Friday, September 30, 2005

More time well wasted

Here it is the weekend again and I realized I still haven't told you about the other excitement of last weekend (besides the wedding I attended). Remember that concert I was so excited about? Well, it was last Friday.

And I actually had a date for the show.

Shocking I know, but it's true.

So, maybe I should document that momentous occassion on the ol' Fishwrap. Who knows when that might happen again.

Maybe this weekend. If I can fit it in my social calendar. I'll provide details of the weekend I mean. Not have another date. Lord, that would be a sign that the world had shifted completely off its axis, a date two weekends in a row.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The evidence

OK, I know my post about the weird disease plaguing trees here in Salem may have seemed a little far fetch. You are skeptics, and I can understand that. So, I decided I needed to provide proof. Photographic evidence.

The photo here is completely unretouched. It hasn't been tampered with in any way. Just downloaded straight from the camera. I didn't even do any color correction. I merely resized it for viewing online.

You may note in the photo that there are some leaves that are still green, but the red-leaf disease is attacking even those leaves from the outside edges inward. I admire that little green patch for fighting off the invasion, but alas I fear it is a lost cause.

I noticed more dead leaf soldiers littering the ground today. The bed of my truck had several rotting corpses in it as well.

Alas, photosynthesis has ended.

This may be a plot to rob the Willamette Valley of vital oxygen.

I stopped at the newsstand and bought copies of the Salem Statesman Journal* and the Oregonian today. Still no stories on this plague. KGW Channel 8 didn't have anything on this scourge on the evening news either. Apparently Dumsters on sidewalks in Portland was a bigger story than scads of trees seemingly dying for no reason.

We never had such a thing in Palm Springs. Oh sure, sometimes the fronds on the palm trees would wither and die, giving the trees a distinctive bushy skirt (unless of course they were hacked off by landscapers). But they stubbornly hung on until blown off in high winds or torched off by flames if they got too close to powerlines. And even then the older dying fronds were replaces by new, young, vibrant growth.

I saw no signs of new growth on the infected trees.

Toto, I don't think we are in the desert anymore.

The investigation continues. More updates may be coming as warranted. Unless... the tree killer tracks me down and uses some devious or violent means to silence me.

* Update (7:07 a.m.) OK, so the Statesman Journal ruined my rant about a media conspiracy and had a story this morning about fall foliage. Killjoys.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Let's do the time warp again

It was the highlight of many a weekend in our small community – the dance. An old exhibit hall at the Umatilla County fairgrounds was our equivalent of an under-age club or dance hall.

The corrugated metal building wasn’t much to look at on the outside, but on the inside – with the music pulsing and the only illumination coming from the reflection off the disco ball and an array of colored lights and throbbing strobe – magic happened.

Or it seemed like magic to a geeky kid high on adolescent hormones and endorphins.

It wasn’t that I was some Eastern Oregon Denny Terrio or something. Far from it. It’s just that that’s where the girls were, at those Thompson Hall dances.

I don’t remember the names, or faces, of the girls I was fortunate enough to dance with. And if truth be told, most of the times I danced it was probably because a girl asked me. I was painfully shy, and terribly afraid of rejection. Still am. I’ve always placed too much importance on such events.

And back there, somewhere in the darkness, was the DJ, spinning the records that made toes tap, hearts race and hormones rage. The music man, DB, played the songs that got the kids rockin’ and grooving, everything from AC/DC to the BeeGees, Black Sabbath to Cheap Trick, and Pat Benatar to Blondie. And he played the slow songs that allowed you to hold a member of the opposite sex close, mashing and swaying to REO Speedwagon, Journey, ABBA and Air Supply.

I hadn’t thought about those dances in years. The memories were lost in the vague half light smoke of a time long passed, like music on vinyl, square-bottomed knit ties and parachute pants.

But the memories came rolling back over the weekend at a winery in Forest Grove. Maybe that’s because I was at a wedding for a guy – S – who lived just a couple of miles down the road from me when I was in high school. So, as country folk, we were practically nextdoor neighbors.

