Monday, December 15, 2014


Things haven't exactly gone according to my plan, but then, what does? I'm going to call a hiatus at the least to this blog, and there is no knowing what the future holds. But in whatever time I have, I'll be occupied with my kids and their world.

I have enjoyed writing here, and have been quite taken with the type of relationships that are formed in this ethereal world.

Take care all, be as happy as you can. I'll leave you with a quote from Willy the Shake:

"If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made."


Friday, November 7, 2014

Ok, here's what we need.

You, all 37 of you under the best circumstances. Nearly 0.0000000007 percent of the US population, so I have an audience. So listen up.  Yeah, I might have left a couple zero's out, nevermind that.

Writer pauses here, hoping people will pay more attention than his kids did, Realizes this is a futile hope, wonders how much beer is in the fridge

Here it is: We need someone to comment on the news, in the blogs we frequent, daily. Or at least every couple days. Ok, once a week would work. But someone. You, yeah you out there! I'm talking to you. Do it. Feature the top stuff, put your spin on it. The small stuff too. We'll not criticize, or at least not much. Ok, there might be a few 'suggestions', or possible 'alterations' to the piece you might have made, but it's all made in a helpful way. "You fucking idiot' can be spun several ways, eh?

So one of you, step up. Don't think of yourself as a sacrificial lamb, please. I'm assured the readers will whisper kind things in your ear as they draw the razor across your throat.

Some suggestions for you, as that guy in black and white said, Rod what's his name... "For your consideration"....things to offer your opinion on:

From the NY Times

Or here, from a blogger I found through another, a good outdoor blog. It's interesting to wonder about her, and the blog. It's just one of many posts, she has time to write a lot.

What I'm interested in is your opinions, what you think.


Racial differences, real or imagined? If so, what does that mean?

Can I just quit trying, or is this something that has some legs, if short ones?

It's starting winter here, nothing else to do. Give me some slack.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

River: The Birds

There are birds here.
I hold in my heart an absolute sorrow for birds, a sorrow so deep that at the first light of day when I shiver like reeds fluttering in a cold fall wind I do not know whether it is from the cold or from the sorrow. Whether I am even capable of feeling such kindness. Perhaps I am. The herons have taught me that.

One rainy winter dawn I stood beneath gray clouds with my arms up stretched, dripping in my cotton shirt (it was clear earlier, I did not heed the wind), staring at the sand at my feet, when I felt the birds alight. I first felt the flutter of golden plovers against my head, then black turnstones landing softly on my arms. The red phalarope with their wild artic visions, fighting the wind to land, prickling my shoulders with their needling grip. Their delicate bones denying the weight of anguish I felt from the journeys these birds had come.

Beneath the weight I recalled the birds of my childhood. I had killed a robin with a new BB gun. I thought the name of the kittiwake funny. Later, much later in life when my father died I wondered if the remaining uncles would want his fly rods. I coveted then in cold contradiction to my grief. Feeling watched I turned from his bed in the ICU and saw ravens watching me, perched on the bare branches of a cottonwood. They waited.

I became tired beyond the limits of what was capable, and lay on the sand, damp but warm.

When I awoke the sky had cleared. In the damp sea air I could smell cedar smoke, a cabin just up the mouth of the river. I felt from here I could see far, up to the headwaters. The plovers had told me what the herons do at night, what the tears they shed added to the mingled memories and guilt's of the people living along the river equaled.

The herons have tried to teach me, but I am still incapable of absorbing what they have to offer. I watch one across the river, just before the reeds on the other bank. Perhaps you know it is raining. The intensity of your stare is then not oblivion, only an effort to spot between the rain drops in the river, past your feet, the movement of small trout.

I know, your way is to be inscrutable. When pressed you leave, the dark grey of your wings fading into the mist. I wonder about the way you seem to brood about the water. Is it more than fish? Do you wonder what your tears have become, have transformed as they flowed downstream?

A dream, like all of my dreams, reveal something but not all. The dream told me that someday we will dance together. Before then I will have to become a trout, and bear scars from your stabbing, rare, misses.

Monday, October 27, 2014

And the beat goes on.....

Another school shooting in Seattle, the third in the last two years. Since 2010, these type of shootings, killings, have increased threefold in the US.

I read an article in the Seattle Times this morning, the most recent update at the time. Then I went to the comments, at that point there were 714. The first, last and 90% of those between were variations on 'it isn't guns' , 'it's our morals', etc. Most were laced with 'this is just another example of the liberals trying to disarm us.'

The current rate, nationally, is one like this every three weeks. So, 18 days and counting.

I read a column in the NY Times today, the writer made the point that even if we instituted much more stringent gun control laws little would change for 5 years, and it would take decades to match the statistics of deaths per populations of Europe. Yet, they did it. We're saying that this is acceptable, the deaths of our children, it's an acceptable loss.

