Saturday, December 18, 2010

Stupid & Crazy

This is a post I did a long time ago. It's subject has come to the forefront of my thoughts again, as I struggle with some personal issues.

I heard a comedian the other day...."You can't fix stupid." I've been thinking about this for a while. There are labels that we put on people that we use to make it OK to dismiss them, or ridicule them, or otherwise be less than kind to them. Among those labels are "stupid" and "crazy". It seems that socially two of the lowest things one can be are stupid or crazy.(OK, not as low say, as axe-murderers or animal abusers)

I think part of that is because either of those conditions can cause a person to be generally bad news. If you're stupid, you're going to do stupid things. Doing stupid things is dangerous. If you're crazy, there's no telling what you might do - totally unpredictable to others - also dangerous. Crazy is the next closest thing to a mind totally alien. other......"not we" (we and not-we, also known as "us'ns and them'ns" as in "Us'ns are fine-but them'ns are all messed up." another subject, another post perhaps). I wonder too, if we aren't afraid that crazy might rub off on us....or that others will see us near crazy, and think that we're crazy too.....guilt of crazy by association.
Ok, it's only prudent for people to stay away from those identifiable by their actions as dangerously stupid or crazy. That said, I feel for those who really have a diminished capacity. A matter of how to deal with the myriad of pieces of input coming in. All of which needs to be sorted, like wheat from chaff. Then more decisions have to be made. Matters of perception and judgment. How does someone deal with this when they have a lower than average ability to think, or perception more greatly scewed from reality than usual?

One Father's Day, a radio announcer asked listeners to call in the most important advise they ever got from their fathers. One caller said her father told her "Remember honey, You've got to be tough when you're stupid". On one hand, that seems like a pretty callous, non-supportive thing to say to one's kid. On the other, I can see it as kind of an admonition...something along the lines of "IF you're going to do something stupid, remember you've got to be tough to deal with the fall out".

I often hear people use either the stupid label or the crazy when others just don't agree with our thoughts or beliefs. It's an easy hole to fall into. Especially if you're smart. Or think you are.

OK, so, what's my point? Um......not sure.
I guess I would like to see in myself and others, a little more sympathy and compassion for those who are borderline mentally challenged in one way or another. Especially those who seem to know, somehow, that they're not quite up to the levels others seem to operate on. I see them really trying to keep up...As I feel that I'm constantly trying to keep up.

I say borderline because we as a society seem to be more supportive, more accepting, of those who are severely diminished in thought capacity or quality. It's those who are on the borderline we have no patience for.
Do we think that if they just tried harder they could perhaps be less "stupid" or "crazy"? Hard to tell, huh? I'm not saying we shouldn't try to help people. I could sometimes use some help with both perception and judgment. 
Maybe I'm just stating the obvious ad-nauseum?!? 
A line from a country song comes to mind - "Just be patient - I'm a work in progress".

Saturday, December 11, 2010

52 Card Pick Up

Aaron, 6, is learning.

Remember that annoying *game* from childhood, 52 Card Pick Up? 

Some one approaches with a deck of cards - "Hey, want to play a card game?"  Then while you're still thinking about that they fling the deck out at you to fall all around you and holler "52 CARD PICK UP!"

They think this is funny. They say you have to pick up the cards that THEY THREW DOWN, because "It's the rules".

Hold the phone, I didn't agree to this. They're not my cards. It's not my rule.

Pick up your own damned cards.

 All grown-assed man now, I still find people in life who want me to play 52 Card Pick Up. It's  not my rules. They're not my cards. Pick up your own damned cards.

The other side

Sometimes the card thrower is bigger than you, not your friend, possibly just looking for an excuse to pound on an easy target.  You get tired of being pounded on. You pick up the cards.

Ever run into that feeling in your adult life? 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's a Giant Gundam

Ok,  so maybe it's a guy thing. I just  love that for the 30th Anniversary of Gundam anime they actually built a huge model Gundam.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hiking with Michael

I remember being the little brother, going hiking with my brother Michael. I was perhaps six or seven then, in the mid '60s. Michael was, and is, about six years older than I.

We hiked out around Grandpa's farm, near Crane, Missouri. That was a big deal to me then.  Down the hill, on the rocky dirt road, past the small old cemetary, along the railroad tracks. He taught me to walk the rails, for balance he said. He could go, seemingly forever, never slipping off the shiny curved top of the rail. I, I was always slipping off, at first. Later, I got the hang of it, barely looking down to see my feet. I recall the smells, in the mid summer Missouri heat. I don't know the names of the plants, weeds along the right of way, but I remember the warm dry smells of things not bothered by heat.

