Thursday, December 21, 2006


Help! My grandmother's house doesn't have internet access! I'm feeling all jittery with the detox!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Bad luck in threes

What is it that they say about things coming in threes? Like Raiders of the Lost Ark movies or the number of successful Baldwin brothers. Well after Kitty dying and then Margaret's purse getting stolen, I was bracing myself for the worst... like a fiery plane crash, catching eczema from the person sitting next to me on the plane, or having the missionaries hassle me in the Salt Lake airport (Shudder). Perhaps I was being too pessimistic. Last night while we were packing, a major wind storm blew into Portland and knocked our power out. While stumbling around the house and packing our luggage by flashlight, I was hoping that if was the third in our current string of bad luck, I don't mind it one bit. Plus think of all the money it saved us in electricity charges!

We're waiting in the airport right now, and contrary to previous trips, I think I only forgot one thing. Of course it was the materials to bake a kransekake (a almond cookie that has a secret ingredient that makes you crave it unmercifully until its all eaten, even if that means eating half of it by yourself... and that secret ingredient is POWDERED sugar!). Anyway, last night when I called my grandmother and aunt they reminded me of all the baking to be done next week and I thanked them for reminding me to pack the materials for the Norwegian treat. Well, in the ensuing chaos of the power outage I totally spaced it. And I can't even bake my famous Jack Daniels-infused fruitcake as a replacement, since the closest place in Utah to get Jack Daniels is Wyoming! Oh well, there's always Christmas Cap'n Crunch marshmallow squares.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I feel so violated

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ready for 2006 to be over. During the course of the year, we've had some not so optimal things happen to us, and we thought that Kitty dying was on par... closing out the year exactly how we expect. Well, the Fates had more store for us. Last night, while Margaret was in the throes of grief while we buried Kitty, she (understandably) didn't notice that she'd left her purse on the porch. This morning, I got a call from Visa asking about suspicious charges, including Western Union wire transfers, cell phone subscription applications, a sporting goods store (gasp). The rep asked, "are you sure that your wife didn't get you a Christmas present at the sporting goods store." I was thinking, "Lady, the LAST place Margaret would find me something I wanted for Christmas would be a sporting goods store!" Anyway, I had to use the morning cancelling our credit cards, Costco card, etc. It makes me so mad that someone exploited our grief like that. And right before Christmas, too. Hope you have a Merry Frickin' Christmas you bastard!

Now I'm going to be learily experiencing these last few weeks of 2006. What else can go wrong? (Great... and we're FLYING to Utah!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Complete and utter dependence on technology

Okay, I have no idea how humanity survived without cell phones and the internets! Over the holidays, a group of mission friends are planning a get-together and without the 700 emails back and forth that the planning has generated so far, we probably wouldn't be able to pull it off. And I'm sure that on the evening of the event, we'll all burn several hundred minutes of talk time on our cell phones.

And to think that I survived in college without a cell phone. (The fact that the rates were about $3 per minute helped make that decision a little easier!)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Cativity Scene

Ahh, nothing says the birth of Christ like a pack of cats. And I just love the sassy pink shawl on Meow-ry's annoying neighbor Mrs. Snuggles that shows off her perky ears. The three wise cats are looking especially pious (unless they can see an injured bird that is making its way toward the stable). The fat one even brought some Meow Mix in an urn for the special occasion! And just get a load of that adorable kitten sleeping in the manger. All together, now... awwwww.

You can buy yours here.


They say waiting is the hardest part. I'll say. I totally dreaded coming home to a dead Kitty yesterday after work, but she was still ticking. After pampering her all evening, we put her back outside in her heated box. This morning, Margaret and I fought over who would have to go check to see if she survived the night. I ended up checking, and sure enough, she slowly made her way out of her box. Now I can go back to biting my nails throughout the day, not knowing what I'll come home to.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hello Kitty

Eight years ago when we moved into our house, we thought that it was the time to commit to getting a pet. We figured that it would be a great learning experience to prepare us to have children. In our thinking, by learning how to care for a cat, we would be learning valuable parenting skills... like remembering to change the litterbox, deciding whether or not to declaw, the trials of hairballs, etc. We didn't want to get a kitten, so picked out a cat at the pound... she was an older cat--the vet said about 7 years old. She wasn't very affectionate, in fact if you petted her in a manner she didn't like, she'd nip you (lesson one about being a parent). Since she was older, and who knows what her background was, she didn't really have a name she'd respond to. We eventually decided on Hello Kitty. The first night we had her home, she was sitting on our bed and Margaret noticed that Kitty was staring at the wall. Just as she said, "what are you staring at Kitty?" she felt warm liquid run through the down comforter onto her! Strike One! After a few weeks, we realized that we were going to be completely unsuccessful in breaking Kitty of her habit of completely shredding our furniture. Strike Two! Finally after some family visited and they all had severe allergic responses in our house (enough to have to stay at another friend's house because one of them couldn't breathe!) Strike Three! We kicked her out of the house and she became an outdoor cat. (So much for gaining parental wisdom... generally Child Protective Services frowns on people making their children live outside when they misbehave.)

Anyway, after becoming an outdoor cat, she also became a neighborhood cat. She was constantly at the neighbors' houses getting attention and food... most likely the latter. She did mellow over time... she didn't automatically nip people who petted her. In fact whenever she would hear people walking down the sidewalk, she'd make a beeline to the front of the house and flop on her side, expecting a petting session, which she usually got. I remember one time that we overheard some people walking by late at night say "Oh my gosh! Is that fluff or fat?" We knew they were talking about Kitty! One summer when we were taking care of our niece, we set up a swimming pool outside, and since we have a hot and cold water faucet outside, we would just give her baths outside (hopefully Child Protective Services wouldn't frown on that... even though it WAS a little white trash). Well once, our niece decided that Kitty needed a bath, too and threw her into the pool. After that, Kitty never did get within arm's reach of our niece again.

Kitty was a constant source of grief for us when we would leave town, as we have the annoying propensity to completely forget to arrange for a neighbor to feed her while we were away. I can remember several frantic times trying to arrange for feedings while we were already on our vacation. Fortunately she was never too at risk for starving, with how freely she would drop hints at the neighbors' porches.

I think Kitty trained in the Gandhi school of conflict resolution, because she was COMPLETELY non-aggressive. No matter if the animal stealing her food was a neighborhood stray cat, a raccoon, or family of opossums, she would just passively sit back an observe the theft from a distance. I swear half the cat food we've bought over the years has gone to other cats or vermin.

Well, now the point of this entry... which I've been stalling writing about. A couple of days ago, Kitty started acting very lethargic. She hasn't eaten hardly anything in the past two days, and just wants to sleep all the time. I'm worried that she won't make it through the week. I set up a little bed in the house for her to sleep in while we're at home, just to make her more comfortable. Through all this all these feelings of regrets are flooding over me. Regrets at having not taken her to the vet more often. Not letting her in the house to lay on the furnace vent more often. Not spending more time with her. Not wanting her to die, but not wanting her to suffer. We've never lived in the house without Kitty being there and that makes me so sad. I guess in the end, she did end up teaching us more about being a parent than I'd anticipated.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Pearls before swine

I saw this in the comics this morning and have to admit I feel like this sometimes:

"I'm dividing all of humanity into two lists, which I'm calling 'People I don't like' and 'People I can't stand'."

"Oh, that's very cynical... you need to make a third list of people you like and give it a nice little title."

"Hmm... you're right... I'll call it 'Future disappointments'."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dying of curiosity

Last night I came home to find out that my grandmother had called completely curious about which one of her grandchildren was the Robo-tripper discussed in yesterday's post. She was relieved to find out that it was one of my second or third cousins, probably those kids from that no-good black sheep in the family.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Utah AHEAD of the curve

I was surprised to see this headline in the paper this morning: "Youth's latest cheap high: cough medicine." The article states: "A new study concludes that robo-tripping is sharply on the rise among teenagers." What surprised me was that kids in Utah have been abusing Robotussin for years. Sure the state is backwards in regards to gender equality, progressive politics, and sex education, but at least they're ahead of the curve in finding a loophole in the Mormon prohibition of alcohol. Despite the culture equating alcoholic beverages with a ticket to Hell, those rascally teenagers found a readily available alternative that is easy to fool parents about. Robo-tripping (getting high off Robotussin) has been popular in Utah since at least the early 90's. I remember some of my cousins from rural Utah... and I mean almost AMISH rural... telling me about major parties the high schoolers would throw where they gathered to drink cough syrup. In fact it was such a problem there that a policeman was assigned to that very problem, which invariably came up every weekend. His task was so well known that he was dubbed "Robo Cop," not because of the metal plate in his head that he got in 'Nam, but because he was always on the prowl for Robotussin.

I myself had a brush with the seedy underworld of cough medicine abuse in Utah. One time, my roommate was pretty sick so I took him to the grocery store to get some cold medicine. We were standing there looking at all the options when some guy came in and grabbed a couple of botles of the store brand equivalent to Robotussin non-creatively called "Tussin." He told us, "This is the good shit." Always open to the endorsement of teen drug abusers, my roommate bought some. He decided to take the meds before we got home, and without a spoon to measure it, he just drank some straight from the bottle... and by some I mean almost half of it. By the time we got back to the apartment, he was so drunk he could barely make it up the stairs. He was staggering along, with me trying to support his tottering frame, all the while him slurring incomprehensible phrases. The gossip mill at the apartment complex hadn't had so much fodder since a couple months prior when some guy tried to kill himself by ODing on Tylenol. Evidently he liked the feeling, because the rest of the bottle was gone by the next day.

