Friday, December 28, 2012

Caught walking down the street near Baby Beach

Here's a family portrait shot by the Google Earth car when the Rombach clan took a stroll to Prince Kuhio Park in Kauai.

Orwell, you were so, so right. So right.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Axe to grind

Attention People Who Make Axe Handles These Days: You Are Not Good At What You Do.

You can see by the faded pink on this fiberglass handle here that the axe has clearly been out in the elements, got UVed, brittle and broke. That chunk missing from the middle is where I got pissed and swung the thing into the wood pile, visualizing heads of people in the fiberglass handle industry. It was cathartic.

As far as me letting this get UVed, an axe isn't something I will ever bring inside out of the weather, swaddle in velvet and prop it's feet up next to the fire. It's an axe. It's supposed to be tough. It belongs outside.

I probably shouldn't get worked up about handles on tools. But new axe and maul handles break at a discouraging rate and I've gone through a passel of them and it pierces me off. You bust a handle, go to get a replacement and the new wood replacement handles I've tried also break, then it's just a couple bucks more for a whole new axe with another crappy handle and there you are again later, swirling around in a predicament nobody cares about but me and it's lonely, so lonely.

In contrast, here's the double-bit axe I got from my grandfather that's, what, probably at least 30 years old at least and still cranking out what it's supposed to do with the original handle.

I burn wood in the house, my office, my hot tub and my shop. Lots of chopping. I like it when people bitch about the cost of heating oil or propane because that's a problem I don't share.

On the bright side, I bought a new handle to have laying around and went and tapped on old head on there after breaking that fiberglass piece of shit -- though I see now I should have kept tapping, as this thing isn't quite seated down right . . . but I like this Norlund head. Cuts so good I just have to hold it up to a piece of firewood and the pieces are intimidated into splitting themselves.

Also check out the closeup on the guy in a canoe. I like it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Foggy app for iPhone

Never thought I'd get into engineering apps, but then I stumbled upon an exciting technique for taking shitty photos without the hassle of dowloading Instagram or whatever.

To achieve the look and feel of the following steelhead picture, simply carry your cameraphone in the pocket of your waders until moisture fogs up the lens, then voila'.

It's so vintage and classy and stuff. As opposed to this next one, taken by my pal Mike whose camera was not equipped with my patented foggy lens.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Waiting for the train

And Furthermore column, Wallowa County Chieftain. December 5, 2012

Santa Claus sent me a letter this year, via his attorneys, and I’m trying not to panic. The upshot of this letter, or “injunction,” as they call it, is that my requests for future gifts are being put on hold until I can demonstrate appropriate use of gifts already received, namely a train set I was all excited about but haven’t been using.

I’m in a bind here, because the train isn’t really mine. It belongs to Wallowa and Union counties. They bought it and played with it some at first, then let other kids park their train cars on the tracks. Then last year I got all excited because there was talk of the train carrying rafters and fishermen again between Rondowa and Minam, about nine miles along the Wallowa River down to the Grande Ronde through a roadless section. It’s a beautiful stretch for day trips and steelheading. I work as a rafting guide so having that train service again was splendid news.

That’s when I wrote Santa asking to pretty please make it true that the train would start running again. And it did, sort of. I live by the tracks and waved at it a few times. But I should have been more specific and asked for the train to keep running. Especially the 48 fishing trips and 48 rafting trips that were talked about, but didn’t materialize.

Wallowa-Union Railroad Authority, or WURA (pronounced “wooh-ruh,” I think), contracted with Sierra Nevada and Pacific Railroad, or SNAP (pronounced, “where are you guys?”) to take over managing the trains. SNAP crackled and popped with all sorts of fun ideas, including the notion of bringing in an old fancy choo choo train called the Blue Goose that runs on steam. But then it appeared all their steam got used up talking about neato ideas.

But let’s back up. Wouldn’t Sierra Nevada and Pacific Railroad be SNaPR, instead of SNAP? You can’t just promote “and” to a capital letter and leave out the “Railroad” part, can you? That might give the impression you’re good at snappy presentations but aren’t too concerned with the actual railroad part. Coincidentally, that’s the impression I’ve been getting.   

