Friday, June 30, 2006

I ain't sorry baby don't think that

Speaking of my ex-wife, one of the sure signs that you've spent some time in a bad relationship is when you can hear the following song lyrics and know the feeling.

Sometimes I wish that you would die
Just to see how I would look
By the ambulance light
With a grief stricken face
And the thought that we've never been closer

It's a good thing I got out of that one.

I read a review on this album, and the reviewer said that these are the things that you aren't supposed to speak aloud. I guess he's right, but when I hear stuff like this it makes me feel a little less crazy to know that I'm not the only one with dark thoughts.

What you want and what you need don't mean that much to me

I got in a huge argument with my ex-wife the other day. The kind of argument that only she can get me into (she really knows how to push my buttons). You see, I made the mistake of trying to help her get on her feet after I moved out. She had spent the majority of our marriage staying home with our kids, and was just finishing up her first year of school when she decided it was over and told me to move out.

Since she had no formal training, I felt like I should do what I could to help her out, so I continued to pay all her bills for the next few months, and co-signed on a student loan so that she could enroll in a program that would train her to become a dental assistant. That turned out to be a huge mistake. She dropped out of the program with only two weeks left to go, so still didn't have the job skills she was after, but did have a loan payment to take care of. She didn't because she had no income. It almost went into default so I started making payments in order to keep my credit clean. I paid it for two years, but then hurt my back and couldn't go back to my part time job where I had hurt it. With this change (while I am much happier now) came a huge decrease in my income, and then she went out and bought a new car. I figured if she could afford a new car payment every month then she was doing better than I thought, so she could start making her student loan payment as well. I told her that I couldn't afford to pay it anymore and that she would have to take over. She agreed, and thanked me for taking care of it that long.

The other night I got a phone call from a collection agency. They wanted to inform me that they had not received payment for two months, and if they didn't by midnight they would have to put it on my credit. I called her to find out if she was planning on taking care of it, and why she had been ignoring their notices. As soon as she found out that I was upset with her, she started yelling at me about "how dare I embarrass her in front of her daughter" when I had seen them a few weeks prior. And let me tell you, it was a profanity laced tirade. It was a diversionary tactic to get the focus off of her.

A few weeks ago I was passing through Salt Lake City on my son's birthday. I took them all out to dinner to celebrate that with him, and she and my daughter got into an argument at the restaurant. I just looked at both of them and told them to stop. My ex looked at me and said "she does this all the time." To which I replied, "I think you started that one. You need to learn to pick your battles, and this one isn't worth fighting."

When she brought it back up on the phone she asked "How do you think that made me feel?"

I just said "We're divorced now. We don't really have to worry about whether or not we hurt each other's feelings. Just pay your student loan."

She did. But should it really have to include so much drama?

God says nothing back but "I told you so."

When I saw this it really spoke to me. I doubt it's for the same reasons, but probably holds for me as much as whoever sent it in.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I think she wants some water, to put out the blowtorch

Some of my friends have a city league softball team. Yesterday, one of the girls from work and I went to go watch them play. They didn't do so hot, but it was still fun, and I think they actually liked the fact that they had a cheering section for once.

A few members of the team wanted to go out for drinks after the game, so we all met up at a place nearby. We got some pizzas, and they ordered a few pitchers of beer. At some point we got talking about different people from work, which almost invariably turns into a conversation about who is, or is not, cute. One guy asked another about one girl in particular:

"What about her? You know her pretty well, would you go out with her?"

"No. She's really weird, and that makes it hard to talk to her."

"You don't have to talk, just chloroform her."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All those other hoochie skanks, they ain't got shit on me

Yesterday at lunch the place was kind of crowded. Once my friend and I had finished eating we went to refill our drinks at the fountain machine. I filled mine first and walked out to the car. He came out a minute or two later and said "Ha ha, you just got checked out by a gay couple. They totally looked you up and down while you were getting your refill."

