stouts. Many of the IPAs and others I tried were too bitter with an acidic after taste. But the stouts didn't have that problem.

My favorite was the Black Gold Imperial Stout by Full Sail Brewing Co. of Hood River. It's the only beer I went back for a full pour of after a sample.

I hope Full Sail opts to make the stout available in bottles.

Many people at the festival were obviously there just to get drunk, which can always get a bit dicey in a big crowd, but while we were there Saturday toward the end of the day, I saw no major problems, other than a few staggering souls. Well, and one member of our party got peeved at a man who brushed up against her in the crowd. She got up in his face for intentionally copping a feel. He took his tongue lashing like a man and slithered off before any of us had to step in and separate them.

So, the 18th annual Oregon Brewers Festival was my first time at the outing, taking some fine, and not so fine beers. It was also a great venue for people watching. I would certainly say I would gladly go again.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Wasting away

So, I spent my Friday night playing around with some online stuff. I'm getting more and more involved with my employer's Web site, so I played with a few things tonight, which then inspired me to play with the blog a little, so I build a syndication "ad" for Digital Fishwrap to go on the side rail.

It's probably silly to advertise my own site on my own site, but I was playing, and learning some things about using some photo editing software I haven't used for many years and many versions.

By the way, if you don't recognize the waterfall in the Fishwrap ad, that's Multnomah Falls, which is located east of Portland in the Columbia Gorge.

So, I was playing with software and lost all track of time. A little bit ago I looked up, noticed it was after midnight and I still hadn't had dinner or taken a nap, or gone out for a few beers, which were all things I planned to do with my Friday night.

So, my great idea for a blog post will have to wait. I'm too tired and hungry to spend any more time in front of a computer today. I hope the toast and jam I had just a few minutes ago will tide me over until morning. I am out of food in the hours, and too wiped to go in search of sustenance.
I'm off to Portland in the morning to see the new niece, and maybe sample a few beers at the Oregon Brewers Festival.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Look Ma, no wires

I bought a couple of new toys yesterday. So this is my first official "wireless" post.

When I got Internet service working here at my new apartment, I had a messed up system in place. Because of limited locations for the phone jacks, and my phone company is my DSL provider, I had a cable stretching from my modem on one side of the kitchen to my computer on the other opposing wall. So I ended up having a cable hanging across the front of my kitchen about a foot off the ground, which meant I had to step over the cord every time I went into the kitchen.

It was not a good setup, and I came close to either breaking my neck or ripping the cord out of the wall several times tripping over the damn thing.

So yesterday, I picked up a wireless network adapter to connect to my modem, and now have a wireless connection. So, now, once I get my new computer desk, I'll be able to move the computer back to the spare room, which I intended to make into my office in the first place and get it off my kitchen table.

I also picked up a jump drive to make it easier to transport material back and forth from my home PC and my office Mac.

And best of all, I got out of Best Buy without spending an arm and a leg. But I was tempted. There were some cool new laptops. But, I wanted to make sure I could get the wireless thing working before I spend 2 months rent on a new toy, which I really don't need.

Well, I better go to work, since I haven't upgraded technology enough to telecommute. Which is probably good, otherwise I'd probably never get dressed.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

It's a girl!

I have a new niece!

Well, sort of.

To be completely accurate, my daughter has a new cousin who was born today in Portland.

Does that make me an uncle? To be honest, I don't know.

My daughter's mother and I never married, and so the mother of new "Baby I" was never officially my sister in-law. Well, for that matter my daughter doesn't call me dad either, she calls me by my first name.

But anyway.

So, I don't know if I "legally" have a new niece or not, but I do, so that's that. And I'll be seeing her this weekend.

Welcome to the world "Baby I." I'm sorry it's such a mess for your arrival. Us grownups aren't the tidiest housekeepers in that regard. But we'll really glad you are here.

The reports I'm receiving via text messaging is that Mom and Baby are fine. I got the report that labor had begun shortly before 11 a.m. today. When I called after work, the newest member of the family had still not made her entrance. But she made her grand entrance shortly before 7 p.m.

Congratulations Mom and Dad and Big Sis.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mighty neighborly of 'em

I'm about tired of apartment living. My upstairs neighbors are driving me nuts. There are a couple of young guys who live up there, one of whom I've met who works the night shift at Wal-Mart, if that gives you any kind of inclination of the type of place I'm living. Not that I have anything against being young, and I don't have anything against people who work at Wal-Mart for that matter, but it is so different than the place where I am in my life right not.