After I read today's article, I'm feeling so in-the-know in knowing about this "new" trend almost ten years before it became popular. Maybe I'll have to call my Utah cousins and find out what the latest thing in drugs is. (Now THAT'S a sentence you probably thought you'd never read!)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Artic blast

I swear! I have no idea how I was able to survive two years in the frigid temperatures of deepest, darkest Norway. Yesterday at that photography shoot, I eventually couldn't feel my hands or feet. At one point I just had to mash my fingers in the general area of the camera button in the hopes that it would be able to take a picture.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Small-town Oregon

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was going on and on about looking forward to getting out of Portland? Come on, don't you remember me talking about how cold it was, how wet it was, how annoying the pet owners who treat their animals as child surrogates were? Jeesh, I can't believe you'd forget. I'm totally insulted. (Now don't go back through the archives, because I may have been talking about it to someone in the REAL WORLD. Yes, I still do communicate away from the Internet.) Well, anyway, needless to say, I've been itching to get out of town, and last week I got notified at work that, lo and behold, I needed to do some business travel. Yay! My boss told me I needed to go out in the field and take some pictures of blah blah blah interview some people doing some stuff and to make sure that I blah blah blah Rufus, Oregon. Wha? Did he just say RUFUS? Now normally I love getting out of the office. There's only so much monitor radiation I can stand and I'm sure I'm well past my annual dosage. In fact that's why my tan hasn't faded yet, despite months of dreary weather. Anyway, while I normally look forward to the business trips to New York, Buenos Aires, or Rome (three cities I've YET to be sent to... what's up with THAT?!), I really wasn't looking forward to an overnight stay in Rufus, Oregon. Yes, RUFUS... the city just one step classier than Marmot, Oregon. Surprisingly enough, there is a hotel here and its not just some scary RV park where I'd have to park the company car and not get any sleep all night, holding a shiv in case anyone tried to break in. As it is, I'll get to hold a shiv in the comfort of a warm bed. Fortunately the walls are so thin that if something does happen, people on all three sides of me will be able to hear my cries for help.

Actually, the place can't be all that bad... it has wireless Internet, microwave, and satellite tv. My HOUSE only has two of the three, so I'm in the lap of luxury.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Educational subconsciousness

Each night when I go to bed, and just as the codeine, Nyquil, or whatever downer du jour I'm taking is kicking in, I tell my brain, "I fed you with plenty of tv during the day, so you'd better entertain me while I'm sleeping." Normally this isn't a problem; in fact you should hear some of the adventures I've had in my dreams. The latest involves a kryptonite knife-wielding lunatic that was trying to stab me because I was Superman... but I'll recount that story later. Well, every once in a while, my brain will trick me me into LEARNING something. The things I've been taught are pretty hit or miss, though. Every useful bit of learning, like that showing up to work naked isn't as embarrassing as it would seem and is actually quite liberating, is counterbalanced with something not as useful, like if you hold onto the magic lightbulb REALLY tighly, you can FLY! Well, last night was a first in that my subconscious reminded me of an accident I was involved with that I had evidently repressed. For the past few days, my foot has been hurting off and on. Initially, I was worried that it might be cancer or, worse BUNIONS (actually I don't know what a bunion is, but the horror of that word sounds worse than cancer!). Mind you it hasn't been bad enough to see a doctor, or buy that Freedom-rider 6000 electric wheelchair I've been eyeing, but still. Anyway, last night I dreamt that I was on the bus and Arnold Schwarzenegger got on. Everything was going smoothly until the bus driver had to slam on the brakes because a giant Amazon woman was making grilled cheese sandwiches in the middle of the road. The resulting lurch propelled the Governator to lose his balance and stomp on my foot as he caught himself. When I woke up, I realized that that was why my foot had been hurting! Not because Ahh-nold had done it, but another passenger had; and we lurched because of a car cutting us off, not because of a warrior maiden making lunch, but you get the connection. Needless to say, when I remembered the incident, I was greatly relieved. Now I know that my injury is just a broken bone and not the debilitating and embarrassing curse of bunions. (Although I won't cancel my order for the Freedom-rider 6000... you never know when one of those will come in handy.)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yellow journalism

Gauging from the news yesterday, Portland should be in the throes of an ice storm never seen since the last ice age. All throughout the night last night, there were rolling text updates on all the tv shows we were watching, telling us that THE STORM IS COMING! My work was making preparations for a late opening or possibly not opening at all. Tons of schools preemptively closed. Well, imagine my surprise when we woke up not to a sheet of ice coating everything and shutting down the entire city, but... wait for it... NOTHING! There was hardly any rain, just enough for the ground to be wet, and the temperature is well above freezing. I guess information like that doesn't garner many ratings. Actually, I'm a little disappointed... I could have used a day home refilling my sleep bank.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Freezing inside and out

Portland is experiencing abnormally cold temperatures... like 30º! I guess my blood has thinned considerably since enduring Utah and Norwegian winters... To avoid being frozen solid I took the bus all the way into the city where I could transfer to the train (I usually walk a couple of blocks to a different train stop, but I wasn't willing to risk frost bite for a few minutes' savings). I'm sure that drinking 48 oz. of Diet Coke this morning at Noah's had NOTHING to do with my feeling so cold.

Speaking of massive amounts of pop, a couple of weeks ago when we were coming back from the hot springs resort, we stopped at 7-11 for caffeine (a strictly prohibited substance at the resort... you'd think it was run by Mormons if it weren't for all the naked people running around). Anyway, the refill prices for different container sizes was posted at the fountain dispenser. It listed the standard 16 oz, 32 oz, and 64 oz, but it also listed prices for 96 oz, 1 gallon, and FIVE FRICKIN' GALLONS! (which, by the way, only cost $6.25) Who in the world would come in with a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with pop?!? By the time the thing was filled it would have gone flat. Although you have to admit it would be funny to take a bucket of pop to the movies and set it down in front of you with an extra long straw and slowly consume enough caffeine to turn a sloth into a cheetah. All you'd need then would be a 55-gallon barrel of popcorn. And a catheter, of course.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Here I was, with a great blog entry all mapped out in my head, when an item in today's paper jumped out at me and forced me to write about it. I'll have to tell you about my Tibetan expedition that was so strenuous that I required 12 sherpas another time. What has gotten me so aggravated? I'm glad you asked. Check this out:

The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, which has long served as a model for activism for the religious right, has stepped down, saying the group had resisted his efforts to broaden its agenda to include reducing poverty and fighting global warming.

Over the past few years, Rev. Joel C. Hunter has gained a reputation as an evangelical leader who sought to expand the agenda of conservative Christian activists from issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Because nothing says Christ-like like firing someone who is trying to help the poor and be a good steward of the environment. I bet the millions of Americans in poverty are so thankful that those conservative Christians are using their resources to keep gays from getting married rather than wasting it on something like FOOD!

One last point before I get off my soap box... and of course it has to do with a comparison between the U.S. and Norway. What is up with Norway, whose population's religious conviction compels them to at most go to church at Easter and Christmas--and that's the RELIGIOUS ones, that have done away with hunger, poverty, and homelessness in their country, while here in the U.S., where the majority of the population ranks themselves as religious, we allow people to go hungry, live in poverty, and have rampant homelessness? I wish we could start living up to our ideals. (Unfortunately it seems that money always wins out when there is a conflict between charity and capitalism.)

(Okay, I'm stepping down off my soap box now.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving follow-up

I forgot to write about our food experience in the Spokane airport. When we were on our way to the airport, my brother asked if we wanted to stop for some food before the flight. Thinking that the Spokane airport would be like the Portland airport and have an entire food court with prices that were dictated by city code to be identical to downtown prices, we told him we'd just grab something while we were waiting for our flight. Well, when we got there, only a single restaurant was open... and they only had pre-made sandwiches, soup, and chips. We decided to share a sandwich, Margaret got a cup of soup, I got a bag of chips, and we both got a Diet Coke. All that came to $18! The dry sandwich alone was $7 and the Diet Coke was $2.50... EACH! (Of course we'd opened them before finding THAT out! After paying, I remembered my mom had brought up a whole bag full of leftover turkey sandwiches. Why hadn't I remembered them before being gouged? For the love of God, WHY?

Thanksgiving travels

Margaret and I went home to Idaho for Thanksgiving. The trip started with the ordeal of Homeland Security-imposed inconvenience that is modern air travel. What's up with the 3 oz. liquid or gel rule? That alone was aggravating, as you had to have all your liquids and gels in a separate ziploc bag. I swear! How far are we from packing EVERYTHING in our checked luggage, stripping naked for a body cavity search, then be issued paper hospital gowns for the duration of the flight? Anyway, another rule was no wrapped packages. Well, we were bringing over all our Christmas presents for my family and so ended up having to wrap them while we were in Idaho. Of course we put it off until the morning we left, so Margaret and I ended up at Jo-Ann fabrics to get wrapping paper (she totally tricked me, telling me that she was going to the Albertson's next door!). The place was busy... their doorbuster sale had attracted a horde intent on getting damask at 1/2 off. Compliments of the ravaging horde, all the registers were open. We tried playing the "switch lines to get into the faster moving one" game and got stuck behind someone writing a check... yes, A CHECK! Those have been banned in Portland for years now, so it was quaint to see someone getting her quill pen and ink pot out to write out a check. Well, of course there was a computer problem processing it, so we waited and waited and WAITED. The person behind us in the original line had already gone through the line and was out the door before our clerk announced that her register was closing and to go to the other line! Arg. We switched lines, like obedient sheep, and waited some more. Just when we were next in line, the other register clerk came back and reopened her line! Ah, love those experiences at fabric stores that reinforce my dread of going to them.

We got back to Portland okay... the only thing that Homeland Security confiscated was a gross energy drink sample we'd gotten at Costco. It was 3.4 oz, which everyone knows would have been enough to do some real damage. Brother!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

God Save the Queen!

Wow! Last night, we went to see Casino Royale, the new James Bond movie and all I have to say is that I haven't been this proud to be English since the signing of the Magna Carta!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Black market's underwater branch

Check out this from CNN:

Tipped off by three plastic pipes mysteriously skimming the ocean's surface, authorities seized a homemade submarine packed with 3 tons of cocaine off Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

Four men traveled inside the 50-foot wood and fiberglass craft, breathing through the pipes. The craft sailed along at about 7 mph, just 6 feet beneath the surface, Security Minister Fernando Berrocal said Sunday.