What I'm saying here is nothing less than a Canadian/UK/Germany/Japan style of gun control will actually work. Handguns need to be under such strict control as to be almost impossible to possess. It will take decades, decades. But if not us, who? If not now, when? (I feel I can use RFK's words, I was 15 feet from him listening to his words 6 hours before he was killed).

Yet, here we are, unable to have banned assault weapons that have no purpose except to kill lots of people quickly. Two years since Sandy Hook, and here we are. So just wait, less than three weeks.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Movies and taking my meds.

Ok, I'm back. Taking my meds again, and aside from a minor face twitch I'm fine.

The subject today is movies. Odd movies you like that no one else does. I'll list a few, then you do the same.

1. Two Lane Blacktop.  Most have never heard of it. The characters have no names, and there are only a few of them. We got James Taylor as the Driver, Dennis Wilson as the Mechanic, Warren Oates as GTO, Laurie Piper as the Girl, but the real scene stealer is a '55 Chevy. The movie has no discernible plot line, and simply ends by the film catching on fire.

2. What's New Pussycat.  It has not aged well, made in '65. Peter Sellers, Peter O'Toole, and the first movie Woody Allen was in, along with several actors and actresses from that period. I saw it at least 5 times in 1965. A friend of mine and I rented it, she'd heard me say what a good movie it was. She snickered all the way through, and not in a good way.

3. Once Upon a Time in the West. How many times have you seen Henry Fonda as a really evil bad guy? And Jason Roberts has a great role. Charles Bronson plays pretty much himself.

4. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.  It's directed by David Lynch, says it all. Get a damn good cup of coffee and watch it.

5. The President's Analyst. Released in 1967, James Coburn as a shrink to the president of the US. First movie I ever saw that forecast the privacy concerns of our era, with the phone company as the bad guy.

Ok, you're turn.

Friday, October 24, 2014

To the new people reading, let's be clear.....

I've noticed some new readers, some from a blog that I read occasionally, commenting seldom. I don't comment on this blog often because most of the time I'm 180 degrees away in opinion.

So....I'm a liberal, capital L. I'd like to amend the 2nd amendment considerably. I oppose all laws limiting abortion. I like government....I like my roads, my water system, I pay my taxes happily.....and I'd wager that before I retired my taxes were more than your entire block. Or row of trailers, if the case.

I think the nra (not in caps on purpose) has perverted their mission from decades ago, and should be taxed like any company representing the gun manufacturers.

I'm a gun owner who would gladly give them up. I think the 'open carry' movement is sponsored by the nra at the manufacturers behest, and the people who support it are at best misguided. I don't think there is a 'bad guy' around every corner, and I don't think I'm going to meet one in K-Mart. Unless it's an open-carry nut.

I'm not religious, not one little bit. I think most of them are perversions of what we should aspire to.

I believe in a good curve ball, the line going out in a tight loop, the fly landing lightly on the water. I believe in the CT scan, the feeling of walking into a rural bar at night, the bartender nodding in recognition. I don't think all the GOP are bat-shit looney, just the ones since Eisenhower.

Just so we know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

River, the beginning

This was intended to be the first installment, but it got sidetracked. Think of it as an introduction, not a guide, but perhaps it will explain some. The story, which had kept popping up in my mind for some time, was prompted by older relatives, dad, the uncles and aunts. Life on the Oregon coast in the 30's, 40's and 50's, and my knowledge of the coast since then. In these stories, my wife appears in the upriver section, and like the upriver, she's never vanished. My friend Quinn, died in a boating accident on the Rogue in '63, chatted with me in a dream once and approved of a description of the river.  You may have to go back to the stories to understand. Anyway, here 'tis:

River, the beginning

I began each day like this, as though it were the last. I know the last days will be here, where the sun runs into the ocean, that I will see in a movement of sea birds and hear in the sound of water beating against the earth what I now only imagine, that the ocean has a sadness beyond even the sadness of herons, that in the running into it of rivers is the weeping of the earth for what is lost.

By evening, when confirmation of those thoughts seems again withheld, I think of going back upriver, up to the log jam, past where the stump is jammed, or even beyond, to the headwaters, to begin again.

I will tell you something. It is to the thought of the river's banks that I most frequently return, their wordless emergence at a headwaters, the control they urge on the direction of the river, mile after mile, and their disappearance here on the beach as the river enters the ocean. It occurs to me that at the very end the river is suddenly abandoned, that just before it's finished the edges disappear completely, that in this moment a whole life is revealed.

It is possible I am wrong. It is impossible to speak with certainty about very much.

It will not rain for the rest of the day. Lie down here beside me and sleep. When you awake you will feel the pull of warm winds and wish to be gone. I will stand somewhere on the beach staring at the breakers, the scampering of sanderlings, thinking I can hear the distant murmuring of whales. But I can as easily turn inland, and go upriver.

When you awake, if you follow the river into the trees up the valley I will be somewhere ahead or beyond, like the herons.

When you are overwhelmed with feeling,  when your fingers brush the soft skin of a deer-head orchid , or you see a house ahead, near the river bank beyond the falls, you will know a loss of guile, and the beginning of the journey.

