Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You Kill Me - trailer and quickie review

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It's a "small film" I guess -- but when I saw Tea Leoni as one of the producers, I hoped it would be because one of the actors believed in a good quiet little film. Sure enough it was dandy.

There are holes in the plot. It's not perfect, and the minimal action sequences seemed a bit oddly crammed into the movie. But overall it's about watching Ben Kingsley and Tea Leoni walk around and talk, and for that it's really quite good.

Leoni plays a very weird lady, and plays her really well. To my eyes (only seen it once so far) she carries the movie, or at least shines the brightest. Kingsley displays a great sense of comedic timing.

I'd say since it is character- and dialog-driven, no need to rush out and see it in the big theaters. But if you could catch it in a beer theater the contagious laughter in the audience will make it that much more enjoyable.


Enjoy your downtime,


Monday, July 30, 2007

Home again

Everyone can relax, I'm back home safe. No, really... relax.

After hanging out with Stud Farmhand the day after the long horseride, and trying to walk off the outrageous soreness in my upper upper upper inner thigh, I headed off to The Good Reverend's House of Children (tm).

My friends have birthed their 6th child, making that 2 boys and 4 girls. The Wife and I are kinda godparents or "crazy aunt-and-uncle" to these kids, and visit as often as we can. Both families wish we were closer together (they're up in Bellevue), but they are well ensconced in a great community surrounding the Waldorf school that Mrs. Reverend runs and all their kids attend. We have deep deep roots here in Pdx, so we are restricted to occasional visits.

Mrs. Farmhand was coming down with some bug when I left their house, and then I proceeded to talk with The Good Reverend til the wee hours of the morning, to be awakened early early the next day by the scuttling of little feet and giggling of little mouths. Possible exposure to Mrs. Farmhand bug + not much sleep + being surrounded by Little Vectors for Disease (A.K.A. children) had me feeling like I was coming down with something by the time I arrived home today. It was more than worth it though, to see the Wee One and give hugs and smooches to the various children of the house. I love to see these parents in action, it truly warms my heart.

I knew I was heading for rough times by the time I got home tonight, feeling it in my throat and kinda swirly in the head, so pried The Wife away from her studies and went over to Jon Schell's acupuncture clinic for Group Night -- Mondays and Saturdays. She needed to get prepped up for her big test tomorrow, and I needed to knock this bug before it got me. I was reminded sitting there getting stuck that I really, truly hate needles. But I can't argue with the results. I already feel better and expect to dodge this bullet of a potential cold.

I figure that's all the news that's fit to print -- give The Wife good thoughts tomorrow (tuesday the 31st) around 9:30 a.m. when she sits for her test if you get a chance.

Enjoy your evening, morning, daytime


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Cowgirl and Windmills, a ride in the sagebrush with friends

This ride ended up being over 4 hours long. When Treena asked me if I wanted to make a loop around the mountain and come back on a different route, I ignorantly said "Sure!" My body started protesting not 2 miles past the rest stop in that last picture. I was barely able to sit the saddle by the time we rolled back into the ranch. Way way too long for a first ride. But I learned a lot, am glad to have had some time with Ace, who will hopefully be my riding buddy from here on out, and got an incredible workout of my abdominal muscles. I felt like I'd been In flagrante delicto for 4 hours, or bellydancing, or in a Pilates class. Sore in places I didn't know I had places.

The first picture struck me as a potential snapshot of the future. When gas is say $25 a gallon. There is an image in an Edward Abbey book of a blue-eyed Bedouin woman with a papoose board on her back, looking out over the waterfall that used to be Hoover Dam. That is what this reminded me of. Tea is riding Leroy, a 4-year-old stallion (still had his minerals) who was getting a "socializing" lesson by Treena by riding with two geldings. He'd been with only her for months in these hills, and she needed to know how he'd handle being on the trail with other male horses. He did just fine -- she was uncanny in her ability to catch when he was about to get aggressive and would hollar or whomp him before he even got a chance to do anything.

Second picture is a trail shot of Treena and Stud Farmhand up ahead of me as we went through a small cluster of Brush Bunnies. There were cows spread throughout our ride. Cows, sagebrush, some Ponderosa Pine, it was very Western-ey if I say so myself. Taking pictures from the back of a moving horse turned out to be incredibly difficult. I'm glad I got anything at all I could use, and managed it without damaging my camera.

The last shot is a break we took about 1/2 way through the ride. That is Stud Farmhand with Sunny the quarterhorse in the back, and Ace the big Tennessee Walker up front. The horses were starting to feel the workout, we'd been uphill the whole time, working trails through thick Hawthorne and Sagebrush.

Enjoy your pain-free tuckus,


Saturday, July 28, 2007

From an Undisclosed Location in Washington State

Actually I'm just at Stud Farmhand's house. There is a Gordon Setter puppy here who is too cute for words, we had grilled steak last night, and I got to hang out with Stud Farmhand for the first time in months. Since he's moved up here from Sandy Oregon we don't see each other much, whereas we used to go fishing together up to 3-4 times a month.

We're packing up to haul some horses. We're going to the East Side to do some riding. I've never ridden any horse that wasn't a total tourist wagon. The kind of horse that you drop the reigns because they've made this run 3 times today and they just want to get home and have an apple.

Today I'll be riding probably the Tennessee Walker, who is a big horse at 16 1/2 hands. There is also a quarterhorse who can "be a butthead" so Stud will probably be riding him. I'll have to use my legs to guide and everything -- it's going to be a trip.