What can I say? I am a sexy man.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We thought that our dreadfulness might be a thing to annoy you with

Have you ever wondered what other people think about you? Whether or not you annoy them so bad that they frequently talk about you behind your back? If so, today is your lucky day because I've compiled a list of things that you can use as a guide to see if you are indeed that annoying person whom everyone else hates.
  • Does the decision of someone else to meet up with a group of people depend on whether or not you'll be present?
  • Are you constantly talking about how great it was where you originally come from, and how everything else sucks in comparison?
  • Do you pout if you're not constantly at the center of attention in a group of people, or do you always try to bring the focus of attention to yourself?
  • Does your significant other's friends stop hanging out with them simply because they don't want to be around you? (please note that this is significantly different from when your significant other doesn't hang out with friends because that would take away from quality time spent with you).
  • Have you ever gotten drunk enough at a party that you felt compelled to kiss somebody against their will, even though that person is the same sex as you?
  • Have any of your coworkers ever had to leave their office simply because your presence in the next room is too much for them to bear?
  • Has anyone ever told their significant other to stop doing something simply because it reminds them of you?
  • Can you single handedly change the normal routine of an entire group of individuals, causing them to stop frequenting their normal hang-out spots and start going to a new one so they can avoid you?
  • Do you have to bring every conversation around to the one topic that you're able to speak somewhat intelligently about, even if nobody else cares and it's not the time or place to be having such a discussion?
  • Have you ever invited a group of people to join you for a meal at a restaurant, and then stuck one of them with the bill (not even paying for your own portion)?
  • Do your coworkers often put on headphones and start listening to music every time you're around?
  • Do your coworkers sometimes put in their earbuds, even if they aren't listening to music, just so that you will think they are and leave them undisturbed?
  • Has anybody ever felt the need to handcuff you to a chair at a party, just to stop you from harrassing everyone else?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you are an annoying person and should take corrective measures immediately.

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, then you are really annoying, and you're probably beyond help. If this is the case, you should do us all a favor and fill your mouth up with water, then take a gun . . .

Monday, June 26, 2006

I should have been listening to every word you said

I went to see An Inconvenient Truth yesterday. If you haven't heard about it, it's Al Gore's documentary on global warming. I think that everybody ought to see this movie, regardless of political affiliations. Of course that's not going to happen, conservatives are going to see that it's Al Gore's movie and immediately dismiss it as rubbish. That's too bad, because it could actually open up some eyes about the state our world is in right now, and the direction we seem to be heading. I like to believe that it's not too late to make some changes, but it will be if we don't start acting soon.

Anyway, it got me thinking about the following. Some of this comes from the movie, some of it is just me, but I'm not going to go to the trouble to distinguish that as I ramble on here. If you really want to know, go see the movie ;-)

One of the major things to think about is the exponential increase in the number of people living on our planet. The number has reached approximately 6.5 billion, nearly triple what it was 50 years ago. Along with that comes an increasing demand for natural resources, some of which are renewable, others of which are not. The scary part about that is that once the non-renewable ones are gone, they're gone for good (I know I've said it before, but it warrants mentioning again). I mentioned a few days ago that people generally try to push the limits of what they can get away with, and that seems to be exactly what we're doing with our dependence on such things (i.e. oil). As the world population continues to grow exponentially, these resources are going to be used exponentially. Especially given the fact that many third world countries are starting to become more developed. The thing about exponential growth is that it will double with each passing time period. As E. O. Wilson points out in his book Consilience, that means that the "day" before we run out of a resource we will still have half of it left. If people aren't thinking about this sort of thing, then they won't spring into action until it's too late.

The frustrating thing is that the technology for alternative energy sources is out there. Why isn't there more of a push for solar energy these days? Take a place like Las Vegas for example. When I first moved here I was told that the only difference in the seasons are that you either get sunny and hot, or sunny and cold. It's always sunny! If that doesn't sound like a good place to start implementing solar panels, I don't know what does. I know that it's expensive to equip a home with solar panels. I think it's around $10,000, and that extra cost might be enough to prevent a lot of people from being able to afford a home. But what about the casinos? There's more money funneling through those places than a guy like me can even fathom. And in each one's quest to be the biggest/newest/best they keep bringing in more and more fancy stuff. The money it would take to place solar panels on the rooftops of those would be a mere drop in the bucket compared to what they spend on other furnishings.