THREE TONS!!! That's almost a four-day supply for the NBA!

You can read the whole article here.

Hippie weekend

This weekend, we went to a hippie commune hot springs retreat and intentional community. It's out in the middle of nowhere in the Oregon forest. The group that operates it are all new-agey or extreme hippies. They generate their own electricity, recycle everything, and offer random yoga, meditation, and reiki workshops, just to name a few. The best indicator of how new-agey the place was happened when we were checking in. When the woman at the front desk saw my last name and that it was obviously Native American, she asked me where my tribe was from (actually, she first asked me if that was the name I was born with--evidently being used to people like Jane Smith or Michael Jones get all granola and legally change their name to Moonshadow or Running Fox). Anyway, when I told her that I was from Idaho, she told that her daughter was conceived in Idaho and she always felt like it was an ancient tribal spirit from there that had entered her, as her daughter had a great affinity to that location. Trying not to crack a smile, I just nodded my head and slowly backed away. (Although now that I think about it, I wonder if I was conceived in a Gap dressing room, because I've always had an affinity to that store...)

Anyway, back to the hot springs. For us, the big draw is the hot water pools scattered throughout the property--ranging from a natural steam sauna to a series of successively hotter pools arranged in a circle. Nothing says decadence like sitting in a hot pool all day, only to come out for meals. Unfortunately they only offer vegetarian meals, so we had to stop by McDonald's after we's put our clothes back on and left the commune facility (and rest assured, it was in that order).

Friday, November 17, 2006

MasterCard's advertising reach

I know I was a bad snoop who had no business doing this, but... Yesterday on the bus, the woman sitting next to me started writing a text message on her phone. What first caught my eye was how slowly she was typing on her phone--you'd think she'd grown up with a rotary dial--even though I'm sure she was younger than me. Anyway, since I was looking over her shoulder anyway, I started reading the message she was writing. The message was: "Emma's husband: 54; Emma: 28; Emma's husband's daughter: 32; Thanksgiving all together: priceless" AWKWARD! Ah, I love the things one sees on public transportation... that and invading people's privacy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fire eating

Last night the Portland Gang© met at a fancy restaurant to celebrate Firechild's birthday. And boy was that restaurant fancy--it seemed like a classic gentleman's club from the robber baron era. (A feeling that was assisted by the fact that the restaurant was in the train station.) The red velvet seats were high backed and someone pointed out that when you laugh, you felt like doing it maniacally and so heartily that your monocle fell out, because it just felt right. It seemed like just the place to plot how to economically exploit the next group of hapless victims. Let's see, who's left? The Irish, Blacks, Native Americans, Chinese, Mormons, Germans, Hispanics, Poles, Japanese, Aborigines, Lapps, Puritans, Basques, Palestinians, and Indians have already been exploited. That only leaves Midwesterners and Skateboarders.

Anyway, back to the restaurant--I always knew that Firechild was a pyromaniac, but after seeing what she ordered, I think she both earned her nickname AND reached a new level of pyromania. One of the offerings on the menu was Steak Diane, which is steak prepared at the table and served flambé. I swear--given the choice between Ambrosia prepared by Aphrodite herself atop Mt. Olympus and delivered to the restaurant by Hermes and food on fire, she'd choose the fire food every time (and not just because Aphrodite ususally charges several hundred thousand dollars per serving). You should have seen Firechild's eyes light up when her meat burst into flames. Satan himself couldn't have been more pleased around all that fire. For dessert, she ordered Bananas Foster, served flambé, of course. If they would have offered a flaming salad, I'm thinking she would have been tempted by it. Maybe for her birthday I should have given her a charcoal briquette and told her that it was an iPod, served flambé.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fashion Police

I just saw that the Oregon corrections officers won the national Best Dressed Law Enforcement Competition. The competition judged their ceremonial honor guard uniform, battle dress, Class A uniform, summer uniform, K-9 uniform, and SWAT uniform. The article didn't say anything about the swimwear uniform, which consists of a Speedo with a police badge printed on the front, nor did they mention the eveningwear uniform which is a tuxedo with a Kevlar-reinforced cummerbund with a hidden holster. But I'm sure that was just an oversight.

Some of the quotes in the article were so funny they could have appeared on a Saturday Night Live skit. "A head-to-toe look--they've really pulled it off. Accessories make the man. It's what separates us from the beast." (I can't tell whether they were talking about their inmates or those Kentucky correction officer slobs.) "And they really know how to accessorize, down to the keys." (Wha? They must have a locksmith on call to ensure that the keys to the new jail locks match their outfits. "Could I get this key in a oil-rubbed bronze? Brushed nickel doesn't go with my dress uniform.")

This quote was my favorite: ""Look at the bling,' she said, pointing to their glittering silver accouterments. 'That bling adds a level of prestige and importance.'" Okay, that's the first time I've ever heard shiny badges and metallic epaulets refered to as "bling."

Actually, I'm pretty impressed by the work they put into winning. And I have to admit, that their uniforms are MUCH more authoritative and respectable than those crazy uniforms the Pope's Swiss Guard have to wear. Those were designed by Michaelangelo and haven't been updated since. They literally ARE so 15th century!

I'm a good one to talk, anyway. When I first started my current job, I wore a shirt and tie for 6 or 8 months. After which, I dropped the tie. Then after a year or two, I wore the occassional polo shirt. After a while, only on Fridays, I'd risk wearing jeans. Now, I've gotten to the point that I only wear jeans. At this rate, in a few years I'll be coming to work in my pajamas, which isn't a good thing, since I don't wear pajamas!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stupid homeownership, vol. 2844

After putting it off for weeks, Margaret and I spent THE ENTIRE WEEKEND SEVERAL HOURS THIS WEEKEND pruning, raking up leaves, and generally prepping the yard for winter. After TWO DAYS and TEN yard debris bags, we thought we were pretty much all done. Which was true, until Sunday night, when a major wind storm blew through Portland and we woke up to a yard COVERED with leaves. Of course! Don't they have people to do this... well, people that you don't have to PAY to do this? (Maybe that's why people decide to have kids.)

Speaking of home travails, one of my apartments I lived in in Norway was a total dive. I think that since it had been a missionary residence for years, and therefore the residence of teenage boys during all that time, it hadn't seen much in the way of cleaning or maintenance. I was able to handle it okay for a while (I WAS one of those teenage boys, after all), a while, that is, until I found MUSHROOMS growing on the floor of the shower. The occassional mildew stain was one thing, but to have actual fungi growing there was too much. Fortunately I was transferred shortly thereafter to a house where the landlady inspected our cleaning job every week. Draconian, I know, but effective.

Now I can't imagine tolerating mushrooms growing in my house for an instant. (Peyote excluded.)

Follow-up: We slept in a little this morning and were awoken by the sounds of the yard debris pick-up... and we'd forgotten to put out our ten bags of leaves! Now they'll have to sit on the porch for two weeks until the next pick-up. Arrgg.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Top 10 Reasons to Procrastinate


My aunt sent me this and I couldn't resist posting it. She also sent "333: Only 1/2 evil"

New-fangled technology

I swear, it is so easy to take modern technology for granted. This weekend, while coordinating getting Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas tickets with some friends, at one point I was chatting with one person, while in a video conference with another, who was also on his cell phone with the fourth person, so he put her on speakerphone so she could be part of the video chat! All this coordinated between Utah and Oregon! And yet it still takes Amtrak 36 hours to get people from Portland to Salt Lake! What's up with that?

I'm pretty excited about the Christmas concert because the featured performer is Sissel Kyrkjebø, a Norwegian singer who is amazing. She did the vocals for Titanic and sang the Norwegian songs for the Norwegian language dub of Disney's The Little Mermaid. I'm sure MoTab (as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is called by the urban hipsters on the streets of Salt Lake) will be good, but a free Sissel concert?!? THAT'S worth flying in from Oregon a week early for.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Norway on top of the world--literally AND figuratively

Has the whole world gone CRAZY? The U.S. isn't the best place to live on the planet?!? Check out this news item from the United Nations Development Program:

The United Nations ranked Norway as the best country to live in for a sixth consecutive year yesterday.

Oil-rich Norway, with its generous welfare state, topped the UN Development Program's human development index, based on such criteria as life expectancy, education and income.

Iceland was No. 2, followed by Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan and the United States.

I guess ridding your country of homelessness, poverty, and hunger actually makes people HAPPIER! Gee! And here we are focusing all our attention on... well, I'll just say that we haven't been focused on solving homelessness, poverty, and hunger.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On the mend

Well, my ear feels much better. Now I'm thinking that I developed the ear infection from being exposed to so many campaign commercials. Could they BE any more toxic? My immune system didn't stand a chance!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Keeping life interesting

Check out this article from CNN:

VALPARAISO, Indiana (AP) -- A woman who considered loneliness a curse left $2.9 million to several agencies that serve the elderly, including $725,000 each to a day center and a Meals on Wheels program.

"She wanted to use the money to make life interesting for people who are over 60 who are retired," James Bozik, the attorney for Dorothy Risto, said Monday.

Barbara Kubiszak, director of the St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center, said the donation came as a surprise because as far she can tell, Risto never set foot in the center. The same was true for Meals on Wheels, said Laura Harting, executive director of the Visiting Nurse Association, which runs the program.

What a slap in the face that must be to Congress, whose tireless efforts to "make life interesting for people over 60" resulted in the Social Security Prescription Drug plan. From what I hear, firguring out how THAT works is more mentally challenging than the New York Times Sunday crossword, five-star Monster Sudoku, and making the choice between watching Matlock or Murder She Wrote... COMBINED!