But on the front page of the Chieftain last week (Rail line’s operator hopes to renegotiate pact with counties), Rob Ruth reports that the head of SNaPR, Court Hammond, is gathering steam to get things back on track. That was two train references in one sentence. I hope you enjoyed that.

Let me know if I can help, Mr. Hammond. I’ll run that Minam to Rondowa stretch myself if it will help. Set me up with a handcar and I’ll hire some local football players to crank the handles up and down and we’ll get rail service going through that gem of a river canyon. We’ll call it Old Fashioned Way Railways, or SNaZZY, for short.

I caught six steelhead one day on a steelhead train excursion back when it used to run. That’s a great day for any steelheader and if you’ve seen me fish, you know it’s mind boggling. I met other people on the train with similar experiences. 

I truly believe that river train will be good for Wallowa County. People were coming out here from all over to fish from the steelhead train, spending their money at Wallowa County hotels, restaurants, stores, speakeasies, gas stations, spreading out dollars. And steelhead seasons are outside normal tourism months. It was cold and gray, but folks were still enjoying Wallowa County and talking about bringing their families back during the summer. You could just feel the economy being stimulated.

Tom Farnam losing his train of thought.
 So let’s get that train rolling. Otherwise, as Santa’s North Pole legal team pointed out in their nasty letter to me, if we’re not going to play with our train set there are thousands of bicycles delivered each year to Wallowa County residents and visitors who would be tickled to peddle down the path if it were converted to a trail. Bike paths also stimulate the economy. We could call it the Wallowa-Union Scenic Bikeway, or SHAZAM, for short.

Jon Rombach is a local columnist for the Chieftain. He wrote to Santa this year asking for the forest roads to stay open so he can cut firewood. Also a pony. And a Red Ryder BB gun.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rolling on Shabbos

I don't understand it. I get strikes all the time in baseball, but can't seem to translate that to bowling.

My sister will be having a child in three short weeks, which means I should be able to beat her at bowling, right? Incorrect. She beat everybody. Including her daughter Anna. In the following photo you can see Jessica reaching over to mess with Anna's delivery. That's pretty low down if you ask me.

I asked Claire to examine my bowling form to see if she could find what I was doing wrong.

She figured it was my lack of follow-through. Also my form. And general uncoordinatedness.

Another bowler to watch out for is Grandma Mary Ann, known to the illegal high-stakes bowling circuit as "Pin Killer." Do not bet this woman on what she calls a quote "friendly game" to quote "make things interesting." You will quote "lose."

I do like the rental shoes though. I will say that about bowling.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Close-knit with a loose weave

Extended Director's Cut of 'And Furthermore' column, Wallowa County Chieftain, Nov. 14 2012

Teru was a 25-foot sailboat I lived on in Hawaii. My sailing experience before that involved many long hours of really, really wanting a sailboat, and that was about it. I did some speed-reading of all the how-to-sail books from the Lahaina Public Library, bought the cheapest boat afloat in the Hawaiian islands and started sailing up a steep learning curve. I had mixed results with this crash course approach, including one crash. Teru was driven onto a reef during a storm and I hope to never again hear the sickening noise of a fiberglass boat grinding on coral. Friends and I were able to save her, but it took a lot of hustling. 

Scan of an old battered photo. Moored off Maui.
The occasional hair-whitening moments of terror were offset with ideal moments on the boat, like falling asleep listening to humpback whales songs drifting through the hull. Or coffee in the mornings with a sea turtle who sometimes showed up to visit.

My sailing days were a stack of calendars ago, but I still like me a good boat talk when I can get it and got a dose when I ran into Lee Phelps, back home from his job on the old-timey square rigger Bounty. Lee stopped by my house for a Halloween shindig and we talked sailing. A few days later I saw the headline that his ship had gone down. Couldn't believe my eyes, so looked again and it still said the Bounty had gone down.

I had a very different conversation with Lee after the Bounty sank that ran in the Chieftain last week ("HMS Bounty sailor home when Sandy sinks ship"). Lee is sorry he wasn’t there. I would expect him to buy lottery tickets during such a run of luck, but no. One friend killed, his captain lost at sea. Ship went under in a hurricane. That’s nightmare material to most people and Lee regrets not being there.