S was several years younger than I was, but one of his stepbrothers, A, and I had been close friends, best friends, since second grade. That close friendship continued clear through college, where we spent several of our years there as roommates while seeking intellectual enlightenment, co-eds and beer. I ran into A’s dad, stepmom and two of his stepsisters the weekend before when I was back in Eastern Oregon for the Pendleton Round-Up. They invited me to the wedding.

They told me A would be there, and since I hadn’t seen him in years, I thought it would be nice to see how my former best friend was doing now. But it was also an opportunity to see another of A’s stepsisters, S’s sister M and husband B and their two daughters, whom I got
reacquainted with during my last year in Palm Springs.

The wedding was nice and simple, on a hill overlooking the vineyard. And afterward, we all gathered for the outdoor reception. At one point my old friend, A, turns to me and says: “Do you know who that is providing the music?”

Of course I had no clue.

“That’s DB. Remember DB? He used to do the music for all those Thompson Hall dances.”

Sure enough, there hung a banner with DB’s name and the name of his company. And there was DB, looking like he stepped right out of 1980, with hair and mustache appropriate for that post-disco era.

And as the sun set and the music played, it would be easy to mistake the date for a time 20 years earlier by the selection of songs coming through the speakers and the disco ball hanging up over a corner of the makeshift dance floor.

And there he was, that damn timid geek again, standing off in a corner, looking longingly at the dance floor and too afraid to ask anyone to dance. I thought I'd ditched that little pimple-face prick, who used to be me, years ago, and I completely blame his unwanted reappearance for the zits that seem to have attacked my neck that last few days.

Fortunately the groom’s sisters, L and M, periodically took pity on me and pulled me out onto the dance floor. Grooving to the oldies and dancing like it was it was 1982 all over again. Except I had on a sport jacket, not that brown leather Member's Only-style jacket I though was so cool for so long. And the Levi’s 501s had been replaced by dress slacks. And the tie was silk, not one of those damn knit square-bottom jobs.

But the music was the same. The DJ was the same. Only the location, hairstyles and wastelines had changed.

Tree disease being ignored by Oregon media

Something weird is going on, but the local media are ignoring it.

I think there is some weird sickness infecting trees all over Salem and throughout the Willamette Valley. So, I'm turning to the blogosphere for answers.

What could possibly cause the leaves of trees to change from vibrant green to brilliant red and then die and fall to the ground? It's happening all over the place. On some trees, the leaves are turning a golden color. And the ground is starting to become littered with dead foliage.

And it's getting damn cold at night too! What's that all about?

Gone are the 80-degree days, and yet people keep commenting about the weather and professing their affection for "fall."

Someone really needs to look into this. I think there is a grand conspiracy out there to kill off trees in the Willamette Valley or some highly contagious arbor disease going around.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Tickle, tickle, tickle

I went in to work today and found out that several people in the office called in sick on Friday. I was off playing hooky myself, taking some time off after working the previous weekend.

I'd been home for hours when I felt a little tickle in my nose, and a sneeze snuck up on me. That tickle is the feeling I often experience when a cold is coming on.

I hope that tickle was a false alarm. I don't want to be sick. I hate being sick.

Of course if I were smart, I'd be in bed right now, making sure I am getting plenty of rest.

There has never been sufficient proof that I'm overly bright. My last post should prove that. That and the fact that I'm still typing this post straight into Blogger rather then in another text editing program.

But it's just a short post.

And it was just a little tickle. And a little sneeze.

When will I ever learn?

How many blog posts do I have to lose before I start writing them in some other software and them posting them on here?

Well, apparently I had not yet learned my lesson, because I just spent the last hour working on a post from the events of this weekend and lost it as soon as I hit publish.

Poof. Gone.

Well, I've already stayed up too late, and I'm not going to try to recreate it now.

I'm not sure whether to be more pissed at Blogger or myself, but I think I have the edge at the moment.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Do you think these guys vote?

The story starts off like a opening line of a joke, but there's nothing funny about it.

Four guys are sitting at a bar talking politics. The men at the small Eastern Oregon watering hole are talking about President Bush's nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

One man said he didn't know a court outsider could be appointed chief justice. He thought one of the existing justices had to move to take that job.