There were lots of things to see and hear. Hawks up high, crows, always, dragonflies & horseflies, the former welcome, the later, not so much.  lizards, if I was lucky, to see and hear, and chase, and miss.

I remember once, standy on a short trestle, perhaps thirty feet above Crane Creek. Looking down into the clear water there were goldfish there, let out from some fisherman's minnow bucket at end of a fishing day.
They flourished there in that creek, for years, growing as big as a large mouth bass, fourteen inches at least, Orange and white  and slow and serene. Our backwoods versions of koi, I think now.

And looking up from the creek from where we stood on the trestle there, across to the vertical bluff were goats, now wild on their own, perched, miraculously to me, on bits of rock no more than half the width of their hooves.

White and grey and brown, nonchalantly watching us watching them. they knew they were untouchable, aloof in their superiority of belonging, the kings and queens of the bluffs, much more at home than we to that place, that time.

It was a good day, among many good days, hiking with Michael.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

To my Brother G, childhood memories

Coffeyville, Kansas, about 1967 or '68, walking home, maybe about eight or nine years old, from the west on 10th street. crossing to our alley at the end of the block. 

About then I was surprised to hear really quite loud rock n roll, blasting down the alley way. I recall  thinking Oh, some old people are gonna be yelling at someone about that. I walked on.  Once I got a couple of backyards down the alley, it was obvious the sound was coming from OUR old carriage house garage, OUR HAYLOFT! (I'm guessing Dad wasn't home). You were singing, um, pretty much screaming actually,  Purple Haze.

I went up to be in on this strange & amplfied wondrous happening.  I was the kid, didn't get to stay long.

My second mind expanding shock of the day came maybe an hour or less later. I was on the screened in back porch, trying to make a tornado out of play-dough. It was then a quite attractive young  lady, probably Joanne came walking towards me from the direction of the alley, with the bright sun behind her, silhouetting her form through a white  and yellow cotton dress. I had never seen that back lighted kind of view before. Oh my.

I remember her smiling and talking to me(probably asking after you) as she came towards me. It was pretty amazing, perhaps, as I say, even mind-expanding to an impressionable eight or nine year old. Now I can't help but see her, that dress,  or the old carriage house garage, whenever I hear Purple Haze.  

Monday, November 15, 2010

rock 101-mid 1960's

Mid 1960's; I remember that guitar, my big brother's Fender Duo-Sonic. I was too young to know it fretted badly. For many years I thought it had been a Telecaster or Strat, until corrected. I had never even heard of a Duo-Sonic.

I remember it from the living room on 9th st.,Coffeyville, Kansas(We killed the Dalton gang-woo-hoo?). I would have been six or seven-ish. I was not allowed to touch it, though I dearly wanted to.
It could not have been a more magical or mysterious an object to me if, if - anything. It seems like I only remember seeing it played about once each by my brother G. and by Dad. I may be remembering imagining or dreaming of Dad playing it. 

It did seem like seeing/hearing G. playing became much more frequent after the appearance of the Goya acoustic. I noticed here they're requesting photos of Duo-sonics and some other "obscure" Fenders. Man, wouldn't we both love to have that back, if only to put it on auction, or perhaps in a vault.
Here's a related memory - I remember being downtown, Coffeyville, Kansas at night, 9th street in front of about Newberry's, and seeing G. and some other guys, all about sixteen or seventeen, on a trailer, going down the street playing. Midnight Madness? The Roaches? was that a dream?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sorting games

Through out the time we were raising our daughter Amelia we used to play some sorting type games with her. They were also, underneath, thinking games, and I think at twenty-nine now she would say they have served her well. Here are a couple of them:

Kitch, Klassic or Krap (and yes, they're spelled that way on purpose)

Pick an item, could be nearly any item, and name if it's Kitch, Klassic or Krap.

Pink lawn flamingo - Kitch

Black Converse high tops with white rubber toe caps - Klassic

Those "temporary" ad signs with the big light up arrows and cheesey slogans - Krap

Beaded Spacecraft sculpture, from Etsy's space craft competition - Klassic Kitch? Definately Kool, though. I know, subjective. That's kinda the point, which brings us to -

Obviously, this is a subjective game. It is however one that helps define to us the mind set of the person we're playing with. Hmmm, that might make it a good early-days in a relationship game.
Feel free to steal it for that. I have.