Stupid homeownership

Over the weekend, the Northwest has been completely inundated with rain. One of the rain stations near Mt. St. Helens posted 31 INCHES of rain from Thursday to Sunday! Well, Monday, it was still raining buckets. That night, Margaret and I sat down to watch Heroes, and since Margaret abhors commercials with every fiber of her being, she mutes them. (I, being male, have the gene to tune out the extraneous noise, which comes in handy when there's a screaming baby around, I assume.) Anyway, I noticed when she muted the tv that the rain was REALLY coming down. Unfortunately when I went outside to check on it, it was raining pretty hard, but it sounded even worse, as our gutters were clogged. So, in my pajamas, I tried to do something. I can't believe how idiotic I must have looked standing on a ladder with a long stick with a wire tied to it. I tried to run my makeshift gutter cleaner two stories up, but the stupid tool didn't make a bit of difference, other than getting me all wet. I eventually had to climb out on the roof and see what I could do, which was just enough to keep the gutters from overflowing, but just barely. The next day, I got sick and it feels like an ear infection. Arg. Just another example of why people choose condomiums condominiums! (Oops! Thanks Tracy)

And to top it all off, I missed the last twenty minutes of Heroes? Oh cruel fates, why must you mock me?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election nailbiters

Since 5:00 this evening, I've been glued to the tv and internets, hoping to find out what is going on. How many times to you have to click the "refresh" button on your browser before you get more information from CNN? Man, what did people do in olden times when it took DAYS to count the ballots. I remember when I was in Norway during the presidential elections of 1992. That's the year that Clinton defeated Bush, Sr. I remember having two goldfish in our apartment, one named Bill and one named George. We all thought it was a sign that George Bush, Sr. was going to be reelected because Bill (the fish) died. Well, when we woke up, we saw that that wasn't the case. Afterward, the mission president solemnly told us that since the American people had elected a draft-dodging drug-user that the Apocalypse was right around the corner. Well, that didn't exactly pan out--and we even replaced one draft-dodging drug-user with another draft-dodging drug-user! Who in the world could we elect to hasten the Reckoning? Maybe Donald Trump?

Election Day excitement

Everyone at work keeps checking out CNN for the latest election news. I don't want to wait for polls to close... I want to find out stuff NOW! Anyway, while trolling CNN, I found this little gem:

Ky. poll worker charged with assault, interfering with election
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A poll worker was arrested Tuesday and charged with assault and interfering with an election for allegedly choking a voter and pushing the voter out the door, an official said.

Election officials called police, and the voter wanted to file charges, said Paula McCraney, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Clerk.

"That about tops off the day," McCraney said.

It wasn't immediately clear what sparked the altercation. The name of the poll worker was not released and a Louisville police spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

I can tell you right now what the problem was: when the poll worker says use a No. 2 pencil, HE MEANS IT!

Now brave the overzealous poll worker in your precinct and GO VOTE! RIGHT NOW! (Unless you're Republican, as they have a special polling time to minimize their contact with the poor and minorities. The polls are open for you from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM tonight.)

Movie excitement

After reading the Mary Poppins entry, Margaret reminded me of something that happened at the movie that could have had disastrous consequences. In the scene where Mary and Bert are at the cafe with the penguin waiters, we were supposed to use the kazoo from our goodie bag to hum along with the frenetic action. Well, Margaret got so frenetic that she almost inhaled the little waxed paper thingy in it that vibrates. Fortunately it only went in her mouth and she was able to cough it out. I can just image how embarrassing it would be to have to stop the movie and be rushed to the hospital due to choking on a kazoo paper! (Although I have to admit it would make a great story... as long as she survived!)

Speaking of which, that reminds me of another choking story. Why are they always so entertaining? Plus, excluding autoerotic asphyxiation, I can't think of a more embarrassing way to go... turning blue with your eyes bugging out is bad enough, but add in the audience of a crowded restaurant and you've got the third ring of Hell. Anyway, my brother was telling me about eating at a restaurant recently where someone at a nearby table started choking. The woman's husband jumped up and started giving her the Heimlich maneuver and their server rushed over to see if there was anything she could do. The husband looked over at the server, stopped giving his wife the Heimlich, pulled his wallet out and handed the server his credit card, then returned to give his wife the Heimlich! What in the world must he have been thinking!?! If there are any servers out there, what is the proper procedure in this situation? Do you walk away and run the credit card, hoping that all will go well or at least you'll be able to write in a big tip when they inadvertently leave the credit card behind when getting in the ambulance? Or do you give them the meal for free? Is this circumstance covered in your training manual? Perhaps between Chapter 22: "How to add disgusting things to problem customer's food without them realizing it" and Chapter 24 "How to time questions of food quality so it's only when the customer's mouth is full."

Monday, November 06, 2006


Last night, I was in the basement talking to my brother on the phone when all of a sudden, Margaret came downstairs and asked me if I'd just felt the earthquake! I hadn't felt a thing and so I asked her if maybe it was the wind (as there was a storm blowing outside) or that maybe I was doing my aerobics a little too vigorously. Anyway, I went online and, sure enough, there HAD been an earthquake, right under the city. I went upstairs (after wiping the egg off my face, which is never flattering) and told her she hadn't been imagining things. In fact, the US Geologic Service had 1500 people enter the "Did you feel it?" link on their website.

That reminds me of a time when a friend and I were driving somewhere in Provo when I was going to BYU. We were driving on a road that bordered the campus, where there are lots and lots of students walking back and forth to classes. Well, as we were driving, we noticed that all the people we drove by were gawking up in the sky. At first we thought, "Saps! What kind of rube just stares at a sunset like that?" Then as we saw even more people doing the same thing, we start thinking that maybe it's an alien invasion force, or a scene out of Red Dawn. Finally, we came to a stop sign and my friend leaned out the window and asked someone what the fuss was. The girl replied, "It's the SPACE SHUTTLE!" Without even turning around, my friend said, "Uh, I'm from FLORIDA! I don't think it's the space shuttle!" (Since one's proximity to Cape Kennedy is a determiner of knowning the exact whereabouts of all the US space craft.) Anyway, I looked in the rear view mirror and, sure enough, it WAS the space shuttle. It was attached to a 747 and was landing in Salt Lake for some event. Boy was my friend sheepish after that. Now when someone tells him something incredible, he's a little more likely to believe it. Which is why you will find him in the middle of the Utah desert with a Mormon fundamentalist cult. Evidently their prophet was telling his followers that the source of his powers was some God Dust he scraped off the space shuttle when it was in Utah.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I don't know if you've heard about movie sing-alongs before, but they're movie musicals in which the songs have been subtitled so the audience can sing along. They draw quite an audience and people come dressed up as characters and with props. A couple of years ago, The Sound of Music Sing-Along came to town and we missed it--much to Margaret's consternation. We were talking to someone who had seen it when it came to San Fransisco and he said it was hilarious to see all the people (mostly men) dressed as nuns run to the front of the theatre when the "What do you do with a problem like Maria" number came on. Since Margaret was raised on that movie, she felt like she could have quoted the entire film--not just the songs, but the dialogue, too! Alas, it wasn't meant to be, but a reasonable alternative presented itself this weekend in another Julie Andrews classic: Mary Poppins! Yes, the Mary Poppins Sing-Along was in town and we, of course, HAD to go. We found ourselves looking forward to it throughout the week, suddenly finding ourselves singing "Spoonful of sugar" or "Chim chiminey" and not even realizing it. Originally, we hadn't anticipated doing anything special other than attend, but after running a few errands Saturday morning, we drove by a Goodwill and I pulled in, thinking that if something jumped out at us, we'd get it and cobble together costumes. Well boy did we! Margaret found this perfect gray skirt, which set off our hunt for more and more elaborate costumes. After stopping at three used clothes stores, a friend's house to borrow something, and Fred Meyer for the last-minute touches, we came up with two quite elaborate costumes, if I do say so myself.

Margaret's costume was the "First Impression" Mary Poppins, with long gray skirt, frilly white shirt, red bowtie, black hat with flowers on the brim, a long black coat, and an umbrella. Mine was the "Chimney sweep Bert" with a ratty overcoat, red kerchief, hooligan hat, and the coup de grâce: a toilet brush painted black (which was MUCH more convenient to carry around than a full-sized chimney brush, but just as effective, especially with today's gas fireplaces!). When we met up with our friends Cheron and Craig, and I was surprised that they weren't in costume, as they have a long history of dressing up for the most contrived reasons--like when they made silver metallic robot costumes in celebration of National Foil Day back in August. As we entered the theatre, everyone got little goodie bags, which we looked through and thought, "What in the world is all this stuff?" There was a Pixie Stick, a cocktail umbrella, a mini folding fan, a champagne popper (like from the Fourth of July, where you pull a string on a little bottle and shoot confetti right in the face of some unsuspecting kid--despite the fact that the warning specifically forbids that--eh, whatever) two chocolate coins, and a flashcard with "supercalifragilistic" or "expialidocious" on it. Fortunately a woman with a bad English accent came out before the movie and explained all the props--like in the scene where the other nannies get blown away in the wind we were supposed to get out our fans and help blow them away. Or every time someone said "spoonful of sugar" to take a hit off the Pixie Stick.

At this point, we were getting pretty pysched up, only to discover that there was going to be a costume contest, complete with PRIZES! We went up, along with other chimney sweeps and some penguins and came in second! (We lost to the stupid penguins, since they're so hot right now.) Our prize was a movie CD, so we'll be able to relive the evening time and time again. After the contest, the movie started and to say it was a lot of fun would have been an understatement. The crowd was constantly adding commentary, jokes, and sound effects during the movie, and belting out the songs as they came up. One of my favorites was when the bank chairman of the board is trying to get Michael Banks to give up his tuppence. Craig yelled out, "Come on kid, help support the military/industrial complex!") It was so crazy and so Portland. I couldn't believe how many of the songs I knew, even without the subtitles. Some of the songs go so fast, and the subtitling didn't always keep up, but since I'd grown up listening to a Disney Greatest Hits record over and over and over that I found Ididn't really need the subtitles all that much, anyway. (eventually that record go so warped that "Let's go fly a kite" had a slow part and a fast part as the record needle went up one side of the warp and sped down the other side. Now when I hear that song, it sounds funny without the speed changes.)

After the show, both Cheron and Craig admitted that neither of them had seen the movie before. I can't even imagine what they must have thought when they saw us come into the restuarant to meet them and later enthusiastically belting out these songs they didn't even know. They probably thought I'd just forgotten to wash my face and that Margaret was in her Edwardian-era again (like she was back in 1998.) Anyway, we had a great time, and now we have costumes for next Halloween, too!