A couple of weekends ago there was a rowdy party upstairs; the kind that involved people pissing and throwing shit off the balcony and the cops getting called. One partygoer, a girl, got a ride out in an ambulance and at least one guy got a ride out in a cop car according to my nosy nextdoor neighbor. Underage people were there apparently, if the tenants themselves are even of age. If so, it's only barely. And apparently all this started happening about the time I crashed for the night after returning home from a trip to Eastern Oregon and a stopover in Portland.

Tonight when I came home from work, for some reason I came in through the patio door, rather than the main entrance. And there was a bunch of crap scattered on and around my patio like a beer can, cigarette butts and a wasted cigarette lighter, all courtesy of my upstairs neighbors obviously. I haven't cleaned the trash up yet, because I'm debating whether to just throw it up over their balcony railing or to put it in a bag and leave it outside their front door, or completely puss out and toss it all in the trash.

But I had forgotten about my neighbors until about 11 p.m. when there was a whole bunch of commotion upstairs. It sounded like people were running wind sprints in combat boots. Back and forth, back and forth, just a few feet over my head.

Then the drama moved outside. Now, it's summer and it was fairly warm today and I live in an apartment with no air conditioning, so the windows are cracked open. And even over the TV, I could here the distinctive wail of a woman crying. There's a whole white trash late teen melodrama playing out just outside my livingroom window.

As best as I can make out the young woman, who doesn't live here, is upset at her boyfriend, or some guy, and then there are references to another guy, and two guys here talking to the distraught girl. She's pissed at her boyfriend. She may think he's messing around with her roommate or another woman or women, and there are some financial disputes involving money for car insurance and a ring the boyfriend may or may not have thrown out in the grass. And on top of it all, the guys here thought she was pregnant. She says she's not, but wishes she was, and doesn't want to lose the boyfriend.

I don't get it. How can you be in a relationship hopelessly doomed to failure, or emotional abuse, if not physical assault, and still want to father that guy's baby? You know, I've had women tell me I'm too nice of a guy before and I'm beginning to believe it. Maybe I should have hauled off and smacked a woman or two to get there attention. And yes ladies I'm being completely sarcastic, but someone needs to explain to me why women are attracted to dumbfuck asshole losers who couldn't give two farts about them. Do these callous bastards all have big dicks? Is it the danger that's a thrill?

I've never understood those dramatic relationships where people fight all the time, particularly in public venues and draw others, intentionally or unintentionally, into their little two-bit soap operas. I've only been in one melodramatic relationship (OK make that two, but one was a bit of a long distance affair and turning off the ringer on the phone eventually allowed me to get some sleep). But the one face-to-face dramatic pairing was with my ex. Obviously that didn't work out. And yes I was in love with her, but I hated the fights. Came damn closed to breaking it off every time we had one. And maybe that's what she was trying to get me to do, since she eventually broke it off. I've done that little trick before, make your lover think you are an asshole so she'll break it off. You may be an asshole, but at least you aren't the bad guy, if that makes any sense, which of course it doesn't.

But at this point in my life I just want to live in a quiet place of my own without young girls around whose only ambition in life is to get knocked up in an attempt to land a man and young boys around whose only ambition is to figure out when the next party is so they can get fucked up and try to fuck anything with a hole or two between their legs.

Yea, we need a little drama in life, but if I want to be a spectator to drama that what I've got cable TV for.

I think it's about time to start looking for a house. I wonder if the bankers and creditor's will agree.

There's always a fucking catch, isn't there?

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A touch of home

There's an old saying that home is where the heart is. I supposed that is true. But if you take that a step or two farther, home is where family and friends are.

For many years I've lived a long distance away from family, but have been fortunate to make friends and eventually came to think of someplace other than my "home" state of Oregon as home. Palm Springs became my home.

Well, now I'm back in my home state, but it has not become my home yet. Yesterday, at a wedding of a couple of former coworkers, I was fortunate to get a visit from home. In addition to the couple getting married two other couples who I used to work with were also in Portland for the wedding.

It was good to see some old friends. We spent hours talking and laughing and sharing memories, and just chattering about a lot of inconsequential stuff. It was great.

It was undeniably a good day.

It was a good day for another reason too. It was a good day for the things that I wasn't thinking about. If you've read into the archives, or have been a long time reader (and if so you really need to find better ways to spend your time) you may know that I was engaged up until about a year ago. In the time after I got engaged until now I have been to several weddings. In the last year and half I've been to four weddings; on in Florida, two in Portland and one in Palm Springs. In fact one of the couples who was at the wedding yesterday got engaged about the same time my ex and I did. There were three couples, counting my ex and me, that all got engaged about the same time. The other two couple are now married. Me, well, not so much.