So, I'll post later and I'll get pictures up of the various animals and whatnot.

Wish me luck,


Friday, July 27, 2007

Reality meets Idealism: my current summer reading

What I have in hand and should be reading for my own and the world's betterment:

Thanks Paul Levy for lending me this one.

But the reality is, I'm making an extra trip before leaving town to pick up this book, because I can't find it anywhere in the house and I'm ... not desperate, but... anxious to keep reading in the series:

So much for betterment.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Doc Ock photographs, hospital visit report

Doc Ock is in the hospital, recovering from surgery on his Hiatal Hernia.

The Wife and I went and visited him at OHSU tonight, and he's looking chipper for someone who was just blown up like a balloon, had 4 holes cut into him, had his stomach sliced and then moved up and wrapped around his esophagus. Not the most technically accurate depiction of the surgery, but should give you a good visual. We were there for his first Popsicle, it was a landmark event.

These pictures are of him receiving the window air conditioning unit the Study Group gave him to make his convalescence after the surgery more comfortable. They were taken during a BBQ at Captain America's house. The wrapping was McGuyver at best, and Mad Max at worst. The "bow" is made out of a tall kitchen garbage bag. I basically just covered over anything on the outside of the box that would identify the present, then used enough duct tape that it would be a challenge to get open.

The first shows him starting to open the box, then the moment when he realizes what it was (he said he was scared to open the thing, not having any idea what we would be getting him), and then some Man-Love (tm) with Captain America. On the right there is Captain America's S.O. Wonder Woman.

Finally a few photographic records of the study group. I'll make more as I can.

Enjoy your hernia-free life,


In totally unrelated news: this cat knows when you're gonna die

This cat has an uncanny ability to know when someone at its hospice is going to travel to the great beyond. Rocking.

(Thanks Shada)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder -- new Garage roof

This, to me, is beauty -- stark-raving, maddening beauty. I'm verklempt. We got a bit of tax return, and our choices were 1. debt reduction, 2. fix the roof that leaked through its tarp in a zillion places, 3. (as The Wife always reminds me) Coke and Whores. We went with #2. I threw the card debt on a 0% transfer offer and we finally spent the money to fix the roof.

In the process, we not only removed the former waterproofing device of 2 years (see lower picture) and all the bricks holding it down (which T. has immediately commandeered to widen our garden paths with), but we got the skylight installed that's been in our basement waiting for -- 3 years. Slowly but surely -- one step closer to me sitting in there in the winter, warm and cozy, making wood bows in a snowstorm.

Ahh the life of a college student/homeowner. Thank God one of us is gainfully employed in "the real world." Make that two -- T. is as well.

Enjoy your roof-covered, rain-drip-free existence,


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ham-fisted attempted Craigslist scam

So I posted a spinning wheel for sale on the local Craigslist. The Wife never liked the single-treadle feel (one foot pedal to spin the wheel), so it wasn't getting used. It's a big ticket item, $1,000 or so -- we immediately got a bite from "Veronica Stone." After some wrangling we finally got a check through DHL. T. has worked at a bank, so we did a funds verification call on the check and it turns out that company no longer had an account at the bank.

Darnit. I was looking forward to moving this thing out of the house.

The "buyer" told me to take the excess money from the check and wire it to this lady (in Alabama) to pay for the shipping company to come and get the item and ship it for them. They sent a $4,000 check -- so, $2900 in shipping?

The scam would get me to deposit the check, wire the money before the check bounced, then the check would bounce and they'd evaporate with my money. Pretty simple procedure really. We're wondering if the fact that it was a spinning wheel made them assume we were old folks, good targets. I doubt it's that subtle tho.

Officer Gervis came by the house and created a case number for me, but I don't think I'll get to engage in any elaborate sting operation like I was hoping. I am still trying to milk the various contacts for more information, phone numbers, etc. If I can get some action from any of these people and start stringing them along I definitely will, nice summer evening entertainment.

If anything interesting happens, ya'll will be the first to know.

Enjoy your scam-free day,


Wine Cage (tm), and general summer business

The Wife has a thing for small stools. Especially very small stools with three legs. I don't know if it has something to do with doing so much Children's Theatre in college, or working as a nanny or just an inner child that can't come to terms with the fact that she's nearly 6 feet tall now.

In general, we sit on the floor and use them to hold dinner plates. And then T. came up with the Wine Cage (tm) pictured here.

Home life: busy summer days, happy busy summer days. Worked on the garage roof with a carpenter friend of mine -- prepping it for a new roof. There is now a fancy skylight installed, it opens and everything. Its been in storage in the basement for 3 years now, so cool to finally get it mounted. New trim on the outside as well. Slowly but surely the garage is becoming a work space. T. already works out in it, and there is a tool bench. With enough time and money it will have a bow bench and even a rustic franklin wood stove to burn up the sticks and scrap construction wood that builds up on the property. I've always wanted one of those.

T. is back from Sequim Washington, having worked the Lavender Festival with Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants. He's sitting on the office floor behind me giving the download on the festival, there may have to be a post later. Right now I'm hearing about Joe the cat who lived at the lavender farm, whose body language conveyed clearly that he owned the joint.

Flowers are busting out, Esmerelda is peeping up a storm, and the cats are -- well napping. Napping to recover from their long nights of sleeping.