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm King of the World!

Don't you just HATE totally clichéd reenactments of lame movies. Any yet here I am, bowing to pressure to entertain (actually, I guess I do that every day I post to this blog... arg, I've devolved into a circus monkey. Meh, at least I'm a circus monkey with great hair Italian villa ridiculously large trust fund... aaaaaiiiieeee! I'm just a circus monkey!!!) Well, now that we've got that settled, here's the background on the photo. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Astoria, Oregon (you know... the town from Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, and Free Willy) for work. While we were there, we stopped by the maritime museum there. (It was that or Seafood Processing Adventure World, but who wants to wait in lines to ride the Shrimp Boat Flume Ride--not me.) The museum was like a scene out of The Guardian--they had lots of dramatic rescue footage, model ships, and duck decoys. Okay, that really didn't have anything to do with maritime stuff, I guess the curator just likes them. Anyway, a retired lighthouse ship is moored at the museum, which visitors get to go through and gawk at and marvel at how boring life must have been for the sailors on that boat. Essentially it was designed to be a lighthouse where there was no land to build one, so they just anchored at the same location permanently. The only excitement would come from major storms--and that would be because you thought you might DIE! One thing that would have passed the time would have been to do lame Leonardo Dicapprio impressions, like I'm doing in this picture. After I posed for this picture, I thought, "Great. I just caught myself on film doing something that I would unmercifully mock someone else for doing." I guess that's the benefit of my particular talent of being able to absolutely justify any action I might do. That was a talent that was very useful on my mission. (See yesterday's entry.)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


After getting several comments back from the previous post, I'd like to point out that I was just a WITNESS to these things. The only rule I broke was being in the room while non-regulation music was playing. I suppose I could have stopped the whole thing, since everyone knows that I'm a completely self-righteous, judgemental, fundamentalist who wants to impose my religious views on others. Oops, I'm thinking of someone else. Maybe that's why I didn't have much success converting Nowegians to Mormonism--I was too tolerant.

Pyschodelic mission experience

Today I read one of my mission friend's online bio and she had married someone else from the mission... a missionary who always seemed a little crazy to me, but maybe he cleaned up his act after... well, if I give too many details, it would be obvious who I was talking about, so instead, I'll tell you a story. Gather round, children, and listen to a tale that will make Mormons cringe in terror and non-Mormons think, "Taking bad LSD is scary, this not so much." Anyway, here goes:

The summer of 1992 was particularly enjoyable in Kristiansand--a sunny, summer-resort type of town on the southern tip of Norway. The area had 6 elders, two sisters, and two member missionaries who were really cool, and we were much more prone to meeting at the pond at the local park than actually knocking on doors. This state of affairs wasn't helped by the fact that our area leaders were, how shall I put this?... liked to have a lot of fun. Anyway, over the course of a beautiful southern Norwegian summer, the eight of us became quite lax, quite tan, and quite close. Unfortunately, as the mission was a cruel taskmaster (the mission president was, in any case), the dreaded day came when transfers were announced. Only one elder was being moved--Elder Johnson. He was REALLY bummed, because the entire group had been together for a few months without any moves and he knew that he'd miss us all and that he'd be missing out on a lot of fun after he'd left. The night before the move, all the elders decided to met at the area leader's apartment for a evening of fun, games, and brownies. Then the evening started to get INTERESTING!

After we met up downtown to catch a ride to the apartment, we all loaded into their car (yes, all 6 of us, in a tiny VW hatchback) and headed up. En route, one of the leaders got to wondering if you could get a buzz off smoking a phonebook (yes, a frickin' PHONEBOOK... he was desparate for stimulation, I guess!), so we stopped at a phone booth and he stole the one there (obviously STEALING was against mission rules). Back at the apartment, the evening started fun--someone made brownies, we played some games, and then, as the evening wore on, the mood drifted to a more somber tone. Elder Johnson realized that he needed to start packing, so he would pack up a few things, then come back out to the living room to talk some more, then head back and pack. We had a little wood stove in the living room, where we had made a fire (also against mission rules--boy, The Man was really oppressing us!). After a while, we were just sitting around staring at the fire. Elder Johnson started cleaning out his food in the fridge and gave us a sausage, since he wouldn't be able to take it on the train. A couple of us took clothes hangers and cut it up and started to roast it on the fire. Someone put on a Simon and Garfunkle tape (which was also against the rules, as we were only supposed to listen to hymns) and we were just quietly sitting there in the dark room, lit only by the little fire. The leader who stole the phonebook took the opportunity to pull it out to try smoking it (which broke a number of CHURCH rules as well as mission rules). He took probably a couple of hundred pages and rolled them up as tightly as he could. He then got up close to the fire and stuck one end of the roll into his mouth (which was COMPLETELY open to accommodate the diameter, and stuck the other end into the fire, inhaling as much as he could to keep the end burning. He sat back and he and another missionary without any sense took turns with that burning phone book. It was so crazy to see them with that huge roll in their mouths, not able to just puff, but having to literally INHALE just to get air movement over the burning pages. Soon both of them were looking completely sick to their stomachs, tears streaming down their faces at having been breathing paper smoke (which smelled awful--maybe it was the ink). I remember at that moment, holding a straightened-out coat hanger with a sausage dangling from the end of it over a fire made of old mission newsletters and planners, in a dark, smoke-filled room with two queasy smokers, with Simon and Garfunkle singing "Homeward Bound," that I realized that that was the most surreal experience of my life up to that point. And even after 15 years, it still ranks up there at least in the top three.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween shenanigans

Well, our Halloween was successful. And by successful, I mean we didn't get any eggs thrown at our house, toilet paper in our trees, or flaming bags of poo left on our porch. It's the little things that you appreciate. We had quite a few trick-or-treaters, who were on the most part delighted that we were handing out mini-tins of play-dough instead of candy. Even the older teenagers who were going door-to-door were excited about it. It was just our way of doing something about the obesity problem here in the U.S. (And if the kids are desparate, Play-Dough IS non-toxic...)

Evidently we had a better Halloween than some kids in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, though. I read a story in this morning's paper about some teenagers who were at a party that decided to go doorbell ditching. Making their rounds, they saw a house under construction and decided to slip into the basement because they thought it would be scary--(I'm assuming because of all the building code violations). Anyway, they saw something hanging from the ceiling--and what do you do when you see some random thing hanging from the ceiling? They shot it with a BB gun, then poked it with a stick (the classic method of fact-finding), only to discover it was A DEAD BODY!!! hanging there! They all ran out and back to the party, where their story met with incredulity. Which I have to say, would have been my response, too. I mean, come on! That's a little too convenient that there would be an ACTUAL dead body on Halloween! When they finally convinced some of the other party-goers to come back with them, they entered the house only to find an old man wielding a machete who came after them. It was the owner of the property, there after seeing the trespassing teenagers. He didn't get caught and upon being arrested mutter, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids." No, upon investigation, it was discovered that the body was someone who had committed suicide not long before the teenagers found him. The old guy decided not to press charges on the kids because they'd gone through enough. I'll say--that sounds like the plot of a bad horror flick... only with property developers! (The most frightening thing I can imagine!) So look for the movie next year, "Housing Development Horror."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I wore my Pendleton Roundup getup to work today. I love the irony of an Indian working for an Indian agency dressing up as a cowboy. It reminds me of the time my brothers and I dressed up as pioneers for the Pioneer Day celebration in Utah. (Although both costumes are legitimate--I have both pioneer AND cowboy ancestors... well, can you call sheep ranchers "cowboys?")

I remember one Halloween in Norway, the missionaries all got together for a party--which had to be a little secretive, since Norwegians didn't celebrate Halloween and seeing Mormons dress up would only confirm their suspicions that we were devil worshippers. My favorite costume was one of the sister missionaries dressed up as a nun... she even had a tin foil crucifix! We all thought it was hilarious that one over-the-top religious fanatic was dressing up as another over-the-top religious fanatic. I can just imagine how livid our mission president would have been had he known that she was dressed up like that! He probably would have made her say a bunch of Hail Mary's knock on a bunch of strangers' doors and talk to them about God or something. (Shudder.)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Urban pastorale

Our neighbors are selling their house (which has been really sad, by the way). But every weekend, the house is descended upon by people gawking through the windows, walking around the house trying to get glimpses inside. Yesterday was particularly busy, as the weather has been sunny and warm (I know, it's like were not in the Pacific Northwest!). Well, Margaret and I probably started out making a great impression on would-be buyers. Margaret was practicing piano, which gives the illusion that this is our town house and that most of our time is spent in Vienna. I happened to be reading the New York Times (which the departing neighbors gave to us as a going away present), so I was giving the illusion that we were transplants from the Big Apple, bringing an air of sophistication to the neighborhood. Unfortunately both illusions are shattered once people walk around the house and see our ramshackle garage with a giant tattered Irish flag (remnants from a baby shower for some Irish friends almost TWO years ago) hanging in lieu of an actual door. That gives the illusion that we are refugees from the Irish potato famine and still haven't gotten back on our feet. And I guess that that's the illusion that people eventually believe, since the house still hasn't sold. (And I'm sure it has nothing to do with my propensity to walking around the house naked, which I'm sure would have ensured that the house would have been snatched up by now!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Standard Time anticipation

Is it wrong or abnormal for me to be so looking forward to Sunday's time shift? I find myself--particularly when the alarm goes off at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am--dreaming of getting to sleep for another whole hour. It's so alluring that I've been thinking about it all week. Unfortunately it only happens once a year, and you pay for that 60 extra minutes of unconsiousness with dragging yourself out of bed an hour early in the spring.

Too bad employers don't schedule the work day according to the sun. During the winter, when my enthusiasm and ambition is sloth-like, I'd like to come to work around 11 and leave around 3 (which by the way, is more of a Norwegian work schedule--they are SO far advanced than we are!). Unfortunately that would mean that in the summer, we'd have to work from 6 am to 8 pm. Maybe this is a happy medium.

