Friday, December 30, 2005


Thankfully, it's Friday, but I'm not looking forward to this holiday weekend as much as usual.

New Year's Day has long been my favorite holiday. I can tend to be a bit of a pessimist, but I love the start of a new year because it is filled with so much optimist and hope. It's the one time of the year that I have had a chance to screw things up yet.

Well, except this year I have no plans for celebrating the new year. So if anyone has any suggestions I could use then. I'm not so good at solo planning. And the friends I'm most accustomed to celebrating a new year with are many miles away.

What the hell is there to do in Salem on New Year's Eve?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Nicotine dreams

Several weeks back, I said I was trying to give up my nicotine habit -- chewing tobacco -- and I said I intended to chronicle the process of ditching the dip. I haven't done a very good job of that.
Part of my reason, or excuse, for this is that the cravings haven't really been that bad. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms have been mitigated by my decision to use nicotine gum to wean myself off of the Copenhagen habit I've labored under for about 22 years.

But lately, I've taken a bit of a step backward. No, I haven't put a pinch between my cheek and gum for that pure tobacco pleasure former snuff pitchman and former Dallas Cowboy running back Walt Garrison used to espouse back in the days when they still showed tobacco commercials on TV. No, I've been periodically buying -- and worse smoking -- cigarettes.

I certainly have no desire to give up one tobacco habit for another. And I will not allow myself to become a smoker. But during my trip to Vegas I often smoked while playing cards or slots at the casinos. And since I've been home, I've also been smoking, particularly while driving.

So today I decided, as I watched another pack of cigarettes dwindling down to a finally 2 smokes, that I was not going to buy another pack. Yea, I may go through more gum, which is more expensive, for a while, but the smoking is not acceptable to me.

Yes, I am still vexed by cravings. Not the kind that signal full-scale withdrawal, but cravings none the less. Anyone who has smoked or suffered nicotine addition would probably notice the pattern of the most intense cravings.

First thing in the morning -- Can't start the day without nicotine. It gets the blood pumping and gets the brain out of neutral.

After meals -- Nicotine, the dessert of champions. Nothing like a little dip, or smoke, or Nicorette to cleans the pallet after breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Under stress -- Anxiety fuels the jones. Will a little nicotine any crisis seems manageable. Without it, even moderate stress can lead to a virtual freakout.

Boredom -- Nothing to do? Now about a dip? Why twiddle your thumbs when you can burn one down to the filter? Why daydream when you can chomp on some nicotine gum?

Before bed -- Yea, got to have a little before calling it a day. Relax, wind down after the day and get a little more nicotine into the bloodstream before fasting through the night.

Well, I guess I'll wrap this up for now. I've got a little craving I need to satisfy.

No, I just haven't had dinner yet.

I love Ann Curry even more now

I learned something new today while watching the "Today" show. They were talking about the torrential rains and pounding Oregon and the Pacific Northwest on there this morning. Matt Lauer mention that news anchor Ann Curry was from Oregon and had family here.

I didn't know that.

It turns out Ann Curry grew up in Ashland.

When I was studying journalism here in the mid 1980s, Ann Curry was not the household name she is today. Of course from just seeing her on TV every day, I wouldn't have expected her to be. If anything I would have assumed she is younger than I am.

Back in my youth when I was an aspiring journalist, Curry had just left Portland's KGW TV. I found out that she spend some time, as I have, in Southern California. Unfortunately, I also discovered the Curry also is a Duck, a graduate of the University of Oregon. But I will try not to hold that against her.

But I guess the thing I see as most thrilling is not how Curry serves as an inspiration to people like me, as a fellow Oregonian and journalist, but how she may serve as an inspiration to people like my daughter. It could not have been easy to be a child and young woman of mixed race (Curry's mother was Japanese) growing up in Southern Oregon.

It gives me hope that my daughter, as a half-Latino young woman, will have every opportunity to overcome the prejudice that still exists in the world and achieve whatever she strives to achieve.

Curry is a good role model for women.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Holiday hangover

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I did. But I have to admit, while driving home last night, I found myself in a pretty melancholy mood. After a busy weekend with family and friends, the prospect of returning to an empty apartment was a bit overwhelming. It's probably a good think I didn't make a post last night, it might have been a real downer and not a true reflection of the nice Christmas holiday I was fortunate to enjoy. It's also a good thing that the mini-market I planned to stop at on my way home was closed as well, because booze would not have been good in that state of mind.

There are just some times when you don't want to be alone.