I won't even get into all the problems with the accelerated extinction rates of species here, but believe me, things are dying off. The problem with that is, nobody seems to care, unless it's something that's going to affect mankind. If you're one of these types of people just stop and think about this: How much would it cost to build machines that can provide all the services that nature already does for free in the event that the things that do them start dropping off the face of the earth? We in the United States are the worst in the world when it comes to thinking about this stuff. Our consumption of the world's resources far exceeds our proportion of the world's populations. One would think since we have been a world leader in many things for so long, that we would be when it comes to the environment as well. It's no secret that our automobile industry is lagging behind those of other nations when it comes to automobile emissions. Gore talks about how California has just recently passed legislation to require automobiles to have lower emissions over the next decade or so. The state has since been sued by the automobile industry claiming that it's too hard for them to meet those restrictions in such little time. The irony with that is other countries are already there. Why should it take the manufacturers in the U.S. a full decade to get where these other countries (including China) are today? Is that really an unrealistic expectation? It makes no sense to me. Maybe we just need some different people in charge, starting with our president (have I mentioned how much I hate the current one?).

Speaking of presidents, it kind of all boils down to politics. I don't understand why, but somewhere along the line 'environmentalist' became a dirty word. The point this movie brings up is that it really shouldn't be a partisan issue. After all, we're all stuck here on the same planet with no real option of going elsewhere (despite what Stephen Hawking has recently said about colonizing the moon). You'd think we'd all want it to last as long as possible.

The thing that people always talk about when it comes to conservation related topics is that it will ruin the economy if we don't let people do what they've always done. I understand that it would be a big deal if that happened, but people tend to be fairly resilient, and if someone loses a job because one technology becomes obsolete, they are generally able to get training to do something else instead. Who knows, maybe it could be one of the new jobs that the new technology is bound to be offering up. All in all, I think the 'it will ruin the economy' argument is pretty weak. The thing that ought to strike people the most is that if the earth is gone, the economy is going to be the least of our concerns.

In case you're still reading (doubtful) and want to know more about the movie or what you can do to help do your part, here's a site you can visit:

(sorry, but the link icon isn't working correctly and every time I use it, half of my post gets erased)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

You're the best around

Last night I went to dinner with some friends, then played games afterward. As you can see by the scoresheet, I was kicking some serious butt. At least in game three. This could quite possibly be the best game of Yahtzee I've ever played (433 total points, in case you're having trouble reading the picture). All attributed to my mad skills and excellent decision making abilities of course. Luck had nothing to do with it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I sincerely miss those heavy metal bands

If you're forming a new band, and are trying to come up with a name for yourselves, you should probably keep the following in mind. First of all, you're going to want to come up with something that will allow people to find you easily via a Google search. That means that you want to keep it short, and it can't be too common. There's a band that I like called The Sun, but I've never been to their website because I can't find it. When I've performed the search all I've come up with is about 50 million different newspapers from around the country, and I'm not going to go through all the effort of sorting through those results to find it.

The second thing you'll want to keep in mind is that you should probably keep the name clean enough to be said on the radio. You know, just in case you ever have a hit single. Bands with cursewords in their names aren't quite going to cut it. At least not in the uber-conservative U.S.

Most of all, you DO NOT want to end up on a list like this one, which lists the worst band names of the year (so far). I mean sure, Here Comes Old Vodka Tits is funny, but maybe it's better left as an album name or a song title.

Friday, June 23, 2006

And if you feel a little left behind

I hate saying goodbye. I'm not very good at it, but I just had to say it to some friends of mine. They're leaving town tomorrow morning, for good. I don't know, it's something about finally graduating and getting a real job or some lame thing like that. Things are going to be different around here without them around, there's no question about that.

As a group we've been trying to hang out a little more than usual over the past week. It's one of those things that just seems to happen when you know it's going to be your last chance to do something. I had lunch with my friend yesterday, and as we were finishing up and heading back to our offices one of my friends asked him if we were going to hang out last night, since it was the last time we could before the movers came.

Lame-O moving friend: "I want to, but we'll have to do it earlier in the afternoon. I can't do it at night because my wife has a party with people from work. Maybe you guys can come, I'll see if there's going to be any free stuff."

Me (at the same time that he was saying the bit about the free stuff): "Are there going to be boobies? Because you can definitely count me in if there are. Especially if they're free."

Lame-O moving friend: "In my experience there's no such thing as free boobies. There's always some kind of a cost."

Truer words have never been spoken.

That's the kind of wisdom that I'll be missing out on from this point on.

Whatcha gonna do when they come for you?

You know that your office is located in a bad part of town when within the span of a month you can see the SWAT team in the parking lot gearing up for an operation not once, but twice, and see the apartments next door featured on an episode of Cops.