I think I can understand Lee’s reaction, but it took me a while as I have very clear memories of being frightened in a few bad situations on my boat, wishing I was anywhere else provided it involved me being on land. Any land. I made deals with myself that if I got back safely I’d get rid of the boat and quit sailing for good. Then along would come a perfect day with dolphins swimming alongside, the wind just right, everything rainbows and mermaids, and I’d make a different deal that involved sailing around the world and doing this always.

At one point I was trying to outfit my scrappy little boat for a crossing to Fiji. The list of things I needed outpaced my bank account, so I tried to cut corners by imagining worst case scenarios and planning around them with limited resources. Turns out I'm far better at imagining horrific situations than planning around them. And that's when the nightmares started. I read every sea disaster story I could find to acquaint myself with what to expect, then went to sleep and had real, honest-to-goodness, wake-up-yelling scary dreams of sinking, storms, being adrift in a liferaft I didn't have, all sorts of fun variations. I gave myself a black eye one night, jumping out of bed in a panic and slamming my face into the low cabin ceiling overhead.

4 1/2-foot headroom. Watch your head.
So I had to think about this subject of wishing you were there for a hurricane.

It was Lee wanting to be there for his friends that makes sense of it for me. He answered my question of why on earth a person would wish to be involved with a disaster at sea and convinced me it was simply to be there and help.

Lee, on the left, with amigos.
This may sound sappy and dramatic and I hope it does, because that’s what I’m aiming for. The sailing community was very good to me. Watched out for me. Out of pity, most likely, but I was surprised with continuous and gracious help and support. The little boat communities of Mala Wharf and Manele Bay where I kept Teru put me next to some of the kindest neighbors a guy could hope for. 

One particular crusty and antisocial loner went out of his way to help, and not because he wanted to be friends. He made it crystal clear he would prefer not to be speaking to me, or anyone, but had to point out things on my boat he could help me fix. He wasn’t even nice about it, as he was being nice. Eventually he just left parts on my boat when I was gone with no note, no explanation. He refused payment, saying they were spares he didn’t need and I did. I think he did it because ... boats. Just boats. I know he didn’t like me. He didn’t think much of Teru, either. But still he kept helping.

Sure, boats are a hole in the water you throw money into. Yes, the two happiest days of a boat owner’s life can be the day you buy it and the day you sell it. But some people have their whole lives centered around living on those holes on the water. I sat on boats and looked at photo albums as proud owners showed pictures from early construction to shakedown cruise to living aboard with the same feeling parents show baby, graduation and wedding photos.

Close-knit with a loose weave, is the best I can do to describe the sailing community I got to know. Individuals on a big ocean all doing their own thing, but determined to help other boats when needed because they’re all essentially in the same boat. Wallowa County reminds me of a land-based version of that cooperation.

My own little shipwreck close to shore doesn’t compare to a 180-foot ship going down with loss of life. But I still had friends rushing to be there, in the water, doing whatever they could. So I can understand Lee Phelps saying he wishes he’d been there for his friends. And if Lee is that dedicated to his friends, I sure don’t want to get on his bad side.

Teru hauled out after her scrape on the reef.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Free Parking and Paintjob

This guy has a woodstove to spraypaint and no meddlesome breeze drifting overspray onto his, or the nice truck next to his, is going to stop him.

Just going for it. A nice Columbia River Gorge wind dispersing black paint directly onto his and a stranger's truck. There's even windmills in the background, fer chrissakes. That's how wind-prone it is where he decided he'd break out the rattlecan.

I didn't stick around to see him beaten to death with his own can of spray paint when the owner of that white truck came out of the gas station store, but I bet it was quite a show.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Attack of the scorpion crawdad

Rolled over a piece of firewood from a pile in the yard and almost got attacked by this monster –

Yegads. I haven't been in the desert for a while, but my brain still hit the 'Scorpion Alert' button that makes you scream like a little girl and jump back.

Then my brain hit the 'Um, It's Just a Crawdad' button. Which makes you look around to see if the neighbors are aware you just screamed like a girl.

There's a little stream about 30 yards away, so this creature had do some traveling in order to hide under the pile of wood and scare me. Good one, crawdad. You got me. And you tasted delicious with butter and lemon, by the way. No, no. I carefully placed him back in the water. After stomping on him with my boot. No, no, no. He went home unscathed. 

