Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Artic sea ice gone in 5 years!

Credit: NASA image created by Jesse Allen

Incredible-the data keep rolling in and it all points in the same direction-we're ******! It turns out that reality is much worse than climate model predictions. Just two years ago the projection for an ice-free artic was 2040. At the current rate, all ice could be gone by 2012. Chicken Little is finally right-with a vengeance, the sky apparently is falling. I’ll say it here-anyone who (still) doesn’t get that something momentous is happening is an idiot (and a dupe and watches Fox News)--read about it here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Montana: an apt name and really skookum, eh. I visit a power plant (carbon neutral, so there) in Montana occaisionally and so have a chance to see the sights. Here are pics from the last trip.

Along state Hwy. 200, Bambi and his brother- no quarter.

A line of slash piles.

They have guns in Montana, lots of guns.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Los Angeles County Museum of Art-Probably my favorite, most likely since my brother lives at Redondo Beach and I’m in the area periodically, so get to experience this top flight museum on a repeated basis. A really good museum is a continuing source of amusement and illumination. For example, I’d never been into the Americana style much, until I saw a full size Thomas Hart Benton and immediately...false distinctions disappeared and a sense of wonder filtered through.

I think it is that type of experience that helps us to maintain an open-eyed, child-like view of the world and keeps things interesting. I'm reminded of the first time my kids saw a work (in the LACMA again) that really shocked and impressed them. After being herded through every museum I could find on our travels and them more or less trying to appreciate (in a slack-jawed , glassy eyed kind of way) what they were seeing, their reaction to Bill Viola’s ‘Slowly Turning Narrative’ was deeply satisfying as I could see that all the time and effort had not been wasted. They spoke about the piece for days afterwards and have gladly gone without complaint on every museum jaunt since.

Slowly Turing Narrative, description from the web site: A large screen mounted on a floor-to-ceiling shaft is constantly rotating at the center of the room. An image of the artist's face in black-and-white is projected from one side, accompanied by a voice reciting a long list of individual states of being and actions in a repetitive, rhythmic chant. Color images of childhood memories, accidents, and medical operations are projected from the other side, with accompanying sounds. One side of the screen is mirrored, and it reflects the viewer's own image as well as the projected images which travel across the walls of the room as the screen turns, creating a swirling vortex of images in the space

Brendan and Kerry: in the garden on the way to the Japanese pavilion. On this visit they were showing Japanese ‘imaginings’ of the tiger. This collection of yamato-e (scroll style) paintings were done in the mid 1800s. What made this showing remarkable was that at the time, the Japanese had never seen one of these creatures live, they only knew them through their skins. They knew tigers were large, ferocious creatures but had to fill in the rest. So, all of the depictions are unique, capturing on the one hand an essence of the tiger and on the other this mythic imagining of what the tiger is…fascinating.

Monday, November 19, 2007

old pals

Me and The Gav (left).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Newman Lake: Another tree bites the dust-damn! This one had been dead for some time but I thought to leave it in place as habitat-oh well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


In the forests around Newman Lake there aren’t many broadleaf trees so you don’t see a lot of leaves swirling around, but you do get this, a conifer (tamarack or western larch) that loses it ‘needles’ and creates this fantastic golden brown carpet on the forest floor. This effect is only around for a few weeks and then it’s gone…

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Baby you can drive my car…

Yeah, yeah, yeah…this is the best Beatles compilation, ever…EVER! I should know, I’ve tried and my amateurish foray into a decent Beatles song cycle has finally been put to rest by this…yes…masterpiece. Access to the master tapes and original producer (the producers’ dad, George Martin) plus two years of labor probably helped a bit.

Some people don’t like it as it represents a significant remix or revision of the Beatles work and so is seen as sacrilegious, kind of like trying to improve upon the Koran. I think that's silly-what I know is that the last listen I had of Help! via CD sounded like crap, like it was recorded in 1965 or something. I don’t know how Mr. Giles Martin did it, but everything on this CD sounds as if were recorded yesterday--a huge achievement, highly recommended.

P.S. OK-so I've listened to this hear and there and while it has all the notable tunes it's missing my personal favorite 'Everbody's Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey), even so I still give it very hgh marks.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I love this place-it’s at once so familiar and so exotic. I would live here if I had the time. I grew up in Cali, so had to take California state history in high school, which was mostly about Mexico! So, it’s like I sort of grew up here-sort of. Anyway, the people are very friendly, the climate is perfect….living here would enable me to learn Spanish well enough so that I could begin to think in Spanish, after all….

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” Charlemagne

And who doesn’t want a second soul?