I remember one time in Norway, I was living about 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It was the early spring, so we had light, but not 24 sunlight like in the summer. Well, one time, we had stayed up a little too late and noticed that the sky was already lightening up. We decided to stay up to see exactly when the sun came up, so we waited, and waited, and WAITED. FINALLY at around 6:30 am, the sun peeked over the horizon. We hadn't realized that the sun's path that far north was so low that the light showed up hours and hours before the sun's actual arrival--the sun hovered just under the horizon. We finally went to bed at 7:00 am, and promptly got in trouble with our leaders, who thought we were just lazy. (Which we weren't--we were conducting a scientific experiement!)

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Don't you hate it when you forget to buckle your belt back up after you've gone to the bathroom while on the Portland State University campus and don't realize it until you've left the building, waited at a crosswalk, and walked another block after that only to see your belt sticking out in front of you? I'm not saying that that happened to me... uh, I was just thinking how that would be the WORST!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Photo complaints

Yesterday I cheated and just stole a picture off the internet, after searching for "birthday cake on face." Well, after being accused a racist for using a photo of an obviously Aryan baby, I hunted up this photo of me, which was no small task--do you KNOW how hard it is to get photos out of the National Archive's holdings? Evidently the photographer couldn't get me to smile, grin, or even show any happiness whatsoever. They finally contented themselves with snapping the photo the split second after pulling the pacifier from my mouth. I think it gives me that, "you've got to be frickin' KIDDING me" look that is so popular these days. It's evident that even at a few months old, I was already very advanced in my world-weariness and ennui.

Plus-- look at my fauxhawk then, it's almost identical to the one I'm sporting in my bio picture to the right! I have to content myself with that for the time being, since I'm probably going to have to move to a monk haircut with my genes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Wow! A whole year has passed since I started this blog. What started out as a procrastination technique turned into something that I looked forward to doing, even after the thing I was procrastinating was completed. It has allowed me to keep in touch with a lot of family and friends that we live far away from. (Well, not necessarily 'in touch' as most of them never leave comments--hint, hint) It has made me more aware of the happenings going on around me (since I was constantly in need of new blog fodder I had to keep my eyes peeled for unusual stuff, and lo and behold--Portland delivered!), and most importantly, it has made me take more risks or do random things, again so I'd have something to write about--like when I danced in the cage at the dance club with no shirt on... oh, wait, I didn't write about that... uh, maybe later. Anyway! I've never been one to be a regular journal writer, but something about knowing that people are reading some random thought or activity (along with inappropriate comments) is so driving. This past year has been interesting and eventful to say the least (my diatribes on the superiority of peanut butter on chocolate chip bagels notwithstanding), and I hope that the upcoming year is even better!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jury duty experiences, vol. 1

I just got culled from my first call-up: a medical negligence lawsuit. Evidently saying that you don't believe in big medical malpractice settlements because the money could be better used by hospitals in helping more people doesn't endear you to the prosecution. Maybe the next one I get called up for will be a nice juicy homocide that features testimony from CSI:Portland officers. That'd be AWESOME! Stay tuned...

Jury duty

Yay! The jury room has an internet connection! This won't be as bad as I thought it was going to be. This morning, I dodged the bullet by not being called to serve on the grand jury rotation during the course of the entire WEEK! The last time I served on a jury, I had to serve for a week, listening to the ins and outs of brick veneer construction techniques. BOOOORRRINGGG! And prior to that, I served on a jury in college, judging other students on various crimes, such as over-piousness, charges of self-righteousness, and basic ignorance. As a rule of thumb, they were all guilty, which made the judgements quick and easy... in most cases it only took a few seconds. If only the OFFICIAL judicial system were so efficient!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Oy! What a WEEK!

Well, the event went off without a hitch... Well, I take that back--we did have someone trying to sell illegal Indian artifacts, which is a pretty severe federal offense--but other than THAT, it went off without a hitch. Oh, yeah, also except the TORRENTIAL RAINS that caused the Vietnam veteran presenters to have flashbacks of Southeast Asia during the monsoons. But other than THAT, it went off without a hitch. Afterward I was looking forward to a couple of days relaxation, or at least mind-numbing paperwork. Well, that wasn't in the cards. Here's a breakdown of the post-event week:

Monday: Take down, transport, and lay out seven SATURATED tepees. If they hadn't weighed 600 lbs. we would have tried wringing them out! I have no idea how the old time Indians moved those things! (I'm guessing they had the sense to only move camp after good weather--those crafty devils!)

Tuesday: Go to Seattle for a salmon-related event up there. (At least that was in the evening--I did get to squeeze in a trip to Ikea AND Red Robin! Yay! Unfortunately, I got a call from work that I was needed the next day to go to Astoria, Oregon to give a presentation first thing Thursday morning! So much for some R&R!

Wednesday: Since I was taking the train back from Seattle, I just got off in Longview, Washington, where the other presenters were driving through en route to Astoria and they picked me up and we all went out together. The train ride was pretty enjoyable, as I was assigned a seat next to a woman born in the same year as my grandfather. And she was more liberal than I AM! (And that's saying something!) The whole trip, she'd comment on people's houses we'd see from the train window, conservation, the war in Iraq, etc. It was great.

Thursday: Gave my salmon culture presentation to a group affiliated with the Smithsonian Insitute. Following my presentation, the City of Astoria presentation included a chef, who showed the group how to prepare pesto-encrusted salmon baked in brie, dungenes crab cakes, and pan-fried oysters, after which, we all got to eat our fill! I didn't need to eat anything else the rest of the day!

Friday: Finally got back to work and a woman who breeds Pomeranian dogs brought in her two new puppies. Now I don't mind pets IN THEORY, I can't stand strange animals. Well, the lady brought them into my office to show them to me. She set them on the ground, where one instantly proceeded to PEE on my carpet!!! She half-heartedly cussed out the dog, picking it up and handing it to me to hold while she cleaned up the mess. Ugg! Anyway, while she was cleaning up the pee, the other dog POOPED on the carpet! I had to leave my office, not being able to even BE in there while she cleaned it up. Of all the offices that that would happen in, it just HAD to be in the germaphobe's office!!! I went to the operations manager, who gave me the good news that coincidentally the office carpets are being shampooed next week. Phew! (Although I got a multi-pack of plug-in air fresheners at Costco for my office.) I just shuddered thinking back on the incident as I typed it! Later, telling the story to our friends who had a baby a few months ago, I got absolutely NO sympathy! Evidently having to clean up a baby that has filled the legs of his pajamas with diarrhea trumps dog poop in your office.

Saturday: First, the gang convened to visit the Velveteria--a back velvet painting museum here in town. I KNOW! Who would have thought that Portland would finally join the cultural ranks of such citites as Paris, Rome, London, or New York! This month's feature exhibit was "The Evolution of Michael Jackson: From Detox to Botox." They went from his Jackson 5 days all the way to the present, where he's a white woman. Some of the paintings were so random, including the Pink Panther sitting on a toilet, Dr. Kevorkian, the Heaven's Gate cult leader, and lots and lots of naked ladies! We enjoyed the museum so much, we're thinking of commissioning a velvet painting of our wedding picture in front of the Salt Lake temple. Nothing says "this is going to last forever" like classy, classy black velvet. Later, the gang reconvened for a late dinner, followed by going to a club. I used the Red Bull trick again and was still going strong at 1:30 when we left. (The others hadn't followed my lead, evidently, or we would have been there till closing with all the caffeine coursing through my veins.) Walking back to the car, we passed Voodoo doughnuts, which is a famous late-night doughnut shop here in Portland that caters to the hipster and alternative crowd and something completely off-the-wall is always happened there. Well, it didn't disappoint! When we looked in the shop, one of the guys standing in line was only wearing tennis shoes and a strategically placed coconut shell! (And with a slight adjustment, he'd be able to carry THREE doughnuts! COMMENT REDACTED AS THIS IS A FAMILY BLOG!) None of the other patrons seemed to even notice the guy (Although I wasn't interested in buying a doughnut after that.) Ahh, Portland!

Tomorrow I start jury duty, so at this rate, I'm tentatively penciling in June 15, 2008 as when my life is scheduled to return to normal. (That's assuming the Greenland icecap hasn't melted, in which case, I'll have to move the date to February 3, 2022.

Friday, October 13, 2006



Thursday, October 12, 2006

Garrison Keillor

I'm swamped today with last-minute to-do's for this weekend's event. But I thought I'd include a couple pearls of wisdom from Garrison Keillor's Columbus Day essay.

Who cares about Columbus Day? Scandinavians don't. They celebrate Columbus Day as we all do, by going to the sale and saving 30 percent on towels and bed linens.

And this little gem that should be a bumper sticker:

Any young persons who have been inspired by Mr. Bush to take up public service should be watched very closely.

Ahh, words of wisdom.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Crippling laminating injury

Yesterday I incurred a workplace injury that I would be humiliated to ever report to the Workman's Comp system. Why couldn't I have a COOL workplace injury, like a particularly deep paper cut or a horrible keyboarding accident. Nope, none of those--I suffered a LAMINATING injury! I was laminating some signs and one of them got stuck in the machine. The only way to get it out of the machine was to push the sign, forcing it through and hope that it catches. Well, I made the mistake of pushing the stupid sign perpendicular to my body, twisting myself as I pushed. This resulted in an unstuck lamination job and a crippling back throw-out. I hobbled around the office after that and it's still giving me grief. Great... just in time for having to help set up a dozen tepees! Thank goodness for Vicodin! It will serve to make me not care about not being able to help all the volunteers.