Here's another one. We call this one Insipid or Insidious , and it works better for ideas, strategies, group habbits, etc. Bear in mind some things may be partially or wholly both.

"elevator music" - insipid

consumer or voter manipulation based on fear or guilt - insidious

Most televangelist presentations - ooooh, I'm thinking both.

You can play these two games on your own, silently in your head, and then make people wonder what you're grinning or shaking your head about.

Another game I liked to play with Amelia was Name That Guitar, but unfortunately most music t.v. channels have long since ceased showing enough music videos to keep the game going conveniently. (and I realize that for our purposes here it's maybe too esoteric - ya kinda gotta be a guitar geek to care) Still, I wanted my daughter to be able to tell the difference between a Gibson S-G and a Fender Strat for example. Just a family pride thing I guess.

Ok, how about this one?
Maybe not fair, that's a Fender Jag-stang, the illustrious offspring of a Fender Jaguar and Fender Mustang.

Pardon, I digress.

more later...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Taking Aaron to school

Aaron has been in first grade for about a month now.

The first week we started out walking together, him holding my hand all the way to his class room. After the first day I was the only first grade parent to do that.

Ours is one of those close to an elementary school neighborhoods filled at that time of morning with kids, moms with strollers, grandpas with small dogs, smiling crossing guard ladies with florescent flags... The school is about four blocks away and he would fill that time and space pointing out items of interest - "that cool racing car"(a Nissan 3000 gt)," That cat's name is Max" (one of that particular kind of Siamese who want to be in the middle of everything), "Oh My Gosh that's a huge Christmas tree!"(a Red Wood that fills one corner front yard and up about a hundred feet).

The second week we still walked together, but he didn't seem to need to hold my hand any more, preferring to stroll along on his own, pointing out kids he knows and greeting them, petting Max the Siamese cat, lobbying to take the "short cut"(about half again as long). We've had to have discussions about how most kids are freaked out by being hugged, especially at or near school or in public-it's kinda part of his boggle. He does well on those walks at stopping at corners and waiting for Dad. I only have to tell him to stop once or twice, as opposed to his usual three or four times when he's doing something at home-again, part of his boggle, hard to get his attention.

This last week he has decided it's better to drive there. The first couple of days he wanted me to park the car so I could still walk him to his classroom. Now he'd rather I just drop him off in the turn out so he can walk in on his own, like a "big kid".

I still watch him until he passes by the principal at the door, often stopping for a hug, and is in the school building itself.

Time, as they say, marches on.

I'm going to miss walking him to school.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Noticing, again...

Slide one: Outside, I'm looking at vibrant green moss growing at the base of the plain cement step. Up close at near macro level, the moss presents as fractal, organic and living, against the backdrop of the step. The step by contrast is almost geometrically angular, man made and dead, though it is arguable that even those fused together grains of sand hold some common spark of energy from which, surely all life flows.

This is the kind of stuff that seems of compelling presence to me. Important that someone, apparently me, notices it and stores it away in woefully fallible memory for the record. You know, those records that are in our minds, constantly being made of everything in our lives, to be retrieved at the end by God - someone, or something. Again and again it seems important to me that these small things, small lessons, small miracles of juxta-position or other, be consciously witnessed by someone, and if not me, then who?

Even though I've been ill, chronically if not critically, for some time now. Even though that illness has caused much set back and trouble, fiscal and emotional, even though all those issues are of a certain urgency, I still find these small moments of noticing to be of large, perhaps larger, importance .

It seems a thousand times a day.

Hey, I'm a busy guy.

You just can't see it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


My older brother G. used to live right next to University of Utah. One night while I was visiting him he wound up having to go down the block to deal with a noise issue. Young presumably college guys were playing loud guitars from a second floor-over the side walk balcony. He did not go to tell them to knock it off, but rather so he could tune up their guitars for them. Imagine being young college guys thinkin' yer Rockin' out cool when some old(40ish) guy comes down the side walk, stops under your balcony and says "look, if you're going to do that, at least let me tune em up for ya boys" life is full of small, cool, yet humbling moments.

Just for fun, here's video from a friend of mine -
Back Porch Buddah - Neighbors

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back to school

Aaron, 6, started the first grade this week.