As a child, my parents would take me to the Jai Alai games in Tijuana. At the games, my fondest memory is of the tacos! Only 1 or 2 pesos apiece and they were fantastic-I’ve never been a big eater but I would gorge on those amazing tacos.

About ten years ago-the kids in a place called Tomatlan, wondering where in the world they are. I could live here...

On the boardwalk in Bucerias.

Too much sun & fun & food &etc. I think this was the first time in about 20 years I took a holiday without children. Notice the fake tattoo on the arm-poor choice eh?-it’s why tattoos are generally a bad idea. So, at this point in the holiday, I’m like the walking dead. I was cogent enough to realize that the meal here (River Café, Puerto Vallarta) was very good-better than anything in Spokane. I also thought Barcelona superb as it was served up simple, fresh, and excellent tapas. Both these places are as good as the Café des Artistes at a fraction of the price.

A real tough guy…and fully functional.

A small schoolhouse in the middle of a jungle with no electricity available. They beam in the lessons via satellite and use solar panels to power everything-pretty cool.

Friday, October 19, 2007


A few years back we were supposed to go to Istanbul, but two weeks before departure a couple of British banks in Istanbul were bombed, prompting the State Dept. to issue travel warnings for Turkey. I thought that perhaps the war in Iraq was expanding and so didn’t dare take my, at the time, minor children and ended up on a European vacation instead. One of the places we dropped in to was Zell Germany, on the Mosel River-a great place and area that I would return to in a second.

Zell: Brendan is next to our car, a Skoda that we scratched up when I drove through the very narrow streets of a medieval town (Brodenbach) when I shouldn’t have-next time I'll learn how to read the traffic signs.

Cochem, down the road from Zell: There was a flea market and meeting hall here and the people were super friendly. The meeting hall was serving gluwein (a kind of mulled wine), cause that’s all they really have around here (wine that is). There was so much wine bottles were stacked on pallets along the highway. Notice the onion shaped dome on top of the church-kind of like Russian churches.

Zell: The little old pensioner driving this tiny car came into the restaurant where we were eating, had a beer and left. We then saw the car later on that night at the local winestube, the place was rocking and I thought it the place to be, but the daughter vetoed the idea, so we didn’t go in.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Iron Artichoke

I worked for a subsidiary of the gas and electric utility in San Francisco that for some reason had to move away from the mother ship and so decided on a move to Portland OR. In due time a beautiful building was designed and built on the Willamette River. To commemorate this move and a recent pipeline project, a sculpture was commissioned at apparently great expense. As soon as the conceptual renderings for the piece were passed around this thing was dubbed the ‘Iron Artichoke’. After the Iron Artichoke was completed but before it could be sited in front of he new building in downtown Portland, the local planning commission found out that this would be the ‘art’ adorning the building and quickly decided it didn’t meet zoning requirements…or so the story goes. The Iron Artichoke was relegated to the hinterlands and ended up in front of the Spokane office building where it really did look like crap; eventually kind of fell apart, and finally disappeared.

One day we sort of got lost in the basement of the Portland building and walked into a room with hundreds of Iron Artichoke facsimiles (they look far better than the original) in rotting boxes that had never been handed out to those worthy enough. We all grabbed one and I’ve still got mine…why…I don’t know.

The dock

I went out on Saturday to work on the dock and was right on time...except I got the wrong Saturday and no one was there-beautiful day though.

The kids on the dock at about 5 and 6. I'd almost forgotten how blond they were.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Since I am apparently an expert, how about another foray into ultra-nerdom…the world of the hifi geek. I enjoy a respectable hifi setup as much as the next guy, but…it is possible to go too far. If the photos weren’t available you wouldn’t believe it. Most of this stuff looks like lab equipment (basically is) and has an equivalent price tag.

This was the device used to animate the monster in ‘Young Frankenstein’…and it plays CDs too!

Hello! that is a horn…looks like an eardrum destructifier to me. No really, an over the top but beautiful piece of audio technology and I’ll bet it sounds great.

What planet are we on now? Check out the speaker cables-you could run about 230kV through those.

Many audiophiles have specially designed ‘listening rooms’…cool…if only I’d gone to med school.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I'm a (Nerd) God says I'm a Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

So much for the uber-cool downtown slickster persona. I was joking about the geek thing on this post...oy vey!...this is what you get for studying science in college-the ulitimate in nerdnisity. My daughter is a TA in the chemistry department at the local college and this will have to be kept secret so as not to discourage her nerd quest.

45% on the dumb and dorky scale-ouch!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Look at the Man

He's sitting on the steps of St. Dominics church in San Franciso. I love the way he filters Cali and the west coast and SF through his Irish sensibility. It helps me to see the place in a different way. I used to go to SF about once a month for work and hang about in the Irish bar that he would drop in to when he was back in town, so one of the places I really miss in Cali.