But the odd thing, the good thing, is that my ex was not on my mind yesterday. I did not have those thoughts of "I wonder if my wedding would have been like this." It was just a day for celebrating the love and commitment of two former colleagues, and spending quality time with some other former colleagues. No sappy sentimentality on my part. Just happiness for the newly wed couple, and for seeing some old friends.

I guess what got me thinking about what I wasn't thinking about is that one of the former colleagues mentioned my ex's name toward the end of the night. We all used to work together, and K was talking about how she has this picture on her desk of several women and how she is the only one still left in Palm Springs. The ex was one of the women in the picture.

And I realized at that moment that a shiver no longer runs through me when someone mentions my ex's name. And I realized how much she had not been on my mind yesterday.

That was fine with me. Yesterday was about ongoing relationships, not ones that are dead and buried.

We are now scattered in three different states -- Georgia, California and Oregon, but for one day we all came together to share some toasts, a few laughs and a few hugs.

It was a great day thanks to some good friends.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Time flies

Wow, where did this week go? And I haven't posted since Tuesday. Sheesh. Good thing I'm not getting paid for this.

Just wanted to check in. I am alive, just not very inspired to write I guess.

Tomorrow, or more accurately I should say later today, I'm heading to Portland to attend a wedding for a couple of former coworkers from my Palm Springs days. I'm really looking forward to it. There should be a couple of other couples I used to work with who will be there as well. It will be nice to see some familiar faces. Well, once I'm not related to anyway.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jewel in the crown

Oregon is full of special places. One of those places where man's and God's compelling architecture complement one another is on the old Columbia River Gorge highway outside of Portland.

For most of my adult life, I have been too much in a rush to take the road less traveled through the gorge. There are some stunning views from Interstate 84 through this area, between Portland and The Dalles. But the scenic route forces you to slow down, due to the narrow two-lane road, and offers several waypoints and stops at state parks and spectacular waterfalls. If you travel from east to west on this road after you get past Multnomah Falls, one of the most photographed landmarks in Oregon, you come upon another treasure -- Vista House at Crown Point.

Vista House is not camera shy either. You probably have seen images of this place before, even if you haven't seen it for yourself and didn't know what it was. It has been a popular spot for photo and film shoots over the years.

Vista House was build about 90 years ago, with the two-lane road was new, and the only overland route through the gorge. They don't make roadway rest stops like this any more, and this one has been closed for renovation for some time. I made the trek on this route about a year and a half ago, and Vista House was still being renovated. So, I had never actually been inside it, unless we went inside during one stop there as a child, and if so I don't remember and certainly would not have appreciated the marble splendor of this place. But Vista House reopened just a few short weeks ago, on June 24, 2005.

You can find out more about the landmark
here and see past and contemporary photos as well. You can also learn more about Vista House from this Statesman Journal article for as long as the page remains publicly accessible. But if you aren't much for old buildings, what about this view?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Snow in July

We're having a heat wave here in the West, but our nearby mountains here in Oregon offer some cooling imagery.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Time to Californicate the Beaver State

Somehow before I left Salem I had the presence of mind to think there might be an opportunity to go to DMV during my day off and finish my dealing with them. So, I brought my checkbook and the documents I needed to prove I live where I live with me on my little journey to Eastern Oregon.

Today (Friday) I drove up to Pendleton to stop by one of the places I used to work about 13 years ago or so and see if anyone was still around I knew. I had a nice chat with a few of the folks who were still there from my days, including the new head honcho in my old department. And he caught me up on some of the gossip related to some of the personnel shifts that have been taking place. It's always fun to talk insider baseball.

And for an old displaced desert rat, the weather could not have been more perfect in Eastern Oregon today. It was sunny and hot, or what my friends back in Palm Springs would call warm. Hot is the 120 they got the other day. Here, it barely breached the triple-digits. According to one of the reader signs on one of the banks I passed in Pendleton, it was about 101 during the hottest part of the day, if the sign is to be believed. It didn't really feel that hot, except when I got in my truck after it had been parked for a while, and the stearing wheel was hovering somewhere in that state of matter between a solid and a liquid. And I think my nose may be branded from putting my sunglasses on after leaving their case unshaded in the front seat.

While I was in Pendleton, I decided to swing by the DMV office and see if I would have time to take my test for my Oregon license. I wasn't real optimistic, since it was about 3:30, and if you don't start taking the test by 4 p.m. they won't let you test in Oregon DMV offices.

But the office looked pretty quiet. I grabbed my little paper tab number from the dispenser and looked at it. Number 62. Then I looked overhead at the "now serving" sign, and it was on 58. Things were looking pretty good, unlike my last DMV experience in Salem.