I was really surprised the first day when he woke and immediately went into full blown sobbing about "But, they won't like me!" After much discussion a /o attempted fatherly type encouragement we finally got down to the point of I gotta go to work, you gotta go to school. Of course once we got him out the door he was fine.

We've been walking the four blocks to school together. It's been good morning Father-Son time.
That's all I've got to say about that.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Why Parenting blogs are like Love - Seriously.

Parenting - it never ends :-)

Recently I've seen Parenting  Blogs mentioned offhandedly in the same way, with the same dismissive "oh, so not cool, so not cerebral enough" fashion that years ago might be reserved for "Peace, Love & Understanding".

Ok, let's reserve peace & understanding for another discussion. There's only so much this father's ineffective little brain can deal with in one go.

Often, I have been as guilty as the next guy of seeing a heart symbol and rolling my eyes & thinking "I love you. You love me. Isn't our love just sweet as can be?" blech.

But those of us who love big know love isn't like that don't we? To some of us the symbol of the heart, (think FLAMING HEART) is actually a symbol of no small import or strength, but rather one invoking recognition of great power, both light and dark. It's not all sunshine and roses, beer and skittles as they say. It's about such heavy duty stuff as compassion, sacrifice, hard emotional work, days and nights of hard fought battles with THE DARK SIDE, as it were.  Think Suzanne Vega's BOUND, or even Z Z Top's BREAK AWAY.  And of course it doesn't have to be about romantic love. Brotherly love or Parental Love can be/is just as big and powerful and full of potential heart break, doom, disaster, fall and hopefully rise as any romantic love, perhaps in many cases more so.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you(or maybe it's me) saying, tell us something we didn't know.

Parenting Blogs are as popular as they are for a good reason. It's BIG-HEAVY-STUFF. Just like Love, part & parcel, as they say, of same. If you're a long time parent you know this, or should, already. But perhaps if you're a non-parent, a new parent, maybe an empty nester now busy with otherwise real life or even are a busy parent who just thinks "Yeah, parenting - just something we do, why talk it to death?" you might not get the why of parenting blogs. Why is because, I think, that for many of us it's THE BIGGEST TRIP WE WILL EVER TAKE. We're filling up bandwidth, eating up disk space and brain space with it cause we're exploring it, trying to make sense of it all, looking for support and giving support, or maybe - just maybe - even just wanting to celebrate it.

All kids have, or are, issues to deal with. Some more than others - differently abled is one current term for some of it.  Take the above mentioned and now square it, upping the difficulty rating and attendant worry,
pride(or self shame), protectiveness, etc., etc., etc. accordingly. The same can be said for other factors - financial hardships, world weirdness, dangerous environments, or just plain head stresses. Yours or the child's.

Did I actually have a point here?  Oh, yeah, I kinda did. It's for myself as much as the collective "you".

The next time you see that cute little pink Heart, or a Parenting Blog mentioned, please, let us all remember, if we might tend to not.  Remember to Recognize & have a  little Respect, a little Pride and simultaneously a little Humility, before the awesome Power of love, and the burden of the Weight of the World, that is Parenting, that is Love.

And now, just for grins, here's Elvis Costello & friends doing a Nick Lowe song.
Yeah, that's Bob's boy Jakob(Dylan) with them.

(What's so funny 'bout) Peace Love & Understanding

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Bath

It's s Sunday evening and Aaron, 6, has just come in from playing across the street at A_____'s  house. It's time for THE BATH. This is always a big deal. He's six. It shouldn't have to be a big deal. It almost always is. We're talking full blown screaming, thrashing, takes two adults to wash his hair kind of big deal. It's bad enough that I sometimes worry that the neighbors might call the cops because they might think we're killing him over here.

Later-After tonight's bath - he shouted(no, screamed) from his room that if he has to take a bath after going to A____'s house, then he doesn't want to go there anymore and he's not her best friend(which he is), he's not going to any one's house, he's just going to stay here all day. I explained to him that whether he went anywhere or not, he still has to have baths.

Did I mention that's he's been diagnosed as mildly autistic (by one bunch, the other bunch isn't sure, I suspect because if they say he is then they have to allot a whole different, greater set of school district assets to him).

I wondering if this is par for this course, or if it's just his own personal weirdness.

Onward through that fog.