Another of the quartet said, "I think one of them that's on there should move up."

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that these rural blue collar workers were interested in current affairs, so I listened in on their conversation. It was the next man's comments that took me aback.

The man interjects: "You don't want that nigger."

I was stunned. I haven't heard a white man use that work in a public place in a long time, particularly one who didn't even bother to speak in hushed tones. As I sit their trying to pick my jaw up off the bar, the man goes on.

"Look what happened in New Orleans," the bigot said, referring to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and specifically New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, "with a nigger in charge."

The three men sitting with the man laughed.

There it was. The N-word, thrown right out there on the bar.

I was stunned, to say the least.

My heart sank even lower when a few minutes later my brother walked into the bar and greeting those same men at the corner of the bar. I was soon to learn my brother works with two of the men, two of the laughers, not the epithet spitter, not that it matters much.

I couldn't believe that the N-word could be tossed around so casually in my old hometown. It shouldn't have shocked me probably, since that's the same place I heard that word for the first time. But I had hoped the passage of time and societal enlightenment had come to my home town while I was away. Perhaps that was too much to hope for.

To add to the shock, a couple of days later I had the privilege to be introduced to the owner of the restaurant and bar by my brother. I wondered if the owner, and African American man knew his white patrons were tossing around the N-word, making fun of blacks in positions of leadership, when the proprietor was not around.

I hope the bar owner gets rich off the bigoted fucks, and they end up drunk and destitute on a street corner someday. Someday soon.

Back home from home

I got back home to Salem yesterday evening only to discover that I lost my USB cable for my digital camera and that my computer monitor had not somehow magically healed itself while I was gone. So, after a short stop at the house, I made a which run to the store to pick up a card reader and a new monitor.

Like I needed that expense.

So, anyway, I'm back home, and today it's back to working in the office, after spending the last several days not being tied to a desk.

Of course, today I still have quite a bit of writing to do to convert all those hand-scrawled notes into something usable from my employer. I will try to convent some of those notes and personal observations on the Pendleton Round-Up into some posts for here too. It was bitter sweet to be in my old stomping grounds. I saw a few familiar faces and the hospitality that makes me proud of the area where I grew up. And sadly I witness some old-fashioned narrow mindedness that makes me sad and ashamed of my heritage.

But it's good to be home and sleeping in my own bed. Although it's frickin' cold in the house. I'm tempted to turn on the heat. It's only 44 degrees outside. I think it's going to be a long winter.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

It's all over but the shouting

PENDLETON, Ore. -- Somehow, I am able to piggyback today on someone's wireless connection, after only being about the dial out on AOL earlier this week from the Pendleton Round-Up. So, I thought I would take advantage of the better connectivity to pop in and say hi.

The roping and riding is all done here in Pendleton. Another rodeo in the books. All that's left for cowboys and cowgirls to do is to kick up their heals on a Saturday night in Round-Up City.

I may kick up my heals a little tonight as well. After all, how often does a guy get to wear a big belt buckle, a pair of dusty boots, and a sweatstained cowboy hat without looking out of place?

I even have a picture of me in my hat. Not that I'll show you crazy people.

Anyway, there is some Pendleton Whisky (yes, it's a Canadian whisky, thus the funny spelling) on the cabinet about 5 feet away. I think it's calling my name.

There's just one more night to Let'er Buck, and then it's back to the barn in Salem.

I've got some driving and writing for work to do tomorrow, but I may try to pop on and make a post if possible. I hope you are all having fun and doing a little buckle polishing of your own.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Let 'er Buck

In the Northwest, the second full week in September means more than the week that follows Labor Day, or the last full week of summer. It means it's Round-Up time. Pendleton Round-Up.

Of those of you who don't know what that is, and at its heart, the Pendleton Round-Up is a rodeo. But more accurately, it is perhaps best described as a late summer West Coast red neck Mardi Gras, known as much for its drunken carousing and wild escapades as it is for rough men attempting to ride and rope even rougher animals. The event's slogan is Let 'er Buck, and over a span of 4 to 7 days, that little phrase can have about any connotation your rodeo lovin' or lecherous and lascivious mind can come up with.