A real live nephew of my Uncle Sam's

Whatever your plans are for this 4th of July, you should probably stay clear of doing this.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mama's in the kitchen with onions

Since I changed my diet in order to lower my cholesterol (successfully I might add) I have learned a few things. Being the kind and generous man that I am, I will now pass on one of these little tidbits to you.

Vanilla flavored soy milk is good with cookies, cereal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and oatmeal.

It is not, however, good with cream of tomato soup.

You're welcome!

This is where the party ends

It's an old story by now, but I keep hearing about this autistic kid. He was one of the managers of his high school basketball team, and the coach put him into the final game of the season once his team was up by 20. Not only did he get a chance to finally play, but he scored something like 21 points in 4 minutes.

The media stories have all been warm and fuzzy. They talk about how life changing that experience was for the kid, for other kids around the country with different disabilities, for parents of autistic children, etc. All I could think about was how life changing it would have been to be the guy on the opposing team who got lit up by a retarded kid. He'd never be able to live that down.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Say baby do you wanna lay down with me

I find it funny when I think about different pick up lines some guys will use to come on to a pretty woman they meet. I'm pretty sure that 99.9% of the time these just make the women think that the guy is a complete loser. I'm also pretty sure that I wouldn't want to be with the 0.1% of women who might fall for some of them.

Here are some I've actually heard people use:

"You must be tired."
"Why would I be tired?"
"You've been running through my mind all night."

"You have a pretty smile, you should use it more often." This was to a woman he just met, as if he had any clue about how much she 'used her smile.'

"Are you looking for a balding, slightly overweight middle aged man? Let me give you my number." This was one some guy used on my ex-girlfriend at a gas station, and I think her response was "No thanks, I've already got a middle aged man."

"Nice bum, where you from?" Ok, so this one was one that my brother's roommates always used to say, but as far as I know they never actually tried using it on a girl.

Here are some that I've heard people joke about using:

"You're from Vegas, I'm from Vegas, how about it?"

"That dress looks nice on you. I think it would look even better on my bedroom floor."

"That shirt is very becoming on you. Of course if I were on you, I'd be cumming too."

"Nice shoes, wanna fuck?"

Obviously I could go on and on, but I'm really just trying to set up this one that I thought about while I was at the pool last weekend. It's bound to get results every time.

"How old are you? Are you allergic to latex?"

I may have heard that somewhere else, but can't place it if I have. But what woman wouldn't be putty in my hands if I actually used it on them?

One final note: A woman could use any of these on a man and have great success.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I will only complicate you

My car battery died the other day. It wasn't a big deal, in fact I consider myself lucky that my battery has lasted this long. The Vegas heat is very tough on them, and the average life is around two years. I've had mine almost four. The only bad thing was that I didn't have the time to deal with it right then, so had a friend give me a ride to work. The next day my roommate let me borrow his old car so that I could get to work and then have something to run around in to take care of fixing my car. I appreciate his kindness, but let's just say that a Metro is not going to be high on my list the next time I'm looking to buy a new car (as an aside, my roommate told me that he had to drive it somewhere the other day and thought to himself "I can't believe I used to drive this piece of shit.").

I left work early that day and drove the Metro back home and jump started my car so I could drive it to Sears and get a new battery (and no, the irony is not lost on me considering my post a few days ago where I was complaining about chain stores taking over - especially since the reason I went there was so that I could get a good warranty that would follow me wherever I end up). They replaced it no problem and I was on my way with only one glitch: The CD player wasn't working.

Anybody who knows me knows that this is a big deal. I must have my music. I tried putting the face on a few different times, in case it was a bad connection, but it still didn't work. It dawned on me that I may have blown a fuse when I jumped my car, so decided to check the fuses. But they were all fine. I started getting nervous then, and figured I'd have to take it to a car audio place so that they could fix what was wrong.

Then I decided to try the power button. It's amazing what those things can do.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

He put his arm around me and he said, "Son, I was all that when I was young."