Come find me. We have much to see.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Post in Two Parts

Why watching a Anthony Bourdain show on Rome isn't a good idea before having dinner. 

Last evening was a football evening, I was going to watch my Ducks in their yearly dismantling of the Huskies, so I needed a easy-to-cook dinner. Some linguini from a package, a jar of marinara sauce with garlic and peppers added. Perfectly adequate. Then, while waiting for the game to start I played a episode of "No Reservations", it was on Rome. As you're aware, it's mostly about eating. The pasta and various Rome specialties. When I got my dinner and looked at it, I could only sigh at the ordinary looking plate of pasta.


So I got out the folder of pictures taken when my daughter and I were there last, just to re-capture the feeling.

Friday, October 17, 2014

"Joy is converted, to bittersweet tears"

If I could spend a day and evening anywhere in the world, this might just be it.Play it full screen size.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola and the vectors of transmission

There has been a lot of news and opinions the last couple days about the nurse in Dallas who has been infected with the Ebola virus.

The outbreak in West Africa where her patient contracted his virus is currently the largest by a huge margin since Ebola was first identified in 1976. Prior to this the deaths were limited to smaller villages, and the total deaths would be around 10. This time it's above 4,400, and increasing. Current thoughts are that the number of infected is at or above 10,000, and rising at a current rate of 1,000 per week.

Consider that the mortality rate in those who are diagnosed is around 70%. We're talking 700 deaths per week, and it could increase through November. These are all stats from the CDC and Doctors Without Borders.

There is one major train of thought in the current outbreak as to the contagion, and another that has few numbers supporting it, but has not been ruled out by the majority.

The predominant theory as to why this one is exponentially larger is it's origins in cities, rather than the small villages, which were largely isolated. This coupled with their inability to handle the isolation requirements to protect workers at the hospital. This is supported by the fact that the alpha case, Patient Zero, was treated at a small hospital in a city, undiagnosed for a day. Of the 4 doctors that initially treated him, 3 died of the disease. All the phlebotomists also died who drew blood from him.

The alternate thought is that is found a way to mutate, to develop other vectors of transmission. An example given is that it has a respiratory/ventalitory means of transmitting the disease.

In understand the issue, and assessing the potential for threat, one needs to know the virus.

In order for a virus to transmit to others by their breathing, it is necessary for the virus to be present in the infected person's throat, large and small bronchi, or the lungs. Currently the Ebola virus have not been found in that area on those infected. The protein coating each virus has been identified as having the ability to adapt in blood, to disguise it's self and fool immune systems, allowing it to multiply.

So how did this nurse, in full contamination regalia, become infected?  I can think of a hundred ways, everything from a near-microscopic hole in her gloves, to a small tear in her sleeves, on and on.

Here's where Ebola is scary:  the concentration of virus per unit of blood. HIV, smallpox, the viral load in the blood. The higher, the worse in any virus. Comparing HIV, Smallpox and Ebola, the first two shrink to microscopic images, compared to Ebola. Over a million times greater concentration of virus per unit.

This means, if I can speculate, back in the day I and many, many other had direct exposure to HIV. Treated a lot of them, at some point I'm sure I got blood on my skin, saliva, etc. I never got it. Were it Ebola, I'd not be here.

The really scary part is scientists are hedging their bets on how fast it is mutating. The fact is, we don't know where this current outbreak is going, and how many it will kill. Or if it can successfully spread to a northern climate.

I guess we'll find out. Just an evening's thoughts.

Oh, and Ebola and The Vectors of Transmission might be a good name for a rock band.....

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A few hours early: Friday Flashbacks

Karen (taken down by request, should have asked her first.)

Me, to the right

1968. I guarantee everyone there would have rather been somewhere else. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Rainy night, the prelude to the last story

It was 2000, November I think I was in Portland, staying at a friends house, there on business. Evening, maybe around eight, I took a walk from her house around the neighborhood in SE Portland. Raining, like much of the winter in the Northwest, a light rain, but constant.

A half hour later, walking along in my gortex hood I was lost in thought. Work, the project ahead up on the hill, the kids, life. Dim light, the streetlights on the corners near gone by the middle of the block. Walking, looking down.

The next happens in time measured by milliseconds, or in a lifetime. Depends. As I walked, looking down a branch across the sidewalk appeared. Four or so inches off the concrete, straight across. My foot moved toward it, 6 inches away, swinging forward in a stride.

The sidewalk wasn't concrete, it wasn't a sidewalk. It was a path through the jungle. The branch wasn't a branch, it was a wire.

As my shoe continued on it's journey to the branch, time changed. It was no longer 2000, and I wasn't planning on how to exploit the upcoming worry about what would happen to medical computers. It was 1967, and my foot was about to hit a wire that would trigger a mine.

A quarter-second passed, my foot nearing the wire, and I went over in my mind what would happen next: The mine would go off, my lower legs would be gone if I was lucky.

The thing was, I couldn't stop my leg from moving, my foot from completing the journey.