It’s funny how things are-you listen to an album for 30 years, over and over, and then, finally one day, you hear what the man is saying.

Everything on this outstanding album is worth listening to, but the best tracks are ‘Listen to the Lion’, ‘Almost Independence Day’, and the title track-‘Saint Dominic's Preview’. To me he’s saying something about the time when the bank account goes up and the sense of self begins to flounder, perhaps, as a result. The time when you’ve acquired the things you thought you wanted and it’s still not good enough…all you see before you is the abyss. His solution seems to be: go back to what really makes you fulfilled, everything else is vanity and crap--not bad advice eh?

Saint Dominic's Preview

Chamois cleaning all the windows,
Singing songs about Edith Piaf's soul.
And I hear blue strings of "no regredior"
Across the street from Cathedral Notre Dame.

Meanwhile back in San Francisco
I try hard to make this whole thing blend,
As we sit upon this jagged story block
With you my friend.

And it's a long way to Buffalo.
It's a long way to Belfast city too.
And I'm hoping that Joyce won't blow the hoist
'Cause this time, they bit off more than they can chew.

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview

All the orange boxes are scattered
Against the Safeway Supermarket in the rain.
And everybody feels so determined
Not to feel anyone else's pain.

No one's making no commitments
To anybody but themselves,
Talkin' behind closed doorways,
Tryin' to get outside, get outside empty shells.

And for every cross-cuttin' country corner,
For every Hank Williams railroad train that cries,
And all the chains, badges, flags and emblems
And every strain on brain and every eye (?)

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview.

And the restaurant tables are completely covered.
The record company has paid out for the wine.
You got everything in the world you ever wanted
Right about now your face should wear a smile.

That's the way it all should happen
When you're in, when you're in the state you're in;
Have you got your pen and notebook ready?
I think it's about time, time for us to begin.

And we're over in a 52nd Street apartment,
Socializing with the winos too,
Just to be hip and get wet with the jet set.
But they're flying too high to see my point of view.

As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
As we gaze out on, as we gaze out on
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview
Saint Dominic's Preview.

See them freedom marching,
Out on the street, freedom marching.
Saint Dominic's Preview.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Walk to Pig Out

The annual 'Pig Out in the Park' was happening all last week. Only a few blocks away with lots of greasy food, pretty good music and so on--something to do for an evening.

Lourdes-those Catholics really know how to build a pretty church. I'm not catholic, much less religious but I still attend mass here occasionally as it pleaseth my soul.

Nordstrom: You want a sweet little $500 sweater for the fall season-get it here.

The ever popular ode to greasy carnival food and the myth of abundance: The Pig Out in the Park. I don’t eat much meat so the whole thing struck me as a bit repulsive (I occasionally eat chicken or fish when feeling especially saucy or when someone else is paying, but fish etc. don’t have feelings, so it’s OK, sort of). My biggest impression from the whole affair was the stench of about 20 separate flavors of spent fry oil mingling through the air...pretty vile and ironic considering that the smell of food cooking is usually delightful.

I had to escape from that unpleasant fried oil smell, so I here am with my son’s friend in the beer garden trying, rather successfully, to act like an idiot. I thought the hand signal was ‘cool’, something I must have seen in ‘Wayne’s World’ or something…little did I know, I was actually invoking Satan…check it out here.

Here is the son-Brendan. He’s standing in front of some public art on the border of Riverfront Park. Like most art specified by bureaucrats, pretty lame stuff, but someone had the brilliant idea of putting tags on the runners with names of local area kids killed in the Iraq war-now it all means something. I'm thankful that he's here and not on one of those tags.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The cabins

Trillium-I had the cabins painted to blend in to the surrounding forest-I guess it worked-it's one of my favourite places.

On the fridge in Trillium-apparently one of my kids has a sense of humor.

R.I.P: The original Das Boot.

If you look carefully in the foreground, you can see a rowboat-cum-flower pot. I‘m grateful it’s nowhere near the water. As you can see from the above and Das Boot II, we don't exactly break the bank when it comes to boating.

I remember being 4 years old or so, out on the water, while the ‘bailer’ was fast at work. Yes, this rowboat constantly leaked, a situation I couldn’t fathom. 'They' got me out on this thing at least once and I was duly terrified, as the survival instinct kicks in even at 4. All I could see was the boat sinking in front of my eyes, and the shoreline much too far away. This boat is where it belongs.