That said, I can't feel too sorry for myself. I was very fortunate to spend the better part of three days with friends and family, even if it required criss-crossing the northern tier of Oregon on consecutive days. I got to spend time with my parents, my 91-year-old grandmother, my two brothers, my daughter and part of her family. I got fed two amazing Christmas meals, and I got to spend Friday night with some old and dear friends.

It was a good Christmas. But what surprised me what that it was also a tougher Christmas than I expected. I kept getting bombarded by memories of my ex all throughout the season, and over the weekend in particular. I wasn't expected that. After all, this was the second holiday I've spend as a newly single man. I knew last Christmas would be tough, but I didn't expect to be assaulted by so many memories this year. I thought I was over the worst of it. And I suppose I am. But please, dear God, remind me if I ever do something as crazy as asking a woman to marry me again, give me the good sense to do it on a date not tied to some other holiday. No Christmas or Valentines or Independence Day engagement.

I friend of mine who has a Christmas Eve birthday was hoping to get an engagement ring this holiday. I don't know if she got it or not, but I sort of hope she didn't. I don't say that because I wish her and her beau ill. I just think that, based on my own experience, I would wish that her engagement, if it is indeed coming, would be its own occasion with it's own special date to celebrate. And if, God forbid, the engagement or marriage doesn't work out, her birthday or Christmas would not then be an ongoing reminder of that heartbreak. And if it did work out, then there is another special date on the calendar each year for them to remember and celebrate as a couple.

As for me, I'm looking forward to putting 2005 behind me. It's been a big year, full of major life changes. Certainly enough for one year. I'm ready for a new year and a new start. New Year's Day is easily my favorite holiday. It's a day full of promise, possibility hope and anticipation.

I also have a confession when it comes to this blog. For those of you who have been reading this site for a while, perhaps you've already been able to tell. But I've been holding back on the things that I write here.

Perhaps my reason for doing this is unjustified paranoia. But I've had this feeling that someone who knows me here in Salem has discovered, or may discover this site, and that has made me uncomfortable. I have grown afraid to say too much, so I've found myself not saying much of anything at all of late. I'm not happy with that, but I have not yet decided what to do about that. I've entertained thoughts of abandoning this site and starting over. I've debated whether to stop blogging all together. Neither prospect appeals to me very much. But I do know this, for the last year this site as been something akin to self-therapy and a bit of a creative outlet. It has also been something of a tool for social interaction as well, with some close friends having access to this URL and a few friendly strangers stopping in from time to time to share a thought or a word. And that interaction has been welcomed and appreciated.

Where I go from here I don't know. But for now I don't plan to abandon this site. However, I will let those of you who may care know if something changes.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy holidays Fishwrappers!

I'm not sure if I'll get a chance to post this weekend or not, but I wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.

I know this is a busy and sometimes difficult time of year for some, but I hope this weekends finds you surrounded by family and/or friends filled with love, happiness and good food and drink. If it is was in my power to do so, I would make it so for each and every one of us.

My thoughts are with all of those who have to work over the holidays, whether at restaurants, convenience stores or wherever that might be. A big thanks and best wishes go out to those who are working to keep us all a little safer this season, like police officer, firefighters, emergency medics, doctors, nurses and other emergency and medical personnel. A particular thanks go out to those in uniform and their families, particularly those who are separated by many miles. We are forever indebted to those who go in harm's way so so many of us never have to.

God bless us all this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mixed blessing

Winter begins today. I don't know whether to be excited or depressed.

I'm not thrilled because I'm not a fan of winter. I'm not looking forward to the cold, wet Northwest days ahead.

What I am happy about is that this now means the days will start getting longer. I do like the longer days. So the good news is this means, after today we are getting closer to spring and more sunny days.

So, here's to longer, and warmer, days ahead.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Slip sliding away

The Willamette Valley is not known for having the greatest winter weather, that is unless you like rain and lots of it. But if there is one positive you can say about winter weather in the Willamette Valley, it is that it rarely gets below freezing. That means it rarely snows, which is good, because the valley, Portlanders in particular, are just not equipped to handle it.

But here it has been below freezing temperatures at least at night all week, and come Sunday it snows and sleets in Portland. A strong, blustery wind, whipped up the show and sleet that didn't stick to the streets. And idiots were out on the roads, apparently going to and from their Christmas shopping errands.