Monday, August 2, 2010


We are, most of us, surrounded by technical objects. Eventually they all break down. One of the problems with being poor, borderline in my case, is that when this happens you just have to live with it.

The little remote clicker for my car's locks/alarm quit working. Got a new battery. It didn't help. I can't unlock with the clicker and if I unlock with the key, the alarm goes off. I had to just disconnect the horn. Ho-hum.

The mp3 player on my blackberry has to be re programmed every day before I can use it. I use it a lot working by myself on boats. It helps my rhythm, and also drowns out the constant loud ring in my ears.

Now my laptop will only charge when it's turned off.  This really cuts down on how long I can be on it at a time. In the time it has taken to write this it's used about 10% of it's charge. No long sessions for me.

I should shut down now.

Sometimes being poor really sucks. Having said that, I realize that many, many people would love to be "affluent" enough to have the issues I've described, that "poor" can be a relative term. I guess what I'm struggling with is trying to get over that hump to not being "poor", to being "normal", at least by American standards.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

music 101 - Colvin & Krause

One of those tunes that my children & grandchildren should know about, in order to have a well rounded familiarity with relevant music of our time..

Shotgun Down the Avalanche

Take note, this vid will self- segue into a series of vids including, but not limited to Suzanne Vega.

The other thing I wanted to show you today is a slide show presentation from Home on the Fringe 
who unfortunately just don't post very often. They do great banners, etc. if you're in need of.  It seems to be a kind of travel log vid, but it could well be the best pro-tourism commercial  ever not broadcast(to my knowledge).
welcome to Portland & near

Friday, June 18, 2010

backpack-cat spray

Well, it's about a new backpack and a cat...and moving a young relative..

Not long ago I went to help my son move. It went OK - for not having a truck.

There were two ill trained cats there. I saw one of them climbing in and out of open car windows. I kept my Subaru closed, except while I was going back and forth to load a dresser in the back.

In the front seat was my new Swiss Guard day pack - made by Wenger, one of the two real Swiss army knife companies, guaranteed for life, pricey and a joy to use everyday.

Got done loading, got in the car AND SMELLED CAT!

It turns out that my new pack got cat-sprayed. You know, that territorial scent gland thing they do. Yup, right on the front of my new day pack, which I DO use every day.

That was three weeks ago and no amount of Fabreeze, etc. has diminished the funkiness. I don't want to have to wash the pack, but may have to. It's hard on packs.

I'm sure this will be hilarious at some point in the future.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Things we Know how To Do

Aaron said "I know how to drive, Dad." He is six. He does not know how to drive.

He knows how to sit on my lap and "help" steer as I back the car out of the garage.

I remember thirty years ago when I "knew" how to do life (and what death meant.)

Was I just sitting on God's lap playing with the Big(steering)Wheel of Life, the Universe and Everything?

Aaron likes to think he knows how to drive.,

I let him think that, as others have let me think I knew things.

He and I will both have to learn as we go.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Talk

     My son Aaron is six.  The other day I had to give him The Talk. No, not THAT Talk
(though it's coming soon enough-he Really. Likes. Girls.) This was the other talk.  No, not the Death talk either, we've done that(and will again, I'm sure)

No this is the talk about "When you see something on t.v., or the net, or yes perhaps in print....and you get it home, and you follow the info-graphics, and just isn't right. No, Dad can't make it be right either. No, If we took it back to the store for that they would give us another one JUST LIKE IT, and it still wouldn't be right, cause this thing or that isn't made quite right.

It takes a long time to get that essential not rightness of the world across to kids.  Some, more than others.

And, it's always kind of sad when you have to see when it clicks with them. That little, corresponding click in their eyes, the slight fading or brightening of the light in their eyes from the shock and disappointment. If tears are gonna happen, it's usually then.

It's not the shock of Dad can't fix this because it just IS, or about a particular toy. It's nothing that easy.

It's about trust in the rightness of the world, just a little thing the kids may hardly notice themselves sometimes.

But, you'll see that look again, and you know it... and again...and again...

The balance trick here is perhaps to help them trust in the rightness of the world again. Point out those little extra-rights and better than imagined things that occur in our worlds. Positive affirmation time.

And you still gotta be honest about that "some things, some times just aren't gonna be right, or maybe even alright" thing. And that has to be alright too.

What did I leave out?

