Overheard in Minnesota

by Steve, November 6th, 2008

From my dear friend in Minneapolis:

I was just at this postage-stamp size Euro cafe La Belle Crepe drinking coffee while these two women ate their crepes. One mentioned how she had been at a bar and when the election results were announced, a lot of people just put their head in their hands. The other woman nodded. I thought to myself, What are you bitching about, you’re eating crepes.

Homer and me

by Steve, October 29th, 2008

I’ve been posting my Oregon Voters’ Guide for a while (I think this is my third edition), and since I know a little bit about search engine optimization (and since this site has half-decent Google juice), I’m usually in the top five results for a search like “2008 oregon voters guide” (It was number four today, just after two hits from the state and one from OregonLive.)

That’s right, BlueOregon, Loaded Orygun, Willamette Week, Tribune, Mercury, etc. etc. etc., the computers at Google think the endorsements of a left wing hockey nut from Portland are more important than yours.

But bogus puffery aside, I do think blog endorsements are important, and it’s great that some campaigns are starting to take notice and even tout them. They might as well, since they frequently list hundreds of individual supporters.

So kudos to Ben Westlund’s campaign staff (Westlund is the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer) for touting blog endorsements of his campaign, including mine.

Even if my endorsement consisted of a single sentence fragment: “State Treasurer: Ben Westlund”.

But there it is, about 2/3 down the page, in between International Union of Operating Engineers Local 701 and Homer Williams.

Give a middle-aged, mediocre defenseman the keys to a digital printing press, and look at the kind of company he starts to keep.

You can’t make this shit up

by Steve, October 17th, 2008

Mr. McCain brought his campaign to Florida on Friday, a state that he must win but where he has been losing ground to Mr. Obama in recent polls. Campaigning with him was Senator Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, who tried to appeal to Cuban-Americans in the audience by trying to say “Joe the Plumber” in Spanish.

From the New York Times.

Killer African Dwarf Frog

by Steve, September 1st, 2008

MIchigan J. Frog

When we first got an aquarium this summer, it was sold to me (who is seriously done with pets, save for perhaps one cat) as a source of tranquility.

We even discussed the ultimate disposition of creatures that met their timely demise (burial at sea was deemed too undignified). Untimely demise was not even a consideration.

Pretty soon, one aquarium just wasn’t enough. A second tank was brought online with a surprising mix of residents: two guppies (Chloe and Aladdin), a large snail (Bob), and a tiny little African Dwarf Frog.

Oh, how cute! The frog was quickly nicknamed Michigan J. Frog, for the singing Warner Bros. frog. He was alternately named Googly and Arthur.

Too cute for words, and personality galore!

The aquariums are great for teaching young children life lessons. Like asexual reproduction. Bob managed to, uh, impregnate him/herself, and spawned Alex. Discussions were had with the aquarium guy, who acknowledged that snails are considered pests. A Web search produced the helpful advice of smashing the little buggers against the glass with a pencil (don’t use your fingers, lest you get cut and incubate some kind of crazy tropical fish infection).

There were also some suggestions that the baby snails might get eaten by other aquarium dwellers, so maybe it wouldn’t be a problem.

In fact, one tiny baby snail that came after Alex seems to have disappeared. Guppies? Frog? Who cares… At least we didn’t have to do the deed.

Anyway, other than that, it’s been all love and light in the frog tank, with little Michigan J. Frog entertaining daily with his little song and dance routines.

He seems to have grown a bit, and keeps getting wedged behind the heater and the filter tube.

So imagine my surprise late last night to glance into this little ecosystem and see little Michigan J. Frog seeming to struggle with something. I figured he was just wedged again, but a closer look revealed him thrashing Aladdin about, apparently trying to gulp him down.

It was like catching a guard dog killing a chicken or something. Really crazy, I’m telling you.

Since he couldn’t swallow the thing whole (it was clearly dead at this point), he started swimming to the surface with it. He dropped it, and it sunk to the bottom, where it landed, upside down, in a plant, its tattered fins flapping in the current.

Had I glanced over at this point, and not 30 seconds before, I would have guessed the fish just died. Michigan J. was back to his goofy self.

I told Wacky Mommy about this, and she decreed that I must flush Aladdin and never speak of it it to the children. So much for the earlier “no burial at sea” decree.

Of course some more Internet searching revealed that yes, African Dwarf Frogs do indeed eat guppies, particularly their fry (which might explain why Chloe, who appeared pregnant, then not pregnant, then pregnant again, never seemed to actually have any babies).

The things the guys at the aquarium store don’t tell you!

Walking the talk at the St. Johns Parade

by Steve, May 10th, 2008

The first installment of photos from the St. Johns parade: candidates walking their talk (or not).

Fritz Walked
Fritz walked.

Fish walked
Fish walked.

Bissonnette walked
Bissonnette walked.

Branam walked, too (sorry, no picture). But what about Chris “Streetcar” Smith, the guy who wants to cut our carbon footprint in half by replicating the Pearl district on the east side?

Chris Smith rode
Smith got a ride.

Say what?!?