The other cabin-Honeysuckle. I prefer to keep things natural. Some of the trees are over 100 years old, so who I am to mess with that. I don't care for this 'defensible space' crap I see all around me. If the forest is so frightening that one is compelled to destroy it then perhaps a gated community in the surburbs is more appropriate. I'm not exactly a tree hugger; I like the term forest fascist.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Dude

I love the scene from ‘The Big Lebowski’ where ‘the Dude’ is shopping at the local grocer, in his bathrobe, while he pinches a carton of milk, and then sidles up to the checker with milk all over his lips--perfect! He sums up…he is dudeness. Something way down inside me really admires this guy--his lack of guile, simplicity, and complete disregard for the façade we all show to one another.

At this point in time, it’s not a matter of what I’m going to be when I grow up, that’s already been settled, but who or what I will be. I guess I need to believe that is still up for grabs. So, ‘the Dude’ pretty much does it for me, gives me goose bumps every time I see that scene from the movie. I’m thinking a cross between or perhaps inhabiting the space between ‘the Dude’ and someone like Henry Gieger would be good.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Les Paul and Mary Ford

I always thought this guy made guitars or something…well, big surprise, I was a little off. He not only collaborated with Gibson on the most popular solid-body electric guitar design ever, a design that hasn’t changed much since 1952, he also sold over 20 million records in the early 50s with his wife, Mary Ford, and invented multi-track recording (for overdubbing and so on).

He is the only person to be in both the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Wow...he da man!

So, you can learn something from the tele, you just have to tune in to the right channel…see all about it here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Weathermakers…

…r us. This is a good intro into the science and issues surrounding global warming. Most books focus on climatology and are a little dry as a result. The author of The Weathermakers is a biologist from Australia and discusses global warming in terms of affected species impacts (well, all species are eventually impacted). Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania are rife with unique fauna and flora and provide a persuasive backdrop to his story. He and other scientists have been noting species movement to cooler zones since the 70’s, a trend that is only accelerating and will led to (additional) extinctions regardless of what we do in the short term. That’s right; we’ve already bought the farm in terms of significant and probably irreversible impacts: Glacier Park in MT-gone, the snows of Kilimanjaro-gone, and so on. This is even if man-made releases of green house gases were to stop today.

This along with Global Warming: The Complete Briefing by John Houghton are the two most user friendly I've read and a good place to start.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


My kids frequent the movie library at the local university and come home with the wildest stuff.

Seksmisja is better known in these parts by the lurid and suggestive english title, Sexmission. This classic of Polish cinema is a weird combo of comedy and sci-fi and is, in fact, the most popular movie ever made in Poland (honest, it said so on the DVD cover).

Albert and Maksymilian agree to be frozen and returned to life after a period of three years as part of a science experiment. In the meantime, WWIII breaks out and they are forgotten until sometime in the future, when they are revived by the League of Women’s Lib. It turns out they are the only two men left on earth (the women have developed a form of parthenogenesis so men are unnecessary). So, these guys think they're going to get real lucky and some of the women seem interested, but the league eventually decides that, for them to live, they must dispense with their…uh…‘manhood’…all of it. Being two red blooded males in the prime of their lifes, they of course refuse…and escape…you’ll have to see the movie to discover what happens next (not a huge surprise, but why give it all away.

Personally, I was entralled during the entire just never know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


From the latest copy of The Inlander, here is an except from the commencment address David McCullough gave at UConn in 1999. This story could be almost be a mantra for my life, sort of.

"My message is in praise of the greatest of all avenues to learning, to wisdom, adventure, pleasure, insight, to understanding human nature, understanding ourselves and our world and our place in it.

I rise on this beautiful morning, here in this center of learning to sing again the old faith in books. In reading books. Reading for life, all your life.

Nothing ever invented provides such sustenance, such infinite reward for time spent as a good book.

Thomas Jefferson told John Adams he could not live without books. Adams, who through a long life read more even and more deeply than Jefferson and who spent what extra money he ever had on books, wrote to Jefferson at age 79 of a particular set of books he longed for on the lives of the saints, all 47 volumes.

... Once upon a time in the dead of winter in Dakota territory, with the temperature well below zero, young Theodore Roosevelt took off in a makeshift boat, accompanied by two of his ranch hands, downstream on the Little Missouri River in chase of a couple of thieves who had stolen his prized row boat. After days on the river, he caught up and got the draw on them with his trusty Winchester, at which point they surrendered. Then, after finding a man with a team and a wagon, Roosevelt set off again to haul the thieves cross-country to justice. He left the ranch hands behind to tend to the boat, and walked alone behind the wagon, his rifle at the ready. They were headed across the snow-covered wastes of the Badlands to the rail head at Dickinson, and Roosevelt walked the whole way, 40 miles. It was an astonishing feat, what might be called a defining moment in that eventful life. But what makes it especially memorable is that during that time, he managed to read all of Anna Karenina.