Enjoy even more, sun's still shining,


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Chicklet update: Esmerelda helps The Wife study for CPA Exams

Esmerelda wouldn't quiet down, so a little chicken study station was created to accommodate her on The Wife's desk (note the official study group t-shirt being used for good test JuJu).

The shoulder is *much* better.

Accounting is tiring.

Chicken Run: S.E. Portland Edition

So last night our friend Reshi called us, "I've caught a chicken. I don't really know what to do, can I bring it over?" But of course. We were watching 40 year old Virgin with our friend Feeon at the time, paused the movie and here comes Reshi and his roommate with a little barely-fledging chick.

The Wife immediately went into MacGyver mode, and gathered up the makings of a brooding box in about 5 minutes (check out the broken down aluminum arrow for a perch, rocking). Reshi, his roommate and Feeon were all duly impressed by the swift and capable chicken prowess of The Wife in this minor emergency. We got set up in the kitchen and set the little thing into the box. It immediately escaped, so we had to reinforce the lid.

I think its specialty is escape, thus the reason it was wandering around S.E. Portland at 10:00 on a Saturday night. Reshi's house will be combing the neighborhood and knocking on doors to find out who the owner is. If it were 2-5 chicklets, The Wife and I would gladly adopt and just include them in our flock. But, introducing a single chicken, especially a young one (this one would be in a brooding box until it was a good sized pullet) into an existing flock is really hard, and often ends up with the new chicken severely injured or even dead. Chickens are not kind to strangers. In our experience, the best way to introduce new chickens to an existing flock is put 3-5 in at a time, then they can run around together and have company while the flock gets used to the idea. It greatly mellows out the picking and bullying that inevitably happens.

So, we've got this cute-as-hell chicklet now. Pootie hasn't really figured out what is going on, tho he's taken to sleeping on the kitchen floor because of the intriguing smells and sounds emanating from the kitchen table. Sula could give a rip.

We are developing plans for if we can't find the original home for this little guy. We won't raise it alone, because it would be very lonely and sad and impossible (or immoral) to introduce to our little flock. So, one plan is that if a home isn't found we'll try to find chicks of the same age and create a new flock to be raised together and introduced together. We've lost a lot of chickens this year to both predation and to old age, so a flush of new blood is in order anyway. Just tricky to find chicks this time of year -- most folks brood in early spring so their pullets are good sized by now and laying around October.

We'll see.

Even though the inquisitiveness of this little chicken leads us to believe it is a little boy, we've named it Esmerelda to set a bit of intention toward the "hen" end of things -- in case we're *forced* to keep it. We can't keep roosters, as our neighbors would lynch us, and probably our roommate as well.

If you happen to live around 45th between S.E. Stark and Belmont, and have or know anyone who is keeping chicks, please email me so we can get this little person back ot its flock. A single chicken is a lonely chicken.

Enjoy your fledgling-free Sunday,


Saturday, July 21, 2007

6-word short stories

Awesome idea by Wired magazine, 6 word sci fi stories -- they invited famous and semi famous authors to contribute. Check it out, they're really worth the read.

My favorite so far:

Easy. Just touch the match to
- Ursula K. Le Guin

Thanks Bentley.

Enjoy some light reading,


Friday, July 20, 2007

Participating in a Viral Video: Inmates perform "Thriller" in Phillipines

This will be all over hell and gone by tomorrow, thought I'd participate in a truly viral video.

Phillipino inmates perform (well practice) "Thriller" -- and a whole lot more.

Roisin Murphy - Ramalama (bang bang)

Resorting to a fan video to be able to share this song with ya'll, there is no official one to my knowledge. The song just kicks so much butt I had to find something to post it on the blog with. There are subtleties in the song that made it so I wanted to find a studio version of it to share. I didn't want to just post the live version as an introduction. But in the live video, at least you get to see how very cute Rosin Murphy is. New talent crush.

Ms. Onge introduced me to this song on the drive out to Hanbleceya, and it's going to be a headliner on the next Butt Tape. Haven't explained those yet, have I -- its a music mix series I've been doing for 12 years or so.

edit/ps/addendum: Moloko is her old band with her (now ex) boyfriend. Here's a song from them, Fun For Me -- rocking.

Enjoy the music,


Modem died, back online now tho

Hey ya'll,

My modem kicked the bucket last night, and I spent my normal writing time wrestling technology. Sorry for the delay in posting I'll be rolling again tonight.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

New North American Orchid discovered, and it smells like feet. Endangered desert pupfish get inventive.

Interesting little article sent to me by The Wife, new orchid species discovered in Yosemite.

The word "orchid" brings to mind regal, beautiful, rare, exotic -- I love that this little thing is pretty ugly and smells like an old gym bag. Awesome.

ps/edit: Looks like rare desert pupfish have found an opportunity and have migrated to some man-made research ponds to find new habitat. They are an extremely tenuous species, so any leg up is a good one. Again, awesome.

Enjoy your plants and animals,


While we're on the subject of random and surreal, I had to share this

Not much I can say really. I mean... ya.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What you don't want to hear as a landlord

Was with a friend today who owns some rental property. He said that one of his renters, who was on parole, called him and said "Hey, in the interest of honesty, I have to tell you I just cut off my ankle cuff. Just so you know." Apparently he sounded very excited, and wasn't seen for two weeks.

I mean, what do you say to that? I was snickering for hours over that one -- just surreal.