Here's something interesting nobody will probably find interesting. These trees here are sharing a stump, but not genetics. It's an odd couple with a larch on the left and a fir on the right. Again, I find that interesting and you probably don't, so let's just agree to agree that I'm fairly easily amused when I'm out in the woods looking at trees.

To make a crawdad scorpion trap of your own, find a tree and cut it down. It will look something like this –

Then cut it into smaller pieces, pile it in your yard. Let it rain for a day to draw the crawdad.

Last step is to stack it under your porch and get ready for winter.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Time Lapse Huskies

Miss Bula at 7 weeks:

Szia about the same age:

 All growed up.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Secret recipe for terrible homemade jerky

Want to make jerky at home? Sure you do.

Feel like trying a little different approach when preparing your jerky meat? Why not.

I heard from a chef that some marinades use Sprite, the carbonated beverage. Something about the sugars helping break down the meat to make it more tender.

I had some not-so-choice cuts of venison I wanted to make into jerky, so thought I'd give it a whirl. Whipped up different batches of marinade, with a normal version and two variations on the soda additive.

I don't really like Sprite, so I used 7-Up for one recipe and heard Coca-Cola can also be used, so I tried that too.

The use of a meat tenderizer mallet or whatever they're called was also suggested. I don't have one of those, but I am the proud owner of a framing hammer with a waffle head, and can vouch for its tenderizing capabilities from smashing my finger in the past. So I banged away on the strips of venison with that.

Here's maybe where I went wrong. I let the stuff marinate overnight and now suspect that may have been too long, because the the normal batch came out great. Loved it. Kind of spicy, little smoky. Just right.

The 7-Up and Coke versions, on the other hand, tasted like . . . what's the word? . . . shit.

They had the definite flavor of old, flat, crappy-tasting soda. Exactly what it soaked in. I'm not sure if there's a connection there.

I spit one out, gave the rest to Bula the Wonder Dog and she wasn't thrilled about it either.

I even re-marinated the stuff to try and wash that flat gross taste away. No go. Flat soda taste still clung to it like the residue on your floormats after spilling a carbonated beverage in your car months ago.

In related news, I'm now selling dog treats for owners who want to train their dogs to not beg for treats.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Nine-finger typing technique

And Furthermore column, Wallowa County Chieftain, October 2012

I’ve learned to not be surprised when I make bad decisions, but this last one was really kind of impressive. I had half a deer to finish cutting up to get in the freezer, not much time to do it and lots more to do before a Hells Canyon raft trip leaving early the next morning. But I took the time to really sharpen two special knives.

I inherited these and a honing steel from my grandpa, who used them in his butcher shop. The big knife looks like something a pirate would use to board another vessel. The other is small and handy. Perfect for butcher work.

I put an edge on both that made easy ribbons of the freezer paper I was using to test. Happy with the meticulous sharpening, I remembered this was a rush job so I got busy and in no time at all trimmed the very tip off my ring finger.

I had some time to reflect while waiting for the bleeding to stop. Butcher skills are not hereditary, apparently. Professional meatcutters are vital members of society. A chainmail glove from a shark suit might be a wise investment. I’m an idiot. And that thing sure is bleeding a lot. Those were the highlights of my thought process.

Some of the finished product.
Typing is no fun without the end of one finger. I can tell you that. I was just glad I didn’t have a piano recital or any fingertip pushups scheduled for that day. But I did need to row a gearboat and set up camps in Hells Canyon, which involves lots of contact between a finger and things that make you want to scream.

This trip was a joint production with local outfitter Winding Waters River Expeditions in Joseph and Plate & Pitchfork from Portland, run by Erika Polmar who organizes dinners at farms, orchards, ranches and so forth. You go see where your food comes from, meet the folks growing it, then a hotshot chef whips up a blowout meal right there with fancy tablecloths and all. Craig Nichols of 6 Ranch, just outside Enterprise, is also a river guide, so the guests saw Corriente cattle before and after a professional butcher had processed the meat while keeping their hand out of the way of the blade.

We ate well. Real well. Guest chefs were Leather Storrs and Joseph Hickey from the restaurant Noble Rot in Portland. I had a few questions for them about names. Noble Rot has something to do with wine grapes and Leather is on his birth certificate as his actual middle name. John is his first name and he figured there were plenty of Johns, not many Leathers, so he went that route. I’d probably do the same, except my given name is Jonathan Polyester Rombach.