As it hit the wire I knew I was gone. All was lost. Despair I'd never felt before, all the things I thought I'd do (knew I did do) were gone.

I walked on, the rain still falling.

Then I remembered the boy, losing his legs, then his life. The nurse who helped him with the process, made his passage easier.

The next morning I was in my best Nordstrom's suit up on the hill, shaking hands with a primary investigator of a study. In my mind, tucked away, was the memory of Karen, and all she did.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Last day until June

Last day of the Farmer's Market, I should say. It runs during the summer, featuring local produce and the other things one sees at these things.....handcrafts, etc. It's our only opportunity to get really fresh produce and fruit. Odd that city-dwellers like Seattle can get quality vegs year round, while country bumpkins like us have basically 2-3 months.

In the later months, August, this guy brings the melons he grows, Dixon melons. Sort of like a cantaloupe, but much, much better.

The best produce is at the Hmong farmers from over by Missoula. They came here in the 70's, during the turbulence post VN war era.

So I was up at 6 this morning for the mandatory 2 cups of coffee and read the newspapers about my miserable ducks of Oregon's football team. It's 31 outside, a nice fall day.

This is looking east from town, up at the aspens on the hillside.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

It's Root for Fiona Day

I've mentioned before that my youngest granddaughter was born with what could have been a critical medical problem. A portion of her liver was outside her abdomen, and it took a year for it to gradually ease back inside. Omitting a lot of procedures and care here. For around 3 years she got her nutrition via a port in her abdomen, a complicated procedure requiring many hours each day. For the last year she's been getting all her food orally, and doing very well.

Today she's getting the port taken out. My daughter assures me that it's a very minor procedure. Personally I want to pull DeBakey and Al Starr out of retirement and have them do it.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Memorial Day, when it just isn't enough.

The boy, he was really a boy after all, looked up from the gurney. "Where am I?" he asked, rasping voice. "Back at Da Nang, marine." the corpsman said, pushing the gurney toward the makeshift ICU. It had served as a holding unit for incoming for the last 12 hours. It was New Year's eve, noon.

He had 4 hours before been in a bunker when the first wave of infiltrators had swept across the first perimeters of Da Nang airbase. He'd been manning a section facing north, towards the gate. A young man his age had tossed into his bunker a satchel charge, landing at his feet, removing most of his legs from the knees down.

The corpsman in a bunker across the street had seen the hat less black clad young man go by, toss a parcel into the narrow space in the sandbags and run on. He tracked him with the open front sights, then put the M-16 down, running across the road to the smoke pouring out of the slots.

Inside,  both legs were shredded above the knee caps, remnants of the patella, fibula in shards. Blood was spurting out from the artery just above the knee. He tied his belt around one leg, the marine's around another, and sat back. The kid's legs above the tourniquets looked larger, the vessels were damaged above the wraps.    He remembered a  package the station hospital had gotten from  Bethesda shortly before. 

In the office of the station hospital a block away was the package. MAST trousers, compression pants that would cut off circulation below the waist.

He got them on the kid, one of the legs buckled at the knee, the kid passed out, but he got them on and inflated them. Slowly the young man regained color. Two IV's were in, ringers lactate and the equivalent of today's packed cells. He regained consciousness. The corpsman watched other stretchers go by out the window, looked at his patient, measured the chances, decided he'd stay. After all, he'd seen it all go down. He started pulling the litter across the pockmarked roads to the station hospital.

Karen was there by then, a nurse, a lieutenant in the Navy nurse corps. He'd gotten the marine over to the pre-op, a long canvas tent with sandbags around.

"Hell happened, Mike?"

"Parcel I think, dunno. He's lost a quart or more, got these on him, it stopped it."

Stepping back he watches two surgeons move in, look, shake their heads and leave. He sits down on a folding chair. He'd been up 20 hours since the first blaring alarm had gone off. Most of that time he'd been in an emplacement firing over sandbags at vague shapes, not knowing who he was anymore. Who was he anyway, the guy doing the damage, or the one on the other end?

He sees the young marine regain awareness, look around, craning his neck. He asks where he is, how he is. Karen smiles down at him. "You're fine, marine. We've got you." His neck lifts up, he looks down. "My legs are gone?" Karen looks at him, the corpsman sees this from across the room. "Yes, they are gone. But you can do this, you can." His head slowly goes back, then comes up again. He sees the MAST trousers. "What are those?" he asks. Karen puts a hand on his shoulder. "Those are stopping the bleeding." she says.

Surgeons come in, look, examine. Words in huddle are exchanged. They move away. He sits there, watching. He felt like he had a year before when  he'd sat with Cary in a theater in DC, watching a Bergman film festival. He felt like that, watching. Cary had explained some of it to him afterward.

"I'm getting cold." the marine whispers. Karen goes over to him. "I know." she says, "We'll have to operate soon the doctors say."

The marine looks off, staring up. "It's weird, I've never been a man, you know?" His head turns and looks at the Navy nurse. "I've never been with, um, a woman. I'm not a man, like the other guys in my squad."