I often think of that when I hear people say they haven't time to read. "

So, next time you find that dusty and forlorn copy of Anna Karenina or its kind, no excuses.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Todd: I used to play this LP constantly when I was a teenager; so much so that my original copy is pretty much worn out. It's a great mix of, among other things, proto-electronica weirdness, Hendrix-esque guitar pieces, and lush ballads. On CD you can listen to the whole thing at once, as opposed to the double LP that necessitated a lot of flipping, so a big improvement. My favorites, then and now are the ballads, as sweet and sincere as they get. I mean, this was one sweet guy, the man who actually raised Liv Tyler and is still her ‘first’ dad to this day.

I Think You Know

The visitors were never seen
They missed my monologue between
But I think you know
The letters came, the letters went
The last reply was never sent
But I think you know
I cant explain whats in my brain
That tells me where to go
But I think you know

For I would draw a diagram
To signify the things I am
But I think you know
And in the end it all boils down
A useless bit of running round
cause I think you know
And love I send to you my friend
But never tell you so
But I think you know

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

His...and His Trucks

Actually, I’m told the vehicles are called pickups in these parts. The his and his thing; a joke that sounds about right for the occasion. It goes like this: since our mum’s went to school together, I’ve known Gavin since we were in diapers. Our lives have paralleled and diverged over the years and now they’re back on the parallel. We’ve been both divorced in the last few years, living and hanging out downtown, blah, blah blah…

So, I have my p/u in town and find out he’s moving to another place and I go over to help. I knew he had a junky yellow truck but never paid much attention to it until I got it alongside my junky blue truck. As you can see from the photo, they’re identical! Too funny--we haven’t come to a conclusion on which is in worse shape-almost a point of pride as trucks/pick-ups aren’t supposed to be pretty, after all. I dumped mine in a ditch a couple of weeks ago, got pulled out, and drove off with not a (noticeable) scratch, to the p/u that is.

Check out the great place he’s moving into. I used to walk by it almost every day as it’s around the corner and visible from the house I lived in-a place I’d rather forget. Gav keeps on saying he has too many memories here and it’s time to move on to Seattle or something. He may be right…

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The good ole' days?

1956: In the fields near my hometown of Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley of California, a farm worker is forced to stand naked while being sprayed with DDT. The photographer was later arrested for 'documenting' such treatment.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Sweet Dreams, Sadie

Sadie had been dumped by someone near my place at Newman Lake and was sort of taken in by one of the neighbors. Eventually Sadie became the neighborhood dog and everyone fed her and so on. Unfortunately, no one took responsibility and she usually had no place to go on cold winter nights. When I was out at the lake, especially in winter, she would show up, eat, and stay for awhile and then leave, not seeming to mind the cold. Sadie seemed to do OK but as she got older I became concerned for her well-being. I would have brought her back to Spokane but at the time I traveled a lot and wasn’t home enough to care for her. So, when a friend mentioned that she wanted a dog I knew exactly what to do. We zoomed out to Newman. Sadie was waiting as usual, jumped into the car and laid down in the back. It was like she had been waiting to come last...all this time...

The friend had a fence put up around her place and Sadie took to it and her instantly and vice a versa. Sadie seemed very relaxed and content in her new home, but oddly lethargic. Then one day, about 6 weeks after Sadie moved in, she collapsed and was taken to the clinic. Sadie was terminal, suffering from cancer that had metastasized throughout her body. My friend was devastated; I was also shocked but grateful that this kind and devoted creature had a few comfortable weeks at the end.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The vase

Another creation by Chris Kelsey; I particularly like the way he uses bone ash as the outer layer of glaze to achieve the wrinkly effect. It reminds of something really ancient; something you might find during an archeological dig. Pieces of this type always sell quickly so I asked if he could make more just like it. He informed me that the effect is not exactly reproducible and comes out differently each time, often disastrously, part of the charm I guess. Anyway, one day a friend and I were looking at a similar piece and she asked “what do you put in it…flowers?” He gave us this contemptuous look that read something like ‘you soulless philistines, how dare you presume to debase this work of art…’ but after a pause finally said “it’s fine the way it is, nothing goes in it”. Oops--and that settled that.

I had never cared much for pottery, always thought it kind of a lesser art. A while back I started frequenting the Trackside Studio where Mark Moore and Chris Kelsey create and display. Now…well…as you can see from the photo…pottery is way cool.