Speaking of which, I was really prone to throwing my back out when Margaret and I first got married. (I know what you're thinking--don't say a word... plus I've had physical therapy which is why my back doesn't usually go out now, not because... uh, anyway, moving on...). I had a standing prescription for muscle relaxants and I would take them at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I would take them just to sleep, rather than any back problems. (Hey, my back COULD have gone out in my sleep!) Well Margaret eventually took them away from me! Can you believe it?!? I was the target of an intervention!!! Fortunately she only took my muscle relaxants away and never did find my stash of heroin. Knowing her, she'd have taken THAT away from me, too! Althought I'm totally fleeing the country if she tries to stage a caffeine intervention!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The longer I live in Portland, the more I'm convinced that this is Neverland. The entire city seems to be teeming with Lost Boys (and Girls) who refuse to grow up... not that that's a bad thing, mind you. Examples include the Pirate Festival--I mean, can you even imagine such a thing being held in Dubuque, Iowa, let alone being a huge smash hit? How about the city-wide talent show's winner... a couple singing "I Need a Hero" while dressed in tights and leg warmers for the girl, and skin-tight silver lamé pants for the guy? And there's the sporadic pillow fight in the downtown square that attracts thousands of people and leaves the area looking like it's covered with new-fallen snow. Well, this morning's paper had an article that would have been just as at home in the satire paper The Onion. Evidently there's a group here that have started, get this... wait for it... a PENCIL FIGHT CLUB! Yes, all the drama of a real fight club, without the messy bruises, cuts, and accidental deaths (although it CAN leave nasty splinters!) Can you believe that? When's the last time you even THOUGHT of pencil fights? I haven't participated in the sport since I was in the sixth grade. In fact I can still remember a doping scandal in the underground world of pencil fighting at Lapwai Elementary School. When someone complained about the undefeated status of the school champion, people started snooping and discovered that the champion's winning pencil, dubbed "The Punisher" had been carefully drilled out with the lead in the Ticonderoga No. 2 replaced with REAL lead! That thing weighed three times as much as a natural, steroid-free pencil, and sliced through un-doped pencils like butter. That incident drove the decision of the international sporting body World Pencil Fighting Federation to begin mandatory pencil testing. Not coincidentally, that's when pencil fighting became less popular at my school. The WPFF's draconian measure really sucked the soul from the game and forced us all into the shady underground sport of marbles.

Anyway, back to the pencil fight club. Some bar here in town set up a tournament and attracted quite a few competitors. They used up the equivalent of two giant redwoods in pencils in the deadly matches. The winner was a girl who had never pencil fought before. Here's a quote from the article:

"Janet Foxman, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who grew up in Portland before studying poety at Boston University, stashed her battle-worn pencils in her hair as she advanced through the bracket. She shunned the standard pencil-fighting attack in favor of an arm-swinging chop, which was within the rules on this night. 'I just hit as hard as possible,' Foxman said. 'I think the men in the competition were very timid with the flicking.'

"Unger, Foxman's final-round opponent, accepted his defeat but did question the winning technique. 'That was never seen in the hallways,' he said. 'But it's like, whatever, we're having fun here."

See, it's all about the fun. (And using questionable fighting techniques.) I particularly like the reference to hallway fighting etiquette. The organizer is moving on to organizing the next competition of another schoolyard staple... Four Square! I'm just waiting for the wedgie competition and swirly championships.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The opposite of a shotgun wedding

A friend sent me this article. I can't believe that these parents thought this was going to work!

Here’s one way to stop a wedding
Parents drove their daughter out of state, face kidnap charges

SALT LAKE CITY - The parents of a bride-to-be told their daughter they were taking her on a shopping trip, but then drove to Colorado and kept her there until she missed the nuptials, officials said.

Did they tie her up? How hard would it have been to take a bus, call a friend, or even hitchhike! She obviously didn't take to heart Eliza Dolittle's dad's song, "Get me to the church on time." For most people, wild horses couldn't keep them away (although I have heard of some being delayed by hunting season.)

Lemuel and Julia Redd have been charged with second-degree felony kidnapping. Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson said Tuesday he met with the couple’s daughter, Julianna, and her now-husband Perry Myers before charging the parents.

“I’ve never had a case quite like this,” Bryson said. “It is strange that parents would go to that extent to keep an adult daughter from marrying the man that she had chosen to marry.”

You have to wonder what this guy was like thtat they would take such an extreme measure. Was he horribly disfigured? Weak testimony? or the worst: POOR?

The Redds told their 21-year-old daughter they were taking her on a shopping trip Aug. 4 and then drove 240 miles from Provo to Grand Junction, Colo., according to Provo police Capt. Rick Healey. Myers, 23, called police when his bride didn’t attend a pre-wedding dinner with his parents that night.

She should have been suspicious at that point--prior to that they'd only taken her to the Provo Wal-Mart! Plus why in the world did she agree to go to Colorado on a shopping trip THE DAY BEFORE HER WEDDING!?!

The Redds spent the night in Colorado and drove back to Provo, about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, the next day, Healey said. They arrived after the young couple was supposed to have been married in a ceremony that day at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple in Salt Lake City.

The couple, both students at Brigham Young University, were married in the temple on Aug. 8, Myers said. They are expecting their first child in May.

Hmm, seems a little fast. Maybe they knew that without a child on the way, the parents would have tried to have the marriage annulled.

The Redds didn’t want their daughter to get married, but the bride has been reluctant to say what happened on the drive. Myers said he and his wife were not discussing details of the car ride but said her parents’ objections were not about him.

Can you imagine that 6-hour car ride, with an anxious bride and conniving parents? Did they play it cool and try to convince her that they were shopping for the wedding or did they use the opportunity to give a 6-hour sermon to a captive audience? Maybe they just distracted her the entire way by singing "999 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

“It really has nothing to do a lot with me. It really is some issues with the family,” he said.


Bryson said after reviewing the police investigation it was clear a crime was committed. Charges were filed Friday.

Lemuel, 59, and Julia Redd, 56, are scheduled to make an initial court appearance Oct. 26. If convicted, the Redds could face one to 15 years in prison.

Talk about awkward family dinners. I guess you just try to steer clear of the 800-lb. gorilla of OUR DAUGHTER SENT US TO PRISON FOR FIFTEEN YEARS!

A call made to a listing for Lemuel H. Redd at the address in Monticello, Utah, listed in court documents went unanswered Tuesday. No attorney for the Redds is listed in court documents and it couldn’t immediately be determined if they had legal representation.

Now these parents are going to be forced to break up the marriage the old-fashioned way: by systematically ostracizing, belittling, shunning, and criticizing the new husband until he leaves their daughter destitute and pregnant. That's a much more effective method than going on an extended shopping trip. Amateurs!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Phew, I'm exausted just WRITING this

Here it is noon on Sunday and I'm still a little bleary-eyed after last night's happenings. Knowing that this coming week is going to be a hell week in preparation for the big event next weekend, I thought that we should go out and do something that would make me forget all about the stress and aggravation in store for me for the next seven days. Well, Margaret contacted the gang with an idea to meet for snacks, etc. around 5:30, then go to PIZZAZZ!, the citywide talent show at our local movie theatre. It was all organized and we were looking forward to it all day. Since the restaurant and theatre are within walking distance of our house, we forwent our car and just strolled down Hawthorne, enjoying the sunny afternoon. Well, when Margaret and I got down to the restaurant (which was on 52nd Avenue), she remarked that she could have SWORN that she'd emailed an address on 42nd Avenue. I called one of our friends to confirm the location for their email, and sure enough, we'd overshot the restaurant by 10 blocks! So by the time we'd gotten to the real destination, we were hot--Margaret especially, since she had on a wig, which is way more insulating that even a Gore-tex ski cap. Anyway, when we got to the restaurant, there was a small sign saying that they were going to be closed that evening for a private event! By this time, some other friends were already showing up. They were looking for a good happy hour, and I called a nearby restaurant and confirmed with them that their happy hour ended at 6, giving us 1/2 hour to get down there. Well, when we got down there, they said that it really ended at 5:30. In frustration, we just went over to a local burrito bar. When we sat down, another couple who just arrived said that the line to get into the talent show was over a block long already... and we hadn't bought advance tickets! Aiieee. A friend and I decided to just get some food at the theatre and went to stand in line right then. It's a good thing we did, too, as the line eventually snaked around two sides of the block!

The talent show was well worth the wait, however. It was hilarious to see some of the random acts that were gathered. It was very Portland to see firedancers (performing with electric fire due to fire codes), singers, dancers, and YODELING COWBOYS!!! It had it ALL! Most of the acts were PG or PG-13, with the occassional spike into R territory, but it was all in good fun. And to top it off, the yodeling cowboys came in second place! Yee-haw!

After the show, Margaret was itching to go out dancing. I've been sick lately, so was feeling a little lethargic, but went along anyway. Well, when we got to the dance club, I was yawning so much it was kind of embarassing... like I was looking like I wasn't impressed with the scene. I decided to try something I've never had before in an attempt to rectify the situation... I had a Red Bull (and they even come in diet, so it was just pure caffeine, etc., and none of the pesky sugar). Well THAT really did the trick. I was going strong, and a couple of times Margaret and a friend that came along with us were ready to leave and I kind of maneuvered them back onto the dance floor. We didn't get home until after 1:00, and at that point, I think the Red Bull had worn off, because I really don't remember much after opening the door to the house. So I'm here to say that Red Bull DOES give you wings, but, like Daedelus, those wings make you fly too close to the sun and you end up crashing.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Ugg, these next two weeks are my equivalent to the seventh ring of Hell. I have to coordinate the creation of an entire Indian village in a state park--and it's so authentic that the site doesn't even have electricity! We set up a dozen tepees, and given Portland's infamous weather, there's a good chance that the heavy canvas tepees will be weighed down with 450 lbs. of rainwater as we try to put them up. After the event, I almost don't know what to do with myself, but prior to it, it's all I can think of. I usually start losing sleep over it starting two weeks beforehand, but this year has been different. I am fighting a major cold, and so I have to take Nyquil to get some sleep. Well, a drug-induced slumber is just the ticket to prevent me from stressing about things and keeping me awake. Maybe I should take it until the event, despite the fact that my cold feels about over.

Or I could use my grandmother's homemade cough remedy, which includes honey, lemon, and WHISKEY! That should REALLY get me to forget my stress!