His eyes, from the side, 10 feet away, look pleading to the corpsman, sitting like there like silent Greek chorus. He's looking up at her. Then the corpsman sees that she smiles down at him.

Karen, the stocky 30-ish blonde nurse from San Diego looks down, her hand on his head, smoothing his hair back nods. "Yes, yes you are. A man." She leans down and kisses him on the forehead. He smiles. "Wow, can we have dinner?" Karen nods. "Yes."

Two surgeons come in, followed by a tech with a tray of instruments. The anesthesiologist puts a mask on the marines face, they deflate the trousers.

He walks back to his bunker, wondering if that nurse that gave him so much comfort, will remember in years to come, the boy she'd reassured, that she'd put together before he finally came apart.

In later years and decades, the boy watching became the man who took the nurses place. Sometimes he could do more, and that made him happy. He always remembered her though, the person who with nothing real to offer than herself, and the truth, eased someones way.

What else can we do, really, than ease someone's way?  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Bucket List(s)

Apparently after the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, this became quite the thing. I tend to not notice social phenomena, so it wasn't until a year or so ago I discovered this. So I looked at it a bit, and was surprised at some things.

The premise, as I understand it, is that one has X number of weeks/months to live. Were it years, we'd all be in the same boat. One then list what one would like to see/do before they leave this world.

Common things on the list are wishes to do things: ride an elephant, visit Bora Bora, flyboard (?). Others are visiting places not seen, going back to places, etc. The surprising thing to me is I can't find one that says "I'd like them to cure this cancer", or "I'd like to see my family get along better"...things like that.

So with that in mind, here's my 'bucket list".

1.  See a woman, leftist, feminist even perhaps but not mandatory, socialist President of the United States.

2.  See a really irritated 600 lb grizzly wander into my town on a Monday morning, around 9am.

3. Bring back from the dead Wm. Buckley and Gore Vidal and make them debate again. On Fox. Frost as moderator.

4. Have the guy who whacked my arm in the Redmond vs Bend basketball game in 1963 admit to it. I would have made that shot. It was a foul.

5. Simultaneously , across the world, whatever peas people had in their house would be in a blender. We would have 'world peace'.

6. One of my kids would have an epiphany in the middle of the night, or anytime really. They would realize what was needed in their life fishing. They would pick up the phone, call dad, pleasantries exchanged, bargains made, etc. Arrangements made. They would get a case of fly rods, fly tying materials and equipment, a check for lessons. Months later a blog would be started, showing large steelhead caught and released, plans for a trip to Alaska, etc.

Last one is stretching it, I realize. The rest, I'm still waiting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dinner and one other thing....

Uninterested in shopping today I ventured into the kitchen wondering what was for dinner. Around 5:30pm. Idle I was, not trying to put stress on the cupboards or fridge. But with certain expectations, that they, my cupboard, would be there for me, I opened the fridge.
Top shelf, little of interest. At the back there is a large cup I got 4 years ago, with aluminum foil partially covering it. I remember seeing it some years before, I ignored it.
Second shelf, a bit more promise. There's this wrapped pork chop I'd taken out of the freezer a day or so ago (don't press me for exact dates). The next three shelves showed nothing of promise.

Cupboard....I see one of those packages of oriental noodles, the microwave ones, you know what I'm talking about.

Over on the table I see some basil a neighbor had given me maybe last had dried! Great. Then I see the braid of Hmong garlic I'd gotten a week ago hanging on the wall. Then I looked down and saw the Thai chili's I got from them. Red, pencil-thin, 3-4" long, menacing looking. I'm there. I remember that in the fridge was an onion and a couple peppers, red and green. I've got a plan now.

But what to serve the sliced-thin slices of pork, 30 seconds in the cast iron "14 pan, the onions, peppers, etc
with?The examination of the cupboard had revealed the revealed thatcarton of one of those 'oriental' noodle soup....microwave 3 minutes, etc.Fine.

The noodle thingy went in the microwave, the sliced pork went in the heavy pan, and 5 minutes later.....

Anyway, to the real point of the post:

To those readers who noticed, I have two daughters, grown daughters. They live in Seattle, both living their lives. I have no idea how often the fathers of daughters talk to theirs after they are grown. I feel extraordinarily lucky in that both talk to me. It's a very rare, very, that I don't talk to them at least 2 times a week. Now, this may be because they are both checking to see if I'm still compos mentis, dunno.

Anyway, I called the eldest this afternoon, I don't remember what it was that I wanted to say, but that's unimportant. When she answered I heard laughter, hilarity actually, and the sound of two voices. Both of them, in a car, going someplace.

The rest of the 3 minute conversation was listening to them cackling at everything I said.

What a joy it is, to hear your two daughters together, outside yourself, together, living their lives. I did something right maybe. These two women are friends, sisters and more. Without me, they are still there, together.

That is a great feeling. When I'm not here, they still will be....together.