I have the best parents that anybody could ask for. I made a list of a few of the cool things about my mom, and being as today is Father's Day thought I would do the same for my dad.
  • The man has a green thumb. He took pride in having the greenest (and most weed free) lawn on the block. He also ends up with an extremely productive garden every year, and has house plants that are as old as I am.
  • He's one of the hardest working people I know, always makes sure that the job is done right regardless of how much extra time it will take, and this has instilled a good work ethic in us.
  • He'd take us fishing, and spend most of his time going back and forth between kids, taking care of our tangles and such, and forgoing his opportunity to fish as he did so. Anyone who has ever tried to fish with kids realizes how annoying this can be.
  • I don't think enough can be said about all the drives we'd take in the mountains. As I got older I realized they were often work related for him, but the fact that he wanted his family to come along speaks volumes.
  • I still have to call him for diagnostic advice when I have car troubles, and he's always right.
  • Pinewood derby cars - we may not have always taken first place in the race, but we always had a cool looking car.
  • He taught me how to shoot. It's not a skill I use regularly, but I can still hit a Christmas tree ornament from a fair distance at the shooting range.
  • During hunting season he would take us out with him on weekends, and evenings, to help him watch for deer. I don't think we were much help, but he made us feel like he couldn't do it without us.
  • How many fathers would sing lullabies while they rock their babies (and grandbabies) to sleep?
  • Gave me some extra money when he found out that my friends and I were taking our prom dates skiing, just in case I needed it. It turned out that I did when the bindings on the skis I had broke and I had to rent some instead. And being the young punk that I was, I don't think I ever thanked him properly for that, so thanks Dad.

Happy Father's Day. I love you.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

He's going the distance

It seems to me that it's human nature to try and push limits. Some people do this in good ways, and end up with groundbreaking discoveries that better the quality of life on this planet. Others do it in bad ways and see just how much they can get away with and still avoid getting in trouble. Last night I was in the latter group.

I was on my way to a friend's house when my gas light in my dash turned on. It does that when I have two gallons left in the tank, which usually means I have about another 60 miles. If I'm on the highway. With this in mind, I figured I would have enough to get me to her house and back home without having to stop and fill up. The problem is that I stayed at her house later than I had counted on, and wasn't heading home until 1 a.m., so I didn't feel like stopping to fill up. I made it home ok, but thought how foolish it was of me to pass up gas stations when I knew my fuel was low just because I didn't want to stop right then.

This morning I realized how lucky I really was when I filled up my tank and it came out to 14.5 gallons, the exact amount that my tank holds. However, rather than just being happy to have made it home safely last night, I ended up being irritated at the fact that gas prices had dropped by $0.05/gallon between the time I filled up and the time I pulled away from the pumps.

We all wanna be big stars, but we've got different reasons for that

I was contacted by an old high school friend this week. The last time I saw (or spoke) to him was at his wedding about 6 years ago. It was kind of strange to talk to him, because we just picked up where we left off, and just filled in some of the gaps. He'd heard about my divorce, and he told me some of what he's been up to over the past few years. It sounds like things are going good for him. I'm happy about that. He's probably coming to Vegas pretty soon, so hopefully we'll get a chance to hang out then. If not, I'll give him a call the next time I'm in Salt Lake City. It'd be nice to do a little more catching up. I hope this time we stay in touch.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Their names are called, they raise a paw

And now it's time for useless information from Native Minnow:

Carrying a 9 volt battery in the same pocket as your keys is the wrong way to start a fire in your pants.

There will be a quiz later.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A baller, shot caller

I was at a friend's house last night watching the NBA finals with a couple of the guys. We were talking when Dirk Nowitzki hit a nice three pointer.

Friend 1: "Ooohhhh man, that was a beautiful shot!"
Friend 2: "You sounded like you're gay the way you said that. And I'm European, so it takes a lot to get me to say that."

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Tell me how you get that shine

I know someone who recently had a growth removed and sent off for biopsy. The results came back that it was cancerous, and the doctors cut out the surrounding tissue to see if, or how far, it's spread. As far as I know, those results have not come in.

I was in a room with this person and someone else who had just returned from a week long trip and the following conversation ensued:

"Wow, it looks like you got some sun on your trip."
"Yeah, I did get a little bit of a sunburn, but it's not too bad."
"You're still white though. Not as tan as me."

At which point I thought "Um, hello? Were you not just diagnosed with skin cancer? Isn't that the point at which you stop making fun of other people because they don't have a tan?"

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hello, I love you won't you tell me your name

To the girl in the white dress that I saw at the grocery store yesterday:

Seriously, tell me your name. And feel free to jump in my bed.

America, Fuck Yeah

Every time I see a strip mall I can name you the stores that will be found there: Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, Pier 1 Imports, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. It doesn't even matter what city it's in - Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Portland, it's all the same. A friend of mine refers to it as Generica.