Unfortunately I found myself in that mess in Portland today, because I had spent the night up there Saturday night to do so dogsitting for my daughter's family. Fortunately, the people that were out on the roads were taking it slow and easy. But that didn't stop cars from slipping and sliding on the hills, sliding into each other on occasion.

Unfortunately, I have a pickup, which had nothing in the back. So, I stopped and picked up two 50-pound bags of dog food to have some weight back there, to try to keep the ass end from sliding around in front of the headlights. I'm not sure if it helped much, but I made it out of Portland, and the roads got better as I got closer to Salem.

It only took me about 3-4 hours to get home, including a stop for food for me and dog food for the truck. But that was nothing compared to my daughter's family. It took them 8 hours to get home to Portland from Pendleton, which is normally about a 4-hour drive.

Fortunately, everyone is home safe and sound. This afternoon I wasn't so sure that would be the case.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

One year later

Today marks the one year anniversary of this blog, for better or worse. So it seemed like an opportune time to take a look back at some of the posts of the last year. The highlights and lowlights so to speak.

first post wasn't much to boast about, but it got things rolling. There have been 282 post since then, according to Blogger, which I'm averaging a post about once every 1.3 days.

The most comments ever made to a post here was
16, but 15 of those were by 2 people (one being me) so I'm not sure if that should impress anyone or not.

I don't really know which posts have been the post popular. I haven't exactly kept track. But here are 10 of my favorite posts.

There are better ways to get wet and Better ways part 2

Just how do you masterbate with a magazine?

Maybe I've just got the song wrong

Good Friday? Says Who?

Girl, Girls, Girls!

How dare we love the people we like?

Inadequacy of words

Surreal World Palm Springs Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Out damned spot!

Saga with upstairs neighbors continues

If you have any other thoughts or suggestions, let me know. Thanks for making this last year a good one.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Now that's ironic

Earlier this week, I wrote a post entitled "Leaving Las Vegas," and now I just got done watching the movie by the same title. It was perhaps not the best movie to watch in my current frame of mind.

"Leaving Las Vegas" has to be one of the most tortured love stories every filmed. It's truly beautiful cinema and painful to experience at the same time. The movie and I have a bit of a
dark history. It reminds me of some of the best and worst times of my life. And this is probably about only the second or third time I've ever seen it, even though I own it on DVD.

On the positive side, it is a beautifully shot and acted film. And
Elisabeth Shue reminds me of a girlfriend from college -- similar facial features, figure, it's almost uncanny the resemblance. And Vegas is certainly a favorite place.

But on the negative side, it's a very dark story and perhaps not the best piece of cinema to watch when drinking your third glass of
Oro Azul reposado tequila of the evening, given the fact that Nicolas Cage plays an alcoholic bent of drinking himself to death.

I think when I watch the movie before I felt sorry for Cage's character. Why couldn't he see the love Shue's character had for him? Why couldn't he pull himself out of his fatal dive and appreciate the person who was right in front of him. But after this viewing, I felt most sorry for Shue's character. So lonely. Just wanting someone to be with. Someone to love and care for. Men treat her so badly throughout the film and yet she years for that closeness and compassion of another.

Sometimes you just want to crawl into bed and have someone hold you, or have someone to hold. I simple thing, sometimes so hard to find.

M*A*S*H reruns may have been a better choice for viewing tonight.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Blame it on a brat

If you are lamenting the fact that there is no new Fishwrap post here, all I can say is Brat is to blame.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ice, ice baby

Isn't one of the benefits of living in the Willamette Valley in the winter supposed to be that it rarely gets cold enough to freeze here? What's up with this weather?

Yea, it is great that we are going to see sunshine today, but with the temperature only expected to reach about 42 degrees, that's not the sort of homecoming I was hoping for.

I don't like cold weather. Never have. And it's seems I've moved back to Oregon just in time for an unusually cold winter.

My body has a very difficult time crawling out of bed in the mornings when it's cold. The whole time I was in Vegas it was considerably easier to wake up and drag my butt out of bed, even on nights where I had far less sleep than I got last night, and I think that's just because it was warmer in the room. And the irony is, I don't think we ever even turned the heat on in our motel room. I know I didn't and I don't think my brother did either.

When I lived in Southern California, Palm Springs in particular, it was not unusual to run into people who said they didn't think they would like living there because they like having four distinctive seasons. For the record, I think those people are whacked in the head. Why would people want to be cold? I don't get it.

I guess I can't avoid it any longer. It's time to venture away from the heater and out into the cold -- 29 degrees. There's a bit of ice out there, which could make the drive into work a little more exciting than normal. Several schools and school districts are delaying their openings due to some ice conditions.