I caved, finally reading the Harry Potter series

I didn't read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in Urdu, but it sure looks cool don't it? Seeing the latest movie in the serial, I got inspired to give the books another try. The first time I tried it was just too *kiddish* for me, I couldn't get through the first book. This time I read the first one in a couple days, enjoyed it, and am on my way. They're quite imaginative and I suspect I will make it through this run. I hear the earlier ones are the hardest for adults to get through as the author was still getting on her feet and the characters are the youngest.

The Wife has accused me of "never reading fiction" many times, though I did read His Dark Materialstrilogy at her urging -- not fictional enough I guess. I really enjoyed those books, too. And Where the Rivers Change Direction as well, even while I was in school -- it's not only fiction but a book for ADULTS even, so there.

So now I'm a Potterhead, and I can join groups of dithering fans as the new book comes out. The Wife isn't as mad a fan now as she was during the first half of the series (all our books are hardbound first editions bought on or near the day of release), but we can gossip now about the characters and I won't be left in the dark.

Enjoy your summer reading,


Monday, July 16, 2007

Another trip to Secret Creek -- author spotted!

Another beautiful day up on Secret Creek (tm) with Letlee.

This pool was one of our destinations, it's depth apparent in the beautiful turquoise green color of the water. The water in this creek is so clean this time of year (no glacial melt) that anything less than 3' deep is just clear -- no color at all.

The fish in this creek aren't large -- back up, let me rephrase that. The few larger fish (11"+) in this creek are very hard to catch. I have in years past caught them, but so far on these trips we've just had them rise and we missed the strike, or we hooked them only long enough for a patented LDR (Long Distance Release). The LDR is a technique patented by my good friend Stud Farmhand (I'll have to do a portrait of him soon so ya'll know who he is) to release fish without ever having them come to hand or net -- very very ecologically friendly. Letlee and I practiced a whole lot of LDR's on both of our trips to Secret Creek this year.

You will notice a decided lack of Luna the Dog this time. By the end of the last trip Luna had the lowdown on these wriggley, intensely interesting things we were pulling out of the water. They looked *tastey* too. One of us would have to hold the dog while the other brought in a fish, or I fear there would have been an incident. So -- Luna stayed home on this trip for the Trouts' protection.

Here I am being mysteriously cordial with my little trout friends -- "would sir like a little bit of fuzzy fur and feathers that looks like a big juicy stonefly?" They often obliged, a testament in this heathen day and age to the power of courtesy. I have no idea what the hand-behind-the-back move is here actually, maybe to help my balance or concentration. I'm not used to being photographed while fishing, and don't know the standard poses. Fly fishing is just too engaging to stop and "look good" for a photograph, I tell you.

I'm holding this little cutthroat trout (none of these fish were out of the water more than 10 seconds) in such a way that you can see the red markings under its gills and nice orange-with-white-tipped bottom fins [click on the picture to get a closer look]. He looks a little snakey and long for his age, which tells me Secret Creek isn't crawling with food. That is typical for mountain streams, the fish hold on best they can and have good years and bad years. The water slows down in the flats at lower elevations and gets fertile and food-rich, and the fish generally get fatter and fatter. All the other trout we caught were well proportioned, but none of them were the tubby football shape that trout take on when the food supply is extra abundant. These are scrappy little survivors, and we love em.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Picking up some dance steps: Birds of Paradise Bling

Sunday night video -- David Attenborough's voice and some bitching dance moves introduced by New Guinean birds of paradise. The little man at 2.14 - 2.04 is the one that inspired the most pantomime in our house. We've taken to using these movements to communicate complicated messages to each other.

It doesn't work, of course.

Enjoy your clear and effective communications,


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Ignorance is Bliss: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix review

I jumped a max last night and went downtown to wander, I was antsy. My options were catch a movie or hit Powells Books. I decided, in the interest of thrift, to see the new Harry Potter movie -- Powells can be a dangerous, dangerous place for me when I have plenty of reading time on my hands and especially so when I have no particular shopping agenda set before I walk in there. I probably saved myself $50 with this decision.

I didn't realize that this was kind of an opening weekend type of situation until I got to the theater and saw the lines. The geeks, nerds, dorks and children were out in full force. I got my ticket, hit Todai downstairs for a quick microbrew beforehand (I really need to eat at their buffet sometime, it's legendary) and watched the movie.

All the poo pooing I've been seeing over this movie, I realize now, is from Harry Potter readers. The more fervent the fan, the worse the reviews -- "It's not true to the book, they don't show [enter character's name here] enough, they didn't develop [enter subplot here] enough." But for me, sublimely ignorant of all these subtleties, it was a dandy Friday-night-alone-on-one-beer kinda movie.

The story has obvious analogies to current fascist trends in American politics (I know I used the "F" word, look it up and tell me I'm wrong) but trying to make anything more out of this story than simply a story about magic and good and evil is silly. It is a kids book after all. The special effects were well executed and adequate to relay setting, the kids are settled well into their roles as actors and did a fine job, the multiple celebrity cameo shots were entertaining, etc. I loved the depiction of the new enemy, Mrs. Umbrage (fantastic name, reminds me of Nurse Ratchet out of One Flew over the Cuckoo's nest) -- with her pink wardrobe, kitten collectible plates and tons of perfume. I also dug Gary Oldman's screentime. He didn't have a lot, but I liked the look of the character and enjoyed seeing him on the big screen, it's been a while.