One of the guests on the trip was Rick Steves, as in Rick Steves the travel guy who steers more visitors around Europe than all the cab drivers and train conductors combined, through his guide books, TV and radio programs.

Interview with Steves. Note the bandaged ring finger.
Paul and Penny Arentsen, owners of Winding Waters, met Steves in Europe a while ago and invited him and his girlfriend Trish out here to Wallowa County for this combo trip with primo food on a rafting adventure. It was a great trip and a perfect finish to the rafting season. Although I’m having trouble adjusting back to my own cooking after meals prepared by professional chefs. And I’ve completely lost my appetite for venison finger steaks.

Here’s a couple fun facts – Leather Storrs, the chef, is the son of the architect who designed the World Forestry Center building in Portland. I’m headed to that very place this week, where my dad, Jim Rombach, will be inducted into the Forestry Leadership Hall of Fame. I’m awful proud of him. Dad’s buddy, Bob Tokarczyk, is also becoming a Hall of Famer. I didn’t realize there was a Hall of Fame for forestry before this, but I’ve always wanted a baseball signed by a Hall of Famer and now it looks like I’ll get two autographs. Nice work you guys.

 Jon Rombach, a local columnist for the Chieftain, can type with nine fingers if he has to.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Close call

The sun went down today. Thought it was going to hit the Jeep but it landed behind the hill. Good thing, I just put the top back on that Jeep and would have been pissed.

Flock of Somethings

I was under a trailer trying to weld something but instead was getting red-hot embers in my ear hole, so I threw off the mask and looked up to see this squadron of largish bird creatures flying by.

Maybe they're vultures on their way to a guy crawling across a desert. But there were over 30 of them cruising together. I'm no ornithologist, I'll just admit that right off the bat. But the closest one looked hawkishy to me. Hawks don't fly in giant wads, do they?

This here is a zoomed in version and I messed with the contrast and whatever to try to get the silhouettes. Didn't do to great a job, but this was a camera phone.

Here's a zoomed out version showing most of the pack.

I'm not crawling across my lawn calling out for water until this matter is settled.

The physics of school time

Forgot to put this up last month. 

"And Furthermore" column, Wallowa County Chieftain, September 2012.

In line at the grocery store the other day, I was next to a dad and his daughter. She was maybe twelve years old and the checkout person smiled at her and asked, “Ready for school to start?”
There was a pause. A brief moment where you could see the girl check her first impulse and sift out the options on how she might answer. Her hesitation right there is the best example I’ve seen of what it is to be civilized. Because the genuine response from any kid asked by a smiling adult if they’re ready for summer to be over should be to immediately attack the adult taunting them. Just a wild shin-kicking, scratching assault to get across the message that, no, I’m not ready for school to start and here’s what you get for reminding me.
Instead, this well-mannered young girl thought it over. Her eye twitched a little. Then she forced a smile and said quietly, “I guess.” The checkout person smiled. The dad smiled. Even I smiled. I’m not sure what we were smiling about. What child is ever ready for summer to end? What kind of question is this? We don’t smile and ask prisoners who were just denied parole if they’re ready to go back in the slammer. Well, maybe we do. I’ve never served on a parole board so I could be wrong about that.
I think it’s a cruel practice to be asking students, and teachers for that matter, if they’re ready to go sit in that classroom for another whole year. But now that I think about it, we should rub it in more often. It makes a nice incentive for these kids to work toward graduation. I’m all for education, don’t get me wrong. School taught me to cherish the knowledge that I’ll never have to go to school again. And now I get to torment people who do have to sit in a classroom. That’s the real power of a diploma.
Kids, let’s get you started on your exciting new season of learning with a quick science lesson. You may be wondering, as I did when I was your age, what makes the hands of a clock in a classroom not move. Simple. But first, you have to understand the phenomenon of summertime moving faster than other times of the year. Let’s begin.
More sunbeams in the summer come through windows and land on calendars, which heats the molecules on the pages and causes them to speed up. So the days move faster. It’s pretty basic science. And because Ma Nature balances her checkbook, there’s an equal and opposite reaction through something called thermo-time dynamics which reduces the viscosity on the throwout bearings inside clocks during the colder months. This gets pretty technical, but just know that the basic forces at work here are beyond your control and it’s best if you try not to look at the clock. Another basic law of the universe is the Observer Effect, where the act of observation alters the thing you’re investigating. So basically, when you look at the clock in the classroom you stop time.
See, learning is fun. And after you grow up to be big and smart like all of us grownups asking if you’re ready to go back to school, you can apply these lessons to any field you want. Like brain research. You could do your doctoral thesis on the response of children who are asked if they’re ready for school to start. Measure how many pounds of resistance it takes for the child to not say what they’re really thinking, then divide that by how glad you are that summer is over, because now you’re all grown up and can’t wait for your own kids to be back in school.
So enjoy your time in the classroom. It isn’t so bad. You’ve got, uh . . . the holidays coming up. And there’s recess. Crayons. See, there’s lots of stuff to like about school. So learn a bunch and be nice to your teachers. And I’ll let you in on a secret – after you graduate and start working, you’ll find that office clocks don’t move any faster. If you don’t believe me just ask your teachers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