Standing in the back garden, blinking in the unusual sun, like some just un-earthed thing,  I'm startled by a sudden loud buzzing just to one side of my head. It is not, as I thought for a split second, the world's largest bumble bee. I've just been buzzed by a humingbird. Is that good luck or just a good omen, either would be fine, really.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Suzzy V - go find her & listen

Ok, this one is very hard to find for free on the net(legally, which is how I roll...)

Find a copy of Suzanne Vega's Beauty & Crime. No, Really, Go-Find-It.(yes, right now) Tracks 7  and 8. Bound & Unbound. The string arraignments alone in Bound would make it worth finding, Lyrics will cut you deep, if you've ever been where of she's relating.  Over tones - haunting.  Unbound starts out seeming almost "Walkin' on Sunshine" pop, then redeems itself admirably.  It works as a stand alone piece, but works best following bound. Kind of like sherbet after a really heavy-duty red curry dish. 

The rest of the collection is also very good, but these two cuts especially are ... Favs.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day with Ginny & Aaron

This last Sunday was, of course, Mother's Day.  After a leisurely morning we headed off down the road to the Evergreen Aviation Museum near McMinnville . It's where they keep the famed Spruce Goose, which may yet be the largest airplane to ever fly. Certainly the largest wooden one. It's really huge. Aaron went BANANAS in all his Mildly Autistic six year old Glory. Besides seeming frantic to see/hear/do EVERYTHING. AT. ONCE. he really enjoyed himself. He was, at times, as frustrated with my direction as I was with his apparent lack of attention to directives(I know, it's part of his thing). I did my best to kid wrangle in as good a combination of tolerance and effectiveness as could. It was definitely a balancing act.  

Ginny, bless her heart, was typically mellow and tolerant towards both of us and our usual fray of wills and wants.  I think she was just glad to get out of the house and be with her "boys" somewhere different.

In the end, it's the memories, greatly if not exclusively happy, that count for all of us I think.

'nuff said.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Middle Aged Grooming

You know you're Middle Aged Man when you cut the inside of your ear lobe - shaving. Or say, when you find that you now require reading glasses to shave. Shown: that tricky up-under the reading glasses eye brow trim.  Some times I seem to feel & remember the full wieght and circumstances of my life and times that brought me to where I find myself now.  Other times, I still seem to be looking out of the eyes and mind of my youth. Like Billy, in Slaughterhouse Five, who frequently became "unstuck in time".  I often have this fleeting wonder as I wake, where and when I'll be when I open my eyes.   One of my Grandaughters just celebrated her fourth birthday today. Happy Brithday, Zoe!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Aaron's night out

Last evening, the Fam went to McDonald's. That's unusual. Nutrition, Economics, yada, yada.

Aaron's elementary school was having a "Mc'Teacher's Night". His school teachers were there, busing tables, selling cookies, etc. The school is to get 20% of the night's take. Happy Meals Everywhere! There was running(back and forth to the play ground thing), and screaming(none in pain or fright though), There were flat screen monitors on the wall, playing Disney Channel(i-Carly).  He had a great time. We had a good time. It was...ok, no, better than ok.  ON one level, I should be concerned that A: It's McDonald's - WITH our school. Big Corporate McDonalds. Hmmmm......B: Um, Cholesterol. Ah, well, perhaps once in a great while won't send us all to early graves or Hell, aye?

Friday, April 2, 2010

working on a boat, rock reviews 101

This is the last one. Gel coat is a bitch. I've been working on gel coat, learning how to coax a factory like finish onto a basically messed up hull. For about ten years. If I haven't got it down now, I'm not gonna.  I can get some good results.It just costs me too much. Too much time, makes it very hard to make any money. a repair job is only worth so much.  Too much worry, Is this gonna work?  Did I just create a lot more trouble for myself?   Is this going to be done in time for the owner's schedualed departure?

Still, there are times, when all one can do is sand it, see what you've got.  And that's a good time, sometimes. It can be very Zen-craftsman feeling.  While I'm doing that, I like to listen to music on the headphones as I go.   Some of those tunes, from the 70's, the 80's , 90's and even now are timeless classics. More than that, they are, as someone said,  Instruments of Truth.

Yesterday, at  one point, I had called up some mid Seventies Steely Dan. Countdown to Ecstasy.  Boston Rag. Walter Becker on guitar, Donald Fagen, keyboards.  Musically, technically, and lyrically, these two guys create a powerful team. To me, a fifty something father, grandfather, continuing rock devotee, regular guy(mostly), this is music my children and grandchildren need to know.  More important history than who did what to who back when. To that end,  I'm thinking of a series of reiviews, or possibly just relistens of old and new music. We'll call it Boomer Music 101.