In a matter of a few minutes, one of the DMV clerks handed two driver's licenses (or ID cards) to two partrons. They appeared to be moving right along. But after a several more minutes, hope began to fade. The two clerks serving patrons seemed to be in their own little DMV hell. A young couple, new to the area, was trying to get Oregon licenses. They were obviously together because they kept handing this young infant in its little car-seat carrier thing back and forth to one another, along with a diaper bag and other assorted infant paraphernalia. One clerk was helping each of them.

They young woman, who was about 19, had apparently had a complex life. Her birth certificate had one last name, but she either changed or started using another. And I speculated that she have recently changed her name again as part of this whole coupling situation.

The young man had no problem proving who he was to the clerk, but he was having major problems proving where he lived. He kept running out to the parking lot to retrieve one document or another out of his vehicle. DMV will accept mail addressed to you at an address as proof of residency, so the guy brought in a piece of mail. But he didn't have to envelope, which would prove that it had actually been mailed and would also have the postmark to establish a timeline.

So as this saga is playing out, I'm checking my watch every few minutes, then looking at the clock on the wall, then back to my watch, and wondering if I'm going to make the 4 p.m. cut off time. Not that it mattered too much, but I'd rather not it in a DMV office if I wasn't going to accomplish anything.

And after a few more attempts to straighten out this young couple's identity woes, two other clerks emerge from on office. One is obviously the manager. And the other a low level clerk who obviously doesn't want to do much more actual work so close to her quitting time.

In the end, the couple was turned away without getting what they came for, and the clerks start calling numbers. And my number is quickly called, a few minutes before 4 p.m. I swagger up to the counter because I brought not one, but three pieces of mail with my address on it, as well as my California driver's license and my social security card to prove I am who I am and live where I live.

So, I hand the clerk half a sawbuck and he takes me over to a computer terminal to take my test. I'm feeling a little cocky, because I aced my online practice test with not one wrong answer. And I'm whipping through the test pretty good and receiving immediate gratification with each "correct" flashed on the screen.

But then something goes wrong. I miss a question, something like how many feet before an intersection do you signal your turn. I'm off by 25 feet. Then I miss another question on the standing speed limit in a business district if there is not speed marked. I miss that one by 5 mph.

The number questions are tripping me up. I can feel the panic start to set in. I hate failing a test. Not that it would really matter. I would still have a valid driver's license, and I could study some more and take the test again. But it's a pride thing.

So, I trudge forward, and start getting a flurry of "correct" answers again. But then I miss a few more. Then suddenly I reach the end of the test. And I hold my breath as I wait for the results to come up. I passed, but barely. You have to get at least 80 percent to get a license, and I got an 82. Missing one or two more questions probably would have sacked me. I'm not proud of my score, but I accept it graciously.

I then get shuffled to another clerk this time. And after acting a little suspicious that I was a Californian who moved to Salem but came to Pendleton to take his test for his license. I explain that I'm in the area visiting family. I get a funny look, but I'm passed off to the clerk who seemed more interested in standing around that doing any actual work so she can give me my eye exam. Then it's back to clerk No. 2, who takes my California license, and more money, and sends me back to Lazy Chick, who then takes my picture.

Being the less than photogenic guy I am, she has to take two. The first one had some problem (probably largely because I was the guy in the frame, but she blames it on glare on my glasses). So she snaps another photo, and a few minutes later hands me my license.

So, I am officially an Oregonian again. The only major citizenship chore to complete now is voter registration, and then I can Californicate Oregon with my driving and my politics. Did you know in California, you don't have to be in the farthest right hand lane to make a right turn on a red light? Can't do that shit in Oregon. And in California, when you turn, right or left, at a light, you don't have to turn into the nearest lane (unless there are multiple turn lanes). Can't do that shit in Oregon either. I remembered that for my test, probably contributing to my now licensed status, but I sure hope I remember it while I'm on the road. I'd hate to have my license pulled before its schedule expiration in 2013.

Can you believe that? 2013? Eight years on a license. Eat your heart out Californians! I'm an Oregonian now! DMV says so!

So, the key to avoiding long waits at DMV is to go to some stagnating town in Eastern Oregon to get your license. I recommend Pendleton. It may be the county seat of Umatilla County, but it's dying on the vine, so you shouldn't have much of a wait for service. It may not be worth the 4-hour drive from Portland to get there, but if you happen to be passing through, bring your paperwork along.

OK, this post is getting long and it's late. But don't let me forget to tell you about the rest of the day's events, like running barelegged through a wheat field during harvest. I might even tell you about the bloody mess I found in my parent's garage and why I ended up having to dispose of the deceased and wash blood out of the back of my truck. That might have to wait until after I make my getaway out of Eastern Oregon though.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Off to Redneckville

I'm heading out to visit my family in my ol' cowpie stompin' grounds of Eastern Oregon.