There's plenty to recommend this movie.

This is a dandy flick about trying to do the right thing, with a tiny dash of adolescent angst, and a strong mix of kid-inspiring "friends are live savers." I can give it a A- without hesitation, even for adult audiences. Harry Potter readers beware however, to you it will probably be a disappointment.

ps/edit/addendum: See how I was out-skilled, out-trumped, out-classed by my roommate on the 17 Gardens of the Outer Nethers.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Bamiyan Buddhas go laser

In a tragic move on many levels, the Taliban in 2001 bombed 3 enormous Buddha statues out of the cliffs of Bamiyan. This, as expected, spurred international outrage. Now an artist named Yamagata looks like he's gotten the job of a replacement piece for this region, a projection of 4 Buddha figures in bright laser lights on these same cliffs. A few interesting twists to this project, the area is going to be provided some electricity from the project (over 1/2 of the windmills dedicated to charging the project will create electricity for the local area); and the artist claims no religious or political motivation for his work, purely artistic.

I don't have much to say about this strange project other than I'm glad it's green-powered and provides social services as well as "art." The whole event just seems surreal to me, from the initial bombing to the replacement with an "apolitical, areligious" art piece. Weird weird weird.

Worlds Tallest man Saves Dolphins, Breitenbush, and Cherries

The world's tallest man is marrying a 5'6" lady. The news
concentrates on this fact, because of the obvious anatomical musings it produces (very newsworthy, those anatomical musings). The first thing that caught my eye, however, was the incredibly bitching marriage clothing they are wearing. What I thought was most interesting was this little snippet toward the bottom of the article,
"He was in the news in December after he used his long arms to save two dolphins by pulling plastic out of their stomachs.

The dolphins got sick after nibbling on plastic from the edge of their pool at an aquarium in Liaoning province. Attempts to use surgical instruments to remove the plastic failed because the dolphins' stomachs contracted in response to the instruments, Chinese media reported.[photo by Jason Lee, Reuters]"

There is so much I could say there -- my brain is just stymied with options. I guess I'll let it stand on its own.

The Breitenbush trip yesterday turned out to be much more leisurely than I had expected. Nunpa and I arrived, I took the loaded cart down to the sweatlodge area and started to clean up, he went to the office to confirm our cabin and timing and whatnot. He arrived a few minutes later where I was working, and sheepishly explained that there was no sweat today - it was next week. He'd gotten the dates mixed up (first time in 9 years he swears). We were forced to soak, hit the steam room and cold bath, then eat a phenomenally healthy and tasty lunch. It was rough I tell you ROUGH.

In a surreal turn of events, it seems I can't seem to escape Ze Russians (yes, that's a Snatch reference) either. On the drive back, we took the scenic route, following the Clackamas river. At one point, Nunpa pointed out a pullout where there are hotsprings that spill directly into the river. "The Russians love this spot, for some reason." Sure enough, not far down the road there is a nice Russian mom with her babushka on, walking with one of her children on the side of the road. They're everywhere I want to be, I just don't get it.

I polished off the day with a little date with The Wife on the living room floor, involving towels, cherries, and dvd rentals. It's not what you think, honestly, we just pitted those Russian Escapee cherries finally. We had Planet Earth with David Attenborough to start off the evning, then watched Amadeus,which I had never seen believe it or not. Anything Sir David does we eat up like candy, and Amadeus was a great movie -- but hella long. We did get all the cherries pitted in one swell foop and both now have sore, crampy hands to show for it.

I guess that's all the news that's fit to print, ya'll have a good day now ya hear?


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Street Chickens

I've got approximately 15 minutes to get ready to head to Breitenbush hot springs and carry stones for 2 sweat lodges today. Keep filling my days and going to bed late. My friend and acupuncturist Jon Schell came by last night at like 10 with approximately 60 lbs of blueberries that he got from a client, and we bagged em til almost midnight. I'm a bit delirious, but here is a video to entertain you until I get back.

ZeFrank on NY urban wildlife (introduces another of the inside jokes of The Show, when a segment is weird and random enough, he'll ask "are the new viewers gone yet?"):

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Russians Attack! -- pie cherry picking at Sandy Farms

So a few years ago The Wife got on a pie cherry kick/fetish. Suddenly we HAD to have them. I begrudgingly went out and picked with her for a few hours, then pitted for days and days (no kidding). I wasn't sold til they were cooked up, then I had an epiphany. Holy cow, they are amazing! A simple cherry pie is out of this world when made with real pie cherries, as opposed to canned ones. Totally different animal.

So this year, The Wife meekly asked me if I would go out to Sandy Farms on opening day of the pie cherry season and see if I could get us a few pounds. "Supposedly the Russian community has discovered our little U-pick, and pick it out in a single day now. So if we mist the opener on the 10th, we won't get any." Sounded like a bit of exaggeration to me, but hey I had the time why not get some brownie points by picking cherries on a 100+ degree day.

When I arrived a little before noon, there was a line of 80 - 100 people waiting to check out, and 2-3 dozen cars packing up crack squadrons of grandparents and pubescent teens. I kinda panicked. She wasn't kidding!

I sped out to the cherry field to see a nice green orchard, with healthy foliage and little halos of red at the very tippy top of the trees. There wasn't a cherry to be seen under 8' anywhere in the whole orchard. Old ladies in babushkas trailing teams of rangy but obedient kids were exiting the field with full boxes and buckets. There were families having picnics in the shade, and almost no one was crazy enough to still be picking in the heat of the day.