This is not one of those.  I  don't have time today to get into that depth on one.  But just for kicks, go to the link below. Watch. Listen.  NO, really, LISTEN....

 I'm going to hope here, that you are a person who is capable of being moved by music. Not just the lyric message, but the sound, the POWER IN THE SOUND.  Can you find some Indescribable Wow of something true in a guitar solo, a keyboard rift, a rhythm beat?  Check out the guitar solo towards the end of Boston Rag.

How can a sound,  a simple or complex set of vibrations, translate in our brains to impressions of memories, emotions, feelings we can relate to as very deeply personal and yet as universally experienced as any part of the human condition.

more latter

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cleaning out the work shop

Today I was watching Don lower a green plastic drain pipe into a trailer with  a John Deere tractor. The pipe was maybe thirty two inches in diameter by twelve feet long. One end was sawed off at about a forty five degree angle. The other, the factory bell end, is the female end of a joint.They are just like the joints on a stalk of bamboo. Suddenly, I'm standing there watching Don load the world's largest cutting of Lucky Bamboo into a trailer.  I guess these days a fellow might need a really big piece of lucky bamboo.

Standing at an old work bench later. I"m cleaning off a lot of small but vastly handy tools, bits, drivers, small pressure and vacuum gauges, parital rolls of teflon plumbing tape, probably a gazillion screws, bolts and sundry other fasteners, many small bits of wire, and, and, and. There was about thirty or forty years worth of  accumulated small odds, ends, time savers and sometimes essential little things that Uncle Bill had on the back of his work bench. He died back last November.  We still do some work on boats and stuff out of there, but we also figure on having to move out of the rented space to make room for the new owners - like any time now. So....Sorting through all these small, dusty objects of utility, I can't help but hear Bill saying " you're going to want to have that right where you can get ahold of it when you need it."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blue River Anthology

I've got a permanent link to Mr. Krieger's site down on the port side of this blog, but I really wanted you to see this part. You can get to the rest of his stuff from here. Beautifully crafted images that actually seem to mean something.  Ok, the old guy with the sheep is just slightly creepy, maybe it's just me.

Blue River Anthology

       I've got RUSH boat job in the shop we're about to be in a rush to move out of.  In last December there was plenty of time. Now there's not and I'm having my usual gel coat issues and thank God I've finally decided this is going to be my LAST ONE OF THESE F-ING GEL COAT JOBS!

      NO-REALLYREALLYREALLY!!!!!  Other people, some of whom know, say my results in fiberglass/gel coat work are good. Sometimes, really good.  The thing is, it costs me way too much in time, aggravation and general stress.  Since I already have a couple of different stress related illnesses, I think it's time to drop this particular stress bucket.  There is other boat work out there that is at least as lucrative and a lot less damaging to me.

     I step out back of the house. I turn my eyes to the sky. I'm watching the clouds, watching the fir trees and feeling the wind.  I've done this probably a thousand times.  I'm always looking to the sky.  I think it's a way of centering myself with the world.  "We are all of us in the gutter.  Some of us a lookin' at the Stars" - Chrissy Hyndes, -Message of Love.

At attempt at what music looks like, and a good one

Infographic of the Day: All Music Should Look Like This | Design & Innovation | Fast Company

I don't know squat about the term infographic. I know, as they say, what I like. When you go to Fast Company's page scroll down past the 1st image to the actual video. Watch.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Writers' Dojo A place for writers in Portland

I came across this site/blog while noodling around G-chrome for PORTLAND bloggers. I think it's a great idea. Don't think I'm enough of a writer to justify the expense yet. Perhaps though, that's kinda how one might get to be enough of a writer to hang with professional writers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Life goes on

It's been about a month, so I guess it's time to check in here.

Yay! I finally, thru the efforts of our local Geek Squad, have my inherited lap top on wireless. This is a good thing. I will now be able to be online at the same time as my wife or son, without going through complex negotiations or feeling guilty about wrestling the desk top away from one of them.

I can also recline on sofa or the "Dad chair", which is what we sometimes call our old leather recliner at our house, and simultaneoulsy be on the lap top and vaguely watching t.v.
That's probably about as close to conciously multi-tasking as I try to do.
Ok, I'm notorious for not being able to talk and drive at the same time.