Is that a Prius, Chris?

I don’t think so!

Chris Smith's ride
But it’s okay, he’s sharing the road with bikes. You can’t make this stuff up, folks!

Mayor Potter
The Mayor rode, but he hitched a ride with the convertible club. Plus, he’s a real dignitary.

Sam Adams
The Mayor-in-Waiting, rode, too. It was good to see him looking so comfortable mixing it up with the regular folk. “Hi neighbor! Hi neighbor!” he called, trying really hard to smile. Or at least not grimace.

Next installment: Clowns for Christ. I’m not kidding. What a great day for a parade!


by Steve, April 9th, 2008

Rat Log

I used to be a produce guy. For around ten years, I worked at co-ops and natural foods stores, including the predecessor to New Seasons Markets, Nature’s fresh! Northwest.

While at Nature’s, I agitated for the union, of course, and had a run-in with current New Seasons president Brian Rohter. But I’m not here to talk about anti-union grocery store magnates today.

Back in ’96, Nature’s had a different kind of rat.

The Nature’s store I worked at was in an ancient, poorly maintained building on SW Corbett St. in John’s Landing. There was a crawl space under the wavy fir floors, with ready access to the great outdoors. Combine access to lots of high quality food with the great flood of 1996, which drove herds of river rats off of nearby Ross Island and into the neighborhoods, and you get a serious infestation.

The exterminator placed traps (but no poison), and insisted that staff keep a sighting log (162KB PDF), detailing every sighting, as well as every kill. Kills were denoted with Mickey Mouse ears. At its best, the log, spanning nearly three months, reads like black comedy. At its worst, it’s a shocking expose of the rats I once worked with.

Here’s a transcription of the log:

Sighting Log

4/2 puffed ceral eaten
4/4 puffed cereal eaten, Great Harvest white bread, too
4/5 Abiqua Rye bread eaten
4/7 Bean sprout mix attacked produce walkin
4/9 Puffed cereal again
4/10 Rice cake attack
4/11 one culprit D.O.A.! Bulk
4/13 another one apprehended! and another one too!
4/14 nectar nuggets were re-discovered
4/15 puffed corn eaten
4/17 puffed rice eaten and 10 grain cereal
4-21 Hole located between produce rack & plactic recycling literally smelled a rat
4-19 Polenta tube found by customer eaten out
4-23 Arborio Rice Bag Chewed Open
4-23 Caught two Broom Closet Many more to go!
4-23 Abiqua bread eaten
4-23 potato in produce eaten
4-23 scared one that was absconding w/ cliff bar by candy rack
4-24 another one bites it in the broom closet
4-24 abiqua bread eaten
4-24 Ate through lids on yogurt in free box in produce cooler
4-25 another casualty in the broom closet and another loaf of abiqua bread
4/26 cuke tasted on top left shelf of produce cooler
4-27 Cliff bars keep disappearing
4-28,29 + 5-1 abiqua breads hit
5-3 caught one by candy rack
5-6 two caught — one by candy rack — back half of bady was missing!? one by bulk Peanut Butter machine — it was huge! Moby Rat!
5-12 Happy Mother’s day! Caught one behind bulk honey the trap ended up on the other side of the pnt btr machine Good size one too!! (Threw this trap away — messy, messy)
5-28-96 Corner of Lundberg Rice bag eaten & nibbled on, in addition to the one eaten sat, 5-25
6-9 Large (8″ body, 7″ tail) Rat found mired in a sticky trap behind Weinhard beer stacks, next to cheese case very much alive! Killed by a totally traumatized pg manager with a shovel. Couldn’t find the valium in the medicine cabinet either.
6-13-96 il riso Berretta arborio rice — eaten by one of our furry friends with good taste — un tolpo grande!
6-20 4 (yes, 4) Rats caught under candy rack need more sticky traps

No comment department

by Steve, April 24th, 2006

I was going to blog about having a sinus infection and post a recipe for onion soup for the sick, but I’ll let Wacky Mommy cover that. I found this story today that just defies belief.

From WLEX TV in Lexington, Kentucky (emphasis added):

A Letcher County woman suffered a horrible injury early Thursday when her arm was severed in a car crash on the Mountain Parkway in Clark County.

Jacqueline Dotson and her six-year-old daughter had to be cut out of their vehicle after the accident in which Dotson veered into the median and over-corrected, rolling her truck over the guardrail and landing upside down after flipping several times.

Several people stopped to help, and it turns out, the good samaritans may very well have saved Dotson’s life. Sheila Vice, a nurse’s aide, and an off-duty EMT from another county stopped to help, and put a tourniquet on Dotson’s arm to stop the bleeding. Her arm was found near the accident still clutching a cell phone.

“Basically we stayed there and talked to them until the EMT drivers got there,” said Vice.

Rescuers used the jaws of life to get the Dotson and her daughter out of the truck. Both were flown to hospitals, and Dotson is listed in serious condition at UK Hospital. Her daughter is not in the hospital, and sheriff’s officials say they believe she’s going to be fine.

Both were wearing seat belts.