Quite grand, really.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Adorable One starts school right

First day of pre-school she apparently believes in the adage "start as you intend to continue". From the first, TAO has shown an active mind that want's to be in control of whatever situation she's in. She's never been one to sit back and watch, she wants to lead. Add to that a certain craftiness and guile, an ability to plan several moves ahead of time and a methodological approach.

Evidence of that came yesterday in the form of an email from her teacher to my daughter and son-in-law.  (S&S is modernspeak for show and tell)

From: Rachel
Sent: Thu, 11/09/2014 06:56 PM
To: Kate  (Fiona) ; Drew  (Fiona)
Subject: Fiona's delightful Show and Share

I just have to share with you how Fiona's S&S went today. I wish, more than anything, I had had somebody filming it because it was PRICELESS! She completely commanded the class. Had lovely, interesting things to say, AND (I about died) kept pausing and asking the class to say together, whatever interesting fact she'd just shared... "Everybody say 'pteranodon'." AND THEY DID! and way better than they ever repeat anything for me! It was awesome.
Thank you for sharing your sweet girl with our class. I enjoy her enthusiasm so much!
I foresee interesting times ahead for her mom and dad. 
Here's a pic from her first day. 
You can just hear her thinking "All this is mine. Mine."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Insert Ezra Pound quote here....

The weather forecast from the local rag:





Monday, September 8, 2014

Which way do you flow?

Recently I went for a drive just west of here on a secondary road that goes from near Anaconda over a pass in the Anaconda-Pintlar mountain range to the Big Hole river. The same area that I did a post about catching brookies for breakfast.

At the top of the pass a series of small springs in the mountainside form a series of beaver dams.

At this point the road above and these ponds is pointed north and south. At both ends of the series of beaver dams the ponds drain, forming small creeks. The one that flows north goes perhaps 15 miles becoming Warm Springs creek along the way.

It empties into the Clark Fork of the Columbia, then flows west and north.

Perhaps 300 miles later it joins the main stem of the Columbia.

Along the way it goes through a series of dams, mostly hydro-electric. The dams are the source of most electricity in this part of the country. If I were more poetic I'd say the water from those beaver dams are powering my laptop. Eventually the Columbia joins the Pacific at Astoria

Back to the beaver dams.....the water flowing south goes through a lovely valley, becoming larger along the way thanks to other springs and small creeks.

It joins the Big Hole river and flows generally east and south.

The Big Hole is joined by other rivers and creeks, the Beaverhead and others. These flow into the Jefferson, continuing it's journey east.

The Jefferson after many miles eventually joins the Missouri.

The Missouri at this point is crystal-clear most of the time, with some very large trout. The river wends it's way across the nation, going east and south. Along it's hundreds and hundreds of miles water is taken out for agri-business large farms, and receives water from many other rivers. Eventually it reaches St. Louis.

As you know the Missouri joins the Mississippi, and eventually the water, or at least a few drops of it, hears the music of New Orleans before it goes out into the Gulf, past the oil rigs.

All from here, east and west:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


The sun now first peeks above the mountains east of town around 7am, it's barely getting light when I get up just after 6. It's now full dark at 8:45pm. This time of year we lose around 25 minutes of light a week. A few of the older cottonwood trees are starting to turn but the lawns are still green. From my front window it still looks like summer, sort of. Ann's flowers are gone though, my bluebells are starting to shed their seeds for next year. But there's a feeling in the air, it's in the upper 30's in the morning, and while we'll probably hit 70 again, the day's of 80 are gone for several months.

While I once loved was my favorite time of year; the promise of skiing soon, the first snow coming soon, it's now something I just like. But enough maudlin whining. Just east of town it's lovely.

Some other pics from around the area: This one was taken a week ago, the snow is gone now.

This last one above is the statue of 'Our Lady of the Rockies', constructed in the 70's as a community project of sorts, it looms over town from the east ridge.

And, the fishing is good for the trout that have gotten fat over the summer.

So I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Hope your season is as enjoyable.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Labor Day came about as a holiday largely because of unions. The Seattle Times recently ran a column about a 'think tank', the Freedom Foundation, that want's to abolish the holiday. Here's an excerpt:

But to the Freedom Foundation, a business-backed Olympia think tank, the day is evidence of the power of unions, which to members equals the decline of America. Rather than stoop to taking a union-backed day off, they plan to fight the power by ... working all day Monday instead!
“I can’t think of a problem in society that can’t be traced in some way back to the abuses of organized labor, so it would be hypocritical of us to take a day off on its behalf,” said Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe.

So what exactly is so bad about organized labor? Let's look.....well, they stopped this:

Pesky unions stopped child labor exploitation, at least in the US.

Other things they were largely responsible for:

So enjoy your day off unless you have to work of course.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pizza, alas

At lunchtime today I got a call from my neighbor across the street...the one with the Saturday doughnuts. Her three boys had friends over for the day, she's ordered pizza and had a bunch left over. Did I want some?

Yeah, sure. Didn't have any plans for lunch. I haven't had pizza in some time, years in fact, with good reason.