One really anoying thing about this lap top is that as I'm typing, the cursor is jumping back through the previous text. Several times per line. Sometimes halfway back through the previous word, sometimes a whole line or so. I suspect that it may be somthing I'm inadvertantly doing on this unfamiliar keyboard, or perhaps I'm just hoping that's it and that I'll soon figure it out, without having to call Geek Squad back for a tune up.

Health continues to be an issue. I.B.S. is not going well. more tests going on, blood work, upcoming colonoscopy(oh, That'll be fun), etc. I was not aware that one can take daily vitamins and still be "seriously" deficient in vitamin D, or that they can/will write a prescription for weekly mega-doses of same. As you might expect, all that can put a serious damper on one's self employed earning ability, as well as one's ability to make obligatory work deadlines.
Hey, it's not like a single proprietor in a service industry needs a positive reputation for time-reliability, right?

The rest of this spring is set to be rediculously busy, hectic, a little scary, um, you know life.

Yesterday, I spent four and a half hours leaning into an aft cock pit deck hatch, attempting to fix a vacuum leak in a marine head system. It was less than totaly successful. The toilet will indeed flush, however the vacuum generator refuses to hold a vacuum, so the pump continually restarts every minute or so. What that means is that none of that time and painful effort is billable, and I still need to finish the job.
Imagine, if you will,(spoken in Rod Serling voice) lying on a boat deck, supporting your weight with your chest on the fiberglass edge of a long narrow hatch, stretching across about fourteen inches, down about a foot, over a flat topped square water heater, bracing your arms at about bicep level against the under side of the opposite edge of the hatchway , down about another foot, behind the water heater to work on water heater type hoses and a human waste pump system where you can sort of see about the top half of the system and get one, sometimes two hands on the work precariously, and with little leverage....for about four and a half hours. Oh, and all the while one is doing this, there is the pervasive oyfactory ambiance of well aged human poo, requiring serious hot showering IMMEDIATELY upon home arrival. I've got one line of welts(okay, bruises) all the way across my chest, two more across both biceps, more on my inner fore arms and wrists, and yes, they are pretty damn sore. And oh, did I mention I've still got to go back and fix the system, or - wait for it....switch the whole system over to a different type of electric system. NOW WE'RE HAVING FUN! It's good to have work, It's good to have work, It's good to have work.
Took AAron & his mom for new tennis shoes the other day. He is ecstastic with his new Sketchers light up "racing" shoes. He went out to the patio in the dark last night and did a little tap dancing type light show. It was actually kinda psychodelic. Kids get to actually display how adults sometimes feel about our new shoes.
Now I've gotta go talk to the boat head factory tech guy, then probably start researching ways and costs of changing to a new system.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Why we wear bike helmets

Hi, My name is John, and it's been two and a half months since my last post.

Yesterday, it was a beautiful Spring-like day here in Portland. After helping a cousin with moving some guy-stuff(dirt bikes, power tools, wooden boat, etc.), My son, 6-ish, and I went for a short bike ride around the neighborhood. As we got started, I noticed his helmet, mandatory in these parts, was too loose. Naturally he behaved as though I were killing him during the strap adjustment - "It's too tight, Too Tight! T'T'TOO TIGHT!, AHHHHH!!!!". I finally had to resort to the "No hemet, no ride" decree.
Off we went down the sidewalk, to the paved path through the "don't stop here" apartment area(really, don't stop there, it's just not pretty), over to his grade school four blocks away, back up the "you have to push me" incline and almost home. That's when I, the intrepid biking dad, managed to dump over an eighteen speed fully macho mountain bike while going up a eight inch curb. I of course flipped over the handle bars at somthing bordering on the speed of Yikes, with aproximately the force of a 140 lb sand bag, and landed crookedly on my head and shoulder, all with my son coming towards me six feet away and watching the whole thing with fascinated awe. Bouncing back up very quickly and remounting the bike in typical "nobody-else-saw-that-right?" fashion worthy of any house cat, I casually said "Now son, did that totally on purpose demonstration adequately illustrate why we wear helmets and keep them on tight?" (yeah, I sometimes speak that way to my 6-tomorrow son - it's a gift, right?) He excitedly responded that yes, he saw that now. Of course, he had to tell his Mom ALL-ABOUT-IT ... IMMEDIATELY.

I'm fine, by the way.