And winter hasn't even officially started yet.

Is it too late to turn around and go back to Vegas?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas

Photos by the G-Man

(Top) The view from the Stratosphere tower of the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Above) Country music singer Terri Clark performs Saturday night at The Orleans Hotel and Casino.

The time and the money disappeared far too quickly. There was too much gambling, too much walking, too much drinking, too little sleep and almost enough fun.

I've lost count of how many times I've been to Vegas now but there is still so much I haven't seen and done in that amazingly decadent tourist trap. I try to see or do something new each time I go.

Among the firsts this trip:

* Checking out the aquarium at
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay.
* Getting an eagle's eye view of the city from the
Stratosphere Las Vegas tower.
* Walking to the
Thomas & Mack Center after a power outage in a casino made me miss my bus to the National Finals Rodeo.
* Playing
Let It Ride.
* Hooters Girls.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Vegas vacation

That's it. I've had it with this cold Oregon weather. What's this temperatures in the 30s crap here in the Willamette Valley? I refuse to put up with it anymore. I'm heading south for a few days.

Yea, that's right, it's time for a trip to Vegas baby!

Maybe if it warms up here I'll be back. Maybe. OK, so I'll probably be back whether it warms up or not. The money can't hold out for ever. And money has a whole different meaning in Las Vegas. The only time I ever see or carry $100 bills is in Las Vegas. Of course, I don't seem to carry them long.

Sure, I have dreams, like all Vegas visitors do, of hitting the big jackpot. But no delusions about it. I'm prepared to pay, at least a little, for my fun.

I'll tell you all about it when I get back. Well, maybe not all about it. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Particularly the money, that really tends to stay in Vegas.

Anyway, it's off to find some sun, some fun and well, whatever else there is to find in Vegas. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

Monday, December 05, 2005

When you don't want a diamond to be forever

If I ever ask a woman to marry me again, if that idea ever crosses my mind, will someone please remind me NOT to do it on a major holiday?!?!

Two years ago on Christmas Eve I gave a woman a diamond ring and asked her to marry me. It made for a fantastic Christmas at the time, because she said yes. It was all very festive.

For a while.

She gave the ring back less than 6 months later.

Somehow, I got through the holiday season last year. Needless to say, I wasn't very much in the holiday spirit. I don't remember much about the holiday actually. I was with family, which was good, but it is mostly a blur. It was a date to endure.

Now, a year later, I wasn't anticipating this to be a particularly difficult holiday. The broken heart had healed. Right? And it's not like I'm a blubbering idiot or an overly emotional sap, but there are fucking reminders of that Christmas 2 years ago everywhere I seem to look. And it's starting to piss me off. All those damn jewelers and their holiday commercials are conspiring to torment me.

Now, I had waited 38 years before proposing marriage to a woman, so I certainly didn't expect it to become a failed engagement. And I certainly wouldn't want to go into another engagement, should that opportunity ever arise, thinking of what some date on a calendar will mean to me in the aftermath of another failed engagement or, God forbid, a failed marriage. But still. I don't think I would choose to pop the big question on Christmas, New Year's, Valentine's Day, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, or any other date on the calendar society uses for social celebrations. You know. Just. Well. Just in case.

Perhaps that sounds a tad pessimistic. And lord knows when you are in love that is not a pessimistic time. So who knows. Maybe I would do it all over again if given the chance. And I certainly hope there will be (at least) one more chance.

Now if I could just get Zales and Kay and DeBeers and all those other folks, who are desperately trying to financially rape unsuspecting romantics by enticing them into buying outrageously overpriced diamonds and gold for their sweethearts this holiday season, to just go the fuck away this may not be a bad Christmas after all.


On another note, I'm sorry it has been a while since my last post. Things have been a bit busy. It's actually been kind of nice to have some social obligations of late, particularly this time of year. It's good to spend time with family, friends and colleagues. It's shaping up to busy a busy month. So, my apologies if the posts get a pit sporadic.

This month the ol' Digital Fishwrap will celebrate it's first birthday. I've been doing this for a year, and I'm still not sure what the goal, or theme, of this blog is supposed to be. And maybe there isn't one. Maybe it's just a way to puke some words onto a digital page and see what patterns they make as they slide down the screen. But sometimes it's fun, and it's led, indirectly at least, to "meeting" some nice folks who like to write, and have a knack for it. So, that can't be all bad, now can it?

The End Debt Daily