I wandered out into the orchard with my 6' ladder, a straw hat and a couple containers, a bit demoralized. This was going to be a gleaning, not a picking. I should have arrived at the crack of dawn and pitched a tent in the orchard, waiting for the opener like a salmon fisherman at Buoy 10.

I knew that there were some cherries to be had. I found a few trees that had crowns full of cherries, but soon discovered that they were all on just enough slope that it made the ladder quite unstable. That's why the cherries were there, pubescent Russian children had decided the spot was too unsafe -- children still made mostly of piss and vinegar, still bulletproof and invisible as far as their worldly experience had shown them. I managed a few cherries despite the obstacles.

The Russian folks who were still in the fields struck me as pious, humble folk. Many wore long sleeved shirts and long skirts like they were going to church, even though they were out in a dusty field in outrageous heat. So, when I felt like I may get edged in on the few trees I had found with any appreciable fruit, I decided to take my shirt and hat off -- to enjoy the sun a bit. The pious, humble folk suddenly changed their picking trajectory and headed opposite directions.

I managed 6 lowly pounds of brownie points in 2 1/2 hours of grueling, scratchy, desperately hot work. For some reason, I was humming a Pointer Sisters tune as I picked -- the mind is a terrible thing to waste, kids. When I did find little pods of cherries up in the 6' ladder range that hadn't been picked over, it was easy to pick 5-8 cherries in one handful. I can only imagine how fast it would have been to double my 6 lbs. if I had arrived first thing in the morning.

I'm now staring down the barrel of pitting these buggers -- this means bowls in the front room and old work towels on the ground, and one or two netflix movies a night for a couple nights. But, in the back of my mind, I see the cherry-cheesecake torts I'm going to make with graham cracker crusts, and I will keep pitting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

17 Gardens of the Outer Nethers updated

Still getting the new garden photoblog set up, but here and here are some updates from today.



Frozen baby Mammoth discovered, cloning discussed

A reindeer herder in N.W. Siberia discovered a frozen baby Mammoth specimen that looks to be approximately 10,000 years old, BBC reported today. This, in and of itself isn't what caught my attention in the article. Here is the quote that did:

....Dr Agenbroad remains optimistic about the potential for cloning.

"When we got the Jarkov mammoth [found frozen in Taimyr, Siberia, in 1997], the geneticists told me: 'if you can get us good DNA, we'll have a baby mammoth for you in 22 months',"

That's sorta intense, don't you think? Talking about ethics at this point would be hackneyed and put most people to sleep, but it does beg a few questions don't it? I mean, I saw Jurassic Park -- won't this thing go wild and bang someone's car halfway off a cliff, forcing the inhabitants of the car to shift their weight as overloud music strains down from the heavens to add tension to the scene? Or turn out to be a hyper-efficient predator of some kind and not an herbivore at all, chasing kids through a lab in the jungle and using mirrors to spot the hiding children. Maybe it's just me.

Weird thought for the day at least, cloned Pleistocene mammals lumbering around in a huge outdoor animal park -- huge 9' sloths, mammoths, saber toothed cats, little cloven-hooved stripey horses.

It's been thought before, but I'm not totally awake yet, so it seems trippy still.

Enjoy your modern fauna,


Monday, July 9, 2007

I miss ZeFrank -- video defining Brain Crack

Alright, confession time. Hello, I'm a ZeFrank Fanboi. I miss his daily video shows (was that a video blog?).

For those of you who haven't been initiated, The Show by ZeFrank was a year-long daily video project that ended on March 17, 2007. You can go to This Link to see the first show ever, and proceed from there by clicking on the date above the screen. Ze also has a main page with lots of little shorts and whatnots you can watch, some games and weirdness. He blogs a bit on the left bar as well. Not every day of the show is brilliant, but most will make you laugh and some will make you think. Also, he gets the hang of it as he goes, so they get better and better. The inside jokes start to stack up and get some real weight as well.

I was reminded today about one of my favorite episodes, and wanted to share it with you. It's about Brain Crack. You will also see some of the traditions that grew into the show: a man performing a "power move" that was good enough to earn him a superhero name -- Razor Kitten, as well as the chess game he played through the show with The Fabulosos.

I may start posting my favorite shows periodically, for old times' sake. We'll see.

Please don't dump drugs down the toilet

Although it has been common practice and even encouraged, please don't dispose of drugs that are outdated or unneeded in the toilet, it pollutes nearby rivers with very bizarre compounds that nature really doesn't know what to do with. Even The Oregonian saw fit to mention it in an article, and that means the situation must be pretty bad.

There aren't a lot of alternatives to dumping down the toilet at this point, but apparently "take back" programs are being put in place to address the problem. If you need to get rid of some prescription drugs, I'd call your pharmacist for some options.


Found these guidelines and some info just now (I cut and pasted directly, typos are all theirs).


Below are the federal guidelines for proper disposal of prescription drugs:

Federal Guidelines:

?Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.


? Mixing prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, will further ensure the drugs are not diverted.

Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs doing so.

Take advantage of community pharmaceutical take-back programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Some communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs or community solid-waste programs that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for proper disposal. Where these exist, they are a good way to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals.