It became really apparent to me while I was in Phoenix. Normally while I'm on the road, I try to eat at places with a bit of a local flavor. I can get the chains at home, I want something unique to the area. The problem was that it got hard to find enough places like that over the course of a week. I've commented on this before, but big corporations are taking over the world.

I was talking to a girl from Germany while I was in Phoenix, and she said that it's not just like that here, it's worldwide. She said that her hometown in Germany wasn't too bad, there was only one McDonald's there, but that when she went to Mexico it was as though she hadn't even left the United States. I think it's sad in a lot of ways. A lot of the local merchants have been put out of business, and the local flavor has gone away with them. I try to do my part by buying CDs from record stores instead of places like Best Buy, and shopping at different places for things, but I'm not as good about it as I should be. Sometimes it's too hard to avoid the chains. Pretty soon, there's not likely to be any other choice.

The crazy thing is the amounts of money that these corporations are taking in. My brother-in-law told me that Exxon-Mobile's profits last year were somewhere around $35 billion. "Think about it" he said, "There's something like 400 million people in the U. S., right? That means they could give everyone in the U. S. a million dollars, and still have 34 and a half billion dollars in profit."

Sounds like a good idea to me. How about it Exxon?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I need you tonight

One thing I miss about being married:

I have a huge zit in my ear that I can't see or reach. It's painful, yet there's nobody to take care of it for me.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I asked a painter why the roads are colored black . . .

Here you have it, random thoughts I had while I was in Oregon:
  • Should you really name your town as part of a valley when it's on the beach?
  • When you go for a walk with your wife/girlfriend, and you're riding a Segway while she walks, it doesn't really count as being romantic.
  • How did totem pole artists obtain that position? Was it the prehistoric American Idol?
  • Sometimes jeans, a jacket and tennis shoes aren't enough to protect you from brambles.
  • I can still hold my breath for over a mile while traveling 70 mph.
  • Cows are stupid. Especially inbred cows that only have one horn that's growing out of the middle of their head.
  • Is it ok to use viking ship decorations for your business when you're on the west coast?
  • If I die along a roadside do not put up a cross at that location.
  • Semi drivers that pass other semis while going up a hill when they're only traveling 1 mph faster than the semi they're passing ought to have their licenses revoked.
  • I've been on dirt roads that are smoother than I-84 south of Boise, ID.
  • Roadkill porcupine is nasty.
  • When you see mile marker posts on the side of the road, and think they're listing the new speed limit, it's probably time to pull over and sleep.
  • There are no hot girls in Oregon.
  • If your name is B. J. and you own a store, you probably shouldn't name it after yourself unless you want people to see the sign that reads 'B. J.'s Quilts and Crafts' and think "finally, a place where I can get all three."
  • The forest along the coast is very beautiful, in part because the undergrowth is so thick. Thick enough to hide a body in if necessary. Dumping bodies in the desert is sooo last year.
  • When you pull off the side of the road and see a sign that reads 'Next Rest Area 7 Miles' it probably means that you should wait and pee there, but I didn't.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A long drive for someone with nothing to think about

My trip to Oregon was nice. I got out of the heat for a while, got a couple of samples that I needed for my research (not enough, but it'll have to do) and got to see some nice scenery along the way. I spent a lot of time in the car though, about 3700 miles in 7 days. That's a lot of driving (I'm glad I had a rental), but I took enough CDs along so that I didn't repeat the same one until I was an hour and a half outside of Vegas on the return trip.

I spent the first night just outside of Bend, and it was cold. I knew it would be, but it was still a drastic change between 106 degree heat (in Phoenix) to below freezing at night. The next day I drove over to the coast and sampled my first location. Until that point I had been thinking how nice it was to go by myself because I didn't have to worry about things like stopping when I didn't want to or listening to anyone else's music, but then it took me 6 hours to get the fish I needed, when it would have only taken about 30 minutes if I had someone else to help pull a seine, and I started to reconsider. Not that there was anything I could do about it at that point anyway, but when the scenery looks like this I guess I shouldn't complain:

I guess another benefit of that was that I was able to drive along the coast at sunset. It was beautiful. I wanted to stop and camp at this campground, but would only have been allowed to stay for about two minutes (think about it).