Time to grab the shit kickers (cowboy boots for your urbanites), a cap and a can of Copenhagen and hit the road. Yea, I'm as big of a backward ass country fuck as the next hick, and sometimes proud of it (but I rarely admit that to my city slicker friends).

I may try to post from the depths of dial-up Internet hell.

And who says country folks aren't sophisticated?

Too hot to handle

Yes, I miss Palm Springs. And yes I even miss the summer heat. But with the mercury hitting a record 120 in the Coachella Valley on Wednesday, today I miss it just a bit less.

The forecast high for Salem today is 88-90, which would certainly make it the hottest day of the summer here so far -- and still 30 degrees cooler than 120!

Stay cool my desert friends.

I think I wet myself, again

I had two former employees get in touch with me on Wednesday to ask is they could use me as a reference.

Perhaps I should become a professional reference. I've always seemed to be better at helping other people get a job than I have been at getting jobs for myself. Perhaps that sounds odd, since I just started a new job myself. But I have always been more successful helping other people try to achieve their dreams than achieving my own.

But I take pride in being a teacher. Being a mentor. That's a pretty good gig and being a teacher of journalists, writers and photographers, is not always the easiest thing to do. People with an artistic temperament can be, well, temperamental.

I'm not sure I fit in the artistic category, but temperamental sure is tailor made. Not that I've been a hot-head lately, just lethargic and pessimistic. Perhaps that has shown in some of the blog posts. But I certainly haven't tackled the subject head on. I've been holding back, afraid to admit in black-and-white that I'm bored and unfulfilled.

For years I told myself I wanted to move back to the Northwest to be closer to my daughter, and I finally got an opportunity to do that. The job market isn't exactly sizzling here, and there aren't as many media outlets here as their are in California. Not as many as Southern California even. So, I'm fortunate to find something within an hour's drive of where my daughter lives.

I knew I was moving here for personal, not professional, reasons. Most of the job choices in my life were made to try to advance the career, or get experience to advance the career. And the family, and personal life, have suffered. So, this time I turned things on their head and made a professional choice for primarily personal reasons. And I'm flopping around like a fish out of water, ready to be wrapped up and taken home for someone's meal. The mouth keeps flapping, but there's no oxygen getting to the gills.

I've been trying to tell myself that everything is fine and I'm liking my situation. But telltale signs of stress are popping up. Drinking too much. A pinched nerve in the shoulder blade. Insomnia is coming back.

I am certainly seeing my daughter more, but it's not really quality time, like it has been in years past on my vacations. It's just time. Although, if I were honest with myself, the feeling I feel now after leaving her isn't a whole lot different that it has been after vacation visits. There's a sadness and emptiness there. So, maybe it's not so different after all. And yea, I know it's going to take some time. Yea, I know Rome wasn't built in a day and I know I can't erase 14 years of being apart in a few short weeks.

I'm just tired of feeling like this. I'm tired of feeling like the new kid at school, where everyone else knows the layout of the school, the routine and each other. It's second grade all over again.

A 7 year-old boy walks into Mrs. Harrison's second grade classroom, and feels the eyes of 20-plus kids turning, staring. If only he could melt into the floor. He's assigned to an empty desk, but it doesn't fit. He doesn't fit. The desk is too big. He is too small. His feet dangle above the floor and he can only reach solid ground by scrunching down in the seat and extending his toes.

At recess he cowers in the corner of the playground, wanting to be asked to play with the other kids and afraid to be approached at the same time. He fidgets, because he has to go to the bathroom, but doesn't know where it is, and doesn't know who -- or how -- to ask. And then it's too late. The telltale wet spot stains the front of his Toughskins. He walks up to the teacher to ask for help, but no words will come out of his mouth, only sobs exploding from his tiny chest.

The scared little boy eventually found a way to fit in. It wasn't a tailored fit, but not too bad for the off-the-rack world.

Maybe all I need is a new pair of Toughskins. And a clean pair of underwear.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Appreciating the simple things

They say it's important to stop and smell the roses. Well sometimes roses aren't available, but that doesn't mean there aren't pretty things, fragrant flowers, around to appreciate and enjoy.

Over the weekend, I spent a day on a tour of rural Washington County. It's part of an annual tour by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce. We got to see some pretty country on the fringes of Oregon's largest metropolitan area.

On one of my online profiles somewhere along the line I used to describe myself as a country boy with a taste for city things, or something like that. I thought it sounded clever. But it's true. I grew up out in the country, where our nearest neighbor was about a half mile away, and the next one about a mile away. It was 15 miles to the town where we got groceries and it was about 12-13 miles to the other, small town where I went to school.