The FDA advises that the following drugs be flushed down the toilet instead of thrown in the trash:

Actiq (fentanyl citrate)

Daytrana Transdermal Patch (methylphenidate)

Duragesic Transdermal System (fentanyl)

OxyContin Tablets (oxycodone)

Avinza Capsules (morphine sulfate)

Baraclude Tablets (entecavir)

Reyataz Capsules (atazanavir sulfate)

Tequin Tablets (gatifloxacin)

Zerit for Oral Solution (stavudine)

Meperidine HCl Tablets

Percocet (Oxycodone and Acetaminophen)

Xyrem (Sodium Oxybate)

Fentora (fentanyl buccal tablet)

Note: Patients should always refer to printed material accompanying their medication for specific instructions

Sunday, July 8, 2007

And now for something completely different: Missy Elliot - Work It

Just digging Missy Elliot lately, thought I'd post it for my friends. It's not fly fishing or organic gardening, but it bumps. She and her production team know how to write a dance tune.

Enjoy your dance,


Saturday, July 7, 2007

I felt like a jerk, but Hobo spiders must die. Here's some info on them.

I was about to go and do some Qi Gong tonight after I answered some comments on the site, when a spider ran over my foot. I looked down to see the picture to the right -- a female Hobo Spider. Although I normally catch and export all "Bobs" (The Wife calls all spiders Bob) from the house, I kill these.

It feels weird to kill spiders, I've never done it much, but these can give very serious bites so off they go. Here is some info on the bites (warning, the image is not for the weak-stomached) from a Hobo Spider website.

Although I kill individuals I find, I do not attempt to trap these guys because the traps are indiscriminate and may kill other important spider species. Don't get caught in the hype (normally propagated on the trap packaging), bites are indeed rare and it's not worth decimating your spider population to avoid the possibility. They do like indoors, and tend to be on the ground. They're not small, with leg-spans easily larger than a quarter, into the half-dollar size.

Only the males (second picture) have the big, obvious palps, which look like black boxing gloves. Males are easier to identify, so know the female look too.

Sleep tight,


Size Matters: Blueberry picking on Sauvie Island

Criddle and I went berry picking yesterday, leaving town early enough to arrive at Sauvie Island Blueberries promptly at 8 am when they open. It's a beautiful set of patches, surrounded by tall trees for a bit of shade. Criddle suggested it because the bushes are nice and tall, which makes them very easy to pick. Most were 5 - 7' high. I'd say the field is 1/4 ripe at this point, so one or two more weeks and it should be in full swing.

Anne Jones, the proprietor, was waiting on her picnic bench in the shade when we arrived. She "Hallo'd" and waved us in the gate. She's a sweet lady, and I recommend this U-pick highly (Sauvie Island Blueberries, 503-621-3332).

She told us where to head for the ripest berries and we set out. One thing I noticed right away was that size, indeed, matters. Many of the berries were the right color, but it was the big huge ones that were the sweetest. We picked to our hearts' content and chatted with each other. I fall off the map when school starts, so hanging out with friends is a huge goal of mine over the summer -- so they know I still exist. Criddle got married since the last time I saw her, so there was a lot to catch up on.

We picked around 13 - 14 lbs each, and paid not very much for them. I honestly don't remember the per-pound cost. I also bought a jar of local berry honey. I love having different types of honey around, and comparing which types I like the best. Wildflower and Clover honey so far top my list. That's probably because we can't easily get Orange Blossom honey up here, which truly kicks ass.

From what I can tell, the Sauvie U-Picks have Blueberries, Marion, and Raspberries ready to go right now. We're waiting on the Boysenberries to ripen up, as they're The Wife's favorite. I'm the only Blueberry fanatic in the house, so I'll have these virtually to myself. I plan to pick 10 - 12 more lbs. before the season is over to fill my larder. I burned through 25 lbs. a few years ago easily, they didn't see the end of March. Most of them eaten out of a bowl like popcorn as they thawed.

I was hoping to get a nice picture of the busting-with-ripeness berries for ya'll, but my camera suddenly decided it only had battery enough for one shot... so there ya go.

Enjoy your summer,


Friday, July 6, 2007

Flyfishing trip -- Undisclosed location in the Oregon Cascades

This is probably my favorite trout creek in Oregon. Definitely within reasonable single-day trip distance from Portland. Letlee, Luna and I headed up there to explore a bit and cast over small, precious cutthroats, rainbows and cutbow hybrids.

Luna was surprisingly well mannered during the trip, only on the first pool did she go in and get a drink in the middle of a perfect trout lie. After that, a few words from Mom and she would stay put while we worked the water. Words from me, however, had NO effect whatsoever. Not even a head turn -- nothing. "Mom is Mom, you are some strange monkey with Mom who doesn't count in the least."

Letlee caught her first fish on one of the H & L Variants she tied at our house the day before -- always a proud moment. We each caught a few fish, and missed or LDR'd (Long Distance Release) plenty more.

The fish in this creek, typical of mountain streams, weren't large. But large wasn't what we were shooting for. We wanted beautiful surroundings, big trees, gorgeous water, and ready fish. We got all that in spades. This area is of course catch and release, though I always fret about how well others treat it. I know I only fish it once or twice a season, just to make sure it never gets too much pressure.

I just love this place, and normally fish here when it's stinking hot in Portland. The big trees keep the water clean, and stream restoration efforts create beautiful little plunge pools and logjams that agree with both my aesthetics and the trouts' needs. It's just a wonderful place.