She had Domino's deliver, she had several of these:

Sigh. I remembered why I haven't had pizza in a few years. I spent too much time in Italy in that time, and had pizza there.

I was a frequenter of Shakey's Pizza place in Bend growing up. It was fine then, have them put a bunch of stuff on top, it was fine with a coke. But then I went to Italy......

Wood ovens, thin crisp crust, fresh mozzarella di bufala (water buffalo mozzarella), a simple tomato paste and a few basil leaves and a dab of local olive oil. My daughter and I had it for the first time in Venice for lunch. We were served each a pizza, looked at it and took a bite. We wondered why we'd ever eaten anything else. The 22 year old girl across the table looked at it after a bite and said "I want to marry the cook and have his babies". I shrugged. "You've got my blessing." 

But seriously, if you've not had pizza in Naples, Rome, Florence or wherever in  I've been to 'good pizza' places here in the US, in Brooklyn, San Francisco, and they are fine, but they don't match up.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Termination Dust

While most of the country is still enjoying summer (or not, perhaps it's too hot) with a month or more to go, we're getting the first hints of what's to come.

Temps for the next 6 days are forecasted to be highs in the 50's, lows in the 30's. Snow in the mountains, rain in the valleys. It's been almost exactly 60 days since our last snowfall in June.

Still, there is plenty of time left for fall fishing, I can see Ann's flowers on her porch from where I write, and the grass is still green. Mother nature just want's to give us a little reminder she's still there.

Hope the rest of the summer is good for all and sundry.

Monday, August 18, 2014

National Guard, does it address the roots?

This is in response to Missouri's governor ordering the National Guard to Ferguson in response to the continuing protests, after imposing a curfew on the residents, and having questions.

I don't have enough information, I doubt any people not on site do either, to say what happened to the young man who's death sparked the protests. The New York Times reports the initial autopsy shows he was shot six times by the officer, which seems excessive, but the circumstances remain unknown to us.

The National Guard has at best cursory training in crowd and riot control. We have some history of their use for this;  Kent State is obvious, Detroit, Los Angeles. The governor of Missouri had in the past few hours that they would be used for specific duties, to guard the control center of the state police.

I'm assuming they have live ammo. I expect some of them might be as young as 18. It's not the Rangers, older, experienced soldiers. The possibilities of things going south are endless. So instead, perhaps we can look at why a community would erupt like this. Here's my opinion:

It's about race. All these years later, after the civil war, segregation, integration in schools, equal opportunity, it's about race. Nothing has changed insofar as we're dealing with it today, it's aftermath in some cases. We, white people, lead our lives. They, black (hispanic and asian to a lesser degree) live theirs. The two don't often intersect, and when they do it sometimes is awkward.

150 years after abolishing slavery we're still mired in the same issue. We've gone from it being legal to own another human being, able to do what we want with them, not to sudden acceptance. Until 55 years ago, if a white person walked up to and killed a black man, in most states they would be aquitted by a jury of their peers. Their peers were all white, it being difficult to impossible for blacks to participate in either the voting process or and judicial ruling as a jury.

From there, in the last few decades to real estate blockages to blacks, to school boards, city councils, police force being dominatly white in a black majority community: Ferguson.  So here we are, facing the same issues because the white community, in part, has not really changed. They've adapted. Can't block them one way, find another way. The issue of why we (those whites who don't) can't accept them as equals, as we are making slow strides with hispanics and asians, remains unadressed.

How we change things, quicken the change, is beyond me.

Langston Hughes in his poem Harlem, opened with "What happens to a dream deferred?", the last line gave the answer...."does it explode?"

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just a Fellow I worked with

A few decades ago in my profession I took a considered turn, from clinical to administrative. Turned out it was a bad idea, and the gig I liked less in my 45 years of working. As Director of Clinical Services I had oversee of 9 departments, direction, budgets, personnel, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. There was this one guy, though, that made it easier for me.

I posted about him earlier, about not trying to play practical jokes on a pathologist, titled I think "Don't Screw with a Pathologist". Don N., the hospital pathologist, medical examiner for the county, and a faculty at UW. A little older than me, big, hearty, funny.

I learned recently he'd passed on.

We fished together several times on his boat, out in Puget Sound. Once he took me and a good friend of mine out, we drifted off Seattle jigging herring, and got two small kings, around 10 pounds. When we got back to his dock he offered to fillet the fish, remarking he was 'pretty good at this'. Indeed he was, cleanly doing each fish in a matter of seconds. My buddy remarked on the knife he was using, it was unusual: blue handle, long narrow untapered blade. He looked at it. "Oh, I stopped by the morgue this morning and picked it up, figured we'd get some fish."

A really nice guy, leveled me out a couple times when I was about to commit professional suicide by in-considered demands in board meetings.  