There Was a Crooked Shed

The thing about half-assing a job is that eventually somebody's going to have to fix that half-ass job with a half-ass repair, which makes it a quarter-ass production that holds for a while until it becomes an eighth and so on, until it just collapses.

What you see here is an intervention on the leaning woodshed of Pisa, which was listing severely to port and ready to go to ground in the next stiff breeze.

This edifice was constructed in the classical Wallowa County style of putting boards on a few random chunks of something hard, like an old brick or busted chunk of cinderblock, anchored with gravity and then called a "foundation." 

As an economy measure, they only drove one nail into the braces that might have kept things from shifting. Except one nail makes a nice pivot point where a couple more nails might have put up some resistance to this thing shrugging its way back to the earth.

One wall slid off the old brick & gravity foundation, so after creaking the whole affair more or less upright with some tow rope and a pickup truck – available at any hardware store – there was some fancy jacking with a Handyman and improvised post and beam made from semi-rotten 2x4s I can't believe didn't bust and crash down on my head.

Then, against every common sense safety guideline in the world due to the precarious jack situation holding up the building, it was a simple matter of coaxing the wall back into square using the truck, that chain drive hoist thingy and my rafting flip line.

Set it back down, add copious amounts of nails and a forest of additional bracing inside and, bingo, this shed is good to go for another I-don't-know-how long. Depends on the wind forecast.

Half-ass repair complete.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Joseph Canyon Overlook Strap Check

Fun fact: when you start down low then drive up high, the tubes of your raft will get tighter because due to the change in elevation air molecules inside have had a bunch of babies and it's more crowded in there. Happens every time. 

So it's good practice to stop at Joseph Canyon Overlook and relieve some pressure. Do not throw trash in those toilets, however. It is very difficult to remove. Also you should let some air out of the tubes on the raft.

Like most things, it helps if you have a helper. Mine is the lovely Miss Bula.

But keep in mind this view is one that seems to deny having a decent picture taken of itself. I dunno if it's all the depth, all that canyon running away in the distance. It just refuses to be photographed in a way that actually represents how badass it is. At least with me using the Easy setting on my camera. This may be a job for the pros.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"Double Down" is my single least-favorite phrase right now

Attention: Next Person To Write That Anyone Is "Doubling Down" On Anything:

If I see you writing that, I'm gonna hurt you. I'm gonna hurt you worse if you're writing about a politician doubling down on something. I'm gonna hurt you extra super bad if I see you writing that in a headline on something I'm going to read on the internet.

I've slowly been kindling dislike for this dumbass-term d'jour, and now it's in a full roar of blazing sick-of-it.

Knock it off.

It's OK on the blackjack table, nowhere else.

Add this to the list of fine phrases ruined by you people. That list includes synchronicity, a perfectly good made-up word by Buckminster Fuller that was kidnapped and turned into a monster that I now want to drive a wooden stake into.

I don't even want to call up the list of others. Just stop.

Monday, August 20, 2012

For Sail or Trade

I've given up on restoration plans for the sailboat. It pains me to say that, but this list of things to do has got to get shorter and the only way I see that happening is to scratch things off by giving up on them, because accomplishing things sure doesn't seem to happen.