Letlee and I only made it 1/2 way through the section I like to fish, so we will be going back and working upstream from there, resting the fish in the first section for next year. We packed some garbage out, and I even gathered a bit of cedar on the walk out from limbs off a downed tree in the road. That will be a special smudge once it's dried and cleaned.

Enjoy each day,


ps: New photo up on The 17 Gardens of the Outer Nethers tonight as well.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Yet another reason to repeal the mining law of 1872

In my Minerals and World Affairs class we went over the ridiculous, antiquated, destructive basics of the U.S. Mining law of 1872. It is designed to take public lands and put them in private hands basically for free. That's a slight exaggeration - very slight.

Now, it looks like this law may be used to allow the destruction of one of the most productive salmon fisheries in the world, Bristol Bay Alaska. As if salmon didn't have enough problems.

I'm not going to write much more, as it's been a happy day and I want to keep it that way. There are links at the base of the article if you care to help do something about this potential disaster.

A side note: Our own congressman Blumenauer has, every single year he's been in office, tried to revoke this law. If only for this, the guy's got a place in my heart.

via: New West Columbia Gorge news blog

New blog, and photo updates

As you can see up at the top of the side bar, I have a new blog started called the 17 Gardens of the Outer Nethers. It is another photo blog, like the Fur Shark chronicles, but for our Garden.

Doc Ock's kid Squirt went around our house one day, "counting the gardens." He came up with 17, so that was part of the inspiration of the name. I started to explain the whole "bed" is part of a larger "garden" scene to him, but I could tell it was harshing his buzz and I stopped. Knowing someone with 17 GARDENS! was way better than knowing it was one garden with 17 beds.

I am learning the Flickr ins and outs, and in the process updated the Fur Shark chronicles with a few photos as well, for your perusal.

Enjoy the visual stimuli,


You're in for it now, I finally got a Flickr account

Here we go, I'm learning how to use my Flickr account finally. Photos incoming, just wrangling the first set right now into something cohesive.

There will soon be a new Blog, just for garden photos too.

Back soon,


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Underwater camouflage, color, and bioluminescence

I couldn't resist posting this video, a lot of novel little Biological tidbits in one short clip. Never knew about the red-tailed tadpoles.

When I see the electric strobing cuttlefish going after it's prey, I can't help but think of the snake in Animal Book singing "trust in meeeeee, juuuust in meeee" with his eyes going all swirly and hypnotic.

I especially liked the technique used by the dinoflagellates at the end -- tip off your predator's predator and you are golden. The enemy of your enemy is your friend eh? Very nice.

via Your Daily Awesome

Monday, July 2, 2007

Crafty day -- tying flies and dying quills

Our dear friend Letle (pronounced Let - Lee) came over today for some fly tying lessons. I picked a pattern we may find some use for in small mountain streams (fingers crossed for a few high-altitude hike-in fishing trips this summer) as well as one difficult technique it can teach. I decided on the H & L Variant. Great attractor fly for naieve little mountain stream fish, easy to see and fish, floats like a cork, and you learn how to deal with hair -- both the wing and the tail. We wrestled through a few and by the 4th or 5th Letle was on her way to producing these with aplomb. While she and I worked our way through tying lessons, The Wife was working with porcupine quills.

Quillwork preceded beadwork in North America for obvious reasons -- glass means technology. See some beautiful work and a brief description Here. It seems The Wife and I are stricken by a similar aesthetic problem, we like archaic forms of arts and crafts. Beadwork on leather isn't cool enough, she's got to go Quillwork. Like for me, archery isn't enough I have to make my own wooden bow with hand tools. Don't know what the deal is, but it sure keeps things interesting. None of these techniques and skills are particularly easy, so we sweat through learning new skills all the time.

In a move the total opposite of archaic, The Wife used Kool Aid to dye her quills today. It is well known for great bright colors by fly tiers who dye their own feathers, and it turned out to be great for the quills too. The red and orange colors she achieved really popped, and the purple turned out to be a deep, rich mahogany color that looks great though wasn't what she originally planned. She has to find an alternative dye for green though, because there isn't any green Kool Aid. Go figure.

So fantastic day in The Crazy House as Criddle calls it. Lounging around making messes in the living room and chatting. Perfect summer vacation.

And tomorrow, I fish. I may faint from excitement.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

T. quotes from the week

T., my roommate and best friend, has an incredibly dry wit. Some of the comments he offhandedly pops off just crack us up, so I thought I'd jot them down and once I got 3-4, start sharing them in the blog. Here is the first installment.

Animal Documentary Narrator:

"...and it is the single young males that are the most dangerous."

T., almost wistful.



T. looking out over the back garden {snickering}:

"I'm going for shafts of color. Big vertical SHAFTS of color all over the yard."


T. lounging in the living room taking a lunch break, Sunday afternoon after a hard day of yard work:

"When the idea of 'exercise' comes to mind right now, it is always accompanied by laughter. Every time."

Quick Movie Review: Hot Fuzz

Figured since it's summer, I'd head out and see another movie with Doc Ock at the Laurelhurst -- Hot Fuzz this time.

My quick take: First hour of the movie is nearly useless, second hour or so is really funny, and everything I expected from the makers of Shaun of the Dead. So in my opinion, either show up really late to the movie (if that's an option) or get it on DVD and fast forward the first at least 45 minutes. The last half really is funny and worth seeing.

C+, for wasted space.