I wasn't as major or good with my hands as the other farm boys who were my friends and peers in school. I wasn't a jock, but the jocks let me hang around. In our school, which was very small, everyone got along on some level or another. But I didn't quite fit in.

In the years since, I've gone off to college, and lived in a variety of small towns before ending up in more urban areas for most of the last decade. Now, I live in the state capitol. I like the access to amenities. But I don't know that I really fit in here either. This weekend I found myself coveting those country roads and rolling hills covered with pastures and berry patches and wheat fields and orchards. And I found it sad to see the cities encroaching on the rural landscape.
On the outskirts of the town of Sherwood there was a development of new, large, multi-story $300,000-plus homes butting up against the edge of the city. The homes were so close together it looked like you touch stand with your hand touching one house and reach the wall of the neighboring house. It was like the houses, like an invading army, were marching into the countryside, wiping out the farms in their path.

But on that frontier, there is beauty, like the flowers of a garden, or a nesting pair of bald eagles and their fledgling making their home on the fringe of a reclaimed landfill that now served as a wastewater treatment facility and
wetlands preserve inside the city limits of Hillsboro.

It felt good to spend the day in the country, where vegetation isn't just landscaping.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Only in my dreams

There is something about being back in Oregon. It's affecting my dreams. I've been dreaming about people I haven't seen or heard from in years.

Last night I dreamt about an old friend and his sister. The friend and I have lost touch over the years, and I haven't seen his sister in probably 10 years or more.

I also dreamt about a female high school classmate. I'm not sure why, but she was wearing very little clothing in the dream. We never dated or anything, and I don't ever even remember having a crush on her or anything, but their she was in the dream, being all flirty and seductive, with a ripped body that made it look like maybe she had been working out every second of the day graduation.

I guess dreams don't have to make sense. Life makes little enough sense as it is, why should dreams be logical.

Well, I'm off to see if I can find dreamland again to see who's starring in tonight's nocturnal production.

Friday, July 08, 2005

You may be a winner

OK, for all of you wanting the 4-1-1 on the 5,000th visitor to Digital Fishwrap, here's what I can tell ya.

I don't know who the visitor was or their blogging monicker, but I do know this. They are based here on the West Coast (or their ISP is), and popped by just before 7:30 a.m. PDT.

They checked out two pages on the site.

Those are about the highlights, unless you want to know the resolution of their computer monitor or what version of JavaScript they run (why the counter collects that information, I don't know).

Thursday, July 07, 2005


While much of the world was following, to a greater or lesser extent, the news of terrorist bombings in London, I was taking an extended lunch break and waiting for my number to be called at the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles.

Is there any state out there where a trip to the DMV is not dreaded? I remember when I moved to California, a Californian gave me a tip about how to deal with the DMV. Never just show up and wait in line. Call and make an appointment. It worked pretty slick, and my only times at DMV counters in California, to register my car and get my driver's license, were relatively painless. OK, so they were also more than a decade ago, so maybe my memory is giving the California DMV experiences more credit than they deserve. And there was certainly sticker shock at how much I had to pay to register my car. That was not a pleasant experience. But I didn't have to wait a long period of time to pay the state of California big bucks. And the only other times I went to California DMV offices was to pick up, or drop off, forms and get the hell outta there.

Today I was back at a good old Oregon DMV office. I wasn't expecting an ungodly wait. When I stopped in there a week or so ago to pick up some paperwork and a driver's manual, the line didn't seem to bad. But today, when I stopped in after lunch, the line was almost out the door. They had a person working a little triage booth inside the entrance to direct people to which line they needed to stand in and to hand out forms, and little numbers, so we could each wait our turn.

My number: 71.

The number the counterworker just called: 25.

I took my paperwork and made my way over to the chairs to wait. For 45 more people to be helped.

I should have brought a book. I should have brought my driver's manual. At least I could study for the driver's test so I could make sure I only have to make one more trip to DMV.

Fortunately for me, people don't seem to have a lot of patience, or time, and a lot of people had left long before their numbers were called. The clerks were blazing through numbers 3 and 4 at a time before someone would respond and walk up to the counter. So my wait was not as protracted as I had feared. And I walked out with a new set of Oregon license plates for the truck.

Oregon and California DMVs work different in other ways too. I think I got my first set of California license plates at the DMV office the day I registered my car, but my driver's license I had to wait for, as they send that through the mail. All licenses are issued out of Sacramento. Of course they confiscated my Oregon driver's license at the same time, so for what seemed like an eternity, I had no photo ID, which was much more traumatic when I was in my 20s and still occasionally carded at bars or buying alcohol. Now, it probably wouldn't matter much. Although I have had to show my drivers license a few times lately in setting up accounts, getting my apartment and such. But here in Oregon the DMV hands you your license before you leave the office.