My employer is sending me off toe the Round-Up where I'll be working. Really. I will. Well, at least part of the time at least. I too hope to take in some of the more recreational aspects of the event which is hosted by a little town of about 16-17,000 people in the middle of wheat country that swells to nearly three times its normal size for a few days each September.

And if possible, and sober enough, I will try to pop in on the Fishwrap and make a few posts here as well.

Anyway, I better get packing. I have some chores to do and about a 4-hour drive ahead of me. And a little mourning to do about the impending demise of my computer monitor and the dent that will put in my finances. I'm a little tired, and not sure if I will make the drive tonight, or get one final night's sleep in my own bed before heading to Round-Up City. One thing's for sure. Before I'm ready for any bucking, I'm really gonna need a nap.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

End of the end

There is some small comfort in knowing I'm not crazy.

I got a phone call from an old friend from Palm Springs. We talked about a lot of things, including her relationship with her boyfriend. He is preparing to move in with her, and they have been talking about the possibility of getting married. I'm very happy for her and can't think of a more deserving person for some life and relationship happiness.

In the course of the conversation we got to talking about jobs. I can't remember how we got on the conversation. I mentioned that I still something look at job openings on a trade Web site. I told her I could have sworn I saw my ex's job posted on there. My friend got very quiet and said.

"That's possible."

She paused again and said: "Do you want to know?"

"I don't know, do I?"

"No, probably not."

So we moved on to other topics and talked for a while longer. But before we wrapped up the conversation, I confessed that I needed to know why the ex's job might be listed.

It seems that she is moving to a city in the Midwest to follow a man. The same man who also left California about a year ago to take a job in the Southeast. The same man who rode across the country with her on that trip.

I was a little slow last year to pick up on the fact that there may be another man involved, and a little slow to figure out the coincidences that the ex and the guy, who I didn't think really knew each other very well were suddenly going to spend several days driving across the country. But I never asked her about him. I'm not sure I wanted confirmation back then. But I knew. I just didn't seek out the proof.

So now, a year later, I have independent confirmation. Bless my friend for trying to protect me all these month. She was in a tough spot, being a mutual friend to my ex and me.

So, I guess it's good to know I wasn't just crazy or paranoid. I don't know if it makes the way things ended any better or worse.

Mostly I hope this is a sign of the end of a very long ending. All the significant first year "anniversaries" are past. The anniversary of our engagement, our wedding date that never happened, the anniversary of her sister's wedding, the date of our breakup, her birthday, the date she moved. T
here will be one less reason to worry when hurricanes threaten Florida. And one big realization that the woman I loved didn't, in the end, respect me enough to be honest with me.

On this, the anniversary of 9/11, it is my sincere desire to take a little more time looking back, remembering people and things lost, and then get on with the business of moving forward.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

A perhaps brief return from exile

I haven't made a post here in more than a week. I wish I could say I've just been busy. But the truth is I've been, well, disengaged. This just hasn't seemed very important.

It's not like there haven't been things I've thought about posting about, like the morning I discovered on my way to work that a SWAT team was a few doors down in my apartment complex, guns drawn and looking all militaristic. Although, that wouldn't have been a very interesting post because I never found out what all the commotion was about.

I also learned this week that one of my friends from Eastern Oregon, one of the few people from home I've seen since I moved back to Oregon, was deployed with the National Guard this week to help with hurricane relief. I tried calling his cell phone because he was supposed to be here in Salem for a few days before being shipped out, but I go a busy signal on his cell phone.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have friends and people who nearly became part of my family living in Hurricane Alley. Most of them are in Florida and have been spared the wrath of Hurricane Katrina. But then this past week Hurricane Ophelia was lingering off the east coast of Florida, dropping rain all over the area I visited in the spring of 2004, where my ex's sister and nieces live. It was just hanging off the coast parallel to the city where my ex moved.

I was doing pretty good for a while, not thinking about my ex, but her birthday was in late August and then all this hurricane business. And yesterday I saw a job posting on the Internet for a job that looks to be the one she took almost exactly a year ago when she moved back to Florida after our break up. So, yea, she's been on my mind, so much so that I woke up this morning dreaming about her moving away again.