Monday, October 02, 2006


On Friday, Margaret and I went out to dinner and a movie. While we were at the restaurant, I felt my heart start racing, but didn't feel light-headed or anything, so I just ignored it. Later on, at the movie, it started really going--enough so that when I put my hand on my chest, I could actually FEEL the pounding up out of my chest! I told Margaret to feel it the next time it did it, at which time she got all worried. I can tell you that there were lots of things going through my mind during that movie--not many of them were about what was on the screen. I swore I'd give up caffeine, since I thought that's why my heart was racing. I wondered if I had on clean underwear, in case I had to go to the emergency room (thanks, Mom!). I was glad that we'd just paid up our life insurance policies. But through all this sense of impending death, I was perplexed at why I didn't feel out of the ordinary. Then it hit me... on Thursday, I'd started a new chest exercise and had really worked my pectoral muscles. Evidently I'd strained them more than I'd thought. What I was feeling wasn't my heart at all... it was my muscle spasming! Whew!

I celebrated my new lease on life with some sweet, sweet caffeine that I was so willing to forego just a few minutes prior. (And by the way, I DID have on clean underwear.)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Veiled world

I love to wake up to a foggy morning. There's something about seeing the world slightly filtered and obscured that makes me feel like I've stepped into a mystery. The gray-whiteness reveals trees, houses, cars slowly and partially as I walk towards them, with those things I've just passed slowly fading into obscurity. Lights take on a grander importance... fog has the ability to magnify a simple stop light--giving it an eerie red halo. Sounds take on a slightly muted tone. The fog creates a kind of "reality-lite" which I wholeheartedly prefer over bright, glaring reality. I wish I could live in "reality-lite" longer, but here in Portland, the fog always lifts by mid-morning and I suddenly find myself in harsh, blinding reality.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Troop Pompous Scouts

I was talking with someone at work yesterday about camping for scouts and it reminded me of what a complete ass I made of myself time and time again as a Boy Scout. And don't get me started on the futile attempt the scoutmasters made in their efforts to turn me into a self-sufficient woodsman, when in reality, I was more of a day-hiker-regular-bed-sleeping-non-blackened-food-eating city-dweller. To this day, I don't mind camping as long as I'm not responsible for gathering and packing the necessities--like a sleeping bag or sensible shoes. I seem to always be able to remember to bring chips and yahtzee, but time and again, Margaret and I will have gotten to a camping location and discovered that I've forgotten to bring something--and not some obscure, we-can-make-do-without-it kind of thing, but a we're-gonna-starve-or-die item, like a knife, or maybe matches, or perhaps, God forbid my iPod! Fortunately all our camping has been car camping, where we fold down the back seat of the Jetta and lay out a bed. I love it because we stay dry, warm, and bears and escaped convicts can't get us in our locked car with the alarm activated. And nothing says the great outdoors like being spooned by the gentle curves of German engineering.

Well, back to the scout memories of me being an ass--or at least a pompous twit. One time (I'm using this story just as an example, as there are unfortuantely MANY more similar to it that I could recount. If I told too many of them, though, the Boy Scouts of America national office would probably revoke my Eagle Scout badge--or at least make me retake my knot-tying exam, which I would miserably FAIL!) Anyway, on one scout trip, my best friend and I thought we'd bring expensive, presumptuous food items to make us feel superior to the kids that brought sandwiches and pop. (We hadn't yet learned that we could feel MUCH more superior by simply destroying other's self-esteem... that discovery came a few months later, but we... uh... never used it... really.) We went to the grocery store prior to the campout and carefully selected melba-style bread crackers, brie, some kind of pepper spread, a cheesecake, and bottles of Perrier! What would have been more appropriate on a picnic in the English countryside packed by faithful servants we were bringing on an arduous hike in the dry, dusty trails of backcountry Idaho! Thinking back, I'm just cringe at what we had to have been thinking. Especially since we were Idahoans--it wasn't like we were so sophisticated ourselves. When it came time to pull out our lunches, we made a big deal about our food. I'm sure that most of the other scouts didn't notice, and the ones who did probably didn't even recognize that what we were eating was out of the ordinary. Although I do remember one scout leader from another group from Kamiah, Idaho--a town of maybe 2,500 people--sitting down next to us. We made a big deal about drinking our Perrier, thinking that he'd be impressed because even though we were from the boondocks, he was from the STICKS! His response was, "When I was in France, I stayed at a hotel where you flushed the toilet with Perrier." Huh? What kind of response was that? And was that supposed to be impressive? We just thought he was an idiot (and conveniently ignored the fact that we were acting like idiots, too).

Nowadays, my palate runs the gamut of social strata. I'm just as happy with a Taco Bell soft taco and Diet Coke as I am with a good cheese or a densely layered tiramisu. Although to this day, every time I drink a Perrier, I think of French toilets--one more reason to stick to Diet Coke!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Have a seat

This morning I saw the following news item, which is in my favorite city in the world--the small southern Norwegian city of Kristiansand. Anyway, here's the article, which definitely speaks for itself:

Urination will go to committee

A local decision that schoolboys must sit on toilet seats when urinating has provoked political debate.

The head of The Democrats Party, a splinter group of former Progress Party hardliners, Vidar Kleppe, is outraged that boys at Dvergsnes School in Kristiansand have to sit and pee.

Kleppe accuses the school of fiddling with God's work, and wants the matter discussed at the executive committee level of the local council, newspaper Dagbladet reports.

"When boys are not allowed to pee in the natural way, the way boys have done for generations, it is meddling with God's work," Kleppe told the newspaper.

"It is a human right not to have to sit down like a girl," Kleppe said.

Principal Anne Lise Gjul at Dvergsnes School would not comment on Kleppe's plans to make political waves and regretted if anyone was offended by the ban on standing and passing water.

Gjul told NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting) that the young boys are simply not good enough at aiming, and the point was to have a pleasant toilet that could be used by both boys and girls.

So it wasn't about egalitarianism at all--it was about cleaning up (which, by the way, is why the Mormons have the Word of Wisdom which forbids alcohol, coffe, and tobacco--Joseph Smith's wife was complaining about cleaning up around the spitoons)!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Okay, I'll give you three guesses at what the unbelieveably cool event I was privvy to attend this weekend. Go ahead... guess... Noooooo, it wasn't the Archaeological Ramifications of the Book of Mormon on Navajo Architecture Symposium--that was sold out MONTHS ago... plus I'm of the belief that the Navajos were influenced more by the Greek gods. Okay, guess again... Nooooo, it wasn't the Non-pasteurized Milk Society's Annual Convention--I wouldn't want to be associated with the crazies that attend THOSE meetings (I had a bad experience at the NpMS meeting in Madison, Wisconsin back in 2003 and haven't been able to eat cheese curds or look at someone in a anatomically correct cow outfit ever since!... Don't ask!)

Okay, you give up? Well, I went to the Portland Pirate's Festival--and boy was it more than I could have dreamed! There were classic pirates, wenches, Johnny Depp-style pirates, British Redcoats, Scottish kilt-wearers, goths, vikings, and preppies (yeah, yeah... the last four have NOTHING to do with pirates, but how often to you have a reason to get dressed up as a viking? and okay, you busted me--the guy dressed up as the preppy was yours truly, and it kinda wasn't a costume.)

Getting in to the festival proved to be more of a lesson in queue-standing. I haven't shuffled from line to line that bad since I was at a church potluck! We waited in line for about 30 minutes to get in, after which I made a mad dash to the bathroom line, where I stood for another 5 minutes. After that close-encounter with the briny deep, I made my way to the food line, which was another 20 minutes or so. FINALLY, after all that, I was ready to see the sights of the festival.

My first stop was an amazing collection of handmade leather jerkins, vests, coats, and belts. I tried on the jerkin and felt like I should take up fencing... well, that or learn how to be a human football. I also got to see a pirate battle, the Redcoats capturing and hanging a pirate, a giant schooner, cannons being fired, and lots and lots of buxom maidens almost SPILLING out of their bustiers! Ahh, pirates... ahh, celebrating pirates... ahh, reveling in lawlessness. Could there BE anything more Portland? I don't think so. (Well, maybe if you could have bought marijuana from one of the voodoo vendors, but as it was it was pretty close to perfectly Portland.) Now I can't wait until next year. I'm going to be so into it I'm considering cutting off one of my legs at the knee so I can convincingly wear a peg leg. THAT'S how excited about this event! In fact I'm so excited by it, I'm totally blowing off the Benedictine Monk Silence Festival that's scheduled on the same day.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Eating meme

Here's a list of five questions I shamelessly stole off a friend's blog (thanks, Trace).

1. Given a choice, and imagining that money and time were no object, would you rather cook dinner, eat out or order in?
This on is a no-brainer. I'm the kind of person who could eat the exact same thing every day--which is largely what I do: bagel with peanut butter washed down with Diet Coke for breakfast, a soft and a crunchy taco (fresco style) from Taco Bell...washed down with Diet Pepsi for lunch, and then some variety for dinner...washed down with Diet Pepsi. So I guess I'd rather eat out, because I can get the exact same thing every day but don't have to clean up after myself--and who's got the energy these days?

2. What is the most elaborate meal you've ever prepared yourself or purchased at a restaurant?
I (with copious help from Margaret) hosted Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was excellent (aside from having to make a new batch of stuffing because we'd left it out the night before and didn't want to poison anyone.) And this time, our stove didn't even electrocute my mom (which it did several Thanksgivings ago!

3. What food do you find yourself making and/or eating way too much?
See answer to Question 1 above.

4. What was your most disastrous cooking/eating out experience?
One time, my six-year-old sister and I were making brownies from a microwave cookbook. We didn't have any chicken eggs, but we did have some turkey eggs. Also, I didn't know that Quik and baking chocolate were two different things. Needless to say, the pan had to be thrown out because we couldn't get the dark brown chocolate brick out of it.

5. Would you rather cook for someone else or have them cook for you?
If I could get away with only having to bake the occasional snickerdoodle and pop microwave popcorn, I would do it in a heartbeat.