I find myself wanting to mix and match the benefits of Oregon and California to suit my likes and dislikes. Oregon's closeness to family with California's closeness to friends. Oregon's cost of living with California's pay scale. Oregon's scenic beauty, melded with California's sunshine and blue skies. Oregon's housing prices, with California's self-service gas. Oregon's all-nude strip clubs and California's ability to buy liquor at the grocery store.

If I think of others I'll try to remember to post them later in another entry in my ideal state, Californegon. Or would that be Oregfornia?

And before I close, I will note that sometime in the next 24 hours, this site is likely to welcome it's 5,000th visitor since about January 5 of this year. I've revised the site counter so lucky No. 5,000 will know who they are. I won't likely be able to tell who that person is, (although I've figured out who a few of you are by how you access the site), but if he or she chooses to self-identify, that would be great. Maybe we'll even come up with some sort of prize like we did for the 3,000th visitor, which was never claimed.

Who's watching?

This whole working days things is really cutting into my blogging time. My best rants and rambles generally come in the middle of the night, or they used to anyway.

If I could just figure out how to write blog posts in my sleep. They probably wouldn't make much sense, but does that even matter?

There are certainly some things I have no interest in doing in the name of blogging or attracting traffic to this site, like getting arrested. But one guy who has been in the news a lot here in the Northwest has been attracting a buttload of traffic and comments to his site, even though he hasn't made a post in over a month.

According to a
story on the Web site, a blog site that allegedly belongs to a man arrested for kidnapping a girl and who is a suspect in kidnapping the girl's brother and multiple murders has been drawing a lot of attention.

The site allegedly belongs to Joseph Duncan, who was arrested over the weekend when he was stopped at a diner with the girl who had been missing for more than a month. I won't link to the guy's blog here, but you can find the link on the story if you want to see his site, and people's reactions, for yourself.

The reactions, presumably from people who know a thing or two about blogs, stuck me as quite interesting. Some people seemed surprised that the government wasn't monitoring this guy's blog and could have possibly prevented the murders and kidnappings.

That strikes me as odd because do we really want the government monitoring everyone's blogs? I know, maybe we should all agree to put up Web cams too, so the government can watch what we do all day in the privacy of our homes and offices. Or are people no longer creeped out by the Orwellian implications of that now that 1984 has come and gone?

There is an odd thing about crime and law enforcement. Police generally can't arrest people for thinking about committing a crime. Most crimes aren't crimes until they are committed. And, yes this guy was a convicted sex offender, and yes many people think sex offenders should be locked up for life. Unfortunately, most of our jail space is used to house drug users and drug dealers, so we would have to change laws and society's priorities to affect that kind of change. Cops can't do that on their own.

I for one, don't want or need the thought police around, thank you very much. You can't have freedom of speech if there is no freedom of thought. The thoughts listed on the blog attributed to Duncan are dark and disturbing. But some of the comments people have been posting since his arrest are equally disturbing.

We do not live in a society without risks. Quite the contrary, a free society can, and should, have lots of risks. Parent want to protect our children, but how many of our and our children's freedoms are we willing to turn over to the state for some sort of false sense of security?

We have been reminded a lot since Sept. 11 that freedom is not free, but that is mostly mentioned in context with our military troops fighting in the "War Against Terror." Well, it is true. Freedom is not free. But we all pay a price for our freedoms. There are risks to living in America and being an American. There are risks to living, period. By living we risk pain. We risk death.

I'm willing to take those risks. I'm willing to let my daughter take those risks, and my family and my friends. I'm willing to do that, because I am not willing to let the government, or my neighbors, make those life decisions for me or my family. I want the freedom to choose. The atrocities committed by leaders in positions of government power are far more heinous than the acts of individuals bent on committing a crime.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Back to work

I hope everyone had a great weekend, all restful and patriotic. Personally, I want to kill the neighbors that were lighting fireworks until all hours. Remind me to send a thank you letter to the city of Palm Springs, which had banned fireworks in the city limits. I never realized how much sleep I wasn't missing due to living in a city that didn't allow fireworks. But I know now that I live in a city that does allow fireworks. Although some of the stuff I heard last night could not have been legal. Some of the pyrotechnics sounded more like small bombs than safe-and-sane fireworks.

And if you are wondering, after my last downer post, I'm doing better. I'd rather play hooky from work, but then I have nothing in particular I want to do, so I might as well go to work.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

War for Independence

I woke up in a funk this morning and I just can't shake it. Actually, the funk has been building for a while, but today it seems worse. I'm not sure why.