I don't know if women spend much if any mental energy thinking about past loves, lovers, boyfriends or whatever after a relationship ends. They seem, as a gender, much more adept at walking away than men are, or certainly than I have ever been.

I can honestly say I don't want my ex back. And for many, many months after our break up I would have taken her back in a heartbeat, no question asked, no hesitation. But that does not mean I don't care about what happens to her or her family. There are people I was ready, eager even, to make part of my family. And the ex was already more deeply interwoven into my life than I imagined or could understand at the time. It was only once I realized that was all gone and not coming back that I knew I had quit being and I and had become a we.

It took quite a while to get back to thinking and being singular again. And in recent weeks I've admitted to myself, a few people close to me, and I think even to readers of this blog that I am ready to now open myself up to the prospects of a new relationship again. So why do thoughts and worries and wondering about my ex and her family make themselves so stubbornly prevalent now?

I sent an e-mail last weekend to my ex's stepdad. I just wanted him to know I was thinking about him and his family. He was kind enough to write back and filled in a few details of happenings with his family over the last year. He didn't offer any information on my ex, except to make it clear that she was well. And I didn't ask. He and I grew fairly close in a few short visits in a fairly short period of time. It seems so unfortunate that we can't still be friends.

So, anyway, I'm sorry I haven't been around much to make posts or read your blogs for that matter. And next week about midweek I'm heading to Eastern Oregon for a business trip. I'll be attending the world famous
Pendleton Round-Up for work. It's a rough gig, I know, but someone has to do it.

The Round-Up is a rodeo, for those of you not familiar with it. But as much as anything it is an excuse for a big-ass party. So I play to work a little, and hopefully, party a little as well. I'm hoping to run into some old friends while there.

I am taking a company computer along, so perhaps there will be opportunities to make some posts. But I make no promises.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Basic necessities

So, when you can't sleep and you can't blog, what do you do? In my case I watch cable TV and play Monopoly at

I was thinking a lot today about the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Things sound like they are getting pretty desperate in the gulf region devastated by the hurricane, particularly in New Orleans.

I have no desire to belittle the tragedy, so please, I hope no one takes it that way. But I am stunned by how the world for the survivors of that tragedy has changes in just a few days. All our modern conveniences don't mean shit right now. Fuck cell phones and pagers and computers and DVD players and cable TV and, well, frankly anything that runs on electricity or needs gasoline to operate. In the blink of an eye the clock has rolled back more than a century in time. It is Darwinian survival of the fittest.

People who survived the storm are dying in the streets and in attics and in rescue shelters. Our society has gotten so soft that we can't get by without air conditioning and refrigeration and electricity. Live is prolonged by modern science, medicine and other conveniences that we have all come to take for granted. I'm not sure I could survive in the post apocalyptic world the unfortunate citizens of New Orleans and other Gulf communities now find themselves in.

Fuck the ATM, people need to know how to hunt and gather and find water and shelter in a place where all such things are in short supply and mobs rule the streets.

In a strange way, I admire the people who are doing the unthinkable just to survive another day. God bless those people and may the cavalry arrive to carry them to safety as quickly and efficiently as possible.

It was not so long ago that I had never been east of the Mississippi River. But in the last few years I had the great fortune to visit Georgia, Tennessee and Florida and meet some wonderful people. I have also had several friend and coworkers from my last few jobs relocate to jobs in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and the Gulf region.

For the last few years the threat and reality of hurricanes has meant much more to me than the ever have earlier in my life, in no small part because I have friends who now live in harm's way each hurricane season. And the hurricane seasons of last year and this year have been so frightening and devastating.

My heart aches for my friends, and those who nearly became part of my family, and the talented former coworkers and colleagues who are far too close to this devastation. I miss them all and my heart aches for them, their families, and for those in and around the most severe devastation. May you find the comforts we all take for granted very soon: the comfort of friends and loved ones, a safe place to sleep, food to eat and water to drink.

And may the rest of us never take for granted those simple things, usually so easy to find, which can mean life or death when they are not so readily at hand.

The End Debt Daily