The world is poorer with him gone.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Recollections of a cheap trip

When I was consulting for pharma's I was requested to go to Buenos Aires to assist 5 clinical trial sites that were 'underperforming', the pharma had put this clinical trial at the front of it's plans, and it was a huge trial. Around 350 different sites in Europe, the US, Canada and South America, they had invested around 50 million to this point.

This was when pharma's were feeling flush, and this particular one had a rule that any flight lasting over 5 hours would be first class rather than steerage. Off I went on a night flight from Atlanta, landing in BA at 10am. They had a car and driver waiting for me, and I learned this driver would be available to me for my planned 5 day visit. I had planned on spending a day with each site, figuring that would be enough time.

I had arrived on  a Sunday morning in August, towards the end of their winter. The weather was what one would expect of San Francisco in January, 65 or 70 during the day.

The driver took me to the hotel, on the edge of the Recoleta district, it had been chosen by the pharma's local rep, and was within walking distance of most of downtown BA. The lobby was very nice, marble floor and high ceiling.

After I checked in I asked the clerk, a young man in his 20's if the hotel could exchange some money for me. I hadn't had time before leaving. The pharma had asked me to take all the site's out to dinner, they wanted them to feel they were appreciated. I had been told that many restaurants in BA were similar to one's in Europe, and it was usual to pay in cash. I knew each site and several people working, so I had anticipated on spending well over a hundred dollars a night.

The clerk asked how much I wanted to exchange; I had brought 1,000 in cash, all in hundred dollar bills. I quoted that amount...his eyes widened and he told me I would not need that much. I didn't want to argue, so I asked if he could do 500. He hesitated, then said yes, if I would wait an hour or two.

At this time Argentina was at the end of the worst financial crisis of it's history. Prior, the exchange rate with the US had been fixed at around a 1:1 ratio, dollars to peso's. The 'official' rate was 1:4 at this time. Turns out the 'unofficial' rate was rather higher.

The clerk told me he would exchange dollars for 8 to the dollar if I would wait until he could get the cash from home. I felt a little uneasy about it, but figured that I was in a nice hotel and probably wouldn't be robbed. Other ethical considerations didn't occur to me until later.

It went smoothly, there was a safe in the room so I didn't have to carry it all around with me.

By 6pm I was tired, and wanted to eat and go to bed. I got my second surprise: no restaurants were open at that hour, and wouldn't be until at least 9pm, more likely 10pm. They eat late there.I walked around the area and found a food van selling pizza, it would do. I was asleep by 8pm.

The next morning I met the local pharma rep in the lobby, after coffee my driver took us to the first site.

I met with the site doc and staff, we sat and had coffee and chatted. By noon I was starting to get a bit nervous about the pace of things. No one seemed in a hurry to start going over the protocols and techniques. They insisted on giving me a tour of the whole place. Nice people, the doc at trained at Johns Hopkins.

When I suggested we go out to dinner they agreed. At 2 the pharma rep suggested we go to lunch, off we went to the Recoleta district. Many of the restaurants have outdoor seating.

The lunch took two hours. At 4pm  I looked at my watch and suggested we go back and start in on the protocols.  No, that wasn't going to happen; most of them had things to do at home or elsewhere. It was agreed we'd meet for dinner at 9:30 at my hotel and walk to a restaurant. I went back to my hotel with the rep and talked for a bit. She explained the pace was slower, their average work day was from 10am to around 2pm. The next day she assured me all would go better. After she left I called the pharma office in Connecticut. We agreed that this was going to take at least twice as long as planned.

For the next two weeks I had plenty of time and opportunity to explore BA. My driver was more than willing to take me sightseeing in the mornings and later afternoons.  I also found that the first night when I took a party of 6 to a dinner that lasted two hours that my cash would stretch the stay in comfort. Inflation had not yet caught up to the 'unofficial' exchange rate. That dinner included drinks before dinner, the entree and sides, 3 bottles of excellent Mendoza wine and coffee at the end. The price worked out to around 40 bucks US.

The food there was outstanding, especially if you like beef. They do it as well as anyplace in the world.

The last photo above is the largest group, the bill came to less than 100 dollars.

The Recoleta area looked more Italian than South American, the Italian influence is everywhere. The population of Argentina is less than 10% 'Mestiso', mostly Italian and German and Spanish.

And no trip to BA would be complete without a visit to the famous Cementario, or as I saw it, The City of the Dead.  And it's 'famous' cat population.  A cemetery that covers two square blocks, mausoleums like tiny houses, many had open doors that one could peer inside and see caskets, and stairs leading down into the dark. I went there on a Sunday morning fairly early and walked around. Then I started noticing the cats. All over the place, hundreds of them. Apparently it's a dumping ground for cats people don't want, and a place for people to go and feed them.

Once I got used to the slower pace and having dinner late it was quite enjoyable. The traffic was horrible though, I was glad I didn't have to drive. One thing I noticed the first day we went out was a old Ford Falcon parked. Then I saw another, and another. Ford had one of the main plants back then that produced the Falcon down there, and many of them have survived.

I recommend Buenos Aires highly, as well as the area of Mendoza further north inland.