Check that. I know why. I had a dream last night. About the ex. I haven't seen the woman in more than 10 months. I have only heard from her once in the last 7 months. And now I live in a city where we had no shared history, had spent no time, and yet I keep tripping over memories of her.

How can that be?

Now she' mocking me in my dreams. In the dream we were talking. I was telling her that I had moved and that I was hoping to buy a house. She had bought a house, but she laughed at the notion that I might buy one.

In the waking world I've been wondering if I should tell her that I had moved. I had no plans to, but the thought keeps popping into my head. Maybe my brain is just making excuses for a reason to get in touch. To make sure she knows where I am. I don't know.

I've been trying hard to model my post-breakup behavior based on what women seem to do much better than I have ever been able to master. Women seem to be able to move on much better than men. I don't know if they ever think about their exes or not, or ever wonder where they are or what they are doing, but women do a better job of walking off and not looking back. Or at least they seem to be better at it. Perhaps women learned that lesson after Lot's wife looked back on the destruction of Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt. Maybe women don't want to make the same mistake their sister did, and just leave the destruction in their wake without a second look.

I'm trying to get better at it as well. And maybe, the key is not to get these thoughts and feelings out of my head, but not to act on them. Not to let them turn my head. I don't know.

I threw out a lot of stuff when I moved, including a couple of house plants, one of which I had had for probably almost 10 years, maybe more. But I kept this little "lucky bamboo" plant, which is now the only plant I have left. I didn't think much about why I kept that one, except it was bought as a replacement for another plant like it that my daughter and her grandmother bought for me several years ago. The ex killed that one. Before I moved into her place, she had no plants in her place. She had a knack for killing plants. But I was able to keep two plants alive throughout the relationship. And I kept the replacement bamboo plant alive too.

But I think maybe it's time to quit nurturing that little plant, which has lived longer than the relationship ever did. I don't know that letting it go will have any corresponding relationship to letting some memories go, but I do feel like I need to do something to exorcise the demons.

I thought that getting past the one-year anniversary of the breakup last month, and a move to a new place would finally put her memories behind me. But the reality is, it has gotten worse, not better. Before I moved, I could go days without confronting a thought or memory of her. Now, her name springs to mind several times a day.

For a while I thought maybe writing to her to tell her I moved might help get the thought of her out of my head. There would be no need to think about writing to her if I already did it, right?

I'm sure a lot of this is exacerbated by moving to a new place, starting a new job and knowing no one in my new city. My mind is grasping for things familiar, known. I'm trying to find me in a new place where I'm alone, and frankly pretty lonely.

Tomorrow is July 4th. America's Independence Day. I long for my own independence. But maybe there is a lesson for me to to learn from the story of America's history.

Colonist declared their independence from England on July 4, 1776, but that did not make America free from English rule. The Revolutionary War itself did not end until Sept. 3, 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed, recognizing the United States of America as a nation unto itself.

So, declaring independence is one thing. Truly winning it is something else entirely.

I guess I'm still fighting my war for independence. I just hope this fight doesn't take another 6 years to resolve.

Friday, July 01, 2005

New look Fishwrap

Well, I guess it was time.

I replaced the photos on the header and profile on the ol' Fishwrap site. I was quite fold of the old photos featuring a palm tree against a background of blue sky and snow-capped mountains.

However, the photos, while still pretty, looked a little funny for an Oregon blog. So, today, after work, I decided to go on an expedition for a couple of new photos to give the ol' blog a more Oregon look. A more Salem look.

It was a beautiful day to go for a walk in downtown Salem. So, I spent about an hour roaming around the Capitol Mall area, camera in hand. I figured if nothing else these photos will show family and friends that yes, indeed, the sun does come out once in a while in this rain forest locale.

I haven't been to the steps of the Capitol since I was in college. And even then, I didn't wander around in the area near the statehouse.

By the way, the photo at the top of this post shows a grassy area in front of the Capital Building, which looks like a part. And it is, but underneath that vast expanse of greenery is an underground parking garage. Pretty cool, huh? Who wouldn't rather look at grass, flowers and trees than a bunch of parked cars?

Blogging news

Chalk another one up for bloggers. I discovered the breaking news this morning about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation from the nation's highest court, not from TV or radio or even a traditional media Web site, but from a blog post.

I was taking a quick scan of the
ORblogs site, when I learned the news. The site features a summary of blog headlines, at it was the one from Persistent Illusion in which I learned the news.

Of course, as soon as I got to work, I turned to more conventional media sites to find out the details. We bloggers are cool and all, but on things like this, bloggers are mostly parroting back information they got elsewhere. I haven't completely abandoned conventional media for the blogosphere, but the blog universe is a lot more fun.

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