So. This 1970-something, I think, Reinell sailboat is looking for a good home. Or a bad home. I don't care. Do whatever you want.

It's got an issue or two. Not the prettiest boat in the fleet. But it has strong points too. Like the trailer. The trailer is worth some bucks. Well, the sails are in good condition too. They're pretty spiffy. But it needs some TLC on the inside. And out.

Affordable. It's got that going for it.

I'll get some more details up, or put it on craigslist one of these days. But in the meantime if you're looking for your Black Pearl and you're on a budget, this might be your ship.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Helpful Contest: Verizon 0, Little Baby 1

My phone did this.

I know, I know, owning a flip phone wasn't going to get me invited to the big dance. But voices came in and out of it and it told me the time and we lived a happy life together. Just one day at a time. I won't say we had love, me and my flip phone. But it was . . . it was something like it.

Then, suddenly, she's lying there in my arms, broken in two. O, how I wept.

So I went to Verizon and said, hey, I'm going to get the new iphone when it comes out because I hear it will be magic, so how about you loan me some old phone you've got laying around until then.

Verizon furrowed its brow and clucked its tongue and looked embarrassed for me and shook its head, no. A thousand and one times no.

Uhm . . . I hate to admit this, but back in the day I was forced to dabble in the cell phone sales-sphere. And loaning old phones in cases like this was pretty standard.

I understand Verizon not wanting to hand out phones for free. I get that. And they get money from me every month, which I've been thinking of giving to some other company.

Malia, my friend Dave's daughter, is somewhere in the one-year old demographic and plays with her grandma Linda's old cell phone – which is Verizon, and is an awesome shade of pink.

There are other factors, but hear this, Verizon: had this infant not loaned me her toy phone, I may have jumped ship and gone with another carrier.

My customer loyalty hinges on the fact that you get better service out in the woods and if I ever give myself a flesh wound with an errant swipe of the chainsaw, then your expensive service might be worth it.

But I don't know. Now you've got me stealing toys from kids. This might be too far.


Just got this from Verizon.

Loyalty discount. Good one, Verizon.

Or, I could go with Baby Malia's wireless service, even if it just involves a network of Speak & Spells and baby monitors.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Flamed Hobbesmobile

My ibook keeled over and died on me some years back. Terminal harddrive failure, or I'd pissed off Steve Jobs or I don't know.

Got the data back, though, thanks to Travis at Wallowa Valley Net. Thanks, Travis.

So in the photo archives, first thing I saw was the Hobbesmobile. Named for what I always thought was a striking resemblance to the family car in Calvin & Hobbes. Observe. Their car.

And my car. Pretty much the same model.

Except for the obvious upgrades like that super-sweet custom flame job I painted. Daaaang.

And the super-custom twig grill with Copenhagen lid emblem. Can't order that out of JC Whitney. Inspired by original grill being stolen by the deer that crashed into it on Hurricane Creek Road.

While we're on the topic of these wheels, I'd like to thank the universe and Gary Wishart for this automobile. Gary called it the "Costanza," a fitting name for this Nissan Stanza.

So I got a job years ago that required a heap of travel. I thought, well, the '66 Ford is appealing to the eye and all, but may not be the finest choice for interstate travel anymore. If only I could find a vehicle for basically no money that gets good gas mileage. . . . and pretty much before I could finish listing what I was looking for, ran into Gary who asked if I knew anybody who wanted a pretty good car for $400 bucks.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

15 Centimeter Platform Dive – 3-year old Division

The 2012 Hotel Pool Olympics gold medalist for Pool Jumping-Into goes to young Anna Crawford of Eugene, Oregon. The young diver is relatively new to the sport, and pretty much everything else, as she just turned 3 years old.

Anna stunned the crowd at the Seven Feathers Aquatic Olympics Center with her enthusiastic style and seemingly-endless energy for jumping into the water over and over again.

Anna's coaching and training staff of Mom, Dad, sister Claire, Grandma and Grandpa, Auntie Jenn, uncles Erik and Jon, niece Emma and nephews Jacob and Joe were all delighted with her performance, overheard offering encouragement during the event such as, "Good one, Anna" and "OK, one more time."

In a controversial decision, Anna was also awarded the silver and bronze medals, as the judges decided the other kids in the pool who were strangers weren't nearly as cute.