Instead, I kept driving until I got into Washington. One thing I'll say is that the mouth of the Columbia River is huge. I think it was something like 4 or 5 miles across and probably the biggest river I've ever seen (at least while I've been on the ground). I pulled off when I got too tired and spent the night along some logging road. The next day logging trucks woke me up quite early, so I got up and continued on. I was able to sample some fish from that part of the state, but unfortunately they weren't the species I was after. I know a guy who studies those, and he'll probably be a lot more happy about that than I was. After that I had to head back toward Portland. I got there rather late, and had a slight incident with Johnny Law (see my previous blog entry on that). I sampled all over Portland, to no avail, and eventually had to continue on to try and hit some other rivers.

I eventually ended up in eastern Washington, trying to resample a river that I had already gotten fish from a few years ago but their DNA had degraded. Last time I was there we got what we needed in about 20 minutes, so when I asked the people for access to their property I told them it would only be for about an hour (famous last words it turns out). I didn't get anything that night, and ended up having to spend the night there. They were some of the nicest people in the world. They invited me in for dinner (I declined) and offered to let me sleep in their house in the room next to their 17 year old daughter. I opted for setting my cot up out on their lawn as I figured that would help the mom feel a little more at ease, but talk about trusting. I did go inside and play Crazy Eights and Go Fish with their two boys (7 and 5) until it was time for them to go to bed. I think they really enjoyed that. The next morning I got up to check the traps around 5:30, and still no fish. As I was coming back from the river the guy saw me and invited me in for breakfast. I told him I still hadn't caught anything, and he told me that he had called in sick to work and that he could go down and help me get them with the seine. I waited until he had finished breakfast, and eventually had to take a piece of toast with jam on it just to get him to quit offering me food. I really wasn't declining just to be nice either, I just don't normally eat breakfast.

After they finished eating we took the boys down to the river to go see about seining some fish. As we waded out into the river I realized that I still had car keys in my pocket, and I didn't want to ruin the electronic lock by getting it wet. I decided to put them underneath my hat to keep them dry, which turned out to be a really bad move as they then fell out of my hat and into the river. It was too muddy to see the bottom and so we just started feeling around on the rocks to see if we could find them. I thought it was a lost cause, and was rather pissed at myself for being so stupid, but he ended up finding them after about 5 minutes. Talk about a life saver. We made one haul with the seine and got what I needed, but he and the boys were excited about what they saw, so wanted to keep going. So we went again, and again, and again. Each time the boys wanted to handle the fish, so I let them but figured since they would die after that anyway that I should take them along with me. I ended up with about ten times as many fish as I needed, but I can still put them to good use in future research projects. When you have people helping you out for free, it's hard to justify doing something to dampen their spirits, in this case that would have been to stop seining. At any rate I think it's something the young boys will probably always remember, so that's pretty cool.

I slowly made my way back down south, sampling rivers that I'd cross, but still not getting anything. Once I got into Idaho I just drove to my sister's house since I didn't need any samples from that state. I hung out with her and my other sister for a day, then drove to Salt Lake City to spend a day with my kids. My son turned 10, so I picked up a new baseball bat and batting gloves for his present, then we went to the park and played catch for a while and followed that up with dinner at a Chinese buffet (his choice, not mine). I left right after that, and got to Vegas around midnight and have been playing catch up ever since. It turns out that maybe it's not such a good idea to leave town for two weeks right before one has to begin teaching because it's hard to get settled into a semester when everything's being done at the last second.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy Tree Friends

So I've got a rather long post about my trip to Oregon, but I can't put it up yet because there's something wrong with the site and it won't post my pictures to go along with it. Here's something to keep you entertained in the meantime. My favorite so far is the one with the moose and the axe.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Play that funky music

I know, I know, it's been a while and you're all just dying to hear about my trip to Oregon, but first a quick story about my trip to Phoenix.

We were driving and decided that since my friend had most of the same CDs as I had in my car in his ipod that we should just hook that up and listen to it. After listening to a few of our favorites he asked me what I'd like to hear next. I told him to surprise me. He found something to surprise me all right. He played a song and started singing along:

I know there's pain
Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?
No one can change your life except for you
Don't ever let anyone step all over you . . .

Me: "You know how I know you're gay? You have Wilson Philips in your ipod."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Freedom's just a stupid superstition

When you're sleeping in the back of an SUV in the parking lot of a church in Portland Oregon there are few things that get your heart racing quite like being woken up at 3 a.m. with a flashlight on your face and someone yelling "Open up, it's the police!"

Oh, and it's probably not the best move to reach for your keys that are underneath your pillow to electronically unlock the doors before opening them.